Return to Transcripts main page


NYT Poll: Iowa Race Tightens as GOP Rep. King Faces Controversy; 35 Senate Seats at Stake Tomorrow; CNN Poll: Health Care and Immigration are Top Issues for Voters. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 5, 2018 - 10:30   ET



JOHN SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yet, you're still losing in this district here. Explain how that's possible.

J.D. SCHOLTEN (D), IOWA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's complicated. There's not one thing about it, but we all know him through his headlines outside the district, but in the district, it doesn't always resonate or it doesn't always penetrate. So, there's a lot of people who just vote for him because he's the Republican and there's 70,000 more Republicans than there are Democrats. But there's also as many independents as there are Republicans. And so, that's where we're really focused on for the last 15 months, really trying to talk to those folks, and everything we're seeing, it's going to come down to the wire.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because it's a question we often ask. We were just discussing it is in these races, as you're talking to constituents, are they telling you that their voting issue is, for instance, the rhetoric of Steve King or even the president's behavior and rhetoric? Or are they saying to you, listen, for me, it's about health care, for me, it's about tariffs on farm products. Of course, a key issue in the state of Iowa. What are they saying to you by and large as their voting issue this year?

SCHOLTEN: Well, and that's the thing. For the last 15 months, we have gone out there three different times to all 39 counties. It's a pretty big district. And the last time we did it, we did a town hall in all 39 counties. And we had a lot of great dialogue. And we talk about health care. And when we had our farm forums over the summer, as much as we're talking about tariffs or as much as we're talking about market consolidation or low commodity prices or the price of beans, we talk about health care because farmers need that.

And so, all the other stuff tends to be a negative and kind of white noise, where our campaign has been very disciplined, very focused on the issues. And that shows the contrast. And that's one of the things about King. He gets all these headlines and that's - and for years people would say, oh, that's just Steve being Steve, like that weird uncle. But what we're seeing now are people are fed up. And we're seeing like he's not on the farm bill conference committee. The group that dictates what the farm bill is, and that's the negative impact in the district on his rhetoric. SCIUTTO: So let me ask you this. We know that some corporations actually in the wake of his rhetoric have pulled their sponsorship, their donations to him. We were curious, have they turned around and given that money, donated it to your campaign?

SCHOLTEN: They have not but that's OK because we don't take corporate - we took a pledge to not take any corporate PAC money because our campaign has been about the people. And we've been the small grassroots campaign that has continued to grow and grow and grow. That's how you have seen a campaign that's gone from 20 points down a year ago to 10 points down to 6 points down to we're within single digits and we had last Monday came out we were within one point.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because we have heard this from some Republicans. My colleagues have heard this in the field. An exhaustion with some of these national issues, an exhaustion with hearing about the president's rhetoric, et cetera. When you speak to voters, what do they say is the voting issue for them this year?

SCHOLTEN: A lot of it is change, because a lot of the fourth district, regardless if you're Democrat or Republican or a non-party voter, you're frustrated with what's happening in D.C. And the amount of special interests and self-interest that dictates our Democracy, people are done with that. People want people to go, elected officials to go to D.C. to fight for them, and that's what our campaign has been all about from day one, and that's what they have been able to jump on.

SCIUTTO: J.D. Scholten, running tomorrow. Thanks for taking the time with us.

SCHOLTEN: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: President Trump focusing on key states with tight Senate races in particular. This ahead of tomorrow's midterms. Republican seem on track to keep their majority there, but do Democrats have a path to victory? We're going to explore that after this.


[10:38:33] SCIUTTO: President Trump wraps up his last-minute campaign blitz tonight in Missouri, campaigning for Republican Senate candidate there Josh Hawley. Hawley locked in a very tight race with the Democrat Claire McCaskill. Missouri, one of 35 Senate seats at stake in tomorrow's midterms.

CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston joins us now live. So, Mark, Missouri key for Republicans maintaining control of the Senate, and also a place where President Trump can make a positive difference?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It really is a place where you think he can make a difference, Jim. That's why we're going to see him there tonight as well as see Sean Hannity from Fox News as well as Rush Limbaugh, the very famous, the very boisterous talk radio show host. But as we're talking about Missouri, let's talk about the whole race as a whole as we're looking at it. Right now, this is where we stand. We're at 49/51 right now, but this is the real number we're going to start tonight on 45/49. Six seats are going to determine whether or not Democrats take back control or the Senate or Republicans are able to hold on to it.

First, we go to Missouri as you were talking about right there. We have Claire McCaskill and Josh Hawley. This is a neck and neck race right now. What's interesting about this is when we talk about Donald Trump and his influence on elections, Donald Trump won Missouri by 19 points in 2016. So the Hawley people feel good about that. Keep on looking all across the Midwest. It's the Donald Trump influence, Jim, that we think can help certain candidates in this election, specifically in the Senate.

SCIUTTO: So., other key bellwethers is in the Senate or really battlegrounds, rather.

[10:40:02] You've got Texas, you've got Nevada, Tennessee, and Florida, and they're all close heading into tomorrow.

PRESTON: Yes. They absolutely are as well. Look down in Florida right now. You have a governor running against an incumbent senator in Bill Nelson, this race right now up for grabs. We also, as you head out, even in Texas right here, where we think that Ted Cruz is going to win re-election, we have seen Beto O'Rourke run a campaign that we haven't seen a Democrat run in the past and has run so successfully. So, even a loss there, if it's close, will keep it close, Jim.

And then of course, as we're looking across, there are so many races, Indiana as well. Trump won this by 19 points. Democrats feel good about Joe Donnelly holding on. But we'll see what happens. Then of course, out west, we have Nevada and Arizona.

SCIUTTO: OK. So big picture here, of course, conventional wisdom is Dems, better chance of taking the House, Republicans better chance of keeping the Senate. Because that's conventional wisdom, we should probably dispense with it, but big picture as you look at the final numbers heading into tomorrow, how does the battleground look for the Senate, Republican versus Democrat?

PRESTON: Well, let me just take through it very, very quickly. Of course, this is all based upon assumptions so who knows if this is going to happen, but we think that this is a good indication right here. Let's assume Florida goes Democrat. That's good news for the Democrats, Jim. Up to Tennessee, this would stay Republican. Look at this now, 46/50.

When we head up to Indiana, let's assume Democrats are right, Joe Donnelly wins. Democrats feel good. They're up at 47 now. We go to Missouri where, of course, Donald Trump is tonight. Let's assume Josh Hawley pulls that out 47/51. And then of course, we get out west. Now, Jon Ralston who is the big handicapper in Nevada, he believes that Jacky Rosen, the Democrat, is going to beat the incumbent Dean Heller. Let's give them that. Look at the number is at 48, but look, the bottom line is you come right over here and you take Arizona. Is that is going to go for Martha McSally, look how close we are right now, 52/48, right now but Republicans still maintain control.

SCIUTTO: A lot of reasons to watch tomorrow night. Mark Preston thanks very much.

PRESTON: Thanks..

A new CNN Poll shows the top issues for voters right now are immigration and health care. Are Democrats worried that the president's hard-liner stance on immigration will drown out their own message?


[10:46:38] SCIUTTO: Fewer than 24 hours until voters hit the polls. A big question, are Democrats taking seriously enough President Trump's ability to close the deal at crunch time for GOP candidates?

Joining me is Sarah Dady. She's a Democrat running to represent the 16th District of Illinois. Thanks very much for taking the time this morning. I should note for our viewers' sake, you're an immigration attorney. So you have particular experience in this space. Tell us what you think of President Trump's rhetoric and how he's describing immigrants with particular attention to the migrant caravan.

SARAH DADY (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, good morning. And thank you for having me on.

I am an immigration attorney. I have now practiced under three presidential administrations, and honestly, immigration should be the least controversial topic in this country. There's broad bipartisan support to fix our broken, dysfunctional system, but because it makes for such good campaign rhetoric, we have a Congress that has failed repeatedly to just fix the problem.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because health care, a particular issue for you and also one in many districts, it's right up there with immigration in CNN's polling as to the number two top voting issues for voters in the cycle. You have particular experience because of your mother, what she went through. Tell us what case you're making to voters and how they're responding to it this cycle.

DADY: Well, my mother died from a preventable illness because she was uninsured and didn't have access to the care she needed. I'm also an employer, and I see how our multi-payer private insurance system is eating away at my employees' paychecks and my own small business profit margins. It's unsustainable for any small business. So you know a more efficient use of the money we already pay in is to have a Medicare for all system in this country. It would make our workforce more competitive and take the burden of health care off the backs of employers and employees. It's common sense.

SCIUTTO: Who would pay for it and what would it cost taxpayers to pay that enormous bill? DADY: We're already paying for it. We pay $3.5 trillion a year now, so it's not about paying new money. It's about redirecting the money that we already pay into a more efficient, cheaper system that will cover everyone. And in fact, over the next ten years, we would save $2 trillion over what we pay now under a single-payer system.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this big picture as a final question here, because there's been a lot of criticism from your party of President Trump's message, calling it divisive, focused on immigration, a message of fear, et cetera. But there's also been frustration. We heard this even from Democrats in the field about what their party's message is beyond we're not that guy. So crystallize for us what is your sales pitch to voters in these final hours. What distinguishes you and your party in 2018?

DADY: Look, the Democratic Party has always stood up for working families. And that's what we do. This all comes down to wage issues. Health care comes down to a wage issue. Wages have stagnated for three years. The cost of everything, including health care, goes up, but our paychecks don't get bigger. This is what's causing economic anxiety. We have a president who speaks very violently and then seems surprised when people react violently.

[10:50:04] I think a lot about Harry Truman and his sign on his desk that says the buck stops here. We have a president that will not take responsibility for any of his negative actions. That's unacceptable. I'm running against an opponent who is absent from our district. He's not responsive to constituents, and has refused 17 invitations for a public debate this election cycle. People want accountability in government. That's something that we hunger for, especially in my district. And we don't have it now. So tomorrow is our opportunity to elect people that will be accountable to the people they're supposed to represent.

SCIUTTO: Sara Dady, running Congress in the 16th District of Illinois. Thanks very much for taking the time. Joining me now -

DADY: Thank you for having me on.

SCIUTTO: Good to have you on.

Joining me now is Sara Dady's opponent, the incumbent Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Congressman, thanks very much to you as well for taking the time this morning in these final hours.


SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, you first about this big picture, because it is so dominated the discussion from the president's perspective as he's been going state to state, delivering this Republican Party closing argument as it were, this focus on immigration, this focus on the migrant caravan, the descriptions, the fear, the deployment of troops to the border. I wonder in your view, is that helping or hurting your party in the midterms tomorrow?

KINZINGER: You know, midterms, we'll see that tomorrow. I'm not sure. I think the president has pointed out something that if people don't understand that this is a real concern, I think the caravan, whether it shows up tomorrow or it shows up in a month, I think shows the broader issue which people are concerned about, which is you have folks who that fleeing, in essence demanding, going through Mexico where they should be declaring asylum, and basically demanding that they seemingly have a right to live in the United States.

And we look at this and we say look, we're the most generous country in the world. There is no doubt about that. Not only do we house people that are migrants and immigrants and not only do we have a pretty generous immigration system. We also have gone to war to protect people in other lands because of our concern for human rights.

So this idea where you see some on the left making it look like we're a cold-hearted country that just doesn't care and hates anybody that is not currently in the United States is wrong. So you're seeing some of that anger and some of that disaffection from folks saying look, quit saying we aren't generous. We're generous. We just don't think people should all be able to come here in a 10,000-person caravan and just walk in.

SCIUTTO: But let me ask you a question because as you know, even your opponents are not saying that the 10,000-person caravan should walk right in. I want to ask you as a veteran, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, you flew helicopters there. The president's talked about deploying 15,000 troops on the border, which as you know would be more troops, three times as many as the U.S. has in Afghanistan now to fight ISIS. More by 1,000 than the U.S. has in Iraq, rather. More than it has by 1,000 in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. Is that the president using the military to sell a political argument?

KINZINGER: I don't know. I don't think so, but maybe, maybe not. Here's what I know. I have worked the border in a military capacity. The military plays a very important role on the border, especially when it comes to things like this. It's not that the 15,000 troops are going to go up and level M-16s, you know, and fight to protect the border. It's that they're going to be alleviating some of the projects that need done, some of the paperwork backlog and allowing those people who do have law enforcement capability to go from doing that job to the front lines to apprehend people that are crossing this border. I have done it.

Now there's a very big difference between 15,000 troops on the border of Mexico and 15,000 troops in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they're backed by artillery, F-16 fighter jets, B-2 bombers, ISR capability and they can implement combat power on an enemy very intensely without really any ground troops being involved. In this case, these troops are going to be doing a job which is maybe its paperwork, maybe it is putting up fencing, something like that. So, look, I think there is a role for the U.S. military to defend the border but we're not talking about leveling M-16s or fighting.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, I know it's a big day for you tomorrow. Thanks very much for taking a little time in these final hours to talk to us.

KINZINGER: You bet. See you.

SCIUTTO: We want to end today's show telling you about Mayor Brent Taylor of North Ogden, Utah. Taylor, temporarily stepped down as mayor to deploy to Afghanistan, as we were just talking about, with the Utah Army National Guard. On Saturday, he was killed in a so-called insider attack in Kabul. Taylor leaves behind a wife and seven children, aged between 11 months old and 13 years old. Taylor's last Facebook post, even more poignant as we head into the midterms.

He said the following, "As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote." He wrote.

[10:55:06] "And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. 'United we stand, divided we fall.' God Bless America."

That was his final call to vote tomorrow, and we couldn't think of a more powerful, more meaningful words as we go into these elections.

Thanks for joining us today. And we'll be right back.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan taking the show on the road to D.C. today for a very important reason. If I need to tell you at this point, we have an issue with you. Your vote decides what happens here and it all happens tomorrow.