Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Love It Or Leave It; President Trump Holds Campaign Rally In North Carolina, Slams Four Dem Congresswomen Of Color; President Trump Dominating Democrats' Air Time; Internal Polling Shows Most Forceful Argument Against Trump Is That He's Ineffective; Interview With Dan Rather About President Trump's Attacks On the Four Congresswomen Of Color; CNN Democratic Presidential Debates. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 17, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: But here's the deal. This president only decides what he offers. You decide what to accept.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Do you think -- I don't know. In one year or 10 or 20 or whatever that those people who are chanting sends her back that they are going to be proud of that when they see the tape playing?

CUOMO: Now, you will slap me down and say I'm excusing bad thoughts. However, I don't blame people for how they feel when it comes from an honest place of disenfranchisement, concerns about disaffection, being left behind.

Now they can be factually incorrect. They can be misplacing the blame for their own situation. But I get the emotional connection. The president didn't make it up. He is just taking advantage of it.

LEMON: But he is manipulating it.

CUOMO: He is. And that's why I say, I mean, you've heard me say this a hundred times. Don't sleep on the disaffection and the fear, it's real. And we have a problem with race in the country. I don't have to tell you this, but --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But, Chris. All right. Hold on. Hold on.

CUOMO: Racism is overstated.

LEMON: It's just funny. Because it's similar -- you're saying a similar thing to -- I was watching Trevor Noah last night. Frustration doesn't make you racist.

CUOMO: True.

LEMON: It may make you frustrated.

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: It makes you susceptible to --

LEMON: But it doesn't make you scream --

CUOMO: -- to suggest about why --

LEMON: It doesn't make you scream send her back. It doesn't make you say racist things because you are frustrated or you're upset or you feel disenfranchised. I mean, you've been --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, it depends.

LEMON: You've been frustrated.

CUOMO: It depends.

LEMON: You've been upset.

CUOMO: I know. But I have a different --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Have you ever said racist things because of it?

CUOMO: I have a unique upbringing. I was born and raised in a place that is full of diversity and full of socio economic and all kinds of shades and colors of greens.

LEMON: So is the president.

CUOMO: You're damn right he was. He was from just blocks away from where I am.

LEMON: Just saying.

CUOMO: That's why I'm saying he knows better, D. Lemon. He knows better than what he's selling to these people. That's why I put it on him.

Now, you can say -- you say two things at once. You're saying that racism is a problem in the country but these people aren't racist. It's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that there's a broader group that he's trying to tap into with this fear. And I think it's potent. I think it's more potent that the Democrats understand.

LEMON: I think it's working. I'll give you that. I mean, the internal polling for the Democratic Party shows that it is working for number one, I think Karen Finney had a very good point last night. Is that, people don't want to -- they figure if they admit that he is racist, then that's admitting that they are racist.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Because they support him. CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And they would much rather say well instead of being racist, well, I don't -- why don't you speak English instead of saying I don't like changing culture or --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right. They have two different things. One, it's what you're saying.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And two, it's they want him to win because they benefit from it. So they will ignore what he's selling. That's just as big a problem in my estimation.

Now look, are there enough racist and hateful people in this country for him to win? I say no. But you combine those people with an unusual sense of loyalty and motivation with people who are fearful and believe that he is their best chance at disruption and improvement. And the Democrats playing with extremes on policies and making themselves susceptible to getting hit with a title of being a socialist. Now you've got a very potent combination that can make it very hard to take him out in the coming elections.

LEMON: So, what happens if someone comes in and says all those people there -- hey, you know, you got to go back to Ireland, you got to go back to Germany. You got to go back to Sweden. You got to go back to Russia. They started telling all of those people in the crowd where they came from why don't you go back to the terrible places where you are from. Because aren't we supposed to be the shining light the beacon on the hill?

CUOMO: Absolutely.

LEMON: We're supposed to be better than everyone else.

CUOMO: We are the white plume showing that the way is up. But here's the problem.

LEMON: So --

CUOMO: Here's the paradox. Each wave has gone through this here but it doesn't stop them from doing it to the next one. You know --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Everyone wants to shut the door behind them.

CUOMO: -- it was the English, it was the Irish, it was the Germans.

LEMON: Yes.

And then they made it through. Then who came, my people. And they got beat down by those same groups. And then the Italians made it through. And then what happened. You had Latinos and new waves of Afro-Carri beans coming in. What did we do? We went after them. I grew up in that.

Don, I grew up in Queens where there so many Italians that is a function of culture bias, insulation and ignorance. They held bigoted views. They held bigoted views. Every wave goes through it. It just doesn't stop them from being better than that. And that's why we're vulnerable to this.

And I just want people to see it for what it is. That's what this election is going to be about. I'm telling you, it's definition.

LEMON: It's really, really sad to watch. A lot of people I know, and you I thought I was getting to you last night, are saying I cannot -- I can't believe this is where we are. But, yet, we are. We're here. What do we do about it. And it's working for him.

CUOMO: I've never more dangerous than when I'm hurt.

[22:04:59] LEMON: I've got to run. Here's where I think. This is what I think though, for the Democratic Party. Either they play into this, right, by continuing to go down this thing with the four women, with Nancy Pelosi and all that or they realize that they're going to win on policies on policies instead of on issues like racism.

Very important issue, don't get me wrong. I'm an African-American man in this country. But I think those women have to realize that they must be strategic. And their voices are very important. What they're saying in many levels is important.

But as my mentor used to tell me, Freeda over at NBC to tell me all the time, cool your jets. This is when I was a little correspondent. She would say, cool your jets. You're going to go up against management. You're going to tell we're -- wait until you get there. Once you get your butt in that seat, here I am. My butt is in the seat now. Then you can say whatever you want because you have earned the right. Be strategic until you get to the place where you need to get.

CUOMO: Boy, they will slap all kind of labels on you about like, you know, patriarchy, you know, systemic.

LEMON: It's true strategy. You have to read the room. Know where you are in the moment. If you really think this person in the White House is an existential threat -- I'm not saying that. That if they believe that, because that's what they said, then you should read the room, know where you are. And if you get when is if you get him out of the White House, then you do your stuff. That's all I'm saying.

CUOMO: They will only win -- and again, all we want is a fair fight, right?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They will only win if they offer something better. Healthcare, yes. It's a metaphor issue for people. It's about security.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But they got to offer --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You don't get health care.

CUOMO: -- that's better.

LEMON: You won't get what you want in healthcare if you have the wrong person in the office.

CUOMO: That's right. But the message and the messenger have to come together only light can drive out darkness.

LEMON: Yes. OK. Lots to talk about. I got to run. My producer is like you're killing us. You're killing us.

CUOMO: Hey, your butt is in the chair. It better be a big chair.

LEMON: Boom. Well, not as big as yours. See you, my friend. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: See you.

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Got some serious stuff to talk about. Here's at it again. The president at his campaign rally in North Carolina tonight slamming four congresswomen of color. Railing against each one of them by name and by the way, that was scripted in the teleprompter. OK. Then doubling down on his love it or leave it refrain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So, these congresswomen, their comments are helping to fuel the rise of a dangerous militant hard left. But that's OK because we're going to win this election like nobody has ever seen before.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And tonight, I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremist who are constantly trying to tear our country down. If they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave. Let them leave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, that as the president is trying to convince you that his go back to where you came from attack on these congresswomen who call themselves a squad by the way, that it isn't racist. It is racist. It is.

And that's not all it is. It is a blatant, calculated strategy. Pay close attention. Sources are telling CNN that the president thinks that his attacks are

a winning -- are a winner politically. And he plans to keep it up. He said so himself as he was leaving the White House today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I do think I'm winning the political fight. I think I'm winning it by a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?

TRUMP: I think that they are not espousing the views of our country, the four congresswomen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And if that's not clear enough for you, there is this. OK? I'll spell it up for you again. So, stay with me here. The president tweeting earlier that Trump numbers -- I have no idea why Trump is in quotes. But "Trump numbers have recently gone up by four points to 50 percent. Thank you to the vicious, young socialist congresswomen. America will never buy your act. Hash tag MAGA 2020."

So, there it is right there. He told you exactly what this is all about. When I said you read the room, like, be strategic. This is all about 2020. And then there's this. Tweeting that not at all subtle message, "America one squad under God." Not so, so, get it? Well his Eric Trump flying the flag too telling Fox News this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Ninety-five percent of this country is behind him in this message. I mean, people love this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:09:55] LEMON: OK, 95 percent behind the president. Not even close. This is what our CNN polling is showing just a few weeks ago found that 43 percent approved of how the president is handling his job.

And then there is, you know, the Trump critic turned defender. Senator Lindsey Graham, who according to a reporter from NBC News, I should say, said, quote, "I really do believe that if you're a Somali refugee who likes Trump he's not going to say go back to Somalia. A racist says go back to Somalia because you're a Somalian or you're a Muslim or whatever. That's just the way he is. More narcissism than anything else."

Later going on to say, "I really do believe if you support him it's different than if you don't. It's not about being from Somalia. It's about whether you support him or not."

Here's the thing. You can't sweep the president's racist comments under the rug by making excuses for what he said it. He said something racist because he's frustrated or he said something because you didn't support him. You can't make an excuse for something that's racist for like, this is why he said it.

He said it. And what he said is racist. Lindsey Graham will tell you -- will try to tell you otherwise. But 2015 Lindsey Graham something is very different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's a race baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Where is that Lindsey Graham? While the president apparently couldn't be happier about how his racist attacks are playing with his supporters. All of this presents -- this is what Chris and I were talking about. All of this presents a very big problem for Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House and her party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is clearly trying to cast this broader debate as choice between him and your more progressive members. This fight has now dominated the conversation. This week you have had your resolution. The Democrats are rallying behind these members. Are you concerned that the president is goading you? Is there any --

(CROSSTALK)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. You know what, with all due respect, let's not waste time on that. We're not having him set our agenda. We're setting our own agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's exactly the problem for the speaker. The more the president doubles down on his racist attacks, the more Democrats fight back, the more attention is taken away from their agenda.

One Democratic lawmaker telling CNN that members in a closed-door meeting today heard a report on internal polling showing that their best argument against this president is that he is ineffective and standing in the way of progress on issues like jobs and infrastructure.

That polling showed that what doesn't work for them is being pulled in. Being drawn into fights with the president, damned if they do, damned if they don't, strategic.

But like I said last night, this is about taking a stand against the racism of the president of the United States. Against comments like, quote, "why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came."

Make no mistake. That is racism. Don't fall for the old OK-doke. Those words don't come out of your mouth or your tweets if it's not in your heart. It's also disgustingly cynical using hate to play politics. We've seen it before. There's no better example than the birther lie that this president used from the very beginning of his political career. The birther lie that Barack Obama was not born in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I want him to show his birth certificate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? Why?

TRUMP: There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, why not, I guess.

TRUMP: People have birth certificates. He doesn't have a birth certificate. Now, he may have one but there's something on that birth -- maybe religion, maybe it says he's a Muslim. I don't know.

And if he wasn't born in this country which is a real possibility. I'm not saying it happened, I'm saying it's a real possibility. Then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was 2011. When someone shows you who they are (AUDIO GAP) Weeks later, President Obama release his long form birth certificate. But did that stop Donald Trump?

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people didn't think it was an authentic certificate.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: How can you say that if the --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: A lot of the people. Now you won't report it, Wolf. But many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out. And frankly, if you would report it accurately, I think you'd probably get better ratings than you're getting.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: Finally, September 2016 Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [22:15:02] LEMON: Yet, he reportedly clings to the birther lie today.

And brace yourself. You're going to hear more disgusting manipulative garbage. OK? If you think he's learned his lesson. He actually did, the lesson of 2016, when hate and divisiveness helped him win the White House. It worked in 2016. But it fails spectacularly in 2018.

Let's not forget that utterly racist divisive campaign ad right before the midterms, stoking fear of immigrants with images of crowds of people and unknown locations who are never identified. It didn't work last year when a blue wave of Democrats took control of the House. It didn't work then. It wasn't on the ballot specifically.

The question is, will it happen in 2020. Will it work? President stirred up the crowd tonight with his attacks on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. And they responded by chanting send her back. Could these attacks turn dangerous? We're going to dig into it with Daniel Dale, Frank Bruni, and April Ryan, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump holding a campaign rally tonight in Greenville, North Carolina, his first since officially kicking off his reelection effort last month.

[22:19:58] His campaign strategy repeatedly labeling Democrats radical socialist and anti-American and doubling down on his attacks on the four congresswomen of color. Saying if they don't like the country, they should leave it.

So let's discuss now with Daniel Dale, Frank Bruni, and April Ryan. April is the Ryan of "Under Fire" -- is the author of -- she is the Ryan -- she is the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Line of the Trump White House." But she, I mean, she can be the Ryan, too, of course, since that's her last name.

Good evening, one and all.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I am a Ryan.

LEMON: You are the Ryan. So, Frank, President Trump is going all in on attacking these four congresswomen. I want you to watch and then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you see the four congresswomen, isn't that lovely.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: Representative Ilhan Omar.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: Representative Rashida Tlaib.

(CROWD BOOING) TRUMP: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: Representative Ayanna Pressley. I have a suggestion for the hate filled extremist who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say hey, if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave, OK? Let them leave.

They don't love our country. I think in some cases they hate our country. And they're so angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Are these attacks dangerous?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. No, I mean, it's funny as I listen to him do that earlier, you know, I thought, actually he's afraid with the four women. Because I think he's encouraging people to hate them. But I think they are --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But, hold on. But he's got the best security in the world. They don't, by the way.

BRUNI: They don't. No. But do you think he cares?

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: Forget about just those four women. We shouldn't forget about that these attacks are dangerous for the country. Because what he is doing is he is deciding to be as divisive as possible, to create as much ugliness as possible, to create as much mellow drama as possible because he thinks that's the atmosphere in which he thrives and the atmosphere in which he'll win.

He doesn't care. He'll take a torch to it all because he's happy to be the king of ashes, you know. And his campaign slogan should not be make America great again or keep America great. It should be burn, baby, burn. Because that's what he's doing, Don.

LEMON: It's -- I almost hate playing these sound bites because they're so --

BRUNI: They're ugly. I can't believe how ugly his has gotten. And I'm just -- I'm so hopeful the American people can see this for what they are. Listen, this is very deliberate. This is also not spontaneous at all. As you said it was on a teleprompter.

I wrote the other day after that tweet came out. He is trying to make these four congresswomen his opponents. He doesn't want to run against whoever the Democratic Party nominee is.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: He wants to run against that.

BRUNI: He wants to run against these four, he wants them to be the faces of the Democratic Party. He wants them to define the party.

And as you and Chris were discussing, the Democratic Party is in a sort of pickled here. Because the only right and moral thing to do and what they must do right away is say we standby these four women. Don't attack them this way. But they also can't be defined by these four women.

LEMON: But Nancy Pelosi at every turn is like we don't want him to define our, you know -- we're going to do our strategy, our policies, our agenda, and let's move in. And then she keeps getting asked about it and then she keeps getting drawn back into it every time someone says something about these women. Or every time, quite frankly, one of these congresswomen says something.

BRUNI: She has to be much more firmer about that. It's really hard. And you know, we in the media have to help them because it's not just the Democratic leadership that can't move on in responding. We keep asking them to respond.

LEMON: You mean --

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: So we need, everyone here needs to stop giving Donald Trump every iota of attention that he seeks. Because he does get it is and then we end up having his conversation and not another one. And he wins.

LEMON: And as the polling shows from the Democrats, instead of policy, everyone is talking about these sort of wedge issues and they're focused on that.

April, listen, Trump began by attacking Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The crowd responded by booing, and we also heard this. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screens (Ph).

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, we started out by talking about the president's tweets were racist this week. We started that, April. And now the president -- the crowd is chanting, you know, send her back. I mean, what the hell?

RYAN: This is America in 2019. The Trump America. It is -- it is a sad day when you have an elected member of Congress or four elected members of Congress who are black and brown women, who are speaking their truth and about issues that the president doesn't want them to talk against, meaning immigration.

[22:24:56] And for him to target them for Omar, she's been under fire by this president and her words have caused controversy and have been in headlines. She's apologized. But this president realizes and understands that there is a sentiment against her. He is playing on that. He's playing on her race, he's playing on her gender, he's playing on the fact that she is a woman who came from Africa. And she's a citizen here now.

It's ugly. And what the big concern is in the midst of all of this, even as she tweets, you know, my Angela (Ph) poem and still I rise. There's still a concern about her safety. She has apologized for her comments.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: You know, there was a resolution against her comments. But she now is trying to figure how to protect herself and her family. She's been under -- under watch with security for a while.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: And now it's ramped back up. And it's not just her. It's the three others as well.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I mean, as Frank said it's dangerous for beyond just, you know, the four women which we hope that they are safe. But also, it's dangerous for America.

Daniel, I have to say the president falsely accused Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of praising Al Qaeda. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Omar laughed that Americans speak of Al Qaeda in a menacing tone and remark that you don't say America with this intensity. You say Al Qaeda. It makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don't speak that way about America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Daniel, again, this is false.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: This is false. I want to be as clear as possible about this because I think this one of the most egregious false claims Trump has made as president.

Ilhan Omar did not praise Al Qaeda. She did not say Al Qaeda makes you proud, she did not say Al Qaeda is great or wonderful as Trump said earlier this week.

This is what happened. She did a 2013 interview on a local Minnesota PBS station where the host of the show on Middle East issues was using about why Americans used Arabic words for things like Al Qaeda, Al- Shabaab, madrasas, rather than English translation which she said would be less scary. And she basically agreed with this and she said it's about creating

this sort of scary intensity. And kind of chuckling she said she had a professor in college who would say the name Al Qaeda and sort of hands up and he wouldn't hands-up or speak with the same intensity about America or England.

And so, there are things to criticize there. I mean, I've seen people criticize her by saying she shouldn't laugh at all when talking about people's reactions to Al Qaeda. People saying, she shouldn't suggest there's some equal between Al Qaeda and America or England. That is all fair.

But to say that she praised Al Qaeda it could not be further from the truth.

LEMON: Well, we got to -- hold the thought.

RYAN: Say it again. Say that again.

LEMON: Frank, I want to get -- I'm going to get you and April in here. But we're also going to talk about where the rubber meets the road for the Democrats after this, and what their internal polling is showing.

We'll be right back.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back with me now, Daniel Dale, Frank Bruni, April Ryan. You wanted to make a point Frank, before we went to break.

BRUNI: Yes, because I don't hear people saying it. But Donald Trump just then and before accused our Representative Omar of being anti- Semitic. An anti-Semitism is a serious thing and she said some things over time that have disturbed me. But can we please not forget that Donald Trump defended the marchers in Charlottesville and among the things that those white supremacist were chanting. If I recall correctly was, Jews will not replace us.

LEMON: Blood and soil.

BRUNI: And he defended them. And he also on Twitter, etcetera has coddled, accepted the support of many white nationalists who are vehemently anti-Semitic. So, he's got some nerve accusing someone else of anti-Semitisms. Which again is a very serious thing anti- Semitism. I'm not downgrading that. I'm just saying his hands aren't clean.

LEMON: So, April, Dana Bash spoke to a Democratic lawmakers who attended a House Democrats meeting this morning. Where they saw internal polling showing the best argument against Trump is to paint him as ineffective on things like infrastructure or jobs. And what doesn't work, fights on impeachment or fights on race. Do you think that Democrats can be disciplined enough to stick to this?

RYAN: You know, they're disciplined enough to stick to this, but the issue is will it stick. Will it stick? It's like this is this president is -- no one has found the kryptonite for this president. We have seen time and time again you think you have something. You throw a piece of spaghetti up against the wall. And it just falls off. But the bottom line is as this president is ginning up all of the anger, this animosity. This racial hate. To stay on topic is very hard.

I mean, we have had infrastructure week since the president -- every week almost this president has come into office. You know, it's infrastructure week. What happened? You know, when the president had manufacturers talking about manufacturing in America. When, you know, we know that he had products made overseas. The issue is that he is bringing up these squad of four. So the president gets off point. And everyone else gets off point.

LEMON: Well, that is the kryptonite, April. That's a kryptonite, and Frank said it just before the break is that to not let him manipulate the news cycle, the conversation. Throw shiny objects. Report on everything he says. Every word he says is a rally, every insult that he hurls.

It's a tough one with this one.

LEMON: That is -- I think that is the kryptonite. Listen, Daniel, you know, let's talk about the issues here. Health care is obviously a huge issue going into 2020. President made this false claim tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Patients with preexisting conditions are protected by Republicans much more so than protected by Democrats who will never be able to pull it off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Again, false. Daniel.

DALE: This is extraordinarily false, Don. This is like up is down stuff. Democrats pulled it off already. In Obamacare. Democrats installed these very protections for people with preexisting conditions.

[22:35:04] It is Trump and Republicans who have repeatedly tried during the Trump presidency to weaken those protections and they haven't stopped. There's currently a lawsuit making its way through the courts, backed by the Trump administration trying to get the entire ACA, the entire Obamacare law declared null and void. And Trump has not presented any plan to protect people with preexisting conditions in the event that that suit actually succeeds.

LEMON: What do you think, Frank?

BRUNI: Well, I'm just listening to him say that about preexisting conditions, this is Daniel, rightly pointed out, completely untrue. But I'm thinking Trump's super-power here is that he will claim and say anything. His super-power is a shamelessness.

And I haven't seen anybody running for Democrats -- I mean running for president of the Democratic side who is prepared. Luckily to be that shameless. That says something for their character. But he will say and do anything in the service of this victory. And that is very hard to compete against.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Should there be repercussions for the president -- for his attacks on the Congresswomen. And Dan Rather weighs in next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump holding a campaign rally in North Carolina tonight using his speech as another opportunity to continue his attacks on four Congresswomen of color. That after tweeting over the weekend, why don't they go back to their crime infested countries? Entirely disregarding the fact that all four are American citizens. Dan Rather is here. His most recent book is, "What unites us reflections on patriotism." And it's always a pleasure to have you, sir. Good evening.

DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS TV'S THE BIG INTERVIEW: Good evening.

LEMON: You have been on a tear on Twitter. OK, let me just read some of this, this is your latest tweet. I hope we can finally stop asking if the president can sink any lower. Can we finally stop asking that?

RATHER: I think we can stop asking, because the answer is there's no bottom to it.

LEMON: Simple as that.

RATHER: Well, simple as in complicated that it look. Now we have talked about this for length and breadth in the Trump administration. This is a stress test for our country. Stress test for our democracy. And it's not going to get easier as we saw tonight in this rally. That he is using his racist taunts as a rallying cry for his reelection campaign, right. He has made it obvious that is going to be if not the main spine of it, certainly an important part of it.

LEMON: So, help a brother out. Help me out here. Seriously, I'm sure this is -- that many journalists and many news organizations struggle with this. Because had someone like a David Duke or anyone said some outright racist said what the president has said publicly. Tweeted what the president tweeted. We wouldn't dare put it on the air.

RATHER: That's true.

LEMON: And we are in this position that he is president of the United States. And we struggle with how much attention to give it. Because one, the main thing it's a political strategy. And is it our business to help him win the election by carrying out his --

RATHER: No, it's not our business to help him win the election by carrying him. And this is the dilemma for journalist and journalism organizations, and CNN and all the big newspapers. But when the president of the United States speaks, whether it's by tweet or making himself to a camera and microphone, it's usually news.

How we handle this in the 2020 election will have a lot to do with how the election turns out. For example in the last election, President Trump had hours and I mean, literally hours on some days to talk directly to the camera. Didn't matter what he said. If we do that again in 2020, those who are on journalism, then it could adversely affect the election for those who don't want President Trump elected.

LEMON: Even tonight. If you look at that -- most people in this country, the majority of the country did not see that rally, but yet, here we are, elevating it and broadcasting the ugly things he said. I mean, this is an honest dilemma, I don't know what the answer is.

RATHER: Well, I don't (inaudible) know what the answer is. But I do know that it was a big factor in Trumps election in 2016. And he'll try to make it so in 2020. I would think that those who make the decisions particularly major television networks and radio networks, and newspaper.

It would be a little more judicious and let's face and also the Democrats have to get smarter and they need to get bolder, and aggressive. I cannot understand why the Democrats haven't selected a spokesman or several spokesman to every time the president says something to come out and speak out. What the do is first one nada other, sometimes they have nobody. This is not smart politics.

LEMON: You tweeted I do not now how the politic of prejudice will play out. But I do believe the vast majority of Americans want to believe that this is not who we will be. How will we know if the majority of Americans are rejecting the president's racism?

RATHER: We'll find out at the ballot in the 2020 election. I don't think we'll find out before then. That will be the moment. When we will answer whether we are aspire to be a whole lot better or whether we want go back to in effect make America white again. Look, this is blatant racism.

There's no other word for it. I know it will make some people uncomfortable. And I know that there's some liftings by certain news organizations not to use the word racism. But if you look at what he has said and he repeatedly -- he's repeated it several times since then, there is no other word accurate to describe it.

LEMON: Yes. I'm glad you said that, because this is what he tweeted, he said, the president's cruelty is masked by the coward of his enablers who inflict just as much damage on this nation and its ideals. Men and women elected, you know, elected office shouldn't get a presumption of normalcy. They must answer for their silence in the face of bigotry and misogynist.

[02:45:04] Listen, the idea of normalcy seems to have sailed a long time ago. There's also the idea that Trump has normalized namely racism. So -- RATHER: We better hope that he has not normalize racism. And I am

reminded, I hate to go way back to (inaudible) year. A good deal of similarity. And there are also some great differences. Between President Trump and former Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace during his time. George Wallace has his day, remember he carried five, seven states in the presidential election of 1968, I think it was. But in the end, the tide of time and history left him in the dust.

Because the American people flirted with what George Wallace had to sell. And for a long time it looked like they were buying it. I among many other people who are very worried at the time. But in the end, the American people, the majority of the American people said this is not who we aspire to be.

Now, my hope and I will say my belief is that it will happen again. Will it happen quickly enough for Donald Trump not to be reelected in 2020? Well, we'll just have to see.

LEMON: So, you know, I asked Chris earlier about the people who were screaming, you know, send her back. If they would be proud of seeing that video in one year, three years, five years, 20 years. I remember doing research on Wallace, right. And the segregation -- now segregation -- whatever. And the people would be cheering in those crowds and I wondered like looking back how those people felt about --

RATHER: What a good point, Don. And think about all those photographs of people when African-American children were allowed to go to school with whites who stood on the sidewalks and spit towards them and cursed them. And now you go back and look at those pictures. Those people who are still alive have to be morally ashamed of those photographs. I do think the same thing will happen with the people who are shouting.

And by the way, I think that cheer didn't just come up spontaneously. It has all the earmarks of a very good campaign advance mincing, what do we have? Lock her up sounds a little dated. What else do we have?

We have to see clearly that President Trump sees these four young Congresswomen as his ticket to ride in 2020. In his view, every time anybody on television puts them up in front or does an interview with them, anytime it gets place on the newspaper. He thinks he wins.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

RATHER: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight, we know which 20 Democratic presidential candidates will be on stage when CNN hosts two nights of debates on July 30th and 31st. I'll be moderating along with my colleagues Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. Ten candidates will be on stage each debate night. I want to bring in Chris Cillizza to talk about which candidates will be participating. Chris, it's a lot. So tell us who the 20 Democratic candidates are that qualified for CNN Democratic primary debates.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Don. Let's run through it. Here we go in alphabetical order. Michael Bennet, Colorado Senator. Joe Biden, the former vice president. Cory Booker, the Senator from New Jersey. Steve Bullock, new to this debate, we will get into that more in a minute. The governor of Montana.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio. The current mayor of New York City, Bill De Blasio. John Delaney, a former Maryland Congressman. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Congresswoman. Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, a Senator.

We're halfway there, Don. California Senator Kamala Harris. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Washington Governor, Jay Inslee. Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar. Former Texas congressman, Beto O'Rourke. Ohio Congressman, Tim Ryan. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Spiritual adviser, Marianne Williamson and technologist and businessman Andrew Yang. That is all 20, Don.

LEMON: And that is all we have time for. I'm kidding. Boy, that is a lot. So, you said we talked' more a little bit later, right. About who made it and who not?

CILLIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: So tell us about who made the stage for the first time an about who didn't make the cut.

CILLIZZA: Sure. So 20 is the number that the DNC has said. So we have 20 in the first set of debates and we are going to have 20 in this two set of debates. There is one change. As I mentioned, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, he is now in.

He is included in these debates. Eric Swalwell, a California Congressman, he has dropped out of the race. He is out. So we have one in, Bullock, and one out, Swalwell. Other than that, the other 18 were on the stage in the first set of debates.

LEMON: Got it. So tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. That is the time. CNN will conduct a live random drawing to determine the candidate lineup for each night. How does that work?

CILLIZZA: Oh, man, the draw. OK. Here's how it works. The candidates are split into three categories. There is a category of 10, a category of six and a category of four. The 10 will go first. They will be picked -- a candidate's name will be picked from one box.

A candidate's debate night will be picked from the other box. They will be paired to five on one night, five on the other night. We will then move to the second set of candidates. That is the six.

Same thing. Candidates name from one box, candidates' debate night from the other box, we will move to the final four, the four last people, that is Bernie Sanders that is Elizabeth Warren that is Joe Biden and that is Kamala Harris. [22:55:00] Same deal. Their name from one box, their debate night

from another box. So two from the first -- sorry, five from the first draw, three from the second draw, two from the last draw. So we'll have 10 and 10, split up. We don't know who it will be yet. That is why you got to tune in.

LEMON: Well, you got through that. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And don't miss CNN's live random drawing to determine the candidate lineup for each debate night. Watch draw tomorrow, the draw is tomorrow night, it's at 8:00 Eastern. It's on Anderson's show it's during "AC 360."

And make sure you stay with CNN for the Democratic presidential debates, live from Detroit. Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and you know who, that guy in the middle, that is me, we will moderate. That is Tuesday July 30th and Wednesday July 31st at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

The campaign is just getting started. It's already vicious and it's racist. The big picture, how low will all of this go and will voters be turned off by it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)