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President Trump Rally Chants "Send Her Back!" After Extended Attack Against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) is Interviewed About President Trump's Racist Tweets And His Attacks Against the Four Congresswomen. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 17, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

And in case you were wondering how President Trump would react to being reprimanded for posting racist tweets about four non-white Democratic congresswomen, the answer came late today and again tonight. On the south lawn of the White House and then a rally tonight in Greenville, North Carolina, he renewed his attacks on them.

And we have new reporting tonight on how this all came to be behind the scenes and how these attacks on the four and the assault on the norms of presidential behavior which the House of Representatives condemned only yesterday claimed to be seen by the president as a political winner, as something to keep doing, which he certainly did tonight, going through their four names one by one as the crowd chanted "send her back".


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you see the four congresswomen, oh, isn't that lovely?


Representative Ilhan Omar.


Her colleague, Representative Rashida Tlaib.


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


So, Representative Ayanna Pressley.



COOPER: The president tonight also referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, yet again.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the event, she joins us now.

So, Kaitlan, talk a bit about what you've been hearing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we should note first off, these are scripted remarks. The president is reading from the teleprompter and White House officials spent the day talking about how fiery reporters should expect tonight's rally to be.

So, what the president has said tonight about each of these congresswoman is something that was preplanned, he started with each of them, calling them by name, starting with Representative Ilhan Omar where when the crowd started chanting "send her back", of course, she was born in Somalia, came to the United States as a child refugee and then became a U.S. citizen as a teenager. They started chanting "send her back".

The president paused a moment to let that chant grow some momentum here in this arena in Greenville.

And then you saw the president move on to the other of that group called "The Squad", Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who the president said had too many names for him to go after, and talking about the comments she made on the conditions she saw at those border detention facilities, before the president eventually going on to talk about Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, as well.

This is something we are expecting the president to lean into that attack that he made on Sunday when he said that these women who have been critical, not only of the president but of U.S. policies to leave the country and go back to their home countries, although the other three that he is going after were born in the United States.

But we are fully seeing how the president went from advisers seeing that tweet as a stumble, Anderson, to now fully leading into the strategy, something that they are predicting is going to be a strategy going into 2020, something the president is fully previewing tonight saying, essentially, if you elect more people like those four congresswomen, that is what it is going to be the future of the country.

COOPER: Kaitlan, you talked about the chant of "send her back". Is that for all the congresswomen tonight, or was that just for the first congresswoman who was born in Somalia and became a naturalized American citizen?

COLLINS: I should note, it was just right after he started talking about Ilhan Omar. She's the only one who was not born in the United States. Someone in the crowd, you heard them reference Somalia before they got to that, chance but it was the president's supporters who started that chant, not the president.

But he did pause a moment to let it, essentially, build momentum which, of course, is the center of what the president tweeted, what the attacks that many said were racist, because he was telling people to go back to their countries. But I should note that before the president arrived, I spoke with roughly ten of his supporters here in the arena who said they did not view that attack as racist and that they agreed with the president sentiment, that if you don't like the country, you should leave.

So, certainly, he is finding it much friendlier crowd here than we was in Washington where he was facing a heavy amount of criticism for that tweet.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate it.

Now we have more reporting on how the president came to see going after these congresswomen as a winning strategy. Let's go to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House for that.

So, Jim, I understand, the president -- he clearly believes he's winning this conversation, he said that the day. Can you explain what CNN sources are saying?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, I will tell you just to amplify what Kaitlan was saying, I talked to a source close to the White House earlier who said WTF about the president's tweets earlier in the week but now thinks the president is a genius.

[20:05:04] This is according to a source close to the White House who advises the president. So, clearly, there are people, aides and advisers around the president, who thought this was a mistake when he tweeted that these four Democratic congresswomen can go back to where they came from and now, they see a political winning strategy in all of this.

I would say, Anderson, they just talked to a source this evening who said the Trump campaign has sent around fresh talking points to their surrogates, and one of these talking points essentially says that Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has lost control of her caucus as a result of these numbers of the so-called squad. And according to one of those talking points, Pelosi, quote, seems to be going off the deep end.

So, they are getting very personal, not just with these four members of the squad but also with the House speaker, as well.

COOPER: And so, were White House advisers aware that the president was going to go down this road? Was this something planned or was it something the president did on his own?

ACOSTA: Anderson, from all appearances, it appears this is something that he did on his own. That he wanted to go after these for Democratic congresswomen because they have been so sharply critical of him. But what they have been doing over the last several days, aides and advisers, have been essentially trying to connect these four members of the squad to the rest of the Democratic caucus.

And, you know, according to one GOP officials that I spoke with earlier this evening up on Capitol Hill, this all seems very, quote, intentional ever since. And so, yes, Anderson, it does seem after the president fired off his racist tweets that made many people inside the Republican Party privately aghast, not so many publicly, the party as a whole seems to be moving towards the president in terms of using this strategy and weaponizing these tweets that so many Americans and so many people here in Washington just thought they cross the line and where beyond the pale.

It now seems as though the president has inadvertently stumbled upon something he continues to want to do -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, looks like it. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Congressman Paul Mitchell who was among a number of Republican lawmakers who decried the tweets, he did not -- he was not among the four House Republicans who voted yesterday for the resolution condemning them. The congressman joins us now.

Congressman Mitchell, thanks so much for being with us.

First of all, I'm wondering what you make of the president continuing to go after these congresswomen tonight and also the crowd response of send her home for one of them?

REP. PAUL MITCHELL (R-MI): I wasn't aware that that was part of his political strategy. I think we need to focus on more civility. Frankly, we need to address problems that we have in this country and you can't do that when you are name-calling.

And both in the House itself as well as in the White House, we need to work on actually having civility and talking about the issues and not personal attacks because we are really not accomplishing much, in my opinion, on Capitol Hill. We spend time with -- and see what names we can trade one another, simply not productive in this way. My tweet was it's beneath leadership to do this. And frankly, I felt the resolution only exacerbated the situation.

COOPER: Yes, I want to read part of what your statement was on Twitter to -- you said, inflammatory statements targeting anyone on the base of their ethnicity or origin are wrong.

Do you see -- I mean, targeting someone based on their ethnicity or origin -- do you see these comments as racist?

MITCHELL: Well, let me put it this way. My youngest son we adopted from Russia, and someone said that he is not American, that will be fairly personal to me.

I don't think -- identity politics are destructive to this country. They are separating us from our solutions to problems. And, you know, Anderson, we've got problems.


MITCHELL: Immigration, cost of health care, pharmaceuticals, go with whatever you want. But we're not talking about those things right now. What are we talking about? We are talking about who is the most unpleasant person? Who's the most un-American?

It's something not addressing what we need to address to deal with our immigration problems. It's a whole long list. We're not doing that.

COOPER: Yes. You also said on the radio, I think it was on Monday. You said: We don't tell people to leave the country just because we disagree with them.

You know, I was -- you look back in history books and whether it was people coming from Ireland to escape the famine, Irish, there were signs -- Irish not allowed, go back home. Russians, Germans, Italians, certainly, I mean, every wave, Chinese, who came.

So, in this day and age, to have an auditorium full of people whipped up by the president to chant send her home, it's depressing to me. The politics aside, it just seems like, is this really where we still are?

MITCHELL: Well, Anderson, my family came in through south Boston. I'm Irish. They came in during the potato famine.

A lot of immigrants come into the country. What we expect of them is that they will work to be Americans. They will work to accept our American system. They will work to make improvements, if they wish.

But I think the idea that we -- I criticize people based on their identity because they don't agree with a political position -- it is no way to solve problems, as I said.

[20:10:08] We've got to talk about policies, rather than talk about identity politics, which people make wrong assumptions about people when they do that. And it's destructive.

COOPER: The president said today that he is, quote, not unhappy with the result of his comments. CNN reporting from those acknowledging the president says he considers this whole conversation to be a political success for him. So, it seems likely that it will continue.

I know you said, I think it was on the radio you said perhaps in a statement, you told the White House about your concerns about the statements earlier and that you would like to be able to sit down with the president for ten minutes or so and talk about your concerns. It doesn't seem like that's a conversation that even if it happened would have much meaning for the president, given that tonight he is -- it's a cliche to say doubling down or tripling town but he has gone all in on this.

MITCHELL: Well, first, I think his elected officials, a member of Congress you stand up for your principles in the policies you said you would pursue. My principles, I say that using identity politics is the wrong way to go about this.

I believe in my district, it's not a productive thing to do. The tenth congressional district was a big supporter of Donald Trump, there are a lot of supporters there. I support his policies. This tactic in terms of political strategy, I

have questions about it. I'm not the president, but it's not my style and will not be my style going forward.

COOPER: So, you spoke out on Twitter about it and very eloquently tonight, you ended up voting against the House resolution to condemn his language. Can you just explain that? Some people said -- you know, how do you thread the needle? But maybe you say it's, you know, one was political, one is more of sort of ethical stance.

MITCHELL: Well, I think the resolution itself, first, you couldn't read the title of the resolution of the House rules, you could've been actually called out. The speaker spoke about it and his words were taken down because they violate our rules. The parliamentarian said they did.

My opinion, when it's done is simply additional -- exacerbated the situation, additional name-calling, and that doesn't help the situation. We didn't need to do, that it's one more political stunt in a series. It seems to be the only thing we do.

I refer to life on the Hill as the circus. I've been told that's not very nice and we should call it something else like a train wreck. We spend more time doing that than we do getting things done.

Do you realize how much time we spent voting on nonbinding resolutions? They are not changing your life, Anderson. They're not changing America. They are not solving problems. A nonbinding resolution is just paper.

COOPER: Just finally, I understand that argument. I guess my question is, if labeling something, I mean, isn't it -- aren't there times in history when it is important to, whether or not it's effective, whether or not it violates the decorum rules of the House, to, you know, if somebody is the president of the United States and they are saying something which is racist or, frankly, clearly just designed to divide people, to call it for what it is? To use those words, racist? Demagogue, whatever it may be.

MITCHELL: Two things. I don't think there's any question that I've taken a stance to be clear, it is clear.

COOPER: Absolutely, yes.

MITCHELL: They see my statements. I have request at time, I don't know I'll get it.

The second of which is you don't address divisive words buy more divisive words. At some point in time, people need to be leaders, to step up and get on the things. So I won't participate in that and I declined to support that resolution.

I was clear why in my statement, what you read parts of, and I think that -- I know that message has gone through, and I will do the best I can to talk about what I think is important.

COOPER: Congressman Mitchell, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Anderson. Have a good day.

COOPER: All right. Thank you for coming in.

When we come back, our own political strategists weigh in on the president's apparent strategy, if that's the right word for it. We'll get their take on his attacks, which voters it appeals to and who it may turn off.

And later, Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson joins us. Her take on what the president's been, saying the message the voters that she believes can defeat him.


[20:18:14] COOPER: With the president again tonight treating demagogic language as if it were his newest toy, we're talking tonight about how instead of renouncing it, the White House is embracing it full-on as a political plus. It's hard to see how shouting out a non- white congresswoman's name and letting the crowd boo and chat "send her back" is not demagoguery.

Here's more of what the president just said tonight.


TRUMP: And tonight, I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, hey, if they don't like it, let him leave. Let them leave. Let them leave.


They're always telling us how to run it, and how to do this, how to -- you know what? If they don't love it, tell them to leave it.


COOPER: CNN's reporting tonight, this is now being seen as a political strategy, eve though the president didn't tell anyone about it before he launched that tweet on Sunday morning.

Let's talk about it tonight. "AXE FILES" host, CNN senior political commentator and former top Obama adviser, David Axelrod. Also CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer, served as a communications director for Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

David, this seems like very dangerous waters and I'm sure it's only going to get worse as we head to the election. But again, I keep going back to history. You can imagine Donald Trump, a leader then, being on the docks in New York, telling Jews to leave, telling the Irish to leave, telling Italians to get out, telling the Chinese they're not wanted.

I mean, this is the same language -- this is Archie Bunker, people were laughing at it when it was on TV in the '70s.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a well-worn, and ugly and political tactic. But I do think we have to -- you know, we've had these discussions many times. He says something, everyone says, that is so outrageous, he could never get away with that.

[20:20:05] COOPER: Right. Well, I'm not saying that.

AXELROD: No, I understand.


AXELROD: He is repeating the pattern of his political career which is, he throws these incendiary out to divide in a way that he thinks will be useful to him politically. He wants to elevate these four young members of Congress to make them the emblem of the Democratic Party. And he wants to be so outrageous about it that he forces all Democrats to embrace them, to support the argument that they are iconic figures in the party.

In the bargain, he riles up his base with nativist language. The irony of it is, Peter Baker wrote a great piece in "The Times" today about ironic it is that the president who was deeply critical of a country even in his inaugural address and who said we're not any different than Russia in the way we approach --


COOPER: Right. I mean, he talked about America -- you know, the people, he used to attack Barack Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism.


COOPER: The president was like, you know, there are a lot of killers out there.

AXELROD: So, apparently, he's like a self-hating American hater. Now, he's attacking people for saying that are things wrong in our country that need to be addressed.

But I have to take a step back as a strategist and say I recognize what he's doing. A lot of what he does is intuitive.

COOPER: Totally.

AXELROD: It's not mapped out, because it's worked for him, and he thinks this will work for him.

COOPER: Tara, will it work?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it worked for him in 2016 which is why he's doing it again. I can tell you to David's point, the NRCC has already sent out blast emails calling these targeted Democratic districts, districts where Democrats took the seat from a Republican, and all of the lines that it's repetitive. It says, you know, so and so -- representative so and so, a deranged socialist Democrat dot, dot, dot.

So, this is how the Republican Party now has decided to brand the Democratic opponent, as deranged socialist Democrats. And it's all because of what President Trump has done by elevating these four women who I as a Republican obviously find many of what they say objectionable. But it's on the grounds of ideology and a political world view not because of where they're from.

COOPER: It should also be pointed out, there are many Democrats who are unhappy with a lot of the positions that those four are taking.


COOPER: Dana Bash, David, had some reporting on a meeting Democrats, they reviewed internal polling that shows the most forceful message of the president is making the argument that he's an effective on issues like infrastructure and jobs. So, if that's true that that is what's most effective, all of his other stuff is not effective for Democrats, may be very effective for Republicans.

AXELROD: No, no, he throws this stuff out and he expects a Pavlovian reaction and tries to shift the debate. I think there's one another argument that's effective or potentially effective against the president. And that is -- this is just exhausting, being divided every day, having these ugly, gratuitous battles that keep the country from working on those kinds of problems. So, that's the risk I think he runs here, is that there are people -- he thinks that he's going to influence these suburban voters by persuading them that the Democratic Party is too far left.

But in going as far as he's gone and as far as he will go, he may persuade them that we can't take four more years of this.


COOPER: Also, Tara, I mean, you know, you look back to the promise made during the campaign of, you know, the wall, Mexico is going to pay for it, of a new health care system on day one that's going to be better and it's going to be instantly transferred and, of course, preexisting conditions that's going to be covered, infrastructure.

SETMAYER: Right, right, wiping off the debt.


COOPER: I mean, none of that is -- there's not any of that. There's no immigration, you know, compromise. There is none of that.

SETMAYER: No, and that is why he's doing this, because h doesn't have anything, any kind of legislative agenda.

COOPER: I mean, he's got the economy he could be running on.

SETMAYER: Right, which he could run on.

AXELROD: His tax cuts. SETMAYER: But he is choosing not to because he would rather run

having a foil. That's the way he operates all the time.

You know, I was -- I tuned into some of my old talk -- conservative talk radio friends today to hear what they were saying. And this is what the frame was going to be, that Trump is the victim, and that that's right, these people need to leave it. They need to love it or leave it.

That is the -- that is the idea and you saw what that horrendous "send her back" chant. When I heard that in the green room, it sent shivers down my spine because it's such ugliness. It took me back to the tiki torches in Charlottesville. You know, what's going to be next?

COOPER: Right, because that -- I mean, you know, it's an old cliche.

SETMAYER: Absolutely.

COOPER: But they start with one person --

SETMAYER: That's right, it's very dangerous.

COOPER: -- or one group and then they move on to the next group and the next group and what becomes larger and larger. And all of a sudden, you find out, wait a minute, I'm now in a group that's being -- want to be sent home or sent somewhere else.

SETMAYER: But he knows that racial resentment is a very powerful tool.

[20:25:01] And that's unfortunate that in this country, that this is legitimately now a strategy that the president of the United States is using, and Republicans are giving him cover.

Now, I applaud the congressman who is on before us for coming out and finally saying, you know what, I'm not with this, this is not OK. And the fact that he caught grief from his fellow Republicans speaks volumes about the way the party has sold itself out to this. But they're the ones that used -- we used to complain about the identity politics to the left. But the president is now using the white identity politics to his -- to weaponize politically and I think that's very dangerous in a lot of ways. I don't know if it's going to win.

COOPER: Also, victim politics.

SETMAYER: Absolutely.

COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod and Tara Setmayer, thanks very much.

Coming up, how a presidential historian, and a long presidential advisor see what the president has been saying including on a stage night in North Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: By pretty much any measure, we are at a moment in history, not a very attractive one, but certainly significant and reminiscent of even darker times.

Tonight's chant of send them back, or send her back at a campaign rally for President Trump during his attack on a foreign-born Democratic congresswoman, an American citizen, yesterday, the House of Representatives condemning him for his racist tweets. From his own particular point of view, President Trump seems to also see the moment as historic.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's very unfair what's what happened with respect to the way -- I would say Republicans are being treated frankly, but certainly the way this president has been treated. In the history of our country, there's never been anything like this and they should never be allowed to happen to another president again.


COOPER: For some perspective, we're joined by CNN Presidential Historian, Tim Naftali, and by David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents and the CNN Senior Political Analyst.

Tim, the tactic here tapping into fears, tapping into fears of others, you know, and again, it was done in the past with the Irish, it was done with Italians, it was done with Chinese with every wave essentially.


COOPER: It's something we've seen before, I mean, McCarthyism for example. But to have the sentiment coming directly from the President, is that -- is there a precedent for that?

NAFTALI: The closest parallel -- I mean, we're talking now not about racist presidents because we've had modern racist presidents, they just kept it quiet, kept it secret. They didn't share it with the public.

The only parallel that I can see in the public sphere is Millard Fillmore who was as a nativist, who ran as a nativist. He was vice president. He succeeded the presidency after Zachary Taylor died.

Then he ran for another term as the leader of something known as the Know Nothing Party or the American National Party. It was anti- catholic, it was anti-immigrant, it was vicious in attacking people. And that man had been in the White House.

But other than Millard Fillmore, we've had racist presidents, Woodrow Wilson for example, but they did not express their racism as head of state the way that Donald Trump through his actions, most importantly the tweet --


NAFTALI: -- the tweets the other day, and how he responded to Charlottesville the way that President Trump has done.

COOPER: David, I mean, you know, there have been past president held views, but as Tim was saying, in private. It is -- I'm wondering as somebody who's worked for Democratic and Republican administrations, what is it like to see the President on that stage tonight, you know, encouraging or at least standing by and allowing the send her home chant to grow?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It can be very discouraging, because if you come in there as an idealist and your ideals are shattered, it's really makes you feel pretty low.

I do agree that you really have to go back to the 1850s, Fillmore and others, to find any real parallels to what we're seeing now. But it's striking about how much of a change there has been since Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow Wilson you see as, you know, the pioneer of a progressive movement coming from the left. But he brought racism straight into the White House and he had a showing, a celebration of birth of a nation as a film. And that film, as you know, Anderson --


GERGEN: -- helped to give birth to the KKK again. And the decades since, especially since the '60s, it's become socially unacceptable for a president to say out loud what he may privately believe. Nixon is an example of that.

You know, he was very anti-Semitic at times in the privacy of his staff and he had some several Jewish leaders in his team. Jewish advisors like Herb Stein and several others, Ednalyn Gardner (ph). But in Nixon's time, he said these things in private, not in public and that's why when you out do Nixon and repulsiveness, you've come a long way.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Tim, you think about, you know, civil rights movement and the horrible things that were yelled at, you know, children who were integrating school as the first black, you know, little girls and boys to enter an all white school and the terrible things that were said and, you know, go home being the -- you know, go back to Africa. You're not welcome here. You're not one of us. You're other.

I mean, these are things which the whole love it or leave it, you know, why are you criticizing America if you don't -- I mean, America is all about reinvention and looking at ourselves and that's what makes one of the things that America so unique.

NAFTALI: Yes. Well, I mean, you keep asking yourself or at least I do, aren't we better than this? There is historically a -- there is a base, if you will, an audience for nativism, for xenophobia, for racist talk that has never gone away. But the question I have is, hasn't that base gotten smaller?

I mean, what -- we had the second reconstruction in the 1960s when we're able as a nation to provide legal benefits, legal security, and also the right to vote to African-Americans who've been denied for 100 years after slavery was ended.

[20:35:06] And one would have thought that that struggle would have had an effect on how people think about this community we call America. I think it has for the most part, but there is still a group who are happy to respond to the President's appeal. It's very disconcerting and worrying because this kind of environment promotes cowardice, political cowardice.


NAFTALI: This is like the McCarthy period. What we're seeing from the Republicans today is very similar to what we saw from not just Republicans but from Democrats, too, in the McCarthy period.

COOPER: Yes. David?

GERGEN: Listen, I think that this may work in a short-term for Republicans. But if you look at the long-term, it's a much bleaker picture for the Republican Party. All the millennials, the biggest generation of American history, they're really turned off, most of them, by what they're seeing on the Republican side.

And they're going to be a massive force along with women, people of color in the new -- in our new politics just five, 10, 15 years down the road. So I think the Republicans are in the active slow self- destruction in supporting the President as much as they do because in the long-term this could be suicidal.

COOPER: Tim Naftali, David Gergen, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and what she makes of all of this ahead.


[20:40:05] COOPER: The lineup is now set for this month's Democratic debate, airing here on CNN over two nights, July 30th and 31st from Detroit. As with the first debate, it's a field of 20 candidates with one new face, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, replacing California Congressman Eric Swalwell who dropped out last week.

Also on stage and with us tonight is author, Marianne Williamson. Thank you so much for being with us, Ms. Williamson. You said -- before this rally tonight, you said about the President's tweets. You said, "The President's tweets are more than racist, they border on rants of a fascist dictator."

I'm wondering tonight after hearing again an auditorium full of people chant send her home, what do you -- what do you make of it, because you talk about the power of love and that's what you're running with. That is what the power that you say motivates you. How does love deal with an auditorium of people chanting about an American citizen send her home?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes love says no. The President's talk tonight was more than discouraging. The President's talk tonight was dangerous. And it's very important for Americans to see that talk and for all patriotic Americans, whether on the left or right, to be very clear that we don't do that in America.

Our political opponents are not our enemies. You didn't hear talk like that from Ronald Reagan or from George W. Bush or from George Bush Sr. when talking about Democrats. That's not what we do here.

And this is so far away from the traditions of democracy that when your former guests were trying to talk about has anything like this ever happened in America, the question is not has anything like this ever happened in America. We need to think about how it happened in Germany.

We need to be very, very serious and take this very seriously because the President has said this is how he's going to run this campaign. What he -- the way he was talking about four elected officials, these women are U.S. Congress people. We don't do this in America.

And all people, whether we are on the left or on the right, need to be very, very clear that there is a level of honorable debate and that is not honorable debate. That is the demonization of political opponents that are absolutely in every fascist playbook.

COOPER: I should say the chant was send her back, not send her home. I misquoted it. But, you know, again, how does -- I mean, you say love is saying no. But, you know, a cynic is going to say, well, wait a minute, how are you going to go toe-to-toe with somebody on a debate stage who has no shame and who is willing to say anything about anybody and use any kind of division to get an advantage?

WILLIAMSON: Nobody -- no intelligent observer thinks that somebody, myself or anyone else, is going to have any more of a fair debate with Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton did. My conversation at this point is not with Donald Trump. My conversation is with the American people. That is where the decision lies.

The American people need to decide whether or not this kind of discourse, and it really doesn't matter to me what the crowd was chanting, what matters to me is the words of the President tonight. And so the issue is not how I'm going to talk to him on the debate stage.

You know, this idea of what does love do. If you look at the great religious traditions, the great spiritual traditions, that's where you see recognition of what evil is, you know. And in Christianity, yes, there is the love and the resurrection, there's also realization of the crucifixion.

In Judaism, there's the deliverance of the promise land, but there's also an understanding of slavery. You know, it was the religious traditions. It was the early evangelicals and the abolitionist who rose up and began -- and the Quakers who began the abolitionist movement. And it was Dr. King, a preacher, a Baptist preacher in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who were the ones who drew the line against segregation.

So the idea that those of us with a spiritual prospective don't know how to deal with evil, I think it's the opposite. I think that too many people in the traditional political establishment are not calling out and seeing the level of evil that's going on here.

COOPER: You said on the debate stage something to the effect of, you know, all these people with plans, you know, that's -- well, let me play it. Actually, I think I have some of it. Let's play this.


WILLIAMSON: It's really nice that we got -- if you think we're going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you got another thing coming, because he didn't win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying make America great again.


COOPER: You also said he won by tapping into something in people's brains of a fear. So, again, how do you combat that?

WILLIAMSON: Well, two things I want to say. First of all, even in that part of the debate, I said plans as important as they are. Certainly public policy matters, plans matter, and anybody knows the Marianne 2020 sees (ph) that I have plenty of policy positions.

In terms of what I was saying about the President, and to be honest, Anderson, I think it was obvious tonight. This man is tapping into something in the psyche of people. He is not just a politician. He is a phenomenal and an insider politics just talk about plans conversation is not going to defeat him.

[20:45:04] The only way to defeat a phenomenon is with another phenomenon. And the phenomenon that we need now is an uprising of love among people for this country and what democracy means and what it stands for.

The only way to over ride that kind of hate is with a real love for each other. We love mercy. We love compassion. We love democracy. We love our earth. We love our children. We love other people's children and we love our unborn great grandchildren and we will stand for that. And that is what I was saying that night. And after hearing him tonight, I say it even more forcefully.

COOPER: You've moved to Des Moines, Iowa and I'm not -- I don't really want to go into polls and stuff, but what do you -- do you hear love from people? I mean, people who disagree with you, you're out there talking to diners, talking to people, do you say that there is a lot of love out there or do you say there is a lot of fear out there? WILLIAMSON: You know, here are far more people who love in this country than who hate. The problem in the United States is that hate has been harnessed for political purposes.

You know, I read in an interview where Jared Kushner said that he had been at McDonald's, which I always found fascinating, talking to his father-in-law. And he said, I see a lot of angry people out there and we can harness all of that and make you president.

And when I read that, I thought to myself, there's so much love out there, there's so much dignity out there, there's so much decency out there, we could harness that and change the world.

Far more people love than hate in this country and in the world, but what happened in the United States is that those who hate, the racist, the bigots, the xenophobes, all of that, they hate with conviction today. They are strategized. They are energized. And unfortunately, they are energized by the President of the United States.

Those of us who love must now love with the same conviction that is demonstrated by those who hate, because conviction itself is a hate -- is a force multiplier. We have to stand for love.

We can't just sort of kind of love. We can't just love people like us or our own children. We must stand for the children on the other side of town. We must stand for love for children on the other side of the world. We must stand for love as effectively and as passionately and with as much seriousness as that which is now unfortunately being demonstrated by some who hate.

COOPER: Marianne Williamson, appreciate your time. To be continued. Thank you.

WILLIAMSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Still ahead tonight, a lot more news. We'll be right back.


[20:51:31] COOPER: Now, tonight, with more than enough new to go around, let's check in with Chris to see what he is working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So, you're listening to the rally, right? You've been monitoring it during the show. I think we have to be very honest about what this election is going to be about. We could talk about how it's about health care or some policy. This is a definitional election about what the soul of this country is about.

This President knows what he's doing. He's right when he says a lot of people agree with him. That's because the right is misleading when they say, you know, racism isn't a problem in this country. It is. A lot of people fear others. He's playing on that.

What will the Democrats do? We're bringing on two representatives tonight that represent campaigns and have support. What is their strategy for this? Did they see what this election is about? It's not Medicare for all versus some half measure. It's about the soul of the country. That's what we're taking on.

COOPER: And I'm not sure any of the candidates -- I mean, none of the Republican candidates, you know, in 2016 knew how to campaign against Donald Trump.

CUOMO: I think it's very hard. People don't play with this poison. We haven't seen it done this way before. But the President is not dumb and he's not wrong.

COOPER: Certainly.

CUOMO: It's about how is it counter. What is its positive opposite? That will be the battle test for anybody that wants to take on this President. You heard them at that rally tonight. There can be no question if people got his message. They were saying send her back. Not to the Bronx. This is us versus them, and he knows it and he's banking on it.

COOPER: Yes. Chris, thanks. Depressing, but thank you.

Still to come tonight, something to make you smile, the end of a pretty grim, "The Ridiculist" is next.


[20:56:46] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And there's the math edition. Now, we all know what a mathlete President Trump is. If you didn't know that, well, look, don't take my word for it.


TRUMP: I mean, I've always been very good at math. Nobody ever discusses that way.


COOPER: Why doesn't everyone discuss this? Look, I'm not Tucker Carlson, but let's just agree to have mandatory teacher guided discussions in every American classroom, let's say once a week about how good at math our dear leader is. Betsy DeVos, I mean, come on. Care with the program.

Of course, the President is amazing at math. Division, he's a master at dividing. Addition, he can add just about anything, except that citizenship question. But the problem with geniuses is that their kids never quite live up to the same level. You know what I mean? It doesn't matter where they go to school, how close they cling to daddy. Sometimes apples do fall kind of far from the tree.

Eric Trump showed up this morning brave in the tough questions, I think it was on Fox and Friends, and he had some pretty interesting mathematical calculations of his own. He was Trump-explaining, which is kind of like man-explaining but with the wider stands. He was Trump-explaining just how many Americans back his father. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He has to fight against the media and he has to fight against these lunatics. And, guys, I'm telling you, 95 percent of this country is behind him in this message.


COOPER: 95 percent of the country. Look, I didn't go to Wharton Business School, but even I know that's a lot. Even Vladimir Putin on his ballot stuffing best state doesn't get 95 percent. His last election, Putin get like a cool 77 percent, kind of classy and humble of him.

The President doesn't even claim that big of a crowd are behind him. He tweeted he was at 50 percent today. But you know what, I give Eric Trump a break. I mean, look, it can't be easy, I get it. You want to impress your dad, not exactly the hugging type unless, you know, you're a former playmate or covered in (INAUDIBLE).

You go on T.V. on your dad's favorite show, maybe he'll see, maybe Stephen Miller or maybe your dad will ask Stephen Miller to e-mail you an attaboy. Sure it's not the same thing as coming from him, but look, Miller is important.

Anyway, so math may not be young Trump's strong suit, but polling, he does know polling. It's just not clear if he agrees with the polls or disagrees and he seems very torn about it.


TRUMP: But, wait, you know how phony all of these polls are. First of all, his polls have never been better. He's killing it in the polls. But we also know how phony these polls are.


COOPER: OK. I mean, that is kind of the definition of a mixed message. I mean, he's killing it in the polls but, of course, seeing (INAUDIBLE) they're phony. The polls are phony, but dad is killing it. His health care bill didn't past, but he has the votes for it. He's going to protect pre-existing conditions, but Republican's lawsuit winding for the courts could definitely end those protections.

Oh, Sarah Sanders, where are you when we need clarification. But don't worry America, Ivanka and Jared, they're in the White House. Sure, they're keeping a low profile right now while, you know, kids are in cages and their dad is telling non-white American congresswomen to go back to where they came from. But I'm sure Ivanka and Jared will leak their private concerns soon enough.

Until then, you can count of Donnie Jr. and Eric to be the public face of Trump, Inc. As Eric told "Forbes" magazine a few years back, "We might be here because of nepotism, but we're not still here because of nepotism." See what he did. Deep. I'm 95 percent sure it's deep on "The Ridiculist." News continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?