CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That is all for Meet the Press Daily. Right now, I will see you in a little bit for night two of this two-night Democratic debate extravaganza, NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo. You can`t miss it. The special coverage on MSNBC begins at 7. But there is great coverage right now. Ari Melber including an interview with one of the breakout performers from last night`s debate, Julian Castro. Ari Melber take it away.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It`s all true. Thank you, Chuck Todd and good luck, back up there tonight. Good evening as mentioned. This is The Beat. I am Ari Melber and I am reporting live right now from debate central in Miami. We are just three hours away from round two of this first Democratic debate of 2020.
Now here`s what we know. First, Americans really watched last night. They took in these new candidates over 24 million people watching this first debate. That`s more than watched any of the Democratic primary debates in all of 2008. It underscores the high stakes for these candidates who are meeting millions of voters for the very first time.
The second thing I can tell you that we know right now, tonight the big names, well they hit this bright stage in Miami. You`re looking at live pictures of the debate stage where Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris will all present as some of the more well-known faces to voters in the Democratic primary. But then note that also includes the only two candidates in this whole campaign at all 20 plus who`ve ever run for President before. Now in the current climate, does these two men experience - two sets of experience they have hurt or help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if you look at Joe`s record and you look at my record. I don`t think there is much question. I disagree with many of the votes that he cast that he and I voted in very different ways.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-PA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the worst thing we can do is get into a match where we`re going after each other in Democratic way. So, I`m trying my best not to be negative to my opponents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But there is nothing neutral about avoiding going negative. It obviously helps the more famous candidates who are more likely to be in the lead and don`t want people going negative on them. Now there are also enough newcomers on this stage tonight that plenty of contrast can still be drawn. You`re looking at this list. It`s got candidates who stand out as I mentioned including former prosecutor Kamala Harris as well as Biden and Sanders and fundraising star Pete Buttigieg, but also rookies like Yang and Williamson. Tonight`s clash also comes as a lot is going on well outside of the political process.
Take the United States Supreme Court, which just dealt the Trump administration a brand-new setback. You may have heard about this today. We`ll get into that later. And this debate comes as Bob Mueller is prepping his first ever house testimony. New details on that. And as America ponders, the full implications of this border and humanitarian crisis on immigration.
So, now on this special edition of The Beat with Ari Melber, we`ll be joined by two top officials tonight from two major campaigns and not only that but by two candidates hitting the Miami debate stage. So, I would argue, it is a pretty objectively unusual show. Let`s get right to it with Reverend Al Sharpton who is with me here. He is host of MSNBC Politics Nation. He`s also a former presidential debater himself. And Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of the group, Voto Latino. Thanks to both of you for joining me.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Thank you.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: Ari.
MELBER: Great to see you. I always get excited being down here. We are in the thick of it. Rev. when you look at last night. A lot of energy, a lot of clashes, what stood out to you and what`s relevant for those some of those bigger names tonight.
SHARPTON: I think what stood out is that you had several of them bring up issues that needed to be highlighted. Julian Castro bringing up police misconduct and specifically naming Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. Something he`s been doing. And what he took a firm stand on immigration and his back and forward with his differences with Beto O`Rourke.
I thought Elizabeth Warren had a good night. I thought Cory Booker had a good night.
MELBER: Who had a bad night?
SHARPTON: I think Beto probably had a bad night, because he got hit from both sides. And I think that probably the rest didn`t have a great night. I think people will remember Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Julian Castro more than the rest. But what was missing is there was not a lot of attacks on Donald Trump.
MELBER: I noticed that.
SHARPTON: I would argue that you should sell yourself, but you`ve also got to sell why we are removing an incumbent and why you are uniquely qualified to take on that fight. People know that Donald Trump is going to fight. So, while I`m watching you, I`m also saying can this person go up against Trump and they didn`t show any ability to really take him on.
MELBER: And you`ve been up on that stage. It is harder than it looks. The pressure is on. You have all the stuff running through your head that every adviser and expert and guru told you. Did you get the impression that some of these candidates got so much advice of don`t go for Trump? Everyone is going to do that and then nobody did it.
SHARPTON: I think everybody was advised to don`t go after Trump, they`ve got all of this in their head. And I think you`ve got to realize you`re talking not to advisers; you`re not talking to inside political junkies. You`re talking to people and people especially independent voters need to be convinced. We can`t go on with this President. Here`s why and here`s why I`m the one that can take this election from him. That`s what you have to do in an election. You have to do it both ways. And I think they were strong in their own resume, but they didn`t really give the case they should have given against why Trump should be defeated and why they would be the unique person that could do it.
KUMAR: I think, we`re at a stage right now that most Democrats, most people are inside, they`re going to go out and vote. What they need to do, Ari, the folks up on-stage tonight. They need to demonstrate why those unregistered voters, those in habitual voters, why they need to get off the seat and actually cast a ballot. And they have to show a vision for the country. But at the same time, they have to say I can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump. More importantly this is why we are under emergency. There is no Plan B. We have to change the White House and that was never clear.
I do think though that the fact that you had not only Beto, who was seen for a long time as possibly a front runner limping off stage. That`s not good for him. But Elizabeth Warren, she still walked off that stage as a presidential candidate.
MELBER: How did you feel a bit of Spanish.
KUMAR: This is the biggest challenge and I think that maybe that`s why he wasn`t concentrating as well as that he was trying to get the verbiage out. We have 15 million Latinos that are unregistered. 60 percent of them are under the age of 33 years old. The majority of them are American. They want to hear English and they wanted to hear English with the information that they need to make sure that their life is much better and that is it gets to a point in the Latino community where you say, I want solutions. And what folks don`t understand because they`re new voters, what they`re going to do is they`re going to kick the tires. They`re not going to just go and jump on with the first person that says, Ola, Como estas. They`re going to kick the tires and say, what do you have for me to get me out of the situation making sure that you`re talking about an inclusive America.
MELBER: And shouldn`t it be, como estas. Shouldn`t it be the Ustad while you`re first learning voters.
KUMAR: Well, it always depends on exactly what part. In Colombia, yes.
MELBER: These are Spanish jokes. And look, one thing I tried to do ...
KUMAR: You already got him.
MELBER: I tell bad jokes in both languages. Take a look Rev. at this partisan moment where the different candidates are trying to define how tough were you in this Trump era, where he doesn`t give an inch or are, we still, are they still talking about bipartisanship and Mitch McConnell, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell.
SEN ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do. Number one, short. I want to see Democratic majority in the Senate, but short of the Democratic majority in the Senate, you better understand the fight still goes on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need to get things done. That`s why I believe we need to operate in a bipartisan manner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to beat Mitch McConnell, this better be a working-class party. If you want to go into Kentucky and take his rear end out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is the difficulty there, Rev. Because for a lot of the primary voters that we have met that we have been talking to, whichever candidate they`re for they think Donald Trump has broken every rule in the book and you don`t lead with bipartisanship in this environment.
SHARPTON: I think that you don`t deal with bipartisanship in this environment, because of how he has behaved and how he has unapologetically said, I`m not going to be bipartisan. And the Republicans led by Mitch McConnell in the Senate has stayed lockstep behind it. But I also think that in some ways minimizes what they`ve done. These people have undermined voting rights, undermined the whole ability to deal with affordable health care. They have made it an affront on the American people to act like you want to be their partners is to infer that maybe you don`t really believe in these things. I don`t want to work with them. I want to work them out because everything in the last 50 years from Dr. King to now that we have fought for stood for, I`ve gone to jail for some nights is at risk. So, what are we going to reach through jail bars and say, come by? Let`s work together. We need to get you out of power.
MELBER: So, apply that, is that on the politics, is that a problem for Joe Biden tonight?
KUMAR: Well, I think he has to basically correct the course of saying look in order for us to come together as a country we have to have this large spectrum. But what the Reverend is saying is absolutely right. Things are not normal. Our institutions are at risk. We have never in American - in modern American history actually face this. And every single time a Republican does stand up, they retire. That is not being strength. That is not actually showing flexing power. That`s basically an exit strategy. If you want to make sure that you are moving the country forward, they need a strong vision. They need to make - give us an option of why them. But more importantly, what are the consequences when you`re actually trying to undermine our democracy. We`re going to vote him out.
MELBER: Yes, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you. Rev. Sharpton. I`d love to bring you back.
SHARPTON: I`ll be back.
MELBER: It`s not a fall back, but I am going to bring you back later in the hour.
SHARPTON: All right.
MELBER: We have so much more right now. Immigration is this big issue obviously hanging over the debates today. There was breaking news, it`s actually been months in the making, a setback for the Trump administration as the Supreme Court push back on Donald Trump`s effort to make citizenship a part of how we would count people in the U.S. Census. This basically rebukes Donald Trump`s contrived effort to gather that materials is how the court put it. Also, today, attorney seeking an emergency order to end what they call this health crisis based on the treatment of children and others in these migrant detention centers. In fact, a detainee 16-year-old girl tells the lawyers, we are in a "metal cage with 20 other teenagers with babies and young children, we have one math that we need to share with each other, it`s cold. The lights are on all the time."
Well, my next guest right here is presidential candidate Julian Castro. He`s with us right now and he had quite the sharp exchange on these issues with Beto O`Rourke just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s be very clear, the reason that they`re separating these little children from their families is that they`re using Section 1325 of that act, which criminalizes coming across the border to incarcerate the parents and then separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. Some like Congressman O`Rourke have not.
REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn`t think you did your homework on this issue. If you did your homework on this issue ...
CASTRO: Instead talking about the regions - on January 20, 2021, we`ll say Adios to Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Julian Castro is done giving out homework assignments and making ...
CASTRO: How are you, Ari?
MELBER: How are you doing?
CASTRO: Doing well.
MELBER: Thanks for coming on the show tonight.
CASTRO: This is two Castro brothers in a row. You had my brother on last night, I think.
MELBER: Yes, that`s right. People might think the fix is in. The truth is we have all the candidates and all the family, it`s you. You look at that exchange. We just watched it. Did you know you were going to go out there and do that last night? Why did it matter?
CASTRO: Well, I knew that I was going to address this issue of the need to repeal Section 1325. And I knew the issue of immigration would come up. Obviously, I knew that Congressman O`Rourke and I have a difference of opinion in terms of whether we should repeal that section. So yes, I mean I could predict that moment was going to come up, sure.
MELBER: And you`re saying, he doesn`t know as much as he should about how to actually solve this problem.
CASTRO: That`s what it seemed like. Because a couple of days earlier, he made a comment that we need to keep that section in the law if we want to be able to crack down on human traffickers or drug traffickers. What I pointed out last night and what others like Congressman Ryan did as well is we already have laws for that. So that has nothing to do with Section 1325.
MELBER: So, let`s cut right to the heart of it then, because people hear this debate. People understand where you stand. Do you think that he is saying that because of his past record and he needs to come up with a reasonable sounding defense of his past record or do you think this is a really good faith disagreement about what the criminal penalties are for people coming into the country?
CASTRO: Well, I mean people will have to ask him. But what I know is that Senator Warren, Senator Booker, Governor Inslee and it seemed like Congressman Ryan last night, they were also on the stage agreed with me and several of the people that are going to be on the stage tonight agree with me. I hope that they`re going to ask the folks on the stage tonight this question because this is important, this is the only way that we`re going to guarantee that we end this cruel separation of little children from their parents. If we repeal that section and my beef with Congressman O`Rourke`s plan is that he`s refused to call for repealing that section.
MELBER: Let me show you the breakdowns they do. There`s a lot of ways to measure these debates. One of them is in sheer time and we just point out 20 million plus people watching. You got in there and you are fourth in minutes spoken, ahead of most people and you are I think it`s fair to say from the polling not the most well-known was that a deliberate strategy on your part and do you think you succeeded?
CASTRO: Yes. Well, first of all, I would give credit to the moderators who were good about doing something that they absolutely needed to do which is to keep time. You need to make sure when you have 10 people on that stage that everybody has an opportunity to make their case to the American people. At the same time, one of the things that we did think about was look when you`re in a scrum with nine other people, you better not be a wallflower, you better be assertive enough to jump in, when you need to jump in. And I jumped in when I needed to jump in. And I think that`s why I got a good amount of time.
MELBER: Beyond the issue of immigration, what do you think you showed voters about your campaign last night?
CASTRO: That I`m working for them. When I talked about issues whether it was immigration or health care or other things or my closing statement I made very clear that if you elect me President, I`m going to work hard every day to make sure that your child can get a good education, that you and your family can get good health care, that you can have good job opportunities no matter where you live in this country. You all were having this conversation a little bit early in our show. This dynamic of do you go after Trump or do you tell your own story. Yes, I agree that we need to make our contrast with Trump.
At the same time, look a lot of people had not heard about me before last night. There were more than 15 people that were - million people that were watching, a lot of them new to me. So, the first priority that I had was to make sure people know what I`m about and that what I would do for them and their family. There is going to be time to go after Donald Trump. And I`ve already called for his impeachment. I wasn`t worried about that. What I`m worried about is why me.
MELBER: Yes. Does Bob Mueller`s testimony change anything on that impeachment issue in your view?
CASTRO: Well, I mean if he follows what he put in his report, he`s going to have these 10 instances of either obstruction of justice or attempted obstruction of justice. If his testimony reflects that then I think they`re in the same spot. I believe they should move forward.
MELBER: Last question and it`s a light one, but I`m just curious. You`re a regular guy. You did your big night. You`re here now. Where do you watch the debate tonight? What are you doing during the debate? You know the President promised he would tweet, and he couldn`t even carry out that pledge which I think is a relatively easy thing. If you promise you`re going to tweet. He only posted two. What are you going to do tonight?
CASTRO: So, I have slept in the last 30 hours, I`ve slept ,36 hours, an hour and a half. I`m going to I`m sure make it through the debate probably in my hotel room with my family who is here.
CASTRO: Have a low-key night and you know check out what people have to say tonight.
MELBER: Which candidate do you find is the best sleeping aide when you`re watching them.
CASTRO: No. The whole thing will keep me up, I`m in. We`re in it. We`re competing. Of course, I want to know what other people are saying you know who`s up and who`s down, all those things.
MELBER: Yes. Julian Castro, you`ve got your time as we know you made some waves. Interesting to see you on the debate stage. Thanks for coming on this edition of The Beat.
CASTRO: Good to be with you.
MELBER: Really appreciate to have you back. Coming up, we`re going to interview a candidate who will be on the big stage tonight, Congressman Eric Swalwell. He`s also one of the few lawmakers who actually gets two shots at questioning Mueller, because he`s on both of those committees. And later we talked to a top adviser for Bernie Sanders as he prepares for that showdown with Biden tonight. Each man has quite the history on debate stages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I`ve been very proud to represent Vermont for eight years.
BIDEN: Is an exciting time to be in our business and no better time to be President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But the other thing that`s different about tonight. What are wildcards going to do. There are some people who made their way fair and square into this stage but are lesser known and less traditional they`re proud of it. We`re also going to look at who is talking about Trump and who is not. Something Castro and I were just discussing. I am Ari Melber, you`re watching The Beats coverage of these first Democratic debates live from Miami. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I wanted to say to Governor Dean don`t be hard on yourself about hooting and hollering. If I spend the money, you didn`t get 18 percent, I`d still be at Holly, Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton debating back in 2004. He was the only person on that stage who hadn`t served in government at that time. Well he`s here now to speak to him about that very dynamic tonight. But the big names tonight when you think about all the big names, Kamala, Bernie, Biden sure that`s why some are more excited about tonight than last night. But they`re also going to be people who have never held office just like Sharpton at that point. The spiritual author Marianne Williamson known to many Americans for her frequent appearances on Oprah, or a former tech executive Andrew Yang, who has talked about using holograms to campaign in multiple places at once. Innovation. Once he even tested out the technology. We`re not making this up. This was what he did. He chose to dance next to a hologram of the late great Tupac Shakur. Kingston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you guys haven`t seen it Andrew has a math hat.
MELBER: And it gives me magic math powers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And on the front it says math.
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your greatest power to change the world of course America says is your power to change your mind about the world. If anybody did anything to me that harm me, if anybody did anything to me that was a transgression or betrayal. The universe is already on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And you know who else is on it. Reverend Al Sharpton. You look at all of that. Some people might think we like that because we like Tupac. No, we just - we`re interested in the way he`s using technology.
MELBER: You look at the spiritual lessons there. What do you say to people who want to count out or laugh off these wild card lesser known candidates?
SHARPTON: I think they`re making a big mistake, because when you look at the impact of some of the lesser known candidates that may have never served in government even if they don`t win, they can affect what the win is. For example, when I ran in 2004 obviously didn`t win the nomination, but I came in a strong third in South Carolina digits and it would have been a different race maybe for a Howard Dean who came in behind me if I was not in the race.
MELBER: Almost sounds like you`re calling yourself a spoiler. I know you don`t think yourself as a spoiler.
SHARPTON: I ran. No, I could see John Kerry who won my spoiler. I ran to win. What I`m saying is that if you`re on the stage with governors and senators and in some states you`re coming ahead of them, you`re not the spoiler, you are the person that people chose at that period to say they`re saying what I want to say. So, you shouldn`t be discounted.
MELBER: And don`t you also have the ability to zero in on an issue in a way that some candidates don`t because they`re trying to be everything. Howard Dean got in that race. He was initially polling at 1 percent. The war was his issue. Civil rights, your issue, your life`s work.
MELBER: And that put that into the debate in a way that that others might not otherwise have. When you look at - for example Yang is talking about technology that didn`t come up at all last night.
SHARPTON: If you are on that stage and you represent a cause bigger than you like I do with civil rights like how we did a great job in terms of the Iraq war that time, Howard Dean then you become the one that because you`re on that stage discussing that. So, when I was on that stage in 2004, they would not have talked about racial profiling and police misconduct particularly in 2004. Other than I was on that stage and it becomes part of the discussion.
MELBER: So, looking towards tonight with Marianne Williamson who we`ve had on the program because we tried to have all candidates. We`re not making early distinctions about who is hot or not because we just think - we don`t know yet. One of the things that she does different than almost all establishment politicians in both parties as she talks about spirituality. She talks about sort of the universe as we just heard. How would you advise other candidates to record with that? Do they go into her turf? They can`t just laugh it off and look disrespectful. But what do they do with stuff they`re not even used to normally talking about?
SHARPTON: Well, what I would do is I would respectfully listen to her and then I would use it in a way that as long as it was sincere on their part that would say maybe we need more spirituality rather than the misuse that some of the right wing evangelicals are misusing religion. So there is a way you can discuss that without going all the way in her zone, but staying in your political zone if you really feel that way, the question is, do you understand spirituality and the difference between that and the distortion of some organized religion.
MELBER: Can you walk the walk.
SHARPTON: If you don`t you need to stay out of it if you can`t walk the walk.
MELBER: Right. So, don`t dance next to a hologram of Tupac unless you can keep the beat.
SHARPTON: At least know who Tupac was and be able to keep the beat, no pun intended on The Beat.
MELBER: No pun intended; no pun taken. I`m waiting. We`ve got a candidate in the wing, so I`m very excited. But before I let you go; shall we watch one more Al Sharpton-Joe from 2004?
SHARPTON: If you got one. Bring it on.
MELBER: Hit it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of you are pledged to support the winner of this folks.
SHARPTON: And work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will work.
SHARPTON: I will travel all over this country to make Al Sharpton President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You`ve got big applause back then.
SHARPTON: Well I still do.
MELBER: Reverend Sharpton thank you for being here.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: As I mentioned you could always catch the Rev. now gone from candidate to colleague on Politics Nation right here weekends 5 PM Eastern. But don`t go anywhere because up next we are going to be joined by a candidate, you didn`t hear the name Trump much last night. Could that change? New reporting also on Mueller`s upcoming testimony. And as I say Congressman Eric Swalwell is here live, moments before he actually takes the stage tonight when we`re back in 30 seconds.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ari?
MELBER: Thanks for doing this. Good to have you.
MELBER: Away from round two of this Democratic debate. 10 candidates on the stage you`re looking at, one of them is my next guest who is going to talk to us live right now. He`s also deeply involved in the Russia and obstruction probes. NBC News now reporting about Bob Mueller`s looming testimony. There will be two open sessions with Mueller and two closed sessions with his staff. And this involves two key committees, Intel and Judiciary. The closed sessions will not be classified, so members can discuss what they heard. Congressman Swalwell serves on both these committees making him a very interesting guest. He will also as you see him here going through his walk-through, looking casual sir. Today he`s going to be on that stage tonight. It`s another rarity for presidential campaigns Congressman Swalwell doing this interview before he gets out there, I guess that means you`re not very nervous.
SWALWELL: I`m ready.
MELBER: You`re ready.
MELBER: Appreciate you being here.
SWALWELL: Thank you.
MELBER: When you look at Bob Mueller reemerging and these details coming out, what do you hope the American people learn from him and is that relevant to anything that`s going to happen on the stage tonight.
SWALWELL: Yes. Russia attacked us, nothing in the Mueller Report said, by the way, everything they did in 2016, they stopped doing or the person they helped has confronted them. That`s not the case. And so, for me I`m really interested in what do we do, going forward knowing that they did this and the President won`t confront them.
MELBER: Why was it not friendly subpoena as your chair put it.
SWALWELL: Well, we`re going to do whatever it took to get Bob Mueller`s testimony. Look, he is a Marine. He`s a patriot. He`s led the FBI, but we need him to come in and testify. It`s going to be illuminating. Seeing is believing. Most Americans don`t have time if this is not your job to read the Mueller report. I think hearing it from him is really going to be eye- opening.
MELBER: What`s your goal in tonight`s stage?
SWALWELL: Be myself, introduce myself to the country, show somebody who knows why people work hard. I was the first of my family to go to college, son of a cop, paying student loan debt today. We`ll fight for families as they deal with these issues and can beat Donald Trump. I was born in Iowa. I married a Hoosier, educated in the South, elected in a diverse part of California. I know this country.
MELBER: So that`s your biography, sort of your history, we`ve heard a lot of that last night. Are you going to talk about the current president?
SWALWELL: Yes, how can we not? I mean, the reason --
MELBER: Well, they didn`t -- they didn`t last night.
SWALWELL: Yes. That was you know, mind-boggling to me. I mean, he is --
MELBER: Did you thought your rivals underplayed the key issue last night?
SWALWELL: Well, I think it`s like we were all avoiding you know, the elephant in the room which is he`s a threat to everything that we value. He`s a threat to all of our freedoms including the freedom to dream which is if you work hard, you do better, dream bigger.
MELBER: And he only became an elephant recently because before that he wasn`t even in the GOP right?
SWALWELL: That`s right. That`s right.
MELBER: Who do you have your -- who do you have your eye on tonight? I mean you are -- and I say this without judgment, but you are not as well known to the voters as a Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. Do you go out there to draw a contrast? Do you go out there to tell folks that there are differences between you two or you don`t look at it like that tonight?
SWALWELL: No, again, I`m going out there to introduce myself, show the boldness that I`m offering especially on gun violence. I`ve pledged to make that my top priority. The only candidate on the stage that`s calling for a ban and buyback of every assault weapon in America and will challenge the rest of the you know, field to do that as well.
MELBER: I read that you bring a guest on that topic. Tell us about that.
SWALWELL: Fred Guttenberg is one of my guests. His daughter Jamie died at Parkland just 50 miles north from here. And Fred and I, you know, we`re of the mindset, you can keep your pistols, your rifles, and your shotguns, but we can take the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people. And the boldness I`m showing on that I hope to project out on healthcare, on climate, on student loan debt, and for people to see that there`ll be a fighter in the White House.
MELBER: Let me ask you about that because I know you care a lot about the issue, and yet I wonder as we see so many of these serious issues that relate to tragedy and death. For example, you`re colleague Beto O`Rourke posted the photograph that has -- that has gone all around the nation of those -- of those people who died trying to migrate and said explicitly 100 percent it`s the fault of the current president.
SWALWELL: Yes, that`s right.
MELBER: You believe that.
SWALWELL: I do, absolutely.
MELBER: But you know that people make that harrowing journey no matter who is president and you know that people die on that harrowing journey. Is it also the fault of Barack Obama, the people, and there was a quite a spike in the Central American immigration to a point that people also were hurt and died on that journey?
SWALWELL: Well, this president has prevented people from coming across the border where they would normally want to come across like this family did and diverted them into treacherous waters. It`s heartbreaking to see that photo, it`s a parent of a two-year-old and an eight-month-old, but any one of us if we were that father living in poverty or living with cartels threatening our lives every day, we would make that journey, we would fight believing that what`s on the other side is safer than what we`re leaving. Sadly, in this case, it was more dangerous to come to America.
MELBER: And I don`t doubt your sincerity but I do wonder about it and again with the gun violence it`s another example where you`re weighing in on it, you care a lot about it, but certainly not every gun deaths can be pinned on a particular politician. And certainly when you look at the U.N. numbers, for example, 60 million migrants worldwide, the majority of them children, surely you don`t blame that all on Donald Trump, surely there has to be a limit.
SWALWELL: He brings showmanship where we need leadership. He certainly makes it a lot worse than it has to be. I think leadership means going down to those countries and finding ways for private investment and government investment to go there so they can stay where they`re from which is where most of them want to stay.
MELBER: Yes. My last question involves political honesty.
MELBER: We`re going to see if you have it.
MELBER: Who did best last night?
SWALWELL: Well, you know what, I --
MELBER: I know. Your advisers trained you -- you`re advisers said -- they say, don`t answer that question but let`s be honest. I`m curious. It`s very interesting. You`re about to go back to take the stage tonight. Who do you think did well last night?
SWALWELL: Look, they all made their case. I had the opportunity of sitting on the couch with my wife with our you know two-year-old screaming upstairs and he came down you know, at one point. So we were dealing with that. I`m impressed by all of them.
MELBER: You`re taken a pass.
SWALWELL: Yes. Oh yes.
SWALWELL: But I`m honest about taking a pass.
MELBER: You`re honest about taking a pass. How will you know if you did well in tonight`s debate?
SWALWELL: Because the country will want to learn more about our plan to end gun violence, to reduce student loan debt, and to find cures in our lifetime on Alzheimer`s, ALS, Parkinson`s, we have a plan to do that.
MELBER: It`s a big night. A lot of folks go into isolation chambers. We don`t know where they go before the --
SWALWELL: Yes, I`m here.
MELBER: You`re here at THE BEAT desk. I really appreciate it, Congressman. Thanks for taking the questions. I appreciate it.
SWALWELL: Of course.
MELBER: And up ahead, will Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden collide or avoid each other? We actually have the co-chair of the Sanders campaign here as well and the impact of breakout moments like what some are calling Senator Cory Booker`s sarcastic side eye going viral. All of that ahead, keep it here.
MELBER: Here`s an interesting factoid about the current presidential race and the Democratic side. over 20 candidates but you take them all together, only to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have done presidential debates before.
Now, they`re building on long political careers and lots of experience running for president and being on that stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the economy is working really well for the people on top not for the middle class, not for the working families.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This administration deliberately prostituted the notion of deregulation.
SANDERS: I think the secretary is right and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Than you.
BIDEN: Rudy Giuliani, there`s three -- there`s only three things he mentioned in his sentence, a noun, and a verb, and 9/11. I mean there`s nothing else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by a former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner who was here because she is the national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Busy time for you guys. Thanks for coming on.
NINA TURNER, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN: Thanks, Ari. Glad to be here.
MELBER: I appreciate it. You see some of the old footage, same guys.
TURNER: The sound is exactly the same.
MELBER: He looks kind of the same.
TURNER: Yes, he does.
MELBER: Which means he looked old before but he was old.
TURNER: No, that doesn`t mean that.
MELBER: Yes, that`s what I think it is.
TURNER: No, we`re not going there.
MELBER: What does it -- what does it mean?
TURNER: That he has been consistent and authentic in his stance for the American people for the working poor and the barely middle class in this country.
MELBER: You talk to Bernie Sanders supporters, they`re incredibly enthused about the idea that their candidate knows exactly who he is, and that the Democratic primary electorate knows who he is --
TURNER: Yes, that`s right.
MELBER: -- and he`s pretty popular. What is his -- what is his task then tonight?
TURNER: Is to be authentically who he is. I mean, it`s funny I heard you ask Congressman Seawell --
MELBER: Swalwell, yes.
TURNER: -- Swalwell about the -- who won last night. Well, Senator Bernie Sanders won last night.
TURNER: Because all of the issues from Medicare for all, to increasing the minimum wage, to holding corporations and the ultra-wealthy accountable, all of the Democrats were singing from Senator Bernie Sanders hymnal last night. He won.
MELBER: I think -- you know, we deal -- we try to deal with facts here on THE BEAT.
TURNER: Yes, deal with them.
MELBER: And I think it is a fact --
MELBER: -- that the Democratic Party has moved in a more progressive economic direction.
MELBER: So the only remaining question is that because of Bernie does he get that credit. Obviously, there are Warren supporters and others who say she`s not nobody as she worked in the Obama administration. Other people were part of that move as well.
TURNER: Ari, this is the point. There`s only one candidate on that stage who had the courage in 2016 to take it to the establishment and the neoliberals in this country and that is Senator Bernie Sanders. We would not be having this conversation about Medicare for all had it not been for his courage and his vision. We would not be talking about a $15 an hour minimum wage a living wage.
And Ari, let me further the point out that Senator Bernie Sanders and the fight for 15 active is because he works in coalition with people, got over 400,000 people raised between Amazon workers and Disneyland workers, we would not be having this conversation if it were not for Senator Bernie Sanders.
So some of those folks may have believed in those things. But it`s the difference between the copies and the original, and Senator Bernie Sanders is the original.
MELBER: Well put, strongly put. When you think about what he`s going to do tonight, one of the things we learned watching him in 16 when I think it`s fair to say he was underestimated --
TURNER: Yes he was.
MELBER: Is people say oh, do you go negative or not? He doesn`t go negative on Democrats personally, he draws contrasts of policy but that`s what these debates are supposed to be about. Should we expect him to draw those contrasts with Biden or others tonight about working people`s issues as you put it?
TURNER: I do. This is the Senator`s lane. And Ari, I`m so glad that you brought this up because many politicians even myself when you running for office, what you wouldn`t give to run against somebody who`s just going to stay on the issues. That is Senator Sanders. That`s how he rolls. He`s going to roll that way tonight.
And we loved it in Bernie World for him to stay on the issues because when he is on the issues, he is that candidate. Hashtag, we got all the receipts from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 40 years ago, that clip you rolled.
And I`m serious, Ari. I mean, listen to that clip. Close your eyes. It is the Senator right now today talking about the rotten deal that the working-class people of this country have gotten and that we need to change it by political revolution.
MELBER: What do I know? But if I`m not mistaken, you`re good at this part of the job being the Bernie Sanders co-chair.
TURNER: Am I? I believe in the man.
MELBER: And the last thing I want to ask you is do you think we could give Bernie Sanders to come on THE BEAT?
TURNER: Well, we should try. I put it out there right there. So --
MELBER: We should try.
TURNER: We should try to get the same of it on THE BEAT.
MELBER: Say more about that.
TURNER: He should come and talk to Ari.
MELBER: He should.
TURNER: He should.
MELBER: I hope as co-chair you go -- you could tell him that because we`ve invited him on since he launched --
TURNER: All right.
MELBER: And we would love to have Bernie Sanders on THE BEAT.
TURNER: I will. I will ask the Senator that. I`ll tell him to show Ari some love.
MELBER: And let us know what the answer is. We want to get everybody on. Thank you for making the time.
TURNER: Yes, my pleasure.
MELBER: We`re not going anywhere. We`re going to add and see if the next surrogate campaign chair, whatever you want to call it is as good as Nina. So I`m going to set up the next guest. Debates, of course, have these viral moments. You can`t predict what`s going to happen or what`s going to catch fire at tonight`s debate nor could we have known what would happen last.
Consider that Cory Booker did something relatively minor. He looked at another candidate but it was viewed by many as a sarcastic side eye at Beto O`Rourke going viral and getting its late-night treatment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: Look at how shocked Cory Booker was when Beto switched to Espanol. His eyes are just like wait, wait you know that feeling. Have you ever walked into an examined school and then like you sit down and then another student looks like a protractor on the desk, and you like, what, we need a protractor?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Cory Booker`s campaign manager himself, Addisu Demissie. Full disclosure, I should mention, he`s also someone I used to work with.
ADDISU DEMISSIE, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, CORY BOOKER CAMPAIGN: Indeed.
MELBER: Good to see you.
DEMISSIE: Good to be here, Ari.
MELBER: I give you a chance to respond to the one and only Trevor Noah. Was it a side eye?
DEMISSIE: I don`t know what it was to be honest with you.
MELBER: I think you do know what it was.
DEMISSIE: No, I don`t. It was you know -- you can`t script these moments in these debates I think.
MELBER: I want to tell my viewers -- I want my viewers to understand we have these political people on and the first thing they do is claim they don`t know what`s going on.
DEMISSIE: I wasn`t on the stage, you know.
MELBER: But you were Cory Booker`s campaign manager.
DEMISSIE: I am. I am.
MELBER: Was he -- and then we`ll move on.
DEMISSIE: OK. Let`s move on. OK.
MELBER: Was he annoyed by the Spanish?
DEMISSIE: He was not annoyed by the Spanish. You know, he was listening just like everybody else at the time and you saw later in the debate he actually spoke Spanish as well as did Secretary Castro. I think it was just a moment of surprise that was caught on tape and you see --
MELBER: So it was not a side eye. OK.
DEMISSIE: I don`t think it was a side eye.
MELBER: We wanted to give you the benefit of explaining that. You heard Nina Turner, the Sanders campaign chair. She`s just laid it out right now. She just said they set the tone and everyone else followed. Is that true in the case of Cory Booker?
DEMISSIE: No, look, I think we went onto the stage yesterday trying to introduce Cory to what ended up being 25 million people watching that debate, a lot of them for the first time. And I think Cory put his best foot forward. He talked about his vision. He talked about his plans. He also just showed his passion. And ultimately I think he won the debate.
And Cory has been the same person since he ran for City Council in 1998 and talking if you had some tape to roll about Cory Booker back from his City Council races in 98 or you watch street fight, the documentary about his 2002 campaign for mayor, you`d see the same Cory Booker you saw on the stage there yesterday. Passionate, committed, somebody who is rooted in his community and who has a vision for the future of this country.
MELBER: This is as you well know and I should tell viewers as well you work for the Obama campaign.
DEMISSIE: I did. I did.
MELBER: This is a zero-sum competition.
DEMISSIE: Yes. Some of --
MELBER: Your gain is someone`s lost. Your time is someone else`s lost time. Did you know going in last night that Cory Booker would speak more than every other candidate?
DEMISSIE: I didn`t. I`m happy he did, right. The more time you get, the more you get to talk about your campaign, your plans, your vision, etcetera. And again, I think he put his best foot forward there I think -- I think ultimately. It`s up to the voters to decide. And a lot of folks probably watching this show have seen Cory on this show before, on MSNBC before --
DEMISSIE: But there are a lot of folks who are tuning in for the first time yesterday and they don`t know who he is. And so that we got 10-11 minutes to show the best of Cory Booker I think can only be beneficial to us going forward in this campaign.
MELBER: And finally before I let you go, the other thing that Cory Booker has done more than most candidates is take on Joe Biden. He doesn`t seem afraid of Joe Biden or his fame or his putative potential lead in the polls. Is that going to continue?
DEMISSIE: I think Cory thinks and he believes he wouldn`t be in this race if he didn`t think he was the best candidate to beat Donald Trump and be the Democratic nominee. And so we do have two dozen opponents in this race, the Vice President is one of them.
He`s not going to be afraid to draw contrast where it`s necessary but I think this debate in this phase of the campaign is really about introducing Cory to the voters. That`s what we`re focused on doing not just yesterday but in the weeks and months to come.
MELBER: What I`m hearing from you Addisu is be aggressive, be authentic, and no side eye.
DEMISSIE: Not no side eye. There`s time for side eye, just not last night.
MELBER: I appreciate you like I appreciate all our guests coming in and give us their perspective.
DEMISSIE: Yes, sir.
MELBER: What a night. We are all excited. Up ahead, there`s another topic that`s pretty important. Congressman Swalwell was just mentioning he will attack Trump. He told us that before he got on to the debate`s stage. Who else will take that attack? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I believe that the President is literally an existential threat to America.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I believe that the President deserves to be impeached.
SANDERS: It`s hard to believe that we have a president of the United States who is, in fact, a racist.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The current occupant of the White House should not be there much longer because he has failed to do the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Donald Trump actually didn`t come up much last night inside the debate. Could that change tonight with a very different ten candidates? I`m joined by John Harwood, CNBC`s Editor at Large, a former debate moderator, the man who has interviewed many of these candidates. Good to have you.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC EDITOR AT LARGE: Great to be here.
MELBER: Were you surprised that Trump was not discussed that much?
HARWOOD: No, because I think you had Elizabeth Warren, who is a top tier contender, but not the top tier contender. Her economic ideas sort of set the frame for the debate. And Savannah and Lester teed that up in their questions and Jose in the beginning of the debate. It was about Elizabeth Warren, her ideas, how much change are we going to have.
Tonight I think it will be different because Joe Biden has made his entire campaign theme, I`m the guy who can beat Donald Trump and trying not to skirmish with his fellow Democrats but with Trump so he is going to have strong incentive to do that.
MELBER: Well, and that goes to the ultimate bank shot which we hear about it in different cycles but we hear about it more when one party is exercised about the incumbent president. And that is oh my god, electability. But doesn`t electability just mean thinking about what other people think instead of what you think? And isn`t that usually a terrible way to make a decision?
HARWOOD: Yes. And I think voters don`t do sophisticated calculations about electability. They vote for people that they like. They tend to think the people they like are electable because they assume other people will also like them. But I do think that tonight was -- is set up in an interesting way by last night.
Elizabeth Warren, when she came out and said, surprisingly, because she hadn`t said it before, I`d abolish private health insurance companies, that put her on -- defined her structural change she is talking about vividly enough that Joe Biden I think has an easy way to -- he will be asked about it tonight, i`d expect, and he will have an easy way to distinguish himself.
One of his advisers told me today that if Warren goes into the general election without position, she`ll be crippled against Donald Trump. I think that is a sign that this is a contrast they want to draw.
MELBER: Ten seconds. Is moderating a debate harder or easier than it looks?
HARWOOD: Oh, I think it`s not harder than it looks. I think it`s mostly fun. If you like talking to politicians, as I do, it`s fun to engage with them. You`ve got to have them cooperate a little bit.
HARWOOD: So you don`t have to fight them too much in terms of holding them to time. But no, it`s an enjoyable process.
MELBER: That`s a totally normal thing that you love talking to politicians.
MELBER: It`s like a normal thing that everyone loves.
MELBER: John Harwood, former debate moderator here giving us some insights. One more thing to watch for when we come back.
MELBER: And ten candidates -- ten candidates take the stage tonight. We just heard from one of them. We are gearing up for what could be an even bigger night than last night, considering the big names. That does it for me. I`m Ari Melber.
You`ve been watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber. But obviously don`t go anywhere because up next, our special pre-election coverage begins with Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, and a lot of other names you know followed by of course by the big event, the second Democratic Primary Debate to kick off this 2020 season.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END