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Race Tightens In Iowa Ahead Of Significant Dinner Tonight; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Responds To Critics By Releasing Medicare-For- All Plan; Americans Divided On Impeachment, Many Independents Against. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 1, 2019 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, tonight, candidates swarm Iowa for an event that has been a turning point for past Democratic presidents, including Obama, and the race in this first state to pick a candidate is tightening.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren finally reveals how she'll pay for Medicare- for-all. And Joe Biden calls it, quote, "mathematical gymnastics."

Also, he's now the fourth president to face impeachment, but this week also brought some bright spots for President Trump. And his brand is synonymous with Gotham. But hear why President Trump is ditching New York for a move to Florida.

But, first, we begin with the 2020 battle for the Hawkeye State in a dinner where presidents are made. Today, Democratic candidates flock to the Iowa for the biggest moment yet in their campaigns, and that is to speak at the liberty for justice celebration that's hosted by the Iowa Democratic Party in Des Moines, which is the same dinner that helped launch President Obama's winning bid in 2008, and the pressure is certainly on.

Candidates are now scrambling to make their mark in the first state to pick a candidate after a new poll there shows the race in Iowa is tightening and there's still no clear leader. Right now, Elizabeth Warren is holding a narrow lead among likely Democratic caucus goers. She's at 22 percent. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden are tightly clustered right behind her.

And Biden is now trying to make up ground with a $4million ad buy in Iowa today selling his middle class message both on TV and in digital ads, like this one.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see the backbone of the nation as we rebuild this middle class which has been clobbered. This time, everyone comes along, everyone. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Today's event will also be a last-ditch effort for struggling candidates like Senator Kamala Harris, who just recently made cuts to her staff and pulled them from other early states to move them into Iowa.

We have CNN Political Director David Chalian for us in Des Moines. And, David, tell us who are the candidates to watch tonight?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hey, Brianna. Yes, 13,000 tickets were sold for this event tonight. The Iowa Democratic Party is claiming this is the biggest gathering of Democrats prior to the Milwaukee Convention next summer.

So I think you're going to look for candidates to look at two M's, message and movement. It's an opportunity for them to really show organizational strength on the ground by having their troops out here at all of these rallies planned in advance of the dinner to show a real show of strength, if you will, for their campaign organization, and then the message tonight, what they say in these speeches. As you noted, Barack Obama delivered a speech that helped fuel his rise in Iowa past Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Clearly, the poll you just showed, Brianna, Pete Buttigieg is the one that has the movement right now. He is clustered in that top tier, but that is a new position for him to be in Iowa. And so, I would watch very carefully how he tries to take that momentum that he seems to have here in the kickoff state and push that forward tonight at the dinner.

KEILAR: I mean, it just proves you can never count someone out this far out from this early contest. Is there a reason for why Buttigieg is doing so well? Would you like to see other polls as well that might show where his position is?

CHALIAN: Yes. Well, you might remember, after the last debate, I think the two candidates that sort of had the buzz out of that debate were Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who is much further down on the poll, but she's in that next single digit tier there now at 4 percent.

I do think that it's sort of a moment in this race where people are looking at the ideological divide of the party, the left progressive wing of the Sanders-Warren movement. And with candidates now like Buttigieg or Klobuchar trying to coalesce and compete with Joe Biden for that center more traditional lane in the party.

KEILAR: All right. David, thank you so much, reporting for us from Des Moines.

And it's really been the trillion questions for weeks now on the campaign trail, now, Elizabeth Warren says she has an answer.

Today, the senator released details of her highly anticipated Medicare-for-all plan, and this includes how she intends to pay for it. It's $20.5 trillion. How does she plan pay for that without costing the middle class a single penny?

MJ Lee is joining me now. And, MJ Warren's critics say that her vision for Medicare-for-all unrealistic, Joe Biden is calling this financial gymnastics. How is Warren planning to do this?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, she has come under so much criticism over the last few weeks for not having a plan to pay for Medicare-for-all. And, first of all, what this plan does for her politically is that she now gets to answer that question of will middle class taxes go up under your plan. And, in fact, she was just asked that question in Des Moines, Iowa, so let's take a listen to that first.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a plan that shows so we can have Medicare-for-all without raising taxes one cent on middle class families. It's all fully paid for by asking the top 1 percent and giant corporations to pay a fair share.

I believe in America, where we can have a government that isn't just working better and better for those at the top but a government that's working for all of us.


LEE: All right. So let's dive into the numbers. The price tag that she is putting on this is, as you said, $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over ten years.

And if you take a look at the screen there, some ways in which Warren says that we can get to that 20.5 trillion, obviously, a massive number, including things like continued employer contributions. That makes up for about half of the total. And then other things, like cracking down on tax evasion and fraud and beefing up her wealth tax. This is a wealth tax that she has already put out.

But now, she is saying, I'm amending that to make it so that billionaires actually pay more on taxes than what I had previously suggested. So there are a lot of numbers here that are going to raise a lot of questions for critics and scholars and experts who really understand how difficult it is to do such a gigantic overhaul of the healthcare system.

And importantly, and politically speaking, it's very interesting that Elizabeth Warren now says she is going to put out another plan in the coming weeks dealing with the transition of Medicare-for-all. And, Brianna, what this could mean is that could offer up a transition plan that is different from what Bernie Sanders has proposed, just fascinating because he is after all the author of Medicare-for-all. Bri?

KEILAR: Yes, we'll be looking for that. MJ, thank you. We do have a lot of questions and we have someone with some answers. Let's talk now with Julie Rovner. She is the Chief Washington Correspondent for "Kaiser Health News."

And this is the big question, as Elizabeth Warren is saying, employer contributions are going to take care of a lot of this, we'll crack down on tax evasion and fraud that billionaire's tax is going to go up even higher. Can she really put this $20.5 trillion Medicare-for-all plan together without raising taxes on the middle class?

JULIE ROVNER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "KAISER HEALTH NEWS": Well, she certainly says she can. Of course, what you really have to remember is that this isn't something that a president does anyway. This is something that Congress would have to do. Obviously, the president needs to propose what they want.

The other thing that's really interesting about this plan is less the financing and more of the -- you can't figure out what something is going to cost unless you say how much you're going to pay for it. So she has basically put meat on the bones of what has here for have been an outline for Medicare-for-all.

She has said what she is going to pay and how much she's going to pay for, what, for instance, she's suggesting that she's going to pay Medicare rates, current Medicare rates, with some adjustments to both doctors and hospitals. That is something that the very powerful healthcare industry is not going to look at very kindly. It will mean a lot of money out of their pockets.

KEILAR: And those were key stakeholders in the ACA. I mean, these were folks who, I recall, Congress and the Obama administration were looking at them. It was important that they got some buy-in, because, quite frankly, they couldn't push this through without that. They are very influential in Congress.

So if you are -- if the government is only paying these Medicare rates to doctors into hospitals, how does that change what the American healthcare system looks like?

ROVNER: Well, obviously, right now, I think everybody agrees that we are paying too much. Even Republicans agree that Americans, in general, are paying too much for healthcare and everybody wants to bring those prices down. The question is can you bring them down that dramatically.

It will be interesting to see what she proposes for that transition that this is the big question. Congress is grappling with it right now in terms of drug prices, in terms of surprise medical bills, how to keep, basically, patients from being gouged by the healthcare industry. And that's, by far, the hardest thing.

And I think that's where a lot of people will say this is not the most realistic, not sort of how she pays for it, but how much she's intending to pay.

KEILAR: Because, right now, if someone, let's say, goes to the hospital, people are paying different amounts, right, depending on the kind of insurance they have, depending if they're on Medicaid, on Medicare, or they're on Tricare. And the hospital will actually boost the price on, let's say, someone with private insurance because they know that they are going to get paid more and they make up some of the losses.

But you can see a situation where if you're paying at the Medicare rates, the hospitals, depending on what that rate is, could be taking a loss on every patient then, right? That's what they would argue?

ROVNER: What Warren is arguing in a very detailed plan is that the hospitals will make up the thing -- the cost that they would lose from the higher paying private patients because they'll get paid more for their lowest paying patients, for the Medicaid patients, for the people who don't have insurance at all who sometimes can' pay anything, and that it should even add, and that will save on their administrative costs.


Hospitals don't necessarily see it that way. And as you pointed out, hospitals have a lot of cloud in Congress.

KEILAR: They sure do. All right, Julie, thank you so much for explaining this to us. Julie Rovner, we appreciate it.

The president vowing that he did not do anything wrong, and he's willing to read the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president out loud in a fireside chat.

Plus, Democrats advance the impeachment investigation and it actually made for a good day for the Trump campaign. We're going to tell you why.

And as New York officials say, good riddance, the reason why President Trump decided to move from New York to Florida.



KEILAR: To impeach or not to impeach? The American public is split. In a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 49 percent support the impeachment and removal of President Trump from office, 47 percent are opposed.

And as the House is moving towards this next phase of the impeachment inquiry, which they approved with a vote yesterday, here are some other numbers the president may not want to see from the same poll. 55 percent of people polled say the president did something wrong in his dealings with Ukraine. 60 percent say it was inappropriate for President Trump to have involved his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in U.S. policy on Ukraine. In testimony, we have heard about Giuliani running sort of a shadow state department. And, finally, there is the president's job approval rating, 38 percent. Our Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. And, Kaitlan, it seems that the president is really focused on the Senate right now as he combats some of these headwinds that we're seeing in these polls.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. He's ramped up his calls to Senate Republicans after Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, had to tell him, give him some blunt advice, essentially, tell him, stop attacking members of your own party because they could determine the fate of your own presidency.

But in addition to that, the president also seems to be taking matters into his own hands, telling the Washington Examiner in an interview last night that he may consider reading the transcript of that call with the Ukrainian president live on television. He says he believes that will help the American people see that he did nothing wrong.

Though we should note that there are people inside this White House who didn't think it was a wise idea to release that transcript in the first place, much less to have the president read it live on television. But so far, aides have not provided any details whether or not that's a serious thing that the president is actually going to take on.

But something else the White House is looking as Democrats are moving forward after now that that vote yesterday with everything underway is considering beefing up the strategy here. Are they going to hire staffers, add attorneys to the legal team?

And though the president said last night he doesn't believe feel like they need anyone because he says the staffers they have are good, that is not what we're hearing from other people who say they do think that the president needs a little bit of help to help spearhead the strategy here, even though, according to the press secretary who was just on Fox News in the last several hours, she said she believes the president is going to serve as his own war room as he faces this impeachment strategy.

KEILAR: Those are a lot of hats to wear for the president. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

And as Kaitlan mentioned in an interview with the Examiner, President Trump, he actually said he doesn't need a separate team to fight impeachment because he already has the whole Republican Party behind him as his vocal defenders.

I want to bring in Susan Glasser. She's our CNN Global Affairs Analyst and writer for "The New Yorker." And we also have CNN Political Commentator, Tara Setmayer.

OK. Let's look at this poll, this ABC News/Washington Post poll, 47 percent support impeachment and removal, 47 percent do not, but look at independents, 47 percent support impeachment and removal, 49 percent oppose this.

Tara, when Republicans are looking at this, specifically Senate Republicans, let's say, who the president is courting, what are they seeing there?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they're seeing that these numbers are higher than Nixon's were at this point during Watergate, and that was before public hearings. We're going into a phase now where the American people are now going to hear directly from some of the most damning testimony that Democrats have already heard, demonstrating that the president of the United States has engaged in abuse of power.

So I think Senate Republicans are looking at this. They represent an entire state. They don't just represent the Republicans in their district, like House members do. So I think Senate Republicans have a much more sober approach, most of them anyway, because they have to be the jurors here.

But these numbers here -- I mean, if I were the president of the United States, I wouldn't be happy. The numbers have been trending upward since this started, and that's with all the complaints and the muddying of the waters and the dishonesty coming from -- frankly, from House Republicans about to process and the president. So now, as the process becomes more transparent, I don't think that those numbers for impeachment will go down.

KEILAR: But when you look at, say, the numbers for fundraising, the president has done very well, Susan. He had a huge haul yesterday, right, $3 million. So people who support are in President Trump's circle are also looking at that and saying, maybe our folks are going to make the difference. I mean, do you think?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, first of all, President Trump is an incumbent president. That comes with enormous advantages.


At the moment, the economy is not the greatest ever, as he always says, but certainly, it's still strong.

Given all those things, you would actually expect him not only to be leading for re-election next year but to be in a much better position in the polls than he is.

So he is going to be a strong candidate. I think the assumption at this point barring a radical change is that there's little to no prospect of 20 Republicans breaking ranks with him in the Senate and actually convicting him. Remember that we are going to be going into this after the impeachment in the House, which I think we all think is actually moving forward. You're looking at a Senate trial in the election year. That's never happened before.

In fact, both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the previous two modern presidents who were in impeachment proceedings, they had already been re-elected to a second term. So they didn't face the voters ever again.

And I think that we have, really, frankly, not begun to reckon with what that means. President Trump mentions impeachment a lot. He seems to think it helps his fundraising, that it helps him maintain the loyalty of his supporters.

KEILAR: You said we haven't reckoned with what that means.

GLASSER: It's going to be crazy.

KEILAR: So what is -- that's the understatement, right? So what does it mean? Does it mean that what is supposed to be the system of checks and balances between coequal branches of government is actually, I don't know, unicorn dust? What does that mean?

SETMAYER: I think we've seen that the idea of checks and balances has gone out the window for the last three years since Donald Trump has been in office and Republicans have been the biggest enablers of this. They're hypocrites.

I remember, I was around when the Bill Clinton impeachment was going on. And I remember the Lindsey Grahams of the world are going out there saying the president doesn't have to commit a crime and how Mike Pence penned op-eds about morality and honesty being important for the office of presidency.

All those people have been taken away in the invasion of the body snatchers, because now, they're completely taking the opposite position, trying to sell the American people B.S. about the president did nothing wrong and that a quid pro quo with a foreign country is -- there's nothing wrong with that now. I mean, it is really the world turned upside down.

So some of the numbers, I think, also that are key here from that poll are swing states, states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin. The president -- it's over 50 percent in favor of impeachment, except for Florida, it's 49 percent but as a plurality. These are states that he needs on a national election. So we need to keep an eye on where those numbers are as well as far as impeachment.

KEILAR: What about this fireside chat idea, that the president actually thinks it would be a good idea if he read the transcript out loud, which any sane reasonable person would find pretty damning? What do you think about it?

GLASSER: Well, we'll see if it actually happens. It's very consistent with Donald Trump's approach to politics, especially when he's under threat. He wants to always pull the microphone and the camera back to himself directly, look at his extraordinary performance, 48 minutes announcing the death of the terrorist leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Sunday. This is a performance unlike any that any other president we could conceive of would have given.

He appears to have made up out of whole cloth the notion of Baghdadi whimpering and crying. It wasn't enough to mention a very significant victory on the part of the Unite States and for the world, right, to have this leader of the Islamic State gone, someone who caused death and murder and mayhem for millions. And so Trump is applying that same approach, it seems to me, to impeachment, put himself in the middle of the story at all times, a fireside that, I mean, FDR rolling over in his grave. I mean, it's the inversion of a national leader pulling the American people together in the midst of a crisis. This is ripping the American people apart in the middle of a crisis.

STEMAYER: So he already didn't lie when he had those fireside chats. He was actually trying, to Susan's point, during the depression, to reassure the American people that everything is going to be OK and he wasn't using lies, rhetoric and propaganda and Russian talking points to do it unlike what the president of United States does on a daily basis with his enablers on other channels and talk radio trying to tell the American people nothing is happening, so the gas lighting is unbelievable. I guess that's a fire the fireside chat is gas lighting.

The other aspect of this, I hope, for those of us who believe that they still believe in the constitutional separation of powers and the fact that abuse of power is happening in the Oval Office, I hope he does do it. Because this is going to -- he is going to overstep. He thinks that everything is about him, he's such a narcissist. It's about me. Everyone is going to listen to what I have to say.

Don't listen to the war veterans, the decorated war veterans who said, like Vindman, that this was a national security risk and was so concerned. He went two superiors twice about it.

Don't listen to Bill Taylor, an ambassador who served his country honorably for 50 years.


Don't listen to those folks. Don't listen to my National Security Adviser John Bolton, who thought that this was a drug deal going on. Don't listen to them. Listen to me.

He is so dishonest. It's unbelievable. So you know what, I hope he does do it and then the Americans can hear out his own mouth that it was a quid pro quo and that Republicans go record defending that this is OK for the president of the United States to do.

KEILAR: Tara, Susan, thank you both so much. I appreciate it.

Good riddance, that was the sentiment among officials in New York now that President Trump says he's changing his residency to Florida. What he stands to gain financially and politically with the move?

Plus, the president slams the city of Chicago's crime rate even though numbers show a big drop. It's not stopping him going after the city's top cop though.