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CNN TONIGHT

John Bolton Out As National Security Adviser; North Carolina's Special Election, A Testing Ground For Republicans; Republican Narrowly Wins North Carolina Special Election; President Trump Says Economy Is One Of The Reasons Why He Should Be Re-elected; President Trump Delivers Campaign Pitch To Leaders Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities; President Trump's Job Approval. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We begin this hour with breaking news on the hard-fought special election in North Carolina's Ninth District.

The Republican Dan Bishop narrowly winning a district that Trump took handedly in 2016. A district so red it's been solidly Republican since 1963. It shouldn't have even been close, but it was.

The president taking credit tonight for Bishop's victory. But in the midst of tonight's win, are there warning signs for the GOP?

Let's begin with CNN's John King at the magic wall. John, good evening to you. How narrow was Bishop's win tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very, very narrow, Don. And in that, two things can be true at once. The Republicans did win the seat. That's a relief for them in a district they should have won easily but they won it narrowly.

And, two, yes, there are warning signs, to your point.

Let's look at the numbers. Dan Bishop, 99 percent of the vote in. Winning with a little over 4,100-vote margin. It's a two-point race, 51 to 49 if you did the rounding there, 51-49 in a district President Trump carried by 12 points. Twelve points.

So, from two points from presidential year, two points now. Twelve points in the presidential year, as you noted, 56 years this seat has been in Republican hands.

The president will claim credit in part because his election rally was in this part of the district over here. And no, Dan Bishop did not win Cumberland County by a lot. You can see it right there, it's a 35 to 36 votes. But, but Dan McCready, the Democrat knew he needed to turn this

county, the Fayetteville suburbs here he needed it to be blue to have a realistic chance of victory tonight. And it was not. And just south of where the president visited in this rural county. The Republican running it up as he needs to do.

Now the Democrats, Don, will claim a moral victory. If you move over here to Mecklenburg County, this is the Charlotte suburb. you see the district, just sort of touches the edge of Charlotte, it goes down into the southeast suburbs.

The suburbs have been moving Democratic and they continue to do so tonight. A big win for Dan McCready in the part of Mecklenburg County that is in the ninth district. Just not enough. This math not enough to offset the Republican votes elsewhere.

But the Democrats will rightly claim they continue to show that under Trump the Republicans are in trouble especially in close in suburbs.

Here's the bottom line, though. If you look at it, Dan Bishop will be the Republican congressman from the ninth district. The Democrats will look at this margin, though, and say, close, what lessons can we learn for other House districts in 2020 that are less reliably Republican than this.

Meaning, if you can come within two points here, where might you be able to run other candidates? And I would say this. The president is right to take some credit. He'll claim victory tonight.

Other Republicans, Don, in the House they are going to look at this map and you're going to have several Republicans who are already on the fence about retiring thinking maybe the 2020 climate not so great. I might think about going home.

LEMON: John, Dan Bishop is speaking with the president by phone now. And again, as we have been saying, you know, the president has been taking credit for, for the win because he went down to help rally, to help rally the troops and get a win.

But listen, according to this Cook Political Report, there are 35 GOP held seats, you know, that's less Republican than this seat. Will there be concerns about a blue wave sequel do you think?

KING: Yes. A blue wave sequel that's a harder one to look at. but the president has not had coattails. The president, if you want to go back to 2016, Don. Let's go back to 2016 and let's look at the presidential race. Let's take this off and just look at the entire country.

If you come out here. Look at this. Remember, remember, President Trump lost the popular vote. There was not a giant Trump coattail effect as a president often has.

So, if you look at our new polling tonight six in 10 Americans say someone else should be president. His approval rating under 40. All that can change between now and November. The issue for Republicans in this House districts, that's your question, they have to make the decision run for reelection now or in the next couple of weeks. Maybe couple of months.

You look at the filing deadline in your state. You look at common courtesy. Let somebody get in the race. So, they -- people thinking about should I retire in the House. The minority is not fun. They already think it's very unlikely they get the majority back in 2020.

Now they look at a district like this, to your point about Charlie Cook, Amy Walter, the excellent smart people to Cook Political Report. If you're in another district somewhere at here in America, all these House districts you saw what happened in 2018 when the Democrats changed the map. You're thinking this is going to be hard to begin with.

Is there a message from North Carolina? Yes, without a doubt. More Republicans will think this is a hostile climate. It's not worth it anyway. The president wins tonight. Other Republicans are going to think long and hard about this.

LEMON: All right. John, thank you very much.

You know, tonight's vote comes on another day of chaos in the Trump White House.

Let's discuss now. Joe Trippi is here. He is a Democratic consultant, CNN global affairs analyst. Susan Glasser is here as well. And Rick Wilson, the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies."

[23:05:03]

Hello. It's good to have you all here.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Especially on this evening. Rick, let's start with you. Talking about North Carolina Ninth District here. It's supposed to be a ruby red district. It has been held by Republicans as we've been saying since 1963. So, what gives tonight?

WILSON: Don, what gives is what always gives in these races. Money matters. There were $10.7 million spent in this race. About 6.4 of that where the Republican is spending a, the amount of money you spend in the U.S. Senate race on one House district in one state in a relatively affordable media market.

They bought this race out of desperation. But you can't scale that. You can't go out and replicate that across district after district in this country. You know, they spent -- they out spent the Democratic side of the equation all over two to one in this thing.

So, that six-plus million dollars made a big difference. And it's interesting how much they were willing to invest in something that should have been a lay-up seat. There shouldn't have been anything to worry about in this seat at all. Trump won it by eight. It's a congressional voting index. By PVI as they call it, it's plus.

Trump won it by 12. Its PVI is plus eight. This should have been something they could have stayed home and eaten bonbons and watched sports on TV and won this race, but they didn't. And the reason is that the suburbs particularly outside of Charlotte are starting to weaken for Republican elected officials.

LEMON: I hear you. but bonbons and sports. Maybe wings and sports? I don't know. but, you know, it's 2020.

WILSON: I don't know, Don.

LEMON: It's 2019.

WILSON: I like to mix it up, man.

LEMON: Joe, as a Democrat are you optimistic about what this means for 2020?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, you've seen the same trends that we saw in 2018, the suburbs -- the Republicans haven't solved that problem. I don't think they're going to on Trump's watch. And particularly suburban women, Republican women.

And now it's not just women with college education. But now non- college white women in the are leaving the party and we're seeing that drift off too. So, you can't have both an energized Democratic base and women, in particular, younger Republicans too, leaving the party when they see someone across the aisle that appeals to them on common ground and common-sense solution.

That's what McCready ran on. I think this is something I think that Democrats do need to think about as we go through the nominating process for president. Who -- is there someone who can do both things?

Both fire up the base and appeal to these people who want to find common ground and don't like the division and the divisiveness of the president. That's where I think we need to go as a party, and you know, that's what our process will be about seeing which we'll have to do that.

LEMON: Well, Susan -- hi, Susan Glasser. Your thoughts -- I want to get your thoughts on tonight. The president he went and campaigned. He's taking a lot of credit for it. Can he replicate that or will he be too focused on his own race in 2020, do you think?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the answer to the question is clearly, you know, imbedded in the question itself. Of course, the president is going to be more focused on his race. But he's a big believer in nationalizing everything. And he's tried to do that whether it's this House race, or last year's Senate races. Or really any issue at all.

President Trump has a gift for making it about himself and in that sense nationalizing it. But, look, I have to say these are all wise words, but let's be real. This is one House race.

And in general, it's always a risky thing to characterize the national political trends based on what happened in one House race in a special election. Not in a presidential year or any other year.

This is a very much outlier scenario. And so, you know, the answer is it conforms with where trends are going in terms of President Trump's polling and it suggests that the party has serious issues looking ahead to 2020. But I just -- I would be wary of drawing too much from one special election in a House seat.

LEMON: Rick, national security adviser John Bolton out. You know, it was big news today. I'm wondering if this is the latest example of what you call ETTD, everything Trump touches dies.

WILSON: I think it absolutely is. And I think, Don, that the main thing I think Americans should really keep in mind, is that John Bolton was fired for being insufficiently pro-Taliban by Donald Trump.

This is a man who is a hawk by any standard and he is fired by Trump because he wasn't favorable enough to bringing the Taliban here on the week of 9/11 so, Trump could pat them on the head and give them an award or whatever he wanted to do.

[23:09:56]

It's astounding how much damage this man can do to our national security. And firing John Bolton is, you know, it's a perfect encapsulation of the ETTD theory. And you're seeing it playing out on the other side of the network where they're calling John Bolton a leftist and all these other things.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You just took the words out of my mouth. I wasn't sure where I heard it. But it was like, some Trump apologists somewhere I read was calling John Bolton a leftist. Really?

(CROSSTALK)

GLASSER: Tucker Carlson.

WILSON: Yes. The frozen fish air of the other network called John Bolton a leftist.

LEMON: Wow. Susan, the Secretaries Pompeo and Mnuchin were, they were all smiles at this briefing to reporters on questions about Bolton. Bolton was supposed to be there. Let's take a look and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolton was on the guidance to be here. So, were you two blindsided by what occurred today? That he's no longer with the administration? Was that news to you today? Because last night you were told he would be here today.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, I'm never surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let me ask you -- (CROSSTALK)

POMPEO; And I don't mean that on just this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Susan, you reach and wrote a profile on Pompeo. How big of a role did he play in having Bolton pushed out?

GLASSER: I think the big grins on their faces, Don, told you a lot about how Secretaries Pompeo and --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The answer is in the video, right?

GLASSER: -- Mnuchin. Exactly. This is one where the picture is worth a thousand words. Secretary Pompeo according to what I was told, you know, was not even on speaking terms with John Bolton and in recent months had been largely communicating through intermediaries with him.

And so, you know, it was true that John Bolton and Donald Trump disagreed on many substantive policy issues. But Donald Trump knew that even before he hired Bolton.

Now you could say, well, the hubris of a president to bring in a national security adviser who doesn't fundamentally agree with his world view a clash was inevitable.

It was also, I think, made inevitable by John Bolton's style and temperament, as well as policy views. He is a sort of renowned bureaucratic in-fighter. I ask his colleagues about from the George W. Bush administration how they liked working with him. And I think that Mike Pompeo over time grew less and less able or willing to work with Bolton.

And of course, that was also, I think because of the political dynamic that Trump has with those around him. Which is to say, if they don't flatter him, if they're not obsequious, look at the length to which Vice President Pence and also, Pompeo have gone to abase themselves.

And to make it clear that there's no daylight between them and the president, even though both of them did not support the president initially in 2016. And have policy views well documented that fundamentally disagree with the president. They chose not to go the Bolton course.

Bolton said essentially, I am what I am, here's my view. You watch me on Fox. I disagree. But, hey, I work for the president now so he's the boss. Pompeo essentially has chosen a totally different course to rewrite his own history and to say as if he never disagreed with Trump on anything.

And so, the risk factor of course in aligning with John Bolton would be too serious for someone like Pompeo. So, I feel like it was a predictable day, and yet, somehow Trump

always manages to surprise us even if nobody is actually surprised that John Bolton was fired the moment in the time and place when it happened and the way in which it unfolded by inviting the Taliban to Camp David the week of 9/11. I mean, Donald Trump did that? It's kind of amazing. Right? And we, sometimes I think we lose our sense of wonder at this situation.

LEMON: Yes. Final word. Joe Trippi, I'll give it to you.

TRIPPI: It's kind of unbelievable, but it's believable. I mean, it's just astonishing what this last few days have been.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's a quote. It's kind of unbelievable but it's believable.

TRIPPI: Yes. Well, we'll see what happens. I mean, you know, the only way is, you know, will he tweet that Pompeo is running for the Senate next or will -- but I don't think that's in the cards anymore. I think Pompeo is stuck for the rest of the term.

LEMON: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

GOP got win in North Carolina's Ninth District tonight. But my next guest says 2020 will be the death of the Republican Party as we know it. I'm going to ask him why.

[23:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news. The Republican Dan Bishop narrowly beating Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District. The district that's been solidly Republican since 1963.

So, we -- the question we've been asking is what does this say about 2020? What does this hold for 2020 or what does 2020 hold, looking at this? My next guest says that election will be the doom of the Republican Party.

So, joining me now is Stanley Greenberg. He is the author of "RIP GOP" which is rest in peace GOP, "How the New America is Dooming the Republicans." Good to have you on. My goodness.

STANLEY GREENBERG, AUTHOR, RIP GOP: Thank you, thank you, Don, for doing this. I know you wanted to do this book and believe in it.

LEMON: Yes.

GREENBERG: Everything that happened tonight is embedded in this book and the trend --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But you're making -- you're making a bold prediction. You said that 2020 election will result in the death of the GOP as we know it.

GREENBERG: Yes.

LEMON: How can you say that? Why do you say that, Stanley?

GREENBERG: Well, for the same -- look, for the same reason that you woke up the day after the Women's March and decided to do this show. You know that every night produces such a critique of the Trump presidency. But also, a view of what the real America is.

LEMON: Yes.

GREENBERG: I got up every day writing this book and decided that I owed it to them, the book is dedicated to the resistance and the Women's March. Because I -- because I knew from understanding what was going on in the country the history of the Republican Party that this party was doomed.

[23:19:57]

The Trump presidency was actually the most extreme counter revolution battle against the new America. And that it was -- its ugly fight to the death battle against the new America was going to drive those voters away.

LEMON: Yes.

GREENBERG: And, indeed, the fight on immigration would be its undoing.

LEMON: I got it.

GREENBERG: And I want to tell you that's also true as we look at what happened in the election today.

LEMON: Yes. I woke up the next day to do the show because this is my job. This is what I do as a journalist. And not, it's not part of the resistance --

(CROSSTALK)

GREENBERG: I know that.

LEMON: -- but as I do my show every day.

GREENBERG: I know.

LEMON: Listen, in North Carolina, in this special election tonight --

(CROSSTALK)

GREENBERG: I'm a (Inaudible) And I have tried to reflect what people -- what people believe. I do not buy --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I understand the sentiment around the country.

GREENBERG: Yes.

LEMON: I understand the sentiment around the country.

GREENBERG: Yes.

LEMON: Listen, I witness it and I report on it. But listen, tonight in the special election the Republican Dan Bishop he beat Democrat Dan McCready --

GREENBERG: Correct.

LEMON: -- in a very tight race. So, does that square with your prediction?

GREENBERG: Yes.

LEMON: How does that square with what you predicted?

GREENBERG: Well, let me talk about 2018. Two thousand eighteen produced there was a 10-point swing nationally in the congressional vote for Democrats in Congress in 2018 compared to Trump in 2016.

Tonight's election was a 10-point swing. This was identical. He had a 12-point victory to a two-point victory. This was simply a replication of what already happened in '18.

LEMON: Got it.

GREENBERG: And what happened -- so this was totally aligned with the swing that happened in '18. But also, I think what -- I think it's underestimated what happened in '18. Because people focus on the suburbs. And that for sure they produce big margins for the Democrats. And they produced the most seats. I mean that's where you were just at the edge of Democrats winning seats.

But there was a swing in rural areas in 2018. Fourteen-point swing compared to Trump's election. Working class women and men swung about 13 points more Democratic in the '18. So, all of that is reflected in that.

And, to me, what's most important is what happened on immigration. I mean, today was an ugly day. He campaigned on immigration, talking about, you know, immigrants and voting illegally. The day before when he was talking about the Bahamas. He was talking about the immigrants who are invading the country.

So, day on day, it's an attack on immigrants. But look at your own CNN poll. He had an overall approval rating of 38 percent. But his approval rating on immigration was lower than his overall approval. He is driving voters away in immigration. Immigration is hurting him. So, yes, he brought out the base. But that's exactly what is happening to the Republican Party.

LEMON: But let me ask you this, Stanley. GREENBERG: Yes.

LEMON: Because you're talking about this and you're talking about, you know, the Democrat -- the demographics of the country. Political strategists have said for years that the changing demographics will overwhelmingly benefit Democrats.

But so far that hasn't been the case in the Republican-controlled, you know, that Republicans is in control many levers of power now. You got gerrymandering, you got on and on and on.

GREENBERG: Right.

LEMON: Republicans still control the big part of the government. What's different now?

GREENBERG: There's nothing I hated more than the idea that this was inevitable in the trends in the country. Because what happened with the resistance, what happened with the Women's March, was the recognition that people were becoming so engaged.

So, what happened was people became -- as a result of Trump -- became conscious of their values and became more engaged. We got the highest turnout in the history of off-year elections in '18. In our polling, Pew's polling we now have the highest level of interest in elections in the history of presidential polling.

So, people got engaged, thought about their values and look at immigration. When Donald Trump came in about half the country thought immigration benefitted the country. That's up to 65 percent. Two- thirds now think immigrants benefit the country. Only a quarter aligned with the president.

So that what's different is not the trends. What's different is what's happening in people's heads. People are --

LEMON: Got it.

GREENBERG: -- acting on their values and that's what's producing the shift away from the Republicans.

LEMON: Stanley, it's a pleasure having you on. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the show.

GREENBERG: Thank you, Don.

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

[23:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here's our breaking news on CNN. CNN is projecting that Republican Dan Bishop narrowly wins at tonight's special election for North Carolina's ninth congressional district. The numbers are there. Look how close it was. That's pretty close. The numbers are right up there on your screen.

That as there's some troubling news for our president in our brand-new CNN poll.

Here to discuss, Catherine Rampell, Alice Stewart.

Good evening to both of you.

Alice, rocking the schoolteacher look.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: I love it. You need the glasses.

STEWART: It is -- it is the first week of class here at Harvard.

LEMON: Catherine, you know, first, I just want to get your reaction on the results from tonight's special election in North Carolina.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, obviously, Republicans should be relieved. This was closer than I'm sure they wanted. Particularly given that this district has been in Republican hands for however many years, a half century or something. I forgot what the exact number is. So, they relieved.

[23:30:03]

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Nineteen-sixty-three.

RAMPELL: Yes. So, a very long time, in any event. They should be relieved that they didn't lose it. Of course, I'm sure it was a little bit close for comfort. And it's a little bit hard to read too much into this election either way because it's a lower turnout election, of course, than the 2021 will be, or any presidential election is likely to be. But it doesn't necessarily give them a lot of comfort even if for the time being they can breathe a sigh of relief.

LEMON: Alice, I want to get her in first, because I want you to respond. I thought that she might say something like that. So, how did you see the results here? Are there signs of concern for Republicans?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the reality at the end of this Election Day is that we all know what you call a congressional candidate wins by two points --

LEMON: A congressman.

STEWART: And --

LEMON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: A win is a win. STEWART: A win is a win, and really the number and the margin at the end of the day when he sworn in, it's really insignificant. And yes, Catherine is correct, it would have been nice and probably expected that ruby red district like this would have had a higher margin of victory. But he did win and that's the important takeaway.

LEMON: But you got to have some concerns going into 2020, though. You're right. I've been saying that a win is a win. But, when you look at 1963, I mean, look at -- come on, Alice. No, you're not worried? Do Republicans should be worried at all?

STEWART: No. The reality is he got up the necessary numbers. It certainly didn't hurt that President Trump went out there and rallied the troops.

If anything, this should be a wakeup call really for Democrats because, as Joe Trippi indicated earlier, they need to make sure nominate candidates that motivate the base to win the primary but also motivate people to come out in a general election and get out the independents and get out the people that haven't gotten out before. That didn't happen.

They should have learned that in the presidential election in 2016, and hopefully they take that into 2020. But the takeaway here for Republicans is a win is a win. It's certainly helps to have support of the president and this is what happened here, in line with the president's objectives with limited government, fiscal responsibility, conservative policies that resonate throughout North Carolina. That is certainly what was a win here.

And I do believe with the president on the ticket in 2020, that is going to be a big help. A lot of these Republican candidates will certainly ride on his apron strings.

LEMON: OK.

STEWART: That's something that a lot of these candidates have to look for.

LEMON: Let's talk about that. Let us look at the poll numbers when it comes to that, OK? Thirty-nine percent approval rating, this president has, his lowest since January. So, what do you make of that, Catherine? She's saying, hey, you know, the president still is -- he's going to be on the ticket. I don't know. Is that a plus or minus in 2020?

RAMPELL: Well, I think what is striking here is that his overall numbers are as bad as they are given that we have still very low unemployment rate. There are obviously worries about the future of the economy, but the overall headline numbers are still quite good.

You would normally expect an incumbent president given this economy. Whether or not they are responsible for that economy, of course, as you and I have discussed many times before, whether or not they are responsible for those numbers, will get credit for them, and the overall approval ratings would be higher. So that suggests that if in fact the economy turns and the economy is the only thing barely keeping him afloat, he could very seriously be in trouble. And I think that's what the White House is worried about at this point. The economy is the only metric on which he is above 40 percent in the poll.

On a host of issues that voters were asked about, immigration, foreign affairs, the environment, gun policy, everything else was 40 percent. That's the only one that was -- still wasn't even half --

LEMON: Right.

RAMPELL: -- but it was the only one above 40 percent.

LEMON: Only one above 40 percent.

RAMPELL: Right.

LEMON: You're right. Alice, let's talk about this economy, because the president, he keeps talking up the economy as one of the big reasons why he should be re-elected. But ABC and The Washington Post have this new poll out today that is showing six in 10 Americans, Alice, six in 10 think a recession is likely in the next year. Should he be worried about his chances in 2020 because this could affect it?

STEWART: Look, if the economy does take a turn to the south, yes, that will be cause for concern. I think it's really important. I'm not one to really pick apart polls, but this one does call for concern. If you look at the way the question was asked, it said typically after years of strong economy, it does lead to recession. Do you think one is in order?

That's a false premise because the last time we had a recession was eight years ago. We've had six years of strong economic growth. Currently, we have strong economic numbers.

[23:34:59]

STEWART: We have unemployment at 3.7, wage growth at 3.2. We have strong numbers across the board. And it's not hardworking Americans that turn us into recession. It is economic policies of the government. It is in large part due to what the president has put into place, the tax reform and regulation reform.

Those policies have helped to date help us to avoid something to the tune of a recession. Just because liberals and critics say we are going to a recession doesn't make it so.

LEMON: OK.

RAMPELL: No, no. Look, this is not --

LEMON: Before we run out of time, Catherine.

RAMPELL: This is not --

LEMON: Catherine, go on. Quickly, please.

RAMPELL: This is not the only metric that suggests the consumers are losing faith in the economy. There actually have been several metrics along those lines. The overall economic numbers are not appreciably different than they were under Obama. And if anything, they are -- has been slowing down or turning south. Manufacturing is in a technical recession because of the policies arguably --

LEMON: We got to run.

RAMPELL: -- of this president, including the trade war.

LEMON: OK. Thank you both. We are out of time. Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

LEMON: President Trump is trying to convince leaders of historically black colleges and universities today no other administration has done more for them than he has. Trump also told leaders gathered for the annual conference that his administration was protecting and promoting and supporting HBCUs like never before.

Let's discuss now with former Congresswoman Mia Love, also David Swerdlick and April Ryan. April is the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House."

Good evening, one and all.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.

LEMON: Mia, you first. I want to get your thoughts on what happened in North Carolina's ninth district before we do that. Do you think, as others have said, that we'll see more Republican retirements coming?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you think about what's happened since the president took office, there have been 13 percent of GOP loss, and that is from people who have either got defeated or completely retired. That's a significant loss.

In this race in particular, what's concerning is that 6.4 million was spent on -- about half of that was spent by Democrats. This should have been a slam dunk. What that tells me is that you have got -- there's an issue here, right? This is something that has been historically won by double digits. So, when you look at areas where the races are going to be closer, that could be concerning.

The other thing that's really concerning also is that this should be a note for Democrats that this was a moderate candidate. So, if you're pushing as far as you can to the left, that also might be a problem. I think that Americans are looking generally for somebody who is going to be a little bit more towards the middle.

LEMON: OK. LOVE: I think depending on which district you look at, this is going to be a problem for GOP but it also is a message for the Democrat presidential candidate.

LEMON: Having been in Congress before, I wanted to get your perspective on that, so let's move on and talk about the subject that we decided earlier. I want to talk about HBCUs, this event that Trump again touted low poverty, unemployment rates for African Americans. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last month, the unemployment rate for African Americans hit yet another all-time historic low. In the history of our country, it's the lowest number we have ever had.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And this is very exciting, especially for the folks in the room and those young folks over there that are so great and so smart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, the latest numbers. They're positive particularly for women of color. Does he deserve credit?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Don, I mean, here's the thing.

LEMON: That's for Mia. That's for Mia.

SWERDLICK: Oh, I'm sorry.

LEMON: Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

LOVE: Does he deserve credit? Well, it's really interesting. He takes a lot of credit for a lot of what has been done in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Think about criminal justice reform. Think about Mark Walker, for instance, a member of the GOP, who brought over 80 HBCU chancellors to the White House to plead this case for HBCUs. His wife graduated twice from HBCU.

These are people who have been working on these issues for a long time. For one person to take credit for what a lot of people have been working on for a long time is, I think, a little bit presumptuous. But --

LEMON: OK.

LOVE: -- he did help and sign, you know, some of those things into law. So, credit is -- you give credit where credit is due but a lot of people have been working on these issues for a very long time.

LEMON: So the president, David, your turn now, complains that he is not getting credit for black unemployment. There's a reason for that because most -- that trend began under the first black president of the United States who is Barack Obama.

SWERDLICK: Yeah. Look, you should have the president of the United States, including President Trump touting that the African American unemployment rate is down. A 5.5 percent is a good thing. And he should say that just as he did in that clip you played.

The problem is when he takes it another step and tries to parlay that into saying that he has done more for black people than his predecessor. Unemployment when President Obama started was at 12.7. It went down when he left office to 7.7.

[23:44:58]

SWERDLICK: That's a huge drop. It has gone down from 7.7 to 5.5, again which is good, it's just a much smaller drop.

When President Trump comes out in speeches and says no one has ever done anything more for you than me, or when he said on the campaign trail, what do you have to lose, it was all designed to diminish the record of President Obama, when in fact, if you look at the metrics that President Trump uses the most, unemployment and the stock market, President Obama had a superior record, granted he had a longer stretch of time.

Trump may do something similar over eight years if he gets a second term but there is no comparison.

LEMON: Yeah, but he also had a -- he was coming out of a recession. Trump is not coming out of recession.

SWERDLICK: Right, which there was more room to grow out of recession, Don, but there were also tougher circumstances coming out of recession.

LEMON: Right, there were headwinds, stronger headwinds. April, here is the president on why he thinks that he won a debate with any democratic contender. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When I'm on that debate stage with whoever I'm on, these are pretty good numbers to, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Who is going to beat these numbers? Please tell me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, is he putting too much stock in those numbers?

RYAN: He's putting way too much stock in the numbers. First of all, Don, you know, he had the great fortune of coming into the economy through the Obama economy.

SWERDLICK: Right.

RYAN: This is now his economy. But, you know, and I keep saying this, if the president were to actively do something as it relates to black unemployment numbers, the numbers would be lower. They would be on par with white America.

The black unemployment numbers have historically since Africans were brought to this nation, that our numbers have always been disproportionate from other communities particularly white America. So, he does not get a feather in his cap from me on that one.

As it relates to other issues, you know, the black community is very diverse. You know, when he talks about the Bahamas, like he's talking about the gangs at MS-13, you know, with the immigrants, you have to put this president's issues and black agenda issues in totality.

This president does not have a good record when it comes to HBCUs, when it comes to black America, when it comes to issues of Charlottesville, when it comes to S-hole nations, when it comes to the exonerated five. He doesn't have a good --

LEMON: OK.

RYAN: -- track record. With HBCUs, he said giving them money when he first came into office was unconstitutional, and he didn't give them any money today.

LEMON: OK.

RYAN: I mean --

LEMON: Hold that thought.

RYAN: Yeah.

LEMON: Hold that thought. I have to get a break in. We'll be right back with the same group. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

LEMON: I told you we'd come back. Here's Mia Love, David Swerdlick, and April Ryan. So, David, a new CNN poll released today shows the president's job approval rating among African Americans is at nine percent, just three percent with black women. Do you see anything moving the needle for him?

SWERDLICK: I don't. Nine percent approval, 85 percent disapproval in the CNN poll, tracks very closely with how the president did in the exit polls in the 2016 election. I think you have a situation that we've had for years now where nine out of 10 black voters vote Democrat. There are reasons for that. It's not an accident. I mean, African Americans line up more closely with the issues that Democrats support. And then when you add on top of that a Republican president like President Trump, who is a world-class race baiter, who denigrates African American congresswomen, who says S-hole countries on and on, as April was saying before the break, then I think that just makes it that much more difficult for African Americans to consider moving in significant numbers toward the president.

LEMON: You mentioned a piece. You didn't say poll. You said The Washington Post piece, right?

SWERDLICK: No. I was talking about the CNN -- was that --

LEMON: CNN poll, no. No, because I'm talking about "The Washington Post" because was a piece out tonight. I thought it was very good. It is by Jonathan Capehart.

SWERDLICK: OK.

LEMON: It's titled "What do black women voters want?" Mia, this is for you. The gist of it is this, while black women have been a critical voting group essential for democratic wins nationwide, fewer of them see the Democratic Party as the best representation or best representing their interests. If you're a candidate seeing that trend, how do you bridge this gap?

LOVE: Well, I think that you have to condemn the things that are coming out of the president's tweets. I mean you want somebody who is going to love America, all of America, you know, white, black, blue, you name it. So, I think that that's one of the things that actually going to hurt the president.

One of the things that he did that was good was lifting the ban on faith-based HBCUs. Is that going to do it? Is that going to all of a sudden make us think that the president loves everybody? No. He's got to do a little bit more. So, I think that this is -- we vote with our hearts first, and then you go and you vote with your mind.

LEMON: OK. April, I got 20 seconds. I really have 20 seconds, April.

RYAN: I love Jonathan Capehart. Thank you for doing this piece. Black women are increasing in number as head of household and the breadwinner. Black women want someone who feels their pain and understands what they're going through.

And I will say this. As a black woman and talking unscientifically to a lot of black women, a lot of black women are not feeling President Donald Trump.

LEMON: Hmm.

[23:55:00]

LEMON: Fascinating conversation. I wish we had more time, but unfortunately, we're out of it. Thank you all. I'll see you next time. Have a good evening.

RYAN: Bye, Don.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)