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SMERCONISH

Does Media Coverage Help Or Damage Trump?; Ingraham: 'The America We Know And Love Doesn't Exist Anymore'; Should Midterms Affect The Mueller Probe?; Interview With Former Presidential Candidate Jill Stein; Does Endless Coverage of Trump Help Or Hurt The GOP?. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 11, 2018 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:10] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States at around the world.

Should the media stop broadcasting President Trump at every rally and responding to his every tweet because it's just feeding the beast? No, keep it coming says three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman. He thinks exposing Trump's personality will discourage moderate Republicans. But how do that work in 2016?

And Fox News Host Laura Ingraham under fire for saying, America's going downhill because of immigrants. Were her comments racist or part of a larger white culture war?

Plus Ohio's special election in what's normally a deep red congressional district still too close to call, many are trying to blame this man. Green Party candidate, Joe Manchik, who says, he's descended from aliens. They think he siphoned off votes. But is that accurate or are non-voters, more at fall (ph). I'll ask another famously accused Green Party spoiler, Jill Stein, what she thinks.

But first, does the media help for or hurt President Trump by incisively covering his rallies, his tweets and all of those off the cup remarks? This debate has persisted ever since we've elected Donald Trump.

This week came an interesting counter argument however, from an unlikely source, New York Times columnist, Donald -- Thomas Friedman. And of course, this set off a new firestorm. In his piece, "Keep Up the Blanket Coverage of Trump. It Hurts Him." Friedman says quote, "It appears that it's the toxic lying, bullying, and unpresidential behaviors that Trump exhibits most in his rallies and tweets, which we in the media so incessantly cover, that is turning off the very moderate, best-educated Republicans and suburban women that Trump will need to hold the GOP majority in the House, let alone get re-elected. So bring on the coverage."

The reaction at places like Fox News was, isn't this what everyone said leading up to the 2016 election?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: What a great idea. Because remember what happened the last time the media covered every tweet, every rally, every word, and every reaction of Donald Trump? And when every wink, nudge, cough became part of the media's Snarknado (ph)? They elected Donald Trump, the bozos.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So, is it a no win situation or if you're the president, no lose. I want to know what you think. Go to my website, its smerconish.com, answer this question this hour. Does covering every one of President Trump's speeches, rallies, tweets, and utterances hurt or help the GOP and Trump's re-election.

Joining me now is Thomas Friedman who besides being the New York Times columnist also wrote the recent New York Times Bestseller, "Thank You for Being Late." Hey Tom, great to have you back. I'd be remised if I didn't say at the outset, here you are in the middle of summer, another summer of extreme weather.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Well, we can talk about that in a second, let's first all talk about this whole question of coverage of Trump. I don't know who was the moron from Fox News who made that point, that how did that work in 2016. But that's -- the question I would ask is how is it working in 2018?

You see what happened in 2016 was Donald Trump was running against Hillary Clinton. And there we know from the poll, there were a lot of moderate Democrats, suburban women, independents, they're just enough that in a choice between Trump and Hillary ready to say, really don't like Hillary. Can't vote for her, I think I'll take a chance on Trump.

What's been happening since over the last three years? Trump has been locked at 43 percent approval, 40-43 percent approval and on 50-53 disapproval. And I think of the key reasons for that and we saw it in the Alabama senatorial election. We saw it in the Pennsylvania by election. We saw it in the recent election in Ohio is that, that group of independence, moderate Republicans and others were ready to take a chance on Trump versus Hillary are no longer ready to do so because they got the proof of the last two years of his incredibly divisive and toxic behavior.

And so what do we see in Ohio? We just saw an election in a district that a Democrat has not won in over three decades. A district that Trump won by 11 percentage point, the Republican is now nearly -- barely leading over the Democrat as to close to call by less than 1 percentage point. There's one way to explain that and pollsters will tell you that as I quote as Stein Greenberg in my piece, that moderate Republicans, suburban women, independent voters are turned off by everything they see and hear Trump doing.

They see him tweeting. Calling LeBron James a dummy after LeBron James has just built a school 400 impoverished children in his home state. They see all of that and the more they see it, the more it reminds him what a despicable person this president is. And I think that's his biggest vulnerability going into the next election.

[09:05:13] SMERCONISH: So let me play devil's advocate, the polling data suggests that his standing among Republicans, I think the latest Gallup number is 89 percent approval. So where is the evidence of these moderate Republicans who are leaving, isn't instead the explanation for both the Ohio 12th or the Pennsylvania special election that there's great enthusiasm among Democrats but not that Republicans are turning their back on the president?

FRIEDMAN: I don't think so. I think the polling, I don't think you can explain that big a gap in the Ohio election, a district Michael that has not sent a Democrat to Congress in over election three decades, almost sending one now, let alone the Alabama election. I'm sure there is greater Democratic enthusiasm.

But by the way, let's say he's lost, you know, he only has 89 percent. Let's say it's 80 percent among Republicans. He just narrowly won those states. I don't expect Republicans to abandon Trump. But enough moderates, suburban women and independents just stay home Trump is not a winner in those states.

SMERCONISH: You make an observation that from the get-go, he's made no effort to reach out and to expand his base. And I think that observation is undeniable but it occurs to me, he has boxed himself in. I want to put up on the screen this reprehensible tweet about my colleague, Don Lemon. And something you also made reference to.

FRIEDMAN: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Here's what it occurs to me Tom. You know, we read that. And we find it objectionable. Guys, oh, there it is, "LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn't easy to do. I like Mike." I read that and I'm appalled by it. But it occurs to me that the people who feel those arenas for him, they probably love it and he knows their sweet spot.

FRIEDMAN: I think you're exactly right Michael. The very things that keep his 40 percent are the very things that prevent him from going to 40 to 50. And I think he has a real problem. I mean he's the first president in our lifetime who once he got in office, has made zero effort to pivot to the center.

And I think that worked when you have Hillary Clinton as your opponent because there is a lot of Republicans who found her so toxic. They were not going to vote for her. And they didn't know that much about Trump's. So they already saying, hey, he'll, of course, they'll moderate when he comes in. But he hasn't done that. We now have a proofs over the last two years. So I think that's going to be a real vulnerability of his going forward.

SMERCONISH: When I travel and people recognize me because of my association with CNN, I will often hear the comment, a criticism from Trump's detractors, they'll say, well, you guys elected him because you gave him all that attention. Thomas Friedman from the "Times" is saying, keep giving him all that attention because it will jeopardize his re-election. That's your bottom line.

FRIEDMAN: That's my belief. And again, we're seeing all these at the time you don't have a Democratic candidate to oppose him. Let's say, you have a decent Democratic candidate to oppose him. You don't have the punching bag of Hillary Clinton. I think the contrast between Trump and that candidate could be very large if he continues to go around and calling people like Don Lemon and LeBron James dummies or his daily, you know, kind of divisive and really unstable behavior.

SMERCONISH: So take my final minute and answer the lay up that I give you. This is another summer of extreme weather.

FRIEDMAN: Well, I think Michael that the sleeper issue for 2020 presidential election could in fact be that we have an election that's not about left-right, a bit about hot-cold. I think that if you look at what's going on now, the west is basically burning. The center of the country is baking. The east is flooding. You've got fires in Sweden above the Arctic Circle. You got crazy drought in Australia.

And maybe by 2020, the big question on the ballot is not who lost North Korea but who lost planet earth? And in that election, a Democratic candidate or an opponent to Trump who focuses on revitalizing, renewing, and reenergizing America around clean green power could have a lot of resonance against the president who is telling people that it's a climate change is a hoax when Death Valley just set its all time temperature record of a 127 degrees. Watch that issue. Mother Nature could be on the ballot in 2020.

SMERCONISH: It's a good prediction. Tom, thank you so much. Come back.

FRIEDMAN: Always a pressure Michael, thank you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish or go to my Facebook page, I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have Katherine?

[09:10:00] From Facebook, The more the media covers him, the more his base loves him. Even in negativity, it draws his base closer and they keep on calling you all fake news. Jeremy, that's the point I was making to Thomas Freidman, right? Because you know, Trump loves the attention.

I've often said this about the President. The only thing worse in his mind, he's probably watching right now. The only thing worst in his mind, the negative attention is no attention. He wants the attention and look, he gives good ear. He knows how to push the buttons of his base. He's at it today in Bedminster tweeting already.

Give me another one. It doesn't help the GOP at all. They have to answer the inevitable question of the most recent absurd statement. You take away covering his rallies, you take away all of his oxygen. And that's the conundrum. Does it help or hurt him?

Look, my attitude is when it's relevant and it's important stuff, you cover it, and try not to get sucked in by the ball of yarn that he throws in on a daily basis hoping that the kittens will all chase it. But it's not easily distinguishable sometimes. I want to know what you think. Go to my website, its smerconish.com. Answer this question, does covering every one President Trump's speeches, rallies, tweets, and utterances hurt or help the GOP and Trump's re-election.

Up next, Fox News host, Laura Ingraham delivered a monologue about lost American values and blamed immigrants both illegal and legal, was she expressed in nostalgia, fear or racism?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:25] SMERCONISH: Fox News anchor, Laura Ingraham, set the internet on fire this week saying that American has been radically changed by immigrants both illegal and legal. She was responding to remarks made by progressive congressional candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez regarding the countries changing demographics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And there are changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal, and in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Many on Twitter calls Ingraham's comments, racist. Media Matter said her words were quote, rip from white supremacist. Ingraham found compelled to explain herself the next night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: The purpose of last night's angle was to point out that the rule of law meaning, secured borders is something that used to bind our country together. And despite what some maybe contending, I made explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity but rather a shared goal of keeping America safe and her citizen safe and prosperous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Was she being racist or offering a cultural comment shared by a wide swath of American voters, maybe both?

Joining me now to discuss David French, a Senior Fellow for the National Review Institute and author of The Recent Peace, "The Great White Culture War." David, how did you interpret her remarks?

DAVID FRENCH, SENIOR FELLOW, NATIONAL REVIEW: I didn't interpret Laura's remarks as racist. I interpreted them as opportunist. And here's what I mean, I think there is a culture that's been cultivated in parts of the right where the goal isn't necessarily to inform so much as it is to inflame and the goal is to never back away from a fight and to never be seen politically correct.

And that is an instinct that can get you in trouble particularly when you find yourself using language that if not bordering on racist, it was certainly language that racists love and they express their love for it. And that's on her.

I think there is an argument, a very sensible argument to be had in this country about how many people should come into this country under what circumstances and whether immigration should be. For example, family based or it should be merit based, those are serious, serious arguments to have.

The problem is when you say that you're somehow fundamentally changing America and you're using the word demographics, what that is doing is it sending a message to people who pay attention to these things that there's some sort of racial mix or some sort of ethic mix that is fundamentally American and then there's a racial mix and ethic mix that is not.

And her climb down, the problem with her climb down is, it kind of insults the intelligence of the viewer because it was obvious from context, she wasn't just talking about the rule of law here. When you use the word like demographics, you're not implying anything of the rule of law. You're implying something about the mix of the country. And I think that was the real problem of the remarks.

SMERCONISH: I heard her expressing frustration at change in this country and wanting maintenance of the status quo. And as I watched it for the first time, putting aside the issue of whether her remarks were racist, I just thought she was flat out wrong because the changing demographics of this country have more to do with birthrates than they do immigration. Would you agree with that?

FRENCH: And they got a lot to do with birthrates, they've got some to do with immigration. And, you know, the changing demographics of this country, I mean, this country has had changing demographics throughout its history. But what we have had is a broad consensus around certain in specific patriotic ideas.

America is more of an ideas-based country or should be more of an ideas-based country than it is an ethnicity-based country or demographically-based country. But, you know, look, that -- the unfortunate thing is we do need to have a serious conversation about immigration.

It is not the case that there is only one sensible and only one non- racists position in the immigration debate and that only non-racists position is more immigration. That's not the case at all. We do need to have a debate around things like, should people come into this country having a certain set of skills? Should they have a certain set of language skills?

[09:20:10] We need to have those kinds of conversations. And what happens here is we're now and yet another fire storm whether the real issue with immigration restriction is whether or not they're xenophobic or racist. SMERCONISH: This topic that which she was seeking to address drove a significant part of the president's electorate in 2016. Do you agree with that?

FRENCH: I think it particularly drove a significant part of the primary electorate in 2016. I think it's the significant reason why Donald Trump was the GOP nominee. And I think with the significant reason why he's the president of the United States. He is running against Hillary Clinton. So, it is fair to say that absent the immigration issue he might not the president today. But I think it was primarily because of the primary campaign.

SMERCONISH: So in closing, tell me about this great, white culture war, it pits who against whom?

FRENCH: Yes. This is -- this is in response to the controversy you saw over Sarah Young out of the New York Times. And where there was this talk about can you be racist against white people.

And it was my colleague Reihan Salam said, well, you know, what she was imitating was a lot of language from white people. There are white people who celebrate the end of power of the white male or there are white people who are celebrating the end of the power of the white voter in this country.

And the point I was making is a lot of those same people making that argument occupy the elite levels of the Ivy League in the academy and the media. And they're not talking about celebrating or losing their power. What they're talking about is celebrating the loss of power of white Americans they don't like, because they're going to still remain on top.

And what they're really talking about is this battle between this cultural battle, between more elite progressive Americans who live on the coast who are disproportional white and more working class and Americans and religious Americans who live in the Heartland, who are also disproportional white.

And a lot of this gets this cultural battle gets racialized. When you look at it and you realize the person who's making this argument in Harvard or the person who's making this argument in Silicon Valley isn't arguing for the lost of their own status. They're going to be just fine. They're kids are going to be just fine. What they're arguing for is a political defeat of people they don't like. And it's becoming racialized.

Now, it's not the exclusive explanation for this. Race plays into this in many, many my ways for what I was saying was it's a little hard to take when a white progressive elite from the coast says, the day of the white person is over. But they're not talking about their day.

SMERCONISH: It's a provocative piece, I pinned it on my Website. David, thanks for coming back. I appreciate it.

FRENCH: Thanks so much for having me. SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're seeing on my Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have? Smerconish, Ingraham needs to be stifled. She is hoping for an all white America. I like diversity of my country. Look, awkward, I think would be kind as a descriptor for her remarks. I think she was speaking all about demographics.

But those so unsettled about the changing face of America like Laura Ingraham clearly I think are misdirected in looking at immigration because there's much more going on that is causing exactly the changes that apparently have her so unsettled.

Still to come, this week, Rudy Giuliani seemed to admit that negotiation with Robert Mueller is intended to delay. And he seat down with the president so as to get pass the midterms. But will Mueller avoid making James Comey's mistake and the instead ignore the political calendar.

[09:23:52] And the Green Party candidate in Ohio is too close call congressional says he's from another planet, many accusing him of siphoning off crucial votes. Where we heard that argument before?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: With less than 90 days until the midterms, two questions loomed over the Mueller probe. Will he make any significant move in the run up to the election and should his thought process take account of the election time line?

Mueller is widely expected to give Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein two reports at some point. One on the issue of obstruction of justice, the other on the issue of conspiracy or collusion not acting close to an election is a Justice Department Protocol to avoid any appearance of political motivation.

Then, Attorney General Eric Holder laid it out in the 2012 memo. And the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been hammering hard on the idea that Mueller has to wrap up his findings by Labor Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDI GIULIANI, LAWYER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that, this should be over with by September 1st.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Yet, Giuliani, clearly is behaving politically bragging about why is he is dragging out the negotiations of the president's interview with Mueller. Here's what he told CNN this week.

When I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would be the right legal strategy but then hurt politically. Now, I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it. And the president needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they're energized. Nothing would energize Republicans more than let's say the president.

So, the political ramifications are transparently there for the president's team. But what if you are Robert Mueller? Remember, thinking about political ramifications is what got FBI Director James Comey in trouble.

In the summer before the 2016 election, Comey held that press conference to criticize Hillary Clinton's handling of her e-mail but he didn't bring charges. The he brought up the Anthony Weiner laptop e-mails within weeks of the election with they're prove to be a non- starter.

[09:30:09]

And why did he do that? Because presumably he thought she was going to win and he didn't want to look like he had taken a dive for the future president.

The I.G. report would later fault Comey for making a serious error of judgment. So if thinking about the ramifications of an election, instead of just doing his job is what got Comey in trouble, what should Mueller do publicly in the weeks ahead?

Joining me is Scott Fredericksen, a former federal prosecutor, an independent counsel, currently the senior white collar criminal defense partner in the D.C. office of Foley and Lardner. Counselor, let's put that memo from 2012 on the screen from Eric Holder and parse it.

He says in part, "Simply put, politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting an election."

It sounds to me like you should never do something affirmative but should you avoid something you would normally do in the conduct of your business?

SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think you are reading the Holder memorandum correctly.

It does guide prosecutors including here, Mueller, not to take any action with the direct intention or impact on the political process. But, that doesn't mean he stops work on his investigation. It just means that he has to be careful in any actions he takes that it does not have a direct impact on the election.

He'll continue with his investigation. I think Mr. Giuliani is dreaming if he thinks that report is going to be done and provided before September 1.

On the other hand I don't think you'll see the report coming from Mueller during the period after Labor Day as you get closer to the election. But remember, Mueller has a trial coming up in September of Mr. Manafort here in Washington, D.C. He has subpoenaed individuals to the grand jury. He's still obviously actively involved in the investigation. None of that has to stop and he won't stop doing any of that.

But I think with respect to the report and if he envisions any charges that come close to Mr. Trump or his close associates or family, that's the kind of thing that I think he'll avoid as we get closer to the November elections.

SMERCONISH: OK. What if he concludes that Rudy Giuliani is stone walling him right now and that the negotiations continue for a few more weeks, all of a sudden it is October. Can Robert Mueller drop a subpoena on the president in October or will he be precluded from doing so by virtue of this protocol.

FREDERICKSEN: Well, the protocol is not something that would preclude him. There are situations where he can subpoena someone.

I think subpoenaing the president close to the election is an action that I think he would be reluctant to take and only if he's forced to do so. Now look I don't think there is any question that Giuliani is stone walling and trying to play this out to avoid an interview the president. There is no way he wants the president to be interviewed and so you hear things like perjury trap and such like that.

And that's obviously not what Mueller is going to engage in. Perjury trap is a form of prosecutorial misconduct. And on top of that, you know, Mueller if any prosecutors were to bring a case that was based on a perjury trap it would be thrown out of a federal court by a judge in a heartbeat. That's not what special counsels do.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Fredericksen, Donald Trump's name is not on the ballot in the midterm election. Why isn't the lesson from James Comey's -- I'll say, debacle, because I think it was a debacle for him to stand up and hammer Hillary without bringing charges. That's something a prosecutor does when they're bringing charges. But why isn't the lesson from Comey, just do your job, put on blinders and ignore the election time line?

FREDERICKSEN: Well, I think that's what every prosecutor would like to do but here you have a situation where it is the president who is at the heart of this investigation. And, Mueller will do his job. Mueller will put his blinders on and do everything except when it comes to something that could directly impact the elections.

The Comey press conferences that he held there, I mean, that's exhibit A of what you don't do. And Mueller is not going to take any action that -- for which he could be accused of throwing the election to the Democrats or the Republicans. So I think when it comes to something close to Trump, when it comes to the report, I don't think we're going to see that running up close to the elections.

[09:35:00]

SMERCONISH: My -- my final comment, I worry that this investigation is going to continue through the election and I am not talking about 2018. I am talking about 2020. I really appreciate your counsel, thank you for being here.

FREDERICKSEN: Of course.

SMERCONISH: I want to remind you to answer the survey question @smerconish.com.

Does covering every one of the president's speeches, and rallies, and tweets, and utterances, does that hurt or help the GOP and presidents reelection?

Up next, why are so many angry at this man? He's the Green Party candidate in Ohio's too close to call congressional race. He says that his ancestors came from another planet.

Many accused him of siphoning off crucial votes. Are they right?

I will ask a Green Party candidate who still has some angry of her 2016 presidential bid, Dr. Jill Stein is here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:42]

SMERCONISH: Did long shot candidates just upend two more elections? But first look at the special election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District this week. It's usually deep red.

The difference between the front runner, Republican Troy Balderson, and the Democrat Danny O'Connor 1,564. And O'Connor hasn't yet conceded. The Green Party candidate Joe Manchik at last count had 1,129. The eccentric Manchick turns out to put another spin on the word green as many were quick to point out. He once wrote that he descents from a planet orbiting a star in the Pleiades star cluster and says he speaks 19 languages including Spanglish and sheet music.

Manchik was roundly attack on Twitter as spoiling the Democrat's hopes even though there's no proof that his voters would have otherwise voted of O'Connor. Then there's the Kansas gubernatorial primary. The spread between secretary of state Kris Kobach and current acting governor Jeff Colyer is around 100 votes.

But several other candidates also amass votes including 17-year-old Tyler Ruzich, who ended up getting over 2,000 votes. You'll remember that last week we had Ruzich here as well as 17-year-old Democrat Ryan Bergeson who ended up with 2.5 percent of his party's votes

But is it fair to blame long shot candidates and those who voted for them in close elections or those who did not vote at all? That question was just answered with regard to the 2016 presidential election by the folks at the Pew Research Center.

As "The Washington Post's" Philip Bump summarized, "New data makes it clear, nonvoters handed Trump the presidency." Thirty percent of Americans who were eligible to vote decided not to, a high percentage than those who voted for either Trump or Clinton. Demographic groups that preferred Trump were three times as likely to be a bigger part of the voter pool than nonvoters.

Among groups that preferred Clinton, they were about 50 percent more likely to be a bigger part of the nonvoting community. Joining me now to discuss, somebody with the unique perspective on this 2016 Green presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Dr. Stein, did you and Gary Johnson elect Donald Trump?

JILL STEIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely not. And in fact if you assume that my vote belonged to Hillary then you have to assume that Gary Johnson's vote belonged to Trump. And you put those two together and it actually delivers the -- it delivers more support to Trump than Gary Johnson delivers more to Trump than my vote allegedly hurt Clinton.

The point I am making here is that voters deserve to actually vote for who they want and who they support. We know from another Pew study in fact that most people who voted for Trump were not actually for him. They were voting against Hillary Clinton as their main motivator.

The point here is not whether we blame independent voters or blame people who stay home. The here blame belongs to a two-party system which is essentially out of step with the majority voters. We know in fact 60 percent of voters are clamoring for a new independent party that will not throw them, they will provide healthcare and education, and that will deliver a climate that we can live in for the future.

The win-win here is not rocket science. There is a small simple voting reform that actually changes the way our votes are accounted. It's called ranked choice voting. It was just passed by the state of Maine, used in the primary. They had a bigger turn out than ever.

And it makes the point that people don't show up to vote or they don't vote for the establishment candidates because they are not speaking to their needs. We deserve a voting system that actually lets us vote for who we want instead of against who we most hate.

SMERCONISH: OK. So, I agree with you.

I would love to see ranked choice voting across the country. I don't like the status quo. And I don't want just two choices.

[09:45:02]

I don't think that voters -- and Dr. Stein, I fight this battle every week on my "SiriusXM" radio program because many disagree with me. But I -- I don't want voters doing a calculus. I do not want voters doing a calculus as to, well, I like this candidate but can she win or can he win?

Because a stronger showing by a Jill Stein or a Gary Johnson or whoever it might be sets the table for the next election. And we need to break out of this spy role where we only have two choices but we'll never get there if people are always doing that type of calculus.

STEIN: Exactly. And what the recent Pew study showed, the one you mentioned that was reviewed in "The Washington Post," it shows that the people who are staying at home which as you pointed out is the largest plurality of voters and the Pew study actually says that's 40 percent, not 30 percent, but 40 percent of eligible voters are not voting.

And those voters are predominantly those who are being really hurt by the system, that is millennials. Young people who are inheriting this world that's going up in flames that cannot provide a stable climate that will provide food and an economy that we can live with.

It is people of color who are being most hurt economically and it's people within average income of $30,000 which is, you know, barely poverty. So if the people who are being most impacted by this failing two-party system, don't have a choice that will bring them out to vote, we are never going to fix it and then democracy is in real trouble.

So those who think that they are benefiting democracy by vilifying independent voters or independent candidates, they have it exactly backwards. It is that authoritarian that essentially represses opposition candidates and voter choice, but it's voter choice that should be available to us can be available to us and if ranked choice voting got more coverage, it would be implemented in a blink of an eye because voters like it --

SMERCONISH: Well --

STEIN: -- candidates like it. It brings out more people to vote. It's a win-win for everyone. And it ensures that whoever gets elected actually has majority support. It's not just the person who gets first past the post.

SMERCONISH: I have only 30 seconds left but I want to say this. I know how this Pew data will be regarded by the parties.

Republicans will continue to object to any effort that increases ballot access because they'll look at the data and they'll say, hey, if we bring more people out to vote, we're going to jeopardize our own standing. You get the quick final word.

STEIN: That's right. And, you know, for the same reason Democrats have also refused to advance ranked choice voting. But that's why it is up to us.

You know, democracy at the end of the day is we who need healthcare, we who need jobs and living wages and to get out of students debt. There are real solutions here that make sense, that save money that are good for the people in the planet. It's up to us to reassert our democracy and that can start with a simple ranked choice voting in your state.

It can be implemented by legislatures or by voter referendum. We can open up our voting system and start to take it back.

SMERCONISH: Yes, I am for that and I'm for voting by mail so as to boost turn out. Thank you Dr. Stein. I appreciate you being here.

STEIN: Good to talk to you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments like this -- what do we have? "Third party is hardly the problem. It may be the solution."

Yes, Rick, and, Rick, bemoan to your neighbors who did not vote, not to those who voted third party.

One more if we have time. We don't have another one for now.

All right. We'll give you the results in just a moment of the survey question. This is a beauty. Does covering every one of President Trump's speeches, rallies, tweets, and utterances help or hurt the GOP and president's re-election? In just a moment.

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[09:53:36]

SMERCONISH: All right. Let's do it.

Time to see how you responded to the survey question @smerconish.com. I love this one. And I don't know how it is going to turn out.

Does covering every one of President Trump's speeches, and rallies, and tweets, and utterances hurt or help the GOP and Trump's re- election? Survey. Whoa. Whoa daddy -- 8,289 and we have a deadlock. A 50/50 deadlock.

You know, I'm not surprised. I think it -- it can so easily be argued either way. I'm going to leave it up for the rest of the day. So you can continue to vote @smerconish.com.

Let's see what came in during the course of the program in reaction to what we had going on.

"Smerconish, since Trump thrives on attention, if media quits paying attention to him, he will wither on the vine." Skip, I said myself that, you know, he wants the attention. What's worse than -- what's worse than bad attention is no attention. So maybe you have a point.

What else do we have? 50/50 deadlock. "If Republicans were prepared to vote for Trump the first time even after seeing his disgusting attacks on women, disabled, Gold Star families, McCain, they will not be put off by anything he does right now."

Annie P, his standing according to Gallup right now approval rating among Republicans, I think, it's at 89 percent, 89 percent are digging it.

[09:55:01]

One more if I have time. What do we have? I'm told that we had many, many who come in on this subject. Wow. Really?

I mean, yes, I guess. The glasses, the beard, the hairline, the white shirt, the blue sport coat.

(LAUGHTER)

And the red tie. Yes. I see it. All we need -- all we need, Catherine (ph), is the -- is the same headline.

Gang, thank you for watching. Here's some of -- you can catch up on anytime at CNNgo and "On-Demand." I'm off next week. I'll see you in two weeks.

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