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Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on August 19, 2018

8/19: Panetta, Noem, Wexton
8/19: Panetta, Noem, Wexton 46:45

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, August nineteenth. I am Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

Fighting a wave of negative publicity sparked by the release of a tell-all book along with embarrassing secret audio recordings, President Trump tried to change the subject. He revoked the security clearance of one of his harshest critics, former CIA chief John Brennan. He threatened to do the same with another nine national security officials he either disagrees with or fired. Among the dozens of former intelligence officials who swiftly condemned the President's action was former CIA director Leon Panetta. We'll hear from him. Our CBS News Battleground Tracker shows the race for control of the House could be shifting. We'll take a look at the critical role of female voters and the record-breaking number of women running for office. Two Democrats, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Virginia congressional candidate Jennifer Wexton join us. Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota joins us with the Republican perspective. She could become her state's first female governor.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION.

The President's efforts to silence his critics in the intelligence community has not discouraged them from demonstrating the right to free speech, as former CIA director John Brennan, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA director Mike Hayden, all appeared this morning in their roles as network contributors. We spoke earlier with former CIA director Leon Panetta, and asked him why he opposed the President's action.

(Begin VT)

LEON PANETTA (Former CIA Director/Former Defense Secretary): Security clearances are critical to our national security and decisions regarding security clearances ought to be based on national security issues. Our concern now is that security clearances are going to be used as a political tool to go after people that the President doesn't agree with or issues that the President may not agree with and we think that undermines the importance of security clearances particularly when it comes to national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House has said that there are at least nine others that are under review in terms of potentially having their security clearances revoked. It is the President's prerogative to be able to do this. Should it remain that way?

LEON PANETTA: Well, the-- the President, obviously, has power with regards to security clearances but his power is also limited by an executive order that makes very clear that when it comes to the revocation of a security clearance that it has to be based on national security issues not the politics of somebody, not what that person has said, not how they dress, not how they look but based on national security issues. This President is now going after people. And the indication that I saw is that he's-- he's going to provide these names to the press office to use this issue when it's a bad news day so that it can-- it can cover that particular news story. I think that's a real misuse of not only security clearances. I think it's a misuse of the office of the presidency.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But is there any restraint on being able to do that?

LEON PANETTA: Well, obviously, Congress would be important if Congress decided that it was important to protect the process for security clearances to take action. I think the-- the other issue here is that there is an executive order that's in place. It was signed by Bill Clinton. It was updated by President Bush. It was followed by President Obama. And this President has to abide by that executive order unless he is prepared to change it. That executive order lays out a process for revoking security clearances. And this President is not above the law he's required to follow that executive order.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you suggesting that this may not have actually revoked Brennan's clearance that this may not actually be a valid action?

LEON PANETTA: Well, I think there are questions raised as to whether or not this President has followed the executive order and whether or not he's provided a due process to those that are going to have their-- their security clearances revoked. Yes, President of the United States has power, but that power is limited by the Constitution and by the checks and balances in our system. I think the President has to adhere to those kinds of requirements.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a former director of the CIA just like John Brennan. So let's look at what some of John Brennan's statements have been recently that the President has taken umbrage at; specifically, he called President Trump's behavior alongside Vladimir Putin nothing short of treasonous. Do you think statements like that overstepped the boundaries of what's appropriate for an official of your level?

LEON PANETTA: Whether one agrees or disagrees with what John Brennan said is not the issue. We have something called free speech in this country. And whether you're a former CIA director or whether you're a former President of the United States or whether you're just a citizen on the street you have a right to free speech to say what you think about our country and our President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But should there be a different standard--

LEON PANETTA: --and that's the right that John exercised.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be a different standard for public commentary coming from former national security officials because of this blurring of the lines?

LEON PANETTA: Well, I'm--I'm a believer in the broad interpretation of the right of free speech in this country. The President certainly exercises it. And I think all of us have a right to exercise that. Now, if-- if somebody uses classified information or reveals classified information or misuses that in a way while he is exercising a viewpoint, then I think that crosses a line. But that was not the case here. John Brennan spoke according to his views of what the President was or was not doing. That in my book is what free speech is all about and it needs to be protected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Panetta, thank you for joining us.

LEON PANETTA: Good to be with you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the midterm elections. Our CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker shows that although control of the House is technically still a tossup, the contest is edging to the Democrats. And women voters are playing a critical role. There's also now a record number of women candidates winning their party's nomination for the House, the Senate, and for governor. But the number of female Democratic candidates outnumbers Republicans three to one. Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem is running for governor of South Dakota and if she wins, she will be the first woman to hold that office in her home state. Good to have you with us this morning, Congresswoman.

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM (R-South Dakota/@KristiNoem/South Dakota Gubernatorial Candidate): Good morning, Margaret. Thank you for inviting me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before we get to the elections I want to ask you if as a Republican you are comfortable with President Trump's decision to revoke and threaten to revoke security clearances on what appear to be political grounds?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: You know, obviously, in this instance there was national security concerns. It appears that at times Brennan has put political purposes above national security. And I think what's astounding to me is realizing that there's over five million people in this country that have security clearances so there's a lot of folks--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are the national security grounds--

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: --out there with important information.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --because the White House has not provided any detail as to any potential violations by Brennan.

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: You know, obviously, there's information the White House has that none of us are privy to. But I think it's important to know that the number one priority needs to continue to be national security and when we are looking at these types of situations that if someone appears to have put political purposes above national security then that's grounds for review.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. What I hear you saying is you agree with the President. So let me move on to the election here. In your race out in South Dakota you said that when it came to your primary you think you actually lost a few points because of your gender, that sometimes Republican men are reluctant to put a woman in that executive office. Do you think that's a problem just in your state or is that a problem nationally?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: Oh, overwhelmingly, in my primary we talked about my experience--my experience running businesses, starting businesses, serving at the state level and the legislature in leadership and then also my knowledge of federal policy and how it impacts our state. So that was really brought forward in that primary election. That's what we're talking about in the general. I think that as we look across the country women don't just want to talk about women's issues. We want to talk about everything that's important to our economy, to jobs, to our children's futures. And that's what we focused on in South Dakota discussions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what did you mean when you said that your gender cost you a few political points?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: You know there's always a time when someone is the first person to be nominated in a state and to run and to be elected potentially to a leadership position in your state where-- where that's a new experience for people. So we had discussion on that. But, overwhelmingly, the people in South Dakota are looking for the best person to sit in that job that can provide the leadership to address some of the challenges that we state-- that we face. We are a very small state but that also means that we can be nimble and we have a unique opportunity here for some states and governors to stand up and address policies that will give us a testimony of what we can do in this country to put it back on its foundation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think accounts for the fact that it is three times the number of Democratic female candidates who are running versus Republicans?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: You know I think most of the time when I am looking at women running for office they need to be recruited. I often think back to when we were going to be electing a new majority leader in the House of Representatives. You know that night as soon as there was an opening I started getting all kinds of texts from men that were serving in the House saying, "I want to be the majority leader. Will you help me? Will you support me?" The next day I was talking about that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is your party doing enough to recruit female candidates?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: I believe so but I also think that across the country that we have folks out there who, you know, women tend to think I don't know if I could do that job. Men often think I can do that job in an amazing manner. So it's our perspective many times as women and political parties play an important role. Women oftentimes need to be recruited. They need to know that they are going to have some support there and that will help them on their path to victory.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman, because you are a Republican I want to ask you about the President's language.


MARGARET BRENNAN: He has referred this week to a former senior White House official as a dog and a lowlife. Physically-- he often references physical attributes and, as you know, he's been accused by at least nineteen women of sexual misconduct. Does any of that make you uncomfortable as a member of his party?

REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: You know, let me be very clear I don't think there's anyone that would say that they approve of any kind of sexual misconduct. And we've seen many important people in this country fall when they've gone through the judicial process of-- of that being confirmed. That isn't where the President is today. But I tend to not focus on dissecting the President's tweets or his language. I am focused on policies. That's what my job is is to look at solutions that will really bring relief to the people in my state, but also to people in this country. I worked very closely with the White House on tax reform. I was one of the last and lead negotiators in the House to deliver that and because of that women-owned businesses are better off today, women's incomes are going up.


REPRESENTATIVE KRISTI NOEM: And that kind of results is what makes a big difference in the day-to-day lives of the people in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.

And when we come back we'll hear from two Democrats, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand running this year.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We traveled to Sterling, Virginia, this week to talk with New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Jennifer Wexton, the Democratic candidate for Congress from Northern Virginia. We began by asking why a record number of women are running this year.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you draw a direct line between President Trump's election and the number of women running now?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-New York/@SenGillibrand): Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Based on not demographic shifts, but just pure protest?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Protest, anger, frustration, and determination to protect their families.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're running in a district that's been held by Republicans since the eighties.

JENNIFER WEXTON (D-Candidate for Virginia-10/@JenniferWexton): Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What you're seeing in terms of your pull-ahead in the polls. What do you attribute that to?

JENNIFER WEXTON: I attribute it to my-- my background. You know, I'm-- I'm a mom. I am a former prosecutor from the heart of the district, in Loudoun County. And I am a state senator who, during my tenure in the-- in the Senate has passed over forty bills.

MARGARET BRENNANBRENNAN: Why do you feel comfortable saying, I'm a mom and that's a good thing?

JENNIFER WEXTON: Because we bring great things to the table. As women we are able to check our egos at the door, and work together to get things done and deliver results. As moms, we are able to prioritize and multitask all the many things that, that help us as legislators. And we're able to empathize and understand the issues that our constituents are facing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think, though, that in this particular race, it's kind of unusual? I mean, you're a woman running against another woman here, Barbara Comstock. Does that change the dynamic of the race at all?

JENNIFER WEXTON: Maybe a little bit, because we are both women, so we can't put it in that frame of a man versus a woman. But when you have a woman who is not voting in a way that helps other women, it's time to replace her.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know there's a number-- a record number of women running against other women, in addition to just being, you know, out there in the first place and putting themselves on the line, on the ballot. Would you also attribute it to President Trump?

JENNIFER WEXTON: I think Donald Trump has a lot to do with it. I think a lot of women woke up after the November election in 2016 and realized that democracy is a lot more fragile than any of us wanted to admit. And that the only way we were going to change things would be to get off the sidelines and run ourselves.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: The fact that Donald Trump has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and sexual harassment alone has infuriated women enough to do something that they might otherwise have not done, taking the risk to actually run for office.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But all those things came to light, or were accused-- he was accused of these things when he was running as candidate?


MARGARET BRENNAN: He was elected regardless.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Fair enough. But, the response to him being elected, I think, is this overwhelmingly-- the overwhelming desire of women to be heard, to be counted and to fight back against what he stands for and what he said. He demeans women. He devalues women. He's constantly trying to harm our families and our communities. And so women, when they know their family is being harmed, they will run through fire. They will do whatever it takes to protect their family.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He would argue, as would the White House, he is not anti-women.


MARGARET BRENNAN: He's actually endorsed your opponent--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --back in New York.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I would just read his Twitter feed on any given day and you'll see he does not support women.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President made that personal in a rally this week up in your home state of New York and when he endorsed the woman running--the candidate running against you, he also slammed you. You've been very tough on him. But he was tough on you and said that you basically had no accomplishments, he hit you for coming and asking and seeking campaign contributions in the past. How do you respond?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I think it was a very weak attack and, frankly, I was surprised it was the best he could do, um, but President Trump does not have a relationship with the facts. And as a New Yorker he certainly should know that I have passed the 9/11 health bill twice to give health care to our first responders and the families that live in the community. As the commander-in-chief he should know that I led the charge in repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. So if he wants to come campaign against me in New York any time he's welcome.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you hear some of his criticisms, like his hit at you for asking for campaign contributions, as gendered?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Yes, that was, clearly, a sexist smear and it was intended, specifically, to silence me and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did you hear it that way?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: --and the dozens of women who had just come out against him for sexual assault and sexual harassment and the millions of women who were marching against him since he became President because of what he said.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this week the President referred to a former senior White House aide as a dog--someone who had worked with him for years. Did-- what did you hear when he said that phrase dog?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I hear, again, a very sexist smear that's intended to demean her. He has--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He's used it in the past against men.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: He has used racist words also over and over again. He is intending to demean and devalue a former staff member and he's done that to women of color over the many months that he's been President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, yet, as we say, he's endorsing female candidates in this race, his successful campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who is an adviser now, says that it's absurd to accuse him of being in any way sexist and actually says that she's being treated in a sexist way because she's a Republican and that her contributions aren't recognized by fellow women.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I think she's wrong. And he can support women candidates who also don't share our values. Women are not a monolith. To assume they are is equally absurd.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that we're going to see more female candidates run in 2020?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I, certainly, hope so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does 2018 get replicated? Or is what happens in November going to decide who we see run against President Trump?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I think what happens in November is going to decide what our country looks like. I think this election is a referendum on President Trump on the fact that he doesn't represent most Americans. That his values don't line up with most Americans. And so being heard in this election sets the stage for everything in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you see it as a test case for 2020 that there could be, again, the Democratic candidate, a woman?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I think you'll have many women run in 2020. I think you'll have a lot of diversity--


SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: No, I'm running for Senate. And I'm running for re-election in my state, in November, too. And I am running against a woman, too, which is--


SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: --a good thing. That is a good thing to have more women running, Democrat and Republican.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And if you win that re-election you're not precluding running in 2020 for President?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I am solely focused on '18 and I think all of us are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All. Right, we'll come back to you after-- after November.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We invited Jennifer Wexton's opponent, Representative Barbara Comstock, but she did not accept our invitation to appear. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There's a record number of women candidates but what's on the minds of women voters leading up to November? We talked with five women this week; two, who voted for President Trump and three were Clinton voters, although, one of them had supported Bernie Sanders in the same Virginia district in which Jennifer Wexton is hoping to replace Republican Barbara Comstock. We begin with President Trump and whether he respects women.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN #1: I don't agree with his personal behavior. I find it reprehensible. But I believe deeply that he cares for this country.

WOMAN #2: I feel that he is more in line with my values and my view of where the country should be headed in spite of the fact that his personality sometimes leaves too much to be desirable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you seen anything positive so far from President Trump?

WOMAN #3: To be honest, no.

WOMAN #4: I cannot think of one policy that he has implemented since being in office that has been for women.

Can you think of one policy?

WOMAN #1: Absolutely.

WOMAN #4: Tell me, please. Share with me.

WOMAN #1: Tax cut. It meant for me about a hundred and fifty dollars a week-- a paycheck more and almost five thousand dollars in bonuses in raise this year. That has helped my company. We're able to hire more people. That-- and-- and for women we have the lowest unemployment in sixty-five years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many of you think that the President truly respects women?

WOMAN #1: I don't think it's a matter of respect or value. He hires a lot of powerful women in his business.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you feel he respects women?

WOMAN #1: I think he respects the talent of women.

WOMAN #2: Correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying, no?

WOMAN #4: No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What-- what do you mean by that?

WOMAN #4: I do not think he respects women. I think that women for him they are a means to an end. I'm sitting here and-- and I'm-- Jackie, I am baffled. Talking to you has been such a delight and I feel as if we are in the midst of the Yanny and Laurel auditory illusion where I hear Yanny and you hear Laurel and I'm amazed.

WOMAN #1: And I feel the same.

WOMAN #4: I'm amazed.

WOMAN #1: You're a businesswoman.

WOMAN #4: Exactly.

WOMAN #1: You're benefitting.

WOMAN #2: So, as I.

WOMAN #4: I feel as if I benefit because of what I have put in.

WOMAN #1: Absolutely and that's the difference.

WOMAN #2: The key.

WOMAN #1: That's the key. It's not somebody else created it, it you created it.

WOMAN #2: Right.

WOMAN #1: But the environment in which you are in now there are people today that have jobs that can give you money for your services that couldn't do that two years ago.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's a different question than does he respect women.

WOMAN #1: No. But-- but getting back to it I don't think-- I don't think Donald Trump respects anybody but Donald Trump.

WOMAN #2: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does he respect women?

WOMAN #2: I don't know. None of us do. Whether he does or doesn't we don't know what's in here or in his heart.

WOMAN #3: But he should.


MARIA: I don't believe that he respects women at all. And when he chooses to tweet things out himself and there are recordings of him saying things you can't say like, oh, well, we don't know. Because we do know. Because he (INDISTINCT) out of his own mouth.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll have much more from our focus group when we come back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Here is more of our conversation with women voters in Virginia.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think here in Virginia of the idea that two women are running against each other?

IRIS: That's great.

WOMAN #1: Airplane food, hospital food.


WOMAN #2: That is not me.

WOMAN #3: I-- I get it.

WOMAN #1: I'm going to kill you, but neither ones are worth it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you made up your mind yet?

WOMAN #1: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you want to share it with us?

WOMAN #1: I will vote for Barbara Comstock. I will hold my nose.

IRIS: Indeed, that makes two of us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the three of you are going the other way?

WOMAN #2: Absolutely.


WOMAN #3: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And do you view that as a vote against Donald Trump when you go to vote for the Democratic candidate?

WOMAN #3: No, not necessarily. I live in northern Virginia like all of you, but I live in the Lucketts area. And I feel as if Barbara Comstock has not done enough to alleviate road concerns, I mean, just basic things that are going on in my community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Iris, do you view this as a referendum on President Trump?

IRIS: The whole election? It prob-- it has been turned into that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when you're casting your vote.


MARGARET BRENNAN: When you go into that voting booth.

IRIS: When I cast my vote I usually cast my vote for, again, the person who I think is most likely to represent my values and my principles and do good-- do good for the country or, in this case, the state of Virginia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You all do think there will be a female President at some point?

WOMAN #3: Oh, absolutely.

IRIS: Hope so.

WOMAN #2: Eventually. I mean--

WOMAN #3: Eventually-- you know, I'm fifty years old and I'm thinking-- I thought that possibly in November of 2016, we would have seen the first female President. I am not sure that it will happen within the next ten years. I don't believe it will happen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Maria, you're-- you're a millennial in the group, are you feeling motivated this November in a way that, perhaps, you didn't in the past?

MARIA: I think in a way, yes, I think that-- that the two-party system is so polarizing and I think that a lot of people of my generation agree with that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think you've all become more politically interested or active since President Trump?

WOMAN #2: I have. I know I have. My family has become way more political. My sister very introverted. She is out there, she's canvassing, she is creating her own PAC even because she is that motivated, and so am I. And I never really voted in an election. I wasn't registered to vote because I chose not to. I didn't want my data out there. Now I'm like, okay, have my data. I have definitely become more political. And it is polarizing.

MARIA: Yeah.

WOMAN #3: I've always been fascinated. I grew up in Michigan. My father was a very strong Union Democrat. And I was in middle school when the air traffic controllers went on strike. And President Reagan said, if you don't go back to work you're going to be fired. I-- I was ten, eleven, twelve, I-- I don't even remember. And my first thought was, well, if you don't go to work then you shouldn't be fired. So those were conversations that I really couldn't have in my household. I definitely think--

WOMAN #1: Absolutely.

WOMAN #3: --one size does not fit all. So I have always been more issue-driven.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the fact that a candidate is a woman or that she's a mother count as sort of a bonus for you, do you view that as a positive thing?

WOMAN #1: No.

IRIS: No. Not-- not in my case.

WOMAN #3: Not necessarily, no.

IRIS: Not at all.

WOMAN #3: No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gender doesn't influence whether you favor a candidate?

WOMAN #1: Never has.

IRIS: Almost never.

WOMAN #3: I'm-- I'm trying to think if there's ever been an instance where I've just picked a woman over a man and I don't believe that I have. I-- I think it's-- again, it's an issue-- an issue for me. It has to be--

IRIS: (INDISTINCT) voters, yeah.

MARIA: At this point in time really women in politics is still very young.

WOMAN #3: That's true.

MARIA: So as the time goes on and more women will have been political figures for longer, they're going to be stronger candidates. And so I believe for that reason that there will be a woman President, hopefully, in the next ten or fifteen years.

WOMAN #3: I-- I hope-- I hope so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that Washington would function better if there were more women in elected office?

WOMAN #1: No. I-- I think that-- I think that the swamp is so ingrained.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So none of you think that women act differently as leaders?

WOMAN #2: They do act differently as leaders. I-- I've been an-- I am actually under a woman, several layers of women leadership, it's amazing. And I am in the IT field. And that's what makes it even better. They are strong and they are candid and they actually care like they really do care. But I think that when you get to Congress, what ends up happening it's becomes-- it's a job. Like it's-- it's a job. You do-- they forget their constituency, they do the same thing that any other a man, senator or a male--

WOMAN #3: They can be just as perfect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If there were more women, because the number is still relatively small. Would that change?

WOMAN #3: I think so.

WOMAN #2: It might change. It might change. I was in the military, right? And when we-- it was female, in that, and so when we were all together it was-- and when you have that camaraderie you actually build each other up and you make each other stronger but we all have the same goal, right? We were all going for the same goal. It's not the same in Congress. You're not all going for the same goal because you represent different people and their goals are different. So I don't think that it would-- it would be more. But I do agree with Maria if the more women that are in there, the stronger that they will be.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do all of you think that women are in a better place now than they were in 2016?

WOMAN #1: I do.

WOMAN #2: No. I don't think anyone is actually better. I-- I really don't. Especially when you're looking at friends and they say something and you're like, oh, you are that type of supporter? And then-- and then that-- that just puts a distance between you, right? So no one is better. Women or men, children, nobody is better. Animals, they're not better either. Nobody's better. Sorry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you, ladies, very much.

IRIS: Oh, it's been a pleasure.

WOMAN #2: Oh, appreciate it.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with our panel. So stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with our political panel. Leslie Sanchez is a Republican strategist and CBS News political contributor. Ed O'Keefe is our political correspondent here at CBS. Amy Walter is the national editor of the Cook Political Report. And Anthony Salvanto is our director of elections and surveys and he's here today with a batch of new poll numbers from the CBS News Battleground Tracker. So, Anthony, what has changed this summer?

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS/Where Did You Get This Number?): The Democrats have moved into a stronger position to take back the House. We had them earlier this summer getting just over that magic number of two hundred and eighteen. That's the number of seats you need to-- to take the House. Here we have them inching up to two hundred and twenty-two. But I need to caution here, there's a margin of error around that, like there is with any poll on this estimate. And that margin of error still has a range where the Republicans could still hold the House. There are scenarios where that happened-- where that happens. What I want to emphasize is within that estimate all these districts are very close and we're looking at very small swings among these voters just a few more Republican women who are a little bit hesitant to say that they're going to back the Republican candidate. A lot of enthusiasm among Democrats but some who haven't voted before and so there's a lot of moving parts still here underneath that edge towards the Dems.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned women, as a voting bloc, they don't all go in the same direction, but you are starting to see a real shift in how women are voting this election.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. One of the biggest breaks is if you look at the college-non-college difference and we've-- we started to see this in the last presidential election and in these districts, it's really important, there's a double-digit edge for Democrats among women with college degrees here. And they also tell us that they are more likely to say their vote is, as you heard in-- in your panel, a vote against the President. And that's different from men who are more inclined to say they're voting in support of the President. And I should emphasize, these battleground districts are battlegrounds because they have relatively more college graduate women in them, so by definition that's part of what's going on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. And, Leslie, I guess the question then is for these college-educated women who maybe in the past have voted Republican, are they comfortable crossing over in this election or do they stay in a partisan sort of position when they go to the voting booth?

LESLIE SANCHEZ (CBS News Political Contributor/@LeslieSanchez): Sure. So the President won about forty percent of those college educated. I always look at the other side, sixty percent of non-college educated. White women particularly were the ones that voted. So if you look at the pool, if they were white women they were more inclined to vote for the President. So the-- the dividing line really does come on race. If you look at Hispanic women, African-American women or women who are Republican in marriage, like their married-- their-- their family votes Republican. That's where you are going to see more of dividing line. People talk a lot about the suburbs, maybe there'll be more ticket splitters, we talk about Barbara Comstock's race, can she hold conservative Republican-leaning college-educated women? I think they can. And at the end of the day, that more of these folks will fall on the Republican camp than the Democratic one.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And how much of that is a Trump effect?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: The-- the most remarkable thing I think that's happening, historically, and I know Anthony talks about this, you expect about thirty seats to be lost for the President's party in power. What the President's trying to do is defy history and, basically, say, can I nationalize my local Trump voters to support a local can-- candidate. If he can do that and get out to all those states he wants to get to, those last thirty days that changes this from a referendum which it normally is on the President's policies and his character to a nationalized election saying that we fear open borders, we have a strong economy, you have to keep, be patient, and wait for the long-term effect.

AMY WALTER (Cook Political Report/@amyewalter): And that's been the-- the challenge. Leslie brings up a really good point about who's more motivated to vote in this election.


AMY WALTER: And we've been seeing in all these special elections for the House Democrats have been outperforming their traditional vote percentage. They have been turning out at a higher percentage and my colleague looked at the last special election in Ohio where you have a great combination. This is around the Columbus suburbs and the more rural parts of-- of Ohio. In the Columbus suburbs, where you're going to see a lot of these voters like we saw here in suburban Virginia, they turned out at about sixty percent of their 2016 average. Okay. So they were turning out at a very high rate for a special election.


AMY WALTER: In the very Trump rural parts of the district, remember Trump went into this district and campaigned, the vice president went into this campaign-- this district and campaigned, they only turned out at forty percent.

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Yeah.

AMY WALTER: So there is also a limit, and I think there is one voter in there, I can't remember her name, who mentioned about, you know, I'm going to vote for-- I'm a Republican, but I'm going to vote for a Republican but I really don't like Congress, right?

AMY WALTER: That's really the challenge is. Trump's success was based on the fact that he trashed all of Congress, including Republican members of Congress, right? He spent most of 2017 attacking Mitch McConnell, attacking the ineptness of the Republican-- Republicans in Congress to pass an Obamacare repeal. Now to go back into those voters and say, I know you like me, and you like that I shake it up, but I need you to vote for these establishment hacks in Congress that I keep attacking. That's a very difficult thing to do.

ED O'KEEFE: We were in Ohio in that district for the special elections two weeks ago and it was just fascinating when you speak with women voters especially. How many of them unprompted were saying I am here because of the President.


ED O'KEEFE: I am voting against the President. I want nothing to do with him or anyone who supports him. The polling backs that up. Something like what is it, a majority say that the candidate much share their views on Donald Trump in order to get their vote. We were seeing that vividly every time we talked to a woman in that-- in that district. And, you know, it-- it just makes you wonder if you're hitting that sixty percent-- percent threshold how this is going to-- and you-- you've talked about this. How much this is going to potentially scramble the traditional models that have been used to determine--



ED O'KEEFE: --how many people are going to show up. If Democrats show up in far larger numbers--

AMY WALTER: That's right. That's right.

ED O'KEEFE: --it totally scrambles things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Anthony, we were just showing a graphic there that I'd like you to explain a little bit. What are the issues that make people show up particularly women? I know health care is something that polls very high.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: It keeps popping up, every time we give people an issue list, every time we say, what is going to be the determinative thing, even if everybody is not talking about it in the Washington, it keeps coming up in the polls. For women then we ask, specifically, what is it about health care and its costs, its cost and a lot of folks who say that they don't feel that the changes in the Republican Congress has made so far have either affected them or affected them for the better.


ANTHONY SALVANTO: And I think that's one of the things when we talk about what voters are saying and doing versus what the national politics as in campaigns are saying and doing. There does appear to be a little bit of a disconnect.

AMY WALTER: There's a huge disconnect. We saw this in our own assessment of the ads that have been run through the primaries from beginning this year through the end of July. Democrats overwhelmingly talking about health care much more than they're talking about Donald Trump.


LESLIE SANCHEZ: You know I think that if anything that's always been a blind spot for the Republican Party they don't talk about health care, they think about-- yes, it is in terms of cost. But women will say things like I am not going to get to go to the good doctor now I am assigned to the bad one.


LESLIE SANCHEZ: When they're talking about choice and doctors opting out, preexisting condition which we know Republicans and Democrats agree on but there is this kind of myth out there that all of a sudden that preexisting conditions wouldn't be covered if you went in and tried to change--


LESLIE SANCHEZ: --the current system. I think the other interesting part is, no matter what policy and that's kind of my question, no matter what policy you put forward is not going to change women's verdict on the President's flawed character.


LESLIE SANCHEZ: That is consistent. And we-- you know, well, what if he does this, and has more tax reform and does infrastructure, it's not going to matter on that.



MARGARET BRENNAN: And, yet, it isn't necessarily precluding them from voting Republican.

AMY WALTER: Exactly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And as we heard from Congresswoman Noem, she seemed reluctant to directly criticize the President.

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Uh-huh. That might be more just because there's solid red conservative or solid Republicans. And the interesting part if you contrast that what are the Democrats giving them. If you look at a Gallup poll this week that talked about there is more of an openness and a more favorability for socialism than there ever has been for capitalism. That's the first time at-- since 2010 that Democrats are starting to see that in a more positive light. What does that mean in contrast to Republicans who are really much more capitalist-oriented, they like the strong economy. At least it gives them a place to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, I thought it was interesting in our conversation with those voters when I asked women about whether having more female representatives would sort of change Washington.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And they pretty much said, no, everyone is a swamp creature once they get there.

ED O'KEEFE: It is. And-- and why I find that interesting is, in fact, if you look at recent congressional history there is some evidence to suggest that women actually are pushing things along. There was a period a few years ago where you had women either running or were the top partisan member of the budget appropriations, agriculture committees and all of those big bills were moving at the same time and they all got through with very little drama and all of those members said, part of the reason this happened is because women were pushing it along. We're more willing to meet with their counterparts, we're more willing to compromise, and-- and remain laser-focused on getting it done. So I would argue the reverse that, in fact, I think we have seen evidence in recent years that if women do get in there, and end up in positions where they are moving a legislation along things actually could get done a lot faster.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Anthony, I know when you are asking questions you're always very careful and specific in polling in how you phrase things. You asked about Trump's handling of issues that affect women.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And I thought it was interesting in that focus group to hear people define what they thought a woman's issue was.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard from Jackie, that Trump supporter, for her all it meant was the economy. That's human issue across the board.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Right. Very purposefully whatever it means to you.


ANTHONY SALVANTO: Because what we found was that for people who supported the President and for Republican women. In fact, to your point, they said they were primarily concerned with how he managed the government. But for Democratic women it became much more personal, it became about whether or not he shared their culture and values, they told us, or even how he handled himself personally. So that can be an issue that affects-- that affects them as well. So sometimes you want to leave it open because you want to listen to people--



ANTHONY SALVANTO: --rather than impose something on them and say, check the box, yes or no and, again, to sort of reemphasize. The differences here are subtle. We're talking about single digits between moderates--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --and Republicans, all of which could and-- and very well might shift as we go on. But it defines the contours of what people are going to argue about is happening.

ED O'KEEFE: That hospital food, airplane food line I think is pretty accurate.

LESLIE SANCHEZ: It's-- it's pretty political.

ED O'KEEFE: Absolutely.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you. We will be back in just a moment to talk some more with Anthony Salvanto about understanding polling.


MARGARET BRENNAN: At CBS we've been lucky to be able to turn to Anthony Salvanto to help us make sense of polling and the science behind those numbers. Now Anthony is sharing his wisdom with everyone in his new book Where Did You Get That Number? And he's going to help unveil the mysteries of polling. Anthony, thank you for taking the time.


MARGARET BRENNAN: It's an interesting read. And-- and you talk with that-- you know, you open with that pivotal moment on the night of the 2016 election when so many people started saying, whoa, the pollsters, they didn't predict this. They-- they got it wrong. What do you think is the biggest misconception, though, about polls?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah, one of them is that. That it's-- that they're predictions. They're not predictions. You know, I don't presume to tell people what they're going to think. My job is to understand what people think now and why they think it. I think too often whether it's in the coverage of polling or even sometimes the way we talk about it we make it sound like we are covering a horse race and we're the scorekeepers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We want the bottom line.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. People just ask, well, who is going to win? As though that single number, the leader in a poll tells you the whole story. Even today if we say, okay, the Democrats are leading in the race for the House. That doesn't mean they are going to win. It means that's where things stand now. And in a lot of ways, I think that's more powerful and a better use of polling, because when people ask how these things work, what they really want to know is who are these people around me? Well, you saw even in the panel where people were talking to each other, and say, well, I didn't know that about you or now I understand you a little bit better. In some ways when we see the polling and people are telling us this is what I think and this is why they think it. Those are the things that people really want to know so our job as pollsters you should judge us, well, you should judge us not on whether we predict the world but on whether we explain it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And people's thinking evolves with events and over time. You put an analogy in the book of polling and your grandmother's Bolognese sauce. Explain that.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. Well, look, pollsters have always said that what we do is try to create a microcosm of the country in our polling samples. And that's how polls work. Because people ask me all the time how do you talk to a thousand or two thousand people and know the whole country? I mean it's counter-intuitive.


ANTHONY SALVANTO: And that's a really good question.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And who are these people?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: And who are they? You know who do you talk to and how do we find them? So the example that I use is, well, you can do this with a sample and, you know, my grandmother used to sit around-- be there on Sundays and she'd make this giant vat of spaghetti sauce. And if we wanted to know how it tasted, it always tasted really good by the way. You know, everybody would get a bowl. And you didn't need to eat the entire vat of spaghetti sauce to know how it tasted. You were sampling it. Well, what's the mechanism behind that? It's that the meatball that you got tasted like the meatballs that you didn't eat from the vat or even the grain of salt were like the other grains of salt. Well, in a polling sample what you're doing is bringing together Republicans and Democrats and people young and old and of every different sort. So when people say, well you didn't call me for the poll, you didn't talk to anyone, you know, about-- you know that I know. Well, we probably talked to somebody like you and somebody who could represent you. If you're a Republican--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --there are millions of other Republicans we could bring in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As we're learning.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: As we're learning. So, you know, there's certain power in that that we can be represented in our views by somebody else who is-- who is like us in the sample.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How honest are people? Do they lie?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: No, they don't lie. And I think because, you know, most people are decent and honest they don't realize how much work it would take to lie. First of all, why would you spend ten minutes on the phone or twenty minutes--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you do talk about a reluctance to sometimes be fully candid about who you're voting for.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, reluctance in the sense of-- and I think this is playing out right now actually in 2018 as well. When we see Republicans today telling us that they are not necessarily voting for a Republican candidate, they are telling us that they are unsure. So they are certainly not lying, they're telling us they haven't made up their mind quite yet. But the way we should read that number even if it's just five or ten percent of them who are saying that, is, we should say, well, they're already conservative and they voted Republican in the past. So is that a group that we shouldn't be surprised if they ultimately come home and vote for Republicans? No. We shouldn't. And that's a way to look at polling as an entire dynamic of telling you what could happen in the world. So when people answer and say that they're not-- that they're unsure we take them at their word but we should also look at other characteristics about them and think, well, what might they do and what else are they going to decide on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Watch them and see which way they swing. And we know you'll be doing that, Anthony, with these upcoming midterms for us. So thank you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. We'll see you next week. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan. 

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