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State of the Union

North Korea Fires Test Missile; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Trump: Strong Economy Means Dems Can't Beat Me In 2020; President Trump's Obsession With Joe Biden In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 05, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Friend or foe. North Korea fires off a new missile test, but President Trump says he still trusts Kim Jong-un.

And the president passes on the chance to warn Vladimir Putin against interfering in the next election.


TAPPER: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar responds in moments.

And playing to win. Democratic voters zero in on electability, but what makes a candidate most electable? The former Newark mayor makes his pitch.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here in Newark, we refuse to wait.

TAPPER: How would Senator Cory Booker's approach to turning around Newark work across the United States?

Democratic presidential candidate Booker joins us next.

Plus, economic high -- the local unemployment rate since 1969.

TRUMP: When we have an economy that maybe is the best economy we have ever had, people tend to like you.

TAPPER: But that isn't reflected in the president's approval rating. How will the economy affect the 2020 race?


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is seeing double.

President Trump is in Washington this morning dealing with two political realities.

On the domestic front, the president and the U.S. got excellent economic news Friday. Unemployment hit 3.6 percent. That's the lowest since 1969. But President Trump remains quite unpopular with the American people at large.

And on the world stage, he's on defense over his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un after North Korea launched multiple test missiles on Saturday.

The president is also facing criticism over an hour-long phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the president says he discussed the Mueller report, but not Russian election interference. And the president contradicted his top foreign policy officials by restating Putin's claim that Russia is not involved in Venezuela as if it's a fact.

All of this is setting up a difficult dynamic for Democrats, as they take on the president in 2020. Is it the economy, stupid, as the old James Carville trope goes? Or, in the era of Trump, will the election be decided on other factors?

This morning, we're going to bring to you two exclusive interviews with 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

We went to Newark, New Jersey, for a special sit-down with Senator Cory Booker in his home city and state.

But I want to begin with 2020 presidential candidate and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, joining me now from her home state of Minnesota.

Senator Klobuchar, let's start with the strong economic news out on Friday. The economy added more than a quarter-million jobs, better than economists expected. Unemployment is at its lowest level in almost 50 years. Wages grew faster than prices did.

Do you give President Trump the credit?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I give our workers and our businesses the credit, Jake.

When you're out there across the country, you see people working harder and harder every day. And this has meant that we are -- our businesses are strong, and we're selling American goods.

That being said, a lot of people aren't sharing in this prosperity because of the costs, the cost of college, the cost of health care, the fact that the president had promised that he would bring down the prices of their prescription drugs, and that just hasn't happened.

So, when you get out there and you see the energy out there and the concern, talk to farmers who are trying to sell their soybeans. There are people out there that are not sharing in this economic prosperity. And it's not fair. And it's not the American way.

So, while we attribute a lot of this to our workers and to our businesses, we know we can do better as a country.

TAPPER: Unemployment is the lowest it's been since I was nine months old. You're really not going to give President Trump any credit for that in terms of his tax cuts or deregulation or anything he's done?

KLOBUCHAR: You know what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about, when we were in that downturn, and President Obama came into office, and he had to deal with that, with the Congress, to try to, one, right the financial industry, and then, two, get us on the road to recovery.

And I remember that the Republicans were giving him grief when he took any credit for that. So, I think that we have had policies in place, starting with President Obama, that have aided that recovery.

But what I believe is that we should be governing from opportunity and not chaos. And my problem with President Trump, and I think the problem you're seeing from the citizens of this country when you mention those numbers and what's happening is, they see chaos every day.

They wake up in the morning, and they see a mean tweet, or they see some inconsistent policy that causes chaos during the day. They want to have a leader that their kids can look up to.

TAPPER: North Korea test-fired multiple projectiles this weekend. Here's how the president responded on Twitter -- quote -- "Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong- un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen."


What do you make of that, Senator? And if you are elected president, would you be willing to meet with Kim Jong-un?

KLOBUCHAR: I would always be willing to meet with leaders to discuss policies.

But my problem with how President Trump has handled this is not that he's had meetings. It's that there isn't a plan and there isn't a real negotiation tactic. And he is not working with our allies as he should.

Maybe he should listen to Otto Warmbier's mother, who just this last week talked about the fact that we should be upping the sanctions and putting more pressure on Kim Jong-un.

I don't see this as a victory that he launched these test missiles. I don't see that as a victory at all. And I also don't believe we should be conducting our foreign policy by tweet. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but you have got to quietly work, and you have got to have summits that produce results where you don't -- just don't fly over, get no result, and come home.

TAPPER: Senator, you said on CNN this week that -- quote -- "We have another presidential election coming up, and this president has every reason not to protect that election" -- unquote.

What do you mean by that? Are you suggesting that President Trump wants foreign election interference in 2020?

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, we have ample evidence that he has not been responding to protect our election security.

And you know what Russia may have done? They didn't use a tank, they didn't use a missile, but they used a computer, and they invaded our democracy all the same.

And, in the past, he's used the word meddle. Well, meddling is what my -- I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night. This was actually an invasion of our democracy, OK? This isn't asking your kid, oh, what are you doing tonight? This is an invasion of our democracy.

So, when I look at...

TAPPER: But you're saying he wants -- he wants that again?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't know what he wants. All I know is, he's not acting like the leader to protect our national security, because, if he wanted to do that, his administration wouldn't be stopping the Secure Elections Act in its tracks.

They made calls from the White House when my bill with Senator Lankford was headed to the floor. They wanted to stop that bill that would have required to get assistance from the federal government for election equipment. It would have required backup paper ballots.

Multiple states do not have backup paper ballots. It would have required auditing. It would have required better information-sharing. We now know that his own homeland security secretary was told not to talk to him about the threat to this election.

We know that his own FBI director has said that 2018 was a dress rehearsal and that Russia is going to try this again. His director of intelligence said that they're getting bolder.

All of this happens, and what does he do? He goes and coddles up to Vladimir Putin again, has a little nice talk with him, and never even brings this up, according to his own press secretary.

That is wrong. And he then makes it worse by calling it a hoax.

TAPPER: I follow you on Twitter, and I saw...

KLOBUCHAR: I think we need to protect our nation's security.

And, as Martin -- as Marco Rubio said, you know, one time, it was one party, and the next time, it will be the other.

TAPPER: I follow you on Twitter, and I noticed that you said that voters ask you much more about the opioid crisis in this country than they do about Robert Mueller. You have just unveiled a new $100 billion plan to fight drug addiction

and fully fund mental health care. The Trump administration, I should note, has also taken strides in combating opioids, including declaring a public health emergency, signing bipartisan legislation in October. U.S. attorneys are now suing pharmaceuticals.

Do you think the Trump administration deserves any praise for their efforts on this issue?

KLOBUCHAR: They have done some good things, and I have worked with them on that.

But the point is, everywhere I go across this country, I don't think there's been a town hall meeting where someone didn't ask me about mental health or drug addiction.

And, by the way, Jake, it's not just opioids. Ask people who live in our black communities what's going on here. It is also meth. It is also cocaine. All right?

And what is going on here right now is that we have got people that don't know where to go for help. One out of two Americans have addiction in their family or with their close friends. One out of five Americans have a mental health problem.

And, for me, this is personal. My own dad struggled with alcoholism my whole life growing up. He got two DWIs in the '70s, and nothing happened. By the '90s, he was facing a choice of jail or treatment. He chose treatment. And, in his own words, he was pursued by grace.

And that was because of his faith, and that was because of treatment and our family and his friends. And so I think every American should have that right to be pursued by grace.

That means enough beds in this country for people with mental health problems if they're facing a crisis. That means doing something about our mounting suicide rate for farmers, for veterans, for LGBTQ youth.

And that means, instead of just talking about this, actually putting the money into treatment.


And I have a proposal that's paid for by, yes, 2 cents-per-milligram fee on these opioid pharma companies that have made tons of money off the backs of people who got addicted. And you can use that money for not just opioids. You can also use it for these other drugs, as well as mental health.

It means making sure, on the road to recovery, that you have got a job and you have got a place to live. And there are so many people in this country that are crying out for help. And we have made this transition away from the mental health institutions for good reasons.

But then we didn't replace it with anything. And I also have a background from the criminal justice system. And I can -- I know what happens when people don't get help.

TAPPER: Lastly, Senator -- and, quickly, if you can -- the front- runner in your 2020 primary race, former Vice President Joe Biden, hit the trail in South Carolina for the first time this weekend.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are already pointing to major policy differences they have with the vice president. Where have you disagreed with Joe Biden?

KLOBUCHAR: I'm looking forward to the debates to talk about that. I think he's just launched his campaign.

But I can tell you where I'm coming from, Jake. I am someone who's running from the heartland. I'm someone who is taking on the issues of our time, whether it is the infrastructure proposal I put out there. I was the first candidate to put out a fully-paid-for infrastructure proposal.

I'm someone that is taking on this mental health and addiction issue. And I have been fighting on farmer prices my whole life. So, I'm looking forward to the debates with all of the candidates, and so we can air out our differences. And I think you're going to find also that there's a lot more that unites the Democrats that are running than divides us.

The key is that we need a leader in the White House -- and I believe I am that person -- who can unite this country, who can bring us to a better place in our politics, and start governing from opportunity, instead of chaos.

TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, thank you so much. Appreciate your time this morning.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Jake. It's great to be on.

TAPPER: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is telling her party to stay in the center to beat President Trump in 2020. But is that what the Democratic presidential candidates are doing?

My exclusive interview with Senator Cory Booker, another 2020 candidate, next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker just qualified to join his fellow Democrats on the debate stage this summer. And he's pitching himself not only on his record as a U.S. senator, but as the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

So, we went to Newark and sat down with Senator Booker in his home to talk about the city's turnaround and his White House bid.


TAPPER: The jobs report came out Friday, half-a-million new jobs added.

The last time the unemployment rate was this low, I was nine months old; you were eight months old.


TAPPER: 1969.


TAPPER: How do you make a pitch to voters, the economy's thriving, let's get rid of the president?

BOOKER: You don't need to make a pitch. Listen to voters.

When you walk around my block, you ask people if the numbers that Donald Trump touts are really making a difference in their lives. You have people on my block -- I'm the only presidential candidate that lives in a low-income inner-city neighborhood.

Talk to folks, and they'll tell you: "I have to work two jobs just to try to keep myself in housing. And, by the way, that housing isn't reflected in any of my family."

Americans are struggling. Their wages are too low, are decades low -- for the last four decades, I don't think they've budged that much.

TAPPER: They went up -- they've gone up 3 percent, which is more than it ever went up during Obama.

BOOKER: But again, tell -- tell -- first of all, Obama -- I love that Trump is taking credit for a recovery that started under Obama.

But the substance of this -- who is this economy going to work for? And we had a tax plan that was all about giving the wealthiest people more -- more of a break.

My vision for this country is that we will target things like a massive increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to actual workers. We've got to make sure that this is a shared recovery, because, right now, it definitely is not.

TAPPER: What do you say to somebody who says, yes, I'm not crazy about Trump, but the economy has done so much better, and Republicans keep telling me, the Democratic nominee is going to raise my taxes, and he is talking about raises taxes, so that might hurt the economy, that might hurt my bottom line?

What's the counterargument to that?

BOOKER: Look, I think that we live in a nation with far more patriotism than people are expressing. And what I mean by that is, folks want the best for their country. And they know that if your family doesn't have a great public school for your kids, if your family does not have great access to health care, then we all are suffering as a result of that, and often creating greater costs.

As the chief executive of a city, I saw that us treating addiction and mental illness with jail and hospital emergency rooms was a far more expensive way to do this.

And so I'm going to run a campaign that speaks to all of America. I don't think Democrats should be defined by just beating Republicans. We should be defined by uniting Americans. And this is a moment where, across this country, from farm towns to factory towns, from cities to suburbs, we have so much common pain, where Americans are seeing, from the cost of prescription drugs, the cost of college, that we are all hurting because we have not designed an economy that invests in each other.

TAPPER: Let's talk about education, because you just raised that.

When you were mayor of Newark, you pushed public charter schools a lot. This was a big part of your tenure here as mayor. You even worked with the DeVos family. I know you voted against her for education secretary, but you worked a lot with her.

Are you still part of the public charter school movement? Is that still part of who you are?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I take issue with saying I worked with the DeVos family. I worked with Newark residents to design a system that worked for us, local solutions, because if you lived where I live, right down from the street from where the projects stood that I lived in to -- lived in for almost a decade, and you listen to the anguish of parents, to live in a country where it is so divided amongst educational destinies, that we have desperate parents for anything.

They often would use fake addresses in suburban neighborhoods within a mile or two from Newark borders. And those communities would have private investigators who would follow you around and remove often black and brown kids and send them back to failing schools.


The folks here, we went door to door, polling. We all agreed on a strategy that was overwhelmingly popular for solutions that worked for us. And now we are the number one school system in America for beat- the-odds schools, high poverty leading to high performance, sending kids to college.

If you were a black kid during my tenure, from 2006 until now, your chances of going to a high-performing school went up 300, 400 percent, schools that beat the suburbs.

TAPPER: Am I hearing you wrong, though? It seems like you're reluctant to say that you're part of the public charter school movement still.

BOOKER: I'm -- have always said I will fight for the kids that are too often ignored in our country.

And so you're -- you can put any way you want, Jake, but when you're a mayor of a city, as a former chief executive, you find the solutions that worked. And high-performing charter schools was part of our larger solution of getting every kid there. And I stand by that and continue to do.

But, at the end of the day, charters right now are 3 percent of all of public schools? We need to have a president who has a vision for all families, all districts, and make sure they create solutions.

By the way, I don't think the federal government should be dictating what localities have done. We tried that under Bush with No Child Left Behind.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

BOOKER: Highly prescriptive.

TAPPER: Can I get some clarity on an issue having to do with Medicare for all?


TAPPER: Because you talked about health care, too.

You are a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all bill, which, essentially, will ultimately get rid of private health insurance for everything except for extraneous things like cosmetic surgery.

But you have said that you favor a health plan that does not do away with private insurance. So, are you supporting a bill that you don't believe in? I don't understand exactly...


Well, look, again, as a guy who had to run a city that was in crisis when I took it over, you don't let your sort of purity of what you're looking for undermine urgent results needed right now for the people in your community.

They don't have time to wait for us to get to a point years down the road. And so I think we have the most inefficient system on the planet Earth. We spend almost 20 percent of our GDP, about 18 percent, for the worst results of the industrial nations.

We have lots of people taking profits off of this system. Remember, all that expenditures that we're doing, trillions of dollars, are not going to patient care. We have a system that's designed more towards the back end of problems, when they're more expensive, the hospital emergency room, dealing with things when they become acute, not dealing with them in the preventative care, early detection, early intervention. So, this system is broken.

TAPPER: Right, but do you support Medicare for all?

BOOKER: I stand by supporting Medicare for all, but I'm also that pragmatist that, when I'm chief executive of the country, like I was, I'm going to find the immediate things that we can do, because I'm telling you right now, we're not going to pull health insurance from 150 Americans who have private insurance who like their insurance, my union friends, brothers and sisters, who have negotiated for their health insurance.

It's going to have to be a pathway to getting there that is going to start with the commonsense things that can unite Americans.

TAPPER: With all due respect, Senator, that's not what this bill does that you co-sponsored. The bill...

BOOKER: And, Jake, we're friends long enough to say that, whenever you start something with, "All due respect"...


TAPPER: You know it's trouble.

BOOKER: I know it's trouble.

TAPPER: Well, the quote -- the text of the bill says -- quote -- "It shall be unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage that duplicates the benefits provided under this act."

And I just wonder -- look, you favor a pragmatic approach that doesn't go that far. And I just wondered, did you feel pressure from liberal and progressive activists, oh, you need to sign up for Medicare for all, when you actually didn't believe in it?

BOOKER: Look, I'm the guy that stood in the saddle under the most different conditions and made change because I don't bend to pressure. I focus on people.

In America, health care should be a right. That is where we need to go to. And, by the way, most Americans agree that, if you're in this nation, this wealthiest country on the planet Earth, it should be right.

Now, there's many ways that we're going to get there. I believe, now, if we're designing our system, Medicare for all is the right way to go. But I'm also realistic to say -- and you know this -- when I become president, we may have only maybe a 50/50 tie in the Senate. And my vice president, whoever she is, is going to have to get a lot of exercise going to the Senate and breaking ties.

We are going to have to do things that do -- might get me towards my goal of expanding access and lowering costs. TAPPER: You're on Senate Judiciary. The attorney general, Bill Barr, testified before your committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that he lied to Congress.

Do you agree?

BOOKER: I think that if you, number one, have seen the conduct of an attorney general, he has eroded his credibility, to the point where I believe he should resign. He has clearly misled Congress.

TAPPER: Should he be impeached?

BOOKER: I believe, right now, he should resign. And I think everything should be on the table at the end of the day.

But if you have a person that has undermined the urgent independence of the attorney general's office, who is a guy's who's literally overseeing ongoing investigations into criminal activity into this president, and you lost your ability to trust -- you clearly were trying to spin. You were acting more like Rudy Giuliani than the independent attorney general of this country. I'm definitely worried.

And then, when you read a report which is a testimony to deceit, which literally shows the -- a campaign that had multiple, dozens and dozens of contacts with a foreign adversary doing things like sharing polling information that, if any of my colleagues who are running for president did that with their own super -- with a super PAC, would be considered illegal here.


TAPPER: We will have more of my interview with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, including his personal experiences with gun violence in his Newark neighborhood coming up.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

We have more now of our exclusive interview with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker and why he says he's got the best approach to taking on Trump.


TAPPER: North Korea test-fired multiple short-range projectiles this weekend.

It's understood to be its first missile launch since late in 2017. President Trump remained optimistic on Twitter, saying, a deal will happen and that Kim Jong-un -- quote -- "knows that I am with him."

What do you make of all this? And, as president, would you be willing to meet with Kim Jong-un?

BOOKER: So, this is the problem. We have a president now that continues to mislead the American people.

You remember his deplorable tweet when he came out and said, oh, there's no need to worry about the nuclear threat from North Korea anymore. He has been much more about bluster and being braggadocios, as opposed to substantive strategy, and making sure we're checking a North Korean dictator.

And of course I will meet with our enemies, but I will meet with them under the right conditions, using every bit of leverage I have to focus in on the goal, articulating a strategy for getting there. And this is something our foreign policy has been woefully acting.

We've seen foreign policy by tweet. We've seen a president that contradicts his diplomacy corps, contradicts his military leaders, who then have to go and try to clean up for what they've done.

We have no strategy when it comes to foreign policy. And what's eroding right now is not only our position in the world, but even our alliances themselves.

And our allies, as I have these conversations as I travel internationally, are beginning to question our commitment to fundamental democratic values when you have a president that seems to buddy up with Chairman Kim or Duterte or Putin more than he's friends with people like May and Merkel and the people that are our real allies that can work with us to holding not just Russia accountable, China accountable, but these are critical allies we need in our trade deals.

These are our critical allies we're going to need if we're going to deal with global climate change. And so it's been very frustrating -- and I've heard this on both sides of the aisle from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- to have a president that has been lacking strategy, unpredictable, undermining his diplomacy corps, and even undermining his generals when it came to -- comes to things like Syria policy, where he tweets out that we're pulling out of Syria imminently.

TAPPER: There is a divide right now in the Democratic Party among the presidential candidates, between some like, Vice President Biden, who seem to see President Trump as just an aberration, and others like Bernie Sanders, who see Donald Trump as just the natural next Republican president, that he's not an aberration, that this is what Republicans now are.

Where do you come down on that? Do you see him as an aberration, or do you see him as, this is what the Republican party is now?

BOOKER: I think, as long as the conversation is about Donald Trump, as long as I can turn on my TV and coast through channels and see him being talked about in every single interview, he's winning.

I beat a machine here in Newark. There's an Oscar-nominated documentary about me challenging the machine with a charismatic leader at the top of it. And I didn't make it about him. I made it about the people. And we energized an entirely new electorate to come out, and we won.

I think we're going to be defined as a party not by what we stand against, but by what we're for. And I want my Democratic Party now not even to be defined simply as trying to beat Republicans at a time where we need to unite Americans back to a sense of common purpose and common cause.

I do not think this is a time that we need to fight fire with fire. I ran a fire department. It's not a really good strategy. I walked into one town hall, and a guy puts his arm around me and says: "I want you -- I want to punch -- I want you to punch Donald Trump in the face."

And I turned to him and said: "Hey, man, that's a felony. And us black guys, we don't normally get away with those things that often."

Let's sit down and let me tell you why the best strategy right now is doubling down on the best of who we are, not the worst, by talking about love and a beloved community, and not the kind of Twitter trash- talking and trolling that we hear from the White House right now.

And I know Donald Trump wants us to try to fight him on his turf, in his terms. What's needed right now is not more of that. We didn't beat Bull Connor by taking bigger dogs and more powerful water hoses. We -- we won that expanding the moral imagination of this whole country about who we are and who we must be going forward.


TAPPER: While we were in Newark, Senator Booker and I also took a walk in his neighborhood, where the issue of gun violence has become quite personal for him.


TAPPER: How prevalent has gun violence been in this area?

BOOKER: You're literally standing where, last year, as it was related to me, this was -- the shooter was over there with an assault rifle, killed Shahad Smith, who live with me in Brick Towers right here.

This is a -- this is not an intellectual issue to me. It's not something I read about, hear about in the news. You're standing in a community that has been plagued by gun violence. And even though my mayor, Ras Baraka, continues to drive down the rates, this section of this street was one of the most violent places in New Jersey when I first moved here.

And you live in a community where fireworks go off on the Fourth of July, kids evidence behavior of somebody with post-traumatic stress. They hide. They have anxiety.

TAPPER: They think it's a gunshot. BOOKER: They think it's gunshots -- where you see in your neighborhood shrines to children, to teenagers that were on the sidewalk, teddy bears and candles.

So, for me, this is -- I so badly want to be president because, if I'm president of the United States, I'm going to bring a fight to the NRA that they have never seen before. And I will tell you what. The people in this community know that this is not just a horrific mass shooting after horrific mass shooting.

We have mass shootings in our country in the aggregate every single day. So there's a sense of urgency I have that, every day we lose, we lose thousands of lives by not solving this problem and that there are commonsense things that even NRA members agree we should do, but we're not getting it done.


TAPPER: Is that what you're going to push for? I understand you're going to introduce some gun legislation in the next few days.

BOOKER: I'm going to come at this like folks have never seen before. I'm going to choose policy and use tactics to end this nightmare in this country.

And I come home, and I'm reminded by the survivors of shootings, by the community fabric that is still torn, because people get that one shooting in a neighborhood kills the business at a restaurant. People lose jobs. Family members lose income.

I mean, this is a problem that is at crisis levels in our country. In our lifetime -- we're the same age -- more people have died for gun violence than all the wars from the Revolutionary War now combined.

TAPPER: But what can be done? Because, first of all, the Republicans control the Senate, as you know.

And, second of all, you know this. A semiautomatic rifle that was used in this -- in this shooting, that's not typical. Usually...

BOOKER: No, it's 5 percent of all -- I'm...

TAPPER: Right. Mostly, it's handguns, right?

BOOKER: I have analyzed this more than -- I mean, this has been a part -- this cause has been a part of my life. This isn't new for me.

So, I know the levers you can pull to get pretty dramatic results. Just by having universal background checks, the murders we don't talk about enough between an intimate, like where your spouse kills you, they go down -- violence against women in that sense goes down 40 percent in states that have enacted those laws.

So there's things we can do, there are levers we can pull that can make us much, much safer. But we're not doing them. And I do not accept the excuse that we have tried before. I have seared into my mind the gruesome realities, literally with a

gunshot victim bleeding to death, as I vainly tried to stop him from dying, literally with people who grew up...

TAPPER: You were here?

BOOKER: It was not right here, no.


BOOKER: Around the corner. No, that -- I mean, that's the irony. I could sit here and name shootings of bodies I have seen on the sidewalk.

I can name Hassan Washington. I can name Shahad Smith. I can talk about the kids that I knew growing up whose lives are ended by gun violence.

And so I am -- I'm running for president many reasons. This is one, that we will get it done. We will get it done.


TAPPER: And, literally, just minutes after I finished that interview, two people were wounded in a drive-by shooting just blocks from the senator's home.

Coming up, 2020 polling shows the biggest issue for Democratic voters is electability. But do the most electable candidates end up actually proving to be the most electable? That's next.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the best numbers -- I think we have the best economy we've ever had. And we have more people, Katherine, working right now than ever in the history of our country. So I don't know why somebody beats that.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is the economy. It's always the economy, but that's not the only reason that we should elect a president or in this case retire one.


TAPPER: President Trump laying out his economic case for 2020 as Hillary Clinton says, yes, but -- what are voters going to ultimately think? Let's discuss.

How does the president's -- let me put it a different way. How do Democrats push back against the president given the fact that the economy is thriving? I get it's not working for everyone. But just on the numbers, lowest unemployment since I was nine months old. I'm 50. Like wages are rising, maybe not high enough but they are rising.

And also for people at the lowest of the income ladder. What's the argument against it?

ABDUL EL-SAYED (D), FORMER CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: There are a couple of arguments. Number one, what we're seeing here in these numbers is first an over focus on unemployment. You talked a little bit about wages rising, but not rising fast enough.

Inequality is at an all-time high. And folks -- too many folks are underemployed. They're working bad jobs that don't offer them benefits, that don't offer them living opportunities that they deserve, that don't allow them to feed their families the proper way.

And then beyond that, let's be clear, that this may be a short-term thing. If you actually look at long-term economic growth numbers, they're not all that great. And so what we're seeing is the tip of an iceberg on a system that I think has been fed a lot of early wood and in the long term will burn out.

S.E. CUPP. CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great points, all factually true. This is not a winning argument for Democrats because the fact is more people are feeling good economically than have in past administrations.

TAPPER: According to the consumer confidence level.

CUPP: Yes. And so I -- when I talk to Democrats, I tell them health care and immigration. Stick with those two issues. They are issues Trump loses on, they're issues that American care about, they're issues that are right in the wheelhouse and they're issues they won on in the last election. Don't deal with the economy and try to convince people that they're not feeling good.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's the thing. We don't have to. Monmouth poll, national, "strong economy doesn't hit home." Only 12 percent of Americans, when presented with all the facts about how the -- everything is booming, 12 percent say they feel like they've been impacted a great deal.


CUPP: Let me know when you get a chance to tell them all the facts.

FINNEY: I'm just -- if you look at the question, this says all the facts. And they say, how do you feel like you've benefited?


FINNEY: No, no. My point is, if people don't feel it in their own lives -- and Barack Obama experienced this -- it doesn't matter.

And here is the problem. This president has lost credibility on so many other issues. He keeps trying to say it's great, it's great, it's great. And people say, but my health care costs are still going up. You said you were going to do something about that. You didn't.

This plant closed.


FINNEY: You said you were going to open it and you didn't.

CUPP: -- for Democrats.

FINNEY: And so I think -- yes, let's run on the economy and let's run on the broken promises. Because again people are not feeling it and it's across the board.

TAPPER: The number one salesman for the economy is the president. Since these numbers came out Friday, the president talked about how he did not discuss election interference with Putin. He contradicted his national security advisers on whether Russia is involved with Venezuela.

On Saturday he retweeted a bunch of nut cases with Infowars and white supremacists.


And now he just tweeted something about the Kentucky derby and political correctness that I can't even follow. And he spelled Kentucky incorrectly.


TAPPER: Who is undermining the president's message on the economy more than the president?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We've discussed this. I think the president -- I like the president's chances in this race in 2020 no matter who is at the top of the ticket as long as the gravity in this debate -- in the Democratic debate tends to be very left of center, very progressive. Because those --

TAPPER: Medicare for all, Green New Deal --

URBAN: Medicare for all, Green New Deal. Allowing the Boston bomber to vote. All those things.

Abortion is going to be a big issue. All those things which are very progressive, very left of center aren't going to play well in the states that the Democrats need to capture to win the electoral college map, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin. The ideas that the Democrats are talking about play very well in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, big cities, they do terribly --


URBAN: They do terribly -- no, no, no. Pretty much -- OK, 18 out of 20 perhaps.


FINNEY: About three out of 21, three out of 21.

TAPPER: David, take a look at this -- take a look at this two CNN polls. OK?

How is Trump handling the economy? Fifty-six percent approval for Trump handling the economy.

How is -- what do you think about Trump's job as president? Fifty-two percent disapprove.

URBAN: So the numbers, again -- I'll tell you as the guy who was on the campaign, our numbers were never even 43 percent. We weren't even that --


TAPPER: So you won with numbers like that?

URBAN: We won with numbers below that. Our numbers were below that.

EL-SAYED: To be fair, let's follow Twitter into the very scary mind of this man for a second. It's clear that despite whatever economic numbers that he has he still thinks that the way to win an election is by playing to a base through this clear white supremacy and racism.

I come from a community that's been targeted quite a bit by him. And the fact of the matter is that we actually -- tomorrow will start the month of Ramadan where Muslims fast all month.

And we fast for two reasons. Number one, to remember that there are people who don't have what we have. And number two, to remember that we're accountable to something that is higher.

And the fact of the matter is I think this president could take a lot of lessons from that. Maybe he could fast with us for a day. Because the fact of the matter is he does not appreciate that there are people who don't have what he has. And that there are people to whom he's accountable.

That's the American people and he says he's a man of God. I'd love to see that in some of his actions. Stop beating up on people of color. Stop beating up on young people. Start focusing on the things that you say matter --


TAPPER: For the record, he did put out a Ramadan statement this morning. The White House did.


CUPP: Ronald Reagan had a favorite saying, you dance with the one that brung you. And there's a reason Donald Trump is retweeting white supremacists and Islamophobes and conspiracy theorists.

They brung him. He's dancing with them. And he is doubling, tripling down on this very small base that elected him.

FINNEY: We talked about that base. They elected him but they weren't the only ones who elected him. There were also a --


FINNEY: -- of people who thought he's not going to be --


TAPPER: It is a minority of people --

URBAN: Lots of Democrats that voted for him.


FINNEY: No, no, no. Exactly. And they said, you know what? OK. Let's see how he does.

He's a businessman, all these things, as Kellyanne Conway would say, their polling showed what offends me is not what affects me, right? That's how they got around all the offensive statements.

OK, but now he has a record. And now we know it's not just that he's offensive. It's that those offensive comments actually have consequences.

People are being targeted, people are being hurt and he's not delivering on the things -- some of the things -- great, conservative judges. But that's not what's going to get moderates and independents to vote for him again and they're going to have different choices.


URBAN: Again -- again, I'll say, as long as the Democrats continue to talk about the things they're going to talk about. And I think the debates --

FINNEY: Three out of 21 of them.

URBAN: Listen -- listen, I just read -- read the article by the ACLU playing questions at all these -- at all these debates, kind of driving the debate on the suicide bomber, on the Boston bomber, on other things.


TAPPER: Letting current prisoners vote.

FINNEY: OK. But not all of the Democrats agreed with that. Myself included.

(CROSSTALK) URBAN: But you know what? Well, the people on the stage -- most of the people on the stage, the front-runners on the stage --


FINNEY: Actually, not true. Cory Booker who --


FINNEY: -- didn't agree.

URBAN: The front-runner -- Cory Booker is polling at less than one percent. The front-runners on the stage --

FINNEY: Joe Biden wouldn't agree with that.

URBAN: Well, let's wait and see what Joe Biden has to say.


URBAN: Let's wait Joe Biden -- see what Joe Biden has to say. Let's wait and see on these very important issues.


URBAN: And I think Joe Biden will slip to the left as well in his numbers.

EL-SAYED: Two things. Number one, I spent the last two years touring the state of Michigan talking in -- to folks in blue districts and in red districts. And most of them don't feel these great economic numbers to the point.

Second of all, there are two reasons why Democrats lost the election. A, it's because people in the middle didn't come out for Democrats. B, there's a large group of people who just didn't come out at all.

TAPPER: Didn't vote.

EL-SAYED: The fact of the matter is they want health care, they want paid family leave, they want $15.00 in the union. These are all issues that are front and center.


TAPPER: We have to talk about President Trump's new shall we say preoccupation with Joe Biden. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back. No matter how much his aides plead with him, President Trump just can't seem to stop talking about his new political rival, Vice President Joe Biden. That's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): Forget Bob Mueller. President Trump has a new obsession Joe Biden though he denies it.

TRUMP: I don't know about him. I don't know.

TAPPER: One morning this past week, the president retweeted anti- Biden messages almost 60 times. An indication of how unobsessed he's clearly feeling, how unworried he is.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that the president has been tweeting a lot about me this morning. I wonder why the hell he's doing that.

TAPPER: Why the hell is he doing it? As a fellow follicly challenged individual, is he envious of Biden's curious solution?

TRUMP: Did I have a good hair day? I don't know.

TAPPER: Is he worried about the results of a face-off over who has the most youthful vigor?


TRUMP: I am a young, vibrant man.

BIDEN: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.

TAPPER: Both of these gentlemen seem to lack a reliable filter.

BIDEN: I wish we were in high school, I could take him behind the gym.

TAPPER: One can only imagine where such a face-off might lead were it to happen.


TAPPER: We have some happy news to share from our STATE OF THE UNION family. We want to welcome baby Arjun Kotha Kanneth. He and his mom Sandy are doing great and his dad, senior editorial producer Polson Kanneth could not be more proud of their sweet, gorgeous new baby. Congratulations.

President Trump is downplaying Russia's involvement in Venezuela, contradicting his top advisers. What's the reality on the ground? That's next.