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Analysts Examine Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate; Joe Biden Criticized by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) for Past Support of Busing Legislation; Kamala Harris Confronts Biden on Race, Busing Record. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- prescription drugs in this country as a process to getting us to the ultimate goal where everybody has coverage in America.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Cory Booker, thank you for joining us this morning.

The first debates are over. The next round right here on CNN in a couple of weeks. We look forward to seeing you on our stage.

We're going to hear from Senator Kamala Harris, her campaign, just minutes from now. NEW DAY continues.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, Junte 28th, 8:00 in the east.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it has flown by this morning, much like the debate last night.

BERMAN: Yes. And it never ended. It's non-stop from last night. The biggest moment that everyone's been talking about, maybe the biggest moment of the campaign so far, Senator Kamala Harris confronting the former vice president on the issue of race and his opposition to school busing in the 1970s. The frontrunner, he tried to defend his record. Listen.


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.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In terms of busing, the busing I never -- you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. I ran because of civil rights. I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights, and those civil rights, by the way, include not just African-Americans, but the LGBTQ community.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: The Vice President has certainly been the frontrunner in this campaign. Is that status in some kind of jeopardy this morning? Are we waking up to a different race today?

CAMEROTA: Also breaking news this morning, President Trump joking with Vladimir Putin about Russia's election interference. We'll have much more of what's going on at the G-20 in Japan as well, but first let's get to our panel. We have Errol Louis, CNN political commentator, Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter, Bianna Golodyrga, CNN contributor, and Van Jones, CNN political commentator and host of "The Redemption Project." Great to have all of you here in the studio to give us your impressions of what happened last night. Van, we understand you had a little bit of a viewing party with Nia-Malika in the greenroom we found out last hour. So give me your take away of last night?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we thought it was going to be kind of Bernie versus Biden kind of clash of the titans, or whatever. It actually would up being a younger generation just running over the older generation and going in a direction I think is a permanent kind of moment in the campaign.

Joe Biden is a legend. He's an icon. He's beloved in the black community. He stood by Barack Obama through thick and thin, and he's somebody who has a deep, deep reservoir of goodwill in the community, and he is burning through that good will by doing the kind of stuff he did last night. I think Senator Booker did a good job of explaining how that landed. You cannot sit up here in 2019 and make an argument that it would have been OK with you to leave little girls like Kamala Harris to the tender mercies of local law enforcement, local school boards, because it was 20, almost 30 years after Brown versus the Board of Education and schools still were not desegregated.

I'm a ninth generation American. I'm a first person in my family born with all my rights recognized by this government. Think about that. and so had we been waiting for all these local schools boards and sheriffs to do right by us, we still would be in the situation my parents were born into.

And so he had the opportunity to be Joe Biden last night, to show the empathy, to show the growth, to thank Kamala Harris for what she's done, to thank her family. He missed the empathy moment. He missed the civil rights moment. He missed the moment. And I think the air is going to come out of the tires for him not because of any one thing, but the totality of this performance last night I think left people thinking this is not the guy I want to see go up against Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Nia-Malika, your take?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, we don't know yet, right, if the air is going to go out of the tires. We don't know yet if we're going to see any sort of diminishment in terms of his support among African-Americans. As you said, there's a great deal of affection --

BERMAN: He's been far and away the leader among African-American voters.

HENDERSON: I'm from South Carolina. African-Americans in South Carolina in particular see Joe Biden as a family member. There is just a kind of affection that in some ways surprised me when I witnessed it among folks in South Carolina. So we will see. There is a sort of demarcation with African-American voters, older African- American voters, much more conservative, and in some ways see race in a different way and may even see part of racist attitudes as baked into the cake among some white Americans, older white Americans, something they certainly had to deal with, people who had stereotypical ideas about African-Americans. So we'll see.

[08:05:03] I was talking to somebody in South Carolina a little earlier this morning and one of the things they think might be a negative for Kamala is that she may have been seen by some of these African-Americans as sort of kicking Joe Biden when he was down, and if she was maybe a little disrespectful in a place like South Carolina very concerned about manners and respect to elders and all those sorts of things. But we'll see. We don't know. We don't know if he is sort of Teflon Joe in the way that Donald Trump was Teflon Don.

CAMEROTA: Errol, your thoughts?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In 2007, 2008, a lot of the same things were being said about Hillary Clinton when she was running against Barack Obama. She's leading him in the polls. She's leading him in the polls with black voters, as a matter of fact, up to that win in Iowa, at which point all of them came home, all of them swapped. He went on to live in South Carolina.

HENDERSON: Literally that big of a swap.

LOUIS: I was there in Iowa, and it was clear by the next morning, like he's going to get every registered black voter there is in America, which essentially happened. So I think Kamala Harris is banking on pulling off maybe a similar kind of break with all the affection that black voters appear to have with Joe Biden.

It is stunning to me he even made that statement that got him into all this trouble talking about James Eastland who died in 1986. When Biden came into the Senate in the 1970s, these segregationists were at the end of their rope. They were at the end of their careers. They had spent 20 years fighting against implementation of Brown versus Board of Education. There's a way to explain it, if he cares to, but it was never on the agenda until he brought it up, and one wonders why he did. And now the latest revelation of these letters showing exactly what he did on busing, it's going to be something that's going to be very, very difficult for him to overcome.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And more reason why he should have been prepared going into last night knowing that this very issue would come up. One of the reasons he earned the nickname Teflon Joe is because he brings the fight, right? In the past we've seen him going from defense to offense. We didn't see that from him last night. We saw a man who has had multiple presidential runs give up his speaking time because he had nothing left to say. We know him warts and all with his gaffes to be passionate about any issue he's talking ability. He not only wasn't passionate. He wasn't even able to adequately defend his previous record and actions.

HENDERSON: He was incoherent at times, he was fuzzy, he was slow in his responses. I look back at the 2012 debate that he had with Paul Ryan, a completely different person in terms of energy, in terms of his answers, in terms of his quickness. And I think obviously the big part of why he's doing well is because African-American voters believe he is electable. The idea he is the only one perhaps as an older white man who can go up against another older white man.

Well, Kamala Harris with her fierceness last night and her aggression and passion and real skill, deftness, and real demand of the stage, I think folks are going to be thinking about whether or not Joe Biden is electable given his performance, or more electable than anybody else.

BERMAN: What about that issue of electability, Van, in terms of Biden and Harris, and also that entire night? Is that issue different today than it was going into these debates?

JONES: I think Democrats have to be careful. In 1968 Nixon won, and the party said this guy is so terrible and we went way left, put up McGovern against Nixon, and got destroyed. So there can be a dynamic. When you have a very controversial, divisive Republican president, you can't have a Democratic Party that starts getting into its own logic model and get way out there too far.

CAMEROTA: And who would be that?

BERMAN: I don't know yet. There are two different theories what it's going to take to win. One is you get the most progressive exciting person, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and you go. The other says maybe you need to be a little more careful. And all I'm saying is I don't know yet if this conversation we're having at this level, because we haven't seen the polls yet, is having an impact. And I don't know if we're getting ourselves out there on that McGovern branch that could break out from under us. But what I do know is this -- we have a new moment in America. The two most impressive people last night, an African-American woman and a young white guy. The night before --

CAMEROTA: Pete Buttigieg?

JONES: Pete Buttigieg. The night before it was Castro, a young Latino, and Elizabeth Warren, a white female. The four most dominant performances were from people who are not the old model of the straight white guy. There's a post-Occupy Wall Street, post Black Lives Matters, post Dreamers, post Me Too party. And how that party lines up with America I don't know. But any politician who wants to win a primary in this party needs to get the memo. It's a different conversation. You've got to upgrade and up level or you're going to have nights like Joe Biden just had.

[08:10:06] GOLODRYGA: But they also can't lose sight of what happened in 2018 and why Democrats won the House. Health care was the big issue. We seem to see a situation where these candidates are all over the place when it comes to health care, and they need to decide whether it's fix the current system or blow it up. And I haven't heard one coherent plan from any of these candidates about what it will take, and there are millions, 150 million Americans that are currently on private insurance. You had all of the candidates last night raise their hands when they said they would give undocumented Americans and immigrants their own insurance, right? When you talk about Americans that are actually citizens of this country not getting a concrete answer what happens to their insurance and whether they can afford health care, then you have a really big issue.

JONES: I agree with you in one way. First of all, every undocumented immigrant in the country already gets health at the emergency room because Americans, we just don't let people die in the streets, we don't let children just die in the crib. So they all get it. It's a question of if you want to do it in a rational way.

But I don't think that the Medicare for all crowd understands in the middle of the country, where I'm from, I grew up in Tennessee, the idea that the federal government is going to come and close down and put out a business a whole bunch of insurance companies and replace it with whatever they want to, that doesn't sound good. Mayor Pete said Medicare for all who want it. That's a much better formulation, if you want it. Obama, we had the fight for that public option. We weren't able to get it.

I think we've got to be careful, I do think we have to be careful, because at some point it sounds like we're saying open on borders and governments taking over industries, and that's a very easy thing to run against.

HENDERSON: And listen, I think no matter who the nominee is that is probably going to be Donald Trump's line on Democrats.

BERMAN: It already is.

HENDERSON: It's open borders, it's free welfare whatever for illegal immigrants.

JONES: You just don't want to help him too much.

HENDERSON: I think we see this struggle with Kamala Harris. It's unclear where she is on Medicare for all.

CAMEROTA: She raised her hand last night on getting rid of private insurance.

HENDERSON: Right, but then I guess the campaign is saying she thought -- maybe the question was unclear, but it was the second time somehow she --

JONES: But the question was would you give up your -- and she was like I would give up mine for a big government program. I think that's what she thought.

GOLODRYGA: And Biden missed opportunity to defend Obamacare, right, remember his words once it was passed, a big blank deal, right. I didn't see him defending it as much as he could have last night.

LOUIS: Politically that is what's going to work. They're trying out things that are going to work on the campaign trail. You start relitigating and drawing out the numbers and talking to the experts about public option and can it really work and what will the cost structure be, it all starts to fall apart. So they're going to be looking for what lines will work in front of the electorate that wants to sort of be reassured that Obamacare is not going to be destroyed. And a simple defense will probably get them through the campaign season, of course with the notable exception of Bernie Sanders who does indeed want to blow up the entire system.

BERMAN: Elizabeth Warren said it, too.

HENDERSON: Bill de Blasio as well.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you very much for all your expert analysis. Great to have you here with us in studio this morning.

Senator Kamala Harris had that break out moment in last night's debate. So how did she prepare for that? Well, a key member of the senator's team is going to tell us next.



[08:17:48] SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed was busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed.

HARRIS: But it's the failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate, Berkeley, California, public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision.


HARRIS: So, that's when the federal government must step in. That's why we have the Voting Rights Act, and Civil Rights Act.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That was the big moment from last night's Democratic debate. California Senator Kamala Harris sparring with former Vice President Joe Biden over his record from the 1970s.

Joining us now is Senator Harris' communications director, Lily Adams.

Lily, great to have you this morning.


CAMEROTA: So many of our guests this morning with vast campaign experience have told us how much a campaign hopes for those break out moments. You hope that somehow on a stage of 10, you will be able to have the amount that the next morning everybody is talking about. But those moments don't happy accidently.

So, can you just peel back the curtain for us and tell us how the senator prepped for that moment last night?

ADAMS: Well, I'll just say two things. I mean, I think what Americans saw last night is Kamala Harris who dominated from the start of that debate to when she called out the interrupting and yelling and calling out the American people didn't want to see a food fight, to the exchange that you just saw with Vice President Biden. She sharply communicated her message to the American people. That's what we practiced and prepped.

But, you know, really the best prep that she's had is doing town halls across this country, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. We were just in South Carolina where she, you know, espoused a lot of the same messages that she is the best candidate poised to beat Donald Trump in November of 2020.

CAMEROTA: In your prep sessions, what answer did you think Vice President Biden was going to give to that?

ADAMS: You know, honestly, Alisyn, we really didn't know.

[08:20:00] I think we knew the issue would come up based on some of the exchanges that both Senator Booker and Senator Harris have had with Vice President Biden through the press when he started sort of talking fondly of working with segregationist like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

But, frankly, we didn't know. We didn't know what the exchange would lead to. We expected the issue would come up tonight.

But, you know, I will just say this. You know, Kamala Harris started this campaign by saying I'm going to speak the truth to the American people. And that's what she did last night. And that's what she'll continue to do no matter who it is.

CAMEROTA: Clearly, you knew the busing issue was going to come up because she raised it and because you had the hashtag ready. We'll just put up on screen.

You also happen to have a picture ready of her from maybe third grade. This was what you guys tweeted. There was a little girl in California who was bused to school, that little girl was me, #demdebate. And then you immediately turned it into a t-shirt you guys can sell that says "that little girl was me".

So, clearly, you knew she was going to raise the busing issue. Were you surprised last night by his response?

ADAMS: Yes, I mean I was. Look, it'll be up to Vice President Biden to explain his opposition to busing, in particular back in 1970s. It still seems like a position that he still holds today, you know, that allowed students like Senator Harris to integrate into public schools like the ones in Berkeley.

And, you know, I'll just say, Alisyn, you know, she said last night, I was the little girl on that bus. Well, she was not the only child on that bus and frankly that bus was not the only bus in America. So, this is not something that's just personal to Senator Harris. This is personal to millions of people across this country.

And I think, you know, it'll be up to Vice President Biden to explain sort of whether he still holds that position today or how he's changed his views.

CAMEROTA: Just out of curiosity, who played Vice President Biden in your debate prep sessions?

ADAMS: Oh, we had a few folks playing some of the different -- we didn't have nine people lining up on a debate press stage, but one of our -- our national press secretary played some of the different roles. Everybody had multiple roles to play, but I think he played Vice President Biden most of the time.

But, you know, really in these prep sessions what you're trying to do is just make sure that Kamala Harris has the opportunity to tell Americans sort of two things. One, she understands the issues keeping people up at night, and two, that she's the best candidate to beat Trump in November, and I think that really was a mission accomplished moment last night.

CAMEROTA: There was a confusing moment for Senator Harris last night. She raised her hand when asked -- the question seems to have been, who would get rid of private insurance? And she and Bernie Sanders were the only two who raised their hands.

Does she want to get rid of private insurance?

ADAMS: Well, no, what the question was, would you get rid of their private insurance, and so, what she was saying is I'm not going to have Medicare-for-All except for me. She would definitely put herself into a Medicare-for-All system.

She's been very clear the bill she supported with Senator Sanders allows for supplemental private insurance for those who need it, for those that the Medicare-for-All coverage is not enough, in case they need it. But, yes, we're going to have to start tackling a real taxing driver of health care costs in this country, which is insurance companies who have continued to drive up premiums, who have continued to drive deductibles and co-pays.

She told a story last night many Americans, you know, relate to which is a lot of folks in this country who had insurance and still struggle with being able to take their child to that emergency room when they're running a fever, and that's because of those high deductibles.


CAMEROTA: Yes, but just to be clear --

ADAMS: I think that the system that we have right now is not -- yes?

CAMEROTA: Well, I know you've said she's been very clear, but she also had this same sort of hiccup with Jake Tapper during a CNN town hall where she said, quote, yes, let's eliminate all of that about private insurance, let's move on. So, just to be clear --

ADAMS: Yes, and they were talking about the bureaucracy.

CAMEROTA: OK, so she does not want --

ADAMS: Sorry, I'm having a little delay with you, but yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I understand. I'm sorry about the satellite.

But just to be clear this morning, that she didn't mean to raise her hand, she misunderstood the question or the question wasn't phrased accurately actually, and she would not get private insurance for Americans?

ADAMS: That's correct, and private insurance will still exist for those who want supplemental care. But what Medicare-for-All does is provide a baseline level of healthcare for all Americans. And that really has to be the goal. I think that's a goal all Democrats share and what she's going to fight for.

But, you know, one thing that she said in the spin room last night is that 91 percent of doctors are in the health care system. I don't think Americans are really going around and saying, gosh, I really love my Blue Cross Blue Shield. What they want to be able to do is keep their doctors and 91 percent of doctors are in Medicare.

CAMEROTA: Do you have a figure for how much money you raised last night?

ADAMS: I haven't -- I haven't seen the latest tally but I will say it was the third biggest fundraising day of our campaign after the launch day and the day after when we had that 22,000-person rally in Oakland. So, we're seeing a lot of people respond not just with the exchange that you played with Vice President Biden, but also the issues of her talking about immigration last night, also the issues talking about the national security threat Donald Trump poses to America and the world.

[08:25:14] So we're feeling very good, especially about the response that we're seeing from the early states.

CAMEROTA: Lily Adams, we know you had a late night last night. Thank you very much for making time for NEW DAY. Great to talk to you.

ADAMS: Thanks very much. CAMEROTA: John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Just a little while ago, President Trump had a moment on stage side by side with Vladimir Putin that was shocking though maybe not surprising. Joking about the Russian attack on the U.S. election. We will bring you that moment, next.


BERMAN: Breaking this morning, he did it again. New questions about the president's priorities. President Trump meeting with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, joking about the Russian attack on the U.S. elections.


REPORTER: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?


Don't meddle in the election please. Don't -- don't meddle in the election.


BERMAN: Joining us now from Japan, CNN chief national correspondent and "CNN NEWSROOM" anchor Jim Sciutto and from Moscow, Matthew Chance, CNN senior international correspondent.

Jim, you're in Osaka.