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Off-the-Rails First Debate between Biden and Trump; President Trump And Joe Biden Face Off In The First Presidential Debate. Aired 2-3:05a ET

Aired September 30, 2020 - 02:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And here we are, 2:00 am.


LEMON: Prime time.

CUOMO: Prime time.

LEMON: Alaska.

CUOMO: Yes, that's right. Some people can see Russia from their windows. That's who's watching.

LEMON: Well, you know what, we have the first presidential debate behind us of the 2020 election. An absolutely chaotic and combative 90 minutes plus clash between the president and the former vice president.

This is CNN's continuing postdebate coverage and analysis. I am Don Lemon, along with that guy.

What's your name?

CUOMO: That's good enough, that guy.

LEMON: It's good enough. That's what everyone says.

CUOMO: You know, usually, when you say "this was the debate to end all debates," it's usually like, wow, it's so good.

LEMON: This is true.

CUOMO: But this may be the last one of these debates that we see, because it was terrible. There was no winner, really. They will show you all kinds of polls and who knows what that means.

But you lost tonight and this was exactly by the president's design. He did what he wanted this to be. He doesn't want to have a debate.

LEMON: Did you get anything out of it?

CUOMO: He ignored the -- well, what did I get out of it?

I checked the box that now it's over and it's exactly how I thought it would go. I am shocked that anyone is surprised the president was anything but the only thing he knows how to be.

And Biden?

The bar is low for Joe Biden.

What did you want from Joe Biden?

You don't want him to be like Trump, to seem like he won't stroke out, because that's what you are hearing from the Right, that Joe Biden is not good, he doesn't have acuity. He's not off his step, he's off 100 steps.

That clearly wasn't true tonight. If you wanted him to be like Don and me, in terms of parry and riposte and step and step and all that, that's not who he is and it's not who he was coached to be in this. They have a different theory of the case, with friends and people who are equals.

You were always on even footing with things, people on Biden's team wanted him to ignore Trump as much as possible.

Did he do that?

Not enough. Don is right. But that was his plan.

But this was exactly what Trump wanted it to be, strong for his base, tough on Biden and ignoring all rules, because everything but him is wrong. Now there was a moment of the night that's been ignored by many. I think we should give it a bit of attention.

LEMON: Before you do, all Joe Biden really had to do quite honestly, is stand there and be a decent person.


LEMON: And I think he accomplished that tonight.

CUOMO: That's a pretty low bar.

LEMON: The rest is nitpicking, he should've done better and he shouldn't have let Trump interrupt him. That's opinion. But all he had to do is just be a decent human being, because we know --

CUOMO: For a lot of people, even real Republicans, not just putative Trumpers, Republicans, the real party people who are behind the party, Biden had to show he is sharp enough and that they don't have any concerns.

Did he remove all those concerns from people?

I doubt it.

LEMON: But I think his stuttering, something he's been working on his entire life, I think people confuse that with mental acuity. I have friends who are stutterers and they get caught up sometimes in their own words.


LEMON: It's like us. I don't know if you at home realize that sometimes, when we wear these earpieces, sometimes you hear yourself one or 2 seconds later. And if you ever try to do that, it's tough to hear yourself and to hold your concentration.

It's kind of similar to what happens to a stutterer. It doesn't mean they are not as smart or as sharp; it's just that's how the mechanism is working.

CUOMO: They have a different cycling mechanism. The irony is that stutterers actually have a faster mental processing rate.

LEMON: Their speech is trying to catch up.

CUOMO: If anything, they are thinking at an accelerated rate, not decelerated, that is a stigma that's untrue.

I think that's partially responsible. The rest of it is Biden struggles from time to time. That's OK. Neither of these guys are perfect.

For many of you, this is a choice of the least unsatisfying choice. I get it. We can talk about that another night. Tonight is about the 2 people you have.

Now this thing that happened tonight that you have to look, at you will hear a lot of Trump saying that he wouldn't condemn the Proud Boys definitively. He was told to tell them to stand down, not get involved in the election process.

He said, I'll say stand back, stand by. That's not only not what he was asked to say but it was so soft that the Proud Boys loved it and put up their own celebration shield with his words on it.

There's was something else tonight, he said sensitivity training is terrible, that's why I canceled. It they were making people feel terrible. It was role reversal. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I ended it because it's racist. I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools, all over the place. And you know it and so does everybody else.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What is radical about racial sensitivity training? TRUMP: If you are a certain person, you had no status in life. It was sort of a reversal. And if you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and, frankly, very sick ideas.

And really, they were teaching people to hate our country. And I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country.

They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, it's a racist place and they were teaching people to hate our country. And I'm not going to allow that to happen.

WALLACE: Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: Nobody's doing that. He's just -- he's the racist. Here's the deal. I know a lot more about this --

WALLACE: Let him finish.

BIDEN: The fact is that there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like, what insults them, what is demeaning to them. It's important that people know.

They don't want to -- many people don't want to hurt other people's feelings but it makes a big difference. It makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self-esteem.

It's a little bit like how this guy and his friends look down on so many people. They looked down their nose on people like Irish Catholics like me, who grew up in Scranton. They look down on people who don't have money.

They look down on people who are of a different faith. They look down on people who are a different color. In fact, we are all Americans. The only way we are going to bring this country together is bring everybody together. There is nothing we cannot do if we do it together.


CUOMO: First of all, you never heard the president of the United States use that phrase once. He never said anything about how great we can be together, never, not once, the president of the United States.

The language I was pointing out was that the reason Trump said he didn't like the sensitivity training was because people were putting you in these terrible positions. It was like a reversal.

LEMON: Like some people have nothing.

Can we listen to that?

We will stop it.

Can you put it up? CUOMO: Very telling.

LEMON: Listen to it.


TRUMP: I ended it because it's racist. I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools, all over the place and you know it and so does everybody else.

WALLACE: What is radical about racial sensitivity training?

TRUMP: If you are a certain person, you had no status in life. It was sort of a reversal. And if you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and, frankly, very sick ideas and really --


CUOMO: Look, here is what he's talking about. And I think he's coming from a place of ignorance. I think this is once again something he doesn't know about, he didn't read, about he didn't analyze but someone told him.

But here's what they told him, if you are a certain kind of person, that means white.


CUOMO: You are put in a position of trying to understand his experience and that's a degrading thing. Don't make me pretend to be him. That's racist. So it's racist for the white person to understand the struggles of the Black person. That's what he's saying. That's who he is.

He thinks putting a white person in the position of what it would be like to be Black is not fair to them but he doesn't think there's anything unfair happening to Black people in this country.

And it's not going to get as much notice because it's nuanced. But I'm telling you, it is the root of who he is. If you are a Republican voter and you want to say, it's just Cuomo and all these other people putting words in his mouth, that's BS and you know it.

He does not believe in systemic inequality and he doesn't believe in it because he thinks it's bad for him to give that benefit to the Black experience.

LEMON: You know how much I jump in. I was just saying go ahead, white man.

CUOMO: Say it.

LEMON: What else can it mean? CUOMO: It's the truth. It's the truth. Certain kinds of people. Well, hands on about white people, right, they weren't offended by sensitivity --

LEMON: Here is what I love about you.

CUOMO: Go on.

LEMON: People want -- and about our relationship. People won't say that you know what that we say because they're afraid or because they just don't get it. They don't get it.

I think, deep down people know. They know it's wrong. You see the people out there, who are the types that the president is talking about, with the flags, with the yelling at people, when I see them with the Trump flag higher than the American flag, to me, as someone who comes from a military family, I say they shouldn't be doing that.

That American flag should be up there front and center high.

When I see the aggressive, you know, F you behavior that they have, where does that come from?

I never see the other side of someone yelling in somebody's face. It's that aggressive behavior that he encourages in people, just like what he did tonight in his performance on that stage, that you can bully people, that you can get into their face.

He is changing the societal norms and the way people think, what people think is right, how they should conduct themselves, how they should be able to treat you, what sort of power or control they should have over you. That is what he's doing to this country.

And that sound bite you had right there, it encapsulates who he is and what he is doing to this country. What they did was they put people in positions that they should not have been in, that were unfair and they made them see the reverse.

CUOMO: By the way, that happens to be the prescription for us getting rid of bigotry.

LEMON: That is the prescription for what we should do, to understand that what Donald Trump did tonight is what my mother, your mother, almost every woman, probably your wife, if she is in a corporate setting, when they sit in a boardroom or an office or a meeting and they are mansplained or they have the same idea as a man or something But the guy says it and when the guy says it, well, that's right.

Guys in this country should be put in a position of how women should feel. That's what happened tonight. If you were insulted, if Donald Trump gave you a headache, if you thought that he was a bully, if you saw something that you would not want your kid to be, that's how women feel in this country when they have to be in a position, where a man, who is a chauvinist or who thinks that he should be in that position because he's the man, that's exactly how they feel. Get off of me. Stop talking over me. My ideas are just as important as

you. I should be in this position as a woman. I deserve to have that, as much power as you.

That is what's happening. So we, as men, should understand what that's like or as a white person should understand what it's like to be Black.

CUOMO: Or be threatened by, it because someone is telling me that what they really want is to give you my position and that more diversity means fewer white guys and that more people coming in means me getting less.

And more opportunity for you means less for me and more change and progress and different identities and us being accepting of lifestyles means that the ones I know are going to be swallowed up. And it makes people scared. And he is saying you are right to be scared.

LEMON: Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. You don't have to give me anything that is for you.


LEMON: I just want the opportunity to get into the position so that I can be me. You can keep your position. You are already there.

But that's what everybody wants.

CUOMO: In fact, you're in the center of it.


LEMON: I don't want your position as a white guy. I want the position that I'm in as a Black American so that I can contribute to the culture --

CUOMO: You just want a chance to succeed or fail on your own merits. I'm with you.

LEMON: I don't want to take somebody else's position. That's not what it's about.

CUOMO: I'm with you but you are being reasonable. I'm trying to pitch to fear. I'm trying to get somebody to not like you, not like what you represent.

LEMON: Because?

CUOMO: Because it works for me. Because I'm going to get their votes because if they are afraid of you, they'll vote for me.

LEMON: There were a lot of moments tonight and I think an important moment was when Joe Biden slammed President Trump on the coronavirus response. You know about this because you suffered with it, Chris.

He is saying that the president is a fool on masks and social distancing. For his part, President Trump mocked and belittled Joe Biden over masks, claims that the Democratic governors have said that he has done a phenomenal job.

So let's talk about that now. Medical analyst Dr. Larry Brilliant joins us.

Dr. Brilliant, thank you so much, I appreciate you being with us at this hour. President Trump claiming that he did a phenomenal job with the virus. Nearly 206,000 Americans have died. We have about a fifth of the global deaths.

Would you classify the U.S. response as phenomenal?

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thanks Don, thanks for having me.

Hi, Chris. You know, COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the United States already. We've only had it for nine months. Only heart disease and cancer kill more people this year in the United States than COVID.

How can anybody say that creating the third largest, greatest killer is doing a good job?

No, a high proportion of those, an unknowable percent of those deaths could have been avoided if the president and the Trump administration had acted earlier.

We know from some modeling at Columbia University, if they had acted one week earlier, they might have saved 30,000 lives. If they had acted two weeks earlier, it is closer to 50,000. That's just modeling. It is hard to predict these things.

But, no, I would say it's the opposite of a great job. It's one of the worst jobs that's ever been done in any pandemic or epidemic in the United States.

LEMON: Let's do some fact checking. Joe Biden mocked the president for his comments on injecting bleach and disinfectants. He did that early in the pandemic. Here is the vice president tonight. Watch this.


BIDEN: And by the way, maybe you can inject some bleach in your arm and that would take care of it. This is the same man.

TRUMP: That was said sarcastically. You know that.


TRUMP: That was said sarcastically.

BIDEN: And so here's --


LEMON: OK, that was said sarcastically. This is the president's original comment.


TRUMP: And I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do, either through the skin or in some other way.

And I think you said you're going to test that too?

Sounds interesting.


TRUMP: And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute.

And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?

Because you see, it gets in the lungs.


LEMON: That was amazing. You should have seen Dr. Birx's response when she was wanting to go into the wall right there.


CUOMO: -- over to my house with a flashlight by shining it in mouth to try and get me to drink all those cleaners under the kitchen sink.


LEMON: Like, take this.


CUOMO: The president said it. How could it be wrong?


LEMON: Doctor, give us your response.

CUOMO: I wish he was joking.

BRILLIANT: Yet, I wish he were joking. I think that's a good part of it. It's part of a larger problem. It's what he said. You know, I know this stuff, I take it naturally, my uncle was a teacher at MIT. He is such a solipsist.

He is such a narcissist that he doesn't want to listen to any expert opinion or people who have spent their life studying this. So whether it's oleander or disinfectant or light inside the body --

LEMON: Hydroxychloroquine?

BRILLIANT: -- that may be different, because it does have a role in medicine to stop malaria. Nonetheless, this is all snake oil. And that he is peddling snake oil is the greater tragedy of all because we have really wonderful ways of dealing with the coronavirus. And you know that masks are one and social distancing are another.

But because he's peddling snake oil for such a long period of time and not using the things that we could use, then we are required to do extraordinary things like close down the country. That wouldn't have been necessary if we had acted earlier.

CUOMO: You notice, the president didn't say anything tonight about testing, nothing about kids in schools.

LEMON: No, of course.


CUOMO: Our schools, we screwed our kids.

LEMON: Doctor, thank you. We'll see you soon. Appreciate it.

BRILLIANT: Thank you for having me. Thanks for what you guys are doing.

CUOMO: Good to see you, Doc, thanks for setting people straight. We are screwing our kids in schools.

LEMON: Well, you've got three.

CUOMO: We knew since March. They could've gotten them the tests. Just a couple days ago, they said, we will get 150 million tests. Now they had --

LEMON: In a month.

CUOMO: They had a plan similar to that that they canceled. But even that, they haven't figured out the right kinds of testing because they're not putting their minds to it. They didn't give the resources that the states needed to give to the schools to allow them to have the right kind of air circulation.

Because they know it's aerosolized. To have the right kind of spacing, the right kind of staffing, the right kind of protection, he could win this election if he had owned schools. Families all across the country, rich, poor, Black, white, we're all screwed with our kids.

LEMON: There's so much he would have won if he had owned schools. When he 150,000 tests a month. I heard Dr. Reiner on one day, saying, I think we need 150,000 tests per day. Think about it, if you want those rapid tests, you want to be able to test people quickly.

That means kids going to schools, people going to offices, to restaurants, all kinds of businesses. You want to be able to test them -- 150,000 rapid tests a month is a drop in the bucket. Sure, we will take, it but that's a drop in the bucket. Let me finish this.

He could have won with that if he had owned, it as you said. He also could have won with George Floyd. If he had said you know what, in this country --

CUOMO: Everybody thought that was wrong.

LEMON: Everybody thought that was wrong. We need to deal with this. So many things, he -- there would be no doubt, it would be President Trump, Trump 2020, if he had done just those two things, on COVID and on race.

CUOMO: Not for his home boys, the Proud Boys and not all the people who have been poisoned to believe that if you worry about inequities in justice and unfair policing, you hate the cops. That's the narrative he went with. He is a divider.

LEMON: That showed up in tonight's debate, because it was a mess.

But are all the lies part of the president's strategy?

That's a big question. We will talk about that next.

CUOMO: That's a rhetorical question.






CUOMO: Breaking news, a chaotic first presidential debate, if that's what you want to call. it


There was no fair exchange of ideas. You didn't really learn anything. You just had cemented in your mind who Trump is and Biden isn't.

It that enough to make you feel better about your vote?

Maybe. A lot of lies and insults. Mostly from the president. Not exclusively but disproportionately from the president.

What do the better minds think?

Let's bring in S.E. Cupp and also April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and the former Democratic mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu.

Good to have you all here.

S.E., do you believe that the way the president came out tonight was part of strategy?

S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST: Yes, a losing strategy, a strategy that acknowledged I'm not doing great in the polls, probably not going to change many hearts and minds in this debate, so I will just punch Joe Biden and see how much he can withstand.

For, that he delivered a MAGA fever dream. Taking on, simultaneously, the media and Chris Wallace and the establishment and Democrats and Joe Biden, interrupting, bullying, baiting, taunting, blowing it up, that is an orgasm for his base.

Unfortunately, not making any efforts to grow, it even incrementally, I think that was probably a losing strategy in the end for Donald Trump.

CUOMO: April Ryan, Joe Biden's reaction?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I believe Joe Biden did well compared to what we were expecting. Joe Biden stood on the points. He was focused. Donald Trump is the one we need to focus on. This is the president of the United States who cheated and showed he was racist. I don't understand why we are so surprised about that.

We've seen how he cheated on his taxes, cheated on his wives, cheated in 2016 in the presidential election. It's not a surprise. It shouldn't be a surprise that we saw his racism tonight. Look at Portland, Charlottesville, Kenosha.

I remember asking in 2017, Mr. President, are you racist?

All the Trump supporters and FOX News, state-run TV, came after me. And 3 and a half years later, mainstream America, all the world, are now seeing what Black Americans saw.

I'm not really worried about Joe Biden. It's about this man who is POTUS.

CUOMO: The president has set it up, Mr. Mayor, that Joe Biden has a low bar. He just has to prove he's not as much of an ass as the president in settings like this but the president got what he wanted. He didn't want to debate. He didn't care about Chris Wallace. He didn't care about the rules.

He wanted to show that he could beat up on Joe Biden and Biden looks weak. At the end of the day, what moved the needle for you?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought tonight was a disgrace. I'm sorry that my five children had to watch that or that's in the pantheon of political commentary for the United States of America.

Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Trump now, on 3 separate occasions, when he denied he knew David Duke, when he talked about the false equivalency in Charlottesville and then tonight, his inability to tell the Proud Boys to stand down and stand by, that coupled with his exposition of what core values are indicates to you that the president of the United States is a racist.

[02:30:00] And his unwillingness and inability to condemn white supremacy is, in my opinion, disqualifying.

I'll give you a core value for America, it's really simple. We hold these truths to be self evident, all men are created equal. That is the idea upon which the entire country rests. And if he doesn't understand that, he doesn't know that. He doesn't believe it, then he can't be the president of the United States.

And I think he demonstrated tonight, what Bull Connor looked like, what Leanda Perez looked like, what George Wallace look like back in the day. He gave him full-throated approval. He took off the fig leaf, so that anybody can even pretend he had it. And his supporters have nowhere to go on this issue. And you have, as a very reasonable thought for Republicans, come on tonight, just shaking their heads at what it is that they saw.

We always know that when his lips are moving, he's lying. But he has never been so blatantly and overtly just all out there on this issue. And I think now, there's nowhere for them to go. I think Joe Biden, by the way, and I disagree with most people. Joe Biden, he showed up every day, every month, everybody kept saying he was going to fall down. He took everything Trump threw at him tonight, as hard as it was.

And he looks strong to me. He looks smart. He could do some of the questions better. But you know what, he looked much more presidential. And I think the country is going to give him a chance to help heal country and restore the soul of what we know the country should be.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR: Again, more presidential, compared to who, Bull Connor. Sarah Elizabeth, we've known each other a long time. And I've always respected that almost all of my Republican friends are like you. You know, it is cultural. It's a conservativism of what we're about. It's about values. It's not about much of what the President is about, which I know is something you've had to struggle with, with how you've come. Although it hasn't turned out to be much of a struggle, because you got about as clear a voice as anybody I've ever heard when it comes to how you feel.

I want to play for you in exchange about what a key demographic of suburban woman got to hear tonight, and what it may mean. Let's play some sound.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wouldn't know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.


BIDEN: I was raised in the suburbs. This is not 1950. All these do whistles and racism don't work anymore. Suburbs are, by and large, integrated. There's many people today driving their kids to soccer practice and/or to black and white and Hispanic in the same car, as there have been any time in the past What really is a threat to the suburbs and their safety is his failure to deal with COVID. They're dying in the suburbs. His failure to deal with the environment, they're being flooded. They're be burned out because he has refusal to do anything.


CUOMO: Now, other than the general proposition that I hear from my 17- year-old all the time, which is why do men have so much power? What do you think that women/suburban women voters are heard tonight that will mean anything to them, other than this general proposition of men need to be divested of any type of control over anything until they learn how to control themselves?

CUPP: Well, I think all of the moments that you would imagine, that one included Trump going after Biden's kids, I don't know many women who wouldn't recoil at that, and some other moments on COVID. I think those predictively repulsed women. And we are, we're repulsed.

But I think it's actually bigger than that. There is a particular kind of embarrassment that women feel when we watch men, you guys, sailing, behaving badly, very obviously. We know we're not responsible for it. In fact, you're getting badly in spite of our best efforts. And yet, we still feel like it reflects badly on us.

And I think a lot of women watched this debate tonight and have watched Trump over the past four years, and are embarrassed. And gold, gold that, you know, despite our best efforts, we're still not running the show, right? And not only that, this is the guy that y'all men, men who elected Trump have decided is your representative, the guy who represents your side. A guy who thinks I should be in the kitchen. A guy who would grab me by the genitals because he can, a guy that can barely finish (inaudible). A guy (inaudible) shit hole countries. This is your best guy?

So it's embarrassing. It's galling, and I think that is what you're getting when you see this flight of suburban white women who have traditionally supported the Republican Party leaving. They're not -- just we're not just you know, offended, like our delicate sensibilities are offended by him. We're like gold that this is the best you guys got.


LEMON: I think, SE, amen, sister. Amen, preach. Because as we were talking about, Chris and I were talking about earlier, putting yourself in some else's shoes. So as I was watching tonight, I was thinking, OK, I'm not going to watch as a guy because I know the guys are sitting there going, "yes, get them. Oh, he got it. He got it."

The women were sitting at home and listen, I talked to my producers, I asked her when I came in. Flip, I said, you're a mom, how did you feel watching this? She said, "that is not behavior. I would not want my child to act that way."

So if this election is going to hinge on women in the suburbs, white or black or Hispanic, or anything, they're thinking about their kids being bullied by someone like Donald Trump. They're thinking this is not how I want to raise my kid. The church hat ladies are thinking, this is not godly behavior. This is not how I would teach my kid. This is not how I would want anyone to act.

So for all of you people are sitting out there saying, "oh, this was great. Yeah, he really got it." He said, he said -- oh, wait, he's on point. He's punching Joe Biden." The women and the people who are going to be moved and who are going to shape this election, his side is already baked in, right?

And the people for Joe Biden pretty much already baked in. It's that small sliver in the middle, who I think are going to be turned off by this. And SE just hit the nail right on the head.

CUOMO: We got to go to a break. I appreciate all of you. I'm sorry. It's so late. I'm sorry, this is so short. But it all matters a lot. Thanks to each and all of you. I miss you all too.

LEMON: Bye, homeboy. See you there. That's my homeboy, Louisiana.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: New Orleans.

CUOMO: Yes, I hear. Is that where you from? I thought you're from Jersey.

LEMON: I'm from Baton Rouge know you from Jersey.

CUOMO: So, we're going to go to break right now. You know, what you didn't get to hear enough of tonight, you heard a little bit from Biden. Nobody is telling you --

LEMON: What's good about us.

CUOMO: And about how things are going to get better. Isn't that sad that this is where we've gotten? And Joe Biden was trying to urge you to get out to vote. I don't know --

LEMON: Did you just say -- Joe Biden did say we need to come together.

CUOMO: He said a little bit, a little bit. But I'm saying, you know, you would think it'd be like all of it. You know, I was saying today on the radio show, everybody's got to start listening to Bruce Springsteen again, right now. You know, he wrote all of these songs about hard times in the context of being in a great place. And we've really forgotten that.

He did talk about voting, though, and what needs to happen and what has to happen at the polls. And the President of the United States, who is entrusted with protecting our democracy, was sitting next to him saying, it's going to be a fraud. It's going to be terrible.

Now, does that make sense? What moved the needle on that tonight we'll discuss. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


LEMON: So, this president, President Trump, doubling down on his attacks on the integrity of the election, while Joe Biden is pledging to accept the results, even if he loses.


TRUMP: As far as the balance are concerned, it's a disaster. They're sending millions of ballots all over the country. There's fraud. They found him in creeks. They found some with the name Trump, just happened to have the name Trump just the other day in a wastepaper basket that being sent all over the place. This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen.

Did you see what's going on? Take a look at West Virginia mailman selling the ballots. They're being sold. They're being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country. When you have 80 million ballots, sent in and swapping the system, you know it can't be done. You know it can't, and already, right.

BIDEN: All right. So now, the fact is, I will accept it and he will tell too, you know why? Because once the winner is declared, after all of the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that will be the end of it. That will be the end of it.

And if it's me, in fact, fine. If it's not me, I'll support the outcome. And I'll be a president, not just for the Democrats, I'll be president for Democrats and Republicans.


LEMON: This has been a hot topic over the last week or so when the President is saying, ah, it's a problem. I don't know if I'm going to accept. We're going to have a peaceful transition of power.

Our CNN Senior Political Analyst, Mr. Ron Brownstein, is here, a senior editor at the Atlantic. Ron, you knew this was going to come up. The President doubling down on what he said. Listen, he had to disband his own voter fraud commission. There is no evidence is the effect of significant fraud in mail-in voting of any kind.

What he is doing is so dangerous right now, that he is willing to destabilize the entire country because he is losing. And he thinks the only way that he can win, Ron, is by cheating and by giving the American people misinformation.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you're right. There is no history. There's no evidence of significant voter fraud in mail voting or any other kind of voting, and --

LEMON: How many ballots are we talking about when -- 300 to 400 million people in this country when he talks about the seven or the nine in Pennsylvania? BROWNSTEIN: Oh, well, there were probably, there are 138 million people who voted in 2016, roughly a quarter of them voted by mail. And the estimates are that 150 million people are going to vote in 2020. Now, I do think that all of these attacks on mail means that probably not as many people are going to vote by mail, as we may have thought back in March, when the pandemic first hit us. At that point, people were thinking it might be half of all votes. It may be less than that, or about, to about a third.

But really this is about, you know, part of the larger kind of pattern of the President trying to undermine small d democratic institutions, if he thinks that will give him or his party an advantage. Everything from the census, which is now being manipulated openly for the first time really in American history to the postal service. And, again, you come back down to the same issue over and over again, are congressional Republicans really going to stand up for the rule of law and democracy? They made some vague noises.

Of course, it's going to be a peaceful transfer of power. They did not criticize him by name. And it is until they are willing to do that, there is the prospect of a very turbulent post-election period, maybe the most turbulent period between election and inaugural since Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

LEMON: If you were at home watching, you wondering what face I was making because, Ron, you dropped out. I couldn't hear you for a moment there. But I got the gist of what your -- I got the gist of what you were saying.

Listen, and also I want to play this moment for, Ron, this is where the President seemingly encouraged his supporters to intimidate people at the polls.



TRUMP: I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today, there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went into watch. They call it poll watchers. It's a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why, because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.

And I am urging my people. I hope it's going to be a fair election. If it's a fair election, why I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that. And I'll tell you what, from a common sense -- I'll tell you what it means. It means you have a fraudulent election.

You're sending 80 million ballots, they are not equipped. These people aren't equipped to handle it.


LEMON: Couple things there. That was a lot of word salad, a number. As Joe Biden said, number one, a lot of word salad. Number two, I used to live in Philadelphia, bid goes blue. And he is, number three, he's speaking about poll watchers, as if people had never heard of a poll watcher. They are called poll watcher.

It is a shocking thing to hear from the President of the United States, all of that he had just said there.

BROWNSTEIN: Especially in the context of earlier in the debate, you know, talking about the proud boys and telling them to, you know, stand by basically. And then, urging his voters to be active in trying to intimidate his supporters to be active and trying to intimidate people on Election Day.

Don, attorney general of Nevada, tonight tweeted. I want to read you what he said. He wasn't talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation. "That is illegal in Nevada," and then quote, "believe me when I say it, you do it, you will be prosecuted."

I mean, the President is trying to sow chaos on Election Day hoping that if there is a violent confrontations in polling places, perhaps, you know, people won't show up to vote. But he is still facing the reality that we are going to see historic turnout in this election.

And that right now, he has -- can I just have one thing. I mean, the threat that he is posing on Election Day, tonight was just another example. I mentioned, the census, the post office, the presidential debates are another small d democratic institutions, that is going to have to figure out if it is going to try to respond to and adapt to a president who is willing to trash Democratic norms if he thinks it will benefit him or his party.

I mean, that was an embarrassment tonight. I think I've seen every presidential debate, either covering it or going back and watching the tape. It was not only by far the worst, but it was quite revealing, I think, of what a second Trump term would look like.

And if you think about many of the things he said tonight, about going further in trying to undermine democratic institutions. He kind of gave you a preview of what he might do if he is kind of doesn't have to face the voters again.

And I think, one thing, Democrats were probably hoping that Joe Biden would have been stronger in condemning some of those things. I mean, when he said, I'm going to respect the results of the election. Does that extend to simply saying that if a Trump appointed Supreme Court tells Wisconsin or Pennsylvania to stop counting ballots? You are going to go along with that? And basically say, that's the end of it.

We're going to get a taste of that very soon. The Supreme Court is going to decide whether to hear the case by the RNC of the Trump campaign trying to overturn a ruling by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court that is allowing ballots to be counted if they are received a few days after the election.

How far will the court go and trying to intervene? How far will Republicans go in kind of countenancing that, and how far will Biden go in fighting that if it comes to it in a way that goes further than Al Gore in 2000? Those could all be issues after November.

Right now, Joe Biden's really up (inaudible) points. It may not come to that. But that may have been a point where Democrats wanted to hear a little more indignation and fire from Biden in declaring that he is not going to simply kind of let this wash over him. That he's going to use every means available to ensure a full and fair count.

LEMON: You just explained the reason, one reason why they're rushing to put, to fill that late Justice Ginsburg seat. So thank you very much, Ron Bronstein. I really appreciate that.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. Chris, don't you think the President of United States should be encouraging as many Americans to vote, as possible, and giving people confidence in our --

CUOMO: Yes. And I think, once again, we have never heard the steward of our democracy say, these people are not setup to handle this, talking about our voting system and the ability --

LEMON: The post office, because you removed a lot of boxes, but maybe it's because you put your boy in there who then just systematically tried to undermine it and said, well, this was all going to happen before I got here, please.

Let's bring in Ben Ginsburg, a Republican election lawyer, decades of experience monitoring elections and trying to root out fraud. Good to see you, counselor, as always.

Please set the record straight for us. The idea of unsolicited absentee ballots being rife with fraud and a recipe for destruction and something new, context please.


BEN GINSBURG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Simply not accurate in the states that have been doing universal mail-in balloting for years. There are a couple of states who put it in, in sort of a quick fashion for this cycle. Nevada being the target state, the battleground state, New Jersey also. Again, simply no evidence, though, that this is actually going to cause fraud and a problem.

CUOMO: Pennsylvania is proof. It doesn't work, true or false?

GINSBURG: Well, false, they don't have unsolicited ballots in Pennsylvania. People have to send in an application and it comes back.

There were some counting problems. One of the things that we need to remember is this place forward, is that there are 10,500 jurisdictions. It's a system largely fueled by volunteers. There are going to be mistakes, but mistakes do not equal fraud. And trying to conflate that, which is seems to be the core of the President's sort of very weak argument, is what gets you into trouble and really is not accurate. CUOMO: These people are not set up to handle this kind of voting. I assume he's referring to the system. But is there any context in which you believe that's true?

GINSBURG: Well, I think what he was referring to is --

CUOMO: Did we lose the counselor? He is shocked. He is shocked into a froze mode. He's back.

GINSBURG: Oh-oh, am I back?

CUOMO: You're back. Go ahead. Continue, counselor.

GINSBURG: There will be some instances where there are places to get overwhelmed by the number of absentee ballots that come in. That's really what happened in New York with those elections. The Carolyn Maloney election took weeks to solve, but there were no allegations of fraud at the end. It was simply a system overload.

So he's right to be worried that there are some jurisdictions who have not done enough to be certain that they're ready for this onslaught of ballots. But seeing the problems that occurred during the primaries, a number of jurisdictions have taken steps to be able to make that better. There's funding from private sources that that Republicans are also trying to stop from getting into improve certain big cities like Philadelphia.

CUOMO: You worried that the President is chilling his own vote that because he's telling people not to do it that there are people with legitimate concerns about coronavirus that now won't vote by absentee if they were going to vote for him because he's telling them it doesn't work?

GINSBURG: Yes. It's a mystifying strategy. In many of the elections in which I've worked, Republicans have had absolutely superior mail-in absentee ballot programs. It's really been the margin of difference in any number of races. The President saying don't go out and vote can be a huge mistake because there are people who, as you pointed out, may not go out to vote. He have effect is suppressing his own vote.

There's bad weather on Election Day or there's an outbreak of the coronavirus. You know, a smart political campaign would want to have its absentee ballots in the bank, right? Those are voters so you don't have to turn out during the vagaries of what might happen on Election Day.

CUOMO: And when we get closer, once we get more judicial guidance on how they feel about postmarks and what that means in terms of the eligibility of ballots. I'd love to have you back on, counselor, to kind of go through what the implications of that and what you think the lines are.

Thank you very much, sir, especially for the hour.

GINSBURG: Thanks. Good to be with you.

CUOMO: Be well. Hope you had an easy fast, by the way, all right. Next.

LEMON: Mask up, get out there. Sure?

CUOMO: Yes. Look, and if you don't want them, use an absentee ballot. I mean, most states that's enough. I'm worried about COVID, especially. Some states are modifying, some states are still in transition where I don't want to go because of COVID isn't enough. But supposedly that'll change by the time --

LEMON: First day early voting, I'm out there, or I'm going to do an absentee but I'm out there. First day.

CUOMO: Good.

LEMON: Well, get out there early and then you won't have the lines. And then you can mask up and feel safer about it. When you want -- beat the rush as they say.

CUOMO: Well said.


CUOMO: Well said, D Lemon. How are people around the globe viewing this country after tonight's debate? CNN's Chief International Diplomatic Editor says, it's likely escalating concerns. What concerns? Why? Next.



LEMON: Well, tonight's debate now in the history books, which is a shame considering it belongs in the dumpster. So what most people in other countries be thinking after watching the display. Join me now is CNN's Chief International Diplomatic Editor, Mr. Nic Robertson. Nic, good to see you there in London, I should say good morning to you.

Over and over again tonight, Americans, here in the US, Americans expressed dismay that the rest of the world saw. What is it they were concerned about it? What's the reaction overseas?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN' CHIEF INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. Well, one German official described the debate as bad entertainment not something we want to hear. He said French commentators are calling it particularly violent with no one, no clear winner in the outcome.

British here, describing it in the same way ill-tempered, bad mannered, a brawl, less focus on who was the victor in it. Although here in the UK, people tend to think that Biden came out ahead. But more concerned about what happens to the process here.

The United States is a beacon of democracy. And I think for the world today waking up over here looking and reviewing what happened in the debate, that beacon of democracy seems to be shrouded. And that's a concern, because democratic countries that are allies of the United States look to the United States to set the standard. And if, as we heard tonight, there's going to be disruption, potentially, during the election, a dispute about the outcome, that changes the United States focus and turns it more inward. And that makes it more dangerous world for the United States allies.


I'm not trying to overplay this at all, but the United States is a country that the rest of Europe and many other democracies around the world look to, to set the standard. We live in an era of rising autocrats and rising populist. This is not a good trend.

LEMON: And that is not hyperbole. Nic Robertson, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Well, I'm so glad we had this time together.

CUOMO: Born in the USA.

LEMON: Born in the --

CUOMO: My hometown, they are songs of desperation and of troubles. And people see them as anthems of patriotism. Why? Because you can give a message that things are bad, but that we live in a place that is capable of greatness. We didn't see it tonight. Not from Biden, not enough, and certainly not from the president, because that's not his message.

Imagine how people would respond to someone who was telling them what's bad, but also reminding us about how we can be great.


CUOMO: That's my regret that we are not well-served.

LEMON: As you were saying, this is this is not Bruce Springsteen, the little ditty about Jack and Diane, two American kids growing up in the heartland.

CUOMO: That's John Cougar Mellencamp.

LEMON: That's John Cougar Mellencamp.

CUOMO: Of course, it is.


CUOMO: "Pink Houses" was my favorite song.

LEMON: "Pink Houses" for you and me.

CUOMO: You and me.

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon.

CUOMO: And I'm John Cougar Mellencamp, thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.

LEMON: Little big houses, for you and me.