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Mike Bloomberg's Poor Performance On His Debut Debate; Six 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates In Las Vegas Ahead Of The Nevada Caucuses; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Presidential Candidate, Is Interviewed About The Debate, The Attacks From Sen. Warren and Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, And Michael Bloomberg; Pete Buttigieg (D), Presidential Candidate, Is Interviewed About The Debate, Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, And Amy Klobuchar; The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Attack Michael Bloomberg In Tense Debate; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Presidential Candidate Is Interviewed About The Debate And Her Campaign. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 19, 2020 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I want to get over to my colleagues Chris Cuomo and Erin Burnett for election coverage.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, D. Lemon, thank you.

Hello, everyone. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to CNN's special coverage of tonight's Democratic Presidential Debate in Nevada.

Michael Bloomberg, welcome to Nevada. Michael Bloomberg, welcome to the arena. It was his first night and he felt it. Let's bring in the power players to get a take. Gloria Borger, what's the big headline?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Bloomberg was awful. I'm sorry. This was the moment that the DNC got criticized for, for letting Bloomberg in this debate. And now I'm wondering why the other candidates were criticizing him because he wasn't practiced at debating. He's not done this in more than a decade.

And I think the notion, even for Mike Bloomberg, that you can step in and go toe to toe on this stage with people who have been doing it, what, Andrew yang, for a couple years.

ANDREW YANG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, a couple of years.

BORGER: It seems to me that that was difficult for him. And sometimes he looked like somebody who was saying, you know, I paid $400 million for this podium, and I can't get a chance to speak? And he got better as the night, as the night went on, I thought, but it wasn't a great first showing for him.

CUOMO: What will it mean, Dana, in terms of it not being a good night for Bloomberg, and that's putting it lightly?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a really key question. Because as I'm watching this, I'm remembering saying the same thing about Donald Trump over and over again in 2016, that he didn't have a good night, that he was up against the wall on, you know, name your issue or name your scandal or name your misstep. And it didn't matter.

This is not 2016. This is 2020. This is not the Republican Party. It's the Democratic Party. There are so many things that are different. But I agree with Gloria. The former mayor was completely out of his realm. He did not expect the, frankly, the additional moderator in this debate, Elizabeth Warren, who asked all of the key follow-ups --

BORGER: Yes.

BASH: -- in the debate because she was ready for bear. And that's another thing we can talk about Elizabeth Warren, how she, you know, she had a very good debate. But I don't know that this means that we should count him out -- leave him for dead.

CUOMO: Andrew Yang, you know the field the best. You know what it's like on that stage. What was the read?

YANG: I think three things happened to Mike tonight. Number one, he just found out he'd make the debate yesterday. There were two times when I wasn't sure if I was going to make the debate and my team got me together to prepare.

And you're really not sure if you're preparing because you're like I'm not sure if I'm going to be in this debate.

So, Mike, even though he was, I'm sure getting coached and prepared, he was like, I don't know if I'm going to be in this debate. And so, I don't think he was coached hard enough.

Number two, he was clearly instructed to keep his cool no matter what. But that ended up presenting as being lethargic and uninterested for a big chunk of the debate. And the third most telling thing is that if I'm his team, you know he's going to get a stop and frisk question, like a gender discrimination or mistreatment question.

So, you coach him and you have him give you 60, 75-second answers over and over again until he can do it in his sleep. And the fact that he did not have those answers at his fingertips lets me know categorically he was not properly prepared for this debate.

BORGER: Well, they say they coached him on all of those, all of those issues, so --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: And that he had extensive debate prep --

BORGER: Exactly.

BASH: -- with real mock debates with his aides playing all the roles of all the people.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, this was a disaster for Bloomberg. Bloomberg went in as the Titanic, billion-dollar machine Titanic. Titanic meet iceberg Elizabeth Warren. She took him to task in a way that I had never seen in a debate. She took it over. She prosecuted him.

But the worst part about it is for me, a lot of African-Americans are placing great hope in Bloomberg. Despite the stop and frisk and all that sort of stuff, you're seeing people trying to move over there and he just wasn't ready. He was tone deaf on issue after issue.

And the reason why, he's not been in those living rooms, he hasn't been doing those town halls. He doesn't know -- attacking people -- I have too much money for -- turbo tax, this is a great answer?

A lot of people watching use TurboTax. His answer on women was terrible. He got completely destroyed on the NDA question, His answer on stop and frisk was as bad as it could possibly be. And then he basically lied on his answer when it came to red lining.

He, on every major thing that people who are looking for a champion, just when they see some contrition and some professionalism, he let people down tonight. And he's got to go back to the woodshed and get it from his team and come back better next time.

CUOMO: That's an interesting point, they all are. But the last one, Andrew, let me come back to you. There's a difference -- and you guys know this very well -- between being prepped and accepting the preparation.

[23:05:03]

Do you believe that Bloomberg doesn't know how to answer these questions? Or doesn't accept what his team wants the answers to be? There is a meaningful distinction.

YANG: There really is a distinction, Chris. It's very apt because you can only be coached if you're willing to be coached. I mean, everyone who works for Bloomberg works for Bloomberg. So, there's no one that can be like, hey, Mike --

JONES: You suck.

YANG: -- you have to like -- yes, that was terrible. You have to do it again. We're going to videotape you and show it to you and then let him --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Did that happen with you?

YANG: Yes, that happened to me. And so, and then you don't let the person leave the room. And the people who were working with me worked for me, too, but like, they knew that I was coachable. Like, if they were like, hey, Yang, like, that was not great. Here, we'll show it to you. Like, let's, like, do it again. Then I'd be like, all right, let's do it again. And there were times I did not want to be there at all. But like in Mike's case, if he didn't want to be there, he's not going

to be there. Like, you know what I mean? There's no one on his team who can be like, that was terrible. This is going to potentially damage your campaign to a very, very high degree. And you need to not -- I know this is the case because I saw him on stage.

Like, if you get the obvious question and you don't pivot to this memorized script that your team has hammered into you, then you just did not get prepared or you were not willing to prepare yourself.

BASH: Well, he did, but he wasn't ready for the follow-up.

CUOMO: But I have to tell you something.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: You have to think about it in terms of willingness versus readiness. And you guys have dealt with this, lieutenant. You've been both. Right? You've been a prepper and you've been getting prepped.

We all know that Mike Bloomberg knows how he feels about everything he was asked. He's incredibly intelligent. If he's not given the answers, I don't know it's because he didn't know what was going to follow, but he doesn't like to have to say the things he has to say. The answer to that is a big difference for his future, is it not?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He knew exactly what question was going to come at him. I know a lot of debates --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You could see it on his face. Even when Warren --

MCAULIFFE: -- a few every question that's coming at you --

CUOMO: -- even when Warren was hitting him, he was watching the fist hit his face.

MCAULIFFE: Yes. But I think he was surprise at the intensity of the attacks. Michael Bloomberg is not used to being attacked. OK? I agree with you. You know, these people all work for him, he pays them a lot of money. Yelling at him is just something that's not normally how they do the construct in the Bloomberg empire.

So, listen, it was a tough night for him. First debate he had; these debates have been going on since June. He's going to have other opportunities, I thought it was a great night for Warren. I thought Biden had effective attacks also on Bloomberg on health care, on stop and frisk, on Obamacare. I thought the big winner tonight was Bernie Sanders.

BASH: I agree.

MCAULIFFE: Bernie Sanders was the front runner going into this and nobody touched him tonight.

BASH: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: If you're a front runner going into a debate and it's all over here and no one is touching you, he is going to roll through Nevada and it was a big night, I think, for Bernie Sanders.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I feel like it was a finite for Bernie Sanders, but Elizabeth Warren crushed that debate. The network that sponsored the debate tonight actually left her out of their major national poll, their head to heads against Trump. And she came out tonight and said, ignore this.

JONES: Right.

MCINTOSH: That was the senator that we watched make bank executives cry when she was a senator. That's the person that -- there's no question that she could go toe to toe with Trump. She left Bloomberg in a puddle on that debate stage.

So, I think that question is clearly put to bed. And I think at this point we're probably going to start treating her like the third-place candidate she currently is, if she's still in third place the next time we get a delegate counting after a fabulous night like tonight.

CUOMO: That's the first time, Gloria, that Elizabeth Warren has been identified as the best political athlete on the stage.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: I love you, brother. But I'm saying in terms of, you know, what she -- what she can do skill for skill, toe to toe --

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: -- it has not resonated at the polls the same way.

BORGER: Right. And after the last night, I believe, it was she said that her problem was that she didn't interject herself enough.

BASH: That's what she said to us.

BORGER: That's right. That's where I heard it. And then -- there you go. And then tonight she was clearly making up for that because she did interject herself.

Let me say one thing about Bloomberg. The one argument he made which he needed to make over and over again which he didn't was about electability. Because that is his whole schtick like it's Biden's schtick. And he came straight out and said to Sanders, and I think the quote is, I don't think there's a chance of the senator beating President Trump if he goes and is the candidate. We'll have Donald Trump for another four years and we can't stand that.

CUOMO: Andrew, is that true?

YANG: Well, that's his argument. And there are a lot of Democrats --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Do you agree with the argument?

YANG: There are a lot of Democrats who are concerned that if you are Bernie at the top of the ticket it's going to mean a very, very tough night in a lot of swing states --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Do you think it's a fair concern or do you think it's more about what they're used to versus watching a movement in their midst?

YANG: I think it's a fair concern based upon the polling data that shows that Bernie will underperform in various swing states the Democrats highly, highly value.

I want to tell a Mike Bloomberg story. Because we were talking about how he hasn't had all these days in the town halls and the living rooms and whatnot.

[23:09:56]

Back when he was considering running, you know, more than 12 months ago, he actually took trial trips to New Hampshire and Iowa to see if he could relate to the people and he concluded that it was not his thing.

That he said, hey, I'm not running. It was only more recently that he changed his mind on that. So, he's a, you know, a very smart data- driven guy. He went and got the data. The data was not very promising.

BASH: That's right.

YANG: At that point. And I think unfortunately that manifested itself tonight on the debate stage.

BASH: The fact then it's because the data show that Joe Biden was in his lane and Joe Biden was doing well.

JONES: Let me say a couple of things. Part of the reason why this is so fascinating is because he walked into his dream scenario. Bloomberg had a dream scenario, which is that Bernie would be rising, creating a demand for a moderate and that Biden would be fading and failing and falling and that there would be a need for a hero to walk onto the stage and give people something to believe in.

And his dream scenario turned into a nightmare tonight. That is what happened. Now, he's got enough ad cover -- it may not even matter because every other ad for the rest of your life is going to be Bloomberg. But something about that should be troubling to even people who like Bloomberg.

This should have been an opportunity for him to put to bed a whole series of questions that have been troubling people for the past two weeks. His stop and frisk answer was just terrible. He pretended that he somehow didn't know that African-American men in this town and Latino and Latinas and others in this town were suffering. There were lawsuits, there were protests. He didn't acknowledge that.

He, when he got -- when Elizabeth Warren asked the question about the NDA, he just didn't know how to deal with it. These are the kinds of things that somebody who wants to be president of the United States, who wants to be commander in chief, you've got to be able to handle those things so we can hear you on the other things. And he just failed tonight. He did.

MCINTOSH: One of the things we're learning is that if you're going to make the electability argument the center piece of your case, you can't just say it. You have to show it. You have to prove it.

There are a lot of people who think Bernie Sanders isn't electable, but there is a movement of people who disagree with them. Joe Biden made his whole candidacy about his ability to beat Trump, but he hasn't been able to put up the voters.

Mike Bloomberg decided to come in with the same thing. And he showed up on the stage -- if we didn't know -- absolutely. Absolutely. I don't think any Democrat is looking at that and going, that's the guy who is going to save us against Trump in November. So maybe next time these guys will do a little bit showing -- more showing and less telling when it comes to electability.

CUOMO: When you watch the thunder dome that was the 2016 Republican primary, a lot of the same things were said about Trump.

JONES: Yes.

CUOMO: That people were hitting him left and right, and what worked, what didn't.

BASH: Exactly.

MCINTOSH: Yes.

CUOMO: He can't handle the questions.

BORGER: I said some of them.

CUOMO: He can't handle them. And, you know, the idea of sleeping on a movement I think matters. But Republican is a different party than Democrat. How do you think this type of fight plays for your people?

MCAULIFFE: I want to caution everybody who is watching this tonight. We are now coming up on a very brutal primary calendar coming up. So, we're going to Nevada, then we're going to have South Carolina, three days later we have 14 states, including California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia. Big states with lots of delegates.

The one thing, maybe six to eight million people watched the debate tonight, I don't know. But I can tell you this. Hundreds of millions of people have been seeing these Bloomberg ads.

BORGER: Right. MCAULIFFE: They've been seeing Barack Obama. They've been hugging each other. They've seen that. I don't know what it is, but I can tell you his ground game, he has 2,200 staff. In Virginia he has 100 staff. North Carolina 200, 14 offices.

I just caution everybody here with this calendar the way it is coming up, a lot of people may not be watching tonight or turned out early. You just don't know what the ground game.

BORGER: Well, the calendar coming up is good for Bernie Sanders. If you look at California, for example --

(CROSSTALK)

MCAULIFFE: Bernie and someone else.

BORGER: Bernie and someone else.

MCAULIFFE: Someone with a lot of money.

BORGER: And you know, if you have millions and millions of dollars and you could cut clips from this debate and you say, show the clip, you show that --

YANG: Show the good clip.

BORGER: Show the good clip. That's the way it works, right?

YANG: Yes.

BORGER: Show the good clip where he challenges Sanders on his electability. You can use that in an ad.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: But nobody --

CUOMO: One clip. You've got one clip?

MCINTOSH: That's all you need.

BORGER: What is the NBA --

MCINTOSH: But that's all you need.

JONES: It's interesting though. Like, OK. So, yes. Here's what we know. You've got another billionaire who is running who may wind up being tough one -- he just maybe able to run over everybody and these things may not matter that much.

But from a party point of view, main line Democrats are being squeezed out by Bernie and Bloomberg. Bernie is leading bottom up insurgency from the left, but he's not actually a Democrat. And then now you have this top-down incursion from the right from Bloomberg. Millions of people, billions of dollars, he's really not Democrat either.

CUOMO: What does that tell you?

JONES: It tells me that there is a judgment that's going on with the American people, that the main line Democrats, there's something wrong. There's something defective, there's something that's not cutting the cheese. And so, these outside forces are coming in squeezing them out.

And so, Bernie versus Bloomberg, I think whatever happens tonight, what you saw -- what you're seeing is there is a judgment on this party.

[23:15:02]

And you know, frankly the one I had the most hope in is you because you had a different set of ideas.

YANG: Thank you.

JONES: But the people should be looking in the mirror in this party to figure out what is going on here, because really, we should have other choices than just the two outsiders.

BASH: You know --

(CROSSTALK)

MCINTOSH: We do have other choices than just those two outsiders. There were other people on the stage who had very good nights. I think Elizabeth Warren won this debate. I think she should be treated like a top tier candidate she is.

I think Pete -- Amy got a little bit too much into it with each other in order -- usually both of them come out doing really well in these debates. Amy's zinger is sort of -- they zing back on her. It didn't work tonight. Whereas the mom humor is usually really, really, it's great for her.

JONES: She got annoyed.

MCINTOSH She did. I mean, she has not made her concerns with Pete a secret and I think tonight she finally got enough under his skin that he started going back at her and that wasn't a great look for either of those candidates. I thought Biden had a pretty good night.

BORGER: I did. I did.

BASH: Just to go back to what you were saying, and I agree with you, that's the kind of the point I was making about -- you know, we said these things about Donald Trump in 2016.

And one of the reasons why Donald Trump was so successful is because he had a movement behind him. And he was -- he is charismatic and he, you know, he picked at things that he saw out there, fear, stoked it, all of those things, but it worked.

The question is Michael Bloomberg, he doesn't have a movement behind him. He doesn't have -- there's nobody who's going rah, rah, Michael Bloomberg. But what he does have is a foil in the White House. And what he does have is the argument that he did make for the one clip that he can put up there in his ad. You know, you don't have to love me. I'm not perfect. But I can beat this guy.

YANG: True.

BASH: I've got the dollars. I've got the experience. I can do this. And that might be enough.

BORGER: What about Democrats wanting to fall in love? You know, that's saying about Democrats?

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: That might not be the case in 2020.

CUOMO: That is a great tease. That is a great tease.

BASH: OK.

CUOMO: Is the proposition of basically, I can win the bidding war that Bloomberg is going to make, is that a message that works for Democrats? Was tonight, what you saw on that stage, was that a step closer to winning for Democrats? We'll take that on right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We're back here with the power players. We shouldn't lose all sensitivity.

[23:19:57]

Andrew, this is you watching it in a totally different way now that you joined the CNN team. What is it like for you watching it up there on stage and the feeling of, what if I had been there versus being here?

YANG: Well, certainly me as being on the debate stage on many levels. But we're talking about Mike Bloomberg's experience and how I actually anticipated he was going to have a tough night, in part, because of the timing of his qualification and then looking at his campaign schedule.

Where if you're campaigning, you're campaigning and then someone says, hey, we set aside this time to prepare for the debate. It's actually very hard to get into debate mode. Like it's almost like another, another mind-set.

And to me the big mistake they made -- this is going to sound, you know, possibly controversial, but I thought they should have advised him to skip this debate. I thought they should have just said, look, I'm on the Nevada ballot. This is going to confuse voters. We'll see you in the next one.

And then some people would have given him a hard time about it, but then he would have had a genuine runway to actually try and get, you know, frankly, prepared to have a better night. And to me, that was the missed opportunity. They should have just said, I'm going to skip --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know who agrees with you? The campaign.

BORGER: Yes.

BASH: They just put out a statement saying about Bloomberg, he was just warming up tonight. We fully expect Mike will continue to build on tonight's performance when he appears on the stage in South Carolina next Tuesday.

MCINTOSH: That's devastating.

BORGER: Yes. That was the last paragraph.

MCINTOSH: Usually your inbox is full of every candidate --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Right.

MCINTOSH: -- saying they won the debate.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Well, it does by saying you know, you're a winner when you're drawing attacks from all the candidates. Right. Right. That's the most important part.

YANG: That's very modest spin.

BORGER: That is, that is D-spin, I think. You know, they did say that it took them three months to build a campaign, et cetera, et cetera, but it just -- it's clear that they know that this really wasn't his --

(CROSSTALK)

MCINTOSH: It's the whole point is you coming in as a juggernaut than explaining why you're not.

BORGER: Right. I will tell you, though. There are couple -- one thing that really struck me about this debate was it was so much about Bernie Sanders and it was so much about Mike Bloomberg that it was not at all about Donald Trump.

There wasn't, to me just listening to this -- we've talked about this before, Terry, about why Democrats, when they talk about health care, aren't they talking about Republicans and preexisting conditions and what would happen. And impeachment, OK, that was never mentioned, whatever. But where are the attacks on the president of the United States that

they have to make to the American people? I don't know. You tell me. Maybe this isn't the time to do it, but it always rings hollow to me --

(CROSSTALK)

MCAULIFFE: I think tonight, Gloria --

BORGER: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: -- literally for these people this could be their last stand.

BASH: Exactly.

MCAULIFFE: Because you got Nevada, South Carolina, Super Tuesday they had to go with each other.

BORGER: OK. All right. Fair enough.

MCAULIFFE: They had no other option.

BORGER: Fair enough.

BASH: Because for the first eight debates --

CUOMO: They didn't.

BASH: -- it was all -- they were, it was kid gloves. I mean, they didn't -- there were a couple of -- there were a couple of shots, but not really much. They don't say about Trump, right?

CUOMO: It goes to Van's idea, doesn't it?

YANG: You know, I agree with Terry that a lot of them were coached that, look, let it all hang out tonight.

BASH: Yes.

MCINTOSH: Yes.

YANG: This is the last debate. This is existential. We're all good. You're like you have to have to -- and it actually showed in some of their performance. Like, you could tell Elizabeth was very, very fired up.

JONES: Listen, tonight, I settle all family business.

CUOMO: But isn't it because of what you said? I mean, you've got two people who arguably aren't Democrats. I mean, Bloomberg was a Democrat, then he switched to be a Republican to run against Mark Green, now he's a Democrat again, whatever.

JONES: Yes. CUOMO: That there is a feeling that the party doesn't have what it takes, and maybe part of it is that you haven't seen the urgency on the stage.

JONES: Listen, I think Elizabeth Warren in the last debate, she was muted. She was subdued. She came tonight. What happened to her was because she was so muted and subdued, people did get a chance to hear from Klobuchar. And Klobuchar, you know, was really beautiful in terms of the storytelling, whatever. And I think that you saw Elizabeth Warren say that's never going to happen to me again. I'm never, ever --

BORGER: Right.

JONES: -- I don't care if this is my last moment, I will never cede control.

BORGER: She didn't.

JONES: And she did not. Now, part of, I think, what you're going to see going forward is we don't know the impact of these debates. We don't know what's going to happen in Nevada.

But Bernie Sanders, because nobody really laid a glove on him -- I mean, Bloomberg tried to. He may cut it up in an ad. But Bernie Sanders is probably going to do very well in Nevada. He's probably going to do very well in South Carolina.

So, while we're all talking about the fireworks and stuff like that, there is a dynamic now that's set in very much as you were saying, just like Trump.

BASH: Totally true.

JONES: There is a potential Trump dynamic around Bloomberg, a potential Trump dynamic around Bernie.

BASH: Even more so that's a better analogy.

JONES: Even more so, where you just -- you just got a guy --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: A Bernie one.

BORGER: Yes.

BASH: Yes.

JONES: The Bernie guy. So, you just got a guy who just going to go and get 30 percent, 30 percent, 30 percent, 30 percent, and win. And everybody else is going to be fighting and doing the pyrotechnics.

CUOMO: So inside game, outside game, Terry McAuliffe, is tonight a step closer to beating the president for the Democrats? MCAULIFFE: No, no. I think we're moving along the process. But going

the 30 percent, 30 percent, 30 percent, nobody, Chris, is going to go into our convention in Milwaukee with 1991 delegates. It's not going to happen.

[23:24:56]

Hillary Clinton did not get it in 2016. Barack Obama did not get it in 2008. John Kerry was the last one to do it in 2004. This time with so many candidates, that's why Chuck Todd asked that question at the end. If you win with a plurality, does everybody support him? Nobody said yes to that.

CUOMO: This dynamic that you foresee in this convention similar to any of those prior ones?

MCAULIFFE: No. This is, we -- listen, Iowa and New Hampshire is winnowing. It has been an expanding process. You know, we had Amy Klobuchar come in after New Hampshire. It's gotten bigger. Tonight, you know, Bloomberg was going to be the one to go after Bernie, he didn't have a good night tonight. Does that give Biden another lift or does that give --

BORGER: Maybe.

MCAULIFFE: -- Pete Buttigieg or Amy? It hasn't made the Senate -- but one thing is clear. Bernie is going to get at 30 percent in every one of these contests going forward, he is marching toward the nomination. He will not have a plurality going in. His goal is he's got to have a big enough lead going in so --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You don't think he'll have a plurality?

MCAULIFFE: He will have a plurality. He needs a big one.

BORGER: Right.

MCAULIFFE: Because if it's a close one, then I'm telling him to walk, you can burn the house down. Donald Trump will be eating popcorn, having a great time.

BORGER: And you want to talk about South Carolina coming up. Tom Steyer was not on the debate stage tonight, but he's spending a fortune. Now, not a Bloomberg fortune, but he's spending a fortune on ads in South Carolina.

BASH: Bloomberg is not on the ballot there.

BORGER: And he's not -- Bloomberg is not on the ballot there. So, he looks like he's running for the president of South Carolina. So, he's going to be a factor. Steyer is going to be a factor.

YANG: Yes.

BORGER: So, if you're Joe Biden, you're kind of going, OK, what happened to me?

MCAULIFFE: He felt in a good debate tonight.

BORGER: I do think -- yes.

MCAULIFFE: Because he's got to come in second in Nevada --

BORGER: I will agree with you.

MCAULIFFE: He's got to win South Carolina.

BORGER: I think Bloomberg made everyone else better tonight --

BASH: He did.

BORGER: -- on the debate stage.

MCAULIFFE: He was the perfect foil for everyone.

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

MCAULIFFE: I couldn't agree more. He needed him earlier.

JONES: The collapse of Biden and especially his black support, there is a jump ball now for the black vote. That's a new dynamic. I'm talking to cousins and other people. When people are looking around. People understand -- the thing that never made sense to me about Biden's argument, about his firewall, it's firewall of paper if you're not careful. I got this black firewall.

The thing is black people watch the news. Black people liked Obama because Obama got white votes. Biden says, I'm not getting white votes, I'm just going to get black votes. Well, hold on a second. Black people aren't stupid. You have to get some white votes, too, buddy.

And so, you're now seeing this jump ball for the black vote. Tom Steyer is quietly stealthily trying to drive into that black vote in South Carolina, but Bloomberg, listen, for younger voters, for more urban voters, that stop and frisk thing is a deal breaker.

But for older black voters, more conservative black voters, it's -- it can be contextualized. Yes. But they want to hear him say something meaningful. They want to understand that he understands. And I think he blew that tonight.

CUOMO: What's the play, then, for -- because we're seeing what you said in action with big member of the CBC, Congressional Black Caucus, Greg Meeks, the congressman from New York. He was very anti-Bloomberg when he was mayor. He fought him race after race after race. Now he says, I look at the whole man.

JONES: Yes.

CUOMO: Stop and frisk, I was against it then, with good reason. What does that signal, if anything? JONES: I think, and you may see it differently, but I see it as a

post-hope vote. I think you have a black community that's in a post- hope position, with Obama we have a lot of hope. We were voting our dreams.

I think you've got a black man now saying who can stop Trump? Bloomberg has billions of dollars. He's got the ability to put together a machine. I don't see anybody else. I'll forgive him a lot of the sins. He's got to do a better job of apologizing.

But I think -- listen, when Meeks steps forward -- you're seeing others, too. Steps forward and says, I'm with Bloomberg, that lets you know that there is a lot more openness in the black community to him. He has to do a better job of closing the deal.

MCINTOSH: I think those invalidators become incredibly important right now. Having -- because we don't have any candidates of color on the stage, having people who can vouch, who are part of that community who can say this is my guy and here's why, and maybe do a better job of answering some of those questions.

I think what Van said is absolutely right. Bloomberg needs to show that he understands. And right now, none of his apology answers were understanding when he got to that gender question where it was literally things he had said himself. Not suits brought against companies that he ran, but his own words.

His answer was, maybe she just didn't like -- maybe they didn't like the joke I told. Women aren't going to buy that, and I can't really overstate how angry women are. It's a little post hope over here for us, too, with Donald Trump in the White House. And we really need a nominee that understands that this is a moment to be for us.

CUOMO: All right. Let's grab a quick break. When we come back, we're going to start seeing the candidates come in to give us their own post action analysis. We're waiting on Senator Amy Klobuchar, I think, to start that round. So, let's take a quick break and then we'll get after it.

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right, let's go to Erin Burnett, of course, in Nevada with our first debater now to give the sense of her performance, Senator Klobuchar. I just have to tell you, Erin, that Andrew Yang says thanks for the name recognition from Amy Klobuchar. He wants to thank her.

(LAUGHTER)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You hear her chuckling. All right, thank you very much, Chris. Yes, Andrew Yang, as you can see, he is part of our --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, excellent. Oh, that's wonderful. BURNETT: All right. So, how do you feel?

KLOBUCHAR: I feel a few things. Number one, I'm not surprised I took a bunch of incoming. We are surging. We are taking support from some of the other candidates, so big surprise that they were going after me. But I do think something was missed here, and that was there wasn't enough of going after Donald Trump. I tried when I had opportunities to do that.

BURNETT: Yeah.

KLOBUCHAR: But I think a bunch of people are starting to tune in as we head into Super Tuesday who aren't just are fired up democratic base, as I said. They're independents, moderate Republicans, Democrats that stayed home.

[23:34:56]

KLOBUCHAR: And they're actually looking for a reason to support our nominee, to support our candidate, and that is my -- my message to them is if you're tired of the noise and the nonsense, boy, did you hear it tonight --

BURNETT: Yeah.

KLOBUCHAR: -- and you are tired of the extremes, you have a home with me.

BURNETT: All right. So there was -- there was a lot of sniping. There was a lot of that that went on. There was a lot of incoming. One of them -- several of the incoming came from Senator Warren.

KLOBUCHAR: Mm-hmm.

BURNETT: And there was one moment where she was talking about health care. She came at both Mayor Buttigieg and at you. I just want to play that moment, senator.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BURNETT: Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to get everybody's health care plan out here. Mayor Buttigieg really has a slogan that was thought up by his consultants to paper over a thin version of a plan that would leave millions of people unable to afford their health care. It's not a plan, it's a power point. And Amy's plan is even less. It's like a post-it note, insert plan here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: OK. KLOBUCHAR: OK, two things. One is, as I noted, post-it notes were invented in my state, so I took personal offense. But two, it wasn't true. Actually, factcheck.org has already looked at what she said about a few paragraphs of my health plan.

I have an extensive plan on taking on pharmaceuticals. I have extensive plan on long-term care, on addiction, on mental health. But I'm sure it sounded good in a debate. It's just one example of what people are doing when they're jockeying to try to get --

BURNETT: Were you surprised? Were you surprised when she did that?

KLOBUCHAR: Ah, a bit because, you know, she's a law professor from the past, and I thought she'd do her research better. But such is life. What matters to me is that people out there understand that we can do so much more for them when it comes to health care, and that I have a plan, but it's not a pipe dream because I can actually get it done.

BURNETT: So, you have been saying, you wanted Mayor Bloomberg on stage.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BURNETT: OK. There's your reaction. So, what was your impression versus what you expected from him?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I actually was glad that he was on there because I think he's just been buying all these ads and that's not the way you do it. I think that there were some serious questions raised about his candidacy. You heard them all. I'm not going to enumerate all of them. But including that he didn't support Barack Obama, including that he called the Affordable Care Act a disgrace. You heard all of that.

And my point right at the beginning was he literally entered the race, the debate stage today with a memo from his campaign, saying that three of us should just get out of the way, so I guess he can go down the yellow brick road to Oz paid in his billions of dollars. I don't think -- I think he found out today that's not going to quite work.

BURNETT: He did get some applause when he talked about capitalism, founding his own business.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BURNETT: There were areas that he talked, for example, fracking, where you and he agree.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly.

BURNETT: A much more pragmatic approach.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. And I am the one in the last debate that stood up, and I was the only one to say that I had concerns about a socialist leading the ticket. And the private sector, I think, is very important to our country. That is -- I would say that's not even a big enough statement.

But what we need, as I said today, is a check and balance. We need someone who is going to do something about anti-trust law, raise the minimum wage. Finally, get universal child care in place.

BURNETT: So, were you surprised by how he did? Did you expect him to do better?

KLOBUCHAR: Yeah.

BURNETT: You did?

KLOBUCHAR: Yeah.

BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about Mayor Pete. You also tussled towards the end --

KLOBUCHAR: That's such a nice euphemism.

BURNETT: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: It was hard to describe the whole thing. There was quite a lot of a playground atmosphere about the whole debate. But there was a moment that was quite personal between the two of you, and I wanted to play that because it sort of seemed to take you aback. Here it is.

KLOBUCHAR: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KLOBUCHAR (on camera): I don't think that momentary forgetfulness actually reflects what I know about Mexico and how much I care about it.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're on the committee that oversees border security. You're on the committee that does trade. You're literally part of the committee that's overseeing these things.

KLOBUCHAR (on camera): Are you trying to say that I'm dumb or are you mocking me here, Pete?

BUTTIGIEG: I'm saying that you shouldn't trivialize that knowledge.

KLOBUCHAR (on camera): I said I made an error. People sometimes forget names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You went on to say, not everyone can be as perfect as you are, to Mayor Pete.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: What were you thinking during that moment?

KLOBUCHAR: I just thought I couldn't believe that he was making this really the center piece of his criticism.

BURNETT: This is about a recent interview --

KLOBUCHAR: An interview which I have since many times said the president's name in numerous other interviews and made it very clear that I know his name. And so that's what bothered me about this, is that instead of maybe making a passing reference to it, he doubled down.

[23:40:04]

KLOBUCHAR: And I just don't think that's leadership. Leadership with Mexican policy is standing out front, as I did, the first one on that stage, to say with the changes, I supported the USMCA. I was the first one to say that.

Leadership is actually being willing not to sound like the tough guy in the room like he did where he said the Mexican cartels, which are very dangerous criminal organizations, he said, oh, they should be considered terrorist organizations, that he would consider that designation. That created a lot of problems with Mexico when Mayor Pete said that.

To me, those are fundamental things that matter. And what he was trying to do, of course, is make me look like I wasn't able to take the job of president. And my argument back is, hey, I'm the one that has worked and passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat. I'm the one that has won repeatedly in red congressional districts, suburban congressional districts. He talks about it, but he's never done it.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time.

KLOBUCHAR: All right. Thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you so much, Senator Amy Klobuchar. And we are here live in Las Vegas. We're going to take a brief break. Our coverage will continue with myself and Chris Cuomo right after this. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back. We are here in Las Vegas. Right now, I am joined by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, obviously just wrapping up your debate. How did you feel about tonight?

BUTTIGIEG: I felt great. It was a really good opportunity to lay out a vision of how we can bring as many Americans as possible into the coalition that will defeat Donald Trump. But I think it also demonstrated why we cannot wind up in the situation that some of the pundits are predicting where we wake up the day after Super Tuesday, two weeks from today, and our only choices have been narrowed down to Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg.

That's a vision that leaves most Americans out and it's going to be really difficult to defeat Donald Trump if Americans are told that whatever we have to offer comes down only to somebody who says it's got to be a revolution or somebody who believes he can buy an election as a billionaire.

BURNETT: So this, you know, this is one of your key points, right? And you made it. You made it a couple times. But one of the times that you made it during the debate, I just want to play so everyone can hear it. This was, again, a point that you kept repeating. Here is Mayor Pete just a few moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG (on camera): Let's put forward somebody who is actually a Democrat.

(LAUGHTER)

BUTTIGIEG: We shouldn't have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You're making the case that you don't believe Sanders or Bloomberg are the right standard bearers for the party. Do you think you succeeded?

BUTTIGIEG: I believe so. Again, think about it, the three of us have each been mayors, but I'm the only one of the three of us who has been a Democratic mayor. I believe in the values of the Democratic Party. It's why I chose to run as a Democrat.

And when you have someone like Senator Sanders who often seems to think that Democrats are the problem, someone like Mike Bloomberg who has repeatedly, really stood in the way of democratic policies, I think that's a terrible formula for not just governing the country, but certainly for defeating Donald Trump.

We have so much of a better alternative. I mean, the American people are with us as a party right now on issue after issue after issue to a level that I don't think has been true in years or even decades. We have a responsibility to gather up that majority, keep it together, and grow it.

BURNETT: Amy Klobuchar was here just before you were. The senator was talking about a moment you had at the end where you were talking about the Mexican president, how she didn't know the name in an interview. But you were saying you were head of the border committee and you should have known these things.

And she responded, are you calling me dumb? Not everyone can be as perfect as you are. There were a lot of moments like that in this debate.

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah.

BURNETT: Did you think there were too many moments like that? Not just that one between you and her --

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah.

BURNETT: -- but there were a lot.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't know where that comment came from. I mean, you know, first of all, my faith teaches me that I am far from perfect and journalists remind me that politically speaking, I'm far from perfect every day. This is an opportunity to have a substantive conversation about our different perspectives.

And I do think that if you are running on your experience in Washington, you should be prepared to defend the decisions you made and the votes that you took in Washington. That's what I think a healthy debate ought to be about. I welcome the opportunity to do that this evening.

BURNETT: So, Mayor Bloomberg was on the stage. You criticized him for his ad buys and buying the party, obviously as you had just said. What did you think?

BUTTIGIEG: Oh, I think it's going to be really tough to go up against Donald Trump if our nominee is someone like Mayor Bloomberg. You know, Donald Trump took power by pretending to care about the forgotten people of America.

Mike Bloomberg doesn't even seem to be pretending. He's just talking about a completely different world view than certainly what makes me a Democrat, having opposed the minimum wage, opposed Barack Obama, and not seeming to recognize where our party, not just our party, our country is right now in our frustration with the status quo, our frustration with wealth inequality. I think we saw tonight why we would be in such trouble if he's our nominee.

BURNETT: He did say he supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Obviously he said he doesn't think he's made too much money and he isn't ashamed of who he is and talked about giving it away. But he did say he supported a tax. There are a lot of things, though -- I've said the same thing to Senator Klobuchar -- you and he have in common in terms of your policy --

BUTTIGIEG: In some areas --

BURNETT: -- much more so than you do, say, with Bernie Sanders.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't know about that. I think, you know, he's really got a very different world view from any of us and doesn't seem to be really as deeply concerned about economic inequality as the rest of us on that stage. But my point is we don't have to choose between these polls. We don't have to narrow it down to Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg. What we've got to do is turn the page. We've got to go forward with a nominee who can build that majority and hold it together, speaking to the concerns that my neighbors in Northern Indiana are experiencing, which aren't that different from the concerns that the culinary workers right here in Nevada are experiencing.

[23:50:05]

BUTTIGIEG: We've got to speak to that and have a plan to actually get things done.

BURNETT: You had obviously a lot of lines in that debate. I mean, you had a lot of moments where you were able to say things. Did you -- did you feel comfortable with the tone of the debate overall?

BUTTIGIEG: I think that every debate is an opportunity to have sometimes lively but I would hope always respectful and substantive conversations about our differences in world view, our differences in opinion, our differences in style and approach. I think it's a healthy process.

BURNETT: You felt this was on the right side of that and not sort of on the line of where everybody was just getting nasty to each other that you're --

BUTTIGIEG: I'll let others debate the debate. What I appreciate is the opportunity to lay out our vision for how to bring change to Washington and how actually be prepared to confront issues from climate change to immigration reform to gun violence to economic inequality in our time, and above all, to be ready to defeat Donald Trump during our one and only chance to get that done.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, I appreciate your time. Good to see you again. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

BURNETT: And we're going to take a brief break. We are live from Las Vegas. We'll be right back with our continuing coverage with myself and Chris Cuomo right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to our special coverage. What a night. Everybody wanted to see what would happen when Mike Bloomberg came in. He has got all the money. He has got the mystique behind him. There is all this doubt within the party.

Well, welcome to thunder dome, Mayor Bloomberg. Two men enter, one man leaves. On that stage, he really got a taste of what it's like to compete at this level. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are giving a voice to people who say we're sick and tired of billionaires like Mr. Bloomberg seeing huge expansions of their wealth while a half a million people sleep out on the street tonight.

KLOBUCHAR: I actually welcomed Mayor Bloomberg to the stage. I thought that he shouldn't be hiding behind his TV ads.

WARREN: I'd like to talk about who we're running against a billionaire who calls women "fat broads" and "horse-faced lesbians." And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg. We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has, who knows how many, non-disclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against.

(APPLAUSE)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's easy. All the mayor has to do is say, you are released from the non-disclosure agreements, period.

(APPLAUSE)

BUTTIGIEG: Let's put forward somebody who is actually a Democrat.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That was just a taste. Gloria, what mattered most?

BORGER: Well, I think Bloomberg's best moments were probably when he was quiet.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Sorry. I mean, I just feel like he got attacked a lot, and he really, as you were talking about earlier, he didn't really have the responses prepared that he should have. You know, on the NDA, on redlining, on any number of issues, on stop-and-frisk, which he has been asked about before. It's almost as if he felt he wanted to say, well, I answered that already some time ago, I don't want to do it again.

CUOMO: Remember the famous Mike Tyson line?

BORGER: I guess I don't.

CUOMO: Everybody has got a plan until they get punched in the face.

BORGER: That's right.

CUOMO: He may have come in there thinking he knew what would happen but it is different being out there.

BORGER: I think that's right. And I think that, you know, Bloomberg -- they kind of -- Sanders had a great night tonight. Elizabeth Warren had a great night. Biden had the best debate I think he has had in a while. Buttigieg had a great debate. I think maybe Amy Klobuchar got a little too into her arguments with Buttigieg and that didn't make her look great.

But I think that's a debate we saw tonight. What it will mean? I mean, Chris, you asked this question. What will it mean? I don't know in the long run what it will mean.

MCINTOSH: Something happened tonight that is sort of a worse case for Mike Bloomberg. That is the NDA question. That is the kind of question that is so specific in its yes or no that it will follow him for the rest of the campaign trail. The idea that there were 64 suits out there, it had been percolating. But now, there's a very specific, will you release the women from the NDA? That he didn't answer.

Warren got on him for that. Biden got on him for that. I don't think he goes another major interview or encounter with another candidate without getting that question again.

BASH: It would be nice if he did another major interview. You're right, they're going to have to come up with some answer and do it quickly because, you know, it was funny what you said about the fact that his best moment was when he wasn't speaking, but that was the sound of silence --

BORGER: Right.

BASH: -- with deafening.

BORGER: Maybe not so good.

BASH: That he didn't have an answer for the NDA. But I have to tell you, I'm hearing from the Trump campaign, and they're thrilled, as you can imagine.

CUOMO: Because?

BASH: Exactly the point that Gloria was making earlier. And you too, which is the circular firing squad, every time that happens, which hasn't happened a lot in fairness to the Democrats until now. For the most part, the debate stages that you were on, Andrew, the focus has not been on each other. It's been more on the president.

That's not the case now. They claim that they see the numbers going up for the president. It's always better for the president, obviously, when their sights aren't on him and rather each other.

CUOMO: Well, look, as Terry said earlier, this may have been the last chance for some of these people to distinguish themselves in this field. They obviously went for it in a different way, and they had a little bit different motivation with Bloomberg there.

Somebody who once again has to be spoken about on the top tier of performers tonight is Senator Elizabeth Warren. She joins Erin Burnett in Nevada right now.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Chris. I am here with you, Senator Warren. So, look, a lot of people are saying you had a very great night. How did you feel?

WARREN: I felt good about it. I said what I wanted to say.

BURNETT: So, how much money have you raised? Your campaign in the first hour sent out a note saying you already raised $425,000.