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Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton; Six Days Left Until Midterm Elections. Aired 7:30-8 ET

Aired October 31, 2018 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: Just six days left until the midterm elections, Democrats are hopeful that they'll be able to flip the House. But just what is their message to voters in these last six days.

Joining us now is a key member of the Democratic caucus, Congressman Seth Moulton from Massachusetts and he's the creator of the Serve America PAC, which supports Democratic candidates who have a record of service.

He's in Kentucky today campaigning for Amy McGrath who's in a tight race there. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. I want to start on healthcare, because we keep hearing that Democrats, while the Republicans want to focus on immigration or fear or whatever, Democrats want to focus on healthcare.

What exactly abut healthcare is it that you want to focus on?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASS: Well we actually want to improve healthcare for Americans, and the best Democratic leaders, people like Amy McGrath have a plan to do that.

So she's not trying to take healthcare away like the Republicans. She's also not saying that the status quo is acceptable, that we should just Obamacare the way it is. She actually has a plan to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible to Americans.

And that's the kind of leadership that we need on an issue like this that can be pretty divisive for the American people.

BERMAN: Generally speaking, what I hear from Democrats is we'll - we'll protect preexisting conditions, which is something that Republicans have picked up on in their messaging. I want you to listen to the president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions, we're going to take care of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) Your reaction?

MOULTON: Well that's the president lying once again, because his administration is actually supporting a lawsuit to take away protections for preexisting conditions. And his Republicans in Congress have voted repeatedly to take away protections for preexisting conditions.

So the president thinks that he can succeed by lying, but I think the American people know better, and that's why Americans across the country are supporting Democrats like Amy who are going to improve healthcare and are going to make sure that Americans still have protections for preexisting conditions.

BERMAN: You do agree that the premiums are too high, that the cost of Medicare are skyrocketing, need to be brought into control. How will Democrats do that?

MOULTON: No, absolutely, that's right. And the sad thing is that the Affordable Care Act was actually starting to do that, was actually improving healthcare costs. And it's when the administration and the Republican Congress had started to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that premiums had started to skyrocket.

And people are going to see that, people are going to see that in their healthcare bills in the coming months. So the result of Republican leadership in Congress where Republicans have controlled the White House, the House and the Senate, one of those results is higher healthcare costs for Americans.

It's lack of access to healthcare, it's millions of Americans who used to have healthcare protection who don't have it any more. And it's a broken system, you know, I was talking to Amy yesterday and she was describing how her husband has a small business and he has people come up to him and literally beg him not to give them not to give them a raise, because if they get a raise, it will kick them off Medicare and they won't have healthcare anymore.


That's not a healthcare system that works, and that's the healthcare system that we've gotten to under Republican leadership.

So we need to improve healthcare, we need to fix it, we need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, not dismantle it. And that's what our new leaders will do.

BERMAN: So I read your Twitter account, and I know you've been very critical of the president's actions on immigration, sending troops to the border, you think it's a stunt. You think it's unnecessary, the idea of birthright citizenship, again, not constitutional, also a stunt.

But you also know because you're in districts like this one in Kentucky, that there is a genuine concern about illegal immigration. There is a genuine concern abut the border there. MOULTON: No, absolutely.

BERMAN: So - so address that concern and what do you tell and - you know, granted you're - you're a congressman from Massachusetts, but you're campaigning in Kentucky. What do you tell people in this swing district that Democrats want to do to keep illegal immigrants if you feel they should be kept out of the country? How are you going to do it?

MOULTON: What I say is that we need to - to actually have the courage to tackle this tough and divisive problem for America. And the reality is Republicans have controlled everything in Washington for the past two years, and they haven't done anything to fix it.

Now the president is trying to change the subject once again, last week he tried to change it to a middle class tax cut, which Congress isn't even in session to pass.

BERMAN: But I'm asking you what are Democrats going to do -


MOULTON: Now he's trying to change it to immigration -


BERMAN: -- you say you have to have the courage to talk abut it, but what - what specific measures -


MOULTON: -- and what we need to do - look, this - I'm getting there, man. Like, look, the immigration is a problem and Democrats are actually prepared to fix it. Amy McGrath right down here in Kentucky is actually running ads on immigration.

She has a plan to improve immigration by strengthening our border, but also providing a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and making sure that people like the soybean farmers here who rely on immigrants to take care of their crops can get legally the immigrants that they need.

That's the kind of leadership that we need. And it was exemplified when Amy came with me down to the border and we saw the immigration - we saw the immigration problem from all sides.

We didn't just go down there like some members of Congress to do a five hour trip and hold a press conference. We spent two days on both sides of the border. We talked to immigration officials like Customs and Border Patrol agents and ICE officials who said the system is broken.

It's not about just following the laws, the system is broken. We talked to asylum refugees, we talked to deported veterans living in Juarez, Mexico, deported veterans. That's a - that's a term that shouldn't even exist. There - we talked to a Navy guy who had served for 10 years on

destroyers, he served in the engine room, he had a distinguished record of service but he just didn't get around to getting his paperwork done.

His entire family is in America, his parents are legal - legal immigrants, his kids are Americans and he didn't get his paperwork filled out, he got a DUI which some of my colleagues in Congress, and now he's put into Mexico with no hope for his future.

So this is a problem that we need to have the courage to fix, and that's what leaders like Amy McGrath are doing. They're not exploiting it for political gain -


BERMAN: I want to get to two - Congressman, I want to get to two quick issues.


MOULTON: -- they're not running away from it, they're actually fixing it.

BERMAN: Two quick issues if I can, because I'm going to run out of time with you. I know there's six to go -

MOULTON: Yes, sure.

BERMAN: -- and I know you don't want to count your chickens before they're hatch - they hatch, but if Democrats do take the House, you've been critical of Nancy Pelosi's leadership of the Democratic caucus, and you suggested that perhaps you won't support her as speaker if you guys do take the House.

She said maybe she could service some kind of transitional speaker a year or two, one term or two before seating it to perhaps the next generation. Could you accept that?

MOULTON: No. It's not time for a transitional leadership, we need leadership of a new generation. It's time for a new generation of leaders in Washington, not just in - not just in the Republican Party, but in our party, in the Democratic Party as well.

We need leaders who are going to actually bring our party back together. We need leaders who are going to unite Americans rather than divide them. We need leaders who speak to the next generation of Democrats.

You know, Leader Pelosi's message to people like me who are willing to challenge the status quo or question the establishment is you're too ambitious. We need ambition in America, we need leaders who are going to tackle the tough challenges like immigration, like improving healthcare.

And that's what I'm seeing in candidates like Amy who are running across the country. I'm going to go see Mikie Sherrill up in New Jersey, Chrissy Houlahan in Pennsylvania. These are amazing new Democratic leaders who are willing to take on these tough - tough issues.

And people look at them and say that's the future of our party, that's the kind of leadership we need in Washington as well.

BERMAN: Can I give you two congratulations before I let you go? Number one, congratulations on the birth of your daughter Emmy (ph), I think not even a month old at this point, a few weeks old. There she is.

And number two, congratulations -

MOULTON: It's been about 21 days, 21 days.

BERMAN: -- the Boston Red Sox, you know she is 21 days old and she already has a World Series title. I had to wait 32 years in my life before the Red Sox won their first World Series so she's spoiled there.

I know this must be big for you to skip the parade, this campaign, to be down in Kentucky. So congratulations, Congressman.


MOULTON: Thank you very much. There's a great picture on Instagram of her in a Red Sox cap and she's a big fan already and she's obviously a good luck charm for the team.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Congressman. Appreciate it. Any luck we can get is always welcome.

CAMEROTA: Did you see her little smile?

BERMAN: Yes, because they win. Because the Red Sox are winning. She's happy.

CAMEROTA: I guess so because normally 21 day olds don't smile like that.

BERMAN: You can see the power that the Red Sox have.

FEMALE: It's the power of the Red Sox. Wow. Now I -- now I see it, John. Thank you. OK, so the words invaders, invasion, enemy of the people. President Trump is not the first to use this loaded rhetoric. The surprising history in our reality check, next.


CAMEROTA: All right. If you think resident Trump 's loaded political rhetoric in these mid-term Elections is unprecedented or unpresidential, you may be surprised what other leaders have done the very same thing. CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon has a history lesson in today's Reality Check. Hi, John. JOHN AVLON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Hi, Ally. (Inaudible) a

Halloween history lesson, really. So health care is the most important issue to Americans ahead of the midterms, followed by the economy and jobs. That's a reality check. Polls and perhaps even more importantly, political ad buys bear this out. But President Trump's closing arguments have careened away from these bread and butter issues. After pipe bombs were mailed to some of Trump's top targets in media and politics, Trump doubled down on the divisive rhetoric, calling the press, again, the enemy of the people.

And after the deadliest anti-Semitic massacre in American history, Trump immediately returned to calling migrants nearly 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border an invasion, echoing the language that the alleged shooter used in social media posts unleashing his AR 15 in the Tree of Life Synagogue.


So let's take a closer look at those two weighted phrases President Trump has decided to carry into electoral ballot. Buckle up for a quick and disconcerting history lesson.

The enemy of the people isn't a phrase you generally hear from U.S. presidents but it was used during the French revolution by radicals to describe their enemies who they often accused of -- get this -- spreading false news to divide or trouble the people. It was trotted out again during the Soviet era to justify mass murder by Lenin and Stalin. When Khrushchev took over, he apologized for the state-run slaughter, explaining, quote, the formula enemy of the people was specifically introduced for the purpose of physically annihilating real or imagined political opponents.

And while Donald Trump loved to accused Democrats of wanting to make America like Venezuela, Hugo Chavez -- you guessed it -- called his political opponents, quote, enemies of the homeland. What about invaders? Well, the word recalls an ugly history when it's been directed at immigrants. For example, in 1884 a U.S. Senator named Cutcheon of Michigan painted poor immigrant laborers from Southern and Eastern Europe as, quote, the Goths and vandals of the modern era, they come only to lay waste, to degrade and destroy.

Well my grandparents would later emigrate from that region. Arguments from the notorious Chinese Exclusion Act were full of talk about the Chinese invasion, and the Supreme Court, which upheld the law, even wrote in its decision about the, quote, vast hoards of Chinese that were, quote, crowing in upon us. One of the founders of the isolationist America First movement of the early 1940s, aviator Charles Lindburgh declared that we should, quote, defend the white race against foreign invasion.

And just over a decade ago, Trump's populist predecessor Pat Buchan wrote a book called "State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America". The point is not that Donald Trump is the moral equivalent of any of the figures, nor is there any reason to believe he's actually read up on these specific histories. But the dark legacy of this language cannot be ignored. It has been used to excuse some of the most horrific chapters in our history. It not only divides but dehumanizes.

And we can't abide by its normalization in American politics today. Meanwhile, back on Main Street, voters are much more concerned with issues that hit closer to home. But they'll have to wade through Trump 's fear-fueled rhetoric first. And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, John, that is a much darker history than I had known.

AVLON: Dark as it gets.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And I mean, I think that your point is excellent, that it's not -- you're not trying to draw a -- a moral equivalence but there's a rhetorical equivalence.

AVLON: It echo -- you know, history doesn't often (ph) repeat, but sometimes it rhymes and this is an ugly rhyme.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And someone in the White House knows that rhyme or has read up on it. If the president doesn't, someone else surely does. John, thanks so much. The Justice Department says the suspected serial bomber planned the attacks on officials critical of President Trump and CNN for months. Prosecutors have revealed that the FBI searched the suspect's laptop and found documents with his intended targets' addresses and return labels that are similar to those used on the intercepted mail bombs.

Prosecutors also say the suspect's cell phone show he started searching for home addresses of potential targets back in July.

CAMEROTA: Here's a horrible story to tell you about this morning. A 24-year-old woman is facing three felony charges of reckless homicide after Indiana police say she drove past a stopped school bus with its stop sign extended, striking and killing three young siblings. Six- year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their 9-year-old sister Alivia were pronounced dead at the scene. A fourth child had to be airlifted out with life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the pickup truck that struck the children has been identified as Alyssa Shepherd of Indiana. Police say the children were crossing the street to board their bus.

BERMAN: That's just awful. Just awful. You know, every parents' nightmare, I think, who waits outside with their children or watches their children get on the bus.

CAMEROTA: I mean, all of those lives, all of the lives of the ripple of lives of that one act, taken in an instant.

BERMAN: All right. Severe weather could strike a large part of the country over the next two days. CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray has the forecast. Jennifer.



CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk politics. Claire McCaskill is in the political fight of her life. The Missouri Democrat has six days to save her Senate seat in a state that was won handily by President Trump in 2016. So how is she doing it?


Let's turn to my Halloween doppelganger Dana Bash who is live in Washington with more. I'm actually going as you tonight around my neighborhood, Dana.

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's amazing, you're going to have a lot of explaining to do. Forgive my voice. A lot of - a lot of airplane travel. So Alisyn, you know who else is going to Missouri?

President Trump, he's slated to go not once, but twice in the next six days and that's how tight this race is. But also a reminder that it's Trump country, not easy for a two term incumbent Democrat.


BASH: Democrat Claire McCaskill rolling deep in rural conservative Missouri, in search of every possible vote to send her back to the Senate.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MO: I mean we're realists about this, it's not that anybody believes I'm going to be able to win Jasper County. But you know what we can do?

We can win a few more votes. Because I got news for you, it's close.

BASH: In many ways, it's a political miracle this two term Senate Democrat even represents this red state President Trump won by nearly 20 points. She first won in 2006, a Democratic wave year, and again in 2012 after GOP opponent Todd Akin talked of legitimate rape.

MCCASKILL: Healthcare is on the ballot.

BASH: Like many Democrats in tough races, she tries to stay focused on healthcare and preserving Obamacare's protections for preexisting conditions. Her GOP opponent Josh Hawley says he supports them too, but he's part of a lawsuit that could strike down those protections.

He's casting the race as a clear choice.

JOSH HAWLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL, MO: We don't like the Washington establishment. We think that there needs to be a shakeup in both parties, and you know, voters were very adamant about that. And this campaign is really about that.

BASH: Hawley is a staunch (ph) Trump supporter, elected Missouri attorney general just two years ago. The blunt McCaskill regularly launches one liners at her 38 year old Ivy league educated challenger. MCCASKILL: As Ronald Reagan said, I'm not going to try - I'm going to

try not to hold his youth and inexperience against him. He may be a Yale educated lawyer, but I'm a Mizzou educated lawyer and I can keep up.

BASH: She's running on her experience yet running from the left wing of her own party.

MCCASKILL: It may irritate some of you in this room that I am proud that I'm a moderate. There may be people in this room that think I am not liberal enough to carry the banner of this party.

BASH: You have a radio ad out saying that you're not one of those crazy Democrats.

UNKNOWN MALE: And Claire's not one of those crazy Democrats, she works right in the middle and finds compromise.

BASH: What does that mean?

MCCASKILL: Well the crazy Democrats are the people who are getting in the face of elected officials in restaurants and screaming at them. The crazy Democrats is whoever put a swastika on one of Josh Hawley's signs in rural Missouri. That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about.

The extreme stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Claire McCaskill and the radical left from passing their social agenda.

BASH: Tying her to liberal Democratic leaders is the centerpiece of Hawley's campaign, seizing on her votes against both of President Trump's Supreme Court nominees.

That was a big deal?

HAWLEY: A big deal, very big deal.

BASH: Like that could make the difference?

HAWLEY: Yes, I do, very big deal.

BASH: In what way.

HAWLEY: Because I think voters were so appalled by what they - just appalled by the smear campaign -

BASH: Well she did say how she would vote before the - before the hearing and all that.

HAWLEY: She was - she was honest in saying that she was voting against Justice Kavanaugh because he was a conservative.

BASH: She says she voted no because Kavanaugh has supported unlimited campaign cash.

MCCASKILL: And I would be a big hypocrite if a voted for Kavanaugh because of dark money.

BASH: She's making an effort to connect with Trump voters she needs to win in other ways, like on immigration.

MCCASKILL: The impression he's giving Missourians that somehow the Democrats are in favor of our border being overrun. I am not, I support the president 100 percent doing what he needs to do to secure the border.

BASH: Rallying supporters to get out the vote, the Democrat reminds them she's beaten Missouri's odds before.

MCCASKILL: And because of all of you, and your commitment, they're going to say that Claire McCaskill, she's done it again.


And Alisyn, just to put this in the broader perspective here, this is one of those states that Democrats know they can't lose if they have any chance of taking back the Senate. But the way things are going now, it's probably more the question of whether or not they can hold this seat in order to hold the Republicans majority, not to make that, you know, go - go even higher.

And it is also one of those seats that Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has been pining after. He - he was heartbroken that Claire McCaskill won the last time because their candidate just didn't do it, but now the Republicans are hoping with this 38 year old who'd be the youngest Senator, that this is the guy to go against Washington.

CAMEROTA: John's not even paying attention, Dana, to what you're saying.