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INSIDE POLITICS

Kavanaugh Sworn in After 50-48 Senate Confirmation Vote; Trump Takes A Kavanaugh Victory Lap; Democrats Fear Kavanaugh Vote Could Hurt Senate Prospects; Democrats Line Up to Challenge Trump in 2020. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 7, 2018 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:00:16] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): A historic moment.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ayes are 50. The nays are 48. The nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh is confirmed.

HENDERSON: Kavanaugh wins confirmation and Democrats promise the GOP will pay.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: November is coming!

PROTESTERS: November is coming!

HENDERSON: Plus, President Trump takes a victory lap with 30 days until the midterms.

DONALD TRUMP, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under Republican leadership, America is booming, America is thriving, America is winning.

HENDERSON: And the calendar might read 2018, but for dozens of Democrats, 2020 is here.

INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. John King is off today. Thanks for joining us.

A conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, that is the new reality this morning. Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Kavanaugh after a long and bitterly partisan confirmation fight and a week long pause for an FBI probe. He's swearing in a capstone for Republicans in an unquestioned victory for the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is a historic --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation, our people our beloved Constitution.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh the United States Supreme Court.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: The Saturday vote was close but never really in doubt. The drama came from the Senate gallery and protesters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: The clerk will call the roll.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Alexander?

(INAUDIBLE)

PENCE: The sergeant-at-arms will restore order in the gallery.

(INAUDIBLE)

PENCE: The sergeant-at-arms will restore order in the gallery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Their despair equaled by the Republican celebration, and we saw the normally reserved Republican majority leader relishing in a legacy-defining moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I always thought landslides were kind of boring anyway. This is a good day for America and an important day for the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: McConnell says the mob lost and fairness won out.

But Democrats, they say that Kavanaugh is a permanent stain on the court and the process tore an already divided Washington even further apart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: From start-to- finish, President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court has been one of the saddest moments in the history of the Senate. This chapter will be a flashing red warning light of what to avoid. Truly, Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation is a low moment for the Senate, for the court, for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: With us to share their reporting and their insights, we've got Jackie Kucinich from "The Daily Beast", "Bloomberg's" Sahil Kapur, Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times", and CNN's Kaitlin Collins.

What a week we've seen, really what three weeks we've seen. And if you think about all of the twists and turns of the confirmation hearings, you saw obviously Judge Kavanaugh testify, you saw Blasey Ford testify. But in some ways, Kaitlan a lot of this seemed inevitable, right? I mean, the conventional wisdom always was that he'd likely get confirmed.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That was and it seemed like he was going to be confirmed. He was on fast track, and it seemed and everyone kept saying you know unless something really insane happens, he is on the fast track to be confirmed. And then something really insane happened and is completely upended Washington for the last few weeks.

But it was so interesting because then on Thursday or on Friday when Susan Collins was giving her speech and she was back there, and when she started speaking, you know, for the first or minutes it was a speech she could have given if none of the allegations had happened, if Christine Blasey Ford had not come forward or the other two accusers of sexual misconduct. And it was just fascinating to see how that critical vote who got him confirmed to the Supreme Court essentially made her argument but it had very little to do with the allegations against him. That was kind of the closing part of her speech.

HENDERSON: And here is what we heard. There were a lot of folks we were looking at -- Susan Collins as you said.

[08:05:00] And here's what they had to say in terms of their reasoning for their final votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do not believe that these charges can barely prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I believe Dr. Ford, something happened to Dr. Ford. I don't believe that the facts showed that it was Brett Kavanaugh, but I believe something happened.

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I can't get up in the morning and look at the life experience that I've had and say yes to Judge Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HENDERSON: Sahil, talk about the big five and how they made their decisions there, particularly the ones that switch parties. We saw that with Murkowski as well as Manchin.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Right. Well, Murkowski's reasoning was very interesting. She brought up the point that whether, you know, whether or not you believe Brett Kavanaugh on this, his behavior at the hearing she said doesn't rise to her high standard what a judge should -- how a judge should behave. She talked about the need for faith and public confidence in the judiciary, in the Supreme Court. She talked about the need for an impartial and nonpartisan judge.

The appearance of his behavior I think raised a lot of questions about that and I think in the midst of FBI investigation, some of that was papered over. Big picture though, progressives have lost the Supreme Court for a generation. The 5-4 conservative majority cases have that have been locked in or issues of campaign finance, gun rights, religious rights, voting rights, the interests of employers. Five to four liberal issues that are now in danger include abortion, gay rights, affirmative action and the death penalty, the consequences of this ruling are for decades to come.

HENDERSON: And some consequences for the folks who made their decisions, we had Palin for instance tweet that she can see 2022 from her house, meaning she might run against Murkowski and the news had some Democratic groups pull money from Manchin, who of course voted to confirm Kavanaugh.

What do you think, Lisa, in terms of where the Democrats go from here? This was a big loss for them. A lot of energy out there expended around it.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I mean I think it's really hard to say where what the implications are for the midterms but I do think that there's very little question this is injected a shot of energy into the Democratic grassroots. I'm not sure that they can get more energized than they were before. But if they can --

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: -- this will do it.

I mean, it's striking because what we thought twenty days ago, we thought Kavanaugh would be confirmed and that's how this all played out. But now, 20 days later, we're in a spot where everyone just feels a lot more angry, ranker is higher.

It's not -- you know, I didn't think it could get higher but it definitely is, it feels like there's some weaknesses in the Senate that this was a fight that was damaging for a lot of those traditions, and there could -- it could be damaging for the court going forward.

I think Justice Roberts has a lot that he's going to have to deal to restore trust in that institution. HENDERSON: And we saw Elena Kagan talking about this in her fear for

the court. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Starting with Justice O'Connor and continuing with Justice Kennedy, there has been a person who people who -- people found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way and that's enabled the court to look as though it was not owned by one side or another, and was indeed impartial.

That sort of middle position, you know, it's not so clear whether we'll have it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And some people, Jackie, saying that maybe Chief Justice Roberts would take that role as being the sort of swing voter there on the independent voice because he particularly is concerned about the reputation of the court.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, he -- he was the key vote on health care and enraged a lot of conservatives were being that key vote on health care. But I think what we're seeing is sort of the Trumpification of all of our institutions right now -- the smash mouth, bare-knuckle, hold -- no holds barred fighting that we're seeing even, you know, permeating the United States Senate which I know probably out there you don't know, that it usually it's usually an institution, it's not the House. The House is sort of where there is trouble swollen and they really hate each other.

In the Senate, they really do sort of -- there's been a tradition to sort of lay down arms and just get stuff done.

HENDERSON: Cooler heads usually prevail.

KUCINICH: Yes, the deep cooling saucer if you will.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: So, to see sort of that kind of rage permeate that body for those of us who have covered Congress and have been watching Congress. It is very striking on how this went down.

KAPUR: And that's going to be the role of Chief Justice Roberts to play that cooling saucer extent possible. I mean, there's no swing vote anymore. These are five solid conservatives.

You can even argue that Anthony Kennedy wasn't that much of a swing vote. He had some quirky views that that leaned left, but he was very conservative on a lot of issues.

HENDERSON: And particularly we saw that in his last year. KAPUR: Exactly, he didn't side with the left on any of the cases. People can reasonably argue that Sandra Day O'Connor was the last swing vote because she tried to find a middle ground. Now, Chief Justice Roberts finds himself in the position where he's going to have to try to cool the passions of the five-member conservative majority.

[08:10:03] HENDERSON: And the issues at some point are going to come before the Supreme Court. You mentioned them. They could move right on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, presidential power, Obamacare and, of course, environmental regulations, campaign finance, all of those issues, really culturally divisive issues, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: But even besides just those issues in just the Supreme Court we are in unchartered territory and we're not going back to where we were three weeks ago before all of these allegations came out. It's not just questions about the Supreme Court and whether or not it's still going to be an impartial institution, but also about the Senate judiciary committee and there's a no sense of bipartisanship whatsoever.

There are public doubts about the #MeToo movement now. All this anger, both sides are angry. That's like a such a great point because it's not just the Democrats and the liberals and the Kavanaugh critics, the White House and conservatives are also enraged over this and also think that they've got a shot of energy because of what's happened over the last weeks.

KUCINICH: But the question is, will that sustained itself for --

COLLINS: For a month.

KUCINICH: Yes, which is an open-ocean, we don't know.

LERER: It's a lifetime in this political. A month is like, I don't know 10,000 news cycles, I lost track.

HENDERSON: But this bitter partisan divided, I mean, you have some people comparing it to the run-up to the civil war and the sort of challenges in the night, in the 1960s with civil rights, on the Vietnam War. What do you make of this, Lisa, this period where --

LERER: Well, I think that's the very fashionable comparison right now.

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: I mean, I think of really significant differences we have a president right now who thrives on this kind of anger, who stokes this kind of anger and sees it as we're hearing.

HENDERSON: Yes, that's what we saw.

LERER: For -- is very good for his political fortunes.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: -- doesn't minimize the protests --

HERERA: And you also hear them talking about this idea of a mob rule, right? You heard this from Grassley, you heard this from a number of people on the Senate floor and also the president.

KUCINICH: Yes, but one person's mob is another person's protesters, right? I mean, we heard this during -- you've heard a lot of this during the Tea Party. Democrats really calling them Astroturf, saying that they were fake, saying that they were just this angry mob.

I don't know if they use that verbiage but that definitely was out there at that time.

(CROSSTALK)

LERER: I think it's a institutional point though that really matters, right?

HENDERSON: The weakness of these institutions.

LERER: Voters, they're always riled up, sometimes more than others. But that's sort of the job of citizens and loyal voters, and it is the job of the Senate traditionally and the courts to sort of be the cooler heads to calm that down and this really broke down a lot of those traditions.

I mean, we've never had a Supreme Court nominee who's done televised interviews, who's gotten up and spoken openly in a partisan terms.

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: Who's written op-eds than defending the way he approached -- I mean, this is -- we are breaking new ground with how this country handles these confirmation hearings. And I really do think Justice Roberts is in the tough spot there's some talk about whether Kavanaugh will recuse himself from certain cases, that people have told me that seems kind of, you know, legal experts people like that have said they think that's rather unlikely.

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: But there some -- there has -- something has to be done to sort of calm things down, it feels like. And it's just really unclear who's going to do that.

HENDERSON: Yes, we'll see.

Coming up, President Trump's midterm message is all about winning. What it means for November, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:17:48] HENDERSON: President Trump is taking a victory lap with 30 days until the midterms and his Supreme Court pick is very much front and center.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Brett Kavanaugh is a man of great character and intellect. He's a totally brilliant scholar who has devoted his life to the law. The biggest thing a president can do they've always said is Supreme Court justice, the biggest.

(CHEERS)

And some have none. We've had two in less than two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Brett Kavanaugh is the second justice that Trump appointed to the Supreme Court, giving conservatives a clear majority.

Other big wins that Trump can count, the unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent, the lowest in 49 years. There's also the new trade deal to replace NAFTA, and Congress passed a major bipartisan bill to fight the opioid epidemic.

Lisa, you got to imagine this might be the week that Trump supporters are sick of winning, because he's got a lot of victories in his column -- one of the biggest weeks I think of his presidency.

LERER: Oh, this is definitely one of the best weeks of his presidency and people in the White House are feeling extremely good.

I think it also has told us something interesting about his support, you know? So, in 2016, I sort of thought that and a lot of people, of course, had thought that the president won in spite of his comments about "Access Hollywood", that "Access Hollywood" tape. And now, I kind of wonder if he's won -- if he won in part because of those comments.

And does that -- I mean, there has been polling about his supporters and they are more likely to believe in things like reverse racism --

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: -- or this is why men are under siege in this country, and that's part of what we saw that part of the base coming out and being really loud during this fight.

And this -- what this fight served to do this Kavanaugh fight is unify the Republican Party behind the president. Those -- that part of the base and also, you know, more like typical -- I don't know if their typical more moderate Republicans, what we think of like old-line Republicans now who want a conservative justice, they are now unified. The question is whether that endures over the next days, I think we don't know the answer to that.

KAPUR: It's a classically Trumpian -- you know, almost what-aboutism argument where, they -- you know, they say worry about Dr. Ford, we say worry about Brett Kavanaugh.

[08:20:02] They say worry about your daughters being sexually assaulted or not believed, we say worry about your sons being falsely accused, when it is a false equivalence. We all know sexual assault as a bigger problem than people being framed for sexual assault.

But this argument that he makes works that riles people up, it fuels them. The question, of course, can it sustain for the next month the midterm election is one month from yesterday.

HENDERSON: One of the things we hear yesterday one of these we hear is that the president saying is it's not about the people or whose names are on the ballot. It really is about him. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket because this is also a referendum about me. Get out and vote, I want you to vote, pretend I'm on the ballot and don't worry, we'll be on the ballot in two years and we will do a landslide like you haven't -- like you wouldn't believe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So, two things. One, we have noticed a change in President Trump's since all of Kavanaugh allegations surfaced. He's doing multiple rallies a week and I go to a lot of these and I've seen him go from instead he would never talk about the candidate really and never really talk about the midterms and it's like, hello, this is about the midterms you might lose the House, people really wanted him to be there talking about candidates. And it often it would just be him reciting his greatest hits.

We are now switched -- seeing him switch over and start talking about the midterms a lot more during these speeches.

But, secondly, to follow up on Trump's greatest week, I love this narrative because I do think this was a really successful week for the White House, but the idea that a successful week for a president now looks like your Supreme Court nominee being accused of sexual assault having to testify and a damning --

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: -- report from "The New York Times" exposing your finances and upending essentially what you've been telling the American public for decades is just comical to me that that is what a really good week for this president and what we now -- our bar for politics is so low now that this is a good week that just blows my mind.

HENDERSON: It's certainly a good week for his supporters, and we'll hear from some of him here. I think this is in Mississippi. Here's what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not tired of winning yet. I mean, the economy's booming and the military stronger but -- I mean, and that's what else do we need really? I'm satisfied with the way things are and I like to keep it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make sure that the Republicans hold the Senate and the House so that we can follow Trump's agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this important thing to me right now I was building the wall making sure we get the aliens, illegals from coming in, healthcare, everything important. Those important to Trump is important to me, all his agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: I mean, these folks are among the most fervent Trump fans. It's Mississippi. It's a Trump rally, but they are very fired up about this president.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. But Trump's message about him being on the ballot, I think it depends on where you live --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: -- as to whether that's a good message because there are candidates in suburban districts that are like, no, he's not on the ballot.

(LAUGHTER)

KUCINICH: And absolutely (INAUDIBLE) that to be the case.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: So I think you'll see some candidates using that and some saying he's entitled to his opinion.

HENDERSON: Yes, and you think about these Senate races and you think about Nevada, you think about Arizona, purple states and if you're Heller or if you're McSally, you might be a little dicey in terms of if you want the president there.

KAPUR: Right. So, Trump saying he's on the ballot is bad for Republicans in the House. It's probably good on balance for Republicans in the Senate, because the Senate map is very red, it's very Republican, it's very rural.

And most of these people like President Trump a lot. He won states like West Virginia and North Dakota by massive margins. Manchin, the one Democrat who broke, was in a state that President Trump won by the largest margin.

HENDERSON: Right. It's like 42 percent.

KAPUR: Yes.

HENDERSON: It's ridiculous.

KAPUR: Exactly. And one of the things that President Trump and I think has been his strategists and Republicans close to him have impressed upon him is that one of their biggest concerns is that his strong hardcore voters love him, are they going to turn out to support a Republican down the ballot when he's not on the ticket? They worry a lot about that.

HENDERSON: That's a big question and obviously, Lisa, you look at independent voters, a lot particularly independent women, they're the ones that folks are looking at too in terms of what they're going to do.

LERER: Right, and this was not good for independent women. Independent women were the ones who turned most quickly and most strongly against the Kavanaugh nomination and particularly when the president gets out there and makes fun of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford, that's really bad with independent women. I mean, look how this plays depends as most things in politics where you sit, what state you're in, what the dynamics are of those states. In red states, this is probably hurtful for Democrats. In swing states, this is probably hurtful for Republicans.

But for the president's base, it's really the perfect thing, right? He was able to motivate his base with kind of this red meat anger kind of stuff, and he also was able to motivate the sort of traditional, like moderate Republicans who want to see things done. And this is the biggest thing really he could get done for Republicans. This is culmination of decades-worth of activists and policy work by the Republican Party to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

[08:25:03] HENDERSON: Or decades from now.

LERER: For decades.

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: And whatever else we say about the president, he did get that done.

HENDERSON: He did get this done, it's true.

Next, Republicans say the Kavanaugh fight is a midterm motivator for their base. But is the Brett bounce real? We'll look at some key Senate races to find out.

But, first, Melania Trump -- she wrapped up her first solo trip abroad this weekend, but she couldn't escape her husband's Twitter account. No, not even when she visited the Great Sphinx in Egypt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: I don't always agree what he treats and I tell him that I gave him my honest opinion and honest advice sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't. But I have my own voice and my opinions, and it's very important for me that I express what I feel. REPORTER: Have you ever told him to put his phone down?

TRUMP: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: With four weeks to go until Election Day, Democrats are growing more confident about their chances of taking back the House even as their prospects in the Senate grow dicier (ph).

Fresh polling this week shows tight races in most of the key battlegrounds though. In North Dakota, incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp has fallen well behind her GOP challenger, about 12 points in this latest poll.

The question now -- have the Kavanaugh hearings energized Republican voters who may have otherwise stayed home on Election Day? Mitch McConnell certainly thinks so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I think our people are going to be just as fired up as theirs a month from now and everybody is going to remember what they did to Brett Kavanaugh.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Is this the shot in the arm that the Republicans needed?

MCCONNELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. It is -- it's a wake-up call to why it's important to hold the Senate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENDERSON: Jackie -- a lot can happen in 30 days. He's saying they're going to remember in November. Really?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": We'll have to see. It's really hard to say what could happen between now and November.

But it is true. At the beginning of this process, Republicans were terrified when Christine Blasey Ford came out. After her testimony, I was getting texts that said this is a disaster, this is really bad. He has got to go.

Then he testified and then came the cavalry behind him; and that -- you saw the tide just start to turn and with it, Republican voters starting to rally behind him. And you heard the President start to criticize Christine Blasey Ford.

And you heard Democrats at the end of this week say let's just get this over with. Let's get this done because -- privately of course -- because they were seeing the Republicans are starting to wake up. And they were starting to unite for the first time all cycle.

HENDERSON: And they were seeing these races tighten in some ways in some of the states.

KUCINICH: Right.

HENDERSON: And Lisa, you've got this great newsletter on politics and this is what you wrote about this question of whether or not they'll reenergize GOP voters. "The party has unified. Republicans are thrilled, so is President Trump.

But you know who else is fired up by the midterm -- by the confirmation battle? Democrats, particularly the independents and women who are considered crucial voters in battleground suburban communities -- counties.

The question is not who is angrier today. The question is whose anger lasts until Election Day?"

Another principle in politics and I think this is key. Losers are easier to motivate than winners.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. I was just about to say that. You read it to me. That is a big basic principle --

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: -- of politics, right. Losers are more angry than winners.

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: If you won you don't have the same need to go to the polls and get out there. So look, we don't -- what we do know is that both bases at this moment are extremely fired up. Again, the question is what that looks like 30 days from now. And we just don't know.

But there is a sense that there won't be any complacency among the Democratic base, because they have a lot to fight for here. And not only, you know, do they hate the President but they also now have lost the court. They don't have the Senate. They don't have the House. They have very little.

HENDERSON: They have nothing. They are losing, yes.

LERER: They have nothing. They are losing.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Right.

Right. And we'll see how angry they are on Election Day.

Here is -- Kirsten Gillibrand, the senator from New York. Here's what she had to say about November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Each one of us who wants to be heard this moment. I'm leaving you with one final thought. November is coming.

November is coming.

November is coming.

Please do everything you can between now and November to be heard. The moral arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: That's Amy Schumer next to her. And she, of course, is quoting Martin Luther King -- Gillibrand there.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Right. The phenomenon here and the politics of backlash are always stronger at the ballot box than the politics of victory. People don't show up to the polls to say thank you to the party. They very -- much more often, they show up to the polls to express their anger.

We saw this in 2010. Ask the Democrats how well that worked out, you know, to motivate voters to say hey, we passed this health care law and a bunch of other things that you like. Come support us. It didn't work.

That enthusiasm gap is a huge factor. We'll see if Republicans can sustain the extent to which they've cut into that.

The other factor that we haven't talked about yet, Nia -- is the gender gap. This is likely to be inflamed by this whole Kavanaugh debate. And I think the MeToo movement is kind of a bucket of gasoline on a raging fire already. And in the House in these suburban districts, college-educated women in particular are going to be the deciding factor in the races that could determine who controls the chamber and they're not happy.

[08:35:06] LERER: But Republicans are so excited in part because it looked so grim for them before. There was a 12 to 15 point enthusiasm gap. That's what Republican strategists were telling me and I suspect that everyone else around this table.

So that's really bad, particularly this close to election. So they're very excited that that has tightened up, right. So it's not that they're getting some huge edge, it's more like they're catching up in a way.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: And in some ways, Kaitlan -- that's why it was so important for Susan Collins to come out. Here she is -- this moderate GOP woman really rallying around Kavanaugh in a very fulsome speech on the floor and you saw President Trump talk about her from his rally.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Touting her, saying what a great speech it was. But also important to notice the dynamic and optics of what Susan Collins did.

When she spoke, two women --

HENDERSON: Exactly.

COLLINS: -- who also supported Brett Kavanaugh sat behind her. Those weren't their normal seats.

HENDERSON: Right.

COLLINS: It was totally televised, made-for-television so they could say, hey, it's not just her supporting Brett Kavanaugh. There are other women also supporting him. That's why you've seen a lot of the people who have gone on television to voice their support for him say they didn't believe these allegations or women he went to school with.

Not his guy friends that he drank with on the weekends, it was the women. They're trying to send the message with that. But the question is will that message be received? And what's the outcome going to be?

Because now we've got President Trump saying that he believes that Christine Blasey Ford was sexually assaulted but he's 100 percent sure it was Brett Kavanaugh who did it after she testified she was 100 percent sure it was him who did it.

So the question about how the whole MeToo movement has been handled and how President Trump has cast so much doubt on it, saying you should be scared for your sons and your brothers and your husbands and your fathers for this movement -- what will that effect be on the MeToo movement? And how will that factor into these races in November?

HENDERSON: Yes. And one person who's been quite vocal about this -- Lindsey Graham; here is his take on what's coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's now all about Kavanaugh. Before, it was about a lot of things. Now it's pretty simple. If you vote for the Democratic Party, you're turning your government over to people who follow you around, spit on you, and try to intimidate you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Lindsey Graham sort of reborn in many ways as part of these hearings. He's being caricatured on "SNL" by Kate McKinnon and there he is on Fox.

KUCINICH: I think Lindsey Graham -- one of the other things he said other than the comments he said there. I mean I remember, you know, John Lewis trying to walk to the Capitol during the health care debate in 2010 and being surround by protesters. So it's not necessarily confined to that.

But one of the things that Lindsey Graham has really taken issue with is that he supported Sonya Sotomayor --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINISH: -- Elena Kagan when Democrats, President Obama nominated them. And so I think he really took affront to what was happening with Kavanaugh. There are other motivations. Perhaps he's worried about a primary in South Carolina, his next race.

But I do think he is an institutionalist and I think that also played into his anger throughout this process.

HENDERSON: And I wonder -- we'll see him out on the stump because he's all of a sudden a real favorite of the Trump base.

KAPUR: Yes. I think he has really leaned in to being one of President Trump's biggest allies and, you know, wingman on Capitol Hill. I think to Jackie's point about his views about this confirmation, this 50 to 48 margin is the narrowest of any Supreme Court confirmation in modern times.

The next closest is Clarence Thomas who was similar --

HENDERSON: And 11 Democrats though, right.

KAPUR: -- two of them, helped him forward. Yes, he got 11 Democrats. It was 52 to 48, four votes. Kavanaugh confirmed with two votes amid questions, you know, a lot of questions about the Supreme Court; a lot of attacks on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. We've had those protests yesterday.

Chief Justice Roberts is in a tough position here.

HENDERSON: Yes. And we'll see where this goes. It's fascinating to watch.

November 2018 is almost here but November 2020 is coming closer as well. Democrats eyeing the White House -- up next.

[08:39:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDERSON: We're just 30 days away from Election Day for the midterms but 2020 isn't so far away. The battle over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation featured some likely 2020 candidates. You had Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker -- all were part of those contentious hearings.

And shortly after, Booker headed to Iowa -- a possible sign of his White House ambitions. He headlined the Democratic Party's biggest event of the year in that state. And after his fiery speech, hitting on Trump and taking back the House, he talked 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, are you running?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I do need to get in shape so I will probably go jogging here in Iowa in the morning. No, in all seriousness, we're here to focus on the elections that are coming up in 31 days. Iowa can be the reason why we flip house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: I know a bit of corny joke there from Cory Booker when asked if he's running. But he was part of the hearings and you had others there as well. Klobuchar for instance elevating her profile, Kamala Harris as well walking out at one point.

What do you make of what we saw?

KAPUR: Yes, that was one of the more creative ways to avoid answering the question of whether you're running. I'm just going for a job.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KAPUR: Right now -- so right now the Democratic Party, as I see it, is a collection of economic populists and social justice fighters. Now, if you look at those two wings, my read on it at this moment -- Elizabeth Warren appears to be the front-runner for economic populists. And Kamala Harris is very formidable, probably the frontrunner for the social justice wing of the party.

What I'm really struck by is President Trump talks a lot about a number of these contenders. He loves to talk about Elizabeth Warren. He used that race-tinged slur against her.

He never talks about Kamala Harris. I wonder why.

HENDERSON: Yes. We'll see where that goes. And we've got a list here. I think there are 25 or so folks who are potential 2020 Dems -- everybody from Michael Avenatti, who probably didn't do himself many favors with Democrats over these last weeks. Elizabeth Warren is on here. You've got Eric Holder, John Hickenlooper, Terry McAuliffe -- lots f folks on this list. A crowded field -- Jackie.

KUCINICH: You did see Elizabeth Warren coming out and saying she's considering it, right? Sort of "no one puts Baby in a corner" as all these other Democrats were having the spotlight on them by virtue of being part of this Kavanaugh debate.

But yes, right now the field is wide. And we'll see who takes off. It's really -- given the climate, given who they have to run against, I think Democrats are really going to be focused on picking a winner this time.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: And of course, they always are, but I think right now in particular. And some of the weaknesses and strengths of these candidates are going to come out in short order rather than perhaps waiting until the nomination comes.

HENDERSON: And here is President Trump -- you mentioned what he said about Elizabeth Warren. This is what he had to say last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see those candidates before my eyes every night before I go to sleep.

Pocahontas, Pocahontas -- I've got more Indian blood in me than Pocahontas. And I have none.

Sleepy Joe Biden, who ran for president two or three times. Remember, he challenged me to a fight? I would like to take him behind the barn. I would love that. That would be -- that wouldn't last long. That would not last long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And Warren -- just to tell you what her response was, she tweeted "Hey @RealDonaldTrump hope you're having fun at your rally." This was as his rally was going on. "Too bad you're the least popular incumbent president in modern history and in the meantime we are coming for your pathetic rubber stamp Republicans in Congress in 31 days."

LERER: I mean I think the President does point out something -- make a good point there in a way which is that former vice president Joe Biden -- a lot of Democrats are waiting to see what he does.

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: To see if they're going to jump in the race; that they see him as filling a particular lane. Certainly not Elizabeth Warren, not Kamala Harris.

[08:45:02] KUCINICH: Oh, no, no. I was going to say Joe Biden actually because of what happened with Christine Blasey Ford and the Anita Hill hearings -- he actually -- he's been very quiet.

LERER: That's a really good point. He's been very quiet.

KUCINICH: He has been very quiet as he should be.

LERER: Right.

KUCINICH: Because if you go back and watch the tape, it is not a good look --

HENDERSON: Not great.

KUCINICH: -- for where the party is right now.

LERER: But he was the former vice president.

KUCINICH: Right. LERER: He's done this before. He has a lot of donors. He could raise a lot of money. So there's a number of candidates in that sort of lane waiting to see what he does.

Elizabeth Warren, of course, it's pretty clear that she's signaling all over the place that she's running and she wants to cast herself as early as possible as a fighter. When you talk to her people, they tell you know, you know, she wants to hit back.

HENDERSON: And you see that in that tweet.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Kaitlan, who should the President most be worried about coming out of this Democratic field?

COLLINS: So what we're going to is a lot like what we saw with the Republicans in the last presidential election where there are so many running. That is what we are going to see Democrats so obviously. People like Michael Avenatti -- everyone coming out of the woodwork pretty much signaling they're going to run.

But we are seeing President Trump, even though we haven't even made it to the midterms, he has become increasingly concerned about who it is going to be running against him. He is really starting to focus on 2020 himself in private conversations.

HENDERSON: Who do you think he's most worried about?

COLLINS: Well, you can see who he talks about. He doesn't talk about Kamala Harris.

HENDERSON: Right.

COLLINS: That's like really something, you know. A lot of people see her as someone who is really going to be a star in the next election. And he clearly doesn't think she's a threat. He's not very -- what would the word be -- sly?

HENDERSON: Right. Hard to read, yes.

COLLINS: Who he's worried about -- that's who he's calling out at those rallies.

KAPUR: He should be worried about anyone who can defeat him in the three Midwestern states that decided the election. It's unlikely -- it's hard for me to imagine a Democrat in 2020 losing all any of the states that Hillary Clinton won but Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- who can take back that, you know, that former blue wall.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: His dream of expanding the map.

HENDERSON: Yes. Right.

KUCINICH: Every year.

HENDERSON: 2020 very much already here.

Next our reporters share from their notebooks, including midterm conspiracy theories from the dark corners of the Internet.

[08:47:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDERSON: Each Sunday our reporters share from their notebooks to get you out ahead of the week's news.

Kaitlan -- we're going to start with you.

COLLINS: There were so many interesting moments over the last few weeks, so many dramatic moments. But I think one thing that was really remarkable was what Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee said. And that was when he remarked during an interview at the end of last week that he didn't believe there were women -- Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee because they couldn't handle the workload.

Now he came back pretty quickly after he made those comments, after an aide prompted him to do so to correct it to say he actually thinks women work harder than men, et cetera, et cetera.

But it's just remarkable that he made a comment like that when we're in the face of this conversation about women, women especially in the Senate because they had to hire someone to come and question -- a female prosecutor to come and question Christine Blasey Ford because they didn't want it to reflect poorly on them if they were too aggressive in their questioning of them.

HENDERSON: Yes.

COLLINS: I just thought it was a remarkable thing for him to say while we are in the middle of this conversation about women, the MeToo movement, sexual harassment and women especially being in the Senate.

HENDERSON: Yes. We'll see if a woman finally -- a Republican woman finally gets on the Senate Judiciary Committee. That's never happened.

Lisa.

LERER: So we took a little break from the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings this week just a little tiny break. And we looked at the biggest conspiracy theories circulating around the midterms. As we all remember 2016 was like the conspiracy theory election, in part because President Trump, of course, had pushed the birther theory for a long time and Hillary Clinton has been at the center of -- I don't know -- just about every conspiracy theory for the past two decades, her and her family.

So, you know, we were kind of curious that on topics at "The Times" what is circulating around the midterms and we found a couple circling on the dark corners of the Internet. I'll share one with you guys today which is my favorite which was that Christine Blasey Ford was not actually testifying for herself up there during that hearing but instead it was Amy Schumer playing Christine Blasey Ford --

HENDERSON: Oh wow.

LERER: -- giving testimony --

HENDERSON: Creative.

LERER: -- it's creative and that's the kind of stuff we're seeing in the four dark corners of the Internet these days.

HENDERSON: Wow. Who can compete with that?

KAPUR: I don't think I can. One of the great ironies of this midterm election cycle is that Republican candidates who are actively supporting efforts to undermine or overturn the Affordable Care Act are doing straight candidate to camera ads touting their support for a critical component of it which is the protections for pre-existing conditions.

That includes Josh Hawley of Missouri whose name is on a lawsuit that would overturn all of ACA including these pre-existing condition protections. It includes Dana Rohrabacher who supported the House- passed Republican bill that would open the door for insurers to charge people more.

Health care is still the top issue on the minds of many voters according to the polls. And we'll see how this plays. What Republicans are trying to do in response to this is tie Democratic candidates as much as possible to single payer and shift the conversation.

HENDERSON: Health care. All about health care.

Jackie.

KUCINICH: I'm staying with health care. One of the provisions in the large opioid bill that passed the Senate last week would require the use of U.S. Postal Service to screen for fentanyl from packages that come overseas. Before this, you could just get it -- presumably get it delivered to your doorstep.

But more broadly, this opioid bill is one of the few things that senators and congressmen who are incumbents can actually talk about that is truly bipartisan and truly impacts the people in many of their states.

HENDERSON: Really important issue.

[08:54:57] And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again -- thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Hope you can catch us weekdays at noon Eastern. Up next we've got "STATE OF THE UNION". Dana Bash sits down with Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine. She was a pivotal yes vote for Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:03] DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Done deal. Key Republican Senator Susan Collins makes the decision on the Supreme Court.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.