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Trump Visits COVID Hotspots; Lawmaker Regrets Using Masks; Speaker Pelosi Mandates Masks; U.S. Could See More Deaths; Lindsey Graham's Ad Insults Opponent. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 29, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT," with Don "I Created Television" Lemon, starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You're right, I did. Why was he, I know you wanted to say something, but I'm not going to let you go there - why would he hide it?
I saw that. Why would he try to hide it when every one of his sycophants around him, the apologists, everyone, the Republicans in Congress, the Republicans in the Senate they make excuses for it. They pretend that it's not racist. Racist.
They pretend they don't hear it. It's not even a dog whistle. He is saying it out loud to a crowd, I'm sure, who is very receptive to it. And if they are not receptive to it, then they are complicit and his bigotry and his racism.
CUOMO: I think he's losing whites who wanted somebody who disliked the same things they did and want a change agent because he's not that. He's making a bet which is a bad bet, Don, which is I can get enough white people who are afraid of diversity and angry enough to come out and vote for me. There aren't enough of them. Not in this country.
LEMON: You don't think so?
CUOMO: Not in this country. We have -- look, is there bigotry, is there race system -- racism? Is it systemic? Yes, yes, yes, of course. of course. But I believe there's a new generation of voters out there that we didn't have five or 10 years ago.
CUOMO: And I believe in hope. I believe in the promise of this country. And it is only found in diversity. It will never be found anywhere else.
LEMON: But what you won't hear people say. They won't tell you out loud. They may not agree obviously with what he says, right, and how -- but they love the tax cuts because they're in that -- they are in the upper income bracket. They love the money. And so, they will vote for him because they like the economy policies and they overlook everything else. My question is, how much money do you need in order to -- what's the
word I want to say? Assuage your own --
CUOMO: Swallow your conscience?
LEMON: no, assuage your own --
CUOMO: Forget morality?
LEMON: Yes, yes.
CUOMO: To kill your soul?
CUOMO: I mean, look.
LEMON: Because I hear people who live in --
CUOMO: There aren't enough rich people in this country.
LEMON: I don't know about that because they won't tell you.
CUOMO: Not to overwhelm the number of white families and minority families that are desperate for better.
CUOMO: There are more of them than there are anything else. I say it all the time. If black voters get together with white people who need economic opportunity, you have a political majority.
CUOMO: And then you'll see change in this country.
LEMON: OK. I just don't know if enough of those people are out there. I really --I really do think this is what we become.
CUOMO: There are enough out there.
LEMON: I just don't know if -- I just don't know if because they buy into the rhetoric. I don't know if people are politically savvy enough. Media savvy enough to realize the propaganda that you get. Especially when state run TV and state-run media and conservative circles. I don't know if they under -- I don't know if they understand that. I don't know if they are politically savvy enough to realize that they are voting against their own interest.
CUOMO: Some aren't. Most are because the truth is painfully obvious. Yes, I'm a big buyer of the American people. But this president has made the truth obvious. His wrongs are of grotesque fashion and nature. And it's not the typical soft sell. It's crude, it's vulgar and it's obvious.
CUOMO: And I think you see that in the polls. Now, will the people come out and vote?
LEMON: That's the thing.
CUOMO: That's the key. Will they be so turned off, so disgusted? And will Biden not inspire an imagination of something better? Those are the big questions.
LEMON: Yes. And people definitely need that inspiration. But as far as, you know, me, I was just reacting to your - be on the lookout. It's really sad. What I hear coming from people and they tell me all the time, and they tell me, and tell me the truth because I ask them. Tell me the truth.
It's the money. How much -- you know, these are people who have multi- million-dollar homes. Right? How much money do you need? These are people who have more than one home. How much money do you need? These are people who have chauffeurs and private planes and on -- how much money do you need to have to swallow that? That is -- that's the thing.
CUOMO: Well, for the very wealthy, it's not about need. It's about want.
LEMON: It's about greed.
CUOMO: Money and need --
LEMON: It's about greed.
CUOMO: Yes. Money and need is about when you don't have enough.
CUOMO: When you have more than enough it's about the eternal quest for more. And it's about greed, which is one of the deadly sins. And that's for them to figure out. But again, there aren't enough of those people to outnumber those who must demand better in this country.
LEMON: There are enough of those people to donate money --
LEMON: -- to keep that situation afloat.
CUOMO: If you vote, you get what you want.
CUOMO: If you don't, you get what they buy.
LEMON: OK, sir. To be continued.
CUOMO: D. Lemon, always a pleasure. I love you.
LEMON: You need a new outfit by the way.
CUOMO: What do I need?
LEMON: Everybody tells me you need a new outfit.
CUOMO: Nobody tells you that.
LEMON: Yes, they do. They're like, tell Chris to buy new outfit.
CUOMO: You just lied on national television. How dare you.
LEMON: That's as close as you'll come to beating me up. All right. I'll see you. Goodbye.
CUOMO: I'll see you.
LEMON: Good night. Thank you.
This is CNN TONIGHT. We have a lot to cover here. I'm Don Lemon.
The President of the United States couldn't be bothered today. Did you notice this? To say one word about the 150,676 Americans who have died of the coronavirus couldn't be bothered. Couldn't -- think about this. OK?
I want you to think about the exactly five months ago the first death in the United States was reported. Now that death toll is passing 150,000. That is 50 times more Americans than died on 9/11, 50 times. Where's the outrage? Why isn't the President of the United States doing everything in his power to stop this? To stop this true American carnage.
He's always -- you know, in his inauguration he talked about American carnage. This is American carnage. This is American carnage. This -- a 100,000 people dead. Where's the outrage, everyone? Where is your president? Where's the President of the United States?
Instead, the president is on a hotspot tour of America, going to all these hotspot places. Florida. Now he's stopping in Texas. You know, Texas is a state that has more than 9,000 new cases of the virus just today. He's in a hotspot. Why didn't he address it? Did you think about that? The state where more than 6,000 people have died. And the president barely even mentions it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to provide you with a brief update on our battle against the China virus. Our hearts are with the people of Texas. We love our people. We love our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He loves saying the China virus. I wonder if it caught on and the people start to call it the Trump virus how he would feel about that. Because at this point, it's a -- he owns it. At this point, it's more of a Trump virus than anything because he owns it, because he downplayed it, because it didn't have to be this way. Because if he had followed the science and the scientists, we would have more buy in from everyone.
Instead, there are people who are running around and who have been who don't want to socially distance and who don't want to wear masks. So, at this point, he owns it. Maybe Nancy Pelosi was right. Maybe it is a Trump virus right now.
Meantime, not a word about the deaths of more than 150,000 Americans. No coronavirus briefing. Not even a tweet. Guess he's too busy with this up to $100,000 a plate fund raising lunch. A lunch where anybody getting close to the president was likely tested for the virus first.
Tested like -- wait, if you haven't heard about this, I want you to hear. I feel badly for him but I just want you to hear this. Congressman Louie Gohmert, who was supposed to fly with the president on Air Force One today -- supposed to -- until he tested positive for the virus at the White House before the flight. Good thing they do a lot of testing at the White House, isn't it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I said to people, slow the testing down, please.
Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing we show the cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.
If we didn't do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing, we would have half the cases. If we did another you cut that in half, we would have yet again half of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let me -- let you in on a little secret or share some logic with you. It's a good thing they didn't listen to the president and slow the testing down. Because guess what? Congressman Louie Gohmert would have been on Air Force One with the president. Listen to what he says about how he thinks he got infected, though.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I can't help but think that if I haven't
been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would have gotten it. But I know moving the mask around, getting to sit it just right. I'm bound to put some virus on the mask that I sucked in. That's most likely what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He really said that out loud. That he got it from his mask. You have to see the absurdity in that. What happened is Louie Gohmert was exposed to the virus. Sure. Scientists have been saying, the doctor's fiddle with the masks you could be at risk. Right? Because you're touching things. Sure. Highly unlikely though from this (Ph).
So, here's the fix. Don't fiddle with the mask. Put it on and keep it on, really pretty simple.
And let's remember the main point of wearing a mask is to protect others. It might give you some protection as well. But first and foremost, it is to protect others. Others like Congressman Raul Grijalva who is self-quarantining now after being near Congressman Gohmert during a hearing yesterday.
And Congresswoman Kay Granger also quarantining after sitting next to Gohmert on a flight. And then there's the Attorney General Bill Barr who was also near Gohmert yesterday. They were seen in the hall, there they are. Look. Neither of them. Look. No masks. No masks.
The attorney general tested negative for the virus today. But for someone who claims he has been wearing a mask so late -- so much lately, we sure do see Congressman Louie Gohmert not wearing a mask a lot. Here he is. Right? He is right next to Congressman Doug Collins yesterday with his mask pulled down. Gohmert telling Sean Hannity this on his radio show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Obviously you're going to isolate yourself. Where are you going to lock down? In your office by yourself?
GOHMERT: No, no. No. I'll do that back in Texas but I won't fly. I won't take the train. I don't want to expose anybody, so I'll just be very careful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: If only he thought about being careful before he exposed all those people by not wearing a mask.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announcing a new mandatory mask policy in the House. Which we can only hope will put a stop to scenes like this at today's hearing with tech CEO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigation --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, we have the e-mail. There is no --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. It's not your time. You do not have the time. Be respectful of the colleague. She controls the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she directly --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your mask on. Put your mask on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: No mask. With all that on the day this country passed 150,000 dead from the coronavirus, the president today doubles down on his defense of that doctor that he retweeted the doctor that who promoted an unproven drug, the doctor who also believes that demons and witches cause medical problems when they have nighttime dream sex with humans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STELLA IMMANUEL, PHYSICIAN & PASTOR: It's what we call astral sex. That means this person is not really a demon or Nephilim. It's just a human being that's a witch. And they astral project and sleep with people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The president who last night claimed he is -- she is an important voice but someone who knows -- he knows nothing about, still thinks it's great that she is promoting hydroxychloroquine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, making a statement with very respected doctors. She was not alone. She was making a statement about hydroxychloroquine with other doctors that swear by it. I think it's great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: None of that makes sense, none of it. They think a drug that multiple studies found doesn't help coronavirus patients and may lead to unusual heart rhythms. They think that drug is great. So does the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I happen to be a believer in hydroxy. I use it. I had no problem. I happen to be a believer. Many, many people agree with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Hydroxy. Many, many people agree with him. But do the
scientists? The people who actually know what they're talking about. You know who doesn't agree with him? Dr. Anthony Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I said this president couldn't even be bothered to tweet about more than -- the more than 150,000 Americans who have lost their lives to this virus, lost their lives on his watch. Lost their lives because his -- of his negligence and his incompetence.
But you know what he did find the time to tweet about? Withdrawing nearly 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, a major ally. In a move that is sure to please Vladimir Putin. He also found time today to deny U.S. intelligence accusing Russia of paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If it were true, I would be very angry about it. But if you look at Russia, Russia became Russia from the Soviet Union because of Afghanistan. They lost a fortune and a lot of people, a lot of people. So, I don't know why they would be doing this. But if you tell me they're doing it, I will certainly take that under consideration.
TRUMP: I would respond appropriately. Nobody has been tougher on Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You know, they could easily just turn the engines off on Marine One so that everybody can hear including the president and he doesn't get to walk away when he doesn't want to answer someone's question by saying I can't hear you. It doesn't take that long to fire up a helicopter by the way in case you didn't know. No one has been tougher on Russia as he said?
The president didn't even raise the issue on a recent phone call with Putin. Just listen to his defense of Russia in this interview with Jonathan Swan. Jonathan Swan is -- he works for Axios on HBO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN SWAN, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: You surely heard that, right? I mean, it's well known in the intelligence community that they are arming the Taliban. Russia. TRUMP: I don't know. When you say arming, is the Taliban paying or are
they using them?
SWAN: Russia is supplying weapons and money to the Taliban.
TRUMP: I have heard that. But it's never reached -- again, it's never reached my desk.
SWAN: I mean, he said it on the record when he was in --
TRUMP: Russia doesn't want anything to do with Afghanistan. Let me just tell you about Russia. Russia used to be a thing called the Soviet Union. Because of Afghanistan they went bankrupt, they became Russia, just so you understand, OK? The last thing that Russia wants to do is get too much involved with Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Not a whole lot of people knew that. And there you have it. If you heard him, that's what this president cares about, defending Russia or the former Soviet Union. He can't be bothered to say one word about the 150,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus.
I asked earlier, where's the outrage? Where is the outrage over the more than 150,000 fellow Americans, citizens, losing their lives to this virus? More will. That's a question for David Axelrod and Arthur Caplan. They're next.
LEMON: The U.S. coronavirus death toll topping 150,000 tonight but the president barely mentioning it, mentioning the pandemic today. He spent his day in a coronavirus hotspot raising money and visiting an oil rig.
Let's discuss now. David Axelrod is here. He is a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. Art Caplan with us as well. He is the head of medical ethics at NYU School of Medicine.
Good to have both of you on, gentlemen. Mr. Axelrod, let's start with you.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, sir.
LEMON: One hundred fifty thousand Americans have died from this virus. But the president is focusing on everything but the pandemic even in the state that reported 9,000 cases just today. Does he think that if he avoids this thing, it's just going to go away? AXELROD: Well, that's been the pattern from the beginning, Don. You'll
remember the six weeks or so at the beginning of this crisis when he said it was going to vanish, when he said there would be 15 or less cases in our country. And you know, what happened was he got serious for a while, called himself a wartime president, did that for about month, and then declared the war over.
But the virus had its own ideas. And when it became clear that the virus was resurging, he one again last week began talking about how serious it was and it will get worse before it gets better. But he cannot stick to that message. His instinct is to try and spin a pandemic that we as a people are living.
That is his political problem. He doesn't realize it, but that more than anything is his political problem. He seems to be in a denial when people are looking for him to lead. And it is weighing him down. He thinks there's political advantage to doing the other thing. He's wrong about that.
LEMON: Yes. David, tonight, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy is prohibiting the sale of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment. Yet, the president continues to promote this treatment long, long after it has been proven ineffective and even dangerous. Is that --
LEMON: -- is that negligence at this point? What is this?
AXELROD: I really can't explain it. It's beyond understanding. I mean, there have been so many -- so many experts, so many studies at this point. And I think it's, you know, an inability on his part to admit error. He is so anxious to try and certify that he was right in the first place that he just can't let it go. And it's like Groundhog Day. You know, we have been through this.
He's made this point. He's been -- it's been disproven, it's been -- it's been disagreed with by his own experts. Dr. Fauci again today. And yet, he insists on it. And it is, you know, it's kind of a pathology. He just cannot be wrong.
But unfortunately, in this case, people follow his direction.
AXELROD: And that's very dangerous.
LEMON: You've been -- I've been saying the same thing for a while now. I feel like Groundhog's Day. Like, we were just, we keep living the same day over and over and over again, doing the same piecemeal. And I don't know if we'll ever get out of our homes or, you know, be able to stop wearing masks or go back to work or, I just don't know.
Art, you know, just a few months ago, 150,000 deaths was considered really unthinkable, an unthinkable tragedy that we would never hit. You lost your own mother to this disaster. I'm so sorry about that by the way. But here's -- here's what the president said. This was on May 3.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Again, my condolences about your mom. You know, we've surpassed the unthinkable and I don't see any outrage. How do you explain -- how do you explain this? Have Americans become desensitized to death?
ARTHUR CAPLAN, HEAD OF MEDICINE ETHICS, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, Don, I think the president is an empty moral husk. He cannot exhibit the kind of regret, the kind of empathy that we need when you get to 150,000 deaths. Just to put it in context, that's 150,000 deaths over five months.
That makes this disease a bigger killer than stroke, than Alzheimer's, than kidney disease, than liver disease, than suicides. It's going to be number three if we keep going at this rate by the end of the year. It's unbelievable. Many more people dead than we've seen in major wars like Vietnam.
So, he lacks -- he just lacks, I don't know if it's pathological or political, as David was suggesting. But whatever it is, he doesn't have the moral capacity to just empathize and say look, you know, we are in a nightmare. And too many people have died.
And I'm going to suggest something else, Don. I fear that some of the reason he doesn't speak about this or is spending his time with crack pot doctors touting false cures or worrying having sex with demons in your sleep, is that to him these are disposable lies.
You look at who's dead, the elderly. My mom, mind you. You look at who's dead, prisoners, African-Americans, Native Americans. These are people that he doesn't care about. And the only thing I can back that up by saying the thing he tweeted out today was saying, don't worry, poor people aren't moving out to the suburbs. Right? That was one of his big tweets today, a message, a dog whistle.
But I worry that part of the reason we're not hearing any kind of moral leadership here is he views lies as disposable relative to his drive to get economy going and pretend that everything is OK.
LEMON: Wow. David, President Obama is going to deliver the eulogy at Congressman Lewis' funeral tomorrow. Presidents Bush -- Presidents, I should say, Bush and Clinton will also participate, three presidents to honor him. That is a very powerful message in this divided time.
AXELROD: Yes, we've seen it. We've seen it before when John McCain passed away. This country hungers for unity, a sense of community. And in times of loss of national heroes, national leaders, they want to come together. Transcend party and honor someone who gave his life to service to this country and service to the creed of our founding.
And, you know, but the president had an opportunity to go by, and pay his respects at the capital. He didn't do it. He's obviously not going there. I honestly don't know the answers to whether the Lewis family wanted him to. We know that the McCain family did not want him to be there.
But it's such a sad statement. Because in times like this, times of national mourning, you want the national leader to be present representing the American people. But if the national leader sees himself only as the president of his own political base, he's not going to play that role. And he hasn't played that role for the last four years.
LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
CAPLAN: Thank you.
LEMON: Art, how are you doing. You're OK?
CAPLAN: Yes. Still hanging in there. My mom would not be happy about this president.
LEMON: Yes. And your family is doing well?
CAPLAN: They're doing OK.
LEMON: OK. Our thoughts are with you. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, gentlemen.
Multiple health organizations are warning the U.S. needs a reset. Fast. What they're saying will happen if this country doesn't get control of the coronavirus.
LEMON: Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. passing 150,000 as one group warning deaths could skyrocket even further unless more is done to stop the spread. Multiple health organizations urging the U.S. to press the reset button on its response.
Doctor -- excuse me -- Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policies joins me now, also the author of "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs." Professor, thank you, sir.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICIES: Good evening, sir.
LEMON: I appreciate you joining us. The Association of American Medical College as the AAMC as it's named, the acronym there, warning that we could see U.S. coronavirus deaths in multiple hundreds of thousands. But we aren't doomed to that, are we? OSTERHOLM: No, we're not. I think the rest of the world has taught us
that in fact while it will always be a struggle to deal with the virus, we can do a better job of controlling it.
And if nothing else look here in the United States. You know, last March and April, New York City and the metropolitan area was on fire. And to the credit of the State of New York and the governor, there was a very active program to reduce the cases by distancing people, what some would call the lock down.
And there's been absolute efforts made to keep those cases under control by following very closely the kind of parameters like how many people get tested. What their test results are. Contact tracing, and so forth.
And they've taught us that you can actually keep this virus under some level of control that makes it possible to begin opening up the economy, that makes it possible for our kids to go back to school and for our worlds to be not the same as they were before, but a lot closer to that than any other place in the country right now that's basically a large coronavirus forest fire.
LEMON: You know, what's interesting is that we're supposed to be the leader on all these things like medical, the science, the technology, and on and on. But people in other places even in Europe, I'm hearing are they're just astounded at what's happening here because pretty much they have gone back to normal, because -- not every place, because they took it seriously, because they took social distancing seriously, because they wore masks, and are wearing masks.
But they're just astounded that we are still in our homes and as we have been saying it's Groundhog Day, it appears, every day.
OSTERHOLM: Yes. You know, the key thing that they did was they were actually true to their efforts to basically really hold the virus down to a very low level. So if you look at all the places whether Italy or Spain or any -- you know, Asia, where we had major house of fires just like we did in the United States back in March and April, but the difference was they didn't get it half way like we did to a lower level. They went down much, much lower and they put the foot on the brake which caused it to be locked up longer.
But now they are reaping the benefits of that. Now they're able with testing and contact tracing and the other things you just mention with distancing, is to actually live with it. Sure. Hong Kong has problems right now. Seoul, Korea has problems right now. Germany has problems right now. But they are a mere, just fraction of what we're seeing here in this country.
And look at New York, I mean, this past week we had one day where there were no deaths at all in the state of New York. That's a remarkable comment about what can be done.
So, I have a hard time when people say to me, we can't do this, it's too hard. My reaction to them is if we don't do it, look what's going to happen for the next 6 to 12 months before we get a vaccine.
LEMON: Yes. But that takes a national strategy.
OSTERHOLM: Well, it takes a national strategy and a national commitment. And the commitment has to come from the whole public. I mean, I understand and I agree with you it has to have a national leadership component to it. But I also see far too many Americans who still take this thing with just somehow, it's just an inconvenience.
Look what's happening right now across the country. We're seeing this explosion of cases in many states primarily in young adults that are now spilling over into their mom and dads, their grandpa and grandmas. Look how many parents are dying right now today because of infection they caught when their kids brought it home at Father's Day.
And so, I think that one of the challenges we have is we have to wake up the whole country and say, you know, understand that this is not a simple disease, and if I can say one last thing.
OSTERHOLM: Among young people today understand people who are sick but not really sick, but sick are now experiencing chronic problems, neurologic problems, immune problems that are lasting months not just days. And so, this is not something you want to get.
So, we have got to reorganize our efforts in this country. We've got to help the public understand you've got to be part of the solution and if not, I can't everyone imagine what the next 6 to 12 months are like without a vaccine. It will be close to the gates of hell.
LEMON: Wow. Professor, thank you. I appreciate that.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
LEMON: I want to let you know something, make sure you know about my new podcast. It's called Silence is Not an Option. Taking on tough conversations about race in America and being black in America. You can find it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app. The new episode drops tomorrow.
A black candidate skin shaded darker. A Jewish candidate's nose enlarged. Take this. That's happening in campaign ads now, the manipulated images shown in Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and David Purdue's ads. That's next.
LEMON: So, take this, everyone. I want you to listen. OK? Please. So, you know what's going on. Two Republican Senate campaigns under fire for digitally altering images of their opponents in hateful ads. I want you to check out this ad. This is from Georgia Republican Senator David Purdue. OK? Appearing to make Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff's nose bigger.
So, let me tell you why that is a problematic because Ossoff is Jewish. Portraying Jewish people with large noses is an anti-Semitic trope.
This is what he says about it.
Sitting U.S. Senator David Purdue's digital attack and distorted ad distorted my face to enlarge and extend my nose. I'm Jewish. This is the oldest -- this is the oldest most obvious least original anti- Semitic trope in history.
The Purdue campaign deleted the ad after a report by the Jewish publication to forward after they were called out.
A spokeswoman for Senator Purdue's campaign says the size of Ossoff's nose was an unintentional error caused by an outside vendor who applied a filter that distorted the image. OK. We can blame it on someone else for distorting his nose.
But here's the issue. There is more to this ad. Look at this again. It shows Ossoff next to the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer who is also a Jewish. It says Democrats are trying to buy Georgia, a suggestion that two Jewish people are working together to buy a U.S. state.
That place right into anti-Semitic tropes. The Anti-Defamation League says that Jewish people who pursue or occupied leadership roles in elected office are often deemed conspiratorial rather than commended for their concerns for the people.
Now I want you to look at this ad. This is from Senator Lindsey Graham posted on Facebook earlier this month featuring a digitally altered image of his opponent Jaime Harrison who is black. The ads of Harrison with a darker skin tone.
OK. So, look at the original photo published by the New York Times. Now look at them side by side. Look at Harrison's true skin tone versus Graham's ad. I have to ask why during a nationwide reckoning over race would a political campaign darken a black opponent skin tone in an ad?
It seems a little too on the nose for me. The Graham campaign told CNN in effect was used in creating the ad but pointed to past Facebook advertisements in which they said the same effect was used on Graham's face and called the issue raised about it a non-story.
Jaime Harrison says that Graham is playing a part in a 400-year history of an old south that had no room for people who looked like me.
What else did Jaime Harrison have to say about this? There he is. Wow, Jaime, you're not as dark as that ad. He joins me next.
LEMON: Senator Lindsey Graham's re-election campaign putting out an ad featuring a digitally altered image of his opponent who is black with a darker skin tone. The image of Jaime Harrison was originally published in the New York Times. You can see that the Graham campaign altered it, OK?
Jaime Harrison joins me now. Jaime, thank you so much. Good to see you.
JAIME HARRISON (D), SOUTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Don.
LEMON: So, let's start with your reaction to this Graham ad. What did you think when you saw it?
HARRISON: Well, listen, Don, you know, I just sort of -- I sort of expected these types of things to come out in this campaign, but I did not expect it to come from Lindsey Graham. You know, Lindsey was somebody that I used to respect. That I thought when Senator McCain was -- arrived, that he was a guy that could rise above the fray, but what we see right now is a Lindsey Graham that is so concerned about his own political relevance, and because we are giving him the contest of his political life, you know, we are down by two points in the latest polls. I have out raised him these last two quarters. I think the desperation is coming out.
And so, Lindsey Graham may have darkened my face, but it's Lindsey Graham who the people of South Carolina don't recognize.
HARRISON: Because this guy is very, very different.
LEMON: Well, it's -- we don't have any recent polling, but so I'll take your word for it. Your polling shows that but we don't have any recent polling there.
But, listen, South Carolina has long been a Republican stronghold. President Trump won South Carolina by 14 points in 2016. The last Democrat elected to the Senate from South Carolina was back in 1998. So that is a tall order for you to beat Lindsey Graham, sir.
HARRISON: Well, it is. And you know I heard this from the very start. Don, this is the thing, man. My entire life I've faced long odds. You know, I grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, son of a teen mom. We were poor. I like to say we were po. We couldn't afford the o-r.
And so, but I went on to go to Yale and Georgetown Law School and now I'm running for the U.S. Senate. My life has been emblematic that the American dream is alive and well, and so despite those tough odds, I've been able to achieve.
I know that we are making history in this race. Last quarter I raised $14 million, that is more than any other Senate candidate, including Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. The only exception is Amy McGrath in Kentucky.
And so, we are -- we have a historic grassroots movement building here in South Carolina. We contacted over 250,000 people this week. So, if people want to continue to make Lindsey Graham nervous, go to jaimeharrison.com and be a part of this effort to build a new south.
LEMON: You got it in there. So, Jaime, in 2016, Lindsey Graham was a vocal critic of then candidate Trump. Famously tweeted, if we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed and we will deserve it. Now Graham has become one of the president's most loyal backers in Congress. How do you explain this transition?
HARRISON: Listen, it's almost like watching a live version of the invasion of the body snatchers. Don, --
LEMON: I should say in the Congress, but go on. Sorry, go on. I said Senate. Go on.
HARRISON: Yes. I mean, he is just -- the flip-flopping is just amazing. I've never seen it in all of the years that I've been studying politics to see someone to go from having a backbone to not having one at all. And that's what we see in Lindsey Graham, you know.
And that's why he is vulnerable in this election. Because there are a lot of people in the state who are just like me, who respected Lindsey Graham, thought he stood up for the state, but this guy has been a missing in action senator. He hasn't had a town hall in this state in over three years. He does more fighting against the people of South Carolina than he does helping us.
I mean, he has just said over his dead body will he allow an extension of the federal unemployment insurance benefit. That's 600 -- $600 a week for folks who otherwise would only get less than $320 a week. We need that money into our economy. But we got a senator who cares more about his tee times with the president or having some fancy dinner over at the Trump hotel rather than going to Washington, D.C. and working for the people of South Carolina.
So, we're going to beat him because he hasn't been here. And I'm talking about the issues that people really are concerned about.
LEMON: OK. Jaime, thank you, sir. Be safe. We appreciate it.
HARRISON: Thank you, sir.
LEMON: All right. Thank you.
HARRISON: Thank you. Take care, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. The U.S. passing 150,000 coronavirus deaths. Experts warn the country
needs a reset. And what's the president doing? Attending a PAC fundraiser in one of the hot spots, of course.