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Trump Makes Light Of Russian Meddling In Putin Meeting; Swalwell To Biden: "Pass The Torch" To New Generation; 2020 Dems Spar In Second Night Of Debate. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very strongly that we in fact deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box, I agree that everybody once they in fact just (ph) -- my time's up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right look policy matters, style matters, just as much on the debate stage and this is about the persona of persuasion, what did tonight mean for Joe Biden? Let's bring back Cenk Uyger, Jennifer Granholm who helped Biden with debate prep but has not made any endorsements, and Chris Cillizza.

Cillizza -- plus, minus for Biden tonight?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Minus, minus. On that point there, I don't understand -- Joe Biden of all people, he's been involved in more debates than probably everybody else on that stage combined he knew -- what are the moderators going to do if you go over your allotted time?

CUOMO: Got to be how he was prepped?

CILLIZZA: Turn off your mic? I mean, just talk! You know --

CUOMO: Look at Granholm -- I'm just kidding.

CILLIZZA: I don't get that --

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR -- (D) FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: (Inaudible) that was a shot at me, right? That was a shot at me.

CILLIZZA: I don't think you get -- I don't think you get -- I don't think voters say, "oh, well he talked 65 seconds, he's only supposed to talk 60." On that minor point -- on the broader point, he just looked rusty.

Now that may change, right? He's going to do more of these things, CNN's debates are in a month. But he looked rusty to me. He should be the fulcrum of that debate, and he felt (ph) at times secondary and at times like a punching bag. He very rarely looked like he was in command, at least to me.

CUOMO: You know, sometimes as a metaphor Jennifer, sometimes you need to get woken up in a fight. And sometimes you can get your bell rung in a fight and it actually focuses you and you're like, "all right, now I have to be on." Do you think that has potential for Joe Biden or is what we saw tonight basically where he is?

GRANHOLM: No, I think that totally has potential for that, I mean like it would for anybody. I mean really he's -- Joe Biden, first of all he's such a great human being and this talk about him not looking empathetic or whatever. I mean, he is so empathetic and so I think you're -- all of this is learning, right? All of this is going to be taken in and injested I'm sure it's going to be watched and all of that.

But hey, how about that Kamala Harris? She did have a great night tonight.

CUOMO: She did have a great night, look -- and it's good for you guys to have a good field. Go ahead Chris and then we'll get Cenk in.

CILLIZZA: I would just very quickly -- look, Barack Obama, I think we'd all agree Barack Obama a pretty skilled debater. Remember the first general election debate of the 2012 campaign.

CUOMO: He got pegged.

CILLIZZA: Barack Obama slept walked through that, Mitt Romney wiped the floor with him -- everybody worried, "oh no, it is -- has Obama lost it?" He comes back in the second and third general election debates and he's fine.

So you know, there's going to be more than three primary debates that Joe Biden's going to be involved in, so he does have time and we have seen this happen to people who are gifted debaters and we would agree on.

CUOMO: Cenk?

GRANHOLM: Yes, yes.

CENK UYGUR, CEO & HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Yes, so Chris makes a good point -- I thought about that same first Obama debate. But on the other hand this is not an issue of stylistic problems for Biden, it's not an issue of guests (ph), it's who he is.

And he was wrong on a great number of counts, and he got called out on it, so he was wrong about the deportations -- they did deport people who were not -- who did not have a criminal record, and they deported a ton of people under Obama so that just was not correct.

Sanders called him out for voting for the Iraq War when he was trying to pretend that he was against wars, so he was wrong on that. Actually Michael Bennett did a fantastic job of pointing out that that deal that he made with McConnell was a terrible deal. It made all the tax cuts permanent, that Bush couldn't even make permanent. I talked to Michael Bennett in the spin room afterwards, he said it was the worst of all deals. So that's pretty devastating.

And finally on the bussing issue, no wonder he was against bussing because Kamala Harris just threw him under one.

CUOMO: Cenk's been waiting for that -- he's been waiting for that since they put him in the (inaudible).

CILLIZZA: He had that one -- he had that one like Kamala Harris had the food on the table, not food (inaudible) --

CUOMO: Exactly.

GRANHOLM: Exactly.

CUOMO: All of this stuff --

GRANHOLM: Can I just say though --

CUOMO: We know is planned, Jennifer. I mean look, you know Julian Castro was ready to go last night. You've got to believe Harris ready to go tonight -- they had social media going of I am that girl, you know, ready to go right after she said it basically. Go ahead Jennifer, what's your point?

GRANHOLM: Of course, and you know -- she was -- that's what you do. You prepare and you know -- you have your takedown before you go in to these debates, you know exactly what you're going to do and she executed that.

I will say this though, the bussing issue and we'll see how this plays out, right? But it is over 40 years old and his point at the time was that you've got to build up schools where kids are and live. And even that is reflected in his education plan today, he's tripling the amount of money for Title One schools in his education plan.

[02:05:00]

You know, again -- I'm not a surrogate for Joe Biden. I'm just saying that I'm -- we'll see how a 40 year old, or 45 year old argument plays out when the polls come through. And on the Iraq War, Cenk -- you know, he had apologized for that long ago.

I mean he knows that that was a bad vote and he has said that that's a bad vote, and they got that information making that bad vote. So he had --

UYGUR: But Jennifer, I just got to jump in --

CUOMO: Right, they did get bad information, but yet it's one of the reasons -- and I'm happy it happened Cenk, and I'll tell you why. Because we have lawmakers all the time on my show say, "yeah, we've got to take our power back, this AUMF is no good. We have to have a debate, the president has to come to us."

They gave that power away because they don't want moments like Biden had here and Clinton had to have in the last race where they have to own what happens in conflict --

CILLIZZA: John Edwards in the last race, Chris.

CUOMO: But -- so they've run away from it. Cenk?

UYGUR: So Chris, that's absolutely right. It's a cogent point, but overall look at the scene here. What unites all of these votes for Biden, and all of these actions is when he compromises with Republicans whether it's on bussing, whether it's on the Iraq War, or whether it's on tax cuts -- he does not pull them over to the Democratic side.

He goes over to their side and compromises in a way that is greatly advandegous to the Republican party. And in today's race when you're going against Donald Trump and you've got Mitch McConnell in the Senate -- we do not want the Democratic nominee going anywhere near Trump or McConnell, we want them fighting for us and that is really the number one problem for Biden.

CUOMO: Well look, the best thing that happened for Joe Biden tonight is that the President of the United States once again gave Vladimir Putin a big, wet kiss and literally made a joke out of Russian interference --

GRANHOLM: Unbelievable.

CUOMO: And made a joke about Angela Merkel hating the United States more than anybody else -- that was the best stuff that happened for Joe Biden tonight, because those will be two of his biggest points of strength.

All right, let's leave that there -- I'm going to take a break right now. We're going to have more to discuss, so I ask each and all of you, please stay. So here's the next topic -- some of the more interesting parts of the debate. Those moments didn't necessarily come from the candidates at the top of the polls, but they could wind up being a window in to what will have to be addressed by people who make it to the top, so let's go through those next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:10:00]

CUOMO: Biden, Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg -- those may be the candidates getting most of the headlines. In fact, that could be your top four when the polls come out in a day or so, but there are some other moments that have people talking, here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: What is that first issue for your presidency (inaudible) -- MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My first call is to Prime Minister of New Zealand who said that her goal is to make (ph) New Zealand where it's the best place in the world for a child to grow up.

ANDREW YANG, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would pass a $1,000 freedom dividend for every American adult starting at age 18 which would speed us up on climate change, because if you get the boot off of people's throats they'll focus on climate change much more clearly.

TODD: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: I don't know what that noise was after Yang said it. Like, I didn't know if that was an approval sound or was that a, what?

Cenk Uygur, Jennifer Granholm, Chris Cillizza -- Cillizza, well that face is telling me something. A thousand dollars a month for everybody over 18.

CILLIZZA: So I actually think -- I mean, I've read a bunch about Andrew Yang Universal Basic Income, I mean it's a theory of the case. I think he has a series of sort of interesting policy proposals, he was really bad tonight. But the concept is you pay everybody $1,000, in the long run it trickles upward and it's not as radical a policy as it seems. I think that's very unlikely to happen.

Marianne Williamson, that -- like to me, OK you could disagree with Andrew Yang and the idea of Universal Basic Income, but it's a theory of the case. The call the Prime minister of New Zealand, I don't get that one nor did I get her challenge to Donald Trump to meet her on the battlefield of love? And that love would win in her closing statement? It was -- it was vaguely terrifying.

CUOMO: I can almost hear the president saying now, "not my type, not my type -- not my type."

Andrew Yang is giving an economic theory that is going to reek of socialism, to people. And it does make me wonder that one of the things we're just starting to accept -- and Cenk is going to love this. Is that the party has just moved like four steps in that direction of not socialism, I don't care about the labels.

I'm just saying where (ph) government's going to be doing a lot more, is that a winning proposition for you Jen?

UYGUR: Yes, absolutely --

CUOMO: Not you, Cenk, Jen -- Jennifer, what do you think?

UYGER: Oh, sorry.

CUOMO: I know you're going to say it -- that would have been a rhetorical question. What do you think, is it a winning place the party? GRANHOLM: Not a general (ph), I mean -- you know, I come from the

industrial Midwest and you know, people are not going to be interested in seeing a 70 percent tax bracket. They're not going to be interested, especially if they're in a union and they've worked hard to negotiate their healthcare benefits. They're not going to want to see that given up. I mean, you just have to recognize that while it's great if we had a blank slate and we could start from scratch, but we are not there.

And so I think we have to recognize where people are at and know that in order to move the ball, continue to move the ball down it's not going to be overnight unless we get a wild election where we elect all Democrats and we can do whatever we want. But something tells me the Senate map isn't inclined to see that result.

CUOMO: So Cenk, a fan of yours called in to the radio show the other day -- I'm like, in love with Sirius Radio. It has been so good for my journalism. Cillizza helps me out as a host --

CILLIZZA: Great.

CUOMO: Jennifer Granholm came in with Governor Whitman of New Jersey, did an event for me. I've got to get you on the show. This guys calls in, he's a fan of Young Turks, and he's like, you know, the problem is the Democrats want to play small ball, and they want to win by like, almost being just like the Republicans and just kind of scoach (ph) through in some style contest.

[02:15:00]

We've got to play big ball -- big ideas, big moves that's how we get the big votes to turn out from (ph) people who now roll their eyes at us. That's your argument.

UYGUR: Hundred percent. So first of all, by the way Young Turks was the first original talk show on Sirius L.A. radio, so I'm proud of that -- that was all the way back in '02. But now, in terms of big ball -- look, I really -- I respect Jennifer so much, we work together at Current TV. But I really disagree --

GRANHOLM: Love Cenk, love yes --

UYGUR: You're the best, but we do sometimes disagree. So the 70 percent tax bracket would be for people only making above $1 million, and at this point if you ask the American people, 76 percent of them want to raise taxes on the rich. So we've got to get that through our heads, three-quarters of the country says, "don't lower taxes," --

GRANHOLM: No, I -- I'm totally with you on that.

UYGUR: "Raise taxes," right?

GRANHOLM: I'm totally with you on that --

CUOMO: But what about the idea, Cenk, of people who aren't in a tax bracket but aspire to it? And they don't like that you're putting a cap on their dream?

UYGUR: No but it's -- but Chris, we already polled it. Three- quarters of the country says they've had too many tax cuts, raise their taxes -- in fact, when you go to the millionaires they agree, 60 percent of millionaires says "for god's sake, raise our taxes." So if the millionaires agree, and the people who aren't millionaires agree --

GRANHOLM: Yes, well it's true but when you 70 percent, Cenk --

UYGUR: Then what are we fighting them for?

GRANDHOLM: 70 percent.

CUOMO: 70 percent.

UYGUR: But --

GRANHOLM: But -- no, no.

UYGUR: But Jennifer, that's 70 percent for people making above $1 million and it's only marginal --

GRANHOLM: I know --

UYGUR: It's a dollar above $1 million, so guys don't help the Republicans make their talking points --

GRANHOLM: I understand -- I'm just saying --

UYGUR: The reality is three-quarters of the country is with us --

CUOMO: That's why I'm here.

UYGUR: Take "yes," for an answer.

CUOMO: Cenk, I'm here to help motivate the talking points of each side and test them, that's what I do. Cillizza, let's get you in on this --

UYGUR: So my point is though, Chris to just real quick -- to just get your overall point about big ideas, look if we fight for higher wages for the average American, we fight for healthcare for everyone -- these are things that people can rally around.

When Hillary Clinton said no change (ph) -- when Joe Biden says no change (ph), it is impossible to rally around that. We have got to actually fight for the average guy, and we can do it in a big way -- and they actually agree with us, so let's say yes to them so that we can win the election and get great policies in.

CUOMO: Plus, minus. Cillizza?

CILLIZZA: I just -- I sort of -- I'm with Cenk on a point he made earlier which is that I just wonder as I watch Joe Biden tonight, and as I sort of watch Joe Biden in what he says about we just need to return to normal and Republicans will get over this, the fever will break, Donald Trump is an anomaly.

I know that the Dem credit base is not just people on Twitter, and it's not just Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I get that, right? It's older, right? It's more moderate, Ron Brownstein was talking about that earlier in the show.

At the same time, my gosh it just strikes me as very difficult to carry the -- we need to get along better message with Donald Trump in the White House for four years and the way that the Democratic base feels about him. If anyone can do it, yes, Biden in this field is the candidate who can do it. I just don't know if there's a candidate who can do that --

GRANHOLM: But Chris --

CUOMO: Go ahead, Jen.

CILLIZZA: I just don't know that that's in the -- a message --

GRANHOLM: I do not think --

CILLIZZA: That resounds with people.

GRANHOLM: He is not talking about getting along with Donald Trump. He is suggesting, I think -- I'm guessing, that when Donald Trump is gone, some of those Republicans will come back to their senses. Maybe that won't happen, maybe it requires a complete wiping of them all out, which we would have to do in 2020 anyway. So absolutely --

UYGUR: Let's do it.

CILLIZZA: My issue is not whether --

GRANHOLM: Let's get rid of all of the pro-Trumpers --

CILLIZZA: Sorry Governor, I'm -- go ahead.

GRANHOLM: But I don't think he's talking about cooperating with Trump-like Republicans, he can't, and we've seen that.

CILLIZZA: No I don't think he is either -- I'm not -- I guess I'm not trying to litigate the case of whether or not the fever would break. I just think if you look at what 2018 told us, if you look at the reaction after 2016 it just strikes me that the "let's take the chance that the fever will break." And let's go back to normal -- I think a lot of Democratic base says (ph) there is no more normal.

Donald Trump isn't the cause, Donald Trump is a symptom. The Republican party broadly -- sort of the way in which the leadership has operated is the cause. So this idea that we could go back to the Hill --

CUOMO: I'll give you that, except for one thing --

CILLIZZA: Fellow well met days if they ever did exist, is a false one (ph). (Inaudible) --

CUOMO: I'll give you -- I'll give nod -- I'll give Cillizza a nod on that, because when I come back to the radio show after like Cillizza subs (ph) in, I usually expect some hostility because I know he talks a lot of trash about me when I'm there (ph) --

CILLIZZA: I do.

CUOMO: But I'll tell you what Jennifer, one of the things that I keep hearing is when I -- when I take calls, you know we get them from like all over the country all the time. So your idea to canvas -- the ability to canvas (ph) is amazing. And the Democrats are -- if they're motivated they're angry.

CILLIZZA: Yeah.

CUOMO: And they're not -- so they're not motivated by we've got to come back to our senses left, right, forward as Yang said today. It's -- they're in "destructo" mode, you know, it's like the pendulum effect like we saw after Obama that --

[02:20:00]

CILLIZZA: Yeah.

CUOMO: That you know, you had a big awakening of this country of "oh no, we're not ready for this. This guy's got to go and he's got to go big." And that's how you wound up with Trump.

So I think if you guys are going to win, to Cenk's point and to Cillizza's chewing on it, that pendulum's got to swing, and the law of momentum says it's got to go as far in the other direction --

CILLIZZA: Yeah.

CUOMO: Where is that for you guys?

GRANHOLM: Yeah, well it's good -- I mean, honestly women are going to be leading --

CUOMO: Huge.

GRANHOLM: This angry -- this angry mass. I mean, there is no doubt about that. And I'm -- you know, I don't want to be put in the position on this panel of saying we shouldn't be bold and we shouldn't be going far, and we shouldn't be reaching for as far as we can because we have to.

But if we are stuck with some of the status quo, meaning if we are stuck with some Senate that is controlled my Mitch McConnell we're going to have to think about what we're going to do to compromise in some way.

I know that's a horrible word, but --

CUOMO: No, I don't think it is -- I don't think it is --

GRANHOLM: If you get half a loaf (ph), it's at least half a loaf (ph).

CUOMO: I think that -- you know, look it's like every other fight you've ever tried to negotiate in your life. When someone just got what they feel is punched in the face, and you tell them, "hey listen it's time to walk away we've got to find another." People don't want to hear that, it's when they're like looking you, "yeah I'm good." And then as soon as you move they maul.

So that's where we are in this country right now, and it's going to be interesting to see what the heel (ph) is when people want revenge, basically. Cenk Uygur, Jennifer Granholm, Chris Cillizza you are better than I deserve -- thank you very much.

CILLIZZA: Thanks for having us (ph).

UYGUR: Thank you.

CUOMO: Kamala Harris needed a breakout moment -- a lot of people did. But they didn't get it. She probably did. What got her the moment? Does that matter? If you make a moment, does it matter whether it was good for someone else, or bad for someone else -- or seen as fair? How do the rules work?

And with the former V.P., how much can he lose over something like this? Decades of work within the African-American community, can it just go poof on a bad night? "The Wizard of Odds," Harry Enten looks at potential fallout from fall out past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:25:00]

CUOMO: A lot of expectations tonight for the two Democratic front runners, it was supposed to be about Biden and Sanders, and this interesting exchange of ideas -- wrong. That's not what it was about.

We had some surprising moments that could change the run-up to the White House though, so let's bring in our "Wizard of Odds," Harry Enten with his take. Hey, let's be honest got it wrong. You know, the idea that "oh how will they draw these points of contrast?" And "what will Bernie Sanders say about his policy?" That's not what it was.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: No, that wasn't what it was at all. And I'll tell you Chris, I watch these debates going back on YouTube, on CSPAN whatever. And I -- when I see a moment that just jumps out at me, you know, I remember when Rick Perry said "oops," or when Chris Christie went after Marco Rubio four years ago in New Hampshire.

This moment between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden was one of those moments where -- remember, the question wasn't even asked of her. She went in and she pivoted -- she started on one thing, then she pivoted and said, "I have to talk about this."

And it just struck me as such a large moment in this debate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is we have seen throughout this campaign that Joe Biden has been doing so well with African- Americans.

When you combine the most recent April and May CNN polls, he's at 49 percent among African-Americans, Kamala Harris was in the single- digits in those polls. And so my question coming out of this, does this moment take away from Joe Biden's support among African- Americans? And does it help elevate Kamala Harris among them?

CUOMO: Well look, she's got the media momentum, right?

ENTEN: Yes.

CUOMO: And you get this circular argument about, "well did the voters get impressed by what we say, or are we really a reflection of them?" I've always felt that that's not how it works, that the media shapes perception. But then over time the electorate (ph) catches up and then passes whatever the media tells them.

But here's my question for you --

ENTEN: Yes, sir?

CUOMO: What have you got on this? The idea of at what costs. So I felt this way about Booker, every right as an African-American male to have very profound feelings --

ENTEN: Sure.

CUOMO: About how he's regarded with language and other type of cultural residue. Same thing for Harris, every bit her right to discuss this issue and to be heard, and to want redress --

ENTEN: Yes.

CUOMO: From the man himself about the policy --

ENTEN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: But within the party.

ENTEN: Yeah.

CUOMO: John Lewis (ph) doesn't feel like that, Clyburn (ph) doesn't feel like that -- the head of the CBC doesn't feel like that. What chance is there that Democratic voters say, "yeah she's a good prosecutor but she shouldn't have gone after him like that, it's not fair"?

ENTEN: Well I mean, look Joe Biden is overwhelmingly well liked by Democrats at large and African-Americans specifically an 88 percent favorable rating among them in our CNN polls. And more than that, look at this -- Joe Biden has had a steady level of support within the Democratic primary. So back in October of 2018 he was at 33 percent in our CNN poll, and then in June with the Monmouth poll that came out he's at 32 percent.

A very -- very, very level steady support. And so my question is, does Harris going after Biden merely make it so that both of them are disliked? Remember -- go back to 2016 in that Republican debate between Rubio and Christie, yes Christie had a good moment against Rubio, but Christie didn't win that New Hampshire primary, neither of course did Rubio. They both ended up dropping out of the race. Perhaps there's another candidate who will hope to be elevated by this sort of intraparty fighting.

CUOMO: Tonight, who winds up taking a beat down that may be insurmountable?

ENTEN: I don't know if there's anyone who took a beat down that was insurmountable. I mean, obviously I think everyone agrees that Joe Biden had a bad night, I think Bernie Sanders had a bad night.

That's something, interestingly we're not really talking about was that Bernie Sanders who has been dropping a little bit in the polls as Elizabeth Warren has been coming up, and I think most people agree that she had a good night at least in terms of the Democratic Primary Electorate on Wednesday night. I am not sure that Bernie Sanders said anything on that stage on Thursday night that helps tell Liberal voters that they should vote for him, instead of Elizabeth Warren.

CUOMO: "The Wizard of Odds," thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure. All right, so in case you missed it we had the president on here earlier, he's over in Japan -- Osaka. He was with the Russian President, it was a big deal. He said to the Russian President, "it's like the Oscars, you get used to it." That wasn't his line of the (ph) night though

ENTEN: I am not sure that Bernie Sanders said anything on that stage on Thursday night that helps tell Liberal voters that they shovel for him, instead of Elizabeth Warren.

[02:30:02] CUOMO: The Wizard of Oz, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

All right. So, in case you missed it, we had the president on here earlier. He's over in Japan, Osaka. He was with the Russian president. It was a big deal. He said to the Russian president, it's like the Oscars. You get used to it.

That wasn't if his line of the night though. After giving a list of what he said they talked about, he said something offhand that he should have never said offhand. Was in front of cameras, but he wasn't being serious. I bet you Mr. Putin, got the joke. And I bet you no one else should be laughing and we'll explain it all to you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election. Don't meddle in the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:35:01] CUOMO: Can't make it up. Election meddling is not a laughing matter. Any of you who said, well after Helsinki, you know, he knows that he has wronged, the president made a joke about it again.

You saw it. There is not anything here about interpretation. He had given a list about what mattered and what he was going to talk about. It wasn't on the list. And then, when he was asked about it, he made a joke of it.

Let's bring back Nathan Gonzales, Elaina Plott, and Mark Preston. I mean, what am I getting wrong? Nathan, I mean he made a joke of the suggestion about interference mattering in their dynamic.

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think you're wrong. I mean, I think that that's -- this is what we should expect from the president regarding this issue. I think when it comes to the people, how they feel about it, I think they've largely they're in their camps. People who support the president already are as dismissive as he is and those who are alarmed by it, this has just adds fuel to a fire.

CUOMO: I thought that it was -- did he obstruct to see a Russian agent if you support the president, no and no. But, yes, Russia interfered and they shouldn't do it again, we should harden up our elections. Let's focus on that. But obviously, he doesn't believe that that's something of much concern.

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, why are you surprised? It's an entirely personal issue for him. For Donald Trump to admit that Russia did, in fact, interfere in the 2016 presidential election, is to implicitly -- you know, play with the notion that, that could have been the reason he won.

I mean, just -- you have to -- that is the inevitable admission that comes along with that. This is a guy who is still claiming that he won a historic number of the popular vote, which is just patently false.

So, do you actually think that he's going to ever concede that? You know, Russian interference is a problem. CUOMO: I don't but I did think. I'm not -- you know, because I'm only about 80 percent as dumb as there would be. To feel that he's always -- he's going to own it at some point, 87 percent?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And about, about 87-1/2.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: 87 to 97, sir.

GONZALES: Put the margin of error.

CUOMO: Somewhere in there, so, there's no more --

The only reason is that I thought that after Helsinki.

PRESTON: Right, he would alert.

CUOMO: He would know that in this setting, I got a play a different because I'm not going to let the media define me on this. But now he just did it for us.

PRESTON: Yes, I mean, come on. I mean, this is just what's outrageous is that you have him sitting there at a time when you have Democrats back here in the United States that are naming Russia on a debate stage as the biggest threat to the United States.

CUOMO: Yes. We're not naming him.

PRESTON: Not naming him. Well, that's right, they didn't name him. But, well, how interesting is that actually, they got him both together.

But they unifier the Democratic Party was be Putin and --

CUOMO: Was the best thing that happened for Joe Biden tonight. The best thing that happened for Joe Biden tonight was the President of the United States making a joke on the world stage next to Vladimir Putin about Russia interference.

If you're Joe Biden, that is the best thing that could have happened to you tonight because it will hopefully focus people in his party from his perspective that we need something different than this man. We need somebody who is different on those levels than he is, Biden is that.

PLOTT: I mean, maybe I've lived in D.C. too long, but I think I'm too cynical to believe that people might even remember it next week.

CUOMO: That the president did it?

PLOTT: Yes.

CUOMO: Well, he's got a (INAUDIBLE) thing but it's, will Democrats remember it in terms of --

(CROSSTALK)

PLOTT: Yes, that's what I'm saying. Even with Democrats, I think, I don't -- I don't -- I mean there's a reason that Donald Trump was hardly mentioned on the stage last night, for instance. I mean --

CUOMO: Was tonight though?

PLOTT: He was tonight, but I don't think it's -- you know, a unified consensus yet within this primary field that to be in this field is to run against Donald Trump in some way.

CUOMO: True, fair point.

GONZALES: That's what's going to carry Joe Biden through this race. If he ends up being the nominee, it's not because he fits the party on issues or because he looks like the Democratic Party, it's because enough people believe that he can defeat Donald Trump in the Upper Midwest and into Pennsylvania.

That will smooth over a lot of this for Biden but if he keeps having these stumbles, it gets harder to keep people focused on that.

PRESTON: Can I help both poster your argument, which I can't believe I'm even offering any assistance to you on your theory? But why did Barack Obama pick Joe Biden to be his running mate in part? It's because of his foreign-policy experience and his ability to talk to world leaders.

So, to your point and I think the greater picture like maybe, maybe even myself who looked at what happened with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as being so devastating that it could -- you know, potentially just knock him out sooner rather than later. Maybe it doesn't. Right? Maybe it doesn't. And then, we move on because people have short -- you know, attention spans.

We have a governor of Virginia right now that was told to leave by party leaders. He is still there. We have a lieutenant governor of Virginia right now who was told to leave, he is still there.

If you have staying power, if you can get through a little bit of a battle, Joe Biden has already been through one. Just a couple of months ago, you know, with accusations of inappropriate behavior. I don't want to characterize it anymore next. I don't think it was anything more than that. And he survived it. So, maybe he can just survive it.

[02:40:09] CUOMO: When you can beat the media, what the president has exposed is that, we'll move on. If you hold on and it's not a matter of fact, it's a matter of how you feel about something you did. That's the key part.

PLOTT: Exactly.

CUOMO: Even with what we saw in Virginia. If it's a matter of fact, this happened and you're denying it, then we'll never go away. But if it's whether or not you're going to acknowledge that we don't like that you did something. If you hold firm, we'll go away eventually.

PLOTT: It's exactly what we were talking about earlier. Do you apologize? And that in many ways is the -- I think, defining factor as to whether you can get through something.

CUOMO: Yes, and although it does create an opportunity for an opposite. Which is where -- yes, I will apologize. Now, I'm not going to be Beto O'Rourke and apologize for everything about myself every 15 minutes. But I will present an opposite to President Trump because I don't see vulnerability as weakness, I see it as strength.

PRESTON: Right.

CUOMO: And I see emotional depth as a masculine quality and I see compromise is something that can be better. You know, you could be that slick of it.

PLOTT: You can be that. I just wonder if how easy is it at this moment to make the case that, that is what voters want given, who is in the White House right now.

CUOMO: Fair point. Let's do this, Nick. Let's take a quick break here, and then we're going to come back and talk about what tonight means for the next one. Which I know, who is the next debate?

PLOTT: Detroit?

CUOMO: I'm joking. The one time that control room put some information in my ears. It's us, we have it. I know and that's the point. Because let me tell you, you know who's going to start training for that.

Tonight, I can hear his jump rope, Joe Biden. Because boy does he have to shine on the stage the next time, CNN will have it. Let's talk about what we learned here that we'll see play out there. Our ace political analysts and Preston, next.

PRESTON: Someone is got a host down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:46:17] CUOMO: So, Congressman Eric Swalwell had one catchphrase tonight as he took swipes at Joe Biden urging the 76-year-old to passed the torch to someone like himself. The obvious suggestion, you old, I ain't.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 is still right today. If we're going to solve the issues of automation, passed the torch. Passed the torch. Passed the torch. Passed the torch.

REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R-FL): Vice president, would you like to sing a torch song? JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would. I'm still holding onto that torch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Reminds me of the -- remember the song Past the Dutchie upon the left-hand side.

PRESTON: -- side, right.

CUOMO: So, does he have a point? Let's discuss. Nathan, Elaina, and Mark are back. Some political analysts said tonight somewhere online that Swalwell said you got to pass the torch and he did, except Kamala Harris took it and running away with it.

GONZALES: But, what's interesting Chris, I'm a congressional race junkie. And I remember meeting a Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. And this is the same strategy he used to get to Congress he defeated a 20 term, a 40 year incumbent in Congress Pete Stark. Not only just with the generational argument, but he used something that Stark used in his first race and turned around, and said, "You know, now, is -- it's time for a change."

And so, that's why we're seeing this. That was different when there are 19 other candidates running against Joe Biden. But that's where I think this is coming from.

CUOMO: Look, I don't think it's a bad space. It's about, well, what is your youth about? His mandate tonight was largely about gun. I'm going to end gun violence in this country. I have a conceptual problem with that.

To me it's like I'm going to end the crime, you know. Because gun crime, crime they're almost interchangeable. Is that something that can resonate? I mean, obviously, everybody would like less gun violence. But, the idea of I'm going to get rid of it, is that aspirational to the point of the absurd?

PLOTT: Well, is it aspirational to the point of the absurd in this -- in the same way that Medicare-for-all is? I mean, would you put those on parallel friends?

CUOMO: No, because I think that as a policy, it has a chance of some form of iteration. No private insurance? I don't know. The trans --

(CROSSTALK)

PLOTT: Yes.

CUOMO: The transition cost, could there be a middle ground? But getting rid of guns.

PLOTT: Yes.

CUOMO: You know, you have so many laws already. You know. PLOTT: Well, OK. This is what I think to another person who we haven't talked about at all. This is kind of what I think Amy Klobuchar feels is her lanes. He had this line that stuck with me last night, which was that, "I can't make all the promises that the people standing next to me can. What I can do is promise to govern with integrity," yadda, yadda, yadda.

And given that everybody is racing to the left right now, it -- I mean, wasn't the most inspiring message, but it was a pretty pragmatic one, I thought. But I think Swalwell -- I think, Klobuchar would have looked at Swalwell and said the same thing.

CUOMO: You know, if they can keep the circle or a circular firing squad into a minimum, I had an idea that when I was looking at this, people will beat me up saying, "Oh, he's trying to help the Democrats."

No, I felt the same thing about the Republican field. What if when they get close to convention time, actually let's say, 12 whom is still in it? All right. Let's just say that they find a way to cobble money together where next summer you still got a dozen.

PRESTON: But, we just say, by the way, you don't even need any money. If you want to stay in, you can stay in as long as you want. You just may not be able to be invited to all the parties.

CUOMO: You don't get to go to all the different things. And you don't get to travel around as much you don't get to have the team. You don't get to do messaging online.

PRESTON: But a lot of these teams too are very small right now.

[02:50:01] CUOMO: Right.

PRESTON: I mean, after Swalwell's team can't be more than a handful of people.

CUOMO: But as you go along, you actually want to resonate, and you want to put down roots in different places, and you can't do that without the money.

Anyway, my point is this. Imagine if these dozen decided to run as a slate of this is who were bringing in on government. Swalwell is going to be -- you know if he doesn't get everybody angry by calling whoever's at the top too old. You know, assuming that it's not him.

This one's going to take this job, this one's going to take this job. Now, obviously, they still have to be confirmed by the Senate. But you would have a vetting process of people who have sold themselves the American people the likes of which we've never had before. They run as a slate.

PRESTON: Who's going to be at the top of that slate?

CUOMO: What you'd have to see how it shakes out as you get closer. PRESTON: Yes, I know, I mean, look, it, in theory, it's a great idea. OK? Back in 2016 when we had 17 Republicans running. I mean, they could have done the same thing and it could have put some really qualified people in government. And this is where we are.

POTT: But I think --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Democrats will never do it. But in theory, it's a great idea because you (INAUDIBLE) best of people.

(CROSSTALK)

PLOTT: In theory, it's a great idea. But you have to remember the hubris required to even run for president in the first place. So, I think it would have to be you would have to feel you were in dire straits. I think to admit, "OK, I will be on your slate," and you know.

CUOMO: I'll be yours -- I'll be a secretary of commerce.

PLOTT: Yes, right, right.

GONZALES: When we saw in 2015, 2016, we saw some of them announced running mates earlier than usual. And in order to try to get a boost, you know -- so, even if it's not a whole slate, a whole government, later on, we could see, hey, let's join forces and try to make this happen.

CUOMO: So, are you with Mr. Preston? Do you believe at the CNN debate, they're all still in?

GONZALES: Well, I mean, if everyone reaches those, I think there's a disincentive to get out right now. I mean, I think there's really little to lose by staying in and trying to -- you know, at least, make it through the end of July.

CUOMO: Is the party going to put anything in place that would knock people out?

PRESTON: No, I mean, there's going to be two nights, there's going to be 10:00 at night. I mean, eventually, someone's going to get knocked out because we know no bullet will has crossed a threshold to be considered for the debate.

Meaning, he has qualified but could there -- you know, he's going to be put into a situation where either he's not going to get in this next one or one of the 20 that was on stage is not going to get it.

CUOMO: And what did we learn that you believe will change what we see the next time?

PLOTT: I mean, I think, Joe Biden likely learned something tonight. And which is that, you know, you have to remember Barack Obama's debate with Mitt Romney. That first one went really poorly for him. The second one was incredible. Same with Reagan first time he ran.

I mean, there is a track history of sorts of frontrunners, favorites as it were underperforming in the first debate or litany of reasons. And then coming back and being quite strong. So, that's why I think it's premature to say -- you know, this is the end of Joe Biden or whatever.

Yes, he didn't do great tonight. But I also wouldn't be surprised if -- you know, we're talking in Detroit and he blows everyone away.

CUOMO: What do you think?

PRESTON: You know what I'm kind of hoping. I'm wondering what conversations are going to start happening this weekend between some of these campaigns who to your point think that they can't keep going. But, you know, they're going to stay into Nathan's point to chillax, there's no reason to get out. And who is -- who's going to start getting out and start "endorsing". Because of another reason to run, we know is that if you're going to get out, try to get something back in return.

So, could the Swalwells of the world or any other one presenters who perhaps do not move up because of their performance, did they try to start cutting bills.

(CROSSTALK)

PLOTT: Do you think that would happen this early after just one debate?

PRESTON: What -- well, because the DNC is going to --

(CROSSTALK)

PLOTT: I don't know. I don't know because historically that's -- OK.

PRESTON: What's going to happen is that -- is that the field is 20- plus right now. You come September, it's going to have to be cut off. The Democrats, they all can't be like Marianne Williamson and be like let's all hug each other at some point. It's got to be tough love.

GONZALES: I think -- I think in two weeks, we're going to know a lot more. I think you've alluded to having polling two weeks. And I think that, that will help the candidates calibrate because they'll say, "OK, this candidate did this." This resulted in them going up in the polls. At the next debate, I want to do that, I want to be that person.

CUOMO: I think what you'll start seeing right away, and it will culminate in a new vibe that will certainly be at play when we're doing the next one is he has to get after somebody.

And I have to start talking about this president more, and how I'm going to take him out. And that was a mistake that I didn't say the last time. And I'm going to find somebody, and I'm going to take him out like this was a NASCAR race. I'm going to find somebody who's a position or two in front of me, figure out what's wrong with her or him, and I'm going to be ready to go because boy, this the media love that.

PLOTT: And you know who actually summed up that approach best today. And I agree with you that I think it's the key one. Is Marianne Williamson. You know, we laughed at her, she did have that one pretty lucid moment where she said, "What it will take to beat Donald Trump is not a bunch of white papers." What it will take as an emotional appeal similar to the one that he capitalized on.

CUOMO: And it fall to the head of New Zealand.

PRESTON: Right.

PLOTT: Right.

GONZALES: First one, first call.

CUOMO: But that's the first call -- first call (INAUDIBLE).

PLOTT: But you have to trapeze the call with hey girlfriend. That's the crucial element.

[02:55:01] PRESTON: You know what though? When the slate comes out, she will not be the ambassador to New Zealand.

CUOMO: You don't think so.

PRESTON: I don't think so. They'll give her somewhere else.

CUOMO: Wow.

PRESTON: That's where to St. James, just guess so.

PLOTT: That seems kind of rude. No.

CUOMO: Listen, I appreciate, well, that so he is. Welcome to my world. All right. Thank you very much for giving us a good set of eyes on what happened tonight and where we're going from here. Elaina, Nathan, what's your name again, Franklin?

PRESTON: Mark with the C.

CUOMO: Mark Preston, more important than any of you will ever know. Thanks to each and all of you, and thank you to you for watching. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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