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Democrats Focus on Health Care; King Faces Criticism; Leaders Shun Trump. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 31, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: To everything right now. And I'm trying to figure out exactly what the message is on health care. If we can play the Claire McCaskill campaign ad, I'll talk over it. I just want people to see what's going on here. I'm trying to figure out what they are promising. They're talking about health care. They're talking about pre-existing conditions. But other than suggesting that Republicans will take away guarantees for pre-existing conditions, Josh, are the Democrats promising anything beyond that?

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they are promising to serve as a check on Donald Trump. I mean the one -- the one issue that has -- that has helped Democrats all along throughout the Trump presidency has been the issue of health care. You go back to Republican attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and take away the pre-existing conditions. And we remember that the town hall meetings where furious constituents, Republicans, Democrats and independents, were confronting Republican elected officials to the point where they basically stopped holding town hall meetings.

You know, you flash forward until two months ago, the Republican National Committee had an internal poll with a big flashing warning signs saying, we're in big trouble on health care because voters believe, by and large, that we cut taxes and are going to pay for that by taking away people's Medicare and Social Security. I think that's one reason why, belatedly, we've seen Trump and a lot of Republicans come out and say, oh, no, no, no, we're here to protect your pre- existing conditions. They're trying to muddy that message. And I think that's why you see ads like McCaskill's that are trying to remind voters that it's Democrats that are standing up for these policies.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And then here's her opponent. So this is -- this is Josh Hawley's campaign ad. It also talks about pre-existing conditions. It tries to refute, J. Mart, what Claire McCaskill is saying about Josh Hawley taking away pre-existing conditions. So it does look like health care is what their voters are certainly thinking about.

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": The -- well, the good news for President Obama is that Democrats are now running on Obamacare. They just -- it just took them eight years to do it.

GREEN: So are Republicans. MARTIN: Exactly. No, it's bipartisan support for the ACA, it's just

coming a little bit late.

But, you know, it does sort of prove something that I've been fascinated by, which is, the moment that Obamacare became more about the care and less about the Obama, it was going to be much more popular and drained of the kind of, you know, political controversy. And I think that's what's happened now where predictably Democrats are rallying around the most popular elements of the bill and the Republicans are playing defense about the popular elements of the bill and saying, we want to get rid of the stuff that, you know, tests poorly, but keep the stuff that tests well. Not terribly surprising.

But I will say this, John, it does kind of forestall a bigger argument on the left about what to do about health care. Everybody on the left is for protecting folks with those conditions, but the larger question that we're going to hear in 2020 is, how far do we go on health care?

BERMAN: Right. Well, next week they may be the dog that caught the car. We'll see what they say they want to do with it, if they take over one of the houses.

I don't want to let a moment pass that happened yesterday which is so unusual. You guys cover campaigns and have for years. So you know how unusual it is.

The guy who runs the National Republican Campaign Committee in the House, whose job it is to get Republicans elected to the House and re- elected to the House, Steve Stivers from Ohio, turned on Republican Steve King of Iowa, a 16-year incumbent I believe, because he thinks that Steve King, frankly, is too close to white nationalists and neo- Nazis around the world. Steve King, you know, went to Europe and ended up meeting with a neo-Nazi group or someone with Nazi sympathies, I should say, in Austria. And, you know, you can read his Twitter feed and find out what he said in the past.

But Stivers said Steve King's recent comments, actions and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up to white supremacy and hate in all forms. And I strongly condemn his behavior.

He's more or less tying a guy in his own party, Josh, to white supremacy. And that's a break the likes of which I have not seen.

GREEN: Well, I think Steve King tied himself to white supremacy. I think what Steve Stivers is doing here is trying to jump on a grenade and protect his other members from being confronted by reporters saying, do you disavow Steve King's relationship with Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, which is the last thing that these suburban Republican congressional candidates want to have to answer six days before an election. I think that's what you're seeing with this unprecedented, you know, public tweet coming out and throwing one of his own members under the bus on an issue as heated and toxic as white supremacy.

But let me just point out one thing. This isn't just a political issue. One of King's big donors. Land O'Lakes, the dairy giant, came out yesterday and announced that they're cutting off fundraising support for King because of these ties to white supremacy. So this is an issue that goes beyond politics.

I think Stivers recognized that this was going to cause real damage, and he's doing everything he can to nip it in the butt.

[08:35:00] MARTIN: And just one fast point, John, I would add, that Stivers' district is in and around Columbus. It's a pretty high education district. He's catching flak also in his own re-election, which he should be OK, but he does have a race, and so I think he's conscious of that, too.

BERMAN: Jonathan Martin, Josh Green, great to have you here with us today. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, we have shocking video to show you that is landing preschool teachers in trouble. How a parent found out about what is being called this day care fight club. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Shocking video surfacing of a preschool fight club. And a mother is suing the Missouri daycare involved. Nicole Mersof (ph) says her older son texted her this video in 2016 from outside the classroom. It was his little brother getting what looks like beat up there. You can see kids wearing Hulk fits, hitting each other as the teacher appears to jump up and down with excitement. The daycare's own cameras captured fight after fight. Some lasting 30 minutes. According to a police report, two teachers were fired, and the incident was reported to a child abuse hotline. State regulators did not shut down the daycare but they did increase inspections.

[08:40:04] CAMEROTA: I don't even know what to make of this, John.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I don't even know what to say about this.

BERMAN: I think they're just plain wrong. That is wrong.

CAMEROTA: Yes. These are teachers that I feel have given up on their mission statement or their job description to somehow keep kids busy.

BERMAN: Yes, not good.

CAMEROTA: OK, also trending this morning, it appears that Kanye West is done with politics. Weeks after his bizarre Oval Office visit with President Trump, the rapper and designer says he now feels exploited. He is tweeting, quote, my eyes are now wide open and now realize I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in. I am distancing myself from politics, end quote.

Kanye went on to tweet support for common sense gun laws and for holding people who misuse their power accountable.

BERMAN: A very interesting read. I mean it really is. All right, cue the duck boats. We haven't had a chance to talk about it yet because there's been so much news going on --

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, you're so happy.

BERMAN: But those are the World Champion Boston Red Sox deplaning Monday in Boston. Their victory parade is today through the streets of Boston, 11:00 a.m. Kate Bolduan is going to cover it extensively on her show today.

You may have known that the Red Sox beat the Dodgers four games to one to win their fourth World Series title since 2004. They own more World Series titles this century than any other baseball team.

CAMEROTA: You know, I've been keeping something from you.

BERMAN: No.

CAMEROTA: I love the Boston Red Sox also.

BERMAN: You're just saying that.

CAMEROTA: No, I really do.

BERMAN: I like you anyway. You don't have to suck up.

CAMEROTA: I love them.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I love them and I've always loved them. I love their storied history. I love their underdog status. I love Boston. I was there in 2004 when they won. I was there in the celebration in the streets, cars being turned over, people standing on cars, I was in the middle of it all because I was a reporter, not just like out of voluntarily going. But I --

BERMAN: I can't manage you went to a party. That sounds so unlike you.

CAMEROTA: But -- it was cold out. But I love them also. I mean it doesn't match your love, but I'm with you.

BERMAN: Let me say congratulations to you on your Red Sox victory.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Late night comics a gearing up for Halloween and for the midterm elections. Here are your late night laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": The campaigns have been dominated by fear and just really terrible heart- breaking events. That's why for Halloween, instead of decorating my house with witches and goblins, I just hung up newspapers. TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Just like you, President Trump

knows that the midterms are only seven days away. And so to motivate his voters, right, he's doing something really special. Well, it's the thing that he does best. He's scaring the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of his voters, all right, specifically by using brown people, all right? It's sort of like Halloween but a racist Halloween, you know? Or as Megyn Kelly calls it Halloween.

COLBERT: Birthright citizenship, for those of you who don't know, it's a complicated constitutional concept. It says that if you're born here, you're an American. I guess it's not as complicated as I thought.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Trump wants to do away with that by executive order. It's a bold move because usually when Trump makes an executive order, it comes with four biscuits, two cups of mashed potatoes and ten pieces of the colonel's extra crispy fried chicken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now I'm hungry.

CAMEROTA: That's funny.

BERMAN: All right, President Trump headed to Pittsburgh to pay respects, but other lawmakers did not follow them. Not follow him. Has there ever been a presidential visit like this one? We'll get "The Bottom Line."

CAMEROTA: But first, Alma Faz thought that she would never run again after bone cancer cost her a leg. She had also survived ovarian cancer. But she has not missed a step. Her story now in "Turning Points."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALMA FAZ, CANCER SURVIVOR: That lowest point in my life, 19 years old, 85 pounds. I first had some issues with one of my legs when I was 13 years old. When I graduated high school in 1997, those pains were still there and was diagnosed with a bone tumor in my right lower leg. During a workup it was found that I also had ovarian cancer.

I had my amputation in March of 1998. I wanted to be able to exercise again, but running was not an option. The prosthetics just were not as advanced.

Now, close to ten years post-amputation, they're like, yes, at this point we will build you a running prosthetic. And so in 2010 we began working to build a running prosthetic. I have completed 21 half marathons, a full marathon and right now I'm in the process of training for a half Iron. So I, you know, walk on a prosthetic, then I swim without a prosthetic. I put on a cycling prosthetic afterward and then I change into a running prosthetic.

Good morning. In the middle of treatment, I became very interested in imaging,

particularly in CT scans. I deseeded I wanted to go to school to do what they do. I manage a clinic that sees about 125 patients a day. I have plenty of scars, but that pushes me every day to give more because I had the chance to survive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:48:56] CAMEROTA: President Trump and his family traveled to Pittsburgh to pay their respect to a Jewish synagogue where 11 people were murdered. He was greeted by the rabbi of the synagogue, but local lawmakers and congressional leaders avoided appearing with the president. Many in the community say the timing of the president's visit was insensitive to those families who had not yet buried their loved ones.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

We love having you in studio with us, Michael. Thanks for being here.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, thank you so much. I love being here. Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So tell us, historically, in a moment of crisis, in a moment of national grieving, for a president, a U.S. president to go, which is customary, I believe, after something like this, after a mass shooting, but to not be met by local officials and lawmakers. Is there precedent for that?

BESCHLOSS: No. Local officials were angry. Some of them felt that Donald Trump had helped to create an atmosphere that led to this. You don't usually see in history people saying, we don't want to have a president visit.

And I think you have to say -- you have to look at what he did on Saturday. This was the worst attack on Jewish Americans in worship in 200 years. This was a big deal. And he, you know, told a joke about his hair, you know. He went ahead with his campaign rally. He pronounced himself a nationalist. And the best explanation of that is he didn't know what he was saying on that sacred day. The worst is nationalist has been used to describe some pretty ugly people in American society. George Lincoln Rockwell, the head of the American Nazi Party, wrote a book called "The Nationalist Perspective." So you not only had a president who didn't do what other presidents do in terms of comforting those who felt afflicted and hurt, but he may have even rubbed salt in the wounds. That's why you saw this reaction.

[08:50:41] BERMAN: And one of the things that we understand happened, and Maggie Haberman was on before, is that his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared talked to him extensively on pushed a different message. And he did deliver that different messages in the midst of other things. BESCHLOSS: Very nice of him, but what president would have to be told

by, you know, his son-in-law and daughter that you didn't do it right and you have to do it differently. Most presidents have empathy. The first thing they would have wanted to do was do something that was helpful to the Jewish community. Right now it feels threatened and hurt. That wasn't his reaction. Most presidents have a degree of empathy that causes them to react differently.

BERMAN: And I just want to make one other point here, and you have a book, by the way, we should note, "Presidents of War," talking about how presidents react in times of war and clearly grieving with a nation and bleeding with the nation and empathizing as a nation is part of that.

And one of the things that you have heard critics of the president say is, what happens when there's a real crisis? And we've -- you know, we've had ups and downs in two years, but there hasn't been a war. There hasn't been a giant major terrorist attack 9/11 style. And so it's still a bit of an unknown how this president would behave and react.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely. And what we expect of our presidents, in a time like this, presidents of war or presidents in peace, in a crisis like this, they need to heal, they need to unit and they need to inspire. In the last couple of days, how much was Donald Trump able to do that?

This is a real problem because half of the president's job is to be not only a tough political leader, they're all that, they're expected to be, but also a head of state that unites this country all the way back to George Washington. Every other president has done that. When is Donald Trump going to step up?

CAMEROTA: About that term nationalism. It obviously has a loaded history, as you so well know and point out. So when I look it up in Miriam-Webster dictionary, it says, patriotism, devotion to a country in a sort of extreme form and exalting one's own nation over all others.

BESCHLOSS: But to Jewish Americans, they know that it has often been used to exclude Jews from the society. And they also know that the word globalist has been used to describe prominent Jewish Americans. And the president used that too. He said, I'm not a globalist. I'm a nationalist. It's questionable enough from my point of view on any occasion, but to say that within 24 hours of this horrible tragedy, I just don't get it.

CAMEROTA: The president seems to want his own definition of those terms. He seems to be creatively thinking about what it means to him. Here he is trying to explain it on Laura Ingraham's show. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That means I love the country. It means I'm fighting for the country. I look at two things, globalists and nationalists. I'm somebody that want to take care of our country. I'm proud of this country and I call that nationalism. I call that being a nationalist. And I don't see any other connotation than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: I mean you don't get to make up your own definition of words, number one. But, number two, he doesn't see any other connotations. How is that possible?

BESCHLOSS: I'm not sure that that is actually what he intends here. I hope he's not trying to send dog whistles to some of the ugliest elements of the society.

But the point is that, at least in my lifetime, you know, some presidents have been better at comforting people at a time like this. Some people -- some presidents have not been as good. But I've never had to ask that question, was the president deliberately trying to send out more messages that might insight further acts like this. I hope he wasn't.

BERMAN: As to the fact that there were no other politicians there with him yesterday when he was there, people have noted that there are the types of events that past presidents have always been invited to and welcome at where this president is not. The funeral of John McCain. The funeral of Barbara Bush

BESCHLOSS: The funeral of Barbara Bush, sure.

BERMAN: Four others (ph). Is -- he is a unique figure in that he wasn't. It's unusual. I can't think of another precedent for this.

On the other hand, with these not so much as this and the funeral, I do think the president would want to be -- I would hope he would want to be where there is grief and to help heal. But of those other things, I can hear President Trump saying, yes, OK, fine, you know, I don't want to be part of that club. I ran against being part of that club.

BESCHLOSS: That's fine, but he didn't run against Jewish Americans who were killed in the synagogue.

BERMAN: Right.

BESCHLOSS: And he should be of the temperament that would cause people to want him there. And, basically, I think he's -- you know, after a year and a half, this is a one trick pony. Even if he wanted to be head of state and unit this country, it's just not in his tool box. And so the result is that he goes to sort of his default position, which you saw on that Fox interview, we just saw a clip of, which is this sort of divide in order to conquer, to get political benefit and pit group against group. It's bad enough, in my opinion, in normal times, but at a sacred time like this when you see a tragedy like this, it really stands out and, to my mind, shows where Donald Trump falls sadly short.

[08:55:37] CAMEROTA: Michael Beschloss, your book again is "Presidents of War." Thank you very much for sharing all of your historical database in your brain with us. BESCHLOSS: Thank you both. Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: Nice to have you.

BERMAN: Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: The president's final midterm blitz kicks off a just a few hours. The message that he is taking on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

President Trump's midterm campaign blitz kicking in, in just hours. He's going to visit eight states, 11 rallies, six days. And his closing arguments is clear. It's one of fear. An attempt to drive up Republican turnout with hard line rhetoric on immigration, dire warnings of what may happen if Democrats take over.

[09:00:03] HARLOW: It is a hard turn after the president's somber visit yesterday to Pittsburgh where three more