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Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Attacks from Democratic Rivals at CNN Debate; Jay Inslee: Science Says We Have to Get Off Coal in 10 Years; Stocks Set to Rally After Fed Announces Rate Cut. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:15] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York alongside Poppy who's back from Detroit.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Can you believe we're together?

SCIUTTO: I know.

HARLOW: We are in the same city.

SCIUTTO: Nice to have you back.

HARLOW: It is good to be back. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

Back-to-back Democratic debates now over in Detroit, night two looked more like Motown fight club but with this club everyone is talking and word on the street this morning, there's really no clear-cut winner.

SCIUTTO: And after last night's slug fest, the candidate who took on and doled out a lot of the punches they are immediately hitting the campaign trail. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, all staying in Detroit today.

Let's get right to it. Athena Jones has a recap of the night's most combative moments.

Good morning, Athena. Not quite circular firing squad but definitely a spirited debate among the Democratic candidates.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jim. It certainly was. There were a lot of those combative moments. And as expected frontrunner Joe Biden was the top target on that stage last night. He took fire from all sides on a series of issues from health care to criminal justice to women's rights, to immigration and trade and climate change. As promised the former vice president was more aggressive in fighting back, and he was able to deliver a steadier performance than he did in Miami, if not a spectacular one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): It didn't take long for Senator Kamala Harris and all of the Democratic rivals on stage to pounce on former vice president Joe Biden.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NYC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, you want to be president of the United States, you need to be able to answer the tough questions.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, your argument is not with me, it's with science. And unfortunately your plan is just too late.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to compare records and frankly I'm shocked that you do, I am happy to do that.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, you didn't answer my question.

JONES: But Biden came swinging, too.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have guts enough to say his plan doesn't make sense. You can't beat President Trump with double- talk.

JONES: The former vice president slamming Harris' health care plan bringing back one of his old catchphrases.

BIDEN: So this idea is a bunch of malarkey, what we're talking about here. I don't know what math you do in California, but I tell you, that's a lot of money.

JONES: Harris hitting back.

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.

JONES: After Senator Cory Booker brought up Biden's support of a controversial crime bill in the '90 Biden lashing out.

BIDEN: The bill he talks about is a bill that in my administration we passed. We passed that bill that you added onto. That's the bill in fact you passed. And the fact of the matter is -- secondly there was nothing done for the entire eight years he was mayor. There was nothing done to deal with the police department that was struggling.

BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community you're dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor. You need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms that we've put in place. This isn't about the past, sir. This is about the present right now.

JONES: Former Housing secretary Julian Castro also sparring with Biden on decriminalizing border crossings.

BIDEN: If you cross the border illegally you should be able to be sent back. It's a crime. JULIAN CASTRO (D), 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. Let me begin by telling you --

JONES: Biden wasn't the only one taking jabs from the other contenders. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard slams Senator Harris' record as a prosecutor.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She put over 1500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. And she thought to keep the tax bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

HARRIS: I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of the 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 give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor but actually doing the work.

JONES: Some 2020 hopefuls were tired of talking about the past.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the fourth debate and the second time that we have been debating what people did 50 years ago with busing when our schools are as segregated today as they were 50 years ago. We need a conversation about what's happening now.

JONES: Political outsider Andrew Yang implored his rivals to stop attacking each other and instead take aim at President Trump.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show. It's one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president.

(APPLAUSE)

YANG: We need to be laser focused on solving the real challenges of today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[09:05:03] JONES: The question now is who if anyone will see a meaningful and lasting bump in support and fundraising and in polls from their debate performance. Of course several folks on the stage the last few nights need a big boost to get to qualify for the debate in September. Meanwhile, some of the candidates we saw on stage last night are staying in the area today. Biden has an event at a restaurant this morning. Kamala Harris has a union event this afternoon and Cory Booker has an organizing event -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Athena Jones, great reporting. Thank you so much.

Joining us now to talk about it David Swerdlick, assistant editor of the "Washington Post," Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today," and Patrick Healy, "New York Times" political editor.

Good morning, one and all. This -- Jimmy Kimmel I think said that Biden versus the volcano. This was pile-on last night for sure. But let's take a moment and listen to Julian Castro who I think everyone was talking about Booker and Kamala Harris on Biden but here was Julian Castro's attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: If you cross the border illegally you should be able to be sent back. It's a crime.

CASTRO: First of all, Mr. President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't. Let me begin by telling you -- we have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes, we have boats, we have helicopters, we have security cameras.

DON LEMON, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: Mr. Castro, thank you. Your time is up.

CASTRO: What we need are politicians that actually have some guts on this issue.

LEMON: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He said, I've got guts, and it's gutsy to say this plan isn't going to work, guys. But did the Democrats help themselves last night, Patrick Healy, on this front?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Castro was pretty effective in making Joe Biden look and sound like a figure from the past. But here's the thing, Poppy, we the reporter have been raising constantly early this week asking Democrats about illegal border crossings and you hear Democrats in places like where you see swing county, swing city, places like Wisconsin and Michigan, they're very concerned about Democrats, the Democratic candidates looking like they're promoting something like open borders.

It does worry them, so when Joe Biden, you know, in a pretty prepared line said, you know, it's a crime, you know, we should send these folks back, there was a decent size of the population, Democratic electorate that he was appealing to there.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And that's supported by the polling. I want to read something that Dan Balz wrote in the "Washington Post" this morning that caught my eye. He said that, "By the end of the evening the candidates had done as much to make a case against one another as against the president. Without offering much in the way of an aspirational message or connecting directly with the voters they will need to win the presidential election."

Susan Page, you've watched a couple of presidential elections in your time. Is that a fair criticism? SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Yes, it wasn't

exactly an inspirational evening, but that shouldn't be a surprise at a point that they're battling out who's going to make the next set of debates, who's going to be the nominee. You know, Joe Biden would like to turn every question to an issue of who can best defeat Donald Trump or the contrast with Donald Trump. But we're not at that stage yet in this contest, he's not the nominee yet. And he's got a variety of rivals who want to be in a position to challenge him.

I think one of the surprises for him last night was the way his association with Barack Obama was a double-edged sword and how there was criticism of Obama on both deportation of illegal immigrants and the Affordable Care Act. I think that has been a surprise to Biden who thinks that is really his strongest asset in this race.

HARLOW: Let's talk, David Swerdlick, about Cory Booker. All right, he needed last night, and he brought it. He certainly did, and I wonder -- we have a little bit of sound here just about criminal justice reform and comparing records so listen to what he said to Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community you're dipping into Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: We can have Kool-Aid in a moment, David. But first on a serious note.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

HARLOW: Comparing records here, where is Cory Booker this morning now and where is Joe Biden when it comes to criminal justice in this debate and race for the presidency?

SWERDLICK: Sure. OK, so, Poppy, two ways to look at that. I think those two were the two lines of the night. Senator Booker did himself a lot of good last night. For the first time ever I actually saw someone and I was like, I could see him as president or maybe at least vice president. Never had that impression of him before. I think this propels him at least to the next debate, and I think that that Kool-Aid line was both memorable and brought some humor to an otherwise tense situation.

[09:10:01] The problem for Booker is that Vice President Biden is so far-out in front in the polls and considering that Booker is an African-American candidate, Vice President Biden has such a far lead with African-American voters that I'm not sure that that's going to make a huge, huge difference in the long run. In last week's Monmouth-South Carolina poll, Vice President Biden had 51 percent of black voters. HARLOW: I know.

SWERDLICK: In a state where 6 in 10 Democrats are black. So Booker did well last night I thought. He has a lot of ground to make up and I don't know if he can do it in this space in time.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, interesting about poll is Biden well ahead not just of Booker but also of Kamala Harris.

HARLOW: Yes.

SWERDLICK: Right. That's right.

SCIUTTO: Among African-American voters, who can help swing the election particularly in some states if you look like a Michigan.

HARLOW: For sure.

SCIUTTO: I want to talk about, Patrick, about the Obama administration and Obama administration policies being under attack by many of the candidates. Of course Biden something of a surrogate for that. After the debate Eric Holder, of course the former attorney general under Obama, he tweeted the following. "To my fellow Democrats, be wary of attacking the Obama record, build on it. Expand it. But there is little to be gained for you or the party by attacking a very successful and still popular Democratic president."

I mean, that last part is true. The Obama, you know, presidency is still popular among Democrats who are going to be choosing this nominee. Are they going too far, Democratic candidates, Patrick, by taking aim at the Obama administration?

HEALY: Well, they're appealing very much to the younger Democrats in the party right now who look at the Obama administration's record on immigration, in particular, who look at Obamacare and the people and the conditions that haven't been fully covered, and they see real limitations there. They want a much more vibrant, structural change- driven liberalism from these candidates.

Now, there are a lot of older Democrats, a lot of black Democrats who are key to, you know, whoever is going to win the nomination who still find President Obama very popular, who have very positive memories of the Obama administration. So that's why Joe Biden knows who his voters are right now. He knows that they're older voters, he knows that they're black voters, he knows that they're moderates. And a lot of those folks do very much like President Obama, like that association.

But that's the thing. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have very good debate performances, you know, on the first night.

HARLOW: Yes.

HEALY: And they are people who are clearly -- so when they talk about big structural change it's not just compared to Donald Trump, it's compared to President Obama. And that does resonate with some of those younger voters, voters of color.

HARLOW: Yes. And I will say, Julian Castro did say at one point, you know, talked about Obama's job record and said thank you, President Obama.

But, quickly before we go, Susan Page, what was up with Bill de Blasio's attacks on Joe Biden and others? I guess, of course he can do that but to what end? What is his goal in doing it?

PAGE: Well, he got himself in the debate in a more -- you know, he was more center stage at the debate when he made those attacks. You know, probably doesn't benefit de Blasio to have done that, and it seems unlikely he makes the next set of debates. He crosses the threshold to the next set of debates. On the other hand, it does do some damage to Joe Biden. It probably helps other rivals. And, you know, he was really more frontal in his attacks on Joe Biden.

With Julian Castro and with Cory Booker, you heard them speak and more in sorrow than in anger when they took on Joe Biden. But de Blasio was definitely a New Yorker when he made his criticism.

HARLOW: You think?

(LAUGHTER)

SCIUTTO: Susan Page, you peg us New Yorkers well, David Swerdlick, Patrick Healy, thanks very much.

Still to come this hour, he made an impassioned pitch for facing climate change head on. Governor Jay Inslee, he was going to join us next. Why he says we need to face this crisis today.

And the debates were held at the historic FOX Theater in Detroit. So what did voters in Michigan, a key swing state, think of the candidates? We're going to speak to the congressmen who represents Flint, Michigan, coming up.

HARLOW: Right. Plus the former vice president, as we just talked about, barrage of attacks last night, and also under fire, as we mentioned, President Obama's legacy. Is this really a winning strategy for the Democrats?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, your argument with -- czar with me is with science. And unfortunately your plan is just too late. The science tell us we have to get off coal in 10 years. The time is up, our house is on fire, we have to stop using coal in 10 years, and we need a president to do it or it won't get done. Get off coal, save this country and the planet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: "Save this country and the planet." Washington Governor Jay Inslee making a name for himself on the debate stage last night on his signature issue, that is climate change. Inslee says that he wants the U.S. to get off of coal in 10 years, and claims that his plan is the gold standard.

So, let's discuss all of this now, 2020 presidential candidate and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. Governor, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

INSLEE: Thank you, good morning.

SCIUTTO: You have made climate change your signature issue. It is one that frequently polls in the top three issues for Democratic voters in the 2020 presidential election, but your support remains in the low single digits, and I wonder if you're learning, are you concerned that this is not resonating with Democratic primary voters?

[09:20:00] INSLEE: No, we're just still introducing ourselves to the nation, and we're where Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were when they started as small state governors and we're building. And I think that we did see last night really the first time where we had an injection of climate change into the national discussion.

The public I believe is ready for this, and the reason is that you're seeing cities burn down in the Midwest under water and the everglades is on fire when we were in Miami. So, this is a change in dynamic, it's happening very quickly and the science is so compelling on this, and that's what we talked about last night.

We just don't have a choice. If we want to survive as a civilization as we know it, we have to do certain things, and that means getting off coal, and I'm the only candidate who's really proposed a binding commitment on a way to do that, our nation needs that. And I'm glad we're getting down to it in the Democratic Party. It's our last best hope --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

INSLEE: Look, the Republicans aren't helping at all on this.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, of course, your position on climate change is very different from the sitting President Donald Trump including on coal. Of course, he's promised to bring coal back. You got 10 minutes, 46 seconds of speaking time last night by our account, and only mentioned Trump four times.

And as I watched the debate, the fire was really within the Democratic Party, not against the sitting Republican president. And I wonder if you feel this plays into Donald Trump's hands?

INSLEE: No, I think it was a good debate last night. And look, we know what we're dealing with, and one thing I did say last night is, we do not need and we should not allow white nationalism in the White House. And we Democrats understand the despicable sickness and pathology that is in the White House right now.

A man who wakes up virtually every morning trying to figure out how to divide us, the racism is blatant from Donald Trump, and we all Democrats understand that. We don't need too much to verbiage to make that clear. But I think the debate was useful last night in defining the -- with more clarity where the candidates are.

And I think it was very helpful, frankly in my position to show that I have a uniqueness that I am the candidate who will make fighting the climate change crisis the top priority for the United States. And I am the candidate who has a binding commitment to get off coal, and I'm the candidate --

SCIUTTO: OK --

INSLEE: Who has the experience in my state doing that. So, I think it was a good night.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you on race because you brought it up. You were asked about healing the racial divide in this country last night. You said you have experienced what a lot of people have experienced, notable. But you pivoted, started talking about Mitch McConnell and the Senate here. I wonder what is your plan?

It's one thing to call out the president for that kind of divisive rhetoric, politically-motivated, perhaps, but how do you heal that divide if you were elected president?

INSLEE: Well, number one, stop blowing dog whistles to racism every morning, which is what Donald Trump does. Number two, embed the idea of trying to restore a balance in equity in this country in so many ways. In my climate change plan, we've embedded a whole sort of system of environmental justice.

Look, there's been a big racial disparity in the victims of climate change. Most frequently, it is the front line communities, communities of poverty and color that are the first victims of pollution. Black-Americans breathe about 56 percent more pollution during their lives than other folks in this country.

So, I've embedded throughout my plan a way to bring more equity and to heal the racial disparities using the climate change crisis to form a more perfect union. We can do a lot of good things in this country, at the same time we're saving ourselves including growing 8 million new jobs. This is not just a woe and sorrow story. This is a bright story of economics --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

INSLEE: We birthed in the United States, and I'm excited to bring that message to the country.

SCIUTTO: OK, we talked about climate change, we talked about the race issue. I want to ask you about immigration because this is also an issue at the top of many voters minds. You were asked what your plan would be to deal with migrants.

You said that America should be a welcoming place for migrants, refugees. Border agents have told me and Poppy on this broadcast that many asylum seekers are coming for economic reasons, not -- yes, many are fleeing violence at home, political danger, et cetera. But many are coming for economic opportunity.

And I just wonder how do you keep the asylum system, even the refugee system from being taken advantage of if you're president?

INSLEE: Well, we have judges to sort these facts out. And the problem is we do not have enough judges right now. As a result, we have a humanitarian crisis on the border, it's been made worse by the president's decision to inflict distress on people by separating children from their parents, by having inhumane conditions of people being held at the border.

[09:25:00] We need an asylum system that is timely, it does not create this humanitarian crisis, and it's one of my proposals to have even judges. Look, that's how we have trials, we sort these things out, and give people a chance. That's the law. But listen, one of the things you said, I want to comment on this, the people who -- about 11 million people today this morning are getting up and going to work and paying taxes and getting their kids to school who ought to have a path to citizenship.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

INSLEE: And I'm looking forward to the day when we have a chance to really fix the immigration system in this country in a comprehensive way, and particularly dreamers, by the way.

SCIUTTO: Right --

INSLEE: And we're helping and I've been one of the first states to help our dreamers get a college education. I look forward to that day when we allow these folks who are our neighbors today to become full citizens. And we've got to get down to that work as well.

SCIUTTO: Well, if you as president could get the two parties to sit down and work out a plan, that would be an achievement. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, good to have you on our broadcast this morning --

INSLEE: Good to be on, thank you, you bet --

POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You bet, I'm interested to seeing where he's going to go on the polling on the climate change stuff --

SCIUTTO: It could -- it is --

HARLOW: He didn't say --

SCIUTTO: Maybe, he has made it a signature issue --

HARLOW: For sure --

SCIUTTO: People are concerned about it, but hasn't resonated at least --

HARLOW: I know --

SCIUTTO: With his support.

HARLOW: I know, all right --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

HARLOW: We'll watch that. OK, so two candidates, two nights, 20 candidates, did they win over the voters in the battleground state of Michigan? We'll see. We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street, stocks should see a small rally this morning after the Fed announced it will cut interest rates by a quarter point since the first cut in a decade.

The Central Bank is not expecting further cuts at this point, though.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:30:00]