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CNN's Coverage of the Democratic Presidential Debates. Aired 10:47p-12a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 22:47   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Night two of the CNN Democratic debate here in Detroit. Once again, anyone wanting to know what separates Democrats from Donald Trump, and what separates those Democrats on that stage from each other, certainly got plenty of both tonight and plenty to think about. Again tonight, we saw sharp disagreements on a number of subjects.

We certainly saw a different, more engaged, more combative Joe Biden at times, especially towards California Senator Kamala Harris. Although, it did began with a kind of attempted Jedi mind trick, reading her on stage. The former vice president asked her to -- and I'm quoting now, "go easy on me, kid." She did not, nor he on her, nor not in the least, and not just with her, in part because he is the frontrunner in the national polls and perhaps because his opponents sense vulnerability after the last debate.

Senator Harris, Senator Booker, Julian Castro and others directed much of their fire at Joe Biden. We'll talk about those hits about how well the former vice president handled them, and who, if anyone showed that they were the one to take on Donald Trump. We'll be talking to some of the candidates as well, and we'll, of course, be joined by some of the best political and journalistic voices around.

CNN chief national correspondent, John King joining us here, Host of CNN's Inside Politics, CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson is with us, CNN senior political commentator, Axe Files Host, and former senior Obama adviser, David Axelrod, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with us, also so is CNN political commentator and former Clinton 2016 director of communications outreach Jess McIntosh, also former adviser to President Obama, Van Jones, Host of CNN's Van Jones Show.

And two CNN political commentators, both former governors, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, just for some quick takes, John King, what stood out?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The big question was Joe Biden. Tonight, unlike the first debate, he got into the fight and he got into the mud to a degree with Kamala Harris on healthcare, with Cory Booker on crime, with Secretary Castro on immigration. He got into the fight. His team will be happy that he showed up, that he responded, that fired back.

I think his performance over the two hours was pretty uneven. He fumbled some facts. I think picked a couple fights he probably didn't need to pick and then had to answer and got put on the defensive by getting back into those exchanges. Again, the big question was would he show up, he did. He started this campaign, though, on a pedestal, if you will, above the rest of the field. I think tonight proved he's down with the field.

[22:49:56] And that for Joe Biden has been the problem the last two times he's run for president. Breaking out when you're one of the pack, he started this race with an advantage. I think he's actually come back down into the group.

COOPER: All right, Nia.


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think the real winner tonight was Elizabeth Warren. I mean if you look back at her debate performance, I think she's the best political athlete on the field. Joe Biden, at times, he didn't seem like he wanted the ball. He gave up his time at times and didn't complete his thoughts. He wanted to just -- just kind of, you know, fade into the background at times.

I thought Kamala Harris, who came in with big expectations because she had done so well in that first debate, I think she was very uneven. She never seemed to really settle in. She didn't seem to expect that she was going to get prosecuted on her prosecutorial record. And Tulsi Gabbard really went at her. And she didn't, I think, really make an affirmative case for her prosecutorial record.

COOPER: Yeah. David Axelrod?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the good news for Joe Biden is this was maybe the best he could do. And the bad news is this maybe the best he could do. He was much better than last time. He was much more engaged. But I agree with -- I agree with these -- with these guys. He had moments in which he was uncertain, where he was on the defensive.

And the main thing is he was the guy who was going to take on Trump and bring it to Trump and restore values and decency. That was what -- that's where he started in this race. Tonight, he had to be a gut fighter. And I think he paid some price for that.

COOPER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know the bar was so low for Joe Biden at the beginning of this debate that he had to do better than a lot of people expected he would do. And I think he did. I think he took it to Kamala Harris. What I really noticed was that he was having trouble when he had to choose between defending Barack Obama and the way the party has moved left in order to appeal to those voters. And so, you know, he said, look. I was good enough for Barack Obama.

Ipso facto, I should be good enough for everybody here on this stage. But when he was asked about, you know, immigration and the deportation issue, he couldn't really figure out how to answer that question. And I think that will come up time and time again.

COOPER: It's also -- you wonder if Elizabeth Warren was on that stage, how he -- how some of the other sort of folks who were in the lead in the polls would fair against -- clearly her energy level, I mean regardless of what you think about her politics. She is very -- I mean, you know, she sat out here for, I don't know, 20 minutes last night taking all sorts of questions. There wasn't anybody with that same kind of policy chops and energy level on the stage tonight.

KING: We may see that in September. This field is going to shrink. Some of that -- I think some of the second tier candidates did a much better tonight job than the lower tier candidates did in the debate last night. Will they move the polls? Will they get more donors? You know, we'll see that over the next week, 10 days as Democrats react.

But back to that point, look, Biden got back in the fight tonight. But just close your eyes and remember last night. Elizabeth Warren, especially Bernie Sanders as well, defending their progressive positions, defending go big. Go bold on all these issues. Joe Biden got in the fight tonight, but the question was the moderates last night tried.

And I would argue failed to counter the philosophical argument, the why are you doing this argument of Warren and Sanders. Biden didn't do that tonight, either. That was the question coming in. Would he rise up? Would moderate Democrats, would centrists like those two governors over there, would you close your eyes and see Joe Biden winning a debate against Elizabeth Warren. I'm not saying he can't. He didn't tonight. If you took last night and merged it with tonight, he did not.


AXELROD: And one of the demands of this process is to tell -- use these debates to tell a story. What is your vision? Where do you want to lead? What are your values that are touchstones? Elizabeth Warren did that. Whether you agree with her point of view or not, it was very clear where she's coming from. And that's been true throughout this...


COOPER: You didn't get that sense from Biden.



AXELROD: And I will say also, Kamala Harris who I thought got a taste of what it's like to be a top tier candidate. She did very well last time. She was under fire this time. And she also was uneven in her performance, never got a big message off.

BORGER: He was too busy sort of swatting people away, and couldn't get to his central message about what he wants to do with -- for this country, except I was good enough for Barack Obama.

HENDERSON: Yeah. He said that.

BORGER: And that isn't good enough for 2020. So he has to get beyond that. Maybe he felt that that wasn't his job at this debate. Maybe his job was just to get through it unscathed. And that didn't happen. But, you know, I would have expected a little bit more.

HENDERSON: I think one of the questions is, and I came into this debate saying this. I thought he'd probably get a C, but some people might see it as an A-plus, because people are still invested in the idea of Joe Biden, the idea that he can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, the idea that he is still the most electable, because folks in the Midwest might vote for him. We'll see if that's the case, if he's this Teflon candidate. And a lot of this that he might be not strong in debates is priced into what people think of him.

COOPER: Let's go over to our partner, Governor, what did you make of it tonight?

[22:54:57] TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen. I think a lot of people thought Biden was going to go out in a body bag. That did not happen. He did -- some people predicted that he wasn't going to rise to the occasion. He did tonight. You know, they went after him, attacked him on some issues that were interesting. These were Obama policies that Democrats were attacking Joe Biden on, on the issue of deportation, on Obamacare.

That's very tricky to do. President Obama has a 95 percent approval rating in the Democratic Party. So a lot of the hits I don't think really affected him. I thought Cory Booker had a great night. You know, he was the happy warrior tonight. And I think there is something to be said for that. I do worry with some of these debates, the negativity between all these Democrats.

We got to get ready for a fall campaign, and it's gotten a little nasty. You know, a lot of the things we hear tonight could come back and hurt us when we finally run against Donald Trump. So I was proud. I thought Booker did a good night. I thought the attack on Senator Harris was one of the toughest I have ever seen.

COOPER: By Tulsi Gabbard.

MCAULIFFE: Absolutely, exculpatory evidence on people on death row. I mean that is as tough as you can get.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think this was the opposite of last night. Last night, you had two stars at the center, Warren and Sanders. And they wiped the floor with all the (Inaudible). This time, the stars faded. Biden did well enough to stop some of the fears, but not to give people that overwhelming confidence this is our guy. And Kamala just didn't have it tonight. And instead, the people that were almost the afterthoughts came on

like gangbusters. Cory Booker turned in a performance that reminded you why he's a household name. He was great on immigration. He was great on criminal justice. He was great on climate. He was happy. He was effective. You're like -- because up until now, he looked like a guy with a great future behind him. So he bought himself a lifeline. Also, Gillibrand did great.

HENDERSON: I think that's right.

JONES: She did great. And nobody was expecting her to do well. And I must say that Andrew Yang...


JONES: Yang gang.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that collective sound of sighing you hear are the sighs of relief of people in the Democratic Party who wanted Joe Biden to show up. And he did. I know he had -- there were a couple of rough moments. But honestly, his opening was sharp. His closing was sharp. He had a great response, I thought, to Bill De Blasio, the sort of fourth moderator about the TPP and trade.

And he came forth in a strong way. And in a state like Michigan, that was really important in terms of whether he would support NAFTA, 2.0. So I thought Joe Biden did a great job tonight. You know we'll see what happens in September.


COOPER: You're interpreting those sighs. The sighs I have heard from some Democrats is this all there is?


COOPER: To quote Peggy Lee. Is that all there is?

GRANHOLM: From my perspective, I think there are a lot of Democrats who said the bar was really low. He did bad in the first debate. They were all worried that he was going to fall apart. He did not. He was the pinata. He had all of this incoming, and he did -- he held his own.


JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What I really needed to hear from Biden and from Harris, what I was really excited about was their positive, proactive vision for the future. And I didn't get that from, honestly, either of them. I thought Harris handled the criticism really well. It's clear that the rest of the field considers her just as much of a threat as Joe Biden. But I think Cory Booker won this debate.

(CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: Cory Booker was very positive.

MCINTOSH: By being positive and by being the happy warrior.


KING: If I can jump in -- to your point about Biden, take your point and tie it to David's point. If this is the best he can do, can you see him against Donald Trump next October?

GRANHOLM: Let me beg your question. Let me just beg it, because if this is the best he can do, all he was doing was responding to incoming. I mean that's -- this kind of...


GRANHOLM: I am just saying that he had 10 people or 9 other people on there all with a different attack that he was supposed to respond to.


GRANHOLM: I am just saying that he did well, given all of that.

BORGER: I agree with you. I agree with you except for one point, which is where is the inspiration?


BORGER: You're a Democratic voter and you're looking out there, and you've seen these 20 candidates after two nights. And you're thinking, which is one of these people that I am going to go out and knock on doors for?


AXELROD: This goes to the narrative piece.

BORGER: I am going to go out and work my heart out for these people.


BORGER: Which is the candidate?


GRANHOLM: First of all, I will say Cory Booker was inspirational tonight. I think Michael Bennet had a couple of moments that were really inspirational as a former superintendent talking about criminal justice. But I do think this was a joyless debate.


GRANHOLM: And that's unfortunate.

JONES: Let me say one thing about Tulsi Gabbard who I though had an extraordinary night. Listen, I think she spoke well to her generation. And when she took on Kamala Harris -- listen, it's tough to take on a prosecutor. She took her on --


[23:00:00] VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, she I think spoke well to her generation and when she took on Kamala Harris. Listen, it's tough to take on a prosecutor. She took her on. On the death penalty, Kamala has been mixed. She did take a very courageous stand in San Francisco, and not bring forward one of those death penalty cases.

But later on, she had the opportunity to essentially end the death penalty in California. She decided to not do that.

And so, when you have somebody like a Tulsi Gabbard, who is a soldier, who is a true believer, challenging someone like that, that's a big risk for Tulsi Gabbard. She pulled it off. I didn't think anybody could survive laying a glove on Kamala Harris. I would not lay a glove on Kamala Harris. And yet, she did it and she survived.

I think that says there is some steel in Tulsi Gabbard that is growing, and she actually made a difference tonight.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we haven't heard -- I want to give Jay Inslee a good shout-out as well.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Got to take care of your governors. He did do a good job.


MCAULIFFE: Yes. He did a very good job on climate. He did a good job on executive experience. I thought Jay Inslee was, you know, very --


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: But, I mean, the question is, I can't remember which you asked it is, on the stage with Donald Trump. I mean, Donald Trump was on a stage in 2015, '16, with what, 15 other top Republican candidates.


JONES: Please talk, brother.

COOPER: And, you know, that -- I mean it was worse than -- that was just 10. There were 15 or 16 people on that stage.



COOPER: And he wiped the stage with people.

BORGER: He was the bully, though. AXELROD: Yes.

BORGER: He was calling people names.


COOPER: OK. He's not going to get any nicer on this.

BORGER: None of these people are going to mimic that behavior because when Republicans mimic that behavior, if you recall, when Marco Rubio did it, it didn't do them any good.

COOPER: Right. but I don't know how, I don't know going toe-to-toe, yes, he's a bully. He's going to call them names. Whatever. We all know the games. But can any of them actually respond.

AXELROD: Before --


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, the person who probably could go the best at Donald Trump, if you look at the entire two nights, is Elizabeth Warren who is a good debater.



HENDERSON: Has some passion. Has some policy for the country.

MCINTOSH: Kamala, the first debate could have taken on -- could have taken Donald Trump 100 percent, too.

JONES: Let me just add something. The thing is that what we need a fighter, we need a problem solver, we need a visionary. We have --


AXELROD: Van is about to announce his candidacy.

JONES: No, no, no. But think about it. Listen, you can point to some fighters, you up can point to some pomp, you can point to some visionaries. The only person who is all three is Elizabeth Warren.



KING: Right.

JONES: That's got to be the takeaway, whether you like it or not after two nights.

AXELROD: No, no, whether you like it or not, she's very -- she's proved herself to be a great, great debater. She's run a great campaign. There are people who have philosophical differences with her and they're hoping that Biden will represent that choice.

And the question is not how he will stand up on a stage with Donald Trump. That's a next level question. The question is how will he stand up on a stage with Elizabeth Warren and will he carry that banner --


COOPER: But it's also --

AXELROD: -- in a way that moderate Democrats hope he will.

COOPER: I think it's also easy to be too hard on the Joe Biden or Kamala Harris as the front-runners on that stage tonight. I mean, it is very early in this race.

KING: Sure.

JONES: Totally. Where Obama -- where Obama --



COOPER: We're also invested in it. This is such early days. Candidates get better.

JONES: Yes. Kamala will get -- listen, one thing I know about Kamala Harris, I've known Kamala Harris for 20 years. Just like Obama he struggled in a couple of those early debates and he got better and better.


JONES: Kamala Harris will review those tapes and she will come back. And anybody who thinks you just saw the best of Kamala Harris, wait until next debate.

MCINTOSH: When we have a stage that is single digit in candidates, it is a completely different ball game.


MCINTOSH: Everybody is going to be able to tell their story a little bit more. They're going to be able to draw contrasts. It's not going to feel like a pinata with 30 kids with sticks.


AXELROD: Yes. But I'll tell you something. Here's what -- here's what Kamala Harris and Biden saw tonight. In this process of running for president, the better you do, the better you have to do.

Every stage of the way, if you are -- if you're moving up, you're going to get greater scrutiny. You're going to get more interrogation in these debates. You're going to get more pressure and you have to be able to deal with it as it comes. And so that will be something to watch as this thing ratchets up.

Warren has not shown -- she's shown great tenacity in terms of dealing with the pressures. She was written off early. She's now way back in the mix. And we saw her last night. These other candidates if they're going to compete are going to have to raise their game.

BORGER: Well, and also --


HENDERSON: Well, shouldn't be Biden be better right now? I mean, he's been a politician since 1970s.

BORGER: No, not necessarily.

HENDERSON: He's been vice president. He's run for president twice. We compare him to Obama. Obama was, like, what 46 years old?

COOPER: You're so stuck in the past.

BORGER: But he was old.

HENDERSON: I mean --


BORGER: But David remembers it not necessarily. When you've been vice president or you've been president, you're not used to people coming and attacking you.

HENDERSON: But isn't that his argument, that he's really great and serious.

BORGER: Yes, but not as a debater necessarily. And Obama's --

HENDERSON: I mean, maybe he just move --

[23:04:58] AXELROD: He's been a good debater in the past but he's never been a front-runner.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: When you're a front-runner --

BORGER: That's right.

AXELROD: -- as he discovered tonight, everybody is going after you. I said it the other day, the Mario Cuomo quote, "only in cowboy movies do people shoot backwards." Everybody shoots at the guy in front. And he was -- he's the guy in front.

BORGER: And he's going to have Warren and Sanders on the same stage with him, and then he's going to be attacked by both of those people who -- who believe truly in what they are talking about.

GRANHOLM: And different attacks than the attacks tonight. COOPER: Actually, let's look at some of those attacks. As we have a

bit of a montage. Let's take a look.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I asked the vice president pointblank did he use his power to stop those deportations, he went right around the question. Mr. Vice president, you want to be president of the United States. You need to be able to answer the tough questions.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice president, you can't have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your plan by contrast leaves out almost 10 million Americans. So, I think that you should really think about what you're saying.

DE BLASIO: Joe Biden told wealthy donors that nothing fundamentally would change if he were president.

BOOKER: If you want to compare records and, frankly, I'm shocked that you do, I am happy to do that.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't.

BOOKER: There is a saying in my community, you're dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor.


COOPER: I liked the last one is pretty --

GRANHOLM: Yes. Just imagine this. Anderson, so there are eight more debates, right? And by the time you get to the general election, I mean, you will have heard every single attack. Granted, it's coming from largely the left, but, you know, you can imagine that you have lots of practice.

Donald Trump is not getting debate practice right now. He's going to show up at a general election debate, you know, --


MCINTOSH: I would argue Donald Trump --

KING: He had never done it before.

MCINTOSH: -- has plenty of practice attacking people and he will continue attacking people right up through the debate. COOPER: Right. Also, right. To John, to the point John's about to

make, he'd never done this before.

KING: He'd never done this before.

BORGER: That's true.

KING: And he proved himself pretty good at it.


KING: Number one, he's kind of practicing every day. He does it with his fingers on Twitter. But he practices every day to what we just played there, though. In the healthcare exchange with Senator Harris, I think the former vice president held his ground.


KING: And he tried to make his point, you know, for his healthcare plan. Have a public option buy-in, don't have this giant disruptive -- and to your point about Senator Harris, she should have learned this from her prosecution of him in the first debate, she still refuses as Senator Sanders and Senator Warren had the courage to do last night to look the camera in the eye and say, yes, yes, my healthcare plan takes away. That if you get it from your employer, you lose it. She does not want to say that.

BORGER: In 10 years.

KING: Her plan does that, though. She does have private insurance, can have this Medicare advantage plan.

BORGER: Right.

KING: But if you get it from your employer and you have different options, her plan takes it away and she doesn't want to say that. She wants to find some other way to sort of talk around it. Her campaign motto is - speak truth. Well, the truth is her plan takes that away and she doesn't want to talk about it.

But back to the vice president, some of those exchanges he was OK. But to David's point, Biden's strength here is if he is to convince Democrats you want me to go up against Donald Trump because I will defend the Obama record and I will also get, you know, the scrappy kid from Scranton, the blue-collar guys. I (Inaudible) to a bar. Those Trump voters Macomb County, Michigan will come back to me.

When he's in tis back and forth he can't get back to the narrative. He doesn't get back to the narrative. It's a tactical back and forth. Watch Warren last night. When they came at her, she does. She makes her point and then she gets it back to why are we here. Who am I? That's what he did not tonight. He's in the fight, and he was muddying it up. But again, he came down to their level.

COOPER: I found to fascinating that it seems like the Democrats, the candidates when they're in a corner they have adopted a new -- it's basically their Republican version of that's fake news and there is this that's a Republican talking point.

BORGER: I know.

HENDERSON: Yes. It's --

BORGER: That's right.

COOPER: Which in some cases, yes, those are Republican talking points.


BORGER: But it's actually a question.

COOPER: In some cases, they're actual facts.

HENDERSON: It's actually a voter -- yes, yes. It's a Democratic voter talking point. I mean, they are --


COOPER: Right. Right. And, by the way, even if it is a Republican talking point --


COOPER: -- you're going to be debating a Republican and if you can't answer --


AXELROD: One thing I wanted to note about those clips. We talk about Cory Booker. You know, I disagree with you slightly, Van. I know Democrats want someone who is strong enough to go up against Donald Trump, but the question is how you go up against Donald Trump.

And I think the answer is probably jiujitsu. You turn his negative energy against him. What you saw there was Booker. He never seemed like he was on the attack.


AXELROD: He was responding --


HENDERSON: Yes. The happy warrior.

AXELROD: -- in stride. And most of the time he was summoning Democrats to larger themes.


AXELROD: And I think he's more than anyone was carrying a narrative tonight that has real potential for Democrats. Doesn't mean he's going to be the nominee. (CROSSTALK)

BORGER: We expected Booker to go negative because he had been negative for the last week or two about Joe Biden. And he had been on the attack. And what he did was when he got to the stage it was sort of like, well, I've said all of that and I'm not going to do that anymore.

[23:09:59] I'm going to let Kamala Harris attack him on the bussing and the dealing with segregationists, which she did. And so, he benefitted himself --


MCINTOSH: Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren both seem to get excited when they get challenged, and that is a really, really strong suit for somebody who is going to take on Donald Trump. Because they're going to get challenged a whole lot. And both of them seem to feed off it.

MCAULIFFE: One thing we keep saying about Donald Trump, when we get into the general election, folks, don't forget it is this man who has destroyed healthcare in this country. He's taken away the individual mandate. He's brought confusion to the insurance market. Prices have gone up all over the country. We had policies in Virginia have gone up 62 percent. We will have a lot to hit Donald Trump on.

AXELROD: That's the speech you would have given if you were a candidate. Nobody did it tonight, though.

MCAULIFFE: But they should. Don't forget why we're in this mess. The other thing I'd say on healthcare. We got to figure out where we are by the time we get to the general. It was mind-numbing tonight. And I follow this. But for most Americans, they tuned out.

AXELROD: Well, you know --


JONES: I'm sorry. One person that we haven't talked about who was very, very deft all night was Castro.


JONES: I don't want to lose that. Because part of what you had with him was, he was a lot tonight the way that Mayor Pete was last night. He was able --


MCINTOSH: But better.

JONES: But better. He was able to kind of seem pragmatic, get the lines in, tell the story and escape unscathed. And I think that his ability to -- I think he will be back. I think Castro, I think he bought himself a new lifeline. I also think that unrecognized the social movements in this party had a victory tonight.

MCINTOSH: Yes, he did.

JONES: Black Lives Matter had a victory tonight. We're talking about criminal justice. The Me Too movement had a victory. Gillibrand, I think was incredible tonight prosecuting the case and making the argument for women being at the center, for moms being at the center. In a way I thought that was very, very appealing. Occupy Wall Street. And all that stuff, those kids are crazy. You now have a --


MCINTOSH: The environmental movement.

JONES: The environmental movement. You now have a party that's been remade from the bottom by social movements. And I just want to give credit to the people out there --


JONES: -- who have been clicktivists.

MCINTOSH: A thousand --

JOENS: And all that great stuff. This party is responding to social moments I think in a beautiful way. You saw it tonight.

AXELROD: On the health care issue, though, Terry, in addition to the things that you said. Gloria was mentioning when we were watching the debate virtually no mention of pre-existing conditions.


AXELROD: That was the thing that Democrats ran on --


AXELROD: -- in the last fall, and that's one of the -- that's the main reason why many of these Democrats won.


AXELROD: This was the key vulnerability for Republicans and you didn't hear anybody hammering it tonight.


AXELROD: You have a president of the United States who is suing right now --


JONES: In court right now.

AXELROD: -- to end those protections. And that was a missed opportunity. MCAULIFFE: And don't forget what President Obama said. The entire

battle for the ACA, if you like your health care plan, you get to keep it.

BORGER: Now you don't.

MCAULIFFE: Well, that's going to be the issue. I mean, we got to --


BORGER: Well, that's what you were saying. You, Democrats, have to figure out a way to simplify this again.


BORGER: Because everybody is confused. OK. Medicare for all for. What does that mean? Do I get to keep my -- Joe Biden says, well, if they tell you, you get to keep it for the next 10 years? Then what? People don't --


BORGER: -- people don't want to hear that. One other thing, where was the middle class in this debate?


BORGER: Did you hear anybody talking about protecting the middle class?

COOPER: Let's quickly go to Chris Cuomo for more perspective on what occurred tonight. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, how are you doing, bud? Thanks. Great conversation to listen. I got two very quality people with me. CNN political director David Chalian and USA Today columnist and CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers. Great to have you both.

Again, we're having our own conversation while they're having their conversation. That's what the nation is doing. So, let's pull the curtain back a little bit.

You study the numbers. You study the metrics. You know who has to do what and when. Tonight, was the when. What did you see on that stage tonight in terms of who did what they needed to do?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Joe Biden first and foremost did what he needed to do, which was survive, right? I mean, that was the biggest thing he had to prove tonight. It's that, he knew he was going to take all the incoming and he had to show that he could take it. And I think he certainly did that.

That is not the same thing as saying Joe Biden won the debate tonight, Joe Biden secured his path to the nomination tonight. I still think he's going to have to trudge through this process. There is no doubt about that. But what he did was show up in a way that showed Democratic voters he

can take it, stand there, dish some back and survive this kind of battle. That was -- after the Miami lackluster performance, that was mission critical for him and he did that. I don't know how much he propelled his candidacy as much as kept his ability to stay in this race in the positions.

CUOMO: If you had to bet me a bagel, whose number would pop after tonight?

CHALIAN: Well, if I had to bet you a bagel. I try not to bet, especially the future. But I will say --


CUOMO: Technically it's the past. It already happened. So, feel better about it.

CHALIAN: There you go. Cory Booker I will bet raises more money in the next 24 hours than in any other 24-hour period of his campaign.

CUOMO: I'll take it.

CHALIAN: I think he had a really successful night.

CUOMO: I'll take it. So, let's offer some different takes, Kirsten, you and I.


CUOMO: Let's start with Booker.


[23:14:59] CUOMO: Because you say he had a good night. We heard it on the other set as well. I'll take the other side because his big moment -- I think he was the happy warrior. That's good for him.

Where I disagree is, I don't think he was completely honest in his answer with Joe Biden. With his whole Kool-Aid, he didn't know the flavor either. The ACLU came after him while he was mayor because his police force was being unjust.

Three years into it they settled the case. That's when he came up with the recommendations that they liked. So, it wasn't just that they liked his job. They sued him for the job he was doing. Does it matter?

POWERS: Well, you know, that's the case that Joe Biden should have made, right? Because that didn't happen on the stage. And so, he was spinning, I would say. You call it lying. I would call it spinning. Massaging.


CUOMO: I'd say he wasn't completely honest. POWERS: Yes. So, he was massaging the facts a little bit in his

favor. But Joe Biden didn't -- you know, Joe Biden went in and made an attack. Now he should have known that, right? I mean, this was his attack to go after him on this. He should have been able to make that argument.

I think that, you know, for people who are watching, Cory won that exchange. And I think that Cory came across not just that he was pushing back but doing it in a very happy warrior way.

CUOMO: Yes. Did he win as soon as Biden attacked him, because Biden, to Axe's point about my father, he used to say only in the movies did the cowboys shoot backwards. That Biden shouldn't have gone after him on a granular level.


POWERS: Yes. Biden shouldn't have gone in a fight with him. And I think he feels like this was his response -- he was basically counterattacking because Cory's been criticizing him, right? But that's not really an answer.

Biden has a pretty easy answer to what he's being accused of in terms of the things that have happened in the past with the crime bill. This was not something that just Joe Biden came up with. This was something that people in the CBC supported. He could talk about --


CUOMO: The Congressional Black Caucus.

POWERS: Yes. Look, it ended up being a very terrible decision, but a lot of people made a terrible decision and he should just say that. It was a mistake. A lot of people we were wrong. We were trying to do the right thing. We made a mistake.

Instead, he goes on the attack against Cory and doesn't even have all the facts to really hold him accountable the way that you could have.

CUOMO: That's why they don't come on the show.


CUOMO: But he is going to come on with Anderson. And the good thing tonight is we don't necessarily agree with all the assessments on the other set.


CUOMO: So, it will be a robust conversation. Let's take a break right now. When we come back, Anderson Cooper is with Senator Cory Booker. People are talking a lot about him tonight. Let's see how he does in the interview next.

[23:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: And welcome back to the second night of the Democratic debates here in Detroit. Joe Lewis would certainly have approved of some of the fighting going on on the stage, some of the punches that were thrown.

I'm joined right now by Senator Cory Booker. Senator Booker, thank you so much for being with us.

BOOKER: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you for having me.

COOPER: How did you feel about what your plan was going in and how things ended up?

BOOKER: Well, I feel really good. I think one of the big points I was trying to drive that I tried to drive in every answer because I was disappointed last night. That I think one of the happiest people last night were a lot of Republican strategists trying to show that they could divide our party against itself.

And I wanted to be somebody to have spoken just every answer about what we agreed on and how the urgency now. It's not just to talk about our differences because they matter, but talk about how we can unite the whole party so that we can win in 2020.

COOPER: It didn't seem like a lot of happiness on the stage, and a number of people have already commented that you sort of seemed like a happy warrior in some of the exchanges that you had. Even in the way you -- when you were going in a back and forth with Vice President Biden, you still had sort of a smile on your face and you seemed kind of to do it in a way that didn't come off, I don't know, it just came off in an interesting way.

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Joe Biden. His service, his time as the vice president, and we all should have a reverence for that.

There are differences, clearly, in our criminal justice records. And I felt it important on an issue that I've worked on pretty much all my life, I wanted to make sure that a lot of the hurt that I feel that people are in jail right now for life because of three strikes your outlaws.

That we have marijuana laws in this country that deeply discriminate against low-income and black and brown people. And his plan didn't really allow for really aggressively dealing with those issues. So, I think the differences matter, but I really wanted to do them in a way that showed respect.

COOPER: I actually want to play that -- one of those exchanges that we were just discussing.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The bills that the president -- excuse me, the future president here -- that the senator's talking about are bills that were passed years ago and they were passed overwhelmingly.

Since 2007, I, for example, tried to get the crack powder cocaine totally -- disparity totally eliminated. In 2007, you became mayor and you had a police department that was -- you went out and you hired Rudy Giuliani's guy and engaged in stop and frisk.

You had 75 percent of those stops were viewed as illegal. You found yourself in a situation where three times as many African-American kids were caught up in that chain, and caught up.

The Justice Department came after you for saying you were engaging in behavior that was inappropriate and then, in fact, nothing happened, the entire time you were mayor.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thank you. Senator Booker, do you want to respond?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I'm grateful that he endorsed my presidency already, but I'll tell you this, it's no secret that I inherited a criminal -- a police department with massive problems and decades-long challenges, but the head of the ACLU has already said -- the head of the New Jersey ACLU that I put forth national standard- setting accountability. Mr. Vice President --

BIDEN: That's not --


BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, I didn't interrupt you. Please show me that respect, sir.

We have a system right now that's broken, and if you want to compare records and, frankly, I'm shocked that you do, I am happy to do that.


BOOKER: Because all of the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bills that you were, frankly, to correct you, Mr. Vice President, you were bragging calling it the Biden crime bill up until 2015.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.


[23:25:02] COOPER: You looked like you expected that exchange.

BOOKER: Yes, well, his campaign telegraphed a lot of the attacks. And literally, we were having conversations with the ACLU that was there with us, and a pretty significant partner with us in trying to deal with the decades-long problems in the Newark Police Department.

COOPER: They had sued you, though. I mean, the ACLU had sued you.

BOOKER: Absolutely. You know why? Because when we came in, we announced that this was an issue we were going to deal with it. And we started dealing with it.

The ACLU's problem wasn't that we didn't share a goal. They just didn't think we were moving fast enough. And you know what? They were right. And so, we came together and ended up partnering to create what I discussed there, which I'm really proud of which is national, national standard-setting transparency measures that we took on.

The reforms we did in the Newark Police Department, from starting the efforts to get a police civilian review board, I mean, there was so much good stuff we did.

COOPER: Do you stand by everything you did with the police department in Newark?

BOOKER: I not only stand by -- I already said, I wish we moved faster, but we inherited a very bad situation during a very difficult time. A national recession. Rising crime.

We actually started out by announcing we were going to take on this issue of dealing with the police accountability issues, and so I'm very proud of the progress we made. And that doesn't include we reformed the court system.

The first, you know, drug court in New Jersey, the first youth court in New Jersey, veterans court. We had created New Jersey's first ever office, municipal office of re-entry to deal with people coming home. We took on the school to prison pipeline.

Because as Van and I have talked about since we were in law school. Black kids for the same infractions in school as white kids often get out of school suspensions, which means they have higher rates ultimately involving the crime.

We have the most comprehensive system of criminal justice reform that other cities came to learn from what we were doing. And then I went to the Senate and actually passed the bill.

So, the absurdity of what he was saying, it was sort of wild swings. It was -- it was I know that's not coming from the vice president. It's coming from people that filled his head with these things to try to defend himself from me talking about his record or deflect from me talking about his record.

COOPER: I know a bunch of people on the panel want to have some question. John?

KING: I want to go through the timeline here because I think, forgive me, you're painting a slightly overly rosy picture of how it played out. But correct me if I'm wrong. Let's go through it.

You become mayor in 2006. In 2010, the ACLU files a 96-page complaint against the Newark Police Department. So, you've been mayor for four years. Three years later, you're right, they do commend you after they -- after an investigation, after the Justice Department gets involved, but at the beginning it was more contentious, was it not? I know you say you inherited a corrupt police department. I take you

at your word. But at this point, you're mayor for four years. The ACLU is not coming to you saying hey, buddy, they were coming to you saying we have a problem, Mr. Mayor.

BOOKER: Well, let's go through the timeline. I take it one at a time. And you know this. I mean no disrespect to former leaders of my city. But every leader before me going back to the 1950s was indicted and convicted of things.

So, we were taking over a city with a massive reform agenda in the middle of a national recession. And we did announce right away that we were making reforms with the ACLU at the table. Our difference was the speed at which we moved.

And so, when they first brought up this issue, hey, we're going to file this complaint federally because we think we need more federal transparency. I was ticked off.

But literally, as soon as I sat down with the justice -- leader of the Justice Department and said, Cory, this is free consulting for you to get to the same ends, we leaned into it. We didn't wait until the report came out. We actually started working with the Justice Department right away making changes years before the report would even come out.

This was a partnership from the beginning. We had a disagreement on tactics and speed, but actually I'm really proud of the achievements we made while we were --


KING: And again --

COOPER: Let me --

KING: Let me just jump in for one more because he also brought up the stop and frisk issue.

His argument is you were getting complaints from the community so you told the police department be more aggressive. You were responding to complaints from the community. He says that's what he did in the Clinton crime bill days, you know, mayors were complaining, public housing people were complaining, you had a gun crisis, you had a crack crisis, that they were doing what they asked to do, and yes, in hindsight they overshot on a lot of things. Is that apples and apples or that is wrong?

BOOKER: That is not apples and apples. We didn't start stop and frisk in Newark. It's actually just not true. And this, again, was things that have no substantiation in fact whatsoever.

And to create an equivalency, between being, as he said, his words, every crime bill, major and minor since the 1970s through all the way to the 1990s, literally to 2015 he was calling this the Biden crime bill. To make a false equivalency of a mass incarceration from 1980 till now going up 500 percent. We're talking millions of individuals and families affected. To create some kind of equivalency between what was going on in Newark and the reforms we were trying to make, and so this, to me, is why I used very strong words.

This is somebody that by his own admission was designing the system of mass incarceration that, frankly, when I first met Van in law school, these are the kinds of things we were talking about. Three strikes you're out. Incentivizing the buildings of prisons.

[23:30:00] A new prison every 10 days from the time I was in law school until the time I was being mayor built in our nation to incarcerate people in massive amounts. Now this is the thing because we're talking about the past.

Right now in America, there are thousands and thousands of people sitting in jail because of those laws that were passed then. They're sitting in jail now, and we don't seem to have as a party the kind of urgency that we should be putting forward. That's why mine is the boldest plan to liberate people from prison who just don't belong there.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think the vice president gets it, gets what your critique is of what his past actions are?

BOOKER: This is what I don't understand, why not take full responsibility? He did it with the war in Iraq, said I was wrong then. But he is not speaking -- and that's what makes me question him.


BOOKER: I wish he came out and just said just plainly, these are things that were wrong. From three strikes you're out from incentivizing states not to stop the school to prison pipeline, not to deal with more resources for everything from addiction to mental health issues, they incentivized states to change their laws that drove mass incarceration.

Just speak to what happened so that black communities like mine that were devastated by things like this can actually say, OK, you get it. But he's not doing that. In fact, the first time in this campaign that I called him out for something, his response wasn't to say I'm sorry. His response to do what he's doing now, he shifted blames and said, "No, Cory should apologize to me."

And so Anderson, the only thing I'm saying is I love and respect Joe Biden, but you can't talk about the future until you atone for the past and the present. And your plan, this is what ticked me off last week, is I was waiting for this plan coming out a week before the debate. And when I saw the plan, it was simply not enough.

As I said in the debate, you cannot light a house on fire and then come out with a plan for putting out the fires. What he put out was just not enough.

COOPER: We got time for one more question. Van, do you have anything?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, a couple of things. One is I -- I actually liked his plan better than you did. He just didn't seem to know what it was when he was on stage with you. I thought he actually missed some opportunities --

BOOKER: Right.

JONES: -- to come back at you. So, a couple of things I would say. Number one, you were dealing with two problems and not one when you became the mayor of Newark. One was you had a corrupt police department. You also had a murder epidemic. And you were a young mayor -- we knew each other then -- trying to deal with two problems and not one.

I do think that there were people who felt at the time at the community level that you were being "tough on crime" through a police department that you hadn't cleaned up yet. How do you respond to those people now, because I do think that what Mr. King is saying is, didn't you in some ways make the same kind of mistake that Biden did?

I mean, maybe, you know, he did it huge and you did it a little, but how do you respond to those kinds of questions?

BOOKER: I just talk to my record. Van --

JONES: Yeah.

BOOKER: -- first of all, you know I still live in that community.

JONES: Absolutely.

BOOKER: I'm the only person in the United States Senate that lives in a black and brown intercity community below the poverty line. So these folks that we are talking about right now are my neighbors, my friends, my --

JONES: I'm giving you an opportunity to respond to it.

BOOKER: OK. The second thing is we came in. We didn't wait. He said the reason why we have a lot of crime. In fact, we found out stunning data that the majority of the murder victims were people who had been incarcerated before, an average of about 10 times. So the first thing we said was we got to stop locking people up over and over again.

When somebody comes home in our city, we're going to provide jobs. We're going to provide opportunity. We got to stop people from getting caught up in the system in the first place. And so we created job programs of which again became models throughout our state like turning entire city blocks into urban farms --

COOPER: All right. I --

BOOKER: -- to give people work. So you know these are reforms that we were talking about in law school that we actually implemented right off the jump when I was mayor.

COOPER: Who was better in law school?

JONES: He was.

BOOKER: That is not true. He was a legend. He was a legend in our law school.

COOPER: Cory Booker, appreciate it, thanks very much. Coming up next, Senator Kamala Harris joins us. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Night two in Detroit. It was certainly, among other things, a rematch of sorts. Some people can see it that way, between Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden, given what happened in the last debate. Senator Harris joins us now. How did you feel it went on that stage for you?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I felt good about it. It was fast. It was --

COOPER: It feels fast on stage.

HARRIS: It feels fast when you're there. I'm sure for the viewer it went slowly. I feel good. I mean, there is so much to discuss --


HARRIS: -- and there is just not enough time to cover the issues. I would have liked to have had a much longer conversation about the environment. I would love to have a much longer conversation about the economy. You know, there are so many issues --


HARRIS: -- that I think the American people actually want to know where we stand and that we're thinking about them.

COOPER: From the moment the vice president came out on stage, I think the first thing he said to you, it's gotten a lot of pick up and a lot of people talking about it online, I believe the words were, "Go easy on me, kid." I'm wondering how you interpreted that.

HARRIS: That's what he wanted me to do. I didn't really think much about it, to be honest with you.

COOPER: The kid. That's what people -- was that an issue for you at all?


COOPER: The -- did you -- the --

HARRIS: But I'll tell you why.


HARRIS: Because we're both on that stage running for president. So I'm pretty clear about who I am. So nobody's going to define me on that stage.

COOPER: Right.


COOPER: In terms of health care, you've just put out your plan.


COOPER: In past debates, people have raised questions about where you were on whether or not private insurance should be taken away from people.


COOPER: Your plan is essentially kind of a Medicare for All except people can keep their plans if they like them for the first 10 years. Is that correct?

HARRIS: Essentially. There is a 10-year phase in, but what I've done is that -- you know, I have to tell you, Anderson, I've been listening to people. And I said from the first day that I announced my candidacy that I, especially at this phase of the campaign, will listen as much as I talk. And I've been listening to people.

[23:40:01] And they want to know that they have an option to keep a private plan. And I respect that. You know, listen, I knew I was going to take hits for it. I knew it. But I'd much prefer to be relevant at the end of this process than to stick to something that I don't believe is the best option and the best way to go for the vast majority of Americans.

COOPER: Do you think Democrats who are holding on to Medicare for All take away private insurance from everyone? Is that a -- politically, is that a suicidal political move for the Democratic Party?

HARRIS: I mean, I'll leave that to the pundits, but I know what people have told me. I've spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada. People want to know that they have an ability to have an option that is not only the option of government-sponsored health care but also that there is a private option.

So here's what I proposed to do, is to allow the private insurance companies to basically comply with the requirements I'm putting in place for who will be part of our Medicare system. So, for example, it's -- they can no longer be about jacking up the prices around deductibles and co-pays. It will be the case that regardless of whether you have a private Medicare plan or a public Medicare plan, that when you walk into that doctor's office, you're not going to have to lay down a credit card, you lay down your Medicare card.

COOPER: But in your plan, eventually, everyone would be taken off a private -- the private plan that their company currently has.

HARRIS: Yes. But let me -- it's important that I explain that, because I think there was really a misinterpretation of that on the debate stage tonight. Employers right now offer their employees a private plan. I am separating the employer from your health care. So you have the option of signing up for a private plan under Medicare. But it's not going to be through your employer.

COOPER: So if you leave your job, you can take --

HARRIS: That's exactly the point. I can't tell the number of people that I have met of all ages who say they feel stuck in the job they have because they need that health care plan. That should not be the case in America, especially when we talk about the fact that over the next 15 years, up to 40 percent of the jobs that currently exist will no longer exist.

We have to adapt to the changing times, which includes that a lot of people are changing their employer on a much more frequent basis than used to be the case. Used to be the case you come out of school, high school or college, you go work one place and that's where you work until you retire. That is no longer the case in America. And no one should have to worry about losing their job or changing their job because they may not have health care once they make that decision.

COOPER: In terms of the discussion you had with Vice President Biden in the last debate, it came back up. He has not in any way apologized or backtracked from what he says his position was back then.


COOPER: Do you think he should?

HARRIS: Well, we have a disagreement and that's it. I mean, we have a disagreement. I, you know, let's revisit the issue --

COOPER: Because he's not portraying it in -- I mean, he would deny that he is pushing a states' rights argument when, in fact, it seems to me that's what he sounds like he's supporting.

HARRIS: That's certainly what it sounded like on the debate stage last time. I was actually surprised that he said it that way. It's one thing for him to have some justification for what he did.

But to say that essentially that this is a states' rights issue and that the federal government shouldn't intervene, I find to be absolutely, frankly, outrageous because it has been the federal government that we have needed to intervene on civil rights issue.

Be it on issues that relate to race, issues that relate -- you know, voting rights, Civil Rights Act, the Equality Act that I hope to pass. All of that is because the federal government needs to act on civil rights issue --

COOPER: The National Guard had to be called in and, you know --

HARRIS: Yeah, of course. So we have a disagreement, he and I.

COOPER: Some of the toughest critiques or attacks came from Tulsi Gabbard. Just for our viewers who haven't seen it, I just want to play some of that and have you response to that.



REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today. Now, Senator Harris says she's proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she'll be a prosecutor president, but I'm deeply concerned about this record.

There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.


GABBARD: She blocked evidence -- she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep cash --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Thank you, congresswoman.

GABBARD: -- bail system in place that impact poor people in the worst kind of way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Thank you, congresswoman. Senator Harris, your response?


[23:44:57] HARRIS (on camera): As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.

And I am proud of that work. And I am proud of making a decision to not just to give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.


COOPER: Did you -- did you expect that from Tulsi Gabbard? Had you had interaction about that in the past? And how do you think it went?

HARRIS: Well, I mean, listen, I -- this is going to sound immodest, but I'm obviously a top tier candidate, and so I did expect that I would be on the stage and take hits tonight because there are a lot of people that are trying to make the stage for the next debate.

COOPER: Right. For a lot of them, it's do or die.

HARRIS: Well, yeah, especially when people are at zero or one percent or whatever she might be at. And so I did expect that I might take hits tonight.

But, you know, listen, I think that this coming from someone who has been an apologist for an individual, Assad, who has murdered the people of his, you know, of his country like cockroaches, she who has embraced and been an apologist for him in a way that she refuses to call him a war criminal, I can only take what she says in her opinion so seriously. So, you know, I'm prepared to move on.

COOPER: In terms of just being on that stage, the learning curve of it, it's obvious -- you know candidates get better and better and better through this gauntlet.


COOPER: It's not a pleasant gauntlet and it goes on for a long, long time.


COOPER: Do you see yourself the way you were tonight much different than the way you were last debate and that debate the way you were -- I don't know, two months ago? Do you feel you're -- a quickening? Do you feel a comfort level?

HARRIS: Well, certainly there is nothing normal about this process.


HARRIS: And I don't know that there is much in the normal human experience.

COOPER: This feels totally normal to me.

HARRIS: Right, exactly, that will prepare one for this process.

COOPER: I only exist on TV, so --



HARRIS: Exactly, right?


HARRIS: People come up to you and hug you as if you're their brother.

COOPER: Yes, I am their brother.

HARRIS: And you are in a way, virtual brother. So there is obviously nothing normal about the process and so there is a learning curve. There is no question. I'm enjoying - I have to tell you, I don't know what it says about my personality, but I'm really enjoying this process.

I'm enjoying being -- the thing I enjoy most is being out there. You know, the meetings that we take, the town halls, the interactions with people who show up on a Sunday afternoon when they could be doing a thousand other things, right?

When they have priorities, they have responsibilities, and they are there because they love our country. They are there because they are serious people and they want to listen. They're going to evaluate. They ask questions. They challenge you. And I am growing in the process.

COOPER: Do you --

HARRIS: I am. And I do feel very strongly, Anderson. Let me just say, I fully intend to win this election, but for me the metric of our success will also be that at the end of this process we are relevant, and the only way I can ensure that is to make sure I am listening as much if not more than I am talking.

COOPER: If the Democratic Party goes ahead with the message Medicare for All and it's not your plan -- Medicare for All taking away ultimately health insurance from 100 million people, I know that's -- the criticism of that is that it's a republican talking point, and it may be a republican talking point, but how do you answer -- I mean, if that's the push for the Democratic Party, is that a position that you believe? Clearly it's not something you believe in --

HARRIS: Right.

COOPER: Is that -- I mean it's the question I asked before. Is that a death nail for the Democratic Party in this election? Is that something, if the Democratic Party runs, on taking away 100 million people's health insurance? Is that a winning issue?

HARRIS: I mean I'll leave that to the pundits to predict or, you know, opine on. But I --

COOPER: Why isn't it something you are embracing?

HARRIS: Well, I -- I just feel that my plan is just going to be the most relevant plan, and I will tell you the architect of the Affordable Care Act, Kathleen Sebelius, has spoken about my plan as it being something that would be one of the closest to actually achieve Medicare and health care for all people.

Many experts have said that who have reviewed my plan. I'm very proud of my plan because I do believe that it is going to be the most relevant and the most helpful to American families.

COOPER: How did you -- finally, how did you find Vice President Biden on that stage tonight in your discussions with him compared to the last time? Did you -- did you -- did you notice you were a more formidable opponent, the same? Did you have any sense of that?

HARRIS: Well, I mean, the exchanges that come to mind that we had tonight where we have a difference of opinion are on the discussion we had previously.

[23:50:05] COOPER: Right.

HARRIS: The last debate. And health care. And I just simply disagree with his plan because frankly it is not a plan that is going to bring health care to all Americans. By his plan and his -- and the people on his team, by their own definition, almost 10 million Americans will not have health care under his plan.

And in 2019, on the heels of the incredible work of Barack Obama that changed the dynamic completely, in 2019, what people are demanding a change to the health care system of America, that any Democrat would be on that stage and not have a plan that will bring health care to everybody, I just believe is a very -- it's a missed opportunity and it is wrong. There are actually ways to achieve health care for all people.

COOPER: And you can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump?

HARRIS: For sure.

COOPER: You're the one who can do that?

HARRIS: Absolutely. I'm going to tell you why. Because first of all, Donald Trump got elected making a whole lot of promises to people he did not keep. He said he was going to come in and he was going to fight for working families. He was going to fight for farmers and autoworkers.

And as I said tonight, farmers in Iowa are looking at bankruptcy. They've got soybeans rotting in bins. We expect -- many expected hundreds of thousands of autoworkers in Michigan and other states will be out of work by the end of the year. He passed a tax bill that benefits the top one percent and the biggest corporations in America.

Last year, 60 of the biggest corporations in America paid no taxes. Meanwhile, families are struggling every day. In America today, over half of American families, they cannot afford a $400 unexpected expense.


HARRIS: In America today, in 99 percent of the counties, if you're a minimum wage worker, you cannot a one-bedroom apartment. That is why my plan is about a 3:00 a.m. agenda, which is what wakes people up at 3:00 in the morning, and let's deal with all those priorities and fix them.

That is why I am offering that we will change the tax code, to give tax credits to families that make less than $100,000 a year. That is why I am saying I am going to pay teachers their value. That is why I am saying that we are going to pay women equally for equal work. And I can go on and on.

But that's going to speak to American people. This president speaks to the lowest common denominator in terms of issues. He speaks to the issues that are about scaring children. He speaks to issues that are about saying for members of the United States Congress who are serving our country to go back where you came from. He speaks to communities of color and basically says where they live are inhumane and no human should live there.

He does not speak to the best of who we are as a nation, and he needs to leave office because he does not understand the strength of the American president is to use that microphone in a way that is about lifting people up, not beating them down.

COOPER: Senator Harris, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: We are goingt to take a quick break. We will have more ahead. Thank you very much.


COOPER: We're coming up on midnight here in Detroit after another big debate night. I'm here with Chris Cuomo. We are certainly going to be joined with Secretary Julian Castro. Also, Chris, certainly two candidates are getting a lot of buzz tonight, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who we just spoke with. I know you are listening in. What are your thoughts about tonight, Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm listening to your interviews. It's not so easy to be tested. And on the debate stage, you pick your spots and you are looking for things, you plan out with your teams. But it's a little different when you're sitting with the seasoned Anderson Cooper and the other people there that were interviewing Cory Booker. And you got to have your facts straight. You have to know what you're doing.

I think that while both of them had their moments tonight that will please the people who are following them so far, they both have big vulnerabilities and it shines a little bit more light on why you have to look at Biden's performance through a different lens. He had like eight people coming at him tonight. So it's a little different. But it's an important different look for people after the debate to see them there with you. Who cares what I think?

Let me bring in David Chalian, our political director, and Kirsten Powers. So, we were talking about the difference between being tested versus being the tester. Let's start with Booker, OK? Booker was struggling there with them a little bit. King was on him and rightly so. The facts are pretty clear. It is apples to apples. Of course, the '94 crime bill was a much bigger deal than what was going on in Newark. But he was there. He was there for years. The ACLU had to sue. They asked for an investigation. He said they didn't. The Washington Post found him false.

So, it's a little different when you have to defend your own record. The point is everybody got a past if you have been in a position of power, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There's no doubt about that. And with Cory Booker, it's interesting, because there's a parallel to the way Joe Biden was initially handling the criticism of the '94 crime bill as well. Remember, he never wanted to sort of apologize for it but he did offer lines like he attended an MLK event in January and he said, we didn't get everything right, something like that.

Cory Booker, the line is, well, the timing, it could have been better. Instead of sort of the full -- for both of them, the full responsibility of how much authorship or ownership he had around that.

CUOMO: What Booker is asking for from Biden -- he did not give himself about this.

CHALIAN: That's right.

CUOMO: And that is politics. So now, Harris, she has a hard time defending her health care plan.


CUOMO: I don't understand how her plan is Medicare for All. Help me.

POWERS: I can't.

CUOMO: You must.


POWERS: No, I can't. I was very confused tonight watching the debate. It doesn't -- especially comparing it to last night, which was a really substantive meaty debate you had going on between, you know, two different groups of ideological people. You know, you had Bernie and Warren making really their very strong case for Medicare for All.

Tonight, we didn't have that as much. It wasn't really clear what they were arguing about. And I think that the thing about Kamala Harris, I just cannot wait to see her have that debate with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, because I think that they are going to probably shred this proposal, because it has a 10-year time basically for this to roll out.

I mean, this basically means that she will be out of office by the time it actually goes into effect.

CUOMO: Right.