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Trump's Base Follows His Lead; President Trump Says He Didn't Like The Racist Chant; CNN's Democratic Presidential Debate Set On July 30 And 31; President Trump Not Happy With "Send Her Back" Chants; Elizabeth Warren Sets Her Aim At Wall Street And Private Equity. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: 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.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, Chris, remember when you were starting out on TV and the worst thing that you could do, especially if you were an anchor was have silence, right? Silence, right? Everyone's afraid of silence, which can be very powerful on television.

So just bear with me. Don't say anything. Don't say anything for -- I'm going to start the stop watch. Just don't say anything. That was 13 seconds. That was a long time, wasn't it?

CUOMO: Long time. I had several different thoughts about you during that moment.

LEMON: Do you get my point?

CUOMO: I do, 100 percent. And he's lying. He's lying because he liked it. He needs it at this point and he could have stopped it but he didn't. He wants those people to have their outrage fed and then he wants the rest of us to think what he does isn't that outrageous.

LEMON: Yes. I watched -- I was surprised by it when he said it, I was like, really? OK, fine. But then, maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. But then I watched Kevin McCarthy try to defend what the president said and I said, did Kevin McCarthy not see the tape or is he just --

CUOMO: He saw it.

LEMON: Then what --

CUOMO: He doesn't want to lose his position.


CUOMO: He doesn't want Trump to turn it on him and get primaried and lose the way others have. You know, Sanford is thinking of running about him. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He knows what it's like to get bit in the ass by this president, you know. He went after him and in his primary he wound up losing as a result. You know the expression going both sides against the middle?


LEMON: Look at Mia Love.

CUOMO: That's what this president is doing.

LEMON: No love. Yes.

CUOMO: He's rousing up the fringe on both sides and the people lost to the people who are the majority of this country, the middle.

LEMON: Yes. I just, you know, when I said to you last night about are people going to look back, the people who are chanting are they going to look back in years and say, my gosh, I hope they don't see my face or my grandkids, you know? I don't know.

I just wonder what the people around him will do as well, especially the higher profile people like McCarthy or like an Ivanka or Jared or any of those -- what are they going to -- what are they going to say about their action or inaction, for not shutting down blatant racism and xenophobia?

CUOMO: Listen, it's a very strong draw when you benefit from what you're being asked to oppose. Obviously, you know, it's your father. Forget it. It's almost impossible. But the idea --


LEMON: But aren't you the most honest -- I'm the most honest with the people I love and the people I know.

CUOMO: Yes, it depends on the relationship, though.

LEMON: I go back and forth with my mom all the time.

CUOMO: This is not a guy -- if you're around this president, I mean, look, you've been here long enough now. You know, I got growing up, being around him, he doesn't have people around him who tell him what to do or who check him on a regular basis.

If you do that, you don't stay married to him. If you do that, you don't stay around him. I'm not judging him or his personal life, I'm just telling you that's how it is. In terms of whether people are going to regret this, he didn't put that in their heart. He didn't put those words --


LEMON: Right. You just said that. CUOMO: -- in their mouth. He gave them the idea. But that's who they



CUOMO: They get no excuse in my world for saying that as if they were forced.

LEMON: He legitimatized it. He's legitimatizing bigotry. Saying it's OK.

CUOMO: They are pissed off. They don't like it. Think about it, think about who are the most ardent opponents of the multiculturalism and the change, more than -- more often than not white wasp males. Right? That's who is most angry about it. Why? Because they are the ones who in their minds think they have the most to lose.

Because people like you threaten their dominance of all these different worlds that we respect, of commerce, of politics. That's why they're the loudest ones. He knows that, this guy, this president. So, he goes to them and says, yes, you're really up against it. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I'm here to help you because I see it, too. I hate the same people you do, too. I get the people you're afraid of. I'll go after them for you. I'll call it out. I'll say it the way it really is.

LEMON: That -- what you just said plays out in my life all the time. People who are most misunderstand me -- not just in this job and beyond this job are the people who you just mentioned.

CUOMO: Is it really that much of a coincidence that in Fox right now Tucker Carlson is playing most to advantage when it comes to going after these four women? That he's the one who comes after us most often because of what we represent?

LEMON: I think he's -- I think he's jealous of you. He talks about you a lot. He's jealous that you went to Yale. I'm very proud of you for going to Yale. I don't get it.

[22:04:57] CUOMO: Listen, the idea of him coming after me for privilege, do a quick little Google search on who that guy's family is, what family he married into, what he's about. He can say what he wants.

LEMON: Guess what?

CUOMO: The noise works for him. It doesn't work for us. We spread light. He can spread darkness.

LEMON: I got better things to do with my time. Like getting on --.


CUOMO: I see what you do with your time. LEMON: -- getting on with the show. Thank you --

CUOMO: That's a low bar.

LEMON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: I'll see you.

LEMON: See you later.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Thirteen seconds. We'll talk about that. But this is our big news.

CNN has announced the candidate lineups for our Democratic debates. Here it is, 10 candidates on Tuesday night, July 30th. Those are the 10 right there. Ten on Wednesday, July 31st. Take it all in. Both debates start at 8 Eastern. We're going to have a lot more about that tonight. So, make sure you stay tuned.

But we've got to talk about the President of the United States trying to convince you that he disagrees with the chanting crowd at his rally last night. Chanting words that echoed what he himself had tweeted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, if I may, when your supporters last night were chanting send her back, why didn't you stop them, why didn't you ask them to stop saying that?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. 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, but it started up rather -- rather fast, as you probably know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you'll tell your supporters never to say that again?

TRUMP: Well, I would say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That that is --

TRUMP: I was not happy with it. I disagree with it, but, again, I didn't say -- I didn't say that. They did. But I just --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they were echoing what you said in your first tweet, that they should go back.

TRUMP: Well I don't think if you -- if you examine it, I don't think you'll find that, but I disagree with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, he says he disagrees with the chant. If you really

disagree you just shut it down the moment it starts. Instead, he stood by while they chanted a chant based on his own words. I'll say it again. I'll say it again. Based on his own words. And he stood by for a full 13 seconds. Watch.


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



LEMON: It was a little bit more like 14 to me but that's, you know, whatever, a second. Come on now. I know a lot of people get mad. You're so against this president. No, we're against lying. We're journalists. We like the facts and truth. There it was. Thirteen seconds. I shut it down. I started talking very quickly. Thirteen seconds is not very quickly.

Go on your watch or your phone, time out 13 seconds. If you see someone who is having an issue, a medical emergency, wait 13 seconds and see how long that feels or if you're having one.

So, when the president claims he started speaking very quickly, that is not true. He stood there for 13 seconds, which is a pretty long time to stay silent if people are chanting something you really disagree with. Someone says something you disagree with, usually right away you're like, what the hell are you talking about? Stop it.

Here's what he said to that crowd 12 minutes later, OK? Doubling down on his love it or leave it refrain.


TRUMP: Hey, if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave. Let them leave.


TRUMP: They're always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to -- you know what? If they don't love it, tell them to leave it.


LEMON: Yes. Yes. And as to the president blaming the crowd for the chant, let's remember his tweet from the weekend, OK? And I quote here. "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?" Is the president disavowing his own tweet? No. And just listen to this. This was less than an hour after he said he disavowed that chant.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would your message be to your supporters who are making that chant?

TRUMP: Well, these are people that love our country. I want them to keep loving our country.


[22:09:59] LEMON: That doesn't sound much like a disavowal to me. The president going on to blame the congresswomen for what he called hatred toward our country.


TRUMP: And I think the congresswomen, by the way, should be more positive than they are. They have a big obligation, and the obligation is to love your country. There is such hatred. They have such hatred. I've seen statements they made with such hatred toward our country. And I don't think that's a good thing. They should embrace our country. They should love our country. And things would be a lot better.


LEMON: So, the president says that the congresswomen should love our country, embrace it. They should embrace our country. He says hatred towards our country is not a good thing. OK. Remember his inaugural address? This is what he said.


TRUMP: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation. An education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge and the crime and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.


LEMON: American carnage. I don't know. That's not what I would call a positive message. Would you? Neither does this. From then candidate Trump's speech at the Republican convention.


TRUMP: Our roads and bridges are falling apart. Our airports are third world condition. And 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves.


TRUMP: Nobody knows the system better than me. I alone can fix it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Third-world condition. OK. And who could forget this from the

president's Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly, 2017.



TRUMP: There's a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?


LEMON: While defending Vladimir Putin, putting down his own country. Donald Trump's own words about this country haven't always been so positive. But tonight, there's another kind of chant going on as the crowd welcomed Congresswoman Ilhan Omar home to Minnesota.




LEMON: But earlier tonight in Washington, Congresswomen Omar said this.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): We are Americans as much as everyone else. This is our country. And we are where we belong.


LEMON: But the president's words that stirred up that chant last night, those words may end up being a problem for the president and his party. Some Republicans are beginning to worry that that chant could hurt them politically. Politically.

How about worrying that it's just wrong? How about worrying that it just goes against everything the Republican Party used to stand for? Remember the words of the late Senator John McCain in the midst of a hard-fought 2008 presidential campaign when some of his supporters said they were afraid of then candidate Barack Obama.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, we're scared. We're scared of an Obama presidency.

FMR. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): First of all, I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you, I have to tell you he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States.

Now, I just -- now, I just -- now, look, I -- if I didn't think I wouldn't be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn't be running, OK? And that's the point. That's the point.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's a -- he's an Arab. He is not --

MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am.


[22:14:53] MCCAIN: No, ma'am. He is -- he is a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about.


LEMON: Danny, director, re-rack that, please. I know it's going to go a little long. This is -- thank you, Danny. This is how -- this is how you're supposed to react. This is the American way, the decent way. That's how you're supposed to do it. Republicans, listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared of an Obama presidency.

MCCAIN: First of all, I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you, I have to tell you he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States.

Now, I just -- now I just -- now, look, I -- if I didn't think I wouldn't be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn't be running, OK? And that's the point. That's the -- that's the point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's a -- he's an Arab. He is not --

MCCAIN: No, ma'am.



LEMON: That's how you do it. You've heard those moments before but you may not remember this. I want you to listen to -- this is what Senator John McCain had to say about respect in politics.


MCCAIN: We want to fight and I will fight, but we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him and I want -- no, no, I want everyone to be respectful. And let's make sure we are. Because that's the way politics should be conducted in America.

(APPLAUSE) MCCAIN: So, let's make sure that we're all respectful. Now, I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it's got to be respectful, OK?


LEMON: Imagine that. Those were the days, huh? The crowd booed Barack Obama. Senator McCain got them cheering when he said being respectful is the way politics should be conducted in America. Boy, that would be nice to hear again. Seems like an awfully long time ago, doesn't it?

Now, I'm not suggesting that American politics has always been respectful. I'm not that naive, but there was a time when at least people tried, right?

All this is happening as a source is telling CNN that the Trump re- election campaign, remember, that's what this is all about, 2020, about being re-elected. The campaign is laying out talking points, calling on surrogates to continue attacks on the squad by characterizing them as radicals.

Another campaign adviser trying to make the point that the campaign shouldn't get ahead of the president's message. He said, quote, "This should be a reminder to anyone and everyone. Wait and follow the president's lead."

Let's face it, that's exactly what the chanting crowd was doing last night. They were following the president's lead. Are you a leader? Or are you a follower? Only you get to decide.

The president seems to be determined to go low in 2020, just like he did in 2016. Will it work this time around? There they are. David Chalian, Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, Sabrina Siddiqui. We'll pose some questions to them next.


LEMON: President Trump resorting to spin, now claiming he didn't like it when the crowd at his campaign rally in North Carolina chanted send her back after he attacked Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, yet he did nothing to stop it or admonish the crowd.

Let's discuss now. David Chalian, Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, Sabrina Siddiqui. Thank you all for joining us. I appreciate it. Good to see all of you, very interesting to see the draw tonight. So, we'll talk about that. Let's get to the subject at hand.

David Chalian, the president claims that he disavowed the send her back chant, trying to distance himself saying he is not the one who said it. I mean, come on, isn't this is direct result of the president's original racist tweets?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, the simple answer is yes and come on is the right reaction, Don. What I think politically the president tried to do today -- because anybody who can read his tweet on Sunday, listen to his words on Monday, can draw a direct line to what occurred at the rally in North Carolina last night.

He's asking the country in his remarks today to sort of not believe their lying eyes to some degree, but what he's doing politically is giving Republicans who are being questioned about the president's remarks the ability now and, you know, many of them don't want to shun the president at all, he now is giving them the ability to say, no, no, the president disagreed with that, he disavowed that and they will hope to move on from any questions they get on this.

I think that's what he was trying to do here, I just don't think this is going to be a very successful effort in the eyes of any American watching the events this week that, no, the president totally disavowed that. He totally didn't appreciate the comments at the rally. That just doesn't add up.

LEMON: Gloria, you know, he says he attempted to stop the chants by resuming his speech. I mean, that's not true. He waited 13 seconds.


LEMON: The president is lying.

BORGER: Yes, of course. Watch the tape. You have the tape. You see him standing there and just kind of listening to it. He wasn't leading the chant, but it was clear he didn't try and stop the chant.

And back in 2016 I think it was the Washington Post pointed out today the president also said at the time that he didn't really like the lock her up chant either.

[22:25:00] However, as we all know, he didn't do anything to stop it and it became a signature of that campaign. There are lots of people who went to the president today apparently, including his daughter, who said, you know, you have to lay off this. I don't like it, which is why he attempted to disavow it, but let's see what happens down the line because this isn't going to end here.

LEMON: Well, it's interesting because, you know, David, David Axelrod -- David Chalian said, you know, not anyone -- I'm paraphrasing here, David Chalian, if I get you wrong. People aren't going to believe it was a disavow.

But, I mean, there are people who saw his tweet, they still say, well, the women should stop saying bad things about America. They totally bought into what he said after the racist tweet about his reasoning for doing it, so people are going to believe it even if there is a videotape, like Gloria says.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he is the arsonist holding a kerosene can and denying that he had anything to do with the fire. There is no question about that, Don, but his supporters, they bought the original argument. They will buy -- they will borrow -- they will buy this argument.

His gamble is that he wants to elevate these women, make them the emblem of the Democratic Party, paint the party far to the left, talk about socialism and open borders, and that's what he thinks that he's been doing here. Not just stirring his base but making -- making the Democratic Party and by implication its candidate unacceptable, particularly to some of these suburban voters who flipped from Republican to Democrat in 2018.

I think where the gamble is and why he may have skinned back a little today is that it makes those voters uncomfortable. And I think ultimately if Donald Trump is defeated, he's going to be defeated because people decide that this level of divisiveness and ugliness on a daily basis is exhausting and it produces chaos and stands in the way of progress. So, he may be making that calculation in trying to pull back a little today.

LEMON: Sabrina, help me out with this because, you know, the right always says that the left deals in identity politics, right? Republicans like to say that Democrats rely on identity. But President Trump seems to be doing -- I mean, this is -- isn't this sort of the definition of identity politics? It seems like he's doing just that.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's no question that the president has shown time and again that he is willing to weaponize race and identity for political gain. He did it in 2016. And by the looks of it it's going to be even uglier in 2020.

The White House has openly acknowledged that the president sees Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as a perfect foil and it is no coincidence that she is one of the first two Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress, that she is someone who arrived here at a young age adds a Somalia refugee, although she is a naturalized U.S. citizen. They see her as a target.

And some of what the president was saying before those chants broke out were rooted in conspiracy theories that go back to her identity and her background.

Now, the biggest challenge for Democrats is going to be finding a way to push back against the president's rhetoric but to not get drawn into these culture wars and this debate over racial politics when the argument they want to make is one of policy.

And what the president is doing right now is he is distracting from his record, which is what these four congresswomen were criticizing in the first place, so that he can jinn up his base.

And to David Axelrod's point, it didn't really work in 2018. It had an effect of turning off suburban women. And that's why you've heard I think some concern from Republicans today who fear that this will actually backfire.

LEMON: Interesting. All right. Sabrina, thank you very much. David Chalian, Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, stick around. I want to talk about our other big story tonight, the lineups for the CNN Democratic presidential debates. We'll dig into that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So, we have breaking news. The lineups are now set for CNN's Democratic presidential debates scheduled for two nights, July 30th and 31st. Back with me now, David Chalian, Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, and we're joined now by Chris Cillizza. Chris, we'll continue our conversation from last night, but I'm going to start with David Chalian on this one. CNN debate stage is set.

CHALIAN: All right.

LEMON: So tell us -- give me the lineup, David Chalian.

CHALIAN: Well, there you have the first night lineup right there. You see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the battle for the left, dead center there. That's the podium order that we'll be seeing on Tuesday night.

And you see Pete Buttigieg to Sanders' left there. Beto O'Rourke to Warren's right. Buttigieg probably likes that generational argument that he wants to make standing next to Sanders, but this is -- if you look, those two sort of liberal lions, Warren and Sanders, who are competing for a lot of similar voters, that progressive left of the party, but they're on stage with a lot more moderate folks as you go out.

So this is going to be an interesting ideological divide on display that night. And then if you look at the second night, Don, you see this is the rematch, right, from Miami? Biden and Harris --

LEMON: This is a diverse night.

CHALIAN: -- center stage there -- yes. This really is, I mean, it's the most diverse field overall, but, yes. The racial diversity all ended up on the second night here, but Biden and Harris, center stage. That is a rematch from Miami.

Cory Booker, who also was taking it to Joe Biden prior to that debate on his comments about segregationists, he's on the other side of Biden there. This I think is not necessarily the debate stage Joe Biden wanted.

LEMON: Why do you say that?

CHALIAN: Well, because I'm not sure he wanted the rematch with Kamala Harris. Joe Biden for the last week has been telegraphing his desire to have a fight over health care with Bernie Sanders. I think that probably --


CHALIAN: -- was what he was looking for as a sort of rehabilitative moment.

LEMON: Same question. Gloria, weigh in on that.

BORGER: Well, I think on the other hand Joe Biden, this is the luck of the draw here. And what he could do is he could use it, and he's going to be attacked, as David was saying, by Cory Booker. I'm not so sure if I were Kamala Harris whether I wouldn't allow Booker to just to do the attacking on Biden and then go reintroduce myself to the American public.

But if they want to talk about segregationists or bussing, he can say, why are we having the fight here? Let's talk about the racist in the White House.

[22:35:01] Let's -- he can take that turn -- he can take that turn and look a little larger and say, you know, I'm not your problem here. Your problem is Donald Trump. So, it could be if he plays it the right way, and of course that's a big if given his performance at the last debate, if he plays it the right way, he could turn this into something for him.

LEMON: David Axelrod, you want to say something?

AXELROD: Yes, I think that another subplot here is what the kind of lesser candidates, only in terms of standing in the polls do because they have to make a splash to try to stay on the debate stage for September when the standards for getting into the debate get higher.

So, you know, you've got a Kirsten Gillibrand on the sage who has pitched her candidacy around feminist issues. Will she go after Joe Biden on the Anita Hill case? You've got Bill de Blasio who would like to be where Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are as a kind of front- running progressive candidate. Will he go after Biden on some of his positions on the Crime Bill or the Bankruptcy Bill?

I think Biden -- you know, Biden he needs to prove that he is up to it. He didn't look particularly good in the last debate. I think he's going to have a lot of opportunity to do that in this debate.

LEMON: So, Chris, then you got Senators Warren and Sanders on the same night.


LEMON: Two people from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They're going to have to differentiate themselves, correct?

CILLIZZA: Well, it's interesting, Don, because that's two people who have played incredibly nice with one another. I mean, they've sort of been running in their own -- despite the fact that they run in a very similar lane, they've kind of ignored one another to date.

Elizabeth Warren, our colleague M.J. Lee reported tonight, Elizabeth Warren said Bernie and I are friends for a long time. I can't wait to share the stage with him. But the truth of the matter is, raw politics here, they are both going for liberal Democrats and what has happened in the last two months.

Elizabeth Warren has started taking them from Bernie Sanders. There's a reason Elizabeth Warren is going up while Sanders is staying steady or dropping a little bit. It's not clear to me. He -- during the last set of debates, 2016, it was a one-on-one debate so, it's a little bit easier to go after a candidate one-on-one.

It's not clear to me how he handles this, but I will tell you, if you look at the polling numbers, it would suggest Bernie Sanders needs to take some fight to Elizabeth Warren that can win him some liberals back or at least start that process.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I'm out of time, Chris, but I could hear the people who are really tuned into this, the collective cheers at home of people when they saw that the former vice president and Senator Harris were going to be on the same stage on the same night. They were like, woo-hoo, a rematch.

CILLIZZA: Well, and Don, the other thing too is that I agree with what David Chalian said, which is this is a tough debate stage for Joe Biden. At the same time, he has one of his big critics, Cory Booker, who said Joe Biden should apologize for segregation on one side of him.

LEMON: Right.

CILLIZZA: And the other one, Kamala Harris, who hit him on bussing and really knocked him down on the other. So, he has a chance to face these people down and say, I can do this, to David Axelrod's point.

LEMON: Lots more to discuss in the coming days, weeks, months. We got a lot. Thank you all, I appreciate it. Don't miss CNN's Democratic presidential debates live from Detroit. Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and I will moderate. That's Tuesday, July 30th and Wednesday, July 31st, 8:00 p.m. eastern, of course, right here on CNN.

The president falsely claiming that he disapproved of the "send her back" chants last night, but remember back in 2008 when John McCain defended his political rival, Barack Obama? Where has civility gone?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scared -- we're scared of an Obama presidency. And I'll tell you why. I'm concerned about, you know, someone that, you know, cohorts with domestic terrorists such as Ayers.

JOHN MCCAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States. Now -- I just -- now I just -- now, look --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to ask you a question. I do not believe in -- I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's a -- he's an Arab. He is not --

MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am.


MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent family man. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, that was a moment from then presidential candidate John McCain's campaign in 2008. Joining me now is Grant Woods. He's a former Arizona attorney general and a friend of the late senator. Mr. Woods, so good to have you on. Thank you for coming back.


LEMON: What do you think when you see that clip now?

WOODS: Boy, it seems like that must have been 100 years ago, you know.

LEMON: Right?

WOODS: If we had a clip of Abe Lincoln, it would be like watching that. It seems like it was that long ago, but I guess -- I just wonder how quickly we've gone away from statesmanship and devolved into pure partisanship and that it's all politics all the time. It's all about winning.

And as you can see there with John McCain, it wasn't all about winning. He said many times on many different issues, I would rather lose than to win that way. And he won a lot more than he lost, but I think that came down to your basic love of his country. It was more important than any political race.

LEMON: Listen, I think, you know, and I've said this before, I think John McCain would not even argue this point with me that he doesn't mind being criticized on his policies. People didn't always agree with his policies.


LEMON: He was imperfect with his policies, but on a human level he was a decent man. I was going to ask you, have we lost our -- you said statesmanship. I was going to say civility. But have we lost our sense of decency?

[22:45:03] WOODS: Well, I don't -- I don't think as a country we've lost it. I think, though, the scary thing to a lot of us is that we've seen that if you have an incivil person at the top, if you have someone who really doesn't share these basic American values, it's all about himself, it's all about his own megalomania.

Then I think the scary part is that we've seen that so many people will follow and that they don't have the guts in crowds or in their own houses or just among their friends to stand up and say, you know what? I'm going to draw the line here. That's wrong. That's not what this country's about.

We're about honest debate. I disagree with those four congresswomen on many, many things, but I am proud that they're there and the idea that you would say the things that he has said about them, much less say them in front of a crowd and encourage the chanting that went on, which is what happened.

He's lying today like he was lying yesterday and the day before and the day before that. The idea that you would do that is contrary to everything that I believed in politics, but I can't -- I come from a state that produced John McCain and Mo Udall and Barry Goldwater and people who put country first.

LEMON: Grant Woods, it's always a pleasure to see you, and our regards to the McCain family when you speak to them. Thank you so much.

WOODS: All right. Hey, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: Yes. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Senator Elizabeth Warren releasing her Stop Wall Street Looting Act today, a plan that would restore regulations roll back under President Trump among other proposals. Let's discuss now with William Cohan, the author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short" and CNN's Kyung Lah joins us as well.

Good evening. Good to see both of you.

Kyung, I'm going to start with you. In a nut shell, what is Elizabeth Warren trying to -- I don't know -- attack here in this detailed plan?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a very detailed plan. So let's make it a little more digestible. She's targeting at essentially the private equity firms. This is what critics call, "capitalism on steroids."

She's also trying to target executive pay. So, some of this is a little wonky and difficult to understand, but basically what we're seeing here in this plan is Elizabeth Warren returning to what made her famous after the 2008 financial crisis.

She's taking her thumb, putting it in the eye of big banks and what she's trying to say is that she wants to make the system more fair for the average person.

LEMON: OK. So, William, she calls it private equity. She calls private equity legalized looting, OK. And in this post on "Medium" she writes this, "Once they buy a company, they transfer the responsibility for repaying the debt they took on to the company that they just bought. Because they control the company, they can transfer money to themselves by charging high management and consulting fees, issuing generous dividends, and selling off assets like real estate for short term gain."

So, you spent, what, two decades on Wall Street. Is she right about this?

WILLIAM COHAN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: I did. I mean, some of what, you know, typical with Elizabeth Warren fashion, some of what she says is correct and she's right, that it needs to be reformed. But you know, as Grant Woods aid, Don, we need honest debate.

And I don't think Elizabeth Warren likes to engage in honest debate. She likes to demonize and focus on this rough rhetoric and try to use, you know, demonize Wall Street for her own political gains.

LEMON: OK, so then what's wrong with what she wrote? You said there is some right and some wrong. Debate her on the issues, on the facts. What's wrong about what she said?

COHAN: Well, she said that private equity is like vampires, you know, sucking blood out of companies. I mean, private equity does some things right, it does some things wrong. There are a lot of instances. I mean, you can take, for instance, Blackstone which bought Hilton Hotels. They improved operations greatly. They greatly expanded the company. They hired a lot more people.

I don't want to be a shill for Blackstone or private equity, but I'm not. But the fact of the matter is, they do a lot of things that are right. Sure, there are plenty of examples where it doesn't work out like in Sears, and you can draw the conclusions that, you know, they sucked them dry and that's how they did everything for themselves, but I think that's not accurate.

LEMON: Well, let me ask you, private equity investors make money even while it is driving down the company that it has purchased into bankruptcy. So, I mean, what is --

COHAN: Not necessarily.

LEMON: OK, go on.

COHAN: It's just not necessarily true. I mean, yes, if you want to look at Eddie Lampert and Sears, you can say that he found ways to make money even though Sears went into bankruptcy. But there are plenty of cases, I mean, private equity, they are at the bottom of the capital structure.

They lose money theoretically along with their investors, their limited partners, if a company goes into bankruptcy. So they have every incentive to make the company better, to make it more robust, to pay down the debt, hire more people, and make it grow. And so yes, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but nobody is being coerced into making these deals.

LEMON: All right. Kyung, you know, we're seven months into her campaign. Why wouldn't she start with this and then spend months to, you know, return to what made her famous?

LAH: Well, I think this conversation is one example of that, right. I think most people at home are saying what are you guys talking about? Private equity firms are something that is really difficult to understand.

[23:55:01] So when she rolls out this plan about how to, you know, regulate a private equity firm or attack CEO compensation, all of this is a little outside of the lane of what ordinary people need and ordinary people think about.

So, let's think about the "I got a plan" candidate, right, where we've seen her attack student loan debt. We've heard her talk about universal childcare. These are all easily digestible, very relatable things for voters. They can understand it. They can attach to it.

And it has been quite effective if you look at her numbers because she has steadily gone up slowly in the polls and it has come at the expense of Bernie Sanders who used to operate in this lane all by himself, Don.

LEMON: Kyung, William, thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

COHAN: Thank you.