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CAP President Neera Tanden on the upcoming Democratic National Convention

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden joins Yahoo Finance's 2020 Democratic National convention coverage to discuss the DNC as well as the Democrats' chances in the November election.

Video Transcript

- Joining us now is the president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden. Tanden was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, and a policy director for Hillary Clinton's first presidential campaign, where she directed all policy work and oversaw the debate preparation process. Welcome, Neera.

NEERA TANDEN: I also oversaw-- I also worked on the debate for Joe Biden against Sarah Palin, which, you know, may come in handy soon.

- Absolutely. We'll see about that. So Neera, I want to ask you about Kamala Harris. And you've written evocatively about her, also being the daughter of Indian immigrants. But I want to know what you think she brings to the ticket. Does she bring in diverse voters or progressives or those housewives that President Trump talks about?

NEERA TANDEN: Well, Kamala's strength is with women, and a broad diversity of women and people of color. So I mean, we've seen this in the polling over the last few days. Strong majorities of Democrats support her, which I guess is not much of a surprise, but independents are very enthusiastic about the pick in this election. You see in the support for her that she has a broad diversity of support. Latinos, which is, you know, is interesting. I think it might be her immigrant experience which is driving Latino support for the ticket. But also, of course, African-Americans and women, and women of all backgrounds. Women in the suburbs, white women, women of color, Black women, Latino women and Latinas.

So I think she's an exciting pick. It's obviously a historic pick. And I also think her experience as the daughter of immigrants is, you know, almost a unique antidote to the kind of divisiveness we've seen with President Trump, who's attacked immigrants and has tried to change our immigration policies radically. I think it's an interesting contrast with his [INAUDIBLE] with Donald Trump himself, as well as his policies.

JESSICA SMITH: Hi, Neera. Jessica Smith here. I wanted to ask about Senator Sanders giving his speech tonight. What do you expect to hear from him? Because it seems like he has to do a little bit of a balancing act between encouraging his supporters to support the Biden-Harris ticket and also use his time in the spotlight to advance his progressive agenda.

NEERA TANDEN: Well, I think you'll see those two go hand-in-hand. First of all, Senator Sanders has done a really terrific job over the last several months unifying the party, which you can see in the fact that 95% of Democrats support the Biden ticket, Biden-Harris ticket. You can also see 88 to 90% of Sanders voters voting for-- voting-- planning to vote for Joe Biden, which is higher than it was four years ago. So I really take my hat off to him.

But I think he will make the case, I mean, I would imagine he'll make the case of why these two issues are in conflict, why we need to defeat Donald Trump by electing Joe Biden, but also to push in a-- to push a progressive agenda, you first need to make sure Donald Trump is not in the White House. And on issues like climate, on childcare and other issues, there has been a kind of synergy. And see Joe Biden leading on those issues, issues that I think he isn't taking Sanders' agenda, but he's definitely been influenced by the agenda.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Neera. Rick Newman here. Joe Biden has a pretty good lead right now. It's about eight points on average nationwide. Once he actually is the formal nominee, does he need to get out in the country and start campaigning in the swing states, at least getting local media and things like that, even if there can't be large crowds? Or do you think he can continue to campaign largely from Wilmington, Delaware, with just the occasional day trip over to Philadelphia?

NEERA TANDEN: Well, the campaign is-- the campaign is infused. The entire electorate is focused on the coronavirus. And I think there were a lot of naysayers a few months ago who said Biden would lose if he didn't get out. But I think he's demonstrated leadership by listening to experts who've said that we need to do real work, the real work of social distancing.

So I think the idea that he would ignore public health and go campaign, that would have been a detriment to him. And I think he has a-- he has a real deep advantage against Donald Trump on handling the coronavirus. And I think part of that is acting responsibly yourself. Vice President Biden acts responsibly, acted responsibly last week. He wears a mask where-- when-- where appropriate. That's the kind of behavior we haven't seen at all from Donald Trump. And I think it's really hurting him with a broad swath of the electorate.

- Hey, Neera, it's--

- All right, we're going to have to--

- --Kristin here. So--

- Oh, sorry, go ahead, Andy.

- Well, go ahead. I think you might have time for a quick question, then, Kristin.

- Sorry about that. Neera, I was just wondering, Rick just mentioned essentially how Biden right now is leading in the polls, but except on one issue, which is the economy. Trump right now is still leading by around 10 points when it comes to matters around the economy. And in this era of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is a top issue for most voters. What do you think that voters are going to want to hear from both Democrats and Republicans, from the vice president, the former vice president in the next couple of days on the economy to essentially get them to be a little bit more enthusiastic about a Biden-Harris ticket?

NEERA TANDEN: Well, I think there are different polls. There are some polls where they're running neck and neck on the economy, but it's definitely an important piece of work to do. I think over the last two months, you've seen Joe Biden outline his plans to get this economy moving. We have a demand problem in the economy right now because of the coronavirus, and we really need to surge demand.

The first step is to get the virus contained. That means having a national plan, which includes a mask mandate and several other steps. Contact tracing, testing, all of those steps are important to fight the virus. But then he has an agenda based on investing in jobs where we need them. And that includes domestic-- increasing domestic production for several items, including PPE and other things. And so I think he has a robust jobs agenda that is also responsive. But I think this week will be very important to that. I think this is a real opportunity for a lot of speakers to describe why Joe Biden, why a Biden-Harris administration will actually improve the country and improve the economy and keep people's public health safe.

- All right, Neera Tanden, thank you so much for joining us.

NEERA TANDEN: Thanks for having me.