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CNN Poll Shows Biden Regains Double-Digit Lead Over Democratic Field; Jill Biden Emphasizes Electability In Appeal To Democratic Voters; Planned Parenthood Drops Federal Funds Over Abortion Restrictions. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And the breaking news this morning, a brand new CNN poll that shows former Vice President Joe Biden ascendant. He has expanded his double-digit lead over Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. A significant number of Democratic voters say the priority is beating President Trump and Biden is the guy who can do it.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: So Biden's campaign is hitting that electability message hard in Iowa, targeting voters there with a new ad. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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. No one is more qualified.


CAMEROTA: All right. So this ad sets up a contrast touting Biden as strong, steady and stable, and slamming President Trump as an erratic and vicious bully. All of this unfolds with just more than one week left to qualify for the next primary debate. So how will this new poll impact the Democratic contenders?

CNN Political Director David Chalian joins us live from Washington. He is breaking down all of these numbers for us. David, go.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Alisyn, good morning. You saw John showed you the horse race there showing Joe Biden with that double digit-lead. But take a look at the change since our last poll, which was conducted at the end of June, right after that first debate that the Democratic contenders participated in in Miami.

Joe Biden up seven since then. The only other major movement is this Kamala Harris drop of 12 points from 17 percent in the immediate aftermath of that debate when she landed a punch on Biden now back down to 5 percent.

This poll is sort of the bounce back. Joe Biden returning to his dominant place, Kamala Harris going back down into single digits, that first debate had impact, but it wasn't long lasting.

I want to also show you something in this poll about the ideological break down that we are seeing across Democratic primary voters. Look at this, among self-declared liberals, the top three, Biden, Sanders, Warren, they're in a dead heat, battling over liberals.

When it comes to the moderate and conservative Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, Joe Biden wins that group going away. This is going to be critical for Joe Biden's continued success in this race.

Now, we ask, who do you think you want as a candidate, somebody that can beat Donald Trump or somebody that shares your positions? A majority of Democrats still, 54 percent, want somebody with a strong chance of beating Trump, 39 percent, somebody who shares their positions. That's a bit lower than we've seen before.

And take a look at some of the demographic splits on the issue, college educated versus non-college educated white voters. If you're a college-educated voter in this poll, 65 percent want a Trump defeater. Only 29 percent shares your position. If you're white non- college educated, a key group for Joe Biden and a key for Bernie Sanders, they are looking for somebody that actually shares their positions on the issues, more than a Trump defeater.

And take a look at another demographic split on this, age, if you are 45 or older in this poll, you want Donald Trump gone no matter what. That's what you're looking for in a candidate, 66 percent to 25 percent. But if you're a young person, this is where the ideological poll comes in. You're looking for somebody who agrees with you on the issues more than you're looking for somebody who has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump.

BERMAN: All right. David, stick around, don't go anywhere, Alisyn and I both jumping out of our seats (ph) with more questions here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we're that excited.

BERMAN: All right. Joining us, Abby Phillip, CNN White House Correspondent, and Shawna Thomas, Washington Bureau Chief for Vice News.

And, Shawna, Joe Biden didn't have a great first debate. He didn't have a great second debate. He went to Iowa and he had some verbal stumbles, people say, and yet his lead grows, not shaken in the polls here. What do you see?

SHAWNA THOMAS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, VICE NEWS: His lead grows as well as everyone can see from your poll what Senator Kamala Harris was able to do in the first debate didn't have lasting power in the polls.

I do think it did have lasting power when it comes to putting her from front of people. She got a lot of media coverage for that.


That's interesting.

But the thing that I keep coming back to in this poll is that I think I counted, I think, it was 19 percent who didn't have an opinion or were not sure. That's a 19 percent that maybe Elizabeth Warren can get, that's a 19 percent that maybe someone else can get.

And then when you start to combine those people who were in the 1 percent category or even the 2 percent category, you start to see like there's still a lot of room for these people to grow. There's still something to fight for, even with Joe Biden's impressive showing in your poll.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's exactly right. Abby, the good news for Joe Biden is that he's at 30 percent. The bad news is that he's at 30 percent. And that means if you do the math and add other people up once the field consolidates, he's at 30 percent.

I mean, who knows what happens at that point, obviously it's early days. John and I have a debate about how early these days are. But what is the message to the White House, I would say, from this poll?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear that Joe Biden is the candidate to beat right now, which frankly, the White House is known for a long time. They have always believed that Joe Biden would potentially pose the strongest challenge to President Trump and that he has, based on what the numbers have shown pretty consistently throughout this primary, he seems to be the person holding on to the lead in this Democratic primary despite what seems to be a desire among more liberal Democrats to look at other people.

But if you're Joe Biden, and you're looking at this poll, you see what his advisers are seeing as his path. Yes, he is splitting the liberal vote among Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren almost evenly. And if you look at all the other categories, if you look at moderate Democrats, if you look at independent-leaning Democrats, Joe Biden is the guy leading, and I think he sees his path in the middle there.

And so far, it's been working for him, because that liberal slice of the Democratic Party, it's still just a slice of the Democratic Party. And there is -- if he can consolidate the rest of the party, he might have the best chance of edging out the more liberal candidates in Warren and in Bernie Sanders that have been giving him, I think, the biggest race up until this point.

BERMAN: And then when you talk about the electability argument, David, not only do you have the new ad going up in Iowa, in August, which is significant, that the Biden campaign is choosing to spend now there shows the importance of Iowa in their mind, saying you can feel it in your bones. You know that beating Donald Trump is the most important thing.

But then you have Jill Biden using her inside voice out loud last night, as you say, David, in New Hampshire, where she makes clear that nothing else matters as far as she is concerned. Listen to what she said.


JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that. Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, healthcare than Joe is. But you've got to look at who's going to win this election. 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.


BERMAN: Maybe not the flavor you like, but this is what you're getting for dinner.

CHALIAN: Yes, it's amazing. I mean, those comments were startling to hear because, you know, I've Had Biden aides tell me, hey, you say electability is part of his rationale. It's not part of his rationale. He's restoring the soul of the country. Yes, clearly, restoring the soul of the country is something he put in the ad, he debuted with.

But listen to the candidate's spouse. Look at the new ad where their dollars are being spent. They put up poll charts in their ad. I thought politicians usually say, the only polls that matter are on election day. Apparently not, they matter in the very first television ad that the Biden campaign is running because electability is a key argument that they want to make. They see a majority of the electorate is looking for somebody that can be the Trump slayer in November of 2020. And Joe Biden is leaning into that as a strength.

Listen, this poll, the story of this race right now so far has been the durability of Joe Biden as the frontrunner in this race, and he is clearly trying to extend that advantage by leaning into this argument that he is the one that can defeat Donald Trump above all others.

CAMEROTA: Shawna, I heard you're chuckling during that moment.

THOMAS: Well, I did. It's also why the question about can you beat Donald Trump and sort of the breakdowns of it is so important. Because that actually signals that Joe Biden's message is probably the correct message for this election, that if you focus on beating Trump, you win white college educated voters, you win other people who are committed to voting.

And I find that really interesting that he's saying, okay, this was the message that I think will work, I am number one and your poll says that's the message people want to hear, how can you beat Trump. That's what people care about.

PHILLIP: Jill Biden may be on to something here when she is talking to liberal voters who they probably know disagree with Joe Biden, especially on the issue of healthcare.


There are a lot of the liberal voters who think he is wrong about that. And they would probably be kind of tone deaf to ignore them or to not speak to that.

So, I mean, I'm not saying there is a strategy in what Jill Biden said, but there might also be some value in doing that for a Biden candidate to say to liberals, we hear you, we understand that you don't agree with us on this issue, but look at this other thing. I mean, it would be a mistake for Biden to assume that the entire Democratic Party and it's obviously wrong that the entire Democratic Party is behind him on his approach to healthcare.

BERMAN: Can we put up the overall horse race again because there's one piece of math that people are doing, I think, when they look at these numbers, David Chalian. They're saying that Joe Biden is at 29 percent. But if you add up Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that equals 29 percent. So if you have all of the progressives ban together, they are doing just as well. And that's true if you look at it that way.

But the other side of that is that I'm not sure the Bernie Sanders voters and Elizabeth Warren voters are one in the same.

CHALIAN: Well, they're not entirely one in the same. There is clear overlap, no doubt about that. But I don't think you can add those together and assume that if one of those candidates were to drop out of this race that they would immediately consolidate all of that support. In fact, we see Bernie Sanders doing quite well with white non-college educated Democrats, right? Well, that is also a place where Joe Biden, you know, Lunch Bucket Joe or however he refers to himself, has appeal as well. So I don't think you can just combine them Sanders and Warren.

I do think though, John, you do see that progressive appeal, that disruption appeal, that not restoring to something that has been, I think that's a common thread across those two candidates and you can understand that there is combined a serious piece of the electorate that the Biden campaign has to consider as they plot out their strategies.

CAMEROTA: Shawna, speaking of other candidates, what do you think is happening with Kamala Harris, because she did have that breakout moment and so many people, her town hall, one of her first town halls on CNN, was the most watched. So many people are interested in her and intrigued by her. And so why do you think she hasn't gotten more traction in this latest poll?

THOMAS: I mean, that's hard to tell because there's just too many candidates. I mean, you all joked about you all aren't sure where we are in the race if you're at the beginning, and I'm curious about what that fight has been like. But there's --

BERMAN: I'm losing. THOMAS: Well, you are the guy. You're the man, so it's fine. But it's hard to tell why she isn't breaking out. But I think it's just there's too much going on and people don't quite know who she is.

I'm not going to bring up your competitor's name, but another news organization had another poll very recently. And I looked at the approval ratings of people. They didn't do a head-to-head matchup, they did approval ratings.

And going back to this, a lot of people don't know who people are. In that poll, 17 percent of people did not know -- of registered voters, didn't know who Elizabeth Warren was, didn't know her name or didn't have an opinion. For Bernie Sanders, it was about 4 percent, right?

So there's still more people can learn. I didn't look at Kamala Harris' numbers. But there's more people can learn about people. And I just think we are too early. She has a role on the debate stage. That's like -- the field is winnowing itself in a way because of the debate coming up. We'll see if she's able break out and make that message.

But, you know what, a lot of people know who Joe Biden is, they know what he stands for, and they think he can beat Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Shawna thinks it's too early. Shawna thinks it's way too early.

BERMAN: I just think you can't say it's a year away, the election, anymore. Because I was in February, and we have seen races solidify, not all of them but we have seen some, including the Republican race, which had this many candidates four years ago, solidify in August.

THOMAS: It hasn't solidified yet?

BERMAN: I don't know. That's what I'm saying. I don't know but I know but we have seen it happen before.

Look, what I do know is that Senator Harris, there's been sampling among voters. She had that really buffo entrance into the race in January with a rally, he had the big first debate and voters have taken a look twice, at least now, and not stuck around.

And I do wonder, Abby, what's your take on this, if she's having trouble sustaining an argument once she makes it.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, you know, I think that what happened with Harris is that you're seeing that sugar high from that debate wearing off, and she's going back to kind of where she kind of was before the first debate when she was meddling in the five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten range, the five to ten range, and part of it is because voters aren't sure that they want to settle on her.

If you look at the poll, to Shawna's point, our poll, when you ask voters who they want to hear most about, they say first Elizabeth Warren and then they say Kamala Harris. So there is a lot of interest there in Kamala Harris but it's not to the point where she has been able to get people to make a final decision on her.


And you have seen something different happening with Warren, where she cruised along kind of under the radar for quite some time. People thought that she was dead in the water, even President Trump maybe thought she was dead in the water, and you heard him regretting that a little bit over this last week saying, maybe I tried to hit her too hard too early.

But what she's been able to do is have a unique message to voters that says, I have a plan for all of these various things. And voters have, in turn, said to her that they're willing to make her one of their top choices.

And Kamala Harris has not been able to do that in part because she's actually, in a lot of ways, battling for this Joe Biden lane, the moderates, trying to say to voters, you know, I'm not all the way where Elizabeth Warren is on some of these issues, but she hasn't been able to take those voters away from Joe Biden. The electability argument is so strong right now that Biden is really, really running away with that vote.

BERMAN: All right, friends, stick around for one minute. We want to get some breaking news we're just getting into CNN coming out of Brazil. I think we have some pictures we're going to show you.

These are live aerials of a bus hijacking on a bridge in Rio de Janeiro. Local media reports that an armed man is holding an undetermined number of passengers hostage. Police are trying to negotiate with the hijacker.

Now, we were just told that at least one, maybe more of the hostages has been released. There's a video right there. The bridge is closed in both directions. Obviously, the police and authorities there are trying to figure out a way to bring this to a peaceful end.

CAMEROTA: We'll bring you more details as soon as they come into our newsroom.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is giving up millions of dollars in federal funding because of a new rule coming from the Trump administration. We discuss this and the fight over the abortion next.



CAMEROTA: Planned Parenthood will forego about $60 million in federal funds rather than comply with a new Trump administration gag order that would forbid its clinics from making referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. The new rule says while clinics may continue to talk to patients about abortion, they may not suggest where to go to obtain one.

BERMAN: Joining us once again, David Chalian, CNN Political Director, and Abby Phillips, CNN White House Correspondent, and Shawna Thomas, Washington Bureau Chief for Vice News.

There are two issues here, Alisyn. I know this is something that you've been looking at all night. There's the political issue here, which is abortion opponents see this as a win, but then there's also an access argument here for low income women. What are they losing here by this action?

CAMEROTA: Well, they are losing birth control, and abortion opponents should be pro-birth control, okay? If you're going to use logic, if you want to cut down on abortion, you should be pro-birth control. And this will rob Planned Parenthood of $60 million that goes towards birth control services, Shawna. And so this is just not good for any woman who wants to be able to control her own reproduction.

THOMAS: And Planned Parenthood says they do have some emergency funds to try to make up for this. But Planned Parenthood is where a lot of people go, as you point out, for information, for STD testing and birth control. And that is, you know, I think about when I was younger and I was a teenager, I went to Planned Parenthood for information on birth control, as did my friends. If -- and they are sometimes the only place for miles and miles and miles where women can get that.

So it is an issue, but I do think the other side, abortion is a fraught issue, especially when you bring in this idea of religion into it. And so it's one of those things where you can see that if you are on one side of this argument and you think Planned Parenthood should not have access to government money because government money should not go towards abortions.

Now, Planned Parenthood has always said those two pots are separated, they make that clear, then you think of this as a win, and that is a win for the Trump administration, especially going into an election.

BERMAN: If Planned Parenthood will still get some federal money from Medicaid, this is just one pot of money that they're losing, about $60 million. And, David, if you're talking about the culture wars, and there's some indication that the Trump campaign in 2020 is going to lean into that, this is an area where they can tell some of their voters, we have succeeded, where other past Republican administrations have not, if the goal is to fight Planned Parenthood.

CHALIAN: Right. No doubt about the fact that this issue can work for both bases of the party. I mean, you can see how the Trump administration, we want to message that to some voters.

I would argue though, John, that if this election is going to be fought like the 2018 midterm election, where suburban women are going to make the difference here, and we saw them in many places move significantly to the Democrats than where we saw them in 2016, I don't know how loudly the Trump administration is going to want to state that message. It may be much more targeted to core conservative base. But it is clearly not going to be, I would imagine, one of their persuasion messages if they have any of those at all.

CAMEROTA: And, Abby, just give us a little bit more insight into this. Does the Trump administration really feel that depriving funds for birth control access is a winning message or strategy?

PHILLIP: Combating Planned Parenthood is a top priority for this administration. I mean, I think there's no other way to look at it. This is an administration that has been incredibly forceful on this issue, depriving Planned Parenthood as an institution, which is seen by evangelical Christians as a vehicle for abortion of federal resources.

And that's what this is all about. It is a signaling exercise to the president's base, the evangelical coalition, that he has had a hold on since the election.


It is so important to them that this is something that the president's aides, many of whom actually have for their political careers, have been much more conservative on the issue than the president himself, have been pushing extremely hard.

And it is not a persuasion message for independents, but this is a White House and a campaign that is laser-focused on holding on to the Republican voters who have stuck with the president up until this point. And they know that they absolutely have to do that, even if they might want to persuade persuadable voters, they absolutely must hold on to the conservative voters who have been with the president up to this point.

CHALIAN: And, John, can I just say, we ask all the time, with everything we learned about President Trump, how is it that evangelical Christians stay with him? How is it that conservative Christians were up in arms over Bill Clinton's behavior but they just are silent on Donald Trump's behavior? It's because of issues like this, this and judges, right? I mean, it is precisely because of this that he is able to remain, to have that steadfast loyalty from that constituency.

BERMAN: All right. David, Shauna, Abby, thank you very, very much.

It's not only Democrats trying to deny President Trump a second term. One Republican has already entered the primary contest. Former Massachusetts Governor William Well joins us next.