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Biden Unveils Health Care Plan, Highlights Divide Among Democrats; Former Rising Democratic Star Opens Up on PTSD Fight; Beloved Baton Rouge Community Activist & African-American History Museum Founder Found Dead Inside Car Trunk. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Biden's plan proposes massive new Obamacare subsidies and a public option that his campaign say would be similar to Medicare.

In a new campaign video, Biden goes directly after rivals, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, featuring a key moment from the Democratic debate. Watch this.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question was asked whether we support eliminating private health insurance. Some said yes. I said absolutely not.

I believe we have to protect and build on Obamacare. That's why I proposed adding a public option to Obamacare as the best way to lower costs and cover everyone.


BOLDUAN: Here to break it down CNN correspondent, Jessica Dean.

An easy thing to do. Trillions of dollars depending on what you're talking about. But Biden is rolling it out. Kind of long awaited to hear what his details are. What's in it.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Let's break this down for everybody because this is where we're starting to see key differentiations --


DEAN: -- among the 2020 candidates.

Let's take a look at what's in Vice President Biden's proposal. He is proposing a public option that would be similar to Medicare. It would allow anyone to join that and people who weren't caught if their state did not expand Medicaid -- some of these Republican-led states didn't do that -- they would go to the public option. It offers federal subsidies make the exchanges cheaper and allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices. If we dig in a little more on a couple of these topics, you'll see

there's some details in there as well. The subsidy, for example, take a family of four that would be making $110,000 a year, they would save about $750 a month. Because, Kate, some of the critiques of Obamacare, we have insurance but can't afford the deductible. That's what they're getting at. These are based on gold plans with lower deductibles, not the silver plans.

If you bear down on the public option piece of this, it's similar to Medicare. It automatically enrolls those people who aren't captured by Medicaid. And anyone unhappy with their insurance, can join.

But the bottom line here, if you zoom out and take the big picture, this is Obamacare but taking it further. It's strengthening and keeping Obamacare and trying to bring in more people as opposed to what some of the other Democrats have suggested.

BOLDUAN: Right. This is Obamacare on steroids or however you want to --


BOLDUAN: However you want to -- Obamacare-plus. This is different from what we've seen from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. But how different?

DEAN: Right. So, OK, if we show you this as well, this crystallizes it. Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren both support Medicare-for-All, which would push Obamacare to the side, start from the beginning, and encompass everyone.

Senator Kamala Harris supporting single-payer government-run health care plan.

This is where we're starting to see distinctions between these candidates. And it fundamentally comes down to, do you believe we should keep Obamacare and strengthen it and add to that or do you believe we should start over again with a whole new program, Medicare- for-All.

And that's the discussion that Democrats are going to be having. And they're having it in earnest this week and we're headed right into the debates.

BOLDUAN: If you look at the polling from -- the midterms, it was a defining issue.

DEAN: Right. Right.

BOLDUAN: And 2020, no matter what, we're always talking about all the time, health care is still the top issue that people care about when it comes to who they are going to support.

So this, what he's rolling in now, and the differs between the candidates are really something to pay attention to.

DEAN: Absolutely. It's going to be a big defining moment for these candidates.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thanks, Jessica.

DEAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really great to see you.

Do not forget. You can find out which Democratic candidates are going to be facing each other and which candidate will face off each night of the next debates in a special live event. You can watch the drawing this Thursday, at 8:00 Eastern. That will set the stage for the CNN presidential Democratic presidential primary debates, coming up. Moderated by Dana Bash, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper. That's July 30th and 31st live from Detroit, Michigan, only on CNN.

[11:34:03] Coming up for us, he was the front-runner in a high- profile mayor's race and even talked as a potential presidential candidate, but then he did what we have really never seen before. He stepped away from politics altogether. I'm sitting down with Jason Kander with an important message, important rollout in his first cable news interview. That's next.


BOLDUAN: He almost beat an incumbent Republican Senator in a red state in 2016. He was secretary of state of Missouri and a former Army captain who served in Afghanistan, when he caught everyone's attention with this hard-charging campaign ad.


JASON KANDER, (D), FORMER KANSAS CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE & FORMER MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm Jason Kander. Senator Blunt has been attacking me on guns. Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle.


BOLDUAN: That helped launch former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander into the national spotlight. A rising star in the Democratic Party, people were even talking about a possible 2020 run.

He ran for Kansas City mayor in 2018, was the clear front-runner when he did something that no politician does. Quite frankly, he suddenly dropped out of the race in October because he said he needed help.

In an unbelievably candid letter to supporters, Kander wrote this, "After 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it's faster than me, that I have to stop running, turn around and confront it. I finally went to the V.A. in Kansas City yesterday and started the process to get help regularly. To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I've decided that I won't be running for mayor of Kansas City."

[11:40:06] And we haven't heard from Jason Kander since, until now.

Jason joins me now.

Thank you for being here.

KANDER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you. How are you?

KANDER: I am great. I mean, it's nice to be able to say that.


KANDER: I'm doing really well. I feel better than I've felt in over a decade.

You know, my first message to people is, if you think something might be wrong, something is wrong, and you should get help.

And now I have this incredible opportunity. You know, you mentioned -- you read the part of the letter where I said I went to the V.A. The rest of the story I haven't told is that I went to the V.A. and they gave me a lot of paperwork. And I looked at it and said, I'm not really sure I know how to navigate this process.

BOLDUAN: Even you.

KANDER: Yes. And I'm, you know, in a decent spot to be able to figure that sort of thing out. I have some government experience and that sort of thing.

So I went to an organization in my town in Kansas City called Veterans Community Project. They helped me navigate the process.

Now I have the opportunity to lead their national expansion. They serve all vets, anybody who falls through the cracks. They work on veterans' homelessness and have a village of tiny houses and effectively eradicated veteran homelessness in Kansas City. And am excited to lead the national expansion of the organization. It's our new mission.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk about the foreword, but understand the road ahead. I really do still wonder about the road that got you here.


BOLDUAN: You just did something that politicians don't do. You didn't say, I'm going to take -- I'm going to take this issue that I'm facing, my challenge, and I'm going to champion it for others. You said, I need help. I have to stop and focus on me. You pulled yourself out of the race.

What was the moment, Jason, when you said that you just couldn't do it anymore?

KANDER: Yes, you know, there was a lot of things that led up. Struggling with it, being exhausted for a really long time. Not being able to sleep for about 12 years. Feeling like I was in danger all the time. Which, obviously, when you're in politics and you're in crowds, it's kind of an important part of your work, that can get a little exhausting.

But really, what it was, was I just had an evening not long before I wrote that letter and made my announcement where I ended up needing to call the suicide hotline.

And it was really the moment when I realized that the woman on the other end of the phone, from the sound of her voice, that I didn't sound any different than any other vet she had talked to that day.

And that realization for me was -- provided clarity. It was also frightening. It said to me like, I need to do something about this right now. So I did.

BOLDUAN: I was really struck, because I've heard you say, no matter the fact you served in Afghanistan, you thought you felt that you didn't deserve to feel that way, because you hadn't seen combat.


BOLDUAN: Talk me through that.

KANDER: Well, you know, it's -- who even knows what is combat really means.


KANDER: I mean, I look back now, I've had time to reflect in therapy, where I was an intelligence officer and exposed for many hours at a time. Me and a translator out meeting with people, not knowing if somebody wanted to kidnap me or kill me. And so I was frightened for my life a lot.

Turns out, that can be traumatic. And I had to learn that in therapy because, you know, I had friends like the folks who are the founders of Veterans Community Project, folks I work with now. We're all combat vets. Some have a more traditional story of combat background, right? Mine was different.

So it took me a long time to not feel like saying I have posttraumatic stress with some sort of stolen valor. And it really came to a point where I didn't have a choice.

I was scared. And so I took action. And it was in one of my very first times sitting down with therapist, saying it's an injury and needs to be treated.

BOLDUAN: What do you say to veterans, or not, folks out there who are struggling? What could you say to Jason Kander of 2018?

KANDER: Sure. Get help. You'll be glad you did. I mean, I hope --

BOLDUAN: So hard to do.

KANDER: It is. I hope folks can see, by looking at me now, it isn't -- it just makes so much of a difference.

BOLDUAN: Jason, you looked good in January of 2018 when I had you on the show.

KANDER: It's true. I got good at convincing myself I was fine and could convince the world I was fine. If you're not right, you're not right.

What I tell people is, it's an injury. I had knee surgery about 15 years ago. I can run. I can run pretty far. But I ice my knee.

Now I've gone through treatment for this injury. It's not that I don't have posttraumatic stress anymore. But now I know how to treat it. And it's no different.

BOLDUAN: What can Veterans Community Project do on a national scale, do you think?

KANDER: Absolutely. We can end veterans' homeless in this county. This is -- and we've effectively done it in Kansas City.

But more than that, it's not about just complaining about the gaps that exist in the system. What we do is we come in and fill those gaps, whether you're homeless or anybody else.

So I've been on your show a lot and never asked people for money because I was in politics and it seemed uncouth to do on CNN. But this is a good cause. Go to Veterans Community Project,, and give. We're a donation-based organization and that's how we'll expand nationally.

[11:45:04] BOLDUAN: You ended your letter when you wrote to supporters last year saying that once you work through your mental health challenge, challenges, you fully intend to be back at it.


BOLDUAN: Does that mean politics? Do you see yourself running again?

KANDER: You know, I know politicians always say that's not what I'm thinking. And that's what they say in order to not answer the question. I know that because that's what I would say when people asked if I will run for president because I didn't want to answer. I am not thinking about it right now.

One big difference about getting better, I'm happy with what's going on in my life right know. So I don't feel that I have to think about the future in order to feel better. I'm thinking about right now.

I have no idea what I'll do. But I do know that I care a lot about Veterans Community Project. And to me, this is public service. So if the question is, are you back, yes, and I'm doing this.

BOLDUAN: It shouldn't -- how do I say this? It shouldn't make a difference, there shouldn't be a stigma, but if you would enter politics again, are you concerned there would be? KANDER: No. But, you know, just kind of not concerned about a lot of

things -- like --


KANDER: There were a lot of old concerns I don't have anymore.

BOLDUAN: Like -- yes.

KANDER: But, you know, I guess, whether it's politics or anything else, just the response that I got from people -- like I had no idea what the response would be. I knew I've got to tell people what's going on.

BOLDUAN: It didn't matter. You must have struggled. You struggled with it clearly.

KANDER: Big part of why I would never admit it to myself, let alone, to the rest of the world. But once I did, I mean, the outpouring --


BOLDUAN: Did it feel like a weakness?

KANDER: Yes. I said right before the announcement, I said to my friend, like I feel weak. But now I don't feel that way about it. I feel like it's the strongest thing I've ever done.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

KANDER: I feel stronger than I have since before I deployed.

And, you know, one of the things when you go through treatment is your social support network. It's one of the first things they ask you. And my friend, Brian is with me, the CEO of Veterans Community Project. And, Brian, I told him early on in the process, sitting in his office and going through mental health treatment, and said, they keep asking what my social support network is and I feel guilty because it feels like the whole world is rooting for me and nobody else gets this. But he says nobody else has done this under the kind of microscope you have.

So that's an interesting experience I've had. And it's a big part of why it's taken a while to come out and talk about it. Because I wanted to make sure that I had gone through treatment and that I really was better and I wasn't trying to put on a face for people.

So I really am better. And posttraumatic growth is a real thing?


KANDER: I'm really glad I got treatment. I hope people will. Anybody that needs treatment, I hope they will. And anybody else, I hope they'll go to Veterans Community and make a donation.

BOLDUAN: It's great I will let you ask -- (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- a financial plug on the show.

Thank you so much. It is great to see you.

KANDER: You, too.

BOLDUAN: And it's great to see your face and see you smile in a genuine way.

KANDER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here. Thanks --


KANDER: You bet. Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, a very different story. A shocking case out of Baton Rouge. A beloved community activist and founder of the city's African-American History Museum found dead inside the trunk of a car. We have new details coming up, next.


[11:52:58] BOLDUAN: The mysterious death of a local icon has rattled the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And 75-year-old civil rights activist, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, was found dead in the trunk of a car Friday, a little over three miles from her home. She founded the city's African-American History Museum along with an organization aimed at creating a safer environment for children.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Baton Rouge and is following all of this.

There are so many questions, only questions right now, Randi, about what happened. You spoke with police officials. What are they telling you?

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, they don't want to say much because they don't want to compromise the investigation.

But they did tell us that this all started on Friday afternoon about 3:45 when they got an anonymous tip from someone calling in a body in the trunk of a car. So they went to check that out and that's where they found the body of Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

They know that she was with relatives earlier in the day. They tell us she had gone to her sister's home just a few houses away from her own. Her oven had failed. She was middle of baking corn bread. She brought it to her sister's to finish it. And she never went back to pick that up. So they are stumped about what happened to her. And 75 years old, found in the trunk of her car. As you said, this wasn't just any woman in this community. She was an

icon, a civil rights leader, a tireless advocate for peace here. She did found and create the African-American History Museum here in Baton Rouge. She worked with at-risk youth. She created the Juneteenth celebration which celebrated the emancipation of slaves in the southern United States.

We spoke to the mayor here in Baton Rouge about Sadie Roberts-Joseph. They had known each other for 30 years. The mayor told us she was devastated to hear this news. Listen to what else she said.


SHARON WESTON BROOME, (D), BATON ROUGE PRESIDENT-MAYOR: She founded other organization, the Community Against Drugs and Violence. That organization is still up and active today. And it's a sad testament that she fought against violence. She was a peacemaker and her life ended in violence.


KAYE: And we're hoping to get more answers today, Kate, because the autopsy we're told is under way. It should be finished today. We don't know if it will be released.

[11:55:10] But police tell us they don't have any leads, they don't have any suspects, and they don't have any motive -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's not going to end all the questions surroundings this.

Randi, thank you so much for covering this for us.

Still ahead, President Trump launches into a new racist rant against four Democratic congresswomen. Why is his party, why are Republicans, with just a few exceptions, staying silent here? More coming up.