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Voters Vet Their Candidates for 2020; Some Candidates Lift Themselves Up and Some Remain Stuck. CNN Commentators Recap First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Is Interviewed About The First Democratic Presidential Debate; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed About the First Democratic Presidential Debate. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired June 26, 2019 - 23:00   ET




The first 10 Democrats have just finished the first debate of the 2020 campaign with another 10 taking the stage tomorrow. It's an enormous field, in some ways like the one President Trump defeated. This time, though, it was heavy on policy and light on insults, a mix of familiar and unfamiliar names.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney.

With us here tonight, a team that's almost as large and certainly no less eminent, the best political team on television. Hopefully, we won't have the sound problems helping to break down what happened in Miami. First though, some of the key moments we'll be talking about. Take a look.


LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, NBC: Secretary Castro, the next question is for you. Democrats have been talking about the pay gap for decades. What would you do to ensure that women are paid fairly in this country?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much for that question, Lester.

You know, I grew up with a mother who raised my brother Joaquin and me as a single parent and I know what it's like to struggle. I know what it's like to rent a home and to worry about whether you're going to be able to pay the rent at the first of the month, and to see a mom work very, very hard and know that moms across this country are getting paid less simply because their women.

I would do several things. Starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is to pass the equal rights amendment. Finally, in this country --


HOLT: We're going to turn to the issue of health care right now and really try to understand where there may or may not be daylight between you.

Many people watching at home have health insurance coverage through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan? Just a show of hands to start off with.


Senator Warren, you signed on to Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan. It would put essentially everybody on Medicare and eliminate plans that offer private coverage. Is that the plan or path that you would pursue as president?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I'm with Bernie on Medicare for all. And let me tell you why. I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke. And one of the number one reasons is the cost of health care, medical bills, and that's just not for people who don't have insurance, it's for people who have insurance.

Look at the business model of an insurance company. It's to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for all solves that problem.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It should not be an option in the United States of America for any insurance company to deny women coverage for their exercise of their right of choice.


RYAN: And I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health in health insurance and I'm the only candidate who has passed a public option.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to say there's three women up here who have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose, so I'll start with that.


CASTRO: I became the first candidate to put forward a comprehensive immigration plan, and we saw those images --


CASTRO: -- watching that image of Oscar and his daughter Valeria is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off. Let's be very clear. The reason that they're separating these little children from their families is that they're using section 1325 of that act, which criminalizes coming across the border, to incarcerate the parents and then separate them.

[23:05:03] Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it, some, like Congressman O'Rourke, have not, and I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that.



CASTRO: I just think it's a mistake, Beto. I think it's a mistake. And I think that if you truly want to change the system then we've got to repeal that section. If not --

O'ROURKE: Thank you.


CASTRO: -- then it might as well be the same policy.

O'ROURKE: Let me respond to this very briefly. As a member of Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country. If you're fleeing --


CASTRO: I'm not talking about the ones that are seeking asylum --

O'ROURKE: -- if you're fleeing desperation, then I want to make sure --

CASTRO: I'm talking about everybody else. I'm still talking about everybody else.

O'ROURKE: -- you're treating everybody else with respect.

CASTRO: I'm still talking about everybody else.

O'ROURKE: But you're looking at just one small part of this. I'm talking about a comprehensive rewrite of our immigration laws.

CASTRO: That's not true.


O'ROURKE: And if we do that, I don't think it's asking too much for people to follow our laws when they come to this country.

CASTRO: A lot of folks that are coming are not seeking asylum. A lot of them are undocumented immigrants, right? And you said recently that the reason you didn't want to repeal section 1325 was because you were concerned about human trafficking and drug trafficking.

But let me tell you what, section 18 --



CASTRO: -- title 18 of the U.S. Code, title 21 and title 22 already cover --


O'ROURKE: If we apprehend a known smuggler or drug trafficker --


CASTRO: I think that you should do your homework on this issue.

O'ROURKE: -- we're going to make sure that they're deported --

CASTRO: If you did your homework on this issue you would know that we should repeal this section --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of talking about --


HOLT: Who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated? That's -- all right. Senator Klobuchar, I'd like you to answer the question because you said you would negotiate yourself back into the Iranian agreement. Can you argue that that nuclear pact as it was ratified was a good deal?


KLOBUCHAR: This president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war, one tweet away from going to war and I don't think we should conduct foreign policy --


HOLT: All right. Your time is up.

KLOBUCHAR: -- in our bath robe at five in the morning.

HOLT: Congresswoman Gabbard --

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MSNBC: Senator Warren, I want to continue on the Mitch McConnell thing because you have a lot of ambitious plans.


TODD: OK. We talked about this pretty important. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell if you don't beat him in the Senate, if he is still sitting there as the Senate majority leader? It's very plausible you be elected president with a Republican Senate. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell?



TODD: Senator Booker, you have a federal government buyback program in your plan. How is that going to work?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I want to say my colleague and I both have been hearing this on the campaign trail. But what's even worse is I hear gunshots in my neighborhood. I think I'm the only one. I hope I'm the only one on this panel here that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week.

Someone I knew, Shahad Smith was killed with an assault rifle at the top of my block last year. For millions of Americans, this is not a policy issue, this is an urgency. And for those who have not been directly affected, they're tired of living in a country where their kids go to school to learn about reading, writing and arithmetic and how to deal with an active shooter in their school.

This is something that I'm tired of, and I'm tired of hearing people all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers.

TODD: Who is the geopolitical threat to the United States?

RYAN: The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump. And there's no question.



COOPER: All right. We're going to, of course, be bringing you more key moments from tonight's debate as we go along, but there is plenty to talk about right here.

Joining us, and I promise we'll only do this once. Former Obama senior adviser and currently host of the Axe Files, CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod, CNN's senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN political director, David Chalian, Jess McIntosh who served as director of communications outreach for Hillary Clinton campaign, she's a CNN political commentator.

Also, with us, CNN political commentator Van Jones, host of CNN Van Jones Show and former special adviser for President Obama, and finally, CNN political commentator, Terry McAuliffe, former DNC chairman and former governor of Virginia. Governor McAuliffe, let's start with you.


COOPER: How do you -- who stood out.

MCAULIFFE: I think it was a good night for Julian Castro. I think it was a good night for Elizabeth Warren. I don't think the ball got moved much tonight for anybody. I was very happy and proud of the Democrats that I think they mentioned President Trump's name only a couple of times.

If you go back to '15 with President Obama, I think it was every other sentence in the Republican debate. I thought that was good. Good discussion on the issues.

I'm a little disappointed. I think we needed to have more discussion on those issues that actually affect Americans every single day. They didn't want to hear us talking about Mitch McConnell and we spent a lot of time on Medicare for all.

But people sitting at home, Anderson, right now, they're worried about their prescription drug costs. They're worried about getting in a car and, you know, driving and spending an hour and a half to see their kids go play a ball game.

We needed more discussion on issues that affect -- I thought John Delaney was exactly when he answered that, infrastructure, you know, prescription drugs, I didn't hear workforce training at all tonight. One of the biggest issues our country is facing. I never heard K-12 discuss tonight.

[23:10:07] COOPER: Van Jones, did anybody who, it wasn't really well known on that stage break out in any way?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought totally differently.

COOPER: All right. Good.

JONES: First of all, I was super proud to be a Democrat. Listen, take any one of those people, shake them in a basket, take any two out, run them against Donald Trump, I'm for them. I thought they all did better than Trump and super well.

But, listen, Elizabeth Warren looked like a college professor with a bunch of graduate students around here half the time. She is able to go back and forth between policy and the human thing better than anybody, but it was Castro that came out of nowhere. Nobody was talking about Castro. He did the Texas takedown. Turned around, clocked Beto. I mean, you never saw it coming.

The thing about these debates, you never know who is going to have a moment. Castro is winning the Google primary right now. He went up 3,000 percent in terms of people searching for the guy. He bought himself a lifeline tonight and that's why I love these debates.

COOPER: You know, you are nerding (Ph) out in such a great way. I love it. I love it. I mean, we're all nerds, obviously, here so I love that.

JONES: Thank you.

COOPER: How about you?

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually predicted this morning on CNN that the breakouts were going to be Castro, Booker and Warren and I'm feeling really, really proud of myself.

JONES: Well done. Well done.

MCINTOSH: Thank you. I think Elizabeth Warren was obviously the front-runner. I felt bad that she had to go with this group because I wanted to see her next to Bernie and Biden and Kamala and the other people who get mentioned in the top tier. But she dominated this debate, especially the first half.


MCINTOSH: When she wasn't allowed to get in on that immigration question, I think that was a real problem for her. She spent the whole day in Homestead in the detention center. She was the only candidate that did that. I wish that she could have gotten in there, but Castro has been so strong on policy this entire time. He just hasn't received the quantity or quality of coverage that the other guys did.

JONES: He was great -- he was great on paper. But you didn't know if he was going to be great in person. Now he's great in person. And everyone is going to talk about him tomorrow and he now matters in a way he didn't matter. He was great on paper but he was great in person.

COOPER: David Chalian?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Well, I also think it is a bit of a zero-sum game because if Castro had such a good night, I think Beto O'Rourke probably suffered some tonight because of that.



CHALIAN: And I think that is pretty important. Also, Anderson, Elizabeth Warren, I agree, especially in the first half of the debate, but what is also so interesting to me and I think really important going forward, it wasn't just her performance that was dominating that first half of the debate, it was the fact that she was the frame for every question.

Whether she was being asked the question or not, it was her policy ideas of free college that was being asked about to other candidates. It was her economic vision that launched the debate.

So, she was sort of the pace setter for the entire field tonight, at least for the first quarter of the debate, first half of the debate. I would also say, you know, the least likeable character, according to the polls, is Bill de Blasio. I think Bill de Blasio had a pretty good night for himself.

BORGER: He did.

CHALIAN: I think that he sort of, declared I am not going to cede this left-wing progressive lane to just Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I think he was jumping in there constantly. I imagine he's going to be a bit of a mix.

MCINTOSH: Bill de Blasio beating Beto was my biggest surprise of the night. The fact that I would think that Bill de Blasio came out on top of a Bill-Beto exchange was just I got that one entirely wrong.

BORGER: So, I think the left wing of the party did well tonight. Really well.

JONES: Thank you.

BORGER: But I think the center of the party, the Amy Klobuchars of the world, for example, Ryan, for example, I don't think, not so well -- not as well. I don't think they -- there was a -- there was a little bit of reluctance, I think, on the part of moderates to sort of go full force on attack against the liberals.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's what makes moderates moderate.

BORGER: Right. Exactly. Because they know their audience, number one. And this is the first time they're introducing themselves really on a large scale to the American public. But I sensed a reluctance from someone like Amy Klobuchar and others to sort of say, you know, wait a minute -- she did at some point say, look, we can't afford to do all that, but I thought there might be some more challenges about Medicare for all, for example. Which I think you'll be discussing a lot of tomorrow night with Joe Biden.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and I mean, part of that was they were -- they seemed to be reluctant to go after Warren, right?


HENDERSON: Because she's the pace setter. And you did see in I think different settings somebody like Klobuchar or other people go after Warren, but that didn't happen tonight. What I did think was odd about Warren's performance was she faded down the stretch.

MCINTOSH: Totally.

HENDERSON: It was like, is Warren still on the stage? She talks about fighting a lot. Right? I mean, she uses the word fight, that she has the courage to go after Donald Trump, to go after big businesses, to go after pharmaceutical companies, but in this debate, she didn't fight much to get a word in edge wise. Bill de Blasio was interrupting all the time. I think Warren, in her next debate she's got to try to interrupt.


[23:14:59] MCINTOSH: Let's say what it would look like if she had done that --


HENDERSON: Women don't interrupt as much as men.

MCINTOSH: Well, (Inaudible) whether if she had gone too hard on that.

AXELROD: I think she was well satisfied to let everybody else scrap with each other.


AXELROD: She was at the center of the stage. The first question she got allowed her to lay out her economic premise. You know, she's been the most consistent candidate in this campaign in terms of her message, in terms of her policy, she got to share some of those. I think she was pretty well satisfied to let everybody else scrap with one another. She was unscathed in this.

COOPER: I want to show the first question that went to Elizabeth Warren, her response to it. Let's take a look.


WARREN: I think of it this way. Who is this economy really working for? It's doing great for thinner and thinner slice at the top. It's doing great for giant drug companies. This is not doing great for people who are trying to get a prescription filled.

It's doing great for people who want to invest in private prisons. Just not for the African-Americans and Latin x whose families are torn apart, whose lives are destroyed and whose communities are ruined.

It's doing great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere. Just not for the rest of us who are watching climate change bear down upon us.

When you've got a government, when you've got an economy that does great for those with money and isn't doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple. We need to call it out. We need to attack it head-on and we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy and in our country.


COOPER: That was the first question asked and answered in that debate. I mean, to your point, David --

AXELROD: Pure message.


AXELROD: And, you know, here's the thing. I think that, you know, there was a poll out this week from the A.P. that said that two-thirds of people aren't paying close attention, Democrats to this race, 22 percent where they said they knew what the position of this.

So, in that sense everybody benefitted from the exposure. But ultimately, the question is, when you see these people, it's not just, do you like them or -- it's what are they about? What is their story? What is their message? And she has one. And I think that's one of the reasons she made progress in this race.

There are -- I think Castro did help himself tonight. It does help to position off of someone, and I was surprised that Klobuchar, who really wants to stake out that sort of center-left moderate Midwestern lane didn't take advantage of the fact that she has differences with Elizabeth Warren.

CHALIAN: I think she invoked Trump the most. To your point of not -- I think in almost every answer Amy Klobuchar gave, I think she was trying -- my sense was she was trying to push the electability argument.

BORGER: That she can run against him.

CHALIAN: That Democrats say they're looking for the person that can best beat Donald Trump. And I think Klobuchar thought that that was something she needed to work into every single answer.

BORGER: Here's what Warren is so good at. She's good as saying I'm fighting for you and against those bad guys. Whether the bad guys --


AXELROD: She's got a story.

BORGER: Right. Whether the bad guys are the corporations, oil companies, Google, Amazon, whatever it is, and Donald Trump is good at that. He's very good at that. I'm fighting for you against the bad guys, and the bad guys might be the Democrats or whoever it is. And she has that same skill.

JONES: Yes, I think --

BORGER: It works for her.

JONES: It works for her. I do think that Klobuchar did herself some good, though, because she's not as well known. We know her because we're all political geeks and nerds, like you said, but I think she did herself some good.

First of all, she was always able to sneak in a little bit of a folksy thing.


JONES: You can see why Republicans are voting for her. People who voted for Trump voted for her in her state. You know, he's all foam and no beer, talking about my uncle in the duck blind or whatever. But it seemed authentic. It seemed real.

And I do think we look at it from a certain point of view. I do think you've got some people out there looking at this party saying, jeez, I don't like Donald Trump but I don't know if I can trust all these crazy left-wing people.

BORGER: Right. JONES: If she's going after them, I think she did well tonight, Klobuchar.

MCINTOSH: My concern with Klobuchar and it always has been, she's the most popular senator. Right?

JONES: By far.

MCINTOSH: She's consistently very high up. Minnesota loves her. I worked in Minnesota for a long time. You don't get to numbers like 70 percent unless you are really committed to never making anybody angry, to never confronting anybody. She takes really strong positions on things that everybody agrees with like consumer safety.

So, when we get into a Democratic primary, she really needs to start drawing those contrasts and that's just sort of anathema to every political instinct she's had.


AXELROD: But we should note that half this party -- half this party describes themselves as moderate or conservative.


AXELROD: It's sort of a myth the whole party is left. She's going for that slice, and she's going for particularly in that Iowa caucus. And she's really playing, I think, for the possibility that Joe Biden unravels in some way because she's going after some of those same votes.

So, she -- I think her theory, and perhaps Biden's theory and some other people's theory is that that people aren't actually looking for the fighter. That we've got Donald Trump who divides us constantly and that they want a more of a calming influence who might bring some more unity to the country, who might heal some of these wounds.

[23:20:07] And I think she's -- but I think she has to be a little bit more explicit about that if that's what she's going after.

BORGER: And I think she was afraid to do that tonight maybe on the first outing, but she has separated herself on Medicare for all, you know, for example, on college tuition, so she has done that. She just didn't take enough advantage of that this evening.


MCAULIFFE: You can't waste time. This is the one opportunity you have. Eight to 10 million people watching you. You've got one more debate that's going to come up in Detroit.

JONES: If you're lucky.

MCAULIFFE: The CNN debate. And then you've got September where half of these folks are going to get cut out. You have got to use the eight or nine minutes that you had tonight to really differentiate yourself. I think Castro did a great job of doing that tonight. Warren, I think was in a league of her own.

HENDERSON: And Booker, right. I think he had a strong night as well. He kept talking about where he's from and where he lives at this point in a low-income community. He was the mayor of Newark. He was trying to, I think draw some contrast with Biden, for instance, when he talked about the criminal justice reform he pushed in the Senate with your help, Van Jones.

So, I thought he had a good night. You know, Cory Booker for years was, you know, in some ways, you know, the next big thing, had all of this potential, and so far, he's, you know, among the 1-percenters. I thought he did some good.

JONES: Tonight, he had to do something and I don't know if he did it or not. You could see he was trying to reintroduce himself.

We fell in love with Cory Booker when he was that crazy young mayor in Newark who lived in the housing projects, standing up to the drug dealers, getting cats out of trees, running into burning buildings and all of a sudden he goes into the Senate and becomes the guy that gives the speeches.

And so, I think that that hurt him a little bit. I think he wanted to be governor not a senator. But there he is. Tonight, he was trying to remind people, I think, that he's living with these problems every day, and I thought that was important for him to do and because a big part of this party is African-American and urban, there is a relatability opportunity for him there. But I don't --


CHALIAN: As a differentiator.

JONES: As a differentiator. However, I still think that he hasn't had that moment yet. I didn't see that moment where you go that's Cory Booker.

AXELROD: I also think, Van, I would love to see him tie it all together in a coherent message. You know, again, he was great on individual answers. He's clearly strong on the issue of guns. He did introduce his history and the fact that he's from the inner city of Newark and what that means. Close to the ground and so on.

But he never quite tied it all together, and I think it's important to give people a sense of what is this all about?

COOPER: I actually want to play something that Cory Booker said about gun control, the gun issue. Let's take a look.


BOOKER: I'm tired of hearing people all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers.

(APPLAUSE) BOOKER: In my faith, people say faith without works is dead. So, we will find a way, but the reason we have a problem right now is we've let the corporate gun lobby frame this debate. It is time that we have bold actions and a bold agenda. I will get that done as president of the United States because this is not about policy. This is personal.


MCINTOSH: I think Cory's low-key a policy candidate. We loved him because of this charisma, because of the cats and the shoveling people out of the snowstorms, but he actually has one of the most detailed policy platforms of any of the candidates out there and we don't hear a ton about it.

So, I was glad that he got to demonstrate some of that tonight. I hope we hear more of it. I think he had a fabulous answer when he interjected after Tulsi Gabbard gave a sort of lukewarm LGBT equality answer.

BORGER: Right.

MCINTOSH: To describe her reversal on that issue. He really jumped in with the understanding that it's not enough just to have your vote in the right place at this point, you have to understand the issue and want to be a champion.

BORGER: I was thinking tonight as I was watching all of this, if you're Joe Biden and you're going tomorrow.


BORGER: What are your thoughts?



BORGER: As you're watching this debate tonight, how is it going to change tomorrow night when you have the so-called stars, the people who are polling very well, aside from Warren, who was -- who was here tonight.

How -- are you going to shift in any way, shape or form because of what was said tonight? Do you -- do you look at Castro and say, gee, he did a really great job. Maybe I ought to steal some of that stuff on immigration? Or maybe Klobuchar wasn't middle enough for me --


MCAULIFFE: Well, he's not going to change. He knows what he's going to say.

BORGER: What's he going to say?

MCAULIFFE: This man --



MCAULIFFE: -- he's been in a very long time. He knows what he has to do tomorrow.

BORGER: Is he going to be about Trump?

HENDERSON: He talk more about Trump --

JONES: He may say a lot or whatever.

MCAULIFFE: He may say a lot of it. He knows exactly what he's going to do. Nothing will change tonight on it for him.


MCAULIFFE: He's got to look presidential. He's got to look like he's the guy that can beat Trump. They're all going to take slings and arrows at him and he's got to be looking like he's above all that and that playing in this little --


BORGER: Is it more about Trump tomorrow night? That's what I'm thinking of.

AXELROD: Here's what I think. I think that Elizabeth Warren has done well enough that she's become a problem for Bernie Sanders.


AXELROD: And Bernie Sanders needs to reclaim the mantel of the left, and the way you do it is to make Joe Biden a foil.

COOPER: Tomorrow night.

AXELROD: And he's signaled that he's going to do it. I think he will do it. I think he's going to make --

MCAULIFFE: Absolutely.

[23:25:00] AXELROD: -- he's going to make Biden an exemplar of the establishment and he's going to go after him.

COOPER: Let's -- we got to take a quick break. Much more ahead in the next two live hours. Joining us shortly, some of the candidates, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and later our Gary Tuchman is in Iowa watching the debate with a group of Democratic voters. See who impressed them and who may have changed their minds.


COOPER: We saw a range of views on stage tonight in Miami of the Democratic debate except on the subject of President Trump. On that the candidates were of one voice and they didn't miss a chance to make it clear who their real opponent is.

And though, Governor McAuliffe spoke to the relative scarcity of Trump mentions, there were still more than a few. Take a look.


KLOBUCHAR: And Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats.

BOOKER: Donald Trump is simply wrong.

Donald Trump isn't solving this problem.

RYAN: Donald Trump's heinous Muslim ban.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump needs to get back into the Iran nuclear deal.

BOOKER: Donald Trump is marching us towards a far more dangerous situation.

KLOBUCHAR: Donald Trump.

GABBARD: Donald Trump.

CASTRO: Trump's zero tolerance policy.

KLOBUCHAR: This president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war.

RYAN: The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump. And there's no question.


TODD: Congresswoman Gabbard?


[23:30:03] COOPER: Back now with our own debate lineup. Interesting you didn't hear Senator Warren saying Donald Trump. I don't know if she actually did at some point and we --


[23:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman Gabbard.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Back now with our own debate lineup. Interesting you didn't hear Senator Warren saying Donald Trump. I don't know if she actually did it at some point and we just didn't put it in there, but --



TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DNC CHAIR, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: First of all, you've got to give Jay Inslee credit. He did have a line --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a great line. Best line of the night.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And also give him credit for keeping the climate fight alive.


JONES: And he is a governor, by the way. We used to have governors run for president and the senators couldn't. Now it's all senators and very few governors. He is a governor who has actually gotten stuff done. He's passed real bills. He's growing the economy in a green way. He's done stuff on health care.

I mean, I thought he did himself really well. Even if it doesn't help his candidacy, I think he helped the country. I think he help the conversation by keeping this climate fight alive. I thought he did a great job, Jay Inslee.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Julian Castro at the end, did he say adios to Donald Trump? I thought that was a pretty good line.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it was more of an implicit contrast with Trump and the Trump administration than it was going after the man directly because I think everybody watching, every Democratic primary voter already believes that Trump is an existential threat to democracy and maybe more.

So, they didn't necessarily have to do that. I was on the Hillary campaign in 2016. One of the biggest problems that we had was a larger segment of the electorate really feeling like the parties were the same, really feeling like there wasn't much of a difference, which in my mind just seems so out there. I don't even know how to start undermining that, but we weren't able to do it in 2016. That's got to happen now.

JONES: Outsider versus insider thing. Listen, I spent a lot of time in red states and red counties. I've still been going to the homes of Trump voters. I still think that there was a rebellion in both parties last time. Bernie Sanders got 22 states, almost half the states, you know, 40-plus percent of the vote, and there was rebellion in the Republican Party with Trump. That rebellion is not done.


JONES: The people are still upset. They still feel left out. They are looking for somebody who can be strong and who has answers. And so I do think it was confusing to us at first, but it wasn't a partisan thing. It was an outsider versus insider thing. That's still alive.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think you heard a couple of Democrats tonight on the stage try to speak to those voters.


CHALIAN: Tim Ryan of Ohio certainly did. I thought he was speaking directly when he took on his own party for being coastal and elitist and talking about the need. And by the way, Bill de Blasio, coastal and elitist, New York City mayor, but he also made the point -- at one point --


CHALIAN: -- the populist argument where he said it's the corporations that are to blame, not the immigrants. So I think he was going after those voters as well.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, just getting back to Elizabeth Warren, it was mentioned that she didn't engage Trump, but her argument is that there are bigger things out -- there's a bigger structural problem in this economy that transcends Trump that she is running to try and remedy and goes to this -- the things that have alienated a lot of people.

COOPER: I want to bring in Democratic presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar. She is joining us. Senator Klobuchar, thanks for being with us. First of all, how do you think --


COOPER: How do you think it went tonight in terms of, you know, standing out from your opponents?

KLOBUCHAR: I thought it was great. I made a lot of points about Donald Trump, about the mess he's gotten us in in the Middle East. That was something that was important for me to talk about. And also is able to get in one of my top priorities, which is the bills and the work that I'm doing on pharmaceutical prices.

COOPER: Did you think at any point about -- obviously you're positioning yourself in a different way than say Elizabeth Warren is or a Bill de Blasio is. There weren't a lot of contrasts drawn between the various candidates on stage. Julian Castro went after Beto O'Rourke on immigration issue. Was that intentional on your part not to spend time doing that and to focus more on just getting your issues across?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I actually did try to focus at the beginning in some of my answers, but there wasn't a back and forth, and I'm sure there'll be another debate for that, and that is that my proposal for college and reducing college costs is different than Senator Bernie Sanders's, of course, and Warren's, and I'm concerned about the wealthiest, that the taxpayers would have to pay for them to go to college.

So that is something I'd like to talk about more. And then also there were some disputes about health care. One of my more interesting moments, though, was when Governor Inslee claimed the mantel of being the one leading on women's rights and women's reproductive rights at which point I said, I think there are three women on the stage who have done a pretty good job on that.

COOPER: We actually have that sound bite. If I could just play that so our viewers could see that.


COOPER: It's six. Take a look.


GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health in health insurance, and I'm the only candidate who has passed a public option.

[23:35:00] And I respect everybody's goals and plans here. But we do have one candidate that actually advanced the ball, and we've got to have access for everyone. I've done it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Your time is up, governor. Senator Klobuchar, I want to get your --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a false claim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I'm fascinated by this. Senator Klobuchar?

KLOBUCHAR: I just want to say there are three women up there that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose. I'll start with that.



COOPER: That's the -- that, you felt, was a good moment for you?


KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Well, what is historic about this debate is that we actually have now doubled the number of Democratic women that have ever participated in a Democratic presidential debate, because in the entire history of our country on the Democratic side, there have only been three. And as of tonight, we doubled it and then we'll exceed it tomorrow night.

COOPER: You mentioned President Trump. In terms of who is best equipped to beat President Trump, you invoked his name several times. Do you think voters have a better idea tonight of how Democrats plan or hope to beat the president? Do you -- I mean, do you think you gave voters a clear idea of how you plan to beat him?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, that is what I tried to do. I thought it was important to make that difference because in the end, you're running to be the nominee to run against Donald Trump. So that's why I made the point that he promised voters things on pharmaceuticals and he didn't deliver, and he promised things on infrastructure, as I've said in the past, and he didn't deliver, and he said we were going to be safer if he got out of the Iranian deal and he has not delivered.

So I think it is really important for us to make that distinction, and I would like to see more of that going forward in these debates.

COOPER: Were you surprised at any of the flash points, health care for all, military involvement overseas? There was some contrast despite many agreements.

KLOBUCHAR: Not really. I think I anticipated some of that. Just when you're on a big stage like that with so many candidates, you just keep wanting to get in every debate. I guess there will be time for that in the future because you want to get it to less people, of course, so you can have a chance to make your point beyond 30 seconds.

COOPER: Senator Klobuchar, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: It was great. Thank you, Anderson. I'm looking forward to your debate coming up.

COOPER: We'll be there.


COOPER: Thanks very much. CNN's --


COOPER: -- Kyung Lah -- I hope so, too. CNN's Kyung Lah with another debater tonight, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's standing right next to me with his wife. First, sir, if I just could just ask you, how do you feel about your evening?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: I feel good. I want to make really clear that this party needs to change and this country needs to change. We need to be the party of working people again, and we need to be bold and blunt. We cannot mince words. So, I'm saying, look, we're not going to keep a health care system that is failing tens of millions of people, middle class people and working class people. We're going to do something different.

LAH: On that issue, on health care, you did draw a distinction between yourself. You and Elizabeth Warren raised your hands. Recap that for me. You drew that distinction between yourself and the eight other candidates.

DE BLASIO: Yeah, look, I think that Democrats have to be clear that the current system of private insurance is not working for many tens of millions of people. It was the number one issue of the 2018 election. Physical health care, it's bad enough. My wife focuses on mental health care. Mental health care is almost unreachable for a huge percentage of Americans because our insurance system doesn't focus on mental health care at all. So, look, we've got a fundamental problem and we have to have an honest conversation about it. I believe there is a better way. I believe there are countries all over the world --

LAH: By eliminating private insurance?

DE BLASIO: Ultimately, yes, because there are countries all over the world that have proven you can have a single-payer system that works for people, that is flexible, that takes care of their needs. It's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to happen in day one. It would have to happen over time.

But here's the bottom line. The current system is failing such a high percentage of Americans and they know it and they're angry about it and they don't want the status quo.

LAH: And we heard you draw a distinction between yourself and Beto O'Rourke.


LAH: Why did you at that point draw that distinction? Why did you directly go at him?

DE BLASIO: Because I could hear he wouldn't answer the question and that is the classic Democratic Party disease, being afraid to be clear and bold and progressive in our positions. This is what put us into so much trouble to begin with. This is why so many Americans lost touch with us. This is why we lost the 2016 election.

We have to be one thing. We have to be a clear progressive party that supports working people. That's what we were for decades and decades. And we had a multi-ethnic coalition and we had rural votes and urban votes. That's what we have to be again.

But we're not going to be that party if we can't seem to believe in anything. When I heard him say that, I said, wait a minute, you got to decide which side you're on here, man, because people need to know.

LAH: All right. Mayor de Blasio --

DE BLASIO: Thank you very much.

LAH: -- thank you very much.

DE BLASIO: Thank you.

LAH: Thank you very much for a great evening. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Kyung, thanks very much. Mayor de Blasio as well. Back now with our team.

[23:40:00] Governor McAuliffe, former head of the DNC, I'm wondering what you make of --

(LAUGHTER) COOPER: -- Bill de Blasio's assessments.

MCAULIFFE: Listen, I'll let Bill speak for himself. Listen, I was very proud of all those Democrats up there tonight. This is the beginning of the process. I don't want to keep harping on the point. At some point, we've got to get to a point where we're talking very specifics about how and what are we going to deliver to the American people. It can't just be name-calling. It can't just be attacking this corporation.

We have to lay out a positive agenda of how we are going to change people's lives. That's what they want from us. And, you know, governors and I always say, you know, I was governor of a state, eight and a half million people, you got to lead every single day. You have to create jobs. You have to build roads. You have to clean roads. People want specifics of what you're going to do to save them.

COOPER: I got to get a break in. When we come back, Senator Cory Booker joins us next.


COOPER: We've heard tonight from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Now, another candidate, like several debaters tonight, demonstrated his Spanish fluency. Look.



[23:45:07] On day one, I will make sure that number one, we end the ICE policies and the customs and border policies are violating the human rights.


COOPER: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey joins us now. Senator Booker, thanks for being with us. How do you think it went tonight for you?

BOOKER: I'm really excited. I think it went really well and got to have an opportunity to have a first conversation about a lot of major issues. For me, right now, we have a lot of folks who are just discovering me. Our name recognition is now just rising. So I'm pretty pleased with how it went, and we're going to continue the conversation hard on the campaign trail.

COOPER: You obviously tried to make some significant contrast in terms of not just policy, but sort of energy and life experience as well.

BOOKER: Yeah, absolutely. Look, I've dedicated my entire life to fighting for communities that are too often left out and left behind. I'm the only person not only in this race but also in the United States Senate that lives in a low-income black and brown community, and I've lived there for about 20 years dedicating my life to the issues of folks in this country where the economy is not working for them, from housing policies to environmental injustice.

And so I've taken on the toughest problems and shown through my leadership that we can make major changes. In fact, turn things around if we bring people together to solve them. That's the way I'm going to fight this election to beat Donald Trump and that's the way I'm going to govern. It's the way I always have.

COOPER: You were the only one in the group who didn't raise your hand when asked who would sign back on to the 2015 Iran deal. You said you want to renegotiate and leverage a better deal. That puts you, I mean, I guess closer to President Trump in some sense than your fellow Democrats.

BOOKER: No. First of all, let's be clear, he was wrong to pull out of the deal. It was an imperfect deal. But to pull out of a deal where we stand with our allies and have transparency into the Iran nuclear enrichment program, it pushed it back 10, 20, 25 years. Because he did that, now we stand alone, we're isolated against our allies, and Iran is pushing towards a nuclear weapon.

So we need to find a way to use diplomacy to solve this problem, not the war beat that he's doing. But I'm not going to stand up on a primary stage and announce I'm going to unilaterally or de facto go right back into that deal. I'm going to do everything I can to try to get everything off the negotiating table that I can.

Again, we need to go into a situation like that with all options on the table and a strong negotiating position. What will Iran think if somebody who already said they're going back into the deal becomes president of the United States.

They're going to say, well, you said you will do it, get back in that deal. No, we got to be thoughtful about this. I really think that the next president should go back to diplomacy and stop this drumbeat towards war, but do it with every piece of leverage they can to get the most off the table as possible.

COOPER: You also talked about the criminal justice reform bill, something you've been working on obviously for a long time. It's interesting because the president mentioned that bill in a tweet earlier today. It's something he seems he's going to try to run on in 2020 as well despite his history in New York with the Central Park Five.

BOOKER: Well, look, he has a pretty sad history. Not only of overt expressions of racism and bigotry, but that bill that he's going to be bragging about has large components of bills that I wrote. Everything from ending solitary confinement for juveniles on a federal level to even lowering mandatory minimums, something I was fighting for long before he became president of the United States.

But, again, I admit I worked across the aisle. We got this done. That's something that I see as a point of pride. But I also see it as just the beginning. Because we still have a profoundly unjust criminal justice system and he should know, because as Bryan Stevenson says, we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent.

Men like him have been abusing the system and abusing the rights of not only African-Americans but frankly the over-incarceration of women, people who are mentally ill, the over-incarceration of the poor. So I'm going to fight to take this a lot further.

I'm happy that I was able to show that I can get progress in a divided senate, but I'm going to show as president that I can end mass incarceration once and for all and do important things like bring police accountable in our country so we do not have that kind of implicit racial bias that is so hurting our criminal justice system.

COOPER: Senator Booker, I just want to ask you on a slightly lighter note. I'm asking this to someone who has occasionally been caught rolling his eyes on camera. There is a photo of you looking at Beto O'Rourke as he begins to speak in Spanish. You're giving him kind of amazing side-eye.


COOPER: I wonder if you've seen the photo. What was going through your mind at that moment, if you can remember?

BOOKER: I can't really remember.


BOOKER: I just knew he had laid a gauntlet down and I was talking a little bit with Castro. Both he and I knew as people who could speak Spanish that now we were going to bring it as well.


BOOKER: But I can't remember exactly what I was thinking in that moment. I realize there are a lot of bilingual people --


BOOKER: -- some even trilingual in this race. I'm happy to have those skills.

[23:50:00] COOPER: Yeah. Senator Booker, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

COOPER: All right. Back with our team now for more perspective.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he handled that well.


CHALIAN: Tomorrow night we'll be there all night. He's got like seven languages. (LAUGHTER)

BORGER: It sounds like Booker was kind of mad that O'Rourke got there first. As he said, he pulled it out first. I was going to do that. You did that. I'm not happy about it.

COOPER: Just in terms of the campaign that Cory Booker has ran thus far, I think there are a lot of people who -- you know, supporters of Cory Booker early on and certainly as you said, as mayor in New York who have been disappointed at the kind of the ark of his campaign thus far.

JONES: Underwhelming so far and surprisingly so because I have known Cory Booker for 25 years. When Cory -- I graduated from law school in '93, he showed up in '93 in that fall and took over the law school. There was a team Booker for president camp (ph) and the law school 25 years ago. People were totally --


JONES: Really. That's the history. You have before Bill Clinton, after Bill Clinton, before Cory Booker, after Cory Booker. So, I think people expected him to come out like a rocket and he hasn't yet. I am happy though that you now have both political parties fighting for the mantle of criminal justice reform. Who would have thought that even five years ago?

You have both parties, mass incarceration parties for a long time. Democrats and Republicans got us into this ditch. To have Donald Trump and Cory Booker and Biden arguing about who is going to do the most to de-incarcerate America, I think that's a very, very powerful and a positive development in our country.

AXELROD: I agree with you. Can I just speak to the politics of this? First of all, I think Booker is a very talented guy. I had him on the X-Files recently. He was very impressive. We did it in New York City hall. To your point, he has a great story to tell there.

We should go back to the fact this is a process. That it starts in Iowa and runs through New Hampshire. I was surprised because he has been organizing very well and getting good crowds in Iowa. When this Iowa poll came out recently, he was at one or two percent. He has to make --


AXELROD: -- progress there. If he finishes fifth, sixth, seventh in Iowa, he can't activate support in places like Nevada, South Carolina and beyond. And so --

JONES: One positive moment for him though is that if you look at the Google searches in South Carolina and throughout the south, his Google searches went through the roof. So there are --

MCINTOSH: He needs 45,000 new donors just to clear the next hurdle. So that better happen -- (LAUGHTER)

MCINTOSH: I want to see him on the next phase.

AXELROD: I'm just saying the challenge for him, you know, he got elected, he toppled the incumbent mayor of New York by going door to door, he wants to replicate that in Iowa, and he has to finish in the top tier of candidates in order to realize his potential. By the way, he's running for reelection in New Jersey, so he is hedging.

CHALIAN: They changed the law, so he could do so. I'll just mention in that same Iowa poll, David, one of the positive things for Booker in that poll is he had a lot of upside. He was in that group that when we asked Iowa caucus goers, who first choice, second choice and actively considering, he was up there in that group that had Iowa Democrats thinking about him. He's on the menu for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it is a process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he helped himself tonight.

JONES: He helped himself tonight. He could grow. Here's one thing, if Elizabeth Warren winds up as the nominee, he is probably the most likely person to be the vice president because she is going to need to balance the ticket racially from a gender point of view and ideologically.

So, he has got two tickets to this dance. I think we got to keep that in mind. I would write Cory Booker off too soon, but he has got to do something. He's still -- he's got to find a gear where he begins to make some progress or he's in deep trouble.

BORGER: Don't you think he was trying to do that when he was attacking Joe Biden on the segregation?

JONES: How desperate is that when like the best you can say is like don't say nice things to segregationists, this is my rational to be president? I thought that was --

BORGER: I understand that. I totally agree with you.

JONES: -- sad for Cory.

BORGER: I totally agree with you, but I think that was part of this push to kind of say, OK, look at me, look at me.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And to try to gain some traction among African-American voters because that's what we have seen with Biden. He's doing very well among African-American voters. The two African-American candidates in this race, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, haven't gotten much traction at all. And I think it's one of the reasons why you saw Cory Booker tonight talked about being African-American and talked about his history in the city.

COOPER: We are going to take another quick break. We still have more debate to discuss with the panel as well as conversations with more candidates, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic voters in Iowa, as our 360 coverage continues.


COOPER: Good evening, again. Welcome to our continuing coverage of tonight's big event, the first of the two-part Democratic debate in Miami, the first debate of the campaign going into the night. Every candidate was looking for a breakout moment. Our first guest tonight has been credited with one of them. Take a look.


JULIAN CASTRO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reason that they're separating these little children from families is that they're using section 13, 25 of that act, which criminalizes coming across the border to incarcerate the parents and then separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. Some, like Congressman O'Rourke, have not. I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that.


CASTRO: I just think it's a mistake, Beto. I think it's a mistake. And I think that if you truly want to change the system, then we got to repeal that section. If not --


CASTRO: -- then it might as well be the same policy.

O'ROURKE: I'll respond to this very briefly. As a member of Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that would ensure we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country.

CASTRO: I'm not talking about --

O'ROURKE: If you're fleeing desperation, then I want to make sure --

CASTRO: I'm talking about everybody else. I'm still talking about everybody else.

O'ROURKE: But you're looking at just one small part of this. I'm talking about a comprehensive rewrite of our immigration law.

CASTRO: That's not true.

O'ROURKE: And if you do that --


CASTRO: -- millions of folks. A lot of folks that are coming are not seeking asylum. A lot of them are undocumented immigrants.