Watch CBS News

Face the Nation transcript September 25, 2016: Ryan, Kaine, Pence

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: On the eve of the first presidential debate, we will talk to both candidates’ running mates.

Donald Trump says it can be dangerous to overprepare for debates. Hillary Clinton spent most of the week privately prepping for a debate that tens of millions are likely to watch. Just how important is Monday’s showdown at Hofstra University?

We will ask both vice presidential candidates, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Then we will hear from two more key figures in this year’s election, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders.

Plus, we will get some pre-debate analysis from our own Bob Schieffer. And will the Charlotte Police Department’s release of video and evidence from last week’s shooting put an end to the protests?

It’s all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.

We will get to politics in a minute, but first an update on a story we have been following all week, that of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We turn to CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett for an update -- Errol.


Last night saw mostly peaceful protests, but tensions here remain high as this story continues to unfold. Saturday evening, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released portions of dashboard camera and body camera footage of the encounter with Keith Lamont Scott.

The police department paints a scenario in which officers observed Mr. Scott with marijuana, but didn’t think it was an arrestable offense until they also saw him raise a weapon. The police have released this photo of the handgun they say has traces of Scott’s DNA. Meanwhile, the Scott family says they have been left with more questions than answers. They asked if excessive force was necessary since Scott was not behaving aggressively, and they question whether he was armed at the time.

And, John, today’s Carolina Panthers’ home game has been deemed an extraordinary event, which means security here will be on high alert and the city can restrict items people can take into the stadium.

DICKERSON: Errol Barnett for us in Charlotte, North Carolina -- thanks, Errol.

We turn now to campaign 2016.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll out this morning gives Hillary Clinton a two-point edge nationally among likely voters. The race is tight too in our CBS News Battleground Tracker. In the state of Colorado, Hillary Clinton has a one-point lead over Trump, 40 to 39 percent. It is now a tossup among our 13 battlegrounds. There are now six states in that tossup category.

And in Virginia, last month, Hillary Clinton was leading by 12 points. That lead has dropped four points. It is now Clinton 45 percent, Trump 37 percent.

We go now to Richmond, Virginia, and Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine.

Senator, I want to start on the debate question. Some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters say there is a difficult standard for Hillary Clinton. What is that different standard in the debate?

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I’m not sure -- I’m hoping there isn’t a different standard in the debate, John.

I think there’s been some worry that maybe, up until now, there has been different standards applied, but that’s the great thing about the debate. I think there’s three critical points. First, the candidates get grilled on specifics.

Hillary has been very specific about policy plans. We have a book out describing them. Donald Trump less so, but tomorrow is an opportunity to see whether Donald will be specific about what he proposes to do.

Second, unanswered questions. The voters have questions. Donald Trump has not released his tax returns. News of this past week shows a whole series of very serious questions about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. And, finally, there’s been news recently about very questionable, even illegal payments by the Trump Foundation.

I think these unanswered questions are going to be on voters’ minds. And, then, finally, there’s the issue of truthfulness. PolitiFact has been tracking Donald Trump’s claims on the campaign trail thus far. About 70 percent of the things they check turn out to be false. And so that’s an interesting point about the debate tomorrow night, too. In a 90-minute format, not 20-second sound bites, there’s a real opportunity to hear somebody say something and then get into, is that actually true or not?

So, I think the debate issue, you know, obviously let it be an even standard for both, but that issue about specifics, answering those unanswered questions and checking people on truthfulness, that is going to be very important.

DICKERSON: I notice the campaign put out a list already of 18 or truth -- questions or falsehoods about Donald Trump they put out. So, that is about Donald Trump.

But Hillary Clinton, everything she says in the campaign, that will be -- in the debate, everything she says will be truthful?

KAINE: I think that’s fair game.

Look, it’s fair game for both candidates to be challenged either on things that they have said or things that they say tomorrow night. And, again, I think the great virtue of these debates is, you get 90 minutes to look at people and really see whether there’s depth, whether there’s substance, and whether there is candor and truthfulness in what they say.

DICKERSON: Any advice you have given Hillary Clinton before the debate?

KAINE: We have talked a little bit about the debates, both of our debates, but more in the area of kind of tone and style and how to effectively make your positive case, even while, you know, parrying what the other guy throws at you.

What I expect her to do tomorrow is certainly defend herself from what Trump may say, but, at the end of the day, paint this positive vision that really is what is animating her to run for president.

DICKERSON: Hillary Clinton wondered why she wasn’t 50 points ahead this week.

Why isn’t she ahead by more?


KAINE: Well, look, we’re a closely divided nation. And I have run all my races in Virginia. And, to me, this seems like every race I have ever been in.

This is a state that’s traditionally been a very close state. Actually, that we’re even close at all in Virginia is kind of new to us, and the poll that you reported this morning about the Virginia results is real positive. But I encouraged Hillary to run for president in April of 2014. And I told her, don’t believe any poll. You’re trying to do something that’s never been done. You’re the underdog until they call you the winner.

So, I think this thing is going to be close right up until the end. We have got to make our case every day. The debates are a great way to do that.

DICKERSON: You mentioned Virginia. The first African-American governor of Virginia, Doug Wilder, who supported you campaign as governor, reportedly told you this: “Let’s assume Trump is the worst guy in the world. Fine. What makes you better? Because you’re not considered the worst, but you’re right next to it.”

What’s your response to that?

KAINE: Again, we have got to make our case.

But there’s a reason we’re doing well in Virginia right now, because I think voters have looked at us and have decided that they really embrace our message. You know, there’s three pillars to the campaign all under the stronger together banner, an economy that works for everybody, not just for a few.

And I think people embrace that over a dog-eat-dog or winner- take-all economy. We have got to be safe in this world, but safety depends on building alliances, not shredding them. That’s a huge difference between Hillary and Donald Trump.

And, finally -- and this is really important -- you got to build a community of respect. The disrespectful language that Donald Trump uses about racial minorities, accusing the president of not being a United States citizen, immigrants, women, people who worship as Muslims, that’s not who we are in Virginia. And I actually don’t think those are the values of the American electorate.

DICKERSON: Governor, in terms of the pitch you have to make to voters, I mean, I come up with it again and again in talking to voters. They keep coming back to this trust issue.

You mentioned it with respect to the debate. This is a key liability of Hillary Clinton’s. What can you tell -- not about a choice, but in terms of somebody who wants to be president, what can you tell voters, other than trust us, that Hillary Clinton is going to do to increase transparency and openness were she to become president?


Well, here’s what I say. Hillary has a long track record of service in public life. And you can look at that. I tell the story about her being first lady of the United States, when the effort to get Hillary Clinton done failed, and that was a tough, tough, bitter loss, but then it tested her as a leader. And she worked together with Democrats and Republicans to get health insurance for eight million low-income American children in the CHIP program. The measure of character in somebody in public life, I think, is whether they have a passion for somebody other than themselves and whether they keep after that passion whether they are winning or losing. Hillary has demonstrated that again and again.

And I think that’s a sharp contrast to a Donald Trump, whose only recognized passion in his life has been for himself. No great president in this country has been primarily a me-first person. The great presidents are people who watch out for others, and that’s who Hillary Clinton has been, that’s who she is, and that’s who she will be.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Kaine, we are going to have to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us.

KAINE: Absolutely. Good to be back.

DICKERSON: We turn now to the other candidate for vice president, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who joins us from the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.

Governor, most candidates would be hitting the books. Donald Trump has been out campaigning almost just like regular. So how has he been preparing for the debates?

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I think Donald Trump has been preparing for this debate for his entire lifetime.

He’s built a great business. He’s traveled the country, and particularly in this campaign, John, as you saw last night in Roanoke, Virginia, Donald Trump has been out among the American people. I think he’s given voice to the frustrations and aspirations of the American people like no American leader in my lifetime since Ronald Reagan.

And I think all of that is going to combine and come together. And I’m looking forward to seeing this good man, my running mate, step on that stage and present his message to make America great again to the American people.

DICKERSON: He suggests the moderator shouldn’t fact-check in the debates. Why shouldn’t they?

PENCE: Well, I think we all had the experience a few years ago of Mitt Romney being interrupted and being challenged on an assertion that he made. I believe it was about the tragedy in Benghazi.

And it turned out the moderator was wrong. I think the important thing is, is that the American people hear from these two candidates. The choice in this campaign could not be more clear.

In Donald Trump, we have a leader who literally embodies the American spirit, who wants to change the direction of this country through rebuilding our military, less taxes, less regulation, repealing Obamacare, standing by the Constitution, and Hillary Clinton, who literally offers a third Obama term, more of the same, more taxes, more regulation, more Obamacare, more of the war on energy, and more of the policies that have weakened America’s place in the world.

So, we need the hear from these two candidates, and I hope and trust that the moderators will just facilitate that.

DICKERSON: And, Governor, Donald Trump has said recently, “I will always tell you the truth.”

Do you expect that everything he says in the debate on Monday night will be truthful?

PENCE: I think Donald Trump always speaks straight from his mind and straight from his heart. I think he’s the most...

DICKERSON: Does he speak the truth?

PENCE: ... bold truth-teller to run for president of the United States.


DICKERSON: We expect everything to be the truth, though, on Monday night?

PENCE: Absolutely. Absolutely, John.

He’s going to speak the truth to the American people. That’s why you see the tremendous momentum in this campaign. You see it in the polls. There’s polls out today that show this is virtually a dead heat. There’s tremendous momentum, because the American people want change, and they see in Donald Trump a leader who embodies the American spirit.

DICKERSON: Recently, some -- U.S. military hit some Syrian army by mistake recently. And Donald Trump said that they were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

Is it wise for a future commander in chief to say about the military that they are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight?

PENCE: Well, I think when you look at the policies of this administration...


DICKERSON: But he was talking about the people involved in the attack, sir, not the administration.

PENCE: Well, I think what -- what you’re going to have in Donald Trump in a commander in chief, John, is someone who is going to speak boldly. He’s going to have high expectations.

We’re going to rebuild the military in this country, provide them with the resources and the training they need to be able to defend our freedom and prosecute the actions that a commander in chief calls on them to do.

The contrast with this administration, where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made a decision to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of 2012 from Iraq, literally created a vacuum in which ISIS was able to overrun vast areas of Iraq that had been hard-won by the American soldiers.

And the other side thinks that calling that out is disrespectful to the military, but I have to tell you, as the father of a United States Marine, as someone who is with veterans and military service personnel every day out across this country, they long, they all long for a commander in chief who will make the right investments, who will support our troops at home and abroad, and they will have that in Donald Trump.

DICKERSON: One last question to you, Governor.

Donald Trump has made a lot on the campaign trail about politicians who receive donations and how they are puppets of the people who donate to them.

You have received donations. There are a lot of Republicans who have. Why is Donald Trump wrong about the idea about that people who get money are puppets?

PENCE: Well, I don’t think that that’s the point that he’s really been making.

I think his point is, is that we have had a system in this country that really has benefited the favored few, that, from Wall Street to Washington, D.C., we have seen money flowing in to politics, and the American people, really, really end up -- really end up on the losing side one time after another.

DICKERSON: But, I guess, Governor...

PENCE: And I truly do believe that, when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, that pay-to-play system is going to come to an end.

The American people are responding to Donald Trump, and you see it in the polls. We see it in the crowds, because they know when he becomes president of the United States, Donald Trump is going to be fighting for the American people every single day.

DICKERSON: I hear you.

But he said, Governor, that those who meet with Charles and David Koch are the puppets of public. Now, Charles Koch has donated to you. So why are some people who meet with them puppets, but you’re not? That’s what seems to be confusing.

PENCE: Well, look, Donald Trump has his own way of speaking in public life.

And, look, in a political campaign, things can get a little rough-and-tumble, but I will tell you, he and I stand shoulder to shoulder in the belief that we can make America great again. I think what the American people are going to see tomorrow night on the debate stage, John, is a strong leader with a clear vision to rebuild our military, revive our economy, make appointments to our Supreme Court that will uphold our Constitution.

DICKERSON: All right.

PENCE: And that will be a dramatic contrast from Hillary Clinton, who offers more of the same.

It’s going to be change vs. the status quo.


PENCE: And I’m looking forward to being front and center in that debate and seeing Donald Trump take his case to the American people.

DICKERSON: All right, Governor, we will have to leave it there, with the issue of puppetry unresolved.

We thank you so much for being with us.

PENCE: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: We spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier and discussed the presidential race and how it fits in with Ryan’s agenda for House Republicans, A Better Way.

But we began with his thoughts on the police shootings and violence in Charlotte and Tulsa and what could be done about them.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It’s heartbreaking. And this country has to find new ways of learning how to heal and understand all the different perspectives.

And we have a working group on this. They were in Detroit last week doing listening sessions. They’re now all doing ride-alongs with the police. And what we’re trying to do is quietly and calmly come together and find where we can find some common solutions.

DICKERSON: Is there a role for leaders to come in and play that calming role?

RYAN: Well, that’s what we’re doing with our working group.

But, again, I don’t want to make the case that the federal government can just pass a law and this is all going to go away. I think what we need to do is make sure that we go into communities, listen, learn, identify local home-grown solutions, support them, and then see if we can find good solutions that can be replicated in other areas.

DICKERSON: In terms of the relationship between races in America, has that gotten better or worse as a result of the presidential campaign?

RYAN: I don’t think we’re in a good place right now. That’s for sure. I can’t tell you whether it’s gotten better or worse.

We have made great progress over the years. And we still have a long ways to go. And I think what it is, is, we have to learn. Each of us have to get better perspectives, get outside of our comfort zones, understand what other people are thinking and saying and what they see, and then try and come up with common ground solutions.

And that’s to me the kind of healing that has to occur. And you’re not going to have that done in the fourth quarter of a presidential election. This is campaign season.

DICKERSON: You had said at one point when we talked you hoped that Donald Trump would offer a positive vision that is inclusive. Has he done that?

RYAN: Well, I think he has in certain areas. I think -- I’m glad that he’s making inroads into the African-American community, the minority community.

I think the effort is very important. Half of it is just showing up, showing up and trying and learning and listening. So, I think...

DICKERSON: But it’s been in the fourth quarter.


RYAN: But he’s brand-new at this. You know, he never ran for office before. It is in the fourth quarter. But I’m glad he’s doing it.

So, I think that he’s going to learn as he goes. But what I see in this campaign is a very binary choice. And I came here to do big things. I took this job to do big things to, to fix big problems that are kind of getting out of control in this country. And I think we have a far greater chance of success at getting those solutions in place with Donald Trump than -- clearly than Hillary Clinton.

DICKERSON: Recently, Donald Trump offered some maternity leave proposals that Republicans like you, and you in specific, used to call an unfunded mandate. Why is the Republican nominee proposing a non- conservative unfunded mandate?

RYAN: Look, because I think he’s trying to get at an issue that we all want to get at, which is, there are women in the work force that have additional challenges.

We have problems that need to be addressed. And so what I’m excited about is, he’s dumping -- jumping into the policy realm, offering ideas and solutions. That’s the kind of debate we want to have. We want to not only just acknowledge that we have problems in this country that need fixing, but we want to get on to debating the solutions themselves. I welcome the fact that he’s offering concrete policy solutions to fix problems that we need to address in this country. And that’s a great step in the right direction.

DICKERSON: Even if they’re ones with which you disagree?

RYAN: Sure. No problem.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about debt.

You have worked with the Center for Responsible Budget. They have scored the Trump plan as created $5.3 trillion in increased debt.

RYAN: Yes, I don’t know if I would agree with that particular score.

We are offering a tax reform plan that the Tax Foundation and others have looked at which is very responsible, which we think, according to the Tax Foundation...

DICKERSON: But is Donald Trump’s responsible?

RYAN: Well, I haven’t looked at the details. His latest plan, his latest -- are you talking about his tax plan? His latest tax plan was much closer to the one we’re offering.

DICKERSON: But it still has a huge deficit number. He doesn’t want to touch entitlements.

RYAN: So, obviously, we’re offering, again, comprehensive health care and entitlement reform.

We think we will have an nominee -- we think Donald Trump will be more than willing to work with us on this. But, more importantly, on the tax plan, you have to get tax rates down to create more economic growth. Our plan does that. His plan is similar to ours.

So, I think we’re all going in the right direction.

DICKERSON: But do voters know that? Presidential campaigns tend to control the conversation.

RYAN: Yes, they sort of suck the oxygen, don’t they?

DICKERSON: They suck the oxygen,

RYAN: I have noticed that. Yes, I know.


RYAN: I have been involved in those.

DICKERSON: Donald Trump is -- he is driving the bus here. And he’s driving the bus with a plan that has a much different deficit than you would ever allow. He’s not going to touch entitlements. He’s offering plans for maternity leave that Rush Limbaugh says are not conservative. These are his plans. I guess the question is, what is a voter to think about?

RYAN: Yes.

DICKERSON: Isn’t the bus going to go in his direction?

RYAN: Congress writes these laws. Congress is the one that writes the laws that puts them on the president’s desk.

And our Congress is offering very specific solutions. And I know, from talking to Donald Trump repeatedly about these things, that we have someone that is going to work with us on putting these reforms in place.

So, I have every bit of confidence that we have a president we can work with to get these things done. I know for a fact Hillary Clinton’s not for any of these things. So, to me, it’s a pretty clear choice.

DICKERSON: But I know choices are important in elections.

RYAN: Aren’t they?

DICKERSON: But isn’t it incumbent upon -- isn’t there a standard that a candidate should live up to in terms of whether things add up, whether they’re operating within the rules and truth of the way things are?

RYAN: Truth? Hillary Clinton’s the Democrat nominee.

DICKERSON: Wait. I’m asking about -- but you know there is a standard that a candidate has to live up to, right? You’re trying to build a mandate.

RYAN: Sure.

So, I think Donald Trump is new. He’s a business guy running for president. So, you’re not going to see a conventional campaign because he is not a conventional politician. He’s not even a politician.

DICKERSON: Although...


RYAN: And, in many ways, that’s refreshing to people in this country. I think that’s why he’s been so successful. I think it’s why he won the primary in the first place.

So, what do we say and do about this, those of us here in Congress in this majority? We say, this is what we’re going to do. These -- this is the direction we’re heading.

DICKERSON: So, the public should pay attention to your pamphlet and not the Republican nominee?

RYAN: No, they should pay attention to both of us, because, in conjunction with our nominee, we’re offering a unified front of solutions. That’s what we should do.


DICKERSON: We will be back in one minute with more of our interview with Speaker Ryan, including his advice for Donald Trump on debating Hillary Clinton.


DICKERSON: Four years ago, it was Paul Ryan on the debate stage opposite Vice President Joe Biden. We asked him if he had any debate advice for Donald Trump.


RYAN: Yes, overprepare. Overprepare.

Look, Hillary Clinton has been doing this most of her life. She is the consummate pro. This is new for Donald, so I think he should overprepare for it.

And the thing I believe -- and, obviously, I prepared for these myself -- you have to offer the country a vision, go on offense, prosecute your case, hold your opponent accountable, then show the country the direction you want to go, and prepare, prepare, prepare. And I hope he’s doing that.

DICKERSON: I want to ask you about something Donald Trump said. He said: “Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they have ever been in before, ever, ever, ever. You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They’re worse. Honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities.”

Do you see it that way?

RYAN: I don’t see it that way. That’s not how I would describe it, but I’m glad he’s actually going into these communities and trying.

And I think it’s important to show up and listen.

DICKERSON: You’re focusing on listening, but when someone says that you’re going to get shot, you get no education, you get no jobs, is that listening, or is that telling?

RYAN: Well, I think he’s -- I think he’s campaigning.

And I think there is a difference here. But, like I said, I am pleased that he’s making the effort. Not every person running for president does that. This is something that Republicans need to do more of. More of us need to go in communities where we don’t expect to get a single vote, but we hope to get a perspective so that we can come up with solutions.

DICKERSON: When you look at the election, what do you think?

RYAN: I have no idea which way this election is going to go.

It’s really that kind of an election, where it’s not really clear the direction we’re going. And so I have -- I’m very hopeful that this can go the right way, and we can get these solutions under way.

The reason I took this job as speaker, a job I never was looking for, is to do big things, is to fix these problems, and to do it soon, because I really worry, if we don’t tackle these problems in our country soon, they are going to tackle us.

DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Speaker, thanks so much.

RYAN: Thank you, John.


DICKERSON: And we will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: We have got a lot more coming up.

Next, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us from Vermont. We will get his thoughts on tomorrow night’s debate.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.

And be sure to tune in at 9:00 p.m. on CBS News tomorrow night for our coverage of the first presidential debate. I will be at Hofstra University, along with Scott Pelley, Nancy Cordes, Major Garrett, and Bob Schieffer.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to the FACE THE NATION. We’re here with former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, I want to start with millennial voters. They represent now about 30 percent of the voting-age population. That’s about the size of baby boomers. That was a group you were very strong with. Hillary Clinton is having trouble with that group of voters. Why is that do you think?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I’m not sure, but I think the antidote is that she has got to make it clear to not only the millennials but every American the difference that she has, not just on personality issues, which is what the media focuses on, but the real issues impacting the middle class and working families of this country.

When you talk about the economy, Donald Trump wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country. Clinton understands that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the people on top are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes.

John, young people are very concerned, appropriately so, about the crisis regarding climate change. Clinton has a pretty strong program which says we have got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energies, like wind and solar. You know what Donald Trump’s position is on climate change? He thinks it’s a hoax. And that is really frightening for the future of this planet.

One more really important issue that I think has got to be talked about a whole lot, Clinton has said that she will appoint Supreme Court justices, nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision which allows people like Sheldon Adelson last week to put $45 million into the political process to buy elections. Billionaires should not be buying elections. Clinton wants to stop that. Trump will appoint more conservatives to the Supreme Court.

In terms of the issue of bigotry, and the younger people are more than any generation I think, John, in American history, are sick and tired of discrimination and racism. On that issue, I think the points of view of Clinton and Trump are pretty clear. Trump is running his campaign, the cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is dividing us up. That is certainly very different from what Clinton believes.

So I think if she focuses on the issues, she will do just -- really well with the American people and certainly with younger people.

DICKERSON: One of the things that voters who supported you are wary about and on the lookout for, you mentioned climate change, and there is some reporting done by climate change news, they looked at what Hillary Clinton and how she has talked about energy issues and climate issues. And since her challenge -- her back and forth with you and the Democratic nominating process, it seems that the phrase “climate change,” according to this report, has dropped out of her speeches. Why do you suppose that is?

SANDERS: Well, I honestly don’t know the answer to that. What I can tell you is that recent reports have indicated that the situation -- the scientists are telling us that the situation is even more dire than we had previously thought. In terms of Donald Trump, and I hope everybody understands this, despite what the entire scientific community is telling us about what a threat it is to this planet, climate change is, Donald Trump thinks it’s a hoax. Clinton does have a serious proposal to invest in sustainable energy and in energy efficiency. I hope that Secretary Clinton will talk more about this issue, contrast her views with Trump’s, because it is an enormously important issue.

DICKERSON: When I talk to some of these voters who are undecided, what I hear from them is they say they don’t like Donald Trump, but they are -- don’t think Hillary Clinton is going to be trustworthy, and so they say they’re going to vote for either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. And there’s a poll that shows 44 percent of millennials, here I’m talking about them again, are voting for a third-party candidate. As an independent, why -- why shouldn’t they go vote for somebody who’s close to what they believe if they don’t like the two major party candidates?

SANDERS: Well, I will tell you why. And, look, you know, I am the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress. When I was younger, I ran on a third party here in the state of Vermont. I got all of 1 percent in one election. So I’m not here to disparage third- party candidates who historically have played a very, very important role in this country in raising issues and moving this country in certain directions.

But I think right now, given the crises that we face, a disappearing middle class, massive levels of income and wealth inequality, the issue of the increase in bigotry that we are seeing, climate change, the fact that so many young people are leaving school deeply in debt. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of bright young kids who can’t even afford to go to college. I think what the focus has got to be on now is understanding, that this moment in history, for a presidential election, is not the time for a protest vote. It is a time to look at which candidate is going to work best for the middle class and working families.

In terms of higher education, I worked with Secretary Clinton. She now has the proposal that says that for every family in this country of $125,000 or less, 83 percent of our population, public colleges and universities will be tuition free for those kids. That’s a big deal.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you one last question, senator. “The Wall Street Journal” recently reported that Senate liberals like Elizabeth Warren were working on a list of names of people from places like Morgan Stanley or Black Rock, that they would actively oppose if they were put into a Clinton administration. Will you join in that effort?

SANDERS: Absolutely. We certainly have seen, under Democratic and Republican administrations, what Wall Street CEOs have done to our economy. We don’t need more Wall Street CEOs in any administration. We need people in the administration that will stand with working families and the middle class. And I will do everything that I can to see that those are the people appointed in a Clinton administration.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks so much for being with us again.

SANDERS: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: And now we turn to CBS News director of elections, Anthony Salvanto. Welcome back, Anthony.

The polls are tightening. Why are they tightening?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, the big picture is that that big, big lead that we saw Hillary Clinton open up over the summer has now shrunk back to what is at best a narrow lead. And, you know, some of these states that I think the -- a Clinton, we’ve seen those big leads have come back, like Colorado. It’s really instructive. The biggest reason across all of it is enthusiasm from her voters. That’s a little bit on the wane.

And what ends up happening is, you see key groups, like you mentioned, those younger voters, they’re not as excited, they’re not as enthusiastic for her. They’re moving a little bit even into that undecided or won’t vote category or to third parties. She’s got to get that excitement back up because, remember, the polls don’t just tell you about vote choice. They tell you about who’s likely to show up. And if they say they’re not as likely to show up, numbers go down.

DICKERSON: So, let’s pause on that for just a moment so -- because we’re going to be beneath a blizzard of polls between now and the end. How should people think about these kinds of movements? I mean so -- so people are moving away from Hillary Clinton. What happens to them? Do they -- are those people available for Donald Trump, or how should people think about the movements in the polls? It’s not just a person saying, I want Trump or Clinton, that’s it?

SALVANTO: Exactly. You know where -- what everybody’s going to talk about, swing voters, swing voters from here to Election Day. Don’t assume every moment, every movement in a poll is about a swing voter. What ends up happening is people will either become less enthusiastic about voting and then polls will sort of discount whether they’re likely to show up, and then people sometimes park themselves in unsure for a while, especially if they’re partisan, but then they come back, most of them to, their partisan choice. So you see that movement. It’s not -- and especially this year, we see very, very few people actually going, umm, for Clinton this week, Trump this week, back to Clinton. We’re just not seeing a lot of that.

DICKERSON: Yes, there’s a whole garage full of people parking in unsure.

Let’s go now to the question of national versus state. So we get some national polls that say one thing, and then -- then state polls that say another. How should people look through those?

SALVANTO: Right. The poll watchers’ guide to this is, first watch the states. Obviously that’s what matters. This is a state-by-state election. You have to win in the Electoral College.

What you also get out of states is much more detail about that voter turnout, because you can see particular groups, whether it’s young voters or whether it’s older voters, and you know those numbers in those states. National polls, think of them like that -- that weather vane on top of the barn. You can see which way the wind is blowing, but what you really need is a much more detailed forecast, and that you get out of states.

DICKERSON: So -- and it’s more important for the purposes of a campaign that we know how African-Americans in say Pennsylvania are going to behave than the general national picture about African- Americans, right?

SALVANTO: Well, exactly. And, you know, sometimes when you see movement in the national polls, the trouble is, you don’t know where it’s coming from. So it might be coming from a key state like Pennsylvania, but it could just as well be coming from a California or a Texas, where we know what’s going to happen anyway.

DICKERSON: In advance of the debates, the Clinton team is pushing the idea that Donald Trump is too risky to be president. You had some interesting finding there about this idea of risk and Donald Trump. Explain that.

SALVANTO: Right. Well, both candidates, to some extent, are described as risky among a number of other descriptions that voters use. Trump, in particular, but you notice even his voters say that he is risky. Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for them. And the reason is, they want change. They want change -- political change and cultural change and economic change, so they’re willing to tolerate some risk in order to get the change that they want.

DICKERSON: What do the -- what does -- what does the battleground tracker say about what people are looking for in this debate that happens tomorrow night?

SALVANTO: Well, remember, partisans are looking, they say, just to see their candidate win. So there’s already that large group that’s -- that’s locked in. They’re going to think what they’re going to think no matter what.

The other thing, remember, the economy. That’s the number one thing that voters say they’re looking for. And you get this sense that, you know, especially given two candidates with -- with high unfavorables, you know, the winner of this debate isn’t going to be the one with the best zinger. It’s going to be the one that looks in that camera and can start to assuage some of that voter anxiety about the economy, maybe even about the candidates themselves.

DICKERSON: About 20 seconds left. How much do debate matter in the very -- the end?

SALVANTO: Some, not a lot. What we often see out of a debate is some movement, like we described, maybe some lack of enthusiasm, maybe a boost of enthusiasm, but then things seem to -- to switch back a little bit. It’s not as dramatic as, as you think.

DICKERSON: All right, Anthony, we’ll look forward to having you back.

And we’ll be right back with a man who knows a little something about presidential debates. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: And we’re delighted to be back with Bob Schieffer, who moderated presidential debates in the last three election.

Bob, it’s great to be here with you.


DICKERSON: I’m so happy you’re here.

OK, so you’ve done this before. And it would be about 24 hours before the debate. What would you be thinking if you were in this spot?

SCHIEFFER: I think I’d be under the bed hoping they couldn’t find me. You know, I tell you, John, people don’t believe me sometimes when I say I don’t get nervous on TV, but, you know, I’ve done it so long, it was -- it’s second nature. But in 2004, when I did my first presidential debate, I was getting ready to go out on the stage and I looked down and I was shaking like a leaf. I mean I -- I hadn’t had stage fright I bet in 20 years.

But this is unlike anything any of us involved in journalism have ever done. And when you think of all those people out there, I mean, you’re talking about a Super Bowl sized crowd. And this make -- this one makes that a record.

DICKERSON: Right. And as a moderator, I mean, they -- working the reps (ph) has become a full-time occupation of both campaigns and of social media and -- I mean, it’s a -- it’s a wonder, of course you’d be under the bed. Everybody’s coming to get you.

SCHIEFFER: You know, my -- my -- my advice to the moderators is think of it this way, no matter how mean they are, no matter what they’re seeing about you on social media, everybody quarterback that loses today in the NFL, they’re going to say worse things about him. So welcome to the NFL. This is just kind of how it is.

DICKERSON: So how is it now -- there’s been a big question about fact checking and what the moderator’s role should be in that. How do you see that question?

SCHIEFFER: Well, and I’ve said and I’ve thought about this over the years, after doing these things, the first fact checkers have to be the candidates themselves. If one candidate makes a mistake, you want to give the other person a chance to call him out on that. If he or she doesn’t, then the moderator steps in and sets the record straight. But if you don’t give the candidates themselves that opportunity, you’re being unfair to both of them.

DICKERSON: You have a theory that I love about letting the candidates talk.


DICKERSON: I mean getting out of the way.

SCHIEFFER: Well, these -- these -- these debates are about more than just the issues, as it were. Yes, issues are important. Yes, party is important. But what these debates are about are who are these people?. Do they have the right stuff? Do they have the grace under pressure? This is a pretty tough job, no matter what anybody says. It’s a pretty tough job. And I think the role of the moderator is to give people a more complete picture, if you can, of who these two people actually are.

DICKERSON: What do you make of the strategies? There’s a lot of talk about what each of these two are going to do. I’ve certainly asked the candidates’ surrogates about it a lot. What do you make of the -- this talking about what they’re going to do before they do it?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I think they’re talking too much. I mean let’s think about this. I mean Hillary Clinton’s campaign is talking about, you know, she’s going to try to come up with these one-liners. She’s going to try to throw him off. Well, if that is a strategy, fine. I think it’s a good strategy. Why would you tell somebody about it? It’s like saying, I’m going to tell a joke, here’s the punch line, now here’s the joke. You’re not going to get much of a laugh if -- if that’s your strategy in telling jokes. I think they should be quiet about that and I think too many times it’s these -- these advisers that are trying to show people in the media how smart they are. They ought to let the candidate be the one people are focusing on.

And I -- I want to say one other thing, John. This idea of putting hecklers in the audience, I mean, Hillary Clinton’s talking about putting Mark Cuban in the audience. He’s a guy who’s been very critical of Trump, to try to throw him off. And then, of course, comes back and said, well, I’m going to invite Gennifer Flowers, who’s Bill Clinton’s old girlfriend. I’m really pleased to know that the Clinton -- that the Trump campaign this morning said Gennifer Flowers will not be there. Those kinds of things are beneath the dignity of the office that these two people are running for. I think they both would do well to think about that.

DICKERSON: Bob, I’m going to let -- end it there. Any other question wouldn’t be any good after that. Thanks so much, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you for having me, John.

DICKERSON: Thanks for being on.

SCHIEFFER: Really enjoyed it.

DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with our panel.


DICKERSON: Joining us now are Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of “USA Today,” and Ed O’Keefe of “The Washington Post.”

Welcome to both of you.

Let’s, before we dive into the debates, Susan Page, let’s just set the table for everybody. Where is this campaign right now as you see it?

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: So when you look at all these polls, you don’t want to be transfixed by the particular numbers. You want to look at the trend. And it is pretty clear that the trend has been to a tighter race, a tighter race both nationally, in some -- in some of these swing states. And it’s in part because Trump has succeed to a remarkable degree in consolidating the support of Republicans, as we saw with one of his fiercest rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz this week, while Hillary Clinton is struggling a bit to get the enthusiasm of the voters who elected Barack Obama twice, are not quite as enthusiastic about her.

DICKERSON: You see it that way too, Ed?

ED O’KEEFE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes. I mean, you know, just the consolidation that Trump has seen, I think, is -- is remarkable and a testament to the fact that he has been so much more disciplined in the last few weeks. I think the threats that were made by Republican leaders, like Speaker Ryan, to, you know, we will abandon you if you don’t start shipping up and shaping up, you know, were heard. And he has certainly not done or said anything terribly new that’s controversial. A lot of what we’ve heard has been heard before, and Republicans seem to be OK with that.

I thought the -- the seven-point explanation from Senator Cruz as to why he wants to support him speaks to what a lot of Republicans feel at this point, that while they may not like him, they’re more concerned about making sure that conservatives serve on the Supreme Court, that the future of Obamacare is determined by Republicans and not by Democrats, and that somebody new step in to deal with all the problems around the world. And, you know, for a lot of Republicans at this point, he’s tolerable enough and they’re willing to back him.

DICKERSON: Susan, there was also maybe a little politics in Ted Cruz’s decision to finally get on board with the Republican nominee. Reince Priebus, on this show last week, threw a little brushback pitch to Republicans saying, you know, if you don’t supported the nominee now, now whether that moved Ted Cruz, he’s thinking about his future, too.

PAGE: I’m not sure Reince Priebus did, but, you know, I think Mike McCall might have, the Texas congressman and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, who’s been talking about how terrible it is that Ted Cruz hadn’t endorsed Donald Trump and who, by the way, just might be interested in changing him in a Republican primary in 2018. That might have had something to do about it.

You know, one thing interesting, Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump, but he was at an event sponsored by “The Texas Tribune” yesterday, refused to answer whether Donald Trump was fit to be president.

DICKERSON: That’s right.

And speaking of fitness to be president, that’s his big hurdle in the debate, isn’t it, Ed?

O’KEEFE: It is. If you look at the -- the numbers, you know, there’s less of an expectation that he will emerge victorious and perform well than there is for Hillary Clinton, which brings great concern to the Brooklyn headquarters of the Clinton campaign because they’re trying to keep the goalposts the same distance apart, and the expectations about equal. There’s big concern that if she is seen as supposing to have -- to perform much better and she doesn’t, that then he’s going to be seen as having won this thing. And that’s why you saw Senator Kaine and you’ve seen so many of her other surrogates and top aides in the last few days saying, you know, remember, this guy is a liar. He has lied repeatedly. And if you, in the press, don’t call him out for it, it’s an unfair advantage to him and it’s going to hurt her chances. And I think that’s pretty remarkable that they’re really quite aggressively trying to go after that and remind people ahead of this that he has been known to tell tall tales and they expect him to do it again tomorrow night.

DICKERSON: Or if he doesn’t do it on -- on debate night, to remind people that he has this other part of his character and not let them think the man on the stage is the only person.

O’KEEFE: Exactly.

DICKERSON: That’s seems to be part of their strategy.

Susan, what do you think of what Hillary Clinton has to do, expectations in the -- if you look at the history of debates, are so much a part of while a line wins or a person is declared the winner. It almost has nothing to do with what actually happens on stage but everything is part of the narrative beforehand.

PAGE: Expectation is part of it. You know, there’s a lot of talk that Hillary Clinton needs to show that she’s likable. I’m not sure that’s her biggest challenge. I think her biggest challenge is to show that she is an agent of change in an election where people really want some change. I don’t think people are -- that Donald Trump is doing better and is now competitive in this presidential race because people like him so much. I think that it’s because they believe that -- in the things that they worry about in this country that he’s -- that he’s likely to shake things up. And if you’re that concerned, if you’re concerned that things are really heading in the wrong direction, that might be just enough to get you to support him. So I think her challenge is to show that while she’s -- she’s very supportive of Barack Obama, you know, and he’s a big supporter of her, that she recognizes there are problems in this country that need maybe fresh approaches and a lot of energy in addressing.

DICKERSON: Ed, it does seem that both the Clinton campaign and certainly some of the people who are advisers or who would like to be listened to are saying what Susan’s saying, which is people need a reason to vote for you, not so much to be terrified about Donald Trump, which is difficult because, of course, if on the one hand you’re trying to remind voters about another Donald Trump, difference from the one who might appear on the debate stage, at the same time you’re trying to show that you got solutions too, that’s a -- that’s a tricky thing to pull off in 90-second answers under the hot lights and millions watching.

O’KEEFE: It is a -- it is also when you expect that he will probably try to throw back at her repeatedly concerns about her use of e-mail, this is a debate that’s supposed to be somewhat about security and foreign policy. She was involved in that for four years. And one of his most valid lines of attack has been, you know, you were involved in crafting the Obama administration’s foreign policy. How do you respond to what’s going on? Undoubtedly that comes up and she’ll have to address that as well. So it -- it should prove difficult.

I just wonder throughout all these conversations about how big an audience really will we see? The number to beat in this country at least is about 115 million in change for Super Bowl 49. Will we see more than that? Tune in tomorrow night. I’m dubious, frankly, that given how displeased Americans are by all this, that they’re all going to sit there and -- and really want to put up with it for 90 minutes. But if they do, you know, incredible that -- that they are -- that they’re willing and eager to see it.

And -- and what I find most interesting, we have a poll out this morning, only about 17 percent of registered voters say that this thing could change their mind. And of that, 6 percent say it actually could play a very big role in changing their mind. So in reality, even if 100 million people show up, you’re only looking at, you know, a few thousand people who could be persuaded by -- by this spectacle.

DICKERSON: We found that basically people deepen their -- their strengths for one candidate, whichever one they supported coming into that.

Susan, let’s talk a little bit about the way actually debates happen, though, here in our last minute or so. You know, there’s a lot of social media chatter that happens beforehand. And in an analysis of the last campaign, there were some reporters on Twitter who basically determined the debate in the first 15 minutes. The candidates are kind of preparing for that.

PAGE: Yes. You know the other thing is, those of us who have print deadlines, I know we’re a vanishing breed, have deadlines, right? So we’re really forced to pay attention to those opening minutes, the first exchange or two in writing our -- in writing our own stories. That -- that opening matters a lot and it matters in holding people in the debate as well.

The -- you know, this is going to be analyzed and overanalyzed and there’s going to be some 90-second exchange that will be -- become viral and be played over and over again. And I think what we also need to look at is not just the 90 second exchange, it’s the 90-minutes of the debate because the degree to which debates actually test presidential qualities, you need to look at the kind of stamina and thoughtfulness, the ability to deal with a lot of issues that you get over 90 minutes, which is a really long period of time.

DICKERSON: All right, we’re going to have to end it there. Thanks so much, Susan. Ed, thank you.

And we’ll be right back.


DICKERSON: As we say good-bye today, we want to wish a fond farewell and Godspeed to our friends Charles Osgood, and say hello to Jane Pauley, the new anchor of “CBS Sunday Morning.” As for us, you won’t -- we won’t be here next week, but the NFL will be. We’ll see you in two weeks from Washington University in St. Louis. That’s on the morning of the second presidential debate for FACE THE NATION.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.