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Interview with Marianne Williamson (D) Presidential Candidate, Reparations for Slavery; Williamson Is Most Searched Candidate After Debate; Biden Prepared for Flat-Out Lies from Rivals Tonight. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I'm sure a lot of you guys could. I mean on your response on reparations, let me just read this for you because the Duke professor who is largely leading the research on slavery reparations. Sandy Darity said that you were quote, extremely strong. I mean, there you were up on a stage, just happened to be a stage full of white candidates, why do you think you were the one that really stood out on the answer on race?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because of what I said. Because I feel strongly, that we have to have a deeper conversation than the political establishment is having, about a lot of issues, and race is one of them. Sandy Darity --

BALDWIN: But it's how you said it.

WILLIAMSON: I think it was how I said it. Well I think that once you have the what you're saying, the passion comes along with it. Because if you're taking a deep look at racial issues in the United States and you're looking at the history. You're looking at 250 years of slavery, followed by another 100 years of institutionalized violence against black people. 350 years of institutionalized violence which is longer than this country has been in existence, passion kind of comes along pretty naturally, once you really look at the facts and put the dots together.

BALDWIN: So when I was listening to you last night and you were trying to explain some of how you arrived at the numbers, right. You said it should be in the trillions, but maybe it should be at least 100 billion. But perhaps somewhere between 200 and 500 billion. What wasn't addressed last night, is how you pay for that?

WILLIAMSON: Oh well, of course they say that about any progressive issue, don't they?

BALDWIN: But it's a fair question, that's a lot of money, how do you pay for it?

WILLIAMSON: Well, first of all, $2 trillion went into the tax cut as we know, 83 cents of every dollar went to the very richest Americans. And the whole thing was the ruse of it being an economic stimulant, it actually wasn't. I think something like what we're talking about now, reparations for slavery, among other things would be an economic stimulant. Because anything that helps people thrive. To me the idea of a reparation's council -- and by the way, Professor Darity is someone who has taught me a lot. And has informed me and I think that he would be a perfect person to be on such a council. My idea is that money would be dispersed over a period of 20 years and people such as Professor Darity, such as those on this council would make those decisions. The stipulation on the part of the U.S. government would be for projects of economic and educational renewal.

By definition, projects of economic and educational renewal goes into the lives of people. It increases their educational potential which increases financial potential. Anything which helps people thrive is a -- is money placed into the economy. So when you say -- I mean, the whole economic idea.

BALDWIN: You have to understand why people are saying, OK, it sounds wonderful and it felt authentic, where does she, poof, get this money from? It sounds like maybe you don't entirely know.

WILLIAMSON: Well I don't even think it's about that. You repeal the 2017 tax cut, you put back in the middle-class tax cut. You make it that the United States government in fact can negotiate with big pharma. You have you the $15 an hour minimum wage. You have the 3 percent tax on billionaires, you have the 2 percent tax on 50 million or more. You start having some cash on hand.

And also, you remember that this is where money comes from, the more you educate a child, and the more you unleash the spirit of people by uncapping their dreams, the more creative people can become, the more productive people become. The better the employers will be, the more they'll be entrepreneurial. If you want money, help people live their dreams. Because people want to do amazing things that in fact create money.

BALDWIN: I need to keep talking to you, will you stick by through the commercial break? I have a few more questions for you. Marianne Williamson, live here in Detroit after her big debate performance last night. We will be right back. You're watching CNN.


BALDWIN: Welcome back, we are live in Detroit. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Sitting next to me, Marianne Williamson, fresh off her debate last night, thank you for sticking around.

WILLIAMSON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: So let's talk next just about health care, right. So on health care you've mentioned you can see both sides.

WILLIAMSON: Well, I'm --

BALDWIN: What's your plan?

WILLIAMSON: I want "Medicare For All". I definitely want "Medicare For All".

BALDWIN: Do you want a private option?

WILLIAMSON: I want a public option.

BALDWIN: Public option, private insurance.

WILLIAMSON: I want a public option. Bernie's plan says there's a four-year transitional period. Congresswoman Jayapal's plan says a two-year period.

BALDWIN: Kamala Harris says 10.



WILLIAMSON: To me that's too long.

BALDWIN: Too long.

WILLIAMSON: The only issue, it's still a sticking point for me. And where I'm still processing in my heart, has to do with private insurance. Not because I'm a fan of the health insurance companies at all. But because as a friend of mine said, Americans want to put mustard on their hot dog if they want to put mustard on their hot dog. Now I know that my very progressive friends --

BALDWIN: Are you going to give people the option to put mustard on the hot dog?

WILLIAMSON: Well, that's what --

BALDWIN: That's what you're figuring out.

WILLIAMSON: Well, that's I'm figuring out. Because that's what keeping your private insurance, if you want to, allows you to do. Now I know my very progressive friends, even now I'm sure I'll get all kinds of texts, no. But I think I have to be honest and say, on that issue I'm still a little -- I get that -- I even get the numbers, I even get economically it's better if we completely get rid of private health insurance. But I'm just --

BALDWIN: Sounds like this and this.

WILLIAMSON: But I don't -- in that case, I -- but you know, I think it's OK sometimes for a politician to say I'm still thinking about that one.

BALDWIN: Would you raise taxes on the middle class?

WILLIAMSON: No, I want to put the middle-class tax cut back in. I want to repeal the 2017 tax cut, put the middle-class tax cut.

BALDWIN: As we discussed a second ago. Can I ask you about Orpah?

[15:40:00] Because she was -- you were her spiritual adviser. I read a quote this morning, that she said she'd never been more personally moved by a return to love, which was your 1992, self-help book.

Can you just share what your relationship with Oprah is like? She's someone who people hoped would run for President, you're running for President. Has she offered up any words of wisdom to you?

WILLIAMSON: First of all, no, I can't share with you what my relationship with her is about. And I I'm sure you can appreciate as a person in the public --

BALDWIN: People are curious, I had to ask.

WILLIAMSON: Yes, part of being your friend is I'm not going to say things.

BALDWIN: Of course.

WILLIAMSON: But I think also, I -- I don't think of myself as her spiritual adviser.

BALDWIN: How would you characterize it?

WILLIAMSON: Well, I am very grateful, because she has supported my books at various times, and I'm grateful for every word she's ever spoken to me, and every conversation I've ever had with her. But I -- she's never said to me, you're my spiritual adviser, you know, she's a spiritual adviser.

BALDWIN: Is she advising you at all, and taking all of this on?

WILLIAMSON: No, no, no, no, no. Oprah, no, no, absolutely not. And Oprah is a very a serious woman and I would never wish to exploit whatever that contact is in anyway shape or form.

BALDWIN: I had read that Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, they had invited you to Camp David in 1994. And certainly this is something she is familiar with. Have you been in touch with her at all? About --



WILLIAMSON: I certainly admire her greatly.

BALDWIN: OK. The folks -- just quickly -- you know, some people, obviously, you were the most Googled.

WILLIAMSON: Well, except Montana. What's in Montana?

BALDWIN: Everybody's like, who's Steve Bullock. Steve Bullock.

WILLIAMSON: What about Montana?

BALDWIN: You had said, whoever wins needs to not just water the leaves, but water the roots of our democracy. After last night, do you think the Democrats are in a better position or a worse position to beat Donald Trump?

BALDWIN: Well, I hope that my voice has contributed something to the conversation already. And I believe that it has. The very fact that you just mentioned that line. I think that people understand that we have to go deeper, the issue is are they prepared to go deeper, that's a very different question.

I think that there's an -- you know, I believe that when it am comes to political establishments, sometimes people are more interested in their club than their cause. And I think --

BALDWIN: So what does that mean for Democrats beating Donald Trump?

WILLIAMSON: What it means is there's an entrenched way of seeing and doing things that did not work last time, and it will not work this time.

BALDWIN: Unless?

WILLIAMSON: Unless people are open to some ideas that maybe aren't the ideas they're already carrying. And to be honest, when it comes to my candidacy, it's going to take a little more than just, oh, we have to listen to her. I have spent 35 years learning how to discern what's really going on inside people. And learning how to articulate what those things are in way that helps them change.

That's a skill set in and of itself, you can't just paste it on, all you want is my advice, read my books.

BALDWIN: No, I think your moment last night I think spoke for itself. Marianne Williamson --

WILLIAMSON: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much, good luck. Good luck to you.

Any moment now, former Vice President Joe Biden is set to take a tour of the debate stage here in Detroit. This as we're getting new reporting about how he's preparing for his own attacks from his rivals this evening in the Fox Theater. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We are back, live in Detroit. I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching a special edition of CNN and we've got a sneak peek inside that Ford Theater -- excuse me, Fox Theater. Where all these various candidates have been walking through, and we can't see him. I've got my eye on the screen, but I'm told he's just offstage. The former Vice President is in the house. So we'll keep one eye on that screen.

As I tell you this, we've gotten some new details about how former Vice President Joe Biden is preparing for attacks from his rivals this evening. Obviously, a lot of people are waiting to see the rematch between the former Vice President -- here he is. There we go. The former Vice President and Senator Kamala Harris, a senior campaign official tells us that Biden is prepared for quote, unquote, flat out lies, and distortions from his opponents, who he thinks will, their word, mischaracterize his record. Biden himself saying that he is, quote, not going to be as polite this time around.

So Bakari Sellers is with us, CNN political commentator. Someone who has endorsed the California Senator here with me in Detroit. And in Washington, D.C., Robert Hoopes, a former aid to the former Vice President who worked on Biden's first Presidential campaign. So gentlemen, pleasure. It's perfect timing with the former Vice President on stage. Tease me up Robert, so just for you. So Biden has promised as we said, you know, he's not going to be quite as polite as last time. But what does not as polite Joe Biden even look like?

ROBERT HOOPES, FORMER BIDEN AIDE: Yes. It's hard to imagine, actually, because he's so incredibly gracious and thoughtful. Look, I think for his prep for this debate, he knows that people are going to be coming at him. De Blasio, Cory Booker, Harris they've all sort of telegraphed it. So, you know, when you get ready for something like this, you prepare for the worst, and you hope for the best.

You know, what voters are interested in is hearing about the future, and about where these candidates want to take the party. But unfortunately, with such little time, you've got sort of ten candidates on the stage, in a two-hour debate.

[15:50:00] You have 8 to 9 minutes to use that time to try to take down or attack another Democrat, that is both good for Donald Trump and the Trump campaign. It also, I think, takes away from what these other candidates need to be doing which is talking about themselves and about you know how they're different, what they stand for. Elections are about choices. And how they would lead the Democratic party.

So Biden's going to be ready for that. He has debated Democrats, as folks know, Democrats debate one another all of the time. Governors, state houses, House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, it's not uncommon. It's not frankly unhealthy to debate ideas which is a lot of what we saw last night.

BALDWIN: Sure, but that last debate, that last debate, though, down in Miami with you know Senator Harris, I think perhaps she took some people by surprise. And really, she came in on the former Vice President. I think he really might have taken it a bit personally according to some of the reporting and so everyone is going to be watching. Of course, she's now standing next to him again tonight. So Bakari, to you, do you think she will be, should she be as forceful and fierce as she was the last go around?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, first of all, Senator Harris is forceful and fierce. I mean she is a very, very strong person. You don't become one of few black district attorneys and the first black female district attorney in San Francisco, Attorney General and now United States Senator without being forceful and fierce.

But there was nothing inaccurate about her being critical of Joe Biden's record. I think one of the problems the Vice President has and to steal a line from Joe Biden, is he wants it to be subject verb Obama. And he's going to have to deal with and reconcile his record from the time that he did not have Barack Obama as a shield or a halo, just as Senator Harris is going to have to reconcile her record, that is all fair.

This is not a circular firing squad. In fact, I think the last two or three weeks you haven't heard Senator Harris actually talk about that debate anymore. But just yesterday the Biden camp was still talking about it. She's not going to take any punches directly at Joe Biden unless she's hit. I think that her goal tonight is to go out and look Presidential.

She has a health care plan that she views to be stronger than Joe Biden's. Everyone has said, the experts have said, even Kathleen Sebelius, who was the architect of Obamacare, has said it 's a very good plan, it's a strong plan. She is firmly to the left of Joe Biden, she's to the right of Bernie and Elizabeth. She's going to articulate that vision and you know we'll see what excuses or things come out of whatever camps after this debate tonight.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to health care. But on your dig, Robert, I want you to respond to that subject verb Obama. I mean how many times do you think the former Vice President should invoke Obama tonight? Do you want to respond to that?

HOOPES: One, it is disingenuous because obviously Biden had the Obama halo effect when Obama picked him. Biden had the same record that he's got now, he's got the same public service. One of the things that people who are thinking about attacking the Vice President tonight ought to think about is, it hasn't worked, right.

The Vice President is leading every major poll, he is beating Trump in every major poll in swing states, in primary states and nationally. So I'm just not sure it is a winning strategy. It also could foretell a weakness as to your own narrative and what it is that you want to talk about. Health care specifically, Harris has wiggled frankly on this question. She was the first Democrat to sign on to Bernie Sanders "Medicare for All", Sanders has been -- to his credit very forthcoming about what he stands for which includes doing away with private health insurance.

Kamala Harris's plan kicks that can down the road for ten years. Joe Biden's plan, which, here it comes, he did and achieved with Democrats in Congress and the Senate and President Obama added 27 million people, protected 100 million people from pre-existing conditions and building on that and letting people keep their private insurance is about 1/30th the cost of the Harris' plan, Sanders' plan, than the Biden plan. So health care policy, it's a great debate for the Vice President. It is one that I think really resonates --

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Bakari. SELLERS: Yes. No, I just want to -- I think that this is actually a very healthy debate. This is where you're going to have a different debate than you had last night. And I need to fact check a few things first. First it's Kamala. And I think that has to be echoed off and many people mess it up but it is Kamala. Second, you know, this plan, her health care plan does not do away with private insurance.

In fact, people will be able to keep their private insurance and get it through the Medicare Advantage. It is not privatizing Medicare as the Sanders camp has said. There are people in this country who have Obamacare which I love and Senator Harris actually fought for when she was Attorney General who still have gaps, who still do not have health care coverage.

Senator Harris believes it is a human right that you should have access to the care. And so, you know, one of the things we'll see tonight is she's going to have to defend her plan.

[15:55:00] The other thing which Robert said which is just flat out incorrect about her plan is that she does not raise taxes on the middle class. That is a clear distinction between what she's doing and what Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are doing. She is not raising taxes on people who make money up to $100,000 a year. In fact, and I know she's going to have to answer this question, it's kind of the John Kerry you for it before you were against it --

BALDWIN: She is.

SELLERS: But I appreciate the fact that she traveled the country. There was a young man in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I was there, he owned a car dealership, who said I don't want to lose my private insurance. So it is OK to actually listen, adjust. Barack Obama actually fine-tuned his health care message throughout 2007. This is going to be an awesome event tonight.

BALDWIN: Bakari Sellers, Robert Hoopes. Gentlemen, thank you both very much. We should mention Senator Harris' communication director -- thank you. Senator Harris' communications director joins us live next hour. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Stay right here.