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Midterm Election Outlook; Midterms Safe From Hacking?. Aired 3- 3:30p ET
Aired November 5, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And we kind of see the president hedge his bets there. As he's said in public remarks: I can't campaign for everybody running in the House, but I can try to make a difference with the Senate.
So, that is an argument we're seeing coming from President Trump, Brooke, as he's here. He just took the stage. His comments about the caravan still coming, as there are questions about how far away they are, what his rhetoric on this is, but that us an argument that he believes is a winning argument here, Brooke.
And we're expecting him to continue to make it on stage here in Cleveland.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm catching every third of your words, Kaitlan, because of the clear crowd enthusiasm behind you.
But we can feel it here in Washington, D.C. Obviously, it's friendly turf for the president. We will see if it translates come tomorrow, Kaitlan Collins there in Cleveland.
For now, that new CNN poll, which has -- the latest poll on voters, since it was just completed in the last couple of days. Democrats are seeing encouraging signs, specifically about the House of Representatives.
Let's go to CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston with the details.
And what do you have with this poll?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Brooke, last poll for CNN heading into the midterm elections, you're right, absolutely good news for the Democrats, 13-point advantage over Republicans.
And you wonder what is fueling this right now, Democrats have a 27- point advantage with women; 88 percent of African-Americans, 66 percent of Hispanics say that they would rather vote for the Democrat than the Republican, to give you some kind of idea what is behind these numbers.
But as we head into the election, let's just talk about, what is dividing the country? What are the most important issues? This is very striking. For Democrats, it's health care -- 71 percent, seven in 10 Democrats believe that health care is the number one issue going into this election.
But look what Republicans say. A little more than six in 10 Republicans say that it's immigration. We have heard, of course, President Trump talk a lot about immigration, talk a lot about the caravan or so-called caravan heading to the border, trying to get his troops, his supporters fired up.
But moving on, does President Trump help or hurt you heading into tomorrow? Well, depends on who you are. Right now, 39 percent approval rating, 55 percent disapproval rating. You would think that that is absolutely disastrous.
Well, for most House candidates, it probably is. The likes of here around the Washington, D.C. suburbs, around Philadelphia suburbs, those types of areas where Republicans are, they're certainly in trouble.
However, if you're in the United States Senate, Donald Trump could be a big help, specifically where we see him in Missouri today, Brooke. But then the bottom line is, we come to this, what's going to happen, what does it all mean?
I think if you go back to 2010 and you saw that Barack Obama had a 46 percent approval rating, he lost 63 seats. Now, Democrats are going to get nowhere near that, I believe. We're looking at about half of that, but the bottom line is, in the House of Representatives, looks like Democrats are going to take back the House and in the Senate, Republicans will hold on to it -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, on that final point, that's where I want to begin with these guys sitting with me.
Mark, thank you very much.
I have with me here in D.C. CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, CNN political commentator Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, and CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.
Good to see you all.
Let's start with his final point. I'm turning to you, because you always have the pulse on all of these Republican sources. So on these jittery House Republicans, I was reading reporting this morning that Paul Ryan yesterday picked up the phone, calls the president, and is basically, like, hey, could you, you know, pump up the economy and how great things are looking?
And the president essentially was saying, no, immigration seems to really be firing up my base. And this is what he said about actually both of those issues moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether it's the great economy or the immigration, our strong stand and their very weak stand, where they have open borders, which to me means nothing but crime, I don't know, but I can tell you that there's a lot of energy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So to Jamie and then Nia, how are Republicans feeling right now?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Republicans are worried, especially in the House, no question about it.
Donald Trump likes fear and rage and caravans and criminals coming across the border. And that's -- you know, when he said great economy, that's because someone said to him, remember, please...
BALDWIN: You got to say it out loud.
GANGEL: A great economy.
Does anyone really know what's going to happen tomorrow? Every Republican I spoke to today only agreed on one thing. They have no idea what is going to happen.
GANGEL: As one said to me, there's an old expression, if someone tells you they know what's going to happen tomorrow, they're lying. They will also lie to you about something else.
BALDWIN: What are you hearing?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No, hearing the same thing. Nobody knows what's going to happen. And you have obviously seen what Trump wants to happen. You know what his playbook is. It is around these cultural issues that certainly fire up his base.
We have seen, from those rallies, what was the tag line? It was build the wall, right? It was all about immigration and this hard-line stance on that. So in some of these races, it obviously has worked. You have got somebody like Ron DeSantis in Florida who's running for governor, of course. Will it work down in Florida? We don't know.
If you look at a state, other states that are sort of Midwestern states, something like South Dakota, something like Montana, something like Missouri, maybe it works there in that race where Claire McCaskill is in a neck-and-neck race with Josh Hawley. But we will see.
But I do think if you're Donald Trump and you get a phone call from Paul Ryan, you say to Paul Ryan, I am president and you are not. And this worked for him in 2016.
BALDWIN: You mentioned DeSantis and Gillum. And I do want to get to your House divided and your CNN column in just a second. And here obviously the president speaking obviously at that rally in Cleveland.
Ana Navarro, here's what we heard from one senior House Republican, said, Trump has hijacked the election. Has he?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that's true. I think this will election is a referendum on Trump everywhere you go. I mean, for me, as a voter, it was a referendum on Trump. It was more about Trump than it was about Rick Scott or it was about the -- look, I live in a congressional candidate, a Senate seat, and a governor's race that are all up in the air.
And the one issue that was weighing heavily was Trump. He made himself the issue back in the primaries. So many of these primaries were decided by what Republican embraced him more, resembled him more, sucked up to him more.
And so many of the Democratic primaries were decided by what Democrat opposed him more, confronted him more, was more of a contrast to him. So the cast was dye back in the primaries, and then he has go on to insert himself in so many of these races.
BALDWIN: Although he said today, oh, no, no, this isn't a referendum on me.
NAVARRO: Of course it is.
And I can see why he feels that the immigration issue resonates so much, because they only keep him in a very narrowly defined area, geographic area, where he is very popular. He doesn't come to South Florida, where there are congressional races, like Carlos Curbelo or like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's old district, where he would be an anchor.
They take him to places like Pensacola, Florida, where he fills up rallies and every time he says, build the wall, and the migrants are going, and it's an invasion, and the Martians are to going to all come down from a spaceship and kill us all, the people go crazy.
BALDWIN: How do you follow...
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And the wall won't stop the Martians. That's the problem with the wall.
NAVARRO: Here's the problem.
BEGALA: It's a bubble. NAVARRO: It's really -- this thing of building a wall when you live in a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides is a little -- gets a little difficult.
BALDWIN: As a Democrat, we saw Leader Pelosi on "Colbert" last night, looking into the camera saying, we will win.
Will you win?
BEGALA: Yes. Again, you're not supposed to say that.
I don't know what is going to happen. It is true...
BALDWIN: I love how he says, yes, but we don't really know.
BEGALA: And then I want to weasel out.
It certainly looks that way. If you look at how the president is conducting himself, I think Nia's right, he's speaking to fear, even though the economy is booming. He can't play a song in the key of hope. He only knows the key of fear.
And he should be -- you know, I'm old enough to remember, I was in college, Ronald Reagan steamrolled my party, 49 states. He wasn't running around saying scary, fear. You know, he said, it's morning in America, things are great now in America.
NAVARRO: It was a completely different Republican Party.
BEGALA: Yes, it was. And it was a better Republican Party, because it dominated the country, 49 states.
This guy is running like a guy who's scared and who knows he's going to lose. You saw that comment on the White House lawn, oh, well, we don't know, we will see.
Today, I was out in the 10th District of Virginia, swing district, right by here, a rainy day, a chilly day. People packed in the middle of the day to go out and knock on doors for Jennifer Wexton, the challenger. That's a seat the Democrats haven't won in 40 years. It's a suburban, well-off district.
It's booming in this economy. It shouldn't even be on the map. Democrats are going to win that district in a landslide. What's happening here? Well, I think a lot of it is Trump. I think Ana is right. A lot of it is the Democrats are running smart races on health care. But there's a lot of suburbanites who have just had a belly full of
President Trump. And more -- so he should have more rallies. Have more, Mr. President. Do some more on Wednesday, Thursday. Keep going.
BALDWIN: Well, at his final rally later tonight in Missouri, he's got special guests, according to the White House, including Rush Limbaugh, who I know is from there originally.
But I'm wondering in that Hawley-McCaskill race, do you think Republicans, this is like their full-court press, they sort of sense there could be an opening for them and that's why they're hitting Missouri in the final -- you're nodding.
HENDERSON: I think that's right. That is a close, close state. It's a red state. McCaskill has been able to pull it out in these past races, because she's had terrible opponents, essentially.
But, yes, they are pulling out all of the stops at this point, all of sort of the greatest hits from Donald Trump in 2016, and sort of the heroes of the chattering class on the conservative side, FOX News, Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh, so we will see.
He -- obviously, if he wins this way, in a state like Missouri, in a state like Florida, in a state like Georgia, in any of these states, with this kind of rhetoric, I mean, it will very much...
BALDWIN: Dictate what we see.
HENDERSON: Yes. It will dictate what we see going forward in 2020.
GANGEL: What's interesting about Rush and Sean Hannity is this, though.
The White House announced these special guests. And I think it is fair to say we will see Rush up on stage. But FOX and Sean Hannity -- make no mistake, we know that Sean Hannity is a huge supporter of the president -- came back out, and they were clearly surprised by the White House.
Sean is going out there to interview the president, not to campaign. But Sean Hannity, Rush, these are stars of the base and the White House wanted those names.
NAVARRO: I'm not sure what the difference is between a Sean Hannity interview and a Sean Hannity campaign appearance. They're pretty much the same thing.
BEGALA: But so what? God bless him. He's not hiding the ball.
And, by the way, the deputy chief of the White House is Bill Shine, who was running FOX News like five minutes ago. I actually -- I have no problem with that. Everybody knows that Sean
is a partisan, a supporter. And Rush is actually from Cape Girardeau. He now lives in New York and Florida, but he lived in Cape Girardeau like about 200 pounds there.
But that's his home. That's fine. He wants to go out and bloviate there, maybe there's a few people who remember him there. God bless him.
GANGEL: Paul somehow thinks this is a win.
BEGALA: Because he's driving -- he's doubling down on his base, and that's good.
That will help. Nina is right. Jamie is right. It will help a lot in places like Missouri, North Dakota.
But it's not going to help in a lot of places like Florida, which are more diverse.
BALDWIN: I want to come back to Florida.
NAVARRO: What struck me how nervous everybody is, right? Nobody wants to give predictions. Nobody wants to believe the polls.
NAVARRO: Everybody is nervous, because we were taken by such surprise two years ago.
BALDWIN: I want to come back to that. Let me hold you guys over a commercial break. Hold your firepower, because, just in, we have new developments in the governor Georgia's race.
Republican candidate Brian Kemp moments ago defending this 11th-hour decision, sans evidence, to investigate the state's Democratic Party for election hacking. Critics also questioning if Kemp, who is currently Georgia's secretary of state, should be the one to oversee his own run-off if that race is undecided.
And also, you know, I want to talk about Florida. Ana can explain how the governor's contest has left her house divided. She's newly engaged to a man who feels differently.
And, later, this single mom from a small town in Iowa who today claimed her share of a $700 million Powerball jackpot and how she momentarily lost the ticket. So we have a little bit of fun news there.
Stay with me. You're watching CNN.
BALDWIN: One of the closest races for governor is playing out in the state of Georgia.
And adding to all of this drama, you have the Republican candidate in this race, Brian Kemp, who is also in charge of Georgia elections as secretary of state. He has ignited this political firestorm.
He is accusing the state's Democratic Party of attempted election hacking without offering any proof. Kemp says he's just doing his job. The Democratic Party calls the claims a political stunt.
Kemp's Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams, using one of the president's favorite terms, actually, to describe this investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: It's a witch-hunt that was created by someone who is abusing his power.
Friday, Brian Kemp was notified the that there was yet another flaw in the election security system. Twice before, he has accidentally released the information of six million Georgians. This was about to happen again.
Instead of owning up to it, taking responsibility, and seeking a way to fix the flaw, he instead decided to blame Democrats, because he does that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: My panel is back with me.
Joining us, a new voice, CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
Good to see you.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
BALDWIN: So, I wanted to start with you just on this. Again, he has no evidence. Obviously, the Democratic Party is vehemently denying this.
What do you make of him launching this investigation two days before the election?
COATES: It was a predictable conflict of interest to begin with, that somebody who is going to be player, coach, and referee of an election would have this sort of thing happen. It really is transparent, however, to think about using it in this
way, days before the election, when you know you're neck and neck, a point away at this point, and not if he was to have the 50 percent majority to use this tactic.
It's not the first time he's done it. Remember, one of the reasons he was using the mischaracterization or the mismatching of one's ballot application to the actual voter maintenance rolls was that he felt that Stacey Abrams, who was in charge of trying to galvanize voters before she was a candidate and trying to get people registered to vote, that it was her fault that there were mismatches in the long run. And so she's to blame for why you had to have this purging at the last minute.
It's predictable. It's incoherent not to actually have any proof at this point in time. And, really, it's just a tactic that should be used and ignored.
BALDWIN: But you point out, this is a guy who's basically a player in the game and a referee. And I'm wondering just how concerning it is that he has not recused himself.
COATES: Right. Well, he's not required, technically, to do so. However, in terms of ethics, he should be compelled to do so.
The hint of impropriety is enough for most judges to recuse themselves from the bench, if there is a case where they may know the person or know there may be some hint won't -- judge their objectivity.
Here, although you have other secretary of states who have had a hand in political roles in the past, Katherine Harris, for one, in Florida had a very big role in fund-raising as well, and also ultimately the Bush v. Gore case, but to say that he should be compelled to do so is odd to me.
Now, having said that, there are individual counties who are charged to having actually count the ballots and the tallies. He won't be the full-time arbitrator of each polling place's actual tally, but still that hint is going to cloud the results either way.
And it's unfortunate, because you have qualified candidates who are looking to have people say, listen, it's a straight-up election. And when you have people putting their thumbs on the scale, that's a problem for democracy.
BALDWIN: So that's Georgia.
I look to you, my friend, who Al Cardenas put a ring on it. So, Al, we're talking about you here today.
BEGALA: Good job, Al.
BALDWIN: Now, Al, Republican Party, Florida, you, my friend, who have decided to go one way on the gubernatorial ballot, unlike your husband to be, can you tell -- walk me through that decision.
NAVARRO: We talked about it.
And, look, Al was the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida under Jeb. Both Jeb and al, neither of whom are big fans of Donald Trump, and that's a hell of an understatement, are supporting DeSantis big time. Jeb is out there campaigning for him. Al has raised money for him.
I don't like DeSantis. For me, the Trump issue trumps the Tallahassee issue. For them, they want to the idea of gridlock. They think that the policy differences are too great.
Look, Florida is going to stay with a Republican legislature. If Andrew Gillum becomes governor, he's going to have to work with that Republican legislature if anything is going to get done. So there are going to be checks and balances in Florida that have not existed in Washington for the last two years.
And that meant a lot to me. And then I went and met Andrew Gillum, because I said, I'm not going to do this without meeting this guy. That guy can charm a cat out of a tree.
NAVARRO: I have not liked somebody off the bat so quickly in I don't know how long. I don't know if he's going to be my governor or not, but if he's not my governor, I want him to be my friend.
He's grounded, he's likable, he's approachable, he's folksy, he's energetic, he's unifying, he's inspiring, he's happy. I mean, I haven't seen this in the Republican Party in a number of years.
But I was so loyal to the Republican Party, I voted for like Charlie Crist for governor, who I thought was dumber than, you know, a bag of charcoal.
NAVARRO: I voted for Rick Scott, who I thought had the social skills of a root vegetable.
NAVARRO: But Trump was, for me, the straw that broke the camel's back. And when I saw the racist ad, when I heard the attacks on the caravan, it was just a bridge too far for me.
You know, I have a lot of Republican friends in Miami and South Florida who do not like Trump. And I'll tell you, about half of them have gone Republican, because they just can't bring themselves to not. About half of them are voting for Gillum because, like me, they just can't bring themselves to support somebody that has -- that has based his entire campaign, Ron DeSantis, on being a parasitic twin to Donald Trump.
BALDWIN: Don't hold back, Ana Navarro.
No, you bring up that racist ad. And actually let me -- I was just handed some new information that we have from Jeff Zeleny over at the White House for us, because, apparently, remember the ad last week, the economy, you know, a la morning in America, Reaganesque, right, that, apparently, the president saw and -- quote -- "He hated it. He hated it."
So what did we see next? The racist ad. The racist ad. And just, I think, to both of your points...
GANGEL: Fear and rage.
BALDWIN: Fear and rage sell.
And Jamie, she said that even before Jeff reported this.
BEGALA: And that's exactly right.
And President Reagan -- I'm a Democrat. I never supported him. He was so positive that he would tell his speechwriters -- they would write a line for him. I used to write speeches for the president, for Clinton. And it would say, I will never forget, and he would cross that out and say, no, I will always remember, put it in the positive.
Everything with the Gipper had to be positive. And the guy won 49 states.
BEGALA: So this president just seems so wedded to fear and smear.
And, golly, it worked in 2016. It really did. Now, he just snuck the goods through customs. It was only by 77,000 votes that he won Pennsylvania, plus Michigan, plus Wisconsin, but he did win.
And I think it's -- we're going to see tomorrow it's probably a limited strategy to try to carry that forward. Instead of expand the way Reagan did, he seems to be shrinking his party.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Jamie.
GANGEL: One little other thing, to Paul's point, and that is, we're not just talking about the election tomorrow and the legacy for the Republican Party.
We're talking about down the road, two years from now, four years from now. George W. Bush was talking about immigration, making the Republican Party bigger, the big tent. Donald Trump has turned it into the pup tent, right?
This is, where are Republicans? We all know what the demographics are in this country. What is this going to mean for the Republican Party down the road?
NAVARRO: And which is why Jeb Bush in Florida used to win the Hispanic vote hands down. And George W. Bush would...
BEGALA: He got 40.
NAVARRO: Got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in our lifetime. It feels like dinosaurs were roaming the Earth when that happened.
But something else I want to tell you, so when I heard Oprah's speech and she talked about, I have earned the right to my vote, I have earned the right to my opinion, so I'm marrying a very traditional Cuban man, Cuban American man, a Latin man.
But I think it's important for women, for spouses, regardless of gender, to be able to have a civil conversation about differences and what their priorities are, and to be able to exert their expect right to a political opinion and a vote when that happens.
So if your wife wants to vote different than you, you have got to let her, and you have got to support her.
BEGALA: We are closing in on 30th anniversary, and I always get the last two words of every fight, "Yes, dear."
BEGALA: I surrender immediately.
BALDWIN: Good man. Good man.
COATES: And in many ways, you describe tribalism and why that is no longer needed in this country and should not be used in this country.
People should have an independent thinking and thought about these things. But one the things the president is doing is really almost like Johnny Appleseed. He's dropping seeds along for his law and order campaign of the future, law and order in trying to combat issue of sanctuary cities. Law and order in trying to combat what's happening right now in a federal court about the citizenship question on the U.S. census going forward in 2020, laying the foundation right now not just for the elections you're talking about, the midterms tomorrow. But in the long run, how is he going to galvanize people around this, outside of either the robo-calls that come out of places like Georgia, trying to make a mockery out of Oprah Winfrey, or in terms of the Luis Bracamontes ad that was just vitriol being spewed over Twitter and then during NFL football yesterday in the third quarter?
You have these seeds that are being planted -- I think it goes far beyond whatever happens tomorrow -- to try to support the president's agenda.
NAVARRO: And that ad, it's so important to point out, that ad not only is full of racism, but that ad is also full of lies, full of lies. The man was deported under Clinton. The man came back in under George W. Bush. The man was released by Joe Arpaio, the guy that Donald Trump pardoned in Arizona.
So to blame Democrats for that guy in particular is just, you know, a bald-faced, shameless lie. which he's OK doing, because we know he does that.
BALDWIN: So, as we've been talking about fear -- and let me just end on this note from Jim Acosta over at the White House -- a senior GOP congressional aide said Trump's racially loaded immigration push in the final days before the midterms may well cost the Republican Party control of the House.
NAVARRO: It's been overkill. It's been the ad. It's been birthright citizenship. It's been the migrant caravan, which triggered the guy in Pennsylvania to go kill. It's been crazy. It's been crazy.
GANGEL: But this is also Donald Trump.
Remember when we used to say, he's going to pivot, right?
BALDWIN: Yes, he never pivoted.
GANGEL: He never pivoted. He could be pivoting toward the economy, the economy, the economy. He had something to run on. He didn't run on that.
NAVARRO: Girls, we have all a little experience with men. They don't change.
BALDWIN: Thank you for the belly laugh today. I appreciate every single one of you. Thank you.
NAVARRO: ... forget you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, are your votes secure after the unprecedented Russian meddling in 2016?
We want to take a look at whether these midterms are safe from hackers.
And as celebrities come out in full force for the midterms, the question is, will endorsements from people like Taylor Swift actually make a difference? Chris Cillizza has that coming up.