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Interview with Democratic Presidential Candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg about Democratic Debate regarding Health Care Costs and Gun Control Legislation; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is Interviewed About Last Night's Debate and Her Challenging Elizabeth Warren On Health Care, Taxes. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The evidence of obstruction of Congress continues to mount.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: House Democrats have wasted no time throwing fairness and precedent to the wind.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't really think this impeachment process is going to take very long. I know a confession when I see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, October 16th. It is 8:00 in the east. And Senator Elizabeth Warren wakes up this morning with a taste of what it's like to be a frontrunner in the 2020 raise, bruising at times. The more moderate Democrats or some of the other Democrats on the debate stage last night went after Warren when she would not give a clear answer on whether she would raise middle class taxes to fund her Medicare for all plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a yes or no that didn't get a yes or no answer. But 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Mayor Pete Buttigieg is standing by live to talk to us in just a moment about that moment. Also breaking overnight, CNN has learned that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a big star of the progressive movement, is gearing up to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders on Saturday. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are expected to join her. How will their support change the race and perhaps affect some of those progressive voters supporting Elizabeth Warren?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, and breaking just moment ago, a brand-new poll. This shows numbers on impeachment. The just released Gallup poll finds 52 percent of Americans favor the impeachment and removal of President Trump. That's up from 45 percent in June. Just about two hours from now, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to testify behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry. A State Department official testified yesterday that he was told to lay low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. So we'll have more on all of that in a moment.

But first, let's talk about last night's debate. And joining us now is 2020 presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Mayor Buttigieg, great to have you here.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that moment that we just played in our intro where you went at it with Senator Elizabeth Warren about her Medicare for all plan. And you wanted a simple yes or no answer of will she raise taxes? And what she ended up saying, time and again, was, Americans' household costs will come down with her plan. What does it matter to you what bucket it comes out of?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, not only is it important to have yes or no answers to yes or no questions at a time when people are so frustrated with Washington speak, but also there's still been no explanation for a multitrillion-dollar hole in this plan. I have a lot of respect for Senator Warren, but last night she was more specific and forthcoming about the number of selfies she's taken than about how this plan is going to be funded. And that's a real problem, especially when there's a better way to deliver health care coverage to everybody.

What most Americans want is to have an opportunity to walk away from their private plan, to have that, what I call Medicare for all who want it alternative, but also to be able to keep their private plan if they would prefer. And I think that's the right answer, especially when you do the math and realize it's also an answer that is paid for, unlike the Medicare for all, whether you want it or not plans, that still have this giant question mark over how it's supposes to work.

CAMEROTA: Just to be clear, when she says that middle class families will have more money in their pocketbook because health care costs will come down under her plan, you don't believe her?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, the important thing is that health care costs will go down under my plan, too, without blowing a multitrillion-dollar hole in the treasury, and also without commanding millions of Americans to abandon their private plan, whether they want to or not. I think the public plan we're going to create, that Medicare for all who want that I'm proposing, I really think it will be better than most of the private plans, and I think most Americans will opt to cross over and accept that plan. But I'm not going to order you to do it. Let's leave the choice with you. Leave the choice with the American people and trust them to make the right decision for their health and for their family.

CAMEROTA: Before we get back to more of the substance that was on display last night, I want to ask you about the style, because there have been various pundits who commented last night and this morning that you seemed to take a different tact last night, that you went in in a more fiery fashion to confront some of your rivals. And I'm just wondering if that was your strategy last night.

[08:05:00]

BUTTIGIEG: Well, my strategy was to get a message out about where America is headed and what kind of president we're going to need, and, certainly, express that the best that I could on the debate stage. Look, this is not just about who has the best policy, although, of course, I believe my policy plans are the right ones for America. This is about who is going to be able to pick up the pieces and move the country forward after the Trump presidency comes to an end. Everybody on that stage is competing to be the first president of the post-Trump era, and that means making sure that we can advance these bold initiatives.

And make no mistake, what I'm proposing from health care to immigration to climate is bold, but also to do it in a way that's going to unify the American people. When we know that by the time the Trump presidency ends, one way or the other, we're going to be even more divided, even more polarized, even more torn apart by politics than we are right now. And that means being able to fight is not enough. We've got to be able to unite as well.

CAMEROTA: And did you feel you were more fiery last night?

BUTTIGIEG: I definitely get fired up talking about these issues and making clear where I stand and making clear why. So folks had a chance to see why I care so much about this, so much the better.

CAMEROTA: OK, so here's another moment where you clashed with another fellow Democrat on the stage. This one was former congressman Beto O'Rourke where you objected to what he was laying out for how to get assault weapons off the streets. So let's play this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: I don't need lessons from you on courage, political or personal. But the problem is not other Democrats who don't agree with your particular idea of how to handle this. The problem is the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the fight to them.

BETO O'ROURKE, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you, Mayor Buttigieg, described this policy as a shiny object, that was a slap in the face to every single one of those groups and every single survivor of a mass casualty assault with an AR-15 and an AK-47. We must buy them back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: We just had Beto O'Rourke on our show. And he basically said that there's nothing wrong with being aspirational, with trying to coming up with a bold plan to get assault weapons off the streets, and that that's what he's doing and trying to follow the blueprint of Australia that's done it in a successful way.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I think what we really need to do is remember that the obstacle to gun reform in this country is the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress. And if we can deliver an assault weapons ban, red flag laws, and universal background checks, that will be the biggest advancement on gun law reform in my adult lifetime. We are definitely dreaming big here. And I'm trying to keep the focus on what the American majority is ready to enact right now, because we can't wait. Gun violence is tearing communities apart. Here we have an opportunity to actually get something done instead of just the talk that we've been hearing for years and years and years. We've got to have the focus and the discipline to make that happen.

CAMEROTA: What do you think changes for you and your campaign after last night?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it certainly went very well for us, and I think it's an opportunity to reach even more supporters. We're going to be in Iowa later today continuing to press in these early states, earn more supporters, build our coalition, develop our grassroots movement, and it was just one more opportunity to get our message out about how I'm going to pick up the pieces as president and unify this country toward bold action to solve these big problems that aren't taking a break during the impeachment process.

What's going on in Washington right now is, obviously, incredibly important. Meanwhile, the need to deliver an economy that actually works for us, not just looks good on paper, the need to do something about climate change before it's too late, all of these major issues from gun violence to immigration, they're not taking a break. And I'm running to be the president who can drive action on that, engage the new American majority that is with us on every one of these major issues, and do it in a way that's going to unify these people.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what's going to in Washington very quickly. In terms of the inquiry into impeachment, how long do you think -- at the moment, people seem to be quite engaged in all the developments. How long do you think the American public will be engaged in terms of the timeline? When would you like to see Nancy Pelosi call for a vote on the articles of impeachment, if that's what they're going to do?

BUTTIGIEG: I'll leave the strategy to her. What I will say is we need quick action as much as responsibly can take place, because this is a constitutional emergency. Now, a lot of obstacles are being thrown up by the president, obviously, trying to stonewall this in every possible way. I think the task for us presidential candidates is to continue to speak to why that process is important and to offer our vision for what's going to happen in this country when the Trump presidency comes to an end, because, again, this presidency will end one way or the other. And what we need most is a future president who can -- in addition to one who can beat President Trump if he is, indeed, the nominee next year, also can move the country ahead.

[08:10:01]

So this process will play out, as it must. The president has left Congress with no choice. And, really, I think what the process in Washington is about is to ensure that future presidents, looking back on this moment draw the lesson that no one is above the law, instead of drawing the lesson that a president can get away with anything, which is the message that would have been sent if Congress didn't step up and act.

CAMEROTA: Do you think President Trump is not going to be the GOP nominee next year?

BUTTIGIEG: Who knows? The most important thing is that we have the answers that are going to serve the country well. And when this presidency comes to an end, it -- first, it's a nice image to think about the first day after the Trump administration, to think about this particular blend of chaos and corruption coming to an end. But when you really think about where the country is going to be, I'm picturing the dust clearing as we look at some of the rubble of our norms and institutions that have just been smashed by this president, not to mention the destruction of American credibility and American values abroad with moves like the betrayal of our Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS. We are going to have our work cut out for us, no matter what.

CAMEROTA: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, great to talk to you. Thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: I don't know if that was a new line, but Elizabeth Warren being more specific about the number of selfies than her Medicare for all plan, interesting to hear that from Mayor Buttigieg. Senator Amy Klobuchar also took aim at Senator Elizabeth Warren on the debate stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Will that performance help her qualify for the next debate? Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:52]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So one of the more talked about candidates after the big debate last night, Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar. Here is one moment where she took direct aim at Senator Elizabeth Warren over her plans of how she plans to fund Medicare for all.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At least Bernie's being honest here and saying how he's going to pay or 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.

And I'm tired of hearing, whenever I say these things, oh, it's Republican talking a point (ph). You are making a Republican talking point right now in this room by coming out for a plan that's going to do that.

(END VIDOECLIP)

BERMAN: And Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us now. Good morning, Senator. Thank you so much for being with us. Let me begin by telling you -

(CROSSTALK)

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: -- we had an Iowa focus group of eight people with Gary Tuchman watching this debate and five out of the eight people watching named you as either the winner or the person they were most impressed with or the co-winner or the co-person they were most impressed with. So my question based on that is what did you feel like you did differently in this debate?

KLOBUCHAR: I thought that this was - it was a lengthy debate, but it gave me the opportunity to really tell people where I was coming from, and I have done that in the other debates, specifically the last one, but this one for me, I had the time to go through so many issues, not just healthcare, but also to talk about everything from my concerns about what the president has been doing with foreign relations to addressing the opioid epidemic and long-term care. So many things that have been really left off of the debate stage that matter to people in their day-to-day lives.

And I've been talking from the very beginning about how you have to show how you're going to pay for things because my concerns that people keep saying, hey, you can have this for free. You can gave that for free. Hey, this is free. And everyone would like things for free, but what we have to figure out as a government how do we make sure that the people who need the help are getting it? Hard working people and making sure they can afford to send their kids to college and that it works for everyone and that we're not, for instance, giving free college to rich kids, which is what some of these proposals do -

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: All right.

KLOBUCHAR: -- or we're not adding to the debt like Donald Trump. So that gave me the opportunity to talk about that.

BERMAN: To that point, you suggested one thing you did differently or were able to do more of is to tell people where you come from. You also spoke a great deal about where you think Senator Elizabeth Warren is going, and we played the sound before of you saying at least Bernie Sanders is being honest. The implication there is that you don't believe Senator Warren is being honest, correct?

KLOBUCHAR: I think the implication was whatever adjective I used was more like show your math and say how you're going to pay for Medicare of all. It's incredibly expensive, and it cuts 149 million people off their current health insurance in four years, and that's a lot of people that would be affected. And I think that they just need to come forward. That's what Bernie did in one of the other debates -

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So is Elizabeth Warren not being straight?

KLOBUCHAR: -- because remember -

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Is she not being straight about her Medicare for all plan?

KLOBUCHAR: She just needs to come out and say how she's going to pay for it. That's all. That's what I'm saying, and I'm - and we're waiting to see it because I have shown how I'm going to pay for everything I've done because I am so concerned about adding to the debt. I think we've got to be really smart about this for the American people.

BERMAN: There's one other moment when you're talking about the wealth tax and the idea of billionaires - in stigmatizing (ph) billionaires. Let me play that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

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

(END VIDEOCLIP)

BERMAN: Why the contrast - the repeated contrast that you were trying to draw with Senator Warren?

KLOBUCHAR: Again, she has repeatedly said -- and I haven't always had an opportunity to respond -- things like you have to show you're going to fight for things and implying very clearly that those of us who have different approaches aren't fighting.

[08:20:12]

I'm fighting. I just think I have a better way. And what I would like to do is some very concrete things. Take the capital gains tax and put it at the personal income level, that would literally bring in hundreds of billions of dollars.

Doing something about the hedge fund loophole, that brings in $14 billion. Look at the Trump tax bill that added over $1 trillion on hardworking Americans in terms of debt. Take the pieces of that, that hurt people, the corporate tax rate went way too low, to 21 percent. If you take it up to, say, 28 percent, every point you go is $100 billion. Those are specific changes that are going to help people.

The international tax rate, you could save $150 billion if you just do that. So, those are the kinds of things that I want to talk about because I think they're very concrete.

BERMAN: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm open to looking at Elizabeth's idea. I like her. I think she is really bringing something strong to this discussion, that is for sure. But, I don't like the implication, that just because you have different ideas of how to reduce the prices of pharmaceuticals or how to bring down the cost of college, that somehow that those ideas aren't' good enough. I think they're just different ideas and I'm fighting for those just as hard as she is.

BERMAN: And the language you use, and this stuck out to me, you said, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of that.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BERMAN: Why'd you choose that language?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. You know, I think it just was honest. I'm pretty straightforward, I tell the truth as I see it. From the moment that I introduced my candidacy in the middle of a blizzard in the Mississippi River I haven't changed. I said the, that I think one of our biggest problems is that we need to cross the river of our divides to a higher place in our politics.

That we need to stop being so divisive. As I said last night, we need to look up from our phones and look at each other, and change the tone of our politics. Because, yes, this is about our policy debates. It's great to have them, at least we're having debates. In the Donald Trump Party they just -- he says jump, and they say, how high.

We're having legitimate debates about policy, but we also -- what gets lost in all this is the mean tweets and what he does every single day. And I want to change that tone. And one of them is by not dissing each other ideas by saying they're not good enough.

BERMAN: I will note that you were the candidate with the third most amount of speaking time last night. You spoke the third most of all the candidates there. There's that chart right there, which again, I think probably felt different for you than the past debates.

And there is a question about, now, the next debate, which is a month away, and I think you're three qualifying polls away, if I'm not mistaken, for qualifying for the next debate. Do you think this performance will help you? What's your plan to get on that stage?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, we've made a lot of the qualifications. We have the number of donors -- small donors from all over the country and more people can join us at amyklobuchar.com.

But we also are doing better and better in gaining momentum. And in Iowa, we are going there for a bus tour over the weekend for three days, hitting many, many, many towns, which should be a lot of fun. I love campaigning like that. My husband is going to be with me.

And then, just today, we're going to New Hampshire and going to every single county in New Hampshire. There's not that many of them. But, we're going to be in all of them. And the point there is that this is about debates, but it's a lot more than debates.

It's also grass roots politics and I'm really proud in Iowa to have more endorsements, elected and former elected officials than any other candidate as of two weeks ago, according to Iowa starting line.

And I think that just speaks to the fact that I get out there and meet people. And once they get to know me, which is what I hope happened last night in the debate with your focus group in Iowa, whoever else is listening, we get -- we gain momentum. That's how I've been running this campaign from the beginning.

Never I though I was going to be the front runner right away, being from a mid-sized state and not having run for president before. And I've gotten a lot done for people in the U.S. Senate.

BERMAN: Senator Amy Klobuchar, the people of New Hampshire will tell you it's not the number of counties, it's the quality. Thank you very much for being with.

KLOBUCHAR: That is exactly right.

BERMAN: Thank you for being with us morning.

KLOBUCHAR: Great. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Enjoy New Hampshire.

Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Don't take it for granite. That's what they say in New Hampshire.

BERMAN: Oh, that's what they say in New Hampshire, yes.

CAMEROTA: All right. Now to this you other top story. A State Department official says he was given a warning when he tried to speak about Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine. More on the impeachment inquiry, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:29:27]

CAMEROTA: All right. We just heard from Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar. Both stepped into the spotlight during last night's debate by taking aim at the new front-runner.

BERMAN: A new front-runner.

CAMEROTA: A new front-runner, Elizabeth Warren.

So let's see what the upshot of all of this has been. Let's bring in David Gregory, CNN political analyst, and Bianna Golodryga, CNN senior global affairs analyst.

Bianna, what is your overall impression of what happened last night?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Your global impression?

CAMEROTA: Global.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The international perspective.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: Well, it seemed clear that the 11 candidates up there believe she's now the front-runner, and that's why you saw so much of the focus going after her, going after her on specifics, going after her on health care, going after her on a number of --

END