Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Former Vice President Joe Biden is Interviewed about His Platform. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 5, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- for all single-payer programs.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say to the people who say, "I think that his ideas are the old ideas"?

[07:00:11] SANDERS: Look, it's center left. That's where I am. Where it's not is way left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a significant earthquake. And we're assessing all the damage now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were actually asleep in our bed, and it -- we woke up to, like, seeing things flying off the walls and just, like, being like tilted like this back and forth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's power outages throughout the city. There's been fires. The hospital had to be evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was worried we were going to have collapsed buildings. I was fearing for the worst.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. John Berman is off today. John Avlon joins me on this post- Fourth of July. Great to have you here.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: It's a big morning, because we have a CNN exclusive interview for you. It is with former Vice President Joe Biden. He doesn't sit down for these very often.

So as the race for the Democratic nomination tightens, Biden is defending his record and laying out his policies.

AVLON: The former vice president also discusses his place in the Democratic field and what he may be looking for in a potential running mate.

Here is part two of Chris Cuomo's exclusive interview with Joe Biden. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: You versus the rest of the field on the economy. They're all going big: 70 percent tax rates; free college; re-architecture of the economic; forgiving debt for college, which happens to be the biggest asset on the American government's balance sheet. You do not believe in those things.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe in the way they're doing that. For example, I think there should be health care for everyone. I have a plan how to do that that's rational and will cost a hell of a lot less and will work. In terms of --

CUOMO: Too incremental?

BIDEN: No, it's not incremental. It's bold.

CUOMO: Would bring back the individual mandate?

BIDEN: Pardon me?

CUOMO: Would you bring back the individual mandate?

BIDEN: Yes, yes, I'd bring back the individual mandate.

CUOMO: You think that will be popular?

BIDEN: Well, it's not -- yes, now it would be, compared to what's being offered.

And here's the deal, Chris. We're in a situation where, if you provide an option for anybody who, in fact, wants to buy into Medicare for all, they can buy in. They buy in. And they can do it.

But if they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like, they shouldn't have to give it up.

The flip of that is, if you don't go my way and you go their way, you have to give up all that. And what's going to happen when you have 300 million people landing on a health care plan? How long is that going to take? What's it going to do? And in the meantime, a lot of people are going to be in trouble.

In terms of the economy, Chris, I've been proposing for a long time, and I've -- look, I know I'm Middle-Class Joe, I get that past. It's not meant I'm sophisticated. It meant I'm, you know -- middle class built there country. You didn't have Wall Street build this country. How did they do it? You gave people a chance. You allowed them to maintain their dignity.

And how'd they do it? How can you have dignity without having health care? How can you have dignity without having access to an education? How can you have dignity unless you live in a neighborhood that's not fouled by the environment and what's going on?

CUOMO: How do you convince the party that these more advanced ideas, all in on Medicare for all, that matter to them --

BIDEN: I wouldn't call them advanced. I would call them --

CUOMO: But they're popular in the party.

BIDEN: Well, by the way, watch. That's what this election is about. I really -- I'm happy to debate that issue and all those issues with my friends.

Because guess what? Again, look who won the races. Look who won last time out. We had -- and by the way, I think -- I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman. But she won a primary.

In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education, health care.

Look, my north star is the middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well.

CUOMO: How do you do better for them economically? If not with these 70 percent tax rates?

BIDEN: Well, three things. One, I do raise the tax rate to 39.5 percent. I do, in fact, eliminate the ability for them to write off capital gains the way they do now. I would raise the -- and raise billions of dollars, raise the corporate tax rate from 20 to 28 percent -- it was 36 -- to 28 percent. I'd raise billions of dollars.

CUOMO: Trump will say, but that's what brought the economy up to the were it is, is those tax cuts.

BIDEN: Ask these people who work in this restaurant how the economy came up for them. Ask how good they feel about it, how the stock market is working. Ask how driving the $2 trillion greater in debt has done anything for them.

CUOMO: On health care, do you believe that undocumented people should have health care in this country?

BIDEN: I think undocumented people need to have a means by which they can be covered when they're sick. And so the idea is that's what I think we should be doing by building more clinics around the country. Not just for undocumented, for other people when they're ill, when they're sick. People need -- this is just common decency. You're not -- this is common decency. You're not going to let somebody --

Reporter: It's unpopular.

BIDEN: Well, I know it it.

CUOMO: Well over 50 percent of people polled say undocumented people shouldn't have health care on our dime.

[07:05:08] BIDEN: Well, I mean, I'll tell you something. In an emergency, they should have health care. Everybody should. Anybody here in the country.

How do you say, "You're undocumented. I'm going to let you die, man? What are you going to do?"

You know, I mean, the idea that, you know, I hear the stuff about how, you know, they're killing Social Security, et cetera. Those who have jobs, guess what? They've increased the life span of Social Security by close to a dozen years. I mean, we got this -- this is part of what Trump is playing on. He's playing --

CUOMO: It works for him, this issue, the issue of law and order versus a left that seems like it's open borders, because it means it's lawless. You have people who are running close to you now who are saying decriminalize coming into the country illegally. Do you believe that should be decriminalized?

CUOMO: No. No, I don't. No, I don't. I think people should have to get in line.

But if people are coming, because they're actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case. I would be surging as we did and Barack and I did, surging folks to the border to make those concrete decisions.

Look, the other thing, Chris, is why are they coming? The reason the vast majority of these people coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is because they're in trouble. Crime rates are high. Education is terrible. In Guatemala, you can't turn on a light switch and have them out.

And so what do we do? I put together a $740 million program with Republicans, I might add. At the very end, saying, "We'll make a deal with you. You do the following things to make your country better so people don't leave, and we will help you do that."

Just like we did in Colombia. What did we do in Colombia? We went down and said, "OK," and I was one of the architects of plan Colombia in Colombia.

I said, "Here's the deal. If you have all these crooked cops, all these federal police, we're sending our FBI down. You let us give them -- put them through lie detector tests. Let us tell you who you should fire and tell you the kind of people you should hire." They did and began to change. We can do so much if we're committed.

CUOMO: What do you say to the people party right now when polled who say, "Yes, I like Joe Biden, but I think that his ideas are the old ideas? The new ideas I see a Warren, I see a Sanders, I see a Harris."

BIDEN: I've not seen that.

CUOMO: You poll lower than them. You poll lower than them on ideas for the future. What do you say to them?

BIDEN: I say to them, "Take a look at my ideas. Take a look at my ideas."

I haven't seen those polls. I haven't seen where people say -- what I've seen around the country is the vast majority of Democrats are where I am on the issues.

We've got to be aggressive. And they're big ideas. The big idea on education, on health care, on dealing with the environment. I mean, it's just -- I love how, you know, all of a sudden -- I wish I had been -- I wish I had been labeled as moderate when I was running in Delaware back in the days when it was --

CUOMO: Eighty percent of your party says it's center left.

BIDEN: I am center left.

CUOMO: The farther left is getting more attention. It's getting amplified by --

BIDEN: It is. Look --

CUOMO: There's a disconnect.

BIDEN: Look, it's center left. That's where I am. Where it's not is way left. Now look, but that's what we can find out. That's what this -- that's what this debate is about.

CUOMO: Do you think you need, if you win the nomination, to have a female V.P.?

BIDEN: I think it would be great to have a female V.P. And if I don't win, it would be great to have a female president.

But the question is, whose issues are best prepared in their wheelhouse? They've demonstrated they know how to deal with them.

CUOMO: Would you consider not having a woman as a V.P.?

BIDEN: I would -- look, here's the first thing about being a V.P. I've learned. And that is that today's environment, there's so much a president has on his or her plate. They need someone they completely trust, that they're simpatico with, have the same -- the same approach, political approach, and you can delegate significant authority to.

The president when he delegated authority to me from the moon shot to -- to Ukraine, he gave me the authority to make decisions, because he knew I knew where he was. He knew that I knew something it. And he knew we were simpatico. And so that's what I'm looking for.

CUOMO: Do you think a Democrat ticket can win without a woman in one of the two slots?

BIDEN: Yes, well, the answer is yes. But I think that -- I think it helps having a woman on the ticket. And there's a lot of really qualified women out there.

CUOMO: Is Kamala Harris, assuming she doesn't win outright, is she still somebody you would consider as a running mate?

BIDEN: Look, one of the things I'm not going to get into, because it got news before, is when I was asked -- I don't even have the nomination, and I'm presuming who I might pick as a vice president. That's easily flipped on me and saying, "Well, Biden's being arrogant. Biden thinks I'll have him as my vice president."

So I'm not going to comment on -- on any individual.

A woman came up to me -- I guess it was, I don't know, a month ago. I guess I was in New Hampshire. Said --

CUOMO: All right. I'm almost done.

BIDEN: "Why shouldn't I vote for a woman?"

And I said, "You should. If you think that person's most qualified at the moment right now to deal with our problems, vote. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't vote for women."

[07:10:11] Look, I have spent my career, from writing the Violence Against Women Act before that, to say my daughters and granddaughters could do anything, and I mean anything, anything that a man can do. Anything. And so I don't have a doubt in my mind.

And if I started naming some of the people around the country, women who are not running for president, as well, who are fully qualified to be vice president. Again, it would be awful presumptuous, man. Presumptuous. So there's a lot of really qualified women out there.

CUOMO: In terms of -- last question -- in terms of what we haven't seen from Joe Biden yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please (UNINTELLIGIBLE) please?

CUOMO: I remember your -- hey, Jill, last question. Last question, I promise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BIDEN: We'll be there in a second.

CUOMO: Last question, I promise. The last thing I remember talking to him about politically with you, Beau, was, you know, what is the quality? You know, because he was asking me about, you know, what do you take from your father in this? What do you -- Beau Biden said to me, "Nobody fights like my father."

What does that mean to you to fight harder than anybody else?

BIDEN: I think it means two things. One, to fight without being personal. To fight and convince. The role of a president is to persuade. Persuade, not just go out and fight.

If they want someone, the clenched fist, a bare-knuckle fight, closed hand, closed heart, they've got one of those guys right now. That's not me.

I have been pretty darn good at bringing people together. The whole idea of America is that when we're together there's not a damn thing we can't do.

And it's -- look, the most incredible response I always get for the last three years is when I talk about how optimistic am I about the future. People know it. They feel it. They know it. They understand it. And we can't stay in this state.

What are we going to do? What are we going do if we can't get along better? And part of it is persuasion and people looking at you and say, "I know what he means. He'll stay with what he says, and he'll do what he says he's going to do." And I think that's part of leading. We'll soon find out.

CUOMO: Thank you for the time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Really interesting stuff.

AVLON: Fascinating stuff.

CAMEROTA: Interesting stylistically, interesting substantively. So we will dive into Joe Biden's ideas and his plans and his campaign strategy. Our 2020 campaign reporters are going to weigh in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:21:44] CAMEROTA: OK, CNN's exclusive interview with former Vice President Joe Biden is chock full of headlines. Biden discussed his healthcare plan and whether undocumented immigrants should be covered. Here's that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: On health care, do you believe that undocumented people should have health care in this country?

BIDEN: I think undocumented people need to have a means by which they can be covered when they're sick. And so the idea is that's what I think we should be doing by building more clinics around the country. Not just for undocumented, for other people. When they're ill, when they're sick. People need -- this is just common decency. They're not going to let somebody --

CUOMO: It's unpopular --

BIDEN: Well, I know it is.

CUOMO: Well over 50 percent of people polled say undocumented America -- undocumented people here should not have health care on our dime.

BIDEN: Well, I mean, tell you something, in an emergency, they should have health care. Everybody should. Anybody here in the country. How do you say, "You're undocumented. I'm going to let you die, man"?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this and so much more. We have Rebecca Buck and Arlette Saenz, CNN political reporters. Arlette has followed the Biden campaign all along the trail.

We also have Toluse Olorunnipa, White House correspondent for "The Washington Post." Great to have all of you help us dissect everything that the former vice president said in this interview.

Let's start there, Toluse. So basically, he's saying, you know, there was that moment that everybody on stage raised their hand in the debate for "Would you insure undocumented immigrants?" And Joe Biden was not the first hand u, and his was the first hand down, actually. So there was a feeling of did he reluctantly join the pack there?

So here, he clarified. And it sounds like what he's saying is that for catastrophic care. He believes insuring people for catastrophic care, because as he said, "What are you going to do. What are you going to say, 'I'm going to let you die, man'"?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, this is actually very similar to something President Trump said during the 2016 rate, where he was talking about healthcare and providing universal health care. And he said, "I'm not going to let people die in the streets."

And it seems like Joe Biden, who said during this interview, "I am center left," is sort of staking out a clear position and adding some nuance to show that he's not as far left as the rest of the field, that he is basically trying to win over some of those Trump voters by saying, "Listen, we're not going to let people die in the streets. We can be compassionate." But not saying that we're going to give a government health -- healthcare plan, government-funded healthcare to undocumented immigrants.

But in an emergency situation where people are dying on the streets, or really in a tough place, then we can provide healthcare for people, even if they don't have documents, even if they don't have papers.

So it does seem like he's -- he's adding some additional context, additional nuance, and pulling himself back from that far-left position that he seemed to embrace during the debates, where everyone raised their hands and President Trump seized on it by saying, "Listen, all of the Democrats want to give taxpayer-funded healthcare to undocumented immigrants."

Joe Biden seems to be saying, "Listen, I support taking care of people, being compassionate, but we're not going to provide a full slate of benefits for people who don't have papers."

AVLON: And Toluse, that's a great example of a policy-specific example of the larger fight for the Democratic Party that's going on.

And Rebecca, Joe Biden has been positioned as someone who's a centrist, on the right of his party respectively. You've covered Congress.

And so you know that, I mean, if you look back at his voting record in 2007, "The National Journal" did an analysis saying he was the third most-liberal senator.

[07:20:06] So is this a case of the Democratic Party moving so far left that it's moved him by? Or is it a case of the far left just having a louder voice than the rank and file?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think it's the latter, that right now the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is incredibly vocal, incredibly powerful in Washington.

But when you look at the polling that we've seen throughout this election cycle, looking issue by issue where Democratic voters are and also, do they identify more as moderate, centrist Democrats or liberal Democrats, you actually see that the Democratic voters still are, by and large, quite moderate.

And so this is Joe Biden's case that he's been making as to why he is the best candidate to be the Democratic nominee and take the party into the general election, because many Democratic voters out there across the country still are quite moderate. They aren't as far left as some of the conversation we've been hearing in Washington, for example. And he is sort of getting the big share of these moderate voters at this point.

But as we've seen in the polling, his lead is very tenuous, very fragile at this point. And so you have Kamala Harris and others trying to get that moderate piece of the Democratic vote. And that was exactly why she made the play she did in the debate.

CAMEROTA: He spoke directly to that. So Arlette, we heard the former vice president tell Chris about how, basically, he believes being moderate is the way to go and the winning strategy. So let's listen to that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Look who won the races. Look who won last time out. We had -- and by the way, I think -- I think Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman, but she won a primary.

In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who were very progressive on social issues and very strong on education, health care.

Look, my north star is the middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: So Arlette, that sounds like that will be his kind of overarching message for his campaign.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It really is, Alisyn. And you've now heard Biden basically prescribe these two brands to himself. One, that he's center left, and two, that he's an Obama-Biden Democrat.

And so going forward, and as you have seen throughout this campaign, Biden has really pushed back against that notion that there has been this leftward tilt in the party.

He had also talked about how Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant and bright woman. But he just doesn't think that the party has gone that far left, as you have heard him also say. He has made that argument, that there are very loud voices in the -- in the Democratic -- on the leftward side of the party.

But going forward, you know, Biden, he has said that he doesn't want to make any of these criticisms personal. But he's also starting to drill in on some of those issues.

You've seen him really keep his focus on President Trump throughout this campaign. But in that interview, he's staking out some very clear policy differences when it Medicare for all. Also decriminalizing border crossing. That's something that former HUD secretary Julian Castro has really led on, that Biden is now pushing back against.

So you're finally starting to see him really trying to make that differentiation between himself and those other Democratic candidates, as he has to get through them first in order to get to President Trump.

AVLON: That was a fascinating point he kept making. "I'm a fighter but without making it personal. A president needs to be a persuader."

Toluse, one of the most fascinating moments of that particular segment of the interview is when he talks about what he might be looking for in a V.P. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Do you think you need, if you win the nomination, to have a female V.P.?

BIDEN: I think it would be great to have a female V.P., and if I don't win, it would be great to have a female president.

CUOMO: Do you think a Democrat ticket can win without a woman in one of the two slots?

BIDEN: Yes, well, the answer is yes. But I don't think that -- I think it helps having a woman on the ticket. And there's a lot of really qualified women out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Toluse, is that almost a presumptuous question to follow on? Does Biden run a risk of getting too detailed on that kind of a conversation at this point? OLORUNNIPA: Yes. You could sort of see the wheels spinning in his

head and not wanting to go too far in answering that question and deciding whether or not to name any names or whether or not to sort of engage with the question of whether or not he would support Senator Harris as a potential V.P.

He had talked about that in the past, and he got a little bit of pushback for that and sort of seeming presumptuous, seeming as if he had already believed himself to be the nominee.

In this case, he sort of stopped himself from going that far and just saying that there are tons of qualified women who could be the vice president. And also even sort of giving a nod, saying that if he did not win the nomination, that he'd love to see a family presidential nominee.

[07:25:02] So it did seem like he was sort of worried about being seen as being too presumptuous there and decided not to fully engage, and used it as an opportunity to speak to the women voters who are considering him but also considering the history of potentially having the first female president.

The president -- or the vice president wanted to show that he supports those voters either choosing him or potentially choosing a woman to -- to be the nominee instead.

CAMEROTA: Rebecca, I want to talk about style for a second. There's a lot of substance, obviously, in this interview. But stylistically, not every format is for every candidate. And Joe Biden seems to really come alive in that particular format with Chris Cuomo. He -- his eyes were bright. He looked energetic. He was able to kind of show off his institutional base of knowledge, from NATO to North Korea to Russia, because he has experience with all of those countries.

And he was able to kind of tout that in a way that somehow on stage with ten other people he seemed deferential. You know, he says in this interview he didn't want to engage in the scrum. But some people rose to the occasion of engaging in the scrum, you know. That debate stage was Kamala Harris' format, I would say.

And so what was your impression of how Joe Biden will come off to voters in this interview?

BUCK: Well, you know, he came off, I think, so much better than he did on the debate stage, than he has in some of the early cycles, news cycles of this Democratic primary. And so it begs the question why hasn't he been doing more one on one, sit-down interviews like this? Why hasn't he been going out there to present his story, to explain his positions, to defend his positions in a way that wasn't as confrontational as what you might see on the debate stage? You know, I think this format does him a lot of favors.

And he's been trying, in this race, to sort of, as you suggested, remain above the fray. To present himself as a front-runner return, as a statesman, as someone who's above all of the squabbling of the Democratic primary with two dozen candidates. But we're seeing that he hasn't been succeeding in that.

And so I think this shows he needs to engage a little bit more. He needs to get out there.

AVLON: it's a fascinating, important interview by Chris Cuomo. My guess is we will be seeing more of it.

Rebecca Buck in Houston, where Vice President Biden will be speaking at the National Education Association later today, along with many other candidates.

Arlette, Toluse, thank you so much for joining us.

And if you're just waking up, we're going to play our entire interview with Joe Biden in the next hour.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, former Vice President Biden says his position on bussing is not different from Kamala Harris's after all. Does her campaign agree after all of this? We've ask her communications director. With us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)