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Analysts Examine Upcoming Debate Among Democratic Presidential Candidates. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All they want to do is win.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, they want to beat Donald Trump. And as you heard, half of them believe only a progressive can do that, somebody who will excite and energize the base, and the other half believe only Joe Biden, somebody with a proven track record. So there you are.

BERMAN: After 2016 they're not going to take anything for granted.

Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN Newsroom with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, just 12 hours away now from the big CNN debate. It is tonight. NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is a special day, Tuesday, July 30th, 8:00 in the east. We are live here in Detroit. Look at the crowd.

CAMEROTA: They're a lot louder than their numbers represent. When I just saw how many numbers there are, those guys have been making noise since 5:00 a.m.

BERMAN: And I can tell you from experience, getting up early is not easy. These are passionate supporters of the candidates and they've been here for hours. The stage is set for tonight for this Democratic debate. The first of the two high stakes moments here on CNN. This is how it's going to work. The field is split into two groups of ten. Tonight, as you can see on the screen, really the spotlight will be on Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, seen as the two leading progressives in this race. They will center stage literally. They have mostly avoided direct confrontations. Is that about to change?

CAMEROTA: OK, and then tomorrow night features a rematch of sorts between the frontrunner, former Vice President Biden and Senator Kamala Harris who, of course, you'll remember, skewered Biden on issues of race and bussing the first time around.

So ahead of these debates, there's a new national poll that we want to show you. It shows Biden bouncing back to where he was before the first debate. Biden leads his nearest competitor Elizabeth Warren at the moment by nearly 20 points.

CNN's Athena Jones is live on the debate stage with a preview. Athena, you look beautiful in that lighting in front of that very dramatic stage.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a dramatic night. Good morning, Alisyn. We know this is a major opportunity again for these candidates to introduce themselves to voters and to make their case on the national stage for why they should be president. We've already mentioned the two who will be at center stage, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the progressive candidates. They will be flanked by more moderate candidates, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke.

Who else will be on stage tonight? Amy Klobuchar, Marianne Williamson, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, and Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana. Unlike the Miami debate, these candidates will have a chance to give opening and closing remarks. We'll be watching closely the matchup between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They're friends and they've signaled that they're not likely to go after each other in an aggressive way, but we know that they're going to have to draw out the contrast between themselves so they can win over voters. They're trying to win over pretty much the same block of voters, and we know the moderators will be able to make sure they dry out those contrasts.

They're also going to have to contend with the moderates on stage, Buttigieg and O'Rourke and others who want to show their vision is more practical, more realistic, more pragmatic, less costly, than the proposals being put forth by Sanders and Warren.

And the other question is, what are we going to see from the other candidates, folks like Amy Klobuchar and Montana Governor Steve Bullock who is making her first appearance on the debate stage. Will they have a stand out moment?

Remember this is the last chance for a lot of these candidates to really catch fire and to gain some support in polls and in fundraising to ensure a place on the debate stage in September when the qualifications to make it to that stage get much tougher. So very big night for a lot of folks. We'll see who makes an impression and who makes a lasting one. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Athena, for that preview. And joining us now to discuss it all we have Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and CNN political commentator, also April Ryan, White House correspondent for America Urban Radio Networks and CNN Political Analyst, Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Bakari Sellers, former Democratic South Carolina House member. He has endorsed Senator Kamala Harris. Great to have all of you.

OK, mayor, you know your way around a debate stage. What are you watching for tonight?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One, I wish debates won elections.

(LAUGHTER)

GILLUM: But I do think tonight I think you're not going to see the kind of divisive fireworks you may have anticipated from the last Democratic debate on day two. Senator Harris and -- I'm sorry Bernie Sanders, rather, and Senator Warren are likely not to, in my opinion, take each other in a confrontational way. If there are differences, I think the viewers will be hard stretched to find the nuance in between it.

[08:05:02] CAMEROTA: But is that just their style? I keep hearing their friends. How much stock are we putting in the fact that they're friends?

GILLUM: First of all, friends or not, you ought to be running to win. And my guess is that they're going to run to distinguish themselves from each other, run to show where there may be some differences, where if you're Senator Sanders you want to shore up your base and say there is no alternative to the revolutionary vision that I'm offering. And for Senator Warren, I think she's got to get out and say without apology where she is on the public policy positions of the day, but also not yield any ground on the progressive flank to Senator Sanders. And I think that's probably the matchup that will be most interesting, that dance that they'll have to do tonight.

BERMAN: As you move out from the center, from center of the stage, not center of the political spectrum, they're literally standing at the center of the stage, you have Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, April. What do you think they will be trying to do?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They're going to try to knock down Senator Sanders and Senator Warren. They have to come out stronger than they have. Beto O'Rourke may have the money but he does not have the numbers as of yet. This is the time to show up and show out. Beto O'Rourke has got to show he's strong. I was here with Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg and all the top tier candidates just last week talking about urban issues at the NAACP presidential forum, and they have to come out and stand out. They have to fight Elizabeth Warren. They have to fight against Bernie Sanders. End of story. They have got to show I am worthy, I am going to make that next round. And this is do or die tonight.

CAMEROTA: Angela, what are you watching for?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In the infamous words of a famous philosopher, Snoop Dogg, there's a song called "What's My Name" off his first album, and I think there are so many other folks on the fringe who many of us don't know who they stand for, who they are. Like who are the rest of the people on the stage? And so tonight is really that opportunity for them to the demonstrate who they are, not only the fact they can take on the other Democrats in the primary strongly, but they can also stand up against a president who regularly uses a platform on Twitter and the bully pulpit from the White House to fight against what we all know is right. And so they have that great opportunity tonight and tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Should they drop it like it's hot?

(LAUGHTER) RYE: It's still NEW DAY Alisyn.

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: But DJ Khaled said all I do is win, win, win.

RYE: What happened? I just one famous --

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: You all throw your hands up and they stay there, and they stay there.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right, Bakari Sellers You have supported Senator Kamala Harris. She came out with her Medicare for all plan yesterday. The timing of it is interesting because she did it right before these debates. The positioning is interesting. It does not do away with private insurance exactly, and it positions itself slightly to the right of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and maybe slightly to the left of Joe Biden. Do you anticipate that Warren and Sanders will go after that today?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I do. I think that Warren and Sanders will be distinguishing themselves with not only Beto Pete on the stage tonight but also Harris and Biden tomorrow night. I don't anticipate any fireworks between Warren and Sanders. I Just don't think that they will.

But just to talk about tonight momentarily, I do think there are going to be more fireworks or attempted fireworks than people can imagine. I think that some of those individuals on the stage like Steve Bullock are going to attack the progressive movement within our party and show that they are the moderate choice and can win or can find the center lane.

Also, the other thing is, while we're having these conversations about race and what the president is doing every day, it's going to be very interesting to see the stage of individuals that lacks diversity.

BERMAN: It's a wider group tonight.

SELLERS: It's actually an all white group.

BERMAN: It's whiter.

SELLERS: It's going to be interesting to see, because we know that Bernie Sanders, we know that Elizabeth Warren, we know that Pete and Beto have the ability to tackle these issues of race. I'm very interested to see what the other six do, because I think it's indicative of our party that only really about 30 or 40 percent of the white voters actually know how to tackle or frame these issues of race. So I'm looking to see what the others do, and those that claim that moderate mantle because we're all going to have to be on the same page. RYE: Really quick on that, sorry, really quick, Beto, what's

interesting about that is Beto's guests tonight are the football players who kneeled during the National Anthem modeling after Colin Kaepernick. So he I think recognizes that and is try to make up for that shortcoming.

RYAN: And going to that, it's not just about being white. It's about the message. And this is not necessarily politics. This is about the heart. After you have laws, after you legislate, what's left? And now the heart issue, again, going back to the NAACP last week, I asked a couple of the candidates, look, if you happened to be the mayor of New York City, and de Blasio will be there tonight, what would you have done? Would you have charged the Officer Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner?

[08:10:02] And one candidate, Amy Klobuchar, the crowd got upset with her at the NAACP. She said I would have left that to the federal government. And people are like wait a minute.

RYE: Right now?

RYAN: Yes, that's what she said. She said that last week, and that was a telling statement. So it's not about racist. It's about a heart issue. It's about what is fair, what is right, what is equitable in the Trump era.

GILLUM: I would also, though, caution the candidates tonight on the issue of race to come off authentically and not to look as if you're pandering one way or another. Sometimes when you're in those spaces, particularly what we'll see tonight, which will be an all white stage, there may be some inclination to want to out-black the next person onstage. And you've got to be careful how that lands with, frankly, black viewers, but also every day Americans. Is it believable? Is it grounded in something that is a much more deeper racial analysis rather than the quick talking points that are throwaways that people won't believe.

RYE: It's also how they say it. I'm sorry, Alisyn, one last thing.

CAMEROTA: No, go on.

RYE: It's also how they say it, to Andrew's point. During the Essence Festival Pete Buttigieg had an opportunity to present to the crowd. And I was about to go on stage, and I'm like, OK, he sounds real Barack Obama-esque right now. And I just heard you talking yesterday, you're a completely different person right now.

RYAN: Kamala Harris last week said something, and you remember that. I couldn't hear one of her statements. And she said say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud. I said OK. And the crowd, they felt it. And you have to be very careful how you come at a time of dis-ease in this nation over race with black people, brown people, and Native Americans.

GILLUM: But you also, because I keep looking down, so pardon my eyes, because I have to remember who's on the stage. (LAUGHTER)

GILLUM: And look at the far left, and we do this for a living, and I'm still looking under names to make sure I'm calling out this individual correctly. Jay Inslee, for example -- I just did that because you were here, Angela -- Jay Inslee and all these individuals, they have to tell their story. You cannot go up and there and blend in. Somebody has to stand out.

And listen, we're going to laugh and say this. I do believe that someone who people will be watching because she's become like a cult figure and she's kind of taken over online is Marianne Williamson. Girlfriend, you are so on.

RYE: Girlfriend, that is so 90s.

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: And that comes off as pandering when I hear here. I actually think that she's kind of grounded in what it is that she's saying, and it's coming through. After the first debate much of the online chatter was like who is this Marianne Williamson?

CAMEROTA: She was the most Googled person. I'm glad you brought her up, because there's a lot of interest in her.

SELLERS: There is interest.

CAMEROTA: And so just because she's not a traditional presidential -- people are interested in what she has to say.

GILLUM: All the more to the point that you don't necessarily have to be a person of color to resonate with people.

RYAN: Pete Buttigieg has to resonate tonight, with everything going on in South Bend, people are listening to what he has to say about urban America. You cannot be in Detroit and not deal with issues of urban America, particularly when you have Flint not far from here, you have the tariff issue, you have all of these people being laid off in this community from the big three automakers here in Detroit. There are issues.

And I'm going to tell you something, I hope our colleagues hit it and don't quit it when it comes to urban America.

BERMAN: Out colleagues will do a terrific voter panel there.

RYAN: Yes, they do. Yes, they do.

BERMAN: Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Just one more point I want to make from another one of my colleagues, Alisyn Camerota, terrific voter panel there. It was so interesting at the end when you asked for a show of hands for who feels confident the Democrats will win. Just one of six voters raised their hands there, which gets to the issue I think Democrats are terrified. I think they are living in terror from what happened in 2016. Mayor, it happened to you in Florida. People went in there thinking something was going to happen and it did not turn out this way, and this all has to do with the idea of electability.

RYE: It also has to do with the fact, you're talking about terror from 2016. John, every day I wake up and I realize this is still very much a reality I'm terrified. And so this isn't just about how the election was handled or won in 2016. It also has to do with the reality of what that election has meant for us policy-wise, what it's meant in terms of issue of race and the fact that they've come to the surface in such an ugly way. This is the 400th year since a documented arrival of the first enslaved African. And for us to be talking about race in ways that are not healing is tremendously --

SELLERS: That's also indicative -- that's insane. But that's also indicative of who Democrats are.

BERMAN: Which is?

SELLERS: We are proverbial bedwetters, OK? I don't expect Democrats, six of them, if you ask who's going to win, I don't expect all six to raise their hand. We're just not like that. And so I think that is what you saw. You saw this fear.

And the other thing about Democrats, which you're going to start to see candidates who want to win the race attempt to bridge that -- because you have to bridge the Warren-Sanders wing and you have bring the moderates together.

[08:15:10] You know, Democrats -- the age-old adage is actually so true because we want to fall in love. You know, Republicans just fall in line. You know, we want to make sure -- we have this emotional connection. We want a JFK, we want a Bill Clinton, we want a Barack Obama.

You know, Republicans wants to win at all costs.

(CROSSTALK)

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I know. I know, it's crazy.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But the point I wanted to make sheer is that, unfortunately, everybody in the Democratic Party has become its own analyst as it relates to the election. We're skipping the process trying to get to November and game it out as who's the best to beat Trump, and I'm actually looking for the thermostat of this group of candidates and not just the thermometer.

And I think generally people in this country are sick of the candidate who holds their finger up, sees which way the wind is blowing.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

GILLUM: In some cases, you have to set the agenda. You have to bring people to your side. You have to compel people with the belief that you've got an agenda that's going to move us forward. If you do it timidly, I think we run the risk of losing and yielding the stage of courage and innovation and going big and strong to Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I just want to bring this up -- I just want to bring up in the least surprising tragic news of the day, we found out that the shooter, the mass shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, had some white supremacist postings on his social media. Shocker.

And so, what -- but, Bakari, what I keep hearing people say gee, I hope the racist rhetoric being flown around doesn't lead to violence. It's already happening.

SELLERS: While we're casting aspirations on black and brown people throughout this country, using words like infested, talking about people coming over the borders if they're not seeking better help for their families and treating them as if they're some violent criminals, you don't hear people talk about white male domestic terror in this country. In South Carolina, we lived through Dylann Roof.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's where we met.

SELLERS: I know. And the images of Dylann Roof enveloped in the Confederate flag, that was four years ago. That was 2015 and here we are today, and what has happened is I remind people of Charlottesville all the time, the thing that was about Charlottesville that was so damning is that it wasn't they were yelling these anti-Semitic xenophobic tropes. It was so damning that they didn't wear hoods.

We live in a country right now where it's acceptable, it's acceptable to come out and display your racism. It's acceptable to display your bigotry and hate. And now, you have young people -- we live in a country right now we have cultivated white people now who have more hate in their heart that Bull O'Connor, Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and who are not afraid to show it.

And while we have those individuals like Sheryl Sandberg and the Mark Zuckerberg who do nothing to kind of corral and build frameworks around their sites, you have individuals like Donald Trump who throw gasoline on it, and it is a very combustible mix because wayward white boys right now, right, are going on these deep, dark sites understanding that it's acceptable from their president of the United States, and then families like those families in California are now having to wake up with heartache because somebody did not have the compassion in their heart to understand what it means to love.

RYAN: And this is where the inspiration comes in. We were talking about inspiration verse aspirational versus tangible. At the end of day, when you have issues of race, and former Governor Doug Wilder said this. He said, you know, when you have issues of race on the table and this hatred, it stems to the fact of money. It stems to the fact like I feel like I'm not getting something you're getting.

And there is a dynamic that has been unequal since blacks and browns have been in this nation. We are at the lower end. And when you try to make it equitable, there's a fight now. And I'm going to go back to Bill Clinton. Twenty-two years ago when I

first came to the White House, he had had foresight to understand we are a nation that's browning. And he said, look, you know, a lot of our older Americans, they're not going to get it. You know, they were the ones marching with George Wallace. They're the ones, you know, with strange fruit hanging from the tree, from the lynchings and things of that nature, but we're going to look to our young people. And he had the hope that the young people would get it and change.

That was in the '90s, and now in 2019, our young people are shooting, shooting at the Emmett Till plaque and holding guns because, why?

GILLUM: Well, the president has given license but you know what else? Republicans have also given complicity.

RYAN: Uh-huh.

SELLERS: Amen (ph).

RYE: Silence.

GILLUM: So, while the president speaks these ridiculous offensive things every single day, you still can't get reasonable respectable Republicans to stand up and say this isn't who we are and that we disagree vehemently where the president is.

[08:20:01] They are not equal on all sides.

RYAN: We are not. Preach it.

BERMAN: Thank you all for being here with us.

SELLERS: We need to have this moment every single --

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: All right. It is two big nights they're looking at, ten candidates each night. The second round of Democratic debates begins tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern live from Detroit, only on CNN.

BERMAN: So what do the Democratic candidates need to do to stand out? The head of the Democratic National Committee joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Live pictures from inside the theater where it will all happen in less than 12 hours, the first of the CNN Democratic presidential debates night one, it is coming.

Joining us now to talk about what we will see is Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for being here.

[08:25:00] TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: Great to be with you, John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: Thanks for hosting us here --

PEREZ: It's exciting to be here.

BERMAN: -- in the great city of Detroit.

Look, we are in Detroit. Let's talk about Michigan for a second. We had the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, earlier who floated all roads from the White House run through Michigan. That's true, isn't it?

PEREZ: Well, listen, if we replicate in 2020 what we did in 2018 which is we ran the table in the statewide elections in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that's game, set and match. We have many road maps to 270, and we're competing everywhere.

Arizona is going to be a battleground state. You look at North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, we're competing there. We've made investments there.

As we speak, we have organizers on the ground right now here in Michigan because we won in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin because we were focused on health care. We were focused on the issues people cared about.

Trump wasn't on the ballot but he was on the ballot, and voters resoundingly said we can do better and that's how we elected wonderful people like Gretchen Whitmer and Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania, now Governor Evers in Wisconsin. And we're going to be in Milwaukee in less than a year. We're here today, and we're going to be competing here in Michigan and across the industrial Midwest and elsewhere.

CAMEROTA: So are nights like tonight a nail-biter for you? And you watch everything up fold on the stage, are you thinking please no food fight, please no food fight?

PEREZ: I think -- I have an excitement. I've run for office, I've coached team sports, I continue to coach team sports, my 14th year coming up for at least one of my kids, and I have that same excitement because I think tonight, people are going to see again that we have a deep bench. If people are looking for chair throwing and name- calling, you better turn the channel to Jerry Springer or something else because you're not going to see it here.

CAMEROTA: The first debate, there was an internal squabble that got a lot of press between obviously Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. So that moment, is that good for the Democratic Party?

PEREZ: Here's the deal. Every Democrat running for president wants to make sure everyone thin this country has access to quality affordable health care. Thanks to Democrats, whether it was Barack Obama now or LBJ in the '60s, with Medicare and Medicaid, we're substantially up the mountain and we're going to debate how we get from where we are now to the summit of the mountain. And there are absolutely differences of opinion. Senator Sanders,

Senator warren, you know they have one approach, others share that approach. And there are others who want to build off the Affordable Care Act. That's a legitimate debate we should have, and voters should decide which pathway to universal health care is the pathway they think is best for America, and that's fair game. People will talk about the votes folks took and their record and that's fair game.

What they're not going to do is attack peoples character or --

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: -- engaged in -- you know, we're not going to talk about hand size but health care and the things that matter to people.

BERMAN: The fact is, though, you don't know what what's going to happen, right? There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Just like there is when you're coaching any team. You don't know how they're going to play when they get on the field tonight.

I like Alisyn's question there. Is there anything that makes you nervous about these two nights?

PEREZ: I mean, there will be people who try to take one line and take it out of context afterward. That happens a lot after debates.

I think what people want to get a window to is what's your moral compass? What's your North Star? Are you looking out for me and people like me or are you looking out for the 1 percenters?

I've got an opioid addicted relative, are you going to be looking out for them? What are you doing for them? What are you doing to make sure I don't have to work three jobs?

And that's where I feel proud to be a Democrat because we've been working to make sure everyone has shared prosperity not just the 1 percenters and that's why we won in places like Michigan. I mean, something like 40 percent of Michiganders right now, they can't make ends meet. And you wonder why we won in 2018, is because there are still people struggling.

You know, Barack Obama saved the auto industry, and we now have the highest number of layoffs in the auto industry since the Great Recession. And this a president who promised and I quote there will never be a plant closure on my watch. Well, there's a plant closure two days from now in Warren, Michigan.

CAMEROTA: But what do you think wins? The debate we've been having this morning, and we just sat down with a group of Michigan voters. They are very split on whether this is the moment for pragmatism or progressivism. And they think -- half of them think that only a progressive can stir the base and turn out people and excite college kids to vote, like say Elizabeth Warren. And the other half strongly believe only somebody pragmatic, from the middle, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, can do it and can beat Trump.

So which one do you think?

PEREZ: I think it's a false choice, Alisyn, because I think we can be bold. The Democratic Party has always been bold. I mean, you look at FDR, dreamed of an America where seniors could retire with dignity and broader Social Security.