Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on November 4, 2018

Read more transcripts from Face the Nation here.         


JOHN DICKERSON: It's Sunday, November 4th. I am John Dickerson and this is FACE THE NATION. With just two more days until the crucial midterm elections, we are in CBS News election headquarters in New York.

OPRAH WINFREY: You get a vote. And you get a vote. And you get a vote.

CROWD (in unison): You get a vote. And you get a vote. And you get a vote.

JOHN DICKERSON: Candidates are relying on star power in the final push till Election Day.

(Man performing)

JOHN DICKERSON: The most visible reality star isn't on the ballot but is campaigning like he is. According to the White House, President Trump will have campaigned in fifty-three rallies in twenty-three states by Election Day for Republican candidates.

WOMAN: We need people to get off the sidelines. We need people who are with us and with this President.

JOHN DICKERSON: Republican candidates are embracing the President and the strong economy, but those hoping to attract independents are concerned President Trump's campaign of fear and divisiveness will backfire.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A blue wave would equal a crime wave, very simple.

JOHN DICKERSON: It's a strategy that's prompted a former President to publicly push back.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What we have not seen the way we're seeing right now is politicians just blatantly, repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly lie.

JOHN DICKERSON: We'll have a new CBS News Battleground Tracker previewing where the race for the House stands and tell you what to look for on Election Day. Plus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will join us to preview the administration's plan for resuming sanctions on Iran. We'll hear from Democratic Senator Mark Warner about what Democrats are hoping for going into the election, and Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel will also be here.

We'll have plenty of political analysis all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We are going to get right to it. Our big story today, what's going to happen in Tuesday's midterm election? For that we turn to CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. Anthony, one of the busiest men in the building right now. Let's start. You've done a survey of the House races. What does it show?

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys/@SalvantoCBS): Yeah. We have been tracking race by race across all four thirty-five, especially in the competitive districts. The Democrats go into Tuesday in position to take control, even if narrowly, so right now they would get to two twenty-five. That's just a few seats over the two eighteen that they would need to win. There's a margin of error on that estimate, and that leaves a very plausible scenario in which Republicans retain control of the House. The story on that is not just statistical, it's political. It's what happens if the Democrats don't get the turnout that they need and they don't get enough crossover voting.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let's go to those two scenarios. First scenario is the one where Democratic hopes are dashed. They don't get to-- they don't take the twenty-three seats away from Republicans. What has happened if that is the outcome on Tuesday?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: The Democrats are relying on this kind of cocktail, which is a heavy amount of turnout, new voters, people who haven't shown up in midterms before with a dash of persuasion, and that's a few, it's less than one in ten, people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, going over and voting for a Democrat for the House this year. If most of them come back to the Republican Party the Republicans hold the House, the Democrats fall short.

JOHN DICKERSON: And if Republicans hold the House Democrats will need a cocktail. Let's go now to the outcome where Democrats have a big night. What has then happened in the electorate for that to happen?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, they've gotten that turnout, and some of the early voting indicates that they might, and then they have gotten more independents to swing over towards them. Remember, they're aiming at some of that crossover and persuading some more independents. If that happens, then they get up into the two-thirties-- two thirty-two in our best estimate on that big night for the Democrats. But in either case, it will probably be a late night, John, before we know.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, finally, as if we didn't have enough complexity, there is some sense the weather might play a role on Tuesday. What do you-- what do you know?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, we talk about turnout. It means that people might have to stand out there in some tough conditions. It looks like the weather forecast across the Midwest is pretty tough. It looks like there are severe storms down across even into Virginia and the-- the Mid-Atlantic there. So we'll see. A lot of those states don't early vote. Some of them, they had-- they need Election-Day turnout. So that could be a factor.

JOHN DICKERSON: Oh, wow. Okay. Anthony, we'll see you later in the broadcast. Thank you.

We turn now to Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Today, he's in Wytheville, Virginia, getting ready to go canvass for Democrats in Virginia, including his colleague Tim Kaine. Good morning, Senator. You're going to be knocking on doors, what is your pitch?

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D-Virginia/@MarkWarner): Good morning, John. Well, my pitch is this election people need to get out and vote. If they are concerned about what's going on in Washington, if they're concerned about a President that doesn't act very presidential when we see moments of crisis over the last few weeks, they need to have their votes counted. And, frankly, even folks who may agree that the economy is going pretty good, I think many, many people realize we need a check on this President and we've seen evidence of that in the last three weeks when this President was not able to bring the country together after the shootings or the bombing attempts. We saw it when the President, you know, kind of randomly said that he could override the Constitution with a stroke of a pen. People know that we have rule of law in this country. And then in the last couple of days, where he said that he's going to take fifteen thousand of our military troops, take them out of Iraq and Afghanistan, no plan, move them to the border and then allow those troops to fire on kids who might be throwing stones.

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

SENATOR MARK WARNER: That's pretty remarkable, I think, and, again--

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

SENATOR MARK WARNER: --this President-- just one last point, John, I don't think he understands that words matter. In the last forty-eight hours in Nigeria, troops shot on students throwing rocks and they-- they turned to President Trump's words as a-- a vindication.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, let me come back here at home, the jobs report on Friday--

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: --was even better than forecasters expected. Employers added two hundred and fifty thousand jobs. Unemployment rate is 3.7. Wages grew 3.1 percent. They haven't been doing that. If we focus on the James Carville maxim, "it's the economy, stupid," you named a couple, a lot of things but the economy is strong. Why should people want to change course, accepting all the things you said, why would they want to change course with the economy humming like this?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Because I think one thing people realize is that we're in a-- a sense riding a sugar high from a two-trillion-dollar tax cut that was unpaid for. Now the economy is doing pretty well right now, I grant that. I think the hangover is going to be pretty bad as we go into next year, but we can debate that later. What I think people are concerned about is they're concerned about this President that, frankly, even if you agree that the economy is going well, that we need to have some level of check on him. The founders set up a system of checks and balance. We got a President in Donald Trump that is--

JOHN DICKERSON: But-- but--

SENATOR MARK WARNER: --totally unchecked at this point. And rule of law and, frankly, America's standing in the world is being undermined.

JOHN DICKERSON: I want to ask you about election security, but, quickly, on the Intelligence Committee report, your own report. Do you think that's going to come out before the end of the year?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: That's my hope. We've still got a number of individuals that we have to see. Many of the ones who, frankly, pled already out with Mueller, we need to see some of these are principles. But I want this to be done because at the end of the day, the American public needs to know, not only what happened in 2016 in terms of Russian interference, but how we're better prepared to make sure it never happens again.

JOHN DICKERSON: On this election security question, how secure will the elections be on Tuesday?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, John, I think we've made great progress, particularly, at the individual polling stations and in the tabulation of votes. So, I think people should go out and vote with confidence. I am concerned that this White House, though, has, frankly, held back. We've got a broadly based bipartisan election security bill that I think would have gotten ninety votes in the Senate that would have made sure that every polling station had a paper ballot to audit after the fact if there was ever any kind of intervention. And, unfortunately, the White House stopped that legislation.

JOHN DICKERSON: Are you expecting any kind of an attack on Tuesday, what would that even look like, and is the U.S. in a position to respond?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I think we are much better. DHS has been work-- doing a very good job in terms of working with individual election registrars. The fact that we have a federal, state, and local circumstance and election means that these are lots of different lines of control. But there is a good cooperative relationship. I think it would have been better if, in the aftermath of 2016, this White House, after that kind of attack, would have actually appointed someone in charge of election security. Unfortunately, Mister Trump has not done that. Matter of fact he even eliminated the position of cybersecurity at the White House, which I think is a totally wrong move because where we're potentially vulnerable is the ability of Russia or some other foreign actor to either break into some of the voter files at the-- at the kind of, at the national level or at the vendor level. And then also what I am more concerned about is a flood of fake accounts or fake manipulation through social media, where again we've made some progress. But the companies have not moved as far as they need to move.

JOHN DICKERSON: Fin-- finally, Senator, quickly, you received a briefing this week on the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Following that, you said there is enough evidence for Congress to act, even if the President doesn't. What kind of action are you expecting Congress to take?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, first of all, John, I've not received that full briefing. The whole Gang of Eight will, but I believe that it is, that the evidence that the Turks have pointed out, that Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate and frankly, John, I don't think under President Reagan, under President Bush, or Obama, or Clinton, that any so-called ally would have taken that kind of action because they know America, at that point, stood for a free press and human rights. Again, the President's words matter, and I think that you're seeing our so-called allies take pretty unusual actions. I think Congress will act, whether it's cut back on arms sales, whether it's looking in terms of some of our nuclear accords, I do think there is an opportunity here and I commend Secretary Pompeo and Mattis for trying to urge the Saudi Arabians to end this brutal war in Yemen. And if there is an opportunity in this moment to get that done that would be a step forward.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Senator Warner, we thank you so much for being with us.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Thank you, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be back in a moment. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: We want to go now to the State Department Diplomatic Room in Washington and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mister Secretary, I want to start with the sanctions that will be re-imposed this week on Iran. A number of European countries do business with Iran. The President had formally said anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States. So, can European allies expect they will not be doing business with the United States?

MIKE POMPEO (Secretary of State/@SecPompeo): Well, John, good morning. That's right. The European companies will not be permitted to do business with both the United States and with Iran, frankly, since May since the President's announcement of withdrawal from the ill-fated agreement. European companies have fled Iran in great numbers. Hundreds of businesses have departed Iran. The whole world understands that these sanctions are real that they are important that they drive the Iranian people's opportunity to make the changes in Iran that they so desperately want and stop Iran from having the wealth and money that they need to continue to foment terror around the world.

JOHN DICKERSON: But it's the companies that won't be doing business not the countries themselves. In other words they won't be punished if any company doing business in Iran--the country won't be punished.

MIKE POMPEO: That's right. These-- these sanctions apply to those who conduct sanctionable transactions. The Treasury has a set of sanctions. The State Department has its own set of sanctions and those will all come back into place on Monday of this week and they'll be the toughest sanctions ever placed against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

JOHN DICKERSON: The President put out a poster of himself and said sanctions are coming. What was that about?

MIKE POMPEO: Yeah, he was putting the world on notice that the terror regime which threatens Israel through Iranian funding of Lebanese Hezbollah. That the terror regime that attempted to conduct an assassination in Denmark over the past few weeks that the terror regime that continues to fund the Houthis launching missiles into Riyadh and into Dubai. That's going to stop. That behavior must change and sanctions from the United States will be reimposed at midnight tonight.

JOHN DICKERSON: What if they restart their nuclear program in Iran?

MIKE POMPEO: We're confident that the Iranians will not-- not make that decision.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question about North Korea. You have talks this week. North Korea is saying they might restart their nuclear program if the U.S. does not start lifting sanctions. Is it still the U.S. position that North Korea will not see any economic sanctions lift until there is complete denuclearization?

MIKE POMPEO: So, John I will-- I'll be in New York City at the end of this week meeting with my counterpart Kim Yong-chol, I expect we'll make some real progress, including an effort to make sure that the summit between our two leaders can take place where we can make substantial steps towards denuclearization. John, we have to remember and the American people need to remember the North Koreans haven't launched a missile, haven't conducted a nuclear test. They allowed the return of American remains. We have had success in just the handful of months since this past June and we continue to make good progress. I'm confident that we'll advance the ball again this week when I'm in New York City.

JOHN DICKERSON: Mister Secretary, you said that-- that North Korea will not see any economic sanctions lifted until it has demonstrated complete denuclearization. Is that still your position?

MIKE POMPEO: It is not only complete denuclearization, but our capacity to verify that that has taken place--

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

MIKE POMPEO: --is also a prerequisite to lifting economic sanctions.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the-- the caravan at the U.S. southern border. General Colin Powell said, "I see no threat requiring that this kind of deployment," he is referring there to the deployment of troops from the Pentagon. Retired General Martin Dempsey said, "It was a wasteful deployment of overstretched soldiers and Marines." What's your response?

MIKE POMPEO: It's a problem that's gone on too long. President Trump is determined to ensure that we have sovereignty of America at our southern border and that we protect our American border. As a Secretary of State, I-- I've been very involved in working with the governments in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and certainly the government of Mexico, and I've also had the chance to speak with the incoming government that is now twenty-six days out from taking power in Mexico. We've made clear to them they need to undertake every effort that they can to stop this illegal migration from entering the United States, and the President's made very clear they will not be permitted to enter our country unlawfully. If they want to come here--

JOHN DICKERSON: The charge--

MIKE POMPEO: --legally, if they want to come here lawfully, that's-- that's the American tradition. It's the American way. We continue to be the most generous nation in the world, with respect to immigration--

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

MIKE POMPEO: -- but illegal immigration will not be permitted.

JOHN DICKERSON: The charge here, Mister Secretary, is that the President is thinking about this in political terms and that's why he's done this deployment. All of this rhetoric this week, do you think he thinks about it in political terms, this caravan, and how it might benefit the Republicans?

MIKE POMPEO: I've been involved in scores of conversations about stopping illegal immigration from Mexico and-- and never once has there been a discussion of the political impact in U.S. domestic politics. It has always--

JOHN DICKERSON: Then, Mister Secretary--

MIKE POMPEO: --been about securing the safety of the American people and securing our southern border.

JOHN DICKERSON: So if that's never happened why then did the President in a rally said, speaking about the caravan, did they energize our base or what?

MIKE POMPEO: President's been trying diligently to get our foolish immigration laws changed since he took office. He talked about this, this campaign. Many of the challenges we face today with illegal immigration are because we have a set of rules, a set of laws that don't allow us to fully secure that southern border. The President is working through the proper process, the Constitution political process to make those changes to the laws, and he is very hopeful, I think, that when Congress returns in January there will be a Congress prepared to support his efforts to secure--

JOHN DICKERSON: But you would agree--

MIKE POMPEO: --our southern border. That's completely appropriate.

JOHN DICKERSON: You would agree that the President thinks this is a benefit for his base, which he says has been energized by this caravan and his response to it. So, it seems like he does see it as a political benefit.

MIKE POMPEO: As the Secretary of State, I want to talk about American national security. We are determined to secure the southern border, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay, I'll take that lack of response as a yes. Final question, Mister Secretary, is on Saudi Arabia. You-- you are waiting for more investigation on the death of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, what more needs to be answered?

MIKE POMPEO: Still have lots of work to do to figure out the full range of persons that need to be held accountable. We're working with the Turkish government, with the Saudi government, and with anyone else who has relevant facts for us to be able to determine all of those who were responsible for this atrocious murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which the Saudis themselves now acknowledge was premeditated. We need to get to the bottom of it. We need to find out who was responsible, hold them accountable and do all of this, John, while protecting the enormously important strategic interest the United States maintains with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We be-- we began our conversation about Iran--the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been an important partner for the United States in attempting to change the behavior of the world's largest state sponsor of terror from that Islamic republic.

JOHN DICKERSON: Very briefly, is it still possible the Crown Prince could be involved in this?

MIKE POMPEO: We're going to chase the facts wherever they go--

JOHN DICKERSON: All right.

MIKE POMPEO: --and we're going to hold accountable each of those who we find responsible.

JOHN DICKERSON: Mister Secretary, we're very grateful. Thanks so much for being with us.

MIKE POMPEO: Thank you, John. Have a good day.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to the head of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel who joins us this morning from RNC headquarters in Washington. Welcome, Madam Chairman. The Republicans I know you think are going to have a good day on Tuesday. So, if they do why will they have had a good day?

RONNA MCDANIEL (Republican National Committee Chair/@GOPChairwoman): Well, it's about the results and we just saw on Friday the great job numbers that two hundred and fifty thousand jobs were added to the economy on average in 2018. We've added two hundred and eighteen thousand jobs a month that wages grew over three percent for the first time in a decade. And we've delivered on-- on things that we've ran on, taking on the opioid crisis, funding our military, taking care of our veterans. So we have a record of results and the Democrats have a record of resistance and obstruction and they're not putting forward ideas or a vision for this country. So, I think that's why voters when they go to the polls are going to put Republicans back in the majority.

JOHN DICKERSON: Included in the list you just gave there was not what the President has been focused on in an ad that he released this week that had in it a Mexican cop killer. What did you-- what was the message of that ad?

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, I think the point is the President's a problem solver and we have this caravan headed towards our country. We have an immigration policy that is not working for our country and it's time for-- for-- once and for all for Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve our immigration problem. And we need comprehensive immigration reform. The President is leading on this issue. We haven't heard anything from the Democrats and I think that ad along with the issues at the border that we're seeing with these caravans continuing to grow, with asylum claims up seventeen hundred percent in the past eight years. We have an issue and we have to solve it. And the President's a problem solver. He takes on issues he doesn't kick them down the road.

JOHN DICKERSON: That was not the message that members of your own party took from that ad. Let me quote just a few. Senator Jeff Flake called it sickening. The former Republican chairman of Florida said the President by running this ad was a despicable divider. John Kasich, Ohio governor, said, "All Americans should reject this ad and its motives." So, as Republican chair are you proud of that ad?

RONNA MCDANIEL: I think it's disgusting what this man did that he came into our country illegally twice that he wasn't deported and-- and-- and prevented from ever coming back to this country. And he killed two police. This is one instance. It is something that should alarm every American. We do not want to see this continue. We know that the vast majority of the people coming to this country are seeking economic opportunity. But we have a system that has failed that this criminal came into our country twice and was able to kill police. And that is what--

JOHN DICKERSON: Disgusting in--

RONNA MCDANIEL: --is sickening and disgusting to me. And that's what everybody should be focusing on how do we prevent this from happening again. The President's--

JOHN DICKERSON: right--

RONNA MCDANIEL: --putting forward an immigration plan saying let's get rid of the visa lottery let's get rid of the chain migration. Let's focus on merit based immigration-- merit-based immigration and let's strengthen our borders. Where are the Democrats? They've been silent on this caravan. We need a-- a comprehensive immigration reform.

JOHN DICKERSON: So, I just don't want to mistake what you said, though. So-- you didn't mention whether you were proud or not of the ad. You've got Republicans in your own party saying it's sickening, seeks to characterize a whole group of people by the disgusting awful actions of one. And so I just want to-- from a-- in a moral point as the Chair of the party--

RONNA MCDANIEL: I disagree with their assessment.

DICKERSON: --where do you--

RONNA MCDANIEL: I disagree--

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

RONNA MCDANIEL: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

RONNA MCDANIEL: I disagree with that--

JOHN DICKERSON: So, you dis--

RONNA MCDANIEL: --assessment. I think the ad is highlighting the fact that one individual got through the cracks and killed cops. That should make every American upset and we need to fix our immigration system. And the President's leading the way. Just like he has with deregulation and tax cuts and all the things that have gotten our economy humming because that's why Americans put a businessman in the White House. They wanted a problem solver; they wanted somebody who got things done at a quicker pace--

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

RONNA MCDANIEL: --than the--

JOHN DICKERSON: --Let me ask--

RONNA MCDANIEL: --regular Washington bureaucracy. And, once again, he's tackling a tough issue and Democrats are nowhere to be found.

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay, Madam Chairwoman, that's all the time we have.

Be sure to join us Tuesday on CBS for CBS News campaign coverage. CBSN will begin our coverage at 5:00 PM Eastern. CBS News prime time coverage begins at 8:00 PM.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back. We will be back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

We'll have Ed O'Keefe, our political correspondent, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, and, of course, Anthony Salvanto will be here with the Battleground Tracker poll numbers. Anthony, give us a taste. The top-line number in the House you think will be what based on the survey as it looks now?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Two twenty-five D.

JOHN DICKERSON: Two twenty-five Democrats--

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Two twenty-five Democrats.

JOHN DICKERSON: --which means they would have control of the House if it works out that way.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: By a narrow margin.

JOHN DICKERSON: By a narrow margin.

Ed, do you think-- what-- what's your assessment of that?

ED O'KEEFE: That-- that-- it-- it seems to be heading in that direction but it is going to be close. You've said it repeatedly for months, as long as Democrats turn out people who don't normally vote in midterm elections, they can do it. They don't show up, they're going to come up short.

AMY WALTER: Right. Same thing. Although what we noticed is the closest races. Anthony looks at a lot of these. They tend to break all one way at the very end, so we could see a big wave for a very few number of seats.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We're going to talk a lot more about the wave, its size, and its color, so stay with us. Don't go away. We'll have a lot more FACE THE NATION coming right up.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. From CBS News Election Headquarters in New York, for a look at the political landscape in these final two days, we'd like to welcome Amy Walter, Ed O'Keefe, and Anthony Salvanto. Anthony, let's start with you. Okay, so we've talked about this two twenty-five for Democrats. So what else inside those numbers, let's talk first about say young voters, right? So this is an important part of the Democratic Coalition. What are your numbers showing about their participation and also your survey numbers, but also what we've learned from the early vote?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: What we've learned from the early vote is that it has gotten younger compared to past midterms. Question would be, is it young enough? And that so far seems like it is not, yet, young enough. So there will be some factor in turnout coming into Election Day. Look, big picture--in the polling, the Democrats are highly dependent on people who say that they have not voted in midterms before and that's going to be about twenty percent of their vote if those polls are born out on Election Day. If those folks don't show up, we've rerun the models, and the Republicans hold the House. Republicans, you know, hold the House. Dems only get to two fifteen, a little gain but not close enough.

JOHN DICKERSON: Amy, there's been a lot of showing up going on, it's not just on Election Day, not just with early vote but there's been checks written by people, there have been special elections. So how do you see the electorate shaping up based on that longer history?

AMY WALTER (Cook Political Report/@amyewalter/The Takeaway): Well, that longer history is what brought Democrats to this moment. Their enthusiasm gap that they had for much of 2017 and 2018 allowed them to do the following things--one, they got a lot of candidates who announced that they were going to run for Congress in places they've never competed in before, so they expanded the playing field from what looked like early in 2017 it was going to be twenty-five or thirty seats to about sixty seats now that Republicans hold where Democrats are competitive. And the second thing--and this is very important now--of course, is the money. I have never seen so much money going to House candidates, and it is going to those candidates directly. It's not just the campaign committees or the big names that are getting these dollars. These-- these are candidates who, two years ago, never thought they were going to run for Congress. And now they're sitting on three, four million-dollar war chests. That has kept Democrats not just competitive in some of these places but in many places they are outraising and they are running more ads than the Republicans who are the incumbents. That doesn't happen in a normal election.

JOHN DICKERSON: And as I know from reading Amy Walter is that in the last quarter of fund-raising, a hundred and twelve Republican-held seats, Democrats outraised them--

AMY WALTER: That's right.

JOHN DICKERSON: --which means it's broad.

AMY WALTER: That's right. And it's keeping them in the game in a lot of these places where, quite frankly, looking at the numbers they probably would have been knocked out, Democrats would have, because these districts are not easy. They are Republican-leaning districts.

JOHN DICKERSON: So, Ed, they are Republican-leaning districts. The Republicans hold them. Incumbents have an advantage on Election Day. So what's holding the Republicans together?

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Well, I think about the people I talked to on Friday in Indiana with the President. You ask them, what is this election about? An open-ended question, leave it up to them. Every single person in line I talked to said immigration. They are concerned about this caravan that's coming and security issues generally. And-- and-- and--

JOHN DICKERSON: A caravan that's eight hundred miles away, still. Yeah.

ED O'KEEFE: It's more than eight hundred miles away and that is mostly women and children. And, you know, if it's not that, it's just security generally and how the identity and the fabric of the country may change as people like that are allowed to get in. But I-- you know, you've talked to Democrats. And-- and when I was in Wisconsin, I talked to a woman who has devoted hours of her time to manning an office in Milwaukee, and I said, "Why do you do this?" And she said, "Well, it's very simple. I want to protect my Obamacare." You go gown to Waukesha County, a few miles away, and you talk to a Republican woman doing the exact same thing and Valerie (ph) told me, "It's because I want to be proud of my country again." So, again, issues of identity and security for Republicans, domestic issues of concern like health care for Democrats across the country.

AMY WALTER: I-- oh, can I ask--

JOHN DICKERSON: Go ahead.

AMY WALTER: I'll jump in on demographics. And Anthony can jump in with me, too. You're right, the Democrats have-- you know, they always have this demographic aspiration that doesn't necessarily--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: --turn up at the polls.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

AMY WALTER: But Republicans have a demographic challenge in midterms, too, which is the base, for Donald Trump, are-- yes, they're older and whiter, but they tend not to have higher levels of education. And those voters also don't tend to show up in a midterm election year So what Trump is doing right now in ginning up the base, we talk a lot about who he needs to get out the vote, it's those voters who he had turn out for him in 2016 who most likely would sit out a midterm election.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, Anthony, let me-- build on this, but let me add one more thing to it, which is there are those who wear the red make-- Make America Great hats again, they go to the rallies, they show up in force. There was a part of the Republican Coalition in 2016 now who said, "Not quite so sure about Donald Trump, but I really don't like Hillary Clinton." That-- that helped motivate the Republican vote. Where are those voters in this-- in this question on Tuesday?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: And that's where to the extent there is crossover, that's where it's coming from. We have seen, we have talked about all fall these voters who say the economy is good, give the President credit for the economy, and, yet, say they are unsatisfied with the direction of the country. That's a surprising split. And they are trending towards the Democrats. And, you know, again, the-- the picture of these districts, when we get to election night, we start talking about this place that place, they are going to be suburban districts. There's going to be an argument going on about what the Republican Party looks like now. These districts were carved out for the Republicans of ten years ago. But the Republican Party since then has gotten a little less diverse in terms of demographics, a little bit more rural and a little bit more working class. Do they still fit into these districts, can they still win them? It's going to be sort of an overarching theme on election night.

AMY WALTER: Yep.

JOHN DICKERSON: In-- a-- a fact that it was in a Harris Poll this week I found interesting, they asked Republicans, "Do you consider yourself to be more a supporter of Donald Trump or more a supporter of the Republican Party?" Forty-six percent said Donald Trump. The party and chairwoman McDaniel, well, one of like this, is just at--

AMY WALTER: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: --twenty-five percent. So this is Donald Trump's party.

AMY WALTER: This is Donald Trump's party and it's his election. And-- and you have to remark about just how amazing it is that we've gotten to this point. If we go back to 2015 and look at Donald Trump's favorable ratings among Republicans in 2015, something around forty percent.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: Now he has in the last Gallup poll, I think, an eighty-nine-percent approval rating from Republicans. That's what makes this election also so different from traditional midterms is that, normally, what happens in a mid-term, the party that's in the White House, less motivated to turn out than the party out. They're not as excited about their candidate as they were in the presidential. This year Republicans are united around him in a way we didn't see with Obama in 2010, and they're more motivated to vote than say Republicans were in 2006.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: And not only is the President on the ballot, which is to say it on voters' minds, in larger numbers than typical in midterms but the number saying they want to support him is larger than it's been in typical midterms. Often, the opposition number outweighs--

AMY WALTER: Mm-Hm.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: --the four number in terms of, is the President a factor in your vote?

JOHN DICKERSON: Ed, women, okay, both on the ballot and as voters, what's your take of what we should think-- be looking for on Tuesday?

ED O'KEEFE: I think either way we are going to see more women elected into Congress, which actually changes the governing dynamic come January. You may see as many as, I think, twenty-six women elected to the Senate--that would be a record high. You'll see an increase certainly in the Democratic ranks. But based on projections right now, there is a good chance that the number of House Republican women will be so depleted that they are down to, like, two hands, basically, which is an embarrassing low in a year where so many women are anticipated to vote, not only in the suburbs but really all across the country.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Thanks very much, Ed. Amy is going to stick with us. Anthony, you'll be just at the table for now until Thursday or something, I think.

Anyway, don't go away. We'll be right back with our political panel.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: And we're back with our political panel. Amy Walter is with the Cook Political Report, Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist, Shawna Thomas is the Washington Bureau chief at Vice News, and Nancy Cordes is our CBS News chief congressional correspondent. She spent most of the week in Florida and Georgia on the campaign trail. We're glad to have you in one place for us here, Nancy.

NANCY CORDES (CBS News Chief Congressional Correspondent/@nancycordes): Glad to be here.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ben, I want to start with you. The chairwoman of the Republican Party did not want to touch that ad run by the President's campaign with a twenty-foot pole. So that's one thing, which you can address, but also it represents two closing messages here.

BEN DOMENECH (The Federalist/@bdomenech): Mm-Hm.

JOHN DICKERSON: Chairwoman McDaniel wants to talk about the economy and the strong numbers. The President wants to talk about something else.

BEN DOMENECH: You know it's really telling that this is the closing weekend of campaign season. The President just got all these great numbers in terms of the economic reports that came out. We have wage growth that we haven't seen in, you know, more than a decade in terms of the experience of the American economy, and, yet, that doesn't seem to be the thing that he wants to talk about at all. It's not the thing that Republicans are really talking about. This is an election that, for them, is a base election. And-- and what they know is that-- that what gets their base out there and excited and ramped up is questions of security, questions of toughness--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

BEN DOMENECH: --questions of law and order, and not, "Hey, you've got 3.1-percent wage growth."

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

SHAWNA THOMAS (Vice News/@Shawna): Don't you have the same exact problem on the other side, which is when you hear an ad like that, when you hear some of the things the President says, "People who are black, Hispanic are saying this sounds a little bit racist to me, and that can gin people up on the Democratic side, too?"

JOHN DICKERSON: And not only that, you had Republicans saying, "This sounds racist to me."

SHAWNA THOMAS: That's also the case.

JOHN DICKERSON: So it wasn't even-- I mean it was extraordinary to see so many Republicans come out and just straight up say this was a racist appeal. Anthony, you've been-- sorry, I'm used to having Anthony to my left, Nancy, you've been out there.

NANCY CORDES: Yep.

JOHN DICKERSON: We shape this race in a lot of ways. But-- but out in the-- in the real world, what are you seeing? How much are Democrats being-- talking about health care and not taking the bait on some of these values issues, or what just-- what-- what are you seeing?

NANCY CORDES: Health care is huge. In fact, over the course of this election Democrats have spent about ninety million dollars on ads about health care. They think that this is the winning issue. Obamacare is much more popular now than it was even a few years ago. At this point, everyone knows someone with a pre-existing condition who is getting coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. Everyone watched Republicans fund-- fumble this issue last year when suddenly they had the opportunity to come up with a plan that was panned by most health care groups, and people are worried about protections for people with pre-existing conditions going away. Democrats believe that that is going to be a motivating factor for enough voters, and some of the polling bears that out.

JOHN DICKERSON: Shawna, there's-- the Democrats have shown a-- a remarkable-- I think of Will Rogers' line: "I'm a-- I'm not a member of an organized party, I'm a Democrat"-- shown amazing discipline on sticking to the health care message despite the efforts by the President and the press to pull them on to something else. Do you see it that way?

SHAWNA THOMAS: I see it a little bit that way. I think one of the things that's been interesting to me is I was in Idaho, which is not a bastion of Democratic politics I understand last week. But Medicaid expansion is on the ballot.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

SHAWNA THOMAS: And even with conservatives, they seem to be going in the direction of voting for entrenching Obamacare within Idaho. And while that doesn't mean like there will suddenly be a Democratic governor of Idaho that does mean there is something to that health care message that speaks to a lot of people and Democrats know that. In some of-- in some of these swing districts, that could help them turn some of the Republicans their way possibly.

AMY WALTER: And it's also why the issue about the economy and the tax cuts isn't getting as much traction, not just from the President but even in some of these congressional races, because what you hear from voters, a lot is that's great, maybe have a little more money, but you know what I am spending it on? My prescription drugs or I am spending it on my health care costs. The-- the cost of living is going higher than what I am getting in in my salary or whatever I got from the tax cut. And so it's a very difficult message for Republicans to sort of nuance this discussion about how great the economy is with people who are actually worrying about the most salient thing in their life and the thing they probably spend the most money on other than food, which is their health care.

NANCY CORDES: I was down in Florida this week talking to Carlos Curbelo, who is in one of these classic swing districts in Florida. He said that he wishes the President would talk more about the economy. I mean we've got-- we're 3.7 percent unemployment. We haven't seen a level that low since Lyndon Johnson. But the President himself admitted this week, it's boring to talk about the economy. He'd rather gin people up and talk about immigration. And that is really difficult for a Republican like Curbelo in a swing district.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and that's why he said that caravan really ginned up our base--

NANCY CORDES: Mm-Hm.

JOHN DICKERSON: --when he was in his rally. Ben, let me-- Mike Coffman, sixth district of Colorado, another one of those tough seats.

BEN DOMENECH: Mm-Hm.

JOHN DICKERSON: He-- one of his strategists said, "In the last week, the President has behaved like a guy trying to build a permanent political majority in the Ozarks. The purposeful provocation on immigration just makes an already grim situation in the suburbs even more difficult." Is this a President running in a kind of Senate, save the Senate strategy which-- but-- but-- which hurts in these suburban districts that Shawna was talking about?

BEN DOMENECH: Absolutely. And I think that that's because the Senate matters more to the President than a lot of these different House members, many of whom he doesn't even know. You know he doesn't-- he doesn't have a relationship with them. He knows who Jon Tester is, he knows who Heidi Heitkamp is, and he knows who Claire McCaskill is, and he dislikes them and he wants to see them out. And so that's the reason that he is using the kind of approach that he has. But I think Republicans need to keep in mind, you know, one of the real things we're going to learn in this midterm is how effective the President's strategy is in comparison to the approach that President Obama used. The problem with President Obama was that when he was on the ballot, his team came out. His base came out. They showed up. This is now President Trump trying to figure out whether he can do the same thing, you know, in-- in an election when he's not on the ballot, which was the same problem that was a real challenge during the Obama years for other Democrats.

JOHN DICKERSON: In-- in the exit polls in 2010, Democrats did not come out for President Obama to defend him in the way that our polls show that Republicans are coming to defend Donald Trump.

BEN DOMENECH: Mm-Hm.

AMY WALTER: Yeah. And that's where that low propensity voter that I talked about earlier with Anthony, especially these voters on the Republican side, they came out for Donald Trump, don't traditionally come out, an issue like the economy, that's not going to motivate them get-- to get out to vote. On immigration, that's going to be the tissue.

BEN DOMENECH: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: The question, though, in my mind, too, is there are sort of these different tiers of seats--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: --that I'm going to be watching on election night. There is the tier that we talk about those suburban districts, especially those suburban districts that Hillary Clinton carried, Northern Virginia suburbs, Philadelphia suburbs, thankfully, a lot of these are on East Coast time, for those of us on the East Coast--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: --we can watch these come in. New Jersey. But there are-- the districts I am most interested actually are the ones that President Obama carried--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: --but then Trump carried, right?

JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.

AMY WALTER: Those districts like, for example, in Maine, another East Coast state, big--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. Sure, Maine, too.

AMY WALTER: Maine, too. It's a big, big-- has Democratic DNA. This is a la-- labor stronghold there. Been voting for Democrats forever, but like so much of working class America moved to Trump in 2016. Where did those voters go in 2018? That's going to tell us, first of all, whether Democrats have a great night or just an okay night, and also what it means about this Trump coalition. Do they show up only when Trump's on the ballot, or have they also decided they're not as enamored with Trump in some of these places that have Democratic DNA than in some of the other parts of the country like the South.

NANCY CORDES: And, look, let's face it, I mean Democrats have almost nowhere to go but up. Republicans have a near-historic majority in the House right now.

AMY WALTER: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

NANCY CORDES: They've picked up sixty-three seats back in 2010.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

NANCY CORDES: They added to it after that. So if Democrats don't pick up seats--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: Right.

NANCY CORDES: --on Tuesday night, then the party has even bigger problems than I thought.

JOHN DICKERSON: And the historic anomaly. Hold these-- these thoughts. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with more from our panel.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: And we're back with more from our panel. Shawna, you have been looking at the 25th district in California.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Why?

SHAWNA THOMAS: Well, basically, one, Vice News has been following Katie Hill around since February to, like, track how a congressional campaign works. But what's interesting is this is one of those districts that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but-- and elected a Republican congressman. It is an incredibly tight race. And it's gotten tighter in the last few weeks. And it doesn't seem like it's because of health care, it doesn't seem like it's because of immigration or race-baiting. It seems like it's because there's a gas tax repeal on the ballot. And these are people who live forty, fifty miles from L.A. Proper. They vote on their pocketbooks. It's actually kind of standard politics, which I have to admit, I was kind of happy to see.

JOHN DICKERSON: Sure.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yes, re-- regular old politics out there.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Exactly. Your pocketbook and gas.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: Exactly. Nancy, what are you going to be looking for on Tuesday night?

NANCY CORDES: Well, I'm watching for a couple of things. First of all, women, I think that that's going to be really fascinating. I mean, anecdotally, we see that women particularly educated women have been turned off by some of the things that President Trump has to say. They were turned off by the Kavanaugh nomination spectacle. Are they really, you know, moving towards the Democratic Party or, you know, do they come home at the end of the day? I-- I think for me another thing is-- is-- is independent voters and whether President Trump really is the kryptonite to independent voters that we've seen in some of the polling recently. And then, finally, this split between the House and the Senate. I mean it's very possible that even if Democrats take control of the House they could lose a seat or two in the Senate, and what does that mean for the balance of power in Washington and the ability of Congress to get anything done over the next two years.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ben, do you think that Republicans are taking lessons from what the President is doing and maybe the lessons we'll all be determined by the final outcome. But let's say Republicans have a better night, what will Republicans see from the President's strategy here at the end? I mean, you know, what learnings will they take from that going forward?

BEN DOMENECH: Well, I think there will be, frankly, one of the lessons they'll take is that it doesn't-- it doesn't help to sort of shy away from cultural war. I think the President has really, you know, wrapped his arms around the cultural war in America in a way that we haven't seen a politician do before in the modern era. And I think that the lesson that a lot of different Republican politicians are taking away from that is that this is something that they should be eager for. In terms of what I am kind of going to be looking at, the early on in the-- in the night I think we're going to know how big of a wave we are going to see. Thanks to some of the kind of pairs of seats in some of these early East Coast states. I looked at something like Virginia 5 and Virginia 7, if both of those goes-- go to Democrats, then that means that we're probably in for a blue tidal wave. And, historically, that is I think what we should expect to happen in this-- in this election. We should expect it to break in the direction of Democrats--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

BEN DOMENECH: --and break in that way significantly. On the flip side I look at a state like Florida, and-- and anticipating the kind of historical ticket splitting that you've seen there could easily result in a situation where, perhaps, Rick Scott wins the Senate seat, Andrew Gillum wins the governorship. That's going to be a huge factor in terms of determining things post-the next census and everything else that happens in a state that's critical for the presidential here.

JOHN DICKERSON: You've been down in Florida. You-- what-- what-- what have you noticed in Florida that's different from every other Florida--when we're obsessed with Florida--every other elections that we have?

NANCY CORDES: Well, it's fascinating to have this marquee race, you know, at the top of the ticket this governor's race that is driving, you know, that is driving so much. I think Senator Nelson, for example, would be in much worse shape if he didn't have this incredibly dynamic campaigner at the top of the ballot in Andrew Gillum, who's sort of, you know-- if-- if-- if Nelson does win on Tuesday night, he will have Gillum in part to-- to thank for that. But I-- I would also be very curious to see, you know, some of the-- the strategy for Andrew Gillum for someone like a Stacey Abrams in Georgia, for someone like a Beto O'Rourke in Texas has to do with change-- fundamentally changing the electorate in their states. And they have a lot of confidence that they're doing that. We see some anecdotal signs in early voting that they might be ripe, but it's so-- it's-- it's a peril to reap too much--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yes.

NANCY CORDES: --into early voting. But that is going to be fascinating as well.

SHAWNA THOMAS: I agree.

NANCY CORDES: At the end of the day, did they manage to really change the electorate in their states, bring out hundreds of thousands of new voters, minority voters, who don't typically vote in midterm elections, let alone presidential elections.

AMY WALTER: And that's-- and that's going to set the tone for 2020--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

AMY WALTER: --quite frankly, because for all the talk about what's-- what is the President doing to see if he can get his base out and what lessons are Republicans going to take from this, what lessons are Democrats going to take if they succeed or if they fail about the kind of candidate they need on top of the ticket in 2020.

JOHN DICKERSON: Shawna.

SHAWNA THOMAS: If the lessons from the culture war that you are talking about, the Republicans learned that embracing that works. We also see an amazing turnout of minority voters in Florida and Georgia, Stacey Abrams--

NANCY CORDES: Right.

SHAWNA THOMAS: --Andrew Gillum win, that-- that shows that that culture war may not be a good thing to embrace come 2020.

NANCY CORDES: Mm-Hm.

JOHN DICKERSON: What-- what role do you think the President has played, if at all President Obama, you're talking about?

SHAWNA THOMAS: I mean, he-- you know, I-- I always ask a bunch of Democrats all the time who is the leader of the Democratic Party and, usually, the answer I either get is they don't know who the leader of the Democratic Party is or Barack Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party. The guy who's at the top still, the guy who energizes people is coming out. That reminds people that there is an election. I think that's about the best you can do right now.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ben, what do you make of the Midwest? We have the President doing well there in 2016.

BEN DOMENECH: I like the Midwest.

JOHN DICKERSON: The President doing well there in 2016. People said, oh, the Midwest is changing. But now a lot of Republicans are in trouble.

BEN DOMENECH: You-- you could absolutely see Scott Walker lose I think, you know, on-- on Tuesday, I think you could see a lot of difficulty in parts the Midwest. But back to this culture war point, I think that the fact is you look at a state like Missouri where Claire McCaskill made the calculated judgment to go against Brett Kavanaugh in-- in a similar situation to what was facing Joe Manchin, a state where the President is significantly popular. And that's really, frankly, put Josh Hawley back into a position where he could beat her, where in before it was a race that looked like it might not-- might actually be out of reach for Republicans. This is going to be a very interesting night because there are so many different lessons to take away from it. Democrats are going to be able to take a lesson away of, yes, we resisted, yes, we came back, we took back the House after, you know, having all these years of-- of not being able to be in leadership post, the Obamacare decision. And then Republicans are going to-- I think take a lot of lessons away from which senators they are able to replace if-- if any on the Democratic side. That's going to flow into the decisions they make in 2020 as Amy said about the domination battle.

JOHN DICKERSON: And in 1982, Walter Mondale was on the CBS EVENING NEWS on election night, preparing for his eighty-four race. So 2020 is going to start right on election right.

(Cross talking)

JOHN DICKERSON: I'm just saying that 20--

AMY WALTER: It's already started.

JOHN DICKERSON: That's-- that's what his speech tells us. I can't-- not me. It's history. Thanks to all of you for being with us. And we'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. It's goodbye for me, too. Margaret Brennan will be back at the anchor desk in Washington next Sunday. She's been focusing on the new member of our FACE THE NATION team. That's Eamon. I am John Dickerson. See you tomorrow on CBS THIS MORNING. Thanks so much for watching.