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Democrats Eager to Win the White House; Julian Castro on Defense; Race For 2020, Biden Stumbles; Biden Say's He Had A Good Night In Debate, But Could Have Done Better; CNN Poll, Biden Leads. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 13, 2019 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And it's very concerning that they're rolling back the -- this one is a roll back from 19 -- 1974. I mean --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Right. But then the Obama administration had --

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: -- a boost to these protections. See -- and this is the quite stuff that may have the longest legacy.

LEMON: Like the judges.

CUOMO: The judges, all over this country.


CUOMO: And the sameness of these judges. And I'm not even talking about color and gender. I'm talking about jurisprudential reckoning.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And what they want to achieve.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And we'll start tracking these things so people don't get distracted by the noise.

LEMON: Yes. You're right about that. Listen, I said the other day when he talked about the judges, at least the part where he says, we are appointing a lot of judges all across the country, he's absolutely right and many people don't know about that. They're doing it, and it's a figure of speech, under the cover of darkness.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Right in front of everybody's eyes.

CUOMO: That's what they're doing. So here on Friday the 13th we have that one that's sneaky and you got a lot of others that are right in your face. This Adam Schiff press release that the DNI has a credible claim that has something to do with intelligence and a concern and he's supposed to have he's not getting it? I don't know what it is, but that's a big deal.


CUOMO: You saw we had the vape company guy on here. You know, that's going to be a big deal.


CUOMO: We have to figure it out. It is weird, Don, that the president, in less than 24 hours, changed his tune.

LEMON: Changed. Well, he did the same thing with background checks, remember? He changed his tune on that.

If I can just get back to the water, listen, regardless of what caused it, how it was caused, it's manmade or whatever happened, we know from Flint what happens when we don't protect our -- especially our drinking water in this country. We know the negative effects. And it would seem to me that we would do everything in our power to try to protect that.

CUOMO: It depends on who you're looking out for.


CUOMO: If you're looking out for the people who have the power and put the money in your pocket, you do something just like this.

LEMON: Bolo, be on the lookout. You're not done with closing arguments, are you?

CUOMO: I didn't have time to do them tonight.

LEMON: Quote and statements.


CUOMO: I didn't have time.


CUOMO: I asked your show for a little bit of time. They said Don says no way.

LEMON: I did.

CUOMO: Not to let people in to how it works here.

LEMON: I did not. Careful. We have the rest of Friday the 13th we have. Be careful.

CUOMO: We went along. I wish you the best. LEMON: All right. See you soon.

CUOMO: All the protections to you, my brother.

LEMON: Have a great weekend. I'll see you.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

And you could call this a tale of two events. Democrats taking the debate stage in Houston last night while the president, true to form, unable to give up the spotlight.

The president was serving up a heaping plate of red meat to House Republicans at an event in Baltimore. And the contrast between those two events really, really stunning. Democrats having a substantive debate about one of the most important issues in the country today, health care and how to pay for it.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the Obamacare worked. I think the way we add to it, replace everything that's been cut, add a public option, guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable assurance, number one. Number two, I think we should be in a position of taking a look at what costs are.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer is on Medicare for all, costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations. But for hardworking families across this country, costs are going to go down and that's how it should work, under Medicare for all in our health care system.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And as Joe said that Medicare for all would cost over $30 trillion. That's right, Joe. Status quo over 10 years will be $50 trillion. Every study done shows that Medicare for all is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care to every man, woman, and child in this country. I who wrote the damn bill, if I may say so --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While Bernie wrote the bill, I read the bill. And on page eight --


KLOBUCHAR: -- on page eight of the bill, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it. And that means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The problem, Senator Sanders, with that damn bill that you wrote and that Senator Warren backs is that it doesn't trust the American people. I trust you to choose what makes the most sense for you. Not my way or the highway.



LEMON: And as each of the Democrats try to make his or her case on health care. The president, for, I don't know, the billionth time mocked John McCain for voting against the so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We would have had health care done except for --


TRUMP: -- we had one little surprising vote late in the evening.



LEMON: So let's not forget. This is the administration that is backing a lawsuit that would overturn Obamacare and eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This administration is doing that.

The Democrats giving Senator John McCain who lost his battle with brain cancer last year, a shout out.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The late great John McCain at that moment at about 2 o'clock in the morning killed his --


HARRIS: -- attempt to take healthcare from millions of people in this country.

WARREN: I was in Afghanistan with John McCain two years ago this past summer. I think it may have been Senator McCain's last trip before he was sick.


LEMON: And then there's immigration. The Democrats saying this.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to give up DACA. We're not going to give up protections for anybody.

WARREN: A system right now that cannot tell the difference in the threat posed by a terrorist, a criminal, and a 12-year-old girl is not a system that is keeping us safer and it is not serving our values.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This country has been a magnet for human capital for generations. If we lose that, we lose something integral to our continued success and that is where I would lead as president.

FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Begin with those more than one million Dreamers. Make them U.S. citizens right now in this, their true home country --



O'ROURKE: -- and extend that to their parents, their sisters and their brothers.


LEMON: So, while they were debating reforms to make a fair pathway, a fair pathway to citizenship and to end the inhumane policy of family separation, the president was fear mongering.


TRUMP: You know, we have MS-13 coming in. These are the toughest people you've ever seen, animals. And then if you use the term animal, I mean, look, you know, Nancy Pelosi attacked me because I called them animals. Remember that?


LEMON: And while the Democrats were talking about the climate crisis --


SANDERS: We will address the catastrophic crisis of climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel.

BIDEN: I refuse to postpone any longer taking on climate change. And leading the world in taking on climate change.

BUTTIGIEG: We saw it at the G7. The leaders of some of the greatest power and economies of the world sitting to talk about one of the greatest challenges in the world, climate change. And there was literally an empty chair where American leadership could have been.

KLOBUCHAR: On day one I will get us back into the international climate change agreement. On day two, I will bring back the clean power roles that President Obama had worked on. On day three, I will bring back the gas mileage standards.

WARREN: By 2028, cut all carbon emissions from new buildings, by 2030, carbon emissions from cars, and by 2035, all carbon emissions from the manufacturer of electricity. HARRIS: This is a problem that was created by human behaviors. And we

can change our behaviors in a way that saves our planet.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump's America first policy is actually an America isolated, an America alone policy --


BIDEN: Exactly true.

BOOKER: -- from trade to battling China to the global crisis of climate change.


LEMON: So that's the Democrats talking about climate change. And the president was touting America's energy industry and also saying this.


TRUMP: And then they talk about plastic straws. I said what about the plate? What about the wrapper that's made out of a much tougher plastic? What about all the other plastic? Well, we haven't gotten to that. Just straws. That's the only thing we're worried about.


LEMON: And this.


TRUMP: The light bulb. People said what's with the light bulb? I said here's the story and I looked at it. The bulb that we're being forced to use, number one, to me most importantly, the light is no good. I always look orange.


LEMON: That after the Trump administration rolled back standards on energy efficient bulbs earlier this month and did somebody say windmills?


TRUMP: Did you happen to be watching the Democrat debate and the wind isn't blowing, you're not going to see them, Charlie, what the hell happened to this debate?


TRUMP: He says darling, the wind isn't blowing, the God damn windmill stopped.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Yes, windmills. Let us not forget that Donald Trump battled Scottish officials over a plan to build a wind farm within sight of his golf resort in Aberdeen and he's been complaining about wind power ever since.


TRUMP: You'd be doing wind, windmills.

In times of war, you can blowup those windmills. They fall down real quick.


You can blow up the windmills. You know, the windmills. Boom, boom, boom. Bing, that's the end of that windmill. If the birds don't kill it first.

The environmentalists, we like windmills. What about the thousands of birds they're killing?

Just like a killing field of birds.

If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value.

Try going to the bottom of a windmill someday. It's not a pretty picture.

When the wind doesn't blow, they tend not to do too well.

If it doesn't blow you can forget about television for that night.

Darling, is the wind blowing today? I'd like to watch television, darling.

And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one. OK?


LEMON: Maybe we should do windmill 101, figure out exactly how they work.

Like I said, quite a contrast between what Democrats said last night and what the president said. Quite a difference.

The question is, what will that difference mean to voters? To you in 2020?

Presidential candidate Julian -- Julian, I should say -- excuse me -- Castro getting a lot of attention for his attack to Joe Biden on that debate stage. He says he wouldn't do anything differently.

Well, guess what? There he is. I'm going to ask him why live next.


LEMON: Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro says he was not personally attacking Joe Biden when they were arguing about healthcare policy during last night's debate. Watch.


BIDEN: The option I'm proposing is a Medicare for all -- Medicare for choice. If you want Medicare, if you lose the job from your insurance -- from your employer, you automatically can buy in to this. You don't have -- no pre-existing condition can stop you from buying in. You get covered, period.

CASTRO: The difference between what I support and what you support, Vice President Biden, is that you require them to opt in. And I would not require them to opt in.


BIDEN: They do not have to buy in.


BIDEN: They do not have to buy in.

CASTRO: You just said that.


CASTRO: You just said that two minutes ago. You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in. You said they would have to buy in.

BIDEN: You don't have to buy in. If you qualify for Medicare --


CASTRO: Are you forgetting you what said just two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I mean, I can't believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you're saying they don't have to buy in. You're forgetting that.


LEMON: Julian Castro joins me now. He was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. Good evening, secretary. Thank you for joining us. I was --


CASTRO: Great to be here.

LEMON: -- just getting there I was looking at your face here in this studio as that was playing. What are you thinking as you were watching that?

CASTRO: Well, you know, we had a lively debate about different approaches to healthcare, you know. Ultimately, these debates are about making clear how we differ on these issues and I'm glad that you played that clip, Don, because last night a lot of journalists jumped on this false conclusion.

I don't know if they hadn't seen the transcript or hadn't played the video that Vice President Biden had not said that you have to buy in under part of his plan. And then I pointed out as you saw in the clip, that actually, part of his plan is that you have to buy in and that that would leave 10 million people uncovered, that and other parts of the plan.


CASTRO: And he denied it and that's when I said well, you know, are you forgetting that you just said that people have to buy in? It wasn't -- you know, some folks have suggested that somehow that was a personal attack. It was not a personal attack. I have a lot of respect for Vice President Biden.


LEMON: Ok. Well, let's talk about it. We'll get -- let's talk about the facts and then we'll talk about the personal attack part. And this is -- the were the facts. So, I've got a couple here.

There's one from PolitiFact that calls it what you said about him mostly false. CNN rates your claim partly correct. Biden's plan would require most individuals to sign up or buy in though if they can afford it, right? The buy-in isn't automatic.

PolitiFact again rates it mostly false. It says that the difference is much less than you suggest. So, they're saying basically you didn't have your facts right there.

CASTRO: They're incorrect and CNN said also that I got the 10 million figure right, that his plan would leave 10 million people behind, and also as you just read that actually part of his plan does require people to buy in. Not if you were on Medicaid, but if you have an income that's a little bit higher than that.

So, there are people who would have to buy in. And that's what I was pointing out, you know. The vice president made a big deal yesterday of trying to press Senator Warren and Senator Sanders on how they're going to pay their Medicare for all plan, but when I turned around and asked him about the 10 million people that he's leaving behind in his plan, all of a sudden there's something wrong with that.

There's nothing wrong with that. I mean, this is not about him. It's not about me. It's about the American people. It's about what's going to happen when we try and make our health care system better. And I'm going to fight for the most vulnerable people in this campaign.

I've done that ever since I started my career in public service. I will fight that every single day. And so, I'm glad that we had that exchange.

LEMON: So, the Biden campaign called it a cheap shot. What do you say to that?

CASTRO: It was not, it was not personal. It was about healthcare policy. Look, if I had said this -- if I had said the same thing, you know, or did you forget what you're saying to Cory Booker or if I said that to Pete Buttigieg, would folks be asking me these questions?

This is not about me. It's not, you know, about what I said. This is the media putting a spin on those words and it was obvious why I asked that because he denied that. It was not intended as a personal attack. It was stating the obvious about why he denied --


LEMON: OK. Listen --

CASTRO: -- why he denied something that he had just said.

LEMON: Secretary, I'll let the media reports and headlines and the writing and whatever the broadcast, I'll let that speak for itself.


But for the folks at home, the folks at home also read it that way without a media spin. They were simply watching live, responding live on social media and responding today to people who were polling and they are saying it's not just the media.

They are saying they thought it was a cheap shot and they thought you were talking about the president's -- the vice president's age and his memory that you were calling into question that.

So how do you respond not to the media but to the people at home who took it that way, whether maybe it was your intention or not your intention? That's certainly how people took it and those are the people who will be going to the polls to vote.

CASTRO: I don't think that's accurate. I saw a lot of people today, whether it was on social media or, you know, just out there that took it the way that it was meant, which is to point out that he had denied that his plan would leave out 10 million people.

So, this is the conversation about the most important issue out there. Healthcare. It affects everybody. And, you know, people are always going to have different opinions during these debates. That's why they're debates. We're going to get up there and debate. It was not personal.

I have a lot of respect for Vice President Biden. I've known him for years. We served together as colleagues in the Obama administration.

But when I get on that debate stage, you know, I am going to defend the vision that I have for this country because I'm going to go out there and represent the people who need our help the most and so yes, you know, I'm going -- I'm going to make the differences clear.

LEMON: So just to be crystal clear here, were you trying to say Biden is too old to be president?

CASTRO: No, I was not. And I've answered that question many times. Those -- you know, the other candidates in this race have been asked that question specifically from reporters of whether we think that the vice president, you know, is up in years or not -- shouldn't be in this campaign and I have consistently said that's not the case.

And I say the same thing now. The voters are going to decide which one among us is best fit to take on Donald Trump. What I will say, though, and what your network, CNN, confirmed today in a headline that said Julian Castro is correct about Vice President Biden leaving out 10 million people is his healthcare plan is deficient. It would leave out 10 million Americans --


LEMON: But that wasn't what your argument with him was about. With all due respect, secretary, that wasn't what your argument was about.

I mean, but our overall fact check here at CNN says it was partly correct, not that it was completely correct. But your argument wasn't about that. It was about buying in and on the buy-in part what it says is, is that, it says that Castro used a questionable distinction to charge that Biden had said opposing things within two minutes. But that's an exaggeration at best. The statement has an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

So, this is PolitiFact we rated mostly false.

CASTRO: Yes. They got that wrong. I think they have a misunderstanding of the healthcare approaches. You know, folks really need to pay attention to the significance of him saying that there would be a buy in and exactly who he's talking about.

So, if they were actually to drill down into the policy, they would find that I'm correct. If he requires anybody to buy in like that versus automatically enrolling them, then his plan would leave people behind and that's why I was pointing out.

LEMON: So here we are.


CASTRO: So, you know, it was argument about healthcare policy.

LEMON: How far along are we in this segment? About four minutes? About five minutes? OK. So, we're going about seven minutes into this segment.

And here's the issue. Your policy message -- I'm sure every interview that you have done, your policy messages last night are not what's being talked about. It's that moment that's being talked about. You had other good debate performances, but you're still lagging

behind in the poll, right? One percent in our latest CNN poll. So, do you think this is going to help you or hurt you, what happened last night? What is it going to take to break through?

CASTRO: Look, I think people saw last night that I'm going to fight for a healthcare system in the United States that covers everybody. And I'm going to be uncompromising about that.

And you know, look, these are debates. This is politics. Everybody who's running for president, we know that we're not running for student council. You're running for president of the United States.

And so, you know, I think what people saw was that I'm going to be a fighter for the people who need me to fight for them and I'm going to do that on that debate stage, whether it's with Vice President Biden or with Donald Trump.

I can guarantee you this. If I'm standing on that debate stage in October of 2020 with Donald Trump, I'm going to get the better of Donald Trump too.

LEMON: Are you concerned that by kneecapping, whether it's Biden or anyone, if someone was doing it to you and they thought it was a cheap shot or any of the candidates on stage that you're actually helping or hurting, I should say, the overall goal, which is to defeat the opponent?


CASTRO: Not at all.

LEMON: Which is not really the people on that stage.


CASTRO: Not at all. I think that the voters can sort out based on our policy disagreements who they agree with the most and that's the point of a primary debate. We're going to have differences.

It was not personal. You know, this was about policy. There was a point to it. It didn't come out of nowhere. And I think people can see that.


LEMON: OK. One thing -- one thing before I go, and I have to go. Did you learn anything? What did you learn from this moment?

CASTRO: Well, I mean, I saw that it's confirmed that Vice President Biden's plan would leave 10 million Americans uncovered, and so it was good to get that confirmation.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Secretary. I appreciate your time and thank you for coming on and taking the tough questions. I appreciate it. CASTRO: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: CNN and the New York Times will co-host the next Democratic presidential debate live from the battlefield state of Ohio. It's coming October 15th right here on CNN.

And up next, veteran journalist, a veteran journalist who has seen it all, you're going to want to hear what Sam Donaldson says about all this. That's next.



LEMON: Former Vice President Joe Biden taking heat for his meandering answer to a debate question about the legacy of slavery in America, here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, they have to deal with the -- look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red lining, banks, making sure that we're in a position where -- look, we talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the title one schools, triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise of equal raise getting out of the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the (inaudible), the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home we need -- we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It's crazy. The teachers are married to a teacher. My deceased wife was a teacher. They have every problem coming to them.

We have make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3, 4, and 5-year-olds go to school. Schools, not day care. School. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they'll want to help. They don't know quite what to do.

Play the radio, make sure the television -- excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night. Make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school, a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.


LEMON: So joining me now to discuss, Sam Donaldson, the legendary Sam Donaldson. Thank you. Why are you shaking your head?

SAM DONALDSON, FORMER ANCHOR AND REPORTER, ABC NEWS: Well, I'm shaking my head about what I just heard. Not since Ronald Reagan lost it in his first debate with Walter Mondale early 1984 trying to run for reelection. Have I heard a politician of national impact stumble around, look for words, not answer a question which he was asked directly and he could have answered directly and end up talking about the dictator in Venezuela?

I mean, it raises the problem that Biden has, Don, which is more than whether you agree with him on health care or whether you agree with him on this issue or that issue. Is he up to the job? At times last night the answer would be yes. The first part of the debate, but I guess like a lot of people, no matter what their age, he got tired. I don't know why.

Because he knows better than to just wander around like that. I'm sure that when he watched that this morning, I assumed he had looked at it and he was aghast that he could fumble that way and he gives rise to the idea that maybe he isn't up to the job and you've got to beat Donald J. Trump with a nominee who is and that threatens his nomination and then of course later his election.

LEMON: They just say, listen, families, mothers need help. And studies show that many times people are -- they need help, so get some social workers in there to help them and children, when they're young, need to hear as many words as possible, so, you know, you need to play different sources of them, of hearing people talk and speech and song and that all -- studies show it helped, and then boom. Stopped at that point, but that didn't happen. It was a rambling statement, but why it would go from slavery to that is just very interesting. But I've got to say listen --

DONALDSON: That is the point.

LEMON: Yes, go on.

DONALDSON: That's the point, Don. The question was on what do we do about correcting the legacy of slavery --

LEMON: Slavery, right.

DONALDSON: -- and a lot of that stuff is what he said. Yes, we want our children to be educated. We want them to know words. Maybe we teach them without playing them on a gramophone.

LEMON: I have a record player, so to me it was, you know, with the albums, but I get what you're saying. Listen, so, just around 13 minutes after that, you know, really terrible answer on repairing the legacy of slavery, he was asked how he recovered from life setbacks. This is what he said.


BIDEN: Right after I got elected, my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident and my two sons were badly injured. And I had just been elected, not sworn in. And I lost my faith for a while. I came back. And then later when my son both came home from Iraq and with a terminal disease and a year later, year and a half later losing him was like losing part of my soul, but the fact is that I learned that the way you deal with it is you deal with finding purpose, purpose in what you do. And that is why I hope -- I hope he's proud of me today, because he wanted to make sure I didn't run for president, but I stayed engaged, because when you get hit badly, whether you're losing a job or you're raising a family like my dad where you have to make that longest walk up the stairs to tell your kid you can't live here anymore, dad lost his job.

You know, we all went through that in some form or another. It just takes -- just for me the way I've dealt with it is finding purpose and my purpose is to do what I've always tried to do and stay engaged in public policy. But -- there's a lot of people that has been through a lot worse than I have get up every single morning, put their feet, one foot in front of the other without help I had. They're real heroes out there. They are real heroes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you Mr. Vice.



LEMON: Well, that's evidence of what you were saying. Showcasing part of what makes him appealing. It showcases his ability to connect emotionally.

DONALDSON: That is right. And his first loss with his wife and his child who were hit by a train, he had been elected, but not sworn in. He said that I'm not going to be sworn in. He had to be talked into running in to the senate, which is something that he should have done and he did do, but there's something about Biden, very appealing to hear these stories. And I'm not in any way saying it was wrong of him to do it. It was right of him to do it.

But there's something about Biden that you wonder about the dedication of the job of running for president. Everybody who's successful that I've seen in about 52 years in Washington made it the single biggest thing in his and even her life. Now, you can say that is wrong. You can say family should come first, all of this. I'm not arguing that at all. And I'm just saying to be successful, you have to put even personal tragedy aside to the extent that you focus on the job.

And when Biden said the other day that if it weren't -- you have to beat Donald J. Trump, that is so important, he didn't know whether he wanted to run for president or not. I thought, you know, that is the side of Joe Biden that also makes people think what's his dedication like, what's his fight like?

LEMON: Right. You've got to be singly and focused. And not to cut you off, but I want to get this in before we run out of time. Do you think much changed in the dynamics of this race based on last night?

DONALDSON: Not a lot. Biden is still the front runner for the moderates. There are two or three other moderates on the stage, but he's certainly got the ball. And I think it's between him and the moderates and of course Senator Warren. She is the leader there. And she is tough and she is very good, but you either have to decide you move as fast as the electorate will come along with you or you throw the long ball and say here's the ball, we can have it tomorrow, just trust me, and I think the party will have to decide that and then decide who the nominee will be.

LEMON: Mr. Sam Donaldson, always a pleasure.

DONALDSON: Always glad to be with you, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. Have yourself a great weekend. Thank you. We'll be right back.



LEMON: So race was a big topic in last night's debate. We're going to talk about what the candidates said and what it means. You just heard Joe Biden's answer to a question about the legacy of slavery in this country. He went from education to child rearing to record players. Let's discuss now with what the former vice president said. Cornel West from Harvard University. CNN political commentator, Tara Setmayer. Good evening to both, two of my favorite's right here.



LEMON: You know two of my favorites means I love you guys. So, Professor, it was a rambling answer. An editor for "Time Magazine" tweeted that it was, this is what they say, racist, classist, incoherent, and disqualifying. What do you make of it?

WEST: Well, I mean, I think we have to acknowledge the degree to which, you know, the rich legacy of William Julius Wilson, we just had a wonderful celebration of his life and career at Harvard. You said, you can't talk about race unless you talk about class and you certainly have to talk about gender and you certainly have to talk about the distribution of wealth and income and power.

And so any serious talk about race really has to talk about poverty, hitting poverty head on and making sure that middle classes have access to credit, access to capital, access to resources. It's just another reason why the Byron Allen inspired a case against Comcast is very important in Supreme Court.

How do we talk about black empowerment in the economic front, political front, cultural front? And as you know for me also, the spiritual front. How do we love others, love ourselves, respect ourselves and respect others, no matter who they are.

LEMON: Are you saying that he was trying -- that is what he was trying to get or he missed it?

WEST: I'm saying he missed it. LEMON: OK, got it. I got it. Tara, Biden continues to have tremendous

support in the black community. You know that 42 percent according to CNN's poll this week. He is up 30 points over Bernie Sander who is in second place. Did he help or hurt himself with the voters of color last night, what do you think?

SETMAYER: Well, I don't think for the people who already love him, they still love him. For the people who are on the fence, they are still on the fence. I don't think the answer last night, as inadequate as it may have been, I don't think it really moved the needle any. But I will say this, he has to do a better job of answering these questions.

There should be no question about Joe Biden's commitment to civil rights, to the black community, to the issues that matter to the black community. His record is pretty clear where he has been a champion of civil rights for most of his career. And the fact that he was Barack Obama's vice president for eight years, the fact that the first black president entrusted him to be his right hand, to a harper away from the presidency speaks volumes and that is part of the good will that he sees in these polls and why he is so far ahead with the black community.

I mean, Joe Biden's commitment to the black community and those issues has never really been in serious question. So for it to be now simply because he's not answering these questions clearly I think is an area of significant improvement. They need to improve his performance on these answers, because his heart is there, but he's not articulating it well. And it's going to continue to allow this conversation to fester, but it shouldn't.

LEMON: I don't know if it would be air or not if you said, listen, here's how you start by voting for making me president and I can deal with those issues like Cornell West said, with poverty.

SETMAYER: That is true. He is the best suited to do it. He is the best suited to do it, but they're cannibalizing each other in the process.


LEMON: What do you say about that?

WEST: No, but -- no, because the point is this, though. You see that the Democratic Party lives in the age of Bernie Sanders to the degree to which they are responding to Bernie Sanders talking about Medicare for all. The elimination of student debt, trying to deal with wealth and equality, making sure Wall Street is accountable. They're responding, they are responding but the establishment in the Democratic Party seems to have an attitude of anybody, but Bernie.

So we live in the age of Bernie Sanders, but looks like we don't want to be open to the real thing. He is the real thing. The thing about brother Biden, and Biden is a decent brother. I've said that over and over again. The mass incarceration, Wall Street domination of the economy, education, was he committed to public education when he was supporting the privatization? No. So Biden has a symbolic relation to the black community, but when it comes to real substance, its brother Bernie, I'm telling you.


LEMON: Hold on, Tara, seriously, hold on.

WEST: I know we disagree about that.

LEMON: More on the other side of the break. You guys aren't going anywhere. We'll be right back.

WEST: Well, all right.



LEMON: I'm back now with Professor Cornel West and Tara Setmayer. Professor West, in case you didn't know, he is a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders. You can be sure you can infer from his answer.


Tara, you want to respond to something that professor said on the other side of the break. I'm a man on my word, go ahead.

SETMAYER: Right. And he was advocating that Bernie Sanders was the best guy to take on the issues that we were discussing particularly education and things like that. And I would counter that given Joe Biden's record over 40 years being in the Senate and things that he's accomplished what he's voted for and during the Obama administration, he absolutely supports public schools and the public education system.

I mean, his wife is a teacher. He's married to a teacher. His first wife was a teacher. He understands the challenges in public education. I mean, during the Obama administration they say, advocated $500 million. Allocated $500 million for race to the top. They've invested in early childhood education programs. I mean, me as a conservative I didn't agree with all those things, but you certainly cannot say that Joe Biden isn't committed to public school.

I mean, he even criticized the charter school system against what the Obama administration support. Not because he felt that you needed to invest in public schools.


SETMAYER: I don't think that it's fair to say that about Joe Biden. Not being committed.

LEMON: All right. You responded. We heard what the professor had to say. I want to move on. Because there were other people up on that stage. And one of them professor is Kamala Harris. She's been dogged by her decision as prosecutor. Because she supported policies that hurt people of color. She defended her record last night, watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: I made a decision that if I was going to have the ability to reform the system, I would try to do it from the inside. And so I took on the position. That allowed me without asking permission to create one of the first in the nation, initiatives that was a model and became a national model around people who are arrested for drugs and getting them jobs.

Was I able to get enough done? Absolutely not. But my plan has been described by activist as being a bold and comprehensive plan that is about ending mass incarceration. About taking the profit out of the criminal justice system, I planned on shutting down for profit prisons on day one.


LEMON: Satisfied with her explanations, professor?

WEST: No, not really. I mean, you know, I have a positive view of my dear sister in terms of her brilliance and her style and so forth, but when it comes to substance, again, no brother, you can't criminalize a parent of (inaudible) kids. You can't refuse to follow through on police investigations.

Bill supporting police investigations when they shooting. Especially vulnerable young folk. No matter who they are, but supposedly chocolate. And then third the thing that really pushes me in a critical way towards this to hers is that, she refused to be honest in terms of rendering Mnuchin accountable when it was clear that he committed alleged crimes as an elite.

To let him off free is to allow the rule of law to be tilted against the weak and the poor. Where is he now? He is in the Trump administration. He should have been actually rendered accountable and maybe even on trial or on his way to jail. So that she can't pose to be progressive and then act in that particular way.

And I think in general black folk, we tend to be too sentimental when it comes to black candidates. We have to be loving and critical from the vantage point of the least of these. Poor and working class people.

LEMON: All right. What you said, loving and sentimental.

WEST: Sentimental versus critical. Because you can be loving and critical, you can be both.

LEMON: But the polls showing that there's not so much love there, Tara.

SETMAYER: That's right.

LEMON: If you look at those polls, Harris is not doing particularly well with black voters.

WEST: I know because black people discern what's going on in her case.

LEMON: Tara?

SETMAYER: Yes, I mean, the professor is right about that. She has not been resonating with the black voters. In places like South Carolina where she's invested a lot of time. Joe Biden is still cleaning her clock there. And it's only --it's about time that they brought up her record in California. When she was Attorney General there. When she was a prosecutor there.

But it's pretty questionable. If you're a progressive on criminal justice reform her record is not something once you hear about it, Professor West, he offered some of them. There were others where she doubled down on death penalty cases and on cases where there was a lab technician who screwed up a lot. And she and in the case that should have been thrown out. She's still doubled down on that and kept people in jail. I mean, there are of examples. So she has to answer for.


WEST: Tara, would you agree Biden's record is worse than hers?

SETMAYER: No, I would disagree with that.

WEST: Crime bill, (inaudible).


SETMAYER: Two third of this congressional black caucus supported that crime bill.

WEST: They were wrong too.

LEMON: They will always start argument.

WEST: They were wrong as it can be too. They were wrong as it can be too.

SETMAYER: It's a different environment back then. It's a different environment back then.

LEMON: When it's time for me to end this segue. You always start arguing. It gets good. Why do always do this to me? We'll continue on next time. Thank you both. I appreciate it.


WEST: All right. Thanks, Don. Love you all.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. We'll be right back.