Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-FL) Is Interviewed About His Overall View Why He Ran for President; Julian Castro (D-TX) Is Interviewed About Visiting Migrant Detention Center; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) Is Interviewed About Busing; Biden Defends His Record After Harris Challenges Him On Race. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, Joey, let the music play. Anyway, I was quoting the art of Shannon, and yes, I had to ask Joey to tell me who Shannon was.

The news continues. Let's turn over now to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And we have got a night of big interviews for you tonight. As the drama of the 2020 race is really heating up. I am sitting down with two Democratic presidential candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and for Housing and Urban development Secretary Julian Castro. Those interviews are just moments away.

But we're also going to be talking a lot about the big moment from last night's Democratic debate. Senator Kamala Harris going after Vice President Joe Biden on his record on race. In a moment that seemed to take him by surprise and threw his campaign into chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to now direct this to Vice President Biden. I do not believe you are a racist. And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.

But I also believe and it is personal. And I was actually -- it was hurtful, to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.

And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools. She was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.

So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, everyone is still talking about that, including the vice

president who is trying today to regain his footing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect Senator Harris. But you know, we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And then, there is this big moment for Pete Buttigieg in last night's debate. He was asked by moderator Rachel Maddow why the situation between his community and his police force hasn't improved in his time as mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because I couldn't get it done. My community is in anguish right now because of an officer involved shooting. A black man Eric Logan killed by a white officer. And I'm not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. The officer said he was attacked with a knife but he didn't have his body camera on.

It's a mess. And we're hurting. And I can walk you through all of the things that we have done as a community. All of the steps that we took from bias training to de-escalation. But it didn't save the life of Eric Logan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. You should sit down and watch this right now. Because I sat down with the mayor of South Bend just a little while ago in Brooklyn where he's at a world pride campaign event tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Mayor, congratulations on last night.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

LEMON: So big part of the conversation that's come out of this debate is been about race. You've been dealing with that in South Bend as you know the vice president is dealing with it. Kamala Harris is dealing with it. Do you that this is this the right time for the Democratic Party to be having that conversation?

BUTTIGIEG: Absolutely. We have to. I'm increasingly convinced that if we don't tackle racial inequality in my lifetime then it is going to tear apart the American project in my lifetime.

I think there was a sense at some point maybe a naive sense that if we just did away with racist policy, and replace them with neutral policies, then everything would get better on its own. I think what we're finding is that systemic racism is a lot more intractable than that.

And for certainly all of us running for president it's incumbent upon to have an explanation of what we're going to do proactively and with intention to reverse racial inequity. And so, it makes sense for it to be an issue that's front and center.

You know, in many ways, this president put it front and center by practicing a kind of white identity politics out of the White House. And if that's what it took for some of these issues to get more prominence in the national spotlight than before. Then at least that much is a healthy thing.

LEMON: You said that if we don't it this will -- it will tear us apart. Right?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

LEMON: And do you think you came to that -- have you -- when did you come to that realization? Is this something that has it's been a new sort of awakening for you.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I think somebody who's not from a community of color but has wrangled with these issues in, obviously in the context of leading a diverse community and now in the context of presidential politics. You learn every day.

[22:05:00] And frankly, I've had to learn a lot about this the hard way. Not in the same way that somebody who is impacted by racism personally does.

But as somebody who is trying to hold together a community and model how our country can be held together at this time when race is being used very effectively by this White House to divide us. To divide people with shared interests.

But also, at a moment when we could be reaching into our identities as a way to support one another. I think this is a moment when it's very important for men to be standing up for women. For straight people to be standing up for LGBTQ people.

And frankly, for white people to be standing up for the concept of black lives matter and a lot of other questions of racial equity that just deserve more attention.

LEMON: So, we're both gay. I'm a black man. And I have had to deal with issues my entire life. Right? People can't -- didn't always know that I was gay. Now all of a sudden you are, you know, running for president and when you're at the, probably the peak of your career that the highest that you've been so far.

All of a sudden, these two things have come -- these two worlds are colliding. Gay issues of diversity, issues of race. What did you learn in this process? What is that process been like for you?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think what I'm learning is that you can't and shouldn't run away from the identity. You also can't let it speak for you completely. Because what I'm finding is, everybody has different kinds of experience.

For example, even within the LGBTQ world. Right? I'm a married gay man. That doesn't give me that much insight in what it's like to be a transwoman of color at a moment when transwomen of color are under attack. But it gives me, hopefully, something I can tap into in terms of an awareness of what it's like to be on the wrong side of the pattern of exclusion to be on the wrong side of a question of belonging.

LEMON: Why would people who are either black and/or gay why should people feel that you can represent their interest? If it took so long to get there on both of those issues.

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I've sunk my teeth into these issues from day one. I was standing up against Mike Pence and the Religious Freedom Act back home before I was even out. Knowing that that would probably lead to some questions about, you know, whether I was gay before I was ready to talk about it.

I've done everything that I can to be on the right side of racial issues as well. There's a learning process. One of the things I acknowledge yesterday is that there's a process of delivering results on some of these issues. There are areas that I'm proud of, there's areas where we've come up short and I've got to own that. But I've always been committed to this.

LEMON: So, you said, this is what you said about South Bend's police force. You said you couldn't get it done. So how are black Americans and all Americans really, how can they trust that you'll get it done issues of race and the tensions across this country if you become president if you couldn't get it done in South Bend?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I don't think all of these issues are thing that somebody can just claim to have solved. The issues that I haven't solved as mayor are issues that America hasn't solved that no city has solved but where we've made progress. Sometimes it's three steps forward and two steps back.

I'm not going to present myself as the person who is going to resolve racial tension or racial inequality in this country. That's not the story I'm telling. What I am saying is that we have addressed these issues in my community. We have learned from that.

And I'm passionately committed to bringing about in my lifetime a world where a black person and a white person pulled over by a police officer feel the exact same thing and that's a feeling not a fear but a feeling of safety.

LEMON: What exactly does I couldn't get it done means. Specifically, what do you mean by that?

BUTTIGIEG: I was asked about the diversity of the South Bend police force. It's an example of an issue that we're wrestling within South Bend and a lot of cities are seeing. There is a gap in many diverse communities between the diversity of the community itself and the diversity of the -- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Did you mean -- I didn't mean to shut you off. But did you mean I couldn't find qualified black officers or officers of color? I couldn't find a qualified chief of color. Or what does it mean you couldn't get it done?

BUTTIGIEG: I couldn't get us to where the number of black officers on our department mirrors our community. And it's really important that that happened if we want to have the kind of trust between communities of color and the department that we need. It's not for lack of effort. I can tell you that.

We've taken a number of steps to try to recruit more people to apply in the first place. To try to map out as a matter of fact if you're watching, somebody watching at home they can go to the police transparency portal we set up in South Bend. Push out our data. And you can actually see what's happened in different stages of the recruitment process as we were trying to figure out, OK, where do we lose applicants? Where do we lose good applicants of color?

LEMON: Did you figure it out.

BUTTIGIEG: That's what I'm saying. We haven't cracked the code on this but we're learning.

LEMON: So then why did the department, do you have an idea of why the department became less diverse under you?

[22:10:01] BUTTIGIEG: Well, in simple terms, is that we weren't able to recruit and bring on minority officers at the same rate that they were retiring and leaving the force. Again, this isn't only a South Bend problem. But I'm in charge in South Bend so I accept the fact that we're not at our goals at home.

LEMON: So, we've been talking specifically about South Bend, then talk to me about your plan for marginalized people, especially people of color as the president of the United States.

BUTTIGIEG: Like I said earlier, we can't expect that if we just have neutral policies replacing racist policies and systems that have been in placed --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And not just in the context of policing.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, yes, for sure. Yes. No, for me, criminal justice is a huge part of it. Right? And we know mass incarceration. We know policing issues need to be tackled. But I also don't want to sound like we're reducing the black experience in America to criminal justice. I'm concerned about entrepreneurship. I'm excited about entrepreneurship.

Black entrepreneurship is where a lot of jobs and opportunities are being created and the government could be more supportive of that through the purchasing that the federal government does and even through measures to co-invest in minority owned businesses.

You see that going on in Maryland they use their pension fund for that. We could too, so entrepreneurship, homeownership, health, education. Each of those areas could receive specific targeted action. I'm calling it the Douglas plan. Because it should be as ambitious as the Marshall plan that rebuild Europe.

America did that to helped Europe rebuilt. What are we doing for black America knowing that Black Americans have been systemically excluded from all of those areas? Justice, home ownership, indentureship, and so on.

And of course, in addition to those five areas, there's the basic question of democracy. It's not accidental that the various patterns of exclusion from the ability to vote even today, the ways in which it's made harder to vote. The ways in which people's voices are diminished by gerrymandering have a very strong racial element to that.

LEMON: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: And the disempowerment of people of color is connected, I think, to the failure of policy to bring about racial inequality in our time.

LEMON: Which is interesting because the Supreme Court made a call or judgment on that on gerrymandering just yesterday.

Let's talk about the debate. You stood on the stage with the former vice president, with Harris and you saw their back and forth. The vice -- the former vice president seemed to be, you know, invoking states' rights when he talked about bussing in this country. Is Vice President Joe Biden out of touch with today's Democratic Party?

BUTTIGIEG: It certainly seemed like, someone we heard there is just tone deaf to the realities of lived experience right now. We need to be talking about these things.

LEMON: What was your reaction when that happened on stage?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, of course it was striking because she was describing a personal experience that she had had. And I think there is a sense of whether good intention is enough. And that's something I'm always checking myself on too.

I'm convinced of my own good intentions but black residents in my community or for that matter, black activists around the country aren't really just interested in whether I've good intentions. They want to know whether we're actually going to be able to deliver in our time. And I think that was some of struggle that you saw playing out on stage.

LEMON: There seems to be this idea that Biden is the strongest candidate to beat Donald Trump. And when you actually look at it, Democrats who won -- and these were younger Democrats at the time. Bill Clinton was a fresh face. President Obama was a fresh different

face. Al Gore did not win. Right? He was someone who had been in office for a long time. John Kerry didn't win as well. What do you think of this idea that, you know, it has to be an older white man who can beat Donald Trump?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes. I think the pattern you just described shows that possibly the riskiest thing we can do is to try to play it safe in that way. Think about this, my home state Indiana. Indiana went blue once in the last 50 years. And it wasn't for Bill Clinton, and it wasn't for John Kerry, and it wasn't for Jimmy Carter. It was for Barack Obama.

Now, if we were sitting here in late 2007 saying, let's find somebody so electable, so palatable, so easy for swing voters to get comfortable with that he could even carry Indiana for Democrats. I'm not sure a lot of people would have said the name of Obama. But he was able to move people, he was able to inspire people.

Now what we have in 2020 is a sense of great urgency because we know what we're up against. We know just how imperative it is for those of us who are horrified by the behavior of this administration that we win. We're not going to win by offering a return to normal.

This is the thing that worries me a little bit. Democrats always psych ourselves out. We over think these things. Try to put ourselves in the heads of somebody else.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: They're curious to ask about every single candidate.

BUTTIGIEG: And this idea that we can just turn back the clock.

LEMON: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: I feel like there are some Democrats for whom our answer to the Republican saying they want to turn back the clock to the 1950s, is saying we want to turn back the clock just not as far. back to the early 2000. That's not going to work because where I'm from in the industrial Midwest.

[22:15:02] People, and by the way, people of all races have been left behind by the so called normal. That's part of how you got to vote to bring the House down.

LEMON: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: That led to the Midwest supporting the president we got now.

LEMON: All right. Mayor, hold it right there just for the moment. We're going to pick up our conversation. We'll be right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: We're back now with Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

I want to speak to you about someone who is different at time when he ran for president. That was Jimmy Carter. Right? Remember the peanut farmer? The former President of the United States Jimmy Carter suggested that the current president is an illegitimate president because of Russia's help. Do you agree with him? Is Donald Trump an illegitimate president?

BUTTIGIEG: I think, you know, he won the election. There was also cheating that went on. I mean, who can go back and say, you know, whether but for the cheating he would have won.

The point is it should never have been close. A person like this president should not be able to get within cheating distance of the Oval Office and until we confront those basic facts that the -- that the causes that he's a symptom of.

I'm worried that we could get somebody like him or even worse. I don't know what that looks like but it's certainly possible. That's why we got to tackle the fundamental political and economic systemic issues that we have, that generate somebody like him being able to take off to begin with.

[22:19:54] LEMON: Another news item is that the president is overseas. He met with Vladimir Putin. They were somewhat joking about interfering with the election. I'm not sure if you saw the president is joking there.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTTIGIEG: Not funny.

LEMON: I don't know if you saw it. What do you think?

BUTTIGIEG: Not funny. I mean, this is our democracy. Our democracy is the thing that makes sure that our government works for us and not the other way around. It's your vote not your gun that sees to it that we're in charge of our government. And this is not laughing matter.

We were attacked successfully by a hostile foreign power that believed they could weaken America by intervening to get this guy elected and they were right. What we're going to do about it is what matters.

And the idea that he would treat it that casually. Not that we're that surprised, right? I mean, every time -- the other thing that is really bothersome is the sound like he was joking about doing away with journalists.

LEMON: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: You know, what -- either you care about the Constitution or you don't. And I think we know what side this president is on. LEMON: Also, I have something that, you know, I found interesting

that you address is that Christianity and being gay that you can be gay and a Christian at the same time.

You also pointed out the hypocrisy coming from this administration and from Republicans when it comes to separating children at the border, especially when it comes to being a Christian. That's not a Christian thing to do in your mind.

BUTTIGIEG: No, not at all. I mean, what person of faith can look at a family being torn apart and think that that's a good thing. Just this morning I was with a group that went to a facility in Florida a place called Homestead where there is a private company running what amounts to a jail for children. There's 2,700 kids in there.

Who thinks that those conditions are consistent with Christian faith or any faith? I think America is due for a reckoning about what people of faith who are guided by that when they come into the political space should do.

There's been this idea that the only home for religious people who vote their religious values is on the right. And there's a very good reason by the way, why my party has hesitated to talk about this. And that reason is that we're a party that stands for the separation of church and state.

We understand that when you're in office you need to represent people of any religion and people of no religion equally. But the price of that, and we should maintain that. But the price of that, is that I think we've neglected the extent to which a religious left in this country that calls on us to take care of the least among us.

A religious left by the way that among other things is inseparable from the traditional civil rights in this country that that tradition needs to get more attention. And when you see things like Reverend William Barber and the way his poor people campaign is speaking up for exactly that, the least among us. It gives you a whole different frame from what I view to be the profound and rank hypocrisy of so-called religious figures in government today on the right.

LEMON: This is my last question. So, most people if you ask them why -- you know, do you want to be president of the United States? Or they would say are you crazy? Why do you want to be president of the United States?

BUTTIGIEG: Because it's the best way to make myself useful. You know, I'm not running for this office because it's an office I feel like I'd like to have. I'm running because we're at this moment where I think the choices we make in the next two or three years are going to decide what the next 30 or 40 years look like.

It's the dawn of an era, which makes us both lucky and unlucky. This is like the beginning of new deal or the beginning of the kind of, 40- year Reagan period at American politics. What we do now will lead to what life is like for the balance of my adult life. And it will either be enlightened or it will be ugly. But I see an opportunity with a different kind of vision and a level

of seriousness about the structural changes we need. As well as the policy changes we need. I see a chance to do something about that. And there are a lot of people that I respect and stepping up for this. But I'm just not like the others.

LEMON: Thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

LEMON: Happy pride.

BUTTIGIEG: Same to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: I'm going to have much more of my interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the next hour. But right now, I've got another presidential candidate on deck, and that's Julian Castro. He tells me what he saw today at the Homestead detention center for thousands of migrant children. There he is live. He's next.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Democratic presidential candidates visiting a migrant detention center in Florida holding thousands of children who crossed the border unaccompanied. Julian Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development is one of the candidates who went there today and he joins me now.

Thank you so much nor joining us, Mr. Castro. As I understand you're out there, it's warm. There's very buggy. So, we appreciate you joining us here. But listen, I'm sure the conditions don't compare to what some are facing here.

You just visited that detention center with some of the candidates earlier today. You were denied entry. What reasons were you given?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, somebody who said that he worked for the federal government was there, greeted us. There were five of us presidential candidates and said that we couldn't be given a tour because only guided tours are given at certain times upon request.

He was asked if that could be waived because you have five presidential candidates including two sitting senators. And they refused to do that. It makes you wonder if they tightly control when anybody sees what's actually going on.

And my understanding is that even lawyers who go in and meet with little kids who are there are, in this case teenagers who are their clients have to sign some sort of form that says they're not going to discuss the conditions of the facility. It makes you wonder what in the world are they hiding? And we know there --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: So, what were you able to see, secretary?

CASTRO: What's that?

LEMON: What were you able to see?

[22:29:55] CASTRO: Well, there's a spot where activists have set up ladders. So, you can look across the road beyond the fence to tents where outside of those tents in a single file line, migrant teenagers were held at Homestead walk from tent to tent during their day.

And what was so powerful to me was that they're wearing these orange baseball caps. That are the color of a prison uniform. And we were waving to them and you know, the activists said that they can hear if you shout. So we were yelling supportive messages to them, but I have said a lot now that we need to end these private prison facilities. Detention facilities like Homestead. And we need to end family detention.

And Don, this is why I was so adamant the other day about repealing the law that allows the Trump administration to separate migrant parents from their little children. Section 1325 of the Immigration Nationality Act. And I was so happy last night in the second debate that they asked this question. Who on stage supports repealing that act? As I proposed.

And by my count nine out of 10 candidates last night said that they would support that. That is a step in the right direction. We can maintain border security, but go back to the way we used to do this and treat it as a civil offense instead of criminal.

LEMON: I've got to jump in here, because I have some -- standby. I'm going to read this breaking news and I want to get your response to it. The breaking news that we have now is a federal judge in California blocked on Friday the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion for a border wall in portions of California and New Mexico. Again, a federal judge in California blocked tonight the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion for a border wall in portions of California and New Mexico. What is your response Secretary Castro?

CASTRO: Thank god for our courts these days, because they are our last line of defense against an out of control administration. And instead of spending $2.5 billion on a wall that most Americans don't want, it will change the notion from the statue of liberty that beacons people, you know a place of hope to a country that literally walls itself off from the rest of the world.

Change is the meaning of America in the long term. We should be doing something like investing in partnering with Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala in a 21st century marshal plan. So that people can find safety and opportunity at home. Instead of having to come to the United States. That would actually be a much smarter more effective way to deal with this issue. And the president should have started doing that the minute that he took office because he knew this was an issue of a lot of people coming over. He's wasted two and a half years. He has failed on this issue. The

other thing that amazes me Don, is that you remember several months ago the president suddenly out of nowhere found a billion dollars from other parts of budget to dedicate toward this wall that he wants to build, but a few days ago it was reported that they're saying they can't pay for soap and for toothbrushes for a whole bunch of children. That are at the detention facilities. It makes no sense. It's part of the bankrupt administration that we have.

LEMON: Time is short, but before you leave us, I just want to get your response to and I want to talk about your performance at the debate. It's gotten a lot of attention. Your campaign announced earlier today that you're best fundraising day -- this has been the best fundraising day ever. I think it was yesterday and maybe today possibly. What do you hope this does for you?

CASTRO: Well, I have already seen that we have had nearly 16,000 unique new donors to the campaign. We have out pouring of support. Obviously getting a lot more media coverage. And people know what politics is about, it's about making sure you that you get your message out.

I went in there knowing that a lot of people didn't know who I was and they want to know who I am and what I'm about, what they saw on Wednesday was that I have a strong vision for the future of this country. I have the right strong executive experience to be president.

And you want to know that the Democratic nominee can go toe to toe with Donald Trump, can hold their own. I left no question on the table that when I'm up there on the stage I can hold my own. And people have a lot of confidence that I can be great, strong nominee.

If I win this Democratic primary. I going to keep doing what I have done. I've said, I've always said I don't want to be a flash in the pan candidate. I want to build a strong foundation to campaign that will get stronger and stronger. So that on February 3, 2020, when Iowa caucuses we can win the Iowa caucus.

LEMON: Well, Secretary Castro, thank you for your time. You have got an audience behind you. You can see, at least you can draw crowd. I appreciate it, thank you.

CASTRO: Yes, we're here with some great Texas Democrats.

[22:35:05] LEMON: Thank you, Secretary. Have a good weekend. We appreciate you joining us.

The front runner Biden getting hit with blistering criticism after his performance at the first Democratic debate. His campaign responds. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Kamala Harris -- Senator Kamala Harris took Joe Biden to task in the Democratic debate last night. For his position on busing in the 1970s. And the former vice president pushed back today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice including busing. I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing. And as a program that Senator Harris participated in and made a difference in her life.

I did support federal action to address root causes segregation in our schools and our communities. Including taking on the banks and red lining and trying to change the way in which neighborhoods were segregated. I have always been in favor of using federal authority to overcome state initiated segregation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:40:12] LEMON: So, let's talk about all of this now. Congressman Cedric Richmond is here. He is the national co-chairman of the Biden campaign. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us Congressman. Thank you. I really do. I know it's been a busy time for you.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: Let's talk about those comments from Biden earlier today. He is threading a very fine needle because while he did support -- he did support local busing programs like the one Kamala Harris benefited from, he has a long record of being against federal busing programs. Is he misrepresenting his position?

RICHMOND: No, he is not against federal busing programs, Don. And it becomes a really nuance argument, but I'll try to make it clear. If it was a federal -- if it was a state act or local government.

So, if it was the government acting to segregate the schools he was in favor of the feds coming in and mandating busing as a remedy, but if the busing came from the fact that it was an -- all-white county or Parish and African American kids couldn't go, he was more in favor of fixing the root causes of that organic segregation.

So that meant ending red lining, integrating neighborhoods. Fair housing. All of those things. So, it's really nuance, but where the state, the school board, the local government pushed it, or had a policy, he was in favor of the federal government coming in and addressing that wrong.

LEMON: So, you're saying where there's an all-white community, that he didn't want black kids busing to that community? Or he didn't want white kids bused out of that community or both?

RICHMOND: No, what he was saying was, that if it wasn't a state policy, where it was just dejour de facto segregation. Where there was no policy in place, but it was in effect in place. That he thought there would be organic remedy. And that is why he fought for all those other things. Now, look, Don, we can argue about 40 or 45 years ago. I'm afraid as

Democrats if we get stuck in the past, we are going to lose our future. And when I wake up and think about this president, his actions. The borderline treasonous comments that he did today in Russia.

I'm terrified of the future. And the more I think that I focus on the past and talk about the past, it means I'm not doing an adequate job of putting on the line what's at stake in this election.

LEMON: With all due respect, Congressman, don't you think that would be the best to answer for the vice president to have said on stage last night. Listen, what I did 40 years ago, there may be somethings that I might change that I did 40 years ago. No one is perfect on their history. But we're not talking about 40 years ago.

We can look at my record over the last 40 years and see where I have been when it comes to civil rights in this country. But why don't we move forward. Wouldn't that have been the best answer for him to give on that stage last night? Instead of you and others having to come on and explain it?

RICHMOND: That could have been an answer. I think what the vice president was trying to do is clarify his intentions. And I think, he wanted everybody to know that his intentions was never not to support segregated school. So for him, it was important to justify his record as never ever supporting segregation nor state rights. Although the answer came out that way.

LEMON: OK. Let me place this and I'll let you finish your answer, because I just want ---

ROMANS: OK, good.

LEMON: -- this sort of goes into what you were saying. This is from June 28, 1977. 42 years ago to this very day. Watch this.

ROMANS: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I happen to think that the one way to ensure that you set the civil rights movement in America further back is to continue to push busing because it's a bankrupt policy. That is why I think I'll be vindicated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so, he has done so many great things for civil rights, for the civil rights movement over his career, but on this issue, I'm just wondering if this is -- does he really want to standby what he is saying? Should he be the one saying what you said and moving on instead of trying to clarify, what you say some nuance position that most people probably don't understand. I'm not quite sure I understand it. RICHMOND: Well, look, I'll tell you this, and I could get into that,

but I would just say that there was an argument on both sides black and white academia and not, and activists, who still have a debate about busing and its effect on the African American community.

For what I don't want to do is debate busing when we have a president that is trying to roll back Roe v Wade. And if we give him more seats on the Supreme Court, which I'm a Roe v Wade, I'm worried about Brown versus Board of Education. I'm worried about Miranda, I'm worried about all of those thing. So, I think, there is place to have a debate about history.

LEMON: OK.

RICHMOND: But also I say it over and over again as the Janet Jackson test, what have you done for me lately.

[22:45:06] LEMON: Yes.

RICHMOND: He was in the White House for eight years and has a remarkable record on school desegregation and other things.

LEMON: We will continue this conversation. Unfortunately, we're out of time, but I appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much. We'll have you back soon. And you have a great weekend. OK?

RICHMOND: Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

LEMON: Former Vice President Joe Biden in damage control mode after Kamala Harris took him to task last night on race and busing. Can he dig himself out of this hole? Joining me now to discuss, Joe Trippi and Karen Finney.

OK, so. It has being characterized that way, there are some folks who say -- good evening by the way to both of you -- and so some say that he did not do that badly, there are some people who are in Joe's corner. I heard from a lot of them today as I was walking around in New York City. Joe, I just want to play more from the vice president's cleanup on aisle nine earlier today, watching them and then we will all discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:50:15] BIDEN: I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris, but you know, we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joe, did it work the cleanup effort?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: All right. I think he's got time, and he's got a lot of goodwill in the party, and I don't think that one debate performance or one bad debate performance and it was bad is -- I think there's a lot of overreaction to how big of an impact it is going to have.

Kamala Harris, and look, she won, hands down, best performance of any of the 20 candidates and she is going to raise a lot of money from it, and also I think that probably really put herself into the second or the third in the polls when the polls clear from all of this, but he is going to, yeah, he is, he had a bad night.

And I think that he is paying a price. Part of it is because, I think that look, getting in late was a good decision for them, and staying above the fray all this time was a good decision up till now, but I think that the price they paid for it is that he was not ready.

All of the candidates have been in that fray, in the back and forth, in those town halls, taking really hard questions from the press. And they have it. And first night he stepped into that was last night and Kamala was waiting, and he's paying the price for that.

LEMON: Well, you know, if you remember in 2008, I think Barack Obama had his first debate, he didn't do so well, and George W. Bush, the same thing, right, in 2012. Karen, how important was the way that this debate draw, that it worked out? How important was that, because think about if Harris had been in that first night -- if she had been with Warren rather than with Joe Biden, she wouldn't have had the opportunity to create that moment.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, I mean, look, it was obviously and there were a couple of different moments on both nights where you could tell the campaigns had sort of and this, I mean, this is how we, you know, you train when you do debate prep, right. You have a couple of things in your pocket, you are going to try to deploy, and Kamala, she did an excellent job. I mean --

LEMON: Did he look like he prepped to you, Karen?

FINNEY: Not as much as he should have, I will tell you, and I mean, I know he was prepping with Ron Klain, so I was surprised, but I'll tell you, it felt like a couple of things.

Number one, out of practice and he has to realize, you know, he's got to get into the game a little bit more in terms of the style of debating. It does not mean being disrespectful, and I thought it was interesting that a couple of times when he stopped himself from talking, I think it was one of -- I think it was either Savannah Guthrie or Rachel Maddow who was a female, who was telling him to stop talking.

So, I think that he was trying to be respectful, and I think there is a way to be respectful, but forceful and Kamala did that actually very well in sort of landing that hit.

And look, from her perspective, it was also important, because, you know, she has been taking some heat particularly from the left on her record as a prosecutor, so it was important for her to get out on this issue. LEMON: And the black folk.

FINNEY: Yes, and from the black folks to hear her talk about it. We could -- I mean, you did a great --

LEMON: And Biden.

FINNEY: -- and earlier tonight with Mayor Pete, you could had certainly had a lot more conversation about what is going on South Bend. So, I think for Biden, the biggest is, I mean, whoever was going to be on the stage with Biden was going to try to go after him.

That's the deal of being the frontrunner, I think for him between now and the next debate though, he's got to be better prepared and better prepared on his own record. Which is the point you were making with Congressman Richmond, right?

It's like, if he were to have pivoted quickly, you know, from the past to the future -- present to the future even, that I think people would have, you know, given him, I mean, there is a lot of goodwill, but I think it -- this is not the first time he has had this problem, right.

LEMON: Listen, when you are up there too, I mean, you got to dance, right. You have to be quick, quick, quick to come up with something, and then pivot and move on if it is not beneficial to you, right. And there's a way to do that and get an applause from it if you do it the right way.

But Joe, I got to ask you quickly before we run out of time. He is a strong supporter among African-American voters, this is according to the recent Monmouth Poll, and I got to tell you, you know, people I know call after the debate, telling you guys, walking out the street today in New York City, it's Friday, there's a lot of people out, there many people who are telling me, I'm still with Joe. I'm just wondering if that lead, especially among black voters and Democrats, is he in danger of -- is that endanger of taking a hit?

TRIPPI: Oh, I think he definitely took a hit. I mean, he's going to fall a little bit. I don't think it's big as -- you know a lot of people are talking about how devastating the debate performance. It wasn't, he has real strength and a real record.

[22:55:08] I think he could have pivoted much better -- he could have prepared much better for that question, he should have known it was coming and they must have, and I think it was mostly rust, you know, just rusty and flat-footed and that was Barack Obama in his first debate against Romney was like that. So, that happens, but he has to come back from now on and I think he is going do well.

FINNEY: And that is important.

LEMON: And when you say I'm really sorry, and you do it authentically, I think there is a lot of -- you give people a lot of room to forgive you, right and to move on. Thank you both, and have a good weekend. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

FINNEY: Thank you, Don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)