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President Trump Disavows Racist "Send Her Back!" Chants; Lineups For CNN July 30 & 31 Democratic Debates Set; House Chaplain Prays To Cast "Dark Spirits" From Congress. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: --Hillary Clinton was wrong. The go-slows (ph) pragmatic approach does not work. And by extension, in this campaign, Joe Biden is wrong.

The Fix Obamacare approach is not the way to go. He got to go Medicare-for-All. We can sell Medicare-for-All, Green New Deal, free college, and other progressive ideas. We can sell all these things in one election. That's what they believe. That - this is the--


KING: --the people who believe we need to change the Democratic Party, go big, and go bold in the center stage of night one. A lot of people on the stage disagree with them. So, they're going to get incoming. There's no question.

They're going to get incoming from here, they're going to get incoming from here, they're going to get incoming from closing. It's too much. We can't sell it to the country. Walter Mondale lost 49, Michael Dukakis lost 40.


KING: They were not that liberal. Why - why are we doing this? They're going to defend it. This is going to be a fascinating night for--



KING: --for - for the progressives--

AXELROD: --Pete Buttigieg is going to be happy about is standing next to Bernie Sanders--


AXELROD: --because his is a new generation--


AXELROD: --message and--


AXELROD: --so illustrates that--

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: --than standing next to the oldest candidate in the race.

BORGER: But I think in the - in the argument between Sanders and Warren is a - is a real argument about who's best able to take on Donald Trump.

KING: Right.

And - and - and people will be judging them by that - by that measure. And - and we know that they're both fighters. We know Bernie Sanders has waged a national campaign before.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: But to see them next to - is going to be fascinating.

BORGER: Next to each other. And - and people will be judging them against each other. And the yardstick is Donald Trump out there.

CHALIAN: And how they - how Sanders and Warren choose to differentiate themselves from each other--


KING: Yes.

CHALIAN: --is going to be - we haven't seen that yet.


KING: Right.

CHALIAN: To your point about 30 percent.

KING: Right.

CHALIAN: But - but we just - they are so simpatico on so many of these policies, but they have very different ways of expressing it on the campaign trail.

KING: Right.

CHALIAN: And how they differentiate from each other--

GRANHOLM: And this--

CHALIAN: --this is a prime opportunity for them to do so.

GRANHOLM: To Anderson's point earlier, which is it's not necessarily about your plans, although it's - clearly it is, but it's also about how - your style--

BORGER: Right.

GRANHOLM: --and how you make people feel. And she has - very comfortable talking about her personal story. And Bernie Sanders has a - is a little more--

COOPER: But isn't it more--


COOPER: --but isn't it more, I mean, tapping into something? I mean, you know--

GRANHOLM: Yes, she is.

COOPER: --I mean, I - I - I can't explain - you can't explain very, you know, in a simple sentence how Donald Trump won, but he clearly won in--


COOPER: --in a way no other candidate has.

JONES: Listen, Elizabeth Warren has passion that last time though she got a pass. She was the - that she was a professor with a bunch of graduate students around her. I mean she was--

KING: Right.

JONES: --just the towering figure there. This time, she's going to be on the stage with some people who she got to deal with.


JONES: Pete Buttigieg is no joke.

COOPER: Stay with CNN for the Democratic Presidential Debates. It's going to be live from Detroit 8:00 P.M. Eastern on Tuesday, July 30th, and Wednesday, July 31st. Dana Bash, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper are going to moderate, two big nights, 10 candidates each night, only on CNN. Thanks for watching this AC 360 Special Report.

Now to Chris Cuomo, CUOMO PRIME TIME, Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The stage is set for the Democratic debates in Detroit. You just saw live the drawings here on CNN. So, what are the key matchups? What are the stakes? We have PRIME TIME primary politicos here with the scoop.

And the latest layer has been put on this President's lasagna of lies. He says he wasn't happy to hear his echo last night. He now says he tried to stop his supporters when they were making the racist chant of "Send her back!"

I have to laugh because it is an absurd suggestion. It's on tape, and it's Throwback Thursday, so let's do a little rewind. Shall we?

And is Anthony Scaramucci going to be excommunicated from the GOP for telling the truth about the President's racist attack? Did the party really just punish him for being candid? The former White House Communications Director is here.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: All right, the President says the chant he inspired bothered him, and he tried to stop it.




TRUMP: And it - it really was a loud. I disagree with it, by the way. But it was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it. But I will say this, I did, and I started speaking very quickly.


CUOMO: He can say it. But it doesn't make it true. You know what makes it true? The tape. Roll it.


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.



CUOMO: You know how you can tell when I don't like something? Because I go like this.

Ridiculous! 13 seconds, he sat satisfied. He betrayed zero upset. He made zero effort to stop the chant. He doesn't agree with it? He literally said "Go back to where you came from." That's where the chant comes from.

So, here's the real question, why is the President playing it both ways? What is the play for Democrats here to play to advantage? Big night, big names, Astead Herndon, Alexandra Rojas, Wajahat Ali, and Paul Begala. [21:05:00] Welcome. Welcome. Good to have you back. Good to have you back. So, I can't be wrong about what I just said, Begala. The truth is he liked the chant. He was satisfied by the chant. He didn't try to stop the chant. He is lying. Why is he having it both ways?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Everybody wants to try to have things both ways. I'm sort of surprised because usually he just doubles down. That's usually his only move is like "You call me a racist? I'm going to say more racist stuff." So, I found that noteworthy.

But it is, to me, what's interesting is how do - how do decent people in both parties respond. The Republicans so far have really disappointed us, right? And the Democrats, I think, they have to guard against rising to the bait.

And thinking a lot today about President Obama, President Clinton, the only two Democrats since the Second World War win the White House twice.

Clinton is on this (ph) segregation in the South, who then, of course, supported Civil Rights, Barack Obama, our first Black President. They talk about race a lot, but they didn't rise to the bait.

In other words, I think what they would do is contextualize it, not just condemn it. You have to condemn it, but then contextualize it. Why is he doing this? He is using division as a diversion.

CUOMO: But Paul, they didn't deal with somebody like this. They didn't deal, Astead--

BEGALA: No, it's true.

CUOMO: --with somebody who was playing--

BEGALA: It's true.

CUOMO: --race in their face.


CUOMO: Now, he can back away from it. But you know what that is. "I'm going to feed you your outrage, and then I'm going to say to the rest of you, I'm not that outrageous."

HERNDON: Exactly.

CUOMO: But how do deal - you how do you deal?

HERNDON: I don't - let me just say one thing. I was in North Carolina last night. And before you had the big moment of "Send her back!" that we all know, the vitriol in that building was palpable.

You had folks screaming "Traitor." You had folks screaming "Treason." It was building to that moment, and then you had the President sit in that kind of satisfied faction, as it was rising up.

I think that is a little different than what we've seen those other Presidents have to deal with, because this is someone who is reveling in this kind of White identity politics and grievance, and someone who is stoking that kind of so explicitly.

And I - I - I think for anyone who has been following this, and for me on the trail, it's jarring to go from the Democratic primary world, where they're kind of talking in policies about how they're going to--


HERNDON: --you know, speak to voters of color here and there, and - and kind of about the racial wealth gap and things, and then you go to this kind of setting, where they're also talking about race, but they're using it in a much - much different, more divisive and galvanizing fashion--


HERNDON: --which presents Democrats with a challenge. How do you meet him on that kind of a bigger plane of--

CUOMO: Exactly.

HERNDON: --of what America is going to be.

CUOMO: Exactly. And I've gotten some heat--


CUOMO: --from the Democrats saying, well why do you talk about what he's doing so? Because it matters.

ALI: Right.

CUOMO: Because that's what this election is going to be about. He said "You're not going to hear my plan on healthcare till after the election" for a reason. He wants to litigate identity in this country. Who we are? Who we aren't? What we accept? What we reject?

I don't see the Democrats playing to advantage here. What am I missing?

ALI: Because Democrats always bring a butter knife to a gun fight, and the Republicans bring a rocket and kill everyone, including their own base. Look, you have to take this on the offensive because there are real-life repercussions to this.

I'm a person of color. When I get told to go back home my entire life, I was like, "Wow! This is racist and hurtful." But I did not know, Chris, until this week that they were just simply disagreeing with my political and economic ideology, right?

And what we're witnessing, and let me be very subtle here, is the death rattle of White supremacy in America and in Europe. They're playing for all the marbles. President Trump is not doing 3D chess. President Trump is a racist. He has a history of this since the 70s. He ran on the Obama birther conspiracy, right?

BEGALA: Right.

ALI: 2018 midterms, he could have run on the economy, he could have run on jobs. He says, "No. I know my base." What did he run on? "The Jews are funding the caravan of immigrants and rapists."

So, this is him playing to his base. And the only reason why he pulled back was like "Huh, maybe the optics of an entire chant of White people yelling "Send her home! - Send her home!" where I sit there luxuring and bathing in this looks bad to me."

CUOMO: Certainly not trying to stop it. Now--

ALI: Yes, not trying to stop it at all.

CUOMO: And - and why did he pick these? Why isn't he going after Biden and Bernie as much as he's going after Brown women? And, you know, when I - again, people get upset when I put it that way.

But you tell me why he picked these four people, and why he keeps talking about them? He talks about these four, more than he does anybody who's running against him. What do the Democrats do about that?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well I think that they need to embrace it, right? I think go on the offensive, and talk about our vision because the reality is, is that, you know, the progressive ideals that these four Congresswomen represent.

And let me take a step back because I think that Fox News and Donald Trump have been targeting these women. They've at least been targeting AOC.

And the reason why is because these are four women of color and they are trying to point to these White voters and say, "You have nothing in common with Black and Brown people of this country."

CUOMO: And that's why you see Tucker Carlson doing it so much because he is the picture of the waspy White male, right?

ROJAS: That's absolutely true. But the--

CUOMO: So, he is the right one to harness the outrage and say--


CUOMO: --"They want to take me out and replace me with these people--

ROJAS: And absolutely.

CUOMO: --don't be like me." ROJAS: And they wanted, to your point of distraction, I think they're weaponizing racism. I think it's true that he is a racist. But they're also weaponizing it for a political purpose.

[21:10:00] And that's to distract, you know, to make White voters and Black and Brown voters think that they don't have the same problems that they're facing when the reality is, is that there's one party, the Democratic Party that is going to hold this President accountable, that's going to hold Wall Street accountable, that's going to, you know, actually do something about--

CUOMO: Except that right now--

ROJAS: --about bad trade deals.

CUOMO: --Paul, the Democrats are holding each other accountable more than they're doing--

BEGALA: They are.

CUOMO: --anything else. And it's not just the primary process.

BEGALA: I know. It's - it - I always--

CUOMO: It's hard to say leave these people alone--


CUOMO: --when you've been going at it with them as well--

BEGALA: It is--

CUOMO: --within the party.

BEGALA: But it - the point that Alexandra made is the most important one. It - I believe it deeply. It's my life experience growing up in the South.

It's their strategy is to divide White working people against people of color, so they can rule from above. This is the demagogue strategy around the world, but certainly in America, and the American South.

And we should be - Democrats should be calling that out and objectifying it as the strategy, because then what you're doing, you're not demonizing everybody, 62 million of us, who voted for Donald Trump.

I don't mean me, but 62 of our fellow Americans, 62 million. We're instead contextualizing, explaining to them, a lot of people voted for Barack Obama than Donald Trump, right?

I think rather than condemn, what we ought to do is contextualize the way Alexandra just did. We have - we should be telling them you have a lot more in common with those kids marching in Ferguson than you realize. You're both getting screwed over by a system that's unjust and rigged against you. That's what I want to hear Democrats saying. I don't think they will

in the debate. I think they'll probably go after each other for tactical reasons. But the strategy is what Alexandra said.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

ALI: But there's a problem because the Democrats always get hijacked by the Republican base, the Republican base that will never vote for them. And I will say that the Democrats--

CUOMO: A lot of them used to be Democrat base.


ALI: But they always chase - they always chase this mythical moderate - moderate unicorn voter who drinks real coffee in a real state and is an ordinary American while ignoring the base that actually comes out to vote. 2012, Obama, he gets only 39 percent of White voters.

CUOMO: Right.

ALI: Important, doesn't get the majority, but he brings out the base. Black women--


ALI: --Latinos, Asian-Americans, new voters, young people, women. And look at Donald Trump. He's attacked women, Muslims, Black people, immigrants, so don't hide--

CUOMO: Fair point. So, isn't that why you--

ALI: Yes.

CUOMO: Astead, last word for you. Then we'll go to break and I need you guys to stay because I want to talk about these matchups, and what we expect, and don't expect in the debate.

But I don't see them using this, the Democrats, to bring out that base, and say this is your alternative, and all of you are potential victims of this vitriol, if it continues. When does that happen?

HERNDON: I think it happens as we move closer towards a general election matchup. Right now, they have an incentive to talk about each other in this large field to kind of separate themselves from one another.

But the - what is looming, right, like what - what yesterday reminded me of was no matter what Democrats are saying to differentiate each other from themselves, they need - they - they, for them to be successful, need to unite against a Republican party that is united around Donald Trump's ideology.

The - the question of who Republicans are was settled in 2016, and reaffirmed in 2018. For Democrats to be successful, they need to have - they have to have

this kind of internal identity fight. But they would have to come together and have that type of motivation because Republicans are motivated.

CUOMO: This is a great group. Please stay. Why? Big news tonight in this 2020. We now know the lineups for the next Presidential Debates on CNN. We know who's on, which night. We know how they're situated.

Now the big question is who's going to play to advantage and who is in for a long night? We'll debate it all, next.








CUOMO: All right, big night here on CNN, just conducted the draw to determine the lineups for the next Democratic Presidential Debates in Detroit. The two candidates competing for the title of progressive champion will be on the stage together this time on night one.

Who's that? Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. Let's listen to Warren in Iowa reacting to the draw.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I am delighted. Bernie and I have been friends for a long, long time. We've worked on lot of issues together.


CUOMO: But now I'm going to pop him in his nose. No. And on night two, we have Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, and you have Biden flanked by the two people who've done the most damage to him, so far, Booker and Harris.

So, you know, we got the team here. We got Astead Herndon, Alexandra Rojas, Wajahat Ali, and Paul Begala.

So, how do you feel about the lineups, Rojas?

ROJAS: I mean I think it's incredibly - it's going to be an exciting night, both nights. Like you just pointed out, on the second night, you have Biden and Kamala Harris, where she had an incredible moment on stage. But on the first night, you have two progressive champions that I

think are going to push the rest of the field that is offering moderate, more centrist positions, you know, to - to be bolder, and to actually have a vision and a plan for the futures.

CUOMO: Most to lose on the stage Tuesday night is Bernie Sanders, true or false?

HERNDON: I'd agree. I think that Bernie Sanders has been put in the tough position by the kind of rise of Elizabeth Warren in the second quarter. She out-raised him.

That puts him in a position where I think - as someone who covers her rallies, her supporters are someone who are looking at him, and I think they're going to want some separation between the two of them.

I think both nights have very interesting kind of things at the top.

When we look at the second night, Biden and Harris, I mean the - the Joe Biden world was personally wounded by that first debate, felt that she had crossed a - crossed a personal line.

But I also think on that second night, look at Cory Booker as well because you have those folks in the second night who are looking specifically at Black voters. Joe Biden holds the lead among those people on both those nights.

You have - you have two sets of groups who are playing in the same electoral lane, which causes some interesting matchups.

CUOMO: And you can't stay that way. You can't stay friends. This is a competitive process.

ALI: Yes.

CUOMO: I know they say it. But it can't stay that way. Do you think Booker makes a play for Harris' lane because only one of those two have a chance at getting the ticket. Unfortunately, that's still our politics of culture in this country.

ALI: I think--

CUOMO: The idea that, you know--

ALI: Yes.

CUOMO: --they will keep going and be part of this cooperative the whole time, it's just not practical.

ALI: I think people learned from the first debate, who is the rising star? Kamala Harris. She went after the top dog. Not only did she go after the top dog, she dropped on social media that beautiful photo, that narrative. And right after that narrative photo, fundraising email.

So, how do you win? I think Cory Booker goes after Biden. I think Biden's still going to be the top dog. I think you're - do a rematch between Biden and Harris.

I'm really curious to see how Biden positions himself because he was too defensive in the first round, and at the same time too weak. So he has to get this - this maneuvering, right, with Harris.

And Harris, I think, is going to double down, eat away at the voters. And then the first night, I think, is going to be really interesting.

I think Buttigieg is going to separate himself from Warren and Sanders, and say, "I am your moderate choice. Come to me America. I just got $25 million. I'm in the top five. I'm not as crazy Leftist as these guys. I'm your centrist."

So, those are the two matchups I'm really interested in.

BEGALA: And if you're Pete, if you're a strategist for Pete, the first thing you're saying to him is, "Man, you've got to get in the game with people of color. That's the heart and soul of Democratic Party."

ALI: Zero percent right now.

BEGALA: And he's - he's - he's - he's sucking wind with them.

CUOMO: Nowhere to go but up.

BEGALA: Nowhere to go but up. It's good news, Pete.

ALI: That's optimist. That's optimist.

BEGALA: But here's the cool thing for Pete. A whole lot of those people of color are also moderates. Democrats just nominated the most diverse field they have ever nominated and the most moderate and - I've seen in the last 10 or 15 years.

So, he can't go to the - he doesn't have to sacrifice his own views, if he is more moderate. I suspect he is. But--

CUOMO: You think this field is the most moderate field?

BEGALA: No. The House candidates--

[21:20:00] CUOMO: Oh, I think that's what you just said.

BEGALA: --we just had in 2018.

CUOMO: Oh, I was going to say--


BEGALA: Sorry, let me be clear, no.

CUOMO: He said that right?

HERNDON: He did.

BEGALA: No, no. CUOMO: Is he tried to - because I'll run the tape on his ask too (ph). Go ahead.

BEGALA: No. The House candidates of Democrats just won a landslide with--

CUOMO: Right.

BEGALA: --were the most diverse and the most moderate. And I think that's a really good model for the Democratic Party into - going into this election.

CUOMO: Here's the thing. You know, it's a debate, OK? And, you know, we were talking a little bit during the breaks. It's - always the best conversation is during the break, by the way, is that it's not about policy.

I would argue that the campaign isn't really about a policy at all, especially this one. I think the state of play is going to be an intense identity conflict. But you got to have the one-liners and go.

The weird thing last time was Biden's great at that, and he didn't in that debate. He stunk at one-liners. And Harris was peppering him. So, who do you think this plays to advantage for?

ROJAS: Well I mean--

CUOMO: Stylistically?

ROJAS: Yes. Well I mean I think these public moments of accountability are not good for Biden - Biden.

I think that he is shown to - to really struggle, I think, with - with candidates like - contrasting like Kamala Harris, who I think comes off as extremely energetic, and I think, especially women of color are really excited to see a powerful Black woman commanding her space on stage. But I think that--

CUOMO: We haven't seen her take a punch yet though.

ROJAS: Well--

CUOMO: That'll be interesting. I don't know that if we will in this debate. I - I think it's hard, right, because you got a little gender politics also. It's not - women have challenges in how they - how they project strength without being seen somehow as hard.

ROJAS: I think they do. I think they--

CUOMO: But men have a challenge in terms of how they take on a woman also, although it didn't hurt the President.

ROJAS: I think that--

BEGALA: It didn't stop Bernie, either.

CUOMO: He took her--

ROJAS: That is true.

BEGALA: Bernie took some shots at Hillary and, you know.

CUOMO: He took some.

BEGALA: Well he lost, he lost.

CUOMO: But "I don't give a damn about your emails," I mean who else would have said that?

BEGALA: That was - that was cool.

CUOMO: You know what I mean? Well--


CUOMO: --it was cool for Clinton. It wasn't cool for Bernie.

BEGALA: It didn't hurt--

CUOMO: Bernie should have played that different.

HERNDON: I mean you could do both.

BEGALA: And Bernie did better after he said that.

ROJAS: You know, you can do--

HERNDON: I mean you can use policy to make stylistic differences.


HERNDON: I think the power of what Harris did in the first debate was use that busing moment to really talk about electability, to show strength to going at Joe Biden.

In that first debate, I would bet that Bernie Sanders uses Medicare- for-All for two reasons, one, to contrast himself with Biden, but to suddenly hit at Senator Warren.

They - that community has felt that she has been a little soft on that issue, and that they are stronger. It's offending the kind of merits of that. And they want to pin her down on that.

HERNDON: I would say in that first debate, they used the policy to make a kind of stylistic contrast, not only with the front-runner in the race, but with the progressive side--

CUOMO: I'm with you. I'm with you but let's play Warren--

HERNDON: --also.

CUOMO: --let's play Warren's game for a second. You know, so you're Bernie, and you say, "I'm all-in, I'm all-in," all

she has to do is say, "Yes, me too. Me too. I just think I can get it done. And I see attacking corporations is something that I'm actually an expert at."

ALI: Right.

CUOMO: You've talked about it a lot, you know, and you like talking about it. "I've done it. That's how I got into this game." So, where's - where's the advantage in that?

ALI: I think Bernie has a lot to lose because Bernie is your - he's coming off as the one-trick pony, and he owns it. He goes, "Yes, I've been consistent on message." That's my Bernie Sanders impression. Thank you.


CUOMO: It's all right. I've seen worse.

ALI: That's why CNN pays me.

CUOMO: I've seen worse.

ALI: And he says, "That's who. I am a one-trick pony. I am consistent on my message. You know what you get."

Warren, I think, going back to your original thing about policy and personality, this is where she can shine.

She can be like "Look, I'm not that rusty Harvard professor. I'm from the Midwest. And I made it. And I can understand how the system can change and policies can be put in a place, so a woman like me can be empowered to be a Senator."

And that's where she comes in with the personality and the policies, which are progressive. And I - I reject this. May I just reject this? I just reject this whole moderate centrist play. I think it's nonsense.

I think we just saw right now, the House passed what, $15 minimum wage. Four years ago, that was seen as, wait for it--

CUOMO: Does that win a national--

ALI: --radical.

CUOMO: Does that win a national election?

ALI: I think, right now, if you look at the policies, attacking climate change, I think yes, people are interested in that. At least something better than Trump, compare yourself to Trump. Texas versus the United States right now to abolish Obamacare, right?

BEGALA: Right. ALI: Hey, you think this is too extreme? Well guess what? Let's go on the offensive for once. The Republicans are going to demolish Obamacare.

So, I think they can unite. I think you have personality, I think you have policy, and I'm going to say this again, go on the offense with your progressive policies, especially compared to Trump's rally.

We have policies that will unite all Americans. We might disagree here and there. But I'm going to help you. If you're Latino, if you're a woman, if you're middle-class, you're lower class, my policies on healthcare, on economy, on wages are much better than Donald Trump.

Compare and contrast, who's the extremist?

BEGALA: But they - they are - they should say some of that, not all that or anything, but--

ALI: Because you're the moderate.

BEGALA: The President of the United States - yes.

ALI: Because you're the moderate.

BEGALA: Yes, who's helped win two or three Presidential elections, when--

ALI: Oh, you had to drop that in. Well played.

BEGALA: It does matter. We have a, I think, a fanatic in the White House now. I think it's an existential threat to our country. And so, all I care about the Democrat--

ALI: Agreed.

BEGALA: --is who can beat him. And when you tell Americans, for example, that Donald Trump is in court trying to take away their protections for pre-existing conditions, they get angry.

If you tell them, which no Democrat has, Donald Trump has proposed the largest cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in history, no Democrat ever says that, because they're so busy talking about how they want to outlaw private health insurance, which is a total loser. I don't understand this.

[21:25:00] Focus on Trump. He is, I think, the worst thing could ever happen in this country, and he's right there damaging everything that Democrats believe in. And instead of doing that, they're playing some sort of purity game to be the most Leftists. I think it's crazy.

ROJAS: I think that that's absolutely--

CUOMO: Last word, go ahead.

ROJAS: I - I don't think that's true at all. I think you have people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that

have the clearest records of actually holding Wall Street accountable, of challenging multinational corporations, protect - you know, standing up against bad trade deals.

And unfortunately, the more centrist positions - people on stage have been for those things.

So, I think if we actually want to show the American people that we're serious about not just holding Donald Trump accountable, but deeper than that, the billionaire class that is continuing to weaponize with the GOP and Fox News, weaponizing racism, you have to hold these people accountable.

You can't just say, "Oh, you know, I'm too scared. I got to play politics a little bit." You have to. If you're going to say that you want to hold this President accountable, move forward--

BEGALA: We have to barge (ph)--

ROJAS: --with impeachment.

BEGALA: --on health insurance?

ROJAS: No. But you have to talk about actually--

BEGALA: OK. This is what I'm saying.

ROJAS: No, but you have to actually talk about transforming the lives of working people--

CUOMO: Right.

ROJAS: --in this country and that means--

CUOMO: Rojas is about the big idea.

ROJAS: --providing every--

CUOMO: She - she believes that the policy is the hook--

ROJAS: --single person with healthcare.

CUOMO: --to the big idea. I believe the night is always about the big moment.

They can be the same. They rarely are. Who will be smart enough to get their people positioned in time, to start their own chance, when they're up there having a moment on the stage? That's how you win a debate.

You guys are great. May we please do this again? So, this is our kind of talk about what's going on in terms of on the Left.

Now, on the Right, my suggestion is simple. Don't be a sucker when you're listening to this President, all right? He can tell you that he tried to stop that racist chant. He started it. That's the fact. We showed you it on tape.

Now, why is he having it both ways? Because that is the best tactic for him in moving a culture war that he doesn't want to own, all right.

But what's going to happen in 2020? I have a very shrewd political mind here who says, "You know why the President's doing what he's doing with race? Because he has to."

Really? Why? Answer, next.








CUOMO: This President had 13 seconds to stop the "Send her back!" garbage.

Now, that's like an eternity on stage or on television, all right? It's not like 13 seconds is a little bit of time. It's a lot of time, and he said nothing. Why? Because clearly he thinks he benefits from division. He sees it as a winning strategy.

Ron Brownstein, the man I call The Professor, because he is smart, says there is a practicality to what is going on here. Good to have you on PRIME TIME, as always brother.


CUOMO: Help me understand this.

BROWNSTEIN: Good to be here.

CUOMO: I see this as a matter of choice.


CUOMO: You say not so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Yes, no, I agree. It is - you had it exactly right when you started. This is what he wants to do, but to a much greater degree than the White House or most Republicans will acknowledge.

By this point, it is also what he has to do. And the reason I say that is because he has already diverged so far from the other path that was available to him that he can't get back to it, I think, anymore.

What was the other path? The other path was the Ronald Reagan question. Are you better off than you were four years ago? And he will raise that question, you know, throughout the next, you know, 15, 18 months.

But the fact is that the racial division, the divisiveness, the gender remarks, the volatility that he's already done has alienated, Chris, as we've talked about before, too many of the voters who would answer yes to are you are, are you better off than you were four years ago. Even if they say yes to that, they will still say no to him.

In polling, they are about a fifth of the voters who say that they approve of Donald Trump's handling of the economy. In CNN polling, ABC/Washington Post polling, and Quinnipiac polling, still say they disapprove of him overall and/or that they are going to vote for Joe Biden.

So, he has, through the racial divisiveness that he's already and the other kinds of divisiveness that he's engaged in, I believe he has already narrowed the pool of swing voters who would come to him because of the economy.

And the paradox is that forces him to constantly try to turn out more of his base by ginning up more racial anxiety even at the price of potentially pushing away yet more of the swing voters who say that he's - you know, who - who are satisfied with the way the economy is going. I think he has--

CUOMO: Are there enough?

BROWNSTEIN: --he has moved so far from the other path that I don't think he can get back to it anymore.

CUOMO: Are there enough people who will - who that message will appeal to, to win?

BROWNSTEIN: It's right at the margin, right? I mean it - it - it - in the popular vote, almost certainly not. In the Electoral College, possibly.

Here's the - here's the delta - here's the reality that the most important swing voters in the electorate, I believe, and I think many people in both parties believe, are voters who are satisfied with Trump's performance on the economy because that's around 50 percent, which is what an incumbent needs, but dissatisfied with his overall performance, which takes him down to 43, 44, 45, which is a much more marginal situation.

That delta between the voters who are satisfied with the economy but not with his overall performance, I think, is the margin between something that's right on the, you know, right on the edge for him or even below for something in which he's in a more traditional position for an incumbent President. And yet--

CUOMO: So, why did Captain double down hedge on what happened-- BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: --last night and try to lie and say that--

BROWNSTEIN: Ah! He barely--

CUOMO: --he didn't want it.

BROWNSTEIN: --he barely hedged. I mean he did what he did with Jake Tapper and David Duke, he - in - in March 2016.

He sends the message loud and clear, and then he embroiders on a tiny bit of a disclaimer, so that he flummox the media or enforces us to talk about, imagining (ph) everybody who needed to hear him say "Go home" or "Send her back!" hurted.

And, you know, that moment, I think, is a defining moment, because as I've said over the last couple of days, imagine that scene playing out in any other arena of American life.

If 20 high school students stood around a classmate on a football field in a hijab and said, "Send her home," what would happen to them?

If 20 people did it in a lunchroom, at - at - at your job around one of their co-workers, or in the corporate boardroom, if a CEO said to their Senior Vice President, "You know, go back to where you're from because you disagree with me," what would happen to them?

I - I - I was exchanging with General Hertling last night. What would happen in the military if that happened, if a platoon leader allowed that to happen?

[21:35:00] We all know the answer. And the only reason, you know, the - the - the - the enormous magnitude of how unusual this is, and how out of bounds this is for a kind of contemporary American life, I think only - you could only miss it if people don't call it out. And I think--


BROWNSTEIN: --we - we - we need to hear from business leaders about what they would do--


BROWNSTEIN: --if someone said this in their own workplace.

CUOMO: Yes. And the question is, why aren't we hearing more playing on the offense from Democrats about exactly this? When are they going to embrace that this election is going to be about identity politics, not about the most Lefty--


CUOMO: --healthcare plan.


CUOMO: But I got to jump, Ron.


CUOMO: Your piece is coming out in The Atlantic tomorrow morning?

BROWNSTEIN: In the morning.

CUOMO: All right, so--


CUOMO: --this would be the, you know, the really thick version of this to get in there and understand--


CUOMO: --the theory that Ron is laying out to you, and what the variables are. It is promising to be a good read.

BROWNSTEIN: This is not just strength, it's weakness, is the point.

CUOMO: I hear you. Ron, thank you very much--


CUOMO: --as always, The Professor.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: So, look, and how are we seeing it made manifest? So, it's creating pressure on the Democrats to figure out how to counter it, right, which I see as opportunity, but it's also creating pressure on the Republicans of what to do with it.

This President's so popular in his party. So, what happens when you speak about him? Ask this good-looking guy on your screen.

His former Communications Director, only said what is obvious, only said what any common sense demands you say about what he said, and Anthony Scaramucci, I think he just paid a price for it within his party. We'll hear it from him, next.








[21:40:00] CUOMO: You know the line that we wrote here is that Republicans have been straddling a fine line this week. No, they haven't. They've haven't been straddling any damn line. They've been ignoring the obvious.

This President tweeted something that was racist, and it was racist on purpose, but they don't want to risk the wrath, because his pull is strong in the party, and they are worried about not benefiting from his glory.

And you know who just felt the bite? One of the people who was best to him in all of this, Anthony Scaramucci, former Comms Director.




CUOMO: Good for you, by the way. First of all, where are you? What are you, like having a hot dog on the street?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: No. I'm outside the Hunt & Fish Club, you know. I - I - they - they stopped serving lobster in there because of what happened today, so I'm out here talking to you.

CUOMO: You can't even get into your own restaurant. So, you say what is--

SCARAMUCCI: Getting into my own restaurant.

CUOMO: You say what is obvious. What he said in that tweet was racist. You say you don't think--

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, of course.

CUOMO: --he's racist. But what he put in the tweet was racist.


CUOMO: What's the difference?

SCARAMUCCI: Well he's not racist because I - I spent enough time with him to know that he's not racist, but here's the problem.

If racists think you're racist, OK, one of my best friends who happens to be African-American said to me this morning, "If racists think that you might be racist, you may want to change your view of things, you may want to reposition yourself."

So, he's not racist. But he's got to stop what he's doing. I listened to the last segment. I predict that he will stop what he's doing. I - I predict that today was a turning point for him, where he was walking back the chant stuff, and saying that he was not happy with it. I think he will settle down crowds in the future, and I think he will stop that rhetoric. It's just too divisive. And whatever--


CUOMO: I don't know. The other side of that, Anthony is that--

SCARAMUCCI: --to telling that will not--

CUOMO: --it's exactly - he's doing it because--

SCARAMUCCI: --that will not work, that will not work.

CUOMO: --it's divisive. The other side is he thinks it's--


CUOMO: --the only thing that'll work. Let me ask you something just to--


CUOMO: --give us a little bit of context.

SCARAMUCCI: But it's not going to work, it's not going to work.

CUOMO: Did you talk to him?

SCARAMUCCI: That - that will lead to electoral - no, I haven't talked to him, no.

CUOMO: Did you talk to the--

SCARAMUCCI: No, I haven't talked to him.

CUOMO: --White House today?

SCARAMUCCI: He has - no, I haven't talked to the White House today. You know, they're a bunch of fraidy-cats inside the White House.

There's a lot of people inside the White House, trust me, that think that it was wrong, but they're just too afraid to admit it, or even go into his office, and say, "Hey you got to walk that back," OK?

CUOMO: Because I'm wondering why he--

SCARAMUCCI: But that's - that's all fine because--

CUOMO: --walked it back at all.

SCARAMUCCI: Because I do think that very smart people that like him are getting in his ear, and are telling him, "Don't do that," because that's electoral suicide in places like Pennsylvania, and places like Michigan, where you have hundreds of thousands of people that just got there that legalized immigration, and they are being told by people that are racist, "Go back to where you belong," like they told my grandmother, and they possibly told your grandmother, so.

CUOMO: Yes, absolutely.

SCARAMUCCI: I don't want to talk about that though, honestly, because I actually think he did the right thing today. And I disagree with some of the panelists that you just had on.

I do think he's going to stop it and go in the right direction from here. I hope I'm right because he's the Leader of the Free World.

CUOMO: Yes, he is.

SCARAMUCCI: He is the President of the United States and--

CUOMO: He's just never done what you're suggesting.

SCARAMUCCI: --and - OK, but he's got to do it because those are the ideals of America, OK? That's the fabric of America. It is a blended fabric, and is what Lincoln said about America, it being the last best hope for mankind. So, he's got to do that, OK? If--


CUOMO: What does it tell you Anthony that that--

SCARAMUCCI: --not to do that, it's going to - it's going to be--

CUOMO: --Palm Beach fat-cat club of Republicans--

SCARAMUCCI: --very bad for him.

CUOMO: What - what does it tell you that that Palm Beach--


CUOMO: --fat-cat Republican club gave you the boot over what you said.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, come on.

CUOMO: What does it tell you about you party?

SCARAMUCCI: Fraidy - they're - they're - well they're a bunch of fraidy-cat babies. That guy I'm calling him all day the Lobster Nazi, you know, how the no - no lobster for you like no soup for you? The guy's a complete baby, OK? And he's a fraidy-cat.

And what I said to the guy from Politico is totally true. If you can't call something what it is, it's not a loyalty test. Chris, if I throw an orange on the floor, and I say, "OK, listen, go on television and tell me that's an apple, and if you don't do that, you're disloyal to me," that's not a loyalty test.

You can't break your principles and your integrity and your personal history because you like somebody, "Oh, I got to prove to you that I'm loyal to you by calling an apple an orange or an orange an apple," I'm never doing that, man. I came from nowhere, OK? I'm living the American Dream. I'm not doing

that. And what I'm calling on my fellow Republicans, the elected officials, "Tell him the truth."

But let's move on because the very good news for the President is, he's got an amazing economy. He's creating an economic miracle in the country. He's helped the African-American and Hispanic-American community tremendously.

CUOMO: Not by what he's saying.

SCARAMUCCI: And people are way better off than they were. Not by what he's saying, but the policies have been great. So, tone down what you're saying. I think the message from the Oval Office today was great, and the trajectory is great, and go with that, OK?

And, by the way, I say it as a guy that likes him, OK? These idiots in Palm Beach, "Oh my God, he said one syllable that the President may not like, we got to cancel his appearance," OK, good for you guys, but you're a bunch of big babies.

You lack courage, OK, and you lack integrity. You understand what I'm saying? I'm going to believe that so--

CUOMO: I understand exactly what you're saying.

SCARAMUCCI: --I'm cool with it.

CUOMO: But you got to tell that to the--

SCARAMUCCI: I'm cool with it.

CUOMO: --Lindsey Grahams of your party.

[21:45:00] SCARAMUCCI: If I - if I - well, come on. He said to aim higher. Give the Senator a little bit of a break.

CUOMO: Please!

SCARAMUCCI: He's in a tough spot because--

CUOMO: He called this - he called this President--

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, look, they're politicians.

CUOMO: --a xenophobe and/or a bigot.

SCARAMUCCI: Hey, hey, hey--

CUOMO: And now he's saying that he's getting a--


CUOMO: --raw deal. Come on.

SCARAMUCCI: Chris? CUOMO: He was FOS one of those--

SCARAMUCCI: The country expects--

CUOMO: --two times.

SCARAMUCCI: They are politicians, Chris. I'm not a politician. I'm a business person.

CUOMO: True.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm doing millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions on my word, so I'm not going to call an apple an orange or an orange an apple. We're not - just not doing that.

So, ask me the question. I'll tell you the honest answer. Now, I honestly believe that people got to him today. They messaged to him. He walked it back.

And I'm optimistic that we're going to start tomorrow in a better path for the President, and I predict that he'll win the reelection. It - it's a - and he should win reelection. He's done an amazing job for the country.

But tone down the language that's going to light people up in a way--

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: --that's divisive in the country.

CUOMO: Well--

SCARAMUCCI: Don't do that.

CUOMO: Well, look, and the thing is he's doing it on purpose, not like he's making mistakes. But Anthony Scaramucci, I appreciate your candor. You may be out on the street with your party, but I know that your heart is in the right place as much as ever.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm out on the street. My hair's getting - I'm out on the street. My hair's getting frizzy because I know you're jealous of my hair.

CUOMO: You got a nice set of hair, I'll give you.

SCARAMUCCI: It's getting frizzy down here because of you.

CUOMO: You also tell people you're 5' 10". So, in terms of when you tell the truth and when you don't, you know.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm - I'm 5' 10" on my license, OK? Let's just put it that way, OK?

CUOMO: All right.

SCARAMUCCI: That's probably the only place where I'm 5' 10"-- CUOMO: I'm just saying.


CUOMO: Anthony Scaramucci, thank you. Thank you for doing this for me tonight. Get back inside before you get too wet. Be well.

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

CUOMO: You know, isn't that interesting? The guy who was his Comms Director, and sure, he's defended him. He's pissed a lot of people off with what he said in defense of this President. But this is so obvious that there was only one answer for him to give, and now he's being punished by his party.

Such an ugly contentious week in Washington that it turned the House Chaplain's morning prayer into what I saw is like a potential exorcism. Look at this.


REV. PATRICK CONROY, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CHAPLAIN: In your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from you.

May your spirit of wisdom and patience descend upon all, so that any spirit of darkness might have no place in our midst.


CUOMO: Gee! I wonder what he was talking about. He told us later, he said, look, you know, it's about this racism, and what's going on.

And how about all the people who were listening in there on the Right side of the aisle, when they have done nothing? You literally had to have your Chaplain say he wanted to remove the darkness.

You know what the scene should have looked like? Let's bring in D. Lemon. I was expecting more of a scene like this one, Gary Bastin (ph).

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Oh, I know what you're going to do. I know what you're going to do.





MERRIN: The power of Christ compels you.

KARRAS: The power of Christ compels you.


LEMON: Oh, my line.


MERRIN: The power of Christ compels you.

KARRAS: The power of Christ compels you.


LEMON: Compels you. I was looking at that scene before it came up. The power, and then they finally get her down on the bed, and they strap her down.

CUOMO: Yes. But things don't get much better after that. But look--

LEMON: No. That's when the peace (ph) come out of her mouth and everything.

CUOMO: It's so ugly that the Chaplain has to say a prayer to remove the spirits of darkness from the House chamber.

LEMON: We need it - we need prayer to remove the spirit of darkness from the country right now because this is an ugly period.

CUOMO: Uh! Right.

LEMON: And this has nothing to do with supporting or not supporting the President. What the President did was awful, what he said was awful, and there's no one to blame, but him, especially with people chanting, you know, "Send her back!" That's all because the President tweeted what he tweeted.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

LEMON: Now but I mean that chant, those people had that in their hearts without the President. He just brought it to the fore.


LEMON: That's it.

CUOMO: Yes, but look, I mean I don't know if you got to hear Ron Brownstein. His piece in The Atlantic comes out tomorrow. He's making a play here because he thinks it's how he wins.


CUOMO: And I don't make a distinction. You know, Anthony Scaramucci will say, "I don't think he's racist. But he's saying racist things. He's got to stop," fine.

LEMON: Mm. CUOMO: My feeling is this. You say racist things you wind up owning the philosophy of racism as well.


CUOMO: But even if you didn't, I think you're worse because you're playing to advantage with something that you know is ugly, and you don't even have the excuse of ignorance that got you there.

LEMON: Yes. Listen - listen, you can say things that are racist sometimes, and not be racist, and maybe - you can be ignorant of them. You can say things that are homophobic sometimes, doesn't mean that the whole of you is racist, the whole - but if you say it often enough, I think it defines you.

So, we have to stop saying, "I don't know what's in his heart."

I don't know what's in your heart, Chris. I know the kind of person you are. I know what your actions are. I know what your words are. And so, from that I can only surmise the kind of person you are and who you are.

And so, if you walk and talk and act like a racist, the problem - then chances are you're a racist. This President has said a whole lot of things that are racist. He's done a whole lot of things that are racist. And then he pretends he didn't say it.

He pretended that he tried to stop the people from saying what they said in that crowd yesterday or the day before or the night before.

CUOMO: The latest layer on the lasagna of lies.

LEMON: He didn't - didn't - right--

CUOMO: What do you got coming up?

[21:50:00] LEMON: --to your face. I've got - OK, so you - do know Grant Woods? Grant Woods is a good friend of John McCain. And do you remember when the woman stood up at the John - John McCain rally and said--

CUOMO: She said she didn't trust Obama because he was an Arab.

LEMON: --he's a Muslim - right. He's a Muslim. He's an Arab - Arab or whatever she said. And he said, right there, "I got to stop you."

All the President had to do was say "Stop. We're not doing that. We can vote her out. But we're not going to do that sort of thing." He didn't do it. It took him 13 seconds. So, he shouldn't sit there today and lie and pretend he tried to stop it.

So, we're going to have Grant Woods on. We're going to talk about the difference between two men, these two men, not that we really need to discuss. We know one is a really great man, and the other one, we'll see.

CUOMO: I'll see you in a second.


CUOMO: So, look, we're saying this to you a 100 different ways through reporting and through perspective. What this President is doing is intentional, and it's because he thinks he needs to do it to win, so let's look at that.

But also, let's look at who really needs to be called out here, the enablers. Another argument that I should not have to make but it is needed, next.








[21:55:00] CUOMO: I ask you. Is this the face of a man who disagrees with what's happening around him?


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.



CUOMO: 13 seconds of silence. You saw him. He was just taking it in. There was no rejection. There was no disapproval. 15 hours later, this President tried to defy what you just saw.


TRUMP: I started speaking very quickly. It - it really was, a loud - I disagree with it, by the way. But it was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it.


CUOMO: So, he's against it, even though he inspired it, but he was impressed by it, though he felt badly about it. This is also known as lying. But once again, his party took whatever cover they could find.

Senator Romney tweets, "The chants at last night's rally were offensive, and I'm glad the President has disavowed them." He did not disavow, not really. And others in the party just keep ducking. Senator Cruz said he's not interested in color commentary. Senator Cornyn said he hadn't seen it, and walked into a hearing. Senators Rounds and Moran reportedly said the same.

Look, the problem here is that the President's trying to have it both ways. Feed the base its outrage and then try to convince the rest of you that his actions aren't outrageous. Here's the proof.


TRUMP: A David Duke endorsement, OK, all right, I disavow, OK?


CUOMO: A disavowal with a shrug. Two days later, to Jake Tapper.


TRUMP: I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about White supremacists.

Certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. But you may have groups in there--


TRUMP: --that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of the groups and I'll let you know.

TAPPER: OK. I mean I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here but--

TRUMP: I don't know anything. Honestly, I don't know David Duke.


CUOMO: No good groups among White supremacists, by the way. What's he doing? He's struggling.

When you're struggling to disavow White supremacists, it's a problem. When you see a moral equivalency, between those fighting for the Confederate flag and those fighting against it, that's a problem.

And, of course, picking on women of color, and telling them to go back to the countries they come from, when they were born here or are U.S. citizens is a big problem.

I argue this. His hedge that we just saw here makes it worse. It would be more honest if he were leading that chant at the rally. Own the animus that you are spreading on purpose. So, there is no measure of solace in his feigned frustration with his folks.

It shows not that he didn't mean it but that it is indeed a tactic, a con, not a principled stand, not something he just believes deep in his bones. He's playing them, and then he's trying to play you. Period!

That makes his efforts every bit as dangerous and maybe more so than the rantings of a die-hard racist. Why? Because it's one thing if you're too stupid to know how stupid you sound.

But if you just see advantage in spreading hate, that makes him like the punk in the park saying, "Fight, fight, fight," under their breath, until others join in and coax someone to throw a punch.

A President should not be a punk. He should be the guy who separates those in conflict, finds a way forward, whose very presence inspires people to be their best, not their chanting worst.

There's a bigger problem here though because, to be honest, despite his best efforts, and for all the media madness surrounding this President, he hasn't succeeded in pitting us against each other, not really.

The bigger problem is that when exposed, when called out, he looks for help from his party, and he keeps getting it. That's the biggest failure afoot, Republicans enabling vitriol. They should be ashamed. But they're not.

They should absolutely call out this man as they would a Democrat, but they will not. And their reasons for restraint stink. They are afraid of criticism by him because he's popular. They're afraid of a primary challenge. All of that is anathema to good leadership.

And that, I would argue, is the worst part of this President's perfidy, his faithlessness in his Office. He is breaking his oath to you. I argue this President is not faithfully executing his office because he is lying and dividing, and it will not stop unless this President sees no profit in doing it.

And that won't happen unless those in his party keep their promise to constituents, and hold him to account, or one of these Democrats finds a way to connect with this country, and restore faith in enough of us that they can be better than this.

Maybe you make it clear that this President is out on his ass if he doesn't do better. We'll see. Lots of options on the table.

That's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT with D. Lemon right now.