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DNC Chairman Tom Perez is Interviewed about Politics; Democratic Candidates on Climate Change; Democratic Debates Tonight. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 30, 2019 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: I mean you look at, you know, FDR dreamed of an America where seniors could retire with dignity and broaden Social Security. LBJ -- you know, JFK said we're going to put a man on the moon, and we did that. You look at, Barack Obama said we're -- we're going to pass the Affordable Care Act, the most important addition to our social compact.

And I worked for a guy named Ted Kennedy, and I was proud to do that. And what he taught me is that idealism and pragmatism are never mutually exclusive. And when we're fighting for people's health care, when we're fighting to protect people with pre-existing conditions, I don't know -- I don't know what label you put on that. I call that helping people everywhere. And that's what we're about is making sure -- I want to be part of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party. I want to move the ball forward for the American people.

BERMAN: Right.

Mr. Chairman, Tom Perez, thank you for being here. We all look forward to these Democratic presidential debates.

CAMEROTA: Good to have you.

PEREZ: A pleasure to be with you. And we'll see you early and often here.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Fantastic.

CAMEROTA: We're looking forward to tonight.

OK, meanwhile, a community in mourning gathering to grieve the victims of the food festival mass shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told me he was in critical condition and that they were working on him and then five minutes later they told me that he was dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: We have more from the father of the six-year-old victim, Stephen Romero, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:35:14] BERMAN: The community of Gilroy, California, coming together last night to remember the three young people killed in the shooting at the Garlic Festival there. The families of the young man and two children killed, they're speaking out about their unthinkable loss.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in Gilroy with the latest on this.

And new developments, Dan, in the investigation. What have you learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, John.

We now know there were actually three police officers who swarmed and engaged the suspect within one minute after the shots first rang out. And now authorities are just trying to pin down what caused the shooter to target his own hometown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice over): A community in mourning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And together we are stronger than anything that tries to divide us.

SIMON: Gathering to remember the lives lost in the latest mass shooting in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just saying we're strong, but they're going to say that we are a beacon of hope, that we are that shining light.

SIMON: The attack killed three young people and left at least 12 others injured.

CHIEF SCOT SMITHEE, GILROY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Anytime a life is lost, it's a tragedy. But when it's young people, it's even worse.

SIMON: Among the victims, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, her aunt says she saved a family member's life at the cost of her own. Twenty-five-year- old Trevor Irby, whose grandmother says he was friends with everyone. And the youngest, Stephen Romero, who had just turned six, was excited to start first grade soon.

ALBERTO ROMERO, FATHER OF VICTIM: I couldn't believe what was happening, that what she was saying was a lie, maybe I was dreaming.

SIMON: Authorities are piecing together the gunman's last moves before attacking innocent people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Police identifying the killer as 19-year-old Santino William Legan, saying he used an AK-47 assault-type rifle in the attack legally purchased in Nevada on July 9th. The weapon is banned in California.

SMITHEE: Despite the fact that they were out-gunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect and the event ended very quickly.

SIMON: Local and federal authorities combing through the gunman's family home.

CRAIG FAIR, FBI DEPUTY SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Our preeminent and principle concern at this point is motivation, ideological leanings, was he affiliating with anyone or any group.

SIMON: And digging through his social media, like two Instagram posts in a now deleted account under the suspect's name show a picture of the festival, another of this high fire danger sign with a caption praising a book described as a white supremacist text.

FAIR: We are currently undertaking social media scrubs, as well as assessing information that's derived from other interviews and investigative techniques.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, investigators are still trying to determine if, in fact, there is a second suspect and they're asking for the public's help. They're asking if you have any photos or videos that could be helpful in the investigation to upload those files directly to the FBI or contact the Gilroy Police Department.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Dan Simon for us in Gilroy. An important message there, Dan.

And we want to remember the victims, two of them children. Our hearts go out to their families.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:41:49] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news right now. Police are investigating a shooting at a Wal-Mart store in South Haven, Mississippi. You can see the aftermath there with all the emergency responding vehicles. This is just south of Memphis.

CNN affiliate WMC is live at the scene. There's a massive police presence there trying to figure out what happened. At this hour it's unclear if anyone has been killed. Obviously we're staying on this story. We will keep you updated as soon as we learn more.

BERMAN: All right, we are here in Detroit ahead of tonight's first big CNN Democratic presidential debate. Climate change, it loomed large the last time the candidates went head to head. And recent polls show the issue is a top priority for Democratic voters heading into 2020.

So what are the candidates planning to do about it?

CNN's Bill Weir breaks down their plans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every leading Democrat for president agrees --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a simple question, what is the biggest threat to -- what is -- who is the geopolitical threat to the United States?

WEIR: To save life as we know it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

Senator Booker?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nuclear proliferation and climate change.

WEIR: America must join her allies to fight world war c.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I don't even call it climate change, it's a climate crisis.

WEIR: All of them say the U.S. should rejoin the Paris accords, but few have detailed exactly how they would stop humanity from cooking itself on fossil fuel. Less than half the field has put out a comprehensive climate plan and most of those are thin. But the first came from Beto O'Rourke.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are announcing the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States.

WEIR: To run against Ted Cruz for Senate last year, he took individual donations from oil and gas executive, but he swore off their money this time and now vows to spend $5 trillion to get America off of oil and gas. He favors essentially outlawing carbon pollution by 2050, while others like Kirsten Gillibrand prefer a carbon tax. She'd have polluters pay a stiff $52 for each ton burned and would use the money on a national energy transition.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to use innovation, entrepreneurialism and new technologies for wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biofuels.

WEIR: But Pete Buttigieg and John Delany would pass carbon tax money directly to you.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The greatest challenges we face in the future will be over technology, intellectual property, clean energy, a warming planet.

WEIR: Joe Biden caught grief from climate hawks for floating a middle ground approach. And while his $1.7 trillion plan is vague, he has Obama's green legacy to run on.

Elizabeth Warren is in for $2 trillion and wants to start the fight by forcing corporations to report exactly how much damage they're doing to the planet and then use that data to keep lobbyists and lawmakers honest.

WARREN: It's 25 years of corruption in Washington that we're paying for now.

WEIR: Cory Booker is a rare fan of nuclear energy. And like fellow Senator Kamala Harris often emphasizes environmental justice for those poor communities already being hit the hardest. But the most detailed plan by far comes from Jay Inslee.

[08:45:13] GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Other candidates might put it on their to-do list, but that just does not cut it.

WEIR: The Washington governor would spend $9 trillion, create a GI bill for displaced miners and frackers, and force every new car to be 100 percent zero emission by 2030. To him, everything on the president's desk, from the economy, to health, to national defense, is a climate issue.

INSLEE: We can't, you know, tell China to solve the problem if we refuse to. We need to inspire them to act, and the rest of the world, and not give them an excuse for inaction.

WEIR: Bernie Sanders has yet to release a detailed climate plan, surprising given his decades old passion for the topic. He is a leading proponent of the green new deal, also a plan big on ambition, short on specifics.

But the young activists behind this call to arms are short on patience. The Sunrise Movement wants America off oil and gas 15 years faster than Beto, Inslee and the rest.

For this generation, it's great that the grown-ups on the stage are finally talking about their planet. But if the threat is as bad as they say, the ideas and urgency are just a little too late.

Bill Weir, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEIR: And if it is the greatest problem humanity has ever faced, that goes the same for politicians. John, Alisyn, they have to thread that needle before -- between convincing young people that we are going to radically revolutionize the global economy to save your planet, at the same time convince the blue collar worker in the heartland that we're not going to disrupt your life in the process. We'll see tonight, the next couple nights, how much traction this topic gets.

BERMAN: And this is -- and this is exactly that kind of place where that argument needs to be made here in Detroit, Michigan. Obviously the heart of the rust belt. Bill Weir, thank you very much.

WEIR: You bet.

CAMEROTA: All right, we are less than 12 hours away from CNN's first Democratic debate. We have some enthusiastic supporters of various candidates behind us. They've been out --

BERMAN: I think yours. They've been mostly chanting for you.

CAMEROTA: Well, if called, I will run. And I may announce that tonight.

Who has the most at stake? "The Bottom Line," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:51:40] CAMEROTA: OK, this is the stage where it will all happen tonight. What is it, you ask? The Democratic debate. But exactly what will happen? That is the open question. And that's why we get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's political director David Chalian.

David, great to have you.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Thank you. Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: We have talked a lot about the matchup between Warren and Sanders.

CHALIAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Tell us something we don't know, OK? What are you going to be looking at beyond that matchup?

CHALIAN: Well, as you know, those two in the center of the stage agree on a lot. But what is -- what the dynamic that I think is going to be on display tonight, we're talking a lot about, oh, its moderates versus the progressives. But it's so much for than that.

There is a larger debate happening inside the Democratic Party right now. A real concern among some more centrist Democrats and establishment Democrats that the party is moving too far left, that they're chasing Twitter headlines instead of where the majority of the American people may be. That concern exists in certain circles and I think tonight there is going to be this, I would imagine, assertion from folks who are not in the center of the stage, who are more moderate, to try and make that case and appeal to that sensibility, that concern in some corners of the party that the policies that Warren and Sanders particularly are driving forth may be too far left.

I will just say, Warren and Sanders have been fighting against that theory their entire political lives and they know what they have is sort of an energized base of support.

BERMAN: That's a debate I think they would like to have tonight if they're presented that opportunity. And what is interesting in the first round, that no one really stepped into that middle. John Delaney did a little bit. But former Vice President Joe Biden, he didn't really focus on that space that a lot of people think he would try to occupy.

CHALIAN: Yes, I think that's true. And we'll see -- obviously Joe Biden needs a different debate performance this time tomorrow night than he does.

I would be surprised if John Delaney, tonight, it's just a little bit or we have a brand new entrance to the stage tonight that we haven't seen before, Montana Governor Steve Bullock. And this is why, guys, that -- as you know, the DNC is raise -- doubling the polling and fundraising thresholds to get into future debates. For those folks, Bullock, Tim Ryan, Delaney, this is -- this is it. This is going to be their biggest moment to assert themselves and say, I have a reason to stay in this race going forward, or their campaign is going to be short-lived.

BERMAN: Can I quote Eminem again since I haven't done it since the six o'clock hour?

CAMEROTA: Yes. And we are in Detroit.

BERMAN: One shot, one opportunity, right?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CHALIAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

CHALIAN: No, I think that's a -- I would say, like, for Steve Bullock, I think this is the biggest night of his entire political career.

BERMAN: National political career.

CHALIAN: National political career. Exactly. Because the -- it's the big introduction in front of the largest audience. But if you don't hit it, I don't know where you go from here.

CAMEROTA: And I'm sure his campaign has been debating whether or not they just come out and introduce him to be the sort of earnest moderate that he is, or if they are planning a breakout moment the way Kamala Harris' people planned for that moment.

CHALIAN: I'm sure they're planning -- I'm sure they're doing a bit of both and they're --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: I have to say, to me there are two people not on the stage that will absolutely be huge presences tonight, and one of them is Joe Biden and one of them is Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: Yes, no doubt about it. I mean and this is -- you know, Donald Trump, as you know, and this, I think, has been a conversation we've been having over the last couple of weeks, he -- whatever his strategy is, he is a unifying force in the Democratic Party, right? Nancy Pelosi was having all that problem -- all those problems inside her caucus. Donald Trump tweets about the four congresswomen. All of a sudden those went away. The party came together.

[08:55:17] And so, yes, I think Donald Trump, no doubt, he sets the political context always and he is part of this. But that is where the stage will unify. There's not much they're going to debate about that.

BERMAN: David Chalian, thank you so much. Thank you for everything you've done putting these wonderful two nights together.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CHALIAN: Sure. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Exciting.

BERMAN: All right, we do have some breaking news. We're learning new details about a shooting at a Wal-Mart in Mississippi. We're going to bring you the breaking details live from Detroit here, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.

[09:00:02] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow live in Detroit.

It is a beautiful Tuesday morning and a big night here tonight. The first of two critical