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The Lead with Jake Tapper

One-on-One with Biden; Biden Reaching Out to Blue Collar Voters in Battleground States. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our 2020 lead: Senator Bernie Sanders once told me that Joe Biden would have a tough time defending his record on trade, because it's had such a negative impact on the Midwest, deals such as NAFTA, normalizing trade relations with China.

So, while Biden was touring Michigan, making his pitch to blue-collar voters, I asked him about exactly that.


TAPPER: Let's turn to the 2020 race, and specifically the fact that we're in Macomb County, Michigan, right now.

This is a county that President Obama and you carried twice, and then President Trump carried by 12 percentage points in 2016.

You're a son of Scranton. You're somebody who likes to talk about working class, the middle class. Why do you think so many of these folks turned against the Democratic Party in 2016?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, look, I think, number one, a lot of it was taken for granted.

When we were in, I spent a lot of in Macomb County, a lot of time in Detroit. I was given the responsibility of getting it out of its bankruptcy and getting it on its feet. I was the guy that was asked, in the Recovery Act, to make sure we made sure we were in a situation where we saved General Motors and Chrysler.

I come from Claymont. You know Claymont. You're a Philly guy. Claymont's a working-class neighborhood. It used to be -- have 6,000 steelworkers in Claymont. It shut down, Worth Steel.

But the point is that I think it was the feeling that they were taken for granted. I don't know that for a fact. And I think that he used that dog whistle on race. Now it's a bullhorn.

And I think that -- look, the neighbors I come from, and I think, presumptuously to say, you come from, people don't want a handout. They just want a fighting chance: Just give me a shot. I have been looking for a shot.

And the effect of everything he has done has decimated them. I mean, right here in this county, in this state, they're down 5,000 manufacturing jobs since he became president.

We're in a situation where it's hard as hell to figure how you get your kid to school, because he won't do anything in terms of helping states that are going bankrupt to be in a position to be able to open schools safely.

I mean, just across the board -- and it's like when the carny show comes through town the first time, and there's no pea under any of the three shells. Second times it comes around, people kind of figure out.

I think that I have -- I have won all of my races with the core of my support being a combination of the African-America community and working-class blue-collar guys. And I think that it's a matter of saying, look, I see you. I understand the problem.

These are the people having a discussion today at the kitchen table was, look, I know your tires are bald on your car, honey, but we can't afford to get four new tires.

Well, who's going to tell her she can't go back to school this year? Who's going to tell her we just can't afford to do this? Who is going -- I mean, these are discussions people had around our kitchen table, around the neighborhoods we grew up in.


BIDEN: And I don't think we paid nearly enough attention to it, nearly enough attention.

TAPPER: Don't you think that one of the reasons why President Trump has been able to appeal to the blue-collar workers that you talk about is because of his message on trade?

And that message is, Washington, D.C., and Wall Street have sold you out, the trade deals have been about helping them, helping their bottom line, helping politicians, but not about you?

And he pointed to NAFTA, which you supported. He pointed to most favored nation status for China, which you supported. There are other factors too, of course, automation.



TAPPER: But the idea, the pitch that too many of these trade deals screwed you.

BIDEN: And then look what he did.

Look what his tax cut did, the multibillion-dollar, trillion-dollar tax cut that went mainly to the very wealthy and to corporate America. What did it do? They got a reward for offshoring jobs. They got a reward for taking.

So, you had 7,000 jobs right off the bat go abroad. America -- these are contracts that the federal government gives to contractors to do things for the federal government or for the community.

And what happens? They get a break if they go abroad. Their taxes get cut.

That why I was out here today talking about two things. One, if you're going to offshore jobs with federal contracts, offshore jobs, you're going to get a 10 percent penalty for those jobs you send overseas, because what happens?

You send it overseas, because there's a supplier that makes the product cheaper. You bring it back. You get a benefit, a tax break for it.

And where does it go? It doesn't go to the employees, by the way, even when it occurs. It goes into the pockets of the CEOs and/or to buy back their stock, to raise the value of their stock.

And so what I'm insisting on -- and I will get it passed -- that is a 10 percent surtax on you, if you ship, for every job you ship overseas, for anything that comes back, and, secondly, making sure that, if you invest in America, you refurbish a plant, you build a new plant here, we will provide you a 10 percent advance on the cost of doing that, encourage people to come back and build here in America, because we've had this buy America provision, America first provision, buy America, for over almost 100 years.

It's never been -- it's never been moved. And we -- now we have the highest trade deficit we've had in modern history.

TAPPER: So, you asked, and what did he do after he got elected?

And you brought up the tax bill. Something else he did is, he renegotiated NAFTA.

BIDEN: He did.

TAPPER: He renegotiated NAFTA.

Now, when you ran for president, and when Barack Obama ran for president, you both said you would renegotiate NAFTA. You didn't. He did. Nancy Pelosi said that the USMCA, which President Trump signed into law, is a -- quote -- "victory for America's workers."

Does he deserve credit for that?

BIDEN: No, I think -- remember, he didn't -- he wasn't the one that pushed that particular one that passed.

The House amended the bill, amended the bill, so he couldn't...

TAPPER: He signed it.

BIDEN: No, that was a big deal, though.

Here's what he -- they amended. He was giving pharma a way out, giving them a gigantic break, just like he's doing now with pharma. If you -- they are building plants overseas and getting tax breaks for

it. That's what it was about with him.

TAPPER: All right.

BIDEN: And they said, no, no, we're not going to do that. We're not going to...

TAPPER: But he renegotiated NAFTA, and you didn't, is the point. I mean...

BIDEN: Because we had a Republican Congress that wouldn't go along with us renegotiating it.

TAPPER: But doesn't he deserve some credit for that?

It's better. The USMCA is better than NAFTA.

BIDEN: It is better than NAFTA, but look what the overall trade policy has done, even with NAFTA.

We now have this gigantic deficit in trade with Mexico, not because NAFTA wasn't made better, because his overall trade policy and how he deals with it made everything worse.

TAPPER: I guess my only point is, I'm a blue-collar guy sitting in Macomb County, Michigan, if I were that person.


TAPPER: And I'm sitting here listening to your pitch, and I'm thinking, I like what he has to say, but he's part of the establishment that's been selling my jobs down the river. He supported NAFTA. He supported most favored nation status for China.

And Trump did renegotiate NAFTA, and Obama and Biden didn't.

BIDEN: Well, I will tell you what we did do. We inherited the greatest recession short of the Depression. The president put me in charge of that to do something about it.

In the process of that, I was the one who was given responsibility to make sure General Motors and Chrysler didn't go bankrupt. And so we made sure they didn't, brought 80,000 jobs here to Michigan and to the automobile industry; 80,000 good-paying jobs came back. He's lost 50,000 of those jobs since he's been president.

The fact of the matter is, NAFTA was not a deal that was sold. When Bush said they were going to have enforcement mechanisms in NAFTA, they didn't do it. That's why, after it passed, and he did not insist on that, I was against NAFTA and we tried to begin to change it, because it didn't keep the deal that was made. There was not -- the enforcement mechanisms were abandoned.

And so -- but, look, here's what else he's doing. We're talking about trade -- what has he done with trade to give -- to create more jobs in the United States? What's happened with his trade policy?


Look what he's done with China. It's a disgrace. What he's done, he's allowed the -- corporate America to be able to make money by continuing to export American jobs. It's not made in America. Make it in another place.

For example, those -- those carry bags that the military are using, they're supposed to be made -- and they are being deployed -- made in America. They're made in China. They're made in China. He doesn't do anything about any of that.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about China, because, in 2011, when you were vice president, you said -- quote -- "It is in our self-interest that China continue to prosper."

A lot of people think that allowing China into the World Trade Organization, which you supported, extending most favored nation status to China, which you supported, that those steps allowed China to take advantage of the United States by using our own open trade deals against us.


TAPPER: Do you think, in retrospect, that you were naive about China?


Here's the thing. In the context of that, we wanted China to grow. We don't want to have a war with China.

I said to Xi Jinping when I was -- I -- you may remember, the president wanted me to spend time with him as vice president. He was going to be president. And he couldn't do it. So I traveled around the world with him.

He asked. He said: "Why do you keep saying you're a Pacific power?"

I said: "Because we are. We are a Pacific power. and if we weren't, you would not have been able to have any stability at all."

It's in our interest that China be stable. It's not in our interest for China to take advantage of us, not in our interest to take advantage.

So, what has Trump done? He's poked his finger in the eye of all our friends and allies, and he's embraced every autocrat in the world.

And it's now -- we make up 15 percent of the world's economy -- 25 percent of the world's economy, and we have lost all our friends. We've lost all our friends.

The way to keep China in line is to make two things clear. One, we're going to insist -- we're going to play by international rules. So, when Xi Jinping said to me, we're going to make sure we have these

air identification zones you can't fly through, I said, no, no that's not true. They are in international airspace. He said, what are you going to do about it? I said, we're going to fly through it.

So, we flew our bombers through it, flew our jets through it -- through it. Same way with what we did in terms of taking a significant portion of the Navy, 60 percent, and getting it into Asia to make sure they could not control those sea lanes, which they were doing.

What has Trump done? He's done nothing about it. He's done nothing about it. And what has he done with regard to our friends like Japan and other -- and South Korea? He's made some cockamamie deal to his good friend, sending love letters to Kim Jung-un.

I mean, what in God's -- I mean, to Kim in South -- I mean, in North Korea. What in God's name is that all about? He gave him legitimacy.

We had firm, firm constraints on what they could buy and what they could sell in their economies. He's blown it. He's giving them so much credibility. They're closer to a nuclear weapon than they were before. He did the same thing in Iran.

I mean, this America first has made America alone.


TAPPER: Coming up next: the age factor.

I asked Joe Biden about his own health, knowing that he could be the oldest person ever elected.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our exclusive interview with Joe Biden.

The Democratic presidential nominee unveiled a new tax policy in Michigan to try to keep American jobs in the United States, while blaming President Trump's handling of the pandemic for the nation's plunge into a recession.

I asked Biden whether his plan to raise taxes on businesses and wealthier individuals would undermine the coronavirus economic recovery.


TAPPER: You vowed to undo President Trump's tax cuts...


TAPPER: ... and increase taxes on businesses and high-income individuals. The Urban Institute and Brookings say it will be by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

I have to ask you, though, about the timing of this, because, obviously, right now, the economy is seriously struggling because of the pandemic. The U.S. has 11 million fewer jobs now than we did in February.

When would you raise these taxes?

BIDEN: What I'm talking about is, no one making under $400,000 a year will pay a single increase in taxes. I have a list here of the taxes we're going to change to make sure that everybody pays their fair share.

And you realize there's 19 of the Fortune 500 companies that don't pay a single penny in tax, not one single penny in taxes?

Now, people making, in the top 1 -- by the time the tax cut, the 10 years runs out, middle-class taxes are going to go up even higher under Trump's tax bill, and the wealthy are going to get even more wealthy.

And I'm not trying to punish anybody, but they should pay...

TAPPER: No, I get it, but when would you make these changes, is my point? Because the economy is in a bad state right now.

You wouldn't -- I mean, would you wait for unemployment to go under 2 percent?

BIDEN: No, no, no, no, I'd make the changes on the corporate taxes on day one.

And the reason I'd make the changes on corporate taxes, it can raise $1.3 trillion, if they just start paying at 28 percent, instead of 21 percent.

And what are they doing? They're not hiring more people. What are they doing? They're buying back their own stock. It used to be that the -- something like the average corporate employee relative to CEO made 1 to 35 -- $1 to $35 the CEO made. Now it's $1 to $400-and-something.


What happened? They're not expanding. What are they doing? They're contracting. But they're getting wealthier and wealthier and wealthier.

Stockholders are making more money, because what you do, they go out and buy back their own stock. They bought back over $1 trillion of their own stock, raising the price of the stock. That's it, not hiring anybody else, not expanding the business, not investing in new enterprises. We've got to get people investing.

And so the idea that we take that money and put it into new investments in manufacturing, in education, in health care, I mean, these are things that matter to middle-class families. TAPPER: One last question for you, sir.

If you're elected, you would be the oldest president ever. And I know you have said it's fair for anybody to ask questions about anybody over 70 and their health.

The American people have been lied to before by presidents about the president's health, FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan. We don't know still what happened with Donald Trump and his visit to Walter Reed last year.

Will you pledge that, if you're elected, you will be transparent about your health...


TAPPER: ... all facets of your health, with urgency, so that we know...

BIDEN: Yes, when it occurs, when anything occurs. And anything can happen. Anything can happen.

That's what I did. I laid out my health records in more detail, pages and pages of it, when I became vice president. I laid it all out, everything, my entire background relating to my health.

I have laid out my health records in terms of this time around and the investigations in my health made when I was in the -- at Walter Reed, in terms of -- by Walter Reed docs, by my docs right now. And, thank God, I am in good health.

But here's the deal. Anything can happen. I have become a great respecter of fate, a great respecter of fate. I have seen too much of it in my family related to accidents alone.

And so I guarantee you, I guarantee you, I will be totally transparent in terms of my health and all aspects of my health.

And when it comes to Donald Trump vs. me, just look at us, OK? Just look at us. Who seems to be in shape? Who's able to move around? Who is -- I mean this idea of, you know, slow Joe.


BIDEN: I -- anyway, I shouldn't laugh about it, because -- anyway, Donald Trump -- just look at us both, watch us, and determine whether or not you think I'm misleading anyone, not you, personally, but the public.

Look at me. Judge me based on -- I know what the job takes. I have sat for hundreds of hours in the Situation Room. For eight years, I was vice president, on every major decision. I know how difficult the job is.

And one more thing I will do, I will take responsibility. I will acknowledge my mistakes when I make them. And I will level with the American people. TAPPER: Thanks for your time, Mr. Vice President. Appreciate it.

BIDEN: Thank you.


TAPPER: Coming up next: the urgent changes for some students due to the coronavirus pandemic, as a South Carolina school deals with the death of a third grade teacher.



TAPPER: In our health lead: A 28-year-old school teacher died from coronavirus just three days, three days, after being diagnosed.

CNN's Athena Jones has her story and the latest on the race for a vaccine.


DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: And, in that sense, this is not a race.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stern reality check today from one of the World Health Organization's top scientists: Finding a coronavirus vaccine is going to take time.

RYAN: It is a race. It's a race against this virus. And it's a race to save lives. It's not a race between companies. It's not a race between countries.

JONES: But a new poll shows the majority of Americans believe political pressure will impact the approval of a vaccine, the Kaiser Family Foundation finding 62 percent worry it will, while just 36 percent say they're not worried.

DR. SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We have to remember that clinical trials take time. We cannot rush them.

JONES: And after its phase three clinical vaccine trial was paused for a second time in three months. AstraZeneca won't confirm news reports and a claim by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins that it was due to a spinal cord problem in a volunteer, saying, more tests are needed.

SWAMINATHAN: There are ups and downs in clinical development. And we have to be prepared for those.

JONES: Meanwhile, the majority of the country appears to be on the right track, still, the White House Task Force expressing new concerns about surges and states like Missouri and Pennsylvania, calling for intensified mitigation efforts.

And daily deaths nationwide topped 1,200 Wednesday, after several days of declines, Idaho, Kansas and Puerto Rico setting records. DR. HAROLD KOH, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: As our country we're still trying to run down a rising escalator of disease.

JONES: But there is good news in some places, some indoor dining set to begin again September 30 in New York City, with precautions.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We have to get it right.

JONES: And the NFL is back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is everybody looking for right now out there, but just joy and hope, something -- something to cling on to. And so this is the perfect time for the Chiefs.

JONES: The season kicking off tonight with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans, with a limited number of fans allowed in the stadium.

But in a cautionary note about returning to normal too quickly, after thousands of K-12 teachers and students have been forced to quarantine since schools reopened for in-person learning, a 28-year-old third- grade teacher in South Carolina who had been teaching remotely died on Monday from COVID, after testing positive just three days earlier.


JONES: And in another sign that not everyone is getting the message about wearing masks and keeping their distance from others, the University of Central Florida has had to place one entire class under quarantine after a student -- after it was reported that a student tested positive for COVID-19 and attended a class where face coverings were not worn the entire time.

And the faculty member moved the tables closer, and the classroom ate together -- Jake.

TAPPER: Athena Jones, thank you so much.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I will see you tomorrow.