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Iowa Voters React to Debate; Sanders and Warren Clash with Moderates; Biden and Harris are Set for a Rematch Tonight. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:32:42] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Iowa is not that far away. I know we keep saying it's a long time until people vote. It will come very, very quickly. And voters in Iowa, the first caucus state in the nation, they were paying very close attention to last night's CNN debates.

So what did they think of the candidates?

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich live in Cedar Rapids. She what there.

What was the reaction, Vanessa?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John.

Well, as the candidates felt the pressure to perform on stage, voters here in Iowa feel the pressure to get behind a candidate as those caucuses are just six months away. And with many of the candidates performing well in voters' eyes, it just made their decision a lot more difficult.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YURKEVICH (voice over): Iowans get a lot of visits from the Democratic field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we've seen them all, from Bernie to Joe Sestak. They've all been here.

YURKEVICH: But voters here at a watch party in Cedar Rapids were eager to hear more from the candidates.

KC BARNES, IOWA VOTER: I want to hear about women's rights. I want to hear about race relations. And I want to hear about climate change.

YURKEVICH: Beto O'Rourke resonated with some voters here talking tariffs and farmers.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question was about tariffs and they're a huge mistake.

And farmers in Iowa and across the country are bearing the brunt of the consequences.

CATHY MEYER, IOWA VOTER: It hits home with almost anybody. You can ask anybody you work with, oh, yes, my uncle's a farmer. Farming is our state. So it's huge.

YURKEVICH: Elizabeth Warren was a standout in the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like Warren really did. It felt like no matter where pressure was coming from, where different topics were coming from, she was able to handle it and take it up a few notches from that too.

YURKEVICH: The campaigns sending their representatives here, too, making what could be last ditch efforts to connect with voters.

BARNES: I think the stakes are much higher. And I think people like Delaney, although I think he's a very decent man, I think as, you know, his own people are saying it's time to step back. And I think a lot of them will step back if they don't knock it out of the ballpark.

YURKEVICH: With stakes running high, some candidates lagging in the polls were able to shine.

[06:35:00] ANNETTE BUSBEE, IOWA VOTER: I've actually been impressed with some of the things that Marianne Williamson has been saying. This is my first opportunity to really hear what she's had to say on certain issues. And while there's not a lot of specifics, she's definitely, I think, speaking to the values and the morals of the country.

YURKEVICH: Even after a nearly three-hour debate, picking a frontrunner got even harder for some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, it's overwhelming. And I think sometimes I'm almost going to the point where I'm thinking, who can I eliminate rather than who can I elect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YURKEVICH: And as ten more candidates take the stage tonight, voters here in Iowa tell me they are paying close attention to that matchup between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden to see how that dynamic plays out. And as for us, Alisyn, we are heading east to Dubuque, Iowa, to another watch party this evening where we'll bring you more voter reaction early again tomorrow morning.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We look forward to that, Vanessa, because we love being able to hear directly from the voters because they often have such a different take than say the pundits or the elected officials do. But do you -- thank you, Vanessa.

Do you know what time it is here?

BERMAN: Doughnut time? CAMEROTA: Doughnut o'clock.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Some of the enthusiastic fans have just brought us some doughnuts from Tim Hortons, which you tell me is a Canadian --

BERMAN: Yes, well, you can see Canada from here.

CAMEROTA: From your house.

BERMAN: From -- yes, I can see Canada from my hotel.

CAMEROTA: All right, things have just looked up.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I think you're going to see a marked improvement in our performance.

All right, meanwhile, in terms of the candidates' performance, there was a stark divide in the Democratic Party that was on full display last night. Michael Smerconish had a prediction at the begin of the debate. Did it come true? He tells us, next.

BERMAN: It's a two doughnut prediction, Smerconish.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:47] CAMEROTA: So last night we saw the ideological divide within the Democratic Party. Do they want evolution or revolution?

BERMAN: Oh.

CAMEROTA: Do you like that one?

BERMAN: I do.

CAMEROTA: I do too.

BERMAN: I do like that.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

Michael, great to have you.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Right before the debate began, you tweeted this out prediction, my debate prediction, the divide within the party between progressivism and pragmatism will be plainly evident by the end of the night. Bernie and Elizabeth versus Hickenlooper, Delaney and Bullock.

I think that came true. SMERCONISH: I sat there and I looked at the stage and I -- I'm

thinking of the positioning of it and I was wrong in one regard, I'd have thrown Tim Ryan in there as well. And I thought he distinguished himself, as did the others.

I think there's a market in the country for the three who were on the right side of the stage, the ones that you just mentioned. But, Alisyn, the question is, is there a market for them in this incarnation of the Democratic Party. Can you get nominated saying the sort of things that they were saying last night? You can get elected. I don't know that you can get nominated. Therein lies the difference.

BERMAN: So, Michael, and, again, I think you often come at this from the center, I think admittedly.

SMERCONISH: Yes. That -- that would be my bias, no doubt.

BERMAN: And this is a Democratic primary, which may not be from the center. We don't know yet. We honestly don't know what the makeup of the primary voters will be state to state to state.

But if you're looking at Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren against those people you brought up, who made their case more strongly last night, if you were scoring the debate on points?

SMERCONISH: It's -- meaning those in the middle versus those who were on the side of the stage?

BERMAN: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Call me an easy grader, because at the end of the night I like to go arrows up, arrows down, arrows sideways. And, in my opinion, nobody had a bad night.

CAMEROTA: Nobody got an arrow down?

SMERCONISH: Nobody got an arrow down last night, OK? There's no curve here in my grading, Alisyn. I just -- I don't think that anyone made a gaffe. There were no mistakes. I give Marianne Williamson a thumb's up last night for her delivery. I think if you went in as a Bernie or Elizabeth Warren partisan, you felt great last night. There was something for everybody.

But, man, the divide was -- was very obvious. John Delaney, I wondered whether he'd be given a shot last night to show his chops and to try and present this dichotomy. He certainly was given ample opportunity. Whether he gets to come back, I'm not sure. I wished Steve Bullock had gotten into this thing sooner because I think that the Montana governor offered a lot of arguments last night that Democrats might want to listen to, but I don't know if he can move the needle to come back in September.

CAMEROTA: But you did give him an arrow up.

SMERCONISH: A thumbs up. Yes, no doubt.

CAMEROTA: A thumbs up for introducing himself and for making his case.

SMERCONISH: Absolutely I did.

CAMEROTA: And so where does that leave us for tonight?

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So what are you going to see on -- what is your prediction that you're going to tweet out for what you're going to see on the stage tonight?

SMERCONISH: I don't -- it will take until I'm sitting there and feeling the vibe. But if I can say this, it's an endurance test.

BERMAN: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Listen. I sat with the audience just a couple of rows from the stage. The audience had to be seated by 6:30 Eastern Time. The debate begins at 8:00. And so I recognize that as an audience member, you know, you're sort of held captive longer than the candidates. It was a hot room. And by the end of the night, all that substance that was offered in rapid fire, I'm thinking of Joe Biden among others tonight. They better be ready to go the distance. And if Joe Biden, at the end of the night, is able to thrive in that environment, then he will have crossed the threshold. But that's going to be interesting to see.

BERMAN: Yes, it's a high bar, but it's a big opportunity for him.

SMERCONISH: Right. Absolutely. But it's -- but don't underestimate what it takes to be there all night long and firing on all cylinders at the end of the night.

BERMAN: Can I ask you one question about last night that bridges to tonight? Two people who were really not mentioned. Joe Biden was not mentioned once.

SMERCONISH: Right.

BERMAN: Not brought up at all. Was that surprising to you?

SMERCONISH: It was because I thought that some -- I didn't expect Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to -- to go after Biden.

By the way, I didn't expect them to go after each other, and they didn't.

BERMAN: Didn't.

SMERCONISH: And when they walked out on stage last night, you know, the vibe was her giving him a little pat, if you noticed that.

CAMEROTA: They set the tone right there.

SMERCONISH: And then, Alisyn, I also saw, you know, big sort of bro grip between Hickenlooper and Delaney. OK, I took that in. There's not going to be any static from the two of them.

So the personal vibe of what maybe not -- might not be in camera shot is very interesting to glean when they first walk out.

[06:45:01] BERMAN: Very quickly, do you think the Democrats should have spent more time focused on President Trump last night?

SMERCONISH: No, not necessarily. I think it was an opportunity for them to distinguish themselves on their issues.

Hey, it was pretty highbrow. It was pretty substantive. And I think that the conversation on health care, while necessary, and I don't mean to minimize the importance, it really was in the weeds. And I -- I wonder how much of that is discernible by the audience watching at home.

CAMEROTA: Michael Smerconish, great to have your instant analysis.

SMERCONISH: I'm caffeinated, can you tell?

CAMEROTA: Fantastic.

SMERCONISH: Unintentionally so. I'm like shot out of a cannon today.

BERMAN: This is why I've been talking about this for weeks. You really have to carefully delineate between caffeinated and decaf when you put it in these two bins.

SMERCONISH: I think it's mislabeled in the -- in the tent.

BERMAN: The first candidate --

CAMEROTA: It's (INAUDIBLE) for you.

SMERCONISH: Just saying.

BERMAN: The first candidate who requires labeling of caffeinated coffee will be my candidate.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Michael.

All right, it's a high stakes night for Joe Biden, as we've been discussing. Could another rough debate performance hurt his standing in the polls? Harry Enten has all the numbers. They're very interesting, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:01] BERMAN: Just hours away from the big rematch between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. The latest polls show these two candidates right now in a pitch battle for the African- American vote.

Let's get "The Forecast" with CNN's senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten.

Harry, we talk about the black vote because it's been a big part -- not only is it a big part of the Democratic Party vote in general, but it's been a big part of Joe Biden's base. What do you see there?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, I mean right now Joe Biden is well out ahead of that -- in that group. He's getting 50 percent in an average of the recent national polls. Kamala Harris is all the way back at 12 percent. And Cory Booker, who obviously has made some attacks recently against Biden, is all the way back at just 1 percent right now. One percent.

But I should say that there's been a lot of shifting within the African-American vote, right? What we saw going into that first debate was Biden was basically at the same level he is right now, but then he dropped into the mid-30s, while Harris came all the way up to the low 20s. So it does indicate to me that these are some shifting allegiances that you can, in fact, see. So don't be surprised if Booker and Harris try to take it to Biden on the stage tonight.

CAMEROTA: But doesn't it also indicate to you that there's a debate bounce, but then things revert to the mean?

ENTEN: I think that's absolutely right. And I think that's something we've seen in general, right, with the general poll numbers is, there's going to be a lot of discussion after tonight. You know, oh, so and so got ahead of so and so. But the fact is, is that these debate bounces oftentimes recede and we have to recognize them in sort of the larger context of the race. It's one thing to get a bounce. It's another thing to be able to sustain that bounce.

BERMAN: And, of course, there's a question about how much Democrats should use the issue of race perhaps in a general election. Is the president a racist? There's some new numbers there.

ENTEN: Yes, there are some new numbers. So Quinnipiac University polled it last week, and what we basically see, a majority of Americans, a majority of voters believe that the president of the United States is racist. That, to me, is unbelievable.

BERMAN: In and of itself?

ENTEN: In and of itself it's unbelievable.

But I think what's also unbelievable is that despite all the press that we've seen recently, that number's basically unmoved from where it was last year, right, when it was 49 percent. So it doesn't seem to me that, you know, people basically are in their corner about Donald Trump.

But I think what's even more interesting than the overall numbers is, take a look at the numbers broken down by race. And what you see is essentially the African-Americans overwhelmingly, 80 percent of them, believe that the president of the United States is racist. But among whites and Hispanics, you have a far closer to an even race going on. And I think oftentimes, you know, we group together non-white voters into one block. But what we basically see here is Hispanics are looking a lot more like whites when it comes to whether they consider the president racist or not.

CAMEROTA: I did a voter panel yesterday with Michigan voters and there was a woman there who made no bones about calling the president racist. She likened him to George Wallace. We've heard this analogy before. And you looked at the numbers.

ENTEN: You know, I was able to type into my computer, go to the Roper (ph) Center and see that. In fact, there was a poll in 1968 that asked whether or not you thought that George Wallace was racist.

BERMAN: Oh, my goodness.

ENTEN: And what you basically see here is --

BERMAN: OH, my goodness.

ENTEN: A higher percentage of voters right now actually think that Donald Trump is racist than thought George Wallace, although the spread -- there was a much more of undecided. The spread is basically the same. So those comparisons to me seem quite apt, at least in terms of the public opinion of the two men.

BERMAN: I've never seen that. That's stunning to me. And, again, in and of itself, the idea that a majority of Americans think the president is a racist is noteworthy.

So, the president's approval rating, Harry?

ENTEN: Right. And I think, you know, we're saying, oh, is the president playing 3D chess, is he playing 20 dimensional chess? What we see is that, in fact, the president's approval rating has not moved since the end of last month. It's 43 percent. It's not like he's being able to use these attacks and go and actually grab more voters. Voters are very much settled on who -- what they think of the president and overwhelmingly a majority do not like him.

Let me just add one last thing. We're in Detroit. And, you know, I'm a huge football fan and I just want to point out that even if my Buffalo Bills are not great, the Detroit Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Does that make you feel better?

ENTEN: That makes me feel a lot better. They haven't won an NFL championship since 1957.

CAMEROTA: Well, congratulations.

BERMAN: It's a shame considering Barry Sanders and Billy Sims (ph). That's -- that's really unfortunate.

ENTEN: It is what it is. CAMEROTA: Thanks, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, four of the Democrats on the stage last night are up early and they are joining us this morning. So, in just minutes, we're going to speak to Pete Buttigieg about his big moments and whether he thinks he got his message across.

BERMAN: There he is.

CAMEROTA: He is walking up the stairs.

BERMAN: Stair master.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:58:19] CAMEROTA: OK, welcome back, everybody. We are very pleased to be joined by the presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

But before we get to policy, we have a treat for you. These were our "Late Night Laughs."

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All right.

CAMEROTA: Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": On the subject of health care, John Delaney tried to speak to his experience on the trail.

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been going around rural America and I asked rural hospital administrators one question --

COLBERT: Do you know who I am?

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": This was some lineup. It was actually more a pileup than a lineup. There were more characters than on the show "This is Us" in this debate. And there they are. Meet the new management team at Kinkos.

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": After Delaney and others accused Bernie and Warren of trying to make private health insurance illegal, Warren stepped in to stop the bickering.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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. And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.

MEYERS: Elizabeth Warren will turn this car around right now and nobody's going to Disneyland! (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, Mayor Buttigieg, was that funny, yes or no?

BUTTIGIEG: Nobody went to Disneyland. No, that was good.

CAMEROTA: They didn't really make fun of you.

BUTTIGIEG: No, I was going to say, like should I feel bad that I didn't make the late night show or is it a good sign?

CAMEROTA: I think it's fine.

BUTTIGIEG: I think it's a good sign.

CAMEROTA: I think you're just fine. Yes, exactly.

BUTTIGIEG: The less absurd you are, hopefully the less you make it on.

CAMEROTA: There you go.

BERMAN: All right, mayor, stand by. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and three of the other Democratic candidates join us live. NEW DAY continues right now.

[07:00:02] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: It's time to stop worrying about what the republicans will say.

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