'This Week' Transcript 11-4-18: Special edition from ABC News Election Headquarters
This is a rush transcript for "This Week" on Nov. 4, 2018.
A rush transcript of a special edition of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Good morning from ABC News election headquarters. Welcome to a special edition of This Week.
The race to finish. 48 hours to go.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is one of the most important elections of our entire lives.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The closing arguments.
MARTHA MCSALLY, ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: We have to crack down on sanctuary cities.
BETO O’ROURKE, TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Stop the walls of separation.
STACEY ABRAMS, GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Georgia can do more, can be more.
JOSH HAWLEY, MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: Everything that you voted for is on the line.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Political star power.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can vote for a politics that's decent, for a politics that's honest, for a politics that is lawful.
TRUMP: The choice in this election could not be more simple.
OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: You all are on the very precipice of an historical election.
BOB KNIGHT, FORMER INDIANA UNIVERSITY HOOSIERS BASKETBALL COACH: Go get him, Donald.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And white-hot rhetoric.
TRUMP: If you don't want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you better vote Republican.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's make it clear, we Democrats, we choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Republicans banking on the economy and the Kavanaugh effect, Democrats campaigning to check Trump and preserve health care.
Americans already voting in record numbers, control of Congress, the Trump presidency, our country's future all at stake.
This morning, we cover it all, our election team standing by with the races to watch. Plus our brand-new poll and the latest election forecast from FiveThirtyEight.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News election headquarters it's This Week. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again. You can see that we are broadcasting this morning from our election headquarters here in New York. This is where we're going to be tracking and analyzing results as they come in on Tuesday night. The team already here, ready to go for what is shaping up to be the most consequential midterm election in years.
It feels like a presidential election. Americans are engaged. Passions high. Early voting through the roof and President Trump is campaigning as if he were on the ballot.
In one way he is. If Democrats win the House or the Senate Tuesday night, Trump will wake up to a very different presidency Wednesday morning.
Our brand-new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the president coming into these midterms with the lowest approval of any president since Harry Truman. He's at 40 percent, with 53 percent disapproving of Trump's performance.
The president's average approval since inauguration is the lowest on record. And 59 percent of likely voters say it's important to them to vote for a candidate who shares their opinion of Trump. That is fueling a Democratic advantage with 48 hours to go. Democratic House candidates lead Republicans by 8 points among likely voters, 52 to 44. But that is down from 13 points last month.
The Republican base is clearly re-energized in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings and the Democratic advantage among women, especially independent women, is shrinking.
On the issues, Republicans have an edge on handling the economy. Democrats have been advertising on health care, they have an advantage there. And as President Trump trains his fire on that migrant caravan, our poll shows split views -- 47 percent trust Democrats to handle immigration, but voters trust Republicans by a 10-point margin on border security.
We have a lot to analyze here with our team. I want to start by bringing our chief national affairs correspondent Tom Llamas. Tom, we're going to be focusing Tuesday on two key numbers, the two numbers we show right there, 23 and 2.
The House changes hands if the Democrats pick up 23 seats. In the Senate Democrats would need a net gain of two seats to change control. And those races you are going to show are taking place on two very different battlegrounds. Let's start with the House.
TOM LLAMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. So, we're tracking the House races, but we've identified more than 100 competitive House races. These are the congressional districts, and you can see they stretch all along the map.
What are we seeing here? We're seeing congressional districts that are part of suburbs and exurbs. And we see some clusters in the northeast. We're watching New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, but we're also watching some red states -- Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, and in the blue state of California, we're tracking nearly a dozen races.
We have taken all these the competitive races. And we've aligned them like this on what we're calling our chip board, align them by the way polls are closing.
Remember that key number you were talking about, George, 23, that's how many seats Democrats have to flip. And they may have an advantage. Historically, we have never seen a Democratic battleground this big. And there's a couple of reasons, a quarter of these districts, Hillary Clinton actually won but Republicans hold power. In others, Republicans were retired and even more, Democrats are generally excited about their candidates, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Senate exactly the opposite.
LLAMAS: A completely different story in the Senate. Let's talk a look at that now. When we flip over to our battleground board over here and we take a look at all the blue, these are all the Democratic seats. We're tracking 35 races. Let's go to the map right now. These are all the Senate races. But we've identified 14 key races.
Remember, George, as you said, the Republicans have an advantage of two seats here but there are a lot of seats that Democrats hold in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. This was Trump country and they have a Democratic senator. But there are some races where Democrats feel they may have an advantage because of Republican retirements, in Tennessee and Arizona. We’re going to be watching all those, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot of seats to watch. Want to bring in Nate Silver, also from FiveThirtyEight. And Nate, your forecast looking ahead to Tuesday pretty much mirror what we’re seeing on those maps. Let’s start with the House.
NATE SILVER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Yeah, for sure. So look at who is playing defense and how much defense they’re playing. So in the House we have Democrats with about a four in five chance of winning the House. The national polls are pretty good for Democrats. The district polls are -- are very good for Democrats. They’re pretty deep into red territory. In the Senate, it’s the reverse where we have the GOP with a six in seven chance of holding on. Democrats are playing a lot of defense in states that they currently hold.
The terrain there is extremely red. So again, polls aren’t always right. If polls are right, you would have a split outcome.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Polls aren’t right and polls -- polls have a wide margin of error. Rick Klein is going to -- our political director. In part because this race is very hard to model the turnout for a midterm election.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That’s exactly right. And 52-44, eight points is exactly where Democrats need to be -- right on the cusp of where they need to be to be able to say that they have a good shot of taking the majority. If you narrow it down to the battleground districts, you’ve got only a five point edge. So that’s where the majority is either going to be won or lost. And Democrats are depending on groups that don’t typically turn out in midterm elections. Bottom line, George, they need them to vote.
We’re talking about younger voters, we’re talking about non-white voters. Right now they’re telling pollsters that they’re likely to vote in unprecedented numbers. But that just hasn’t been the history. They need those folks to show up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nate, let’s educate voters a little bit on probability because we’re all trying to learn the lessons of 2016, I think. Going into the 2016 election your forecast was actually lower than many others on predicting whether Hillary Clinton would win, about 71 percent. We learned that that wasn’t a sure thing. Here you’re up about 85 percent for the Democrats taking the House, so just explain -- break down statistically what that means.
SILVER: So what our forecast accounts for is the chance that polls will be wrong. And you see how big of a lead a party has and how much uncertainty there is the forecast. The range of outcomes in the House is really wide. Our range, which covers 80 percent of outcomes, goes from -- on the low end -- about 15 Democratic pickups all the way up to the -- to low to mid 50s, 52 or 53. Most of those are above 23, which is how many seats they would need to take the House. But like -- but no one should be surprised if they only win 19 seats.
And no one should be surprised if they -- if they win 51 seats. Those are both extremely possible based on how accurate polls are in the real world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the big X factors you’ve written about this year is -- unusually for midterms -- Democrats actually have a huge fundraising advantage in the final days.
SILVER: They have a fundraising advantage and so one thing we don’t know about is there are lots and lots of districts on -- on the board where there are Republican incumbents in seats that are ordinarily safe and they might not have been aware of the fact that you have a Democrat who’s raise twice as much money, their voters are very enthusiastic, they might be turning out voters who don’t normally vote at midterms. So there are a lot of Republicans who will not be sleeping well tonight and tomorrow night.
And that’s why if Democrats beat their polls -- that can happen, it happened in Virginia in the governor’s race last year -- then we’re talking about really big numbers. So both ends of that range, the Republicans holding the House and the D landslide, if you will. I mean, that’s as good as we can do based on how accurate polls are in the real world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let’s broaden out the conversation a little bit. One of the other unusual things about this election is the ferocity of President Trump’s campaigning, both in volume and what he’s talking about in the final days. Here’s a little bit of what he’s done in the last three days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans want strong borders, no drugs, no gangs and we want no caravans, thank you.
Democrats are openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our sovereignty, overrun our borders and destroy our nation.
There’s some bad people, as I said the other-- they’re bad hombres. There’s some bad hombres in that group.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chief White House correspondent Jon Karl here with me. The president every single day for the last week has done everything he can to put the focus on the border.
JON KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: George, with a president presiding over an economy as good as this one, you would expect there to be almost a morning in America message, stay the course, the economy’s booming, let’s keep with this. But instead it is midnight in America in Trump’s campaign rallies. He is counting on fear and loathing to rally his base. It is a gamble. The gamble here is that they need to get Republicans as energized as clearly the Democrats have been. And largely they’ve done it. You see it in the intensity in our polls.
80 percent of both sides are saying that they’re definitely going to vote. So you see that’s worked. But the gamble here is is he alienating those independent and moderate voters in the suburban districts where the battleground for the House will be -- will be fought. It’s a serious risk. They’ve gotten their base as energized as they’ve ever been. Going to those rallies, I’m telling you, you see Trump supporters as energized as they were in 2016 but they are alienating a lot of moderates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though, Cecilia Vega, that argument many times at odds with the facts.
CECILIA VEGA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Completely, in fact we’ve seen not just a campaign in the last two, three weeks based on fear mongering but on misinformation and completely spreading falsehoods.
I’m struck by our poll, the number on immigration, how it ranks in terms of important issues for people. Six out of seven issues, that hasn’t changed despite President Trump’s repeated hammering on this issue.
So it really has the potential to backfire.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha Raddatz, one of the things the president hasn’t been deterred by is sort of a push back from the military. Now 15,000 troops heading to the border, the cost could be up to $200 million by the end of the year.
General Mattis is going along with it, not so much former leaders.
MARTHA RADDATZ, CO-ANCHOR, “THIS WEEK”: Definitely not some former leaders, including the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey who tries to stay out of politics, couldn’t help himself this week, tweeting ‘our men and women in uniform are better trained, better equipped and better led so they meet any threat with confidence, but a wasteful deployment of overstretched soldiers and marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportional to the threat they face,’ they won’t.
I think that was kind of a look guys, don’t – don’t pull your guns out if people are throwing rocks. We heard President Trump talk about that, if there are rock throwers coming at them, they will be seen as firearms.
He did back off of that and I have to think someone like Secretary Mattis got to him, those troops will not follow any kind of illegal order, disproportionate force, plus they’re back there with concertina wire.
And that just – just as Jon and Cecilia are saying, and you were saying as well, it’s those images. He is appealing to that base. He’s got soldiers down there, the military and helmets and – and body armor and concertina wire, those are the images that his base will see and he thinks the migrants as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s bring in Chris Christie, Republican, former governor of New Jersey, Trump ally as well. Address the – the argument that Jon Karl was making there. Is it wise to be focusing on this when you’ve got an economy going gangbusters?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Well I think two things, I think one there – you see that there’s some real division on the who gets credit for the economy amongst some voters.
But secondly, George, I think they’ve made a strategic decision, which is the House is much more difficult for them than the Senate. They have a bunch of red state Democrats who they want to try to get out of the Senate.
And I think what you’re seeing with the president is he’s made a strategic decision that his ability to claim victory on election night will be by adding seats in the United States Senate.
And he doesn’t want to take the risk of looking like he’s doing – trying too hard in the House, because then he may get blamed for losing there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You started out saying they, but this is really being driven by him, isn’t it?
CHRISTIE: Well, George, as I’ve said to you many times over the last nine, 10 months, he is his own strategist and he does not listen to other people generally in terms of political strategy.
And you see this from getting involved in Republican primaries early on this year, which you very, very rarely would see presidents do. He’s gotten involved in many of them, and a lot of the candidates that we have on the ballot today are because of the president’s direct intervention.
So he is his own strategist, so when I say they I’m using the royal –
STEPHANOPOULOS: The royal they. Donna Brazile, one of the things we’re seeing, picking up on what Chris was saying about the Senate strategy, are Democrat Senate candidate – candidates like Claire McCaskill kind of aligning themselves with the president on this immigration issue.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND FORMER CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There’s no question that she is facing an uphill battle is Missouri, a state that Donald Trump claimed.
But you know, George, if Democrats win on Tuesday, it’s because they are campaigning on hope, they are focusing on the – on healthcare, and they are also trying to overcome the odds in these midterm elections by trying to fuel independents and millennials to come to – come to the polls.
We see an increase in what we call infrequent voters who are now more engaged, they are more positive about voting, that’s a plus sign for Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But are – you know, that’s – that’s the hope with the early vote for Democrats, Matthew Dowd, but one of the things we saw back in 2016 is that those voters didn’t come out, particularly Latino voters didn’t vote in – in higher numbers despite the president’s rhetoric on immigration.
MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Well I think this election, like the Trump – like the – President Trump’s presidency has a whole unique batch of characteristics in – as we go into mid – the midterm.
Our poll – just to touch again on our poll, our poll actually looks a lot like 2006. In – in 2006, the ABC poll said Democrats had a six point advantage, they won by eight points. George Bush’s job approval rating was almost exactly where Donald Trump’s is today.
But there’s unique circumstances, we’ve never had a president go into an election with an economy like this with a job approval in the low 40s. We’ve never had that before, and we’ve never had an election where both sides have been motivated.
Almost always one side is more motivated than the other side.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to – I want to pick up that, I’m bringing this to Jon Karl as well, because I remember 1994 very well. President Clinton did not go out and campaign a lot in the final days.
The Democratic base was depressed. This is what’s different about this election this time around, in an off year election, Republicans are engaged. They’re not looking like they’re going to stay home.
KARL: No, and if you go back -- if you go back pre-Kavanaugh, there was real concern among Republicans that they were just not as energized. And the idea, driven by the president but also by some of his political advisors, is you had to find a way to get the base that turned out in 2016 riled up and fired up to vote this time. So the president’s thrown himself right into this, I mean, he is out there non-stop.
But George, to the point about the House, he’s not even touching any of the areas with -- with -- with the comparative House districts …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Because they don’t want him there.
KARL: … No. They -- they don’t want him there. He’s not going there. He’s campaigning solely in the final stretch in states that he won, campaigning in the areas of those states where he is popular.
CHRISTIE: George, let me just say this; I think if we’re looking forward to Tuesday night, two places to look, that’s what kind of night it’s going to be, is the Florida Senate race and the Wisconsin governor’s race. In the Florida Senate race you have the two-term governor against a long-term incumbent Bill Nelson against Rick Scott. And in Wisconsin you have a very close governor’s race, Scott Walker looking for a third term -- the fourth time he’s run in eight years. It’s going to tell us a lot about voters, how they feel about politicians.
And in those states that were so key to the presidential election, we’re going to see what happens there in terms of that Republican intensity you’re talking about. If Scott and Walker win then I think it’s going to be a decent night for Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are too different.
But Matthew Dowd, you make a -- you -- you’ve been talking about the fact that we haven’t been paying enough attention to the governors’ races now, huge potential that there are many flips to Democrats on -- on -- on the governors’ races and that could have a much higher long-term impact.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I -- I mean, obviously, we’re all -- everyone in America’s concerned about who’s going to hold the House, who’s going to hold the Senate. But really fundamentally, when you look at politics going forward as we have in the last 20 or 30 years, it’s the governors’ races and it’s the governors’ races in purple states.
To me, it’s the governor -- it’s where Republicans have held the office, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, there is a real high chance they lose in all of those places. And when they lose in those places, it not only affects what happens today, it not only affects what may happen in -- in the 2020 presidential -- it affects redistricting which then they then draw the districts, which then goes forward. So to me is -- yes, we have two big things to watch, the House and the Senate -- but for me, what’s going to really impact what’s going to really impact what’s going forward is those governors’ races in purple states.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and not only in purple states, Donna Brazile, but would everybody look at the possibility of having the first African American governors of Florida and Georgia?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND FORMER CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: George, it’s -- it’s going to be a historic night. In addition to Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams of course, Ben Jealous in -- in the great State of Maryland, the African American lieutenant governor candidates in several states including Wisconsin as well as Illinois, 42 percent of all of the Democratic nominees this fall gubernatorial, Senatorial as well as House candidates are women, so a Democratic wave depend on women coming out to vote, minorities and other infrequent voters.
CHRISTIE: And George, I was RGA chairman four years at the midterm the map has been …
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said Republican Governors Association.
CHRISTIE: ... Yes, Republican Governors Association -- as bad as the map is for Democrats on the Senate side, it’s that bad for Republicans on the governors side, of the 36 governors races, 26 are Republican defenses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and -- and you, of course, you were a governor. Explain what that means in a presidential year to have a governor from your state in charge.
CHRISTIE: It’s -- it’s -- you control the political apparatus in your state. You control who’s counting the votes, most of the time who is the secretary of state or the chief election officer. And going forward from there, you control redistricting after the census or at least have a very large influence over it.
So as Matthew very aptly put, it’s not only what happens tomorrow, it’s what’s going to happen in 2021 and 2022 on redistricting these House seats, which will have a huge difference. That’s been the Republicans’ huge advantage, ’09 and ’10, set the stage for a Republican decade.
DOWD: And -- and keep in mind that the president is the president today because he won three states in those purple states in the Midwest by less than 100,000 votes. And the likelihood that each of those has a -- ether a small blue wave or a large blue wave is very high. Pennsylvania Republicans have no chance, Michigan it looks like the Democrat’s going to win the governor’s race and Wisconsin is a race that’s very tight but the -- it leans in the Democratic favor, that’s where the president won the presidency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha Raddatz -- Matt Dowd just talked about Pennsylvania. You spent a lot of time with voters there in the State of Pennsylvania. That is one of the places where Democrats are hoping to pick up a -- a raft of House seats.
RADDATZ: Exactly. And when -- when you talk to voters in Pennsylvania, especially in those suburbs and some of those who voted for Donald Trump, he has just gone too far for many of them. There -- there is -- they’re -- he’s too divisive for them. For them, Donald Trump is absolutely the issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s the issue. And we’re likely to see changes also very changing faces, Cecilia Vega, in Congress no matter what happens on Tuesday night, record number of women running for the House.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Record number of women, record number of LGBT candidates -- LGBTQ candidates, Donna just mentioned the record number of African Americans running. But I -- I do want to say, the -- we can focus on the president’s travel in the last few weeks and that tells us a lot about where he’s looking, just to go back to Matthew’s comments on Florida. He’s headed to Florida twice in the last week. He is very concerned about having to win that state, not just for now, but for 2020 also.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everybody stand by, we’re going to be back. But coming up next, party leaders are going to make their closing arguments. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and the chair of the Democrat Senate Campaign, Senator Chris Van Hollen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They will try to erase our gains and eradicate our progress, that's what's going to happen. They're going to work hard and we will be fighting. It will be -- it will be ridiculous, frankly, it will be bad for our country. The Democrats. And it could happen. It could happen. We're doing very well and we're doing really well in the senate. But it could happen.
And you know what you do? My whole life. You know what I say, don't worry about it. I'll just figure it out. Does that make sense? I'll just figure it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump in West Virginia this week.
Joined now by the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel. Ronna, thank you for joining us this morning.
Unusually, a subdued president there, almost resigned, it seems, to losing the House. Are you?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Absolutely not, especially with the economic numbers that we saw on Friday with 250,000 jobs added to the economy, with wages over 3 percent for the first time in a decade. I mean, the American voters are looking at what's happened over the past two years. They're making more money. More jobs are coming back. That is a great closing argument in a lot of these Houses races that are within the margin of error.
And they're going to say Republicans have offered a record of results and Democrats are offering resistance and going back. I think it’s pretty clear.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say -- you say it's a great closing argument. How come the president is not making it?
MCDANIEL: He is. He's talking about many different things that he's accomplished as president, because the list is so long. I think he's highlighting the fact that we need immigration reform. Democrats aren't coming to the table on that, strengthening our military, taking care of our veterans, taking on the opioid crisis. The national security issues that he's taken on, North Korea, Iran, Syria, all the things that he's accomplished in these first two years.
But the economy is a driving force with the tax cuts and the deregulation. People's lives are better. They're taking home more money to spend on their families and that is a very compelling argument for many of these voters across the country who are looking at who they want to keep in the majority, and Republicans are the party that's delivered.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you want -- you want voters focused on the economy on Tuesday. The president every single day over the last week has talked about immigration, talking about sending troops, talking about the migrant caravan, talking about birthright citizenship, even tweeting out that ad -- we're not going to play the whole ad, but we're going to show that ad the president put out about illegal immigration, showing that illegal immigrant who committed murder, blaming that on Democrats. That has caused even some Republicans to react.
John Kasich, Republican Governor of Ohio, tweeted out, "the politics of fear, hatred and division should have no place in our country or the Republican Party, let alone the presidency. All Americans should reject this ad and its motives." Do you?
MCDANIEL: Well, I think the president is highlighting a failure in our immigration system, that this disgusting person got into our country twice under a Democrat and a Republican president and was able to kill police.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He blamed it only on Democrats.
MCDANIEL: We don't want that in our immigration system.
Obviously, we recognize that we have a broken immigration policy right now in this country with these caravans coming towards our country, with 12,000 kids that have come unaccompanied, that are coming on their own, because their parents so desperately want to get into thiscountry.
I know why they want to get here, our economy is doing great. We have a lot of jobs. And the president has said, let's get merit-based immigration. Let's focus on eliminating the visa lottery system, something that Canada doesn't do, and let's strengthen our border. And Democrats, again, won't come to the table on an important issue, like immigration. They didn't come to the table on these tax cuts. They didn't come to the table with this president on anything, because they have refused to work with him. And he's closing with the argument of we're the party of results and they're the party of resistance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's division in the Republican Party, of course, on immigration as well. But you're not concerned about the -- the possibility, as we were talking about just earlier in the program, that the president's focused on immigration, the ads like that are going to cause a backlash in the suburban districts you need to hold, in order to hold the House?
MCDANIELS: I'm with the president at these rallies. The president’s talking about all of the accomplishments. I think the media’s focused on immigration constantly, and I get that. But he's focusing on the economy, he's talking about the jobs. He's talking about the lowest unemployment in history for the African-American and Hispanic communities and that our country is on a great comeback and the fact that Nancy Pelosi has said she's going to raise taxes.
And the president recognizes the historical trends with the House and the Senate. Usually the party that holds the White House loses three seats in the Senate and 30 seats in the House, and he's doing everything he can to turn out every vote with his exhaustive schedule, but it is a whole variety of issues that he's talking about and accomplishments that he's made as president that have made our country stronger, more prosperous, safer, and has given the American people more jobs, more money and a comeback that frankly a lot of Democrats didn’t think was possible and they certainly didn’t help with.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman McDaniel, you -- you blame the media but it’s the president himself who said he wants the election to be about the caravan.
MCDANIEL: The president has not said he wants it to be just about the caravan. The president’s saying let’s look at the record. Are you better off than you were two years? He’s talking about the economy. It’s just not getting the same coverage. I mean, the economy should be, first and foremost, on a lot of people’s minds as they’re going to the polls. Because remember, President Obama said we’ll never get above 2 percent GDP. And now we’re at 3.5 percent GDP, over 4 percent in some cases.
We’ve seen 4 million people go off of food stamps. We’ve seen 4 million new jobs come to this country. There’s a lot of good things to talk about. The president’s talking about it. He’s talking about a lot of other things. You know, he can walk and chew gum at the same time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Where do the House and Senate stand Wednesday morning?
MCDANIEL: It’s tight, George. It’s tight. It’s going to depend on voter turnout on election day. Democrat enthusiasm is definitely there. We are seeing that in the early voting, in all of these key House and Senate races and Republicans have been matching. So literally election day voting is going to determine the balance of the House. I’d say there’s about 27 seats within the margin of error. Obviously we have had headwinds with 44 retirements and historical trends on the House, but I feel like we can still keep that majority and then the Senate is a better map.
And if we keep the Senate, that will be defying history as well, because usually you lose three seats in that first term of a first term president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ronna McDaniel, thanks very much.
Now we’re going to bring in the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Senator Van Hollen, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard the predictions there from Ronna McDaniel. It is true that your Democratic senators are up against the wall on Tuesday. Are you -- are you confident that you can take the Senate?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Well George, it’s great to be with you. Here’s where we are. We have lots of races within the margin of error, so I’m not going to make any predictions. What I can say is that as you discussed earlier on this program, Senate Democrats really face the toughest political map in 60 years, so it’s remarkable that we’re in as strong a position as we are. And that is a testament to our senators and to our Senate Democratic candidates who are running as candidates who are going to stand up for their states, that their job is to put politics aside, stand up for their states.
Sometimes that means working with President Trump if it’s good for their state and sometimes it means opposing the president if it’s bad for their state, like the president’s effort and Republican effort to take away protections for people with preexisting health conditions, a big issue in all these races.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a big issue in all these races. You have seen, as you said, your Democratic Senator Brian Donnelly in Indiana is advertising about how much he’s supporting President Trump. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota has done the same thing. But seems to be -- especially Heitkamp in North Dakota -- punished for the Kavanaugh nomination, how Democrats handled the Kavanaugh nomination. Any regrets?
VAN HOLLEN: Well first of all, never count Heidi Heitkamp out. In her last election six years ago, she was 10 points down with a week to go. It’s much closer than that in North Dakota. Don’t count her out. The reality is that Heidi Heitkamp did as she always does, what she thought was the best thing for the country. Sometimes that means supporting the president on issues, as she did with the earlier Justice Gorsuch, and sometimes that means opposing the president on these issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about Bob Menendez in New Jersey? It’s a race we haven’t talked too much about. Of course he was indicted, later acquitted on corruption issues. But he -- he does seem to be in a tighter race in New Jersey than you would expect. Are you confident he’s going to pull it out or are you concerned that he may be holding back Democratic House candidates?
VAN HOLLEN: I’m absolutely confident that Bob Menendez will win that race. The people of New Jersey have been very clear. They do not want a rubber stamp for Donald Trump, and that is what Bob Menendez’s opponent has -- has done and will do. And his opponent has spent $30 million of -- of money that he gained as a CEO of -- of a pharmaceutical company where he really gouged on prices for cancer patients. So that’s why you have a competitive race in New Jersey. Obviously there are other issues Bob Menendez has to litigate, but people in New Jersey do not want a Donald Trump rubber stamp.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats hoping they can pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona. One of the big X factors there is will Latinos turn out to vote. Will they?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, they will. And we’re already seeing the early voting results in those states, and you are seeing a good, healthy turnout among Latino voters, as well as younger voters. And you’re seeing a pattern of good turnout for Democrats and independents who are supporting Democratic candidates around the country, George. And again, that issue that has been front and center for the last two years, the Republican efforts to take away important healthcare protections is one that Senate Republican candidates have been running away from their records on. And we’re making sure that people know exactly what they -- they did, which was vote either in the Congress, the Senate, or through lawsuits to take away those protections for people with preexisting conditions.
And I’ll also say that the Republican Senate leader’s comments the other day about the Republican plan to cut Medicare and Social Security gives away their playbook. The debt went way up to $2 trillion as a result of the tax cut for big corporations. Now they want to come back and take it out on people who have Medicare and Social Security.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you prepared for a world Wednesday where Republicans pick up seats in the Senate?
VAN HOLLEN: George, we’re prepared for whatever result we have. But let me just say that the fact that we still have a narrow path to a majority is a sea change from where we were 18 months ago. And as I said, it’s because our candidates have always said they’ll stand up for their states, first and foremost; put aside the politics, do what’s right. And we’re seeing the results here. These are some very close races. And of course, they’re in states that Donald Trump won big. And it’s a testament to these candidates that they’re so focused on what matters to people in their state.
When it comes to healthcare, that is not a top-down issue. It’s not like, you know, President Trump going out there and talking about immigration and trying to divide people. And by the way, we’ve just seen a litany of documented false statements and lies from the president on that issue.
But on the healthcare issue, this is a bottom-up issue. When Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, you found people in rural areas, in rural hospitals say no. You found the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, all these local chapters who have nothing to do with politics, said, “Don’t take away our protections for healthcare.”
And yet Republicans continue to try to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thanks very much.
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBORAH ROBERTS, JOURNALIST, ABC NEWS: You talked about all the votes, what about voter suppression? People are saying that minority votes –
BRIAN KEMP (R), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: Well that’s a – that’s a myth. That is a myth that – that the Democrats bring out every two years. We have record number of people on our voting rolls.
ROBERTS: So what do you say to people who say that you’re trying to suppress the vote? What do you say?
KEMP: I’m not trying to suppress – the numbers don’t lie about that fact. Minority participation is up 23 percent in Georgia, 23 percent. That’s what you should report, and not believe the B.S. about voter suppression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Republican candidate for governor in Georgia Brian Kemp there talking to our Deb Roberts.
I want to bring in our Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas for more on this whole issue of voting rights, voter suppression, and access to the ballot. You just heard Brian Kemp call it a myth there, but we're looking at this issue in several key states.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Georgia is one of them.
There are about 50,000 votes that we have been paying attention to where there's some question as regard to voter registration, how it compares to other government records. There are about 50,000 people, 70 percent of those are African-American, so some people are very concerned about that.
Now, those people should be able to vote on Election Day if they show up with their proper ID. But it will depend on how the polling stations deal with those individual voters, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also got a serious issue in the state of North Dakota.
THOMAS: Exactly, that’s very interesting. In that state, you have to have a-- show a proof ofresidency when you vote. So, many of the Native Americans who live on reservations, they haven't had that -- those type of addresses. So, they've been scrambling in recent weeks trying to get specific addresses so they can show, again, it will depend on how each polling station deals with them when they come in to vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Connected to this issue, the whole issue of ballot security, so many concerns about the possibility of hacking into the election systems this year. Several Senate candidates have said they have been hacked. What's the state of ballot security looking ahead to Tuesday?
THOMAS: There's good news and bad news. Here's the good news, we're not seeing the level of Russian activity that we saw in 2016. Certainly nothing on the scale of hacking the DNC or the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
But you still see, according to some sources, the Russians trying to affect the campaign throughsocial media, putting out bad information, trying to sow seeds of division among Americans about issues of race, immigration and things like that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the big social media companies, like Facebook, still haven't quite figured out how to deal with it.
THOMAS: They say they're trying harder. The issue of finding these accounts which are pushing out this information. Facebook, in fact, talked about how they set up a war room. They have got about 20,000 employees that they said are working on this. Twitter said they have identified thousands of people, thousands of accounts in which people were trying to sow disinformation, they have taken down those accounts. We're talking millions of these accounts, so it's an ongoing threat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you'll be tracking these issues all through the night Tuesday. Pierre Thomas, thanks very much.
What happens the day after election day? Mary Bruce joins us from Capitol Hill and how Democrats plan to take on Trump if they win the House. We'll be right back with that and our roundtable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nate Silver, super model right there, for FiveThirtyEight.
I want to talk now about the day after the election. I want to bring in our Chief Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce for more on this. We don't know what is going to happen Tuesday night, Mary, but Democrats hopeful they'll take control of the House.
Talk about their plans if that happens.
MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, if Democrats do take the House, they are going to put the Trump administration under an intense microscope. They are likely to launch investigations into everything from conflicts of interests to the president's tax returns and of course the issue of Russian collusion.
Democrats feel that this administration has been able to act unchecked, and that is likely to come to a screeching halt.
But there is a political risk here for Democrats. They're going to have to show that they can legislate, not just investigate. So, first up, expect them to pass something to address the issue of corruption in government. Democrats are well aware that Americans are fed up with Washington. And they're going to want to send a message that there's a new sheriff here in town.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Republicans hold the House?
BRUCE: If Republicans hold the House then, George, you're going to see more of the same. Congress will continue to act in the way that they have.
But there is no big push, no big rush of legislation at the ready; no immigration bill, no big tax plan standing in the wing here. While Republicans are running on these issues, there is no big legislative push right now, here to back all of that up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And on the Republican side, if the Republicans hold the House, likely to see a pretty serious fight for leader, to be speaker of the House.
BRUCE: Yeah, absolutely. Paul Ryan, of course, has already said that he is out. You are then going to see a huge fight to replace Paul Ryan, lots of names being floated; Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise. And of course some of those on the far-right of the caucus, like Jim Jordan, those from the Freedom Caucus. A lot of names here that are going to be fighting to be Speaker of the House if Republicans do take the House.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Democrats take the House, no guarantee that Nancy Pelosi will be the House Speaker.
BRUCE: No, George. Look, whether or not Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker will depend in large part upon the size of any Democratic majority and the makeup of a Democratic caucus. Lots of Democratic candidates have already said that they will not support Pelosi. And you’re going to see, likely, a lot of calls for some new blood in Democratic leadership. That said, Pelosi has a lot of experience, she knows how to pass bills, and she certainly will know how to wrangle a diverse caucus as they launch all of these investigations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mary Bruce, thanks very much. Back here with our analysts, I want to get to what we’re watching on Tuesday night. But first, I want to do a couple questions for Donna and Chris. Donna, first, on that question I just posed to Mary Bruce. What – what – how big a margin do the Democrats need for Nancy Pelosi to be guaranteed that she’ll be the Speaker?
BRAZILE: First of all, Nancy Pelosi’s probably one of the best whip counters in the Democratic caucus. So I wouldn’t throw her under the bus right now because she knows how to win, she’s raised over $130 million for Democrats across the country. One of the reasons why we have a diverse lineup of candidates is because Nancy Pelosi went out there and encouraged those candidates to run.
So I see Nancy Pelosi – I mean, she’s going to fight like hell. There is a call for new blood, more people in the leadership. And just remember, George, 15 percent to 25 percent of those newly elected Democrats, they will look for someone who can carry the mantle for them in 2020 and beyond.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Chris, for the White House, a House with subpoena power is a brand-new ball game.
CHRISTIE: Oh, yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the White House braced for that, are they ready for it, are they prepared?
CHRISTIE: Well, they’re getting a new White House counsel who should be in place in time for January. And if it’s a Democratic House, it’s very well it could be their main job is going to be to be a subpoena processor over at the White House. And I think Mary was right, though, that there is real political risk in that as well. We saw that happen with the Republican House and Bill Clinton in the ‘90s.
You go too aggressive in that regard, it can be a backlash against those people. So that’s what I think, and by the way, every dollar I have in my pocket, if they win the House, Nancy Pelosi’s going to be Speaker. Sharpest elbows, best counter, she is going to be the Speaker. Everything else is pretend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are all going to be here on Tuesday night, want to get everybody’s take on what they’re going to be watching for. Martha, let me start with you. What’s the big thing you’re going to be watching Tuesday night?
RADDATZ: Well, I think I’m even going beyond Tuesday night. I think one of the things we’ve watched Tuesday night is not whether the Democrats gain control of the House but it’s also how people campaign, and what this has meant about these incendiary ads. That’s a lesson that everybody will learn going forward, not just to 2020, but beyond. Is this the kind of fear-mongering that works? If it does, you’ll see a lot more of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl?
KARL: I’m going to be watching Pennsylvania. Polls close at 8 o’clock so we’ll see relatively early. Trump won the state by 44,000 votes. It was a key reason that he is president and the Republicans could lose up to eight seats in the state of Pennsylvania. They’re almost certain to lose two because of redistricting. How they do between that margin, I think, will determine largely where we go in the rest of the midterms.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On the House?
VEGA: I’ve got my eyes on the suburbs all around this country, looking at places like the seventh congressional district in Virginia where you’ve got a female newcomer, Abigail Spanberger running and– looking to unseat a third-term Republican there. Will there be a so-called ‘Pink Wave’ with someone like this ushering out a Trump supporter in a – in a Trump district? We will see.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd?
DOWD: I’m watching independents. And that’s going to determine who wins this and all of the races across the country. It’s why Donald Trump’s President of the United States. And a specific race that I think people should be aware of is the Beto O’Rourke-Ted Cruz race in Texas. That race is a lot closer than people think and I talked to a number of Republicans over the last 48 hours. They’re very concerned, the first time they’ve been concerned that they could possibly lose a statewide race in Texas in 20 years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, this gives us an opportunity to talk about the early vote. Just saw this come in overnight. Already, more people have voted in the state of Texas – what, we’re two days out from the vote, than voted in the entire 2014…
DOWD: Entire 2014. And they’re thinking that there’s going to be more than 7 million people vote in this election in Texas, which is almost a presidential year election return. And most of the growth in those – is new people, young people, and Latinos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Beto O’Rourke wins in Texas, he’s automatically near the top of the pack for 2020.
DOWD: He’s already a rockstar, he becomes the biggest rockstar in the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna Brazile?
BRAZILE: Of course, I’m looking at the Oprah effect. I’m watching Georgia, it’s on my mind. As a daughter of the South, I’m very proud of Stacey Abrams, the kind of campaign that she’s run..
She’s finishing up her campaign on education. I want to see her win, I want to see her win decisively and I’m also watching the other states as well, including Florida.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s another – there’s another race in Georgia though, if – if Stacey Abrams does well, first of all we should that if neither she nor Brian Kemp get 50 percent there’s a run off in the state of Georgia.
Secondly, does she have the strength to carry in Lucy McBath, another key Senate race?
BRAZILE: I think so –
STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean House race.
BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely, look she has done something that I think Democrats should have done a long time ago. That is she’s expanded the electorate, she has campaigned in rural areas like Doug Wilder who won back in 1989.
Stacey Abrams understood that in order to win, you had to bring a new energy in the party, and she’s done that.
CHRISTIE: Florida and Wisconsin, as I said before, are going to be key to watch. And who’s had a good night and a bad night from the parties. If you see the Oklahoma governorship go to the Democrats, it’s going to be a very bad night for Republicans.
If you see the United States Senate seat in New Jersey go to the Republicans, it’s going to be a very bad night for Senate Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Nate Silver, you’re going to be adjusting your forecast all through the evening as we get real results coming in. Give us a sense of what you’re going to be keeping an eye on early in the night.
NATE SILVER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: So to me, you have a two part election, you have the north and the south. We expect that Democrats are going to gain a lot of seats here in the Northeast, in Pennsylvania for example we expect they’ll do very well in governorships in the – in the Midwest.
If they’re going to have a really good night, where it’ll really put the Senate in play, they’re going to have to win places in the South, they’re going to have to win Tennessee or Texas, at least one of those, probably they’re going to have to hold in Florida.
They’re going to have to put these suburban Atlanta districts in play in the House. That’s when you get a margin that might win 35 or 40, and where the Senate might actually get interesting, it might be because of a race like Texas.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rick Klein, you’re going to be behind the scenes on – on Tuesday night, and we’ve all are trying to learn the lessons of the last couple of elections as we forecast on Tuesday night, as we cover the races on Tuesday.
We’ve had some bad exit polls, the 2004 election, 2016 as well. Talk about how we’re going to communicate with voters last-- during the night and – and with our decision desk.
RICK KLEIN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, ABC NEWS: We don’t know what we don’t know, and we’re going to be as transparent as possible about why we’re not comfortable in a particular race.
We’re going to provide information throughout the night about where vote is still outstanding, where things look, relying on everyone here on this set and beyond to try to convey the true uncertainty of an unprecedented election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, you’ve said several times we have to be prepared to be surprised on Tuesday.
KARL: Yeah, I will be surprised if I’m not surprised, George. And I could see getting to – to Nate’s range of events, I could see us being surprised by a much bigger blue wave than – than we’ve anticipated.
I could – I would also not be surprised if we see the Republicans do surprisingly well. I mean we just don’t know, it’s so much harder to poll in – in a midterm election, it’s so much harder to poll in these House races.
We just don’t know. And intensity is so high, that also adds to the uncertainty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it is also why it is going to be so exciting --
KARL: Yes, it’s going to be a great night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- on – on Tuesday night. We’re looking forward to having all of you here with us on Tuesday night, looking forward to talking to all of you as well. That is all for us today.
Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. We’re all going to be back here as I said on Tuesday night, I’ll be anchoring our midterm election special, analysis from our whole political team.
We are going to have reporters all across the country in the key states all through the night until we have a result. It starts at 8:00 Eastern and I’ll see you tomorrow on “GMA”.
Toyota recalls 280,000 pickups and SUVs because transmissions can deliver power even when in neutral
- Feb 21, 6:34 PM
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events