'This Week' Transcript 9-6-20: Chuck Hagel, Gov. Mike DeWine, Rep. Val Demings

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, September 6.

ByABC News
September 6, 2020, 9:12 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, September 6, 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.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're returning power to you, the American people.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike the current president, I won't let you down.


RADDATZ: Less than 60 days to Election Day, the country in the throes of crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We broke no laws!


RADDATZ: As Trump faces explosive allegations, accused of disparaging America's fallen heroes.


TRUMP: It's a hoax. And you will hear more and more of these things as we get closer and closer to election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really worried that he's going to put men and women needlessly in harm's way .


RADDATZ: This morning, former Defense Secretary and combat veteran Chuck Hagel responds.

And how are voters reacting to it all? We will bring you thoughts from voters across the country, from Pennsylvania, Ohio, back here to Colorado.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering if the people are angry enough to make their voice heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neither side has me convinced that I am voting for something that I like right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will vote for you, but just do the right thing.


RADDATZ: This morning, we talk to two leaders in battleground states, Florida Representative Val Demings and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, plus insight and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, this is a special edition of "This Week" live from Boulder, Colorado.

Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

We join you this morning from Boulder Colorado, after spending the week on a cross-country road trip, speaking with voters across the nation.

The background to this election, a global pandemic, a struggling economy, and massive unrest amidst calls for change.

Overnight in Portland, dramatic images of firebombs thrown at officers, in Rochester, continuing demonstrations after the death of Daniel Prude in police custody.

And a different uproar this morning, the president facing allegations he disparaged fallen soldiers, calling them suckers and losers.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will join me to respond in a moment.

We begin, though, with the voice of the voter.

For months, COVID has made it nearly impossible for us to travel the country. But, this last week, we were determined to safely drive across America to see close up what's behind the polls in this ever-tightening race.

We begin in the state that arguably handed Donald Trump his 2016 victory, but now has Joe Biden with a narrow lead.


RADDATZ (voice-over): It has been a 2,200-mile journey through America's cities and towns, some abandoned from the COVID outbreak, some far too crowded for safety, others bearing the scars of racial injustice and the fallout.

But everywhere we went, the presidential election loomed, from the suburbs with manicured lawns sprouting political preferences, to the heartland, where even massive wind turbines and endless fields were dominated by politics, which is why we began our journey in the battleground state of Pennsylvania law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Joe Schuler (ph). I'm a fourth-generation sheet metal worker.

RADDATZ: And an ardent Biden supporter.

Donald Trump just lacks empathy. Joe Biden has seen tragedy in his life. So, I think he has the empathy this country needs right now.

RADDATZ: And it's personal. The once friendly policy talks with neighbors have ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of anger, screaming and yelling. It's very hard to get down to the nuts and bolts of things.

RADDATZ: As the country grapples with this contentious election, the reckoning on race is front and center.

President Trump has cast himself as the law and order candidate, a message that Trump's base embraces.

(on camera): What do you think of Biden?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't trust him.

RADDATZ (voice-over): For these lifelong Hamilton, Ohio, residents. Trump's word is gospel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he almost walks on water.

RADDATZ: Mary Rose Durbin (ph) says Trump is an imperfect man, but a perfect president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they couldn't buy him and they can't control him. Every promise that he made in 2016, that he has followed through on or tried to.

RADDATZ: And she will not be convinced otherwise, even on Trump's low support from African-Americans, just 11 percent.

(on camera): Why do you think there's not more support for him in the African-American community?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, honey, I think there's a lot more support for him in the African-American community than the media is giving credit for. And I think, in November, it's going to show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is speaking to his avid followers. He's not speaking to me and he's not speaking for me.

RADDATZ: Democrat Alicia Triggs (ph) is in a voter in the suburbs of Cincinnati, alienated by Trump's rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn’t reflect my views at all.

RADDATZ: From the BuckeyeState we headed towards the Gateway of the West, St. Louis, that iconic arch greeting us the next morning against an overcast sky.

In nearby Ferguson, Missouri, a city of flame after the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 --

CATHY JENKINS, OWNER OF CATHY’S KITCHEN: That was a new business --

RADDATZ: Cathy Jenkins’ restaurant was nearly shut down.

JENKINS: My numbers had dropped so low, I always say, I almost felt like I was under water breathing through a straw.

RADDATZ: After those protests, Jenkins, a Biden supporter, started a successful delivery service. But is counting on things getting better.

JENKINS: It's not just about making money. But it’s about caring and changing lives.

RADDATZ: But those bread and butter issues are vital in this election.

No matter where you go across America, no matter who you talk to, one of the biggest issues is the economy. And jobs.

The pandemic also hitting Benjamin Brown's bottom line.

BENJAMIN BROWN, CO-OWNER OF SATCHMO’S: We started off the year about 17% up over the best year that we have and then all of the sudden you start hearing these reports about this virus that's coming in.

RADDATZ: Did you have to lay off employees?

BROWN: We did.

RADDATZ: And while Trump's response to the crisis has been fiercely criticized, the president still has Brown's vote.

Back on the open road, another some 200 miles under a picture-perfect Missouri sky --

MICHAEL BILLINGS, CO-OWNER BUFFALO RIDGE: We're kind of changing our business model.

RADDATZ: -- for a meeting with a local rancher.

The heartland is considered Trump country. But Michael Billings is the exception. He’s the owner of this 300-acre bison ranch.

What has COVID done to your business?

BILLINGS: Some of the effects of COVID have essentially shut us down. If we can't get our animals to the market we can't sell product.

RADDATZ: Billings who did not vote for Trump in 2016 is putting his support behind Biden.

How do you deal with your neighbors who are Trump supporters? Do you talk about it? Do you --

BILLINGS: The climate of the nation is such that I wouldn't be surprised if I put up a sign and then my fence is cut and my buffalo are out.

RADDATZ: But not everyone has made up their mind. Farmer Robert Hazelton (ph) and his nephew Ryan Johnson (ph) both voted Independent in 2016 and are still undecided this time.

Will the debates make a difference, do you think?


RADDATZ: Would -- did the Republican National Convention speech make a difference?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't even listen to it.

RADDATZ: Hazelton says he likes Trump support of farmers, but doesn't like some of the way Trump does things. And Ryan --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’ve never voted for a Democrat at the top of the ticket. I haven't ruled it out this time.

RADDATZ: The final leg of our journey, nearly eight hours, from the cornfields in Kansas to the mountains of Colorado.

Colorado is a classic battleground state, a purple state. There are extremists on the left, extremists on the right, and everything in between.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These last four years have been really tough, particularly for the Latino community. We’ve been antagonized by this administration.

RADDATZ: Salvador Hernandez (ph) helps the Latino community of Colorado engage in the political process and says Joe Biden could be doing more to reach that key demographic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I currently don't know like what his platform is going to be, other than I’m better than Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Soon after we arrived in Denver, this bombshell headline alleging Trump called fallen American soldiers suckers and losers. An acquisition the president has forcefully denied.

Tell me what your reaction was when you read that article about the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It broke my heart.

RADDATZ: Charlie Demingus (ph) is a Vietnam War veteran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not losers. We’re not suckers. He’s -- the government sent us over there. We didn’t say send me, send me to the war. The government sent us to go fight for this country.

RADDATZ: But others we spoke to, like veteran Nick Gray (ph), are more skeptical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My immediate reaction was, what is this? This doesn't make a lot of sense. And each allegation was supported by anonymous sources.

RADDATZ: So you simply don't believe the article?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

RADDATZ: As for how Gray measures the president --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The actions. And what are the actions of the president? What has he done for the military? But also for the veterans as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tweets a lot, he says a lot and gets all about going after certain voting bloc. It's not what he really feels.

And so, when you take it back to national security, I’m really worried that he's going to put men and women needlessly in harm's way.

RADDATZ: Veteran Drew Sloan (ph), a West Point graduate who was severely wounded in Afghanistan, served in Iraq as well.

When you first saw it, did it surprise you? Did it make you angry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't surprise me. You can see what he said about Senator McCain from the very start. I think that’s (ph) someone who respects the military vote but that's not the same thing as respecting the military.


RADDATZ: And joining me now with a response to the president’s alleged remarks, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, secretary of defense under President Obama, and a combat veteran himself.

Good morning, Secretary Hagel.

You just heard those veterans I talked to here in Colorado. You are a veteran of Vietnam yourself. What's your reaction to the article?

CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, thanks, Martha. And I’m glad you're doing a segment on this story.

Well, my reaction is, if these comments are real, and I’ll address that in a second, but if they're real, it's beneath the dignity of any commander in chief, truly they're despicable.

Now, one of the points that one of the veterans made which was a good point, these are anonymous sources. But let's go back to the words from Trump himself, coming out of his own mouth, starting in 2016 about what he said about John McCain and what he continued to say about McCain.

How he degraded the service of Generals Mattis and McMaster, and just recently, General Kelly, the history of this president over the last three, fours years is pretty clear. The 2018 experience when he did not go to the American military cemetery in France, to recognize and honor the World War I Marines, every other leader went, every other leader drove, leaders of Germany, France, Canada. And you can go through a litany of past things that he said from his mouth, actions that he's taken, and it corroborates really the Goldberg article in "The Atlantic”.

RADDATZ: How much do you believe this will resonate with the military really?

HAGEL: Well, I think it will resonate, because what I’ve just said, he's on the record with saying things himself over the past few years. And that -- that makes the credibility of this article and those anonymous comments more and more credible.

Now, I said before, if you want to make an anonymous comment and if you feel so strongly about that that you make that comment to an established, well-respected reporter and a magazine, then you ought to have the courage to go out and use your name, too. I’ve always believed that. I think it’s important now. If these guys who said it or allegedly said it, think it’s that important for the future of this country, then they should show some courage and step forward as well.

RADDATZ: I have to say, one of the veterans I talked to who didn't believe it because of the anonymous sources, I asked if someone appeared who have provided information in that article and said it on the record in front of a camera, and he said, I’m not sure I'd still believe it. But we know President Trump has furiously denied this.

HAGEL: Well, I think there are those, and I understand this business as you do pretty well, who will never believe it, no matter what is said, no matter who says it, and that's just the reality of politics and freedom of expression, and we have great country where you can believe what you want to believe.

But facts are facts, Martha. And the reality of those facts are pretty clear. I think it’s a pretty clear indictment of this president's attitude towards our veterans.

He'll use them. Of course, he’s used them in the last three and a half years as props in his actions, in his statements. No president has ever done that -- use your veterans, use your active military as props.

I mean, couple of months ago, he sends an airborne division into Washington, camps them outside of Washington, the mayor didn’t ask for that. The police chief didn't ask for that in Washington, D.C.

But it's a continuation of the same actions and words we have seen from this president the last three and a half years.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Secretary Hagel. Good to see you.

HAGEL: Thanks, Martha

RADDATZ: Republican Governor Mike DeWine, from battleground Ohio, joins us now. Ohio was one of the states we traveled through this week.

Good to see you this morning, Governor.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Good to see you, Martha. Thank you.

RADDATZ: I want your reaction to the article. Do you believe those are things President Trump could have said?

DEWINE: Well, Martha, I -- I read the article. But, you know, any time I've been with the president, there's ever been any discussion about the military, he has been extremely respectful, what you would expect of the president. So, you know, that's -- that's been my personal experience.

RADDATZ: But, you know, Jeffrey Goldberg is a very respected reporter. Jennifer Griffin from Fox News also said she had confirmed parts of the article.

So how does that resonate with you?

DEWINE: Well, these are certainly respected journalists. But, you know, I'm kind of -- like my friend Chuck Hagel, Chuck and I served in the Senate together and, you know, one of the things he just said in your interview was, you know, people should come forward if they, you know, anonymous sources are -- are interesting, but, you know, it's never going to have the credibility, I think, for the general public unless someone -- you know, people actually come forward and are willing to do that.

But, again, my experience with the president has been, he's been extremely respectful, exactly what you would respect a president in regard to any reference, any conversation, you know, in -- in regard to the military. You know, he's come into Ohio at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

RADDATZ: Well, Governor, you certainly --

DEWINE: He was here. We've had discussions about, you know, the military.

RADDATZ: Governor -- Governor, I -- Governor, I want to stop you for a second because you know what he said about John McCain in the past.

DEWINE: Sure. Look, I don't agree with that.

RADDATZ: So, does that change your mind at all?

DEWINE: John McCain was a friend. John McCain, I have great respect for. He was a dear, dear personal friend of mine.

RADDATZ: OK, you heard the voices in that piece, veterans upset who do believe it. There are more than 19 million veterans in this country today. They accounted for 13 percent of the voters in 2016 according to exit polling. Sixty percent voted for Trump at the time. Thirty-four percent for Hillary Clinton.

Could this make a difference in the race. And, again, I reference those voters who say, yes, I believe he could have said those things.

DEWINE: Well, I don't know, Martha, I really don't know. I mean, you know, we're into the campaign. You know, a lot of things come out in a campaign. And I think sometimes people, when -- when they only come out during a campaign, you know, people are somewhat skeptical about them. This is -- you know, we're into the 60 days. And so I don't know what, you know, impact that's going to have.

I think, you know, what the president has done in regard to the economy before we hit the -- the virus, you know, I think people in Ohio generally very happy with that. You know, the president made commitments in regard to the Supreme Court and -- and federal courts. We're very happy with what he's done there.

So, you know, it's going to -- look, it's going to be a close race in Ohio. I think the president will win Ohio. But Ohio's always going to be a -- a battleground state. And, you know, no -- neither side can ever take Ohio for granted.

RADDATZ: I -- I -- I want to turn to the protests.

As the protests continue across the country, the administration blames the violence on state and local officials who either did not or were slow to request federal assistance.

You, as a governor, what should your counterparts in Oregon and Wisconsin have done differently, do you believe?

DEWINE: Oh, I'm not -- you know, I don't know that. They have to deal with the problem. They're -- they're the ones who are on the grounds.

We've had a number of protests in Ohio. We worked very closely with our mayors. We've given them support whenever they ask for it with the National Guard.

Look, we want to respect protestors but we don't -- won't want to tolerate violence. And that's always the line. We want to support our police. We have a -- a bipartisan bill in front of the legislature, which I hope the legislature passes. It's been well thought out. We've involved community groups. We've involved the legislature -- excuse me, we've involved the -- the -- the police organizations and it calls for some very significant police reform in regard to training and right (ph) to investigations. So we have a good bill and I hope the legislature will -- will pass it. I think people are looking for very positive things.

You know, I've never met a police officer who didn't want more training. And, you know, I started as a county prosecutor, worked closely with police departments. But there's always, you know, someone who, you know, has -- doesn't -- isn't fit, quite candidly, to be a police officer. I mean one of the things that we provide in our bill is a psychological exam just, you know, to kind of screen people out who just, you know, are really not -- not fit to be police officers.

RADDATZ: And -- and I -- I want to turn to President Trump and -- and the election. He continues to sow confusion about vote-by-mail efforts. This week he encouraged voters in North Carolina to vote twice. I am going to assume you would not condone that sort of illegal behavior there in Ohio.

But what are your concerns going into Election Day? You can do in mail-in ballots up to the day before the election. This is going to be a very different election night, and it could go on for a long time. What are your concerns?

DEWINE: Well, Martha, I can only speak to Ohio. I've talked extensively with Frank LaRose, our secretary of state. We have a very good system in Ohio. For many years, two decades, I think, voters have been able to vote absentee with no reason. They can just ask for an absentee ballot.

The secretary of state tells me that we're at least double over the requests that we normally would receive now. So we're used to doing this. We have very extensive voting. People not only can vote absentee for any reason they want to but they also can vote in person at the Board of Elections during the week.

Then we even have Sunday voting in Ohio the weekend before the election -- so ample opportunity. What we tell people to do is, look, you know, everyone, by the way, is now getting in the mail, you know, their application. They can fill that out. Every voter in Ohio is getting it. They can fill that out; they can send that in. They'll get their absentee ballot back. W're asking people, if you're going to vote that way, you know, to do it as early as you can.

The other thing, Ohio law provides that the ballot can be counted up until 10 days after the election as long as it's postmarked, you know, by the Monday. So, again, we don't want anybody to wait until the Friday before to mail it. But they also have the ability to drop off at the Board of Elections, a drop box at the Board of Elections.

So we're not concerned about Ohio. We always have to be vigilant. You know, our elections in Ohio and across this country are held in a very bipartisan way from the precinct, where you have Democrats and Republicans, to the county level and -- and with the secretary of state running the election.

So we're -- we're confident things are going to work out fine as far as casting the ballot...

RADDATZ: OK, Governor...

DEWINE: ... and counting the ballot in Ohio.

RADDATZ: ... we hope that will as well. I enjoyed very much crossing through your state. Thanks for joining us this morning.

DEWINE: Thank you for coming.

RADDATZ: Up next, Florida Congresswoman Val Demings on the protests continuing to rock the country. And later, the powerhouse roundtable is here with us, as our special edition of "This Week," live from the University of Colorado, Boulder, continues.



REGGIE CARR, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Everybody got to get it together and come together as one, and we get the best man to lead the country, which, by far, is Donald Trump.

JOHNNY THOMAS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: People work hard for their businesses. People work hard for their home. So, wouldn't you want somebody who's going to send in the National Guard or send in authorities to stop people from looting, burning down your buildings? Wouldn't you want a president like that?


RADDATZ: Some of the president's supporters I met during our cross-country tour.

And joining me now to discuss that and much more, Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings from the battleground state of Florida.

Good morning, Congresswoman.

As you saw, we talked to voters about a lot of topics, but law and order certainly resonated among many of them after the coast-to-coast violence.

As a former law enforcement officer and someone who nearly joined the Democratic presidential ticket, is your party striking the right balance right now in responding to the unrest and calls for racial justice?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, good morning. It's great to be with you.

And let me say this. As a 27-year law enforcement officer, the foundation of every great community really is the opportunity to live in a safe community. And so all persons, regardless of what part of the nation they're from, the color of their skin or their ethnic background, want to live in safe communities.

But we also need to understand what truly makes America the great, wonderful country that it is, and that's an individual's right to protest.

So, our job is to make sure that peaceful protesters are able to exercise their right guaranteed under the First Amendment. But we also have to make sure that those who break the law, those who exercise violence, regardless of what side of the political aisle are -- aisle that they're on, must be held accountable.

And, in this country, Martha, we can do both.

RADDATZ: A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll shows 55 percent of voters think President Trump's rhetoric on the protests is making things worse, but 49 percent say Biden's response to the protests isn't having any impact one way or another.

What does he need to do for his messaging to break through? It's something we saw along the trail this week.

DEMINGS: Well, let me say this. President Donald John Trump is the commander in chief. And so the buck stops with him.

And I said, weeks ago, that while America was going through civil unrest in all 50 states, quite frankly, America was on fire, we had a president, a commander-in-chief who with us walking around with a gasoline can, not trying to sow peace and calm, but actually throwing fire on an already volatile situation.

I believe that Vice President Biden is on the right track. You've heard him talk about peaceful protests, but he's also talked about accountability, regardless of who those involved in violence should be held accountable. And he also talked about supporting good police officers as we should all do, but also holding the bad ones accountable. That's how we're going to get to the place where we need to get.

And let me say this, you know, what we're currently seeing in our country is not sustainable.

And it's really time to start moving from the -- what we're seeing in the streets, I believe, to having roundtable discussions. We got to continue to work with our community leaders, our law enforcement, Black Lives Matters and other stakeholders, so start putting into place plans of action that can get us back on track so we can deal with corona, we can deal with the economy, we can deal with lack of health care and other injustices that plague our nation.

RADDATZ: You know, this -- this weekend, we saw the Trump administration try to block racial equity training. A letter from the OMB saying millions of dollars have been spent on what they call anti-America propaganda that teaches the idea that, quote, virtually, all white people contribute to racism.

How do you respond to that?

DEMINGS: Martha, as you well know, racism has been the ghost in the room in this country for 400 years. And we see it not just in one system, we see it in all systems. And what we desperately need is a commander-in-chief who clearly understands that.

We got to deal with inequality in all things. In health care, we see the effects of COVID-19 on black and brown communities. In education, if we know that overwhelming majority of people in our prison systems, for example, are black and brown, and a majority did not graduate high school. We've got to deal with injustices in education, in lending, in housing.

And we need a commander-in-chief who clearly understands and wants to address racism in all systems. Until we get to that point, we will continue to see the problems and be plagued by the problems that we're seeing every day right now.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Congresswoman. We appreciate it very much.

DEMINGS: Good to be with you. Take care.

RADDATZ: Up next, the powerhouse roundtable is here in Boulder, ready to go, and they're coming up next.


RADDATZ: And the roundtable has now joined me here in a very breezy, very beautiful Boulder.

And we'll be right back to discuss it all.


RADDATZ: I heard from so many voters across the country this week. Now let's hear from our powerhouse roundtable, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, ABC News deputy political director MaryAlice Parks, and an old friend, former Denver Post and Boston Globe editor Greg Moore, now editor in chief of Deke Digital. It's great to have you here. It's great to have the roundtable in person, socially distant, on a beautiful and very windy morning.

Not a problem for you, Matt Dowd, so I am going to start with you.


DOWD: I'll take that as a compliment.

RADDATZ: Yeah, that's a compliment for you.


I heard from so many people this morning -- this week -- but, also, it really did turn to that article at The Atlantic, as soon as we arrived here in Colorado, and the outrage over that. And as you see, some believe it; some don't. Some want those anonymous sources to come forward.

What's your take on it, Matt?

DOWD: Well, what's amazing to me is we just had two major conventions. It's almost as if they didn't happen, with the news of the week and the news of the last few days. My take on it is it is very much in line with Donald Trump and things he's said, as you noted throughout it, very credible journalists. It sounds like Donald Trump, the use of the words and all that.

I think, actually, what it's going to do is it makes it harder -- it may not reduce Donald Trump's margin or it may not increase Joe Biden's margin, but it will make it much harder for Donald Trump to overcome the seven or eight-point advantage that Joe Biden seems to have locked in for the last three months.

It's as if we're at the foothills of the Rockies. It's as if somebody put a 50-pound more weight in a backpack. And Donald Trump still has to get up the side of the mountain, and this makes it much harder for him to get up that mountain that Joe Biden has now as a margin.

RADDATZ: And -- and, Greg, do you -- do you agree with that?

I mean, so many stories just pass over in 24 hours, and no one remembers them.

MOORE: Right.

RADDATZ: Is this one that you think will resonate and could make a difference?

MOORE: I think it could make a difference. You know, a lot of the people who fight the wars in -- in America are from Trump's base. Right now, they don't believe it, you know, because they've been conditioned to accept, you know, these kind of stories as being fake news. But if the sources come forward and they're credible, I think it could really put a -- a dent in his armor in a way that some of the other revelations have not been able to do.

RADDATZ: And, MaryAlice, I was surprised, it was -- the announcement from the White House was so swift, the denial from the White House, so swift. And of course, Joe Biden immediately seized on this.

PARKS: Yeah, Joe Biden said it was personal for him. He was quick to talk about his son, Beau Biden, who served in Iraq. Clearly, Democrats see an opening here. They are going all in on this story.

You know, and I think that's partly because they think this strikes at the president's brand. You know, he wants to see himself as the one on the campaign trail talking about fully instating military budgets, and this -- this gets against this idea that he's the one that's close to the military.

And I think it's important to remember that this comes after a long summer. You know, just a few months ago we had military members saying that they were really frustrated with reports that Russia had bounties on soldiers' heads. They were frustrated that he didn't talk about that with Putin. They're worried that he's making these threats about using military members to, maybe, break up domestic disputes.

So, you know, military members in Washington tell me, at least, that they're already really anxious that he could use them in ways that they don't think are appropriate.

RADDATZ: And I -- I heard that a lot from some of the veterans I was talking to here as well.

Matt, let's just turn to the race in general. We saw a slew of post-convention polls that show Joe Biden still leading nationally and either tied or leading in some of the battleground states that Trump won in 2016.

How much stock do you think we should put in the polls? I think we're all wary of them. We remember 2016. But now, less than two months out?

DOWD: Well, to me, one, we have to all wait until Election Day, as we should have done better -- a better job of in 2016, and not gone out of our way to say that Donald Trump had no chance or little chance in this.

To me, there's a much different place in this race; there's a stability in this race that did not exist in 2016. Joe Biden, since he's basically clinched the nomination after Super Tuesday, or almost clinched it, has had roughly a seven or eight-point lead in this race.

And the number that I always tell people to look at, which is the most important number for a re-elect, is a president's job approval. This is not an open race like 2016, where who your opponent matters as much as who you are. Donald Trump and his image matters more than anything else in this race, way more than Joe Biden.

And presidents usually always get on the ballot with what their job approval number is. So if a president's at 51, he gets 51 percent of the vote, as Barack Obama and George W. Bush did.

So, the idea that President Bush (sic) can somehow taint Joe Biden, and that will cause him to be reelected, he has to improve his image if this race is going to change.

RADDATZ: And one of the things they are both trying to do, MaryAlice, is get out on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden was out there this week. And Donald Trump continues to hold these rallies, very different campaign look.


RADDATZ: Talk about that a little bit and that difference and whether Biden needs to get out there more.

PARKS: Sure.

I mean, the pace is really picking up now. Joe Biden had, by our count, fewer than 20 in-person events all summer. But he has three coming up just this week.

And the president, too, the pace just really picking up with his family. They have a lot of events coming up in the next few weeks.

And, look, these events are really different. We see the message in that imagery. We saw the president in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Those are states where the governors have put out mask mandates.

And the president is not enforcing masks. In fact, he's mocking the idea of people wearing masks. There's no social distancing at his events. He's trying to say, we're moving beyond the pandemic, we're rounding this corner.

And that's totally different than Joe Biden. I mean, Joe Biden's events are small. They're controlled. His message is, the government needs to do more. Unemployment is still twice what it was in March. And he's talking about that. He's talking about opening schools. He's talking about job safety during the pandemic.

He's saying, we're not through the thick of this yet. That's the message.

RADDATZ: And, Greg, I have to say that, on my trip across the country, even in states where there was mask mandates, or as close to that as you can get, not a whole lot of people wearing masks. I'd say about half and half.

So, is the issue of COVID, do people just want to get over that?

MOORE: No, I don't think they want to just get over it.

I think there are two schools of thought. And the visuals really underscore the ideological differences between these two candidates, I mean, the never-maskers, the folks that are with Trump that say there's nothing to worry about, vs. the people who want to take precautions and follow science.

And I don't think it's that people want to hurry up and get this over with. I think they're making a tradeoff. You know, 8 percent unemployment vs. 190,000 deaths, that's been the question. And I think that's what it's going to come down to on November 3, is, who do you trust more?

RADDATZ: I also -- Greg, there seems to be, I don't want to vote for Trump among Democrats and independents, more than, I want to vote for Biden, even if you press them and say, look, what is it you like about Joe Biden, they're like, he's not Donald Trump.

MOORE: It's the enthusiasm gap, right?

RADDATZ: Yes, exactly what I was going to say. There seems to be an enthusiasm gap, although there's enthusiasm for going out to vote against Donald Trump.

MOORE: Right.

RADDATZ: So, how does Biden handle that?

MOORE: I think it comes down to the debates.

I think the debates are really going to be the thing that is going to really get the Democratic base excited, if he can perform up to the level that they that they saw during the acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

I think that's considered his best speech ever. He has to show that kind of fire. He has -- he has got to show that kind of intensity, and he's got to be able to go and parry with Trump, who's going to be mean, who is going to be tough, who's going to be nasty.

RADDATZ: OK, we're going to come back to both of you, all of you, after this break.

We will be right back.


CORI BUSH (D), MISSOURI CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: -- it's the exact same way. I was just tear gassed. We were maced just in July, you know? So, we have a lot of work to do.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: Missouri congressional candidate Cori Bush speaking with me just before we got on the road. She's a rising progressive political star, who got her start as a Black Lives Matter organizer in Ferguson, where the police killing of Michael Brown galvanized the movement.

I was there 2014 and went back for this week's road trip to see what's changed for voters across Missouri in a summer marked by more high-profile violence against black Americans.

We kick off a new ABC News series and ask, has the nation reached a "Turning Point" on race relations?


RADDATZ: Ferguson’s police chief Jason Armstrong has been on the job for just over a year. His goal: to help serve as a bridge between law enforcement and the black community.

You were out with the protesters, marching with the protesters after George Floyd was killed.

JASON ARMSTRONG, FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF: The protesters asked me to march with them, that's what I felt in my heart. Look at me as being in the middle of an important issue and how can I use that uniqueness that I bring to the table of being a black man and being a chief of police in today's world, how can I use to help better relationships? How can I help use that, you know, to bridge some gaps that we have?

RADDATZ: That Ferguson restaurant owner we heard from earlier in the program, Kathy Jenkins (ph), had her windows smashed during the 2014 unrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vandals that were destroying property weren't the same people as the protesters.

RADDATZ: What about after the killing of George Floyd?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was different about this time, we had white and black protesters out, together, protesting. It was wonderfully friendly.

RADDATZ: Recent polling shows support for the Black Lives Matter movement has grown since 2014, but St. Louis has seen some opposition. The McCloskeys, the white couple charged with brandishing guns at protesters outside their home represent one extreme of the political wedge over protest-related violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to recognize that sometimes violence is not a message of hate but it’s really a cry for help.

RADDATZ: St. Louis voter Jamie Cox (ph) was 18 when she first took part in Black Lives Matter protests.

So, what would you say to the McCloskeys?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely agree with a conversation about needing to have law and with order. But with that comes having a conversation about justice. It’s really the same idea and all we’re doing is just needing to have a conversation about how we get there.

RADDATZ: Across the state, another conversation unfolding on racism in a painful way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing inside my doorway, and someone essentially screamed a racial slur at me.

RADDATZ: Jamari Whelan (ph) is an Army veteran now working for the State Department, he and his wife Maureen (ph) moved from California to Kansas City in June with their young children and say as an interracial couple, they were met with repeated and overt hostility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard for me to hear it come towards my husband, but it’s really hard for me to hear it towards my kids. And even more, just stay with your own kind directed to me is really difficult to swallow. It's astonishing for it so to be so bold, vocal and loud and proud. Racism shouldn't be proud.

RADDATZ: But after the couple started publishing a blog and local news outlets started picking it up, they saw a shift.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're flooded with emails, messages, reaching out, the support, and never in a million years expected this, ever.

RADDATZ: So, do you think it's kind of a turning point for your family? Do you think the nation is at a turning point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe we are. There’s been a lot of tension in the past several months. I think people are just fed up. I think people feel that they have a voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The minority of people who are negative, giving us negative feedback are completely overshadowed by the positive. So, yes, America is ready for a turning point.


RADDATZ: And we're back now with the roundtable.

And, Greg, I want to start with you. You just heard Maureen and Jamari (ph), they believe the country's at a turning point. Kathy Jenkins (ph) noted this time the protesters were more diverse. So, what has made this not just a moment but really a movement?

GREG MOORE, DEKE DIGITAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: I think video, you know, the undeniable reality of what these allegations have been like for decades, right, I describe this as our Berlin Wall moment where the symbols of policies, the practices that are, you know, support racism are really being chipped away brick by brick. And I don’t think there’s any turning back from those.

I think the people are disgusted by -- by what they've seen when it comes to the discrepancies between access to capital for African-Americans and other minorities and white communities and what happens with the criminal justice system. And I just feel they just can't take it anymore. And -- and -- and really it's because they can't deny the reality of it.

RADDATZ: And -- and, MaryAlice, both the president and Joe Biden made trips to Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week, where we've seen both peaceful protests and rioting in response to the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, that these were very different appearances by the president and Joe Biden.

MARYALICE PARKS, ABC NEWS DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, completely different. And mostly the president didn't meet with Jacob Blake's family. You know, he talked to business owners and police. He focused exclusively on those riots that happened afterwards, but he completely dismissed the police violence that -- that sparked it all.

You know, on the other side, Joe Biden met for over an hour with Jacob Blake's family, talked to Jacob Blake on the phone, even though, obviously, he's still in the hospital. And I -- and I was surprised they put out actually a really positive statement. The family said that they were impressed with Joe Biden. They -- they thought it was obvious that he really cared.

You know, look, the -- the president might successfully turn the conversation to these issues. He wants to make this a -- a black versus blue police issue. And he might successfully do that, turn it away from Covid, away from the economy. But I'm just not convinced he's turning voters away from Joe Biden.

You know, in our latest poll, Joe Biden is still seen by the majority of Americans as the person that keeps them safe or more likely to keep them safe and even more say that he's more likely to unite the country.

RADDATZ: And -- and, Matt, do you think the law and order message of President Trump is getting through?

MATT DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think it's getting through to his supporters. I -- I have a -- I mean I think this is a moment where we really have to deal with this. And, I mean, African-Americans throughout our country's history have suffered trauma. And it's not just the trauma of the last few years, it's the trauma of the last decades, it's the trauma of the last 200 years. And we never, as a country, fully dealt with that or admitted that or acknowledged the truth of that. And until we're willing to do that, especially white people in America, that are willing to acknowledge what has happened, we're not going turn the corner. And I think a lot of the trauma that African-Americans and Latinos have suffered is, every time we say things are going to be different, they're not different. Every time in civil rights we said, it's going to be different in America, then we -- it goes back to we're now discussing police brutality and the justice system. Or in the aftermath of the Civil War, everything was going to be great, they were going to ban slavery, we were going to give people the right to vote and then we enter into Jim Crow.

And so I think as an America country, we have to finally deal with this stain that has been with us for 200 or 300 years.

RADDATZ: Well, these are all great comments.

I thank you all for this. It was wonderful being here in Boulder. And thanks for all of you for making the trip out here.

That's all for us today. Thanks for joining us for part of your Sunday and thank you to all those voters who shared their thoughts with us as we drove across the country.

And, finally, a special thanks to CU Boulder for hosting us this morning and to our entire ABC News team for allowing us to broadcast from Beautiful Colorado.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.