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Yang Arrives for the Democratic Debate; Biden and Harris Rematch; Tom Perez is Interviewed about the Democratic Debates; Winner of First Debate. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:21] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar.

And it's fight night in the motor city. We are just hours away from round two of the CNN Democratic debates in Detroit.

And night one was all about the progressives versus the moderates. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both fiercely defending their ideologies, forging an alliance on center stage.

And then tonight, ten more Democratic candidates will take the stage, including the two who had the most contentious moment at the last debate, Joe Biden, the frontrunner, and Senator Kamala Harris. This time the former vice president says he's going to stand up for himself, vowing to be, quote, less polite when it comes to defending his record.

Harris will be standing right next to Biden on the same stage for the first time since she criticized him to his face on his stance opposing bussing to desegregate schools in the 1970s.

And Senator Cory Booker, recently one of Biden's loudest critics, will be on Biden's other side as he and several other candidates fight to stay in the race in the do or die debate.

Ana Cabrera is live inside of the debate hall where some of the candidates are starting to arrive for their walk-throughs.

Tell us what can we expect, Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Andrew Yang just arrived. He's the first candidate of debate night two to do his walk-through today. Let me step aside. You can see, he's behind the podium, getting a real feel for the space ahead of tonight's debate. He's a businessman and entrepreneur. And he's really running on a plan to give every American adult $1,000 a month. That is his sell. And he calls it his freedom dividend. His campaign hopes he'll have a lot more time to talk about that tonight.

He was the candidate who had the least amount of speaking time in the first round of debates last months, just two minutes and fifty seconds. And so he'll be on stage, alongside Kamala Harris, hoping to get a little bit more air time. Kamala Harris will be center stage with Joe Biden and a lot of anticipation about the dynamics between those two tonight after the confrontation last time around.

We know Joe Biden's campaign is saying he plans to come out, be more aggressive. They think he was too polite in the first match-up here. They say he is anticipating multiple attacks, but he also wants to really take his case to President Trump. That's been part of his strategy since the day he entered the race. He wants to own the electability argument. And right now the polls are on his side.

Harris saw an initial boost in the polls after that first debate. Her numbers have since come down. When she was asked what her plan is for tonight, she told our Kyung Lah it's to not mess up. I talked to her campaign staffer who told me that they're not going to telegraph her strategy for tonight, but that her preparation has been similar to the first time and it worked for her.

We know she's been in Detroit for the past several days. She had a date night with her husband over the weekend, going to dinner and a concert.

She'll also be on stage near Cory Booker and Julian Castro. Expect both of them to come out potentially with some punches tonight. We know Booker has been going after Joe Biden on race issues leading up to tonight's debate. Julian Castro had a moment in the first round of debates, talking on immigration, taking on Beto O'Rourke. And he's going to try to make his case tonight here to get a little bit more support.

All these candidates, of course, had an opportunity to see the dynamics of debate night one. That maybe gives them a better feel for the debate format, how the issues were addressed at least in night one. But it is a new cast of candidates. So, Brianna, we can expect some surprises.

KEILAR: Indeed.

Ana Cabrera, thank you so much.

Maybe a surprise even from Andrew Yang. He's pretty close here to qualifying for the next debate. So he does need maybe a little help tonight.

Joining me now to discuss this is Wajahat Ali. He's a contributing op- ed writer for "The New York Times." We have CNN political analyst Sarah Isgur with us, as well as we have Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who has a new book coming out soon, "Jay-z: Made in America."

So let's talk about the Joe Biden change that he's trying to make an adjustment from last time. He was clearly was worried that he was going to be too aggressive, or at least that's what he said, if he was defending himself and he was taking incoming on the stage. But he's not going to be polite this time. What do you think that means?

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, last time he was defensive when he needed to be empathetic, right? And he was weak when he had to be aggressive. And it was all over the place. He did not look presidential. He looked like he was unsure, unsteady, who was remarkable considering out of all the 20, what, 30, 40 candidates that are running, he has the most --

KEILAR: Four thousand now I think.

ALI: Yes, the 4,000 candidates that are running, he had the most experience. So it will be really interesting for him because if he does go aggressive and he hits really hard, I think he's going to lose some of that momentum with black voters and also women voters who recognize that his -- if the defensiveness last time, if you will, when it came to his past record on the crime bill, when it came to bussing, when it came to working with segregationists, it turned a lot of people off. So he has to actually act -- wait for it, I'm going to use the word -- presidential tonight and modulate that performance. And I also hope he's play to win and actually convinces Americans why they should vote for him, not because he can win the ordinary American in the rust belt, but because he's the president for all of us.

[13:05:29] KEILAR: It is -- that -- modulate, that's an interesting way to describe it. Pick the moment. Pick the response. Respond appropriately, right?

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But I think he has some things going for him. First of all, the main debate that happened last night was about progressivism and whether that fits with electability. He doesn't have to have that debate tonight. That was a -- very specific to who was in last night's debate, I think. And so tonight he actually gets sort of the redo with Kamala Harris that he can prepare for very easily. You can watch the tape. You can figure out what you could have done differently. Yes, it won't be exactly, but in that sense he doesn't have to go to a totally different debate. This will look very similar for him. And so if you're his strategist behind the scenes, I think you're very happy with your draw tonight, you're happy you're not up against Warren and Sanders and you want the redo.

KEILAR: I wonder -- this redo, though, because where you see Kamala Harris, she had that moment. She had the big moment even of the two nights. She didn't get a bounce, though, among black voters, really, which might have been what she was going for. Joe Biden, he's still very solid. Does she need to change her approach, maybe focus on electability, focus on her policies? What do you think?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE": Well, obviously, the broader political landscape is going to dictate the terms of the debate in part. And since we have a horrendous figure as a racist in chief, as the president of the United States of America, that sets the tone. So it doesn't have to be intermural fighting between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris or Cory Booker or Julian Castro. The president of the United States has so vigorously prosecuted a case, a war against Baltimore, a war against African-Americans and Latinos and against every other in this country that what Kamala Harris needs to do, I think, is to focus on trying to make an argument that carries against that, that thrusts against that. And then she proves her electability.

Joe Biden is going to come strong. As Sarah just said, he has his case in store. He's been the vice president of the United States for eight years. I got my bona fides right here. I've done what I've done. Now let me stretch out and tell you why I should be president of the United States of America.

Kamala Harris has proved that African-American people will never vote for a figure, despite what the stereotypes are, because you're black. You've got to prove what you're doing. What have you done for me lately? What have you done to better my life? And she's going to come out, I assume, and vigorously talk about that, but it can't simply be skin color. It's got to be about an affiliation forged in the trenches of politics that shows that you're willing to stand up and defend the very people who are being buffeted by this viciousness that we see going on.

KEILAR: How do you think the calculous is changing compared to the last debate on these candidates pitting themselves against Trump as opposed to pitting themselves against each other? What do you think?

ALI: I think the soul of the country is at stake in 2020. I really believe that. And I think people are realizing that this is not just about policy anymore. It's about literally the battle for the identity of this country. That's what 2020 is going to be about.

What Trump did in the last two weeks -- well, actually, he's been doing his entire career -- is go all in with white nationalism, right? That 13-second chant in North Carolina, "send her back," "send her back," the attacks on Baltimore, the attacks today on our colleague, Don Lemon. Surprise, surprise, notice a trend? And I think people are realizing, OK, we're going to call him out. This is what you saw yesterday, we're going to call him out aggressively. All the candidates did that. But none call him out in this hateful vision of America. We're now going to side step and give you a broad, new vision.

I think that's the calculus. It's not going to be just about policy, it is, what is your vision for 2020 and the future? And these are the policies that will get us there. And who is the most bold and offensive and aggressive on these policies? Who's going to be a fighter and who's not going to just court the ordinary rustbelt voter, but court all the voters? I think that's the shift from yesterday, today, and also the shift from the last two week.

KEILAR: Sarah, we saw -- we've seen -- we know -- we know who -- we were look -- the people that we're looking at tonight, because they have a lot at stake, because they're frontrunners, let's say, but there are a lot of people who, this is it, it's like final death, right? It's like -- it's do or die for them. Who are you watching who need something tonight to get into the next debate, or really they're caput?

ISGUR: More than half of the people that we're watching right now would not be in the next debate. Probably in the end we'll have about 10 make it through to the next debate. That means ten of these folks, this is it, this is their last night or last night was their last night.

[13:10:00] Senator Gillibrand, she is someone who I think came in with what we assume would be more momentum and it just never happened. Amy Klobuchar, from last night, in a similar situation, and they're not moving forward. Bill de Blasio, who knows where that's -- I mean I don't think that's happening. Stop trying to make fetch happen.

DYSON: Well, you know, it's like when you go to school and they say, you look around --


DYSON: Half of the people here will not be here when you graduate.

But I think going back to brother Ali's point, you know, look at what -- look how people tried to characterize Marianne Williamson, a remarkable preacher and spiritual adviser. But what she was speaking to was what you're talking about. When she talked about psychic darkness, she's talking about forces that are beyond politics. This transcends political party.

We are indeed fighting for, as you said, the soul of the nation, and for a vision that prevails. And who is truly American. What Donald Trump has brilliantly, with evil, I might add, has done is divided the Americans from the un-Americans, the patriots from the non-patriots. And it's his narrow litmus test that has prevailed.

What these figures have to do tonight is to say, no, America is bigger, broader, more profound than what this man has reduced it to and we are American, too, and we are fighting for those who have a vision in common with us. So I think that spiritual, plus that political, is something that needs to be combined.

ISGUR: And I think --

KEILAR: All right, you guys, we have -- we have more to talk -- we can talk about it more because you guys are the best, so I'm going to have you stick around and have another conversation.

ALI: Oh, wow.


ALI: Very nice. Thank you.

KEILAR: And speaking of, one of the moments that everyone is talking about, Marianne Williamson's answer on race and reparations.

Also, with so many older candidates in the race, is age an issue? You will be hearing the view from the youngest candidate.

And moments away from Kamala Harris and Joe Biden's arrivals to the debate hall. We're going to see them live.

This is CNN's special coverage.


[13:16:43] KEILAR: We are just hours away from night two of the Democratic debates here on CNN.

We have DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez joining us.

Secretary, thank you so much.

And we were just looking there at some live pictures inside of the debate hall. We actually are expecting some of these candidates to be doing their walk-throughs here. So we'll be going back to take their look as they do walk through live.


KEILAR: I just want to let our viewers know.

Thank you, of course, for being with us.

You are watching this so intensely. The candidates took on President Trump last night. They also went after each other's policies.

Is the latter helpful, the in-fighting? What do you think?

PEREZ: Oh, we don't -- I don't know that I would call it in-fighting. I call it spiritual debate. We -- we all want to get to universal health care. We're roughly 85, 90 percent of the way there thanks to Democrats. We're having a discussion about how to get the last, you know, 10 percent or so. And there are undeniably, Brianna, differences of opinion. I think that's healthy for the party. Voter will figure out which pathway do you think works best for you, your family and for our nation and they'll make that choice.

I mean you go back to July of 2007, there was a spirited debate between, you know, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about a number of important issues, including, but not limited to the war in Iraq. That debate was spirited. It was heated. And we came together and we won. The rest is history. And we're going to do the same thing here.

KEILAR: All right, and I just want to let our viewers know, we're looking at I -- Jay Inslee, right, is that what we're seeing here? My monitor's a little far away from here. This is Jay Inslee, the Washington state governor, who is there inside of the debate hall about to do his walk-through. So we'll be keeping our eyes on that.

But, Secretary, you say -- OK, you say it's not in-fighting. You say it's spirited debate. But you had moderate candidates who were calling Medicare for all, quote, bad policy, something that would, quote, rip away quality health care and, quote, wish list economics was how the more liberal candidates' policies were described.

Elizabeth Warren called those characterizations Republican talking points. So that -- she's not saying just that this is spirited debate. She's saying that Democrats are using Republican talking points.

PEREZ: Well, again, you know, if you go back to previous primaries, you're going to see similar conversations during the debate. And here's what everybody agrees on, and we saw this last night, we're all trying to get from where we are now, which is pretty far up the mountain, to universal health care. And that is -- that is the holy grail. And we have undeniable differences of opinion. And there are strong differences of opinion on how best to get there. And that's why we're going to have this debate tonight. We'll -- I'm confident, I'm certain we'll talk about it again tonight. And then we'll have the voters decide. And that will very much dictate the direction of the party on this.

But what I would say to viewers is, watch carefully and what you'll see is the other side wants to take us back to the bottom of the mountain. If you have a pre-existing condition, they want you to be out of luck. They're not doing a damn thing about prescription drug costs. We want to -- we want to fix all of this. And we've got different formulas and different ideas, but we're all trying to move up the mountain, not down the mountain.

KEILAR: So I think, above all, you want a Democrat and voters to choose. You're offering them a lot of different products. Certainly there was a lot of contrast last night and we expect to see that again tonight.

[13:20:05] But you want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. So with that in mind, what do you want these candidates going into this debate tonight to have in their mind?

PEREZ: To focus on the issues and to focus on our core values. Our core values are very, very straightforward. We believe that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for a few. We believe that the economy should work for everybody, not just a few at the top. We believe that America is at its best when we're united, not divided. And the differences between us and this president couldn't be greater. We want to tackle the crisis of climate change and they want to deny the science. We want to tackle the public health epidemic that is gun violence and they're (INAUDIBLE) in the pocket of the NRA.

That is -- those are the -- the differences in values. Our north star is different than their north star. Donald Trump's north star is, I want to help people like me. The Democrats' north star is, I want to make sure that average Americans, everybody has that access to opportunity and the American dream. It's a really, really big difference and we're at this moral fork in the road here in our nation's journey to form a more perfect union. And that's why these debates are so critically important.

KEILAR: All right, Tom Perez, thank you so much for joining us.

And from fairy tale economics to dark psychic forces, last night's debate had plenty of witty one liners, but there -- were there any real standouts among the crowded field?

Plus, 40 acres, a mule and somewhere between $200 and $500 billion. The discussions on reparations that's getting a lot of attention.


[13:26:33] KEILAR: The dividing line at the debate last night was really between the moderates and the progressives. Senator Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren defended their policy proposals against those who argued that their ideas would get President Trump re- elected.


JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions not impossible promises, when we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economic.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, 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.

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

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

SANDERS: Second of all --

RYAN: You don't know that, Bernie.

SANDERS: Second of all --

JAKE TAPPER, MODERATOR: We'll come to you in a second, Congressman.

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

DELANEY: With his -- with bad policies like Medicare for all, free everything, and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get Trump re-elected.

TAPPER: What do you say to Congressman Delaney?

SANDERS: You're wrong.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if we're going to force Americans to make these radical changes, they're not going to go along. You -- throw your hands up, but you --

SANDERS: All right.

HICKENLOOPER: You haven't --

Whoa-ho, I can do it.

DON LEMON, MODERATOR: Congressman Delaney, I'm coming to you now.

Your estimated network worth is more than $65 million. That would make you subject to Senator Warren's proposed wealth tax on the assets of the richest 75,000 homes, households or so in the United States.

DANA BASH, MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator Sanders.

Congressman, your response?

RYAN: Well, yes, I -- I would just say, I didn't say we couldn't get there until 2040, Bernie. You don't have to yell.

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.


KEILAR: All right, let's talk about all of this with Wajahat Ali, Sarah Isgur and Michael Eric Dyson, back with us.

I love the concentrated version of the debate, right? It's all the -- the moments.

ISGUR: That's about like it, yes.

KEILAR: Nothing of -- none of the blander parts in between.

OK, so this is, though, this -- this is very important to look at because this is the internal debate that you are seeing. And it is playing out on stage.

What do we think about this?

DYSON: Well, first of all, I think it's important that Democrats show the world that you can have vigorous debate, right? The Republicans are lining up behind a man who is a clear bigot, have no dissent from him, don't even make a distinction between their variety of Americanism versus his, whereas the Democrats are saying, look, there is a war going on. And it's between progressives and moderates and liberals and radicals. And that's a good thing to have. We can show varieties of opinion. We can show varieties of -- and alternative viewpoints and at the same time say that the end goal still is not only to beat Donald Trump but to put forth a vision that is connected to people where they live.

And, look, I know they beat -- I'm from Detroit. So I was glad to see Marianne Williamson mention that if the Flint crisis was going on in Gross Point, a very elite suburb, it wouldn't be treated the same way as Flint was. I mean to make -- so she has not only a kind of spiritual projection, but she's got a kind of rooted empirical politics as well.

KEILAR: Yes, that was a very interesting point. It's always interesting to see how they tie it to the place where they are physically.

All right, who did better, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren? What did you think?

[13:29:49] ISGUR: I think that the big winner last night was Democratic primary voters. It was a great debate for them because they got to both talk about electability and really debate that, dig into it. And, at the same time, debate progressive issues, something that we haven't seen and that the party, and I think particularly Democratic primary voters, they wanted that debate and I think they just got the best version of it. It was -- it was healthy. It was spirited