Return to Transcripts main page


Buttigieg Struggles with Black Voters; Merkel Seen Shaking for Third Time; New Poll Numbers in Democratic Race. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: 2020 hopeful Democrat Pete Buttigieg is struggling with black voters. CNN's latest poll has him at zero percent among the critical voting bloc. Actually, not zero percent. Zero people. Zero human beings. Zero African-Americans voters said they supported Pete Buttigieg.


BERMAN: Zero. The South Bend mayor discussed his efforts to increase his support in this new interview on "The Axe Files."


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not interested in winning without black support. I'm interested in winning black support and deserving to win black support. It's why we're making sure that through initiatives like the Douglass Plan people understand exactly what I propose to do with the powers of the presidency in federal office to deal with racial inequality.


BERMAN: CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod joins us now.

Axe, Pete Buttigieg says he's not interested in winning without black support. The fact of the matter is he can't win without black support.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely cannot. Absolutely cannot. African-Americans are about a quarter of the Democratic primary electorate. Once you clear those early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, they come into play. And in South Carolina, 60 percent of the voters will be African-American. So, as a practical matter, he has to solve this problem or he's going to go back to South Bend.

And that is a problem. South Bend itself is a bit of a problem for him because even though he has this very far reaching Douglass Plan to try and fight systemic racism in this country, there are troubling issues back home about police staffing, which African-Americans dropped by half under his watch, and on city contracting, where African-American -- where minority businesses have done rather poorly in sharing in the business of the city, even though 40 percent of the city is black and Hispanic. These are questions that I asked him.

We had some interesting exchanges on it. And, you know, he has to solve it. And I think his campaign knows he has to solve it, which is one reasons why he was out there with an 18-page plan yesterday to try and deal with a whole range of issues affecting the community.

GOLODRYGA: And he got a lot of credit, I think, from his response, rather honest response, about what happened in South Bend. And he said, I couldn't get the job done. You mentioned this 18-page plan. And yet my question to you is, can he win over the black vote nationwide without winning the black vote at home in South Bend?

AXELROD: Yes, no, I think it's hard. And, you know, the African- American community traditionally responds to people who have a long- term relationship with it. And, you know, that's what saved Hillary Clinton in 2016 and, obviously, helped propel Barack Obama forward in 2008.

So, you know, it's vitally important. And people are going to look at what -- what he's done there and what his relationship with the community is there. And, you know, he had a series of issues. He fired a popular black police chief. It was because of an investigation. But, nonetheless, it was a controversial decision. He tore down 1,000 abandoned homes, many of them in poor minority communities, and that was meant to remove blight. But there was quite a bit of resistance because now there are these vacant lots in the community.

So, you know, there are a lot of issues that he has to confront there. I have no doubt -- you know, I know him pretty well. I think his intent on these issues is positive, but it clearly wasn't as big a focus for him in South Bend as it is right now.

BERMAN: I want to play another exchange, a really interesting exchange you had with the mayor because I think I heard for the first time a rather direct criticism, or at least contrast he's drawing -- trying to draw with Vice President Joe Biden. And he's talking about the risks of playing it safe for Democrats. Listen.



BUTTIGIEG: I'm worried about this for 2020. If we are portrayed as a party that is promising a return to normal, which will be tempting because what we have now is so chaotic and awful, but if we look like all we have to say is, let's go back to normal, there's going to be a lot of people who feel that normal has not worked for them for decades.

AXELROD: So when you say that, are you -- are -- is that a reference to the vice president, because a lot of his message is about restoration?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think he's one candidate who runs that risk a great deal, not the only candidate who runs that risk. And a big part of what I'm trying to do in my campaign is demonstrate that we understand the causes of which this president is a symptom. If all we have to say is, we're going to go back to normal, then in some ways it could be perceived as a kind of different version of what the Republicans are saying. The Republicans want us to go back to the 1950s. Democrats might sound like we want to go back to the 1990s. And a lot of people here don't think the 1990s worked for them any better.


[08:35:15] BERMAN: So, David, you asked a direct question there, is this a reference to Vice President Biden. The actual answer there is, yes. Clearly it's yes. So what does it tell you now that Mayor Buttigieg feels like he needs to draw this direct contrast?

AXELROD: Well, I think that Biden is a foil in certain ways for his candidacy because he's making a very strong new generation appeal and a middle of the country appeal. Part of his pitch is, I'm from South Bend. I'm -- my -- my -- the areas around me voted for Trump. Some people voted for me and Trump. And they are alienated from the status quo. They don't think that the old normal worked for them.

And so you don't want to become, even as a challenger, a status quo candidate. You know, the danger for Biden, if he should make it to the finals, is that he is an establishment candidate and there still is an anti-establishment mood out there. And, you know, Donald Trump has managed to continue to be an anti-establishment candidate, even as he's the president of the United States. He won 80 percent of the vote in 2016 of people who said change was their biggest motivation, and he's still seen as an agent of change.

So that's the case that Buttigieg is making. He has to solve the first problem we talked about to get the chance to test it. But it's clearly where he's going in terms of striking a contrast with the frontrunner.

GOLODRYGA: And he's definitely got the money to help solve that problem too, $24 million in the second quarter, right?

AXELROD: $25 million. Eye-popping.


AXELROD: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: Yes, (INAUDIBLE) something there. You can see how excited David Axelrod would be to spend all of that money. And he should (ph).

AXELROD: Man, I retired -- I retired way --

GOLODRYGA: He's got some ideas.

AXELROD: I retired way too soon, you guys.

BERMAN: You still have the nervous ticks, though, I think in terms of spending the little bit of money.

David Axelrod, great to have you with us. I have to say, this interview is really interesting. Be sure and check out the full interview with Pete Buttigieg tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. on "The Axe Files."

GOLODRYGA: You know what I do, I watch the interview and I listen to "The Axe Files" podcast. Big fan. Double dose of David Axelrod.

BERMAN: Double dip.


Well, up ahead, new concern about German Chancellor Angela Merkel after she was seen shaking yet again. So what could be the cause? CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explain.


[08:42:04] GOLODRYGA: A rare break with protocol in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sitting during the national anthem of Germany and Denmark while welcoming Denmark's prime minister. The unusual seated display comes as Merkel has been bombarded with questions about her health. Wednesday, Merkel was seen visibly shaking for a third time in just the past few weeks.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is CNN's chief medical correspondent.

And, Sanjay, the German government blamed dehydration for the first incident and Merkel referred to her shaking Wednesday as a phase and said, like it came, it will also go.

What do you make of this because it's a bit jarring to witness?


It's hard to watch when you see that shaking, no question. And I think when they referred to this as possibly being due to dehydration, that first time we saw her shaking, you know, they may not have really had a good idea of what this was.

It's interesting, we obviously don't know for sure, and they may be still working this through with her own doctors, but there's a couple of really important clues here and something I want you to pay attention to. As you look at this video, you see her there obviously as she's standing still, she's shaking quite noticeably. If you look more carefully, you see that seems to be really starting in her legs.

But I want to show you this next video as well, Bianna, and notice something. When she is standing again, you see this -- the shaking and it's noticeable. But as soon as she starts to move, as soon as she starts to walk, the tremor really seem to go away. When she is sitting, she does not seem to have the tremor. And that's a really important clue when it comes to this. A type of tremor known as primary orthostatic tremor. It's a rare sort of tremor, but it typically only occurs when someone is standing, Bianna. It typically is more likely to occur in women and is typically diagnosed around age 50 or 60. So it seems to fit this pattern. And, again, this may be something that's happening, unfolding for them real-time and they're working through this diagnosis themselves.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it's interesting because it's something I've never seen or heard of before.

So what would the treatment for that be if you're correct?

GUPTA: Well, you know, Bianna, one thing to point out again, when I say rare, it is rare. I mean one in a million sort of rare. And I bring that up only to say that there's not these big studies on something like this to really figure out the best sorts of treatment.

What typically happens is that -- that medications like muscle relaxants are given because they would relax sort of the tremor, again, which seems to primarily be starting in the legs. There are types of seizure medications that are given, not because anyone's suggesting this is a seizure, but because sometimes those medications can work for these sorts of tremors.

But one thing to point out that I think is important, Bianna, is that unlike say something like Parkinson's disease, which tends to progress, with this type of tremor, primary orthostatic tremor, there are some treatments and it also doesn't typically progress. What you -- what you do is you try to not standstill as much. You're either walking, moving or sitting because the tremor really isn't there in those cases.

[08:45:10] GOLODRYGA: Well, let's hope you're right and it's not as benign as it looks when you're watching the video. As I said, this is the first time I've seen something like this, and now we've seen it three times happening with Angela Merkel.

GUPTA: That's right.

GOLODRYGA: Sanjay, always great to have you on. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you, Bianna.

BERMAN: All right, there's new movement this morning in the Democratic presidential race. We will tell you who's up, who's down. Harry Enten dives inside the numbers, next.


BERMAN: There are new national polls out this morning and a new poll out of South Carolina, a key early voting state where the majority of Democratic primary voters are almost always African-Americans. And it shows one candidate clearly leading the pack.

Let's get "The Forecast" with CNN's senior politics writer and hanalyst Harry --


BERMAN: Hanalyst. ENTEN: I'm a hanalyst.

GOLODRYGA: You're a hanalyst. On Friday's you're a hanalyst.

BERMAN: You handle it so well. You're not just an analyst, you're an analyst who handles the numbers for us.

ENTEN: Well, thank you. That's very -- that's so kind.

BERMAN: It's a hanalyst.

ENTEN: Hanalyst.

BERMAN: Hanalyst this for us.

ENTEN: The hanalyst.

So, OK, let's take a look at the South Carolina primary right now. Look, we've seen this slide before, but I think there was a real question following the first debate whether or not Harris' attacks on Biden would hurt him with African-American voters and South Carolina's a perfect place for that, as you mentioned.

And what do we see here? We see Joe Biden overwhelming leading the pack with 35 percent, but it's more interesting when you break it down with African-Americans. He's actually doing slightly better among them. While Harris is running third in South Carolina overall and third among African-Americans. Not just behind Joe Biden, but behind Bernie Sanders as well.

[08:50:10] GOLODRYGA: And from a national preference standpoint, primary preference that is, you have new data, too.

ENTEN: Yes, so, take a look at this. So this is basically -- I have our CNN poll of polls which averages all the latest data, from live interview polls nationally, as well as a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" -- NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, and what do we see here? Again, Joe Biden's down from pre-debate, but he's still clearly ahead. Harris is in second here in the CNN poll of polls, but really you have a three-way tie for second place between Harris, Warren and Sanders. NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll mostly matches that. Most of these movements here. Although Warren's in second, mostly within the margin of error, but, again, basically a three-way tie for second place, but I think --

BERMAN: And that's one of the things I'll be watching, by the way, in our debate --


BERMAN: Coming up in a week and a half, can someone break out of this second tier? And because my main interest in life is to blow up your Twitter feed --

ENTEN: And -- which was definitely blown up. Just -- BERMAN: You've got an analysis -- basically one candidate's on the rise here and there's one candidate, not on the fall, at least stagnant.


GOLODRYGA: But stagnant.

ENTEN: Yes. Yes, exactly right. So if you're, you know, talking about a tale of two progressives, what we see is Elizabeth Warren, she didn't really get a post-debate sort of bounce like Kamala Harris did, she's been steadily rising. Look at this, 6 percent in March, 9 percent in April, 10 percent in May, 12 percent in June, 15 percent post-debate. Bernie Sanders down from 22 percent in March, but basically stagnant over the last few months, basically staying at that 15 percent level. Warren's rising. Sanders kind of steady as water.

BERMAN: Tweet Harry Enten.

ENTEN: Oh, boy. At forecaster Enten. Let's get it right.

BERMAN: At forecaster Enten.

GOLODRYGA: Hanalyst Harry.

ENTEN: Hanalyst at forecaster.

But what's so interesting to me, right, we have this fight between the progressive lane and the Democratic Party right now, and this to me is so interesting because, take a look at this, so this is a liberal moderate scale based upon the congressional voting record where zero is the most liberal, 100 is the most moderate. And we essentially we see is, look at this, as I'm going to join you two over here. We see this sort of -- all these folks are pretty much -- very much in the liberal lane, versus Joe Biden, who's basically all alone among the top four candidates as the more moderate guy, and he looks a lot more like the average House Democrat who won a GOP seat back in 2018.

And why is this a problem for these folks and maybe good for him? Because, remember, this entire election seems to be being fought about electability. And what do we see right now? This is an average of the 2020 poll since January 2019. And we see that Biden is the one who's leading by the most, eight points. Sanders is actually -- who has about the same name ID is actually only leading by about five points. So it seems to me that the more moderate side may be working.

Warren and especially Harris have lesser name ID. But, again, you know, Warren only up by a point. She is fairly well-known.

GOLODRYGA: And that is Biden's strategy ultimately, right, as to who can defeat Trump. In his mind he's saying he's the candidate who can defeat Trump and then that's -- from what we've at least seen from Trump's Twitter feed, who he's most worried about, at least right now.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And this gives him a pretty good shot of making that argument. This also -- this is from an ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, who

would you choose if -- being forced between Donald Trump and a Dem consider -- you consider a socialist. Trump actually leads in this matchup by 6 points, which is fascinating to me, right, because his approval's so low.

So this suggests to me, if you move too far to the left in the Democratic primary, it could come back to haunt you in the general election.

BERMAN: And it is why Donald Trump is throwing around the word "socialist" every chance he gets.

And you have this column out this morning. I think the headline is basically, if you want to guarantee Donald Trump gets re-elected, nominee x basically.

ENTEN: Exactly right. Exactly right. And I'll just point out this from our CNN -- latest CNN poll. So basically these are the net favorable ratings. That's favorable minus unfavorable. And what we see is, all the Democrats, the top Democrats, are basically as popular among the Democratic primary electorate. But among all others, this is Republicans plus those independents who aren't going to vote in a Democratic primary, again, what do we see? We see Joe Biden as the least unpopular of these candidates, Harris -- sorry, Sanders and Warren, who are both pretty well-known, very much less -- very much less liked than him. And this, to me, suggests that Joe Biden could pull away some of those Republican voters who went for Trump last time around but maybe don't like him so much.

GOLODRYGA: It's interesting when you look at Sanders and compare him to that piece that we did earlier in the show this morning about his troubled relationship with the Democratic Party, right? And we're seeing these headlines coming from your research suggesting that Americans do not want a socialist in office. Where is his -- he going to be standing on that.

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

GOLODRYGA: It's fascinating.

ENTEN: One last thing I just want to point out, Our fun slide. Serena Williams is going for her 24th grand slam event.

GOLODRYGA: Whoo-hoo.

ENTEN: That is a grand slam for every single one of the Democrats running for president. One for all. Maybe that's a little socialism for you.

BERMAN: Would you have done this slide had Tom Steyer not jumped in this week?

ENTEN: No, he had. But, remember, we have lost -- we lost Eric Swalwell.



GOLODRYGA: Thank you, Harry.

BERMAN: Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Hanalyst Harry.

ENTEN: Hanalyst Harry Enten.

GOLODRYGA: Hanalyst Harry.

ENTEN: Hanalyst John Berman. There we go. (INAUDIBLE).

GOLODRYGA: I like it. I like it. Have a good weekend. Thanks.

ENTEN: You as well. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, last fall we shared the story of Luke Mickelson, a top ten CNN Hero from Twin Falls, Idaho, who saw a helped -- need to help a few children in his hometown and ended up quitting his day job to follow his newfound passion, giving kids a good night's sleep by building free bunk beds and getting kids across the country off the floor.

[08:55:01] Well, in less than a year, his project has taken off in a way that a small town farm boy never would have imagined. Just take a look.


LUKE MICKELSON, CNN HERO: We went from just one little community to over almost 200 communities now, over 30,000 volunteers.


MICKELSON: We've also received over 50,000 bed requests.

We're here to deliver beds. You want to show me where they go?


MICKELSON: All right.

We started a new program in 2019 to help those kids that have been affect by natural disasters throughout the country.

Probably the best huh?

Yes, we bringing dignity, self-respect.


We're bringing something that they own and can be proud of.


Do you like it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is how I go under.


GOLODRYGA: Doesn't that just make you feel happy?

BERMAN: It's amazing.

GOLODRYGA: And how many beds can one man build in a day? Go to right now to see Luke's full update story and to nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.

BERMAN: It's a lot of beds in one day and he's such a great guy with a great story.


BERMAN: It shows what one simple idea can do.


BERMAN: All right, New Orleans bracing for potentially record-breaking flooding from this very dangerous storm. More coverage right after this.