Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Covers The Second GOP Debate In The 2024 Presidential Race. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 27, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: We have analysis of the second GOP presidential debate. It starts right now with Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash. I'll see you in just a few minutes.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Abby, thanks so much. I know you've been making you way over here. We'll get a seat save for you.
Our special report tonight, seven Republicans aiming to follow in Ronald Reagan's footsteps in the closing moments of their second debate of the republican primary in the space bearing his name surrounded by pieces of his legacy, including the 707 that was Air Force One at the time. Good evening from New York.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And good evening from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley just outside Los Angeles. This, as the name suggests, dedicated to preserving the history of the 40th president's term in office. But it was the 45th president and current Republican frontrunner who took center stage by his absence.
COOPER: The former president was in Michigan tonight, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pointed that out. He also tried to do what he and the other six had been grappling with without much success so far, namely how to set themselves apart from the former president without also alienating his supporters.
We're going to take that up in our coverage tonight, speak with some of the candidates as well as Iowa voters who watched the debate tonight and some who also watched the first one.
I want to start though with one of the key moments from tonight, candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who was vocal in the first debate, continuing in that vein tonight, including in this class with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who was reacting to the answer he gave when asked why he joined TikTok despite it being banned on government-issued devices because of its ties to China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is infuriating because TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps --
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it is.
HALEY: -- that we can have. And what you've got, I honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say --
HALEY: -- because I can't believe --
RAMASWAMY: You know --
HALEY: -- TikTok situation. What they're doing is these -- 150 million people are on TikTok. That means they can get your contacts, they can get your financial information, they can get your emails, they can --
RAMASWAMY: Let me just say --
HALEY: -- text messages, they can get all of these things.
RAMASWAMY: This is important. This is very important for our party.
HALEY: China knows exactly what they are doing.
RAMASWAMY: This is very important for our party, and I'm going to say it.
HALEY: And what we've seen is you've gone and you helped China build -- make medicines, in China not America.
RAMASWAMY: Excuse me. Excuse me.
HALEY: You're not wanting kids to go and get on this social media that is dangerous for all of us. You and you were in business with the Chinese that gave Hunter Biden $5 million. We can't trust you. We can't trust you.
RAMASWAMY: So, let me -- let me say something.
HALEY: We can't have TikTok in our kids' lives.
RAMASWAMY: I think that --
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Mr. Ramaswamy, you have 15 seconds.
RAMASWAMY: I think -- excuse me.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): You have 15 seconds, Mr. Ramaswamy.
RAMASWAMY: Thank you. I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we're not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, certainly, a lot to talk about, and here to do it, CNN anchor and senior political correspondent Abby Phillip, CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod, CNN chief national correspondent John King, also CNN political commentators Alyssa Farah Griffin, David Urban, and Scott Jennings.
Um, John King, what'd you make of it all?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was feisty. Uh, the big question, the fundamental question is, if Donald Trump is ahead by roughly 30 points in Iowa and roughly 30 points in New Hampshire, did this change anything?
You could see the DeSantis-Haley exchanges. They're both in second place right now. They had a little bit of go at it, trying to be the primary second place candidate.
I think if you like a candidate, everybody maybe had a moment. But does it fundamentally change anything? My answer is no. I'd be interested in what the Republicans who do this for a living do at it.
There's another one in 40 days, the third debate. Then there's going to be a lot of pressure to shrink this field, because if you have six or seven candidates and Donald Trump, Donald Trump wins, period.
COOPER: David Axelrod, Nikki Haley was definitely trying to kind of repeat the success she had had the first time in taking on Vivek Ramaswamy or Ron DeSantis.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and also, she got into it with Tim Scott, and maybe at the end in a way that wasn't particularly helpful to either of them.
But look, my fundamental view in this debate is that several people who didn't do well last time did better, including Ron DeSantis, who I think probably was far better served by this debate than the last one.
But Tim Scott, who was almost vacant from the last debate, was much more aggressive here. Even Governor Burgum jumped in here with a few good answers. And all of this, it seems to me, helps Donald Trump, because rather than creating clarity, it creates more of a muddle for voters.
So -- and -- by the way, you know, for all the random shots at Trump, you know, they went right for the capillary, not the jugular. And he basically got away again with any serious damage -- without any serious damage. I think this was a good night for Donald Trump in the end.
PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it was like a fight for second or third or fourth place among a bunch of people. It wasn't -- I mean, sure, some people had some moments.
Nikki Haley had a lot of good, strong moments that really made her stand out. But they're fighting for the bottom of the race right now, and that's really not what's called for when the frontrunner is leading by how much he's leading by.
Um, I kind of had a different view of the DeSantis of it all, frankly. I thought he sort of was okay. He kind of faded into the background, especially the first half of the debate. I was sort of like, where is he? I mean, he didn't speak even for about the first 15 minutes. He was in the center of the debate stage. I checked my clock after about 40 minutes, he'd only spoken about twice. And he got --
AXELROD: At the end, he got the most momentum.
PHILLIP: Yeah, but it took him a while to really find his footing. And he's really the person who ought to have the most momentum right now. And I don't think this debate changed his trajectory, which is actually not going up in this race.
KING: Just one other quick point on this. Trump always lets you know who he's mad at. They put out one general statement from the campaign saying the debate was boring and was horrible, and they've put out one statement attacking Nikki Haley. Let's see if more comes.
COOPER: And there's quite a detailed attack on Nikki Haley.
KING: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's see if more come, but that tells you something about what they think.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's what I was going to say. If there was a winner on the stage tonight, I think it was Nikki Haley. But honestly, the conversation we keep having, you know, Governor Chris Sununu says this all the time, is the Republican Party has to winnow the field. We have to start having some folks drop out and consolidate if they want to defeat Donald Trump.
What I just saw is a bunch of people who are ready to attack each other over every single policy issue. Perhaps the only uniting force on that stage was how much everyone seems to loathe Vivek Ramaswamy. But honestly, it did not come off like -- there were some substantive policy issues. But there's nothing that is going to break through from this debate in a way that is going to push down Donald Trump's favorability in any major way, and I'm not sure I would expect to see a major bump for any candidate.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and yeah, like as John alluded to earlier, right, and also Abby, everyone is stealing market share from each other, right? They're not taking any market share away from Donald Trump here. It's -- you know, tomorrow, um, you know, Governor DeSantis, who had a strong close, I think -- I think Governor Christie had a strong -- last five minutes of the debate were the best part of the whole debate, right? There's a bunch of muddling, and then at the end, people got a little clarity.
So, you know, there'll be -- somebody will go up a little bit. Somebody will go down a little bit. But the field is not going to be winnowed tomorrow when I wake up and someone is going to drop out. Right? And so, that's -- that's the problem.
And as John said, there's going to be a lot of pressure in the next 40 days to kick somebody off the island. All right? And I know that Chris Christie said he'd kick -- uh, he'd kicked Donald Trump off, but Donald Trump -- he's staying on the island. He's the middle. He's the survivor at the end of the game. So --
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump is the island.
COOPER: He owned the island, but the valuation was great.
AXELROD: The one piece of real estate he'd been heading to.
JENNINGS: I thought this was unwatchable. I mean, we're all sitting there watching this. The lighting was bad, the set was bad, the questions were weird, the crosstalk was just maddening.
URBAN: The graphics.
JENNINGS: The fighting. You know, the constant vitriol with each other. I thought the last of it was better. I mean, I think that the next one, DeSantis and Haley will be at the center of the stage again. Some of these people likely won't make it.
But the real question to me is, has the Republican zeitgeist just moved on from even the possibility that we wouldn't nominate Donald Trump? Because right now, what do Republicans believe? They believe Trump is the most electable. For months, we thought, who can make an argument about electability? Well, Trump has already won that question.
And at the same time, Biden is having a high speed come apart if you look at these national polls right now. So, Republicans are like, Trump has beaten this guy, we can't lose to this guy, and we're finally going to get vindication.
I don't need someone more electable because Trump is going to beat him. And I don't know that a debate or a TV ad or anything else is going to change that.
PHILLIP: I mean, it feels to me like one of the reasons that Nikki Haley is having a moment is because a lot of the polls show that she does very well against President Biden. Not outlier polls. But a lot of polls are showing that she -- unlike a lot of the other candidates on that stage, she clears the margin of error in some of these polls.
And so, on the electability question, it feels to me that she's making the best case for now.
AXELROD: She didn't make the case at all tonight.
PHILLIP: Yeah. AXELROD: She didn't mention that she was leading in the polls. She, obviously, didn't think that was a compelling argument. For the reason that Scott said, the electability argument has sort of faded --
JENNINGS: It's gone.
AXELROD: -- because of that. But on the question of DeSantis, and I'd like to ask you guys this, it seems to me there were moments there like when he went countered to a number of people on Ukraine, I was on the other side of -- I'm on the other side of this issue personally, but I suspect there are a lot of voters in these republican primaries, if you follow polls, who don't want to give more money to Ukraine. He took a very strong position on that.
Those kinds of things are memorable to people, particularly in the states that you've been hanging out in, in Iowa and New Hampshire. I suspect a few of those things may register with those voters.
GRIFFIN: Listen, he unequivocally -- Governor DeSantis unequivocally did better this debate than the prior debate.
I was actually noticing you could kind of hear that consultants got in the heads of some of these candidates. He mentioned a story about his wife. He tried to show some heart about visiting Reagan's grave site. He did give the answer in Ukraine, which is a differentiating point.
Vivek Ramaswamy trying to play nice guy this time because the biggest critique last time was he came off so off putting in unlikeable.
COOPER: It was interesting. One of his first answers when he was talking about unions and striking, he expressed sympathy for workers.
GRIFFIN: And I actually thought that was one of his strongest moments. If there is one question that is put on display how different today's Republican Party is than the one of 10 years ago, it was the answer around the strikes going on.
GRIFFIN: Well, hearing that some of these people are taking a much more pro-worker stance, it has less to do with, you know, what you're giving to shareholders or the free market. It's much more about workers. It's much more Pat Buchanan's party than it is, you know, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's party, right?
COOPER: David brought up Ukraine. Let's just play some of what the conversation about Ukraine was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It's in our interest to end this war, and that's what I will do as president. We are not going to have a blank check, we will not have U.S. troops, and we're going to make the Europeans do what they need to do. But they've sent money to pay bureaucrats' pensions and salaries and funding small businesses halfway around the world. Meanwhile, our own country is being invaded. We don't even have control of our own territory. We have got to defend the American people before we even worry about all these other things.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Our national vital interest is in degrading the Russian military. By degrading the Russian military, we actually keep our homeland safer, we keep our troops at home. At the end of the day, when you think about the fact, if you want to keep American troops at home, an attack on NATO territory will bring us and our troops in. By degrading the Russian military, we reduce, if not eliminate --
-- an attack on NATO territory.
RAMASWAMY: Just because Putin is not an evil -- Putin is an evil dictator does not mean that Ukraine is good. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties.
HALEY: A win for Russia is a win for China.
RAMASWAMY: That is not true. We are driving Russia.
HALEY: A win for Russia is a win for China.
RAMASWAMY: Excuse me, if you have a chance --
HALEY: That's why you're out here.
RAMASWAMY: You'll have your chance in just a moment. The hurling personal insult isn't helping. China is the real enemy, and we're driving Russia further into China's arms. We need a reasonable peace plan to end this, especially if this is a country whose president just last week --
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (ph): Vivek, if you let Putin have Ukraine, that's a green light to China to take Taiwan. The peace comes through strength.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: The Chinese are paying for the Russian war in Ukraine. The Iranians are supplying more sophisticated weapons, and so are the North Koreans now as well, with the encouragement of the Chinese.
The naivete on this stage from some of these folks is extraordinary. And the fact of the matter is we need to say right now that the Chinese-Russian alliance is something we have to fight against, and we are not going to solve it by going over and cuddling up to Vladimir Putin.
Look, Donald Trump said Vladimir Putin was brilliant and a great leader. This is the person who is murdering people in his own country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: (INAUDIBLE).
KING: There's the divide in the party. That's like the Republicans in the House and the Republicans in the Senate. You watched it play out on the stage right there where you had Ramaswamy and DeSantis playing to the Trump base, which is America first, which is not worth the money.
Even a lot of those voters who say, I don't like Putin, say, I want that money, it should go to the border wall first or it should go to something in America first. So, you're playing to that piece of the Republican base. And then you had the more establishment candidates saying, wait a minute, Putin is trying to steal a country. America has to stand up and lead.
What was missing is -- you know, Donald Trump launched a hostile takeover of the Republican Party in 2016. He won. It's his party now. If there was any place on earth to make the case, we need to take it back. If any of them wanted to say we need to take it back, it was the Ronald Reagan presidential library --
KING: To say this man took our party, he's not one of us. And there were pieces of it. You know, he raised spending. He didn't cut the deficit. He's not really ideological. He's not a conservative. He won't stand up to Russia. A couple of them made the case he wouldn't stand up to China. They didn't connect it to say, Republicans, please, let's take our party back.
Now, can that argument win? They're probably outnumbered. You probably can't. But if you're going to try -- if you're going to try to take it away from him, you have to give an alternative, a bigger, broader alternative to either going back or what a new Republican Party would look like. But they all understand there are a lot of Trump voters out there and they can't find a way through that.
URBAN: John, just like Alyssa raised the issue about, you know, where was Donald Trump today? Right? Is Michigan appealing to UAW workers? Right? I mean, it's a different party than Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan would never stand and say, go to an auto parts plant.
KING: The Reagan Democrat name though came right there. Democrats spent 20 years studying that.
URBAN: But it's a different party, I'd argue now.
So, it's transformed itself. To say, we want to claim it back, it's different. That party is gone.
GRIFFIN: And let's be clear, Ronald Reagan would have been rolling around in his grave over that Ukraine discussion happening. But I do have to say, I hate -- I think the moderators did the best that they can, but there were not questions there meant to challenge the number one, the person who's leading the GOP nomination. That's what I was most struck by.
And I understand we -- this is kind of a tactic, frankly, we use on the right, which is people care about the pocketbook issues, they care about gas prices. All those things are true. But we also were in a nominating contest. Somebody is about 30 points ahead.
This past week, he said his former -- I'm sorry, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested he should be executed. That seems like a question you would want people to answer. The numerous indictments, the fact that he will likely be a criminally-convicted felon at the time that he's the president.
And it sorts of felt like there were kids gloves protecting Donald Trump on this debate stage. So, unless someone opted to attack him, there was no attacks on him, and very few did.
PHILLIP: Yeah, very few people did. And in some ways, it almost seemed like -- because so many of them want to keep their options open. I mean, even someone like a Nikki Haley, she's careful to not really go after Trump in any kind of aggressive way, because there is always the possibility that he could be looking at that debate stage for a VP.
I mean, I think that's a serious part of why a lot of -- it is not just about their voters. I think many of these candidates really don't want to foreclose on even potential opportunities.
JENNINGS: She did call him the most unpopular politician in America at one point.
AXELROD: In the last debate.
JENNINGS: I actually thought in the last debate and since, she has actually, I think, taken away sort of -- she has been the only one trying to get nomination away from him. She has attacked him. She has pointed out what she thinks are the flaws in his candidacy. These arguments, I'm not sure are going to work, but I actually think, I don't believe she sees herself as vice president to Donald. I think --
AXELROD: Well, she could see herself as a nominee in 2028.
PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, look, nobody sees themselves as the vice president until they're asked to be the vice president. That's just the reality of the situation.
AXELROD: You know, on this point about Trump and the unwillingness to engage in a direct hit on him, I was surprised when Chris Christie had a pretty good thing going there, a good litany against Trump, and then he finished with kind of a corny joke about Donald Duck.
AXELROD: And what he didn't say, and I'm surprised he didn't, everybody on that stage but Christie said in the last debate that they'd support Donald Trump even if he were convicted. Now, there was all this talk about the rule of law on that platform, and how is that consistent with putting a convicted felon in the White House? And he had a clear shot at the rest of the field, and he didn't take it.
COOPER: I want to play what you're -- just what you're talking about, Chris Christie, what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: We've got to bring law and order back to this country. And not just in our cities. But we need the law and order back everywhere. We need law and order back in our suburbs. People are threatened there. We need it in our rural areas. People feel threatened there. And we need it in Washington, D.C. also.
And Donald Trump should be here to answer for that, but he's not. And I want to look at a camera right now and tell you, Donald, I know you're watching. You can't help yourself. I know you're watching. OK? And you're not here tonight. Not because of polls and not because of your indictments. You're not here tonight because you're afraid of being on this stage and defending your record. You're ducking these things.
And let me tell you what's going to happen. You keep doing that, no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We're going to call you Donald Duck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AXELROD: Missed opportunity.
JENNINGS: And bad joke.
AXELROD: Which is even more offensive.
GRIFFIN: But Trump did come after him on Truth Social, proving Chris Christie's point that he was probably watching the debate.
PHILLIP: I don't know. Maybe Christie has -- look, Christie did not come out of the last debate well, you know. A lot of the --
COOPER: Especially given all the preamble about how he was --
PHILLIP: Yeah. And the reactions from Republican voters were not very positive to the strategy that he took. Maybe this was the consultants whispering in his ear that he needed to change his strategy a little bit. But at the end of the day, why else is Chris Christie on the debate stage, if not to take Trump on directly?
JENNINGS: The best chance for these guys at this point, I think -- it's all about Iowa at this point, right? I mean, there is no -- there's nothing else other than Iowa. If somebody doesn't get within five points of this guy in Iowa -- URBAN: Twenty points.
JENNINGS: -- this race is over. I mean, I think -- I think -- I think some of them say interesting things. I think DeSantis has been an amazing governor. I think Haley is a polished politician. But right now, everything is aiming to Iowa, and it does have a reputation for breaking light.
And maybe the pro-lifers are nervous about Trump, although I doubt it given he put the three people on the Supreme Court. But if you can't find a way between now and January to get within single digits of Donald Trump, this is academic.
KING: DeSantis and Scott are both trying to use the abortion issue against Donald Trump in Iowa because 60% last time, 2016, 64% identified as evangelical Christians.
But that question, to your point, about the structure of the debate, which is not up to the candidates, it's up to the moderators, that didn't come up until 15 minutes before it ended. And again, it was not a Trump-focused question. Does that work? Number one.
And to your point about it is Iowa only, I mean, Christie is counting on New Hampshire.
KING: But first, he's counting -- first, he is counting on Iowa to do something, for Iowa to shock the race. Oh, Trump is not inevitable. He's not invincible. He's not inevitable. And then you come there. But again, again, if you're Donald Trump and you've got five or six viable candidates by then, we'll see, a couple will drop out.
Asa Hutchinson didn't make this debate. It's possible that Governor Burgum and even possible that Vice President Pence don't make the next debate because of the rules. Does the field start to shrink as you get past Thanksgiving toward the voting in January? But even then, if you still got four or five people spreading the anti-Trump vote, he's fine.
URBAN: And to Scott's point, got to spend a lot of time in Iowa. Got to go 99 counties over and over and over again, sit in people's living room and convince them that you're the nominee, you're the better choice than Donald Trump.
Because he's not going to go to people's living room. He's not going to go to 99 counties. He may go to two or three. He's going to show up and it'll be a big presentation and a big production, but he's not going to put in the legwork. And if you really want to win in Iowa, you got to spend the time.
AXELROD: John is right. DeSantis is playing to win Iowa and Christie is playing to compete in New Hampshire, not even running in Iowa, and that explains a little bit of their approaches. But again, just to restate what I said before, I think DeSantis has an awkward presence on the stage, less so at times tonight. He looked a little less rehearsed, although he delivered. But some of the substance of what he said was aimed directly at those Iowa voters, not just Ukraine.
But his defense of his position on abortion, which he sorts of has rewritten history, he said, I was reelected governor of Florida, you know, as a strong pro-lifer, he didn't endorse a six-week abortion ban when he was running for governor of Florida. And if he had, he would not have won by the landslide that he won by.
COOPER: He did take a shot at the former president. Let's just play that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: People in Washington are shutting down the American dream with their reckless behavior. They borrowed, they printed, they spent, and now you're paying more for everything. They are the reason for that. They have shut down our national sovereignty by allowing our border to be wide open.
So, please spare me the crocodile tears for these people. They need to change what's going on. And where's Joe Biden? He's completely missing an action from leadership. And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight.
He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation that we have now. I can tell you this, as governor of Florida, we cut taxes, we ran surpluses, we've paid down over 25% of our state debt, and I vetoed wasteful spending when it came to my desk.
And as your president, when they send me a bloating spending bill that's going to cause your prices to go up, I'm going to take out this veto pen and I'm going to send it right back to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Great moment.
URBAN: That's his best moment all night. That's pretty strong.
GRIFFIN: Might be the best moment the campaign has ever been on.
PHILLIP: Here's the thing about -- I mean, everybody is memorizing lines, right? But that seemed really memorized, really rehearsed, delivered perfectly.
URBAN: It was actually good.
PHILLIP: But it was rehearsed.
PHILLIP: And I think that DeSantis, when you look at that picture, he still seems like a candidate who is struggling to find his footing. He does not seem like -- at the end of the day, the picture that voters have to have in their mind, Donald Trump versus X. And if that person is Ron DeSantis, I don't know that that's really quite the bar.
URBAN: Abby, the problem is Donald Trump is great at the game, right? He's great at an OTR. You go into a McDonald's, he puts his arm around the owner of McDonald's, jokes with the guy, I know the menu better than you, right? He's throwing out footballs. He's passing out pizzas.
GRIFFIN: He's an entertainer.
URBAN: He's great at it. So, to put anybody against Donald Trump, they're going to pale in comparison. What DeSantis should say is, look, I may not be the most entertaining guy, but I'm an incredibly effective governor. I'm going to get stuff done. It's not going to be dramatic, may not be as entertaining, but I'm going to govern strongly.
PHILLIP: Or convince -- to me, it's not -- the question is not entertaining, it's convincing.
GRIFFIN: And I --
PHILLIP: And I think that's the fundamental question.
GRIFFIN: I would agree with that.
AXELROD: Can I just add a pedestrian note here? And if Daniel Dale is -- we're going to hear from him.
AXELROD: He can fact check me on this.
But I think that Ron DeSantis actually -- he voted to raise the debt limit when he was in the Congress and Donald Trump was passing budgets. I suspect he voted for, uh, some of Trump's fiscal policies.
GRIFFIN: But when Obama was in office, he was a fiscal conservative.
KING: But the central premise of the DeSantis campaign is, I'm Donald Trump without the baggage and with the Florida results, which is a good appeal. If voters have given up on Donald Trump, they will look for somebody like him. They haven't given up on Donald -- enough Republican voters have not given up on Donald Trump to make that argument.
GRIFFIN: There is a bigger issue here, though. Tonight, Ron DeSantis was the -- I mean, he was fine. He was the candidate he should have been six months ago. We weren't doing the anti-woke stuff. We barely hit on the culture wars. It was his record in Florida. That works. But I think that cats out of the bag when he got the one question which -- if we have the sound, we should play. He got asked for the quadruple time about AP black history or about just the benefits of slavery in Florida, and he just kept doubling down, like, show some compassion, admit fault, act like a leader.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Ahead, Dana will talk with some candidates. We expect to hear from Vivek Ramaswamy shortly. Also, David Axelrod just mentioned Daniel Dale. He joins us with a fact check on what was said tonight, not by David, but by the candidates. And later, what voters in Iowa made of what they saw. That and more as our special debate coverage gets ready.
BASH: Welcome back. The second debate of the campaign of 2024 has just wrapped up here at the Reagan Library, as you see. Joining me now, one of the debaters, candidate for president, Vivek Ramaswamy. Thank you so much for being here.
I want to start by playing for our viewers a moment in the debate where you clearly wanted to get across a message about how you think people feel about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMASWAMY: There's exactly one person in the Republican Party which talks a big game about reaching young people, and that's me. And let me level with all of you. I'm the new guy here, and so I know I have to earn your trust. What do you see?
You see a young man who's in a bit of a hurry, maybe a little ambitious, bit of a know-it-all, it seems, at times. I'm here to tell you, no, I don't know it all. I will listen. I will have the best people, the best and brightest in this country, whatever age they are, advising me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Politics for a while, when a candidate says something like that, no, I'm not a know-it-all, it might come from research that shows that --
BASH: -- voters are concerned about that? Why did you say that then?
RAMASWAMY: It actually didn't show up in any polling numbers. But I understand. If I was looking at myself after the first debate, to be really honest with you, and I didn't know me, that's what I would have thought.
BASH: How come?
RAMASWAMY: Well, look, I think that I'm a new guy. People -- I have no voting record in legislatures or in the Senate or a governing track record. I do have a business track record, but people aren't familiar with that.
And so, I understand. If I were sitting at home and seen a 38-year-old guy who's on stage for the first time and you have heard of him not before, I'd get that I have to earn the trust of people in this country.
And I think a big part of it is that we've already been reaching a lot of younger audiences through social media more effectively probably in many modern campaigns, but most of the republican primary voter base is not reachable that way.
And so, I wanted to be candid with people that this is a process. I wasn't in tonight to have one moment. This is part of the steady climb to what I believe will be winning the nomination and reuniting this party, and then reuniting this country. And I think that was my mentality in the stage tonight. I'm really pleased with how it went.
BASH: When you came over here, you said to me that, uh, from your perspective, phase one of your campaign is coming --
BASH: -- to a close, and now you're in phase two. Can you explain what that means?
RAMASWAMY: Well, most people who come out of nowhere like me, seemingly at least out of nowhere in March when I'm polling in 0.0%, would not be at this phase of the campaign. And so that means we need to talk to everybody at all hours of the day.
One of the things I've realized about myself, Dana, is that I'm at my best when I also create space to actually remind myself to think, to have the vision of this campaign itself of where we're going.
And so, we're not going to be doing media frenzies or anything going forward. I'll talk to everybody. Left wing, right wing media doesn't matter. But I'm going to focus more on what is day one going to look like. And not only just what is day one. What does January 2033 look like?
When I leave that office, after two terms hopefully, what do I want to tell the people of this country that we did? From here on out, that's actually my focus. And there's a little bit of a chicken and egg when you start a campaign as an outsider like this. I think we have achieved critical velocity. But now, I'm not in this to just be here.
RAMASWAMY: I'm in this to lead this country and hopefully, dare I say it, reunite this country. And I think that's going to be a different side of me that I hope that people get to know over the course of the next few months.
BASH: Okay. Before you get even close to what you just described, you very well know that you're going to secure the republican nomination.
BASH: You -- just like the first debate, uh, there were some knives out for you tonight.
BASH: And one of the things that we heard from Nikki Haley and I believe Mike Pence was criticism of you when it comes to China.
RAMASWAMY: Yeah. That's puzzling to me, but that's okay.
BASH: Well, the idea is that when you were --
RAMASWAMY: I did businesses in China, that's true.
BASH: Okay. And so, first of all, is that criticism fair? Should you not have done business in China?
RAMASWAMY: I don't -- I wouldn't say that. I'll admit mistakes. But that's not a mistake because every American CEO was expanding into China. And so, I was among them.
BASH: Why did you pull out?
RAMASWAMY: Actually, I'm proud of it because I saw what the expectations are if you're doing business in China. You can't criticize --
BASH: Expectations by the Chinese or America?
RAMASWAMY: You can't criticize the Chinese. You can't criticize the CCP. So, when I started my next business, not only do we pull out from the first business, when I started my second business, strive. I became actually the first leader of an asset manager to say we would never build an asset management business in China. That was unique. I've probably been the most outspoken CEO in America about the risks of doing business in China.
As those other governors criticize me, I was thinking about firing back. Each of them has invited Chinese investment into their states. No doubt about it. But I don't think that was a good use of time on the debate stage. There's a lot of people going back and forth. I don't think that makes the Republican Party stronger.
BASH: But they said that you pulled out your businesses in China because you return your attention towards running for political office.
RAMASWAMY: No, false. Actually, it is just -- it is just blatantly false. But my view is this personal tax remaining less. I've actually made harder commitments than most CEOs. There is no CEO in America I think you're going to find who has been more openly critical of the CCP.
In the spirit of the Reagan Library night, here's my view on foreign policy as well. As Reagan said it about the Soviet Union, what did he say? His vision was, we win, they lose. People laughed at him when he said. They said -- like for me, he is an outsider, a simpleton.
Well, he actually got that done. And I say that for the Communist Party of China today. That's my strategy. We win, they lose. And I understand it deeply enough to actually lead us to get there.
BASH: There was another comment that you made tonight that, uh, caught my attention.
BASH: You said transgender is, and especially in kids, is a mental health disorder.
BASH: How do you know that?
RAMASWAMY: Well, it's up through the DSM-5. It has been characterized as a mental health condition. And I come from a place of compassion here. I do not think we're doing these kids a favor when they're confused to say -- let's affirm your confusion, instead of asking an open question what else might be going wrong in that kid's life.
BASH: You know --
RAMASWAMY: The fact that schools hide that from parents, I think, is wrong.
BASH: It wasn't that long ago that many people in America thought being gay was a mental health disorder.
RAMASWAMY: I think there is a fundamental difference here. Unlike for being gay where there no genetic basis for it, here, you have a genetic basis for your gender. Two X chromosomes, you're a woman. And X and Y, you're a man. Are there rare cases of X, X, Y and X, Y, Y? Sure. But that is a fringe case and I said in other forms --
BASH: But you understand that there are people who make the very difficult choice to change their gender.
BASH: They don't think that it is a choice --
RAMASWAMY: So, let's at least draw some boundaries here.
BASH: -- because they think they are born in the wrong body and that is mental health. How do you respond that? RAMASWAMY: With due respect, I would say let us draw some boundaries. Kids aren't the same as adults.
RAMASWAMY: And so, the fact that I have met young women -- I met -- mentioned two of them on the stage, Chloe and Katie, in their 20s, who now regret having gone -- undergone, both of them, double mastectomies. One of them a hysterectomy, one who won't have children, the other one who will never breastfeed her children, who regret it now. That's not something we should allow kids in this country to do just as you can't get a tattoo --
BASH: So just to clarify.
RAMASWAMY: -- before the age of 18.
BASH: You're talking about children.
BASH: Uh, well, first of all, why shouldn't it be a parents' decision with the family and the doctor? Why is it the government's decision? I mean, you're a conservative.
RAMASWAMY: I am.
BASH: Why should the government be involved?
RAMASWAMY: And it is a fair question, but I think that there are certain boundaries we draw to say that you can't allow a parent to allow their child to engage in abuse of herself, abusive behavior. In other context, you can't get a tattoo in most states in this union until the age of 18. There are real hard lines. You can't smoke a cigarette just because your parent gives you one.
So, I do think that we have to protect children. I am a free market person. I do believe that if you want to dress how you want, wear a skirt. If you're man, I'm not going to stop you from doing it.
But you're also not going to change the norms and language of our country or how women compete in sports or how people go to which locker rooms they go into. That's not protecting against the tyranny of the majority. What that's really doing is creating a new tyranny of the minority. I do think it's important to be vocal about that.
BASH: One last question, just to make sure that I understand your position. You're talking about children.
BASH: What about adults? If somebody who is 18 and older, uh, is transgender, is that a mental health disorder?
RAMASWAMY: It's my belief that it is. That is my conviction. I think it's a lot of psychiatrists for most of the last century have. But -- BASH: A lot of psychiatrists --
RAMASWAMY: It is not my job to be the psychiatrist for every adult in this country. I'm running for president of United States. We live in a free country. We will treat every person with dignity. But that doesn't mean that that person gets to change our language or the way women compete in sports or otherwise.
So, that's the way I'll govern as a leader of this country, who respects individual freedom, but also respects the idea that we have to protect children because kids aren't the same as adults.
And I think most people, even friends on the left, I think quietly agree with me on this. Just think about this issue for a second. If we're to be brought (INAUDIBLE) couple times --
RAMASWAMY: -- the same movement that said the sex of the person you're attracted to is hardwired on the day you're born, is now the same movement that says your own sex is totally fluid over the course of your life.
And I think that we've got these technologies. There is a lot of tension there. And so, I know a lot of gay people who are offended by being clubbed into the same group through the LGBTQ, IA plus alphabet soup. And so, I think we have to start treating people as individuals with respect and dignity.
RAMASWAMY: And I'm in this to unite the country, but I'm also going to speak the truth at every step of the way.
BASH: This is -- this conversation didn't go as I expected to have this debate, but I will just say and I want to --
BASH: -- end it here, is that my impression is that people who are gay talk about how they, uh, who they're attracted to. People who are transgender is they're talking about how they feel themselves.
Last question just to put a button on this discussion about tonight. Do you feel that the dynamic really changed tonight, especially with Donald J. Trump not on that stage?
RAMASWAMY: I think it did. I think that I am on a steady climb to be our nominee.
The person who wins the republican nomination is not going to do without the America first base. I was the America first conservative on that stage. And if you look at my closing remark, I was very clear. Unlike everybody else on that stage who was implicitly bashing Trump, I recognize that he was an excellent president.
But I am in this race to unite this country. And that will take someone of a different generation. And I think we go further with our America first agenda if we're united. And also, if many people, independents, and even Democrats are honest about it, I think there are parts of the America first agenda that many of them agree with, too.
And so yes, I will first reunite this party, and then I will reunite this country. I will honor Donald Trump's legacy as we do because I think that's the right thing to do. But I believe I will take this to the next level and unite all Americans by reaching in part the next generation. That is the phase the campaign we're in now.
BASH: Vivek Ramaswamy, thank you so much --
RAMASWAMY: Thank you.
BASH: --- for coming over.
RAMASWAMY: Appreciate it, Dana.
BASH: I appreciate it.
RAMASWAMY: Good to see you. Thank you.
BASH: Anderson, I'm going to toss it back to you.
COOPER: Dana, thanks very much. We will come back to Dana with more of the folks from the stage tonight. Un, well, he's got a lot to say.
JENNINGS: Ramaswamy, by the way, although I thought most of this debate was unwatchable, the most watchable parts were when like Nikki Haley was taking him over her knee and just spanking him over his views, his attitude, whatever, all night long, and all the other candidates got in on it as well.
And although he is no threat to get nomination and he's obviously just running as a Trump surrogate or a Trump stand-in, he deserves to be taken to test.
After the last debate, we all thought, well, he got all this attention, he's going to get a spike. And he did get a momentary spike. But then like we turned the lights on this guy and nobody likes what they're seeing, the contradictions, the I didn't say that, yes, you did, here's the video, the doing business with China, his crazy views on foreign policy which continue to come out.
So, I was personally glad to see someone -- I mean, he's a salesman. He's constantly selling. But that's different than having values and principles. I just thought that was a good thing that came out of it all.
COOPER: It was interesting to hear him on the stage sort of acknowledged some of those criticisms and then appointed this out. Clearly, he saw research on how people viewed him after the last debate and --
COOPER: -- tact course and that was what he said on the stage.
JENNINGS: Yeah. Some consultants said, hey man, they don't like you. They think you're annoying. What they said was everything he just repeated back.
JENNINGS: That's not exactly how you defeat that --
GRIFFIN: But --
JENNINGS: -- but you can tell someone told him that and he's trying to fix it, which -- it's not fixable because he's just who he is.
AXELROD: You're absolutely right, though. I mean, the idea that an unprincipled salesman could get elected president, that's absurd.
JENNINGS: We got to stand up to him someday, don't we, David?
GRIFFIN: It did feel like with Ramaswamy, the sort of earnestness and character change he tried to do was about as shallow as his policy viewpoints. It lasted about a minute until somebody called him out and the fact that last time he insulted in a broad swath the entire stage, and then he went, reverted right back to who he actually is, which is someone who's antagonistic, incredibly arrogant and thinks he knows everything.
And then on the policy viewpoints, it just -- in this interview just now with Dana, you know, he pays homage to Reagan, but then he literally is once again reiterating that he would just kind of hand over Ukraine to the Russians. His ideas on Taiwan are frankly insane. But I do think he is there as a surrogate for Trump, and I think that you'll ultimately see him backing --
JENNINGS: He also says, like, I think we do better as a Republican Party when we -- you know, this is the same guy just a few days ago admitted in an interview that he doesn't really consider himself to be a Republican. He's just using the Republican Party to try to advance what he sees as his personal platform.
COOPER: So, he is running to be a surrogate for Trump. Do you believe he's looking to get a VP nomination?
GRIFFIN: His people are playing to get the VP nomination. That would be an absolute radioactive general election ticket. I can't think of two more off-putting people for women, independents, and moderates than Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy on a ticket, but it's something they're positioning for. But I think a number of candidates on the stage probably are as well.
URBAN: I disagree with you, Scott. I think that -- I mean, he's still getting market share. When rearranging the deck chairs of the people on the stage, he's still taking it from other folks.
KING: Market share that would go where?
URBAN: Well, that's what I'm saying. I don't know, but I'm saying it would go to Trump.
KING: If it would go to DeSantis, it helps Trump.
URBAN: Right. But I'm saying he's taking market share from the pool of market share that's available.
AXELROD: Yes, and I think it does take from DeSantis. Listen, it isn't just that he is constantly praising Trump that keeps Trump appraising him. It's also that he's doing Trump's work here.
As for someone, it's also, I guess, absurd to think that someone could use the Republican Party who isn't really a Republican to -- I mean, he is basically following in Trump's footsteps, but the problem is the master is running, so there's not a lot of room for the disciple.
PHILLIP: I mean, there's always a candidate in these races that puts on the table something totally different, something -- the easy answer is just right in front of us.
And that happens all the time. And Vivek seems to be playing that role. But that is not usually a strategy for actually winning these primaries. At some point, those kinds of easy solutions to hard problems that have (INAUDIBLE) the whole country for decades and decades, it comes up against reality.
And I think that's what Nikki Haley keeps trying to say on the debate stage, is that it's one inch deep. And at some point, I mean, this is, it is going -- that whole thing is going to --
JENNINGS: Let me ask you. Do you think Ramaswamy will be on the ballot in Iowa? Do you think he will make it to Iowa?
PHILLIP: On the ballot in Iowa?
JENNINGS: Do you think --
JENNINGS: Or do you think he may --
PHILLIP: He has enough money. JENNINGS: -- in the last minute --
AXELROD: And endorse Trump?
UNKNOWN: Listen, you don't think so?
GRIFFIN: I wouldn't be shocked.
AXELROD: I think because he is doing -- if -- he is doing Trump a favor by taking some non-Trump votes away from others. I also would point out the guy is 38 or something. He's playing a longer game, which is someday, there's not going to be Donald Trump, and he's trying to set himself up for the --
URBAN: He lives in Ohio, and he wants to be governor of Ohio. I mean, lots of opportunities for the guy.
GRIFFIN: But one missed opportunity tonight, and I understand it's inelegant to probably bring up polls in a debate setting, Nikki Haley performs head to head against Biden about six points ahead. The fact Ramaswamy loses head to head to Joe Biden by about two to four points, as does Ron DeSantis, I feel like the case on electability, which we did say is kind of out the window, still should be talked about.
If you say Donald Trump is a gamble, we don't know if he can beat Joe Biden. You know who could? Nikki Haley. You know who definitely won't? Vivek Ramaswamy. And that was missing.
AXELROD: But you know what the crazy thing about this electability argument is? So central to all the republican arguments is that Joe Biden is, you know, a doddering kind of enfeebled old man who doesn't know where he is and all of that stuff. And the impression you'd get listening to them is anybody could beat him.
AXELROD: Anybody. So, I don't even think people are focused that much on this.
JENNINGS: I think Republicans have decided, we couldn't possibly lose to this guy. So, we're going to nominate the person we want, not the person that we think is most likely to win.
AXELROD: Right, exactly.
JENNINGS: But also, honestly --
AXELROD: But they do think Trump is the most likely to win as well.
JENNINGS: But I think there's a lot of Democrats that think we couldn't possibly lose to Donald Trump, and that's their strategy.
URBAN: No, I don't think that's the case anymore.
JENNINGS: I think lately, you're seeing cracks, but I do think you do have this magical thinking in both parties that both of our likely opponent is the worst possible person in the world. How could we possibly lose? When all is said and done, how could we possibly lose? Now, somebody is going to be wrong. I don't know who, but somebody will.
PHILLIP: I mean, this might be a small distinction, but I do think Republican voters genuinely like Trump. They believe that he is a strong candidate in spite of all of this stuff. And it's not just for a lot of Democrats. The polls show it's an anti-Trump sentiment that drives them toward Biden, even if they don't like a lot of other things.
But among Republicans, they like Trump. They like Trump. And that is the real problem. That's why all of those other candidates are having a hard time.
PHILLIP: Because they can't undermine the genuine affinity that he has with Republican voters. That it's hard to break with policy. It's hard to break with rehearsed lines. It's hard to break with your rhetoric in whatever state you come from. It's hard to break those things because it's not necessarily tied to anything, you know, on a piece of paper.
AXELROD: Well, there's also this tribal -- I mean, what the indictments have done is it's turned this into a tribal thing and there's a rallying around Trump because they -- you know, he has sold this idea that he is under siege for his political views, and therefore, there is a feeling that we should rally around the guy.
COOPER: Yeah, we mentioned that CNN fact checker Daniel Dale a moment ago. I want to bring him in now with a closer look at what candidate Ron DeSantis had to say tonight about education. Daniel?
DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Yeah, Anderson. Let's listen to striking exchange that Governor DeSantis had about a very controversial part of Florida's new education standards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Florida's new black history curriculum says -- quote -- "Slaves develop skills which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit. You have said slaves develop skills in spite of slavery, not because of it. But many are still hurt. For the sentence of slaves, this is personal. What is your message to them?
DESANTIS: So, first of all, that's a hoax that was perpetrated by Kamala Harris.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Take the line out.
DESANTIS: We are not going to be doing that. Second of all, that was written by descendants of slaves. These are great black history scholars. So, we need to stop playing these games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DALE: Governor DeSantis's hoax claim is false, Anderson. It is not a hoax. Florida social studies standards for middle schoolers includes the sentence that the moderator read to him here. And I think Governor DeSantis effectively admitted it was not a hoax when immediately after he called it a hoax, he pivoted to defending that sentence as being written by great scholars who are descendants of slaves.
So, here are the facts. Florida's new standards for sixth through eighth graders say they will -- quote -- "examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves," and it gives a bunch of examples. And then it goes on to say that this -- it says that the standards say that this instruction includes how slaves develop skills, which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit. So again, the moderator wasn't making it up, Vice President Harris didn't make it up, it is there in black and white.
Now, some context, the governor, his allies and various other Republicans, I've heard an argument from our Scott Jennings, they've said that the so-called hoax isn't making it sound like the curriculum broadly is pro-slavery.
They correctly note that the standards include item after item after item about the evils of slavery in addition to this line. And they're entitled to make that argument, though some other elements have also received criticism from historians.
But in this debate, you know, he was read the precise line. He made it sound like it was a line made up by VP Harris. She'd fabricated the personal benefit thing. She did not.
And I'll close by noting that it's not just VP Harris who criticized it, so as black advocacy groups, many historians, and various Republican lawmakers, including a Black Republican on stage with DeSantis tonight, Senator Tim Scott, who said tonight that Florida should have just cut that line out. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah. Daniel Dale, thanks very much. We'll have more from Daniel Dale. That was one of the interesting things Tim Scott said on the stage tonight. He did respond to that in lengthy. I don't know if we have the full soundbite of Tim Scott, but we should get that and play it. You would've wanted to mention that?
PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, first of all, it was interesting that he chose to just full stop say it should not have been there. There are no redeeming qualities to slavery.
COOPER: In fact -- I'm sorry, I'm told we have it. So, why don't we play what Tim Scott said in response?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: Florida's new black history curriculum says -- quote -- "Slaves develop skills which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit. You have said slaves develop skills in spite of slavery, not because of it. But many are still hurt. For the sentence of slaves, this is personal. What is your message to them?
DESANTIS: So, first of all, that's a hoax that was perpetrated by Kamala Harris.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Take the line out.
DESANTIS: We are not going to be doing that. Second of all, that was written by descendants of slaves. These are great black history scholars. So, we need to stop playing these games.
SCOTT: There is not a redeeming quality in slavery. He and Kamala should have just taken the one sentence out. America has suffered because of slavery. But we've overcome that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We don't have the whole thing.
PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, so, there's that line, and I think it was a choice that he made there to put that stake in the ground on the DeSantis curriculum. He went on to talk about what has caused, you know, African-Americans in this country to experience all the disparities that we all know about. And he --
COOPER: Blamed Lyndon Johnson.
PHILLIP: -- blamed Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. He said it's not all -- it's not -- it cannot be blamed on slavery because, obviously, people came out of slavery and did things. It was -- it was a line that I thought was great for Republican voters who want to hear that kind of message.
But I think that even Tim Scott knows, this is often the case, even Tim Scott knows that is not a complete answer. That even after slavery, there are a lot of reasons that Black people in the Jim Crow South in the 1960s, the 1970s experience horrible discrimination where he grew up in South Carolina.
And then he blames the Lyndon Johnson Great Society, which gave us the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, which allowed Black people to vote in this country in great numbers. He might have an issue with welfare, which I think is what he centered his answer on. But that full context is not there.
And honestly, at this point, I wonder why not just provide the context? Why put it in this sort of small lane that you think is going to be resonating with Republican voters when he's really the only person who's going to give a clear, contextual answer on that debate stage? It's an interesting choice to me. And maybe the second time -- he did a very similar thing in the first debate, second time that he's done it now. URBAN: I thought Ron DeSantis had an opportunity, as it was just talked about here, to really just say at that point, look, we shouldn't have put it in there. I can understand that it's very hurtful to folks and we made a mistake and it would have been -- it would have been very illuminating.
And I think what attracted more voters to Ron DeSantis than he would get by saying, doubling down on the point, right? He just said, look, we made a mistake. It was drafted by some folks. We thought it was in there and it was going to provide some context.
Taking out -- it might have been taken out of context, not what we meant, we're sorry we offended folks, and just move on from that. We learned our lesson and move on. It was an opportunity which I think was missed.
JENNINGS: But after it was drafted -- I mean, Ron DeSantis didn't write the standards. It was drafted by Dr. William Allen.
JENNINGS: Highly respected African-American history PhD, on the work groups, did a number of interviews, strongly refuting the way what was written had been characterized.
And that was where --
URBAN: That's where DeSantis got an opportunity.
JENNINGS: And that was where DeSantis, I think -- I mean, he dug in on this. And it was interesting to me over the summer when Harris decided to go to Florida and attack that. Tim Scott did join with her. It was an interesting moment because you don't normally see Republicans aligning themselves with her on attacks by the Republicans.
GRIFFIN: Nearly universally, Black Republicans came out. Byron Donalds, as Trumpy as they come, Will Hurd.
PHILLIP: This was not a win for DeSantis by any stretch.
GRIFFIN: It was such a mistake by the Senate.
URBAN: That's why tonight, it was a layup for him to say, we made a mistake.
COOPER: Everyone is going to stay where we are. More from the candidates shortly. Reaction from a Democrat at the debate, California Governor Gavin Newsom, ahead.
BASH: It is always hectic when presidential debates wrap up as we and everyone else here try to get fresh reaction from the candidates and their teams. Joining me now is one of the candidates on the debate stage tonight, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. We were just talking you -- we saw it on the stage. You were very frustrated.
And what you just said to me before coming on is you think that, from your perspective, the voters lost tonight. What do you mean by that?
GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): Well, any voters tune into a presidential debate, they want to find