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JOHN DICKERSON: It’s Sunday, October 28th. I am John Dickerson and this is FACE THE NATION. Hatred and horror at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as a gunman goes on an anti-Semitic shooting rampage, killing eleven worshippers and injuring six more in what the Anti-Defamation League believes to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in America’s history.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and, frankly, something that is unimaginable. We must all rise above the hate, move past our divisions; and embrace our common destiny as Americans.
JOHN DICKERSON: But at the end of the week where at least fourteen pipe bombs were sent to critics of President Trump the country is on edge, and Americans are looking for answers and a way to curb the anger and divisions that exist today. We’ll talk with two senators working together on that issue for a while, Oklahoma Republican James Lankford and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons who head up a prayer group in the Senate. We spent time on the campaign trail earlier this month with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik. You’ll hear from them about anger in politics. And with nine days left until the midterm elections, we’ll get an update on three toss-up races in the Senate–Arizona, Florida, and Indiana. Plus, we’ll have analysis on all the news.
That’s all coming up on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. It’s been a grim week in America as hate has led to fear and deadly violence in two separate but horrifying cases. A law enforcement source tells CBS News that Cesar Sayoc, the man accused of sending at least fourteen mail bombs to prominent critics of President Trump, told law enforcement when he was arrested that he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. And that’s why they believe the bombs were not connected to go off. He will be arraigned on Monday in federal court in Florida. In Pittsburgh, officials have just concluded a briefing on the case against Robert Bowers who they say killed eleven and wounded six, including four police officers at a Jewish temple yesterday.
We begin today with CBS News correspondent, Nikki Battiste, who is outside the Tree of Life synagogue and filed this report.
NIKKI BATTISTE (CBS News Correspondent): Authorities just revealed the names of the eleven victims ranging in age from ninety-seven to fifty-four. Among them is Daniel Stein, who is seventy-one years old and had reportedly just become a new grandfather. It’s just been twenty-four hours since Robert Bowers stormed into this synagogue and said to one responding law enforcement officer, I just want to kill Jews.
MAN #1 (Audio From Broadcastify): Hold the perimeter. We’re under fire. We’re under fire. He’s got an automatic weapon he’s firing out of the front of the synagogue.
NIKKI BATTISTE: Armed with three handguns and an assault rifle, authorities say Pittsburgh area resident Robert Bowers opened fire on worshippers Saturday morning, murdering eleven people inside this synagogue, responding officers reached the scene as he was fleeing, and exchanged gunfire with the forty-six-year-old.
MAN #2 (Audio From Broadcastify): Thirty-four-ten, please send the medics up here.
NIKKI BATTISTE: Officers shot Bowers multiple times before he was arrested and taken to a local hospital. He, reportedly, shouted anti-Semitic slurs as he was shooting inside the synagogue and had recently written on his page on the social media platform, Gab, that “Jews are the children of satan.” Investigators said Bowers’ rampage was aimed at Jews specifically.
BOB JONES (FBI Special Agent in Charge): This is the most horrific crime scene I have seen in twenty-two years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, members of the Tree of Life synagogue conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith.
NIKKI BATTISTE: Just hours later, this resilient community mourned the lives lost and prayed for six others injured, including four police officers. Harkey (ph) and Lisa Pollock were part of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.
HARKEY: When you hear names and you hear faces and a– a bit of us all died today, and eleven of our friends and family all died today. And, unfortunately, we’re going to have to live with the ramifications out for the rest of our lives.
NIKKI BATTISTE: Bowers is still in the hospital but is expected to make his first court appearance tomorrow afternoon. He is charged with twenty-nine federal crimes, including violence and firearms offenses. The Department of Justice says the charges could lead to the death penalty. John.
JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. He is a member of the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees and he joins us this morning from Oklahoma City. Good morning, Senator.
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD (R-Oklahoma/@SenatorLankford): Good morning to you.
JOHN DICKERSON: This horrible shooting in Pittsburgh seems to be part of a trend. The act of anti-Semitic violence in the United States have increased fifty-seven percent since between 2016 and 2017, that’s the largest increase ever, why do you think that is?
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD (R-Oklahoma/@SenatorLankford): Yeah. It’s very difficult to be able to tell, obviously, why any person this deranged would step out and do that, or any other person reaching out to be able to press back against people because of their faith. So I think we continue to be able to ask those questions that you’re asking right now, we’ll continue to be able to have dialogue and to be able pushback on anyone who tries to reach out for anyone of a person of faith or race or whatever it might be.
JOHN DICKERSON: One of the things that the shooter in this horrible shooting, apparently, said, or was guided by, was this idea that this caravan coming from Central America was being supported by globalists, some people say George Soros’ name. President Trump has made that same case. Do you see any connection between the shooter motivated by that and the case the President has been making?
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: I don’t because this particular shooter also condemned President Trump, saying he was a globalist and that he was allowing some of this to happen. So I– I don’t see any connection where you would connect the President to this particular shooting, just like I wouldn’t see that connecting Democrats when a person walked up to a baseball game last year in Washington, DC, and said, “Is this where the Republicans are practicing?” And then opened fire on them simply because they were Republicans. So the– this issue about a– a shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina or shooting in a synagogue or shooting at a Republican baseball practice, this is just hate-filled individuals that are very deranged.
JOHN DICKERSON: I think the distinction that–let’s be frank–the distinction critics of the President have been making is that he has been making this specific– specific narrative claim that there are Middle Easterners in this caravan with no evidence that that exists, and that that was the direct link to this shooter. So it’s not just unfocused criticism, but very– it’s– but a very specific narrative that this shooter seems to pick– have picked up on.
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Again, we’re back to the same issue, I– I believe also the same shooter was condemning President Trump for being a globalist at the time. So I– I– I don’t see where President Trump is somehow to blame for this. Now, President– President Trump and his rhetoric is very direct, but I don’t see how you connect President Trump to a person who’s deranged going into a synagogue. He’s been very clear about anti-Semitism, as well as all of us have been. That is a– a sick, vile thing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you, Senator, about the larger issue of– of domestic terrorism. We had a number of incidents this week, you have this shooting, you have the attempted bombing, you have the shooting of two African-Americans in– in– in Kentucky. You’re a member of the Homeland Security Committee. Give me your sense of the threat from domestic terrorism.
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: This is always one of the most difficult threats that we have, actually. International terrorism, we’re very aggressive on. We have not had a major terrorist event from international terrorism in a very long time now. We’ll continue to be able to be vigilant in that work. But the most difficult thing is we, as Americans, have the basic right of protection of privacy and we should have that right of protection of privacy. But that also means it’s very difficult for law enforcement if someone does what is called goes from flash to bang very, very quickly. This individual yesterday, apparently, posted something after saying all these horrible things on– about Jews for a long time, posted something saying that “I’m going to go in.” And then suddenly took off. No one– it was not on anyone’s radar, it wasn’t being tracked by anyone. This is a person that might have been paranoid that the government was watching, but the government’s not watching people that– people live their normal lives. And if he do– doesn’t have a criminal record, it’s not on anyone’s radar, very difficult to be able to track someone within the United States that snaps and takes off and does something like this.
JOHN DICKERSON: In– in the response to what the administration thought was a threat from–
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: –immigrants, they started checking the social media histories of people coming into the United States in a way the Americans and this domestic terror threat, in this case, you had online postings of the shooter; then in the case of the Florida man he was, obviously, on social media, saying some things that were very consistent with his actions. There’s nothing that can be done in social media to keep track of these domestic terrorists?
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: No. We’re not trying to track each other, but there are– are things that if someone shows up on a radar that law enforcement can go get a warrant, can go through the process to be able to examine, obviously, if people have their social media post public, that can also be monitored to see if someone is trying to be able to foment violence in any sort. So there are ways to be able to monitor that without trying to violate someone’s basic constitutional freedoms–
JOHN DICKERSON: In–
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: –if they’re posting things in open source.
JOHN DICKERSON: In response to the mail bombings this week, you said “we– we have to work– we have to all work together as Americans to stop this.” What actual specific work are you talking about?
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Yeah, that is the difficult thing that is not a legislative task. Everyone says let’s have a vote and let’s solve all these issues. If I go back to what Doctor– Doctor Martin Luther King Junior said years ago, his statement was you don’t overcome hate with more hate. You don’t try to drive out darkness with more darkness. Only love can do that. And as a culture we have got to figure out how to be able to communicate with each other on difficult things. Now, again, this person sending out package bombs to people was a very deranged individual in all likelihood from everything that we’ve seen back from him and more information will continue to be able to come out. But the challenge that we have is our social media rhetoric, our intensity of our dialogue, is no longer about having dialogue and conversation. It’s shouting someone else down that you disagree with and trying to silence them rather than having dialogue with them.
JOHN DICKERSON: In your view, Senator, the President of the United States has a bigger voice than anybody else in politics or in the world, really. Does the President–
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: True.
JOHN DICKERSON: –as it stands right now, meet that standard that you are talking about for public discourse?
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: No, I– I’ve said this to the President before. I– I think that the President needs to be more clear in his rhetoric and doesn’t need to be as caustic in his rhetoric. That’s the way he chooses to be able to communicate things and I don’t think it’s always helpful in that. We have the same issue on university campuses all around the country, where individuals can’t speak out on their views because they’ll get shouted down. We had that around the Kavanaugh hearings, where you’d walk through the Capitol and people would shout at you, trying to be able to silence individuals. That doesn’t help in our basic dialogue and I think the President should, and I think all of us that are in Congress, and anyone in public life, should set a good role model example of what it means to have respectful dialogue.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Senator, we’re out of time. We thank you very much for being with us.
SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD: Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He joins us this morning from Wilmington. Good morning, Senator.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-Delaware/@ChrisCoons): Good morning, John, great to be on with you again.
JOHN DICKERSON: I’ll start with you where I started with Senator Lankford for– in the United States, anti-Semitic violence increased fifty-seven percent between 2016 and 2017. Why do you think that is?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, I think that’s because of the caustic tone of our national politics. I am concerned that this hateful, deranged act by a man acting on his anti-Semitic hatred is just the latest in a series of violent incidents this past week that shows that our national political culture is motivating folks who are inspired by hate, by fear, by bigotry to take up and– and act on their deranged ideas. I think there’s a responsibility for all of us to lower the tone of hatred and division in our country.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is that the way you see it–all lawmakers, all people in public life, share the responsibility equally or are there portions of the culture that have more work to do than others?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, I think those of us in national office, our President, those who would hope to be President, those of us in Congress who have louder microphones and who are heard from and seen more regularly need to take responsibility for ways in which we lower the temperature. Senator Lankford and I are the co-chairs of the weekly Senate prayer breakfast. We get together every week with a bipartisan group of several dozen Senators and one of the things we focus on is trying to meet each other in a spirit of humility and prayer and to see each other as real people, not as evil enemies, not as– more than just political opponents and one of the things that really concerns me that weighs on my heart, John, is the ways in which our President and a number of other national political leaders of both parties have used their megaphones in order to inspire and instill and energize folks based on division rather than based on unity.
JOHN DICKERSON: But are you making any claim about that inspiration in the acts we’ve seen this week from the President, specifically.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, look these particular– these particular attacks were by deranged and hateful individuals and it’s hard to draw a clear line between specific arguments the President or others have made and attacks. Look when Senator Sanders heard that one of his supporters had taken up a rifle and shot Congressman Scalise and tried to kill other Republican members of Congress, he took to the floor of the Senate and denounced it. What I do think is helpful is when those who are in national leadership recognize that some of the arguments they have been making have inspired or encouraged deranged individuals to take actions that they really don’t support to make it perfectly clear to denounce hatred and anti-Semitism as President Trump recently has, to distance themselves from the arguments that might have inspired these sorts of arguments, excuse me, these sorts of actions. It is important for us to recognize that there’s more work that we can and should do to lower the temperature and tone in our national politics.
JOHN DICKERSON: And what about– you’ve mentioned the President, in terms of contributing to this tone. Obviously, members of the President’s party point to the protesters who shouted down Republican Senators during the Kavanaugh hearings. Mitch McConnell was confronted in a restaurant. Speak to the actions on the Democratic side and what role you think they have contributed in this tone that you have been talking about.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Now, look, when Congresswoman Maxine Waters encouraged folks–supporters protesters, advocates in my party to continue this practice of harassing, of confronting folks from the other party, I spoke out against that. Many in my party did. I think it’s important that people in leadership nationally who are well known discourage that kind of aggressive advocacy. But, John, there is a real difference between folks in the Capitol who during the Kavanaugh hearings were spirited, were loud and participated in their constitutionally protected right of free speech, and the gentleman who sent out fourteen mail bombs this last week, the individual who exercised a hateful instinct there against political and media figures across the country. John, we narrowly avoided a remarkable tragic week in American history. If those bombs had gone off we would today be having a very different conversation about not assassination attempts against two former Presidents, but what would have been a tragic wave of violence almost unprecedented in modern history. We have to take a moment and step back and recognize that the heated rhetoric of American politics today is encouraging some folks who are deranged to take action based on that rhetoric.
JOHN DICKERSON: Finally, Senator, one very quick question. You are on the Foreign Relations Committee. What’s your feeling about the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and whether he knew about the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, we don’t, yet, know the full facts, but twenty of us Republicans and Democrats, in equal number, wrote President Trump, triggered the global Magnitsky Act. And he must now begin an investigation and get back to us about whether or not we should be imposing sanctions. If the crown prince was directly involved in planning and carrying out this horrific premeditated murder of a journalist, an American resident who wrote for an American paper, there should be significant consequences. We should reconsider our relationship with Saudi Arabia because it needs to be a relationship based not just on shared interests in arms sales or in regional security, but shared values. And this is an incident that goes right to the heart of one of our core values, the protection of free speech and of journalists and the media.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We’ve come to the end of our time, Senator. Thanks so much for being with us.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Thank you, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be back in a minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don’t go away.
JOHN DICKERSON: The current state of our politics is a topic that has become much more acute in this past week, but anger has been a theme on the campaign trail for quite some time. Earlier this month we spent time in Saratoga Springs, New York, with House Speaker Paul Ryan and the congresswoman who represents that district, Elise Stefanik, as she campaigned for reelection. Our conversation about budgets and taxes ran on CBS THIS MORNING but we also talked about the increasing polarization among politicians. We started with Ryan’s claim that news organizations don’t cover Congress’s bipartisan achievements.
JOHN DICKERSON: Why do you think there’s not much talk about bipartisanship in the– in the coverage?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-Wisconsin/@SpeakerRyan/Speaker of the House): You know I don’t think it sells for you guys, for the media. You take a look at the bills we pass out of the House, about a thousand bills. It’s been one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation. And of those roughly thousand bills, over eighty percent of them are bipartisan bills. So we’ve tackled opioids. We’ve tackled human trafficking. We’ve rebuilt the military. All of those are bipartisan. But they don’t get reported. It– it doesn’t sell. So, I, honestly, think, John, it’s the hits and the clicks and it’s the ratings chase that’s on display in America today that says when they’re fighting each other, that’s when you cover it.
JOHN DICKERSON: So if– if we accept some portion of responsibility for that–you’ve seen some of Trump, President Trump’s rallies–do those rallies accentuate the things that unite us–the bipartisan achievements or are they, do they do something very successful in politics–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Is get the base running.
JOHN DICKESON: –wildly successful–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: –which is sow division in the country?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: Do you see that happening at his rallies?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Sometimes, yeah.
JOHN DICKERSON: Sometimes meaning?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Well, not always but sometimes. I worry about tribal identity politics becoming the new norm of how politics is waged. As conservatives we always thought this was sort of a left wing, Alinsky thing. Unfortunately, the right practices identity politics now as well. It’s the day and age, it’s technology and everything else–identity politics, which is now being practiced on both sides of the aisle, is, unfortunately, working. And I think we, as leaders, we got to figure out how do we make inclusive aspirational politics strategically valuable again?
JOHN DICKERSON: You’ve talked about inclusive politics which tries to unify. Does President Trump practice those kind of politics?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.
JOHN DICKERSON: How– but I mean, come on. Honestly, I mean–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: No, I mean, sometimes– look, look, on economic growth, on tax reform, on getting the military and helping veterans–those are things that he has led us to that have really brought people together. And he talks about these at his rally, and that is inclusive.
JOHN DICKERSON: You talk about tribalism. Here’s the thing. You leave office and you say to members like the congresswoman who are still in office, we’ve got get, we’ve got to deal with this tribalism. Isn’t the most effective way to deal with tribalism is to say to your own team–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Is to not do it?
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. And– and President Trump has been very effective practicing the politics as they are, not as like some, you know, grad school idea of how they should be. But he’s gotten two Supreme Court nominees confirmed. He got the tax cut bill through. So tribalism is working out just fine if it’s getting things–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Oh I–
JOHN DICKERSON: –if it’s getting points on the board.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Look, take– take the tax bill, for example, what is that going to do? That’s going to create economic growth and opportunity. It’s creating more investment. This– this company right here, thirty more jobs and higher wages, more investment in their factory to hire even more people. So, what does that do? That helps reduce economic anxiety. So to me the best way to combat tribalism is to starve it of its oxygen, which is anxiety– economic anxiety, security anxiety. And if we can pass policies that help improve people’s lives, make them more confident about the future, then they’ll be less prone to be– to be swayed by the kind of tribalism identity politics we see these days.
JOHN DICKERSON: But isn’t another way, and perhaps a more effective way, is not to give into tribalism when it’s convenient–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Absolutely.
DICKERSON: –in order to get something passed?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Yes. Yes, that as well.
JOHN DICKERSON: How do you–
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: But what can we do? We can control– she can control what she says. I can control what I say. She and I don’t tweet these things. We say what we say. But also we pass policies that we believe are going to be good for this country and are going to address people’s concerns and fears and make them more secure in their lives.
JOHN DICKERSON: Do you think what is more attractive to people who are running is the kind of inclusive, kind of old-style Republican vision that the speaker here is talking about or the grittier tougher highly-successful kind of politics that’s transformed the Republican Party that– that President Trump practices?
REPRESENTATIVE ELISE STEFANIK (R-New York/@RepStefanik): I think this election is going to be focused on results versus resistance.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE ELISE STEFANIK: What I know does not resonate with voters is this resistance effort where regardless of whether you agree with some of the focus of this administration you are unwilling to work with them. So, I think both parties need to address the tribalism that’s happening, and the siloing of where we’re getting our information is a part of that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Have you seen efforts to reach out from the President to the other party?
REPRESENTATIVE ELISE STEFANIK: I– I think he has reached out.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE ELISE STEFANIK: Look at what he’s done on opioids. This is an initiative from this administration.
JOHN DICKERSON: But he’s also called them the evil. How do you reach out and call them evil?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: You know what they’ve called him? I mean– so, but, but look–
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, but isn’t that so right that gets us into– into the cycle.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: That’s the tit for the tat. But– but just so you know all these bills– this has been an incredibly productive term of legislation. The President has signed so many new big bold reforms into law, most of which are bipartisan.
JOHN DICKERSON: Again that interview was taped on October 16th.
We also spoke with Speaker Ryan about his plans after he leaves Congress in January but with breaking news this weekend we’ve had to put that on our website at FACETHENATION.com.
We’ll be right back with more FACE THE NATION in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: We’ll have more of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre tonight as the CBS EVENING NEWS with Jeff Glor originates from Pittsburgh. Then my co-host at CBS THIS MORNING, Bianna Golodryga will report from there on tomorrow’s broadcast. And you can always tune in to our digital network CBSN for all the latest news on these two stories.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including a look at some of the toss up Senate races as well as our political panel. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. With control of Congress up for grabs next Tuesday, we want to take a look at where things stand in some key Senate races. Here with us is CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto, and he has some new Battleground Tracker numbers on hand. Anthony, welcome. Remind us again, update us on exactly what’s at stake in the Senate and then tell us what you found in these– in new numbers?
ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys/@SalvantoCBS): Right. Most– the Republicans have a two-seat majority in the Senate that they’re trying to hold on to, and they have what we call favorable map, which means that of the states where Senate races are up this year, the Democrats are defending more and many of them are defending seats in states that Donald Trump won last time around. So, we call them red states, the Republican leaning, that makes it rather hard for them. Let me start with a couple of states that I think will tell the story at least early on, on election night when we watch it next week. The first is Florida. And that race we have tied between Rick Scott and the incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. You know Scott seems to get a boost from his handling of the recent hurricane there that may be helping him out. Then we go to Indiana, where we have got the Republican up three points. It’s a slight lead over the incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly. That’s a seat that the Republicans would love to try to pick up and if they can, it really helps their chances. And then out to Arizona, that’s an open seat, another other state that Donald Trump won where we have Kyrsten Sinema up three points over Martha McSally. That’s a quick view of the landscape in three key races.
JOHN DICKERSON: So, let’s– Florida, purple state, we always watch Florida. So that–
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Mm.
JOHN DICKERSON: –and that’s, you know, split and so that kind of follows what we know–Indiana and Arizona, tell me what’s the difference between the Democrats being ahead in Arizona, which has had two Republican senators, whereas Indiana you have got an incumbent Democrat but he’s behind. Is there a difference between those two states?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. One is just a little bit of crossover voting where Sinema is getting just a little bit more of that Republican crossover vote of that Republican crossover vote than Joe Donnelly is. Now, this is important because we see so very little of that these days. And, in fact, in all of these states we see much less of it than we did the last time Democrats won in these red states. That partly tells you what a partisan environment this is, it tells you that this election is nationalized, that three in four voters are saying that they are casting a vote for Senate or Congress this year to put their favored national party in control of Congress. Having said all that Sinema is doing a little bit better on health care, which is something certainly the Democrats want this election to be about. Donnelly is not benefiting from what some folks thought would be backlash against the President’s trade policy and heavily agricultural state. Republicans, in particular, and voters overall tend to think that those trade policies will, eventually, pan out and help them in the long run.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let’s talk about that nationalized election, because Donald Trump when you see him on the campaign trail thinks that this is going to be an election about values and he has returned to a lot of the themes from 2016–immigration, safety, even talking about socialism. Democrats on the other hand have a different bet that they are making. As you said in Arizona, the Democrat running is talking about health care, who is right?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, look, it depends on whoever wins is probably going to end– end up being the one that– that we think is right. But, look, the Democrats want this to be about health care because people do see them as being better off at handling Medicare and also they don’t necessarily buy the idea the Republicans that they will protect pre-existing conditions in particular. Republicans aren’t polling well on– on doing that. The Democrats are polling better on that. And that’s something that people want. So it’s– no acts in the Democrats are running on that, as far as larger values are concerned, you know, I think that you’ve got a situation where in this– in this very nationalized election, the President becomes a– a large factor, and we see a big split between people who say the economy is good, but don’t like the direction of the country. And in a lot of these states, the percent of people who say that the President is going to be a factor in their vote is far higher than we’ve seen in recent midterms. And that could be– that could be an enormous factor there as part of nationalizing all of this.
JOHN DICKERSON: We talk about tribalism which has become a kind of a jargon word, how do you see it in the– in the polls playing out in terms of what’s different than what we see in the past?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. After a week like this so much talk about anger, so much talk, as you say about tribalism, it’s something we pollsters try to wrestle with and try to capture, one way we do it is we’ve asked people, well, the other side, are there people who disagree with you about policy, or are they fundamentally different kinds of people? And we’re seeing a majority of partisans here saying the second of those. That they think they’re fundamentally different kinds of people. That’s hard to negotiate. It becomes personal. It’s hard to adjudicate that. You know, the other thing is we look at the groups that people feel like are represented by the parties. We see the Republicans saying that Democrats care more about the interests of immigrants than longer-term citizens. We see the Democrats saying they think the Republicans care more about the wealthy than working people. It comes down to those group politics. And, again, it becomes a very personal cast to the whole election.
JOHN DICKERSON: And just very– it’s– it’s not just different kinds of people but bad people, right, they have a very negative personal feeling about people in the other party?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: It’s what we often call negative partisanship. It’s not just the idea that your party is right and maybe it even isn’t, but you sure do think the other side is wrong.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Anthony Salvanto, thanks so much. And we’ll be right back with our panel.
JOHN DICKERSON: And now it’s time for some political analysis. Lanhee Chen is a policy expert and fellow at the Hoover Institution, Jeffrey Goldberg is the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, Susan Page is Washington Bureau chief at USA Today, and Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent at Slate and a CBS News political analyst. Jeffrey, I want to start with you. The President said this shooting in Pittsburgh was unimaginable. It was unimaginable that this could happen. Does it seem that way to you, unimaginable?
JEFFREY GOLDBERG (The Atlantic/@JeffreyGoldberg): No, it’s very imaginable. I– I don’t think there’s a– I don’t think there’s a Jewish person in America or anywhere else who thinks this sort of thing is unimaginable. There is a long, long history of this sort of thing. These things are not only imaginable, but they are predictable to a certain degree. And– and– let me– let me state very, very clearly, these sorts of incidents predate the rise of Donald Trump and– and the tribalism that we see now. Obviously, there are– there are fatal shootings at Jewish community centers in the last twenty years. There is, of course, a shooting at the Holocaust Museum before the Trump era. But it’s important to note that– that some of the language that Donald Trump consciously uses, some of the language that his supporters use tends to activate people who have very, very dark thoughts and feelings about Jews. And among that group that’s activated, some, clearly, are willing to carry out violence. That’s not to say that Donald Trump is responsible for the shooting. The shooter is responsible for the shooting. But we live in a climate right now in which the President himself abets or creates a climate in which this– this sort of incident, this sort of tragedy becomes more imaginable.
JAMELLE BOUIE (Slate/@jbouie/CBS News Political Analyst): To– to add to the– all of the conversation around the past week it’s been about tribalism and it’s been about, sort of, our– our language with each other. But from my view, this looks to be much more a conversation that brought exactly this, the transmission of idea– of anti-Semitic ideas, the transition– the transmission of anti– like, racism into the public sphere in a way that has just not been the case in a long time. You mentioned earlier in the show, the shooting in Kentucky of two African-Americans. The shooter attempted to break into a church and kill many more people. And I think that is of a piece with what happened in Pittsburgh, that’s of a– of a piece with the attempted bombings. That beyond and– above and beyond the heated rhetoric, there is a rhetoric of racial threat, a rhetoric of, you know, anti-Semitic language that is coming into our politics. And by definition, it’s going to create conditions for violence. People are going to act on it.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Dylann Roof in South Carolina could have just as easily shot up a synagogue and this guy in Pittsburgh could have just as easily shot up a black church. The material on the internet is all there for them to become activated.
JOHN DICKERSON: And, Lanhee, it feels like when if that material is all out there and it’s swirling and swarming and boiling, and then the politics– the politicians, is it that they– they lack the ability or that they are just the wrong people to talk about these kinds of issues in the culture in the first place?
LANHEE CHEN (Hoover Institution/@lanheechen): I think they are the wrong people. But I also think they have to realize that they have been put into a position that requires them to accept additional responsibility. And chief among them is the President. The President sits in a unique position. He is the only person with a national constituency. And he’s the only person with a megaphone that truly reaches all Americans. Now, this– this is not to place– obviously, not to place blame for these events on the President. But it is to say that– that politicians need to start taking this more seriously, that they are public officials whom people will look to as moral leaders as well. I know we often say we don’t elect politicians to be moral leaders. Well, maybe we should take that a little more seriously. Maybe they should take that role a little more seriously.
SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): But, of course, we do elect politicians to be moral leaders. And, in particular, we like Presidents to step up at times of great national trauma to bring us together. That is one of the things that Presidents are in a unique position to do and that this President has declined to do by and large. And I think it’s now no surprise that we’ve had three terrible incidents in a seventy-two-hour period, where hate is backed up by violence as we move toward a midterm election, where both sides see the consequences of the election as, is kind of, fundamental to the future of our country and the heat that kind of superheated rhetoric, I think, started with Pre– President Trump didn’t create– didn’t begin it, but he has certainly increased it.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: You don’t really notice the importance of the role the President plays– a President plays in creating a tone, a positive tone in America until you have the absence of a President who creates a positive tone. And, yes, Donald Trump has been trying, he’s been reading statements about anti-Semitism that seem appropriate. But as we see in his rallies, he quickly veers from those statements and goes right back to division. So, it– it really is remarkable to me to see how– how quickly he pivots away from the message he understands or someone has told him he should be delivering back to division.
JAMELLE BOUIE: It’s make– just a more direct connection, especially off of Susan’s point. The shooter in Pittsburgh expressly said that the thing that he was angry about were the migrants heading toward the American border. A situation that has been demagogued by the President, that has been hyped up and demagogued by right-wing media that is sort of been– is being talked about in these, like, existential term this is going to destroy America if these– these people get here. And while, you know, of course, the President isn’t responsible, et cetera, et cetera. It’s also the case that this guy was clearly imbibing that rhetoric. He’s– he clearly was– that was clearly– that was radicalizing him. And I think we should recognize the ways in which that kind of demagoguery radicalizes people.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: This started on Inauguration Day, American Carnage. It’s the apocalyptic language that is deployed on policy issues that creates this feeling of hysteria and darkness.
LANHEE CHEN: I– I do think that you’ve seen this now on both sides in terms of the policy issues being radicalized, you see it when Democrats argue Republicans want to destroy your health or destroy your health care, you see it when Republicans use immigration–
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
LANHEE CHEN: –to get people all lathered up. And– and– and there’s a radicalization of issues. We’re not talking about the– the policy solution anymore, we’re talking about what the personal implications might be in– in ways that are apocalyptic or that suggest that the other side is somehow responsible for– for your– for your personal demise. And I think that’s the challenge that we’re facing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and that’s right. And– and separate and apart from the President, if a Democrat wants to sell the idea that Republicans don’t really care about pre-existing conditions, they are not going to say, “well, you know, they are market-based– based approach to health care is– inconsistently, it’s promised, they are going to say, they’re heartless and don’t let them get in control because they don’t care about you. That’s some– I mean this is just the way the system of politics works.
SUSAN PAGE: Well, and, of course, it leaves no middle ground. How do you make a compromise between someone who wants to kill your elderly parents by taking away their health care and– and someone who cares more about immigrants than they care about American citizens? It makes it– it’s– it’s one of the factors that make it so difficult to have– to do anything afterwards. And, you know, you– you mention that the two senators have had on– have this remarkable example of bipartisan by co-hosting a prayer group. You know we– I think that’s great. I am glad they are co-hosting a prayer group. But think of how small our politics are that they are not coming to a– a reasonable agreement on immigration that could help de– deescalate that issue or– or on some other big issue that we expect Congress to deal with.
JOHN DICKERSON: Also, Jamelle, it feels like the primary steps, the beginning steps of reconciliation require some introspection.
JAMELLE BOUIE: Right.
JOHN DICKERSON: But if you’re a Democrat, and I bet Chris Coons’ Twitter feed is full of anger at him for saying, you know, our own side has these issues that we– we shouldn’t be shouting down Mitch McConnell and Maxine Waters shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing because the immediate response from a Democrat is, how dare you, look at what the President is doing. If that cycle continues, nobody is getting anywhere.
JAMELLE BOUIE: I think that’s right. I have to say, I am a little sympathetic to the, like, hypothetical responders to Chris Coons, because I think it’important– I think distinctions are really important. I think there’s a qualitative difference and especially in the society that it has a history of racialized violence in a society that is driven by racial division, I think there’s a qualitative difference between sort of getting angry and apocalyptic about policy issues and getting angry and apocalyptic about identity issues, about these immigrants are going to fundamentally change the American identity resonates a specific way in a country whose history is saturated with racialized violence, saturated with rhetoric of that sort, that led to really awful atrocities. And so although I would like– I am a– I am a calm person by disposition I would like to see more calm political rhetoric. I think we have– it’s important that we don’t conflate those– these two– these two different kinds of incivility, one of them is unfortunate, makes compromise difficult. One of them is an existential issue for people– for living people in the society.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: There is a common thread here. And you’ve written about this. Restraint. Democracies can only function if people don’t say everything that’s on their minds and what we have now is people saying whatever comes to mind in order to achieve a short-term political gain.
JOHN DICKERSON: Lanhee, either picking up on that restraint point, because James Q. Wilson used to talk about this all the time in the old days. And so either is there a policy way to get restraint in the culture that seems hard, or with this question of domestic terrorism in America, is there anything, you know, Senator Lankford said we’re not going to listen into each other. So is there a policy response to this escalation in domestic terrorism?
LANHEE CHEN: Well, I think there’s an institutional response and there’s a policy response. The institutional response suggests that the reason why we have the situation we have now is because the traditional balance between the executive and the legislative branches, for example, the fact that Congress doesn’t really do its job any more. I think that has something to do with it. Because in– in the traditional way to handle this would be you would have a strong Congress that would check an overactive executive, that’s sort of the way the founders wanted it, that’s what you would have. From a policy perspective, it seems to me that law enforcement needs to have the appropriate tools in order to monitor these kinds of things. That having been said there is a very fine line between an overactive law enforcement function and the need for us to be looking at things people are saying online, the kinds of rhetoric they are using, the kinds of dialogue they’re using, I think law enforcement has those tools, I think it’s a question of what the right balance is. And if Congress wants to conduct oversight, again, they could, but the question is, you know, do we need new policy to deal with this? I don’t think so.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
LANHEE CHEN: I think what we just need is we need people to actually be doing their jobs which law enforcement largely is.
SUSAN PAGE: You know there’s one thread between all these terrible incidents this week that have made us seem so ripped apart as a– as a nation, and that is the availability of guns. And I don’t think any of us think that gun laws are going to go anywhere with this Congress. But, you know, if– if Americans really wanted a change in gun laws, if they thought it was wrong that this deranged man in Pittsburgh had an assault rifle, they could elect different leaders, they could make it a higher priority, people who– who– who feel that way. And I actually think that is a possible response we’ll see in the midterms in just nine days. I think it is possible, it’s conceivable that that could also be a response to this domestic terrorism.
JOHN DICKERSON: But; Jamelle, do you see a lot of Democrats on whom their– Democrats are placing their hopes in these swing House districts running on gun control?
JAMELLE BOUIE: Only in the suburban districts, but in the places where Trump did really well with working class whites, there’s not very much emphasis on gun control. I think if Democrats take the House majority and if it’s a substantial House majority, meaning that they won lots of seats in these traditionally Republican suburban districts and these Trump, especially in Democratic districts, you might end up seeing a kind of conflict between two sets of Democrats who rely on very different constituencies.
JOHN DICKERSON: Lanhee, let’s talk about policy and the election, because, clearly, Donald Trump feels that the issue of immigration, some of these values issues are going to work well for– for Republicans. Why aren’t they running on the big tax cut they passed, (a) and then (b) the Democratic response seems to be to talk about health care to be more policy-oriented, what do you see? Do you see that split? What do you make of it?
LANHEE CHEN: No. I– I absolutely see that split. ButI think– I think this is going to be the health care versus judges’ election. And judges’ is a short hand, I think, for some of these more cultural elements that motivate Republican voters. I think the reason why the two sides have gone to the issues they have gone to is because they are going to the issues they know will motivate their base at the end of the day. And tax cuts and the economy are great but it’s more of an overlay. It’s very hard to get someone to say, hey, go out there and vote because of the tax cuts I gave you. May be the case that they could– they could say, look, if you don’t vote for the Republican those tax cuts will be gone. The negative message might work better. But, fundamentally, I think both sides have settled on the issues they have settled on because they realize, hey, these are the issues that our side really will get worked up about for Democrats, it obviously, is health care. And, for Republicans, it’s some combination of judges, law enforcement and immigration. And I think we’ve seen all of those issues in play in the last couple of days.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: My question on that is, whether the– the events of the last week sort of obviate the Kavanaugh bump that the Republicans have gotten. The Kavanaugh bump was very effective for Donald Trump. He promised to get these judges in; he did. But now there’s this feeling that things are coming unhinged, the wheels are coming off, and– and people, including suburban, voters who might be on the fence might look at Donald Trump and say, you’re– you’re abetting this. And this is very a nationalized election as we heard. So that’s the question.
LANHEE CHEN: Yeah. I think– I think to a certain degree there is maybe some– some impact on it but the Kavanaugh bump and the enthusiasm that was created by that whole process I think really– that’s the key narrative going into the election because so many people have voted already. I think that matters.
JAMELLE BOUIE: I was just going to say, what’s– what’s confounding about this upcoming election is that enthusiasm across the board is so high, likely turnouts going to be so high for midterm that at a certain point, it’s difficult to make predictions because timing changes– timing changes enthusiasm and– and turnout among different demographics get you radically different results. And so–
SUSAN PAGE: Difficult and dangerous–
JAMELLE BOUIE: Right.
SUSAN PAGE:–to make prediction (INDISTINCT) so. I, you know, I– I– I take your point on policy and it’s certain that majority of the House ads by Democrats have been on health care but I think this is the election of Trump. We did a poll this week that showed three out of four likely voters said President Trump had an impact on their decision of who to vote for for Congress and the majority of them, fifty-seven percent of likely voters told us, a lot of impact by President Trump. So this is an issue about health care and judges but this is, first of all, I think an issue about President Trump.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We’re going to have to end it there. Thanks to all of you. And we’ll be back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: The recent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the Saudi Arabian government has called into question the U.S. strategy of using the Saudi kingdom as a wedge against Iran. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer spoke earlier today in Tehran with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and asked about his government’s view on the U. U.-Saudi alliance.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF (Iranian Foreign Minister/@JZarif): The choices that have been made in this region have been wrong and this is– there’s nothing new about that.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Foreign Correspondent): What choices are you talking about?
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Choices about supporting Saddam Hussein, choices about supporting al Qaeda, choices about supporting the Taliban.
ELIZABETH PALMER: This is Saudi–
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: ISIS.
ELIZABETH PALMER: –you’re talking Saudi-supported al Qaeda.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Saudis supported them with almost a carte blanche from the United States.
ELIZABETH PALMER: I think reading between your lines, you are saying that Saudi Arabia is a poor ally for the United States and Iran would be a better one?
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that United States’ choices in the Middle East are wrong. And these wrong choices lead to the disaster in our region. We knew that the invasion of Iraq was a wrong choice, although Saddam Hussein was our enemy, we knew that the attack against Afghanistan was a wrong choice, although Taliban were our enemy. We know that the invasion and attack, bombardment of Yemen are wrong choices. But the– the United States is continuously and persistently on the wrong side, be it in Yemen, be it imprisoning a prime minister of another country, be it the recent incident in very tragic incident in– in– in Istanbul.
ELIZABETH PALMER: So you’re, basically, saying the U.S. support of Saudi and in particular Mohammad bin Salman has emboldened the Saudi, to do things that you consider beyond the pale–
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Yeah.
ELIZABETH PALMER: –like imprisoning Lebanon’s prime minister, like allegedly ordering the murder of a journalist.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I think the blanket support that the U.S. provides to Saudi Arabia and to Israel has enabled them to carry out atrocities that would not have happened had there not existed this blanket support, blind support.
JOHN DICKERSON: Our Elizabeth Palmer taped earlier today in Tehran.
We’ll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: That’s it for us today. As we leave you, we want to remember those who were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue yesterday.
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