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2020 Final Presidential Debate; John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and Sarah Longwell, Founder, Republican Voters Against Trump, Are Interviewed About the Final Presidential Debate; Mike Pompeo Meets with Azerbaijan and Armenia Ministers for Another Cease Fire; Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Presidential Polls. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 23, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they said last night really don't mean nothing to me. Because you're going to tell me what I want to hear anyway, just so I
can vote for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how many swing votes were decided by that last debate? Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, joins us with Sarah
Longwell of Republican Voters Against Trump.
Then, a conflict with consequences, as a simmering row between Russia and Turkey erupts in that Cold War enclave, Nagorno-Karabakh. Why it matters
for the region and why the U.S. has called both sides into emergency talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN TRENDE, SENIOR ELECTIONS ANALYST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Boy, if you haven't made your mind up about Donald Trump by now, I don't know what's
going to help you choose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our Hari Sreenivasan digging deeper into the polls. What current opinions say about America, even after the election.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, working from home this Friday. At the end of a long week, as the clock
ticks down towards the most anticipated election in modern times, when the United States decides its own fate and the potential direction of the
entire world for the next four years.
Early voting has racked up record numbers. More than 50 million so far have cast ballots. National opinion polls clearly give challenger, Joe Biden, a
lead over the incumbent Donald Trump. But unique to the United States, an electoral college decides the winner, and that means just a few key states
hold a whole lot of power. And that is what happened in 2016, when President Trump lost the popular vote, but eked out an electoral college
victory. Thanks to nearly 80,000 votes spread across three states, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
So, who won the swing voters in the final debate as the candidates offered two starkly different visions of America? Pennsylvania was key back then.
But this time, the Poll of Polls show Biden up seven points in the state. But let's take a closer look with Sarah Longwell, she's a Republican
strategist and she's a Pennsylvania native who founded Republican Voters Against Trump. And we're also joined by the state's Democratic lieutenant
governor, John Fetterman.
Welcome to the program.
So, we've heard all the noise, we've heard the reviews, we saw the debate. Apparently, it was more civil than the previous one. I want to know from
your point of view what you think the biggest issue is still for American voters. First from your state, which is very important, Lieutenant
JOHN FETTERMAN, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I don't think it's a specific issue. I think it's just a referendum on the president.
It's if you liked the last four years, you get a chance to vote and reup for four more or if you want to take a radically different direction, a
more return to normalcy, so to speak, you're going to vote for the vice president. So, I don't know if that's an issue or just a whole bunch of
issues put together.
As we all know, I don't think anyone had the 2020 bingo card put together that would -- had anything looking like the way it worked out. But it's
really a referendum, as I see it.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's interesting. A lot of people do see it like that, Sarah Longwell, a referendum on one man and the last four years. But what
do you think about the health issue? The debate moderator raised that question first, COVID, and the response to it and these 220,000 deaths. Do
you agree that it's just a referendum or that it's a big issue?
SARAH LONGWELL, FOUNDER, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: No, I think it is a referendum, but I also think that there is a dominant issue in this
election, and that is the coronavirus. You know, I do focus groups all the time with 2016 Trump voters. And the fact is, his handling of the
coronavirus has damaged him tremendously with his own people. Because the fact is, look, what people care about -- so, I always ask people, how do
you think things are going in the country? And people say they're going really bad. Their lives have been upended by this virus. And so, they are
looking for somebody to give them a plan to speak to their lives.
And so, when Donald Trump goes on and on about Hunter Biden's hard drive, that's not talking to things that matter to real people. The things that
they are experiencing in their lives. And it's not just the virus, it's the attending economic crisis. I mean, if you look at polls and you ask, what
matters to you in this election? And people say two things, they say the economy and they say COVID. And on both of those issues, you know, Donald
Trump is doing very badly going into the last 11 days of this election.
FETTERMAN: Yes, I don't know --
AMANPOUR: I want to play -- Lieutenant Governor, can I just play the soundbites and I'll get you to comment on it because it's specifically
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It will go away. And as I say, we're rounding the turn, we're rounding the corner. It's going away.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who's responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Lieutenant Governor, you know, how do you think that sat with the voters in your state?
FETTERMAN: Yes. I think most voters are lumping it all in chaos. It's like, do you enjoy the daily churn and the chaos and the news cycle swaying
on a single tweet in this kind of fatigue has set in? And if you want more of that, you have a vote to make. And if you reject that, off vote to make.
But coronavirus, in many respects also, is not -- the way I would describe it is, is that the people that are voting for Donald Trump, they don't see
that as the key defining issue. They see other things.
So of course, the president's handling of the coronavirus has damaged him in some circles, but in Pennsylvania, he still remains popular. And I would
not take anything for granted here in Pennsylvania with respects to it regardless of what the poll says because it's going to continue to tighten,
I believe, over the next 10 days.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's really interesting. And I want -- and many people are making that point. And I want to just read you some figures. Everybody
has been talking about the registration, the Republicans adding more than twice the number of new voters as Democrats, far outpacing the experience
in 2016. This is in your state, that there are almost 2.5 million eligible white voters without college degrees who didn't vote last time.
So, given this surge, you heard what the lieutenant governor said, Sarah Longwell, and you are Republicans against Trump. Given this surge of
registration, what do you think the outlook is for Pennsylvania?
LONGWELL: Yes, look, I think you shouldn't take anything for granted in Pennsylvania. There are a lot of people, white working-class voters in
Pennsylvania and that is the president's -- that's the demographic with whom he does the absolute best.
And -- but I do wonder, though, about these registration numbers. I think there might be something going on there where it's actually an existing
political realignment. And the thing is, one of the things I've been watching closely is women in this election. I do a lot of focus groups with
women in Pennsylvania, and the last group that I did, they were all 2016 Trump voters, and I couldn't find a single one of them who was going to
vote for Donald Trump again. They were somewhat undecided, but they weren't deciding between Joe Biden and third-party voters.
And so, while these swing states are closer and nobody should take anything for granted, I do think it bodes poorly for the president that he's sort of
fallen off cliff, certainly with college-educated women and with white working-class women. You know, if you look at Bucks County, OK, which is
the suburbs outside of Pennsylvania, the polling shows that roughly 25 percent of the Republicans in that suburb are planning on voting for Joe
So, even if they are sort of registering voters and they are registering as Republicans, they may have been people who were already voting for Trump
and voted for him in 2016, but Trump is alienating all of these people that Republicans traditionally rely on in the suburbs, college-educated voters,
and those are the people who are moving away from the president at a very fast pace. And you cannot win in a national election when you are at 33
percent with women. You just can't.
AMANPOUR: So, that's something that one should stop and think about. Let me ask you, Lieutenant Governor, because the last time we talked, fracking
was on the table. And you pointed out, because there was this big debate, this was still during the primary, and you were saying that anybody who
wants to ban fracking is not going to do well in Pennsylvania. You know, President Trump drilled down on it in the debate. Is fracking still an
issue, the top issue, rather, for your state?
FETTERMAN: What I said about fracking is that Pennsylvania is a margin play, it needs to be treated as such. And a hardline stance that you're
going to ban fracking on day one is not what I would call the smart political strategy. That being said, 2020 happened. We had a global
pandemic. We're approaching a quarter of a million Americans dead. We had the George Floyd racial reconciliation. We had all kinds of other issues in
So, fracking has receded out of the top five number of issues that it's going to -- I'm not aware of any significant bloc of Pennsylvania voters
that are going to be facing that discussion or conversation on fracking on who they're going to vote for in 10 days here in Pennsylvania, truly. And
that's what I get back to my point earlier, it's a referendum.
This is, you know, more chaos and more of what we have or we are going to reject that and head in a different direction. And your guess -- the other
point, the key to Pennsylvania is the margins and small counties. These small counties. And Donald Trump created unprecedented margins in these
counties. He pulled down 75, 80 percent in some of these counties. And individually, that doesn't necessarily make the different.
But when you win 60 of those counties, multiply that number by 60, that was the difference. And where Joe Biden is particularly well suited in
Pennsylvania is that he appeals more to these kind of smaller county voters, and it doesn't take a lot. You're not going to turn the county
blue, but if you blunt those margins, you suck all the oxygen out of the room and you eliminate Trump's path, the 270 by taking Pennsylvania out of
AMANPOUR: OK. So, Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes. You tweeted the other day on this subject. Tell me who wins Erie, Pennsylvania, and I'll
tell you who wins Pennsylvania. That person is our next president. So, what is your call? Currently, the Poll of Polls says that Biden, 51, Trump, 44.
So, Biden's up 7 in this one.
FETTERMAN: Yes. Well, I -- that's absolutely true. And I -- my first campaign manager is managing Pennsylvania for the vice president. And one
of the things I said is, you've got to get the vice president to Erie. And thankfully, he did get him to Erie, and not a few days past before the
president came to Erie and he famously announced, I don't want to be here, which I don't know why you would say that. But, you know, his Bulworth
moment there aside, the -- in underscores the fact that Erie is critical and it such a critical bellwether. And I think the vice president will
carry Erie and ultimately, carry Pennsylvania.
That being said, I would never underestimate the strength and popularity and durability of President Trump's base here in Pennsylvania. And I run
like I'm five points down, especially with a candidate that has this ability to pull margins that we had not previously observed from
Republicans in the state before.
AMANPOUR: And that is very wise counsel. I want to ask you, Sarah Longwell, not just about Pennsylvania, but about the broader national
picture, because, again, you are about the broader national picture.
I don't know whether you saw, but some people are talking about the body language at the end of the debate last night, that President Trump didn't
want to necessarily engage afterwards. He kind of walked off. He looked a little bit reticent and hesitant. I've heard -- I've watched and listened
to a columnist in "The New York Times" talk about, you know, he's behaving like a loser. On the other hand -- like he's absorbing the idea of defeat.
On the other hand, the president being told by his campaign, you just watched the next 11 days. It's going to be scorched earth. You've never
seen anything like it. What do you anticipate from President Trump over the next 11 days?
LONGWELL: Well, I think that despite the fact that he had a somewhat more subdued performance last night, I mean, you know, we're all judging him by
the bar that he set for himself in the first debate. And so, last night, since he wasn't, you know, shouting and acting crazy, everyone says, oh,
well, you know, he was more substantiative.
But the fact is, you know, Donald Trump can't change who he is. He just can't fundamentally be a different person. And if he was going to really
make a play to win this thing, he would be talking about his plans for COVID relief for people. He would be talking about his plan for solving
coronavirus. I mean, more of this bluster. Look, it was one thing in 2016 to run that playbook. It's really fun to own the libs when you can own your
car and own your house. But like when there's a pandemic and an economic crisis, people want real answers. And he just -- that's not what he does.
He's not substantiative in that way. He wants to go out and hold his rallies. He wants to yell about the press, he wants to talk about hunter
Biden and re-run that 2016 playbook, because that's what's fun for him.
But it's not fun for America anymore. People are exhausted. And they're hurting. I mean, the thing that I hear from these voters all the time is
the tremendous amount of personal pain they are experiencing in their own lives. Maybe their parent died and they weren't able to see them because of
the coronavirus or they're recovering from chemotherapy and they don't feel like they can go to the grocery store because people don't wear masks or
their kids aren't in school or learning virtually and they're having to work from home or somebody in their family has been furloughed or laid off.
I mean, people just want something better than what Donald Trump can offer.
And, you know, I just saw a poll come out of "The New York Times" that had Trump is beating Joe Biden by six points in Montana. Now, Montana is the
kind of ruby red state that Donald Trump won by over 20 points in 2016. If he's now only winning by six points, you are talking about a massive shift
in people's support for him. And he only won -- going back to Pennsylvania, he only won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes.
So, the question is, is are there 100,000 votes that have either switched or that are people who didn't turn out last time who are willing to turn
out this time because they are so frustrated? And I'm bullish on the idea that there are.
AMANPOUR: I wonder what your response to that, Lieutenant Governor. And also, just as part of it, the FBI has said, and we learned this yesterday,
that Russia did hack into local and state computer networks. As far as you know, is the Pennsylvania voting infrastructure safe and secure?
FETTERMAN: It absolutely is. And like, it's -- you know what's really exhausting is, these freak-out stories that appear with daily regularly.
Like, oh, my God, this. We found three ballots in the lunchroom and that suddenly becomes a national story or whatever. It's like, the fact is, is
that over 1.5 million people have already voted in Pennsylvania. They're already banked. And there's going to be a lot more over this weekend.
Voting in Pennsylvania is safe, secure and true and the result that we will deliver will reflect the true democratic will of our state. And I just tell
people, just breathe, relax, trust the United States Postal Service. Vote by mail. If you have a ballot, use it immediately and get it in. And if you
are going to go to the polls, just be prepared for longer lines and make sure you mask up and just make sure that you remember that it's going to be
probably -- that there's some grand -- or whatever, it's just part of the chaos.
And there is an agenda attached to that chaos -- all it's trying to do is get in the head of Democrats and to create some kind of grounds to
challenge the legitimacy of an outcome that he may not like in Pennsylvania, but it will be absolutely true and we are absolutely on top
AMANPOUR: I just want to pause here and say, for our viewers actually and for all of you, you're talking about the deliberate chaos. We try to get
Trump supporters on our program, like officials, to have a rational debate about what that side believes and envisions. And all we get is chaos. We
get total chaos. We get just incoherent conspiracy theories, and it's a real problem, because we cannot get to the heart of getting, you know, real
interviews that make sense with some -- in that political -- right around President Trump.
So, it's really, really difficult to get that perspective. But I want to ask you, because you said, take a deep breath -- yes, go ahead.
FETTERMAN: Yes, it's like -- that's the way they want it. They want these anecdotes. They want that -- my cousin's girlfriend, I saw on Facebook,
that they found a suitcase full of -- I mean, all of these like anecdotes. Because when you try to pin them down, whether it's in court or on your
program, as you pointed out, they're not going to come with -- and you know, that's like garlic and a cross to Dracula. They don't want to, you
know, be near that sunlight. They just want to continue to foment this kind of online chaos, this kind of conspiracy theory, because all it does is
create more and more sound and fury and that is part of their strategy.
And I believe it's two points. It's, one, to question the legitimacy of the election and two, to confuse and diminish the trust that Democrats have in
the voting system, voting by mail, for example, to create extra-long lines and disenfranchisement on the day of the election here.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's very good to hear that you have told everybody loud and clear that the system works. It's safe. It's secure. And just get out
Sarah Longwell, I want to ask you. You know, is it -- you know, the lieutenant governor said breathe, take it easy, just, you know, concentrate
on what's important. What about after the election. I want to play you this thing that went viral. Everybody's seen it, but the two gubernatorial
candidates in Utah. Just a little snippet and I want to ask you about whether that's a real hope for the future or not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS PETERSON (D-UT) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Chris Peterson.
SPENCER COX (R-UT) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm spencer cox.
PETERSON: We are currently in the final days of campaigning against each other to be your next governor.
COX: And well, I think you should vote for me.
PETERSON: Yes. But really, you should vote for me.
COX: There are some things we both agree on.
PETERSON: We can debate issues without degrading each other's character.
COX: We can disagree without hating each other.
PETERSON: And win or lose in Utah, we work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Sarah, what is your just quick view on that? Do you think it's possible? I mean, could these four years, everything you've been
saying, the fact that it's a referendum on the disruption and the dislocation, could there be a move towards somewhat more civil political
debate in the country or the opposite?
LONGWELL: Well, look, nobody is very bullish on the idea that things could get better or be more civil, but I am. And I'll tell you why. So, yes, I've
been a Republican all my life, but I think that there is something about Joe Biden that is uniquely suited to this moment. He is old, but he's also
old school. He's old school about being bipartisan. And his whole message of wanting to unite the country and bring people together, there are going
to be lots of Republicans who are going to continue to be recalcitrant and not want to work on, whether it's his policy agenda or whatever.
But the fact is, if Joe Biden wins, the first thing that's he's going to have to do is deal with this coronavirus. And Republicans know that we have
to deal with it, too. And so, there is really opportunity there for bipartisan and there is going to be a segment of Republicans who, I think,
maybe a Ben Sasse, certainly a Mitt Romney, who feel like, hey, we need to move past this really bleak moment in our history, and I think we'll be
looking to with Joe Biden for the American to solve this coronavirus problem that's plaguing all of us. And so, I see a glimmer of hope here
after so much darkness of the last four years.
AMANPOUR: Well, we like to end on an up note with some optimism. So, Sarah Longwell, thank you very much. And Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman,
thank you so much for being with us.
FETTERMAN: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: Now, foreign policy does not come up much in these debates. But it is a sure bet that every U.S. president will have to deal with crises
overseas, like the current flare-up of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Central Asia pitting their sponsors, Russia and Turkey,
potentially, against each other.
Now, it centers around this tiny enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is officially a part of Azerbaijan, but it's also home to ethnic Armenians.
The Soviet Union kept things quiet, but ever since the end of the Cold War, fighting has erupted periodically. And today, the foreign ministers of both
countries met with the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in a bit to seal another cease fire.
Well, joining me now, fresh from that meeting in an exclusive interview is the Armenian foreign minister, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.
Welcome to the program.
Can I just ask you what message Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, gave to you? Is there any hope that there will be a cease-fire?
ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN, ARMENIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, thank you very much for having me. The message from Secretary Pompeo is the message
of the three co-chair countries, Russia, France and the United States, who have been the internationally recognized mediating foment to find a
peaceful resolution to this conflict. And the message is, one, the war has to stop, the aggression has to stop. Cease-fire has to be established and
then we move on. That was the message we share very much and we support very much.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you say that. Your counterpart, who of course we did invite on this program wasn't able to join us, foreign minister of
Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, said the only pathway to peace is based on the U.N. Security Council resolutions and respect for international law. The
illegal Armenian occupation must end and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity restored. Are you prepared to make that concession?
MNATSAKANYAN: We are not talking about concessions. We are talking about establishing cease-fire now and returning to the peace process. Now, when
it comes to the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, this whole conflict is about people, is about our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenians who
have been resisting the subjugation to the domination to this -- to the domination of Azerbaijan. This has been the whole story.
It is all about our people who are pounded with bones and rockets and missiles. Now, the existential physical security of our compatriots has
been the core of this problem. Has been the core of the issue. And what we have been insisting upon is that we find the peaceful resolution to this
conflict in which the security of our compatriots finds its expression and that the statutes of Nagorno-Karabakh, the right to self-determination of
our compatriots is a very basic principle recognized by the international community and that has to be delivered now.
Our people in Nagorno-Karabakh will live in freedom and dignity in safety and in security. That's the core issue of this conflict. It's about people.
It's not the conflict. It's the real lives of people.
As we were talking, when we were here in Washington, when we were trying to further reinforce the message of cease-fire, the message of going back to
the peaceful resolution, I have been receiving now messages when coming out of the meetings, messages from Armenia, from Nagorno-Karabakh that the
civilian settlements, the towns of Stepanakert, Hadrut, Martuni have again been the target of heavy shelling, of missile shelling by the Azerbaijani
forces. The civilians are dying. The civilian -- the humanitarian situation is very dire. And this is not going to happen.
AMANPOUR: OK, Foreign Minister. I get it. I get it, because we've been watching it. That's why we're having you on. And it's always the people,
isn't it? It's not the officials who sit in their palaces and walk the halls of power. It always the people.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you this. You know, you've just called Nagorno-Karabakh ethnically belonging to your people there. But the United
Nations calls Armenians an occupation force. Look, in 1993, there were security council resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of those
occupying forces, as they said. In 2008, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on the issue in which it called for the exactly the same
thing. And the 2008 General Assembly reaffirmed Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
So, this obviously has to happen through negotiation. You can see it pointed out there in black and white and yet, you can also see that your
people have a right to safety and to their own rights. Is there any way you -- because you're very firm about what you're saying, is there any way that
you and the Azerbaijanis can get together and resolve this? Because all the cease-fires that have been put in so far have just collapsed after a day or
MNATSAKANYAN: Right. Now, excellent point you're making. As we are going back to '93, then that is an important point to make about that. Between
'92 and '93, we had a very dangerous situation, when there was a narrow strip left to the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh with the rest of the
territory occupied by the Azerbaijani forces. The population from those territories ethnically cleansed and driven out of their territories.
The subsequent developments have been such that the Armenians were capable in Nagorno-Karabakh to defend themselves, very resolute to defend their
lives and they have created a security belt, which today, has been basically, you know, a demonstration that unless there was a security power
(ph), the Nagorno-Karabakh population might have been again facing this ethnic cleansing as it has always been, you know, looming over them.
We are negotiating in good faith to find a way in which the right to self- determination of our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh will find its manifestation, its resolution. That's our commitment and we will continue
to work towards achieving this objective.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's your commitment. You're telling us now in full international platform and full platform across the United States, but the
problem is that your prime minister was there in, I believe, it was August, actually last year in August, and he was behaving in a very nationalistic
way. He used -- perhaps it's his language, but he used the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh and he repeatedly led crowds chanting, unification
with Armenia. Is that your policy?
MNATSAKANYAN: Well, look, this is a twist we have been addressing and dealing with over the past year. A twist and a deceptive way of turning the
words on their heads. The prime minister has been talking about the role of Armenia in securing, guaranteeing the security of our compatriots in
Nagorno-Karabakh. There is no other force in this world who has been doing that.
And the prime minister has been talking about the way in which Armenia is developing, Armenia is reforming, and he is reaffirming that Armenia will
not be indifferent to the fate of its compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh.
MNATSAKANYAN: The prime minister has been talking about -- he has been talking about the compromised peaceful resolution consistently over these
two years and in that speech, as well. So, these words are taken out of context and there is disregard to the --
AMANPOUR: OK. So, just confirm for me --
MNATSAKANYAN: -- fundamental point that the solution is compromise-based and it is peaceful. And that's the message from Armenia that has been
consistent over two years.
AMANPOUR: That is what people want to hear, peaceful compromise, diplomacy and not fighting as we see right now. So, are you telling me that the
official position of Armenia is not to have Nagorno-Karabakh unify with Armenia?
MNATSAKANYAN: We are saying that the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which their free expression without
limitations will be achieved. Now, today's situation shows that there is no way for subjugation. There is no way for domination. There is no way that
we will have the risk of ethnic cleansing of our compatriots again looming over them. That the people will decide their fate and they will decide for
their independence, and that has to be respected. That is the way to solve it.
So far, as the compromises confirm, we have to be very clear, no concession, no maximalist approach that we have been hearing from
Azerbaijan. They have to stop that.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister...
MNATSAKANYAN: So far as the compromise is confirmed, we have to be very clear, no concession, no maximalist approach that we very been hearing from
as Azerbaijan. They have to stop that.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, thank you very much for joining us.
MNATSAKANYAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Again, I had hoped to have the Azerbaijani foreign minister as well. He wasn't able to join us today.
We hope that this will calm down in your region.
But joining me now to tell us more about why this matters is, in fact, Ivo Daalder. He is the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and has been very
involved in all these issues.
So, first and foremost, Ivo Daalder, welcome to the program.
But the Armenian foreign minister tells us that it's about self- determination for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, that he says that the Azeris are dominating the Armenians there, ethnically cleansing them.
What -- is there a role and a route to compromise over this?
IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, there hasn't been a route to compromise, of course, for almost 30 years, since the conflict
really started up again back in the early 1990s, when Armenia was able to take control of Nagorno-Karabakh and has kept control of that region ever
Occasionally, we have had some diplomatic engagements, as we did in the late '90s, that was trying to get to a diplomatic settlement. But then war
or conflict once again rises to the fore, as it did in 2016, as it is doing now again.
Ultimately, unless and until the leadership in both Armenia and Azerbaijan is willing to compromise on this very difficult set of issues of both the
self-determination that is involved, but also the territorial integrity and the non-use or threat of force, which are key principles, not only of the
U.N. charter, but of the Helsinki Final Act, that guide and should guide behavior in Europe, until that is done, we're not going to get a diplomatic
solution, nor, frankly, are we going to get a military solution.
It's just a bloody mess when the fighting goes on, but nothing much changes in the status quo.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you this, then, because, clearly, people are worried. I mean, there's a reason why the United States has invited these
two gentlemen to Washington, that the secretary of state has put his -- power of his office behind trying to get a cease-fire.
Why is it so important? I mean, you were a NATO ambassador for years. Obviously, Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan, is a NATO member. And let me
just see -- read you what President Erdogan has said just a couple of weeks ago.
"We say again to our Azerbaijani brothers that we stand by them in their holy struggle until victory."
In the meantime, Vladimir Putin, who backs Armenia, is much less robust in his defense. He says: "hit is deeply regrettable that the hostilities
continue, but they are not taking place on Armenian territory."
So, Putin is standing back, it seems. Erdogan is being very bullish on this. What could be the fallout?
DAALDER: Well, that is the big change. It's Turkey's direct support of the Azeri claims, but also the rapid supply of armaments and even the possible
participation of Turkish forces, that has really changed the situation.
Turkey is throwing its weight around. It is benefiting from the absence of the United States and others in the region. It is engaged in conflict with
Russia in Syria and in Libya and now potentially over this area. That's why it matters.
That's why we should be concerned, because there is the possibility -- it's not a likelihood -- but there's a possibility of an escalation of this
conflict that would lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey.
And, as you mentioned, Turkey is a NATO member. And under those circumstances, the question of whether NATO would get involved or not,
whether it would risk a conflict with Russia over this particular issue or not, comes on the agenda. Much better to find a cease-fire quickly in order
to de-escalate the situation, so you don't have to confront that very, very dangerous possibility.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it does look like they are still far apart. But we will wait to see whether the U.S. can bring them closer together.
Just quickly, before I leave you, on a different issue, the United States has announced that, I believe, it's removed Sudan from its list of state
sponsors of terrorism, and it's talking about Sudan very soon or now are normalizing relations with Israel.
This would be another African, but Arab state doing so. What is the impact of that?
DAALDER: Well, there is the effort by President Trump and his administration to bring Israel closer to its relations with Arab countries.
We saw a peace agreement, or at least an agreement towards the normalization, first with the UAE, then with Bahrain, now Sudan. And there
is this idea that, if we can create the momentum of bringing Israel into better relations, and perhaps even normalized relations, with more and more
Arab countries, that will be to the benefit of Israel.
And, as the United States, as the diplomatic broker of these agreements, it will be seen as a victory for President Trump in his approach to this part
of the world.
That said, these are just commitments to have agreements. Whether they will actually be fully realized and whether the domestic politics in Sudan will
support it is something we will have to wait and see.
AMANPOUR: And very quickly, it's great to rack up these normalizations. Obviously, peace is better than war, although none them have been at war
But is it still, would you say, a massively important goal to strive for the elusive prize of peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
DAALDER: Well, ultimately, of course, real stability and real peace in that part of the world does require a settlement between Israel and the
Palestinians, a settlement that seems more distant each and every day, that has been put on the back burner by the Trump administration, nevertheless
remains fundamental to ultimate peace and stability in this part of the world.
AMANPOUR: Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Now, we have spoken about the competing visions in the race for the White House. Donald Trump's 2016 victory shocked America and, in fact, the whole
world, after polls consistently showed him trailing Hillary Clinton.
Polls again, as we have been discussing, have the Democratic candidate with a comfortable lead, but will they get it right this time?
Sean Trende is a senior analyst for RealClearPolitics who's been tracking the trends shaping 2020 and how polling has changed over the last four
Here, he's talking to our Hari Sreenivasan about his key takeaways as the clock ticks down.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks.
Sean Trende, thanks for joining us.
I'm not going to ask you about who's leading right now, because I know polls are just a snapshot, and people should go vote regardless of whether
they're candidate is up or down.
But I want to ask, do you think that last night's debate is going to have any impact on these?
SEAN TRENDE, SENIOR ELECTIONS ANALYST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think, if it does have an impact, it'll be pretty moderate.
I think there are some conservative voters in the U.S. who were kind of looking for permission to vote for Donald Trump, if you will. They're
inclined to vote for Republicans, but because of President Trump's behavior, having a normalish debate from him probably helps him.
But, overall, I don't think we will see any major movement as a result.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a trend line that you have seen, not just about the about who's leading and who's not, but, say, for example, the rest of the
questions in the poll, which I think are much more fascinating to me, about issues that seem persistent?
TRENDE: Yes, we look at the traditional question. People vote their pocketbooks. There's the line going back, Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign,
"It's the economy, stupid,"
And look to see how people perform there traditionally. And then, actually, surprisingly, Donald Trump holds up fairly well. He typically leads Joe
Biden on who's best for the economy.
But this cycle is a little different. We want to see who leads on the handling of coronavirus. And, in that case, it's usually Joe Biden who's
leading the president. There are other issues, like health care and things like that, that typically voters say don't matter as much. Typically, Joe
Biden leads on these other issues as well.
SREENIVASAN: So, where were we in 2016 compared to now?
I know it's a different landscape, because there was not a pandemic facing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton at that time.
TRENDE: Yes, I mean, I want to be cautious with the 2016 comparisons, especially given what I'm about to tell people.
But, in 2016, Donald Trump was not an incumbent. And so the machinations of the functioning of the election was a little bit different. But the polls
actually looked a lot in 2016 like they look right now, especially at the state polls.
Clinton had blown up a big lead after the "Access Hollywood" tape dropped, and then it was just kind of like trending, gradually tightening, and
that's what we're seeing right now. And if you look at the states, they're almost exactly where they were in 2016.
SREENIVASAN: So, that leads to a natural question. What did the polls get wrong last time ,and how are they different today?
TRENDE: We hope we know the answer to that. Part of it is easy. People convinced themselves that the Upper Midwest wasn't competitive. And they
stopped polling. We didn't get a lot of polls from states like Wisconsin and Michigan and Minnesota in the closing days.
We think the issue was that they weren't getting enough whites without college degrees in the sample. And so -- and that's a problem, because that
was Donald Trump's strongest demographic group. And they are the most -- they're a massive demographic group in kind of -- in these key states of
Michigan, Wisconsin, so forth.
So, pollsters have been working really hard to try to get more of these voters in their sample. We're a little nervous, because, in 2018, the poll
said we were supposed to have Democratic governors in Ohio and Iowa, and that didn't pan out. We were supposed to have Democratic senators in
Missouri and Indiana, and that didn't pan out.
So, there's some nervousness here. But I think at least some of the error in 2016 was fixed.
SREENIVASAN: So, how do pollsters correct for that? And how do we know?
I mean, is -- do just try to make sure that you're including that many more people of whatever category in your phone survey? Because there's always
the concern, well, the people who might support the president might not really like talking to pollsters.
TRENDE: And that's something that you can't do anything about that, that last scenario. And that's what makes us nervous.
Donald Trump voters are characterized by low levels of social trust. And you can easily see how that could manifest, even with every demographic
characteristic controlled for, not talking to pollsters.
With that said, to answer the question more directly, you know what share the population white voters and whites without college degrees and African-
American voters make. And so when you get your overall sample, you do what's called weighting the respondents.
If you only have 8 percent African-Americans in your sample, and you know the population as a whole is 16 percent, you essentially count those
African-American respondents twice. You wake them up to their population average.
SREENIVASAN: There's also the fact that there's the popular vote, which the polls might predict accurately, and then there's the Electoral College,
which is a whole different beast.
And we know what happened in 2016. We know what happened in 2000. And if you look at the polls, it suggests that the split between the state that
gives Joe Biden or Donald Trump electoral vote 270, and the popular vote is going to be about three or four points this time.
So, when you see Joe Biden with a seven- or eight-point lead, I just always mentally subtract four points from it. And so it's really a three- or four-
point lead right now. And that puts things in perspective.
SREENIVASAN: Is there still an undecided voter left in America? Because it seems like, if you like the president, you love him by now, if you didn't
like the president in 2016, you really don't like him now.
TRENDE: Well, if you haven't made your mind up about Donald Trump by now, I don't know what's going to help you choose. I mean, the last four years
have, if absolutely nothing else, been eventful
I -- we look at the polls. And at this point in 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton accounted for about 85 percent of voters, and there were a
large number of undecided. Some of those went to third parties.
If you look at it today, it's more like 93 percent of voters are voting for Donald Trump or Joe Biden. So, we really are talking about a very small
pool of undecided voters at this point.
SREENIVASAN: What do you think is the driving factor in the resiliency of the president? Because what's impressive, regardless of where you are
politically, is how consistent his support has been.
I mean, it's barely wavered lower, and then maybe back to where it was, over the four years.
TRENDE: Yes, during his first year of office, he saw it dip down into the high 30s. But it came back in 2018.
He's been pretty much the most stable job approval president ever. It's tracked between 42 and 46 percent ever since.
I think there are just -- there's people who just like Donald Trump. And I don't know how else to explain it. I think part of it is, we're in a very
polarized time. So, if you're Republican, you start out liking Republicans, and if you're Democrat, you don't.
Donald Trump famously had no what we call a honeymoon period. His job approval started at like 47 percent, kind of just outside his normal range,
whereas most presidents will get up above 50 percent and even into the 60s for their first couple months in office.
So it's just been an unusual presidency, but perhaps it's a sign of the times.
SREENIVASAN: Is there -- is it accurate when people say, oh, that poll comes out, well, that's a right-leaning poll, oh, this is a left-leaning
They're not really -- most people don't -- are not pollsters. They don't have to read the fine print on exactly who was surveyed. We don't know
which 1,200 people were phoned, right? But is there implicit bias inside the polling systems that exist today?
TRENDE: There are some pollsters who, for whatever reason, when they take polls -- some of them, we know exactly why they take a poll and it has a
Republican lean or Democratic lean, because they're companies that are affiliated with the Republican or Democratic Party, Trafalgar on the right
and PPP on the left.
For the most part, though, I think pollsters try to get it as right as they can, because they're putting their reputation on the line. And so whether
it's the CNN poll, or the FOX poll, or the MSNBC poll, they're trying to inform their viewers. And I don't think you can dismiss any of those polls
based on the label, unless it comes from an outfit that is particularly devoted to one party or the other.
SREENIVASAN: And if we also included cell phone numbers in this now? Because different markets, some people are cutting the cord, they don't
have copper service lines that they're paying for anymore.
TRENDE: It is a huge problem, there's no doubt about it, that we have cell phone -- a lot of cell phone-only households now, because, under federal
law, if you have you know the robo-dialing polls, where it's not a person, it's just a computer that asks you the questions and you punch it on, you
can't do that with cell phones.
It's something that goes back to the days when people paid by the minute, and so they passed a law to protect people from having to listen to robo-
calls and waste their minutes. And now there's just no constituency for letting the robo-callers call your cell phone.
Anyway, it's a problem. And there's no easy way around it. Live interview polls are very expensive, so, generally, only the big networks conduct
them. You know, people do the best they can.
SREENIVASAN: You recently wrote a couple of articles, Donald Trump's path to victory and what a Biden win would look like.
Just kind of summarize your main takeaways there.
So, a Biden win is the easy piece to write, because it's basically the polls are correct. And if you go back to like 1998, there's really not much
of a bias to the polls. Now, in any given year, there can be a substantial bias one way or the other. But, overall, the polls are accurate.
So, there's probably going to be some sort of house effect. In 2012, people don't remember it, but there was actually a bias in the polls. It was
towards the Republicans. Barack Obama outperformed the polls by about two or three points. No one cared, because the polls that said Barack Obama
would win. So, in that way, the 2016 error was typical.
So you should expect the polls will be unbiased, but know that they can be off two or three points in either direction. So, Biden could outperform his
already kind of substantial polling lead.
For Donald Trump, it's a little bit trickier. When I wrote -- when I wrote the piece, his job approval was about 43 percent. And, typically, incumbent
presidents get their job approval plus a point or two. And so I said, if he can get his job approval back up to 46 percent by Election Day, he'd
actually have a pretty good shot.
You would expect him to lose the popular vote by three or four points, which, for him, probably translates to an Electoral College victory. But we
have seen his job approval stagnate about 44.5 percent, 45 percent. And I don't think that's enough for him to get it done, unless something happens
over the next week or two -- I mean, we have got now, I think, 10 days to improve his job approval -- I think he's going to have a tough time
SREENIVASAN: What -- you mentioned 2018. And what does that tell you about 2020, if the predictions were that there should have been more of a
Democratic blue wave coming through?
TRENDE: It's something that makes us a little bit nervous.
I mentioned the polls in the Upper Midwest, but also Florida, which is -- if you go back to 1992, and add up all the votes for Republican presidents
and all the votes for Democratic presidents in the state of Florida, the gap is 10,000 votes. Like, it is that close.
And so we kind of look to it as the kind of perennial swing state. But, in 2018, I don't think Ron DeSantis led in a single poll over Andrew Gillum,
and yet he is now the governor. Rick Scott did lead in a couple polls over Bill Nelson, but it wasn't many, and he is now the senator.
So there was a Democratic bias in the polls in 2018, no doubt about it. Will it repeat in 2020? We don't know. But we have to be aware of the
SREENIVASAN: I'm going to ask also, given the huge surge in not just interest, but in actual early voting and mail-in balloting, how do you
capture that cross-section of the audience?
TRENDE: So, there's a couple ways you can do it.
One way is that some states let you know who voted. And so some of these pollsters aren't randomly dialing. They are selecting people from a list, a
published list of voters and sampling from that list.
And so, in some of these states, you can match that with people who have voted early. And that's actually great, because you know these people have
voted. You ask them who they voted for. You don't have to guess at what that electorate looks like.
Other states, the data aren't quite as good. And that's where it becomes a little bit tricky. One of the interesting things is that there will
typically be more people who say they have already voted than actually already voted. People aren't truthful.
And so that's just one of those vagaries of polling you try to deal with.
SREENIVASAN: Do Biden supporters have reason to be concerned, considering -- or do Trump supporters have reason to say, you know what, this happened
last time, he's sort of the comeback kid?
TRENDE: Yes, I mean, you can't dismiss what happened last time. And, like I said, you can't dismiss what happened in 2012, where the polls were
actually off by two or three points, just in the different -- in the different direction.
So you have to acknowledge the possibility that these things can happen. But, like I said, the error can be in either direction. We could have polls
showing Joe Biden up by seven points and then, on Election Day, he wins by 10 or 11. You cannot predict which direction poll errors go.
SREENIVASAN: Let's talk a little bit about the Senate race, because, in a way, people have made up their minds about the president, and that's not
going to have nearly as much of a margin of change as what could happen in the Senate in technically 50 different places, right?
So, how do we -- heading in now to the election, what are the Senate races that you're most intrigued by?
TRENDE: There are a lot of interesting Senate races, but we can -- we can kind of clump -- put a clump in of seats we think are going to change. And
they would give Democrats two seats, one short of a majority.
Then there's a cluster of races that, if things get really bad for Republicans, they could lose, but they probably lost the majority before
those seats flip. The majority-making seats are most likely Iowa and North Carolina, two very close Senate races.
Right now, in our average, we have the Democrats ahead in each of them by two points. But they also have been closing in our averages. So...
SREENIVASAN: Is that within the margin of error?
TRENDE: Well within the margin of error, yes.
So, control the Senate really could -- I mean, unless the polls have a systemic bias, and Joe Biden wins by 10 points, then I say, yes, Democrats
could get 54, 55 seats. But if we're in this range of Joe Biden winning by six to eight points, those two seats are going to be very, very tight.
So, in North Carolina, Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham are neck and neck in a race. Thom Tillis is trying to get reelected for the first time. It's the
same story in Iowa. Joni Ernst was elected in 2014 to replace Tom Harkin. She is in a very, very close race for that seat.
SREENIVASAN: And in North Carolina, this is after a sexting scandal with somebody who wasn't Mr. Cunningham's wife.
TRENDE: Yes, that's right. This was a race where it kind of looked like maybe like Cal Cunningham was getting some distance from Tillis, but ever
since that scandal broke, there's been a hard break towards Tillis in the polls.
He's still not leading in our averages, but it is much more competitive than it looked a few days -- a few weeks ago.
SREENIVASAN: What are you watching for in the last week?
TRENDE: I watch President Trump's job approval more than anything else, because if we do see a late break among a small number of undecided voters
-- I think that's where it turns up first.
People decide, OK, I like the job he's doing. Then they make the decision that they're going to vote for him or against him.
I'm paying very close attention to those two Senate races in Iowa and North Carolina, because I do think they're the majority-makers, and just trying
to keep my sanity, along with the rest of America.
Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics, thanks so much.
TRENDE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And the rest of the world.
And, finally, we kick off the weekend with something to celebrate. The one, the only Pele is 80 years old. No matter how old you are, or where you grew
up, or who you grew up watching, few players have touched the game of soccer like this Brazilian superstar.
From the moment he first burst onto the scene as a teenager to now, he ranks among one of the greatest sports people of all time, and he remains
the only man in history to win three World Cups.
So, good wishes are pouring in across his home country. And we have an exhibit launched in his honor at Sao Paulo's football stadium, football
museum, to a mural that was designed by the street artist Kobra in Santos.
He will forever be an international treasure as well.
And that's it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.