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Dems Swarm Iowa Ahead of First Big Political Event in 2020 Race; Violent Protests In Hong Kong Over China's Extradition Bill; Mexico Tariff Threat Can Be Brought Back; US Embassies Not Allowed To Fly Rainbow Pride Flags. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 9, 2019 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:39] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks for joining me. I'm Alex Marquardt in for Fredricka Whitfield.

Happening right now, the biggest political event yet in the 2020 race is under way. You're looking at live pictures from the Half of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where 19 of the 23 presidential candidates are set to start speaking just moments from now. The candidates are getting creative trying to get attention of the Iowa's voters. Beto O'Rouke's team is handing out flyers in exchange for free tacos, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was spotted playing the piano on stage, and then there was a moment where Bernie Sanders ended his march in a crowd of Kamala Harris supporters.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!.


MARQUARDT: But a key contender missing from that crowd today is front-runner Joe Biden. The former vice president has sent his regrets from missing this major event. He's attending his granddaughter's graduation.

Biden's absence comes right as a brand-new poll from CNN and the Des Moines Register shows the former VP is in the top slot, in that key state with 24 percent. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all three in a virtual three-way tie for second place. Senator Kamala Harris comes in fifth with 7 percent before there's a sharp drop in the rest field.

Today, several of the lower polling candidates in that poll are confident there's plenty of room and plenty of time to close that gap.


SEN, BERNIE SANDER (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to get 50 percent of the vote in Iowa. I don't think anybody will. I think we have an excellent chance to win here. We're going to win in New Hampshire, and I think we have a very strong chance of being the candidate who will defeat the worst president in the modern history of this country, Donald Trump.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know that this many months out from the caucuses in Iowa that these polls really indicate what our prospects are. If I relied on polls in any race that I'd returns, I never would have been able to serve in United States Congress. We never would have tried to take on Ted Cruz.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got a long campaign ahead of us. I've always been a Vikings fan and i can't tell you how many games, Margaret, where the Vikings were leading in the first quarter and go on to not quite make it. So I think you see a fluid race. And, yes, there are a lot of candidates and you're going to see that narrowed down over time. I'm clearly on the debate stage and expect to be there in the fall, and I think that's going to give opportunity to voters in Iowa and all across the country to really narrow it down.

STEVE BULLOCK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We still have 240 days before Iowans first express their preferences in the caucus. So we're certainly disappointed this week when we heard they wouldn't count one of the polls but if I had to choose between chasing 100,000 voters and getting healthcare for 100,000 Montanans like I just did, I would make that choice for healthcare each and every day. I think we still have a long way to go before this thing is decided.


MARQUARDT: For more on this major event, let's go to old Iowa hand, CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Cedar Rapids at the dinner. Jeff, you know this state and the voters well. How important is it for their speech which as we've noted is just five minutes long? How important is it for these candidates?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alex, good afternoon. You see a lot of candidates there trying to, you know, explain away their poor showings in the polls and they are all correct. We're eight months before the first balloting begins in 2020.

Here at the Iowa caucuses, you can probably hear the rally behind me here as candidates walk in. But it's also is to, that these candidates need to begin to make their mark, the candidates right now who have been out here for a long time, for months and months, who still are really not showing up in the polls at all. That's a challenge for them, particularly because of the big field.

But, Alex, this is an important moment here today because all candidates are introducing themselves as a critical activist. Senator Cory Booker who has been campaigning in Iowa a lot, he is just at 1 percent or so in our new poll. He's going to be speaking first followed by 18 other candidates.

So no, these candidates cannot sort of win people over in five-minute speeches, but they certainly can show that they are committed to campaigning here, that they can excite the crowd. So that is largely what this event is today, the beginning of an organizing effort to show that these campaigns have strength and are organizing.

[15:05:09] But, Alex, one thing we are watching here as we talk to voters and others. How strong is Joe Biden's support, how strong of a front-runner is he actually, and there are signs that, there are some questions about that. And the fact he is not here today certainly heightens that. But, Alex, he will be here on Tuesday when both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, also a candidate in this 2020 race, will both be in Iowa on the same day. Alex?

MARQUARDT: All right, the passion of those Iowa voters very apparent. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

With me now to drill down into this a little bit deeper, our Karen Finney, she's a former Senior Spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign and a CNN Political Commentator as well as Charlie Dent who is a former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania and as well a CNN Political Commentator. Thank you both for joining me.


MARQUARDT: Now, Karen, let's start with you. As Jeff just noted, Joe Biden, the front-runner, by around eight points in this latest Iowa poll by more in the national poll. He's not attending this event. How important do you think it is, this moment, for the other 19 candidates to take advantage there in Cedar Rapids?

FINNEY: Well, it certainly gives, I mean, as you -- as we could all hear, this is a very fun, raucous event with activists, and they -- and in Iowa, as in all the early states in particular, people take this very seriously. People will really be listening to see. I think, it will be hard by the time he gets the number 18 or 19, but people want to hear what the candidates have to say.

I'd say for right now, Vice President Biden is fine. I'll tell you that the key thing is going to be his organizational capacity on the ground. It's how -- how are you, you know, getting those people who already to caucus for you, do you have the right people on the ground? Are you building your infrastructure? Are you able to, you know, keep growing that base of support? That's what's real critical for him.

MARQUARDT: And, Charlie, there are lot of Democrats coming out after Joe Biden, very hard in the past week. One of the biggest things that he had to fix was his prior support for the Hyde Amendment which, as you know, bans federal funds for abortion. He reversed that several days ago. But as a front-runner, as he tries to fend off these other 22 candidates, Charlie, do expect Biden to be targeted every step of the way for each one of these missteps?

CHARLES DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do believe that the vice president or former president will be targeted. They are going to try to pull him as far left as they can. I thought the vice president, his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment may help him in the Iowa caucuses. But it's going to hurt him in Scranton, Pennsylvania and throughout the broader Midwest, because Republicans in Alabama and Georgia have gone very extreme on the abortion issue doesn't mean that the Democrats should go extreme, too. Every one of those Democrats in Congress who is running for president has voted for the Hyde Amendment in appropriations bills. In fact, they are going to get a chance to do it again this week, in the House, the House candidates running will vote for that. So I think the vice president may have helped himself a little bit in the short term but it's not going to pass the Scranton test.

MARQUARDT: One of the names that I think some might find surprising who was in the top five in this Iowa poll was Pete Buttigieg. I mean, he was up there with Biden, Warren and Sanders. He talked about his bump in the polls. Let's take a listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now we've still got some work to do to get people used to the idea of a millenial midwestern mayor running for president. Oh, it's not quite as exotic as people thought it was in January if the polls are anything to go by. Turns out people are ready for a mayor because we want to get Washington to start working more like our best-run cities instead of the other way around.


MARQUARDT: Karen, a midwestern mayor campaigning in the Midwest. Do you think he has a point there?

FINNEY: He sure does. And I'll tell what you this poll suggests to me is that these candidates, their organizations are working the way they should be which is to say that the more they are there as candidates on the ground campaigning and the more voters get a chance to learn about them, the more, as I mentioned before, their infrastructure, their organization is doing outreach to people there on the ground.

You're going to continue to see -- I think there's going to be a lot of flexibility and volatility in these numbers over the next several months because, again, the more voters get to know more of the candidates, obviously Vice President Biden and Senator Sanders come in with very high name recognition, but the more people get to know some of other candidates I think you're going to continue, if people are doing their jobs well, you will continue to see them do very well and Mayor Pete is someone that people in the Democratic Party are excited by.

MARQUARDT: And Iowa voters take their jobs very seriously as the first in the nation. They are going to caucus in eight months. And one of the things that seems to be uniting all Democratic voters across the spectrum in Iowa and elsewhere this year is that, they are repeatedly saying, we saw this borne out in the Iowa poll, that they are more focused on Defeating Trump than on actually someone who shares their views.

[15:10:11] Look at these numbers, 65 percent saying it's more important to nominate a candidate who can win in 2020 and beat Donald Trump than -- against 31 percent who say it's more important to nominate someone who shares their position. So, Charlie, how do you read that?

DENT: Well, I think that poll finding suggests that Joe Biden is in good position. He has broad support, sometimes I question how deep it is. And as long as this field remains has large as it is, about to you dozen people running, i think that accrues to Joe Biden's benefit. Until these field windows out a bit, then we'll see how strong Joe Biden really is. Because I still think the primary voters want a new fresh face and one of these people will break through.

That will be the real test to Joe Biden. He can still win this primary but I think a lot of Democrats want a new faces and they think one of these new faces can also beat Donald Trump. They don't believe that Joe Biden is the only who has the ability to beat him.

MARQUARDT: Well, there are lots of new faces out there. Karen Finney, Charlie Dent, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks very much.

FINNEY: Thanks.

MARQUARDT: All right. Still ahead, protests in the streets of Hong Kong tonight. Organizers are saying that more than a million people are out there fighting against a new controversial law. The demonstrations turning violent, we will take you there live.

And then later, more tariff talk from the White House while an 11th hour deal was struck with Mexico. There are new signs today that tariffs are not necessarily off the table. More on that coming up.


[15:15:11] MARQUARDT: We are continuing to follow breaking news out of Hong Kong where a massive demonstration has been taking place. Organizers say that more than a million people have been filling the streets protest a controversial new bill about extradition. Some of these protests turned violent as police have been using batons and pepper spray against those demonstrators.


The US State Department is saying that it is concerned with this new bill and it's closely watching as the protests unfold. I want to go to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout who is out in the streets of Hong Kong.

Kristie, Hong Kong as we know is famously semiautonomous. This bill would give China more power, why is it angering so many?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONA NEWS ANCHOR: Because they feel it will challenge the autonomy of Hong Kong, and also people here have very little faith in the leadership and fear that the extradition will would be abused and be used to send critics of Beijing into Mainland China where they would not be able to have a fair trial.

And that's why we saw the scenes earlier on Sunday, this massive protest. But now the situation here at 3:30 am hearing, in the morning here in Hong Kong has become much more promises last time we spoke. Hong Kong police have succeeded of pushing the protesters away from the Hong Kong Legislative Council Building. Since then we have been seeing a number of minor clashes break out between protesters and police.

One happening over here and that is dissipated. RKHK, a local state government broadcaster is reporting similar clashes, even the use of pepper spray in another district, Wan Chai, about ten minutes away. Everything came to a head in about the last couple of hours or so. That was when according to the Hong Kong police, they told CNN that the hard core members of the protest movement used metal barricades to attack the police and the police as you responded with pepper gas as well with batons.

The Hong Kong Police have issued a statement. They said chief police officers have been injured. Also the RKHK, they are reporting that additional protesters and journalists were also injured in the melee. We'll learn more details on that when the Hong Kong Police have a press conference on Monday.

But this follows a different scene that we saw in Sunday, a largely peaceful demonstration, a massive demonstration, that Hong Kong Police estimate was about 200,000 people plus taking to the streets to protest this extradition bill. Organizers say that the number is closer to over 1 million people, which when you look at the drone video, the aerial footage of the people walking through this city, a major international finance hub, you just cannot just be (ph).

You have to just see what happened (ph) on Sunday. This major city basically stopped, was at a standstill because of people power on the street expressing themselves so fervently against this proposal legislation. Alex, back to you.

MARQUARDT: All right. That seem calmer, the situation clearly far from over. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, thank you.

Coming up next, Democrats are flooding Iowa right now, hoping to sway voters in the first big presidential contest of 2020. I'll be speaking with candidate Marianne Williamson about how she hopes to break through the crowded field. That's after this break.


[15:22:11] MARQUARDT: A brand new CNN Iowa Poll is shedding light on how voters in that state are feeling about the now very crowded Democratic presidential field.

Joe Biden is still on top, but his lead is shrinking. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all vying for second place. This poll comes as 19 of the 23 candidates are swarming Iowa this weekend for the Hall of Fame Dinner which is the first big political event of 2020 election.

You're looking at live pictures of that event which just got under way, and that's where we find our next guest, Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. Marianne, thanks so much for joining us.


MARQUARDT: All right. You are now in a room with some of Iowa's most passionate voters. We are out along with the Des Moines Register with a new poll. We have vice president Joe Biden at the top of the field with 24 percent, but you're not registering in that poll. How are you going to be able to fix that?

WILLIAMSON: Well, you know, it all has to do with getting out there, being around voters and being able to raise enough money. You know, when you have millions of dollars in your campaign coffers, that's what make a lot of that stuff happen.

But I know what's happening on the ground. I know how what's happening when I am talking to people, how my campaign is relating to voters. So this is far early in the process and a lot of people seem to realize.

You look at past campaigns, there are a lot of people who have become president of the United States who at this point weren't registering and nobody was even knowing who they were. So when you're in there and you're out there with voters and you see where the energy is, we're doing just fine.

MARQUARDT: That's a long way to go before the Iowa -- for the Iowa caucuses next year.

WILLIAMSON: Absolutely.

MARQUARDT: This is a very crowded field as we've noted, 20 -- if you're 1 of 23 candidates, it makes it real challenging for anyone to have their message stand out above the others especially when there are so many people competing for such a limited amount of space. And you don't have a long political history like so many, as we were looking at that screen, do. So how are doing things differently? How are you delivering your message differently?

WILLIAMSON: Well, I don't know if I'm delivering my message differently but I have a different message. I'm talking about the fact that we have become rather than a democracy an aristocracy. The government does more to benefit a small group of Americans rather than millions and millions and millions of us.

We have millions of American children who are living in chronic trauma, and they are dispar simply normalized. We have a situation where we have an agenda of national security that does not have to do with wage increase. It has to do with endless preparations for war. We have a situation with healthcare where although we do talk about how to pay for healthcare, we're not talking about all the environmental policies, food policies, chemical policies and so forth which are making many of us sick.

So there's -- anybody who hears me knows I'm talking about things not everybody is talking about because I'm having a more deep and more real, more brutally honest conversation with Americans about what I feel we need to look at. And I think that Americans are far more adult. [15:25:04] You know, the political establishment keeps the conversation very shallow and superficial sometimes, and I think the American people are ready to have a far more sophisticated, adult, mature recognition of where we've really gone wrong in this country and what we need to do to make things right.

MARQUARDT: And one of the conversations that we have been having over the past week is certainty as it relates to Joe Biden, is women's right to choose. The former vice president recently reversed in the past few days his position on the Hyde Amendment which as you know bars federal funding for abortions in most cases. What do you make of his change of heart, his reversal?

WILLIAMSON: Joe Biden, you'll have to excuse me. So much is going on down here. I don't know if you can still hear me. But Joe Biden has a right to change his mind. The voters have to decide for themselves what that means that he didn't used to think it was OK, that there was a discriminatory practice towards women. But then on the other hand, people transform. I'm not out here to put down other candidates. I'm out here to present the view of things I am for (inaudible).

MARQUARDT: Well, we can still hear you, that just goes to show how passionate that state is and how seriously they do take their role. But, Marianne, what are you hearing most from voters, particularly in Iowa?

WILLIAMSON: I'm seeing a lot of excitement. You know, people in Iowa are very, very aware of the power that they hold. You know, it's not a dog and pony show. It's their vote that's going to determine who wins the Iowa caucus.

So they know how powerful they are. They know how important their vote is. And what I get from voters is they are listening very, very deeply, and they don't really care who you are, what your title is. They care what your ideas are about America.

We have to counter a politics of fear with the politics of love. We have to recognize all the ways that our economic system and our governmental system has swerved from deep democratic values and from deep humanitarian values. And what I hear is a deep listening.

When I talk about these things, I'm feeling that people are really listening very deeply. I'm -- otherwise, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be doing this unless I knew that there was something going on here.

You know, last time, the political establishment didn't recognize how angry people were. This year, you know what they don't recognize? What they don't recognize this year is how exhausted people are by the fighting and how ready people are for more upliftment (ph) and inspiration and love, and that's what I'm delivering.

MARQUARDT: But to that point, because they are so exhausted, Democrats that is, that they are focusing for how -- they are focusing as polls are showing us more than anything else, on someone who can beat Donald Trump. People in that room, people in the campaign trail, they talk about a whole range of issues which you've just mentioned. But more often they are not, the number one issue is someone who can win in the next election so why do you think you can beat President Trump?

WILLIAMSON: People who think that what we need is somebody who is tough enough to beat Trump, a very naive about the nature of the opponent. Donald Trump has had a long career harnessing fear. I've had a long career inspiring love.

What he has done is more than political strategy can counter. What he has done is has gotten into a piece of the brain inside people, a piece of the psyche inside people which is a primal power of fear, and the only thing that can override that is the primal power of love.

I'm the one who has had a 35-year career harnessing the power of love. Everybody is aware of what he has done, but I'm the only candidate who has some awareness about how he has done it. And so, I think that love is the only thing that can override what this man has done.

Anybody who thinks that it's just political strategy, and getting enough money, and mobilizing, all the traditional things that we think, you know, what Democrats don't understand is that the part of the brain that rationally analyzes an issue is not the same part of the brain that decides who to vote for. So if you're just going to give the American people a rational argument that's not going to defeat Donald Trump.

What we need to do is to raise the conversation to greater inspiration, to a greater depth of understanding of what America means, what our history is, what started here in 1776, what has been bequeathed to us, how we're swerved from those things. That is what I've done. That is what I have a long career doing.

Politicians have a long career of what goes on in Washington. I have a long career of what goes on inside people And that's what sometimes the Washington establishment does not understand. That's why they make the mistakes so often in public policy and that's why also they make big mistakes in not getting re-elected because they are tone deaf to what's going on inside people and I have an experience there.

MARQUARDT: All right. Marianne Williamson, and the primal power of love, thanks very much. Good luck out there too.

WILLIAMSON: Yes. Thank you very much. Thank you.

[15:29:48] MARQUARDT: All right. And we'll have more right after this break.


MARQUARDT: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is warning that the threat of sweeping tariffs against Mexico could be brought back if the country doesn't live up to its pledge to stem the flow of migrants to the southern U.S. border.

Mnuchin was attending a G-20 finance meeting when he told CNBC, "I have every reason to believe they will meet their commitment, so I think that will be the case, but if for whatever reason they don't, the President reserves the right to put on tariffs."

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that the deal with Mexico is maybe not so new. "The Times," citing sources, said that many of the actions agreed to in the deal were actually hammered out long before, months before Friday's deadline, including its pledge to send troops to the border with Guatemala which the paper reports was agreed to back in march.

I want to bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez from the White House. Boris, the President is pushing back on that report on Twitter today that these are warmed-over ideas even teasing something, one thing he said that hasn't been revealed. What's the White House saying?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Alex. The White House originally declined to comment on this "New York Times" story. The President ended up sending out a spree of tweets about it this morning, the President insisting that he deserves more credit for this agreement than he's been given.

He suggests that previous administrations trying to get portions on these agreement on books with Mexico but they couldn't and he could. He also hinted that there's a portion of it that has yet to be revealed, unclear what that is at this point. But there are others in the administration that are backing up the President on this suggesting that his threat of tariffs is really what got Mexico to the negotiating table.

Listen to what the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, said on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.


[20:35:06] KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The President put a charge in this whole dialogue with Mexico, with the tariff threat, brought them to the table. The foreign minister from Mexico arrived within hours. He arrived the next day with real proposals on the table.

This is the first time we've heard anything like this kind of number of law enforcement being deployed in Mexico to address migration, not just at the southern border but also on the transportation routes to the northern border and in coordinated patrols and key areas along our southwest borders.


SANCHEZ: On that threat from Steve Mnuchin or a reference to the threat of tariffs that they may still be at play here, keep in mind, there's still 90 days where these two sides, the Mexican government and Trump administration, are going to continue trying to hash out further agreements to try to stem the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States. So it's really not a surprise to see the administration kind of hanging this over the Mexican government's head. Still, let's not forget the President has been very aggressive when it comes to Mexico and other Central American nations on the issue of immigration.

Just a few months ago he threatened to shutdown the entire southern border until he was eventually talked out of it. This is something the President is likely going to keep returning to, because it's a central issue.

As a candidate, he wanted to appear very aggressive on immigration. You'll recall back in 2015 when he rode down the escalator and said that some Mexicans were rapists and thieves. And now going into 2020, it's really something that he wants to drive home among his supporters, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, still a pretty fluid situation. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

MARQUARDT: Now, still ahead, the White House is denying requests for U.S. embassies to raise a rainbow flag for Pride Month, but some of those embassies and consulates are finding creative ways around that. More coming up next.


[20:40:35] MARQUARDT: It is Pride Month, and Washington's Pride Parade on Saturday came to an abrupt end with crowds running from what they thought was gunfire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get in here. Get in here. Get in here. Get in here now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just chaos.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone has a gun.


MARQUARDT: After several minutes of panic, police were able to secure the area. Seven parade-goers were injured while running away, as you saw there. One man was arrested for the possession of a handgun, but police say there's no evidence that any shots were fired. Police canceled the rest of the parade, but other pride activities went on as planned. Now, some US embassies are finding ways around the State Department's refusal to let them fly rainbow flags from their flag poles in honor of Pride Month. One source told CNN that approval to fly the flag has been routine during Pride Month. But the requests were denied this year from multiple embassies.

So the Embassy in Berlin, the ambassador, Richard Grenell who is gay, plans to hang a huge banner on the side of the building. In New Delhi, India, the embassy is lit up in rainbow colors. And a website for the US Embassy in Chile features pictures of its president raising the rainbow flag.

For more, let's bring in Sam Vinograd, former senior adviser to the national security adviser under President Obama. Sam, we saw the President a couple days ago put out a statement supporting Pride Month. Do you have any sense of why the administration now feels the need to reject these requests for embassies and missions around the world?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Alex, the President tweets about a lot and it doesn't carry whole lot of water. In this case, this was a State Department decision. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has authority over our missions around the world, whether those be embassies or consulates.

And under the Obama administration, there was guidance that embassies and consulates could fly the gay pride flag. That authority was delegated to the chief of mission, the ambassador of the consul general, to do what he or she thought was appropriate in their particular country.

Secretary of State Pompeo made a decision to proactively end that policy and to send instructions to all missions around the world that the gay pride flag was not to be flown externally at our missions around the world, that was Secretary of State Pompeo.

Honestly, Alex, doing something that's in line with many of his past comments on the LGBTI community and elections have consequences. President Trump appointed someone, nominated someone who is very public and very strong views on the LGBTI community, secretary of state, and now we're seeing the impact of that decision.

MARQUARDT: Sam, you spent a lot of time in these embassies. Those who have found a "work-around," like the ones we were just mentioning, do you think that they'll face some kind of consequences from Pompeo and the State Department back in D.C.?

VINOGRAD: I doubt that. But what it does say, Alex, is that Secretary of State Pompeo is completely out of touch with so many of the people that work for him. I worked with three separate secretaries of state, they tended to want to listen to what their staff had to say. They tended to what to listen to what their diplomats on the ground felt was important.

And the secretary here is saying that his personal views are trumping those of the people that are working for him overseas and doing really important work. I think that's going to impact morale at the State Department and it's going to impact the ability of the State Department to be taken credibly on advancing an agenda that protects LGBTI rights when everybody knows that the secretary decided not to allow his own team to fly the flag.

MARQUARDT: Yes, the State Department generally having quite a progressive policy when it comes to its gay officers. Sam Vinograd, thank you so much for your insight.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right, now, 2020 Democrats are descending on Iowa, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. We'll be speaking with her after the break.


[20:47:54] MARQUARDT: Right now in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, nearly every Democratic presidential candidate is in attendance for the biggest political event to date called in the 2020 races called the Hall of Fame Dinner.

19 of the out of the 23 presidential hopeful, yes, that's right, 23, they're all speaking and driving home their message of why they are best equipped to take on President Donald Trump.

One of those candidates is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.


MARQUARDT: Now, senator, you are 1 of 19 who are about to take that stage. You're about to speak, but you've only got five minutes up there. So what are you going to be focusing are on?

GILLIBRAND: I'm going to talk about my vision for the country and why we need to be brave in this moment, that we need a president who will do the right things for the right reasons, who will go through fire to do what's right. And I'm going to talk about my history, the fact that I got elected in a 2-1 Republican district, that the highest vote percentage in New York State's history and I just won back 18 Trump counties.

MARQUARDT: One of the major issues back in Washington is immigration, of course, and this trade deal with Mexico. We saw the President announce on Friday night that he is suspending the threat of tariffs with the expectation that Mexico is going to be keeping asylum seekers in that country while their claims are processed.

They also said that they'll be sending national guards troops to the southern border there, southern border that is. And in the wake of that, we heard House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting the way that that deal was worked out by threatening tariffs in what is essentially immigration issues. She said it was undermining America's preeminent leadership role in the world. Do you agree with Speaker Pelosi? GILLIBRAND: I do. I think what President Trump has done is misused the tariffs and our trade agenda by trying to get other issues done like immigration. It is harming our economy. In Iowa today, we know that these trade wars, whether it was going to be with Mexico or the one he has right now with China, are really hurting our producers.

Iowa exports corn, soybeans, pork, ethanol, and when markets are obstructed because of tariffs and starting trade wars, it means they're going out of business. It's also hurt our manufacturers.

[20:50:11] So the problem with President Trump is he doesn't actually have a strategy. He is someone who wants to fight for fight reasons, and not actually to get something done.

MARQUARDT: One of the things that has helped certain state's economies around the country is the legalization of marijuana, which you are in favor of. In fact, you just unveiled a plan to legalize marijuana, and you want to expand research into medical marijuana and to make sure that it's covered by both private health insurers as well as federal programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Why are you focusing on this issue?

GILLIBRAND: A number of reasons. I think we need to do it for the health benefits, that's why we need to deschedule marijuana. We want to do it for the criminal justice reasons, which is why we have to decriminalize marijuana. And we want to make it fully legal so that we can have the benefits, the economic benefits, of recreational use.

But my broad-based legislation and ideas covers the investment and the equity issues that we want to make sure if black communities have been disproportionately harmed because of our enforcement in our criminal justice system and the institutional racism there, then we need to make sure that black America has an opportunity to not only be investors, but to be producers and to be distributors.

And so my idea encompasses not just the deregulation and the descheduling and the decriminalization, but it also encompasses this investment in communities that have been left behind and been harmed by our racist policies.

MARQUARDT: And in addition to the legalization of marijuana, one of the other major issues, not just for Republicans but for Democrats, of course, is abortion rights. And that was in the news this week with Joe Biden, the former vice president, reversing his position on the Hyde Amendment, which as you know bars federal funding for abortions in most cases. For years he supported it and last week he reversed course. So what do you make of this reversal? Do you think it's genuine or political?

GILLIBRAND: Well, he was wrong and I'm glad that he listened. My perspective on this is really clear. I've been a fighter for women's rights my entire public service time. I will not only codify Roe, but I won't nominate a judge or a justice who doesn't believe that Roe v. Wade is precedent.

I will repeal the Hyde Amendment and I will guarantee that no matter what state you live in, all 50 states that you have access to the full range of reproductive services, including abortion, no matter what state you live in.

MARQUARDT: Despite Biden's stumbles, if you will, over the past week, he is still is very much in the lead both in terms of the national polls and Iowa polling. The new CNN polling showing that his lead is 24 percent to around 15 percent for those. Yes, you can see Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg there, essentially in a three-way tie behind Biden, but that lead is narrowing.

Senator, you pulled less than 1 percent in Iowa in the same poll. Why do you think that the message that you are taking to the Iowa voters at that dinner and all across the state is not resonating better?

GILLIBRAND: I believe my message is resonating and this is so early. We are in a marathon, we are in the in a sprint. And if you look at history, the person who is ahead today is not the one who wins tomorrow. So, I feel really good about our message and I feel great about our grassroots campaign, because I campaign everywhere, because I will represent everyone, no matter where they live, no matter who they are and no matter who they love.

MARQUARDT: But, Senator, when you listen to Democratic voters and they say that the single-most important thing is, in the next election, is to defeat Donald Trump. How can you convince them to support you when you are polling so low in national and Iowa polls?

GILLIBRAND: Because I know how to win, and I've won my entire career. Not only did I win a 2-1 Republican district twice, but the last time it was by a 24-point margin. I've never lost those 10 counties since and win them even greater. And in my last election in 2018, I won back 18 counties that went to President Trump. So I can win. I can also bring this country together.

The one thing I excel at is passing bipartisan legislation, big bills like the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the 9/11 health bill. But also small bills like the 18 bills I passed in the last Congress that President Trump even signed, even though I bet he doesn't know he signed them, common sense stuff like money for rural broadband or for small businesses.

MARQUARDT: All right. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you very much, and good luck at the dinner today.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right, stay with us. We will continue to speak with some of the candidates who are sweeping Iowa today as part of that Hall of Fame Dinner. Coming up at 6:00 pm, we have New York Mayor Dill de Blasio. He will join Ana Cabrera. And then at 8:00 pm, she will also be speaking one-on-one with former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. That's all ahead right here on CNN.


[20:58:52] MARQUARDT: W. Kamau Bell is back with a new episode of "United Shades of America" tonight. He is in Milwaukee to find out how implicit bias can shape racist views that you may not even be aware off. Take a look.


JOHN DIAMOND, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON PROFESSOR: A lot of the research out there is focused on sort of racial attitudes. And I ask people in surveys, are you racist and people basically say no.

KAMAU BELL, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" HOST: 100 percent of people aren't racist.


BELL: So I'm having one last black cool meeting with University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor John Diamond, an expert on the subject.

I was not familiar with the term implicit bias until about four years ago.


BELL: Because something happened to me, and it was later described to me as implicit bias. I was just calling it racism.


BELL: Can you talk about what that means and even where that comes from?

DIAMOND: Yes. So, Mahzarin Banaji and Tony Greenwald established Project Implicit about 20 years ago. So what they were trying to figure out is what's going on in people's minds before they're able to think about what's the socially responsible answer, right?

BELL: Yes.

DIAMOND: And so the way to think about implicit bias is you don't have to necessarily dislike people of other races to be affected by it, right? It's in everything that you do. Somebody walks in the door and it's a man, you have some assumptions about what that means. And we've also make conditioned to not talk about it, right?


MARQUARDT: You can watch an all-new episode of "United Shades of America" tonight at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.