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Former Vice President Says He Is Ready For The Fight; Kamala Harris Arrives for CNN Democratic Debate; Federal Reserve Just Cut Interest Rates For The First Time Since The Financial Crisis. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The name Joe Biden wasn't even mentioned. But tonight, the front runner and former Vice President will be right in the center of the action, literally center stage.

Biden will be sandwiched between Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, two of his fiercest critics in this race aside, of course, from the man who currently sits in the White House. And while round one was all about progressives versus moderates, round two this evening maybe about the past and the future of the Democratic Party, and where really, Joe Biden fits in if at all.

For his part, the former Vice President says he is ready for the fight, vowing he will not be as polite to Senator Harris, who just arrived for a few moments ago for a tour of the theater ahead of this evening's event. So, let's go straight in there to CNN's Ana Cabrera. Ana, tell me who you're seeing.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, right now we have Kirsten Gillibrand here doing her walkthrough. She, of course, is a Senator from New York. She is really needing a breakthrough moment. She's been trying to sell herself as the best candidate to champion women's issues. And she made a controversial comment over the week and let me read it for you.

She said, "We have Democratic candidates running for President right now who do not believe necessarily that it's a good idea that women work outside the home. No joke." End-quote. She didn't name names, but it'll be interesting to see if that is actually a preview for tonight.

We already saw come through here Andrew Yang and Jay Inslee. We're expecting Kamala Harris to be up next. We're told she's on site waiting for her turn. Harris, of course, is facing big expectations, following that initial appearance, and that match up with Joe Biden last time around, in which she had that really powerful moment, but since then, after getting an initial surge in the in the polls, her numbers have receded a bit. In fact, it was down eight points in the latest Quinnipiac Poll out this week.

And, when it comes to black voters, Joe Biden has the most strength there by far. He had 53 percent in that latest Quinnipiac Poll. His next closest challenger was 40 plus points behind him there. But Biden's team acknowledges he has to do better in this debate. We're told he watched last night's debate in his home in Delaware. He

is preparing for multiple attacks from challengers on stage with him tonight, not just from Harris, but from Cory Booker, and Julian Castro. Of course, they were not on the same stage as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the last round of debates last month.

Castro's team tells us, he's been watching game tape or his campaign has been watching game tape trying to get a sense of other candidates' styles. Also on stage tonight, Michael Bennett, Tulsi Gabbard, as well as Bill de Blasio. So it's a diverse group, Brooke, and they're gearing up for round two of the debate in Detroit. Back to you.

BALDWIN: We know the action starts in a couple of hours. But it's fun to get that sneak peek of these candidates. You're right there with the front row seat. Thank you for bringing us inside the Fox Theater. We will come back to you and we continue to see more.

Let me have a conversation now with CNN political director David Chalian. He is back with us. Day two, for what you're watching for. And let's just begin with the guy who's going to be standing center stage, right?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes.

BALDWIN: He had a -- kind of performance the last time. He has the most to lose.

CHALIAN: That was the technical term.

BALDWIN: Exactly. What does he need to do tonight?

CHALIAN: Yes, this is his do-over moment. You're absolutely right. And I think actually more important than anything else tonight, what Democrats are looking for is his performance. He did have that lackluster performance in Miami. How does he appear tonight? Does he appear surefooted? Does he appear to be sort of a man of fortitude, who is going to go the distance in this race all the way to take it to Donald Trump? Or does he seem off his game a bit again, or somewhat not prepared for the attacks coming his way?

That is the impression he left last time. Now as you know, he's bounced back in the polls, right? He took a little dip and he's back.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: What I think he has to prove tonight is that his performance bounces back as well, because a lot of Democrats are watching for it.

BALDWIN: One of the huge conversations we've been having nationally, certainly over the last however many months but in the last few days is race, right, between President Trump's tweets on the City of Baltimore, and Elijah Cummings, mixed with what we saw in the last debate talking about busing, the rift between Biden and Harris. How will that factor in tonight?

CHALIAN: Yes, I think the politics of race, as you noted, it's going to be front and center literally because both Senator Booker and Senator Harris are on either side of Joe Biden. And they both, as you said, we left the Miami debate with Harris's attack on busing to Biden, and then she stuck by that in the days after that, she kept up her critique.

And then, Cory Booker has been very vocal in his desire to take on Joe Biden over his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill. What he said was, he was the sort of grandfather of mass incarceration in this country. And, you know, he clearly wants to litigate that. So, I do think you rightly point out the context, this will take place in, right?

There is this debate about Biden's record in the past and how Harris and Booker want to draw distinctions with that, but it's playing against this context of Donald Trump.

[14:05:03] CHALIAN: The President in the White House who is putting out racist tweets and using race in part as a strategic tool to divide and litigate his campaign effort. And so, it seems to me Joe Biden is going to get caught between sort of having to defend his record and wanting to make the case against Trump.

BALDWIN: We will be doing a lot of this right on either side. But might he have a moment tonight on the flip side to criticize Kamala Harris -- Senator Harris on healthcare because it's taken her a little while to arrive at where she is on her on her own plan.

CHALIAN: Yes, I think Harris's healthcare moment tonight is a big one. Because, as you noted, it has been seven months in this campaign now, Brooke, and she has been anything but crystal clear on exactly what she wanted until this week ...

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: ... in advance for this debate. And that's why they rolled out a healthcare policy ...

BALDWIN: To get ahead of --

CHALIAN: ... and after the debate to give her sort of a foundation to stand up on tonight when the issue comes up. It is obviously the number one issue. And so, she really has done a step away from Medicare-for-All. She calls it her Medicare-for-All plan but it is not at all. Medicare-for-All as Bernie Sanders envisions it.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: And she has kept a role for private insurance. She has extended the time for transition to such a system from four years to 10 years. And how she defends that while Biden wants to attack on how she pays for it is just going to be a critical moment for her because it has been one of the question marks around her candidacy was this issue and being surefooted on it.

BALDWIN: So while we listen to all the folks you just mentioned who are really standing center stage. What about as you referred to -- the one percent? CHALIAN: So, we have a one percent crowd yesterday that we talked

about. And same thing here, there are five candidates, Kirsten Gillibrand, who you just saw doing her walkthrough; the New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio; Jay Inslee. These are moments -- this is a do- or-die moment in many ways for them.

As you know, the rules to get to the next debate stage, you need more, you know -- be higher in the polls, more grassroots donors. And if you don't have a moment to elevate yourself that way, you are going to be left out of the conversation.

BALDWIN: You are out, bye-bye.

CHALIAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: We are waiting to see Senator Kamala Harris. She's about to be on that stage there, just across the way at Fox Theater. We are going to take a quick break. David Chalian, you are the best, thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Quick break, we will be right back. Special coverage from Detroit, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:12:03] BALDWIN: All right, we're back live in Detroit. I'm Brooke Baldwin and there she is in a ball cap. Do I spy L.A. Dodgers? This is Kamala Harris. A much more casual California Senator Kamala Harris there hanging out on the debate stage, getting instructed where to stand, where to look for the big night tonight.

Of course, we're counting down to debate night number two. It all starts here on CNN at eight o'clock Eastern. But let's have a whole chat about ball capped Kamala Harris and how prepared she is of course for her evening ahead.

I have got a lot of great people sitting on set with me. Josh Jamerson is a political reporter for the "The Wall Street Journal" and I'll appropriately point out, he is from the "D" he's from Detroit. Susan Crabtree, is the White House correspondent for "RealClearPolitics." Kyung Lah has been following Senator Harris every which way across the country. She is the CNN senior national correspondent, and Jackie Kucinich is the Washington Bureau Chief for "The Daily Beast" and a CNN political analyst.

And it feels silly, also just, if I may, to you Kyung, as a woman pointing out what she's wearing. But you wanted to make that point because we never see her. We rarely see her.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rarely see her.

BALDWIN: She's casual.

LAH: The thing that I find really interesting about Harris is she has taken all this criticism about what she wears and she stripped it out of her campaign.

BALDWIN: Yes.

LAH: Because she wears the same thing all the time -- pantsuit, usually modestly dressed. But here as she walks through, this is casual. This is her casual uniform. She's wearing a ball cap that is a nod to where she now lives. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and you know, jeans, and I can guarantee she is wearing white sneakers. That is the Kamala casual outfit.

And you know, I think she's trying to project a relaxed atmosphere as she heads into this tonight.

BALDWIN: She had a huge -- we will talk last night in a second, but she had a huge performance in Miami. Of course, she had those moments with Joe Biden. Can you guys -- what are you watching for her this evening? What should we expect?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think so with those -- with that good performance comes with it some high expectations for tonight.

BALDWIN: Pressure.

KUCINICH: I mean, she is going to have a target on herself, not only from Joe Biden, but you have Tulsi Gabbard targeting her --

BALDWIN: Constantly on Twitter.

KUCINICH: Exactly. So, you can expect that she's going to take a shot at Kamala Harris and how she handles questions about her Medicare-for-All plan, questions about her record, maybe as a prosecutor. Because it seems like Joe Biden is coming ready this time. He's not going to be caught as flat footed as we saw the last time.

JOSH JAMERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, you hope -- hope not, right?

KUCINICH: That's a good projecting anyway.

JAMERSON: Right, yes. You know, you definitely want to see some growth from him. You know, there was some talk or maybe he was just a little bit rusty during the last debate. But I think one of the things I'm going to be looking for is just how he is going to be sandwiched there in between Cory Booker, a critic of how he handled the 1984 Crime Bill and then obviously Kamala Harris on both sides, how does he manage kind of that, you know, onslaught from both directions there?

SUSAN CRABTREE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "REALCLEARPOLITICS": And after the Medicare-for-All debate, that focused and sort of the central theme of last night, she really has to come in really strong with her own plan that she previewed.

[14:15:12] BALDWIN: It has taken her a while. CRABTREE: Yes.

BALDWIN: I was just talking to David Chalian. It has taken her a while to finally arrive at a space where she is clear on her plan because it's been a lot of zigging and zagging.

CRABTREE: Absolutely. I think she's been coming across a little bit of a waffle there. And this, she's trying to cut the middle ground again, and sort of slipping the baby. But it's maybe what the doctor ordered because she doesn't want to appear like she's plunging off the liberal cliff, like so many others did last time around.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CRABTREE: So I think that this is going to be the true test for her whether she can sell that healthcare plan tonight.

BALDWIN: I want to -- we will stay on these pictures of the California Senator. But let's rewind just for a hot minute back to last night. Obviously, there were incredibly, you know, headlines much buzzed about moments. But what were the moments that really caught you guys that weren't as buzzed about -- Josh.

JAMERSON: I thought in Marianne Williamson's answer on reparations, which ...

BALDWIN: We have her on next hour. I'm going to ask her about that.

JAMERSON: ... started out with like a kind of an out-woking almost of your host to ask a question where, you know, she corrected him saying it wasn't financial assistance, it was payback of a debt from slavery.

BALDWIN: Yes.

JAMERSON: But I thought even in that answer, which was very much about like morals, and like where we need to be as a country doing the right thing. There was even in there, she said, she would only go to $500 billion, even though she thought the true price for the slavery ...

BALDWIN: In the trillions.

JAMERSON: ... that was in the trillions. And so, even Marianne Williamson, spiritual guru, a lot of morals, there were still even some political calculation in there.

BALDWIN: Do you think that moment cost a lot? I mean, I know she was the most Googled candidate during the debate. But that can also be a bad thing when people are like, "Who is that lady?"

LAH: Yes, why are they looking her up? They were looking her up for the dark psychic moment, right, that was highly Googled. Are they Googling her for the right reasons? Because they think she's actually going to be the nominee?

CRABTREE: Exactly.

BALDWIN: It remains to be seen. What else from last night that people should be talking about?

KUCINICH: You know, the absence of Joe Biden's name.

BALDWIN: Not mentioned not once.

KUCINICH: Not mentioned once. Now, they sort of -- Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders sort of used the lesser known candidates as his avatar. You're criticizing perhaps a lack of imagination and a lack of big ideas. I think, it is what one of them said. It's hard to remember who said what in terms of Sanders and Warren because they really were this two-pronged attack and defense of this of the, you know, left wing agenda, particularly on Medicare-for-All, climate change, immigration.

You really saw them pushing that agenda and, you know, contrasting it. We really did see a contrast between the two major branches of the Democratic Party on policy last night.

BALDWIN: Yes, they almost had their backs sort of together, taking the incoming for everyone else flanking them on the stage. You guys mentioned healthcare, I just want to play this soundbite. We saw a spirited fight over healthcare with some candidates, accusing others of using Republican talking points. So let's listen to just some of what was said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For senior citizens, it will finally include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses. Second of all --

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But you don't know that, Bernie.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We will come to you in a second Congressman.

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

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should deal with the tragedy beyond insured and give everyone healthcare as a right. But why do we have to be the party of taking something away from people?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, no. We are the Democrats, we are not about trying to take away healthcare from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So here is the thing. And this, I think, is maybe the microcosm of the quandary that is the Democratic Party right now. It's like you have these three various ideas on healthcare.

One, you have mend, but don't end Obamacare. Two, is basically Medicare-for-All, you know, government run-system, zero private insurance. And then number three, is like this hybrid -- Americans have a choice to join a government or public plan, or you can keep your private insurance.

So those three are kind of all over the map, which to me is -- what does that signal for you for this Democratic Party?

CRABTREE: Well, I think there is a lot of nostalgia for the Obamacare plan that Joe Biden is going to be repeating tonight and trying to, you know, tap into that nostalgia. But right now, I think, you know, the rest of the Democratic Party and the passion is really on the Medicare-for-All side, but you have to pay for it.

And I think that's one of the moments that I remember most was when Elizabeth Warren who ran the board last night completely, was sparring with Delaney and she was sort of looking very eager and salivating over the possibility of taxing his wealth.

That's what it is, I mean, that's sort of falls into the stereotype that Democrats really want to avoid. They want to look like they're presenting a plan that is both safe ...

BALDWIN: A united front and I'm ...

CRABTREE: ... and it's not going to be disruptive.

BALDWIN: ... and I'm wondering just, I mean, debate is a healthy thing, right, to have various ideas and pulling them all together and see which is ...

LAH: Yes, but what are they debating? Most people, if you talk to voters, like we've all gone around, talk to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, they don't know what Medicare-for-All is.

And once you explain what it is, and you get some of this idea of, "Oh maybe I'll do this, maybe I'll do that." People are confused. So no one really knows ...

BALDWIN: That's such a great way --

LAH: ... when we listen to all of these three options. What are they talking about?

[14:20:08] LAH: I guarantee most people have no idea.

KUCINICH: And then there's this divide between what is possible. We do have to work with Congress on something like as big as healthcare. And for those of us who covered the healthcare debate the last time, know how hard even the littlest details are, to get across the finish line versus if you dream it, you can do it.

BALDWIN: It's like, let's do this and let's get free -- this and this and this. Sunshine and unicorns -- isn't always easy.

JAMERSON: Yes, and there was criticism from ...

CRABTREE: That's exactly right.

JAMERSON: ... you talked about -- they have to pay for it. There is criticism from people like Joe Biden, that the other Democratic candidates aren't being straight about how they will be paid for it except for Bernie Sanders. And you saw that last night. Elizabeth Warren was salivating over the John Delaney and the wealth tax argument, but she dodged completely when asked about, if she would --

BALDWIN: Which is tax middle class.

JAMERSON: Yes. She said that -- she said overall, their costs would go down. But she wouldn't say that they're taxing us.

BALDWIN: The catch.

CRABTREE: Yes, and the problem with that is that -- yes the taxes will go up and the costs may go down. But when the Republicans are concerned that if they give Democrats an ability to raise taxes, they will never come down. They will keep going up and up and up, that's the Republican argument.

BALDWIN: Okay. On that note, thank you so much. We are all looking at the screen. This is -- I think, I see Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard up on she is -- as you were mentioning earlier, you know, she's been really critical of Senator Kamala Harris. We will see, you know, how quickly she can get a jab in this evening there up on that stage at the Fox Theater. Thank you, guys, very much for that.

JAMERSON: Thank you.

LAH: Thank you.

CRABTREE: Thank you.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We do have some breaking news that the Federal Reserve just cut interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis. CNN politics and business correspondent Cristina Alesci is with me now. And so, Christina, obviously, this is major news. How does the U.S. economy -- how much does the economy really need a rate cut right now?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's the question, Brooke, you hit it right on the head. This is the Federal Reserve signaling that interest rates -- lower interest rates are not necessary or not entirely necessary. They're just nice to have, so not a need to have, but a nice to have.

Now, let me take you through some nerdy numbers here. In 2008, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates. That was the last time it did so. The economy at that time was growing at negative 8.4 percent. Unemployment was at 7.3 percent. Today, an entirely different picture, the economy is growing at 2.1 percent and unemployment is down to 3.7 percent.

That's why economists are calling this an insurance cut. What the Federal Reserve is trying to do is extend the economic growth that we've seen over the last 10 years and potentially provide some protective padding around the economy if it hits a rough patch.

Now, politically, this is a big win for Trump because it helps sustain the economic recovery that we've seen into the 2020 cycles. So he can go out there and tout the message that the economy is strong -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Cristina, thank you very much from the Federal Reserve this afternoon.

Meantime, we talk so many of these really important issues. Climate crisis is a massive focus for these Democratic debates here. Last night, we heard about a plan to ban gas-powered cars by the year 2040. So, I'll talk to Governor Jay Inslee, the governor of the State of Washington about that and how he would sell his clean energy plan on that stage this evening. That's coming up.

And just released recordings of President Ronald Reagan making racist comments. We will play the comments for you. You will hear for yourself exactly what he had to say and we will talk to the man who got them released. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:28:04] BALDWIN: We're back here live in Detroit. I am Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for watching CNN special coverage, where night two of the Democratic debates is just hours away.

And among the candidates on stage tonight, Washington Governor Jay Inslee. So Governor, a pleasure to have you on, thank you so much.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, thank you.

BALDWIN: So let's get right to it, because obviously the cornerstone of your campaign, you know, climate science, climate change, and the crisis that that this globe is facing, right.

So, I want to play a clip. This is from last night because Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Tim Ryan really got into it specifically on cars and reliance on gasoline. So, Sanders thinks they should be eliminated by 2040. Ryan is pushing a plan to boost production of electric vehicles in the U.S. And this was from last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: What do you do with an industry that knowingly for billions of dollars in short term profits is destroying this planet? I say that is criminal activity.

RYAN: I didn't say we couldn't get there until 2040, Bernie, you don't have to yell? I mean, all I'm saying is -- all I'm saying is we have to invent our way out of this thing and if we're waiting for 2040 for a ban to come in on gasoline vehicles, we're screwed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Obviously, a lot of extra people are paying attention to Detroit, epicenter of the U.S. auto industry, how quickly can the U.S. get to gasless cars?

INSLEE: Well, I have proposed what is scientifically necessary and technologically appropriate. And that is, we need to start selling clean cars 10 years from now. There's no reason to sell cars that have fossil fuel usage, new cars anyway after 10 years now.

And the reason is, I'm glad to be here in Michigan. This is where my General Motors Bolt was made with UAW union members, and we want those jobs to be right here in the United States. So, this technology is now appropriate. And don't tell me we can't do this, this fast.

BALDWIN: So 10 years is your mark?

INSLEE: Ten years, here's why. I will give you an example. So, in 1940, we made exactly 70 jeeps in the entire United States, then we had an existential threat of fascism.

[14:30:10]