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Security Concerns as GOP Convention Begins; Did Trump Have Second Thoughts on Pence?; The Crucial Swing State Vote; Trump's "Showbiz" Un-Convention; GOP Platform Veers Hard Right. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired July 16, 2016 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:22] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish, coming to you live from the RNC convention in Cleveland where all Trump is about to break loose.
And now in the shadow of the attempted coup in Turkey, which came on the heels of yet another horrific terror attack -- a man driving a truck killing scores at a Bastille celebration in Nice, France.
Back home, Mike Pence for V.P. But CNN's Dana Bash reports Trump was talked into it and immediately wanted to un-ask him. How's this going to play out?
Plus, Trump's showbiz style convention promises for compelling TV, but what about the ultraconservative planks in the party's platform?
But, first, hello Cleveland. How do you protect the convention and the city in today's fraught political atmosphere? The head of the Cleveland Police Union, Steve Loomis, has warned they are setting up my guys for failure.
Joining me now, Steve Loomis and someone with perfect past experience, former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow, who has worked counter- surveillance at seven different conventions of both parties.
Steven, let me begin with you. My understanding is I can't bring tennis balls into the perimeter surrounding the convention. I cannot bring a can of tuna. I cannot -- it's raining today, I can't bring an umbrella with a metal tip on the end, but perhaps I can carry an AR- 15. What is going on?
STEPHEN LOOMIS, PRES., CLEVELAND POLICE PATROLMAN'S ASSOC: That's absolutely insanity to me. This is an open carry state. Most police officers generally love the Constitution and will take a bullet to depend it as we saw admirably in Dallas. But at the end of the day, it's not responsible. It's legal to bring your guns but it's not responsible.
SMERCONISH: You don't want them doing it. You don't want them exercising their, quote/unquote, "right".
LOOMIS: Absolutely not. That makes for mayhem. We're going to have two passionate groups of people on the opposite sides of the world as far as ideologies go. The last thing that we need is to have anyone on either side of that armed. And that's going to make our job very difficult as we're standing in between them.
So, we want everyone to go home in the same shape they came.
SMERCONISH: Your badge is draped in solidarity with your fallen comrades from Dallas. You know the reports, 20 to 30 people brought confusion to the scene because they were carrying weapons and police officers, law enforcement, they couldn't tell the good from the bad. That's why initially, there was a report of three or four who were in custody.
LOOMIS: Yes, and more importantly the people who had the guns, what did they do? They ran to the nearest police officer and gave that gun up because they did not want to be part of the problem instead of the solution in that.
SMERCONISH: "They're setting my guys up," what are you talking about?
LOOMIS: Well, you know, we have some policies. We have a lot of people that sit behind the mahogany desks and look at paperwork and see what we need to do here. And when you send up 28-page policy just three short weeks before the convention, very, very difficult to adhere to something like that on such short notice with very little training. So, that was more of a CYA policy for the city of Cleveland that the law department and everyone came up with.
SMERCONISH: Jeff Larson, who is the CEO of that arm of the RNC putting on this convention, says, "Hey, Loomis is not involved on a day-to-day basis." Maybe he's implying you don't know what you're talking about.
LOOMIS: Yes. Well, that's unfortunately because Loomis is deeply involved on a day to day basis with the men and women out there in the trenches. And those are folks I'm listening to and I'm listening to the main staff and people and supervisors out there. So, Mr. Larson is not deeply involved in that aspect of it.
You know, we can all get along in this thing. But, at the end of the day, the people who are really going to protect this -- openly protect us are going to be my men and women in uniform standing between two very passionate groups of people that we want to come here and express their opinion.
SMERCONISH: On a one to ten, your level of concern about keeping this city and this convention safe.
LOOMIS: You know, the potential for disaster is there. We have done everything we can do. The men and women of the Cleveland Police Department and the law enforcement that are coming to help us are going to rise to the occasion. You know, so my level of concern and worry is about an eight or a nine. This is a huge up event.
SMERCONISH: Well, Jonathan Wackrow, you have provided support from a Secret Service perspective for events many times over for events like this. I know you ran counter surveillance in 2004 in New York when the Republicans came to Manhattan.
Is infiltrating the groups you're most concerned about the key?
JONATHAN WACKROW, COUNTERSURVEILLANCE COORDINATOR, 2004 RNC: Well, yes, that's obviously a concern. But I think we need to take one step back, Michael, and just understand that the Republican National Convention is a national special security event.
[09:05:07] So what that means is that the city of Cleveland has the full backing of the federal government.
You know, I understand what Mr. Loomis' concerns are, but thankfully, the Cleveland police department doesn't have to do this event by themselves. They have the full backing of the federal government, the coordination of the United States Secret Service and all the resources that go with it.
So I don't want to diminish any of his concerns because they are valid to a point. But I think we have to look at comprehensive security planning that's been going on since August of 2014 for this event needs be taken into account.
SMERCONISH: Are you working well together? Are all the different law enforcement entities protecting this convention working well together?
LOOMIS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And he's absolutely right. There are an immense amount of resources here, mostly that you're not going to see.
And again, as the president of the police union, my concern is for the uniformed members that are out there. They are going to be out there in the trenches and right outside the gated moat isn't as rosy as it is inside the hard zone.
SMERCONISH: When you speak about the ability to protect law enforcement and the city at the same time, I'm reminded of the $50 million grant from Justice to Cleveland to protect the Cleveland. Two thousand riot gear outfits were part of the package.
There's this ongoing national debate about the militarization of police. Some think if you give all these forms of weaponry, defensive or offensive, cops are going to want to use them. Respond to that.
LOOMIS: If you don't, the cops are going to get hurt.
LOOMIS: That's my response to that. It's a ridiculous notion.
SMERCONISH: OK. Jonathan Wackrow, how do you protect against -- I'm thinking of Nice now -- how do you protect against a guy driving a truck?
WACKROW: Well, listen, it goes back to the very comprehensive planning that the Secret Service coordinators have been doing for well over a ar. So, you know, the Nice event, that type of tragic attack has been thought of and has been thought of multiple times. I mean, so from a tactical standpoint, the Secret Service and their law enforcement counterparts have looked at high-speed avenues of approach into critical areas and have mitigated that with blocking vehicle barriers, et cetera.
So, what I think is really important today is for everyone to understand that there is a very comprehensive multi-layered security protocol that's going on in place in Cleveland right now. What we can't get distracted by are the last-mine attacks worldwide. Those things have been thought of beforehand. I think right now, it's taking that comprehensive plan and now executing it with our partners such as the Cleveland police department.
SMERCONISH: In other words, Jonathan, you don't think that the attack in Nice would have caused any changes in what's being provided here in Cleveland, that eventuality, the possibility of that eventuality would have been thought through and dealt with.
WACKROW: Absolutely. One of the greatest aspects of the Secret Service coordination for any national security event is the comprehensive planning, is the contingency planning for every type of event, whether it's an active shooter, whether it's explosive, chemical, biologic, civil disobedience, they have gone through this line by line and have thought of and table-topped a lot of these concerns. It mitigated it through different types of actions, whether it is overt police uniform presence or covert counter-surveillance operations.
You know, the Cleveland Police Department, they are on the outer perimeter. They are the first line of defense to anything that's coming here. But also they stand shoulder to shoulder with, you know, homeland security investigative agents, Secret Service agents on that outside and collectively, this is going to be a safe event.
SMERCONISH: Jonathan Wackrow, Stephen Loomis, Godspeed and to all your men and women. We appreciate you very much.
LOOMIS: Thank you very much.
SMERCONISH: What do you think? Tweet me @Smerconish. I will read some of the best later in the program.
Up next, our own Dana Bash reports immediately after selecting Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has buyer's remorse. And what will the Pence pick impact Hillary Clinton's selection?
Plus, what about those ultraconservative planks in the party's platform? I'll talk to the first openly gay Republican on the platform committee.
And here's an early tweet, and Atheist Mennonite like this, "You can't bring an umbrella but you can bring an assault rifle to the convention? Does no one realize how messed up this is?" Well, Mr. Loomis realizes, he just told us so.
[09:13:58] SMERCONISH: (INAUDIBLE) in public. Maybe it will be Newt, maybe it's Christie, Donald Trump said to Mike Pence, you're hired.
But behind the scenes, our Dana Bash reported Trump was so unsure about the choice that after he called Pence, the billionaire developer had buyer's remorse.
Joining me now, Mark McKinnon, co-creator, co-host of the Showtime's "The Circus", former campaign adviser to George W. Bush.
Mark, great to have you back.
Assess for me the Pence pick. It seems more to salve the concerns of the base than to grow the tent, no?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER G.W. BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Oh, I disagree. I think it's absolutely the best choice to grow the tent. I mean, if you're an undecided voter or somebody's not inclined to vote Hillary, what you want to see in a pick with Donald Trump is someone to balance the ticket, a steady hand, a calm hand.
He's got plenty of excitement. He didn't need a pirate on the ticket. He needed somebody who was sober Midwesterner, somebody just like Mike Pence. I think it's a perfect pick.
SMERCONISH: Well, and I guess I'm just playing devil's advocate and wondering, given that he has, he Donald Trump such strong support among white males, particularly older white males, why not out of the box? Why not a female section? Why not a person of color?
MCKINNON: Well, I don't think there was anybody -- I mean, he called Condi Rice, Condi Rice said no. Among the options he had, were three good options, I just think Pence was the best one and that's what he checked off to --
SMERCONISH: Can --
MCKINNON: -- which said he has impulse control, which is again what people want to see, some impulse control. It was a rational choice.
SMERCONISH: A steady hand on the rudder is what Mark McKinnon sees in this pick. Can a populist and an ideological purist, because I think that properly sums up Pence, can they co-exist? Or is that more of an oil and water combination?
MCKINNON: Absolutely they can co-exist. Listen, every vice presidential selection, as it always happens, people -- you know, the Democrats attack, like they attacked Cheney for his ideological differences with Bush. At the end of the day, voters don't care. They're going to vote for the guy at the top of the ticket, the vice president subsumes all his positions, gets on board and salutes to say I'll be a good number two.
So, those ideological differences and those differences on positions don't matter a whit at the end of the day. SMERCONISH: You said something there, there was a piece in "The
Circus" that I want to run because Donald Trump made an observation pertaining to his own lack of spending thus far. Roll that clip and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you look at Hillary Clinton, you're a student of your opposition. She seemed to think you're somebody that's going to win or somebody running scared?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't think about it, Mark. I'll be honest. I just do what I do. As you know, polls came out today that essentially we're even. Some of the swing states we're doing fantastically. I haven't spent and she's spent a lot. She spent close to $100 million. I've spent nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: To his point, is he making money and organization irrelevancy? Because by all measurements, she has more of a field operation. She's got the big operation in Brooklyn. There was a great piece that Sam Stein wrote at "Huff Po" this week where he tried to call the Trump offices in all 50 states and without much result, let's say. And he's not spending.
And yet they are neck and neck.
MCKINNON: Well, exactly, Michael, which just testifies to something I believe strongly, which is at the end of the day, message Trump's organization any day. I mean, you can have all the organization in the world, but if you don't have a message the voters are not going to come out.
So, the important thing is to have a powerful, compelling, clear message, and, you know, that's -- the convention will be a great opportunity for both the candidates to frame-up what that's going to be.
And, by the way, as I have seen historically in the conventions I've been involved in, you know, it's a four-day opportunity to really frame your message. You get to control the whole thing. And, by the way, it's an opportunity and is quite often a chance to just completely wipe out what has happened before. It is a big reset.
So, if Donald Trump takes advantage of this, shows up with Mike Pence who is a really good and in a really boring way, he's not going to divert attention from Donald Trump because nobody can do that anyway. He's got a good chance to come count of it in much better shape than he was going in.
SMERCONISH: Mark McKinnon, God willing, you and I will have this conversation in four years. Win or lose, what does the Republican Party look like?
MCKINNON: Well, right now looks very different because it's in some ways Donald Trump is post-political or post-ideological. I've been saying if for a long time we need to blow up the Republican Party and Donald Trump is certainly doing that.
So, one thing the Republican Party desperately needed to do was find a different direction. Now, whether or not the Donald Trump is the right direction, we shall see. But the good news is that, you know, in many ways, Donald Trump is not a typical ideological Republican. And for a lot of voters, that's going to be compelling.
SMERCONISH: Right. I'm wondering whether the control, the very conservative element of the party has exerted is now torn asunder and regardless of whether Trump wins or loses four years from now, that will be a reflection of where the GOP is.
MCKINNON: That could be. And I think that the Ted Cruz forces are laying in wait just like Reagan did and preparing to comeback if Donald Trump doesn't win to say, now, we have a true conservative ready to go.
SMERCONISH: Mark McKinnon, thanks as always.
MCKINNON: Michael, thanks.
SMERCONISH: All right. No one since 1960 has not won the presidency without winning at least two of three state combinations of Pennsylvania, my home state, Florida and Ohio.
A recent Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton and Trump neck and neck in all three.
Joining me now, the GOP state chairs of two of those states. With me, Blaise Ingoglia of Florida and Matthew Borges of Ohio.
Matthew, let me begin with you. We are in Cleveland. We're in Ohio. John Kasich won't be here. Marco Rubio won't be here either, although I think he'll be a video participant. What does that say?
MATTHEW BORGES, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF OHIO: The governor is going to be up in Cleveland. We're doing an event to honor him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
SMERCONISH: Well, be in that building?
BORGES: I haven't seen his final schedule yet. But we're -- of course, we're proud of him as our governor. We're proud of the campaign he ran for president. He has said he doesn't want to be a distraction. So, he's not going to do anything to disrupt.
But we're going to be focus on winning Ohio. As you mentioned, with two of those three states, no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. So, it's going to be critical for us to get that effort going here this year and that's what we're going to do.
SMERCONISH: But, Blaise, it's a sign of consternation within the GOP, within the minds of even some of the delegates, who will be here, the 5,000 or so folks that they're just not cool with top of the ticket. What do you hear from the Florida delegation on that?
BLAISE INGOGLIA, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA: Well, the Florida delegate is totally united in this and a lot of people did support other people in primaries, but, look, that's what primaries are for. At the end of the day, everyone comes together and rallies for our nominee. And that will tell you firsthand that almost every one of the 99 delegates that the state of Florida has, we're all committed to Mr. Trump and we're all going to work hard to deliver the state.
SMERCONISH: But the biggest star, respectfully, the biggest star I think in your arsenal is Marco Rubio and that he won't be doing what Ted Cruz is doing, which is coming to the dais and making a speech, I find significant.
INGOGLIA: Well, Senator Rubio is going to be here in spirit. He's going to appear during a video.
But I will tell you, I have spoken to the senator quite often over the past couple of weeks, he's working hard. He has a re-election campaign. He decided to re-run for the U.S. Senate because he understands how important it is to keep the U.S. Senate in Republican hands.
So, he's boots on the ground. He's working extremely hard. I sort of agree that he needs to be making sure that we're campaigning keeping the U.S. Senate in Republican hands.
SMERCONISH: Florida has seen a change if Quinnipiac is to be believed. In June, Hillary Clinton had an advantage. I think it was an eight-point advantage. Now, it's a Donald Trump slight advantage. Ohio has been neck and neck, remains neck and neck.
Do you attribute the flip in Florida to the e-mail issue that she had with the way in which James Comey came out and said we're not recommending charges but she was really careless?
INGOGLIA: Well, the first thing I would say about the polls, the only thing consistent about the polls, especially in Florida, is that they are inconsistent. And I will say that it's going to be a tight race, but those e-mails and the Comey situation really hurt Hillary Clinton. And people -- and most importantly, independents in the state of Florida are starting to understand now, we cannot trust this lady to be the commander in chief.
BORGES: Yes, there's no way it couldn't have hurt her when you have the FBI director come out and essentially say she broke the law. He's just choosing not to prosecute her because of the way the statute has been enforced in the past.
The number one word Ohioans associate with Hillary Clinton already is liar. Not dishonest, not trustworthy, liar. And so, this didn't help hat all with that situation and she has a 60 percent disapprove rating in the last poll that was out in Ohio. And it's going to be very tough. SMERCONISH: Well, "New York Times" this week, I'm doing it from
memory, but I think the number was 67 percent of Americans, not Republicans, Americans don't view her as honest and trustworthy. So, that's the Achilles heel.
But is there love in your delegation for Donald Trump?
BORGES: Oh, yes. I think right now, we're seeing folks, we want to win, we want to make sure we have a conservative in the White House. We want to make sure that we're the ones who are picking those the next Supreme Court justices. And so, right now, the objective is to carry Ohio. There's no path to winning the White House without carrying Ohio. So, our delegation is --
SMERCONISH: Every four years, man, I'm an attorney I talk about the importance of the Supreme Court picks. And yet, I seem to fall on deaf ears. Maybe this is the year that will be, for whomever you're for, the critical issue.
INGOGLIA: This is definitely the year. The Supreme Court picks are crucial. It's a legacy pick. These picks are going to basically say yea or nay to policy we want to pass over the next four to eight years.
And if there's anything for conservatives to rally around, it's those Supreme Court picks. Donald Trump has done an amazing job getting new people involved in the political process. In the state of Florida, about 6 percent people vote in the primary that never voted before, translating to 155,000 new voters. That's double what Barack Obama won the state in 2012.
SMERCONISH: OK. As I would expect, you're both here to tell me, hey, he's going to carry Florida. He's going to carry Ohio.
Let's get to the important stuff. I love the pageantry of what's about to up fold. There will come a roll call, somebody standing up in each one of your states to say, on behalf of the great state of Ohio, who is doing it and do you have the pitch ready?
BORGES: From the city of champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers --
BORGES: That will be me and we'll be casting our 66 delegates.
SMERCONISH: So, you're ready? How long do you have to do that yet?
BORGES: I don't know. They have not told us that yet.
SMERCONISH: OK, but you're definitely giving a tip hat to LeBron.
BORGES: Why wouldn't we?
SMERCONISH: From Florida, what's the pitch?
INGOGLIA: Big secret, you'll find out. SMERCONISH: Oh, come on. Are you the one doing it?
INGOGLIA: We haven't decided yet. We have not decided yet. But whoever does it is going to understand A, the importance of it, but it's also going to be a good statesman.
SMERCONISH: I love that moment. Will your delegation be unanimous for Donald Trump?
SMERCONISH: Unanimous. They are not going to say three votes for Rubio.
INGOGLIA: No, we are also bound by rule for three ballots. But that is neither here nor there. We are all committed to Mr. Trump.
SMERCONISH: OK, man. Have a great convention.
INGOGLIA: Thank you.
BORGES: Thank you so much.
SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for being here, appreciate it.
[09:25:01] What do you think? Tweet me @Smerconish and I will read some of the best later in the program.
Still to come: this year, Trump is promising a showbiz convention. Do you remember this awkward celebrity moment from the last one when Clint Eastwood yelled at a chair that was supposed to represent Barack Obama? I'm going to ask a Romney strategist who helped run that show. What can we expect from the reality show hosted by candidate Trump?
Here's another tweet from a viewer about an earlier discussion. Let me take a look at this, sweet pea, "once again nut-job liberal @smerconish," do you like that? Do I strike you as a nut job? We just spent five minutes together. No comment. OK.
"Tries to take away the bill of rights". Hey, the head of the police union doesn't want you bringing your gun in an open carry state to this convention, all right?
[09:30:19] SMERCONISH: Welcome back to Cleveland, where Donald Trump has been promising a star-studded extravaganza, an unconventional convention.
Now, what we won't see are the two most recent presidents named Bush, nor the most recent GOP standard bearers, Senator McCain from '08, Governor Mitt Romney from 2012. What we will see speakers named Trump. What does that mean for the convention and the party?
Joining me now, GOP strategist Russ Schriefer who ran Romney's 2012 convention, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, and Paul Begala, former counselor to President Bill Clinton, who's now adviser to the pro- Hillary super PAC Priorities USA.
Hey, Russ, here in Cleveland, as we're about to get underway, it doesn't feel as buttoned down as 2012 does. And yet, as you will know and we talk already about Clint and the chair, stuff happens even when you have a script.
RUSS SCHRIEFER, GOP STRATEGIST: Sure. It's live. It's live television. And it's live for four nights for multiple hours. And there's really nothing like it.
I mean, a convention is not even a one-hour TV show for "Saturday Night Live" where something can happen, you're only dealing with 55 minutes. You're dealing with programming for four nights, multiple hours, multiple people, and at any moment, something can happen. And, listen, that is what you like because it is really good TV.
SMERCONISH: It's true.
Hey, Governor Romney has an awfully handsome family, I'm thinking of those boys. But you didn't roll them all out. Donald Trump has a handsome family. We're going to meet all of them. Who has the right model?
SCHRIEFER: We don't know. I mean, I think that the Trumps have won model. Governor Romney made a different decision, which I don't think was just different. He had Mrs. Romney speak on Wednesday night in a very well and highly-regarded speech.
And one of his sons, Craig Romney, spoke on Thursday night to talk about his dad. And Craig Romney spoke in Spanish because he's fluent in Spanish from his mission. So, we were quite happy with the number of Romneys that were on the stage.
SMERCONISH: Kayleigh, we have to talk about the pence pick. I have to talk about Dana Bash's reporting. I trust her reporting. Did he have buyer' remorse? And if so, why?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not sure it was buyer's remorse. He said, man, Christie, he would have been a good pick, too. It's just the way he talks about the decision. I think he's confident in Mike Pence. It was an excellent choice and I don't think he regrets it.
SMERCONISH: I don't know if you follow Begala on Twitter, I do. He had a funny tweet. Care to share. Which it should have been reversed.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, in fact, I think Mike Pence who is a really good guy. He's a very decent man. I bet he had an enormous buyer's remorse.
BEGALA: What the hell am I getting into in he should have known. The Trump buyer's remorse is not driven by a deficit for Mike Pence. I wouldn't have picked him for other reasons, but I think it's more -- you know what he really wanted was a handheld mirror. He didn't want anybody to share the spotlight.
MCENANY: No, I don't think that is it, Paul. Chris Christie is someone close to him. This is someone he trusts. Trump values loyalty. We see that time and time again. So, I think it was more, do I want this loyal person or do I want Mike Pence who did endorse Ted Cruz but someone who will reassure the Republican Party that he respects the value they have stood on for a very long time, and he went with the latter.
BEGALA: You said he respects loyalty, why didn't he reward loyalty? Why didn't he show loyalty? Chris Christie humiliated himself in support of Trump, so much that Trump insulted him. No more Oreos for Chris. Oh my God. It's just humiliating and Trump didn't reward that.
MCENANY: It was more important to be loyal to the Republican Party and to say, look, I may differ from the platform in certain places but I respect this party and I respect the values that have nominated me.
SMERCONISH: Paul, I have to ask you about two things. Sam Stein at "Huff Po" called off 50 states looking for a Trump campaign apparatus and really could fine none. NBC came out with a report showing how Team Clinton spent $26 mil on battleground ads in June, Trump spent zero. He's got no organization in comparison to hers. He is spending zero dollars, and they are neck and neck according to Quinnipiac in the battleground states.
That doesn't bode well for her.
BEGALA: They are tied, I guess it does.
SMERCONISH: She's spending a ton of money. You're running the super PAC.
BEGALA: Yes. And he has not gone over 42 in any of those states.
We will know after the conventions, OK? That's when we'll really get our first look. But this is a dead heat race. There's no two ways about it. It is a dead heat race.
This country does not give a party three terms in a row.
[09:35:03] Yes, we gave Reagan to Bush. But the Democrats who were 17 points ahead of their convention and then blew it. Except for that, it's never happened in my lifetime.
So, of course, this is a dead heat race and Trump has got his followers and they are terrific. They're committed. He had a fully functioning mental health system, more of them would be committed, but they are out there.
And Hillary is going to do her job. I'm going to have to do mine. It's a dead heat race.
SMERCONISH: Russ, maybe your boss is on the wrong side of this. I mean, as I mentioned, he won't be here, John McCain won't be here, Bush 41 won't be here, Bush 43 won't be here, but the data suggests that Donald Trump is in the hunt.
SCHRIEFER: Well, he's definitely in the hunt. And what you see in the numbers is there are two different worlds. If you're a white male, Hillary Clinton's disapprovals are astronomically high. They are the highest I think of any politician that we have recorded in recent history.
However, if you're a white female, particularly if you're a white college educated female, Donald Trump's disapproval is incredibly high.
So, we really are living in sort of parallel universes where if you're a white male you like Trump, and if you're a white female, you are going to be supporting Hillary Clinton. And there's a lot of other voters out there, you know, Hispanics, African-Americans, and I think that is what is going to wind up deciding this race.
SMERCONISH: Kayleigh, what are you looking forward to, to turn around some of that negativity, because Russ pointed it out with regard to Hillary. But both of them are in the 60s in terms of how the public regards them negatively. What can change in this arena behind me in the next four nights?
MCENANY: Two quick things. First, Trump is going to display his family, which is an excellent choice to show him as family man and father. It's important to see his kids and how great that they turned out. That is one.
But, two, I think Mike Pence. Anyone who watches this man, he's someone who is principled, committed, passionate, soft, a nice temperament, and I think Mike Pence is going to do so much for this ticket to really level it out and put it into general election mode.
SMERCONISH: Is it an asset or a liability that they disagree on trade? That Mike Pence tweeted in the aftermath of Donald Trump saying relative to Muslims and immigration that he disagreed with him? I guess you're going to tell me, well, it's a good thing because he thinks outside the box and tolerates opposing points of view.
MCENANY: Yes. Look, to think you have two robots in lockstep on every single ticket in an issue on a ticket is just a fairy tale. People have different views, but it doesn't mean that they can't get together and do what's best for this country. I think it's an asset.
BEGALA: I think the bigger news is where they're the same. Donald Trump's strongest in the primaries were Christian evangelicals, which I find it astonishing. He beat Ted Cruz among Christian evangelicals. That's an enormous accomplishment.
Governor Pence's strongest voters are Christian evangelicals. So much so that he's a man of principle. He's a very good guy. But his principles are that you should take money away from funding AIDS and use it to this theory to pray away the gay. He's principled in his homophobia
MCENANY: That's not true. To say he's homophobic, people -- BEGALA: It's homophobic to say that gay people are somehow wrong and
that they should get over it by praying.
MCENANY: People can be pro-traditional marriage and not be homophobic.
BEGALA: It's not marriage. This is pray away the gay.
MCENANY: No, that's not true.
BEGALA: He said, we should cut funding for AIDS and put it into funding to pray for the gay. He wants to shut down the government from funding Planned Parenthood. These are principles that are just principles that voters Russ talk about are going to like. These voters that Trump already has love those things. He's got to find a way to grow.
MCENANY: This is what Team Clinton is going to try to do.
BEGALA: Mike Pence will not help him grow.
MCENANY: Team Clinton will try to paint him as bigoted. But anyone who watches that man, and I encourage voters to make up their mind. We'll see a man who was very even-tempered, someone who is principled in a way that is acceptable and not bigoted and not homophobic.
SMERCONISH: Final question for all three, if you have a name, sometimes conventions are a chance for a breakout candidates Barack Obama in 2004. We've all seen those who will speak here in Cleveland. Russ, anybody on the list that you think has a breakout moment possible?
SCHRIEFER: Well, I think there's probably two. I think Mike Pence because he's not known to most of the public and has a really opportunity to define himself and be very helpful to the ticket. And listen, I think the second person is Ivanka Trump. She's well-spoken, very poised, and can be a fantastic spokesperson for her father.
So I think you're going to be a lot of Ivanka stories post-convention.
SMERCONISH: Any names?
BEGALA: When Ann Romney spoke last time, I said the Republicans nominated the wrong Romney. I think a lot of Republicans after Ivanka speaks are going to say, holy smokes, we nominated the wrong Trump.
SMERCONISH: But Melania on Monday, right? Melania is Monday night.
MCENANY: Melania is great. Yes, Melania I think will have a breakout moment but also Joni Ernst. She's a great one. Yes, veteran, strong Republican.
SMERCONISH: Goo suggestion.
Guys, welcome to Cleveland.
MCENANY: Thank you.
BEGALA: Thanks, Michael.
SCHRIEFER: Great. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, despite Trump's friendly overtures about LGBT Americans, the GOP platform went ultraconservative on family values, same sex marriage and gender neutral bathrooms. So, what does the first openly gay GOP platform committee member think? I'll ask her next.
[09:40:01] And here's another viewer tweet, we'll see why Guy Pearson has to say. "Smerconish, let's face it, RNC is Christian rock concert, DNC is a dead show. Which would you rather attend?"
Well, I went to Kenny Chesney and I saw the Dead in Chicago last year. So, I'll choose both.
SMERCONISH: Despite Trump's seemingly centrist views on social issues, the platform veered hard right this year. The platform opposes same sex marriage, supports bathrooms that reflect birth gender and offer support to businesses that deny service to certain customers under the guides of religious freedom. In fact, "The New York Times" labeled it "almost Victorian in its moralizing and deeply critical of how the modern American family has evolved."
This led the one openly gay Republican on the platform to wonder to "TIME" magazine, "Why am I even here?"
[09:45:05] Rachel Hoff joins me now.
I guess I have the Admiral Stockdale question for you. Who are you and why are you here? It seems like you should be in Philadelphia next week?
RACHEL HOFF, OPENLY GAY GOP PLATFORM COMMITTEE MEMBER: Well, I've been a Republican for a long time. I've been a Republican since high school and I came out after college. So both parts of my identity are really important to me. And other than this one very important issue, my beliefs are squarely in line with our party. And this week was --
SMERCONISH: Wait, why do you say despite this issue, you mean on the platform as its written, you're cool with everything else except this part of the platform, right?
HOFF: I wouldn't say I'm cool with everything else to the letter. But I mean in general the Republican Party, the foundational beliefs, its history, its history even in my lifetime, are principles, ideas, policies that resonate with me.
SMERCONISH: And you would say on this issue, I don't want to do your bidding for you, but wouldn't you say you're the real Republican because you're the one articulating a case for individual freedom? What could be more individually freedom inspiring than saying to each his or her own?
HOFF: Exactly. I think one of the mischaracterizations of folks like me in the party, not just LGBT individuals, but those that want to advance LGBT rights, is that we're moderate. That's not true at all. Conservative principles call for freedom, equality --
SMERCONISH: Stay out of the bedroom.
SMERCONISH: Do you think at his core, Donald Trump is on your side on this issue and not the side of those who finalized the platform as it pertains to LGBT? Said to Caitlyn Jenner, use whatever bathroom you want, I think has a history of working well with gays and lesbians?
HOFF: Even attended Elton John's wedding?
SMERCONISH: Elton John plays -- you know, it's funny you say this. Elton John's music still plays when he comes in for his events. I felt if Elton John had a beef, he would pick up the phone and we'd be reading about it.
HOFF: So, there are indications that Trump is friendly around the LGBT issues, at least than other Republicans, which I'll admit is a low bar. I had hoped that was true and coming into convention, coming into platform, coming into the V.P. nomination, I think I was looking for signs he would demonstrate real leadership on this issue rather than just the rhetoric, which is what he presented so far.
It's good rhetoric. But stay out of the bathroom issue. He stood up for gays and lesbians as victims of the terror attack in Orlando. All that is great, but if he's going to be a champion on the LGBT issues within the Republican Party, he's going to have to lead.
SMERCONISH: Do it in daylight.
HOFF: Indications coming out of the platform show that he didn't.
SMERCONISH: I'm glad you brought up Orlando because I understand you lost an effort to characterize that massacre at the Pulse nightclub as an attack on the LGBT community in Orlando.
HOFF: That's right.
SMERCONISH: Who could oppose that and for what?
HOFF: Well, the vast majority of the platform committee.
SMERCONISH: What was the logic?
HOFF: The logic was that as Republicans we stand up for all victims of terror, we don't want to name specific groups. We actually often offered amendment that said, not just the LGBT community as victims of terror, of course, in Orlando, but also around the world as victims of violence and extremism, along with Christians, Jews, religious minorities, women. And there was the argument that was made that as Republicans we
shouldn't get into identity politics and naming certain groups. That was a consistently held standard throughout the platform. I would be fine with that. But there are instances throughout the platform where we do identify particular group, where we do stand with Christians as victims of certain kinds of persecution.
And all I was asking that we similarly stand with the LBGT community in the most obvious of circumstances where they were targeted in Orlando. I was really disappointed by that.
SMERCONISH: It seemed to me as I read, you were there, you're the one. But it seemed to me that you were making the case to say the LBGT community was singled out in this instance by terrorism.
SMERCONISH: One other subject. So, Governor Pence now is the running mate. We all remember last year with the issue of the so-called religious freedom bill on simplifying he came down on the side of the cook, the baker and the candlestick maker who wished to say, I'm not serving you based on religious freedom.
I guess you're unsettled about that pick.
HOFF: Well, I'm unsettled about the pick, Governor Pence demonstrated real leadership on a lot of issues and there are a lot of issues where I agree with him. But on the LBGT issues in particularly, he's not a friend of our community.
I will say to the religious liberty point, it's important to me as an LBGT Republican and for allies of LBGT issues within the party to stand up strongly for religious liberty. I think sometimes it seems like we're the only ones that want to stand for both equal rights for LBGT individuals and religious liberty for people of faith. Sometimes, you know, there are those on the far right that only care about religious liberty and some on the left who only seem to care about the equality for LBGT individuals at the expense of religious liberty.
I think it's important to build a coalition to stand up for both principles and reject the notion that they are always in conflict with one another.
SMERCONISH: Quick final question, which is more difficult, going into the platform committee, you know, here in Cleveland for the Republicans and arguing for LBGT rights or going back and being with friends who are in that community when they say to you, what, you're a Republican and you're going to the convention?
[09:45:07] HOFF: Right. I have always faced more flak I guess from my gay and lesbian friends about being a Republican. I'll say that even this week, even in the difficult platform committee proceedings where I received -- I actually did get 23 votes for the amendment. That's almost a quarter of the committee that stood up for me. Even after I announced I was a lesbian Republican and proud of it. The number of people on that committee who didn't vote with me, who
supports traditional marriage, but who came up to me and said thank you for being here, please don't leave the party. That was encouraging.
SMERCONISH: Good. Dignity and respect, I'm all for that. Thank you, Rachel.
HOFF: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Good luck.
Still to come, your best and worst tweets. Here's another, this is from David Axelrod. I can't wait to see. What does David say?
"Florida state chair tells Smerconish that Marco Rubio will be at the GOP convention in spirit. There will be a lot of spirits in Cleveland." Yes, David, including both Bushes and Mitt Romney and John Kasich apparently.
[09:55:21] SMERCONISH: I always say you can follow me on Twitter if you can spell Smerconish.
Here's some of what just came in. Jane who says, she was glad that Officer Stephen Loomis was interviewed. Listening to NRA sponsors on the talk radio, you would believe that all policemen want the U.S. armed."
I thought Officer Loomis was terrific in saying that he doesn't want anybody exercising their open carry opportunity here in Cleveland. Leave your AR-15 at home with your can of tuna and your tennis balls.
Two more, can we read those back to back? They make a good point. There is JB who says, "Shamefully Smerconish won't hold my break for you to vet Trump or now Pence. But can bet on your anti-Hillary propaganda."
OK. So, I'm a propagandist against Hillary, and then put up Tony who says, "Smerconish is nothing but a liberal hack who questions everything the GOP does and says, blah, blah, blah."
So, it appears I've offended both ends of the political extreme which means I've kicked off my Cleveland stay in perfect style.
See you next week.