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Democratic Divide of Progressives, Moderates on Full Display at 1st CNN Debate; Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) Discusses Endorsing Joe Biden, What Joe Biden Needs to Do Tonight, How Democrats Can Win in Michigan in 2020. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:37] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in Detroit. Thank you so much for joining me.

One down and one to go. Think of this, if you will, as your halftime show of sorts. Welcome. We're here to entertain.

Last night, we got a good look at the battle lines drawn within the Democratic Party in what was a high-energy, high-octane debate. It was a clash of progressive versus moderate. And it was on full display with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren really as the main targets. Listen.


JOHN DELANEY, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bad policies like Medicare-for-All, free everything, and impossible promises.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Yes, I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality.


BOLDUAN: All right. The progressives responded with some fire of their own.

DELANEY: So why don't we actually talk about things, big ideas that we can get done?


DELANEY: The stakes are too high.

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for.



BOLDUAN: CNN's Phil Mattingly joins me now, starting us off this hour.

Great to see you, Phil, after a long night, short evening. It didn't get personal on that stage last night, but it definitely got heated.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. I think it underscores that there are very real policy differences inside the Democratic Party right now and inside the Democratic primary.

There are good reasons for people to go back and forth when they disagree on the top lines of the policy. And never was that more apparent than on the issues of health care.

You have the two prime progressives, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, center of the stage. Everybody that was to the right and left of them seemed to have a target on their back.

And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as true to form, weren't willing to just sit down and take it. They were going to fight back in every way, shape or form, defending their proposal of Medicare-for- All against other options out there, mostly focused on what would be known as the public option.

And that back and forth continued, particularly at the beginning of the debate, repeatedly.

Take a listen to this exchange between Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Tim Ryan.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Medicare-for-All is comprehensive. It covers all health care needs for senior citizens. It will finally include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses.

Second of all --


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): You don't know that.

SANDERS: Second of all --

RYAN: You don't know that, Bernie.


SANDERS: I do know. I wrote the damn bill.



MATTINGLY: I feel like I've had some exchanges like that with Senator Sanders in the hallways of the capital as well.

But the framing is important. You have aspirational verse the doable. Kind of revolution versus evolution. I think that's at the core of the fight we've seen play out in this primary up to this point.

We've also seen particularly some of the new individuals on stage last night trying to use that fight, trying to use that tension as a way to elevate themselves.

Take a listen to Montana Governor Steve Bullock.


BULLOCK: At the end of the day, I'm not going to support any plan that rips away quality health care from individuals. This is an example of wish list economics. It used to be just Republicans who wanted to repeal and replace. Now many Democrats do as well.


MATTINGLY: OK. I want to finish off with this. Even the so-called moderates of the Democratic Party are far more progressive in their health care plans than Democrats were even five, six, 10 years ago.

So the actual debate over health care has moved to the left, no question about it. But how far left they want to go, that was the crux of the debate last night. And we're going to see more of that tonight, no question about it -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Great to see you, Phil. Thank you so much.

All right. Much more to discuss right now. Joining me now is a former Democratic congressman from Illinois, Luis Gutierrez, former Obama White House communications director, Jen Psaki, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and former member of the South Carolina statehouse, Bakari Sellers. He's also endorsed Kamala Harris.

I, one day, aspire to have as long of an introduction as you.


And I'm so happy that you're here.



BOLDUAN: So that means you can actually tell me the truth.

Mayor, let's start with you because the hazing begins as you're our new political commentator. (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The clash of progressive versus moderate. If that is really what we saw play out last night, what did you learn from it? What did you see?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I was really excited about the debate. As you said, it was very aggressive, but it wasn't personal. I thought that was a good display.

[11:05:00] Secondly, it's perfectly fine for people to argue about where they're going. The bigger idea, especially on health care, is Republicans right now are trying to take everybody's health care away from them. The Democrats are arguing about what the best way is to make sure everybody in America has it. I like that side of the debate.

The details are going to get worked out over time. The voters are going to decide how far left, how far middle, or how far right they're going to go.

I was pretty pleased with the debate. I think Governor Bullock showed up for the first time last night, presented himself well. People are talking about him today. I think he helped himself a little bit.

BOLDUAN: Definitely.

I want to ask about Bullock in a second.

But our friend, Angela Rye, had a bar, if you will, that she would judge last night as a great debate if she could remember three names on that stage come this morning.

So with that being the standard, other than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, was it a great debate? What three names are standing out? Uh-oh, not a great debate.


SELLERS: I think that Bullock speaks for a large swath of the party. And it's more than the Twitter folk want to give it credit for. There are a lot of voters in the Democratic atmosphere that think like Steve Bullock. And he was able to introduce himself as someone who's won before in a Trump state.

I think Marianne Williamson is a name people are popping up for good, better, worse. I don't think she's going to win a primary. I don't think she's going to be here in the next debate. But she did add something and she gave what I believe to be the most comprehensive, robust answer on the issue of race.

That's only two. I know Ryan, I know Hick. I can't remember who else was on stage last night.


BOLDUAN: There's all you need to know.

SELLERS: They didn't necessarily have stand-out moments. I guess to Angela's point, we had a few who were missing.

BOLDUAN: Jen, another big question going into last night was, would Bernie Sanders, would Elizabeth Warren clash. Would they take an opportunity to really draw contrast between themselves? That did not happen. I want to know, from your perspective, do you think that was smart or a missed opportunity?

JEN PSAKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was great for Elizabeth Warren because, going into that debate last night, she was on the rise. Now, you can argue some of it was Bernie's support. Some of it was support of others, if you look at her coalition.


PSAKI: However, she's presenting herself as a better version of Bernie Sanders.

And she did some pretty savvy things. She's quite good at debating. She did some pretty savvy things. One, on the Medicare-for-All question and health care, she kind of wriggled herself out of it. She said, oh, no, it won't be -- taxes won't be raised on the middle class. She didn't really give details.

The truth is, she's not a Medicare-for-All purist like Bernie Sanders. She could have used that as an opportunity. But I think going in, she wanted to be seen as the progressive mantle coming out of it.

For Bernie Sanders, he did better than he did in the first debate. But if you're looking for a progressive to be your nominee, to follow, to pay attention, to watch their speeches, why would you pick Bernie Sanders over Elizabeth Warren? I think that's the problem for him coming out of the debate.

BOLDUAN: One moment that I think stood out to me was a moment between Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock. It was all about who's playing into Donald Trump's hands, and it all had to do with immigration. Let me play that for everybody.


WARREN: And a big part of how we do that is we do not play into Donald Trump's hands. He wants to stir up the crisis at the border because that's his overall message.

BULLOCK: But you are playing into Donald Trump's hands. The challenge isn't that it's a criminal offense to cross the border. The challenge is that Donald Trump is president and using this to rip families apart.


BOLDUAN: I found that really fascinating, that it seemed, at that moment, and maybe it really is a statement that the Democratic Party is struggling with what plays into Donald Trump's hands and what doesn't when it comes to the 2020 election. What do you think?

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the Democratic Party is setting itself as a party of immigrants, right? It's a party of what America looks like. As a transformational party. It's a different party. I remember joining the Congress with Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton's playbook by Mayor Rahm Emanuel was, oh, let's demonize immigrants. And he did.

I remember working so hard to elect Barack Obama and then having such trouble in getting him to pick up the mantle of immigrant rights, which eventually, I have to say, he did, and I'm so thankful to him. Because I think that he also, through his actions, changed the party eventually.

So look, the party is growing. The problem is immigration is --


BOLDUAN: What plays into Donald Trump's hands here?


GUTIERREZ: What plays into Donald Trump's hand is this, when we don't explain ourselves clearly.

Looked, I opposed Obamacare almost until the last moment because it didn't include undocumented immigrants. Why? Because it didn't let undocumented immigrants buy into the program.

[11:10:02] I wasn't looking for undocumented immigrants to have something that American citizens didn't have. No, I just said if an American citizen gets to buy into Obamacare and pay into Obamacare, so should immigrants that are working if they're undocumented. We've changed that today.

But if we don't explain that, then Donald Trump wins because he gets to say, look at those Democrats. He wants those immigrants, the ones that just recently crossed the border, to have free health care when you don't have anything. That's not the truth about the Democratic position.

BOLDUAN: And that was one of the first things in the first debate that he jumped on so quickly.

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: On Steve Bullock, Mayor, I want -- he made a strong case for a moderate position. He's got -- I said it yesterday, he does have the special sauce in one sense. He's the one guy or gal on the stage who won in 2016 in a state that Trump won by 20 points.

LANDRIEU: Well, you know it's interesting --

BOLDUAN: Does it make you wish he got in the race sooner?

LANDRIEU: No. He probably would have helped himself if he would have gotten in early. What he was representing was a pragmatic, thoughtful view about how you actually get things done and win and trying to make the case between ideology and actually happening. There was big blowback both ways.

What was most interesting is it was Delaney that got the most airtime with Warren, but we're talking about Bullock this morning. He must have done something right.

I want to go back to what Jen said. She makes an excellent point. The herd has got to start thinning. The question is how it's going to thin. And it's going to thin in broad parameters. If you're a progressive, and that's where you want to go, why would you be for Bernie rather than Elizabeth? If you're a Millennial and you're looking for the future, why would you be for Beto when you can be for Pete? Then all of a sudden, Bullock and Biden.

We'll see tonight actually who won the debate last night. It looks like Elizabeth Warren really outperformed everybody.

But at the same time, we'll see what tonight brings, which is going to be a much more diverse field. They'll have the benefit of watching last night's debate and having a little bit more time to prepare for some of the difficult answers.

But Biden is standing there in the middle where Bullock is. You can't have both of them.

BOLDUAN: Does last night's debate change the stakes for Joe Biden in tonight's debate?

SELLERS: Actually, I think, at the beginning of the debate, Joe Biden is going to have somewhat of an advantage because I do think, even as a Kamala Harris supporter, the biggest bulls-eye on her back is health care.

We saw there was 35 minutes dedicated to health care last night. It doesn't give you an opportunity just to give a little flippant answer and move on. Meander in and meander out. She's going to have to be firm in that answer, stick to it, and stand her ground in that answer.

So I do think she'll be OK taking attacks from the Senator, but she's going to have to do that.

The question about Joe Biden is two things. One, will Joe Biden have moments where he disappears like Amy Klobuchar and Beto did last night? And two -- and I want to be extremely politically correct and cautious when I say this -- can he sustain that level of energy that Bernie Sanders did last night for 2.5 hours? I mean, that's a question.

If he does it, he knocks it out of the park. If at any time he looks fatigued, looks tired, people ask those questions.

GUTIERREZ: I think health care will come up again tonight, obviously.

BOLDUAN: Yes. GUTIERREZ: It was principal discussion last night.

But, look, I think we have to -- we're having a discussion and a debate in America whether we're going to be incremental or we're going to be transformational when it comes to health care.

I'm for the transformational.


GUTIERREZ: I'm for the transformation. Here's why. I don't think health care -- you can't say health care should be a basic fundamental human right and then equate it to a business. It's either one or the other. Look, if civil rights were a business, I'd be out of business.


GUTIERREZ: I'm sorry for coming on the program and bringing a different point of view. But it is my point of view.


BOLDUAN: Don't be sorry. We all love it.

GUTIERREZ: Health care is a basic fundamental human right.

And I want to say to the mayor, welcome.



LANDRIEU: Thank you. Thanks for having me.


BOLDUAN: We're happy you're here.


PSAKI: Everybody should agree with this. But I think Democrats do. All the Democrats who are running, including Joe Biden, want to build on what we already have. They want to expand access and lower costs. It's a benefit in going second tonight.

BOLDUAN: Yes, if you're Joe Biden.

PSAKI: Because to get to that --


BOLDUAN: I want you to finish, please. But Amy Klobuchar had that line last night, where we're trying to win the argument instead of trying to win the election. There's something to that.

PSAKI: Yes, I think that's exactly right. Part of what I think Joe Biden or anyone on the stage tonight can look at last night and learn from is there was a lot of defensiveness from a number of the candidates on the stage. We don't remember some of them as a result.

But if you're Joe Biden, you should go out there and say, I am proud to be building on the Affordable Care Act and I'm proud to be pushing for the public option because more people should have access and it should be more affordable. That's where the majority of the American public are.

It's not the job of candidates to say this is where people are when that's not aligned with what any polling is telling us. That's sometimes where it's heard and read the wrong way. And it's coming from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

[11:15:06] GUTIERREZ: But I think Elizabeth and Bernie -- look, they're not watching the polls.

PSAKI: Yes, they are!


GUTIERREZ: You cannot, on the one hand, argue that they're not with the mainstream and then, on the other hand, say that they are.


GUTIERREZ: Here's what I like to say. I would like to say, look, I think it should be transformational, and I think it should be a basic human fundamental right.

PSAKI: And everybody agrees on that.

BOLDUAN: We're all in agreement.

SELLERS: They had coffee on that side. Me and the mayor just hanging out.



BOLDUAN: You're having cocktails. This is how we roll.

Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you guys very much.

All right. Coming up for us still, coffee and cocktails continue. The road to the White House runs through the great state of Michigan, of course. Coming up on the show, the mayor of Detroit will be joining us. He just made a big endorsement of Joe Biden. And he'll tell us what he thinks Joe Biden needs to do tonight and also what any Democrat needs to do to win in Michigan in 2020.

Plus this, it was one of the more interesting exchanges of last night's debate. Why Bernie Sanders and John Hickenlooper were literally throwing up their hands at each other in the air.

AT THIS HOUR, live from Detroit, continues in a moment.


[11:21:09] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We're live from Detroit, Michigan, where the city is gearing up for round two of the Democratic presidential debates live on CNN tonight.

Very soon, we're going to start seeing the candidates arriving right here to downtown to the historic Fox Theater behind me for their final walk throughs before tonight's big event.

Frontrunner Joe Biden will be at center stage, flanked by Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Biden has his work cut out for him tonight. A lot of anticipation. He was widely criticized for a lackluster debate performance last month.

So will Detroit mean boom or bust for the former vice president this time?

Joining me right now is the mayor of this fabulous host city, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. He endorsed Joe Biden last week.

Mayor, thank you so much for being here.

MIKE DUGGAN, (D), DETROIT MAYOR: Yes, I'm glad you're in town.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for having us. Detroit has been putting on a good show for us this week.

DUGGAN: It feels great. Of course, as you know, Detroiters love visitors.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.


BOLDUAN: Come back and come back often.

DUGGAN: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: You were in there last night.


BOLDUAN: What did you think? What was your big takeaway?

DUGGAN: You know, I was shocked at how much substance there was. Before I was the mayor, I ran the major hospital system here for nine years, and the in-depth conversation on the health care side -- and Delaney's grasp on health care I was very impressed with -- probably doesn't play with most of the base, but I was impressed, as they went from subject to subject, how serious it was.

BOLDUAN: Yes, they got into a lot of substance last night, a lot of policy.

You endorsed Joe Biden last week, right?


BOLDUAN: He is still the frontrunner, but he was not mentioned once during the debate, which surprised me because I thought he was going to be a main target. The fact that he was not mentioned last night in the debate, the vice president, do you think that's a win for Joe Biden, or is it a sign of trouble?

DUGGAN: I think what matters to the vice president is how he does tonight.

BOLDUAN: Tonight.

DUGGAN: As I said to you earlier, when I did TV debates with one opponent in a mayor's race, it was an enormous amount of prep. He walks in knowing nine people are planning shots at him and has to figure out how to handle all of them. I think he's probably more ready for it this time than he was a month ago.

BOLDUAN: And Biden told supporters at a fundraiser here in Detroit last week that this time he wasn't going to be so polite when it came to the debate. What do you think that looks like? What's your advice for him?

DUGGAN: You know, he will become president if he's nominated because he focuses on the lower and middle class, people who just want the chance to get training, work harder, and raise their standard of living. It's the whole message that the Democratic Party missed in 2016. And if he stays on that, he'll be fine. If he gets pulled back into what happened 30 or 40 years ago, that's probably not his best area.

BOLDUAN: Do you think he needs to make the case -- he needs to take on the case made by Warren and Sanders, like take on the progressive case that was made last night, or do you think, in reaching out to those voters you're talking about, do you think it's better to continue to focus on Donald Trump and making the case against him?

DUGGAN: You know, I was here as the Affordable Care Act got rolled out.


DUGGAN: And 100,000 Detroiters have health insurance today because of Obamacare that didn't have it five years ago. I think for the vice president to stay on the success of Obamacare and build on the success instead of, you know, trying to take your health care away from 160 million private citizens, including all the UAW workers, I think he's on the right place, if he's on those issues. And I think he will be.

He's very proud of what the Obama administration accomplished and his role in it. And he always focuses on how we're going to create opportunities for people who had the deck stacked against them. Hopefully, that's what he's going to talk about.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the city for a second, if we could. This week a mayor of another major American city, Baltimore, Maryland, he was faced with having to defend his city in the face of an attack by the president, who said no human would want to live there, that it's rat infested and a mess.

[11:25:07] Baltimore has seen hard times. So has Detroit. What did you think when you heard President Trump say that?

DUGGAN: You know, as a candidate, Donald Trump was here during the campaign talking about how he was going to do things for cities and do things for Detroit and he was a builder. Since he's been president, he hasn't been back.

So you know, I thought it's really unfortunate that what we've got is a president who's dividing us as opposed to what he said he was going to do when he was running.

BOLDUAN: Detroit is now six years out of bankruptcy and making real strides. We can throw stats and numbers out there, but all you have to do is walk down Woodward to see the progress really being made. What have you guys in Detroit done right? And how do you make sure that everyone here is part of that recovery?

DUGGAN: The unemployment rate has gone from 19 percent to 8 percent in the last five years. So you felt the difference. But we had fallen so far that it wasn't going to be one thing.


DUGGAN: So you know, nationally, the Millennials are moving into urban areas. And we've taken advantage downtown with Google and Microsoft and LinkedIn coming in.

But we also have become the innovation center of the future of the auto industry. Ford Motor Company is moving its entire automated vehicle, electric vehicle operation into the train station area with 5,000 jobs designing cars of the future. Google's self-driving operation is now based in Detroit.

Of course, Chrysler has just landed -- is building now the first assembly plant outside of the south in a decade on the east side of Detroit with 5,000 jobs for folks who might have a high school degree and willing to get trained to do them.

So our strategy to come back is appeal to the Millennials and the kind of jobs they are, appeal to jobs of the future in the auto industry, and also land the kind of manufacturing jobs that made Detroit so successful in the first place. If we continue to do all those things well, Detroit is going to be just fine.

BOLDUAN: Detroit's looking pretty good right now.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, mayor. It's great to be here. It's going to be great to see the progress continuing.

Thank you so much.

DUGGAN: Glad to have you here.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it. See you on the trail.

Coming up for us, Marianne Williamson was on the outer edge of the debate stage again last night, but she still managed to get some moments in the spotlight. What she said last night on the debate stage still has a lot of people talking today.

AT THIS HOUR continues, live from Detroit. We'll be right back.