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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang; Interview With Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired September 15, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:21]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Generational divide. The top 2020 Democrats meet on the same stage.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm getting more and more comfortable with the way the debates are moving.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to make the differences clear.

TAPPER: Did the debate raise new questions about the front-runners?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a competition. It is supposed to be competitive.

TAPPER: I will speak to presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg next.

And will they act? While Americans worry about the next mass shooting, President Trump once again considers new gun legislation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can speak for Republicans. They would like to do something.

TAPPER: Is that true? Republican Senator Rand Paul joins me exclusively next.

Plus: Show me the money. To demonstrate his policy of a universal basic income, Democratic candidate Andrew Yang is sending cash to 10 American families. How would his proposals affect your pocketbook?

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A thousand dollars a month actually makes us stronger, healthier and less stressed out.

TAPPER: Andrew Yang is here for an exclusive interview in moments.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is watching the fallout. The Democratic candidates are back on the campaign trail this weekend

after a debate that seemed unlikely to knock the three front-runners out of the lead. The Democrat leading in the polls, Vice President Joe Biden, is, however, facing renewed personal scrutiny about his sharpness and vigor after the debate.

He has now pledged to release his medical records before any votes are cast, this after former Housing Secretary Julian Castro appeared to question the former vice president's mind and memory.

In perhaps the most consequential exchange of the debate, Castro now says his comments were not meant as veiled attacks on Biden's age, 76. But the moment created an opening for other candidates to take on the sensitive topic.

And in the wake of the debate, we're learning that Castro is now losing one of his three congressional endorsements. Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas told me just moments ago he's pulling his endorsement from Castro and giving it to Vice President Joe Biden.

Gonzalez said it is time for Democrats to narrow the field.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Well, I think at this point in time, we need to narrow the field and unite as Democrats to defeat Trump in November 2020. And that is why I believe I'm moving my support to Vice President Joe Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We're going to air more of that interview later this hour.

Joining me now, Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Mayor Buttigieg, thanks, as always, for joining us. We appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, I want to start on health care. You know that key moment between Vice President Castro -- I mean, Vice President Biden and Julian Castro on whether their plans would automatically enroll anyone.

You support Medicare for all who want it, but you have not released a full, detailed plan explaining it.

Would anyone be automatically enrolled under your proposal if they lost their insurance because they lost a job or for any other reason?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

And you will see more on that in our forthcoming plan. We need to make sure that we have a vision that gets everybody covered. The difference in my vision of Medicare for all who want it vs. the Sanders-Warren vision is, I think we can do that, and not order Americans onto that public alternative.

I actually think the public alternative that we create, that Medicare for all who want it, will probably be better than all of the private plans. I just trust the American people to make that decision for themselves and vote with their feet, rather than ordering them to switch plans when they don't want to.

TAPPER: When are you going to release the Medicare for all who want it plan?

BUTTIGIEG: Soon.

TAPPER: Soon. A week? A month?

BUTTIGIEG: I don't have a date for you, Jake.

TAPPER: OK.

What do you make of the criticisms of people like you or others who don't support embracing Medicare for all from people like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who say, you're ignoring the biggest problem here, which is, we spend all this money on health insurance, more than any other industrialized country, because the insurance industry is out for profits, not for making people better?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, that's just the point.

So if a private plan just can't be as cost-effective, because the profits are being sucked out of it, then the public plan is going to be better. If it's going to be better, and we give people that choice, people are going to choose it.

If they're that confident in the superiority of the public plan, why would they find it necessary to command Americans to adopt it, instead of just putting it out there? It's just a -- I guess a difference in the extent to which we trust people.

I do believe that we have got to look at more than just making that available too, though. So, the other big issue right now is affordability. And we have got to make sure we're addressing that, whether it's prescription drugs or the health care system overall.

And as you see our plans continue to unfold, you will see a lot on that too.

TAPPER: Let's turn to guns.

Your fellow candidate -- your fellow 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke raised some eyebrows by saying -- quote -- "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47" at the debate.

[09:05:03]

Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who has endorsed Biden, he responded by saying -- quote -- "That clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations to try to scare people by saying, Democrats are coming for your guns."

Do you agree? Did Beto O'Rourke say something that's playing into the hands of Republicans?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

Look, right now, we have an amazing moment on our hands. We have agreement among the American people for not just universal background checks, but we have a majority in favor of red flag laws, high- capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons.

This is a golden moment to finally do something, because we have been arguing about this for as long as I have been alive. When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands.

Let's make the most of it and get these things done.

TAPPER: I want to ask about Afghanistan, because, during the debate on Thursday night, you said -- quote -- "If there's one thing we have learned from Afghanistan, it's that the best way not to be caught up in endless war is to avoid starting one in the first place."

You said, that's the one -- if there's one thing to be learned from Afghanistan.

Do you think that the United States started the war in Afghanistan and not...

BUTTIGIEG: No, of course not. We went into the war in Afghanistan because we were attacked.

What I'm saying is that one lesson from just how endless that conflict has been is how hard it is to end a war, any war, in the 21st century. And we need to bear that in mind when you see things going on like what's happening with Iran right now that could lead to a new conflict breaking out.

September 15 is a very important date in my life, because that was the day that I left Afghanistan. That was five years ago. I thought I was one of the very last troops turning out the lights.

We're still there. And we're still arguing about how to get out.

TAPPER: Three of your opponents running for president now are expressing concerns about Joe Biden's sharpness and his ability.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?

(BOOING)

CASTRO: Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a lot of people who are concerned about Joe Biden's ability to carry the ball all the way across the end line without fumbling.

There are definitely moments where you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Congressman Tim Ryan also told a reporter that Biden was -- quote -- "declining" and didn't have the energy to win.

We should point out that Booker and Castro have since tried to walk those comments back, suggesting they weren't talking about his sharpness, but do you share any of these concerns?

BUTTIGIEG: I think I trust voters to figure that out.

Look, as the youngest candidate in the field, I am obviously a believer in the power of generational change. I also believe that a candidate at any age, depending who they are, can be a great president.

What we have got to talk about right now is vision. My concern about the vision from the Sanders-Warren approach is that it can polarize Americans, when we have other ways to deliver bold solutions without dividing the American people further.

My difference with the vice president is that I also don't think promising that we're going back to normal is going a message that will hit people well, certainly where I come from in the Industrial Midwest.

There are a lot of people who voted for this current president, not because they think he's a good guy, but because normal wasn't working for them, and they were ready to more or less vote to burn the house down.

If all we have to offer is, hey, let's -- let's dial it back and go back to what we were doing, if it feels like we're looking to the past, I think that message is going to come up short when we get to Election Day.

TAPPER: A senior Obama-Biden administration official told me -- quote -- "Biden's strength has never been his clarity of message or his delivery. But watching his long, winding answers that don't really make sense in recent debates has also raised the question as to whether that has gotten worse and whether he is up for this."

This is your front-runner. I mean, this is the person that, as of right now, has the best chance, according to polls, of becoming the nominee. You really don't have any concerns you're willing to voice?

BUTTIGIEG: The front-runner in September before an election year is almost never the nominee.

This is a moment when people are evaluating their decisions. The field is finally winnowing. And we should be able to compete on our own message.

I should not have to poke personal holes in anybody else in order for my message to get through and to be convincing, if I want to win and if I deserve to win.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about the substance of one of the things that Vice President Biden said at the debate.

When asked about the legacy of slavery, he seemed to suggest using a record player at home for minority families to teach them how to be better parents could be part of the equation.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not want they don't want to help. They don't -- 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, the -- the -- make sure that kids hear words.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I saw a lot of people, a lot of progressives, a lot of prominent African-American commentators talking about the substance of that answer...

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

TAPPER: ... and being horrified, if not -- as well as offended.

[09:10:01]

What was your response to it?

BUTTIGIEG: It was a well-intentioned answer, and it was a bad answer.

The reason that we are seeing racial inequity in this country is that it was put into place on purpose. And I'm not just talking about slavery beginning 400 years ago.

I'm talking about policy decisions that happened within living memory that excluded black Americans from everything from fully being able to access the G.I. Bill to labor protections. These have consequences. The V.P. is interested in -- I think he was trying to get at the issue of how many words infants hear as children. Interesting issue.

There is a much bigger picture here. And it has to do with inheritance. It has to do with the wealth gap and the fact that, if you are black in this country, as a consequence of systemic racism, you start out with less.

In the same way that, if you save a dollar, it compounds over the years and becomes more and more, the same is true of a dollar stolen. And that has happened to black Americans through generations.

It's why I have proposed the Douglass Plan, as ambitious as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe. But, this time, we have got to invest right here in America.

Criminal justice reform is important, but that's not all there is to the black experience in this country. We have got to be lifting up black entrepreneurs, making sure that federal taxpayer spending -- and I propose we do this at a 25 percent target -- is going to businesses owned by those who have been systematically disadvantaged in the past, investing in HBCUs that are training what could be the new class of black millionaires and a black middle class of professionals in education, law enforcement, medicine.

We need systemic answers to deal with this issue. And we need to confront the legacy of discrimination.

TAPPER: All right, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

Good luck on the campaign trail.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks.

TAPPER: A top Republican called Senator Rand Paul a big loser on Twitter this week. At least it wasn't President Trump.

Senator Paul will join me next. Stay with us.

And 2020 candidate Andrew Yang is about to give 10 families $12,000 each. I'll talk with him about that plan coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:55]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump didn't even take part in perhaps the nastiest political fight on Twitter this week, when Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky criticized the number three House Republican, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, over her support for -- quote -- "endless wars" and accused her of not being supportive enough of President Trump's goal of pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Cheney tweeted back, calling Paul a -- quote -- "big loser whose motto

is terrorists first." And it went on from there.

Joining me now, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.

Senator Paul, good to see you.

You're also the author of an upcoming book, we should point out, "The Case Against Socialism," which comes out next month. Congratulations on that. We will have you back to talk about it.

I want to start with this feud between you and Congresswoman Cheney, because I assume you think this is more -- about more and about something more important than just two members of Congress bickering.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Yes. No, I think this is a big issue, whether or not we should stay in Afghanistan.

I can't meet a general who can clearly tell me what our national security interest is in Afghanistan. Most of the military, over 60 percent of the military who served in Iraq or Afghanistan now think both of the wars should come to an end.

So I think the president's right to do this, but I think we have to call out the Republicans who are preventing him. This is the Bolton- Cheney wing. Dick Cheney to this day still thinks the Iraq War was a good thing.

The Iraq War, President Trump has said, was the biggest geopolitical blunder of the last generation. It destabilized the Middle East. It increased the strength of Iran. It tipped the balance towards Iran.

So there really was nothing good about the Iraq War. And Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney, John Bolton, they still don't get it. They still are advocating for more regime change in the Middle East.

TAPPER: The back and forth between you and Liz Cheney went even further when you took the fight to her home turf. You called into a Wyoming TV station.

Let me just ask you. There's an open Senate seat in Wyoming next year. People are talking about Cheney running. Would you prefer that a different Republican fill that Senate seat?

PAUL: Well, you know, one of the reasons we called it into Wyoming is, there are two state representatives who wrote an op-ed that we ended up retweeting and sending about.

And in their op-ed, they criticized Liz Cheney for always criticizing the president when he wants people to pay more at NATO, when he wants less troops overseas or when he wants less war. Liz Cheney criticized him every time. That was the main reason for calling in.

But, yes, there is a Senate race. I'm supporting Cynthia Lummis, who is a former congressman (sic), conservative congressman (sic). That's the only person that I know of in the race at this point. TAPPER: Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen took credit for a drone

attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities yesterday, temporarily wiping out about half of Saudi Arabia's daily oil production, escalating the conflict in the region.

Secretary of State Pompeo blamed Iran. And your fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted -- quote -- "It is now time for the U.S. to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocation or increased nuclear enrichment."

Your response to Graham and to Pompeo?

PAUL: I think an escalation of the war would be a big mistake.

This all comes from the Yemeni civil war, where Saudi Arabia is heavily involved in another country, indiscriminately bombing civilians, killing children. And the Houthis are supported by the Iranians. So it's back and forth.

But, really, the answer is trying to have a negotiated cease-fire and peace in Yemen. And bombing Iran won't do that.

The other thing I would say is, Iran's military spending is about $17 billion. Saudi Arabia spends about $83 billion. The Gulf sheikdoms around Saudi Arabia that ally with Saudi Arabia spend another 50-some- odd billion.

So, really, the Saudis and their allies dwarf the spending of Iran. And this is a regional conflict, that there's no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran.

It would be a needless escalation of this. And those who loved the Iraq War, the Cheneys, the Boltons, the Kristols, they all are clamoring and champing at the bit for another war in Iran.

But it's not a walk in the park. And you have to tell that to the 4,000 or so soldiers who died in Iraq, that, you know, are we going to send more to their deaths in Iran for something that, in the end, when you topple these regimes, you get more chaos and more terrorism, not less?

[09:20:11]

TAPPER: Let's turn to domestic policy.

Yesterday was -- quote -- "Guns and God Day," a day dedicated to gun rights and Christian principles. The organization opposes any new restrictions on guns.

Their press release touting your endorsement of Guns and God's Day, of their effort, said -- quote -- "We encourage participants to be prayerful about returning our nation to God as the only solution to the hatred and mass murder plaguing our blessed nation" -- unquote.

Do you really believe that returning our nation to God, no change in policy, is the only solution, the only way to stop mass shootings in the U.S.?

PAUL: No, I think that part of the problem is cultural and losing a sense of right and wrong. But that's not the only answer.

I have said, yes, we should do something. And I think we should look at each of these killings and say, what went wrong? And I think the consistent theme here is, typically, not always, but white teenage boys in their middle teenage years to early 20s.

But the other consistency that we're seeing in all these shootings, almost every one of them is sending off signals. Many of them are committing crimes that we slough off and we're not prosecuting.

The boy in Parkland was said to have committed 23 crimes. The sheriff down there is more interested in talking about gun control than doing his job. He should have arrested this boy.

At the school ,he wasn't allowed to bring a backpack in because they already suspected he might bring in weapons to shoot people. He should have been prosecuted for terroristic threatening.

We need to prosecute these boys, primarily boys, or whoever they are, beforehand. And, typically, I think this can be done. We're letting down -- do you remember the Orlando shooting that was so horrific?

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PAUL: A gun store owner turned the guy in. The FBI went to the gun store and the FBI never looked at the footage. Had they looked at the footage, you know, the footage in the store, the surveillance camera, they would have found out that this guy had been investigated for 14 months by the FBI.

We might have saved a hundred lives there. So let's look for where the answers are. Let's -- yes, let's try to do something to prevent these shootings.

TAPPER: OK.

So let me ask you. There are people in the Senate right now, Republicans and Democrats, talking about a red flag law, which would encourage states to pass laws that allow judges and others, family members, to take away somebody's guns after an adjudication process of some sort.

Would you support that? Would you support expanding background checks?

PAUL: We don't know yet what's coming forward.

I can tell you that it'll have to be consistent with the Constitution. Almost all crime is adjudicated at the state level, murder, theft, assault. They're all state laws. So, 99 percent of crime is in state courts.

So, really, it's under the purview of the state legislature. We already have some emergency protection orders in about 18 states. I think the states need to look at what's on the book, and they need to enforce it.

The thing we could do at the federal level that we're not doing -- and I think this is a federal crime -- is that, when a felon goes in to buy a gun -- 12,000 felons tried to buy gun, with the last statistics, and they were caught, and they didn't get a gun, but we didn't prosecute them.

It is a felony for a felon to try to buy a gun. And if we know they're trying to buy guns, we -- I think we prosecuted 12 out of 12,000. So there is legislation that's been before the Senate before and will probably come up again that I will support that says, by all means, we should do this.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PAUL: We also should make the background checks work.

At least two of the recent shootings, I think, the Dylann Roof shooting and the shooting in the church in Texas, both of them shouldn't have had guns. One was a domestic abuse. Another was some other felony, but they didn't get in the system.

So I think we can make the current system work better. But the vast majority of these shootings, background checks wouldn't have helped. The vast majority of these mass shootings are purchased legally.

But every one of them -- I can't get it out of my head that the kids in Parkland were immediately saying, it's so and so. They knew his name before they knew he had done it.

TAPPER: Yes.

PAUL: And this is happening throughout. All these kids are troubled. They're sending off signals. And they are committing crimes.

But if you do something like these laws to prevent things in advance, you have to keep the same constitutional burdens that you're innocent until proven guilty. You can't flip it and say to the person, oh, you have to prove that you're not a criminal.

No, the government always has to have the burden.

TAPPER: Yes.

PAUL: There has to be due process. You have to be allowed a lawyer, because the danger is, they could just say, oh, anybody that takes antidepressants can't have a gun, or anybody who's ever been to a psychiatrist can't have a gun.

And so there is a danger of going too far, where we preemptively just are out there taking everyone's guns.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm. PAUL: And I am alarmed and it does alarm a lot of us when we hear

Beto O'Rourke up saying, yes, they're just going to come and knock the door down and take our guns.

That scares the heck out of a lot of Republicans and a lot of gun owners.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, thanks so much for your time, sir. Appreciate it.

PAUL: Thank you.

TAPPER: 2020 candidate Andrew Yang is responding to a racist slur from a newly hired "Saturday Night Live" comedian -- why Yang says he does not want the comic to lose his job.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:29:10]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

After the Democratic debate this week, entrepreneur Andrew Yang gained more Twitter followers than any other Democratic candidate, according to an analysis by Politico.

Perhaps that had something to do with a contest he announced on stage. He wants to do for 10 families what he's proposing to do for all Americans, pay them a $1,000-a-month dividend, Freedom Dividend, he calls it.

Joining me now to talk about this and much more, entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Mr. Yang, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

I want to play some of the reactions from your fellow Democratic candidates to your announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's original. I will give you that.

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I admire and, frankly, take joy in hearing people with innovative ideas and who are questioning status quo and willing to challenge it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It doesn't seem like your fellow 2020 Democratic candidates are taking your proposal very seriously. What is your response?

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, well the Freedom Dividend is catching on like wildfire around the country because Americans realize it is not about the money. I've been personally giving the Freedom Dividend to several American families for months now and when I saw one of the recipient Kyle Christensen in Iowa a few weeks ago he told me he used the money to buy a guitar and he was playing shows locally and he was beaming. He said he was playing shows for the first time in years.

For him it was a guitar. For Jodie Fassi in New Hampshire it was car repairs. For Malorie Shannon in Florida it was going back to school. So Americans are waking up to the fact that we can solve our own problems if we have a dividend that gives us some extra resources to do so.

TAPPER: There has been a lot of debate about the legality of your proposal not the proposal in terms of the larger Freedom Dividend if you become president but what you're doing as an individual candidate.

Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission told CNN that what you are proposing would not legal -- it's not legal he says to give those 10 families money from your campaign to use however they want but are you sure that you're on solid legal ground?

YANG: Yes, we have an army of lawyers who have signed off on it. And we're sure that this is perfectly legal. But I do want to reflect for a moment, Jake, on the fact that if I gave a million dollars to media company or consultants or hired like a small army of canvassers no one would blink an eye but if we give the money directly to the American people somehow that's problematic. So, it just speaks to how messed up our system is where giving money directly to Americans actually raises eyebrows.

TAPPER: Let's talk about another issue you talked about along the campaign trail you warned that automation is going to result in catastrophic layoffs in the United States. Some experts say that your fears are overblown, they point to the unemployment rate at a 50-year low, labor productivity increases that have stagnated, not what you would expect to see if robots were indeed taking over. Are you concerned at all that you might be overstating the threat of automation?

YANG: Well, what is indisputable, Jake, is that manufacturing employment went down by 4 million over the last number of years and the vast majority of that was due to robots and automation. It is also indisputable that despite this headline labor rate labor force participation is at a multi-decade low of 63 percent and millions of Americans have stopped participating in the work force which artificially makes that unemployment rate look better -- much better than it actually is in real life.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about something that you tweeted at -- tweeted about at length this weekend. One of the three new cast members for "Saturday Night Live" a guy names Shane Gillis from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He offered what I think critics would call a half-hearted apology for having used racial slurs in his act specifically against Asian Americans, including specifically against you. And you tweeted yesterday about what it feels like to be called these horrific racial slurs but you also said that you forgive the comedian and you hope others can as well.

As one of the most prominent Asian American political figures did you feel any special responsibility to try to reflect what others in the Asian-American community are feeling or were you just speaking for yourself?

YANG: Well, there have been a number of reactions to my call for forgiving Shane Gillis and I've experienced a lot of anti-Asian racism throughout my upbringing. And it hurts. It is something that is very real. And I do think anti-Asian racial epithets are not taken as seriously as slurs against other groups.

But at the same time, bigger picture, I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that if we can, particularly in a case where the person is in this case to me like a comedian whose words should be taken in a slightly different light.

TAPPER: I've heard from Asians Americans, I'm sure you have too, who say that some of your joking references to being Asian American on stage, about how you know math, about how you know a lot of doctors, feed into stereotypes and they resent that as well, while obviously it is not the same level as what that comedian is accused of doing.

What are your feelings on that?

YANG: Well, the Asian American community is very diverse. And certainly I would never claim that my individual experience would speak to the depth and breadth of our community. At the same time, I think Americans are very smart. And that they can actually see right through that kind of myth and if anything by poking fun at it I'm making Americans reflect a little bit more on them.

[09:35:00]

TAPPER: California Governor Gavin Newsom is weighing whether he should sign a bill that would allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals and earn some money off their likenesses. If you are president would you push for a similar bill at national level?

YANG: I 100 percent would. I am so glad that Gavin is leading on this. To me it is immoral that you have institutions that are profiting to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in some cases and then they are saying these athletes are amateurs and they can't receive a dime. They can't even get money for autographs or appearance fees or their likeness being used on video games. And so we need to own up to the fact that many of these athletes are massive revenue generators for these institutions and start compensating them accordingly. TAPPER: Andrew Yang, we've been trying to get you on the show for a while. It's good to have you here. I hope you'll come back. Thanks so much for joining us.

YANG: Thank you, Jake. I know it has been overdue but I appreciate it.

TAPPER: Julian Castro is taking heat for criticizing Joe Biden on the debate stage. Now one of Castro's endorser has had a change of heart and is rescinding his endorsement of Castro. That is next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GONZALEZ: If you're polling in the low single-digits and you're not raising any resources, and you're fracturing your party and you're just getting your supporters to be upset at other candidates, it certainly can't be a good thing for our party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That is Texas Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who just told me minutes ago that he is pulling his endorsement of Julian Castro and deciding instead to back Vice President Joe Biden. Let's talk about this and much more with our team of experts here.

Governor Granholm, you helped Biden with debate prep --

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

TAPPER: -- and it resulted at least in this, I think, of Congressman Gonzalez saying that he is pulling his endorsement from Castro and giving it to Biden.

GRANHOLM: Yes. Well -- and in fact I think 59 African American state legislators last week endorsed Biden. Today, this morning, he is giving a speech at the 16th Street Baptist Church, it may have been be -- happening very close to right now, where he's going to be drawing a line directly from slavery to that bombing, that bombing by the way for those who need to be reminded it was four little girls killed as they were pulling on their church robes, this is the 56th anniversary of it by sticks of dynamites. So drawing a line from slavery to that to Mother Emanuel Church to today and saying that, yes, we need to face up to the fact that that 400-year history of slavery needs to be addressed through policy.

He should have said that at the debate. He did not. Granted. But he has got policy that addresses that. And I know -- I know Aisha kind of -- we talked about this before coming on the air --

TAPPER: Yes.

GRANHOLM: -- I want to give her a chance to obviously say what she's going to say before I respond. Go ahead.

TAPPER: I'll get to Aisha in one second but I do want to say -- I want to read this from the Castro campaign which reads in part a response to Gonzalez pulling his endorsement, endorsing Biden, "Congressman Gonzalez is entitled to endorse whichever candidate he feels represents his values." What do you think?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, on the endorsement thing, look, this is going to happen. It happened to me. It happens to a lot of candidates who are sitting in the single- digits.

There is a lot of pressure to narrow the field and rally behind the guy that is ahead. And I think that is part of what is happening.

On the issue that Jennifer is talking about, there is a big difference between Joe Biden being scripted and being able to say the right things for the masses at this time and then you see him when he gets off on his rants which he does on a regular basis and you sort of see what is in his heart.

GRANHOLM: No, no.

SANTORUM: And that -- and that contrast is what -- is what's going to cause him big trouble.

TAPPER: And I want to bring in Aisha because the vice president -- former vice president also received a lot of criticism for a response he gave when he was asked by Linsey Davis of "ABC News" about the legacy of slavery. It was something -- I think it is fair to call it sort of a rambling answer and here is part of it that really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It is not that they don't want to help. They don't -- they don't know quite what to do.

Play the radio. Make sure that the television -- excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night. The phone -- make sure that kids hear words.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: "Rolling Stone" columnist Jamil Smith wrote, "He is saying things at a Democratic debate on an HBCU campus, no less" -- historically black college -- that make it absolutely impossible to trust Biden to be the party's best candidate to address systemic racism.

Your response?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. My friend Jamil nailed it. I mean, here's the challenge. So, I don't want to -- I very much believe that Joe Biden is a good man and that his heart is pure. But the problem though is that he is a white man of a certain era in this country.

He served with segregationists who he revered. He comes from a school of thought frankly served with Moynihan who wrote a report that suggested that what is wrong with black people and black communities has everything to do with them. As opposed to the systemic challenges and frankly structural racism that has created the poverty and that has disenfranchised and suppressed black people since the beginning of time.

[09:45:00]

I think it is really rich that today he's having a conversation to connect the dots with slavery and the church shooting. When, in fact, it doesn't seem he has a real deep grasp on the structural racism in this country and how even his own policies from mass incarceration is one that we can just start off talking about, his views on busing that he still doesn't seem to be able to understand really how that impacts people socially and other wise, and the outcomes that black Americans are experiencing right now, that it seems to me that he constantly makes these gaffes which are out of touch with where we are today because he comes from an era of this, like, racist paternalism in public policy making of how we have looked at dealing with the issues that the black community faces which frankly come from racist public policy making.

GRANHOLM: But he said that he has evolved. He has said that he has made statements 40 years ago that he would not make today. And, in fact, his policies today are about addressing those structural issues.

Making sure that there is more investment in African American and women-owned businesses to decrease the wealth grab. Eliminating -- or totally reforming criminal justice so that you don't have private prisons making a profit off of people being incarcerated. Eliminating for good the disparity between crack and between powder cocaine. Supporting the --

(CROSSTALK)

MOODIE-MILLS: -- thoughtful on these things.

GRANHOLM: No, no. Here's what I would say --

MOODIE-MILLS: He was asked 40 years ago he said I don't have any responsibility but what my father and what my grandfather did. And he doubled down on this. He says, I have no responsibility for what they did.

GRANHOLM: But that was -- again, that was so many years ago and he has apologized for that.

TAPPER: But here is -- what I want to ask you, Bill, it does seem like even though Biden is polling really, really well with African American voters, that is really where the strength of his front-runner status is, especially in places like South Carolina, it does seem like I'm hearing echoes of super-predator when Hillary Clinton called young men super-predators and that really came back. It was this minor issue under the general Democratic elector and in the primaries but it really hurt her when it came to black turnout in November.

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY: Could be. It is hard for me to judge. I just generally watching (INAUDIBLE) Pete Buttigieg this morning with you, I think it wouldn't be crazy for the Democrats to at least allow into the finals someone under the age of 70. And they're both interesting, attractive candidates and I do think there is a big argument for generational change and it would be kind of nuts to end up with all due respect to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders whether it would be a 70-year-old, 76 years old and 78- year-old as the final three for that young change oriented Democratic Party.

GRANHOLM: We have a good field. It is true. But let me say about Joe Biden's --

SANTORUM: Just not the favorites.

GRANHOLM: Do we really believe that a guy -- that a man with a good heart and good policies is somehow not acceptable when we are facing a man who lies 13,000 times so far -- seven lies per day and has policies that are poisonous for the communities we're talking about.

MOODIE-MILLS: So the problem that I have with that is that I'm not here to race to the bottom, right? And so --

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: It is not a race to the bottom.

MOODIE-MILLS: -- the competition of the lowest common denominator is Donald Trump is a hot mess --

GRANHOLM: Well, I don't say it's the lowest. I think we want a good --

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: -- with a good heart and a record of that.

MOODIE-MILLS: -- anybody is a better than Donald Trump. In fact, a puppy at this point is better than Donald Trump.

KRISTOL: It's true.

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: I would agree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: The debate you're hearing right here is the real risk for Joe Biden. Joe Biden is ahead in this race because of black voters. Let's just -- that is why he's there. TAPPER: Yes.

SANTORUM: And you're hearing an element of the black community saying he's unacceptable to us. The question is, is that going to permeate through the rest of the community or is there a divide in the black community. These ideas --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Well there is a generational -- there is a generation, right?

SANTORUM: The generational divide and that older black voters in South Carolina in particular are going to say, you know what, I just don't buy what Aisha is saying. I don't agree with that point.

MOODIE-MILLS: Here's what's interesting. I was at the Congressional Black Caucus' annual legislative conference gala last night and this is just anecdotal sharing for me being in the room. There were several presidential candidates who were there, Pete was there, who you had on earlier, Elizabeth Warren was there, Biden wasn't there. But there were several people there, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, et cetera.

And so as they are being announced I like to feel the energy in the room. There are like 2,000 people in this room. Elizabeth Warren got the largest applause from the crowd. Now she doesn't have CBC endorsement so we're not suggesting that she is in any way, shape or form being supported by the CBC.

I thought it was interesting the energy in the crowd that Elizabeth got the biggest rousing applause, second was Kamala Harris. Then later on I was -- me and a thousand other people were trying to get over to say hello, she also had the biggest crowd at her table. People were lined up trying to talk to Elizabeth Warren.

TAPPER: Warren. Yes.

MOODIE-MILLS: I only bring that up to say polls say what they say but energy on the ground, the crowds that are being drawn are what we should be looking at.

TAPPER: Anecdotal. Thanks one and all, appreciate it.

Is your mother watching? Why politicians on both sides of the aisle ought to be washing their mouths out with soap. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:54:22]

TAPPER: In today's politics, authenticity seems to be about four- letter words. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER (voice-over): Cursing has been in the news a lot this week. President Trump tweeted about -- quote -- boring musician John legend's -- quote -- "filthy mouthed wife," model and television personality, Chrissy Teigen.

CHRISSY TEIGEN, AMERICAN MODEL: Those two things are true. John is boring, I do have a filthy mouth.

TAPPER: You know, G-rated President Trump, he of such delicate sensibilities.

TRUMP: I fired his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) so fast. They're trying to take you out with bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), OK?

TAPPER: But the president is no longer alone in his salty talk.

[09:55:02]

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.

TAPPER: Former congressman Beto O'Rourke has been dropping f-bombs to express his frustration with gun violence, a condition that seems to be aggravated by the presence of T.V. cameras.

O'ROURKE: I don't intend to use the f-word going forward.

TAPPER: Others have followed suit, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I mean, I actually have to get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) done.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the Republicans need to quite frankly get their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) together.

TAPPER: Things got so bad ahead of last week's debate in Houston, the DNC had to warn the candidates not to curse on stage, lest they be fined by the FCC. Perhaps the next debate should take place in South Park.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you guys. I want to get out of here!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Fareed Zakaria talks to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)