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Jones: 'Gracious' Call From Pres Trump After Historic Dem Win; Monmouth Univ.: Pres. Trump Approval Hits Record Low 32%; GOP In Crisis After Moore Upset Loss; Pres. Trump Vs Sen. Gillibrand; USA Today Editorial Board Slams Pres. Trump; Joe Biden Consoles Meghan McCain On Father's Cancer Diagnosis; Joe Biden On Running: "I May Very Well Do It". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 13, 2017 - 21:00   ET


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It started like this. Let's take a look. He said his about the race last night he said, "The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange and his numbers went up mightily is that I said Roy Moore would not be able to win the general election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!" So Luther Strange, of course, was the original Republican running against Roy Moore, who the president backed, originally he was burned in that race. And again, he was burning this race.

[21:00:29] A couple hours later the president said this about the quality of the candidate in the race talking about Roy Moore, of course. He said this, "If last night's election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase the razor thin margins in both House and Senate." Implied in that is that Roy Moore was not a good candidate. Remember, mind the fact, that the president defied all political advice from a Republican advisor here at the White House on Capitol Hill after Republican National Committee and went all in for Roy Moore. He followed Steve Bannon's advice and that burned him today, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do we know what was said between the president and Doug Jones in the call?

ZELENY: Anderson, we're told that call which came amid afternoon or, so right before the president gave his tax speech from the Oval Office. He spoke with Doug Jones. He offered his congratulations we were told, and he talked about moving forward, working on this agenda and moving forward for the Alabama people.

And it's interesting because, of course, Doug Jones will become one of those Democrats, a few Democrats that really become somewhat an instinct creature here in Washington, a Democrat from a red state. He wants to work with him. But beyond that it was not much more than pleasantries I'm today. But he did invite him here to the White House which, Anderson, not something that used to happened all the time. Republican presidents, Democratic president, used to have new senators to the White House. We'll see if anything actually comes of this meeting during this deeply partisan environment. COOPER: And Jeff, I wondering with (ph) about Steve Bannon, I mean how much blame is he Bannon getting after this loss?

ZELENY: Anderson, at the end of a long day here of criminations (ph) and finger pointing, there's no question that Steve Bannon is blamed by so many people, including here at the White House. The open question here is, what does the president think about Steve Bannon's political acumen? Will he keep following him in the 2018 midterm election? That's what matters now.

Steve Bannon, of course, came out so strong after Roy Moore beat Luther Strange a few months ago in Alabama. Now he's weakened. The question is, will the president still listen to him in those private conversations? Many Republicans here hope he does not. The president seems to turn again and again back to Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon, of course, blamed all of this on Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. That's a pretty difficult square to circle, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much. Tonight, the president's approval ratings dropped to its lowest level since he took office. According to the new Monmouth University poll, it shows just 32 percent approve of the job President Trump is doing, 56 percent disapprove.

With me now our CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen, and CNN political analyst and The New York Times White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman. Maggie, do you have any sense of -- is there a feeling among folks at the White House that they need to course correct in some way?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It depends what you mean by course correct, meaning, in the constant base play, that we have seen throughout. That comes from the president. And that is going -- he has a -- paralytic fear of losing his base. He believes that he got where he is by having this 35 percent to, you know, 38 percent. But that will be what carries the day throughout.

He does recognize, though, that there is at least some limit on that. While he is selling this as, you know, I was in a lose-lose situation, there was not much I can do, he has enough doubt about what he did in endorsing Roy Moore that he has solicit an opinions from a number of people throughout the day to day which is always what he does when he's not feeling entirely sure. It's not really clear what that course correction would look like. What we have seen this president do in his year in office has been very consistent. He follows Mitch McConnell until that doesn't work anymore, and then he goes essentially with Steve Bannon or his base.

I don't think that he knows of another way. We're going to see what the impact of this on the tax plan vote. If this has a deleterious effect, which it might, then I think he will see a course correction. If not I think he'll see this as a sign he's vindicated once again and he keeps going to the next crisis.

COOPER: David, as someone who's worked at the number of White House, should there be a course correction? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not clear, he's on a course. I mean, jumps from one thing to next -- you never know quite where he is or one lily pad to the next. But he does need a change of strategy. He needs a strategy. And he cannot -- I think the signs are now clear not only from Doug Jones and Alabama but for Virginia and New Jersey that a wave is building up and unless he changes or adopts a strategy which goes beyond his base, which are appealing to moderate Republicans and also starts appealing to Independents. He's not only the Republican control of the House and the Senate, which is threatened, but it's going to be his own re- election. I think it's absolutely clear that he has to change in way this -- change with new strategy. We waited for long time to see if Donald Trump himself would change, and we learned he would not, so it's hard to be optimistic. It's going to happen but it's what he needs.

[21:05:06] COOPER: Talking about the change, there is that new Iowa poll that I just want to say, I mean we talked about the Monmouth poll with 32 percent approval. A new Des Moines Register poll showing with only 35p percent approval rating in Iowa, 60 percent of Iowa said the country is on a wrong track.

I mean Iowa is a state that he won by nine points.

HABERMAN: Yes, in the general election. Sorry, I was thinking about -- yes, I mean, look, Iowa was a key mid western state for him. I mean the wrong track numbers can be a little bit deceptive, because the wrong track numbers were pretty high and under Obama too.

But clearly, as David said, you can see a wave building in a number of states. The White House also -- this has been a big complaint for a while. They don't have a really in-depth political operation, so you have a president who basically guides his own experience through instinct.

And he's a very, very reactive politician. Everything is by sight and by sound at these rallies that was going through daily during the campaign. He's up to maybe once a month at this point so he has to rely on sort of a seeing eye dog in the form of Steve Bannon or other people. That's problematic.

John Kelly is very upfront with people in the White House that he myself is not a political guy. So he is not going to be person doing that.

And Bill Stepian who is the political director has a lot fans in White House. He also has some detractors and in outside. You know, people will say, he comes under fire because he's not a Karl Rove or a David Axelrod and that is true. He is basically a field guy. He's a certain kind of operative. There isn't a depth of the bench at RNC to bolster them now other than, again, in data and in money. But in terms of what they are doing instinctively and for strategic terms, there's just not much in operation there.

COOPER: He did because I mean, in most White House as you can speak to this better than body. There would be a bigger, a more complex or experienced operation it seems. The president a lot of the political operation is the idea of just him going out and doing rallies just like he did in the campaign for.

GERGEN: Absolutely. If you think about the most successful chief of staff, usually that person is someone who has a lot of political moxie, you think of James Baker who ran two campaigns against Reagan and the day after Reagan was elected he asked Jim Breaker to come in be chief of staff and he asked, you had a political -- Ed Rollins (INAUDIBLE) figure out -- but it was really important that he had Baker there.

Where everything is integrated, and your politics, and your policy, and what's he going to do in the Hill, and all those sources (INAUDIBLE) that's in the chief of staff's office. Same with John Podesta who was a good chief of staff for Bill Clinton, went on and ran Hillary campaign as chairman. That again is somebody that you ideally want around the president. I think Maggie makes a very good point. He does not have anybody a real stature that he trusts around him to help him with his politics.

COOPER: Also, when he start to look at the calendar, I mean, you know, midterm elections are, you know --


COOPER: -- coming up and then it's the presidential election. I mean it starts to get into a certain worn path.

HABERMAN: You know, one thing that Jonathan Martin, my colleague, and I had reported on this, a couple of weeks ago, that there was a real lack of planning about the midterms that was going. This has happened -- there haven been a Oval Office that day involving Kelly, Mike Pence, Stepian, the president and Rick Dearborn, the Deputy chief of staff.

But they were just beginning this at that point. And when I was speaking the White House say -- they would say, look we've actually devoted a lot of our political resources to the policy problematic aspects to try and to work the Hill. You have to be able to work both tracks in any White House, but especially in this climate. And they are going into a year where all the forces appear to be against them with the exception of the economy. But still, the midterms tend to be when the party that's in power gets beaten up. And it's basically --

COOPER: And you also have not just, you know, and Democrat and say, you're Steve Bannon, and the question is, is he going to be running, you know, against warfare the mainstream Republicans? I mean to Mitt Romney --

GERGEN: Absolutely. Yes, yes, at some point, the White House have to decide, are we going to band this diagnose White House or what are we doing here? He can't have it both ways, be talking to the president, running SC (ph) establishment rule, any possibilities of the Republicans hold the House and Senate. That's a really big deal.

But let me just go -- the point is a substance to, I think the president will get his tax -- I sense he has the momentum and can get the tax bill through. There may be some derails, but we haven't seen it yet. But I think next year is going to be much harder for me. Typically a president has one year ago to get things done before you start to worry about midterm elections. And now, how does he going -- get infrastructure done and entitle (ph) reform and some of these other big issue. I don't see how he gets it done.

HABERMAN: No, I agree. I think that he's coming into this with tremendously strong head winds and it's hard to see.

COOPER: And what Bannon?

HABERMAN: Well, I mean to it -- when I started session when you were talking about how somebody has to say, you know, this guy came -- it has to be the president who says I'm not going to talk to this guy.

Donald Trump in the same way that he has never severed ties with Roger Stone, but with everybody always says, there's -- this constant -- you know, he will say Roger Stone doesn't speak for me. He is always watching Roger Stone out of the corner of his eye. He has always still talking to Roger Stone. However, sporadically that might be or frequently it might be, they still talk, they still communicate.

[21:10:07] The same is true with Bannon. He knows with both of those that they can speak to his base and they can understand his base the same way that he can and some ways better than he can. Because so much of what he does is reacted. It is dependent on what he sees in front of him. What he seeing right now is largely on television. He's not seeing it in person. And that matters.

COOPER: Fascinating. Maggie Haberman thanks. You can (ph) be around for our panel. David Gergen, thanks so much.

We got to take a quick break. Our panel is next.

And later, the "USA Today" editorial board not (INAUDIBLE) word saying a president who would call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to shine George W. Bush's shoes, or clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library. That is editorial board of the "USA Today". We're going to hear from a member of that board ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. For the first time in 25 years, Alabama has elected Democrats to the U.S. Senate. You probably know that by now. Today Doug Jones says he's aware that some people might have voted not so much for him but against his opponent.


DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATOR-ELECT: There is also that segment of this population who voted against Roy Moore. I understand that. I get that. But you know what? That's not a bad thing. When that kind of politics for a segment of the population in Alabama to help reject that kind of history and that divisive rhetoric, I think that's a good thing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Maggie Haberman from "The Times" is back. Joining us as well, it's Paul Begala, Jack Kingston, Tara Setmayer, Scott Jennings, and Josh Green.

[21:15:05] Maggie, I mean, you were there last night with us. What did you see in the victory of Doug Jones? How do you interpret it?

HABERMAN: I mean, I think somebody made this point to me on Twitter and it was a fair one. I was talking about turnout among black voters pretty pivotal. But it was a one (INAUDIBLE) in the race. There were a lot of pivotal factor. I think at the end of the day.

COOPER: The write-in is --

HABERMAN: Write-in was a factor, and a lot of people staying home was a factor, votes in Key Counties for Jones being above where they need to in terms of turnout, votes for Moore in Key Counties being below where they need to.

Look, it is a pretty remarkable occurrence. This is a unicorn vote. This is a Democrat in Alabama for a Senate seat.

I don't know how much more we can interpret based on the specific results but there's a couple of key points we can look toward as indicators which is the president's approval was pretty low in exists. We know that Roy Moore was a uniquely complicated and compromised candidate. Doug Jones is a pro-choice Democrat who got elected in the state. So many voters didn't know that because this entire race was about Roy Moore, and that was it.

Not a lot of this race could be duplicated somewhere else, but we do see consistently in state by state in special elections over the last year and in non-special elections. There is some kind of movement building against the president that is a bad harbinger for next year. And I think that if you're the White House, that has to be what you were looking at. And if you are Mitch McConnell, and if you are Paul Ryan, you are getting nervous about holding your majorities.

COOPER: Scott, do you see this as a movement against the president or some sort of wave building?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly there's a movement among Democrats who are very angry about having lost the presidential election to get it together and turn out and vote. That's clearly what happened. And I think President Obama's last minute intervention with African-American voters clearly had an effect on turnout, which helped in Alabama.

Maggie is right, there's a lot of consequences, I'm sorry, circumstances here that aren't going to be replicated elsewhere, but there's one thing we can know for sure, candidate quality matters. Roy Moore he'll be remembered as the guy who lost because he was an alleged pedophile. His candidacy was in serious trouble before that and he was already on the decline, he was being seriously outspent and right now in the Republican Party there are people who are trying to recruit similar types of candidates in Senate races around the country. This is a recipe for disaster. So, if there's --

COOPER: Non child abusing.

JENNINGS: Sure, but candidates who don't appeal to a broad electorate. So if there's a silver lining. It's this. They shine as bright light on. You cannot follow these kinds of candidacies down to path that destroys your --

COOPER: But Josh, I mean Josh you wrote the book on Bannon. I mean, what happens to Bannon now? What does Bannon argue? I know he's blaming Mitch McConnell.

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a huge embarrassment for Bannon. I mean he went out and jumped in four square behind Roy Moore in a sense Steve Bannon is the guy who nationalized this election because he came and said, look, this is going to be a proxy battle in this war between the hard right nationalists that I represent and the gop GOP establishment that Mitch McConnell represents. And, you know, floor got wiped with his candidate last night. McConnell was the clear victor in that showdown. And I think it does a lot to kind of puncture this aura that Bannon has worked very hard to build up that he has some kind of psychic connection with Trump voters, with the Republican base that he can transfer to other candidates and other Republican primaries and potentially knock of GOP incumbents, eventually McConnell himself.

COOPER: Someone last night in the (INAUDIBLE) panel, I can't remember who it was, maybe some of here said that when you get early into politics, you have to, you know, work on a campaign where the person wins, you start to think that you're the candidate, that you know kind of -- that you have tapped into something and you feel that way until you get slapped down the next time and lose.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that's part of it. I do think that, you know, Karl Rove and I got pretty famous of Bill Clinton. We never spoke at rallies, right? We stayed back behind the scenes and behind the stage. And Bannon not only did he came out, he came out against the president. That is unprecedented. I never saw my friend Karl Rove do that to George W. Bush. Ax's never did that to President Obama. Karl and I never did that to Clinton. This is without precedent that he's taking on the president. Even insulted the president's daughter at a rally, it's extraordinary and it's noteworthy. Maggie understands why.

COOPER: And the president didn't respond.

BEGALA: He didn't respond.

HABERMAN: -- this is the thing. I mean, this idea that -- it's not like people keep saying why is Bannon being allowed to do this, because the president's not saying don't, because the president still taking his phone calls. They spoke yesterday.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But Bannon also has a little bit of a kind of street creed (ph). You know, almost a folk (ph) hero (inaudible) his own right. And so, I think he's a different kind of consultant and that respect. But where I wonder, where was he when the story broke in "The Washington Post"? Why didn't he say to Judge Moore, now you're going to be on national T.V, the spotlights are going to be incredible. Here's what you're going to say. And you're not going to say anything else. Because I think Moore and as much as anything confirmed these women just by the way he reacted.

[21:20:09] COOPER: No, but Moore -- I think, with that night it broke -- if it wasn't the night, it was the next night. He was at the citadel, I think it was, and we carried him live and he was saying, you know, you're going to see things come out about these women, that there's collusion and they were -- you know, he went after the women.


GREEN: He was on the phone with Roy Moore with Sean Hannity trying to arrange a friendly audience for Moore to explain himself. That interview wind up going disastrously for Moore because he essentially bragged about dating teenagers.


GREEN: -- dirty old man, didn't do a lot to help himself.


COOPER: Right.

GREEN: Yes. There's something else going on with Steve Bannon, I think, doesn't get enough attention. I was in a lot of the rallies down in Alabama. When Bannon would come out to speak, he wasn't really speaking about Roy Moore. He was trying to push his ideas about nationalism, about populism, his feud with Bannon and cultivate this image of himself as a folk hero. So this wasn't -- you know, he does it extensible in Trump's name. But what he's really doing is trying to kind of build up his own aura (ph).

SETMAYER: Can I ask you a question, do you think that that's because he's looking at the long game into the midterms assuming that Roy Moore was going to win? That he would be able to point to that and use whatever he thought whatever war he though he was creating so that he can go in with other candidates and primary Republican --

GREEN: I think it's exactly. That's exactly what he was going to do.


GREEN: And it failed.

SETMAYER: Disaster. It was a disaster. Something else I think is interesting about this into Scott's point, candidate recruitment does matter. And Republicans learn this the hard way in 2010 where we had the opportunity to pick up Senate seats in places like Nevada, in places like Delaware. We had horrible Tea Party candidates they were considered back then. But in Sharron Angle and in Christine O'Donnell in Delaware where she actually had to address an execution about being a witch, it was (INAUDIBLE) remember that.

COOPER: We should point out she denied.

SETMAYER: Right. She said I am not a witch, you know, that is as bad as, no, I don't beat my wife, you know, I mean it was a disaster and it was an opportunity where we could -- those two Senate seats are still Democrat. And it's a shame. Are we going to repeat that cycle again? And it looks as someone we should learn that lesson but with Bannon, if he's allowed to have that kind of influence with candidates again, that's going to be a disaster for Republicans.

COOPER: -- Bannon, has he Bannon ever talked about himself running for something?

GREEN: He denies he has any interest in doing that. But as a couple people pointed out, I think, I mean he spent the time since he left the White House barn storming the country, giving public speeches and essentially trying to, you know, build a following for what he says is Trumpism, but it's really Bannonism. I mean Trump showed that the set of ideas he got elected are not the ones he's going to push as president of the United States. He's going more in Mitch McConnell's direction. Bannon has not let go of those ideas, I think, believes that he can push them and by defeating candidates like the ones that Mitch McConnell endorses, ultimately win this battle within the party.

KINGSTON: But remember this. In 1.5 percent of race, on the incredible flawed candidate, he still did fairly well. I mean, when you think about Roy Moore -- would be any candidate's opposition dream the wacky thing he said, not only was he quoted as saying it, but there was tape, videotape of him saying it. And as, you know, everybody knows you really want to kill a candidate in his own words, just rolling his own words back to him. And so, you know, you had that. And then you had the sexual misconduct.

And remember, the last statewide election that Roy Moore ran in, he only won by 52 percent. He' already been --


HABERMAN: One thing, though, to address your point about boot strapping a lot of issues that Bannon brought into this race, what this race ultimately came down to was a litmus (ph) test involving the believability of a lot of women who had accused him of sexual misconduct including child molestation. That is a problem for a president who has been facing his own accusations of sexual misconduct. And that is where -- I'm not sure this was a wise, but forget about the president's own bet on this. What he did for all kind of reasons, but was encouraged by Bannon and by a few other people who believed that this election, if Roy Moore won, it would make it a lot harder for that momentum to kind of sweep up the president and that's (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. When we come back, the scathing message from the "USA Today" editorial board, they say the president is not fit for office after his tweet about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. And believed his words are full of sexual innuendo. We'll speak to one of the "USA Today" editors next.


[21:28:45] COOPER: The president's new Twitter target is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who uncoincidentally started calling for President Trump's resignation over the weekend. Here's the tweet from the leader of the free world, "Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!"

This morning Senator Gillibrand was asked on the "Today Show" whether she interpreted the tweet as a sexual reference that she would trade sexual favors for campaign cash. Here's what she said.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Well, certainly that's how I and many people read it, and it was certainly just a sexist smear intended to silence me. And I'm not going to be silenced on this issue. I heard the testimony of many women, numerous accusers. I believe them. And he should resign for that.


COOPER: In response, the "USA Today" editorial board which is not known for blistering opinion pieces wrote an editorial that includes this line, "A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush." Joining me to discuss is David Mastio, the deputy editorial page editor at "USA Today".

David, the language in this editorial is really searing. I'm wondering why the editorial board felt it important or necessary to write this.

[21:30:06] DAVID MASTIO, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, USA TODAY: I think the main issue was responding to the provocation from Donald Trump. I think we listened to the coverage of what he had said in that tweet all day long and what we heard was euphemism, euphemism not calling out the president on exactly what he really said. And we thought that using plain English making it clear in calling out the president would do a service.

COOPER: Obviously, Sarah Sanders was asked about President Trump's tweet in yesterday's press believing. I just want to play some of that.


APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Senator Gillibrand owed an apology for misunderstand of the president's tweet this morning because many including senator thinks it's about sexual innuendoes.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way, and, so no.


COOPER: It's also an argument that they used -- when I think during the Megyn Kelly comments made by the president. You clearly don't buy that, that it just -- it has nothing to do with sex.

MASTIO: I think it's completely preposterous. When you use -- you can use the same language to a man and same language to a woman, and that means completely different things, everyone knows what Trump meant when he said that Megyn Kelly was bleeding from her whatever. And everyone knew what the president meant when he said that Kirsten Gillibrand was willing to do anything.

COOPER: The editorial went on to say, "With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low." Do you think this is a bottom for him?

MASTIO: I wish. I keep trying to give the president the benefit of the doubt. I would really like to have a successful presidency. I'm an American just like anybody else. And over and over again I thought he's going to start learning. We've thought that he was going to change and turning things around, but it never happens. So I wouldn't put any faith in that.

COOPER: You know, this is not the first editorial that's been very tough on Donald Trump from "USA Today", about a month before the election there was one title "Trump is unfit for the presidency" which was -- really know worthy of the time, because it was the first time the paper's 34 year history that has taken sides in a presidential election. To supporters of the president who say, look, this is, you know, another hatch of job by liberal media. What do you say?

MASTIO: I say that's absolutely not true. We're an editorial board that goes from very conservative members like me to very liberal members. We have a lot of moderates. And we're trying to come from a practical centrist perspective from where the American people are coming from. You know, I grew up in Ohio and Michigan and Nebraska. We're not, you know, an east coast elitist editorial board. We're like every other American. And we're trying to help make the country a better place. And, you know, when we were writing this editorial, we thought just being straight with what exactly the truth was and what was going on would help us get there.

COOPER: David, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MASTIO: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, an emotional moment, Former Vice President Joe Biden comforting Meghan McCain, he father, Senator John McCain, of course, fighting the same brain cancer that Biden son died two years ago. We'll show you the moment ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:37:54] COOPER: A touching moment this morning on ABC's "The View" co-host Meghan McCain, the daughter of Republican Senator John McCain got choked up when she talked to Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, about her father's brain cancer. Biden son, Beau, died the same cancer two years ago. Joe Biden and John McCain have been friends for decades. They served in the Senate together. This morning Biden offered some words of encouragement to McCain's daughter. It's long but it's really worth watching. Take a look.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: I couldn't get through your book. I tried. Your son Beau had the same cancer that my father was diagnosed with six months ago. And it's not great.


MCCAIN: I think about Beau almost every day. And I was told -- sorry -- that this doesn't get easier. But you cultivate the tools to work with this and live with this. I know you and your family have been through tragedy that I couldn't conceive of -- what would you tell people -- it's not about me. It's about everyone --


BIDEN: No, it is about everyone. But look, one of the things that gave Beau courage, my word, was John. Your dad, you may remember when you were a kid, your my dad took care of my Beau. Your dad when he was in (INAUDIBLE) work with me, became friends with Beau. And Beau talked about your dad's courage, not about illness, but about his courage.

And look, there's a lot of things happening. And if any of you have somebody who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is -- by as bad as it gets, there's breakthroughs that are occurring now. There's four things that are going on and -- and it can happen tomorrow, like for example, at the University of Pennsylvania where I teach now, at the Abrahamson Center, what are they found out is a thing called a car T cell, what they do is they take the cells -- your T cells, your immune system cells out of your body and they reinforce it with an antigen. And that does in and that finds the cancer cell, because the cancer cells are going to hide from the -- your immune system. And they had a breakthrough with a new drug dealing with child leukemia. And it's working. There's other things called -- they have what they did with Beau is starting to happen now. They're using this car T cell. And they're using -- the injected virus. And generates into the cancer --

[21:40:21] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there's hope.

BIDEN: So there is hope. And if anybody can make it, your dad -- her dad is one of my best friends.

Her dad -- her dad goes after to me hammer and tong. We're like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers or something because of our points of view. But I know, and I mean it sincerely, and I've said it all, even when your dad got mad at me, said I should get the hell off the ticket.

Do you remember what I said about your dad? I said I know -- and I know mean this is silly, I know if I picked up the phone tonight and called John McCain and said, John, I'm at 2nd and vine in Oshkosh, and I need your help, come, he'd get on a plane and come. And I would for him too. And this is her dad.


COOPER: Senator McCain's office says he's currently hospitalized in Washington getting treatment for normal side effects of his cancer treatment. He looks forward to return in the work as soon as possible. Back now with the panel. We're also joined again by David Gergen.

It is one of those reminders of decency and humanity in the midst of this, you know, the often the horror show of politics today in America today or just decent people who, you know, or the different sides of the aisle but who genuinely like each other.

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely, Anderson. The (INAUDIBLE) in this conversation of what Doug Jones was saying last night in Alabama, the campaign transcended issues. It was much more about decency and a return for civility. There's a hunger for that across the country now.

I was just in Indianapolis today and I can tell you that's what they're talking about. That's what they care about. No matter what side of the aisle they're on.

I think Joe Biden is a particularly good messenger for the Democratic Party in that regard, because he's so human. You know, he's loquacious, he think -- you know, he over talk, he makes mistakes, but he's funny and he's a very warm human being. And I think he's one of the few -- Paul can speak to this, but he's a bridge between the Democratic Party -- a very few people are -- he's a bridge between the moderate and more traditional Democrats and Elizabeth Warren Democrats. I think he does that well.

BEGALA: And by the way, people should read his book, I did.


BEGALA: Called "Promise Me Dad". It's not a political book. He (INAUDIBLE) some policy. Really interesting story about Ukraine, but mostly it's about how a father says goodbye to his son and the son was -- I knew him a bit. He was remarkable guy in his own right. And he walks you through that. And, you know, I'm (INAUDIBLE) Anderson, where bogus (ph) treat and they are finding miracles. The way that he bolstered Meghan McCain in that clip was -- that's Joe Biden, exact same way when the cameras are off and he does that to strangers all the time because he's been so touched by tragedy and now by cancer.

The cancer community and many others -- certainly, military families are drawn to him. And I've seen that in him over and over. I think the book is a terrific book. If I can plug that for a holiday gift, "Promise Me Dad". Anybody who's had to deal with loss, and we all have, anybody who's had to deal with cancer, I spend too much time in cancer wards. It's really a powerful testimony. It is pure Joe Biden.

SETMAYER: What this showed about Joe Biden was something that I think a lot of Democrats missed with Hillary, was his relatability. He's very relatable. That's why they called him Uncle Joe, even in his gaffes, you know. We all know as Republicans we would make fun of Joe Biden as a gaffe machine, and we get a little chuckle out of it, but it made him human and people love that about him.

I have my own experience with the Biden family and they are amazingly wonderful, good and decent people. I may disagree with them on policy and some politics, but you cannot -- I cannot emphasis what good people they actually are and it would have been very interesting if he had gotten into that race. I think that if we -- I look back and I looked at what his favorables were in 2015, and he was the only Democrats that was not under water. Hillary Clinton's favorable versus unfavorable, she was under water, so was Bernie Sanders. But Joe Biden was -- had the highest favorability and I think that there's -- probably some in the Democratic Party that wished he had been the nominee. And to be honest, if it had been Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, I would have had no problem casting a vote for Joe Biden, just out of the fact that he --

[21:44:51] COOPER: I just got to take a quick break. We only have -- we're going to talk about Joe Biden. Joe Biden was asked if would run against President Trump in 2020. His answer and the panel's take on that next.


COOPER: More on Vice President Joe Biden's visit to "The View". He was asked if he'd run against President Trump for 2020. Here is his answer.


BIDEN: I have no intention -- now, I've done nothing at all to put together any kind of operation to run. And as I said, as most of you guys know, no one ever doubts, I mean what I say. The problem is sometimes I say what I mean. If I were offered the nomination by the Lord Almighty right now today, I would say no, because we're not ready, the family is not ready. If in a year from now, if we're ready and no one has moved in then and I think can do it then, I may very well do it, I'm being as honest as can I.


COOPER: And back now the panel. Paul what do you think of Joe Biden running would look like against president?

[21:49:56] BEGALA: I think he's beloved in the Democratic Party. And David is right that he -- there are -- all these factions, it has been -- so far they've united wonderfully in the elections. But they will present their fissure (ph) in 2020. He does seem to be a unifying force. In a way that President Obama was. And I think he would make a hell of a candidate. And, particularly, he is middle class Joe. If you read the book, his political advisor, Mike Donilon, wrote a 20 page memo for him about how you could run, in fact, in the last election cycle. And the heart of it, I'm told, I haven't read the memo. But the heart of memo was, you're middle class Joe, you're fundamental class Joe, fight for the middle class, you'll bring those values to the middle class. You do that, and all of the sudden perhaps you don't lose Pennsylvania where Joe Biden grew up or Michigan or Wisconsin or the White House. I think a lot of Democrats are going to be drawn to Joe Biden.

COOPER: Are you now (ph) showing the photos --


BEGALA: -- into my son at the University of Texas and so, of course, I take a picture with him.

KINGSTON: He was in Savannah, my son Jim.


KINGSTON: -- thought as Republican and you would have thought they were best friends. He quit talking to me. But, you know, I want to say another thing about his character that I think is important. He was one of the few Democrats senators who go to Strom Thurmond's funeral. And at that time there was a big political cost to it. But he went and he stood proudly. Just like he is doing with McCain, it shows decency.

I got to tell you, you know, like anybody in office you have your good days and your bad days. I was at a really tough time on (INAUDIBLE) where not getting a phone call from Max Cleland. Out of the blue, good Democrat, very liberal, we were always on the opposite side of things, he gave me one of the best pep talks I ever had, and you do need more of that in Washington. And you do need more of that in politics today. A guy like Joe Biden doing what he's doing on national T.V. with -- I think it's very important.

COOPER: Maggie.

HABERMAN: He's hopeful. I think that you -- when you saw that, I mean he was using the word. But you saw that when he was talking about McCain. And he and McCain shared the fact that both of them have gone through experiences in their life that are far beyond what anyone should have to endure. And they're both true public servants. And so, when you think of what the criticisms are of the current president, it's never in public service. And there is this element of sort of self-enrichment that he keeps getting criticized for. That's not what Joe Biden does.

I think that all the things, you know, Joe Biden has obviously run for president before, and struggled before, the main issue for Biden, and he talked about, is that he was seen as a gaffe maker. I think politics moves so fast now and Trump has set the bar so far in a certain direction. That I think that he would be able to kind of survive because the news cycle burns so fast and hot and out.

COOPER: They're certainly, I mean age is obviously also something that he would have to consider and voters would consider.

MAGGIE: Trump is 71.

GREEN: It is. And if you look at, for instance, the coalition of Democrats and turning out of election this year, young people, minorities, suburban women (ph), it's not necessarily clear he could appeal to them better than maybe some of the other Democrats could. But what you really could have appeal I think is to Trump voter.

I was in Youngstown, Ohio at a Biden rally during the campaign, speaking to people in a crowd and he said, you know, one of the union guys said to me, they send him here, because they can't send Hillary here, it's OK, because we like him. But I think it spoke to the fact that he reach into that kind of blue collar, white Rustbelt vote, the Democrats have had such a hard time maintaining and maybe pull back some of those voters from Trump.

GERGEN: Yes, I think he would have been a wonderful president I wish he had run and won in the past. I do think -- and I think he's in excellent shape. He keeps (INAUDIBLE) great shape he is. He's a very useful, you know, man at this age. But it's also true within the Democratic Party. There is a desire for new faces, moving ahead, and in country after country around the world right now, people are turning to a younger generation. And I think you have to take Trudeau in Canada, you look at Argentina. You can go --

COOPER: I heard some people said that, you know, if had a young vice president he would only promise to serve one term. I mean, I don't know -- you know, that's the realist --

GERGEN: That's a possibility. But still, I think it's going to be hard, you know. I think he's growing to be a great counselor, whoever -- I mean, ought to be right there at the side of whoever gets the nomination. But I think he's realistic enough to know that age is an issue. And there is this, you know, and you can see it in the House, with the House Democrats.

KINGSTON: But, plus, once you declare your candidacy, all your flaws come out. Everybody points out to you what's wrong with you and so I think that's one other things that --

COOPER: -- the notion of decency, and if somebody sort of carried that as a mantle.


COOPER: I don't know if it can sustain the rough and tumble of a campaign.

SETMAYER: I think -- given that he's been in politics since he was 27 years old. I mean he's been in his entire life. I think that he knows how to handle that. He's been through -- how many, three presidential elections, two as vice president. You know, he's been raked over the coals for other things, the controversies with the, you know, with the plagiarism and different things. And to Maggies point, I wish I was in the (INAUDIBLE) before is that -- that is small potatoes compared to things that we've seen and compared to the flaws of our current president. So, I think Biden, yes, I think he'd have a shot.

[21:55:07] COOPER: All right, thanks everybody. We're going to take a quick break, more news ahead.


COOPER: We're just talking about decency before. This Sunday is one my favorite nights, one of the most inspiring nights of the year. It's time for "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute". I'm going to be co- hosting with my friend Kelly Ripa, honoring people who are really making a difference in improving the world around them in ways large and small. Here's a sneak peek of the night's festivities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are every day heroes. They inspire and change lives every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to make sure that they make better choices when it comes to violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you lose your child, the love doesn't go away, it has to find a place. I'm lucky I found a place to put that love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They truly what it means to be a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is people helping people, the best way we know how.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they see me they always feel happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just give them a chance. They can do anything you ask them to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Sunday night, CNN presents a very special live event. "CNN Heroes: An All-Start Tribute" live Sunday at 8:00 P.M. on CNN.


COOPER: It's a great night. Join Kelly and I. Kelly and me, I should say. Sorry. That does it for us tonight. Very dramatically correct. Thanks for watching.

Time to hand it over to Don Lemon.