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Conor Lamb Declares Win In PA House Elections, Stephen Hawking Has Died. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired March 14, 2018 - 1:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT: This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon, 1:00 a.m. on the East Coast. Live with breaking news, Democratic, Conor Lamb declaring victory in the special congressional race in Pennsylvania, but this race is really just too close to call until every single vote is counted.
We expect to get results from Washington county's absentee ballots sometime tonight, so continue to follow. It is a nail-biter. I want to get right to CNN's Jason Carroll. He is at Lamb headquarters, and back with me, Van Jones and Steve Cortes.
Okay, so Jason, you first. Talk to me about this close race, this nail-biter, but minutes ago, you're at Lamb headquarters. He came out, he declared victory. I mean, we expect, he may get more outstanding votes even tonight, but he's confident.
JASON CARROLL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, the campaign -- well, Don, the campaign feels confident that they have the votes, that the math is in their favor. They waited and debated for some time before finally coming out and Conor Lamb declaring victory.
He did his part to talk about the nature of his campaign, called it a grassroots campaign. He thanked the labor community, which the campaign really has felt all along has really given them a boost throughout this campaign season.
And he also talked about the need for the political climate to change. He talked about that, saying people are tired of the shouting on TV. He said, "Especially in politics," he said, "Our job is to attack the problems, not each other."
The crowd obviously loved it. It's been a nail-biter all night long. In the beginning, Conor Lamb enjoyed what some thought was a comfortable lead and throughout the night and into the early morning, we saw that lead erode.
Throughout the night, though, the campaign has been checking in with him from point to point, felt fairly confident throughout the evening that the numbers were going to weigh in their favor. That's why by the end of the night and early into this morning, Conor Lamb has once again come out and declared victory.
Rick Saccone for his part says, this race is not over. They believe once all of those final absentee ballots are counted, things will end up weighing in the Saccone camp, in the Saccone corner, but as for now Conor Lamb is saying the time now has come for Democrats to regain their voice. They feel as though they've been able to do some of that tonight, Don?
LEMON: Jason Carroll at Lamb headquarters. Van Jones, Lamb basically ran through as a Republican light. There's not much daylight between policies even though is one a Democrat and one is a Republican. What is the lesson for Democrats here?
VAN JONES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I think Democrats have to release a certain kind of ideological stranglehold on people who want to run in districts that are not like the districts, you know, in New York and California.
New York and California, you know, I've got roots in both places, love them to death, but I also grew up in the rural south in a red state and you just can't have the same kind of litmus test in Birmingham that you have in Berkeley and you've got to be willing to back and to support candidates who can actually win in parts of the country.
Listen, it's very hard to remember, Don, this country is so big we have three different time zones. It is as big as a continent. You've got to let people be able to raise money and run and get support even if they don't agree with every single part of the liberal agenda.
And I'll tell you what, that is going to happen. People keep thinking that in some of these districts, we've got to be able to run you know, left-wing folks like some of the people who they love to beat up on.
But here's the reality, people are smart locally and you're going to have a lot of smart local Democrats who are going to learn from this and they're going to put the right people forward.
The Republicans are not going to have it as easy this time because people know we're going to put up a big fight.
LEMON: Four different time zones. I mean, that's big. You said three. There's four and if you count Hawaii, there's five. So, you know, it is a very big country.
Listen, I want to mark that because I do want to talk about at some point with my panel here in the studio about this litmus test that Democrats have had for such a long time for their candidates and maybe things will change when it comes to this.
Steve, what do you think this race came down to? Was it a referendum on Trump or was it more than just that?
STEVE CORTES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: You know, I think to quote Tip O'Neill, all politics I think is local. And this was a local race with a very good candidate in Conor Lamb and I think a lackluster candidate, to be honest, in Saccone. I think the lesson to try to draw comparisons to Trump is that Saccone is not Trump. To his discredit and Lamb to his credit is not Hillary Clinton. He's much, much better than Hillary Clinton. That's why there's a different dynamic here, but I will you also say this, on a national basis -- and I agree with Van, I think the Democratic Party is probably getting smarter. It needs to, by the way, I mean, frankly, it's been it's been on its heels for the better part of a decade, lost for instance 1,000 state legislator seats under the tenure of Barack Obama, I think by relying too much on hard left policies.
So, it seems to me like the party is starting to find its footing and is going to tolerate more ideological diversity, people like Conor Lamb, that smart, but in terms of connecting it to Trump, when you're now talking about a national race within the Democratic Party, within the...
SANCHEZ: ... national primary, I don't think there's any way somebody like Conor Lamb, somebody of that ilk, can win the nomination, for instance, for 2020 for the presidency.
So, there I believe you are going to have an Elizabeth Warren or a Kamala Harris or somebody who is hard left taking on the President for re-election in 2020 and I think the results will be like 2016.
LEMON: You think, Van that we're going to see more Democrats running as Republican lights from now on?
JONES: Listen, we're calling them Republican lights, but basically what we're actually talking about is people who fit their district.
You know, that's something I think is important for us to...
LEMON: Or moderate.
JONES: ... so I think you are going to -- it has to be more moderate people, you know, right now the energy in both parties is on the wings. The right wing, the populist wing of the Republican Party has most of the energy.
The left wing of our party has most of the energy, but that doesn't mean that in every district everywhere, those candidates are going to be able to be successful, and so you're going to have that.
But you know, when you say a Kamala Harris is hard left, I mean, that's part of what you're going to see also. I think you're going to have some people who Republicans want to write off because maybe they're from California.
Kamala Harris is going to have a great deal of appeal. She's a former prosecutor. She's no shrinking violet or ultra-lefty at all. We've got some candidates, but I think when you're talking about 2020, but let's talk about 2018.
In 2018, you've got a Democratic Party that wants to win, and it's going to want to make sure that there is a counterbalance to Donald Trump in the Congress. Congress has been delinquent in holding him accountable, and people are going to -- I tell you what, these tweets every day and being depressed and stressed out every day by Donald Trump tends to focus the mind into being much a much smarter Democratic Party in 2018 than you had in 2016.
LEMON: And focus of ballot too, focus of ballot. Listen, I've got to run. Thank you both. I appreciate it. I want to bring back Mark Preston now, Bakari Sellers, Amanda Carpenter and Scott Jennings.
So, listen, Bakari didn't get to speak last time. So, what do you think, Bakari?
AMANDA CARPENTER, AMERICAN AUTHOR, POLITICAL ADVISOR, AND SPEECHWRITER: I think Bakari is very happy tonight.
BAKARI SELLERS, AMERICAN POLITICIAN AND ATTORNEY: Listen, let me go around, I have a lot of thoughts. I want to start first with Mark Preston earlier today. He regurgitated a comment that was made by Barack Obama about clinging to your guns and your bibles, but he failed to acknowledge the fact that Barack Obama won Pennsylvania twice and as Amanda pointed out in the break, he won actually won union households as well.
The reason I bring that up is because it goes to a deeper point. The fact that what Conor Lamb did was -- and I hate to refute not just you, Don, but also Van and the other gentleman, but there wasn't anything Republican light.
In fact, what Conor Lamb did was he ran to the base and the heartbeat of what the Democratic Party was. I mean, this is somebody who ran on protecting the ACA and health care for all individuals. This is somebody who talked about the fundamental inequalities of the tax bill that was just passed, but even more importantly, he went out there and harnessed the energy amongst union households which many people believe to be the backbone of the Democratic Party.
LEMON: That was my point is that he -- what the Democratic -- well, you just used to be.
SELLERS: And it's not...
LEMON: And union workers and blue-collar workers. That's what I meant.
CARPENTER: But isn't the union workers just coming back home to the Democrats after Hillary failed to...
SELLERS: Correct, and that's what we're seeing. It's not as if they have been gone for it for two decades. I mean, they just left...
CARPENTER: They didn't let Hillary...
SELLER: They just had a hiccup and they didn't vote in the same numbers that they voted for Barack Obama. The last thing, and let me just point this out because -- what is his name again? Steve...
LEMON: Steve Cortes. SELLERS: What Steve said -- Steve said that we have a bunch of old
social justice warriors and we're moving away from what Conor Lamb is. The fact is this. The Democratic Party has to be both, because what Doug Jones was, was a social justice worker.
What Conor Lamb is, he's somebody who's very pro-union, going out there, and they can win in their respective districts.
CARPENTER: But you know what? Both Doug Jones and Conor Lamb, were, they weren't anti-Trump zealots. You didn't see them out lighting their hair on fire about Trump. I think they intuitively knew the anti-Trump momentum was there on the ground and they didn't have to push the envelope. Democrats...
LEMON: They just had to talk about it.
CARPENTER: Yes, they have been very smart...
LEMON: They ran on policy.
CARPENTER: ... and disciplined about that and while the unions had been on the ground organizing which you know, we have to talk about what is happening with the unions, what happened in West Virginia with the teachers strike. They're getting organized in places like Oklahoma, Kentucky, red states where unions have a big presence.
Republicans better be on the lookout.
LEMON: I do have to say this before I let you get in. I mean, listen, but Doug Jones can win, or whatever, but we have to remember, there was a Roy Moore factor to this...
CARPENTER: Sure, but he didn't overplay it and make it about Trump. He was very smart and disciplined and I think Democrats are getting smart on that.
LEMON: Go ahead.
SCOTT JENNINGS, UNITED STATES POLITICAL APPOINTEE IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF GEORGE W. BUSH: You know what's interesting about Mark bringing up the clinging to your guns and religion, that's exactly what Conor Lamb did. Literally, he was clinging to an AR-15 in the first ad that he ran in this race.
So, he was actually running the kind of race that Republicans are being accused of running by Barack Obama. Barack Obama didn't win this district. McCain won it. Romney won it as has been pointed out by all of these Democratic strategists.
JENNNIGS: ... a special election, Lamb was not subjected to having to run in a Democratic primary. He was chosen at party level, but he can't run an ad shooting an AR-15 and win a Democratic primary. SELLERS: Why not? Jason Kandor did. Jason Kandor won a state-
JENNINGS: And in a world where there's resistance is dominating...
SELLERS: This is...
JENNINGS: I am saying this situation set up for Lamb, but it would have been different and in order had it been a primer.
SELLERS: First of all, he's a military hero.
JENNINGS: So, your advice to Democratic candidates is to shoot guns in Democratic primaries?
SELLERS: If you're a military hero and you know how to handle a gun. I mean, the problem with this is that Republicans are going to find every single excuse. I mean, you said here earlier today and said Saccone was a bad candidate. Compared to what? Yes, I mean, what is he a bad candidate -- what did he not do right?
CARPENTER: Well, listen, I disagree with that...
JENNINGS: There's three reasons.
CARPENTER: Well, that's not a -- that will now be boring...
LEMON: Time out. Time out.
SELLERS: He did not raise money. You want to know why that's a red herring? Because Republicans, not just this campaign but special interest groups, they outspent Conor Lamb. So, however much money he raised, the Republican Party spent more money in this race than the Democratic Party.
CARPENTER: They have a lot of money.
JENNINGS: I never stated otherwise, but candidate to candidate...
SELLERS: Lamb spent almost $2 million.
JENNINGS: But candidate to candidate, Saccone was far lazier. He got outworked by Conor Lamb. I am not disputing that. I mean, that's a fact.
CARPENTER: But, I agree with the card in this. I don't think Rick Saccone was the worst candidate. If he was boring, well, guess what? There's a ton of Republican candidates who are boring... JENNINGS: He was the local...
CARPENTER: ... that don't have the benefit of being in a district with 20 points. Why is there a boring Republican in the districts that's plus 2%, plus five, plus 10. You're dead.
JENNINGS: The local people will tell you of the three people seeking the nomination, he was by far the worst of the three. So, compared to what? Compared to the other people who wanted to run.
CARPENTER: But he was -- down the line, a pretty reliable Republican...
JENNINGS: Get away from Lamb.
SELLERS: You're right. This is a circular firing squad because just a minute ago you were talking about the fact...
CARPENTER: Let's stop the gun talk.
SELLERS: You were talking about the fact that a good Democrat couldn't win a primary, and now you're saying a good Republican couldn't even win his own primary...
JENNINGS: It wasn't a primary. It was chosen at the district. That's what I am saying. They made a bad choice.
SELLERS: This is a prototypical discussion that's going to happen in the DC bubble, and I want this to continue to happen amongst Republicans in Washington, DC because what we're seeing and something that Van highlighted...
JENNINGS: ... bubble by the way...
SELLERS: Well, I get you, but what we're saying...
LEMON: We are in New York.
MARK PRESTON, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: They'll make...
CARPENTER: I'll admit it, I will get a selloff...
LEMON: Go ahead.
SELLERS: This is an R-plus 11. This is an R-plus 11 district, all right. Paul Ryan is R-4. Nunes is an R-6. These guys are going to be in trouble. So, keep saying it's all about this candidate or that candidate. Say what you want to say, but every -- there are 119 Republicans tonight that should not sleep easily.
LEMON: Go ahead, Mark.
PRESTON: Let me just bring in...
JENNINGS: Let me cut off, Mark...
JENNINGS: Bakari, what do you think Mark thinks?
LEMON: Go ahead, Mark.
PRESTON: No, I actually think we're all saying the same thing. I mean, quite frankly, I think we're all on the same page. The bottom line is going back to the clinging to the guns and religion because you know I would not let you have the last word.
The idea is, though, is that the Democratic Party has pushed away folks from the Midwest and from Middle America and they have pushed away against folks who actually do believe in the Second Amendment or the rights that go along with that.
What we're seeing here, though, is that Conor Lamb is somebody who pushed back against his party, but didn't push back against his whole party because he is a Democrat. He's a Bob Casey Democrat.
Bob Casey for all our viewers out there who probably don't remember who he is, he was a pro-life governor from Pennsylvania and got on the wrong side of the liberal...
LEMON: Let me ask you this then because this whole thing when I said Democrats have a litmus test for every single candidate. You have to do this, you have to do that. Every single Republican in the country, and I am generalizing a little bit, was against Donald Trump.
The moment he got the nomination, everybody fell in line and on the Democratic side, well, Hillary Clinton doesn't believe in this, she doesn't do that, she doesn't do that.
Bernie people were at the convention when she won the nomination screaming Bernie and Democrats, they just sat there and let it happen.
SELLERS: A litmus test is a fairly new phenomenon in the Democratic Party. It's something that we're trying to push back on. There are many of us that don't want this checklist, the things you have to do.
I mean, to your point and to your point earlier, I literally took my concealed weapons permit class with Nikki Haley. We took our class together, okay?
PRESTON: You failed, though, right?
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Go ahead.
SELLERS: But my point is that, we cannot have a litmus test. We cannot have a litmus test as Democrats. What we fall into...
LEMON: How do you say that to people who are marching all the resistance and the people who are marching on -- there's millions of people marching out there.
SELLERS: What you saw in the Women's March and what you're seeing across the country is people coming together on various issues, whether or not it's common sense gun safety regulations, which you hear Democrats talking about or reproductive rights or what's going on in our federal benches, there are a collection of issues and we have that energy.
Democrats are not one thing. We are Conor Lamb. We are...
SELLERS: ... Joe Manchin. We are Bakari Sellers. We are -- everybody and everybody in between.
LEMON: Okay, I'll see, we'll see. I don't that. I don't know about that. I mean, there was -- Hillary Clinton faced sometimes bigger headwinds from members of her own party than she faced on Republicans.
SELLERS: Hopefully we learned that lesson.
LEMON: There you go. That's all I'm saying. Okay, stick around, everyone. When we come right back, our breaking news on Pennsylvania's special congressional race. Democrat Conor Lamb declaring victory, but until every vote is counted, this race is still too close to call.
Here's our breaking news. Pennsylvania's special congressional election, Democrat Conor Lamb declares victory, but the race is too close to call until every single vote is counted. About 1,400 votes remain and we are waiting some to be reported on tonight.
President Trump stumped for Republican Rick Saccone this past weekend. Watch this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go out on Tuesday and just vote like -- you've got to get out there. The world is watching. I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick. They're all watching. Because I won this district like by 22 points. I really feel strongly about Rick Saccone and I know him. I feel strongly about him. He's...
TRUMP: ... an incredible guy, number one, and I don't know that this is important, but to me it is; he is a very fine human being. He's a good person. He's a good person.
Personally, I like Rick Saccone. I think he's handsome.
LEMON: I want to bring in CNN political commentator Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston. He won by 20 points, and not by 22 points, just so to get it straight here.
Jack, the President and Vice President, the family, they campaigned for Saccone over the weekend, and yet here we are.
JACK KINGSTON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: You know, they went in there. They tried their best to prop him up. I actually was talking to a consultant, Axiom Strategies, earlier tonight and they said pre- Trump's visit, he was down by six points.
So, the President did give him a bump; not enough. There's no question about it that the party out of power is a little bit more motivated.
I saw a lot of candidates like this in 2006. Guys like John Boccieri and Glenn Nye, and I think Symone was on the Hill when they came in in that class of 2006. The Democrats took over.
They were really blue dog Democrats just like...
LEMON: But tonight, Jack...
KINGSTON: ... Conor Lamb. But just like him, I mean, look at him. He's pro-gun. He's personally pro-life. He's pro-tariffs. He's pro tax-cuts. He's pro-coal.
He's really out of step with the Democratic Party.
SYMONE SANDERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: That's not true. So, let me...
KINGSTON: Well, excuse me, Symone, but those are all his positions.
SANDERS: But it's not true that he's out of step with the Democratic Party. And so, look, no one is anti-coal. No one is anti-tax cuts when it's -- no one is anti-tax cuts...
LEMON: Let her finish.
KINGSTON: ... Democrats out here in Washington.
LEMON: Let her finish. She was quiet while you spoke. Go ahead.
SANDERS: Not cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which is what this tax bill is. A tax bill that's not popular, by the way, which is why Republicans, particularly in the Pennsylvania district, started running away from the tax bill. This is what I think folks are missing tonight, Don. The Democratic
Party is a party of a number of factions that have organized under one umbrella of a shared set of values if you will. Not necessarily a shared set of issues because you get five Democrats in a room, they might tell you they stand for five different things.
The lesson from this is that look, it's not an either/or as Bakari was saying, it's we can do it all. And so, we have to run candidates that are authentic to their message in spaces and places that connect with the community.
And so, you can be pro-choice. You can be pro-working people. You have to understand the factions in your district. And I think Conor Lamb...
LEMON: But is that the party you want to be? It's not the party you had been, especially in 2016.
SANDERS: But here's the thing, though. The Democratic Party is always shifting and changing. I will remind you, when the Democrats passed the Civil Rights Act, okay, so the question on the table is what will the Democratic Party look like a year from now? Two years from now? Even five to ten years from now?
And the answer to that question lies in which factions rise up.
LEMON: And what lessons are learned because there's a lesson learned from this and all the other special elections that we have been covering throughout the past year.
So, is that Democrats have to sort of rejigger a little bit and figure out where they go and maybe they have to run candidates that are more conservative. Go ahead, Jack.
KINGSTON: But I'm just saying, and you know, Symone can disagree, but he is out of step with the Democrat majority in Washington, DC. He is pro-gun. He's personally pro-choice. He's pro tax cut. Meaning the Trump tax cut, and he's pro-tariff, meaning the Trump tariffs.
So, these are not sustainable positions for a member of the Democratic Party in the Democratic Congress today. And Don, we've seen it before because in 2006 many moderate Democrats just like Conor Lamb were elected and they were all tossed out because they couldn't identify with either party.
Some of them got beat in primaries and a lot of them got beat in general elections because that's not what the leaders that they elected stood for when they got to Washington, DC and is he going to consistently stand for Tim Ryan over Nancy Pelosi?
He may for a while. I mean, Gene Taylor from Mississippi, who Symone knows, he did that for many, many years. But eventually, it catches them and so...
LEMON: Go ahead, Symone. SANDERS: Look, I think that Democrats should be excited across the
country tonight. This means that the blue wave is real. I think we saw it in Alabama that the blue wave is real, but I want to caution folks, there is no blue wave in this country without black and brown people, without working people.
So, you have to understand who are the folks in this district? And where national Democrats mess up, where the D-trip or the DCCC and all of these other -- and the DGA, when they drop in and they do not take stock of what the climate is on the ground, that is when we mess up.
We took stock of the climate and I think we're going to do well come this fall.
LEMON: So, listen, Dana Bash threw out a number earlier tonight that's significant. She said 114 House districts that are even more competitive than tonight. More competitive. That's got to scare Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, Jack.
KINGSTON: There's no question about it and I am saying I think this was a...
KINGSTON: ... very significant victory for the Democratic Party. I would say that the Democrats keep bringing up Alabama. They're absolutely wrong on that. Not only was...
SANDERS: How so?
KINGSTON: ... not only was it all about the good judge down there being a terribly flawed candidate, but that the Attorney General race down there and the test between the governor and Luther Strange, that had so much to do with it.
But Symone, so what I would give you is you've won these state legislative races. I think it's 36 or 37...
KINGSTON: So, I mean, that's to me where the story is.
LEMON: Jack, let me ask you something. So, he won by 20 points and then tonight, you know, I guess, well, almost two years later you can say, it's not quite -- a year and a half later. He possibly, the Republican candidate possibly loses? That doesn't scare you?
KINGSTON: No, it does scare me. There's no question that our party is going to have to do what Conor Lamb does is sometimes triangulate between where the White House is and their own provincial politics. You just have to do that.
Democrats and Republicans do it in their own party all the time, where they have to triangulate and they have to get on the ground and they have to knock on every single door, but they also... LEMON: While you're answering this, I want you to take a look, i am
going to put this graphic up, Jack, and I am going to let you finish here. This is a graphic. It's from the "New York Times." The blue arrows show where voters trended from Republican to Democrat since 2016. Hopefully, you can see it here. That's a lot of blue arrows, man.
KINGSTON: It really is, and you know, it shows a fickleness of the voters right now that philosophically they're out testing both parties to find out what works for them and they're adjusting it, and so candidates have to be very, very attuned to their own grassroots sentiments.
And one of the things we did learn, both parties in this election, is polling is not as reliable as it use the to be. Part of it is because...
SANDERS: I don't think that's true.
KINGSTON: ... people are on cell phones, but the other part is people who are on the ground there said, you know, they couldn't figure out which way this election was going to go.
LEMON: Symone, stand by because we're going to take a break. I want to bring you back on the other side. Stick around, when we come back, much more on our breaking news. Democrat Conor Lamb declares victory in the Pennsylvania special congressional race, but the absentee votes are still being counted right now.
LEMON: Our breaking news this morning, Democrat Conor Lamb declares victory in Pennsylvania's special congressional election, a race that's just too close to call until all the votes are counted, but it should have been a slam dunk for Republicans.
Back with me now are Mark Preston, Bakari Sellers, Amanda Carpenter, Scott Jennings, Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston.
You wanted to rebut something Jack was talking about, Symone?
SANDERS: You know what, it's so late, I don't even remember what Jack said.
SANDERS: I just want to say this. I want to reiterate that Conor Lamb did not run Republican light. He did run as a Democrat and I think what this means for Democrats in 2018 is that you can run good races with good candidates and solid messaging and great ground games, but we have to do the work to identify good candidates and to make sure we are going out there reaching people where they are -- in beauty shops, barber shops and bible studies. Wherever they are, we have to go there.
LEMON: Okay, Mark, this is from Alexander Marquardt, this reporting in the morning, "Saccone will be at home while his campaign team meets with the legal counsel assess his options." The legal counsel, communications director Patrick McCain says that will include lawyers from Washington, from the RNC, from the NRCC -- no decision will be made until after the meeting.
I can't wait to get my new glasses. I can't read this small type. Go ahead, what do you think?
PRESTON: Yes, I mean, there is no automatic recount, right, in Pennsylvania law. So, I mean, this is quite frankly the same meeting is going to be happening with Conor Lamb and all his lawyers because they're going to try to figure out how do we stop this? How do we just declare victory? How do we move on?
This is not out of the ordinary. Let me just say one thing here that I think that a lot of people will draw score and that's fine, bring it on.
I think that this is a victory for both political parties tonight. And here's the reason why. Bring the scorn.
SELLERS: Oh, stop, it Symone.
PRESTON: Here's the reason why. It is a very big wake-up call right now for the Republican Party at this point to get their act together, specifically the candidates and everyone's kind of been talking about that tonight.
And it's also a very big wake-up call for the Democratic Party that this isn't in the bag and if you are a Democratic strategist right now, what you're hoping for is you want your activists to be hungry.
If they feel like they're fulfilled right now, then that's a losing proposition heading into November. It's a wake-up call for both.
LEMON: But everyone says, you know, Republicans need to get their acts together, Republican candidates. What does that mean?
CARPENTER: What I think part of this means, Republicans have gotten very lazy in these races and running a cookie cutter campaign against Democrats in which they tie the Democratic candidate to Nancy Pelosi. They paint them as anti-gun, they're going to go in your house and take your guns away. They're going to raise your taxes. They're going to make anyone in the world who wants to be a US citizen a US citizen.
I mean, it's cookie cutter. And so, when a Democrat deviates from that a little bit and you can't tag them with bam, bam, bam, those hits, they don't know what to do. So, they're going to have to get smarter too.
LEMON: Mike Murphy, we've had him on before. He is a Republican consultant and a Trump critic. He said, "We should be able to elect a box of hammers in this district. If we're losing here, you can bet there is a Democratic wave coming." What do you think of, that Scott? JENNINGS: Well, any district that has a significant suburban
population is absolutely on the Republican watch list right now. So, there's a lot of districts like this.
And you see what Conor Lamb did. You've seen what Democrats did in the Virginia governor's race last year, in the suburbs, running up the score. And so, at the end of the day, you have to put all these kinds of districts that aren't completely rural on the list of "Hey, if you've never had a real race, you might have one this year and what does that mean?"
So, I'd say tomorrow morning, the NRCC, probably sending a memo to people that have suburbs in their districts saying, "Last night, you saw what happened to Saccone. Don't be the next Saccone. Raise money and get out and work a little harder than you used to."
LEMON: But Democrats work hard -- because Mark is trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
SELLERS: I don't think about that. Nobody's listening to that.
PRESTON: These things are determined by expectations...
LEMON: He said both parties.
PRESTON: And the expectations going into tonight that is that Conor Lamb was going to win before the polls even closed. And guess what? That's not what happened.
SELLERS: But the facts still remain. Donald Trump won this district by 20. The President of the United States was just there campaigning for this candidate, and they still lost.
LEMON: And Scott just said raised tons of money. But listen, Saccone raised...
LEMON: ... $10.6 million. Lamb $1.8 million.
PRESTON: But can we -- he did not raise it, but if they want to split hairs, he didn't raise it, but the Republican Party spent that much money.
CARPENTER: And they're going to spend more...
LEMON: Let Bakari make his point and then you guys go ahead.
SELLERS: Let me just say this...
LEMON: Let Bakari make his point.
SELLERS: Everything that people are saying about the Democratic Party, and I'm very critical of the Democratic Party because I want us to be our very best selves.
Over the past year, we have won everywhere in this country. We have won in suburban areas. We've won in urban areas. We've won in rural areas.
KINGSTON: You didn't win in West Virginia when the governor switched parties, just to remind you.
SELLERS: Jack, it's late.
KINGSTON: Hey, Don...
LEMON: Let him finish his comment, Jack.
SELLERS: But from this, and Democrats every single day -- Mark was saying that you don't want them to get comfortable with victory. But with Donald Trump being President of the United States, Democrats will not be comfortable. And there are a lot of moderates that will not be comfortable.
LEMON: I want you to hold that thought because I think that's very important. Jack, go ahead, make your point.
KINGSTON: Let me say this, Conor Lamb though also had a message -- and I agree with, you know, all this -- this is good content, but he also had a message. And what his message was to the 70,000 union households in that district is that, "I'm a traditional Democrat. I'm going to stand up for union jobs."
That's why he was pro-tariff. That's why he's pro-coal and he also said, "I want to get to Washington and not be a Democrat or a Republican. I want to get what's right for Pennsylvania and America." That's a message that people like to hear.
And I think that getting back to Amanda's point, I do think there has been some cookie cutter theme that people are tired of and this guy, Conor Lamb had a message.
SELLERS: Republicans also don't recruit candidates very well.
SELLERS: I mean, I think there's a...
KINGSTON: I don't know, they recruited me.
SELLERS: Okay. Now we're making my point here.
SANDERS: That's why you guys are not in office anymore. I am just saying.
SELLERS: ... too, Jack. We have got a lot in common. Don't worry. But what I am saying is, if we go back -- if we go back and look over the history of Todd Akin, if we look at the young lady who was not a witch, Christine O'Donnell, we can go down the list of individuals -- Roy Moore, for example, who are not good candidates and that's going to be the problem.
What the Democratic Party has done with these organizations that are not the DNC like Emerge, like Higher Heights, like Emily's List, they've gone out and they've recruited and trained some amazing candidates outside the normal parameters of the Democratic Party.
So, I do think one of the things going into this, not only will we have this momentum, but I think we'll have better raw candidates.
SANDERS: I think there's something -- Don, the last thing I want to know is -- okay.
LEMON: Hold your thought, hold your thoughts.
SANDERS" All right.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: Democratic candidate, Conor Lamb declaring victory in Pennsylvania, still too close to call though officially. Back with me now, Mark Preston, Bakari Sellers, Amanda Carpenter, Scott Jennings, Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston.
Symone, is it enough to just run against Donald Trump?
SANDERS: No. No. I've been saying this since like August of 2016. No, it's not enough to run against Donald Trump. We have to have a message, and so folks want something to vote for.
Particularly millennial voters are folks we are hoping that will come out. Of course, there's 70% of millennials who do not strongly identify with either political party, which means they don't care if you have a DR or I behind your name. They want to know what it is in fact you are talking about and so what I think we saw with Conor Lamb is that -- and particularly in this district, he ran for working people and told working people in that district, working people which can be black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian-American and otherwise, by the way, what he would do for them and how he would support them.
Because that was the faction that, you know, could get him elected. The last thing I want to note is look, I worked a governor's race in 2014 when we couldn't even utter the words Obama or Obamacare, Democrats were like -- and I was in Nebraska, okay.
So, I say that to say, Donald Trump matters in 2018, and so you're going to see Republican candidates who are going to have to run away from the President to avoid getting swept up in this wave, this wave that is not necessarily anti-Trump in some respects, but a wave of folks that they just want to elect officials that are going to go to Washington and get to work and do something for them.
Donald Trump is not actively demonstrating that he can do that and neither are Republicans on the Hill for that matter.
LEMON: Which brings me to my next point because you have all this upheaval in the Trump administration right now. President Trump now saying, at least reportedly that he's going to start being more Trump- like, more Trumpian, and go with his gut.
And so, if that does happen, Scott Jennings, that doesn't bode well, does it, for 2018 or possibly 2020?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, if it manifests itself in the President having a Cabinet and a staff that he actually gets along with and listens to and trust and can deploy, that would be a net positive.
I mean, at the end of the day, you know, we're referencing the Tillerson move today, or yesterday now, he wasn't working with the Secretary of State.
I mean, he calls up the South Koreans and makes a meeting with the North Korean leader and doesn't even tell the guy. So, if being more Trumpian means getting a staff that he gets along with and that helps them move their agenda, fine.
The other issue here is, they've got to get back on the economy. The President did like one or two events on the tax cuts and the economy that was like six weeks ago. We haven't talked about it since.
The economy is blazing. Friday's jobs report was huge and no one is talking about this in the Republican Party except a handful of press releases...
SELLERS: We have been...
JENNINGS: That's the only time...
SELLERS: We have been talking about this...
LEMON: That's what happened with Gerry Cohn, but that's what happens. You could talk about these things, but that was my whole point. There's such upheaval in the Trump administration that it gets drowned out by all these things.
And for him to say -- everyone says, "Nothing to see here. Move along. There's no chaos." Well, you've got Cohen. You've got Tillerson. You have Hope Hicks. Then you have Porter before that and then, I mean it goes...
SELLERS: But I mean, we have talked about the economy because Donald Trump and Michael Cohen stimulated the economy by giving Stormy Daniels $130,000.00.
And so, we've been talking about this day after day. That's just an example of the chaos that this White House is bringing on and people are tired of that.
People are growing weary of that. In South Carolina, I have moderates, Republicans, evangelicals that all come up to me and say, "I don't know how you do it on CNN. It's so much news. It's all the time. We are getting so tired of this."
At first, people found it to be cute. Now, the people are tired of it.
LEMON: I get even Trump supporters say I don't know how you do it every single night.
PRESTON: I mean, I would just like to say that Bakari won the bet, if anyone's wondering, how to get Stormy Daniels in.
LEMON: But don't you think -- hold on, Jack. I do think that a lot of -- some of the headlines, some of the shake-up, and this is just me, someone who's been doing it for a long time, is the Trump folks are working overtime to try to push Stormy Daniels out of the headlines. They're working with...
SELLERS: I don't think they have a message. You do remember that this is infrastructure week.
CARPENTER: Yes, I don't think he was there intentionally creating chaos. You are seeing Donald Trump take a hold of his presidency. I mean, forget team of rivals.
CARPENTER: He wants a team of ditto-heads. He specifically said that he wants Mike Pompeo because he thinks like me, we're on the same wavelength.
He wants people who will reassure him and will carry out whatever he wants with blind loyalty. The end. And that is the job qualification.
PRESTON: He does not want to be challenged. He does not want to be challenged and told that he is wrong...
LEMON: Go ahead, Jack.
KINGSTON: I don't believe that. I know that it's very popular to say all he wants is blind loyalty, but I don't think that's the case.
I served with Mike Pompeo. He's an outstanding guy. He graduated top of his class at West Point. That's a big deal. He went to Harvard Law School. He was a captain in the US Army. He started a business, sold out and started another business...
LEMON: What does have to do with the President not wanting blind loyalty.
CARPENTER: Listen, that is true, Mike Pompeo is a good guy. He is qualified, but let's remember that one of his first acts as the Chief of the CIA was to go chase down conspiracy theories about the DNC hacking.
I mean, that was one of the first things he did to kiss up to Trump and now he's been promoted. The end.
KINGSTON: Well, no. He has done an outstanding job...
LEMON: Let's stick to the topic.
KINGSTON: I don't have any criticism of him, but one thing that people are also forgetting is, he's 54 years old. That's a job. That's a 70-hour-a-week grind and he is a guy who I think can put a lot of energy in it.
Tillerson is a fine man. I was a big fan of his, but I think that there will be beyond chemistry a new kind of energy that I think that the President...
SANDERS: You just called Rex Tillerson old. I just want to know. You just said Rex Tillerson was too old to be the Secretary of State.
LEMON: He publicly shamed Cohen and Tillerson
LEMON: They're both done, Jack, because they weren't -- they didn't give blind loyalty to him. He publicly shamed them for it. It's not that their policies were terrible. Most Republicans, most people in the country agree with their policies. It was the President who didn't and he didn't like that... (CROSSTALK)
KINGSTON: Can you tell me a President that did not want loyalty in his cabinet? I cannot think of one. It doesn't matter if Bill Clinton or Barack Obama...
CARPENTER: No one resigned from...
LEMON: Hold on, hold on, hold on a minute there...
LEMON: Give me one that shamed so many members of his own cabinet including Jeff Sessions and on and on as this current President does?
KINGSTON: I can't do that. But let me say this, I don't know one who doesn't want loyalty, and stylistically, Don, I agree with you.
LEMON: Okay. go ahead, Amanda.
SANDERS: I think you're...
LEMON: Hang on...
CARPENTER: You know, just one of the other stories that got lost in the chaos today was that an official at the immigration facility, he was being asked about the deportations happening in California and because he couldn't back up the administration's assertion that a warning that the mayor in California had given to the immigrant community essentially to get out, that deportations were coming, didn't lead to a fewer number of deportations.
He couldn't back that up because they had a similar number as they had gotten in the past. And so, instead of giving the journalists the proper information, he was told to just refer the journalists to a previous statement that Sessions had made.
He didn't want to do that. And he said, "Listen, I don't want to pass on bad information. I don't want to deflect for this information." So, he has to go. And he went.
SELLERS: My biggest problem with these staff shake-ups is first of all, there's way too much turnover. Barack Obama had two Secretaries of State, each one of them served for four years. We're already on his second Secretary of State right now, I was speaking of Donald Trump.
But my problem delves a little deeper. I have a problem with the level of competence of the people that he's bringing into the White House and surrounding himself with.
Rex Tillerson came with a great background. Rex Tillerson was a horrible Secretary of State. He hollowed out the Department. But you can make a credible argument that he deserves to have that appointment and be in the White House.
But people like Scaramucci. People like Omarosa. People like Seb Gorka. People like Steven Bannon.
LEMON: Yes, put the faces up. Go ahead.
SELLERS: But I mean, these are individuals that have no business in anybody's White House. They have no credibility and they do not have the level of intellectual capacity to do the job necessary.
And I don't know if we want to -- I mean, I want to be as generous or as kind as possible, but this is a fact, that he does not hire the very best people. I mean, look at his Secretary of Education...
CARPENTER: Because loyalty is a higher priority than competence.
SELLERS: It is. Loyalty is a higher priority than competence and that is very dangerous.
LEMON: All right, thanks, Mark. Thanks, Bakari, Amanda, Scott, Jack, and Symone. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Back with our live coverage now. We need to report on something that we had been having in the news now. Some breaking news, it's out of the UK. Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British physicist who famously overcame a debilitating disease to publish wildly popular best sellers on the mysteries of the universe has died.
That's according to a spokesperson for his family. He was 76 years old.
Matthew Chance has the story now on his life and times.
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: By any measure, Stephen Hawking's life was incredible. Even more so because in the 1960s, he was diagnosed with ALS, or motor neuron disease and given just a few years to live.
This rare form of motor neuron disease left him virtually paralyzed, unable to express his profound vision of humanity and science without a voice synthesizer.
STEPHEN HAWKING, BRITISH PHYSICIST: At one point, I thought I would see the end of Physics as we know it. But I know I think the wonder of discovery will continue long after I'm gone.
CHANCE: But this was never a man bound by his own physical limitations. He reveled in a zero-gravity flight freeing him he said from the confines of his wheelchair. He also wrote a series of children's books about space with his daughter, Lucy. He had two other children and three grandchildren. For more than three decades, he was a professor at Cambridge
University's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, specializing in the study of black holes and revered as a member of the academic elite.
But Professor Hawking also did much to popularize science, playing himself in "Star Trek."
HAWKING: ... in the opposite direction.
CHANCE: and "The Simpsons."
CHANCE: In 2014, his life and romance with wife, Jane Wilde was depicted on the big screen in the acclaimed film "The Theory of Everything."
HAWKING: The universe getting smaller and smaller, getting denser and denser, hotter and hotter.
JANE WILDE, WIFE OF STEPHEN HAWKING: You mean wind back the clock?
HAWKING: Exactly. Wind back the clock.
CHANCE: Hawking consulted on the biodrama which earned five Academy award nomination, and a best actor win for Eddie Redmayne for his portrayal of the physicist.
Hawking's most famous work, "A Brief History of Time" remains one of the best-selling science books ever written and he was deeply concerned with humanity's survival.
HAWKING: I see a great danger for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care in fact, to negotiate them all successfully.
But I am an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe as we spread into space.
CHANCE: He was as ever looking firmly to the future.