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CNN Poll Shows The Former VP Once Again Has Double Digit Lead Over His Rivals; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Interviewed Regarding 2020 Election; Donald Trump's Team Showing Signs Of Worry In Talking About A Payroll Tax Cut. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 14:00   ET


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: and how destructive we are being to marine ecosystems, and with that also, to ourselves. Arwa Damon CNN, in the Sargasso Sea.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: That's it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you so much. Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. Thank you for being here.

There may be more than 20 Democrats battling it out for the White House, but there was one thing that unites this party's voters more than anything else. That is making sure President Trump does not get a second term and when asked who checks that all important box, many of those voters say it is Joe Biden. That is according to a new CNN poll, which shows the former VP once again has a double digit lead over his rivals of seven points from late June.

You see their senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in second and third place. Senator Kamala Harris has also seen her number shift. Not in a good way though. She has tumbled now 12 points. Senator Harris is now tied with Mayor Pete Buttigieg for fourth place. While Beto O'Rourke rounds out the top five.

These latest numbers come as Biden's campaign goes on the air in Iowa with its very first TV ad in that state, and when you watch this ad, it really echoes those polls and what Biden has been trying to hammer home since day one, that he is the Democrat's best option for beating Donald Trump.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice over): We know in our bones, this election is different. The stakes are higher, the threat more serious. We have to beat Donald Trump. And all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job, to restore the soul of the nation, battered by an erratic, vicious bullying President. Strong, steady, stable leadership. Biden. President.


BALDWIN: So let's start with our CNN Political Director, David Chaitanya there in Washington and David, you here Joe Biden talking about steady leadership in that ad, but there seems to be these two consistent themes for his campaign -- one, durability; and two, electability.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, let's look at both. With durability, you're right. I mean, you showed that horse race. Look at this, he is back to a double digit lead. I mean, Joe Biden's front runner status is the durable thing of this 2020 Democratic nomination race so far.

Sanders and Warren battling for that second place slot, 15 percent and 14 percent. Buttigieg and Harris round out the top five at five percent.

Take a look at the movement, Brooke, since our last poll in June, and I just want to remind you and our viewers, the June poll that we took was in the immediate aftermath of that first debate in Miami. You remember where Joe Biden took a punch from Kamala Harris. And we saw the effect of that, right?

Joe Biden was down to 22 percent in that poll. Now, he is back up 29 percent, up seven points. I call this sort of the snap back poll. It's where he was before that first debate, and Kamala Harris, you noted her movement. She is down 12 in this poll from 17 percent, back down to the middle single digits here in five percent, near where she was before that first debate.

So yes, that first debate had impact, clearly, but it wasn't a lasting impact. And then the electability matter that you said. Fifty four percent of Democrats in this poll, Brooke, a majority say they're looking for a Democratic nominee that has a strong chance of beating Donald Trump versus 39 percent who say they're looking for a nominee who shares their position on the issues.

BALDWIN: Got it. So, electability, electability, electability is my takeaway there. David Chalian, thank you very much, and as these new CNN numbers, the data is showing Joe Biden may top the polls, but his wife is the one acknowledging he may not be top for many Democrats. I want you to listen to what she told an audience of teachers in New Hampshire.


JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that. But I want you to think about your candidate -- his or her electability -- and who is going to win this race.

I know, my goal is to beat Donald Trump. We have to have someone who can beat him. And so if you look at the polls, if you look at Joe with his record with independents, we can't just have Democrats who are going to win. You know, we have to include everybody.

Our party has to be more inclusive, which means we have to go to independents and say, "Join us." We have to go to Republicans. Your candidate might be better on -- I don't know -- healthcare than Joe is, but you've got to look at who is going to win selection. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, "Okay, I sort of

personally like so and so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.


BALDWIN: So let's start right there. With me now, a 2020 competitor of the former Vice President, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She would like to be the next President of the United States. She is coming to me live from the campaign trail in Manchester, New Hampshire. So Senator Gillibrand, good to have you back. Welcome.


BALDWIN: So with Dr. Biden's message to that crowd, you know, she is basically sitting there and she is saying, "Listen, you know, my husband may not be your favorite candidate, but you need to vote for him, because he is the only one who can beat Trump," and Senator, my question to you is, well, why can't that be you? Why can't you beat Trump?

GILLIBRAND: I actually can, and it's why I decided to run. I do think electability is the most important issue. It's the first, second and third question out of every early state voters mind. And I'm the only candidate who has run who has actually won in a two to one congressional district to one Republican congressional district twice, last time with a 24-point margin.

And in New York State, I have the highest vote percentage in the history of the state, outperforming Trump, outperforming Hillary Clinton, President Obama, any person who has ever run for senator, governor ever, and it's been because I do so well in the red places, the purple places and the blue places.

And I think it's a false choice. Democrats are struggling with, do we need the best progressive who inspires the base? Or do we need a moderate who could win red and purple? Well, actually, we need both. We need a progressive who is for the big ideas, like repealing don't ask, don't tell, like passing a Green New Deal and healthcare-for-all. But also who can win those red and purple places that are necessary to win the general election that's why I decided to run.

BALDWIN: But here, the "but" is this, you know, and you point out you've crushed it in New York, but in order to beat Donald Trump, you know, you have to register with Democrats. And I'm just wondering why you think your numbers on this national scale here, Why aren't they higher in this current primary race? Why are you not connecting?

GILLIBRAND: Yes. I think the measures today are name recognition, and whether you're a national candidate when you started. I wasn't. I was a senator from New York. And the truth is, I'm still leading the national debate on the issues that count. Issues where we can't afford to lose, I'm leading the charge whether ...

BALDWIN: But you know, you know -- GILLIBRAND: ... it is going to the frontlines of Georgia and

Missouri, I'm doing that to talk about reproductive rights.

BALDWIN: I know but you know that you need those, you need the money, Senator. You need those polls, you need the money. Those are criteria, right, to even just get you to the next presidential debate which you have yet to qualify for. So why do you think that you have not connected?

GILLIBRAND: Exactly, and that's why I'm on your show, so people will go to and send a dollar so I can jump through this hoop that the DNC has created, that I need 130,000 donors in the next two weeks. So hopefully your viewers will help me get there. Because we do need a candidate who can bring this country together, who can actually inspire voters, because you're for those big ideas, but you have a record of actually getting things done.

I passed 18 bills in the last Congress, all signed into law by President Trump. He has no idea he signed my bills, but he did. And it's because I find common ground, always, but for progressive liberal causes.

Repealing don't ask, don't tell is one of the major pieces of gay rights legislation in a decade, and I led that charge. Same with finally passing the 9/11 Health Bill permanently, just a couple weeks ago.

So I do get things done, and I win in red and purple, which is why I'm running. And I'm leading the national debate on reproductive rights, on gay rights, on a family Bill of Rights with national paid leave.

BALDWIN: On the donor point, because you do need those -- you do need that and I think it's only a couple more days to qualify. You know, I had read that you said in an interview that calling for Al Franken to resign has hurt you with Democratic donors. How do you know that, Senator? Have they told you that?

GILLIBRAND: Yes, it's been widely reported in the press that certain donors are angry, and frankly, that's on them. But the truth is, I did what was right, and it was really hard. There's nothing easy about calling out a colleague.

But the truth about Senator Franken is we had eight credible allegations that were corroborated in real time to since he was elected. And the last one that came forward was a congressional staffer. And I've been working for months on legislation to change how we deal with sexual harassment in Congress, as well as years on working on sexual violence in the military and college campuses.

So I've been leading on those issues for a long time. And, yes, 34 other senators followed me, some within minutes. It may seem like I'm standing here alone, but many of them are running for President.

And my view is this. Listen, it's not easy, but you have to do the right thing. And we should have the courage to do so. BALDWIN: Let's talk about your policies. You are there in New

Hampshire today, you have said that seeing the toll of the opioid epidemic there helped really frame your policy on mental health, which you rolled out today. Tell me more about that.

GILLIBRAND: Yes, so no matter where I've traveled, and here in New Hampshire, specifically, there's such a lack of access to basic mental health. And there's real ideas about how to provide that -- Community based models, school based models, peer based models. These are the things that actually are getting mental health to the places where we need.

[14:10:07] GILLIBRAND: I've served on the Armed Services Committee for over a decade, I can tell you the number of suicides every day from veterans and service members is about 20. It's disgraceful, but it's the lack of access.

And so I've laid out the most comprehensive approach for how we create access for mental health, and the synergy between mental health concerns, trauma, addiction and other conditions is why mental health should be dealt with the same way as any other health condition. It should have 100 percent parity, both for insurance reimbursement and coverage, but also for availability, and we need to drive young healthcare providers and professionals into mental healthcare to ask them to support the needs we have.

BALDWIN: On mental health, this President has called for more mental health institutions to combat gun violence. In fact, today, CNN is reporting that the President is cooling on background checks, sort of behind the scenes, and you know, it has just been a couple of weeks since those mass shootings in Gilroy and in El Paso and in Dayton, so when you know, when everyone goes back to work, you know, are you less hopeful anything gets done in September?

GILLIBRAND: So President Trump has no courage at all. He is unwilling to stand up to the NRA in any circumstances. And there are so many common sense reforms.

We could do universal background checks, making sure we ban assault weapons and large magazines and a Federal anti-gun trafficking law because we shouldn't have to live in a world where kids doing back to school shopping at Walmart are afraid, where kids are doing shelter- in-place drills as opposed to mathematical drills. It's not what we should be aspiring to. And we know the difference. If you're a mental --

BALDWIN: So how can President Trump get it? You get it. How can President Trump get it? How can Senator Mitch McConnell get it?

GILLIBRAND: I think people need to keep raising their voices. We have mental health issues in every country around the globe. But only in America do you have these mass shootings, do you have gun violence on every street corner in big cities.

And the truth is, it is the access to weapons that is so prevalent, so easy for anyone to walk into a store and get a military style weapon. It should be reserved only for our military. They're designed to kill large numbers of people so quickly.

So I think President Trump just has no courage. He will not stand up to the NRA, and that's why as presidential candidate, I laid out a comprehensive approach to getting money out of politics. Go after the greed and corruption at the heart of everything that's wrong at Washington, have publicly funded elections, have clean elections and deal with political corruption. And I have the most comprehensive approach to do that because I know what we're up against.

It's the chokehold that the NRA has over Members of Congress that make it so impossible for them to vote the right way.

BALDWIN: Another piece of the news today, Senator, in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is gaining new strength after the drawdown of American forces. So if you were to become President, what would you do differently? What would you actually send in more troops?

GILLBRAND: So I have served on the Armed Services Committee for a decade, and I've traveled to the Middle East many times, bringing senators and Congress Members with me. And the last time I assessed what was happening in Syria, we went to Jordan and we went to Turkey, as well as Israel.

And I can tell you this, terrorism metastasizes. It can locate anywhere, it doesn't not need to be in Syria or Afghanistan or Iraq. It can be worldwide, and it can recruit online.

So having mass deployments and having permanent bases in places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan is the wrong approach to defeat terrorism. We should bring those troops home. We should be doing strategic, targeted anti-terrorism missions where the problems arise, just like we did to take out Osama bin Laden. That's the strength and nimbleness of our military today.

And we should be investing far more in cyber defense and cyber warriors, getting the best and the brightest set of our best schools around America to serve this country and protect our democracy, our voting infrastructure, to protect our infrastructure for energy to make sure that we can't have terrorist attacks around the country. That's the priority to keep America safe, not long-term deployments that frankly, result in more, not less terrorism.

BALDWIN: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. The Senator just mentioned the NRA. Well, today, three more resignations in a leadership upheaval. This time a NASCAR owner and a country music star. Plus, President Trump may be talking of the economy, but his team is showing signs of worry in talking about a payroll tax cut.

And another potential violent attack stopped after the suspect posts on social media. We have new details today about the teen's alleged threat against a woman's clinic. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:19:55] BALDWIN: We're back you watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. In public, Team Trump is putting on a brave face when it comes to the U.S. economy dismissing talk of a recession. But CNN has learned that in private, concerns of a recession led some of the President's aides to propose a payroll tax cut as a way to fight any potential downturn.

[14:20:14] BALDWIN: We should note that multiple senior officials tell CNN that they were unaware of these talks, although one person says that the proposal is quote, unquote, "not something under consideration at this time."

Linette Lopez is a Senior Finance Correspondent for Business Insider, and so you know, when you hear that this is -- even though the White House is saying, no, we're not talking about it -- our reporting is that they are sort of planning for maybe a Plan B, C, D in the case of a recession, as you and I have spoken about.

LINETTE LOPEZ, SENIOR FINANCE CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: It might sound like the White House is confused, who knew? Maybe a little mixed up on its policy for once. The payroll tax cut does reek of desperation. What it seems like the White House is trying to do is make sure that consumers keep spending, that's been the strongest part of the global economy. That's what's been keeping the American economy afloat. Even though you hear you know, the stock market is doing X or you know, you're hearing about the yield curve. You're hearing about things slowing down, but the champion of the global economy has been the U.S. consumer.

And so what Trump is trying to do with that payroll tax cut is just to keep more money in their pockets.

BALDWIN: Is there proof that you know, I mean, how much money on average would stay in someone's pocket, for example? And would this be sort of a short term fix, but still a longer term issue with adding to the deficit?

LOPEZ: It is definitely a short-term fix, longer term issue, and we have to remember that, you know, Americans are getting money sucked out of their pockets by this trade war, and by costs that are about to go up in September, and probably again in December.

So, you know, this is a Band-Aid on, I wouldn't call it a bullet wound, but it's certainly something that's going to continue to plague the American consumer, whereas a payroll tax cut, it might not make up for that, especially considering the fact that the Chinese are talking about retaliating, and we don't know what that's going to do to the U.S. economy yet. We haven't really seen that.

BALDWIN: Okay. Consumer spending is roughly two thirds of the economy. Last week, key index show consumer confidence is now at its lowest levels of the year and the second lowest level since Trump took office. Retail sales continue to be strong. So what's your takeaway? Is your sense that, you know, consumers are worried or is it too early to tell? LOPEZ: It's hard not to be worried when you see these headlines, and

that that sentiment does eventually become reality for a lot of consumers because they think, you know, things are going to get more expensive, let me save my money for later.

And then the stock market starts to get a little wonky. This is real stuff. You know, it doesn't feel very much like individual confidence is connected to the economy, but this is also something that affects business investment, which then in fact, affects job creation, and affects how long people can stay at their jobs while the economy is looking sour.

You know, it affects how businesses make decisions about how they'll handle this downturn. If they think it's going to end soon, then they will may not hire workers. They may not cut back on investing. But if they think it's going to take a long time, and like this trade war is going to keep going and things look darker and darker then that's going to hurt the economy because people won't spend the way that they were planning on spending for.

BALDWIN: Sure. Okay. Linette, thank you. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren haven't gone after each other, but their supporters are starting to. How actress Susan Sarandon is taking on Senator Warren.

Plus the new CNN poll showing Senator Kamala Harris taking a big hit since that first debate. So what will her campaign do now?


[14:28:09] BALDWIN: As Joe Biden continues to climb in CNN's new 2020 polling, one candidate is seeing a sizable decrease in support. California Senator Kamala Harris slipped 12 points from a similar poll back in June when she had that standout debate performance against the former Vice President.

Now, I know it is early and there is certainly a lot of time for these numbers to change. But for a candidate who was initially shaping up to be one of Biden's biggest challengers; that decline sends a message.

So let's start there with CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger. Good to see you, Gloria.


BALDWIN: What do you make of this slip on Senator Harris's numbers? Why?

BORGER: Well, I think first of all, she was kind of like this souffle that rose after she took on Joe Biden during that first debate. She did really well. And people said, "Wait a minute, I'm going to give her another look."

And what happens when you get a second look, is you go under a magnifying glass, and you either continue to rise or you plateau or deflate, not to carry the souffle metaphor too far.

And I think that what's happening with her is effectively people are saying, "Wait a minute, how about describing your record on crime when you were prosecutor in California?" You were tough on crime, not a bad thing. But now you're saying that well, Joe Biden was too tough on crime. So are you a bit of a hypocrite there?

So I think that she really has not been able to take advantage of that initial gain that she made. It is early as you point out, so we'll see what happens in the next debate.

BALDWIN: Another piece of this beyond the souffle analogies and thank you for making me want dessert, you know --

BORGER: Always.

BALDWIN: Another way to interpret these numbers here is you have 29 percent of Democrats polled support Biden and then the other 29 percent are split among the progressives, right?

BORGER: Right.