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Sanders & Warren Clash with Moderates at CNN Debate; Biden & Harris Set for Rematch Tonight in CNN Debate. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say.

Let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it.

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We made it to have a campaign of energy, excitement, and vision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warren and Sanders decided not to go after each other. It's not going to last.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not trying to take away health care for anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was chewing up and spitting people out. That's what people are looking for with Donald Trump.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a special edition of "NEW DAY." It is Wednesday, July 31st, 5:00 here in Detroit.

There was no lack of energy on the stage last night.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was really impressive. They were in it.

CAMEROTA: It was a calorie burner even to watch it. There were different visions laid out for the Democratic Party between these progressives and the moderates. It was on full display at the debate.

The candidates offered distinct approaches for America while wrestling with how to defeat President Trump. Senator Elizabeth Warren warned against, quote, spineless moderation while some of the more moderate candidates cautioned against making promises that will be hard to keep and played right into the hands of Republicans in the general election.

BERMAN: Yes, this was an incredibly demanding debate. I don't know if I've seen so much substance and policy on display at such a blistering pace that required an impressive effort from all the candidates. Health care is just one example of real discussion on Medicare for All, with Sanders and Warren defending the costs and the idea of doing away with private insurance and trying to fend off criticism from the middle.

So who won?

[05:00:00] Who lost? And what does it mean for tonight's debate? Will we see a rematch of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?

We have the best analysis on earth for you this morning. Five a.m. has never seen so much talent.

I want to go first to Athena Jones live on the debate stage with the highlights.

Athena, it's like being on the field at halftime. You're walking the 50-yard line.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

Absolutely. It was something to watch last night. Last night, we saw the most progressive candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, fend off attacks on their policy while avoiding clashing with each other.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): The ideological divides within the Democratic Party on full days play last night.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks seem more concerned about scoring points or outdoing each other with wish list economics.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're going to hear a lot of promises up here.

DELANEY: We can go down the road that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren want to take us, come is with bad policies like Medicare for All, free everything, and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get Trump re-elected.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: What do you say to Congressman Delaney?

SANDERS: You're wrong.

JONES: The moderates clashing with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren questioning their electability with their progressive agendas and slamming their key domestic proposal, Medicare for All. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm saying the

policies of this notion that you're going to take private insurance away from 180 million Americans who many of them don't want to give it, many do want to get rid of it, but some don't, many don't, you're going to -- the Green New Deal, make sure that every American is guaranteed a government job they want, that is a disaster at the -- you might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.

SANDERS: Well, the truth is that every credible poll that I have seen has me beating Donald Trump.

JONES: Sanders standing by his plan.

SANDERS: They will be better because Medicare for all is comprehensive. It covers all health care needs for senior citizens. It will finally include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses.

Second of all --

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

SANDERS: Second of all --

TAPPER: I'll come to you in a second, Congressman.

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

JONES: But instead of attacking each other, Sanders and Warren appeared united in defending their agendas.

DELANEY: So, I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises. When we run on things that are workable, not fairytale economics.

WARREN: 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.

SANDERS: To win this election and to defeat Donald Trump, which by the way, in my view, is not going to be easy, we need to have a campaign of energy and excitement and of vision.

I get little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas. Republicans are not afraid of big ideas.

JONES: Other candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg saying the focus should stay on defeating President Trump instead of taking down fellow Democrats.

BUTTIGIEG: It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. Look, if -- if it's true you that if we embrace a far left agenda, they're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they're going to do? They're going to say we're a bunch of crazy socialists. Let's stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it. JONES: Warren blasting Trump when questioned about white supremacy

fueling domestic terrorism in the wake of the latest mass shooting in California.

WARREN: Call out white supremacy for what it is, domestic terrorism. And it poses a threat to the United States of America. We live in a country now where the president is advancing environmental racism, economic racism, criminal justice racism, health care racism.

JONES: Beto O'Rourke highlighting his call for a new Voting Rights Act to address systemic racism.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression is alive and well in every aspect of the economy and in the country.

JONES: Political outsider, author Marianne Williamson, also issued a warning to more seasoned candidates.

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The entire conversation that we're having tonight, 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Now, looking ahead to tonight, another ten candidates will be duking it out. Front-runner Joe Biden will be here at center stage and likely a huge target of folks like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. He said he's going to be more aggressive in fighting back. So, we'll be watching closely to see not only how well he defends himself but also whether he's able to make a compelling, affirmative case for his presidency and be a bigger, more memorable presence on stage -- John, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones for us again on the field during halftime. I think the ten candidates who will take the stage tonight know how high the bar is.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that was helpful, that they got to watch last night and see the pace of how fast it is.

BERMAN: Blistering pace. They're going to have to know their stuff.

I want to bring in John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst.

[05:05:02] Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary for President Clinton and a political commentator. MJ Lee, CNN political correspondent. And Bakari Sellers, former Democratic South Carolina House member who has endorsed Senator Kamala Harris.

Joe, I want to start with you. You're the dean of 5:00 a.m. this morning as it were here. What did you see? I mean, again, there was so much substance, so much policy at such a fast pace. What broke through?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A couple things. One, I saw a cleanup of the Miami debate where I think the Democrats came off as, you know, promises and wildly lurching left. I think there was a distinct effort to show that there's two wings in the Democratic Party and there are choices for Democratic voters. I think that was important.

Secondly, I think the irony is Sanders and Warren are advocating on eliminating private insurance. A deeply unpopular idea, except they're much better messengers than the people who are advocating for a popular idea which is using both private insurance and Medicare for all.

So, I don't think -- you know, I don't think that they -- I thought Sanders did very well. Excuse me, I thought Warren did very well. And Sanders did OK. But I think the idea of Medicare for All is, you know, more challenge today than -- than it was yesterday.

I think the last point is that no one mentioned Joe Biden.

BERMAN: Not once.

LOCKHART: Not once.

And I think he's the winner because they advocated things that he's for without him taking any heat. So I think he came out well last night by being ignored.

CAMEROTA: And we didn't predict that. I mean, we didn't predict that he wouldn't be mentioned.

On the Elizabeth Warren thing, I thought that she did a good job of making a convincing case that even if taxes were to go up for, say, the middle class, that it would be offset by how much less you'd pay for your doctors bills and insurance.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the argument she made. That's the argument Bernie Sanders made. And it's very persuasive if you don't believe that actually passing a bill or paying for it actually matters. That's where you run into the buzzsaw of popular opinion come does matter in a general election.

You are taking away people's private insurance, even if you believe you're replacing it with something better. It's persuasive in this environment, in the hall, to say, look, we're going to go big, we're going to go bold. That's how Donald Trump won.

But there is simply the reality of polling, of winning over swing states, swing voters, of actual implementation and paying for things that can't be ignored dismissively. You see a little of that in this deep policy debate in the Democratic policy on issue after issue.

BERMAN: But, MJ Lee, you cover Elizabeth Warren day in and day out, and you saw from her the most fulsome explanation on electability you've seen yet. MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I did. I thought it was a clear

strategy that Elizabeth Warren came in with last night. I mean, remember, her opening statement started with the words "Donald Trump," and her closing argument ended with "I can beat Donald Trump."

She is a candidate who has not yet sort of fully embraced taking on Donald Trump at every opportunity on the stump unless she is asked about it. She rarely will sort of choose to go after him. Last night I thought was all about Elizabeth Warren trying to make the electability argument.

That for her is: I know there are some of you out there who like my ideas, but I know somewhat some -- that some of you think they might be too risky and other people might not be on board, and I am imploring you to go with your gut, to vote for the person that you actually like, and not feel like you have to be scared to not vote for the person that you believe in.

CAMEROTA: Bakari, what jumped out at you?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I think that last night what we saw at the beginning of the debate, the first 35 minutes, is the Democratic messaging on health care is pretty bad. I think it's all over the place. I think this debate last night was healthy as we attempt to sort out various messaging.

I think anyone who saw that last night has a really hard time still yet today understanding what Medicare for all is and what building on the ACA is. It was somewhat of a mess.

I think that, you know, John Delaney came out like Tyson when he first got -- started -- started boxing and ended up like glass jaw on -- on Mike Tyson punch out. You know, he came out there swinging, swinging and swinging. By the time Elizabeth Warren got done with him, there wasn't much left.

I believe one of the people who stuck out last night was Steve Bullock.

AVLON: Yes.

SELLERS: Whether or not you like Bullock or not he was a value added last night. There are a large group of people in this country who want someone who can beat Donald Trump. Bullock won a state that Donald Trump won by 20 points. They want someone who speaks in that moderate cadence. He did that. So, Bullock stood out.

I thought that the winners last night to be extremely clear were Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and I still think that Beto O'Rourke is having a very difficult time taking advantage of this platform.

AVLON: Let me add on that Bullock point, because I do think that was a standout performance. It was his first debate. Didn't make the first one. Got in late.

And he came out very strong, really slamming wish list economics. Making the case that he won a state that Donald Trump had won by 20 points.

[05:10:00] That you needed to understand and win over some Trump voters.

Then it reminded us that a lot of our political divisions in this country that we are so polarized right now are not really red state, blue state, but urban versus rural. He came in as a western progressive with a real record on a lot of issues and got attention. Here you have a western governor making a case to scramble all the polarization that we're confronting as a country right now. A very strong opening.

BERMAN: And yet I think the entire framework for the discussion was driven by ideas that are coming from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And part of that was the questions, part of that is just where the policy discussion is right now. They were defending what they were proposing and people going after them.

As I said and listen, Joe, I wonder whether if you were pressed to name a winner, if you could. Was there a clear winner from the first night?

LOCKHART: I think Joe Biden was the clear winner because people didn't go after him.

On the stage, I thought that Elizabeth Warren outclassed Bernie Sanders, that's important there.

BERMAN: Without going after him at all.

LOCKHART: Exactly. I think if you were in the -- in the most progressive wing of the party, you looked at Sanders and Warren and said I think warren is more electable. I think warren has more energy and has the same ideas. You know, I think where she ran into some problems was her spineless moderation line. I think most of the party is not there.

And I think there were -- there were a lot of progressives up there who were lumped in as sort of almost Republicans, and they're not. And I think there's a lot of room for all of the people, you know, in the middle to make the case that they have -- they are real progressive, but they're more practical. And they -- and as some said, more electable in the general election.

AVLON: Don't forget, only 20 percent of the Democratic primary voters are very liberal. It's not a surprise that Bernie and Elizabeth Warren had a nonaggression pact last night. They were going after the same poll of voters and can't afford to alienate them.

It's a big mistake to show disdain for people with executive experience to say how do we implement it, and shouldn't we care that this could alienate more voters than attracts.

CAMEROTA: Don't you think the line about I don't know why you take the time --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: Best line of the night.

CAMEROTA: All you're going to talk about is what you can't do. I think that summarized why they're going bold.

SELLERS: That also ended the presidential campaign for John Delaney. I mean, that -- that was the moment in come John Delaney's presidential campaign died on that stage.

AVLON: That was the moment?

SELLERS: That was it. It was probably over when he got there. That was definitely the moment.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren aren't going after the same voters. I think that they're their is more of an over-- that there is more of an overlap than Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

I do think, though, that there's -- we think about things such as a progressive lane. To Joe's point, there are sorts who looked like -- there are voters who said I believe in the progressive ideology, but I can have Elizabeth Warren, someone who was energetic, someone who has more of an upside last night. Why would I take something that we've tried before?

And so I think that that was there. And Bernie Sanders still ran into the same thing that Bernie Sanders has run into his entire life which is the glass ceiling of race. On the -- as the issue meandered to race last night, Bernie Sanders still stumbled back into his age-old rising tide lifts awe boats attitude. Stumbled through Clyburn's 30-2 30-2010 plan. He could not fully articulate the systemic racism issues, the white nationalism we're dealing with on a daily basis. There are a lot of voters who, especially black voters, who want to be a part of the progressive train. They're looking between the two and will say I think I'm going to take Elizabeth Warren this round.

BERMAN: MJ, what are you hearing from the campaigns this morning? Is there one team that thinks that they had a tough night?

LEE: There is not. I mean, this is a campaign that actually doesn't speak so much about process. You might have noticed they would not sort of say before the debate what their strategy was. They would not talk about the fact -- other than Elizabeth Warren herself saying I don't -- I have no intention of taking on Bernie Sanders or anybody else on stage for that matter.

They put out a single statement from the cons director that said she went out there and set out to do exactly what the plan was. It was first to make the case for why these progressive ideas can be backed up by this candidate. And second, to make that general election argument that we walked about a lot. She can show that she can take on Donald Trump, at least this is her campaign's messaging.

AVLON: No question Elizabeth Warren had a very good night last night. I want to make one other point in this divide between the left and the

center. Judging by the frame of the debate we saw last night, Barack Obama is to the right of most of this field. The policies that Barack Obama advocated not that long ago which some folks in the center tried to defend are being castigated as Republican light.

[05:15:01] And that says a lot about the shift in the debate in the Democratic Party.

BERMAN: All right, guys. Stand by. We have a lot more to talk about. Was I right? Best analysts at 5:00 a.m.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Coming up, coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to have four of the ten candidates who were on the stage.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, we haven't talked about him yet. A lot of people thought he had an impressive night.

Senator Amy Klobuchar who had a specific strategy she went out there. Beto O'Rourke, did he do what he needed to do?

And Governor Steve Bullock, you've heard him discussed quite a bit already this morning.

CAMEROTA: All right. So, as John said, it's halftime. Who will happen tonight when Joe Biden is on stage with Kamala Harris and Cory Booker?

We have more live from Detroit after this break.

BERMAN: We can talk about our favorite halftime shows.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:20:28] CAMEROTA: All right. We are live in Detroit this morning where the stage is set for another debate tonight. How will Joe Biden do when he is on stage with Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker? That's just one of the questions.

Let's bring back, John Avlon, Joe Lockhart, MJ Lee, and Bakari Sellers.

Before we get to tonight, there's just a couple of last things we need to wrap up from last night. Number one, we have not yet mentioned Marianne Williamson. And that is our mistake because she was the number one, once again, most-searched person. People, viewers are very compelled by her.

And she, I thought, had a commanding performance. From her opening statement, she came out strong. She had a moment where she talked about her position on reparations. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If $500 billion, $200 billion to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed, that is what reparations is.

I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult, and I believe that $200 billion to $500 billion is politically feasible today because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface, an emotional turbulence that only reparations --

DON LEMON, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: Ms. Williamson, thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Once again, as I said, she was the top most-searched candidate. If we pull that up, that list up, she was ahead of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, et cetera, et cetera.

John Avlon, I'm not even looking at you, and I can feel your body language. Your body language speaks volumes.

AVLON: It's just slithering of my hands just below the screen.

CAMEROTA: What is the problem?

AVLON: What is the problem?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

AVLON: Look, first, I don't think Googling is necessarily a proxy for success, but it is a proxy for curiosity. Who is this person? What is she saying? That's interesting. But she sounds a lot like my aunt.

Second of all, she's a spiritualist running for president. There's a reason to be skeptical about someone who's never held elected office before. We have the reality show version in the White House right now. Now, we're going for the spiritualist version.

But let's be clear eyed about that at least.

CAMEROTA: Well, she seems to have given a lot more thought to policy petitions that happen Donald Trump did in his first debate.

AVLON: Possibly.

CAMEROTA: Possibly? You heard her answer on some of these things.

AVLON: Look, I think having a dollar number to project on reparations is not the mark of a full policy -- you and I know -- that's fine. But that's --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: That's not all she did. Listen, I don't have any illusion that Marianne Williamson is not winning a primary. This is probably her -- this is probably her last debate.

But she gave the full, she gave the most full and most robust answer on issues dealing with race and talking about systemic issues of race we have in this country. Look --

AVLON: More than Beto?

SELLERS: No question. I think that when you -- Beto had his best moment, and then was followed by Marianne Williamson. People will remember Marianne Williamson's answer versus Beto.

And it did not -- whether or not you agree with the feasibility with reparations, I firmly believe nobody's getting a check, anyway. So you have to have direct policy that effectuates change in those particular areas.

But Marianne Williamson was at least full eyed, robust, and giving a comprehensive answer to that question. So, I think that you have to give her more credit than that.

Now, whether or not she stays or goes, I hear you. Does she belong on the stage? Whatever you want to say. However, I want will say on the issue last night, she excelled.

BERMAN: There's no question she connects. People talk about her during the debates, after the debates. All you have to do is have a discussion about people, with people and say who stood out to you --

CAMEROTA: At dinner parties her name comes up.

BERMAN: MJ, any losers from last night?

LEE: I think the losers are the candidates who probably were not going to qualify for the third debate in September because the trajectory of any of the candidates on stage last night I think did not drastically change. For Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, as we have talked about, they gave the performance that they probably needed to give. Ranging from strong to I think stronger.

And then I think for everybody else, they needed to not only have these big, memorable moments. They also needed that to then translate into political momentum in the weeks to come. And I just am not convinced that for anybody who is not going to be on the stage in September, now they suddenly are because of last night.

CAMEROTA: Bakari, you're willing to name names?

SELLERS: Oh, yes, no question. I mean, listen, we've got to cut to the chase here. We've got to beat Donald Trump. I think Hickenlooper had a rough night. I think Delaney had a rough night.

I think actually somebody they changed -- throughout the debate, they changed Delaney's Wikipedia page to say he died at the hands of Elizabeth Warren on stage at the moment.

CMAEROTA: That's nice.

LEE: Not accurate.

[05:25:01] BERMAN: When did you become nice?

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: And I think that, you know, you go through here, the people who were not named, the people who are not named Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Bullock, probably will have a rough time making it to the next stage.

BERMAN: What about Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke, who were at the beginning of this I think seen as, if not top tier, just below top- tier candidates, and they've been struggling to break through.

LOCKHART: Yes, I think neither has delivered a clear rationale for why they are the alternative. Like last night, to, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. I think, you know, one of the things I took from last night is why it's so important that winnow this field down, because we have, as I said, we have this ironic situation where unpopular positions were articulated much more strongly than popular positions.

And what I want to see now is on stage Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren go toe to toe with the people who aren't for their version of Medicare for All, Joe Biden and -- rest of the field.

I think tonight you're going to see nine candidates who don't believe in the Sanders or Warren version, and the guy defending Sanders and Warren is Bill de Blasio. And he's not a very popular guy. So, it's going to be a very, very different thing. And so I want to see them together.

LEE: I'm so fascinated by the Klobuchar performance last night. She had this burst of energy when she first announced because people saw her as, you know, potentially being able to win the moderate vote in a way that wouldn't just be for Joe Biden. That this space isn't just for Joe Biden.

And over and over again, I think we see her in a space like this, not really taking on the candidates that she needs to take on. She is reticent to go there and bring that kind of fire. I think she really needed to fight like an underdog last night and did not do that.

SELLERS: Can I just -- Beto O'Rourke for a second, I want the viewers to understand why I'm critical of Beto.

Beto O'Rourke is very, very talented. I mean, anybody who goes to Texas and set Texas on fire, ignite the country. I mean, a lot of it had to do with Ted Cruz, let's not get that wrong. He's a very, very talented individual. I mean, that is what it is.

It looks as if somewhat like the stage is too big for Beto O'Rourke. It looks as if the lights are engulfing Beto O'Rourke. I know when he came out, he was running because he was born to do this. For a lot of us, we're like, wait a minute.

AVLON: Hold on.

SELLERS: There's no difference between the positions electorally of you and Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, right? There's no difference there. So, being born to do this is a bit presumptuous.

And so, you go out and you hit a ceiling, boom, it's a dud. After the debate, we were expecting a restart. But Beto O'Rourke has not answered the question. And no one can tell me why is he running for president of the United States?

There is no clear answer to that. And it's very hard to go up there and show that out and show that through in a debate if no one even knows why you're running.

BERMAN: All right. We talked a little about Joe Biden. Let's talk about tonight if we can.

Again, I think the bar is very high, has been set very high for all the candidates who will take the stage. They know they're going to have their policy. They have to deliver it, Joe, very quickly and succinctly and battle people who have been critics of them.

Let me just be clear, is Joe Biden up to it?

LOCKHART: We're going to find out tonight. I think first off there's a great advantage to the second night because we're already -- we just finished talking about last night. We're going to spend the rest of the day talking about tonight.

So having the last word is important. That was the message I think of the first round in Miami. That's all people talked about.

I think the -- Biden has a real opportunity tonight because, you know, they both did OK last night. But none of the, you know, more moderate candidates distinguished themselves. That was their chance.

And it really leaves an opening for Biden. But he's got to deliver. He's got to be stronger, he doesn't -- he doesn't have to attack anyone, but he's got to know his own record better. He's got to be able to put in context all the things he's done. He can't just say me and Barack, me and Barack.

I think he knows that, but it's a question of execution and why everyone should tune in tonight.

AVLON: Yes, he's got to be focused. He's got to be fiery. And he's really -- if he compounds the perception that he's lost a step, that he wasn't quite willing to punch back, that could be disastrous for his campaign.

But if he exceeds that bar, he is clearly in pole position. The polls show that he has bounced back from the -- SELLERS: And Harris has with the first 35 minutes of what we saw

today, Harris actually has a high bar, as well, because she's going to have to stand in a health care answer for 30 minutes and defend it, something she has not been able to do throughout this campaign.

BERMAN: And you say that as someone who is supporting her.

SELLERS: Oh, yes, she's got to get it right.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you all very much.

That sets the stage for an exciting night. You can watch tonight's debate lightest from Detroit at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

BERMAN: There is other news developing this.

[05:30:00]