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INSIDE POLITICS

Marianne Williamson's Pitch to Harness Love in 2020; Harris Clashes With Biden Over His Civil Rights Record; Sen. Sanders Speaks After Debate Performance; Senior Democrat on Biden's Debate Performance: "Not Great"; Younger 2020 Dems Push "Generational Change" During Debate; House Progressives Outraged Over Senate Border Aid Bill. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Didn't speak for the first 27 minutes. But when Marianne Williamson finally got her moment, people noticed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My first (INAUDIBLE) is to the prime minister of New Zealand who said that her goal is to make New Zealand a place where it's the best place in the world for a child to grow up. And I would tell her girlfriend you are so wrong because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up.

I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field and sir, love will win. But if you think we're going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans you've got another thing coming. Because he didn't win by saying he had a plan, he won by simply saying make America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: As the debate ended it was Williamson who led the Google search trends. The only other top, two candidates in the top 10 search results were John Hickenlooper at number six and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at eight.

So, Jeff Zeleny, what do you think? I mean, she says one thing that slogans actually matter, that helped Donald Trump. Is she right?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question. I mean, I think in all the screaming and all the shouting and the food fight that was going on, she did stand out because she was talking in a, you know, a very unique voice in several respects and she's also not just on the debate stage. I was in Iowa a couple of weeks ago and I spotted a billboard in the east village of Iowa not far from the state capital and it has that slogan on it. It says, "Turning Love into a Political Force. Marianne Williamson for President." So she's out there, she's campaigning somewhat.

Look, I think I'm not exactly sure what she's up to. She's probably not likely to win here but her voice has stood out because it's softer and unique.

RAJU: Certainly unique indeed.

Before we go to break, you could call it gridlock on Capitol Hill today when a Capitol subway train got stuck between office buildings. Senator Chris Murphy tweeted the alarm and a quick photo of his pal Senator Brian Schatz trapped onboard. Murphy tweeting, "Brian Schatz, if you're not out in 30 minutes, text me and I will try to find help."

I've been stuck in those trains, trust me I know. They could take a while. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:36:32] RAJU: More now on the debate night clash between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and how or if it changes the 2020 dynamics. Senator Harris said Biden's civil rights record can't fix his invoking Senate segregationists. And the opposition to busing offended her politically and personally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day, and that little girl was me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: The clash creates several questions for the frontrunner. Does Biden need to retool how he addresses race and his complicated history or more importantly does he want to?

Cleve Wootson of the Washington Post joins our conversation now. Cleve, when Biden goes before black activists in Chicago next hour, what do you think he needs to do here? Address this head-on or sidestep it or try to clean it up.

CLEVE WOOTSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I -- Manu, I think he just needs to be forthcoming. A lot of the African-American voters I've talked to particularly in South Carolina in the last two weeks have said they kind of trust Biden's bonafide on race, and that they were not necessarily willing to give him a pass but --

RAJU: Cleve? Cleve?

WOOTSON: Yes?

RAJU: Sorry to interrupt you. We'll get right back to you. Bernie Sanders is speaking to reporters right now on Capitol Hill. Let's listen.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- now becoming into the fall. People understand we can't be the only major country on earth not guaranteeing healthcare to all people. People are beginning to address the outrage of massive income and wealth inequality in America. Three people owning more wealth in the bottom half of the American And I'm very happy that the planetary crisis of climate change denied, unfortunately, tragically by this president is now something everybody knows that we have to address and address in a very aggressive way. So I'm feeling quite good about the direction in which the debates and the discourse is going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think about the fact Senator Harris said she misunderstood the question when she raised her hand alongside you?

SANDERS: I'll let Senator Harris speak for herself. All that I know is that the American people know that there is something really absurd that we are the only major country not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. And we end up spending twice as much per person on healthcare as do the people of any other country and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

The function of healthcare, let me say this over and over again, is not to make insurance companies and drug companies huge profits. It is to take care of the needs, the healthcare needs of the American people. That's what a Medicare for All single payer system would do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Vice President Biden should still be considered the frontrunner after last night's debate?

SANDERS: I'll let you decide that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Thank you.

RAJU: Bernie Sanders there speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill and doing what Bernie Sanders does. He avoids getting into a food fight with these guys, for the most part, and women in the race and saying he wouldn't take a shot at Kamala Harris for saying she misheard that question about whether or not she supports getting rid of private healthcare.

JOHN BRESNAHAN, CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF, POLITICO: And it's a bill she co-sponsors and that's what she brought up today. But she has given different answers on this in a couple of different times, and the campaign did try to clean it up today. So -- I mean, it's clearly something that the Harris campaign is worried about. But he's not taking that shot and didn't take a shot at Biden also.

[12:40:01] He --you know, he wants to focus on what he wants to talk about, and he's, you know, he's been through 2016 and he'll stay on message and you won't get him off his message. And, you know, he's not a warm and fuzzy guy, and he'll admit that. And he's not charismatic and he'll admit that also. But, you know, he's good at his message and he believes in when he believes and he stays on topic.

RAJU: And also the question is how much did he actually gain in the last night's debate was that a lot of people said it was a mixed performance last night. JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the interesting things about Bernie in this race is that it's very clear that his policy agenda is really shaping the broader discussion in the Democratic Party in part because he's moved some of the members of the party toward him. But also there is this question about what direction the party is going to go broadly. But Bernie himself does not feel as much at the center of this race as his policies are. There are other options for people who want that, that really progressive sort of big government-funded program vision that he has.

RAJU: And he also just also made sure he didn't go after Joe Biden when he's asked do you think he's still the frontrunner in this race. But I want to go back to Cleve, what's in about that conversation that we were just having about Joe Biden, what he has to do the next hour when he does -- could talk to activists in Chicago. You were saying that you were speaking to voters. What do they want to hear from Joe Biden about his record on race particularly in the aftermath of his comments here?

WOOTSON: A lot of voters that I've talked to have said, you know, they have 40-some years with Joe Biden including, you know, eight years as Barack Obama's vice president. And I'm not saying they're willing to necessarily give him a pass but I think they are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if he continues talking about those four decades in politics.

RAJU: Yes, and the question is do you think that he needs to actually clean it up in any way or just say, you know, he -- just say that look, I am the person who was the vice president with Barack Obama, the first black president. Trust my record on civil rights, look what I've done. Will that be enough to win over those voters who may be concerned about what they heard last night?

WOOTSON: Yes. Well, you know, win over versus, you know, holding onto the voters that he already has. But I think that his method, his process of, you know, talking about his record thus far has seemed to be working in particularly with African-American voters. And so if he continues hammering that home that may give him some benefit.

RAJU: All right, Cleve Wootson from the Washington Post, thank you for joining our conversation.

Up next, a generational divide on full display on Democrats' debate stage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:47:14] REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He's still right today. If we're going to solve the issues of automation, pass the torch.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As the youngest guy on the stage I feel like I probably ought to contribute to the generational conversation.

SANDERS: As part of Joe's generation --

BUTTIGIEG: I'm all for generational change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: That was Congressman Eric Swalwell and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, two 30-something candidates running to become the 2020 Democratic nominee. And both making their cases for a generational change. Swalwell didn't mince words basically saying Biden should step aside. And today when asked if former vice president Joe Biden's time was over, this is what Buttigieg had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: I still believe that a person of any age could be a great candidate. The question is if you're offering that generational outlook, is it backed by a vision that explains what our generation is supposed to deliver? If we look like we're trying to promise that we'll go back to the 2000s or 1990s even that's just kind of the implied in our messaging, then I think we're going to lose a lot of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: I wonder, do you think this generational argument is it resonating? Do you think it works with voters?

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes, I mean, you've got boomers arguing with millennials. It's like it's our lives everywhere not just in the presidential debate. You know, and it wasn't just the two millennial guys who made a generational argument. Kamala Harris was making a more subtle generational argument when she said, you know, you were in the Senate talking about busing, doing legislation on busing, I was a second grader being bused to school. Like, that was also a generational pitch not just about race or about policy.

RAJU: Yes, and Swalwell was trying to be very overt.

KEITH: He was not being subtle.

RAJU: He was not being subtle at all, and you had an interesting exchange with Bernie Sanders last night. Let's play.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: There is a generational argument being made by one of your younger rivals suggesting that maybe you and Vice President Biden are too old for this race. What do you make of that?

SANDERS: I mean, I think that's kind of ageism to tell you the truth. If I were to say to a younger person, you know, you're not qualified because you're only 35 or 36 or something like that, you don't have the experience, that's not right. I don't think so. Judge people on the totality of who they are, what their ideas are, what their experience is, what their record is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: He was upset.

ZELENY: He was, and he said, look, you can't discriminate for anything else. I think when you're running for president, though, everything is fair game to ask, you know, about your fitness for office, health, and other things. But I think the point he tried to make onstage there was to look over to Congressman Swalwell and say, listen here young man, to get something accomplished you need experience and gravitas.

So I think that the generational argument is a real one because it speaks to something else.

[12:50:03] As you were saying, I mean, if you can tie it into policy. But the history of the Democratic Party is to find the younger nominee from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, so that is what Biden is up against.

PACE: There's a real pattern in Democratic politics. (INAUDIBLE) drawn in by these younger, fresher faces. Maybe not quite as young as Pete Buttigieg who's 37, but Barack Obama was 47 when he was elected, and there is something about Democratic voters that really -- they do get drawn in when you make this argument about the future and looking to a new generation.

RAJU: And you've seen them in these two debates, the party moves pretty far to the left on some issues that could be potentially problematic in the general election as Republicans believe there could be issues that would be problematic such as providing healthcare for undocumented immigrants. Yesterday, every candidate raised their hands.

Look at the New York Post cover after that episode. It says, "Who wants to lose the election?" And has that moment where everybody is raising their hands. Do you think that this -- I mean, Trump obviously thinks this will help him. Politically, is this going to be problematic for the Democratic candidate in the general election?

BRESNAHAN: I think that -- I mean, this comes down to the -- this is the gap between the parties and it's getting wider. And the Republican Party is moving further to the right, and the Democratic Party further to the left. I mean -- so I think they feel like this is the battle line and they're very happy to fight over this ground. And I think the Democrats are, you know -- you saw Sanders push the party in this direction in 2016 but I think, you know, this is where the party is going and they're going -- if you're going to win the primary you're probably going to have to be there.

RAJU: This is really going to be the debate in the general election in some of those key states particularly in the west how they deal with it. We'll see. More to talk up ahead.

Up next, Senate Democrats and the House speaker taking some heat from their own party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:30] RAJU: Fallout continues today after the House passed a $4.6 billion Senate bill to send emergency funding to the border. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had demanded changes to the Senate bill but in a reversal yesterday she reluctantly agreed to put the legislation up for a vote. Justifying it is a means to, quote, get resources to the children fastest. The measure which ultimately passed 305-102 was welcomed by the president but progressive House Democrats, many of whom voted no, slammed their Senate counterparts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Senate Democrats joined the leadership behind McConnell and supported something that had no safeguards, no basic human rights for these children. What are you doing? You're just throwing money and saying continue what you're doing, President Trump.

RAJU: He said that they lack spots.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I do.

RAJU: Those are pretty strong words.

JAYAPAL: I feel pretty strongly about this.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): And what they did is to say that we have the same values as Trump and the Republicans. And this is a sad day I think in how history will record us.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): But I am deeply saddened that our Republican counterparts and that the president and that the Senate could not accept such moderates' improvements.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: This has been definitely the most divisive fight so far in Speaker Pelosi's tenure and this go around. Should we expect more of this in the weeks and months ahead?

BRESNAHAN: I think she's going to have problems moving forward. I mean, this is like they've been papering over this. And this has been a split that's there between the moderate wing of the party and the much more liberal progressive wing, the AOC wing, and the group that you were interviewing. And this was -- they all came out in the open.

You know, Pelosi was going to try and pass a House bill that she had modified after cutting a deal, a monitor bill and then, you know -- and then she's, oh we'll take up the Senate bill. And, you know, the left (INAUDIBLE) she had 95 of her Democrats votes against her. That doesn't happen to Nancy Pelosi.

RAJU: You know, I wonder more broadly politically, you know, Democrats I think should be worried that this could deflate their base if it looks like that they're caving despite having control of one chamber of Congress. Of course, we know that it's hard to get things done in a split government but do their base voters know?

KEITH: Well, except that there are also a bunch of moderates who helped to give them the majority, and those moderates came to Washington and saying that they were going to do bipartisan things and this is a bipartisan thing. Pelosi gave herself a little bit of a buffer with some of her members by extracting what is described as concessions from Vice President Pence. They say certainly it's not enough to satisfy the more progressive part of her caucus but -- and we'll see if they really get these administrative changes that the vice president's office promised but there were -- there was at least a little figuring for her.

RAJU: But this could play out again in impeachment, progressives pushing hard for that. She's tamping it down.

PACE: This is the dynamic that we're going to see between now and the election essentially Pelosi trying to tamp down those progressives and try to protect the moderates who to Tamara's point put Democrats in the House majority.

RAJU: Yes. And that's her number one priority right now, keeping the House, making sure those moderates are safe, those Trump districts. A lot to watch in the weeks ahead.

Thank you so much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning. Brianna Keilar starts right now.

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