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Bloomberg Back on Campaign Trial after Battering at Last Night's Debate; Warren Attacked Bloomberg on Women & NDAs; Bernie Sanders Campaign Advisor, Jeff Weaver, Discusses Sanders' Debate Performance, the Nevada Caucuses, What's Next for Sanders; Any Moment, Judge to Announce Roger Stone Sentence. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 20, 2020 - 11:30   ET




SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I actually welcomed Mayor Bloomberg to the stage. I thought that he shouldn't be hiding behind his TV ads.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SOUTH BEND MAYOR: Let's move forward with someone who is actually a Democrat.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even Bloomberg's campaign is admitting it wasn't a great night. His campaign manager saying this in one quote. Quote, "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."

One question this morning: Does Bloomberg have time to recover?

Joining me now, CNN's M.J. Lee, who is at the Bloomberg event in Salt Lake City, and Patti Solis Doyle, CNN political commentator and former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

M.J., I heard Kevin Sheekey, the campaign manager, admit that Bloomberg needs to get his legs underneath him in terms of debating. They know it wasn't good. What are you hearing there today?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They do know that this was not a good night for Mike Bloomberg. And the mayor himself, who just took the stage behind me here in Salt Lake City, seemed to acknowledge that a little bit in a joking way.

Let's listen to what he said and we'll talk more coming out of that.




BLOOMBERG: Look, the real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump.


BLOOMBERG: Because I worry that we may very well be on the way to nominating someone who cannot win in November. And if we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base, like Senator Sanders, it will be a fatal error. We need Democrats and Independents and Republicans to win.


LEE: The Bloomberg campaign expected there to be a lot of incoming last night. It's not clear whether they expected this kind of an onslaught.

And all week, the campaign was setting expectations, right, appointing out to reporters that Michael Bloomberg hasn't been on a debate stage in many years, whereas, his Democratic rivals have had a lot of practice on the debate stage.

What they have said is that you get better at this, the more you to this, and that's absolutely right. I think the campaign knows that he does need to do better.

Because next week, we have another Democratic debate and they do not want Michael Bloomberg to have a repeat of last night.

And sort of the questions that we saw him get from the moderator and his rivals, whether it is on Stop-and-Frisk or allegations from the past about Michael Bloomberg making misogynistic remarks, those questions are not going to end.

They're going to have to continue preparing for the next debate coming up next week -- Kate?


Patti, every campaign has said and will say one debate doesn't make or break a campaign. But do you think last night's performance sticks with voters for Bloomberg?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Michael Bloomberg needed to do three things last night. And I think he failed at all three of them.

First of all, he needed to perform as a candidate. He needed to prove he can take a hit, deliver a punch, deliver a message. He wasn't able to do that.

He needed to really give his answer on Stop-and-Frisk and the NDAs, an answer with humility and contrition. And he wasn't able to do that. He also needed to frame the race between him and Bernie Sanders. And

because he did not do well, and everyone else pretty much on that stage had solid performances, he wasn't able to do that.

But having said all of that, what he does have is an incredible amount of resources into Super Tuesday. He basically has a 2,000-person organizer and $400 million head start on everybody else on that stage. And when you're talking about 14 states, that's a big advantage.


SOLIS DOYLE: And he does have next week. So if he can improve next week in the debate, go out there, do some interviews, hit the trail, prove that he can perform as a candidate, I still think he is a formidable contender.

BOLDUAN: And, too, what Patti raised, M.J., nobody went after Bloomberg more than Elizabeth Warren. The NDAs was one particularly rough line of attack. Let's listen to that.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): He has gotten some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements.

So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing it release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of story.


BLOOMBERG: We have a very few nondisclosure agreements.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: Let me finish.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: None of them accuse me of doing anything other than -- many didn't like the joke I told. And -- let me --

JOE BIDEN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's easy. All the mayor has to do is say, you are released from the nondisclosure agreement. Period.



BOLDUAN: Ending there with Biden.

M.J., what is the Warren campaign saying this morning? She needed a big night and it seems she had it.

LEE: Yes. The Bloomberg campaign had a tough night. Elizabeth Warren had an excellent night. I think this was a night that the campaign felt like they really needed to have. Because she came in at a disappointing third place in Iowa. A very disappointing fourth place in New Hampshire. And as we head into the Nevada caucus on Saturday, and beyond, they needed something to show that she still has this kind of political momentum.


And it was clear when she took the debate stage that she was particularly ready to use Michael Bloomberg, who was, by the way, standing two feet next to her, used him as a foil to deliver these kinds of attacks that we have seen her make before on the debate stage, in terms of showing off those debate skills.

What was notable, though, is that this is a candidate, remember, Kate, who said all year long, she does not want to be going on the attack against other Democratic rivals. But she did that last night with Michael Bloomberg on the NDA issue on Stop-and-Frisk. And then other candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

This is something that we have not seen from the Warren campaign. Clearly, they made a decision for this to be her strategy going to last night because they knew that they needed to mix things up.

What is not clear, though, is whether this kind of moment last night is going to be enough to give her the boost she might want in Nevada, especially given that early voting is already under way in that state.

BOLDUAN: Especially when you got where Bernie Sanders is standing now.

Especially, Patti, when you've got the candidate who got off easy, it seems, is now the frontrunner, Bernie Sanders.

Let my play for viewers some of the best attempts getting at him last night.


BUTTIGIEG: I'm actually less concerned about the lack of transparency on Sanders' personal health than I am about the lack of transparency on how to pay for his health care plan. Since he said it is impossible to even know how much it is going to cost.

BLOOMBERG: This is ridiculous. We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called Communism and it just didn't work.


BOLDUAN: What did last night mean for Bernie Sanders, Patti?

SOLIS DOYLE: Look, Bernie Sanders had a good night last night, simply because he was not really touched by the other candidates. Those were good attempts, but they didn't really land the blow. None of them did.

And I think the other thing for Bernie Sanders is we -- there's two big stories from last night. One, Michael Bloomberg did not do well at all.

And, two, Elizabeth Warren is a bad-ass woman. This Democratic voter, and I'm sure other Democratic voters last night, looked at her performance and said, I would like to see her do that to Donald Trump. She's effective. She's smart and she's tough.

So in that respect, I think Bernie took a hit, only because Elizabeth Warren, you know, the other candidate on the progressive side, did extremely well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Sitting on camera with two other bad-ass women. I appreciate that.

Good to see you guys. Thank you so much.

Coming up, so how does Bernie Sanders think last night went? And where does he go from here? His campaign's senior adviser joins me next.

Plus, we're also continuing to wait for the sentencing of Roger Stone, coming any minute. And we have more updates coming from outside the courthouse.



BOLDUAN: Last night was the first time Bernie Sanders debated as the national frontrunner. While the candidates came out swinging, Sanders seemed to avoid most of the hits, ending the night relatively unscathed. What is next for the man currently leading in the polls?

Here to answer that, Sanders' campaign adviser, Jeff Weaver.

Good to see you, Jeff. Thank you for coming on.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

I know you feel great after last night. If you didn't, something would be wrong with your head.

What has been the focus for the campaign today?

WEAVER: Well, the focus on the campaign is the Nevada caucus, which is coming up here on Saturday. There has been a tremendous turnout in terms of the early vote here. Now we need to make sure all the folks get out for the day of caucus here on Saturday in Nevada so we can win here.

BOLDUAN: On Nevada, real quick, I heard that you -- you said the campaign, as others have, were concerned about what could happen in Nevada. After Iowa. Are you still concerned about the integrity of the process in Nevada? WEAVER: It's not so much the integrity of the process. What we're

concerned about is that these programs -- they're not called an app, they're called a too, but it looks like an app to me -- are being asked to do -- maybe I'm old and can't tell the difference between an app and a tool -- but they're being asked to do much more complicated calculations than was required in Iowa. So it is a cause for concern.

BOLDUAN: Are you more concerned -- are you getting more confident by the day? That doesn't bring -- I must say, it probably doesn't bring confidence in supporters and voters and caucus-goers thinking your campaign is concerned going in that what's going to happen.

WEAVER: For sure. There was an A.P. story yesterday that the results may not be available on Saturday night. When you have a process like this, you should have accurate results delivered in a timely manner, so the will of the voters is made known as soon as possible.

BOLDUAN: I heard the campaign manager for Mike Bloomberg say today that he's not sure that Bernie Sanders can be caught at this point. He said it scares him. Do you think you're close to pulling away in that -- in that far away?


WEAVE: Yes. Look, that would be presumptuous. Bernie Sanders is not a presumptuous candidate. He always runs like he's 20 points behind whether he's 20 points up or down.

He's going to continue to run hard. His daily schedule is exhausting for a normal human being. He manages to fight through. He's going to be in states all across this country over the next week, as we have Nevada, South Carolina and Super Tuesday, all the states. We're working very hard.

BOLDUAN: Got to ask you about the final round of questioning last night over delegates and the convention. Sanders was the only candidate to say the candidate with the plurality of delegates, not the majority, should be the nominee. He was the only one that took that position last night on stage.

Would you acknowledge, Jeff, the hypocrisy in taking that position compared to four years ago?

WEAVER: Why -- I don't know what you would say that, Kate. Why is there any hypocrisy in that position?

We went into the convention last time. We did not have enough delegates and Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, nominated her from the floor by acclimation, went on to campaign for her across the country.

So while the campaign was going on and there were a number of super delegates -- at that point, there were super delegates. They played a different role now. But they could switch their votes at the last minute --


BOLDUAN: Right. Super delegates play a different role because of work that was done post 2016 in conjunction with Bernie Sanders.

WEAVER: Correct, absolutely. I don't think there's anything inconsistent with what he said last night and what he did last time. Which is Hillary Clinton had more delegates. He went to the convention. He rallied his supporters to support her. He nominated her from the floor by acclimation. And then went and campaigned for her across this country.

So, hopefully, whoever the nominee is, whether Bernie sanders or somebody else, all the candidates will do the same for that candidate.

BOLDUAN: Your national press secretary was on CNN yesterday. And I'm not talking about the -- what she misspoke about heart attacks. I'm talking about she compared questions about Bernie Sanders medical records to Birther claims. She says, "They're the kind of smears like questioning where the candidates are from, aspects of their lineage." And she says it is really telling.

Do you really think that asking a question about the Senator's health when he's 78 years old and had a heart attack a few months ago is the same as questioning if Barack Obama was born in the United States?

WEAVER: Yes, I wouldn't characterize it that way. I would say this about what he's released. He's released more records, or at least as much as everybody else on that debate stage.

And one of the people who you released a letter from was the attending physician from the U.S. Congress, who has been his doctor for 29 years. So clearly not one of those rent-a-docs that Donald Trump used to do his letters. And two lead cardiologists at the University of Vermont who have been taking care of him.

And I think Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on your network, said the information provided was a lot of information and gave --


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I'm not questioning that information you're putting out. I'm asking about the fact that you're comparing -- your campaign is comparing those questions to a conspiracy theory into the birthplace of Barack Obama.

WEAVER: Look, I said, I would not characterize it that way.


Jeff, thank you very much. We'll see you on the campaign trail. Long road ahead.

WEAVER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We're still waiting for what is going on inside that courthouse, the

sentencing for Roger Stone. His attorneys already making requests for no prison time. That is not surprising. But there are a lot of updates coming from the courtroom. We'll bring you the outside the courthouse next.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Right now, we are waiting for the president's longtime associate, Roger Stone, to be sentenced. Court in D.C. just resumed. Judge Amy Berman Jackson just took the bench.

Sara Murray is outside the courthouse. She joins me now.

Sara, what is the latest you're hearing?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is the beginning of what will ultimately be the sentence, though we don't know at this point what the sentence may be.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson kicked this off, returning after a break saying, surprisingly, I have a lot to say, and she's in the process of saying it right now.

She's really starting during the campaign about Roger Stone's activity and going on about everything that's happened since then.

One of the points she was careful to make was that this was not something that came up because, even though the president has said this and people in the president's orbit have said this, this was not just looking to target allies of President Trump.

The judge said this: "This case did not arise because Roger Stone was being pursued by is political enemies. It arose because Roger Stone characteristically interjected himself smack in the middle of one of the most significant issues of the day."

She goes on to talk about how he was talking very publicly about being in touch with WikiLeaks. And now she's starting to run through the things that Roger Stone told to Congress.

So she really is sort of trying to craft this narrative before she hands down the ultimate sentence of how Roger Stone ended up in this courtroom today.

And I think, you know, that's an important narrative, Kate, because we've seen President Trump out there saying, no one even knows what Roger Stone is charged with, which is not true --


MURRAY: -- suggesting that Roger Stone was only targeted because he is an ally of the president. And the judge is making very clear that's not the case. BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

And it might be a hardest task to ask you of right now. Can you characterize and describe the surprising twists we've seen already playing out this morning, with what we've heard -- the questions of the bench, and the position of the prosecutors?


MURRAY: We've seen a lot of contrition from the prosecutors in this courtroom today. The judge has repeatedly sided on most of these counts with a harsher sentence for Roger Stone that prosecutors originally asked for in their original memo. And we've seen prosecutors, the new ones, apologize to the court for causing confusion.

BOLDUAN: Causing confusion.

Right now, everything that you're hearing is she's leading up to actually handing down the sentence, Sara?

MURRAY: She is. It's unclear how long it will take her to recount what she thinks are the important points, but, yes, she's leading up to it.

BOLDUAN: All right, you'll bring it to us when it happens.

Thank you, Sara Murray. It's good to see you.

As Sara mentioned, that sentence could come at any moment.

We will be right back.