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First Batch of Democrats Square Off in a CNN Presidential Debate; Amy Klobuchar Checks Inslee on Support for Women's Healthcare; CNN Gets Access to Controversial Texas Migrant Facility. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 27, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:45] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. Were you up late? We were. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim Sciutto is on assignment. He'll join us from the G-20 tomorrow.

And last night, a night's pull ahead, fall behind or just get noticed. The first Democratic debate in the books and divisions over key issues like immigration and health care exposed 10 candidates battling it out for time on the stage. And some seen as using that time to their advantage.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People want to know, can you stand up to Donald Trump? Can you handle yourself? Can you hold your own? And I've more than held my own last night.


HARLOW: As far as Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman, not near the top of the polls right now but targeted like he is by his rivals. Still this morning he's feeling good about how it went last night.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd give myself an A. I choose to define myself not against other people. I'm really running not against any of those other candidates but for the United States of America.


HARLOW: You are running against all of those other candidates, but tonight the second round of Democrats are set to face off. We'll see the two front runners in the polls battle it out.

Let's go to my colleague MJ Lee. She joins us in beautiful Miami this morning.

MJ, I thought it was riveting. I was fascinated by the entire two hours. What struck you? MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Poppy. Ten

candidates were fighting for precious airtime last night on a very crowded debate stage. Elizabeth Warren was obviously standing center stage and she came out of this largely unscathed. She didn't have any major stumbles and not a lot of the candidates took any major shots at her. But really for everybody else flanking Elizabeth Warren last night, what they were looking for was a breakout moment. And one candidate who had a breakout moment was Julian Castro.

The former Housing secretary, he has been struggling to register in the polls. He ended up making a very impassioned argument for decriminalizing people who come across the border illegally. Take a listen to what he said. He even took a shot at a fellow candidate while making this argument.


CASTRO: Watching that image of Oscar and his daughter Valeria is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off. Using Section 1325 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. And I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that. I just think it's a mistake --


CASTRO: I think that you should do your homework on this issue. If you did your homework on this issue you would know that we should repeal this.


LEE: Now what we didn't see last night were personal insults. There was no mudslinging, but what was very clear was the breadth and range of policy positions that all of these candidates are taking on the debate stage. And one topic that made this particularly clear was the issue of health care. Take a listen.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, yes, I'm with Bernie on Medicare-for-All. Health care is a basic human right. And I will fight for basic human rights.


LESTER HOLT, DEBATE MODERATOR: Would you replace private insurance?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I think the choice is fundamental to our ability to get everybody --

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, wait, wait. Congressman O'Rourke. Congressman O'Rourke. Private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans. Why are you defending private insurance -- JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hundred million Americans

say they like their private health insurance, by the way. It should be noted that a hundred million Americans -- I mean, I think we should be the party that keeps what's working and fixes what's broken.


LEE: Now I should note what we didn't see in that fight was Elizabeth Warren raising her hand when the candidates were asked, do you support getting rid of private insurance, and this was a noteworthy moment because yes, she has said in the past she fully supports Medicare-for- All, this is Bernie Sanders' plan, of course. However, she has been a little bit more subtle in saying well, there are different ways of getting there or there are maybe incremental steps that we can take to get there. So clearly the message that she was trying to send last night was there's no space between me and Bernie Sanders -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, full Bernie there. We're in lockstep in this one, that was very clear.

[09:05:02] So much was fascinating to me, MJ, including the fact that a number of them chose to speak Spanish in some of their answers. Beto O'Rourke right out of the gate. You saw that sort of glare, can I call it, that Cory Booker gave him or the side eye and then Cory Booker did it a little bit later. Julian Castro did it as well. How did that play?

LEE: You know, Poppy, I was thinking last night it's too bad that Spanish is not one of the languages I speak.

HARLOW: Me too.

LEE: No, but this was really remarkable. The number of candidates that we saw break out into Spanish and the number of times that they did this, let's actually listen to a number of the candidates that spoke Spanish last night.


BOOKER: (Speaking in foreign language). The situation right now is unacceptable. The president has attacked and demonized immigrants. It's unacceptable. I'm going to change that.

O'ROURKE: (Speaking in foreign language). We need to include everyone in the success of this country. But if we want to do this, we have to include everyone in our democracy. Every voter needs representation, and every voice must be listened to.

CASTRO: (Speaking in foreign language). My name is Julian Castro, and I am running for president of the United States.


LEE: You know, Poppy, what was also remarkable last night was just seeing the diversity on stage. We had a number of candidates that were candidates of color, we have three women. Just a great snapshot I think of the changing demographics of the Democratic Party -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Absolutely, absolutely. And the embrace of that by the party, right?

MJ Lee, thank you. Great reporting.

Let's talk about this now. Senior political analyst Mark Preston has slept an hour but he's here. "New York Times" political reporter Lisa Lerer and CNN national correspondent Athena Jones.

Thank you all for being up early with us.

Mark Preston, to you. Speaking Spanish in that way, a number of them shows the changing demographics, shows the embrace of the Democratic Party of it.


HARLOW: I kept wondering did Section 1325, which I bet a whole lot of folks Googled last night, did that on immigration become a new litmus test for these candidates?

PRESTON: It very well could be. It's something that I don't think people were necessarily prepared to weigh in on. I don't think Beto O'Rourke was necessarily prepare to weigh in on that and to get into a fight with Julian Castro or debate last night. But it could be because now the gauntlet has been thrown down and are you for it or are you against it?

HARLOW: Should it be a criminal act.


HARLOW: To illegally cross the border or not.

PRESTON: Or not.

HARLOW: That's the basic question.

PRESTON: Which is a lot. It goes back to the early 1900s that wasn't really enforced until, you know, fairly recently.

HARLOW: Pushed. Yes, exactly.

Lisa, to you, one thing that struck me as well is that transgender rights really rose to the fore on the national stage for the first time in a presidential election last night and that's a big deal.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. We really have never heard that many mentions of transgender rights. I think that's a sign of two things. First of all, how the issue has gotten a lot more prominence in American life and American culture since the last presidential cycle. But also where the Democratic Party has moved and who they feel they need to speak to and that on a lot of these issues such as LGBQ rights, you know, the goal posts have moved a little to the left and it's not -- the issue of gay marriage feels fairly settled in the party so what's the next frontier?


LERER: And you see that not only on -- you know, on issues like gay marriage but on other issues as well.

HARLOW: Yes. For sure.

So, Athena, to you, Julian Castro, clearly the break out last night. He thinks he did really well. He told "NEW DAY" this morning, quote, "Clearly I had a good night." The question becomes, is it enough to give this momentum legs? Can he fund raise enough to meet the qualifying factors for the future debates? Where does this go?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly that's the big question. But if you ask the question of who made the most of their moment, who had made the most of their minutes, who was able to deliver a vision to the American people and who seemed most prepared, Castro is the answer to all of those questions along with a few others in some examples. And so this was this moment. We'll have to see if this means he's caught fire here.

But it's interesting when you look at the time breakdown. He had about nine minutes. He was able to not only talk about his biography, talk about being raised by a single mother, talk about things like the equal rights amendment and reproductive justice, these are the kinds of things that are getting a lot of attention in the Democratic Party, and so he certainly hopes that this means he's going to get a new look. And we do know that already from Google trends the number of searches, the number of people searching him grew by several thousand percent last night.

HARLOW: Yes. Noteworthy as well to have three women on that stage tonight -- last night, of course, and then tonight as well. Kamala Harris will be up there, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Mark Preston, to you, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, seen by many, talked about how many in the early days of the campaign, you know, someone who is a bit more moderate, who has won Republican districts, who has worked for Republicans. Did that help her or hurt her last night? Because she had some one-liners about beer and foam and deer country and --


[09:10:05] HARLOW: You know, that you think would be more palatable to some of those voters in the middle. Did it work?

PRESTON: It might have worked for some of those voters but I could group her together with Tim Ryan, with somebody who you did a town hall with, and you saw him in action when he was solo, I think that both of them, you know, were trying to play to middle America, trying to -- tried to play off these --

HARLOW: That's where they're from, right? PRESTON: Correct. Because they're representing who they represent,

right? They are who they are and they're trying to authentic. Having said that, I think there was a bit of nervousness on both of their parts last night that certainly showed through at the beginning. And when someone like Julian Castro comes in and really takes over the stage.


PRESTON: Doesn't command the stage, takes over the stage, it's hard to break through.

HARLOW: That's interesting because remember Senator Klobuchar's real breakout moment was during the Kavanaugh hearing.


HARLOW: And we maybe didn't see a moment like that last night from her?

PRESTON: No, I don't think so. But again, 10 people on the stage, very difficult. But she had the opportunity, though, to be the voice of moderate politics, right, because Joe Biden is supposed to be that voice tonight.


PRESTON: I don't know if that broke through.

HARLOW: OK, stay here. Don't go anywhere. We have a lot more to talk about on this front.

Also this is big morning, folks, for the law of the land. What will the high court decide in some key cases. The Supreme Court is set to issue key rulings. This is the final day of its term. Those decisions have major, major consequences for all of us.

Jessica Schneider has been following all of it.

Jess, no one knows this stuff better than you. What are we going to get today?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, you know, for a court and particularly a chief justice who have really stressed the apolitical nature of the court, the cases to be released, to be decided today, really have major political implications and front and center is this decision as to whether or not the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Now this case was argued in April and at the time the conservative justices really seemed to indicate that it was well within the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' right to add this to citizenship question to the census but since then the ACLU has discovered this trove of documents that they say proves an improper political motivation in adding this question. Specifically they point to a study from a now deceased Republican redistricting expert who said that by counting only the citizen voting age population that it would significantly advantage Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.

Now those -- that evidence was not considered by the Supreme Court arguments and that's exactly why the ACLU has asked the court to delay its decision until more fact-finding can be done. It's unclear if the Supreme Court will do that but on another front the ACLU is also asking a Maryland judge to step in here by tomorrow to stop this question from being added. That's happening on a totally different track on the Supreme Court so that's complicating things as well.

And Poppy, there are other major decisions with political complications, too. We're waiting for a decision on extreme partisan gerrymandering.


SCHNEIDER: That's when politicians could go too far in drawing those district lines for political gain. There's also three other outstanding opinions. So a lot of open questions here, Poppy, but we should get more answers today at 10:00 a.m. -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Forty-seven minutes to go, really important things that will change a lot for people in this country. Either way they're decided, you'll be there.

Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

Still to come for us this hour, he was not in the room but for some candidates President Trump was front and center in the debate last night. The candidates' strategies going after the president next. And CNN takes you inside of that controversial migrant detention facility in Texas where reports of incredibly poor conditions especially for children have sparked outrage across the country. What our reporter Nick Valencia saw first-hand.

Plus, E. Jean Carroll, the woman who has accused the president of sexually attacking her told two friends about it at the time that she says this happened and those women are speaking out today.


[09:15:00] HARLOW: All right, welcome back. So, the first Democratic debate exposing the playbook for these Democrats, but ripping Trump, that's a strategy most of the candidates really didn't take on last night. Two Democrats often targeted by the president himself, Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio didn't mention the president at all. Senator Amy Klobuchar took aim at the president nine times.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that not everyone is sharing in this prosperity, and Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats. The point is Donald Trump told us when he got out of it that he was going to give us a better deal. I'm someone that can win and beat Donald Trump. I have won in the reddest of districts, ones that Donald Trump won by over 20 points.


HARLOW: All right, back with me, Mark Preston, Lisa Lerer, Athena Jones. So, Mark, it sort of seems like you've got an advantage if you're going tonight because you got to watch last night. So, what do the candidates tonight on the stage take away from the ten Democrats last night?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, so an interesting question. I was talking to some of the campaigns last night in real- time --


PRESTON: As they were watching this, and from my take-away was they were changing their debate plans, meaning what they were preparing for is not necessarily what they saw last night, so I do think you're going to see a couple of things tonight. One, you're going to see this debate get hot a lot faster --

HARLOW: Interesting like jumping in.

PRESTON: Correct, because last night, it took a little bit, but once people saw that it worked for them, you're going to see that tonight as well. I also think tonight that you are going to see the likes of Bernie Sanders really try to distinguish himself as the liberal voice. He doesn't want to see that to Elizabeth Warren and then he looked over shoulder and Bill de Blasio while he's way behind him, way behind him --

HARLOW: Yes --

PRESTON: Was trying to make a play for it.

HARLOW: That's absolutely true --


HARLOW: From his first remarks to his closing --

PRESTON: Right --

HARLOW: Statements last night. So, listen to this, this struck me. I think, you know, John Delaney had to make a name for himself last night to the majority of America, and here's the case that he made.


[09:20:00] JOHN DELANEY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why are you defending their private insurance --


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D-NYC) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They like their private health insurance by the way. It should be noted that 100 million Americans -- I mean, I think we should be the party that keeps what's working and fixes what's broken. (APPLAUSE)


HARLOW: You know, if you're super liberal, super progressive, Athena, you're not going to like that, but if you're in the middle like the majority of the party, you're listening to that and you're thinking, that's interesting. What's your read?

JONES: Well, so, you heard the applause he got for saying we should keep the things that are working and fix the things that need to be fixed. He's trying to be the pragmatic voice or one of the pragmatic voices on the stage. And you're right, it's a time when a lot of progressives don't necessarily want to hear that.

They don't want to hear about how difficult some of this will be, and he was trying to speak truth to that issue. The real issue for Delaney though of course is that he had to struggle to get in there. He had to struggle to get speaking time and he wasn't able to make them as much of his short time as folks like Governor Inslee and even Bill de Blasio who made a lot of jumping in there.

And at one point even sort of directing the narrative of this debate. So, yes, Delaney was able to show himself to be the pragmatist, but it's hard to see --

HARLOW: Yes --

JONES: Whether he also was able to introduce --

HARLOW: Right --

JONES: Himself to voters and to give himself a chance to catch fire.

HARLOW: I thought the personal stories worked well. Like when I learned that Delaney's dad was a union electrician and he loved his healthcare, that was interesting to me, right? Or Julian Castro being raised by a single mother, and him talking about the equal rights amendment, Lisa Lerer, as one of the first things that he would do.

That garnered a lot of applause. Bill de Blasio, Mayor de Blasio playing up, I'm the chief executive of the biggest city in America, right? Someone who's been mocked on the front pages of "New York Post" here, et cetera for even running, did he change the game for himself in a good way last night?

LERER: Well, I think this was really an opportunity for him to introduce himself for most to the country while, you know, those of us in New York or in Washington may be very familiar with de Blasio and certainly of the mockery that he takes from some of the biggest papers in the city.

You know, a lot of Democratic voters across the country may be far less familiar with him. So, I think he did a really strong job of interjecting himself of putting himself out there as someone who thinks that he can make the argument to win back some of those Trump voters, even though he is on the progressive side of things.

The thing that I noticed from talking to campaigns that a lot of them have taken away from was the format. That this was not a great format for candidates who are more of those kind of story-tellers. The Cory Bookers, the Beto O'Rourkes, these answers had to be crisp and they had to be sharp.

And you really -- there's a sense that you had to come out early with those zingers especially because it is an open question, how many viewers are ready to tune in for four hours over two nights of Democratic debates six months before the first round of voting.

HARLOW: Yes --

LERER: So, I think that's what we're going to see a lot more of tonight.

HARLOW: Mark Preston, on the issue of women's rights and equality and abortion rights, we saw what Senator Klobuchar said back, shot back at Governor Inslee --

PRESTON: Right --

HARLOW: Which wasn't exactly what he was saying by the way. But how did it play?

PRESTON: Oh, so, it was a couple of things. One is and just to play off Lisa there, this was all about moments, manufactured moments. That was a manufactured moment. Jay Inslee was trying to distinguish himself from what he did as a lawmaker, as a governor --

HARLOW: In Washington --

PRESTON: In his state --

HARLOW: State --

PRESTON: Right, to try to get legislation passed and laws put in effect that would help women. And then we saw it was taken and it was distorted and twisted, and it worked for Amy Klobuchar. I don't think it was necessarily fear, but in politics, you know, I guess, life isn't very fair.

But I do think we saw a lot of manufacturing moments and we're going to see manufacturing moments tonight. They're not going to be as organic, they're not going to feel as comfortable, but they're going to happen.

HARLOW: So, Athena, what was the most effective, not manufactured moment, because I can tell -- I mean, I think we can all tell when they're repeating things they've been practicing in debate preps for a long time. But there were also some very organic moments. What resonated the most?

JONES: Well, I thought it was interesting that Governor Inslee was able to really lay out his vision, explain to voters who he was. We've been talking about how this one minute, 30 seconds to respond format isn't great for really explaining your biography to people who aren't familiar with you.

He did a very good job of saying, look, I'm all about climate change, about these other things as well, here is who I am and he used his five or six minutes very well, same thing about Mayor de Blasio. But it was -- certainly was clearly prepared with a plan to make a name for himself and just struck contrast particularly with Beto O'Rourke.

HARLOW: That was interesting that Inslee didn't say the biggest threat to the globe right now is climate change. That's his entire platform, right? He said it was Donald Trump. All right, guys, thank you very much, Mark Preston, Athena Jones, Lisa Lerer, we appreciate it.

[09:25:00] All right, ahead for us. CNN gets rare access inside of a Texas detention center where right now children -- those migrant children are being housed. This is after reports of just deplorable conditions in there for the kids. We'll tell you what our reporter saw ahead.

We're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, investors are going to be watching Boeing this morning after a new problem was discovered with that 737 Max aircraft. The flaw now expected to delay again the plane's return to the skies.