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Candidates Make Final Push in Alabama Senate Race; Nikki Haley: Trump's Accusers 'Should Be Heard'. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired December 11, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): This is President Donald Trump, and I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore.
[05:59:46] DOUG JONES (D), SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe that we'll win. I want to make sure we send a message of who we are.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: These allegations are completely false. I did not molest anyone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This fire has been very rapidly moving. Do what you want now to prepare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm heartbroken, but we're thankful that we're alive.
GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is the new normal. It's just more intense, more widespread.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Monday, December 11, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.
The national spotlight is on Alabama's hotly contested special election race for a Senate seat. Voters head to the polls tomorrow morning. President Trump is all in with Roy Moore, totally embracing him, all but ignoring the allegations against him. The president recording a phone call, rallying over the weekend for the man accused of child molestation.
The state's most prominent Republican senator, Richard Shelby, bucking his party and the president, saying he can't vote for Roy Moore. Instead, Senator Shelby says he chose a write-in candidate, didn't say who. Moore's Democratic challenger, Doug Jones barn storming the state,
while Moore has stayed off the campaign trail in these final days.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So one of the top-ranking women in President Trump's women says the women accusing President Trump of sexual misconduct, quote, "should be heard." That's U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. And she's notably going off message from the White House position that the women have all lied about their claims.
This comes as several Democratic senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over those allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
So we have all of this covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Kaylee Hartung. She is live in Montgomery, Alabama, with our top story in Montgomery, Alabama. What's happening there today, Kaylee?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
President Trump is ramping up his efforts to try to get Roy Moore elected in tomorrow's special election here in Alabama. This state has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than 20 yesrs, but given these explosive allegations against Moore, the Democratic Party is hopeful they've got an opportunity to pick up a seat here.
TRUMP (via phone): Hi. This is President Donald Trump, and I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore.
HARTUNG (voice-over): President Trump making a final push to bolster Alabama's Republican nominee and accused child molester Roy Moore, recording a robocall for the controversial Senate candidate after touting his support for Moore at a rally in Florida.
TRUMP (on camera): This country, the future of this country cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate. We can't afford it, folks.
HARTUNG: For the second time in one week, the president's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, also campaigning for Moore, who's become the face of Bannon's antiestablishment movement.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you.
HARTUNG: Moore's candidacy continuing to divide the GOP, with the state's most prominent Republican, Senator Richard Shelby, denouncing his party's nominee on CNN.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: So many cuts. So many drip, drip, drip. When it got to the 14-year-old story -- story, that was enough for me. I said, "I can't vote for Roy Moore." The state of Alabama deserves better.
HARTUNG: Moore's opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, immediately turning Senator Shelby's remarks into an online ad and a robocall that will play statewide in the final hours of this election.
Moore himself seeming to avoid the spotlight. The former judge has not held a formal campaign event since early last week, remaining largely out of sight this weekend other than a taped interview with a local TV program.
MOORE: I do not know them. I've had no encounter with them. I never molested anyone.
HARTUNG: Jones, on the other hand, barnstorming the state alongside a number of prominent Democrats who are pouring money and resources into the race.
JONES: I want to make sure that when my granddaughters grow up, they don't have to endure the kind of thing that those girls and women did and then sit silent for 30, 40 years. I want to make sure that we send a message of who we are and why we are.
HARTUNG: Jones enlisting the help of former Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker in an attempt to shore up the black vote, a critical demographic for Jones.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, saying Sunday that any woman who speaks up about sexual behavior should be heard, including President Trump's accusers.
HALEY: They should be heard, and they should be dealt with. We heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
HARTUNG: those remarks from one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration. That's a notable break from the president's longstanding assertion that the allegations are false and part of a smear campaign. Today, the president will have lunch with the vice president ahead of Mike Pence's four-day trip to the Middle East. And later today, we'll see the president on camera as he signs a space policy directive -- Alisyn, Chris.
[06:05:10] CUOMO: All right, Kaylee, thank you very much. You are in some spot spot down there.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and David Gregory. The most recent polling that CNN would repeat is from "The Washington Post" taken around Thanksgiving time. Statistical dead heat. Even though Jones is up three, it's within the margin of error. So statistical dead heat going into it.
David Gregory, you've got the president all in. You've got Richard Shelby, the senior citizen down there -- the senior citizen. Senior senator down there. No disrespect. I love Richard Shelby. He's always been good to me. The senior senator saying, "Too much drip- drip for me." What's the plus-minus on that? DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's a big voice. The Republican establishment. But there's a lot of people in the Republican establishment who will come out against Moore. And he's been able to hang tough. I mean, it's not that there isn't damage done. The fact that this is such a close race shows tells you how much damage has been done, not just by these allegations but by all the other issues that would be viewed by so many as disqualifying about Roy Moore, his comments about Russia in the past few days. His comments about 9/11 and gay marriage, et cetera. I mean, this is a very controversial figure, the Ten Commandments.
We almost forget about how controversial he is, because of these very, very allegations. But it's a tight race. A couple of problems for the Democrat, Doug Jones. They are not used to having such a tight race. So the get-out-the-vote operation for Democrats is really untested, not really this place. That becomes difficult. You've got the president doing robocalls, getting his voters out. Steve Bannon down there, that's difficult.
And one other piece. I wonder whether people who are for Moore may be reluctant to tell pollsters that they are for him. At least some of those voters. Maybe the race is not as close as it seems.
CAMEROTA: That's a great point. We also know polls can get it wrong. And that people -- I mean, as we learn from exit polls, people sometimes take a perverse pleasure in lying to pollsters about what they are going to do. So John, how do you see it today.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, in terms of the polls, I mean, there's no way to accurately poll this special election in Alabama of this nature in December.
So I think, you know, Alabamans are going to make this decision, as they should. And it's going to come down to who shows up and whether Moore support -- folks, Republicans, who normally support the nominee, stay home, because they hear Richard Shelby, the senior senator, say, "I couldn't bring myself to vote for the guy." Whether supporting Doug Jones seems like a quixotic effort that motivates Democrats, where they feel like it's a foregone conclusion.
Remember, Alabama hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992.
CAMEROTA: Twenty-five years.
AVLON: When Richard Shelby was elected, and then flipped two years later to the Republican Party.
So this is unfamiliar territory for Democrats even feeling a whisper of a prayer of a hope of winning a statewide race. That said, cynicism passes for wisdom in Washington. There are a lot of folks treating Moore's election as being foregone. Let's not fall into that trap. Let's see who turns out tomorrow. This is a big race not only for the country, not only for Alabama, but also for the Republican Party.
CUOMO: Let's play the sound. David, let's play the sound from Richard Shelby, senior senator, and Doug Jones, the Democrat's, way of using that sound. Here,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELBY: I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.
MOORE: I believe those women in Etowah County. It's just like Senator Shelby said, when there's smoke, there's fire. There's fire in there.
Now I want to make sure that when my granddaughters grow up, they don't have to endure the kind of things that those girls in Etowah County did and then sit silent for 30, 40 years. I want to make sure that we send a message of who we are and why we are.
CUOMO: It's funny that he ends like that, because really, it's such an unusual race. And the specific concerns of people in Alabama haven't been a part of this race at all, you know, because of how large Roy Moore looms. In all fairness, Doug Jones, he may be there. He wouldn't come on the show. We kept inviting him on. So they played some profile games with him, as well, David Gregory.
And so you have Shelby weighing in. You have what this election is supposed to be about. If Roy Moore wins, what do you think happens? And do you believe this theory that the Democrats still gain, because they can campaign on Roy Moore in 2018.
GREGORY: Well, yes. I mean, there's no question about it. They're going to -- they're going to run hard at Roy Moore. They're going to try to link it, as they're doing right now, to President Trump and have a renewed focus on the women who have made accusations against him about sexual misconduct. There's no question about that.
But there's a lot here. First of all, I think Doug Jones has been very careful about his profile, about nationalizing the race. He's got to be careful, even as he tries to turn out African-Americans, how he tries to still court those voters who might be for Barack Obama, for example, who might vote for him, who might be a little bit more conservative, as Democrats or maybe Republicans willing to vote for the Democrat.
The other thing that John mentioned is important. A special election is different. Right? So maybe Shelby's coming out against Roy Moore, not for Jones but against Roy Moore. Maybe it causes Republicans to simply sit on their hands and sit home, stay home.
CUOMO: Right. You're saying it's different, because there's no other reason to go out and vote except this race.
GREGORY Right. And that becomes important. And that's because -- that's where the turnout operation becomes -- becomes very important.
And, you know, that Shelby comment is already being pushed out in ads right now. Right? So the Doug Jones campaign losing no time. It's the ultimate third-party validator if you will. Second thing is, absentee ballot requests are up, particularly in urban areas. So that's really a thing to watch.
But we're just going to know on election day when folks turn out, it's up to the citizens of Alabama. The idea that Democrats try to spin this as a win either way. That seems a little bit too cute. They can either flip a seat and have a major impact, narrow the margin of the Senate or not.
We can look to Virginia as being a powerful example. We can look to failed specials in Georgia a being a counter example. This is democracy in real-time, and the implications are huge. Because if Moore does win, people are going to say, look, if you're in -- if you're a deep red state or deep blue state, you can do anything. You can say anything. You could say in an interview within this decade that amendments after the Tenth Amendment should be stricken from the Constitution as Kate Falls (ph) reported that Moore did, and you can still win. That's a dangerous precedent itself in terms of national unity.
CAMEROTA: It's also--
GREGORY: I'm glad you brought that up. And the fact that he -- think of some of the things that Roy Moore has said, apart from these allegations that are just so crazy.
CUOMO: We have a piece later in the show where we'll lay out the things that Alabama voters have to swallow if they go with Roy Moore. And the allegations from these women are not even part of the piece.
GREGORY: Let's also remember what we're focused on in terms of a national program about the race is different, what, day in and day out voters are hearing. Of course they're hearing about the women. But they're also hearing about abortion. They're hearing, you know, in the differences on the approach to abortion. So what's really going to motivate a more conservative electorate? We have to bear that in mind in terms of who's motivated enough to vote.
CAMEROTA: That's a great point. And in terms of who and what will motivate the electorate. You know, John, President Trump didn't need to jump in here. He did. He chose to. He chose to be all in. And in fact, former President Obama has recorded a robocall for Doug Jones.
But I think that there is still an open question as to how much even those looming national figures would -- will affect how Alabamans want to vote.
CUOMO: I don't know if they've used the Obama robocall.
AVLON: That's right. That's actually an ongoing debate.
Look, Moore's campaign strategist over the weekend, they kept trying to nationalize this. A vote for Moore is a vote for Trump. Pay no attention to these allegations. Look, Trump didn't quite go in the state. He felt it was comfortable going as close as, you know, Pensacola on Friday night.
But he clearly is getting in. He wants the Senate margin. He needs that Senate margin. And he clearly is not troubled by any of the accusations or policy positions of Roy Moore. And -- and that's a big deal. So to some extent, this is about whether that Virginia momentum for Democrats continues and can it continue even in the Deep South.
CUOMO: It is an interesting message. What happened with these accusations, with the women, that didn't motivate the president. But that seat did. And the raw numbers and the political advantage for somebody who said that he wouldn't play that kind of politics, that's his motivation, as far as we can tell.
CAMEROTA: All right, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
Now this story. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, insisting that any woman who feels victimized by sexual misconduct should be heard. Those are her words. Including President Trump's accusers. So we'll discuss why she's going so off-message from the administration, next.
[06:17:32] CAMEROTA: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley speaking about sexual misconduct and breaking with the White House. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard, and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We're back with our CNN political analysts, John Avlon and David Gregory. John Avlon, that is quite different from what, say, Sarah Sanders or other people in the White House have said. How significant is that?
AVLON: That qualifies for a profile of courage in the context of this administration and cabinet. It's a pretty generic statement of solidarity with women; women should be believed. But coming from a U.N. ambassador--
CUOMO: She didn't say believe.
AVLON: This is -- I just walked into Chris Cuomo's trap. Heard -- heard is the language she used. And the point Chris has been making is that's very different than believed.
CUOMO: Heard, dealt with. They should be able to come forward.
CAMEROTA: But that has kept it as a--
CUOMO: I think it's a minimum.
AVLON: But -- but in the context of this administration, of a cabinet member contradicting the president, the official White House line, saying that the accusers of the president should be heard, that in the context of this administration, is extraordinary. It almost makes you think that she no longer thinks she's going to be named secretary of state. Because that's the kind of thing that's not going to be well- received in the West Wing.
CUOMO: Good for her. But David Gregory, you know, how can she not say that? I mean, the point I would make here is that this is a minimum versus a maximum. And the example is what she says, Nikki Haley, when it comes to women, they should come forward. They should be heard. They should be dealt with. What about being believed? Should they be believed or not?
Of course, you have every right to reject the accusations. Not all accusations are equal. Many can be false. You've got to prove it. You've got to show it. You've got to get into it. T
But then you look at what Nikki Haley said about moving the embassy. It will help the peace process. You know, that is very difficult to justify except as being a full-throated, "I'm all in." It doesn't seem that she's all in with the women the same way. That would be my suggestion.
GREGORY: I agree. I think it's notable for the reasons that John said. But I do think it's pretty generic. It's actually not that much different. To me that what Sarah Sanders is saying, which is these women were heard. They should be heard, and they were heard before the election; and voters rendered judgment, is what's implicit in that. Sarah Sanders is saying it much more explicitly. Tim Scott, senator from South Carolina, said that, as well, while still saying if there's something to litigate here, that we should -- we should do that.
[06:20:05] But I think that the way the president has moved forward defending himself against these allegations has been much more defiant, has been different, has been more successful than others. But it doesn't mean that -- that he's not going to face a renewed threat because of it. But I don't think that Nikki Haley is taking a great step forward here.
CAMEROTA: So this weekend you heard this mini groundswell of Democrats starting to say, "Well, the president should resign." Here's Senator Jeff Merkley on that." An e-mail fundraising pitch. "I want to be absolutely clear. Donald Trump should resign the presidency. At least 17 women have accused Donald Trump of horrific sexual misconduct, and I believe them. Moreover, he's bragged on tape about that behavior. This is not about politics. This is not about policy. I disagree with him on many things. But this is not about that." So John, it seems as though with Al Franken's resignation, this gives
them now license to go for the president.
AVLON: That's right. And this is almost where Al Franken died for Bill Clinton's sins. The Democratic Party wanted to clean the deck, to be able to say, look, A, we're going after the president on this. We're saying resignation is the appropriate standard. I think doing it -- you know, whenever a politician says something in a fundraising letter, you've got to discount it 25 percent. Because it's just sort of craven on its face. But if this is the new standard they're moving forward, that's at least the--
CUOMO: What is the standard? I still don't understand what happened with Franken. And not just the idea of whether or not he's actually leaving or not, and there's an advanced date in the future when he will leave. But what did he admit? What did he do, exactly?
You know, I know that we said, David, help me out with this -- that he had admitted doing something -- doing what? The picture with the hands that Kellyanne thinks is groping. You know, they've been beating me over the head with that, that Cuomo doesn't think this is -- but I don't see any touch going on. I thought that was a joke, that he was looking at somebody. So does he admit that he groped?
CAMEROTA: He didn't really admit it.
CUOMO: What is the standard? If enough people accuse you, you have to leave?
CAMEROTA: It seems like. Yes.
AVLON: That appears to be the case.
GREGORY: But he did -- he did apologize.
CAMEROTA: He apologized.
GREGORY: He did recognize these things that he'd done. Only then, when he was resigning, say, "I didn't do what I was accused of."
CUOMO: Yes. I just don't get what the standard is. You know what I mean? Because you can't just say, you're over the Mason-Dixon line. You know, the Mendoza line that they had in baseball. Here it is. Nine women have accused you. You've got to go. But I didn't do any of these things. But it was consensual. It was -- you know, got to go. I don't get the standard.
CAMEROTA: I agree. It's fuzzy at the moment.
GREGORY: And I -- and I -- look, part of this is getting caught up in Democrats being so eager to define a standard, which is we're going to claim the high ground here.
CUOMO: Right. But it seems like, David -- it seems like now you put it perfectly there. It seems like that's what they're doing.
CAMEROTA: Well, yes.
CUOMO: That they're playing to advantage as opposed to doing the right thing.
CAMEROTA: Senator Cory Booker basically spells it out. This weekend, he says, I just watched Senator Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is why isn't Donald Trump doing the same thing who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I -- yes. It doesn't answer Chris's question. But they are clearly using Al Franken as now the standard bearer on this.
AVLON: Right. And I think that was part of their calculus. We've sacrificed is one of our own for a -- for a low standard. The real problem is this -- the Franken standard is not a standard, because no one can say exactly what it is.
As Chris says, it is the volume of accusations, regardless of severity. And I think also it raised the question. You know, he apologized reflexively. Right thing to do. People feel offended. But if you -- if you -- the denial standard of Donald Trump and Roy Moore, that's more politically palatable. That takes us to an even worse place.
CUOMO: Look, this gets sticky. Because obviously, I don't believe in the Nikki Haley standard of just hear them. It's not enough. Because there's too much pressure. There's too much social pressure not to come forward. There's an odd dynamic when it comes to women coming forward about this. I've said from the beginning you can't put the onus on the women. Chasing bold-faced names, I get it. I get why the media loves it. It's not real change. It's not systemic change. It's easy for a corporation to fire somebody, even if they're a big shot. We're all replaceable.
But to do those kinds of endemic changes, where women, it's not on them anymore. So I just don't get what the standard is. If it's -- I'm sorry -- I'm sorry you feel offended. Is that the standard? You know, I just -- I don't get it.
CAMEROTA: I think this book is still being written, basically. John Avlon, David Gregory, thank you both very much.
CUOMO: All right, so look. You're not going to hear any more about polls anymore. It's all about what happens in the actual race. It starts tomorrow. It will start on our watch. So please make sure you tune in tomorrow, and we'll see what the voters decide to prioritize in this election in Alabama tomorrow. We're going to take you down the road of what may be the biggest deal next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [06:29:14] SHELBY: I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That's Alabama's most prominent Republican senator, Richard Shelby, breaking with President Trump and his party, announcing that he did not vote for Roy Moore. Shelby said he chose to write in a candidate instead.
Joining now are morning show radio hosts Matt Murphy and Andrea Lundberg from Talk 99.5 in Birmingham, Alabama. Great to see you guys. It's so nice to be able to check in with you as we have over this past month, because you give us the pulse of where the people in Alabama are, because they call in to your radio show. So Andrea, do you have a sense of how the state is leaning today?
ANDREA LINDENBERG, TALK SHOW SHOW, TALK 99.5: I think the state is leaning Roy Moore, Alisyn. And we talked to you -- I guess it's been about a month. We talked to you about this right after that "Washington Post" article came out. Our listeners calling in, the ones who may have been undecided after listening to the allegations and hearing the facts, now are calling us and saying, "Look, I may not have been a Roy Moore supporter I supported someone else in the primary in this election."