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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

CNN Commentators Talk About The First Presidential Debate Between Trump And Biden; Daniel Dale Fact-Checks The Debate; Trump And Biden Clash In Chaotic And Combative Debate; Interview With Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) About The Trump/Biden Debate; CNN Instant Poll On Debate; Undecided Ohio Voters On Tonight's Debate. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 29, 2020 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And more than 200 countries and territories. Clearly, this debate was an embarrassment for the United States of America, a clear embarrassment.

I want to bring in CNN's fact checker, Daniel Dale has been very busy today scrutiny everything we heard from both candidates.

Daniel, first the big picture. How much was fact, how much was false?

DANIEL DALE, CNN FACT CHECKER: Well, it depended on who we were listening to. I think it's important for us as journalists to say when both sides are not alike. And they were not unlike tonight. We have an avalanche of lying from President Trump. Biden conversely made at least a couple false and misleading claims, but honestly he was largely accurate.

There were times during this debate, Wolf, where President Trump's every line, specifically on mail voting, almost every single thing he said during that concluding section of the debate was inaccurate.

And the other thing that stood out to me, Wolf, was that these are largely false claims that the president has made before. These weren't one-time slips or gas or errors, these have been fact checks and he keeps saying them and it's still wrong.

BLITZER: Let's turn to a specific claim that was made by President Trump about former Vice President Biden's health care plan. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bigger problem that you have is that you are going to extinguish 180 million people with their private health care that they are very happy with it.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That's simply not true.

TRUMP: Well, you're certainly going to socialist. You know it leads to socialism. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Daniel, break that down for us.

DALE: Biden was correct. That claim is simply not true. You may recall the Democratic primary in which a leading candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, proposed a Medicare for all plan, a single payer plan that would indeed have eliminated most private insurance, about 100 million people with private plans. Biden rejected that approach.

What Biden is proposing is something called a public option that allows people to voluntarily, if they want to enter into a Medicare- like program. But if they want to keep their own insurance, they can. So, bottom line, this claim is just inaccurate.

BLITZER: Let's turn Daniel, to the economy. President Trump's claim about manufacturing jobs created on his watch. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They said it would take a miracle to bring back manufacturing. I brought back 700,000 jobs. They brought back nothing. They gave up on manufacturing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Daniel, how do you rate that claim?

DALE: So, everything about that claim Wolf, is inaccurate. First of all, from the beginning of Trump's presidency through August, it is a net loss of 237,000 jobs. We have lost manufacturing jobs under Trump.

Now, if you would like to be generous to the president and just go to the pre-pandemic crash period, it's a gain of 483,000. So, that would be pretty good if not for the pandemic, but the president was still adding more than 200,000 extra jobs.

In addition, they were manufacturing jobs lost under Obama, but that was largely because he inherited a recession when he took office in which a steep decline was underway. That turned around in March 2010. From then on, there was a slow but steady increase in manufacturing jobs until Trump took office, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Daniel, you're going to be back every 10 minutes, doing more fact checking, critically, critically important. We're also waiting for the first results of our instant poll to get a reaction from people who were actually watching this debate. Jake, what a debate it was. (Inaudible), let's go back to Anderson first. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, thanks very much. We're going to get a reaction from people who are watching the debate, I think undecided voters. But Van, you are saying, among white supremacists online, the reaction has been overwhelming.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're very happy. I mean, and they feel like they've been given a green light. Now, I don't know what the president meant when he said stand by.

COOPER: Well, I think we all know what he meant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he was saying he was going to get back to it.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Look, on that one, I think he can just fall on his face on that one. It's shocking. My heart breaks when you are saying that, you know, why would be surprised. I just don't want for it to become something that people are not surprised by. I have a friend whose son was watching this on the West Coast, turns to the mother and asks, should we buy a gun to protect ourselves?

COOPER: Gun sales, I mean, --

JONES: Stay with me. Stay with me, because -- there are young people across the country -- this is the only America that they know. They are growing up in a country where they can't go to school because somebody has mishandled this virus so badly, and that person comes on television and says something so terrifying to them, that they ask their mom, she buy a gun. That's where we are. OK. That's where we are.

And the country deserves better than that. I think everybody knows, I'm as bipartisan as you can get, but this is not -- this has nothing to do anywhere. We are beyond the partisan. We are beyond politics, we are in an immoral swamp of misbehavior that we wouldn't tolerate from our children and a kindergarten class.

And so there is a bunch of stuff I want to walk through in terms of like, what actually happened, but this is not a normal night. This cannot become a normal night, when the president of United States (inaudible).

[23:05:05]

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think the problem -- it is not a normal night. It's normal for this president, and that is the point. And what he did tonight, this was Trump's greatest hits. I mean, it was all there, the conspiracy theories, you know, the divisiveness, you know, the inhumanity.

It was all there for everyone to see. This is who he is. That's who came, that's what people saw. It will probably thrill some of his supporters, and it will, I predict have turned off a lot of other people. And as I said earlier, I think, you know, he put a sorry end to a sorry saga with his performance tonight.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I just think it's such a low moment in American presidential history that you see an incumbent president of the United States bullying his opponent, behaving in a shameful way and, you know, declining to say how he felt about white supremacy? I mean, give me a break. And then declining -- he was asked specifically, would you tell your supporters not to be violent after this election. And he declined to do that.

So when I say frightening, and I don't know whether this is what your friend is referring to, but when you say frightening, that is what I think Americans are looking at and saying, wait a minute, this is not the way democracy is supposed to be.

And so I don't see support Donald Trump, don't support Donald Trump, whatever. I don't see how you defend that behavior, Rick. That's what I'm talking about. The behavior that, I guess we've come to expect it, but to me, it was sort of a crescendo tonight.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I would say the Democrats are a lot to Chris Wallace, because Chris Wallace ask those two questions, not Joe Biden. It was Chris Wallace who asked this two questions. And he ask them for a reason, because he ask two questions where he was asking the president to do something that he knows the president doesn't like to do.

BORGER: Which is?

SANTORUM: Which is, say something bad about people who support him, right?

BORGER: What, declining violence?

SANTORUM: Well, talking about --

JONES: White supremacists?

SANTORUM: Yes. The white supremacists, number one. And number two, asking the question about whether he would -- he knows the president doesn't think this election is fair. So he thinks that, the president believes that there are these, not the absentee voting which happens in Pennsylvania.

So, there's no vote fraud in the president's mind, it could happen in Pennsylvania, but in these states that mail ballots to you without requesting them. That's where he's focused his attention and he thinks that's unfair. He thinks it's rampant for fraud. And so he asked him those two things that he knows the president is not going to agree with him.

BORGER: It's different from saying declining violence.

SANTORUM: And he fell into it. The president made to, (inaudible), those two gaffes, and they're worse than gaffes. Really hurting tonight, in addition to the tone. And the thing that really hurt Joe Biden tonight that, if I was a Republican, I'd be focusing all my attention on, is the fact that he did not say he wouldn't back the court (inaudible).

AXELROD: Yes, and I think in comparison to what happened on the other side, if that's the only rule --

SANTORUM: I think it's a big issue. It's a very big issue.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: You know what else is an important issue? COVID-19 it's an important issue? COVID-19 is an important issue. And to hear the president of the United States, you know, sort of dismiss his experts on fundamental questions of public health policy --

SANTORUM: Yes, I think the president did a much job on that than you guys think. And the reason is, -- the president brought this up and that is -- look, there's a cost of health, of quality of life of a whole host of other things of shutting down this economy. And I think he did a very good job of painting Joe Biden as someone who is going to create -- look, addiction is up. Suicide is up. Overdoses is up.

I mean, you've got lots of really bad -- domestic violence, way up. All of these things are happening and we just ignore that because we're looking at how many people died. And we're not looking at how many people are suffering because of it. And that's why I think the president did a good job (inaudible).

JONES: The trap that Biden fell into on that question, I agree with you, is that he should have said, I want to open this up. Trump want to open up the wrong way. I want to open up the right way.

JONES: No, you're right. He should have said that, on that point. The bottom line is right now, the countries in the throes of this health crisis, the vaccine, and how that is treated is a very, very sensitive thing. I think that Trump, right to the point where he, you know, dismissed as fake news, you know, some of the criticisms of his handling of this thing.

[23:10:06]

I think it was just, you know, again, it was him sort of reflexively responding to this. And I think is dangerous. I think it is dangerous when you undermine your own people -- he dismissed the FBI Director, he dismissed his CDC Director, you know when it's inconvenient for him, he dismisses on very fundamental issue of (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: And I'm speaking for conservative here because I hear this over and over again that the media's focus on one health crisis, and there are other health crisis.

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Rick, you can't solve one without the other. The reason that people were isolated was because we did not have a handle on this. And the president pushed the country back in to opening up at a pace that now we see waves coming again. And he continues to do that. He continues to do that, he ridicules Biden tonight on masks.

COOPER: And also manipulated scientists, pressured the CDC to not be so tough on their guidelines, or what he was said was too tough on their guidelines for how to safely open up the schools.

BORGER: but I was just going to say, I totally agree with you and I think Biden try to make that point and didn't make it as clearly.

(CROSSTALK)

But, if you remember back to the debate, if you try and maybe you want to forget it, that Donald Trump interrupted a debate section about the pandemic to insult Joe Biden's intelligence sort of out of nowhere and where he went to college? It sort of came out of the blue and started saying, you know, you're not smart. In the middle of a discussion on the pandemic. Where did that come from?

AXELROD: You've been saying for four years, as I've sat across from you for four years, you've been talking about this element of Donald Trump, and this kind of destructive impulse of his to lash out in ways that are just -- you know, I got a text from the grandfather of a 12- year-old, to your point. Not an African American kid. But we just had to talk will down off of a rate spiral from watching that, this is from the kid's mother. His first ever debate, and that's what he got to witness should showed, doesn't even begin to describe it.

COOPER: And by the way, that racist group is now using stand back stand by.

JONES: As a new slogan. So, that's -- look, I just want to say a couple more things. Biden had, I think, an opportunity, and I think he did a reasonably where he could have done better. First of all, thank goodness climate change was mentioned, that's a positive thing.

Trump says he should break the space force, but Trump didn't take responsibility for it, -- what Biden should've nailed him on, those are federal forces that are burning in California. Its federal forces that are burning in California. I've got a bunch of friends in California who are breathing a lot of smoke because of what is now rampant climate change. I'm glad it was addressed.

I was sad to hear President Trump talk about it the way he did. I think the other thing that Biden does get some credit for is that the way he chose to conduct himself. There were three different conversations that where happening. One was a conversation between Trump and Chris Wallace. That was its own thing, which was ugly and difficult.

The conversation between Trump and Biden, that was mixed and sometimes Biden did well and didn't. Trump was always terrible. But there was another conversation, and it was Biden in the American people. And I really thought he did a good job in turning over and over again and speaking heart to heart to the American people. That was effective for Joe Biden.

COOPER: Let's go back to Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Let's get some first reaction to tonight's debate from Joe Biden's running mate. We're joined by the Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Senator Kamala Harris. Democrat of California. Doesn't sound like she's actually plugged in yet. Is she? Is she ready? Hold on one second, we are going to go to her in one second. But in the meantime, Dana Bash, let me go to you.

We are all getting text messages from friends all over the country, a friend of mine in Kansas City watching her first debate with her six great daughter, daughter bursts into tears has to run to bed because she was so appalled, the 6th grade girl at what she saw from the president of the United States. We all want to get a dive into the substance but it's almost difficult to get there.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because you almost couldn't actually hear or listen to what they were trying to say. And frankly, when Joe Biden tried to talk, what he was trying to say because Donald Trump kept interrupting him. And even when Chris Wallace, the few times he try to get in there, he did not have any luck. It wasn't until towards the end of the debate that he finally called out Donald Trump for interrupting so much.

So, we would love to be talking about the substance right now. But its unclear how much there was. There was a little bit on the important issues like COVID, and some discussion about masks, but again, it was very hard to actually absorb that through the chaos that Donald Trump was creating.

[23:15:08]

TAPPER: Quick thought.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The dichotomy tonight was so clear when you saw the president arguing with the moderator constantly. And then at certain points, Biden just turning to the camera and speaking to the American public. And I think it was a very clear contrast in how they were each approaching this debate and what they were trying to get out of it.

And you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, if you could hear something at the end of the day, you know, you may have only heard one side of this because the president kept sort of working the reps on this rather than speaking to the American public. Who he is asking for four more years in office.

TAPPER: So, now, I think we have Senator Kamala Harris plugged in and ready for us. Senator Harris, are you there?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm here, Jake. Can you hear me? Can you see me? OK.

TAPPER: Yes, I can. And thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. A very simple question. After what went down this evening, do you think Joe Biden should participate in a second or third debate?

HARRIS: Joe Biden is never going to refused to talk to the American people and have any opportunity that he can to speak directly to American families and speak about the issues, to speak the truth and address the facts of where we are now. But also addressed the hopes and dreams of the American family in terms of where we can be. And Joe's got a plan for dealing with those hopes and those aspirations as well.

TAPPER: Do you think the American people benefited from what we all saw this evening?

HARRIS: I think the American people benefited from a very clear contrast. You know, on one hand, you had Joe talking directly into the camera and trying to bring some semblance of maturity to a conversation with a country that is in the midst of at least three major crises of a proportion we've not experienced in generations.

A public health pandemic, and economic crisis being measured against the great depression and of course a climate crisis and then a reckoning on race in this country. And Joe was trying to have a mature conversation about how we need to address these issues. And on the other hand, you had Donald Trump who spent full time interrupting, bullying the moderator and lying to the American people.

And so I do believe that the American people benefited from a clear contrast of what they've got right now, but also what they can get. And what's possible. And Joe, I think made it clear that what is possible will be achieved when everyone votes.

TAPPER: I have to get your reaction to something that President Trump said that has alarmed the anti-defamation league. When he was asked to condemn white supremacists, he didn't. He said he could, but he didn't do it.

And then he raised the group the proud boys, which is a far-right neo- fascist groups, and told them to stand back and stand by. Stand back and stand by. And according to media reports, members of that group, which are blame for a lot of violence and a lot of cities, are rejoicing about this. What was your response when you heard that?

HARRIS: I heard what we all heard. The president of the United States in the year of our lord, 2020, refuses to condemn white supremacists. And not only that, in addition, he has created a number of policies, apparently with pride, including the most recent that was discussed on the debate stage. Which was to end the training on the issue of race and what we must do to avoid prejudiced and biased based on race, and based on gender, sexual orientation and a number of issues.

This is a president, you know, people talk about is he dog whistling? Dog whistling through, a bullhorn is what he is doing. And you know, by contrast, again, you had a Joe Biden who is not afraid to speak the phrase black lives matter. Joe Biden who says we need to deal with this. We need to speak truth about it and we need to do it with the spirit of healing and unifying our country.

And again Jake, contrast is so clear. On the one hand, Donald Trump continuously throughout his campaign for president -- throughout his presidency, he's spending fulltime trying to sow hate and division, trying to get the American people to turn on each other. And on the other hand, a Joe Biden who speaks with a calm voice, respecting the dignity of all people, recognizing the kind of division that has taken place in our country because of Donald Trump. And there with a genuine goal of unifying our country once, God willing, he wins this election.

TAPPER: There are a number of Democrats in Washington, as you know, who are saying that if Judge Barrett is confirmed and if you and Joe Biden win and the Democrats take back the Senate, then there should be consideration of adding seats to the U.S. Supreme Court.

[23:20:14]

Neither you nor Joe Biden are willing to give us a straight answer as to whether or not you are willing to entertain that idea. But it's not some fringe idea. Democrats in Washington are talking about it. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has said that he's not taking anything off the table. Is that an idea that you are willing to think about?

HARRIS: We are 35 days away from an election that is probably the most important election of our lifetime and our children's lifetime. And there is nothing about these next 35 days that Joe or I will take for granted. And so the focus right now is on reminding people that we have this election. It is very much in play.

It is about reminding people that people are voting right now, almost 1 million people Jake in our country have already voted, we are in the midst of an election and the Republican leader of the Senate together with Donald Trump are in the spirit of hypocrisy, trying to push through a nominee while the American people are voting.

And so Joe has been really clear. Let's focus on what is happening right now. Deal with later-later. Focus on what is happening right now, which is the American people are voting and they should be the ones to decide who will have the next lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Let's not get distracted.

Let's be focused on what is right in front of us. Because there is a lot at stake in terms of the integrity of our democracy, of our election system and this process that should take place over the next 35 days.

TAPPER: I will respectfully note that you also declined to answer that question with me. Senator Kamala Harris, I appreciate your time this evening. Thank you so much.

HARRIS: Good to be with you, Jake. Thanks for the question.

TAPPER: All right, yes. So, I don't really understand Abby why they won't answer that question. I guess they just feel like -- it's -- well, yes, I guess --

PHILLIP: I understand (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: I understand, why don't you explain for the American people?

PHILLIP: They won't that answer that question because this is sort of like the Medicare for all of the general election. Which is that there is an idea that is being talked about on the left of their party and they want to stay in the middle. That is why they won't answer the question.

But, I mean, it should not be anything new. I mean, this is something that Joe Biden has avoided talking about since the primaries. But I also think we should be very clear here. The idea of packing the courts is not some sort of widely held Democratic idea. There are people talking about it, many of them on the internet, but when you really look at how Democrats feel about this issue, this is not something the majority of Democrats.

BASH: And this is -- that was one of the more memorable moments that Joe Biden had on this issue in the debate. Where he was -- when he said the Democratic Party is me. I am the Democratic Party. That was obviously something that he practiced and he delivered. And because the Biden campaign understood that Donald Trump was going to go after him as being a socialist.

As somebody who is just a puppet of the left of his party. And so, he wanted to try to kind of, you know, put a stake through the heart of that argument. It's unclear if he did it, but he certainly had a memorable line to try to bring it back.

TAPPER: I do have to say, I know we all want to talk about the substance of this stuff, but when you have the president of the United States telling a far-right neo-fascist group, stand back and stand by.

When you have the president of the United States basically threatening to take the entire country down with him if he loses the election. Talking about whether or not Joe Biden has a position on adding justices to the Supreme Court. It does seem a little off point. Let's go back to Wolf now.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. I want to go back to our fact checker Daniel Dale. Daniel, the president renewed his attack on mail-in balloting and an unproven allegation -- a lot of them unproven allegations, he made a voter fraud. Listen to what he said about unsolicited ballots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A solicited ballot, OK? Solicited is OK. You are soliciting. You're asking, they send it back, you send it back. I did that. But if you have unsolicited, they are sending millions of ballots all over the country, there's fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Daniel. How do you rate that statement?

DALE: That is false, Wolf. Look, there is just no evidence of significant fraud with any form of mail voting. Whether we're talking about cases in which people have to request a ballot or states in which all registered voters, eligible registered voters are sent ballots without a request. Now, nine states plus the District of Columbia are sending out these so-called unsolicited ballots during this election.

About half of them are doing so because of the pandemic, but about half of them, including Republican-leaning Utah, did so before the pandemic with no significant incidents of fraud. So again, bottom line, with any form of mail-in voting, voter fraud, any kind of election fraud is exceedingly rare, Wolf.

[23:25:07]

BLITZER: It certainly is. You know, Daniel, Joe Biden, he pushed back at the president's defensive mail-in voting in Republican run states while slamming it in Democratic-controlled states. Let's listen to that and how the president responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Why is it for them, somehow not fraudulent? It's the same process? It's honest, no one has established at all that there is fraud related to mail-in ballots. That to somehow it's a fraudulent process.

TRUMP: It's already been established. Take a look at Carolyn Maloney's race.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR: I asked you. You have an opportunity to respond.

TRUMP: Look at Carolyn Maloney.

WALLACE: Go ahead, Vice President.

TRUMP: They have no idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you make of that, Daniel?

DALE: Wolf, that is also false. There is no evidence of fraud in Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's race in New York's 12th District. Now there were issues in that race. There was significant number of ballots rejected for reasons like missing or fraud signatures.

There was also a legal dispute about the number of rejected ballots. Some ballots were sent out late to voters, but even Maloney's defeated opponent Suraj Patel tweeted tonight that Trump -- he said trump lied about this. He lied about what happened and Trump has done so repeatedly.

So, bottom line, no evidence of fraud in the 12th district primary. And I need to add, Wolf that literally almost every single thing President Trump said tonight, almost every single example he cited about mail voting was wrong.

So, he cited a case in which he said West Virginia mailman was selling ballots? There was no mailman selling ballots, that man was caught altering primary ballot applications. He said as a joke from Democrat to Republican.

He told the story about what happened in one county in North Carolina, but got it wrong. He told the story about something that allegedly happened in Philly today or this week, but he got that wrong.

You can look at the local media coverage. He told the story about ballots found discarded in Pennsylvania, but got the number of Trump ballots they're wrong. So literally everything the president say on this subject needs to be treated with the great skepticism, Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent work, Daniel. You're going to be back in about 15 minutes with more fact checking. Anderson, I would tell you who was very pleased with tonight's debate, that would be Americas adversaries, whether Russia or China or Iran.

They've been trying to sow political dissent, create chaos here in the United States, political chaos. Clearly, we saw that unfold tonight. It was very, very apparent. The U.S. Intelligence Community has been suggesting that this has been their goal for a long time. And I must say, from their perspective, U.S. adversaries, mission accomplished.

COOPER: Same with white supremacists in the United States and globally, you know, fascist groups all around the country or all around the world as well. Well, President Trump and former Vice President Biden were hoping to win over undecided voters in debate tonight. We have a group of undecided voters in Nevada ground state of Ohio. They've been watching the debate.

Ana Cabrera is with them in Westerville, outside of Columbus. On it, the debate often -- well, kind of started off the rails and just stayed off the rails with the president interrupting former Vice President Biden frequently, both of them trading personal insult. How did the undecided voters react?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we are with 14 undecided voters. And we saw a lot of grunts, we saw head shaking, we saw eye rolling especially in those moments of large interruptions and a little bit of the back and forth. Let me ask a couple of our voters here how they feel about it, because I know, Jacqueline, you said this was a very exhausting debate for you. What did you think about all the interrupting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just thought it was exhausting. It was like two people -- children fighting. I came here to really try and learn and have an open mind and try to decide who are really wanted to vote for, and hear their opinions rather than was social media has to say, and I just felt like I was just watching two people argue and talk over one another.

CABRERA: You said it was what you expected? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, it's American political theater at its

finest. We only get to see this every four years for a couple times. And I think three debates this time. I was glad to see Joe Biden showed up, just like he did when he debated Paul Ryan for the vice president. Trump had a good command of things, so it was nice to see. I think we have a real battle here.

CABRERA: Maria, did the interrupting make you feel more strongly or less strongly toward one of the candidates?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's so distracting that I just found that I was agreeing with a lot of what President Trump was saying, but it's not what he says, it's how he says it. And it's so distracting. And he's saying it when he's not supposed to be saying it that I'm finding myself being swayed against him, not toward him, even though I believe in what he is saying.

CABRERA: Gavin, you said this was a train wreck tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Train wreck, disaster. Yes.

CABRERA: Explain why, you mentioned you actually voted for Trump in 2016. You do not like what you heard?

[23:29:59]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I was not pleased with that at all. The whole interrupting started with him. President Trump was very childish. I was also disappointed that Joe Biden got drawn in, but I --

The whole interrupting started with him. President Trump was very childish. I was very -- I was also disappointed that Joe Biden got drawn in. But I can also understand how difficult it would be not to when you are hearing, you know, that kind of stuff, crazy stuff about his family that is so clearly not true. How are you going to leave that unspoken and not say anything against it? So I get it, but it was too bad.

CABRERA: But did it bother you at all to hear Joe Biden calling the sitting president of the United States names, calling him a clown, and that type of thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think we pretty much have gotten past that now. I mean, he has spent the last five years calling Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas and, you know, talking about AOC and all the other people, you know.

And so it was great that Joe called him a clown, no, but when the shoe fits, when the clown shoe fits.

(LAUGHTER)

CABRERA: Walk with me down here, guys, because I want to make sure we get a sampling on the other side of our group here. You were laughing at a lot of these moments where other people were shaking their head. What was going through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, he's our commander-in-chief, and if you're in a debate, people want to, you know, be respected and called as such. Calling him a cloud is just out of pocket, and I just don't agree with it.

CABRERA: I took a sampling of every single one of these people here right before or right after the debate before you came to me, the number of people who called this debate frustrating, childish, a train wreck, exhausting, was pretty much the entire group here. Nobody felt really good about what they heard tonight. And of course, there were a few high moments. I will toss it back to you see if you can show us one of them.

COOPER: Ana, there were some moments that resonate with undecided voters. We note their reactions as the candidates spoke. Before we show one of those moments, we should note, at the bottom of your screen, men's responses will be in green, women in yellow. When the lines go up, that means this group liked what it heard. If lines go down, that means the group didn't like the candidate's answer. Let's take a look at the moment that hit high marks with both men and women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote. If you are able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you are able to vote in person, vote in person.

Whatever way is the best way for you because you will -- he cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election. And in terms of whether or not when the votes are counted and they are all counted, that will be accepted. If I win, that will be accepted. If I lose, that will be accepted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Ana, why did that strike a chord into the voters you are with? Do they think there was a clear winner tonight?

CABRERA: Well, I'll answer the second question after we get the response to that moment because obviously, there were very few moments that were high for both men and women. That was one of the highest across the board. You felt very strongly. This will be your first election ever voting. Why was it such an important moment for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think no matter what you stand for and who you stand for, it's important for these elections to go vote because you -- that is you saying what your stance is. Forty years from now, I hope that me as a first time voter, I can be proud of my first election and who have voted for. And I hope that can be the same for everyone else.

CABRERA: Why did you feel like you were really, really engaged in that moment with Joe Biden talking about voting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is so important. That's everyone's responsibility in the United States, to vote, to go out and do that and let your voice be heard.

CABRERA: And yet it is such a, I guess, normal thing, right? It wasn't anything relevant (ph) that they were speaking of, and yet in this election cycle, it seemed like it struck such a high note.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I agree with that. It's just really important to get out there and everyone do their part so that we are, you know, all of our voices are heard.

CABRERA: OK. So, these are undecided voters. I guess the big question here is did there -- was there a clear winner from this group. Let me do a quick show of hands, if you will. Who in this group -- raise your hand if you thought Joe Biden won the debate. One person, OK.

Show of hands if you thought Donald Trump won the debate. And of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that those people who are raising their hands have made up their mind on who is they are going to vote for.

But as you can see, there was really no clear winner here in this group. A couple of people felt strongly one way or another, but the majority of this group tells me there was no winner tonight. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah, not a lot of hands have been raised. Ana Cabrera, we appreciate it. Thanks very much.

[23:35:00]

COOPER: We are back now with our folks. I mean, it's always interesting to hear how people thought through the television in their homes.

BORGER: Well, and I think, in a way, you can say they saw it the way we've seen it around this table, which is that it was not an edifying debate. That Donald Trump did not behave as one would expect a president to behave. These are undecided voters and they really couldn't decide.

So, I think it's probably not going to change the trajectory of this election very much. But it was sort of a stark viewing of this president's character. I know we've seen it for, you know, the last three and a half years --

SANTORUM: Obviously to the voters out there --

BORGER: Yeah.

SANTORUM: That's baked into this.

BORGER: Well, it is baked, but I said it was stark --

SANTORUM: I mean, there is nothing the president did that helped here, and he could have.

BORGER: Well, I said it was stark.

SANTORUM: It's more of a missed opportunity.

BORGER: It was an hour and a half. It was an hour and a half --

SANTORUM: It was a missed opportunity for Trump to show a different side of it than it was --

BORGER: Yes.

SANTORUM: -- that this is fatal to him. We saw -- how many times we said fatal? This is it. The election is over.

BORGER: No. I said it didn't change it.

AXELROD: It's possible to have another side, isn't it?

SANTORUM: That's it.

BORGER: But I said it didn't change it.

COOPER: For voters, though, isn't a decision really like how do you really want to spend the next four years?

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: -- that side.

BORGER: Yeah.

AXELROD: You know, one of the things that was really interesting was the one woman who spoke, I think, maybe first who said, you know, I kind of liked some of the things he says and -- but I just don't like the way he behaves.

BORGER: The way he behaves.

AXELROD: And that means I probably can't vote for him. That is going to be the story, in some ways, of this election and --

COOPER: The story of the last four years.

AXELROD: Women have moved away from him and the Republican Party --

BORGER: Yup.

AXELROD: -- in big numbers. What's really interesting is watching women without college degrees who voted for him by 23 points in 2016, and that was a major thing for him, he is now battling to win that group with Joe Biden. It is an even fight. And this is why -- I mean, in that way, I think he did himself dramatic harm tonight.

BORGER: I agree.

JONES: I think so, too. There's another group that he had in his pocket that has begun to move away from him. That's older voters, even older white voters. I don't think that older white voters, I don't mean to speak for groups that I don't spend a lot of time with, but I have met a few older white voters, I don't think they like stuff like that.

BORGER: Mm-hmm.

JONES: I think they remember a time when decorum was a part of the deal. And to stand up there and do what he did, I just don't think that actually helps him. I just don't understand the political strategy.

At the end of the day, what these guys are supposed to be doing is divide their opposition and uniting their base. That's all politics is. Unite, us, divide them. And what I saw Trump doing tonight was uniting us and dividing his own people --

BORGER: Right.

JONES: -- because I'm hearing from Republicans, I'm hearing from white women, I'm hearing from older voters that they don't like what they saw. But the white supremacists are very happy tonight.

BORGER: Right. Can I say something about mothers also? So, the moment that really stuck out to me was when Joe Biden was talking about Beau, and Beau having served in the military. And then the president turned that conversation to Hunter. We've heard about Hunter, you know, all the harangues about Hunter and Ukraine and all the rest of it.

But then the president turned it to Hunter Biden's military service, being thrown out of the military because of cocaine, which Biden said, well, that is not true. But then Biden went back and talked to the camera and said, you know, I -- family suffers from people who have drug addiction. I am proud of my son for overcoming what he did.

JONES: So beautiful.

BORGER: And you hear that. You know, I am a mother. There are a lot of mothers out there. You know, you listen to that and you go, well, that's a father. That is a good father.

JONES: And he said, my son.

BORGER: My son.

JONES: My son.

BORGER: And I am proud of him for overcoming it. It was a really important moment, I think.

COOPER: Just ahead, we are going to have a very important take on who, if anyone won tonight, we are standing by for the first results from CNN's exclusive instant poll of debate watchers. We are back after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It was the most chaotic presidential debate in history. We are checking the fact, what we heard from President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Tonight, our fact-checker, Daniel Dale, is back. So Daniel, let us listen to this exchange between the candidates about race and violence as Mr. Trump quoted a former Trump official.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: By the way, you know, his own former spokesperson said, you know, riots and chaos and violence help his cause. That's what this is all about.

TRUMP: I don't know who said that.

BIDEN: I do.

TRUMP: Who?

BIDEN: I think it is Kellyanne Conway.

TRUMP: I don't think she said that.

BIDEN: She said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Daniel? The president said he didn't think she said that. Did she?

DALE: She did indeed, Anderson. She didn't use those precise words, but Biden was accurately summarizing it. And what happened was Conway was asked in an August interview on Fox News about criticism of Trump from former candidate Pete Buttigieg, who blamed Trump for violent protests during Trump's presidency.

And Conway rejected that argument, and she cited a restaurant owner in Wisconsin, who asked a violent protester, are you trying to get Trump elected, and then she said --

And I have the quote here, Anderson, he knows that restaurant owner, full stop, and I guess Mayor Pete knows, full stop, that the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence rains, the better news for the very clear choice on who is best on public safety and law and order. She was clearly suggesting that clear choice was President Donald Trump. Anderson?

COOPER: What about the claim by former Vice President Biden about President Trump's trade policy and the U.S. trade deficit with China?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: His trade deals are the same way. He talks about these great trade deals. You know, he talks about the art of the deal. China has perfected the art of this deal. We have a higher deficit with China now than we did before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Daniel?

DALE: Biden was slightly off here. He was wrong. Now, Biden would have been correct if he was talking last year, referring to the 2018 deficit, because in 2018, the U.S. trade deficit with China hit a record of $380 billion.

However, in 2019, amid Trump's trade war with China, the deficit declined significantly down to $308 billion. That was at least a couple billion lower than the deficit in Obama's last year in 2016.

Now, I need to note that most economists say trade deficits are not the best way to measure the health of a trading relationship, but nonetheless, bottom line, Biden was an accurate here.

COOPER: All right. Daniel, thanks very much. I appreciate it. So, do -- I mean, at this point, how does the race change?

AXELROD: I don't think it does, Anderson. I think that Trump needed to really change the dynamic tonight, and I think he just reinforced the dynamic. I think that Biden did what he needed to do. I don't think it was a stellar performance, but it was good enough, and he did his decency and he hung in there during the 90 minutes. That's really what he needed to do.

[23:44:59]

AXELROD: But Trump, you know, I get the sense that Donald Trump is a guy who knows he's losing at some level. I think he's angry about it. I think he indulged his anger instead of doing what he needed to do tonight, which was to show a different side of himself, as Rick said. I think he is going to pay a price for that.

SANTORUM: If I was -- as a Republican, if I was a Republican-elected official, if I was someone running for office right now, I would be pretty mad at him, because I think he allowed himself -- to use the term, David -- he indulged himself tonight to the detriment of what I think the woman, how David quoted in Ohio, said, you know, I like a lot of the things he said.

And to the point where Van and I very much disagree, that I don't think this is a center left country. I think this is a center right country. We can win as a center right campaign. But we can't win a center right campaign when you have someone who is as caustic as what the president is in this debate.

I think a lot of Republicans are going to be very upset that we have a winning -- at least, I believe, we have a winning message, we have winning policies, we have winning contrast, we have a candidate who I think did not do well in Joe Biden tonight, but that is overshadowed by the fact that Donald Trump's personality ran wild tonight. I think Republicans are going to be hopefully communicating that to the president.

COOPER: It's so strange though because he is known for being usually so restrained in his --

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: -- indulging his appetites and desires.

JONES: One other thing. I really love hearing from those voters because, you know, we can get into their head and stuff like that. But those were actually undecided people in a really important state. One person said, I think it is really true, I wanted to learn something, and I couldn't learn.

COOPER: Yeah. So I had the first results of the exclusive instant poll of debate watchers. Do they think either candidate came out a winner? We will hear more from our focused group of undecided Ohio voters. Did any of them make up their minds tonight?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, we are getting a new verdict on how tonight's off- the-rails Trump-Biden debate played with viewers. David Chalian is joining us once again with the first results of CNN's exclusive instant poll. So, David, who won?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I am going to reveal that to you in just a moment. I just want to make clear for the audience that this is a poll of debate watchers. This is not a poll of the country at large. And in this sample of debate watchers, it was slightly more Democratic audience, 39 percent Democratic, 36 percent independent, 25 percent Republicans.

So we are seeing a slightly more Democratic audience in this group of debate watchers. And now, I can reveal to you, who won the debate tonight. Joe Biden, hands down. Sixty-percent of debate watchers say Joe Biden won the debate. Twenty-eight percent say Donald Trump won the debate.

And take a look at how this compares with expectations, Wolf. We asked these debate watchers going in, who do you think will win the debate? Well, for that, before the debate, you see there was 56 percent said Biden, 43 percent said Trump.

But again, look where it ended up, 60 percent said Biden won the debate, 28 percent said Trump won. He has significantly, the president, underperformed expectations of these debate watchers in this poll. We also asked who was more truthful in the debate. Sixty- five percent say Joe Biden. It seems these debate watchers agree with Daniel Dale and his fact checks here. Twenty-nine percent say Donald Trump.

And what about whose attacks were fairer on the other one, OK? Were Biden's attacks fair? Sixty-nine percent of these debate watchers say, yes, Biden's attacks were fair. Twenty-eight percent say no. The flip side of that, were Donald Trump's attacks fair? Only 32 percent, a third of debate watchers said, they were two-thirds of debate watchers, 67 percent, say, no, Donald Trump's attacks tonight in the debate were not fair. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very, very interesting indeed. Let's go back to Jake, Dana, and Abby. You know, Jake, clearly, Biden, he stood up to the president of the United States, he didn't back down at all, and he clearly didn't need a teleprompter.

TAPPER: That's right, Wolf. And I guess it's no surprise, Abby, that with a slightly more Democratic-leaning audience, as this poll had, not to mention just that utter embarrassment of a debate, that people would overwhelmingly say Biden won the debate and Donald Trump lost. But I have to say, I don't think it's so much that Joe Biden won the debate.

ABBY PHILLIP: Right.

TAPPER: I don't think he had any, like, outstanding moments. I don't think he commanded the stage. I think it's more just that Donald Trump lost it.

PHILLIP: Yeah.

TAPPER: And lost it aggressively and repeatedly and, frankly, offensively.

PHILLIP: Yeah. You could see it in the focus group when you looked at the show of hands. Nobody raised their hands. Most of them didn't raise their hands for either one of these candidates. And I think that that's a pretty accurate reflection of where we are.

I think tonight was a lot of missed opportunities for the president to clear up some real issues that he had, some vulnerabilities, especially on the coronavirus. He completely, completely missed an opportunity to really set the American public straight about whether he has this pandemic under control.

And, you know, don't take it from me. I mean, tonight, the president's campaign says that he turned in the greatest debate performance of presidential history. And then, there is Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who spent the weekend prepping the president for this debate, he said tonight on another network, I think on the Trump side, it was too hot.

So, even the people who are there for the president, they don't -- they didn't think that he did what he --

TAPPER: Except for the people paid --

PHILLIP: Whose jobs depend on it. TAPPER: (Inaudible) praise.

BASH: Right. I mean, it could have written by Donald Trump. I think the fact that --

TAPPER: Probably was.

BASH: Probably. The fact that the expectations in this instant poll versus the reality of what the people who are part of this saw is really telling. So before the debate, 56 percent of the people said that they thought that Joe Biden would win, but afterwards, 60 percent.

And then, more importantly, making your point, Jake, 43 percent said that they thought Trump would win, but afterwards, 28 percent. It was Donald Trump's debate to lose and he lost it.

TAPPER: Yeah, because he wasn't just debating Joe Biden. He was debating Chris Wallace, he was debating democracy, he was debating decency, he was debating truth and facts. I mean, he was opposed to everything. It was Donald Trump debating the concept of whether there should be debates.

[23:55:02]

BASH: I have to tell you. I'm curious to see what you have heard. I've gotten some texts from Republicans saying, you know, this is the kind of thing that we've heard from people who have come out of the administration and turned on the president, that this how he performs in private, and we've seen now a lot of that in public.

TAPPER: And I heard from a Republican congressman, Abby, who was embarrassed that the president asked the proud voice, the far-right, neo-fascists, to stand by.

PHILLIP: Well, that was really shameful, as we all have been saying. But, I mean, I don't think we should discount that, you know, some 20 something percent of people in this poll say they did like it. Many of those people are probably Republicans or the president's core supporters.

TAPPER: Absolutely. Still ahead, more takeaways from tonight's debate from CNN's instant poll and our focused group of undecided voters. Have they made up their minds after tonight? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)