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Sanders Says His Health Plan Will Raise Taxes on Middle Class; Biden Stumbles, Harris Shines in 2nd Democratic Debate, Eclipsing Sanders; Biden Campaign Responds after Rough Debate Performance; Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) Discusses Life Partner's Suicide. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] FAIZ SHAKIR, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: So the question before the American public is, are you willing to pay a little bit more in taxes to have security and stability in your health care system. We believe that the people are going to say, yes, absolutely, at least you're leveling with us, Bernie Sanders. That's a choice we would like to make.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But the devil is in the details. How much more are folks going to be paying in taxes is a huge question. Can you guarantee and define what a little bit more in taxes would be?

SHAKIR: Yes, Kate. What we can be absolutely sure about right now is the family of four pays roughly $20,000 in health care costs right now over the course of a year.

If you can tell them you'll alleviate that and you're going to pay a bit more in taxes, it will not be what they're currently paying in their health care premium costs right now, and you're going to have stability, you can switch jobs, you'll know it will be there for you when you need it, people are going to take that. They want that. They want that choice.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: So, Faiz --

SHAKIR: We welcome that argument.

BOLDUAN: You welcome the campaign ad from Donald Trump playing Bernie Sanders words last night?

SHAKIR: Sorry, Kate. Say that one more time for me?

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry, Faiz. So you welcome a campaign ad being cut by the Trump campaign of what Bernie Sanders said last night?

SHAKIR: We welcome a debate with Donald Trump about this. You've got a president who's taking 32 million people off their health insurance right now. What's he going to say? What's his plan? His plan is nothing.

So if we want to have this debate, let's say, how do we finally solve a system right now, a health insurance system that is governed by corporate greed. What are you going to do about it? You don't get anything for free. You have to pay something for stability and security in your health insurance. And right now, many people, many working Americans do not have that stability that they are seeking.

We will have that debate. We're anxious to have it.

Kate, I would say this about Medicare-for-All. Everyone knows Bernie Sanders is for it. And yet, when you look at the head-to-head polls against Donald Trump, he's beating him in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Why is that? People know what he stands for and they want this change.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the debate last night broadly. Going in last night, I've got to be honest, I was expecting to see a face-off or something between the two candidates that are polling at the top, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Folks did not see that. What folks saw, Faiz, is Kamala Harris talking past Bernie Sanders to take on Joe Biden directly.

Was Sanders eclipsed last night?

SHAKIR: So, first of all, Kate, there's going to be seven more of these debates coming up here. In fact, I think CNN's got the next one in Detroit and there's going to be a lot of debate left to do.

The thing that Bernie Sanders felt like he needed to do is show, what is the vision that you have. Are you willing to take on corporate special interests or not? That's the debate he wants to have. It will play out over the course of the next few debates.

And we're going to be anxious to have that debate with Joe Biden because, ultimately, it's about how your campaign is funded, who you're raising money from, whether you can pledge and promise to have that change.

Last night, Senator Harris did a great job. She brought her "A" game. She had a nice debate. But there's many more of these to come. And we're excited to have this because we're playing for the long haul here, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Does he need to be more aggressive in the next debate? Is that an adjustment that needs to be made?

SHAKIR: We want to have the contrast with him. I think the format of the debate last night, where these one-minute answers, 30-second responses, 10 candidates on stage, you barely can find your time, isn't conducive to having the back and forth.

I'm not even sure Biden even offered a health care plan. What does he want to do?

I hope over the next few debates, what you'll have is Bernie Sanders debating with Joe Biden and others about, what is your plan, are you going to step up to health insurance, are you going to take on corporate greed. Let's have it out. (CROSSTALK)

SHAKIR: But last night didn't provide that opportunity.

BOLDUAN: Harris' team told me today that they saw a biggest night of fund-raising, their biggest night/day of fund-raising since they launched their campaign. Has your campaign seen any boost?

SHAKIR: Kate, first of all, the last time, in the GOP primary at this same point in time, Jeb Bush was running away with it and Donald Trump was at 1 percent. We've had booms of -- you know, Pete Buttigieg as the runaway, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren. There's going to be peaks and valleys in this thing. We're going to be steady as we go.

We feel very strong about the course of this campaign, making investments on the ground, and making the case that you really truly have to take on corporate interests and special interests if you're going to enact the change that people want. That's the debate we're going to have. I feel confident we've set the stage for that.

You see the debate in the Democratic primary is already revolving around ideas that Bernie Sanders has brought to the table. So it's set up very nicely over the next few months. There's seven months to go before Iowans vote.

(CROSSTALK)

SHAKIR: We're going to have this debate. It will play out for the American public. They're going to have a choice to make.

BOLDUAN: It is absolutely a long haul. And, yes, there will be many more twists and turns. Today though, I'm getting the sense you're not going to be the ones touting the fund-raising totals that are coming in as the Harris campaign was happy to do so.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But, Faiz, I really appreciate you coming on.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Let's have this discussion more.

SHAKIR: Yes, thank you, Kate. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

[11:34:54] Coming up, Joe Biden in defense mode after Senator Kamala Harris attacks his past opposition to busing. The top Biden campaign official joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: There were many twists in last night's debate. The biggest moment, though, Senator Kamala Harris confronting front-runner, Joe Biden, after his past opposition to busing. So what does the Biden campaign say today?

Joining me right now is Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager, communications director for the Biden campaign.

Kate, thank you for being here.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JOE BIDEN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Biden has a chance to clarify, if he wants, what he said last night on the stage when confronted about busing by Kamala Harris. Is he going to address this? Does he have more to say about this today when he speaks before the Rainbow/PUSH coalition?

[11:40:12] BEDINGFIELD: Look, you're right, he's speaking to the Rainbow/PUSH coalition today. He's going to talk about his long record on civil rights. And he's going to talk about his vision for building a middle class that's inclusive and everybody, regardless of race, of gender, of parents' income, gets to come along in the deal.

That's something he was planning to address there before the debate and you'll hear him address it today.

BOLDUAN: Is he going to specifically address what happened in last night's debate?

BEDINGFIELD: I'll let him speak to that. But again, I think you'll hear him make a broader case about his record on civil rights. You know, he was somebody who passed the 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You just laid out, like he's going to speak out on a bunch of other stuff. Is he going to speak about this?

BEDINGFIELD: You'll hear from him today. You'll hear from him today. You should tune in. He's got a lot to say and a record he's incredibly proud of on civil rights. And a record that I think voters know.

He spent eight years as vice president of Barack Obama. He has laid out plans that will help ensure that everybody gets a fair shake, including an education plan. That includes extending Obama/Biden guidance from the Department of Education on ensuring that we're fully integrating schools.

You know, I think there's this attempt to suggest that somehow that Joe Biden was opposed to school integration, which I think is ludicrous. And I think voters know that's ludicrous.

And I think the people who know him best, who come forward to talk about his character and his values -- you know, you look at Congressman John Lewis and you look at Congressman Clyburn. You know, people who know him and know his heart on these issues, have come forward to talk about his record there. So I think you're going to hear from him on that today. And you'll

hear from him on a vision to ensure that everybody in this country --

BOLDUAN: You mentioned

BEDINGFIELD: -- has the opportunity to come along.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned a couple of prominent members of Congress, civil rights leaders. A couple of others have come up today as well.

Democratic Congressman Greg Meeks said this morning that the attack that Harris presented to Biden last night was absolutely fair. He also said that Biden has to say he's "evolved" -- his word -- on this issue. Jesse Jackson just this morning told CNN's Poppy Harlow, in a conversation, that Kamala Harris was on point.

So what do you do with that?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, Kate, it's a debate. And he's the front-runner. And we knew, going in, he was going to face some attacks. And his aim last night was to ensure that he remains --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: What is the debate?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I'm confused what the debate is.

BEDINGFIELD: The debate that the candidates participate in last night. It's a debate. People are going to spar. And certainly, as the front-runner, he has folks coming at him. And his aim last night was to not engage directly with the other candidates but to make a clear case for --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It's not a debate between these civil rights leaders who are speaking out.

BEDINGFIELD: I think -- again, I don't think there's anybody -- you know, Vice President Biden has a clear record on civil rights. I think everybody who knows him and knows his character knows that he's somebody who has fought for civil rights his entire career.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Should folks not expect him to say that he's evolved?

BEDINGFIELD: Just a second. Just a second. Busing is a complicated issue. It's a complicated issue. And there were those in the civil rights community and those in Delaware at the time, in the African- American community, who said, you know, this is not the solution to ensure that schools are integrated. And what Joe Biden was focused on was doing the things that would tackle systemic racism in our society, including taking on the practice of red lining. From the time that he was on the New Castle County council in Delaware --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: If it's complicated, why would civil -- Jesse Jackson is one of the leaders of the civil rights movement. I mean, why is Jesse Jackson then saying that the attack was on point --

BEDINGFIELD: He's known --

BOLDUAN: -- if Joe Biden's position was spot on last night?

BEDINGFIELD: He's known Joe Biden his entire life. He knows his heart. He knows his character.

And again, look, the vice president is going to be at Rainbow/PUSH today. I would anticipate that you'll hear some of this discussion come up. But you're certainly going to hear him talk about his long record on civil rights.

And I think if you look back over the course of his career, when he was in his 20s, he was advocating to put public housing in white neighborhoods in Delaware. He has never been afraid to be a vanguard --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I mean, he has a long record -- he has a long record and a deep well of support in the African-American community, a long record of supporting civil rights. That's why, on this issue, it's confusing why he can't -- what happened last night.

I mean, Harris' campaign just told me that if Biden said came out today and said that, you know what, I was wrong back then and you know my record now, they would accept it and they would move on. Is that going to happen?

BEDINGFIELD: I think -- look, busing is a complicated issue. And I don't think that -- other candidates in the race don't dictate how Joe Biden talks about issues. So he has spent his entire career fighting for civil rights.

And, look, you know, I would not pretend that busing was not a complicated issue. But there were -- at the time that this was being discussed in Delaware, there were leaders in the African-American community, leaders in the civil rights community who said this is putting undue burden on African-American families.

[11:45:10] And what the vice president did not support was mandating that African-American children had to be bused to get to a school where they could have the same opportunity that they would have in the white community. So what he did was focus on broader systemic changes to help ensure that our schools are integrated and that everybody has opportunities.

So again, other candidates in the race aren't going to dictate how Joe Biden talks about issues.

But you are going to hear him talk about his civil rights record and, more importantly, which I think is what voters want to know, the things he's going to do as president to make sure everybody in this country gets a fair shot.

BOLDUAN: But as your campaign would hold another campaign to account on the record and what they have said, that's exactly what's happening with Joe Biden right now. And we'll see what he does say today, and if there's anything additional to comment about this busing issue.

Kate, thank you for coming in and answering the questions. Really appreciate it.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks, Kate. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, a member of Congress makes an emotional revelation on the House floor. Her life partner's recent death was a suicide. Why is she sharing such a personal story so publicly? And how does she hope it will help others. She joins us, next.

But first, the sport of boxing helped this week's "CNN Hero" deal with his anger. Now he's using this sport to help kids from some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMYLE CANNON, CNN HERO: All right, let's work.

We're using this to teach kids to fight for their own success.

Hands up. Pump, boom, boom, just like that.

I want them to learn how to apply all the positive aspects of boxing, the self-control and the discipline, the focus, and walk around with those principles every day.

This is your homework for today? Check you out.

When we give the support that they need, they learn that they are capable and the sky's the limit.

I can't wait for people to see just how powerful our kids are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: To see how this week's "CNN Hero" is changing lives, go to CNNheroes.com. And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:13] BOLDUAN: It was a surprising and emotional moment on the House floor this week. It had nothing to do with any bill or hearing or politics. Congresswoman Susan Wild, of Pennsylvania, revealing that her partner, who died a month ago, that his death was a suicide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): Today marks the one-month anniversary of the death of my beloved life partner, Kerry Acker. What most people don't know is that Kerry's death was a suicide.

Kerry was 63 years old. He shouldn't have had a care in the world. He was financially secure and had a warm loving family and dozens of friends. He loved them all.

And yet, incomprehensively, he seemingly did not grasp the toll his absence would have on those who loved him.

Why am I sharing this very personal story? Because we all need to recognize that mental health issues know no boundaries. I do not want anyone else to suffer as he suffered, nor for any family to suffer as mine has over the past month.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Congresswoman Susan Wild.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here.

WILD: Thank you, Kate, for having me.

BOLDUAN: This is so difficult, but I really appreciate your strength in this moment. It has only been a month since his death. I was really moved by your words and your honesty there so publicly. How are you feeling now after speaking out publicly this week?

WILD: You know, it's hard to say. The reaction was far more widespread that I had anticipated. It was something that I was sharing on the House floor late at night, not really thinking it was something that was going to become a very public thing.

I felt the need to speak out on it because my personal way of dealing with crisis and grief is to try to do something of action. But I've been very gratified by the response that I've received from people.

BOLDUAN: And you said, even on the floor, that you spoke up because you wanted to help others. But that must have been a real struggle to get to that point for you. Was it?

WILD: It was a huge struggle. It was something that I started thinking about a couple of days before I realized we were coming up on the one-month anniversary of his death. And I wasn't sure, even as I sat on the House floor and we were doing legislative business, that I was going to go through with it. It was really -- right up to the last minute, I wasn't certain I could do it.

BOLDUAN: When was the moment that you decided you want to share, that you wanted to speak out, that you wanted to try to help? WILD: You know, it's hard to say. I started doing a lot of reading

and research right after his death. I wanted to understand more about this issue.

And as I read and realized that the prevalence of suicide and, more alarmingly, the increasing numbers of suicides in this country -- you know, the 47,000 people died by their own hand in 2017, which was just astonishing to me. And the percentage increase has gone up in every single state.

You know, I was really -- we all heard about veteran suicide and I have had a lot of concern about that. We've heard a lot of stories of the rising rates among teens. I hadn't realized how much it had affected people who shouldn't necessarily have a care in the world.

And that's what made me speak out because I want to be an educator. I want to learn as much as I can about this subject and help others understand especially the people around someone who may be feeling suicidal.

[11:55:16] BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, this is so hard to ask. Would you like to talk about your partner? Is there something that you want people to know before we end?

WILD: I'd like people to know that he shouldn't be remembered just for this. He was an incredibly kind and compassionate person, who cared deeply about his family, my family, and was incredibly intelligent.

And, you know, this should not have been something that happened. And I want to make sure that it doesn't happen to other people.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for your strength and coming in.

WILD: Thank you, Kate, for having me.

BOLDUAN: And to her point, if you know anyone who is struggling, or you yourself need help, there's help out there. The National Suicide Prevention Help Line, they're there, 24 hours a day. The number is there right on your screen, 800-273-8255.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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