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Beto O'Rourke Discusses his Debate Performance. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 07:30   ET

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


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FRM REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we're being offered a false choice. Some who want to improve the Affordable Care Act at the margins, others who want a Medicare for All program that will force people off of private insurance, I have a better path, Medicare for America. Everyone who is uninsured is enrolled in Medicare tomorrow.

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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, that was Beto O'Rourke staking out a middle ground on health care amid the heated debate over Medicare for All last night. O'Rourke has been struggling to gain some traction in recent polls. So, did last night's performance change that?

Joining us now is Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Texas Congressman, Beto O'Rourke. Great to have you here.

O'ROURKE: Thank you for having me on. Appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: A pleasure. So, let's just start right there.

[07:05:00]

Explain how -- why there seems to be such a divide between Medicare for All, in which people loose their private health insurance and building on Obamacare and how you think it's a false choice, and you can do both.

O'ROURKE: I want to stay focused on the goal and then I want us, as a country, to actually get there. And what I'm hearing from people is that we want guaranteed, high quality, universal health care.

And so, the proposal that we've made, Medicare for America, does that by ensure that everyone who does not have coverage today is enrolled in Medicare. And then importantly those who are insufficiently insured, meaning they can't afford their co-pays or their premiums, they can elect to move to Medicare.

But we respect the decisions and the judgment of the American people who want to keep employer sponsored insurance that works for them and their families, including importantly, members of unions who have fought for those health care plans and want to keep them.

So, we reject the false choice that you can just have the statuesque, the Affordable Care Act, or you can have a program that forces everybody off of private insurance. By listening to people, we've found a better way.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the things that Senator Amy Klobuchar said last night is that she feels as if often times this Democratic field is trying to win an argument rather than trying to win an election. She meant the general election. It's been portrayed as a split between the progressives and the pragmatists. Do you see that as a problem for the Democrats going forward?

O'ROURKE: I don't see that as a problem. We're reportedly the world's greatest democracy. There's room for competing views and visions, and I'm glad that we have these kind of debates so that the American people can hear them.

But I want to make sure that at the end of the day, one, we can defeat Donald Trump, and two, we can overcome the greatest set of challenges that we've ever faced on health care in the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet. There's still people dying of diabetes and the flu and curable cancers. That's not right and we can fix it. We've made a proposal to do that.

Climate change, we've got 10 years left to us as a civilization to get this right and we're not going to be able to do it with half steps or half measures or half the country. Cannot just be the Democratic Party or one wing of the Democratic Party, you've got to bring everybody in. And my entire life, my entire career has been about doing that. Importantly, we were able to demonstrate that in Texas, which is going to be key to defeating Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Last time, in the last debate, some of the -- I don't know, critics of yours thought that it was subdued, you didn't show up. How did last night differ for you from the first debates?

O'ROURKE: I just felt great last night. I felt very engaged, was able to talk about my vision for America, it reflects what I've heard from the people of America on every important issue from health care, to immigration, to climate, to making sure that we address racial disparities and racism in this country under the administration of the most racist president we've had since Andrew Johnson.

These are the issues that I'm hearing about as I travel the country. So, I felt really good about that direct, strong answers and we've gotten really good feedback, so I feel good.

CAMEROTA: Last time I asked you what grade you would give yourself and you said an A. So, what -- what's the grade this time?

O'ROURKE: Yes. Some -- anticipating that question, somebody suggested that I talk about how much I dislike high stakes, high pressured standardized tests, but I felt good about being there, just grateful, frankly, to be on that stage and to be able to run for president. And again, very happy with what I was able to share with the American people last night.

BERMAN: All right, you talked about winning in Texas, you talked about being able to deliver the message in Texas. "The Texas Tribune," which is one of your local publications, the headline this morning may not be as flattering as you would like. "Beto O'Rourke delivers subdued second debate performance, avoids stumbles first round."

Subdued second debate performance.

O'ROURKE: I mean, I don't know. You can offer your analysis. I felt good, I felt strong, I felt very engaged. And actually "The Texas Tribune" the day before published a poll that shows us defeating Donald Trump in Texas with his 38 Electoral College votes by 11 points.

No other Democratic contender comes even close. Not only does that allow us to beat Trump in 2020, it forever changes the electoral landscape in America. So, I think that's a really positive development, followed up by a very strong debate performance.

BERMAN: If you can win in Texas, Ron Brownstein used to say of Arizona, Arizona is the future of the Democratic Party and always has been, which his to say that, when you get there call me. But on the issue of your performance and it wasn't just "The Texas Tribune," the "Washington Post" called it lackluster last night and I'm not taking saying one way or the other mind you, but if there is this perception out there, what do you need to do to change it?

[07:40:00]

O'ROURKE: I don't know. Maybe talk to the headline writers at "The Texas Tribune" and the "Washington Post." Listening to our outstanding supporters and volunteers and the team that put me in this position in the first place, we're all really happy with what we were able to do last night, to provide that distinction and illustrate the false choice that America has been offered on so many of these issues, including health care. And that path that allows us to achieve this very ambitious agenda, which is a path that I've always taken in my life, which is, bringing everyone in.

We say, could care less who you voted for, for president last time, to whom you pray, if you pray at all, who you love, how many generations you call yourself and American, the fact is, that you're in this country and we're Americans first before we are anything else.

And we can do this, we've got the future, we've just got to believe in one another at a time of historic division and polarization and a president who uses fear to drive us apart even further, the answer cannot be pitting ourselves against one another, or writing whole sections of the country off. It's got to be about bringing us together and bringing people in and that's what I've always done.

CAMEROTA: Was there anyone last night or anything that you really disagreed with, that you didn't get a chance to say?

O'ROURKE: You know, on immigration, I think almost all of us want to get to the same place. We don't want to see kids in cages or families separated. We want to rewrite this country's immigration laws in our own image, but a lot of people blame the current criminal code or immigration law for the cruelty that we're visiting on our fellow human beings.

We've got to remember, this is Donald Trump. Seven children have lost their lives in or just shortly after being in U.S. custody and care along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are kids sleeping in their own filth, in the Clint Border Patrol station.

We're the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet, and we're a country of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees, we loose sight of that at our peril and we loose sight of the problem. We do not focus on what Donald Trump is doing.

And so, as president, I would rewrite our immigration laws so that no one's criminalized or criminally prosecuted for seeking refuge or asylum or shelter in this country. We've got to make sure that there's a safe, lawful, orderly path for folks to come here and work a job, or join family. We're going to make sure no Dreamer has to fear deportation back to a country they do not know. But then, at the end of the day, we expect people to follow our laws. And as president, I will make sure that we do all of that.

CAMEROTA: Beto O'Rouke, great to talk to you. Thanks so much for being here on "New Day."

O'ROURKE: Thank you. Yes, good to see you in person.

CAMEROTA: You too. You as well.

BERMAN: Thanks Congressman.

O'ROURKE: Thank you. Gracias.

CAMEROTA: All right, you can watch tonight's debate live from Detroit at 8:00 pm Eastern, only on CNN.

BERMAN: The Federal Reserve poised to do something today it has not done in over a decade. Christine Romans tells us what you need to know next.

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BERMAN: It is a very important day for the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve is preparing to cut interest rates for the first time since 2008. It is time for CNN Business Now. Our Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans joins us.

Again, this is a very big deal Romans. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And by all indications the Fed, John, is about to cut interest rates in a strong economy after a decade of economic growth. We're at an unprecedented moment here, like all of the Trump presidency really.

The last time the Fed cut rates was December 2008, when the U.S. was in the depths of a financial crisis. That quarter, when it last cut rates, GDP shrank 8.4 percent, the unemployment rate was 7.3 rate and rising fast all the way up to 10 percent. The Dow on the day of the last rate cut was down 33 percent year-to-day and the S&P had crashed 37 percent.

Compare that to today. GDP is solid 2.1 percent, the jobless rate below 4 percent, stocks near record highs, the S&P is up 20 percent this year. Another very big difference, a president insulting, cajoling and rage tweeting the Fed and demanding lower rates now.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I've made the economy strong that nothings going to stop us. But, the Fed could have made it a lot easier. I would like to see a large cut and I'd like to see immediately the quantitative tightening stop.

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ROMANS: So, why is the central bank considering cutting rates if the economy is so strong? Well, preemptive damage control for the president's trade wars and slowing global growth. The question now, how big will this cut be and what will Jerome Powell say about it this afternoon when he announces the Fed move.

Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, we'll be watching Christine. Thank you very much for all of that.

So, evolution or revolution. You heard both approaches last night. What do voters want? We asked the Head of the DNC what he heard last night, next.

[07:49:10]

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BERMAN: Half time in the CNN Democratic Debates. Last night, in nigh one, we saw a very deep serious discussion on policy, where there were contrasts, genuine contrasts between the two candidates. What will we see tonight? Let's talk about it all with the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez joins us now.

And Alisyn, you just asked him a great question.

CAMEROTA: Because I want to know, when you're in that hall and you're watching the debate, last night and what will happen tonight, are you on the edge of your seat? Are you nervous as you watch? TOM PEREZ, CHAIR FO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You know, what

I want to make sure happens is that we have the robust discussion of the issues. And I thought last night was incredibly substantive. And, John, you're correct, we did -- there was contrast, and that's fine.

The American people, I think need to know, OK, if health care is the number one issue, which it is, and appropriately so, that got the most time last night, people want to know how -- what's your plan from getting -- for getting from 90 percent coverage to 100 percent coverage.

So, what I'm always hoping for is that voters get the information they need to make informed judgments. And when they do, I feel -- I feel vindicated.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I'm talking about the moments where they're -- the tension, where the heat gets rationed up and there's some pointing and there's a little yelling. At that point, do you get nervous, like uh- oh, this isn't good for the party?

PEREZ: I get reflective. In 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, there were some moments there, and so, I -- the thing that I would get nervous about is if I saw people punching below the belt. These were discussions about policy, and to me that's fair game.

And these -- there was no -- I mean, as you probably know, four years ago in this very theater, that's when they had that really important discussion about hand size on the Republican side. And we don't get anywhere near that. When we're talking about the issues, I think that's what voters want. And we need to move away from the politics of tweet and division, and that's what we saw last night was really on everything.

[07:55:00]

Whether it was how do we do our gun violence epidemic, how do we address climate change? I think voters had a really good sense of where people were coming from. That's what debates are about.

BERMAN: Senator Amy Klobuchar had a line though, that she said, sometimes she feels among the candidates it's more about winning an argument than winning an election. Is there truth in that? Do you feel that some of the discussions here might make it harder to win a general election?

PEREZ: I don't think so in the sense that, again, we had similar discussions. I remember in 2008 there was a discussion about, oh, is the public option a bridge too far for the American people. And I think we've evolved as a nation on that discussion.

So, I don't think it's a bridge too far. I think what we have to do right now is continue to educate voters, and I hope tonight we'll have the same thing, because health care, again, is one of the top issues that voters are looking for. And if I'm a voter, I want to know, where does the -- where do the

candidates stack up. And they have to draw that contrast. So, I really appreciate that they did it without hitting below the belt.

CAMEROTA: We keep hearing this divide among voters and what they're looking for and we heard it last night on the stage. It's the evolution versus revolution. It's the bold versus practical, it's the pragmatic versus progressive.

And we hear the candidates say, well we can do all of it. Not really. The primary and the general, the way it's set up, you sort of have to choose one path, because as you know, primary voters are different that general election voters.

PEREZ: You know Alisyn, on that, I don't I think I agree with that respectfully, and here's why. I work for a guy named Ted Kennedy, he will always be my original political mentor and he taught me that idealism and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. He was the, so- called, liberal lion of the Senate, a proud progressive, who understand -- who understood when it was time to cut the deal.

He understood that -- and he used to say, Tom, if anyone asks you what wing of the of the party you're from, tell them you're from the accomplishments wing, because you want to get stuff done.

And that's what I always have in mind. Our job is to move the ball down the field for the American people and I'm a proud member of that accomplishments wing, because we're making people's lives better, that's what we do.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, tonight's the second night in the CNN Democratic Debates and then things change. So, what happens next in the primary race in terms of debates? How will that work and why?

PEREZ: Sure, so our next debate is in September, in Houston, the 12th and the 13th. The current threshold is one percent in at least three polls or 65,000 unique donors. The threshold for September and October is two percent and -- not or -- and 130,000. If you already have a 130 -- if you already have 100,000 unique donors now, that means you need 30,000 more. And the polling will go until roughly the end of August. And so, we'll see, I think, a flurry of polls in the aftermath of this debate and the ...

CAMEROTA: But I mean, how many candidates do you think we'll have -- will we loose after this?

PEREZ: I don't know. And we are planning for two nights, so we have the 12th and the 13th, and however many make it, we will have that -- we'll have them on the debate state.

CAMEROTA: Chairman Tom Perez, great to talk to you.

PEREZ: It's always a pleasure to be with you. It's been a great partnership.

BERMAN: Thanks Chairman. CAMEROTA: Thanks so much. All right, thanks to our international viewers for watching. For UCNN (ph) Newsroom with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, the stage is set for another debate tonight. "New Day" continues right now.

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

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare for All is comprehensive, it covers all health care needs for senior citizens ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know that Bernie.

SANDERS: Second of all ...

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

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

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't just choice between the left and the center or thinking we have to sacrifice our values to actually win.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If 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 VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CLIP: This is "New Day" with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your new day, this special edition of "New Day," the debate half time show.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: It is Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

CAMEROTA: You'll be in sequence.

BERMAN: It's 8:00 o'clock in New York.

CAMEROTA: And hanging from a trapeze of some kind.

BERMAN: Exactly, Prince is going to be on, NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, they're all here. We are live in Detroit, just 12 hours away now from the second CNN Democratic Debate.

Ten more candidates will take the stage. The focus for a lot of people is on the rematch between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris.

[07:55:00]