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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden Expresses Skepticism Of Democrats' Leftward Tilt; Biden: My Health Plan "Rational" & Costs Less Than Medicare For All; Biden It Helps Democrats To Have A Woman On 2020 Ticket; Multiple Aftershocks Swarm Southern California Town; Trump Defend Migrant Facilities, Despite Unsanitary Conditions; Quake Temporarily Shuts Down Regional Hospital; ER Remains Open; Kevin Spacey Accuser Drops Civil Suit; Criminal Case Continues. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 5, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


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[14:32:12] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Time to dig a little deeper on an exclusive CNN interview with former Vice President Joe Biden. Arlette Saenz is a CNN Political Reporter who's been covering the Biden campaign for us and Matt Viser is a National Political Reporter for The Washington Post. So great to have both of you on.

And Matt, let me set this up. Here's my question for you, because the Vice President made it super clear that he's not chasing the left. You heard him note that while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have won the primary that mainstream Democrats won the general elections in the midterms. He also said that the vast majority of Democrats are where he is on all of those key issues.

When we look at this poll, this Gallup poll, taken right after the midterms, it shows that 54 percent of Democrats and Democrat leaning independence would rather see the party become more moderate and that's compared to the 31 percent who say they want it more liberal. So Matt, those numbers do seem to back up Joe Biden.

MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And I think you're seeing him put forward a more forceful case for centrism in this interview than he did certainly on the debate stage. We had expected the debate to be a showcase of Biden and Bernie Sanders sort of articulating different visions ideologically for the party and it didn't turn out so much that way in part because of Kamala Harris and her own line of attack.

But I think Joe Biden and his campaign is increasingly making that case on matters of health care or immigration, two key issues, that he's putting forward a more centrist vision and one that they argue has a better chance of defeating Donald Trump in the general election.

BALDWIN: There was also something else, Arlette, that Biden talked a lot about in our exclusive interview that being Barack Obama. And you're out on the trail, I'm curious how much that resonates, how are voters responding to that, because you could see it as a double edged sword, one for older folks and I mean older as in pulled the lever voting for Obama-Biden or the younger voters who just don't have that emotional connection.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, Brooke, on the campaign trail when Biden brings up President Obama in his events, oftentimes that is one of the loudest applause lines. And as you talk to people as they're leaving those Biden events, they're all pointing back to his experience and his ability to work with President Obama.

And I remember being down in South Carolina just back in May and I was at a farmers' market so it was unaffiliated undecided voters and there was a woman that I spoke to. An African-American woman who said that so many in the black community and the older black community, especially, they base a lot of their votes on people that they know, people have been around for a long time.

And so that Obama connection she argued was very, very important for Joe Biden and Biden is going to be heading down to South Carolina tomorrow and Sunday for a two day swing. And one thing that's going to be really noteworthy to watch is how are these voters responding to that debate interaction that he had last week on the issue of school busing, is this something that's really resonating with them.

[14:35:10] When I was down there just a few weeks ago asking about Biden's work with segregation of senators in the past, a lot of people said, "Hey, we get that. He had to work with these people to get things done." So it's going to be interesting to see whether the school busing issue resonates compared to that segregationist senators' comments from the former Vice President.

BALDWIN: I want to ask about Matt healthcare because Biden says that He has a plan that's rational, that, quote, will cost a hell of a lot less than Medicare for all. But then in the same breath, he said that his plan also allows you to buy into Medicare for all if you want to. So it sounds good to voters on either side of the debate and it seems to allow Biden to avoid being tagged as far left. But does that work?

VISER: I think there's a lot of questions for the former vice president on his health care plan. He has not given a major address or put forward decent policy proposals on health care. We know it's been something that his campaign advisors and he have been talking about. But there's a lot of open questions around that.

I think that the argument that you increasingly hear him put forward is we have to stick with Obamacare and build upon it rather than taking it away and dealing with private insurance companies the way that Bernie Sanders wants to deal with them. He seems to be increasingly eager for that fight. We've heard more of that from him on the campaign trail.

But as far as how he's going to pay for things, he's not yet articulated.

BALDWIN: OK. We wait for that articulation. How about last question to you, Arlette, we heard him say that it would help Democrats to have a woman on the ticket but when he was asked specifically if it would be Kamala Harris who he would select as his running mate, he said he didn't want to be premature or presumptuous noting that he still course doesn't even have the nomination.

I know it's early. I know it's very early. But do you think Senator Harris' debate performance last week actually hurt her chances if, in fact, Biden is the nominee?

SAENZ: I think it's really unclear at this point. Biden has kind of been using that answer for a while, saying that it would be premature to talk about specific people. But what really struck me in that interview when he was talking about his VP of choice was he wasn't ruling out a woman, but he was also saying that he wants to make sure that he find someone that he is simpatico with.

And he was pointing back to his relationship with Barack Obama. And that kind of triggered in my mind as he is suggesting that he would maybe want someone who is also centre left, would that preclude someone like Elizabeth Warren from maybe joining the ticket. I also thought when he mentioned that there's a lot of women across the country who are not running for president who would also be brought up in that conversation. That's something also to keep an eye on.

But as you said, we are very, very early and he still have to secure the nomination before we get anywhere close to a VP pick.

BALDWIN: Arlette and Matt, thank you both so much. And just a reminder to all of you, that was only a portion of the interview. Check out cnn.com to watch the whole thing. Still ahead here on CNN. President Trump now defending the migrant detention facilities despite multiple reports of unsanitary conditions and overcrowding. Plus, that massive earthquake that hit Southern California could deliver power aftershocks for days to come. The damage could cost millions. We'll get a live update from California next.

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[14:43:03] BALDWIN: Just one day after the largest earthquake in 20 years to hit Southern California, people in Ridgecrest, California, the epicenter of that quake, are still feeling the aftershocks. The strongest hit was actually this morning. It was a 5.4. Geological Survey official say aftershocks could last for a couple of weeks and there was a chance one could be a magnitude six or higher.

Yesterday, while I was interviewing the Mayor of Ridgecrest live on the show and a nursing home worker during our breaking news coverage, they were actually experiencing those aftershocks as we were on the phone.

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CAROLYN STORRUSTE, FELT AFTERSHOCK DURING LIVE INTERVIEW ON CNN: It's scary. It's scary. Yes, we're having another one right.

BALDWIN(off-camera): Right now.

STORRUSTE: Yes.

BALDWIN(off-camera): Hang with me. Hang with me, Carolyn. STORRUSTE: I'm a little out of breath, because all I care about at

this moment is my babies or my children. But you're stuck at work and you've got to pull it together and focus on everybody else.

BALDWIN(off-camera): No, take a breath with me. Take a breath and then first - are your kids, OK?

STORRUSTE: All my kids are OK. All accounted for so ...

MAYOR PEGGY BREEDEN, RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA: This would either be our seventh or eighth one we've had. Oh, my goodness, there's another one right now. Oh, my goodness.

BALDWIN(off-camera): Oh, my goodness. Are you OK?

STORRUSTE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN(off-camera): Breathe, just breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was the mayor just there. A mental health crisis hotline has been set up for anyone who needs help and the governor has declared a state of emergency as emergency officials continuing to assess the damage several water and gas lines burst as a result of this quake. Several homes actually caught fire.

I mean, the earthquake's magnitude even cracked some roads. But the miraculous part of all of this, no one died. Only minor injuries have been reported. Damage estimates could be, they're saying, in the millions. And CNN's Alexandra Field is right there in Ridgecrest in front of one of those damaged homes. And Alex, I understand you actually felt one of those aftershocks this morning.

[14:44:58] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You just heard the mayor's voice there, those frayed nerves and we felt it this morning when that big aftershock at 5.4 hit. You jump out of bed, you get to your feet. It's a moment a that induces anxiety and that's the kind of anxiety that people in California frankly live with all of the time.

They're always waiting, always preparing for the big one. They had a 6.4 on Thursday, that is big, but certainly, Brooke, if this area was more densely populated, the feeling is that this could have been a lot worse. What we're seeing near the epicenter right out here at Ridgefield (ph) center are some houses that are knocked off of their foundation. There are some cracks in buildings, some cracks in the road.

You pointed out the fact there were some issues with gas mains and also water mains and there are some damage that stretches in a wider area. People could feel this as far away as Las Vegas and all the way to Orange County. So they are doing the assessment, seeing how many millions of dollars worth of damage could be out there in total, but really what this also did was it underscored the need to be prepared for an event like this.

It test people, it also tests local officials who say they're constantly updating their emergency plans for a scenario like this and this is a good gauge for them to see how well those plants are working. Surveyors are out, taking a look at what structural damage exists out there. We're seeing a lot of patients from people here. Definitely those frayed nerves, but certainly the overwhelming sense that it could have been worse and they're grateful it wasn't.

BALDWIN: Yes. Just hearing the Mayor on the phone with me yesterday trying to tell everyone, "Don't panic. Don't panic." But easier said than done. Alex field in Ridgecrest. Alex, thank you. Coming up next, the man who accused Kevin Spacey of sexual assault at Nantucket bar has dropped his civil lawsuit against the actor. So what happened? We have the details coming out.

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[14:51:00] BALDWIN: We have an update for you today in a sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey. According to a new court filing, the young man who has accused Spacey of sexual assault at Nantucket bar has voluntarily dropped his civil lawsuit against the actor. A lawsuit that was filed just last month.

Spacey still faces a criminal case with a hearing on Monday and CNN's Jean Cararez will be in that courtroom. She is here with me now on this latest twist today and so why did this accuser drop those?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know and the civil attorney is saying, "No comment," because there is the criminal case. But the charges really mirrored each other because the civil case was assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, criminal case and decent assault and battery and it all stems from an alleged incident in July of 2016 on Nantucket Island. This young man who was 18 at the time worked at this restaurant.

Everybody heard that Kevin Spacey was going to come that night. He stayed after hours with a change of clothes. Wanted to meet him so bad. Met him. They really spent the evening together, the latter parts of the evening. And he has a phone and is texting his girlfriend the whole time with texts that I think help the prosecution that he's touching me, he's in appropriately doing things, help several times.

And the defense said there are texts that are missing. We deserve that cell phone. He didn't give you the whole picture, prosecutors. So the judge actually said, "All right. This young man and his family, they've got to turn over the actual phone to the defense." They now say they can't find it.

BALDWIN: Wow.

CASAREZ: They don't know where it is. And so the judges said, if you can't find that cell phone by Monday, July 8, I want the family to be in court and tell me why you can't find it.

BALDWIN: So then what happens for him Monday, Kevin Spacey him?

CASAREZ: We will see, because if that cell phone cannot be found, which the defense alleges have exculpatory texts on it, that could actually help show that it was consensual or the nonexistent that nothing ever happen because there are really no eyewitnesses as to this alleged groping in the restaurant. If it can't be found, can the defendant have a fair trial?

BALDWIN: We'll talk to you Monday from Nantucket.

CASAREZ: OK.

BALDWIN: Jean Casarez, thank you very much. Still ahead here on CNN, inhumane and unsanitary, not true, according to the President. These pictures, they don't lie. Why Trump says the migrant detention facilities are running, his word, beautifully in spite of them.

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[15:00:07] BALDWIN: We continue on, on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.