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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Accuses Sessions Of Hurting GOP In Midterms; Racist Robocall Targets Dem In Florida Governor's Race; Dems' Four-Pronged Attack Plan On Kavanaugh; Mollie Tibbetts' Dad: Don't Exploit My Daughter's Death; Rising Star Hopes To Topple 10-Term Democratic Congressman; Tropical Storm Gordon Gaining Strength As It Heads Toward Gulf Coast. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Every storm is different so this is one to watch. 10:00 tomorrow night.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be watching closely. Tom Sater, thanks very much. I'm Jim Sciutto. Thanks very much for watching us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" with Kate Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, President Trump slamming Jeff Sessions again. Furious the Attorney General is not helping him politically. Is that how it's supposed to work?

Plus, the father of murdered college student Mollie Tibbetts ripping into Donald Trump Jr. demanding he and others stop using his daughter's death to push what he calls racist views.

And Democrats searching for a win as they prepare to take on the President's pick for the Supreme Court. New details on how they hope to score political points. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT. OUTFRONT tonight, Trump fumes. The President railing against his Attorney General, yes, again. This time for apparently not considering politics before the indictments of two Republican congressmen, two men who were some of Trump's earliest supporters.

Tweeting, and there's a lot here, so follow me. "Two long-running Obama-era investigations of two very popular Republican congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge just ahead of the midterms by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job, Jeff." A quick refresher for you, those two Congressmen, Chris Collins of New York, charged with insider trading, and Duncan Hunter of California, charged with using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for things like personal trips and personal shopping sprees. Those two seats no longer solidly Republican.

Losing those seats would no doubt hurt Trump politically and that is what it seems to have the President so furious today. But please consider this, this isn't just another tweet, just another evening of Trump popping off on social media, the President is mad because the Justice Department, which is supposed to operate free of political influence or meddling, because the Justice Department is doing its job. He's mad DOJ isn't considering politics first and justice second.

Remember, it was less than two weeks ago that Sessions pushed back against the President's repeated attacks, saying this, "While I'm Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations". The fact that Sessions will not pick sides is raising now new questions about his future, especially after the President today compared his Attorney General to former FBI Director James Comey, tweeting -- of course tweeting, here it is, "The Democrats, none of whom voted for Jeff Sessions, must love him now. Same thing with lying James Comey. The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusted until I fired him. Immediately he became a wonderful man. A saint-like figure, in fact. Really sick". Until I fired him. A sign of something to come for Sessions now?

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live at the White House for us. So Kaitlan, I do wonder with all of these. And there is a lot the President put in those two tweets. Why is the President tweeting about this today when the indictments, they're not new?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, they're not. It might have to do with the President's schedule today, Kate. He had nothing public on his schedule sent out to reporters today but we did see him preparing to leave the White House for an outing today, getting into the Presidential motorcade in a red polo shirt and baseball hat, typically the attire he wears when he does go golfing. But instead, as soon the President and you can see there he got into the motorcade and then quickly got back out and went back into the White House where he spent the day making calls, watching television and tweeting these attacks on Jeff Sessions.

Now these attacks were the most noteworthy of all the President's tweets because they don't follow his usual line of attack on Jeff Sessions, which typically has to do with the Russia investigation and the fact that Jeff Sessions recused himself. Instead, the President was going after him about the decisions, implying that the Justice Department should make these decisions based on what their political consequences are going to be. Talking about these two Republican congressmen and saying essentially that Jeff Sessions before the Justice Department indicted them should have considered what the consequences could be for vulnerable Republicans this fall in the midterm elections before he did so.

Now, that's quite unusual and we haven't heard a lot of response from Capitol Hill, even though it is Labor Day, but we've only gotten statements from Ben Sasse and Paul Ryan so far, criticizing what the President said. Paul Ryan not going as far as Ben Sasse did for what he said here. But, Kate, what this shows is that the President's frustration with Jeff Sessions is much more widespread than just the Russia investigation and that he's also feeling this sensitivity ahead of these midterm elections, something that could threaten his presidency if Democrats do take over Capitol Hill. But this is really stunning in and of itself, Kate, that the President is telling his Attorney General that he should be making decisions at the Justice Department based on who the President's political allies are.

[19:05:14] BOLDUAN: Yes. If there was a question before, it seems the President is making pretty clear what he thinks the role of the Justice Department is at this point. Kaitlan, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, Val Demings. She sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman, thanks for coming in.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Kate, for having me.

BOLDUAN: So your reaction tonight to the President lashing out at the Attorney General and the Justice Department for pursuing these charges against his lawmakers, mad for what appears to be no other reason then that it could hurt him politically.

DEMINGS: Well, you know, every time I think President Trump has topped himself, he outdoes himself. It looks like all of the king's men have either been indicted, pleaded guilty or preparing to go to prison and I think the President is feeling the heat. But this latest stunt, you know, I didn't think I would be able to commend or applaud Jeff Sessions for much, but I do at this point, he's doing his job.

My colleagues in the House, Hunter and Collins, have been indicted because there is probable cause to indict them and they did wrong. It has nothing to do with politics. I applaud the Attorney General for not allowing politics to play into that indictment. And the President just says, like I said, he has topped himself in this case.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, you opposed Sessions' nomination. I mean, you sign on to a letter opposing his nomination, so you defending him tonight is a statement. I mean, the President complaining in his tweet today that the charges against the Republican congressmen came is the way he puts it, just ahead of the midterms is how he put it. If these were Democrats, would you have a problem with the timing?

DEMINGS: Look, I served as a 27-year law enforcement officer, served as a chief of police, it is what it is. And there obviously is probable cause for these indictments and whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, we should move forward. And you're absolutely right, I did not approve of Attorney Jeff Sessions' confirmation, but in this case involving these two colleagues he is doing the right thing and I'm glad he is not surrendering to the pressure from the White House.

BOLDUAN: We'll see if he -- how much longer he's there. Again for the 100th time, we have to wonder aloud, does this mean that he will be firing Jeff Sessions any time soon? It hasn't happened in the umpteenth times he's talked about him or slammed him before. I do want to ask you about something else regarding Jeff Sessions.

In a new court filing, former Trump campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos, he's the guy who pleaded guilty in the Special Counsel's investigation to lying to the FBI, he claims both Sessions and Trump supported his proposal during the campaign that Trump should meet with Vladimir Putin. He put this in a court filing, his attorneys did, and he says, then that directly contradicts what Jeff Sessions told your committee in a public hearing. Here is Jeff Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes or no. After the March 31st meeting did you take any steps to prevent Trump campaign officials, advisers or employees from furthering outreach with the Russians?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Nadler, let me just say it this way, I push back at that. You made statements that the he did, in fact -- at the meeting, I pushed back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, do you think Jeff Sessions lied to you?

DEMINGS: Well, obviously based on his statement that he pushed back he was obviously aware of it, and we'll just have to see. I mean, maybe we need to bring the Attorney General back in and do some additional questioning of him regarding this incident because we are in search of the truth. We need to be in search of the truth and the American people, as you know the polling shows clearly that overwhelmingly the American people are in support of the Special Counsel, his investigation and getting to the bottom of it. So maybe we just need to bring the Attorney General back in after this new information has come to surface.

BOLDUAN: Chances, though, with Republicans in control that you're going to get that?

DEMINGS: We certainly can ask for it and I know that our Ranking Member Nadler certainly will make that request. I think we should make the request. I think we should make it public. And like I said, really appeal to the American people to have this done.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, I also want to ask you about the race for governor in your home state of Florida. The Democratic Candidate, Andrew Gillum, he's Florida's first ever black nominee for governor. He was the target of a white nationalist robocall. His opponent Republican Ron DeSantis, another one of your former colleagues -- one of your colleagues, he denounced the call but this also comes after DeSantis himself has been now coming under fire for saying this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:10:01] REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: Let's build off the success we've had on Governor Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: DeSantis says his comment, that comment had nothing to do with race. You've spoken out against what he said. Are you surprised that race has become an issue in this campaign for governor in Florida? DEMINGS: Kate, I really wish that I could say I was surprised. No, I am not surprised. The day after Mayor Gillum won the nomination, here we are dealing with race. I think that Ron DeSantis, who I do know, I serve with him on the Judiciary Committee, if he was not aware that his choice of words were inappropriate looking at the history of this country, the hurt, the pain that we have gone through, through slavery, segregation, discrimination, dehumanization in this country. He knew or he should have known. And the fact that he made the statements that he did just demonstrates to me that he is not ready for the position that he is seeking, the highest position in the state of Florida. I mean, enough is enough. Let's deal with the issues and leave race out of it.

BOLDUAN: Do you think Andrew Gillum should speak out more forcefully? I almost feel like you're speaking out more forcefully on this than he has.

DEMINGS: Well, I think, you know, I know Mayor Gillum very well. He is more than qualified for the position, the office that he seeks. I think Andrew is doing right now what he's always done and that's to be focused on the issues that the state of Florida, the people in the state of Florida care about. He's not being distracted. He's staying focused, but believe me, there are enough of us, black and white and others, who are speaking out against this racist comment that was made by Andrew's opponent and we will continue to do so until we can get race -- if we ever can do that, out of the middle of politics in Florida.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thanks for coming in. I appreciate it. Thanks for coming in on Labor Day.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

OUTFRONT next, the President's Supreme Court pick about to face a grueling confirmation hearing, probably the fight of his life. We have new details on the Democrats' plan of attack.

Plus, a blistering rebuke from the father of Mollie Tibbetts telling Donald Trump Jr. and others to stop using her murder for political gain.

Plus, we have some breaking news. Hurricane warnings now in effect for parts of the gulf coast. Many people are being urged to evacuate as Gordon gains strength and heads straight for land.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:28] BOLDUAN: Tonight, we're hours away from the high-stakes battle on Capitol Hill over President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court. Hearings begin tomorrow for Brett Kavanaugh, a judge who, if confirmed, will swing the balance of the court and impact the direction of the country for years to come.

OUTFRONT now, Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan and CNN Senior Political Analyst, Mark Preston. Great to see you guys ahead of what is going to be a monumental week of hearings. You have new reporting, Manu, tonight, on how Democrats plan to target Kavanaugh during these hearings. What is their plan?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, Democrats have fully acknowledged that defeating Brett Kavanaugh is still an uphill climb, but expect a very contentious line of questioning when the members start to question him on Wednesday. The four areas of Democrats in particular are going to pin down on, one, what they view as his untruthfulness in answers that he gave the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in key Bush administration issues when he was a White House aide back in 2004 and 2006 when he was testifying before the committee at that time. As well as his views on the Affordable Care Act.

There is a very significant case being led by Texas right now to overturn that law. They're going to try to pin him down on his views about pre-existing condition protections. In that law, whether or not he believes they're constitutional as well as whether or not his comments of that Roe v. Wade is quote settled law is that actually means that he would not overturn that landmark abortion case and how he views the investigations of a sitting president, particularly the view of executive power, because in the past he had voiced skepticism about whether a president can be indicted. And also expressed hostility towards an independent counsel, which is, of course, separate than a Special Counsel like Robert Mueller, but expect a lot of questions on those four areas. If he does not answer them, expect them to characterize him as evasive and hope that they can convince some Republicans to vote no, ultimately, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So Mark, one of the issues that Manu is pointing out here, Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights, already a huge issue for many, but including one Republican, Republican Senator Susan Collins. And her vote is a big question here. She met with Kavanaugh, as Manu's talking about. Afterwards she said that he told her it's settled law, Roe v. Wade. What exactly, I do wonder, what does that mean for a justice? I mean, at the very least, does it mean that Collins is a yes?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, nothing's ever settled in the United States Senate, as all of us have spent a fair amount of time up there, until the vote is actually cast, right. So we don't know. She hasn't necessarily said which way she's going to vote, other than as Manu points out, she seems to be leaning towards voting for Brett Kavanaugh.

Now, if that happens and Lisa Murkowski supports him as well, votes for him as well, then it's over, they have enough votes in the Senate. Republican senators have a nice clean, easy win. Mitch McConnell does, Donald Trump does.

But let's also take into consideration, you have a lot of red state Democrats that are up for re-election this year. When I say a lot, anything more than one is a lot. And they are defending themselves in Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia. If you look at those states, those states are a lot different than states such as Massachusetts or Rhode Island, so, you know, if a red state Democrat could come across and could support Brett Kavanaugh for this, you know, for this vote.

[19:20:02] So while we are focused on Susan Collins, we are focused on Lisa Murkowski, there are also those red state Democrats that have to appeal to voters in their state.

BOLDUAN: April, from the White House's perspective, how confident is the President going into this?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, those close to the President and the President are confident that Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed but the President is still, you know, Mark was absolutely right about these red state Dems. For those red state Dems who oppose, the President is going to go after them, according to my Republican sources.

This President needs this win and he wants to have a complete easy win, if that is possible. Because right now he's under such a political crisis and attack in his mind over this Russia investigation. This would be a win and they believe that they're going to get it, but if there is any opposition, the President is going to take no prisoners he's going to go after them.

BOLDUAN: That might be the only thing as to shorten this. Manu, I talked to Brian Fallon earlier today. He is helping lead the -- he's helping lead the outside opposition to Kavanaugh. And his group is one of the groups pressuring the folks we're talking about, red state Democrats, to oppose Kavanaugh. And I asked him if there should be consequences for any Democrat who ends up voting in support of Kavanaugh. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETART FOR HILLARY CLINTON'S 2016 CAMPAIGN: I think that the people that are out there knocking on doors and calling on the phones for voters and turning out the vote for these Democrats, they're going to be less inclined to want to do those types of tasks that it's going to win in November if Democrats do not do everything they can to fight this nominee now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Manu, how intense is the pressure on those Democrats right now? I mean, do they fear backlash from voters on this?

PRESTON: Undoubtedly, yes. Because this is the real challenge for those red state Democrats. They have to be concerned not just about those Trump voters and their overwhelmingly Republican states but also their base. Even in a state like West Virginia where Joe Manchin is up for re-election, there is a very vocal contingency on the left who Joe Manchin will need to come out to the polls in order to push him over the top of what could be a very close race. Probably even more significantly in a place like Indiana, in North Dakota as well.

And if they were to side with the President on these just weeks before the election, those same voters would be potentially suppressed. So this is what makes it so hard. And which is interesting, Kate, because when those red state Democrats met with Brett Kavanaugh, who did they not want to be seen with? Brett Kavanaugh. So they did not invite cameras in the room. They did not let reporters in because it's such a difficult vote for them and they just hope it it's going to be over some time soon.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's going to be quite a week for them, to say the least. April, one of the big issues, Manu's talking about it, that Kavanaugh is facing is his position on executive power and investigations into a sitting president. Due, of course, to his past remarks that presidents shouldn't be distracted by investigations. Is the White House worried about that becoming a big issue? Because where does that squarely put the attention even if that's not where it ends up with Kavanaugh?

RYAN: Kate, the optics are ugly when it comes to this. You wonder, you know, there are various issues on the table to include, you know, Roe v. Wade. That deals with the President's base. But there are people who are questioning, was Kavanaugh actually nominated because this is something that really hits the President personally? Not to indict --you know, Kavanaugh does not believe in indicting a U.S. President.

And that is the question, you know, did the President do this about the -- make this nomination about the American public or was it more personal? And the optics of these are not great at all. And this President is keenly aware that Russia -- this Russia investigation is an albatross around his neck and he is making this conspiracy, saying it's a witch hunt, but at the same time he's being strategic in who he nominates to the Supreme Court in case it does go down that road. And he needs Kavanaugh. It's an ugly situation.

BOLDUAN: One audience on Capitol Hill, another audience, all the American voters watching what's going on in Capitol Hill. Great to see you guys, thanks so much. Mark, I'll talk to you in a little bit. Stick around for me, please.

OUTFRONT next, former President Obama reportedly about to hit the campaign trails. But can he rally voters when he's not on the ballot? And the crucial race that's turning into a better fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:21] BOLDUAN: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT. Donald Trump Jr. back on the campaign trail as a top surrogate for his father. His latest line of attack blaming the murder of a young woman on Democrats' immigration policies. An undocumented immigrant is charge with the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts. It's a case that has made national headlines.

Trump Jr. took to the page of Des Moines Register Friday to call Democrats' reaction to her death despicable. But just one day later in the very same paper, Mollie Tibbetts' father responded with this in part. "Do not appropriate Mollie's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. She may not be able to speak for herself", he says, "but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency on behalf of my family and Mollie's memory, I'm imploring you to stop."

OUTFRONT now, host of "Ben Ferguson Show", Ben Ferguson and former White House Communications Director under President Obama, Jen Psaki. Thanks for coming in guys, I appreciate it.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hi, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Hey there. Ben --

BEN FERGUSON, HOST, "BEN FERGUSON SHOW": Good to be here.

BOLDUAN: -- Tibbetts' father says in the same piece that they had appealed to politicians and pundits already to stop using her death to push their agendas. And he said that many did and that they're grateful to that. Why can't the President's family do the same, do you think?

FERGUSON: Well, I mean, I don't know if they'd ever reached out directly to them or if they knew this. I do think that you certainly should talk to, you know, listen to the family when something like this happens. I've had a picture I'd put up on Facebook a couple of years ago of a lady who was crying over a casket and talked about thank you for their service to this country and the family contacted me and said it's just too hard for us to see this picture.

[19:30:03] We appreciate, you know, how this has gone viral but we're tired of seeing it out there, would you please take it down? And I did, you know? That's a situation where they said, thank you, but look, it's just too hard for us.

I don't blame this father for what he's saying there. I have no problem with him saying please leave my daughter out of this. There is also the reality when you have an unsecure border and you have an illegal immigrant that commits a heinous crime like this, that it has to be talked about and it should be.

Can you have that conversation while leaving this tragedy or the names out of it? Absolutely. I think the White House moving forward, you'll probably see that they'll do exactly that. And that's because you have a father here that is grieving.

I think this is the hard part about talking about real issues in politics, when people actually die, and yet this is an important issue that voters are going to have to deal with with the midterm elections at the same time.

BOLDUAN: They definitely want to make it a big issue in the midterms.

I mean, Jen, you worked in a White House --

FERGUSON: It's an issue before them, yeah. The president, look, without immigration, I don't think -- I mean, that's the big issue that this president was able to connect with voters on first and foremost when he talked about a secure border. Without that issue, he wouldn't have jumped to the top of the polls in the conversation during that primary.

So, this is a core issue for Trump supporters. They want a secure border. They don't like it when illegal immigrants are able to commit heinous crimes.

BOLDUAN: Jen?

PSAKI: I think it's important for people to remember when many Republicans started going on television and talking about this case and using this case as a symbol of what they were running for, it was the same time that

the Manafort trial was moving forward, when there were all these court cases that everybody was watching on cable television. This is disgusting. And, obviously, I agree with Ben that I hope people stop doing this. This is horrible to the family.

But at the end of the day, when a white man rapes a woman, we don't talk about how all white men are rapists. Obviously, there is a discussion here happening in this country about immigration, but what's coming from the right is this hateful racist rhetoric, and this also brings that to light and I don't think we should forget that.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Ben --

FERGUSON: It's not racist rhetoric when it's a reality on the ground. I mean, I've done multiple radio shows where I've had people on my show who are victims of heinous crimes. I've had a rape victim on my show who was the victim of a crime of an illegal immigrant in this country. I've had a mother whose daughter was killed by an illegal immigrant.

That's not racist. I'm talking about reality.

PSAKI: I think the problem, Ben, is that what you're talking about here is every immigrant is not going to commit crimes.

FERGUSON: Listen to the word that I'm saying. I never said that. I never said that but we don't have a secure border.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: I think, Ben, there is an irresponsible --

FERGUSON: We don't have a secure border, Psaki.

BOLDUAN: Wait a second. I think one fact, data point is important to point out, by and large, illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than --

PSAKI: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- American citizens commit crimes. The data bears that out.

FERGUSON: Right. But that stat doesn't matter to someone who is a victim of a heinous crime at the hands of an MS-13 gang member. When you live in a country like the United States of America, you expect your communities to be safe and you also expect you're going to have a secure border. That is exactly why this is such an important issue to voters.

And when you try to say if you're in favor of a secure border that's somehow racist rhetoric, that's when people go to the polls and they roll their eyes at the absurdity of that. I live in -- look where I am. I'm in Dallas, Texas.

BOLDUAN: Uh-huh.

FERGUSON: Go look at the statistics here of how many illegal immigrants commit crimes, heinous crimes in Texas. Go look at how many children have been killed, how many women have been killed, how many people have been raped by MS-13 gang members. This isn't a talking point. This is a reality on the ground for many Americans in Texas.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Jen.

PSAKI: You're reaching for statistics here. I also think the statistics here are clear. And what you're trying to do here is, one, change the subject --

FERGUSON: No, I'm not. I'm trying to talk about immigration.

PSAKI: You're trying to make an entire portion of the population here evil and criminal. That is absolutely not true. That is also a form of racism.

FERGUSON: It's not what I said at all. It's not a form of racism. I'm going to defend myself. If you that if I'm a racist because I don't like rapists that happen to be illegal immigrants, I'm fine with that. I've talked to these victims. I live in a border state.

BOLDUAN: What do you think about cherry picking what --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: It's not cherry picking, it happens -- it's not cherry picking when you have a significant number of people that are coming across the border illegally that are hurting the U.S. economy. And then you have a small -- and I admit, it is a small portion of those people who come across the border and also commit heinous crimes. But when you see this happening and it is in your community and you see the reality of it, it is not racist to say, this is a bad plan. We need --

PSAKI: Well, Ben, I think if we were talking about -- if we were talking about things that were --

BOLDUAN: Final word to you, Jen. [19:35:00] PSAKI: -- if we were talking about things that were

killing people in this country, we would talk about guns and the fact that guns are in the hands of far too many people.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: We can talk about that, and in the hands of illegal immigrants.

PSAKI: I'd like to love hear you and others like you talk more about guns and the impact of them on our children and young people.

FERGUSON: I talk more about guns all the time. I'm a victim a gun crime. I'm a victim of a gun crime. You can try that line with somebody else. I've had a gun to my head by an American citizen who got the gun illegally who was a convicted felon.

I have no problem talking about guns. But I can talk about illegal immigration without having to defer to guns or to say that you can't have that conversation because somehow it deals with racism. There are people that commit heinous crimes that are illegal immigrants. If you talk to those victims, it is an important issue to them and it has nothing to do with race.

BOLDUAN: And tonight, we were talking about this victim, Mollie Tibbetts. Her father, their request. Read what he said in "The Des Moines Register." I know you guys both did. I implore everybody else to read it.

Guys, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

PSAKI: Thanks, Kate.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, with just hours before polls open, one candidate is hoping to pull out a win that could change Democratic politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe that there is a paradigm shift that is occurring and there are winds of change that are afoot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Plus, a dangerous storm triggering hurricane warnings for the Gulf Coast. We're going to take you live -- we're going to go live now -- we'll be going live with new details on what's forecast to become Hurricane Gordon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:20] BOLDUAN: We're just hours away from the polls opening in Massachusetts and a key race for the Democratic Party. Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley is hoping to topple longtime Representative Mike Capuano. A rising star taking on a ten-term congressman.

It's a race already being compared with a huge upset in New York when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated another 10-term congressman, who is another upset in the making.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AYANNA PRESSLEY (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FROM MASSACHUSETTS: My voice is waning but my spirits are not.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ayanna Pressley shaking up a Democratic primary in deep blue Massachusetts.

REP. MIKE CAPUANO (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I feel great. Look, we've done everything we can do.

MARQUEZ: Progressive Congressman Mike Capuano has served in Congress for 20 years, representing an area once held by John F. Kennedy.

(on camera): Is there something bigger going on in Democratic politics?

PRESSLEY: There is. I do believe that there is a paradigm shift that is occurring and there are winds of change that are afoot.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Her campaign slogan, change can't wait. Pressley was the first African-American woman elected to the Boston City Council. On the trail, she talks openly about being raised by a single mother and being a survivor of sexual assault.

PRESSLEY: I'm the only candidate in this race that's talking about more than resisting Trump. You see the systemic inequalities and disparities that are worsening under this administration.

MARQUEZ: Pressley is hoping to ride the insurgent wave that swept other progressive minorities such as New York's Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, Georgia's Stacey Abrams, and Florida's Andrew Gillum to primary wins. To do it, she'll need to turn out new voters. The seventh district is majority minority, nearly 60 percent nonwhite, but not when it comes to voting.

STEVE KOCZELA, THE MASSINC POLLING GROUP: Overall, the population is majority minority in the district, but when you get down to first who is registered to vote and who actually votes and then who votes in a Democratic primary, historically that's been actually majority white.

MARQUEZ: Voters here torn between an incumbent they know and trust and a challenger representing a new voice in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm leaning towards Pressley.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really like her story. Capuano is great but I think I resonate with her story a little bit.

RICK HENDRICK, MASSACHUSETTS VOTER: I think he's done a great job. He's been a strong progressive voice. I don't believe he's too old or too tired.

MARQUEZ: For Capuano his consistent, progressive, liberal record speaks for itself.

CAPUANO: The Democratic Party, like all party, the Democratic Party is no different. We always have issues internally. That's what families do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now, the polling here has showed Michael Capuano, the incumbent, up consistently by at least 10 points, but the X factor is whether Pressley can bring out those voters who don't get out to vote very often, African-Americans, the economically dispossessed, young people who maybe have not voted before. No one taking any chances here. Both candidates have run a very aggressive campaign.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thanks, Miguel. We'll soon find out.

Mark Preston is back with me now.

Mark, you grew up in this area, of course, a proud son of Boston. Capuano's no moderate if you look at his record, watched him over the years. What's going on here? Do you think --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Well, yes, I mean, look, a couple of things are going on here. You're seeing this Democratic Party right now in transition. It began really under Barack Obama, but I really do think that Donald Trump has sparked excitement, energy, within the Democratic Party which is then leading to these Democratic primary battles that we've seen.

Of course, what we saw up in New York and this one right here, I'll tell you, the Democratic establishment, Kate, though, is not very happy about this. They don't necessarily want to see energy spent on these interparty fights. They'd rather see that energy spent on trying to knock off Republicans in districts across the country.

BOLDUAN: Well, find some energy because this is what's happening more and more we're seeing. If Pressley wins, of course, we'll wait and see what the polls show tomorrow, but what does that say, what does that mean for Democrats in Washington?

PRESTON: Well, a couple of things. One, we would perhaps be looking at a total remake of the Democratic Party or the beginning of a remake of the Democratic Party. The first person I think that would certainly be in the sights of losing a very important job would be Nancy Pelosi. Now, Nancy Pelosi, for all the criticism that people have about Nancy

Pelosi within the party, as you know, Kate, she raises an incredible amount of money. She's a very skilled political and legislative tactician and she was the first woman speaker.

So, in this era of the #MeToo movement, you could see someone like Nancy Pelosi have to step aside if House Democrats were to take back the House of Representatives and she were to be in line for the speakership.

[19:45:08] These young voices could cause a problem for Nancy Pelosi if that were the case.

BOLDUAN: You're going to make a guess right now? Is Capuano heading back to the Capitol or do you think Pressley's going to walk in there?

PRESTON: Listen, as you said, we don't know. State polls are very much in up in the air. I will say this, Capuano is a street fighter, 20 years in Congress. He was a mayor of Somerville, which was a very tough town. He did a very good job at the time.

So, who knows? We'll see tomorrow night.

BOLDUAN: Everybody stand by, I'd like to say. Thanks, Mark. See you, man.

PRESTON: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, hurricane warnings in effect as Gordon's powerful winds are now lashing the coast of Florida. New details coming in on the storm's track.

Plus, Joe Biden is running, literally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Breaking news: Tropical Storm Gordon is now expected to become a hurricane just before making landfall after lashing parts of South Florida with heavy rains and strong winds. Gordon is now in the Gulf of Mexico, heading towards the Mississippi and Alabama coast, where hurricane warnings are now in effect.

[19:45:02] And in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards has just declared a state of emergency.

Tom Sater is in the CNN Weather Center tracking all of this for us.

Tom, what's the latest track for this storm?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like if I have to give it a bulls-eye, it's going to be pretty close to Slidell, Louisiana. New Orleans, Kate, looks like is on the western flank, which is the better area to be, but everything to the east is going to have some impacts. It doesn't look very impressive at all in the satellite imagery. In fact, last night, it was just a cluster of storms. But once it moved across south Florida into those warm waters of the

Keys, it blossomed. It wasn't even declared a tropical depression. National Hurricane Center went right to a storm and notice in red where we have our warnings, that's east of New Orleans over towards areas of around Pascagoula.

So, all the models take it in a pretty good clip at 17 miles an hour. That may help us out. The faster these storms move, the less amount of rainfall it can drop. So, even though flooding is going to be a concern, we're looking at a landfall category one, probably around 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. tomorrow night.

Again, the question is how much time and space does it actually have to develop? And then it will find it continuing to lose strength, but still provide some pretty good rainfall. When you look at the radar picture of the Keys, Key West anyways has been spared. But heavy amounts of rain, four, six inches have already fallen in south Florida as it moves in that direction.

BOLDUAN: As a cat 1 as you mentioned when it makes landfall.

SATER: Right.

BOLDUAN: What kind of damage can this storm do?

SATER: Well, that's a great question because we all should know now it doesn't take a category three, four, or five hurricane.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

SATER: I mean, depressions and storms, you know, can down a tree, a power line in your weakest.

Tropical storm-force winds are going to spread out pretty far from the parishes of Louisiana up into the areas of southern Alabama. Mississippi, of course, obviously, the big problem is going to be the storm surge, I think. This area is very vulnerable as we all know.

So from Plaquemines Parish upwards, including New Orleans, close to it, just to the east, but again, that's going to be Biloxi. It's going to be all the way to Pascagoula. I think Bay Saint Louis can have a problem, three to five-foot storm surge. And again, when you look at the amount of storm surge moving in at three to five feet, that is significant.

So, rainfall, again, four to six inches. But don't be surprised if we see maybe a seven, eight, even a 10-inch rain total, and that will pose a threat for rescue workers. And look at the inundation map when it comes to the parishes of Louisiana and then you get up to the north, all the way toward Pascagoula.

So, those are the main threats. I think with the system moving fast, the rain total should be on the lighter side. There is the first to affect the mainland U.S. It's been a quiet season, and we're halfway through. The peak is next Monday. Who knows what could happen after that. BOLDUAN: OK. Let's keep our fingers crossed that thing gets in, gets

out and moves on its way. Thank you so much, Tom. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next. Jeanne Moos on Joe Biden. He's running.

And we're just about -- we're just about an hour away from the CNN film "RBG", about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I'm proud to nominate this path breaking attorney, advocate and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: We may be in trying times. But think how it was in those days, the judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become of me could happen only in the America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a super hero I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known to fans and the world over as the "Notorious RBG".

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:06] BOLDUAN: The four words have left some people breathless tonight: Joe Biden is running.

Here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's definite.

REPORTER: Mr. President, what's your thinking about 2020 at this point, sir?

MOOS: He's running, literally running. Here he is running from the side, running from behind. People at the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade were urging Joe Biden to run for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need you, brother. You can do this.

MOOS: But who knew if he would run immediately, even if all he was running for was to catch up to his assigned position in the parade after stopping to meet and greet folks. True, we've seen Biden run before. For instance, in a Let's Move fitness video with President Obama.

What was running from my mind? Have we ever seen President Trump run?

Critics crack that the only thing he runs is a golf cart. But we found him semi jogging over to police to shake hands. And remember when a Greenpeace protester and a paraglider buzzed President Trump's golf course in Scotland? No wonder he ran. A few steps to shelter.

Trump and Biden have already exchanged blows.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: No, I wish we were in high school, I could take him behind the gym.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said I'd like to take him behind the gym. I dream of that.

MOOS: But why dream when we can actually see Biden running? Someone suggested this needs "Rocky" music. Critics could have a field day with word play, saying Biden is a running joke and President Trump excels at running -- his mouth.

TRUMP: You know what you do with Biden? You go like there.

MOOS: Not if he can outrun you.

TRUMP: And he'd fall over.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: So he is running, right?

Thanks for joining us, everybody.

"AC360" starts now.