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Man Hijacks Bus Full of Passengers in Rio De Janeiro; Joe Biden Reaches Double-Digit Lead Again over Democratic Rivals in New Presidential Election Poll; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed About Joe Biden's Appeal to Dem Voters and His Double-Digit Lead Over Dem Field. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired August 20, 2019 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- don't already support him as the field gets narrower.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about your candidate, his or her electability, and who is going to win this race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can atone, we can make amends. And when I'm president of the United States, we will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first president who has defied the foundational principle of this country that we are all created equally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump has gotten us into this mess, be we've got to talk about what we're going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your New Day. It is Tuesday, August 20, 8:00 now in the east. And there is breaking political news this morning. A new national CNN poll shows former vice president Joe Biden regaining a double-digit lead over the rest of the crowded Democratic field. It's the first CNN poll since the CNN debates in Detroit. Biden's numbers are nearly double those of his nearest rivals, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Biden's campaign stresses the need to beat President Trump in this just released first TV ad that will air in Iowa this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know in our bones this election is different. The stakes are higher, the threats are more serious. We have to beat Donald Trump. And all the polls agreed Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. Most of all, he'll restore the soul of the nation. Battered by an erratic, vicious, bullying president, strong, steady, stable leadership, Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the new CNN poll also talks about what the Biden campaign has been emphasizing, electability. We're going to have much more on that poll in just a moment.

We're also following breaking news out of Brazil. An armed man has hijacked a bus. You can see the pictures right here. This is happening on a bridge in Rio De Janeiro, and he's threatening to set the bus on fire. Some of the hostages have been released, but the standoff, as you can see, continues at this hour. There's an unknown number of passengers still onboard that bus. We're going to get a live report there in just a moment. We did see dramatic pictures of a woman who was released from the bus. She got off the bus and she fainted. She did get up and walk away. We have that picture up. Let's show that so you can get a sense.

CAMEROTA: We've seen all these dramatic pictures. Look at all the -- there are basically SWAT teams that are surrounding the bus trying to figure out what to do. Watch this. She just was released, and then this moment happens as the SWAT team approaches her, and people at first did want know what had happened to her, but it appears that she has just fainted from the stress of this entire ordeal because she -- at some point they were able to revive her and we did see her get up and be able to walk away after that.

BERMAN: You can see obviously the military there ready there to deal with the situation. There are still people onboard. We'll get a live report in just a moment as this situation unfolds.

CAMEROTA: But let's begin with our new CNN poll. CNN's Political Director David Chalian has all the highlights. Give us the headlines, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Alisyn and John. You saw that horserace. The headline here is Joe Biden's durable run here as the frontrunner in this race. But let's take a look at where things have moved since our last poll in June. Remember we polled right after that first Democratic debate in Miami. And you can see the movement that has occurred with this poll. Joe Biden up seven. It's a snap back to where he was before he took that punch from Kamala Harris in that first debate, now at 29.

The other dramatic movement here is Kamala Harris, a deep dive from 17 percent down to five percent. She's back in single digits where she was before that first debate. So the benefit that she got from that first debate, the harm she did to Biden, it was not long lasting is what this poll is showing.

I also want to show you some of the ideological divide that we're seeing inside the Democratic electorate. Among self-declared liberals it's a three-way tie. Biden, surprisingly perhaps, making a run for these voters. Sanders and Warren, they all have an equal share of self-declared liberal voters. The Biden advantage comes from moderate, conservative Democrats. He's at 34 percent compared to nine percent and seven percent for Sanders and Warren. We also asked about that electability factor. Are you looking for a

candidate who can beat Trump, or are you looking for a candidate who shares your position on the issues. A majority of Democrats in this poll, 54 percent, say they want somebody who has a strong chance of defeating the president, 39 percent, they're looking for somebody who shares their position on the issues.

But take a look at some of the demographic groups on this question. It's really interesting how they split. College education, white noncollege educated voters, they split roughly evenly with a slight advantage with somebody who shares their position on the issues. But if you're a college graduate, my God, overwhelmingly you're looking for somebody who has a strong chance of beating Trump.

And we see a similar thing with age, even more dramatic, in fact, in the split.

[08:05:00] Those over 45 years old, you see here, 66 percent of them want somebody who has a strong chance of defeating the president compared to 25 percent shares your issues. If you're a young person, you're looking for somebody who shares your position on the issues, 56 percent of those under 45 say so compared to 41 percent looking for a strong chance of beating Trump. But clearly you saw a majority of Democrats want somebody who can defeat Trump, and Joe Biden is the one making that argument more than anyone to these voters right now, and it's working for him.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you very much for explaining all of that. We want to bring in now Abby Phillips, CNN White House correspondent, as well as Jonathan Martin, CNN political analyst and national political correspondent for "The New York Times," and Sabrina Siddiqui, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The Guardian U.S." Great to have all of you help us analyze what we're seeing in these numbers. And so Sabrina, is it safe to say that what voters are telling pollsters at the moment is that they want the safe choice, they want to go with a known commodity?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE GUARDIAN U.S.": Insofar as we're looking at these early polls, it does seem to be the case that Joe Biden's argument around electability is resonating with likely Democratic voters. It's very early and there's a lot of time until the primaries actually begin in earnest, but you do see that he has bounced back from that first debate where his performance was widely panned, and the second debate where he was at the receiving end of a number of attacks didn't really change the status quo.

It's important that he does do better among those Democratic voters who are more moderate or conservative as opposed to liberal Democrats. He also does better among older Democrats as opposed to younger likely Democratic voters. And so there's two questions. One is who actually shows up to vote in these primaries? Are the people more energized to cast their ballots going to be those more progressive voters who are more likely to lean toward Warren or Sanders, or these middle of the road centrist Democrats who are looking toward Biden?

And two, as the field narrows, is he going to be able to hold that kind of a commanding lead when you do look at the fact there's more of a three-way tie if you look among those more progressive voters between Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden.

BERMAN: I agree it's early in the sense we're still talking about the summer of 2015, but Iowa is in February, which isn't forever from now, and there are still data point. There have been data points now for voters to look at. There have been two debates already, which had millions and millions of viewers, and there's also been a summer of campaigning. And Joe Biden hasn't received universally fantastic reviews for that. And yet, Jonathan, you have this resilience, which I think is the story of this poll, which is resilience for Joe Biden.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the durability of Biden heading into Labor Day I think would have surprised people if you would ask them immediately after that June debate if he would still be in this position, but it does speak to the good will he still has with older Democrats, moderate Democrats especially. And those Democrats who, as David expertly pointed out, prioritize winning over sharing issue sets.

I will hasten to add, John, and please don't attack me for saying this, but the Iowa polling at this point is probably as important, perhaps more important, than national surveys, although this is a very helpful survey in terms of telling us where the various groups are on demographics. But in terms of the horse race, I think the Iowa numbers changes everything. If someone not Joe Biden wins Iowa, that changes the entire race. And we haven't seen recent data out there, but I think Warren is probably up there with Joe Biden if not surpassing him in that state. And of course that can change everything.

CAMEROTA: You're saying, J. Mart, that there aren't recent Iowa pollings, that's the all-important numbers we should be looking at? You haven't seen anything lately?

MARTIN: Not in the last two weeks. There was a Monmouth survey out there that had Biden still up. But if you talk to folks on the ground in Iowa, they will suggest to you that Warren is at or near the top right now.

BERMAN: It's notable that Biden went up with an ad in Iowa.

MARTIN: Very notable, and Kamala Harris, too, John. So in the last two weeks you've got Kamala Harris and Joe Biden go up on TV in Iowa, which tells you something. They wouldn't do that if they weren't looking at numbers out there and thinking I've got to push my numbers in this state.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But the connection I think between these two things, though, is that these early state voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, they take that responsibility very seriously. And to the extent that these national polls are telling us something about where the broader electorate is, they're also signaling to those early state voters the strength of these candidates. And I think that that does start to matter. For a Joe Biden it reinforces the sense among Democratic voters that if they think that Biden is the strongest, a lot of other Democrats agree too. People like Warren also ascending.

[08:10:07] And then for the candidates who continue to middle in the single digits or are dropping, namely Harris, it is a major warning sign going into Iowa when everyone is trying to retrench into that state. They have to convince voters that they have the staying power in this race. That's -- polls are not everything, but in some sense they do signal a lot to voters. A very small portion of the Democratic Party is voting in these early states in Iowa and New Hampshire, but they're incredibly influential, and they take that responsibility very seriously by looking at where they think that other Democrats believe these candidates are and how strong they are going into a general election.

CAMEROTA: Sabrina, John and I have been interested in hearing what Jill Biden, Joe Biden's wife, the case she is making to voters. So here is a snippet of her at a New Hampshire campaign event last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S WIFE: 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, health care than Joe is. But you've got to look at who is going to win this election. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, OK, I personally like so-and-so better, but your bottom line has to be we have to beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: We've been joking about what her motto is, my husband, he's good enough. It's not the strongest endorsement, but it is possibly a winning one based on these polls.

SIDDIQUI: Well, especially when you look at the fact that a slim majority of Democrats according to those polls say that they're number one priority is beating Donald Trump, and that really has been the premise of Joe Biden's campaign strategy. Look, he's not actually trying to build a grassroots movement. Now, he doesn't necessarily have to given the name recognition he has and the good will he has in the party, to Jonathan's point. He's someone who is just saying that we need a return to normalcy, and elect me, I'm the best positioned to take on Donald Trump, or elect me as the nominee for the Democratic Party, whereas someone like Bernie Sanders or a candidate like Elizabeth Warren, they really want to galvanize these increasingly progressive base around the issues.

And so the question is when it comes time for the Iowa caucus and for the early voting states to actually make that decision, are voters going to be headed to those polls with an eye on electability, or are they going to be headed to those polls with an eye on issues like health care, like income inequality, and some of the other policy areas that the candidates have talked about.

MARTIN: But John and Alisyn, real fast, I think Joe Biden there sounds so much like a Philadelphia politician, not just the accent but also that kind of brass tacks assessment of, folk, we've got to win this thing, get behind the horse that can win the campaign. She sounds like a good precinct pol there talking about the election.

Look, what's striking to me is not just Jill Biden's comments last night. It's that ad that you played a snippet of where they literally showed the polling in that ad with handy bar graphs stretching across the screen indicating that Biden is the strongest candidate to beat Trump. The campaign of Joe Biden is very much leading into the argument now that he can win. Guys, I can't recall a campaign that was this forward leaning on electability this early in a primary besides Joe Biden. That is really moving to become the central message of this campaign.

CAMEROTA: Well, Jill Biden has been around Pennsylvania politics for a long time, so she does know the lingo.

MARTIN: Yes, she has. I love it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news. A standoff of more than three hours just ended, we are learning, in Rio De Janeiro. Police say an armed man hijacked a bus with dozens of passengers on board. We just learned that police shot the hijacker when he stepped off the bus and threw something at them. Let's get right to CNN's Shasta Darlington who is live in Brazil with the breaking details. Shasta, what can you tell us?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, as you said, this has been a tense situation for three hours now. There has been this standoff on this major bridge that connects Rio De Janeiro to the neighboring city Niteroi. A hijacker, basically, with more than 30 passengers onboard forced this bus over, has been holding passengers on board. He did release six passengers at one point.

But what we just saw is that when he stepped off the bus, a local journalist heard six shots. It appears that police shot him in the leg, and the hope is that this really does bring an end to the standoff. But again, with still roughly 30, 31 hostages aboard, we have to see how this plays out for here going forward. It still isn't known what the motives of this kidnapper were.

[08:15:04] It isn't known really what he was hoping to get out of it. He said he was going to try to light the bus on fire.

The bus was headed from this neighboring city of Niteroi to Rio, a major thoroughfare cutting across the bay has been cut off paralyzing the city. So, you can imagine everyone is glued to their phone or their TV trying to figure what's going on and to see how this will end, John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Shasta, was he killed? Do we know?

DARLINGTON: Alisyn, we don't know. What we believe is that he was shot in the leg. Again, a journalist on the scene, heard six shots fired and applause coming from the sort of group of police standing around. But we don't know how serious any of these injuries were and again what the motive was, Alisyn. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Any sense of if anyone on the bus was

injured, either in the standoff or apprehension?

DARLINGTON: We -- the six passengers that were released, there have been reports some of them were feeling bad, sort of fainting, but at this point no reports of injuries as a result of any attack by the kidnapper himself. Again, we'll have to follow up and see what we find out as the other hostages are released and hopefully these tensions climb down, John.

CAMEROTA: We do have this video, Shasta, of this woman who was released. One of the passengers said she faints right as the SWAT team was approaching. It's obviously very alarming to look at because you don't know what had happened, but we watched and -- they were able to revive her and she was able to walk away.

But obviously, they're having at least the mental anguish of having to live through this ordeal.

Shasta, thank you very much for all the facts. Let's bring us more as soon as you know them.

All right. Back here, it sounds like the Biden campaign wants voters to put electability over policy. One of Biden's biggest supporters is here next on that idea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:08] CAMEROTA: You're about to hear from Jill Biden last night at a New Hampshire event making the case for electing her husband. Here's the sound bite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, health care 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, OK, I sort of personally like so-and-so better, but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Wasn't that worth waiting for?

All right, let's bring in Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.

Senator, great to see you.

This morning, we've been joking about --

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Thanks --

CAMEROTA: -- you don't often hear that message from the spouse of the candidate, which is basically like my husband, not your first choice but not so bad. COONS: Well, Alisyn, that's not really what I think Jill Biden was

saying there because I've known Jill and Joe for decades. One of the great things about them is how close and committed to each other and supportive of each other they really are.

What Jill is doing, again, is being this sort of pragmatic voice in leadership that she has for so long been and saying, look, Joe has clearly locked up 30 percent of your primary electorate. Your poll this morning shows he is the only Democratic with a double digit lead poll of poll after the Miami debates, the Detroit debates and as we go forward to the Houston debates. He has consistently shown real strength.

But she's also recognizing that the longer this primary contest goes on and the more it remains divisive and we've got 20 or 22 or 24, how many more candidates, the more that helps re-elect Donald Trump, the vast majority of Democrats who are supporting Joe Biden now as I am do so because they know his character, his capabilities, his experience. The new ad he's got up in Iowa I think summarizes the case well.

And the most important issue for Democrats is finding the candidate who can beat Donald Trump and that is clearly Joe Biden.

CAMEROTA: But, Senator, is it your perspective or belief he has locked up that 30 percent? But 30 percent isn't actually really enough. I mean, if you look at all the poll, the new CNN poll that's out this morning, if you add all the candidates, you know, it's such a big field -- if you add all the other candidates together then actually 30 percent isn't enough.

COONS: That's right. And, Alisyn, if all the other candidates together coalesced into one person that might change the outcome, but the reality as you know those dozen or two other dozen supporters may gradually gravitate to the smaller field of three or four who will actually be in this race later this fall. And they'll probably split equally which means Joe Biden will quickly get to 50 percent. There's a reason to keep this a horse race as long as possible and I think it's healthy for a party to have a vigorous debate about our party election going forward.

But I think the numbers this morning in your poll for Joe Biden are strikingly strong. And there are a number of candidates failing to take a off or in one case that really lost ground, that deserve an equal amount of conversational time or talk about this poll.

To me, the larger issues the way president Trump continues to deal with not just ignoring but destabilizing things, whether it's ignoring North Korea's missile launches or threatening the leader of the Fed, something that doesn't get a lot of coverage but the idea our president would publicly harass and challenge the leadership of the Federal Reserve in order to advance his own reelection is something we haven't seen before in the modern era.

The challenges we face from climate change to gun violence lack real leadership from this president and if Joe Biden were our president, he'd be leading any every one of these issues. CAMEROTA: We do have some new sound just in from Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo in which he appears to be contradicting something the president has said recently. Let's listen to that for one second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Gotten back to the table as quickly as we would have hoped. But we've been pretty clear all along. We know they'll be bumps along the way. We --

HOST: They're firing short -- they're testing short-term missiles.

POMPEO: They've fired short range ballistic missiles.

HOST: Does that his concern you?

POMPEO: Yes, I wish they would not.

HOST: Yes.

POMPEO: But in the end, Chairman Kim made a commitment to President Trump in Singapore of June last year where he said he was prepared to denuclearize. Our team's effort at the State Department is to deliver to that on behalf of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: I guess the secretary of state there expresses more concern about these six launches since the beginning of July than President Trump does.

COONS: Yes, Alisyn. You know, the challenge here is that in this reality TV administration, someone like Secretary Pompeo is playing the reality half while our president continues to play the TV half.

[08:25:09] The reality is that Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea, despite our president's repeated professions of affection and support for him has taken no concrete steps to denuclearize. In fact, his repeated threatening missile launches are really rattling our key allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, and should make all of us concerned about the safety and security not just of our allies but the American troops and families positioned in the region.

It's time for the administration to step up and be clear Kim Jong-un is not keeping his commitment.

CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Coons, thank you very much. We appreciate having you on this morning.

COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: John?

BERMAN: All right. So, one journalist writes this morning: America is the first country to ever elect a mad king and the way things are going, he writes, we might be dumb enough to do it twice. The blueprint to a Trump victory he reveals next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do I think I'm going to win? Yes. Do I think I have more enthusiasm now than I had before this, you know, the 2016 election? Yes.

END