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Highlights of the 2020 Democratic Fiery Debate. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2019 - 04:00   ET




ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: American families, someone watching this at home right. If you believe that you can solve your own problems better than any politician, go to and tell us how $1,000 a month will help you do just that.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: "The Price is Right." EARLY START continues right now.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody's yet said how much it's going to cost the taxpayer.


BRIGGS: Ten Democrats, one stage, health care at the center of the fight for the future of the party.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A major tropical system will hit the already battered Bahamas. Now, there's a tropical storm watch for parts of Florida.

BRIGGS: Sentencing day for Felicity Huffman. How much time will the actress get in jail or fine for her role in the college admission scandal?

ROMANS: And he was bullied for showing school spirit. What the University of Tennessee is doing now to help down the road. It's a very good story.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Happy Friday, everybody. September 13th, 4:00 a.m. here in the New York.

We start with the debate night. A fiery third debate last night with 10 Democrats tangling over a host of issues, notably health care, also guns, race and how far left the party should go. Joe Biden gave a more lively performance than in the first two debates. He and other moderate Democrats defended their ideas for upgrading Obamacare against more progressive proposals.


BIDEN: My plan for health care costs a lot of money. It costs $740 billion. It doesn't cost $30 trillion.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare-for- All. Costs are going to go up for wealthier individuals and costs are going to go up for giant corporations.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wrote the damn bill, if I may say so.


SANDERS: Intend to eliminate all out-of-pocket expenses.

BIDEN: Well, if you noticed, he hadn't answered the question. This is about candor, honesty, big ideas. Let's have a big idea. The tax of 2 percent that the senator is talking about, that raises about $3 billion. Guess what? That leaves you about $28 billion short.

WARREN: And we just need to be clear about what Medicare-for-All is all about. Instead of paying premiums into insurance companies, and then having insurance companies build their profits by saying no to coverage, we're going to do this by saying everyone is covered.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And 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. I don't think that's a bold idea. I think it's a bad idea.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The problem, Senator Sanders, with that damn bill that you wrote, and that Senator Warren backs, is 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.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to give credit to Bernie. Take credit, Bernie. You know, you brought us this far on Medicare-for-All. I wanted to make the plan better which I did, which is about offering people choice, not taking that from them.

BIDEN: Nobody has yet said how much it's going to cost the taxpayers. I hear this large savings. The president think -- my friend from Vermont thinks that the employers is going to give you back if you negotiate as union all these years, you got a cut in wages because you got insurance. They're going to give back that money to the employee?

SANDERS: As a matter of fact they will.

BIDEN: Well, let me tell you something. For a socialist, you've got a -- for a socialist, you've got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.


ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN Politics digital director Zach Wolf, live this morning in Washington.

And Zach, you know, the party that basically presided over the biggest health care change in a generation, Obamacare, is now fighting on stage about how to improve health care. Is this going to be the -- is this going to be the defining I guess issue for Democrats in the primaries?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Clearly, it is as of now the defining issue by a mile. It is the only thing, I think, on the stage, where there was so much division amongst the candidates. And if you look at polls, it's the top issue or at least the one most cited by Democrats, as their most important issue. Everybody thinks it's extremely important, you know, even more than things like climate change and gun control.

So, this is the top issue for voters. It's the issue that splits the candidates the most, the one on which they agree the least on, I think. And while they sort of -- you mentioned Obamacare there, they sort of danced around Obama and trying to give him credit for what he could get accomplished. He wanted to get more done for what he could get accomplished, while at the same time saying, what you did was wholly inadequate and we don't want to completely rewrite it or, you know, totally fix it. So it's an interesting dynamic.


BRIGGS: It sure is. And, you know, we like to debate the debate during commercial breaks and whatnot. We both asked ourselves this question, Zach, have debates mattered to this point in this election? And do you sense that this one will matter in terms of the overall dynamic of this race right now.

WOLF: Yes. Debates matter a lot because we have everybody on the same stage and they're sort of chewing over these actually really important policy discussions. They are having the debate up there. You know, Julian Castro got a lot of guff for kind of going after Joe Biden today. But he also made a good point. This is an election and you have to choose between two sides. And debate is where we see the division between people. That's --

BRIGGS: But --

WOLF: -- how you choose who -- you know, who you agree with more.

BRIGGS: I'm not suggesting they don't matter. But will they matter in the polls because nothing in a debate to this point has really moved the needle very much. Do you think anything in this debate will move the needle?

WOLF: No. I don't. After that first debate we saw Biden kind of slip a little bit when he was -- you know, didn't do as well. He seemed a little more tired. Kamala Harris had that good, you know, blow against him. I don't think there's going to be that kind of moment. We sort of have this top tier of Biden, Warren, and Bernie Sanders. I don't think that's going to change as a result of this debate. But it certainly does crystallize the difference, particularly on health care, between those candidates. And that's a really important thing.

ROMANS: On guns, also. Beto O'Rourke putting a marker down last night that was a lot more bold than what we've heard from other Democrats. For years, Democrats have said, there was, you know, a myth, a Republican myth that any Democrats wanted to come and take your guns. Beto O'Rourke says, hell, yes, I want to take your AR-15. Listen.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Odessa, I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15. And that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland. There weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time.

Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.


O'ROURKE: We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.


ROMANS: I mean, give the guy credit. He left the campaign for a while in El Paso after -- right? After that Walmart shooting killed 22 people, 48 were injured. How important was that moment for him last night?

WOLF: I thought -- I think it's incredibly important for Beto O'Rourke. More importantly, I thought it was sort of an important moment for Democrats. He's not the only one on the stage who supports mandatory buyback programs. But I think that Democrats, for so long, for decades -- you know, we talk about how, you know, Republicans and the NRA work together. Democrats, for decades, have sort of bent over backwards to make clear that they don't want to take your guns. A main talking point of Donald Trump is that Democrats are going to come and try to take your guns. And here we have, a sort of major candidate, saying, you know, hell, yes, we are going to take your guns or at least some of them. The AR-15s and the AK-47s. I thought that was an incredibly important moment because they're sort of running into it now. It shows how the party has totally changed on this issue.

ROMANS: A show of public support, too, though. BRIGGS: Yes. Yes.

ROMANS: I mean, that's clear that it's -- I mean, we're showing right now, look. I mean, even Republicans, 85 percent, support a law allowing police to take guns away from people a judge finds dangerous. I mean, public support is way ahead of Washington.

BRIGGS: And when you put out that type of statement, the rest of the candidates are going to chase it and defend it and take a stand on that.

Look, you say that the top tier really won't change much with Warren, Bernie and Biden. Here's some of the lower-tier candidates trying to bring their one-liners. I want to see if any of these resonated. Listen.


HARRIS: I would just say, hey, Joe. Instead of saying no, we can't, let's say yes, we can.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the only person on this stage that finds Trudeau's hair very menacing.

KLOBUCHAR: Houston, we have a problem.

HARRIS: He reminds me of that guy in "The Wizard of Oz." You know, when you pull back the curtain, it's a really small dude.

YANG: I am Asian so I know a lot of doctors.


BRIGGS: Small dude there, Kamala Harris. Any of those lower-tier candidates -- any of those pre-selected moments will resonate and move them up?

WOLF: I think I continue to be impressed with this sort of groundswell of support for Andrew Yang.


WOLF: He has built up a thing. He has an issue, it's interesting, a lot of lefty economists are behind it. It's kind of interesting to watch. I've been continually surprised during this primary season that sort of Cory Booker hasn't gotten his look. I think some of the other candidates have. You know, Kamala Harris had her moment. Even Amy Klobuchar had sort of some time in the sunshine. I don't feel like Cory Booker, given that he has some big ideas, like these baby bonds thing.



WOLF: He's been a leader on gun buybacks, on some of the other thought things that are going on in the campaign that he hasn't sort of had his bump. I don't know if this is going to be the time that gives it to him. And then the other thing I want to say is that Julian Castro, sort of going after Joe Biden on his age, intentionally or not, is that going to end up being -- you know, is that going to turn everybody off to Julian Castro but land a -- you know, a blow, essentially a kamikaze mission.

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: To sort of draw attention to Biden's age? And does it hurt Castro but then help everybody else? That's something to pay attention to.

ROMANS: Or just hurt both of them.

WOLF: Yes.

ROMANS: Just hurt Biden and Castro.

WOLF: Right.

ROMANS: All right. Nice to see you. Zach Wolf, bright and early this morning.

BRIGGS: We'll play you that entire exchange about the age in 30 minutes.

Ahead, an early review shows a glaring mistake by the crew on that boat that caught fire off the coast of California, killing 34.



ROMANS: All right. So impeachment was not discussed at the Democratic debate last night. But House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler is vowing to oversee an aggressive series of impeachment hearings. His committee has approved a resolution defining the rules of an investigation. The vote gives Nadler the ability to label committee hearings impeachment hearings. That allows for extra levels of investigation. But it remains to be seen whether Democrats can come to a consensus on impeaching this president. Most agree a final decision needs to be made by the end of the year.

BRIGGS: The Environmental Protection Agency is repealing clean water protections that were implemented during the Obama era. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler claims the measure was nothing more than a, quote, "power grab." The 2015 regulation commonly known by the nickname WOTUS defined what bodies of water are protected under the Federal Clean Water Act. The next step for the Trump administration is finalizing a proposal for a replacement regulation. Environmental groups are slamming the move and vowing further legal challenges.

ROMANS: A tropical storm watch now covering parts of east Central Florida. The system is expected to strengthen into a tropical depression or storm within the next day or so. Today it will bring heavy rain and high winds to the already battered Bahamas and then on to Florida through the weekend.

BRIGGS: Officials have significantly lowered the number of missing in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. The official count is now 1300, just over half the previous estimate of 2500. Aid is still trickling in. The U.S. just announcing an additional $4 million in humanitarian assistance. One in five Bahamians are now homeless. More than 2100 people remain in shelters.

ROMANS: All right. He went missing 22 years ago. Google Earth found him. We'll tell you where.



ROMANS: Welcome back. It sentencing day for Felicity Huffman in the college admission scandal. The "Desperate Housewives" star pleaded guilty for paying $15,000 to a fake charity so a proctor would correct her daughter's answers to SAT questions. Prosecutors have asked for a month in prison and a $20,000 fine. Huffman's lawyers are asking for probation. She says the prosecution's sentencing argument cites previous cases which are very different from hers.

BRIGGS: There was no crew member on overnight watch when that Conception dive boat caught fire and sank on Labor Day killing 34 people. That's according to a preliminary NTSB report the roving crew member is required overnight. According to the report, a sleeping crew member heard a noise, woke up and saw fire in the salon compartment. An attorney for Truth Aquatics which owns the Conception claims a crew member did check the area shortly before the fire ignited. The wreckage has been raised and will be lifted on to a barge and brought inland for further investigation.

ROMANS: The remains of a man who has been missing for 22 years have been found, thanks to Google Earth. William Moldt was last seen driving his car in Lantana, Florida, on November 7th, 1997. Last month, police received a call about a car that was discovered submerged in a pond. Palm Beach resident was able to see it using Google Earth. The vehicle was pulled from the water and Moldt's remains were found inside. Police believe he drove off the road while returning home from an evening at a local club.

BRIGGS: Spilled coffee in the cockpit, forcing a pilot to divert his Transatlantic flight with 336 other people onboard. Aviation investigators say the flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Cancun, Mexico, was forced to land in Ireland back in February. According to the report, the coffee spilled on the audio control panel which failed and started to smoke, forcing the flight crew to wear oxygen masks. They say the equipment became so hot that one of the buttons began to melt.

ROMANS: That's frightening.

Well, the University of Tennessee offering a free ride to the class of 2032 for an elementary school student who was bullied for creating a homemade "Tennessee Volunteers" t-shirt. The university says it will cover the cost of the scholarship for the Florida fourth grader if he chooses to attend UT and meets admissions requirements. You'll recall the boy's story drew national attention earlier this week when a Facebook post went viral by his teacher. She says he was bullied, made fun of after clipping a piece of paper with a "UT" design. Clipped it to an orange t-shirt, wore it to College Day at school.

I think that is such a great story. I really do.

BRIGGS: A very cool ending to that. Teach the bullies.

Ahead, steep policy differences on display. Ten Democratic candidates for president tried to sway the voters, as the clock tick, tick, ticks on the campaign.




BIDEN: Nobody's yet said how much it's going to cost the taxpayer.


ROMANS: Ten Democrats, one stage, health care at the center of the fight for the future of the party.

BRIGGS: A major tropical system will hit the already battered Bahamas. Now, a tropical storm watch for parts of Florida.

ROMANS: Sentencing day for Felicity Huffman. Is prison in store for the actress' roll in the college admission scam?

BRIGGS: And he got bullied for showing school spirit. What the University of Tennessee is doing to help down the road.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. This is just about half past the hour here in New York.