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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Exclusive: Former Vice President Biden Sits Down With CNN; President Trump Threatens Executive Order For Census Question On Citizenship. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired July 5, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:18] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Good evening and a very happy Fourth of July weekend to you and your family. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, filling in for Anderson.
And tonight, excerpts from CNN's exclusive interview with Joe Biden. My colleague, Chris Cuomo, sat across from the former vice president in Iowa on July 4th and discussed a wide range of topics and people, some of what Biden had to say included frank assessments of his fellow Democrats, several of whom have responded since today. They include Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We'll talk more about that in a bit.
But first we want to show you two excerpts from that interview. The first part begins with Biden's assessment of busing, Kamala Harris and that first Democratic debate that seems to have shaken up the presidential race.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I was talking with you and Jill.
You said you were expecting to have a target on your back, but the intensity of some of it -- did you see the questions about your past positions from the perspective of race being as relevant as they are?
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. And I don't think they're relevant, because they were taken out of context.
And what I didn't see is people who know me. I mean, they know me well. It's not like it's somebody who just came out of the blue and didn't know anything.
But it's so easy to go back and go back 30, 40, 50 years, and take a context, and take it completely out of context.
And, I mean, you know, I -- I get all this information about other people's past and what they've done and not done. And, you know, I'm just not going to go there. If we keep doing that, that's -- I mean, what we should be debating what we do from here.
For example, this whole about race and busing. Well, you know, I think if you take a look, our positions aren't any different, as we're finding out.
CUOMO: Senator Harris --
CUOMO: -- who said she sees it as a tool, not a must in all circumstances.
BIDEN: Yes. Well, look at my record. And --
CUOMO: I don't think busing is about policy, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: No, it's not.
CUOMO: I think it was about principle. When you look back at your record on it, you were not in favor of busing. It was a different time. There were different applications. Why not just own it and say, "I was against it, but now I have changed"?
BIDEN: By the way, here's -- I was -- I was in favor of busing that was de jure busing. That is, if a court ruled that there was a law passed or circumstance that a county, a city, a state did that prevented black folks from being somewhere, then that's wrong. You should bus.
I even went so far in the middle that busing controversy, was saying, I would use helicopters if that was necessary, to make the point. And we really got in a town meeting that was -- got very hot.
But what the issue is now is, for example -- and it was then -- voluntary busing. We supported it then. We supported it then. And, by the way, Barack as I, as president and vice president, we provided money for voluntary busing, if cities want to do it.
CUOMO: I'm not questioning any of that.
BIDEN: No, no.
CUOMO: I'm saying, when you look back in the '70s, you said, "I think busing doesn't work. It's an asinine concept."
BIDEN: Well, by the way --
CUOMO: You tried to pass bills that weren't for it.
BIDEN: -- busing did not work. You had overwhelming response from the African-American community in my state.
My state is the eighth largest black population in the country, as a percent of population. They weren't -- they did not support it. They did not support it.
Look, the question is, how do you equalize education in every area? And I put forward the most -- the most aggressive plan to do that, and I have been pushing it for a long time.
For example, in you know, Title I schools, schools that are disadvantaged, we should -- I proposed we go from $15 billion a year to $45 billion a year. We should bring people in, have preschool from 3, 4, 5 years old, before kindergarten.
We should have -- look, every child out there, every child out there is capable, but they live in circumstances that make it difficult. By the time they get to school, they've heard three, four million fewer words spoken. They're at a disadvantage.
CUOMO: I totally accept all of that.
BIDEN: That's number one.
But, number two, the idea, right now, 65 out of 100 jobs in a study I did for the president point out, you need something beyond a high school degree.
CUOMO: It's true.
BIDEN: So what are we doing? We're sitting here as if it's an insoluble problem.
CUOMO: I get it on policy. I never have viewed the busing back and forth in that debate as about policy or application of how to effect civil rights. It's about consistency, improving if you'll be better than what we're doing with now in the White House, which is people won't tell the truth about things.
If busing didn't work, then it made sense that you weren't for it back then. But why say you were for it? Why not just be straight about it and move on?
BIDEN: Because there's three different pieces. I was for voluntary busing, number one. I was for busing where the court showed that, in fact, a legislative body took an action preventing black folks from going to a school.
[20:05:01] That is the de jure -- I know you know -- de jure segregation.
The difficult piece is, this is 50 years ago. People don't understand the context.
The third one is, do you have an administration, through their non- elected officials, Department of Housing, decide every school should be equally balanced across the board? That's a different issue. And the way to deal with that problem is what I did from the time I was a kid.
I got out -- I got out of law school, came back, had a great job, became a public defender. I -- I fought for putting housing in and low-income housing in suburbia. I talked about eliminating red lining. I talked about school districts should be consolidated in ways that made sense. So in fact --
CUOMO: Why didn't you fight it like this in the debate?
BIDEN: In 30 seconds? CUOMO: Hey, what happens most in a debate, Mr. Vice President? People blow their time cue. You're the only person I've ever seen on a debate stage say, "I'm out of time."
BIDEN: Well, we never had a place where you have 30 seconds, man. What I didn't want to do was get in that scrum. Do you think the American public looked at that debate -- take me out of it -- and thought, "Boy, I really like the way that's being conducted. They're really showing themselves to do really well"? Come on, man.
CUOMO: They're going to come after you.
BIDEN: Sure, they were going to come after me.
CUOMO: Were you prepared for them to come after you?
BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me. She knew Beau. She knows me.
I don't -- anyway, I -- but here's the deal. What I do know -- and it's the good and the bad news -- the American people think they know me, and they know me. Since that occurred, I had the most sought- after endorsement for the mayor of Atlanta, a black woman who's a great leader, Mayor Bottoms, endorsed me. I've had numerous numbers of the Black Caucus endorsed me.
CUOMO: Are you worried about the polls slipping with African -- African-Americans after the debate?
BIDEN: No, no. These folks just came. I'm making the point to you, I don't see it. People know who I am. I don't believe there's anybody out there believes that I have anything other than a keen and consistent interest in making sure every child -- these are all our children.
CUOMO: Here's a tough -- here's the question. Did you re-watch the debate?
BIDEN: No, I didn't.
CUOMO: Why not?
BIDEN: Well, I didn't have an opportunity to re-watch it. And besides, you know, my measure is how people react outside: getting on a train, getting on plane, walking through an airport, walking in a parade, just going to the grocery store. I got no sense -- I really mean it -- no sense.
CUOMO: Here's the tough question for Democrats. They need a warrior, OK, because, not to aggrandize, not to lionize, but this president knows how to fight in the ring, one on one. Kamala Harris is friendly fire. Cory Booker is friendly fire.
How can Democrats have confidence that you can take on the biggest and the baddest when you're having trouble sparring in party? BIDEN: I don't think I'm having trouble sparring. It's how you want
Look, I'm the guy at the time everybody talks about things they're changing. I took on same-sex marriage. I took on a whole range of issues. I took on arms control.
I took on dealing with Russia with the arms control agreement. I took on Putin in terms of Iraq -- I mean, excuse me, in terms of what was going on in Ukraine. I've taken on these leaders around the world.
I'm the guy that's gone in and met them. I've taken on all these things. I mean, I -- this is ironic. I've never been accused of being -- not being able to spar. I've been accused of being too aggressive.
CUOMO: But the game has changed.
BIDEN: Well --
CUOMO: And you think that what's happening with Harris is anything compared to what would happen with you --
BIDEN: No, but everybody knows who this guy is. Come on, man. Come on.
CUOMO: How do you beat him?
BIDEN: I'd beat him by just pointing out who I am, and who he is, and what we're for and what he's against. This guy's a divider-in-chief. This guy is acting with racist policies. This guy is moving to -- foment hate, to split. That's the only way he can sustain himself.
CUOMO: Nothing about him worries you?
BIDEN: Sure, it worries me in the sense that I'm looking forward to this, man. You walk behind me in a debate, come here, man. Don't you think I -- you know me too well.
I mean, the idea that I'd be intimidated by Donald Trump. He's the bully that I knew my whole life. He's the bully that I've always stood up to. He's the bully who used to make fun of as a kid and I'd stutter, and I smacked him in the mouth.
Look, this is not -- but that -- I think the American people want a president who has some dignity, who has a values set, who is actually trying to restore the soul of this country. So when they turn on the television they look up, and their kids say, "I want to be like that guy or that woman."
CUOMO: There are domestic agenda items I want to tick through. But you have made a big point of saying the threat here with the current administration is abroad. What exactly bothers you abroad?
BIDEN: What bothered me abroad is, look, the idea that we can go it alone who no alliances for the next 20 or 30 years is a disaster. [20:10:02] How are we going to deal with stateless terrorism without
doing what I've been able to do with the president: put together a coalition of 50, 60 nations to take it on?
I come out of a generation where we were trying to be the policemen of the world. We can't go in every place. We need allies. He is absolutely dissing them.
He's embracing thugs. He's embracing Kim Jong-un, who is a thug. He's embracing Putin, who is a -- who is a flat dictator. He's embracing people who, in fact -- and he's stiff-arming our friends. He's threatening NATO, to pull out of NATO. I mean, come on.
CUOMO: He says he's gotten NATO to give in more money for their defense because of his tactics.
BIDEN: Come on, man.
And, by the way, the idea that NATO -- let me put it this way. If he wins re-election, I promise you there will be no NATO in four years or five years.
CUOMO: You think there will be no more NATO if he's re-elected?
BIDEN: No more NATO.
Look, I went to the conference in -- that we have. It's called the Verecunda (ph) Conference, used to be. The first speech stood up, the chancellor, the former chancellor of Germany stands up. She says, "We have to go it alone. We can't count on the United States."
Why did we set up NATO, Chris? So, no one nation could abuse the power in the region in Europe, would suck us in the way they did in World War I and World War II. It's being crushed.
Look at what's happened with Putin. While he -- while Putin is trying to undo our elections, he is undoing elections in -- in Europe. Look what's happened in Hungary. Look what's happened in Poland. Look what's happened in -- look what's happening.
You think that would have happened on my watch or Barack's watch? You can't answer that, but I promise you it wouldn't have, and it didn't.
CUOMO: So with North Korea, the idea of reaching out. President Obama, Vice President Biden wanted to do more than that. The Republicans used to whack you on the head. You can't be nice to people who are our enemies.
Hasn't this president done what you wanted to do by reaching out to Kim?
BIDEN: He did the exact opposite. He gave Kim everything that he wanted, legitimacy. He gave Kim -- he ended our relationship, as a practical matter, with South Korea and Japan as a united front and let China off the hook.
He put us in a position where we say, by the way, I love the man. I know what he's doing.
He hadn't done a thing. He hadn't done a thing. Kim Jong-un.
And what have we done? We've suspended exercises.
Look, I come out of the arms control era. Guess what? There's two ways you do this. You work or you defend. You say, hey, man, don't screw with us. You move, this is what's going to happen. It's going to happen.
But in the meantime, what you do is you deal with your allies, and also those who don't arm with you. Do you think China wants any part of North Korea becoming a nuclear power?
CUOMO: So what do you do differently with North Korea and China?
BIDEN: With regard to North Korea, with China, I make it clear that we're going to move our defenses up, as we did before, and we're going to make sure we have the capacity to deal with it near term.
I'm going to let South Korea and Japan know we're there for them. We are their nuclear umbrella. We're there for them. And China understands, if you don't want us in your throat, if you don't want us in your face, do something.
CUOMO: Do you stop the trade battle with China? Do you go back to TPP?
BIDEN: By the way, the idea that this trade battle makes any sense, is benefiting anybody, is absolutely ludicrous. And just ask the farmers here or around the world -- I mean, around the United States, and the manufacturers. It's killing us.
What we should do is we deal with China -- I had a conversation with Xi before I -- Xi Jinping before we left. And he said, well, you know, remember, they set up their no-fly zone.
I said, we're not going to pay attention to it. He said, what do you want me to do, just withdraw it? And I said, no, but just understand we're just going to fly through. We'll fly a B-52 through it.
We are a Pacific power. We're not going anywhere. Understand that's the reason why you have security is because we've allowed stability in the region.
They get it. But what they're doing now is we're not dealing with China's problem, for us. China's problem is they're stealing intellectual secrets.
BIDEN: There's cybersecurity. Deal the same way. You say you've got to invest here in the United States. And you want to be able to invest here, and you say, we want to invest in China, but you've got to have a 51 percent owner. No deal, man. Deal for deal.
CUOMO: This administration is fighting that same fight, isn't it?
BIDEN: But they're not. No, they're fighting in trade. Trump thinks it's about trade deficits and trade surpluses. It's not about that.
Look, while he's tweeting, China's going to own the 5G market. While in fact, he -- they're spending billions in artificial intelligence.
What are we doing? They're doing a whole lot of things that make no sense for us to stand still.
CUOMO: What would you do differently with North Korea? Would you slam the door on them again?
BIDEN: Yes. I'd make it real clear. Look, you want to talk, you want to deal with us, you want sanctions lifted, show me something ahead of time. Show me.
CUOMO: They haven't tested a big, bad missile.
BIDEN: The reason why they haven't tested is they have it all done. They're sitting there with missiles that are -- have capacity and nuclear capacity right now.
[20:15:04] So they're not giving up anything.
SCIUTTO: Covered a lot in that interview. There is still more to come. More from CNN's interview with Joe Biden. Hear what he has to say about congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and what he calls the battle of the center left of the party versus the way left.
And later, President Trump says he can get a citizenship question on the census with an executive order. But can he legally? Particularly now since the census is being printed and the Supreme Court has ruled?
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Anderson tonight.
And tonight, we have excerpts of CNN's exclusive interview with Joe Biden. He and my colleague, Chris Cuomo, spent time talking in Iowa, Thursday about President Trump and the immigration debate, but they also discussed the state of the Democratic race for president, as well as the issues that both define and divide the Democratic Party today.
Here now is more from that interview.
CUOMO: You versus the rest of the field on the economy. They're all going big: 70 percent tax rates; free college; re-architecture of the economic; forgiving debt for college, which happens to be the biggest asset on the American government's balance sheet. You do not believe in those things. BIDEN: I don't believe in the way they're doing that. For example, I
think there should be health care for everyone. I have a plan how to do that that's rational and will cost a hell of a lot less and will work.
In terms of --
CUOMO: Too incremental?
BIDEN: No, it's not incremental. It's bold.
CUOMO: Would bring back the individual mandate?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
CUOMO: Would it bring back the individual mandate?
BIDEN: Yes, yes, I'd bring back the individual mandate.
CUOMO: You think that will be popular?
BIDEN: Well, it's not -- yes, now it would be, compared to what's being offered.
And here's the deal, Chris. We're in a situation where, if you provide an option for anybody who, in fact, wants to buy into Medicare for all, they can buy in. They buy in. And they can do it.
But if they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like, they shouldn't have to give it up.
The flip of that is, if you don't go my way and you go their way, you have to give up all that. And what's going to happen when you have 300 million people landing on a health care plan? How long is that going to take? What's it going to do? And in the meantime, a lot of people are going to be in trouble.
In terms of the economy, Chris, I've been proposing for a long time, and I've -- look, I know I'm Middle-Class Joe, I get that past. It's not meant I'm sophisticated.
It meant I'm, you know -- middle class built there country. You didn't have Wall Street build this country. How did they do it? You gave people a chance. You allowed them to maintain their dignity.
And how'd they do it? How can you have dignity without having health care? How can you have dignity without having access to an education? How can you have dignity unless you live in a neighborhood that's not fouled by the environment and what's going on?
CUOMO: How do you convince the party that these more advanced ideas, all in on Medicare-for-All, that matter to them --
BIDEN: I wouldn't call them advanced. I would call them --
CUOMO: But they're popular in the party.
BIDEN: Well, by the way, watch. That's what this election is about. I really -- I'm happy to debate that issue and all those issues with my friends.
Because guess what? Again, look who won the races. Look who won last time out. We had -- and by the way, I think -- I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman. But she won a primary.
In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education, health care.
Look, my North Star is the middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well.
CUOMO: How do you do better for them economically? If not with these 70 percent tax rates?
BIDEN: Well, three things. One, I do raise the tax rate to 39.5 percent. I do, in fact, eliminate the ability for them to write off capital gains the way they do now. I would raise the -- and raise billions of dollars, raise the corporate tax rate from 20 to 28 percent -- it was 36 -- to 28 percent. I'd raise billions of dollars.
CUOMO: Trump will say, but that's what brought the economy up to where it is, is those tax cuts.
BIDEN: Ask these people who work in this restaurant how the economy came up for them. Ask how good they feel about it, how the stock market is working. Ask how driving the $2 trillion greater in debt has done anything for them.
CUOMO: On health care, do you believe that undocumented people should have health care in this country?
BIDEN: I think undocumented people need to have a means by which they can be covered when they're sick. And so the idea is that's what I think we should be doing by building more clinics around the country. Not just for undocumented, for other people when they're ill, when they're sick. People need -- this is just common decency.
You're not going to let somebody --
CUOMO: It's unpopular.
BIDEN: Well, I know it --
CUOMO: Well over 50 percent of people polled say undocumented people here should not have health care on our dime.
BIDEN: Well, I mean, I'll tell you something. In an emergency, they should have health care. Everybody should, anybody here in the country.
How do you say, you're undocumented. I'm going to let you die, man? What are you going to do?
You know, I mean, the idea that, you know, I hear the stuff about how, you know, they're killing Social Security, et cetera. Those who have jobs, guess what? They've increased the life span of Social Security by close to a dozen years. I mean, we got this -- this is part of what Trump is playing on.
He's playing --
CUOMO: It works for him, this issue, the idea of law and order versus a left that seems like it's open borders, because it means it's lawless. You have people who are running close to you now who are saying decriminalize coming into the country illegally.
Do you believe that should be decriminalized?
CUOMO: No. No, I don't. No, I don't. I think people should have to get in line.
But if people are coming, because they're actually seeking asylum, they should have a chance to make their case. I would be surging as we did and Barack and I did, surging folks to the border to make those concrete decisions.
Look, the other thing, Chris, is why are they coming? The reason the vast majority of these people coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is because they're in trouble.
[20:25:04] Crime rates are high. Education is terrible. In Guatemala, you can't turn on a light switch and have them out.
And so what do we do? I put together a $740 million program with Republicans, I might add. At the very end, saying, we'll make a deal with you. You do the following things to make your country better so people don't leave, and we will help you do that.
Just like we did in Colombia. What did we do in Colombia? We went down and said, "OK," and I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia.
I said, here's the deal. If you have all these crooked cops, all these federal police, we're sending our FBI down. You let us give them -- put them through lie detector tests. Let us tell you who you should fire and tell you the kind of people you should hire.
They did and began to change. We can do so much if we're committed.
CUOMO: What do you say to the people party right now when polled who say, yes, I like Joe Biden, but I think that his ideas are the old ideas? The new ideas I see a Warren, I see a Sanders, I see a Harris.
BIDEN: I've not seen that.
CUOMO: You poll lower than them. You poll lower than them on ideas for the future. What do you say to them?
BIDEN: I say to them, take a look at my ideas. Take a look at my ideas.
I haven't seen those polls. I haven't seen where people say -- what I've seen around the country is the vast majority of Democrats are where I am on the issues.
We've got to be aggressive. And they're big ideas -- the big idea on education, on health care, on dealing with the environment. I mean, it's just -- I love how, you know, all of a sudden -- I wish I had been -- I wish I had been labeled as moderate when I was running in Delaware back in the days when it was --
CUOMO: Eighty percent of your party says it's center left.
BIDEN: I am center left.
CUOMO: The farther left is getting more attention. It's getting amplified by --
BIDEN: It is. Look --
CUOMO: There's a disconnect.
BIDEN: Look, it's center left. That's where I am. Where it's not is way left.
Now, look, but that's what we can find out. That's what this -- that's what this debate is about.
CUOMO: Do you think you need, if you win the nomination, to have a female V.P.?
BIDEN: I think it would be great to have a female V.P. And if I don't win, it would be great to have a female president.
But the question is, whose issues are best prepared in their wheelhouse? They've demonstrated they know how to deal with them.
CUOMO: Would you consider not having a woman as a V.P.?
BIDEN: I would -- look, here's the first thing about being a V.P. -- I've learned. And that is that today's environment, there's so much a president has on his or her plate. They need someone they completely trust, that they're simpatico with, have the same -- the same approach, political approach, and you can delegate significant authority to.
The president when he delegated authority to me from the moonshot to Ukraine, he gave me the authority to make decisions, because he knew I knew where he was. He knew that I knew something about it. And he knew we were simpatico. And so, that's what I'm looking for.
CUOMO: Do you think a Democrat ticket can win without a woman in one of the two slots?
BIDEN: Yes, well, the answer is yes. But I think that -- I think it helps having a woman on the ticket. And there's a lot of really qualified women out there.
CUOMO: Is Kamala Harris, assuming she doesn't win outright, is she still somebody you would consider as a running mate?
BIDEN: Look, one of the things I'm not going to get into, because it got news before, is when I was asked -- I don't even have the nomination, and I'm presuming who I might pick as a vice president. That's easily flipped on me and saying, well, Biden's being arrogant. Biden thinks I'll have him as my vice president.
So I'm not going to comment on -- on any individual.
A woman came up to me -- I guess it was, I don't know, a month ago. I guess I was in New Hampshire. Said --
CUOMO: All right. I'm almost done.
BIDEN: Why shouldn't I vote for a woman?
And I said, you should. If you think that person's most qualified at the moment right now to deal with our problems, vote. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't vote for women.
Look, I have spent my career, from writing the Violence Against Women Act before that, to say my daughters and granddaughters could do anything, and I mean anything, anything that a man can do. Anything. And so, I don't have a doubt in my mind.
And if I started naming some of the people around the country, women who are not running for president, as well, who are fully qualified to be vice president. Again, it would be awful presumptuous, man. Presumptuous. So there's a lot of really qualified women out there.
CUOMO: In terms of -- last question -- in terms of what we haven't seen from Joe Biden yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please (INAUDIBLE) please?
CUOMO: I remember your -- hey, Jill, last question. Last question, I promise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
BIDEN: OK, I'll be there in a second.
CUOMO: Last question, I promise.
The last thing I remember talking to him about politically with you, Beau, was, you know, what is the quality? You know, because he was asking me about, you know, what do you take from your father in this? What do you -- Beau Biden said to me, nobody fights like my father.
[20:30:00] What does that mean to you to fight harder than anybody else? BIDEN: I think it means two things. One, to fight without being
personal. To fight and convince.
The role of a president is to persuade, persuade. Not just go out and fight. If they want someone to clench fists, bare-knuckled fight, closed hand, closed heart, they got one of those guys right now. That's not me. I have been pretty darn good bringing people together.
The whole idea of America is that when we're together, there's not a damn thing we can't do. And it's -- look, the most incredible response I always get for the last three years is when I talk about how optimistic am I about the future. People know it. They feel it. They know it. They understand it. And we can't stay in this state.
What are we going to do? What are we going to do if we can't get along better? And part of it is persuasion.
And people looking at you say, I know what he means, he'll stay with what he says and he'll do what he says he's going to do. And I think that's part of leading. We'll soon find out.
CUOMO: Thank you for the time.
SCIUTTO: Quote a conversation toward the end of the interview. You may have heard two members of the Biden team pushing to end the interview. One of those members was wife, Jill Biden, Dr. Jill Biden. She and her husband sat with Chris for part of the interview, and you can see that on Monday night on Cuomo Prime Time, where we will hear her reaction to Kamala Harris's attack on her husband.
Straight ahead here on 360, lots of deconstruct from Chris's time with the former Vice President and Democratic frontrunner.
When we return, our political team weighs in on what he had to say. And keep in mind, Biden has seldom granted one-on-one interviews thus far in his campaign. Lot's to talk about coming.
SCIUTTO: Joe Biden's interview with Chris Cuomo is ripping across political establishment tonight. Here with me for some perspective, Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama and a CNN Political Commentator, David Gergen, he's advised four presidents and as a CNN Senior Political Analyst as well as USA Today Columnist, and Kirsten Powers here with me in Washington, also a CNN Political Commentator.
Thanks to all of you interrupting your holiday weekend.
Van, if I could begin with you, so after the debate last week, you said that Vice President Biden had a, quote, breakdown, your word, that he had the most to lose and he lost it. Do you think in this interview that he regained some of that?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he's clawing his way back. I mean, here's the thing. He does better in a one-on-one opportunity where he can really explain himself. Part of the challenge that he's got, and I talked to him a couple weeks ago and I said, listen, you are so earnest. Would you please be less earnest? You've got to get yourself into a position where you can explain in short, simple sound bites what you want to do and how you're going to get it done.
I think the challenge you have with him is he's been in public life so long, he's done so much, he's trying to tell you so many things about what he's done and so many things about what he wants to do, so many positive things can get lost in his thoughts. He does better in that one-on-one opportunity than giving speeches. You put up against ten other people, nine other people, it's hard for him to penetrate the way he did during this interview.
SCIUTTO: David Gergen, does that style, that Biden style, is it fundamentally not suited to today's style of campaigning?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not so sure. It may well be Van is right about going one-on-one, he's more comfortable.
But I also felt that when he talks about policy and where he wants to go and starting to draw more distinctions between his own views about, say, Medicare for all or high tax rates, and it turns out he really is closer to the center than he is to the far left. And I think that -- I think that's what came across in this interview, especially the last half that we watched on policy.
I thought he was much more effective. And I think that's where the votes are, a lot of the kind of things he's talking about.
SCIUTTO: See, that's the thing., and you saw it. Kirsten, I'm curious what you think of that. When you look, for instance, on tax rate, he talks about raising the top tax rate to 39.5 percent, not 70 percent. In fact, most Americans don't support that or on health care, you know, even among Democrats, though many say they support Medicare for All, when they're told that, hey, no more employer-funded healthcare plans, which a lot of people relied on. Biden mentioned in his interview particularly union folks who fought hard for that. I mean, is he closer to the majority of Democratic voters than a lot of the progressives in this campaign?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think it's hard to say necessarily. I mean, is he closer than maybe Bernie Sanders is? Yes, probably. Is he closer than where Cory Booker or Kamala Harris are? I don't think so. I don't think that he's that wildly different from where they are. And so I think that Bernie Sanders in particular has staked out a position where he wants to have extremely high tax rates on the very wealthy, which actually most Americans do support.
So I think that people understand that it's not going to be on the middle class, it's just on wealthy people, you do get more support there. But Biden is trying to position himself as the sort of mainstream guy who is just like everybody else and that he is in touch with -- sort of has his finger on the pulse of the Democratic Party and I think that remains to be seen.
SCIUTTO: Well, Van, does he? Does he more properly have his finger on the pulse of the broader Democratic voting base here than, say -- I mean, because he goes right after AOC, for instance, in this interview and says she's fantastically well spoken, she's inspiring, et cetera, but that her positions are further to the left than most Democrats. I mean, is he right?
JONES: He may well be right. And, I mean, the thing about him, and I think what did come through in the interview, was this is a guy -- he's a beloved figure in the party and in the country for a reason. He cares about real people.
What's so almost endearing about him is he doesn't really want to fight the other Democrats. He doesn't really want to -- he's so reluctant to even raise a word of criticism. He just wants to fight Donald Trump.
And so he's a little bit -- you know, he's seen as like the older guy but he's actually about a year ahead of himself in terms of where we are in this process. He doesn't want to fight any of those people.
But to your question, I do think that we cannot tell yet how much of this enthusiasm for these more bold proposals is just coming from party activists and from the Twitter sphere versus if you really have a big shift to the left among actual voting Democrats. He's making a bet that actual voting Democrats are more reasonable and sober-minded than the kind of phenomenon that some of the other candidates are chasing.
But it's so amazing to watch this guy. Dude, you've got to beat these people up. You've got to put them over your knee, spank them and throw them out the door to get the nomination. He doesn't want to do it. He doesn't want to do it.
SCIUTTO: He's got to make a T-shirt or a bumper sticker of Come On, Man, which is sort of his (ph) position.
Well, a quick thought -- we have no more time, but quick thought, David, before we go to break.
GERGEN: Yes. I think he's not necessarily closer to the progressives and the activists, as Van said, but he's much closer to where the voters in the general election are, and that's what is serving him well.
SCIUTTO: Yes, fair enough. Stand by, everyone. We're going to take a short break.
More on Joe Biden and the 2020 race, also the latest on the President's ongoing battle over the citizenship question in the upcoming census. He says he hasn't given up.
SCIUTTO: Back now with our political team and their take on Chris Cuomo's interview with the former Vice President and Democratic frontrunner, Biden, Joe Biden. Back with the panel now.
Kirsten, I do want to start with you because talking about that point, is Joe Biden closer to the broader Democratic base than the other -- particularly, the more progressive candidates. Your thoughts on that.
POWERS: Yes. So the thing that we have to remember is pretty much every poll has shown and I think any of us know anecdotally also speaking to voters is that the number one issue is can you beat Donald Trump. So the focus is on Joe Biden is saying I'm more in touch with you, I believe the things that you believe. What he really has to be showing is I can beat Donald Trump. And that's the most important thing.
And so maybe, to a certain extent, he is trying to say more people believe what I believe and so they're going to vote for me, and that's part of his electability argument. But I think the biggest thing is are you going to be able to go toe to toe with Trump and deal with, really, somebody who is different than anybody else you've ever been up against.
SCIUTTO: David, there was another presidential candidate in recent memory who just kind of rewrote the book on the way he did interviews. He called into television shows repeatedly and did his own rallies all the time, which were broadcast live. He did pretty well in 2016. Can Joe Biden say, you know what, those debate -- yes, I'll go to the debates. That doesn't work for me. I'm just going to do sit-down interviews.
GERGEN: No, no, no. He's got to get in the ring with Trump. He's got to go mano-y-mano in the ring. But I do think one element of who can beat Donald Trump is do the voters want the person and what comes with him.
There is a lot of anxiety in this country about people other than Joe Biden winning the Democratic nomination. That's not the person they think can beat Donald Trump if they're for a lot of far-left wing propositions that are extremely expensive and will drive away working people.
So you do have to find somebody who not only is tough in the ring but has a set of ideas that are persuasive.
SCIUTTO: Right. Van, I mean, Joe Biden made the case, right? I mean, he called -- he called Donald Trump a bully. He said I know this bully, I've dealt with bullies before. I'm going to push back. You remember his famous line a couple of years ago about take him behind the schoolhouse and punch him in the nose kind of thing. I mean, how is he selling that point that I'm the guy who can go in the ring against Trump and beat him?
JONES: I think that case got dinged up a little bit when Kamala Harris went after him, and he really just wasn't able to answer it on his feet in that moment. I think he was very honest in saying he was prepared for some of that, but he wasn't prepared for the more personal and Emotional attack that she launched, because, frankly, he knows her pretty well and she knows his family pretty well. I thought that was one of the most telling things. He said, listen, I just didn't expect that.
But I think when people were watching that, when I was watching that, I said this, guy doesn't look like, at least, tonight that he's ready to go head to head with Donald Trump or really with anybody. And so I think he's going to have to prove himself again to the American people that he can be that fighter that his son was talking about. He does have a history of fighting, but I think he lost some of that electability argument by performing so poorly against Kamala Harris.
SCIUTTO: Crucial to the 2020 election is this question of the -- future elections, the citizenship question in the 2020 census. President Trump today seemed that this was all over. He said, well, I might still go after it. Have a listen. I want to get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress. You need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations. Where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The President giving an innocent explanation for the addition of that question, although there's a lot of evidence that this was politically motivated because it would lead to an undercount of immigrants, and therefore, increased representation for GOP candidates there. Is this issue not dead for the 2020 census? Do they have a legal path? Can the President fight this?
POWERS: Well, I mean, I think he's going to try to fight it. The Supreme Court did say, you could come back and give us a different reason for wanting to do this. And so I have to say that I'm surprised that his own administration didn't know that he would do this, that he would want to obviously take that as far as it could go and see if they could prevail on this.
But I think he has sort of presented it as we just need to know who's living here. And he just said really what it's really about, which we all know. It's really about redistricting. It's really about trying to drive down numbers of people in certain communities so it will benefit republicans.
SCIUTTO: And even the Chief Justice, in his decision, was skeptical of the arguments of the government.
Van Jones, David Gergen, Kirsten Powers, I hope you have a happy July 4th weekend.
Coming up next, a great story for this weekend. A 15-year-old storming Wimbledon, Coco Gauff had another match today.
Can she keep her winning streak alive? It's coming up.
SCIUTTO: This Sunday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time right here on CNN, don't miss the start of our new original series, The Movies. If you liked our series covering all the decades, you'll enjoy this as well. Here is a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON HOWARD, AMERICAN FILMMAKER AND ACTOR: There is still something about being told a story. A movie is something that's been really handcrafted to mosaic that's been carefully pieced together. It jut creates this opportunity to totally lose yourself.
MARTIN SCORSESE, AMERICAN FILMMAKER: These images live in our consciousness. It stays in our minds. Like music that's recalled in our heads, those images replay and we live our lives by them.
JULIA ROBERTS, AMERICAN ACTRESS: It brings all the elements of all of our senses together.
There's really nothing else like it.
JON FAVREAU, AMERICAN ACTOR: Even though you're doing something incredibly personally and, in many ways, incredibly selfish because you're doing something you love so much and it gets out there in the world and it can change people's trajectories.
ALEC BALDWIN, AMERICAN ACTOR: When you can go somewhere where you can guarantee you're going to be able to set your worries aside for a period of time, it's like a drug. It's like a drug.
HOLLY HUNTER, AMERICAN ACTRESS: It's just a direct conduit straight into your soul.
MORGAN FREEMAN, AMERICAN ACTOR: I grew up wanting to be in the movies. It was all about the movies.
BAZ LURHMANN, AUSTRALIAN WRITER: Since the dawn of man, we like to get around a fireplace and commune in story together. So we can feel for a few hours that we're human together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, "THE MOVIES" premieres this Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific Time. Up next, did she win and wowed the crowd again? 15-year-old American Coco Gauff takes on Wimbledon when we come back.
SCIUTTO: She is the comeback kid for sure. 15-year-old American Coco Gauff wowed the crowd at Wimbledon again today. The tennis phenom is keeping her historic run going after another big comeback win, you'll recall.
The teen first wowed the crowd in the first round of play when she defeated Venus Williams, not bad, for an unseeded player ranked 313th in the world. Gauff now goes to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. She will now face the seventh seed, Simona Halep. That's on Monday. You've got to watch it.
That does it for this hour. The CNN Special Report, "The State of Hate: The Explosion of White Supremacy" starts now.