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Middle school reporter gains national attention after interviewing presidential candidate

Posted at 8:38 PM, Jul 30, 2019

As 20 candidates warm up for the second round of Democratic presidential debates in Detroit , 11-year-old freelance reporter Jaden Jefferson is proving his hustle in press gaggles and interviews.

When the rising sixth grader scored a one-on-one interview with candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts during a press stop in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday, Jaden said he didn't think too much of it. Then thousands of Twitter follows and media mentions rolled in.

"When I got all the media attention, I was like, 'Am I actually here right now?' " Jaden told CNN's Brooke Baldwin in Detroit on Tuesday.

Jaden has gained a local following for his sports packages and radio spots in his hometown of Toledo, where his parents work at the Jeep factory. National political reporting is another way that Jaden does his "own thing during the summer."

His age hasn't held him back in his reporting -- Jaden said Warren treated him "like any other reporter" during the exclusive interview.

In about four minutes with Jaden, Warren commented on President Donald Trump's immigration policies , saying they have torn families apart at the US-Mexico border, as well as spoke to the issue of public housing, saying the federal government's past predatory lending and selling practices kept African American families out of homes.

"Every time I think about economic issues, I stop and say: 'But let's also see how it intersects with race,' " Warren said.

Warren told the young journalist that as president, she would radically reinvest in public housing while addressing "the role that the federal government played in discrimination decade after decade."

Jaden told Baldwin the most important question facing 2020 Democrats is: "What separates you from the pack?"

"There are 20-plus Democratic candidates running in this election. It's very hard to separate them all," Jaden said. "Especially for someone that's not very into politics, they're going to be very confused."

CNN's MJ Lee, who captured a video of Jaden asking the leading question in a press gaggle with Warren on Monday, lauded the young journalist's style.

"Guys, Jaden has a lesson for all of us reporters: Keep your questions short and simple. He killed it," Lee said on Twitter.

CNN will broadcast the second round of Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debates live from Detroit at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday. Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper will serve together as the moderators for both debates.