What to expect from Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," March 10, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DAVID ASMAN, FOX HOST: Welcome to the 'Journal Editorial Report'. I'm David Asman, in for Paul Gigot.

In a week of breaking news, an extraordinary announcement from South Korea's national security adviser on Thursday night saying that President Trump would meet face to face with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un in the upcoming months. Just hours after his own secretary of state said the U.S. was, quote, 'a long way from direct talks, the president himself tweeted out, quote, 'Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned.'

John Bolton is the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Fox News contributor.

John, good to see you.
Let's go back just a couple of months to January when a president tweeted out, had another tweet about North Korea. He said, 'North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I, too, have a nuclear button but it is much bigger and more powerful than his, and my button works.'

After that, Ambassador Bolton, we had this outcry from the media and the establishment saying, oh, my god, what has Trump done. We'll never have another meeting from the North Koreans. And, now we have this. Clearly, they were dead wrong.

JOHN BOLTON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, exactly. This is diplomatic shock and awe. I think it's important to understand why Kim Jong-Un probably made that proposal and why President Trump accepted it, probably surprising Kim Jong-Un. I think it's not the sanctions. I think it's because North Korea knows how close it is to achieving the objective of delivering nuclear weapons to targets in the United States and they wanted to buy time. And they fear that if they don't buy time that Trump is serious about the use of military force. Because he said the only acceptable outcome is denuclearization.

What Trump did by accepting the offer I think could well have thrown the North Korean play book into disarray. Kim Jong-Un is sitting there saying, where are the tabs here in the briefing book that explain what we do if he accepts it. So I think -- really, people want diplomacy. Now you're going to get it at the highest level. There's not going to be six months of arduous preparations or anything like that. In fact, I wouldn't wait until the end of May. I would have this meeting before the end of March.

ASMAN: Yes. And it may happen soon. It could be in a week or two. But it does show, does it not, that the tough talk of this administration and the tough action alongside the tough talk actually work.

BOLTON: Yes. I think nobody wants to see military force used here. But we don't have very many options after 25 years of talking have failed. And I think the North understands that President Trump -- again, he doesn't want to see military force but he's not afraid of it. You know, I just think this could be a very interesting discussion. The discussion I would have at this meeting is for the president to say, OK, what ports do we send our freighters to, what airports do we land or cargo planes at, and what's the logistics of loading your nuclear weapons program into the boats and planes so we can bring them to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the Libyan nuclear weapons program is.

ASMAN: Oh, yes. We remember where that ended up.

Short of war, John, there is a lot that can be done. Of course, the sanctions are going to be stiffened. The president said the sanctions would remain in place until such time as there is an agreement with the North Koreans. But there's also boarding boats, for example, that are going to and coming from North Korea. Those actions will continue, correct?

BOLTON: Yes. And I think that's important. I favor all sanctions on North Korea. But for those who think that sanctions are what's causing this effect to happen, pose this question: How much financial assistance and support has Iran been giving to North Korea before these recent sanctions, and how much assistance are they going to give after the sanctions. The fact is North Korea has dozens of ways of getting around the sanctions.

ASMAN: Yes.

BOLTON: They're the biggest con men in the world. And here's the key point. They're very close to getting across the nuclear delivery threshold. That's the key. They're not going to slow down now and talking isn't going to stop them.

ASMAN: There's another advantage, though, to having talks is that we can keep an eye on the South Koreans. The South Koreans had been engaged in these one-on-one talks with the North Koreans. There are appeasers in the South Korean government that may give too much to the North Korean. At least this gives us a place at the table so we can monitor what they're doing.

BOLTON: Yes. Donald Trump is not sponge cake, and it's not going to be the kind of conversation that I think some in South Korea want to have.

But I've also got a proposal, David, for the location of the talks. I can tell you precisely what room it ought to be in. It ought to be in Geneva at the old League of Nations headquarters. The U.N. owns it now. And it ought to be in the conference room where Jim Baker and the Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister, met in January of 1991, and what then-President George W. Bush called going the last mile for peace. And after that meeting where Tariq Aziz, I think, for six hours, refused to talk about the invasion of Kuwait, wouldn't take a letter from Jim Baker from the president to Saddam Hussain. And I think Kim Jong-Un ought to sit in that room and look around and think about what happened when he stiffed a former U.S. president.

ASMAN: John, I'm sure the White House is listening, and they'll take your instructions verbatim.

Thank you very much, John Bolton --

BOLTON: Thank you.

ASMAN: -- former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Let's bring in 'Wall Street Journal ' columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger and Columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
Dan, what do you make of all of this?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, I think John Bolton, he put his finger on it, to me, the most important element here, which is the North Koreans have an ICBM missile that can hit within U.S. mainland.

Secondly, the main thing they have to do is fasten one of those nuclear warheads to the top of the missile in a way that can reenter the atmosphere. Most experts think they'll be able to do that within 12 to 24 months. Kim knows that. As John Bolton just said, I don't think these talks are going to have any effect on that.
I do believe that Kim has initiated this talk with Donald Trump so that he releases the pressure off of the rest of the world on North Korea so that they can get to that point, between a year and two years. And once they have that missile, with the warhead fastened to the top of it, we're into an entirely new ball game, and talks aren't going to solve it at all.

ASMAN: Mary, what about this is more than just about dialogue with North Korea. It's making sure that the South Koreans don't give away too much?

MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: I think Dan puts the zinger on it when he talks about -- and John Bolton did, too -- that they're not going to backtrack at this point. They want the missile and they want the bomb.

And you know, for them, I think this is buying time. And Kim also gets something out of it, which is the propaganda value of him on the same plane as the U.S. president in an equal sort of picture in a photo that looks good for him. I mean, I understand why the president is going this direction, because, you know, as John Bolton said, we don't have many options available to us, but I don't see any reason for great optimism just because he agreed to this.

ASMAN: No.

But, Dan, it does give me certain confidence to know that it won't be just the South Koreans along with the North Koreans. We'll be at the table as well. Because the South Koreans are going to talk to the North Koreans no matter what we do.

HENNINGER: That's true. The point here is that Trump has made this commitment. It's typical Trump behavior, make the commitment, details later. You're not going to go into any sort of negotiation like this, I would assume, without consulting with, say, the Japanese and even internally in the White House and the administration about what we might do in a conversation with Kim Jong-Un. None of that has happened.

O'GRADY: And it's worth going back and looking at the number of times that North Korea has agreed to something and then violated it.

ASMAN: One thing is nobody saw this coming. That's for sure
When we come back, President Trump announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports over the objections of a lot of people in his own party. But with Friday's robust jobs reports, does it economic argument for tariffs still stand?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I'm defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum. We'll have a 25 percent on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum when the product comes across our borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASMAN: President Trump announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Thursday over the objections of a lot of people in his own party. The president signed a pair of proclamations imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, with several exemptions, including an immediate one for Canada and Mexico as NAFTA talks continue. But did Friday's extraordinary good jobs numbers cut into the president's argument that we need tariffs for jobs.

We're back with Dan Henninger and Mary Anastasia O'Grady. 'Wall Street Journal 'Columnist Kim Strassel joins us. And assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman, also joins the panel.
James, the huge job number on Friday. We haven't had a jobs number over 300,000 new jobs in over two years. Does that belie the argument that we need tariffs for jobs?

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: It does. It says that the Trump tax cuts and deregulation initiative are working. We've had a lot of jobs reports where you say, on one hand other, on the other, this was good, not so good.

ASMAN: Right.


FREEMAN: This was really encouraging. Not just the big number. Not just the upward revisions to previous months. So there's a lot more job creation than we thought. But also, really, just you're seeing finally people come back into the workforce who got discouraged during the Obama years. So, yes, we don't need trade wars. The formula is working.

ASMAN: Right. Right.

And, Dan, the president has gone hot and cold on the whole issue of trade wars. But the bottom line is there were a lot of exemptions that came out when we finally announced it on Thursday. We had, first of all, Canada and Mexico, as I mentioned. There are exemptions for steel that's used to make defense products. And then he sort of, off the cuff, it seems, said that there would be exemptions for companies that manufacture in the United States, kind of appeasing those companies that were thinking of starting up new factories in the U.S.

HENNINGER: Yes. It's very interesting, David. And the stock market I think is reacting to the exemptions. It ended up Friday--Thursday, I guess--at 90 points.

ASMAN: Yes.

HENNINGER: I was watching the market during the speech and while he was talking about security and jobs, two, three, something like that. Then he started talking about President William McKinley and the great Republican tariff. The market went down immediately about 15 points.

(LAUGHTER)


\HENNINGER: And then when he started talking about the exemptions, it started going up and up and up.

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER: And I think the market is seeing it's going to be a long time before anyone has a new tariff imposed on them.
ASMAN: Kim -- let me go to Mary first.

Even if it's tariff light or extremely light because of all of the exemptions won't it have some economic effects?

O'GRADY: It will. It will be an order of magnitude. The more the tariffs, the worse it will be. But going to the question about jobs, it's not a question of whether we need tariffs to save jobs. The point is tariffs will destroy jobs. We know that. They'll save some jobs in the steel industry, which, by the way, has mechanized and uses high-tech now, so uses a lot fewer employees than it did 20 years ago. And it will also destroy jobs for people who use steel, who need that imported steel. And that's even before any of the retaliation starts from other countries.

ASMAN: Kim, the interesting thing is not only do his allies not like it, or a lot of them, but some of his supposed enemies seem to like it. And one is Elon Musk. He sent out a couple of tweets, one, 'I'm against import duties in general, but the current rules make things very difficult. It's like completing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes. 'That's a nice little analogy.' Then he focused on his own industry. He said. 'An American car going into China pays 25 percent import duty but a Chinese car coming to the U.S. only pays 2.5 percent, a 10-fold difference.' What do you think?

STRASSEL: Well, of course, he did because this is exactly Mary's point, that when you have tariffs, they go to special pleaders. And in the end, those tariffs may help the handful of special pleaders, but only at great damage to the rest of the economy. So President Trump would be wise not to be listening to those special pleaders--who, by the way, are the swamp, just saying--

(LAUGHTER)
--but rather to the members of his own party, who have been pointing out to him that this is going to be damaging to the economy. And they're saying, look, have some faith in the tax cuts we just passed for you. A 40 percent cut for steel companies and other manufacturers is going to do far more help to the economy than a new tax on a vital commodity.

ASMAN: By the way, James, speaking of the swamp, to have Wilbur Ross, a guy who used to buy distressed steel companies, come out and be the front man for this seems kind of like there's a conflict of interest there, no?

FREEMAN: Yes, on tariffs and import restrictions, these are all swamp creatures. This is what happens when, instead of letting consenting adults trade freely, you have lobbyists in Washington saying let's protect this or that industry. Yes. Does anyone think that Wilbur Ross is a compelling champion on this score? I would say probably no, and the market said no, and that's why Trump backtracked.

ASMAN: Dan, the president initially said this thing isn't going to spread.

But as we see with Elon Musk and the other industries, thinking, maybe I could get a piece of this pie as well. There's a pile-on effect. Once you offer tariffs to one group, other groups jump in.
HENNINGER: Well, you know, Trump has said many times free trade agreements have been a disaster for the United States. Now we're going to see the Trump model of trade negotiations. He did say that Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer would go out and negotiate individually with all of these countries in Europe, in Asia about their imports. This is going to take a long time to wind through all of those negotiations. He gave a 15-day deadline. We're going way beyond the deadline before we get to the point where we understand if, in fact, there are going to be tariffs.

ASMAN: We've got to move on.
When we come back, we turn from the economic to the Trump tariffs to the politics of it. The fallout inside the White House was swift, with a key adviser resigning. And on Capitol Hill, many are wondering if the move will help or hurt Republicans in the midterms.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is Gary Cohn's last meeting in the cabinet and of the cabinet, and he's been terrific. He may be a globalist, but I still like him.

(LAUGHTER)

He is seriously a globalist. There's no question.

(LAUGHTER)
He's going to go out and make another couple hundred million and then --

(LAUGHTER)

Then he's going to maybe come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASMAN: Kind of a compliment, I guess. President Trump Thursday bidding farewell to his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn. Cohn, of course, announcing his resignation this week in the wake of the president's decision to impose tariffs and steel and aluminum imports, a move that put him on the losing side of a months-long battle with the administration.

Kim, you had a terrific piece in 'the Wall Street Journal ' on Friday about what was going on inside the White House. It was a presidential promise on the campaign trail, no doubt, that he was going to impose tariffs of some kind. But it had been kept under wraps for over a year. What finally took the wraps off?

STRASSEL: Well, look, what gets missed in this is just how much work had gone into getting to a plan. You've got a protectionist faction in the White House. You've got a free-market faction. They had finally met in an uneasy middle and they had a deliberate plan. On paper, it was supposed to start in January with the president's announcement on solar panels and washing machine. And then, there was going to be a very targeted action against China, because many people on both sides can agree that it's a bad actor on things like intellectual property. Instead, the process broke down. Wilbur Ross got in the president's ear --

(CROSSTALK)

ASMAN: He's the commerce secretary.

STRASSEL: He's the commerce secretary. And suddenly, the president is out there imposing steel tariffs, which had been designed to be held in reserve, by the way, on the entire world, not just China. And Gary Cohn was rightfully unhappy that after all of this work that had gone into it, that this was the president just completely throwing all of that overboard.

ASMAN: Of course, James, Gary Cohn is a Democrat. Let's put that out front. He is a globalist. He does believe in a globalist economy. If you don't, you've kind of got your head in the sand. But at the same time, it was always a tough fit in the Trump administration, wasn't he?

FREEMAN: Yes. I think it's disappointing that he's choosing this moment to leave. I actually don't think he was that necessary to the tax cutting. I think you already had a big coalition in Washington ready to do that. You had the Trump plan. You had lawmakers like Pat Toomey pushing it. Now where we need Gary Cohn is making the case for free trade, and I think he's leaving what I think is really the start of the battle.

ASMAN: Mary, you have the president this weekend in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is steel country. If there's a state in the union that's in favor of these tariffs, it is Pennsylvania. But I'm wondering, outside of Pennsylvania, a lot of blue collar communities where they manufacture steel are going to have to pay more for it. How does it play out in the country?

O'GRADY: I think he's betting on the steel producers being very concentrated in certain pockets in the country, and that's precisely where he's going this weekend, in an area of Pittsburgh that's steel country. The disadvantage that steel users have are they're going to be more dispersed, so they don't organize as well, they're not as much of a political force. The test will be whether manufacturers and users of steel can organize and push back against this.
I would add one thing to what you were saying to James about the Democrats.

What Donald Trump is doing is right out of Hillary Clinton's play book. My colleague, Bill McGurn, wrote about that in his column this week. Gary Cohn may be a Democrat who is a free trader, but that's the exception in the party, not the rule. So if Donald Trump is using this, he's basically trying to one-up what the Democrats are already saying, which is they also want more protection for their special interests in organized labor.

ASMAN: But, Dan, of course, what he did is classic Trump. He sets the stage way out front, and then pulls back along the way during the negotiating process, which is why we end up with a set of tariffs that are nowhere near as tough as they started out as.
HENNINGER: Yes and all decisions like this have political consequences.

There's a couple here that Trump may not have anticipated. One, he could be delivering a political wedge between the United States and its allies, the countries affected by this, at a time, as we were just discussing. John Bolton was saying, we need their support with the Korean sanctions.

Secondly, the fact is that within the steel manufacturing industry, there are 900,000 workers versus about 140,000 in steel producing. And a lot of these people are blue collar, they're Trump voters, they're in states like Wisconsin, Michigan. And if they get hurt by the tariffs as their employers are suggesting they might be, they, at the margin, could start turning away from Trump and the Republicans, and that's why they're so nervous about this.
ASMAN: Kim, very quickly to you. Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross now think they're on top of the world, that they have the full control of the economic policy in the administration. My suspicion is that they've kind of topped right now, haven't thy?

STRASSEL: Look, so much now depends on who Trump chooses to be a successor to Gary Cohn. If he puts Peter Navarro there, I think the country is in for some rough, rough economic times. But if he goes and he gets -- I don't know -- a Larry Kudlow, an Art Laffer, there's a chance to further walk back these particular tariffs, and, you know, it's going to offer some hope for those in the White House that are on the free-trade side -- they're very demoralized right now -- that it's worthwhile sticking with this administration and continuing the fight on the battle.
ASMAN: All right.

Still ahead, as the leaks keep come in the Mueller probe, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he's considering a second special counsel. This one to investigate alleged FBI bias and surveillance abuses. So is that a good idea? Our panel weighs in, coming next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DAVID ASMAN, FOX HOST: Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he's seriously considering the appointment of a second special counsel to look into FBI surveillance abuses during the presidential campaign. This after House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy sent a letter to the Justice Department this weekend.

Here's what the attorney general told Shannon Bream on Wednesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have great respect for Mr. Gowdy and Chairman Goodlatte. And we're going to consider seriously their recommendations.

I have appointed a person outside of Washington many years in the Department of Justice to look at all of the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us. And we're conducting that investigation. I also am well aware that we have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the FISA process. We're not afraid to look at that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASMAN: We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and James Freeman.

Dan, there's a whole can of worms that you open if you start with a new special counsel. We've seen special counsels go far beyond their purview in the past. On the other hand, just an inspector general's report may not be enough to do what's necessary to get to the bottom of this. What do you do?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: David, consider the implications of what's being suggested here. We have a problem. The idea is that the Justice Department is inadequate to investigate it. That's the executive branch of government. And now you have Trey Gowdy and Representative Bob Goodlatte saying Congress is not able to do it, therefore, the legislative branch isn't able to do it. This is a failure of American political institutions. What is in between that? The idea that we've had so much polarization and leaking that you cannot get to the bottom of an issue like that speaks badly of our institutions. I think you should probably stick with the inspector general.

ASMAN: Kim, we've got all kinds of failures in our institutions based on what happened in 2016. You have the problems with the FISA court, the problems with the FBI and the Justice Department that were filled with people that didn't want Donald Trump as president, no matter what they had to do to prevent that from happening. What is the very latest? Because a lot of the work is being done by people like you, by people in the media, as few as there are, we should add.

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I would like to say that Congress has done as good a job as it possibly can. The problem has been, of course, is a Justice Department and an FBI that has fought tooth and nail. And this isn't necessarily A.G. Sessions' fault because he's somewhat stepped back from that process. But they've done everything they could to not come buy with congressional requests and continue to hide thing.
Now the latest, which is interesting, is the House Intelligence Committee is looking into the other side of this, the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration's involvement in this so-called dossier, and whether or not they were engaged with political tricks with it. And it sent out several dozen letter to people in the Obama administration asking them what they knew and when they knew it. That will be the next step, finding out some on that.

ASMAN: And of course, James, the mainstream media, with the exceptions like Kim Strassel, the mainstream media is scrupulously avoiding any of the discussion of whether there was collusion between the Hillary campaign and the Russians, vis-a-vis, Fusion GPS.

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Yes. I think we've got one special counsel too many already. You would think that the attorney general, charged with enforcing the laws under the Constitution, could tell us where us were our liberties abused, was the power used for purposes of spying for the party out of power. I don't understand why an attorney general cannot lead that inquiry and, if necessary, any charges that might come from it.

ASMAN: Dan, we thought this was the sort of thing that Mr. Mueller was looking into. Instead, we have a spectacle this week of Sam Nunberg, a guy who apparently was appearing drunk on television shows all over the mainstream media, and this is a star witness that Mr. Mueller has to prove collusion that has -- again, there's not a shred of evidence yet --between the Trump administration and Russia.

HENNINGER: David, this is what you get with special counsels. It's an inadequate vehicle for doing this. We went through a whole series of these in the 1980s. The Independent Counsel Law, it was a catastrophe. Congress ended the independent counsel. Doing the special prosecutors is just more of the same. They're going to nail somebody, no matter what.

ASMAN: All right.

Still ahead, the primary season kicking off in Texas. But despite early reports of a purple wave in the Lone Star State, Tuesday's results left a lot of Democrats singing the blues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASMAN: The 2018 primary season officially kicking off on Tuesday as voters in Texas headed to the polls. While the media hiking reports of a Democratic surge in early voting, hopes for turning the Lone Star State blue or at least purple didn't quite pan out.
Former Bush senior advisor and Fox News contributor, Karl Rove, joining us from Austin with more.

Boy, did they get that one wrong, Karl.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. The early reports were focused on15 big counties in Texas and the Democrats outvoted the Republicans in those 15 big counties. But we got 254 counties and the state is not just Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and their suburbs.

We have Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Temple, Brian College Station. That's a big part of Texas.

ASMAN: Yes.

ROVE: And on the early vote alone, the Republicans were 804,000, the Democrats were 565,000. And then, on Election Day, even more Republicans turned out. And the final total was 1,543,000 for the Republicans to a 1,037,000 for the Democrats.

ASMAN: Wow, 50 percent more Republican voters.

(CROSSTALK)

ASMAN: Now the GOP base, what this shows, at least in Texas, in real red states, is just as strong as ever. Am I wrong on that?
ROVE: Yes, well, that's right. This is the biggest turnout ever in a midterm election for the Republicans. And what's interesting is, we had very few contested statewide elections. The Democrats had a high-profile race for the governor in their primary and a high-profile bid in the Senate. Look, you start to get into the numbers are there are real problems for the Democrats. They nominated the guy they expected to nominate for the Senate, Robert Francis Beto O'Rourke, of El Paso.

ASMAN: Yes.

ROVE: A congressman from out there. He came out there, spent $4.2 million and got 62 percent of the vote. However, the 38 percent of vote he didn't get went to Edward Kimbro, a retired postal service employee, who spent $785.

ASMAN: Wow.

ROVE: Not $785,000 -- $785. And --

ASMAN: That's very amusing.

ROVE: And he got 15 percent. And a woman who spent zero, Zima Hernandez, got 27 percent of the vote. Between the two of them, they carried 103 out of the state's 254 counties.

ASMAN: Well, you may be talking yourself out of a job, because what it shows it that a lot of this expensive political advice doesn't necessarily get you that far anymore.

ROVE: Well, exactly. Take the one race where the Democrats outvoted the Republicans in a congressional primary, a seat held by a Republican, West Texas, district 23. It's traditionally big Democrat turnout. The Republican turnout was a record 5,000 more than their previous record. But still --

ASMAN: OK.

ROVE: -- more Democrats turned out to vote. But the number-one guy they wanted to have run came in third, beaten by a guy who spent 24 grand to $500,000. I mean, it's a weird year in Texas.

ASMAN: Well, this is, we're talking about an historically red state.
Let's talk about an historically blue state that went for Trump that saw a lot of Democrats say we can get back into the blue corner like Pennsylvania. What's going on there?
ROVE: Well, they've got a picture-perfect candidate. If you sent out to central casting and said we want a candidate, it would be Connor Lamb.

(CROSSTALK)

ASMAN: The Democratic candidate.

ROVE: Yes, for the Democrats. Yes, young, attractive, aggressive, willing to say anything.

ASMAN: Former Marine.

ASMAN: Everybody sharing with money. Republican's is a 60-year old state -- long-time state representative. I think, at the end of the day, the district goes Republican. But it will go so because President Trump is putting his political reputation on the line by appearing for Rick Saccone on Saturday before the Tuesday election.

ASMAN: OK. That's the former Marine we just saw a picture of. He's the Democratic candidate. He is a very attractive candidate.
ROVE: Right. Connor Lamb.

ASMAN: Let's talk about the Senate as a whole. Again, there's been a relook, even by some in the mainstream media. Nate Silver, for example, said that the talk about Democrats taking over the Senate was over hyped, that they went too far. What's the latest on that?

ROVE: Well, the latest is, remember, you go back to 1914 when we began electing Senators on a popular basis, and never has the landscape been as favorable to the White House party in a midterm as this one. Of the 33 Senators up, 25 are Democrats, eight are Republican. And of the Democrats,10 are in states that Donald Trump carried. One of them in a state that he carried by nearly double digits. And five of them in states that he carried by between 18 and 42 points. And those five states, in particular -- the Republicans have gotten a great candidate in Missouri, a really great candidate in North Dakota. They have primaries in the remaining three, Montana, Indiana and West Virginia. But we have good candidate in all of them. And a new poll out by Axios showed that in all five of the states the Democrat is losing to the named Republican or to a generic Republican in the other four.

ASMAN: Karl Rove, a very happy, positive, optimistic Karl Rove. Good to see you.

ROVE: Cautiously optimistic and nervous as heck.

ASMAN: Cautiously optimistic. All right, Karl --

ROVE: Nervous as heck.
ASMAN: -- thank you very much.
When we come back, Democrats are doubling down on their opposition of the GOP tax cuts and making it the centerpiece of their midterm campaign strategy. So is that smart politics? We'll ask our panel, coming next.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This gigantic tax cut they just did has created such a gigantic hole in the deficit. If we do nothing in terms of cutting programs, if we just keep things as they are, Americas are going to go flat bankrupt over the next 10 years. Not a joke. This cost, this tax cut is not paid for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: That was Joe Biden in Pennsylvania this week ahead of Tuesday's special House election there. The former vice president offering a glimpse of the Democrats' midterm campaign strategy running against the Republican tax cuts. Attack ads already are airing in some battleground states claiming that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act benefits just the wealthiest 1 percent, and that Republicans are going to slash Medicare and Social Security to help pay for it.
We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, Mary Anastasia O'Grady and James Freeman.
Mary, tax cuts are bad. That's the message that we heard from Joe Biden.
Even when the public disagrees. I mean the public is realizing because of their pocketbook that, in fact, tax cuts appear to be pretty good. But that's their line and they're sticking to it.
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: They're also accompanying that with a lot of scare tactics about the size of the fiscal deficit. It's very interesting to see Joe Biden suddenly concerned about the fiscal deficit because we had eight years of a lot of spending by --
(CROSSTALK)
ASMAN: Doubling the debt to $20 trillion.
O'GRADY: Exactly. Yes. But the other thing is Joe Biden doesn't talk about growth. The only way to get out of the entitlement problem we have, which is the big cause of the deficit, is by growing faster.
ASMAN: Yes.
O'GRADY: I mean, you need entitlement reform, but you also need faster growth. And --
ASMAN: And we didn't grow fast at all during the Obama administration.
O'GRADY: Yes. And we're getting that now with the tax cuts.
ASMAN: Dan, Joe Biden, notwithstanding, even though we began the segment with him, and he wants to run in 2020, apparently, for president, but his party is moving to far to the left. Is there room for any middle ground at all among the Democrats?
HENNINGER: Well, that's one of the big questions. The Democratic Party is dividing between economic populists and identity and gender populists.
Gender populists tend to be on the coast. In the heartland, places like Pennsylvania, they're economic populists. This Pennsylvania '18 thing is really interesting. You've got possibly Donald Trump's opposition candidate, Joe Biden, campaigning for Connor Lamb. Trump himself is going down there this weekend. I think that had a lot to do with this tariff announcement that he made on Thursday.
ASMAN: Right.
HENNINGER: There's a big steel producing company down that. Man, if he loses, if Trump loses the Pennsylvania '18, it's going to be a much bigger even than it should be.
ASMAN: Again, in Pennsylvania, James, we mentioned this with Karl Rove, they've got an attractive candidate, the Democrats do. Former Marine.
He's not your typical Nancy Pelosi-kind of Democrat. But if you look at the platform, the Democrat platform, and it's essentially two things, hate Trump, and tax and spend. That's basically it, right?
FREEMAN: Yes. Connor Lamb is presenting himself as moderate. I'm not sure he's all that moderate. But it's a different approach from the Sanders' wing of the party.
But it is important because Republican members of the House -- and I assume this is true on the Democratic side as well -- they are looking at this as a barometer of how they're going to do. So if Democrats win, it is at least going to be a moral blow for Republicans as they try and hold the House. But I'm not sure it's really a perfect test for what happens this fall, just because, unlike traditional Republicans in that district, this is not a pro-union candidate. Maybe a fifth of the district is union households. This isn't exactly the test you would think.
ASMAN: Kim, the spotlight this week in the Democrat/Republican fight has been on California and the sanctuary cities rule that they have there that has gone as far as you can go to the left with the Oakland mayor not only not agreeing to help ICE agents but going further and warning criminal aliens where and when the ICE agents were coming to arrest them. This set up the president calling out that woman -- we see there the Oakland mayor -- and saying, look, you're violating the law and we're going to get you.
STRASSEL: This is another function of this party being driven left. This is not a good look to be activity against law and order. Many people in the country, obviously, have a lot of sympathy for DREAMers. They want to see action done there. But when it comes to the question of following the law, there does tend to be a lot more public support for some of the policies that President Trump espoused. This is another potential vulnerability for Democrats going into this election. Not necessarily in places like California, but it does resonate much more loudly in the places that they need to win, those battleground states, in November.
ASMAN: Mary, it's just common sense. There's a common-sense element to this opposition to a lot of what the Democrats have been calling for.
O'GRADY: Well, I think, you know, you saw Chuck Schumer talking about how the tax cuts are costing the country its infrastructure. That's an example of how the Democrats are really trying to look very mainstream and say, no, this isn't about some crazy redistribution of income. This is about, you know, America's infrastructure, building roads and bridges, and so forth.
That's the tact they feel like they need to take because they do have to try to reclaim some of that center ground from Donald Trump.
ASMAN: Yes.
And we have very -- we only have 15 seconds. But another platform that they have is this guaranteed universal income. Do you think that's going to gain any traction at all, Dan?
HENNINGER: Not when the economy is producing 300,000 jobs a month, David.
That's the thing they can't overcome.
ASMAN: All right.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, 'Hits & Misses ' of the week. Stay tuned.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ASMAN: Time now for our 'Hits & Misses ' of the week.
Kim, you have a very timely one. Go ahead.
STRASSEL: David, the nation is trudging off to reset clocks this weekend for Daylight Savings Times, that biannual tradition that destroys our circadian rhythm for no good reason whatsoever.
(LAUGHTER)
So my hit goes to the Florida legislature which overwhelmingly passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which will put the state permanently on Daylight Savings Time.

(CROSSTALK)
STRASSEL: Now, it turns out, the feds have to approve this. But I say Make America Great Again and do it.
(LAUGHTER)
I don't care if it's Daylight Savings Time, I don't care if it's Standard, just put us on one, and allow us to rest in peace.
ASMAN: James, you have an interesting one, not one that I would expect you would be in favor of. But, go ahead.
FREEMAN: Well, I do like, where possible, laud Chicago community organizers. And right now, they have organized against Chicago's most famous community organizer of all time. The former president, Barack Obama, is encountering some unexpected resistance to his new Obama center.
People are concerned it's going to mess up the neighborhood and he is building on top a national historic park. Go figure.
ASMAN: OK.
Mary, you have -- Cuba's in your purse, right now?
O'GRADY: Yes. This is a miss for the geniuses who said all we have to do is open a U.S. embassy in Cuba and they will start behaving like civilized people. This week, a dissident group in Cuba was going to give an award to--it was going to be picked up by two former presidents from South America, Columbia and Bolivia. The Cuban government deported them when they arrived at the airport and denied a visa to the head of the OAS.
ASMAN: Dan, you have a hit?
HENNINGER: I'm going to give a hit to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment for holding up the attempt by a foreign company to take over Qualcomm, one of our cutting-edge companies in mobile technology. The issue here is whether this takeover would cripple the U.S. in its competition with China in the area of technology. David, it would be nice to think our competition with China was just commercial. It's not. It's military and it's strategic.
(CROSSTALK)
ASMAN: Good stuff, everybody. Thank you very much.
That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm David Asman. You can catch me weekdays on 'AFTER THE BELL ' on the Fox Business Network. Paul is back next week. We hope to see you then.

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