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Kamala Harris Faces Attacks From Rivals During CNN Debate; Officer In Eric Garner Case Could Learn Job Fate Tomorrow; Iowa's Democrats Weigh In On CNN Debate. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But did he just not want to answer that question last night because he has talked in the past about the private advice that he gave to Barack Obama with regard to just one example the Bin Laden raid and he said he was not going to talk about the private advice he gave to Obama when it came to deportations.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, BIDEN'S DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: No, absolutely not. He embraces the Obama record. He's proud to defend it. He wishes frankly more Democrats on that stage would defend it. Again, he believes that at a time when we have a president who is literally ripping migrant children away from their families at the border that Democrats need to be focused on the real opponent here, Donald Trump. And not using this opportunity to attack Barack Obama.

The Obama-Biden legacy is one of progress, of change, of real impact on people's lives. Vice President Biden is always going to defend that on the campaign trail, is always going to make the case for building on the successes that we fought, that were hard fought. I mean let's not forget these battles were tough.

And so he's always going to make the case for building on that legacy and he wholly embraces the president and he always had the president's back. That was another great thing about their relationship. He always had - he always had Barack Obama's back. He thinks that as a Democratic Party we need to be defending him, not attacking him.

BOLDUAN: Kate, thank you so much for being here. We'll see you on the trail.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: We really appreciate it. That from Kate Bedingfield, the communications director for the Biden campaign. We hear from Team Biden.

So, let's -- what does Kamala Harris' campaign think about her performance last night in Detroit? We'll ask them. That's next.


[11:35:10] BOLDUAN: Senator Kamala Harris finished the night on the big debate last night with this message about President Trump.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a predator living in the White House.


And I'm going to tell you something. Donald Trump has predatory nature and predatory instincts. And the thing about predators is this. By their very nature, they prey on people they perceive to be weak. They prey on people they perceive to be vulnerable. They prey on people who are in need of help, often desperate for help. And predators are cowards.

What we need is someone who is going to be on that debate stage with Donald Trump and defeat him by being able to prosecute the case against four more years.


BOLDUAN: But Harris also faced her fair share of attacks from rivals on her health care plan and also her record as a prosecutor. Joining me right now is Ian Sams, national press secretary for the Harris campaign. Ian thanks for being here.


BOLDUAN: How did you think last night went?

SAMS: It went great. And look, I think you just showed kind of the crux of Kamala's entire debate last night. She showed that she's the best candidate to prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump.

Look, this is a president who has ripped families apart at the border, who has betrayed promises that he's made to farmers, to workers, to manufacturers all across this country and who is really just leading not by example but by disaster.

And so, what she said in that closing statement is the same thing she took throughout the entire debate. I'm the one who can take the case straight to him and defeat him in November 2020.

BOLDUAN: I just had Kate Bedingfield on, communications director for the Biden campaign and talking all about the attacks that were coming at Biden last night. She said that she thought that this may have been the most hostile Democratic debate in primary history. Do you agree?

SAMS: Probably not. I've seen some tapes from a long time ago that had some pretty nasty barbs in there. I think people often forget that the 2007 Democratic Primary with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Joe Biden were all very rambunctious. They were lively debates over ideas. You remember the famous you know likeable enough Hillary or the attacks that Hillary would throw at Barack Obama on things including his health care plan that really just - all is a part of a natural process of picking a nominee to lead the party in a general election.

And so, I have no doubt in my mind that when this primary is over, all Democrats will unite behind the nominee. I think it will be Kamala Harris to defeat Donald Trump because we all know that he's our biggest threat, he's the biggest danger to this country, and he's our real opponent.

BOLDUAN: I want to play a moment -- another moment from the debate, Senator Michael Bennet raising his concerns about your "Medicare for All" plan. Listen to this.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to be honest about what's in this plan. It bans employer based insurance and taxes the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion. Do you know how much that is? That is 70 percent of what the government will collect in taxes over the next 10 years.

HARRIS: We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this. You got to stop.


BOLDUAN: And Ian, I'm wondering why are we raising concerns about the plan, you know, about what it means for private insurance and also raising concerns about the cost of your plan. Why is that a Republican talking point?

SAMS: Well not only is it a Republican talking point and you know I have a lot of respect for Senator Bennet. Senator Bennet and Senator Harris are really great colleagues in the Senate together. But I think he might have been listening to the commercial break when the big insurance companies are advertising that same talking point too.


BOLDUAN: Yes, but it's a real concern that's being raised by a fellow Democrat. Why is that a Republican talking point? He made a compelling case of why he has concerns about the "Medicare for All" plan.

SAMS: Look, here's what this plan does. What this plan does is it says look if you have insurance right now through your employer, if you switch jobs, that's going to go into chaos. You're going to have to figure out how am I going to keep my doctor? How am I going to keep my care? I don't know. How is this going to affect myself?

Sometimes people stay in their jobs even if they don't want to stay in their job, even if they want a different job because of continuity of care. What Kamala Harris' plan does, it says let's take that out of the equation. Let's make sure every single American has a choice between two things. One, a public Medicare plan just like we have right now but expand it that every American can have with no co-pays, with no deductibles or if you're a private insurance company maybe the private insurance company that's offering a plan to an employee right now in this country. If you take a plan and you have such a great plan with extensive benefits.

[11:40:01] And you get that plan approved by the Medicare program. It will be offered as a private Medicare plan. So this is exactly what the plan does.

And so, when we say it's a Republican talking point or an insurance company talking point, it's because they are trying to attack a plan that's going to finally get every American covered with insurance at a cost that they can afford and not have to worry about losing care or losing their doctor between jobs. That's what this plan is about.

BOLDUAN: In between jobs. You might be - you might be -- your insurance policy you might be losing your employer based insurance policy when this transition actually goes into fruition. That's where this whole discussion is now centering around. But we'll continue that. But that obviously will happen on the debate stage. We'll continue it going forward. Thanks, Ian.

SAMS: Absolutely. Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, five years after the death of Eric Garner. The New York police officer involved could learn the fate of his job. Details right after this.


[11:45:30] BOLDUAN: The death of Eric Garner five years ago took center stage at the Democratic presidential debate last night. Garner died in July of 2014 while being arrested by New York City Police. And the Trump administration last month announced that they would not be bringing federal charges against the policeman accused of fatally choking Garner. More than once last night protesters in the debate audience interrupted the debate calling for that officer to lose his job. Several of the debate candidates also weighed in.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you know he used an illegal chokehold, that person should be fired. And as -- if I was -- if I was the mayor, I would fire him.

HARRIS: The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice said charges should have been filed. But this United States Department of Justice usurped.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street.


BOLDUAN: Crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz is here. Shimon, you actually have some reporting that there could be movement this whole issue very soon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Very soon. There are indications that tomorrow, we could hear at least the first step here, the process in this process of whether or not this officer Pantaleo will be fired. And tomorrow, the internal judge who -- it's a deputy commissioner who oversaw the hearing, the officer had a hearing, an internal hearing, departmental hearing and we may have first indications about what will happen to this officer. The recommendations from this internal hearing are going to be made tomorrow to his attorney.

And then we'll see what happens. There could be two options here. It's either that internal hearing could result in that the officer gets fired. Or there could be some other kind of punishment.

But I think what's important for folks to understand in all this is that it's completely up to the police commissioner as to what happens here. And of course this is getting a lot of attention now and did take center stage at the debate.

And here's what de Blasio hinting that something might be coming in terms of the status of this officer and here's what he said about that last night.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice and they are going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice. I have confidence in that. In the next 30 days in New York, you know why? Because for the first time, we are not waiting on the federal Justice Department which told the city of New York that we could not proceed because the Justice Department was pursuing their prosecution.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And so, the New York City, the police department has proceeded and that's the first step in what we may hear tomorrow and then we'll see what happens. There's going to be about a two-week period or so perhaps and then we'll learn what the police commissioner will ultimately do. It is expected that the police commissioner is going to follow the recommendations from the hearing. And, of course, everyone is wondering how could this officer not get fired. We'll see what happens.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean de Blasio seemed to be obviously making indication there what he thought - he thought or hoped was going to happen but it was really amazing to see protesters like a candidate facing protesters during a debate. Those were really amazing thing last night and how important this issue really is, especially New York or beyond. Great to see you out here, thank you so much.

Still to come for us the Democratic contenders face off in the key swing state of Michigan last night of course. But voters in the first caucus state, the first in the nation state of Iowa, they were also eagerly watching. So, who stood out? Who fell flat amongst these very important voters? That's next. You're going to hear from them. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:52:40] BOLDUAN: All the action in the Democratic Primary was in the critical swing state of Michigan this week. A state most consider a must-win for any Democratic nominee to win back the White House after losing there to President Trump by just under 11,000 votes in 2016. But before any Democrat can try to win in Michigan, they need to make it through Iowa first and Democrats across the first state to vote. They are eager to hear what the candidates have to say. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, she spent the evening once again with some of these key caucus goers.


BIDEN: I think Democrats are expecting some engagement here, and I expect we'll get it.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And with that it was on.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor.

Voters here in Dubuque, Iowa, comparing this to debate to --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A ping pong match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A family road trip.

YURKEVICH: Some breaking through the noise picked up new fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say Yang has been very impressive. And, you know, it's scary because of what we got with Donald Trump being a businessman an then you say, well, Yang hasn't been in the government and he's a businessman, but I like what he's saying.

YURKEVICH: And others fell flat in voters' eyes.

GILLIBRAND: Mr. Vice president, you didn't answer my question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Gillibrand probably hurt herself on in continuing to go after it when it clearly wasn't going anywhere.

YURKEVICH: Joe Biden taking a lot of incoming heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president.

HARRIS: Vice President Biden.

BOOKER: Mr. Vice president.

DE BLASIO: Vice President Biden.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Vice president. YURKEVICH: His supporters in this room had his back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody can have a good talking point and everybody can have a breakout moment because that's what they're all being coached for. But I want the person who has been steady.

YURKEVICH: But some still questioned his performance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am concerned about certain people like Biden. I found him stammering and not finding his words.

YURKEVICH: A standout for a number of voters here was Cory Booker. Many feeling like he could earn their vote and their donation.

YURKEVICH (on camera): If you had to write a check and make a donation to one of the candidates up there on that stage, who would it be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Booker. Definitely. I just -- I like his message. I like his demeanor. I feel that he's the kind of person that a lot of people will be able to relate to.

[11:55: 04] YURKEVICH (voice-over): In the end still, few say they walked away with a clear winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got about seven or eight that I'm looking at hard, six or seven not so much. And the rest are that's nice, but we can't all be president.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Dubuque, Iowa.


BOLDUAN: Vanessa thanks so much for that. It's so great to hear from them.

Still ahead for us, Joe Biden fresh off the debate stage back on the campaign trail. You're looking right now at Joe Biden meeting with voters in Detroit, Michigan. What is he telling them? What are his thoughts about last night and all the fireworks that took place on the stage? We're going to have more on that after the break.