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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Coverage of the 2018 Midterm Election; Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 4, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Chris Cuomo. A verdict is coming in 48 hours. Just two days.

We are going to know whether or not Trumpism is truly a mass movement. The President is banking that a special sauce of fear and loathing of migrants will bring out his folks across this country.

So if the Democrats sweep up House seats with anything like a wave, the Trump base is going to be seen as critics suggest, a minority. That is more about rallies than real impact.

The magic number is 23. That's the number of seats that the Democrats need in the House. It's only two in the Senate, but actually it's more likely that Democrats lose gain - gain ground, that's why we needed Sunday. We need some practice on these words.

So the Senate, we will talk to you about all that. We are going to break down the races that matter the most. Which seats might flip or might not and based on what.

And then we have this big ex-factor that people aren't really following, governors' races. Why do care about governor races? Because they may change the political landscape and the shape of the road to 2020.

Just two days, what do you say? Let's get after it.

Tongue tied, why, it is such trick you stuff. We are off to the races. More than 27 million people all across the country have already cast their ballots for the midterms. Some states are already approaching presidential levels of turnout. Good for you. Good for you for taking control of this process. This is what people have been asking for now half a generation.

So what do we see in terms of who is coming out most robust? Women, older voters, they are leading as demographics in the early vote. The former President and the current one are both digging in. They are making their final pitches trying to draw out young voters and independents. You know, they are the big x factor in so many elections these days.

So today, President Obama took a swipe at President Trump and the cloud over his White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They promised they were going to take on corruption in Washington. Instead, they racked up enough indictments to field a football team. No one in my administration got indicted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now he is going to feel it. Trump took the day to double down on fear about the caravan. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I called up the United States hill tear. We are not playing games, folks. Because you look at what's marching up, that's an invasion. That's an invasion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right. So where do these last-minute pitches in early votes leave us? What a gift for you on a Sunday night. We have S.E. Cupp, Dana Bash and Michael Smerconish. How lucky am I. Thank you for being here on a --.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sunday.

CUOMO: Let's talk some numbers, shall we? Let's put up where this early vote is. And it is impressive. This is great. Millions and millions and millions of dollars have been dumped into organizing by both parties. You know what? It's paying off. It's sad that we need that much money to kind of grease the gears, but whatever it takes.

All right. So, here are states that have surpassed their 2014 early vote counts, right. So Apples to apples. Midterms to midterms. You are looking at it there. All right.

Now let's give us the next look of where we see people showing up the most within that. Do we have that? All right. Well then we will guess at it. That's why I have the panel.

So what are we seeing in terms of where people are concentrating the numbers? Because that's -- there's a little red herring play which is showing the whole map, right. It doesn't matter if people are coming out everywhere. We applaud that. It's great for democracy with the big D. But in terms of where they are, that's all that matters.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, a couple things. Well, couple of things. I mean, early voters are often people who are going to have voted on Election Day any way. I think what it comes down to is whether or not you believe swing voters are real. If you believe swing voters are real, these are not swing voters. The people who are voting out early have already made up their mind. They have decided. They are excited. They have made their decision.

If you believe that swing voters are a myth, as I tend to do, I don't think anyone is really still deciding, they are deciding whether to go or stay home maybe, then I'm not sure that this is all that indicative, all that telling of what's about to happen.

Remember, Florida and North Carolina had huge early voting swings in 2016. That was supposed to be very good news for Hillary Clinton. She lost both states.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it used to be that early voting was indicative of big democratic as well as in voting. And it's not the case anymore because Republicans are in on the game and have been for a couple cycles.

You know, part of the sort of big surge in early voting is also that a lot more states are doing it. It is that the groups are being aggressive. The parties are being aggressive. People have been aggressive who are motivated. I totally agree with you.

CUPP: Yes. Right.

BASH: But it's also that it's just easier and it's more accessible than it used to be.

[21:05:02] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, MICHAEL SMERCONISH SHOW: It's indicative of which groups have passion going for them. But to both of these points, we have made it easier to vote, ever since voter but we have not really boosted turn out. So I expect that this will be a higher midterm election than the last in 2014, but I don't read too much into the numbers thinking, wow, we are going to outpace where we were in 2016.

CUOMO: What would shock you in turnout numbers?

SMERCONISH: I don't know. I would say something that's 125 percent of where we were in 2014. But it's a good barometer, you know, passion wins the day. It will really going to come out. So if you could delve more deeply into those numbers and know who those folks are, it will be an indicator of where passion is.

CUOMO: Now, looking at some of the data that has come, I didn't have it - apologize, I don't have it for you right now. But we do see that in the states that are going to matter in the House seats that we are looking at, you have pretty equal representation of robust turnout.

BASH: Exactly.

CUOMO: There are a couple outliers, but to your point, it is like both teams seem to know that this game matters a little bit more than other ones and they are coming out.

CUPP: They are. And that's, you know, that you could see us hurting some candidates, right. I'm sure Jon Tester, for example, would have appreciated --.

CUOMO: Huge turnout in his state, by the way.

CUPP: Yes. But I'm sure he would have appreciated the libertarian candidate endorsing his opponent maybe a little bit earlier. Now some of those votes are locked in. So it cuts both ways. Yes, there is passion, but when you vote early you might miss a last-minute reversal or some last-minute news.

CUOMO: Now, we saw that one of the things in the diagnosis, Dana and I were commiserating in the makeup room, when I was getting my highlights touched up. (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: I'm not giving you away your secret --.

CUOMO: At least it is transparency, you know. This is naive.

SMERCONISH: At least you have highlights.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Best hair in the business. I tell you every time I see you. My hair to be like that, it all be awesome.

So we were talking about what we got wrong last time. And I really make in fairness look, the popular vote went within the margin of error in the poll of polls. But select states, the more I have dug into it now over a couple years, what was got wrong I don't think can't be fixed. Which is we didn't have the ability to catch the person who is paying attention, who is triggered on something positive or negative, but who when approached says, no, I don't think I'm not going to vote.

BASH: That's right.

CUOMO: And that's what we saw in these states I don't really buy into this process and then close.

BASH: Go ahead and vote.

CUOMO: They say I have had it. I'm coming.

Yes. You can't catch that. I don't know that we catch it this time either.

SMERCONISH: No. And I think - in 2016 was a wakeup I will say for myself. That's for sure. But I think for a whole host of us to have some trepidation (ph) about all of this data crunching. We love it. We are junkies. But --.

CUOMO: We still got it wrong with Gillum.

SMERCONISH: Tuesday night.

CUOMO: So Gillum is running his race. My sister, full disclosure, she is a documentarian. She is on the ground covering Gillum as part of what happened with the Parkland kids. And she is saying this Gillum, he has got a lot of momentum on the ground. Can't win. He is at the bottom of the polls. Can't win.

BASH: Wait. Who is saying that?

CUOMO: My sister, Maria, saying to me, you know, he has got a lot of people following him at these different things more than when he shows up where other people have been, who are at the bottom of the polls. Can't win. Can't win. It's not going to be him. It's either going to be the mayor of North Beach or this other guy. Money has got it all locked up.

I was wrong. Gillum won, have taken it. Taking it by a lot. Why? They didn't capture voters who weren't sensitive to polling, but were sensitive to whatever is happening in that state.

CUPP: But it's a polling problem. It's a problem with the existing technology of polling. And just how tribal we have become. People are not always willing to tell people who they are going to vote for.

BASH: Right.

CUPP: And that goes on both sides.

BASH: Look. Right. So there's polling, which may be difficult, although I would argue that big picture polling was right in 2016 if you look at the popular vote versus the states, but - in the electoral map. But then there's that versus the data. And talking to Republicans who are some Democratic sources who are crunching the numbers, particularly the RNC, they have millions and millions of dollars in their what they call the voter vault and they are identifying these voters.

They feel like they have a pretty good handle on where these voters are even in the midterms because of this sort of logical study of these voters. And you know, they are making some quiet predictions.

CUOMO: Yes.

BASH: And it is --.

CUOMO: They are making a lot --.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: And what we were thinking, which is, you know, pretty well in the Senate, not so much in the House, for Republicans.

CUOMO: Right. But these cottage industries, you know, that have grown up around what happened in 2016, people are making fortunes on these midterm being paid by racists to try to help them fill in the unknown.

CUPP: Racists.

CUOMO: Racists, yes.

CUPP: Right. I just want to make sure.

CUOMO: Racists.

CUPP: (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: No, no, no. Lots of different races. They are bringing in money.

Trump. I want to play a piece of sound of him. Now he is doing things that were not anticipated here. The economy is so strong. You figure they go wrong on that. Some candidates are. He is not. And now he is not talking about the house anymore either. He is talking about the Senate. What's going on?

Let me play you a taste.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:10:14] TRUMP: I think we are going to do well in the House. But as you know, my primary focus has been on the Senate. And I think we are doing really well in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What? Since when has it been?

SMERCONISH: I think that the White House has made a calculated decision. A fact that they made it days if not weeks ago that the House is over and this whole nativist campaign, this whole strategy is intended because it's the suburbanites they lose when they talk about sending troops to the boarder. When they talk about birth right citizenship. I think it's a calculated decision. Otherwise, it's political malpractice to not be touting the economy at every opportunity. And he hasn't been doing that.

BASH: But he has been doing what he had just said. For the past two weeks, he's been focused almost singularly on the Senate. And the reason is not rocket science. It's because the turf, the political turf for the U.S. Senate is on Trump turf. It's Trumpland.

SMERCONISH: Right.

CUPP: Yes.

BASH: Every state where has been. Very friendly. And not just friendly --.

CUOMO: You think it is just the turf or you think it is going to be the most likely result? Is that he has got a much better chance of saying I opt to win.

BASH: He has the benefit of both things.

CUOMO: So he has got both.

BASH: He is more popular, talk to Republicans, he is more popular than the Republican candidate in the states where he is going. But it does have the inverse effect on these House Republicans. As excited as they are and they are on the Republican side to have the President come in and boost that turnout in these red states for the Republican candidates in the Senate, it is hurting these Republicans big time. It turns them off. Republican who is are working in those races don't think the President is giving the swing voters a reason to vote Republican.

CUPP: Well, this has been Paul Ryan's living nightmare.

BASH: Yes.

CUPP: Over the past two years, but especially compounded the past two weeks when you had birth right citizenship and call me a nationalist and all of this stuff that he knows very well turns off people like me. Suburban white college-educated, lean Republican women who would be inclined to vote for Republican but who are very turned off by that.

CUOMO: The nationalist thing doesn't work for you?

CUPP: That's not my bag, Chris. That's not my bag, baby.

CUOMO: But we are not using patriot. We are using (INAUDIBLE).

CUPP: Call me crazy. I happen to know what that word means. No, that is not my bag.

But Paul Ryan knows this used to be a mainstay, reliable voting bloc for Republicans.

CUOMO: Quiet for Ryan?

CUPP: And his nationalist push might come at the expense of voters.

SMERCONISH: Bu it's all calculated. It's very deliberate. He knows what he is doing. And I'm convinced that internally they said we can't maintain control of the House so this is what we are prepared to do. And by the way, look out if it works with regard to the Senate. Imagine what that means 2020 will look like at least through the eyes of the White House.

CUPP: A tripling down.

CUOMO: Look, correct. He is not wrong on the basic assumption that if you go negative, you wind up benefitting from it. That's as old as the political game itself.

What a great panel. Thank you very much.

You know, when we come back after the break, we are going to talk about why the governor's races are more important this time than ever before. Usually it's an eye roll. I don't think it is thus time. Thirty-six governorships are in play. And I think they could be the key to 2020.

And we are going to talk about why with somebody who understands the map very well in this. He is the head of the governors association. And that Tuesday that matter most right now.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:17:13] CUOMO: All right. Look. Let's keep it straight. This is all about what happens in Congress. Can the Democrats get to the magic number of 23 in the House and wind up being in control? They will be able to legitimate check on the President? Or are Republicans and more specifically Trumpism, going to rule the day?

Then you get to these governors' races. You have 36 coming up around the country. And you could make the case that you should be watching this just as much. Now I know that sounds a little weird, but they matter in ways big and small, especially in races like Florida and Georgia.

To discuss, we have the chair of the Democratic Governors Association and the governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee is with us right now.

Gov., good to have you.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON STATE: Yes. Nice to be in Atlanta tonight.

CUOMO: I know. It's very nice to have you there.

So gov., ordinarily, in this kind of midterm thing, you know, the governors' races, we watch down the races because they are potential power players. But we are not worried about them in the overall national calculus. You say not so fast. Why do the governors' races matter?

INSLEE: Look. The governors' races are central to democracy this year for three reasons. First, we know that this gerrymandering is really a pathology, it's an illness in our body politic. It has to be remedied. And the best way is to remedy it is to elect Democratic governors.

Those Democratic governors in those states that can veto gerrymandered maps, it can restore fairness in our democracy in the U.S. House of Representatives. It's pivotal that we elect Democratic governors simply to bring fairness.

But just in eight states, we have a group called unrig the map. That could be 27, 28 seats, They are rendered effectively fairer, meaning Democrats have a shot and Republicans have a shot, which is all we ask for, to restore balance in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Second, and this is important, people sort of failed to realize this. There's something I discovered. For all his tweets, for all his chaos, for all his unhinged actions in the White House, Donald Trump cannot stop Stacey Abrams for - here in Georgia from expanding health care. He cannot stop Andrew Gillum in Florida from working to stop the red tide. I was in Florida the other day and people are really concern about this.

CUOMO: Yes.

INSLEE: (INAUDIBLE) in the red tide. He can't stop that. He can't stop, you know, Wisconsin from Gretchen Whitmer from building roads and her theme is build the damn roads.

CUOMO: Right.

INSLEE: She can do that. And Trump can't stop this progress in the states.

This is the place America to make progress state by state. And we can be retarded (ph).

And the third reason, we can be a check on the President as well. On the Muslim ban, on his action to try to cut our funding for law enforcement, we can check that in court and otherwise.

[21:20:03] CUOMO: You also some cultural things - some cultural things also. You governors obviously have, you know, tremendous sway within your states. If Roe v. Wade does come up, if the conservatives do get what they want which is repealing or a mitigation, it falls to state. And then each state will make their own real culture statement about what is going to be allowed.

INSLEE: You can't count on the Supreme Court under the current conditions to protect your right to a woman's right of choice. My state was one of the first to recognize this right. And neither Donald Trump nor the Supreme Court will be able to prevent our state from recognizing this value statement of a woman's right of choice. So we will control our own destiny state by state, governor by governor and that's why the races are absolutely imperative.

CUOMO: And the districts are a big deal for people, you know. They all think that's done on a federal level, and then they realized it is done on the state level which the GOP certainly realized about 17 years ago when they started putting so much money in organizing into state legislature seats and wind up talking about 100 of them away from Democrats, made a big difference for them.

Let me ask you about two states in particular, Georgia and Florida. Do you believe that you win one or both of those tonight?

INSLEE: Well, we are very competitive in both. Spectacularly gifted candidates, Stacey Abrams, great leader in her legislature. Kind of rescued the hope scholarship. Help get an infrastructure bill. She think they can't build a birdhouse in D.C. and she helped get a big infrastructure package. She blocked, you know, some tax hikes for the middle class. Really talented person.

Andrew Gillum, who has done fantastic work standing up to the NRA, recognizing climate change. You know, Republicans don't even want to say the word climate change. I was in Miami Beach the other day where they are having to raise the streets because they are under water. So we got two candidates offering people solutions. And that's working big time. So I'm excited. But I have been on the ground. You can't believe the enthusiasm. They are just packing people in. And I'm really happy to see it.

CUOMO: President Trump is linking the two candidates as well in an interesting way. I want your take on it. Let's play it for the audience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: She is not qualified to be the governor of Georgia. Not qualified.

Andrew Gillum is not equipped to be your governor. He is just not equipped. It's not for him. It is not for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: You know, we are looking for him talking about any other candidates in this way. Not saying they stay in (INAUDIBLE) the way he usually talks about people, evil, enemy, whatever. Not equipped, doesn't have the talent, can't handle it. Do you think there's a connection to the kinds of candidates that he is using that type of language with?

INSLEE: It's amazing to me a Republican leader can't open their mouths without saying something that's a dog whistle. And we have seen that with the very first thing that Desantis said the Republican in Florida was talking about monkey business against his opponent Andrew Gillum.

And by the way, this President is the last person in the world who is going to give us advice about who is qualified and who is not. I would expect the next thing he would say was, well, that candidate isn't honest like I am.

No, I don't think this is going to get him very far. And this is why we are so competitive in these races. Look. A lot of people wrote off Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum. The people are not. And I will tell you what? Who is effective or not?

Stacey Abrams is effective enough to bring health care to 500,000 people in Georgia. Donald Trump hasn't lifted a finger for them. And in fact, he has threatened their coverage if they are preexisting conditions.

And I will tell you, I have been going around the country - Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, and these Republicans all have something in common. They understand that they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar in this preexisting condition issue. They have threatened coverage for preexisting conditions.

CUOMO: Right.

INSLEE: You know, I talked about (INAUDIBLE) the other day and DeWine, the Republican candidate for governor in Ohio. They have preexisting conditions.

CUOMO: Right.

INSLEE: And that's their record. Their record is a sad preexisting condition. And they can't run or hide from it. So we are going to elect a lot of governors just on that issue. People are very concerned about health care. It united all of us. The closest thing to our family security is our health. And I think we are on the right side of history on this.

CUOMO: It is hard. Because politically, they can make the case that certain of the bills would have protected preexisting conditions, but that lawsuit that they had the federal government join with some states to enable states to not cover preexisting conditions, that speaks very loudly as well.

INSLEE: You bet.

CUOMO: Governor Inslee, thank you so much for the perspective.

INSLEE: Thank you. Don't forget to vote.

CUOMO: I won't. Thank you, sir.

All right. Many Republicans have been running on the strength of the economy, but the President says that's boring. And what works better is fear. Is he right? A great way to start the great debate, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:29:00] CUOMO: Just one of the interesting things that takes place is a matter that during the legends, so much talk about the economy, so much concentration on it. The President has wanted you to believe so much it's the best ever. And then, en as he gets closer to Election Day, the closer he gets, the less he talks about it. The more he banks on making people afraid of what these migrants represent.

Half of the voters want Democrats to take control of Congress, 43 percent support Republicans. So, you know, it's pretty close what is going on here right. Is he going to help or hurt with his very dramatic play?

Let's take that to the great debaters. Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes.

Ana, I read with great interest, your statement about why for the first time you are voting for a non-Republican for the governor of your home state in Florida. You are going for Gillum.

Now the President has a very specific brand of his attack on Gillum. He keeps saying he is not equipped. He is not up to this. And he is then doubling up with his - and he is going to let in all of the terrible people who are coming. They are going to overrun places like Florida. You are going to pay the price. Do you think he is making a savvy political play?

[21:30:13] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. He is making the same political play. He is making the same political play that he made in 2016. And that won him Florida in 2016.

But you know, to - here in Florida, I was just at an early voting place, the contrast is so great, right. There's a campaign that is being run on fear, fear-mongering, division, hostility, gloom and doom, the end of the world is coming. The alien invasion is coming, build the wall, despite the fact we are a peninsula surrounded by waters who are on three sides.

And on the other side you have happy warriors trying to inspire, trying to unite, trying to offer ideas, talking about happy things and a brighter future. That's the choice in front of Florida right now.

I don't know how it's going to end up. I hope Floridians reject the politics of division. I hope they reject the lies, the demagoguery, the talk of Andrew Gillum is going to turn Florida into Venezuela, which could not be a bigger lie and I bigger cheapening of the trauma and suffering that the Venezuelan people are suffering right now are living proof under the hands of a murderous dictator who killed and beat his political foes.

CUOMO: Steve, why aren't you a happy warrior?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR. I am a very happy warrior. And listen, that employment report that we got just this past Friday, Chris, I worked on Wall Street for over two decades. I can't recall a report that robust, that wonderful on every possible facet, at least since the 1990s. So this country is growing like we haven't grown since the 80s and 90s. Wages are flying.

To me, it's not a matter of we can either talk about that or talk about immigration and the border. Why can't it be both? It should be both and. And by the way --.

CUOMO: Not by the President.

CORTES: Well, I think it should be both. And they are related, I believe, too. One of the reasons, I believe, firmly that working class wages has stagnated and in the past and are now accelerating, blue collar wages are now rising even faster than white collar wages. They are both doing great. The blue collars doing better. The Hispanics are doing better than whites.

I think one of the key reasons is we are not flooding this country anymore with a million illegal workers a year. That's not just national security policy. It's also a terrible economic policy. So getting control of our borders is very much linked to our economic prosperity. So to me --.

CUOMO: I can see how you can make the case. You, mean, you can make an economic case and a lot of the candidates are, but not the President. He believes something different is compelling. And I really think that, you know, we have to give it some air because he is making a very different play and he is the head of your party.

Here's how he described in terms of why he is not talking about the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They all say speak about the economy. Speak about the economy. Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy, right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: See? Now by exciting --.

NAVARRO: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: It does not gin people up. It doesn't fill people with angst and distress and drive them to the polls because they are scared of what's going to happen next.

You know, it's amazing how transparent Donald Trump is in some of these moments. When he tells us, you know, this bomb stuff has distracted us from talking about politics. This economy stuff is boring. Look. It's perplexing that he doesn't go out there and say, I have given you two Supreme Court justices, we have passed a tax reform bill, the economy is good, promises made, promises kept. He has a positive message to run on if that's what he wanted. But he has clearly made a choice and the choice is scare to be Jesus, out of voters because that's going to drive them in droves to the polls and it's a much more effective tactic.

CORTES: If you actually watch his rallies than just cherry pick, you will see that he absolutely talk abos about the economic growth message. And look, I think when he said it's boring, he was being funny. The President is a very funny guy. He knows it is not boring. Economic growth.

CUOMO: Right after he said that, Steve, he moved on and talked about the migrants, not the economy.

CORTES: I believe both are going to win for us.

And by the way, it's not fear-mongering to talk about the need for real border control. We have tens of millions, depending on what study you believe, in the tens of millions, of illegal immigrants in this country, illegal aliens residing here. That's not OK. The President was crystal clear about that as a candidate in 2016. It's clearly part of his mandate.

CUOMO: But being here illegally doesn't make you a murder, doesn't make you a gang banger, doesn't make you a drug dealer, and that's how he talks about these people in the Maine. And it's inaccurate and it's ugly and we know why he is doing it.

[21:35:01] CORTES: No, no, no. But there are some who are, Chris.

CUOMO: Some, yes.

CORTES: And what do the Democrats want to do, people like Gillum? Since we are talking about him earlier. He wants to eliminate I.C.E. He wants to make Florida a sanctuary state. He wants to bring San Francisco values to Florida. And that won't work. And I think it's one of the reasons he is going to lose. Because political correctness sometimes isn't just dumb. It can be deadly.

CUOMO: But why don't you guys -- let me ask you something.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Go ahead, make your point.

NAVARRO: First of all, Andrew Gillum does not want to eliminate I.C.E. This is actually an issue I talked to him about. It's a Republican talking point. I think he would like to see I.C.E. change and I think he would like to see the focus be on deporting criminals.

But listen. For the last ten day, we have seen a President that has lied about the caravan. Said that caravan is full of Middle Easterners, code for terrorists. Is sending thousands and thousands of unnecessary troops to a border when the caravan is almost 1,000 miles away. Has put out a racist ad demonizing immigrants over and over again. Is talking about eliminating birthright citizenship. It does not take a genius to figure out that what he is doing is just milking the hell out of the immigration issue as a wedge issue. Rising up racism, rising up distress and angst over the invasion of the brown people coming from the south. God help us.

CORTES: Hold on. No. I would let you get away with that. Because listen, if America were a white nation, and we refused to have immigrants who were brown, then you would be on to something. But that is not the case. We are a multiracial, multi ethnic, amazing democracy.

NAVARRO: Funny that all his ads demonizing people are not about people that came through the Canadian border.

CORTES: And we have a right to defend our borders. And we have a right to decide who should come in not based on color, based on their skills, on their love of our values and our constitution. And that's what Trump wants. And that's what we haven't had though, Chris.

Here's the thing. We have tolerated if not encouraged illegal immigration for decades in this country because it worked for elites. It worked Democratic elites who wanted votes and amnesty. It worked for Republican elites who wanted --.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: They wanted cheap labor.

CUOMO: Then your cheap laborers. And you don't go after those people because they are your buddies. And you demonized the workers.

CORTES: Listen, I'm saying that both sides, Republicans and Democrats, were to blame. The President saw this and stepped into that gap in 2016 and said we are going to get control of immigration in this country. It doesn't make sense.

CUOMO: But we can do that and he doesn't have to talk about these people. You know what? If you really wanted to round all these people up and deal with sanctuary cities, put a ton more money into I.C.E. and enforcement and then you wouldn't have to use the local authorities the way you do. But he is playing a different game. He's playing a game.

CORTES: Look, I don't see it that way.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I got to go.

CORTES: Because you come from the presupposition that he is racist.

CUOMO: No, I don't. Don't cheapen the logic of what he does. Just follow what he says, when he says it and why he says it. Make your own judgment. I will never have to --.

NAVARRO: I think he's racist. He called Mexicans and criminals and rapists.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Sign me up in the category of people who think he is racist. He's said so many racist things.

CORTES: When you don't want to talk policy, you call him a racist.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We got to go. We'll take it up again after the election.

NAVARRO: The Central Park Five. Mexicans are rapists - criminals and rapists. El Salvador and Haiti are shit-holes. He is a racist pig.

CUOMO: Yes. Ana --.

CORTES: He is a racist. He is the worst one ever because minorities are thriving under his leadership.

CUOMO: Ana, I don't have enough time to list all the things that bother people about what he said about minorities.

NAVARRO: God. Neither do I. We got a sweep (ph).

CUOMO: Thank you for coming on to make the case, Ana, as always. Thank you very (INAUDIBLE).

All right. So one of the things you can take away from that it just absolutely true is the President could be making a different case than the one he is making, OK. But he doesn't choose to do that. And he could pick polls that say good things about him. But then he doesn't choose to do that. Instead, he wound up making something up today. Why?

We are going to talk about to somebody who is in a very big race in the middle of this country. He is running for Senate and he has endorsed by the President. You are going to talk to Mr. James. He is in a big race. He is going to make the case for the President and himself, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:43:14] CUOMO: All right. This morning, the President tweeted new FOX poll shows 40 percent approval rating by African-Americans for President Trump. A record for Republicans. Thank you. Great honor.

Also great exaggeration. To be clear there's no such FOX poll. It seems this is a reference to this very questionable outlet that was featured in a FOX News segment earlier in the day.

Let's bring in John James. He is Michigan's Republican Senate nominee. Welcome to prime time. Good luck to you and thank you for being on the show, Mr. James.

JOHN JAMES (R), MICHIGAN SENATE NOMINEE: Hey, Chris. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right. So this is a little bit of a fact getting in the way. You are not here just to play council of the President tonight. I want to talk to you about you and your stuff. But he is talking I think about a (INAUDIBLE) and tracking poll. We don't use them. They are not seen as a reputable outfit. He said it was FOX. He was wrong. The Gallup poll has him at about 13 percent approval with African-Americans. Do you believe that his approval among blacks is anywhere near 40 percent?

JAMES: Well, I can only speak for the people who I'm talking with in the state of Michigan. And to be honest with you, there are folks who love him and there are folks who hate him in Michigan.

But when I go to NAACP, their then I get pulled aside and people are saying that they are excited to finally have a conservative to vote for. I went to a Pistons game and I was pulled aside by a guy, an African-American in the street who was selling tickets and who said he was voting for me.

Now, I can only speak to my experiences, but I think people are excited to have somebody who has experience both in combat and in business bringing people together to accomplish tough missions.

CUOMO: Yes. Thank you for your service. Mr. James is a veteran. Look. You are not a hard core Trumper. Correct me if you want. But you know, you cast yourself as Independent. I did some good research on what you say and what you don't. You have never called yourself a nationalist. You would say you love your country. You would say you put your blood on the line for your country, but you wouldn't call yourself a nationalist. You wouldn't call the media an enemy. How do you support the President and not call out that kind of talk?

[21:45:16] JAMES: I recognize and realize that this race for me and for the state of Michigan is not about the President. The only two people on this ballot of concern is me and senator Stabenow. And finally, getting somebody who can -- I'm not here to speak for the President. I'm not here to speak for African-Americans. I'm here to speak for myself and people are excited here because I don't have a black and white message. I have a red, white and blue message. And my priorities are God and country, in that order. And I'm capable of disagreeing with the President without attacking him and agreeing with him without worshipping him.

I believe that's the balance that we need of the floor of U.S. Senate, to make sure that Congress is operating as a separate, distinct and equally powerful branch of government, to provide check and balance. Not all check.

We need balance in the floor of the U.S. Senate. And I have the leadership and ability to make sure I'm working with anyone who can get resources back to the state. And that's what my focus is on the state of Michigan.

CUOMO: Fair point that it's not red or blue. It should be red, white and blue. Respect the line. Respect the idea. But don't you think that the constituents there, especially those who supports Stabenow, one of the reasons they support here is that they believe that she will stand up to the President of the United States and say, don't say you are a nationalist on my watch. That's not what we are about here. We are not about that ugly talk about immigrants. We are not about that.

You can secure the border and not say that you have an invading horde of demons coming your way. Would you do the same?

JAMES: I will stand up to the President when I need to defend the constitution of the United States and the interests of the state of Michigan. I will work with the President and stand with the President when it comes to defending our constitution and protecting Michigan.

Look. I'm an independent thinker. And I love everyone. And I really loved your segment when you brought up Thomas Mortons (ph) and you talked about Kipling and you talked our fathers. And recognizing that we need to have more compassion and we need to have more inclusivity of thought. And I think everybody can learn from those great scholars. And I'm looking forward to bringing my passion for service to bear, my understanding of both the military and my understanding of the business to make sure that all Michiganders can have the opportunity to see the American dream.

CUOMO: What do you say to people who have it's worked, they are afraid of the migrants who are coming. They think somebody is going to kill them. They think somebody is going to rape somebody. They think that they are coming in here to do terrible things. You have militias running down to the border. Many of them are going to come armed and they are going to come ready to do what they see as defending the country. What do you say to those people?

JAMES: I say that legal immigration is an economic and moral imperative for this nation. And this is where career politicians have failed all Americans. And not getting common sense constitutional compassionate immigration reform done. We must secure our borders. But we have to consider that folks who are coming up here for a better life, we need to also consider the people who are here who are also looking for a better life. We need people who will get things done for Michigan and for the country. And Senator Stabenow has been in a position to do something about this for 20 years in Washington and 18 years as a senator.

We can't wait is six more years to get these solutions. We need to get them now. And I'm willing to work with anyone and everyone to get balanced and to get effectiveness back in Washington to benefit the country and the state of Michigan.

CUOMO: John James, you are in a tough race. Good luck to you. Thank you for coming on the show. Appreciate it. And thank you for your service.

JAMES: It's an honor, sir, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Be well.

All right. So you heard something that I just mentioned there about who is heading down to the border supposedly in the name of defending this country. Could there be that it is an invasion coming? But if not, those who are coming towards the border from the south. It is those who are moving down from the north. What do you make of these militias? Should we be concerned? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:51:46] CUOMO: You may not be buying the talk from the President about fear and loathing and all these monsters in our midst coming from the southern border but a lot of people believe it. There's a militia group called the Texas minutemen. They are headed to the Mexican border awaiting the arrival of the migrant caravan. You have about 100 to 250 armed civilians. They say they want to help patrol the border after Trump warned of an invasion.

Now, this isn't a new phenomenon. Militia members flock to the border, you know, on and off. We saw in the 2014 immigration crisis, caused headaches for the real border patrol. That year border patrol agents mistakenly fired at two militia members. No one was hurt. Thank God.

Let's bring in D. Lemon.

Look. They hear the talk, they are afraid. And they want to go down there and it is very complicated.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: They are afraid. A group of guys with guns are afraid of people with, you know, flip-flops and --

CUOMO: That's not what they think they are. They think they are coming, they are invading, they are coming in, there are a lot of killers, they are terrorists, they are gang members.

LEMON: Fist of all, let's be honest. That's not true. Listen, there are criminal elements in all groups, yes, right. And of course, we want people to abide by the laws of this country but are we expecting people that we are expecting them to be better than the folks who are already here? Because people who are in American already, people were born in America actually commit most of the crimes. People who are -- .

CUOMO: Hundred percent.

LEMON: Immigrants don't use a - commit as much crime.

CUOMO: Illegal immigrants, illegal entrants especially because they want to stay low on the radar.

LEMON: Yes. But why do you need that? Why do you need it? Especially you just said in 2014 that border patrol agents actually shot at these militia members.

CUOMO: By mistake.

LEMON: By mistake. But can you imagine just for - can you imagine just any group of people just showing up and then put those people in different ethnicities, make them all white? What do you think reaction was? Make them all Hispanic. Or most, what do you think the reaction would be. Make them all African-American. You see a whole group of people -- I would imagine they are mostly men. I maybe generalizing here. But just imagine that. How do you think people would react to that? People openly carrying guns at our border --

CUOMO: I think the less white they are, the more menacing that they would see that people, especially, down along there. But you are getting a mix of reaction. You have land owners saying do not come on my land. You don't represent me. You have an absence of hearing anything from CBP, Custom and Border Patrol. You don't hear anything from the military. They are not asking for any help. And the question is what can you do? Here is my concern. Would you go down there?

LEMON: Get the President to stop with the rhetoric.

CUOMO: No, no, no. That we can do in a heartbeat. I'm say you go down to the border. You want to help. You are worried. You see people crossing illegally. What are you going to do? You can call CBP? But what if you want to do that? What if you want to approach them and you say, hey, you are not supposed to be walking. You have no color of authorities. You cannot touch that person. You cannot do anything to that person. But then what happens if they get upset and they go like this and you are sitting there with a weapon? You know, I'm just worried about these scenarios.

LEMON: But you are making the point they shouldn't be there. If you actually respect law enforcement, if you are worried, and I would imagine the people who are going, the militia members are probably mostly conservative. If you respect law enforce. The way that you profess, then you allow them to do their jobs. You don't step in. You don't try to do their jobs. You don't put other people or yourself in harm's way.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: I think that the law enforcement are professionals, the people whose job it is to protect the border, that they are going to do a good enough job. You don't think that thousands of members of the military know what they are doing and can handle themselves? That's a problem.

[21:55:11] CUOMO: Hundred percent. How are you going to take it on tonight?

LEMON: We are going to talk about that. We are also going to talk about Georgia and what Kemp is saying now talking about hacking the system or whatever. Unfounded claims. Showed no evidence.

CUOMO: I saw the Democrat, the head of the party was on with Anderson and said it's a made up story. There's no proof. We want them to give us proof, they won't talk to us. We get nothing.

LEMON: The question is, if you are saying that someone had the ability to hack your system, you are the secretary of state. Isn't that your job?

CUOMO: Conflict.

LEMON: It is a conflict but isn't it your job to protect the voting system.

CUOMO: It is, 100 percent.

LEMON: So what are you saying? You are not doing job?

CUOMO: Well, he is saying I don't want to talk about what you say about voter suppression.

LEMON: Are you saying you can't win unless you come up with a bogus claim?

CUOMO: It's a conflict.

Anyway, he is doing so well, you know what? I'm going to end my show so that he can keep going.

In Georgia, as Don is telling you, the secretary of state who is also the Republican candidate for governor is now accusing the Democrats. We are not making this up. This is a real thing that someone who is running for office there are saying belies the integrity of the system. Is there any proof and isn't this a conflict of interest? The answer is yes. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)