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EARLY START

Dems Target Elizabeth Warren; Shadow Diplomacy Went Deeper Than Thought; Nationals Sweep Cardinals to Win NLCS. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all have good ideas. The question is how -- who's going to be able to get it done?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth Warren's front-runner status makes her a target at the CNN debate. Moderate questions her plans trying to slow her rise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We're not here to call bluffs. We're here to find the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The speaker puts the White House on notice. The vice president, Rudy Giuliani, and others fail to comply with demands in the impeachment inquiry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robles will squeeze it and there it is!

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ROMANS: Finally something gets done in Washington. The Nationals sweep their way to the World Series.

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

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Still parting there in D.C. this morning.

Wednesday, October 16th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York.

[04:00:01]

A tough welcome to front-runner status for Elizabeth Warren. Democratic rivals hoping to knock the Massachusetts senator off her perch at the CNN "New York Times" debate in Ohio. Senator Warren now essentially tied with former VP Joe Biden for first place in recent national polls.

ROMANS: Many of her centrist rivals attacking her plans, most notably when she was given four chances to answer whether her Medicare for all proposal would increase taxes on the middle class.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. And for middle class families, they will go down --

BUTTIGIEG: A yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything, except this.

KLOBUCHAR: At least Bernie is being honest here and saying how he's going to pay for this, and that taxes are going to go up. And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: This was the first debate since the impeachment inquiry launched over president Trump pressing Ukraine to help find dirt on the Biden. The former vice president offered a forceful defense of his son, saying voters should focus on the president's corruption instead of Hunter Biden's previous work in Ukraine.

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BIDEN: This president on three occasions, three occasions, has invited foreign governments and heads of governments to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. I did my job. I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated that I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Not entirely true. Hunter Biden told both ABC and "The New Yorker" over the summer that he had spoken briefly with his father about his involvement with Ukrainian energy company.

One of the debate's earlier moments came from between Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg on the topic of guns. O'Rourke was asked how his promise to get assault-style weapons off the streets would be enforced.

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BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I expect my fellow Americans to follow the law. The same way that we enforce any provision, any law that we have right now. We don't go door-to-door to do anything in this country.

BUTTIGIEG: You just made it clear that you don't know how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets. If you can develop the plan further, I think we can have a debate about it.

O'ROURKE: Listening to my fellow Americans, to those moms who demand actions, those students who march for lives, let's follow their inspiration and lead and not be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups.

MODERATOR: Mayor Buttigieg, your response? Mayor Buttigieg?

BUTTIGIEG: The problem isn't the polls. The problem is the policy. And I don't need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Whoo! Warren feels like a front-runner, but Bernie Sanders just wants some key progressive support. Sources tell us influential Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib all plan to endorse Senator Sanders.

ROMANS: Let's talk to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joining us this morning from Washington.

Sarah, good morning or good evening or one big long debate night.

You know, a lot has happened since the last debate. Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, there's an impeachment inquiry against the president. There's a total mess right now between Syria and Turkey. And last night, it was clear there was another development, and that is that Elizabeth Warren is now enjoying some front-runner status.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Senator Elizabeth Warren taking hits from more than a half dozen of her rivals on that stage. And they really pressed her to get into details of how she would pay for her health care plan, or not her health care plan, but the one Bernie Sanders has championed, that Elizabeth warren has gotten behind and championed as her own.

She was not able to do that. She still had evasive answers on how that would be paid for, whether taxes would go up for the middle class. But other than that one exchange, that one moment in the debate, she was able to hold her own among those attacks.

And it was really Mayor Pete Buttigieg who also had one of the better nights aside from her. He had a bunch of big breakout moments. He's someone who can tend to get a little wonky and hasn't necessarily shined in this format in the past, but Buttigieg really pressed warren on how her Medicare for All plan would be paid for. And that's one of the sound bites of the night that we've been playing, when he pointed out that she did not answer a yes or no question with a yes or no response.

BRIGGS: Yes, four times, she was given an opportunity to answer if taxes would go up under Medicare for All.

Here's just an example of some of the attacks focused on the apparent front-runner, Elizabeth Warren. Listen.

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KLOBUCHAR: I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires, not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.

[04:05:01]

We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren, I just want to say that I was surprised to hear that you did not agree with me that on this subject of what should be the rules around corporate responsibility for these big tech companies, when I called on Twitter to suspend Donald Trump's account, that you did not agree.

BIDEN: We all have good ideas. The question is, how -- who's going to be able to get it done? How can you get it done? And I'm not suggesting they can't, but I'm suggesting that that's what we should look at. And part of that requires you not being vague. Tell people what it's going to cost, how you're going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And if I can add on my own notes, Amy Klobuchar says the difference between and a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.

Is there real angst among the other 11 that Elizabeth Warren's proposals are out of step with mainstream America?

WESTWOOD: Well, I think that certainly you're getting to the central question of, that's playing out across the Democratic primary, which is, what is the best way to beat Donald Trump? Is it someone who's pushing for incremental change, perhaps a return to normalcy in the post-Trump era, or is it this big structural change, sweeping change that's been pushed by the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders?

And so, that was the central theme of the tension that we saw run throughout the exchanges in this debate, throughout the different issue topics that were covered.

We did see a lot more contrast being brought out. For example, on withdrawing the troops from the Middle East. We had everyone from Tulsi Gabbard, who was advocating from withdrawing all American troops from all involvement in the Middle East to people like Vice President Joe Biden, who was pushing more of a status quo approach to the conflicts in the Middle East.

So, you were seeing a lot more of those contrasts being brought out. And a little bit more personal attacks, more hand-to-hand combat among the candidates than we've seen in some of these past debates.

ROMANS: Yes, some of the sharper moments were Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke really talking about guns. And you know, it was Beto O'Rourke who after the El Paso shooting, he said, you know, look, hell, yes, I want to take your AR-15s from you. And that was another sharp moment, Sarah.

WESTWOOD: That's right. That was one of, I think, three big exchanges for Buttigieg. First, he had that exchange with Elizabeth Warren. He had that dustup with Beto O'Rourke over guns.

And then again later in the debate, he had a really great moment with Tulsi Gabbard, which he was able to tout his military experience. But Beto O'Rourke's position on guns, on his mandatory buyback programs for ar-15s and ak-47s has become something of a Republican talking point. They have tried to project that view on the entirety of the Democratic Party that all Democrats want to take people's guns away. And Buttigieg really pressed Beto O'Rourke on how a mandatory buyback program would even work and highlighted the fact that going door-to- door to confiscate these guns from Americans just isn't feasible.

Buttigieg sort of trying to take up the mantle of a more moderate Democrat on a stage full of progressives. He's really kind of positioning himself to kind of absorb some supporters from Biden's camp, if Biden down the road implodes.

BRIGGS: And if there's one thing all dozen Democrats have in common, it's the financial disadvantage that they will be no matter who gets the nomination against Donald Trump. Because look at these numbers. No matter who, again, gets the nomination, the money raised by Donald Trump is staggering, $125.7 million by Trump and the RNC. That matches essentially the total by all candidates.

How big a factor will this be as we move forward?

WESTWOOD: Well, certainly, it's a huge factor. It's one the Trump campaign loves to tout. It's one of many boosts that President Trump will get because of the incumbency advantage. And so, of course, the Democratic candidate will have to overcome that financial disadvantage. It's why there has been some skepticism raised about the fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren has now extended her pledge to avoid big donors, big fund-raisers to the general election, because that imbalance will exist.

And so, Buttigieg took some heat from progressives for saying, we can't beat Donald Trump with pocket change. He was taking a swipe at Warren, but the reality is that whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, will have to face off with a Republican, National Committee, and with the Trump campaign that has much more money, has a head start in organizing staffing in these key states, and we'll have to find a way to overcome that in a very short period of time.

ROMANS: And we learned after the debate last night that Joe Biden spent more than he raised in the third quarter. He entered the campaign, you know, in October with something like $9 million cash on hand, but that's something to watch, has spent a lot of money over there at camp Biden.

All right. Nice to see you and we'll talk to you in about a half hour or so. Thanks, Sarah.

Subpoenas and the deadlines that come with them apparently don't mean much to the president's allies. Vice President Pence, the secretary of defense, the acting budget director and Rudy Giuliani all missing deadlines to turn over documents or just failing to comply.

[04:10:08]

The White House strategy of complete noncompliance could push Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a full House vote, officially authorizing an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi says she's holding off for now.

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PELOSI: I'm very pleased with the thoughtfulness of our caucus, in terms of being supportive of the path that we are on.

We're not here to call bluffs. We're here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: New testimony shows foreign policy officials' concern about shadow diplomacy at the White House began earlier and went deeper than we once knew. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent telling lawmakers, he was ordered by a supervisor to lie low after he complained about Rudy Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine. People familiar say he raised red flags in March about Giuliani's disinformation campaign to smear people who stood in the president's way.

ROMANS: Now the role of White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is under the microscope.

"The Washington Post" told reporters that $400,000 in aid to Ukraine could be held up with no legal consequences even though some in the White House questioned the move. House lawmakers have been told that a May meeting organized by Mulvaney, three people were put in charge of Ukraine policy. Then special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

Sondland testifies behind closed doors tomorrow.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, Turkey's president rejecting President Trump's call for a cease-fire in Syria. The vice president heading to Ankara to convince them otherwise. CNN live at the Syria/Turkey border, ahead.

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[04:16:32]

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we've been waging in Syria.

BUTTIGIEG: Respectfully, Congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence. It's a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Two veterans of war squaring off on the debate stage over Syria. Today, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead a delegation to Ankara, trying to stop Turkey's military incursion into northern Syria. The Turkish president has already dismissed President Trump's call for a cease-fire and now he's preparing for a working visit to Russia on Vladimir Putin's invitation.

Let's go live to Turkey's border with Syria, and bring in CNN's Arwa Damon.

Arwa, what are you seeing there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning.

And it seems as if Erdogan might not meet with that U.S. delegation. Not entirely clear at this point, but those meetings might just take place between the U.S. delegation's Turkish counterpart and not necessarily the president himself.

Worth briefly noting, though, that the consequences of what we're seeing inside Syria and what we have been seeing for the last eight- plus years, that war has raged on inside that country, is a consequence of multiple U.S. administration's failures, failures that still continue, because as we will note with what's happening right now, the Kurds, having been betrayed by their American allies, then had to turn to the regime in Damascus and its Russian backers for protection.

And that significantly altered the dynamic inside Syria. The U.S. is hoping to negotiate some sort of a cease-fire, but what leverage does America actually have at this stage, given that it is in the process of fully withdrawing its troops from the north. And the situation for those troops who still remain inside is becoming slightly dicey in some instances. There was a standoff that took place when the Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebel units approached a U.S. position.

And then you have what's happening at the moment. Behind us is the Turkish town of Jadonpanon (ph), and just behind that, the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain where there have been some pretty pitched battles taking place over the last hour or so that we've been here.

More intense clashes we're seeing than we've seen over the last few days. Whereas on the one hand, the Turks and the regime now of Bashar al Assad are trying to gain as much territory as they possibly can before negotiations, negotiations that will not be held by the United States. Those negotiations will be happening, that mediation will be happening through Russia.

ROMANS: Yes, and the sounds, you can hear behind you, just shows you how dramatic the situation is there on the border. Thank you so much for that, Arwa Damon.

And clearly, a power vacuum, a military vacuum left by the United States, filled very quickly by Russia.

BRIGGS: Yes, it was Mitch McConnell who quickly pointed out it was the Russians, Iran, the Assad regime and ISIS who benefits from this move.

Back here, a nor'easter with tropical storm force winds set to slam the Northeast.

[04:20:01]

The latest, straight ahead.

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ROMANS: All right. A potential nor'easter could develop today.

[04:25:01]

It would be the second major storm to hit the northeast in less than a week.

Here's Pedram Javaheri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

This is a storm system that's coming together rather quickly with a front lined up across eastern thirds of the U.S. We have a disturbance parked off the eastern seaboard as well and some tropical moisture being surged in as well.

So, put it together, you've got yourself some heavy winds and potentially some heavy rainfall going in from Wednesday into Thursday across portions of the Northeast, especially if you're on the immediate coast. That's where the flooding concerns, certainly some beach erosion are going to be possible. But generally speaking, Thursday looks to be a very blustery day

across the Northeast. Winds about 25 to 35 miles per hour with some moderately heavy rain showers across the region. But you notice the front already on approach here, and the moisture present across portions of the Southeast. So, we'll watch this exit stage right, some time late Wednesday into Thursday, and begin impacting the Northeast across Thursday afternoon, as well.

But rainfall totals generally 1 to 2 inches. New York City sits at a deficit, roughly about three quarters of an inch. Potentially they go into the surplus with this.

And New England gets some heavy rain out of it. So the fall foliage with the winds and heavy rain stands to be impacted. And of course, some travel delays possible with the blustery weather, as well.

Sixty-seven degrees in New York City. Not too bad. And in Chicago, we'll climb into the lower 50s -- guys.

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BRIGGS: Pedram, thanks.

Sometimes it might feel like politics the only thing that matters in the nation's capital. Well, this morning, that is certainly not the case.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the air, center field, this should do it. Robles will squeeze it and there it is!

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BRIGGS: The world series is coming to Washington, D.C. The Nationals complete the four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nats put up seven runs in the first inning and won 7-4. First World Series berth in franchise history. First for a Washington team since 1933.

The Nats await the winner of the American League Championship Series. There, the Astros have a 2-1 lead over the Yankees after their 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Looks like a rainout on Wednesday and they'll resume Thursday.

ROMANS: All right.

Elizabeth Warren gets the front-runner treatment, fending off fellow Democrats in the CNN debate, but progressive darlings have decided to back a different candidate.

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