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Don Lemon Tonight

Andrew Gillum Wins Florida Democratic Primary For Governor; Arizona 2018 Senate Republican Primary; Florida Gubernatorial Primary; Trump Warns Of Violence If GOP Loses Midterms. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 23:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It is the top of the hour, I am Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast, live with all the breaking news. Here it is, CNN projects how a mayor Andrew Gillum will win the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida, taking another step toward becoming the state's first black chief executive. And we are also monitoring the primary results, that race in Arizona tonight. Let us get right to it now, joining us now on the phone is Mayor Gillum. Mayor, good evening to you and congratulations.

ANDREW GILLUM, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Thank you so much Don. I tell you it has been an amazing evening, but moreover, it has been an incredible 18 months as we move across the states to red and blue and purple areas. It makes the case as to why regular everyday working people deserve their seat at the table and we won tonight.

LEMON: So, let's talk more specifically now, because, you know, it is a huge offset. You were out spent and you ran to the left of the crowd of field here including the former senator and governor's daughter, how did you win?

GILLUM: Well, I tell you I think my opponent collectively spent $90 million to our state in this race. And you know, we just kept, my wife refers to me as sea biscuit. You know, we were counted out at many point and people thought that we would not make it. But we kept going slow and steady retailing our way all across the state of Florida, a state of 20 million people. People did not think we had a chance, but we did. Thanks to out pouring support again from regular, everyday working people who basically decided that they have had enough of losing, they have had enough of the status quo and they wanted a candidate who is not necessarily perfect, but one who reflects their values and one who reflects the everyday life experiences of the people in this state. That is what we try to deliver and all over the state, that message carried.

LEMON: All right, so let me ask you this, because I had Van Jones a short time ago who spoke very highly of you and said, don't underestimate and don't count you out, because if you do, then, you know, you are out of your mind. Everyone is analyzing this to debt saying you know, he won in the

population centers, especially with the population centers if you look at it among demographic, among African-Americans. And, you know van said to me just now, he texted me and said Obama is black and won Florida twice, you need to remind people of that. What do you say to that?

GILLUM: Well, I mean, I think he is completely right. We had 20 years of losses and five consecutive Democratic nominees for governor who have all come up short and again, no offense to any of them. I work for all of them and wanted to see all of them win. But the truth is running with Republican like in the state of Florida is not a strategy for winning.

The strategy for winning is by speaking to our voters, by giving our voters something to go out and vote for and not just against. We go to move more black voters, more brown voters, more young voters, more progressive voters, all of those voters to the polls and I have to tell you, Don, it has been my experience that whether we are in red parts of the state or blue parts of the state or purple parts of the states, folks are frustrated. 44 percent of the people of the state of Florida says they can't make ends meet.

Our average teachers' pay is the state of Florida is the 45th lowest out of 50 states. That is a shame. My belief is, is that every part of the state fills that message and they feel it personally, because it hits them and home them in their pockets books. And if we continue to move around this state and the places where we are welcome and maybe some places that don't feel so comfortable, talking about how it is that we are going to transform this state into one network from the more than just the will and the well connected, but for everybody, that is how we are going to win in November.

LEMON: Listen. Be honest with me, I am here in New York, right and you are down in Florida and you said when you go to, you know, the red parts of the state as wells as the blue parts of the states, people listen. Are people receptive to your message even Trump voting Republicans in Florida receptive to your message as you have been out and about in the states?

GILLUM: We found people extremely receptive to our messages. I mean, I went and campaigned in the villages which is one of the fastest growing more conservative part of the state. People are like what are you doing in the villages, well, there are voters in the village and they understand when they're getting a bad deal.

We had Barack Obama who tried to send this state $2.4 billion to build the high speed road across the corridor. That was not a Democrats or Republican decision. It was in my opinion in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida to bring that money in the state of Florida. We had an opportunity to expand Medicaid for over 700,000 of the most medically needed people in our state, pulling down nearly $6 billion from the federal government. We failed to do that and what I said to folks again and all parts of the state that it does not have to be a red or blue or purple issues. The job of the governor of the state of Florida is to do what has been the interests of all the people of the state of Florida.

[23:05:10] That is what I am committed to doing. I am a Democratic, but most importantly I am a Floridian who wants to build a state that has room for everybody. That message is what we talked about throughout the primary. We are going to double down on that into the general and for voters who again will find me not a candidate, they can choose maybe for superficial reasons, you know, god bless them.

But my belief is that there are more voters with basic and common sense values. We believe that we can do the right thing in this state and again when? And that is what gotten us this far and that is what allow for tonight's offset and I believe that is what is going to make me even the next governor of the great state of Florida.

LEMON: I have to ask, I would be derelict of my duties as journalist, do you think you are riding an anti-Trump play?

GILLUM: I didn't talk a whole bunch about Trump as I move around the state. We all know that the president is uniquely unqualified to the position that he holds. He is dangerous to himself and to the country, in my opinion. But what we talked about everyday issues and confronting people and the truth is for the communities that we got to motivate and the communities that we got to move and inspire, they feel like they had it worse before Trump and it has been bad for quite some time for them and what they want to know is what are you going to do for me and how do you make sure that I can work one job instead of multiple jobs as a way to make ends meet.

What are we going to do to ensure that get access to affordable healthcare. And affordable housing and 24th century transportation. Those are the issues that I have tried to concentrate on and that is what allowed us to propel ourselves to victory and come behind candidate to win this Democratic nomination making history of the first person of color to lead the Democratic Party towards the November election.

When we get there -- not if, but when we get to the November fixed elections. We fully anticipate that we will be able to capture the hearts and the minds and consciousness and quite frankly the entrance of everyday Floridians who wants a state that better represents them and that would deliver a better future for themselves and for their families.

LEMON: This is Senator Bernie Sanders, helped you, endorsed you, we can tell you that he tried to reach out to you tonight to congratulate you, but could not get through. Have you seen the statement about you? About your win?

GILLUM: You know, I have not yet --

LEMON: Let me read it to you. And I will get your response.

It says congratulations to Andrew Gillum on his victory tonight. What has made Andrew's campaign so powerful is that he is not just working hard to win the election, he has laid out a vision for a new course of the state of Florida and our country. No one person can take on the economic and political leads on their own. Tonight, Floridians joining Andrew in standing up and demanding change in their community. That is what political revolution is about and Andrew Gillum is helping to lead it. What do you say to that?

GILLUM: Wow, well, I will tell you. I am honored and obviously humbled by the support of the Senator. He didn't have to do what he did. I mean I literally went out and campaigned for Hillary Clinton and I endorsed her. I was a surrogate for her. I spoke at her convention, in was on the list, the 40 names that people being considered for vice president and in spite of all of that, the senator said that I was the best candidate to lead forward and came into her state and campaign alongside me.

He showed a lot of character, a lot of strengths and quite frankly there are a lot of comparisons between our message and I think what we showed is that our candidacy has the ability to bring together the Hillary wing and the Barack Obama wing and the Bernie Sanders' wing if you will. If you believe in those factions in our Party, bring those folks together and honestly, if we are going to win in November, we have to have a nominee, a candidate that can bring those folks together and quite frankly bring some others, some dis-effective Republicans right along with us. But the way we are going to do it is by capitulating and shrinking from what believe but by giving our voters a reason to go out and vote for something. I think that is what we offer in November.

LEMON: I got to ask you, just be honest. You are vowing to be the first black governor of Florida. That is really a big deal. Can you imagine?

GILLUM: Well, I will tell you, I am vowing to be the next governor of the state of Florida and it just so happens to be black.

LEMON: Nice.

GILLUM: I honestly think that there is something happening in this country and even in these dark days of Donald Trump that in the south with candidates like Stacey Abrams and with candidates like Ben and me here in Florida that the new south is being recreated and is being led by the very people that help built the south in the first place. And I just think there is something pretty powerful and poetic about that. But the way we are going to win this race is making sure that voters know that I am going to be the governor for everybody and not just some, but for all.

LEMON: That is as good of an answer as I have ever gotten from anyone here on CNN. That is a perfect way to end it. Congratulations, good luck to you. Please join us again here on CNN and especially congratulations.

LEMON: I look forward to it, Don. Thank you so much. We are going to bring it home.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

Andrew Gillum winning tonight and joining other politicians of color on the ballot come November.

[23:10:05] I want to bring in now CNN Politics Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza and also CNN Political Commentator, Symone Sanders. There you have it. Very well spoken.

Symone, good evening to you, good evening to you as well Chris. The state of Florida has had a Democratic Governor since 1990, you heard what he said, yes I am going to be the governor of the state who happens to be black and you know, come on this program and you talked about what Democrats are doing to turn out younger voters, turn out progressive voters, is this working? Is this a sign that it is working?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I definitely think it is a sign that is working, Don. Look, I know Andrew Gillum personally and I supported him. I am so excited -- I could not help, but smile throughout the interview that he just did with you, because that is -- those are the types of candidates that Democrats are filling this fall, those are the types of people that we are putting up, the Andrew Gillum of the world, the Stacey Abrams and the Laurie Underwoods, the Sharid David, the Ben Jealous, the list goes on.

These are the folks of the future of the Democratic Party. Folks are taking notice and understanding that yes, candidates of color can win all over this country. And that is what the candidacy of Andrew Gillum in my opinion and Stacey Abrams just to name two are effective.

LEMON: I got to ask you Chris, I had April, he said the same thing, he talked about candidate in the south. April Ryan said the south shall rise again, he says they're the people who helped build the south. It is interesting. What do you think?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I think you can't help, but think of Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, he mentioned it Ben Jealous as well in Maryland. But I think you would think of the two of them, you got a really fascinating dynamic in the fall, Don.

Because you have in Georgia and Florida, you don't just have young African-American Democratic nominee who's trying to be the first black governor of a state in the south. You also have on the Republican side a very loyal Trump supporters. Ron DeSantis, he got a little bit over shadowed with Andrew Gillum. Ron DeSantis nobody thought he would win until Donald Trump stepped in and saying he is my guy. We went to beating the establishment guy and now you going to have, we talked about this after Georgia, I remember that you will have a clear choice, you will have a clear choice here too. I think it speaks to where the two parties are. We are going to see which one has more power.

SANDERS: Yes, it looks like the right aligned themselves with conspiracy theories and white supremacists and the agenda that is not for the working people of America and the left is for the working people.

LEMON: Hold those thoughts. Arizona, let's not forget about that. We'll talk about it right after the break. [23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: More breaking news tonight, three Republicans buying for the chance to fill the Senate seat vacated by retiring Jeff Flake. All three of them, Congress Martha McSally, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward, all of them are Trump supporters.

So, I want to go now to CNN's Senior National Correspondent, Kyung Lah. She is at Martha McSally headquarters in Arizona. Also, CNN Political Reporter, Rebecca Berg is at Kelli Ward headquarters in Scottsdale. Good evening to both of you.

Kyung, you are at the front runner headquarters of Martha McSally, so what's going on? Fill us in.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You could hear some of the cheering that is happening right behind me. This is a packed house tonight, they are feeling very good about the first number that are coming into the Secretary of State's office. They feel that the very first numbers show that Martha McSally will be taking the night tonight. They believe she is the front runner throughout this primary that has been a very tough primary.

But I looked over at McSally staffer, she gave me a big thumbs up. A big smile, they believe she will be coming out here to give a victory speech shortly. So, they are just waiting for a bit more time and a bit more of a comfortable lead. But they think this night is going to be going their way. You can hear it yourself, Don. This is a very happy room.

LEMON: We certainly can when you put the numbers up on your screen, we heard it. Kyung, I want you to standby, because I want to bring in now Rebecca. Rebecca, you are at Kelli Ward's headquarters - what's the mod there?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is right Don, well, it is a little bit subdued at the moment earlier this hour, Kelli Ward actually came up on stage and address her supporters that the results were starting to trickle in sort of rallying the troops through the night ahead and make no mistake, Don, Kelli Ward is the underdog here tonight.

It could have been a different race, but a crucial turning point in this Senate race was the decision by Joe Arpaio to toss his hat in the ring essentially leading the anti-establishment vote between Kelli Ward and Sheriff Joe Arpaio that is what we are seeing so far in the results tonight with Martha McSally covering around 50 percent of the vote.

The other wild card in this race, of course was President Donald Trump, Kelli Ward has been an ardent supporter, vocal supporter of the President, has framed herself as such during the primary and there was some question whether the President as he has in other primaries which is trying to toss his opinion into this race and weigh in on this race either for Kelli Ward or Sheriff Joe Arpaio who of course, he pardoned previously. But the President decided not to weigh in that race, something that

Republicans believes ultimately helps make McSally boosted her over the finish line here and Republicans, Don, are breathing a sigh of relief in Washington. This is a key Senate race for them and they believe that Kelli Ward would have been less electable ultimately than Martha McSally.

LEMON: Yes, they need someone who could win in the general.

[23:20:00] Thank you, both. We will get back to you as need be here on CNN.

Back now with us Chris Cillizza and Symone Sanders and also joining us, CNN Political Commentator, Charlie Dent, a former Congressman from Pennsylvania.

Congressman, it is good to have you on, having been here. Having been in Washington political life, can you read on this three candidate buying for Jeff Flake's seat?

CHARLIE DENT (R-PA), FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: OK. It is an interesting contrast here, in Arizona, the senate more or less tell Martha McSally the center right candidate, first and center, Democratic side interest. In Florida, you have a Bernie Sanders Democrat and you have a Donald Trump Republican.

So, good news for the Republicans in Arizona tonight that the two French candidates Arpaio and Ward where seems to be soundly defeated. So, overall, Republicans probably are as you said earlier breathing a sigh of relief. Now, she had attack a bit further to the right that she would like in the primary, given that she was dragged over there by her two opponents. She has to work to try to better center herself of the general election.

LEMON: Ward certainly did not do herself any favor this week especially as it relates to John McCain.

DENT: That is correct. Yes, she mishandled that horribly to speak that way of this great Senator, just wonderful statesmen. You know so ungracious. But at the end of the day, this race was not trending well for Ward and McSally looks like she was in good shape, you know prior to the Senator's death.

LEMON: So, Congressman, Arizona's trump runner, Martha McSally, was praised by the president earlier this month and she embraced that. Here is part of her ad, watch it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My friend, Martha McSally, she is the real deal. She is tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like our president, I am tired of PC politicians and their B.S. excuses, I am a fighter pilot and I talk like one. That is why I tell Republicans, grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen it is interesting that McSally, she would not publicly enforce Trump or even say she voted for him. Has McSally done enough to win over Trump's base, congressman?

DENT: Well, I think right now, the challenge for McSally is she is very -- she can be very direct as she was in that commercial. She always struck me as having a very pragmatic side. I worked with her, I think on immigration she probably moves a little further to the right than she would have like. And she is going to have to probably come back on that issue.

But overall, I think she is well positioned to be very competitive of this election. I want to be clear though. This election cycle is going to be very difficult for Republicans. We Republicans particularly in the house are playing defense just about everywhere. We know that. So this Arizona Senate seat may be the ultimate where you have two candidates of each party more or less one. This could be a senate race and one that could decide the majority.

CILLIZZA: And Don, if you look at it, just to add to what the Congressman said. If Martha McSally is a centrist, she won the district that is very difficult to win for a Republican, swing district, she won by being able to appeal on both sides. It speaks to the fact that it is impossible to come out in a Republican primary and doing anything other than aligning yourself with President Trump. I mean McSally politics and Donald Trump politics are 180 degrees apart.

She runs an ad like that and I remember the moment Donald Trump said that, it was signing the defense authorization bill up in New York. The Republican Senators were thrilled, because they knew that could be used in an ad and that was a good thing for Martha McSally. Look at the races around country. I wrote about this today. Donald Trump has not been hugely successful at many things. One thing and he says a lot of stuff that is not true. One thing he says that is true, is he moves votes in Republican primaries.

(CROSSTALK) He definitely --

LEMON: Symone, I want you to weigh in. Let me just put this up, because McCain voted for Trump, 83 percent of the time and all of these candidates Symone are running much more conservative than them. Arizona is Trump's land now, correct?

SANDERS: Well, I would say that Arizona is right for Democratic, not just a nominee for a Senate, but a Democratic Senator from Arizona. Look, (inaudible) I do believe can't get Martha McSally run for her money, the issue of this primary has been much like a lot of these GOP primaries this year, it has been bloody. It has been a fight. And it has become a Trump (inaudible). "The L.A. Times" wrote a story just this week about how all the Republican candidates hugged on Trump so much, will they be able to truly come out and win the vote they need to win in the general election. I think it is going to be tough.

[23:25:05] So, this is not a done deal for the Republican nominee for senate. I do believe that Republicans should be concerned. There was a lot of money spent in this race, and I think the Republicans are going to spend a lot more money, because she is a formidable challenger in this race.

LEMON: All right. Thank you all, I appreciate your time. When we come back more on our breaking news. Votes are being counted in Arizona's GOP Senate primary that on a night of a major offset in Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary.


LEMON: Breaking news tonight in primaries in Arizona and Florida. CNN's Tom Foreman is at the magic wall, Tom, as promised, I said we'll bring you back to talk as is warranted and here you are. So, I want to check in with you again on tonight's primary election results. Where do we stand?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in Arizona, the absentee and early votes, big wave out there. That is the way the vote out there a lot. 58 percent reporting, look at this, Martha McSally is up there while Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio down here. She is the least Trumpee of all three of them and yet she also has voice support for Trump. There was no anti-Trump candidate in here. The most vocal about it all probably was Kelli Ward, but look at this. She only won one area over here, Martha McSally cutting a big swath right down the middle here, and Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff pardoned by the president, so far only winning down around Yuma here.

So, the question is, what comes next for them? On the Democratic side, that's where Kyrsten Sinema has coasted for where at 58 percent reporting, she's at almost 82 percent. She is the Democratic hope for tipping one of the Arizona seats in to the Democratic category in the Senate.

This is Jeff Flake's seat. That's what we are talking about here. Remember, Jeff Flake has been one of the biggest opponents of Donald Trump. So there is a certain irony in the fact that all three of the people running to take his seat are people who are very much different than him.

And of course the other seat is John McCain which will be appointed by Governor Ducey until special election could be held in 2020. Right now in the governors' race, of course he is cruising ahead here, almost 70 percent, 58 percent reporting.

But, he will then have a challenge of his own because on the Democratic side, if you look right now, David Garcia is strong, 58 percent reporting, 48.3 percent. David Garcia, a little bit like what we have seen with Gillum down in Florida. He is somebody who is expanding health care, big on education, hitting the governor. Remember the teacher protest that we had in Arizona? He's hitting the governor on that.

So, he will to some degree parallel what we have seen in Florida. So, at least in the governors' race there, we could see exactly what we're talking about elsewhere. Strong left, strong right, not much in the middle for voters there. They have to make up their mind when November comes around.

LEMON: Tom Foreman, pro at that magic wall. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN Politics Senior Writer and Analyst, Mr. Harry Enten. Harry, good evening to you. Man, it was --


LEMON: -- a stunning turn of events here. Let's talk about Florida. Major victory for -- really the the left wing of the Democratic Party.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean, look, it is a victory for the left wing of the Democratic Party. It is a victory for young people. Andrew Gillum's campaign was very much supported by young progressives. But it is also a victory for African- Americans.

If you look across the map in the major African-American areas, that's where Andrew Gillum really ran up the score. But there is no doubt that Andrew Gillum was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. If you ask him about what made him rise at the end, it was that endorsement that spurred a lot of money coming in to that campaign.

So, it is a lot of different things. But Gillum put together a coalition that at the end of the day was success. I guess the question is, will this help him in the general election?

LEMON: Yeah. Somebody is going up against Ron DeSantis. I mean, you know, what do you think of that?

ENTEN: I think that both parties got the candidate that they wanted on the other side to win, which I think makes a fantastic general election campaign. Right? The contrast between an African-American candidate running in Florida versus a Trump-endorsed, very conservative candidate.

Very much like Georgia, right, where you have Brian Kemp who is Trump- endorsed and Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman. I think it makes for a very interesting general election campaign and voters have a real choice about who they want to lead their state.

LEMON: Do you think that this can make an impact on how other Democratic candidates position themselves this fall? Because remember -- you remember after 2016 and all, you know, the hand wringing and people saying, oh, my gosh, Democrats.

They need to reach out to this voter and that voter and the working class voter, basically saying that Democrats needed to be Republican- like or there is a school of thought that Democrats needed to go back to and speak to the people that they have spoken before and that they felt that, you know, those folks felt that they have lost them -- Democratic Party had lost them.

ENTEN: Look, I would say after the 2012 campaign, you saw a lot of Republicans arguing that they had to go towards the center and what did primary voters do in 2016, they went with Donald Trump, who is very, very different from any of them. So, you know, I think that in the fall campaign, it will be very interesting to see who are the groups that actually do turn out in the fall. But if Democrats are going to take back the House as we head into the fall campaign, there are going to be turnouts from all the major parts of the Democratic base, young people, women, college- educated, and candidates who can appeal to many different groups, I believe, the best shot of winning.

LEMON: Interesting. You probably thought you would be watching this from home and now you are here talking about it. An interesting night and it makes for an interesting November election.

ENTEN: It's going to be a lot of fun.

LEMON: Thank you, Harry. I appreciate your time.

ENTEN: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, more on our breaking news. Votes being counted in Arizona where three Republicans, all Trump supporters, are fighting for the chance to fill Jeff Flake's Senate seat.


LEMON: A lot to talk about now. Votes are being counted in Arizona tonight where three Trump supporter Republicans are battling for the chance to fill Jeff Flake's Senate seat. That is on top of a huge night in Florida where Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Joining me now, CNN Political Commentators, Matt Lewis, Steve Cortes, Angela Rye, and Maria Cardona.


LEMON: Good evening to all of you. Who do you think I'm going to start with first? I'm going to start with Angela, because, Angela, were you in the room tonight?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was in the room tonight, Don.

LEMON: Talk to me about that.

RYE: Absolutely. Well, I think it is more important to talk to about what I saw in the field. I've been campaigning for Andrew for the last three days here in Florida.

[23:40:00] We were in Miami. We were in Gainesville. We were in Orlando last week. In Gainesville and of course Jacksonville and then Tallahassee today and yesterday. And the energy has been electrifying.

I cannot even tell you how I felt like this was a done deal yesterday. We were driving up campus yesterday. And when we got to the campus, Don, I looked to my left and there was a rainbow in the sky, and I was like, it is written, it is over. And it was an incredible feeling. The energy of the students, knowing that they're going to go and support one of their fellow alum, knowing that there is someone who looks like them, who represents their interests, who everyone counted out because he did not raise the same amount of money, who everyone counted out because of his age, who everyone counted out because he was not the person whose turn it was supposed to be.

But you know what, it was time and that's what we told the students at Florida A&M yesterday. We told constituents all over the state that same message and they agreed with that, Don. It is an incredible feeling because you know I was ready to give up after 2016.


RYE: But I have all my hopes back. And I am so, so grateful to the people of Florida for restoring my faith in the process.

LEMON: Let me ask Steve, because I see you sitting there, it's funny when she said it is written and she saw the rainbow. I mean, you know, we can all relate to that. I had one of our political analysts on earlier, Harry Enten. He said Democrats got the candidate they wanted and Republicans got the candidate they wanted. So, what does this mean? What does this mean to you, Steve?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think what it means is that both on the right and on the left, what is winning lately is an anti-establishment upstart mentality, whether it is Ocasio-Cortez in New York or Mayor Gillum today in Florida, or whether it is Ron DeSantis winning decisively in the Republican primary in Florida.

So what you're seeing is anti-establishment movement which by the way preceded Donald Trump. He didn't invent that movement. He became a harbinger of it certainly in 2016. but that movement is very real, it is very broad, it is global, in fact. And I think we are seeing it on both the right and the left. You see it in the Bernie Sanders crowd. You certainly also see it in the America First deplorables crowd.

We have totally different prescriptions for how to solve the problem of working class people being abused in this country. But I think we both agree that working class people have been abused by our political class and by business elites in this country. We just -- our prescription to solve that is a lot more freedom. Their prescription is a lot more government.

LEMON: Maria, let me ask you this, right, because 28 to 30 percent people of color, right, black and Hispanic, so Gillum is now going to face Trump ally, Ron DeSantis, which Steve just talked about, excuse me.


LEMON: Sorry. I lost my train of thought there. So in the general election for governor, there could be two more different candidates and ideologies.

CARDONA: That's right.

LEMON: What is Florida looking for, Maria, you think?

CARDONA: Well, I think what is great about Andrew Gillum's victory is that he represents the future of Florida. He represents the now of this country. And what I mean by that is the coalition that he put together is a coalition of voters that is actually growing. You have young people. You have Latinos. You have African-Americans. You have women. You have LGBT. You have working class voters. You have middle class voters. You have independents, disenfranchised Republicans.

He spoke to so many people who have believed for a really long time now that the system is not working for them. So in that, I agree with Steve. The problem is that Ron DeSantis now represents the actual system that's not working for so many people since Donald Trump became president.

And what Donald Trump has done is, I think he has definitely made it so that a Republican who does not have his blessing cannot make it out of the primary. But in a state like Florida, as diverse as it is, with Donald Trump's stench of bigotry and racism, with so many diverse communities in that state, I think it is going to be very difficult for somebody like Ron DeSantis to actually win the gubernatorial in November.

LEMON: She set you up perfectly, Matt. Hold on, hold on. Let me get Matt in, and then you can respond. So Matt, listen, one thing the president appears to be good at is picking winners in GOP primaries. Was that the case this evening?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly in Florida, it was. What did Adam Putnam ever do to Donald Trump? I don't know. This is a guy who --


LEWIS: -- who was seen as a rising star. At one point, I think he was like Dennis Hastert (ph). You know, kind of -- you know, not (INAUDIBLE) but protege. He had all sorts of credibility, credentials at a young age and being elected statewide in Florida.

[23:45:00] He was not attacking Donald Trump. He was not running against Donald Trump. But he got out trump (ph) by DeSantis. If you saw that ad that DeSantis ran --

LEMON: With those kids?

LEWIS: Yeah, one of the most simple (ph) ads I think I've seen.


LEMON: The kids were cute.

LEWIS: It totally worked. It totally worked. And so, yeah, when it comes to picking Republican primary winners, Donald Trump is Michael Jordan. LEMON: OK. Listen, Steve, I know you want to get in. We will let you respond on the other side of the break, where we will also talk about -- listen, we have heated discussions here on this program with the panel, but there is never any violence. But the president is predicting there will be violence if Republicans don't win come November. We'll talk about that.


[23:50:02] LEMON: This is a jaw-dropping statement by President Trump to a group of evangelical leaders at the White House, warning that there would be violence if the Democrats take over in the midterms.

Back with me now, Matt Lewis, Steve Cortes, Angela Rye, and Maria Cardona. So, Steve, listen, I just want to read some of what the president told a group of pastors and other Christian leaders.

He said, "This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it's a referendum on your religion, it's a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It's not a question of like or dislike, it's a question that they will overturn everything that we have done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa, these are violent people. You have to hopefully get out and get people to support us, if you don't, that will be the beginning of ending everything that you've gotten."

So it fair to say that these leaders -- to these leaders to get your congregation to vote or there would be violence? Is the president engaging in classic fear-mongering here, Steve?

CORTES: I don't know why he says that there would be violence because of the Democrats winning. I do think he's correct on pointing out that political violence unfortunately is ascendant in America. It is active on both the right and the left.

Yet mainstream media seems to only care about it when it emanates from somebody on the right rather than people like Antifa, who, by they way, even the name I hate to use because they act a lot like fascists for people who are supposedly anti-fascists.

All they try to do is suppress free speech, is intimidate people, is harass the police, many of whom happened to be minorities, by the way. Those are the tactics of Antifa. They are fascist tactics, in fact. He is correct to point that out. I don't know. I'm a bit puzzled as to why he says if the Democrats take the House, for example, that means Antifa will rise further or use violence more so.

That part, you know, I don't agree with. But I certainly agree with him that political violence is never acceptable. And we hear a lot of folks on the left make excuses for Antifa, while they properly (ph) will assail the racist thugs in place like Charlottesville, who killed that young woman. While they go after them, they won't then use that same line of criticism or that same view of criticism of leftist violence which is totally unacceptable as well.

LEMON: Angela, your face says everything. But, you know, television is about sounds, too. So, go ahead, speak your mind.

RYE: Wow! I guess I would love to hear from Steve how many Antifa incidents is he aware of? How many Antifa incidents do you know about, Steve? OK.

CORTES: Quite a few. You want me to go through the list?

RYE: No. I just want you to give me a rough number.

CORTES: But you asked me a question.

RYE: I don't want you to go through a list.

CORTES: You asked me a question.

RYE: Yeah. And the question was, can you provide a number?


LEMON: One at a time, please. One at a time.

CORTES: Don't ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer, Angela.

RYE: I am sorry that you didn't want to answer it the way that I hope that you would which was honestly --


RYE: OK. That's fine. That's fine. And you have just exhibited exactly what's wrong with this country right now. So we can stand on polar opposites or we can call for human decency. And what we know, regularly, is the one with the bully platform that consistently urges violence, that consistently trolls women of color and people of color on Twitter, is the one with the bully pulpit, the bully himself, Donald Trump.

So I think before you go after the ghost and the demonic left, you favor a boogeyman (ph). Right? You should chin-check your president on what he is regularly doing and that is using his language irresponsibly and calling for violence on people or at least, you know, kind of teasing it out there that violence will -- there will be a violent uprising. That's dangerous rhetoric, and he is saying that.

CORTES: When did he call for violence?

RYE: It doesn't exist.


RYE: I'm sorry. When he says there will be -- you know what's so funny?

CARDONA: He has called for violence so many times in his campaign rallies.


CARDONA: Oh, my god, when? Are you serious? I think CNN has a whole "B" roll of the times that Donald Trump has said, you know, beat him up, beat him up. I will pay your lawyer fees.

RYE: I'll pay your legal fines.

CARDONA: He says, you know, slap him down. I mean, so many times, Steve. And if you don't know this, then I don't know what you've been drinking before you came on the show. But it is laughable when you talk about violence or when the president talks about violence.

LEMON: All right, come on, guys.

CARDONA: When he is the one who has been talking about violence at his campaign rallies. What he said, Don, to me, what don -- what the president said during his meeting with the evangelicals, I think betrays a huge fear on his part that Democrats are coming in the November elections, that there's so much energy, so much mobilization.

[23:55:07] LEMON: OK.

CARDONA: We saw it in Florida. We're seeing it everywhere. And I think he is scared to death.

LEMON: Matt, it's your chance. You will get it because we're almost at the end of the program.

LEWIS: I think Maria is right. Donald Trump is not very good at using language and being precise. I don't think he meant to talk about the violence. I think what he wanted to do is obviously scare evangelicals, scare them into supporting him.

I think he literally is scared of what's happening in the energy on the left right now. And I think he realizes you have to activate your base. I think the violence part, that's Donald Trump being Donald Trump and going too far as he always does.

LEMON: Uh-huh. All right. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate your time.

RYE: Thanks, Don. We're coming for him.


RYE: We're coming for him.

LEMON: Have a good night.

RYE: We're coming for him.


LEMON: Just to keep you all updated, McSally gave a victory speech tonight. We're going to continue to follow it here on CNN. Thanks for watching this program. Our coverage continues now.