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Highest Rated Dem Debate Ever Drew 18.1 Million Viewers; Celebrating LGBTQ Rights 50 Years Ago; Suspect Charged in Murder of Utah College Student. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Watched the Democratic debate ever. More than 18 million people tuned in. Today the Democratic presidential hopefuls back out and about on the campaign trail. There you see Senator Kamala Harris, one of several candidates making a trip today to see that migrant detention facility in Florida. There was no doubt she had some standout moments up on that debate stage last night, like this.


JOSE DIAZ-BALART, DEBATE MODERATOR: I'm so sorry. We will let all of you speak. Senator Harris. Senator Harris, please. We will let you all speak. Senator Harris.

JOE BIDEN (D) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't afford to wait for evolution on these issues.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey guys, you know what, America does not want to witness a food fight, they want to know how we're going to put food on their table.


BALDWIN: Brett O'Donnell is a debate coach and a consultant the for the National Republican Senatorial campaign, So Brett, thank you for coming on. All right, so you told by team, you say Senator Harris had the best

night. And you actually think the former Vice President had the worst? Tell me why?

BRETT O'DONNELL, GOP DEBATE COACH: Because in the moment of the debate, Senator Harris dominated the Vice President, that was the moment about halfway through the debate on race, and debates are about message and moments. If you can create a sustainable message across the debate. And also have a moment that dominates the press narrative, which is what she did. That creates a winning proposition for you.

Joe Biden suffered at the expense of that moment, and today, everyone's talking about Joe Biden's position on bussing. And they're talking about how well Kamala Harris performed.

BALDWIN: True, true, so what you're saying to me that you think someone like Andrew Yang who was up there and talked for less than three minutes had a better night than Joe Biden?

O'DONNELL: Well, they're nonfactors. I mean they're not being discussed today. Virtually none of the other participants in the debate last night are getting any oxygen from the press today. Everyone's talking about Joe Biden's position on bussing. And so a negative position is being highlighted about him. And everyone's talking about Kamala Harris's performance last night. Her breakout performance. And so I'd rather not be talked about than be in Joe Biden's position today.

BALDWIN: One of your jobs, again, full transparency, right, is to elect Republicans, so who do you think Trump should be most nervous about on the debate stage? Of everyone we've seen the last two nights.

O'DONNELL: Of everyone we've seen the last two nights, I would say, no one so far. Because no one's had --

BALDWIN: No one?

O'DONNELL: No one's had a discernible message, a visionary message that can appeal to the middle of the country. And most of the candidates are staking out positions so far to the left that I think they're going to have trouble running to the center. If I were the President, I would say, you know, the last two nights made me in pretty good position. He's looking -- his positions look a lot better to folks after the last two evenings, especially in middle America.

I mean think about the positions that they staked out last night. If you have employer sponsored insurance, even Kamala Harris said, she wants to get rid of it. Now she backtracked again and flip-flopped again on that position, which I think is a problem for her. But they staked out a position that would decriminalize illegal immigration. Positions that would --

BALDWIN: Sure, no doubt this crop of candidates tilting more to the left, but what you just said, you know, a lot of that can be applied to folks on right as well.

O'DONNELL: Oh, sure.

BALDWIN: I want to ask about Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Because I think he also had a moment as well, when he was up there, when he was answering a question about this crisis back home for him, in South Bend. About this black man being shot by this police officer. Watch this.


RACHEL MADDOW, DEBATE MODERATOR: The police force in SOUTH BEND is now 6 percent black in a city that is 26 percent black. Why has that not improved over your two terms as Mayor?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) 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.


BALDWIN: Because I couldn't get it done. Do you give him credit, Brett, for at least being honest?

O'DONNELL: Absolutely. And I think that's the difference between new school politics and old school politics that you saw in Joe Biden. You know, Mayor Pete was able to have a moment of vulnerability. I think that he will get a lot of credit from everyone in the audience for that. Whereas Joe Biden was unable to admit that he evolved his position, he just didn't want to admit a mistake. And I think that's the difference between the new politics, old politics.

And so I give Mayor Pete a lot of credit for that moment of vulnerability.

[15:35:00] The question mark is, how will that play with the base and with the voters that he's trying to appeal with?

BALDWIN: Brett O'Donnell, thank you for coming on.

O'DONNELL: Good to be with you.

BALDWIN: Good to have you.

And do not forget, the next round of Democratic debates air right here on CNN. So make sure you tune in July 30th and 31st, we will be live from Detroit.

We are also following news this afternoon in the disappearance of this Utah College student. Police in Salt Lake City have now charged a man with her murder. Details on how they tracked him down.

Also celebrating 50 years of progress since the Stonewall Riots here in New York City. A man who was inspired to a life of LBGTQ activism in the wake of those riots. He was there that night. He joins me live.


BALDWIN: 50 years ago today inside of our New York City's Greenwich Village, patrons many of whom were gay were at the Stonewall Inn, simply living their lives, drinking, dancing, organizing but they were doing it in the shadows of the world because they would not accept them because of who they loved and who they were. There was this police raid, a decision to finally take a stand in three days of rioting that would become an historic turning point for the battle for gay rights.


DALE MITCHELL, WITNESSED STONEWALL RIOTS 50 YEARS AGO: The civil rights movement, the woman's movement all galvanized together but it was truly the transvestites and minorities that were the forefront runners of the Stonewall Riot.

If you were a feminine or you were dressed nonconforming your sexuality at birth, you were arrested and tried to be humiliated. And that's what was happening that night.


BALDWIN: And now the world remembers Stonewall, not just for what happened this day, back in 1969 but because of what it started, this National Pride Movement. And Dale Mitchell was there, he witnessed the riots. Thank you so much for being here on this incredibly special weekend. You were 20.

MITCHELL: I was 20 years old.

BALDWIN: You had come out to your parents and they disavowed you? You tell me, what's the right word?

MITCHELL: My parents told me that to continue to remain in college -- this was during the height of the Vietnam War. I had to see a psychiatrist to be cured.

BALDWIN: Wow. You drop out of college, you're in New York City, you happen to be walking down Christopher Street which is the street right in front of the Stonewall Inn, and what happened? What did you see?

MITCHELL: Well, we turned on to Christopher Street, we saw blue lights flashing in the distance. My boyfriend at the time told me to go and do some reconnoitering and find out what's going on. I came back and told him that the police were raiding the Stonewall again. Which was not an unusual circumstance. And by the time we got down there, it would probably be all over.

By the time we got down there, the police had started bringing out drag queens, putting them in a paddy wagon, and for the first time ever, both the patrons of the bar started to resist and the crowd that had come to observe this. Which in and of itself was unusual, started to resist and express solidarity with the patrons who were being arrested.

BALDWIN: Remind everyone. Take us back to 50 years ago, when it was against the law to be in a bar, in a public space as a same sex couple, not even just kissing, touching one another. Tell me about that time.

MITCHELL: Well, it was a very claustrophobic time. It's a time where you were always worried about your own personal safety. It wasn't just what was illegal, we were also routinely beaten up, I mean, straight people would -- generally guys would go into the village with the express purpose of beating people up. Queer bashing is what we called it.

BALDWIN: You got beat up?

MITCHELL: I've been beat up multiple times in my life, yes.


MITCHELL: And so you know, we were kind of hit from all different directions, our families would disavow us. We were at risk for our own personal safety. We would be fired from our jobs if it was discovered that we were gay.

BALDWIN: And Dale, now flash forward to 2019 watching the Democratic debate last night, there was a man on that stage from South Bend, Indiana, one of the first lines out of his mouth is, well, Chasten and I, referring to his husband. It was just a couple years ago, when the United States Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. What did you think about that?

MITCHELL: It's mind blowing to think that a candidate can be gay and be taken seriously as someone who could be considered for the presidency of the United States. That's just mind blowing.

BALDWIN: You met him.

MITCHELL: I met him last year. My agency hosts a Senior Pride Luncheon every year, that about 300 older LGBT's come to, and Mayor Walsh. The mayor of Boston, brought two mayors with him for the Senior Pride Luncheon. And Pete was one of them.

BALDWIN: Last question to you. Gay rights and this movement, LGBTQ rights has come so far, what's the next big step moving forward?

[15:45:00] MITCHELL: I think anti-discrimination legislation at the national level is the next big step. There is a bill, it's called the Equality Act which has been filed in Congress a number of years, they're finally holding hearings on it, I think there's a good chance it could pass the House of Representatives this session.

BALDWIN: Dale Mitchell, happy pride.

MITCHELL: Thank you. Same to you, happy pride.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. We are back, more on our breaking news. Joe Biden explaining himself after that bruising debate with Senator Kamala Harris. Plus the big announcement from the Supreme Court today that involves next year, the election year.


BALDWIN: Breaking news from Salt Lake City where police have made an arrest in the disappearance of University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck. They now say the 23-year-old college senior was murdered by a man she met in the early morning hours on June 17th.


CHIEF MIKE BROWN, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: After an exhaustive week of investigation we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in the homicide of MacKenzie Lueck.


BALDWIN: CNN's Scott McLean is live in North Salt Lake. So how absolutely horrible. What happened?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke, so, the police say it was digital footprints, digital breadcrumbs left behind that led them to this house and this suspect, Ayoola Ajayi. But it was the physical evidence found that made them realize this was not a missing person's case, this was a murder investigation. According to police, Lueck landed June the 17th early in the morning and she took a Lyft to North Salt Lake, a park there where she met up with, according to police, the suspect.

Cell phone tower data police say showed that the two had been communicating and also that they were in the same place. Until around 3:00 a.m. when Lueck's phone stopped working. On Wednesday police came here where they searched the property and they also realized from neighbors that the suspect had been burning something behind the home. The chief also said that in interviews with them that the suspect claimed he couldn't tell MacKenzie Lueck and what she looked like but police had evidence already that was not true. Here is how the police chief described some of the things that they found here.


BROWN: During a search warrant on the arrested person's residence and property on June 26th, the arrested person's neighbors informed detectives they observed him burning something in the backyard with the use of gasoline on the dates of June 17th and June 18th. A forensic excavation of the burn area was conducted which resulted in the finding of several charred items that were consistent with personal items of MacKenzie Lueck. Other charred material was located which has now been forensically has been determined to be female human tissue.


MCLEAN: So the suspect was arrested this morning at an apartment complex not far from here. It is still unclear how Lueck and the suspect actually met and whether or not they had ever met up before. Her family put out a statement simply thanking family friends and the police. This though, Brooke, comes as a big, big surprise to people who live in this neighborhood. Many of them describe him as a normal guy, if quiet. One neighbor even said he was the epitome of a great neighbor. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Poor family. Scott McLean, thank you.

Still ahead here on CNN, Vice President Joe Biden tries to clarify his record on bussing after getting hammered on the debate stage last night. We will hear his comments. And get reaction from one of his opponents. Senator Cory Booker live on CNN.


BALDWIN: Want to take a moment to honor this week's CNN Hero, Jamyle Cannon used boxing to come to terms with his own anger and now he's using it as a hook to get some kids from some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods in the door. Then he gives them a safe space tutoring and the unconditional support they need to have brighter futures.


JAMYLE CANNON, FOUNDER, THE BLOC (voice-over): All right. Let's work.

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

Hands up. Pump it. Boom, boom. Just like that.

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

(on camera): Is your homework done today?


CANNON: Check you out.

(voice-over): When we give them the support that they need, they learn that they are capable and the sky is the limit and I can't wait for people to see how powerful our kids are.


BALDWIN: Good for him. Cannon's nonprofit "The Block" has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. To learn more about him or nominate someone you know go to

We also have new developments in the investigation into who shot Red Sox legend David Ortiz. Local police say one of the masterminds has been arrested in the Dominican Republic. Victor Hugo Gomez allegedly paid for a hit on a man sitting next to Ortiz at the bar earlier this month. Ortiz meantime is still recovering from surgeries back up in Boston.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.