Return to Transcripts main page


Moments Away: CNN Democratic Debate, Round Two; Will Joe Biden Bounce Back? Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 19:00   ET


KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: ... and be on top of things and I don't think people are as bothered by that. And I think you see, especially with Bernie Sanders, I mean his biggest supporters are young people. I mean young people are not all turned off.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And Bernie Sanders with a bigger number.


BURNETT: Did not have any issue.

JONES: Hey, listen, last night Elizabeth Warren at 70 years old was running circles around the entire debate stage.


JONES: Exactly. So what's interesting is you have young people, whether you're talking about Mayor Pete or Tulsi Gabbard that actually seemed like old souls. They don't seem as young as they are and then you've got some of these older people that seem very, very young. Trump seems young. I mean, unfortunately.


JONES: Bernie seems young, Elizabeth seems young, Biden sometimes seems old. It's not the number. It's there's something else there and I think that he's got to shake that off. He does shake that off.

BURNETT: And speaking of Joe Biden, he is arriving right now, as I said the last to arrive. And here he is arriving at the Fox Theater here in Detroit.

JONES: There he is. Yes.

BURNETT: His trademark smile.

JONES: Yes. He look young today.


BURNETT: OK. So far so good.

JONES: So far so good.

BURNETT: Go ahead with your thought.

JONES: Well, I just think that he's got to put this thing to bed. Reagan had messed himself up in a debate and then he figured out a way to joke his way out of it, he went on to victory. Joe Biden's got to put this thing to bed, because if he has a another shaky performance, then the age issue is going to come on him and he won't be able to scrape it off.

MCINTOSH: Yes. I think we focused so much on the moment with Kamala that we're not talking about the rest of the debate performance and that first debate performance even before Kamala went after him was lackluster. I was surprised.

BURNETT: Giving back his time. There was some hesitation.

MCINTOSH: Yes. "Sorry, my time is up." It's not a thing. You should ever say in a debate. I think, I mean, when Kamala went after him, I was honestly concerned for her because at that point she was so far ahead. She was already winning. She was already incredibly charismatic.

Every time she opened her mouth, she was doing great and Biden was sort of fading into the background, which was not at all what I expected from that first night. So when she went after him, I was like, "Oh, girl, you're good." But then it landed, so it worked out all right.

BURNETT: So how does he handle the pressure? You know him, you helped prepare him. I mean, look, it doesn't matter how old you are, it doesn't matter how many times you've done this. This is a stressful night for him.

FORMER GOVERNOR JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D-MI): Oh, my god, it's stressful for everybody. Right now everybody is freaking out back there. They just want this to be over with. They've all prepared. But he's got to do several things.

One, he does have to seem like he's on his game, like he's with it, He's on it. But also he's going to come in wanting to inspire and yet be able to punch. And if he's attacked - so the question is, I'm going to be watching, does he punch before he's attacked or does he wait to be attacked?

Because really what people who are watching want to know is are you going to punch for me? What are the policies you're putting forward that's going to help my life? Not the details, not the weeds, but do you demonstrate an empathy, an authentic empathy for me and is that what this is coming from.

So he's going to get attacked, how quickly can he pivot, how quickly does punch back and can he demonstrate that he's for them.

BURNETT: I mean, what we saw last night is, OK, you get rebuttal. You got 30 seconds. None of those are for thinking, you get 10 turn it, 10 to fight back and 10 to slam. I mean, you have no time to think. FORMER GOVERNOR TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA): Well, every one of them has

thought about what they're going to use their time for. You know exactly what they're going to say. I'm sure the Vice President has spent the last couple days, every possible question, every scenario, what they're going to hit him on, what he hits back.

I mean this is tough as the last debate was for him, this is an opportunity, because everybody is talking about expectations and what's Joe Biden going to - he has an opportunity if he can connect with the American public tonight. Show strength, show vigor, this could be a huge night for him.


BURNETT: What do you make, Van, of the fact that after the last debate, his poll numbers fell? OK, that was to be expected but yet they came back.

JONES: Yes, I'll tell you why.

BURNETT: They are now going to Quinnipiac higher than they were before.

JONES: I'll tell you why. Donald Trump came out and show the full nasty side of who he is and who we can be and I think people looked at that and they said, "You know what? I do not want that in the White House anymore."

BURNETT: You're talking about a squad.

JONES: Oh, my god the squad.

BURNETT: You're talking about Elijah Cummings, the rats.

JONES: (Inaudible) rat infested and people's like, "Where is the class? Where is the character? Where is the gravitas?" And you look around and Joe Biden scratches that itch for a lot of people and you got about half of the black vote just parked with Joe Biden. Now, if somebody else comes along and can make a compelling case, they'll believe him. But right now, I think you had a lot of people go right back to Joe Biden.

BURNETT: Is park the word you want to have though? I mean, yes, you want them there and not elsewhere, if you're Joe Biden, but you need them to want to ...

JONES: I think his support is weak but it is substantial. In other words, I think right now the numbers are there, but I think it's very thin. You don't see anybody running around saying, "Joe Biden," doing some somersaults and backflips and tattoo his name on their forehead. They say, "I'm with Joe, because I want Trump out of there."

BURNETT: So obviously you have a lot of people, Kirsten, on that stage tonight and also last night. Trying to make their case. We heard all the moderates last night, basically. Their case is if Joe Biden starts to lose in the polls, here I am, here I am. [19:05:06] So tonight you have a lot of people onstage. You got

Michael Bennet, you got Cory Booker, Jay Inslee, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, it would seem. I mean, some of these people know that this is their last shot.

POWERS: Kirsten Gillibrand.

BURNETT: Kirsten Gillibrand, some of them think they have a little longer, but they got to go for it. Who has the shot?

POWERS: Well, I think they all have to go for it. But I think one of the first people who's really underperforming so far as Cory Booker. So I'm really looking to see if tonight is the night that he can really break out and there's been suggestions that he's going to go after Biden.

And I don't know how that's going to play, because Cory's brand really has been to be somebody who goes after people and pick fights.


POWERS: So he's in kind of a tough situation, but I do think that this is becoming do or die for a lot of these people and I think for him and for Gillibrand in particular.

JONES: I think Cory is on very thin ice. If he decides to go and try to beat up Joe Biden about criminal justice stuff ...

POWERS: He should come back at them.

JONES: ... yes, come back at them. Cory's police department, he unleashes police department on crime, locked up a lot of people, got in trouble to ACLU. Why? Because he was scared about a crime, wait, that's the same thing Joe Biden did. So you got two people who did the same thing, you're going to beat ...


GRANHOLM: The irony about this too is the 1994 crime bill actually gave the Department of Justice the ability to go after local police departments in pattern and practice investigation. So Cory Booker brings that up, his police department was actually supervised and went after by the Department of Justice for that.

BURNETT: Well, he wants to be in that top tier and make that next debate, so he preps as much as anyone. Has everything to gain and everything to lose tonight. All right. We have to get a quick break in as we get ready for our program to continue.

Anderson will be back next for closer look at how prepared Joe Biden is for some of the attacks, for the intensity of the night. We are talking about all 10 candidates are now in that hall and everyone is getting ready for what will be a pivotal debate just moments away right here live on CNN from Detroit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:11:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, there's certainly a lot

of tension, a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation building here in Detroit. All 10 candidates are now in the hall. Joe Biden was the last to arrive. They're getting ready backstage as we get ready for the second big night of debating.

Now, earlier tonight, panelists Jess McIntosh said that as a Democrat she was looking for reassurance tonight from the former vice president, that may be true for many Democrats. At the same time, going by the polls, an awful lot of Democrats go into this debate feeling pretty good about him as a candidate and it'll be certainly fascinating to see if perceptions change one way or the other tonight.

So we're joined now by our panel, Nia-Malika Henderson, David Axelrod, Gloria Borger and, of course, John King. John, we haven't heard from you. It's interesting listening sort of in the run up to this all of the advice expectations being put on Vice President Biden. He's got to look forward, but he should also be able to defend his record. He's got to be able to attack, but he's also got to be able attack Trump. There's a lot riding on him.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a very lot riding on him. It's deep in the rearview mirror, but Joe Biden has run twice before and both times he has sputtered when he got to this kind of a crossroad. So this is a giant test for him. He has to know that in his personal history.

I would argue last night actually raised the stakes. The stakes for tonight already were high for Joe Biden. I would argue last night raised them even more and here's why, first, he has the performance challenge. In the first debate he was lackluster. Kamala Harris out hustled him, out debated him.

Yes, it was about crime and race issues, set that a little from it because he's supposed to be bigger than them, better than them. He's the heir apparent to Barack Obama. He has the gravitas. "I can take on Trump."

If these newer, younger candidates are out debating you, how do you make the case you're better than Donald Trump? So he has to perform tonight. Those issues might come up again and he's going to have better answers on the issues. But the bigger question is the performance. Are you really Mr. gravitas? Can you really take him on the performance?

I would say the substance bar is raised because of last night. A lot of moderate Democrats saw what happened last night and they're thinking, "Wow, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have passion. They have conviction." We think they're leading the party way too far left. We think that's dangerous, especially impressed with Elizabeth Warren.

Can Joe Biden on the health care issue tonight and on that broader question, how left can you go, can he make a substantive, a policy argument, you're wrong and here's why. Not just Trump will beat us, not just we've never done this before, but here's why you're wrong. So I think he does have a performance challenge first and then to

prove to Democrats that he can win a campaign against Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

COOPER: And Kamala Harris has now come out with her own health care plan which is Medicare for All except she does want people to be able to keep their private insurance which is very different, obviously, than Sanders and Warren. Again, it's going to be interesting to see, does she - invite and get on a back and forth about that because Biden, essentially, is, "Let's not throw out Obamacare. Let's make it make it better."

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm sure they will, because what Biden will say is, "Yours fully kicks in 10 years and it's really expensive and so we can't afford to do this." And so they'll go back and forth on that a bit.

COOPER: We're going to have some action right now on the stage behind us, Michigan's Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist is about to speak. And then Lieutenant Governor is going to be followed by Mary Kay Henry, the President of the Service Employees International Union.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GARLIN GILCHRIST (D-MI): Hello, Detroit. It is my distinct pleasure to stand before you this evening as we kick off the second night of the Democratic primary presidential debates. There is no better place to host this most important discussion on the future of our country than right here in my hometown of Detroit.

[19:15:08] As a young boy from the east side of Detroit, I saw the opportunities, that's right the east side, I saw the opportunities that our nation had to offer but I also saw many challenges. Those opportunities lit a fire in my imagination that propelled me to places unavailable to my grandparents or generations before them and the challenges while too often and during afford our generation the opportunity to widen the pathways to the pursuit of happiness for others.

We overcame many of these political challenges last November, because for the first time in our state history, the top offices of Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State are all held by women. For the first time in our state's history, we have an openly gay Attorney General delivering protections for all people. And I am proud to stand here before you as the first black lieutenant governor in the history of the State of Michigan.

All right. All right. We got a debate to get to. So to all of the political pundits who said that Michigan was a red state, we prove them wrong in 2018 and we are going to prove them wrong again in 2020. You see, all across our nation, families are working harder than ever to make a better life for themselves and for their children.

But some elected leaders are not working as hard as they are to make our country a home for opportunity for everyone. We have kids who graduate from high school with diplomas yet they struggle to read. We have streets that are not safe for cars nor people. And water in the Great Lakes State that some people fear may not be safe to drink and we have an economy that caters to the extremely wealthy believes the rest of us to fend for ourselves. Why does this happen?

I think it's because the people with the most power more often than not are making rules to govern experiences that they've never had. It is impossible to be a strong advocate for public schools when you merely view education as a money making venture. It is impossible to protect our nation's natural resources when you try to get funding for the Great Lakes every single year you've been in office.

It is impossible to empathize with the women and men who work two or three jobs and still come up short at the end of the month, when your first priority is to hand out tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. And it is impossible to protect our right to health care when you are suing to kick 20 million people off of their plans, including people who have pre existing conditions.

But I want to tell you what is possible, coming together, standing tall as a nation to demand real leadership and real solutions and that is what we will hear tonight. So for those of you who are here with us in Detroit and those of you watching at home across the nation, I want to remind you that you're going to hear many ideas and solutions that you agree with and some that you may not wholeheartedly embrace.

But what we can all agree on is that these ideas are about moving our country forward. In Michigan, less than 11,000 votes made the difference between this country moving forward and moving backward. So let this be our generations call to action in Michigan and across the United States.

[19:20:17] The future of our society and our planet is too important for anyone to sit on the sidelines. We will not repeat the mistakes of yesterday. We will not take for granted the prospect of history. We will rise to the challenge. We will mobilize, win and lead with our hearts and our minds set on laying a foundation for our children's children to have, do and be more than we could ever dream. Thank you. God bless you. God bless Michigan and God bless the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) to the stage Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry.

MARY KAY HENRY, PRESIDENT, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION: Good evening. Working people, no matter where we're from or what the color of our skin all want the same thing. We want a fair shot at a decent life, good health for our loved ones and a better future for our families.

Unfortunately, our hard work is generating staggering profits for corporations. Those corporations are making it very hard to find a stable job that allows us to provide for our families. Too many people are scared that a cancer diagnosis or a broken transmission is going to wipe them out. Too many people are having to work two and sometimes three jobs to get by.

We cannot go on this way. We need to unrig the rules written by corporate CEOs and their favorite politicians to keep power out of the hands of working Americans. I'm proud to be president of SEIU, a union of 2 million workers who unite - a union of 2 million workers that unites people of all races in the basic vision that we share for an America where we all can thrive.

I was raised here in Detroit, one of 10 kids. My dad was a salesman, my mom was a teacher. Growing up in a union town, I saw how corporations and unions held each other accountable by making workers and communities get investments. Unions helped to raise the living standards for everyone, not just union members. That was a long time ago.

But workers in Michigan and all across this country are now standing up to demand that corporations do better. Right here in my hometown, thousands of people have been in the streets calling for $15 an hour and a union for all. The opportunity to join a union no matter where you work, to unite and negotiate for good pay and better jobs to have a seat at the table once again with the biggest corporations in America.

Unions are a fundamental American value, because when more workers are negotiating better wages and good jobs, it lists the living standards for all Americans, not just union members and it puts corporations in check. That's why for more than a generation, corporate CEOs and greedy politicians have used their power and influence to stop working people from uniting together in unions.

Instead, politicians tried to divide us based on our differences. They blame immigrants, black people, Muslim, Jews, LGBTQ for all the problems in this country. Instead of raising wages, they tell us send them back, but we know better. We know that standing up together, we can win. Together, we can make the impossible possible.

[19:25:00] Six and a half years ago when 200 fast food workers decided to risk their jobs and go out on strike for 15 in a union. Everybody said it was impossible. Yet today in cities and states all across this country, because workers joined together and took a risk and had the backing of the union, $15 minimum wage is the law.

And just this month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across this whole country. And those increases aren't just for fast food workers, they're for everybody but we need to do more. The Democratic candidates need to do more.

Every candidate for president needs an economic plan that gives working people the power. We need to elect a president who wakes up every single day thinking about how to make life better for working people, not corporate CEOs getting more power. We need to elect a president who knows that no matter where you work, an auto plant, a hospital, McDonald's or for an app based service, that their union is the only way to make sure you are paid enough to provide for you and your family.

We need to elect a president with a plan to make major corporations come to the table and bargain with unions representing millions of workers to raise standards across employers and entire industry. We need to elect a president that will unite working people not divide us because we know that when we unite we win, when we unite win, when we unite we win. Thank you very much, sisters and brothers.

COOPER: That was SEIU President Mary Kay Henry speaking to the crowd here. Coming up next, we're expecting a party leaders, Democratic Party leaders on the stage addressing the crowd. We'll bring it to you as the countdown to CNN's democratic debate continues from Detroit.


[19:31:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And welcome back.

It's getting closer to round two of the CNN Democratic debates, just minutes from now. Appearing on stage now, the chair of the state Democratic Party, Lavora Barnes. She'll then be followed by the DNC chair, Chairman Tom Perez.

ANNOUNCER: Lavora Barnes.


LAVORA BARNES, MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: So many friends in the audience. Thank you, everyone. Welcome to Detroit.


I can think of no better place than Michigan to discuss the future of this nation and the big ideas that will define it. We're the state that helped create the right to public education and home to the first public land grant colleges that created new opportunities for so many in this country.

We're the first place of mass manufacturing and home of the American organized labor movement that gave so many a path to a new American middle class.


And now, today, our state that first helped put America on the broad path to opportunity and prosperity will again be central to getting our nation back on track, because our path to taking back the White House runs right through Michigan.


It is so critical that we elect a Democrat as president next November and we can't do that unless we win right here, unless we repeat what we did in 2018 when we elected Governor Whitmer.


Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist.


Attorney General Dana Nessel.


Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.


And what about the amazing women we sent to Congress?


Stand up, all of them are right here. So proud of this Michigan group.


We are going to take what we did in 2018 and do it all over again in 2020, right? Because we know that our job is to turn Donald Trump out, return those women to Congress, to elect a state house so the governor has at least one house and to return Gary Peters to United States Senate.


So us together, all of you in this room, all of you at home, together we're going to make that happen. And you know who is going to help us? The man I'm about to introduce, the chair of the National Democratic Party, my friend Tom Perez.


TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: All right. Good evening, Democrats!

Night two. Night two. Welcome back to Detroit for night two of our second presidential primary debate.

What a great debate we had last night. Anyone hear discussion about hand size last night? No. And by the way, this was the arena. This was the facility four years ago where they talked about hand size. I kid you not.

Instead, we talked about the serious stuff. Talked about health care. Talked about good paying jobs. Talked about the issues that matter to working families.

And we're going to have another spirited discussion tonight in this wonderful city.

[19:35:07] I love Detroit.

When people call it the Rust Belt, I call it the opportunity belt. Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Toledo, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, those are the opportunity belts. They're cities of hope, cities of accomplishments.

In fact, we're just a few miles away from where Dr. King penned his famous "I have a dream" speech. He was at Solidarity House, headquarters of the United Auto Workers. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I'll tell you, every time I come here to Detroit, I think of that speech. And I came here a lot because Mayor Duggan, we did a lot of stuff together. And thank you for your leadership.


I've read that speech a thousand times. That speech embodies the hopes and aspirations of a nation. It was about the intersection of labor and civil rights. The challenges of the time, as Dr. King correctly said, where jobs and justice -- jobs and justice, the same challenges we tackle today, jobs and justice. And I've had the honor of tackling the challenges at our labor secretary and as the head of your civil rights division under Barack Obama. Am I only one who misses Barack Obama in this room?


And his wife.


Now, folks, I didn't start at the Labor Department. I started out like so many people in this country, the child of immigrants. My family came here from the Dominican Republic. They got kicked out because they spoke out against a brutal dictator in the 1930s.

And fortunately for us, there was no one here in the height of the Great Depression who said, sorry. We're full. Instead they said welcome to America. Welcome to my family.


And my mother's four brothers served with pride and distinction as part of America's greatest generation. My father served with pride and distinction in the U.S. Army, worked at the V.A. hospital until the day of his death in 1974.

And thank God for Pell grants and people helping you out. Thank God for jobs like working on the back of a trash truck. That's how I helped pay my way through college. I learned about the dignity of work.

And because this is the land of opportunity, and because our parents taught us the value of hard work and community, I made it back from all of those challenges to the president's cabinet. I feel so lucky. I've had the privilege of working in the Democratic Party, fighting for jobs and justice. That's our vision for our country.

That's the vision of our future and our presence. And I had the privilege of having so many mentors, including my former boss, let late great Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate. He was a dreamer and doer.

And he literally has a museum of accomplishments. Why is that relevant to today? It's relevant because he taught me so many lessons. And one of the most important lessons he taught me was that idealism and pragmaticism can never be mutually exclusive.

He also told me, once, Tom someone asks you what wing of the party you belong to tell them you belong to the accomplishment wing of the Democratic Party, because he want to get things done for people. And get things done that improve their life.


Every single candidate on the stage tonight and last night wants to get important things done for the American people. They want to move the ball forward. They are part of the accomplishments wing of this Democratic Party.

And one of the leaders of that accomplishments wing is our proud Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.


And thank you to our House members who are here tonight. Under her leadership, the House has passed bills to raise the minimum wage, lower the cost of prescription drugs, stabilize the markets and, make no mistake about it -- they want to destabilize the health care exchange. They are trying to sabotage folks.

Under Speaker Pelosi's leadership, we passed laws to provide aid to the people of Puerto Rico. We passed laws to combat climate change, require universal background checks for gun purchases, close the gender pay gap, and perhaps as importantly as anything, HR 1, to reform the democracy and return it to the people.


[19:40:15] That's the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party. That's what with he do. Those could be could be our accomplishments as a nation.

But this president's too busy tweeting. And his lap dog in Kentucky, McConnell, old McConnell had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm, he kept all those bills that passed the house, E-I-E-I-O.

I told you before I worked on the back of a trash truck. So I know garbage when I see it. And, folks, this administration is a dumpster fire. It is a dumpster fire!


Folks, 43,000 tweets or so from this president, and quite frankly, it seems like just about as many broken promises. He doesn't want to remind you of those broken promises to keep companies from closing their plants and shipping jobs overseas. He doesn't want to talk about his relentless attacks on people with preexisting conditions.

Many of you know Tom Harkin. Tom Harkin's daughter gave birth to a wonderful baby, 1.3 pounds, premature, over 6 pounds today, six months later, a preexisting condition for life. But because of the Affordable Care Act they will not have to file for bankruptcy. Because there is no limit on their benefits.


I am so happy for Senator Harkin and for their baby.

This president has to stop tweeting and start solving problems. He is chronically incompetent. He consistently makes matters worse for people.

And you know his playbook is simple. It's very simple. Distract, divide, scare, silence.

As chair of the DNC, I am here to tell you clearly tonight we will never be divided. We will always be united.


Now, let me be clear, folks I think it's really important that we never conflate unity and unanimity. I'm not asking to you agree with everything I say or everything that's in our platform. But what I am asking you to do is unite around our common values.

We are having a discussion tonight about how to get to the mountain top of universal health care. Everybody wants to get to the mountain top. And there are different proposals of how to get there. And I would respectfully submit nobody has a monopoly on the moral high ground. Everybody is fighting for what is right.

And the other side is sabotaging, sabotaging, sabotaging. That's what we are fighting for, folks.

And remember this, our democracy has seen dark days like this before. Regrettably this is not our first rodeo. We remember when it was the Italians and the Polish who are targets of anti-immigrant hate. Catholics persecuted across this country in the mid-1800s during the so-called Know Nothing movement.

I remember the sign on Senator Kennedy's wall, no Irish need apply. We remember the unconscionable internment of Japanese Americans, the Chinese exclusion act of late 19th century. And we all remember and studied the McCarthy era.

Dark era's in our nation's history, eras, chapters history notes with shame, just like this moment. But you know what, folks? You know what all those moments have in common? They came to an end.

Folks, and they came to an end for one simple reason. And it was articulated by Barack Obama when I had the privilege of traveling with him to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma. He said that day the most important word in the democracy is the simple two letter word "we".

It's amazing what we the people can do. It was the collective power of we that ended the original sin of slavery. Although we have much more work to do to correct the badges and incidence of slavery.

It was the collective power of we that gave women the right to vote 100 years ago. It was the collective power of we that brought us the New Deal, created Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

[19:45:05] And by the way, it was the Democrats that brought you those things. It was the collective power of we that brought us the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the ADA, marriage equality.

Folks, we are not done yet. We the people of this party, the collective power of we. We will end gun violence together. We the people of this party can do that. We the people of this party will make sure that one good job and only one is enough to earn a living.

We the people, working together, in this party, will protect a woman's right to choose.


We the people will protect a worker's right to organize. We the people of this party will make sure that we tackle the mounting burden of the student debt. We the people of in party will ensure that zip code never, ever determines destiny.

We the people of this party will make health care a right for all. We the people of this party will tackle climate change together, inclusively, once and for all. Because, folks, we the people of this party -- and I learned this from Barack Obama -- we are hope's greatest hero and fear's greatest foe.

We, the Democrats, won Michigan in 2018. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, Madam Attorney General. Women were kicking butt in Michigan and across the country.


We won in Wisconsin. We won in Pennsylvania. We won in so many other states.

What's the matter with Kansas? Not a damn thing they are electing Democrats. That's what the matter with Kansas.

We are doing it everywhere. And in 2020, we are going to win the White House. We're going to win the Senate. We're going to win the House. We're going to take over the state house, the state House of Representatives here and elsewhere. Arizona, elsewhere.

And, folks, that's what we're going to do. But we can only do this if we do it together. If we remember what Senator Kennedy taught us that idealism and pragmatism can never be mutually exclusive. That we can be dreamers and doers, and we can do that all.

But we must do it together. We need you in this fight. We need to join this fight. I hope you'll text "debate" to 43367, "debate" to 43367 so you can join the fight. Help us build the infrastructure. I'm so excited to be partnering again with CNN tonight. I know you

will enjoy this debate. And I'm confident we will take back our democracy.

Thank you very much.


COOPER: That was DNC Chairman Tom Perez speaking the second night in a row just before the debate. The debate is now moments away.

All the questions about to be answered. We'll be right back.


[19:52:01] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: They are all here. They are all getting ready, including the two top headliners of tonight, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. The California senator arriving first of the two. Joe Biden the last to arrive here in Detroit.

Expectations running high, of course, after Harris' first go around with the president who was smiling that big infamous Joe Biden smile when he got to the hall, first by far in the polls, although the last two enter the actual venue tonight.

We are back outside the Fox Theater. Jess McIntosh, Van Jones, Kirsten Powers, Jennifer Granholm and Terry McAuliffe are here.

All right. So obviously, all eyes on Kamala Harris, on Joe Biden, but there are others for whom tonight is really as we say do or die but it literally is. Next debate is going to have maybe half as many people.

So who else we'll be watching?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, half the folks will be gone for the debate in September. So, a lot of pressure on these candidates to make a move tonight.

I think Governor Jay Inslee has a real shot. He's done a great job of bringing climate change to the discussion. Everybody cares about the climate change and he's been the leader on that. He has a real opportunity tonight I think.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think I'm going to be looking at Senator Bennet because --

BURNETT: Michael Bennet, Colorado.

GRANHOLM: Yes, Colorado, because he wears this mantle of being a moderate and I think he my be sort of, he could be like a wing man for Joe Biden going after issues that maybe Biden can sit back on. I would be curious to see the dynamic.

BURNETT: Right, and names that a lot of Americans at this point don't know, right. This is their moment.

GRANHOLM: This is their moment.

BURNETT: They need to have this moment which they need to have --


BURNETT: -- for polls, for money and who are you looking at.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think for Kirsten Gillibrand, it's definitely do or die. And, you know, she's been having a hard time because she -- she says she thinks it's because of sort of the backlash for her coming out and calling for Senator Franken to resign and there has been reporting that she's going to go after Biden on some of his -- on women's issues because that's sort of her calling card and in particular, him opposing tax credits for children care, you know, in the '80s.

I think that's going to be a mistake, but it will be interesting to see if she goes there, because I think one thing for all of these people to think about is too much beating up on Biden is going to maybe start to make him seem very sympathetic.

BURNETT: By the way, I said Kirsten and I said did I misspeak? Did you see the look in my eye? I'll think I'm thinking wait, wait.

All right. Van, there is no one named Van on stage. Who are you watching?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I am sticking with Yang. I'm Yang Gang.

I believe that this time, Andrew Yang will earn the respect of the country. He's the only person talking about the robots and the technology and all these creative solutions and last time he just kind of sat there and watched the whole thing like was observing. If he does what he can do, he will have a moment tonight.

I'm still Yang Gang.

BURNETT: OK. Some people watching and I want to make the point, though, on that. They don't know who he is. If you don't live on social media, and you don't -- his followers are -- they are passionate.

JONES: He's a big deal. Yes.

[19:55:01] BURNETT: All right. And that's the passion that whoever ends up winning this thing needs to have. He's got it.

JONES: And fresh idea, and new ideas, and things. He doesn't have to attack nobody. He's got a new set of ideas. I'm telling you Yang Gang. I'm still -- I'm putting another bet down on Yang.


JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm going to be looking at Julian Castro. He had a great night the first debate and then it was completely overwhelmed by the coverage of the second debate. So this time around, he's on night two. That means if he does it again, we might still be talking about it next week.

BURNETT: All right. And then you're going to have people who are being very aggressive because they know this is their last chance. You have nothing to lose. A lot of people have nothing to lose.

But, Governor, what about Tulsi Gabbard?

MCAULIFFE: Tulsi Gabbard has -- I mean, if she doesn't do something tonight, that's the end of it. Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City.

BURNETT: Bill de Blasio, right.

MCAULIFFE: He can't get out of the bottom of the cellar, and he's got to do something tonight.

What happens is empty money will dry up. If you're not on the next debate stage, you just can't pay your staff and you just plain run out of money. That's what so many candidates are facing.

JONES: One thing about Tulsi Gabbard tonight, there is now, you know, this tension around Iran, this tension overseas. She's a veteran. She's one of the younger people running.

She served overseas. She's very, very anti-war. If a question comes to her in that regard, she could have a big moment.

MCINTOSH: She turned a question to the gender pay gap to that. She doesn't need one coming her way in that regard.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all of you as we countdown. Let's go inside the hall -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erin, thanks very much.

Just minutes away from the start. Plenty to watch for in just a couple of minutes here with the panel.

John King, I mean, really, for Joe Biden, tonight is crucially important. I mean, last night impacts tonight on how Biden is going to go about this.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His calling card is on the guy you want to go against Trump. Other candidates are great and wonderful people. I'm the big guy and serve with Barack Obama. I have the experience. I can debate Trump. He has to prove that, because he had a shaky first debate.

The flip side of that is what is Senator Harris' second act? You know, you don't want -- it just was noted on that last, you don't want to come at Biden again. You have to prove you have a bigger, broader portfolio.

Can she defend her health care plan? Can she have another good performance, she built and plateaued? Now, the question, can she build again?

COOPER: Does she use an attack to try to build more or does she have a different strategy, and does he maybe attack her?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to know. I think he might attack her if she challenges him again, but I think the target is clearly on Biden's back tonight, and what he has to do is fight back, talk about his policies and then go big, is to go big against Donald Trump and show that's why a majority of Democratic voters believe he can beat Donald Trump. He has to prove it again tonight because he didn't prove it in the last debate. So, he's got to do it.

COOPER: It's also -- I mean, David Axelrod, if last night was Elizabeth Warren trying to show that she's a leader, beyond just having plans, that she has energy, that she has vitality, Joe Biden has to do the same thing. I mean, it's not just about plans but showing you're the one to take this on.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I think he started off that way. He's the front runner. Now, he has to prove that he should be the front runner, and I think you're going to hear more about Trump in this debate partly because you have every candidate of color on this stage. Race will clearly come up and given what we've been through in the last few weeks and the direction Trump has taken, I would think that's an opportunity for Biden and perhaps some others to step up and talk about the moment we're in.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that's right. Sort of any unlikely alliances that form on stage, does Kamala Harris get some incoming from people like Tulsi Gabbard who've attacked her on stage and does Biden deliver? He said he's not going to be polite. Is he going to pull a Pawlenty in not really be able to deliver on these attacks? We'll see tonight.

COOPER: Pulling a Pawlenty, that's --

BORGER: That's an insight.


COOPER: You're reaching.

AXELROD: Pawlenty was polite, that's for sure.

COOPER: That is the question, it was sort of odd, do you find it odd, I guess, that Joe Biden felt the need to telegraph oh, I'm going to be tough. Shouldn't you just be tough?

AXELROD: I did. It does raise the question will he -- I'm sure they have rehearsed and pushed and understand where some -- or most of the attacks are coming from. This is where reality hits preparation and you don't know how people are going to react in the moment.

He has to be careful not to overreact, punch down, look smaller rather than bigger but still be tough. It's a balancing act. BORGER: But, you know, his benefit this time is he kind of knows what

to expect more than he did last time. So, he's prepared I would assume. He's got great people doing it. He's prepared for everything. He's prepared to respond.

And the question I have is, does he take on as you were asking before, does he decide to go after Kamala? I don't think --

AXELROD: On health care --

BORGER: Yes, that's --


KING: And that has to be the proxy, the substance of health care to the big issue, this is why I should lead the party. This is why I should be your leader because I have a better plan on health care. Let me explain this to you.

And I think that will be through Harris but the target is Warren and Sanders.

COOPER: All right. It is time. We're going to see you all right back here for post-debate coverage, including analysis, of course, and the interviews with the candidates.

The CNN Democratic debate round two live from Detroit starts right now.