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Biggest Primary Night Of 2018; CNN Projects Newson Advances To November Election In California Governor Race; Bill Clinton Trying To Clean Up Lewinsky Comments. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 00:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: -- side really. I'm talking about California. What do you know? Give us the very latest.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": No question about it. It's such a blue state, Don, and presidential politics, blue state, blue governor, blue state with House delegation, you would think if there's a blue wave California is going to send a big message to President Trump, right.

We're watching these House primaries, watching 53 House districts, 39 held by Democrats. The others held by Republicans. Really eight or ten of them matter most to us tonight. As we watch them, one of the big question is this jungle primary. California rules, top two finishers, doesn't matter party.

Two Republicans finish first and second, they're on the ballot in November. Two Democrats, same thing. So, Democrats, the big worry is in some of the districts they think they should be competitive in November, they're worried tonight because so many Democrats are running they might not even have a candidate.

This is a safe Republican seat, Duncan Hunter. He's been in some trouble because of ethics and corruption investigations. He's winning his primary tonight. If he wins that, it's safe Republican. Normally, we'll watch that into November.

This one gets more interesting. This is Darrel Issa's district. He's not running for reelection. Darrell Issa, nationally known, used to be the oversight committee chairman in the Obama administration, A Republican thorn in the previous president's side. Not running for reelection.

Hillary Clinton won this district in the presidential year 2016. So, Democrats logically say this should be one of our targets in 2018. Right now, a Republican in first. The question is, will there be a Democrat in second?

You see all these candidates running because it's an open seat. Only 4 percent of the vote in, Don. This one could take well into the morning. Could take well into the week before we see the candidates.

Another key race, another Clinton district, Republican held. Dana Rohrabacher here, the Republican. Does Dana Rohrabacher run against a Democrat or against a Republican? Again, only 16 percent of the vote in. A lot of other candidates down here as well.

Just want to show you another name you know well. You mentioned it quite a bit on your show. Devin Nunes is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, very prominent in defending the president. Accusing the FBI of spying on the Trump campaign, for example.

He's comfortably winning his primary. Democrats have had dreams of winning this district in 2018. They say he's become a national Republican. He's ignoring this farm district. That's pretty safe Republican seat, but let's see who his opponent is.

Let me move over to show you why this matters, Democrats need 23 seats to take back the House. They came into the year thinking they could get seven or eight of that 23 right out of California. These are the districts here, the seven, Republican held now, carried by Hillary Clinton. Makes perfect sense, right?

She won them in 2016, 2018 should be a blue year, we should be able to get them. Here's the problem. The Democrats are worried that in three of these districts at least, Ed Royce is retiring, Darrel Issa is retiring.

Democrats are worried because so many Democrats ran in these races, they'll split the vote and you could end up with two Republicans on the ballot in November. So, they could get locked out of three districts that they think if they have a candidate, they have a pretty good chance of winning.

That's part of the drama of the count tonight. I can bet in at least one or two of these districts, Don, we'll be talking about this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We might not know tonight.

LEMON: We're learning a lot more about California and how the voting works there. You mentioned the jungle primary and that Democrats have feared of being shut out there. Why did they go to this particular system in the first place, John?

KING: Governor Schwarzenegger who was more of an independent, elected first in a recall election, was trying to push political reform. A lot of Democrats in the California legislature is dominated by Democrats who went along with him.

They thought they wanted to shake things up because of gerrymandering and the political stagnation. They thought this was the way to go. A lot of people thought it was a good idea at the time. A lot of Democrats were behind it at the time. A lot are having seconds thoughts now -- Don.

LEMON: Mr. John King, thank you very much . A lot of people here giggling at your last comment. I'll bring in CNN political director David Chalian, chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and CNN Politics senior writer and analyst, Harry Enten. Thank you all for joining us. What did you say, lemon and lime? So, what are you looking for, David Chalian? You're the political director. What are you looking for tonight? Take us through it.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as John was talking about, the first thing that I think all of us are looking at is to see because of this unusual system in California, this top two primary system, do Democrats block themselves out of some districts that are key pickup opportunities for them in their overall quest to win the 23 seats they need to win to win the majority of the House of Representatives?

And you've got to remember, Don, that is the political story of 2018, who the battle for control of the House of Representatives. And it is a real battle. And as John was saying, you look at these districts in California, the seven districts that Hillary Clinton won, that's about a third of the way. If you're adding up to get to 23, the Democrats see California as a place to get 1/3. It's a real treasure trove.

[00:05:10] But because of this system, we're looking to see in some districts, do Democrats not -- because of all the enthusiasm out there and all the candidates that have run -- do they block themselves out of some of these districts and therefore, these golden pickup opportunities are gone? And it complicates the math to the majority.

LEMON: Can you imagine getting shutout of the districts that you could -- you actually had a real good chance of flipping.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And the irony is that because you had so many enthusiastic voters outs there -- I mean, this is ground zero for the resistance out in California. And the irony is you have so many enthusiastic voters out there and so many enthusiastic candidates who have leaned up to run that they're going to split the vote.

And so, we were joking about curb your enthusiasm. You don't want the Democrats to curb their enthusiasm, but in California, when the party has tried to get involved a lit bit and say to some people, you've got to get out of this race.

It's been very -- it's touchy to do that when a national party says for the greater good, we need this progressive to leave or that person to leave who can't -- who's not getting any funding. So, it's very, very difficult for them.

LEMON: In 2016, 17 Republicans who were out there on the stage. Didn't that happen with the anti-Trump Republicans? They canceled each other out?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a good analogy. A lot of people look back and look at the math and say had there been fewer non-Trump candidates he wouldn't have been the nominee, wouldn't have been president. You never know what exactly would have happened.

It was a very anti-Washington year. Having said that, yes, this is in California, as David and Gloria pointed out, this is such a unique system, a system that was intended ironically as a way to end gerrymandering, a way to get around gerrymandering, I should say.

A way to make the extremes more moderate and at least so far because it's so unique and so complicated, that has not happened. Now, we're talking about of the seven districts that Hillary Clinton won in California, maybe two, maybe where the Democrat will be potentially shut out.

And maybe not, but let's just say for the Democrats, worst case scenario, they're shut out of three. That still leaves four competitive districts for them. And that's still a good chunk on the road to 23, especially when they're playing it in competitive districts across the country.

It should have been easy for them. In a state like California, ground zero for the resistance and it makes it interesting and very confusing and complicated to watch this.

LEMON: Just to make your point, 9 of the 10 California House districts rated as competitive are currently held by Republicans. Seven of those districts voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. And yet, possibility we don't know, that they could get shutout. This could be a nice win for women.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Huge night. Look at the candidates that are going to be favored in the fall so far. Kay I've vie I kay ivy, go to New Mexico, the Democratic candidate there. Looking back to back women candidates and then a Congressional race as well. Not only just in California but in New Jersey.

Iowa, two women have won. Overwhelmingly won there on the Democratic side. In fact, so far in Democratic primaries, when there's been an open seat, women have been winning about 70 percent of them. That may go up after tonight.

LEMON: Interesting. I feel like Wolf Blitzer now because I have a major projection in an election night. Gavin Newsome will claim one of the top two spots in the California gubernatorial election, advancing to the November general election.

BORGER: That's not a surprise. I think the real question is who is going to be the number two? Are you going to have two Democratic candidates?

LEMON: Villaraigosa, right?

BORGER: Are you going to have two candidates facing off of each other. The president endorsed John Cox, the Republican or are you going to have a Democrat and a Republican facing off? If you have two Democrats facing off each other, the Republicans then said well, that's a problem for us because it doesn't motivate our voters to come out when they know there's going to be a Democrat winning in that important race anyway.

CHALIAN: I know it's early, but we should just note with about 9 percent of the precincts reporting, John Cox, the Republican that Donald Trump has been tweeting about in trying to nudge into the November election is indeed significantly ahead of Antonio Villaraigosa at the moment.

[00:10:04] It is very early. We also know there was some complications in L.A. county. That Antonio Villaraigosa is very concerned that that is impacting a huge swath of his voters that may have been forced to fill out provisional ballots.

So, there's going to be a lot more counting beyond tonight to determine who gets that second spot.

BASH: Even big picture, you know, if John Cox does become the second candidate and they run, that will obviously be a more traditional -- it will be a traditional General Effaceoff. On the Senate side, though, it's very unlikely that you're going to have a Republican in the general election.

Just like you saw two years ago when Kamala Harris ran against Congresswoman Sanchez. So, if you kind of take a step back, I know we've been talking a lot about the districts in and around Orange County or Southern California where a Democrat may not be running.

Big picture, the state of California, Republicans are in deep trouble in very deep trouble. As one Republican from there said to me earlier today, they're not extinct, but they're an endangered species. It really is a remarkable thing to think. California is a huge state and it also speaks to where the country is going.

LEMON: It's kind of its own country.

BASH: It is, it's the fifth largest economy in the world. But it also speaks to where the country is going when you talk about the coasts and the middle. That has obviously been a trend we've seen for decades. But it is even more solidified or illustrated with the kind of election we're having.

LEMON: So, considering what's happening, though, with this jungle primary, can you still consider this California as a bellwether to what could happen come November?


LEMON: It's a state that opposes a lot of Trump's policies, right? He's got to be watching this closely.

BORGER: It's a liberal -- I think you would agree with me. It's a very liberal state. The governor's race, you have 27 candidates competing. I know that because I read that somewhere. I didn't count them, but 27 candidates competing.

So, it's very -- it's a different system, it's a different state. But what it does measure, I think, is enthusiasm. And of course, Democrats are going to be enthusiastic in California.

But I do think we can sort of say from looking at that and a number of people competing and the primaries we've looked at so far, this early election season, we've seen that enthusiasm on the Democratic side.

LEMON: I'm just wondering if the anti-Trump fervor is going to backfire for Democrats. It could happen here. We shall see. So, stick around everyone. We're going to see you in just a minute.

When we come back, Democrats hoping to energize voters with their anti-Trump message, but could that actually work against them in California? We're going to go live to one of the hardest fought races in the state. We'll be right back.



LEMON: Here's a breaking news this election night, the biggest primary night so far in 2019. Eight states across the country holding elections, but California and its jungle primary could be the key to all of it. And we may see the morning sunshine before we know the results here, so we shall see.

CNN's senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, is in Newport Beach, California for us. Kyung, hello to you. You're at a watch party for one of the Democrats that could be shutout because of California's jungle primary, again, big consequences for November's midterms. What can you tell us?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is California 48. This is Dana Rohrabacher's district and this is a district that Democrats desperately want to pick up. We're at a watch party. They are anticipating it could be a while. But when the very first initial results came down, he was surrounded by supporters.

(Inaudible) and he said we are not the Democratic spoilers. That's soft quote. The very reality here, John, is that (inaudible) could end up canceling out the other Democrats that the two basically split the Democratic vote.

That is the nightmare scenario for national Democrats and then they would be completely shut out of November. But again, this early in the evening right now, Dana Rohrabacher in the initial count is leading.

Number two (inaudible) for these supporters, even though it's still very early, they're optimistic and hoping that a Democrat will get through and California 48 and the nightmare scenario will not come to fruition -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Kyung, thank you, very noisy headquarters there, thank you. Tell us about who's the number two?

ENTEN: It's right now a Democrat. It's a very, very tight race in the 48th. In fact, I think of all the races where Democrats may get shut out, that one has the highest probability at this point.

LEMON: Because? ENTEN: Because it's a very, very close race. I mean, if you look at the 48th versus the 49th versus the 39th, which are the three big possibilities, the race is the closest in the 48th. It's at 300 votes?

BASH: And it's a conservative district. It's a Republican district and the Republican running to run against Rohrabacher is well known. He's got a high name id and this is not a district that tends to -- there hasn't been a Democratic bench there -- Scott Baugh.

CHALIAN: The national Republicans also pouring money into this race to support both Rohrabacher and Baugh. This is going to be the one that has the most likely to have a potential --

LEMON: Stand by. John, I understand that you have some information about governor, is that correct?

KING: Let's look at the governor's race. Before we do, these are the House districts. This is how big California is, how complicated California is, how diverse California is. When it comes to campaigns, those tv markets, how expensive California is.

Let me go to the governor's race, you mentioned earlier, Gavin Newsome is now confident projecting he will advance to the November election. The big question is, will his opponent be a Democrat or a Republican?

You see the red in here, this is the more conservative part of the state. John Cox running up a pretty good total right now. We're at 33 percent. So about 1/3 of the vote.

[00:20:10] But David Chalian was talking earlier, there's the problem down in Los Angeles. That's where former Mayor Villaraigosa is from. A Republican running third. Here's the big question mark, does that hold?

Does Anthony Villaraigosa stay third or fourth? If that's the case, we get a more traditional race. When the votes come in down here, you see a lot of gray, I just want to hit Los Angeles. Just 5 percent of the vote in Los Angeles. That's his base. So, a ways to go --

LEMON: John, we can call it for Cox now, do you want to talk about that?

KING: That's very significant. Number one, Gavin Newsom will be heavily favored. Jerry Brown is the incumbent governor of California, it's a blue state, but Dana and Gloria were talking earlier. Why is it important to have John Cox as number two?

Give Republicans a reason to come out and vote. If you have two Democrats in the governor's race, two Democrats in the Senate race, what is the enticement for Republicans to come out? They might care about their local race.

Maybe there's a mayor's race. Maybe they're in a good Congressional district. But if you don't have Republican candidates in the statewide races, it really sucks the energy out of the party. It's a blue state to begin with.

And again, if you're looking at the Democrats, they think they can get six or seven if the wave gets big again. Eight House districts out of California, what does that have to do with the governor's race, if no one is coming out to play on the Republican side, it affects turnout throughout the state.

So, it is very important for a decimated California Republican Party to at least have a candidate in a statewide race. That is progress, if you will. They have a long way to go, but if that's the case, we're now projecting John Cox as that, a Democrat Republican.

It's a big blow to Antonio Villaraigosa, who thought this was his political comeback campaign and it's a big win for the California Republican Party just to have a candidate.

LEMON: Thank you very much, Mr. John King. We'll get back to you. Let's bring the panel back in. Gloria, as John said, this is a more traditional governor's race now, a Democrat and Republican --

BORGER: It is, but I bet they're really happy at the White House right now because the president went -- you know, tweeted I think multiple times about -- about John Cox. He clearly didn't want a Democrat versus a Democrat even though Newsome obviously the favored as John was just saying, this means some Republicans are going to come out and vote. They' got a real viable candidate.

That's what the White House wants particularly for the down ticket, you know, other races, House races, they need -- they want to get their voters out and this is one way to do it. You're likely to have a Senate race. Dana was saying between two Democrats.

BASH: And it's a win for the president. There's no question. For other top Republicans in the state who they decided that they're going to do what Democrats have not been able to do, which is rally around up with or two and or one candidate in these key districts.

Now they have an embarrassment of riches because they have so many good candidates, so much enthusiasm. On the Republican side, it could have gone a different way. But the fact of the matter is they organized themselves starting at the top with the president of the United States to say this is our guy.

The house majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, whose district is in California did the same thing. And it's very -- you can't underscore enough how important this is for the Republicans in this case.

LEMON: Harry, still though, Gavin Newsom is the favorite, right?

ENTEN: Gavin Newsom is early the favorite. The early polls have him well ahead but talk about the reverse in sentence of the top two system because Gavin Newsom wanted to face John Cox in the fall. You had a different set of beliefs. Democrats wanted Villaraigosa, but Newsom himself is very, very happy.

LEMON: Why didn't he want that? ENTEN: There's a shot he could lose that. He will get the Democratic vote large in California.

LEMON: I want to ask you about this. Former President Bill Clinton has been out and about and stirring some controversy. He was on Stephen Colbert last night, still cleaning up really his recent answer about Monica Lewinsky. My question is, how many Democrats in the fall want to campaign with him after all of this? Here it is right here.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Here's what I want to say. It wasn't my finest hour, but the important thing is, that was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago. And I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, to the American people. I meant it then, I've meant it now. I've had to live with the consequences every day since. And I still believe this "Me Too" movement is long overdue, necessary, and should be supported.


LEMON: What do you think?

[00:25:06] CHALIAN: So, this is in the second day in a row of clean- up, after the initial interview aired on "The Today Show" yesterday morning. He seems to be getting the clean-up right a bit more. But that doesn't change your political question, Don, which is the fact that Bill Clinton obviously can still go out and raise a lot of money.

But when you talk to people who talk to him a lot, and you talk to Democratic candidates out there, he is not on the top of Democratic candidates' request list of bring in Bill Clinton to my district because he is of another era.

And his past is very complicated to explain away, which he has trouble doing in this "Me Too" moment and where we are now as a culture. And so, in addition, obviously, Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump in 2016 left a sour taste for some Democrats as well especially in tough red districts.

So, here's the deal. You're going to see Bill Clinton on the campaign trail. I don't want to suggest for a moment that he has been shunned from --

LEMON: I'm going to disagree with you and I'll tell you why. Go on.

CHALIAN: But you are not going to see him campaigning at the level that we have seen him do in previous election cycles, but he will not be requested as much.

LEMON: Let me tell you why I think that you are right. I think he might be requested. I think sometime -- again, this is just devil's advocate. As I'm on the streets of New York City, which is very liberal, right?

BORGER: The heartland. LEMON: Why are you guys reporting on Bill Clinton? It happened 20 years ago. Why don't you focus on what's happening in the White House right now? This has already been litigated. It's 20 years old. That's not me saying that. That's what I'm hearing from Democrats. I don't ask what they are, but they tell me that. We dealt with it, let's move on. What about the guy in the White House right now.

BORGER: But those are the Democrat.

LEMON: I agree with you.

BORGER: And obviously they're saying we don't want to raise that issue because it helps Donald Trump with all of his problems, Stormy Daniels and everything else. I want to point out that Bill Clinton's wife didn't use him very much on the campaign trail during the last election.

LEMON: Especially towards the end because in the beginning he screwed up a lot. Remember?

BORGER: And also --

CHALIAN: Weaponizing his past.

BORGER: Exactly. And that could -- and Republicans can do that again. So, I don't think he'll be used except in real places where maybe New York, where he can really be a help. But if people had a choice, for example, between, say, Barack Obama, former president and Bill Clinton, a former president.

LEMON: Barack Obama, yes.

ENTEN: Bill Clinton is just not very popular. His favorable ratings are down in the 40s. Outside of New York, I wouldn't have him on the campaign trail.

LEMON: Very interesting. All right. Stick around.

When we come back, more results in the biggest primary night of 2018. Will Democrats ride a blue wave and what will all of this mean in November? We're going to discuss that right after this



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I like being natural but I'm worried there may be misunderstandings. So, that's why I tend to come off a little shy. I think it's really hard to just look at things as it is these days. I don't trust communication through the internet or social media.


(COMMERICAL BREAK) DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, here's the breaking news tonight, results coming in from races across the country on the biggest primary night of the year. John King, back to read the tea leaves for us. I said when we wanted more information, we always go back to John King and here we are. So, John, how could tonight's results impact the Democrat's chances of taking back the House?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDANT: If there's a big giant blue wave, tonight's not a big deal, Don. If there's a medium blue wave or if the blue wave turns into a blue ripple, tonight could be critical to the map in the end. Why? One of our questions; will the Democrats have a candidate against Republican incumbent Jeff Denham. Why does that matter? Hillary Clinton carried this district.

Democrats, in a blue year, can get it, it's getable. Will they have a candidate? Right now they do, but only 36 percent of the vote in. Unclear if they'll have as candidate. That's one of the races where Democrats, if they get locked out, it hurts their chances.

There's another one down here, not Duncan Harvell (ph) I mean, move over to this race here, Diane Harkey is the Republican leading in what is now Darrell Issa's district. Again, Hillary Clinton won this district. Democrats can get it if it's a blue year. Will they have a candidate? Right now they do, but only 13 percent of the vote in. They have a chance - a possibility they get locked out here because - call it rational exuberance.

So many Democrats are coming out to run in these races, they may cancel each other out. Here's a third district, Dana Rohrabacher, again, vulnerable Republican, Clinton district. Democrat in second right now, but it's very close. You go through, you see some Republicans, but also a lot of Democrats canceling the vote out.

Why does this matter? Let me come over here for a minute. Don, give me a sec to go through this. This is the current state of play, Republican majority, 240, Democrats at 195. These are the races where we know the lines are drawn, solid Democrat, solid Republican districts. We're pretty sure these are going to stay the same.

Then you get into your key races, your competitive races across the country right now, right? 15 of them Democratic districts, Republicans have a lot more districts where they are vulnerable. These are key races, they're in play.

So, can Democrats get the majority? Well, let's start in the north, right up here, a lot of targets, five districts in Minnesota, four in Illinois, five in Michigan. If it's a big blue wave, Democrats are going to pick up some seats here. Let's come back to the map and go over to the east coast.

A lot of targets in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, if it's a big blue wave, Democrats are going to get eight, 10, 12, maybe even more here. California won't matter if - if it's a big blue wave. Again, some more opportunities down here in Florida and Texas, Democrats could pick up a couple here, but pick up more than a couple there if there's a blue wave. But what if there isn't? What if it's a modest democratic year and they only get one or two of these? They don't get any of these but they get one or two. They've only done so - so up in the Midwest and the northeast. You get out to California and the Democrats would say, plus 17, plus 18. They need plus 23. Then these districts out in California become absolutely critical.

Ten districts we view as competitive. Only one is a Democrat. Nine Republican districts in play, seven of these nine, again, carried by Hillary Clinton. What if the Democrats don't have candidates in three of these districts - four of these districts because of the jungle primary tonight?

If there's a big blue wave, again, it won't matter. The House will already be gone and this will be about the margins. If we get to the west coast and Democrats are plus 17 or 18 and they get locked out of three or four of these districts tonight, that's going to matter.

LEMON: John King at the magic wall with all the information. John, thank you. When we come back, more results on the biggest primary night of the year, so far, and what it all could mean come November.



LEMON: Breaking news, more results coming in on the biggest primary night of the year, so far. California could be the key tonight. I want to bring in CNN National Political Reporter, Maeve Reston and CNN Political Analyst, Nathan Gonzales. He is the editor and publisher of Inside Elections. Good evening to both of you. Maeve, I want to get your - your new reporting on a printing error that left over 100,000 voters off the rosters in L.A. What's going on?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, this is very mysterious, Don. But basically what happened is that a lot of voters showed up at the polls, today, in Los Angeles County, which is the most populous county in the state, and couldn't find their name on the roster. Now, when that happens, voters are supposed to be given a provisional ballot by the poll workers, but in some cases that didn't happen.

And so, the country registrars started to get all kinds of complaints. They discovered that because of this random printing error that 118,000 voters, which is a lot of voters, were left off the roster. And so, this caused widespread confusion, today, why it can really matter is because of one of those very tight congressional races that you've been talking about and that's in California's 39 District.

That's a race that will be decided, probably, in the coming days and weeks, potentially, because it's so tight.


There's a scenario there where Democrats could get locked out and a lot of voters in that district live in Los Angeles County, it's a district that touches three counties; Orange County, Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. So we're waiting to see how many people this affected and whether it affects the results in that district and whether there could be a possible recount potentially.

LEMON: Yes that's the question could there be a possible recount if the races are close?

RESTON: Well I mean it depends on how many people were quote/unquote turned away, whether they could prove that to a judge, whether there are grounds for a legal challenge. But what is clear is that it's going to take a long time to count these provisional ballots and that was a race where if you're talking about a couple of hundred votes, there is potential for the candidates who don't win to challenge the results.

LEMON: So Nathan, Democrats need a 23 seat net gain to regain control of the House. What are the chances as of now?

GONZALES: Well I think Democrats had a great chance of winning the majority before tonight's primaries. I think no matter what happens in the primary tonight, they're still going to have a good chance I mean when you just look at history, history is on the Democrat's side. You have a polarizing president; mid-terms are traditionally bad for the president's party so I think that it is - - Democrats still have an opportunity. It would be a big disappointment if Democrats get locked out of one or two Congressional races here in California, but as John - - as John just pointed out, I would say there are at least 65, 70 Democratic take-over opportunities around the country. If a couple of them are off the table, there are still enough seats in play for Democrats to get what they need in order to win back the House.

LEMON: So Maeve we are learning tonight that the White House is talking about applying a loyalty test to determine which Republicans President Trump will endorse in the mid-terms. Have you ever heard of anything like this?

RESTON: I mean we - - it's something new every day with President Trump right? The thing that's really interesting about is that a lot of these Republicans, particularly in some of these districts here in California, really might want - - not want President Trump getting involved in their races at all. You look at someone like Jeff Denham or David Valadao, they are in districts with a lot of Democrats, a lot of Independents who are not happy with President Trump and so in some of those races, they were trying to figure out what they should be saying about Trump's policies on immigration or his rhetoric for example, that's a big problem for them.

So if there is a loyalty test, certainly that could be a factor for some Republicans around the country, but might not be an issue for California Republicans here.

LEMON: A Senior White House official said that Trump's political team is scrutinizing when each Republican who wants the president's support got on board with his candidacy in 2016. Of course I mean this comes back always to 2016, but I've got to ask you Nathan. The question is will the president's support actually help Republicans? GONZALES: Well I think it depends on the state and depends on the race. I think when we're talking about the fight for the Senate I think that President Trump could be an asset because Republicans need to defeat Senate Democratic Senators in states where the president did well. When we're talking about the House it's a little bit different. As Maeve was pointing out, there are these districts that Hillary Clinton carried that Republicans are currently representing and that makes it more difficult, but in general I think these Republican candidates and Republican Members of Congress are in a tough spot because they need a coalition of the president's supporters and people who don't like the president in order to win re-election. I don't think it's a either/or, they need to figure out a way to get both. And the president - - the president can be as helpful for Republicans by turning out his loyal supporters.

We're talking about loyal Republicans loyal to the president; who maybe think that Republicans on the Hill aren't doing a good enough job. They may - - they might think the Republicans on the Hill are blocking the president's agenda and so if those voters don't turn out in the mid-terms elections, Republicans are going to suffer heavy losses.

LEMON: So let's talk about some of those supporters, let's bring up a poll here because this is according a new CNN poll, the president is just 34 percent support from women; he's got 21 percent support from non-whites. Will numbers like these factor into whether or not Republicans push for Trump's endorsement Nathan?

GONZALES: Well I think - - I mean there's those numbers among the general election, but we have to remember that the president is the most popular Republican within the Republican Party right now. And so right now we have Republicans trying to work through - - their way through primaries and nominating processes, but they also have to get - - keep the president's supporters in order to win, but if the Republican Party is alienating large groups of voters and Independents are swinging toward Democrats so that's going to be problematic and that's probably enough for Democrats to win back the House.

LEMON: All right thank you both very much I appreciate it Nathan and Maeve. When we come back John King has an update on a key Senate race in Montana.



LEMON: We have news tonight on a key Senate race in Montana; I want to bring in John king. John's at the Magic Wall I mean this is a race the president has made a personal mission right?

JOHN KING: Yes he has remember Democratic Incumbent, Jon Tester he's the one who used the candy man label against Dr. Ronny Jackson back when Dr. Jackson was the president's pick to lead the VA, Jon Tester saying he was accused, among other things, of being too loose with prescription drugs while the White House Doctor. This is the state of Montana tonight, we talked about all those Democrats running out in California, well you have four accomplished Republicans running for the Senate nomination in Montana because they view this as an opportunity; they know Jon Tester's vulnerable, they know they'll get the president's help because he's interested in this race.

At the moment Don, look at this, this is a very close primary; the State Auditor, Matt Rosendale, in first place right now; in second place Russ Fagg, he's a former state legislator, a former state judge as well. A very close race right now, 3,200 votes separating the candidates at 63 percent; two other Republicans in the race as well getting a fair share of the vote so very competitive for obvious reasons, this is one of the states - - this is a Trump state Democrat if you will. There are 10 Democratic Senators running for re-election this year in states the president carried. Jon Tester's in a state the president carried by more than 20 points so Republicans view this as an opportunity, that's why you have so many good candidates running, very close at the moment.


This is one we're going to be watching, once we get a Republican candidate, we currently lean this race Democratic because because Tester is a proven candidate in the state.

But once we get a Republican nominee, we'll look at the polling. Republicans would, very much, like to turn that into one of the yellow tossup states. And they think by November, maybe they can lean it red. It's going to be one of the fun ones between now and November.

LEMON: Mr. King, thank you, sir. I appreciate that. I want to turn, now, to the White House aide who made a very cruel joke about Senator John McCain. She is no longer working there, tonight. Joining me now is CNN Political Commentators Keith Boykin and Alice Stewart. This came as a surprise and wasn't a big announcement.

So, Alice, I'm going to start with you. Good evening both of you, or morning depending on where you are. So, let's start with the news that...


LEMON: ...Kelly Sadler, that's her name, the press aide who joked about John McCain dying out at the White House, but not due to her McCain comment. I mean, the New York Times is reporting that Sadler was pushed out because of her constant fighting with the White House Director (INAUDIBLE) communications, Mercedes Schlapp, over who is responsible for some of the leaks. What does that tell you?

STEWART: Well, it tells you they are more concerned about leaks than some of the content that comes out of the White House which is unfortunate. Look, let me just tell you this. I know Kelly Sadler.

She is a good person - a very good person who said a very bad thing. And I'm actually quite surprised that she wasn't let go when the McCain comment came out because it was an extremely hurtful and disparaging to someone who was a hero to this country. However, they made the decision to keep her and stand by her. But as

we've seen time and time and time again, this White House is super concerned about leaks, as they should be, because there are a lot of them. But they seem to be more concerned about that then the content of the information that comes out of this which I think is quite disturbing.

LEMON: I think we should - let's go through memory lane here because there's always a video tape. So, Sarah Sanders dodging questions after question about Kelly Sadler's comment on whether the White House would take any action. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does she still have a job?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to comment on an internal staff meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the White House not thing that you need to condemn these remarks or comments (INAUDIBLE)?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to validate a leak, one way or the other, out of an internal staff meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that she didn't say this?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to validate a leak out of an internal staff meeting, one way or the other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Kelly Sadler still work at the White House?

SANDERS: Yes, she does.


LEMON: Well, I mean, that was convenient. After a month, they quietly let her go.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, this is the White House that doesn't apologize for anything. And so, it's not surprising that they wouldn't apologize for Kelly Sadler's remarks. And yet, they, of course, wanted other people - they wanted Samantha Bee to apologize. They wanted Michelle Wolf to apologize. They wanted Colin Kaepernick and other African American athletes to apologize for their behavior.

I think there's an inconsistency that everybody can see, obviously, and the question is when will the Republican Party finally start to hold the President accountable?


LEMON: Yes. I - I want to switch gears now. I have so much to talk about with you guys and especially Alice because you're in Philadelphia tonight. I see the beautiful shot of the city hall behind you and I want to talk about this uproar about President Trump abruptly uninviting the Eagles to the White House.

Sarah Sanders says that this was a political stunt meaning from the Eagels, but as we reported, this is an issue that the President views as something that could help him in the midterms. Isn't that, kind of, a political stunt?

STEWART: It could be viewed by many as a political stunt on both sides, but clearly the President has been very consistent on where he stands on this issue. He clearly believes and I support him and the notion that Americans across the country should stand for the national anthem and show support for our military, and show support for our flag, and show support for our country. That being said, I went to seven Eagles games this year and all the players stood for the national anthem in all of the games.

So, that wasn't an issue with this Eagles team. So, the - the problem that we have is some mixed messages, unfortunately, coming out of the White House that sometimes some would say it was because of the national anthem and sometimes it - the final statement was that the fact that the Eagles originally committed to having about 80 people come to the White House. And it ended up being just a handful and maybe the mascot and the water boy which wouldn't of been very good optics for the President.

That being said, sure, for the President, this is good for his base. They support him on this issue. They believe that he is right to stand by our military and the national anthem. And for him this was good way, not only to throw red meat to his base, but also to get a jab at the NFL which he has always loved to do because he wasn't welcomed in to the NFL Boy's Club.

LEMON: Yes, but political strategy and, you know, this is from a deposition from Colin Kaepernick that came out that he told one of the owners, you know, this is a winning - this is a very winning, strong issue to me. Tell everybody you can't win this one. This one lifts me. Is he using this controversy, which is - has to do with race, as a political tool?

BOYKIN: Oh, yes, of course. I mean, the guy doesn't know the words to God Bless America. He doesn't even remember when to put his hand over his heart when the national anthem is going on. He is not a patriot. He's - he's a person who's using patriotism as a - as a tool to manipulate his base to keep them in this constant fueled up, gemmed up perpetual outrage.

Clearly, this is a problem because Donald Trump has acted this way to be divisive toward our country and no one is stopping him from doing this. That's the tragedy about this whole thing. When will someone actually hold the President accountable?

That's the issue I'm faced with again and again. And, Alice, I understand your point about, you support the President's ideas about the national anthem, but we both know this was never about the national anthem. It was never about that and - and Donald Trump is trying to conflate these issues to confuse his base. LEMON: Yes, listen, I got to run. Alice, I would let you respond otherwise. But, again, since he changed the narrative on this, lots of Americans do support him and lots of Americans don't. It's about 50 - 50, really 49 to 47 which is really a statistical tie when it comes to that.

So, the country is really divided over this issue and we're going to continue to see it play out and as we - as he said, as we've been told, through the midterms. Thank you, both, I appreciate you joining us. That's it for us tonight. Thank you, so much, for watching and I'm going to see you right back here tomorrow. Have a good night.