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GOP Kentucky Governor Facing Tough Re-election; Beshear: Bevin's Trying to Hide Behind Anyone He Can; Congress Racing to Reach A Deal to Avoid Gov't Shutdown; Impeachment Investigators Want to Depose Mulvaney; New 2020 Polls Show Strengths, Weaknesses for Trump; CNN Poll of Polls: Biden Leads Democrats Nationally. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 5, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: -- his father was a governor before and he's running for that job there in the state of Kentucky. We'll come back to that in a minute.

The other big governor's race is down in Mississippi, another red state, right. It's an open race here. You have the lieutenant governor Republican Tate Reeves against the Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, some third-party candidates in play there as well. Now, both of these states if you go back in time, you think Mississippi, you think Kentucky. You look back at the 2016 presidential election, these are ruby-red states. So why do we watch tonight?

Well, particularly, you look at Kentucky, the earlier results here in 2016 started to tell us Donald Trump was in for a good night. Because of the margin not just that he won in Kentucky, that was expected but because of the margin, a big Trump state in 2016. So the president was there for a rally last night, Republican will look, does Matt Bevin win big, does he lose tonight? That would be a warning sign to republicans. Even if it's close, what do we see around the suburbs particularly around these few blue areas in the state of Kentucky?

The president cares enough to make a pre-election rally to Kentucky and the Republican candidate Matt Bevin knowing he's in a close race, hugs the president.


GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): Let's send a message to Washington, to the other states, to the United States of America that Kentucky is leading the way and that we support the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you win, they're going to make your life ho-hum. And if you lose, they're going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can't let that happen to me!

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It's entertaining. He is right to the degree that if the Republican wins in a red state, most people will shrug and say we didn't learn a lot. If the Republican struggles or if the Republican loses, it will be evidence of a climate even if it's in the race for governor. This is about the state of the economy, this is about healthcare issues in the state, this is about other issues in the state, a lot of social issues in the campaign. It still will be taken as a question of Republican turnout intensity, Trump love.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. These races in Mississippi and Kentucky, we'll have a runoff in Louisiana in a couple of weeks, are all being viewed as a sort of gauge on the president's enthusiasm and support going into next year. And he's not wrong. What he said last night reflects the thinking of a lot of his advisers where they see no downside in going in, in these final moments, trying to choose turnout, trying to get folks out because they do think that, you know, if they won, if they get some wins, that's a political narrative, they can point to, they can redirect people away from impeachment. They see that as a benefit. If he loses, they think they get blamed either way.

KING: And to that point, the Trump campaign is being smart about these rallies. As the president travels the country, there are people lined up outside. They're getting phone numbers, they're getting e- mail addresses, and they're staying in touch with these people. Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, remember, no serious primary challenge just yet. A ton of money to spend. So they can even make mistakes.

They can just gather data, gather information, test things out, and trial and error. He says just last night, 27,285 voters identified, 23 percent of them said they were Democrats. Twenty-eight percent said they had voted once or less in the last four elections. Nearly 100 percent from Kentucky.

So if you're the Trump organization, now you have these names, you have these phone numbers, you can send them messages, you can text them ads. Immigration one day, economy the next day, ISIS next week. You see which ones they react to and they learn from -- they learn from this in a way that will help them in 2020 regardless of what happens tonight.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's true, and that's a great opportunity for them. The only thing is that the president tends to still playthings one way, and that's towards his base. And if they're trying to broaden that -- (INAUDIBLE) that message to appeal to people, a quarter of the attendees where Democrats, they're probably going to have to try to shift course or diversify a course a little bit, and the question is will the candidate come along with them in that.

KING: One of the great things about Kentucky is just how complicated Republican politics are. Mitch McConnell does not get along terribly well with Rand Paul. Mitch McConnell doesn't get along terribly well with Governor Bevin who ran against him in a primary back in 2014. Just the headline for back then, Matt Bevin spent $5.3 million losing to Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell was at the rally last night but there's a fascinating internal Republican family story at play in Kentucky with the president coming in. Matt Bevin knows this is a close race. He has tried to nationalize it to a degree to make it about impeachment, in addition to state issues, to try to get Trump voters to come out for him. The Democratic candidate said, no, no, this is about Kentucky.


ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: People are demanding a governor that listens more than he talks. We got a governor that has spent the last four years bullying our teachers, tried to tear 95,000 people off their health care, trying to illegally cut retirements of every teacher, police officer, and firefighter. With that disastrous record, yes, he's trying to hide behind anybody he can.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's encapsulation of actually what's probably going to happen in states all over the country where you're going to have a lot of Democrats who are going to try to make it a little bit more local and make it a little bit less about this impeachment inquiry actually frankly. And the Republicans are more than happy to ride on the anger that impeachment serves up in Trump's base. That's the real dynamic that's happening out there.

As much as Democrats in Washington believe that their most fervent supporters want them to pursue this, and when you look at candidates who are running lower down on the ballot, they kind of want to steer away from it because it's a little bit of a wild card for the Democrats.

[12:35:10] But for the Republicans, Trump knows this which is why he talked about it extensively at that Kentucky rally. It's all about getting people to feel like his back is up against the wall. It gets them out the door and to the polls.

KING: All right, as we go to break, I want to remind you of a sad day 25 years ago today. Ronald Reagan in a handwritten letter revealed he was suffering from Alzheimer's, saying, quote, I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life's journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. President Reagan lived 10 more years passing away in 2004 at the age of 93.


[12:40:43] KING: Topping our political radar today, construction of a truly new section of President Trump's border wall is underway in Texas, marking the first time any barrier has been built where none previously stood. Until now, construction has been limited to rebuilding 650 miles of existing barriers. Border Patrol officials say work on these three new miles started last week in the Rio Grande Valley where 40 percent of border apprehensions take place. The possibility of a government shutdown looming once again. Bipartisan negotiators working behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to try to avoid that fate. Their best bet, agreeing on the top-line numbers for a short term stop-gap spending bill. CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us live from Capitol Hill. Phil, they have a deadline coming up pretty quickly and you have the impeachment train. Will they collide?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I think the key thing that I hear from negotiators behind the scenes right now is to keep them separated, keep them as separated as humanly possible. Look, the reality is, obviously, it's a very short timeline to the end of the current funding resolution. The reality is also that nobody here on Capitol Hill Republicans or Democrats wants a shutdown. And I was just talking to a White House official a short while ago, that individual said there's no talk of shutdowns inside the White House, either.

The key right now is securing top-line numbers for each of the subcommittees to be able to get their jobs done. I think I get fired if I said (INAUDIBLE) on television but that's what they're talking about right now. If they lock in the agreement on those allocations, there are some beliefs that they may be able to move all of the bills before the end of the year. Get everything done, not have to pump things into next year. If they cannot, then you're looking at a continuing resolution that has to reach beyond the Senate trial.

Here's the most important two people to watch right now at least on Capitol Hill, Mitch McConnell on the Senate, Nancy Pelosi in the House. The two had a phone call last week where they committed to try to get everything done by the end of the year. Obviously, the wild card remains the president. Who knows what he's going to wake up and think or tweet or when it comes to wall money which is obviously still a point of dissension, whether or not that's going to shut things down. But right now, talks are ongoing, if they can secure those top- line numbers, people feel pretty good about where things could end up. But, again, they have to actually sign the agreement or reach the agreement and the president have to sign off too, John.

KING: And so Phil, I'm going to break the rule and I'm not going to keep them apart. I'm going to ask you an impeachment-related question. There's a new deposition request for the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. What can you tell us?

MATTINGLY: Yes, this is just coming in right now. Obviously, we're still waiting for the two transcripts of the depositions to come out that they're going to release today but this is new. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff has been requested by the three chairs from the House Democrats who are running the investigation to come in for a closed-door deposition. In a letter to Mulvaney, the chairmen write, "Based on the evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that possessed substantial firsthand knowledge and information relative to the House's impeachment inquiry."

That is probably understated to some degree. Everybody appears, both Republican and Democratic knowledge that Mick Mulvaney was at the center of a lot of this. When it comes to the actual hold of that nearly $4 million in money to Ukraine, Mulvaney directed the OMB according to people that were involved in this to put that hold on after he was told by the president to do just that. He was in many of the meetings. There is an expectation that if anybody knows the actual ins and outs of how the money was withheld, why it was withheld, and the explicit instruction from the president, it would be Mick Mulvaney.

That said, there is no expectation here on Capitol Hill that Mick Mulvaney will come to Capitol Hill for a closed-door deposition. He is very much in line with the White House's position that they believe this is an illegitimate inquiry. What will be interesting to see is whether or not Democrats are checking a box here saying, look, we know he's a key player, we know we need to ask him. There's no expectation he will come up or whether or not this plays out in the courts in the days ahead.

But, every time they get somebody this close to the president, they also get closer to putting end to the closed-door sections of this and moving into the public hearings. Mick Mulvaney was absolutely somebody everybody wants to talk to. No necessary expectation that he will come in and talk, but underscoring that they are moving forward on this and they are moving forward quickly in the next couple of weeks, John.

KING: Phil Mattingly live on the Hill, appreciate the dual-track reporting there today. Keep in touch as we go forward.

Let's bring in the conversation to the room. Mick Mulvaney is key because number one, he was part of -- two of his deputies are among those who refused to testify this week who were supposed to go up there about did the president tell you to put the military aid on hold. Did the president tell you why he wanted -- what he wanted in exchange for releasing the military aid? And if you watched his televised briefing just a couple of weeks ago, he probably said, yes, there was a quid pro quo, so what, get over it and then tried to take it back.

DEMIRJIAN: But that's exactly why Democrats feel like they have that public admission of the quid pro quo already. And so this seems -- I could be wrong, I mean, the deposition is scheduled for a Saturday which makes it that much more unlikely that Mick Mulvaney doesn't -- I mean, comes in. But, he could show up but odds are he's not going to. This is to set up the obstruction of Congress charge.

[12:45:11] And, in fact, unless Mulvaney is on his way out of the administration or something, he has no incentive to start playing ball with the Democrats more than he did in that public statement which he then tried to walk back twice in a written statement on the Sunday shows later. So Democrats are probably not going to get anything that they consider to be more truth from Mulvaney in this deposition, again, unless he has had some sort of a change of heart or change of status as far as the president goes.

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And Democrats have very little incentives to draw this process out, right. Not only do they have this issue of funding the government, there's also the Democratic primary contests which start in February, and this will have to move to the Senate after it gets to the House. So, there's a real imperative not only in terms of other events coming down the line but also the politics to keep this moving and keep it moving quickly, so it's hard for me to see a big battle playing out in the courts over this.

KING: Isn't he technically still the OMB director as well? I know his deputies (INAUDIBLE).

LUCEY: Yes, he's acting chief of staff but he still --

KING: Phil Mattingly's point about keeping those trains on different tracks. Good luck.

Up next, some new polls give encouragement to two 2020 candidates, Joe Biden and President Trump.


[12:50:56] KING: There's more a new 2020 polling today including some numbers that tell us voters are open to changing presidents. Let's take a look. Don't get too far ahead of yourself, it's a year until Election Day. But, in an ABC/Washington Post poll out today, Joe Biden beats President Trump by 17 points nationally. Elizabeth Warren beats the president by 15. Bernie Sanders would win by 14. Mayor Buttigieg by 11, Kamala Harris by nine. All of these Democrats convincingly beating in this new national poll President Trump in a general election. That's a national poll.

So, it's a year out, it tells you voters are at least open to the idea of having a new president, right? Those are pretty good numbers. But remember, we pick president state-by-state, not in a national election. If you look at some New York Times/Sienna College polls from battleground states out this week, some much more competitive environment. Joe Biden leading in Pennsylvania for example. So is Bernie Sanders over President Trump. Michigan tied if it's Biden, Bernie Sanders with a slight edge. The president, though, winning, meaning the Democrats are down by this margin in North Carolina, all of them.

In Arizona, Biden on top, Sanders down, Warren on top. It gets more complicated when you go state-by-state. In the state of Iowa, for example, a big state for the president last time around, he gets 45 percent and beats both Biden and Buttigieg, the Biden is very close, just little in the margin of error. The president gets up to 47 percent and wins over Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. So if you go state by state, the climate not as bad for the president if you look at the national polls still challenging. Of course, the Democrats have to pick a nominee first, that comes first.

A lot of polls out on the Democratic race in recent days, so this is the CNN poll of polls that averages them all out. Biden on top nationally, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris. Then you come over here, Klobuchar, Yang, Booker, Gabbard. If you look at this here, Biden on top, Warren and Sanders, Buttigieg seems to be in the second or maybe that's the third-tier depending how you count it but he seems to be rising in Iowa. Everybody out there says they feel the momentum, the polls have shown that, a new ad from Mayor Buttigieg today trying to build on that.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With crises that still require urgent action, I am running to be the president who will pick up the pieces of our divided nation and lead us toward real action. We will fight when we must fight. But I will never allow us to get so wrapped up in the fighting that we start to think fighting is the point.


KING: We ended there, started with the national polls, because, as much as I'm going to share national polls when we get them, and as much as the Washington Post/ABC poll does show people are looking, they're open to a new president, that is a year from now. What comes first is Iowa, we have a couple of people just back from Iowa. Is the Buttigieg boomlet real?

LERER: Yes. I mean, I just was in Iowa over the weekend. He has a lot of energy, he has money, he has organization. It's real, the question is what happens if he places well in Iowa, can his campaign certainly gives you a boost of momentum. He does not poll well with non-white voters. That will become a very serious problem. It's hard to see a Democrat winning that party's nomination who cannot win non- white voters.

KING: And you were on the bus, we saw you on Mason City --


KING: -- on the roadside there. Is it -- I mean, what is their goal? I guess, obviously, you want to win Iowa, but if you can't win is it just come in ahead of Biden to make it clear that there's a new moderate in the race to worry about?

PHILLIP: I think they want to win and I think that they think that they have a shot to do it. They also want to establish themselves as the alternative to Elizabeth Warren. That's really what this is all about. They, I think take -- they take at face value that Joe Biden's support seems to be kind of stagnant where it is. And so the question is for people who decide that they want an alternative to Biden, they want those voters to know that Buttigieg is that person. And that if they're uncomfortable with a farther-left candidate like Warren, they can rely on him.

So it's really critical for him to establish that narrative in Iowa and then take it into New Hampshire, and they're also hoping that it will help him gain credibility as a potential winner when he gets to South Carolina. But there's also, as Lisa pointed out, a lot of work to be done there.

KING: It's still a -- it's bizarre dynamic when you look at the fact that Biden does so well in the national polls but everybody is saying he has early state troubles. We're going to see how this one plays out.

Up next, another Trump insider goes on trial today.


[12:59:36] KING: The trial of longtime Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone getting underway today in federal court here in Washington with jury selection. Stone is charged with lying to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and was trying to obstruct that investigation. Stone has pleaded not guilty to the seven counts he is facing. We'll keep a watch on that trial in the days ahead.

Thanks for joining us on the INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.