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Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Back On The Campaign Trail After Debates In Michigan; Biden And Harris Battle Over Healthcare Plans; President Trump Just Announced New Tariffs Against China Starting September 1st. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you. Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me. With the bright lights of the debate stage in Detroit firmly in the rearview mirror, at least for another couple of weeks, several of the Democrats who would like to be the next President are back on the campaign trail today.

Beto O'Rourke and Elizabeth Warren are heading west to Nevada and Arizona, respectively; and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, they're all extending their stay in Michigan.

The state went for President Trump in 2016, but just by 10,000 votes, and Democrats are hoping to put in back in the blue column next November.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live in Washington; and Jessica, we listened to the former Vice President speaking out there in Detroit, you know, talking a lot about some of the incoming that he received last night, saying he was actually sort of surprised by it.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke. It was a very energetic Joe Biden that we got in Detroit this afternoon, when he was talking to reporters after a local stop there. And he said, "Look, I expected attacks. What I didn't expect was the degree of criticism." And even further, he didn't expect for those fellow Democrats to go at the record of former President Barack Obama and Obama's administration. That's what really surprised him last night. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope the next debate, we can talk about how we fixed -- our answers to fix the things that Trump has broken, not how Barack Obama made all these mistakes. He didn't. He didn't.

And so -- but what I want to make clear is that this going back 10, 20, 30 years is just -- it is a game -- that's a game to make sure that we handle the Republicans in the election coming.

I stand about woman left or right, I think I represent the party. I think my views are where the vast majority of the Democratic Party are. There's a lot of really, really good people that got elected, who are really pushing the envelope. And it's good, it's healthy to do that.

But the idea that they represent what the Party is today does not comport with who gets elected, it does not comport with how we won last -- in '18. It does not comport.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: And there you hear Joe Biden really again, making the case that if you don't pay attention to Twitter, and kind of that that's one world, but if you talk to the broader party, the broader Democratic electorate that he really represents where they are.

And Brooke, interestingly, right after he said that, he went on to say, "I promise you, if I'm the nominee, I'm going to win Michigan. I promise you I'm going to win Pennsylvania. I promise you I'm going to win Ohio."

BALDWIN: Ohio.

DEAN: Yes. And he says that that's because voters know him. He is a middle class guy, and that where he is and what he represents in terms of viewpoints is right where the majority of Democrats want to be and that maybe some people who voted for Trump last time will vote for a Democrat this time, specifically Joe Biden.

BALDWIN: It would be curious to see how much weight, you know, voters put in his debate performance versus seeing him, you know, speaking out the way he did solo on the street there. Jessica Dean. Thank you.

And since the launch of his campaign, Joe Biden has been very vocal about two things: the need to defeat President Trump and his ties to President Obama.

And last night, Biden's 2020 rivals were just as vocal sharply criticizing him and his work in the Obama White House, as well as his decades in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE I asked the Vice President point blank, 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.

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

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

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've heard you say that we need a realistic plan. Here's what I agree --

BIDEN: No, I can see ...

INSLEE: Here is what I believe. I believe that survival is realistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: All right, let's discuss. With me Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former Communications Director for John Edwards; Joel Payne was the senior aide for Hillary for America Campaign in 2016, and Natalie Andrews is a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."

So welcome, welcome to all of you. And Chris, you up first, just on this. I mean, obviously, with all the scrutiny of the former President Obama's record, it almost seems like the man is on the ballot, right, in 2020? But we know that Joe Biden is running on that record as proof of why he should be the next Commander-in-Chief, so do you think it is fair game?

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it is fair game to question anyone's positions or record to an extent. Listen, I think if you want to be really honest, the last two -- that debate last night was not our Democratic Party's finest hour.

[14:05:01] KOFINIS: I think we just spend way too much time attacking one another. The candidates -- I don't think there was a single candidate out there that really articulated a clear vision about where they wanted to take the country. That back and forth --

BALDWIN: So, you'd agree with Cory Booker -- Cory Booker was basically like, "Look at us. Look at us and how we are squabbling."

KOFINIS: I mean, well, you know, I think the back and forth will get like, you know Twitter hits and will get coverage on news. But I will tell you having talked to a lot of voters, that stuff does not move them.

What they want to hear are ideas and positions that are actually going to address their concerns in their lives. And I think we spend a lot of time dissecting failures in policy from the past. You know, dissecting one's position, but not really articulating what their position was about how they're going to solve the big problems. And I think that was the mistake.

BALDWIN: No, you make a fair point. I want to ask about, you know, what visions of this country were proposed last night, but on the point about all these Obama critiques, Natalie, you know, how do those critiques play with voters who are obviously still very fond of Brock Obama? Could it alienate them and reinforce support for Joe Biden?

NATALIE ANDREWS, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It is surprising because Barack Obama, especially after he has left office has really high approval rating. And so to see Obama's record be critiqued, but that's what they have to tie Joe Biden to.

And I think these two debates that we saw last night, really showed that these candidates are very aware. There's a debate deadline coming up where they could be cut, and they have to attack the top guy, and they're going to go after his record to do it.

BALDWIN: Joel, you were tweeting, let me just read one of your tweets, "Biden struggles when challenged, and that at some point that that will eat away at the veneer of electability." I mean, Natalie is right. They'll all be up on another stage, maybe a few fewer, you know, candidates there. But that's in a couple of weeks, potentially on stage with Senator Elizabeth Warren and so on that note, do you think team Biden should be a little nervous?

JOEL PAYNE, FORMER SENIOR AIDE, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: I think they should feel like they maintained the status quo last night. I don't think there were any game changing moments.

BALDWIN: But looking ahead with Elizabeth Warren on the stage -- should he be concerned?

PAYNE: They should absolutely be concerned. But again, this idea of electability is built on kind of the pundit class thought that Joe Biden is the only Democrat that can win against Donald Trump, and it's actually an infected voters a bit, right?

BALDWIN: How do you mean?

PAYNE: Voters have kind of taken on the role of pundits, because voters are saying, "Well, my friends and neighbors are going to want to vote for someone like Joe Biden, because he is steady, trusty Uncle Joe." Right?

And I think that voters are behaving like pundits. And so because of that, they have been kind of convinced that Joe Biden is the electability candidate.

Now, that might very well be true.

BALDWIN: But the voters can think for themselves. I think they are more than that, right?

PAYNE: They do, but you know, and that may very well be true. Joe Biden might be the best candidate. But that's what the Biden case is. The Biden case is basically, I am the Obama legacy protector. I am the security blanket for mainstream Democrats, and I'm the guy that can beat Donald Trump.

I think he has to show better than he did last night if he is going to continue to be the guy that can beat Donald Trump. BALDWIN: On your point, and you mentioned status quo, Chris, this is

to you. "The New York Times" analysis today, titled "Joe Biden did fine, and that may have been enough." That's how they put it. This is one part of it, quote, "One month after a wobbly debate performance that reinforced the perceived weaknesses of the ostensible front runner, Biden settled behind his center stage lectern on Wednesday night and supplied some answers. He is still old, he is still nostalgic, and he is still the front runner until someone can prove otherwise."

So Chris, you know, Biden survived, basically, but is just surviving enough for the long road ahead?

KOFINIS: You know, I mean, I have a lot of fondness for the Vice President. I really do think he is a great guy and was a great Vice President and I think a great Senator. I think that the challenge he faces right now is there is a real fight within the Democratic Party about what direction it wants to go. And that is, I think, a fair and substantive debate.

BALDWIN: Which is all playing out very publicly.

KOFINIS: Absolutely. And it's a fair and it's a substantive debate about difficult policy issues and challenges the country is facing.

I think that the President -- I'm sorry, the Vice President has got to, I think go a little bit further in articulating that vision, you know, stop worrying so much about being attacked about his past positions. I think, he kind of fell into this trap.

But you know, this notion of being the front runner, and somehow you know, people look at the polls right now, and they're like, you know, he is up by 10 to 12 points. I can tell you for a fact. You know, based on the research we have done, it is built on hot air. Not one candidate -- all candidates.

Because the reality is what we see in our polling is about 77 percent of Democrats say that they're likely to change their minds. It's not surprising, it's really early.

My point is, there's a lot of instability in this race. We've seen this play out and other races. You know, the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton is a perfect example.

[14:10:08] KOFINIS: So, this notion that anyone is a front runner, I think is built on a myth.

PAYNE: Brooke, Brooke, you know what last night reminded me? And personally, I actually worked on the Edwards campaign in 2008, and it reminded me of those debates where all of the other candidates, particularly Edwards and Obama, somewhat teamed up on Hillary Clinton.

And in some cases that really worked frankly to then Senator Obama's advantage, but when it got later in the race, it actually kind of backfired. And I think there's a way that Biden has to -- as Chris was talking

about -- project beyond the shots that people are taking. Talk values, talk vision, talk above the field. Do something that by the way, Elizabeth Warren does exceptionally, which is that she focuses on voters.

BALDWIN: Did we get vision last night? Last question. Did we get vision?

PAYNE: I don't think so.

BALDWIN: No? No? Natalie, did we get vision?

KOFINIS: No.

ANDREWS: I don't think so. I think they were just so in the weeds that we didn't get it clear fundamental things of what they want to do.

BALDWIN: Yes. It will be whittled down. Who knows how many will make it. Still a handful have so far for September, we will continue the conversations, guys. Thank you so, so much. Still so much to discuss -- healthcare as one of the huge issues and I know a lot priority for so many of you, really at the heart of this Democratic debate.

It's so many of the candidates to Natalie's point, they're struggling to explain their own plans.

Plus, Senator Kamala Harris under attack for her work as California's top prosecutor. We will take a closer look for you at her record, her past.

And breaking news this afternoon on trade talks with China, President Trump announcing new tariffs starting September 1st and the Dow look at that, goes red. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:16:33] BALDWIN: We are now a couple more Democratic debates into this whole primary process. Did you have any idea where the candidates stand on healthcare? Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to expand Obamacare with massive subsidies to make coverage cheaper and create a new public option. He says so you can keep your private health insurance.

On the other end of this whole spectrum, you have Senator Bernie Sanders offering up Medicare-for-All. He would eliminate private insurance over a four-year period except for elective procedures ala cosmetic surgery.

Senator Kamala Harris offers a hybrid Medicare-for-All with keeping a role for private insurance companies. She also says she wants a 10- year phase in which led to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: The senators had several plans so far. And anytime someone

tells you're going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years.

If you notice, there's no talk about the fact that the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer based insurance.

HARRIS: Under our plan, we will ensure that everyone has access to healthcare. Your plan, by contrast, leaves out almost 10 million Americans. So, I think that you should really think about what you're saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: All right, let's go back here. Guys, were talking vision a second ago. So, let's be specific on healthcare. Chris, you know, campaign communications -- are any of these candidates clearly, effectively articulating his or her healthcare vision at this point?

KOFINIS: Not clearly enough. I mean, clearly there's obviously two debates, right? The one debate, obviously, is the Medicare-for-All debate, and the other debate is you kind of expand and build on Obamacare.

BALDWIN: And then there's a little wiggle room in between, by the weay.

KOFINIS: It's a fair debate. Yes, and there's a little wiggle room in between.

BALDWIN: Yes.

KOFINIS: You know -- and it's a completely fair debate. Here's I think the challenge that the party faces. The reality is, the number one issue, and we saw this play out in the 2018 midterm elections, the number one issue for American voters, Republicans, Democrats, independents, is healthcare costs. It's healthcare, the affordability of healthcare.

Second big issue, and this is particularly of importance, I would say for Democrats is, you know, the folks that are uninsured, the lack of coverage.

I think what's not being clearly articulated is, you know, how are you going to be able to essentially do both? And you have to do both in a way that is cost effective over the long term. Because what you don't want to do, and I will tell you this just from a from a strategic perspective, from you know, if you try to run in a general election, and you scare a hundred million voters who are worried they're going to lose their insurance they get through their employer, that's going to create a problem.

BALDWIN: They are not going to elect you.

KOFINIS: Yes, so we've got to do a much better job of not kind of feeding into this Republican trap, that somehow you're going to lose your healthcare, which is what the Republicans tried to do in the last election, you know, against Obama.

So this is, I think, something we got to be much more effective about.

BALDWIN: What about Senator Harris specifically because she, you know, she zigs and zags and said X and then pulled back to Y and then finally, you know, just before our debates, you know, put out her plan on healthcare, and she was attacked for it last night.

And Joel, I know you were briefed by someone from her campaign. I know she said last night that she has been listening, that's why it's taken her a while. But did you think she hit it out of the park last night on her plans or were you left a little confused?

PAYNE: I think Chris is right. I think it was all muddled. I think it was just a muddled discussion, which by the way, isn't the end of the world.

I mean, look, the Democratic primary process is a laboratory. And the last time by the way, there was you know transformational change in the healthcare system, it started in the Democratic primary process. And it was a decade ago again in that 2008 --

[14:20:15] BALDWIN: And that was a little messy.

PAYNE: That was messy, 2008, Obama was pushed on healthcare by the John Edwards's of the world and by some of those more progressive in the race, and that ended up forcing Obama into a more progressive position on healthcare.

So these things are messy, but you know, talking about Harris specifically, I think her plan was designed to be kind of just to the left of Biden, to the right of Sanders almost going right up the middle, you know, really being that compromised position.

She still has got some explaining to do, but her releasing that plan this week, kind of made her the center of attention, and really took the pressure off of Biden during that healthcare portion of the debate. It made a debate about Harris and healthcare, as opposed to Biden and healthcare, which was interesting.

BALDWIN: He got a break for a second. But you know, as we mentioned a second ago, in a couple of weeks, many of them could very well be all on that same stage.

And when you look at the Bernie Sanders and the Elizabeth Warren's of the world, I mean, they can recite their healthcare and plans backwards, upside down in their sleep, you know, and then you have as you guys were articulating the muddling of Biden and Harris and their policies.

So Natalie, at the end of the day, what does this come down to for the voters?

ANDREWS: These candidates really needs to be able to articulate as to what Chris said, how they're going to lower costs, and they need to be able to explain their healthcare plans in the debate format, which I think maybe what they're running into.

Kamala Harris can release a plan of a detailed healthcare, but when she is on the debate stage, she also needs to be able to talk about it in a way that a voter who hasn't read every detail of it can understand it and be attracted and want to learn more.

BALDWIN: She also says -- Senator Harris says she is going to tax Wall Street and those earning more than $100,000.00 a year to fund her plan. Chris, can she really pay for this without taxing the middle class?

KOFINIS: You know, that I think is the question that still needs to be answered more effectively. And I mean here's I think the challenge --

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Warren even had a -- sorry, Elizabeth Warren, the night before, she dodged that question.

KOFINIS: Yes, I mean, I think this is the challenge I think that you know, all Democrats on that stage, you know, face. It is great to be on there and to promise and to propose big ideas, big policy solutions to really persistent and terrible problems that affect tens of millions of people.

But here's the cruel reality of public policy, you've got to pay for it. And you've got to come up with the money somehow. You can tax companies, you can tax individuals, but there's only a certain finite amount of money.

And when you start adding up all of these policies, it becomes a challenge, and I think we have just got to be very sensitive and careful about over promising and playing again, into this Republican trap.

There's nothing wrong with being I think, diligent and focused about what you propose, but also making sure it's in the realm of fiscal reality.

BALDWIN: Right. Reality.

PAYNE: Brooke, really, really quickly. Brooke, no sorry, go ahead.

BALDWIN: So, Natalie -- until we meet again, my friend, Mr. Payne, thank you very much. We're going to bounce.

I want to move on Andrew Yang has everyone talking about his plan to give every American adult $1,000.00 a month, but how exactly would that work?

Plus the President just escalated his trade war with China. The Dow now, you see the -- all the way from the green - bam. Down to the red. It is dropping. Hear the details. Analysis coming up next on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:28:04] BALDWIN: Here's the breaking news on the economy this afternoon. President Trump just announced new tariffs against China starting September 1. The President tweeting his plan to impose, quote, "a small additional tariff of 10 percent on the remaining $300 billion of goods and products coming from China into the U.S."

And that announcement has sent the Dow down into negative territory. CNN political commentator Catherine Rampell is a columnist with "The Washington Post." And this is -- you know this better than anyone who sits on this set. So, let me just ask you, you know how would this at all help any sort of situation or conversations we're having with China or our own economy?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems unlikely to help either at this point. We have already unleashed several rounds of tariffs on China. So far, it does not seem to have materially improved our negotiating position with China. We have an election coming up, they do not, right, by definition.

So, they can, even if it's painful them, they can withstand the pain a little bit longer.

BALDWIN: Yes.

RAMPELL: In terms of its effect on the economy, the tariffs that Trump has already implemented have basically wiped out completely the effect of his tax cuts, which were hopefully in his mind anyway, going to stimulate the economy going into --

BALDWIN: So, it's been neutralized.

RAMPELL: That's been neutralized. This will weigh on it even further. Trump, as you may recall had threatened to impose these additional tariffs on China several months ago. He backed down, presumably for a couple of reasons. One was maybe he thought that there was a deal to be had with China. And so he decided to have a ceasefire, but also because there was a lot of pushback from the business community.

And that's why you're seeing the Dow dropping right now, right? That these kinds of tariffs are not paid by China. They're being paid by U.S. consumers and they're being paid in the form of lost business.

There are a lot of American companies who are going to lose out on business as a result not only of the tariffs that have already been imposed, but with this latest round.

BALDWIN: But what is today? August 1st.

RAMPELL: Right.

BALDWIN: So don't isn't this give him an entire four weeks like this could be the threat, and then we felt we cover it and then he says, "Ah, just kidding. No tariff for you."

RAMPELL: Well, yes, and we saw that happen ...

[14:30:00]