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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Sanders with the Pope at the Vatican; Clinton to Speak at Harlem Senior Center; Gloves Off, Knives Out in Democratic Debate. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 15, 2016 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: -- on the changes in the global economy in the last 25 years, stressing as was the topic of his paper, the urgency of a moral economy.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN HOST: All right, Ben Wedeman reporting live from Rome from the -- near the Vatican. Thanks so much.

Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. "AT THIS HOUR" with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman. Kate is off today. What you've just been watching is something really, really interesting. Bernie Sanders at the Vatican. Hopefully, we'll pull up some pictures of what just happened.

Bernie Sanders just spoke to a group at the Vatican, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. This is sort of a think tank there. He was invited, or he asked to go, depending on who you ask, to talk about income inequality, the moral economy, as Bernie Sanders likes to city.

This event coming just one day after the big CNN debate in Brooklyn, just a few days before the big New York primary. There were a lot of questions about whether it was smart for Bernie Sanders to leave not just the state by leave the country with so little time before big votes were cast here. But obviously, Senator Sanders thought it was a very, very important moment.

Just a few minutes ago, he spoke to reporters. He said the reason he went is these issues are crucial to him. He also spoke about his admiration for Pope Francis. He said Pope Francis speaks about many of the things that he thinks are crucial, not just income inequality but also the battle against climate change.

Again, the pictures you're looking at right now, Senator Sanders answering a very few questions just moments ago. We also recorded the entire speech he gave. That sound will come to us in just a few minutes as well.

Joining me now to discuss what just happened in the Vatican and the ramifications for New York, I'm joined by Jeff Zeleny, senior Washington correspondent. Also with us, CNN political commentator and one-time presidential campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, Patti Solis Doyle. Here with us as well, CNN political commentator Angela Rye, who's the

former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jonathan Tasini is a political strategist and author of "The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America." He's also a surrogate for the Sander campaign. And Bob Beckel, a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist.

Thank you all for being with us. I want to start with Jeff Zeleny here with us in New York, who's covering the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign. But that campaign, at least when it comes to Bernie Sanders, a whole lot of miles away at the Vatican.

Jeff, what went into this decision?

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The decision was very personal for the Senator. Some of the advisors did not really mask the fact that they weren't sure how wise it was for him to leave New York four days before the critical primary. He insisted on it.

He really is connected to the message of Pope Francis. He really is connected to the issues of social justice and the economy. And he got an invitation to speak at this conference. His campaign has shown us a copy of that. It came a week before he announced it. There was some controversy over how it was announced.

But I think setting that aside, for Senator Sanders, I think this is a moment to show that, you know, he's more than just a Vermont senator. He's more than just someone who is sort of, you know, creating an uproar in the Democracy party. He has real issues. And what a better place to highlight them than the, you know, images we're seeing on the screen right now in Vatican City.

You know, it's a bit of a zoo, as it sort of always is. But he really wants to make this case here. And in the speech that we'll hear, he absolutely does that.

And I also asked him, you know, taking time off the road, is that smart. He said, look, Hillary Clinton is going to be in California raising money this weekend longer than he will be out of the country in the Vatican. So probably a fair point.

BERMAN: She's with the Clooneys. She's with the Clooneys.

ZELENY: Right. Correct.

BERMAN: You have the Clooney and the Pope. This is like major star power, although he's not meeting with the Pope. We think he's done, Jonathan Tasini. We think he gave the speech, he answered a few questions, and that's it. That's a long way to go to this event.

You know Bernie Sanders. You know what makes him tick. Jeff Zeleny was saying this was personal decision for him. Why?

JONATHAN TASINI, SANDERS CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Well, I think, you know, what Jeff said, it was right on the mark. I think he feels very powerfully about the connection to the Pope. He's talked about the Pope and quoted the Pope repeatedly over the -- during the campaign trail. And he's often said, you think I'm radical? Listen to what the Pope's saying.

And actually from Bernie's speech, which we just got, he says that the people of America, they suffer not some from the boom bust cycles on Wall Street but from a world economy that puts profits over pollution, oil companies over climate safety and arms trades over peace. And they said Pope Francis has given the biggest name to the predicament of modern society, the globalization of indifference.

And I think it speaks to Bernie is motivated by changing the country and the world. He knows the politics of this. He wants to win New York. What's motivating him is what he often talks about as the political revolution. And he sees the connection to the Pope as part of that effort.

BERMAN: This is part of his effort. It's part of his campaign. He quotes Pope Francis frequently on the trail. He talks about the idolatry of money. He talks about the Pope's writings on climate change as well. It is part of his campaign. That much is clear.

But Bob Beckel, what is also clear is that when you look at the campaign calendar, the campaign calendar is real estate, right? And he just seeded some of that real estate to the Clintons. Do you think it was a risk worth taking?

BOB BECKEL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes, and I'll tell you why. Two of Bernie Sanders -- one of his political problems is people wonder whether he has any foreign policy gravitas. Any time you go to the -- I don't care where you go -- you go out of the country, and it makes you look a little bit more presidential. That's one. And so that serves a purpose.

And secondly, let's remember that we're going through the Catholic belt here. I don't want to sound like -- I don't think anybody from Bernie's own commitment to the things he is -- but you know, the first populous this year was the Pope. I mean, he caught onto this four year ago or three years ago.

And so yes, they agree with that, but it's perfect as sort of a backdrop for Bernie. He couldn't be in a better place than he's in right now, and particularly, you've got so many Catholics in New York and New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I don't want to be cynical, John. I don't want to be cynical, but...

BERMAN: None of us ever want to be cynical. That's why we do it so much.

Patti, let me bring you into the conversation right now. Because I've spoken to senior advisors for both the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign, and they're both -- they're all actually ambivalent about this trip. I think maybe in some ways, the Sanders advisors more than the Clinton advisors, the Sanders people say, oh, we're not so sure it's a great idea, you know, as of yesterday.

They were like, we don't think he's going to meet about the Pope, and they weren't excited about that. But the Clinton people were not willing to say it was a bad idea. Your view?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, look, I agree with Bob. Were it not on the timing, you know, five days before the New York primary, this is a very good thing for Bernie Sanders to do. It puts him on the international stage. And when you're running for president, that's a good place to be.

Clearly, he's being very well received from the footage that we saw. And Bob's right. The Catholic vote is very important. But it is five days before the primary, and when you're 17 points down, you probably want to be in New York right now.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton's still in New York right now. And I'm getting word that she may actually speak shortly. That'll be interesting to have Hillary Clinton speaking to reporters in public in New York City while Bernie Sanders, himself, is at the Vatican.

You know, Angela Rye, where is the camp -- we have live pictures right now. Here's Hillary Clinton. She is in Harlem right now. I understand she's at a senior center there. As soon as she starts talking, we will -- we will take the comments live.

Angela, while we're waiting for Hillary Clinton, tell me where you think we are right now hours after the CNN debate, days -- just a few days before the New York primary?

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, and I think just to tie this back into the Vatican trip, I am going to be a little bit more cynical and say I think that this has everything to do with a weak spot for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders early on was criticized for his religious beliefs and how he's engaging religious people.

So for him to go to the Vatican at a time where it looks as though he's not -- he says he's deeply spiritual, but he didn't say much more, I think it was a smart move. And maybe his campaign folks will realize one day that it was also very smart.

It also is interesting because the debate last night was fierce. I don't know that we expected anything different with them being Brooklyn. One of them, an adopted daughter, and one born son, a native son, as he referred to himself.

So because it was so tense, it was time to bring civility back to the discourse. And what better place to do that than at the Vatican.

BERMAN: That's a great point. I mean, this turns -- you can't turn the page more than this right now, can you?

Again, we've been watching Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton's in Harlem right now at a senior center. She's near the microphone. When she starts talking, we will bring that -- we will bring that to you live.

BECKEL: (Inaudible).

BERMAN: Yes, Bob, go ahead. BECKEL: Yes, I started to say, first of all, I didn't know he was on

camera, so I think I had (inaudible) my lunch.

But this is another important point here is that if you're going to be a serious candidate for president who happens to be a Jew, and there's been very few of them, if any, this is exactly the right place to be to deal with that issue. So I mean, I don't -- I can't understand all the whining about it at his campaign. You're not going to get --

BERMAN: OK, Bob. Bob, let's listen to Hillary Clinton here right now.

BECKEL: OK.

BERMAN: She is -- she's just getting ready to talk in Harlem.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am so happy to be here at the Corsi Senior Center with my friend, the speaker. Thank you so much, Melissa.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: I've had a chance to meet some of you who live here. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: And I now know where to come when I want a good game of dominos.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: Look, I wanted to come here to really make a very strong plea that we do more when I am president to help the people who live in developments like this.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: Today, too many New Yorkers are struggling to pay rising rents. They're being priced out of communities where they've lived were years, pushed further away from jobs and quality schools and good transportation. And Latino and black families are being hit the hardest.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: That's why I'm making investing in affordable housing a major priority of what I call my "breaking every barrier" agenda.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: So we're going to create more incentives from the federal government for affordable housing. We're going to boost funding for what are called Section 8 vouchers. We're going to give people more choices as to where they live, and we're going to do more to help, particularly young people afford to buy a home. I want to provide $10,000 to match the money for a down payment, so

your children, your grandchild, all of our young people can get a home if they want that.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: And at the same time, I am going to work hard with leaders like the speaker to put more federal money back into public housing like the Corsi Senior Center.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: You know, over the past 15 years, federal funding for the New York City Housing Authority has decreased by nearly 30 percent. You've lost nearly a third of the funding that used to come from the federal government to New York.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: And I know that the New York Housing Authority is billions of dollars behind in making repairs and maintenance. I saw some of those problems in the apartment we visited.

(TRANSLATOR TRANSLATING)

CLINTON: Residents are forced to live with mold --

BERMAN: All right, Hillary Clinton at a senior center in Harlem here in New York. We're going to keep our eye on that. We will let you know if she takes questions from the press or makes any news there.

Jeff Zeleny, fascinating timing here. No, this is the first we've heard from Hillary Clinton today. You get the sense the Clinton campaign wanted this, wanted Hillary Clinton in Harlem within minutes of Bernie Sanders being at the Vatican.

ZELENY: I mean, for first thing, I've spent the last year covering her campaign. It's one of the first times she's been actually on time to an event, speaking right after Bernie Sanders.

Look, this is classic Hillary Clinton in a good way. I think, you know, she's running for president, this nomination, as though she's running for Senate in New York, going to senior centers, to neighborhoods, riding the subway. Yes, a few photo ops thrown in there, but, you know, that was about as granular of a speech, how she will do things, as Bernie Sanders was sort of lofty, you know, what we must do. That's kind of like the difference here I think.

But, I mean, the -- this is her only public appearance of the day, and as soon as she's finished there, she's heading right to the airport flying to Los Angeles for a fundraising trip, which is totally fine. She needs money for her campaign.

But without questions, the campaign definitely wanted to recreate a dueling image there that she is a doer. She will do these things, you know, specific policies for housing and whatnot. Bernie Sanders is in the Vatican sort of talking about it.

But she's been, you know, on the foreign stage -- policy stage much more than him, so I think, you know, it's a nice contrast after last night's sort of shout fest.

BERMAN: It is fascinating that neither candidate so far as we can tell so far has even mentioned the debate out loud just a mere, you know, few hours after what was by far the most dramatic Democratic debate.

Guys, stand by. A lot more to talk about, including those words at that debate. The gloves, they were definitely off amid a number of other cliches as well. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, they exchanged some of the fiercest blows yet in the Democratic debate. We'll discuss who came out on top, if anybody.

Donald Trump blasts a rigged system that is stacked against him? We'll talk about his new attack on his party, a "Wall Street Journal" op ed. Pretty dramatic words. That's coming up.

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BERMAN: All right, here in New York City, we are still basking in the glow, or perhaps living under the shadow you might say, of last night's battle in Brooklyn, the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. We are back with our panel to discuss.

Let me bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny first. Jeff, this debate, this was different.

ZELENY: It was different. I think largely because the moment in time. This was debate number nine. But, you know, it is coming right before this critical New York primary.

Bernie Sanders had some explaining to do to the rest of the Democratic party. You know, He's been raising questions about her qualifications. She's been raising questions about is he ready or not.

At the end of the day, I think this race is still frozen in place in the exact state it was, but so much more testy. If you look at the tone from six months or so ago when Bernie Sanders says enough with the damn e-mails, I'm not sure he would have answered that the same last night.

This has gotten raw. This has gotten intense. I was backstage sort of watching this. These two former senators, former colleagues are locked in this, you know, incredibly intense fight, and it is raw and personal, certainly among their supporters.

So the question mark hanging over this, will this party unify? How difficult will it be for this party to actually unify?

BERMAN: It'll be interesting to see. It looked like there were two people on stage who were a little bit sick of each other. ZELENY: No doubt about it. How could they not be after all these

questions, all these words, and all these months, and all of us?

BERMAN: Especially all of us.

I want to play a little bit of sound from the debate. Because if you were to summarize the 120 plus minutes that they spent on time together, it was sort of dreaming versus doing. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have got to understand that in America we should be thinking big, not small.

CLINTON: I think you've got to go at this with a sense of how to accomplish the goal we are setting.

SANDERS: Incrementalism and those little steps are not enough.

CLINTON: I don't take a backseat to your legislation that you've introduced that you haven't been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: And I wanted to play that sound, because that really does sum up the entire theme of the night, the sides that both candidates were taking.

Bob Beckel, I want to go to you first. Given that that's the battle that both campaigns were choosing, who do you think came out on top?

BECKEL: You know, I really don't -- I think it's sort of a wash. I don't -- see, here's what happens at this stage of these campaigns when they're close like this. People get tired, the campaigns get tired, the candidates get tired of themselves and they get tired of their opponent.

But this is really a big deal, because all of the momentum that Sanders has had over this seven out of eight or whatever it is will disappear if he loses New York by any margin at all. And he's going into a group of states that are not good for him.

And frankly, I think this may be more important -- much more important for Bernie Sanders than it is for Hillary Clinton. I can get Hillary Clinton to the nomination 15 different ways. I can't get Bernie Sanders there until he gets a second ballot.

BERMAN: We do have a new poll, by the way. I think it's the new NBC News Wall Street Journal Maris poll, which gives a new sense of where the race is in New York. Right now, Hillary Clinton at 57 percent. Bernie Sanders at 40 percent. It seems to be moving in her favor as it gets closer to election day.

Let me play a little bit more sound about what I was talking about right now where Bernie Sanders hitting Hillary Clinton, discussing the themes that he generally talks about, and then Hillary Clinton demanding or asking for more specifics. Play that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS: When millions of people lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings, the obvious response to that is that you've got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up. That was my view way back. And I introduced legislation to do that.

Now, Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.

CLINTON: He cannot -- he cannot come up with any example, because there is no example. It is -- it is important. It is important. It's always important. It may be inconvenient, but it's always important to get the facts straight.

I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator. I called them out on their mortgage behavior.

SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. They must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements for them?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Again, you really see both sides drawing the lines right there. Unfortunately, we don't have tons more time, so I want to go to Angela first, then Jonathan and then Patti.

And quickly, you know, in 10 seconds or less, given that that's how they framed it, is there -- is there any movement today?

RYE: I think there is no real movement. Bernie Sanders needed to have a knockout night, and I just don't think that's what he had. It was strong night. It wasn't strong enough. So in order for him to coast to victory, there's got to be a miracle, which again is why it's very fortunate that he's at the Vatican.

BERMAN: Jonathan?

TASINI: I think he's going to win New York because of the ground game. There's tremendous energy out there. Transport Workers' Union endorsed him. I've never seen the thousands of people jamming in halls to go out and knock on doors. That's what's going to make a difference.

I do want to say that there is really a debate about the future of the Democratic Party, and that's where the conflict is coming. Political revolution versus the status quo establishment politics, establishment politics that's a wash in corporate money. That's the difference.

BERMAN: And that's clearly the debate that he wanted last night. The question is, Patti, did he win that?

DOYLE: Look, if you went into that debate a Bernie supporter, you came out a Bernie supporter. If you went in a Hillary supporter, you came out a Hillary supporter. Bernie needed a game changer to make up that 17-point deficit in the New York State, and he didn't get it.

BERMAN: And somehow neither candidate will be in New York within the hour, which is fascinating in and of itself.

Jeff Zeleny, Jonathan Tasini, Bob Beckel, Patti Solis Doyle and Angela Rye, thank you all so much for being with us. Really interesting morning right here.

As a reminder, the New York primary now just a little over three days away. You can watch CNN for complete coverage all day, all night next Tuesday.

Coming up for us, they fought for a chance to work for Donald Trump. Now, they're fighting to keep him out of the White House. Why six former "Apprentice" contestants are coming together to say the Republican front-runner should not be president. You never thought it would happen. The "Apprentice" contestants coming together in common cause.

Plus, Donald Trump's new attack on his own party. That's ahead.

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