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Bush Compares Domestic Violent Extremists To 9/11 Terrorists: "Children Of The Same Foul Spirit"; DeSantis Silent As Anti-Vax Myth Pushed At Press Conference; "Sara" In Contact With State Department But Still In Afghanistan. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 13, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So, the news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, thanks, John.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Now, 9/11 is heavy. 20-year anniversary is heavy. And there were many of you saying the right things. I appreciate what you said to me and about the occasion.

But there were still too many that were wearing "Never Forget" shirts. And yet, I was listening, I'm seeing people fighting, about stupid things, about lies and about misinformation. And it reminded me of a quote, because we're in a bad place. And I say that because I'm desperate for us to get to a better place.

Our chief want is someone, who will inspire us to be who we know we could be. That was true, in the Civil War era, when Emerson said it. And it is just as true now. That's a leader. That's the leadership we need. And we need a lot of leaders, because we can't stay where we are.

You all know it. You tell me all the time, for the sake of our economy, our kids, our health, our status, in the world, we can't keep getting weaker from the strains of division. And 9/11, 20 years on, is a window into who we once were, during hard times, and how we are now.

And the man, who led this country, 20 years ago, told you the truth, to mark the 20th anniversary.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come, not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.

There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life,

in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.


CUOMO: Bush was in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. You remember that. It's where Americans, and their allies, on board, took on terror, took down that plane, and saved who knows, how many, with their sacrifice.

And there we had a president, standing, where people gave everything, and reminding you that we have lost what's got us through that hard time.

Then came, the reminder of why we are, where we are, manifested in the appropriate agent for animus, Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The election was rigged. And that's what we got at. That's what we got at.

If they fought the war, the way they fought the election, where they stole it? I don't even say, "Stole it." They rigged it.


TRUMP: We would have had - this war would have been over 20 years ago.


CUOMO: He doesn't even know what he's talking about. He doesn't even know who he's talking about. His party was in charge on 9/11.

Even on 9/11, not even respecting the memory of the dead, or the first responders, he couldn't even spare them poison politics.

He went on to try to discredit Bush, and what he had said, by saying "He lectures us that terrorists on the 'right' are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. He shouldn't be lecturing us about anything. The World Trade Center came down during his watch."

That's what he is about, even on 9/11. And that, my brothers and sisters, and that's what we are. If we're not brothers and sisters here, then we are nothing at all. And to me, that's unacceptable. And I know it is to you as well.

But we got to see the difference, of what brought us together, out of common concern, and collective will, to come back, 20 years ago, when this country took on terror, when it held each other close.

We weren't perfect. We had tons of fights. The Bush administration with the "Yellowcake" BS, and all that, went to the wrong place, for wrong intensive purposes, but the commitment was there. Today, what do we see? We're pushing each other away. We're making ourselves sick, literally and politically.

The GOP of 9/11, which by the way, was in control, they led us to come together, and worked with Democrats, to keep us safe.

And then contrast that with what else you see, that shell, the soulless suggestion of what that party is today. "Everyone's the enemy. Everything's bad. Everyone's bad." No collective concern for anything but the demise of Democrats, and any perceived opponent.


The majority wants this to stop. The majority is vaccinated. The majority does what it has to, to keep themselves, and their families, and their communities, safe. So, when will the majority demand that the tyranny of a toxic minority end?

And yet, maybe we don't really want better. Most Republicans say they want Trump to remain as their leader, of their party, in our new poll, even after January 6th, even after a pandemic, he all, but ignored, that killed hundreds of thousands.

You need another reason to see why we need to get better? You may get one this week. There's quote, "Concerning online chatter," surrounding the September 18th "Justice for January 6th" event, because that means, I put it in quotes, that means the opposite of what it suggests.

"Justice for the 6th" should be a reckoning for a day of infamy and criminality in the name of Trump and toxic principle. Yet, the fevered few think those who attack the rest of us, in the crucible of our democracy, are somehow victims.

Capitol Police have issued an emergency declaration, to deputize outside law enforcement, temporary fencing, going up, around the citadel of our democracy, again.

Why? To prepare for what Bush rightly called "Children of the same foul spirit," like this guy.

Capitol Police just arrested a California man today, with a bayonet, and a machete, near the DNC headquarters. He had multiple knives, in his truck. He had a swastika, and all this other white supremacist BS.

We haven't had another attack, like 9/11, since that day, thank God. Thank God. But you got to ask yourselves, would we hold together, as we did, then? How sad is it that the answer for so many of us has to be not an obvious "Yes?"

Let's ask a better mind, where we are, and what it suggests about where we're going. David Gregory traveled with then-President Bush, on 9/11, 2001, as a member of the White House press corps.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME, brother. Let me ask you a question you pose to the rest of this country, and beyond? How is your faith, in where we are, and where we're headed?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HOW'S YOUR FAITH?": Well, we're in such a different time than we were at 9/11.

So, what I - my faith, in our collective belief, in who we are, in our institutions, is lower. I don't think that we have a sense of common cause in our national life. I don't think we have a sense that we're all in it together.

I think we're really pulled apart, in ways that our media has contributed to, that, governments contributed to, and that events have contributed to. So, I think it's a lot harder to, to pull in the same direction. And that's what I think is so regrettable.

You've talked a lot about 9/11. The thing that brings us together, as a country, is an external threat, and an attack. And that's what 9/11 was. That's what Pearl Harbor was. That's what the fight against Nazi Germany was. And I think we live in, in murkier times.

Even though I think our basic humanity is intact, in our communities, in terms of looking after each other, my faith is diminished, in our ability, for big institutions, to meet the challenges that we face.

And by big institutions, I mean, our politicians, our political parties, the ability, to try and to get to "We," over a collection of individual interests.

CUOMO: I asked David, "How's your faith?" It's the name of his book. It's really good.

No matter what your belief system is, it's a really good book, about suggestions, about faith, and what it means, and how it manifests itself, in life, as a virtue, no matter what the basis for it is.

So, you know George W. Bush. You covered him. He does not court controversy, especially post-presidency.


CUOMO: That was a very determined message, to give, on the 20th anniversary, of 9/11. He did not have to say any of those things, to check the box, of what was expected from him.

Were you surprised? And what do you think the motivation was?

GREGORY: Well, I think his motivation is that he wants what's best for the country, and that he wanted to speak out, at a time, and a place, of his choosing, to have some impact.


And I think, he, like a lot of Americans, and certainly, a lot of conservatives, and opponents and critics of Trump, found, as we all did, what happened, on January 6th, to be reprehensible, and to be something that simply cannot stand. And so, I think he used the power of his memory of, as being

president, on 9/11, to make that statement. I think that's what motivated it. And it was surprising, because he's gone out of his way, to stay out of that.

Number one, he's always believed that he should exit the stage, and stay off the stage. Two, I think that he understands that Trumpism was very much a reaction to him, to his strain of the Republican establishment, to launching the war on terror, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A lot of Trumpism was about a rejection of the Bush presidency. And so, I think he felt, in the Trump years, that he only would make things worse, if he had spoken out more.

CUOMO: It's interesting. His numbers were way better.

Vaughn, you got the numbers, right?

His low was the same as Trump's, about 34, which is usually about as low most presidents get.


CUOMO: But look at his mean average about where he was, when he was strong. This was their last rating, which is the same 34 percent.

But look at this, the average, 49 percent to 41 percent. It's interesting, that you're - you're not wrong. I mean, many, in this new era of the GOP, see Bush, as some kind of problem for them. But he rated a lot higher than their boy!

GREGORY: Well, right. But I think what's striking is that Trump is president to consolidated, kind of the core of the Republican Party. I think he lost a lot of that. And I think that says something about his relative weakness, going forward.

But even when he was elected, I remember, we were together, on election night, in 2016, the Republicans came home for Trump, and we didn't expect that. And I think they stayed around, for him, on things like the court, and taxes, and just a rejection of the Left.

But yes, I mean, Bush was - Bush suffered from a lot of things. But, certainly, by the end, it was the combination of Katrina, and Iraq, and a question of competence--

CUOMO: Right.

GREGORY: --around a--

CUOMO: But he won a second term. And you saw Trump lose everything.


CUOMO: Although I must have to say.


CUOMO: The Republicans did a lot better, in this last election, than they were expected to. And I think that's because this country is divided.

GREGORY: Right. And--

CUOMO: And we do have real concerns, in this country, about the Left, and how far it can push us.

Though I heard Trump say something this week, and I was surprised he said. I don't think he meant to say it.

He threw in some of his typical rhetoric about xenophobia, of these "Muslims, who hate us, coming here." He picked the wrong time to say that, because a lot of his supporters are in favor of bringing people back home, from Afghanistan, right now, including the allies.

And the idea, he was talking about people, from Afghanistan, coming to this country right now, and I think he misfired on that. I do not think he's going to find support for that, given the context of how many Veterans are trying to pull people, who helped America, out of that country, and get them to safety.

GREGORY: Yes, I agree with that. And for Trump, it's just "Let's add another group to be afraid of, and lump them in, and say that they're terrorists," you know? I mean, and it's - it's just it's a - it's without any merit at all.

Let's remember, going back to the earlier point, that Bush wins reelection in 2004, really, around the strength is still around fear.

Karl Rove used to say, "If the question is the war on," you know, "is terrorism, the answer is George W. Bush." And he was still considered strong enough. And Iraq hadn't turned badly enough for it to hurt him, in 2004.

And that's a key thing, right? I mean, the idea that fear of an external threat rallied Americans, to such degree, but that unity came apart, because of the government's response, because of torture, Abu Ghraib, the war in Iraq, the excesses of digging into privacy, all of that unity started to fray.

And yet, I was watching "60 Minutes," last night, and the story of the firefighters, from the FDNY, and the 343, who died, I mean, you're just reminded of how bonded together we were.

That's not what Trump ever accomplished, because what he did is reach to a narrow group of people, to say "You must be afraid of all these different people." But there was nothing - people didn't buy into that, not enough people, only enough, yes, to get him elected.

But I still think it's still a smaller part of what the GOP is, to your point, about the counter reaction, on Afghans.

CUOMO: Right. And I'll tell you, he came out now. He's a former president. He wasn't with the other former presidents. He was meeting with the first responders.


CUOMO: He wasn't there during 9/11, when it first happened, I'll tell you. I don't know where he was. But he did not - Donald Trump was not a force of any type of common concern, and collective will, during that time.

I lived it. I was here.


CUOMO: All of the big shots in this city--



CUOMO: --were trying to help out. He wasn't in a position of power. I'm not saying - he wasn't in politics. But I'm saying he's a president. He can speak about whatever he wants. But when 9/11 happened, he was no big presence.


CUOMO: Last word to you.

GREGORY: Yes, I mean, and it's so sad for our institution, of the presidency, that we have a former president, who is still acting like he's kind of on parade, in a carnival, as opposed to trying, at least, to be some kind of a statesman, which is why, people have lots of different views about President Bush, if you go back to his presidency.

But you and I have talked, for years, about what do you worry about a president? How would they handle a 9/11? And that is a test. It's the things you don't plan for. And Trump had that on the pandemic, on COVID. And Bush had it on 9/11. And people have made their judgments, about how all that went.

CUOMO: One got a second term! One's Donald Trump!

David Gregory, thank you very much.


CUOMO: The book, again, is "How's Your Faith?" Especially now, good read!

GREGORY: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well, brother.

GREGORY: You too.

CUOMO: The Democratic Party-- GREGORY: All right, brother.

CUOMO: --is about to face one of its biggest tests, since the November election. This recall matters. Gavin Newsom, out in California, will he survive? The last time they tried this, in California, it worked. Remember? Schwarzenegger!

But the Wizard of Odds is here to show us how Republicans would need to make a different kind of history, to win this time. It's time to pay attention, next.









CUOMO: Tomorrow is California's recall vote, after early voting. The state's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom is hoping to stave off Republican-backed efforts, to oust him.

Remember how it works, right? It's two steps. One is do you want the governor out? If he loses that vote, then you go to the second question of who do you want to be the governor?

He's come under scrutiny, Newsom, for his handling of the pandemic and recent wildfires. Things really came to a head, last November, when Newsom was caught, enjoying a lavish dinner, with friends, at an expensive French restaurant, while the state was under partial lockdown.

Despite the backlash, and the Gotcha media, Newsom is still polling ahead at 56 percent. That's eight points better than only a month ago.

His closest challenger is a shocker, conservative radio host, Larry Elder. He has long been the subject of controversy, surrounding public statements he's made, over the years.

Here's just a taste.


LARRY ELDER, (R) CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR IN CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTION: I've always felt that minorities and women complain too much about racism and sexism.

Like it or not, slavery was legal. And so, their property, their legal property, was taken away from them, after the - after the Civil War.

So, you can make an argument that the people that are owed reparations, and not only just Black people, but also the people whose, quote, "Property," close quote, was taken away, after - after the end of the Civil War.

I think that I would rather have a George Zimmerman living in my neighborhood.

This is why people profile. Instead of being angry at George Zimmerman, be angry at the minority--


ELDER: --the thug who's committing these kinds of crime.


ELDER: There are all sorts of reasons why the 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans. And my fear is they're going to try that, in this election, right here, and recall.

JACOB SOBOROFF, CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS AND MSNBC: Whether or not you win or lose, will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: I think we all ought to be looking at election integrity.


CUOMO: Now, now that he's got a chance, right, that he's polling high, Elder's softening his talk, makes sense.

You see this? This shows you the stake.


CUOMO: President of the United States, Joe Biden just landed, in Long Beach, California. You know why? Because the recall has everybody worried.

Joining me now is the Wizard of Odds, Harry Enten, to give us a preview of what may happen, tomorrow, and explain, "Why do you care? I don't live in California."

All right, Wiz, so, when we look at this, here's my concern, the polls. Should we be giving stock to the polls, in this context? And what do you take from them?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I give stock to the polls. And, right now, we know that a majority of voters say they're going to vote against recall. It's 56 percent to 41 percent.

And take a look here. If you look back at all the gubernatorial elections, since 1998, with a polling miss of 15 points or more, it's just four out of 243 times. Now, obviously, this is a recall. It's an off-year election. But this

number puts it in context. If the governor gets recalled tomorrow, it is going to be a polling miss, for the ages.

Gavin Newsom is heavily-favored. That doesn't mean he'll necessarily win. But it would be quite surprising to me, as someone who studies the numbers.

CUOMO: How is Elder doing? And why is he doing well?

ENTEN: Well, what is doing well, right? He leads in that second round. But that doesn't necessarily mean that most of the people, who say they're going to vote in the second round, want him.

Look at that. He's only at 31 percent of the vote. Someone else/Blank/Don't know, at 69 percent of the vote. Compare that to the last recall, right? In 2003, that Schwarzenegger one, look at the final poll, back then. He was at 46 percent of the vote. 15 points ahead of where Elder is right now.

So that when voters are not just wondering about whether or not I want to - who I want to vote for, in the second round, but who do I want to vote for, in the first round, they got to realize, "Hey, maybe I don't necessarily want to Elder."

That wasn't really a problem for Schwarzenegger, back in 2003, when there were plenty of voters who said, "You know what? I'm willing to take a chance on him."

CUOMO: So, it's interesting, as I'm looking at the numbers here, maybe the "Going full Trump," the way Elder is, isn't going to work in California, as we've seen it work in other places.

Schwarzenegger was a moderate. And there's nothing moderate about Larry Elder. So, maybe that's not working as well, at least in this one race.

ENTEN: I don't believe it's working as well. And here's the best way to know it's not working well.


Look at the trend line, in round one, versus the trend line in round two, right? Round one is where you have to ask, "OK. Do I actually want to recall the governor?"

And look at this. A month ago, look at that, against the recall was just at 48 percent, and Elder was at 20 percent. Then look at the trend line, 10 days ago, against recall, 52 percent. Elder went up 25 percent, then Elder's at 31 percent now, 56 percent against recall.

As voters have been seeing Elder gain ground, in the second round, they're going, "Wait a minute. I don't want to go there. I don't want a chance that we might have Larry Elder as our governor." And that has very much been beneficial to Gavin Newsom. And I think one of the large reasons that Newsom has regained some strength, in the polls, is because voters are recognizing that if he is in fact recalled, Larry Elder is going to be one, who's going to replace him. And, in a Democratic state, like California, the voters want no part of that.

CUOMO: Newsom was getting picked on, for not talking about himself enough. And ironically, you had people on the Right, saying, "You know, all he's doing is saying about what's wrong with the people on the Right." It worked though. It's been moving his numbers. Fear sells!

Now, larger implication, what's the President doing in California? This is just one governor seat. Why do they care so much?

ENTEN: Well, I think there're multiple reasons. I mean, one is, yes, you want a Democratic governor, in the largest, most populated state, in the Union. But it could also have federal implications, right?

We have already seen Gavin Newsom appoint one person to the United States Senate. He may, in fact, appoint another one, down the line. We don't know what might happen.

But more than that, it's about nationalizing the race. This is what Gavin Newsom wants to do. And you can see this. Look at this. "Senators in States won by the other party in the last presidential election," there are just six of those, just six of those, at this particular point.

Look back in 2003. It was 29. Voters were far more willing to give a shot to a Republican governor, who might appoint a Republican senator than they are now.

So, this is just smart strategy from Gavin Newsom. Nationalize the race. We've seen it work in the polls. We'll obviously have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

But, right now, Gavin Newsom has the right message, at least if you believe the polls. And you know what? I do. At least enough of the (ph) the event, that I would think that Gavin Newsom will not be recalled tomorrow. Again, it would just take such a large error for that to happen.

CUOMO: So, if he gets the majority tomorrow, then there is no second phase.


CUOMO: He stays governor.

ENTEN: That's exactly correct.

CUOMO: Right.

ENTEN: You don't get a round two, if the round one says "No," to the recall. CUOMO: Right. Harry Enten, the Wizard of Odds, thank you, brother. Appreciate you.

ENTEN: Yes. Thank you, my friend.

CUOMO: All right, to another governor saga, Florida's Ron DeSantis just allowed some wild COVID misinformation, to spread, from his own microphone. And he's issuing new threats, to those following presidential guidance, to help end this pandemic.

I want to take you through this. Don't say "DeSantis is a dummy." He's an Ivy League-educated lawyer, who served this country. He knows what he's doing. The question is why is he doing it? Next.









CUOMO: The danger that COVID poses to your kids, and mine, is rising, quote, "Exponentially," OK? The American Academy of Pediatrics reports childhood cases increased 240 percent, just since July. We know why. They're going back to school.

And kids now account for almost 29 percent of all cases in this country. We know why? Because they're not vaccinated, many of them, and they're going back to school. Yet, too many on the Right, are choosing to prolong the pain, merely in the name of politics.

Case in point, Mr. Don't Fauci Florida himself, Governor Ron DeSantis, tellingly chose to stand silently by, while this nonsense took place, at his own press conference, today.

Listen to this.


DARRIS FRIEND, ELECTRICAL UTILITY EMPLOYEE: The vaccine changes your RNA. So, for me, that's a problem. So, I'm here with you, folks. We don't want to have the vaccine. It's about our freedom and liberty.


CUOMO: DeSantis knows that's BS. He's a smart guy. He's got experts, giving him the truth. He's Harvard- and Yale-educated. He's a lawyer. He knows, which may be why he started staring, at the ground, and shoving his hand in his pocket.

When it was done, and he returned to the mic, did he correct what that guy was just saying, about how the vaccine changes your genetics? No. He shook the guy's hand, and thanked him for coming. And that is beneath the office.

All of this, byway, comes as DeSantis is making it harder to do the one thing we know that works, to get people vaccinated, mandates. 77 percent of workers say they will or have gotten the shot, if their employer requires it.

Look, I don't know about you. I am not in any hurry to have the government tell me how to live my life. But what was Plan B, here, in a state with less than 10 percent of ICU beds available?

DeSantis is now threatening to fine cities and counties that refuse to let a minority, of both parties, dictate the danger, the rest of us face? And instead require employees get vaccinated.

The irony here, at the same time, the Right is slamming Biden, for fining companies, who don't adhere to vaccine mandates, whether it's been masks for kids, or the vaccines, DeSantis keeps trying to frame this, as a matter of choice, while taking away the choice of local officials, to do what works.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It's our belief that this should be a parent's choice.

What's basically a personal choice.

I think it's their choice.

I think that should be the choice of the parent.


CUOMO: Yes. But choices have consequences. Choose, not to get your kids vaccinated, you don't get to go to public schools, or pretty much any school, right?

You don't have to take the vaccine. That's not what's being done here. But you don't get to not do, what keeps everybody else safe, and then get to live the way that you want to, because you are forcing the rest of us, not to live the way that we want.


The choice DeSantis is making, OK, just as he stood silent, in the face of BS, he knows isn't true, is to play this to advantage, even if it works to the disadvantage of so many that are under his care.

While the number of deaths, in his state, keep heading in the wrong direction, he is being defiant of what is right. And it raises a question. Do these defiant governors, who are all on the Right, really want to prolong the pandemic? Do they really believe it won't come back to haunt them one day?

Let's take it to a man, who is dead in the middle, Michael Smerconish, next.








CUOMO: It's interesting place Republicans find themselves in. They finally made inroads, on their crusade, to overturn Roe v. Wade. That is a very real situation. Remember, stare decisis only means what the next set of judges, who review the law, want it to mean.


That Texas ruling, from the Supreme Court that tells you that Roe v. Wade is in play. And yet, we aren't seeing many Republicans throw parades, about this small victory. Why? Because, like their, vaccine mandate pushback, they know they're playing small ball. They're catering to a minority. And the actions that come with the talk could also come with a heavy price.

The question now is, will they wind up, owning these decisions, and losing, because of them? Let's discuss with Michael Smerconish.

Now, Smerc, this is a little bit on the abortion side, reproductive rights side, little tricky. Let's do that second.

On the vaccine side, DeSantis stands next to a guy, who just runs some BS, about what the vaccine does to your body. He knows it's not true. But he says nothing. Because what is his play?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, "MICHAEL SMERCONISH PROGRAM" ON SIRIUSXM: Well, I see the issues similarly. I see the abortion issue and the vaccine issue, in the same light, which is, and I love the way that you just set it up, it's a short game. It's not a long game.

You can sell this to the base. You can sell this, in primary season, if you're running for the presidency. This is not a strategy, for winning a general election, in a presidential race.

And the best I can offer you, Chris, is to say that they think they'll worry about it later, because in the short-term, they're all toeing the exact same line. Ask yourself this. Why doesn't former president Donald Trump own the vaccine? Why isn't this, his issue, 24x7? Why isn't he the one, out there, talking about Operation Warp Speed, which by the way, I think he's got a right to do. But he hardly ever brings it up.

And the reason is, because like the rest of those, on the Right, he's afraid of that base. He doesn't want to antagonize them.

In Alabama, a couple of weeks ago, he raised the prospect of people getting vaccinated. And when there were a couple of catcalls, from the audience, he immediately backed off, and said, "Hey, you know, it's your choice," just like that guy, who was speaking before DeSantis.

So, it's all about driving the base, and not a long-term strategy of winning general elections.

CUOMO: Now, the vaccine is a new issue. Reproductive rights, is not. And the operative understanding, for the Right, has been, talk the talk, but you're not going to walk the walk. So, you get it both ways.

You're not going to piss off the majority, including their own party that does not want reproductive rights completely stripped from women. But you get to say the right things, for the Christian value set.

What happens if the law does change?

SMERCONISH: Right. So, this is a "Be careful what you wish for." And as I was listening to you, describe the background circumstances, I was thinking on Ronald Reagan's watch.

Remember, Reagan, as president, very pro-life, in his philosophy. But every year, Chris, there used to be a gathering. There still is, on Capitol Hill, of pro-right - of pro-life forces.

And it always struck me that Ronald Reagan would communicate with them, sitting in the Oval Office, instead of going out, and making an appearance, before the group. And I think that said a lot.

It was always pay lip service, keep everybody at arm's length, do what you need to do, to keep the evangelicals in the tent, but don't get too close.

This Texas situation is frightening for Republicans. And I think they know it. You could never sell in suburbia, a six-week time frame. The Mississippi law, now, that I think is the more significant challenge, at 15 weeks.

I do not believe that the Supreme Court is going to pay heed to the Texas law. I know about the 5-4 vote. That law was very cleverly crafted, so that it really couldn't be challenged, at an early stage. And they were careful, in that, 400-word order, to say that they weren't necessarily buying into the constitutionality of it.

I say keep your eye on Mississippi, the 15 weeks, and what develops there. I don't expect Roe will be totally overturned. But if it were, I think it brings out Democrats, in droves, in the midterm and presidential elections.

CUOMO: Probably not just Democrats.

Put up the numbers, from Quinnipiac, recently in May, about where people are, on this issue. And we've actually seen, even among Catholics, a movement on this.

The '73 Roe v. Wade, do you agree or not agree with? It's 63 percent/28 percent. Those are not the kinds of numbers, where you find yourself wanting to engage the 28 percent.

But this is the interesting play here. I mean, I really believe, so far, in terms of issues, this is the most, stark one that goes to what you talk about all the time, Mike, which is what is the cost of catering to a minority?


SMERCONISH: Right. And I guess the response to that would be that despite what your numbers show that the passion on the issue, if you could pull passion, within those numbers, you would find that that meter would swing more toward conservatives.

Historically, the court issue, talking about who you want to appoint justices, to the Supreme Court, has been a Republican issue, more than a Democratic issue, in the last couple of decades.

I think Roe is different. I think this is the one judicial legal issue that would really have a reverse effect, and pose harm, to the GOP, even if they won't say so today.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. There are very few issues that unite all three generations of women in my family. And it never gets to the idea of the pregnancy. It's "You don't tell me."

They don't even want to hear me talking about it, to be honest. But it's "You don't tell me what I do with my body." A 90 - my mother's 62-years-old, and my wife is very young, and my daughter is 18.

SMERCONISH: Yours and mine.

CUOMO: And all three of them, it'll be interesting to see what happens, if this court takes that law away, then where's the passion?

Michael Smerconish, always a pleasure, brother. I almost got myself in real trouble there, with the ages. But I didn't!

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, the first hearing, on our ugly exit, from Afghanistan, was held today, on the Hill.

The Secretary of State came. He had a lot to say. Now - he didn't come actually. And that was part of the thing that he didn't come in person. But Tony Blinken reassured that "We," meaning America, is going to bring home, all the Americans and Afghan allies. Plus, an update on "Sara," the trapped American, the former interpreter, we've had her on this program. I got a veteran, who's trying to help her, and what the reality is, of the politics, on the ground, next.









CUOMO: Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping the Veterans and the allies. It's not Left and Right. It's just reasonable. And the reasonable thing to do is everything we can, to get Americans, and allies, back here.

An update, on the American, stranded in Afghanistan, who we've been calling "Sara," the former interpreter. She's an American citizen. She doesn't want to leave without being able to take some of the kids, who qualify, she says, for an SIV visa.

She sent a new video, showing her and the kids that she's still trying to get out. Faces are blurred, again, because there is danger. We don't want people to be able to identify them. But I do want you to be able to relate to the need. They've been able to get some food and, we're told, some medicine.

The bigger news is that Sara has been in touch with the State Department. Good news!

Let's bring in Sam Rogers, one of the Veterans, whose group is working with other groups, and other Veterans, and allies, to help people, like Sara, and these kids, get out of there.

Sam, it's good to have you. Again, thank you for what you're doing.


CUOMO: What's the update?

ROGERS: So, Sara has had a couple of conversations with the State Department.

Though I have to be honest, her feedback, from the State Department, is directly in conflict, with Secretary Blinken's comments today that "We will continue the relentless efforts, to help Americans, Afghans, and foreign nationals, who want to leave."

She's under the impression that she's the only one, who can get out. And she's dealing with some really crippling guilt, and some challenging questions, of does she leave these people behind? And can she?

CUOMO: Now, let's talk about the legitimacy here. The people she wants to help? What do you know about paperwork, in any way, of verifying that they have, not the right, but the credentials that America would smile on, in terms of helping people?

ROGERS: Right, Chris. So, we've made available, everything we've got, Military identification, letters of recommendation, from Military officers, who, these translators, and their family served under.

And we've made all that available to not only the State Department, but some of these other groups, who are working diligently, to try to find them options, to get out of the country.

CUOMO: So, when they say "No, you can't bring them with you," what is their reason?

ROGERS: There hasn't been - there hasn't been one yet. She's hoping, she's praying that they're going to reach back out, and let her know what options she has.

But, in the meantime, that communication, they're really only willing to communicate directly with her, not through any intermediaries, which, for security and privacy purposes, I understand, although it does make our job more challenging.

CUOMO: Can she identify you as an agent?

ROGERS: That's something that's - that's something that we could explore.

But, right now, she's in a place with no power, with limited connectivity. There's a lot of - there's a lot of really pressing challenges, which is really the whole idea of flying people, to these third-party countries, in the first place.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: To do that initial round of vetting that can't be done safely in Afghanistan.

CUOMO: So, you believe, you know, I mean, she's very passionate. Do you believe her when she's saying, "I'm not leaving, if I can't take these kids. I'll go talk to the Taliban, before I do that."

ROGERS: I can feel the pain in her voice, when I talk to her on the phone. I can hear the exhaustion in her voice.

She doesn't want to leave these people. She doesn't believe that it's in our DNA, as Americans. She's proud of being an American. And she doesn't believe that that's part of the American idea. And I don't think that - I don't think that Americans feel that way either.

I think that nor- - here's how normal people feel about this, Chris. Over the Labor Day weekend, CVA Foundation, set up a booth, at the House of Harley-Davidson, in Milwaukee, to tell people about this issue, and collect refugee supplies.


People said, "A biker rally's a weird place to try to collect supplies for Afghanistan refugees." We talked to over 2,500 people in a weekend. And they donated $150,000 worth of supplies.

CUOMO: I believe it. I believe it.

ROGERS: And that's what goes to--

CUOMO: Because the country made a promise.

ROGERS: A 100 percent.

CUOMO: Country made a promise.

ROGERS: It's who we are.

CUOMO: Yes. Country made a promise.

ROGERS: It's who we are. It's what we do.

CUOMO: This is not Left/Right. Bikers, they care about their country, like everybody else. It's just being reasonable.

Sam Rogers, we'll stay on it, and thank you.

ROGERS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: We'll be right back with the handoff.








CUOMO: It's a very interesting principle, distilled by Michael Smerconish, tonight. What does somebody want to own in politics? Look around, and see what do different people, who want you to listen to them, what do they want to own?

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts with its big star D. Lemon right now.

D is very familiar with this idea. What do you want to own? Do you want to own that the vaccine was bad? I don't think so. Not long-term.