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President Trump Rallied Supporters In Montana; Florida, A State To Watch In What Could Be A Microcosm For This Year's Midterm Showdown; Robert Mueller Is Looking At Seemingly Threatening Messages About Longtime Trump Confidant Roger Stone Sent To A Witness In The Russia Investigation; The Graffiti Was Found On Four Floors Of The Union Temple Thursday Night; In New York City; President Started His Political Career By Pedaling The Racially Charged Conspiracy Theory That The First African-American President Was Born In Africa. Aired 4- 5p ET

Aired November 3, 2018 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Last hour, he amplified his anti- immigration rhetoric at a rally in Montana. And he is immediately headed a second stop in Florida tonight.

This as voters across the U.S. have just been swarming the early vote locations. More than 27 million early ballots have been cast as of yesterday evening. That number still going up. Already eclipsing early votes for a presidential election in some states let along a midterm year.

CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is traveling with this president and has more on his closing pitch to voters - Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Ana, President Trump rallied supporters in Montana speaking for more than an hour, going after specifically Democratic Senator John Tester. That is why the President is here. It is why he has come to Montana four times since July. The race is personal with Senator Tester. He also talked about immigration, repeatedly talking about the caravan at the border saying it's an urgent crisis.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a sign illegal immigrants up for free education, free welfare, free education, and what do they really want? The right to vote because they figure that's the way they stay in office forever.

It is the second caravan, which is made up of some very tough, young people. Very tough. Criminals in some cases. In many cases, they will say do you have proof? Yes, I have proof. They threw Stones in the police's face. They hurt Mexican police. They hurt Mexican military very badly. They broke through. You saw it. It was on television. It was terrible. And so Mexico is trying. They are trying, but we are different. We more than try. We have our military now on the border. I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight.


ZELENY: The applause lines -- the applause on the immigration lines, though, not as loud as we have heard at other rallies in other parts of the country. The question here in the final three days, will this race turn on national issues like immigration or will it turn on more local issues like access to health care, access to public lands?

President Trump made clear his fight against John Tester is a vengeance that's a personal one. The question is, though, will Montanans support someone that they have for 12 years. He is running for a third term in the Senate or will they side with President Trump's candidate, Matt Rosendale.

Now, the President leaving Montana and will be heading to Florida for a campaign rally in Pensacola tonight -- Ana.

CABRERA: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

And joining us now, we head to Florida where the President is headed, and Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, of Florida state, the President, again, is going to have a rally at later on tonight at 7:30 eastern time.

Congressman, even though the President has been on this campaign blitz, he has conceded in the last 24 hours that not everything may go Republican's way on Tuesday, especially when it comes to the House. Let's listen.


TRUMP: They will try to erase our gains and eradicate our progress. That is what is going to happen. They are going to work hard, and we will be fighting, oh. It will be ridiculous, frankly. It will be bad for our country. The Democrats and it could happen. Could happen. We are doing very well, and very well in the Senate, but could happen. And you know what you do? My whole life, you know what I say? Don't worry about it. I'll just figure it out.


CABRERA: Congressman as a member of the house yourself, what's your reaction?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Well, I'm glad the President is campaigning so hard. He is our party's best messenger, and I can't imagine another time where a President has done more in a midterm election to really get out into the country and drive that message as the protector in-chief and also the job creator and chief. When you look at last month's historic job numbers, we have got the fastest wage growth in a decade. So I think it is really a positive message.

Here in Florida we need the President. We need the President to turn out the nearly one million Floridians who vote for him in 2016 but have never voted in another midterm.

Ana, we see a blue wave happening in Florida in terms of turnout and participation with the coalitions. The Democrats need to win. Minorities and millenials. In particular they are turning out well. But there is a corresponding red wave that is just as tall, and the President has been helpful right now. We are over 50,000 votes ahead in terms of Republican ballots cast in the sunshine state. And I think we are up for one of the most exciting midterms in recent memory.

CABRERA: It is going to be a tight race there at Florida, both the governor's race and the senate race. It looks very, very slim margins right now. The President, you mentioned, the President does have a great economic record. He could be running on. But he says it is quote "not as exciting to talk about that." Instead he has been making the highly controversial remarks about a caravan coming to innovate the country. Why go negative? Why not stay positive?

[16:05:24] GAETZ: Well, I think that we have wait of positive mission of lower taxes, lower regulations, agencies that work with people instead of against them, and the result has been historic improvement in the U.S. economy.

CABRERA: But the President himself says the economy isn't as exciting to talk about, and he is focused so much of his message on this immigration divisive message rhetoric that we've been hearing.

GAETZ: I was with the President on air force one just days ago. He was very excited about the economy, but that doesn't mean we take our eye off the ball when it comes to border security. These caravans, this porous border, it does represent a threat to the people in the United States. And if they don't go out and vote for Republicans, the Democratic Party has now embraced abolishing ICE, open borders, and I think this that should scare people. It's OK to tell people that there are bad folks that want to get across our border illegally and that we need to do the things to stop them.

CABRERA: You talk about scaring people. It does seem like that is the intent. But even Shep Smith of FOX News, the President's favorite network has pushed back on that fear that the President has drummed up over the caravan. Here he is.


SHEP SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about. When they did this to us, got us all riled up in April, remember, the result was 14 arrests. We are America. We can handle it.


CABRERA: Is he wrong?

GAETZ: Yes, I think he is. Shep Smith doesn't get the same intelligence briefings that I do that indicated there are special interest aliens who at times take advantage of the porous border. We have seen circumstances where Africans, Middle Easterners who we have been paying close attention to as a consequence of some of the training that they have been involved in, they understand and know that one of the easiest ways to get on in our country is to cross illegally on that border. And so I do think that that's important for us.

CABRERA: We don't know. We haven't seen the evidence of these people. You talk about your intelligence briefing. So I will give you that. But, I mean, you guys are talking about an invasion. Do invaders really give you three months' notice that they are coming?

GAETZ: Well, I think that depends. When you look at the footage and the images of these people trying to tear down barriers, trying to move through countries, attacks on law enforcement. I don't exactly want them moving into subdivisions in my congressional district.

CABRERA: I have to stop you there, though, because we have had reporters talking with a lot of these people who are coming as part of this caravan. A lot of them, and you know that this is true, are mothers and children and families who are fleeing persecution or fleeing violence or fleeing poverty in their home countries. They are not --.


CABRERA: There maybe some of the violent people among that, but there may be.


GAETZ: No, no, no. I'm not saying everybody is. But I don't have to win the argument that everybody in the caravan is dangerous. I just have to win the argument that somebody in the caravan is dangerous or could be dangerous because if they are coming here to do harm to Americans, I don't care if it's one of them, ten of them, or 1,000 of them, I don't want to come here -- them coming here disrespecting our borders. And if people go vote for Democrats, that we are going to have open borders. There's going to be an attack on ICE. And you are going to really see a change in the country that is unsafe for people, and that's why we are fighting hard to get every republican out to vote the next few days.

CABRERA: There was outrage this week over that ad the President tweeted out, blaming Democrats for an undocumented immigrant who had killed a couple of police officers previously in 2014. Critics have called this the most racially charged campaign commercial since the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad. Republican senator Jeff flake tweeting, this is a sickening ad. Republicans everywhere should denounce it. Do you denounce it?

GAETZ: Absolutely not. That doesn't blame Democrats for that individual. But it highlights his story. Someone who came here, killed two police officers and we should kill more as proof that there are folks who come here illegally to do harm. That there are people that we have to be able to stop at the border that we have to be able to ensure that we (INAUDIBLE) back into their own countries.

(CROSSTALK) CABRERA: But did you know the facts are he came back and big during the Bush administration. It wasn't during the Democratic administration.

GAETZ: Right. Nobody is saying - yes, but the Democrats would keep him here. That's the problem.

CABRERA: No, it was Joe Arpaio who arrested him and he was released under the --

GAETZ: Good for Joe Arpaio.

CABRERA: Joe Arpaio, as you know, is a very big Trump supporter and vice versa. He is not a Democrat.


[16:10:00] GAETZ: Joe Arpaio doesn't have the constitutional authority to re-patriot (ph) that individual. When you look at the Republican plan, Ana, it is to establish barriers in central and South America, dictate what asylum claims are legitimate.


GAETZ: And if there is asylum that can be appropriated, that would be lawful and according to a process, not the total abandonment of borders that Democrats are running on these midterms. I'm glad the President is running that ad because it shows people what's at stake in this election.

CABRERA: Do you feel the same way about Cesar Sayoc, somebody who, again, is one man who has done something very dangerous, very heinous in many cases with trying to send pipe bombs around the country. He was a Trump supporter. He was in a Trump rally.

GAETZ: Days before -- yes, look, we have people that support Republicans and Democrats that engage in horrible political violence, and I denounce all of it. We are going to fight with our words and our ideas not by hurting people. And anyone who takes what I say or what the President says as a license to go and hurt folks, you are not hearing us.

We want to win because our ideas are better and because we can improve people's lives. And whether it's on the right or the left, we all need to speak out against political violence.

CABRERA: Amen to that. Congressman Matt Gaetz, thank you very much for joining us.

GAETZ: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Up next, we talk to a Democrat in Florida in a highly competitive House race being watched around the country. One hitting a Cuban-American Republican against a Democrat born in Ecuador. Will the President's rhetoric on immigration impact that race?

Plus, Robert Mueller investigating threatening messages from a Trump ally to a key witness. We have got them and we will read them to you.

Plus, new charges of repeated racism levelled against the President. The man who said he would take a bullet for Trump is talking about this, but will Michael Cohen have an effect on voters?


[16:15:54] CABRERA: Florida, no surprise a state to watch in what could be a microcosm for this year's midterm showdown, a key House race we are keeping an eye on Tuesday. Florida's 26th congressional district, that's in south Florida, and a Republican holds the state currently.

But the latest polling shows this has become a toss-up. Look at this. In a "New York Times" poll conducted October 19th to October 24th, the Democrat in this race, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, holds a slim one-point lead. And she is joining us now. Her opponent Congressman Carlos Curbelo, by the way, will be joining us here on CNN tomorrow.

Debbie, thanks for being with us.


CABRERA: We know you are a first generation American born in Ecuador. And I want you to listen to the President speaking on immigration this week in your home state.


TRUMP: Republicans want strong border. No crime, no chaos, and no caravans. Democrats want open borders. And they want to invite caravan after caravan into our country, which brings crime upon crime.


CABRERA: What's your response to that?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Ana, as you know, I'm an immigrant myself. I came here when I was 14. Started working at a minimum wage job at the age of 15 with my sisters and my mother. We have worked very hard. The opportunities that have brought me to where I am today are the opportunities that bring so many people to this incredible country. It is what makes us strong, the diversity in my community is what makes us also very united.

I can tell you that the President and the Republican Party, they are actually desperate. Their desperate tactics, they are trying to distract because they don't want to talk about the very important issue that people care about, which is that they are sabotaging their health care, that they are trying to take away protections for people living with preexisting conditions.

Three hundred thousand right here in district 26. Carlos Curbelo voted to repeal the affordable care act in a district where we have the second largest number of people that get their health care through the ACA. The environment. We have seen those horrible toxic blue algae that are infesting our water ways, and gun reform. Look at what happened in Tallahassee. Why is the President not talking about that?

CABRERA: I know your opponent, Carlos Curbelo, has distanced himself from the President's rhetoric and the President's policy when it comes to immigration, when it comes to the environment, for example. But President Trump is really taking the mantle to Florida, taking his bully pulpit to back up a lot of Republican candidates around the country. I'm wondering with him hitting Florida so hard with his immigration message, does it feel like maybe your race isn't just against a local Florida opponent but a race against the President of the United States.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, Ana, I can tell you that I have been focusing solely on the families that are living in my community because what's important to them, I think, is important to families across the United States. And these fear tactics, the attacks on immigrants, we are nurses. We are teachers. I became the associate Dean at the FIU medical school working to expand health care reform.

That's who we are. We want to contribute to the economy. We are hard-working people. And it's insulting, really, for him to continue to try to distract attacking us, which is exactly what he ran on, and that's why he is trying to use it in this election.

But I want to remind something. Curbelo is no moderate. He has been voting with Trump 85 percent of the time. When he distances himself, he goes back to Washington D.C. and votes straight with the most extreme Republicans, especially on immigration. He has caved into his party. He voted for a tax bill that gives $1.9 trillion cuts to the wealthiest Americans, not helping the hard-working families in my district.

So I just want to make it very clear. He is no moderate.

CABRERA: He is not here to defend himself. But again, he will be on our shows tomorrow.


CABRERA: But I want you to listen to what he said earlier this week here on CNN about the President's plan for sending as many as 15,000 troops to the border. Listen.



[16:20:02] REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: That's clearly an overreaction. And while I think, obviously, some on the far right and the President himself are trying to draw a lot of attention to this issue of this caravan, I think also reasonable people can say we should have a border that is protected, that is enforced --.


CABRERA: Do you differ from Congressman Curbelo when it comes to immigration?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: So let me tell you one thing, Ana. I want to make something very clear, also, because I have heard a lot on the news that Democrats are not in favor of strong borders. I think that having strong border security is incredibly important. I think the safety of the American families is our priority. I think, again, I just want to remind you, and maybe you can ask him. So if he thinks that it's not a good idea, if congressman Curbelo is saying this, what is he going to do about it? He has a Republican majority right now in Congress, and I haven't seen any sort of discussion, debate, or legislation come to the floor to stop the President from doing this.

CABRERA: Your district, Hillary Clinton won by 16 points, why is the race as close as it is right now?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, you know, it's taken me a long time to get to this point because no one really knew who I was. I have been working in this community for about 20 years, and we started sending our message loud and clear starting back in August, slowly people have gotten to know me, and the excitement is there.

We are seeing a lot of people coming out and voting. I was actually just knocking on doors today. We have been on a lot of the voting sites. And I have actually even heard Republicans come and tell me that they came out this time for the first time in their life. A 90- year-old woman came to me two days ago and said I have never voted Democrat. I came out just to vote for you in this election cycle.

So it's really exciting, but I don't want anyone to relax. The most important thing is we have voting in Miami day today, early voting tomorrow, and then Tuesday. So please don't stay home. A lot of what we need is at stake in this election. I want us to show America because I know everybody is watching that Florida is ready, and we are going to stand up to the President, we are going to stand strong, and we won't let hatred divide us anymore.

CABRERA: Everybody knows Florida is prime example of why every vote counts. We all know the history there.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, thank you very much for joining us.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you so much, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, what CNN is learning tonight about Robert Mueller, Roger Stone and possible witness tampering.

Stay right there.


[16:27:02] CABRERA: Welcome back. CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at seemingly threatening messages about longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone sent to a witness in the Russia investigation. Stone swapped texts and emails with Randy Credico. Now, Credico is a progressive political activist and radio host here in New York. Stone once claimed Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Now Credico has denied.

Here are some of the texts and one of them Stone tells Credico that he should tell Mueller to go F himself. In a series of emails, Stone seems to threaten Credico's dog and accused him of stabbing his friends in the back. Stone has dismissed these messages telling our Chris Cuomo, this was just some trash talk between long-time friends.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You take three text messages out of thousands really shows no context. These are the late night ravings between two grumpy old men who have been friends for almost 20 years.

And Chris, they are friendly, they are vulgar, they are vicious, they are nasty, they're ribald, but they're not serious. And therefore, they would have to be seen in context. So for example, you don't see the texts where you tells me that I should be willing to go to jail rather than reveal his identity as my source. You don't see the text where he says that my apartment is likely wired by the FBI. You don't see the text where I urge him repeatedly to tell the truth. You don't see the text where he said he is so heavenly medicated, he can't remember chronologically anything that happened.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Roger, please, offer up the text. I'm happy to take them.

STONE: You can --

CUOMO: I'm happy to have all of them.

STONE: You can cherry pick these, but it creates a misimpression.


CABRERA: Joining us now Sabrina Siddiqui, politics reporter from "the Guardian" and Michael Shear, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for the "New York Times."

So Michael, how significant is this Stone development?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, it fits in with the rest of the Stone dilemma for Bob Mueller, which is trying to figure out whether and how to take Roger Stone seriously. The question even more fundamentally than this exchange that you played is the question of whether or not Roger Stone is truly indicative of collusion in with Russians in the Trump campaign. Was Roger Stone really a kind of early warning system for what the Russians were going to release through WikiLeaks or was he just a boastful guy who was sort of pretending that he knew more about what was going to happen with WikiLeaks than really he did know. And that's what Mueller is trying to figure out, and the exchange you played is another example of this. We just don't know. As Stone himself just said in that interview, how seriously to take him.

CABRERA: Sabrina, the interaction with Credico though has also raised a question about witness tampering, right?

[16:30:01] SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Absolutely. I think that there has been many signals that Robert Mueller and his team are increasingly zeroing in on Roger Stone. There has been more than a dozen associates of Stone who had been contacted by the special counsel for an interview or to testifying before the grand jury. One of those individuals was Randy Credico. And to the fact that Roger Stone was essentially saying do not cooperate with Mueller and making what appear to be threats, that could be seen by Mueller seen both as potentially witness tampering as well as possible obstruction of justice.

But one of the things about Stone is that although he didn't play a formal role in the later stage of the Trump campaign, he is in many ways Donald Trump's longest serving political advisor. He has had the President's ear for several years now.

And so one of the questions would be one, did he serve as some kind of conduit between the Trump campaign and Moscow? And, two, what, if anything, did he tell people on the Trump campaign including then candidate Trump himself?

CABRERA: And then was there actual coordination in terms of disseminating a stolen email.

Michael, another person who was also close to the President who has been talking to Mueller is Michael Cohen. He has making headlines again telling "Vanity Fair" the President has this racist language in several private conversations with him. For example, Cohen says they were discussing turnout for one of Trump's 2016 campaign rallies, and quote "I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television. Trump responded. That's because black people are too stupid to vote for me."

Then there's this. He says after Nelson Mandela died, Cohen says Trump said name one country run by a black person where that's not an s-hole. Name one city.

So we all know Cohen isn't exactly the epitome of truthfulness. What's your take on Cohen's credibility here?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, I think Cohen has a lot of credibility problems, you know, and people have to assess whether these comments are part of a kind of retribution or revenge that he is taking against Donald Trump because that relationship has obviously gone sour.

But look, I think the most amazing thing here is that these comments, which are really incredible when lodged against a President really don't shock us because they are not the first time that these very kinds of charges have been made against this President.

We have reported in "the New York Times" last year about the President in a sort of racist rant in the oval office talking about how all Haitians have AIDS and that Nigerians didn't want to go back to their huts in Africa. Just a few months later after that there was another racist rant in the oval office with lawmakers in which he talked about African countries and called them s-hole countries. Same word that Michael Cohen suggests he used.

And so, I mean, what is really remarkable here is that it all fits into a pattern that really doesn't shock us anymore because we have seen it so often with this President.

CABRERA: Sabrina, Michael brings up a really interesting point. And it is not just in private. I mean, you have the President at rallies making remarks that some consider racist. On twitter as well putting out controversial comments. I mean, do you agree that it's maybe not even shocking anymore?

SIDDIQUI: Frankly, we come back to this conversation time and again where it's not just in private where we hear reports about what the President has said. He is someone who launched his candidate declaring that the majority of the immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico borders were rapists and killers. He (INAUDIBLE) coming to the U.S. and he said and I quote "Islam hates us."

Of course, there are comments that he has made about black candidates leading up to the midterms, including Andrew Gilum in Florida calling him a thief, saying Stacey Abrams, a gubernatorial candidate in Georgia was not at all qualified when she was a House minority leader in the state. Clearly, she had the qualifications even if they have policy differences.

So I don't think it's very surprising. But Michael Cohen, of course, chose to work for Donald Trump despite all of these comments that he allegedly made in private and, frankly, very forcefully defended Trump against allegations of racism.

So obviously, you have to take this with a grain of salt. Michael Cohen is someone who is facing mounting legal pressure. And he is on the sort of rehabilitation tour in the eyes of public opinion. But I think what this tells us is that Cohen having distanced himself so much from Trump and being willing to take him on publicly, that also gives us a picture of how much he may be cooperating with federal authorities and that is what had Trump and his team very concerned.

CABRERA: And Michael, we only have about 30 seconds, but just to follow-up on this. I mean, what is the impact of these messages? If you say it's not shocking anymore, I mean, are you saying that people just have become desensitized too and in some way he has normalized it?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, I think partly the election will help us determine how much this is impacting the public. This is sort of the public's first opportunity to register their feelings and we will see, you know, the President has used all this language both publicly and privately, and when voters go to the polls and they decide whether or not to endorse the President's party or not, part of their thinking is going to be do they endorse this kind of language. And I guess, you know, we will see in a couple of days what the answer is.


Michael Shear and Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you so much both for being here.

[16:35:01] SHEAR: Sure.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

CABRERA: Police in New York City have a man in custody right now. It's a hate crime arrest, and it is a sickening crime he allegedly did at a synagogue.

We are live from Brooklyn with the details next.


[16:39:52] CABRERA: Less than a week after 11 people were gunned down at anti-Semitic attack in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a man has now been arrested and charged with hate crimes in connection with an anti- Semitic message found in a Brooklyn synagogue.

The graffiti was found on four floors of the Union Temple Thursday night. These messages were written in black marker, including violent threats and Hitler references.

Mayor Bill de Blasio strongly condemned this attack.


[16:40:20] MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: We do not tolerate hate. We do not accept it in any form. We will never accept anti- Semitism in New York City. And we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters in this hour of real need.


CABRERA: CNN Jason Carroll is joining us now from Brooklyn.

Jason, what more do we know about this incident and the suspect?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, actually, we know a great deal about the suspect. James Blight. He is 26 years old. And part of that is because the "New York Times" just last year, last December did a profile on this young man talking about how he was in and out of homelessness, in the foster care system. And also, according to the "New York Times," he was very close to former city council speaker Christine Quinn. In fact, he was one of her interns at a certain point.

And if you can imagine, Ana, one of the things that he worked on while with her was on legislation dealing with hate crimes. And now he himself finds himself accused facing four counts of hate crimes, including criminal mischief for what he allegedly did here at the temple.

Surveillance video allegedly caught this young man on surveillance tape using this marker to write these vial hate-filled messages on the walls here at the temple including kill all Jews, and a reference to Hitler as well. The temple scheduled to hold a political event on Thursday. That was

canceled out of an abundance of caution.

Christine Quinn, herself weighing in on this. She released a statement saying, in part, I know this young man, and along with many others in the New York City council and social services agencies throughout the city have done everything I could over the years to help him as he grew up in and out of the foster care system, in and out of the mental health system, and in and out of homelessness. She also went on to say regardless of what kind of tough upbringing he had, his actions were quote "inexcusable."

The temple, while it was closed on Thursday, it was open for Friday services. And, again, on Saturday you saw the mayor attended the services here to stand in solidarity with members of the Jewish community.

As for polite, that suspect, Ana, he is being -- he is in a hospital the NYPD tells us being evaluated. They did not go into any more specifics about what type of evaluation he is currently undergoing -- Ana.

CABRERA: Disturbing situation there.

Thank you. Jason Carroll, for that reporting.

We will be right back.


[16:47:15] CABRERA: With three days to go until the midterms, the President could be bragging about the economy, he could be selling success, but instead, he is selling fear, panting a doomsday scenario of the country being invaded by immigrants.


TRUMP: These are tough people. These are not angels. These are not little angels.

Democrats want to have open borders. They want to invite caravan after caravan into our country, overwhelming your schools, your hospitals, and your communities.


CABRERA: The President's rhetoric and heated immigration debate, one of the topics tonight on a brand new "AXE FILES" featuring actor, activist, politician, and, yes, immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here's a preview.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So he wants to cut immigration in half, illegal immigration, as part of his program. You can't be enthused about that. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I believe

that we are a country that has been -- has become great because of immigration and because of immigrants that have worked very hard here and have contributed, and I'm all for people coming in here legally and working and filling the jobs. And if they would create immigration reform would actually expand the amount of people that come in here legally because we need them in farming.


SCHWARZENEGGER: We need them in construction. We need them in the restaurants. So there is a demand over there when you go south of the border here. There's a demand to come here. And there's a demand over here for those people to come here. So I mean, you have supply and demand. You have everything right there.


CABRERA: Joining us now, CNN senior political commentator and host of the "AXE FILES," David Axelrod.

David, obviously this issue, the issue of immigration, is deeply personal for Schwarzenegger. What struck you the most from your interview?

AXELROD: Well, what struck me most from the interview is why he is a former Republican politician and not a current Republican politician in the sense that he represents a wing of the Republican Party that is not the dominant wing right now. Donald -- the Republican Party is very much in the thrall of Donald Trump, and that is a party that's hostile to immigration. And the President is staking his midterm fortune on that very issue.

CABRERA: I thought it was interesting that he was speaking from the heart, but it wasn't an argument of compassion for humanity. It was more of an argument of the value of immigrants from more of an economic impact.

AXELROD: Yes. There's no question. That is the tactic he took. And he tends to be pragmatic. He is also a big proponent of climate action, against climate change. But he says the proponents have made a mistake by not fashioning it as a matter of pollution because pollution people feel in their lives. He has a very pragmatic approach as to how he makes presentations on that, but on the other score, there is no doubt that he is someone who was an immigrant to this country and has benefitted from this country. He feels strongly about the importance of immigration to people because he has lived it.

[16:50:36] CABRERA: David, this President started his political career by pedaling the racially charged conspiracy theory that the first African-American President was born in Africa. Here he is.


TRUMP: A lot of people feel it wasn't a proper certificate.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, SITUATION ROOM: His mother was a U.S. citizen born in Kansas. Was he a natural-born citizen?

TRUMP: Who knows? Who knows? Who cares right now?

I hope he was born. Because if he wasn't, it's the greatest scam in history. Not political history. In history.


CABRERA: David, do you feel like President Trump's rhetoric about immigrants comes from that same playbook as the attacks he used on President Obama?

AXELROD: Look, I think he views immigration as one of the major reasons that he is here. And he is going to ride that horse to as far it's going to take him. He saw a huge enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. And he has used this issue to whip up his base and close that gap.

CABRERA: And this issue of race being a driver for both parties has come into play. The President himself weighed in on the word, racist. Let's listen in.


TRUMP: And you know, the word racist is used about every Republican that's winning. Any time a Republican is leading, they take out the r-word, the racist word. I'm not anti-immigrant at all.


CABRERA: Are Democrats too quick to use the racist label on Republicans?

AXELROD: I don't think they were too quick or not just Democrats, but people generally. I'm not here as a spokesperson for the Democratic Party, but I would observe that people generally when you look at the commercial that the President released this week, the video that he released, that was fundamentally misleading and calculated to enflame racist sentiments.

You have to call it out for what it is. I mean, the President has no compunctions about pressing those buttons. That is not, you know, that doesn't indict every Republican running, although those who embrace those tactics have to wear the jacket for it.

CABRERA: I want to ask you about diversity in representation also when we look at our politicians in Washington, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi appeared on Colbert earlier this week on his show, and had this to say about Democrats' chances to take back the house.



STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Please don't say that. You want to say that on Hillary's fireworks barge that she canceled? Please don't say that.

PELOSI: We will win. We own the ground. We are not yielding one grain of sand.

COLBERT: And how long are the curtains that you are measuring right now?


CABRERA: So Pelosi made it clear. She thinks they are going to win back the House. She wants to be speaker again. Is it time for Democrats to support someone new? And how important would it be that a person of color?

AXELROD: Well, again, I'm not here to speak for the Democratic Party, but I will tell you that I think that --.

CABRERA: But as somebody who is deeply connected to the Democratic Party, I'm curious what your take is.

AXELROD: Yes. Look, I think that the leadership battle, if there is one, will be interesting. I think it will be determined by if Democrats win the House by the margin of that victory. If the margin is rather narrow, I think that is leader Pelosi will probably face a pretty determined fight. If it's larger she may not.

A lot of these candidates who are running first-time candidates, have run pledging not to support her, and she is aware of that. She had a difficult battle in that past.

I will say this, within those four walls, however, she is a master, and I saw it myself when I served in the White House. She is a very effective leader and she knows her caucus. I imagine she will do what she needs to to try to win that fight.

I was a little quizzical as to why she chose to spike the ball in the end zone on the Colbert show. I didn't think that was a particularly wise thing to do.

CABRERA: He then pushed back saying don't forget about Hillary Clinton's fireworks barge.

AXELROD: Exactly. I think he was right about that. But Nancy Pelosi is a tough competitor. She comes from a political family from the wards of Baltimore. Her father was mayor. Her brother was mayor. I asked her once on one of my "AXE FILES" what she learned by growing up in that family. She said I learned how to count. And so I think she knows how to count votes. And she knows how to count votes in precincts. And she knows how to count votes in the house. So I would not count her out.

[16:55:29] CABRERA: David Axelrod, always good to talk with you. Thank you so much.

AXELROD: Good to be with you, Ana.

CABRERA: A brand new "AXE FILES" featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger airs tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.

And just a reminder, CNN will have special election night coverage this Tuesday beginning at 5:00 p.m. eastern.

We will be right back.