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Polls Look Ahead at the 2020 Race; Health Care Plans in the Campaigns; Biden Opens UP about Stuttering; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 6, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Like, here's the thing, this polling does not take into account what has happened in Iowa. And if we look at my odds, pre-Iowa and then with an Iowa bounce, take a look here what we'd expect to happen. We would expect that Buttigieg's chance of winning would go from two in 20 to five in 20, which is essentially, you know, 25 percent. That is very, very good and that gives you a very good understanding, right, that Iowa could, in fact, propel him. And we are starting to see that in some of the early data. Even if he doesn't win, the fact that he over performed his polling could, in fact, make him the main contender to Bernie Sanders in the granite state.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But you're saying that's if life were following along rules that we used to follow, right?

ENTEN: I mean this is all based upon history, right? That's what I try and do. I try and look at history, create historical analogs and try and give you an understanding of what's going to occur. The polls are going to come very fast and heavy over the weekend in New Hampshire and then we're going to have the results on Tuesday, so we'll know soon enough. But right now, to me, if you were doing one and two in New Hampshire, it would be Bernie Sanders as the clear frontrunner. But Pete Buttigieg is contending there too.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And after New Hampshire, though, the race moves to states that actually look like the Democratic Party.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. So the next contest after New Hampshire is the Nevada caucuses. And what I think is so key about the Nevada caucuses here is, take a look here, Pete Buttigieg only at 7 percent. He's actually behind Tom Steyer in my polling average with Biden and Sanders very close together.

And take a look at the electorate by race back in 2016. That looks a lot more like the Democratic Party at large. In fact, of all of the early states that are voting, Nevada looks the most like the Democratic Party with about three-fifths of the voters there or caucus goers were white. A little bit, 16 percent Latino, 13 percent African- American. That looks a lot more like the Democratic electorate.

If there's one early state I'm watching, it is Nevada. That may tell us more about the Democratic nomination than any other.

CAMEROTA: How about South Carolina?

ENTEN: South Carolina, this is the state where Joe Biden must do well. Look at the polling average. He is well out ahead there. A majority African-American electorate. This is the firewall for Joe Biden. If he can't win there, he can't pretty much win anywhere perhaps outside of Delaware. This is a state he needs to do well in. If his polling starts to fall there, his entire campaign will collapse.

BERMAN: I just want people to look at the number on the right there that's no longer there, though, where 61 percent of the Democrat electorate in South Carolina is black.

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

BERMAN: Sixty-one percent compared to what is in New Hampshire? Two percent.

ENTEN: Two. Two. Two.

BERMAN: Two percent.

ENTEN: So this is so key. African-Americans, this is where they really hold the power. It's so much different than either Iowa or New Hampshire. And, to be perfectly honest with you, the base of the Democratic Party is African-American. That state will tells us a lot.

CAMEROTA: All right, quickly, anything else for us?

ENTEN: The other things I'd just point out, in history, you know, if you look at how these states have voted over time, back in 2008 and 2016, you'll see that they can show vastly different results. So just because something happened in Iowa, just because something happened in New Hampshire, doesn't mean it's going to happen in Nevada or South Carolina.

BERMAN: No. And, again, when you look at all these polls you got, or take into account what happened in Iowa, how that will affect New Hampshire, what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire, how that will affect Nevada, all these things matter and they roll on each other.

ENTEN: They -- they -- and they roll, exactly right.

CAMEROTA: Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

Voters say that health care is one of their top issues, if not the top. So where are the candidates on their health care plans today? And can President Trump's health care promises be trusted? We take a look, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:37:19] CAMEROTA: Health care is the number one issue for Iowa voters. That's according to an entrance poll of Iowa caucus goers. Forty-two percent say health care is there most important issue. President Trump made this claim about his health care ideas at the State of the Union.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families, we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right, let's take a look at that pledge, whether or not it is true and what Democrats want to do about health care.

Joining us is senior writer Tami Luhby.

Tammy, you are steeped in health care. We should let our views know, you have been studying this for years. You know more about the health care plans of all the candidates than anybody in this building. I'm telling them that.

OK, so let's go to, first, what President Trump said about protecting pre-existing conditions. Fact-checkers have said that is not true.

TAMI LUHBY, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Right. He says often that he would protect people with pre-existing conditions, but his actions say otherwise. Now the Affordable Care Act did provide ironclad protections for these folks. Insurers can't deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, they can't charge you more and they're required to provide comprehensive plans with comprehensive benefits.

But what the Trump administration is doing is they are supporting a lawsuit that's been brought by Republican states that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act and all of those protections would disappear.

Now the Trump administration says, and the president says, that they will have a plan that will protect people. But we haven't seen a plan yet.

CAMEROTA: They've never presented that plan.

LUHBY: No.

CAMEROTA: And I just think it's really important to keep reminding voters because when the president says something so definitively, you could believe it --

LUHBY: Right.

CAMEROTA: Unless you think that actions speak louder than words --

LUHBY: Right. CAMEROTA: And that's what you're here to remind us.

LUHBY: And -- and his actions actually have done otherwise because he keeps saying that the Affordable Care Act is too expensive, and it is expensive for a lot of people. So he's providing alternative plans. He's making it easier for people to buy these so-called short-term plans, which are cheaper. But the reason they're cheaper is because they don't have the Affordable Care Act protections. So people who are sick can be denied. People who have -- or they could be charged higher premiums. So these short-term plans are not for people with pre- existing conditions.

CAMEROTA: Really valuable to know.

Let's talk about the public option. We hear so much about it. Can you just tell us what it is and which candidates support that.

LUHBY: Sure. So basically what's happening on the Democratic side is, you have candidates who want to build on the current system and build on the ACA or blow it up. So the public option is what Biden and Buttigieg and Klobuchar and several of the other candidates are supporting. And essentially it's strengthening the Affordable Care Act by providing a government-run plan that presumably would be cheaper.

[08:40:04]

That is one of the big questions. We don't have the details that will actually show how it will be cheaper but that's what they want to do. And they also would provide greater subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans. They have, you know, various things that they would do.

Now, Sanders and Warren, of course, on the other side, want to institute Medicare for all, which is a complete change in the system that we have now.

CAMEROTA: That means people having to give up their private insurance.

LUHBY: Right. Essentially private insurance would no longer exist and everybody would be covered by a government-run plan.

CAMEROTA: What is the difference between the Buttigieg health care plan and Joe Biden's health care plan?

LUHBY: They are very similar. One of the main differences is that Buttigieg, he calls his plan Medicare for all who want it and what Buttigieg would do is he would actually retroactively enroll people who are not covered.

Biden says if you want this public option, you can have this public option. We'll provide subsidies for it. And he says in his initial plan that it would cover about 97 percent of Americans.

What Buttigieg wants to do is actually, if you don't have insurance, he will retroactively enroll you. So, yes, you have insurance, but it also means you have to pay for it. So it can be very expensive.

CAMEROTA: OK. That's really helpful.

You had just talked about the Medicare for all that Warren and Sanders want. What's the difference between their plans, if anything?

LUHBY: Between Warren and Sanders?

CAMEROTA: Between Warren and Sanders.

LUHBY: So the -- one of the main differences that would be very interesting, is that Warren, in her transition, she would actually institute initially a -- something like a public option. And then she says that after three years on in her third year in office, she would then push for full Medicare for all. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, says, Medicare for all day one, that's what he's pushing for.

CAMEROTA: Tami Luhby, we are going to call on your expertise a lot over the next year. Thank you very much for explaining this to all of us.

LUHBY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

BERMAN: Here is what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:45 a.m. ET, Pelosi holds news conference on Capitol Hill.

12:00 p.m. ET, President Trump speaks about impeachment.

8:00 p.m. ET, CNN Democratic presidential town halls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, so people were wondering how President Trump would react to the Senate vote yesterday. Seconds ago, he walked into the Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan religious event, and he holds up the newspaper with the headline of him being acquitted.

Again, this is the National Prayer Breakfast, a bipartisan, religious event.

Nancy Pelosi is speaking, I believe, right now. The two did not even look at each other.

CAMEROTA: No. And there was the awkward tearing up of the speech --

BERMAN: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: And the snubbed handshake. So she's speaking. And they are close, physically, but there is a chasm between them.

BERMAN: We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:47:07]

BERMAN: Former Vice President Joe Biden opened up about his life-long struggle with stuttering at a CNN town hall last night in New Hampshire.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had a mother who had a backbone like a ramrod. And she'd look, she's go, Joey, look at me. Look at me, Joey. You're handsome, you're smart, you're a good athlete, Joey. Don't let this define you, Joey. Remember who you are, Joey. You can do it.

And so every time I'd walk out, she'd reinforce me. I know -- I know that sounds silly, but it really matters.

I would practice and practice and practice, because I was determined -- determined to overcome it. And I was led to believe I could. And I basically did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now is John Hendrickson, senior politics editor for "The Atlantic." He interviewed Biden about his stutter in a piece published last month. And John himself has lived with a stutter since he was four years old.

And, John, your article was terrific when it came out. And it all struck us as something notable and new. And then last night, as you were watching this CNN town hall, you wrote, Biden is speaking at length about stuttering on CNN right now. He's never done this on such a national televised stage. You also say, his stutter is one of the most misunderstood aspects of his life. It's not a cover, nor is it a catch-all for when he gets his facts wrong. It's something far more complicated.

So what did it mean to you when you saw Biden open up like he did last night?

JOHN HENDRICKSON, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": It was interesting because Biden has opened up that way to other people who stutter. He opened up that way to me in our interview.

When he's addressed crowds at the American Institute of Stuttering, the National Stuttering Association, Biden has been vulnerable like that. We've never seen him talk that way on a national televised audience.

BERMAN: And look, I just want to note, obviously, as we said, you've been living with a stutter since you were four. I think this might be the first live television interview you've done? I don't know. But I think it's great that you've come on to talk about this because you have a much deeper insight, I think, than anyone else having lived with it yourself and having spoken to Joe Biden about it at such great length.

And before we came on, you noted something very interesting to me, which is that Biden's central trait that people hook onto, I think, is his empathy.

[08:50:00]

And, in some ways, the suffering he's done through, that he lost his wife and child in a car crash. And that he will talk about almost more openly in some ways than he has talked about his battle with his own stutter.

Why do you think that is?

HENDRICKSON: Those are largely external circumstances. Stuttering is a neurological disorder. It's genetic, hereditary, but it's a very internal, personal problem to have.

I've gotten hundreds of emails from people who have read my article and have told me, I've never opened up about this part of my life before. And they proceed to write 500 words, 700 words, and they just pour it all out. This isn't a problem or a disability that people are talking about every day. So it's interesting to watch him do that last night.

BERMAN: In your article you wrote, his nickname was Dash. His nickname was Dash when he was in high school and college. Not a reference to his speed on the football field, but rather another way to mock his stutter. It was like Morse code -- dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, Biden says.

And just for people who don't necessarily understand it, stuttering isn't an issue of not knowing what to say. You know exactly what you want to say, correct?

HENDRICKSON: Yes. Stuttering is basically a repetition block or prolongation in the course of producing a sound. While I was having trouble just there on that sentence, I knew I would (INAUDIBLE) the p sound.

BERMAN: Now, you watch Joe Biden I think differently, though different eyes than the rest of us. And everyone talks about Biden's gaffes. And he misspeaks. There are times he misspeaks. And that's just getting things wrong or misspeaking. But you also see elements of the stutter in places where the rest of us might not. Explain.

HENDRICKSON: Beyond blocking on the sounds, as I'm doing, or repeating sounds like that, rah, rah, rah, there are a myriad of secondary behaviors that people who stutter exhibit. The primary one is loss of eye contact. There's also word avoidance. Biden seems to strategically avoid certain words and sounds, and people don't know what to make of that if they don't understand stuttering.

BERMAN: And, again, you know, you acknowledged the eye contact. You're doing it right here. You see Joe Biden do it.

Let me just play one more piece of sound from Joe Biden when he talks about, I think, understanding this.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Things that people cannot control, it's not their fault. No one has a right -- no one has a right to mock it and make fun of them, no matter who they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Why do you think the Biden team invited you in to get such a window into his life-long struggle with stuttering?

HENDRICKSON: They initially didn't answer my e-mail. I reached out near the end of June, and I told them, I'm a journalist who stutters.

[08:55:01]

I'd like to talk with the former vice president about how he has dealt with his. And I didn't get an answer.

And then shortly after the second debate, which he exhibited multiple moments of stuttering, but most of the media didn't identify it as such, I think they saw value in getting him to open up about it.

BERMAN: John Hendrickson, look, we love the fact that you came on to talk about this with us today to help understand what the former vice president spoke about last night. The article which you wrote in "The Atlantic" is a terrific window into something I don't think most people know. Even though it is something that millions of people like you deal with every day. Thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

HENDRICKSON: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: John, that was really valuable. That was really valuable. Thank you so much for being here. That was really brave. It's hard to do live television for anyone. And this was your first live interview.

HENDRICKSON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So we really appreciate you coming here and sharing all of this with us.

BERMAN: And I also think it is so interesting when you're talking about the Bidens, too. Joe Biden, there's a lot of stuff he'll talk about that's very, very painful, but this may be even harder for him in some ways then to talk about those.

CAMEROTA: Well, I feel as though I know Joe Biden, that we've all known him for decades. I feel as though I know him better this morning because of everything that John just told us. BERMAN: All right, John, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CNN's coverage of the Iowa caucus results continue after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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