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Biden Defends His Civil Rights Record And Past Position On Mandatory Busing; Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-SC) Discusses Biden's Defense Of His Civil Rights Record, Past Position On Busing; DNC Chair Tom Perez Discusses Debates, Biden's Bruising Moment With Harris, Leftward Tilt Of Democratic Party; Marianne Williamson, The Most Googled Candidate In The Debate. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER, THE BEAT DC: I think this is a really big misstep for Vice President Biden.

Look, Josh and I talked a little bit about this last hour. And it really would have been -- the most appropriate step would have been, look, I am embarrassed I'll be judge for being on the wrong side of history. Thank you Senator Harris for pointing this out. But I've certainly revisited my stance on that. And I feel differently today.

He didn't do that. He was defensive about his stance.

And, look, nobody's trying to paint the vice president to be a racist. No one thinks that.

But this is so frequently the challenge for people of color to correct allies when they step out of place.

And there does seem to be this desire to want to extend some sort of hand to these Trump voters, to these Trump supporters, to extend some sort of extension to people across the aisle, who are clearly supremacists. And it baffles some people because you do wonder, does the MAGA vote hit differently? Make it make sense to me.

Because you could easily go out and inspire the base, who's been on the right side of history and the right side of civil rights for a long time. But I think it's a dangerous space to get in.

But, again, Brooke, I want to make it clear. If he's the nominee, people will get behind him. I don't think he's the only electable person on that stage. And I think Senator Harris proved that last night.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Joshua DuBois, to Tiffany's point, why not say yes, you know, decades ago, when I was a young Senator, I -- this is how I felt, but I -- my views have changed, I was on the wrong side of history, here's how I fee l now. Why not just say that?

JOSHUA DUBOIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a good question, and I think he does need to do that.

That said, he had a rough night last night. That's absolutely true. I think that it's also true that that was just a really strong speech. He connected with a largely African-American audience with specificity. He reaffirmed the federal role in addressing discrimination at the state and local level. He put forth a pretty specific agenda on criminal justice reform. And it didn't feel like talking points.

I mean --


BALDWIN: Where was that Joe Biden last night?

DUBOIS: Exactly. Kudos to him for learning from that. But also to the Symone Sanders, and Kamala Harrises (ph) and Cedric Richmonds of the world who may have -- maybe there have been some conversations between last night and tonight where Joe Biden learned that, you know, there's a way that he can talk about his civil rights record that's really powerful.

But I think we cannot look past the fact that, in that room, that largely African-American room, people not only believed him, but they responded to him. And that's the power of a Biden candidacy.

He can work with and address, and partner with white working-class voters. He also has a message for African-Americans. We heard more of that message today. It should have been there last night.

By the way, he needs to get rid of this voluntary versus involuntary busing. It's just silly. He needs to move past it and say, I was wrong then, but -- and he's learned from that, and then talk about his positive civil rights record.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That's an important point that Josh was making, because just being in South Carolina with him, last weekend -- I mean, almost every voter that I talked to was a black voter --


RESTON: --, was a huge Biden supporter, and, you know, was brushing aside the ruckus he had with Cory Booker over the previous weeks, comments about working with segregationist Senators.

So I think we have to keep remembering that over and over again, that even though, in these debates, he's getting tripped up, there's so much love for him in that community.

CROSS: But -- but --


DUBOIS: And, Brooke, I --


CROSS: Can I weigh-in? BALDWIN: Go ahead, Tiffany, yes, yes.

CROSS: South Carolina is one snapshot of a small community of people. As we've talked about on this show and other shows before, the black vote is not a monolith. I mean, the same way we just aggregate the data when we talk about white voters, there are --


CROSS: Right. It's a primary state. But so is California, so is Texas. The way the primaries are set up, this is going to be a large field.

I'm not anti-Biden. I'm just offering my analysis after 20 years in politics.


CROSS: But I think there are other candidates. Look, Kamala gave a very compelling speech in South Carolina. She got rave reviews when she was there. Mayor Pete has given compelling speeches where everybody -- you know, they were all the rave. Beto, Pete and Bernie were all the rave for a while.

A week is an eternity in politics. We have a long way to go. I'm not saying Biden can't win. I'm saying he's not the only person to win. Just because a room in South Carolina resonated with him, we have to think --



CROSS: Fair enough. But we bet the micro and not the macro. We have to start looking outside of South Carolina and looking at the entire electorate. I don't think he's the only path to victory. That's all I'm saying.


BALDWIN: Before we do that --


BALDWIN: Hang on one second, Josh.

Speaking of South Carolina, Kevin Johnson is a South Carolina state Senator who has endorsed Joe Biden.

Senator, thank you for being with me, and welcome.

SEN. KEVIN JOHNSON (D-SC): Thank you for having me, Brooke. Glad to be here.

BALDWIN: So how did you think he did last night and five minuting ago? JOHNSON: Well, let me take the five minutes ago, first, he did a

great job five minutes ago. I think the reason why the difference five minutes ago, as opposes to last night, I've been in several debates, it's difficult to respond to issues when you have 30 seconds or 45 seconds.

[14:35:06] Today was quite different. He had a chance to speak to a crowd for several minutes. And it's a lot easier to get your point across.

I didn't think he did as bad as the pundits think he did last night. He was just put on the spot to try to defend some comments that he made 50 years ago.

I'm always amazed that -- we want to overlook the great work that the vice president has done over the last eight to 10 years and go back 50 years when times were different and things were different.

Quite frankly, he did have different people he had to work with in order to get things done on behalf of the people he represented and on behalf of this country.

BALDWIN: I don't think people are trying to forget. I think a lot of people really celebrate and honor the man and the legacy he's left, with regard to so much in terms of civil rights. But this is one huge issue, be it -- Maeve brought up his working with the Senator segregationists or this issue where we have evidence on the record of him opposing federally mandated busing to integrate our nation's school system.

Why do you think he can't just say, I was on the wrong side of history, and I changed my mind?

JOHNSON: Quite frankly, I would rather he do that, because I think he was on the wrong side of history. Busing back then was very controversial. There were a lot of people who agreed with him, even African-Americans, and then there were those who did not. The whole integration and desegregation issue was very complicated.

But I do wish that he would say, hey, looking back, hindsight being 2020, I made the wrong decision, and if I had it to do over again, which a lot of times we don't, I would think differently, I would do differently.

But I don't want that to overshadow the great work he has done in the most recent history, even as vice president and in his distinguished career as a Senator for 30, 40 years in this country.

BALDWIN: Let me play some sound. This is how Senator Cory Booker, who had previously called on Biden to apologize for his remarks on segregationist Senators, this is how he reacted to the former vice president from last night's debate.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, I think that anybody who knows our painful history knows that on voting rights, on civil rights, on protections from hate crimes, it is -- the African-Americans in this country and many other groups have had to turn to the federal government to intervene, because there were states that were violating those rights.

That struck me. I literally leaned back in my couch and couldn't believe that one moment to me. And again, not understanding the history of the -- the need for the federal government.


BALDWIN: So, Senator, can you explain Biden's argument that this was a state's rights issue or, a second ago, when he said was referring to voluntary busing, leading folks scratching their head. Can you explain that?

JOHNSON: No, I cannot explain that. Like I said, we're talking about 50 years ago, when times were different, and you're dealing with different people.

I still say I agree that I wish he would just come out and say, I was wrong, and let's move forward.

But I want to say for the record, I think all of us realize that -- even Senator Booker and Senator Harris -- that Joe Biden is not a racist. He's been a civil rights champion throughout his whole career. So don't let one issue overshadow all the great work he's done in the area of civil rights and in the area of also trying to do what's best for America.


BALDWIN: But on that note --

JOHNSON: -- himself a lot.

BALDWIN: On that note, I hear you saying, this one thing, 30, 40, 50 years ago, and people should be bringing it up. But Biden himself, and a lot of his supporters point to his record and his experience is proof that he knows how to govern, he knows how to get things done. Isn't how he felt in the 1970s fair game?

JOHNSON: I think it's fair game. But I don't think it should overshadow everything that he has done. I think we all -- if we look back over 20, 30, 50 years of our lives, we have made mistakes, we have done things, we have said things that we wish we had not done and said. I think he would help himself to admit to that.

But it should not overshadow the great work that he has done, and the great work he continues to do.

So I want to put that out there that, even me, as a state Senator, I have had to work from time to time with people who I don't agree with on a lot of things. But in order to get some bills passed that I thought was good for South Carolina, I have worked with them. We don't agree on a lot of things politically. But there have been

issues and instances where we could work together to further the state of South Carolina. So sometimes we have to do that.

And I think that's the point the vice president was trying to make, saying, I have worked with these segregationists from time to time in order to further some bills or pass some bills or get some things done that was good for the country at that time.

[14:40:05] Not that he agrees with him. I'm sure he probably did not socialize with them and those types of things. He's worked with them over the years on issues he thought he needed to get support and get some bills passed that probably helped a lot of us.

BALDWIN: South Carolina State Senator Kevin Johnson, thank you so much, sir.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Much more on this coming up.

Also, President Trump having a couple laughs with Vladimir Putin about Russia's attack on the U.S. elections and getting rid of journalists.

And former President Jimmy Carter speaking out and raising questions about the legitimacy of Trump's presidency. Why he's suggesting the president didn't actually win.

You're watching CNN. It's Friday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We'll be right back.


[14:45:40] BALDWIN: With round one in the books, voters are starting to weave through this crowded field of candidates.

With me now, Tom Perez, DNC chairman.

Tom, thank you so much for being here.


BALDWIN: I got to start with what we just heard from the former vice president. What did you think of how he was trying to defend himself, clean up his comments on busing from last night?

PEREZ: I think every candidate, Brooke, is going to talk about their vision for America. And every voter is going to make a judgment, looking at the totality of what the candidate has done throughout their career. They're going to ask themselves, does that candidate, based on the work they've done, do they share my values, do they have my back, and can they win. That's the question that people are going to ask about every candidate. And what we're trying to do in our debate structure, and we've taken unprecedented steps to be inclusive, is to have these debates and candidate forums and other opportunities for candidates to really articulate what they believe. It's going to be up to the voters then to figure out, who has my back, who's fighting for me.

And what I was so excited about over the last two nights, was that I think people saw the deep field that I've known as a Democratic Party, the most diverse field ever.

The unity of values that we have is something that jumped off the page. We're trying to get to 100 percent health care, universal coverage. We're 90 percent of the way there, thanks to President Obama and LBJ and Democrats.

We had a spirited discussion about how to get to the mountain top. There's differences of opinion among candidates. I would respectfully assert that no one candidate has a monopoly on the moral high ground.


PEREZ: Everybody put forth some really principled positions.

And on issues of civil rights and other critically important issues, you're also going to see these discussions, and you'll have to look at the totality of what everybody has done. And --


BALDWIN: And make your own decision.

Let me jump in, on the various opinions, one of our political analysts, Rachael Bade, this is what she tweeted out when she was watching the debates. She tweeted, "Overheard while watching the debate just now, 'I'm not sure I'm a Democrat anymore.' Democrat next to me complaining about how far left the party has moved."

Tom, what would you say to that? Do you think they are too far left?

PEREZ: Well, making sure, if you have a pre-existing condition, and you can keep your health care coverage, making sure that we go after the pharmaceutical industry to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, making sure that if you work a full time job, you can feed your family, making sure that if you want to join a union, you can do so, making sure that women can control their bodies, I think that's exactly what we need to do.

And making sure that --


BALDWIN: Not saying you shouldn't.


BALDWIN: But you acknowledge that the crop, it's tilted left? That's not Barack Obama's Democratic Party or Bill Clinton's Democratic Party. This is a different crop of candidates.

PEREZ: I actually -- everything I talked about, it's the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

We've been fighting to make sure that everybody has access to quality affordable health care. We've been fighting to make sure you have a decent minimum wage, $15 an hour. Everybody's been fighting to ensure that we address the challenge of climate change.

I don't call the challenge -- the challenge of climate change is existential. And the notion -- I think what's radical is the denial of climate science. That's what's radical here.

So I think we're trying to build an economy that works for everyone. We're trying to build an America in which our values of compassion don't get thrown by the wayside. We're trying to build an America in which we are a nation of laws. And we are a nation of immigrants. We've been able to do that since the beginning of time.

BALDWIN: You know, one issue, one issue that no one brought up last night, impeachment of the president. This has been a massive topic of discussion on Capitol Hill by a lot of lawmakers on both nights of the stage. Why do you think no one brought it up?

PEREZ: The questions weren't asked about it. I mean, we --


BALDWIN: Well, come on.


BALDWIN: A lot of those candidates zigged and zagged and brought up whatever they wanted to, no matter the question that was asked. Tom, they could have brought it up.

[14:50:05] PEREZ: I mean, what voters want to hear, where I've been going across the country -- number one, we have a constitutional obligation to do oversite. There's no doubt about it.

There's no doubt about it, in my mind, that this is the most corrupt president in American history. And he has a cabinet that has a culture of corruption.

And there's no doubt in my mind either, that the only way to remove Donald Trump is at the ballot box on November 3rd of 2020. We can and we must continue to do that oversight and we will.

And we must also communicate to the voters, what is our vision of an American that works for them. How are we going to have their back? Elections are about the future.

And I think people saw the last two nights where every candidate talking about the issues that are animating people, the issues that keep people up at night.


PEREZ: Health care is the number-one issue in this country.


PEREZ: And the differences are 100 percent between the Republicans and Democrats.


We will see you in a couple weeks in Detroit for the CNN Democratic debates.

Tom Perez, DNC chair, thank you very much.

PEREZ: Looking forward to it.

BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you.

PEREZ: Have a great day.

BALDWIN: You, too.

Still ahead, the most Googled candidate from last night? Self-help guru, Marianne Williamson. The good, the bad and the huh, from her debate debut.


[14:56:29] BALDWIN: Best-selling author, Marianne Williamson, is a self-help guru, an adviser to Oprah, and is running to be the president of the United States. Some of her answers on the debate stage last night left a lot of people saying, huh?

Despite all that, she gave one of the most memorable lines.


MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, (D), SELF-HELP GURU & AUTHOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, Mr. President, if you're listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what I'm doing. I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field and, sir, love will win.


WILLIAMSON: My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand, who said that her goal is to make New Zealand where it's the best place in the world for a child to grow up. And I will tell her, Girlfriend, I'll see you there. Because the United States of America --


WILLIAMSON: -- is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grown up.

But if you think we're going to beat Donald Trump by just having all of these plans, you have another think coming. Because he didn't win by saying he had a plan. He won't by simply saying, Make America Great Again. We've got to get deeper than just these superficial fixes.


BALDWIN: CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza, is here.

Listen, for all you can say about her, and how she wound up on the debate stage, that last point was a bit of a mic drop.


What's hard about that, though, Brooke, the case she was making is, basically, these policy positions are nice that you've all outlined but that's not how you beat Donald Trump. She's not wrong. At the same time, it is important for a party to talk about policy. But, man, that field of love, and I'll meet you there, that was amazing.

Regardless, this is top search candidates during round two of the debates.

What's interesting about these, when comes to Google searches, they usually track pretty closely with who you probably thought won. If you were interested enough to go look them up, it usually means they did well. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, I would say those are the two. I thought Kamala Harris was by far the best and Pete Buttigieg in second.

Look who's number one. Marianne Williamson.

BALDWIN: Marianne Williamson.

CILLIZZA: Now, part of that is, in truth, if you follow this stuff loosely, you kind of know who Bernie Sanders is, you know Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, you're probably like, who is that woman on the end talking about meeting Donald Trump on the field of love. This is more of a curiosity thing than a reflection that she won the debate.

But, look, Marianne Williamson is an author. She's going to probably sell a lot of books.

This is really interesting. Candidate speaking times. This tends to track with where they stand in the polling. The moderators try to ask questions about people who have the perceived best chance to win. Joe Biden got the most. Over 13 minutes. He didn't do that much great with it, but he got 13 minutes.

Williamson, 4:52 minutes. If you look at the previous slide there, Brooke, which is the most Google searched candidate, with less than five total minutes of talking, that's not a bad outcome for Marianne Williamson.

Again, I do think some people are thinking, who is this person, and why is she saying the things she's saying?

Last thing, Andrew Yang. He has a very big online following. I did not come away encouraged about his future. Let me give him a piece of advice on doing his best to change it. You have to speak during the debate.


CILLIZZA: Less than three minutes of talking time in a 120-minute debate. You got to find ways to interject more often.

[15:00:03] BALDWIN: Yes, yes. And how effective were those three minutes? Oh, I know.

CILLIZZA: Not very.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. Well, we'll see them all again, or however many of them, again in Detroit in a couple weeks.