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Political Ads Attacking Trump For Legal Troubles Backfire; WAPO Deletes & Apologizes For Hamas "Human Shields" Cartoon; RFK Jr. Leads With Young, Independent Swing State Voters. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 11, 2023 - 09:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: No? OK. All right. Yes, comes in.

John Boyega standing right next to Jalen Hurts. We know you like Patrick Dempsey, but here's another option for you. Lorraine's tape, this is Essence talking now, this is Essence, has been fine for 30 years. They have put them on the magazine once. What does a Morris Chestnut have to do to get on the list? Essence magazine talking, I'm just reporting.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 08:00 Eastern. Smerconish is up next.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Voting with conviction, I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.

Can anything shake Donald Trump's hold on the Republican nomination? The polls are nothing if not consistent. Here's what they show. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are the likely favorites to win their party's presidential nomination. As of today, that matchup is close viewed nationally or by battleground state, it's probably Trump who's in the lead.

Polls show Americans overwhelmingly think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, that Trump benefits from the perception that he's best for the economy and kept the United States out of war and Biden perceived by many as being too old for the job. Of course, as bad as the polling has been for Biden, Tuesday's off year elections were big for Democrats. Big in Ohio, in Kentucky, in Virginia. From the day after coverage in "The Washington Post," there was this, "For Democrats, Tuesday's results were an antidote to recent polls national end in key states showing Biden losing to Trump. Polls don't vote quickly became a post Tuesday mantra for the president's allies and advocates though Biden's challenges are serious and will remain. Before anybody projects too far ahead, Tuesday's results concentrated in a few states and with voter turnout lower than it is likely to be a year from now, when Americans everywhere will vote for president are not a reliable indicator of what lies ahead."

Of course, to face Biden, Trump first needs to secure the Republican nomination. And here again, the polls paint a consistent picture that Trump is far ahead of his GOP opponents. This week for the third time he skipped a GOP debate. That's probably the clearest sign of his command. And this is all despite him being four times indicted. Plus being in the midst of a New York civil fraud trial in which the judge has already found him liable. The only question being litigated there the amount of money damages.

Meanwhile, there are these efforts being waged right now to deny him ballot access based on an interpretation of the 14th amendment which contends that he's precluded from running because he engaged in insurrection. Here's the thing. The legal peril surrounding Donald Trump thus far has been to his political benefit. His hold on the GOP has increased with every indictment right or wrong. The perception among Republicans and some Independents is that the establishment has coalesced to deny voters the opportunity to return Donald Trump to office.

The Wall Street Journal correctly framed the resulting question with this headline will trump be indicted into office? Unknown is whether this pattern would hold if Trump were not just indicted, but actually convicted. As of now, Trump is scheduled to face trial next March 4 for the alleged election interference case before Judge Tanya Chutkan in federal court in Washington, D.C. That's right in the middle of Republican primary voting.

So, what happens if Trump is tried and convicted next spring? Well, there was some indication about that in the "New York Times" Siena College poll that landed with a thunderclap this week. That's the poll that showed Trump leading Biden in five of six battleground states. As the times analysis noted, 'If the former president is convicted and sentenced, as many of his allies expect him to be in the January 6 related trial held next year in Washington, D.C., then around 6 percent of voters across Arizona. Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin say they would switch their votes to Mr. Biden, that would be enough potentially to decide the election.

But is it really so clear cut? Recently, Politico revealed that a conservative anti Trump pack called when it back tested for campaign ads intended to highlight Trump's legal troubles. The ads were then shown to focus groups of Republican primary voters. And Politico obtained 260 pages of data analysis, revealing how they were received. None of the four moves support away from Donald Trump. In fact, three of them caused Trump's support to grow.

The most pointed of the ads featured a man saying this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been with Trump from the start, but truthfully I don't know what happens if he is convicted while he is running. What happens then? What would that look like? I don't think any of us can see that crystal ball, what that's going to look like other than just Biden cruises it. Let's just say that can happen.


SMERCONISH: That ad the ad that raised the prospect of a Trump conviction, actually poor perform -- the worst in a hypothetical matchup against Ron DeSantis. The bottom line is this, this sophisticated advertising effort to harm Trump with Republican primary voters by highlighting the prospect of his conviction, it actually helped him. No wonder then that the commercials were shelved, never aired.

Joining me now is Alex Isenstadt reporter for Politico. He broke the story about the ads.

Alex, thank you so much for being here. So, tell me about the pack. Who are these people? What was the aim?

ALEX ISENSTADT, REPORTER, POLITICO: Sure. So this was a pack that was designed expressly to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination, it has links to another conservative group called the Club for Growth, which is ward with Trump in the past. And this group basically has run millions of dollars of ads in early primary states targeting Trump. It doesn't support any other candidate, but it's -- and so what they've done is they've done a lot of research into what ads might work and what ads might not work. And so I was able to obtain copies of ads that they did not run, as you just mentioned, that were designed to try to highlight Trump's legal difficulties.

And to make the case that if he were to be nominated for Republicans, you'd have a lot of problems against Joe Biden, because he'd be dealing with these numerous cases next year. Those ads, as you mentioned, they failed and they haven't run and people aren't getting a chance to see them until now. And so, that's what's going on in this in this particular situation.

SMERCONISH: Alex, you've looked at 260 pages of analysis from these focus groups, what stands out? What was the reaction?

ISENSTADT: What stands out is that all these ads failed. In fact, of the four ads that they experimented with, that they tested in terms of its response from like the Republican primary voters, three of them have the impact of increasing Trump support in the primary. And if they did anecdotal analysis of how people reacted to some of these ads, and a lot of them were very negative. People don't like the idea. A lot of the respondents didn't like the idea that this group was out there attacking Trump, telling people that Trump was about to be potentially even convicted, raising that prospect. It was something that just did not play over well with people who viewed these ads, and so they weren't run.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to show -- I'm going to show a part of another one. And I want to underscore what I found interesting was the approach. A kind of a soft approach that, this is going to be from a female spokesperson. The gist of which was the same, which is to say, well you know, I was with Trump, I liked Trump, I liked the policies of Trump, but now what I see coming with all the legal trouble. Let's roll it and then you can comment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I've been a Trump defender from day one. I feel like he was never given a fair shot. It's tough for me to say, but I really don't want that baggage right now. They will sensationalized all of these Trump trials. Just too much distraction. Biden's going to trump Trump. Give me a candidate that's going to give me a win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Win it backpack is responsible for --


SMERCONISH: Alex, here's what occurs to me, I might be surprised by this, you may have been surprised by this, the voters watching, and CNN might be surprised, you know, who's not surprised, the individuals who were on that debate stage in Miami this week. This is the explanation as to why none of them go after Trump and say -- maybe Chris Christie is the exception. But none of them go after him say this guy is about to be not only indicted, but convicted. Right? They get this.

ISENSTADT: Absolutely. And it's a good bet. They're seeing the same poll numbers that this group saw before they went on stage. They were thinking about how to deal with these kinds of questions surrounding Donald Trump. Look, here's the deal.

What this shows big picture is that Trump's hold on the party is really quite strong as we headed towards Iowa voting which is just a couple of months away. And in fact, these legal troubles, they've strengthened his hold on the party. People are buying into Trump's argument to a large extent that he's the victim that's trying to stop him. And so, it puts his opponents -- his rival in a really tough spot.


SMERCONISH: The Wall Street Journal -- the Wall Street Journal the Wall Street Journal wrote about, this was the headline that I flashed on the screen that said, hey, you're going to indict him right into office, and they discussed your work at Politico. So, I took a look at the comments. There were more than 4,000 comments. Here was the number one comment at the Wall Street Journal on this issue when I read in, "If only the nation's premier law enforcement entities hadn't knowingly tried to frame Trump for colluding with Russia, hadn't suppressed news of hunters laptop and had 51 key intel officials lie and call it Russian disinformation, hadn't suppressed 40 credible witnesses to the FBI who reported potential crimes of Biden's influence peddling instead, investigating them need I go on, then perhaps the country would be taking these indictments against Trump seriously. Too late for that now."

The point being that the cumulative impact of all of this is causing people to say, it's too much and it's political. You get the final word.

ISENSTADT: That's exactly the kind of responses that the group got when they wouldn't backpack got when they tested these ads. It's remarkable. Look, these legal indictments have in many ways augmented their primary. And so for Trump's opponents, how to take him down? How to stop him from winning the nomination at this point? It's just really hard.

SMERCONISH: Alex, great reporting. Thank you so much for being here.

ISENSTADT: Thanks, Michael. Thank you for having me.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Hit me up on social media. I'll get to some throughout the course of the program. Katherine (ph), what do we have? From the world of ex Jayhawk. "Liberal the primary nomination voters, Primary nomination voters are worlds apart from Independents and disaffected Republicans ads attacking Trump's legal problems will work in the general election, especially if a conviction looms at the time."

Jayhawk, I don't think any of us know. I mean, the one thing that seems pretty certain is that barring the unforeseen, a significant change, we're less than 70 days out from Iowa. He seems to have a stranglehold on the primary process. So you say well, what could change this narrative? Oh, the trials that may occur in the spring.

And now you see how an effort that highlights the idea of conviction that helps them too. We don't know. We don't know, never seen anything like this before, totally unpredictable.

Speaking of which, up ahead, America knows Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm in which she plays Larry David's ex-wife. In real life, she's the wife of RFK Jr, who since he decided to run as an Independent is performing better than expected in the polls, and positioning himself as a serious threat to both parties. On top of that, the campaign says they have a plan to get ballot access in all 50 states. So, what would Cheryl Hines be like if she were the nation's first lady? She's here to discuss.

And after this editorial cartoon of "The Washington Post" about Hamas using civilians as human shields caused a backlash. "The Post" took the unusual step of deleting it and apologizing for it. The Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist behind that illustration Michael Ramirez is here.

And by the way, I want to know what you think. Go to and tell me, should "The Washington Post" have removed the cartoon titled "Human shields."



SMERCONISH: How fractious how divisive has the Israel-Hamas war become? It caused a major American newspaper to delete an editorial cartoon that it had published about the conflict. We've already seen the battles on college campuses, at city council meetings, in the streets and on the House floor where this week the only Palestinian member of Congress Rashida Tlaib was censured over her rhetoric over the war. And then on Wednesday, "The Washington Post" took the unusual step of pulling an editorial cartoon about the conflict and opening up a page for reader comments. The cartoon is by two time Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez who will join me in just a moment. The illustration is titled, "Human Shields." It depicts a man labeled Hamas who is saying, how dare Israel attack civilians while he has tied to his body two infants, two children and a woman. Post opinion editor David Shipley, who had selected the cartoon wrote in a note to readers that the image quote, "Was seen by many as racist. This was not my intent. I saw the drawing as a caricature of a specific individual, the Hamas spokesperson who celebrated the attacks on unarmed civilians in Israel.

However, the reaction to the image convinced me that I had missed something profound, and divisive, and I regret that. Our section is aimed at finding commonalities, understanding the bonds that hold us together, even in the darkest times."

While the cartoon was taken down at "The Washington Post," it's still posted on the website of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Joining me now is editorial cartoonist, Michael Ramirez. In addition to winning the Pulitzer in 1994 and 2008, he's the author of the books, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Obamacare," and "Everyone has the Right to My Opinion."

OK, Michael, thanks for being here. Tell me what you're depicting. Is this a composite character? Or is this the Hamas spokesman?

MICHAEL RAMIREZ, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING EDITORIAL CARTOONIST: It's a caricature of Hamid Karzai who went on Lebanon television and hailed the October 7 slaughter of innocent men, women children, and then threatened to repeat it over and over again. And so, the cartoon in its specificity is about Hamas, not Palestine in general. I mean, the civilians in Gaza are as much of the victims as the Israelis were on October 7 because of Hamas.

SMERCONISH: When you say it's not about Palestinians in general or Palestine in general, put that, Katherine, back up for one more second so that people could see it. When you use the Palestinian flag, are you not conflating all Palestinians with Hamas? And in that --



SMERCONISH: -- photograph that's hanging on -- that's hanging on the wall, I think what I see is the Dome of the Rock. Similarly, are you conflating all of Islam with Hamas?

RAMIREZ: No, because that's the sheikh who actually was the founder of Hamas. You just can't see it because it's been kind of way because -- "The Post" demands in vertical cartoon.

SMERCONISH: Well, is that is that the dome of -- is that the Dome of the Rock behind the sheikh? Or am I reading something into it that you didn't intend?

RAMIREZ: Well, no, if you look at the Review Journal -- and by the way, let me clarify a couple of things, I'm the editorial cartoonist for the Las Vegas Review Journal. And I had this extraordinary collaboration with "The Washington Post," where I do two cartoons for them a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and they run simultaneously in the Review Journal and "The Washington Post."

The Review Journal has a as a horizontal format, "The Washington Post" has a vertical one. Unfortunately, that was edited out, but these obscure images in the background only lend to the point of the cartoon and are not the point of the cartoon. The point of the cartoon is in its specificity is on Hamid Karzai in that interview that came out on television here nationally, at the same time that this cartoon was conceived. It is directed specifically at that individual.

And if you look, I sent you a bunch of caricatures. It's a pretty spot on caricature of Hamid Karzai.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to -- actually what I want to put on the screen is to show because much has been said about your style of drawing, in this case, facial characteristics, and I found this interesting. Here's a composite of your work. Well, OK, that that's the spokesperson to whom you were referring. Katherine, I want to put on the screen -- there we go. So, I don't know if you can see this, Michael, but I'm showing lots of your work. I'm showing John Fetterman, I'm showing Barney Frank, I'm showing Donald Trump, I'm showing Elizabeth Warren, because it seems like you draw a lot of faces in the same characteristic in the same manner.

RAMIREZ: But you know, Michael, if you look at the background characters, like the generic characters, my cartoon, they all have long noses and beady eyes, and they're bald, because I draw the thing I'm most familiar with, which is my face when I shave every morning. These are cartoons. You know, it's sad that these -- just images can compel a bunch of people to run further safe rooms clutching their participation trophies. If they can just imagine --

SMERCONISH: I was surprised about -- Michael, I was surprised about something, the editorial page comment that I posted from the editorial page editor, Mr. Shipley, he spoke of finding commonalities as being one of the objectives. I am a huge fan of editorial cartoonists, three of them draw for my daily newsletter, because I just love this sort of thing. I've never believed that finding commonalities was the purpose of your work. I'm curious to know your reaction to that.

RAMIREZ: Well, you know and I want to defend David Shipley as well. I think David has done a great job at "The Washington Post." He's brought a series of voices that they didn't have before to broaden their political perspective. And it's so important.

I'm a big fan of David. And while we disagree on this issue, and I'm sad that they did that, I think it was under pressure from a newsroom. You know, it's sad these days that newsrooms across these big liberal papers, they think of these images and words as weapons, and they weaponize this. And they try to -- they try to force the paper itself to follow whatever subjective criteria they have for these guidelines, and it's unfortunate. I think it's a threat to liberty (ph).

SMERCONISH: I want you to respond to -- I want you to respond to some of the criticism. Katherine, put up the criticism from Suzanne van -- I'm going to mispronounce the last name, G-E-U-N, there we go. OK. So this is one of the comments that came in. the writer is a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Culture and Society and religion at Princeton.

She says, "Mr. Ramirez's November 8 cartoon depicted a Hamas representative tying women and children to himself to us as human shields then blaming Israel for their deaths. Though no one disputes that Hamas hides in civilian areas to evade the Israeli army," this is the key part now, "this cartoon amounted to an attempt at excusing Israeli war crimes." Your reaction to that is what?

RAMIREZ: That's just ridiculous. Look, the cartoon was very specific and who I was directing it to. It did not justify anything that Israel did. It pointed out the hypocrisy of an organization that uses people. And I think there's plenty of empirical evidence that shows Hamas does this, not only do they use people as human shields, they operate in densely populated areas and under hospitals. So there's no question they can't debate the point of the cartoon so they use race card as a way to eliminate a contrary political opinion that they don't agree with.


SMERCONISH: I always thought that editorial cartoons were to spark civil conversation and discourse, not necessarily to bring out our commonalities. And if I'm right, then we've just achieved that.

Thank you so much for being here. You've inspired today's poll question. This is going to be really interesting to see how it turns out, Michael.

RAMIREZ: Michael, thanks for having me on.

SMERCONISH: OK, gang there it is. Go to Now you've seen it. Now you've heard his explanation. You also heard the criticism.

Should "The Washington Post" have removed that cartoon titled, "Human Shields?" Social media reaction. From the world of YouTube, I think, what do we have? Editorial cartoons are meant to show a viewpoint and make you think, says Lisette. Yes, I agree with you.

Obviously, you know, within bounds, not to promulgate hate speech, and so forth. And by the way, you know, this was interpreted as conflating so much of Palestinians and Islam generally with Hamas, people didn't like that. There was an editorial cartoon of the Philadelphia Inquirer for which the Inquirer and the cartoonist apologize. Do we have that one, Katherine, of that which got yanked from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the boot?

Yes. Hang on for one second, we'll show it to you here. Yes, look at this. I mean, is that appropriate? Is that within bounds? The cartoonist in the newspaper apologized in that case.

All right. Up ahead, will RFK Jr. shake up our two party political system? Emmy nominated actress Cheryl Hines from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is here to discuss how her husband has a slight edge against Biden and Trump among Gen Z and millennial voters.

Don't forget to sign up for the daily newsletter. Jack Omen (ph), by the way, speaking of Curb checkout with Jack Drew (ph) for my newsletter this week. Love that.



SMERCONISH: I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm for this next segment. That's because I'm about to speak to Larry David's TV ex-wife Cheryl Hines or as she's known off screen Mrs. RFK Jr. She's here because her real-life husband could be poised to turn our two-party political system on its head.

First, let me explain. I have noted already today how former President Trump is beating President Biden in five out of six battleground states in a hypothetical matchup for the 2024 presidential race. That's the Times/Siena College poll.

Only two percent of registered voters in that poll said they would support another ill-defined candidate. But if Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s name is specifically added to that ballot, as a third option, the nearly a quarter of voters said they would choose him over Trump or Biden. RFK Jr. polling between 22 and 26 percent of support among swing state voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. Among Gen-Z and millennial voters, he's beating both Biden and Trump. And among independents in those battleground states, RFK showing a comfortable lead with 39 percent to Biden's 28 and to Trump's 25.

So, RFK Jr.'s campaign if they are able to mobilize these young independent and swing voters, we might see a repeat of the '68 presidential race rather than the 2020 race. I refer to when independent presidential candidate George Wallace beat both the Republican and Democratic nominee in five states. But, of course, ballot access is a major hurdle for independent candidates, not to mention motivating enough voters to turn out. Larry David himself once covered this subject on "Curb."


LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: Hey. Can I ask you a personal question?


DAVID: Who are you voting for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raymond Schneider.

DAVID: You're voting for Raymond Schneider.


DAVID: I have a proposition for you. I'm voting for Mayo. We kind of cancel each other out, you know, this line. Why don't we get the hell out of here?


DAVID: Huh? Yes? Beautiful. Let's go.


SMERCONISH: Cheryl Hines joins me now. She's an Emmy nominated actress, director, producer, philanthropist, comedian, businesswoman, and wife of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Cheryl, great to have you here. You have obviously got tons on your own plate. How active a role are you playing in this campaign?

CHERYL HINES, WIFE OF 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RFK JR.: I would say pretty active. I am -- you know, definitely, Bobby and I spend a lot of time talking about issues and how -- what people need and how we are hearing from them and going around the country. And, you know, at the end of the day we say, oh, what I'm hearing is people are having a hard time paying their bills. They feel like Democrats and Republicans aren't paying attention to them. So, we have a lot of really good discussions.

SMERCONISH: I covered the announcement in Philadelphia when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that now he's taking a shot as an independent. You with introduced him. Here's a snippet of that.


HINES: One thing I know about Bobby is if he hears that can't be done or you can't do it, it only sparks a fire in him and it makes him fight harder. So, I'm here to tell you that Bobby is ready to fight for you guys. Are you ready for him to fight for you?



SMERCONISH: "Curb" is famously unscripted. Has that prepared you for the role of being a politician's wife?

HINES: It definitely has helped. I mean, as you can imagine, it's very unpredictable. Everything that you do day-to-day on the campaign trail, you don't know who you're going to meet. You don't know, you know, where you're going until you get there. So, it's been helpful. Yes, it's been helpful.

SMERCONISH: Have you allowed yourself to think what it would be like to be first lady of the United States? You know that we have come to expect first ladies to have passion projects. Laura Bush, reading. Michelle Obama, I think of obesity and the garden. Jill Biden, I think of education. What would be Cheryl Hines as first lady passion project?

HINES: Well, I have always been passionate about public schools. So, I have done a lot of work in different schools around the country. Going in and activating the community to get involved in that school. We have gone -- you know, we started in Compton. We did several schools there. We went to Detroit and Nashville and Las Vegas. And it's very inspiring to me because, first of all, we need to be doing better for our kids and for the teachers. But just to see the community coming together and they actually want to help, they want to do something.

And a lot of times, you know, of course, they don't have the resources. But then if you organize enough people, it's really surprising and inspiring how many parents come out, even the teachers would come out and paint their classrooms and clean the school and plant flowers and get other businesses to partner with them to donate computers and things that the school really needs. I mean, there are some really underserved schools out there and I don't think it's fair to our kids. And to the --

SMERCONISH: How do your -- how do your politics align with his? I mean, there was quite a story made of the fact that you distance yourself from Bobby's comments when he invoked Anne Frank at a vax mandate rally.

You tweeted -- I'll put it on the screen. You said, hey, you know, my politics -- there it is. My husband's opinions are not a reflection of my own. While we love each other, we differ on many current issues.

I guess, that's typical of a lot of relationships and spouses, but lay it out for us. Like, where --


SMERCONISH: -- is the commonality and where is the divide?

HINES: We have 99 percent in common. I am a more -- I get more concerned about people's feelings, I suppose. So, during that time, it was very heated. It was heated with the vaccines and the masks, and I come from a place of if it makes people feel better, just wear the mask. It's not going to hurt you.

And Bobby comes from a place -- you know, he's an attorney. He wants to see the facts. He wants to know -- he wants to know why we're doing this and is it safe and is it OK.

So, at that point in time it was very heated. So, that's where that was coming from. But, you know, Bobby is pro-choice. He's very concerned about the -- middle America, about working-class people, and making sure that they have what they need and that they can get houses and that they can keep their jobs. And I -- and he's -- you know, he wants to keep the peace. So, I am 100 percent with him on all of that.

SMERCONISH: There was a story in "Variety" speaking of keeping the peace that said that -- we'll put that on the screen as well that there was actual contemplation or an offer that he made to you. Like, hey, if we need to separate, just for the sake of offering you some protection, I'm willing to do it. Was that a true story? Tell us about it. HINES: Yes. That's a true story. Well, you know, Bobby is a very caring person. And he could see that what he was doing, you know, being out there on the front line, was difficult for me. Because I was hearing it from both sides during that time.

The vaccines, people really like them. People really dislike them. And I was getting it from both sides. And at some point -- you know, he did not want to see me go through that. He said maybe we should just -- we could separate.


And I said, no. That's not the answer.

SMERCONISH: Cheryl, how concerned -- how concerned are you for the obvious reasons, his name is Kennedy, he's running for president, about his personal safety? I know the audience probably knows that you want him to have Secret Service protection. That has not been afforded. How worried are you and why do you think he hasn't been given Secret Service protection?

HINES: I'm very, very concerned because of his family's history, because of the state of the world right now. It's scary. And it's hard to -- for me to say why he hasn't been given Secret Service because Barack Obama got Secret Service 551 days out. Teddy Kennedy received Secret Service 441 days out. So, it's -- I'm not sure why Bobby is being denied. I mean, it seems like it's political --

SMERCONISH: Well, I know, from reading in I know the explanation that's offered from the administration is that one has to attain major candidate status. If the "Times" -- if "The New York Times" and Siena College polls that I have shown the audience are accurate, I would think that someone who is in the 20s is there.

You referenced President Obama. That was a -- quote -- "unique circumstance" because he was African-American and was obviously a major party candidate. There were a lot of threats. And in the case of Teddy, that was Jimmy Carter, who understood more than a year out, hey, he's a Kennedy.

HINES: Right and also -- and also --

SMERCONISH: And you also had an incident where somebody was on your property, right?

HINES: That's right. Yes. There have been several incidents, yes. I was actually home during that time and I saw -- you know, it's very scary.

And so, it does seem like there are other reasons that Bobby is not getting Secret Service. Because, just like you said, if he does get Secret Service then that's admitting that, yes, he's a viable candidate. And I don't think -- I don't think the administration wants to admit that yet. It's really unfortunate. It's ridiculous.

SMERCONISH: Cheryl, thank you for being here. We appreciate it. HINES: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Social media reaction now. What do we have from the world of X, formerly Twitter?

RFK Jr. gets security when he becomes the candidate after the primaries into the final push. He plays for it -- he plays for it up until then. I think you mean pays. Just like all the others. Not until then.

No, Dillyfillynilly. We just explained, and you can look up the fact that there are exceptions. There's really not an ironclad rule and there are exceptions.

By this stage, Barack Obama had Secret Service protection. By this stage, Teddy Kennedy, in '80 running against Jimmy Carter, Carter gave it to him. So, yes. I think Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden administration ought to make it happen for this guy for all the obvious reasons.

Still to come, more of your best and worst social media comments. And I want to remind you to answer the poll question at Should the "Washington Post" have removed the cartoon titled "Human Shields?" The cartoon was featured in the November 8 print edition of the paper. Yes, there it is. Get another look at it. Then it was deleted. Fierce criticism.

By the way, be sure to sign up when you vote for the daily newsletter. I have got my own stable of editorial cartoonist including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Breen who drew that for us this week.



SMERCONISH: A quick check on social media thus far. Keep them coming. What do we have, Catherine? From the world of X.

This keep Trump off the ballot is the biggest form of election interference in history.

Well, Doug, you're not the only one who thinks that. I mean, that on top of the four indictments and on top of the civil fraud effort in New York, it's all just -- it's perceived among Republicans and a significant number of independents as, you know, all those things that Trump talks about, the -- quote -- unquote -- "deep state coalescing" to deny his voters the opportunity to support him. You don't have to believe what I just said, but you have to acknowledge that it is a widely held perception and it's helping him. What else came in?

Trump's legal troubles might benefit him, but they don't benefit the Republican Party. Just ask Vivek like cake.

Right, I hear you. Although -- I mean, the Republican Party, you know, in 2017, '18, '19, '20, '21, '22, and now '23 has sustained significant losses. Therein lies the sort of dichotomy in the data. Poll after poll showing Biden and Trump competitive. Trump even winning. And then you got Tuesday. And you say, well, you know, which is it going to be? That Tuesday was the more reliable indicator or was it that which came out in all the polls including the Times/Siena College?

Still to come, the final results of the poll question at I'm asking this. Should the "Washington Post" have removed the cartoon titled "Human Shields?" This is Michael Ramirez's political cartoon. As you can see, it depicts a Hamas spokesperson saying, how dare Israel attack civilians while a frightened looking woman and four small children remain bound with rope to his body?

If you subscribe to my daily newsletter at you get our exclusive editorial cartoonist. Here's the legendary Rob Rogers writing for us this week.



SMERCONISH: All right, there's the results thus far. Should the "Washington Post" -- wow, decisive. Should the "Post" have removed the cartoon titled "Human Shields?" Nearly 28,000 and 84 percent say, no, they should not have removed it. And that happens to be the correct answer. Keep voting. I'll leave it up there.

Social media, what else has come in here during the course of the program? We have got this. If a political cartoon makes everybody happy it wouldn't be a good political cartoon.

So true, Shawn. They are meant to make people think and engage in political discourse often about difficult issues.

Yes, within parameters. Don't spread hate speech, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But the kind of conversation we've had about this today is, I think, what they are intended to inspire and it has all been proper and we have acknowledged the criticisms of that cartoon.


One more, I think I've got time for it. What do we have?

You keep trying to make RFK Jr. a thing. He's going nowhere, says Ex-G -- I'm not trying to make RFK Jr. a thing at all. I'm taking note of the fact, because I bet you didn't know, until I brought it up today, that 20-plus percent of younger voters, according to the "Times" and Siena, in battleground states, say I'm going to vote for him.

If those numbers hold, he will have a significant impact on the outcome of this race. And you won't be surprised because I will have brought you that information rather than suppressing it from you. No, I think it is significant.

And by the way, she's terrific. I would interview Cheryl regardless of whether Bobby was running for president.

I want to wish everybody a happy Veterans Day. The holiday marking the end of major hostilities of World War I, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That's how we get where we are today. So happy Veterans Day. And let's hope for peace everywhere. Thank you.