Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Biden Chooses Kamala Harris As Running Mate; President Trump Holds White House Press Briefing. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 11, 2020 - 18:00   ET



QUESTION: So, now it's widely accepted among Republicans that there was FISA abuse in...


QUESTION: The Justice Department I.G. has found out, with Carter Page foreign application. But we were actually warned in 2013 that the Surveillance Court was, allegedly, a rubber stamp. It was approving surveillance.

And I was wondering -- I don't think, as President, you've commented on Edward Snowden, but do you think he should be allowed to return without going to prison?

TRUMP: So as far FISA abuse is concerned, there was tremendous FISA abuse. It's amazing that it's taken this long. And everyone knows that it's been proven very substantially. Not only FISA abuse -- changing documents and putting documents in front of the FISA court and courts that are disgraceful that they could have done it.

And the fact is we caught Joe Biden, President Obama, the whole group. You can look at Brennan and Comey and Clapper and the whole group. We caught them spying on our campaign. This was an illegal act like no other illegal act. This was treason.

This was at the highest level of treason. And Obama and Biden got caught spying on my campaign, using intelligence agencies of the United States government to do it, both before and after the election. So before the election and then after I won, they continued. It's totally illegal activity, and now we just have to see what's happening.

But as far as Kamala is concerned, she's a big tax raiser, she's a big slasher of funds for our military, and she's got a lot of difficult things that she's going to have to explain. Plus, she was very, very nasty to -- one of the reasons it surprised me, she was very -- she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden.

She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden. And it's hard to pick somebody that's that disrespectful. When she said things during the debates -- during the Democrat primary debates -- that were horrible about Sleepy Joe. And I would think that he wouldn't have picked. OAN, please. Please. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday, Seattle City Council voted to cut funding for their police department, and the chief -- the police chief there, Carmen Best; the first black woman to serve in that capacity -- she resigned hours later. What does this say about our country? And what does this say about the Defund Police movement?

TRUMP: Well, I think that Seattle, in spite of all that they've been through, with the embarrassment of having a radical left group -- Antifa and others -- take over a big portion of the city of Seattle -- we're talking about a big city, a major city. That they allowed that to happen is incredible.

That it took so long to fix is incredible. And the only reason they went in is because they knew we were going in the following day, and so they preceded us. They didn't want that to happen. They don't want to be embarrassed.

And the people just gave up. They weren't -- they were exhausted from having taken over a city for so long.

The police commissioner seems like a very good woman. They were going to slash her salary by 40 or 50 percent. And they cut a tremendous amount off the police department -- really, where people are saying it's not sustainable as a good police department. And, again, those police are good also, but they're not allowed to do their job.

So I think it's a shame. I hate to see her go, because she did, in her own way, a very good job, but she wasn't effective in convincing the mayor and the city council to give the funds that were needed or just leave the funds the way they are.

They've done a big -- a big defund, a big part of it. And it'll probably get worse before people realize this is a tragic error, before people start dying and getting hurt very badly. So I think Seattle has made a tragic mistake. I think Portland has no clue as to what they're doing. They have no clue. And hopefully, there'll be asking for help because we can solve their problem very, very quickly.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Two quick questions. One on Senator Harris: Very simply, is she going to help former Vice President Biden's chances in November? Or is she going to hurt his chances?

TRUMP: Well, I like Vice President Mike Pence much better. He is solid as a rock. He's been a fantastic Vice President. He's done everything you can do. He's respected by every religious group. Whether it's evangelical, whether it's any other group, they respect Mike Pence.

He's been a great Vice President, and I will take him over Kamala and the horrible way she, again, treated Justice Kavanaugh. That was a horrible event. I thought it was terrible for her. I thought it was terrible for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate.


She's also known, from what I understand, as being just about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate. And I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit. Because with what they're doing with open borders and sanctuary cities -- where they're trying to protect sanctuary cities, which is also protecting a large number of criminals; with all of the things that they're doing -- Second Amendment.

They want to take away your Second Amendment or modify it to a point where it's essentially no longer the Second Amendment. I would have thought he would have gone a different way.

Thank you very much, everybody.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And we just heard from President Trump in a news conference there after the news that Democrat Joe Biden has chosen Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. She would be the first woman of color on a major party's presidential ticket. And we're breaking it all down with our political team.

But, first, we want to point out a couple of things from the press conference that the president was just touching on a few moments ago, when he was talking about Kamala Harris supporting what he called socialized medicine.

While it's true that Senator Harris did support Medicare for all, a Medicare for all-like plan, Joe Biden has not embraced Medicare for all. He is more in favor of a public option that would go along with Obamacare, and, obviously, Joe Biden would be at the top of the ticket.

And the president also was slamming President Obama, Vice President Biden, accusing them of spying on the Trump campaign. That is just not true. That did not happen, has not been proven.

But let's turn to our political experts.

Let's go to David Chalian first.

David, your thoughts and what the president has had to say about Senator Harris. He doesn't sound too worried, although, when we're talking to our sources close to the Trump campaign, there are some real concerns about Senator Harris and what she brings to this ticket.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And we have heard from President Trump, right, in the past expressing, if not outright admiration, at least sort of respect for Kamala Harris' political abilities. He recently was saying that she would be a fine choice. At the time of

her rollout, when she entered the presidential contest in January of 2019, he acknowledged being impressed with her rollout. He thought she had done that quite well.

But I do think, listening to the president just now, Jim, the framing, that he's clearly and his team are clearly looking to sort of build around Kamala Harris, a slasher of funds for the military, she has lots of things you have to explain, a tax-raiser.

And then here this notion -- he uses the word nasty when he talks about women especially, but this notion that she was nasty to Joe Biden on the debate stage, and that he thought -- the president was saying that he would not have picked her because of how nasty she was to Joe Biden, that he was surprised Joe Biden would pick someone like that, I think the Biden folks are eager to have that contrast.

They want to draw it and say, that's exactly the difference between Trump and Biden. Biden is somebody who can take a punch on a debate stage from a competitor and turn that around and understand that they can fight for common cause to defeat Donald Trump, whereas President Trump seems to think that that would be disqualifying.

I think the president there just laid out sort of a character contrast that the Biden folks are eager to embrace, Jim.

ACOSTA: And the other thing I thought was interesting, David, is that he defended his vice president, Mike Pence. There was no indication there that President Trump is thinking about dumping Mike Pence from the ticket, even though there's been speculation arising time and again that that may happen.

I have talked to Trump campaign sources, talked to Jason Miller over the weekend, who denied that that was going to take place, the Trump campaign adviser.

But, David, I will tell you, I talked to you a Trump campaign adviser not too long ago, earlier this afternoon, after the Kamala Harris news was announced, who said that it is believed by some close to the Trump campaign that this Biden/Harris ticket is going to be tougher than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

What do you think of the challenge that Kamala Harris poses for the Trump campaign being a part of this ticket now?

CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, I think that's an astute observation of your source saying that.

I think Joe Biden has already shown that he is going to be far more -- far tougher competition for Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton was. And that's due to one big thing. That's due to the president's handling the coronavirus pandemic, which, at the end of the day, Jim -- and we're going to talk a lot about Kamala Harris and what her past statements and her record are and sort of what she adds to this ticket or what potential challenges. But, at the end of the day, this is going to be a race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. People tend not to vote for the person who's in the number two slot on the ticket.


But I think, looking at where the state of this race is today, the Trump folks are right to think that they are facing stiffer competition than perhaps they faced in 2016.

We're in a whole different kind of political environment.

ACOSTA: Very different environment, David.

And we have got an outstanding panel of experts and analysts here.

I want to go to Van Jones to get his reaction what the president just had to say a few moments ago.

I thought it was notable, Van, that the president took a swipe at Elizabeth Warren, used the term Pocahontas again, which is obviously a racially offensive term, and is using that kind of racially offensive language on the same day that Joe Biden is making history in selecting an African-American woman to be on his ticket.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's some real irony there.

You see the president -- he's circling her in the ring. He's trying out his combinations. Nothing that he said landed, and nothing that he said is going to make a difference.

I'm going to say this. Ella Jo Baker is happy up in heaven right now. Shirley Chisholm is happy. Barbara Jordan is happy, Fannie Lou Hamer.

Kamala Harris inherits an incredible legacy of African-American women who have stood up for the best in this country, who have stood up to bullies and insults, who have had enough pride and self-respect to maintain their dignity and not to back down.

She is the last in a very long line of people who right now are rejoicing in heaven that an African-American woman with her dignity, with her poise, with her strength, with her toughness has endured this gauntlet and is now standing, will be standing next to the next president of the United States.

And that cannot be erased by any of this little stuff you just saw the president trying to do. They don't have a way to hit her hard. You just saw it. Right now, they don't have a way to hit her hard. They were trying out little trial balloons. You would expect them to have been ready, because people have been saying it's been here for about a week.

This is going to be a formidable ticket, because you do have a reason now for people to get excited. You have got a reason now for people to get back out here and make some history and to try to bring this country back together. I think that what I'm seeing in social media, certainly people have

some concerns about some of her criminal justice stuff. That is completely being overwhelmed by people's excitement about Kamala Harris being added to this ticket.

ACOSTA: And, Nia-Malika Henderson, as you know, African-American women have been described as one of the pillars of the Democratic Party. We heard that time and again during the Democratic primaries.

Picking up on what Van Jones just had to say, this is tricky territory for President Trump, is it not, in that he has so often employed racially incendiary language throughout his political career, and now Kamala Harris is standing there on this ticket for 2020.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Racially incendiary language, as well as sexist language.

If you think about what he just said, he was really fixated on Kamala Harris being nasty, she's so mean. He often uses that kind of language to refer to women.

One of the things that was noteworthy to me, I wasn't -- I could only hear it in my ear. I couldn't actually see the video. President Trump sounded kind of lazy and like his heart wasn't really in it, almost like he had just gotten up from a nap.

And I think you're going to be able to contrast Kamala Harris' vibrance and energy, smarts, obviously, too, with not only Donald Trump, but also Mike Pence.

So, listen, I think they're going to throw the kitchen sink at Kamala Harris, at this ticket. It'll be laced with racism and sexism in the way that we have come to see this president and understand this president over the last many years. And we will see if it works.

I mean, I have said before, racism and sexism very powerful forces in this country. Racism might be the most powerful force in this country ever.

And so it's still a big risk. It's still a big bet that you see Joe Biden making, that this country is in a place where they feel comfortable elevating a black woman, Indian-American, a woman, to the second highest office of the land. We will see.

Again, obviously, Kamala Harris has navigated racism and sexism her entire life and won in California over and over again. So, if you want somebody who's navigated that kind of gauntlet successfully, she is certainly all the pick, but the forces of racism and sexism still very powerful.

And we shouldn't ignore that and the bold choice that Joe Biden made in picking Kamala Harris. And you can see the sort of energy surprise and in many ways a sort of relief, it's about time, from a lot of people Van was talking about online.

[18:15:07] And, certainly, I think all around the country, women of color are saying they have toiled in the fields, both literally in this country, and then in the fields of the Democratic Party, right, for decades, in pushing this party over the top, whether you think about Joe Biden's candidacy, or Barack Obama's candidacy, or any number of senators and governors across the country.

So, it's finally time that a woman of color get this chance. And, certainly, her hard work over this last many years in California and her rate of success has brought her to this moment.

ACOSTA: And, Jeff Zeleny, I want to turn to you, because you have been on top of this process from the very beginning.

And you have got some fresh reporting, I understand, on how this selection came together for Joe Biden.


I mean, of course, one thing that Joe Biden was doing throughout all this was essentially finding his replacement in the vice presidential role. So the guiding principle, I'm told, throughout this process -- and it complicated it at some point, because he cannot recreate the dynamic that he had with former President Barack Obama.

But I am told that President Obama and Joe Biden had many discussions throughout the course of the last several months. It was described by a person who's familiar with the process who's close to these men that the former president served as a sounding board, if you will.

He did not -- quote -- "put his thumb on the scale," in the words of a person close to the process. But he was a sounding board. He listened to all of the various things that Joe Biden was thinking.

We know there were a lot of sounding boards. Joe Biden has a lot of political friends, a lot of personal friends. So, clearly, this was something talked about.

But, at the end of the day, I am told that it came back again, yes, the historical nature of her candidacy, no question. We heard Joe Biden talk about this in February, back in the New Hampshire primary, when it was not clear at all that he was, in fact, going to win the nomination.

He said he wanted a ticket -- someone asked him at a CNN town hall what he would like in a candidate, and he said he wanted to -- if he could pick a running mate, he wanted the ticket to look essentially like his ticket looked like with Obama.

So, clearly, a woman of color, a historic choice, was essential to that. But it was also someone who was tried and tested. Joe Biden knows how difficult it is to run for president more than anyone else. He has run three times, of course. So he wanted to choose someone who was tested in this nature.

And I think David talked about this earlier. The fact that Kamala Harris went aggressively after Joe Biden at that debate last summer was actually a shining moment in the end. It did not bother Joe Biden. He's a politician. He's been around this town for a half-century, really. And he knows that -- he said he doesn't hold grudges, very similar to the relationship that he had with Obama at the very beginning.

Twelve years ago, they were not close friends at all. They barely had a relationship. So, it is that type of relationship he wants to forge with Kamala Harris. But she was not chosen to be an attack dog, not at all.

We heard the comments from President Trump there. President Trump is going to energize and perhaps unify the Democratic base. If anyone has questions about Kamala Harris' record on criminal justice or other matters, it may be President Trump who unifies them, because certainly his comments there are just the beginning of what she will experience.

But it'll be a fascinating debate, no question, between Senator Harris and Vice President Pence, when they have one this fall, Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

And, Jeff, we have some of the sound you were just mentioning. Let's play that.

And let's talk to David Axelrod about that on the other side.



JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's incredibly presumptuous for me at this stage to be talking about a running mate. And I will get killed if I get specific.

But let me tell you what, rather than who. And there's a number of incredibly qualified people. The first criteria is that I have to -- particularly in my case, because I'm older, just like with John McCain, I have to pick someone, if God forbid, something happened tomorrow, if I contracted what my son had or something like that, that the person is ready on day one to be president of the United States.

But the second criteria is, I'd very much like my administration to look like the country, like Barack and our administration looked like, black, brown, women, men, gay, straight, across the board, so it will look like the country.

As vice president, I think it would be wonderful to have a woman or a person of color as vice president. But the most important thing I have learned from my relationship with Barack, with -- I call him Barack, not president, because I don't want to confuse him with the president.


BIDEN: But at any rate, one of the things I learned is that no president in the 21st century can handle the job all by themselves. It's just too much that lands on your plate.

So, you have got to be prepared to turn over significant responsibility, as the president did with me on matters relating to a whole range of issues, and turn it over and run it from beginning to end.


But I know one thing. You have got to be on the same page. Whomever I pick, man, woman, whoever it is, has to agree with my strategic vision for the country. We can disagree on tactic, but unless you agree -- and they can be totally trustworthy, but if they don't agree on strategically where you are, it's impossible to say, here, you take this responsibility with regard to Ukraine, you take care of it, and just do it.

You have to know you're on the same page. So, that's the first criteria I know has to exist, no matter who you pick.


ACOSTA: And that's Joe Biden from our CNN town hall on February 5.

David Axelrod, there's kind of a through line, isn't there, between the Obama/Biden candidacy and this Biden/Harris candidacy, first African-American president to the first potentially African-American female vice president.

He is a -- he's the bridge between two history-making tickets.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is absolutely no doubt about that.

And I'm sure that that played into his decision. I was interested in the first part of his answer, where he said, it's most important that this person can be seen as ready to take the job on day one.

This was something that came through, I understand, in their research when they were doing some voter research on what people's expectations were for a vice president. And what they learned was that Kamala Harris passed that test. People feel that, as a U.S. senator, as someone who was the attorney general of the largest state, and particularly as someone they saw on the stage running for president of the United States, that she was ready, that she was prepared to take this job.

She answered that particular call. The second thing is, Jeff talked about his consultations with President Obama. I can tell you, from our own vice presidential deliberations, that one of the things that appealed to him about Joe Biden was that he had run for president and that he understood the maelstrom that is a presidential campaign.

He -- President Obama did not want to throw anyone into the deep water who hadn't experienced the frenzy of running for president and the media pressures of running for president. And I'm sure that that is advice that he passed along to Vice

President Biden as he was considering his choice. Kamala Harris has that experience. She did not win, but neither did Joe Biden back in 2008. But she had the experience of the pressure that comes with running for the highest office in the land, and, therefore, she is more prepared to run for vice president.

Finally, the fact that he mentioned Senator McCain, remember, John McCain, who was 73, and had had melanoma, chose Sarah Palin for vice president. That turned out to be a terribly damaging decision for him in that campaign, when she came up wanting.

So, Biden understands that people are going to be looking this vice president differently, this vice presidential candidate differently, because they are someone who could, if need be, called upon to take over and may well be the candidate for president in 2024, when Biden will be 81 years old and unlikely to run.

Finally, I'd say, Jim, that tension is something that is going to have to be monitored going forward by the both of them, because Kamala Harris will not only be an incoming vice president, but she will also be the putative front-runner for president in 2024 the moment she takes office.

And how you process issues -- Vice President Biden said there, I want someone who's on the same page.

But, sometimes, the politics of a decision are difficult. And if you're thinking about the next election, that can be a very tough choice. So they're going to have to work that through. But, obviously, he's satisfied himself that she has and they have the ability to work those things through together.

ACOSTA: Dana Bash, I think David Axelrod teed you up perfectly, mentioning the Sarah Palin candidacy for vice president back in 2008.

You covered that campaign like nobody else. How -- what kind of contrast do you see between Kamala Harris being selected by Joe Biden and that McCain-Palin ticket?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my goodness, how much time do we have left, Jim?


BASH: Where do we start?

ACOSTA: Didn't mean to sandbag you there.

BASH: Yes. No, no.

I mean, look, there -- it's like a completely different universe, for so many reasons. The most important was -- is what David was just talking about. Kamala Harris has been in the arena. She ran for president. She ran for Senate from a huge state and won. She is not somebody who has not been on the national stage, as

governor from Alaska, and is not meant for -- to be picked for -- to shore up a base that Joe Biden doesn't have, which is what John McCain did with Sarah Palin. And she wasn't picked for the sort of shock value.


I know Nia, understandably, kind of doesn't agree with the notion that Kamala Harris is a safe pick, because you can't call anybody who is of color, never mind a woman of color, in America, no matter we're in 2020 or not, a safe pick, and that is totally understandable.

But given where we are, and given the fact that Senator Harris has been tested, given the fact that there isn't anything that seems to be completely egregious that could be a real talking point for Republicans, that could give people who are learning about Senator Harris for the first time pause, that does put her in the safer category than others who he was considering.

And there are things that we just don't know that the Biden campaign learned through the vetting process of others that they were considering.

The one other thing I want to say, Jim, is that I just think we need to call out, again, the fact that the first adjective that President Trump used about Kamala Harris is nasty.

I mean, this is exactly what the Biden campaign expected, I'm sure, no matter if this was a woman of color or not. We knew it was going to be a woman. That's the word that he uses to describe women when he's trying to demean them.

But the other thing is that President Trump played right into the Biden message with this rollout, which is: I can't believe he would choose somebody who was so nasty and mean to him.

And the whole message from team Biden is already, that's exactly the point, that Joe Biden is such a different person than Donald Trump, because Trump would never even consider picking somebody who was that -- quote, unquote -- "nasty" to him. And Joe Biden is trying to -- is getting over -- has gotten over it, to the point where he gave her the most important job and he made the most important decision on her of his candidacy so far.

ACOSTA: That is an excellent point.

And, Van Jones, I just want to ask you about this -- this comment from Nia-Malika Henderson that Kamala Harris is not a safe pick. What do you make of that conversation, Van, whether Kamala Harris is a safe pick?

Does it say something about where we are as a country now that an African-American woman would be seen as a safe pick by some?

JONES: Well, I think it does. But she is correct, in that whenever somebody is doing something that has never been done before, there's a reason it hadn't been done before, because there were forces arrayed, there were stereotypes in people's mind.

When you say vice president, you don't think of an African-American woman, unless maybe it's a movie or something like that. So, it's uncharted waters.

What I will say, though, is that this -- I remember when Bill Clinton picked Al Gore. And he had a lot of people he could have picked from, but when you actually put those two names together, those two faces together, there was something there that just worked.

And I think that now that he's made this pick, there's something about these two that just work. They're tough in different ways. Their strengths are complementary. But you could go to bed knowing for sure that, if Kamala Harris is given an assignment, no matter how tough it is, she's going to deliver.

And if she ever has to be president of the United States, you could sleep like a baby. Putin is not going to be messing with Kamala Harris. Putin is not going to -- she's not that kind of a person. And so you have got -- you have a kind of a toughness that's a tender- hearted toughness from Biden.

You have a different kind of toughness from her. But this is a tough ticket now. And I think that African-Americans in particular have played such an outsized role in this whole process. It was African- Americans that rescued Biden in the first place, when his campaign was failing.

African-American women and the allies of African-American women stood up very strong and said, this time, you have got to give a sister a chance. You have too many qualified black women to be able to just overlook them.

And so you have African-Americans showing, I think, a level of determination, a level of discernment in who this ticket should be. African-Americans helped to pick, I think, a ticket that does look and feel a lot like Obama/Biden.

And I think you can now begin to unlock the Obama/Biden coalition once again. But I'm going to tell you, I was very, very concerned that we were going to have to try to explain to the African-American women who have held this party up and held this party together so many times that, you're just not good enough.

And when you have a Donna Brazile and other people who are champions and warriors in this party saying, not this time, guys, not this time, give one of us a chance, all of -- a bunch of African-American men, Diddy, Charlamagne tha God and others, got behind that effort, because they were right.


And I think they're going to proving it right in November.

ACOSTA: Very interesting, Van.

And I want to turn now to Arlette Saenz because she also covers the Biden campaign. And so it's a job that's bigger than one correspondent that can handle it. But I want to turn to Arlette because she has some new reporting on what we're going to be seeing tomorrow in terms of this ticket, you know, out there in the flesh as one team. Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. Tomorrow, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be here in Wilmington, Delaware, appearing for the first time as the Democratic ticket. We're told that they will be holding an event delivering remarks tomorrow. We're still waiting to hear the exact timing and location of that. And then they're going to hold that virtual grassroots fundraiser, trying to take their message directly to their supporters on their first day together as the Democratic ticket.

And this will be the first time that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are campaigning together in person since March. In fact, Biden's last major campaign rally was held in Detroit right before coronavirus brought traditional campaigning to a standstill. And Biden stood on a stage in Detroit in March with Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and also Senator Cory Booker. And he talked about how he views himself as the bridge to the next generation. That is something that we are clearly seeing with his pick today.

And also, in announcing Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden also made a nod to his late son, Beau Biden, who served with Kamala Harris, both were attorneys general in their states. And they developed a friendship and a relationship. And Biden in that email announcing Kamala Harris as his pick talked about how his son, Beau's, opinion really mattered. And that factored into his decision as he chose Harris as his running mate.

One thing that Biden clearly has been looking to replicate is his relationship with President Obama. And even if Biden and Harris are not personally close to begin with, he sees that possible long-term potential with Harris as well.

So, tomorrow, we will be seeing the two of them as the Democratic presidential candidate and the Democratic vice presidential candidate here in Wilmington. And Biden also was part of a historic administration serving alongside the first African-American president and he's hoping, if elected, he'll be serving with the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you for that.

I want to go back to Jeff Zeleny and sort of reset the story here because we have this breaking news, Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris as his running mate for the Democratic ticket for 2020. And I want to pick up a little bit on what Arlette was just talking about a few moments ago, Jeff, and how he mentioned Beau Biden, his son, Beau Biden, who died from cancer in making this selection of Kamala Harris, also has served as attorney general in California. I remember when Joe Biden decided not to run in 2016. And he was talking about how he didn't have the emotional fuel to run because he was mourning the death of his son. And just the arc of Joe Biden's political career to bring him to this moment, it's quite a story, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And you're absolutely right, that today, the summer of 2015, when Joe Biden, the vice president, stood in the rose garden. I think you were in the rose garden, I was on the north lawn when this was happening and he decided not the run. Of course, Hillary Clinton was already running.

But the Beau Biden thread that Arlette was just talking about there is so key. There is no one who is more of a present figure who is driving Joe Biden's decision to run for president, and in his hope, defeat the sitting president, than Beau Biden. He is doing it for Beau.

So I think that there's no question that for all the history making nature of Senator Harris absolutely true for all her experience on the campaign trail, absolutely true. It is that connection with Beau Biden that certainly, I think, eased over or paved over any complications, if there were, any or lingering bad feelings there.

But I think, going forward, I mean, as we reset the process here, it's kind of ending where it was beginning. You know, it was widely assumed that Senator Harris would be one of the leading contenders. She was. But I'm told the former vice president did a serious and thorough search. The Biden campaign said -- they wanted to be clear that almost a dozen women, 11 specifically, were thoroughly vetted here in the process. There were senators. There were members of the House. There were mayors. So there was a serious process.

And we are told the former vice president sat down face-to-face and remotely with several of these candidates, having a one-on-one discussion, trying to find that governing partner. So it is at the end of the day, he had a pretty good sense of Senator Harris. He was on the debate stage with her and he was on a campaign trail with her.

He didn't know some of these other figures as well, like Gretchen Whitmer. Exactly an example of that, the Michigan governor who he had fly in sort of at the last minute.


A bit of a trial balloon, I think, to see how she would fair, but it was clear it would be difficult to not pick a woman of color here and someone who was tested on the stage. So this is ending here with Senator Harris, you know, where many people thought the process would begin. But now, this is going to be a partnership that is going to start anew and building.

And as David Axelrod knows very well, better than anyone on this panel, the relationship with Barack Obama and Joe Biden was very different 12 years ago at this point than when they left the White House. So that is what Joe Biden wants to build, a partnership, and that takes work, of course. But he certainly sees something in her and that's why he picked her.

ACOSTA: Yes, and that's right. Obama and Biden forged a very close relationship when they were in office together. Indeed, Jeff.

And, Nia, let's go back and talk about how -- I mean, this is the third time that this has happened, Geraldine Ferraro back in 1984, Sarah Palin back in 2008, and now, Kamala Harris. To have a woman on a presidential ticket, it is worth pausing and reflecting on.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And, of course, Hillary Clinton was famously, in 2016, on the top of the ticket. All of these instances ended up not working out well for these candidates, Hillary Clinton worse in 2016. Geraldine Ferraro was savaged in many ways. She was called arrogant. She was called everything but a child of God and a lot of that had to do about sexism.

And then Sarah Palin, a question for any number of reasons, or she wouldn't be qualified. People wondered about who would take care of her kids or would she be the vice president. People talked about her clothing, that she spent too much money on her clothing. And, obviously, Hillary Clinton faced some of those same comments in 2016, the idea that somehow her laugh was off putting and maybe fake or something.

So I think you'll see the same kind of forces and comments raid against Harris. But, again, she has been on the national stage. She has been on the stage in California, this really huge state with a very vibrant Democratic Party and managed to work her way up to this position, not an easy feat for an African-American woman, an Indian American woman as well, but she managed obviously to do that.

And you see in Donald Trump, somebody who's so used to using a kind of race baiting language and sexist language. You see him going to his playbook, a playbook that worked so well for him in 2018 against Hillary Clinton. You see him going against Kamala Harris in that same way in some of his comments. And you imagine you'll see some of that as well from other folks in the party and will generally, just the culture as well. The culture is sort of primed to be racist, it's primed to be sexist.

So I think it will be interesting to see some of the conversation that comes out of this very historic pick.

ACOSTA: And, David Chalian, you are looking at these polls that are coming out daily. And I suppose there were -- there was a lot of talk about, you know, which running mate would have affected the polls in various ways.

One of the things I think we're picking up on is how Kamala Harris might help Joe Biden bolster, you know, that independent vote out there, or at least keep it from spraying back towards the Trump-Pence ticket. How do you see Kamala Harris as being an asset for this ticket just looking at these polls and these battleground states like a blue wall that Trump took back in 2016? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, there's no doubt. By the way, this was a part of the Harris primary strategy. Obviously, it didn't work out for her. But suburban women, some of the independent women that you're talking about, that was a key target of the Harris campaign. They saw some real appeal that she had with those voters.

But I think it was Van Jones, Jim, that was saying earlier as you were talking about sort of the bridge that Joe Biden has between the first African-American president, Barack Obama, and now the first female African-American major party nominee on the ticket here as the vice presidential pick, and Joe Biden as the link there.

And I think Van said, to unlock the Obama-Biden coalition again -- and I do think we've seen Joe Biden's strength with some parts of the electorate that Donald Trump needs and had in 2016, older voters. You mentioned independent voters. Even some of the white working class voters that are the bread and butter of Donald Trump's base have peeled away a little bit.

But I think here, adding Harris to the ticket, there's going to be a real push to get back to that Obama coalition and see if not only can Joe Biden ride this wave of negativity towards Trump that is such a motivator for Democrats wanting him out of office and actually turbo- charge some of the non-white voters, younger voters, traditional pieces of the Democratic base to a higher place than we see them right now for Joe Biden.


ACOSTA: Okay, David. And thanks to all of you for that great discussion on this historic pick in much more news, breaking news, had Joe Biden picking Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Next, I'll get reaction from the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. She is standing by. She, herself, was a contender for the V.P. slot and she's reached out and congratulated Kamala Harris for being on this ticket. We'll talk to her straight ahead.



ACOSTA: And let's get more reaction to Joe Biden's choice of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. We're joined by the Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who was a potential VP pick.

And, Mayor, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

You tweeted your congratulations to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden on what you say is a fantastic and historic ticket. What was your reaction when you learned that Biden had selected Harris?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, of course, when I spoke with the vice president earlier today, I was disappointed that it was not me, but when I saw that it was Senator Harris, I was beyond thrilled. He made a fantastic choice, and it just speaks volumes to how much he values the diversity in our country and he hinted at that when we spoke earlier today.

So I'm pleased. I'm very proud for our country, and just looking forward to the Biden and Harris team being victorious in November.

ACOSTA: And, Mayor, if you don't mind me prying, what was that conversation with the former vice president like?

BOTTOMS: It was a great conversation. I didn't know I would be getting the call to say --


BOTTOMS: -- that it was me or if it would be the one to thank me for my time, and obviously, it was the one to thank you me for my time, but it was a bit more in depth than that. I endorsed the vice president over a year ago. So I've been team Biden for a long time and now I'm team Biden/Harris.

And I just expressed to him my gratitude just to be a part of this team and what it means to America. And so we had a very personal conversation, but it was a very good conversation.

ACOSTA: And did he mention during the call that it would be Kamala Harris?

BOTTOMS: I did not ask who it was and he did not tell me who it was, but there were a couple of things that he said during the course of our conversation, I thought that it might be Senator Harris or Congresswoman Bass. Not because of anything in particular that he said about the women, but it was something, there was something that he mentioned that made me think it might be one of them.

ACOSTA: And you mentioned that there was a personal, there's a personal nature to the call. You care to get into that at all as to how that conversation went?

BOTTOMS: Well, you know, again, I've been a big part of the Biden team for a very long time. And our conversations are often very personal. And, of course, he's been grateful for the support that I've given to the campaign. But more than that, I'm grateful that he is putting himself out to serve as president of the United States and grateful that Senator Harris is willing to serve as president.

We need this ticket in America. We need to show to America that our president will value diversity. And there's no better representative than that than Senator Harris. So we talk about all of those things and more.

ACOSTA: And I don't know if you saw President Trump's comments about Kamala Harris, but he referred to her at one point as being nasty. What is your reaction to that?

BOTTOMS: That's typical Donald Trump. He doesn't have better words to describe someone who's of great courage and intelligence. And so, he would have to go to name-calling. That's what little people do and that's what he'll do through November.

But we've seen Senator Harris at her finest. We've seen her on the debate stage. We've seen her take on the Trump administration and I'm sure he is -- he is not pleased that she is a part of this ticket.

ACOSTA: And have you spoken with Senator Harris at this point about being selected?

BOTTOMS: I have not spoken with her. I assume that she's pretty busy right now. So I did tweet my congratulations, but I do hope to speak with her at some point soon.

ACOSTA: And, Mayor, wanted to ask you because Kamala Harris is now going to be the first African-American woman as a vice presidential running mate on a ticket, presidential ticket in this country, what does that mean to you? What does that mean to women and girls all across the country, particularly women of color? African-American women, as we've been told time and again and as we know looking at our history, they're a real pillar of the Democratic Party. What does this selection mean to you?

BOTTOMS: I immediately thought of my 9-year-old daughter and what this will mean to her. To look at television and see someone who reflects all that we encourage our girls to be and that's someone who is courageous and someone who works hard, someone who's obviously intelligent and well-studied and someone who cares and is willing to put themselves out to serve others.


And so it makes me proud. But I think more than that, it should make our country proud that there will be representation at the highest office that represents who we are as a diverse people and what we value as a country. So, I'm very proud of this ticket, and looking forward to supporting this ticket through victory.

ACOSTA: And if they win in November, would you be interested in serving in a Biden-Harris administration?

BOTTOMS: You know, this has been quite a ride. This process has been going on for several months now. So, I'm just going to take today to decompress.

This will probably be the best night sleep that I've had since a very long time. And we'll consider that when it becomes an option. But right now this is about winning in November. And for this team to win means that all of America --

ACOSTA: OK, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the feed cut out there in just the last second. But thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

And just ahead, we'll have more to say about this historic selection, the breaking news here at CNN,. We'll have more on all of that just ahead.



ACOSTA: And we're following breaking news on Joe Biden's historic selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Let me go first to Jeff Zeleny as we wrap things up here.

Jeff, you've got some new reporting on how this went down?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We do, indeed, Jim. As this announcement was being made, we wondered how exactly the offer was made to Senator Harris.

So, we are learning some new information tonight from a Biden campaign official who says about 90 minutes before the announcement was visually made through the -- via text message, Joe Biden reached out to Senator Harris. They talked via remote connection. They were not face to face. They were talking remotely.

The job was offered and, of course, it was accepted. We saw the photograph of that. It was released by the campaign. They were talking on Zoom and some other type of software. That is when the announcement was made, about 90 minutes before the formal announcement.

Then the former vice president spent his time calling others who did not make it, as you know, the Atlanta mayor who you just spoke to. But, Jim, this really wraps up the process. It puts a bow on what had been a three- or four-month-long process of really looking into the backgrounds and categories of so many women. It ended as many people thought it began, picking Senator Harris because she's been tested and her candidacy would be historic -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And, Dana Bash, these two contenders, these two contenders, they have had chemistry before they needed to have chemistry. That's one of the things that also seems to be the case with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they definitely have had words, but they have known each other for a long time. More specifically, Kamala Harris has known the Biden family. She knew his son Beau very well which the former vice president made clear in a number of ways as he made his announcement and his pick out there and he let it be known.

I just think that this is, as we button it up, we have to say over and over again, we knew it was going to be a woman. We didn't know for sure if it was going to be a woman of color, and it is. And she is half Jamaican, half Indian, and we've talked a lot about African- Americans in America and how they're looking up and seeing somebody who looks like them more than they've ever seen before from the female point of view.

And the other thing is Indian Americans also are looking at her and saying, wow, we're represented there too.

ACOSTA: Final thoughts, Nia-Malika Henderson?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, we'll see where this goes. We'll have the roll out tomorrow from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in this picture that we have never seen before of an Indian-American woman, an African-American woman, as Dana said, with Jamaican roots. Often it has been Caribbean-Americans who have been barrier breakers. You think about Shirley Chisholm for instance who has roots in Barbados.

So, we'll see. We'll see if Kamala Harris takes to this role as being this vice presidential nominee and what kind of energy she brings to this process. Again, I think she understands this moment, understands social media and culture in a way that Joe Biden doesn't. So, I think it'll be interesting to see what kind of moments she's able to create, the kind of buzz she generates, because that's been what she's been able to do so far on the national stage and obviously fighting her way through California politics to reach this moment.

ACOSTA: And we're going to look at these two candidates together tomorrow. It's going to be fascinating to watch. A historic day no matter how you look at it. Joe Biden selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate, we'll all be watching tomorrow as those two candidates are on the same stage.

And I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching.

Our breaking news continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".