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CNN Commentators Recap First 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) is Interviewed About Former Vice President Joe Biden and the First Democratic Presidential Debate; Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is Interviewed About His Campaign, First Democratic Presidential Debate, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is Interviewed About Her Campaign, Former Vice President Joe Biden, and the First Democratic Presidential Debate; Sen. Kamala Harris Dominates Day Two of the Democratic Debate; Negative Feedback on Joe Biden's Way of Responding His Rival. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 27, 2019 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: -- to be making at this point, if he know anything about the history of segregation in the history of this country. And then you had Kamala Harris, obviously, saying, you know, the federal government had a role to play in this.

So, I thought it was an extraordinary moment for her. It was also kind of risky, right, because there she was going after Joe Biden. He looked hurt at times during this exchange, and he seemed deflated in answering, I think, the charges that she was leveling at him.

He literally sort of, gave up the debate at some point. He just sort of threw in the towel, didn't really want to go further in engaging with her. We'll see what it means. They obviously are fighting for the same vote in terms of African-American voters.

She hasn't really been able to catch on with African-American voters at this point, but I think she definitely channeled a lot of the hurt and anger that many black people felt when they heard Biden praising -- seeming to praise the segregationists and talking about working with them.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Kamala Harris, Gloria, also seems to kind of, at times just cut through the clutter.


COOPER: And that irritating moment, you know, it's always irritating when everybody speaks over each other, and that there was a lot of that actually early on. And Kamala Harris sort of took that moment and made it work for her.

BORGER: She did. I think it helps to be a really good prosecutor in this circumstance, and she knows how to get to the point. And she did. I do think it was risky with Joe Biden, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what Joe Biden's strategy was during this debate. Shouldn't he have been prepared?


BORGER: That someone was going to talk about his praise for Senator Eastland and segregationists that he worked with in the Senate? Instead, he came out and said, that's not what I said. That's not what I said. It was the same old, same old.

So, I think that he was kind of fuzzy, and she was sharp. She knew exactly where she wanted to go. She knew how to do it and when, you know, to your point, when to come in. And I think that he was sort of put off by it in a way. He was sort of shaking his head and saying, you know, no.

HENDERSON: His one good line was "I decided to become a public defender, and you became a prosecutor."

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's a good line about a contrast with her.


CHALIAN: It's not extending his --

BORGER: That's right.

CHALIAN: Anderson, I think, you know, sometimes we all sit and watch these debates and sometimes it's very difficult to determine who won a debate or not. And sometimes it's not at all.


CHALIAN: And like, it was so crystal clear that Kamala Harris just completely commanded that stage. This was her debate. This was Kamala Harris' moment. This -- you know, she shot out of the gate at the beginning with a very impressive launch, and she had a very good fund- raising number in that first quarter. And since then, people have been looking for the next Kamala Harris moment.


CHALIAN: This was it, and it was huge because it's before the biggest audience thus far that any of them have been before. And she just moved herself, I think, tonight in a very important way.


BORGER: You know, she started out with Americans don't want a food fight.


BORGER: They want to know how are you going to put food on their table. That was clearly a rehearsed line, but it really worked.


BORGER: But it worked, yes.

JONES: Kamala Harris had a moment that was two hours long.



JONES: I mean, a star was born tonight.

COOPER: You said earlier tonight at eight o'clock that you were waiting for Kamala Harris to have her moment.


JONES: And listen -- listen, a star was born tonight. This is a masterful performance. She completely dominated the stage, and most importantly, she would kick Donald Trump's butt, and she proved it tonight.

That was -- if you had any doubt that you could nominate a woman that would take Donald Trump to the woodshed, she just took it away from you. So, you know, last night we had a breakout, Castro.

Tonight, we had a breakdown, Biden. He had the most to lose, and I think he lost it in that he never became that guy that everybody goes, that's Joe. This is the guy who is going to make Trump look like an idiot. This is the guy who's going to bring us back together. He just couldn't pull it together.

CHALIAN: We don't know if voters will respond that way yet.


JONES: So, I don't know if voters.

CHALIAN: They like him a lot.

JONES: But let me just finish. Let me just finish. The most important thing I could say tonight is the two most impressive people on that stage, a young gay guy and a black woman in America tonight. If you look at -- this Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren, a woman, Kamala Harris, a black woman, and a young gay guy --

MCINTOSH: Add Castro to that.

JONES: And then add Castro.

BORGER: Right.

JONES: This is something is happening in this party. Something is happening in this country. You got to be proud of America tonight, and you got to be proud of Kamala Harris. She kicked butt.

MCINTOSH: I'm so proud that in two nights we saw two women win the night.

JONES: Dominate.

MCINTOSH: That was -- for all of the conversation as they were starting to get in about whether or not America was ready, about whether it was too risky to do that, I think that question has been asked and answered and then some with the performance tonight. If it weren't for the fact that Joe Biden was the front-runner going in, except for that one moment with Kamala, we wouldn't be discussing his performance at all.

[23:05:06] COOPER: Yes.

MCINTOSH: It simply wouldn't have registered.

COOPER: Governor McAuliffe, earlier you talked about Joe Biden is going to walk away from here fine, Sanders as well. How do you feel now?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I thought it was a great night for the Democrats. This was a great debate tonight, totally different then the last night. I mean, literally within the first 15 minutes. We'd hit healthcare, we hit immigration, we hit education.

It was a great, great debate. And last night I hate to say, it was like the kids table compared to what you saw today. These questions were tougher tonight, but you had a substantive discussion on all these big issues. It was a big win for Kamala, I agree 100 percent. You watched her tonight. She can take on Donald Trump.

For Democrats, the single most important factor is who can stand on that debate stage, take what he's going to give, and give it back to him harder, and she proved she could certainly do that, and she could do it all night long.

So great night. I agree. I think Mayor Pete had a great performance. Joe Biden should have been prepared for that question. I don't know why when he was answering the question he stopped, and said, I ran out of time. There's nobody whoever pays attention to the clock.

CHALIAN: He didn't say I ran out of time. He said, my time is up.


MCINTOSH: My time is up.

CHALIAN: Which is --

HENDERSON: Poor phrasing.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Let's be -- let's be honest about this. He wasn't not prepared, OK? They've been preparing for this debate for weeks, and ever since this incident where he made the comments about Eastland and Talmadge, it was clear this question was going to come up. And so -- BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: -- for whatever reason, it came up. Maybe it was because it came from Senator Harris, and she put it in such personal terms that it rattled him, although that might have been predictable as well.

And so, it goes to something else, which is how -- you know, the question I raised earlier was, will he come out of this where people say he is up to it? He's into it. He's engaged. And I think that he's contributed to more questions.

COOPER: Let me just --


MCAULIFFE: But David, you said, you go to a states' rights discussion?



MCAULIFFE: That's your answer?


MCAULIFFE: There is no way you could have prepared for that.


MCAULIFFE: To come out with a comprehensive answer to end this issue and move on with the campaign.

AXELROD: I'm sure he had a better answer. He just didn't give it.

COOPER: Let's actually look at this, for those who may not have seen it or want to see it again, the Kamala Harris-Joe Biden moment. Let's take a look.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to now direct this to Vice President Biden. I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.

But I also believe -- and it's personal, and I was actually very -- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.

And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing, and, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual

debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly. As attorney general of California, I was very proud to put in place a requirement that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Harris, thank you. Vice President Biden, you have been invoked. We are going to give you a chance to respond. Vice president Biden.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true, number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports Civil Rights and whether I did or not, I'm happy to do that.

I was a public defender. I didn't become a prosecutor. I came out, and I left a good law firm to become a public defender when, in fact -- when, in fact,


BIDEN: -- when in fact, my city was in flames because of the assassination of Dr. King, number one. Now, number two, as U.S. -- excuse me -- as the vice president of the United States, I worked with a man who, in fact, we worked very hard to see to it we dealt with these issues in a major, major way.

The fact is that in terms of busing, the busing -- I never -- you would go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. That's fine. That's one of the things I argued for, that we should not be -- we should be breaking down these lines.

[23:09:55] But so the bottom line here is, look, everything I've done in my career, I ran because of Civil Rights. I continue to think we have to make fundamental changes in civil rights. And those civil rights, by the way, include not just only African-Americans but the LGBT community.


HARRIS: But Vice President Biden, do you agree today -- do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?


HARRIS: Do you agree?

BIDEN: I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed. I did not oppose -- (CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: Well, there was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America.

BIDEN: No, but --

HARRIS: I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley California public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education.

BIDEN: Because your city council made that decision. It was a local decision.

HARRIS: So that's when the federal government must step in.


BIDEN: The federal government must --

HARRIS: That's why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That's why we need to pass the equality act. That's why we need to pass the ERA.

BIDEN: That --

HARRIS: Because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.

BIDEN: I have supported the ERA from the very beginning when I ran --


CHUCK TODD, HOST, MSNBC: OK. Hang up. Vice President Biden, 30 seconds. Because I want to bring other people into this.


BIDEN: I supported the ERA from the very beginning. I'm the guy that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. We got to the place where we got 98 out of 98 votes in the United States Senate doing it.

I've also argued very strongly that we in fact deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box. I agree that everybody, once they -- anyway, my time is up. I'm sorry.


COOPER: Yes. My time is up.

JONES: Yes, your time is up.

AXELROD: That could be -- that could have a deeper meaning.


COOPER: I mean, he is -- for those who maybe are not following the debate as well, I mean, he is arguing for states' rights.


JONES: Let me say as an African-American, why that was just unacceptable. That very argument was the argument that was used that the federal government should leave us, to abandon us to the good graces of racists all across this country and if the local racists want to abuse us, let us out, not educate our kids, not let us vote, then that's the local decision.

So, he just took the heart out of the Civil Rights movement with that argument. Our plea was that we are one country. The Constitution applies to all of us, and we want the federal government to stand with us and against the local racists.

And so, for him not to understand that -- and here's the other thing. My heart breaks about it at a personal level because all he had to do is say, you know what? I think I was wrong there.



JONES: If he had just said, you know what, Kamala? I think I was wrong then, and I've learned something, and I've learned something from talking to people like you. It would have been a beautiful moment for him and for the country, and he threw it down the toilet based on egotism and nonsense. And that was -- it was a heartbreaking moment.

BORGER: He never directly apologized to the woman who was offended by the way he touched her shoulders or whatever. I mean, Joe Biden just doesn't clearly like to say he's sorry about these kinds of things.

And when you look at how Pete Buttigieg reacted, here's how Pete Buttigieg reacted when he was asked about the trauma his city is going through over an African-American who was shot by a police officer. And he was asked about why hasn't your city done more on x, y, and z. He said, because I couldn't get it done.

COOPER: He was asked about diversity of the police force.



BORGER: Period. Diversity of the police force. I could not get it done. It was his apology.

MCINTOSH: This is a generational divide. This is an actual generational divide I think with the way what --


BORGER: Right. Old people can't say they're sorry? I don't know.

MCINTOSH: No, of course not. But I think when we look at white male politicians, there is a difference between the younger set and Joe Biden's generation and the ability to not see saying you're sorry as weakness.

It used to be anathema to politics that you could say, I did a wrong thing. I'm not blaming the older generation, but it isn't anymore. We actually want to know that you can listen and learn and change your mind and that growth is leadership.

AXELROD: I want to go back to something that Gloria said. You could see -- I mean that whole scene played out. It was like "A Few Good Men," right, with Jack Nicholson on the stand. Was that the movie?


MCINTOSH: You can't handle the truth.

AXELROD: You can't -- I mean she led him through this discussion, and it's almost as if she knew exactly how it was going to play out.

COOPER: She also was waiting -- I mean because she brought up the subject in a very personal way. It was very moving. He responded, and it was interesting just to watch it on the split screen. When she began to talk about it, that she was that -- she was that little girl, he looked at her, which was very kind of dramatic.


CHALIAN: He didn't address it.

COOPER: No, he didn't it. And then she was just waiting for him, while he was -- and then she pounced at exactly the right moment, pointing out the states' rights.

BORGER: And he didn't --


MCAULIFFE: And clearly, Joe Biden was, I can tell you by watching him, he was pained by that whole discussion.


MCAULIFFE: I think he was internalizing it. I think he was really pushed back on his heels, wasn't expecting it, and for some politicians, it's hard to say you're sorry. It's really the easiest thing to do because the American public truly is forgiving.

[23:15:02] JONES: Absolutely.

MCAULIFFE: And they like it when you actually say I'm sorry. You're human. And he should do it.

JONES: His super power is his empathy.


JONES: That's the thing. That is his super power. And that was the moment for Joe Biden to be Joe Biden and to say, you know what? I was wrong about that, and I've learned. And here's what I've learned, and here's what I want to do now. And for some reason, he wasn't able to get there.

HENDERSON: I think one of the problems that Joe Biden has is he already thinks he's woke on these issues around race and around gender.

JONES: He better --

HENDERSON: If you think about -- if you think about somebody like Pete Buttigieg, I mean, you can sort of see the evolution in terms of wokeness and a lot of the younger white male politicians who have to have acquired this language around race and gender and income inequality.

COOPER: I'm sorry to interrupt.


COOPER: Jeff Zeleny is talking to Bernie Sanders. Let's listen.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- fight for their best interest. What candidate will guarantee, will fight to bring healthcare to all, to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, take on the fossil fuel industry, and transform our energy system to save the planet?

That is really what the issue is. It doesn't matter whether you're old, you're young, you're black, you're white, you're a woman, a man. You've got to take a hard look at the candidates and what they stand for and what their record has been.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, you said it's ageism. You it's ageism, senator?

SANDERS: Look, I think if I were to say to a younger person, you know, you're not qualified because you're only 35 or 36 or something like that, you don't have the experience, that's not right. I don't think so. Judge people on the totality of who they are, what their ideas are, what their experience is, what their record is. That's what I think we should do.

ZELENY: We're live on CNN now, senator. Do you believe that you were able to make your best argument tonight that you are the best equipped to defeat President Trump, or do you believe that you are sort of overshadowed by the fighting and the talking over each other?

SANDERS: Well, that's up to people to decide. You know, I'm not a great fan of 45-second responses dealing with the major issues facing this country. But the main point I wanted to make tonight is that I think all over America people are saying, you know, these folks are good people. They have some good ideas, but how come nothing changes? How come the rich get richer? How come we have 45 million people

dealing with student debt, 40 million people in poverty. How come we're the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care at all?

And this is the issue I tried to make tonight. How well I did, I'll let other people judge. That at the end of the day -- and you don't talk about this on media and we don't talk about it in Congress. Why doesn't change happen?

And the answer is that you have incredible powerful entities like Wall Street, like the fossil fuel industry, like the pharmaceutical industry, like the insurance industry, like the military industrial complex, and I will tell you that nobody up there, including me, can do it alone.

We're going to need millions of people to stand up and finally say to those people, you will no longer continue running this country. We're going to have a government that represents all of us, not just big money interests.

Now, that is an issue. It is not talked about on media. I understand. It is not talked about in Congress. But that is the reality. Unless we deal with the power structure of America and prepare to take these people on, real change will never happen, and that's my pledge. That's what my campaign is about. We are going to take on Wall Street.

ZELENY: democrats worry that president Trump and other republicans are smiling tonight at the fact that the Democratic Party is moving too far to the left on Medicare for all and other things. I know you disagree with that.

SANDERS: Yes, I do, and I'll tell you why. Every poll that I have seen suggests that every part of our progressive agenda is supported by the American people. Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, overwhelming support.

Make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Do away with student debt in this country. Very, very powerful. Very powerful and popular.

Demand that the wealthy -- look, we have a situation where Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in this country, paid zero in federal income taxes. I am going to tax them. All of the ideas that we are bringing forth are popular ideas of what the American people want.

ZELENY: But Senator, what about swing states? Can you win Florida? I mean --

SANDERS: Yes, I think we can. I do believe we can. But everything depends upon growing the voter turnout. It means bringing young people and working people into the political process in a way that we have never seen.

And one of the things that I'm proud of -- I think my campaign will be a campaign of energy, a campaign of excitement, will grow the voter turnout, and that's the way you beat Trump.

ZELENY: But you said you would have to raise taxes on the middle class, senator.

SANDERS: Yes, raise taxes on the middle class. But at the end of the day, they're going to be paying less for health care than they are right now. If you're paying -- if you're paying $15,000 a year for healthcare right now in premiums and deductibles and out of pocket costs and I raise your taxes by $7,500, you're $7,500 to the good, and you'll say thank you very much, Bernie.

[23:19:55] Let's not get into this Republican nonsense. The American people are smarter than that, and they understand that if we can do away with premiums and co-payments and deductibles and out of pocket expenses, they will save money on healthcare.

ZELENY: You were standing next to Joe Biden, you're standing next to Joe Biden, and you're of the same era --


SANDERS: Let her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would the middle class want to have their taxes raised and why would the middle class even want to have their private health insurance eliminated?

SANDERS: First of all, why would the middle class not want to continue to pay outrageously high premiums and have huge amounts of very high deductibles and co-payments, and why would the American people want to continue to spend almost twice as much per person on health care as do the people of any other country?

Why would the American people want to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? We're going to cut the cost of prescription drugs in half. You think that's a radical idea? It is not because that's what the rest of the world is paying.

ZELENY: I'm going to ask you one more question. You came of age the same time approximately as Joe Biden. Do you believe he does owe others an apology about his words on race and of some of those senators?

SANDERS: I've talked about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Sanders --

ZELENY: Do you believe he does --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what would be your impression being in between that having worked with both Senators Harris and Biden when he was a senator, what was it like? Were you surprised by it?



ZELENY: Mrs. Sanders, what do you think? You've seen some of these debates before.

JANE SANDERS, BERNIE SANDERS' WIFE: I thought it was an interesting debate. I thought they talked about as many issues as they could get into with 10 candidates and 45-second answers but I look forward to more.

COOPER: All right.

ZELENY: We haven't you --


COOPER: Let's talk about what we just heard from Bernie Sanders. And also, again, the question he avoided answering from Jeff was about being next to Joe Biden. Obviously, you know, the age issue is front and center. More so, I think, for Joe Biden after tonight than for Bernie Sanders.

AXELROD: Can I say something? Maybe I'm the oldest person on this -- we can check driver's licenses afterwards.

MCAULIFFE: How old are you, David?

AXELROD: I'm leaving you out of this, Gloria.

BORGER: I'm fine.

AXELROD: But I want Gloria to sat in the office next to the Oval Office for a couple of years and getting a sense of what the job involves, and I know this will invite tons of responses. But I think age is a very legitimate issue. This is the hardest job on the planet.


AXELROD: And it is not sensible to ask the question whether people who are nearing 80 years old when they enter office are prepared for it. That's why tests like this debate are important. That's why it was important for the vice president to seize control of this debate and allay those concerns.

He did not do it. I think that, you know, Senator Sanders may want to wish away that question. He's older than the vice president. But these are legitimate questions, and we'd be irresponsible as Americans not to ask these questions.

BORGER: But you're running against a 74-year-old, is it? I mean Donald Trump would be 74.

AXELROD: Well, I mean I don't think he's impervious to these questions either. BORGER: No, no. I know.

AXELROD: But I'm just telling you --


CHALIAN: But Joe Biden himself said this.


HENDERSON: That's right.

CHALIAN: He says, age is a totally legitimate issue. Watch me.


CHALIAN: Well, the country watched him tonight, and some of his performance, I think he fed into the Trump frame around Joe Biden, raising questions of, you know, is it the same Joe Biden? Is he at all missing a step?

I -- there has been a pretty wide delta between how the political establishment class has sort of perceived the Biden candidacy to date and how voters are perceiving the Biden candidacy. Front-runner status. They like him.

This has been a pretty big divide, and you know what? The voters get to decide this thing, so that's an important thing to remember. But I think one of Joe Biden's critical mission tonight was to narrow that delta in terms of his campaign moving forward, and I don't think he did anything to assuage the concerns about his campaign.

HENDERSON: Yes. And I think he also undermined the electability argument, right? I mean with such a weak performance, you know, his argument had been he's the most electable. He can be tough. He can be strong against Donald Trump, and there you see him wilting under the harsh, you know, prosecution of Kamala Harris.

AXELROD: The whole pretty cat and he was the least risky choice and with this, he becomes more risky.

BORGER: I wonder if his campaign has done him any favors because they've kept him in hiding from the national media. He's not used to --


COOPER: Maybe there's a reason.

BORGER: But he'd get more practice. You know, when you get campaign, you get better at it.


HENDERSON: He's got to have enough practice right now.

COOPER: We're going to continue this discussion. Joe Biden's side of the story next. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We spent much of the top of the program talking about Joe Biden, particularly that moment between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Speaking for Joe Biden tonight is Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, who joins us now.

Congressman Richmond, I'm wondering how you think it went for vice president. The reviews so far have been not good. A lot of the words used so far that we have heard is he looked hurt, deflated, confused.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Well, those are your words. I couldn't disagree with you more. And, look, I understand where we are in this environment and that pundits and politicians like me will look and see what we want to see.

But the real test for me and the real people that I talk to are people in the barbershops, people in the churches, people at the little league games, and those people that I heard from tonight and those texts that I received from people were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, saying he looks like a statesman.

Even in the exchange with Kamala Harris, they said he looked like he was listening to her and that he felt her pain.

So, look, I mean we can get into the pundit part of it, but I think he had a strong night.


RICHMOND: We knew they that they would come for him because he was the front-runner. And I think --


COOPER: He certainly looked pained while Kamala Harris was talking. I'm not sure if he looked like he felt her pain. You're the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. That exchange with Senator Harris on busing, you called vice president Biden a statesman. He was a statesman in the sense that he was supporting states' rights in busing.

[23:30:00] He was against federal busing and supporting that it should be up to the states. Is that something you -- I mean, is that something he should still be supporting?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Well, I'm not -- let me just say this. I'm not sure that that is the entirety of his argument back then. But --

COOPER: He said tonight the federal government should not be involved in busing.

RICHMOND: This is what I do know. This is what I do know, is that the eight years under President Obama, that they put out guidance to end the prison to school pipeline for children, that he wants to triple Title 1 funding, that he understands poverty is the best way -- education is the best way out of poverty for kids of color and for poor white people also. That's why he wants free two-year community college and access to HBCU.

So, the record that everybody is focusing on, which I think everybody's record, the entirety of the record, should come into play. But, remember, everything that you're talking about was out there when the first African-American was nominated to lead a party in the presidential race, and he scanned the Senate, he scanned the country, and he came up with Vice President Biden as his running mate. And by the way, Vice President Biden did a remarkable job with President Obama.

COOPER: Right, but --

RICHMOND: And so tonight, you also heard --

COOPER: Couldn't the vice president just tonight have said to Kamala Harris -- I mean, I hear you saying the totality of the record matters and obviously of course that is a very good point that you make and people should look at everybody's -- the totality of somebody's record. But tonight, this issue was on the table, and he didn't back away from it at all.

He didn't say, you know what, you're right, I shouldn't have thought that at the time. Of course it shouldn't be left up to states because if it had been left up to states, you would have states where segregation would still be in existence.

If the federal government hadn't gotten involved whether it was busing or hadn't gotten involved in the civil rights movement, you know, Jim Crow would still be around.

RICHMOND: Well, I think you see his plan today, and he understands the importance of education in the African-American community.

COOPER: Why not just say, I was wrong?

RICHMOND: Look, education is what allowed me to go to Morehouse, go to Tulane, go to Harvard, and get elected to the United States Congress. So -- and that was paved the way. By the way, Voting Rights Act and all those other things. So, if we really want to have a debate about Joe Biden's record on civil rights, I think we can do that. And I think that it will show that he has been a firm supporter of civil rights his entire career.

COOPER: Senator, I think Nia-Malika has a question for you. Is that OK?

RICHMOND: I can't hear you.

COOPER: Oh, sorry. Nia?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Senator, it just seems like this is going to put the Congressional Black Caucus in a very difficult position where you having to essentially defend somebody who presently is arguing for states' rights. These are positions that people like Jim Clyburn -- I mean, he marched against these sorts of issues in states like South Carolina where I'm from, for instance.

I mean, are you worried about members of the CBC -- you, of course, one of the leaders of the CBC -- carrying this mantle for Joe Biden if he's continuing to defend states' rights?

RICHMOND: Well, look, I don't think he was trying to defend states' rights.

HENDERSON: But he did. He did. I mean, that's exactly what he did do.

RICHMOND: OK. In your opinion, he tried to defend states' rights. I think that what I saw was a person attempt to start to explain all of the nuances of that argument at the time and did not finish. Part of the nuances at that time -- and if we go back and we're honest about history -- was a debate on both sides.

But part of his record was fighting to make sure we ended redlining, ended segregated communities, making sure that African-Americans could purchase homes in better school districts and live in any neighborhood that they wanted to. But the short answer to your question, whether I think it will affect his support in the black caucus, the answer is no.

People in the CBC, those that support him and those that know him, that's the key. They know him, they know his record, they his heart, they know what he fights for, and they know for a fact that he had President Obama's back for eight years. So, no -- do I think that this will affect any of that? I don't.

COOPER: Cedric Richmond, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Van --

RICHMOND: No problem. Thank you all.

COOPER: All right, you take care. Van, is Cedric right, that this will not have an impact?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't know, but it's hard for me to imagine that it won't. We're now sitting here with the Democratic front-runner having a spokesperson trying to defend his comments on busing in 2019. This is not good.


JONES: Last night, I was happy, happy, happy, because I said, I'm so proud to be a Democrat. Everybody is doing so great. If you had told me three hours ago that we would be sitting here trying to figure out how the Congressional Black Caucus can keep supporting Joe Biden, I would have said, on what planet is that?

[23:35:00] But that's the planet that we're on. Listen, these debates matter. These debates matter. I'm hurt. I mean, I'm -- I love Joe Biden. I think a lot of people love Joe Biden. Joe Biden stood by Barack Obama and defended him and made his case to people who didn't want to listen to him. And that's who Joe Biden is to us.

But this -- there's something else going on. And I think Nia-Malika was correct when she said maybe he already thinks he's already there and doesn't have to keep learning and growing. We all have to keep learning and growing on women's issues, on racial issues, on immigration issues.

That's the whole point of the country. We try to become a more perfect union together, and we need Joe to lead us there, not be drug there. This is a bad night for Joe Biden. It's a bad night for Democrats.

HENDERSON: I think it's a bad night for his surrogates too because there is this way in which Joe Biden is sort of using the "I have a black best friend" argument by his continued invocation of Barack Obama, and I he's got to figure that out. This was a really bad night for him.

I think it's a bad night for his surrogates. You could see the look on Cedric Richmond's face. He was very uncomfortable, almost pained in having to sort of weave, you know, around this issue of what was clear.

COOPER: Also I think Biden is probably the only candidate who is not going to be going into, you know, what they amazingly call the spin room (INAUDIBLE) what it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buttigieg is --


COOPER: Buttigieg, OK. But it does sort of again add to that sense that -- sort of the early Hillary Clinton had of kind of this inevitability that he's the front-runner. He's got a more relaxed schedule. He's, you know, not --

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't want to say this is a bad night for Democrats, though. I think we saw some really exciting things happen onstage. I think black women are the base of the Democratic Party.


MCINTOSH: They have been looking for a reason to get really excited about Kamala Harris and she gave it to them tonight.

And in a moment where we are so polarized in this country, where your access to rights that should be fundamental, like abortion rights, are based on zip codes and states, when you can get arrested and jailed for a very long time for doing something in one state that is perfectly legal in another, to have Joe Biden make that argument today, it just shows that it's not the forward-looking thing he wanted to do when he started this debate.

COOPER: We heard a little bit from Senator Sanders a moment ago talking to our Jeff Zeleny. He is kind enough to join us now. Senator Sanders, thanks for being with us. I heard you speaking to Jeff Zeleny earlier. I know he tried to ask you about generational issue, which at least a couple of the other candidates tried to bring up tonight.

David Axelrod is here with me and he says it is appropriate to be asking candidate about age and what that might mean for how they would govern. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that tonight.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, any question, age included, is appropriate. But what I think -- and, you know, what I think is the voter has to look at the totality of the candidate, what he or she stands for, what his or her record is, and their vision for the future.

But what I would say and the point that I tried to make today, Anderson, is that I think you've got a lot of people watching that debate and they said, "You know what? These are good people and they have good ideas." But you know what? I've heard it all before. I've heard people talk about health care and education and climate change, but nothing real happens.

I can't afford to go to the doctor. My kid is going to be poorer than I will be. My grandchild has an enormous amount of student debt. And the point that I try to make -- and this is what I believe in my heart -- is that unless we are prepared to take on the people who have real power in this country, the power elite, and that is Wall Street, and that is the insurance companies, and that is the pharmaceutical industry, and that is the fossil fuel industry, does anybody think that just a plan for climate change is going to do it to save the planet?

You got to have the guts to take on an enormously powerful industry and the only way that we do that, in my view, is when millions and millions of people stand up and say, enough is enough. You're not going to destroy the planet. You're not going to prevent me from getting health care or affordable medicine.

And that's what this campaign is about. It's not just ideas. We got a lot of ideas. It is the understanding we're going to have to take them on. And if we don't, nothing is going to change.

COOPER: Do you think -- you were standing next to Vice President Biden -- do you think he is up for taking Donald Trump on given what you saw tonight? He essentially was defending -- I mean, he was making a states' rights argument to Kamala Harris on that stage in defense of his position against the Department of Education busing.

SANDERS: Well, I think that there are a number of Democrats who, in fact, can defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country and somebody who is not popular.

[23:40:09] The last poll that I saw had me 10 points in a national poll ahead of Trump and other Democrats were also ahead of him. Trump is going to have to defend the fact that he is a liar and a racist and a sexist. He's going to have to defend the fact that he tried to throw 32 million people off the health care that they have, that he gave 83 percent of his tax benefits over a 10-year period to the top one percent, and that after telling people in his campaign that he was not going to cut Medicare and Medicaid, his budget called for massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

COOPER: If you're onstage with President Trump in a general election, you're prepared to call him a racist to his face?

SANDERS: Absolutely! Look, it gives me honestly -- it gives me no pleasure to say that. I have conservative friends who are certainly not racists. You know, we can disagree in this country. But if you look at Trump's life, history, remember, he led the Birther Movement, trying to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama.

His attacks on immigrants is racist. His attacks on the Muslim community is racist. So, yes, sad to say we have a bigot in the White House, and that's exactly what I would say to him.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: We'll be talking to more candidates as we go along tonight. We're on until 1:00 a.m. and then Chris Cuomo takes over our coverage. We're talking to our panel group tonight about the breakout moments from Kamala Harris and others. Stay with us.


COOPER: Joining me right now is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator, thanks for being with us. I'm wondering how you thought tonight went for you on that stage.


COOPER: Hey, senator, it's Anderson. Can you hear us?

GILLIBRAND: Can't wait.

COOPER: Can you hear us? It's Anderson Cooper. Can you hear us, senator?

GILLIBRAND: Not yet, no.

COOPER: OK. We'll check back in.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I just say something on the Kamala Harris and that exchange and why it has political importance? Just this week, there was a poll, national poll that showed Joe Biden with 60 percent of the African-American vote, Kamala Harris with 12 percent.

These kinds of exchanges can have an impact on that number, and that number is one of the reasons why he is sitting in such a strong position nationally. So this has some perilous implications for him in this regard.

On the other end of the equation, the question still remains, if not him, who? And it's fine. I mean, I think the diversity of the Democratic Party is its strength. But there still is a question about who among them can emerge as a real challenger and a winning challenger to Donald Trump. And I think these candidates, Kamala Harris included, still have something to prove in that regard.

This was a great night for her, but as you pointed out, David, even on that question of Medicare for All where she's been up and down several times tonight, she raised her hand and said, "Yes, I would eliminate private insurance." The last time she did that on a CNN stage, she then recanted the next day. And so there are -- this is a long, long test.

COOPER: Let me just try to bring in New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator, can you hear me? It's Anderson.

GILLIBRAND: I can. How are you, Anderson?

COOPER: All right. How did you think tonight went for you on that stage?

GILLIBRAND: It was wonderful. It was a great opportunity to speak directly to America's women about the moment we're in, where President Trump and over 30 legislatures around the country have an all-out assault on women's reproductive freedom.

And women are marching. They are organizing and they are running for office and winning. I think it was important to speak directly to them about how in the last few decades, women's rights are constantly being comprised.

COOPER: You were able to make a number of points directly to the camera, directly to voters. It's always interesting how things on a stage feel when you're standing next to it and among it. There was an extraordinary exchange between Senator Harris and Vice President Biden in which Vice President Biden essentially was backing states' rights in, you know, the history of busing by the Department of Education. I'm wondering how that looked from your vantage point where you were.

GILLIBRAND: Certainly Senator Harris was right to challenge Vice President Biden on his record in the same way that I challenged Vice President Biden on his record with regard to Hyde and choice and where he stands on women's reproductive freedom. I really believe it's mind- boggling that we're debating on a 2019 Democratic debate stage whether we're going to fight for women's reproductive freedom.

COOPER: Do you think Vice President Biden did a lot of damage to himself, to his campaign tonight?

GILLIBRAND: You know, the campaigns are just starting. This is our first debate. We've got nine more to go. And so we have a real opportunity to show the differences. But I do believe that my candidacy, I'm the only candidate who takes on the fights that other people won't. I took on the Pentagon twice as well as the banks and Congress itself. And so I believe I'm the right candidate to not only take on Trump, but to lead this country to a better future.

COOPER: Where do you -- I mean, if there was a spectrum of political beliefs within the Democratic Party, where do you see yourself on that spectrum? Are you moderate? Are you left of center? Are you progressive? How do you categorize yourself?

GILLIBRAND: I don't think labels are very helpful, but I can tell you I have progressive vision for this country that's bolder than anyone else. I'm the only candidate who has a comprehensive approach to dealing with political corruption.

The problem with Washington, the reason why nothing gets done, every so-called unsolvable problem, I can tell you the corporate entity, the special interest that is standing in the way of progress because they care more about profits than people.

[23:50:02] And so my plan for publicly funded elections goes to the heart of political corruption through clean elections.

COOPER: Senator Gillibrand, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GILLIBRAND: Thanks, Anderson. Bye.

COOPER: Bye. We'll be talking to other candidates, of course, throughout the night.

JONES: She's right that this is very early in the process. And, you know, Biden -- beating up Biden and maybe rightfully so. He has time to fix this. He messed up on the Hyde amendment thing. He got himself right on that. I do think he has a deep well of support in the black community. I think we were shocked tonight. He's got a deep well support in the black community. You can go back to those wells.

I was a little baffled watching Senator Gillibrand through the debate. I felt like she had so many good ideas and she had so much that she was trying to say. I love the fact that she jumped in early because the women last night didn't do that. The guys were jumping in. The women were standing back. I loved the fact she jumped in early and asserted herself.

For the life of me, I can't remember what she was trying to communicate, and that's weird to me that you have somebody who had so much to say who did make a bunch of points. She does not yet tell her story right. And she doesn't tell the American people's story right, so it doesn't land.

So she's got a bunch of great ideas, you know, and she's a very appealing person, but to have somebody interrupt as much as she did, to talk as much as she did, I don't think she left an impression. I want to hear more stories from her.


JONES: Kamala Harris told those stories of herself. When Kamala Harris told the story of sitting in the parking lot outside the emergency room with your hand on the head of the kid looking at your -- at that door and your bank account, that landed. I don't hear that stuff from Gillibrand yet.

COOPER: I want to play -- there was a sound bite, probably the first thing that Kamala Harris said which sort of set the tone for her for a lot of the rest tonight was when she basically broke up all these candidates talking over each other at a particularly kind of annoying talk over --


COOPER: -- where nobody would stop. So let's just take a look at that moment because it did set her apart immediately.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table.


HARRIS: So on that point, part of the issue that is at play in America today and we've all been traveling around the country, I certainly have, I'm meeting people who are working two and three jobs. So when we talk about jobs, let's be really clear, in our America no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head and food on the table.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Thank you very much, senator.


COOPER: Governor, I mean, it's an interesting argument that she can make if she is, you know, on a stage with President Trump and he's talking about unemployment numbers. It sounds like that is part of her rebuttal to that, which is people working multiple jobs.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Listen, I think that was -- she rehearsed that line several times before she gave it. I thought it was a very effective line. But I would go back to what Jeff (ph) said earlier. I thought this was a very good night for the Democrats. I don't want us to dwell on -- I mean, this was a big, broad debate. I thought it made our party look great tonight.

We had certain instances in this. I come from a place listening to the folks tonight. You know, I was governor when Charlottesville happened and I talked to the president that day, President Trump. I told him what he needed to do.

You want to talk about racism. You have a president of the United States who -- we have 1,000 people in Charlottesville screaming the worst things you can say about human beings, members of the African- American community, members of the Jewish faith, and he said there were good people on both sides.

So I remind everybody here tonight, I think if the American public was watching that tonight, we have been the ones out there fighting on these issues and we've been leaning in to make sure we've got quality schools. I just think we need to never forget who we are as a party and remember what we're facing on the other side.

I was very proud. I thought we had a great discussion on women's reproductive rights tonight. I felt that was a great debate on Medicare for All. Everybody got to make their points. I loved it when Mayor Pete brought up the issue, you know, not everybody is going to go to college. You know, that needs to be talked about a lot more.

A lot of folks in this country who are watching this TV tonight, you know, we can get them a skill job. They can get a credential. They can work into it. I think we need to make sure we remember all the good things that came out. I was very proud of those 10 candidates tonight. It was a good tough debate on issues. And I'm very proud of everybody.

I was very proud when Joe Biden talked on how painful to talk about your wife being killed in a car accident and then losing your son. So, you know, everybody had their moments. I loved the personal stories. Let us keep this in the broad perspective of who we are as Democrats.

COOPER: We're hoping to speak to Kamala Harris shortly. We'll get a break in first as our debate night coverage continues. We'll be right back.


HARRIS: $1 trillion to the debt of America.



COOPER: Confrontational night on stage in Miami tonight as 10 Democrats including the top polling former vice president went at it. It was a clash in some ways of generations as much as of policy.

Back now with our analysts and reporters and experts. You know, Van, earlier you were talking about Mayor Pete Buttigieg and there was a moment -- and certainly a lot of people watching him tonight as they have been all along -- there was a moment that he talked about -- he talked about his partner in a way which surprised you.

JONES: Well, I mean, I just loved it because he was talking about student loans. He talked about the fact that, you know, he and his husband have these student loans and they're trying to deal with it. And you would almost forget that just, in 2012, even President Obama was a little hesitant to say, hey, listen, marriage equality for everybody. That was a couple of years ago.

Now we've got somebody on stage talking about their husband and talking about it with nobody blinked, nobody cared. I just -- you know, you were saying earlier that you were proud of Democrats tonight. To me, the fact -- how unremarkable it is --


JONES: -- these remarkable moments, give me a bunch of pride in the country. I don't want to run past stuff like that.

COOPER: There was another moment with Mayor Buttigieg that I want to play which was he was asked about -- which we talked a little bit before -- the lack of diversity given the population of African- Americans in South Bend. I think the.