Return to Transcripts main page
Democrats Face Off in Second Debate; Andrew Yang (D), Presidential Candidate is Interviewed About His Platform. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired August 1, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are ten years too late. We need to do everything we can to start moving the climate in the right direction.
[05:59:12] REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches but actually doing the work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was uneven. She didn't seem to expect that she was going to get prosecuted on her prosecutorial record.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're dipping into Kool-Aid, and you don't even know the flavor.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Cory Booker turned in a performance that reminded you why he's a household name.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: He was a happy warrior. There's something to be said for that.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, August 1, 6 a.m. here in Detroit.
Joe Biden's front-runner status was put to the test at the CNN debate last night. The former vice president took a lot of heat from his rivals on the stage, I mean, just from drop (ph) -- just from the get- go, he started taking heat.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: From everyone.
CAMEROTA: From everyone. So here's just one moment, OK, where Biden sparred with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker over their records on criminal justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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: 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 -- you need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms that we put in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So what about Senator Kamala Harris after a strong showing in the first debate? Some thought the strongest of all the candidates. She now learned what it's like to take incoming, serious incoming. Harris was forced to defend her position on health care, her record as California's attorney general.
One of the sharpest attacks came from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABBARD: She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
HARRIS: I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: This morning half of the candidates who were on that stage last night, they will be here on NEW DAY. Sort of a round two. Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker. They all join us live.
And the questions we will try to answer this morning, not just who won or lost, but the keys. Is Joe Biden a stronger or a weaker front runner this morning? Are Democrats in a better or worse position to take on President Trump this morning than they were last night?
Let's bring in Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator. He has endorsed Senator Kamala Harris for president. April Ryan, CNN political analyst. And CNN political commentators Andrew Gillum and Angela Rye.
Angela, I just want to start with you. Those big questions -- who won, who lost, Biden weak or strong, Democrats better or worse. A lot going on this morning.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is a lot going on. Go. There is a lot going on this morning. I think that I was really happy to see some strong moments from Julian Castro. We talked about him a lot this week. He really showed up. He delivered in his -- like, from the opening to the closing.
I also think that Joe Biden was prepared to take on attacks, but I don't know how well he took them. A very telling moment for me also was Cory Booker and how he handled disruption. Protesters in the hall, which is how I think a president should handle protestors. Listening to what the protest is about and waiting for them to have their time, and then reclaiming his.
On the contrary, when Joe Biden was interrupted, he looked agitated. He had an agitated smirk on his face, and I don't think he handled it as well.
Also Andrew Yang. Andrew Yang. I mean, he showed up. He was on point. He was -- I'm just saying. I was like, OK, I can kind of see why folks who don't like politics like this guy.
CAMEROTA: Hey Bakari, Kamala Harris came out swinging and never really stopped. I mean, she was -- to tell you the truth, she was -- she turned her body language towards former VP Joe Biden and had a number of things that she wanted to hit him on, and she never really let up. She was sort of set to aggressive. And do you think that was effective?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's still yet to be seen. But as she was throwing punches, they were also coming back. They were coming back in volumes.
And I think that you could see the strategy was to not really address too many people who are were to the left of her on that stage and get into a discussion with Joe Biden.
And you know, she had to -- and we talked about this yesterday and the day before. She had to go in there, stand in her record on health care, talk about those issues. It was the first time that she wrote out this plan for the country. We spent the first 15, 20 minutes talking about it.
You know, she's going to have to continue to defend that plan as we go through. I think it's a good plan. There are many who think it's a good plan. She's going to have to be firm in that.
And then defending your own record, which is something that I think everyone has to do. And Senator Harris did a good job last night. But she's going to have to do a better job as we go through this race of having to defend your own record.
BERMAN: Well, Bakari Sellers set the bar yesterday, Mayor, on Kamala Harris and this health care plan. Said she's going to have to be able to explain it. And she was pressed on it. So do you think she met the bar she needed to?
ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she was pressed on that and a number of other things. And I think what we're going to want to see as voters as we move forward is that Senator Harris doesn't have a glass jaw. That she cannot only deliver a punch but that she can take a punch and keep on ticking. And I think that has to be -- that came in my opinion under some question yesterday as a result of the debate, demeanor, posture, response, level of aggressiveness. And not just doing the debate, but in the CNN after interviews that took place by our colleagues across the street.
[06:05:03] CAMEROTA: Not everybody saw those. What did you hear last night that you -- that raised your eyebrows?
GILLUM: Well, I mean, so she was asked again about Tulsi Gabbard's attack on her, and it was sort of, you know, she's sitting at 1 percent. And I think we should move forward.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Condescending.
GILLUM: There was not a real engagement. And again, I don't think that's who she is. I just think yesterday may have taken her a little off-guard. But I've got to tell you, I was not a fan of last night's debate. I've got to be very honest with you.
GILLUM: I thought, by comparison to the night before, which you had stark differences on that stage, it felt like in the day before's debate we got a lot more substantive, you know, sort of conflict between each other.
Last night felt a little cheap. It felt much more political than about the people. And I think if you were a regular viewer sitting at home, you wanted to hear more about what these folks were going to do for you. And we all predicted it. We knew that the candidates who were second-tier would have to engage and engage aggressively. And I think that happened. And at some moments it felt, God, I wish we were talking more about the people whose lives we're trying to impact.
RYAN: It's very true. It's very true.
CAMEROTA: April, your take away?
RYAN: I'm very much with the mayor. I -- I really had an issue last night with some of the canned responses. I mean, Kool-Aid is a great drink for some, you know, but I felt that that was strategically placed and it was corny. You know --
CAMEROTA: But aren't all zingers corny? I mean, that --
SELLERS: No. We've had good ones on that stage.
RYAN: But there were some moments.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me give you some of mine.
RYAN: But there were moments. There were genuine moments, but there were also moments where people had to say, "Look, I'm going to one up you."
The blood was in the water. Blood in the water was Kamala Harris, because everyone did opposition research on her, as well as Joe Biden. Joe Biden -- and when it comes to Joe Biden, you know, it was a fight. It was a fight. He came for the fight.
But it was also a handicap match, because everyone jumped on him. Versus him being able to give his information, even give his text number. I mean, he was so shaken, rattled.
But we saw a stronger Joe. We saw a wounded Kamala. You know, she can give a punch, but she can't take one. And then Cory Booker, I mean, Spartacus, I don't know who it was. It wasn't Mr. Rogers, and it wasn't Walt Disney. I don't know who this person was last night.
CAMEROTA: But you think he had a commanding performance last night?
SELLERS: I think that Cory did well last night. I think that there were a lot of people --
RYAN: He did well, but he was different.
SELLERS: I think Cory did well last night. I think that's who Cory is. And I also think Castro did well.
But -- but I want to say that, as the night went on, I know that we're -- that we're giving our lumps to Senator Harris. She actually did extremely well when she focused her fire on Donald Trump.
I think that when she was laying out -- when she was laying out the argument of Donald Trump breaking those promises, I think in her closing, when individuals heard that agenda, when they saw that fierceful [SIC] record as prosecutors, you know, that is the Kamala Harris that people believe can take on Donald Trump.
Now, the blessing in all of this is that we're sitting here August 1st of 2019. And so this is the second debate that we've had. And I think that everybody on that stage will get better.
But to Andrew's point, to make this is a more clear contest, this field is going to have to winnow. I think that Kamala Harris is still the most talented person in the race. And I do think that Joe Biden is weaker going forward. But we shall see. Last night was a great night for the Democratic Party, but we just have a lot of questions.
RYE: I just want to push back really quickly. I think that Bill de Blasio --
RYAN: Yes, let's go there.
RYE: I don't know where he was looking. Because like, he was, you know -- but anyway. When he was pushing back on Joe Biden and forcing him to answer questions, that's the role I believe Kamala Harris should have played and what she should play going forward in the debate.
I do not think that it's in her best interest to prosecute Donald Trump in her opening or closing. Those are the moments where she should be showing her vision going forward for America. That is really, really important. People know that she can effectively prosecute. If you've ever watched this woman, she's a superstar in these -- in these sitting hearings. We know that. We need to see a different side of her, and there needs to be a lighter side of her.
RYAN: But when you talk about the prosecution, I know this probably is it for Bill de Blasio. But they should have gone --
SELLERS: Yes, yes.
RYE: Over, done, toast.
SELLERS: But he doesn't want to go back to New York.
RYAN: Right. But here's the problem --
RYE: Y'all are hard.
RYAN: No, but it's real. Last night what should have happened, those candidates should have jumped on him about Eric Garner. And when he threw it over to the vice president, there are a lot of people who can take responsibility for what happened to Eric Garner and the fact that there has not been justice.
RYAN: But the moment was lost, and the vice president should have come back, as mayor, you are over top of the police department. You could have fired Pantaleo. And that's what -- and we heard the protests last night about Pantaleo.
BERMAN: Well, but the issue may have been been, what's the point of punching down to Bill de Blasio? That may have been the calculation.
RYAN: To put on the record, this is still an issue right now. This is still very much an issue.
RYE: And he said it was old. That's the other thing. Joe Biden said old.
RYAN: It is not old. It is not old.
RYE: We're talking about old stuff. They just decided, right, that Eric Garner's case would not go forward with the Department of Justice. It is still time right now. If Bill De Blasio --
RYAN: Something can be done.
RYE: -- can't even handle his police department, he certainly can't handle -- [06:10:05] BERMAN: Can I ask a question about one thing that Angela brought up that has been brought up in general here, also with Kamala Harris, her opening and closing. Donald Trump.
Angela, you said something interesting. You said you didn't think that she should have used her time to prosecute Donald Trump.
RYE: Not opening and closing.
BERMAN: This morning as we're waking up, a lot of the conventional wisdom is that President Trump got off easy. Do you think he should have been more the focus, Mayor?
GILLUM: Well, I mean, he's always the focus as part of this. And if he isn't, he's going to insert himself one way or another.
I think the way in which we use this president to contrast our visions. His vision for America versus what our vision for America is.
But I also got to say these folks are in a primary, and they're trying to win the first race first. And so I could understand why it is that they're putting attention on each other.
And the final analysis, I think last night was probably no damage done to Biden and no real damage done to Harris. But for the second-tier candidates, people that are going to be looking, I think, twice at Cory Booker and quite possibly more at --
RYAN: Andrew Yang.
GILLUM: -- Secretary Castro.
RYAN: Castro and Yang.
GILLUM: Yang I thought was also very interesting.
RYAN: Yes, the math.
GILLUM: But those two I thought delivered a bit of a command performance.
SELLERS: Can I --
GILLUM: With the exception of the fact that I think Elizabeth Warren still won the night.
SELLERS: Can I explain to the viewers why Andrew Yang is so good at what he does? And, you know, everybody at this table has been around politics, covering it, running for office, dealing with candidates in the caucus. Angela.
But Andrew Yang might be the most disciplined candidate I've ever seen in my life.
RYAN: Yes. SELLERS: With every single question, it came back to his answer of the universal basic income. The question was about women in the workplace. Universal basic income. The question was about criminal justice reform. A universal basic income.
And so his discipline last night shone through. And there's absolutely nobody on the stage who knows Andrew Yang to throw a counterpunch. I don't know where he came from.
BERMAN: Can I say -- can I say one thing?
RYAN: You know what? But he put it on the table. And he's going to be around for a minute.
BERMAN: Guys in the control room, hang on one second. We do have Andrew Yang literally waiting on the stairs to talk to us next. But I do want to ask one question of all of you here, because President Obama, in a way, was a focus of criticism last night.
RYE: He was.
BERMAN: Is that smart politics for the Democratic field, Angela?
RYE: I love that you ask that question, John. Because there's a lot of Twitter chatter about whether or not that's an effective form of conversation and debate. And I think that if we -- once we get to the point where we can no longer call into question the records of any president. Right? Of any person that has been a public servant to this country, we have a problem, and we're no longer patriotic. I don't think that he's above being criticized. I think that that is absolutely fair game.
I think again, Secretary Castro had a very strong moment with Joe Biden where he said the difference between me and you is that one of us has learned from the past. I quoted that wrong, but I think that's really important.
Joe Biden came and thought that maybe because he was in front of a black audience, all he had to do was say, "Well, I was the vice president, and Obama's record is flawless." That's not real. And so he struggled for a long time, whether it was on TPP or deportation. He struggled with that. And I think it's very important for people to say, you know, "We started. We laid a good foundation, but we have a little bit further to --"
BERMAN: Hang on. I'm so sorry, Angela. I was just told --
RYE: That's April.
BERMAN: April. I was looking at Angela. Bakari, hang on. Mayor. Everyone. Cut me a break here. Cut me a break here, because the control room -- what they just told me -- what they just told me -- well done. What they just told me was you guys are coming back. What we're going to do is we're going to bring on Andrew Yang right now, because you were talking about him and the moment he had last night. We're going to bring on candidate Andrew Yang. Then you will all be right back.
CAMEROTA: For an encore performance.
BERMAN: I think we have Andrew Yang to look at right here.
CAMEROTA: We are looking at him. He had a memorable line, many of them last night. So we're going to talk to him right now.
RYE: Going to teach you some math.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:18:34] YANG: We need to do the opposite of much of what we're doing right now, and the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was businessman Andrew Yang getting some of the loudest applause with that line in his opening statement of the debate. So will last night's performance help him stand out in this crowded Democratic field?
Andrew Yang joins us right now. Great to have you here.
YANG: It's great to be here. Thanks for having me, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: How do you think last night went?
YANG: Thought it went great. You know, it's phenomenal to be back in Detroit. I spent a lot of time here. And it felt like we got a really phenomenal opportunity to make our case to the American people to present a vision.
CAMEROTA: You know, our panel very quickly was just applauding you. They said that your discipline, your messaged discipline, your single- minded focus and the way that you could work any question back to your message of wanting to give every adult $1,000 is admirable. Do you ever get tired of that or want to branch out?
YANG: Well, I have over a hundred policies on my website. The Freedom Dividend to me is just the main one that would improve Americans' lives the fastest.
BERMAN: I want you to explain that again. I know a lot of people watched the debate last night. But you didn't even really there get a chance to dive in and explain why you think that's so important, particularly it deals with issues of automation. It deals with issues of equality. So explain it.
YANG: Well, we're here in Detroit. The Midwest and the South lost 4 million manufacturing jobs over the last number of years. And those jobs, unfortunately, were not replaced in any real way. And what happened to the manufacturing jobs will now happen to retail
jobs, call center jobs, food service jobs. Truck driving is the most common job in 29 states.
[06:20:21] My friends in technology are working on artificial intelligence that's going to displace many of these workers. And the more they know, the more concerned they are.
So to me, this is one of the driving forces behind Donald Trump's victory in 2016. Because if you look at where these manufacturing jobs, where they used to be, they were in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, all the swing states that he needed to win, and he did win all of those states.
So the Freedom Dividend, this $1,000 a month, is a path forward for many Americans who right now are going to continue to get pushed aside by an economy that's going to become increasingly punishing.
CAMEROTA: Why give it to millionaires? Can't you save a lot of money if you don't give that thousand dollars to millionaires who don't need it?
YANG: Well, there are a few really great reasons why you want to give it to everyone. And this is based upon the experience that we've had in Alaska, which has had a dividend for almost 20 years. And in Alaska, everyone gets between $1,000 and $2,000 a year from their richest Alaskan -- I have no idea who that is -- to the poorest Alaskan, and so it destigmatizes it and universalizes it. You don't have to check how much money everyone is making. And then everyone feels good about it, because it's a right of citizenship.
BERMAN: There's a big difference between the population size of Alaska and the population size of America.
YANG: Yes. It's going to do even more good here. But what they're doing in Alaska, they're paying for it with oil money. And the case I'm making is that technology is the oil of the 21st Century. And that if we give the American people a tiny slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad, every robot truck mile, we can do this.
CAMEROTA: But is that forever? Is that your plan forever? I mean, automation isn't going away.
YANG: It's not.
CAMEROTA: And so you're just going to keep dolling out the thousand dollars? Is there another solution to how to keep Americans working?
YANG: Well, I touched on it last night. The goal is to try and create all sorts of new jobs that focus upon the real needs of the 21st Century, around our own health and wellbeing; around caring for each other and educating our children and making the environment cleaner and safer.
Right now, unfortunately, those are not the ways we measure our own progress. Really, we measure our progress through GDP and stock market prices. And these measurements are becoming increasingly unrelated to how we're doing.
GDP and stock market prices are at record highs, while our life expectancy has declined for the last three years. And it's not just life expectancy. It's stress, anxiety, depression, drug use and abuse. So if we get the measurements wrong, we're never going to make progress, because we're just going to keep cheerleading for things that actually don't help us.
BERMAN: You made the point last night on the stage that you felt every candidate on that stage would be better as president than Donald Trump. Do you think that point is being missed in the current discussion?
YANG: Well, it's just the mechanics of the process where -- we have. And one of the things that I joke about, but it's true, is you notice that everyone always attacks someone above them in the polls. That -- this is the mechanics. Like, well, you know, you need to boost your profile. You're going to have to take a shot at one of the frontrunners.
And so that's why we have this dynamic that encourages us to tear down the frontrunners. And it's -- it's not going to help us beat Donald Trump in 2020.
BERMAN: Do you think the debate last night, because there was a lot of those cross attacks, ended up hurting the Democratic Party or the candidate somehow?
YANG: You know what's funny is I think viewers are savvy enough to know exactly what's going on. Like, they see it's like, hey, they're going to take shots at Joe. They're going to take shots at Kamala. And then they take it all with a grain of salt. Because they kind of know that, at the end of the day, the party is going to come back together.
BERMAN: And the other thing that we hear a lot over the last eight hours since the debate ended is, wow. It made it seem as if President Obama was far to the right, that all of his policies were being attacked as too far to the right and not doing enough.
Did you see that?
YANG: Well, there's certainly that dynamic baked in, if you're going to attack Joe Biden. And the Democratic Party has shifted in some ways, even during the last several years.
BERMAN: Do you think it -- you think it's a good thing?
YANG: Well, I think that right now, the party's at a point where we're trying to figure out what the core ideas of the party should be and the case we're going to make to the American people. I think that's very productive and healthy. I obviously have my own ideas that I think should be front and center.
And it's not just me. I mean, the entire party is trying to figure out exactly what it stands for.
CAMEROTA: Joe Biden going into this debate was the faraway frontrunner in the polls. I mean, by multiples of two and three. Do you think that he helped his case or hurt his case or just held solid last night?
YANG: You know, it's interesting to look at this. Because if you see -- see what happened after the last debate, Joe had a bit of a dip, and then he just came back. You know? Like, we all know who Joe Biden is, you know. And I'm not sure last night changed anyone's opinion as to who Joe Biden is.
[06:25:07] BERMAN: You're -- why is it funny to you?
YANG: Well, it's funny because, you know, we hype up the debates and the narratives that develop out of the debates, and then to see that Joe Biden to snap back to where he was and everyone else to snap back to where they were. I think people's perception of the candidates is very resilient and consistent.
BERMAN: I've got a couple nuts and bolts questions. No. 1, based on what you said last night, would you support any of the Democrats who wins the nomination if it's not you?
YANG: The plan is to beat Donald Trump in 2020, and I would prefer any Democrat over Donald Trump in 2020.
BERMAN: And the second thing is, where do you stand right now in terms of making the debate stage in September? You've met the donor threshold, correct?
YANG: Yes. And we thought we had the polling threshold. You probably saw. But we're going to be on the debate stage in September and October. We're already past the donor threshold, and we'll be past the polling threshold probably sometime this week.
CAMEROTA: Andrew Yang, thanks for making us your first stop. It's great to talk to you.
YANG: Thank you for making me your first guest. It's great to see you both.
CAMEROTA: Yes, a pleasure. Great to have you.
YANG: Not your first guest.
BERMAN: Ever. First guest ever.
YANG: I inaugurated the show.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
BERMAN: First guest of the rest of our lives, as they say.
CAMEROTA: There you go. All right. We have four more candidates joining us this morning. Senators Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker will be here live on NEW DAY.
BERMAN: So Democrats may not have attacked President Trump as often as some would have liked in this debate, but they did take on, as we were just talking about, some of the policies of former President Barack Obama. How smart of a strategy was that? That's next.