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Democrats Use Obama Two Ways; Iowa Voters Weigh Debate; U.S. Sanctions Iran Foreign Minister. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:50] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, he was not on the stage last night, but one of the most scrutinized political records was that of former President Barack Obama. Listen to a portion.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NYC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I asked the vice president point blank, did he use his power to stop those deportations? He went right around the question.

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.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't.


CAMEROTA: OK, back with us to talk about all of this we have Bakari Sellers, Andrew Gillum, April Ryan and Angela Rye, back for an encore performance.

Bakari, what did you think? Did you expect President Obama to come up so often and in sometimes a critical light on the second Democratic debate stage?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes and yes. I expect -- I mean you have -- you have the president's former vice president on stage. And Joe Biden gets into this point sometimes where he, instead of talking about the policies of Barack Obama, he attempts to use Barack Obama to deflect from his own record.

And so last night what you saw was he kind of -- he got caught in -- (INAUDIBLE) in between. And so you can't use Barack Obama to defend your record and then disassociate with him on TPP and then disassociate with him on deportations. Either -- either -- I mean you have to be more nuanced and more critical. And Joe Biden had issue with that.

And so I do want to say, though, and I think that from the viewership point and viewership perspective, because sometimes we get inundated in our own little bubble, Barack Obama still has a 95 percent approval rating amongst Democrats in this country.


SELLERS: And so you have to be very, very caution, because even -- even when those individuals -- I have a feeling when tested, even on immigration, there are a lot of core Democratic voters who still will not like that message of challenging Barack Obama, although I agree, like Angela, that he is not above reproach.

RYAN: So here's -- here's where we are. We are in a new day as we know.


RYAN: Yes --


RYAN: On and in a new day.

SELLERS: Good placement.

RYAN: Good placement.

Here's the issue. We are not fighting like we used to fight ten years ago, 20 years ago. And the Democrats have to really be careful. Barack Obama is one of the most successful Democratic presidents of all time right now. Bill Clinton, I mean he's been diminished by Donald Trump, but if you look at the record -- if you look at the record of Barack Obama.

Some of this is a family issue that they should be fighting amongst themselves behind closed doors. But then you have to remember, as Barack Obama is this president that still has this great approval rating and you have this president over here, Donald Trump, who is constantly trying to berate him, bring him down, discredit him, you have to be careful because you could play into that.

CAMEROTA: So did you think they went too far last night on that?

RYAN: Yes, I do. I do.

RYE: No.

RYAN: I do believe that. No, not because it -- some people -- a lot of people are just coming into this political game right now because of Donald Trump. They don't understand. A lot of people came in because of Barack Obama. And sometimes, as you try to give them everything, you can't give everybody steak when they're only on milk. CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Angela.


RYE: Yes, I think -- I think our reality, though, is that this is a Democratic primary.

SELLERS: Correct.

RYE: So this is the time where you have to challenge Democrats on policy prescriptions they've been putting forward, challenge the proposals whether or not they're making sense. And part of what we have to go on is, frankly, the last Democratic administration was his. So that's --

RYAN: Right. Everything was not great. Everything was not wrong. But --

RYE: And that's all people were saying.

RYAN: Right.

RYE: I think that there was nothing that was below the belt. I think it was all fair game. And I think that the challenge, though, is, if Vice President Biden, to Bakari's point, if he's going to stand on the record of the glory years of Barack Obama, he has to stand on the pain (ph) to.


RYE: You've got to be accountable.

RYAN: That's true, but be careful how you fight.

GILLUM: I don't think that this -- I don't think there has -- there's a -- there's no choice here. It's a false choice. You can absolutely be critical of the elements of this administration that were unsuccessful without saying Barack Obama was a bad president.

RYE: Yes. He wasn't.

GILLUM: He had to inherit quite a separated government and a divided government that they had to deal with and it produced some successes, but it also produced some shortcomings. We'll be able to read his book soon. He may be able to reveal what he thought those shortcomings were.

[06:35:04] BERMAN: But the argument that's out there in the conventional wisdom, in the atmosphere this morning is, if Barack Obama's too far right for today's Democratic Party --


BERMAN: That shows you just how far the Democratic Party has drifted.

GILLUM: Listen, I looked at the debate and watched commercials paid for by the Donald Trump campaign that had every one of our candidates lined up and called them all socialists and basically said they agreed on this, this, this and that and a third. Probably not factually true, but it doesn't matter who the Democratic nominee is, they will have this line of attack. They attempted it before we even entered this race in earnest, basically shading every Democrat as if we're all socialist, we're monolith (ph). We -- and I don't mean that as a pejorative. I'm simply saying, I'm a Democrat. I identify as one. And so far as I know, at very least, 19 of the 20 people that were on the stage of the last two nights also identify as Democrats.

SELLERS: But also this, and let me just -- I hope that every Democrat watching, I hope they're watching our panel because it's robust to say the least.

RYE: They are.

SELLERS: But all 20 Democrats have to step their game up, whoever it is, if they're going to beat Donald Trump.

RYAN: That's true.

SELLERS: You know, I -- I have -- I love Kamala Harris. I think she -- she -- I hope she will be the next president of the United States. But even Kamala Harris or Joe Biden, who has this experience, or even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, I think that this is a very healthy process because what we've learned after the first two debates is, we still have a long way to go.

RYE: Yes, we do.

SELLERS: We have -- every candidate has their own flaws. Every candidate has their own issues. Our messaging on health care was all over the place. You know from -- depending on who you're talking to, our message, it was not an elevator pitch. It was all over the place. And what we do know, and this is to steal from Chris, who always talks about this late night. You know, Donald Trump is sitting there on the side -- in one corner of the ring with a baseball bat that is just going to bludgeon us with identity politics and he's going to bludgeon us with things that are not factually true. And to Andrew's point, and Buttigieg's point, no matter where we are, he's going to call us socialists. But we have to step our game up. That's why this process is healthy.

GILLUM: Well, I agree with you. I've -- I am never one against a competitive primary. I was in one myself that produced me as a nominee.

I hope that through this -- last night as an example, we can draw distinctions and we can have them strongly on the issues, on the record. I think the cheap political stuff, which most of these viewers actually see through, which is why in the CNN panel that took place after the debate, nearly every one of them said they thought Cory Booker or Secretary Castro were the highest performers.

RYE (ph): That's right.

GILLUM: And they sited some of the positive sort of energy that was brought to it.

RYE: They need that.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: And I think -- I think on that point, like, when you think about how Barack Obama won, he won on hope and change.

RYAN: That's right.

RYE: There was not enough hope and change on that stage last night. And that was, I think, to be contrasted with the day before.


RYE: I'm -- yes.

SELLERS: I agree.

RYE: Cory Booker and Julian Castro, but Joe Biden should have been on that. Kamala Harris should have been on that. Even Kirsten Gillibrand, who said that she works but she -- I still don't think that it was the aspirational promise of what she would -- what she would deliver.


RYE: She just said she would deliver, but what is she delivering?

GILLUM: Elections are about the future.

BERMAN: Can -- can we shop talk? I want to shop talk one second if I can, the Kool-Aid moment from Cory Booker.

RYE: Oh, God.

CAMEROTA: Because --

SELLERS: I'm going to go ahead and tap out now.

CAMEROTA: April is still reeling from that.

RYE: There's no tapping out. There's no such thing. Lean in. Lean in.

GILLUM (ph): Oh yeah!

RYE: What?

BERMAN: This was an exchange about criminal justice -- this was an exchange about criminal justice reform.


BERMAN: This was an exchange about criminal justice reform. But Cory Booker came after former Vice President Joe Biden with this.


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 (INAUDIBLE).

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Um, 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.


RYAN: Newark has Kool-Aid.

CAMEROTA: April, you're crying.

RYE: (INAUDIBLE) he became the Kool-Aid man on stage (INAUDIBLE).

GILLUM: But because -- but, listen, the record must reflect that April did begin this segment by saying --


GILLUM: Kool-Aid is what we use to dye our hair.

RYAN: No, I didn't say that! I did not say that! I said in some places they do use --

BERMAN: Exactly (ph).

RYAN: Now it's not a drink. It's --

GILLUM: It is a drink. It is not hair dye.

RYE: Anyway, that should tell you something if he dies his hair.

RYAN: Yes. Some people do use the (INAUDIBLE) to die their hair.

RYE: Cory Booker, I have to say this, Senator Booker, you know I love you, man, but I could just see you going, oh, this is my time. My time. Here comes the Kool-Aid (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: But with black -- but with black phrases you don't enunciate like every word?

RYE: But you also don't say you dipping in the Kool-Aid.

SELLERS: And don't even know the flavor. Now, it's --

CAMEROTA: What is --

RYAN: What is it with it?

CAMEROTA: What is it?


SELLERS: You (INAUDIBLE) the Kool-Aid and you don't know the flavor. It's like -- it's like --

RYE: You've got to get everybody, Cory, come on.

RYAN: He was too -- he was too pedigreed with it.

SELLERS: It was -- it was -- I'm just saying --

RYE: He was like you're all -- you're dipping in the Kool-Aid.

GILLUM: Let the record -- let the record also show, I didn't participate in any part of that.

RYE: Oh, come on, Andrew. Lighten up, Andrew. You're too stiff. You're too stiff. Lighten up.

SELLERS: But you know what's -- but you know what -- did you know that it was -- it was -- for those -- for certain people who were looking at --

RYAN: This is a family conversation (INAUDIBLE), why you doing this?

SELLERS: (INAUDIBLE) having this conversation.

RYE: Yes, you can. Yes, you can.

[06:40:01] SELLERS: But there -- there are a lot of people -- there are a lot of people watching that, a lot of black folk, who were like, no, no.


SELLERS: But their -- but to -- but to a lot of --

RYE: They clapped in the audience, though.

SELLERS: I know, but to a lot of -- a lot of Democratic voters, they -- they -- it was an endearing moment for Cory. Cory had a good night last night.

RYE: He did.

SELLERS: He had a very good night last night.

GILLUM: But partly even him delivering that line showing sort of the jocularity of it, you could --

SELLERS: The what?

RYE: Come on, man.

GILLUM: Anyway, the fact that he was -- RYE: Andrew --

RYAN: The jocularity of Kool-Aid.

GILLUM: He was having a good time.

But the point is, is voters also need to be exposed to our candidates, not just off of the substance of their policy --

RYE: Yes.

GILLUM: But they're also looking for a feeling, like, who is this person.

RYE: Their personalities.

GILLUM: Could I afford to live with them for the next four years or do I have to hide my kids every time CNN comes on because you're embarrassed by what the president may say?

SELLERS: Correct.

RYAN: Well, now want I want to know is, what kind of Kool-Aid (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: OK, we have that. I think Kool-Aid has responded. Do we have something on Twitter?

RYAN: Kool-Aid is from Nebraska. Kool-Aid.



RYE: They put an oh yeah -- they put an oh Yeah, April. You see it, oh yeah.

RYAN: Oh yeah!

BERMAN: We know the flavor.

CAMEROTA: We know the flavor.

RYE: We know it. But why is it -- why is it red. It should have been blue raspberry, though, because it was a Democratic debate.

RYAN: We have blue. We have red.


SELLER: They did their best.


RYAN: This is not the conversation that we should wrap up the debate camp -- the CNN debate -- BERMAN: I want to thank you all --


BERMAN: For being with us here all week. And, please, come back.

RYAN: We loved it.


BERMAN: I think we're going to do this a lot more.

RYE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: No, it's great.

RYAN: We want to thank you -- we want to thank you --

GILLUM: Yes, for sure.

RYAN: For having the bold, brave vision, you and the producers, to do this when other networks couldn't or wouldn't. Thank you, guys.

SELLERS: Amen. Hallelujah.

RYE: (INAUDIBLE). Every day (INAUDIBLE) networks.

RYAN: And as the Kool-Aid ((INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: All right.

CAMEROTA: Every day.


GILLUM: As the shade tree grows above your head.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, guys. This is great.

All right, they will be the first to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race. So who won the debate in the eyes of Iowa voters? We were there. We ask them, next.


[06:45:51] BERMAN: Iowa is just around the corner. I will say it again. Everyone thinks the Iowa caucuses are far away. They are not. And those voters, they matter so much. So who stood out in Iowa last night as they were watching the CNN presidential debates?

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joined them at a debate party. She is live in Dubuque with the tape.



Well, night two of the Democratic presidential debate definitely did not disappoint voters here. Many of them watching it like a sporting event, cheering, booing, clapping, trying to figure out who was going to come out victorious and whether or not they could support them in the Iowa caucuses just six months from now.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Democrats are expecting some engagement here. I expect we'll get it.

YURKEVICH (voice over): And with that, it was on.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor.

YURKEVICH: Voters here in Dubuque, Iowa, comparing this debate to --


TAMORA COX, IOWA VOTER: A ping upon match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A family road trip.

YURKEVICH: Some candidates breaking through the noise picked up new fans.

COX: I have to say Yang has been very impressive. And, you know, it's scary because of what we got with Donald Trump being a businessman and then you say, well, Yang hasn't been in the government and he's a businessman. But I like what he's saying.

YURKEVICH: And others fell flat in voters' eyes.

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

UHLENKAMP: I think Gillibrand probably hurt herself on -- in continuing to go after it when clearly it wasn't going to go anywhere.

YURKEVICH: Joe Biden taking a lot of incoming heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president --


BOOKER: MR. Vice President --



YURKEVICH: His supporters in this room had his back. CAROLINE KOPPES, IOWA VOTER: Everybody can have a good talking point

and everybody can have a breakout moment because that's what they're all being coached for. But I want the person who has been steady.

YURKEVICH: But some still questioned his performance.

COX: I'm concerned about certain people like Biden. I found him stammering and not finding his words.

YURKEVICH: A standout for a number of voters here was Cory Booker. Many feeling like he could earn their vote and their donation.

YURKEVICH (on camera): If you had to write a check, make a donation to one of the candidates up there on that stage, who would it be?

COX: Cory Booker. Definitely. I just -- I like his message. I like his demeanor. I feel that he's the kind of person that a lot of people will be able to relate to.

YURKEVICH (voice over): In the end, still, few say they walked away with a clear winner.

UHLENKAMP: I've got about seven or eight I'm looking at hard. Six or seven, not so much. And the rest are -- that's nice, but we can't all be president.


YURKEVICH: They won't all be president but they also won't all make it to the next debate. And that is because of a donor's requirement. That is why last night's performance was so crucial in voters eyes because if they like what they saw, they're going to open their checkbooks, helping to keep campaigns funded and helping them to qualify for future presidential debates.


CAMEROTA: Vanessa, it is so helpful to hear from viewers and voters, particularly in Iowa. So thank you very much for being at that watch party and bringing it to us.

Meanwhile, tensions are escalating again with Iran. Why the Trump administration is sanctioning Iran's foreign minister, next.


[06:53:20] CAMEROTA: The Trump administration is sanctioning Iran's foreign minister. And the move is likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries.

CNN's Clarissa Ward joins us now with more.

What's this about, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the Trump administration, this is essentially about the fact that they view Zarif, the foreign minister, who speaks fluent English, who was very outspoken, who travels around the world, very skillfully putting forward Iran's point of view, they view him as essentially being a sort of pawn for the Iranian government and specifically for the Ayatollah Khamenei. And we heard yesterday from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He said, quote, this action represents another step toward denying the Iranian regime the resources to enable terror and oppress the Iranian people. Foreign Minister Zarif, a senior regime official and apologist, has, for years now, been complacent in this malign activities.

Well, it didn't take long for us to hear back also from Zarif himself. He fired back with a somewhat sarcastic message on Twitter saying, thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.

But what's really interesting here is the timing of this because it was just a few weeks ago that Zarif visited New York. He sat down with some journalists, including our own Fareed Zakaria, and he gave the first real indication that possibly -- or the first hint that possibly the U.S. might consider renegotiating the nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S. If that's the case, Zarif would be the front man of those negotiations. And so what kind of a message is now being sent by the Trump administration by trying to push him out, who becomes the person then that the U.S. would hold those negotiations with?

BERMAN: Right.

WARD: John.

[06:55:08] BERMAN: Key questions.

Clarissa Ward, thank you very, very much.

All right, we have a big morning ahead here from Detroit. Four more presidential candidates will join us right here. What did they think about their performances? That's next.


BERMAN: We are in Detroit after last night's contentious Democratic debates. So let's get a special motown version --

CAMEROTA: Oh, good.

BERMAN: Of your late --

CAMEROTA: I'm going to like this.

BERMAN: Of your "Late Night Laughs."


UNIDENTIFIED MALES (singing): Well, I guess you'd say, what kind of candidate talks this way? Marianne. Williamson. Talking about Marianne. She knows Oprah. Baby he needs Obama. Got to have Barack Obama. Has Joe mentioned he

know Obama? Yes, he's really tight with Obama.

[06:59:45] I bet you're wondering if we knew Michael Bennet was running too with some other guy named Jay Inslee. Also who's John Delaney? It was a surprise to our eyes just who the hell are all these guys?