'This Week' Transcript 10-18-20: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
This is a rush transcript of "This Week," airing Sunday, October 18.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, October 11, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Final stretch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, it's go time.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election is a simple choice.
BIDEN: There's such a stark, fundamental difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump pleading from behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Drawing fire from Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: He's still living in a dream world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Facing voters in dueling town halls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I knew it was a big threat. At the same time, I don't want to panic this country.
BIDEN: Americans don't panic he panic. He panicked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: At least 26 million ballots already cast 16 days before the final votes in an election shaped by a global pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We have a baseline of daily infections of approximately 45,000, 50,000 per day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Racial unrest, economic crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Their needs are not addressed in the president's proposal.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And a last-minute confirmation for the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We're confirming the judge in an election year after the voting has occurred.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: We cover it all this morning with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, a closer look at battleground Florida, plus insight and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
Two weeks and two days to go in this race for the White House, and President Trump, down in the polls, facing persistent unemployment, a new surge in COVID cases, is barnstorming the country to rally his troops, repeating his favorite lines.
Late last night in Wisconsin, which set new coronavirus records on Thursday and Friday, he insisted we're rounding the corner on the pandemic, just hours after laying into Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the target of a domestic terror plot revealed just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I guess they said she was threatened, right?
TRUMP: She was threatened. And she blamed me.
You got to get your governor to open up your state, OK?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: And get your schools open. Get your schools open.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: The schools have to be open, right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
TRUMP: Lock 'em all up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's where we begin with our first guest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us this morning.
I want to get to the latest on the stimulus negotiations with the White House, but first your reaction to that new salvo from President Trump last night.
Governor Whitmer said this: "This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that has put me, my family and the lives of other government officials in danger."
The president has to realize that the words of the president of the United States weigh a ton.
And, in our political dialogue, to inject fear tactics into it, especially a woman governor and her family, is so irresponsible. And, in all fairness to people who listen to him, people think the president is important and what he says should be adhered to.
And so we have this horrible situation.
But the people have awakened to him, 26 million people already voting. The biggest antidote to his poison is the vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of Americans are hurting, as you know, as well, Madam Speaker.
I know you have been negotiating with the White House over a possible economic relief package, and you spoke with Secretary Mnuchin last night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Any closer to reaching a deal?
PELOSI: Well, we're seeking clarity, because, actually, the -- with all due respect to some of the people in the president's administration, they're not legislators.
So, when they said we're accepting the language on testing, for example, they're just making a light touch. They said they changed shall to may, requirements to recommendations, a plan to a strategy, not a strategic plan. They took out 55 percent of the language that we had there for testing and tracing.
And the tracing part is so important, because communities of color had been disproportionately affected by this.
So, on this subject where we have agreement, we don't have agreement in the language yet, but I'm hopeful.
And here's the big difference. Communities of color have more deaths than the white population.
Let's just think of this. If you are a child, a Hispanic child has eight times more chance of going to the hospital with COVID than a white child. A black child, fives times more chance of going to the hospital on that. That’s because we have not addressed the problem.
The testing. The tracing. The treatment. The mask wearing. The separation. The sanitation. And all that goes with it. So, again, hopefully we can learn from each other.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re --
PELOSI: And they understand -- and let me just say this, we had pages and pages of how you would do this in the minority community. They crossed it all out. Instead they put this sentence, contact tracing will be paid for by the Federal Government as part of the $75 billion.
OK, we agree to that. But given state difference, each state shall establish a strategy that is appropriate to its circumstances. CDC can provide guidance to the states on elements. Can, no must.
But in addition to that, we have to have a national plan. You cannot leave it up to the states --
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you go --
PELOSI: -- decide how they’re going to address the minority community --
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you don’t get that agreement --
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you don’t get that agreement in the 48 hour deadline you set, what happens?
PELOSI: Well, here’s the thing, the 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, don't you? Yes.
PELOSI: Yes, so which we do. But we're saying to them, we have to freeze the design on some of these things. Are we going with it or not and what is the language?
I'm optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this. You know legislation, shall is different from may. Shall -- the difference amounts to this, if you think of it this simple way, when you say may you're giving the president a flush front (ph). He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold.
When you say shall, according to the scientific -- the science (ph) tell us must happen. And if we test and trace and treat, masks, separate, ventilate, sanitize, and all the rest of that, we can open our schools --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Madam Speaker --
PELOSI: -- we can open our businesses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if you reach a deal with the White House somewhere around $1.82 trillion, Leader McConnell has said he’s not going to put something like that on the floor of the Senate. So what happens?
PELOSI: Well, he did -- he said a number of things and one of the things that he said, I think it was yesterday, was -- but it was reported yesterday, that if the White House and the House come to an agreement that he would put it on the floor.
That is among his many statements. But most of the time he spends it laughing. Pushing the pause button, telling states to go bankrupt, laughing when -- in his debate, did you see that? When Amy McGrath was saying to him, what are you doing about stopping spread of the virus et cetera, he laughed. He laughed.
This is not funny. The president didn't take it seriously, McConnell has not taken it seriously. But we can stop this if we follow the science. And be ready for a vaccine --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but --
PELOSI: -- which I hope will be soon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You haven’t spoken to the president in over a year. Are you willing to pick up the phone to close a deal to get this done?
PELOSI: Look (ph) -- let me just say this because I keep getting that question. It isn’t about the president. He sends his representative -- President Bush sent his representative, President Obama sent a representative, professionals who know something about the policy, this is not unusual.
However, I have a great deal of respect for the office I hold, Speaker of the House, and I have a great deal of respect for the position that he holds, President of the United States. This is not a casual conversation. This is about a meeting of the head of the first branch of government, the legislative branch, and the president.
If there is a purpose, if there is a stipulation of trying to get something done, then perhaps we take this to that place when we can't solve other problems. But many of you have spent many times calculating how many times the president has misrepresented the facts, how many times the president has told me and told Chuck Schumer that yes, we're going to do this for Dreamers, or told bipartisan (inaudible) representatives in the (inaudible) yes, we’re going to do this on immigration, told us yes, we're going to do this on infrastructure. But then he doesn't.
So again, you want to meet with him, you meet with him. As far as I’m concerned the Speaker of the House must be respected in terms of what the purpose of the meeting is, what the preparation is for it, and what the likely outcome (ph) of success would be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bottom-line, Madam Speaker, are Americans going to get relief before Election Day?
PELOSI: Well, that depends on the administration. The fact is, is that we cannot -- the heart of the matter is to stop the spread of the virus.
Now, let me speak to you from the standpoint of children because that is my why. That is why I am in government and politics. The children, we could -- we -- we're having a big debate with them now over earned income tax credit. They gave a tax break to the richest people in America. We want an earned income tax credit, a child tax credit, child independent tax credit for the children.
Eight -- 6 million to 8 million kids, depending on whose calculation you use, million of kids are now -- people are in poverty in our country, and these -- many of them are children.
So, this will alleviate, take millions of children out of poverty, send them to schools that are -- that take money to have the separation, the ventilation, of the number of teachers there to teach them, have the -- correct (ph) this coronavirus that is affecting black and Hispanic children in much greater way than white kids.
And that takes us all back to state and local government, which is the source of health care, education, first responders, police and fire, food, sanitation. There is a oneness to this. I think we can get there.
But if you think of it in terms of the children, and childcare -- childcare, they're rejecting our number on childcare, which is greatly reduced, but they’re rejecting it and saying that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think --
PELOSI: -- childcare is very -- people can't go to work if their children can't go to school.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Madam Speaker, I do -- I do have to move on, but I just want to ask you one final question about Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Last time we spoke, you said Democrats had arrows in their quiver to block this nomination. But she seems on a path of confirmation right now.
Is this a done deal or is there still something Democrats can do to stop it?
PELOSI: Well, we’ll see. I’m not I’m not in the Senate. I don’t -- I don’t -- what I’m talking about is how we win this election, because we have to offset whatever a court -- whatever the outcome of this, whatever this court may do. And the court -- the House, the Congress of the United States can overturn these bad decisions.
For example, the court just did one on the census. The census is a disagreement we have in this bill (ph) -- this is very important, who we are as a nation. And yet, the court just agreed with the president to stop the census.
So, again, we'll -- because we want to have an agreement, we can come to a negotiation and we can do it now. What's the difference between a few days except that we could have it before the election, which we want it as soon as possible.
And I certainly want it because I don't want to have to be sweeping up after this dumpings (ph) of this elephant as we go into a new presidency in a few short months.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.
PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure. Good morning, George (ph). Stay safe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're joined now by the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel.
Ronna, thank you for joining us this morning.
First off, I know you’ve been battling COVID. How are you feeling?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Feeling great. You know, I was -- I was sick. I had -- I have asthmas and I was on a steroid. And I’ve really come out of it quickly, on the campaign trail and feeling great. Thank you for asking.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, you know, Governor Christie, one of our contributors now, he’s coming up on the program as well. He’s -- he’s also battled COVID and said he came out thinking that he was wrong not to wear a mask in the White House.
What lesson have you taken away from all of this?
MCDANIEL: I think it is incredibly contagious. I think people are getting sick and they don't know where.
And I think the president, with what he has done with the Warp Speed vaccines, the testing, these are going to be the things that are going to get us out of this pandemic, and the president taking that swift action early on is putting our country in a better place to fight this terrible virus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, of course, you are from Michigan. You saw the president's rally last night. You just heard Speaker Pelosi.
Should the president be talking like that about Governor Whitmer, talking about lock them up, lock them all up, when she’s facing threats like this?
MCDANIEL: Well, first of all, the president and his FBI foiled this plot. And I think Governor Whitmer is really inappropriate to try to lay blame at the president.
These were sick individuals. There was no political affiliation. They were attacking the capitol as well.
We're glad she is safe, her family is safe. But again, let's not politicize --
STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s saying lock them all up.
MCDANIEL: Because of her locking down our state. I mean, my kids aren't in school. She locked us down.
Open it up. It’s not -- let's not take the rhetoric further. Let's not continue to extrapolate things that were not being said.
And what people are saying in Michigan, please let us open up, let our kids go back to school. That's what they're talking about. They’re not threatening our governor. And she’s taking it way too far once again.
And the president, not her --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but let me just stop you there, though, because --
MCDANIEL: --foiled this plot with his FBI.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank goodness the FBI did foil that plot. No question about that.
MCDANIEL: Thank goodness, absolutely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But one of the things -- one of the things that the governor's staff pointed out is that every time the president speaks like this, the threats to her go up on social media.
MCDANIEL: Well, you know, Democrats attack us, too, George, and threats go up to us, too.
I mean, Governor Whitmer, we, of course, want her to be safe and healthy, but she has locked down her state and the people of Michigan, when they're saying, open up our state, it's -- it's from an impassioned place because their businesses are failing, their restaurants are failing. And I will say as a mom of kids in public school who are not back in school, their education is failing right now. Figure it out.
And, you know, there is a state response. She does have responsibility. She's on the Sunday shows all the time. Actually, why don't you come back to Michigan and fix it for the families that are suffering under your lockdown.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: The president has also been getting into debates with his own Republican senators, including Ben Sasse. Here's a phone call that he had, Senator Sasse, with his constituents just this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): It isn't just that he fails to lead our allies, it's that we -- the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a -- a drunken sailor. The ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending, I've criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His -- his family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He flirted with white supremacists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tough words there. And the president responded on Twitter yesterday morning, a couple of tweets, taking on the senator, including this final line, Senator Sasse could be next. Perhaps the Republicans should find a new and more viable candidate.
As chair of the Republican National Committee, do you think the Republicans should find a new Senate candidate in Nebraska?
MCDANIEL: Well, first I'll say, everything that Ben Sasse said in that recording does not resemble the president that has lead our country out of this pandemic. He's lead us to a great economy before this. He's leading us out of it with 11.4 million jobs created, great trade -- new trade deals, was at the March for Life, the first president to do that. As a woman, the first -- second woman to chair the RNC, let me just tell you, the respect he has for women. And the president has unprecedented approval with the Republican Party.
Ben's been there for a long time. It's not surprising. It's the only time he gets news is when he criticizes this president. But the party, and the energy we're seeing on the ground, and the rallies, and what we're seeing for this president is unprecedented in terms of the support he's receiving from Republicans across the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's laying out that maybe Republicans should find a new candidate. Should there be a new candidate in Nebraska?
MCDANIEL: There's not going to be a new candidate in Nebraska. But, you know, the president, of course, is not pleased to see our candidate attacking him. And I don't blame him for saying that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He also took on Susan Collins, Maine Senator Susan Collins, in a tweet on Friday, suggesting that she's not worth the work. Is Susan Collins worth the work?
MCDANIEL: Listen, I want all Republicans to win. I want to keep the Republican majority. I want to re-elect the president and I want to get the House. So I don't -- we want every Republican to win.
And I'll tell you why, because you have a candidate on the Democrat side right now, Joe Biden, who, on your town hall, and continually, after question after question about whether he's going to up end the third branch of government and burn down our checks and balances is saying to the American people, I'll tell you what I'm going to do after the election. We need the Senate, we need the presidency and we need the House, because you a presidential candidate who refuses to be honest with the American people, even in your town hall, saying I'll (inaudible) after the election what I'm going to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, and I did push him on that and he said he'd come out with -- he actually -- he actually said after a couple of questions that it would be before the election.
MCDANIEL: Yes, he -- and he still hasn't George. And every reporter lets him get a free pass. It is the third branch of government, the judicial branch of government, stacking the Supreme Court will change our country forever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I asked him several questions on it. So we'll --
MCDANIEL: (inaudible) want every senator elected, I want every senator elected, I want our president elected.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But --
MCDANIEL: But more than anything, I would love Joe Biden to get a tough question that he actually has to answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He did answer it on Thursday.
But as -- as RNC chair, are you at all concerned that the president's in kind of open warfare with his own senators?
MCDANIEL: I think this president is fighting for the American people every day. I'm not worried about Washington beltway politics. This is a president who went out and said there are forgotten men and women in this country who do not have a voice in Washington and he's made better trade deals and he's cut taxes and he's cut regulation and he's put great judges on the Supreme Court and across the judiciary. This is a president who has done phenomenal work for the American people. He wasn't there for the Washington elite.
And, again, you have a candidate who did not answer your question in that town hall, George. Doesn't that concern you, that he is saying, I will fundamentally change the third branch of government and the American people only deserve to know that after the election? I think that's incredibly alarming.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, he say before, but you've now got several Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham, saying he's concerned that Joe Biden is going to win. Thom Tillis saying that you need a Republican Senate to be a check on a potential President Biden. You've seen the comments from Susan Collins and from Ben -- Ben Sasse.
Are you starting to see Republican senators running on a separate track from President Trump?
MCDANIEL: I'm not. I think all of them have been running those similar races along.
Here's what I'm going to tell you. I am seeing more enthusiasm than I saw in 2016. I study the data every day. We know that our voters are going to turn out on Election Day. They don't trust the mail in balloting as much. They are getting out in these early vote states right now. We want them to get out. We want them to turn in their absentee votes.
But we are seeing this huge energy and we are seeing really great numbers coming out for the president. And this is a race. And any Republican that doesn't recognize that running with the president is going to help them is hurting themselves in the long run.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally your uncle, Mitt Romney, called out the president for refusing to condemn QAnon, calling this conspiracy theory absurd and dangerous.
As Head of the Republican Party, are you prepared to condemn QAnon?
MCDANIEL: I knew you were going to ask me that question. I knew it because it's something the voters are not even thinking about. It's a fringe group. It’s not part of our party. The vice president said, I dismiss it out of hand. The president said, you know what, I don't know anything about this group. But of course you’re going to ask me about that because it has absolutely nothing to do with this election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So do you condemn it?
MCDANIEL: Antifa -- Antifa is burning down cities right now. I just told you, dismiss them out of hand. They are a fringe group.
But this is crazy, George. The American people are worried about the stimulus package that Nancy Pelosi is holding up, checks going to people who are concerned, and she’s saying, you know what, I’m going to look at the fine print, I don’t like this one word and I’m going to hold the American people hostage as I play political gamesmanship with their lives.
That’s what the voters are worried about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve got a series of Senate Republicans --
MCDANIEL: They’re not --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- saying that package is too large.
MCDANIEL: -- up about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve got a series of Senate Republicans saying that package is too large.
MCDANIEL: There’s no package yet, George. Because Nancy Pelosi has been holding it up for months.
The president has said, get help to the American people. And she is saying, no, not unless we get ballot harvesting in there and we get all these things in there that have nothing to do with getting immediate help to Americans who are struggling right now.
This is all on Nancy Pelosi every day, all day. She is hurting the American people for her political wellbeing and it is shameful that she is doing this in a time of pandemic. And that’s what the American people are worried about right now. Their jobs, the economy, and they know that President Trump is the best candidate to lead them back out of this pandemic because he’s already doing it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ronna McDaniel, thanks for your time this morning.
MCDANIEL: Thank you so much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable’s coming up and Nate Silver is up next, analyzing the surge in early voting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Don't wait. Vote today. Tell everyone you know, everyone you meet, vote, vote, vote! And no matter what, don't let anybody discourage you or tell you your vote won't count, because it does.
You, the American people, are going to decide the future of this country. Vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Democrats' push for early vote seems to be bearing fruit. At least 26 million Americans have already voted in more than 40 states, a staggering 20 percent of the total vote in 2016, more than two weeks before Election Day.
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver weighs in on what it may say about the final result.
NATE SILVER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: Breaking news: The election is happening now.
More than 25 million people have already voted, either early in person or by mail, and that number will continue to rise between now and Election Day.
So far, Democrats have a big edge over Republicans, leading the number of returned mail ballots in states that track party registration, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
But, remember, this is pretty much what pollsters expected; 63 percent of Democrats said they planned to vote early, as compared to 35 percent of Republicans, according to our recent ABC News/"Washington Post" poll.
But Republicans could make up for that with a big turnout on November 3, since 60 percent of them plan to cast a ballot on Election Day. That should make the margin a lot closer, though keep in mind that Donald Trump significantly trails Joe Biden in national polls.
There are also pluses and minuses to voting by mail. The upside, it's easy and convenient. There's no chance that, when we come up on Election Day, say, your car won't start or you're not feeling well and have to stay home.
The downside, a higher percentage of mail ballots are rejected, because it's easy to make errors, like not having the right legal signature or not putting the ballot in the right envelope, depending on your state's requirements.
Overall, though, turnout tends to increase when states implement mail voting. And officials on both sides encourage their voters to do it.
So, I buy that Republicans should be worried Democrats are locking a lot of votes in, but I wouldn't say they should panic. Odds are that, in the end, turnout will be sky-high on both sides, perhaps even topping 150 million votes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate for that.
And now to our series "Six for the Win."
With 29 electoral votes, Florida could be this year's most consequential battleground. Every plausible path to victory laid out by the Trump campaign requires a win in the Sunshine State.
But current polls give Joe Biden a narrow edge.
Rachel Scott has this closer look at where things stand right now.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... still hasn't decided who he is voting for.
(on camera): What has you on the fence?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Economics, I mean, simply just taking care of what we have right now. A pandemic is literally a turnoff switch on my business.
SCOTT (voice-over): When the pandemic sent the economy tumbling, Thomas was forced to close one of his restaurants in Orlando and lay off 20 members of his staff.
And though he says the president is strong on the economy, it's his handling of the pandemic that's giving him pause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shoots from the hip and he creates a frenzy.
And then we have the other candidate, Biden, which I think is a good candidate also. But he's pushing for some situations where, for example, $15 an hour, that's a really tough situation to push right now in a bad economy.
SCOTT: There is no bigger prize among the contested states. During the last six elections, no candidate has won the White House without winning Florida. And polls show it could be a nail-biter once again.
So when President trump was cleared to resume campaigning after his COVID battle, his first destination: the Sunshine State.
We met Margie Santos on her way to his rally in Sanford.
At 45 years old, she's voting for the first time too.
MARGIE SANTOS, VOTER: Nobody's perfect. We got to focus on the action, and what he's doing for our country.
SCOTT: After losing three of her uncles to COVID-19, she's still standing by the president
SANTOS: I don't live in fear. I don't, I don't -- I'm with the president that, you know, we cannot let it control our lives.
SCOTT: Central Florida is one of the most hotly contested areas of the state and home to one of the largest retirement communities in the country: The Villages. Trump easily won the senior vote here and across Florida the last time, but many are less enthusiastic now because of the way the president has handled the pandemic
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say they value life, but they don't value elder life, they don't wear the masks.
SCOTT: The trump campaign, concerned about the drop in senior support showed up with some promises this week.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seniors will be the first in line for the vaccine, and we will soon be ending this pandemic.
SCOTT: In fact, Biden has been leading in many polls among this critical voting block.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: His handling of this pandemic has been erratic, just like his presidency has been. And it has prevented Florida seniors and people all across the country from getting the relief that they need.
SCOTT: As well as another key group, Hispanics.
DR. FERNANDO RIVERA, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: About 20-some percent of the population are Hispanic.
SCOTT: Dr. Fernando Rivera, a professor at the University of Central Florida has been tracking the Hispanic voting trends in the area for more than 10 years.
RIVERA: It's sort of a purple area, right, so people go back and forward between Democrat and Republican. And I think that the Trump campaign, they don’t necessarily need to win the whole percentage of the Puerto Rican vote or the Hispanic vote. They just need enough.
On the other side, Democrats and especially the Biden campaign has to make sure that the turnout is there
MARIA BAEZ, VOTER: Por Biden.
SCOTT: One of those the Biden campaign is counting on, Maria Baez. She clenches her necklace, the names of the family she left behind in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria etched in silver.
Healthcare for her grandson who lives with her now is key, so she's backing Biden.
BAEZ: I see a politician who wants to fight for the United States, who can have benefits like health care and have a better quality of life.
SCOTT: In 2016, Trump won the state by just over 100,000 votes. Most agree, whoever wins over Central Florida voters now is probably on the fast track to the White House.
For this week, I'm Rachel Scott in Orlando, Florida.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks, Rachel, for that.
Roundtable is up next. Stay with us.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Who was the last Supreme Court justice to receive more than 90 confirmation votes?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT (August 10, 1993): A system of justice will be the richer for diversity of background and experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Roundtable's ready to go.
We'll be right back.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I lose in Minnesota, I’m never coming back. I don’t care (ph). I’m never coming back.
How the hell do you lose to a guy like this? Is this possible? I’ll never come to Pennsylvania, again.
If I don't get Iowa, I won't believe that one. I may never have to come back here again if I don’t get Iowa.
Could you imagine if I lose, my whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say, I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don't know.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump out on the stump every night. Let's talk about this on our Roundtable. Joined by Chris Christie; Rahm Emanuel; the CEO of Democracy for America, Yvette Simpson; and Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump administration who is now a political analyst for CNN and The Dispatch.
First, Chris, welcome back. I’m glad you’re feeling better right now.
You’ve often said the president isn’t going to change. He is who he is. And I guess we’ve seen that over the last couple of days. Lock up the Bidens on Friday, lock up Gretchen Whitmer last night. He’s in Twitter wars with Susan Collins and Ben Sasse. Is he doing what he needs to do for these final two weeks?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I -- listen, George, I think over the last two weeks what he’s got to do is to remain disciplined on the economic message.
I think there are real concerns by people across the country about what Joe Biden’s going to do. They’ve admitted that they’re going to take back the Trump tax cut. That’s going to raise taxes on middle class families, that’s going to raise taxes on small businesses. And, no matter what Vice President Biden says, that’s the truth.
And so the fact here is that the president should be focused on the economic message, I think almost exclusively because that's where he has the greatest credibility. The American people give him great credit for the economy that was built pre-pandemic. And I think if they're looking towards the future in that way, the president has a better chance of winning than if we talk about old grievances.
And I just -- this goes back, George, you’ll remember on this show, we talked about the memo I sent to the president over 110 days ago now, where I said if you run the campaign you ran in 2016 to (ph) 2020 it is not going to be a winning campaign.
So I think in the last two weeks this is what he’s got to do. We'll see if he does.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So far he has not done it.
Rahm Emanuel, what worries you most for the Democrats in these final two weeks?
RAHM EMANUEL, (D) FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sometimes I feel like that dog in the commercial where you hear the music and you’re kind of trepidation.
We’ve seen this before, but I kind of look at this each time and watch the polling in this area, watch the state polling in this area, and I realize that Joe Biden is in a better position. I think complacency is one thing.
What also worries me though is also making sure that the voters understand this is a campaign against a culture of grossness (ph) on the presidency. And I think the voters understand that. Usually the economy is there. But, in this case, I think culture works.
And one of the things I would also say and add in this case, a campaign is about everything you need to do and then everything your opponent needs you -- them to do for you to win. And Trump is doing everything Joe Biden needs at this point.
He’s still two weeks to go and he’s never laid out a second term agenda. He’s never laid out here’s what I want to do. And I think we got to get through the next debate, which is the last and final hurdle, and then make the argument about a future for this country, which is where Joe Biden is, and stay focused on bringing decency and a future that works for everybody, not just the few. And stay on message and don’t get distracted because there’s not a day to waste with two weeks to go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah Isgur, I have to say, I kind of felt for Ronna McDaniel, the Chair of the RNC when she’s got the president taking on incumbent Republican senators up for reelection right now. You’re starting to see senators go on different tracks from the president.
Is there a way to coordinate this campaign right now?
SARAH ISGUR, DISPATCH STAFF WRITER AND CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, because at this point a lot of the down-ballot candidates believe that Trump has already lost. And so they're looking ahead trying to do the best they can to survive this election but also the future of the Republican Party.
If Trump only loses by a little, the question will be is it just a post Trump party? He was a flawed messenger but the message was right? Or is it going to be a full repudiation of Donald Trump’s presidency and the direction he took the Republican Party?
And so I think you're going to see more and more defections in these last two weeks, as, you know, Governor Christie pointed out, the president refuses to stay on any sort of economic message. And the more he makes this about himself and about culture, this will be a turnout election.
There are no more persuadable voters to go. He is discouraging early votes, which is allowing Democrats to bank a lot of their voters. And Republicans and Ronna McDaniel, in particular, and the RNC folks are going to be concentrating so hard on turnout on Election Day.
But they're going to have probably three times as many voters that they have to hit on Election Day for those turnout operations than the Democrats will, because they just don't have the votes banked.
So, there's a lot that the Republicans have uphill in these next two weeks, and I don't see how those down-ballot folks are really going to be able to distinguish that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yvette, these early vote numbers are pretty staggering right now. At least 26 million Americans have voted by this morning. It sure looks like we're on the road to record turnout.
The Democrats appear to have the edge in those who have voted so far, but what we don't know is whether they're just banking votes, as Sarah was just talking about that, they're going to get anyway.
YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and that's one of the questions.
I think part of it is, certainly, folks are worried about voter suppression, and they should be. And that's one of the reasons why I think Democratic voters are going out really, really early, because they don't trust the mail. They don't trust all these changing rules that are still happening in states as people are voting.
And we have been encouraging them to go out early. I think that momentum is going to continue. I don't think Donald Trump is helping himself among any voter who's not decided, among any independent voter, among any Democratic voter that hasn't voted before, because, in the midst of this crisis, he continues to strut around like nothing has happened.
He continues to not wear a mask. He's dancing at parties. He's got these big rallies. And I think the more time that goes on, voters who are undecided or Democratic voters who haven't been encouraged yet to vote will go out and vote in record numbers.
I do worry about Election Day. I continue to worry about voter intimidation. I worry about the fact that machines might be down. I worry about the continued consolidation of voting locations.
And so we're working really, really hard, George, to make sure that our voters are going out early. And it seems like the message is sticking.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Chris Christie, what we are seeing also is, the president is out there barnstorming, as we're seeing record numbers of coronavirus cases, again, the highest numbers since July, the highest numbers in Wisconsin over the weekend ever right now.
How big a problem is that for the president? But also comment on some of your fellow former Republican governors now -- they're sitting Republican governors right now -- Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland both saying they're not going to vote for President Trump?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, Charlie Baker and Larry Hogan are both dear friends of mine. But it's not surprising.
Listen, George, they're the governors, sitting governors of blue states. They haven't supported the president all along. And I wouldn't expect that they're going to support them now. Charlie has the option to run for reelection in two years. And I think he's got that in mind. And Larry obviously has a future as well.
So, they're all looking towards their future. So I don't think that means all that much. I don't think anybody was wondering whether the president was going to win Massachusetts or Maryland. So, I don't think that matters all that much.
I think the bigger issue here is, it's not so much how the rallies are going. It's, what is the president going to say at the rallies? What is he going to say Thursday night in the debates? If he can get people focused on the fact that Joe Biden wants to raise taxes $4 trillion, that Joe Biden would not, on your program, repudiate the Green New Deal, George.
Now, you asked him very clearly, why's that on your Web site if you don't want it? And he really didn't have a good answer for that. And that's a huge expenditure as well.
So, you know, I think the president should be focusing focus on those things at his rallies, in his debate on Thursday night, rather than talking about some of the other issues that have been brought up that I would call more grievance issues.
And those grievance issues, the people who are motivated by those issues, George, they're already voting for the president. What we need to do is turn out some people who either won't vote because they don't like either candidate at the moment or are still somewhat undecided and persuadable.
And so, from my perspective, that's what they need to be doing. And that's much more important than how something looks. It's what's being said in these last two weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, if this debate happens on Thursday night, what does Joe Biden need to do? How would he handle those attacks from President Trump?
EMANUEL: Well, I think -- look, I think you saw that the other day in the two town halls.
I think there was a decency that came across from Joe Biden to the voters and a respect. And I don't think it's an accident that the town hall that was held on ABC had a large audience. I think the people are hungry for answers for the future.
The advantage Joe Biden has is, he has an agenda for the future. The president has not laid one out. And the American people never forget that an election is about tomorrow. And I do think that is a strategic advantage.
And Biden has to press down on that, about making sure he has an agenda that includes all of America, not some of America, because all of what Trump offers is a divisiveness and American people really know that that’s off kilter.
And the second thing I want to add, George, on this -- for all of the Republicans in the Senate now they’re speaking up -- I’m sorry, you made a Faustian bargain. After three-and-a-half years with only two weeks to the election and now you're saying something, now you’re finding the moral courage to speak up?
As we said in Chicago and a Jewish family, that dog just won't hunt. I’m sorry. I just -- I don't get this.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, all the time I hear that.
EMANUEL: No, no, yeah, always at the synagogue. This dog won't hunt. I just don’t get this.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, always.
EMANUEL: Three-and-a-half years, all of the things that you’ve done, the president has done, now with two weeks to go you're going to abandon him, when you have stood up for America. I think the American people see this.
And I think if I was Biden, stay focused on tomorrow, stay focused on their future, and he showed in the town hall, this is about you. It’s not about me. It’s not about Donald Trump.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Sarah Isgur, a lot --
EMANUEL: About the American people, that will work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of people in the White House think Ben Sasse leaked that tape on his own.
EMANUEL: Yeah, my assumption is he did, and he’ll -- it will come back to haunt him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I was throwing that to Sarah. Take it, Sarah.
EMANUEL: I’m sorry.
SARAH ISGUR, DISPATCH STAFF WRITER: Not to worry.
I mean, Rahm’s got -- got some Texas phrases up there in Texas. I need to teach him "all hat and no cattle" next.
EMANUEL: Yeah, I got that too.
ISGUR: Yeah. So, I think -- I think, again, these down ballot candidates are looking at some really scary numbers in the polls. There’s -- you know, one, that those who don’t like either candidate are pulling heavily towards Biden. That’s the opposite of what we saw in 2016 where the people who didn’t like either candidate actually went for Trump over Hillary Clinton.
And so, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see candidates trying to find clever and interesting ways to distinguish themselves.
Of course, Ben Sasse doesn’t have a particularly competitive race, but what you want to look at are a bunch of these top tier Senate races that are highly competitive, when we’re talking about states like Alaska and Texas, they're polling tighter, that’s what’s really shocking, you know, when -- and you look at 2022, Republicans can't get any of these seats really back. The states that are up in 2022 are bad for Republicans.
So, I think that overall, the Republican Party is having a bit of a panic attack right now in part because the president can't really get past these grievance issues. And yes, this will be a turnout election and the complacency on the Democratic side that I think the Trump campaign wanted today see isn’t there.
And that's why this fascinating Pew study that show that people who think their neighbors are going to vote for Donald Trump is the highest among the most progressive. Those people are getting more enthusiastic, not less.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yvette, one thing the president is -- does seem to be getting these final couple of weeks is a new justice on the Supreme Court. It looks like Amy Coney Barrett is going to sail towards confirmation in the Senate. And a lot of progressives, a lot of Democrats not happy with the way Dianne Feinstein handled the hearings, and you heard the speaker there, it doesn't appear that the Democrats are prepared to find a way to do anything about it, or they can't.
YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know a lot of progressives, including our organization Democracy for America have called on Dianne Feinstein to step down as a leader of -- among the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. I mean, she’s clearly shown that she’s not going to fight for the rights of Democrats on this issue, which I don't understand.
This is probably one of the most fundamental issues among Democrats right now as we lead outside of the course, health care and other things, when you think about the future of our country as it relates to health care, as it relates to choice, as it relates to marriage equality, and so many other issues, including voting rights and immigration.
And so, the fact that she’s not even willing to fight and is not showing that she has impartiality on behalf of Democrats is appalling. And I will tell you that we will see many actions over the course of next week. Our organization is going to be making calls to senators over the next week. This is a very critical issue.
And we're very, very glad that Joe Biden clarified his position on the future of the court during the town hall that he had with you, George, because what Democrats want is to see Democrats fighting back against the cheating of Mitch McConnell and Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well --
SIMPSON: The block and block (ph) strategy that Mitch McConnell has had over the course of time is what got us here. And so, we have to make sure that we have action to counteract a very ultra conservative court that does not gel with what most Americans want.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s got ways to go in coming with the final answer, though. He has said it’s going to come before the election.
Chris, I want to get back to the economy. You said the president should be focused on the economy right now. Should he disclose this deal with Nancy Pelosi, and should he tell Mitch McConnell that we need to vote on it?
CHRISTIE: Well, first off, just to respond to what Yvette said, he clarified his answer? He sounded like Wimpy from the old Popeye cartoon. I’ll be happy to pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today. I’ll give you an answer before Election Day, maybe, about whether I'm going to pack the court. I mean that's ridiculous to say he clarified his position. And I'll tell you something, if a vet and the progressives are happy with that answer, then they've lost their way because he didn't give an answer on that. Now, as far as the economy goes --
YVETTE SIMPSON, DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA CEO AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Every action -- every action, Governor, has an equal and opposite reaction.
CHRISTIE: They -- they don't. He did not --
SIMPSON: OK, so what -- every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
CHRISTIE: No it doesn't. No it doesn't, Yvette. It doesn't.
SIMPSON: And so he's saying --
CHRISTIE: No, it doesn't and --
SIMPSON: He's saying to Republicans, if you want to pull this trick, then we will also be ready to rectify it.
CHRISTIE: You know, Yvette, I would have loved to interrupt you, but -- but -- I would have loved to interrupt you, Yvette, but -- you know, Yvette, I would have loved to have interrupt you, but you weren't saying anything of any substance, so I just let you go.
The fact of the matter is this, on the economy, what the --
SIMPSON: You're responding to what I just said. You're responding right now to what I said.
CHRISTIE: What the president should be talking about -- what the president -- what the -- what the president just talked about and needs to talk about over the last two weeks, George, and what will get some of these Senate candidates a little more enthused is to talk about the difference between what he wants to do for the economy and what Joe Biden will do.
And when you talk about what Joe Biden saying the future, here's one of the things that I think does make sense and what Rahm mentioned earlier. This is starting to remind me a little bit of the Bush/Gore campaign at the end when George W. Bush really focused on restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office.
RAHM EMANUEL, (D) FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE).
CHRISTIE: And, you know, I think that's going to be Biden's wrap-up argument in the last two weeks. That's the argument he's going to try to make. The president better go after that substantively or he'll have a problem.
EMANUEL: Yes, I -- can I -- George, on this --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Go ahead, Rahm.
EMANUEL: There's -- there's a -- there's a key point between Sarah and Chris. And the question is, is the economy the trump card or because of the last 3.5 years, about the character of Donald Trump, the coarseness around this president, the divisiveness, are the American people saying, we want a course correction.
And every time an incumbent runs, there's a real simple question, do you play them or do you trade them? And I think the American people, at least at all the polling shows, very quickly now that they think the culture, the presidency, the character, remember, when you vote for an executive, you're voting for the person, legislature, you're voting for the policy, on the person. They made a decision about the character of Donald Trump and they want him out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, well, that is going to have to be the last word today. Thank you all very much.
Two weeks, two days to go, as we said, 26 million Americans have already voted, hearing toward a record turnout for 2020.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Tune in Thursday night for the final presidential debate. I'll be anchoring our special coverage starting at 8:00 Eastern. And I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.
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