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Sanders & Warren Clash with Moderates at CNN Debate. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our biggest problem in Washington is corruption. We need to have the courage to fight back against that.

[05:59:59] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare-for-all is comprehensive. It covers all health-care needs for senior citizens.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll come to you in a second, Congressman.

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

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn't just a choice between the left and the center or thinking we have to sacrifice our values to actually win.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are more worried about winning an argument than winning an election. How we win an election is to bring everyone with us.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I didn't have more of an understanding about what they're going to do. It's going to be a very different dynamic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What a night, what a morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, July 31. It's 6 a.m. here in Detroit. It's a half-time show.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

BERMAN: It's half-time.

CAMEROTA: It's half-time right now. Will you be performing, a la Pink?

BERMAN: Up with People. Up with People. CAMEROTA: Up with People.

BERMAN: Early Super Bowl or Pink. You choose your joke here. The first of the two debates, it was a turbocharged, demanding, revealing discussion on policy. It showed genuine contrast. The leading progressive candidates, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they were fending off criticism from some of the more moderates, looking to stand out, perhaps survive.

Warren called for big proposals and, at one point, she slammed Congressman John Delaney for his criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: I don't know why somebody 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That got a lot of applause. Elizabeth Warren also warned against what she called spineless moderation, suggesting that her critics may be too timid to win.

When Bernie Sanders was challenged on the ambitious Medicare-for-all proposal, he fired back at Tim Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Sanders: Medicare-for-all is comprehensive. It covers all healthcare needs for senior citizens. It will finally include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses.

RYAN: But you don't know that. You don't know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll come to you in a second, Congressman.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. We have four of the candidates who were on that debate stage last night coming up on NEW DAY. How do they think they did? Ten more candidates will face off tonight, including a rematch of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So we have a lot to talk about.

Let's bring in our esteemed panel. We have Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans, now a CNN political commentator. We have Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan and the co- chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. We have Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and a CNN political commentator. And the Michigan Democratic governor, Gretchen Witmer. Great to have all of you here, because you've all won debates. You've all elected office. So I'm sure you watched last night differently than the rest of us.

So Mayor Landrieu, what did you see last night?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought it was a good night. It was a much better debate, I thought, than what happened in Miami. I thought everybody showed up. I think some people got in their licks. And you saw the entire spectrum of what the Democratic Party's going to think about going forward, and I was pretty pleased with what I heard. And I thought everybody had a good moment last night.

BERMAN: Governor Witmer, what about that comment from Elizabeth Warren? Because what we did see was a split between the progressives and the pragmatists, if you will. And Elizabeth Warren said, "I don't understand why anybody goes through all the trouble of running for president just to talk about what we can't do and shouldn't fight for." Is that persuasive?

GOV. GRETCHEN WITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I thought that was a powerful moment. I think that, you know, anyone who's going to be the president of the United States or a governor or congresswoman needs to have a real optimistic view of what they're going to get done. They need to tell us how they're going to deliver and improve our quality of life on a variety of issues.

And I think she encapsulated that in that statement. This is about our future. This is about our children and their future. And we need to know that we've got leaders who are going to fight for us and get things done.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman, who did you think stood out last night?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, I think a number of them had a good moment. I was waiting to see if Elizabeth Warren and Bernie were going to fight each other. It was very clear they banded together to make sure that the programs that they're fighting for would be strong.

And I think a number of people had good moments last night. And I think it was clear to those that think that the party's going too far to the left that there are people that want to work together. I guess one of the messages I would have for some of what happened is it can't get there without a vision. But you've got to be practical in accomplishing it.

BERMAN: Well, but that was part of the debate, wasn't it? With some candidates saying, "We've got to win. We can't put forward positions that will make it less likely that we get elected." Electability was front and center, mayor.

So Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, a lot of the discussion was focused and centered around their ideas, but those are ideas that some people in the Democratic Party think might be trouble in a general election.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'll say I think both for Senator Warren as well as Senator Sanders, they did an excellent job at defending what might be the more progressive flank of the Democratic Party. I don't know if they made a pact or not. I would tend to believe that these are deeply-held beliefs, and they

did an excellent job at demonstrating, frankly, the grit, the imagination that's going to be required.

The line by -- by Senator Warren really resonated with me, not just at that debate stage but beyond. Because it was a signal, not just to the other candidates that why in the world would you pursue this audacious goal by telling us what we're limited? Starting -- John F. Kennedy didn't say, "The one thing we're not going to do is go to the moon." Right? He set big vision, big goals. And whether or not that was feasible at the time, he still set a high mark. And people want inspirational and aspirational. I think they did that.

And I also would add I thought that Pete Buttigieg also offered, in real clear ways, the fact that there are some goals out there, some higher marks that we ought to be attaining to; and let's get rid of this sort of left versus right and, quite frankly, cast a bigger vision for the country.

CAMEROTA: I thought he made a very persuasive case last night that Democrats should stop worrying about Republicans --

GILLUM: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: -- and how Republicans are going to brand them. So let's watch that moment for a second.

BERMAN: Yes, let's watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. Look, if -- if it's true 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. So let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it. That's the policy I'm putting forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Well said, I think that you would agree. So Mayor, what with did you hear?

LANDRIEU: I just -- I agree with what the panel is saying. But I do want to caution everybody. We're not running for the president of the Democratic Party. We're running for the president of everybody in the United States. And ideology is really important and setting a vision is, but you can't eat ideology for lunch. You have to put yourself in a position to win, and you have to put yourself in a position to govern.

And I think you saw a lot of the candidates trying to kind of -- to kind of thread that needle last night, be inspirational but yet be practical, as well. I don't think that debate has been fully formed yet. And I think you'll see a little bit more of that tonight. That will give us a little bit more perspective about what happened.

CAMEROTA: But are you saying you saw too much pie in the sky last night?

LANDRIEU: No, not necessarily. I think they're both important. I think that you have to set a vision but also think that you have to win so that you can govern. And at the end of the day, the next president of the United States is going to be dealing with a Congress that's split. You actually have to be able to get things done, because that's what the public is going to want. And that's really where you -- that's where real life is.

GILLUM: I get where the mayor's coming from. We've both been mayors, and I recognize that this conversation around what's possible and what's reality and pragmatic gets us. Because we know at the end of the day, we've got to be accountable for the worst that we say.

But at this moment, running for the highest position in all the land, not just the United States but the world, we do need to reclaim, I think, our higher positioning as a country with a president who's willing to speak boldly and courageously.

And of course, this is an election. There will become a point where we start to sort of dial that thing back into what we actually might be able to accomplish.

But I just love the fact that you had people who were willing to talk about big things. And just because it's big things doesn't mean it can't happen. It just means that it hadn't happened yet.

BERMAN: What I love --

(CROSSTALK)

LANDRIEU: -- last night.

BERMAN: Sorry?

LANDRIEU: I said there were a lot of big ideas from last night from all sides.

BERMAN: It was a long, serious, deep discussion about policy. That discussion on health care, that went on for, like, 35 minutes; and there were differences. There were real difference.

Let's listen to a little bit of that, because Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they were defending their Medicare-for-all proposal that would do away with private insurance for some 150 million Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and I have a proposal to do it. But we don't have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling have the country how has private insurance that their insurance is illegal.

WARREN: Let's be clear about this. We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That's what the Republicans are trying to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: There is a contrast here, though. Yes, the Democrats have a much different position, writ large, than the position in the White House. But there was a split on that stage where you had Sanders and Warren, who will do away with private insurance, they say, to achieve Medicare-for-all. And you have others who don't want that. You're among those who thinks it is the wrong position.

WITMER: What I think is that we need to stay focused on expanding access to affordable health care. And it scares people when we talk about how we're going to do it overnight. Because we all know this is a complicated sweeping change that we need to make as a country. That we are moving toward that, but we have to be serious about how we get it done.

I think sometimes we lose voters' confidence that we're the capable party of doing this when we, you know, have this kind of superficial conversation. That's why I was so glad so much time was spent on health care last night, where people could really see everyone on that stage is going to be focused on expanding. They might have different ideas about how to do it.

[06:10:07] But it's very different than what we have in Washington, D.C., right now, with a president who attacks health care, wants to get rid of coverage for pre-existing conditions. This is a fundamental difference. And I thought it was a healthy debate.

BERMAN: Do you think the Delaneys and the Bullocks and the Tim Ryans, and to a lesser extent, Pete Buttigieg, who were making the case that what Warren and Sanders are trying to do is too much, too fast? Do you think that they made their argument on that stage?

WITMER: I think they did. And I think that it was a healthy debate. I don't know that anyone's saying they're trying to do too much too fast, but there are smart ways about going about this; and there are different real thoughtful ideas about how we do that. And that's -- that's a good, healthy thing.

We're all focused on the same goal. We have different ways of getting there. But what sets us apart from the person in the White House right now is that we actually want to get people health care and make sure it's affordable, and that people don't lose it when they're sick and need it the most.

CAMEROTA: Is there anybody who you think we won't see soon? Was there anybody you think didn't distinguish themselves enough last night?

DINGELL: You know, everybody has different opinions. I sort of want to go back to this health care thing for one minute. Because I am -- I am cochair of the Medicare-for-all caucus in the House. And I'm working very closely with the governor.

And there are some facts that didn't come out. The UAW has endorsed our Medicare-for-all bill. We're not going to -- I have a unique legacy. My father-in-law was the author of Social Security and was the first person that introduced Medicare-for-all.

John Dingell introduced universal health care every Congress and sat in the chair when Medicare got passed. You got to have that vision. The governor and I talk about it. We're good friends. We talk about what the policy approaches are. But you've got to -- you've got to have that vision. And there are different ways to get there.

But people think that their insurance is safe. You know, I -- my auto insurance, I worked for General Motors for three decades, was always much better, much cheaper than the government's ever was. But it's not safe anymore. The fact of the matter is, by 2008, the autos had become health care providers that built cars on the side. If you're a salaried employee inside GM, you're losing your health care now at 65. You don't have it for life.

CAMEROTA: Look, you're making a great case. OK? And maybe even a more persuasive one than some people on stage made last night, and so where do you think it got lost last night?

DINGELL: Well, I think that's why I say you've got to have the vision. I mean, and by the way, our -- the plan in the House doesn't totally eliminate health insurance, but it gives everybody basic coverage.

And we need to remember: We are the only industrialized nation in the world that does not offer health care to all of its citizens. And our businesses are competing in a global marketplace, where businesses aren't covering that cost. And our businesses have that in their cost of doing businesses. This is a competitive issue.

CAMEROTA: Are you considering running for president?

DINGELL: No.

LANDRIEU: Everybody on the stage last night agreed with the principle that health care was a right, not a privilege. And that's very different from what the Republicans, who are trying to take health care away as we speak. The president's team is in court right now in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal in my state, trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and coverage for pre-existing conditions. You never saw anybody near that last night.

BERMAN: Well, that's exactly right. And that was a choice. And there will be people who say that's where the discussion should have been, as opposed to arguing over what some people consider small differences in their plans.

Let's wait for a second here. Let's take a quick break.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that. BERMAN: We have much more to discuss. Everyone on this stage, except for Alisyn and me, has been elected to public office and has been in debates who has a real sense of what worked and didn't work last night.

CAMEROTA: All right. We're also coming up on NEW DAY, going to have four of the ten candidates who took the stage last night. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Governor Steve Bullock. How do they think they did?

BERMAN: So did any of the lesser-known candidates, the ones who may be trailing in the polls, did they have a breakout moment? More highlights of last night's debates and a preview of what could be a huge night here in Detroit in the second evening of debates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:50] BERMAN: It's half-time here at the CNN presidential debates. Night one is over. Night two, just a few hours from now.

For one candidate, it was his first night on the debate stage. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, seen by some as a more moderate candidate. I want to play you some sound from him, because we're going to discuss if any candidates had sort of a breakout moment. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BULLOCK: I think this is part of the discussion that shows how often these debates are detached from people's lives. We've got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now. If we decriminalize entry, if we get health care to everyone, we'll have multiples of that. Don't take my word. That was President Obama's homeland security secretary that said that.

The biggest problem right now that we have with immigration, it's Donald Trump. He's using immigration to not only rip apart families but rip apart this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Back with us, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell; Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans; Andrew Gillum, former mayor of Tallahassee in Florida; and Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer.

Governor, we're your guests. We're all sitting here in your state, so I do want to go to you first. Getting applause here on the stage.

[06:20:06] I guess I'm not going to ask you if you agree or disagree with Steve Bullock. I'm more interested in the political analysis of where he is positioning himself in this race. That is a clearly different position than we see from Elizabeth Warren or Beto O'Rourke or others who have talked about decriminalizing entry into the United States.

WITMER: So I think that one of the great things about having governors on that stage is that we've got leaders who know how to get things done. And as a governor, you can't just take positions on issues. You've got to deliver.

He's similar to me, a governor with a state with a lot of Republicans in it. A state that Donald Trump won. A state with a Republican legislature. People don't want governors who just take positions. They need results. And I think that's what we need in our next president, more than ever.

I'm not endorsing anyone on that stage. I'm just pointing out the fact that, you know, Michiganders, like Americans everywhere, are worried that we have anxieties about putting food on the table. We have anxieties about sending our kids to public schools that aren't equipped to meet all of their needs. We have anxieties about putting the glass of water on the dinner table, knowing that our infrastructure's keeping our water clean.

And I think these are the things that -- that Americans and Michiganders want to hear on the stage. We got some of that in last night. I was really pleased to see it. But I think if we could frontload some of the questions that were toward the end of the debate last night at the beginning of tonight's, we would be better served.

CAMEROTA: But Mayor, in terms of his making his, really, introduction to the national stage in terms of a breakout moment, do you think he accomplished what he had to last night to stay in and get to the next stage?

GILLUM: I do from the standpoint that it was clear to me that Bullock determined that, by comparison to the others on that stage last night, that he needed to make a real flank toward the moderate middle, and I think he did that very successfully.

So for instance, if his mathematics is maybe Joe Biden falters a bit tonight, and maybe it doesn't go so well for him, who is the second choice? Could he position himself to be the person who says -- Voters say, "Oh, well, that might actually be another reasoned option."

I -- I don't know the governor. I was not myself very inspired by what's realistic and practical. And those are nice terms when you're governing, but unfortunately, before you govern, you have to win. And part of winning is you have to capture the imagination, inspire people who likely will have to face a choice whether they're going to work, whether they're paying a bill, whether getting kids off to school on time or not, and whether they ought to go take time off to vote for that person who says, "Well, this is the practical way about going about making change."

I get it, because I've been elected, but I've always run. And candidates have to call together people's higher, better angels and, I think, lift us to a different place.

And so I appreciated the reasoned conversation. I know where it comes from. But I've also got to say, if we're trying to win, that 5 million people who didn't vote in 2016 that we need to get back out, not just the once who switched and went to Trump but the ones who actually had voted for us before and decided to sit this one out, what are we saying to bring those folks back into the fold?

CAMEROTA: Yes, you campaign in poetry.

GILLUM: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Govern in prose.

BERMAN: Congresswoman, I want to ask about Marianne Williamson. And she had moments that got big applause. And I think you are part of the "Don't sleep on Marianne Williamson caucus."

DINGELL: Well, I do think she had a breakout moment. Look, you know, you're sort of in Michigan right now, and you've got two tough issues. Race and then the Midwest issues, you know, tabletop issues that the governor was talking about.

She talked about reparations last night in language that a lot of people don't understand it. I've known her. I will admit, I knew her when she was here in Michigan and pastor of a church, and I actually went to some of her services.

I think that she is a kinder, gentler, touchy-feely person. I think race is a terrifying discussion for many people. Many people are afraid to talk about it because they don't want to be called a racist; they don't understand it. I think President Trump plays to the worst in us.

I think she -- she talked last night about an issue and put it in simple language that maybe people understood. And while I know some of the guys love to -- and I'm not saying anybody here -- make fun of her, I do think that there's just -- she makes people feel good. And sometimes people get tired of all the ugliness and the hatred and all the -- and her gentleness sometimes works.

BERMAN: I want to play a little bit of the sound, what she said last night about race, said about Michigan. And she talked about it in ways that you just described that are getting criticism and praise at the same time. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have communities, particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities, all over this country who are suffering from environmental injustice.

I assure you, I live in Grosse Pointe. What happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe. This is part of the dark underbelly of American society. The racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we're having here 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 VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, if we're talking about breakout moments, she had several. Several that made people sit up and take notice of her.

LANDRIEU: Yes. She made you pay attention to her last night. You know, racism is a festering wound for this country. Hatred and bigotry. And it's going to continue to cripple us unless we walk through it. And I think she addressed it in a very thoughtful, forthright way that actually translated to a lot of people in the country last night.

GILLUM: If I could just add on on Marianne Williamson, who I did know before, and I admittedly had not read her books. She ministered to the country in some ways last night.

I -- my barometer almost immediately, after these things, is to talk to my wife, who while she's married to someone who was in politics, is like apolitical, tries to stay a little bit away from it. And her first thing was, Marianne Williamson, who is that? Like, she wants to know more about this person.

And I wouldn't describe her as soft, flighty, gentle. I thought she was sharp. I thought she was crisp. I thought she used words that cut through in a narrative that allowed people to see themselves reflected in it. And if she keeps doing that, I wouldn't count her out at all.

BERMAN: I want to talk quickly, if I can, about tonight. Ten new candidates. Well, we're talking about race. Tonight will have an incredibly diverse lineup of the ten candidates. All you have to do is look at that stage right there to see the different faces.

Of course, Joe Biden, who is the front runner in all the polls, he will be there.

Mayor, let me ask you this. It's a challenging format. I mean, the candidates last night, we saw, they were forced to really dive into policy at a blistering pace. Will he be able to stand up to this pressure?

LANDRIEU: Well, we'll see. But he needs to show up tonight, and he needs to have a good debate. I thought last night almost everybody had a better debate than they had in Miami. And hopefully, we'll see that again tonight.

But the vice president has got to show up in a big way tonight and do well. I think people are expecting that.

CAMEROTA: You know, this one might actually work for him. This kind of format which is condensed. It's an elevator speech, basically. And he petered out last night when he had to give a longer speech. But this might -- what do you think is going to happen tonight?

GILLUM: Well, first of all, I hope he does not call time on himself. Finish the thought all the way through. Whatever that -- whatever that conclusion is you want us to walk away with, I hope he's able to accomplish it.

And I agree with the mayor. I do think last night you saw folks who -- you know, they shook off a little bit of the jitters of Miami and tonight, last night came prepared.

I think this stage will be much more prepared. Vice President Biden has to know that there are going to be a lot of slings and arrows that are coming his way.

I have to say, I don't think he's going to be the only one that has to deal with slings or arrows, because for some of these people, tonight is make or break. If you don't break through the night, if you don't make your -- your placement plain, this may be it for you as it relates to this presidential contest.

CAMEROTA: Governor, Congresswoman, mayors, thank you very much for being part of our esteemed panel.

BERMAN: I feel like it was in the classroom. This was fantastic.

CAMEROTA: We learned a lot.

You can watch tonight's debate live from Detroit at 8 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

BERMAN: So Iowa -- Iowa voters will be the first in the nation to vote, and it's actually pretty soon, right? We talk about the election being far, far away. It's not that far away. Less than six months. So which candidates made an impact on them last night? We'll speak to Iowa voters next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)