Return to Transcripts main page


Biden And Harris Bring Their Debate Fight On Race To Iowa; Strong Aftershock Rocks Southern California After Powerful Quake; Migrant Children Depict Conditions In U.S. Detention. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 5, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:18] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Former vice president Joe Biden talks to CNN exclusively about his ongoing squabble with Sen. Kamala Harris over busing and race that started in last week's debate.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": 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 me. She knew Beau, she knows me.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Sen. Kamala Harris' communications director, Lily Adams. Good morning, Lily.

LILY ADAMS, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Hey, good morning. Good to be with you. Happy July Fourth.

CAMEROTA: Thank you -- you, too. Great to have you on this post-July Fourth morning.

So, today, it sounds as though Sen. Kamala Harris' position and former V.P. Biden's position on busing is not as different as we thought it was on the debate stage.

Is Sen. Harris -- does she believe in federal mandates for busing or not?

ADAMS: Well, what she said in the debate is that she did believe that back in 1969 and 1970 when she was being bused to school, that federally-mandated busing was essential. And, frankly, in most schools, segregation -- you know, segregation and integration experts agree it was fundamentally important. Now what she said, and she articulated yesterday when she was in, I think, Indianola in Iowa, is that now we're in 2019, which is not 1969, thank goodness, and so we need new tools now.

Now, I will say, Vice President Biden seems to stand by his opposition to busing from back in 1969. I couldn't really tell from his interview. It seemed like Chris was trying to pin him down.

But that is a fundamental point of disagreement on his record that Sen. Harris highlighted in the debate and that still remains a point of disagreement. And that's fine. That's what campaigns are about.

CAMEROTA: Well, sort of. I mean, let me -- understood. But let me just clarify because I don't think that this is clear.

It sounds like what he's saying is that he was opposed to federally- mandated busing. However, he was in favor of the locally-decided busing, which Kamala Harris, as a young girl, was part of -- that Berkeley decided to do that. And he said that he never disagreed with that and he supported it.

And now, it sounds like she -- what she is saying is that she believes that the locally-decided busing as well.

ADAMS: No, Alisyn. What she said in the debate is that there are times when the federal government needs to intervene, like in the 60s and the 70s when, frankly, there were local opposition to a lot of the busing.

And I just want to -- you know, I think you're getting sort of lost in the tactics here. But the point of busing back in the 60s and 70s was integration. It was the way that we were integrating schools so that black children and white children could learn together.

[07:35:05] And, you know, Vice President Biden has made his position pretty clear when he called it an asinine concept.

She believes that there was a massive role for the federal government to work to integrate schools through federally-mandated busing back then.

But what she's saying -- and maybe the vice president now agrees with this -- is that now, in 2019, 40-plus years later, there are different tactics that we need to use like increasing the use of magnet schools. Like having -- you know, taking on the reform of federal zoning laws. Like making sure that school boundaries are drawn so that diverse classrooms are made up.

So these are -- you know, there's just a difference of sort of an opinion on the record. But that's what campaigns are about, is about talking about people's record. It's about talking about people's ideas. And so, her debate exchange with Vice President Biden, I think remains a disagreement.

CAMEROTA: And it also sounded during the debate as though she felt that he should not have worked with those segregationist senators. Is that accurate?

ADAMS: Yes. What she said is that when -- she's all for reaching across the aisle, she's all for working with people who disagree with them.

But holding up segregationist senators who, frankly, dedicated their lives to the cause of segregation is not what we should be doing as a model for how to work together. You know, these were folks who -- you know, if they had had their way, she would not be a senator.

And so, that's all she was saying -- that, you know, there are plenty of Republicans we can talk about working about -- working with who would be great -- John McCain. You know, the senator has a bill with Rand Paul. There are certainly ways that we can get along with people that we mostly disagree with.

But, segregation of senators, I think, is not who we should be holding up as a model for how to work together. And she and Sen. Booker, I think, made their points very clear on this and that's just where they stand.

CAMEROTA: In this interview of Vice President Biden with Chris Cuomo --


CAMEROTA: -- it sounded like Vice President Biden took it personally. That he felt that Sen. Harris sort of glossed over the nuances of his position in a way that felt like a personal attack and almost, that she knew him better than that to have gone for that.

What's her response? Was that -- was that -- I mean, I don't want to use the word "low blow" because he didn't use the word "low blow" but it sounded like he felt that it was an unnecessary personal attack.

ADAMS: Well, I don't think it was a personal attack at all. In fact, she starts off her comments in the debate by saying and affirming that she doesn't believe that the vice president is racist and she's always had respect for the vice president.

So, I can't speak to why he was or wasn't prepared. That's for him and his team to decide and to explain.

But what she was pointing out was a very real disagreement on the record. These are on decisions and actions that he made. This is what a presidential debate is. It's to decide who has the record, who has the ideas, who has the vision to lead the party against this -- against Donald Trump.

And so, I think to say that his record is not fair game or people's record is not fair game, frankly, is unrealistic.

I think that the vice president talks a lot about his record. So does Kamala Harris. That's what they should do. And they're going to point out disagreements where there are disagreements. CAMEROTA: I mean, one of the ironies of all of this talk that we've had for the past week is that busing is not at the top of any voters' lists of top priorities. And yet, we've gone back and looked at the record and really dissected it.

And so, does she -- what does she say to critics who say that this was all really a distraction?

ADAMS: Well, I think it was a moment in the debate and, frankly, I don't think you and I would be talking about it today if Vice President Biden's team hadn't been attacking Sen. Harris over the weekend or over the July Fourth holiday.

So, I think we are happy to talk about visions for how we integrate our schools. We're happy to talk about her vision for how we build a better middle-class. We're happy to talk about what she wants to do on foreign policy. So we're more than happy to continue to talk about the issues.

She did multiple events in Iowa yesterday where she got questions on everything from the environment to criminal justice reform to what we're going to do to beat Donald Trump in November of 2020. So, she'll continue to talk to voters all across the country.

CAMEROTA: Lily Adams, thank you very much for coming on and helping clarify Sen. Harris' position on all of this. Great to talk to you.

ADAMS: Great to see you -- yes.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, another powerful aftershock just rocked Southern California. That's after the strongest earthquake to hit the area in two decades.

We'll talk to a local official supervisor from near the epicenter. That's up next.


[07:43:37] CAMEROTA: Residents in Southern California just felt another strong aftershock. The USGS says it was 5.4-magnitude. This comes after the most powerful earthquake in nearly 20 years rattled that area.

And a state of emergency has been declared in the city Ridgecrest and that's where we find CNN's Nick Watt. Did you just feel this aftershock, Nick?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, we certainly did, Alisyn. Listen, the seismologists told us it was coming and they were right. At about seven minutes after 4:00 local time, that 5.4 aftershock hit.

It shook us around. It was strong enough to knock our satellite signal off the bird, but I would doubt it was strong enough to cause any major damage. And since then, we've had another 11 aftershocks, but lower in magnitude. Now, the big one -- so far, the big one of this -- of this swarm was the 6.4 that hit yesterday at 10:33 in the morning. Some power lines came down, some gas lines were ruptured, a few fires here in Ridgecrest, and a fire minor injuries. We saw people here at the Ridgecrest hospital being treated for sprained ankles -- that kind of thing. No fatalities.

But, of course, this was felt by millions of people from Las Vegas all the way to the coast. And in Los Angeles, it was felt where, of course, millions of people live and where millions of people are waiting for the big one that we all expect. That we all fear will at some time hit Southern California.

[07:45:09] So, authorities are really trying to use this as like a teaching moment that -- they are telling people -- listen, you should be prepared, get ready. Use this as a warning. Get water, get food, be ready because at some time the big one just might hit.

John, back to you.

AVLON: All right, joining us now from Ridgecrest, the supervisor for the First District of Kern County, Mick Gleason.

Mick, I understand you were eating breakfast at Denny's just a little while ago when you felt this 5.4 aftershock. What's the feel on the ground?

MICK GLEASON, SUPERVISOR, FIRST DISTRICT KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Yes, it's a pretty significant -- a pretty significant event, yes.

AVLON: How's the community holding up?

GLEASON: Pretty remarkable. My food fell off the fork.

AVLON: The food fell off the fork.

GLEASON: The community is doing great. The community is doing wonderful. We have -- we have a great mayor providing great leadership. We have good relationships with our neighbors.

The state of California is weighing in and helping us out. Kern County is doing a great job and we're doing just fine, thank you.

AVLON: Everyone rallying together, which is as it should be.

I understand there were several buildings that were evacuated in the wake of yesterday's quake. Have folks been allowed to go back to those structures at this point?

GLEASON: They're still working things -- through things. They've still got some examinations to get through but things, so far, are looking good.

AVLON: Do you feel that the--

GLEASON: They should be going back soon. AVLON: Do you feel that the buildings regulations in California that have been to try to prevent major destruction from these kind of earthquakes has helped? Did it help the resilience of your community?

GLEASON: Absolutely, absolutely.

I was sitting -- I was sitting at my house last night and we had an aftershock and I was talking with my wife. And I could tell my house was rocking, rattling, and rolling and somehow, it managed to not crumble down. So I think it's structurally sound and I'm glad they did it.

AVLON: Well, obviously, when we all got the news -- biggest quake in 20 years -- everyone's mind goes to the big one.


AVLON: All these faults that have had over 100 years since the last major earthquake. It seems to be just a question of time.

Do you feel that California is prepared for the big one?

GLEASON: I don't know that anybody could really be completely prepared. I think who knows what Mother Nature is going to wreak upon us when she makes that decision.

But I think being as ready as one can be, understanding what is happening, where to go, how to communicate. What does having your house being ready -- you know, batteries, power, food, water. All the essentials of life and having those readily available to you when the moment comes is important.

I think we're getting there. I think Southern California -- I know Ridgecrest certainly is now. We'll see what happens when the big one comes.

AVLON: All right. Mick Gleason, thanks for joining us on NEW DAY. We appreciate it.

GLEASON: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, John.

You know, migrant children drew these dramatic images of their time in a border shelter -- on your screen right now. So we have the story behind these drawings, next.


[07:52:11] CAMEROTA: New images drawn by migrant children reveal a harrowing side to the humanitarian crisis at the border. Take a look at what three children drew when asked to illustrate conditions while in U.S. custody. They show children crammed behind bars and in cages.

Joining us now is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Sister Norma Pimentel. And she oversees the respite center in McAllen, Texas where the children made these drawings.

Sister Norma, thanks so much for being here to tell us the backstory of these drawings. Who -- how old were these kids and why did they make these drawings?

SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY, MCALLEN, TEXAS: You know, the drawings were made by -- a doctor -- a physician asked the kids to make these drawings to reflect what it is -- their experience was like in the detention facility, so that's what happened.

And it really reflects what a child carries with them -- the memories -- some of the memories that they have with them as they move forward in their journey.

CAMEROTA: Yes. What did you think when you saw these drawings?

PIMENTEL: You know, children will reflect their experience -- what they've been through and what they see. And so, it is -- it's unfortunate that a child suffers alone and it's not right for them to be exposed to suffering and that's part of their experience.

CAMEROTA: I think one of the interesting things is is that your center is kind of the weigh station between the time that the children are in the custody of CBP and the time that they're headed towards their final destination.

And I think what it shows is that they may have left custody -- being in custody and being in those circumstances -- but the situation hasn't left their psyches. They're still drawing about that. They're still processing that.

PIMENTEL: Of course. You know, there's trauma involved in all that a child experiences.

And, you know, I think that in my experiences, border patrol really tries to do their best to do their job, but a detention facility is not a place for a child -- for family. And so that's what their experience is like for them and it's sad to see that.

President Trump tweeted this about families who are in the detention centers and facing some of these squalid conditions that we've heard about have been reported on. So here's what he tweeted this week.

"If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly- built or refitted detention centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"

What's your response to that?

[07:55:00] PIMENTEL: Well, honestly, I think that a child -- there needs to be an alternative to detention. A child, an infant, a toddler, a mom should not be in those conditions. We must have a better, more humane solution to this reality.

CAMEROTA: You were supposed to meet with President Trump on January 10th when he came to McAllen, Texas, but that meeting never happened. Why didn't that meeting happen?

PIMENTEL: Well, I think it was not to his interest to speak with me or to even come to the respite center. It would have been good that he did come. I think that he would have seen the families and it's important to meet the family and the child before -- if you have some important decisions to make about what is happening.

CAMEROTA: And if he had come to your center, what would you have said to him?

PIMENTEL: I would introduce him to the families and the children -- the moms -- so that he can see this human aspect of the whole immigration reality that we're experiencing right now. I think it's important for him to see that.

CAMEROTA: Were you given an explanation for why he didn't show up?

PIMENTEL: No, I was not. I think that his plan was different and that is what happened.

CAMEROTA: People of faith, such as yourself -- I mean, of all faiths, really, believe in protecting children and in providing shelter for the neediest.

And so, what do you say to fellow Catholics or Christians or whomever you want to address that are having such a hard time right now with the influx of migrants and say that they should go home and they should stay there, and are really kind of demonizing, frankly, the migrants themselves?

PIMENTEL: It's important that we must never lose sight of our own humanity. We must realize that they're people -- they're human beings and they're children, and they're not criminals.

So we, as a country, can really, truly provide for them an alternative to detention. A safe space, a safe passage to their quest for safety and protection.

CAMEROTA: Well, Sister Norma Pimentel, thanks for sharing with us the backstory of where these kids were when they drew these drawings and why they drew them. We were really struck when we saw those drawings and it's helpful to know what they were trying to process.

So, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

PIMENTEL: Thank you, Alisyn -- yes.

AVLON: A powerful conversation about faith and these kids and their psyches, and what we're all confronting.

CAMEROTA: I mean, they're such attention-grabbing photos. When you see them, they're dark. You know, these are dark photos.

AVLON: Oh, yes.

CAMEROTA: And, obviously, I think that it just shows that the kids will carry this experience with them, even when -- again, they were out of custody when they drew these, but they'll carry it with them probably forever.

AVLON: Oh, no, psyche scars. And for those who are parents of young children, I think it resonates all the more.

Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Bianca Nobilo is next.

For our U.S. viewers, we've got CNN's exclusive interview with former vice president Joe Biden. NEW DAY continues right now.

CAMEROTA: And when we say right now, we mean right now.

AVLON: Literally.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a special edition of NEW DAY.

John Berman is off enjoying his holiday. John Avon joins me. Great to have you here.

AVLON: Always.

CAMEROTA: OK. So we begin with a CNN exclusive.

Former vice president Joe Biden sat down for a rare interview with our Chris Cuomo. Vice President Biden's commanding lead over the Democratic field has tightened significantly after the first debates.

AVLON: Joe Biden defends his record on school desegregation, addresses his feud with Kamala Harris, and talks about why he's the best candidate to beat President Trump.

Now, we're going to play the entire interview for you and here's part one.


CUOMO: 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?

BIDEN: No, and I don't they're relevant because they've been 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 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: It was Sen. Harris who said --


CUOMO: -- she sees it as a tool, not a must in all circumstances.

BIDEN: Yes. Well, look at my record.

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.

CUOMO: -- I was against it but now I've changed.

BIDEN: No. I was -- I was -