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Pence: China is Meddling in America's Democracy; Trump Heads to Minnesota to Campaign in Crucial Swing District; Now: Senators Reviewing FBI Report on Kavanaugh; Liberal Women Ready to Vote. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 4, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


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[10:31:09]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, very soon, the vice president will deliver a scathing speech on China. The message, in his words, we will not be intimidated, we will not stand down.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The warning comes days after a Chinese war ship nearly collided, this is the picture here with a U.S. Navy destroyer this in South China Sea. The U.S. Navy confirmed these aerial photos obtained by CNN for blog site show just how close that encounter was.

Barbara Starr, Will Ripley joining us now.

Barbara, the U.S. is now proposing a global show of force to China. I'm just curious because the U.S. has conducted this freedom of navigation operations for a number of years. They've conducted military exercises close to China's doorstep for a number of years. What's substantively different about what they're proposing to do now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What the navy is looking at, Jim and Poppy, is the idea of doing a very focused series of these operations, actually doing a number of them all during possibly one week in November, next month. This is a signal they want to send to China. If this idea is approved by the Pentagon leadership, it would send, they think, the signal to China, once again, that the U.S. military is prepared to show the Chinese and even the Russians that they can sail ships, fly aircraft, wherever they wish in international waters, in international air space. The Chinese military making the point that it has control in its view of an increasing amount of these islands in the South China Sea. That it's trying to restrict international movement, the U.S. military pushing back.

The real implication here is this very issue of freedom of movement, in areas like Asia, an economic powerhouse, what the U.S. does not want to do is be restricted about where it can sail ships, where it can fly its aircraft, but those photos show you how dangerous these missions can be when both sides have the real potential to miscalculate things like how close they may really be.

HARLOW: Yes. Even that image really does say it all. And Will, to you, we're getting some of the excerpts from the vice president's speech that he's going to give in about an hour. Let me read part of it. He says what the Russians are doing, he points to Russia, sort of echoing the president, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across the country. Wow. Explain what he means by that.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he's talking about accusations of Chinese election meddling, whether it be targeting tariffs, specifically at red states, at industries that tend to be heavy in Trump voters, who tried to turn those voters against the president, or even more sophisticated than that. Accusations that China is trying to sow division between local officials and federal officials, you know, at all levels of the United States. It's really extraordinary how the Trump administration seems now so focused on election meddling if China is the alleged culprit here, even going so far as to say China wants a different president.

Jim mentioned earlier how the Chinese don't like to be pushed around.

HARLOW: Right.

RIPLEY: And that really struck me. They're also very sensitive to any perception of someone trying to subvert them. And I will say, there is a growing sense among Xi Jinping's government that President Trump and his administration is trying to contain the rise of China through the trade war, and this speech will certainly be perceived, these accusations of election meddling, will also certainly be perceived as you know furthering that effort, which is going to raise China's suspicion and certainly lower their inclination to work with the U.S. on any of these issues, whether it be geopolitical or trade or military.

HARLOW: Yes, very good point. And what does it all mean when it comes to North Korea as well and complicating that?

SCIUTTO: What you hear there so often, Will knows this as well as anybody. This is our time, right? You'll hear that from Chinese leaders. You hear that from the Chinese, this is their time to rise. So they will definitely push back at anyone they believe is trying to contain them.

[10:35:00] HARLOW: No question. Thank you for the great reporting, you guys, Barbara Starr, Will Ripley for us.

Ahead, the president campaigning in Minnesota, a crucial swing district is where he'll visit, but can he flip the state come 2020? He thinks so. That's next.

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SCIUTTO: President Trump is heading back to Minnesota today to campaign for Republican Jim Hagedorn in that state's first congressional district. Democrats have traditionally controlled that district, but President Trump won it by 14 points in 2016, even though he lost the state overall.

HARLOW: The stakes incredibly high. There's a lot of open seats across Minnesota. Both Senate seats, a number of adorn in that state's first congressional district. Democrats have traditionally controlled that district, but President Trump won it by 14 points in 2016. Even though he lost the state overall.

[10:40:04] HARLOW: The stakes incredibly high. There's a lot of open seats across Minnesota. Both Senate seats, you got a number of House seats.

Let's bring in Harry Enten, our super political analyst and also forecaster. Obviously, I'm fascinated by Minnesota because I'm from Minnesota, but it is politically, you've got such an engaged electorate, and the president said, you know, earlier this year when he was in Duluth, he said, we came this close to winning the state of Minnesota, and I think we can do it. We need one more visit, one more speech. Can he do it?

HARRY ENTEN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I think in the first district, he definitely could do it. In fact, on the House map overall, we're looking at major Democratic gains, most likely, but if Republicans are going to pick up any seats, it's probably in Minnesota. The first district and the eighth district are prime pickup opportunities for them. I should say, state-wide, they'll I think Democrats will more than hold their ground.

SCIUTTO: OK. So, you look at this Senate race, one of the many key Senate races that goes to control of the Senate, North Dakota, new polling out from Fox News shows Heidi Heitkamp's Republican challenger up 12 points, that's quite a lead, 33 days to the election.

ENTEN: That's a big league lead, the president might say. And that is just the latest poll from that race that has Kramer ahead. Heitkamp has not led in a single poll all year, at least a single high quality poll all year. And if Democrats cannot hold their ground in North Dakota, it makes getting the net gain of two that they need nationally to take control, very difficult.

HARLOW: Can we talk about how Kavanaugh factors into that because that's what's really fascinating. That poll that Jim just referenced, you dig a little deeper into it and it shows 34 percent of likely voters in North Dakota said they would be less likely to vote for Heidi Heitkamp should she be a no vote on Kavanaugh. And we know she has not said which way she'll vote. 17 percent only said they would be more likely to vote for her should she be a no vote on Kavanaugh. How does he complicate this for her?

ENTEN: I mean, look, North Dakota is a very red state. Donald Trump won it by over 30 percentage points. It's not surprising that they're behind, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Heidi Heitkamp has a decision to make. I'm not necessarily sure that voting for Kavanaugh will help her all that much, especially being down double digits. If I were advising her, I would say vote the way you were going to vote no matter what. Because look, if you're down 12, maybe if you vote for the president's nominee, you pick up a few points, but that with the 12 point deficit, she's just so far behind, I'm just not sure it will make that big of a difference. SCIUTTO: Big question again, I'm asking you this almost every day because it's key. Both sides claim that the Kavanaugh vote is mobilizing for their voters. Democrats say women are going to come out in numbers because they feel offended, silenced. Republicans say they feel Kavanaugh has been treated unfairly. I know it's too early to give a definitive answer to that, but smart people have told me that the loser typically is more energized, right? If Democrats, if he's confirmed, they're going to be more mobilized. If he's not, Republicans will be. Is there a data that shows that?

ENTEN: I mean that would not surprise me. I would say, so far what we've been seeing is the way I measure enthusiasm is the difference between registered voters and likely voters. Is that gap getting wider? What we're seeing is it's not in fact. The people who -- the same exact people who said they were likely voters before, percentage Republican and percentage Democrat, are the same as was as it is now.

So I'm just not seeing that right now. I will say though in the polling that is interesting is there does seem to be persuasion, more people saying that they're going to vote for Republican candidates versus a few weeks ago.

HARLOW: Manchin was Virginia has a big decision to make on Kavanaugh.

ENTEN: Yes. He definitely does. He's obviously the other big swing vote, right now very different situation than Heitkamp, right? Heitkamp is behind by double digits. Manchin is actually ahead by high single digits. My guess is based upon the reporting and based upon his voting patterns, he will probably vote to confirm Kavanaugh. There's just no reason for him to rock the boat in that state, if you're up by high single digit in a state that Donald Trump won by about 40 percentage points, why rock the boat?

SCIUTTO: We know you're going to keep watching it. You know on turnout it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world whose high turnout votes --

HARLOW: Great for Democracy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Criticism has been midterm elections now not enough people vote.

ENTEN: I concur.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Harry Enten thanks very much.

They're almost 4,000 strong, enough to flip a red county blue. Why these liberal women are angry, engaged, and ready to vote.

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[10:48:35] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. A show of political force in Virginia as some liberal women there say, the blue wave is already here. They're fueled by the Supreme Court hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations against him from Professor Christine Blasey Ford. These women say they're ready to take action and take it to the polls next month.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Bill Weir sat down with them, talked about their plans. He's with us now. I mean heck of an origins story as well.

BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, one woman, self- described drunk and angry on election night, drowning her sorrows. But then in the harsh light of hangover day, the days after, she saw motivation. She reached out to other women. We obviously saw the big marches that took place, but they have taken that to a new level of activism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you?

WEIR (voice-over): Heads up, Virginia lovers. If you get a knock in the next few weeks before the midterm elections, there's a pretty good chance you'll meet the liberal women of Chesterfield County and beyond.

WEIR (on camera): How many of you were politically active before?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't even like politics.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is this going to end?

WEIR (voice-over): Proudly branding herself liberal is a bold move around these parts, but a mom named Kim found that you tend to get bold when you get mad.

Tell me the origins story of the liberal women of Chesterfield.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was drunk and angry.

(LAUGHTER)

WEIR (on camera): So many great ideas start that way.

WEIR (voice-over): A few days into Donald Trump's presidency, she poured some wine, opened Facebook, and called out to other women, angry, frightened, and saddened by the election.

[10:50:07] She expected to meet a few, but they would come out by the thousands. They're for sisterhood, which spread across this county and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're neighbors and we never would have thought our neighborhood would be as liberal as it is. WEIR: Interesting. A lot of you came out of the closet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did you get home, I don't remember.

How did you get there? I don't remember.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR (voice-over): Their bonfire of anger is fueled by the words and deeds of Donald Trump. A renewable resource.

CHRISTY BURTON OMARZAI, LIBERAL WOMEN OF CHESTERFIELD COUNTY: I want to say to my kids, be like the president, look up to the president. Follow the steps the president took, talk like the president, a role model. And with Trump, I can't say that to my kids.

WEIR (on camera): Do you think Kavanaugh will get confirmed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm terrified of it, but I think there's a high likelihood.

WEIR (voice-over): But in almost two years, they say they have organized their anger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The main thing is to hit as many doors as you can.

WEIR: Into dozens of chapters, teaching each other to become civics ninjas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: College kids can vote absentee.

WEIR: They help make a doctor named Ralph Northam governor, the first Democrat to win Chesterfield in a generation, and now they want to help a former CIA Officer Abigail Spanberger. Beat a man who rode a power on Republican anger. And they won't leave him alone.

Came in on a tea party wave, Dave Brat, who famously said these women are in my grill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was us.

WEIR: That was you? You were the women in his grill? Which one is yours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He might score.

WEIR: He might score. Are you kidding?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pass it. I used to feel like it was somebody else's job, and it was really a wake-up call that, you know, this is a government that's based on citizens.

WEIR: We the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And if you lose that, then, you know, you get what you get. And you don't throw a fit.

WEIR: But life does not pause for politics. And just as her group was exploding, Kim's daughter was hospitalized. And she discovered she has breast cancer. I remember a few cycles ago, the soccer mom was this formidable political symbol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a soccer mom, literally.

WEIR: A soccer mom going through chemotherapy, which takes it to a whole different level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, OK, so -- I'm going to cry.

WEIR: That's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, when you get ill, you think about what's really important to you. And you take stock. You know? And I could have very easily said, well, oh, politics don't matter, but the fact is they do matter.

WEIR: So each day, she puts on the wig and converts fear and anger into action. And she takes her wins. One knock at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought I was only Democrat in my neighborhood. For real, think about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll think about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Wow.

ENTEN: Regardless of your politics, that's what civic engagement looks like. That's what being an active participant in Democracy looks like. And she realized that you can't just show up every four years, cast a ballot, and say you're done. It takes running for the city council or the school board.

SCIUTTO: Or canvassing for those positions at every level of government. Her line in there caught both of our attention. That I didn't think it was my job. Democracy in fact, it's all of our jobs.

WEIR: Right. If that's any indication, they're already duplicating what they learned, sharing it with women in other red counties hoping to flip those districts. Who knows?

HARLOW: And you heard that woman at the end there, I'll think about it. I'll think about it. That's all they're asking, right? Think about it.

WEIR: She was asking just to put a yard sign in.

HARLOW: There you go.

WEIR: If you do that, you'll meet neighbors like folks you didn't know yet.

HARLOW: Thank you.

WEIR: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Drunk and angry. A lot came out of it.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: Appreciate it, bill.

All right, up next, an important and rare display of unity on Capitol Hill. A battle they're all fighting together on opioids, next.

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[10:58:19] SCIUTTO: These are live pictures from Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats about to hold a press conference, their reaction to that new supplemental FBI investigation. We know that Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have now reviewed it. We've already heard from Republicans in the White House -

HARLOW: Like Grassley.

SCIUTTO: -- they saw nothing new in there. I imagine the Democrats are going to have a different view.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: On another story we have been covering, lawmakers have set aside their differences to fight another battle, this one against opioids. In a rare form of unity, the Senate almost unanimously agreed to new legislation focusing on prevention, treatment, and recovery related to opioid addiction, a national crisis.

HARLOW: Yes. Look, they all came together because this is a sweeping piece of legislation. And it includes promoting research to find new pain management options. You know, that's why a lot of people get addicted to these, is pills prescribed by their doctor. The president praised Congress for this, for what he called an extraordinary bipartisan effort. The bill will now go to his desk. He is expected to sign it, and the CDC remembers -- estimates 72,000 Americans died from drug overdosed last year, the bulk of those from opioid overdoses. We'll keep an eye on this.

SCIUTTO: It's a story that both Poppy and I care a lot about because it's a national crisis.

HARLOW: It hits everyone, every neighborhood, every community. SCIUTTO: Every socioeconomic level and it's something that's good to see that you have agreement, rare agreement on the Hill in addressing this.

HARLOW: And let us know your stories. What has this meant to your family? How have you coped with this? We'll continue to stand on top of this.

Thanks for being with us, a lot of news today, a lot of news tomorrow. We'll see you in D.C. tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.