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Former Congressman John Delaney Arrives for CNN Debate; Michigan Dems Not Optimistic About Beating Trump; Mayor Pete Buttigieg Arrives to CNN Democratic Debate; Trump Nominee Denies Sex Assault Allegations at Hearing; Community Gathers to Remember 3 Victims of Gilroy Attack. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 30, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We are just a couple hours away from the big night, the walk-throughs at the debate site here, the Detroit historic Fox Theater continued this afternoon, taking you to it right now, John Delaney, the former Congressman from Maryland.

For the candidates struggling to raise money and floundering a bit more in the polls, these CNN debates this evening really could be their last bit of fight, their last rasp. So Lisa Lerer is a national political reporter with the "New York Times". She is a CNN political analyst. So a pleasure to get to talk to you in person. Listen, there's obviously been a ton of focus on those top-tier candidates for this evening. Centerstage you have Warren and Sanders. I want to talk about those who are flanking them. Right. Buttigieg, O'Rourke, Klobuchar and others. What will you be watching?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well this is definitely a make or break moment. The next debate comes in September, and the qualifications to get in are much higher. So this is really the last chance that these candidates have to make an impression in front of a big national audience. And they saw that was successful last time around for Julian Castro, who of course, got a huge boost of money and energy and all kinds of momentum out of his performance.

So one dynamic I'm going to be watching is former Congressman O'Rourke, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. You know, both of -- these are two people who really entered the race with a ton of energy and ton of momentum but didn't really make an impression in the last debate, in the way that perhaps they needed to, particularly in the case of Mr. O'Rourke. He really has seen the momentum for his campaign peter out. He's gotten stuck sort of in the lower part of the polls. Not quite the 1 percent range, but certainly not a rising tide. So he needs to do something to turn around his fortunes.

And I think Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he's raised a ton of money. He's certainly has the money to continue. The question is whether he's lost some of the energy that surrounded his race really a month or two ago.

BALDWIN: So we've had all this smart analysis. But one of the things I'm most in favor of is just listening to the voters. Right. Listening to the voters. And so, Alisyn Camerota, she spoke with a number of undecided Michigan voters here to discuss this crop of candidates. And I want to you take close attention because it's really interesting the debate over whether pragmatics, right, more moderate candidates or more progressive should lead the Democratic Party. So here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what the country needs now and probably for the next few decades is somebody who can right the ship, because the waters are going to get stormier. They're going to get choppier, and the idea of simply replacing one person who's rocking the boat with a person who's going to rock the boat on the other side is probably not wise at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of people do support Joe Biden like my friend here, thinking that because he's moderate that he'll appeal to most people. But I think we've seen from the Republican Party that somebody who wasn't moderate, somebody who was very far right changing things, trying to change the country. I think to battle against that we need somebody who's very far left and really supports radical change.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR NEW DAY: How many of you -- show of hands -- are optimistic that a Democrat will win in 2020?

Why don't you think that you have better chances in 2020?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that a blind optimism is how we got Trump. People didn't vote. They needed to turnout because they assumed Trump would lose. We really need a candidate that is going to increase Democratic turnout, and not a candidate that's going to convince Trump voters to vote for them. Because it's not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm usually optimistic about a lot of things but I'm really afraid of this next election. I think a lot of this coming up today is that the person who's elected the Democratic nominee, I think that he will go too moderate to think that he's going to get a big base of voters. And while doing that, lose a lot of the people that would have voted for a person that was more passionate, more liberal, more progressive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: I mean, Lisa, these are Democrats, and you saw that one person raise their hand. Absolutely optimistic that a Democrat would beat Trump.

LERER: Well I the entire Democratic Party, the electorate, all the voters are infected with a major case of PTSD. Or maybe Post-election disorder. You know, they were very, very shocked by the outcome of 2016. There's really been no sort of grand resolution on what is actually happened to the party. Why Democrats lost, and there's two theories of the case. One is that they failed to motivate the base. The base of their party, you know, women, voters of color, liberal voters in places like Detroit where we are now. And the other theory is that they lost white working-class voters to President Trump.

[15:35:04] So that electability -- that unresolved electability question is what we see playing out among those voters. I also think it is about ideology. It comes back like most things in politics these days to President Trump. Right. There are Democrats who think that President Trump is an aberration, and after this politics sort of snaps back into some sense of what it was before. And they're sort of more in favor of more incremental change. And there are candidates and voters like Bernie Sanders, like Elizabeth Warren -- who will be on the station night -- who think, no, Trump blew up the system and Democrats as a result also need to kind of blow up the system and go for bigger change.

BALDWIN: Bold, far left.

LERER: Bold, exactly. And so that's part of the debate that will play out tonight.

It will be the question we will be discussing in the next several months. Lisa Lerer, pleasure. Thank you very much. Enjoy this debate this evening.

Coming up next, the general nominated to be the military's second highest officer defends himself against allegations of sexual assault at a Senate hearing today. The woman who accused him is calling it all a political spectacle. We will explain what happened.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right, you see the countdown clock on your screen, four hours and 19 minutes until the big show. Debate night number one here in Detroit. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being with me.

It's been fun all afternoon because we've been getting these sneak peeks of all these various candidates popping up on stage. Getting their walk-throughs. We can't see him, but I can assure you that the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is just off stage about to get his walk-through there at the historic Fox theater behind me. So as we've been watching the various candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is there, and ready to roll ahead of his performance this evening which all begins at 8:00 Eastern. He wants to broaden his support after a strong spring showing that has now stalled a bit in the polls.

And he's not the only one hoping for obviously a breakout moment on stage tonight. What do these candidates need to do? I get to talk to a guy who knows a thing or two about politics and debating. Former Clinton White House secretary and CNN political commentator, Joe Lockhart, is with me to talk me through all of this. And so, let's just begin running through a bunch of your notes. Starting with center stage you have Senator Elizabeth Warren. What's your advice? What are your thoughts on her?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well there's going to be a really interesting dynamic between Warren and Sanders. I think Warren has moved ahead of Sanders in the polls. So I expect that she's going to stay positive. She's going to talk about her programs. Her trademark is, I've got a plan for that.

BALDWIN: Of course.

LOCKHART: And in some ways just ignore Senator Sanders and not try to take him on or try to differentiate.

BALDWIN: Do you think that's what she should do?

LOCKHART: I think that's what she should do. She's now moved past him and I think, you know, she's taken much of his support. On the flip side of that --

BALDWIN: What does he do?

LOCKHART: Sanders has got to engage her in some way. He's got to find a way to show that he was there first. He's a true revolutionary.

BALDWIN: He's the OG.

LOCKHART: If you look the at the polling. Warren supporters are much more pragmatic. They want someone who can beat Trump. Sanders supporters are very much ideologically driven. So I expect him -- that he's going to have to engage her on questioning her commitment on some of these issues and whether she's really a revolutionary progressive or a Democratic socialist. It's a very, very hard thing for him to do. He's got the toughest challenge tonight, I think.

BALDWIN: OK, so will watch for him to have some sharp elbows with regard to Senator Warren to his right. What about Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Right. So there he is, he's up on the stage, getting his walk-through. He knows about the rules of the road ahead of tonight. The South Bend Mayor, obviously he had a huge -- he's loved by many. He's raised a lot of money, but still polling wise, a little lackluster.

LOCKHART: Yes, I don't think he's going to survive. He's going to make it to the next debate. He's raised a lot of money so he's viable. So I don't think there's an enormous amount of pressure on him.

BALDWIN: So what does he need to do?

LOCKHART: I think he needs to demonstrate that he has a positive vision. That he's tough enough. He'll probably take a shot at Trump at some point like he's done in some of that lead up interviews. But I think he's got to show himself to be a more moderate and younger and more dynamic alternative to Sanders and Warren who he will be near. Again, he's generationally, you know, it's night and day between those two, and he's -- he strikes me as the guy who's the reasonable candidate. You know, there's no flair or anything. So again, I don't think he's got a lot of pressure on tonight. I think it's an opportunity. But I don't expect that this will be a breakout moment for him.

BALDWIN: What about Senator Amy Klobuchar? And why do you think she hasn't resonated as much?

LOCKHART: Well I think, you know, she does. This is a make or break night for her, I think. One of the interesting things will be as Sanders and Warren kind of dominate with their star power and their standing in the polls. There is an opening for a Democratic to stand up tonight and it may be Amy Klobuchar and say, hey guys, we can't get elected on that platform. We can't pay for this. This is all pie-in- the-sky. I'm the practical person who can tell you, I can do "Medicare for All" this way, and I can get it through Congress. I can do immigration reform and get it through Congress. More importantly, I can take Trump on and beat him. And say that I -- we worry if we go too far left, we can't beat Trump.

[15:45:00] And that's the big opening I think for Klobuchar and some of the others too.

BALDWIN: Last, quick, quick, quick. Of all the lower tier, is there any one of them that gets you excited, could have a moment tonight?

LOCKHART: Let's talk about the one that wasn't there last time which is Governor Bullock. The reason I'm looking at Bullock, is because Hickenlooper had this opportunity in the first debate to be that moderate alternative. To be that person who says, I can actually get it done. And it didn't catch. So I think a lot of people will be looking at Governor Bullock to see if he can fill that role. There's not a lot of competition there.

BALDWIN: Joe Lockhart, thank you very much.

LOCKHART: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you.

Now to Capitol Hill and the general who President Trump wants to be his number two at the Pentagon. Today he denied sexual misconduct allegations during his Senate confirmation hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOHN HYTEN, NOMINEE FOR VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: As I sit here today, as has been discussed, I'm intensely aware of the allegations made against me concerning one of the most serious problems we have in the military, sexual assault.

It has been a painful time for me and my family. But I want to state to you and to the American people in the strongest possible terms that these allegations are false. There were -- there was a very extensive thorough investigation that Dr. Wilson described which revealed the truth, nothing happened ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The colonel on heightened staff alleges that he assaulted her in a California hotel room in 2017. Army Colonel Kathryn Spletstoser are told the same committee last week that her former boss Hyten had subjected her to a series of unwanted sexual advances. She told "The New York Times" she had a moral responsibility to come forward. So let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. And so, we know this confirmation hearing it's being compared to that of current Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Will this be a tough fight for him?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're going to have to see over the coming days how it all lines up. Because General Hyten a very respected four-star adamant there as you saw, that nothing ever happened. The colonel who is a junior officer on his staff -- junior to him of course -- came out after the hearing and spoke to reporters. Have a quick listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. KATHRYN SPLETSTOSER, ACCUSES GEN. HYTEN OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: What we saw in there today was a political spectacle done at the expense of an innocent victim who has never lied on anything. Who has a perfect and unblemished record and who General Hyten himself stated in the evaluation he gave me. My ethics and integrity are above reproach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Now, there's a long tale here that emerged over several months of her service there. She was removed for being a toxic leader. There were numerous complaints that she made about various people. But the real question of course is, was she sexually assaulted, was she sexually harassed.

General Hyten got critical support today from Arizona Senator, Martha McSally. Herself a survivor of sexual assault. She was adamant in her support for him. She said after reviewing all the evidence, she did not believe that anything happened, that she believed General Hyten's view. However, other Senators, not so sure. We did not see Elizabeth Warren at the hearing today, of course, she will be on the stage in Detroit. She has issued a statement saying she will not likely support General Hyten. So we'll have to see how the votes line up -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll watch it with you, Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

We learned the names today of the other two young people killed in the shooting at the California garlic festival. And a cousin of one of the victims is speaking out with a powerful message about gun violence. Don't miss it.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The community of Gilroy California, coming together to remember the three young people killed in Sunday's shooting at a food festival. Six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar and 25-year-old Trevor Irby. Today the youngest victim's cousin is speaking out about the pain and hurt of losing a family member to gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSHUA GUICHO, 6-YEAR-OLD COUSIN KILLED IN FESTIVAL SHOOTING: I remember when my mom told me that my Stephen passed away, while I was with my cousins and my mom was in the hospital, and so was my other friend. I couldn't tell my other cousins that he passed away. I had to hold it to myself for a day. So I convinced myself so hard that Stephen was still alive, kicking. That I would see him every Christmas as usual, pick out his outfit with my mom. I never thought any of my cousins would pass away to gun violence.

[15:55:04] I want everyone to stand strong and stand against gun violence. This isn't right. Especially for such a little boy to pass away like this. Is this really -- does this really have to happen for the whole world to know that gun violence is very bad? This is so unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Seven people are still recovering from their wounds in local hospitals. Police are still investigating a motive.

We are here in Detroit. We are closer and closer to CNN debate this evening. Chris Cuomo and Wolf Blitzer are standing by. One of the candidates on tonight's stage will be join them. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN's special live coverage.

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