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Joe Biden Pushes Back During Democratic Debate; Families of American Teen Suspects Arrive in Rome. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:00] SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am happy to do that.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats piling on Joe Biden during debate number two in Detroit.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what math you do in New York, I don't know what math you do in California, but I'll tell you, that's a lot of money.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The frontrunner did fight back with a more spirited debate performance than last time.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: Always good to see you this early, Christine. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs. We're 30 minutes past the hour here in New York. And coming into the second CNN debate in Detroit Joe Biden carried twin burdens.

The former Vice President was both the frontrunner with a target on his back and at the same time his unsteady performance in the first debate in June, it raised doubts about whether he had the toughness and the vigor to defeat Donald Trump. That meant Biden's wide lead in the polls was on the line last night as he took fire from nearly every one of his rivals.


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. BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, you can't have it both ways. You invoke

President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.

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

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

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.


ROMANS: Last night Joe Biden fought back. As he promised after the first debate, Biden was a little less polite in the second. He fended off every attack but was especially passionate defending Obamacare. He criticized Medicare for All citing disruption of health care delivery and high cost to taxpayers.


DE BLASIO: 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.

BOOKER: 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.

HARRIS: Your plan, by contrast, leaves out almost 10 million Americans so I think that you should really think about what you're saying.

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

CASTRO: 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.


SANCHEZ: Senator Cory Booker did have an impressive night. He leveled most of his attacks on Joe Biden with Booker saying that Biden can't have it both ways on his record with former President Obama after Biden said that discussions he and Obama had on immigrant deportations were private. Booker also went after Biden over his 1994 crime bill.

BOOKER: 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 because all of the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bills that you were -- frankly to correct you, Mr. Biden, you were bragging calling it the Biden crime bill up to 2016.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: Thank -- thank you, Senator.


SANCHEZ: But it was -- according to Twitter, it was an exchange involving Kool-Aid moments later that was the top tweeted moment of the night. Watch.


BIDEN: There was nothing done for the entire eight years he was mayor, there is nothing done to deal with the police department that was corrupt. Why did you announce in the first day a zero tolerance policy of stop and frisk and hire Rudy Giuliani's guy in 2007 when I was trying to get rid of the crack cocaine?

BOOKER: Oh, 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 don't --


BOOKER: You need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms that we put in place.


ROMANS: New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand provided one of the evening's most dramatic moments when she in effect accused Joe Biden of being sexist. Gillibrand asked Biden to clarify what he meant in an op-ed he wrote about childcare tax credits in 1981 when he was a senator.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But, Mr. Vice President, you didn't answer my question. What did you mean when you said when a woman works outside the home it's resulting in, quote, "the deterioration of family"?

BIDEN: No, when I --

GILLIBRAND: And that we are avoiding -- these are quotes. It was the title of the op-ed.


GILLIBRAND: And that just causes concern for me because we know America's women are working. Four out of 10 moms have to work. They are the primary or sole wage earners. They actually have to put food on the table. Eight out of 10 moms are working today. Most women have to work to provide for their kids. Many women want to be working to provide for their communities and help people.

DANA BASH, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator. Let the Vice President respond now. Thank you.

GILLIBRAND: So either you don't believe it today or what did you mean when you said it then?

BIDEN: In the very beginning my deceased wife worked when we had children. My present wife has worked all the way through and raising our children. The fact of the matter is, the situation is one that I don't know what's happened.

[04:35:04] I wrote the Violence Against Women Act. Lily Ledbetter. I was deeply involved in making sure the equal pay amendments. I was deeply involved in all these things. I came up with the it's on us proposal to see to it that women were treated more decently on college campuses.

You came to Syracuse University with me and said it was wonderful, I'm passionate about the concern making sure women are treated equally. I don't know what's happened except that you're now running for president.

GILLIBRAND: So I understand --


GILLIBRAND: Mr. Vice President -- Mr. Vice President, I respect you deeply. I respect you deeply, but those words are very specific. You said women working outside the home would lead to the deterioration of family. My grandmother worked outside the home.

BIDEN: So --

GILLIBRAND: My mother worked outside the home. And --

BASH: Thank you, Senator Gillibrand.

GILLIBRAND: And so -- well, he has either --

BASH: I want to bring Senator Harris into this conversation.

GILLIBRAND: Either he no longer believes it -- I mean, I just think he needs to --

BIDEN: I never believed it.


SANCHEZ: All right. Gillibrand's camp tweeted out a photo of Biden's op-ed from 38 years ago. The headline read, "Congress is subsidizing deterioration of family." But the quotes, the quotes Gillibrand used are not specifically about mothers. A note that Gillibrand also tweeted this in 2016 along with a selfie, "Thank you, VP Biden, for your unwavering commitment to combatting violence against women." SANCHEZ: More than for just about any other candidate, it was a

breakthrough night for Tulsi Gabbard. The congresswoman from Hawaii has been hovering between 1 percent and an asterisk in most polls, but last night she emerged from the pack with a performance that was at times deeply personal, at times confrontational. Watch this fierce exchange with Kamala Harris who is a former California prosecutor and state attorney general.


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. She blocked evidence --


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

TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.

GABBARD: 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.


SANCHEZ: Some tense moments there.

ROMANS: I will say so. OK, let's bring in CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood live from Washington.

Good morning. So how did Joe Biden do? The frontrunner obviously with a target on his back. How do you think he did in defending himself from these attacks?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Boris and Christine. And former Vice President Joe Biden did do better last night certainly than he did in the first debate. His campaign signaled that he was prepared to fight. He did show more fighting in this debate, but this could really expose what could be one of his fundamental weaknesses throughout this primary which is the fact that he does have such a long record stretching back decades. Things were a lot different in the '70s, '80s, '90s when Joe Biden was active in public life longer than most of the other candidates running, and because of that he is bound to have said things, taken votes, taken positions that could be controversial through the lens of today's Democratic Party.


WESTWOOD: And that's going to be one of his fundamental weaknesses. And it shows the pitfalls of frontrunner status is that everyone is going to come after him and it's just really Biden versus everyone else on that stage.

ROMANS: Boris and I were talking about that in the break, which is like, look, when you look at anything with 2019 eyes from the 1980s, it's a very different kind of lens.

SANCHEZ: It's tough then.

ROMANS: And he has such a record that you can look at him in today's eyes on just about any issue.

SANCHEZ: It's also going to get tougher for him going forward because there are going to be fewer candidates on that stage, all of them sharper, so he's going to have a lot more time to be exposed to attacks.


SANCHEZ: Sarah, I wanted to ask you about something that the "Washington Post" put on their front page today. Health care is the head of the agenda. Much of these two debates centered around Medicare for All and these candidates really seeking out where they distinguish themselves on that issue.

As far as President Trump goes, though, you know, I understand that in these debates you kind of have to focus on moving the activists and getting the people in the party engaged, but did you think that anything President Trump watched last night should concern him from a perspective that one of these candidates is really gathering steam, is really gathering enthusiasm within the Democratic Party and outside of it?

WESTWOOD: Well, we know from reporting that President Trump has been fixated on Vice President Joe Biden as a potential running mate. He's launched a lot of attacks on Senator Elizabeth Warren who has been gaining more and more momentum. And we have heard that within his campaign he's been getting more concerns about Senator Kamala Harris as a potentially serious threat to his re-election prospects where she could win the nomination. And Harris did a really good job last night.

[04:40:02] She was able to fend off attacks, more attacks from the other candidates on that stage then she had that breakout moment at the Miami debates and really entered the top tier. She was able to defend Medicare for All type plant against attacks that it was too moderate and against attacks that it was too liberal. She was taking it from both sides.

Biden accusing her of, you know, creating a plan that had too high of a cost, that could be too liberal and other candidates attacking it for not going far enough because it did preserve the private insurance industry. So Harris was able to really show that she could take hits from both sides. That could be troubling so the Trump campaign were starting to notice her as a potential threat.

ROMANS: Yes. And Joe Biden really defending Obamacare and saying there are ways to fix Obamacare. Joe Biden also started defending TPP. He didn't say he would join it, that trade policy.

SANCHEZ: Right. Renegotiate it.

ROMANS: Renegotiate it. So he's not stepping away really from the record of the last eight years where others are really sort of attacking where we've come from. Kamala Harris, by the way, the second most Googled candidate -- searched candidate according to Google Trends. Tulsi Gabbard was number one. I think she had a standout performance last night, and she needed to.

WESTWOOD: That's right. She is one of a handful of candidates from the two debates that we saw this week that could very well not make it to the stage in September. That's when we'll start to see the thinning of the herd a little bit so to speak because the polling and fundraising requirements are going to get more stringent as these debates wear on. So she is someone who needed one of those breakout moments.

Another one who did have a breakout moment who has sort of languished at the bottom of the polling field was Senator Cory Booker. He was able to land some clean hits specifically on former Vice President Joe Biden. And Julian Castro did have a really interesting exchange with Joe Biden when it came to immigration. Biden was fending off criticism of the fact that the Obama administration did engage in so many deportations. That could be a weakness for Biden. And Julian Castro also a member of the Obama administration was sort of able to evade that same criticism, turning it back on Biden. So we did see some breakout moments. Unclear, though, if that'll be enough to get them on that debate stage.

ROMANS: I think people forget -- some people forget that there are immigrant rights advocates who called President Obama the deporter-in- chief.

SANCHEZ: Deporter-in-chief, yes.

ROMANS: Because they did not like the pace of deportations and that administration believed that, you know, you had to really clean up the backlog of people with deportation orders before you could, you know, start to really talk about changing immigration laws in general. So this is -- immigration will be an ugly debate in the coming months.

SANCHEZ: Front and center.

Sarah Westwood, we are out of time. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

WESTWOOD: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. We are hearing from the father of one of the American teenagers accused of killing a police officer in Italy. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:46:46] ROMANS: The families of two American teenagers accused of killing a police officer in Italy have arrived in Rome. Representatives from the U.S. embassy has already spoken to one of the teens, 18-year-old Gabriel Hjorth. And on Wednesday Italian investigators conducted a forensic analysis on the hotel room where Hjorth and 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder were arrested.

Melissa Bell live from Rome with the latest developments. Now we're hearing from the families. I mean, all of this sort of an attempt to buy drugs that went wrong. A lot of conflicting information. What are the parents saying?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christine. A lot of conflicting information, and that is really at the heart of the headlines that we're seeing here in the Italian press this morning. A lot of questions in particular about the prosecutor's case against these boys and what the Italian papers say are clear holes within it. Things like, for instance, precisely, what cops were on duty that night. Why they were where they were. The question about why the policeman who was tragically killed in the early hours of -- last Friday morning was not carrying a gun at the time when he accosted these two young American men.

They of course remain for the time being inside this prison here, Christine. You can imagine the heartache for the families involved. The fathers of both teens are now in Rome. We managed to speak at first yesterday to the father of Gabe Natale-Hjorth. This is what he had to say to CNN just after he'd seen his son and what he described as a very emotional meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was distraught by what happened. I cannot come to terms with it. We are deeply upset by his predicament while at the same time fully convinced of his innocence.


BELL: Now he insists that his son was not even aware that the other teen, Finnegan Elder, had been carrying a knife or indeed that he used it in the scuffle with those two police officers that ended tragically with the death of one of them. So really clearing his son's name, but of course for the fathers, for the families involved, we understand that the rest of the families are also on their way to Rome now. There are so many questions. And I think for the wider public as well, because, Christine, what we've had so far is really the Italian prosecutor's version of events of what happened. We've heard very little from the lawyers of either of the American teens so far.

ROMANS: Fact not in dispute, an Italian police officer is dead. His new wife grieving. He has been laid to rest and a lot of questions still here.

Melissa Bell, thank you so much for that. SANCHEZ: An explosion and fire at an ExxonMobil plant in Bay Town,

Texas, no longer poses a threat this morning. City officials lifted an advisory after detecting no levels of concern for air quality. 66 employees and contractors received medical treatment after the blast on Wednesday morning. ExxonMobil described the facility as one of the largest refining in petrochemical complexes in the world. It's located 25 miles east of Houston and the cause of the explosion still unknown.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Taking a look around the world. You can see Asian markets close mixed really. European markets also closing with very little direction here. On the trade front, talks between the U.S. and China ended Wednesday, you know, without really any sign of progress. Both sides agreed to meet again in September.

[04:50:02] On Wall Street you got futures right now leaning, well, I would call that, absolutely directionless. But that's a little bit of an improvement after yesterday when markets took a bit of a hit after Jerome Powell, the Fed chief, suggested the Fed's rate cut was not the start of a new trend. The Dow fell 1.2 percent. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed lower as well.

Look, I really need to give you the perspective here because this has been an amazing stock market run. 1 percent is not much at all. From Trump's inauguration to the market close yesterday, we'll keep these numbers, update them every month. The S&P 500 is up 31 percent.

All right. The Senate is expected to vote on the Trump-approved budget today. It's expected to pass. But many Republican senators are keeping their voting plans close to the vest. It helps to being able to vote no but making sure the legislation passes. According to a source close to the process, President Trump and administration officials made a small handful of calls Wednesday to waffling lawmakers to talk about the deal. It does pass, all that's left is for the president to sign the spending bill. Nothing is final until Trump signs it.

All right. So many people are seeking cash payments from Equifax following its disastrous data breach in 2017. There might not be enough money to pay the claims for everyone. Under the settlement consumers can file for Equifax's free credit monitoring or receive a check for 125 bucks.

What did you ask for?

SANCHEZ: I got the money.

ROMANS: OK. You got --

SANCHEZ: We'll see if we actually get the money.

ROMANS: But the fund dedicated to the cash payouts is only $31 million, meaning the more people who file claims for a check the less likely that they'll receive the full payment. The FTC or the Federal Trade Commission is trying to persuade Americans to take the free credit monitoring instead, saying it's actually worth more. If you do file a claim, be careful of scammers trying to get your data.

It's just sort of insulting, right, to have to accept the free monitoring for something that they did wrong.

SANCHEZ: I already have that from another breach so -- up next, the CNN debates set to the sounds of Motown. Stay tuned.


[04:56:19] SANCHEZ: In honor of the CNN debates being in the Motor City, the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" set some debate talking points to Motown classics. Take a look.


ROMANS: Well, you're welcome. That's the point. Putting them on the stage.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes. Maybe --

ROMANS: So America could be introduced to who these people are.

SANCHEZ: Some great publicity for them there.

ROMANS: Love it.

SANCHEZ: Great music.

ROMANS: Dark second force is the best phrase of the (INAUDIBLE).


ROMANS: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "NEW DAY" live from Detroit starts right now.


GILLIBRAND: The first thing that I'm going to do when I'm president is I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, kids belong in classrooms, not cages.

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

CASTRO: 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was able to get the lines in, escape unscathed, he bought himself a new lifeline. He will be back.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to a special edition of NEW DAY. It's Thursday, August 1st. 5:00 here in Detroit. So much drama July couldn't handle it all.


BERMAN: It quit.

CAMEROTA: It quit on us.

BERMAN: So we had to make it August. This morning, who's waking up in a better position than they were in last night? Was there a breakout or a breakdown in the Democratic presidential debate?

Much of the instant analysis is in and the verdict is bruising. This was a demanding "get it from all sides" event, particularly for Vice President Joe Biden. Just about every other candidate on stage was attacking one aspect of Biden's record or another. But this time he was ready. And a lot of what you will read this morning is that he had a better and more energetic debate this time around, not perfect but better.

CAMEROTA: Senator Kamala Harris came out swinging and landed some blows on Biden, but she found herself on the receiving end of some jabs, too. She was challenged on her new health care plan and her record as a prosecutor. So we have a lot of key moments from last night's combative debate to show you and discuss.

Let's begin with CNN's Athena Jones. She joins us now with the highlights -- Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. As expected frontrunner Joe Biden was the top target on that stage.