Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RIGHT NOW
Sanders & Warren Fend Off Moderate Rebukes at 1st CNN Debate; Marianne Williamson on Reparations: "A Debt that Is Owed"; Buttigieg Vows Afghan War Withdrawal in 1st Year; Warren Defends Proposed "No First Use" Policy on Nukes; Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, (D- MI), Discusses How Democrats Can Win Back Michigan Voters, Economy, G.M. Plant Closing Despite Trump Promise. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 31, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that the big winner 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 in the Party.
And particularly, Democratic primary voters, they wanted that debate. And I think they just got the best version of it. It was healthy, spirited, and got to issues, but also got to some of these higher ideals.
So no question, I don't think any candidate stood out. Democratic primary voters, big winner.
WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I co-sign everything, except my one disagreement is, I think, Warren. Warren stood out.
I'll tell you what, she was bold about her vision. She contrasted it to Trump's vision of hate. She tied it to her personal story, which is very important. I'm a midwestern girl. I came from Oklahoma. I didn't have much. But the country helped me. They gave me resources that allowed me to rise up. I want to give everyone those resources.
Then she doubled down on her policies. She didn't take the bait. She had that killer moment where she destroyed John Delaney.
KEILAR: She said, "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."
ALI: Top line of the night.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY & AUTHOR: I think Warren -- and, look, maybe I'm a bit personal here because I believe professors who speak to a broader public need to be supported. My god. We have sniveling anti-intellectualism. I mean, this is what you want professors to do.
She has a plan for that. You can mock her, but the point is that she had a vision, she had a plan, she had perspective, and she was willing to defend it. Don't go meekly and spinelessly into the night. Die, rage against the
DYSON: Play to win. Don't play to lose.
ASGUR: Debbie Downer -- he was the Debbie Downer from that "SNL" skit.
DYSON: And she is --
ALI: We literally murdered John Delaney.
DYSON: It's a verbal epitaph.
KEILAR: That said, we saw a lot of John Delaney. Some other folks we did not or they didn't capitalize on their moments. Who faded into the background, do you think?
ALI: Ryan. Ryan faded.
ALI: Tim Ryan.
KEILAR: Honestly, it's the person who you think they were on debate stage but you can't quite remember.
ALI: Beto tried. He had a strong debate this time but not enough. He faded. I know I'm going to get a lot of Beto trolls. It's OK. He could not recover from the misstep in the first debate. I think he faded, especially in comparison to the energy and boldness that Warren --
KEILAR: I want to listen to Marianne Williamson. This was also a big moment. This was her explanation for her plan for reparations for slavery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, SELF HELP COACH & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's $500 billion, $200 to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed. That is what reparations is.
WILLIAMSON: I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult. And I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today because so many Americans realize there's an injustice that continues to form a toxicity --
WILLIAMSON: -- underneath the surface an emotional turbulence --
WILLIAMSON: -- that only reparations will fix.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR & DEBATE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: She's probably the most unconventional of all the candidates on the debate stage and, yet, she is zoning in, rhetorically, on what Democratic voters are connecting with.
DYSON: She gave numbers, too. Here is my point, people mocking her, as a fellow minister, I'm not going to do that at all. I think her vision is powerful.
But what she said is that around, what, $200 to $500 billion? She's willing to give a number. We can debate that because, so far, America has not even been willing to acknowledge that reparations should be paid.
Martin Luther King Jr, in his book in 1964, "Why We Can't Wait," said a nation that's done something special against the negro, as we were called for 250 years, has now to do something special for the negro. Her point is, how do we translate that? How do we make it an issue that the American public understands?
She said, look, we're not going to wreck the economy, trillions of dollars. It's not justice but it is an attempt to somehow forge a connection between the 40 acres and mule that was promised. And I say, look, if you ain't got 40 acres, give me one on Wall Street. And if you ain't got a mule, give me a jaguar.
But the point is that she understands that you have to give some substance to an ideal and she made it in a compelling way and linked it to the spiritual claims that the right-wing claims all the time to be concerned about. Evangelicals who claim piety.
Marianne Williamson, from the left, is giving a political spirituality that has the ability to speak to people where they live. That shouldn't be mocked.
ISGUR: Politically speaking, the polling on this has shifted maybe more than any other issue we've seen. Among African-American voters, it has shifted from about 50 to 73 percent in support. Among Hispanic voters, it's now at 50 percent support. Among white voters, it's ticking up quite a bit.
To be able to tap into an issue that's moved that much, whether she had seen that polling or not, that was something very intuitive about it, especially when she says these guys want to study the issue. And it showed them -- politicians versus outsider, which is what she needs.
KEILAR: Sarah Isgur, Wajahat Ali, Michael Eric Dyson, thank you so much to you.
Any moment, we're expecting to see Senator Kamala Harris for her walk through of the debate hall, which you are looking at there in Detroit. We'll keep an eye on that.
What do Democrats need to say tonight to win back Michigan voters who helped elect Donald Trump president in 2016?
[13:35:07] Also, we're just days after two U.S. servicemembers were killed in Afghanistan, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor from South Bend, has a promise.
[13:39:53] KEILAR: The war in Afghanistan is America's longest war. While the number of U.S. troops have dropped over the years, there are approximately 14,000 are still in country. The question of when to bring them home looms large over Democratic presidential candidates.
We have Phil Mudd with us to discuss this. I should mention he has a new book out as well, "Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World."
Let's talk about Mayor Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He served seven months on a tour in Afghanistan. This is what he said about withdrawing troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR & DEBATE MODERATOR: You have said, quote, "One thing everybody can agree on is that we're getting out of Afghanistan."
Will you withdraw all U.S. servicemembers by the end of your first year in office?
PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will withdraw. We have to.
TAPPER: In your first year?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, around the world, we will do whatever it takes to keep America safe. But I thought I was one of the last troops leaving Afghanistan when I thought I was turning out the lights years ago.
Every time I see news about somebody being killed in Afghanistan, I think about what it was like to hear an explosion over there and wonder whether it was somebody I served with, somebody I knew, a friend, roommate, colleague.
We're pretty close to the day when we will wake up to the news of a casualty in Afghanistan who was not born on 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We're already at the point where we see casualties who were not very old on 9/11.
Is it really possible, Phil, to withdraw totally from Afghanistan without creating a vacuum that actually endangers U.S. national security?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think as long as you have the other half of the conversation with the American people, the other half is recognized, that means the Taliban will be in a position of power and may take over.
Now, we could get into this for three hours, which we won't. There are reasons that might happen anyway.
The second question is, are you sure you don't want to have a stay- behind force to hunt down terrorists who remain because the Afghan government might not do that. Who is going to hunt the al-Qaeda of the future?
You can get there, but I think you have to have the second half of the conversation with the American people about what risk comes after it.
KEILAR: I want to talk about something Elizabeth Warren said. She committed to a "no first use" policy on nuclear weapons. What do you think?
MUDD: I buy that. You step back and say, try to come up with a scenario where we say there's an adversary that poses a conventional threat or maybe we're in a conventional war and we say we're going to use a nuclear weapon first, it's hard for me to come up with a scenario.
Of course, somebody is going to say World War II, a scenario where we come back and say it's a good idea for the most powerful nation in the world to depend on nuclear weapons. Hard for me to see that.
KEILAR: You have this new book out, "Black Site: The CIA in the Post- 9/11 World." Tell us about it.
MUDD: The proposition was simple. I was running one day, I'm a runner in the morning, and I was thinking there's a perspective from the people I worked with on 9/11 who developed the black sites and the detention facilities and interrogation tactics. They haven't spoken.
If anybody, whether you like what we did or don't like it, wants to step back and stand in our shoes, I wanted to write that book. This was a chance to say, I may not like what they did, but I want to understand what happened in the most stressful time in American history. I talked to about 35 people I knew and wrote the book.
KEILAR: Looking back on it, in retrospect, what does hindsight give you in terms of judging decisions that were made? MUDD: The hindsight gives me the chance to say, look, we should have
had broader conversations with Congress. That was one of the basic -- where the people elected by Americans to determine if the CIA is doing the right thing.
But in terms of looking back at the -- what we did after 9/11 and the black sites, a lot of people, again, don't like it. But at that time, I have a hard time looking back and saying, man, that was a horrible choice. It was tough. I'm not sure it was a great choice, but we did have very many options.
KEILAR: People can read your book and make that decision.
MUDD: Please do.
KEILAR: Phil Mudd, thank you very much.
[13:43:47] Michigan went red for the first time in decades during the 2016 election. What do Democrats need to say to win back those once- reliable voters, especially amid news that a Detroit auto plant is closing down this week?
[13:49:00] KEILAR: All right. We are following the debates in Detroit. Live pictures right now outside Fox Theater where Senator Kamala Harris is soon going to arrive for her walk-through ahead of the second night where 10 candidates will take the stage in this CNN debate.
Harris is set for a rematch with Joe Biden, the former vice president. This will follow their heated clash over race and busing, busing for desegregation, at the first Democratic debates last month.
Michigan is an important place. This is a must-win state for Democrats if they want to take back the White House. Not only was it one of the few states that ended up tipping the scale for Donald Trump in 2016, but it just barely did so. Fewer than 11,000 votes separated Hillary Clinton there between -- as you can see.
And on top of that, more than 200,000 Michigan voters cast a ballot for third-party candidates. Turnout among African-Americans, normally, a reliable Democratic voting group, was significantly down. It was this perfect storm that we saw that delivered that state for Donald Trump.
I'm here now with lieutenant governor of Michigan, Garlin Gilchrest.
Lieutenant Governor, thank you for being with us.
[13:50:12] GARLIN GILCHRIST, (D), MICHIGAN LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Thank you so much for having me.
KEILAR: Election night was not the first sign that Michigan may have been up for grabs in 2016. Bernie Sanders won Michigan in the primary. He mentioned that last night. He was in Florida. He thought he was going to lose. The polls had him losing by more than 20 points. In the end, he pulled out a win by one point. His event actually was over in Florida because he had gone dark for the night expecting a loss.
Considering that, with an eye to Michigan, what do these Democratic candidates need to do tonight?
GILCHRIST: Well, the first thing Democratic candidates need to do in Michigan is show up. We need to make sure they're making their presence felt in Republican communities.
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer and I won in 2018, it's because we showed up in every single county. The governor won all three 83 counties, because she went to all 83 counties and listened to people.
And our campaign was responsive to what we heard. We were talking about infrastructure and making sure our roads were built and fixed. We were talking about clean drinking water and making up for the damage done by the Flint water crisis. We were talking about fixing our education system and truly investing in it and closing the skills gap.
These Democratic candidates talk about these issues that really matter to voters. If they do that in Michigan, they do that around the country, we'll have a Democratic president.
KEILAR: When you listen to voters in Michigan, some people who might normally be on the fence or might be -- you would think, at least in the past, reliably Democratic, people who have strong union identification, they care, it seems, about the economy first and foremost.
Those other issues you talk about are of concern to them that the economy is what matters. And they're actually pretty happy with President Trump.
What do you say to Democratic candidates with that in mind?
GILCHRIST: Well, the truth is, the economy is not working for everyone. It's not been working for the people in Ohio, where we have a plant that's closed. But it has been working with people in Michigan. Our leadership has worked with the community, worked with labor, has to go and create jobs.
SCA is opening a new plant in Detroit, that my uncle used to work at back in the day. They're expanding that plant. Creating thousands of jobs and having billions of dollars of investment. If we sit down and work together.
But the truth is the economy has not been working for enough people. There are people in this city, my hometown of Detroit, for whom the economy is not working. We need to create jobs. If we're building infrastructure, we can train people for it, how to be carpenters, how to be plumbers, how they can have skills in trades. How they can go to a community college or go to a four-year college and not get into debt. These are the issues we need to talk about. And that will make the
economy work for more people. And this is what Democrats need to home in, in 2020.
KEILAR: Lieutenant Governor, I do want to -- we have more questions ahead for you.
But I want to let our viewers know, as we're looking at live pictures, this is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is on the stage in Detroit inside of the debate hall doing her walk-through. It's imperative to have her breakthrough moment tonight. We'll be looking ahead to see if she delivers on that this evening.
You mentioned this G.M. plant is shutting down near Detroit this week. There's 200 people who are losing their jobs. Candidates addressed unionization last night. They talked about trade deals.
Who do you think is doing the best job of reaching out to autoworkers or talking about these issues? What do you think?
GILCHRIST: The person who's doing the worst job when it comes to keeping promises in Michigan is President Donald Trump. That was one of the biggest broken promises to voters in Michigan.
And so we have to recognize that we have an opportunity to create jobs and an opportunity for more people in Michigan, that unions are actually a good thing, because they are representing --
KEILAR: And I hear you. I know, I know, Lieutenant Governor, you don't want to take a position on a candidate. I'm not asking you to do that.
But when you heard last night the discussion or you've been hearing this over the last few weeks, is there anyone in particular who you think is speaking to this issue, even in a way that other candidates might want to take a page out of their book?
GILCHRIST: You know, honestly, I need to see a lot more. We did hear a little bit about it. I would have liked to have a lot more time during last night's debate.
GILCHRIST: Talking more about trade. The candidates need to tease that out.
The best place to understand or shape your agenda for how you want to serve working people is to come here in Michigan and meet those voters.
KEILAR: You know what Michigan Democrats are saying, so candidates willing listening to you.
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, thank you so much for being with us.
GILCHRIST: Thank you for having me.
KEILAR: We're just hours away now from night two of the Democratic debates. The candidates are arriving to scope out the stage to do their final walk-throughs.
[13:54:49] Our special coverage of the CNN Democratic debates continues with Brooke Baldwin, next.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You're watching CNN special live coverage here in Detroit. I'm Brooke Baldwin. I'm happy to be back. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being here.
[13:59:55] When the Democrats vying for the White House took to the stage here at the Fox Theater across the way from me last night, the name Joe Biden wasn't even mentioned. But tonight, the frontrunner and former vice president will be right in the center of the action, literally, center stage.