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Winners And Losers From The 1st 2020 Democratic Debate; Top Dem Candidates To Spar In 2nd Round Of Primary Debates; Interview With John Delaney (D) Presidential Candidate. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 27, 2019 - 02:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hello again. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to Prime Time, a triple header tonight. Subtitle, why sleep. Elizabeth Warren came in as the clear front runner among the night. So she was in the middle of the stage, how did she do?

Did she act like a front runner, was she regarded as one? How was the after action report on her? Let's get into what changed for her and the other nine. Who do we have; Alexandra Rojas, Jennifer Granholm, and Chris Cillizza.

I am nothing if not a person of my word. Rojas, kick us off. What did you see on that stage tonight? Who was up, who was down.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Elizabeth Warren was -- came in as the front runner and she was the strongest voice on the stage and I think it's also, just like I pointed out in the last segment, a complete 180 reversal on where we were our -- where we were in 2016 to where the terms of the debate are in 2018.

And that means that progressive ideas dominated. And I know that one of the things that we're doing right now during a democratic primarily right, is needing to excite voters. But I also think it's what we need to do for the general election.

And I think Elizabeth Warren and to argue, I think a majority of the democrats on stage were fighting for a progressive vision of the future. And that's because in 2016 we saw that electability isn't just about moderation, it's also about motivation.

And we saw a lot of the people that we need -- we needed to turn out sit out home. And that's young people, that's people of color, that's union households of all backgrounds. So I think the time of sort of small ideas and saying that, you know, we can't do things aren't what Americans are looking for.

We need to excite young people like me and the base of voters that is excited about policies like a 70 percent marginal tax rate, a Medicare for All single payer healthcare system, and tackling the existential threat of climate change with something like a Green New Deal despite only seeing that, you know, it -- we got to see if for about six minutes when that's the number one issue in Iowa.

So I'm super excited and I think a lot of young people in the progressive movement is excited that we've totally dragged the debate into our terms and sort of went on the offensive.

CUOMO: Gov. Granholm; balance, balance, balance, balance; how do you cater to that young and progressive edge of the party and still give deference to the fact that 80 percent of your party is center left?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTOR: Yes. Well first of all, I do think that Ms. Rojas is exactly right that the party has moved -- moved to the left and I think that, you know, our revolution; Bernie Sanders can take a lot of credit for that.

And I think it's really healthy this debate. And I -- you know as I -- I know you don't like participation trophies, Chris, and I just have to say though I will work my tail off for anyone of these people who are on tonight or who will be on tomorrow.

They are -- and in fact the vast majority of -- of them have signed the Indivisible Pledge, which is a pledge to unite. And whoever wins and all work together, which is a really encouraging thing that there's not going to be division afterward.

But I do think that there is -- you know -- I mean you're -- you're -- I think you're going to talk with -- with John Delaney in a little bit, right? I think he had a -- he had a really good line there. I know he's a centrist, a moderate; but his line that I think speaks to a lot of people is hey, if it works let's keep it. If it's broken let's fix it.

And so that -- that notion of let's fix what we can and move is not -- is not something to throw out. I think -- I understand the need for structural change and -- and let's hope we can get it. But all of this conversation around McConnell tonight was all about that.

How can we get structural change if we're stuck with a Senate that is led by Mitch McConnell. And yes, we want to change that. But if we are stuck with him -- I was surprised there wasn't a follow up on the filibuster reform question because that is obviously one way of moving beyond it.

And I would wonder, you know, where -- where are the Senators who are in the Senate right now on filibuster reform. I think Elizabeth Warren might -- is she in favor of it? I can't remember. I don't think Bernie Sanders is a fan of it.


CUOMO: Not everybody's in favor of filibuster reform, Gov., when they're not in power. When they get in power all the sudden they want to keep it.

GRANHOLM: Well right. I mean it's the danger right. Because if you end up ...

CUOMO: Yes that's -- that's how we got here.

(CROSSTALK) Right. Harry Reid did this. Harry Reid started this. Mitch McConnell said you're going to regret it and now look where we are. But let me just to Cillizza. So you got Rojas punched me with the passion of catering to the young people.

You had the governor kill me with kindness. But I don't stop Cillizza. I keep coming because I see ...


CUOMO: Because I see the cold pragmatism that is being ignored at what must be at play here. If the whole point is beat this president, you are going to have to figure out how you do that and it may not be the same way that you get your primary. And in fact, it rarely is. So where does that leave you?

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean I think that's true and I think there's a element strain of conventional thinking, which doesn't mean it's wrong. Don't mean it a majorative (ph) way. But a strain of conventional thinking that says to win the democratic primary being for Medicare for All, being for the Green New Deal, being for a 70 percent marginal tax rate; those are all things that will help you.

You saw this with Warren tonight when asked about the -- did she support Medicare for All. Boom, right. Way up there with Bill de Blasio. Although only two people. I was a little bit surprised in that saying that she thinks private insurance should be eliminated entirely.

So the convention wisdom is that pull you too far too the left, Donald Trump will take advantage of that. The -- the -- the general electorate isn't necessarily in favor of that. What I will argue against that is I'll give you two word answer on that, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump took all sorts of positions during the primary that you would say positions said things, tweeted things, did dumb things in his past. That would say well, traditional political thinking; this guy can never get elected. Well, there he is in the White House. So you know I do think electability matters more with Donald Trump in the White House.


CUOMO: I don't think any democrat is going to win the ticket by in any way resembling anything about this current president.


CILLIZZA: No, I don't mean resembling anything about him, Chris. I mean the idea of what makes you electable. The idea of can you -- look, there's been a lot of attention paid to polling in Florida and Pennsylvania that shows Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump. You know who else is ahead of Donald Trump in that polling?

CUOMO: Everyone. CILLIZZA: Bernie Sanders. So four years ago -- well three years ago, Bernie Sanders proposed Medicare for All and so we need single payer. Hillary Clinton said, Ha-ha. Literally laughed on the stage. This is to Alexandra's point. So again, I think we have to be careful not that you're going to imitate or mimic Donald Trump because you're right, you can't out Donald Trump Donald Trump.

But just -- I think has fundamentally altered some of our calculations of what conventional political thinking is as it relates to electability in particular, that's all.


CUOMO: Look that was a great lesson Alexandra. He said he was going to give me a two word answer. Now we're (ph) going to extend the time because of his 2,200 word answer. You get the last word before we go to break.

CILLIZZA: 2,300 words.

ROJAS: I mean to his point, right, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And I think that is exactly what, you know, Joe Biden in a lot of ways represents.

I would argue the same thing for John Delaney though he's not polling at all. So it's very difficult to, I think, make that case. But look, I think we saw it from tonight, we need a vision. You have to be able to talk about what you are going to do for this country and saying that you're going to fight for universal healthcare but you won't go all the way.

You need to hold Donald Trump accountable but you're not willing to move forward with articles of impeachment. You want to take on the climate crisis but you're not willing to do what needs to be done.

I think Americans are starting to recognize that politicians that are saying they're going to fight but aren't doing is not enough. And that the same people that got us to this moment where we have to defeat Donald Trump to take the presidency back for the United States of America aren't going to be the same people that get us out of it.

CUOMO: Strong. Strong point. Let's go to break on that. Alexandra, Jennifer, Chris please stick around. So you might have noticed some of the candidates made a bit appeal to minority voters tonight, particularly Latino voters.

I think we may of heard more Spanish spoken on the stage tonight in this primary than we've ever heard in the primary like this before. Who delivered the most resonate message in espanol? We're going to take it up with the gang next.


CUOMO: I don't know if you watched, but if you didn't, you missed I think, something that was a first. We had so many people speaking Spanish tonight in the democratic debates. Take a listen.






CUOMO: There you go. Now, what is the impact? Let's come back with Alexandra Rojas, Jennifer Granholm, and Chris Cillizza. Rojas, significance and impact.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS: I think it was important. I think Telemundo, I think was also streaming the debate so I think in a normal setting it was kind of weird, but I think, you know, we have one of the first -- what could be the first Latino president of the United States, so as a fellow Latina, I think that was incredibly exciting.

And as someone to see, Julian, I think go to a more progressive direction and hold Beto accountable within his home state was exciting. I think for Cory and Beto again, good opportunities for them to -- to talk directly to Latino voters, but again, if it wasn't screened on Telemundo, I don't know how -- how I would have felt about it.

CUOMO: Now, governor, so what's the play? Other than appealing on a language basis, it's --it's about cultural affinity and it's about recognizing what you are developing as a base. Rojas has a point. You know, this idea that the baby boomers aren't the main voting bloc in 2018, 2016, there is changed. These young voters, you need them in.

If you don't get them, I don't know that your party can win. And this is part of that cultural attachment of the new America. It gets to be a dicey play when you're running against somebody who is diametrically opposed to the new America, who's still talking about TiVo like it's a new thing. He wants to go back; you're looking to go forward. There's conflict. The mix.

GRANHOLM: Yeah, no, I mean, I think the best line of the night was when Julian Castro said, adios, Donald Trump, at the very end of in his closing, because that -- that's what we'd all like to see is adios.

And to your point about young people and this new rising majority, I think it was great to see so much Spanish spoken, especially in a debate when this utter tragedy at the border is top of mind for everybody and how people are going to fix it.

There was such, I think a great amount of time, and appropriately large amount of time focused on how people are going to deal with this at the border. I was -- I -- if I were Elizabeth Warren, I would have been bummed that I didn't get my oar in the water on that subject because she had just been to Homestead today to be able to see that detention facility, and I know Bernie Sanders is going tomorrow.

But this topic is so relevant, not -- I mean, it's relevant for all of us. Right, I'm a baby boomer and this is being done in my name just like its being done in the name of all of that rising majority and those millennials and all of us.

So that it was addressed, that Spanish with spoken, sends a strong message that the democrats are inclusive and including and embracing this rising majority as part and parcel of who we are.

CUOMO: Cillizza, hold -- Cillizza, let me ask you this.


CUOMO: I hear what they are saying and I embrace it all. But I have something as a point of contrast, and all of you may attack me, hopefully we'll run out of time so all three of you don't get a shot. The idea is this; I don't see that democrats seize the high ground on this border issue. This president went with harshness, that's what the fence was about.

The fence was a farce; it was never a fix to this flow. He sold a crisis that was about monsters, the brown menace as I depict them on my show coming here, that's never what it was. And the Democrats are not jump into that.

And when I see them going to Homestead now, that's great. But they did not jump to get money for these kids. They still haven't gotten it done. I still don't know that it will get done. Do they have high ground in terms of that compassion argument?

CILLIZZA: Well, I think they have high ground cover that compassion arguments solely because I think Donald trump doesn't have the empathy.

CUOMO: But they didn't do anything about it, Cillizza.

CILLIZZA: No, I agree and I always think it's difficult to make the legislative process argument, Chris, which is well, we tried to pass something, the Senate passed something else. So, yes, and I think they weren't in on it as quickly as maybe they should have been --I'm not talking about this issue in particularly, but more broadly immigration.

One thing I want to point out, Chris, in less than eight hours, the Supreme Court is going to issue its ruling on whether or not there can be a citizenship question on the census.

That will have a massive political impact going forward, both in terms of how -- particularly it impacts how non-whites, how non-whites represented, are they represented, do they have voices in the census and in the redistricting process. So just a reminder, we didn't hear that much about the court tonight, how important who you get to nominate as president matters.

CUOMO: Fair point. Rojas.

ROJAS: Yes, I mean, I -- I -- I actually agree with you. I think that this is a moment where we could be really contrasting with the president. And I think that wasn't the -- I think, you know, to the governor's point, you're absolutely right. It got a lot more attention than say climate change for example, that only got six minutes.

There's a lot of really important issues. But I think that Democrats absolutely need to be going on the offensive, and I would push back that you know, going to Homestead doesn't mean nothing because Elizabeth Warren and Bernie sanders are currently in the Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell.

It's very difficult to get very much of anything done. And the fact that they were able to actually go and show that they aren't just, you know, going to put rhetoric onstage, they're going to actually physically go to the locations to put pressure, they have huge audiences.

So dragging their supporters to -- to take hold of this is exactly to what -- who -- who they are about. And it's about building a movement, it's about making activists get engaged on the issues.

CUOMO: I get it. I just -- I don't like that it happened right before. Look, it's good that happened. It's good to happened. I'll take progress, you can't let the perfection be the enemy of -- whatever, you know what the saying is.

What I'm saying is this, I don't like that it happened on the verge of the debate and it hasn't happened for the last two months and this has been going on and they had a chance to do something about if they wanted to do it sooner and they didn't.

Let's just leave it at that because it wasn't that big a deal for them tonight anyway. We'll see how it plays tomorrow night. Rojas, Granholm and Cillizza, you are better than I deserve. Thank you for being with me tonight.

ROJAS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, John Delaney, former congressman defended private health insurance. Now, he had an easy -- he had a hard position on this stage. He was about, hey how do we get things done? Not just what big dreams we have. Did he think that resonated? Does he think that he is positioned to move forward in this process? Let's get after it with him next.


CUOMO: All right, let's be real. It feels like bipartisanship is dead in Washington. Well, my next guest thinks it's time to bring it back and he thinks he's the guy to do it.


JOHN DELANEY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All the big transformative things we've ever done in this country's history have happened when huge majorities of the American people get behind them, which is why we need real solutions, not impossible promises.


CUOMO: Pragmatic but maybe not that popular in a progressive crowd. Who said it? The candidate himself. Former Congressman John Delaney is here. Congressman, congratulations on making it through the first debate.

DELANEY: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: So you were throwing some elbows the way a Jersey boy knows how. Do you think you came off that stage thinking you can be president of the United States?

DELANEY: Absolutely. I mean I thought from the moment I entered the race I could be president of the United States because fundamentally, Chris, I'm running on this notion that we need real solutions, not impossible promises.

That's how I think we beat President Trump that's how we govern and get things done. And that's what my campaign is about. And as you said, I had to fight to get some of my point out today, but like on Medicare for All and a few of these other things, you know I really believe the approach I have is the common sense approach that the American people can get behind.

CUOMO: Right, you are going upstream though against two different currents. One is that a primary in general pushes a party to its fringe. Right. And your fringe of your party is advance progressivism which is certainly Medicaid -- Medicare for all.

Secondly, your party is angry. Even though, you know, 80 percent of you are center left, the vocal part, again, the fringe in the primary, doesn't want to hear about working with the republicans and certainly not this president. How do you deal with those two counter currents?

DELANEY: Well, it's tough. You've got to navigate through them. But again I think at the end of the day, most of this country as either center left or center right. And we have to get back to this notion of not letting the extremes in each party hold us hostage and we have to reassert ourselves.

And I think that this is an enormous opportunity for the Democratic Party. In the era of Trump and the lack of decency and the lack of morality that he brings to the office of the presidency, if we just become the party the American people are looking for, a party that actually wants to solve problems and conduct themselves with a certain level of decency and try to bring this country together, I think we are going to win every election by huge margins; and more importantly, we'll be able to govern. And -- and we just got to look in the past. I mean you know we talk

about Medicare for All, the point I was trying to make today is when Franklin Roosevelt created social security, he didn't make private pensions illegal.

Why didn't he do that? Because it would've been a dumb idea and he never would've gotten done politically. And if we want to give everyone healthcare in this country, which I do, my plan gives healthcare to every American as a basic right for free, but it also doesn't call for making private insurance illegal because that's a dumb idea and we'll never win elections on that. So, you're right, these are currents, but we've got to get ...


CUOMO: Go ahead, I hear you. But congressman, you know on healthcare, why don't you guys just focus on costs? You know the ability to have care is nothing if you can't use the care. And this is something that republicans used to beat democrats over the head, they just didn't solve it. And you know that's about this period of Sinicism and deconstruction.

That them getting rid of the ACA, him getting out of the Iran deal was seen as progress. But if you don't have anything to follow it with, you wind up having impasse, if not a determent, and now we're dealing with that in this country.

But when it comes to healthcare, you know matters to democrats, you know they walked out of midterms saying this is my main priority, but it's not about coverage, it's about cost. Why don't you focus on that?

DELANEY: Yes, well I do focus on it. I mean healthcare is actually three things, Chris. Its access, its quality, and its cost, and you have to have a plan that deals with all three of them; which I believe my plan does. Right.

Because if you think about it right now, Chris, we actually have a universal healthcare system, it's called the emergency room. If you go to the emergency room by law, you've got to get taken care of. But those emergency room visits are 15 times the cost is going to your primary care physician.


CUOMO: But why though? You're 100 percent right, everything you just said is spot on, good for you. But now you deal with the why. Why do they get to charge these exorbitant rates, same with drugs, same with other providers? How do you control cost?

DELANEY: Well, drugs is actually easy to control. We've got to do two things. We've got to allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, but the second thing we've got to do is we've got to stop the rest of the world free riding on us. Because if you go to the wealthy countries in Europe, Chris, they pay like a quarter of what we pay for drugs, right? And they just keep negotiating prices down and the pharmaceutical companies keep raising them here. So this actually has to be a trade issue. I'm supportive of Trump's trade wars in general but I do think we need to make pharmaceutical pricing a trade issue.

And the wealthy countries of the world have to negotiate global rates because these are global companies. And the U.S. citizens can't continue to subsidize the entire pharmaceutical industry in the United States of America. That's just unfair to them. So that's a way you bring down those costs. The other way you bring down costs is you got to use technology more, right? Telemedicine has huge opportunities.

You have to invest in basic research. I mean, Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease in this country right now. If we don't care Alzheimer's it will just consume our entire healthcare system. So you got -- you know, you got to do things in the short term for cost and you got to do things in the long term. But in the meantime, you got to make sure every American has healthcare because I think it's a basic human right and it's actually helps with cost.

CUOMO: It's true. Look, I know -- you heard from your constituents and now, you know, you're hearing as you work to hosting. People aren't saying to you I can't get care, they're saying I can't afford the costs and when I do pay I'm paying $24,000 a year for my family and I can't even use it. They won't even acknowledge like a lotion for my kid. Let me ask you one other thing. What was the big lesson you learned tonight that you believe will play to your advantage going forward?

DELANEY: Well, I think, again, I'm this candidate who is actually OK telling the truth, right? And I think what I'm talking about on healthcare is the truth. I think you and I both know that if we run on making private insurance illegal we're never going to win any elections on that. If we run on this notion of writing off all the student debt in this country, like lets you and I had $2 trillion to spend on education.

I think you and I would probably agree on early childhood education, pre-K, maybe doing things to improve what's going on in K through 12, supporting teaches more, community college, career and technical training, and we'd allocate somebody towards student debt relief. Absolutely because we got a huge issue there.

CUOMO: Right.

DELANEY: But this notion of writing of all the student debt, what about people who just paid off their loans?

CUOMO: Right.

DELANEY: What about the kids who were going to college? What about the kids, you know, the young people who did what my dad did and became an electrician?

CUOMO: Right.

DELANEY: Why we got nothing for them?

CUOMO: Nothing for the trades. And also --

DELANEY: I mean, none of this stuff doesn't make sense.

CUOMO: To the fact that about 47 percent or so of the loans are for private universities and for graduate school.


CUOMO: And so what are going to do after you zero out all the debt and was still spending on those. I think the vulnerabilities of plans. But, you know, practicality, isn't as always as appealing. In a primary --

DELANEY: But we've got to fix --


DELANEY: We got to fix college too as you know, right? Because too many kids are going to college, either not graduating or getting degrees that they can't get jobs with. So we got a lot of issues to deal with but you also got to go to the American people with common sense solutions. And you're right, there's a part of the party that's really active, they're on Twitter, you know, they're demanding a bunch of stuff.

But we all know that that's not how you build consensus and get things done. So I am swimming upstream but I think, you know, if I can swim upstream there is a big -- there is a big -- keep your kind of analogy going, there's a big pond there waiting for me where most Americans are.

CUOMO: All right. Congressman, I appreciate it. Thank you for coming on.

DELANEY: Thanks.

CUOMO: I know it's late but I appreciate the access to the audience. Thank you, sir.

DELANEY: I appreciate it. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. 10 down, 10 to go. But did this night start narrowing down the field for Democratic voters? I know you can say no, we haven't had a single vote yet, we're nowhere near it. No, no, no. Politics are about persuasion, they're about raising money, they're about momentum. Tonight matters. We're off the. The start of the race is now. The Wizard of Odds, O-D-D-S, is here with the takeaways for you and the Democrats who are now less than 24 hours from their first round next.


[02:38:02] CUOMO: The Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten. Three questions and a handshake.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Shalom. CUOMO: Good to see you. Number one, aside from Warren, did any of these people perform their way into the big leagues?

ENTEN: Well, if we define the big league, it's to say as polling at five percent or above. There was one candidate on --

CUOMO: That's the big league.

ENTEN: Well, you know, the fact to the matter is when you have 20- plus candidates in this race, I mean, there's really only three candidates so far who've been breaking double digits regularly, Warren, Sanders and Biden.

CUOMO: And why do you need to be in that echelon by the way?

ENTEN: The reason I think it's important to be in that echelon is because on shows like this or shows, you know, on other parts, we always show the top five polling people, right? And it's so important to get there because at this point the voters just overwhelmed. Someone like myself has a lot of fun, oh my god, there are 24 candidates. They call in. Most of the voters are dismissing most of these candidates and they're trying to focus in on just a few.

So at this point, you want to be able to say, hey, you know what, I may not be the top dog but I can get there at some point. And to me, Cory Booker is only one coming out of this debate who can claim that, you know what, I was at two or three percent, I can jump now to five, six, seven, maybe eight percent. He had good favorable ratings coming in. And I mean, if you were to just look at across the board of people and seeing who they thought did well, Cory Booker across the board I think did very well.

And we saw that in Google searches for example where his Google searches were quite high. And although maybe he didn't have a great break out moment, he was just solid throughout.

CUOMO: Right. Look, and that's what we call it the horse race. Is that you need to move up in the standings and that get you more money or more bets on you.

ENTEN: Exactly.

CUOMO: All right. So number two. Beto. Some people go up, some other people go down. Now, you and I have talked about this before. There is a little bit of a farce at play. Beto O'Rourke was getting his apples shined by the media before he deserved because of what happened with Cruz.

ENTEN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Then we saw what happened with Buttigieg.


CUOMO: Then we saw what happened with Warren. And now she's going through that thrill phase, we'll see. Tonight, Julian Castro came in with a plan. I need to take you out. I want what you have. Some people are saying it's personal, whatever. He had a plan, he went at him for being shallow on policy.

[02:40:03] Being wrong about this, he had done his research and he said Beto O'Rourke hadn't, it got Castro a splash, what did it do Beto?

ENTEN: I think just basically fulfilled the prophecy that I honestly thought could happen to him and that is that he when it comes down to policy wonk, he is not there. He is someone who was bumped up by the media during his Texas Senate run, came into this debate with a lot of -- come into this campaign with a lot of positive energy from the media and then all of a sudden you start looking in there.

Is there someone really behind that mask or is it just a mask? And once you dig deeper, there's not a lot there. And I think that was a stereotype going in about Beto O'Rourke and tonight he did in no way dispel the idea that he is not a shallow candidate.

CUOMO: Is Buttigieg in the Beto position tomorrow night and the Biden debate to have his many babababuzz as I could fit into one sentence?

ENTEN: I would say as someone who has preview -- you know, Buttigieg or someone say, I'll put out those policy plans later, right now that's not what I'm interested in. And someone who has been pumped up by the media, someone who if you look at, you know, where his support is coming from, it's the type of people who are generally in the media, right? White college educated people.

People who are very liberal, you know, in cities. And to me he is the type of candidate who supporters are the people who are focused most in on the media. And if he has a poor performance tomorrow night and I would say that he is definitely in the type of position where you could see his support just drop.

CUOMO: You know, people say that tonight it was OK for Warren to kind of just hold her ground. I don't think that's enough for Joe Biden tomorrow. I think everybody is looking for the narrative to shift which is to start showing erosion of him. They're tired of him being in the lead in the media. We'll see. Even the Wizard of Odds doesn't know what's going to happen tomorrow until we'll see it.

ENTEN: Right. Look, we don't know what's going to happen. But we do know is that the media likes a horse race, right? They like things to change. And Biden's been ahead for a very long period of time. But there's also the fact that there a lot of people who think that Joe Biden's prime might be behind him. Look, he is a man in his upper 70s. And the fact is that he has to stand on that stage for two hours.

And I think there are some real questions about whether you can do that or not. If the Joe Biden that shows up the tomorrow night is the same Joe Biden that can be called sleepy Joe, that's bad news for him. But I will point this out to you, Chris, go back, look 12 years ago at those debate performances when he was in those primaries. He put in some of the best performances. If that Joe Biden shows up, I think he's going to surprise a lot of people.

CUOMO: Twelve years.

ENTEN: Twelve years is a --

CUOMO: Not 12 months. 12 years ago you are three inches shorter.

ENTEN: I was certainly in college and you were -- I don't know where you are.

CUOMO: I was right here.

ENTEN: You're right here.

CUOMO: My man, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thanks.

CUOMO: The Wizard of Odds. I'm telling you, my writer Susan came up with that, it's the best nickname I've heard in a long time but it's so fitting. All right. We're going to bring our political insiders back. A new round of 2020 Democrats, all right? Including the frontrunner as Harry was just saying, debate number two matters. Everybody is watching. In fact, more than debate number one. Why? Next.


[02:47:09] CUOMO: Round one is done. We're calling a round two tomorrow night, but really it's just an extension of round one because this is the first round of the real fight.

Now, you've got a different set of players in terms of importance. All right? And I know people get upset I said that, but it's true.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the frontrunners. They are on there tomorrow night. And it's not going to be like tonight where Elizabeth Warren had to her right and left, people who are barely registering in the polls. Everyone's kind of a player on this stage tomorrow night.

So, what will they take away from tonight? What matters tomorrow? Elaina Plott, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Mark Preston are back here right now.

You heard the question, Preston. First of all, do you think I'm wrong that tomorrow night is a definition on of players than we saw tonight?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's an absolutely definition on of players. And I also think you're going to see people attack it much differently, I think. What we saw tonight was what you would expect in a debate in a slow world. They weren't really engaging each other. But once the door got kicked open, there was a lot of engagement. I think we're going to see that a lot earlier tomorrow.

CUOMO: Do you agree, Siddiqui? SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I think that as you pointed out, all eyes will be on former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders who are coming into this debate as the clear frontrunners. But there are some of these candidates who have been more in that middle ground, like Senator Kamala Harris, for example.

CUOMO: Sure.

SIDDIQUI: Or someone like Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana who is not even really well known at all. And is emerged as unexpected player to kind of distinguish themselves in what is a very crowded field.

And I think for the question will be, to what extent are some of the candidates on the stage going to go after someone like Joe Biden who at this moment is certainly the one that they have to beat.

CUOMO: Plus-minus, right? There's an upside and there's a downside to taking somebody on. As you pointed out, seems like three days ago -- earlier tonight. Julian Castro planned it out, executed it well, and benefitted from it.

The proposition tomorrow night is going after the frontrunner, Joe Biden. What is the plus-minus on doing that?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't -- I don't know if all of the candidates up there are going to agree that Joe Biden is necessarily the front runner, even if the polls show that. I mean, I was speaking to a senior Trump campaign official last night who really does believe that Bernie Sanders will ultimately be the nominee.

And I think that what Warren in many ways failed to do tonight was sort of show ownership of that progressive lane that she kind of fights with Bernie Sanders over. You know, if anything, the most detailed she got with the policy was when she was borrowing from Bernie Sanders's Medicare for all plan. I mean, she even cited him directly.

So, Sanders now has the opportunity, I think not to go after Biden, but to show how the things that were popular that Warren said tonight were actually his brainchild. So, I don't know if you're going to see him necessarily, go after Biden, because I think Sanders will see himself as in a different lane entirely. You might see Senator Harris do that, on the other hand.

[02:50:09] CUOMO: Now, let's flip it. Joe Biden, he's there tomorrow night. He's not known to coast. You know, that's not known what he is especially in these situations. And now, that we've all been going back and doing our homework, he's at one line of machine in past debates.

There is a chance that Sanders may say something, you know, he can get on your nerves as a candidate. Senator Sanders can get on your nerve as journalists. And Biden may go at him. He may go with somebody else in the field. PRESTON: And they also have a history in the sense that they were in the Senate together for so many years and in -- and to your point, I do think Biden has a potential problem that he will take the bait on Sanders. And then, he'll try to go after Sanders. But we'll explain it in a way that only makes sense to him but not to anybody else. Right?

He'll talk about something happening and you know, you know 1997 -- you know where 1992. It would be interesting to see what Sanders does tonight because, in some ways, he does have to kind of pushback --


CUOMO: It is tonight. It's almost 3:00 in the morning.

SIDDIQUI: It is tonight. I was --

PRESTON: This -- we will see what Bernie Sanders does in about 10 hours today.


PRESTON: Yes, but some on our (INAUDIBLE). But what's interesting, I think is a couple of things. One is de Blasio, clearly was trying to go for that liberal mantle. OK, so now, Bernie Sanders is going to be looking over shoulder and saying, "You know what? I better try to push that back, push him back over the cliff before he climbs up over," right?

And it's -- and Elizabeth Warren as well, I think that he's going to have to push back against her whether he uses Biden as the foil or goes directly at people lovesick.

SIDDIQUI: Well, I think Sanders has already shown that he wants to use Biden as a foil because he has repeatedly gone after the former vice president's record. And that's one of the issues for Biden is that as the most experienced candidate in the race. That experience is both an asset and it's also a liability on the what --


CUOMO: Except fully for Sanders also, because to his point, they've been there a long time. Biden's people believe, Sabrina, that he can look at Sanders and say, "You've been a Senator a long time, too. You didn't accomplish half the things that I do."

SIDDIQUI: And I think that he might say, he might point too, for example, what Sanders hasn't had and hasn't accomplished.


SIDDIQUI: Where Sanders will kind of turn around and make it more about consistency. Ideological consistency, you know, is been a lot of scrutiny over Joe Biden's record on the race, and criminal justice, on women's issues. CUOMO: Yes.

SIDDIQUI: On even income inequality, and so, I think that that's where the kind of the back and forth that you might see them getting. And at the same time, that also gives other candidates the opportunity to kind of stay out of that fray, and really distinguish themselves on that stage.

PLOTT: But what I think Bernie Sanders has accomplished, even though yes, he has been in the Senate a long time. He is of the institution if you will. He has done what Ted Cruz was able to do. In 2015-2016, which was positioned himself as an anti-establishment candidate. Even though, you know definitionally speaking this is someone who, you know, Princeton Harvard law, Supreme Court clerk -- you name it. I mean, he was a creature of the swamp.

And Sanders has been a senator a long time, but he has in a sort of atmospheric sense quite, you know, quite actually positioned himself to where you don't think of that when you see Bernie Sanders --


CUOMO: Right. Well, he calls himself a socialist.

PLOTT: He calls himself a socialist, and --

CUOMO: And he has never really worked with people. You know, they try to change that but they just had this ranking recently of the people who have worked across the aisle. And he was like number -- you know, he was like at the end. I was like 47 out of 50.

PLOTT: Which has let makes Biden for him such a perfect foil.

CUOMO: Right.

PLOTT: That's she's not that they're both in the Senate. But Biden is someone who prides himself on being a bridge builder.


PLOTT: He is the system personified and that's what Bernie Sanders says he wants to dismantle.

SIDDIQUI: And what's also interesting about that matchup is I think it really gets at the heart of what we're not yet sure the Democratic primary will be about. Joe Biden very much wants to make this election about electability. It's been the central theme of his campaign.

He's been lesser focused on the general election, he knows he has to survive a primary. But for him this has all been about whether or not he can or which candy can take on Donald Trump. And he's not trying to actually build a movement, whereas, what Bernie Sanders did in 2016 as an insurgent candidate.

CUOMO: His called for a revolution. SIDDIQUI: Is he has called for a revolution?


SIDDIQUI: A grassroots movement around progressive ideals and Elaina's point earlier he has set the tone for what the Democratic field looks like in 2020.

CUOMO: And it's seductive. It is seductive especially for Democrats to dream big. One of the disadvantages they have is that when they're picking a candidate, they have to love him or her. And with Conservatives or whatever we call the right now -- I just say right and left.


CUOMO: I don't even know what the parties represent really anymore. But, on the right, they're about checking boxes and getting the coalition together being on the team and go. On the left, they got a fall in love.

Tomorrow night, or tonight, nine hours, whatever it is same suit. Will -- who will be your choice to be Julian Castro? Who is going to be the first thing that, that you don't expect?

PRESTON: Person, the breakout star. Then, who have in tough (INAUDIBLE) tonight. Right. I do think a lot of people do expect this, but we haven't said anything tonight about Kamala Harris, and I think that's somebody we should look at tomorrow night. She -- she's a prosecutor, she clearly knows how to debate.

And it will be interesting to see how she plays things out. And we talked about Pete Buttigieg. Earlier, Pete Buttigieg has shown that he is a leader. He's going through a lot of problems up in the -- in his city right now. Some people said that he didn't seem like he had the strength as a mayor to overcome this problems. Will he can turn and change it tomorrow?

[02:55:13] CUOMO: All right. Listen, leave it there. You guys were great thank you so much. It's great to have you all on this show.

SIDDIQUI: Yes, thank you.

PRESTON: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you for watching. I haven't said this in a long time. "EARLY START", with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs is next