Return to Transcripts main page
Biden On Busing: It's Complicated; Biden Defends His Record On Civil Rights After Debate; Ground Stop At Newark Airport Due To "Airport Emergency"; Megan Rapinoe Stands By Her Comments To Not Visit The White House; Trump: Biden Was Hit Too Hard In Dem Debate; Trump Invites Kim Jong-un To Meet With Him At The DMZ; How Do Trump's Overseas Trips Affect 2020?; Dem Debate Highlights Leftward Shift Of The Party; Are Democrats Speaking Spanish Savvy Or Pandering?; Is Chief Justice Roberts The New Kennedy? Aired 9-10a ET
Aired June 29, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Two weeks ago on the anniversary of Donald Trump descending on an escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, I remarked here on the improbability of it all. Not many then gave him any chance and then with regard to 2020, I said the only thing we know for sure is that we really don't know what's to come.
Well, look at what just happened. Joe Biden, who served eight years as the vice president for the nation's first African-American president, is now on the defensive for his civil rights record, specifically on busing in the 1970s.
On Thursday night, Kamala Harris accused Biden of working with segregationist senators to oppose busing. The "LA Times" noted that, quote, "The ambush seemed carefully planned." It was choreographed with the release via social media of a photograph of a young Kamala Harris, a picture that was quickly added to the t-shirt at campaign merchandise store.
Biden struggled to respond saying in part he did not oppose busing in America, but did oppose busing ordered by the Department of Education. It's a complicated issue to address in short sound bites, but in his 2007 memoir, "Promises to Keep," Biden took five full pages to explain his past role, writing in part the following.
"Busing was a liberal trainwreck and it was tearing people apart. The quality of the schools in and around Wilmington was already suffering and they would never be the same. Teachers were going to be transferred out without consultation to new school districts. In some instances, they would be forced to take a pay cut.
New Castle County had about two-thirds of the school-age population of the state and now every one of those children was going to be assigned to a new school on the basis of racial balance. A large percentage of them were going to be moved to a new school, some as far as a dozen miles away, when the new school year began in September of 1978. White parents were terrified that their children would be shipped into the toughest neighborhoods in Wilmington. Black parents were terrified that their children would be targets of violence in the suburban schools.
It also meant that a parent-teacher conference could cost them a half a day of work and what if there was an emergency? a lot of people in inner-city Wilmington didn't have cars and there was no reliable public transportation. Nobody was happy. I kept introducing legislation to try to keep busing as a last resort to be used only when school districts had worked actively to segregate children by race -- de jure segregation."
The point is that Biden is for busing only when discrimination is intentional. While segregation might seem like a subject from the distant past, "The Washington Post" noted yesterday that Harris' home state of California is today the most segregated in the country for Latino students where 58 percent attend what the UCLA Civil Rights Project considers intensely segregated schools, meaning schools that enroll 90 percent to 100 percent non-white students or an equivalent share of white students.
Harris' platform has made teacher pay a centerpiece of her education plan, student debt as well, but thus far has said nothing about busing. And yesterday, "The Mercury News" confirmed that the program that bused Harris was voluntary, not court-ordered, and a Biden aide total "The Washington Post" that he would not have opposed it. Bottom line, this is a very complicated issue, ill-suited for a 60 second sound bite.
Please make sure to answer today's survey question at Smerconish.com. We're asking this. Does Joe Biden owe any apology for his past position on busing?
So does Biden's fuller explanation, reflected in his memoir, absolve his past role? I want to ask Cornell Brooks, professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School. Brooks is the former president and CEO of the NAACP. So professor, he distinguishes between de facto, unintentional and de jure segregation. Does that provide him any cover for this controversy?
CORNELL BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: It provides context, but it does not provide cover. It is important to make the distinction between de jure and de facto segregation, but it's also important to make the distinction between segregation brought about as a consequence of educational policy, that is to say schools segregated as a consequence of law or policy, but also segregation brought about as a consequence of housing policy, housing laws, residential segregation.
[09:05:03] So in other words, children can arrive at segregated schools as a consequence of administrators and elected officials and policy makers sending them to those schools or they can arrive at segregated schools as a consequence of real estate brokers and housing developers and those responsible for our neighborhoods looking color- coded as a consequence of segregation in society -- in society. So that distinction is necessary, but not entirely sufficient.
SMERCONISH: He said in his memoir that if it were intentional segregation, we can put this up on the screen, quote, "I'd personally pay for helicopters to move the children."
I think what he was saying in the book, and I've read all of it, is that, you know, if there were a natural practice of people living among those who looked like them, then he didn't think it was the government's role to interrupt those housing patterns and bus kids away from their domicile, but if there were shenanigans being played here then, quote-unquote, he'd have spent the money himself for the helicopters to move those kids.
BROOKS: Yes, but the problem with that explanation is it doesn't speak to the fact that there are shenanigans and strategies for segregation that take place and that took place in our neighborhoods. So in other words, it's not that communities are divided by race and ethnicity based upon choices that people naturally make. These are choices that are imposed by real-estate agents and rental agents engaged in discrimination, bankers engaged in redlining.
So it is not enough to say that when segregation is brought about by school administrators and policy makers, we'll address it then, but we won't address it when it's brought about as a consequence of housing segregation.
The vice president in the book really didn't speak to the -- to the full complexity and the reach and scope of segregation and so again, his distinction is necessary, but not nearly sufficient and it certainly doesn't speak to the fact that segregation is not a matter of the distant past, but very much a part of the present. So in other words, UCLA and Penn State did a study which speaks to the fact that our schools are being segregated as we speak. Segregation is increasing and worsening as we speak.
SMERCONISH: Right. I quoted from it in my -- in my opening commentary.
BROOKS: That's right.
SMERCONISH: "The Mercury News" coverage I thought was pretty sophisticated, good depth, and it suggests that the program that bused now senator Kamala Harris was voluntary, a pilot program of sorts. The point being that nothing that Joe Biden ever advocated would have denied her that ride on the business. Do you agree with that?
BROOKS: Yes. It's important to make that distinction between voluntary busing and busing imposed by local officials, by the federal government, by the Department of Education. That's an important distinction to be made or a distinction to be made, but it's also important to be very clear about this that busing, along with other strategies for integrating our schools, must be backed up by the full authority of the federal government when necessary.
We cannot make integration a matter of the personal choices or whims of elected officials in the face of persistent racial segregation in our schools and our neighborhoods. That's the issue. What people were very concerned about in terms of the primary debate was the fact that the vice president seemed to suggest a millennial form of states' rights. In other words, we can pursue integration when it meets the wishes and the whims of local officials as opposed to using the full measure and weight of the federal government, including the Department of Education when necessary.
SMERCONISH: I hope we shed some light on a complicated subject. I appreciate your appearance here, professor. Thank you.
BROOKS: It's good to be here. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish. Go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. "I predict a Biden/Harris ticket. Weirder things have happened."
You know, Nick, it's so interesting that you make that observation because going into the debate, many people speculated that that would be the dream ticket with the former vice president at the top of the ticket, right? You've got gender balance, you've got racial balance, you've got geographic balance, you've got an age balance. And she seemed willing, Senator Harris, to put it all on the line, right?
[09:10:02] By going after him and essentially laying claim no to the top of the ticket, but you're not ruling out that in the end they could still be together. Interesting. I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Smerconish.com. Answer today's survey question. Does Joe Biden owe any apology for his past position on bussing?
Up ahead, they have nowhere to go but up, the U.S. women's soccer team beating France in the World Cup quarter-final. The two U.S. goals scored by team co-captain Megan Rapinoe who has caused some to view the national soccer team in red state/blue state terms after her comments about visiting the White House.
And later, the president is overseas. He's meeting with a slew of world leaders and inviting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to meet him at the DMZ. How does that play here at home?
We've got some breaking news into CNN. Departures and landings have been stopped at Newark Airport due to an airport emergency. We'll have more on that as well.
SMERCONISH: There's some breaking news into CNN for the many Americans traveling this holiday weekend. There's a complete ground stop at the Newark Airport due to an emergency with an aircraft. A passenger said that a plane had to make an emergency landing.
[09:15:00] CNN has reached out to the FAA for more information. We will keep you advised.
Meanwhile, the U.S. women's soccer team currently dominating on the world stage, beating France Friday 2-1. With this win, the team is one step closer to taking it all home and an invitation to the White House, but will anybody show up?
Co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who scored both of the U.S. goals last night, said that she, quote, "wasn't going to the F-ing White House if the team wins the World Cup." The snub prompted a tweet from the president who said the team is invited whether they win or lose. He then added, "Megan should never disrespect our country, the White House or the flag, especially since so much has been done for her and the team. Be proud of the flag that you wear."
While Rapinoe is standing by her comments to not visit the White House, she has accepted an invitation from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit the House of Representatives. You may remember that back in 2015, then President Obama invited the team, including Rapinoe, to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I want to invite you guys in the team to the White House to celebrate the championship and I can't wait to meet you guys.
MEGAN RAPINOE, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: Thank you so much, Mr. President. We can't wait for you to rock one of our jerseys. We'll be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Later that year, the team, including Rapinoe, did go to the White House. Joining me now, "USA Today" sports columnist Christine Brennan. Hey, Christine, so much for politics being a distraction on the pitch yesterday afternoon because they were really hot.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Well, that's right, Michael. Yes. And who scored the first goal? Megan Rapinoe in the first five minutes. Who scored the second goal? Megan Rapinoe. What was the final score? Two to one, U.S. over France in a huge game, one of the biggest games in U.S. soccer history, men's or women's, and certainly one of the biggest games in international sports in the United States ever.
So the final score was I guess Rapinoe 2, France 1 and Trump 0 and I think what's fascinating about this as someone -- I've (PH) covered sports and I've covered -- I've covered sports for over 30 years and I certainly covered Rapinoe for the length of her career and what's so interesting is Donald Trump has chosen this time to go after an athlete who is representing the United States on the field of play right now, wearing the red, white and blue.
It's one thing to go after Colin Kaepernick or NFL players or NBA players, calling them SOBs. I don't -- I'm not for that. I don't think that's a good thing to do as the president of the United States, but at least they're playing domestically. This is a team, beloved American team, representing the country overseas and the president is still picking a fight with one of its top players.
SMERCONISH: OK. But I have to -- but I have to ask you, and you're better dialed in on this than I am. That's why you're here, but didn't her comment precede anything that he said? Didn't she cast the first stone with the, "I'm not going to visit the F-ing White House?
BRENNAN: And I think she's cast many other stones. She's talked about this president, as others have. Lindsey Vonn did before the 2018 Olympic Games. Adam Rippon, the figure skater, whose life changed when Mike Pence went after him after a comment that Adam Rippon, the figure skater, made to me in a story in "USA Today."
This happens a lot. The question is does the president respond? And can you imagine if someone was critical of Ronald Reagan, Michael, or someone was critical of George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush, not to mention Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, what the reaction would have been? I'm sure they would have said something like, I'm cheering for Megan Rapinoe and move on and brush off the question. That's the president's duty (PH) ...
SMERCONISH: Look, I don't like -- I don't like -- I don't like any of it. I don't like any of it and I'll tell you why. It used to be that our political differences stopped at the water's edge and from what I saw via social media yesterday and into last night suggests that now there's this red state/blue state divide in the United States as to whether people are even cheering for the women's team to win at all which I just think is sad.
BRENNAN: Well, one of the things that's changed, of course, is we've got Twitter and we've got other social media. So athletes are expressing themselves. we didn't hear this in the 80s. We probably would have, but there was no vehicle for those athletes to say these things. So that's part of it, but I -- but I do think that when you're looking at someone like Megan Rapinoe, again, it seems to me that it's very natural for her to speak out and to talk about these things.
The U.S. Women's National team, Michael, is so popular. It is beloved and frankly, I'd say it's beloved in red states as much, if not more, than blue states. I think (PH) ...
SMERCONISH: Yes. I don't know. I have to respectfully say you're giving her a pass for the F-ing White House comment. I'm not.
BRENNAN: Well ...
SMERCONISH: I'm not taking away her right to speak and to sound off about the president, but that offended me.
BRENNAN: Well ...
SMERCONISH: I think you've got to respect the White House and the Oval Office -- I'll give you a chance to finish.
SMERCONISH: ... regardless of who the occupant might be. I just don't like any of it. Let's elevate all of this conversation and all celebrate what is one hell of a team. You get the final word. BRENNAN: Oh, sure. No worries. No, I'm not a fan of expletives at all in anything I do. So I agree with you there. By the way, Rapinoe did apologize and said her mother wouldn't have liked the expletive.
[09:20:01] So she has done that and I think that should be noted, but I do think that, again, athletes speaking out, this is not unusual. And Michael, just to note it, that little video clip that included the expletive was shot months ago and it did drop this week, but she did not do that overseas. She did that in the United States as far as I understand.
SMERCONISH: Got it. All right.
BRENNAN: So I'm not giving her an entire pass, but I do think the president can control the narrative and he has decided to dive right in into this one, obviously no surprise.
SMERCONISH: I think you and I agree on the most important thing, we want them to win and continue to win. So thank you, Christine Brennan.
BRENNAN: Michael, thank you.
SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're all saying via my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have from Facebook? "My only problem with the remark by the USA soccer captain is that now the only thing people are talking about the remark of one person instead of focusing on how great of a team they are."
RK, I totally agree with you and it distressed me. This is what I was trying to say to Christine. It distressed me too. I watched the bulk of that game yesterday, that match, as I was preparing for this program and then I went to social media and I took a -- took a look at it and to see the crossfire, you know, Democratic and Republican cross -- about women's soccer when we're celebrating this fabulous team. It was just a stressor.
Used to be that our domestic differences stopped at the water's edge and we were united against a common foe. Those days seem to be over which is sad.
Up ahead, President Trump is pumping the brakes on tariffs on Chinese goods after meeting with President Xi and inviting Kim Jong-un to say hello at the DMZ. What's the reaction here at home?
And later, there was a battle on the democratic debate stage not on policy, but on those speaking Spanish. Was it savvy or was it pandering? Something congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found amusing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I thought it was humorous sometimes at times, you know, I -- especially because sometimes the content of the question, I thought people were just going to start saying (SPEAKING IN SPANISH), which means I will not give you an answer to your question. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: President Trump currently overseas in South Korea after attending the G20 summit in Japan. While there, he tweeted an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un at the DMZ, inviting him to a handshake and to say hello. But while the president is overseas, he's also keeping tabs on the Democratic debates here at home, commenting on the recent rift between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was given too much credit. He didn't do well certainly and maybe the facts weren't necessarily on his side. I think she was given too much credit for what she did. It wasn't that outstanding and I think probably he was hit harder than he should have been hit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining me now, columnist for "The Washington Post," Max Boot. He just wrote this piece, "It's the party of no ideas vs. the party of bad ones." He's also the author of, "The Corrosion of Conservatism." Also joining me, Salena Zito, the national political reporter for the "Washington Examiner." She's the author of, "The Great Revolt." Max, I'll start with you. Of what political significance are these events overseas, like meeting Chairman Kim, on the debate we're having at home as to the 2020 campaign?
MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I don't think it's going to have a huge impact, Michael, because there's really, sadly, very little new about what President Trump is doing overseas, which is that he is gushing over dictators and kicking our allies in the shins.
I mean, it's disgusting to see him describe Vladimir Putin as a great guy, a good guy, saying that Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is doing a spectacular job. This is the crown prince who's responsible for dismembering one of my colleagues at "The Washington Post." Or now gushing over what a great wall there is at the DMZ separating communist North Korea from free South Korea.
And sadly, however, this is something we've gotten used to and it's kind of baked into the cake. I think most voters who dislike Trump understand that he's going to continue acting this way and this shows them why they dislike him so much, but for the Trump faithful, this is not going to shake their faith in any way. So I don't think it's going to have much impact domestically, but it's certainly pretty pathetic that this is the president of the United States acting like this and failing to represent the values that the United States is supposed to stand for. SMERCONISH: Salena, you are the Trump Whisperer among the forgotten that you have written so effectively about when they see the image of the two of them together, he and Putin or the president having breakfast with MBS and MBS believed to have played the direct role in the killing of Khashoggi. How do these events play, if at all, with those folks who have been Trump supporters in the past?
SALENA ZITO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I completely agree with Max in that I don't think it impacts their image and, more importantly, their support of him. Just as people that don't like him, it just sort of reinforces the things that they believe are wrong about his presidency.
What I think is interesting right now in the sort of current political climate and what we're kind of not talking about is after watching, you know, the debates, we see a lot of Democrats who were -- you know, that sort of aren't part of the faculty lounge or, you know, not happy with what they saw in the -- in the debate. Very similar to Republicans who weren't happy what they saw with the Republican Party in 2016 after debates started rolling and Trump sort of sucked up all of the oxygen.
So it's a very interesting place that we are right now. A lot of people feel left out by both of their parties.
SMERCONISH: Despite the fact, Salena, that they had 20 different choices ...
SMERCONISH: ... on two different nights?
ZITO: Yes. Absolutely. So Labor people that I talk to you, not just in my home state of Pennsylvania, but also Ohio and Michigan, people that did not vote for Trump, and I'm not saying that they will vote for him in 2016. They never -- they did not say that.
[09:30:00] But they watched those two debates in a row and with the exception of 17 seconds by Inslee, there was no mention of the union worker by all 20 of those possible candidates. And that was very stunning to them because union workers are often used as sort of, you know, a backdrop when a candidate comes to town, right? They're on the stage. They use them and run to them for cover.
But, you know, they didn't say, hey, we have your back on this. Or, you know, these things are important to -- you are important to us, there was no mention of that. And I think what we tend to miss is these voters might not vote for Trump in 2020.
They may just sit it out. And that is -- can be beneficial to --
SMERCONISH: Well, let me --
ZITO: To -- yes, go ahead.
SMERCONISH: Let me ask Max about his recent piece for "The Washington Post" which I thought was compelling.
Max, you say you're worried that Democrats are moving left at a dizzying pace in what you've seen thus far. Give me an example of what you're referencing?
BOOT: Well, Michael, you saw in the debates over two nights where pretty much all of the Democratic candidates agreed that immigration -- illegal immigration of this country should be decriminalized. They all agreed that undocumented immigrants should receive free health care.
You had several of the leading contenders including Warren, Sanders and Harris agree that private insurance -- health insurance should be abolished in favor of Medicare for all. This is private health insurance which provides coverage to 49 percent of all Americans and that most people are pretty happy with.
So, you know, Donald Trump wants to run in 2020 by assailing the Democrats as being open border socialists. Now I think that's a caricature but unfortunately I think what you saw is that a lot of the Democratic candidates are playing into Trump's hands. They're making it very easy for him.
There are certainly more moderate candidates like Biden and Buttigieg and, of course, some of the more minor candidates like Michael Bennet or Hickenlooper. But it's clear that kind of the energy of the party is coming from the progressive wing. That's -- you know, there's a reason for that because all these candidates are courting progressive primary voters but they need to be very careful not to put themselves out on the left wing limb (ph) here (ph) that will be sought off by Donald Trump in the fall of 2020.
SMERCONISH: I'm trying to get at that with my survey question of the day today, you know, here's Joe Biden having reversed himself on the Hyde Amendment. I think to the detriment in general with some of the folks that Salena writes so often about, and that, Max, you've written about in this "Washington Post" piece and now he's under pressure to apologize for what is, I think, a pretty complicated record relative to busing.
So I think both of you have your fingers on -- on a really important issue. I thank you so much for being here.
Let us check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have coming in, Katherine (ph)? This is from Twitter.
Smerconish, we as Democrats are not listening to the center of the country. They need to listen, not talk. People want better paying jobs. And they don't care about green or not.
"We as Democrats are not listening to the center of the country." John, that is exactly what Salena was saying that -- that she heard no reference maybe with one exemption from Governor Inslee to unions households in the first two debates. And that's she's interviewing people who don't find that any of the 20 are speaking of her constituency. And then I recommend Max's piece in "The Washington Post" where he cites all of these examples where Democratic candidates are saying things that play well in primary and caucus season but could be a death knell in a general election. I get your point is what I'm trying to say.
Please answer the survey question at my Web site. Does Joe Biden owe any apology for his past position on busing? I hope you heard my opening commentary on that.
Still to come, he was marketed as a solid conservative Supreme Court pick but is Chief Justice John Roberts now becoming the swing vote on the nation's highest court?
And later, the 2020 Democratic candidates pitch themselves on the debate stage to voters. Many also pitch themselves as bilingual providing fodder for the late night comedians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "LATE SHOW": It is an Espanol-off -- or as they say in Spanish, grupo de idiotas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: In the aftermath of the first of the two Democratic debates thus far the biggest talking point wasn't climate change or health care or the economy. It was talking in Espanol.
Beto O'Rourke started it. Cory Booker and Julian Castro felt much obliged to match it.
Late night hosts and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all had a field day with the language skills on display. The most viral meme was this snapshot of candidates Booker and Warren reacting to O'Rourke's Spanish answer. Was it a savvy ploy to acknowledge the widening tent of the electorate or some quickly charge a pathetic pandering?
Joining me Enrique Acevedo, anchor and special correspondent for "Univision." Enrique, how did you see it?
ENRIQUE ACEVEDO, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Well, I'm glad, I'm happy that Spanish is being used and celebrated in these political debates. I just think that whether you do it in English or in Spanish, you have to answer the question. And that didn't happen in most cases.
So it's not just about language with Hispanics. Yes, Spanish is an American language, we should celebrate that. But it's about the substance, right? It's about answering the questions and setting your ideas to the fastest -- the fastest growing voting bloc in the electorate in the 2020 election.
SMERCONISH: It's interesting when you look at some of the polling data on this subject. When you ask all Americans what they make of it, 42 percent saw it as pandering. That's all U.S. adults. And I don't know if you can see the screen but Democrats and Republicans see things differently.
When you ask Democrats that number, you know, 47 percent of Democrats think it is respectful. Among Hispanics, and I know that it's hard to judge and to paint with a broad brush, but do you think this is effective in the Hispanic community or not?
ACEVEDO: Well, let's call it Hispandering then. And I would say it gets you through the door, but I don't know if it gets you people's votes. I think -- again, you got to go and sell them ideas and substance. You know, just by saying buenos tardes. Gracias por invitarme. Yes, you know, people might say welcome to my home but that doesn't mean they're going to vote for you. That doesn't even mean they're going to come out and vote in the numbers that Democrats need Latinos to do in 2020.
So, you know, I think it's more sophisticated than just language. I think we've learned that two-thirds of the Hispanic electorate is U.S.-born that means they're English dominant. They care about issues like immigration, of course, because it's personal, it's about identity.
But they care more about jobs, the economy, education, health care, foreign policy, national security. So, let's hope that Democrats understand this and spend enough money, resources, time to get this part of the electorate excited about the election.
SMERCONISH: Right. And also, I'm glad you cleared up that misnomer in terms of two-thirds of Hispanic more on being U.S.-born. Also, you know, to pass the citizenship test you've got to exhibit some proficiency with regard to English. My point being it's not necessary and there are some who seek to use this incorrectly to portray Democrats as trying to reach people who -- quote -- unquote -- "shouldn't be voting." None of that is true.
ACEVEDO: None of that is true. I think, you know, Immigrants, of course, part of their assimilation is learning the language. Learning English.
I'm an immigrant from Mexico. My English sometimes it's a little rough. You can hear that in my accent.
But it's an important part of my assimilation to the United States. But it's not the only part. I think, it's more about principles, values, sharing those -- sharing ideas from both cultures. Feeding off each other's cultures and I think that's what we should be looking at when we speak about immigration and how it adds value to our diversity. And we -- we saw that diversity play out on the stage, not just in terms of points of view or generations, but also race and gender.
SMERCONISH: Muchas gracias.
ACEVEDO: Muchas gracias.
SMERCONISH: Thank you for being here. I appreciate it very much.
Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. From Twitter we've got this.
Smerconish, the Dem candidates speaking Spanish was nothing else than pandering and I find it very annoying.
By the way, I have to step out of this and parenthetically say I notice your name is Anderson so I'm presuming you're not Hispanic. But, OK, I'll keep reading.
The Democratic candidates speaking Spanish nothing else than pandering. I find it annoying. Do they think Hispanics are so shallow as to vote for someone just because they speak the language, so stupid.
Right. Is it -- is it -- is it Hispandering as my guest was saying or is it a sign of respect in trying to reach an audience that otherwise you might not be able to do? Interesting that the demographics when you poll that are entirely dependent on who you're asking. Democrats more receptive of it than Republicans. Hispanics not taking it largely as a sign of disrespect.
Still to come, he was appointed by a Republican president but Chief Justice Roberts appears to be more of a swing vote than a solid conservative voice on the bench.
SMERCONISH: Has Chief Justice John Roberts become the new swing vote in the post-Anthony Kennedy Supreme Court? This week Roberts sided by liberals in one big case, conservatives in another. Writing opinions for both. In denying the Trump administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the census Roberts joined the liberal justices in a 5-4 ruling. And in the court's 5-4 decision not to rule on two gerrymandering cases, Roberts sided with the conservatives.
So what does this say about John Roberts and the reconstituted Court? Joining me now is Joan Biskupic, author of the biography "The Chief: The Life And Turbulent Times Of Chief Justice Roberts" and this new piece at CNN.com, "Chief Justice John Roberts is exercising the power he's craved." So, Joan, is he the new Anthony Kennedy?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: No, but he is the new swing vote, Michael. Ever since Justice Kennedy retired a year ago this week it put John Roberts at the median ideologically. So he was always going to be the swing vote. The question is what kind of a swing vote would he be? What kind of a middle player would he be? It's so unusual to have the man who is the chief justice of the United States, only the 17th chief justice in our history, also have the power of being at the center.
So, I'll answer your -- the question that you posed to viewers at the outset, is John Roberts the new swing vote? Yes. But is he like Anthony Kennedy? No.
SMERCONISH: What I know from reading and enjoying your book is this tension that he faces. You -- you argue that he's the same guy he's ever been. He's the same in terms of his judicial philosophy, as when he was a young lawyer in the Reagan administration.
But now with this awesome responsibility of being the chief justice, he views his role additionally as being a protector of the court. Will you speak to that issue?
BISKUPIC: Sure. And that's why I say he's no Anthony Kennedy. Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O'Connor before him, and even Lewis Powell before those two, they were swing votes in a different mode. It had to do, almost entirely, with their jurisprudence. Whereas, with the chief justice, he's got this extra weight of wanting to protect the integrity of the judiciary, especially in these volatile times.
Just think of how he started this annual session which begins back in the fall, you know, by reminding everyone that the third branch is different. People aren't elected. They're appointed.
And then he had that rebuke of President Trump saying there are no Obama judges, there are no Trump judges. We're all just neutrally trying to apply the law. So he's trying to send out a signal about judging that he wanted -- I believe he wants to fulfill.
So -- and that goes to his role as chief. So, he's a little bit harder to predict in some of these cases. As the man in the middle -- than Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy might have been.
And let's just do a thought experiment to compare the chief to Anthony Kennedy. Anthony Kennedy had wanted to keep the door open to partisan gerrymanders, but John Roberts cast the fifth vote last week -- this week to just shut the door completely to partisan gerrymanders, so that case might have gone differently if Anthony Kennedy was still at the middle, and then similarly with the census question and whether citizenship could be asked, I just wonder if Anthony Kennedy would have come up with the same grounds and acted in the same manner that the chief did in this one that was so closely watched and viewed through a highly partisan lens.
SMERCONISH: Can I just make one quick observation before we have to wrap?
BISKUPIC: Sure. SMERCONISH: The census issue might not be over, right? I mean, it's entirely possible now that they can take the result as crafted by Roberts and come back to the court with something that they couldn't deny? Quick thought from you.
BISKUPIC: That's exactly right because John Roberts said that under, you know, Administrative Procedures Act, under Enumeration Clause, constitutional grounds, the administration has this authority. It's just that it lie -- he didn't use the word lie, but he essentially did. It's just that it lied about the sole reason for wanting to do this, and he's giving the administration another chance to justify adding that citizenship question.
SMERCONISH: People should read your book and make sure they get to the acknowledgments and learn about the unique clip files system that allowed you to recall. I'm not going to give it all away, but that was my favorite part. Anyway, thank you for being here.
BISKUPIC: Oh, thanks, Michael. Bye.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and, oh, final results of the survey question. How is this going to turn out? Go to Smerconish.com right now.
Does Joe Biden owe any apology for his past position on busing?
SMERCONISH: Time for survey result at Smerconish.com.
Does Joe Biden owe an apology for his past position on busing? Survey says -- whoa, look at that voting, 10,127 the nos have it, 86 percent.
I'm not surprised. I never got to it in my questioning of the professor, but the polling data suggests that Biden was then and is now representative of a majority of the country, which you might not know from the media coverage this week.
Katherine (ph), what do we have? Social media reaction?
I think Harris is the beginning of the end for Joe. Joe is not made for the sound bite era.
You know, John, I said on my radio show those 60 second give and take that Aaron Sorkin style debate is probably not what comes naturally to him. One more if I've got time.
Smerconish, you are annoying. The president disrespects the White House every day and you take an issue with a soccer player.
Hey, Shawn, he may disrespect the White House every day in your view, but it's not a license for the rest of us to do likewise.
You can catch up with us anytime at CNNgo and On Demand. Got a little tongue tied. See you in two weeks.