Exclusive: Ted Cruz on fight to hold off Beto O'Rourke

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," November 5, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Hello there. Good to have you in New York. We're going to have the best coverage anywhere tomorrow night, so just keep it here folks. Bret, thank you so much.

So, as Bret was saying, with just hours to go until the polls open, here is the final push.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is one of the most important elections of our time.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Your vote could make things a little bit better.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: That blue wave is going to hit a red wall right here in the Volunteer State.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We got to stick together, we got to move together. This is the United States of America, there is nothing we cannot do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need all -- get on the phone tonight and call everybody you know. That's how close it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the future of our country for the calls of Liberty, this is the time and this is the hour.

REP. BETO O'ROURKE, D-TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: To change the government. To make sure that it reflects our values, our aspirations, our ambitions.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: We defend liberty, we defend the Constitution, come and take it.

OBAMA: Do not complain, do not vote.

TRUMP: We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never back down.

OBAMA: Do not get anxious. Don't get freaked out.

TRUMP: We are going to work, we are going to fight, and we are going to win, win, win.

OBAMA: Vote!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACCALLUM: Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is "The Story." As Republicans and Democrats forge ahead in the final sprint, less than 24 hours until we start to get the first wave in our election headquarters here for the results coming in, we're going to find out tomorrow night where does America really stand today.

All-star panel for you tonight. Karl Rove, Mollie Hemingway, and Jess O'Connell. Plus two exclusives this evening. Texas Senator Ted Cruz who is defending his seat in the Senate against rising star, Beto O'Rourke for the Democrats. And Vice President Mike Pence who just made news by doubling down on his prediction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I really believe that Republicans will expand our majority in the Senate and will hold our majority in the House of Representatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: There you have it. But first, chief national correspondent Ed Henry with the breakdown of the final push as it plays out tonight. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, great to see you.  Think about how much ground President Trump may have made up with these midterms.

The campaign started with talk of a blue wave, skepticism about the president, putting himself front and center. But it's closing with prognosticator Nate Silver, hedging on whether Democrats will take back the House. And the president talking confidently today about GOP pickups in the Senate.

The president doing exactly what he promised. What he suggest here early on, he would leave nothing in the locker room. He is been on the field, non-stop barnstorming all weekend. Three more rallies today in key battlegrounds, boasting about how he's had packed houses already today in Ohio and Indiana, as he pushes to one final rally tonight in Missouri.

With Bill and Hillary Clinton largely on the sidelines, Democrats taking their relatively rare step of deploying the most recent former president against a successor. Barack Obama campaigning all weekend in charging the Trump administration is "robbing you blind and warning voters not to be bamboozled."

You mentioned that exclusive with Vice President Mike Pence in Montana, site of another key Senate battle. He and the president talking about caravan and illegal immigration. But the closing argument also includes a case for the strong economy. The president declaring that if Democrats score big wins, they will take what he calls a wrecking ball to the recovery. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: And I just had a call from Missouri. They say they've never seen anything like it. So, it's really something, something is happening.  There's a lot of electricity in the air.

OBAMA: What kind of politics we expect is on the ballot? How we conduct ourselves in public life is on the ballot.

PENCE: As I travel across the country, I get a sense, a great sense of enthusiasm. Just like I felt in 2016. And I think we're poised for a great victory on Tuesday, November 6.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: It is ABC Washington Post poll had found 65 percent of the public has a positive view of the economy. That's up from 51 percent just before the inaugural. Highest level of optimism since 01.

In a new NBC Wall Street Journal poll, the President does not seem quite as toxic as he's portrayed. 38 percent said their vote will be cast a signal opposition to him, 31 percent say their vote was signal support for the president.

Now, the president told supporters today, he knows many in the media have already declared this is a referendum on him. But if he holds the House, the media may shrug and not exactly give him credit.

But the president noted if the Republicans have a bad night, he expects they'll play it like its "THE END OF THE WORLD." Martha?

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Ed. So, here now with more, Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush and Fox News contributor. Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the Federalist, and a Fox News contributor. Jess O'Connell, former CEO of the Democratic National Committee. Good to have all of you with us this evening.

Karl, let me go to you first. You know, the president basically says, you know, no matter what happens, he'll be blamed for somehow being a failure in all this.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well that's the role of a sitting president. I mean, we -- that's -- since 1860, we've only had three instances where the party of the president has picked up seats in the House in a midterm election. So, lots of presidents of great names have been blamed for the defeat of their party.

This, this election now has played out weirdly with like so many things in the last couple of years. With the president being the beneficiary of a map that allowed him to campaign extensively on behalf of Senate candidates. And less so on behalf of House candidates.

But we're likely to have a split decision. And so, people can scream all they like. But if it's a split decision, that's something of a victory for the president.

MACCALLUM: Just as you look forward to tomorrow, and you look at all -- you know, the latest spread is plus three for the Democrats by, at least, one measure. So, it's clearly tightening a bit as we head into tomorrow.

JESS O'CONNELL, FORMER CEO, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Yes, absolutely. This election is, is close. We are a divided country right now. But, this is an election of a lifetime, and I think that that's what we're seeing in this unprecedented participation out there. And on the Democratic side, as we know, there's a ton of enthusiasm that started with the hundreds of -- and thousands of candidates that started running from the very beginning along to the volunteers that are participating and have been participating for months now. Not just this past weekend.

And then, we see the early voting and just how many people are coming out, we have 35 million Americans that have voted and young people. This is going to benefit Democrats for this election. Young people are fired up, they understand what's at stake, and President Trump is on the ballot, and that's what people are looking at right now.

But also, so are the Republicans that have been complicit in this administration in where we are today.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, I think it's fascinating. And all of this talk about it being -- you know, such a consequential moment in the midterms.  And I think that comes, Mollie, off of the fact that 2016 was such an enormously surprising and consequential election.

So now is the first time that voters get sort of a next bite at the apple to say what their reaction is to 2016, and whether or not -- you know, their worst fears will realize or things are better than they thought.  What do you think, Mollie?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's important to remember, we might not get much of an answer. If you just go by the guide of history, Democrats should pick up 28 seats, which is more than enough to take back the House.

I think it'd be better to wait and see if they take it by much more than that or they don't take it by as much before we determine exactly what that means in terms of a referendum,

But there will probably be a lot of conflicting messages. I mean, Jesse is right that there is a divided republic. You might see things break in blue states a different way than you're seeing them break in red states. We might not see a consistent wave. We might be seeing excitement in a very polarized republic.

MACCALLUM: Here is Mike Pence talking about his outlook. The president has suggested that they might lose the House. But the vice president feels this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I believe that the Republicans will grow our majority in the United States Senate that will hold the House of Representatives. Because working with this president, Republican majorities have delivered exactly the results that we promised to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: I mean, Karl, you know obviously he's going to be optimistic with his outlook. He'd like to hold the party, but does anybody really know what's going to happen tomorrow?

ROVE: Well, no. In fact, this is how were the election is. We've just been talking here about some of the races. Well, think about one thing we haven't been talking about. And that is there's almost universal acceptance that three Republican governors in deeply blue states are going to get reelected tomorrow.

Hogan in Maryland and Baker in Massachusetts, Andrew Scott in Vermont. I mean, this is how were this election is. It's going to be driven a lot by individual -- the quality of the individual candidates who are able to navigate the currents in their states.

And we're going to have a lot of false signals that this make -- this theme for example that Democrats are -- so, I heard Robert Francis O'Rourke in Texas' Beto say yesterday, we have a 500 percent increase in voter participation by those under the age of 30.

Well, I went looked at the only evidence we have is in the early vote, and in the early vote in the top 15 counties in Texas. That's the only -- it's 63 percent of the statewide vote. It's the only part of the state for which we have detailed information.

Voter participation by 18 and 19-year olds in 2016 was just over two percent of the total turnout. Now, it's just under two percent of turn out. Though, participation of the 20 to 29-year olds was 11 percent of the total of 2016. It's under 10 percent this time around.

So, where we get these signals of all whether 500 percent increase in the youthful participation like Mr. Robert Francis O'Rourke said? I don't know, but that's we're going to --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: It wasn't counting on Karl Rove looking it up. In fact, checking him on it, that's for sure. Let's take a look at this from the president's editorial which is sort of his last statement ahead of the election tomorrow. And he really focused completely on the economy in this, which a lot of Republicans have been wanting him to focus on a lot more rather than the caravan.

He says, "America faces a critical choice whether to build on the extraordinary prosperity that Republican policies have delivered for our nation." And he goes on to say, "Or whether to allow Democrats to take control and take a giant wrecking ball to your economy and your future."

Jess, you know, this is a powerful argument when you look at the numbers.  You've got a GDP, 4.2. Unemployment, 3.7 percent, the lowest since the 1960s. Wages are increasing at a very strong rate up 3.1 percent. How can Democrats argue that the president isn't making good strides here?

O'CONNELL: Look, I think that Democrats are running on three things right now. They're s on protecting health care, because that's the number-one thing that people are talking about throughout the country right now.  People are concerned about health care and Democrats are going to protect it.

On the economy, look, folks want -- and this is not just Democrats, but this is a lot of Independents and some Republicans too. They want to see the continuation of the progress of both social and economic policies from the Obama era. And I think, President Trump can thank President Obama for some of the job growth that we've had over the last two years.

And the last thing is this that folks really want to stop the chaos of the Trump administration, and President Trump, and they want to stop the complicity of Republicans who have -- you know, have been divisive over this time. And I think we're going to see a real reset tomorrow.

And everybody is right, we don't know what's going to happen. We're not sure who's out there voting, but there are a million more Hispanics who are voting and when you are attacking folks for the last two years, people are going to show up, and we're going to see that tomorrow.

MACCALLUM: We will see. I can't wait to see. I think it's going to be really exciting and that very interesting. Thank you, guys. Great to have all of you here tonight. So, coming up next, an exclusive interview with Texas Senator Ted Cruz as he fights to hang on to his Senate seat in a race that could go either way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Now to the high-stakes showdown in Texas where more than $100 million have poured into that state's race. It is the most expensive Senate race in history. A record 4.8 million voters have already cast their ballots. Incumbent Senator Ted Cruz who is here live in moments is fighting to hold off his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke who was out with this new campaign ad claiming that he knows Texas best.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'ROURKE: There is something special happening in Texas right now. In really small towns and really big cities, people are getting off the sidelines and into the game. We are meeting the divisive miss that dominates politics today with a courage, strength, a big heart that could only come from Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the road again, just wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends and I can't wait to get on the road again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So that I think pretty well sums up sort of the tone of Beto O'Rourke's campaign and the message that he's been putting out there.  Joining me now Republican Senator Ted Cruz who is up for re-election in the Lone Star State. Senator, welcome. Good to have you with us tonight.  Good evening.

CRUZ: Martha, great to be with you. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So let's take a look at the RCP average which is you know, an amalgam of some recent polls and it shows you at 51 percent, Beto O'Rourke at 45 percent. But you know, if you listen to your opposing candidate, he says that there is something happening out there in Texas, that something grassroots generated is going to make that number sort of a mirror image of itself come tomorrow. Are you concerned about that?

CRUZ: Well, listen. You're right, there is something happening in Texas.  That adds an example of the slick Hollywood money that is pouring into the state of Texas, tens of millions of dollars. But if you give me a choice between millions of dollars from Hollywood Liberals or standing with the men and women of Texas, I will always choose the men and women of Texas.

And I go to say, I'm encouraged -- I'm encouraged by what we're seeing on the ground. I'm encouraged by the momentum. I think the momentum is with us. We've seen that because of the last few weeks the O'Rourke campaign has gone hard negative. They've got super PACs flooding attack ads on the air because look the people of Texas, the values of Texas. We believe in low taxes, low regulations, lots and lots of jobs. We want to secure the border and we want to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights. That has been my record in the Senate and it's -- and it's why I feel very good going into election day tomorrow.

MACCALLUM: All right, so John Brennan is speaking out, former CIA Director. He says in this election those who stand with Trump must be defeated. And there was a time when you did not stand with President Trump. In fact, he didn't endorse him in the last presidential election.  So if you win, would you endorse President Trump and stand on the RNC stage and endorse him next time around?

CRUZ: Martha, I've already endorsed President Trump and in fact, the President came to Texas and did a rally here in Houston where 100,000 people sign up to go to the rally. You know, it's interesting you brought up John Brennan. John Brennan was the head of CIA under Barack Obama. And if you look at foreign policy, we saw eight years of our friends and allies not trusting us and our enemies getting stronger and not fearing us. And it's that kind of weakness on the foreign policy stage, Texans don't want that.

Texans are glad that today our embassy in Israel is now in Jerusalem.  Texans are glad that we have utterly defeated Isis. Texas are glad that the President had the courage to pull out of the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal. Beto O'Rourke, like Barack Obama, supported giving billions of dollars to the Ayatollah Khomeini who chants death to America. That's not the value of Texans, it is the value though of Hollywood Liberals. It is the value of the extreme left wing that wants to take on and stop all the good progress we've seen the last two years --

MACCALLUM: Well, let me --

CRUZ: -- with jobs, with security, and with freedom.

MACCALLUM: Let me ask you this. Obviously, the President has made the caravan a big issue of late and we've you know, talked a lot about the progression but it's still quite a distance away but it's become a very potent issue in this campaign. And there are some evangelical voters in Texas who've been speaking out who say that they want a more compassionate perspective given to those members of the caravan and that some of them are crossing over from Republican to Democrat. What's your response? Your laughing. What's funny?

CRUZ: Martha, you appear too smart to fall for that. That is silly media spin. Yes, the New York Times found three evangelicals in the state of Texas supporting Beto and they made a big story about it but it. But if you actually live on the planet Earth, listen, Beto O'Rourke is running a hard left Liberal campaign to the left of Elizabeth Warren, to the left of Bernie Sanders. He is the only Democratic Senate nominee in the country to call for impeaching President Trump. So for you to say that he's running an uplifting campaign, it's the most partisan --

MACCALLUM: So let me ask you this. So let me ask you this. Do you think -- let me ask you this. do you think that -- I've got a whole section here, you got it you got a whole back up session for you. So let me ask you this. Do you think that he -- you know, if you were going to just help him with his campaign which of course you won't, but if you -- do you think he ran too far left in Texas. Do you think that if had run more like a Joe Donnelly for example, he would be a tougher candidate for you to beat?

CRUZ: Listen, of course, he did. But that's who he is. He is a far left liberal. If you look on immigration, he supports open borders, he supports sanctuary cities, he opposes Kate's law. I'm the author of Kate's law in the U.S. Senate and let me tell you what the people of Texas want. If you actually represent Texas, we want the border secured. We want the caravan stopped.

Now, there's a right way to come to this country, Martha, and that's legally. You wait in line, you follow the rules the way my dad came to this country in 1957 from Cuba. And Texans don't want an open border Liberal representing the State of Texas. That doesn't -- on every issue, if Beto O'Rourke has a decision between siding with his Liberal donors, Hollywood donors nationally or siding with the people of Texas, he always, always, always sides with the far left.

Let me give an example. Texas, there are millions of jobs that depend on energy, depend on oil and gas. We're in Houston, the oil and gas capital of the world. Beto O'Rourke voted in favor of a $10.00 a barrel tax on every barrel of oil produced in the State of Texas. That's not good. And the flip side -- let me tell you why we're going to win tomorrow. Because the people of Texas see this booming economy, we've cut taxes, we've cut regulations, we've got the lowest unemployment in 49 years. We've got the lowest African-American and Hispanic employment ever recorded. What we're doing works.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. So before I let you go. If all those things are true and he is so not what Texas wants which I'm hearing from you, why is it so close?

CRUZ: Well, I don't think it's that close, but what I do think is happening and we're seeing this nationally is the extreme left is angry.  They're filled with rage. They're filled with hatred for the President.  That means they're showing up in massive numbers. So I want to speak to every Texan watching this show.

If you want low taxes and low regulations and lots of jobs, if you want to secure the border and defend the Constitution, show up tomorrow. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring everybody because the hard left is coming and Texans, we got to stand up and defend common-sense conservative values. And a final point I'll tell you, Martha. We're seeing a coalition every rally we do. This is the 49th one we've done in six weeks. We have Democrats, conservative Democrats, moderate Democrats, Independents, Libertarians joining us in a common-sense coalition that stands for Texas, stands for jobs, freedom, and security because that's what we believe in.

MACCALLUM: Senator, thank you very much. Thanks for taking the questions tonight. Good to see you. And we're going to be watching tomorrow to see how it all plays out in Texas. Thank you, sir.

CRUZ: I appreciate it. God bless.

MACCALLUM: You bet. So coming up next, right here, THE STORY is in the Sunshine State where another Republican is duking it out in a very tight race. Ron DeSantis locked in a tight battle with Andrew Gillum to be the next governor of Florida. He joins me live coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Two women who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct are now facing legal problems of their own. After a lengthy inquiry, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Justice to investigate both women for possibly lying and obstructing a congressional investigation. One case involves Julie Swetnick. In a sworn statement she accused Kavanaugh of drugging women who were then gang-raped but repeatedly contradicted aspects of her own statement in an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see Brett Kavanaugh you know, spiking the punch, put in --

JULIE SWETNICK, ACCUSER OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: I saw -- I saw him given red solo cups to quite a few girls during that time frame.

I don't know what he did but I saw him by them. Yes.

I would see boys standing outside of brooms congregated together sort of like a gauntlets and I didn't know what was occurring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: The second involves a woman named Judy Munro-Leighton who claimed that Kavanaugh raped her. But according to investigator, she later admitted that it was quote just a ploy and that she'd never met Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh of course, was confirmed but his reputation may be forever tarnished.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ashley and I knew this process would be challenging. We never expected that it would devolve into this. Explaining this to our daughters has been about the worst experience of our lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So joining me now in "The Story" exclusive, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa. Chairman Grassley, good to have you with us today. You know, a lot of people would ask, this is behind us now. So what's the point in continuing to pursue the claims of these two women? What would you tell them?

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We have to be able to make it very clear to the entire public that lying to Congress is a is a felony on a couple sections of our code and we want to make sure that the process not only of confirming Supreme Court justices but of course, almost anything where you want to take testimony from the general public that you want to know that it's truthful.

And because every one of these things that come in whether it's anonymous or whether there's a name connected with it, it takes a lot of hours for staff to follow up to see if it's legitimate. And we want to discourage coming to Congress with information that not only hurts individuals but is outright wrong and spend a lot of resources of the federal government to follow up on it.

So, we want to discourage that and that's why we have urged the FBI and the Justice Department to follow up to see if prosecution is legitimate. Congress can't prosecute, but we can suggest things that are wrong and we have a responsibility to turn over to the proper law enforcement people when we know that's a crime may have been committed.

MACCALLUM: OK. So, with regard to Ms. Munroe-Leighton, she, there was a Jane Doe letter that was written about a horrific situation. In this Jane Doe letter, Jane Doe said that she was raped in the back of a car by the judge who was trying to become the next Supreme Court justice which he ultimately did.

Now then this woman, Munroe-Leighton, she then called your office as I understand it and said that was me, I'm the person who claim that and no longer a Jane Doe. What did you learned about her, what did your investigators learned about her, what did she say once you found her?

GRASSLEY: Well, first of all, it was an anonymous letter that came from California through Senator Harris of California. And then it was anonymous at that point. So, we followed up and we were able to track the name down of this lady and following up with her, we found out it was a stunned on her part and she admitted so much.

But it might have been something that was funny to her at the time or she wanted to get part of the action. She may have not liked Justice Kavanaugh. Whatever reasons, I don't know. But the point is, it took a lot of time for our staff to follow up.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

GRASSLEY: Because we have a responsibility to follow up on that and we've got to discourage that. And that's why she was likewise turned over to the FBI for investigation.

MACCALLUM: Yes. She said, "I did it as a way to grab attention. I was angry so I sent it out." She said it was a tactic and a ploy and that she was opposed to the nomination. So, she is saying that she didn't actually write the original letter. She said she did because she wanted to jump on the bandwagon as I understand it.

Now with regard to Julie Swetnick and Michael Avenatti, he attorney, we should, some of the contradictions that she pointed out in the interview that were different than the original statement that she made that was submitted to your committee.

Here's what Michael Avenatti is saying about your committee pursuing this with the DOJ. He says, "Chuck Grassley's partisan report is garbage. There is no evidence that my client or I did anything wrong. We are still waiting and hoping the FBI fully investigates this matter. Chuck evidently didn't have any juice." He says.

GRASSLEY: Well, first of all, he got very personal with me. You didn't read that part of it. But it kind of tells me what generally happens when lawyers don't have the facts on their side then they start attacking the individual.

But also, he asking in one of his TV interviews, he said that he tried to have this whole thing open up because the facts will get out. I don't know how many more facts you can get out than 32 hours of questioning by every member of the committee. And then 1200 questions that were put to him in writing, what other information could get out that hasn't already been asked and answered.

MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you this. Do you plan to pursue or reopen or refer to the DOJ anything with regard to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez?

GRASSLEY: At this point, no, but we put out a 414-page report over the weekend that I would refer you and your listeners too. And that leaves open the possibility of further investigations and further action that can be taken. But right now, I'm not in a position not because I don't want to answer your question, I just don't have an answer for you.

MACCALLUM: OK. And last question, if Democrats do take over control of the House, there's some -- or the Senate, which could happen as well of course, there is some discussion that they might reopen the investigation possibly in the perjury of Judge Kavanaugh. Your thoughts on that?

GRASSLEY: Well, my thoughts on it are that with everything that's been coming up, everything accusation that's been made, and none of it stuck, and they don't find any problems with his record of 12 years on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and everything they threw at him personally nothing stuck to the wall, it just seems to me that they are going down a wild-goose chase.

They can do anything they want to. But to say after four days and 100 days that he was before the United States, four days of hearings and 100 days through before the Senate before he was approved that's about a third longer than the average Supreme Court justice has. If they think they can bring something out, let them go to it. But I think they are barking up a tree.

MACCALLUM: All right. Senator Chuck Grassley, thank you very much, chairman. It's always good to see you. Thank you for being here tonight.

GRASSLEY: You bet. Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, coming up next, Congressman Ron DeSantis standing by live as he hits the home stretch in his race for governor of Florida.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Here we are up here. The race for Florida governor shaping up to be another one of the most anticipated races in the country. And in typical Florida fashion, it could come down to the wire.

Republican Ron DeSantis is in a very tough race against Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee. He is trailing in the latest Quinnipiac poll by seven points.

Joining me now, Congressman Ron DeSantis. Good to have you with us, Congressman DeSantis. Welcome to the Story tonight in Florida. Talk to me a little bit about early voting. Because in the early count, Democrats seem to be outpacing an early voting. Does that concern you?

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: Well, actually, we are going to be ended about 70 to 80,000 votes ahead of where Republicans were in 2016 which, of course, if you remember, we swept all the statewide Senate race, presidential race. So, we are going to be going into the election in a much stronger position than we did in 2016.

Our voters tend to prefer to vote on election day, so I think we have our habitual voters that we're going to mobilized. Obviously, we're going to bring new people into the poll, but I think we're going to decisively win on election day and I think that will put us in a good position to win the race.

MACCALLUM: So, in terms of the younger voter turnout, that also tends to be up in the early voting. I mean, obviously you look at all these demographics, you tried to figure out to kind of extrapolate from early voting to who you are expecting, as you say to come in on election day. Does that concern you? And if not, you know, what areas are you going to really focus on in these final hours where you feel you really need to drive up your turnout?

DESANTIS: Well, we, I think that any of those increases are outpaced by other increases. I mean, our baseline is 2016. I don't think 2014 is a very good barometer.

MACCALLUM: Right.

DESANTIS: This is going to be a significantly higher turnout than 2014. And we're already seeing it with Republicans. And so, you know, our thing is we've identified the voters we need. You know, we are trying to turn them out. I think if we do that we will win because I will get more Democrat votes than Gillum will get Republican votes.

And if you hold drawn with independents and the Republicans turnout, that's how Republicans win statewide elections in Florida. And so that's we are in track to do but we are working hard until the very final buzzer tomorrow night.

MACCALLUM: All right. The question of voters who moved from Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria to Florida, when these races are this razor tight, you know, a few thousand votes obviously could make a big difference. Do you feel like those voters are going to support you or they are going to support -- you know, you were obviously in government, in federal government as a member of Congress? Or will they lean towards Gillum on that?

DESANTIS: Well, I think it will be a mix. You know, we had the congresswoman from Puerto Rico and Orlando with us campaigning today, Jennifer Gonzalez, a good friend of mine. I've been working with her on these issues for the last two years. She's endorsed me. We had legislators from Puerto Rico coming in to endorse me and support me.

So, we are going to do very well there. But we will definitely do very well in Dade County with the Hispanics down there. So, I think all in all, you know, we are going to be very competitive with the Hispanic vote. I think we've got a good shot to win it but certainly will be neck-and-neck statewide.

MACCALLUM: All right. Congressman DeSantis, thank you. We'll be watching it all, obviously very closely from here. Good to have you with us tonight.

DESANTIS: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: You bet. So, coming up next, brand-new dials revealing how Republicans and Democrats and independents really feel about issues just hours before they cast their vote. When we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So, we're just hours away, as you know, and we've got exclusive new dials from Republicans, Democrats, and independents for a read on the how the key issues like immigration and healthcare are playing with voters this election.

My next guest conducted the analysis, Lee Carter, you know her well, communications strategist and president of Maslansky and Partners. Good to have you with us, Lee, tonight.

LEE CARTER, PRESIDENT, MASLANSKY & PARTNERS: Good to be here.

MACCALLUM: This are some of the sound bites that we picked that we wanted to see what people's reaction was to them to kind of get them a gauge for how they are feeling about these topics, so let's jump right in. This is President Trump. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A caravan of thousands of people and now others forming pouring up into our country, we have no idea who they are. All we know is they are pretty tough people, throwing rocks viciously and violently. We are going to put up with that.

They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We are going to consider -- and I tell them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say, consider it a rifle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Wow. That's fascinating.

CARTER: It is such a divided country and the way people hear this is totally different depending on where you sit. Democrats said, look at him, he such a racist. How could anybody believe this. Republicans said, he is right on.

Independents, though, are different. They say, I agree with him, he's just a little bit over the top. I don't think he really means it. The temper what he means but they agree with him on policy and principle, and that's not coming through necessarily on all the polls. I think we are going to see some different results that we might expect tomorrow.

MACCALLUM: All right. Let's take a look at this one on birthright citizenship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Congress has never passed a law requiring birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, and the Constitution does not -- I say that to the media -- does not require it. Read it. Because illegal aliens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: How do you read that?

CARTER: See, you can see it here, again, at the very end, they start today because that's where they are going back to the middle there, but you see Republican said things like I agree with him 2,000 percent completely into this, independents said, I'm not sure he can constitutionally make this happen so I'm going to ignore it and pretend it never happened.

And Democrats are right back at it saying he is racist, this is terrible, this is the worst thing, he's going to destroy our country. The people are interpreting this so, so differently.

MACCALLUM: I think the independents line is fascinating to watch. let's try another one. This is President Obama on GOP and healthcare. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: It's election season, and what else? You've got Republicans out there saying "Well, we will protect pre-existing conditions."

Trust this, if they win this Tuesday, they will finally succeed, if they get control of Congress, you better believe they are coming after your healthcare.

Florida, we can't let Rick Scott become the deciding vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: We can see there again Democrats off the charts, they love this message but what's really interesting to me is Republicans called them a liar and independents, most importantly to me who said, you know what, this is fear-base campaigning. He and the Democrats are accusing the Republicans are being fear-based? That is what he's doing and they didn't think that it was accurate. I'm not so sure that he is the best surrogate--

MACCALLUM: yes.

CARTER: -- out there for the Democrats

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: I mean, we know more and more people are not identifying with the party. So that yellow line is so significant in terms of whether or not, you know, skewing closer to the Republican line or closer to the Democratic line.

One more that we just want to get in here. Hillary Clinton saying that she doesn't want to run but she does want to be president. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to run again?

HILLARY CLINTON, D- FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait.

CLINTON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a pause. Why?

CLINTON: Well, I'd like to be president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: I think that's pretty self-explanatory, but you could see even the Democrats weren't excited about her anymore. She's lost her relevance. The big problem the Democrats have right now in addition to not having a message outside of the healthcare policy, is they don't have a spokesperson, they don't have a leader, they don't have anybody that people are resonating with.

And so that makes it really hard for people to follow because who are you following and what plans and policies are you following? Any time we had a big turnaround do you think about Newt Gingrich or the contract for America.

MACCALLUM: Right.

CARTER: He had a proposal to make things better for the American people. The Democrats just simply don't have that right now.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

CARTER: And it could get them.

MACCALLUM: I wonder how ticket sales are going to be for the Bill and Hillary concert tour. I just wonder. You know, when I look at that, well, I'm just curious. So, we'll see what happens. Lee, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

CARTER: Thank you so much.

MACCALLUM: Great to have you here. It's really interesting. So, Saturday Night Live under fire for a joke about wounded war hero and congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw. But it's Crenshaw's response, that is not to be missed. Governor Mike Huckabee up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE DAVIDSON, COMEDIAN: This guy is kind of cool. Dan Crenshaw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go. Go on.

DAVIDSON: You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie. I'm sorry. I know he lost his eye in war of whatever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Whatever. So that's Saturday Night Live facing backlash after those comments about Republican congressional candidate in Texas Dan Crenshaw.

Back in 2012, the former Navy SEAL was on a mission in Afghanistan when an IED went off in front of him and caused him to lose his right eye. This morning, he responded to SNL's joke this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN CRENSHAW, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, R-TEXAS: They certainly crossed the line but their apology won't mean anything to me. I think what they should do is maybe pool their money together and donate to some veterans' charities out there that could really use some help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Here now, Governor Mike Huckabee, Fox News contributor. Governor, good to have you with us. We should mention Dan Crenshaw did five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After he lost his eye, he went back for two more tours of duty. He is an American hero, governor.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Without a question, he's an American hero and he showed a level of class in his response that is just stunning.

Pete Davidson might have done him a favor. They have sealed his election to a member of Congress. One way to put it is that Dan Crenshaw really showed some class, Pete Davidson showed his 'ass-pirations' to be comedian and failed dramatically. And I would think that NBC has a responsibility not because of Pete Davidson but that was scripted.

Here's the issue. Pete Davidson is a 24-year-old kid. I'm going to cut him some slack which may surprise some people. He's a kid. He doesn't have a frame of reference that really helps him to put into perspective the kind of sacrifice that a person like Dan Crenshaw has made.

But there is surely some adults that work at NBC who look at that script and had to have thought, maybe this isn't the best thing we ought to be talking about when it comes to a true American hero.

MACCALLUM: Here's Joy Behar reacting on The View. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC: His father died in 9/11. And his coming from a place of, you know, you make fun of things that are so painful to lighten the load, that's where he's coming from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: What do you think about that, governor?

HUCKABEE: I respect the fact that Pete Davidson's father who was a firefighter in New York on 9/11 and did die. Pete was seven years old at that time. And I think, you know, we certainly can recognize that there's a lot of pain in his life from that but that doesn't give you the right to make that kind of comparison to somebody who has lost an eye serving his country.

And as you pointed out, Martha, this is a guy who continued serving even after he lost an eye. The military would have definitely retired him on medical disability. He refused. He wanted to continue to be a warrior and to serve his nation, and he did.

In the great scheme of things, Dan Crenshaw, I believe truly show that an apology at this point is meaningless because nobody would believe it's sincere.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

HUCKABEE: But I think it ought to be a lesson, maybe one of those teachable moments as President Obama used to talk about, and perhaps NBC could come forward and do exactly what I think the incoming congressman from Texas, Dan Crenshaw suggested and that's make a very substantial donation, not to Crenshaw but to veterans like him.

MACCALLUM: Yes. That was a noble idea and I think it would be nice. I also loved what Dan Crenshaw said about, you know, forgiveness, and not everyone needs to be fired for something that they've said. We sort of gone too far down that road of making those kinds of judgments. And you I think are right about Pete Davidson, he's a young guy, and you know, no doubt he will learn something from it down the road.

Thank you very much, governor. Always good to have you with us. Always wise words.

HUCKABEE: I appreciate it, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you, sir.

HUCKABEE: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: You bet. So that is our story on this election eve. Tomorrow night, Bret Baier and I will be right downstairs from here in our amazing studio anchoring Fox News special coverage of the 2018 midterms. We will get started at 6 p.m.
 
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