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Republican Dan Bishop Wins Congressional Special Election in North Carolina; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Interviewed about John Bolton Leaving White House as National Security Adviser and Health Dangers of Vaping; Tornado Hits Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But this election also holds some warning signs for President Trump and Congressional Republicans heading into the 2020 election. Also, a new CNN poll just out shows that six in ten Americans believe that President Trump does not deserve a second term.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, President Trump this morning is searching for a new national security adviser after parting ways with John Bolton. No president has had four national security advisers in his first term, not ever. CNN has new reporting on a bitter argument between Bolton and the president that took place Monday night over the president's decision to invite the Taliban to Camp David. The White House is now considering, we are told, about 10 candidates to replace Bolton.

We're going to begin with the special election overnight in North Carolina. Joining us now, CNN Political Director David Chalian. Dan Bishop, the Republican, won by two points in a district Donald Trump won by 12. You can see the math there. What are the implications?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The sigh of relief that Republicans are breathing this morning is really just short-term sigh of relief, because there are real warning signs in the results. Let's just look, though. What we see in this district last night is sort of the definition of what modern American politics in the Trump era is. There is a big urban-suburban versus rural-ex-urban divide. And as Donald Trump proved in 2016, if you can just turbo charge that rural vote, that ex-urban vote, and if turnout is a little lower, that's how he was able to score that Electoral College victory even though he lost the popular vote.

Here is the issue that I've learned here. Those suburbs, they've drifted even further away from Donald Trump since he got elected in 2016. That's the problem. The area just, if you look at just the suburban part of the district around Charlotte, the Charlotte suburbs, Donald Trump actually, when he won the district by 12 points, he won that suburban area of the district by just a little bit. McCready won it by double digits, the Democrat, yesterday. That's the warning sign that's on the to-do list for the Trump campaign.

CAMEROTA: In the battleground states for 2020, are there more rural voters or suburban voters?

CHALIAN: It's such a good question, Alisyn. I was thinking last night, so here's a red district. Trump won it by 12. It really is a red district. So then I was thinking, what about Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, if I try extrapolate it statewide? Those are actually bluish states. Donald Trump won them in 2016, but they're bluish states. So there is the opportunity there with urban and suburban voters for the Democrat, if the right Democrat is nominated for the party, to get all those voters out. That may be a warning sign for Donald Trump that his path to 270 is not going to be as easy through those bluish states. He really excels in red areas. That's what I think this district will show.

BERMAN: There are more than 30 House seats that are in Republican hands that are less Republican.

CHALIAN: Correct.

BERMAN: So you can see that those may be in danger.

There is a new poll out today from ABC News and "The Washington Post," and I think it's not disconnected from this completely. And it's the head-to-head matchups between the Democratic candidates and President Trump. We can put that up on the screen here, and you can see that Joe Biden is leading President Trump by 15 points, which is way more than any other of the Democratic candidates. And the reason I bring this up is because the Biden campaign is clearly trying to position itself as the campaign that can reach the Trump Democrats. When you take this poll, combine it with what we're seeing in North Carolina, what's the message that you take away?

CHALIAN: Yes, I think one of the things that Democrats will look at in North Carolina is, how did a Democrat come so close in a very Republican area where they did have to appeal to, no doubt, some people that voted for Donald Trump? You did that by running a moderate who focused on bread and butter issues like health care and education, and he had military service that he put forward in his biography. That is sort of the Joe Biden model, right? Not run too far to the left, really try to make sure you're appealing to white, noncollege educated, working class voters, as you said John, Trump Democrats.

Some Democrats will look at that and say, see, that's the model of a Democrat we need as the nominee in order to compete with Trump. Listen, a year from now, I don't think any of us think that the election is going to be a 15-point spread. Our modern day presidential elections are not that big. But this goes directly to what Joe Biden is selling, that he is the best equipped, the safest choice to beat Donald Trump. You hear some of his competitors, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, others saying we can't go with a safe choice. That's not the way that you're going to turn out and turbo charge that Democratic turnout in the urban and suburban areas.

CAMEROTA: President Trump's approval rating is down. We have a new CNN poll, and it shows where it's been over the past many months. So it's at its lowest level at the moment, 39 percent approval, 55 percent disapprove. But it fluctuates, obviously. So the highest has been 43.

CHALIAN: This is the lowest point since January. He was at 37 percent. That's when there was the government shutdown. And this is his lowest point this year since then.

[08:05:03]

So you and I have talked about, he operates in a pretty narrow band, but this is on the lower end. And there's no doubt he is down in a place a year and two months out where his climb back is steeper than it has been at other times in his presidency. And I think, guys, if you look inside these numbers, A, the push away that Donald Trump has done with independents that we saw in 2018 that delivered the House majority Democrats, he hasn't wooed a single one of those folks back. That's pretty clear in these numbers. And two, the economy, which was such a huge advantage for him in terms of approval versus disapproval, it's an even split now. It's still his best issue, but it's a pretty even split.

BERMAN: One of the new numbers also in the CNN poll is that 60 percent now say the president does not deserve reelection, which is a tough number 14 months before Election Day.

Tie it all together. Back to North Carolina for a second. The president won North Carolina by 3.6 percent in 2016. If you take the North Carolina number in nine which is the district going by 12 in 2016, does this put North Carolina in play?

CHALIAN: I will be very surprised if North Carolina is not a battleground state where both Trump and the Democratic nominee are spending millions of dollars there and spending money. But it will be the next year. It's not Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. That is where this is going to be really fought out. It's that next tier of battleground states.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you. Great to have you in studio.

CHALIAN: My pleasure, thank you.

CAMEROTA: President Trump is searching for a new national security adviser today after abruptly firing John Bolton, if you considered months abrupt. Sources tell CNN that at least 10 candidates are being floats to replace him. Joining us now is the Democratic Whip Senator Dick Durbin. Good morning, Senator.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you. So you wrote, and I will just read it for everybody, in May you wrote this of the then National Security Adviser John Bolton. You said, "Trump's policies at the direction of Mr. Bolton seem to have only increased regional tensions, incentivized Iran to restart its nuclear program, and fomented a pretext for another Middle Eastern war." So, Senator, this morning, are you relieved that John Bolton is gone?

DURBIN: I don't know whether John Bolton jumped or was pushed. I don't believe he was ever a good choice to be national security adviser, but we hold our breath now to see who might follow. It appears the president watches a certain cable channel, and if someone makes a good impression on that channel, he says that's the man to lead the national security policy of the United States. We'll wait and see.

CAMEROTA: If that's his criterion, and it may very well be, given all the people from K. T. McFarland, Bill Shine, Heather Nauert, Richard Grenell, one of the ambassadors, Scott Brown, I could go through all the people that had been on FOX News as contributors or correspondents that are now or were somehow around the White House. So if that's it, then I would suggest to you that it might be General Jack Keane next. But here's the list of all the people whose names are being floated as possible next national security adviser. There are 10 names. Obviously, they're casting a wide net. Do any of these work for you? Who would you like to see?

DURBIN: I can tell you what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a grown up. I'm looking for someone who understands the consequences of war, someone who realizes the United States has historically played a positive role when it comes to world peace, and someone who is willing to tell this president he's just plain wrong. If we don't find such a person, I'm afraid this president's instincts move us in the wrong direction in a dangerous direction.

CAMEROTA: John Bolton was willing to tell the president he was plain wrong. That didn't work out well.

DURBIN: No, it didn't work out well. I don't think the president really looks for that in a staff member. That's why the exit door at the White House has been so busy since he was elected to the presidency.

CAMEROTA: I guess the larger issue is what do you think changes today in foreign policy with no national security adviser at the moment and John Bolton gone?

DURBIN: I don't know. This president does things impulsively, inviting the Taliban, a terrorist organization, to come to Camp David, for goodness sakes. This notion that he can sit down with Kim Jong-un and North Korea and solve a problem that we faced for decades, and clearly that exploded in his face. Case by case you go through it and you say, you need some grown-up in the room who will tell this president that just doesn't work. It makes the world more dangerous. And the United States should not be following that policy.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk to you about vaping. I know this is a subject that is very important to you, and it's important to so many parents around the country because, of course, this was supposed to be somehow the kinder, gentler version of smoking. Kids got entirely the wrong message. It has turned out to be deadly. We're seeing people dying now from vaping. And I know that you had a press conference on Monday and you urged the FDA to take action. What do you want?

DURBIN: I can tell you this. Vaping targets kids. One out of five of our teenagers in high school today are vaping. And sadly, that number increased by 80 percent over the last year.

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Now in the seventh and eighth grade we're seeing kids trying this vaping. They think it's a healthy alternative to tobacco. The Food and Drug Administration calls it an epidemic. And finally, finally this week they came out and said to Juul, the leading company, stop making these false health claims. This is not a safe alternative to tobacco. We really need the FDA to step up. They have the authority today to end the flavor pods that attracts these kids. They have the authority today to take many of these devices off the market. It's time to step up or this epidemic is going to grow.

CAMEROTA: And by step up, what do you want to see?

DURBIN: Well, I'd like to see a letter from the surgeon general to every principal of every American school asking for an assembly and meeting with parents to tell them just what these kids are facing. They're naive if parents believe it's somebody else's kid, and even if my kid isn't lost in this cloud of smoke, it's not that harmful. Exactly the opposite is true. We lost the sixth victim to vaping last night. Over 450 have been hospitalized. A third of them go directly to the intensive care unit when they go to the hospital, and a third are on respirators. For goodness sakes, this is a deadly epidemic and it's time for America and this government to step up.

CAMEROTA: Senator, why are you so passionate about this issue?

DURBIN: It's the same bunch that brought us big tobacco. My family has been touched by death from tobacco-related lung cancer, and I can just see families across the United States saying, me, too. And we finally called them to task. We finally brought them to a point where they stopped peddling their product to kids. And then reinvented themselves as a vaping operation, a, quote, safe, healthy alternative to tobacco. It's a fraud on the public. Vaping targets kids. And we've got to say once and for all this is an outrage that needs to end.

CAMEROTA: All you kind of need to know, in terms of their debating whether or not they target kids, they had a school outreach program. They had a school outreach program where they went in to talk to kids. What else do you need to know about their target audience?

DURBIN: Look at the flavors being peddled on the market here. Unicorn milk, bubble gum flavors, gummy bear flavors. That is not a flavor pod that's going to be -- going to attract a 50-year-old chain smoker who is trying to quit. It is designed to attract children. And unfortunately it's extremely successful. Vaping targets kids, and it's hard to put an end to it.

CAMEROTA: Senator Dick Durbin, thank you very much for coming in to talk about all of these pressing issues.

DURBIN: You're welcome, thank you.

CAMEROTA: John? BERMAN: Breaking overnight, a tornado carved a path of destruction through Sioux Falls, South Dakota, extensive damage including downed power lines and trees. The windows of a hospital were blown out. Look at that. Eight people at the hospital were injured. The walls of an auto parts store you can see there just simply peeled off. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now. Chad, what happened there?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just getting first light here. We had a line of weather that was moving through Sioux Falls, and some of these storms were rotating. It didn't look like anything more than a wind gust potential, but as the storm got close to Sioux Falls, this is backing you up all the way to 11:00 last night, there were rotating supercells behind the first row. Usually when the first row goes by, it cools off and you don't get the tornado potential. But that's not what happened last night.

The storm continued to develop right over Sioux Falls, and it was likely an EF-2 or EF-3 damage that I'm seeing there now. But it was very brief. This thing may have been on the ground for four minutes. And many areas there did have warnings. The warnings were out. Tornado warnings, the sirens going off. We had 11 tornadoes yesterday, 45 severe reports, and also some large hail. And this could happen again today. And it happened at night, one of the most dangerous times of the day because people are almost asleep or you're not hearing things. You're really not listening for the weather radio or maybe your phone didn't go off.

But here is the problem for tonight. Another round of weather develops in the daytime and continues to go through the nighttime. This is now 6:00 tonight. This is a forecast radar. And look what happens, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 tonight again through the Dakotas, even into the Great Lakes, big weather with the potential for more storms today. Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: Chad, watching it very closely. Thank you very much.

So a narrow win for the Republican in North Carolina's special election with some key help from President Trump. The newest congressman-elect in America, you can see him right there, Dan Bishop joins us live, next.

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[08:18:46] BERMAN: So, overnight, in a high stakes election with major national implications, Republican Dan Bishop narrowly won in North Carolina's 9th Congressional district, keeping the House seat in Republican hands.

Bishop thanked President Trump over the phone during his victory speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BISHOP (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: Mr. President, on behalf of North Carolina, on behalf of the 9th district, I want to thank you because, just as you said, Mr. President, because you and the vice president committed and came down here and recognized someone who is prepared to say that I am ready to go to Washington and stand with you, we've won this race. Thank you, Mr. President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And Congressman-elect Dan Bishop joins me now.

I can see the smile on your face after a hard-fought election, Congressman. Congratulations. Get any sleep last night?

BISHOP: Thank you, John.

No, there's -- little sleep deprived, but I can still smile, so I'm delighted to be with you.

BERMAN: So, we heard you talk about President Trump on stage last night. In fact, we heard the speakerphone conversation you had with the president. He travelled to your district 24 hours before the polls actually opened.

How much of a difference did the president make?

BISHOP: It was a big deal. It was testament to the boldness of this president that he reached out because, you know, a lot of national outlets say this is a Republican district and it's had a Republican history for sure, but this race was going on for a long time before I joined it.

[08:20:10] I've only been in six months and really, just six weeks did we have a level playing field financially with the campaign on the other side that was running with, you know, $10 million, $12 million of outside money seeking to flip the seat blue.

So, we were -- we were far behind. We were making progress, but the president and Vice President Pence coming in, I think it put us over the top.

BERMAN: Just one point of clarification. People call it a Republican district because it is. It's been in Republican hands since the early '60s and President Trump won it by 12 points in 2016. It's a district that is consistently and fairly easily gone toward Republicans. We'll get to that in a moment.

I am curious, though, because you say President Trump's visit and his campaigning was helpful if not decisive in your victory. What's your advice to other Republican candidates around the country heading into 2020? To what degree do you think they should solidly embrace President Trump?

BISHOP: I would say that the Trump vision is a very attractive one, and it makes all the sense in the world to embrace it. How could you not like it? It's a stronger economy, a robust economy with lower taxes and more jobs and border security and continued embrace of American exceptionalism that's always been the root of this country.

And the contrasting vision of Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke and even Debra Messing is a much darker picture.

So I would say the president is the toughest fighter we've ever had and join him in the fight because America's worth fighting for. Today is 9/11, and it reminds us all that freedom is not free. And he's fighting for that freedom. He's fighting for common sense solutions for Americans. And I am all in.

BERMAN: It's interesting. You brought up some Democrats there, but the man you ran against, Dan McCready, most decidedly, isn't Elizabeth Warren or Debra Messing for that matter. He's Dan McCready, a marine veteran there.

So, I actually do want to ask because last night after he conceded, you called him a very strong candidate and said he fought a hard battle.

What do you think made him a strong candidate in your district?

BISHOP: To be sure, he's a fine person. And his service in the Marine Corps is a credit to him and should always be respected.

One thing, though, that you can't deny made him a strong contender was the fact he had -- he professed in sort of a slogan to be moderate, but you didn't ever hear much in the way of specifics that made him a moderate and he was enabled and financed by a massive flood of the farthest left money in America, from outside the district.

So -- and then when it came down to details, he embraced the idea of sanctuary counties in our case where you have local law enforcement deciding for the first time in North Carolina not to cooperate with immigration authorities. I don't think that helped. And I think it made it an opportunity for people to see that this is not common sense, and it doesn't fit North Carolina.

BERMAN: Part of what was interesting to me is you said he ran as a moderate, which he did. He absolutely did. And one of the questions is, what's happened in your district and what does it mean around the country that it went from plus 12 to Donald Trump to a victory by 2 percent for you and frankly when this race was first run in 2018, the margin was smaller? So, there's a ten-point swing there from 2016 to now and a year ago. Why do you see that happening?

BISHOP: Well, I do think any time you can put one candidate up who professes to be a moderate and support him with $10 million to $15 million --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: But he didn't have -- he didn't have that in 2018. Just to be clear. Just to be clear, Congressman-elect. He didn't have that in 2018 in the first race. That race was completely under the radar.

He had money this time around. So did you when push came to shove at the end. There's a lot of money in this race.

BISHOP: At the end. BERMAN: But again, the wing, the clear swing from 2016 to 2018 and

2019, how do you explain that?

BISHOP: Well, I can -- so, 2018, you're right. And we had four times the margin that the Republican candidate who did not then get certified had in 2018.

In 2018, it was a very different time than now. That was before the Squad emerged. That was before the time that Democrats emerged openly embracing -- Democrat presidential candidates emerged openly embracing socialism.

It's a far different political scene than it was then, and it gives the opportunity to refocus on, as President Trump says sometimes to people, what do you have to lose?

[08:25:02] You have an economy that's surging. You have employment -- unemployment numbers that are the best in history for multiple groups. It really is a pretty attractive picture. And I think that contrast is becoming clearer every day.

So this race is a far different one than in 2018, and if there was a narrow margin here, the best explanation for it is, we had a lot to do in six weeks basically.

BERMAN: Absolutely a different election. You won. But so did the Republican in 2018. Albeit by a smaller margin, a little bit smaller like 1,500 votes or -- you won by 4,000. He won by 908, but there was voter fraud there.

And I'm just not sure that you're fully understanding or explaining what you think the difference between 2016 and now is. You think -- let me put it differently. You think whatever wave propelled Democrats to Congress in power in 2018, is that over?

BISHOP: I think there's a more complicated picture in America. I think there's evolution in both parties. The Democratic Party is becoming more a party of the elites. And the Republican Party is becoming a party more of working people throughout the nation.

And I think you're seeing, it will take some time for all that to settle out. But a lot of it revolves around the president's priorities and personality and his standing up and fighting. And I think the principles he's fighting for are important.

BERMAN: Congressman-elect Dan Bishop, as we said, congratulations. Hope you get a chance to sleep over the next few days before you head to Washington and get to work.

BISHOP: Thank you, John. Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, John Bolton's turbulent term as national security adviser is over. How will this affect America's foreign policy? Former Ambassador Samantha Power joins us, next.

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