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EARLY START

Spotlight on Elizabeth Warren At Democratic Debate; Shadow Diplomacy Went Deeper Than Thought; Nationals Sweep Cardinals to Win NLCS. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:32:06]

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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?

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth Warren's front-runner status makes her a target at the CNN/"New York Times" debate. Moderates question her plans, trying to slow her rise.

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

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robles will squeeze it and there it is! The Washington Nationals --

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BRIGGS: Well, finally, something gets done in D.C. The Nationals sweep their way to the World Series and await the winner of the Yankees and Astros. Still partying this morning in D.C., because they can't get home on the subway, if you know what I mean, if you live in D.C.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 33 minutes past the hour here in New York.

We begin with a tough welcome to front-runner status for Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator, the sole focus of Democratic rivals, hoping to knock her off her perch at the CNN/"New York Times" debate in Ohio.

Senator Warren now essentially tied with former VP Joe Biden in first place for recent national polls.

BRIGGS: Many of her centrist rivals attacking Warren's 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.

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ROMANS: This was the first debate since the impeachment inquiry launched over president Trump, pressing Ukraine to help find dirt on the Bidens. 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 I have.

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BRIGGS: That is 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 the Ukrainian energy company. One of the debate's surlier moments came between Beto O'Rourke and

Pete Buttigieg on the topic of guns.

[04:35:03]

O'Rourke 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.

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ROMANS: Warren may now have moved into a front-runner spot, but Bernie Sanders just won some key progressive support. Sources tell us influential Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib all plan to endorse Senator Sanders.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joining us live this morning from Washington, D.C.

Sarah, are they're still partying in there, celebrating the Washington Nationals? What was your way to work like?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: You know, it was about 3:00 in the morning, so it wasn't that bad. I think most of the partiers had probably given up for the night.

BRIGGS: Public transportation there can be a mess, so I thought they might be stuck near the stadium.

Let's talk about the debate, then. And we ask this after every debate. How has the overall dynamic shifted as a result of what we saw last night?

WESTWOOD: Well, obviously, unlike in previous debates, we saw Biden sort of fade into the background. At first, he was the target of some high-profile attacks. But in this case, we saw Senator Elizabeth Warren as the center of gravity in last night's debate.

You know, she has risen in popularity based in large part on her progressive ideas, on her, "I have a plan for that" approach. So last night she was really pressed by everyone on that stage, including fellow progressive Bernie Sanders, about how exactly she would implement some of those policies and whether she was being straightforward about the cost of them and the cost to the average middle class family, whether taxes would go up.

And she wasn't entirely prepared to answer those questions. We did see some evasive answers. But overall, we did see more contrast coming out between all of the candidates.

ROMANS: There was a sharp -- a sharp moment, a sharp exchange late in the debate between Joe Biden, Senator warren, and Bernie Sanders, where it was interesting. Biden said, I'm going to say this right now and it's probably going to offend something, I'm the only one on the stage that's actually gotten something done.

And Bernie Sanders came back hard. He said, yes, like a disastrous war in Iraq, a bankruptcy bill that was terrible for American families. And Elizabeth Warren said, what about the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, I did that. And she seemed to kind of own that situation and Biden retreated. Listen.

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BIDEN: I agreed with the great job she did. And I went on the floor and got you votes. Ingot votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it. So, let's get those things straight, too.

MODERATOR: Senator Warren, do you want to respond?

WARREN: I am deeply grateful to president Obama who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law. And I am deeply grateful to every single person who fought for it and who helped pass it into law. But understand --

BIDEN: You did a hell of a job in your job.

WARREN: Thank you.

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ROMANS: How'd she handle that?

WESTWOOD: She did a great job there. She showed some restraint. You know, she could have gone after Biden harder. But what she did there was sort of demonstrate that she knows she's going to have to, if she wants to maintain her front-runner status and expand, she's going to have to pick up some people who say right now that they support Biden. But that means not calling after him with everything she's got.

But also the exchange that proceeded that, as you mentioned, with Bernie Sanders going after Biden on his record, Sanders there took what Biden is using as his greatest strength, his long record of achievement in the Senate and as vice president and turned entitle a liability. And that's something that could be difficult for him moving forward, because he has this very long record, stretching back decades. It's not necessarily the case that he's always taken votes or held positions that are in step with the current Democratic electorate. So, that could be more of a problem for him going forward, when we really start to drill down on what is his long record.

BRIGGS: So, overall, the dynamic remains, a steady rise for Warren, a little leak for Joe Biden, and a pretty solid base there for Bernie Sanders. Any of those other nine on the stage break out last night or have a chance to reemerge in the weeks ahead?

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WESTWOOD: Well, I think we really saw Mayor Pete Buttigieg have a few breakout moments during the debate last night. He is someone who has not necessarily stuck out in the past debates. He's someone who gets a little more long-winded, a little more professorial, and isn't necessarily cut out for this format.

But last night, we saw him change that perception altogether. He had three big moments on health care, on guns, on the troops in the Middle East.

And we also saw Senator Amy Klobuchar really be more aggressive than she has in previous debates. There is a chance now that she won't make the November debate. She's reached the donor threshold, but she hasn't yet reached the polling threshold, so she really needed a debate to go really well, to help push her over that polling threshold, and we saw her go very aggressively after Senator Elizabeth Warren on health care and really present herself as one of the more moderate options on that stage, drawing a really strong contrast with the progressive candidates.

ROMANS: Another voice we heard. Michael Bloomberg in the opinion pages of "The Washington Post" writes this, the presidential candidates are not short on big ideas, but voters must demand they explain how they intend to move from proposing plans to actually implementing them, including passing them through Congress. Those who dodge the question by speaking of the revolution in the bully pulpit aren't up to the job.

What do you make of Michael Bloomberg and his words at this stage of the primary process?

WESTWOOD: Well, one could read them at a swipe as Bernie Sanders, for one, the talk about political revolution is Bernie Sanders' camp, also perhaps at Elizabeth Warren who has coasted into the lead. But there hasn't been a whole lot of scrutiny of how exactly those plans would be implemented, what their costs would be, and whether middle class taxes would go up. I think that was one of the areas where Elizabeth Warren struggled the most last night, was when she was pressed repeatedly on whether middle class taxes would go up. She danced around the question. And even Senator Bernie Sanders, who is the author of the plan that

Elizabeth Warren says she supports, acknowledged that taxes will go up for families. He argues, though, that the costs will be recouped in what those families save in health care costs. But still, Elizabeth Warren refusing to answer that question, could lend credence or at least, you know, fuel the argument from Republicans that her policies are unachievable and that she's not being honest about how much they would cost taxpayers.

BRIGGS: Whispers that Bloomberg still might get in, if Joe Biden truly falters in the weeks and months ahead. Could be very interesting.

Sarah Westwood, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Sarah.

BRIGGS: Five 2020 candidates will be on "NEW DAY" this morning. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke.

Meanwhile, 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, Rudy Giuliani all missing deadlines to turn over documents or just failing to comply.

The White House strategy of complete noncompliance could push Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a full house vote, officially authorizing an impeachment inquiry, but 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.

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ROMANS: New testimony shows foreign policy officials' concern about shadow diplomacy at the White House began earlier and went deeper than we 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 back in March about Giuliani's disinformation campaign.

BRIGGS: Now the role of the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney is under the microscope. "The Washington Post" reports that Mulvaney told staffers $400 million in aid to Ukraine could be held up with no legal consequences, even though some of in the White House question the move. House lawmakers had been told that three people were put in charge of Ukraine policy, then special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, and the U.S. ambassador to the European union, Gordon Sondland.

Sondland testifies behind closed doors tomorrow.

ROMANS: All right. Turkey's president rejecting President Trump's call for a cease-fire in Syria. Now the vice president is heading to Ankara to convince him otherwise. CNN live at the Syria/Turkey border.

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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.

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BRIGGS: Two veterans squaring off on the debate stage over Syria. Today, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lead a delegation to Ankara trying to stop Turkey's military incursion into northern Syria.

[04:50:08]

But Turkish president Recep Erdogan has already dismissed President Trump's call for a cease-fire.

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

Arwa, we heard initially after this decision was made from Mitch McConnell that it was the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia that would benefit. Now we're seeing it play out.

Good morning.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Yes, we certainly are. And in fact, without having to fire a single shot, Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime managed to accomplish one of their key goals. And that is to get the Americans out. And now that they have or at least are in the process of withdrawing from northern Syria, we are seeing the regime moving up into territory it hasn't controlled in years.

We are seeing some clashes still ongoing between the Turks and their rebel Syrian Arab allies on the ground, as well as the Kurdish fighters in some areas, such as the town of Ras al-Ain that is behind me. But it's worth noting at this stage that the bloodshed that we're seeing in Syria is a result of years, multiple administrations' lack of coherent policy, when it comes to what's happening inside that war- torn country. Plus, broadly speaking, the U.S. being unable to play Middle Eastern geopolitics, because every single other player here is staring at a multi-dimensional chessboard, where it's the U.S., it seems, is still trying to figure out how checkers works in this region.

That being said, this meeting that's coming up is meant to try to convince the Turks to agree to a cease-fire. And it's hard to see what kind of leverage the U.S. even has, at this stage, because right now, the key player, when it comes to being able to negotiate with all sides is Russia. And President Erdogan has very openly said that his government, he will not negotiate with terrorists. And that they may even not necessarily meet with the U.S. delegation. He himself, whether or not he's going to meet with them, that is still a question that we have yet to answer and see.

BRIGGS: Excellent reporting there from the Turkish/Syrian border from Arwa Damon. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.

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ROMANS: All right. America's jobs market is strong, but the pace of hiring has slowed since 2018 and there are cracks forming in manufacturing. Automation is a big concern here. A McKenzie study found that automation could kill a quarter of U.S. jobs during the next ten years.

Now, during the debate, several candidates were asked how they would prevent those job losses.

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an infrastructure which is collapsing. We can put 15 million people to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our waste water plants, airports, et cetera.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. We have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month. It actually recognized the work that is happening in our families and our communities. It helps all Americans transition.

WARREN: The data show that we've had a lot of problems with losing jobs, but the principal reason has been bad trade policy. The principal reason has been a bunch of corporations, giant multinational corporations, who have been calling the shots on trade. We also need to make it easier to join a union and give unions more power when they negotiate. We need to restructure strength in this economy and that is where it starts.

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ROMANS: The unemployment rate, of course, is a generational, 50-year low of 3.5 percent. But the president, President Trump was able to capitalize on that job angst the last time around. Can the Democrats get that high ground this time?

Let's take a look at markets around the world. Right now, a mixed performance in global stock markets. On Wall Street, futures right now appear to be leaning a bit lower. Stocks finished higher Tuesday after major companies reported better than expected earnings.

But this, the International Monetary Fund said it expects weaker global growth, citing rising trade and geopolitical tensions. Now expects growth of 3 percent. That is the slowest global growth since the financial crisis.

BRIGGS: The nation's capital not entirely focused on the politics of impeachment.

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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: There it is! The World Series coming to D.C. The Nationals complete the four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. They put up seven runs in the first to win 7-4. First World Series berth in franchise history, first for a Washington team since 1943.

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.

Our gift to you is the walkup music of the Gerardo Parra of Washington Nationals. Listen. Mommy shark

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: That is one of the great new traditions in baseball. Although, isn't Baby Shark technically speaking, the little guy, Romans? I think --

ROMANS: I think it is.

BRIGGS: I think they're going through all of the motion, but Baby Shark.

ROMANS: But he's just like us, working parents. Just working parents.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Congrats to D.C. You're welcome, folks. Four hours of "NEW DAY" start right now.

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