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Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Presidential Candidate, Discusses 2020 Voter Turnout; 2020 Dems Take On the Economy; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D- MN), Presidential Candidate, Discusses Democratic Debate. Aired 8:30- 9a ET

Aired December 20, 2019 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

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SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we're now seeing ourselves and this is why Andrew is saying I'll be back. because we're popping in the polls. Our numbers are rising. And so it's frustrating.

So you see in Iowa here, wall to wall Steyer and Bloomberg ads. But I'm not a billionaire. So we're going to continue to ask people to go to corybooker.com and support this campaign in Iowa. We're now up to number three according to one of the recent polls in that favorability.

We're popular in a state where most people haven't made up their mind yet. Local media calls us one of the best top organizing teams on the ground. We'll do like every president from our party in my lifetime did, who were polling in low single digits. Carter, Bill Clinton, even Barack Obama right now was 15-20 points behind Hillary Clinton at this time. We're going to win here in Iowa.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I wonder what role you think that race is playing in it, though. And one of the reasons I ask is because Jason Johnson, a political commentator on another network, says the reason you don't have more black people on stage is because you have a lot of white voters who don't think a black person can get elected against Donald Trump. That's a fact.

Why be afraid of saying something so common, something so reasonable to any political scientist or pollster who's out there?

BOOKER: The last time we won the White House, an overwhelming wave election that swept out -- swept Democrats into power in Congress, was when we had an African American president.

It caused us to have the highest levels of African American turnout we've ever had. If a turnout in 2016 amongst black voters was the same as it was in 2012, it would be president Hillary Clinton. That would have been enough to get her over.

Whoever our nominee is -- and this is why I'm running so hard -- they have to be the one that resurrects that Obama coalition. And black and brown voters are so essential, not just to winning the White House but to winning in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, to getting rid of Mitch McConnell.

I've shown in New Jersey, winning in a very diverse state but where blacks are a small minority, that I can get record black and brown turnouts and inspire suburban voters and other key members of our demographic.

I've got the best electability argument of anybody in this field because I know I can resurrect the coalitions we need to win big in November.

BERMAN: Brand-new CNN poll out this morning. We asked voters about the economy; 76 percent of voters that we talked to said the economic conditions in the country today are good. That is as high of a number as we have seen in years.

Last night this was talked about on the stage. One of the things we heard is, oh, well, the middle class isn't feeling it. But when 76 percent of people polled say the economy is good, that's got to include a slice of the middle class. That's not just the 1 percent responding.

How do you make the case that you need to get the president out on the basis of the economy?

BOOKER: Well, it's simple. Right now all Americans know that we're doing nothing on health care costs, prescription drug costs. We know that we have a tax system that's way weighted in the hands of the wealthiest amongst us.

Most Americans know the crises of everything from college to child care are running out of control. So what I hear from town hall after town hall here in Iowa and around this country is the economy is overall good but they're not measuring their well-being based upon GDP or the stock market. They are measuring it on how it's harder.

Let me give you one data point I find fascinating. Baby Boomers at this point, when they were in their 30s, controlled about 20 percent to 30 percent of the wealth of a country. Millennials, it's about 3 percent. It's getting harder and harder for the next generations in our country to have strong senses of economic well-being.

And I'm going to change that as President of the United States, create a fairer playing field where we all have pathways to prosperity.

BERMAN: You have to juggle a lot. You're running for president, you've got last-minute Christmas shopping and there's a matter of a Senate trial to remove the president. I had Chuck Schumer on the show on Monday.

I said, to what extent are you going to try to protect those senators running for president?

And he told me, not at all. He said it's not a priority for him. It's just tough. Senators like you and Amy Klobuchar, you're going to have to be part of the trial.

What impact will it have on your campaign?

BOOKER: Don't forget Michael Bennet, too. Schumer is right. He should not be giving any consideration to this. I know I'll be in my chair, in my seat in the Senate doing my job. I swore an oath to do it.

Trump may violate his oaths but I won't violate mine. Voters are sophisticated enough to understand that. I know that here in Iowa, as well as other places going into the primaries we've built an incredible grassroots team. We're one of the leading candidates in endorsements from local officials.

[08:35:00]

BOOKER: I know we have what it takes to win despite it. But all of us right now, in this very sad time for our country, we have got to deal with what I think is a level of moral vandalism in the White House we've never seen.

And I think that he has done things that were deserving of being impeached and we'll have a trial and I will be there as an objective juror reviewing the facts.

BERMAN: Senator Cory Booker, I know one thing about Iowa in December, it's pretty clear you should be wearing a jacket. But thank you for being with us today. Wish you the best of holidays, sir.

BOOKER: Thank you. I hope folks will go to coryBooker.com. We can afford a bus but maybe I'll get a jacket as well. That's just a joke.

(LAUGHTER)

BOOKER: But thank you for having me on. Wishing you all the best.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You, too. And a hat, senator.

He does this.

BERMAN: What are you saying?

CAMEROTA: He's outside in New Hampshire without a coat, OK?

So we'll see if he changes that.

Meanwhile, the president leans on the strength of the economy as proof of his success.

When it comes to jobs, has he delivered on his promises?

We look at that next.

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CAMEROTA: It's time for CNN Business. Brand-new polling by CNN shows a strong economy is a big advantage for President Trump in the 2020 election. In the polls, 76 percent say economic conditions are good. That is the highest rating in nearly two decades. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now.

Not sure I needed a poll to know that voters like a strong economy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: They do. And, really, time heals all wounds. It's been 10 years since the recovery. They're believing it now.

It's the economy, stupid. It favors President Trump. Stock markets are at record highs. Unemployment rate at a 50-year low. Summer recession fears evaporated. And last night the Democrats tried to make a distinction between a good economy for the rich and a fair economy for everyone else.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The middle class is not as behind the 8 ball. We have to make sure that they have an even shot. We have to eliminate significant numbers of these God-awful tax cuts that were given to the very wealthy.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump goes around saying the economy is doing great.

You know what real inflation accounted for wages went up last year?

1.1 percent. That ain't great.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, IND., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are not getting paid enough. That is not the result of some mysterious cosmic force. It's the result of bad policy.

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ROMANS: If you look at the polls, it's a tough sell because the president has the megaphone here. He cheerleads the stock market and takes credit for what he says is the best economy in American history.

It's not. We learned the economy grew at 2.1 percent in the third quarter. That's not the 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent the president has said his tax cuts and his rolled back regulation would produce.

Yes, jobs growth is solid. But in the first 33 months of the Trump presidency, some 6.25 million jobs created. That actually trails the 7.38 million in the final 33 months of the Obama years.

But the president came to office promising a manufacturing renaissance and it started strong, 443,000 new factory jobs, most added in the first couple of years of the administration. That bests the Obama years.

But more recently, manufacturing has fallen into recession, shrinking performance in a row and job growth there in manufacturing has stalled. That would be really important into next year.

The economy is not as super charged as the president promised. But it might not matter. Americans finally 10 years into the recovery believe things are better; 76 percent rate economic conditions today somewhat -- very or somewhat good. That's the most, you guys, since February 2001 -- Alisyn and John.

BERMAN: It really is interesting. Low, slow growth, which has been the story for 10 years, it might now finally be sinking in. This might be a story of time more than anything else.

ROMANS: Time heals all wounds.

BERMAN: All right, Romans. Have a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas. I left you something in your office.

ROMANS: I know.

CAMEROTA: Oh, what is it?

ROMANS: Every year --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Is it better than my gift?

ROMANS: Every year I tell, John, do me a favor. I don't get you a present, you don't get me a present. Then he gets me a present.

BERMAN: Which is the present you give back to me.

CAMEROTA: He just can't quit you.

BERMAN: It's time now for the good stuff. A furry bandit too cute to prosecute. Police in the suburb of Boston noticed toys they were collecting for kids this holiday season were disappearing. So they launched an internal investigation.

It turns out the department's therapy dog, Ben Franklin, was caught on camera taking a toy, then leading them on a slow speed chase to the rest of the loot.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The facility was locked down. So we knew it was just a few toys and it was pretty simple to figure out that it was Ben. When Ben saw the toys, he thought they all belonged to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: "The facility was locked down."

They had cameras everywhere. Ben was not going to get away with it. He must have been a good boy, though, this year. He gets to keep the toys he took, mostly because he slobbered all over them, which is the same way I get to keep most of my gifts.

[08:45:00]

BERMAN: The police department did, in fact, replace them.

CAMEROTA: I want to be too cute to prosecute.

BERMAN: That going to be your bumper sticker?

CAMEROTA: That's my slogan for president.

BERMAN: I think it's been used before. I think it's been used before in some cases, also, yes, the office of legal counsel's statement. Too good to prosecute and what the attorney general says.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, one candidate getting a lot of attention this morning is Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. How does she think she did last night?

We talk to her about it.

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[08:50:00]

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CAMEROTA: It was a very interesting Democratic debate last night. And presidential candidate senator Amy Klobuchar joins us now to talk about it.

Good morning, Senator.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Alisyn. Great to be on.

CAMEROTA: It's great to have you. I'm sure you didn't get a lot of sleep.

How do you rate your performance last night?

KLOBUCHAR: I actually got 3.5 hours of sleep. I'll start with that. But I had a lot of fun. I had -- OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Go ahead. I'm sorry about the satellite. I know that it's tough.

KLOBUCHAR: Sorry, there was someone speaking in my ear.

What I wanted to say -- OK. What I wanted to say was that I felt good about the debate. It was a lot of fun. And I think having fewer candidates, although I miss some of my friends and hope Cory will be back for the next debate, allowed us to make our cases.

It allowed me to make the case that the Midwest isn't fly-over country to me. I live there. Allowed me to make the case that experience should matter when the voters are making this really important decision about who should head up our ticket, who is best able to beat Donald Trump, who can win in those states we lost in 2016.

And then also allowed me to make some policy, very important policy arguments, about why I don't agree with Senator Sanders on the Medicare for all. I'm the one that didn't get on that bill because I read it and I saw on page 8 that it meant that you'd kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance.

And that, in fact, I think we're much better off with the nonprofit public option, which will bring down premiums for everyone and cover more people.

CAMEROTA: You are the second candidate to say that they missed Cory Booker on the stage. You don't often hear this about competitors.

What is it about Cory Booker that makes you and Andrew Yang miss him so much?

KLOBUCHAR: Cory and I are friends. No one can go through that Kavanaugh hearing together -- we serve on the Judiciary Committee -- without getting closer. And we've also gotten closer as the campaign trail went on, as well as with Senator Harris, who I'm going to miss very much up on that stage. So we had a little cone of friendship there. Hopefully he'll be back.

I also at times would write little notes back and forth to Cory during the debates. And, you know, we're going to hope to see him up there.

CAMEROTA: I'd like to see what those notes are, unless they're classified.

KLOBUCHAR: No.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: Here's -- we -- CNN has done a focus group of Iowa voters. We've gone back to them after every Democratic debate. And I think you'll be interested to hear what they had to say last night. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just comes across as having thoughtful, specific answers and not rehearsed talking points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the other ones were bickering, she was there to defuse it and bring focus back on why they were there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: They are talking about you; 10 out of those 11 folks that watched the debate felt that you had the best night. And I don't have to tell you that polls don't necessarily reflect that performance that they think that you had.

And so what's your plan today for how you seize on that momentum?

KLOBUCHAR: I think, by the way, that last point, having been someone that is always trying to get things done, bring people together, that you can see that on the debate stage, as well as how I do my work. So I appreciated that point.

In terms of how we're doing across the country, we saw our highest poll ever up to 10 percent in Iowa. At AmyKlobuchar.com, we've gotten so many individual contributions from regular people because of the last few debates. It's allowed us to double our offices.

Someone texts me with an auto correct, with a mistake the other day, I love your insurgency in Iowa. I think it was supposed to be surge. And also we're doubling our staff in New Hampshire, adding people in Nevada, as well as South Carolina.

And I realize I'm not as well known as these other candidates. So my big challenge -- because I believe most people are going to agree with me on the issues, on my experience and how I want to run this race and how I want to govern. My big challenge is to make sure I get my name out there without having the big bank account of some of my opponents.

And so what I've been doing is telling people, look, when you see your friends on the holidays and your family, call anyone you know in Minnesota. That's a good job reference. They may not have voted for me. They may not agree with me on everything.

But they'll tell people that I work hard, I have people's back and I'm true to my word.

[08:55:00]

KLOBUCHAR: So I'm just trying some unique techniques here to be able to get my name out there beyond the Midwest and make sure people know about me all over the country. It's really that simple.

CAMEROTA: Senator, you just mentioned a bank account, the amount of a bank account. That came up last night a few different ways. As you know, there was this moment between Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren that has led to, I think, the wine cave trending on Twitter. And it's about privilege.

But it's also about wealth and who has it and who should have it and if you should feel bad for having it. Americans elected Donald Trump, a billionaire, last time.

Do you think that it's somehow a disadvantage if a candidate is wealthy?

KLOBUCHAR: I look at it more this way. I want an even playing field in American politics so that, no matter how much money you have, you should win if you have the best ideas and the best experience, not the loudest voice or biggest bank account. And that bank account can allow people to run a whole bunch of ads, as we're seeing right now.

So while people can be a strong public servant, regardless of how much money they have, if they have it, if they don't, I just want to make sure people's voices are heard. I feel so strongly about campaign finance reform and reversing that Citizens United decision because it's not right if outside money can come out and influence an election like that.

So what I did last night, when that debate went on and on about the wine cave, I did admit I've never been to a wine cave. I'm sure one day I'll see one but that I had been to the Wind Cave in South Dakota, which is a cool national park, and that in fact, what we should be talking about -- I said, I didn't come here to win an argument. I came here to make a case for progress.

And what we should be talking about is campaign finance reform and that whole bill that passed the House of Representatives, with all these good things in it to make our elections work better and be more fair about things like gerrymandering and purging election rules and money in politics.

And that's sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk right now.

So why don't we win an election big so we not just win the presidency but that we send him packing?

So we're able to have votes on those bills which we are not right now so the American people can have a say.

CAMEROTA: Senator Amy Klobuchar, we appreciate you getting up early and talking with us. Thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

KLOBUCHAR: It's great to be on. Thank you, Alisyn.

BERMAN: The impeached president heading to Mar-a-lago for the holidays as there is uncertainty about the next steps.

What will happen with the impeachment trial?

Our coverage continues right after this.

END