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Warren Ends Campaign, Cementing Biden vs. Sanders Showdown; Sen. Warren Speaks After Ending Presidential Bid. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired March 5, 2020 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You see the scene outside her home in Cambridge Massachusetts there. Early 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 her call with staff earlier today, she gave no such hints. In a post on medium explaining her decision and promising to fight on for the progressive issues she cares about, she gives no hints about such a thing.
So as we wait to hear from Senator Warren, number one, again, as we talked a bit earlier, she was an early surprise in the race, an impressive surprise in the race, a threat to Senator Sanders and a threat for the nomination. Now she has a choice to make about someone who is a leader in the progressive movement, especially on the issues like Bernie Sanders, big banks, fighting against big banks. She was for Medicare for All but then changed her position a bit. That may have one of the complications in the campaign here.
What is her biggest question right now about her future as she decides a, to explain why she's stepping away, and then b, whether to take the risk and endorse.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think on one level, it's clear where she overlaps with Senator Sanders. But she's obviously criticized Biden quite a bit in the latest debates and all. But she may want to have a big voice in the coming general election or in a potential Biden administration should he be the nominee.
And so she could be deciding now between does she going to stay on the side of Medicare for All and the progressive lane, or does she try to say, look, I have supporters overlap both progressives and moderates, do I go with my moderate supporters and go with the person who looks most likely to be able to win.
KING: And she has some obvious historical differences with Biden. They served together in the Obama administration. She's very critical of a bankruptcy bill he passed. Joe Biden was the senator from Delaware then. A lot of banking and financial service is there. So it's interesting because she had said before she dropped out she was trying to position herself as the bridge, saying that if you had this long race and you have a brokered convention, that she was somebody who had deep credibility with Sanders supporters and progressives but also could reach out to the center of the party. That conversation is over. The question is where does she see her role both in 2020 and beyond in the Democratic Party?
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And there's clearly a big opportunity for her right now if she wants to be seen as somebody who changes the course of this election. But if she were to go out there and endorse Bernie Sanders in a forceful way, she could be seen as really helping revive his campaign. If she were to go Michigan this weekend and appear with Joe Biden and endorse him, she could be seen as helping him and his campaign, right?
And whether she is interested in doing either of those things, I think is unknown to us, and I think as Athena was saying, the question for her going forward is exactly what role does she want to play in Democratic politics and in policymaking? If there's one thing that we know for sure about her, that she cares a lot about the actual policies that she has proposed. And I think it's an open question.
You could argue with it in either direction, whether she would have a better chance of having a voice in the Sanders administration which is more aligned with her ideologically but perhaps not as open to outside participation. Or whether she would have a better chance in a Biden administration where she does have significant differences with him but he is a dealmaker, if ever there was one in the Democratic Party.
KING: She's an interesting spot and if you look back here, I mean, she just -- she underperformed. There's no other way to put it. I don't mean to be mean but, you know, she was someone who we thought and she hired a lot of people, she had a good organization, they were talented people on her staff, some of them with good campaign experience. She only has 37 delegates after 18 states have weighed in, third in her home state of Massachusetts, very disappointing in California state where she thought she could do well in the suburbs.
But she has some sway here for herself. If she endorsed Bernie Sanders right now, it would give him a boost at a time he needs it. If she went for the vice president for any particular reason, it would give him this rally around Biden, almost be inevitability of Biden happening. If she steps back and is cautious, help or hurt her or maybe the smart thing to do, right now?
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, honestly, I think it would be very unbrand for her to turn to her base and say I trust you guys to do what you think should be done here. I mean, I think one of the things that sort of fascinating about her core bases part is when you spoke with them -- if you talk to Sanders supporters and Biden supporters, what you heard was because of electability. What you heard when you spoke to Warren supporters was despite electability.
We should vote for the candidate who we think is the best person to be president. Yes, we think she can win against Donald Trump, but we understand how people may think that Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden is a better bet in that regard. What they really internalize was this was a candidate who represented their values.
Sanders supporters absolutely and, of course, hold that same position, but they also argued consistently he is the guy who could beat Trump in November. I heard that a lot less from Warren supporters. And so, it maybe for her a strategic move simply to say to her base make the decisions yourselves.
KING: It's apples and oranges so I'm not sure this a direct comparison but what about Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who just came in third in her home state in the Democratic primary? If you're thinking I want to stay Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, how much of a message did the voters in her own state send her?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was a real one, right? I mean, this was always a risk for any candidate when they're running in their home state. We saw Amy Klobuchar get out of Minnesota, she, I think clearly played a role in helping Joe Biden here, but it's not clear to me that she would have won it, and that would have hurt her.
So, I do think that this has to be a factor. I don't think we know yet what Elizabeth Warren wants her political future to look like. I think Alex is exactly right, that we know there are these issues where she had clear plans. She talked about them often throughout the primary and that is where she wants her focus and her energy to be. And I think she is still assessing how to best accomplish that.
I'm not sure that hanging on to your capital right now, to your point about what happened in 2016, is actually the best way to do that.
BURNS: There is a model for somebody running for president, underperforming, losing in their home state, and then going on to try to become an influential factor in an administration that is ideologically dissimilar from your own instincts, and that's obviously Marco Rubio, humiliated in Florida in an even more dramatic way than what happened in Massachusetts. He has clearly made his peace a long time ago with the Trump administration to try to work through its power with his own foreign policy agenda in particular.
Elizabeth Warren and Marco Rubio, hard to think of two more different politicians but there is a model for sort of getting on board with somebody who is not necessarily the most comfortable match. And you could argue, I think, either way which one of these guys is less comfortable.
KING: And we're told she's a minute or so away. I'm always fascinated at these moments by the gymnastics, the verbal gymnastics in the sense that she just, 24 hours ago, was saying, we can't elect a president who just wants to cut deals with Mitch McConnell, meaning you don't want Joe Biden, he's a dealmaker. And we can't elect the president my way or the high way, wants to be, you know, out there with the revolution, a criticism of Bernie Sanders. Now, all candidates in the race, you are competing against each other, you say things, we've seen Klobuchar and Buttigieg and Bloomberg already do that when it comes to Vice President Biden. But I'm very interested in the sense that, you know, when we watch candidates grow and learn through our campaigns, does she talk about the others here or does she only -- and try to say, forget all that, or talk her way through it, or just focus on herself and saying thanks to her supporters and moving on?
HABERMAN: I think the question is how much she talks about herself and her supporters, and how much she talks about Donald Trump which is where I imagine she's going to keep most of her focus. I don't think she's going to use this as a cleanup opportunity. I don't know why she would want to remind everybody of that and have fresh video of things that she said.
I do think, though, you touched on something just now that I keep thinking about as we have seen this Democratic race play out, which is how many people within the party, how many people describe themselves as part of the resistance to Donald Trump have described him as an existential threat to the country, but I can't vote for x, y, z. He's an existential threat, but I can't vote for Bernie Sanders.
I think that she is going to be somebody who I think can help kind of redirect that if she chooses to, redirect people and remind them what their stated goal is.
KING: But you must. You know, you may -- get over it. The thing, can she do it because we did -- that was a lot of what we saw on Super Tuesday in the rally around Biden winning states where he never set foot.
HABERMAN: That's right.
KING: A switch went off among Democrats who just thought, OK, it's game time now, we need to do something. And we saw it. So it'll be fascinating to see. You see the cameras turning, we expect the senator to come out.
This is Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is where she lives before she got involved in elective politics. She was a professor at the Harvard Law School, not far from her home there. I grew up in Dorchester, to us Cambridge is the left bank. That's what you call it in, but it's a great little town. I'm just making a little bit of fun of it here.
But as she comes out -- that's what we do in Dorchester. As she comes out there --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's great. That's good. That's lively, making fun of them.
KING: It's the home of the Harvard Institute of Politics. I did a little work there, too. I can be nice to Cambridge. It's easy to walk to Fenway from there.
I'm stuck on the words, where from here.
JONES: Well, I think one of the questions that will be interesting to watch is how much does she try to talk about unity the way she did in New Hampshire a few contests ago? It kinds of, you got to touch on unity. She's called herself the unifier, but at the same time if she's not endorsing anyone just yet, can you -- how do you walk that line between saying we all need to come together, but I'm not going to tell you who we should come together behind.
So it will be interesting to see how much of her message is about herself, is about her supporters, is about President Trump and is about unifying the party if she's not going to make a choice right now?
BUMP: That could be the pretext for not endorsing, right? That I'm going to play a part and bring the party together at the end of this but until then, it's up to you guys.
KING: Let's just listen in a moment here. She has reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that her dog barking?
KING: Bailey, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KING: Senator Warren, her husband Bruce, dog Bailey. Let's listen in.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): All right. So I announced this morning that I am suspending my campaign for president.
I say this with a deep sense of gratitude for every single person who got in this fight, every single person who tried on a new idea, every single person who just moved a little in their notion of what a president of the United States should look like. I will not be running for president in 2020, but I guarantee, I will stay in the fight for the hardworking folks across this country who've got the short end of the stick over and over. That's been the fight of my life and it will continue to be so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What advice would you give to your supporters who don't know who to support now?
WARREN: Well, let's take a deep breath and spend a little time on that. We don't have to decide at this minute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I wonder what's your message would be like for the women and girls who feel like were left with two white men to decide between.
WARREN: I know. One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That's going to be hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Warren, will you be making an endorsement today? We know that you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.
WARREN: Not today. I need some space around this, and I want to take a little time to think a little more. I've been spending a lot of time right now on the question of suspending and also making sure that this works as best we can for our staff, for our team, for our volunteers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it could be coming, but just not right now.
WARREN: Not right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know your campaign manager Roger Lau said on the staff call today that he had no regrets. Do you feel the same way?
WARREN: Oh, I do. I have no regrets at all. You know, this has been an honor of a lifetime. Ten years ago, I was teaching a few blocks from here and talking about what was broken in America and ideas on how to fix it, and pretty much nobody wanted to hear it. And I had a chance to get out there and talk with millions of people. And, you know, we have ideas now that we talk about that we just weren't talking about even a year ago.
A two cent wealth tax and universal child care that could be real, we could make it happen. And canceling student loan debt for 43 million Americans and raising social security payments. Those are life- changing events for people and we could actually do this. So I'm delighted to have been here and honored to have had this chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, how do you feel about not winning in Massachusetts?
WARREN: You know, I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes, a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is the incumbent for, and a moderate lane that Joe Biden is an incumbent for, and there's no room for anyone else in this. I felt that wasn't right, but evidently I was wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, why do you think you weren't able to resonate more with voters and win any states?
WARREN: As I said, I think that --I was told when I first got into this, there are two lanes. And I thought it was possible that that wasn't the case, that there was more room and more room to run another kind of campaign. But evidently that wasn't the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- lose your home state in Massachusetts?
WARREN: No. I am deeply grateful to the people of Massachusetts. Look, back in 2012, they took a chance on someone who had never run for public office before. They ousted a very incumbent Republican senator to give me a chance, to stand up on a bigger platform and fight for their families, and I am deeply grateful for that. They returned me to the Senate in 2018, and I am deeply grateful for that. They're the reason I'm in this fight and they're the reason I can -- I am able to stand here today.
Hi Annie (?).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Senator Warren, two questions for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw you vote two days ago for yourself.
WARREN: I did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you (INAUDIBLE) reflect a little bit about what that was like for you? And the other question is you talk a little about the role that you think that gender plays in this campaign.
WARREN: So, it was -- I stood in that voting booth and I looked down and saw my name on the ballot. And I thought, wow, kiddo, you're not in Oklahoma anymore. That it really was a moment of thinking about how my mother and dad, if they were still here, would feel about this. I had gotten a long e-mail from my nephew and how proud his dad, my brother is, and how they all had plans to vote in and meet other people. And it is, these are long times.
But that moment standing in the booth, I miss my mom and my daddy. Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for everyone. If you say, yes, there was sexism in this race, everyone says, whiner. And if you say, no, there was no sexism, about a bazillion women think, what planet do you live on?
I promise you this, I'll have a lot more to say on that subject later on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, to your supporters right now looking for a candidate, what is your advice to them? Obviously, I know you're not endorsing anybody but what's your advice to them.
WARREN: Let's take a deep breath and think about this for a little longer before we all settle in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were the last few days for you emotional days to make this decision? What were you thinking about (INAUDIBLE)? What was the final (INAUDIBLE)?
WARREN: You know, a big part of it is to think about all the people who turned their lives upside down to be part of this campaign. All of the staffers who moved and worked long hours, gave up jobs to be here, took leaves from school to think about what works for them. This isn't just about me, this is a whole lot of people who were a big part of this, and also our volunteers to try to think through.
For all those people who already have invested so many hours and so much of their heart in the phone calls and the door knocks and coming to the office and help clean things up and keep it all going. And think about all those pinky promises. You know, I take those pinky promises seriously.
So, those were the things I needed to think through and how we make all these pieces work at least as best we can for everyone. And one last thing, it's about all the people who respect (INAUDIBLE) all the issues I talked about. Whether they got involved in my fight or someone else's fight or even not at all, but the harder we talk about this, there still is a trillion and a half dollars of student loan debt outstanding.
There are still tens of millions of people across this country who, one bad medical diagnosis and they are upside down financially. There are still moms and dads all across this country who can't finish their education, can't take on jobs because they can't find access to decent child care that they can afford.
And I had to think a lot about where is the best place for me to go to keep fighting those fights, because those problems don't disappear when I stand here in front of you. Those problems go on, and my job is to keep fighting and to fight this as smartly and effectively as I can.
KING: Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband leaving a scrambled reporters and a group of supporters as well heading back into her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts after coming out to spend some time explaining her decision this morning to bow out, to exit the 2020 presidential race. She was gracious, she was candid, and she was personal.
Let's talk about some of the things she said. The headline will be, not going to endorse right now, she's going to take a deep breath. She endorsed -- encouraged all her supporters to take a deep breath.
She also was quite candid. Candidates often spin and sugar coat things. She said, I got into the race thinking, OK, Bernie is the incumbent of the liberal lane, Biden is the incumbent of the centrist lane, but I can create a new lane. She said, I was wrong.
BURNS: She got closer to creating that new lane than anybody else in this race. There was that extended moment in sort of August, September, early October where it really did look like she was pulling to get her critical mass of, you know, populists and progressive folks who supported Bernie Sanders four years ago, and a lot of more moderate women especially who supported Hillary Clinton four years ago.
And then we saw that sort of come apart in October. She got hung up on the questions about Medicare for All that clearly scared a lot of moderate voters, and then Bernie Sanders started mounting his comeback on the left and really squeezed her on that side.
We know that candidates have those thoughts themselves, but, usually just as you said, don't hear them put it all out there on a day like this.
KING: And the knock on Elizabeth Warren even before she run for president was that she was all policy and not personal. You could see there, and we know this from covering campaigns and candidates do as well.
When you get the gift of meeting America, traveling around the country, realizing how it's different. In her case, having the patience and grace to stand for tens of thousands of selfies after her events whether you support or don't support Elizabeth Warren or her policies is pretty remarkable. Candidates are in a hurry and she stayed and talked to voters.
You can see there that she learned a lot. She talked about the pinky promises and the like.
She's a very changed person, unsuccessful on this campaign, but that is not the Elizabeth Warren who was first elected senator for Massachusetts or the Elizabeth Warren who first got into this race for president.
BUMP: Yes. I mean, she ran what in a normal election cycle would be an extremely good presidential campaign. She's just in for structurally and then for volunteers she had, come out and support her in all the ways is which one expects to have to run a presidential campaign. She ran very, very well. The problem was, of course, this is a normal presidential campaign. Those leans exist in part because people are very fervently upset about Donald Trump and want to get him out of office.
I think that one of the legacies Elizabeth Warren may have is that she, like Chris Christie, may have miss her opportunity in 2016, and like Chris Christie, her main legacy in the race was knocking out someone who is surging, and in this case, Michael Bloomberg.
KING: All right, a key point we didn't make earlier and we should have that, you know, Joe Biden has a long stack of thank you cards he needs to write after his endorsements coming in, in the recent days. One of them should be for Elizabeth Warren for those two debate performances in which she just ripped into Bloomberg at the time when he was spending money and starting to rise up in the polls.
I want to go back to Cambridge now. CNN's MJ Lee was there for this and has spent a considerable time on the road covering Senator Warren. I was just struck by how candid she was. Again, most politicians find some way to spin their way out of it. She said, I had a theory of the race, I was wrong.
MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, you know, this press conference that she just finished up outside of her house sort of had the feel of almost a sendoff, right? She and her husband and her dog came out and outside were not only reporters but clearly some supporters as well. And her senior, most staff or closest aides were also there to show her support.
But I definitely agree with you that we did see a very candid and frank and open and reflective Senator Warren here. Clearly, she is in this position now holding this press conference because her presidential campaign did not go well. But one of the things that she shared that was a little more poignant was when she said yesterday she walked into the voting booth here in Massachusetts and she said she saw her name as she was voting for herself, and the thought that she had and the thing that she told herself was, you've done good, kiddo. She said she thought about her background being from Oklahoma and sort of what her family might make of all of this, the fact that she had become a serious contender for the presidency.
So, these are obviously going to be, in the coming days, not only days of sort of reflecting on the political strategy and what went wrong, what she could have done better for this campaign. But I think also just a moment, clearly a personal reflection.
You know, she talked about the fact that she has this tradition when she meets little girls on the campaign trail, she will always get down on one knee and do a pinky promise and say, I'm running for president because that's what girls do. She told reporters here that that pinky promise means something to her and that she really does feel like this campaign will have a lasting impact.
KING: That's an interesting point on that as we come back in the room. She said she would continue to have the conversation about what a president should look like.
BURNS: I think that was clearly essential theme of this entire campaign, and really not just for Elizabeth Warren, right? This is the first time in American history when we've had multiple major female candidates seeking one party's nomination, the first time we've had a major female candidate for the Democrat nomination who wasn't married to a former president.
And that clearly resonated with a lot of women of a lot of different ages in a way that, you know, I don't recall hearing as much with Hillary Clinton four years ago, right.
That her nomination was obviously an enormous event in American history. You did not hear quite so many young women talking about seeing themselves in Hillary Clinton's position as you have heard over the last year with Senator Warren and I would say especially also Senator Harris.
HABERMAN: It's talking about sexism without actually explicitly talking about those. She talked very clearly about I was told there's these two lanes and here are these two men, and it turned out at the end of the day that that was true. And I thought that was as blunt as we have heard her describe sexism in this race, different obviously than Kamala Harris was talking about earlier today. But I think just the clearest starkest realization that she was putting out there.
And I think there were other reasons why her candidacy struggled, right? It isn't just because there were these two men there, but at the end of the day, it is striking that that is how it began and that is where it ends. JONES: I think it's interesting that she used -- some of her first few words to talk about having changed the notion in some people's minds and what a president could look like. But you all notice she didn't bite when asked about the role of gender fight. It was clear she didn't want to focus so much on what went wrong today and focus instead on what her message was.
And to that point, she's been the one who has the plans and she talked about the two percent wealth tax, she talked about affordable child care or healthcare, student loans.
And I think one of the questions going forward is going to be, how does someone like Joe Biden try to start talking more about some of those ideas, some of those policy plans, maybe not exactly as someone like Warren or Sanders laid out, but if he is going to try to begin to get some of those voters, he's going to have to start talking about some of those plans that real people are worried about.
KING: To connect the personal to the policy, if you will, which she became. She got much better at it throughout the campaign. Ultimately didn't succeed, but she -- if you look at Warren at her day one and Warren in the end, she's a different candidate.
Quickly before we go, she says not right now about endorsing. Does it matter in terms of leverage in the calendar? Washington state is one of the states up next Tuesday. She had spent considerable time there. She thought she could do well there, it's a progressive state.
Michigan, maybe some blue collar appeal. I guess we don't have time for it, I'm being told. But we will watch as this plays out. I want to keep going but, you know, there's this thing called the clock. Brianna Keilar would get mad at me.
Thanks for joining us on the INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. We're waiting for the Senate to vote on that big coronavirus emergency funding bill.
Brianna Keilar takes over that coverage after a very quick break. Have a good day.