This is a rush transcript from "Journal: Editorial Report," October 8, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: Welcome to the "Journal: Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
We're live as the candidates prepare for tomorrow night's town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis.
Two big stories upending the presidential campaign this week, Donald Trump scrambles to contain fallout from lewd hot-mic comments and Hillary Clinton deals with leaked excerpts of her paid Wall Street speeches.
We begin with the Trump campaign which is in damage control mode today following the release of this 2005 conversation with entertainment reporter, Billy Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. It's like a magnet.
And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, FORMER ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Do whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: The Republican nominee released this apology last night, saying the story is a distraction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've said and done things I regret. And the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize. I've traveled the country talking about change for Americans. But my travels have also changed me. I've spent time with grieving mothers who have lost children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I've been humbled by the faith they've placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Jason Riley; editorial board member, Mary Kissel; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and in Washington, columnist, Kim Strassel.
Dan, of these two, I think the bigger problem is Donald Trump, no question about it, than the WikiLeaks thing.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yeah.
GIGOT: How big a crisis is it for the Trump campaign?
HENNINGER: It is truly a significant political crisis. The personal aspects of Trump aside, you know, I'm reminded of a similar political crisis, Paul, and that was when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. Why did Nixon resign? It wasn't because of Watergate. It wasn't because of the missing tape that supposedly showed him saying terrible things then. Nixon said he resigned when he lost the political support of his party. And Donald Trump is in the process of losing that. You have all of these politicians coming out, like Senator Mike Lee, Mike Crapo, Barbara Comstock, a congressman from Virginia. It is growing. That is a problem. Donald Trump is sitting there about three points below Hillary Clinton. He has to get that above her number to win the election. This is not going to help that.
GIGOT: Before we get to these Republicans, Mary, I want to ask you, what's your reaction to how Donald Trump handled this with that first quasi apology and then the later one where he also attacked the Clintons?
MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL PAGE MEMBER: I think we already knew that Donald Trump was a base guy, a crude guy. He's an adulterer. So in that respect, this isn't new news. I think the problem with the way that Trump reacted is to, in some respects, deny that character. He said these words don't reflect who I am. Well, no, that is exactly who he is. And that's the problem with having this tape out here, which by the way, is a lot more powerful not just because of the words, but because you're hearing it and you're physically seeing it and it's from the candidate himself.
GIGOT: So he would have been better off -- and I agree with you. I think he would have been better off if he just had said, I apologize for this, they were offensive, and leave the Clintons out of it, leave the caveats out of it, full stop.
KISSEL: That's right. And let's remember, too, Paul, he's in his late 50s making these comments. So you can't deny your character if you're still doing that at that age.
JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST: The problem here is that a month before the election, we're still talking about the Republican nominee's fitness for office. We're not talking about the economy. We're not talking about jobs. We're not talking about foreign policy, ISIS, Syria. We're talking about whether this man has the temperament. If you are Hillary Clinton and you know the issues and where you are most vulnerable, you are doing high fives. This is exactly what you want --
GIGOT: The campaign is staying quiet right now.
GIGOT: James, any caveats?
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: I would say Hillary Clinton is also very vulnerable on character issues. The words are terrible there. I think, you know, we've known Mr. Trump is prone to tell tall tales when he's talking about the value of his company and so forth. Talking on that tape, hearing him, he's talking as if he treats women almost as badly as Bill Clinton. And I think it's offensive to anyone. But you do have to remember, his words versus the facts of the Clintons. And even "The New York Times" is acknowledging the role that Mrs. Clinton played in silencing and shaming and embarrassing and trying to discredit the women he left in his wake.
GIGOT: Fair point, but is that going to be enough? Republicans, after all, did denounce the Clintons. And here you have somebody who is --
RILEY: That's the other problem here, Paul. The demographic that Donald Trump is struggling with and has been from the beginning is women. And each of these scandals keeps sort of justifying skepticism that women voters have towards him. It's just a disaster on many levels. He will only compound it by going there with Bill Clinton and his past in the debate.
GIGOT: I want to get Kim in here.
Kim, on the politics of these Republican defections from Donald Trump, not just people saying I c no longer support him, although there some of those, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, and the denunciations by Paul Ryan and Mr. McConnell, the congressional leadership, but also several people saying he needs to drop out of the race.
GIGOT: This has never happened before.
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: No, and it's a growing number of people. That's in part because -- the left was very smart about this, Democrats were very smart. They immediately trying to make sure that the standard that is set here, is that it's not enough to simply disavow Donald Trump and say you're repulsed by these statements, but rather to say that you do not support him anymore.
But I think this is an important point too, though, Paul, in terms of what he decides to do. He is putting his down-ticket in just terribly vulnerable situations. You saw Joe Hack, running for the Nevada seat, he came out today and said I'm not going to support Donald Trump. And half of his audience is clapping, half of his audience is booing him. So forcing these candidates to have to now have to make this decision. This could be incredibly destructive, not just for the top of the ticket but all the way down.
GIGOT: All right. So I mean, you have this situation where the Republican Party seems to be revolting. Donald Trump said, look, told the Wall Street Journal today, I am not dropping out and this, too, shall pass. Is that going to happen this time? What do you think?
HENNINGER: No. This is a modern election, social media, we live moment to moment with these elections. It's like waves coming in and surfing them. This is the one, the entire electorate, to which I would like to express my condolences --
-- is having to deal with right now. All of this stuff about what Bill Clinton did many years ago is not going to register with the voters deciding the election.
KISSEL: Well, let's also note that more than 400,000 people have also voted, this should be the end of early voting, because you just don't know what's going to happen in these next weeks. Are there more tapes out there? We don't know, maybe. This is just the second October surprise that we've had. There will probably be more.
GIGOT: Thank you, Mary.
Still ahead, Hillary Clinton dealing with her own October surprise as WikiLeaks reveals excerpts of her paid Wall Street speeches.
GIGOT: The Clinton campaign is dealing with an October surprise of its own this weekend after WikiLeaks released e-mails allegedly containing excerpts of her paid Wall Street speeches. In these speeches, Mrs. Clinton says she dreamed of open trade and open borders throughout the Western hemisphere and told banking executives that she had both a public and a private position on --
She also acknowledged that her family's wealth had made her kind of far removed from the struggles of the middle class.
So, Kim, let's stipulate that the Clinton campaign has not confirmed that these are -- has not denied that these are legitimate, has not confirmed it either. But what do you think? Let's assume that they are real. What do you think the impact of this is?
STRASSEL: Look, this isn't getting near the attention as the Donald Trump tapes, but it ought to, because, in essence, what these leaks are showing is that everything Bernie Sanders accused Hillary Clinton of being was, in fact, true, and it's why she didn't want any of these speeches released. She does have a public position and a private position on everything. You know, we have her telling banks that she's all open for free trade, even though publicly she is currently claiming that she is not. You have her praising bankers, saying how they're smart people, suggesting they were unfairly blamed for the financial crisis. You have other e-mails, too, by the way. And by the way, this is only 1 percent, WikiLeaks is saying, of Podesta's e-mails, and that there's going to be more of these coming on a daily, weekly basis. But you have other things like, for instance, one speech Hillary Clinton talking about how the cybersecurity threats and how the State Department was constantly hit. This goes to her server question.
GIGOT: This goes to a fundamental question of credibility, James.
GIGOT: At the State Department, she told one group that the State Department, we were barraged by cyberthreats day after day, all the time.
Then remember when the e-mail news came out, her private server, she said, well, we couldn't possibly have been hacked and there was no problem with confidentiality.
FREEMAN: Right. So religious conservatives always knew that Donald Trump wasn't one of them, and his tape confirmed it. Now on the other side, the Sanders crowd kind of felt like she wasn't one of them, and this seems to confirm it.
But I think it would be a mistake to assume that she was speaking truthfully to Goldman Sachs and lying to everyone else. I think very possible she's also telling that group what it wants to hear.
GIGOT: She was lying to the bankers.
FREEMAN: She may be lying to everybody.
RILEY: Paul, I would say this probably does more to help her with moderate Republicans who can't stomach Donald Trump. She's for trade, she's for immigration, she denounced Edward Snowden. Then it hurts her with progressives.
RILEY: I think on balance, I think on balance, it's pretty much a draw. We all knew Hillary Clinton shifted left in the primary because of Bernie Sanders. We knew that.
GIGOT: Don't you want a president with some convictions and some honesty that tells you what they think?
GIGOT: Is that asking for too much?
HENNINGER: It's such a volatile election, Jason. And what has been until this started happening, her biggest problem has been outreach to Millennials. She has to get those for Bernie Sanders to turn out and vote. This gives them a reason not to show up and vote. They don't care about Donald Trump. They're focused about whether they should be for Hillary or not.
KISSEL: But this is getting no play, as Kim pointed out. If you open up this morning, "The New York Times," it was buried in the middle of the front page section. It wasn't on the front page like the Donald Trump tapes. No, I think you'll see the left run away from this.
GIGOT: James, any doubts in your mind, pains about the fact of WikiLeaks releasing this, and it's probably, as the U.S. government asserted on Friday, Russia who gave it to WikiLeaks? It's sleazy, no question about it. Any doubts about that?
FREEMAN: I think what we want is information. As Americans, we want transparency. Hillary Clinton won't provide it. She told numerous falsehoods last March, 2015, about the e-mails and they still aren't all out, they still haven't all been surrendered. But --
GIGOT: She made herself vulnerable by keeping these under wraps.
FREEMAN: Right. This is good. It doesn't mean it's true. The fact that she's saying to a foreign bank, I'm all for free trade, doesn't necessarily mean it. The check is very large. She may just be performing for the check.
But one thing I would take her seriously on is when she told Goldman Sachs-- or it's one of the banker audiences, I'm not sure if it was that one -- she basically invited them to write the next financial regulations. I suspect that would happen.
RILEY: I think the biggest outrage here is the size of the checks, the way that the Clintons traded on their public service and enriched themselves. She was paid something in excess of $26 million for these speeches. That, to me, is more outrageous than anything she said.
KISSEL: It shows you that the money must buy some sort of influence, otherwise they wouldn't have paid it.
GIGOT: All right, Mary Kissel.
Thank you all.
When we come back, the Obama administration calls for a war crimes investigation of Russia, and formerly accuses of country of cyberattacks on the U.S. election. Gary Kasparov weighs in on Washington's deteriorating relationship with Moscow, next.
GIGOT: A new low in the Obama administration's declining relationship with Moscow, with the Secretary of State John Kerry Friday calling for a war crimes investigation of the Russian and Syrian governments following repeated strikes on civilian targets in Syria. This, as intelligence officials accuse Moscow of meddling in the U.S. election, after concluding that Russia's senior-most officials were behind the cyberattacks on the Democratic party.
Former world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, is chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of the book, "Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped."
Welcome back. Good to have you here.
GARY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION & AUTHOR: Thank you. Good to be here.
GIGOT: Let's talk about the intelligence accusations first, saying the Russians were responsible for the hacking. Do you think Putin must have known this was going on?
KASPAROV: I think Putin was behind it. I think nobody ever would consider hacking U.S. elections without Putin's direct orders. Russian's dictator is a one-man show. I believe Putin is looking for everybody opportunity to spread chaos. Supporting Trump is one story, but also creating uncertainties about the process.
GIGOT: So he would take the risk of hacking American election processes, just to create the mayhem, doubt, consternation, and maybe that's modern important than supporting one of the candidates?
KASPAROV: Look, naturally he prefers Trump.
GIGOT: He does. Why?
KASPAROV: Because Trump is an agent of chaos. Trump talks about undermining on NATO and basically reneging on U.S. and the alliances around the world. And also Trump is viewed by many American allies and the general public as someone who is not stable. That's what Putin needs in America and elsewhere.
GIGOT: But he also, if somehow it were a close election and we had a debate that and people thought someone stole it, he would love that.
KASPAROV: That would be the ideal scenario for Putin. If he could create conflicts across the country, say, in Ohio, Florida, in Virginia, in Michigan, in Nevada, people complaining about their names being erased accidentally from the databases.
GIGOT: What will be the reaction from Putin, the Kremlin, and inside Russia to this American accusation?
KASPAROV: It's basically denial. Putin doesn't care what America says, and what our European allies say. It's all about the story he sells on Russian television. Let's not forget, for Putin, his foreign policy aggression act is part of his domestic campaign to present himself as the iron-fisted leader who is defying everybody, including especially the United States.
GIGOT: All right. Let's move to Syria. They've introduced anti-aircraft weapons into Syria. They're consolidating. They have not stopped the bombing. What is he trying to do there?
KASPAROV: Syria was an attempt to bring attention from Ukraine, where actually Putin failed to achieve his proclaimed goals of annexing the country.
GIGOT: Pick another front.
KASPAROV: Yes. And now he sees another opportunity to defy America and to demonstrate that despite Obama's claim five years ago, let's not forget, Assad must go, Assad stays, it's a very important message, both for Russians and also for people around the world, showing that Putin is in a position to keep his allies, no matter how bad, a war criminal, keep him in the office at any cost.
GIGOT: We have a Russian major general essentially saying threatening the United States, saying we can shoot down any planes if you attempt to do any bombing of Assad's positions.
KASPAROV: It's a part of an intimidation campaign.
GIGOT: I don't recall that for a long time, that kind of a direct threat.
KASPAROV: Look, they have been intimidating the Secretary of State John Kerry for four years.
GIGOT: Fair enough, but that's a different standard --
GIGOT: -- than threatening to shoot down American airplanes.
KASPAROV: But what happened escalation. They're already losing a sense of reality. They created a parallel picture, parallel reality on Russian TV, and eventually believe that America will retreat.
KASPAROV: -- no matter what they say, no matter what they do.
GIGOT: What about John Kerry's saying that they need to have a war crimes investigation? Mean anything at all?
KASPAROV: It's OK. I would say it's a too little, too late, but better late than never. I don't believe this administration will move in the months remaining in office. Obama's foreign policy is an absolute disaster. He brought us to almost world war. And unfortunately, instead of talking about real issues and about exposing the failure of this administration, we are consumed with scandals.
GIGOT: Do you think that Putin would like to use the next three months to get as much more territory and consolidate Assad's position in Syria as he can?
KASPAROV: I think he's waiting to see how it comes, but he sees Trump is sliding, recognizing that Hillary will be in office, and especially the trauma of the failed policy, I think Putin will do absolutely everything he can. Not only in Syria. Let's not forget that the puppet parliament, the Russian parliament, just now announced after controlling the Russian news in Syria, that they will consider to reopen Russian bases in Vietnam and Cuba.
GIGOT: And that's a direct provocation to the United States --
KASPAROV: Absolutely. They will keep provoking the United States. Putin has no other means of demonstrating his strength inside Russia.
GIGOT: Your advice to the next president would be you need to be more forceful and stop --
KASPAROV: I still hope this administration will do something, not just leave everything in pieces, in debris, after leaving office, because every day counts. While Obama cares about his image, you know, and his legacy, there are hundreds of thousands of people at least in Syria and the entire political equation in Europe and the United States could be at risk as well.
GIGOT: Gary Kasparov, thank you for being here. We appreciate it.
Still ahead, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton prepare for tomorrow night's showdown in St. Louis, can they move past the controversies currently dogging their campaign?
GIGOT: Welcome back to the "Journal: Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
And we're live as we look ahead to tomorrow night's town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis.
A developing story this weekend shaking up the presidential race with Donald Trump is apologizing for lewd remarks he made about women in 2005. Now, his wife, Melania, releasing this statement. It reads, quote, "The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me. This does not represent the man that I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader. I hope people will accept his apology, as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."
We're back with Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Jason Riley; editorial board member, Mary Kissel; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Kim, what do you make of Melania's statement?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: If this is the best they can do, they really do have a problem. The wife of the candidate is saying that he said unacceptable and offensive things. And she can say please forgive him. But the problem that he has is not just with women voters, all voters. What Donald Trump has done here is set a standard that made people question whether or not they can cast a vote for him. Now, it's not really about a choice between him and Hillary but whether or not people can actually bring themselves to vote for him. That is a new and different and harder standard.
GIGOT: He's got to do it himself, Dan. He's got to persuade people himself on Sunday in that debate.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Oh, I think so. And to his good fortune, he's got the perfect forum in which to do that. It's going to be a town hall. You know he'll get questions about this from some of the people picked by the Gallup organization. He'll just have to relate to them and tell them, in the most personal way, why his candidacy should rise above these lewd statements.
And, you know, we've brought this up in the first segment, as Jason was saying, if he had been running a candidacy based on tax policy, deregulation, a coherent national security policy, he would have been able to fall back on that. Now, as he was from the beginning, it's all Donald Trump.
GIGOT: Should he go back, when he answers the question, say, bring in the Clintons, bring in Bill Clinton's history? From his apologies, it sounds like maybe he would do that. But that brings it up, that escalates.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Probably not for him to do. I think it ought to be mentioned that some of the loudest voices here condemning him are people who said it's just sex when Bill Clinton did what he did in the 1990s, and we could go into what exactly he did to Paula Jones that triggered that lawsuit and made him pay close to $1 million and got him disbarred. But I think for Trump he should probably just focus on apologizing and going to the issues where he's got a better economic plan, a better security --
GIGOT: Refresh my memory, Jason and Mary. Did Hillary Clinton ever apologize for Bill Clinton's --
JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST: Not to my recollection.
MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: No, I don't think so.
This is a make-or-break debate for Donald Trump. He was already losing momentum after his performance in the first debate. And if they had said -- actually what Dan outlined a normal campaign where you actually talked about ideas and communicated them to the American public. Trump has shown no evidence that he has the capability or intention to do that.
GIGOT: The first 20 minutes of the first debate.
KISSEL: Yeah, that's about as long as he can keep focus.
FREEMAN: He did good on law and order.
RILEY: But Trump has to do what Mike Pence did in the vice presidential debate, which is to not be baited into responding to all of these insulting things and divisive things that he said, and try and stay on offense, pick your spots. You want to work in a comment about the Clinton Foundation, you take a question, you find an opening, and you go there. You want to talk about ISIS and the rise of ISIS on Hillary's watch and Obama's watch, you pick your spots. But try and stay on offense. That's going to be tough I think in this format. I don't know if that's going to play to Trump's -- Hillary Clinton's strategy.
GIGOT: What does she need to do?
HENNINGER: I think Hillary needs to -- that's an interesting question in that could Hillary take it too far, the way she did in the first debate? If she comes out there and keeps pounding on him and is embedded in that by Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, people, I think, that want to support Trump are going to feel as though this is pile-on. I think she should play it cool.
KISSEL: But when did Trump do well in the polls? When he was reading from scripts and a Teleprompter. When did he start to lose momentum? In the first debate when he had to answer off-the-cuff.
GIGOT: Any realistic possibility, Kim, some of the speculation in the media that Donald Trump could, in fact, drop out? He says no. But if he did drop out, and that would be the first thing that would have to happen, could there be a substitute put on the ballot in time for the election?
STRASSEL: Look, I think we've got to see what happens today. What you began seeing was Republicans were blindsided by this and, at first, began issuing statements saying this was deplorable. Now you have a growing chorus actually saying you need to get out. If he stays and the entire Republican universe and a lot of voters out there who can no longer accept him, he may be forced to.
The question is, people have noted, you know, there have been ballots printed, people have already been early voting, votes have been cast. One possible solution is he actually finishes the race on the ticket but with a vow that he would step down if the ticket actually won and hand it over to Mike pence. Otherwise, it's quite complicated and involves RNC meeting and picking a new person, changing rules. It's a real mess.
GIGOT: James, it's complicated. It could be done. But the first thing, he would have to step down. That, I think, would only happen if he faced this united front by Republicans. And that would probably guarantee the election defeat anyway.
FREEMAN: Just to be clear, it's too late to take his name off the ballot.
GIGOT: In most states.
FREEMAN: Almost everywhere in the country, it's going to say Trump. As we've said, hundreds of thousands of people have already voted. If you look at battleground states, early voting has been on for a while.
GIGOT: Thank you all.
Still ahead, former President Bill Clinton tells the truth about Obamacare, putting his wife and fellow Democrats in a tough situation. So will Republicans drive his point home in the closing weeks of the campaign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got this crazy system where, all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care and then people are busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Former President Bill Clinton infuriating many Democrats this week with those comments on Obamacare. But as premiums continue to rise and coverage choices shrink, Mr. Clinton is saying out loud what many Americans already know about President Obama's signature policy achievement. So will Republicans drive his point home in the closing weeks of the campaign?
We're back with Dan Henninger, Jason Riley, James Freeman, and Kim Strassel.
So, Jason, Bill off the reservation here or crazy like a fox somehow?
RILEY: He told the truth. He's right. Coverage is being reduced, premiums are going up. And the government is being forced to spend money it doesn't have. Exchanges are expensive. Medicaid expansion is expensive. But fundamentally --
GIGOT: But why would Bill Clinton raise this, is my question, Jason. Is he doing this to sort of suggest a little bit maybe, to voters, look, Democrats are actually -- we understand this isn't working, so just bear with us, we'll fix it in the next administration?
RILEY: He may be trying to give some -- yeah, some cover.
GIGOT: Cover to his wife.
RILEY: Absolutely. I think -- sure.
HENNINGER: Well, having -- Obamacare enrollees are voters too. Their premiums have gone up an average of 24 percent, right?
GIGOT: For 2017.
HENNINGER: For 2017. And Bill Clinton clearly sees that there is a political vulnerability here. And he's trying to forestall it, and as you say, suggesting that Hillary will address this at the time. The problem is that the other side of the ticket really isn't hitting her on this vulnerability.
RILEY: Right. That's the bottom line. Trump isn't talking about it.
FREEMAN: This is really a great opportunity for him to make a very simple case, more freedom, lower costs, more choice, versus the Obama/Clinton model, which is less choice, exchanges losing options everywhere around the country, co-ops failing, costs going up.
GIGOT: Kim, you wrote a column this week about the Trump campaign and Obamacare, and pointed out that Trump really hasn't used this issue much. It didn't come up at the first debate at all. Mike Pence tried it at his debate some. Why isn't Trump using it?
STRASSEL: It's almost inexplicable. You have to think back, Paul, to the primary, Donald Trump, clearly whenever health care came out, he seemed to be out of his depth. You had that one particular kind of raucous debate where Marco Rubio made fun of him for only having one policy idea, which was purchasing insurance across state lines. I don't think he's comfortable talking about this issue. I think he's worried about getting hit with questions that he doesn't know how to handle. I think that's silly, by the way, because it's not very hard to have an effective message on this, which is here is your choice between Hillary Clinton's system, which she says she's going to double down on, and mine, which is about more choice, lower cost, and better customer satisfaction.
GIGOT: Republicans are using the issue, Dan, in the Senate and in the House races. Senate races in particular. We have an excerpt here, something related to Evan Bayh's campaign in Indiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to defend the Affordable Care Act. It is one of the great accomplishments, not only of this president but of the Democratic Party going back to Harry Truman.
BILL CLINTON: It doesn't make any sense. The insurance model doesn't work here. It's not like life insurance. It's not like predicting floods. It doesn't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: That was a Donald Trump web ad, not related to the Senate campaign. So Trump is trying now with this web ad to make an issue of it.
But let's talk about the Senate races. Evan Bayh in Indiana, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, both out of the Senate for six years, for more than six -- I guess it is six -- but they didn't run for reelection in 2010, after they provided the crucial 60th vote, each of them, to pass Obamacare. Is it coming back to haunt them?
HENNINGER: It is coming back to haunt them. If Donald Trump does poorly tomorrow night, the Republican Party is going to go into save the Senate mode, save those seats, and these will be the sorts of offences they'll be running. John Johnson will run this down at Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.
Pat Toomey will do it against --
HENNINGER: -- McGinty in Pennsylvania. Obamacare, I think at the state level, where people are feeling these premium increases, is going to be at the center of these Senate races.
GIGOT: This is the best issue, may be the best issue Republicans have in these Senate races, James.
FREEMAN: It's great. Trump really, he doesn't have to do too much to win it, because the base has already been laid. Everyone knows it doesn't work. They know it's denying them coverage options. They know the costs are going up. People don't like it. All he has to do is go a little bit further. When he talks about letting people cross state lines, he needs to say, I want to let you determine what insurance coverage you want. I'm not going to let the government tell you you've got to buy this big expensive package, which is really the cause of the whole problem.
GIGOT: Hillary Clinton's alternative, which is a public option, which is basically a public insurance offering that is another giant step towards national health care and single payer.
When we come back, Donald Trump called it the civil rights issue of our time. So just where do the candidates stand on the issue of school choice? School reform advocate, Campbell Brown, joins us, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will fight to make sure every single African-American child in this country is fully included in the American dream.
TRUMP: That includes the new civil rights issue of our time, school choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: That was Donald Trump in Roanoke, Virginia, last month, calling school choice the civil rights issue of our time.
And this election season, Massachusetts is ground zero in the fight for education reform, with voters deciding on November 8th whether to support a ballot initiative that would raise the cap on charter schools, adding as many as 12 new charters in the state each year.
Campbell Brown is a former anchor for CNN and NBC News and co-founder of the education site -- The 74.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, THE 74 MILLION & FORMER NEWS ANCHOR: That's right, for 74 million kids.
GIGOT: All right, terrific.
Charter schools, this is not a great issues election, unfortunately, but --
BROWN: It's a huge issue in Massachusetts.
GIGOT: That's right. Reform is important for the country.
Tell us about this Massachusetts race. What's at stake?
BROWN: If there was one place in the country where you want to see charters expand, it's Massachusetts. They're the best charter schools in the country, by far. Every think-tank, every university that's looked at it has found it to be extraordinary. Growth in reading scores among charter kids four times as traditional, six times in math, of traditional students. But there is a wait list, 32,000.
BROWN: On the wait list in a wait list in Massachusetts. And unless they lift this cap, you're not going to see an expansion.
GIGOT: So the response though is, you know, Massachusetts public schools are also some of the best in the country. So why do you need more charter schools in a state that's already performing so much better than other states?
BROWN: Because not everybody has access to those schools. This cap would expand charters only in nine out of 351 communities. Those nine communities are where the poorest kids live and are where the schools are failing. They have no other option. And what is so cynical and horrible about what the other side has done here is they've gone into largely wealthy communities, instead --
GIGOT: The great schools in there.
BROWN: -- and lied to people there and said, if this passes, they are going to siphon money from your schools and give them to these new charters. It is a lie, but they're on the air with these ads and it's doing real damage.
GIGOT: Charlie Baker, the Republican governor, Trump Republican governor, tried to get this legislation through the Democratic legislature and failed, and then he went to the ballot. And now that's why this is --
BROWN: And he may be able to get -- it's very close, if you look at the polls right now. But he is one of, if not the most popular governors in the one. I think he has 68 percent approval rating with Democrats and a 74 percent approval rating with Republicans. He has yet to go on the air and make the case for this.
GIGOT: Does he have the money to do it? Because the unions are going all into that.
BROWN: The unions have spent, and looking to spend I think around $18 million. This is -- charters are an existential threat for them. To your point, they are going in all the way. There is a big fundraising campaign to try to help Baker get this across the finish line. The hope is people are just now tuning into the issue because there has been other noise in the campaign, and if he can be out there these last few weeks it will make a difference.
GIGOT: Are there safeguards in the referendum that would allow, that would make sure that this point about siphoning off dollars from the public schools is not accurate?
BROWN: It's simply not true. Charters are about 4 percent of the schools in Massachusetts. They get 4 percent of the money. If this passes and they lift the cap, it will be 6.5 percent of the school funding. It's just a ridiculous argument but it's effective.
GIGOT: And by the way, charters are public schools.
BROWN: They are public schools.
GIGOT: These aren't private schools, aren't just for rich Harvard sons and daughters. These are kids just, who, like, need a public education like everybody else.
Let's turn to the presidential campaign. And it's interesting to me the biggest change here, in a way, Donald Trump, not so much in the sense that Mitt Romney was also for education reform. But Hillary Clinton has taken a step back from where Barack Obama was in supporting charters, for example, where her husband was in supporting charters. How do you read what she has done in the campaign?
BROWN: I think it's been incredibly disappointing. She was champion. You are right. Her husband was the first president who created a stream of federal funding to go to high-performing charter schools. For decades, she was championing them as the path for the future. And because she needs and wants the teachers unions' endorsement, she not only backed away from her position but actually said derogatory and untrue things about charters, saying they don't take the heart to teach kids, which is just false.
GIGOT: Which is -- which is not true.
BROWN: No. In Massachusetts, in New York, charter kids are chosen by lottery. So they take everybody, who wins the lottery. So it's disappointing to see her do this. I understand why she is doing it. But it is purely cynical politics.
GIGOT: Let's step back, little bigger picture for a second. What is the state of the school reform, school choice movement in the United States? What where do we stand?
BROWN: Unfortunately, this has been an unusual campaign. For I think for a whole host of unusual reasons.
There hasn't been a lot of discussion about education.
GIGOT: We know all that.
BROWN: But we have to look beyond what happens on November 8th, and have a much -- you know, whether it's led by Paul Ryan or other leaders at the federal level, it's very easy for Republicans to say, this is a state issue, we don't have to get involved in this. But I think at the federal level if there is not someone leading the conversation in this country about what public education should look like, we are failing. Because of all the reasons you talk about. You know, what is happening with automation and globalization, that's not going away. The jobs of the future are going to be radically different for our kids. We have to change the way we educate your kids in order to prepare them for that. Someone has to lead that conversation.
GIGOT: We will continue with that conversation.
Thank you, Campbell.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.
GIGOT: Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.
Kim, start us off.
STRASSEL: Paul, more than three years ago, liberal prosecutors in Wisconsin began a campaign of intimidation and harassment against dozens of groups that had supported Governor Scott Walker's reforms by launching this probe that involved secret subpoenas and pre-dawn raids on groups. It took the Wisconsin Supreme Court to shut that down. So this is a hit for the United States Supreme Court, which was asked to review and reopen that Wisconsin decision. They refused to do that and, therefore, have finally put an end to all this abuse.
GIGOT: Be sure to get Kim Strassel's book, "The Intimidation Game," that talks about this and other things.
RILEY: This is a miss, a big miss for the new Museum of African-American History in Washington, D.C., which is trying to write Justice Clarence Thomas out of black history. Justice Thomas is clearly one of the most important and consequential legal minds of his generation. And the museum is relegating him to a footnote simply because he's a black conservative. It's shameful.
GIGOT: It sure is.
FREEMAN: Paul, this is a miss to the Food and Drug Administration, which has a new rule banning tobacco companies from offer free samples. This is now threatening a long tradition of cigar makers donating their product to troops overseas. Yes, it's true. People can go into combat in Iraq and Afghanistan but may not be able to fire up a stogie afterwards. Terrible.
HENNINGER: Well, with apologies to everybody out there who have a phobia over clowns, this is a miss to the panic sweeping the county over the scary clown sightings.
This has gone from rumors on social media to schools being locked down across the country over clown sightings. The people are actually dressing up like clowns to get a piece of the panic.
GIGOT: Is that news to you, Freeman?
FREEMAN: Only in America.
HENNINGER: We're going to be overrun by Bozo the Clown.
GIGOT: Oh, man.
All right. Remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JER on FNC.
That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel. Thanks to all of you watching. I'm Paul Gigot. And we hope to see you right here next week.
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