News and Commentary

WATCH: CNN’s Tapper Calls Out Top 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate For Refusing Interviews
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Jake Tapper of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper and CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper speaks onstage during the WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2019 in New York City. 602140
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

CNN’s Jake Tapper called out one of the top 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday for refusing to do interviews on the Sunday news shows.

At the very end of an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, Tapper called out Joe Biden, 77, for refusing to appear on any of the Sunday morning news shows.

“And I want to note, you — I — we appreciate you coming and taking our questions,” Tapper told Buttigieg. “Vice President Biden has yet to do a Sunday show interview. You have done — and I can’t even count how many times you have agreed to do interviews, just — so, thank you for taking our questions. Appreciate it.”



TAPPER: Former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 2020 presidential candidate joins me right now.

Thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: I want to start with impeachment.

Speaker Pelosi appeared to question the legitimacy of the Senate’s verdict. Take a listen.


QUESTION: Will he be emboldened because the Senate will have acquitted him?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, he will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and that.


TAPPER: Well, as a matter of fact, you know, an acquittal is an acquittal, whether she likes it or not. She’s making a political argument there, obviously.

Will you see the verdict as legitimate now that the Senate has opted not to have new witnesses?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think she’s right that a trial without witnesses is not much of a trial.

TAPPER: Without new witnesses. There have been witnesses.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, but they didn’t call witnesses to speak, when we knew that there was information.

And, by the way, why would a president who is innocent go to these lengths to suppress evidence? Of course, we know why. And we know what’s going on, on the floor of the Senate.

And my concern is that that is so exhausting that it may have the effect of discouraging and turning off a lot of Americans about our process right now.

But, as upsetting as what’s going on in the Senate is, the thing that I’m always reminding voters of, especially in these closing days of the Iowa caucuses, is that, yes, the Senate is the jury today, but we are the jury tomorrow, and we get to send a message at the ballot box that cheating, lying, involving a foreign country in our own domestic politics, not to mention abuse of power more broadly and bad administration, that that’s not OK, that we can do better.

And the good news is, I’m seeing a majority of the American people not only agreeing that this president is not serving this country well, not only agreeing on what we’re against, but, even more than that, agreeing on what we’re for, which is making sure that this economy actually works for us, making sure that we take steps to keep this country safe, restore the credibility of the United States.

There’s a powerful American majority ready to move forward. And that’s what I’m seeking to mobilize in this campaign.

TAPPER: Is an acquittal legitimate? Is it a legitimate verdict of acquittal?

BUTTIGIEG: I mean, it counts by the procedures of the Senate, but I don’t think that it has the legitimacy of vindicating this president, because it’s very hard even for Republican senators — and I will be curious to see what they say on television today — very hard for them to actually look a voter or a camera in the eye and say that this president is a good leader for the United States of America.

TAPPER: Speaker Pelosi also says those Senate Republicans you refer to — quote — are “accomplices” to the president’s cover-up because they didn’t call new witnesses.

Accomplices to the cover-up, do you agree with that? That’s pretty strong language.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, they’re going out of their way to protect this president, as if they have forgotten that, when the story is written of their time in power and in office, this is probably going to be the first sentence of it.

Look, there’s a — I think a lot of reason to believe that, deep down, many of these senators know better, but the only language they seem to respond to is political power.


And so I think the only shockwave that will reunite them with their conscience is a thumping at the ballot box for Donald Trump and those who supported him.

That’s why it is so important right now, beginning tomorrow evening here in Iowa, that we have a candidate, a nominee, a campaign that can deliver, that can bring together that American majority that is ready for something completely different from a presidency like Donald Trump’s.

TAPPER: Well, let’s talk about something completely different, because you have been talking about Vice President Biden in terms of what he offers vs. what somebody newer like yourself does.

Take a listen.


BUTTIGIEG: I have seen Vice President Biden making the case that we cannot afford to take a risk on somebody new right now.

I believe, at a time like this, the risk we cannot afford to take is to turn to the same Washington mind-set that has brought us to this point, and expect that to work against a president like Donald Trump.


TAPPER: It sounds like you do not expect that, if Vice President Biden gets the nomination, that he will be able to beat President Trump.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I certainly think that I am better positioned to beat Donald Trump than any of my competitors.


TAPPER: Do you think Biden can win?

BUTTIGIEG: What’s that?

TAPPER: Do you think Biden can win, can beat Trump?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I’m going to support the nominee of my party. And I’m hoping that it will be me.

TAPPER: But I’m not asking that.

I’m asking, do you think he can do it? Do you think he can beat Trump? Or is he going to — will turnout not be sufficient?

BUTTIGIEG: Here’s my concern.

If you look at the lessons of history, over the last-half century, every time that we have won, every time my party has won the White House, it has been with a candidate who is new in national politics, who doesn’t work in Washington or at least hadn’t been there very long, and who was opening the door to a new generation of leadership.

I think that’s… (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Carter, Clinton, Obama.


TAPPER: They’re fresh — fresher faces.

BUTTIGIEG: That is the best way to win.

And at a moment like this, why we — why would we take a chance on anything else? Let’s put together the best campaign to beat Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Speaking of taking a chance, your campaign also sent out an e-mail this week warning your supporters about the fact that Bernie Sanders is rising the polls.

It said that — quote — “Bernie is surging.” And it added — quote — “We have to beat Donald Trump. And we cannot risk nominating a candidate who cannot.”

Why can’t Bernie Sanders beat Donald Trump?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, I think a politics that says that you’re either for status quo or you’re for revolution leaves most Americans out.

Most of the people I’m talking to are on board with big changes. As a matter of fact, one of the historic facts about America today is, for example, we have a strong American majority that is ready to see the public sector step up and ensure there’s no such thing as an uninsured American, just not crazy about the idea of kicking people off their private plans.

And it’s one example of issue after issue where we have a chance to energize a powerful majority. We can’t afford to polarize it at a moment like this.

And it’s just not true that you would have to choose between the status quo or a total revolution. There’s another way. And that other way happens to be what most Democrats and what most Americans want.

TAPPER: So, you think Bernie Sanders would lose to Trump, because he’s too revolutionary?

BUTTIGIEG: I think that — I think that I would have a better chance of defeating Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Well, in terms of bringing people in, you have been struggling — we have talked about this before — over your ability to win over voters of color.

A new national poll this week puts you at zero percent among black voters — this is the Quinnipiac poll — vs. 49 percent for Vice President Biden. Amidst all this, “The New York Times” reported this week that staff members of color on your campaign say they feel disrespected, because some of your senior aides don’t listen to their concerns, their ideas.

Do you think you bear any responsibility for that on your campaign?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, if you look at that story, it actually talks about the proactive steps that our campaign took to make sure that staffers of color are heard and to make sure that we have a diverse campaign.

More than 40 percent of the staff on our campaign are people of color doing a phenomenal job and need to be supported and deserve to be supported. So, we have taken steps that maybe, in history and in historical campaigns, haven’t been done, creating conversations and spaces for workers who are facing the challenges that I think any person of color in the workplace today is dealing with and making sure we’re responsive to this.

TAPPER: What was your personal reaction when you read that story? I mean, were you upset? Were you hurt? Did you reach out to people on your staff of color who — who — to see what their concerns are?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, my focus was to make sure that — that members of the staff, especially staff of color, felt supported, because they were bringing their experience and their perspective to this campaign.

And we’re a better campaign because of it.

TAPPER: After you were recently asked about choosing a running mate, you said — quote — “I want to make sure that there is the diversity there in terms of background, racial and gender diversity.”

That sounds like you’re committing to choosing, as a running mate, a woman of color. Am I reading that right?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I don’t want to say anything that would disqualify anybody from being considered.

But what I will say is that a top consideration, not only for a running mate and for a vice president, but in building a Cabinet, is making sure that we have the gender, racial, professional, and regional diversity to really reflect this diverse country that we are.

TAPPER: One of your closing arguments in Iowa is that you can win over Republican voters.

I know a number of your precinct captains are former Trump voters, something like 40-something. But Republicans are — have been seizing, including in a new Trump ad, on a statement you made, saying — quote — “Anyone who supported this president is at best looking the other way on racism.”


You have also said that on my show. That’s almost 63 million Americans who you’re painting with a pretty broad brush. Do you regret saying that at all?

BUTTIGIEG: No, I’m very concerned about the racial division that this president has fostered.

And I’m meeting a lot of voters who are no longer willing to look the other way on that, looking for a new political home. And I think it’s one of the reasons why we have seen so many people — in addition to the die-hard Democrats who are coming to our events, we’re seeing independents and a remarkable number of people who tell me they are those future former Republicans that I like to talk about in our campaign.

And it’s not that I’m pretending to be more conservative than I am. It’s that we can agree — if we don’t agree on everything, we can at least agree on turning the page and moving past what this president has done to this country.

And as we recruit precinct captains, as we reach out one more time to caucus-goers, as we mobilize nationally, anybody who supports the vision of this campaign, folks I’m asking right now to go to and support us financially to make sure that we can go the distance, we are building the coalition capable of not just ending the Trump presidency, but leading America beginning on that first day when the Trump presidency goes into the history books.

As we face challenges the likes of which our country hasn’t seen, now is our chance to do something about that and look to the future.

TAPPER: And you got your Web site address in there also.

BUTTIGIEG: Part of my job.

TAPPER: Congratulations.

Thanks so much.

And I want to note, you — I — we appreciate you coming and taking our questions.

Vice President Biden has yet to do a Sunday show interview. You have done — and I can’t even count how many times you have agreed to do interviews, just — so, thank you for taking our questions. Appreciate it