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Democrat Doug Jones Wins Red State Alabama Special Election; Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore In U.S. Senate Race; Alabama Senate Race Starkly Divided On Racial Lines; Barkley Democrats Have Taken Blacks & Poor For Granted. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired December 13, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:21] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles where it has just gone 11:00 p.m. here on a remarkable Tuesday in U.S. politics.
SESAY: A stunning upset in Alabama's nail-biting Senate race. Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore in a deeply Republican state. The margin was thin, just under 50 percent for Jones, a little over 48 percent for Moore.
VAUSE: At the Jones campaign headquarters, there was jubilation. Supporters celebrating the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in more than two decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATOR-ELECT: Alabama has been in a crossroad. We have been at the crossroads in the past. And unfortunately we have usually taken the wrong road. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The race turned competitive towards Jones last month when multiple women came forward accusing the Republican Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual behavior decades ago including allegations he molested underage girls. Within just days ago came a presidential endorsement for Moore including a campaign rally by Donald Trump, and the polls began to close. As of this hour Moore is yet to concede. His only public comment has been to promise a recount.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: The votes are still coming in and we're looking at that. May God bless you as you go home. May give you safe journey and thank you for coming tonight. It's not over. And it's going to take some time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: All right. But let's be clear, Alabama's Republican Party says the race is over.
VAUSE: And we begin our coverage with CNN's senior U.S. correspondent Alex Marquardt at Jones campaign headquarters where they are waiting for Roy Moore to concede -- Alex.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the party here at the Doug Jones campaign headquarters is winding down. It was a raucous one following this extraordinary victory. As you can see here, there's still a couple of stragglers basking in the glow of Doug Jones' win.
I just spoke with the campaign chairman for the Jones campaign. He said he had a glass of wine in hand. They too are celebrating tonight.
Now as you know, what normally happens in these situations is the victor gives a victory speech, which we heard from Doug Jones. Then the loser gives a concession speech, which is often followed by a phone call to the victor congratulating him or her.
Now those last two things did not happen. There has been no contact between the Moore and the Jones campaigns. The campaign chairman for the Jones, Charles Perkins, told me that he is disappointed that the proper thing to do would have been for Moore to call and congratulate Doug Jones. He said that it is a clear win and he hopes that they wake up in the morning and concede this race.
Now what we expect to happen in the coming weeks is the secretary of state for Alabama will certify these votes towards the end of December. And then in all likelihood, Doug Jones will be sworn into the Senate in early January.
Back to you.
SESAY: All right. Our thanks to Alex Marquardt there at Doug Jones headquarters.
VAUSE: OK. To our panel now. Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman, political commentator Mo Kelly. Also with us, CNN political commentator and Trump supporter, John Philips, and Republican strategist Austin James.
OK. Caroline, first to you. A great big happy night for the Democrats. Let me burst your bubble.
VAUSE: It was part of the cynical take.
SESAY: That was quick. VAUSE: Well, you know. Let's stick to the blame. Regular time.
Democrats can now win -- this is the cynical take -- Senate races where the Republican candidate has been expelled from the state Supreme Court twice for misconduct and faces multiple, credible accusations of sexually abusing teenage girls. You won't get a lot of races like that moving forward.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: No doubt about it that this had a lot to do with the candidate, but it also had to do with the surge that we've seen, we saw it in Virginia, we saw higher than expected turnout in New Jersey. We saw far higher than expected turnout in Alabama. So during the primary, it was about 15 percent. Almost 40 percent for this race. And the secretary of state was predicting -- a Republican, mind you, predicting 25 percent. So it's not just the candidate, it's also the surge on the left.
SESAY: Got to bring in John Phillips here. I have been waiting all night to hear your read on this. What the Democrats saw that Republicans didn't see. Give us your read on this win.
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Could the Democrats beat an accused pedophile? And I'll give them credit for that.
SESAY: Everyone saw that.
PHILLIPS: Oh, boy, did the Republicans dodge a bullet tonight. After seeing that concession speech, can you imagine what damage this man would do to the brand if we had musings from the last surviving Confederate general on the floor of the United States Senate over and over and over again?
[02:05:01] I mean, it was really -- it's addition by subtraction. They won by losing tonight. I know they didn't want to give up that seat. We got tax reform, we got health care reform coming up. They need every vote they can get. But you don't want to win with that.
VAUSE: OK. We have heard from President Trump who tweeted after the results came in. Quite subdued actually. So we're all wondering if he actually wrote this, but anyway, it's on his account. "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends."
Boy, is he right about that. OK. Let's take a look at the exit numbers here because if you look at the write-ins, they made up, like, just over 1.5 percent of the final tally. You know, that could have been the difference here, although you have 3 percent. So yes, that was actually Jeff Sessions from --
SESAY: With 97 percent of the vote.
VAUSE: Yes, from when he won the seat, which is why they're having this election in the first place because Sessions is now the attorney general. So, yes, OK, if the write-ins in this case had all gone towards Roy Moore, surely he might have won, but, you know, Austin, I think you look at the result that Sessions had, 97 percent.
AUSTIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN DIGITAL STRATEGIST: Right.
VAUSE: Maybe the write-ins weren't that big a deal.
JAMES: Right. So, you know, as you all know I'm from Alabama. And I think the writing was on the wall when I spoke to my father, who really is a poster child for Republicans in Alabama. And he had this moral quandary. He said, listen, I can't honestly support, you know, an alleged pedophile, obviously a man who rides a horse called Sassy to vote. But I also can't -- you know, I also can't vote for someone in good faith knowing that they're going to go there and support an agenda that I ultimately don't support.
So he and a lot of the people that he knows, and a lot of the people that I know, just chose to sat out. And I think that is kind of the untold story here. I think he's a one-term senator. I think he's probably going to go in there and get some easy wins for those who supported him, but I think he's going to ultimately have to play ball. But Republicans will come out next time and you won't see him there.
PHILLIPS: By the way, he said that he's waiting for God to tell him what to do. This is Moore.
VAUSE: Yes. Yes.
PHILLIPS: God wrote in Nick Saban on his ballot.
VAUSE: A good timing, bring Mo Kelly. And a pivot swiftly.
Mo, you heard what Austin said such that he's going to be a one-term senator. That's his thinking. The White House echoing that. We're hearing from someone in the White House saying the president's line now, at least this administration, claiming that they supported Roy Moore because they didn't want to see a split between the Bannon side of the base and the president's side of the base, but they were ambivalent about him winning. Do you buy that?
MO KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. This is all about revisionist history. And to John's point, he wants to say that it's a good thing that he didn't win. No, they wanted Roy Moore to win. And the stink of Roy Moore is still on the Republican Party. The RNC went all-in on Roy Moore. We're talking about a pro-slavery adjacent candidate. We're talking about someone who was kicked off the state's Supreme Court twice. They have to own this. If they want to distance themselves from this candidate it should have been prior to, not after.
VAUSE: And, Caroline, we now have a situation where the president went all-in for Roy Moore. He has the consequences of that campaigning for, you know, a credibly accused child molester, and he didn't win the seat. This is probably, you know, with all due respect, a really awful
outcome for the White House and for Donald Trump and for his authority as the president. Who is going to take him seriously? What are his threats from this point on? You know, what -- you know, what is his leverage?
HELDMAN: Well, Americans are not taking him seriously. Right? I mean, he has the lowest -- historically lowest approval ratings for any president in modern history for this time, and one out of three Americans think that he's doing a decent job. Right? So his endorsement doesn't matter. And I think this race shows that very clearly. His endorsement didn't matter with Luther Strange in the primary.
His endorsement didn't matter when, yes, the Republicans went all-in, $170,000 in the last week that was transferred to Roy Moore's campaign. And at the end of the day, yes, it doesn't -- Donald Trump is the problem with the Republican brand. And you're right, he didn't need competition. It's enough to have one race baiter in the White House, having another one in the Senate would have been equally disastrous.
JAMES: I mean, it was a very close race, and, you know, Roy Moore is kind of -- his concession speech was a non-concession speech. He thinks that there's going to be a recount. I think that's --
VAUSE: There's not.
JAMES: Yes. But, well, but I think that's probably a bigger problem. I mean, you know, again, all of the jokes aside, it was a very close race. I think the bigger point is --
VAUSE: -- won by 97 percent.
JAMES: Right. Right. I think the bigger point is probably if you look at Ed Gillespie, who was for all intents and purposes a great candidate, there's a problem with getting out the suburban vote, and I do think Republicans are going to have to do some soul searching for that.
SESAY: But, and to that point, John Phillips, you are the Trump supporter here.
SESAY: The president threw his weight behind him and we saw a limitation to that.
PHILLIPS: I can tell you. I voted for Donald Trump in the primary, I voted for Donald Trump in the general election. I am a Trump supporter today. If I lived in the state of Alabama, I would not have voted for Roy Moore. I couldn't morally do it. I would have written someone's name in or voted for the Democrat. We used to live in a world where we had very strong parties. We had
Tammany Hall and they picked the candidates and the parties really had the power. And there wasn't a lot of partisanship. Now we have a lot of partisanship but we have very weak parties.
[02:10:01] And at the end of the day, the quality of the candidate matters. And in this particular case, the candidate disqualified himself.
VAUSE: OK. Well, the reality now is that Democrats hold 49 seats in the Senate.
VAUSE: The Republicans have 51.
So, you know, Mo, Mitch McConnell and the Republican -- you know, the Senate leader, he said that he will not be seating Jones until the tax bill is passed. That's going to happen around Christmas. They'll rush this bill through. It's an unpopular bill.
VAUSE: That in itself is not a good look, but it will probably pass. But what about 2018 and the agenda? I mean, they couldn't get anything done with 52 senators. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing it's going to be harder with 51, right?
KELLY: Well, yes, the math is very simple but if we broaden this out and extrapolate, it will be very difficult for this president to get anything done. And I'm not even going to concede that tax is going to get through.
KELLY: The longer this tax bill hangs out there and twists in the wind, the more people know about it, the less people like it, and the less likely it's going to pass. Mitch McConnell may have dodged a bullet, to use John's term in terms of Roy Moore being elected, but he still has to deal with this other bullet of having to deal with the math going forward after 2018, after Doug Jones is installed.
SESAY: You're the Trump whisperer here, John Phillips.
SESAY: Very, very quickly, we saw this rather measured tweet from him, you know, in the aftermath of the vote.
SESAY: Your thoughts, quickly, about what we will see from him the day after.
PHILLIPS: Steven Bannon gets blamed.
JAMES: Don't think so. I would say this, I think Susan Collins' wish list for Christmas --
JAMES: She's put another stocking.
VAUSE: But, you know, we've seen this administration struggle time and time and time again to get anything done in Congress. This is now a president who is, you know, you could say for the most part is neither feared, because of this result, nor respected. And you only have one of those things, it's really hard to get anything done. And this result now just makes it so much harder.
Forget the numbers in the Senate. You know, the president's moral authority, whatever, to push stuff through Congress it just took a big hit.
JAMES: I think so. I mean, you've got a really big quagmire coming. Like I said, I think Susan Collins, you know, she's giddy as a lark now. But --
VAUSE: Yes. Just like Murkowski from Alaska.
JAMES: Right. Absolutely as well. Like I said, their Christmas list is checked off. You know.
SESAY: But I want throw in another thought here about the president and as you talk about his limitations now going forward after this defeat. One of the central narratives of this race had been fake news and, you know, liberal media putting forward a narrative that was untrue about Roy Moore. Was that not repudiated in Alabama? I mean, does this affect the president now going forward as he challenge --
JAMES: The exit polls were reflective of pro-Trump voters. Right? I mean, it was like high 90s that people who went out and voted for Moore were supportive of Trump and then it was --
VAUSE: And they didn't believe the allegations anyway.
SESAY: Right. Nine out of 10.
JAMES: It played into the narrative. The more they --
VAUSE: And those who voted for Jones believed them.
SESAY: Believed it so --
JAMES: It played into the narrative. Absolutely.
SESAY: But for the African-American voters who came out in the droves, again, showing that they will not be swayed by that kind of narrative and will vote along their own issues.
JAMES: John said, he was a bad candidate. I mean, at the end of the day --
HELDMAN: But it's beyond that.
JAMES: -- he was a bad candidate.
HELDMAN: It's beyond that. There is something happening with liberals. There is something definitely happening with the left. So you had people staying home, but we had people showing up. This is an incredibly red state. This was a miracle. What happened tonight was not supposed to happen. You essentially saw women and voters of color mostly women of color, black women, pulling Alabama into the 21st century. It was pretty amazing.
VAUSE: OK. In his victory speech, Jones did not talk about Donald Trump. He did not talk about Roy Moore. He did not talk about Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: This entire race has been about dignity and respect.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: This campaign -- this campaign has been about the rule of law. This --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JONES: This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It was also about a whole lot more than that for the Democrats. The DNC poured a huge amount of money, about a million bucks into Alabama. Thirty operatives on the ground, helping out very quietly, making sort of (INAUDIBLE). Progressive groups like MoveOn.org were also there.
So, Mo, this now puts the Democrats on the offensive for the midterm elections. It changes the map in so many ways. Right?
KELLY: It does in the short term. But I want to give a little pause to this. I mean, it's a stunning victory, but it also saddens me that the second coming of George Wallace and Bull Connor was in such a close election.
Let's not forget. We're only talking about 1.5 percent. This was not a runaway election. This was a very close election and most people thought that Roy Moore was still going to win. I don't think that this changes the election map. I think it changes the trajectory of where things are going in the short term.
SESAY: OK. Does it change the type of candidate fielded by the Democrats, Caroline?
HELDMAN: I think it absolutely does, right? It emboldens the Democrats to put up people who have a clear message. And I actually don't think that Doug Jones had much of a clear message.
[02:15:02] I think that adding to how extraordinary this was, people were voting for him because they didn't want Roy Moore. Right? They didn't want a race baiter, someone who is homophobic. They didn't want somebody who has nostalgia for a time when slavery is legal, and they certainly don't want someone who has accusations of preying upon young girls.
So it was much more about that than it was actually about Doug Jones. But I think they will put up candidates who were much more forceful with a Democratic agenda because it's obviously selling.
VAUSE: John, is this a turning point, though? Are we now seeing, you know, the electric turn against the president? Virginia, New jersey, governor races, huge blowback for the president, now this as well, you know, a repudiation of the president. Is this the momentum which is starting to build?
PHILLIPS: I don't see this as being a repudiation of the president at all. I see this as being a bad candidate who had huge problems --
VAUSE: Embraced by the president.
PHILLIPS: But still, it wasn't his choice in the primary. To the point that was made earlier about the Democrat in this case, it will be interesting to see what Chuck Schumer does with him because he is a blank slate. He essentially ran as the guy who never diddled children.
When he gets in the Senate, are they going to let him vote like a red state Democrat, which means he's going to be voting with the Republicans all the time? Or are they going to have to hold him in line because the margins are so thin? If they make him vote with the other Democrats frequently, he's toast.
VAUSE: OK. Everyone, stay put.
SESAY: Stay close.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break.
When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., who will take the fall for this stunning Republican loss in Alabama? We know that the finger- pointing at the White House has already begun.
SESAY: Meanwhile, Donald Trump is facing new accusations of sexism as he spars with a female senator. The details are just ahead.
[02:20:39] SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN's breaking news coverage of the upset results in the Alabama Senate race.
VAUSE: And our panel is back with us for more on this. OK, a lot of questions now about the future of Steve Bannon. He of
course went down to Alabama and campaigned for Roy Moore.
HELDMAN: Three times.
VAUSE: Three times? Not once, not twice, but three times. OK. Our reporting from the White House sources are telling CNN the president has egg on his face, according to this source, because of Bannon. He told Trump if Moore lost to Democrats -- Democrats, rather, would feel emboldened to go after the president on sexual harassment issues. This source who is familiar with Bannon's place to Trump explains, that's why Trump had to do this. The sources continued, the president invested his political capital and it blew up in his face.
We're also told that the president is unlikely to blame Bannon, as what you've been saying, John. But, Austin, whether or not Bannon gets some of the blame, all of the blame, how damaging is this now for him because he was hoping that, you know, he'd fill a whole host of, you know, new Republican candidates.
JAMES: Right. Well, given the margins, you know, in Congress, I -- I actually think there's a lot of internal talk about who -- what seats and what races do we really want to play in because, you know, the repercussion and the damage could be long term.
I would actually be curious to hear again what the Trump whisperer has to say on it. You know, my thought is that Alabama basically said listen, we don't want the establishment to pick our candidate. So we went with Roy Moore. He turned out to be a kook. Alabama, and, you know, Charles Barkley, fellow Auburn alumni, was down there saying, I think which is what most Alabamians felt which is, listen, we are tired of being the butt of a joke, so we're largely going to stay home and not support this kook. So I think you've got a really big problem that is brewing and again I will be curious to hear what you think.
SESAY: So, John Phillips, the civil war, to his point.
SESAY: Where is the civil war now between the Steve Bannon side --
JAMES: No one is -- yes.
SESAY: -- and the rest?
PHILLIPS: Any other Republican would have won this race by double digits. It was Steven Bannon that got behind Roy Moore. Steven Bannon that convinced the president to get behind Roy Moore, and Steven Bannon was the one that caused them to lose this race.
Now if you're a Republican donor, if you're someone that gives lots of money to groups that go out and run as candidates for office, are you more or less likely to give Steven Bannon money after he produced this result tonight?
JAMES: Right. PHILLIPS: My guess is the money dries up.
VAUSE: You mean the guy who lost a Republican race in Alabama doesn't get any more money?
JAMES: Well, he's picked a lot of losers.
VAUSE: I mean, he has actually. Yes.
JAMES: Yes. But again -- but again he was part of Trump's coalition. And so to your point earlier, I think you've got this world of Trump closing in and you've got this world of the establishment Republicans on very thin ice. There isn't a resolution and so things get worse.
SESAY: And so, Mo Kelly, for those establishment Republicans, do they breathe a sigh of relief right now at this moment with Steve Bannon at least cowed for at least these few hours, and the fact that his candidate did not win?
KELLY: I think they have exchanged one problem for another. Yes, they might have dodged a bullet of Roy Moore, but they still have to effectively legislate. They still have to push through this agenda and make sure that there is a Republican Party that is there remaining come 2020. Because if there is a washout in 2018, they could conceivably lose the House and the Senate.
And the momentum at this point, whether you believe it or not, is still trending towards the Democrats. After Virginia and New Jersey, and now Alabama, the reddest of all states, Alabama, you have to assume at the minimum, this helps the Democratic fundraising arm.
VAUSE: And Caroline, how enthused are Democrats now because of this, because of Virginia and New Jersey, the governor races a few weeks ago? Does this now mean that, you know, states which would normally be sort of out of reach, they kind of will be looked at now?
HELDMAN: I think that's definitely the evidence we see, right? These states are in play. The fact that this happened means that everything should be in play for Democrats. And we know that the DNC is running around the country looking for races that -- both on the House and Senate side that might be vulnerable when it comes to the 2018 election. This actually -- Doug Jones' victory actually puts the Senate in play.
VAUSE: And just to that point, we have heard from the former Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She's on a book tour and she had a few words for the crowd. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But, boy, I have a lot more hope tonight than I had last night. You heard it exactly at the same time we did, and I could hear the cheers coming from all of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [02:25:02] SESAY: I mean, Hillary Clinton there. I also want to add what she tweeted earlier in addition to those comments she made. She said, "Tonight Alabama voters elected a senator who'll make them proud. And if Democrats can win in Alabama we can and must compete everywhere. Onward." But can they?
VAUSE: Should she just go away?
KELLY: I thought she had. Yes.
PHILLIPS: I don't want her to go away.
KELLY: I don't mean to be rude, but I mean --
SESAY: But why?
KELLY: As long as she's the loudest voice in the Democratic Party --
HELDMAN: Yes. She got three million more votes than the sitting president, I think she maybe have something to say.
SESAY: Other former candidates --
KELLY: She does nothing for the Democrats.
SESAY: A male, all the time.
VAUSE: At this point, I'm just wondering if she does more harm than good by coming out.
KELLY: I agree. Absolutely.
HELDMAN: I would absolutely disagree. The Me Too movement is all -- the women's march, I mean, what is happening right now in the country is very much inspired by her. It's also inspired by people like Roy Moore and Donald Trump, sexual predators in the White House.
PHILLIPS: And her husband.
HELDMAN: But she -- and her husband, I would absolutely agree with that. But she has catalyzed a movement. So she is seen as the head of this still by millions of American women.
SESAY: And let's not forget, she won the popular vote. So --
HELDMAN: About three million.
SESAY: So at the end of the day, there was a legitimacy to her vote that I think many people across this country would agree with and to say that she should go away --
VAUSE: I was just wondering, just, you know, the Clintons have dominated the Democratic Party for such a long time that perhaps it would be good if -- for the party if a new breed of leadership came through. So maybe the average age of the party leadership wasn't approaching to 80. But anyway, let's move on because we're also looking at a couple of other issues with regard to the blame and the finger-pointing because we're hearing from the White House.
The finger-pointing tonight has already begun. One source close to the White House on Tuesday night called for the president to replace his political director, Bill Stepien. It's not because Stepien advised Trump in favor of endorsing Moore. Sources tell CNN he advised against it. But it said Stepien has little to no influence.
John, firing Stepien is not going to fix this problem. Ultimately does this come down to, you know, maybe the president needs to take a good hard look at what he's been doing.
PHILLIPS: Well, I think he got burned on -- in the primary and the general. He took Mitch McConnell's advice in the primary, got behind Luther Strange, instead of Mo Brooks, who I think was probably the strongest candidate there. And then Steven Bannon gave him the advice to get behind Mr. Podhoretz in the general election, and that didn't work out either.
So look, I mean, Trump follows his own -- when Trump follows his own instincts, as we saw during the campaign, I think he was better off. When he's taking advice from the establishment wing or the Bannon wing, sometimes they lead him down the wrong path.
SESAY: But we must just caveat that this is a president who says only his opinion matters. He has the instincts, he knows what he's doing and doesn't listen to other people. So --
PHILLIPS: Yes. I think he's likely to double down on that after tonight.
KELLY: He does -- this is a president who does not admit fault. He does accept responsibility, but he's at his best when he's selling himself. He's at a loss when he's trying to sell other candidates and speak on behalf of the party and also other candidates. As long as Donald Trump can stay out of the way of the party, they'll be OK. But they've had a problem trying to control him or direct him.
VAUSE: That is the understatement.
SESAY: Yes. And can we also just note that President Obama also weighed in on this race and had robocalls and he also, you know, helped galvanize the African-American vote.
We'll come back in the next hour and see what part that played in all of this.
VAUSE: Thank you for being with us. PHILLIPS: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you.
All right. Well, a call for Donald Trump to step down escalates into a nasty public feud with a female senator. Why she -- why he, rather, is being called sexist? Next on NEWSROOM L.A.
[02:31:58] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. (INAUDIBLE) It's 32 minutes past the hour. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay coming to you live from Los Angeles.
VAUSE: Well, a remarkable upset in the DP red state of Alabama. Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore in the state's contentious senate race.
SESAY: Jones is the first Democrat to be elected Senator from Alabama in more than 20 years. But so far, Roy Moore has refused to concede, even though the state's Republican Party says this election is over.
VAUSE: Donald Trump spent this Election Day in a public spat with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand after she demanded his resignation over multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
SESAY: Well, the president lashed out on Twitter calling Gillibrand a lightweight who would do anything for campaign contributions. She later held the news conference and called his comments derogatory.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice. And I will not be silent on this issue. Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday and neither will the millions of women have their marching since the Women's March to stand up against policies they do not agree with.
VAUSE: And joining us now, CNN's legal analyst Areva Martin and Jessica Levinson, professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School. What was truly remarkable about what the president did on Twitter? It was on the same day that the special election was being held in Alabama. And when you look at the exit polls, what it shows women went for Doug Jones by 15 points over Moore. So, Jessica, this attack on Kirsten Gillibrand seems to be, you know, just another issue for a president and a Senate candidate in Alabama, both of whom have lots of issues when it comes to women.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Yes. I mean, it's somewhat surprising/absolutely astounding that President Trump would decide to highlight on today of all days the fact that he has been the subject of sexual harassment and let's call it for what it was. I man he was essentially calling a senator a prostitute. He was saying she'll do anything for campaign contributions. He was calling her a lightweight. I mean I think that this was in every way discriminatory, I think in every way it was just plain stupid. On the other hand, at least we're talking about something other than Roy Moore, who he supported. But he is keeping this issue in the news. And you know, this MeToo movement is not going away, and he is simply just throwing logs on the fire.
SESAY: Areva, this is what Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said. She called out the president on the Twitter. Let's put it up for our viewers. She said, "Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame Senator Gillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with Senator Gillibrand?" I mean, it does -- you know, again she says good luck with that. It is incredible, back to the general point that the president would go down such a road, considering his history, considering everything he's in the mix of.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's completely tone deaf on these issues. I think he's been on another planet, as this whole MeToo Movement has taken, you know, so much prominence in the national news, wall-to-wall coverage for the last two months.
[02:35:09] The lists of men who have been fired or who have lost their positions because of allegations of sexual abuse. And the senator called on him to do the very thing that democratic senators called on Al Franken to do and John Conyers. So it wasn't as if she asked him to do something extraordinary or something that wasn't asked of other elected officials, and he being at the highest level of government should be held to the highest standard. And so I think his response to her is what we've seen from him, which is deflect, lie, and attack women.
SESAY: Very quickly, I want to bring the White House's response into play. So it's on this the press house -- the White House press secretary said, "Your mind would have to be in the gutter to take it to a place it's suggesting it was sexist."
MARTIN: Yeah, that's where her boss' mind is all the time. That's where his actions are all the time. And I feel a little empathy for Huckabee-Sanders because she has to go out there every day and defend these policies and defend his actions and his statements when there's no clear defense for them. So she's sitting there stumbling, and you could tell very uncomfortable. And she even talks about this issue when there's so much evidence to support the allegations against him. And there's no reason to discredit the women who came forward against Moore and then somehow believe that the women against Donald Trump are lying. Just no evidence to support that.
VAUSE: Okay. Cool. So, you know, Donald Trump is well-known for, you know, not pulling his punches. Everyone, unless you're Vladamir Putin, it's a fair game, it seems. His attacks on women though are quite in for the most. There are the comments he made after one of the presidential elections about the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. VAUSE: Earlier this year, during an ongoing feud with MSNBC Anchor,
Mika Brzezinski, he called her crazy. And said she came to his resort in Florida bleeding badly from a facelift. Carly Fiorina, a candidate for (INAUDIBLE) nomination back in 2015. Trump told Rolling Stone, Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president? (INAUDIBLE) and so Jessica, you know, Donald Trump insults, you know, a lot of people. But when he insults women, it seems to be especially personal, especially nasty.
LEVINSON: Well, it would seem to be especially personal and I want to pick up on something you were just talking about which is Sarah Huckabee-Sanders saying, well, your mind would have to be in the gutter. And this is so quintessential, it's something that happens with President Trump and then his surrogates, the members of his administration. So all of the statements that you outlined, we all know what she means. He's talking about how women when he goes -- when it comes to women, how women look, how heavy they are. It's all about appearance. And he -- it's a much different attack than it is on men. And then one of his surrogates will say, I can't believe you thought that.
I mean, so we saw that throughout the campaign when it was candidate Trump. We've seen this throughout the administration. And then it's our fault for taking the statement exactly as it was intended to be taken. And so yes, I think it's really important that we continue to say there's something deeply troubling about what he says about women. But let's think actually even more about the actions. Let's talk about the diversity of his administration, which is at historic lows. Let's talk about who he is appointing to the judiciary, where he is appointing record numbers of white men. Let's talk about who he is appointing in the -- I mean, in his own administration, and so it's also important to look at not just what he says, but the fact that it links very carefully to what he does.
VAUSE: Stay with us, because we'll take a short break.
SESAY: We will Areva and Jessica. We appreciate it. Thank you.
VAUSE: Okay. When we come back, African-American voters turned out in record numbers, turning Alabama from ruby red to blue. More on that in just a moment.
[02:42:11] VAUSE: Alabama has its first democratic senator in decades after a narrow offset win by Doug Jones. The vote exposed deep divisions in the state especially (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: Well, exit polls had well over nine in 10 black voters going with Democrat Doug Jones. Republican Roy Moore held a big advantage among white voters. That was expected. Nearly seven in 10 voted with him. Areva and Jessica are still with us. Areva, to you. You know, going into this race, there was this narrative that African-American voters were not mobilizing. We kept hearing that over and over again. They're not mobilizing, they're not excited or coming out. But then come the day and the results it flipped it on its head. Just
to remind our viewers African-Americans make up 26 percent of the electorate there, of the population there in Alabama. He got 30 percent of African-Americans out for this vote, which was incredible. I want to put up on the screen how they broke for these candidates. Just so we can see the real numbers. As you see there, black men and black women, over 90 percent, well over breaking for Doug Jones. 92 percent of black men, 97 percent of black women. You see the rest of the numbers much lower amongst white men and white women. And I wonder, Areva, whether that had something to do with comments made like this by Roy Moore. Take a listen.
ROY MOORE, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA: I think it was great at when families were united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.
SESAY: Roy Moore there is reminiscing about the time of slavery, when families were united. Was that a galvanizing factor?
MARTIN: I think that was. What I think the reality is, African- Americans are a reliable Democratic voting bloc, and we are so often dismissed and our vote is disrespected, and the narrative around our vote is typically negative, and were cast as being apathetic and not voting. And I think what we saw today in Alabama is what you typically see in African-American voters. We are fiercely loyal. And when we are motivated, we come out and we can be the difference in an election. Our vote matters. Our vote counts. Barack Obama galvanized the Alabama vote, the African-American vote. We saw Charles Barkley, we saw Spike Lee, we saw Cory Booker, in the state, boots on the ground, encouraging black voters to come out and vote, helping the black voters understand how important this race was. And so they heard the call and they responded.
SESAY: But that's the point, isn't it? When they're engaged, it talks about when they're engaged, when people come out, they engaged and they speak to them.
MARTIN: Well, all voters have to have a reason to vote.
SESAY: Absolutely. That's my point.
MARTIN: You have to have -- there has to be a fall.
SESAY: You can't just assume that they're going to come out.
MARTIN: Yes, we cannot take the vote for granted. And there was a real reason for African-American voters, there was a clear choice. There was a clear difference between these candidates.
[02:45:00] And the kind of statement about they're being a happy time in America during slavery is the kind of statement that gave black voters a reason to go to the polls.
VAUSE: Joining NBA's Charles Barkley who went down and campaigned for Doug Jones and against Roy Moore. He made that great point about the Democrats are also taking African-American voters to granted. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BARKLEY, HALL OF FAME BASKETBALL PLAYER: This is a wakeup call for Democrats. The Democrats and I told Mr. Jones this, and I love that they have taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It's time for them to get off their ass as to in making life better for black folks and people who are poor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Jessica, you know, if the fight doesn't deliver, African- American voters will stay at home like they did in 2016.
LEVINSON: They will, but -- and I think one of the things that we need to look about is this incredible divide that we saw between the white voters and the African-American voters. So, yes, African- American voters will stay home and it looks like they came out even more than they did in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
LEVINSON: Which is the last time we had good exit polling, but I think that we need to have a discussion among our communities, among ourselves as to why a man who makes this openly racist comments who talks about the fact that we shouldn't have, you know, the end of the constitution, which was in many ways designed to protect African- Americans. Why he still did so well with white voters? And so, I think people are seeing, well, this is a victory for African- Americans, but I also think in a way it's a defeat and it is an indictment of many white voters who don't see this as problematic for everybody.
VAUSE: And motivated with white women than Trump did.
MARTIN: Yes, the white women vote just continues, I think to frustrate particularly African-American women and voters because there is this sense that there is a coalition of African Americans and particularly suburban white women. And we saw with respected Donald Trump, those white women didn't break in favor of Clinton, they broken favor of Donald Trump. And we saw tonight the same way white women broke in favor of Moore --
SESAY: Much high numbers though, you got that point.
MARTIN: -- high numbers. And in some reports, it's suggested white women, particularly an educated white women, they draw their power from white men. So they are going to be aligned with the white male vote more so than any coalition that may exist with minority voters and so I think we saw that tonight, white women particularly. If we look at the socioeconomic and the education level of those voters, we'll probably see our sure percentage of uneducated white women voting with Roy Moore. Because their husbands, the men in their lives voted for Roy Moore
So, we've got to talk about, how we really build coalitions with white women and African-American, Latino and other people of color? If we're going to really be successful in 2018 and (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: I want to Jessica in very quickly because I know you seem like you want to say something
LEVINSON: Well, I mean, I think that's exactly right. It's a key to look at that, but in -- it -- what's striking to me is that these numbers in terms of who turned out and that racial background of who turned out and how they voted, was actually fairly predictable except for, what we're talking about which is the overwhelming number of African-Americans who voted for Roy Moore. So, most things actually in the Alabama race after all of our talk about the fact that --
MARTIN: You mean, the African-Americans that voted for Doug Jones?
LEVINSON: Excuse me, for Doug Jones. So, all of our discussion about how people thought, well, all of these accusations are going to be a factor. The exit polls show that the majority people said, the accusations of sexual harassment and pedophilia.
VAUSE: Yes, right.
MARTIN: They weren't the factor? President (INAUDIBLE) the factor.
LEVINSON: And so, we've largely stay at the status quo except for the large number of African-Americans who went for Dojo.
MARTIN: I think it tells us race, race, and race.
VAUSE: Yes, Jessica and Areva, thank you both.
MARTIN: Thank you.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you, ladies. All right, quick break here. Next, in NEWSROOM L.A., we'll go back to (INAUDIBLE) for more on the standing upset in Alabama, stay with us.
[02:47:46] VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) of the past 24 hours (INAUDIBLE) Roy Moore, riding his horse to cast his ballot.
SESAY: Yes, indeed.
VAUSE: there he go.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) Tennessee walking horse apparently.
VAUSE: Called, Sassy. SESAY: Yes.
VAUSE: OK, back to our panel now for what was the (INAUDIBLE) a moment and take away what you've been of the most from the -- you know, this (INAUDIBLE) Austin, what's that with you?
AUSTIN JAMES, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN: Yes, listen, I think as much as this suggested a (INAUDIBLE) election, it was the special election in December you had pedophilia allegations. So, it's not going to be re-created. I think, Republicans have a really hard time with white educated voters. And suburban areas we've seen over the past elections. I also think anyone who works on campaigns now has to add to the list of bedding questions, do you intend on running a horse (INAUDIBLE)?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that Donald Trump needs to be as worried about sexual violence allegations as he does Russia. I think that this tells us very clearly that the electorate matters, that this matters to be electorate is a salient issue. And this is a man who has an allegation from a 12-year-old, a 13-year-old, his ex- wife and 16 other women.
MO'KELLY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, BBC RADIO NETWORK: I think this is a good moment for the Democrats, it's generating momentum. It remains to be seen whether that moment is going to turn from momentum into a movement. The Democrats need not to overplay their position and think that this is going to write them off into the sunset into 28.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) sassy.
KELLY: I'm sorry.
SESAY: -- and the horse (INAUDIBLE)
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My take away is the candidates matter, the Republicans need the field. A bunch of people to run for office next cycle who have been vetted, who are disciplined that no more dinner theater Donald Trump's.
PHILLIPS: I'm a Donald Trump supporter.
SESAY: Yes, OK, and --
PHILLIPS: (INAUDIBLE) know, with there is the original and it works for him.
PHILLIPS: But here's a lot of copycats, there -- it's like --
SESAY: Original sexual predator is not the copycat.
VAUSE: And I turn to -- when I turn to Hillary Clinton go away, what I meant to say was she's to be keeping behavioral profile? Is she did Mohammed goodbye, you know, (INAUDIBLE) and being on this (INAUDIBLE) are being so visible of to having lost to that the election and having been so divisive, you know, in many parts of politics in this country.
PHILLIPS: Yes, Donald Trump is one really tweet away from shifting momentum away from this election back on Hillary Clinton.
[02:55:02] SESAY: So, (INAUDIBLE), quickly, who is going to be the subject of President Trump's tweet in the coming hours, John (INAUDIBLE).
PHILLIPS: I say, Bannon, it may not be on the coming hours but I think in the long term, Bannon takes the Blame.
SESAY: Austin, who will be the subject for the next tweet?
JAMES: You know, what I think he actually (INAUDIBLE) that established from Republicans.
HELDMAN: I think it's going to be Bannon. Bannon simply didn't bet this candidate well, as she, she probably stick to propaganda, bright part, Mo.
KELLY: He's just going to blame the Democrat, he's not going to go after Bannon, I think he fears Bannon, then, he can actually hurt him.
PHILLIPS: (INAUDIBLE) Hillary Clinton? Which is the Democrats. On drugs today?
PHILLIPS: And let's take him to blame. We'll show how to be -- there was blaming McConnell. So, let's the tossed up, McConnell was blamed for the primary
VAUSE: I'm telling the Bannon is going to take --
JAMES: I mean, I was (INAUDIBLE) listeners, again, all those things that make this re-election, 22,000 plus (INAUDIBLE), you know, which is shall be, that kind of (INAUDIBLE)
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE), we shall see, we shall know in the coming hours what the President tapped out on that little screen. Well, we'll be watching very closely, thank you.
SESAY: Thank you to great conversation. All right, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM LIVE from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, the news continues on CNN, right after this.