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New Poll Shows Massive Gender Gap Ahead of Midterms; U.S. Mayor, Father of 7 Killed in Afghan Inside Attack; "SNL" Comedian Under Fire for Mocking Republican Candidate & Veteran Who Lost Eye During Combat; Trump's Final Argument Before Midterms is Immigration, Not Economy. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 5, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:18] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: On this Monday before Election Day, as Americans get ready to follow millions of others and cast their ballots, a new CNN poll is revealing a major gender gap when it comes to who could end up controlling Capitol Hill. In the choice for Congress among likely voters, 62 percent of women say they will vote for Democrats, compared to 48 percent of men who will do the same. And when you look at the Republicans, only 35 percent of women there will likely vote Republican while 49 percent of men say they will.

As for the president, Trump's approval rating among women is only 31 percent.

So Gloria Borger is our chief political analyst.

And this gender gap story I'm fascinated by. I've talked to so many women voting, running this past summer, and so many of them point to Trump.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. They don't like the tone, they don't like the rhetoric. Particularly college-educated white women very, very upset. But the flip side of that -- it's a Mars/Venus kind of thing. And the flip side of is that men do like Trump. And they're split over him. But women, you know, women do not. There was one statistic I was looking at, which is that, you start with 60 percent of college-educated white women favoring the Democrats by 33 points, but the men favor the Republicans by 42 points. So there's a -- there's a real split. There's a split by gender. There's a split by education in this country.

BALDWIN: So I know we're talking about all tomorrow.

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: But if we can just fast forward, because I'm curious about 2020. You know we'll all be talking about that come Wednesday. No, but when you think about the women who did vote for Trump, the noncollege-educated women back in 2016, he did really well among that crowd. But if you look at these numbers, he'll have some trouble with the ladies come 2020.

BORGER: Yes, I think he's going to have a lot of falloff. But you don't know if those are Independent voters who just didn't want to vote for Hillary Clinton. It's had to know. The polling in midterms is so difficult, as you know. People don't answer accurately, the polling isn't accurate. And we can be fooled by these things.


BORGER: But I believe, if I had to guess, that there would be a lot of Independent women who voted for Donald Trump and who now say, you know what, I don't -- I don't like the way he's behaved. And they are also very concerned about health care. It's a huge issue for women.


BORGER: Women take care of their families, they take care of their parents, they take care of their kids. And the Democrats are emphasizing health care. And, yes, they care about security and the caravan and immigration and all the rest. But I think women are particularly concerned about that kind of an issue. And the Democrats, that's what they're talking about on the trail.

BALDWIN: Agree. Just the gender gap headline out of the poll is pretty major.

BORGER: Pretty stunning.

BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you very much.


BALDWIN: A mayor from Utah, a father of seven, killed in an apparent insider attack while serving his country in Afghanistan. Hear his powerful message to Americans before midterms.

[14:34:17] And a comedian on "Saturday Night Live" has been highly criticized for mocking a wounded veteran running for Congress. The veteran's response, next.


BALDWIN: Flags are at half-staff across the county of north Ogden, Utah, today. It's mayor, Major Brent Taylor, was killed Saturday in what's being called an insider attack in Kabul. Taylor was deployed four times, both to Iraq and Afghanistan. And he leaves behind his wife, Jenny, and seven children. Seven. Their ages span from 11 months to 13 years.

Utah's lieutenant governor released a statement, and I'll read part of it for you, writing, "I hate this. I'm struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife, Jenny, and his seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family."

So let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, with just this tragic, tragic news.

What happened, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Brooke. In north Ogden, Utah, he was Mr. Mayor, but in Afghanistan, he was Major Brent Taylor, working with Afghan forces on the priority mission of training and advising them.

On Saturday, apparently, they were on a so-called road march, apparently walking down a road, we are told, when one of the Afghan troops turned his weapon on Mayor Taylor. It's one of these insider attacks that we have just seen too often when Afghans turn their weapons on U.S. and coalition forces. In fact, this is the third attack, so-called insider attack, in just over the last two weeks. So it's raising a lot of questions about the security for coalition forces, as they work with Afghans across that country.

[14:40:09] Right now, U.S. troops, coalition forces, essentially, regrouping a little bit, making sure they have all of the security measures in place that they need, talking on a very high level, we are told, between coalition commanders and Afghan government officials to see if there's more that they can do to get a handle on this problem. Because three attacks in just over two weeks is something that everyone finds unacceptable, of course.

Right now, they're sticking with the program they've had for many years called Guardian Angel. This means any coalition troop out in the field has a pal with them, somebody who keeps an eye on them, another coalition member, to try and prevent any such attacks. But the last couple of weeks, very, very grim.

As you say, this major, this mayor, was the father of seven children. And within the coming hours, at Dover Air Force Base, we expect to see his remains returned in that dignified transfer ceremony we've seen all too often.

The mayor left behind a final Facebook posting reflecting a bit of his life at home and his life in Afghanistan, talking about elections in both places, urging people to vote here in this country and to vote as Americans, not necessarily Republicans or Democrats -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: I've had those words reverberating ever since I read them over the weekend. And I just want to share them with everyone watching.

Barbara, thank you so much.

Because those mourning Major Taylor's loss are now finding inspiration and hope in his last Facebook post. So in his own words, let me read this for you. "It was beautiful to see over four million Afghan men and women brave threats and deadly attacks to vote in Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections in eight years. The strong turnout, despite the attacks and challenges, was a success for the long- suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom. I am proud of the brave Afghan and U.S. soldiers I serve with. Many American, NATO allies, and after Afghan troops have moments like this possible. For example, my dear friend was killed fighting the Taliban the day before voting began."

And here's the piece that Barbara was referring to, "As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. 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."


[14:47:13] BALDWIN: "Saturday Night Live's" Pete Davidson is facing backlash after a joke involving wounded Afghanistan war veteran, Dan Crenshaw, the former Navy SEAL, who lost an eye during combat, is now running for Congress in Texas.


PETE DAVIDSON, COMEDIAN: This guy is kind of cool, Dan Crenshaw.




DAVIDSON: No. Hold on.


You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie.


I'm sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.


Or whatever. All right.


BALDWIN: CNN spoke with Crenshaw about the joke and he wasn't laughing.


CRENSHAW: Well, you know, the first part of that skit was just strange. I don't know what kind of programs that he's watching. The second part, I think, is when it just became dark. And listen, we have thick skin, but as veterans, it's hard for us to understand why war wounds would elicit such raucous laughter from an audience. So I think they should have -- I think they should have rethought that joke a little bit, if you could even call it a joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Davidson's "SNL" co-star, Kenan Thompson, whose dad is a Vietnam War veteran, this morning said he didn't think Davidson was trying to target veterans but did agree that the joke did go too far and definitely missed the mark.

So with me now, Iraq War Army veteran, Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of the IAVA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which is the nation's first and largest organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

So, Paul, always a pleasure. And thank you so much for everything you do.

But listen, on this Peter Davison thing, a lot of people and a lot of veterans jumped all over him for this. You are actually saying, hang on, don't go too hard on him. And I wanted to know why.

PAUL RIECKHOFF, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Well, first off, it was terrible. It's unacceptable. It was stupid. And it's unfunny.

I think the question now is, can we move forward past this and use it a as a teaching moment. And as we do that, I think like anything happening in America right now, if we can bring the temperature down and add some light, that can be a good thing. That's what Dan Crenshaw did. He took the high road. He's trying to move things forward. He's offering solutions. And that's what we have to do, especially a couple of days out from the election.

Pete Davidson should know better. He, sadly, lost his own father at Ground Zero. He was a firefighter killed when Davidson was 7 years old. So what I want folks to do is remember that as well. So there are a lot of survivors out there that need help. And I hope Davidson will come forward and apologize and figure out a way to move this forward, but also know his backstory here. And I can't imagine being that kid when he was 7 years old. And I think we should at least take that into consideration.

[14:50:04] BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

Looking ahead, Paul, to tomorrow and the election, there are 156 veterans, 156, on the ballot, up and down, across the country tomorrow. And I know, you know, you point out that there's all of this talk about a potential blue wave. You wanted to come on and talk about a camouflage wave. What did you want to say?

RIECKHOFF: Yes, Dan Crenshaw is a part of that.


RIECKHOFF: People have been talking about blue waves and red waves. There's a nonpartisan wave of veterans running for office, by our count, of all generations, over 170, who we call the camo wave. They can bring the country together, they can add light, they can add perspective, and solve problems. And we've seen them bringing people together from all political backgrounds. That's an important good news story coming out of the election. We don't know how many will win. But suffice it to say, it's going to be a number of them. And hopefully, they can attack the tone in Washington and move us forward as a nation.

Important to remember, too, Brooke, a couple days after the election is going to be Veterans Day. That's a time when we would actually bring everybody together, no matter who wins the election, and come together as an Americans. I think that's an important message for everybody to consider, as well.

BALDWIN: Yes. Speaking of veterans, I was just talking to Barbara Starr over at the Pentagon about Major Taylor, Mayor Taylor and Major Taylor, who was just killed in Afghanistan, dad of seven kids. And also with him, another servicemember was injured. And I think it bears reminding, everyone, that there are still 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan right now.

RIECKHOFF: Yes. We, in our community, have called it Forgotistan at times. We feel that folks are over there fighting and dying on a regular basis and they feel forgotten. So I hope we can bring focus to that. Mayor Taylor's Facebook post is a clarion call. It should be a conscious call for all Americans. When we're in tough times, veterans and our military can be like a conscious. They can remind us what's right and about American values. And they can remind us of the importance of voting. We've been telling folks, it's veterans' month, all month long, and the most important thing you can do to support veterans and support our democracy is go out and vote. And there's lots of vets you can also vote for, so it's a double impact.

BALDWIN: Paul Rieckhoff, always a pleasure. Thank you so much.

RIECKHOFF: Thank you. Back at you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, just a day before Election Day, Georgia's Republican candidate for governor levees a major allegation against his opponent's party without any evidence. More on that.

Also, celebrity after celebrity hitting the campaign trail today, stumping in key states. We'll tell you who's where and for whom.

Also, next, investigator expected to hold a news conference after a helicopter crash kills a newlywed couple as they were leaving their own wedding. We have those details, coming up.


[14:57:03] BALDWIN: It was supposed to be the beginning of the rest of their lives, but for newlyweds, Will Byler and Bailee Ackerman Byler, their wedding day would be the last. The couple was killed in a helicopter crash shortly after saying their "I dos" on the Byler farm. This is west of San Antonio, Texas. The bride and groom were both seniors at San Houston State College. And the helicopter pilot, Gerald Green Lawrence, was also killed in that crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it is investigating.

And we continue on here. I am live in Washington, D.C.. Special coverage here on this day before the big midterm election. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Any moment now, President Trump will be energizing those voters at one of three rallies set for today. The final push before what both parties call the most consequential midterm election ever.

The latest early vote number seems to back up just how important tomorrow is. At least 31 million votes have already been cast, just smashing totals from the 2014 midterms. Up for grabs tomorrow, the governorship in 36 states, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats. And a new CNN poll shows that is where we could be seeing the biggest upheavals. We'll get into that in a moment.

Just a short while ago, before leaving for Ohio, the president spoke about how he is sensing these midterms could be different.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a great electricity in the air like we haven't seen, in my opinion, since the '16 election. So something's happening. We'll see. But I think we're going to do very well. If you look over a hundred years, for whatever reason, the party with the president doesn't do very well. I think we're going to do pretty well.


BALDWIN: Let's start this hour with CNN White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, who's following the president there.

"God Bless the USA" on loudspeaker here in Cleveland, Ohio. And what will the president's message be here on this final push?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, this is the first stop of three today. He just took the stage right behind me, as you can see him there, greeting the supporters who have gathered here in Cleveland to hear that final pitch that President Trump is making. And, Brooke, despite advice from advisors inside and outside the White House to focus on the economy in these last few days, President Trump disagrees and he thinks immigration is that last argument that he needs to make to these voters before they go to the polls tomorrow. So expect him to focus on immigration, on the Democrats, on that pyramid, the same arguments that he's been making for the last two weeks while he's in here today, Brooke.

Now, also we know, behind the scenes, that President Trump is being told by officials inside the White House to brace for Republican losses tomorrow in the House. They tell him that that is something they expect to come. But that they are still pretty feeling hopeful about the Senate. We kind of see the president hedge his bet there.