Return to Transcripts main page


Michigan Governor Endorses Joe Biden In Post-Super Tuesday Show Of Force; Senator Elizabeth Warren Ends Campaign Cementing Joe Biden Versus Senator Bernie Sanders Showdown; Senator Kama Harris Says Challenges Remain For Women Running For President; Joe Biden And Senator Bernie Sanders Draw Contrast Over Establishment Corporate Support; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Under Fire For Threatening Words Against Justices. Aired 12-12.30p ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Elizabeth Warren exits the 2020 Democratic Race and will explain her decision in just moments.

It is a Bernie Sanders/Joe race now, and the Former Vice President is rolling out big name endorsements in a Super Tuesday show of force.

Plus a cruise ship is held off the California Coast and a Seattle school district closes as states grapple now with the spreading Coronavirus. A massive emergency spending plan is about to clear Congress.

And Chuck Schumer under fire the Senate's top Democrat wants payback if the President Trump Supreme Court picks vote to roll back abortion rights. The Chief Justice issues a rare stern rebuke calling the threat dangerous. And the Senate's t top Republican sees a giant political opening.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: He tried to gaffe light the entire country and stated that he was actually threatening fellow Senators as though that would be much better.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: I'm from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn't have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing and leader McConnell knows that.


KING: Back to that story in a few moments, but we begin with today's big breaking 2020 news. Senator Elizabeth Warren is dropping out. Warren was in the top tier as recently as the fall, with a ground game then envied by her rivals. But her decision today to abandon the 2020 contest completes the dramatic downward turn. 18 states have weighed in so far, and Warren has just 37 delegates and no wins, placing third in her home state of Massachusetts just this past Tuesday.

Warren quitting cements the new campaign trail reality, the Democratic Race now a two-person battle between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The questions now who, if anyone, will Warren endorse? CNN's MJ Lee is live outside Warren's home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MJ, take us inside this decision and what we know.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was new, certainly, John, that was widely expected for the past few days, really since Super Tuesday when she so underperformed expectations.

Elizabeth Warren told her team officially within the last hour on a conference call that she is, in fact, suspending her campaign, and according to our source that was on the call, she thanked her staffers and said she wanted them not to focus on the disappointment of the news but to focus on the fact that they have accomplished something and that they will have a lasting impact.

Now, the huge question, of course, is whether Elizabeth Warren will make an endorsement of some kind, whether that is today or in the coming days. What we do know is that on that staff call, Elizabeth Warren did not have any news to share in terms of an endorsement.

So, again, we know she didn't have anything to say to her campaign staffers about whether she was going to make an endorsement, but she will be holding a press conference any minute now outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So we'll see if she has any additional information to share about her thinking as we go forward. We do know that yesterday Senator Warren spoke yesterday with both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

So again, a huge question now is whether Elizabeth Warren will make an endorsement. We will keep you posted on any news coming out of this press conference, John.

KING: Come back whenever news warns MJ and we'll go there live on Senator Warren comes out to explain her decision, hopefully take some questions a bit later today. MJ thank you.

Warren's exit comes amid a Joe Biden show of force. He won 10 of 14 states this past Tuesday and he has racked up more than 20 prominent endorsements since. Follow the primary calendar as you tally these endorsements.

Arising African-American Congresswoman from Florida, a next-governor Democratic Senator from Arizona now and this big get Michigan is the biggest delegate prize next Tuesday March 10th and its Democratic Governor joined team Biden just this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D-MI): I'm going to be voting for Joe Biden. When the chips were down, it was the Obama-Biden Administration that stepped up and helped out the auto industry, and that was a great thing for our economy as a nation, but it was personal to us here in Michigan.


KING: With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Athena Jones Philip Bump with "The Washington Post" Alex Burns with "The New York Times" and Maggie Haberman, also with the "Times."

Let's start with Senator Warren. Our conversations over the summer were Warren was the growth stock Warren was impressing Warren was growing and rising in the polls. Warren is exiting today. That's a big deal in the race. I guess the big question - well, two questions. What will she do going forward, will she pick, and what went wrong?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There are a lot of other people on this panel who can speak better to what went wrong. I think whether she endorses, I think we'll know in the coming week. She has indicated today that she is not going to immediately make an endorsement, but I do think that her focus is pretty solidly on beating Donald Trump, and I think her endorsement is going to be guided by that.


KING: And to that point let's stick on the endorsement question for a minute. We know that a lot of people on the left were mad last time she sat out the Sanders-Clinton race. With the states that are coming up next Tuesday, and then the Tuesday after that, and Biden with a lead in delegates and Bernie Sanders essentially back on his heals a little bit.

A little bit don't underestimate the Sanders Campaign but back on his heals a little bit by this. He could sure use it right now. That is Elizabeth Warren's home to left of the party. What happens Phil, if she doesn't if she already faced Ilhan Omar the other night was saying she should have gotten out of the race? She better have a vest you know there is going to be a lot of incoming.

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, you know that's absolutely right. I mean, she's been under fire for weeks now. I mean, it's been apparent for some time, I think we can all agree that she probably wasn't going to be the party's nominee.

She's been taking a lot of fire from Bernie Sanders' allies, a lot of vocal calls for her to get out of the race. I'm not sure where she goes from here. I mean, you're right, in 2016, she sort of held her fire in a way that made people frustrated.

It is certainly is the case that she has a natural base. Her base of support could go either way. I mean, there are a lot of people who might be have a pedal election towards Joe Biden, a lot of people who might have pedal election towards Bernie Sanders. I'm not sure that there is a lot of urgency on her and beyond the

obvious pressure to actually move forward with an endorsement. And quite frankly in this particular race which is so weird and so turbulent, I'm not sure it makes a difference, anyway.

KING: In what went wrong calculation I should note Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race. She has not dropped out but she has not performed in any of the states right there she is hoping because she got a delegate out of American Samoa to be in the next debate the Democratic National Committee has not set the rules yet.

But she's still in the race and we need to respect that and watch that. But if you go back to the beginning of this race and the diversity of the Democratic field, suddenly you have essentially the contest for the nomination is between two white men, two older white men Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

As to what went wrong with Elizabeth Warren, how much of it is this, from another former candidate Kamala Harris?


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): This election cycle in particular has also presented very legitimate questions about the challenges of women running for the President of the United States. Look what's happened. There are no women currently in this race.

You know, we can have a longer discussion about it, but the reality is that there is still a lot of work to be done to make it very clear that women are exceptionally qualified and capable of being the Commander in Chief of the United States of America.


KING: Senator Harris, of course, not counting Tulsi Gabbard, and most of the other candidates don't even though she is nominally still in the race there. But to that point, Senator Harris, we had Senator Warren, we had Senator Klobuchar. Is that a fair point?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it is a fair point, and we saw this the last time around we saw this in 2016. There are a lot of people who might support Elizabeth Warren or an Amy Klobuchar, but in the end when it comes down to the voting booth, they're concerned that others won't support them.

I can tell you that support a lot of the support that I heard on the ground, I talked to almost a hundred voters between New Hampshire and South Carolina kind of evenly split. Almost every single person who said they were supporting Elizabeth Warren was a woman.

And often times they pointed to the idea that she was a woman, they wanted a strong woman to lead, and they were very proud of that. But it looking like you can't win the nomination just with the support of women, even though she had a lot of that.

KING: It is striking obviously Hillary Clinton was the Democratic Nominee four years ago, she won the popular vote, but breaking through part in winning the election, and now I think some of the questions about how Hillary lost to Trump was part of the calculation psychology of Democratic voters.

This time as you go through it I should note we also had Senator Gillibrand who is in the race early on. She didn't do very well. Marine Williamson ran for a while as well. So this was an incredibly diverse field and now you have a Democratic Party that says we are the party of Latinos, we are party of African-Americans, we are the party of women with two white men respected white men, but two white men at the top of the ticket.

ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And it's an enormous challenge for them I think going forward. I think the burden is going to be on whoever the ultimate nominee is, if it's Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders to choose a running mate that reflects more of a diversity of the party.

But you know thinking back on the last couple of years of covering the run up to this campaign very first event I went to - with Elizabeth Warren in one of the early states. It was in Nevada in early summer of 2018.

She blew sort of blew the roof off the race and first two people I spoke to after her speech were older women sort of late 60s early 70s they both said, I love her to death. I hope she doesn't run for President because I don't want to see what Donald Trump would do to her.

And that's something that you hear from people over and over again and not just with Senator Warren, with a lot of the women in the race, just a concern about will sexism cost them the election, and do I want to see this person get treated by Donald Trump the way they have every reason to believe they would be treated by Donald Trump.

When you look at a lot of the polls of this fields even today, many of them show that Elizabeth Warren is actually the most favorably viewed of any candidate in the field. She's just not turning that into actual votes, and I think there's no question that that sends a sort of snakebite from 2016 has really affected her and a lot of other folks.

KING: And so now we have is we await Senator Warren's A explanation and B, will I wait, will not I endorse or will I wait? The primary calendar will increase the pressure on her. We do know that both Sanders and Biden have spoken to her, and other people in the party who were their friends and advocates trying as well to lobby her.

This is the race we have right now. Joe Biden is your delegate leader. How many people thought we would be saying that? We'll see we're not done allocating.


KING: We're still doing California. It is possible Senator Sanders catches up. But here we are on the Thursday after Super Tuesday Joe Biden has won 509 pledged delegates. He has won 49 percent of the delegates so far he would have to win 51 percent of the remaining delegates to get to 1991 which means clinch before you get to the convention.

This is Bernie sanders. He has won 449 of the delegates so far. That's 43 percent of those allocated so far. He would need to win 53 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to get to 1991. That is a conversation I don't think many people thought we would be having.

HABERMAN: No. It's not. I mean, look, it was clear that Biden was not dead as a candidate, but it was clear that a lot of energy had been taken from him, and while Donald Trump obviously hurt himself by going after Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, he hurt Joe Biden as well.

There were a lot of questions that I think Joe Biden had trouble answering about his son's work in Ukraine, and which he is going to get again. And so one challenge for the campaign is going to be how to answer that question better without just yelling at the reporter asking it, which is generally what happened because voters - least voters I've spoken to do have questions about it.

But this was a remarkable comeback. We've never seen something like this, certainly not in modern politics, where somebody came in fourth or lower in the first two states and then had this massive win in South Carolina, used that a few days later to what was basically a nationalized victory.

This is unheard of. What it means going forward remains to be seen? There is still if Bernie Sanders wants to keep going, there is a path for him to keep going. But as you note, there is not necessarily a path for him to catch up in pledged delegates. I think that's a question he is going to ask himself.

KING: The math gets hard, and we're going to do it every day as we allocate delegates in the contest behind us and as we go through the contest ahead of us. One other things we do remember those of us around 2016, it is when Sanders gets challenged he tends to get chippy right he tends to get more aggressive.

Michael Bloomberg endorsed Joe Biden yesterday after getting out. So listen to Bernie Sanders saying, oh, Joe Biden, you got the billionaires.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wall Street starts opening up its wallet for Joe Biden. He has more than 60 billionaires contributing to his campaign. You know that today the stock market went way up. The health care industry and the JAR companies did very, very well today you know why because Biden had a good day yesterday.

JOE BIDEN (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. Bernie, you got beaten by overwhelming support I have from the African-American Community, Bernie. You got beaten because of suburban women, Bernie. You got beaten because of middle class hard- working folks out there, Bernie. You've raised a lot more money than I have, Bernie. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now Biden staying calm there. Biden's confidence involvement he is feeling good after the last few days, but he also has gone after Bernie Sanders record on guns when Bernie was a Congressman from Vermont before the Senator from Vermont before the politics changed. I suspect like Clinton/Sanders this is going to get chippy and probably pretty personal.

BUMP: Yes, I mean there are a couple of ways this could go. It could go the 2016 route which is that there was a clear leader and Bernie Sanders in particular is trying to catch up to him who got the 2008 route and we end Super Tuesday after all the delegates are in and there are even and we keep fighting for every single individual delegate up until early June.

I think one of the fascinating parallels here that I haven't seen a lot of commentary about over the last couple of days is the way this really mirrors how Trump was able to be successful in 2016. The reason that Biden Sanders and Joe Biden are the two frontrunners right now because they are two that had a core base of support coming into the primary in the first place.

Trump built his very quickly after he announced his candidacy in 2015. Sanders and Biden, Warren went up to down in part because she was seen people who are coming on to her team and then leaving.

Biden and Sanders kept their core base of support and part of the reason that Biden saw this surge recently is because that base spoke loudly for the first time last Saturday in South Carolina was amazing on last Saturday. In South Carolina Bernie Sanders base have been speaking, and I think that's why those are the two that remain.

BURNS: I think the point that it was just Saturday in South Carolina is sort of a little bit of a reality check on this sort of tidal wave that the race has been completely transformed permanently and irreversibly. Look, Joe Biden is in a great, great position right now. He has not sustained a great position for very long, very often, if at all in this race.

KING: And he's never been in this position before in his life. We'll see how he handles it. Maybe he'll grow, maybe he'll get better because of it, maybe he'll struggle. But to your point the last 100 hours have been so volatile. That could question whether the next 100 hours will be volatile as well.

Hold that thought, we're going to working on a quick break because we're expecting to hear from Senator Warren momentarily. She has also posted on media explaining why she decided to bow out of the race but she said her fight will go on.

Up next for us here, the Senate Minority Leader tried to clean up his comments that sound like a threat against two Supreme Court Justices.




SCHUMER: The Supreme Court is hearing arguments as you know for the first major abortion right cases since Justices Kavanaugh and Justices Gorsuch came to the bench. I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.


KING: The backlash over those remarks by the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is escalating today. President Trump calls it a disgrace. The Chief Justice John Roberts issued a rare rebuke, calling Schumer's words inappropriate and dangerous. Schumer backpedaling somewhat today after Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate with this.


MCCONNELL: The Minority Leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, period. There's no other way to interpret that.

SCHUMER: Now, I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They did not come out the way I intended to. In no way was I making a threat. I never, ever would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that.


KING: So a backpedal not an apology, but a backpedal - he said he would never issue a threat, but if you just play his words, it sure sounded like a threat.

HABERMAN: I think it's a couple of things. Yes, I think those were very unwise words for him to have said. He clearly acknowledges that. Whether he apologized or not, that was a mistake, and I think it would became clear to him based on what McConnell said on the floor speech that President was obviously elevating it.

It's a little hard to take at face value President Trump calling it a disgrace that someone would dare to criticize a judge or attack a judge or say anything about a judge--

KING: Yes in court they say the President has no standing. On this particular issue, the President has no standing.

HABERMAN: So I think that's part of the problem for Republicans is that they have a Leader of their party who has said so many things, that if Democrat say it that they would seize on that I think that when they talk about these things - understanding. But I do think what Schumer said was a mistake. I think it does raise other questions about where Chief Justice Roberts is choosing to weigh in and choosing not to weigh in. I think you're going to hear more of that in the coming days. Roberts rebuked Schumer for what he said. He rebuked Trump a while ago for something he said, but not since, and it's not as if the President has refrained from saying things about judges.

KING: It's a great point because the other Chief normally writes an annual report to the State of the Judiciary. Other than that, tries to stays out of it. Just some examples to your point he did in the end of the year report write about the prevalence of fake information on the internet one.

Some people took that as that may be that Trump might be included in that. He criticized the President for using the term "Obama Judge" in 2018 that was stepping into an active news cycle actually when he did that.

And he did a law school speech right before Justice Scalia died about a political and divisive Supreme Court nomination process. But he has been more careful and we saw him during the impeachment proceedings when there at times when Democrats wanted him to have a more active role and he was like thank you not. But he did decide to speak out here.

JONES: And he decided to speak out, but also it was interesting to see Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor saying, you know, some of the Democratic Party appears more interested in attacking the institutions of our government rather than working within them.

That was a criticism that he could have clearly delivered toward the President, which he won't be doing. He also said that these are shameless efforts to bully our nation's independent judiciary. And he laid some of the - we know about the past examples of President Trump criticizing judges just recently, and he wasn't rebuked for this, certainly not from Chief Justice Roberts.

He just recently said that Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor should recues themselves from his cases. So this goes both ways and clearly Chuck Schumer shouldn't have said what he said, but the rebuking needs to be taking place on both sides.

KING: Yes, the strength of McConnell's speech was just to that point, he knows fully well that this is exactly what Democrats say about the President all the time, and he knows fully well that they are right when they say it. He was taking advantage of the opportunity to try to flip the coin for a day.

But to the rhetoric from Schumer there, this is the age we live in that the volume and the hyperbole gets turned up in rhetoric, and sometimes we look for the people at the top of the leaders. Again, President Trump has no standing in this from a Republican standpoint, to dial it back when you have insightful rhetoric from people trying to get attention. For Schumer to do that tells you what?

BURNS: Well, I think it's so striking, and in some ways probably why it was so clearly politically unsuccessful, is that this actually did not come supernaturally to Chuck Schumer, and it reminded me a little bit of that moment at end of the State of the Union where Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of the President's speech.

Where it was like this is a little overly demonstrative here, right? You're sort of trying to prove that you can do the pro wrestling side of politics. That's actually not really what you do at all. I don't remember the last time comments by Chuck Schumer broke through a national news cycle at all, right?

So the fact that it's this tells you something, I think, about a certain generation of legislators, I think somewhat more on the Democratic side, trying to feel their way into sort of daily relevance in a new cycle that is so dominated by this President who is obviously totally at home in this environment.

I also think it reflects on the Democratic side a level of anger about the courts that we have not seen in previous elections and Mitch McConnell knows that sort of playing off that anger to remind his own base of how urgently important and threatened the courts have been in the not distant past by potential Democratic appointments is very useful to them.

KING: There is a "Success" Democrats don't like it, but the biggest success of the Trump Administration is by confirmation of all these judges, without a doubt and the party likes him for it. All right, we'll come back to this later keep an eye on it. Next for us the latest on the Coronavirus epidemic there are three states now taking additional precautions today.



KING: We're standing by. Any moment now we're going to hear from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Just earlier this morning you see the scene outside of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts there.

Earlier this morning she decided to bow out of the Democratic Presidential Race. The question is as she explains her decision now, will she offer any clues about whether she plans to endorse any other candidate in the race in-