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2020 Is All About One Man; Trump Defends His Comments On Charlottesville; What States Can Trump Win In 2020 That He Didn't In 2016?; U.S. Economy Grew 3.2 Percent In Q1, But Deficit Continues To Rise; Trump Admin Tackles Opioid Crisis; Critics Say Not Fast Enough; Biden Focuses On Pennsylvania In Presidential Bid; Kate Smith: Racist or Champion of Tolerance?; Court Finds Chalking Parked Car Tires Unconstitutional; Book: Health Care Provider Compassion Helps Save Lives. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. That's how former Vice President Joe Biden characterized the stakes in the campaign that he just joined. Biden sought to distinguish himself from the Democratic field by explicitly confronting the man that he hopes to face and he did this with the very first words that he spoke, Charlottesville, Virginia.

And he went after the president by name saying that if Donald Trump spends eight years in the White House he will, quote, "fundamentally alter the character of this nation." Joe Biden cast this election as a referendum on Donald Trump and he's right. That's something about which Republicans and Democrats and the president will probably agree.

This election has already been branded like a building with his name on it. Unemployment, GDP, immigration, Mueller, Russia, China, North Korea, the Supreme Court, they aren't issues with differing views so much as a source of dialogue from the very foundation to the roof about the influence of one person -- Donald Trump.

Other Democrats have spoken of their credentials and vision for the future, but it's fanciful to suggest that because voters don't bring up Trump on the campaign trail, it's sufficient for candidates to only speak of their vision for America. Yes, Democratic candidates need to have a compelling vision for America, but to win they must also win the tug-of-war with the president for the swing voters and to motivate others who don't vote to get off the sidelines.

Races with incumbents are usually a referendum on the incumbent, this time especially so, and each Democratic candidate must initially convince the primary electorate why they're best suited to beat the President. Joe Biden was right to frame the election as a binary choice for or against one man -- Donald Trump.

I want to know what you think this hour. Go to my website at Answer today's survey question. Do you agree, more than anything else, the 2020 election is a referendum on Donald Trump? As Biden continues to use the president's Charlottesville comments as a jumping-off point for his candidacy, President Trump defended his very fine people on both sides answer.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That question was answered perfectly and I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. People were there protesting that taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.


SMERCONISH: Joining me now, counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne, thanks so much for being here.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's my pleasure, Michael. Give my best to our hometown of Philly.

SMERCONISH: I will. I've had Steve Cortes on my radio program. I have zaprudered (ph) the tape of what the president said on Charlottesville and I get that he did not explicitly refer to white supremacists as fine people. I get that he condemned white nationalists and Neo-Nazis, but who exactly are the fine people?

CONWAY: Well, the president -- I'm going to read to you what the president said at the time rather than have a lot of people pontificate and smear what the president actually said. He said that, "You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to something else." Then he said, quote, "I'm not talking about the Neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally."

Then he goes on after the death of Heather Heyer -- and I'm very happy, frankly, that her murderer has been brought to justice and I will always feel badly for her, the loss of her life and for her family. The president said, quote, "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in his name (ph) are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything ew hold dear as Americans."

These are the statements of the president of the United States at the time and anybody who just says -- gives the slur and the statement, "fine people" and says that he meant the Neo-Nazis are lying about what he actually said at the time and that's ...

SMERCONISH: But I've gone through the ...

CONWAY: ... incredibly important because he has made that clear. I'm sorry?

SMERCONISH: Television ...

CONWAY: And Steve Cortes, I'm glad you mentioned him. He wrote a terrific piece on "RealClearPolitics" that lays all of this out ...

SMERCONISH: I read it. I read it. And listen ...

CONWAY: And he said that somebody who goes on "CNN" -- it was a very good piece.

SMERCONISH: And on Sirius -- on Sirius XM Radio, I'm afforded the opportunity, because we don't have commercials, to lay the whole thing out in a way that I can't do on any television outlet ...

CONWAY: Right. Exactly. Not in sound bites. That's right.

SMERCONISH: But listen, but no -- but no fine person would stand alongside torchbearers who are chanting, "Jews will not replace us."

CONWAY: Well, there's no question that those people are the ones the president are condemning, but you want to revisit this the way Joe Biden wants to revisit, respectfully, because he doesn't want to be held to account for his record or lack thereof.

[09:05:04] And I found his announcement video to be unfortunate and certainly a missed opportunity, but also just very dark and spooky and that is taking us -- he doesn't have a vision for the future. He doesn't mention President Obama, the popular president he served for eight years in his video who has refused to endorse him. He doesn't lay out a vision for the future.

And you are correct partly that the 2020 election is a referendum on President Trump insofar as every re-election is a referendum on the incumbent president, but it's not a referendum on Donald Trump only. It's the Donald Trump presidency. So whoever comes in is going to have to argue against these monster growth numbers yesterday of 3.2 GDP ...

SMERCONISH: I'm going to get to that.

CONWAY: ... defying expectations some people said -- well, but that's important because that's what most people are talking about around the kitchen tables.

SMERCONISH: Well, let me -- OK. Let me pose ...

CONWAY: And they're -- when we talk about today's -- well, go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Let me pose one more comment.

CONWAY: You want to cut me off when I start talking about the achievements of President Trump.

SMERCONISH: No, no, no. I'm going to get to the economy. One last thought on Charlottesville. It was not the perfect answer because the perfect answer would have left no room for ambiguity or interpretation. You get the final word on this issue.

CONWAY: Well, let me make it clear to you, there is no room -- there is no room for ambiguity interpretation. What the president said in condemning violence, bigotry, hatred and he specifically called out KKK, neo-nationalists, white supremacists and I'll say it again. And if that weren't true, I wouldn't work in the White House because when people just use Charlottesville's as shorthand for many different things, they're letting a big lie fly and there are many people doing that.

And it's very disappointing that the former vice president would do that when he's stuck having to apologize for and account for what Anita Hill herself and other people in his Democratic Party where he's running for the nomination think is insufficient, the way he mistreated her and his lack of an apology apology, including just yesterday.

So he needs to first get past Democratic primary voters who are incredibly skeptical, if not cynical, about his past, his lack of record, what he did or did not have to do with President Obama's administration ...

SMERCONISH: You say this -- I have to interrupt because I don't want to run out of time ...

CONWAY: ... that (ph) 28 million Americans don't have health insurance nine years after Obamacare passed.

SMERCONISH: You say this, but the "Morning Consult" poll this week shows him ...

CONWAY: But look, he can't go up against Donald Trump until he gets past the Democratic ...

SMERCONISH: He's readily beating Donald Trump in the polls, "Morning Consult" among them, from just this week. Let me keep moving, if I may. I ...

CONWAY: That doesn't mean anything. All those -- all those polls show Donald Trump losing up until the election, which is why I was on networks like "CNN" and all the other networks and cable stations up until election day ...

SMERCONISH: When do we get ...

CONWAY: ... laying out how we were going to win, that Hillary Clinton had not gotten 50 percent in any of those swing states that President Obama can twice (ph).

SMERCONISH: All right. I have a question about that. I have a question about that. When do we get the message of unity? It seems like the message that comes from the White House is often one of walls instead of bridges and I'm hard-pressed and acknowledge that I didn't see the Trump train coming last time around, but as I look at that map from 2016, I'm hard-pressed to identify a single state that he lost that he has a shot of winning in 2020.

CONWAY: I disagree.

SMERCONISH: The tent hasn't been grown nor has there been a discernible effort to -- give me one state that you think Donald Trump can win in 2020 that he didn't in 2016.

CONWAY: Well, Michael, respectfully, you're arguing for the old adage that where people stand has something to do with where they sit, where they stand on Donald Trump and his presidency has something to do with where they sit. I think in a bubble, that is the -- as they call a sell a quarter (ph) or the news business or even those in politics on either side of the aisle see things through a very narrow prism that America doesn't see.

This president, on election night on November 9th in the wee hours, said, "I will be the president of all Americans, even those who didn't support me," and then he ad libbed, "And there were more than a few of them," and he -- and he chuckled. There is great unity in an economy that works for all Americans, in 7.3 million American jobs, in record low unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanic and Asian Americans, 65 year low for women, a record low for veterans, for disabled Americans, for teens.

You've got these growth numbers. The rising tide lifts all boats. You've got deregulation that has saved us $33 billion and has unleashed prosperity for property owners and taxpayers and small business owners. You've got a president, including today with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, trying to broker, improve relationships all around the globe so that we have better trade deals that benefit Americans and American workers like the folks you and I grew up with around Philadelphia and South Jersey and the Delaware Valley that Joe Biden used to connect with (ph) ...


CONWAY: The half a million -- the half a million new manufacturing jobs is unifying, but I'll tell you what else is unifying. There are fewer people languishing in prison now and more people in drug addiction treatment because of Donald Trump's leadership.

SMERCONISH: I want to get to drugs. I want to get -- one economy question ...

CONWAY: Let me repeat it. Fewer people in prison, more people in drug treatment because of him. That's unifying. That's nonpartisan.

SMERCONISH: OK. The economy, the GDP numbers, tremendous. The unemployment numbers, great.

[09:10:01] I mean, I think it's wonderful that those numbers are where they are. What about the deficit? Because I know that we hit a $234 billion number. We could put that on the screen as well. A record in February. It seems like, you know, the fiscal conservatism that used to be part and parcel of the Republican Party is not a part and parcel of this White House. Respond to that issue.

CONWAY: There's great concern about the deficit and I'll tell you why. This country had become addicted to spending, particularly in the previous two administrations. I believe the deficit near but doubled over the eight years that President Obama was there, but you had other Republicans spending a ton of money too and I would like to see, personally, more fiscal responsibility.

What happens is the moment that you try to restructure or combine programs or eliminate programs that aren't working, everybody screams that you're cutting this, you're starving people, you're throwing grandmom off her wheelchair off a cliff. All of which is wrong, hyperbolic and hysterical and will be used for political purposes, of course, but there's no question that there's room for both economic growth and financial stewardship.

But the president, through his first two and a half years in office, Michael, practically has reduced taxes, reduced regulations, unleashed energy, is rebalancing these trade deals and is focused on job creation in those industries that we were told were flat on their backs and going abroad. Manufacturing, mining, warehousing, construction. all of those are way up. So I would ...

SMERCONISH: Kellyanne ...

CONWAY: I personally would like for the Republican Party and this president to get back to financial stewardship, but he has. He's tried to ...


CONWAY: Look, he's invested more in the military and he's tried to eliminate programs that don't work and people scream bloody murder when he does.

SMERCONISH: I want to get to an important subject to you. You lead the White House anti-drug effort. You were with the president and the first lady doing an event on opioids in Atlanta this week. I applaud the president's effort to try and combat the scourge of opioid addiction. What about this? Why not reclassify pot? Why not try and get over the divide that exists between a certain number of states and federal law and make it easier for the opioid-addicted to have access to medical marijuana as an alternative? Will he champion that effort?

CONWAY: Well, let me say this about today. Today is National Take Back Day and you and I would both be remiss if we didn't allow a little public service announcement here. National Take Back Day means that you can take your unused, unneeded, expired pills, prescription medication, Michael, to police stations, community centers, hospitals.

There are 5,500 locations that have been identified by Google whose mapped them out. If you type into the search bar "return my medication or unused pills," Google will provide a number of locations. This is just a brilliant service that they're providing Americans because it literally will save lives ...

SMERCONISH: But what about pot?

CONWAY: Well, I want to say something to you. Because of this president's leadership and because of H.R.6, which was overwhelmingly bipartisan when it passed and was signed into law last year, an 64 percent increase in Americans who are on medication-assisted treatment. We have more teens that are getting a treatment than they did previously. This is important because the president has allowed the states to free up their Medicaid dollars to pay for the medication-assisted treatment.

There are many therapies out there that don't involve marijuana and I think you want to have a whole marijuana debate here under the guise of opioids and we would be remiss since I think, frankly, respectfully, the media doesn't like to cover this issue. The regional media does, local media. We got a ton of regional local media coverage that day (ph), really more than we have on almost any other issue ...

SMERCONISH: That's not true. I talk about -- I talk about opioids here on a regular basis ...

CONWAY: Well, that's ...

SMERCONISH: ... and constantly in my radio show. I'm just saying that ...

CONWAY: Well, you do and I saw you last week -- I ...

SMERCONISH: ... it's time to end the divide. You know, I mean, the federal law is out of touch.

CONWAY: I appreciated last week you actually said -- you actually said -- well, the federal law will be discussed over time, but not every state agrees with you. And let's just make clear too that for all the folks who talk about the benefits and the legality of marijuana, there are many health professionals and employers increasingly concerned that this is not your grandfather or your father's marijuana. The TCH components are much stronger ...

SMERCONISH: Understood. Yes.

CONWAY: And you hear increasingly from employers that people are failing their drug tests because they're over -- they're overusing, they're abusing prescription opioids and that they're chronically using marijuana. So we just can't say it's all good for all people at this moment. We're very concerned about the effect on the brain ...


CONWAY: ... among young people whose brains don't fully form until later in life. Anyway, I'll come back on another day for that, but today, that tiny little bottle, Michael, is tricky because it was -- it's legally prescribed to help you with temporary pain, but if you no longer need it or if it's just sitting around or it's sitting around in grandmom's medicine cabinet or dad's gym bag, get rid of it today.

SMERCONISH: Got it. Today's the day. OK.

CONWAY: You will absolutely save a life. If there's the (ph) the name of the family doctor and local pharmacy, get rid of it.

SMERCONISH: Come back and thank you.

CONWAY: But can I say something else? The president and the first lady have tackled this as a signature issue and they went through not promises and platitudes on Wednesday at the RX Summit in Atlanta.

[09:15:00] They went through a progress report and I'm very happy to leave you with this. That H.R.6 passed with every single Democratic vote in the House and the Senate, including every Democrat in the House and Senate who's currently running for president. It's a great message of unity. It's a great example of working together for the greater good of Americans.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Kellyanne. Thank you.

CONWAY: Thank you, Michael. I want to know what you think. Go to my website at Answer today's survey question. More than anything else, the 2020 election is a referendum on one man -- Donald Trump.

Up ahead, Joe Biden finally in the 2020 race and leading the pack of 20 Democrats. He's focusing efforts on a crucial state, right here in Pennsylvania. So what are his chances?

And Kate Smith's statue and version of "God Bless America" have been scrubbed from sports arenas because of a couple of racially insensitive songs that she sang 85 years ago. Critics may be rethinking their image of her when they hear a speech she gave during World War II.

Plus, you know how meter maids chalk your tires? Well, a landmark court decision has decided that's unconstitutional.


SMERCONISH: After months of teasing, Joe Biden has officially jumped in the race for president. The former vice president's first fundraiser was in Pennsylvania Thursday.

[09:20:01] Monday he's doing a union event in Pittsburgh. His first major campaign event will be in Philadelphia on May 18. Lot of Pennsylvania focus, all eyes on the battleground state after what became painfully clear for Democrats in 2016 -- all roads to the White House go through the Keystone State.

Joining me now, the former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, who was on the committee for the Biden fundraiser Thursday and David Urban who ran Trump's campaign in Pennsylvania in 2016. David, "Politico" had a report this week. They said there are alarm bells being sounded among the Trump intelligentsia. They all came to Pennsylvania in Harrisburg on Wednesday. I think you were in that room.


SMERCONISH: What's the level of concern?

URBAN: Yes. So Michael, that article was completely, completely wrong. That was -- there were no alarm bells ringing. We were having an early meeting to kind of get the teams together, establish some connectivity early on as you do in a -- in a campaign and the report was -- the reporting was completely erroneous on every level. So ... SMERCONISH: You know that he's upside down in the numbers in a lot of these Rust Belt states.

URBAN: Yes. Yes.

SMERCONISH: You've got to be troubled about that.

URBAN: No. You know what, Michael, listen. As you know, as the mayor knows and as the president knows, winning in Pennsylvania is not easy. It's why it hasn't been done in 30 years, but I like our chances. Look, as long as the Democrats are talking about allowing terrorists to vote while still incarcerated, eliminating internal combustion engines, killing cows, government-run health care, free college, stipends for people who work and don't work, I mean, lots of really crazy left-wing ideas.

And I -- and while this president and this administration continue to churn out incredible numbers in terms of the economy and growth and -- look, the Department of Labor and Industry in Pennsylvania, as you probably are well aware, said in March that unemployment in Pennsylvania, all-time low, all-time low, historic. Unbelievable.

SMERCONISH: Yes. I've got -- in fact, I'm going to let Mayor Nutter respond to that. I have -- I have graphs on unemployment in Pennsylvania. Catherine, put them up. Unemployment way down, wages on the rise ...

URBAN: Way up, way up. Right (ph).

SMERCONISH: ... the manufacturing -- yes. The manufacturing numbers have come back. That's annual wages. Mayor Nutter, he is upside down in the polls, meaning Pennsylvanians thus far, a majority are saying they won't vote for Donald Trump, but the economic numbers are in his corner. Agree?

MICHAEL NUTTER, FORMER MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, Michael, it depends on where you live. We know that unemployment only counts the people who are working or looking for work and does not count the folks who have -- basically they've given up or kind of dropped out. And so if you're in the middle of North Philadelphia or West Philadelphia or some places I'm sure in Pittsburgh and other places in Pennsylvania, those numbers are not true in any circumstance.

And so, you know, there's national numbers, there's state numbers and then there's on the ground where real people live and are struggling in many, many communities across Pennsylvania and across the United States of America. You know, the concept of either lowering the cost of college or, in some instances for some, possibly even free, that's not a wild idea. That's a humanitarian idea. That's ...

URBAN: No, Mr. Mayor, free. It's not lowering the cost. It's free. Free.

NUTTER: No -- hey, David? David? You got to give your speech.

URBAN: OK. NUTTER: Let me make a few points here. So you know trying to deal with climate change and the real issues, unlike, of course, the current occupant of the White House, a climate change denier, you know, those are all distractions. The fact of the matter, Michael Smerconish, when you had Ms. Conway on earlier, she actually could not name a new state that was lost in 2016 by the current occupant ...

SMERCONISH: Yes, Urban, David, what's your answer to that question?

URBAN: I'll name two -- I'll name two -- I'll name two. I'll give you two.

NUTTER: So, you know, I found that -- I found that spin very interesting.

URBAN: I'll give you two.

NUTTER: I found that spin very interesting.

URBAN: Mr. Mayor, what do you say -- what do you say in -- what do you say about Virginia where you have a racist Democratic governor who wore blackface, you got a lieutenant governor who's under siege for alleged, you know, sexual assault and yet the Democratic Party hasn't foisted him out. What do you say about that? What's your answer to those voters in Virginia that are looking at the party, your party, and say, wow, we lost Virginia by a narrow ...

NUTTER: David ...

URBAN: ... by 4 points. We lost Wisconsin by -- I mean Minnesota by 2 points. I think we'll be competitive in both.

NUTTER: Yes, David. I don't know that it's going to be your strategy to try to talk about any of those kinds of things given the fact that you've got a president who has so many accusations against him, so many people in his own administration under investigation, the full details of the Mueller report yet to be fully released and examined. He was not exactly exonerated. Those are his words, not anyone else's.

And so, you know, as Joe Biden said, this will be a battle for the soul of the nation. There is an interest in restoring some level of additional dignity to the leadership of the United States of America.

[09:25:03] This should be an issue-oriented campaign. Of course, the current occupant of the White House could not restrain himself because he has no restraint, again, with the nicknames for people. Everyone actually has a name. They don't need a nickname from the current occupant of the White House. And so why don't we talk about real issues and real people and real struggles that folks are facing and cut out a lot of the nonsense ...

SMERCONISH: Guys, can I get in here?

NUTTER: ... and the attacks.

URBAN: So Michael, I'd just like to know for the mayor -- (ph) who is the mayor -- who is the mayor endorsing for president? Are you supporting ...


NUTTER: I was on the ...

SMERCONISH: He was on the -- he was on the committee.

URBAN: Well, I just didn't know if he endorsed him because I read the ...

SMERCONISH: That's why he's here.

NUTTER: I was on the committee.

URBAN: I know, but I read the list of endorsements and I didn't see -- I didn't know if you -- came out and endorsed him.

NUTTER: I haven't made a formal endorsement ...


NUTTER: ... but my name was on an event, I sent in a check and I've known Joe Biden for a long, long period of time. I don't think what I'm doing or who I might be for is relevant to this particular topic ...

URBAN: Oh, of course it is. Of course it is.

NUTTER: ... but all the information ...

SMERCONISH: I have a -- I have a -- I have a quick final question. I have a ...

NUTTER: ... all the information is out there -- is out there in the public.

SMERCONISH: I have a quick final question for David Urban.

URBAN: Sure.

SMERCONISH: Quick final question for David Urban. I know mathematically he can get home without Pennsylvania ...

URBAN: No -- oh, not -- yes (ph) ...

SMERCONISH: ... but as a practical matter, you'd agree -- you'd agree with me, he needs the Keystone State, he being the president, right?

URBAN: Yes. Look, Michael, I believe it's absolutely imperative. I believe the administration thinks it's imperative. I know the president thinks it's imperative and look, I like our chances. Michael, you and I talked that night on election night. We talked many times before that. The mayor and I talk. We'd see each other the show (ph) and we'd talk about the campaign ...

NUTTER: On the train. URBAN: Yes. We did. We'd see each other on the train back and forth and we'd talk.


URBAN: And I knew there was a path of victory then. I still think there's a path of victory now. We're not going to -- we're not going to do, you know, things differently. We're going to continue to -- we're going to do it better. We're going to reach out to those same voters that I don't think really felt the Democratic Party reached out to them in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Beaver, Greene. All the counties that Democrats used to traditionally count on for, you know, for very strong turnout, we're going to go back and take those folks back with us again.


SMERCONISH: Guys, thank you. Mayor, thank you. David, thank ...

NUTTER: 2020 is going to be very different than 2016, David.

SMERCONISH: To be -- to be continued.

URBAN: All right. We'll see you on the -- we'll see you on the field.

NUTTER: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: I'm not needed here. With these two guys, I'm just not needed here. Thank you, men.

URBAN: You're always needed, Michael. We love you.

NUTTER: You're critically important, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we got? If the economy hangs in there, so will @realDonaldTrump. Nothing against Joe Biden or any of the other," -- you know how -- I had this conversation with James Carville, "It's the economy, stupid," and the point that he made to me is he thought that the president's numbers were as high as they can be because of the strength of the economy and that if the economy should take a turn, there will be no saving him politically speaking. He says it more clearly than I do.

Remember, answer this week's survey question at my website. Do it right now. Agree or disagree, more than anything else, this election's a referendum on one man -- Donald Trump.

Up ahead, we all want our health care providers to exhibit compassion, right? A new book says it actually saves lives. I got the first TV interview with one of the authors. And ...


KATE SMITH, SINGER: Someone had to pick the cotton, someone had to plant the corn ... (END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: That song is why Kate Smith has recently been removed from sports arenas in both statue and song. Some new evidence suggests that the singer herself may not have been a racist.


[09:32:11] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Well, some complicating evidence has now come to light in the controversy over the late singer Kate Smith.

I covered this story here last week. You may recall that because two songs out of the roughly 3,000 in her catalog had racially insensitive racist lyrics, her version of "God Bless America" was then discontinued at both Yankee and Philadelphia Flyer games. And her statue that had stood outside Philadelphia's sports arena since 1987, the year after she died, was quickly taken down.

Here's an excerpt.


KATE SMITH, SINGER: Someone had to slave and be able to sing. That's why darkies were born.


SMERCONISH: Well, in the wake of that, the "Philadelphia Inquirer" unearthed a radio address that Smith gave during World War II called "The Value of Tolerance." Smith called for every church and family to commit to tolerance and understanding.

While there's no audio clip from the January 1945 episode of the CBS program, "We the People," which, by the way, had millions of listeners, there is a transcript.

And it reads, in part, quote, race hatreds, social prejudices, religious bigotry, they are the diseases that eat away the fibers of peace. Unless they are exterminated, it's inevitable that we will have another war. And where are they going to be exterminated? At a conference table in Geneva? Not by a long shot. In your own city, your church, your children's school, perhaps in your home. The one thing the peoples of the world have got to learn if we are ever to have a lasting peace is tolerance.

So was Smith a racist or a champion of racial unity? Does she deserve to be written off? The Mayor of one Jersey Shore town has now weighed. Wildwood Mayer Ernie Troiano, Jr., says not only will Smith's "God Bless America" continue to be played at 11:00 a.m. every day on his town's boardwalk, but also if the statue becomes available, he'd be happy to bring it there.

He told the "New York Times" that he felt that Smith was not a racist and had raised millions for the war effort and been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Eighty-eight years ago, she did something that was, at the time, an acceptable means of conversation. I'm not saying it was right, but the times were different.

Well, yes, they were and, yes, they are. Still to come, when healthcare providers exhibit compassion, it actually saves lives according to a new book.

And how does a parking enforcement officer chalking your parked car tires violate your constitutional rights? Find out, next.


SMERCONISH: Have you ever gotten a parking ticket for overstaying your time because your tire was marked with chalk by an enforcement officer? Well, that tracking method dating back as far as the 1920s may be coming to an end thanks to a court case in Saginaw, Michigan initiated by my next guest.

Attorney Philip Ellison joins me now. Counsel, tell me the story of what led to this battle.

PHILIP ELLISON, ATTORNEY IN TIRE CHALKING CASE: Well, as all good stories start, it's by a fluke. I was talking with my co-counsel on this case, Matt Gronda. He's sitting in the courthouse road right next to the courthouse, and the lady who runs the chalking department, the parking enforcement department in Saginaw, came by and marked all of his tires. And all of the other tires of the neighboring cars.

And the next thing, going back and forth, is to say, well, how is this right? And is this a search? And lo and behold, a couple of hours of research later, we discovered it looks like it could be unconstitutional. We made a federal case out of it.

SMERCONISH: So you took to Facebook and you explained what happened to your colleague. While he's literally on the phone with you, the tire gets chalked. Now, forward-steps a woman who says, hey, I've been written up 14 times by that same individual, and now you launch the challenge. How is this a search?

[09:40:02] ELLISON: Well, this is a search because the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision about five years ago in a case called U.S. v. Jones, said if the government trespasses on your property, whether it's your car or your house or your yard, and they're doing it to extract information, that's a search.

And if it's a search, you either need a warrant or you got to be within the -- an exception to the warrant requirement. And the city of Saginaw, in their response to the lawsuit we filed, tried to assert two -- there are two big arguments, community caretaking and what's called the automobile exception.

And in both of those instances, the local judge bought it, and we appealed to the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. And the Sixth Circuit said neither one of those exceptions apply and reverse and remanded and held, in this instance, that they are putting a search when they put that chalk mark on your tire because they're invading your vehicle in the space that it belongs in. SMERCONISH: OK. So Sixth Circuit, which sits in Cincinnati, is

Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. What now? What about other states?

ELLISON: Well, as of right now, this ruling only applies to those four states that you've identified there as a binding precedent for federal court purposes.

However, for the rest of the country, it serves as a, I think, model or a benchmark that, perhaps, other municipalities should take note. Because I suspect another lawyer like me is going to bring a challenge like this to their individual communities and challenge their parking enforcement officials with their chalk marks in their hometowns.

SMERCONISH: Final question, did you win --

ELLISON: So I think it's going to be a persuasive authority for others.

SMERCONISH: Did you win the battle but lose the war because, now, they'll use technology and that'll cost taxpayers more?

ELLISON: Well, all I'm looking for is to make sure that the government stays off our property. And if they're going to be looking at us with cameras and things of that nature, that's probably going to be another case for another day.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Counsel.

ELLISON: Thank you very much for having me.

SMERCONISH: And make sure you go to the Web site,, and tell me -- agree or disagree with this week's survey question. More than anything else, the 2020 election is a referendum on one man, Donald Trump.

Still to come, people have long wondered, does compassion on the part of healthcare providers improve your chance of healing? A new book that looks at all the data says, resoundingly, yes. And one of the authors is here to explain.


[09:46:21] SMERCONISH: Compassion saves lives. That's the takeaway from a brand-new book that, for the first time, reviews all the relevant biomedical literature -- over 250 scientific research papers and more than a thousand research abstracts.

It turns out that compassion from healthcare providers isn't only proper and just but also improves patient outcomes. Compassion also decreases costs and combats the burnout that is rampant among those who provide care.

Joining me now is Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli. He's the co-president of Cooper University Health Care in Camden, New Jersey and co-author of "Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes a Difference."

Dr. Mazz (ph), the anecdotes in your book, very interesting. I'd be willing to bet that our viewers have stories of their own about how caring doctors improved their health, but it's the data that I find most compelling. Give us the evidence that compassion improves outcomes.


First, let's talk about diabetes. So when they look at healthcare providers that score on a standard tool as high in compassion, their patients with diabetes have an 80 percent higher odds of optimal glucose control, 80 percent higher odds of normal cholesterol, and 41 percent lower odds of having complications acutely that put them in the hospital.

Now, let's talk about HIV. Johns Hopkins did a study where they asked HIV patients, does your physician know you as a person? Of the patients that said yes, 33 percent lower odds of those patients -- or higher odds of those patients actually taking their medications and 20 percent higher odds of those patients having no viral load at all of HIV in their blood.

Now, think about surgery, patients in surgery. In multiple experiments of infusing compassion from either a doctor or a nurse in the preoperative area, those patients required less sedative medications in -- before going into the O.R. And then after the O.R., those patients needed less opioid pain medication, and they got out of the hospital quicker after their surgery.

SMERCONISH: What about cost? Because I -- my sense is that a lot of this is time-based, and physicians don't have time. Healthcare today is, what, 18 percent of GDP? How can being compassionate actually improve costs?

MAZZARELLI: So I'll give you a couple -- there are several in the book, I'll give you two quick examples. The first has to do with adherence to medication. So former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said something that he's famous for now that drugs don't work in patients that don't take them.

And so there's close to $300 billion a year in studies that show that preventable disease costs happen because people don't take their medications. And physicians who are rated higher in compassion have patients who are more likely to take their medications.

The second example I'll give you is -- has to do with resource use within healthcare. So physicians who practice and all healthcare providers who practice patient-centered care, those patients have lower annual medical charges. So in one study, in particular, those patients are 59 percent lower odds of being referred to a specialist and 84 percent lower diagnostic testing.

SMERCONISH: Burnout is another factor. I imagine that burnout would be impacted adversely because if I'm compassionate as a provider, it seems I'm going to get closer to my patients. I'm going to take their losses that much harder. Right or wrong?

[09:49:58] MAZZARELLI: Well, wrong. So burnout is an epidemic in healthcare right now. There -- one of the latest and hallmark studies that's come out shows that, actually, over 50 percent of providers show some sign of burnout. And traditional sort of teaching in medical school mirrors exactly what you're saying in that this idea of don't get too close to patients because you risk being burned out.

But in reviewing things for the book, my co-author, Steve Trzeciak, and I have actually found the opposite. And if you -- we go to the neuroscience literature to look at that. And in functional MRIs of those who treat others with compassion, what they found is it actually lights up the area of the brain that's associated with reward and positive emotion.

In other words, it's the opposite. Those who actually give compassion actually benefit themselves from providing compassion to others. So burnout isn't (ph) --

SMERCONISH: Quick final question.

MAZZARELLI: -- by being too close to patients. Yes?

SMERCONISH: Quick final question.


SMERCONISH: There's an illustration in the book. Put it up on the screen, Catherine (ph). A 7-year-old, I think, drew it. What's going on? Give me the bottom line as to the significance.

MAZZARELLI: So that is a picture that was actually published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association." You can see the pediatrician is -- actually has his face in the computer screen. The 7-year-old who's on the table drew it.

Because a lot of evidence shows that, now, physicians are spending more time looking at screens than looking patients in the eye, so you would think from our conversation that means, OK, time is the problem.

But, really, there's lots of data that shows you need less than a minute to actually deliver compassion and give that impression to patients. Five studies with a mean -- with a median of 40 seconds is all it takes to really demonstrate compassion to patients.

So, really, what we've found is there is science in the art of medicine, and that science is strong and it can be done. And that's what we're hoping we show when we combined stories with data in this book. That, really, we think compassion can be the wonder drug of the 21st century.

SMERCONISH: The book is called "Compassionomics," Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli and Dr. Steve Trzeciak. Thank you, Mazz (ph), appreciate it. MAZZARELLI: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. Here's your last shot to go vote at, then I'll give you the results of the survey question. More than anything else, the 2020 election is a referendum on one man, Donald Trump. Agree or disagree?


[09:55:40] SMERCONISH: So there's some of the social media reaction that's come in. Should be a referendum on Trump. Instead, it will be a vote against socialism and the crazy left.

Well, that's the Republican perspective. Time to see how you responded to the survey question at, more than anything else, the 2020 election is a referendum on Donald Trump. Survey says 11,492 -- wow, look at the result -- agree, 94 percent. Ninety-four percent. I'll leave the survey question up for the rest of the day.

What else, Catherine (ph)? Hit me with another one.

It is about Donald Trump, then the -- if it is. If it is about Donald Trump, then the Democrats have already lost.

Really? I wonder how you get there. I wonder how you get to that conclusion. I would think that if it's about Donald Trump, the country is split, right, right down the middle. And the economy is going to have something to do with it as well.

Thanks for watching. "American Life in Columns" tour continues Monday night in Atlanta. Tuesday night, I'll see you in Nashville. I'll see you next week.