Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Doubles Down on Racist Tweets, "Send Her Back" Chant; Biden Gets Rematch With Harris At Next Debate; Democrats Prepare for Second Round of Debates; Congress to Hear Mueller's Testimony Wednesday; Health Care Divides 2020 Democrats. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 21, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:27] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The president plays the race card.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are people that, in my opinion, hate our country. If they're not happy here, they can leave.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back!

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): This is our country, and we are where we belong.

KING: Plus, debates, round two. Testing time.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The more people learn about what I propose for this country, the better we do.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am delighted. Bernie and I have been friends for a long, long time.

KING: And are Democrats drifting too far left? Health care is exhibit A in that fight.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time is now to expand Medicare to every man, woman, and child in this country.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There would be no private insurance plans. If you like your plan you have with your employer, it's gone.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

We begin with the lessons of an ugly week in American politics. A racist tweets from the president of the United States last Sunday opened wide this dark door. And his actions make clear he has no intention of shutting it.


TRUMP: These are people that hate our country. Hey, John, they hate our country.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

REPORTER: Why didn't you ask them to stop saying that?

TRUMP: Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. I was not happy with it. I disagree with him.

But, again, I didn't say -- I didn't say that. They did. You know what I'm unhappy about? I'm unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country.

You just can't talk about our country that way. And when people are angry at them, I fully understand it.


KING: To see race-baiting and prejudice flowing from the Oval Office like water from a faucet is shocking. Yet, it is sadly somehow not all that surprising. "The "New York Times" today has a fabulous account, a detailed account of how the president has used race as a wedge throughout his life, in business, in reality television, and now in politics.

And then in the current context of reelection, just remember 2016. The president lost the popular vote, remember, but flipped Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to win the Electoral College. Eighty-eight percent, 88 percent of his voters back then were white. His goal is recreating that map in 2020.


REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist, and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights: Eliana Johnson of "Politicos", CNN's Manu Raju, Asma Khalid of NPR, and "Time's" Molly Ball.

I noted there, the president shows no signs of backing down from this. He's tried to change his take on the rally a little bit, but even this morning he is tweeting -- disputing a story in the "Washington Post" that says aides had to explain why these tweets were racist. He says, no, the only conversation they had at the White House was about the size of his crowd.

Where are we a week later?

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to me, it seems the president has gone back and forth. He initially sent the tweet. And when the rally crowd in North Carolina began chanting "send her back," he said that was wrong, even though they were chanting that because he himself had said it in his tweet. And now, he seems to be going, reverting to his original position.

So, the president does seem to be trying to have it both ways. What I think what his ultimate goal here and something he has not backed away from is he is trying to make these four women the face of the Democratic Party. And rather than campaigning against any one of the two dozen Democratic candidates, he is trying to campaign against I think Ilhan Omar more than any of the other three women.

KING: And to that point, I showed you the 88 percent of his 2016 vote was white. He needs to recreate that. The president is most likely going to lose the popular vote again. That could change. But if you look at the data now, he has done very little to expand his support among college-educated women, among voters of color. So, that's it. He looks at that.

And if you look at the -- this is from the Pew Research poll. Look at this divide between Democrats and Republicans. America's openness is essential to who we are. Almost nine in 10 Democrats believe that, fewer than four in 10 Republicans do. America risks losing identity as a nation if we are open and more diverse, you see that nearly six in 10 Republicans worry about that.

[08:05:04] Those are the voters the president is trying to stoke here.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it tells you something that it's only 57 percent. If you view that as some kind of metric for how willing is the rank and file of the Republican Party to follow Trump down this quite dark road. I think no matter what happened, the 2020 election was going to be a referendum on American identity at a point, not to be too grandiose, where as a nation, we're really in flux. This is really an inflection point, and Trump is really underscoring that in the nastiest possible way.

But, you know, it was very interesting for me. I was talking to a lot of congressional Democrats this week, and there was a real divide in how they viewed the political ramifications for the Democratic Party of Trump going this way, because on the one hand, you did hear, the argument as Eliana was saying, that by elevating the so-called squad and turning them into the face of the Democratic Party, Trump had done something brilliant for him because, to the extent that he can turn the Democratic Party into something that is most represented by their sort of extreme positions, that's good for the Republicans.

On the other hand, you know, the idea that overt racism is an effective political strategy is a pretty disturbing and cynical thing to think. And this came at a time when, you know, the whole reason that this came up is because there were these divisions among congressional Democrats, because tempers were very high between the squad and the progressives and the moderates. And so, by wading in, what Trump did was take a situation where

Democrats were divided and unified them. He brought everything together. All of the Democrats in Congress could agree to denounce racism as they proceeded to do.

KING: And one of the members of the squad, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman Democratic congresswoman form New York, she had a town hall yesterday where she said, look at this past week. She says, if you thought the president was not a racist, forget about it.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Once you start telling American citizens to, quote, go back to your own countries, this tells you this president's policies are not about immigration. It's about ethnicity and racism. And his biggest mistake was that he said the quiet part loud. That was his biggest mistake, because we know he has been thinking this the entire time.


KING: And so, we have -- we'll have a replay of 2016 with immigration, identity, culture wars from the president front and sister. It worked for him in 2016. Again, he lost the popular vote quite convincingly, but he put together the electoral win.

It backfired on the Republicans in 2018. The president's calculation is, I'm on the top of the ticket. I'm leading this debate. I will win it again.

ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And you can make the argument, too, the Electoral College is a very different election than what we saw in 2018 with various house districts. There will be analysis looking at the fact that some of this identity he has been stoking does really play well. And you sort of saw a lot of academic research after the 2016 election, pointing out it was effective amongst the Obama Trump voters that flipped.

We'll see whether or not it's effective again. But it would make the argument that he could win the Electoral College again while losing the popular vote.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, the Democrats will have to make a decision strategically, the best way to push back against the president, there is an ongoing debate about exactly how to do just that. Do you go all out. In this distance they did because they saw this as completely overbounds. These racist tweets, they had to speak as a unified party.

But at the same time, Democrats that I talked to, too, were concerned, as Molly was saying, distracting exactly from what they are trying to do. Their agenda, what they believe won them the election in 2018, health care, for instance. When they met behind closed doors in the House Democratic caucus immediately after that resolution passed to condemn the president, Nancy Pelosi said we need to pivot to these other issues, this kitchen table economic domestic agenda issues. So, that's going to be a constant thing. When the president does

things to rile up his base, how do Democrats respond and what is the best way to rile up their base, while keeping --


KING: And the interesting part about it he is without a doubt trying to rile up his base and motivate his voters, and you must turn out in 2020. But he's also trying to turn the election into a gutter, if you will, to make it more toxic, which is what he did in 2016. Hillary Clinton is corrupt. Hillary Clinton won't change Washington. Hillary Clinton is this.

Look at this polling from the exit polls last time. If the president is trying to convince you these Democrats are socialists, they'll raise your taxes, they'll ruin your community and everything else, because if he turns it into a toxic environment, voters who thought both Hillary Clinton had an unfavorable opinion went for Trump. Voters who thought neither candidate was honest, went for Trump. Voters who thought neither was qualified to be president, went overwhelmingly for Trump. Voters who thought neither has right temperament, overwhelmingly for Trump, essentially trying to make the case, you know, you don't like me, I know you don't like my temperament, they're worse.

[08:10:01] KHALID: Right.

KING: I give you 3.9 percent unemployment.

KHALID: It would also suppress turnout, you could argue, amongst Democrats as well.

BALL: And they basically said that that was their political strategy at the time and I suspect it probably will be again. We spent a lot of time talking to the president's campaign about how they plan to execute a similar strategy to what they did in 2016.

So, but, you know, the election is really a long ways away. It's more than a year away. Trump always needs a target. He always needs a foil.

He has -- he has found one. It may or may not be working for him. But there's going to be a Democratic nominee a year from now.

This may be a preview of how he is going to treat that Democratic nominee no matter who it is. But it is going to be different when there is actually a Democratic candidate who on the one hand has to answer for these kinds of occurrences. But on the other, you know, can fire back at the president from the stature of being the candidate actually opposing him.

KING: And even among those who privately told the president, they thought he had crossed the line here, not having a primary challenge, allows his campaign to test it. They have the money, and the resources. Whether this works or doesn't, as you mentioned, we're early. So, they can -- we'll see if there are adjustments. Up next, a closer look at the four mechanics of the so-called "Squad". They are outspoken, and at times quite controversial. But the president also routinely twist their words and exaggerates their influence.



[08:15:01] OMAR: I want to make sure that every single person who is in this country, who is aspiring to become part of the American fabric understands that nothing this president says should be taken to heart. We are Americans as much as everyone else. This is our country. And we are where we belong.


KING: Ilhan Omar there pushing back against the president. He insists race has nothing to do with his attack on the squad.


TRUMP: These are people that in my opinion hate our country.

I have a list of things here said by the congresswomen that is so bad, so horrible that I almost don't want to read it.

When I hear the hatred they have for Israel and the love they have for enemies like al Qaeda.

When they call the people of our country and our country garbage, they can't talk about evil Jews, which is what they say. Evil Jews.


KING: Four Democratic congresswomen, you see them there, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have said many controversial things. But the way the president describes them is almost always twisted.

This is a tweet from Omar seven years ago before she came to Congress: Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.

She was criticizing, as you see, the Israel government. She did not use the term "evil Jews".

Hypnotized the world though is one of several anti-Semitic tropes you can find on Omar's Twitter feed. All about the Benjamins. Words that have drawn harsh bipartisan condemnation.

Tlaib is also harshly critical of the Israeli government and she promotes at times a revisionist history of Palestinian actions during the Holocaust. She's on the president's radar, though, because of this.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): When your son looks at you and says, mama, look you won, bullies don't win. And I said baby they don't because we're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)



KING: No one in the squad, as the president said, call the people of our country garbage. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did say this back in March, rejecting criticism from Democratic moderates.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are. But where we are is not a good thing. And this idea of like 10 percent better from garbage shouldn't be what we settle for.


KING: So where are we in the sense that everything you just heard there is, of course, open to debate. That's what makes America great. Democratic colleagues have criticized some of the things they have said. The president criticized some of the things he says.

But he often twists their words and takes them to a place that is not factually correct.

RAJU: Yes. And he says that they can't criticize the U.S., but he, of course, spent years railing when Obama was president railing on the U.S. So, why did they have to leave? Or he says, if you don't like it, they can leave him. Well, what about him and his criticism that he has leveled against this country for years.

But all of it aside, he is clearly trying to elevate these four and make them the face of the Democratic Party. The reality is they are four freshman Democrats in the House. They do not have the power to control the agenda in the House. They don't control the agenda of the House.

Nancy Pelosi made clear they are only four votes, which they are. They vote a certain way. Yes, they have a voice. They are more prominent than other freshman certainly are in the past and currently. But they don't have any real influence to drive what's happening on the floor.

One person does, that's Nancy Pelosi. But the president views this four as people that he wants to make his foil.

KING: As he makes his socialist case, look, there's no escaping the fact that they are four women of color that the president is attacking. He is not making the case against Bernie Sanders. He's not attacking other white male candidates in the race for president or in the House Democratic or progressive caucus which he could find. The president, if you think he will die back, he tweeted just moments

ago: I don't believe the four congresswomen are capable of loving our country. They should apologize to America and Israel for the horrible hateful things they have said. They are destroying the Democratic Party but are weak and insecure people who can never destroy our great nation.

One of the interesting things here beyond the race is, I come from a town named Boston and they threw tea in the water. The whole idea is you get to protest. You get to say things. You get to be critical of your leaders and your country.

The president seems to be ignoring that unless it's him. That's part of his thing. He does not like debate, dissent, especially if it's against him.

JOHNSON: Yes. I think that's one of the big problems with the president's approach to this, is that he's -- it's come in a highly personalized way. The way to grapple is not to say go back to where you came from, but rather to take issue with what their views are, because as you --

[08:20:05] KING: And to do it accurately.

JOHNSON: -- as you ticked off in your introduction, there is plenty to grapple with and to contend with there. And I think that's what Republicans would like to see him do.

What's his issue with what Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib had said about Israel? What's his issue with what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said about the state of government? I think those are real arguments Republicans and you've heard Lindsey Graham say this, this week, would like to engage in rather than sort of personalize attacks or the president's statement that they can't criticize the U.S.

KING: And to the point, you brought this up earlier. Most Democrats are completely unanimous saying this is over the line, it's racist by the president's behavior and there has been a rally around the squad, even among Democrats who have issues with them on policy or some of these other issues. Here's a sign that Democrats are a little bit nervous.

You have the Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, the progressive caucus chair, the progressive caucus co-chair, the new Democrat coalition chair, the Blue Dog coalition chair, all groups within the Democratic Party putting out a statement.

House Democrats are diverse, robust and passionate family. We will remain clear-eyed with respect to our unity of purpose. Every single voice within the how Democratic caucus is an important one. We have a shared mission. Onward and upward.

You only put out a statement saying we're all together when there are obvious issues --

RAJU: You're not. (LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes, you say we're fine when there's tension in the family. And there is.

RAJU: Yes. That came in the aftermath of the immigration border spending package that led to a very ugly back and forth throughout the caucus. So they felt compelled to say they're going to stay on the same page.

Sure, they can say that publicly. But once they get back to the same issues, you're going to see the division, perhaps may be not as personal next time, but these members are very passionate about these issues and they're divided. So we probably will see this happen again.

KHALID: And what I think is really interesting is even if they can't control the debate at all in the House is the degree to which their ideas are kind of percolating into the 2020 campaign, right? We have seen every major presidential candidate to have take stance on the Green New Deal. I mean, there are sort of being questions about some of these policies might seem on surface to be sort on the fringe.

KING: Right, playing the outside game with social media and their cable television and other appearances to push a debate that Speaker Pelosi would prefer be done inside. Can't always work that way

Up next, the Democratic debate lineups are set. A Biden/Harris rematch. A Sanders/Warren faceoff.

Before we go to break, check this out, Cory Booker stops by comic-con hoping to make his campaign, shall we say, live long and prosper.


[08:25:58] KING: The lineups are set for round two of the Democratic presidential debates and the dynamics are fascinating, from a Biden- Harris rematch to a Sanders and Warren pairing that literally puts at center stage the debate of whether the party is drifting too far to the left.

Let's take a look at the lineups for next week. This is night one, again, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the leading candidates in the race, Medicare for All, free college tuition. Center stage, whether it's Senator Klobuchar of Mayor Buttigieg, or come over here, Governor Hickenlooper, Congressman Delaney, Governor Bullock. They all make the case, if you agree with them, the party will drift too far to the left and lose a national election.

This will be an interesting dynamic. Also interesting to see, do they spar with each other. They say they are friends but they are rivals right now. She has emerged as a significant threat to Bernie Sanders.

Night two, the highlight here, the rematch, of course. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris went at it quite sharply over busing, other race related issues in the first debate. She gained from that. We'll watch for a rematch there.

Cory Booker has given some indication he wants in on this, saying the vice president has been insensitive to that issue. He was the front- runner. He has come down since the first debate. He's a leading candidate now, the front-runner no more. But still, the former vice president expects he will be a frequent target.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll be prepared on all the issues that are asked of me. Now, I guess you are implying, and you're probably right, that these others are going to be ready to, you know, fire some cannon balls at me and we'll see.

REPORTER: Are you going to be the aggressor this time?

BIDEN: No. I know what I'm for. I'm going to talk about what I'm for, I'm going to talk about why I think I am the best qualified person.


KING: As we start the conversation, I just want to put up this polling graphic and start on the left of the screen with the four leading candidates here. Warren and Harris, the two women are at the bottom. Come over the last months to July, look how much they have improved. In the most recent poll, both Senator Harris and Senator Warren passing Bernie Sanders. Former Vice President Biden coming down.

So, you've got a close race at the top of the pack here. But the two women senators right now, they are the ascending counties heading into round two.

BALL: That's right. And these debates are going to be really interesting to see. I think the Biden -- what happened with Senator Harris and Vice President Biden at the last debate really got under his skin. And he is probably relishing the opportunity to be able to reengage with her. We saw her in particular surge after that debate after being able to create a couple high-impact moments.

Because so many Democratic voters still don't feel they were a lot of these candidates, they're interested, they just don't really know them. And I think as this sort of top tier starts to break out, it makes it easier for people to be able to get to know the candidates, go deep on them, start to make decisions because part of the season it has been so influx, isn't any particular thing that's been happening, it is voters going around kicking the tire.

KING: And trying to get to know some of the newer candidates, Biden, Sanders, much more familiar faces.

To reinforce your point there, NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll asked which most impressed, 47 percent of Democrats said Harris, 32 percent says Warren. Your issue, if you are Joe Biden, 15 percent said they were impressed

by Joe Biden. Your calling card is I'm the guy you want next to Donald Trump, you can't place fourth among Democrats as impressive in the debates and make the case that you are the strongest guy to go against Donald Trump.

RAJU: Yes, no question. He's going to have to sharpen his performance from last time. I mean, his voters, Democratic voters undoubtedly had -- were shaken by his performance last time. But since he's a well-known commodity, if he turns around, able to fend off attacks prepared as he said he is going to be, but also being able to punch back effectively.

That could stabilize his campaign and prevent any real significant erosion in his support.


But if he delivers that unsteady performance and when he gets attacked, which he will, and gets into a long laundry list of his accomplishments and meandering response, that's going to unnerve a number of Democrats when they look at is he really the best person to take on Trump.

KING: The pressure on him to stop that slide is enormous.

What about night one? Sanders and Warren in the middle. And again a number of the moderates on stage. So I suspect they will be allies to a degree saying we're right. The country is ready for Medicare for all. The country is ready for the Green New Deal. The country is ready for free college which -- that's an untested proposition in a national election but that is their position.

But Warren has emerged as a giant threat to Sanders, who thinks he's the movement leader. Will there be fireworks here. They say they're friends but he looked mad. She didn't endorse him in 2016.

I just want to show you. This is the CNN University of New Hampshire poll just this past week. Look at this here. 40 percent of the vote in New Hampshire between these two candidates. Both are the leading contenders when people say second choice.

Maybe this debate won't be this fight but for this race to be settled this Warren/Sanders fight has to happen eventually, right?

ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: It does. And I think part of what is interesting though to me is as similar as they are ideologically, they don't always -- and that poll shows that they seem to be second choice of each other -- but they don't always seem to pull from the same voters so far. I know it's early.

So what's interesting to me is ideologically you're right, they are very similar. But Elizabeth Warren seems to pull more from a sort of a more establishment wing of the Democratic Party at this point, which is really interesting because I don't know that ideologically that's where everyone thinks her opinions seem to align. She seems to be winning over more and more even of the sort of finance sector crowd you have been hearing, which given her policies is really, really interesting. And I wonder if that is sort of quirk of being this early on in the election cycle.

But as much as they will be battling it out with each other, it will be interesting to see whether or not Elizabeth Warren is sort of even pushed further to the left on issues than she's comfortable with.


ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, I think this is a high-stakes debate for Sanders because he didn't make many waves in the last debate. And from -- certainly from the perspective of the Trump campaign, while Joe Biden may have seemed like the biggest loser, they thought Bernie Sanders lost a lot of ground simply because he didn't make many headlines.

And now, going head to head with Elizabeth Warren, I think he needs to generate some headlines both -- you know, aggress in some sort of way. Or if he comes out of two debates with not too many headlines, that's not great for him.

KING: I was going to show you the "Sunday New York Times Magazine", Pete Buttigieg on the cover. I would also say there's a lot of pressure on Mayor Pete in the sense that he was surprise early candidate in the race.

He shot up in the polls. He's dropped down a little bit and plateaued now. Raised a lot of money. He has this power and he's already qualified for the next round of debates.

But his plateau I think would be interesting to see, I'm really looking forward to see what does he view as his play in debates round two.

We will come back to this a little bit later ahead as I noted. More on the 2020 Democrats and their healthcare divide.

But next -- Mueller time. The special counsel testifies this week and it could reset the math in the Democrats' impeachment debate.


KING: Special counsel Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill this week and it could impact the impeachment math in the Democratic House.

We got a glimpse of the current state of play this past week. Democrat Al Green forcing a vote on an impeachment resolution. It was tabled, meaning it failed on a lopsided vote 332-95. But look at the breakdown among Democrats -- that's what you want to watch. 137 voted to kill the impeachment proposal. But 95 Democrats voted for it.

Mueller says his testimony will be limited to what is in his nearly 400-page plus report -- I'm sorry. But hearing it from the veteran prosecutor could be a lot more powerful than reading ore seeing news accounts about it. At least that's the Democrats' big bet.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: If the President and the Attorney General and the right wing media have been lying about what was in the Mueller report -- no collusion, no obstruction -- which is simply not true. We have to show the American people what was there.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: So you want him to tell you the report in front of the cameras and the American people.

NADLER: To a large extent. Hopefully it will go a little further. But yes.

HAYES: Do you think you can get him outside the four corners of the report>

NADLER: I don't know.


KING: It's been interesting watching Democrats lower expectations but this could increase pressure for impeachment.

RAJU: Yes, it could. And I think you probably will see more Democrats call for an impeachment inquiry no matter what Bob Mueller says on Wednesday. Some have been holding back, waiting for that to exactly happen.

The 95 votes on this impeachment resolution for a rogue resolution that actually had nothing to do with obstruction of justice but had to do with the President, according to Al Green, being a racist had 95 votes. There are actually many more Democrats who support that.

The Democrats have decided they want to limit the questions, limit the areas of focus to five potential obstruction cases of justice. Because they think that is what is going to be able to -- the American public will really be able to understand what they agree is the most egregious parts of the report.

Instead of going into every single detail of the report, they believe just focusing on those areas and the Russian interference part as well as specific areas -- whether that actually shifts public opinion though, that's a completely different question.

KING: It's fascinating to watch. We'll see if they can crack the special council's veneer. He says he wants to stick to the report. It will be an interesting Wednesday. >

Up next, improve Obamacare or ditch it for a government-run program. As the Democrats pick a 2020 candidate -- they must settle a very big family feud.


KING: Health care ranks first when Democratic voters are asked what issues matter most. And health care is the sharpest divide as Democrats pick a candidate and settle the question of how far left the party platform will shift in 2020.

This debate has played out this past week between former Vice President Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Sanders wants a government plan, Medicare for all, mandatory for all.

What the vice president, former vice president would like to do is build on Obamacare. He says he's got a public option on the exchanges and broaden that public option in the exchange program.

Private insurance? Well, Sanders' Medicare for all plan virtually eliminates. Vice President Biden says keep your private insurance if you like it.

How much would it cost? It would cost you nothing under the Sanders plan. There's no premiums, no deductibles and no co-pays. The former vice president said he will have higher subsidies to help those who are struggling with health care cots, working class and middle class Americans to bring down the costs.

Total cost of these plans -- the Sanders Medicare for all plan an estimated $30 trillion to $40 trillion with a t -- trillion dollars over 10 years. Former Vice President Biden says his plan will cost $750 billion with a b over 10 years.

One more question -- how do you pay for it? Senator Sanders says he'd have higher taxes on just about everybody. He makes the point, you pay higher taxes but you would essentially get your money back because no more co-pays, no more insurance premiums. Former Vice President says you can do this just by raising taxes on the rich.

Now if you look at Democratic voters, on the surface Senator Sanders has the high ground, if you will. More than half in this Kaiser health poll strongly favor Medicare for all. Another 26 percent say they somewhat favor Medicare for all. So on the surface, Senator Sanders carrying the debate.

But look more closely. Kaiser also asked, to get a sense of how much Democrats understand this. 76 percent of Democrats understand everybody would have coverage under Medicare for all. 71 percent understand taxes would increase for most people.

[08:45:01] But only 42 percent understand that doctors and hospitals would be paid less and this is critical as we head into the debates next week. Only 25 percent understand that if you have Medicare for all you can't keep your employer-provided health program.

Sanders and Biden will not be on the same debate stage next week but this debate over health care played out all this week.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The system that Joe and others are trying to prop up is the most wasteful, bureaucratic and expensive system on earth. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare goes away, as you

know it. All the Medicare you have is gone. It's a new Medicare system.

SANDERS: Medicare for seniors -- what do you think -- will end. I mean that is just obviously absurd situation.

BIDEN: He says, no, you can't have any private insurance if you're there. It's a legitimate position to take. I just disagree with it.


KING: This is number one, the defining issue in the race in terms of the divide -- health care. But also it is Exhibit A, the vehicle for the bigger debate over how far can the Democrats go to the left and still compete in a national election.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Yes. And it's interesting that this has become the issue that is the focus of most disagreement. It was Biden who really started this attack this week. That was the issue that he chose to come out on and to stake his first real difference with the other candidates with senator Sanders specifically.

There is a big lane in the Democratic primary for a moderate. But the question is do Democratic voters -- is Joe Biden that person, first of all? And will Democratic voters be convinced by the kind of moderation that he is pitching and the kind of criticism that he has of senator Sanders and others who are further to the left.

And then the hand wringing always, the classic, you know, bed-wetting Democrats is what if the candidate we end up with isn't Joe Biden and Biden is the one who has attacked them and characterized their policies in this way, how does that affect the eventual nomination?

RAJU: And you know, Democrats won 2018, a big part of the midterm by arguing about health care. The concern among some Democrats is you may lose that as an issue if you go too far to the left, if you embrace things that the public may not agree with, such as getting rid of private insurance.

And I think that's one reason why we have seen Kamala Harris really trip up on that question, whether she supports it or not. That's going to be a big general election issue for whoever comes up in the primary.

KING: Two governors in the state's Trump flipped -- the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin telling our Van Jones this past week without saying on tape (ph) -- (INAUDIBLE) but they're saying Biden's right.


GOV. TONY EVERS (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I think the fear is around being pragmatic at the end of the day. I think the people in Wisconsin want to see issues resolved and pragmatism I think will carry the day.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Would you wipe out private health insurance companies?


JONES: You would not. You would not. Why not.

GOV. TOM WOLF (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Because I think that's one way to give people choices. We should be working toward universal health care. We shouldn't be defining exactly how people get it.


KING: Privatism sometimes works in a general election setting. It's a really hard bumper sticker in a primary.

KHALID: And (INAUDIBLE) actually covering Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin during the midterms and he did talk a lot about expanding health for everything. This is for Democrats that tricky conversation of what exactly do you mean when you talk about Medicare for all. Because a lot of people want to expand its coverage and I would argue, you know, even sort of moderate Democrats could argue even some within the Republican Party want. I mean expanded coverage. I don't know that Democrats have done a really great job of defining what they mean by Medicare for all. Nor do I think all the candidates are in agreement on that.

KING: Right. Candidates have a divide on that as well but that's how we have debates. And we will see if they continue to evolve their positions as we go, including debates next week right here.

Our reporters share from their notebooks including how President Trump isn't done tormenting Jeff Sessions just yet.


KING: Let head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.


JOHNSON: I'm watching the August 1st deadline that's when the State Department will decide whether to issue another set of waivers for Iran's civil nuclear program. The State Department continued issuing these waivers for international cooperation on this program that allows for international projects on this program.

And there is a lot of pressure from Iran hawks inside the administration for the administration to stop issuing these waivers. If it does, that will further inflame tensions between the two nations. It's basically these waivers are the last remnants of the Iran deal that the administration has continued to this point.

KING: Given the tensions this weekend over the seized tankers, those hawks I think might have a stronger case.


RAJU: John -- top Republican officials tell me they don't expect Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general and former Senator to run for his old senate seat in Alabama next year. And there is one reason why -- perhaps that President Trump does not want him to run again. He actually had a conversation with Richard Shelby who told me last week that the President told him he's quote "not on board" and that Shelby said to him that you're -- he would be a formidable candidate.

Of course, the President is still angry about Sessions as attorney general, his recusal from overseeing the Russian investigation which led to the special counsel's appointment which the President blames for all of his political problems but the paramount concerns for Republicans is getting the seat back that is now controlled by Democrats.

Roy Moore the Republican candidate who's been running in the primary, Republicans are doing everything they can to prevent him from running. They believe that candidates who are running could still beat Moore but perhaps if Sessions were to run, that could change the calculus. But the President, as we know, harbors grudges.

KING: Deep grudges. Deep, deep, deep, deep grudges.


KHALID: Yes. So I'm going to be headed to two different conventions this week that will specifically reach out to African American voters. That's the NAACP convention and then the Urban League. One is in Detroit. The other is in Indianapolis.

And that really interests me because I think there's been a lot of talk about how Democrats in 2020 could win back the heartland, win back some of those midwestern states.

And one part of that equation is about actually boosting African American turnout that wasn't there in 2016. Two candidates in particular I'm very curious to see how they do are Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. I think both of them there are some questions how much they can reach out to African American voters and that will be really important for any Democrat to take that off -- obviously for any Democrat in 2020.

KING: An interesting week before we get to the interesting debates.


[08:54:59] BALL: Well, for all the drama we've been covering on Capitol Hill, the biggest challenge facing Nancy Pelosi has always been not how she handles the squad or impeachment or Mueller, no. it's can she and but can she get a budget deal that funds the government and raises the debt ceiling working with the White House and Congress Republicans. This is a real high-wire act. She's been talking to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at least once a day, multiple times some days day, hearing some optimism on both sides. But this coming week is the moment of truth.

They're trying to get it past the house this week. The potential legislation hasn't yet been agreed to much less unveiled. And then it's a question of can Pelosi get her caucus on board with something that congressional Republicans need some kind of White House buy in. But of course, the biggest question mark always is will the President go along or will he roll it up at the last minute as he has end up at the last minute as he is wont to do?

KING: Very fun week ahead when you have all this stuff.

I'll going to close with a very harsh reality check for those struggling at the bottom of the Democratic pack. The CNN debates next week are a cross roads, perhaps a chance for a new beginning or perhaps the beginning of the end.

Let's take a look at this as you go through. Only six candidates -- Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, Harris and O'Rourke are already qualified for the next round of debates. That's in September.

Three others are within striking distance of making that threshold. Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro.

The others still well short of the criteria so we could go from 20 to 10 or fewer candidates on the debate stage and while some of those struggling contenders vow to fight on regardless, fundraising will become even more difficult for those excluded from debates. It is inevitable the field will shrink, some soon and perhaps significantly by Labor Day.

That's it for Inside Politics. Hope you can catch us on weekdays as well. We're ere at noon Eastern. Again a very busy week ahead. Come join us.

Up next, don't go anywhere, STATE OF THE UNION, Dana Bash fills in for Jake this week. Her guests include the Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker and Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.