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Democrat Fight Night Round One Is Officially In The History Books; The Great Immigration Debate; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Talks About The House Border Bill. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 27, 2019 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, you are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here. Democrat Fight Night round one is officially in the history books and it is clear that more than one candidate tried to score a knockout punch in last night's debate. Julian Castro along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both taking aim at former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard, and Ohio's Tim Ryan sparred over who was responsible for 911.

While Amy Klobuchar got in jabs at both President Trump and her fellow Democrat Jay Inslee. And while Elizabeth Warren was right there, smack dab center stage, she made sure to let voters know her policies reflect the party's left wing. Here now are the candidates in their own words.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can make our government, we can make our economy, we can make our country work, not just for those at the top, we can make it work for everyone. And I promise you this, I will fight for you as hard as like fight to my own family.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Title 21 and Title 22 already cover human trafficking --

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Would you replace private insurance?

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

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. When you talk about the copays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out of pocket expenses, it's not working.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we're going to somehow squash this Taliban that has been there, that every other country that's tried and failed.

RYAN: I didn't say -- I didn't say squash them. I didn't say squash them. When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings. So I'm just saying right now, we have an obligation...

GABBARD: The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. Al-Qaeda did.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think we should conduct foreign policies in our bathrobe at five in the morning.

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

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


BALDWIN: Woo and that was just night number one. Eliza Collins is a national political reporter with "The Wall Street Journal." Eliza Nice to see you again. Listen tonight, night number two, totally new crop of candidates including front runner Joe Biden. Now we saw last night Senator Elizabeth Warren standing above the fray. Do you think the former Vice President will be able to do the same?

ELIZA COLLINS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, tonight is a whole different ballgame really, because we have the front runner Joe Biden, we have Bernie Sanders who's currently polling two or three, we have Pete Buttigieg up there. And we have Kamala Harris.

So, really four out of the top five candidates are on the stage tonight. And Senator Sanders and Joe Biden have very clear differences. And Senator Sanders has not been afraid to go after Joe Biden already in his campaign. And Joe Biden has made very clear that he is trying to take sort of a centrist approach and appeal to independence and Republican voters. So, I think already, we know all of that going into tonight, so it could get messy, but last night got a little bit more heated than we expected.

BALDWIN: Well, there was a lot on policy, there was a lot of, you know, you can tell the moderators were trying to figure out where the daylight existed right on issues, like immigration and health care, but you didn't hear as much about President Trump.

So, you know, Biden, as we all know, has made beating Trump really the centerpiece of his campaign. Are you expecting a shift in messaging this evening?

COLLINS: I think so. I think the top four candidates tonight have really all tried to talk about the President and sort of step ahead of the primary and kind of exhibit to voters that they can beat President Trump in a general election. Biden has talked a lot about that. Bernie Sanders recently has pointed to polls that have him beating the President.

We've seen Kamala Harris come out a lot and talk about sort of her history as a prosecutor and prosecuting the President on things that she deems to be, you know, crimes. And so, I think we will see all of those candidates kind of trying to jump ahead of the primary because they are polling a little bit higher and try to go directly at President Trump.

BALDWIN: Eliza Collins, thank you very much. I want to keep the conversation rolling along. Todd Graham is debate director for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. So, Todd, nice to have you back. I know that you were working on grading these various candidates. Starting with last night, you say Elizabeth Warren earned an A-minus. Tell me why.

TODD GRAHAM, DEBATE DIRECTOR SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY CARBONDALE: Well, she did. I thought she began -- what brought the minus in for her was her very first answer. She seemed a little anxious and she seemed a little nervous at the beginning, which is not unexpected and probably her biggest moment of her political career.

But after that first answer, I thought she got right on track and she had some really good answers to things like healthcare and corporations and profiteering and then she closed it really well with her closing statement.

[14:05:10] GRAHAM: I thought Elizabeth Warren did a terrific job, especially staying above the fray. As you played earlier, some of the cross talk that was going on back and forth, and you couldn't really understand anybody. For the most part, Elizabeth Warren stayed out of that. And I thought that was a smart ploy.

BALDWIN: But explain this to me, because I know you've said that it's -- it was a disadvantage to be one of the candidates, you know, debate night number one, but you're also saying it was good for Warren. So how so?

GRAHAM: Yes, it both played out. So, I said it could be an advantage or a disadvantage. It worked well, for Warren, because she had a good debate. So that's how it becomes an advantage. But it's easier to actually blow it in the first debate than to have a good debate.

In other words, you can't win the nomination on the first night, but you can lose it. Did that happen? Absolutely. Why was it bad to go on the first night, his name is Beto O'Rourke. He lost the nomination last night. And I can't say this anymore clearly.

Most of us don't know much about him. I had never really seen him personally give too many speeches. I hadn't seen him. And last night, I couldn't have been less impressed by him. No, I think he did absolutely what I was afraid somebody would do, which is lose a nomination by having such a poor debate.

BALDWIN: Yikes. It's still so early. It's still so early.

GRAHAM: It is. I know this. BALDWIN: I hear you on the criticism and it was really -- it was the

back and forth that he had with Julian Castro like you know, Google searches went berserk over people educating on who was Julian Castro. You gave him a grade of a B-minus. And this is the moment that I noted, that you noted where he really stood out. Let's play it.


CASTRO: Watching that image of Oscar and his daughter by Valeria is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off.


BALDWIN: Why did that really resonate with you?

GRAHAM: Because he was speaking like a real person. One of the reasons Donald Trump is popular is because he speaks like the rest of us do. And oftentimes these political candidates and sometimes last night, even people like Amy Klobuchar said things that seemed canned or not really coming from her.

Yet, last night when we heard Castro say that we knew that that's how he meant it. That's what he meant to say. And that's what people like about Trump. And I think that's the attitude you need to have in a debate. Be yourself, even if it means you have to say something like that.

BALDWIN: So there were some contentious exchanges. Do you think that Trump has really changed the way we now view debates? I mean, they've always had some element of confrontation. But do you think Americans are like expecting it or wanting it?

GRAHAM: Yes. I mean, it's a yes and no, sort of an answer.

BALDWIN: That was a yes.

GRAHAM: Yes, less on the Democrat side. But yes, and here's why, because eight years ago, I famously once said on air that Americans don't actually like arguing in debates, they wanted to be more pleasant and that's most certainly shifted. And you will say that that's mostly because of Donald Trump.

So last night, there was a lot of that. But that was also though, Brooke, because there's just too many people on stage. And if you're, if you're polling low in the numbers, you've got to jump right in there sometimes. And while that can be a good thing, that can also be a really bad thing. And so, that's one of the reasons I think there was a little bit of infighting.

BALDWIN: Soon enough, those numbers will dwindle. Todd Graham, thank you very much. You know, huge, huge topic was immigration. And with the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border making so much news this week. The great immigration debate is a topic many are passionate about, case and point, this heated exchange between 2020 candidates Julian Castro and Beto O'Rourke. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTRO: 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. Some of us on this stage have 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. I think it's a mistake. And I think that that if you truly want to change the system, then we have got to repeal that Section.


BALDWIN: And just to be clear, Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act applies a criminal violation to anyone crossing the border illegally, as opposed to treating it as a civil infraction. And so, Julian Castro wants to repeal that.

CNN political analyst Luis Gutierrez is a former Democratic Congressman from Illinois. So, Congressman, nice to see you. Let me ask you, you know, listening to that last night -- making border crossings a civil offense, right? It's been this cornerstone of Castro's campaign. Do you agree with it?

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I agree with it. And so, there's a whole immigrant rights movement in the country. And so, it was astonishing to me that Beto O'Rourke wouldn't also embrace it.

[14:10:04] GUTIERREZ: I watched my colleague Ryan, Congressman Ryan from Ohio who said, we have to take a look at them. I mean, even the centrist more moderate Democrats, whether from Minnesota, or from Ohio were taking a look at it.

And so, I don't understand. And I think it's fundamental, because he spoke about Oscar, and his 23-month-old daughter, who we saw the pictures. I know how I woke up yesterday, to watching that on the screen of my TV set, and I know the impact it had on me. And so I thank Julian Castro for bringing it up within the context of the debate.

Let's remember that it is very infrequently used until the Trump administration and now they use it. And how do we get Section 1325? Here's how we get it. We get it because a racist, white supremacist senator in 1929, from South Carolina, put it in there. The same senator who thought that lynching was okay on black people and that we should exclude all Asians from entering the country. That is the historical framework in which we must see Section 1325.

BALDWIN: So Castro wants to repeal it. That was a huge discussion point last night. And then you heard him when he got into that back and forth with Beto O'Rourke, you know, Castro with a little shade saying clearly, you know, O'Rourke didn't do his homework. So you think O'Rourke didn't do his homework? GUTIERREZ: Look, I think that Julian Castro did something very, very

well. He wanted to make sure that, you know, it was a lot more O'Rourke and a lot less Beto coming from Texas, and that he was Castro and that he was the one was going to define the debate.

And it seems to me that I was kind of thinking about it. It's almost like I say, "Oh, because let's make sure we understand, Beto O'Rourke has a wonderful plan for immigration reform," notwithstanding that he doesn't want to repeal the Section.

So I don't quite understand why he's quibbling about it. You would think he would embrace it? Because it's almost like saying, "Well, I'm for everybody getting a college education." But you know, unless you haven't paid those overdue bill at your local library for the book you took out when you were in high school.

I mean, there isn't that big of a difference for me and for those within the immigrant rights community. So I think when you talked about a knockout punch, I think it really was. Because what he was able to -- what Castro was able to do yesterday is bring such sincerity, right? Such honesty to the debate, because I felt, where is the moral outrage at seeing the death of this father and his child and --

BALDWIN: It was there and it was among several of the candidates and, you know, of course, the moderator himself and on the note of Spanish speaking. I just wanted to ask you because a number of candidates, many of whom were just talking about, you know, took the opportunity to speak directly to the Spanish-speaking voters. Here's a sample.



CASTRO: (Speaking in Spanish)



BALDWIN: And this is how Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacted to that.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I loved it because it did -- I represent the Bronx, there was a lot of Spanglish in the building. I mean, it was -- I thought it was humorous sometimes at times. But it was it was good. I thought it was a good gesture to the fact that we are diverse countries.


BALDWIN: So Congressman, there's been this whole discussion in the wake of last night, right? You have one camp who says, "Okay, this makes the Latino community feel, pandered to," but then the other says, "No, they felt heard," where do you fall?

GUTIERREZ: They felt heard. Look, let me put it to you this way. If I had spoken Spanish and used some of the verbs and mispronunciations of the Spanish language that some of the candidates had last night, I would probably be severely criticized. But when you're non-Hispanic, and you try, right, and you're giving it your all, and you're, you're showing that you really care, here's how Latinos respond. They'll listen to you.

And what they say is, they open their eyes and they say, I'm going to listen to that candidate because that candidate really cares. So I think it's really a manner.

[14:15:01] GUTIERREZ: And let's remember that within the context of the campaign, there will be tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the next presidential campaign, on ads in Spanish, on radio, on TV, on the internet. And there will be people on Hispanic language TV from Trump and from the Democratic Party debating and discussing this issue.

So yes, I would say that if you're in Miami, LA, New York, and sometimes even in Chicago, the number one broadcast at the 10 o'clock News is in Spanish, that it's probably a smart idea to speak to the largest growing minority population over 50 million strong.

And studies have shown, from purely political point of view, studies have shown that between 35 and 40 percent of Latino voters receive most of their information in the Spanish language when it comes to how they make a decision about a candidate and how they form their opinions.

So I think it was very good. And look, I know some people will say they were cringing because of some of the mispronunciations. The Latino community that was listening to that, they were they were saying, "He tried, thank you. I give you credit for doing that."

BALDWIN: I would be curious to see if anyone tries tonight. Former Congressman Luis Gutierrez, good to see you. Thank you very much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here, the U.S. Supreme Court with the consequential decision on partisan gerrymandering, what this could mean for your vote. And fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a damning take on President Trump's foreign policy. How he says the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner is going rogue. And, we have more on our breaking news, moderate Democrats right now are trying to kill the House border bill, kill it. I'll talk to a Congressman and current Presidential candidate who will be up on that debate stage tonight. We'll talk to him next.


[14:21:43] BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The U.S. Supreme Court just handed down to long awaited rulings. In one case, the justice is ruled against the Trump administration and its effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Critics say the administration had biased motivations for adding question. President Trump just now weighing in on Twitter all the way from Japan where he is attending that G20 summit, he says he is asking his lawyers to quote "delay the census."

Quick fact check, it is in the U.S. Constitution, Article I Section 2, that the census must take place every 10 years. The other big decision today has major political implications for this country's elections.

The justices will allow even the most severe gerrymandering to continue saying that the Constitution does not allow the courts to weigh in on how voting maps are drawn.

Two topics that we certainly could see confronted at Night Two of those Democratic debates, here is Congressman Eric Swalwell will be one of those candidates on that stage in just a couple hours. So Congressman, a pleasure, sir. Welcome.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

BALDWIN: So let's dive in on all things Supreme Court. What was your reaction when you heard the five to four gerrymandering decision today?

SWALWELL: Well, it's a setback for our democracy. And you know what, Brooke, the only reason I'm in Congress is because we had good government reform in California back in 2010, where we took the drawing of congressional lines out of the hands of politicians who would always draw them to protect themselves and their party. And we put them in the hands of people who relied on math and God forbid geography.

And so, I was able to take on a 40-year incumbent in my own party. Most states don't have independent commission. So you have rigged partisan gerrymandered lines, we passed in Congress the For The People Act that would require -- in every state it's an independent commission. So we need that passed in the Senate and signed into law by the next President, otherwise, the voters will continue to be silenced by incumbent politicians.

BALDWIN: So what's -- what then is the impact when people can draw all these, you know, lines all over the place, you know, across this country in terms of districts, what's the direct impact on the Democratic party?

SWALWELL: Gridlock in Washington. So we're going to go crisis to crisis, put down, to smack down, to shut down because the consensus people have on healthcare, climate chaos, student loans, gun violence, outside of Congress will not be reached inside because the lines are rigged, and you get people who were, you know, their candidacies are reinforced by the politicians who keep protecting them.

And so, again, this is going to take a Senate that will take up the For The People Act and a President that will sign it.

BALDWIN: Speaking of gridlock, our own man up on Capitol Hill, Manu Raju is now reporting that moderate Democrats in the House, so your colleagues -- they're trying to kill this latest border bill being pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So, what do you say to Democrats who say, just pass the Senate Bill?

SWALWELL: Yes, we have a crisis on our border. And we need to do all we can first and foremost to end any private detention center to allow children to be reunited with their families or to live in homes of Americans who have raised their hands and said, send them to me.

But also, to have these cases adjudicated as quickly as possible. Speaker Pelosi has put forth legislation that would do that. I'm supportive of that. And as President day one, I would end this policy of separating children from their families.

BALDWIN: Tonight, healthcare, right?

[14:25:06] BALDWIN: So, I know that you're on the record for supporting Medicare for all the keeping a private option. We know how Senator Elizabeth Warren feels, her support of ending it, right, entirely, not having that option. Do you think that that is disqualifying to win a general election for her?

SWALWELL: What I will tell you is the American people love choice. It's so centered to who we are.

BALDWIN: Congressman, answer the question. Do you think it's disqualifying for her?

SWALWELL: It's not disqualifying, but it's not what the American people are asking for. They're asking for choice. My wife and I fight insurance companies every day. We have a two-year-old and an eight-month-old. I understand why people are frustrated. That's why I think we should have a public option. But I think this issue also requires a President to challenge us to find cures in our lifetime, to invest public research dollars in genomics, data sharing, and targeted therapies.

Because again, we're so gridlocked budget to budget every three to six months, that we're not doing what we do best as Americans and finding cures for Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's, and cancer. And I think that innovation can also bring down the cost.

BALDWIN: But back to the point about, you know, it wouldn't be disqualifying for her. But so then, do you think ending private insurance would make it harder to win a general election?

SWALWELL: Yes, it is. It just flies in the face, I think of, the choices that people want to have. And you can have a government option. That will bring down the cost and the private insurance markets, but I'm not going to look at a union member in the eye and say I'm going to take away your private union negotiated healthcare if they like that healthcare. BALDWIN: Yes. Another big issue that came up last night, of course,

and you mentioned it a second ago immigration. Do you support decriminalizing crossing the border?

SWALWELL: Yes, I was at the homestead facility earlier this week. I was the first candidate to visit and these are crimes against children. Actually, these aren't crimes committed by these individuals, and people are going to have to be held accountable for the way these children being treated.

BALDWIN: Okay. What is your strategy tonight, Congressman Swalwell? You know, obviously, the guide center stages is the former Vice President. He's the clear front runner. Will you go after his record this evening?

SWALWELL: Well, my top priority as President is to end gun violence. And we are just an hour south of Parkland. I'm the only candidate on the stage who's calling for a ban and buyback of every single assault weapons. So I want to show boldness. I've taken on the NRA, I've taken on the Russians and the Trump campaigns connection to them.

So I've stood up to them. And I will stand up the Donald Trump if I'm the nominee, and I'll show an ability to take him to task and to beat him and not just to beat him but to take our country to a place where we fulfill the promise of working hard and doing better.

BALDWIN: You have got to win the primary first, and you're up there against a lot of people on that stage, Congressman. So with Biden being the front runner, will you take him on directly?

SWALWELL: Well, I'm going to tell the country that we are at our best when we move in one direction, forward. That we in our past, whether it was President Carter, Clinton, Obama, or President Kennedy in the past, there was always a page forward. The American people see these issues today as issues of the future. And we can't have a candidate who has ideas that are stellar than Donald Trump's.

BALDWIN: So you think Biden is a candidate of the past?

SWALWELL: I don't think we can nominate a candidate who has been in government for longer than 20 years. I just don't think that's going to work. I think we need someone who is going to offer a vision for the future, who lives and gets these issues on student debt, gun violence, healthcare cures, climate chaos.

Again, we can't nibble around the edges anymore. These are issues that will affect us in the next generation. And I'll be a President that actually have to live with the decisions that I make. And so that, I think has to be a priority.

BALDWIN: Okay. I think that was a yes. Last question, Congressman, will you be practicing your Spanish tonight?

SWALWELL: I'm going to be me. And so that's not going to include butchering Spanish with great respect for our Spanish listener audiences. But again, I'm going to I'm going to be myself and I think that will be enough.

BALDWIN: Okay. We'll look forward to seeing you and the rest of the folks on that stage. Best of luck to you, Congressman Eric Swalwell, appreciate it.

SWALWELL: Of course, thanks Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just in, we are getting a rare public look at the President's former Campaign Chairman as Paul Manafort. Look at this -- appears in court. Plus, secrets revealed -- the transcript that fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson interview with lawmakers was just released and he rips into the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.