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North Carolina Special Congressional Election; Republican Still Holds North Carolina's Ninth District; President Trump Has A Ready- Made Excuse Just In Case; CNN Projects Republican Dan Bishop Narrowly Wins; New CNN Poll Gives President Trump Bad News About How Americans Feel About His Presidency. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching tonight and our special coverage. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know how I - you know how I love you, and I love that video, and I love what you're doing with suicide, and just checking in on friends because we all go through tough times now and again, right? And it means the most.

You may think you are bothering someone, even if they -- even if you are bothering them. Who cares? Bother them. Check in on them. Love them. And tell them -- smack them on the head like you, or you tell me, get your fat butt out of bed and let's go to lunch. I mean, you have to do those things, right? You've got to do it.

CUOMO: It can make all the difference. Now, look, we're blessed. We've got a friend in each other and we know it. We check in all the time. But, you know, there's sometimes people -- look, I don't know about you, but in my life, I've lost people to suicide.

LEMON: Same here.

CUOMO: And you get hit with this feeling of, I should have done more. I should have done more. Why did I not know?


LEMON: What did I do? What -- yes. Yes.

CUOMO: And the human reality is people make their own choices. They're on their own journey. But reaching out to someone who seems a little off -- and we have good instincts as human beings. You know, your familiarity with somebody, they're a little quiet, and not showing up the same way, they're talking a little bit down about themselves.

What does it take you to ask questions about how they're doing and how they're feeling and what it could mean and whether or not they're taking care of themselves? It costs you nothing.

LEMON: Yes. So, I say that video of the two kids -- I don't know if they can run it. I don't know who's in control, your show or my show.

CUOMO: Mel, if you've got it, put the video back up --


LEMON: The video. But those kids. I love the video -- I love the video of those kids. That's like me and you after one of us goes on vacation. Where have you been?

CUOMO: It's how we both run after lunch.

LEMON: It's really great.

CUOMO: What I love about it is that it takes everything so simple. Yes, one kid is brown. And the other kid is white. But they just see each other and know each other as that, just somebody that makes them feel good.

LEMON: Yes. So, I got to tell you, though -- I got to run because we got big news. You know we got the election coming up.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: And we're following it very closely. We may not be friends after you watch Jimmy Kimmel tonight. I'm just saying.

CUOMO: You didn't go after me for a few laughs, did you? You're not that shallow, are you?

LEMON: Of course, I am. See you.

CUOMO: That was a rhetorical question. See you later. I'll be watching tonight.

LEMON: See you. Bye. See you later. Take it easy.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's our breaking news. The votes are being counted. They're being counted right now. I'm talking about this North Carolina special congressional election that could have huge implications across this country. We're going to tell you why. This is why.

Because what happens in the state tonight, it could be a precursor -- it could tell us a lot about what might happen in the 2020 race. The Republican, his name is Dan Bishop.

And then the Democrat, another Dan, Dan McCready, locked in a tight race. It's in a district that President Trump won handily in 2016. But it's close now between the Democrat and the Republican. A district that has been solidly Republican since -- get this -- 1963. Straight to it now.

CNN's John King at the magic wall with the very latest. Even though the president is not on the ballot, make no mistake. This is a large part of the referendum on his presidency. Votes still being counted, but this is a race that should be an easy

win for the GOP. It shouldn't even be close, but it is tonight. We're all over this story. CNN's best people on it, and there they all are. Let's get to one first. Mr. John King at the magic wall. Good evening, John. Results are coming in. How does it look right now at the moment?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Getting close to the finish line, Don. The Republican has a narrow lead, two numbers that matter very much as we get close. A 3,821 vote-lead for Republican Dan Bishop with 92 percent of the vote in.

You're right, even if Republicans just win this race, Democrats will say it should have been a blowout, that we're within a point or two is good news for the Democrats. Republicans will say forget that. We won a special election in a tough environment.

Guess what. If it turns out that way, both will be right. Republicans if they hold on will win a tough race in a tough environment. Democrats will say, we shouldn't be having this conversation tonight. This should have been a blowout.

So, as we look right now, 92 percent in. A 3,821 and 3,800 and change for Dan Bishop, the Republican. This is what's left, the big piece of what's left is Mecklenburg County, 76 percent in. This is about a third, 30 percent to a third of the district depending on turnout.

It's the Charlotte -- edge of Charlotte and then the suburbs to the southeast of Charlotte. You see it blue for Dan McCready. You see he's winning. This is good news for the Democrats. Again, Republicans are having trouble in the suburbs. That's on steroids in the Trump era.

Dan McCready in this part of the district winning, and winning quite big. The question, Don, as we get to the end, remember that, 3,200 and change lead, is there enough here? Does this margin hold up as the rest of this vote comes in, and is it enough?

Not impossible, but I would argue as we get close to here, it's getting more difficult and maybe even improbable. But watch it. It's not impossible as we watch the votes come in.

Why is all the focus now on Mecklenburg? Big Republican county here. A 100 percent in. Dan Bishop wins. Dan McCready winning here but 100 percent in. No more to be counted.

Move over here, 100 percent in in Richmond. No more to be counted. A 100 percent in Scotland County, the part of the district, no more to be counted. Robison County, same thing, 100 percent in.


The only place where there are still votes out is Bladen County. It's a small county but it's a rural Republican county. So, Dan Bishop has a lead now. He can expect to get a little more as the back half to a third comes in here.

This changed the race late. Cumberland County, which is Fayetteville suburbs to the southeast of Fayetteville here was blue most of the night. It's essentially a tie but Dan Bishop eking out a lead there getting a little bit votes where McCready was leading most of the race.

So, let's come back to the big picture. Up to 95 percent now. That lead added a little bit. This is what I mean how it gets not impossible but improbable and very difficult in the sense that as the final votes come in -- let me pull out Mecklenburg and see what we're up to.

We're now up to 90 percent in Mecklenburg. So, Dan McCready continues to lead. The question is as more and more comes in, Don, can it come in? He has to outperform this. He's been winning 56 percent of the vote in the county throughout right now. He has to do better than that because when you pull it out, he has to overcome that.

Again, math is not impossible. I would argue it's starting to get improbable. What does that mean? It means Dan Bishop is in the lead. In the next hour or so we should be able to finish this up.

And again, if he holds on, Republicans will say, President Trump winning it at the last minute. He will say he made the difference. Republicans will say, we won. They will be right. They will have held this seat that they've had since 1963.

If you're the Democrats, you're going to look at this and you've got to think, we came really close. That means we are strong in the suburbs heading into 2020, but you still will have lost a race in which you were very close.

Again, we'll count the final 5 percent probably within this hour and know the winner.

LEMON: You're right. Listen, a win is a win if they do win. But I mean, it's got to be, you know, to them, they've got to wonder what the heck is going on. Why, as you said, Republicans are in trouble in the suburbs in the Trump era.

I'm just wondering how does this race reflect, John, what's ahead in 2020 because, you know, you still got -- you've got a while until 2020. They start, you know, we don't know who's going to be on the ballot, right, before they start counting votes. But I mean, if Democrats get their act together and get a game plan, maybe they could eke out a win somehow.

KING: There's two different ways to look at it. The president will say, number one, if the Republican holds on, he will say, I went in late. I helped carry the day. Once we get to 2020, I'm on the top of the ballot. I'll be fine. That is the president's mind-set. A lot of his advisers tell him, sir, it's not going to be that easy, but that is his mind-set.

In the short term -- we'll learn more about 2020 as we go and get closer to 2020. And go through the Democratic primaries. Who do they nominate? Who are the third-party candidates? But in the short-term, I will tell you this. Even if the Republican

holds on, and this number stays like this, in the short-term, you're going to see more Republicans who are thinking we're not going to get the majority back in 2020 in the house, are we? You're going to see even if the Republicans hold on here, you're going to see more Republican retirements without a doubt.

LEMON: All right. John King standing by at the magic wall. John, we got 5 percent, right.

KING: Right.

LEMON: And you said we should get it this hour.

KING: We hope so.

LEMON: We'll check back. John King, thank you. Stand by. I want to bring in now Dana Bash, David Chalian, Nia-Malika Henderson.

Good evening to all of you, the best folks to talk about this in the business. So, David, I'm going to start with you. It's a tight race. What is standing out to you right now?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, one thing you were just talking with John King that the president may claim some credit here if the Republican holds on. John was showing you that Cumberland County, where Fayetteville is --

LEMON: Right.

CHALIAN: -- and how that was basically a tie. It had been a Democratic lead all night. What is really intriguing there is that, remember, McCready was on the ballot, Don, in 2018. He won Cumberland County by four points in 2018. Now it's a dead heat.

Well, where was the president last night? He was in Fayetteville. He was in Cumberland county. He will see that as evidence that the last- minute drive into the district and to rally the troops could make a difference with that election day vote today.

LEMON: Dana, you know, you've been hearing some Republicans call the ninth congressional district a swing district. I mean, how worried -- 1963, a swing district? How worried are they tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were worried. They're not completely ready to breathe a sigh of relief until this is actually called.


LEMON: But it's looking like they're going to win, but as you said, yes.

BASH: But it's looking like -- right. But it's looking like they are. And what David just said about those areas where the president helped, it's not just Republicans who are saying that. It's actually I've been communicating with a Democratic strategist

who's very involved in this, saying that it was very likely that it was the president's visit, the president's effort that popped up the numbers of his base, you know, Republican voters and potentially put the Republican there over the edge if it ends up as tight as it looks right now. We'll see if that's the case.

So, look, on the one hand you could say, well, for a Republican president to go into a district that he won by almost 12 points in 2016, that no Republican has won in the congressional level since 1963, OK, so what? But we would have been having a very different conversation if the president didn't go in and if the Democrat did take this seat.


LEMON: Interesting. Nia, I want to bring you in now. The suburban voters have played a really big role in previous elections. Talk about how important those voters are tonight.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. I mean, they were the story of 2018. Suburban districts across the country that went for Donald Trump essentially flipping for the Democrats.

The Democrats ran candidates in these races, and Dan McCready of course was one of them in 2018 who fit the district more, right? They were moderate, they ran on bread and butter issues like health care, like education, same issues that Dan McCready is running on now, and they were able to flip these districts.

And that is why Nancy Pelosi holds the speaker's gavel at this point. These are the voters that even somebody like Biden is looking at, right?


HENDERSON: This idea that there's sort of the chamber of commerce Republicans, right, who like the economy, like the fiscal approach of this president, but don't like the Twitter version of this president, don't like the culture war version of this president.

You saw in this district that Dan Bishop, he kind of ran a culture war campaign. He, himself, said it was all about Donald Trump. A lot of the ads that were running were very negative in terms of Dan McCready and you saw of course the president go in there and essentially say that Dan McCready was going to be a rubber stamp for the left, which he called anti-American.

So that's the race that he won -- ran, Dan Bishop, and might win as a result in this swing district. But some worrying signs, of course, for Republicans among those key blocs of suburban white, college educated voters, who do seem to be fraying and running away from this president. We'll see what happens tonight in this race.

LEMON: David, you mentioned it. Dana mentioned it as well. This is what the president said on his way to that rally last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it's getting less close. If you look at the numbers from two weeks ago, and I got involved about two weeks ago, and the numbers have gone way up. I think Dan has a very good chance of winning the election. Again, I'm not running, but I have a lot of respect for Dan Bishop.


LEMON: David, clearly, he was --


CHALIAN: Again, I'm not running. He just wanted a little bit of distance.

LEMON: Yes, like, I'm not running.


CHALIAN: Just in case it didn't work out.

LEMON: Yes, if he loses, I'm not running. But if he wins, it's because of me. He was worried.

CHALIAN: Listen, he is going to take credit for it. There's no doubt to it. There's some evidence to suggest it's valid for him to take some credit. He and Pence both go down there the day before the election. They didn't do that just on a lark.

They did that because they knew how important it was to hang on to this, to have this moment of even if it's just a short-term sigh of relief, the closeness of this election if the Democrat does come up short is still something that is going to provide heartburn to a lot of Republican strategists looking at the long term health of the party and their chances in 2020 of taking back the house in Trump's re- election effort.

But in the short term, the psychological ability to say that terrible political environment from 2018 is behind us, that is a really important thing for the Republican Party.

BASH: Yes. And, Don, look, he can take credit and probably should as we've been saying if the Republican Bishop does win.

But the bigger picture still exists, which is this should not have been competitive --

CHALIAN: Precisely.

BASH: -- for any other Republican since, you know, again, since 1963, this has not been competitive.

LEMON: Well, -- BASH: The factor that is different now than all of the decades since is Donald Trump --

LEMON: But, Dana --

BASH: -- and the trend that we saw in 2018. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

LEMON: But, Dana -- no, no, no. I'm just riffing off what you're saying because we watched the special election. You were up with me covering. And you know, when some people called it a blue wave or whatever you want to call it.

But in districts and in these special elections that Republicans had held, especially in the suburbs -- you know John mentioned the suburbs. We talked about this as well.

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: I mean, listen, again, a win is a win. But still this should not be happening.

BASH: No, exactly. That's exactly right. And John mentioned this when he was talking about the latest numbers that we're seeing, that it is a reality that there are Republican after Republican who are -- they are announcing that they are retiring in districts like this or even districts that are, you know, maybe not as comfortable as this but similar in terms of its suburban makeup, in Texas especially and elsewhere.

But Texas is, I think the most interesting, because they don't want to deal because of the Trump factor, because of the reality, you know, because the minority is not so fun in the house, and that's where Republicans are right now, and they don't necessarily see that changing even in the next election when the president is at the top of the ticket.


LEMON: Nia, let's see this. This was Trump plus 12, this district. Bishop is currently up by about two points. How many more districts does that mean are potentially in play across the country?

HENDERSON: Well, listen, I think it certainly means that if you're Republican -- and Dana alluded to this, you're worried. If you're one of these Republicans thinking that in some ways you might have a chance to take back the House come 2020, that doesn't seem so likely at this point.

It also, I think, goes to show that running so closely with Donald Trump in these districts seems to be effective at this point. Dan Bishop wrapped himself in the mantle of Donald Trump, literally said this is about Donald Trump.

Donald Trump had robocalls to folks in that district, and of course was there on Monday with Junior, with Pence. Everyone was there. The congressional committee poured millions of dollars into this race, so they had to be all in. It was all in for Donald Trump.

So, any of these folks who think in some ways, you know, they can sort of play it cute and sort of dial back their adoration and affiliation with Donald Trump as a Republican, that's going to be increasingly difficult.

And you see that some people are leaving as a result of that, right? You think somebody like Will Herd, who is a critic of this president, basically throwing in the towel because there's no room or very little room in this party for people who aren't kind of all in on this president.

CHALIAN: Especially, I would just add to what Nia is saying -- especially in red districts.


CHALIAN: Like this one.


CHALIAN: I mean, her we saw it in the last Florida gubernatorial election. Ron DeSantis, right? He went all in on Trump. He was able to win a battleground state that might tilt a little red.

Here's the question. Will it work in less red-leaning places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin in 2020? If we're trying to look at lessons from this election, I think that's the big question. Does the full Trump embrace work in some of these less red areas?

LEMON: All right. Stand by. We've got a lot of ground to cover here. We'll be counting the votes. Stick around. Our breaking news tonight, the special congressional election that could tell us a lot about what to expect in the 2020 race. John King at the magic wall with the very latest. We'll be right back.



LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight. Results are coming in for the very close race in the ninth congressional district in North Carolina, a district that has been solidly Republican since 1963.

John King, he's back with us at the magic wall. John, as I understand, though, that Republican Dan Bishop has held off the Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina in this district. And, again, this was an election that has been -- was plagued with that ballot fraud, but it appears that Dan Bishop has held off the Democrat here. It should have been a win, an easy win for Dan Bishop. Go ahead. What do you know?

KING: In 2018, it was ballot fraud. Dan Bishop was not the candidate. Mark Harris was. Dan Bishop, the replacement candidate if you will, for the special election. Dan McCready was the Democrat back then.

Democrats thought because of the familiarity maybe they could pull it off but, Don, we're now ready to call this one. Dan Bishop will win. North Carolina nine will stay in Republican hands, which it has stayed since 1963.

So, your headline there is a Republican win, and the president will say a Republican win thanks to his last-minute visit and his last- minute help in this race without a doubt. Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief. They will hold this seat.

Dan Bishop winning you see he's about 4,100 votes ahead with 99 percent of the votes counted. In the end, even though Dan McCready is going to win Mecklenburg County, it was just simply not enough. It was simply not enough.

A big margin there, 13 points. This is the biggest basket of votes in this district southeast of Charlotte, if you will in the suburbs. But just not enough for Dan McCready. Dan Bishop holding on.

Let me pull the district back out. Sorry about that. Very close race. Very close race in a district President Trump carried just three years ago by 12 points.

So, the Democrats will claim a moral victory. A moral victory doesn't get you a seat in the House. Dan Bishop will get the seat in the House. The question now is, Don, as we go into 2020 is, yes, this is, even though the Republicans win, more proof in the suburbs here and even over here, over here in this county here, Cumberland County, Dan Bishop held on, essentially a tie there, just about 30 votes, held on.

But in the suburbs, there's no question. Republicans have a huge problem. They hold on here. The president will argue when he's on the ballot next time, it will be different. He'll have a billion dollars, for example.

He'll have -- he's using the rally even like the one here to build a voting list. So, a lot of lessons to be learned here. The Democrats again will say we shouldn't have been that close. That's good for us. The Republicans will say, we won the seat.

LEMON: What did he win by in 2016, meaning Trump, President Trump?

KING: Trump won this very same district. Let's look it up here. Let's bring it up. Remember, you're going to have a Republican victory tonight in the ballpark of two points. Right? We got a little bit more to count. But here in the ballpark 51-49 if you round those up. So, a two-point race.

We go back to the presidential race. This is the very same district. It's a 12-point race. Now, turnout is much higher in a presidential year. North Carolina is a red state although it's a very competitive state, it leans red.

But there's no question Democrats can say, look at this. This was plus 12, plus 12 just three years ago in the presidential race. A lot higher turnout.

Again, look at these numbers, 186-9, 147 Gary Johnson getting just shy of 10. That's in a presidential year. Now, you come up here and you're talking about less than 200,000 votes. So significant drop-off in a congressional race anyway. Add in it's a special congressional race. Your turnout is way down.

But still, a two-point win for the Republicans compared to a 12-point win for the Republicans. The one unmistakable takeaway here is the suburban revolt that we saw in 2018 -- even in 2016 President Trump underperformed Mitt Romney in the suburbs nationally.

LEMON: Really?

KING: In 2018, that gets magnified hugely. Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker of the House. Republicans are going to hold this seat tonight.


But in the post-election analysis, the Republicans know they still have a problem in the suburbs. Now they will say we won this race, whew, we have some time to try to deal with it.

LEMON: They're probably saying more than whew.

KING: Probably. Probably.

LEMON: Probably. We won't go there. John King, thank you. John, stick around. We may need you. We're going to move on and get to our analysts to talk about this. So, stand by, John King.

KING: You got it.

LEMON: As you know, this is our breaking news. CNN projects Republican Dan Bishop wins the special election in North Carolina's ninth district. That as a new poll -- a new CNN poll gives President Trump bad news about how Americans are feeling about his presidency.

Look at this. It's all in the numbers, folks. Only 39 percent of Americans approve of the job that he's doing. Fifty-five percent disapprove. Six in 10 Americans say that the president does not deserve to be re-elected.

Back with me, Dana Bash, David Chalian, Nia-Malika Henderson. So welcome back, everyone. So, listen, let's look at this in terms of what happened in North Carolina, what's happening, you know, around the country in many Republican-held -- in a number of Republican-held areas.

This is a president -- David, this is the president's lowest approval rating since January during the government shutdown. His approval rating has never really been high. So, explain why we are now seeing Republicans losing, or running these tight races in areas that Trump won so handily.

CHALIAN: Well, listen, his approval rating in our poll is 39 percent nationally. But in that North Carolina nine district, Donald Trump's approval rating is majority support. I think he's above 50 percent --

LEMON: Right.

CHALIAN: -- in that district. Just showing you how much the president's approval rating is tied to his election prospects and his party's election prospects going forward.

But you mentioned this is on the lower end. You know, we have talked, Don, many times about how Donald Trump operates in a very narrow band of approval ratings here. But this is now consistently over the summer we've seen him operate in the lower end of that.

And here is what I think we see happening. Two things. One, he is not making any gains whatsoever among these independent voters. They have just been pushed away, and he has not done anything to bring them back. That's one.

Obviously, Republicans are still super strong from I think 88 percent of Republicans approve of the president's job performance in this poll. But on the economy, which has been his strong suit, what we see in these numbers is that for the very first time in seven months, he's dipped below 50 percent approval.

He's about even now, 48 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove in his handling of the economy, Don. That used to be a big advantage for him. That advantage has been wiped away. It's still his best issue, but it isn't the big advantage it used to be. And I think that has something to do with where his overall numbers are.

LEMON: The economy, Dana, has been one of the president's biggest assets.

BASH: Yes.

LEMON: Better hope it, you know, it hangs on. But for the first time in seven months in our polling, his approval has dropped below 50 percent to 48 percent. Is he losing his best argument for -- or at least on the verge or the possibility of losing his best argument for re-election?

BASH: Look, that's exactly what David was just referring to, and that is what frankly I'm told his biggest concern is right now when he looks to his re-election. Understanding very well that a humming economy was keeping him at least above sea level in general polling- wise --


LEMON: But even having a humming economy, his approval rating still wasn't high for a humming economy.

BASH: Well, no. You're exactly right. It would have been even --


LEMON: That's why David said he's operating within the narrow bandwidth, right? BASH: No question. No question. But the economy, his economic

numbers, his approval numbers on the economy were keeping him higher than he would have been based on --

LEMON: Right.

BASH: -- every other issue and based on other issues, you know, of his presidency besides policy ones. So, there's that.


BASH: And when you look at that, not just with this president and how he sees it, he's right that historically how people feel about, a, a president and how the president is handling the economy, and, b, this wasn't looked at in here but we've seen it more broadly in several polls, and it is a trend in public polling and in private polling as well that I'm told about, is how people view the economy, right track, wrong track.

That is historic. You remember James Carville, Paul Begala, it's the economy stupid. It all comes down to that. How do people feel about how the country is going, the economy is going vis-a-vis their lives? That has been OK, but there have been warning signs in the last couple of polls.

And that is really, really problematic if it continues that downward trend for this president because it takes a lot to fire a president. And this president has other characteristics that are problematic for suburban voters and others, and it was the economy -- it has been the economies that propped him up as much as he has been.


LEMON: Well, you know, recently he said, Nia, that he doesn't -- you know, politics, he doesn't do everything for politics. But we know he looks at everything through a political lens and he's got 2020, you know, right in his windshield right now, but 60 percent in that poll, they don't think the president deserves re-election. I mean, that's got to send shock waves through the White House, and it has to be concerning to him.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean as a candidate, Donald Trump wasn't that popular. His saving grace was that Hillary Clinton also wasn't that popular. I think his victory in 2016 proved that you can win the White House while not being that popular, and it could be that looking forward to 2020, there could be the same dynamic at play.

Dana there talks about how voters feel, and we see that the president really is, I think, trying to tap into and keep tapping into how voters, particularly white voters, feel about their place in America, right? We saw him in his rally yesterday essentially say, he was the one standing between the folks in that audience and Democrats who want to take away their way of life.

Now, certainly that appeals to white working-class voters, but to a certain extent, it also appeals to -- I think we've seen this in some of the data -- just regular Republicans, right? His approval rating among Republicans is quite high. We saw that tonight.

Sure, we do see some of that fraying among suburban voters, suburban white voters, but this president also, I think, is betting that this sort of white identity politics is so powerful, he has a real emotional hold on voters across this country, white voters, who in some ways feel a sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be and a sort of fear about where this country is going.

And so I think, visibly, you know, we can't downplay how powerful that has been for this president and how he is going to continue to go to that well, right? It's why he is willing to literally raid the Pentagon and take away funds from the military to build this wall. He wants to cut a campaign ad with him walking down that border rally -- border wall and saying he delivered for these people who do have a certain level of unease about where the country is going.

So, listen, I think this is a president, like most incumbent presidents, who is probably the favorite going into 2020. So with this result, listen, it was close, but so was 2016.

LEMON: Right, yes. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Here we go. There was another night. There will be another one soon we'll be doing this. Thank you. I appreciate it.

We've got a lot more on our breaking news. CNN projects Republican Dan Bishop eking out a win in North Carolina, it's a hard fought special congressional election that really shouldn't have been this close. John Kasich weighs in. John is next.



LEMON: We're back now with our breaking news. CNN's projecting that Republican Dan Bishop narrowly wins it tonight's special election in North Carolina's ninth congressional district.

This is a race that should have been a slam dunk for Republicans. So what does tonight tell us about 2020? Joining me now to discuss, John Kasich, the former Ohio governor. Good evening, sir. So, as I say, a win is a win, but what message should Republicans take from this special election, tonight's special election?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, just it's a repeat of 2018, Don. You know, it's obviously they have trouble with the suburbs. You know, that is a real problem. And we saw it out here in Ohio. I've watched it all over the country.

But, Don, here's something that I haven't heard said tonight that I think we have to think about. This guy, Dan McCready, who by the way I saw one of his little -- he was holding one of his kid's hands, a little boy. He was carrying a stuffed animal with his head down. If this kid is probably not watching, but if he is, your daddy did good, OK, so give him a big hug.

But Don, here's the thing. McCready was not for like -- he was not for taking away people's health insurance and giving them some government program. He was not for some green new deal, some environmental extremism. He wasn't for saying we're going to have this big wealth tax. If he had run like that, he would have been pummeled, but he didn't. See, I think he was a veteran --

LEMON: He was a moderate.

KASICH: -- a businessman, all those things, yes. And that is who won in 2018. So when you look at the Democrat primary now, you've got Biden who is a moderate, who gets savaged just about every day. And you have Elizabeth Warren, who is a proponent of very liberal ideas, and Bernie Sanders. Those are the top three.

Now, if Trump is running for re-election here and he is able to point to those things, say look how radical that is, look how far that leans towards socialism or whatever, what do you think happens in these districts? That is why the Democrats had better be very careful. And for some reason, it seems like they just want to talk about all these ideas.

And even though they say they want to win, it doesn't seem as though they're putting anything up there that the folks that they need in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- they don't like a lot of that radical stuff. My dad was a Democrat. If I had told my dad, hey, dad, they're going to take your private health insurance, but don't worry the government will cover --

LEMON: I don't know if I'd call it radical, though, John. I'm not sure if I recall it radical.

KASICH: It's out there. It's out there. Well, radical --

LEMON: Stand by. Stand by. I want to continue this conversation. I want to take a break, and then we'll talk more on the other side. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. CNN's projecting that Republican Dan Bishop narrowly wins tonight's special election in North Carolina's ninth congressional district. I'm back with John Kasich. We're talking about this, and we're talking about what does this mean for 2020.

Let me tell you why I said before the break what you said was radical. Listen, I think its human nature. It should be at least. It's what America is about to want to take care of people who are sick, that everyone is entitled to health care that we should want to take care of the planet.

I know the idea of how are you going to pay for it, that may seem radical. And so I understand that some people have issues with it, but I'm not sure if it's -- you know, to call it radical, but having said that --

KASICH: Wait, wait, wait.

LEMON: You have to be -- hold on. Hold on, let me finish my statement.


LEMON: Having said that, you've got to be understand -- you have to understand the point in time that we're in and that this is the right time to be pushing for some things that may seem -- that may seem radical to some people. Go on.

KASICH: Yes. Look, first of all, Don, if I have health insurance through my employer and somebody comes along and says, I'm going to take that away from you and give you government insurance that is not covering -- I expanded Medicaid. What are we talking about here?

LEMON: It depends on how good the government insurance is. OK? If the government insurance is really good, then I'll take it.

KASICH: Well, no, I don't -- but I'm just -- OK, let me just tell you in my opinion, most people are not going to say they like that, because they don't trust what the government might do, OK? That's my point is if you're going to --



LEMON: John, we don't know what the government might do unless you do it. You don't know what it's going to be. I mean, the government may be able to provide some great insurance. You don't know that. It may provide better insurance than I have through my employer already if everybody got onboard. I'm just saying.

KASICH: OK, but let me just tell you, no, if McCready had run on that, he would have gotten smashed. That is what I'm telling you.

LEMON: I agree. I agree with you 100 percent on that part. I agree with you. That is why I said you have to be aware of the moment that we're in.

KASICH: Yes. OK. Let me say this. I believe that 2020 is a reset election. And Biden is way out there. And he is getting hammered every day, but he's leading right now because Democrats say he's the most electable.

I believe that 2020 is a reset election. Get back to some normalcy. The big election for the direction of the country in my opinion comes in 2024, and I understand Elizabeth Warren and Bernie are firing up the crowds. I see all that. I'm just trying to say to you that Pennsylvania, Michigan, can you flip North Carolina, Wisconsin. You got to be really careful about what your message is.

And if your message makes people uncomfortable even though they don't like the president, they might say, well, you know what, I don't like any of them. And frankly it's what happened, you know, with Hillary and Donald Trump. So I'm just saying to you that they've got to be very careful.

LEMON: I agree with you. We don't disagree on that point. We don't disagree on that point.


LEMON: But listen, there are a number of countries who provide health care for their citizens and it's really good health care. So I don't know if you can say that government health care is always worse than employee-provided health care.

KASICH: No. I'm trying -- Don, look, I believe that the Obamacare exchange is good.

LEMON: That's two different points, but I got to go.


LEMON: Two different points, but I have to go.

KASICH: We will do it again, I know.

LEMON: But I agree with you on one of the points. Stop it, OK.

See you later. We'll be right back.

KASICH: Thank you. See you. Bye.



LEMON: Breaking news tonight CNN projects Republican Dan Bishop has narrowly won the special election in North Carolina's ninth congressional district. But this is the district the president won handily back in 2016. So should the GOP be worried? They should be celebrating, they did win.

Let's talk about it now, Charlie Dent, he is a former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania. CNN Political Commentator, Ana Navarro a Republican strategist.

Hello to both of you. Charlie, I'm going to start with you. Bishop did pull it out. Should Republicans be relieved, worried, a little bit of both? Happy?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Republicans should be relieved. They should be worried. And they should understand that there was a serious under performance here by the Republican candidate. For whatever reason. Now he is the bathroom bill guy. The Democrat was obviously a strong marine core small businessman.

But we have seen Republican under performance in special election in the last cycle too. Montana, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the (inaudible). We have seen this. And so, by the way the economists I saw some statistics and the economist suggest that there are 32 Republican held seats in the House that are less GOP leaning than this one in North Carolina.

So, if I'm a Republican, I'm real nervous. Because this is not a competitive seat. I shouldn't have been playing ball here. This is should be a lay-up seat. But had to spend millions just to hold it by two points.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, Ana, at that rally last night it sure looked like, you know, Trump country. And it worked out for Bishop. What's your take here? What's your take away?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Trump is going to take credit for it. I think Republicans are going to spin this as a big victory. And I think they should be happy and they should be relieved because the loss would have been a debacle for them.

That being said, they are going to pretend to be happy, they are going to pretend that it was a huge victory. But the folks that read the polls that look at the fine print. That going to the weeds of what happened in this election.

LEMON: The metrics.

NAVARRO: Are going to be very worried. Because they see the warning signs. There's a reason why 15 Republicans have announced that they are retiring. There's a reason why Donald Trump is losing independents. Has lost so much support from independents. But warning signs are everywhere. They were there in 2018, and they are there now. But they're going to spin this as a big win.

LEMON: Charlie, listen. You heard what Ana had to say. You have to, you know, this is maybe for voting or something for 2020. But suburban voters helped Democrats retake the House last year. The president, he clearly has to be paying attention to that.

DENT: Of course. Republicans having it -- getting cleaned up and I think wipeout, actually in suburban areas. I mean just in the state of Pennsylvania, Don, you were up in the Philadelphia for a long time. The Collar Counties of Philadelphia were a killing zone for Republicans in the last election cycle.

Look at what's happened in suburban Dallas, suburban Houston, Orange County, California. How much more evidence do we need that there are problems with suburban voters particularly with women and we need to find -- not just college educated women, but even white women without a college degree? The president's numbers are slipping there.

This is significant under performance by any measure. And if you're Donald Trump and Senator Tom Tillis of North Carolina, you need to win that congressional district. North Carolina nine, by a much more robust margin than that was won tonight. If they hope to carry that state. So, I would be worried.


LEMON: That's got to be the -- I got to go, Ana. Quick, quick, quick.

NAVARRO: Don, Donald Trump is going to continue being Donald Trump and fanning the flames of his base. He's going to continue picking fights with brown people and black people and immigrants and demonizing others and just making this about us and them. And he thinks that works for him. He will continue using his same play book of division.

LEMON: All right. I've got to run. Our time is short. Sorry about that. Because we had the breaking news at the top of the show. Thank you Charlie. Thank you, Ana, I appreciate it.

Suburban voters where the key for Democrats in 2018. What have we learned about them tonight? John King breaks it down. He's at the magic wall, next.