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Ahead of Key Meeting with U.S., Republicans Worried Trump Will Cost Them House of Representatives; Interview With Utah Congressman Chris Stewart; Midterm Election Outlook. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 5, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Recording calls disparaging and mocking African-American candidates. Is race being used to divide voters in this, the final countdown to the election?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're just hours away from a historic election that could reshape the rest of the Trump presidency, and tonight he's pulling out all stops with a final marathon push, three rallies designed to get out the Republican vote.
But CNN has learned that some Republicans are afraid the president's racially charged focus on immigration rather than the economy will cost them control of the House, and White House officials have warned Mr. Trump to brace for serious losses.
I will talk about that and more with Congressman Chris Stewart of the Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and specialists are also standing by.
But let's begin with CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
She is in Cleveland, where the president held the first of three final campaign rallies.
Kaitlan, recently, the president has been somewhat distancing himself from the battle for the House. What's the latest?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, because he's being advised to do so because essentially they are trying to temper the president's expectations about the Republicans holding on to the House, warning him that that may not happen tomorrow and they may lose it to the Democrats.
Now, on the campaign trail, President Trump is casting tomorrow's vote as a referendum on not only what he has accomplished, but also the Republican Party. But instead of focusing on an economic message, as most Republicans wish he would, the president is instead speaking in apocalyptic terms about what will happen if Democrats do win, speaking about the caravan, about immigration and what the consequences of a Democratic House will look like.
COLLINS (voice-over): Concern that the Republican majority in the House is already lost and desperate to save GOP control of the Senate, President Trump is making the midterm elections a fight to the finish.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who is going to vote on Tuesday?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COLLINS: As Trump visits three red states he won comfortably in 2016, starting with Ohio, then Indiana and Missouri, sources tell CNN White House aides have braced him for a loss in the House. The president sounding less confident in recent days.
TRUMP: The difference is, I can't campaign for all of those House members, there's so many of them.
COLLINS: In a conference call on the eve of the election, Trump told supporters his accomplishments are on the line.
TRUMP: It is all fragile.
COLLINS: Even though he claims the midterms aren't a referendum on him, Trump urging his supporters to get out and vote.
TRUMP: In a certain way, I am on the ballot. Whether we consider it or not, the press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.
COLLINS: His final message has been light on the economy and heavy on immigration.
TRUMP: That's an invasion.
COLLINS: As he continues to paint a dark picture of a caravan of migrants still 600 miles away from the U.S./Mexico border.
TRUMP: By the way, you think we're letting that caravan come into this country? You can forget it.
COLLINS: That rhetoric coming as NBC, FOX News and Facebook have all decided to stop running a controversial ad paid for by the Trump campaign and widely criticized as racist, because it ties an illegal immigrant convicted of murdering police officers to the caravan.
NARRATOR: Dangerous, illegal criminals like cop killer Luis Bracamontes don't care about our laws.
COLLINS: Trump denied knowing about the ad being pulled today, but added:
TRUMP: A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times. COLLINS: The president is ramping up his attacks on Democrats in the
TRUMP: The Democrat agenda is a socialist nightmare for our country.
COLLINS: As he goes head to head with former President Barack Obama, who was throwing jabs of his own.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They promised they were going to take on corruption in Washington. Instead, they have racked up enough indictments to field a football team.
COLLINS: He didn't mention Trump by name, but he didn't have to.
OBAMA: Unlike some people, I don't just make stuff up when I'm talking.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I have got facts to back me up.
COLLINS: With voters set to deliver their verdict on his first two years in office, Trump leaving them with this:
TRUMP: There's only way to end this lawless assault on our dignity, our sovereignty and on our borders, and that's by voting tomorrow Republican.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, CNN never ran that ad, that anti-immigration ad that the campaign has been pushing, and they were criticized for that by the president's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale.
But now even some of the president's favorite networks, including FOX News, are not airing that ad. But it is still a message that President Trump is sticking with during his final campaign stops here, not only in Ohio, but also as he is going on into Indiana and Missouri.
The president just landed in Indiana a few minutes ago, Wolf. He was asked about the potential of Democrats winning back the House and going after his tax returns, and he responded with this.
And I'm quoting him now. He said: "I don't care. They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want."
Now, Wolf, that is increasingly a situation that White House officials are trying to prepare the president for, Democrats winning back the House and they believe launching a slew of investigations -- Wolf.
BLITZER: If that happens, if the Democrats win the House, I'm sure they will. All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much, Kaitlan Collins reporting. The president's second rally is getting under way right now in Fort
Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is there for us.
Jim, you are hearing from sources that some Republicans are very worried right now about the president's racially charged focus on immigration.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
If you listen to the president out on the campaign trail, you would think that the party is united behind him when it comes to the strategy of demonizing immigrants coming into the U.S., but that's simply not the case.
I talked to a top House Republican aide earlier today who said there's great fear up on Capitol Hill that the president's rhetoric is getting so out of control that it could influence a lot of those suburban swing voters that they're worried about in places like Northern Virginia and all around the country where those voters may say, you know what, I'm fed up with this kind of rhetoric, I'm voting for the Democrats.
As a matter of fact, that aide talked about one particular district in Northern Virginia where a Democrat could very well take out a Republican in a race that they never thought they would see that happen.
Similarly, Wolf, on the Senate side, I talked with a top Senate Republican aide who said this. And I thought this was rather alarming, this Senate aide saying they would rather win on the economy rather than on this focus on immigration.
This aide said, "I think many of us would rather win without demonizing and fear-mongering." That's a direct quote from that aide. There's a concern inside some corners of the Republican Party. Keep in mind, many of them won't speak out against the president openly and publicly and on the record, but they're voicing those concerns privately that they're concerned the president may be leading them toward a cliff and there could be severe consequences come tomorrow.
BLITZER: How is the White House, Jim, responding to the criticism over the racial undertones?
ACOSTA: Well, they're pointing to what the president is saying, and you saw earlier today when he was asked about that ad that has been deemed racist and racially insensitive and thrown off the air by CNN, NBC and even FOX, the president turned around and said, well, some of the things that you say in the media are offensive.
But, Wolf, I talked to a top Trump adviser a short while ago who said, listen, they don't have any regrets about this immigration push.
But at the same time, Wolf, and I thought it was very interesting, they are starting to look at this very heavy turnout that is taking place across the country and wondering whether or not that wave that didn't really materialize in 2016 with Hillary Clinton may be happening this time.
This adviser put their chances of keeping the House at less than 50 percent. Wolf, in the ever-confident world of Donald Trump, nobody talks that way. It is very interesting to hear a Trump adviser concede that perhaps, perhaps -- and we are so far away from seeing what happens tomorrow night -- we know what happened two years ago -- that perhaps they may not see the result that they want to see tomorrow night -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at that rally, getting ready for that rally.
They have got good music going on over there. That's one thing for sure. Thank you very much, Jim, for that report.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah is joining us. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
And let me get right to the key issue right now. The president is clearly hedging on whether this election is a referendum on him. What do you think, yes or no? Do you think this is a referendum on the president of the United States?
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: Yes, to some degree.
But I tell you, at the end of the day, Wolf, there are 435 House elections. They're all individual, and they really pivot many times on local issues and the local candidates.
And I got to tell you, I know that some of your reporters want to -- people to assume that this president has written off the House. I think they vastly underestimate this president and this White House if they think it is true.
I can tell you, I have talked with them over the last few days. They're not writing off the House at all, and I think we may have some surprises tomorrow. I guess we will wait and see.
BLITZER: We sure will. It will be 24 hours. We will start to get those ballots counted and we will see what happens.
The president keeps saying his name is, for all practical purposes, on the ballot. A vote for X is a vote for me, he keeps saying that over and over and over again, but you don't necessarily buy that?
STEWART: Well, I think he's doing that as, you know, is very obvious, is he wants to energize his base. He wants to remind people what he's tried to do, the campaign promises he has made and he has tried to fulfill.
And that's a good thing. But it is really true that there's 435 House seats. I can talk to my friends in California, Pennsylvania and New York, they're running as individuals. They're running their own campaigns.
In many cases, the focus of their campaigns and including their opponent's is not always on this president. There are other issues than this president and his popularity. There's the economy, obviously. It is a great strength for Republicans.
Many of them are running on the strength of the economy, on defeating ISIS. You know, there's a number of issues that we have to talk about, we want to talk about, other than just the president.
I know that's the focus of much of the media, it is the focus of the national interest, but it is not always a focus when you go to rural Utah or rural California or some of the other places that people are campaigning every day.
BLITZER: Yes. The president says, yes, the economy is great, but he says it is sort of boring, he doesn't really want to talk about it. He wants to talk about the caravan. He wants to talk about the illegal immigration. That's what really generates the base, as far as he's concerned.
Is he making a mistake? Should he be talking more about a strong economy, low unemployment, good jobs numbers?
STEWART: Yes, I think we got to talk about both.
And, look, I don't know anyone -- and I mean Republican, Democrat, independent -- I don't know anyone who thinks it is OK to have -- I shouldn't say that, because there are some who think it is OK to have open borders. I think that's nuts.
But most Americans do recognize that our border security is worth discussing. At the same time, we have the strongest economy, Wolf, since you and I have been born or since we were young men, the lowest unemployment in 48 years, the lowest unemployment rate for African- American and the Hispanic community ever.
We have rising wages now. A great buoyancy in the stock market and a sense of optimism. I do think we've got to talk about that as well. Now, whether the president wasted an opportunity, I don't know. I'm not with him at his rallies. I don't how the people are responding.
But I think that's an incredible positive thing that we need to remind the American people. That has helped all-Americans.
BLITZER: Yes, but the one really, really negative -- and I know you agree with me -- is this annual budget deficit that is exploding right now, with about $500 billion, $600 billion when the president took office.
It now is going to be a $1 trillion budget deficit because of all of the spending that is going on, the tax cuts that have been going on. That's not acceptable, is it? That's not good.
STEWART: Well, no, of course not. It is the reason I ran in 2012, and for us to have a $1 trillion deficit under Republican leadership is absurd and it's unacceptable and it's something Republicans can't do.
By the way, I don't think we will get to $1 trillion. I think that the economy is growing so quickly, it is going to keep that deficit down. But we have to focus on that.
And, by the way, Wolf, a lot of my Democratic friends are new converts to the deficit. And when I ask them, they want us to increase taxes in order to compensate for that. And I said, would you support if we increased taxes every dollar of that going towards deficit reduction?
And almost always, they say, well, not every dollar, because we want to spend more money on this and this and this. And that's the problem, and you said it yourself. Increased spending is where we have gotten into trouble and it is the thing we are going to have to focus on.
BLITZER: What do you think is going to happen in the House of Representatives tomorrow? Will the Democrats take the majority or will the Republicans hold on?
STEWART: Well, I'm a religious man, but I'm not a prophet, so it is hard for me to say. I don't think anyone knows. I mean, so many of these races are within the margin of error.
I do think this, and that is in 2016 we had a number of people as we found out who actually didn't feel like they could publicly say I'm going to support President Trump. And we have extended that now to Republicans, who have been beat on the head so badly by the media.
We have been told that we're racists, that we're sexists, that we're bigots, that we're fascists, and I think there's a number of people who are hesitant, they're a little shy to tell the pollster, yes, I'm supporting my Republican congressman or congresswoman or someone for Congress.
And I have been told that that's an unknown number that may influence the outcome in a way that we really didn't anticipate yet.
BLITZER: I think you're right. I think there are plenty of people out there reluctant to tell a pollster that they're actually going to go ahead and vote for a Republican precisely because of the reasons you are mentioning right there. And I think there's ample evidence of that.
Let me shift gears. And it is a horrible story and it is a horrible, very tragic, sad development. I want to get your reflections on a fellow individual from Utah, the death of Brent Taylor, who stepped down as mayor of North Ogden, Utah, not far from Salt Lake, to deploy to Afghanistan with the Utah Army National Guard.
He was killed in an apparent insider attack by an Afghan soldier. Our condolences go out to his wife, Jennie, and seven children. You're seeing a picture of them. It is a heartbreaking story right now.
I know you personally didn't know this mayor, but talk a little bit about the impact of this.
STEWART: I didn't know him well, but I knew him. Our paths crossed as my service and him in the National Guard and then as he served as mayor, not in my district,but in a city close by.
But, look, when we say that the military provides us with the bravest young men and women that our country has ever produced, this is an example of that. And his commitment to service -- and it is so interesting and thank you for giving us the opportunity to honor him.
But look at the last tweet he sent. It talked to Americans. Go out and vote, whether Republicans win, whether Democrats did. And he contrasted that with the Afghans, who recently had their parliamentary elections, and the courage they had to demonstrate, because the Taliban was threatening them, was killing and extreme violence for those who went and voted, and yet four million of them had the courage to do that.
It is a great reminder for us. Honor our country. Honor the freedoms we love. Protect those freedoms. Exercise your right to vote. I think that is a message all of us can appreciate.
BLITZER: Yes, our hearts go out to the family.
In his memory and in his honor, I want to read the final post on Facebook. October 28. Let me read it in his memory. "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."
A great man. And our hearts go out to them.
STEWART: Yes, amen to that.
BLITZER: Amen, indeed.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
STEWART: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, just ahead, we're going to have more on the president's mixed messages about tomorrow's vote as a referendum on him.
And we also will get the latest on some of the most closely watched and potentially historic races across the country.
[18:21:30] BLITZER: We're following all of the races in the midterm election, now just hours away, including some of the most closely watched contests that could make history.
We have reporters in key locations for us tonight.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Atlanta, where last-minute allegations of attempted hacking are rocking the race right now.
Kaylee, what is the latest?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the news breaking today that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is opening a criminal investigation into these allegations of cyber-crimes.
This has been an incredibly contentious campaign, and that is not dissipating in these final hours. There was something of a political firestorm set off yesterday, when the secretary of state's office, run by the Republican candidate for governor here, announced that they were opening an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party for what they believe to be a failed attempt to hack the voter registration system here.
Now, they provided no evidence of a hack or an attempted hack when they made this announcement, but they did share with us a series of e- mails they received between Democratic Party operatives and cyber- security experts discussing what they believe to be a massive vulnerability in the database.
Well, the Democrats say they were involved in no wrongdoing and explain with the help of further e-mail communication they were actually just passing on information that a concerned Georgia voter had shared with them when he believed that he detected flaws in the database.
Wolf, there has been controversy surrounding Brian Kemp's role as secretary of state, the state's top election official, in the process of overseeing an election he is running for, and that will continue.
BLITZER: It certainly will. All right, Kaylee, thank you very much.
The race for Florida governor also is a potential history maker.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Tallahassee for us tonight following that, and the heated Senate race as well.
Ryan, what is the latest there?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, no doubt Florida is unique in this midterm because it has two highly competitive statewide races. You mentioned both the governor's race and the senator's race considered to be within the margin of error.
Now, generally, in midterm races in Florida, Republicans do much better, but Democrats feel that they have an opportunity because of the candidate leading their ticket, and that's their Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee.
He has the opportunity to become the first African-American governor ever in the history of Florida. That being said, Republicans are conceding nothing, President Trump with a special focus on Florida. He, of course, has a home here, and he is very close with the Republican nominee, Ron DeSantis.
President Trump has been here on two different occasions, hoping to push the vote over the finish line for Republicans. But, Wolf, voters here in Florida have been inundated with negative television ads. This state leads the way in terms of spending in television ads, and many Floridians are ready just for the vote to be over, so they can get rid of these political ads.
Florida voters ready to make their voices heard in this very crucial election here tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thank you very much, Ryan Nobles in Tallahassee.
Now to Arizona and a very tight race that could decide control of the U.S. Senate.
Our senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, is in Phoenix for us.
Kyung, update us on the battle for this open Senate seat.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The open seat that is being vacated by Jeff Flake, and it has been a brawl every single day of this Senate race, where interest has been extraordinary high.
And you can see it in what is happening here in this room. This is where the early vote is being tabulated. And these white bins you see here, Wolf, those are the ballots that have yet to be counted. They're just wrapping up the tabulation for the day, and all of those brown boxes that you see back there, you see that huge stack, those are ballots that have already been counted. They have been sealed.
These are the early votes. Already, this midterm, more people have early-voted than they did in all of the 2014 -- all of the people who voted in the 2014 midterms.
And that's in part because of the high interest in the U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema -- these two women in a race that is simply too tight to call.
Trump won Arizona by just less than 4 percent. And in this final stretch, as he has hit the other states, the Republicans here in this state did ask the president to stay away because his visit, Wolf, was seen simply as not being helpful to Republican Martha McSally -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kyung, thank you, Kyung Lah reporting for us.
Just ahead, more networks following CNN's lead, they're now dropping the racist anti-immigration ad tweeted by President Trump. But, tonight, he won't even acknowledge the controversy.
Plus, the growing concern among Republicans that the president's racially charged anti-immigration push will cost them the House of Representatives.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tomorrow's historic midterm election is clearly a referendum on President Trump, but tonight he's sending some mixed messages.
[18:31:02] Let's get some more with our correspondents, our commentators and our analysts. And Nia, the president can't seem to make up his mind about if this election is all about him. I want you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get out and vote. I want you to vote. Pretend I'm on the ballot.
I'm not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me.
(via phone): Many of them saying it's a referendum on what we've done, so I don't know about that. I can tell you, though, that's the way they're going to play it.
(on camera): I think we're going to do well in the House, but as you know my primary focus has been on the Senate.
This is a very important election. I wouldn't say it is as important as '16, but it is right up there.
I haven't heard the term blue wave, but you better get out and vote otherwise, I'm going to look very bad with this statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So he says -- he says, Nia, I'm not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket. Which is it?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is on the ticket, and he's very much made this a referendum on him. Any midterm is a referendum on the sitting president, and all the trends suggest that his approval rating, which is about 39 percent, according to our poll, means that they're going to lose seats, right? I think the average, if you're under 50 percent, is something like 37 seats. Democrats obviously need about 23.
So, yes, but I do think Donald Trump, whatever happens on Tuesday, he's not going to take much blame, right, if the House goes the other way for Democrats. He is not going to take any blame, and he's going to take credit for whatever good news there is for Republicans come Wednesday morning.
BLITZER: How do -- how do voters see it, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the -- the irony is that Republicans who I'm talking to, who are focused on trying to keep control of the Senate for the GOP, even maybe gain some seats, what they argue is that it is because the president is more popular than their Republican candidates who actually are on the ballot in a lot of these red states where Democrats are playing, trying to keep -- a lot of Democratic incumbents who are hoping to hold onto their seats even though the president is coming in and saying, no, no, no, this is a red state.
The hope is, because the president is so popular there, that he's going to come in and remind people who are sick of Washington, sick of Congress, that, "You know what? My guy is saying I should go do it, so I'm going to go do it."
So, of course, voters see this as something that is -- and then on the other side of the ledger, of course, Democrats -- the reason you are seeing the passion, the money, the unbelievable high numbers of dollars going into these races for one reason only, and that's Donald Trump.
BLITZER: And you know Ron, you know, the early voting has been really --
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Extraordinary.
BLITZER: Thirty-one million people have already cast their ballots early or by mail, compared to last midterm, 19 million did so.
BROWNSTEIN: We could have 100 million people vote in this election, probably more. Twenty million more than voted in the last midterm, and that is just an extraordinary level of engagement.
And it is driven by the sense that we are an -- you know, at an absolute crossroads for the country. You have two mirror-image coalitions that have utterly different visions of where the country should go.
And as Nia said, the president is inescapably on the ballot. That has been the trajectory of our politics anyway. We've been heading in that direction. Last three midterms, roughly 85 percent of the people who approve of the president voted for his party's candidates in the House; 85 percent who disapproved vote against.
In the CNN poll today, it was above 90 percent on both sides. So in the same way that he may help them in some places like Missouri and Montana and Indiana, the reason why Republicans are facing widespread losses in white-collar suburbs that are the places doing the best in this thriving economy, is precisely because so many college-educated white voters, who ordinarily vote Republicans on economics, simply cannot abide Trump on values and the way he comports himself. Especially and the way he has chosen to finish this election, with such a shrill, racially tinged -- I mean, this is the most overt appeal to white racial resentments since George Wallace by a national figure. That is compounding the risk for Republicans in those areas, even as it may be helping in some of these rural areas.
[18:35:12] BLITZER: Jeffrey, in the past few hours alone, I've been taking some notes. The president has falsely claimed that there -- there is already a lot of illegal voting going on, as if that's an excuse that he's gearing up in case the Republicans don't do that great in the House tomorrow.
He's claimed that Democrats want to give undocumented immigrants free welfare and the right to vote. That's what he says. He claims Republicans always wanted to protect people with preexisting conditions.
So are voters impacted by these wild and clearly inaccurate pronouncements?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let me just say the three words you're never allowed to say on cable news: I don't know. I don't know what -- what the voters are not moved by.
What I do know is that voter fraud is a fake issue. There is not a voter fraud problem in the United States. This is a code for trying to stop Democratic-leaning voters, many of them African-American, virtually all of them poor, who don't have the same kind of access to identification forms that more middle-class people do. Voter fraud is a synonym for trying to stop poor Democrats, usually of color, from voting. That's in keeping with what -- how Donald Trump has conducted this entire fall campaign.
BLITZER: You know, David Swerdlick, we are seeing Republican candidates also adopt a similar strategy. Our own Andrew Kaczynski obtained a phone call, recorded phone call from Brian Kemp's campaign. He's running for governor of Georgia. And I want you to listen to what Georgia voters are hearing from his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brian Kemp is running against radical liberal Stacey Abrams. Abrams is the one who has campaigned for government takeover of the health care that experts say will triple your taxes. Abrams is also the one who wants to give illegal immigrants welfare, the HOPE scholarship, and even the right to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: This follows a very racist robocall that was out there, targeting Stacey Abrams, also targeting Andrew Gillum, who's running for governor of Florida and other African-Americans.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, sure, radical liberal Stacey Abrams, Yale Law graduate, former leader of the Georgia legislature, you know, private practice attorney.
It's something that is easy, to Ron's point earlier, to tag an African-American Democrat with in a way that the Republicans really are doing in a more brazen way than they've done even in previous cycles. To Ron's point and to Nia-Malika's point, even if President Trump is
not on the ballot, Trumpism is on this ballot. And part of Trumpism is right there in that robocall, this idea that, you know, illegal aliens are coming to take your welfare, take your money, take your taxes, and Democrats want to give them the right to vote.
A Republican talking point for a long time, Wolf, has been this idea that Democrats really favor immigration from Latin America, because they want to make the electorate more of color. But President Trump skips over that whole analysis, doesn't show his work, and just says they want to give illegals the right to vote.
BLITZER: President Trump says she's unqualified and says Andrew Gillum is a thief.
BLITZER: But let me get Jamie into this. Big picture right now, the legacy for the Republicans right now. Step back, whatever happens tomorrow, how does it unfold?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump has done what Donald Trump likes to do. Two words: fear and rage. That's what he's closing with.
The problem is it will work in some districts, short term, but in a lot of districts, it will hurt the Republicans.
Longer term, this is a problem for the Republican legacy. This is a party that, remember, under George W. Bush, he wanted to reach out to immigrants. There were -- now you're going to have a thing where you went from big tent to Donald Trump's pup tent. Very, very small. It is going to have a lasting effect two years from now, four years from now and on.
TOOBIN: But didn't we say this about Donald Trump when he ran for president? "Oh, he's so polarizing." And you know what happened?
HENDERSON: He won.
TOOBIN: He won.
TOOBIN: So I mean, how do we know that it's going to be so bad for Republicans?
BROWNSTEIN: It is a trade, right? He is trading. The party is trading white-collar for blue-collar, suburbs for rural, younger for older. That is the trade that he is imposing on the party. And as Jeff points out, it can work. It can work in the short term.
But what tomorrow is going to be is the most clearest indication of a cost of the trade, because you are going to see a -- I think a virtual -- whatever happens in the House overall, a virtual wipeout of Republicans in these white-collar suburban districts, in the major metros all across the country, not only on the East Coast and the West Coast but potentially Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, as well.
And what's going to be left is a party that is simply rooted in non- metro America, small town, rural, blue-collar America, a more Trumpy party, but one that is ceding the places that are growing the fastest, that are the most economically dynamic and the most diverse.
BLITZER: And we'll see the results of this election. We'll see where the country stands at this sensitive moment.
Much more coming up right after this.
[18:44:35] BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents, commentators and analysts. And CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett is with us right now.
Laura, you have been doing some reporting on what we can expect following tomorrow's elections as far as cabinet changes, senior positions are concerned.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the conventional wisdom is that there's going to be this massive shakeup and a number of cabinet members could be out on Wednesday morning. But, you know, our sources tell us it may not happen all that fast, Wolf.
[18:45:01] And in particular, all eyes, of course, are on the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, trying to figure out exactly when, if ever, he will go as the president has continued to eviscerate him on Twitter and in Fox interviews non-stop, basically for months now uninterrupted. And a number of officials tell us that there are names being floated, but there's no certainty around the timing on this.
Sessions isn't the only one who could possibly go. We're also hearing that the president has been talking about Secretary Zinke. He mentioned it today and he's obviously, as we've reported, under investigation by the Justice Department, as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly. There's been talk of him. Obviously he's had some hotly contested debates with John Bolton.
And there's also Secretary Mattis. We have a long laundry list of names here, and the president said today when a reporter asked him about Mattis, what are you talking about? But then he went on "60 Minutes" and said that Mattis was sort of a Democrat. So, all eyes are on all of these different cabinet officials as we see what the president decides when --
BLITZER: What are you bracing -- Jeffrey, what are you bracing on?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Jeff Sessions is so out of there. I don't know about the others, but, I mean, the abuse that has been heaped on him, the best he can hope for I think is to be allowed to resign as opposed to, you know, getting fired by tweet like Secretary Tillerson was. But I mean, Jeff Sessions is so gone.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's directly related to what happens tomorrow in the Senate in particular because that's where the confirmation process happens. And in talking to some Republican senators on that about this very issue, I mean, it's very real. Who the president chooses, because of course Sessions is gone, to replace him is going to be very delicate, and it is -- there are no more filibusters for -- not -- for any nominees or any confirmations at this point.
But if you don't have a healthy majority, if you are Republican, or if something happens that defies conventional wisdom and you lose the majority, that changes everything for the president in terms of his calculus, who he wants on his cabinet.
BLITZER: Jamie, Democrats are very upbeat, at least seemingly upbeat. They are pretending they think it's going to be a win. You heard what Nancy Pelosi had to say, but I think the skit we saw on "SNL" is more reflective of the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a blue wave on the horizon and I have never felt more confident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are taking back the House. It is a win we need and a win we're going to get. I'm sure of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say don't trust the polls, but I'm choosing to. We're finally going to put this administration in check.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a minute, but we're going to win. Nancy Pelosi just said so on Colbert.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White women promised to do the right thing this time. They're not going to let us down, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to win! Yeah!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one's in the bag.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a reason we are all laughing, and that is because as my kids would say, "SNL" nailed it. The number -- I do not think that Democrats feel that this is in the bag at all. We've been -- if we've said it once, we have said it 1,000 times today. We don't know what is going to happen.
But let's not forget, and "SNL" didn't, never underestimate Donald Trump and what he can pull out. We've seen it time and again.
BLITZER: What do you think? NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, I think
that's right. We all remember back to 2016 and how prepared Hillary Clinton was to go out and deliver her -- her speech, her victory speech. I think she had a barge all ready to go with fireworks.
BLITZER: A lot of fireworks, yes.
HENDERSON: Those never got used. And so, yes. I think there was a headline from "The Washington Post" that said Democrats have never been this confident since 2016. So they've got to, you know, figure that out. I think privately they're obviously very nervous because they look back at 2016 and what happened.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And there's a reason. I mean, the reason to be nervous is what we were talking about before, Trump has narrowed the Republican appeal but he has deepened. I mean, they are stronger under Trump on blue collar, rural, evangelical whites, the groups that are most uneasy about the demographic and economic change.
And what that means is that Democrats are trying to win back the House almost entirely on one half of the playing field. They have very limited opportunities in this small town exuberant rural districts outside of the metro areas, and so, they're trying to win it almost entirely in white collar suburbs that are doing very well, but where voters are personally kind of, you know, repulsed by Trump. There may be enough Republican incumbents in those places who find idiosyncratic ways to survive that you could, you know, keep them from losing.
Probably not when you look at the kind of numbers today that CNN had 60 percent of college educated whites say they would vote Democratic and Trump's approval among them under 40. Just think about that for a minute, this is the group that is doing best in the economy, and Trump's approval with them is under 40.
[18:50:05] So, yes, they could find a way but an awful lot of races that are tilting Democratic at this point would have to go the other way.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Democrats have reach to be cautiously optimistic but it was a mistake for former Speaker Pelosi to come out and say, yes, we're going to win for the reasons that Ron is stating. Democrats did not perform well in the midterms in 2010, to 2014 or in the presidential 2016. You know, you're my go- to on all things about the coalition of ascendant.
SWERDLICK: They have not proven themselves in a midterm in a long time. And if they don't, it won't mean --
BROWNSTEIN: Dana, you know Nancy Pelosi. She may be right, she may be right, but why would she say that?
BASH: You know, she is conservative in one way, I think, and that is in how she predicts. And I was surprised that she did because she was at our CNN citizen event, I talked to her just the week before and she was very cautious about saying if the election were today, that's my prediction that they would -- that the Democrats will take over.
She said that because she sees numbers that make her confident enough to say that. She might have egg on her face, but I will just tell you in talking to the other side, to Republicans, they agree with her and it's not the expectation game. They genuinely agree with her that it's going to be tough for house Republicans for all the reasons we've been talking about.
BLITZER: We will see what happens.
BASH: We'll see what happens.
BROWNSTEIN: The election is today.
BLITZER: Our coverage starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night, election night in America.
Just ahead, new demands and a new threat from North Korea.
[18:56:19] BLITZER: North Korea is keeping a close eye on tomorrow's midterm election and trying to leverage its position with a new threat ahead of a very important meeting.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, new demands from the Kim Jong-un regime?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New demands, a new threat from Kim's regime, Wolf, and new worries tonight from people who have dealt with the North Koreans. They're asking is this dialogue, this peace process, on the verge of collapsing?
TODD (voice-over): Kim Jong-un's regime issues a threat to America. Just days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Kim's top intelligence official in New York, North Korea's foreign ministry warns the regime could start building up its nuclear forces again if the U.S. doesn't ease sanctions on North Korea.
BRUCE KLINGNER, FORMER CIA ANALYST ON NORTH KOREA: North Korea always before a meeting tries to gain leverage by perhaps issuing threatening language or insinuating a threat. You know, that said, we don't want to just dismiss it as negotiating rhetoric. It does reflect their position. It also reflects the stance that they have that they don't want to give up much.
TODD: The North Koreans believe they have already given up a lot. They have returned American remains from the Korean War.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How does it feel to be home?
TODD: Released some Americans who were detained in North Korea. They have destroyed a missile engine test facility, blown up the entrances to their nuclear bomb testing site.
But experts say some of those moves are cosmetic.
KLINGNER: It in no way impedes the development and expansion of their nuclear arsenal.
TODD: Still, the North Koreans believe these have been uneven trades and they want the Trump administration to ratchet back crippling sanctions before the regime scales back more of its nuclear program.
But Secretary Pompeo is resolute.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Stray voltage happens to be all around us. And we're very focused. We know with who we're negotiating, we know what their positions are and president Trump has made his position clear. No economic relieve until we have achieved our ultimate objective.
TODD: President Trump had gotten credit from North Korean experts for meeting with Kim Jong-un and getting the North Koreans more analyzed in dialogue. Analysts are split tonight on whether that's all falling apart.
KLINGNER: We're about as far apart as you can get. Five months after the summit, we don't have an agreed-upon definition of what denuclearization is.
TODD: And experts worry that North Korea's new threat to again, quote, build up its nuclear forces may mean they'll start testing reentry capability for their long range missiles that can reach the United States.
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: If they do test, everything will come to a halt and we're really back to where we were a year ago.
TODD: A year ago, when there was talk of a possible U.S. first strike on North Korea if they kept up their threatening behavior. Tonight, experts say Kim and his aides will also be monitoring America's big day on Tuesday.
YUN: They always watch midterm elections very closely, and they want to see how much the incumbent in the White House, does he have support. I think they're looking for whether President Trump gets weakened or not.
TODD: Now, analysts say the North Koreans who watch the American political process like hawks are going to be closely monitoring the possibly Democratically controlled House of Representatives to see if the Democrats push for hearings on any further nuclear deals that Trump makes with Kim Jong-un, and whether the Democrats might push for more controls over those deals, which experts say the North Koreans might well perceive as weakening Donald Trump's hand -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You make a really good point, Brian, how closely the North Koreans are watching the latest developments here in Washington.
Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.
And thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.