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Sanders Holds Leads in California; Alabama Man to be Executed for Murders He Didn't' Commit; Looking at the 2020 Democratic Race. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 5, 2020 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The vote still being counted in California, and they will for some days hence. Senator Bernie Sanders is in the lead right now. Well, former Vice President Joe Biden is on top of the overall delegate race.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is co-chair of the Bernie Sanders Campaign.

Congressman Khanna, it's always great to have you on. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): John, it's always a pleasure.

BERMAN: You and I have had this discussion once before. Bernie Sanders, the foundation of his campaign, is the ability to reach younger voters. But not just reach them, to increase their numbers, to draw them in, to build the movement. And one of the things that hasn't happened yet, and Senator Sanders admitted this and that it's a source of disappointment, it hasn't happened yet in this campaign.

We can just throw up some numbers here. If you look at Super Tuesday, at some of these states, the percent change in younger voters -- that's a different graphic than I'm looking for. In Alabama, down four points. North Carolina down four points, Tennessee down four points, Virginia down three points, Vermont down four points. The percentage of Democratic voters ages 17 to 29 is actually going down in these states.

Do you have any answer to why?

KHANNA: We need to do better. And we need to do better not just for Senator Sanders, but for the Democratic Party to beat Donald Trump because we need increased turnout, not just in the suburban communities, as we saw in Virginia, to defeat Donald Trump, we need to get young folks out to be able to match his turnout.

I'm hopeful California will show that we were able to do that. We've invested extraordinarily in infrastructure and organizing. But we have to go to the drawing board and see what we can do because I agree that the numbers haven't born that out.

BERMAN: You know, in Virginia, though, there was expanded turnout. I don't have the statistic here, but something like a 70 percent greater turnout overall in Virginia from 2016. It's just that the percentage of younger voters is actually down. So there is some evidence that Joe Biden was able to turn out people to support him. Maybe not younger people, but people who vote.

KHANNA: And I think that's fantastic that the turnout increased in Virginia. I mean even if some of those individuals supported Joe Biden. I mean that's what helped us take back the House. We're going to need that increased turnout.

But it's important to realize it's not an either/or. Just having higher turnouts in the suburbs and in places like Virginia is not going to be enough. I mean Donald Trump's whole campaign is going to be massive turnout in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan. We also need to get increased turnout among young people.

We have made the infrastructure investments. We're hopeful when it comes to a general election that will happen. But, you're right, we have to do better.

BERMAN: You talk about not an earth/or. Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the things that he consistently talks about is the establishment and says that Joe Biden has the support of the establishment. There would be those who suggest that Bernie Sanders will need some of that support, too, if he wants to be the nominee. But the former vice president responded to that line of criticism from the senator this morning.

Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said Joe is running a campaign which is obviously heavily supported by the corporate establishment. What do you think about that argument?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. Bernie, you got beaten by overwhelming support I had 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.


BERMAN: What do you think of the vice president's argument?

KHANNA: Look, I served in the Obama administration with the vice president. The point is the policies. We are supporting Medicare for all. We are supporting free public college. We're supporting a massive infrastructure bill. We're against trade policies. And the concern is not with the democratic party. I mean I have tremendous admiration, as does Senator Sanders, from everyone from FDR to Obama. The concern is with the special interests, with the insurance industry, with the pharmaceutical industry that are blocking progressive progress.


BERMAN: Look at the map for me going forward, if you will. Next week you have Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi. After that there's Florida and other states. Where are the targets of opportunity for the Sanders campaign?

KHANNA: We're going to do very well next week in Washington. I think we'll do well in North Dakota. We're going to win Democrats abroad, which is about 21 delegates. And Michigan is going to be very competitive. We won it in 2016. And we're organized there. So we're going to come out of next week in strong position.

And, John, as you know, this is a delegate game. We still have more delegates to be counted in California.


KHANNA: So I'm confident that we have a path to being in the lead once all the delegates are counted at the end of this process.

BERMAN: Look, I think there's no question that there is a path. I think anyone who calls this race over now is just as wrong as people who called this race over a week ago or two weeks ago. So much real estate ahead.

You mentioned that you worked in the Obama administration. So you will have an insight as to what makes this ad that Bernie Sanders has started to run most interesting.

Let's play a little bit of this.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think people are ready for a call to action. They want honest leadership who cares about them. They want somebody who's going to fight for them. And they will find it in Bernie. That's right, feel the Bern!


BERMAN: So, let me ask the question this way, Congressman, who do you think has a closer relationship with Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden?

KHANNA: Of course Joe Biden. But let me tell you, Bernie Sanders has a closer relationship with Barack Obama than Michael Bloomberg did. It looks like any candidate who is running --

BERMAN: That's relative --

KHANNA: Took any nice thing that Barack Obama said about them --

BERMAN: Everything's relative though. KHANNA: But I -- I wish Barack Obama had said some nice things about me. I mean I -- you know, I mean just every candidate has done this and I think this is just a sign of respect for President Obama that Bernie Sanders understands his extraordinary contributions and wants to make sure people know that he wants to build on the legacy.

BERMAN: He did -- Bernie Sanders did call for a progressive opponent to Barack Obama to primary him in 2012. I am curious as to what advantage you think that Senator Sanders gets out of running that ad? Why does the campaign want to send that message right now?

KHANNA: The message is that Senator Sanders and many of us who are supporting him are extraordinarily proud of President Obama. We believe, actually, he was a transformational figure. He was the progressive. Remember, he ran against the war. He ran in a way as an insurgent. He wasn't expected to win. And we believe that Senator Sanders is actually carrying on the progressive movement that Barack Obama started. And he's using Barack Obama's tools of organizing. So I think this is saying, I, too, can and will carry on and build on President Obama's legacy. It's in no way implying that the vice president isn't close to President Obama.

BERMAN: Congressman Ro Khanna, we appreciate you being with us. I know you also represent Silicon Valley, so I know you've been thinking a lot about coronavirus and possible implications out there too. Next time we'll get a chance to talk about that.

We do appreciate all your time this morning.

KHANNA: Appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.

BERMAN: All right, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, now to this story that's getting so much attention. Alabama's governor has just hours left to step in and stop the execution of a man convicted of murders that he did not commit. We explain in that story, next.



BERMAN: An Alabama man convicted of killing three police officers is lending his voice to defenders of Nathaniel Woods, a co-defendant who is scheduled to be executed.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Montgomery with the very latest on this.

And, Martin, it is interesting because there's broad agreement about some of the contours of this case, correct?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. In fact, there's one point at which everyone agrees. Tens of thousands of people have now signed an online petition appealing to the governor of Alabama asking for clemency in the case of Nathaniel Woods. Perhaps the most outspoken voice is that of the son of Dr. Martin

Luther King Jr., Martin Luther King III, who wrote a letter to Governor Ivey and said, in part, under your watch, Alabama is about to produce yet another tragic injustice.


SAVIDGE (voice over): It's a fact no one disputes. Alabama is about to execute 44-year-old Nathaniel Woods for the murders of three police officers he did not kill.

June 17, 2004, three Birmingham police officers are gunned down attempting to serve a misdemeanor warrant on Woods at a home in the city's west side. Woods had surrendered to police when another man in the house, Kerry Spencer, opened fire with an assault rifle, killing Officers Charles Bennett, Carlos Owen and Harley Chisholm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never in my life have I ever imagined going to three funerals in two days and feeling the pain and the hurt that we've all experienced.

SAVIDGE: The shocking murders left a city grieving. Spencer confessed to the shootings and said soon after his arrest that he had acted alone. He was convicted of the murders and sits on Alabama's death row. But for prosecutors, one conviction wasn't enough. They charged Woods with three counts of capital murder, accusing him of conspiring or being complicit in the killing of the officers.

LAUREN FARAINO, NATHANIEL WOODS' ATTORNEY: In order for a person to be convicted on complicity, they have to be involved in a plan or a scheme to kill.

SAVIDGE: Prosecutors alleged a calculating Woods intentionally lured the officers into the home where Spencer was waiting.

FARAINO: Absolutely not. He was terrified when they came into the house.

SAVIDGE: Woods was found guilty. And even though he hadn't fired a single shot, he was sentenced to death.

PAMELA WOODS, NATHANIEL WOODS' SISTER: He thought it was the craziest thing in the world. He was just like, how? How? Because, you know, he didn't do anything wrong.

SAVIDGE (on camera): How much do you think race played a role in this case?

FARAINO: I think it did play a role. I mean I think that if you look at the victims, it's three white officers. And if you look at the people who are sitting on death row, it's two black men.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Woods' current defense team says his conviction was just one of many legal wrongs, including years of bungled appeals by other attorneys.


Now down to his final hours, Woods' family believes their only hope is for the public to convince Alabama's governor that killing a man who killed no one is wrong.

WOODS: I love my brother. People need to know about this.

SAVIDGE: We wanted to know what the families of the murdered police officers thought of Woods. We reached two of them who said they either couldn't or wouldn't talk to us. But in a local radio interview last year, the granddaughter of Officer Carlos Owen reflected on his loss and the hole it's left in all their lives.

EMMA OWEN, CARLOS OWEN'S GRANDDAUGHTER: I remember how special he used to make each of his grandkids feel. That was something that he was so good at, making others feel loved and special.

SAVIDGE (on camera): What would you say to the families of the officers who died?

FARAINO: We are deeply, deeply sorry for what happened that day, but the murderer of their family members is sitting on death row. He has confessed. He is being punished. They don't need an innocent man's blood as well.


SAVIDGE: Last night I received a telephone call from Alabama's death row. It was Kerry Spencer, the man who's confessed to killing all three police officers. He wanted to express again that Nathaniel Woods, he said, had nothing to do with this. He did not co-conspire with this murder suspect. He says that Woods is 100 percent innocent here. The wrong man is going to die. Right now, that execution is slated for 6:00 local, 7:00 Eastern Time this evening.


CAMEROTA: Martin, what a powerful phone call and information that he imparted to you again. We will see what the governor there does. Thank you so much for your reporting.

So what's next in the Democratic race? We'll talk to a man who has lived this roller coaster ride. "The Bottom Line" with Howard Dean, next.



CAMEROTA: So much has happened in the last week in the Democratic race, and it is far from over. Voters will head to the polls in six states in Super Tuesday number two. You heard me, there's a Super Tuesday number two.

BERMAN: But this time it's personal.

CAMEROTA: The musical. And that's next week.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with Howard Dean. He's the former DNC chairman, of course, the former Vermont governor and former Democratic presidential candidate himself.

Governor, great to see you.

Do you agree that this is far from over, or do you think the die is cast already in some way?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is far from over, although we may know what's going to happen in another week. We'll see. If Biden has a repeat performance on Tuesday, then it is essentially over. But there's no guarantee he will.

Bernie, I'm sure, is very, very strong in Washington. It was one of my strongest states. So we don't know yet.

It felt like people had made a decision. The voters had made a decision. But, you know, we have not chosen -- we've barely chosen a third of the delegates. So we've got a long way to go.

BERMAN: How surprised were you on a scale from one to 10?

DEAN: About a nine.

BERMAN: That's pretty high.

DEAN: I was -- you know, I've been in these races. This is my 11th race as a delegate or a participant or whatever. And I've never seen anything like this. Within the space of ten days, the voters spoke.

But, again, it's not over yet. There's only 60 delegates separating the two of them, and we've got some big, big states yet to come.

BERMAN: You know --

DEAN: And people have -- so people have a chance at a second thought and changing their mind here.

BERMAN: There are people who did compare this to 2004 when all of a sudden, you know, John Kerry won Iowa and New Hampshire and then, poof, you know, poof, it was all over. That, of course, is something you lived through. Do you see any similarities between that and --

DEAN: There -- you know, I originally resisted that idea, but now I'm beginning to think there were some. You had an insurgent candidate, which was me, who was essentially running against the Democratic Party, although I didn't realize that at the time. I was saying that they shouldn't be in the war. They all voted for it. I was saying they shouldn't have raised the -- I mean giving the people -- the billionaires a big tax cut. They all voted for it.

But what happened was, in my opinion -- first of all, we weren't that well organized, which is not true with Bernie. And, second of all, I think people were worried -- really worried about electability. At the end of the day, they thought Kerry would be a better choice, which turned out not to be the case, although it was a very, very close race and for half a million votes in Ohio, it could have gone the other way.

CAMEROTA: Well, given all of that, who do you think has a better chance of beating President Trump, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden?

DEAN: Well, I -- first of all, I have no idea. Second of all, I'm neutral because I'm doing a huge data project for whoever the winner ends up being. But I'm very comfortable letting the voters decide this. I am shocked at how fast it's gone. But I'm very sanguine about this. I've been in this business for so long that I just figure most of the time the voters get it right.

BERMAN: You brought up data. And that brings me to Michael Bloomberg here, who got out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden yesterday. What is it that you think that Michael -- I think people have a misconception that Michael Bloomberg can go run $30 billion worth of ads and all of a sudden bank roll the Joe Biden campaign. It doesn't exactly work like that.

DEAN: Right.

BERMAN: So a lot of people I hear from are saying that what Bloomberg should do is data. Really, really work with the data in ways that would help the Biden campaign.

DEAN: He has the best data operation in the country. We are very much in touch with what's going -- what he's doing. It's extraordinary. They're getting a billion pieces of information an hour that are going to be helpful to us. So we expect very good cooperation with the Bloomberg folks.

CAMEROTA: What do you think Senator Warren should do today?

DEAN: I don't -- that's up to her. And, you know, having been in that position, she could do one of two things. She could stay in and kind of try to be a mollifying force at the convention between the two lead candidates, or she can drop out or she can endorse somebody or not. I did not -- when I dropped out after Wisconsin, I did not endorse anybody for about a month.


One of the reasons I didn't do it is, it's easier for the candidate to make the endorsement of somebody who's beat them than it is for the supporters. And so you -- it took me about a month to get my supporters to think about voting for John Kerry. It's just, you know, these -- this is -- these are -- you know, politics is a substitute for war, right? So it's very tribal. And people were very angry. And it takes a while to get through that.

BERMAN: War is the continuation of politics by other means.

DEAN: Clausewitz.

BERMAN: That's -- it's all about Clausewitz, so --

DEAN: That's right.

BERMAN: But I get your point.

Governor Dean, it's great to have you on this morning. Thanks so much for being with us. I think it's striking that you're a nine out of 10 for surprise on Super Tuesday --

CAMEROTA: Because it doesn't go to 11.

BERMAN: Because it -- yes.

CAMEROTA: So it's very close.

BERMAN: But from a guy who's been through it before, that's a pretty high number.

CAMEROTA: That's true.

BERMAN: All right, there is a new case of coronavirus involving a cruise ship. There's this ship off of San Francisco right now. It is not being allowed to dock. There are serious questions about what happens with the 2,000 people on board. Test kits being airlifted out there today. All kinds of developments. CNN's coverage continues right after this.