Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Stumps Ahead of Town Hall; Nikki Haley's New Book; Tackling Unemployment Among America's Veterans. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 11, 2019 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Is going to face Democratic voters tonight in a CNN town hall in Iowa. In most national polls, Biden leads the Democratic pack.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. But state polling is really important, especially in Iowa. A Quinnipiac poll out just last week has him in fourth place.

So what do they think of that? Our Dana Bash went one on one on the campaign trail with the former vice president when he was in New Hampshire.

Watch this.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the rite of passage for anyone running in New Hampshire, filing for the primary in person. And for Joe Biden, a chance to show passion behind a candidacy that leans into the practical.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Eight years of Donald Trump will forever and fundamentally change the character of this country. And that's why I am running.

BASH (on camera): Do you feel that people are saying, you know what, I'm thinking about Joe Biden because they love you and they want you to be president, or is it more, you're the guy who can beat Donald Trump, and is that OK?

BIDEN: I think it's both.

BASH (voice over): Spending the day with him on the trail, we saw both.

PAUL REMUS, NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY VOTER: He has the best chance of beating Trump.

BASH (on camera): Is that what matters most?

REMUS: Yes. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Joe Biden is just an excellent man.

BASH (voice over): Out here he's fighting a two-front war against Democratic rivals and the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think sleepy Joe may be able to limp across the finish line.

BASH (on camera): Are Donald Trump's attacks on you helping you?

BIDEN: Yes, they are.

BASH: How so?

BIDEN: Well, they're helping me in every way.

BASH (voice over): Because, he argues, Democratic voters see that the president considers him a threat. Riding in his car to an event, he elaborated.

BASH (on camera): Are you trying to win the primary by talking about the general?

BIDEN: The reason I'm running is because of the general. I'm not running against with anything having to do with the character of any of the candidates who are running. What I'm doing is trying to make the case that Trump is a gigantic impediment to this country moving forward.

BASH (voice over): But many Democrats see this primary as a philosophical debate inside the party, increasingly playing out in a battle with Elizabeth Warren over her Medicare for all plan.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are the richest country in the history of the world. And, yes, we can afford health care for our people.

BASH (on camera): What is elitist about structural change?

BIDEN: There's nothing elitist about -- well, I was responding to a comment she made. She said that anyone who disagreed with her and took her on, on her issue of Medicare for all somehow either was a coward, wasn't willing to stand up and state what they thought, was somehow, you know, doing something -- was -- I think the phrase was, should be in the Republican primary. When we talk about Medicare for all and people talk about it taking two years, five years, ten years to get it done, that doesn't give any real reassurance to people out there.

BASH: Can somebody who supports Medicare for all beat Donald Trump?

BIDEN: I'm not going to make that jump. I think there's a much better way.

BASH (voice over): On the stump, an issue in his wheelhouse, the Violence Against Women Act, which he helped write.

BIDEN: There's a lot that's happened that's been good. So much more work we have to do.

BASH: Later, a town hall, where kids asked some tough questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you going to make schools more safe from mass shootings?

BIDEN: Think about this. Those of you who are over 30, could you ever imagine having asked that question when you were a kid?

BASH: This is Biden's third go at the presidency, which he admits is tricky.

BIDEN: The good news is the bad news, everybody knows me, everybody has an opinion. So it's harder to mislabel me or to say something about me that's not true. I have weaknesses. It's easier to talk about the weaknesses. But the generic point is that people know who I am.

BASH: Familiarity and comfort draw voters to see him, even though some aren't completely sold.

BASH (on camera): You're holding Biden signs and you're still not 100 percent?

RUTH KOVACS, NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY VOTER: Well, as I say, you know, we like -- we like the message. Like to know, we have always loved Joe Biden.

TERRI ARANGIO, NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY VOTER: He's a likable guy. He says what it is. Sometimes he has his little gaffes, but I think that's what makes Joe, Joe.

BASH: First time you ran for president it was 1987.

BIDEN: That's right.

BASH: The world has changed.


BASH: A lot.

BIDEN: A lot.

BASH: Have you changed with it?

BIDEN: Yes, I have. I mean if you -- look, you have to grow. I mean everything is totally different.

BASH: I've been wanting to ask you this because I've been hearing it anecdotally --


BASH: From voters who are about your age who say, I love Joe Biden but I'm his age and I can't imagine being president. What do you tell them? BIDEN: Well, what I tell them is that, watch me. Look, the one thing that I've learned is, hopefully that with age comes experience, with experience comes some judgment, and with judgment has some -- comes some wisdom.

BASH (voice over): Eric Swendsen told us he came to this town hall with concerns about Biden's age.


BASH (on camera): Now that you've seen him up close and personal, do you still have that?

ERIC SWENDSEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY VOTER: I think he'll be fine. I think he'd be just fine.

BASH: If here in New Hampshire you don't come in first or even second, do you feel confident that your candidacy can survive?

BIDEN: First of all, I think I'm going to do better in both places than that.

BASH: But let's just say, just hypothetically --

BIDEN: I'm not going to go there.

BASH (voice over): On this day on the trail with Joe Biden, he was relentlessly on message.

BIDEN: I think I'm better prepared at this moment than any time in my entire life to deal with the problems the next president's going to be able -- have to face.


BASH: And that was a Joe Biden who, Jim and Poppy, was very candid and very comfortable in talking about his challenges, but also the experience that he has and the plus and minuses of that.

SCIUTTO: Yes, he's got to be used to these questions now as some of them were pointed, good on you.

Of course there's more at stake in 2020 than the presidential race. You have House and Senate.

BASH: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And it's notable, Peter King, longtime Republican congressman, announcing his retirement. He's 16 by our count who are not seeking higher office.

BASH: Right.

SCIUTTO: I think we have that list we can put up on screen.

What's happening here? BASH: What's happening here is that it is no fun to be in the minority

in the House of Representatives. That's number one.

Number two, Pete King, here's the political reality, is a very, very large figure who is very well-known in his New York district, but he is in a district that has become increasingly Democratic. He won just the last time around by ten points less than he did in 2016.

SCIUTTO: Interesting.

BASH: Democrats have been targeting that seat. But he's also been there for a long time and felt that it was time to move on. What's interesting is that his daughter was a local politician. He was hoping that she would take his seat. She just announced that she's moving with her husband to North Carolina. So instead of holding on again until she's ready, he said, I'm out.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Interesting bellwethers because we saw a similar phenomenon going in 2018. We know how those midterms turned out.

BASH: We do.

SCIUTTO: Dana Bash, thanks very much.

BASH: Thank you.

HARLOW: That was a great piece, Dana. Thank you so much.

BASH: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, so former vice president, you just heard from him with Dana, his live town hall moderated by our very own Erin Burnett, it is tonight in Iowa. It starts at 9:00 Eastern only right here.

SCIUTTO: Also this. In a new book, the former ambassador to the U.N., appointed by Trump, Nikki Haley, describes a White House in chaos. She says that two top Trump appointed officials tried to recruit her to undermine the president, believing he was a danger to the country. It's remarkable. We'll have more.



HARLOW: Welcome back. So another new book, this one from former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. And in it she calls out former chief of staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying they tried to undermine the president, and she claims they tried to draft her to join them.

SCIUTTO: Well, they apparently thought he was a danger to the country and would cost lives. Haley writes, Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they were not being in subordinate, they were trying to save the country.

In response John Kelly told "The Washington Post," quote, if providing the president with the best and most open legal and ethical staffing advice from across the government so he could make an informed decision is working against Trump, then guilty as charged.

HARLOW: White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here. She was traveling with the president over the weekend.

I'll just ask you what I just asked you off the air, why? What is in it for Nikki Haley to essentially throw Tillerson and the former chief of staff under the bus?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think she knows how the president feels towards them. And what you've seen from Nikki Haley since she left the White House was to kind of straddle this line between distancing herself from the president but also not criticizing the president. She has some very small criticisms in this book, but other than that there's nothing really overarching in it.

And I think a lot of it, you know, there's been a lot of rumors about her potentially becoming vice president, replacing Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket in 2020. I'm not sure that that's the case here. I think that they've pushed those rumors back.

But also, remember, she's a rising star in the Republican Party. She wants to potentially take political moves in 2024. Something she said she's not focused on right now. But it's pretty obvious what her future could potentially hold.

SCIUTTO: I mean the real headline here, Kaitlan, is it not, is that you had two senior administration officials appointed by this president, the secretary of state and the chief of staff who believed that the president was a danger to the country and felt the need to recruit other members of the administration to counter that in some way.


I mean it's in line with what you've heard from the "anonymous" book, is it not?



SCIUTTO: Even other stories going back to Rod Rosenstein apparently raising the idea of the 25th Amendment.

COLLINS: Yes, and often you hear from people inside the White House when there are situations like this where people do try to work against the president or go against his decisions is that people say these deep state bureaucrats career officials, that is not what John Kelly is. That's certainly not what Rex Tillerson is. And essentially they tried to push back on things that they thought the president shouldn't do, not out of political motivation but because they thought it was wrong.

And you saw that in John Kelly's statement saying that he provided the president with the best ethical and legal advice is really telling as to what happened behind closed doors. And so as the White House tries to push back against the testimonies that you're seeing in this impeachment inquiry against the "anonymous" account of what's happening inside the West Wing, Nikki Haley's book also gets at that. While she's trying to criticize John Kelly and Rex Tillerson, it also shows that his top two aides to the president thought that, on multiple occasions, he was doing the wrong thing.

HARLOW: Yes. And no response --

SCIUTTO: Yes, and John --

HARLOW: Oh, go ahead, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And John Kelly could have easily said, that's absolutely not true, I have full and utter confidence in this president and never worked against him.


SCIUTTO: He did not say that in his statement.

COLLINS: No, he didn't. It's pretty telling that he didn't.

HARLOW: And Tillerson hasn't responded, right?


HARLOW: OK. Kaitlan, thank you. Appreciate the reporting.

It is, today, a very important day, Veteran's Day, a day to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country and served all of us. What happens to many of those veterans when they come home after they are done serving? What is their next opportunity? Our next guest is on top of that.



SCIUTTO: Today is a solemn day. These are live pictures now from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia, as America honors our veterans.

President Trump is in New York for the Veteran's Day Parade, the 100th anniversary of that event.

HARLOW: Yes. There are, of course, more than 18 million courageous veterans living in the U.S. right now and today communities across the country are honoring their service.

Our next guest is making their transition from service to civilian life a little bit easier, hopefully, by helping them find a job that so many need.

Eric Eversole is with us. The president of Hiring Our Heroes and senior adviser at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, thank you for this and for your service to this country as well.

Eric, let me just begin there, because I think that that is something that a lot of people just don't know fully or appreciate fully is how hard it is for these veterans to get a meaningful job, to really provide enough for their family when they come home.

Is it a crisis?

ERIC EVERSOLE, PRESIDENT, HIRING OUR HEROES: Well, I wouldn't call it a crisis. I think we've done a lot over the last eight years to really mitigate what was a crisis back in the 2011 timeframe. We've worked very aggressively to help make those connections to employers, but we still have challenges. And challenges that we have to really work hard as a country to help address.

A lot of these young men and women are coming from rural parts of the country, who don't necessarily understand the depth and breadth of real economic opportunity in this country, so we work very aggressively to help expose them and help connect them to companies who are really changing the economic landscape, to really create that long term economic opportunity that they so richly deserve.

SCIUTTO: The numbers seem to show the progress here, right, because the unemployment rate among veterans is now lower than that of the non-veteran population. I don't believe it was always that way. But veterans leaving the military oftentimes they're still carrying with them service-related injuries. How have companies responded to that? Because I know a lot of companies have initiatives, right, to make this a priority.

EVERSOLE: Yes. I mean there's no doubt that the American business community has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run over the last decade when it comes to helping our service members and those who are injured, ill, and wounded find those meaningful economic opportunities. And so, you know, we're really honored to work with a lot of great companies who have done a lot of great things on that front. But they're starting to really treat military talent as a tremendous talent set that helps move their business forward in ways that they haven't been able to achieve in the past. You know, we are in a war for talent, and companies understand that they're in that war and they're really leveraging this military talent set to really take them over the top.

HARLOW: I do think, to that point, Eric, it's notable. I mean we've seen, especially over the last three years or so, big corporations, whether it's Coca-Cola or Starbucks or JPMorgan or pretty much all the big Fortune 500 companies make this commitment to hire x amount of veterans. But what you guys have done, I think, starting in 2012, is to take it even further and say it's not just enough to provide opportunity for the veteran, you have to also keep in mind their spouse and provide opportunity for military spouses.

EVERSOLE: There's no doubt about that. You know, you look at the economic data across America, and the reality is that most American families are in a dual-income status. And that is not the case for most military families due to the transient nature of moves. And so we really have to take a close look at the military family as a whole and create those economic opportunities.

And the reality is that the transition for the service member is much easier if their spouse has a long-term meaningful career opportunity. And, unfortunately, this is one area where, as a country, we have to do better. Military spouses are still facing 25 percent unemployment across the country and if we don't address this, we're going to face a real challenge long-term as we look to maintain the all-volunteer force.

SCIUTTO: Well, we're glad with the progress you've made, Eric, and it's great to have you on to here about them. I'm sure folks at home are happy to hear about that on Veteran's Day as well.


EVERSOLE: Thank you. Really glad to be here.

SCIUTTO: Well, from behind closed doors now into the public spotlight. House Democrats set to take the impeachment inquiry out into the open during a very critical week.

Stay with CNN.



SCIUTTO: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Hope you had a nice weekend.

It is a busy week ahead. We're just days away from the impeachment inquiry going public.