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Face the Nation Transcripts July 31, 2016: Sanders, Manafort, Priebus

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The balloons have dropped, the conventions are over, and campaign 2016 is about to take off.

There are just 99 days until Election Day. And for the moment, this election looks like a normal one, with Rust Belt campaign bus tours and baby-kissing photo-ops. But a contest that has already been sour is going to get even more sour.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Just remember this. Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy.



DICKERSON: As both candidates hope to get to the White House by disqualifying the other.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Because I have to tell you, this is not a normal election. Donald Trump is not a normal presidential candidate.



DICKERSON: We will separate the noise from what is news and have new Battleground Tracker polling from those 11 key states.

We will talk to Bernie Sanders about how he plans to get his supporters on board with Clinton-Kaine. Plus, we will hear from the head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

And we will get update on the news that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are here in Florida.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

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

Our CBS News Battleground Tracker shows a two-point bounce for Hillary Clinton in those 11 key swing states following the Democratic Convention. Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump 43 percent to 41 percent. That's the same bounce that Trump got after the Republican Convention.

We begin this morning with Senator Bernie Sanders, who joins us from Burlington, Vermont.

Senator, not all of your supporters are behind Hillary Clinton, and she's going to need them. What would you tell your supporters that they should do now?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I would tell all of my supporters -- and we have got over 13 million votes -- to take a hard look at the real issues impacting the American people.

Which candidate, for example, wants to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which allows billionaires to buy elections and is undermining American democracy? That is Hillary Clinton's position.

Which candidate wants to raise the minimum wage to a living wage? That's Hillary Clinton's position. Which candidate understands that climate change is real and that we have to transform our energy system in order to help save this planet? Donald Trump thinks that climate is a hoax. Hillary Clinton understands that it is real, we have to act boldly.

Which candidate wants to give huge tax breaks to billionaires amidst massive levels of income and wealth inequality? That's Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton believes that we should raise taxes on the wealthy and do away with loopholes for corporations.

Which candidate is trying to bring us together, which is Hillary Clinton, and which candidate is trying to divide us up, running a campaign based on bigotry? That is Donald Trump.

So, I would ask, John, of my supporters to get away from the personality conflicts that media tries to bring forward, and focus on the real issues impacting the American people. And when you do that, I think the choice is pretty clear, and that is that Hillary Clinton is far and away the superior candidate.

DICKERSON: I hate to stick up for the media, but this isn't just a media creation. They were making a lot of noise during Hillary Clinton's speech. There are a lot of people who hear what you have said -- and you're obviously going through the issues because these are people who got interested in your campaign because of the issues -- and they're not buying it.

So, I wonder -- Sarah Silverman said, "The Bernie-or-bust people, you're being ridiculous."

So... SANDERS: Well, John, I don't -- I don't agree with you when you are saying they are not buying it.

I -- we have over 13 million people who supported my candidacy. And I have no doubt that there are some of those people who will not vote for Hillary Clinton. But I would say that the vast majority of them, and I think as the campaign progresses, and people take a hard look at the issues, who is better for the middle class, who is better for women, who is better for the environment, who is better for the LGBT community, I think more and more of those people will come on board Secretary Clinton's campaign.

DICKERSON: During the convention, when Hillary Clinton mentioned you, you looked like -- you had a bit of stoic look on your face. What was going through your mind?

SANDERS: I always have that look on my face.


SANDERS: It's nothing new that I am not always a smiley kind of guy.

But I believed that the convention was a very good convention. I thought that Secretary Clinton Clinton's speech made some very, very important points. But the most important point to me, John, is that I happen to agree with Secretary Clinton that Donald Trump is not a -- it's not that it's not a typical campaign.

The whole nature of his campaign is not on issues, as much as it is on bigotry, on trying to divide us up, on making Americans think that we have got to hate Mexicans or hate Muslims, or the constant insults against women, his birther -- his so-called birther efforts against President Obama.

That is not what our country needs. So, in these stressful times, we have got to bring our people together, not divide us up, which is what Trump is trying to do.

DICKERSON: And what are you personally going to do to help Hillary Clinton get elected?

SANDERS: I'm going to do a couple of things.

Number one, I intend to campaign vigorously to make the case that, on issue after issue, Clinton is far and away the superior candidate, number two, to stay focused on the real issues impacting the American people. I want to see health care expanded, so that every American gets health care as a right, which exists in every other industrialized country.

Secretary Clinton and I worked on an agreement to make sure that public colleges and universities will be tuition-free for families earning $125,000 a year or less. That is 83 percent of the public.

So, John, I'm going to go around the country, do my best to make the case that at a time when our country faces many, many serious problems, by far, Hillary Clinton is the superior candidate.

DICKERSON: Do you see your role as possibly blowing the whistle as Hillary Clinton moves off of some of those promises or, if she were to become president, if she doesn't keep her eye on the ball, as you see it, that your job will be to say, hey, wait a minute, you're not keeping your promises?

SANDERS: Well, John, that's a good point.

We worked with the Clinton people to forge what is far and away the most progressive Democratic platform in the history of any party in this country. And to answer your question, yes, I will return to the United States Senate, hopefully with a Democratic Senate. I'm going to do my best to see that we have a Democratic Senate.

Hopefully, we will have Secretary Clinton as president. And in that capacity, I surely will do everything that I can to make sure that a Clinton administration and a Democratic Senate and the House, to the degree that I can, stands up for working families, is prepared to take on the billionaire class, is prepared to try to create a vibrant democracy not allowing billionaires to buy elections.

I will do all of those things.

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

SANDERS: Thank you.

DICKERSON: Joining us now is Donald Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who is in South Hampton, New York, this morning.

Mr. Manafort, I want to start with Khizr Khan, who spoke at the Clinton convention and talked about sacrifice, that Donald Trump had not sacrificed anything.

What is the final response from the Trump campaign to that?

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Look, this is not -- Mr. Khan -- Mr. Trump and all of us give him our sympathy and empathy for the loss of his son.

I mean, that was a real tragedy. The issue is not Mr. Khan and Donald Trump. The issue really is radical jihad -- radical Islamic jihad and the risk to the American homeland. That's the issue. All the lives lost in the war over there are a tragedy and we all are sorry for it.

But what Mr. Trump has talked about, and what really should be the discussion here today, is, how do we protect our homeland from refugees coming in from areas that are unsafe? And Mr. Trump has made it very clear for months now that he believes there needs to be a temporary suspension from those areas until we can have system that can process it.

That is the issue. And the second part of that issue is to remember that all of these lives who were lost needlessly were lost because of a war that didn't have to be. The Iraq situation, when President Obama and Secretary Clinton took office in January of 2009, was a totally different world than it is today.

But because of their failed leadership and mistakes they made, including Secretary Clinton as secretary of state, the ISIS arose, the Middle East destabilized, the war in Syria developed. All of this is what we should be talking about.

Mr. Khan went through an enormous loss. And we all are sorry for that,. He isn't the issue. The issue is -- that the American people are focusing on, and really media needs to be focused on, is to focus on America's homeland security and how to prosecute the war against ISIS.

DICKERSON: I hear what you're saying now, but when Mr. Trump was asked about this, the second thing he brought up was that Mr. Khan's wife didn't say anything. Why did he think that was important to bring up right away? MANAFORT: Well, again, these are Clinton talking points.


DICKERSON: But, Paul, he brought that up right away. That was Mr. Trump's answer.

MANAFORT: But the focus was not on where it needed to be on the part of the questioner.

What needed to be -- what needs to be focused on is, why are we at risk? What is the war all about? I could get into all of the issues of Mr. Khan, as Mr. Trump can, but that's -- he is not the issue.

We all feel sorry for what he went through. We have to stop the risk of radical jihad. That's what the focus is. And, frankly, in her acceptance speech at the convention, Mrs. Clinton, her policy to do that was simply regurgitating the exact policy of the Obama administration, and there's nothing different there. Nothing new is going to happen.

Mr. Trump has said, we're going to do it differently. And that's what we should be talking about, not Mr. Khan and his tragedy. I mean, just like, for example, if you want to get into that narrative, why aren't we talking about the victims who spoke at the Republican Convention who lost their loved ones to illegal immigrant criminals that shouldn't have been here? We're not talking about that.

DICKERSON: Yes, it's a good point.

Patricia Smith, who lost a son in Benghazi, did speak at the Republican Convention. I think the distinction, people would say, is, Hillary Clinton then didn't talk about Patricia smith or in the way that Mr. Trump talked about Mrs. Khan. I think that would be the distinction. MANAFORT: Well, Mr. Trump was asked about Mr. Khan. He didn't raise Mr. Khan. The point Mr. Trump continues to focus on is, we need to focus on protection and our homeland security. That is the issue, not the tragedy of the Khan family.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about that important question.

The reason this came up is the question of the ban on temporary Muslim immigration. Mr. Trump now talks about a territorial system, stopping people coming in from places or territories where there is terrorism. He also talks about extreme vetting.

But is it still the case that, in that extreme vetting, the first criteria would be whether someone is a Muslim, or has that changed?

MANAFORT: Well, first of all, we have been talking about the geographic suspension for months now. This is nothing new.

He announced it in his foreign policy speech at the National Press Club three months ago. And he's been consistently talking about it since. What the focus is, is the region and anybody who wants to come in. That is the issue. Who they are, what their religion is isn't the subject. The key is, we need to have a system that allows us to understand who is coming in from these terrorist activity areas.

In Syria, we have no idea. And the Obama administration has not seemed to be bothered by that. Secretary Clinton doesn't seem to be bothered by that. Mr. Trump is.

DICKERSON: Let me ask about the presidential debates.

Will Donald Trump participate in the presidential debates?

MANAFORT: He said he wants to participate in it.

But just like we discovered in the hack of the DNC, Mrs. Clinton likes low audiences watching her debates. That's what she conspired for to keep Bernie Sanders from getting a large audience. Mr. Trump said: I want to debate. I will do three debates. But I want it to be the maximum audience.

So, we're going to sit down with the commission in the next week or so and we're going to start talking to them. And we want to make sure that we have a broad audience, understanding -- that is watching the debates, so that they can get an understanding of the difference between Mrs. Clinton trying to define herself as a change agent and Mr. Trump, who will be defining his programs that really will end the gridlock.

DICKERSON: Do you question the independence of the commission that set up the dates for the debate, though? They haven't contacted the parties or campaign.

MANAFORT: No, not at all.

We're just simply saying that our position is going to be, we want the maximum audience participation. That's all.

DICKERSON: Let's switch to Russia briefly here.

Does Donald Trump think that Russia is a threat to America's national security interests?

MANAFORT: Well, I think Mr. Trump has said on the campaign trail the biggest threat is failed leadership on the part of Obama and Clinton.

As far as Russia or China or Syria or ISIS, they are all threats. And he has said that he will have robust policy that will put American interests first, make America safe, and he believes that strong leadership with clarity of vision will keep a lot of the uncertainty in the world in a better place.

I mean, ironically, the point he was trying to make last week, which was ignored or taken off of the Clinton narrative, was that, here we are in the United States with 33,000 missing e-mails that the FBI can't have access to, and most likely because of the insecure -- unsecure nature of the server in Clinton's home, foreign countries probably have access to those 33,000 e-mails.

Who knows what secrets are in there? It's an example of the clumsiness and the lack of putting personal interest by Secretary Clinton ahead of America's national security interests.

DICKERSON: But House Speaker Paul Ryan's spokesman said Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug.

Is that something Donald Trump would disagree with, do you think?

MANAFORT: I think Mr. Trump has made it very clear. He views Russia to be somebody that we need to be firm with.

And he has defined that he would put American interests first in dealing with Russia, and as well as any other country. To get into what his specific words are, he said them. He views Russia as a foreign power that has its own interests at stake, and we, the United States, have to put America's interests first.

DICKERSON: All right, Paul Manafort, thanks so much for being with us.

MANAFORT: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: We turn now to the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. He's in Racine, Wisconsin, this morning.

Mr. Chairman, Paul Manafort says that Donald Trump wants to participate in the debates, but it doesn't sound like a full-blown commitment. Is there anything unfair about the way the debates are set up now at this moment?

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, we're going to be working with the commission, John, in what they're putting together.

Certainly, we're not going to agree with anything that our nominee doesn't agree with. And it would be incumbent upon them to communicate with us and others about what they have in mind. But we're not going to be having debates on Saturday and Sunday nights, I don't believe.

It's up to the nominee of both parties to make that that decision, but certainly the RNC is going to be involved in supporting our nominee and his position on this. My personal view is, is that we need maximize the audience and that's going to be either a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Thursday night. And that's where we stand on the issue.

DICKERSON: These debates, the dates have been set for a long time. The independent commission that set them set them a long time ago.

Why did we -- are we just now hearing about this from the RNC?

PRIEBUS: Well, they don't -- they didn't communicate to us. So, no one from the commission has called me.

I know that Annenberg did a study and pointed out lot of flaws with this commission. And it's been a hot topic, I think, in our party for a long time. And whether or not the RNC and the DNC should take over these debates is a topic that has been discussed in the past.

I'm fine with working with the commission, as long as they're willing to work with us. But I have not talked to them at all.

DICKERSON: So, Mr. Chairman, are you saying you didn't know that the debates were set for these debates? The announcement on the debates was quite some time ago on the date.

PRIEBUS: They can set whatever dates they want, but it's going to -- I don't really care when they set their debates.

When they communicate with the nominees and they have contract put together, and we choose the moderators and we choose the networks that are going to be in charge of these debates, that to me is the time when all of this gets set. If they have target dates, that's fine.

But they haven't communicated any of those things with the people that actually have to work with the nominees and the networks and everyone else to put actually these things together.


And so there's one on a Sunday and on a Monday night. You think that there's a problem with that, because it just -- the audience will be too small because of the competition with football?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think it's -- I don't understand why we would have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debating each other, which is of interest to the entire country -- I mean, let's face it, this is an election like none we have ever seen.

There's a massive national interest. We just saw that in both national conventions in breaking records. Why would we present the next president of the United States, one of the two of these folks, on a Sunday night or a Monday night? Why wouldn't we want to maximize the audience and the viewership so that people can feel free to watch?

I don't understand why they would do that.

DICKERSON: Do you agree with the nominee that it's a rigged system, the debates?

PRIEBUS: No, listen, I don't know about whether the commission is rigged. I just think there's a lot of flaws with these -- with this commission. They are working hard. I'm not taking anything away from them. It's not easy. I know that.

I have been through thick and thin with these debates, as everyone understands. But there's no reason why there wouldn't be a give-and-take. And, by the way, I think there will be a give-and- take. And what we're saying is, having a debate on a Sunday night or a Monday night is not the ideal time. And we should revisit it.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about something else Mr. Trump said recently.

He said he wouldn't meet with the conservative donors the Koch brothers, because that would make him a -- quote, unquote -- "puppet." But House Speaker Paul Ryan is meeting with them. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is meeting with them. And Mike Pence has a strong relationship with the Koch brothers.

So, are they all puppets?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, I didn't hear that quote. I'm not questioning your comments.

But, look, I have had a good relationship with Charles and David. I have had a good relationship with Americans For Prosperity. I have had a good relationship with many of the donors that help them. I think we're a big family.

And I think that some of these bruises take time to heal. I think in the end we actually are going to be together at the table, working together, once we get through this month and next month. I think in the end we're all going to come together, and I think some of these things are just a lot of bruises that take time to heal.

DICKERSON: On the broader question, though, Mr. Trump at almost every rally talks about those who receive money from special interests as being puppets of the donors. He has talked about himself playing that role as the puppet master when he's given money.

A lot of Republicans receive money, as, of course, Democrats do. Hillary Clinton receives a lot of it. But are Republicans puppets because they receive money from special interests?

PRIEBUS: I don't think anyone is a puppet.

But I think what Donald Trump is saying, and rightfully so, is that he is a unique candidate who hasn't had to rely on a lot of these special interest money.

I'm not saying all special interests are bad interests. And I don't think people that have to take money are necessarily bad, but I do think that when a person like Hillary Clinton lines her pockets with all of the groups that she then turns around and bashes, it's -- there's an air of hypocrisy.

I don't have a problem with banks. I don't have a problem with Wall Street. But the problem I have is with a hypocrite who, on one hand, takes gobs of money from the places that she then turns around and claims that she's working against. It's all just a big fraud.

And it was a fraud that the DNC tipped the scales in her favor. It's a fraud that she pivots and talks about Russia, when she herself is the reason why these e-mails that she's -- that she put at risk are in the conversation that we're having today.

And it's a fraud that she talks about special interests on one hand and then turns around and claims that she's working against it. Look, the whole Clinton campaign is a fantasy land. You saw that last week. Everything is great. It's all vanilla ice cream and cotton candy, nothing to see, no talk of ISIS. Everything is on the right track.

Look, she has put us on a glide path which has created a situation that Americans are hurting in this country. We don't have an answer to ISIS across the ocean. And Donald Trump is talking about how we're going to get ourselves on track. And that's where we're at today.

DICKERSON: All right. Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for being with us.

And we will be back in one minute.

PRIEBUS: Thank you, John.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: Reporters and political junkies weren't the only ones trying to keep up with all the convention news in the last couple of weeks.

The late-night comics had plenty of material to work with. Here are some of their best moments.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": It's been a great convention so far. Last night was fantastic. It was huge. Did you see Melania?


I understand that you have a statement?



COLBERT: And the statement was written by the same staffers who wrote last night's speech?



JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": Even Trump doesn't seem to like him that much. Take a look at this awkward moment between them at the end of Pence's speech.


TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Another one? Another e-mail scandal? Oh, the Democrats get up to more (EXPLETIVE DELETED) with e-mails than a Nigerian prince. Like, what the hell?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton, what are you hiding in your e-mails that you didn't give to the FBI?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I am the most highly qualified person to ever seek the office of president. But, as a grandmother, sometimes, I make a boo-boo on the computer.


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": If you're going to put tape over your mouth to symbolize that you are being silenced, don't agree to do an interview.

QUESTION: Is there anything Hillary Clinton could say or do to win you over?



COLBERT: Also tonight, Hillary Clinton's running mate, Virginia Senator and loose fit khaki model Tim Kaine, was there.


COLBERT: The thrilla who is vanilla.

MEYERS: The speech concluded, like so many convention speeches do, with adults having their mind blown by balloons.



DICKERSON: And we will be right back.


DICKERSON: Late this week, we learned about the first cases of Zika virus transmitted through mosquitoes in the United States, specifically a neighborhood just north of Miami. We will be talking with the director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, Dr. Anthony Fauci, when we come back.

So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DICKERSON: Some are our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Democratic strategist David Axelrod and our political panel.

Don't go away.


We're here with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to talk about the new cases of Zika discovered to be caused by mosquitoes in the U.S.

Dr. Fauci, last time you were on you said this was very likely to happen. It now has happened. So what's being done to contain these?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Yes. The thing that you do immediately to try and contain is -- is to do mosquito control, vector control, because that's the immediate implementation tool that you have. And that's being very aggressively pursued right now by the state and local health authorities around the entire area, particularly in the area of Miami-Dade and Broward County, where the four locally transmitted cases have occurred. So that's the critical issue. That's the issue with this -- what -- what the authorities do.

What individuals can do is to protect themselves to the extent possible from mosquitoes. And you do that by staying indoors, in air conditioned places. Make sure that when you have doors and windows that have screens that are in good repair, and when you go out wear clothing to protect you to the extent possible and put insect repellent on to protect the exposed areas. That's what the individual can do together with what the local authorities do.

DICKERSON: How big a threat could this become and do people need to be concerned --

FAUCI: Right.

DICKERSON: Or what's the level of concern people should have?

FAUCI: OK. We definitely don't take this lightly. This is something that we always anticipate and we prepared for the worst. But we do not feel that this is going to turn into that broadly disseminated situation that we've seen in Brazil or that we're seeing in Puerto Rico. This is in stark contrast to Puerto Rico, because Puerto Rico has the conditions where they are having and will have a major outbreak.

What we've done with similar infections, like Dengue and Chikungunya, when you get very aggressive with mosquito control, we want to prevent it from becoming sustained and prevent it from becoming disseminated. Having said that, we will almost certainly have more individual prop-ups of local transmitted cases. I don't believe it's going to stop at four, but we don't believe it's going to be widely disseminated, if we do what I'm saying we can do, and that's the thing we need to do, aggressive vector control.

DICKERSON: Would you suggest that a pregnant woman avoid travel to -- to the area that's -- where this has been discovered?

FAUCI: Well, right now, the recommendation from the CDC is not that there would be travel guidance. However, this is something that is being evaluated literally every single day to see if any of the conditions change to indicate that there is going to become more broadly disseminated. And, if so, certainly the CDC would be ready to issue a travel guidance.

DICKERSON: Tell me -- tell me about that evaluation. Is it more cases?

FAUCI: Right.

DICKERSON: Is it size of population movement of --

FAUCI: Exactly. It's a combination of more cases and the continuation of the sustaining of the spread in the presence of what we hope would have been good vector control. So if you put all your efforts on controlling the vector and you still see cases coming up, that's when you pull the trigger for doing the kind of travel alert for pregnant women.

DICKERSON: What's not being done right now in -- in dealing with this? Is there anything that -- that -- that is -- is not being done because of congressional funding or -- or lack of will or --

FAUCI: Well, I -- I wouldn't say lack of will. The issues is, as you know, the president asked for $1.9 billion in February, not only for the things that we do at NIH with the vaccine, but particularly things that the CDC does working with the state and local health authorities for vector control and a few other things. We're going to rapidly run out of money if -- if -- if -- if we don't get it real soon because we're stretching it, borrowing money from other places to try and do those kinds of things. We're getting to that critical point very quickly.

DICKERSON: Explain to people what vector control is in case they don't --

FAUCI: I'm sorry. Vector control is just getting rid of the mosquitoes. And you get rid of mosquitoes by doing a few things. One, you remove the places where they breed. Standing water, pots, pans, tires, even little bottle caps, so that when they lay their eggs, you get larva and then you get adults. Then you do larvicide to kill the larva, adult insecticide. And you do it by a variety of ways. You can have backpack spraying, you've got aerial spraying. There's a number of ways to do that. So when we say vector control, we're talking about get rid of those mosquitoes.

DICKERSON: Tell me about the Zika vaccine. What's -- where's that --

FAUCI: Well, we're making very good progress. I mean it's really on a very fast track. I would say, John, that we very likely, in the next couple of weeks, go into a phase one trial in one of the several candidates that are being considered. And by phase one we mean, be tested in a limited number of people. In this case, it will be about 80 people. We'll do it locally in the Washington, D.C., area, to determine if it's safe. Mainly, can we give it to people and does it induce the kind of response we predict would be protected. That will take a few months. So by the beginning of 2017, if that goes well, we'll go right into an efficacy trial.

DICKERSON: All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanks so much for being with us, as always.

FAUCI: Good to be with you, John.

DICKERSON: And we'll be right back.


DICKERSON: Joining us now is CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.

David, let's start with the conventions. Each candidate got a tiny bounce, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. How much do these conventions really matter?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they matter in that they're the last big opportunity for candidates to deliver an unfiltered message to a large number of voters. So they've sort of set the stage for the campaign to come. And, you know, on one -- on the one hand, there was a distinct difference between the two conventions. The Democratic Convention was like the Broadway production of "Hamilton" and the Republican Convention was like a middle school play.

But they both delivered very strong messages. The Democratic message, more optimistic, future oriented, you know, celebration of diversity. The Republican message, a darker, more manakin (ph) view of where we are as a country. Democrats portrayed Donald Trump as kind of a -- a -- a loose cannon, crypto-fascist, can't get near the nuclear secrets. Republicans portrayed Hillary Clinton as a corrupt, untrustworthy exemplar of the status quo, tribune of the status quo. I think that's the race we're going to see from now until November.

DICKERSON: Is the race we're going to see about defining what territory that race is fought on? In other words, do you buy the Trump vision of the world or the Clinton vision of the world and we'll never get to the question of who has the better programs to -- to improve American's lives?

AXELROD: Well, I think we're at the stage of the campaign where 80 percent of America becomes spectators and 20 percent of America becomes the maybe reluctant recipient of constant attention from candidates because we're getting into these battleground states and that's where the campaign is going to be carried out and it's going to be carried out, you know, in small bore messages.

The one distinction are the debates. And I think the debates would be very important, particularly for Donald Trump whose big hurdle is to prove that he actually can be the president of the United States and that he's not just a messenger in this race. So those are going to be important. But by and large we're going to the battleground states now and it's going to be a grinding affair there.

DICKERSON: Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time in her convention speech on Donald Trump. Did that surprise you that she spent so much time on him?

AXELROD: No, it didn't, because I think for her the most important thing is to make him an unacceptable choice, particularly to these college-educated, largely suburban voters who have leaned Republican in the past, they supported Mitt Romney by I think a margin of about 12 points, but she is now even or ahead with him. She has to hold those voters and she needs to make him unacceptable to those voters. And I think a lot of her arguments about his lack of balance and maybe preparedness and his impulsiveness, his reactivity were all aimed at those voters.

DICKERSON: Bill Clinton tried to make the case that Hillary Clinton is a change agent. That seems to be a hard thing to do. A, she's a well-known name. And, b, the argument, implicit in what he was saying is, change is grinding and slow and incremental. That's not very exciting as a campaign message. How -- how much do you think you can make Hillary Clinton a -- an agent of change?

AXELROD: Yes, no, I think that's a tough argument to make. I thought Bill Clinton's speech was -- was great up until that point. I thought the great role that he played was to give people a richer sense of who she is, what motivates her, where she came from. I think that -- that was valuable in this convention.

The political argument that he made I think maybe less valuable. I don't think she's going to win this as the agent of change. I think she's going to win it on temperament. She's going to win it on stability, experience and as a -- in contrast to the fears that people have about Donald Trump.

DICKERSON: You've been in these campaigns. There's 99 days before people stop voting. Tell us, give us a sense of what a campaign is doing now? Priorities start to kick in. What kinds of tough decisions are they having to make now with 99 days left?

AXELROD: Well, look, you -- it's about rationing resources for one thing, where do you spend -- where do you put the candidates and their surrogates? Where's -- where do you focus their time? So where do you spend your resources? Hillary Clinton has more resources to spend right now than Donald Trump. Where and how do you spend them?

But, you know, one thing that I think may be determining fact -- a determining factor in this race is that there really is a lot of sort of technology around politics now that goes to analytics -- you know, analyzing data about voters that give campaigns a clear sense of who to target and how. She has been working on that project for a long time. Donald Trump is way behind on this. It's as if he has a -- a good football that can move down the field but no field goal unit. So it really puts a lot of pleasure on him as the deliverer of a message, whereas I think she's got a lot of the mechanisms that are necessary to bring it home in -- in potentially close contests in some of these states.

DICKERSON: All right, David Axelrod, thanks so much for being with you.

AXELROD: Great to be with you, John.

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


DANA MILBANK, "WASHINGTON POST": To do with his core supporters than -- than Clinton had to do. I think we saw it, yes, day and night, dark and light, but there was some similarity there in that the Democratic Convention was all about Donald Trump and Republican Convention was also all about Donald Trump, who kept appearing day after day. I think that's more the narcissistic nature of the candidate. But it is -- it is clear that both of these campaigns are going to make it -- try to make it about the other guy. Because if you make it about the other guy, they're both unpopular. If you make it about the other guy, you win.



DICKERSON: And you made it all about the -- the -- each other, which is going to be --

WALTER: Which is the constant theme.

DICKERSON: Right. I think it's going to be a pretty ugly campaign. But the -- the response from the Trump folks is, they are clueless in Clinton land. You know, they give this optimistic speech. The next day GDP is weak they just do not have their eye on the ball. Is that -- is that a winning message?

WALTER: If this were a quote/unquote "normal election" where you had a Republican who came out and said, I'm an agent of change, things haven't gone well, we need to turn the page, I think it would be very difficult for Hillary Clinton, one, to embrace the president, as she did, literally and figuratively, to try to walk this line of things are kind of bad but not so bad. It's not as bad as you think. But this isn't sort of a normal election and the Republican put forward is the kind of candidate -- and, again, she's going to have to make this case -- that he is not the right messenger. He has the right message, but the danger is the change because his change brings him.

DICKERSON: Too -- too much change.

WALTER: Too much change, too dangerous. So that's where I -- I agreed with David Axelrod,, which is, trying to make her an agent of change is not going to go anywhere. She's not a change agent. She is the status quote. But she has to make the case that the status quo, it's better to be safe than to make the risk of change.


REIHAN SALAM, "NATIONAL REVIEW": There's definitely a danger for both of these candidates. So, if you look at Donald Trump and why the tone of this convention was so pessimistic, it makes perfect sense when you look at his thesis as a candidate in the Republican primaries. The folks who flock to him, even if they were reasonably well off, even if they were middle class, were people who felt, like the 21st century, has basically been a disaster. When you have people who compare themselves to, let's say, men, who compare themselves to their fathers at the age they are now, and when they look at their status, when they look at, you know, their stability, the other things they enjoyed in their lives, and then they look at themselves today.

Now, look at the Democratic coalition. This is a coalition where you have Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who's much richer than Donald Trump, speaking about how, you know, things in the country are going basically well, right? Then you also have minority voters who, even if they're struggling, even if they're working class, they're doing better than their moms and dads in a lot of cases. So you're offering this case for optimism. Does that case for optimism resonate with what David Axelrod had said, that 20 percent of the country that's in the middle, we don't know. Donald Trump's case for pessimism, it makes a lot of sense to the people who won him the GOP nomination. Does it make sense for people outside of that universe?

DICKERSON: There were a lot of things, John, going on in the Democratic Convention. One of them was the praise for John McCain. Hillary Clinton praised a number of Republicans. The president praised George Herbert Walker Bush in our interview.


DICKERSON: That seems to be aimed at that 20 percent?

HEILEMANN: Oh, 100 percent. Yes, look, this is -- I think it was Michael Steele, the former Republican chairman, who said that the Democratic Convention was the best Republican Convention he'd ever seen.


HEILEMANN: And not just in terms of praising those Republicans, but also in trying to take on the mantle of Republican optimism, of old-fashion Republican optimism, of patriotism, the giant flags, all those appeals to values. To Reihan's point, it's, you know, the -- where -- where's the available vote out there? Who are those available voters, right? Trump has a huge problem with college educated voters. And if you think about where the available vote is out there, unless there's some magic that Trump is -- will be able to perform, which is bring out a whole bunch of new voters in an unprecedented way who are his kinds of voters. If you think about the normal electorate right now, college educated women in the suburbs in these battleground states, what did you hear as the Republican Convention that resonates with them, what did you hear at the Democratic Convention that resonates with them? I'm not convinced that the apocalyptic tone, not just pessimistic, but apocalyptic tone of the Republican Convention is going to resonate with white, suburban, college educated women in those battleground states. That's the real question.


SALAM: When you look at when Republicans do well in these midterm elections, they do well because they do well with college educated white voters. And they add that to that kind of working class base that's been in the party for some time. Now, Trump might have moved the needle a little bit with those white working class voters, but I agree with John, that it's that college educated white vote that's responsible for their biggest successes.

MILBANK: He has -- he has fundamentally decided that this is a turnout election and that if -- if he can just get these white lower educated, older males out to vote in larger number than ever before, he wins. Clinton's pursuing, I think, a very common, typical strategy. So we are all, you know, looking back at -- through our history. We say, well, obviously, the Clinton strategy makes sense of reaching out to the middle at this point. Donald Trump believes that he can rewrite the whole fundamentals of politics.

HEILEMANN: It's -- it's just --

DICKERSON: So you're saying this -- this travel that Hillary Clinton did after her convention that was aimed at trying to protect those blue collar voters that we've been saying.

WALTER: That's right. She went right in there. Right.

DICKERSON: So -- so help us understand that. So what we've got here is Trump does well perhaps with even some Democrat blue collar voters, but Hillary Clinton does well, Trump gives her an opportunity with those college educated women, but --

WALTER: But you also have to hold your margin.


WALTER: It's one thing saying, you're going to lose white non- college voters. It's another thing to lose them by ten points more than Barack Obama did, right? So you've got to keep your margins there.

And this is what -- another fundamental element of this campaign, which is, Hillary Clinton has all the elements of a traditionally strong campaign. She has the money. She has the infrastructure. She has the campaign advertising. And yet she's basically, what, two points ahead or you could -- you could argue it's tied. So -- and there may be an enthusiasm problem, but she has the infrastructure to do that. He has the enthusiasm, but doesn't have the infrastructure.


WALTER: So which one is going to win this battle?

HEILEMANN: I mean this is a huge problem -- no, this, again, is another huge problem for the Trump campaign, which is, if you're depending on changing the electorate in some fundamental way, that's a mechanical thing as much as a message thing. And this disparity of resources, this disparity in terms of the ground game poses a huge challenge to him.

Just to make this one last point about white college educated voters. Republicans have won white college educated voters for 50 years. That -- it's not even been close. And right now the polling that we just did at Bloomberg on this has Hillary Clinton up in double digits with white college educated voters. That's a huge problem if you add that in to the existing Obama coalition of non-white voters that he has turned out and have helped Democrats win five of the last six popular votes at the presidential level in America.

DICKERSON: If -- if he can turn -- if she can turn out the Obama (ph) coalition.

WALTER: If she can turn them out. If she can turn them out.

HEILEMANN: Turn them out. Yes.

DICKERSON: The -- Reihan, the mechanical stuff that John is talking about is basically the nuts and bolts of taking a person who likes you from their living room to the polling place. Wouldn't the Trump people say, hey, this guy puts them in the seats? He's the one who's got high ratings. He's in -- he's making people really enthusiastic. He doesn't need all the -- the this and that and the fancy consultants to get them to the polling place. They're going to be marching to the polling place.

SALAM: Well, look, one thing we know is that in 2012 you had the Romney campaign, a very professional campaign by all, you know, accounts. Yet when they deployed the get out the vote technology in 2012, they struggled with it. They did a very poor job. The -- the orca (ph) system was something that was notorious for its many failures. Now, this is kind of an inside baseball kind of thing.

But then when you look at the Trump campaign, you know, look, there's some level at which you have to make sure that people, as you say, get to the polling place. That involves infrastructure necessarily. It involves infrastructure. Another thing is, are you getting your support in the right places. So -- and this is a dilemma for both of these campaigns. The electoral college means that if you run up the total in the bay area, in the New York suburbs, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat. And, similarly, if you're a Republican, if you're doing extraordinarily well with non-college white voters in the deep south, but, you know, you're not doing quite as well with them in swing states, that's a problem. So, to some degree, when you look at how close this election is, it's not actually giving us the useful information about where is it close and who is actually going to get out those marginal voters.

WALTER: Well, and we are seeing those margins, though, in places, as I said, the margin between losing by ten points and losing by 20 points in some of those areas that Obama did do better than Hillary Clinton is with some of those voters.


WALTER: So the organic question.

The other thing was that Republicans that I've talked to actually look at those voters who turned out for the primaries, right? We hear all this talk, a huge turnout for Donald Trump. Biggest number of Republicans ever to vote. Ninety-five to 96 percent of those are traditional Republican voters. Now, maybe they didn't vote in primaries before. That is true.


WALTER: But they voted in general elections. So this now is -- is getting turnout to a place that we'd never seen before, not just getting people who are already registered to come out and vote in the primary.

DICKERSON: It's not the Trump is a new phenomenon, he's just, what's new is he's pulling people into the primary process.

WALTER: Correct. Correct.

DICKERSON: Which doesn't tell us maybe anything about the general.

Let me, if I may, switch to debates. What's going on with Donald Trump and the debates? What do you all see happening here?

MILBANK: John, I -- I'm glad you held Reince 's and Manafort's feet to the fire on this. September 23, 2015, is when those dates were put out there. Not a peep from the RNC. Not a peep from candidate Trump. And, you know, I think it's important to point this out because now you have Trump saying the system's rigged. You have Manafort with you saying, they were conspired with the Hillary Clinton campaign. This isn't in the realm of he said, she said. This is a fact. And I -- and I think it just needs to be pointed out, that whatever they're doing right now is something that they were not doing for the last 11 months.

SALAM: And very interested in the minor party candidates. If you look at Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate, he has been pretty much exclusively running a kind of centrist, moderate campaign in which he emphasizes his social liberalism. You'd think that a libertarian candidate would be there to kind of attract some of these college educated voters who otherwise vote for Republicans. But when you're looking at the debates, it's a really big question, is Trump going to say, well, I insist that we have Gary Johnson and Jill Stein there? It would make sense because he seems to do a heck of a lot better -- we didn't see him in a one-on-one debate. So that will be very interesting. And then, frankly, he'll have other allies who will say that, yes, we want other people in this process, too. And if those guys are people who are otherwise the Clinton voters, that clearly has implications for the election.

DICKERSON: John, we focus on the debates because it's the next big kind of turning point in the road.


DICKERSON: Should we do that? Should we be -- or -- or -- I mean, are they going to be even bigger now than ever or --

HEILEMANN: I -- look, I mean, if you think about what the schedule is of life between now and those -- and that first debate, you know, you've got the Olympics, which under normal circumstances sort of blot out the sun in terms of news coverage over the course of most of August. Again, a lot of the old rules have not applied in this cycle --


HEILEMANN: So, Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton might not be like that the way it was back in 1996 in terms of the news blackout. But I think the first debate is going to be gargantuan. I think, you know, you will see television audiences unlike any television audience we've ever seen in our lifetimes. If you were on a canoe in the Zambezi or on a tea farm in Sri Lanka, people are going to be wanting to watch this debate. It's going to be huge.

I think that Trump will not want to do three debates. I think that if he --


HEILEMANN: They both recognize that -- that he has to do one because there are so many questions about his temperament and suitability for the office. If he doesn't pass the Reagan '80 test, can you imagine this guy in the Oval Office, he's got to do that it that debate. It will matter hugely. But I can easily imagine him saying, I want to pass that test once and then move on.


DICKERSON: So, 20 seconds, what happens if he does that, if he gets out of the three debates?

WALTER: We have not been able to answer the what if.


WALTER: I mean I feel like half the answers to these questions are that emoji that they have now, the shruggy (ph), where you're just like, I -- I do not know. You would think that would be completely damaging and yet we've not been correct in assuming that earlier.

DICKERSON: All right, we end --

HEILEMANN: That's more (INAUDIBLE) the debate about debates.

DICKERSON: Yes, true. We end on the uncertainty emoji.

Thanks to all of you. And we'll be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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