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Trump's 11-stop Campaign Blitz Before Midterms; Gillum: "Ignore Trump and Vote"; Missouri Senate Race A Dead Heat as Election Day Nears. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 12:30   ET



[12:32:56] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just one week until Election Day and President Trump is hitting the road. He has 11 rallies in the next six days, stops in Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio.

I think I did that without a breath.

There is a strategy behind this schedule with a huge focus on keeping the Senate in Republican hands. Many of those stops are home to Trump state Democrats -- excuse me, home to places where Trump won, but Democrats represent there. And so they're vulnerable for that reason.

Now, in addition to his base-driving tactics on immigration, the president is closing his message on the economy. He tweeted, "The stock market is up massively since the election, but is now taking a little pause. People want to see what happens with the midterms. If you want your stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat. They like the Venezuela financial model, high taxes, and open borders."


SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: That's a way to spin the stock market going down.

BASH: Yes. It's also like -- it's a little dangerous to do a negative like that because if what if some doesn't read the whole tweet. Anyway, I'm definitely over thinking this. But, you know, let's talk about the big picture.

Look, the president is being deployed. He has been deployed to these red states because if you talk to the candidates in these red states on the GOP side, and even the Democratic side, it seems to be working.

KAPUR: It's a strategic --


BASH: Yes. LUCEY: I mean, he's been to Montana how many times, and he's going to Missouri twice on this tour. He is going to the states where they see these vulnerable Democratic senators and they think it's working. They think they're going to pick off a couple of them. And you see also -- I mean, it's -- I think it's good to think about where he is going and where he isn't going.

BASH: Yes.

LUCEY: He is not spending the same kind of time on individual House races --

BASH: He's not.

LUCEY: -- at all. The White House is sensitive to the suggestion that he is in any way, you know, giving up on that. But they're certainly putting some distance between their fair -- they're making clear that gains in the Senate, he should get credit for.

BASH: Well -- and let's just be frank. It's because the House members who need a boost the most would get the opposite with the presidential visit because the dynamic is completely polar opposite when you talk about the most important House races versus the most important Senate races.

[12:35:14] House races, he's talking about (INAUDIBLE) that he's probably where he is reporting --


BASH: Exactly.


BASH: Yes, rural areas are good. You know, suburban swing districts where you try to reach independent women, not so good.

KAPUR: It's a strategically smart schedule to heavy focus on the Senate. These rural red states that voted for him by big margins, he can be a help to these Republicans there and he might even be able to push some them over the top. There are also a couple of states that he's going to where there are close governor's races like Ohio and like Florida, the Senate race there as well but the Senate Rick Scott is not running as much of a Trumpy platform as Ron DeSantis.

And he totally is ignoring the House battleground map. He is, because in upscale suburbs, he's a liability in the swing districts that are going to control that, you know, the House. So, it seems like he's gotten that message. And, you know, as far as the schedule goes, if you're the president's advisers and you're the Republicans in the House and the Senate deciding where he should go, this is probably as good --

BASH: You mentioned Florida. Let's drill down on Florida. Look at what the president said last night about the -- excuse me, about governor's race and the Democratic candidate there.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's a guy that in my opinion is a stone cold thief and his city, Tallahassee, is known as the most corrupt in Florida and one of the most corrupt in the nation. He's a disaster. And how he's even close to being tied is hard to believe.

But Florida can't have -- if Florida has a governor like that, and I know Florida better than I know practically anywhere, Florida will become Venezuela. It will be a disaster.


BASH: He never explained what he meant about saying that Andrew Gillum is a stone cold thief. There was a lot of speculation about it and accusations online and elsewhere, but Andrew Gillum was -- as he usually is, very quick to respond to the president. Here's what he said in a tweet.

"I heard Donald Trump ran home to Fox News to lie about me. But as my grandmother told me, never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pigs like it. So ignore him and vote, Florida."

KUCINICH: He has -- I mean, there's also his comments to DeSantis stirring the debate in terms of -- I'm not going to quote it right but I'm not saying you're a racist, but a lot of racists think you are a racist. He has a way with words in a way that kind of moves the debate back to Florida and back to his own candidacy.

So, yes. So I think -- but, you know, the other thing in this race that we should mention is DeSantis, the Republican, he won because of President Trump. He has tied himself to President Trump.

Closer than most candidates across the country. So that's someone -- while Rick Scott is trying to step away, DeSantis can't. It's impossible, he's there for the ride.

KAPUR: Yes, it's Gillum's way of simultaneously punching back while also taking the high road. He recognizes that you can't just let Trump's remarks go unanswered because they seep into the political groundwater. You know, it affects the way people think about things and he's very effective at branding people usually for the negative. So Gillum is responding to that but he also doesn't want to make this entire race about Trump.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The interesting thing though is, in a really diverse and big state like Florida, you know, a comment like President Trump made is a reflex that this is all about turning out the DeSantis b, right? There's no attempt by the president to sort of reach out a little bit more broadly, help his gubernatorial candidate kind of broaden a little bit and eat into the moderates, to the independents or whatever. It's all just about kind of being that kind of raw red meat help for DeSantis that he hopes he can deliver. And maybe that'll be enough in a very close race.

KAPUR: And yet DeSantis realized that may not be enough because in the debate, he distanced himself a little bit from the cutesy ad he ran where, you know, where he's reading the "Art of the Deal" to his kid. He's like, I don't actually read the "Art of the Deal" to my son.

LUCEY: But also, while these are rallies for midterm candidates, these are rallies where he brings, you know, Senate candidates up on stage, they're Trump rallies. He go there (INAUDIBLE) Trump signs, it is people waiting Trump, they're waiting Trump 2020 shirts.


LUCEY: Florida tends to be important in presidential elections.

BASH: OK, don't tell anyone.

All right, everybody. Up next, proof that today's political news cycle is really stressful.


[12:43:57] BASH: Topping our political radar today, President Trump says when it comes to the special counsel's investigation into possible ties between Russia and his campaign, he will probably answer some questions from Robert Mueller. Here's what he told Fox News.


TRUMP: I mean, it's ridiculous that I have to do anything because we didn't do anything. But we will probably do something. Yes. Where we'll respond to some questions.


BASH: Meanwhile, his attorney, Rudy Giuliani confirmed to Bloomberg what CNN first reported several weeks ago. That the president's legal team is preparing answers to questions from Robert Mueller.

And gunfire shattered the storefront window of a Republican Party office in Volusia County, Florida. Police say four rounds were fired into the office late Sunday or early Monday when no one was there. There is no surveillance video and no shell casings were recovered. The state party chairman condemned the attack saying violence is never the answer under any circumstances.

Are you stressed out by politics?

[12:45:01] Well, you're not alone. According to a new poll by the American Psychological Association, 62 percent of Americans say the current political climate is a significant stressor in their lives. And more than two thirds say they're stressed at -- stressed out rather over the nation's future. But there is a silver lining. Forty-five percent say because of their concern, they're more inclined to volunteer or support causes they believe in. Up next, why the Kavanaugh factor is the midterm boat issue really critical and perhaps determining factor in the Missouri Senate race.


BASH: Democrats hoping for a Senate take over know the map is stacked against them. They'll need to make gains and hold every seat up for grabs in states Trump won like in Missouri where I traveled last week.

[12:50:01] The most recent poll shows a dead heat between the Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and her Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. Now both party say the Kavanaugh confirmation fight energized their voters, but in conservative-leaning Missouri, that energy likely means more for the Republicans. McCaskill said her vote wasn't about accusations against Kavanaugh but his support for unlimited campaign cash.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I have to live with myself and I would be a big hypocrite if I voted for Kavanaugh because of dark money. I made my decision on Kavanaugh before the allegations even had really surfaced. Way before the ugly confirmation process.


BASH: Now Hawley told me that explanation won't be enough to satisfy Missourians.



BASH: That was a big deal.

HAWLEY: Big deal. Very big deal.

BASH: Like that could make the difference?

HAWLEY: Yes, I do. Very big deal.

BASH: In what way?

HAWLEY: Because It voters were so appalled by what the -- they're just appalled by the smear campaign. She said --

BASH: She did say how she would vote before the hearing.

HAWLEY: She was honest in saying that she's voting against Justice Kavanaugh because he was a conservative.


BASH: It is so many dynamics in this race that I think is probably mirror some of what you saw in Arizona, and definitely other particularly North Dakota where I went and other areas where you have this red state, you have a Democrat who technically at least in today's day and age doesn't necessarily fit the state where Trump won by, you know, in many cases, you know, 30 points, in Missouri it's 20 points and yet the Democrat is trying desperately to run as an individual. As an independent and somebody who stands up to the Democrats and stands with the Republicans when it works.

KAPUR: The political context I think of her talking about dark money is that that's a lopsided issue. You have large majorities of conservatives and liberals and Democrats, Republicans and independents who think there's too much money in politics. So that's a bit of a safer issue, you know, for her to cast her opposition and then the acquisitions which as we know were extremely divisive.

But McCaskill had a difficult decision to make because there is a progressive base in Missouri. There are about 12 percent of the state African-Americans universities, college towns, and lots of young people and there's no path for her without mobilizing them as well.

BASH: Go ahead.

SHEAR: Well, I would just say, the problem with, you know, comparing for example the dark money and too much money in politics issue with the Kavanaugh fight is the difference in passion, right? I mean, because whatever the polling might say, I think we've seen in politics for a long time now that, you know, questions about, you know, campaign finance don't exactly drive people to like, you know, to the polls. And the Kavanaugh fight really did seem in places like this, like where Dana was to really kind of energized folks (INAUDIBLE).

KUCINICH: But even in places where neither candidate voted for Kavanaugh, the Blackburn-Bredesen race for example, my colleague (INAUDIBLE) was in Tennessee with the two of them, and both of them said that they would support Kavanaugh. And Blackburn was still heating residents because he didn't support him fast enough. Because he waited until the hearing happened. And that was one of the things he heard over and over again that voters were really looking into and both of them felt the same way about it.

BASH: And the playbook in Missouri is not unlike Indiana again, and these other areas where the Republican, in this case Josh Hawley is painting the Democrat as somebody who is -- he even has on his bus a picture of Claire McCaskill with the faces of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. And she's saying, no, no, no, you got me wrong.

Watch this.


HAWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) tax cuts, Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh, actually every single justice. Securing the border. The CIA knowledge of terrorists. I mean, it's just, you go through it and every time it matters, she's with the party and against the president.

MCCASKILL: That's what gets lost in all of the noise about Kanye meeting in the Oval Office and Stormy Daniels and all of the drama that is currently Washington. (INAUDIBLE) people at home don't hear about the bill that I passed to lower the cost of a hearing aid. They don't know about the bill I passed to make prescription drugs more affordable. They don't know those things even occurred.

So that's my job in this campaign is to show them that I am somebody who brings people in from the edges.


LUCEY: I mean, this is the play, right? I'm independent, I'm not part of that machine. And I think appealing to the idea that people are fed up with politics as usual has been successful for lots of politicians, including Donald Trump. But, this election is really going to be a test for whether you can be a centrist Democrat.

BASH: It really is.

And she just like Heidi Heitkamp told me in North Dakota, be careful. They're telling voters, be careful because if you vote out moderates, and you're going to have even more gridlock, even more partisanship, which is hard to imagine in Washington.

[12:55:04] And that is a message point, it's a message point we're not sure really flies in a situation and in an atmosphere where people are showing their partisan colors.

All right, thank you so much to all of you. Thank you for watching.

A quick programming note rather, more of my reporting on Missouri will be on Erin Burnett OUTFRONT tonight. That's at 7 p.m. Eastern. Thank you so much.

John King is back tomorrow, and Wolf starts right after a break.