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INSIDE POLITICS

Sanders: Democratic Socialist Label Isn't A Liability; Sanders and Warren Share Liberal Lane As 2020 Heats Up; Beto O'Rourke Calls Biden A "Return to the Past"; Hispanic Vote Projected to be Largest 2020 Minority Voting Bloc; Report: Sen. Manchin Considering Running for Governor; Hickenlooper: The Senate Doesn't Attract Me At This Point. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Are wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is it a liability?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think so, and I'll tell you why. Look, you know, I certainly know Elizabeth for many, many years when she's a freshman --

COOPER: And she said she's a capitalist.

SANDERS: Yes, I know. And I know many of the other candidates who are in my view knowing them personally well-intentioned and decent people who want to do the right thing. But here is the point, Anderson that I want to make. One of the reasons that so many Americans are dispirited about the political process is they hear candidates come forward and say I want to do this and I want to do that and I want to do that, but nothing happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Relatively polite there but he's essentially saying I'm different. I will do things and all of you other people you're nice. I know you mean well but you're politicians and you're just saying stuff. You're not getting anything done.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: This is a way for Sanders to distance himself from Warren which he just mentioned because she -- they aligned on a lot of issues. But it also provides an opening for her because she reportedly laughed when she was asked about his speech, and it gives her room to pull away from him if there are Liberal Democrats who don't necessarily want to go the Democratic socialist route, and we've seen that reflected in polls. So she's starting to edge him out a bit.

KING: And when you listen to Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Bennett, they are reflecting their view of watching the last 25 years in American politics and thinking, oh my God, we're going to get crushed if Bernie is our nominee or if the whole party gets painted as socialist. Goodbye Pennsylvania, goodbye Michigan, and goodbye Wisconsin, right, and more. There are -- but Bernie Sanders and some of the newer members of the House representatives, AOC, for example, say, no, that's the party's problem. Go big, go bold, go different. Who's right?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the beauty of this moment is we're going to find out, right? Is that actually having this conversation and actually having this debate within the Democratic Party. And actually I think candidate like Bernie Sanders who is willing to say not only am I a Democratic socialist, not only am I like -- or not hardly opposed to socialism broadly but I'm willing to give a very lengthy speech laying out exactly what I think Democratic socialism is. And then there are other people on the other side who believe both that the word choice of socialism as important and believe some of his policies go in the wrong direction.

Voters will get to decide, and I think despite the fact there are 390 people running, the idea that the Democratic Party can have that debate internally and then the American people more broadly can have that debate over the course of the months that follow brings a new strong amount of value. Because I think there's a lot of question right now. If you talk to people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they made clear, look, on the top line my proposals poll very well on the top line so let's actually see it. Let's see voters weigh in, in the primary and then afterward.

KING: And it's interesting, Sanders is the center of attention for a day anyway in the race which is what he wanted, and he wanted to explain his views because he knows he's coming under attack, he knows the debates are coming up, and when he's on the debate stage, Governor Hickenlooper, whosoever on the stage with him is going to make that point. Maybe it'll be Joe Biden if he's on the same stage.

If you just look at the polling, this is Iowa, the first choice for president among Liberals, if go back to 2015, you can see Bernie Sanders, 41 percent of Iowa Liberals were for Bernie Sanders. Now in our new poll, 16 percent of Liberals are for Bernie Sanders. If you flip it over here, his biggest challenge seems to be Elizabeth Warren who -- this is our poll here, you mentioned Elizabeth Warren in her polls, look, she gets 22 percent. Twenty-two percent of Iowa caucusgoers, likely caucusgoers are for her. Bernie Sanders is down here, that's essentially a tie with Buttigieg, Biden, and Bernie Sanders there.

But, listen to Bernie Sanders. He was on with Dana Bash on "State of the Union" on Sunday. He says this is just because the field is crowded, it's not because I've lost my appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Warren is on top among Liberal caucusgoers. It seems maybe you've lost your position as the clear progressive alternative to Joe Biden in Iowa. Why?

SANDERS: Well, Dana, what I think is that four years ago, you know, that were only two of us in the race and we split the vote about 50 percent each. This time you have a whole lot of candidates and I don't think anybody is going to reach 50 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that all it is, crowded field and math? Or is it that -- no offense to Senator Sanders, but he's been around the track before and some Democrats are just looking for somebody new and different and interesting and maybe in Senator Warren's case, if you're progressive, you have a woman who has this idea. So, you know, what is it?

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: He may have -- this has been a bad word to say whenever referring to women candidates, he may have a likability problem. There are a lot more people in his lane right now fighting for those same progressive voters, and some of them are more appealing, and that's the facts.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And a lot of the activists and mobilizers that I've spoken to who are trying to get Democrats energized heading into the primary and into the general say that they definitely still want a woman if possible or a person of color to win the nomination.

KING: And yet, he was underestimated by a lot of people, including people in our business back in 2016. His support -- his numbers may be down but his supporters are loyal, he's a proven fundraiser. We're going to have a long Democratic race in which you'll get trying to go by the proportional rules.

If you're second and third, you're still gathering at least for a while. There's no indication -- I say this as a compliment, he's a stubborn man, I mean, that he's going to stay in this race we think.

[12:35:01] So, he -- underestimate him at your peril even though his numbers are down.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But he also has an ideological platform. I mean, don't forget, he's an independent running in the Democratic contest. So, long before he had this breakout year in 2016 he had a message and an agenda that he wanted to share. If he is not going to make it across the finish line, if he's going to get overtaken, this is his chance to make the case for those ideas and try to shape the arm of the party going forward. He might as well put it all on the table and I think that's what he's concluded.

KING: And again with the debates closing in, this is getting more fun by the day.

And on that same point, up next for us, Beto O'Rourke goes where other 2020 Democrats won't, directly at Joe Biden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:40:05] KING: Topping our political radar today, Congressman Duncan Hunter's wife will be in court this afternoon. Margaret Hunter is switching her plea to guilty in a criminal case accusing her and her husband, the congressman, of misusing campaign funds. The Hunters are accused of taking a quarter of a million dollars to furnish a lavish lifestyle. The California Republican appears to blame his wife for the crime saying she handled the finances.

Last hour, a big deadline for the first pair of 2020 Democratic debates. Candidates had until 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time today to show they had 65,000 unique donors, that's one of two qualifications to make the debate stage. Tomorrow, the Democratic National Committee will announce the lineup.

Pete Buttigieg is the latest 2020 hopeful to call for a criminal investigation into President Trump once he leaves office. He told this to the Atlantic. "To the extent that there's an obstruction case, then yes, DOJ's got to deal with it. I would want any credible allegation of criminal behavior to be investigated to the fullest."

Senator Kamala Harris made similar remarks in an interview with NPR.

2020 hopeful Beto O'Rourke calling Joe Biden, listen here, quote, a return to the past. In an interview on MSNBC this morning, O'Rourke laying out a series of problems including gun violence, wealth and equality, he says existed well before President Trump took office. And the former congressman explains why voters should pick him over the former vice president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we cannot return to the past. We can not simply be about defeating Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Joe Biden a return to the past?

O'ROURKE: He is, and that cannot be who we are going forward. We've got to be bigger. We've got to be bolder. We have to set a much higher mark and be relentless in pursuing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Most candidates dance around the question. You've heard the generational thing. We need new and different. Joe Biden is a return to the past. We got to be bigger than that, we got to be bolder than that. What do we make of that?

We're going to make of it that they're struggling to break through. There is a race right now that has three people, almost 70 or above that are clearly up top, Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg is the only one of that other generation that has clearly broken through, and they're fighting for it somehow.

KING: Just a heads up to Joe Biden, if you're on the same stage with Beto O'Rourke in a couple of weeks, guess what's coming.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And Beto got slightly edged out by Buttigieg. I mean, they're kind of vying for the same demographic and the same voters. So now he's trying to, you know, come out swinging in order to separate himself.

KING: As I said before, one of the interesting parts, it's about to get fun. Up next, they're projected to be the largest 2020 minority voting bloc. See how Hispanics think the 2002 Dems are doing and how they rank them in the key states.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:47:20] KING: Getting a new look today at where the 2020 Democrats stand in the early caucus state of Nevada. That's the first big test to appealing to Latino voters. Joe Biden has a big lead in a new Monmouth University poll, 36 percent, you see it there, of likely caucusgoers back the former vice president. Elizabeth Warren comes in second at 19 percent, Bernie Sanders third at 13 percent. No other Democrat cracked double digits.

Hispanic voters are critical to Democrats in Nevada. Take a look there. Biden leads among Latinos with 27 percent support, followed by Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, and Beto O'Rourke. Julian Castro only polling at two percent with Hispanic voters in Nevada even though he's made the most visits to the state according to the Nevada independent.

Iowa, New Hampshire, largely white states and then you start campaigning in the more diverse states, Nevada, South Carolina, Latino voters will be critical. Is there a deep Biden affinity among Latino voters or is that he's the former vice president and he has name recognition? That's where we start might not be where we end?

BARRON-LOPEZ: It's that he has name recognition. Because everyone that I've spoken to and I actually reported on this, this week is that Nevada is wide open for the taking. Even though Warren hasn't visited as many times as someone like Castro, she has the most boots on the ground. She has about 30 staffers there. Booker has the next, about a dozen, and Biden only has four there.

So that sends a signal to the communities there whether or not you take them seriously. Warren is also hoping to in the coming months set up a caucus training with -- in Latino communities. And so that could make a big difference for her when it comes to courting those voters.

KING: In the piece you wrote, I want to read a line from it, a quote, so Leo Murrieta, I hope I'm saying the name correctly there. "We've seen the typical fly-ins to come and take pictures with popular Dreamers and go eat tacos or whatever. But the reality is that few of the campaigns have had substantive conversations. So, in other words, the community is saying, you want our votes, you better get your tails out here and do some work.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And this gets to the classic question that we mentioned earlier which, you know, is there -- is the race supposed to be about or should Democrats try to just focus on the rural white voters or the midwest, those states that Trump took, or do they need to also pay attention to minorities? And it's that, can they do both? And that a lot of operatives are saying they really need to do both. They need to be paying attention to Latinos and the black voters because there was a depressed voter turnout from those communities in 2016, and so they're saying if you also want us to turn out you have to pay attention to us, too.

KING: And I think that is no question. Show the map, I mean, just the growing Latino population across the country in terms of the significance of the vote, first in the Democratic primaries, of course. But then also in the general election, a growing population that has changed some of the behavior become a swing electorate in many states.

[12:50:02] They'd be foolish not to do both, right?

MATTINGLY: Yes, and I think one of the interesting things that I picked up in that poll is if you look at Pete Buttigieg who's obviously been -- who's been having a moment now for it seems like a couple of weeks, his numbers obviously in Iowa look very good. His numbers in South Carolina with African-American voters are horrendous. And the campaign is aware of this fact. His numbers with Latino voters in that Nevada poll also not even registering. And I think that underscores that he has real work to do if he's going to become real, if he's going to be able to move on.

And again, talking to his campaign, his campaign knows this and they've been trying to address this. But getting boots on the ground, getting out there, having not just a field team but having the candidate out there as well which takes a lot of time when you fly to the West Coast when you're focusing on some of the other earlier states is going be huge (INAUDIBLE).

KING: That's why it's hard to run a successful presidential campaign.

KANE: And super Tuesday is only what, one week or 10 days after. So people are already going to be thinking why not just leap ahead to California? Why not just leap ahead to even those southern states, Alabama, places like that where I can get delegates, because back to that delegate math that we were talking about earlier. And Nevada does not have as many delegates as some of those other states.

TALEV: And the other thing is I think -- I do think it matters for those Democrats in the contest now, of course, the primaries are what matters now, but this is also relationship-building for November of 2020 because when it comes right down to it, there may be a few key states where the Latino vote turnout really matters if it's close.

KING: And Nevada has been trending blue pretty consistently but the Trump campaign it wants to make a play there so we should watch that as well as it plays out because rule nothing out if you haven't learned a lesson from the last couple of cycles.

Up next, lightning round, congressional edition. First, it's a holiday of sorts in the Senate. This is a holiday. You can see it there, a photo from our friend, Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post.

She says she loves this tradition. Members of both parties ringing in national Seersucker suit day. Some rare bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:56:32] KING: All right, we're going to try a little lightning round starting with this. Senator Joe Manchin could be heading for the exit. The Hill reporting this morning the West Virginia Democrat says he's considering running again next year for his old job, governor, in a move that could jeopardize Democrats' already narrow path to retaking control of the Senate.

Manchin not denying it saying, quote, we're looking at all the different plays. I want to make sure whatever time I have left in public service is productive. I haven't been happy since I've been here. I've always thought there's more we can do. It's the greatest body in the world, so much good could be done.

Now if you think you've seen this movie before it's because you have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don't like what I've been involved with the last four years and I've been very vocal about that.

Yes, the place sucks when it doesn't work and I know it can work. So I still have hope but I get a little frustrated from time.

It's a decorum we should have and it's a shame when the place breaks down because of toxicity. The solution to obstruction isn't running -- isn't ruining the Senate. It's outreach, it's compromised. And until we're willing to do that, the hard work of this institution is going to get worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So he's frustrated. That's well documented. Will he leave?

BARRON-LOPEZ: This is classic Manchin. He's been saying since he entered the Senate that he wants to leave the Senate so I'll believe it when I see it when he finally announce and files his candidacy.

KING: OK, we'll watch that one. There are 23 Democrats running for president, 20 of them look like they'll make the debate stage. One of them is former governor of Colorado. Senator Manchin wants to leave the Senate maybe. There are a lot of Democrats wishing why wouldn't you stop running for president and please run for the Senate, Governor?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the Senate is so good how come all those senators are trying to get out? For those of us that become energized and really electrified by working with talented people and taking on things that people say are possible and then getting them done, I don't -- I can't -- the Senate doesn't attract me at this point. Just doesn't attract me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And if he talk to his former colleagues, those governors, whether it's Lamar Alexander, whether it's Joe Manchin, whether it's Mark Warner, the list goes on, most of them say, you'd rather be a chief executive than be in the United States Senate. The -- my question is this, not necessarily Governor Hickenlooper but a lot of these -- some of these candidates are going to not be successful in the presidential race, will some of them run for the Senate then?

KANE: I don't know. The Senate under McConnell the last five months has -- he boasts it's a legislative graveyard and it's -- he's having trouble on the Republican side recruiting people to run in places like New Hampshire. When you're not doing anything but voting on cabinet, sub-cabinet level, people you've never heard of, it's hard to recruit.

KING: Not terribly exciting, is it? All right, Phil Mattingly, this is in, in your reporting, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, very important when it comes to spending. We've had serious discussions, he says, with a meeting that took place in the Capitol hall office of Leader McConnell with the White House. This is about funding the government. Shelby said the Trump administration and GOP senators are close to the same page but not on it yet. What does that mean?

MATTINGLY: It's the actual most perfect Richard Shelby quote ever being close to the same page is not actually a good place to be. It's not negotiating, there's a closed-door meeting in McConnell's office for Senate appropriators and White House officials last night. It didn't go that well is what I'm told but they're making their way there.

Remember, this has to get done by the end of September. It's not just a $120 billion in automatic cuts, it's also the debt ceiling. People want to get it done but the White House and Republicans are still split right now. That's the divide that needs to be made up before we even get the Democrats and trying to get them on board.

KING: You fly on Air Force One regularly. What do you think of the new design the president was showing off?

TALEV: I think if the pace of Air Force One improvements goes anything like it always has this, may be an issue that another president cuts the bow off at the end. How is that for an (INAUDIBLE)?

KING: Pessimism.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere, a lot of news today.

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