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INSIDE POLITICS

Buttigieg Second Quarter Fundraising; Sanders Campaign Fundraising on Instagram; Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters; U.S. may settle for nuclear freeze for North Korea. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


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[12:00:20] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS." I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. John King is off.

The day after the president returns from a historic trip to DMZ, the Trump administration is pushing back against reports that it's considering a possible deal it would accept -- that would accept North Korea as a nuclear power. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus so far are split on who they've endorsed for president. Senator Kamala Harris or former Vice President Joe Biden.

And Mayor Pete Buttigieg first out of the gate with his second quarter fundraising numbers, hoping to make a big splash and send a message that he's a serious presidential contender. But he's still got a day job as mayor of South Bend, where he's facing criticism this morning from members of the African-American community over a police shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, we're also going to say some things that may be a little -- thank you very much -- provocative. We're not here to bash anybody. Never once did he say I repent. And we know that repentance will come and then renewal will follow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: We begin the hour with today's big number, $24 million, and its meaning, that Pete Buttigieg is more than a one-month wonder. Buttigieg went from 0 percent and virtually unknown to nationally recognized. Today we have evidence that new name recognition is paying off big at the bank.

Buttigieg's campaign says it's raised $24 million in the second quarter. We don't know right now how much the other candidates have raised, but $24 million is more than any other candidate raised in the first quarter. The fundraising haul from nearly 300,000 donors shows deep support. And the money the campaign has on hand, some $22 million, shows Buttigieg is prepared to carry his message deep into the fall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country have helped us raise over $20 million this quarter, from holding grassroots fundraisers, to spreading the word about our campaign. You've inspired us every step of the way and we're just getting started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Here with me to share their reporting and their insights, we've got CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Julie Pace with "The Associated Press," Heather Caygle with "Politico" and Seung Min Kim from "The Washington Post," fresh off of a plane from (INAUDIBLE) and we appreciate you for being here.

Thank you all.

Jeff, I'm going to start with you on this big, big number, $24 million. I think everyone knew Pete Buttigieg was a master at fundraising and he would likely have a big fundraising number, but $24 million, my goodness.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's real money.

HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: It's a lot of real money. And the reality is, most of the candidates combined, with the exception of the top two, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, maybe one other, will not hit that altogether. So that is how significant it is.

HENDERSON: Yes. Wow.

ZELENY: As Julie and I were just talking about, it is Barack Obama kind of money as well.

I was going back to look at the 2007 figures from 12 years ago at this period and Barack Obama raised $25 million in his first quarter, but he started right in January. So this is basically the equivalent.

And he's doing that -- Pete Buttigieg is doing that through a combination of small dollars, you know, people sending in $5, $10, $20 --

HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: And the big money. That is the important part. He's raised so much at big events in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, Chicago, New York. So that's the combination there. The average, I think, is $47. But I think the question here is, is he going to start spending this money because --

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Yes.

HENDERSON: Yes. And where does he spending it because --

ZELENY: He is far behind in terms of organizing. HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: He does not have a South Carolina teams. So -- but it's a good problem to have. Now he has the money to put it to use.

HENDERSON: And he's clearly -- people are taking notice. The Biden campaign already responding --

ZELENY: Right.

HENDERSON: And they say that they -- this e-mail says they blew our fundraising goal out of the water for their first quarter in the race, but they did not disclose their final numbers. We'll wait on those.

Julie.

PACE: Well, Jeff and I, again, had the same reaction, which is, this was Barack Obama style money. And the reason that was important is back in 2007, in the early days of that -- of that primary, when Hillary Clinton was seen as the frontrunner, it was the money that solidified Obama as a contender. And, you know, polls are, at this point, really aren't a great metric. Just kind of general energy that you might be seeing on social media isn't a great metric. Money is one of the few really tangible things. And Pete Buttigieg can now go out to more donors, to voters and say, hey, I have staying power.

HENDERSON: Yes.

[12:05:02] PACE: I am going to be around through the summer. I'm going to be around into the fall. You can take a chance on me, right? I'm not -- I'm not just going to be the -- the -- the sort of boomlet of the -- of the summer.

HENDERSON: Sort of fly-by-night candidate. Yes.

PACE: But, you know, to Jeff's point, he has not spent a lot of money. That cash on hand number, while it's impressive, means that he hasn't actually built out an operation. His challenge right now is to harness the interest, the energy and now the money around his -- his -- his candidacy into a real campaign.

HENDERSON: Yes, and if you look from this first quarter, the comparisons here, Sanders, of course, a master of fundraising, $18.2 million, Harris, $12 million. Don't know what her numbers are going to be going forward. O'Rourke did really well, $9.4 million, and Buttigieg, last go around, $7 million.

We keep talking about this being Obama money. In some ways it literally is sort of from Obama bundlers and people who liked Obama. And this is from a "Wall Street Journal" story, a half dozen former top fundraisers for President Obama decided in March to work as a group to help elect Mayor -- Mr. Buttigieg. Tod Sedgwick, former ambassador to the Slovak Republic, said he founding it easy, like with Obama, to fill an event with about 150 people at his home in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood. This is good news for Pete Buttigieg. Who is it bad news for, right? Who are you -- you know, when you think about all of the other candidates in this race, people like Warren, people like Beto O'Rourke, who was also making sort of the generational argument. Who should be sort of worried about these numbers?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I would think that the one person we should watch for is Beto O'Rourke because he did do a very respectable job in the first quarter, but he does -- I mean they're both trying to take that mantle of that generational change candidate. So does Pete Buttigieg take sort of the thunder of Beto O'Rourke? And we'll see in the coming days once he releases those numbers.

I'm actually really curious about Elizabeth Warren's numbers. She raised about $6 million in the first quarter. It was fine, but her surge in the polls and just how her message of being like the -- I'm the one with plans and I've got a plan for everything really took off in the second quarter. So do her fundraising numbers reflect that? She also had a pretty high burn rate because she has a lot of staff on the ground.

PACE: Yes.

HENDERSON: Yes, she really does.

KIM: So does that -- I mean she's getting a lot of great attention. She, obviously, is getting a lot of grassroots support. But are there resources there to keep up all -- the, you know, 140, 160 people on the ground in all these states?

HENDERSON: Yes.

KIM: That's something we should watch.

HENDERSON: And, Heather, what does it mean if you're Joe Biden that a lot of these former Obama bundlers and folks who raised money for him are now looking attribute Buttigieg?

HEATHER CAYGLE: It means they want a fresh face, right?

HENDERSON: Yes.

CAYGLE: And you should be a little worried, I think. I mean Buttigieg made a point of coming out first and he's saying, I am a frontrunner too. Show me what you got, everybody else, you know what I mean.

And the interesting thing that I want to point out too is, this caps a really good week for him. He wasn't the breakout star of the debate. That was Kamala Harris. But he did answer those questions about the killing of the African-American man by a white police officer back home. He received pretty well reviews for how he handled that. He, you know, answered for his shortcomings. And that's something that we've seen Biden hasn't really been able to do. He doesn't really apologize. He gets defensive. And so that's another interesting thing. These numbers really cap a pretty strong week for Buttigieg.

HENDERSON: Yes, he was at a prayer event today and part of that came up.

Bernie Sanders, the sort of former king of fundraising, this is what he had to say on Instagram, sort of a weird Instagram post. We'll play -- we'll put it on the screen there. And it's sort of a mash-up of something that happened with Trump and the caption there is, want to really scare Trump? Help us show the strength of our campaign to defeat him. Chip in before our fundraising deadline at midnight at the link in bio.

Oh, that was weird.

ZELENY: It was weird.

HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: Look, I mean, I think Bernie Sanders, he's always had money to sort of pour in, but he never really had the competition. Now he does have competition. And there's no question about it, Elizabeth Warren is on his heels. She may be eclipsing him. Probably not in fundraising at this point, but Bernie Sanders' number and Elizabeth Warren's number are going to be fascinating to see because they both raise money the same way. They don't have big fundraisers now, they just sort of accept it over the transom here. So we'll see if Bernie Sanders is remaining as popular. I think it will be hard for him to match his first quarter number.

HENDERSON: This -- yes.

ZELENY: And if this is a decline for him, you know, that's going to continue the narrative.

But back to the Biden thing for one second. I was talking to some Democratic donors this morning who say that his poor performance in the debate is going to potentially freeze his fundraising. And donors now on the outside are going to sit back and watch how he does. So that is not good news for Joe Biden. Yes, he probably raised as much or maybe a little bit more than Buttigieg in this quarter. That was all preplanned money.

HENDERSON: Yes.

ZELENY: How much of it is coming in organically, I don't think much (ph).

HENDERSON: You feel like he has to beat him with this 24 (INAUDIBLE) --

PACE: I think -- I think with Biden -- Biden's in a tough spot --

ZELENY: Right.

PACE: Because his whole campaign is built around the idea --

HENDERSON: That he's the most electable.

PACE: I am the most electable. HENDERSON: Inevitability.

PACE: So look at the polls.

HENDERSON: Yes.

PACE: Look at my money. Look at my performances in the debates. Look at my crowds. Look at my -- look at my support. Anything that chips away at that is going to be damaging to him. He has almost no room for error over the next couple of months, and that is a really difficult position to be in as a candidate, especially in a field that is this crowded with as many talented candidates as we have.

[12:10:07] HENDERSON: And what's your, Seung Min, if sort of if you're Buttigieg, where do you see your opening in terms of sort of a path? Are you -- do you want to invest in Iowa? Do you feel like maybe that's, you know, fertile ground for some other candidate? I mean what's your sense of what Buttigieg should do with this big haul of money?

PACE: Well, I think that's what -- the problem right now for him, that he's trying to figure that out and he had -- that's why he hasn't spent all that money. I mean you look at perhaps where people haven't built up ground operations yet too much. But, I mean, I -- again, have to look at Iowa first, but that's clearly a problem that they're trying to figure out right now.

HENDERSON: Yes. And, obviously, Heather, struggled with African- American voters. In some ways he was able to turn a corner. You mentioned this in the debate. But, still, if you're Biden, you feel pretty good that you're sitting on, by the last polls, like 50 percent of African-American voters backing Biden. Who is sort of in your sense the voter that Buttigieg should be going after and can really make some inroads with this kind of money?

CAYGLE: Well, I think he is trying to figure out how to win over African-American voters --

HENDERSON: Yes.

CAYGLE: Especially younger African-Americans who don't have the loyalty to Biden that a lot of older African-American voters do, who saw him serve under Barack Obama and have a lot of reverence for that. Obviously he's still struggling. We saw the backlash that Buttigieg had at home with, you know, the town hall after the fallout from the shooting. But what we've seen with these numbers, I think, is that maybe national voters, it didn't impact their view of him as much.

HENDERSON: And, in some ways, the poll numbers, he's at, what, like -- some numbers he's like at 7 percent, 5 percent. I think he was doing a little better in Iowa.

In terms of other candidates, we talked a little bit about Beto. What does this mean for Beto? He had that terrible debate where Castro really went after him. He seemed to be nervous at times.

ZELENY: Oh --

HENDERSON: You know, right now -- sorry -- right now we want to show you live pictures out of Hong Kong, where police are firing tear gas.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live from Hong Kong. He's there in the middle of it all.

Nic, tell us what you're seeing.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I've been at the middle of the protesters since they were about two or three minutes ago. You could see indecision on the face of the protesters. They knew the police were coming. They could hear that the police were coming through the government buildings, through the legislative council buildings and they were gathered in this area down out here. And then -- and then there were waves after waves after waves of tear gas coming in and the crowds moved off (ph).

But I'm just going to try, with Christian, my cameraman here, we're going to pan around. And what you can see is a phalanx of police officers here advancing through the Parkland where the protesters were, clearing this area out. They fired tear gas before they came in. The protesters streamed away with their hands raised high. The protesters left the area peacefully, without a confrontation with the police, with their hands in the air walking away. Many of them just young teenagers. I saw girlfriends and boyfriends hand in hand standing there wondering what to do. But they have moved away.

And now this has entered a new dynamic. Now, for the first time today, the police are on the offensive. A massive use of tear gas that we've seen at several locations at the same time. The police are clearing this area around the government building.

Now, they may come here. We may have to move. But at the moment, I'm counting perhaps in this group of police officers here 50 or 60 police officers marching into the park area. And I can see tear gas pouring out from canisters that have been fired from in front of them.

The police, you can tell here, by the way, because they all have these red lights on the backs of their helmets. But the police walking through this area now, clearing out -- clearing out the protesters. It's not clear what they're going to do next. But they're forming a line here. Forming a line. These officers have orange lights on the backs of their helmets. The other ones had the red lights on the backs of their helmets. But the police here clearly organized to clear out the protesters who've walked away.

We've seen this protest all day. The protesters finally breaking down the doors of the government building, getting into the legislative chamber, and now the police are on the front foot (ph). The protesters have -- the protesters have fled the area and now the police are regaining control.

HENDERSON: Nic, thank you for that reporting. We'll continue to follow this story from Hong Kong.

We're going to take a break and we'll be right back.

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[12:19:20] HENDERSON: We want to return now to those protests in Hong Kong, where police have fired tear gas on protesters.

CNN's Matt Rivers joins me live.

Matt, tell us what you're seeing and tell us what you're hearing as well from these protesters.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Nia, the first thing I'm seeing right now is the police raising a banner that they usually do. You won't be able to see it -- you won't be able to see it because it's all the way over there. The police line is probably about 100 meters back from where I am right now. And what they do before they fire tear gas is they put up a big sign, it says, warning, tear (INAUDIBLE) coming.

I've got to move a little bit because they just fired -- they just fired some tear gas. We need to move back. (INAUDIBLE). This is all part of what's been going on in Hong Kong today.

[12:20:11] Can you see the tear smoke (INAUDIBLE)? This has been going on all day in Hong Kong, but it only got this violent just right about now. This was after protesters made their way into what's called the legislative council building. That would be like the protesters made their way into the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and actually occupied that chamber for a slight amount of time. That's where we just came out of. And you can see right there, there's police with full riot gear on having just shot tear gas. They're moving in.

This has been part of weeks' worth of protests here in Hong Kong. Today there was a march. Hundreds of thousands of people were out in the streets. And after two weeks ago, there was 2 million people in the streets and it was very calm, very peaceful. And now it seems decidedly less so. You can see all the riot police.

Let's move back a little bit, Justin, so we can get out of the way just in case things get violent again.

This is one of the main areas of Hong Kong. This is a -- this would be like Fifth Avenue in New York City. A city of 7 million people that has been undergoing massive protests because of a certain extradition law. Basically people are upset about a law that the Hong Kong government passed that would allow -- or tried to pass that would allow Hong Kong to extradite suspects to mainland China. People thought that that would give China the ability to extradite people that it doesn't like, political dissidents, democracy activists, human rights activists, and so that sparked these protests about a month ago. And ever since then, once every week, once every week and a half, you've had these massive protests in which the city has turned out in a major way.

Tonight, however, I think it's safe to say they've gotten more violent than they have so far. And you can see, if you pan to the right there, Justin, you can see all the people in the street. This would be an eight-lane highway usually and now all the protesters are out in the street. So this is something that the United States is certainly paying attention to. Hong Kong has always been something that the United States generally has supported because there are democratic- style freedoms here that don't exist in the mainland. But the events here obviously are quite intense this evening here in Hong Kong, Nia.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Matt.

I'm going to turn to Kirby here.

You see the images here. I'm not quite sure yet if we've gotten any sort of reaction from the White House. This is a story that's, obviously, still unfolding. What do you make of what's going on here? A lot of the protesters there obviously upset about this extradition bill.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right.

HENDERSON: They want to see the chief executive there, Carrie Lam, out of office and resign.

KIRBY: I think it's important to keep this protest, even though it has turns somewhat violent, in context. It is about this extradition law and about the chief executive. It's not necessarily about, you know, overthrowing, you know, China's -- or Xi's influence or overall democracy.

That said, I think it's pretty clear that Xi is going to have to now start taking this a lot more seriously. He has kept himself at distance from this. And I think, after today's events, he's going to be asking himself how much longer can he stay away from this and how does he react? Does he overreact and cause this to go even more violent?

The other thing is, and you mentioned this, I am a little concerned that we haven't seen the White House react to this at all. Even before today. You would think that they would want to say something about democratic rule and about the rights of the citizens living there in Hong Kong.

HENDERSON: We'll continue to watch this story. You see the images there now. Tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong out on the streets. Tear gas being fired by police.

Up next, President Trump says he scored a massive geopolitical victory this weekend on the Korean peninsula, but his critics don't necessarily agree.

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[12:28:35] HENDERSON: President Trump is back in Washington today after a historic trip to Asia touting his, quote, very successful trip to the G-20 Summit. The president says good things can happen for all after his surprise trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone where a meeting with Kim Jong-un may have led to a potential major policy reversal from the Trump administration. "The New York Times" is reporting that, quote, for weeks a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations. The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

President Trump was quick to get out in front of criticism while still in the DMZ, saying nobody's rushing into anything here.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not looking for speed. We're looking to get it right. And, in the meantime, there's been no nuclear tests. There's been no ballistic missiles. There's been a lot of good will. And there continues to be. Maybe if anything, better. I think probably after today better than it was even before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: CNN's Kaitlin Collins joins me live from the White House.

Kaitlan, what is the White House saying about this "New York Times" story about a possible shift in terms of their approach to North Korea?

[12:30:02] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially they're saying that thanks to the president's impromptu summit, these talks that were largely stalled have restarted. But, of course.

END