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CNN RIGHT NOW
Cuomo's Interview with Biden; Biden Wasn't Prepared for Harris; Biden Dares Trump to Walk Behind Him. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired July 5, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Theme of this line of attack if she keeps at it.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She's also --
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: There is -- it's not -- it's not -- it is not subtle at all.
Sorry about that, Margaret. We'll get you next time.
TALEV: Next time.
BASH: Thank you all. Have a great weekend.
Thank you for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts "RIGHT NOW."
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from our Washington headquarters.
Welcome to this special edition of CNN RIGHT NOW.
Underway, President Trump, in the 11th hour, making a last-ditch threat to get a citizenship question on the 2020 census less than an hour before a court deadline demanding to hear the administration's plan. Just a short time ago, the president said he's exploring all options, including issuing an executive order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have four or five ways we can do it. It's one of the ways that we're thinking about doing it very seriously. We're doing well on the census.
We could also add an addition on. So we can start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision. So we're working on a lot of things, including an executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: This is coming as a source tells CNN the president thinks the Justice Department threw in the towel too early after the Supreme Court ruled against including this question on the census last week. The source says the president has made it clear he wants to fight. And the clock is ticking as the DOJ faces a 2:00 p.m. Eastern deadline
to tell a federal judge what it plans to do. But as for now, an official tells CNN, the census will continue to be printed without that citizenship question on it.
And now CNN's exclusive interview with vice president -- former Vice President Joe Biden. The Democratic presidential frontrunner sat down with our own Chris Cuomo and he was pressed on a range of issues, including President Trump's friendship with North Korea, the ongoing trade war with China, whether he thinks he can actually take on President Trump and, of course, that debate moment with Senator Kamala Harris. The issue of busing is where we begin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I was talking with you and Jill. You said you were expecting to have a target on your back. But the intensity of some of it. Did you see the questions about your past positions from the perspective of race being as relevant as they are?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. And I don't think they're relevant because they're taken out of context.
What I didn't see is people who know me. I mean they know me well. It's not like it's somebody who just came out of the blue and didn't know anything. But it's so easy to go back and go back 30, 40, 50 years and take a context and take it completely out of context.
And, I mean, you know, I -- I get all this information about other people's past and what they've done and not done. And, you know, I'm just not going to go there. If we keep doing that, that's -- I mean we should be debating what we do from here.
For example, this whole thing about race and busing. Well, you know, I think if you take a look, our positions aren't any different as we're finding out.
CUOMO: With Senator Harris --
CUOMO: Who said she sees it as a tool, not a must in all circumstances.
BIDEN: Yes. Well, look at my record and --
CUOMO: I don't think busing is about policy, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: No, it's not.
CUOMO: I think it was about principle. When you look back at your record on it, you were not in favor of busing. It was a different time. There were different applications. Why not just own it and say --
BIDEN: Well, by the way, here's the thing, Chris, no -- CUOMO: I was against it but now I've changed.
BIDEN: I was -- I was in favor of busing that was dejure busing. That is, if a court ruled that there was a law passed or circumstance that a county, a city, a state did that prevented black folks from being somewhere, then that's wrong, you should bus. I even went so far in the middle of that busing controversy with saying I'd use helicopters if that was necessary to make the point. And we really got, you know, town meeting that was -- got very hot. But what the issue is now is, for example, and it was then, voluntary busing. We supported it. We supported it then. And, by the way, Barack and I, as president and vice president, we provided money for voluntary busing if cities wanted to do it.
CUOMO: I'm not questioning any of that.
BIDEN: No, no --
CUOMO: I'm saying that when you look back in the '70s, you said, I think busing doesn't work. It's an asinine concept.
BIDEN: Well, by the way --
CUOMO: You tried to pass bills that weren't for it.
BIDEN: Busing did not work. You had overwhelming response from the African-American community in my state. My state is the eighth largest black population in the country as a percent of population. They weren't -- they did not support it. They did not support it.
Look, the question is, how do you equalize education in every area? And I put forward the most -- the most aggressive plan to do that and I've been pushing it for a long time. For example, in, you know, Title I schools, schools that are disadvantaged, we should -- I proposed we go from $15 billion a year to $45 billion a year. We should bring people in and have preschool from three, four, five years old, before kindergarten. We should have -- look, every child out there, every child out there is capable, but they live in circumstances that make it difficult. From the time they get to school they've heard three, four million fewer words spoken. They're at a disadvantage.
[13:05:04] CUOMO: I totally accept all of that.
BIDEN: Well, I -- well, that's number one. But, number two, the idea right now, 65 out of 100 jobs in a study I did for the president point out you need something beyond a high school degree.
CUOMO: That's true.
BIDEN: So what are we doing? We're sitting around here as if it's an insoluble problem.
CUOMO: I'm -- I get it on the policy. I never have viewed the busing back and forth in that debate as about policy or application of how to affect civil rights. It's about consistency and proving if you'll be better than what we're dealing with now in the White House, which is people won't tell the truth about things. If busing didn't work, then it made sense that you weren't for it back then.
BIDEN: But I --
CUOMO: But why say you were for it?
BIDEN: Well, no --
CUOMO: Why not just be straight about it and move on?
BIDEN: OK, because there's three different pieces. I was for voluntary busing. Number one. I was for busing where the courts showed that, in fact, a legislative body took an action preventing black folks from going to a school. That is dejure -- I know you know, dejure segregation. The difficult piece is, this is 50 years ago, people don't understand the context.
The third one is, do you have an administration, through their non- elected officials, the Department of Housing, decide every school should be equally balanced across the board? That's a different issue. And the way to deal with that problem is what I did from the time I was a kid. I got out of -- I got out of law school, came back, had a great job, became a public defender. I fought for putting housing and -- low-income housing in suburbia. I talked about eliminating red line and I talked about school districts should be consolidated in ways that made sense so, in fact --
CUOMO: Why didn't you fight it like this in the debate?
BIDEN: Be -- in 30 seconds?
CUOMO: Hey --
BIDEN: Come on, man.
CUOMO: What happens most in a debate, Mr. Vice President? People blow their time cue.
BIDEN: Well --
CUOMO: You're the only person I've ever seen on a debate stage say I'm out of time.
BIDEN: Well, we've never had a place where you have 30 seconds, man. What I didn't want to do is get in that scrum. Do you think the American public looked at that debate, take me out of it, and thought, boy, I really -- I really like the way that's being conducted. They're really showing themselves to do really well. Come on, man.
CUOMO: But they -- they're going come after you.
BIDEN: Sure they're going come after me.
CUOMO: Were you prepared for them to come after you?
BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at -- she knew Beau. She knows me. I don't -- well, anyway, I -- but here's the deal, what I do know, and this is the good and the bad news. The American people think they know me and they know me. Since that occurred, I had the most sought after endorsement for the mayor of Atlanta, a black woman, who's a great leader, Mayor Bottoms, endorse me. I've had numerous members of the Black Caucus endorse me. I've --
CUOMO: Are you worried about the poll slippage with African-Americans after the debate?
BIDEN: No, no, these -- these folks just came. I'm making the point to you, I don't see it. People know who I am. I don't believe there's anybody out there that believes that I have anything other than a keen and consistent interest in making sure every child has -- these are all our children.
CUOMO: Here's the tough -- here's the question, did you re-watch the debate?
BIDEN: No, I didn't.
CUOMO: Why not?
BIDEN: Well, I didn't have an opportunity to re-watch it. And, besides, you know, my measure is how people react outside, getting on a train, getting on a plane, walking through an airport, walking in a parade, just going to the grocery store. I got no sense, I really mean it, no sense.
CUOMO: Here's the tough question for Democrats. They need a warrior, OK, because not too aggrandize, not to lionize, but this president knows how to fight in the ring one on one. Kamala Harris is friendly fire. Cory Booker is friendly fire. How can Democrats have confidence that you can take on the biggest and the baddest when you're having trouble sparring in party?
BIDEN: I don't think I'm having trouble sparring. It's how you want to spar. Look, I'm the guy at the time everybody talks about things that are changed. I took on same-sex marriage. I took on a whole range of issues. I took on arms control. I took on dealing with Russia with the -- with the arms control agreement. I took on Putin in terms of Iraq -- I mean, excuse me, in terms of what was going on in Ukraine. I've taken on these leaders around the world. I'm the guy that's gone in and met -- I've taken on all these leaders. I -- I mean I -- this is ironic. I've never been accused of being -- not being able to spar. I've been accused of being too aggressive.
CUOMO: But the game has changed.
BIDEN: Well --
CUOMO: And you think that what's happening with Harris is anything compared to what would happened with you and this president?
BIDEN: No, but everybody knows who this guy is. Come on, man. Come on.
CUOMO: How do you beat him? BIDEN: I beat him by just pointing out who I am and who he is and what
we're for and what he's against. This guy is a divider in chief. This guy is acting with racist policies. This guy is moving to foment hate, to split. That's the only way he can sustain himself.
CUOMO: Nothing about him worries you?
BIDEN: Oh, yes, well, sure, it worries me in the sense that I'm looking forward to this, man. You walk behind me in a debate, come here, man. Don't you think I -- you know me too well. I mean I -- the idea that I'd be intimidated by Donald Trump? He's the bully that I knew my whole life. He's the bully that I've always stood up to. He's the bully that used to make fun when I was a kid and stutter and I'd smacked him in the mouth.
[13:10:19] Look, this is not -- but that -- they -- I think the American people want a president who has some dignity, who has a value set, who is actually trying to restore the soul of this country so when they turn on the television they look up and their kids say, I want to be like that guy or that woman.
CUOMO: There are domestic agenda items I want to tick through.
CUOMO: But you have made a big point of saying the threat here with the current administration is abroad.
CUOMO: What exactly bothers you abroad?
BIDEN: What bothers me abroad is, look, the idea that we can go it alone with no alliances for the next 20 or 30 years is a disaster. How are we going to deal with stateless terrorism without doing what I've been able to do with the president, put together coalitions of 50, 60 nations to take it on? I come out of a generation where we were trying to be the policemen of the world. We can't go in every place. We need allies. He is absolutely dissing them. He's embracing thugs. He's embracing Kim Jong-un, who is a thug. He's embracing Putin, who is a -- who is a flat dictator. He's embracing people who, in fact -- and he's stiff-arming our friends. He's threatening NATO, to pull out of NATO. I mean, come on.
CUOMO: He says he's gotten NATO to give in more money for their defense because of his tactics.
BIDEN: Oh, give me a break. Oh, come on, man. And, by the way, the idea that NATO think -- let me put it this way. If he wins re- election, I promise you, there will be no NATO in four years or five years.
CUOMO: You think there will be no more NATO if he's re-elected.
BIDEN: No more NATO. Look, I went to the -- the conference in -- that we have. It's called the Vercunda Conference (ph). It used to be. The first speech stood up, the chancellor, the former chancellor of Germany stands up. She says, we have to go it alone. We can't count on the United States.
Why did we set up NATO, Chris? So no one nation could abuse the power in the region in Europe that would suck us in, in the way they did in World War I and World War II. It's being crushed.
Look at what's happening with Putin. While he -- while Putin is trying to undo our elections, he is undoing elections in -- in Europe. Look what's happened in Hungary. Look what's happened in Poland. Look what's happened in (INAUDIBLE). Look what's happening. You think that would happen on my watch or Barack's watch? You can't answer that, but I promise you it wouldn't have. And it didn't.
CUOMO: So with North Korea, the idea of reaching out, President Obama, Vice President Biden wanted to do more than that. The Republicans used to whack you on the head. You can't be nice to people who are our enemies. Hadn't this president done what you wanted to do by reaching out to Kim?
BIDEN: He did the exact opposite. He gave Kim everything that he wanted, legitimacy. He gave Kim -- he ended our relationship, as a practical matter with South Korea and Japan as a united front and let China off the hook. He put us in a position where we say, by the way, I love the man. I know what he's doing. He hasn't done a thing. He hasn't done a thing, Kim Jong-un. And what have we done? We've suspended exercises.
Look, I come out of the arms control era. Guess what, there's two ways you do this, you work or you defend and you say, hey, man, don't screw with us. You move, this is what's going to happen. This is going to happen.
But, in the meantime, what you do is you deal with your allies and also those who don't -- aren't with you. Do you think China wants any part of North Korea becoming a nuclear power?
CUOMO: So what do you do differently with North Korea and China?
BIDEN: With regard to North Korea -- with China, I make it clear that we're going to move our defenses up, as we did before, and we're going to make sure we have the capacity to deal with it near term. I'm going to let South Korea and Japan know we're there for them. We are their nuclear umbrella. We're there for them. And China, understand, if you don't want us in your throat here, if you don't want us in your face, do something.
CUOMO: Do you stop the trade battle with China? Do you go back to TPP?
BIDEN: By the way, the idea that this trade battle makes any sense, is benefitting anybody, is absolutely ludicrous. And just ask the farmers here or around the world. Their -- I mean around the United States and the manufacturers. It's killing us.
What we should do is we deal with China -- I had a conversation with Xi before I -- Xi Jinping before I left. And he said, well, you know, remember they set up their no-fly zone and -- I said, we're not going to pay attention to it. He said, what do you want me to do, just withdraw it? And I said, no, but just understand, we're just going to fly through. We flew a B-52 through it. We are a Pacific power. We're not going anywhere, understand. And that's the reason why you have security is because we've allowed stability in the region. They get it. But what they're doing now is we're not dealing with China's problem for (ph) us. China's problem is they're stealing intellectual secrets.
[13:15:01] BIDEN: Their cyber security. Deal the same way. You say you've got to invest here in the United States and you want to be able to invest here, and we're -- and you say we want to invest in China but you've got to have a 51 percent owner? No deal, man. Deal for a deal. (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: This administration is fighting that same fight, isn't it?
BIDEN: But they're not. No. They're fighting in trade. Trump thinks it's about trade deficits and trade surpluses. It's not about that.
Look, while he's like tweeting, China is going to own the 5G market. While in fact he -- they're spending billions on artificial intelligence. What are we doing? They're doing a whole lot of things that make no sense for us to stand still.
CUOMO: What would you do differently with North Korea? Would you slam the door on them again?
BIDEN: With North -- yes, I'd make it real clear. Look, you want to talk, you want to deal with us, you want sanctions lifted, show me something ahead of time. Show me.
CUOMO: They haven't tested a bad missile.
BIDEN: They haven't tested -- and the reason why they haven't tested is they have it all done. They're sitting there with missiles that are -- have capacity and nuclear capacity right now. So they're not giving up anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: President Trump responding to that, responding to Chris' interview with former Vice President Joe Biden, calling him a bully. Hear what the president has to say, next.
[13:21:03] KEILAR: Well, you just watched part one of our exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden.
With us now, CNN's senior political analyst Ryan Lizza and "New York Times" reporter Astead Herndon, who is with us.
So he was defending himself on race. He was trying certainly to repair some of the damage that Kamala Harris inflicted during the debate.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I found one of the most interesting moments when he was almost personally offended that Harris brought this up by mentioning her long friendship with Beau Biden. And I know -- I think Kamala Harris has actually talked about that relationship. And he didn't dwell on that for a long time, but he sort of threw it out there. You know, he didn't think she would go there, I'm paraphrasing him, because -- one reason was because she had a relationship with his deceased son, Beau.
KEILAR: Is it like a -- is it a --
LIZZA: And that makes this much more personal than I can remember any primary fight. I mean he's in a huge field of candidates. He's been in politics a long time. He has to know that everything he's ever said or done or voted on is fair game. And so I don't know if this is just political or if he's genuinely offended by this friendship that she and Beau had, and that's why he's surprised.
But, boy, this makes this a much more personal fight than a political fight at this point -- than a policy fight at this point.
KEILAR: He seemed genuinely offended --
LIZZA: He did.
KEILAR: Because he cut himself off.
LIZZA: He did.
KEILAR: I think he realized he was actually saying very much what he felt.
KEILAR: And then he said his -- "anyway," right? That's what he --
LIZZA: And I think it's --
KEILAR: Anyway is sort of what he says when he's editing himself.
LIZZA: And I'd be very curious to see what the Harris campaign says about that because Biden essentially is hinting here, and I'm curious to see what Astead thinks of this, is hinting here at, you know, because of that friendship, maybe this issue is off limits.
KEILAR: Well, Astead, let's listen to that moment. We'll play again what Biden said about being confronted by Kamala Harris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They're going come after you.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sure they're going come after me.
CUOMO: Were you prepared for them to come after you?
BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at -- she knew Beau. She knows me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: It's -- it's -- what did you think? I mean it seems to me that he felt attacked by his son's good friend.
ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that that was a really interesting kind of offhand comment that clearly when you say something like that, that's going to get folks' attention. That, you know, Joe Biden is someone who prizes those personal relationships and we know that Senator Harris has talked about how she respected his son.
But it should not be a surprise that people are coming after his record. I mean Senator Harris was someone who kind of prizes that legion of older black voters that Joe Biden currently has a stranglehold on and so she was using that debate moment to try to go at him directly.
Now, was he surprised at the kind of personal way she did it, invoking her own story, the way the campaign came with t-shirts with her childhood photo on after, maybe that took the campaign by surprise. But certainly the issue should not be a surprise for Biden. He knew that he was going to be the target on that stage.
But I, you know, I think it's important to remember here that Senator Harris has -- has praised the vice president. She started the kind of speech on the debate by saying I respect you, but then she took it to a place that really has Joe Biden on the back foot as someone who thinks of himself as a civil rights advocate, who has been a real aid and public servant to African-American communities. So this strikes at his whole identity and the way he views his political brand.
KEILAR: All right, real quickly, Ryan, did you think this interview -- a one-on-one interview is a better venue for Biden than the debate stage?
LIZZA: I think clearly. Yes. Yes.
LIZZA: Yes. Yes.
KEILAR: And, Astead, what do you think?
HERNDON: One hundred percent.
KEILAR: A hundred percent.
OK. So, and why -- why is that? Is that just that sort of -- his ability to sort of have a one-on-one relation -- he wanted to stay above the fray it seemed like. No one likes what Kamala Harris called a food fight is what he seemed to be saying.
[13:25:04] LIZZA: Well, first, he's got a good rapport with Chris that, you know, they know each other. And he's able -- look, he doesn't have nine other people sniping at him. He has a chance to answer with longer statements.
I thought it was a little strange that he said, you know, he -- oh, you only get 30 seconds to respond. But, I mean, that's the nature of a debate. Everyone knows that. It's not going to be much different when he takes on Trump because, look, there's so many levels of what Harris did here. There's just the pure policy level, was he wrong to oppose federally mandated desegregation via busing back in the '70s? That's one thing. But the other thing, I think maybe even the broader issue is, is he made Biden -- she -- excuse me, she made Biden look unprepared, right? You know --
KEILAR: That's right. And he said -- he even said I wasn't prepared for that, right? I think he was expecting a different kind of attack.
KEILAR: Now, taking on President Trump, to that point, Ryan, one of the things that stood out to me in this was that he raised the specter of physically taking on President Trump. So you'll recall, in that 2016 town hall debate that Donald Trump had with Hillary Clinton, and I think we actually may have a picture of this, that he was standing kind of menacingly behind Hillary Clinton. It became a meme, right? And he actually said here, you know, if Trump were to walk behind me, and the head -- there's the head-on shot, right? He basically said, you know, if Trump were to walk behind me, hinting at that, what did you think, Astead?
HERNDON: Yes, we've seen Vice President Biden do this before, kind of hint at the fact, you know, his brand is kind of a tougher guy and he said, he said I think last year they had a back-and-forth about the kind of physical confrontation again.
I think to the broader point, this is him again trying to play to that electability kind of figurative that he wants to present himself as, as the person who can match Trump on his own turf and best him at that.
What I think, though, is the risk here is that this is a Democratic electorate that while Vice President Biden may have enjoyed that reputation months ago as kind of the only person who can deal with Trump on that plane, I think that is what the debate has changed. To Ryan's point, Senator Harris was able to kind of bring him down to earth and look just like those other candidates. And so I think we see in polling now the kind of -- the question of who can best take on Trump, Senator Warren, Senator Harris are seeing bumps in that -- in that question, and that strikes at the real heart of Vice President Biden's campaign and even in statements like that.
KEILAR: All right, Astead Herndon, thank you so much.
Ryan Lizza, thank you for your analysis. Time is running out and the president is growing frustrated, now threatening an executive order to keep the citizenship question on the census with a court deadline to explain the administration's plans for the census just minutes away now.