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Presidential Election, A Vital Battle for America's Future; Interview With John Kerry, Former Secretary of State; 2020 Democratic National Convention; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With Dan Rather and Margaret Carlson. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 18, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Unity to restore the soul of America. With that, the Democrats are off to the races. Convention speaker and former presidential nominee, John Kerry,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, FORMER ANCHOR, CBS EVENING NEWS: The (INAUDIBLE) is part of what I call advanced democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Legendary newsman, Dan Rather, and the Daily Beast, Margaret Carlson, tell Walter Isaacson why conventions do matter and pick some of
their highlights from decades of covering them.
Plus, one of this year's presidential contenders, Senator Cory Booker, is on the program. He talks about his call for civic grace, and his good
friend, the vice-presidential pick, Kamala Harris.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
At their unconventional convention, the Democratic message is crystal clear. The stakes for the country and for the world have never been higher
as they seek to remove President Trump from office. The virtual summit framing this year's presidential election as a vital battle for America's
future, a life and death battle, even, with pleas for competent leadership coming from a wide range of voices across the party spectrum.
One of those speakers is the former secretary of state, John Kerry. He wants to see a Biden administration rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal and the
Paris Climate Accord. The Trump administration has rolled back a whole raft of EPA regulations, and now the White House controversially says it will
open Alaska's arctic wildlife refuge to oil drilling.
Kerry also knows exactly what it's like to be a Democratic nominee battling it out with a Republican incumbent as he faced off with President George W.
Bush in 2004. And he's joining me now from Boston, Massachusetts.
Secretary Kerry, welcome to the program.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I wanted to start by asking you something that's on top of mind, certainly from all the Democrats and obviously the Republican leadership as
well, and that's the brouhaha over the U.S. Postal Service and will it or will it not be fit for purpose coming the election and delivery of ballots?
So, we hear from the postmaster general who, as you know, is going to testify, Friday and Monday, before Congress. He says he is suspending all
the changes that had been mooted. Just tell me what he means by that and what particularly needs to be suspended.
KERRY: Well, this is at the heart of our democracy, and I think there's been just an incredible amount of bipartisan pushback on this. Veterans get
their checks through the mail. People get their Social Security. People get medical documents. I mean, there are so many different links to this entity
that was put into our constitution at the formation of our country, our first postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin.
So, they've been messing with the heart of America, and I think it caught up to them here. The question now is will they really internally not
continue to make certain moves, even as they sort of publicly move away from the things they announced? It is critical the Post Office get
additional money, additional funding in order to be able to carry out this election in ways that will not be contested. And it is also obvious that
the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has chosen to attack institution after institution, and he cares not one whit about the rule of
law or the democratic process.
He's already adopted authoritarian pet leaders, and he is practicing some of their ways here at home. So, this is a very critical moment for America
and for our election. It's one step, but it is going to have to be greatly reinforced by congressional oversight.
AMANPOUR: And just so everybody is clear, I'm sure everybody knows, but the postmaster general, DeJoy, was appointed by President Trump, and he's
saying to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I'm suspending initiatives until after the election. Retail hours will not
change. Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are. No mail processing facilities will be closed, and we
reassert that overtime has and will continue to be approved. So, that's where we are.
Now, Secretary Kerry, you are speaking at the convention. You know what it's like to have been a nominee. Just give me your overall thoughts about
how this is going so far? Obviously, it's all virtual. It's not like when you were there with crowds and balloons and applause and all the rest of
KERRY: Well, you hope applause. It's very different, obviously. But I thought it was a terrific night last night. Particularly I thought -- I
found moving, and I think a lot of people would agree, the young woman whose father died who said there are two Americans, the one that Donald
Trump lives in, and then the one that my father died in.
And it really underscores the gap in America today. I think she said the preexisting condition that her father had was a belief in what Donald Trump
was telling them, that it was going to go away. And in fact, he shaped his life choices on this premise of the president, using the credibility of the
White House saying it's going to go away.
So, there are a lot of people who have died. A lot of people have died because Donald Trump didn't pay attention, because he didn't listen to the
scientists, because he didn't listen to the scientist, because he didn't listen to the doctors, because he wasn't listening to professional advice,
because he had this whiz-bang crazy, out of reality, you know, view that he knew better than all of them, and he could say, oh, it's going to go away,
and he just wished it away. And now, the United States of America is the poster child country for bad response, for bad consequences. And we are
told now by the experts that here in America, we are inches away from having this COVID out of capacity to be brought into control.
So, this is a dangerous moment for us, and no one should under underestimate what is at stake not just in terms of pandemic response or
the safety and security of Americans at home, but our role in the world, the expectations in the world for the United States, the need for countries
to come together, the massive challenges we face in terms of nuclear weapons, cyber warfare and, of course, the monster of the law climate
crisis which will require nations to come together in ways that Donald Trump simply doesn't believe in, number one, and number two, is not capable
of carrying out even if he did.
AMANPOUR: I want to get to those, particularly climate, which you have been so front and center on, not only when you were secretary of state and
negotiating the 2015 Climate Accord, but also, in the current environment for Vice President Biden. You were part of the task force to put forward a
new climate policy. And you were, I guess, on the task force for the vice president, and your colleague, who was representing, I guess, Bernie
Sanders, was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman. And there was obviously some distance between the two parties. So, tell me how you
negotiated, how you came to an agreement for the platform.
KERRY: Well, we bridged the differences, and it was -- I was very impressed by everybody who took part in part of the task force. We had a
terrific staff. We worked very, very hard. We had a lot of meetings. And our goal was really to not find divisions but wished to find ways of
putting the best climate policy possible forward. We've done that. I believe Joe Biden has one of the most exciting climate initiatives ever put
forward, but a thoughtful one that will result, I think, in creating millions of new jobs in America and in the world, actually, will result in
restoring America's position of leadership on this issue, will see us immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement.
But more importantly, doing Paris now is not enough. Everybody has got to understand that. We are way behind, and even if we did everything that we
set out to do in Paris, we're still see warming of the earth up to about 3.7 degrees, which is catastrophic. So, what we were betting on in Paris
was accelerating the private sector and getting governments to move in the same direction. Because President Trump pulled out of it, he has slowed
everything down, because America has been undoing many of the things we needed to do, and notwithstanding states and cities have been working
extremely hard to stay with it.
What we will need to do on day one, and this is what President Biden will do, is not just rejoin but make it clear that in Glasgow, at the next
meeting of the conference of parties of the U.N., we have to lift ambition significantly on a global basis. And that is leadership that I know a
President Biden is prepared to provide.
AMANPOUR: So, Vice President Biden has said, you know, when I look at climate, I see jobs. When Trump looks at climate, he sees a hoax. So, let
me just play what Biden has said about his pledge on this issue for the American people and for the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know the climate change is a challenge that's going to define our American future. I know meeting the
challenge will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet for
future generations. And if I have the honor of being elected president, we're not just going to tinker around the edges. We're going to make
historic investments that will seize the opportunity and meet this moment in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Senator Kerry, you were a senator before. I mean, you are fully aware, obviously, of how difficult it is sometimes to wrangle legislation
and to get these big promises through, no matter how existential they are. You've seen what this administration has done, rolling back EPA regulations
on just about everything, and now, the idea of rolling back the sort of preservation of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling up there, for oil
Are these things that can be reversed, number one, and when you -- if you get into office, if the vice president gets into office with an ambitious
climate plan, do you think it even gets through Congress? Can it be made into law, meaningful policy?
KERRY: Yes, it can, and I think the American people have the opportunity to speak 80 days from the end of this convention. We will have our
election, and it is conceivable that the United States Senate will become Democratic, and I'm confident the House will stay Democratic. So, I believe
we'll have a unique opportunity to be able to do this.
But we also will do it because it's common sense, Christiane. It really is jobs. It's not a euphemism. There are a million jobs to be created in the
deployment of the charging stations that we need for zero emission vehicles, either hydrogen or electric. We need massive infrastructure built
to have a smart grid that will deliver new energy and better energy, cleaner energy to any part of the country at times where the demand needs
it. We have the ability to -- you know, Joe has set a goal of turning our 500,000 school bus fleet into electric vehicles.
We're going to have 3 million vehicles privately transitioned into electric as a target goal and provide incentives to help get that done. He's going
to help set a target for new buildings that will all be -- that anything that's new that is built is going to have to be carbon free by 2030. By
2025, we're going to have major steps forward in decarbonizing our power grid.
So, these are things that are achievable, and every one of those things you have to achieve requires jobs to be able to get it done. Construction jobs,
technical jobs, design jobs. I mean, there's just massive number of employment. Infrastructure is really what grew America post World War II,
and infrastructure will be what grows America post COVID as we begin to rebuild and rebuild better.
So, I'm absolutely confident. I mean, this is an exciting period of time, because that future, in fact, is one that will benefit people all around
the world, and it will bring greater security to our nation, greater security to the planet, to people everywhere. It will bring cleaner air,
less disease, and it will provide ultimately a stronger economy which is stronger security in and of itself. So in every way you measure it, this is
a plus. It's a win-win-win. And we've got to stop this lose-lose proposition of the president who just says it's a hoax.
We saw what happened with his proclamations of hoax about COVID. 106,000 Americans dead and more to come, unfortunately. It's tragic. It's
extraordinary that at this moment in history, we have the president that we have. And as Michelle Obama said last night, it is what it is. And people
need to look at what it is and go out and vote. Make our democracy work.
AMANPOUR: Being secretary of state, you obviously were very involved in the diplomacy that secured the U.S. for national security. What do you
think Americans need to know and allies need to know about a Biden presidency? What about the troops that are currently being potentially
removed from Germany that have historically kept the peace there? What about the Iran Nuclear Deal which the president in the current
administration is trying to really sort of blow up, so to speak, figuratively? Are those things reversible?
KERRY: Yes, they're reversible, but all with some complications that didn't exist previously. In Iran with respect to the Iran Nuclear
Agreement, the hardliners have been empowered by what Donald Trump did. Before Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement, ships weren't being shot
at in the Gulf, things weren't being blown up, we weren't at the brink of war. We were moving in the opposite direction. And now, those who
negotiated the original agreement, regrettably, have been discredited as a result of what the president did. We'll have to restore a measure of
credibility. In addition to which, we need to go farther than that agreement. I think people understand that.
Yemen has to be resolved. We have to have a security arrangement in the Gulf in which nations do not feel our being a threat. We need to find a way
forward that will advance interests broadly in terms of security in the region. Israel, obviously, faces a genuine threat from Iran, always has.
It's one we felt we were dealing with. And in fact, the Israeli security establishment supported the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Not the political
folks, but the security folks, the professionals.
And so, we have to get back to a place where we're talking, listening and reasonably moving forward in ways that don't make matters worse. I think
that's doable. I really am convinced it's doable. With respect to climate and other things, there are many things that can be turned around by
executive order. They can move fairly quickly. But nobody should look at everything and say, oh, we're just -- and I don't think a President Biden
does. I know in my conversations with him, he knows that the dynamics have shifted. We're living in a world that is changed from the world of four
years ago, and we have clarity, I think, with respect to certain things that need to be dealt with as we go forward.
So, I would anticipate very thoughtful, but very strong approach. Vice President Biden has been around this for a long time, knows the players,
knows the ins and outs. He's not going to be fooled by anything or anyone, and I think he will approach this extremely carefully and soberly but with
a view to a larger vision of where the world needs to go and how we get there. The great advantage of a Biden presidency will be the relationships
he brings to the table be and the years of experience that he has. I can't think of any person who might be about to become president historically who
has as much experience in this sector as Joe Biden does.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you personally, then, what you would say to him, your old friend from the Senate and from all sorts of years in between.
What would you say to him about the slings and arrows of politics? You were famously swift boated by the Bush administration when they cast aspersions
on your Vietnam service, and it hurts you. It did hurt you. I wonder whether you think, you know, the Trump administration trying to attack
Biden on terms of mental competence, I wonder if that's going to stick and what you might say or recommend or advise the vice president in this battle
KERRY: Well, I got to tell you, Donald Trump questioning anybody about mental competence is a new one. I mean, that will be an extraordinary event
and I would love to see that debate. I don't think that -- I mean, they've thrown the kitchen sink at Joe Biden. They spent months trying to eliminate
him. That's how Donald Trump got impeached because he got into the Ukraine situation trying to destroy Joe Biden.
And so, you know, the American people know Joe Biden. Barack Obama said that the wisest decision he made politically in his eight years was
choosing Joe Biden to be vice president of the United States. And for eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, we had not one whiff of scandal,
not one. Compare that to this administration.
So, I am personally looking forward to the debate, and I think that a lot of the arguments of Donald Trump and those around him have just fallen
absolutely flat to date, and I don't see what's going to suddenly give them life in the days ahead.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, thank you very much for joining us.
And now, we know that this year's conventions will be memorable for being so different. But throughout history, these nominating parties have
generated moments that still burn bright to this day.
Our next guests are perfectly positioned to curate this perspective. Dan Rather was a long-time anchor of the CBS Evening News, and Margaret
Carlson, a columnist for the Daily News now was the first female columnist for "Time" magazine. Here they are speaking with our Walter Isaacson about
some of their standout moments of the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNNI HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Margaret Carlson and Dan Rather, welcome to the show, both of you.
DAN RATHER, FORMER ANCHOR, CBS EVENING NEWS: Thank you. Good to be with you, Walter.
ISAACSON: We go a long way back on conventions and I remember all of us always saying, these things are so pointless, they don't really have any
meaning in this day and age. But now, what do you think we might be losing if we don't have these type of in-person conventions?
RATHER: Well, we lose a lot of focus. These two weeks have given us focus, kind of a national teach-in, if you will, or a master class in politics on
what our democracy hopes to be and thinks it can be and thinks it is. The other thing we miss is the sheer joy of it. The conventions are what I call
a dance of democracy. And now, with this unprecedented virtual convention today, sort of the music has gone out of the dance but we're still doing
the steps, if you follow that metaphor.
The parties could decide going forward that they all (INAUDIBLE) to a city convention is a thing of the past. It's one of the unknowns actually going
forward. But certainly, I personally as a journalist, miss the conventions. You know, even the hullabaloo and the boos and from the (INAUDIBLE) and the
balloons and the crowds. And yes, I miss the bar that that open at 11:00 in the morning, a chance to really smooth your politicians.
But there was a sense of the old fashion conventions before we move to this virtual one. Things did get decided there, certainly in the earlier part of
the mid-century, of the 20th century. When John Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson to be his running mate at the 1960 convention in Los Angeles, what
a stunner. I mean, only if the pope had turned Baptist would you have been any more surprised than you would have been surprised at that, and with the
tumultuous atmosphere of both the conventions in 1968, the Democratic Morgan. The Republicans -- there with the whole world watching, America's
divisions were right there on the television screen.
I mean, things were actually decided at conventions. By the time we got to almost 1980, the 1980 when Ted Kennedy made a run an incumbent President
Carter, and a pretty good run, I would argue that may be the last convention at which at the convention something really important was
actually decided. But even the ones that came after 1980, there is a certain excitement that I think reflects the country wanting to focus on
who we want to be, where we want to go and who we want to take us there.
AMANPOUR: You know, Margaret, every now and then, the surprises in 1988 convention down here in New Orleans. And I think you and I were together.
We were in charge to figure out who the vice president was going to be. And suddenly one day before he was supposed to announce it, Bush announces Dan
Quayle, and you had to scramble.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Oh, did we ever, because the only thing we heard from the Bush people was how much Senator Ted Kennedy
respected Dan Quayle for their work on the Labor Committee. We didn't know much -- you know, he's a decent guy, a quiet guy from Indiana, and, you
know, there was a little suspense. In Dan's day there was a lot more than in mine, but the vice-presidential pick was sometimes held until the very
end instead of -- well, when is he going to say it?
And if the presidential candidate doesn't reveal it, what's wrong with that campaign that they can't get themselves together to announce this? But now,
mostly that element is gone. Another element that's going to be gone this time is last week when I was watching the Biden-Harris rollout, at the end
of it, they waved the way -- you know, the professional wave and then you see somebody you went to camp with in the audience and you start pointing.
Gone. They were waving to an empty room, just about, except for a few friends and family and the press that got in.
So, you ask, what's the sound of no hands clapping? And the clapping and the audience, it really creates something all on its own. And, Walter, I
remember you not as a dancer or a music guy, but when the balloons dropped, you kind of went with the music because it's a great moment when the family
comes one by one until the whole stage is full and then you see Bush's fourth cousin twice removed is out there on the fringes. And one I remember
that went on forever is the don't stop thinking about tomorrow, and we're not going to have that.
ISAACSON: You know, one of the most memorable modern moments in the convention was 1968, and you were a new CBS News correspondent on the
floor, Dan. You were covering the White House, I think, and you were one of those floor correspondents and you got dragged out with Walter Cronkite
narrating. Tell me how that happened.
RATHER: Well, there was a great effort to keep a lid on it in Chicago. Inside the hall, Mary Daly (ph), the Chicago (INAUDIBLE), was in cahoots,
if I can use the Texas word, with the main part of the Democratic Party. To keep the lid on the inside of the hall while the nomination is actually
happening. Outside it was held by, you know, the police and the protesters. What a tumultuous time.
So, in the middle of that, from the (INAUDIBLE) when they said everybody stay in their seats, nobody move from their seats, well, during that, a
Georgia delegate got up and people in plainclothes, they -- one of the officers grabbed him and started wrestling him out to the hall. Well, it
was a floor reporter. I said, this is a story, what the hell was going on here? And the guys who were wrestling him out in the hall eventually one of
them hit me in the solar plexus, knocked me down because they didn't want me to interview this Georgia delegate.
As it turned out later, the Georgia delegate was desperate to go to the men's room. He wasn't meeting in revolution, he just wanted to go to the
men's room, but because the orders from above that nobody move. So, it was a microcosm of exposing the extreme effort to keep control of the
convention inside as well as control the protesters in the outside.
ISAACSON: It was on live and Cronkite cut the camera to you just as you were being hit, right?
RATHER: That's correct. And so, you know, it was on live television and it went -- we would say these days, viral all over. We didn't have the
internet at that time. But I think the point was it drew attention, as they say, in a really unprecedented effort to keep the control inside the
convention hall and outside the convention hall, and it didn't work.
ISAACSON: This is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. And I certainly remember a lot of memorable moments at
conventions that elevated women in politics, whether it was Ann Richards' speech at the -- opposing George H.W. Bush or I think Palin, Margaret,
you've written about her. Tell about -- Margaret, let's start with you, some of the most memorable moments that involved women in politics.
CARLSON: Well, you know, there's the Geraldine Ferraro moment which was a first and was very, very exciting. She ultimately lost, just like Hillary
Clinton ultimately lost, but these are not lost on women. And isn't it fitting that the 100-year anniversary comes as we have the first black
woman on the Biden-Harris ticket?
You remember, Walter, I think we had -- we were always celebrating the year of the woman in the magazine and then it turned out not to be the year of
the woman. But after the Clarence Thomas hearings, so that must have been '92, we did have a small year or the woman when six women were elected to
the Senate. Before that it had been Mikulski and (INAUDIBLE) in there. It - - California elected two women, Boxer and Feinstein. And then this year, we have Harris.
In 2018, the House turned Democratic, in part because of all the women who were elected.
So, you get the vote, and then it takes a long time for your vote to be appreciated and for your participation. In the rollout of Kamala Harris,
Senator Harris, there were interviews with all these black women who had done amazing things in their communities, in their states that we hadn't
It felt like everything they done had come to fruition.
ISAACSON: And, Dan, you remember when Palin got the vice presidential bid from McCain.
RATHER: Oh, I remember it as if it was yesterday.
Again, it was a stone-cold stunner that nobody expected with John McCain. But, as we now know, we realize he was behind, and he needed a desperate
gamble. In this case, the gamble did not pay off.
But it was a long shot gamble to reverse what had become the narrative of the campaign. But even much earlier, as early as 1964, I can remember this
was when Lyndon Johnson was essentially (INAUDIBLE) it was, but there was a renegade delegation from Mississippi represented by a black woman whose
name I think was Hamer.
ISAACSON: Fannie Lou Hamer?
RATHER: Provided one of the more important and brighter moments of that otherwise dull 1964 Democratic Convention, when they insisted to be heard,
and were making the point that, number one, people of color were underrepresented at the convention, and, number two, so were women.
ISAACSON: What did you think, Margaret, when you first saw Sarah Palin, because she was electrifying at the convention?
CARLSON: Oh, Walter, that speech was so electric. And she was spectacular. She just had this spirit and this presence.
And I was so swept away. And I got to write the piece, thank you. And the headline on it was -- and I want to take this back before I say it -- "A
Star Is Born." That's how good that speech was.
And when she -- we won't have that this time, a co-campaign -- but when she was out on the campaign trail with McCain, she made him 20 years younger.
They didn't campaign that much together. But when they did, it was really good for him.
The problem was, she didn't know very much and she hadn't really seen that much from her front porch in Alaska, certainly not Russia. And she became a
caricature after the Katie Couric interview, which shows how you can go up in politics and how you can come down and say, in Hillary Clinton's case,
how you can rise again.
ISAACSON: Margaret, from what I remember, what happens at the convention itself in the hall is sometimes less important than what's happening at all
the breakfasts, the briefings, the discussions, and, for that matter, the socializing and the parties.
Why was that so important to the way democracy worked and to the way we covered politics?
CARLSON: Well, most of the people that you meet, you don't meet actually on the floor of the convention.
I won't name a great journalist who told me, why do you care so much about getting a floor pass? I never go to the floor. And he just hung out in all
the places you needed to be. Started with breakfast at 7:00 and closed the bar at 2:00 a.m. and then went to an after-party, because, in the village
of the convention, in that area surrounding it and all the bars and parties, not only everybody knows everybody, but everybody acts like they
So you can walk up and talk to somebody you have never met, like Donald Trump, or actually Bill Clinton. And that would matter later on. And then,
also, they get to know you, whether they're going to talk to you when you pick up the phone.
So, it all matters, because it's a futures game when you're at the convention, as well as what's happening right then and there.
ISAACSON: Give me an example, Dan, or a memory or two of what may have happened to you at the fringes of the convention where you learned
RATHER: Well, 1960 was the first year in which I covered both conventions, both the Democrat and Republican Conventions.
I was not yet at CBS News. I was covering for a regional television network. And a high-ranking member of the Johnson staff, in fact, John
Connally, who was governor and right hand of the president, did take me aside.
I didn't know particularly, but I did knew him. Did take me aside and he said, don't assume that LBJ won't be on the ticket.
And when he said that to me, frankly, I was saying to myself, yes, but I don't think it's very likely. And, of course, it turned out to be true. So
that was a very valuable piece of information. I wish I had taken it and run with it a little harder, but I was very suspicious of it.
ISAACSON: Margaret, do you worry that candidates can now just bypass the news media and that what happens on TV and in newspapers doesn't really
CARLSON: Do I ever worry about that, and does it ever hurt me, because think about the convention we're about to see. It could be the Twitter
convention, in which the first impression people get is from their Twitter feeds, skipping us altogether, because we will be coming out in the middle
of the night.
You know, it's -- we were there in the golden age of journalism. So much has happened and so much is lost. And I don't think it's just because I'm
in it that I say that. I think, someday, people will come back to the notion that we weren't fake news, and that buying a newspaper, as a
citizen, was a good thing to do, and that it mattered. How you used to learn about what was happening in your government really mattered.
ISAACSON: Some of the most memorable moments for me at conventions have been the great speeches, whether it was Ted Kennedy's a dream shall never
die at that 1980 convention we have been talking about, or Jesse Jackson taking the early morning bus.
Margaret, what's most memorable for you in terms of great convention speeches?
CARLSON: Well, the first always being the best.
In 1988, George Bush gave a speech that was so unlike George Bush, because he had to talk about himself and the great I, which his mother told him
never to say. And he had one line in there. And he said, "I am a quiet man, and the quiet people hear me."
And I thought that is not just him, but it was his presidency, in which he almost always did what he thought was right, whether or not we thought it.
And I was just impressed by that.
RATHER: The one that stands out the most was Barack Obama, who had just been elected the senator from Illinois, made a tremendous speech at the
And I interviewed him immediately after that speech. And most politicians, they drill you in the eyes, make strong eye contact. But hearing the speech
and the way he handled himself in the wake of that speech, I did find myself saying, there's a great future ahead for him.
I can't say I thought he would become president of the United States as quickly as he did. But for a speech that was not a candidate on the ticket,
it was the most memorable talk, a tremendous speech.
And every young aspiring politician, whatever their party, they would do worse than to take that Obama's speech, which vaulted him into the national
consciousness, as a model for how to make a brilliant convention speech on television.
ISAACSON: Dan Rather, Margaret Carlson, I hope I'll see you all at a convention someday in the future, but thanks for being with us this
RATHER: Thank you, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, that Obama's speech in 2004 was for John Kerry, who we just interviewed earlier, when he was contesting the election in
Now, the Democrats have ensured that this is a political convention unlike any other, with one striking takeaway, and that is unity. Divisions in the
party during the 2016 election ultimately resulted in defeat. But now Biden's former rivals are standing up to show support, like Senator Cory
The one-time presidential candidate pushed for reconciliation during his campaign, as he prepares to speak on the final night of the convention.
Cory Booker is joining me now from New Jersey.
Senator Booker, welcome to the program.
I just wanted to ask -- start by asking you -- you're going to be speaking on Thursday night, the last night of the convention. Can you give us any
hints? Can you tell us what your speech is going to be about, the theme?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, sure.
I doubt it will be what you expect. But the reality is -- you said it -- I have always felt that this nation, especially now, after years of Donald
Trump, we need to all come together and bring about a revival of civic grace, understand that we need each other, we belong to each other.
And this nation has always gotten better and better when we find ways to put more indivisible into this one nation under God. So, those are the
themes that I think Joe Biden exemplifies, where he has really brought together a team of rivals.
And you're going to see us all, so many of us who ran against him now standing firm, from last night's Amy Klobuchar to Bernie Sanders believing
that he's the leader that we need to help bring this country together, heal and move forward.
AMANPOUR: So, to that point, let me just play what Bernie Sanders did tell people on the first night of the convention.
I mean, he looked directly into the camera, and you could tell that he was talking to his supporters. So, let's just play a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.
During this president's term, the unthinkable has become normal. He has tried to prevent people from voting, undermined the U.S. Postal Service,
deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protesters, threatened to delay the election, and suggested that he will not leave
office if he loses.
This is not normal. And we must never treat it like it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Senator Booker, let me ask you, because, obviously, Bernie Sanders represented and is the progressive part of the Democratic Party.
And he was really there doing stuff that he hadn't done in terms of rallying his supporters to vote.
As he said, the most important thing is to remove President Trump from office, from their perspective. Is this a unity that you believe in right
now? Is it something that may fray after the election? How do you judge what's happening inside the Democratic Party right now?
BOOKER: Well, the benefit and blessing that New Jersey afforded me is, I get to serve in the Senate with a lot of the competitors against Joe Biden.
And from Bernie Sanders, to Elizabeth Warren, to Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand, I mean, there is an array of people who've been fighting
together to try to stop Mitch McConnell and bring about a more just and even progressive agenda.
And so I know it's real, because I get to hang out with Bernie, and to see how committed he is, not just to beating Donald Trump, but he has said on
the record that -- and I think he said last night that this could be one of the more progressive administrations since FDR, that the times right now
are calling for big, bold actions to rescue our economy, affirm the solid ground, economic ground, for workers in America, and help us to thrive
again in an increasingly competitive world.
So, I know this is real. I know the heart of the various people who ran. And they all have very loyal supporters. But we have all been giving
messages to our supporters. It's time for us to come together to end this national nightmare and to bring about a new day for our nation.
AMANPOUR: So, you mentioned Senator Harris as one of your colleagues in the Senate, but you have also said she's more than a senator, she's more
than my colleague, she's my sister.
It appears you're very close. You have sort of kind of grown up together along your political trajectories. Tell me what it is about her that makes
you so confident. And just give us some anecdotes about her as a person.
BOOKER: Well, understand, this is somebody that I think people in the African-American community especially can relate to. She's an AKA, a great
black fraternity, part of the Divine Nine.
She's graduated from Howard University, which has legions of great graduates that we know in American history, but none has ever ascended to
this position. So she has been somebody who's been having to be a trailblazer every single point of her life.
But I know her as the full, textured, incredible person that she is, from someone who can tell you how to make some great lentils, which makes this
vegan really happy...
BOOKER: ... all the way to somebody that can sit with you in the rooms where the sausage is being made, and her fine attention to detail, knowing
that a line here or a comma here can make a difference for a lot of people.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, because that's a great image you just conjured up.
It's very difficult for women in American politics. As we have seen, they have not yet been able to shatter that final glass ceiling. And, in any
event, no matter what stage of their life, a competent, ambitious, feisty woman like Kamala Harris can always be called too ambitious or have
derogatory comments thrown away.
It's already happening. How difficult is it? And how will she insulate herself in a way that perhaps Hillary Clinton couldn't? And particularly as
a black woman, it must be doubly, doubly difficult.
BOOKER: Well, I -- again, Kamala Harris eats difficult for breakfast. I mean, she has -- there's only been two black women senators in the history
of the United States of America. She did that.
She was the first African-American woman statewide in the office that she held for the most populous state in the nation. She did that. I can go
through her career, that she keeps doing things. And then, in worlds where people say, oh, well, how is she going to do, how she's going to make it,
well, she has distinguished herself, continuing to be elevated by the communities in which she served.
So, I already know who she is. I'm just excited, really excited, to see America discover her, to get to know her better, and really rejoice.
And is it going to be hard, is it going to be difficult? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Every stride on the road to justice in this nation had to be paid
for in sweat and struggle and sometimes blood.
Kamala comes from that tradition, and she is going to advance the torch of promise and possibility in America. She's going to be one of the greatest
light workers in the pantheon of our modern history. And I'm just excited for her.
And I know she's ready for it. And I'm grateful that America now has the chance to see what I have been seeing every day now for years.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has a whole load of foreign policy expertise and a lot of national
security expertise as well.
Now, I want to go back to what you said just a little bit earlier, talking about grace and trying to knit back the fabric of America. And, obviously,
on the first night, you probably were wowed, like many people have sent in very great reviews of what Michelle Obama, the former first lady, said.
She talked a lot about empathy. And this is what -- this is some of what she said. I'm going to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: Whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we
get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy.
Empathy, that's something I have been thinking a lot about lately, the ability to walk in someone else's shoes.
Right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They're looking around wondering if we
have been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Cory Booker, you were mayor, and you were known for running around town sometimes helping people shovel out from their snowy driveways.
So, this must have resonated a lot with you. But, also, America is in a place where it's described as being ripped apart, unlike at any other time
in modern memory anyway. How difficult will it be to restore that fundamental respect between people and affection, even if they don't always
BOOKER: And I will answer what you said.
I mean, you literally have adversaries as far as globally going on -- I know the intelligence reports -- going on our social media platforms,
parading like they're Americans, and trying to whip up even more divisiveness, because they know, when the United States of America is a
divided states of America, we're weak.
And so, right now, that is the call of this country, is to put more indivisible back into this one nation under God. And you can't do that
unless you care for the other, even if they think or vote different than you. You can't do that unless you realize that patriotism, at its very root
of this word is this ideal of loving the other, loving your neighbor.
And so this is a moral moment in America about, will we find a way to affirm the lines that divide us are not as strong as the ties that bind us?
This is the work now of this country.
And, America, if you agree with me, then the question is going to be, who better can lead to that, the guy who for almost four years now we have seen
being demeaning, degrading, divisive, even dehumanizing to other Americans, or someone like Joe Biden, who has shown he ain't perfect, but he has grace
about him, he has a love of others?
I really do believe, as one leader I respect said, you can't lead the people if you don't love the people. It's going to be a choice that is so
clear for America, choose a person that can get us back on a pathway to what leaders like John Lewis called for us to be, which is a more beloved
AMANPOUR: Senator Booker, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, a few years ago, admittedly, said about Joe Biden that, if you
didn't like this guy, whether you agreed politically or not, there was something wrong with you. He was just that decent.
And I wanted to ask you, because, in one of your taped remarks this week, you recanted and recalled when you were running against him in the primary
how during a commercial break during one of the debates you had a you had an exchange.
BOOKER: Yes, I was going at Joe on issues of racial reconciliation.
And even in a joking way, I talked about him not knowing the flavor of the Kool-Aid. And Joe, during the whole campaign, but especially on a number of
debates that we had together, showed me just grace and kindness, I mean, encouraged me, and actually celebrated it and thought it was really
important for me to be in this contest.
And it wasn't in a patronizing way. I mean, he bluntly said, talked openly about what my qualifications were to be president of the United States. And
I have been massaged before by politicians. And this wasn't that. This was when no cameras were on.
And he was just telling me. And I have now since talked to other folks who had highs and lows in the campaign and talked to me about how Joe met him -
- them where they were and showed that same kind of human decency.
And so I'm telling you, when I was mayor of the city I'm sitting in now, I learned very quickly that hiring for talent first is a mistake. You hire
for character first and for decency and goodness first.
And that's what America needs to hire their next president on, is, what's the state of their soul? How much are they going to try to bring this
country to a higher virtue?
AMANPOUR: Can I just go back to one of the things that really was divisive all throughout the first -- well, throughout the Trump presidency, and that
was the Russia investigation?
Now, you just -- we have just been talking about the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they have come out with a report today that seems to portray
the supposed collaboration between the Trump camp and Russians much more intimately than even the Mueller investigation.
Let me just read a few bullet points, gives the most comprehensive account get of how Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The Senate report goes
even further than the Mueller investigation, revealing new information about contacts between Russian officials and associates of President Trump
during and after the campaign.
And it was, of course, a Republican senator, Richard Burr, who oversaw that report.
What does that say to you today? Is that moment just passed? Are there lessons to be learned about that?
BOOKER: Yes, look, the president was impeached.
And you had Republicans even saying that what he did was wrong in trying to solicit foreign interference with our election. He -- there's evidence that
his -- from his campaign manager, who had ongoing interactions with Russian -- an Russian intelligence officer, to the glee of his son, who played a
very pivotal role in the campaign, that seemed to have -- knowing where information was coming, that he could get dirt on their opponent.
This is a president who has been trashing our norms. I think he's trashed the law, but the norms of this nation and the values we hold, and, in many
ways, his engagements with an adversary who I know wants to undermine our democracy, send us into chaos.
That is very, very troubling and should be for all Americans. This is not past. This is a president who told us what he -- who he is, has said openly
that he invites help from foreign nations, hasn't denied what he did for what he was impeached on.
And I think that people should take that in a very sober manner, as we continue to see him to trash our norms and our institutions, and really
show authoritarian bents in the way he's tried to lead this nation.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you to comment on something which I know you have been asked many times, but I want to ask you again, because it's important
for the election.
President Trump in a tweet said: "The suburban housewife will be voting for me. They want safety and are thrilled that I ended the long-running program
where low-income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it in a bigger form with Cory Booker in charge."
What's wrong with that picture, apart from "The Wall Street Journal" saying that Biden leads among suburban women 56 percent to Donald Trump's 39
BOOKER: Well, I always tell, people be afraid of people who want to make you afraid.
And Donald Trump is trying to whip up fear and demagoguery and, frankly, rank racism, in my opinion, to make people so scared that they run to vote
for him, when we know this is not true.
Joe Biden has already served in the White House. We have seen him -- what he's stood for and what he's fought for. And then for him to evoke my name,
as if I'm some kind of boogeyman scaring suburban folks or suburban white folks, I grew up in the suburbs.
My parents had to get a white couple to pose as them to buy the house I grew up in. I was pleased that, when those tweets were going viral, I saw
so many people tweeting out, hey, I would love for Cory Booker to live next door to me.
One person, I think, even said that they would love me living next to them because they know I would shovel their driveway.
We love each other more than this president seems to think. And we're better than the racism that he tries to foist or the fear-mongering that he
tries to incite.
We are going to close this chapter, God willing, in a little over 70 days.
AMANPOUR: Cory Booker, there should be a lot more neighborly driveway shoveling.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
AMANPOUR: And, finally tonight, the 19th Amendment was ratified 100 years ago today. It gave women in the United States the right to vote.
So, Joe Biden's choice of running mate has many layers of eloquence to it. Kamala Harris is the first black and the first South Asian woman to be a
vice presidential pick.
Meanwhile, on somewhat shakier ground with female voters this time around, President Trump is reaching out by declaring this National Suffrage Month.
He's also pardon the activist Susan B. Anthony, who was tried and found guilty of voting back in the 1872 presidential election, when only men
The irony, of course, of the president's recognition has not been lost on those who point to active voter suppression under way today.
We leave you with these historic pictures of those brave activists who fought for American women to have a say in their democracy.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.