Return to Transcripts main page


Second Panel of Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate in Detroit; Presidential Candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) Interviewed about Her Debate Performance and Her Medicare for All Plan. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired August 1, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to let them know who we are.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 turning into a beautiful morning here in Detroit, our last morning here in Detroit, sadly.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You keep saying that. I may stay.


CAMEROTA: You have forgotten that you live somewhere else.

BERMAN: I don't remember ever not being in Detroit.

CAMEROTA: I understand that. It is Thursday, August 1st, 8:00 now in Detroit.

So Joe Biden seemed to have a bull's-eye on him at last night's CNN debate. The former vice president was attacked from all sides basically on the stage. But unlike the first debate Biden seemed ready this time. He was prepared, he was energetic. So is he a stronger frontrunner now than he was going into the debate? What really changed last night?

BERMAN: And the former vice president's chief rival last night was Senator Kamala Harris. She did land some blows on the former Vice President Biden. But perhaps more so than in the first debate she found herself on the receiving end of some jabs as well. There was a clash over the health care plans.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And any time someone tells you you're going to get something good in 10 years you should wonder why it takes 10 years. If you notice, there's no talk about the fact that the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under our plan we will ensure that everyone has access to health care. Your plan, by contrast, leaves out almost 10 million Americans. So I think that you should really think about what you're saying.


CAMEROTA: And Senator Kamala Harris joins us now here on NEW DAY. Senator, great to have you.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be with you guys, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Have you had any sleep since last night?

HARRIS: Not really.


HARRIS: None of us have. There's a line from the "Godfather," which I love. Well, many lines, but this this one, this is the life we've chosen.


CAMEROTA: Great point, great point.

BERMAN: After all, we're not communists.

HARRIS: And then there's that one.

CAMEROTA: So speaking of choices, last night you came out swinging, and you never really stopped throughout the whole debate. And what was your strategy going into it?

HARRIS: Well, my strategy and my hope, certainly, was that we would have a meaningful discussion about policy and about the issues. And I think that that happened. It's a format that is difficult, though, to have real conversations. It's 60 seconds to give an answer and then follow up for 30 seconds. And then a rebuttal that's 15 seconds. But overall it was about talking about, for me, my 3:00 a.m. agenda, which is about my priorities that are really informed by what wakes people up in the middle of the night or 3:00 in the morning, which for the vast majority of us is just one of a few things.

It's about personal health, the health of your children or your parents, can you get a job, keep a job, pay the bills at the end of the month, retire with dignity. For so many of our families, can I help get my family member off their opioid addiction. For so many students, can I help pay off my student loans. These are the things that really keep people up in the middle of the night, that wake them up in the middle of the night, and those are my priorities.

And so it was my intention and my hope was to be able to talk about that and talk about it in a way that people also understand that in spite of the powerful forces and including this president who are trying to sow hate and division among Americans, that the reality is that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.

BERMAN: And you had a chance to talk about your health care plan, which was introduced this week, and it was in this debate.

HARRIS: That's right.

BERMAN: And it was the subject of some incoming fire.

HARRIS: Yes, it was.

BERMAN: And you said your opponents were lying or weren't being honest about it. And I want to focus in on one point, just one point, if I can.


BERMAN: The issue of your private insurance.


BERMAN: One of the things that has been charged is that you will not be able to keep your private insurance. If we get insurance through CNN, if GM workers get insurance through GM, under your plan they will not be able to keep that private insurance. Is that true?

HARRIS: What the conversation was, was about whether you can keep your private insurance through your employer. My plan will separate your health care from your employer, meaning your employer will no longer dictate the kind of health care you receive. Under my plan of Medicare for all, private insurance companies will be able to provide coverage if they play by our rules. And therefore, what that means in a very important way is that you don't have to be wed to your employer to keep the insurance you like and that you need.

Listen, the reality of America today is it is no longer the case that people come out of high school or college, they go and they work one place and they retire there. That's no longer the reality in America. You look at the fact -- I know you had Andrew Yang on earlier. Over the next 15 years over 40 percent of the jobs that currently exist will no longer exist.

[08:05:05] We have to decouple health care from employers because there are so many people I'm meeting, John, who are literally afraid to leave a job they don't like or where they are not growing because they are so concerned they are going to lose their health care. I am decoupling it. So there will be private insurance, there will be private plans, but it will not be coupled with your employer so you can have choices about where you work and where you live.

BERMAN: And I understand the portability argument, and that is an important argument here.

HARRIS: It is very important. BERMAN: But what you have to convince vote voters of is that, yes, they may be able to keep a private insurance, but it's not their private insurance, correct?

HARRIS: They get to make the choice.

BERMAN: No, because you're basically allowing for a Medicare Advantage plan where insurers can enter that plan and they can choose it if they want to. But if you're getting insurance from GM, from your employer, you will not be able to keep that, correct?

HARRIS: You will have 10 years to transition. The insurer who has partnered with GM is going to then have the opportunity to compete in my Medicare for all plan, and so you as the consumer can choose under my Medicare plan to have a public plan, a government sponsored plan, or a private plan. And this is the great thing about my Medicare for all plan, which is this -- people are going to have to compete. Private insurers are going to have to compete, and those that have the best plans will have you sign-up.

BERMAN: But it's a private plan, not necessarily your private plan. There's no guarantee your private plan will be part of it.

HARRIS: If you decide your private plan is your employers private plan as opposed to the plan you want to choose for yourself, then perhaps you're right. But I believe, and in fact the reason I created my Medicare for all plan is I am traveling this country and listening. And what they tell me is they want to be able to choose, and they don't want somebody else making choices for them, including their employers, because here's the deal. Under the current system, even under your employers' plan, you are paying at least a $5,000 deductible. You are still paying copays. You are still looking at premiums being jacked up by insurance companies.

Under my Medicare for all system, the private insurance companies are no longer going to be able to do that. So what's going to happen? When you walk into your doctor's office, whether you choose a public plan or private plan, you're not going to put down a credit card. You're just going to put down your Medicare card, and you're going to get the health care you need. And you're not going to have your employer or your insurance agency dictate which doctor you can see. That's what Americans want.

CAMEROTA: So as we said, you came out swinging last night. You were also on the receiving end of more incoming. Were you prepared for that last night? Did you expect that, I should say?

HARRIS: I have to tell you I actually joked with my team, and I said I've never owned a red suit.


HARRIS: And I said we're going to go on into this and I'll probably have a target on my back, so maybe I should get a red suit so I'll be easy to find.


CAMEROTA: And now you will --

HARRIS: And I didn't need a red suit to be easy to find as it turned out.

BERMAN: So Tulsi Gabbard, want to talk Tulsi Gabbard? Do we have that sound to play what Congresswoman Gabbard said?


BERMAN: Let's listen.


REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: 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. She blocked evidence --


GABBARD: She blocked evidence that would have freed an 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 the cash bail system in place that impacts people in the worst kind of way.


BERMAN: It was quite a moment. It's interesting, your response after the debate was different than your response on the debate stage. Do you wish you'd been more aggressive with her directly on the stage?

HARRIS: Listen, I think there is -- to your point about the dynamic of the debate, there is that dynamic where those people who are perceived to be the frontrunner have to be prepared to take incoming. And then there is the piece that is just about the substance of it, right. And the reality is that I am very proud of the work that I did as a prosecutor. I am a daughter of parents who met when there were active in the civil rights movement. I was born into a life and a community where I was acutely aware of injustices in the criminal justice system, but also acutely aware that all people want public safety, and I'm never going to buy the myth that certain people don't.

And so I became a prosecutor. I became a prosecutor and did the work of creating one of the first in the nation reentry initiatives focused on former offenders and getting them jobs and counseling. It was so innovative that the United States Department of Justice, the Obama administration, designated my work as a model of innovation for law enforcement in the United States.

[08:10:04] I did the work of running the second largest department of justice in the United States, which is the California Department of Justice, an office of almost 5,000 people. And the work that we did there included me requiring my special agents wore body cameras. I'm told we are the first state law enforcement agency to have required it.

I'm proud of the work I did focusing on children and making the connection between public education and public safety and the need to take the education of children as seriously as you do your own safety. So this is the work I've done. Am I going to take hits? Of course, incoming, there are going to be hits on a debate stage when people are trying to make a name for themselves.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk about the black vote. We just had Harry Enten on, I don't know if you were able to hear any of it, but he crunches all the numbers, and Joe Biden is doing really well with the black vote. All of the polls show him doing really notably, by exponentially he's doing better than his closest -- here you go -- 53 percent of black Democrats would prefer Biden then, there is Senator Harris down at seven percent. And so do you think that last night changed any of that equation? And what do you think you need to do?

HARRIS: First of all, a lot of that is based on name recognition. And we're still early in this campaign. And I'm very proud of the work we have done. We are building up a campaign where we have incredible support in all the primary states and building it up in other states. I am prepared to earn the vote and to make my case. And when you have somebody that has been in office for decades who was the vice president under a very popular president, I would expect that people would know who he is and there would be a high level of name recognition as a result.

But I am going to be out here competing. And I'll tell you, if you judge it by who is showing up and the kind of support we're getting on the ground, the endorsements we are receiving, I will tell you I am fully prepared and equipped to compete on a very serious level, and I intend to win this election.

BERMAN: Senator Kamala Harris, thanks so much for coming on with us here on NEW DAY. Great to see you in Detroit. We look forward to seeing you in New York. Wherever you go, we'll meet you there.

HARRIS: OK, I look forward to seeing you guys. Thank you, I appreciate it.

BERMAN: Thank you, senator.

HARRIS: Thank you, thank you.

BERMAN: All right, Senator Cory Booker, he was also on the debate stage last night. He also had moments of contrast with the candidates up there, including former vice president Joe Biden. There he is.

CAMEROTA: There he is with Rob.

BERMAN: The most famous stairs in America. Senator Cory Booker walking to the stairs right now. He joins us.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [08:17:00] SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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'm happy to do that.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is nothing done for the entire eight years he was mayor. There was nothing done to deal with the police department that was crumbling.

BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community, you're dipping into 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 we put in place.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was Senator Cory Booker landing one of the memorable moments of the night. So what's his strategy now coming out of this debate?

Joining us now Senator Cory Booker.

Great to have you.

BOOKER: It is so good to be on stage with you, guys. No sleep. But hey, what the heck.

CAMEROTA: Well, somehow it agrees with you.

BOOKER: My hair at this point is so unruly. It's hard to get it going.

CAMEROTA: Maybe that was same time for me.

So, how did you feel last night on the stage because you seemed to be sort of -- I mean, in your element. Not every format is for every person but did you feel like a ten person stage was actually your format?


BOOKER: I would far prefer less people on the stage. But, look, first of all I have a lot of love for a lot of people on that stage. Some of my best friends, you had Kamala here, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bennet, Castro -- these are people that are -- I feel close to.

The old joke in Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog, that's actually not true. These are real friends.

So I felt like we were having a family discussion. And, you know, some families, it gets kind of intense at times, but at the end of the day, we're still family and that's the issue I try to keep bringing up, which is we have a common goal here to get to the November elections and beat Donald Trump. And so, that's what I kept in my mind.

We're up here for a noble purpose and perhaps one of the most unprecedented moments in history, where we have a president from the Oval Office using rhetoric that as mom said, she hadn't heard since George -- Governor Wallace was using language like this president is using.

We have an urgency and crisis in our country. The very culture of our country is at stake. So, you've got to have a spirit up there that as much as you are talking about differences never loses that we are connected, a band of sisters and brothers in purpose.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One thing about George Wallace, our number cruncher noted, that more people say this president is racist than thought George Wallace was racist at the time. Just as an aside --

BOOKER: That's stunning.

BERMAN: It's interesting thing --

BOOKER: Not surprising, but stunning.

BERMAN: OK. But listen -- so, last night, one thing you said the person that's enjoying this debate most right now is Donald Trump as we pit Democrats against each other. You said that on the stage last night. You also accused Joe Biden of having it both ways on Barack Obama.

So, my question to you is, are you having it both ways, OK --


BOOKER: Touche, touche.

BERMAN: -- on Democrats, on Democrats, on Democrats, you know, pitting things against each other? Because you were tough on Joe Biden last night.

BOOKER: Well, first of all, anyone that goes up against Donald Trump better be tough and ready, but I do not like it when Democrats are using tropes that the Republicans use against us against each other, and that are not working to point out that -- you know, look, I disagree with you.

[08:20:04] But whoever is the nominee, I'm going to be with that person.

And we've got to remember that one of the many reasons we fell short the last election is because we weren't as united as we should have been as a party. So, I have a lot of belief I am the right person to unite this party, unite this country. But if I happen not to be that person, I am going to draw all of my spirit and all of my support behind whoever that person is.

So, I definitely have disagreements with Vice President Joe Biden, but I'm not sucker punching him. I'm very straightforward with my disagreements. But at the end of the day, I respect him. He is a statesman, been at this for decades.

I'm not trying to actually tear him down. I'm trying to prepare our party to deal with the issues that I think voters care about.

CAMEROTA: Well, you do go after him a lot about the 1990s crime bill --


CAMEROTA: -- that he was supportive of. And within that bill was also an assault weapons ban.


CAMEROTA: And when that expired, we have seen a spate of mass shootings.

And so, was it all bad? Was that bill all bad?

BOOKER: Oh, god, so, first of all, I think I'm the only person in this race that had a person killed by an assault rifle on their block last year, Shahid Smith on my block. So I live the scourge of gun violence in my community. In Detroit, I know, we had this horrible shooting in Gilroy, same weekend, seven people were shot here in this city.

So, let's not obscure the fact that we have an urgency on gun violence and the assaults weapons ban was a good and right thing. But also I live in a city, and we are in a city where the criminal justice system built-up over these bills from the '80s, '90s, literally Joe Biden said every crime bill, major and minor since 1970s, that had my name on it -- and these are crime bills that brought us three strikes and you're out, it brought us a crack cocaine, power cocaine disparities, it brought us a 500 percent increase in mass incarceration.

But what's worse as we now stand an outlier in all of humanity, 5 percent of the globe's population, 25 percent of the globe's prison population, overwhelmingly nonviolent offenders. The kids in college -- you know, I went to Stanford. Nobody was getting arrested there for using drugs or dealing drugs, I'm sorry.

The people that are targeted by the war on drugs are from communities like this, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for drugs even though there's no difference in the usage or selling. So, we've got to speak to the fact that right now, there are people unjustly incarcerated, right now because of things that were done in those bills. And if you can't speak to that and put a plan forward to reverse that, I'm going to take you on, not because I'm running for president, but because I've been doing this since I was a law student working in legal clinics trying to fight against this system.

BERMAN: So, that was 1994, that crime bill. Under criticism last night also the themes when Barack Obama was president. There was a lot of focus on things that took place during the eight years that he was office and not painted necessarily in a flattering way.

And one of the things you hear this morning is, if Barack Obama was too far right, or not connected to today's Democratic Party, what does it say about today's Democratic Party? I'm just telling you what we're hearing.

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I miss Obama, and I miss Obama, and I miss her husband, too.


Look, he is our statesman, and anybody who was an executive, I too was an executive for two terms of the city. He ain't perfect. Nobody has ever pulled that off, and I'm sure Barack Obama was sitting here and I hope he's sleeping this morning.

He will tell you, I made some mistakes, and to not point them out to me is, you know, Donald Trump is the guy that my Republican colleagues can't even criticize when he's preaching racism. We are having an honest conversation about an administration that was incredible. I would take him -- heck, if he was running for president for a third term, I wouldn't be running.

The reality is we have a situation right now where we have a president that is doing things to this country perverting our very values and ideals. And talking about what our plans would be different than the previous president, different from the current president is not a bad thing.

CAMEROTA: We started with that line you had about the Kool-Aid and little did we expect that to be the most controversial line on our panel.


CAMEROTA: Our analysts went to town on that line today. They had a field day earlier on the program so we're just going to recap for you.

BOOKER: No, I'm worried. I am worried.

CAMEROTA: You should be worried. So let us play what our panel thought about that line. Here it is.


ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Senator Booker, you know, I love you, man, but I could just see you, what, this is my time, this is my time, here comes the Kool-Aid.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But with black phrases, you don't enunciate like every word.

RYE: But you also know that dip in the flavor.

SELLERS: You don't even know the flavor.


SELLERS: You all up in the Kool-Aid and you don't know the flavor.

(CROSSTALK) APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He was too pedigreed with it.


CAMEROTA: They thought you were using the Queen's English, basically.


[08:25:02] CAMEROTA: What do you think? What's your retort to that?

BOOKER: I'm like, wait a minute, I'm getting torn up by my fellow black people. It's like, well, Booker, do you watch (ph) these barrels of crabs? They're pulling me down for not explicitly stating it like we might do up in the hood.


BOOKER: And then I get points is Cory code switching right now, talking to different people in different ways. Come on. I mean, the heat of the debate, you get up there in front of millions of Americans, have the vice president of the United States distorting your record, do it with a smile and come back with him with something -- a colloquialism that we use in our communities. Guys, wow, you are rough.

BERMAN: For the record there, Mayor Andrew Gillum there, he recused himself.

BOOKER: I love that.


BERMAN: I'm not a part of this. I'm not getting involved in that all.

BOOKER: And, by the way, those folks that were coming in to me, they are friends. I saw some of my sisters there, we'll have some conversations off camera.

CAMEROTA: Senator Cory Booker, thank you, great to see you this morning.

BOOKER: It's very good to be on.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for stopping by NEW DAY and having fun with us. We'll talk again.


CAMEROTA: OK. So why are Democrats challenging a popular former president like Barack Obama? We discuss with our next all-star panel. We have a lot of those this morning.