Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Ohio Special Election Too Close To Call. Aired 11-12m ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Top of the hour. This is "CNN Tonight," I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. Live with our breaking news, it is out on Ohio in that special election too close to call in Ohio's 12th district. CNN's -- our political experts are here with me, but first I want to get to CNN's chief national correspondent, John King. John, what are the results at this hour? What can you tell us?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, the results this hour tell us that Troy Balderson is leading tonight. We can't make that official though for a number of reasons. I'll get to the big reasons in a moment. Let me just show you the vote count. Troy Balderson is ahead by 1,766 votes. He is the Republican candidate, so he is probably about to celebrate tonight. I will get to the but's, in a minute.

Just the fact it's that close is interesting. But if Troy Balderson hold on and wins, he will have Delaware County to thank for it. Right here, Franklin County, the big for the Democrats, Delaware County came in for Troy Balderson tonight. The numbers here, too, not just the 54 percent, the numbers there are nearly 5,000 vote margin in Delaware County. That was enough to offset the big margin Danny O'Connor had down here.

Let us come back to the district, we will keep it at the county level, so you can see the breakdown. All of the votes, we are not going to que votes from precinct tonight, but all of the votes we expect to be accounted tonight. Here's the issue. Troy Balderson will go to bed tonight in the lead, 50.2 percent, to 49.3 percent. This is what is outstanding.

We have absentee ballots still to be counted, outstanding absentee ballots. Doesn't mean it all come in, but the Secretary of State says, there are more than 5,048 to be exact, outstanding absentee ballots. There are also more than 3,400, 34, 35 is the number provisional ballots. These are somebody who shows up at a precinct. The local precinct worker is not sure they belong there. They are not in the right place, they cast their provisional ballot. The legality of that, the appropriateness of that gets checked in the days ahead.

So, you have here, 8,400 plus change their votes, 8,500 votes roughly still to be counted or sorted out. It doesn't mean it will be this number in the end, but the Secretary of State says 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots, 3,435 outstanding provisional ballots. The question is, does it change this? In most elections, to be honest with you, it does not, in most elections, even when you go through this, these tend to stand. But this one is pretty close, 1,766 votes. The Republicans will be breathing a sigh of relief tonight, but the lawyers, the election watchers will be involve tomorrow, Don. We won't be able to say who officially wins for a little bit.

LEMON: I just want to ask you, John, you said this is a moral victory for Democrats. If it was this close tonight, I am sure you still believe that, what does this mean, come November?

KING: Well, you just heard, Danny O'Connor, the Democrat, he did not concede the race by any means, but I think he knows in the back of his mind it is more likely than not he is not going to win tonight. And therefore he is on the ballot in November. This district will be fought again in November. All the money that was just spent in the special election, guess what, welcome to running again in November.

Now, the Republicans will argue your best shot was in this lower turnout special election, but this race will stay on the map, especially given this, again, the last Republican who won here it was a blowout. A Democrat has not represented this district since Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. The fact that Danny O'Connor is within 1,766 votes is a moral victory for the Democrats. A moral victory, it does not get you an office in Washington. You have to win the election.

Other Democrats around the country will think of it as a moral victory saying this proves to them that the landscape is very favorable for Democrats. If the Republicans are having a hard time in solid red Republican territory, then if you are a Democrats running in a Republican district say that Hillary Clinton carry or Republican district to the incumbent just squeaked to victory, you feel pretty good tonight and you think this is proof, this is proof Republicans are in trouble.

If you're Danny O'Connor, you're a little disappointed, you're looking for a few more votes here. But, you're going to have your people looking at this tomorrow. Before we can sign, seal and deliver this one, they've got to go through the rest.

LEMON: Mr. John King, thank you very much. I want to get back now to my political dream team. Gloria, you were wondering if someone would take credit for this.

[23:05:00] If the Republican candidate actually pulled it off so the President just tweeting now, when I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting, 64-36, that was not good. After my speech on Saturday night there was a big turnout for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win big in November. Again, the President calling it. We're not calling it now. It's too close to call. There are a lot of things that go into it, but it looks like likely if things continue to go.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right and of course, Donald Trump is taking credit, but I want to say who else should take credit for this victory, if it is a victory, and that is John Kasich. Because John Kasich's the guy, if Balderson wins, who brought out those suburban women who don't like Donald Trump in Delaware County, and those moderate Republicans? Now, you're giving me the evil eye. I'm not saying I'm not giving Trump any credit, but let me say, even though Kasich was late to the game, he did endorse the Republican. He is popular in the state.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.

BORGER: More popular with Democrats and independents than Republicans, but I do think that Kasich could have also pushed this for a Republican win.

SHIELDS: Sure. There's a lot of things that go into an election victory, but Donald Trump coming into the district not only juiced turnout, guess where he came, Delaware County.

BORGER: Right.

SHIELDS: That is where the rally was. So the idea that he didn't have an impact in Delaware County --

BORGER: I'm not saying he didn't.

SHIELDS: I know, but I think there's been some talk about that. Look, I think there's two things that are really important to talk about. One is, the President came in in the special when we lost in Pennsylvania and we were down and we only lost by 1,000 votes. If I should have had him there sooner. And so he can absolutely talk about how he came in here and turned this around. The numbers of what he tweeted about were accurate in terms of the early vote. The second thing that is really important, --

LEMON: Down by 64 to 36.

BORGER: That is so misleading, the early vote. I mean, Democrats always over perform in the early vote. That is like saying, oh my goodness, he was down 1 percent precinct voting, and I came in and all of the sudden he had this miraculous victory?

SHIELDS: What I am saying -- I was going to make a second point. Hang on a second. First of all, what he said is a fact. Second of all, there's another really important thing that happened in this race. We are talking Jason Candor said say what you actually believe, don't try to trick people.

Danny O'Connor went on television and would not answer who he would vote for speaker over and over again. Look incredibly political and kept saying we need new leadership, we need a leadership. Chris Matthews finally nailed him and said will you vote for the Democrat nominee for speaker, who will be Nancy Pelosi. He said, yes. That was a massive turning point in this race. It told Republicans what this race was actually about. Nancy Pelosi represents -- she had worse numbers than Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 election. That will play out in suburban district after suburban district to our advantage. And that was a massive thing that happened. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was a fumble,

because he was on the right side politically on this issue where Connor Lam and many other Democratic candidates are when I say the right side, I mean, they are saying very explicitly, they will not vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker or leader or whatever it will be. And he did say that beginning and he fumbled that in a big way.

SHIELDS: It's also not true. They will vote for Pelosi. She will be nominated, and if they don't -- if they won the house. Hang on a second. If they won the house, right, and Pelosi's on the floor, this isn't in the caucus, it's a floor vote, they don't vote for Pelosi, guess what, Kevin McCarthy is going to be the speaker. And Matthews --

BASH: OK. We don't want to get into this.

BORGER: It's not going to happen.

BASH: She cares enough about the party and about keeping Democrats in control, if that is the way that the numbers play out in November, that she'll make sure that somebody else is the leader. Regardless of that -- she'll make sure --

(CROSSTALK)

Sorry.

LEMON: Can we see what's happening now?

(CROSSTALK)

OK. Listen. Guys, I got to get Balderson. Balderson has taken the stage. Stand by everyone, Balderson has taken the stage, let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO LIVE FEED)

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

TROY BALDERSON, (R), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm honored, very honored for the opportunity to represent the voters of the 12th congressional district and who they have bestowed on me. I have so many people to thank tonight, some behind me right here, my son Joshua, his fiance Chelsea, getting married next April. My girlfriend Melanie. I want to thank god. More importantly, my mom and dad who aren't able to be here with us this evening. The thousands and thousands of volunteers that worked this grassroots campaign. Thank you all very, very much for all that you have done. The phone banking, the door knocking, all of it, it's been phenomenal and it's a great honor for me. I'd like to thank President Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS) [23:10:00] Mr. President coming to town. And I'd also like to take

the time to thank Vice President Pence.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

And the big shoes that I'll be filling, I wouldn't have got through a lot without him through this process, Congressman, Pat Tiberi.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

I'd also like to take this opportunity and time to also thank Chairman Steve Stivers, a great asset to me and has been helping me all through this process. Chairman, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

There's many others. I could just keep going on and on, but tonight I'm going to promise to you that I'm going to work relentlessly, relentlessly for this 12th congressional district.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

America is on the right path, and we're going to keep it going that way.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

It's time to get to work. Over the next three months, I'm going to do everything I can to keep America great again. So that when we welcome -- when we come back here in November, get ready, we've got to come back here in November.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

I have earned your vote for a second time. Danny O'Connor ran a hard race, and I look forward to campaigning against him again this fall. Thank you all so much for all your support. God bless you, and God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO LIVE FEED)

LEMON: That is the Republican candidate for the congressional race in Ohio, Ohio's 12th congressional district there. Danny Balderson -- I'm sorry, Troy Balderson. Essentially declaring a victory. Listen, we have not called it yet. All the votes are not in, but if things continue on in the way that they are going, it is likely that Balderson will be declared soon the official winner of this. I want to bring back in now my political dream team. Gloria, I think it is interesting, because you mentioned John Kasich.

BORGER: He didn't.

LEMON: He did not. He mentioned Trump, he mentioned Pence, he mentioned the person who had the seat before, but he did not mention John Kasich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And many others.

LEMON: And many others. And the rest, like Gilligan's island.

BORGER: You know, obviously Kasich was late to the game, Kasich was grudging in his endorsement, and that was obvious, and he did it, and I still believe that Kasich helped him.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And also because of the comments Kasich made on the Sunday shows, on Sunday questioning whether Balderson requested Trump to come there. And that was that may out of news where Balderson had to come out and said I was happy to have the President come here.

BASH: He doesn't like Kasich either.

LEMON: I've got one quick question for Ryan, before we get to break here. Because the President loves to talk about how he backs winners. But I just want you to check this out when Trump has made endorsements in Republican primaries, he is 18-1, right? But when you look at the general and special elections, he is 1-3. What does that say about his candidate's chances in November?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is another indication that this is Donald Trump's Party. The candidate here didn't even thank the governor of his state.

SETMAYER: Who held that seat?

BORGER: Who also held that seat when he was a member of the house, Kasich's seat, for years?

LIZZA: That is right. It was his seat. And there's no doubt about it in these primaries, there are a couple of other races we're watching, one in Kansas, to see if Trump's candidate won, but in Michigan, Trump-backed candidate I believe has won, John James.

So in primaries and Republican primaries they are all about who is the Trumpiest candidate, there is no doubt about that. On the other hand, this special election would not have been close if not for the backlash against Donald Trump and his policies. So Balderson was fighting for his life here, because of Trump. HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That is a really important

point. Trump's margin has gone down in this district. You know, he won this district by 11 points. Now we're at 0.09 here. So the trend is moving the wrong direction. It bodes well for November.

LEMON: everybody stay with me. When we come back, we are going to have much more -- many more results on another race where the President made a controversial endorsement. How that candidate is faring tonight. We will be right back.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news, special election in Ohio's 12th congressional district which should be safely Republican, too close to call at the moment. I want to bring in now James Fallows, he is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the co-author of "Our towns, a 100 mile journey into the heart if America." that he co-wrote with his lovey wife. Good evening, thank you for joining us.

JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you.

LEMON: By historical measures, James, this should not have been a race.

FALLOWS: Sure.

LEMON: What's happening?

FALLOWS: As you've been discussing for the last hour, it's become an election, a special election about Donald Trump. And I think the contrast with two years ago, when Deb and I was traveling this same town is that it was -- there's been a very effective movement saying that how bad Hillary Clinton was. There wasn't a focus of anger in the same way.

LEMON: So, too close to call tonight, what does that say for the midterms?

FALLOWS: Well, I will again, defer to the political experts you've had here for the last while. But certainly, if I were a Republican manager, I wouldn't be feeling good about this.

LEMON: Yes. So, you traveled to these towns and you mentioned, you know, you said there was sort of a big anti-Hillary Clinton, right?

[23:20:03] Most of the cities you visited were medium size towns like, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Greenville, South Carolina, where people are -- they are dealing with the local impact of issues, because of these tariffs and the trade war. Are their concerns being heard?

FALLOWS: One of the things that was most striking to Deb and me as we were traveling around, the disconnection between the realities of local life, whether it was assimilating immigrants in a more or less successful way or having the long, slow recovery of the economy of the past, eight years, and the fury that was released when you talked about national politics. So, I think that, we'll see how that -- you know, you had the rhetoric

from the Republican convention of American carnage and things like that. And people sort of separated that bitterness of national politics from the generally improving realities of local life. And again, it was focused on Hillary Clinton who is not there as a target this time.

LEMON: OK. So, I think, you said bitterness. Is this sort of bittersweet, because the margins are much, much closer this time for, you know, Republicans, which this district has been Republican for a while, but it is a win, bittersweet?

FALLOWS: It is a win. Certainly a win is a win, a loss is a loss. One more seat where the Democrats won't have an incumbent running in three months and Republicans will have an incumbent. Bu again, I can't imagine any Republican making a case this is a good night for them except, perhaps, the Republican at the top of the ticket who just did.

LEMON: Do you think that -- because, I mean, he plays really, really hard to the base. Do you think that helps or hurts him? Does this show that that may come back to bite him?

FALLOWS: Well, historically Presidents have found there's certainly -- there's a base that elects them, but they all have to expand beyond that. They all have until this, Herbert Hoover when he was running for reelection in 1932 in the depths of the depression against Franklin Roosevelt, still got 40 percent of the vote. You know, there is a base, but to be reelected, you usually have to expand beyond that. So, let's see whether that logic starts to prevail this time.

LEMON: But the people who are motivated are the base.

FALLOWS: Yes, but there was a motivation that point, that really struck me, is two years ago there was a motivation, a really negative feeling about Hillary Clinton personally. You are mentioning earlier in this show, on how Nancy Pelosi, when she was rolled into the election, it became about her. There was some kind of revving up of bitterness. Perhaps that we have the turnout, the question will be, and without something like Hillary Clinton to run against Donald Trump, whether there will be that same fury three months from now.

LEMON: And it pretty strikes, smart strategy, he needs a foe, whether it's the media, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, whomever, he needs a phony and knows that plays well with his base.

FALLOWS: Yes. And again It's worth emphasizing how historically abnormal this is that American Presidents have all been fighting Presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt and onward, but they usually have been fighting to expand their base. And that is one thing we haven't seen so far from this one.

LEMON: "Our towns, a 100 thousand miles journey in the heart of America," is your book, you provide a road map on how the heartland needs to change. Talk to me about that. What should change in the heartland?

FALLOWS: So, essentially we are saying is that already - at just the time there's such bitterness and dysfunction at the national level, there is across the country, a kind of reinvention already going on which is what the people sense that their communities are doing well, even when they think the nation is doing poorly.

LEMON: James Fallows, thank you very much.

FALLOWS: Thank you so much.

LEMON: And as you mentioned, The heartland, speaking of heartland, we're going to go to Kansas right after this with all my political dream team. We'll be right back.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. We're back now with our special election coverage, back with me now with my political dream team, talking about this big race tonight. So, Gloria, let's talk about -- let's go to Kansas now. Because --

BORGER: ATM?

LEMON: Click your heels three times. If you look at that there is, Jeff Colyer, who is -- Republican by the way, Jeff Colyer, who the President is not supporting, 40.6 percent. Kris Kobach is the President's guy, 40.5 percent there. He put his endorsement behind Kris Kobach. Was that risky?

BORGER: Well, I mean, he took on the incumbent governor, which is rare for a United States President to say, you know what, I'm going to go against the incumbent governor. But you know, Trump likes people who are loyal to him. Kris Kobach was loyal to him. He served on the President's voter integrity commission, remember that, where the President said there were 3 million votes that were cast, but not counted. Was that the way --

SETMAYER: Fraudulent votes.

BORGER: Fraudulent votes. And that never went anywhere, of course, but the President is very loyal to Kobach. And of course, Trump won the state by about 20 points in 2016. So it was risky for the President, because you're going -- you're going against one of your own guys.

SETMAYER: But he also went against the establishment. The establishment did not want Trump to endorse Kobach. They wanted Colyer.

BORGER: Democrats are hoping to win.

SETMAYER: Absolutely, which is the same situation about good for primary, but good for general election. And Kobach is very controversial. The illegal immigration issue is basically Kris Kobach's bread and butter that is what he is known for. He has, actually there was an expose recently written about him, how he is made a music man type career out of going around to small towns and milking them for lack of legal fees to defend these illegal immigration ordinances or regulations or laws, and his record isn't great. He is lost a lot of them, and some of these small towns have been left in debt in order to pay his legal fees for this illegal immigration crusade that he has been on which is something also that endears him to Donald Trump. So, Trump says, you know, I don't care what everybody says. I'm endorsing my guy.

BORGER: Trump is not a Party guy. Trump is not a Republican Party guy. He is a Trump guy.

SETMAYER: He is a Trump guy.

SHIELDS: I disagree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Donald Trump has been -- for someone who believes in parties, right. Donald Trump has been a dream for the Republican National Committee. He is raised money. The worst thing we could have is someone who doesn't care about the primaries and says, I'm working on 2020, I will see you guys later. He gets involved in primaries, he cares about what is going on, he reads data about these races all the time, he raises money for the party.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not an establishment guy.

SHIELDS: He is been a tremendous party builder.

BORGER: I'm not endorsing your incumbent governor when you are President of the United States.

SHIELDS: Kris Kobach was an office holder who is a very early endorser of President Trump.

BORGER: He was. So it's loyalty.

SHIELDS: So those people hold it. It was a little bit of a late endorsement. He also, as you mentioned earlier, he endorsed John James in Michigan.

BORGER: Right.

SHIELDS: Very exciting candidate for Republicans, an African-American military helicopter pilot. So he's done pretty well in these endorsements.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: Are you proving a point when she says he's not a party guy, if he's not supporting the traditional party candidate, that makes --

SHIELDS: I guess I disagree. When you say not a party guy --

LEMON: It's different to say that he has been -- you can say he has been good to the Republican Party.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He has people who endorse him.

SHIELDS: He did not say I'm president, but I don't really care about the Republican Party.

BORGER: No, no, I didn't say that.

SHIELDS: He is a party guy. He has built the party. Well, he's built the party. In the special election in Ohio, the RNC did over a million door knocks in the close election. Those funds to pay for those ground walkers are coming in from the president.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But we should focus on if Kobach wins.

LEMON: That's what I want to say, Dana. She said good for the primary, not good for the --

BASH: That's right.

LEMON: Go on.

BASH: Right. And it's --

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Kansas is so red.

SETMAYER: Kansas is red. He's very controversial.

BASH: Kansas is red. He's controversial.

SETMAYER: Alabama was red, too.

BASH: And there have been Democratic -- Democrats elected statewide in Kansas. And the party as a whole is not doing well because Sam Brownback, who only left because he was appointed by the president, was in horrible shape.

SETMAYER: Nineteen percent popularity.

LEMON: Lots of cuts that people were -- that affected the voters, yeah.

BASH: Budget cuts. And so people are not feeling good broadly about the Republican Party because of Sam Brownback and that situation there. So, if that is the case and if we do have, remember, the Democratic enthusiasm that is going on across the country, even in red states like Kansas, that could make a difference.

And it could hurt someone like Kris Kobach and help a Democrat become governor. And when you look at the Democratic Party -- Hilary, you know this far better than I -- to build back the party that lost a thousand seats and nationwide during the eight years of Obama, the governor's mansions are where you've got to do it too.

LEMON: All right. Stand by, everyone. Back now to our coverage of special election in Ohio. Really too close to call. Let me bring in now CNN politics senior writer and analyst, here s Harry Enten.

Harry, thank you so much for joining us. Balderson was up one point in the Monmouth poll before Trump came to Ohio. What effect did the president really have? He's tweeting tonight, claiming victory for this. What effect did he have?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, if he was up by one point before Trump came in and he wins by one point, then I think the logical conclusion is that Donald Trump had no effect on his visit. That doesn't mean Trump didn't have an effect on the campaign but his individual visit doesn't seem like it moved the numbers at all.

LEMON: So, what can you say about turnout, and how important that is? I know that Democrats have shown up in droves in other special elections.

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, if you look at the turnout throughout Ohio 12, you actually see Franklin County which is where Danny O'Connor did best, actually made up a larger share of the vote than it did in 2016.

Unfortunately for him, there wasn't enough persuasion. That is enough Republicans did come out and voted in the other parts of the district. But overall, the numbers do seem to indicate that there was a lot of Democratic enthusiasm, not just that so many turn to to vote early but in the share that Franklin County made up of the vote overall.

LEMON: About -- Harry, about 70 districts in Ohio that are currently held by Republicans are more Democrat-leaning now. What does that mean for November?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, keep in mind that this is a very Republican district. There are about 70 districts nationwide that are currently held by Republicans, but Democrats have done better in recent presidential elections. So that, to me, indicates that if you're jumping ahead to the full, the result tonight is actually good news for Democrats.

And one other thing I'll point out, is we keep talking about the presidential vote, but if we look at all the elections that have taken place in Ohio over the last six years, it's even more Republican- leaning than the presidential result indicates.

So the fact that this race ended up so close, to me, again, is another sign that when we jump to November and there's a more even playing field, Democrats will do quite well.

LEMON: I want to put up one of your tweets. You tweeted this earlier. You said, "lots of talk about last talk about the rural/urban divide tonight. This district is about 10 points more rural than the nationwide median. This is by census definition, another example about how November turf will be friendly to Democrats." What are you seeing, and why is this so important? Why are you saying that?

ENTEN: I mean, look, one of the great divides in our politics that continues to be greater and greater and greater is that Democrats are doing better in urban areas and Republicans are doing better in rural areas -- Democrats are doing better in urban areas and Republicans are doing better in rural areas.

And we saw that again tonight, right? Where O'Connor carries Franklin County which is the most urban part of the district and then Balderson carries the rest of the district which is much more rural.

So if again you jump ahead to November and you're going to have districts that are more urban than this one, it's a median district and there's going to be a lot more room for Democrats to grow their support, Ohio 12 was not the best place for Democrats to win.

[23:35:02] The fact that they came so close is again a very bad sign for Republicans.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, though, Harry, because maybe this is the practice rounds. Maybe Republicans will get their acts together and say, you know what, we need to do better, we need to have better turnout, we can't just rest on our laurels (ph), that is a genuine possibility, don't you think?

ENTEN: Well, of course. Look, we're still months away from November. But if you look at the polling data, it is all supportive of what we've seen in the special elections so far, that is Democrats turning out in much higher numbers than they did in 2014.

The last midterm elections, Republican turnout depressed or at the same levels. And more than that, it fits with what historically we've seen, that is when there is a Republican president, Democrats turn out in higher numbers in midterms that when there is a Democratic president.

So everything to me fits a very nice little tidy box. Now of course, elections are still strange things, strange things can happen. Maybe there is an event that occurs. But every single thing that we've seen so far indicates that this is going to be a good enough November that Democrats are going take control, but that's why we let the games go, and we'll see what actually ends up happening.

LEMON: Nothing drives people to the poll like what, fear, I think. So, we'll see. It could be fear on the Democrat side or on the Republican side. Thank you, Harry. We will see you a little bit later on the program. When we come back, much more on tonight's elections, the Ohio race, too close to call.

Plus, Paul Manafort's former business partner taking the witness stand for a second day, giving details of alleged illegal activities, he says, they committed together. But is he coming across as a credible witness? We'll discuss.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back now. We are following all the developments in the race in our special election coverage. Let's go to Kansas now. Let's look at the one in Kansas now. Kris Kobach just pulled into the lead now, 40.9 percent to Jeff Colyer's 40.3 percent.

Again, this one is too close to call as well, and keep in mind, Kris Kobach is the candidate that the president threw his support behind. Jeff Colyer, though, is the incumbent there. So an interesting move by the president. We'll keep you updated on that.

We have other news that we need to cover, another big night tonight to cover, lots of new stories. So Rick Gates, the former right-hand man to Paul Manafort, cross-examined by defense lawyers. Manafort is facing multiple bank and tax fraud charges.

Let's break it all down now, CNN contributor John Dean, a former Nixon White House counsel. Good evening, Mr. Dean. Thank you so much for joining us.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Don.

LEMON: Manafort's lead attorney tried to undercut Gates' credibility asking, why the jury should believe him after all the lies he told? Do you think Gates is coming across as a credible witness?

DEAN: All I have is secondary sources, having not been in the courtroom. But he certainly appears, from all sources I've read or heard, to be doing very well. He's been open, he's been confessional, admitted his own mistakes, and I think that resonates with the jury.

LEMON: Yeah. From your vantage point, and you've gone through similar with Watergate.

DEAN: I have.

LEMON: Do you think the prosecution is proving its case so far against Paul Manafort?

DEAN: I do. I think they had -- what they did with this witness, with Gates, is just the reverse of the role I had. I was the lead-off witness and put all the furniture on the stage and all the players in the chairs, sort of testimony. Explained the big picture. And then they corroborated me with other witnesses.

Here you've done the reverse. You've got -- the accountants have all testified, a lot of paper and documents, and then Gates is pulling it all together and giving it -- flushing a little bit out.

LEMON: So this is -- I found this -- what was revealed today to be pretty interesting because Gates is also claiming that Manafort asked for inauguration tickets, host to the Trump administration, even tried to secure a secretary of army job (ph) for a banker from whom Manafort allegedly sought fraudulent loans. How damaging could this potential link between the Trump campaign and Manafort's activities be? DEAN: Well, we know this witness, Mr. Gates, spent a lot of time with first of all on the front side before he agreed to a plea deal with the prosecutor. That came out in the testimony, some 20 meetings. So he's obviously got a lot of knowledge that goes way beyond this trial. And I think that those just came in by accident in the cross- examination today.

LEMON: Yeah. The president's legal team, John, has been really clamoring for Mueller to put up or shut up. Do you think they should be careful what they wish for?

DEAN: Well, I don't think they have the strong negotiating position they think they have. If Mr. Mueller really wants this, the president as a witness, he'll send a subpoena. I think all we know about the Mueller position is coming from the president's lawyers. I'm not sure they're the best source to really understand these negotiations. But anyway, that's all we've got at this point because Mueller is not coming out and explaining his position.

LEMON: So, listen, I want to get to some reporting from CNN and also from the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that federal prosecutors are investigating whether President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, whether he committed possible tax fraud or possibly committed tax fraud with his taxing medallion business

And sources are telling CNN that prosecutors have subpoenaed his former accountant and are looking at questionable bank loans. Does this put more pressure on Cohen to cooperate?

DEAN: I think it does. He has announced he is going to tell the truth. He is going to come forward.

[23:44:58] I don't think he's going to waive the fifth until he gets a deal or he may not get a deal and he will never testify. But I must say that Wall Street Journal has always been well plugged in at the southern district and their reporting is generally very accurate out of that source or out of that location.

So, this is troubling for Cohen. He's got real problems. These are serious crimes. Bank fraud typically carries about a 30-year sentence, maximum. And as I say, he's got to make some decisions soon.

LEMON: All right. John Dean, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. I want to bring it back to the group now in this one.

DEAN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. I want to bring it back to the group now because this is -- Michael Cohen, your reporting and your reporting as well, do we know how all of this will affect the midterms? Is it too early to tell? There's a lot of information going back and forth.

BORGER: The Michael Cohen story? Or the Mueller?

LEMON: Just the Manafort, Michael Cohen, the Mueller investigation. BORGER: You know, when you talk to Republicans out in the field, they say Russia is not an issue. It just doesn't come up. People care about their pocketbooks. They care about what's going on in the world. They care about trade, tariffs, tax reform, everything else. It doesn't seem to be Russia.

Democrats care about Russia. Democrats overwhelmingly think it's a large issue. They trust Mueller. The president has done a very good job in discrediting Mueller, his popularity has plummeted. And I think that is a problem for Mueller.

So, whether it affects the midterms depends on when Mueller decides to do whatever he's going to do. Is the president going to testify? Will this happen before the midterm elections? Or will it carry over until after?

LEMON: We follow every detail. I mean, some nights, I sit here and --

BORGER: Do we?

LEMON: -- say wait a minute.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Yeah, do we --

BORGER: Tell us about it, yeah.

LEMON: Yeah, the circus.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I sit here and I say, wait a minute, which -- you know --

BASH: Yeah, I know.

BORGER: Yeah.

LEMON: Manafort, Flynn.

BASH: It's hard for us.

LEMON: Right. Is it too much information possibly for people? Because people didn't -- if you asked John Dean, people didn't initially care about Watergate until they had to care about Watergate.

BASH: It's so true. Loo, the answer is yes, and Republicans are relying on the -- or the president, I should say, is relying on kind of the cloud of confusion that there's just so much discussion, so much chatter.

And for a while, the president's political team, they were looking at numbers that showed that the more there was a discussion about Russia, the better it is for Republicans out there because they -- for some of those on the fence, even those who are maybe not thrilled with the president's tweets and some of the chaos, felt, you know what, like enough already. Let's just wait until this ends, enough already.

LEMON: Yeah.

BASH: We don't want to hear, you know, the pounding away at the president on this issue so much. So I think it's -- look, it's up in the air. But at this point, it seems like it's a wash.

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: There are a lot of Republicans who believe that they can use impeachment for the president.

BASH: Right.

SETMAYER: Yes, it will drive out turnout.

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: That's right. Drive out their turnout.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Look at the race in Ohio. Danny O'Connor did not talk about Russia.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Democrats are not talking about this on the campaign trail. Danny O'Connor did not talk about Russia. He talked about social security, he talked about health care, he talked about other things.

LEMON: Good strategy.

ROSEN: It's the only strategy. I think what Democrats do believe is that the president is generally lying.

LEMON: Yeah.

ROSEN: And so that bigger picture, I think, is holding Democrats on this issue, and that's why they believe in Mueller.

LEMON: The president lying -- when we come back, our breaking news, the Ohio special election too close to call, plus more results from other races coming in.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is our breaking news right now, CNN projects that Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, he will face Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill come November. And in Michigan gubernatorial primary, CNN projects that Bill Schuette will be the Republican candidate and Gretchen Whitmer will be the Democratic Party candidate.

We are keeping an eye on that Kansas GOP governor's primary as well where Kris Kobach who was endorsed by the president, by President Trump, neck and neck now with the incumbent, Governor Jeff Colyer. My My political team is back with me. You're anxious.

SETMAYER: Yes. I just want to say something that is interesting, that The Washington Post put it out today. It's been the poor fate of lieutenant governors for Republicans. It's been a terrible election cycle for them.

And this is also what we're seeing play out in Kansas with it being so close. But also in Michigan, in Ohio, in Oklahoma, in Georgia. All of those places, the incumbent lieutenant governors lost miserably because of something similar to what Dana brought up earlier with the effect, the drag of the incumbent governor not being popular or the prevailing wins against the establishment.

All of those things have not played out well for lieutenant governors running. But you know who's been the beneficiary, it's the attorney generals of these states, because they are involved in high-profile cases whether it was prosecuting the Obamacare issues, you know, against that, during the health care debate or the immigration issues.

It's giving the attorney general in these states a higher profile and a less establishment portfolio because it looks like they're fighting for something and you're seeing this play out now in all these governors races.

BASH: Can we quickly go back to what you were calling there in Missouri?

[23:55:02] We have been talking about the House. We have have been talking about governors' races. But the Senate is still razor thin. And so now we have a Republican candidate to run against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. And Republicans feel good about this candidate.

Claire McCaskill is a very tough competitor, and she has eked it out and what has been trending was more of a swing state than trending more Republican in Missouri. And this could be a really and will be a really fascinating race to watch and will be one of those that will determine whether Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Gloria, please.

BORGER: I agree with Dana. Look, we're focusing on these House races now because it's much more likely the House is going to flip --

LEMON: Yeah.

BORGER: -- than the Senate. But if impeachment does become an issue, the Democrats would need the House and then two-thirds of the Senate, right?

LEMON: Yeah, two-thirds.

BORGER: Two-thirds. And so a race like Claire McCaskill would be hugely, hugely important. But let me say one thing about tonight, if the president gets a Balderson win, if Kris Kobach wins, we're going to get some more tweets --

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: -- from the president --

LEMON: No.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: -- congratulating himself --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Any endorsed colleague.

BORGER: Exactly. So, and --

LIZZA: The flip side of that is, Trump won this Ohio district by nine points. If Balderson wins, it will be about by a point. And Kobach is probably of all the candidates in the primary --

BORGER: I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: That's right.

BORGER: I agree but a win is a win.

LEMON: OK.

LIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: Yeah. And I wasn't being rude. The reason I was saying it to -- I need to get Gloria in, because Dana (ph) and Gloria, thank you. Everybody, you get to stay, all right? Stay with me. At the top of the hour, our breaking news coverage of the the special election in Ohio. The Republican candidate is leading. The race is to close to call tonight. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)