Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Sticks to His Wrong Data; Border Wall to be Built Out of Military Funds; Forty-three Now Confirmed Dead In Bahamas From Dorian; Black Unemployment Rate Falls To A Record Low; Presidential Candidates Head To New Hampshire For The State's Democratic Party Convention. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching. Have a beautiful weekend. There's a lot of news. CNN Tonight with D. Lemon as it right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It's really unbelievable, isn't it? When you, I mean, if you just -- we have to go into explaining all of these sayings and the meteorologists because one of the things that he's talking about was actually on this show. And it was one of our meteorologists who is giving different scenarios about what if it goes this way it will in fact, if it goes that.

It was in an official thing from NOAA. But you remember in the beginning he says, you know, one scenario is it could possibly go across into the gulf or whatever. That was eight days ago. And it was four days before the president made his -- it's just. I'm tired, Cuomo.

CUOMO: Not me.

LEMON: I'm tired, man. I'm tired of the you know what and the lies and the distraction. And whatever. And the mind is bigger than yours. My sharpie. And I'm going to -- come on, man. Lead the country. Stop being so petty. Take some criticism.

If you're the president of the United States, you're supposed to be able to take criticism. It goes a long with the job. Stop being so thin skinned. And just take it. You're the president of the United States. You're supposed to take the high road -- the high road, not the lowest road. Not the one -- that the one underneath. Not the tunnel. You don't take the tunnel.

You take the high road. Live up to the job of president of the United States, the Office of the Presidency of the United States. And you can't say, the information I gave I'm sorry that was wrong at the time. It was not Alabama in the forecast. But there was something earlier in the week that I read or information I was given and I got it wrong at that point.

But anyway, move on. Nobody would care. But he's got to prove or he's got to take something that is not reality, his reality and make it true. No. Mr. President, you were wrong. The information you gave was wrong. You keep trying to put out there something that didn't happen. A forecast that was given on this show four days before you gave the information about Alabama. And that was proven to be not the case for four long days.

And your people said that you were being briefed on it at the golf course. If you were being briefed at the golf course every single day then you would know that the information you gave was wrong. Or you just wouldn't have given it.

And besides that, Chris, none of that changes a fact that someone took a sharpie and added a swoop, a line, whatever it is you want to call it, into something that was not there. And that was a deception to the American people.

CUOMO: A hundred percent. That's why it matters. That's why you can't fatigue. Although you seem to bucked up there for a second. You got guys got why there --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Because I'm tired. When I say I'm tired it doesn't mean that -- listen, I'm a soldier, right. Like as my mom, you're a soldier. Keep going. There's going to be --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I see you as more of someone who would be in the band.

LEMON: I was getting -- I was going to be -- well, I wasn't in the band. But, listen. I may get tired at points, I may get weary, you know. You got to take the slings and arrows. It goes with this job. There are going to be good points, high points and low points. But for the most part I'm a soldier. But I am tired of the B.S. And you know what I mean. I'm sure you're tired of it as well.

CUOMO: Listen.

LEMON: And the American people more importantly.

CUOMO: But it matters more than ever. Look, I would never chase off an error like this. I have bigger things to talk about. I barely even talk about the president's tweets.

LEMON: Thank you.

CUOMO: I look as reflections of policy.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I bring on his people. I want arguments made all the time and I want to test them. But the idea that he wants an apology from the free media for not allowing him to sell a farce to the American people --

LEMON: No.

CUOMO: -- tells you everything you need to know about him and those around him.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: A press secretary is going to come at CNN for getting the name wrong of a state on a map that they corrected in like 30 seconds when she is working for the American people and representing a man who has never apologized for some 10,000 falsehoods. She's going to come out of the box coming at us when she's living by the standard of falsity and pretense --

LEMON: Come on.

CUOMO: -- that they make a practice in that White House? This is the time to stand strong and stiff as ever because this is when it matters most.

LEMON: I don't even pay attention to that. I wouldn't. Listen, the only reason that I'm addressing this is because again, I think it's important to the American people. And I want everyone to stay tuned. You have to listen to Monica Median, the former NOAA official. She's going to tell you why this is so important.

CUOMO: First time NOAA ever corrected something that was right.

LEMON: Yes. Good weekend.

CUOMO: That was a good vape cough. Lay off the steam, brother.

LEMON: No, no, no.

CUOMO: Lay off the steam.

LEMON: Not here. Just tequila.

[22:05:00]

OK. I'm just kidding. Thank you.

CUOMO: I'll see you soon.

LEMON: Thank you. See you soon. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

What a week. What a week. What a week. A week of a monster storm, threatening the southeast coast after spreading death and destruction in the Bahamas. And a storm of a different kind in the White House.

We have been discussing here a president who even by the standards of this administration seems to be out of control right now. Out of touch with reality. And none of this is normal, none of it. I want you to listen. This is what former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said today. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think the president is in severe mental decline. And I'm not saying that now because I'm a political adversary or I disavowed him. I'm saying that objectively just looking at what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And that's a former member of the Trump administration saying that. Is he right? All right. Well, let's have -- so when you want to -- let's have a look at the evidence.

The president still refusing to back down on false claims on Sunday that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Well, today, on day six of all of this. He's tweeting out a 10-day old forecast. That was a -- it's 10 days. A 10-day old forecast from this show. From Wednesday, August 28. A 10-day old forecast. A forecast that mentioned Alabama. This is a clip from our show. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: There are many states that are under threat right now, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: At least six. From the Carolinas right through Georgia coastline into Florida. Certainly, and then also even into the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi. You need to be on the lookout.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That's the forecast as it actually aired. OK? It was more nuance on that because he gave different scenarios about what if it went there. What if it went there? There are several tracks. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, on and on. He's a meteorologist. He explained it better.

Trump campaign tweeted it out today including the date, the campaign did which was August 28. A day when there was a possibility of a threat to parts of Alabama. There's no dispute about that. There never was a dispute about that. Remember, it's a fact.

When the president tweeted it tonight, guess what? The date was mysteriously or maybe not so mysteriously missing, taking the clip out of context. But the issue isn't what happened on Wednesday. It's what happened on Sunday when that forecast had been updated at least 15 times.

Yet the president tweeting this that Alabama was among the states that were likely to be hit much harder than anticipated. It was only about 20 minutes later that Birmingham, Alabama branch, a Birmingham, Alabama branch of NOAA tweeted in no uncertain terms that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian.

And now the resources of the federal government, think about this. The resources of the federal government are being marshalled now to cover up what seems to have started out as a mistake. And now has turned into the latest example of this administration's love of alternative facts.

An unnamed NOAA spokesperson releasing a statement tonight disavowing the tweet from the Birmingham, Alabama branch of the National Weather Service. NOAA now says the tweet, quote, "spoken absolute terms that there were inconsistent -- that there were -- that they were inconsistent with the probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

So why would that unnamed NOAA spokesperson come out with this statement now? It is nothing to do with the public safety.

Dorian is moving away from the mid-Atlantic states. Why would they do it now? There's no threat. It's moving away. There's really no reason for it except maybe to placate a president who is desperate to prove himself right. It's why he personally directed his homeland security adviser to fall on the sword. He did that yesterday. Telling that person to issue a statement saying that he was the one who showed the president a graphic that indicated possible tropical storm force winds in the southeastern tip of Alabama.

It's why this president called Fox News correspondent John Roberts into the Oval Office yesterday to argue that he wasn't wrong about Alabama. It's why the president himself according to a Washington Post source, the president himself according to a Washington Post source doctored a NOAA map with a sharpie, drawing a black line over Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That was the original chart. And you see it was going to hit not only Florida but Georgia. It could have -- which is going toward the gulf. That was what we -- what was originally projected.

[22:10:05]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you ever think why would the president with all the resources that he has, why would he bring a map into the Oval Office? Why would even bring a map there to show the trajectory of the storm? Why? Why, did you ever think why would he do that? Then with the thing. Come on, people. You know why. You know why. It's why he doubled, tripled, quadruple down, whatever we're up to at this point now on his claim that Alabama was in the path of that storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you showed us a map earlier of the initial forecast --

TRUMP: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and it appeared to have been, I guess edited or something to include Alabama. Can you explain how that change was made --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No. I just know -- yes. I know that Alabama was in the original forecast. They thought it would get it as a piece of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's why he denied knowing anything about who drew on that map with a black sharpie. Watch the face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that map that you showed us today it looked like it almost had like a sharpie --

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

TRUMP: I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It would almost be funny. Except that the president's ridiculously transparent attempts to cover up refusing to accept the reality that he was wrong when he repeatedly and against all the evidence claimed that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Well, all this was going on, there was an actual threat to Americans from the storm that killed at least 30 people in the Bahamas.

The president tweeting again and again today claiming that the news media is fixated on all of this, which is pretty rich when it's the president who seems to be fixated, fixated on tweeting, distracting and deflecting. Can you imagine a president -- why would the president of the United States even be tweeting about this?

Think about it in a normal, rational, logical, mature sense, if you're a person of a certain maturity. Think about it. You're the president of the United States. Why you even tweeting about this. Why? It makes absolutely no sense unless you're in elementary school.

Why is he expecting you to believe him and not your eyes and ears? I have said it before, he's been doing it since the second day of his administration when he tried to convince you that his inauguration crowd was the biggest in history even though we could see, we could all see that that was not true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness in inauguration. Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So that's not -- this is none of this, trust me. It pains me to do this. But it's my job. Facts. Informing the American people with facts. That's what we do as journalists. Inform the people with facts. Arm them with knowledge. Not disinformation.

So, what I'm giving you are the facts. This is not about a got you moment. OK? So, I mean, this views you of that notion, not at all. This is about whether Americans can trust this president whether they'll believe his words in the next emergency, and there will be one. There will be many. Because when the president said this on Sunday morning just after 11.30, he was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The original course was dead into Florida. Now it seems to be going up towards South Carolina towards North Carolina. Georgia is going to will be hit. Alabama is going to get a piece of it, it looks like. But it can change its course again. And it can go back Fort Worth, Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: When he said this about an hour later, he was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It may get a little piece of a great place. It's called Alabama. And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong wind and something more than that. It could be. This just came up unfortunately. It's the size of the storm that we're talking about. So, for Alabama, so please be careful also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The American people, you, need to rely on your president to tell you the truth. Shouldn't you? I mean, come on. Shouldn't you be able to rely on your president to tell you the truth?

[22:15:00]

Here's a question for you. Do you believe this president? Certainly, been a bizarre week of lashing out by the president.

We're going to discuss that. Alice Stewart, Max Boot, and Michael D'Antonio, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This week the president seems fixated on one thing and it's not doing his job. Like I said earlier, this is -- this is not normal.

Let's discuss now. Alice Stewart is here. Also, Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right," and Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Hello, one and all. Good to see you all of you.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Max, I'm going to start with you. The president focus in his behavior his defensiveness even the president to his standards. You have to say it's been a bizarre week. There's some very serious business happening with the storm. The government seems to be doing at this point, a very good job with it. He can be touting that.

[22:20:00]

Yet he is embroiled in this thing to try to correct something that he got wrong. Why not just drop and say I got it wrong? But look what our government is doing there. We're taking care of the people there. We're doing a great job. Why not do that and have us focus on that instead of him lying?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: What you're talking about, Don, is what a normal person would do and then you have what Donald Trump does which is usually the opposite of normal. Now I think this raises a lot of interesting issues. One of which was raised by Anthony Scaramucci in that quote you played where he suggested that Trump is suffering from cognitive decline.

And Scaramucci is certainly not the only person who thinks that. Now I'm a little bit skeptical because my own view is that yes, he is off his rocker. But it's not like he was ever on his rocker to begin with. I mean, he's acted like this basically from day one.

And you again highlighted that with the fact that he began this administration by claiming that the photographs of his inauguration were lying about the crowd size, which again, who does that? Why would any normal person do that? And yet, he was doing that from day one. And he's still doing it now, you know, well into his administration.

I think what's changed now is not necessarily that he is in cognitive decline although he could be. I mean I'm open to that hypothesis. But I think what's really changed is he doesn't have any adults around him anymore. The access of adults has left the room.

Trump is increasingly on his own and there is nobody who is willing to tell him hey, sir, this is nuts. You got to stop tweeting about the whether the hurricane was going to hit Alabama or not.

Nobody cares. This is trivial. Why are you prolonging the story? And so, this is very disturbing, Don. There is nobody in the White House who can look at him and say, knock it off. This is crazy stuff. Everybody is scared of him. And in fact, what you're seeing is that he is corrupting the entire institution of the government.

When you see NOAA when you see the homeland security adviser, they are all perpetuating his lies. They basically he mobilizes the government to say that his falsehoods are true. That is a very disturbing state of affairs. There's nobody to call him out on that in the government anymore.

LEMON: But also, to -- but it's not just people around him.

STEWART: Don?

LEMON: Alice, I'm going to -- I'm coming to you next. But, Alice, it's not just the people around him. It's the people -- you know, Alice, when something is egregious. You're a Trump supporter, you don't make excuses for him on this show. It's not just the people around him, it's also the people who come on television.

STEWART: Right.

LEMON: The people who support him, the people who go on, you know, who are his, I don't know, who in his social media whatever. People. They all make excuses. He says one thing that's wrong and they all rally around him to try to make it right. It's just not that.

And look, this is not about whether the government is doing a good job. We could be talking about that, but we're not because he continues to perpetuate a falsehood, Alice. And six days later, why is he still litigating this?

STEWART: On that very point that you just mentioned, Don, in terms of what the government is doing. The president did tweet out earlier tonight or this afternoon talking about hats off, good praise to FEMA, emergency responders, law enforcement. They have done a phenomenal job - which they have.

Unfortunately, that is over shadowed by the countless tweets and countless comments he has made with regard to Alabama and the sharpie map that he has put out. And here's the problem, is what we have had in the few days unfortunately is the cover up is worse than the confusion he's had at the very beginning.

And any time we're talking about a communication situation which has in this situation turned into a fire. Two things. You do not throw fire on it and do not put -- give an oxygen for it to continue to grow and grow.

And unfortunately, the more he tweets about this and more he talks about it, more focus is put on this which was inaccurate information than the valid information that he has put out with regard to the good work FEMA has done. The valuable information that he's putting out from the National Weather Service and Red Cross and emergency response information that needs to get out.

Unfortunately, that is being overshadowed by this story that continues to be discussed because he continues to put life into it.

LEMON: Yes, yes. Well, you're right. I just, Michael, I just want to play this. This is Anthony Scaramucci what he's saying about the president then I want you to respond. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: I think the president is in severe mental decline. And I'm not saying that now because I'm a political adversary or I disavow him. I'm saying that objectively just looking at what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This, OK, so I'm always, you know, we're very careful of this. He's not a psychologist. I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist doctor of any kind. But I do have --

(CROSSTALK)

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You have eyes to see.

[22:24:54]

LEMON: I have eyes to see and ears. And I can say I don't know what if he's in mental decline or any of that. But I can say that his behavior is unusual and erratic and not to the level especially that a person in his position should be. Do you understand what I'm saying?

D'ANTONIO: Yes. That's precisely right.

LEMON: So, then I don't know. What do you think?

D'ANTONIO: Well, this is, first of all, it is who Donald Trump has always been. Max is correct about that. It's possible to entertain this notion of cognitive decline. Secretary Mattis said that he thought that the president was of limited cognitive ability.

But I think that's partly been true his whole life. He operates on an instinct; he's been very successful at manipulating the media. He's been successful getting elected. He may be successful in getting reelected.

LEMON: Right.

D'ANTONIO: But this craziness. This way that he behaves is disturbing for all of us and it indicates a derangement not just of his personality and of his psychology but of his character. And I think this is what we look to our presidents for. To be people of good character who have an interest in the truth.

The president doesn't seem to have an interest in telling the truth or a sense that he has a responsibility to do so. And this is why people feel sort of unmoored. This is now an era of confusion, an era of bad feeling among the population because no one knows quite where the solid ground is. This man pulls us from one direction into another. And usually it's into an illusion. And that's very disturbing to us.

LEMON: I've got to ask this -- I've got to ask about him diverting money before we go. Because should we be talking about this, Max? And if you can quickly, I end up giving a short trip so I hate it. Three point six billion in military construction funds to build his wall. Should we be talking about that instead from military funds? You know, he's supposed to be the military president.

BOOT: Yes. Yes. I mean, this is a president who claims to uphold the Constitution, who is violating the Constitution by spending money that Congress has not appropriated and this is a president who claims to be pro-military. He always boasts about the men and women in uniform supposedly love him. And he is screwing the men and women in uniform right now. He is taking money away from them to build a wall that nobody needs as a political stunt so he can get reelected. This is basically sacrificing the needs of the men and women in

uniform for his own political needs which sadly is typical of the way that Donald Trump operates.

LEMON: I just don't -- I don't understand when there's facts and there's truth and there's logic. And then why some people it is so important for them to make themselves want and want to believe. You need to watch out. Want to believe what this president says even in the face of none of it being true.

D'ANTONIO: That's where Scaramucci --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What is that? Is that cognitive dissidents. What is this?

D'ANTONIO: Scaramucci was demonstrating this. The fact that at this moment, he comes out and says the president is suffering cognitive decline? This is the guy that he served. And he got on this train with this very same person.

LEMON: I got to go. Thank you all. I've got to go, Alice. I'm sorry. I'm over, and you know, you can imagine what they're saying in my saying. I got to run. Thank you. I'll see you soon, Alice. You're always on our show all the time. You guys have a great weekend. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

[22:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: One official from the Bahamas warning people to prepare for the unimaginable as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian is expected to soar. Hundreds, up to thousands of people still unaccounted for as a desperate search for survivors continues. Victor Blackwell is in the Bahamas where the scope of the devastation is just beginning to become clear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORREPONDENT: The strongest storm to ever hit the Bahamas. The strongest storm on the planet this year. This is what those superlatives look like up close. This business apparently in those 180 miles per hour winds. Just collapsed onto itself. You can see counter here, but what this was really isn't decipherable about what's left here?

But let me take you to this side. Because the only thing that is left here are stairs and the beginning of a porch. I can't even tell what was here. Those wind were so strong. For nine hours from one point where the eye of Dorian approached to Abaco. Came on land to the other side of the eye exited. It was nine hours those wind were here. With gusts up to 225 miles per hour. As far as you can see from Marsh Harbor, there is damage. This area is decimated and it will take a very long time to rebuild.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: And we spoke with some people who say that even after that area is rebuilt they do not want to go back. And Don, what I earned appreciation for when I went there today was the height of some of these piles of rubble. You've got just lumber. That is all that is left. And tossed in containers from the port. So, it will take great care to remove these huge containers, but also appreciate that there might also be some bodies in there. So, you have to do it with great tact and some deftness.

LEMON: Yes. You talked a little about their stories. You said, you saw people today and you were talking to them. Tell us, they're telling you their survival stories. What are they saying to you, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Yes. I spoke with Eddie Joseph. Who hid in the bathroom with his wife and two boys and when the eye passed and there was a moment of calm, he opened the bathroom door and there was sunshine. When what used to be his living room, because all of it had blown away. Just the bathroom stood. I spoke with the Moro family, they were four of 15 people who are in a single room during the storm. But I also spoke with a woman who rode out the storm alone. Her name is Germaine Smith and here's what she experienced.

[22:35:05]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERMAINE SMITH, DORIAN SURVIVOR: The next thing I look, I see a roof. Just slide off and came toward me. I was inside my bedroom and I ducked. I move, a big three came. I just lay and moved and just missed it. Just laid on the rain started pounding. My roof start lifting. So, I ran inside the bathroom for cover in the tub. They say it's always a safe haven and that's what saved me. And I was just praying to god. Just to save my life, because I was scared literally. I didn't think I was going to make it. And you know, I just (inaudible) unto that, but I was scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And Don, she's still sleeping in that bathtub every night. She is not leaving the island of Abaco, because she is now volunteering with World City kitchen. To feed people who are there and either cannot leave yet or have decided to stay too.

LEMON: Wow. You took some victims, Victor, I understand in Marsh Harbor on board a helicopter back to Nassau, correct?

BLACKWELL: Yes, we landed to refuel at the Marsh Harbor airport. And there was a family of four trying to evacuate. But the other chopper didn't have enough room for everybody. So, we took 14 year-old, Malick Moro on our chopper. Also 21 year-old Kenly Victor. Tomorrow is his 22nd birthday.

And on board this was their first opportunity to see the scale. They haven't had television or a cell phone access. So as we took off, they saw just how broad the damage was. And Kenly look out the window just shook his head the entire time we were over the island. I wanted to ask him about his experience during the storm. But he said I don't want to talk about it. And then 20 seconds later after I was silent. He said because every time I talk about it, I feel like it's a nightmare. And I just cannot wake up.

LEMON: Victor Blackwell, Victor, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Sure.

LEMON: Black unemployment hits a record low. How do black voters weigh those numbers against the president's racist comments? Next.

[22:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back. We want to talk about new numbers from the Labor Department showing that black unemployment is down to a record low. Take a look at you screen. It's at a 5.5 percent right now for the month of August. Down half a percent from last month. The president has boasted as you know, about strong black unemployment numbers throughout his first term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Numbers just came out. African American unemployment lowest in history. What do you have to lose? The African American unemployment rate has reached the lowest level in history. African American unemployment has reached another all time in history record low. In history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, joining me now to discuss. Democratic strategist Keith Boykin. Republican strategist, Joseph Pinion. What do you have to lose? Good evening. What do you have to lose, you all? The black unemployment rate falling to a record low, good news only part of the story. Give us the rest of the story.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is good news. It's a good trend. The black unemployment rate is 5.5 percent right now in August. It started going down though, in the Obama administration. It was 16.8 percent in March of 2010. And it dropped to 7.8 percent, at 54 percent redaction under President Obama.

And Trump while this is happening denied that it was even happening. He called the numbers fake news. Until he came into office and suddenly all the numbers he said were fake were magically real. And so he took credit for the momentum that has occurred since that time.

LEMON: OK. So let me just, because -- I want to put those back up. Just so, you know, so, under Obama, as you said, March 2010, 16.8 percent. End of the presidency, 7.9 percent. That is the difference of 8.9 percent. OK? So Trump's highest was 8 percent. That was February of 2017. Now it's at 5.5 percent. That is down 2.5 percent. So we have 8.9 president in the Obama presidency and down by 2.5 in this presidency.

As you said, it is good news. It is a good trend. But it doesn't start under this president and the numbers actually declined much stronger under the former president. How do black voters in 2020 weigh these low unemployment numbers against the president's racist behavior? Joseph, Charlottesville. Slamming Baltimore. Rodent infested. And you know, go on and on.

JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: Look, I think there's, we have the numbers and that we have the message. Right? The numbers to your point are encouraging. I think that again, we -- I think, you know, no one gives --

LEMON: More of that. Keep going. Right?

PINION: Yes, so, we need more of that, but I think the message is something that does not resonate with black communities and brown communities. Simply because of the rhetoric that has come out of the White House. And so, I think I said almost two years ago to the day on this program that if someone spits in your face and hands you a napkin. You don't get to say thank you.

LEMON: But can we talk about this, because I often hear that. Not only on this show, not only from -- but also in my personal life. I don't understand. Its black unemployment is down. And you know, people are doing better. But as you say, if someone spits in your face and hands you a napkin. What -- I don't understand that argument. Does that mean that the only part of your brain, or the only part of our being that matters is money? Rather than how someone treats you and what someone says about you? And --

PINION: I think that there is a disconnect in the sense of the fact that people don't seem to understand that you can't view people as ungrateful for critiquing you as for things that anybody else would critique them for in a personal interaction.

[22:45:13]

And so when you have people, even something that's trivial as A$AP Rocky, getting released from prison and the White House saying that, well, no one ever called me to say thank you.

Well, I mean, you know, I always say, you know, my favorite comedian is Chris Rock. And Chris Rock says, well, people say they want a cookie for taking care of your kids. You're supposed to take care of your kids. But when Americans get locked up abroad. You are supposed to make sure that Americans get out of jail.

LEMON: They get home safe.

PINION: So, I think that is just the reality. That when it comes to communities of colors, you want to talk about issues in Chicago that we have mass violence. Let's talk about it. But where's the plan to fix that? You want to talk about the fact that we have issues with black unemployment and those numbers that are trending down with.

That is great. But let's also talk about the fact that rich white people inherit more money than rich black people. Poor white people inherit more money than poor black people. And that is all related to this, in terms of issues that have rooted up in the conduct of history of America.

LEMON: Keith, 10 seconds.

BOYKIN: Not to mention the fact that Donald Trump had little to nothing to do with the drop in unemployment for African Americans. No one who talks about this in the Republican Party can cite a single policy contributed by Donald Trump that is responsible for the drop in black unemployment. It's all because of policies that started long ago.

It wasn't the tax cut or anything like that. Policy started long ago in the Obama administration when we started to see the drop. Another thing is that Obama had the good sense not to go out and brag about it every time that there was a drop in unemployment, because he knew it was still too high. Compared to the white unemployment rate.

LEMON: He didn't need to do that. He was a very secure.

PINION: Rising tide, we saw both (ph), but at the end of the day, I think this have to be able to say to the administration, hey, hold everyone to the same standard.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:00]

LEMON: Pay attention to this. Tomorrow the state that holds the first in the nation's presidential primary will host 19 Democratic presidential candidates. New Hampshire's Democratic state convention gives each candidate seven to 10 minutes to address the crowd. So let's discuss now with Joe Trippi and Rick Wilson, the author of "Everything Trump touches dies." Gents, hello, good evening, thank you. How important is this going to be in New Hampshire this weekend for the Democratic field, Joe Trippi?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's going to be a big, big day. I mean, look -- but it's about party building. This is really why a spirited primary is so important for a party. This is a state Trump won by a few thousands -- loss -- excuse me -- loss by 3,000 votes last in 2016. This is going to be a major event.

LEMON: When you say party building, what do you mean by that?

TRIPPI: I mean this is about building a Democratic Party that can win the state in the general election in November of 2020. That is what this is really about. Ray Buckley, the party chair there is masterful at pulling off these kinds of things.

LEMON: OK.

TRIPPI: You get all of these candidates in there. They're fighting it out, but their supporters are going to come. It's going to be 11,000, 12,000 people, and he is raised more money. The Democratic Party in New Hampshire has raised more -- 36 times what the Republican Party in New Hampshire has raised.

LEMON: I got to get Rick in. Rick, you know, Vice President Biden's campaign, they're working to downplay expectations for Iowa and New Hampshire, saying neither state is a must-win. Do you agree with that?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, I think Joe Biden's got a lot of name I.D. I think Joe is right that New Hampshire is consequential and important, but Biden has a lot of name I.D. He doesn't have to play by exactly the same rulebook that every other Democrat does. And he is focused a lot of effort in South Carolina from what we can see on the ground.

But look, you know, you have to perform at a certain level, and in New Hampshire it is right in front of you. It is right in your face. It is very much one to one, and that is a state where I think that individual connection and individual performance is going to be very important coming forward.

LEMON: So, listen, Joe, you say that these state by state polls are moving significant or more significant, I should say than national polls. I just want to get your take on. This is one from Wisconsin showing that former vice president Joe Biden beating President Trump 51 percent to 42 percent in a hypothetical head to head matchup. Now it's early, right? Trump also trails Senator Bernie Sanders, tied against Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. What do you make of that?

TRIPPI: Look, I think it's interesting, and it matters in terms of what it says maybe about Trump's weakness, but I think in terms of looking at any general election polls right now, national or state by state is a big mistake. I mean things turn so fast. I mean, I remember working for several candidates who were ahead, you know, whether it was against Ronald Reagan or against Bush in 2004, or Obama against Romney early on.

I mean the polls were closer. So things change pretty dramatically. I think the state by state, though, if you're going to look at general election polls, it's more significant that somewhat that these polls are close in these states that really matter, that Joe Biden beats Trump in Texas for instance.

LEMON: Yes.

TRIPPI: And that the rest of the field is close.

LEMON: Rick, you know, I got to ask you, because Republican officials in multiple states are about to cancel their 2020 presidential primary elections in a show of support for President Trump. In spite of the fact that a former Republican Congressman and governor are challenging him. It's happened under other presidents where they may either had no challenger or a minor one, is this standard or not?

WILLIAMS: Look, there have been incidents in the past, '84 is an example, '96 is an example with the Democrats where state parties said, you know, it's not worth our time to go and spend the money to do a primary, but there are serious people entering the primary against Donald Trump. Bill Weld and Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh, whatever their possibilities are, they are still going to mount a serious effort against Trump in these early primary states.

[22:55:10]

And I think it's a shame that the party is completely uninterested in these small-d Democratic prospect of a spirited contest as in a primary. That doesn't surprise me, though, Don, because this is basically a cult now around Donald Trump, and these guys in the cult will do anything to protect him from having anyone challenge him, particularly from his right.

Because they are terrified that they're going to, you know, have somebody up there speaking the truth, that Donald Trump is not a conservative, that he is a statist, an authoritarian, and that he is surrounded by people who don't want these primaries, because their primary goal is to, you know, praise Donald Trump, not to have a fair election.

LEMON: Gentlemen, that's got to be the last word. Thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

TRIPPI: Thanks, Don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)