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Doug Jones Stunning Senate Win; President Trump Attempts To Minimize Roy Moore's Defeat; Democrats Fired Up By Doug Jones Alabama Victory. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired December 13, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:28] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. We're live with new developments tonight on the political earthquake that shook the country. Democrat Doug Jones winning the Alabama senate race on defeating Republican Roy Moore, and accused child molester. Moore has released a new video statement tonight and we'll bring that to you in just a moment.

Plus, Doug Jones' victory to the senate began as a young man in Alabama court room observing a trial of the ringleader of the Birmingham church bombers. When the sister of one of the victims campaigned for Jones, I'm going to talk to her tonight.

Let us get right to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and CNN contributor Frank Bruni also Time columnist. Good evening, gentlemen. As I said in the opening, Roy Moore is out with this new video message. He still refuses to concede. Let us look at it.


ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA: I want to thank all of you who have stood with me in this very important battle for the future of our country. We are indeed in a struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization and our religion, and it set free a suffering humanity. And the battle rages on. In this race we have not received the final count to include military and provisional ballots. This has been a very close race and we are awaiting certification by the Secretary of State.


LEMON: Secretary of State did an interview last night saying he didn't think that would change anything, but if you want to go through all of this, I mean he certainly doesn't want to seem like he wants to ride off in the sunset on sassy, his horse, does he?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: He is been denying reality in his whole career as a judge and a politician, I must say one thing I fond hard in the races is that this is a time that is so polarized and a time when these enormous accusations against new institutions and debate about whether there are any common facts for the country. I thought this election actually showed that facts do matter. It was because of some tremendous "Washington Post" reporting that was unassailable that changed the outcome of this race. And it showed that for all of these assaults on truth, actually facts do matter, in the same way our national conversation is dominated by similar reporting in the "New York Times" about Harvey Weinstein. Even in 2017 with this polarization, at some level great reporting and facts do matter.

LEMON: Absolutely. You see even as we -- every single day we wonder who is next when it comes to Harvey Weinstein, when it comes to that particular issue. But Frank, let's talk a little bit more about what Nic just said on facts and reporting. You're out with a new column on the Alabama race, and let me read a part of it. You said Alabama supplied a partial answer on Tuesday showing that there are limits to what voters will tolerate in terms of lies, the vices they'll ignore and the distance they'll stray from civilized norms. Moore, an accused child molester who sugarcoated slavery and seemed intent on some sort of extreme Christian theocracy was simply too far. I was reading this in the morning in an airplane, I was exhausted, I wanted to take a nap but I could stop reading your column because I found it fascinating and I think you are right. Was a line drawn last night and what does it mean for President Trump who continues to tweet out inappropriate things?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: It did feel to me like a line was drawn last night. I think most of us lived through this first year and I do mean most Americans have live through this first year of the Trump presidency, and we've seen him behave in office in a way we haven't seen a President behave before. We've seen him act in indecent ways. We've seen him seems to privilege himself and his fellow bureaucrats over everyone else. And we wondered like at what point is there a pushback. What point do we see evidence that Americans are saying we won't stand for that. I think it's so encouraging that pushback came from Alabama, which if you were making a list of the red states in the country, Alabama would be at or near the top of that list. I think this outcome says, yes, Roy Moore was a step too far, but that Roy Moore is a mirror and a sort of proxy for Trumpism as also a step too far. Donald Trump put his political muscle, yes late but he did stood behind his candidacy, it didn't make a difference and I think it's impossible not to see him as pretty seriously diminished by what happened in Alabama.

KRISTOF: Let's also acknowledge that pushback is fairly modest in the sense that what it shows is if you have an unpopular Republican who has a history of molesting 14-year-old girls, then that person may lose a squeaker. But, you know, at the end of the day, white women still voted by 29 percentage points for Moore.

[23:05:11] BRUNI: Doug Jones did better with women than Democrats traditionally do in Alabama, and yes, it's hard to imagine a more unacceptable candidate. But we are talking about a state that went for Donald Trump by 30 points and now went back and look at other senate races, going back almost two decades, almost always the Republicans wins by something like 30 points. It's impossible not to look at that sort of margin and at the fact that Doug Jones won, and say this is about, yes, what a flawed candidate -- flawed is too soft a word for it -- Roy Moore is, but I think it's about things even bigger than that. LEMON: This President doesn't like anything to do with the former

President, not at all. He doesn't like Barack Obama, but they do have something in common. They're both very popular with their bases, but they have trouble turning people out to go vote for candidacy support, they both do. Barack Obama had trouble with Hillary Clinton, now he is had trouble with Roy Moore. He had trouble with Luther Strange, he had trouble with Virginia.

KRISTOF: I think there is still a profound difference there in that basically the problem for President Trump is that he has an institutional -- he does have a real base, but he doesn't institutional that and the Republican Party is completely torn apart by people he brought out, like Steve Bannon. He doesn't have an institutional base to try to carry on his revolution, and I think that is why the last three candidates he is supported have successfully failed. Roy Moore, Luther Strange, Ed Gillespie and it is creating traction for moving this beyond him.

LEMON: We cannot forget Steve Bannon in all of this, because he backed Roy Moore, he was down there campaigning for him. I want you both to listen to Republican Congressman Peter King on what he had to say about Bannon this morning?


PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: This guy does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk and winded on the political stage. He is not representing what I stand for, I consider myself a conservative Republican, and I consider myself an Irish catholic. He sort of parades himself out there with these weird alt- right views that he has, and to me it is demeaning the whole governmental Republican process.


LEMON: My colleague Chris Cuomo said it this morning. He said, those are some fighting words. How big of a hit was last night, that loss to Bannon's nationalism grand, Frank?

BRUNI: A huge, huge hit. It is interesting because I've been hearing for weeks, even months now, from Republicans that Steve Bannon's influence and profile were way overrated, that Steve Bannon has done this expert job partly through the way he looks and personal idiosyncrasies on turning himself into this very prominent media character. Republican had been telling for a while, show the evidence that Steve Bannon can actually make magic happen at the polls. Show me a candidate he has truly made and not just grafted himself onto midcourse. And now Moore is such a candidate. Moore is a candidate that obviously existed before Bannon, but Bannon got on the Moore train early, he was down there speaking in a very fiery way on Moore's behalf, and it did not work out. I think you're going to see more and more Republicans in the Party say, wait a second, we should not be terrified by Steve Bannon, and we should be simply defying Steve Bannon or ignoring him.

LEMON: Nic as somebody playing, I was asking you if we put too much stock in this Bannon character and his (inaudible).

KRISTOF: Yes. I frankly think that we in the media maybe over inflated him, and now he is deflating. I do think while his power to build is limited that he does have some power to destroy and that by supporting some very far right candidates in primaries, he may tug some candidates to the right and make them less competitive in general elections in 2018.

LEMON: Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the President's sharpest critics at times, but he also stands by him as well, he tweeted this about last night's race. He said, when it comes to Alabama politics, Steve Bannon should have followed President Donald Trump's lead in supporting Luther Strange. Trump's instincts on the Alabama race prove to be correct. It was last night -- it was only last night that Senator Lindsey Graham and Roy Moore they were on a no-fly list for a mall, right? He said that. He goes, I don't think you're the right character or something when you're on the no-fly list for a mall.

KRISTOF: Lindsey Graham was quite critical in the past, but in the last few months, I think he is really come around in describing -- I thought the takeaway this week was saying President Trump's instincts were essentially right and I thought that was more flattery than analysis.

[23:10:00] LEMON: It is interesting all along, because I thought that is what the President might say about -- Frank, about strange when he lost. Or about Roy Moore, saying, listen, I'm the one who backed Strange and then finally after the election, he said -- he didn't say it when Roy Moore was out there campaigning. He said that after the election he tried to distance himself. That came pretty quick, like almost immediately.

BRUNI: Yes, but his statements are all over the place. If you remember, after strange lost, he was enraged at the congressional leaders who had said you have to get behind this guy, and he felt betrayed by that, and now he is saying, hey, I said all along we should have done Strange. Donald Trump says what he needs to in the moment to appear invincible to kind of perpetuate his illusion of infallibility. He'll be saying something different tomorrow and something different a week from now.

LEMON: Yes he was like this morning, Roy who? Thank you guys, I appreciate it. Doug Jones incredible journey to the U.S. senate began 40 years ago as a law student, the trial, the KKK member who bombed a Birmingham church shaped his political career decades later. When we come back, you'll meet the sister of a girl who lost her life in that bombing and hear what compelled her to campaign for Jones.


LEMON: I want you to sit down and listen to this. It's really important that you pay attention. In last night's historic special senate election, the importance of black voters cannot be over stated.

[23:15:02] Doug Jones victory was stunning, but if you look into the state's history, and the state's history, there is an explanation of how a white man in the segregated south pulled off this upset at 11:00 Sunday morning. It was on September 15, 1963. Birmingham's historic 16th street Baptist church. Worship was just about to start. Five young girls are putting on choir robes in the church basement. That is when a bomb under the front steps of the church detonates, killing four of those little young girls. Denise McNairy, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. The fifth girl Sarah Jane Collins loses an eye. The outrage a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement.

Several members of the Ku Klux Klan bragged about their role in the bombing, but there were no charges filed, no indictments, no arrests, until seven years after those young girls were killed. Alabama's incoming Attorney General go back and reopens the case. He begins a dogged investigation. He receives numerous threats, one from a white supremacist calling him, among other things, a traitor to his race. He writes back this. He says, dear Dr. Fields, my response to your letter of February 19, 1976 is -- kiss my ass. The investigation pays off. In 1977 he wins the conviction against the bombing's ringleader, Robert Chandless, but the accomplice remains at large. A young law school student is so mesmerized by the trial, he skips classes to be in the courtroom. Decades later he recalls the closing argument which put Chandless behind bars for life.

What does all of this have to do with Doug Jones? Well that young man playing hooky from law school is Alabama's incoming Senator Doug Jones on his way to making history as U.S. senator. He helped write one of history's most egregious wrongs, and after pulling off an upset last night, he said prosecuting the two Klansmen bombers is the most important thing he has ever done, bringing justice to men living freely for all these years. That brings us to another moment where history intersected last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will be the next United States Senator from Alabama. He beats Roy Moore in this really, really exciting contest. Doug Jones comes from behind, takes the lead and he will be the next Senator. 25 years since a Democrat has won.


Lisa McNair who is sister of Denise was one of those little girl murdered for no reason, because of the color of her skin is at Doug Jones campaign headquarters when the race is called. She thinks, thank god. God has not forgotten about us. It's going to be ok. I know she thinks that because she joins us now and we are going to talk about it. Lisa, so good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us. How you doing?


LEMON: Why do you think god had forgotten about you?

MCNAIR: I don't think god ever really forgets about us, but sometimes we do feel that way, when we don't see him or hear him for long periods of time.

LEMON: You know, a lot of people know this story and a lot of people don't know the story about last night, but as I was reading it, you can't help but become emotional and then you realize how that whole thing came full circle. And if you don't believe there is a god, this story will certainly make you know that there is one. You told my producer that you just knew Doug Jones was going to win, that you felt it in your spirit and your soul. So tell me what you were feeling last night when he indeed did win.

MCNAIR: Oh, it was just confirmation for what I was feeling and what I have believed for, you know, several weeks now. I was watching the campaign and watching how hard they worked, and how committed they were, and the time and the energy and effort, you know. People from all over were putting in, sacrificing, losing sleep, and just putting in the work. That is really what it takes.

LEMON: When you heard --

MCNAIR: I just felt like --

LEMON: I'm sorry, there is a delay. Go on and finish your statement, please.

MCNAIR: I just felt like god couldn't let us lose this one. It just was too important. It just would put everybody's mind back where they were back in the '50s and the '60s. And that was so painful. I just felt like we've come so much further. People in Birmingham and Alabama are so much better than that. And surely we have started to learn from the lessons of that time and don't want to go back to that time.

[23:20:01] LEMON: How did it make you feel when you heard someone like Roy Moore saying that Doug Jones was soft on crime, considering what he did when it came to the church bombings, and saying that he had no connection to the black community?

MCNAIR: He obviously didn't know what he was talking about. That is all I can say. Because those are facts, that Doug does have a connection to the black community, and he was a U.S. Attorney, and he prosecuted the bombers, so that was just his -- he did not have the facts.

LEMON: Your father was a state legislator in Alabama, and he knew Doug Jones when he was first starting out. Jones has since become close with you and your family. What kind of a Senator do you think he is going to be?

MCNAIR: He is going to be amazing. It's going to be awesome because Doug is very tenacious, and he is very smart, and he is very fair. You know, I often think of -- and he is compassionate. I often think of the day when the last bomber was convicted and the verdict came in, and I remember the feelings I felt and how I was just crying and so consumed with tears and gratefulness that, you know, the bomber -- the killer was going to be -- go to jail. And then suddenly I decided I need to look up at the lawyers that were at the table, Doug and the other team, and they were also weeping. It wasn't just a little tear, they were weeping. For me that let me know that it meant as much to them to convict them as it did to the families. And I will never forget that. So he is a man of compassion.

LEMON: According to the exit polls, 98 percent of black women who cast ballots voted for Jones, 93 percent of black men -- the black women of Alabama are really a force to be reckoned with right now. I'm wondering if you think that African-American women have been underestimated. Because if you watch the news reports, if you watch all the news reports, they interviewed a lot of Roy Moore -- even here on CNN, we interviewed a lot of Roy Moore supporters who were talking about why they liked him, why they weren't going to change their votes. But you didn't see a lot of African-Americans, and especially women, who really made a difference in this election.

MCNAIR: Well, I think sometimes we're often underestimated, but we're always -- we have always been a force in this world and in this country. The black woman is amazing. She has to take care of her family, she has to take care of herself. I have to take care of my aging parents. And you have to do it with a smile on your face and keep on pushing. For decades and centuries. And we have always been that way, and we're going to continue to be that way. We're a force.

LEMON: And you carried a black man on your back for a long time as well, and don't think that goes unrecognized. Thank you, Lisa.

MCNAIR: Thank you.

LEMON: Best of luck to you.

MCNAIR: Thank you very much.

LEMON: When we come back I'll be joined by a Democrat representative from Texas who is challenging Ted Cruz for his seat in the senate. After a big upset in Alabama, can a Dem win in Texas?


[23:27:24] LEMON: Doug Jones stunning victory over Roy Moore in Alabama, one of the reddest states in the country, giving new fire today. The Democrats are hoping to take the senate back from Republicans. One of those is Congressman Beto O'Rourke he is a Democrats who is challenging Senator Ted Cruz a Texas Republican and he joins me now. Good evening congressman, thank you so much, I appreciate you joining us. You're trying to seize the moment from last night's epic Republican loss. You sent out a fundraising to your supporters saying, next, Texas 2018. And you write, if you weren't sure our campaign to take on Ted Cruz is possible, you have to know it is now. Why do you think Texas is next?

BETO O'ROURKE, (D) TEXAS: You know, I'm a lifelong Texan fourth generation. I've been traveling this state for the last year listening to people all over. Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El pass o, and the places you would expect to see a Democrat. But importantly apparently in Nacogdoches, everyone wants something better for our state. And they are willing to work for it and committed to it and they are coming out in record numbers to our town halls, to our rallies and it helped us out raise Ted Cruz, the sitting U.S. Senator. We raised more than half a million more than Ted Cruz and not a dime of it came from PACS or corporations or special interests, just people from the lion's share from Texas.

LEMON: He is deeply popular. I mean even in traditional Republican Texas. Why do you think the time is right to defeat him now?

O'ROURKE: By contrast with Alabama, Roy Moore, a known child predator, had a 41 percent favorability rating in Alabama. Ted Cruz in Texas has a 38 percent favorability rating. Hillary Clinton lost Texas by 9 percent. She lost Alabama by 28 percent. All 36 congressional districts in Texas today have a Democratic challenger. It's the first time in 25 years. Our state is waking up. Folks know that everything they care about and what they want in their lives for their kids is on the line right now. They're getting off the sidelines and in the game and making something wonderful happen for Texas and some critically important for the United States. It's a really exciting time to be a Texan.

LEMON: Listen, I've got to push back a little bit because there are critics who say you shouldn't read too much into the Doug Jones winning, that this race was an anomaly, because of the kind of candidate Roy Moore was. What's your response to them?

O'ROURKE: I point them to these favorability rating. Ted Cruz in Texas has a 38 percent favorability rating. This is a state, Texas that is turning Democratic faster than almost any state in the union. I think only California is going Democratic more quickly than Texas is. I know it from being on the ground, holding these town halls all across the state of Texas. It doesn't matter whether folks are Democrats or Republican or independent, they are coming out, and it's like the schoolteacher in Henrietta, Texas, a Republican. She said, if you let Betsy DeVos take my hard-earned public tax dollars out of my public classroom and send it to a private school in the form of a voucher, I'm going to come after you. I have to remind you Ted Cruz was the 51st vote to confirm Betsy DeVos. The senate seat matters, when you have someone who supports Betsy DeVos or Jeff Matier who called transgender children part of Satan's plan, who believes in conversion therapy, who even Senator Grassley disavowed.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Listen, I understand all of that. That is something Texas will have to deal with. Let's stick to the comparisons here, and especially for our nationwide audience. You have to look at the demographics of Alabama. I'm not sure if Texas has the same demographics, but African-American voters made up 29 percent of the vote in Alabama yesterday with 98 percent of black women, 93 percent of black men casting their ballots for Doug Jones. So what lessons do you think should Democrats take from this when it comes to minority voters not only in Texas, but around the country?

O'ROURKE: It means that everyone is important, and we can't write anybody off, or importantly, take anyone for granted. Texas is a state that is 41 percent Hispanic. We have to be within every community and within the communities of our communities. It means that when I'm in Houston I'm also in the fifth ward. I'm in cashmere garden. I'm in Greens point. I'm in the places that typically people who are in position as a public trust don't go to be held accountable and to listen to those that they want to represent and to serve. When we show up and listen and we reflect what we learn on the campaign trail, then we ever the chance to earn the votes of those we want to represent. People have a reason to turn out. So whether you are black, Mexican-American, Anglo in Texas, I want to represent you, and I'm coming to your community to listen to you and hear what you think is most important for Texas and this country in your own voice. And then to turn around and make sure I'm campaigning on that. And once in the senate, serving you and being accountable to you. That is the difference between how I campaign and how I serve and how Ted Cruz campaigns and how he has failed to serve the people of Texas.

LEMON: Congressman Beto O'Rourke, thanks you so much.

O'ROURKE: Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it.

LEMON: Let's bring in now CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzalez. Nathan, thank you for joining us after last night there will be a lot of candidates with dreams of doing the impossible now. Randy Brice is a retired steelworker in Wisconsin he is running against House Speaker Paul Ryan. He tweeted this out. In close to 24 hours since Doug Jones' victory, our campaign has raised nearly $50,000. This is what a wave looks like. Help us reach our $50,000 goal to send a message serve around the country. You said to serve someone who is already a U.S. Senator is an uphill battle. Talk to us about that.

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Everyone is going to say, I'm the next Doug Jones. The challenge is no one is going to get to run against Roy Moore. The Congressman, he makes a compelling case, right, that Texas was closer than Alabama at the Presidential level in 2016, so look what's possible. But I think there is some key differences. The first one is that Roy Moore factor. Ted Cruz is polarizing. Even within his own Party you can find plenty of Republicans in Washington and Texas that don't like him. At the end of the day, this is going to be a binary choice, and those Republicans who don't like Ted Cruz's strategy, they don't want Chuck Schumer to be majority leader. Also financially this is going to be tough for the congressman as well. For the rest of Texas he has to introduce himself before Republicans introduce him in their own way and that is going to take money. In the Alabama race, Doug Jones outspent Roy Moore at least 5-1 on television. That is not going to happen in this U.S. senate race or other senate races. Democrats are not going to have that big financial advantage. Then from a macro level, I think the Congressman would need outside help from Democratic groups, but those Democratic groups are going to be focused on the large number, maybe 10, maybe 12 Democratic Senators up for reelection. They want to defend those incumbents first, then they move to challenge races, and it remains to be seen whether there will be enough money left to do that.

[23:35:03] LEMON: Democrats are riding this wave of excitement. What can they do to keep this momentum? Can they?

GONZALES: The next election is three months from tonight in Pennsylvania's 18th district. That is a western Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump carried. Democrats in Washington are trying to downplay it and say, it's not going to be a big deal. What we know about these special elections so far is that Republicans manage to make them more difficult than they're supposed to be. They end up closer and getting more attention even if they end up winning them. Democrats, I think they have to keep getting strong candidates in places where they don't have them yet, and they have to keep raising money in order to use that money later on next year when they're actually trying to deliver specific messages to voters.

LEMON: Nathan, thank you. I appreciate your time.

GONZALES: No problem.

LEMON: When we come back, the President parading middle class families out to talk up his tax plan today. What could those families ultimately be hurt by the plan, everything you need to know about how the tax plan will hit your wallet, next.


[23:40:09] LEMON: House and senate negotiators striking a tentative deal on a tax cut bill. President Trump anxious to have the legislation on his desk, saying it's now just days away.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a candidate, I promised we would pass a massive tax cut for the everyday working American families who are the backbone and the heartbeat of our country. We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas, and when I say giant, I mean giant.



LEMON: When he does that thing, it's always -- I want to bring in house CNN global economics analyst Rana Foroohar and CNN economics analyst Stephen Moore, the former economic adviser to the Trump campaign. Thank you Stephen.


LEMON: I'm going to Rama first. The President says this deal is a giant tax cut for Christmas to the American people. What do you say to that?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: I think that was an incredibly cynical statement. I mean, this tax bill is about a big corporate tax cut, taking the corporate rate down from 35 percent to 21 percent which, by the way, it has to be said is basically what large corporations are paying right now, ok? So this is not some kind of a big, amazing deal that is going to create jobs. And by the way, and Steve and I have this conversation regularly, tax cuts haven't created job growth in this country in 20 years under either administration. In 2001, in 2003 under Bush and later under President Obama, they did not. There are things going on in the economy right now that can't be fixed just by cutting taxes. It is hard work, and I think what the President is doing is very cynical, really.

LEMON: So magically maybe it will do it this time, Steven. Is that what's happening?

MOORE: Well, look, I think the history of tax cuts, I've written books about this. Remember, Don, we had this conversation last week with that historian who said tax cuts have never worked. Look at the 1920s, the roaring '20s and the '60s. John F. Kennedy talked about how cutting taxes will help the middle class. We saw in my lifetime what happened in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan.

LEMON: Even in the '80s, it was a different economy.

MOORE: No question about it, the economy balances and changes. We're in a global economy now. We used to be able to get away with charging 35 percent for our corporations, because we weren't competing in the global economy we are today. Now we're competing with China, Japan, Germany, Mexico and Canada. The goal of this, and as you know, Don, I was involved with this in the beginning with Donald Trump, is to make American companies as competitive as possible so we can beat the pants off the Chinese and other countries that have been stealing our jobs. I think this will be good for the economy. By the way, you have to admit, Don, the economy over the last 12 months have been amazing and the stock market is booming.

LEMON: This current President should be saying, thank you, President Obama.

MOORE: Thank you, President Obama, for not being President anymore.

LEMON: For getting us out of a recession and handing a really good job market and economy to this current President.

MOORE: Don, the economy is growing 1.5 percent in Barack Obama's last year in office and now it's growing really fast. I think if we get this tax cut done we'll see a 4 percent gain in 2018.

FOROOHAR: We're nearly in the tenth year of a recovery cycle. Typically recoveries last somewhere between 8 and 11 is years. We're actually due for a recession. What the Trump plan is doing, what the Republicans are doing is throwing kerosene on alter heated market, this money is going to go straight in the back of the stock market, companies are going to buy up their own shares. It's not going to not create jobs on Main Street, it's not going to create jobs in the communities the President has been talking up. Also, I want to go to Stephen's point about the global economy, and it's true. We're living in a global economy, American companies have to compete. But we had a little exercise in the idea of what happens when you cut tax rates and try to get money from abroad and tax havens to come back and be reinvested. It doesn't go onto Main Street, it goes into the stock market and does not help average people. That is what going to happen this time, we're going to end up with Wall Street and Main Street being more divided than they are now. LEMON: All right. This conversation will continue. Thank you both.

When we come right back, the strategy behind the Republican rush to pass this tax bill. Polls show the bill is incredibly unpopular. Shouldn't Republican rethink passing a bill Americans don't want?


[23:48:45] LEMON: Republican leaders in congress vowing to get the tax bill to the President's desk for his signature by Christmas. Joining me now to discuss, CNN contributor Maria Cardona a Democratic strategist and political commentator Ed Martin the author "The conservative case for Trump." Hello to both of you. Maria, I'm going to start with you. Republicans in the house and senate, they've reached a deal on their tax bill. Is there even more pressure to pass this bill now, do you think?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, absolutely. After the huge loss that they suffered last night, I think that they're in a position where they desperately need to show that they can do anything. They haven't had any legislative wins other than the Supreme Court justice, and they are desperate to show their base that congress can do something and that Trump, as President of the United States, who made so many promises on the campaign trail, can actually deliver something, since he has seen more than three losses legislatively this year, which have been politically damaging to him and his brand. The problem, though, moving forward is that this is an incredibly unpopular bill pushed by an incredibly unpopular President, and after last night, and after the elections in November, Americans are rethinking Republicans, period, so Republicans should be rethinking this bill.

[23:50:05] LEMON: I haven't seen this happy in a long time. I see all of that, the smile on your face, Maria. I wonder what happened yesterday.

CARDONA: Yes, I don't know.

LEMON: Ed, Chuck Schumer is calling Republican to delay the vote on their attacks to reform legislation until after newly elected senator takes office. Here is what he said.


CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It would be wrong for senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected Senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote.


LEMON: So if they did that with Jones in the senate they have a 51- member majority only. Is waiting the right thing to do?

ED MARTIN, AUTHOR, THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR TRUMP: I mean I don't know. When Chuck Schumer's calling for civility, it makes me smile. Maria and I actually agree on this. They want to jam it through --

LEMON: No, I said is waiting the right thing to do?

MARTIN: I don't know if it's the right thing to do. They didn't wait on Obamacare. It depends on what your view point. What I think is a bigger problem for Republicans when Donald Trump sells this bill as a tax cut like he did today. I think people in country, especially conservatives will agree, get competitive with China but you look at the details as Maria said, they start to come out and it looks like a swampy mess and I think it's going to be ugly for Republicans to defend and actually I think it is part of me thinks it's really dumb, because it's not what we need right now. I think we need border security, we need - you know I'd raise taxes on imports, things like that, but we will see what happens.

LEMON: What about infrastructure over building a wall?

MARTIN: Do the wall first and then do the roads. I am for infrastructures too, I think there's a fight right now in the Republican Party that looks like the establishment is winning, because they want things like tax reform and Trump didn't run on tax reform. He ran on something different. So some of us are nervous the President is being co-opted to some of the swampy ideas. But he sells it better than most, honestly. Especially the competitiveness.

LEMON: Maria, build a wall before tackling the nation's infrastructure?

CARDONA: Yes, I mean, you know again this underscores just how ridiculous and upside down the GOP's and Trump's priorities are. And you can see that in this tax bill where in the tax bill -- and I'm glad that Ed and I agree on this. It's a huge wet kiss to millionaires and billionaires and wealthy corporations. It's interesting the Republicans say the economy is going gang busters. Yes, it is. Thank you, President Obama. So why are we so desperate to give millionaires and billionaires a tax cut?

LEMON: I don't understand why, -- maybe I do. Why the folks won't admit the economy was doing well under President Obama. That he had the worst recession since the great depression was coming out of that. I just keep wondering this presidency as he was handed the mess, if he had been handed the economy that Barack Obama -- this is facts. I wonder if he would be crying -- can you imagine? I want to get back to Chuck Schumer. This is a valid point. Schumer did site the 2010 special senate election and Republican Scott Brown won. And as a president, because Democrats agreed back then to postpone their vote on the affordable care act until brown could be seated. Do you think Republicans will do the same here, Maria?

CARDONA: Absolutely not.

LEMON: Is that why Ed wouldn't answer?

CARDONA: Yes, I do think that is why Ed wouldn't answer. I know they won't do it. They've already said they're not going to do it because they're scared to have the American people have more time to look at exactly what's in this tax bill and it will become even more unpopular than it is now. Don if this tax bill passes it will be the most deeply unpopular piece of legislation that has passed in three decades.

LEMON: I think Ed agrees with you on that. Do you think the GOP should be rethinking this? Quickly. On this specific point.

MARTIN: Yes, I sure do. I think they need to think about it lot, about what happened yesterday and wonder if it's going to be the right thing. But I think there's a lot of people wanting it and are going to push it through. So let us see what happens.

LEMON: We are out of time. Thank you both, I appreciate it. We will be right back.

CARDONA: Thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks Don.


[23:58:35] LEMON: This weekend don't miss a very special live event. The 11th Annual CNN heroes an All-Star Tribute. The ceremony where the 2017 CNN hero of the year will be revealed as co-hosted by our very own Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are every day heroes. They if spire 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 are truly what it means to be a hero.

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


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.



COOPER: Join us live for CNN heroes an all-star tribute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN Heroes an All-Star Tribute live Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on CNN. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And it's always a great night and the heroes are always great and special. They contribute to the world. Thank god that song is good because I hear it over and over. I hear it in my sleep. I love that song. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.