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Biden Talks to the Press; Biden Talks About Debate; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed About Democratic Debate; Castro and Biden Spar Over Immigration. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] QUESTION: Trump's (INAUDIBLE)? Did they make those changes?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, no, you asked me whether or not Trump plan as offered. That's what I was asked and I don't.

QUESTION: If they make these four changes, will you accept it?

BIDEN: The four changes, as long as I got to make sure that this time they are written in stone. They are written in stone. They must be imposed. Because last time, remember, there was a proposal that said you're going to have to -- this was 20 some years ago -- you're going to have to make sure you provide for alternatives for people who may get caught in the crossfire. That did not happen. It's a different deal.

Now, someone had a question. Yes.

QUESTION: Going back to last night.

BIDEN: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there anything you would do differently about last night's debate?

BIDEN: No. Instead of saying Joe I would have said text. You know I -- I was so focused on -- on making the case for Joe, I said Joe and I gave the number. It was text. So, you know, I would have changed that.

But you guys have printed it 15 times and it's getting great results for us. We're getting a lot of incoming because of it.

QUESTION: Can you -- can you still see --

(CROSS TALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) in states like Michigan, states --

BIDEN: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Black voter turnout is down in black areas of key states like Michigan. You invoke President Obama a lot when you talk about race, but I'm curious how you plan to get Obama-level turnouts in 2020 as a white politician. BIDEN: I have never -- I've run in a state that has the eighth largest

black population in the country. I have never, when I've run, in an off year or on year, gotten any fewer votes than on a non-year and more than any person ever has in Delaware, black or white.

I come from a community, they know my heart, they know me and I think that's why so many are supporting me. I think the black community is no different than any other community in the sense that they are being hurt badly. They're being hurt badly. And they want to know someone -- first of all, are they telling them the truth? Are they laying out straight, exactly what they're going to do, no double talk, what are you going to do?

And then, secondly, do I believe you understand me? Do I believe you know my heart? And I've spent my whole career trying -- I'm not a black man, to state the obvious, but I've gone out of my way to understanding the best I possibly can that -- what the concerns are. And they're legitimate.

Look, you have so many African-American business men and women with great potential. They have to have access to capital. You still -- I started off my political life trying to deal with red lining of banks. It's still not done. Any bank who -- that exists in a black community should have to lend in the black community, period. We should be in a position where we fundamentally change the way in which the education system works. We didn't get a chance to talk about it last night.

I laid out a plan in great detail that now everybody, and I'm glad they're talking about it, now everybody agrees is good. I take and make -- look at what's going on. If you don't have access to education, everything gets backed up. All the dreams get backed up. So that's why I proposed increasing from $15 billion to $45 billion a year for at-risk schools, Title I schools. It has to be spent. And we challenged children, black or white, poor children and black children and Hispanic children, and they can do as well as anybody else given the chance. That's why I insist there be absolutely three, four and five-year-olds having preschool, not a choice.

We know the numbers. There's -- look, you have great universities here. Find me a university in this state that doesn't say that the education departments point out that if you provide three, four and five-year-olds genuine education they don't increase their chances exponentially. Tell me -- find -- what are we arguing about?

And we can pay for all this. We don't have to go out and spend $30 trillion or all these billions and billions of -- what we can do this for, we can do it for another, for example, $35 billion a year just in education. We should make sure that every single solitary child who's qualified and people coming back to school, because they lost their jobs.

Everybody laughs about the -- no, I shouldn't say that. I'm not going to even go there. But the -- but the point is, there is a real concern on the part of people who have jobs now about this fourth industrial revolution. I've been speaking about it for six years. People are deathly afraid. You guys, all you press people, you're in jeopardy. I'm not joking. You're great people. But look what's happening to you. You're in a situation where the digital world is changing. You're -- you have a totally different deal. If you're a print newspaper, hang on, baby. Hang on. So it's changing.

You understand what I'm -- I don't expect you to agree with me. I'm not trying to get the press --

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, Trump won Michigan --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question. Last question.

QUESTION: Given that Trump won Michigan, what do you see being your biggest challenge in this state since he won it last time?

BIDEN: I can win Michigan. They know me. I've worked my whole life. I come from the middle class. I understand it. I know what's going on. And if you notice, I promise you, if I get the nomination, I will win Michigan. I promise you that. I will win Pennsylvania. I will win Ohio. I will win these states that he got 72 extra thousand votes on to give himself an election.

[13:05:16] Look, folks, it's not that there was this great migration to him. It didn't occur. We're talking about 72,500 votes in three states that changed, otherwise Hillary Clinton would be president with a margin over 3 million votes.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, a lot of Democrats are saying --

BIDEN: Let me get some --

QUESTION: Quickly about health care.

BIDEN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you think you drew sharp enough contrasts with the more liberal elements of the Democratic Party? Would you say that your plan is more moderate? And how do you get people to buy into --

BIDEN: No, it's not more moderate. Look, here --

QUESTION: Government healthcare?

BIDEN: Look, for my entire career in the Senate, I was listed never below one of the 25 most liberal people in the United States Senate, OK. I wish you guys would call me a moderate when I was running for re-election back in Delaware. You know, I would have been -- I would have won by 80 percent.

But here's the deal. There's nothing moderate about what Barack did in Obamacare. Nothing. No president had come close. And they tried and they tried and they tried. Seven presidents. This guy did an incredible thing. In addition to that, he covered a hundred million people who had pre-

existing conditions. He allowed kids to stay on their parents' policies until they're 26 years old. He covered 20 million more people. We tried to get the Medicare option added to it. We couldn't get it done. I will get it done this time because the people have realized what it's about. They've figured it out.

But folks --

QUESTION: What about veterans?

BIDEN: But -- what -- what about veterans? Vet -- look, one of the things that my wife and Michelle did and was one of the things we worked on is veterans are being left behind in so many ways. We need, for example, we need another 75,000 psychiatric nurses.

I carry a card with me and I have it with me every day. (INAUDIBLE) the press who covers me. And it has my schedule on it. Every single day I have the staff check with the Defense Department how many people have died. How many people have died or wounded in these wars, because every one of them left behind a community. Every one of those fallen angels left behind a -- and we owe them. It's not 6,870 some, it's 6,678 precisely have died so far.

But here's the thing that's not told. We have 300,000 people coming home from Afghanistan, Iraq and the wars in the Middle East with posttraumatic stress. We have more people committing suicide who are veterans than are getting killed in battle. We need to care for them. That's why when I was a senator, I changed the laws saying that anyone who had ever been exposed to acid rain no longer had to prove the circumstance that they in fact -- their immune system was compromised because of it. Just prove it happened to you and you get coverage.

The same way we -- I did -- when the president agreed when we said anyone who has -- comes back -- so many people coming back with brain injuries because of -- because of the concussion. More amputees and more brain injuries than any war that I'm aware of on a percentage basis.

And here's the deal. Now, guess what, all you have to prove is you're in an area with there was concussion. And if you have something wrong, any brain injury, and you get covered.

We've got to do a lot more.

I've got to go, guys. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, you guys.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, but what Democrats are saying is they want to see a matchup with Elizabeth Warren. How do you stack up against her?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to bring in John King, the anchor of INSIDE POLITICS. And that was a really interesting moment or series of moments there

with Joe Biden. He said he expected these attacks, John. He said that he thought the attacks -- and he reiterated this -- attacks basically on the Obama administration or President Obama's record were bizarre. And he also said he's looking forward to a debate instead of one- minute assertions, though he understood with so many candidates that's just the name of the game right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Interesting on many fronts, Brianna. Let's break them down. Number one, the vice president was in the fight last night, but it was not a commanding debate performance. It was much better than his first debate performance. Round two had its moments. He had some fights over health care. He had some fights over immigration. He had some fights over defending the Obama record and legacy.

But he also had some uneven moments. So what team Biden thinks is number one, they did a pretty good job last night. Probably not a great job, but a pretty good job. And, number two, how do you build on that today? That's why you see him doing an event in Detroit, coming out with passion.

And that's a big point. We can talk about the specifics, Obama, veterans, health care, can he win, can he beat Trump. You can talk about the specifics. Part of the Biden challenge is to show the passion and the vigor, the stamina in this race. And so you see him in the street there taking the questions, forcefully defending President Obama and his relationship with President Obama.

A lot Democrats are intrigued by what happened last night. You had a member of the Obama cabinet, Julian Castro, criticizing President Obama on immigration. Others jumping in.

So Joe Biden thinking, this is the most popular Democrat in the country. He happens to be a popular African-American Democrat. I'm in here, inner city Detroit, let's embrace Barack Obama and have that fight.

[13:10:04] And then making the case that he can beat Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, even listing Ohio, where the president goes tonight. So team Biden on the day after the debate says, we did well enough last night, how can we build on that, and that's why you see the energy today.

KEILAR: And isn't it interesting that when you look at him there in this scrum with reporters, and he's being peppered with questions, I think that you're getting a different Joe Biden and maybe one that those on team Biden would have liked to have seen more of last night. It's something that he seems to excel at more on even -- just there on the street than he does under the lights of the debate stage.

KING: You're absolutely right. And, again, Senator Harris was not as good last night as she was in round one. We are on live television every day. We have our moments. And you have the days where you walk away frustrated. So, you know, sometimes we're not fair and we beat up the politicians, but he was uneven last night. Again, there was some good, strong moments. But, you're right, if he

had been like this all night, we'd be having a different conversation today. We're not having a bad conversation about Joe Biden today, but we'd be having a different, perhaps even more favorable if he had shown this passion and vigor throughout the debate.

Now, it's a different environment. There are ten different candidates on stage. You heard him air his understandable frustration. All of the candidates -- I just got back from Detroit -- all of the candidates are saying this, why one minute, why 30 seconds. Well, we have no choice when you put on a debate because you have ten people on the stage.

But this -- just this engage -- he likes this. I mean he's always liked this. He likes the give and take with reporters. He likes being feisty and mixing it up. And when he's on his game, it helps him.

KEILAR: Sure does.

John King, you are never uneven on air. Thank you so much for breaking all --

KING: That's so not true.

KEILAR: Thanks for breaking all that down with us.

KING: Thank you.

KEILAR: I want to go now to Arlette Saenz. She is at the Biden gaggle.

What did you take away from this, Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brianna, I think that Joe Biden's, once again, defense of President Obama was particularly interesting. Last night Obama, his -- some of the previous policies of his administration and his record were a target for some of those Democrats trying to distinguish themselves from the former vice president.

And when I asked Biden about what it felt like to have that incoming fire coming his way, he flat-out said that he was surprised about the attacks on President Obama's -- or not attacks but some critiques of President Obama's record and believes that he doesn't think that the president has anything that he needs to apologize for.

Joe Biden still very closely wants to tie himself to this president. He finds the fact -- to President Obama. He finds the fact that he selected him as his VP, as one of his biggest credentials, that he's constantly out there touting. I thought Biden also, you know, acknowledged that he had a few slip-ups last night. He talked about that moment where he accidentally said, go to Joe, and then listed a number, even though he meant a text, and he was kind of joking around about that.

And he's actually about to pull out right now of this event and we're going to be seeing him soon in Nevada over the weekend. I think continuing to make his case to voters as he tries to convince people that he is the best candidate to take on President Trump.

KEILAR: All right, Arlette Saenz on the campaign trail there with the former vice president.

Thank you so much.

And I'm joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. You share the same great state of Delaware.

And I wondered as well -- and it was interesting to hear Joe Biden say again today, this seemed to be the focus for him coming out of this debate, that he doesn't understand why his fellow candidates are attacking President Obama's legacy.

From a Democratic standpoint, there are some things that bear criticism or scrutiny when it comes to immigration, when it comes to deportations, but widely president Obama is popular with Democrats. He's feeling that he's in a pretty good space here.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): He is. He had a very strong night last night and I shared his surprise that not just Democrats, but a former cabinet member of the Obama/Biden administration was sharply critiquing Obama's record last night on the debate stage. He is not just a popular politician. Former President Obama is the most popular recent two-term successful president of the United States. I'll remind you something that Joe Biden raised last night. It was the stimulus and the way it was structured that's responsible for saving the American automobile industry. That really helped put Michigan and Detroit back on its feet.

The debate last night was held in Detroit. Joe Biden, because of his personal connection to and enthusiasm for the automobile industry, which was long an anchor of the middle class in Delaware as well, really fought hard to save the auto industry. That's just one of many pieces of the Obama/Biden legacy that could have been talked about positively last night.

I wish we were spending more of our time during these debates focusing on the argument we have to make to middle America. Why should you give us back the keys? Why should you trust a Democrat to run the country through the White House and give us a majority in the Senate again? We have to speak to them, tell them about our positive record and tell them about how we're going to move forward. I thought Joe did a strong job of that last night.

[13:15:00] KEILAR: But why wouldn't former Secretary Julian Castro, yes, a former Obama administration official, but he's also the former mayor of San Antonio, and he hears from people certainly in Texas and around the country, Democrats, who share his views that the Obama administration was not where they should have been on immigration and deportations.

Why shouldn't he take issue with that even as a former secretary? It's very possible that his opinion on these things -- you know, he wasn't in charge, certainly, of -- that wasn't his portfolio. COONS: Sure. It is --

KEILAR: Why couldn't he have this attack?

COONS: It is part of our -- laying out our policy agenda for the future as a party to reconsider, even relitigate where we've been in the past and then talk about where we want to go for the future. And it's certainly the case today that with the humanitarian crisis at the border, largely driven by President Trump's divisive rhetoric and actions and policies around immigration, that it is a very emotional and forceful issue for all of us in the country, but in particular those who are from border states.

But what I wish I'd heard more clearly articulated last night was that President Obama had a profoundly different prioritization in immigration. President Trump is using cruelty to children, the separation of children from their parents, as an intentional piece of immigration policy. President Obama prioritized deporting those who had been convicted of additional violent crimes while in the United States to decide who to deport. I didn't hear enough of that last night, that there was a very different prioritization between these two presidents. I also with that we had --

KEILAR: Are you paging the former vice president? That's what you wish he would have said?

COONS: I wish he had more time. One of the -- one of the challenges of that structure is, you know, these are 30 second or at best one minute answers. And in the back and forth, I think that's part of what was lost was the difference between Obama's priorities and Trump's priorities. What I do think Vice President Biden did very well was to remind folks, we have a common challenge here. All of us agree that we want to expand access to health care. All of us agree that we want to make our country more inclusive and just. All of us agree we want a more humane immigration policy and protest rule of law and secure our border. Let's find ways to do it together and identify how we differ from President Trump.

KEILAR: I -- I'm going to challenge you on that because he did have time to say what you just said and he certainly had a heads up from a month ago that that was going to be an issue because it came up with Senator Harris.

So, he -- yes, he had short amounts of time. But let's talk about another issue that Senator Cory Booker went after him on, that's criminal justice. And this is the former vice president's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's the essence of what my plan in detail lays out. I'm happy to discuss it more in detail if the senator would want to. And so I -- you know, I looked at -- anyway, I -- that's what I think my plan -- I know what my plan does and I think it's not dissimilar to what the senator said we should be working together on getting things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: That answer could have been sharper. The answer on immigration could have been sharper. I wonder, though, do you think it matters? Do you think that voters see the Joe Biden we just saw in the street in Detroit, they know Joe Biden.

COONS: Absolutely.

KEILAR: Does his debate performance matter so much, as much as --

COONS: It matters. It needs to be strong. It needs to be clear. And I do think --

KEILAR: How much of the piece -- how much of the pie is it, I guess, is my point? How much does it matter compared to other things?

COONS: It is not as critical as those of us who watch very closely debate stages and what's said on a debate stage would think it is. A large part of the reason why Joe Biden remains head and shoulders above his competitors in head-to-head against Trump, he is the only Democrat recently polling as beating Trump in Ohio and he has a much stronger lead in all the early primary states. That's because he's going to these states. And folks in those states get to see what your viewers just saw, which is Joe Biden being who he is, opening his heart, talking about people's real concerns, listening to working families. If you haven't been on the trail with Joe, it's a really remarkable experience as he just dives into a diner, goes into a fire hall, talks with a group of national guardsmen. I mean he really loves the American people and deeply believes in us.

And so the tightly scripted, you know, predigested, I'm going to sell some t-shirts and buttons attacks on each other on the debate stage that we saw in Miami and even more last night, I don't think that really speaks to the heart of the American people. What Joe is able to do is connect with us.

We all know that Joe Biden has a deep personal faith. We all know that Joe Biden knows what it's like to get knocked down by life and to get back up again. And we all know that he believes in us as a country and that he'd bring us together as president.

And we can talk about the details of his policy proposals, but I honestly don't think the average voter sits there and like checks off, well, I approve of this, I don't approve of that. He's got very strong and very bold policy proposals. But what I think they love about him is his heart and the way he can connect with all of us.

KEILAR: Senator Chris Coons, thank you so much for coming in studio.

COONS: Thank you.

KEILAR: We appreciate it.

COONS: Absolutely.

KEILAR: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both having trouble explaining their health care plans. The architect of Obamacare, which the former vice president wants to build on, will join us live.

[13:19:58] Also, what's the truth behind the attacks on Kamala Harris and her record as a prosecutor?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro went after Joe Biden's record last night, despite the fact that they both worked for the Obama administration. Castro pointed out a stark difference between himself and the former vice president, especially on immigration.

[13:25:12] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 -- we have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes --

DON LEMON, MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary --

CASTRO: We have boats. We have helicopters. We have security cameras.

LEMON: Secretary Castro, thank you.

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

LEMON: Your time is up.

BIDEN: Julian -- excuse me, the secretary, we sat together in many meetings. I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right, joining me now, A.B. Stoddard and Wajahat Ali.

OK, let's talk about this because Senator Coons, who is -- has endorsed Biden, was just on and he -- he clearly would have liked to hear something different from Biden. He said he would have liked to have heard him saying the Obama administration prioritized people with criminal records and the Trump administration put in place this policy of zero tolerance with -- which led to all of these -- this flood of family separations. We didn't hear that from Joe Biden. And Julian Castro is criticizing also this administration that he was part of.

What did you guys think about this exchange and which approach is better?

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Go first. A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, "REALCLEARPOLITICS": Well, I thought the -- one of the things that Joe Biden did right last night, and he needs a crisper answer on immigration, very important, and he needs to speak to the center of the electorate on immigration, which he was trying to do. The deportations were within the laws that they were dealing with at the time and the former president tried to reform immigration laws and he couldn't work with the Congress. He came up with the Dreamer Act.

But on what you're talking about, which is child separation, yes, he needs to be very clear. President Trump lied about it again last night saying that, oh, I got those cages from Obama and I --

ALI: In 2015.

STODDARD: And I've stopped the separations. There have been 900 children separated from their parents since he stopped the separations. They haven't been stopped. Just as Senator Coons said, they are an intentional deterrent and it's government-sponsored child abuse. So the former vice president needs a more crisp answer on that.

However, I thought the fact that he did not rudely sort of push back against Julian Castro and took the high road on it and said, I just don't remember him bringing these things up in the meetings and the fact that Julian Castro would go there and push back on the Obama administration so hard, as well as others in the -- on the debate stage I thought was really a mistake. The Democratic Party is very upset about it today. And, obviously, a boone to the vice president who's going to talk today, as he already has, about how he just has no idea why his fellow candidates in the race are dumping on President Obama.

ALI: Oh, how I wish Biden did not have such a mediocre, low bar and could actually rise to the high bar, because if -- what he could have done and should have done, I think, is, first and foremost, always attack Trump, number one. Look at this humanitarian crisis created by Donald Trump, the zero tolerance policy. At least the Democrats, compared to Trump, are moderate.

Compared to Obama, at least Obama did DACA. He was actually for the dreamers, right? The Senate failed, so Obama said, I'm going to do executive action, try to give this temporary protected status to dreamers. American is actually pro-dreamers. No one brought up the dreamers last night, right?

Then you say, and this is where I actually am going to pivot here, there is a contingency within the Democratic electorate, and also voters who want actual immigration reform, who say that Obama didn't go far enough. So you can protect Obama's legacy compare and contrast it to Trump but say, we need to go further. And that's where I think if you make that pivot, Castro and anyone else could be like, this is why I believe we should decriminalize. It has caused so many problems. And we need to go forward. Obama had his hands tied. He did what he could do. He could do better.

KEILAR: That's -- and that's basically what Senator Coons was saying, he would have wanted to hear more of that. I think he represents what a number of Democrats who -- especially who support Joe Biden would want to hear.

One of the more contentious moments from the debate last night came when Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard ripped into Senator Kamala Harris on her record as attorney general and district attorney in California. But the jabs continued even after the debate, and this time it was over Gabbard's meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This coming from someone who has been an apologist for an individual, Assad, who has murdered the people of his -- 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 -- I can only take what she says in her opinion so seriously.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will never apologize for doing all that I can to prevent more of my brothers and sisters from being sent into harm's way, to fight counterproductive regime change wars that make our country less safe, that take more lives and they cost taxpayers trillions more dollars. So if that means meeting with a dictator or meeting with an adversary, absolutely, I would do it.

[13:30:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": Bashar al Assad is a murderer and a torturer.