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State of the Union

Interview With California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Ebola Fears; Interview With California Congressman Darrell Issa; Interview With Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Interview With Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Aired October 26, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: After a Manhattan doctor returns from Guinea with Ebola, New York, New Jersey and Illinois trump federal guidelines with their own travel regulations.

Today, a top doc at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Tony Fauci, on whether the states are on to something the feds should have been, and an exclusive with the chair of a key House committee who blasts the federal government response as bumbling.


REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think we all know that the system is not yet refined to where we could say it's working properly.


CROWLEY: Then: a hatchet attack in Queens and a deadly shooting in Ottawa -- this week's focus on the lone wolf, the Internet and ISIS.




CROWLEY: A conversation with the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Dianne Feinstein.

Plus, ticktock, nine shopping days left until the elections, and fear is selling. Republican and Democratic Party Chairs Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz join us.



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CROWLEY: Our political roundtable crunches the numbers, dissects the closing arguments, and gives us predictions for midterms 2014.


Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.

New York, New Jersey, and Illinois abruptly imposed mandatory 21- day quarantines on all health care workers returning from West Africa. The first person to be quarantined, a nurse, wrote in "The Dallas Morning News" of her concern for other workers returning to the U.S. -- quote -- "I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine."

Here now joining me, Dr. Tony Fauci is longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

You let go one of the nurses from Dallas this week.


CROWLEY: Cured of Ebola, so I know that's a big relief to you.

FAUCI: Indeed.

CROWLEY: We now have a doctor quarantined up in New York. And that apparently is what prompted these new rules from New York, from Illinois, and from New Jersey. What do you think of them?

FAUCI: Well, I think there are two principles we need to stick with. One, protecting the American people is paramount, but to do that...

CROWLEY: I think they would agree with you on that.

FAUCI: Yes. You have got to make your decisions and your policy based on the scientific data.

And scientific data and the evidence tells us that people who are not ill, who don't have symptoms, who -- with whom you don't come into contact with body fluids, they are not a threat, they are not going to spread it. So, we have to be careful when we make policy, that we don't have unintended consequences, where you group everyone in the same category, that just because you came back from there, that therefore you're in this category.

We do have stratification of risk and stratification of monitoring. That's critical, based on scientific data. I'm concerned of the disincentive for the health care workers. And it's interesting. I think people lose that the best way to protect us is to stop it in Africa.

And one of the best ways to stop it in Africa is to get health workers who are going there and helping them with their problem. When they come back, they need to be treated in a way that doesn't disincentivize them from going there.


And I think this nurse sounded as though she was surprised by this, as was everybody else. But if a health care goes to West Africa, deals with Ebola patients, and knows when they come back, they will be in a 21-day quarantine...

FAUCI: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: ... what is the harm with that?

FAUCI: Well, the harm that it is totally disruptive of their life if you put even a person who is no risk to everyone else.

CROWLEY: But, Doctor, so is going to West Africa to treat Ebola patients, one would think.

FAUCI: Well, exactly, but we want them to go, because they are helping us to protect America by going over there.

What I think people need to understand is the scientific evidence tells you that you're not going to transmit it. We don't want to be cavalier, Candy. There are ways of monitoring people. There's passive monitoring. There's active monitoring, where you take your temperature.

CROWLEY: There is monitoring now at airports, right.

FAUCI: Really. And there's -- yes, but I'm talking about when they come home and they're in their home. If, in fact, they're at a certain risk, they will then be actively monitored, in the sense of somebody taking your temperature, asking you if you have symptoms.

There's a big, big difference between completely confining somebody that they can't even get outside and doing the appropriate monitoring based on scientific evidence.

CROWLEY: But this is based, I think, on a doctor who came back, had been treating patients in Guinea. He comes home. He's fine for four, five, six, seven days.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: All of a sudden begins to feel tired. The night before he comes down with a fever, he's out bowling and eating and doing ordinary things...

FAUCI: Right. Right. Right.

CROWLEY: ... and then obviously gets a fever, reports himself, they come get him.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: You would eliminate a lot of that...

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: ... you would not be worried about...

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: ... his fiancee, you would not be worried about the bowling alley, the New York governor would not have to walk down the streets...

FAUCI: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: ... to prove that everything is just fine in the subways...

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: ... if it you had it -- say, look, a doctor, you have been treating Ebola patients, time for to you take 21 days off.

FAUCI: Right. Right.

There are monitoring guidelines that tell you how you can do that and accomplish the same goal. For example, the monitoring would have picked up at the time he got symptoms and a temperature. Before that, he was not infective to everyone.

I know, sometimes, it's difficult. People want to be completely, 100 percent risk-free of anything. When do you that, you might have the unintended consequence of having people not wanting to go over there. And if that's the case, they're not going to do very well if they don't have doctors and nurses that are helping them.

CROWLEY: So, to you, the primary reason here would be that you are discouraging health care workers from going...

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: ... and stopping this where it would count?

FAUCI: Right. Right. Right.

CROWLEY: I want to read you something that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, one of those who -- who joined in this mandatory isolation and quarantine for health care workers: "I am sorry" -- speaking of nurse -- "I'm sorry if in any way she was inconvenienced, but inconvenience that could occur from having folks that are symptomatic and ill out amongst the public is a much, much greater concern of mine."

FAUCI: Right. CROWLEY: So, certainly, nothing was done intentionally to try to

inconvenience her or try to make her uncomfortable.

FAUCI: Right.

The key word, symptomatic and ill. He was not. And that's the thing we have to keep emphasizing, Candy. The scientific data tells you, if you are not ill, if you don't have symptoms, if someone doesn't come into contact with your body fluids, diarrhea or vomit, they're not going to get infected. That's the point.

CROWLEY: Dr. Fauci, do you think part of the problem is, people don't believe the federal doctors or the federal government anymore on this?

FAUCI: Right.

Well, that could be the case. Trying hard to get people to understand why the scientific data is the thing that should drive our policy, drive our decisions -- there's -- there's not a cavalier attitude. Our first goal is to protect the American people, but you want to do it in a way that has a scientific basis to it.

CROWLEY: I guess the question is, as you know, it is widely perceived, at the beginning of this, that the Dallas hospital and the CDC and what Americans felt they were told about all of this got botched.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: And now the states, certainly three governors, don't trust that the guidelines are tough enough, that really will keep the folks in their state safe.

FAUCI: Right.

Well, first of all, we could go reexamine the early part that was difficult. Obviously, there were some missteps there. But, again, you don't want to make a blanket change in something that might have negative consequences.

You want to continue to make the safety of the American public paramount. But it is critically important that you do that based on scientific evidence and data. And it tells us who can transmit and who can't.

CROWLEY: One -- another governor, Florida Governor Rick Scott, has said that, starting from now, he wants to have -- to put folks that have come from West Africa, be they health care workers or otherwise, in the affected countries, the three affected countries at this point, into 21-day health evaluations with his Department of Health.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: So, twice daily, they would take part in these health evaluations.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: And here's what he said when he put -- put out this at the same time. "We have asked the CDC to identify the risk levels of all returning individuals -- individuals from these areas," and move into Florida, "but they have not provided that information."

FAUCI: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: "Therefore, we are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area to take part in twice-daily 21-day health evaluations."

Anything wrong with that?

FAUCI: Well, again...

CROWLEY: And, again, it's -- see it's the mistrust of the CDC.

FAUCI: Exactly. That's unfortunate.

The fact is that there are different levels of risk. There's high risk, there's some, but -- and then there's minimum risk. The -- you have to look at it in a stratified way. When someone is at a high risk, clearly, you want to be much more aggressive.

If someone is at a some, but not zero risk, low risk, but not zero risk, and then no risk, all of those things have got to be taken into consideration. You want to make sure that you understand that you don't want to have negative consequences.

But you have to underscore, the first principle is to protect the American people, so don't let anybody get the idea that that's not a concern, we're only concerned about the convenience of health care workers.

That's not the case. First principle is always protect the American people.

CROWLEY: Right now, can you tell the American people -- and we should say, you're the person that the administration wanted to have come out here and talk about this.

FAUCI: Right.

CROWLEY: Can you assure the American people that absolutely everything is in place...

FAUCI: Right. Right.

CROWLEY: ... that will keep them safe?

FAUCI: It's a dynamic process. And you can continue to reevaluate. And you make changes in

fine-tuning. I think it would be foolish for anyone to say, under any circumstances, that everything is absolutely perfect.

The government, the CDC, the administration continually fine- tunes and makes sure we're doing it right. We want to get it right. That doesn't mean, from the get-go, it's 100 percent right, but you want to keep going there.

CROWLEY: Right. But if you're -- if you're the person that gets the Ebola virus before you get it right, it's kind of...

FAUCI: But, Candy, look at the evidence. Who has gotten infected outside of the health care setting?


FAUCI: The two people, one of whom I took care of, got infected because she put herself in harm's way of a patient with advanced disease.

You have got to keep looking at the facts, not what the what if, what if, what if. If you do that scenario, you can have -- you can have any situation that you could create in your mind.

CROWLEY: What about a travel ban?

FAUCI: Again, there...

CROWLEY: Same thing?

FAUCI: It -- well, what you need to do with a travel ban, you got to look at what the possible negative consequences are and what is the issue that you're trying to address.

CROWLEY: And, again, your concern is that -- that we treat this in West Africa to...

FAUCI: Right, get it settled in West -- the best way -- over and over again, the best way to protect American people is to stop the epidemic in West Africa.

CROWLEY: And so tell me, as honestly as you can, is there something that is not in place that you believe should be in place?

FAUCI: Well, I think that, as we continue to gain more experience -- I don't think that there's something egregiously out of place that should be in place, but you continue to, every single day, take a look at where we're going.

Is there something that needs to be changed? I think the American people need to understand that this isn't something, OK, check this box and walk away. Every single day, you continue to make sure you're doing the best to protect the American people.

CROWLEY: Dr. Tony Fauci, thank you so much for coming by. (CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: This is getting to be a habit with us now.


CROWLEY: As soon as we lick this, then you can have some time off. Thank you so much.

FAUCI: Indeed. Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: This week, the president took more steps to deal with Ebola, but are they good enough? The outspoken chairman of the House Oversight Committee joins me next.


CROWLEY: What more does the president have to do to keep Ebola out of the U.S.?

In the past week, the administration announced additional screening for travelers coming from West Africa, requiring them to self-report their temperatures and symptoms to state and local health departments. The president's new Ebola czar started working on a -- quote -- "seamless response plan" and the CDC continues examining and refining procedures and protocols for dealing with Ebola.

With me now, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Darrell Issa.

Congressman, let's talk first about these first three states that have imposed mandatory isolation for health care workers who have dealt with Ebola in West Africa. We now have one nurse under the new rule in New Jersey who is in isolation in a hospital. What do you think of it?

ISSA: Well, I think governors of both parties are reacting to an absence of leadership, an absence of belief that the federal government really does know what they're doing.

And these missteps -- and some of them brought out by the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing and some by ours and others -- really do concern people that it's a 35-year-old disease. If you don't know now how to fight Ebola, why are you changing protocols after 35 years and after we were told that the only way to get it is to breach protocol if you're a nurse.

CROWLEY: Well, I think -- I'm not a doctor, so I won't play one on TV.

ISSA: Nor am I.

CROWLEY: But I think that they would say that their experience with Ebola has not been in a modern medical setting. And there were mistakes made coming into it. I -- but I think the question now is...

ISSA: But, Candy, modern -- modern facilities are inherently better than where we have been fighting it in Africa.

They're saying, in Africa, we know how to beat this. The fact is, the nurses who in some cases were not fully covered when somebody threw up on them, you go, how could the protocol have to be changed just a few days ago?

CROWLEY: Because, in Africa, I'm told a lot of it has to do with inserting I.V. fluids and less about dealing, because they have so many cases that are dying -- so it's more about dehydration than about most other things.

But, having said that, let's say I have two non-doctors forget that conversation for a moment, because I'm not sure you answered the question. The question is, is -- we understand why the governors may have done it. Is it a good idea?

ISSA: Science has told us, if we are to take them at their word, that if somebody does not have an elevated temperature or the other later symptoms, that we can rely on them not being contagious.

If that's true, then immediate isolation of people for 21 days is not the answer. Again, trust matters. If we had begun this process by saying you have to monitor people continuously coming into this country for 10 days -- now we think it's 11 or 12 -- and know whether their temperature rises to know if they were exposed, and we're doing that, then I think the public would have confidence.

But, in this case, we didn't do that. We had Mr. Duncan come in with elevated temperature. We weren't checking it. And now we're playing catchup.

The important thing is, we need to agree that we made mistakes. Government needs to have a plan. And, Candy, some of the plans are pretty straightforward. I -- I -- you know, when I was coming in, I looked and I said, you know how many apps are on the iPhone that you can monitor your temperature continuously?

We need to ask how are we going to have everyone coming into this country who may have had contact, how are we going to make it easy, predictable and verifiable that we're knowing their temperatures for those next X-amount of days?

If we do that, then we have a monitoring system that can prevent this kind of individual action by the states. If we don't do that, then the American people are asking their governors to protect them.

CROWLEY: So, if I understand you correctly, you don't think that this was a good idea, that you do understand why the governors may have reacted.

I want to read you something that the mayor of New York...

ISSA: Our hearing indicated from the people we had that it wasn't a good idea.

Democrats and Republicans pushed back and said, yes, but you have said these things and now you're not credible. That was the problem we saw in our hearing. Obviously, the Energy and Commerce Committee saw changes after they held their hearing that showed that the protocols were not yet accurate.

So, again, this is about public confidence. The way you restore public confidence is, first, you have leadership. Then you admit that you have made...

CROWLEY: The president's done a lot of things...

ISSA: Well, he appointed a lawyer. And, you know, if this was an election problem, I would be a little less worried.

The fact is, I would much rather he find a four-star general or admiral to coordinate these people who have said things that didn't turn out to be inaccurate, who have made mistakes and don't want to admit them.

Your last -- the doctor who was on, he's still -- he's still playing, we didn't make any mistakes. People are...


CROWLEY: He said there were problems and there were mistakes going in. But, I mean, he did say that, Dr. Fauci.

ISSA: Right. But they were so sure they were right, and now people are dead, people are infected, and governors of both parties are reacting, because there isn't a trust in the leadership of this administration.

Getting that back is doable. It's our responsibility to do it. But it's also our responsibility now to second-guess at our level the things that are said to us to make sure the American people do have watchdogs.

CROWLEY: I want to play you something that the mayor of New York said. He did not know that this isolation regulation was going to be put into effect in New York. And here's what he had to say.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: These individuals who are going there to serve are the people who will end this crisis. We can't have the illusion that we can turn away from it and some day it may end. If we took that attitude, if nations around the world took that attitude, this would be a truly devastating global crisis.


CROWLEY: At the -- and it's the same -- it's the same point that Dr. Fauci made, that we can't discourage workers from going there, because where this stops is in West Africa. Would you agree with that point?

ISSA: Absolutely. Absolutely. The fact is that we have got to beat it at its source, just as we

have -- and I use this analysis or analogy in my hearing -- just as the global war on terror is fighting ISIL outside of Baghdad, outside of Irbil, and so on, you have to go on to where this is.

At the same time, the American people want to know that our 3,000 or so military personnel are being properly protected, that we're watching for them, and that we have a plan for the inevitability that one or more of them will become infected. And we have got to protect them.

CROWLEY: Congressman, it's a final question. You know that we are in the middle of midterms. One of the major themes...

ISSA: Heard a rumor.

CROWLEY: You heard that rumor.


CROWLEY: One of the major themes of Republicans has been, he is -- this president mishandling ISIS, he's mishandling Ebola. It's sort of that fear theme.

So how is the American people -- how do you help bring confidence, which you say the American people need in a system, and these are doctors, these are not politicians that came out here and said these things that later proved might not have been exactly right -- so, how do -- how do I not look at your hearing, how do I not look at the continuing criticism of the president, who -- you can say he was late to the game, but he's now trying to, you know, put some procedures in place -- how do we not look at that through a political prism and say, this just fits right in to the Republican talking points?

ISSA: My ranking member, Mr. Cummings, and I asked for a hearing because we needed to get the transparency and make it available to the American people.

That's the beginning of the fix. If this administration opens up, which has not been their way of doing business, and they make witnesses available and they allow the information to be made available to Congress, and Congress then makes a decision with the president that we're doing the right things, then confidence is restored.

That's what we're doing with the war -- the war, if you will, the battle against ISIL, where now there's an engagement. And members of Congress, myself and others, are going over to see how things are going. The same thing here -- the American people expect their congressmen to in fact be part of that process, to come home, even during elections, and say, you know, they made mistakes, but they are getting it right or they're getting closer to having it right.

And we will look other their shoulder and make sure they get it right on behalf of the American people. And I think that's what we're doing. And I think, considering we're only a few days away from an election, we're doing it at an incredibly not partisan basis by all the committees.

CROWLEY: And, just quickly, would you call on the governors of New Jersey, a Republican, New York, a Democrat, Illinois, a Democrat, and say, stop, this isn't necessary, it's confusing, you may discourage workers? Would you tell them it's not a good idea, be done with it?

ISSA: Well, certainly, it's a good idea to monitor temperatures of people coming here from that region.

CROWLEY: Right, but put them in isolation...

ISSA: Well...

CROWLEY: ... would you tell them to stop that?

ISSA: ... they have to have a viable alternative that they can be -- they can feel.

As I said, if they had the ability to monitor for 21 days, as science is telling us, the temperatures of these individuals, so that the moment it spiked, they could go and bring these people into isolation, then I'm sure they would look to that. So, give...

CROWLEY: Well, that's exactly what happened in New York with the doctor.

ISSA: So -- well, no, actually it didn't happen until a while afterwards.

And when they go around and they disinfect places he's been, that says they didn't catch it quickly. Again, continuous monitoring, so that you can quickly put these people in, could be an alternative. But that's the leadership at the top.

The governors are asking the White House and the administration to give them answers. If they give them answers that are better than what they're doing, then these governors, I believe, will do it. Until that time, they're doing what they think is right.

CROWLEY: I got to run.

ISSA: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Congressman Darrell Issa, thanks for coming by.

ISSA: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it.

Next up: The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee joins us to talk about the danger of lone wolves, both tracking them and stopping them.


CROWLEY: I want to bring in Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Thanks, Senator Feinstein, for joining us.

FEINSTEIN: You're welcome.

CROWLEY: When you see in a single week -- we saw what happened in Canada when a single gunman kills a soldier. We see a hatchet attack, of all things, on police officers in Queens.

Both men seemed to have some affinity for, inspired by somehow violent jihad.

You add in a woman in Moore, Oklahoma, who was beheaded by a disgruntled worker who had recently "converted to Islam." You have the attacks in Fort Hood. You have the Boston marathon bombers who, you know, went online and seemed somewhat inspired by violent jihad.

Is this one big problem or is it separate problems?

FEINSTEIN: I think it's one big problem.

I think one of the problems is that the internet as well as certain specific Muslim extremists are really firing up this lone-wolf phenomenon, and these attacks and the multiplicity of attacks in 2014 show that their propaganda is having some effect.

My view of ISIS is, I think people do not see the evil and the vicious side of it. I don't see -- think they see the beheadings of children --

CROWLEY: Well, Senator, they're on -- yes, they're on - well, they do see beheadings though, I mean, they're online shoot soldiers in a ditch.

FEINSTEIN: I saw -- yes.

CROWLEY: They're online beheading journalists and others, right?

FEINSTEIN: I saw this, but essentially, I mean, for anyone that has any kind of value of a just system, ISIS doesn't make that case.

ISIS is essentially a fighting force of 30,000 to 50,000 people, sophisticated with commanders, with some heavy weapons, and they are on a march now, and they are going to slay everything in their way.

CROWLEY: In the propaganda wars it does seem that ISIS is quite sophisticated.

So let me - I do want to talk to you about that and how to fight that but I first want to ask you about these lone-wolves which basically show many of these attacks have been. And by definition, there's no known tie to a terrorist -- direct tie to a terrorist organization of any sort. They're kind of one person cells at this point.

What is the defense against that, Senator?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the only defense is intelligence and that is that you have to ferret it out. You have to be able to watch it and you have to be able to disrupt them. Now, this is hard to do because it takes technical means and Americans don't necessarily like technical means.

CROWLEY: Right or spying is the definition of technical means.

FEINSTEIN: Yes. Well, that's right. And this in the United States, this falls under the jurisdiction of the FBI, not the CIA, and I've been briefed by Director Comey. And I believe the FBI is making every effort to stay on top of this lone-wolf phenomenon. I think the White House is cognizant of it and is working very hard to see that we have the ability to be able to find them and stop them.

CROWLEY: In the Muslim community, the peaceful Muslim community they would tell you in the U.S. that they feel some of the outreach that's being done by the feds, by the homeland - by the Homeland Security Department and others feels like what the U.S. really wants is for the Muslim community to become their spies within their community in the U.S. and that is off-putting when they do feel targeted obviously because of their religion.

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me --

CROWLEY: How do you bridge that?

FEINSTEIN: Let me say this. The Muslim community is a part of America, and as such, it has all of the protections of any community in America.

And one of America's goals has been to integrate an immigrant community into our society and see that they have opportunity, that they're able to be productive, that they're able to live without any kind of harassment. And there are very few countries in the world that actually do that, United States does it.

Let me ask you, because I know that you lost two deputy sheriffs in Sacramento...


CROWLEY: ...over the weekend.

But we've also seen, and that does not seem, that seems like to be street crime as opposed to anything that's related to terrorism, but do you feel, looking at what we've seen on the internet, some of the appeals from ISIS, that folks in police uniforms, that folks in soldiers' uniforms, whether they're in Canada or the U.S. are now under an even bigger threat than their jobs would lead to you believe?

FEINSTEIN: I believe that to be true. I believe word has gone out into these communities that a strike target would be somebody in uniform, whether it is police or whether it's military. And I think you're correct in that assessment.

CROWLEY: And what's to be done about that?

FEINSTEIN: Well, what's to be done about it is, I think the police and military have to be on guard. I think this is very difficult. I think halls of government have to be on guard the way the parliament in Canada was penetrated.

In Canada, you had an armed sergeant-at-arms who took action and killed the perpetrator and I think we need to think in some new ways. I don't particularly want to discuss it on television, but one thing's for sure, we are going to protect our institutions of government.

CROWLEY: And I cannot let you go, Senator, without asking about an article I read that posited that Michelle Obama would like to run for the Senate in California, and that she has her eye on your seat in 2018 because the feeling is that you may retire at that point, and so I thought I'd get your reaction to that story.

FEINSTEIN: Well (ph), did you?

Well, I have no idea what I'm going to be doing in 2018. That's four years from now, and that's one of the nice things of a six-year term. I've served two years of my term and you know, I'll make a decision in due time. I'm flattered, if that should be true. Somehow I do not believe it is true, but I would be flattered if it were.

CROWLEY: Senator Dianne Feinstein, I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2018 either.


CROWLEY: But I appreciate your being here. Thank you so much for your time.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Oh, you're welcome. Go Giants.

CROWLEY: Go Royals.

FEINSTEIN: I got it in. I got it in.

CROWLEY: Next, the fear factor, we'll ask the chairs of both political parties if the election is about anything other than what or who scares you the most.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isis gaining ground, terrorists committing mass murder. The Ebola inside the U.S. Americans alarmed about national security, what's President Obama doing? Making plans to bring terrorists from Guantanamo to our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: State after state, people are doing all they can to

scare you that's not because it it's almost Halloween, it's because it's almost Election Day. So what is this election about?

Joining us now, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee and her counterpart, Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee. Thank you both for joining us.




CROWLEY: How is this not a wild scare tactic? This is like Ebola, ISIS, they're all coming to get you and it's at president's fault.

PRIEBUS: I think -

CROWLEY: Is that your theme?

PRIEBUS: No, I think people are scared though. I think national security whether it be overseas, whether it be the economy, the borders.

Here's the thing, I think ultimately what this election has a lot do with is really bad management, mismanagement, the lack of management, managers that can't manage and the president's at the head of all of this. I mean, the question really is, the president's policies.

It's not really the president, but the president's made it very clear this past week, and I think, you know, I will be interested in what Debbie has to say about this, but is the president's policies on the ballot? And I think they are on the ballot. And so that's really - that's one question on the ballot.

But the second question is should we pass a budget in this country? You know, should we pass one of 350 bills sitting on Harry Reid's desk? Yes, it is about the president and yes it's about his policies but the Democrats don't want to admit that the president's policies are on the ballot. So, are they or are they not?

CROWLEY: Congresswoman, is this election about President Obama's policies?

SCHULTZ: This election is about making sure that we elect a Congress that will focus on the priorities that people care about the most, and that's creating jobs, getting this economy turned around, investing in education and health care, making sure that we can focus on a foreign policy that keeps people safe from harm. I mean, Candy, I represent 750,000 people in the United States

Congress. That my number one priority is to make sure that we can help kick this economy into even higher gear domestically and keep people safe, and so I agree with Darrell Issa, my colleague --

PRIEBUS: The question is the president's policy on the ballot?

SCHULTZ: No, no, Reince, I let you finish - I let you finish, Reince.. Reince, I let you finish.

I agree with Darrell Issa and what Darrell Issa said was that we need -- about the Ebola crisis is that we need to make sure that we recognize that we have to keep our people safe, and we have to have policies that make sure that we can do that by not overreacting.

PRIEBUS: Candy, you --

SCHULTZ: So when we're -- excuse me.

So, making sure that we have a balanced rational policy where there's not overreaction, where we can keep people safe and we can make sure that we can eradicate Ebola in the countries where people are coming from is important.

And let me say what's on the ballot is our domestic policy that we need to have a Congress that has people's back, that keeps people safe from harm and the focused on helping people reach the middle class, and the Republican are focused on extremism and a Tea Party -

CROWLEY: Congresswoman -

PRIEBUS: Extremism --

CROWLEY: Let me -- let me pick up the extremism thing for one thing and I'll give you a shot at this, because the word extremism is used fairly liberally in a lot of ads that we're seeing against Republicans -

SCHULTZ: Well, Candy --

CROWLEY: Let me pop in here, Congresswoman, for one second.

I want - I want to play you something. This is a DSCC ad not from you all but from your Democrat counterparts in the Senate and this is against Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner and it's about his stance on abortion. I want to play a brief clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gardner wants to ban abortions even in cases of rape and incest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gardner is sponsoring a bill to ban all abortions right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Gardner is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Gardner is way too extreme for Colorado.


CROWLEY: So we've heard this in previous elections, too extreme, too extreme their Tea Party, we can't work with them. So, it seems that the Democrats' overall message is yes, ISIS is scary. Yes, Ebola is scary but Republicans are a lot scarier.

SCHULTZ: Well, that's right. Cory Gardner is a sponsor of a bill that would prevent women from being able to get access to make their own reproductive choices even in the case of rape or incest.


PRIEBUS: OK, now hang on a second.

SCHULTZ: The last thing we did before we left for the recess was vote to sue the president for doing his job when the Republicans won't even do their job. They won't work with us.

PRIEBUS: OK. And Debbie still hasn't answered the question.


PRIEBUS: First of all she still hasn't answered the question as to whether or not...

CROWLEY: Hang on one second.

PRIEBUS: ...the president's policies are on the ballot. And she wants to talk about - she wants to talk about this...


SCHULTZ: Reince, what's on the ballot are Democratic and Republican candidates.

PRIEBUS: ... the union leaders have -- OK. Well, this is ridiculous.

CROWLEY: Hang on one second.

SCHULTZ: Democratic and Republican -


CROWLEY: Congresswoman, tell us what this election is about? What's on the ballot? Are they the president's policies?

PRIEBUS: Are they the president's policies or not? Are the president's policies on the ballot?

SCHULTZ: Thanks, Reince. Maybe you can let Candy ask me the questions rather than you.

PRIEBUS: She's been doing a great job of it so far. You haven't been answering them, though

SCHULTZ: So, what's on the ballot - what's on the ballot is a choice for voters between Democrats, who are running for congress, and I'm one of them, that's running for Congress that's focused on creating jobs, on making sure that we can help people reach the middle class, by focusing on investing in education and health care, and infrastructure. And the choice between Republican candidates who support a Tea Party agenda, who do like Cory Gardner, cosponsor legislation that prevents women from making their own reproductive choices even in the case of rape or incest, that sues the president for doing his job, that shuts the government down in the name of denying good health care.

PRIEBUS: This is like a 10 minute commercial here.

SCHULTZ: That's the choice. No, what it is is it's reality. It's the reality that voters face in the next nine days, Reince.

PRIEBUS: OK. Well, here's the deal. The -


SCHULTZ: Your candidates who put extremism at the top of the agenda...

PRIEBUS: Well, this is (INAUDIBLE)...

SCHULTZ: ...and our candidates who focus on job.

PRIEBUS: This is a wonderful conversation.

SCHULTZ: Hang on one second, Congresswoman.

SCHULTZ: It is. I'm enjoying it too. Thank you.

PRIEBUS: Good for you.

Then in "Denver Post" and "The Union Leader" had said the Democrats are beclowning themselves with this operation talking about putting teenagers in jail.

I mean, what about the fact that Charlie Crist who was discovered the other day has been taking thousands of dollars from strip club owners in Florida. Is Debbie going to call out Charlie Crist on that?

SCHULTZ: Oh my gosh. This is unbelievable. Rick Scott --

PRIEBUS: What about the congressman in New Mexico? What about the congressman in New Mexico that Debbie defended that was defending --

SCHULTZ: Candy, let's talk about the Florida -


CROWLEY: Hang on one second.

PRIEBUS: ...a person that was accused of beating up his wife, this person was accused of ransacking his other wife's home.


CROWLEY: Let me ask you something -

SCHULTZ: All they have is --

PRIEBUS: And what does she do, she defends these people. She defends them and then she comes after -- and then talks about this --

SCHULTZ: My turn, Candy. My turn.

PRIEBUS: This isn't possible because I can't even hear what's going on. This is ridiculous.

CROWLEY: Let me -- OK. I'll going to give you each 30 seconds.


SCHULTZ: So, let's talk about the Florida -

CROWLEY: Wait one second, Congresswoman. I've only got...


CROWLEY: ...30 seconds for each of you and I want to ask you something.

So, I understand what you all are talking about here. Reince is talking about, you know, you all say the Republicans have a war on women and he's pointing out some things that Republicans find objectionable.

You think the Democrats are finding --

PRIEBUS: No, women are worse off today..

CROWLEY: Hang on and let me just ask the question.

PRIEBUS: ...than ever been under this president.

CROWLEY: Do you think that Democrats and Republicans are talking about...

SCHULTZ: See, Reince just wants this to be a monologue because they don't have any issues (ph).

CROWLEY: ..what voters want them to talk about.

PRIEBUS: A monologue. I think a monologue is coming from south Florida right now. Are you kidding me? (CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: OK. Rick Scott at the debate the other day, Candy, admitted that he delayed an execution of an inmate on death row because he wanted to make sure that Pam Bondi, our attorney general, could attend a fund-raiser. I mean, that is the type of decision that Rick Scott has disqualified himself from being governor of this state and all -


CROWLEY: OK. Congresswoman, I got --

SCHULTZ: You have Republicans who don't take care of the priorities that people care about which is jobs and the economy and that's what this election is going to turn on.

PRIEBUS: And Debbie still hasn't answered the question is...

SCHULTZ: I've answered it.


PRIEBUS: ...whether the president's policies are on the ballot.

SCHULTZ: just want to focus on anything but jobs and the economy.

PRIEBUS: Are the president's policies on the ballot? Yes or no? Are the president's policies on the ballot? Yes or no?

SCHULTZ: Jobs and the economy are on the ballot versus your candidates which are focused on extremism.

PRIEBUS: And things aren't going (ph) well, Debbie (ph). Things are not going (ph) well in this (INAUDIBLE).


CROWLEY: (INAUDIBLE) the DNC and Reince Priebus chairman of the RNC.

We'll continue this throughout the break and I'll let you know who wins.

Coming up a brand new set of predictions straight from the guy crunching the numbers, we'll ask our political panel what else they're seeing in their crystal ball.


CROWLEY: We are nine days from what was once predicted to be at least by some a Republican wave election. Is it down to ripples?

Joining me around the table CNN contributors, Newt Gingrich and Stephanie Cutter, along with political predictors, Sam Wang -- he'll give us a longer title, and A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of "The Hill" Newspaper.

So first, I want to start with you, Sam, because you've made quite a bit of news about predicting pretty heavy odds that Democrats would win the Senate.

Where are you now on the Senate race and who will come out on top?


So, as a scientist, I use the same lab methods to analyze Senate also governor races. And I would say the Democrats were running slightly ahead of expectations all summer. They dipped in September. And right now -- I think that right now it's where it was in June, which is Democrats and Republicans each to take 49, 50, or 51 seats which puts us right on the knife's edge. I think it could go either way right now.

CROWLEY: So, you sort of see this as 50/50?

WANG: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: And governors always seen as a big Democratic plus in this election year, where on the governor's race?

WANG: Well, right now both governors and Senate races they are more very close races, races within three points, more governor and Senate seats than the last two midterms put together. It's a super suspenseful year. Republican governors and Democratic senators have it on the line.

CROWLEY: Indeed. So tell me on the ground, because we just heard the two -- how is this playing out now?

I think we know -- have felt that things were always close before an election, but this was a close election. What does it feel like in the reporting of a specific race?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": What we saw in 2006 and 2008 were huge -- and 2010, were huge movements. 1994 -- we have experienced huge power shifts.

The electorate can't find something that they feel will make things better. They can't find change. They're disgusted with both sides. They're not motivated to vote. That's why we're on the knife's edge because there's not an answer, a clear answer for a very anxious electorate on either side.

CROWLEY: And there doesn't appear to be a clear theme.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Democrats and Republicans have different themes, which is typical in a close election.

You know, Democrats, at least in the Senate campaigns, are really talking about local issues. And the differences between the two candidates in terms of their age agendas. You see that in North Carolina, one of the big reasons that Kay Hagan is repeatedly ahead of her opponent, Thom Tillis, because she's focusing on the local issues that matter to North Carolinians.

I think for the Republicans, they want to make it as much about President Obama as much as possible. You know, if I were a Republican I'd be doing that too. That's what we did in 2006 when we took back the house and Senate from Republicans. But that doesn't seem to be working, they're not getting movement. I think public opinion is set in on President Obama, but they're not giving voters anything really additional to vote on in terms of appealing to an electorate.

CROWLEY: So, what I find during elections is generally the party that is worried that they're going to lose and that they have a (INAUDIBLE) head of the ticket even if they're not on the ticket, say it's all about local elections and what's going on there. Part of it looks to be winning, says no, there's a national wave here that's coming. Which is it?

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think first of all, you can tell which party is nationally on defense because the party is talking about local elections.


GINGRICH: Second, I think the real question and this will decide whether it's a close race or not, is turnout.

If -- you know, you can look very, very good -- in '98, there were certain districts where the Clintons did a brilliant job of targeting African-Americans and all of the sudden on election night, we had turnouts that were presidential level, and we lost seats we didn't even think were in contention. Kept the house but lost seats.

So, I think part of it is you look at a state like Wisconsin. I don't think three percent of the state is available to either party. And I think Wisconsin is frozen. It's frozen at about 48/48, but the question is, do both 48s turn out equally?

WANG: You're talking about the governor's race?

GINGRICH: Governor's race. Or does it turn out differently because Walker and Burke are polarized. But the question is can Burke turn out the two counties she has to have which are Milwaukee and Madison?

WANG: Well, the rule of thumb is that any race that is within two points which (INAUDIBLE) governor's race is could go either way. And so there are just so many races on the line right now that is going to come down to that.

GINGRICH: I think you're safe to say that nobody today knows what the final outcome is going to be, and in that sense, you don't know.

I can also tell you in 1994, on Monday night before the election, there was not a single national correspondent who thought we would win the House because it was inconceivable. This race could be the Democrats' come back miraculously. This race could be they lose every one of these close races.

WANG: Well, the difference (ph) in 1994, the Republicans picked up 11 governorships. And this year, I'm looking at the numbers and it looks like maybe no change. Maybe Democrats will pick up at the governorship. So, it's a different landscape.

CUTTER: To his point, before in the '94 election, we did see signs of a wave. And maybe people didn't think it was going to result in taking over the House, but there were a lot more clear signs then about Republican victories than there are now.

If you look, you know, both of you had said that the party on defense talks about local issues. Well, the party on defense, you're talking about the Democrats, they're actually in the face of historical headwinds. Every historical data point working against them, are either winning or holding their own in these states. So, talking about local issues seems to be what voters are looking for.

CROWLEY: A.B., tell me where -- I'm going to ask all of you this. Where am I going to be surprised election night?

STODDARD: Well, I think some of the surprises could come from turnouts in states where the governors' races are closely contested or favoring a Democrat. So that's going to help some of the Senate races. I mean, that could help in Georgia, that could help in Kansas. That could help in Colorado. That's the kind of thing I am looking -- those are the surprises that I am looking for.

I think that the states Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia, Alaska, and pretty much Louisiana, that look gone -- I agree with Sam, we could be surprised by three to five percent point swings, but I think there's going to be surprises. Newt is right, about which ground game actually gets people out. And (INAUDIBLE) Romney's pollster has a great line about waking up the morning after the election in 2012 where he learned that a low propensity, low enthusiasm voter is still a vote that counts as much as a high enthusiasm voter. This is not work for Democrats in midterms.

They have not turned out the Obama coalition ever in midterms. The Obama coalition is very fragile right now, only women, probably, I think of young people and African-Americans, are going to turn out, and women are disapproving of President Obama in high numbers in the key states right now.

CROWLEY: I have to get you to do this quickly. Is there a race, be it Senate, governor, House, that early on that will tell you how the night is going?

WANG: I'm going to be watching North Carolina because libertarians and undecided could break if they help Thom Tillis and that alters things a little bit for Kay Hagan.

GINGRICH: I would say Kansas and Georgia. CUTTER: I think Colorado.

CROWLEY: That's (ph) not (ph) early.

But it is a vote.

CUTTER: Yes. I think North Carolina is key. I mean, because she's held on for so long, but it really could go Republican.

CROWLEY: A.B. Stoddard, thank you very much. Sam Wang, thanks for joining us. Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, thank you all so much.

Before you go, guys, I want you to check something out. I'm going to do my first twitter chat, you know, it could (ph) have (ph) been (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

This Thursday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. I'll answer your questions about the midterm elections. If you tweet to me @CrowleyCNN using the #cnnsotu. We will be right back.


CROWLEY: Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Be sure to watch us each week at this time or set your DVRs and you won't miss a moment.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," starts right now.