Rep. Matt Gaetz: I'm confident Barr with get to the bottom of leaked FBI memos

This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," August 1, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS: Over the past two nights, we've heard from 20 Democrats who want to be president. Moments from now, we'll get our first official response from the president himself. Good evening, everybody. I'm Bill Hemmer, in for my friend, Martha MacCallum tonight, and this is "The Story."

President Trump about to take the stage in Cincinnati, Ohio. That's a state he won by eight points and a state where he's currently trailing a democratic frontrunner by eight points in that latest Quinnipiac poll with Joe Biden.

That rally is not the only big breaking news tonight that we expect the president to address there. Today, if became official, the Department of Justice is letting James Comey off the hook. The former FBI director, who the president often refers to as leaking lying James Comey will not face charges for leaking classified information about the president.

That information, by the way, ultimately made its way to the front page of The New York Times.

In moments, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz will react. But first, Mike Tobin begins this hour live at the rally in Cincinnati. And Mike, good evening there.

MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Bill. The people who have filled the U.S. Bank Arena here in Cincinnati are certainly hoping that the president is going to needle the Democrats who hope to become his opponents.

They drive -- loyal members of his base will drive hours and wait hours in the hot sun to get into the arena, and they expect that from this president. They say they hope to be entertained. They expect that he will deliver a shot of electricity into the base.

Controversy is a very real potential here. About half the people with whom I spoke today said if that chant of "sent her back" starts, they will support it. 100 percent of the people with whom I spoke say if he goes after Elijah Cummings or the track record in Baltimore, they will support it.

Donald Trump Jr. was warming up the crowd here a little while earlier. He went after Representative Cummings, and it was rewarded with very loud support. So, in a few minutes, well, you know, the president will take the stage. He is in the building here.

If he goes after some of the new information that you just talked about with James Comey, we'll learn that in a short time. And he's the president, they'll go just about wherever he wants in one of these rallies.  Bill?

HEMMER: That we will. Thank you, Mike. Good to see you. Mike Tobin, Cincinnati, Ohio. Back to that rally when it begins. First though, Congressman Matt Gaetz, member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Sir, good evening to you. The news on James Comey is fresh and new.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Oh, thanks for having me.

HEMMER: You bet. Thanks for coming back. What do you make of this decision that ultimately comes from the Department of Justice and the A.G. Bill Barr?

GAETZ: Well, this is the first chapter in the story of Jim Comey's criminal culpability. Certainly not the last. Jim Comey's leaks were one area where the Inspector General rightfully referred, review for criminal prosecution.

Ultimately, the Department of Justice didn't find that they could make out all of the elements. I accept that decision, but I think that the testimony of Robert Mueller highlighted where Comey's greatest culpability could lie, and that is in the origins of this investigation.

You heard Mueller in response to my questions about the Steele dossier.  Say that, that matter was not his purview because it was under review from the Department of Justice. Jim Comey signed those FISA warrants based on that dossier.


HEMMER: So, you're saying --

GAETZ: And I think that, that will be the area of (INAUDIBLE).

HEMMER: So, you're making the case that no prosecution on this for now.  Is that what I hear?

GAETZ: That's right. If you believe the reporting you've seen, it is the lack of intent to commit a crime that resulted in this declination decision by the Department of Justice. But, of course, as we illuminate more facts, we learn more about people's intent in why they do various things.

It's our proposition that the Trump-Russia narrative wasn't the crime. It was the cover-up that the real crime occurred when you had elements of our intelligence community politicizing a secret court with no defense attorney to get the permission to spy on a rival political campaign.

And if Jim Comey signed those warrants, knowing that there was not complete information included about George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, then that may be the true area where he has to be held to account.


HEMMER: So, you're saying that's -- I got you saying that's -- as the bigger story. Let me take you back to April of last year. Here is James Comey, quickly on ABC defending himself.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I gave an unclassified memo to my friend and asked him to give it to a reporter. That is entirely appropriate.


HEMMER: Well, so, many thought that this was not the end of it for him.  Do you think this charge was oversold, Congressman?

GAETZ: Well, I never believed that this was the strongest case we could make against Jim Comey. But remember, I think that this behavior of his is certainly not blessed. Again, you had the Obama appointed inspector general.

A feel that was so concerning that he referred it for criminal prosecution.  Even though that prosecution didn't occur that doesn't mean this is good conduct, and it's indicative of a broader dynamic that occurred under Jim Comey's leadership, and that is that the FBI believed that their role wasn't to investigate crimes and make decisions, instead, they were to shape public opinion through the press.

That's why you continue to see Andrew McCabe, who was Jim Comey's deputy, face potential criminal penalties as a result of his own leaks, and then, subsequently lying about those leaks to the inspector general which is a crime.


HEMMER: Do you -- do you think this reveals anything about what Bill Barr will do in his job from this point forward?

GAETZ: Based on my conversations with Bill Barr and his testimony, I am fully confident he's going to get to the bottom of this. In response to a question by Senator Cornyn, he said that he is not certain that the Steele dossier wasn't part of Russia's misinformation campaign. And if Americans participated in injecting that opposition research lies from Russians into our deliberative intelligence process, then there has to be a mechanism to hold that behavior accountable, and then, to ensure that it never happens again to any president. Because this is a vulnerability of our system if we allow our intelligence community to be politicized.

HEMMER: And to just one more point on all this as you get ready to see the president here in Cincinnati, Ohio takes the stage, what do you think about what we've watched the past week with 20 Democrats on stage?

GAETZ: Well, I didn't see a single person that's going to be Donald Trump.  They're not nearly interesting enough and they don't seem to be bold enough given what the American people want. They want to see a system that is shaken up for their benefit not the benefit of special interests.

And I'm confident the president's going to rally him up pretty good in Ohio tonight. I got to say, "Bill, I wish I was there seeing the energy and electricity from all the great folks in Ohio. I know they'll carry our president to victory in the mid -- in the Midwest.

HEMMER: OK, then --

GAETZ: And I mean four more years of making America great again.

HEMMER: Matt Gaetz, thank you for your time tonight. We'll see how the rally goes down in a moment here when the news happens. We'll bring it to our viewers. Thank you, sir, for your time. Tallahassee, Florida there.

GAETZ: Thank you, Bill.

HEMMER: We also expect the president to offer his take on the democratic debates of the past week. Many home went after him during those debates.  They also went after each other. Pretty hard actually, specifically, when it came to progressive policy ideas like Medicare for all.

Ideas that more moderate Democrats described as ridiculous and some described as unrealistic in America.


JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This notion that you're going to take private insurance away from 180 million Americans who, many of them don't want to give in. Many of them do want to get rid of it, but some don't -- many don't.

Or you're going to -- the Green New Deal make sure that every American's guaranteed a government job if they want. That is a disaster at the -- at the ballot box, you might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.

Again, I think if we're going to force Americans to make these radical changes, they're not going to go along. And you throw your hands up -- but you got --


HICKENLOOPER: You haven't -- Oh, I can do it.


HEMMER: Well, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado was there. He is with me tonight. Looking a little frustrated with that exchange.  Governor, good evening to you, and thank you for your time.


HEMMER: That was from this week. This is from June 1st in California.  Remember this night? Watch.


HICKENLOOPER: Let me be clear. If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer. I was reelected.


HEMMER: They're booing you, and those are your people. That's a tough crowd.

HICKENLOOPER: Yes, that's a very progressive side of the -- of the party out there in California.

HEMMER: Is that what the suggestion is and only that?


HEMMER: Because you're calling out bigger government in these debates, Governor.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I am trying to point out that we need a healthcare plan, a vision for this country that's going to work. And that those of us who believe that some health care should be a right, not a privilege.

We want to get it done fast. And I don't -- you know, I don't see us being able to do Medicare for all in a realistic way.

HICKENLOOPER: But it wasn't just Medicare for all, the Green New Deal, you have -- you were -- how would I characterize it? Disagreeing on that and from the state of Colorado to I think, it probably surprised some people that you would take the position that you did. Because it doesn't appear that you're on the bandwagon. Well, where are you?

HICKENLOOPER: No, no, I am -- I am as adamant as anyone about climate change. I -- you know, I've got a master's in geology. I understand a good part of the science that we have to have a fierce urgency.

We've got to -- I mean, I believe it is happening, and I think if we don't act pretty rapidly, we're going to suffer -- I mean, serious irreversible consequences. So, questions, how do you get there?

HEMMER: Yes, well, how do you get there?

HICKENLOOPER: And that's where we're debating about.


HEMMER: You call it a distraction, right? AOC had a response to that.  She said the following. Said, "The Green New Deal decarbonizes our economy while ensuring we leave no community behind, including job transitions for miners, labor rights, for health cares, and wages. Calling the consideration of working people in climate policy a distraction is what is truly unsustainable and unrealistic."

And to that, you say what, Governor?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I say that the, the distraction is creating something that won't get out of Congress, right? Or if it does, it will probably end up in the courts. And my sense is that -- you know, people -- we are -- record low unemployment anyway.

And if we are going to do the kinds of investments we need to make to adequately address climate change, everyone is going to be wanting -- I mean, everyone is going to have a job, we're going to be looking for more workers. We're not going to have an excess on workforce.

So, fighting over these things isn't really constructive. But putting them in a bill is a distraction.

HEMMER: One thing I think a lot of people took notice of this week is that how some candidates are really pulling to the left, and others are trying to keep you in the moderate range. And this seems to be is somewhat characterize as civil war within the party. Who wins?

HICKENLOOPER: We will see. That's why we have a long primary. But, I keep trying to come back to -- you know, since President Trump took office, 7 million Americans don't have insurance that had it before. So, we're going in the wrong direction.

We can have this battle within the Democratic Party to see -- you know, which avenue is the one that party decides is the right one? And we got to keep our eye are focus.

HEMMER: But if you -- that would think of Senator Elizabeth Warren when she took that on. She said, why are you even on the stage if you're not going to think big, bold ideas? Well, this is calling up people like you on that.

HICKENLOOPER: I know -- I know. This is the big, bold idea, right? This -- I mean, to actually get to universal health care and make it work. And to create an avenue by which -- I mean, many of us up there were proposing a public option, where does a sliding skill that over time. If it succeeded, people could migrate into it, and ultimately you might take 15 or 20 years but you end up with -- you know, some version of the single- payer or, at least, of broad variety of competitive sources for people who could get covered.

HEMMER: The other thing that was stunning was how'd Barack Obama fall out a favor so good? How about that?

HICKENLOOPER: That was a part that I had. The most trouble with was that there are -- I wish I been out there that night because I would have -- I would have stepped in on a couple of occasions.

I mean, there is a man who was attacked from the Republican side as being far too left, way too extreme. And suddenly now, the party he says is not anywhere near -- he wasn't liberal enough. It's not fair. Not a fair --


HEMMER: But you also made the point, you agree with these progressive ideas but you don't think they're realistic, that's how you phrased it?  So, then, are you a true progressive or has the party left you, Governor?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't agree with the avenue, the pathway they are choosing to get there. So, I agree that we've got to address climate change hard and fast. I agree that we've got to get to universal health care coverage. I just disagree on how to get there.

I'm more of a pragmatist. And I would argue that pragmatist isn't someone who rejects or doesn't chase after big bold ideas, it's someone -- the pragmatist is someone who figures out how to get them done.

I mean, think might about -- think back at -- you know, Abraham Lincoln, who was famous for saying, "With public sentiment, nothing can fail and without it, nothing can succeed." And I think, that's part of what we're talking about, just how do we keep public sentiment toward this progress that were all trying to get?

HEMMER: What the progress you're trying to get to is the next debate stage, which is September. And I'm looking at the list and I'm seeing who qualifies at the moment. I think seven of the 20 do at the moment, and you're not on the list.

HICKENLOOPER: No, I've got some work to do.

HEMMER: And you -- yes, you do have some work to do.

HICKENLOOPER: I do have some work to do.

HEMMER: Can you get there?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we'll see. The key here obviously is a small donors.  And if you are a moderate and trying to be pragmatic in how you approach these things, it's a little harder to get -- you know, the people that are generally small donors fired up.

I think there is a large quiet majority out there that is -- you know, the least, more pragmatic, and wants to see -- you know, change happening not quite so rapidly. If I got -- I need a mission.

HEMMER: OK, well, you got a month to make it happen, OK? Governor, thank you for your time.

HICKENLOOPER: You bet. Thank you.

HEMMER: John Hickenlooper, we'll see whether or not you make it in September.


HEMMER: Thank you. To the rally in Cincinnati, we go now. Kayleigh McEnany is going to join me in a moment. That's the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine on the stage. And we believe that he will make an introduction for the vice president Mike Pence, and then, around 10 or 15 minutes from now, we'll see the President Donald Trump.

Ohio is significant in every election, we know that going back for decades now. Here is Kayleigh with me now, and good evening to you.


HEMMER: Sold out, I do believe, 17,000 in all likelihood. There will be an emphasis tonight on manufacturing. What is that message there, Kayleigh?

MCENANY: Yes, that's right. There will be an emphasis on the manufacturing. Because last night, we heard Joe Biden saying he wants to eliminate all fossil fuels. So, say goodbye to Pennsylvania, say goodbye to Ohio, say goodbye to the Midwest with that message.

And you can trust the record, the facts are clear. President Trump has brought back more than a half-million manufacturing jobs, while Biden lost 193,000. So, the facts tell the story of --


HEMMER: What did you think -- yes, what did you think in the case the governor is making here? He believes in these big progressive ideas but doesn't believe they're realistic. That's sort of what you're up against in this campaign, right?

MCENANY: Right, right, they're not realistic. And Governor Hickenlooper and others, Tim Ryan, they're the ones polling out one percent and that is notable because the very few moderate Democrats who are challenging these ideas can't even garner more than one percent of the vote.

The left is radicals rule the Democrat Party, which is why Governor Hickenlooper doesn't have a shot.

HEMMER: Yes, there's a reason why you pick these places. You're in North Carolina two weeks ago in Greenville. You got a lot of attention for how the crowd reacted with that chant send her back. The President addressed that a bit earlier today before he left the White House. He said, I prefer they not do it tonight. Has there been talk about that, Kayleigh, so far?

MCENANY: No. Everyone here is just excited for the president to be here.  The President has expressed his displeasure with that chant, but everyone here wants to hear about the President's successes. That's the focus here.

HEMMER: Are you saying it hasn't come up Kayleigh?

MCENANY: It hasn't come up with anyone I've been talking to hear. Some of the media keeps bringing it up, but the President has expressed his displeasure. We're focused on the economy. We're focused on bettering the livelihoods of the American people.

HEMMER: OK, I know it's loud there so hang with me as long as you can here. You saw the poll from Quinnipiac. Why does the President trail Joe Biden by eight points in Ohio?

MCENANY: We don't believe that poll for a second. The polls showed him trailing Hillary Clinton. He went on to prevail. We believe that when we define these Democrats, we know that when we talk about their leftist socialist policies, President Trump will win. The polling is out the window. It's irrelevant.

HEMMER: Kayleigh, thank you for your time. Kayleigh McEnany there in Cincinnati --

MCENANY: Thank you.

HEMMER: We'll wait for that rally to begin. Southwestern corner of the state, always a battleground area, a place where they -- well they fought tooth and nail Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 and the President came out a winner in the Buckeye State.

With me now Charlie Hurt Opinion Editor at the Washington Times, Richard Fowler, Senior Fellow of New Leaders Council, a national syndicated radio show host, both are Fox News Contributors. And gentlemen, good evening to both of you.


HEMMER: I imagined the vice president go about ten minutes. We'll see how long it goes. Charlie, the significance of Ohio was always on the line.  What are the voters in Ohio feeling after three years of President Trump?

CHARLIE HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that by all indications that they have a lot to be very proud of, and a lot to be excited about.  And I think that you know, just watching these Democratic debates, the last couple of nights and seeing where the Democratic Party wants to go in the future, none of the stuff that they're talking about whether it's illegal - - you know, making it no longer a crime to cross the border illegally, whether it's giving free health care to illegal aliens, or taking away people's private health insurance.

None of those things are things that the voters who switched from the Democratic Party in the state of Ohio, and joined up with Republicans because of Donald Trump and the Donald Trump platform, none of those people are going to turn back to the Democrats with the messages that --

HEMMER: Yes, the economy is pretty healthy in Ohio too, Richard. It's a tough record to run against, Richard.

FOWLER: So you're right, the economy is doing well, and the wages are going up. But here's what's also going up the price of housing, the price of healthcare, the price of early childhood education, the price of prescription drugs.

So yes, it indeed is true that there are Americans in Ohio, just like Americans all across the country that are getting more money to take home.  But that dollars going a little bit less further than it used to go and with President Trump's new announcement today of continuing and escalating the trend with China. That means this tax will also be put on the American people and America consumers.

HEMMER: Let me -- let me throw this at you guys. Michael Moore, we're all reacting to the debates of this of the last few nights, right? Michael Moore says this. He says the only way to win is to nominate someone else.  Here's what Moore said.


MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: The only way to remove Trump is to crush Trump.  Who's the street fighter that can crush Trump? And frankly, I think there's a person that could do this. If the election were held today, there is one person that would crush Trump, and she hasn't announced yet.  And her last name rhymes with Obama. In fact, it is Obama, Michelle Obama.


HEMMER: I don't know if that's going to happen. It might be a bit of a pipe dream now. Charlie, go.

HURT: I think it is a pipe dream right now and she's been pretty clear that she doesn't want to get back into politics. There was a time when I would have said that he's exactly right. She would be very difficult to beat. But I got to say, what we've seen the last couple of nights with what Democrats are talking about, Barack Obama never would have run a campaign on these crazy wacko platforms that we're hearing from Democrats now.

FOWLER: Oh, Charlie. Oh, Charlie.

HEMMER: Yes, how about that, Richard.

HURT: Basically I mean -- basically Obama himself was being attacked during these -- during these debates.

FOWLER: This is not -- this is not a whack line, this is about the reality of everyday Americans. And we have -- when we have senior citizens cutting their drugs in half because they can't afford the price or when you see a mother at the -- at the local pharmacy who needs an EpiPen for her child for $1,000 --

HURT: To be fair wages are going up, Richard.


FOWLER: They're not going up as the same level as all the -- all the different costs that are being put on American families.

HEMMER: Wages are going up and we also have administration fighting on prescription drug prices. We'll see whether or not they -- how successful they can be. What struck me and with the conversation with Governor Hickenlooper is how Barack Obama has fallen out of favor so quickly within the party.

HURT: Totally.

HEMMER: And so now you got Rahm Emanuel coming out today and Eric Holder said the following on a tweet, he said to my fellow Democrats, be wary of attacking the Obama record. Build on it, expand it, but there is little to be gained for you or the party by attacking a very successful and still popular Democratic president. End tweet there, Charlie go.

HURT: And Bill, that's exactly the problem the Democrats have right now.  More than just all of these crazy, oh, it's crazy talk about free health care for illegals and open borders and all that stuff, the real problem the Democratic Party faces right now is there's nobody in charge. They have no leader. Obama has walked off into the sunset. He's not around to sort of corral all of this nonsense.

And so you have people, desperate you know, people like Rahm Emanuel trying to say, hey, wait a minute, wait a minute, let's not get carried away.  Because at the end of the day, the regular normal, sane Democratic voters who don't buy into any of this stuff, either, they're going to want to pick somebody who can beat Donald Trump. At the end of the day, that's what they care about.

HEMMER: I tell you, Charlie, if you -- if you watch the 40 minute pregame on CNN, the first night, everyone on stage, Richard, that was their number one target. It was anybody but Trump and Trump was the target --

HURT: And you can't beat him with free healthcare for illegals.

HEMMER: Listen. You're getting into a debate. You started debating policy, which I think was fair game. I think what it showed, Richard, is how many on the left really want to take a hard left turn and how some of the folks in the party are trying to pull them back.

FOWLER: Listen, I agree with Eric Holder's tweet on this particular one.  I think the Democrats instead of playing a game of checkers, they need to be playing a game of chess. And part of that game of chess requires that we embrace Barack Obama one, because he's a very popular president with both Democrats and Republicans.

He's -- I think he's still the most admired man in the world. And beyond that, he was a very popular President when he left office. So I think it's very important for Democrats to wrap ourselves around Obama going into this election.

But to talk about leadership and talk about a leader of a party, what Donald Trump right before we got in that helicopter to speak in this rally we're waiting for the speak at, he says he's not even sure if you can control his crowd from saying hateful things.

So we could talk about leadership, but I tell you this. Our party were way better leading than Donald Trump does.

HURT: Whatever. Whatever.

FOWLER: This is what he said.


HURT: When it comes to the issues and painting a vision for where he wants to take American and where he wants to improve things in this country, the guy has shown more leadership than any president I've ever --

FOWLER: That's actually not true. He promised that he would have a two- term infrastructure bill. We're still waiting on it. He promise that Mexico will pay for a wall. We're still waiting on that as well.

HURT: He -- because Democrats and even Republicans are fighting --


HEMMER: Richard, Charlie --

FOWLER: Good to see you, Hemmer.

HEMMER: -- thank you, fellas. Have a good night, OK. The big question being asked by many in the media, will President Trump again, any attempt to silence the crowd if they break back into chance of send her back?

That is reminiscent of what we saw about two weeks ago in North Carolina, and the President was asked about that a bit earlier today before leaving the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. I can't tell you whether or not they're going to do that chant. If they do the chant, we'll have to see what happens.


TRUMP: I don't know that you can't stop people.


HEMMER: So Joining me now Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at Hoover Institute, author of The Case for Trump. And sir, good evening to you and many thanks for your time. I want to read you a quote from the New York Times and allow you to go ahead and frame this the way that you choose.

Here's what they say. "Mr. Trump may be understandably worried about the course of Congressional inquiries, but his aggressive and race-baiting responses have been beyond the pale. He has chosen a reelection strategy based on appealing to the kinds of hatred, fear, and ignorance that can lead to violence." Where are you on that?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTE: I think in theory, all rhetoric that's hateful can lead to violence among those who are on hinge or mentally unstable or willing to commit a terrorist act at the cost of their lives. But we don't know exactly who is susceptible to that so it's wise not to do it.

But what I'm worried about when the New York Times writes that, we -- are they balanced? Are they worried about both sides? I mean, we had James Hodgkinson who was a Bernie Sanders activist and he went out and tried to take out the Republican leadership and wounded five people including the House -- at that time Majority Leader Steve Scalise, or what I -- what I write something about Mr. Johnson, who shot five Dallas police officers and wounded nine at a Black Lives rally because weeks earlier Black Lives marchers have said pigs in a blanket fry them, where Barack Obama had criticized the shootings of suspects who were black.

I didn't make that connection. I don't think anybody will. Or we can go on and on but that's a very dangerous thing to do to isolate it. I think what you have to do is on all sides cool it.

HEMMER: If you put the thread together between Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters, and Elijah Cummings, they've been target to the president, how do you -- how do you square that?

HANSON: I think they're all engaging in ad hominem back and forth. And what's different about Trump is, he's an equal opportunity replier. He waits, and if somebody attacks and he goes disproportionately back on the attack. And it's in -- he's indifferent to the race or gender or class of the people who attack him and we haven't seen that before.

We got to remember, also, there's been a whole litany of attack the president physically. Joe Biden said on two occasions, he wanted to beat the president out. Just recently, Cory Booker says I want to hit him in the mouth. And then I wrote a column about that this week and then to my surprise, Senator Tester said the same thing yesterday. He wanted to hit physically Trump in the mouth.

I don't think I've ever seen that in my life that we had major politicians bragging that they wanted to physically assault the president of the United States. And they're channeling a whole Hollywood genre. You remember of blowing up, dismembering, shooting, decapitating, stabbing the president from the likes of everyone from Johnny Depp to Madonna.

So I'd like to see the New York Times address across the political spectrum, what they see as a heightened and dangerous level of rhetoric.

HEMMER: Often that doesn't make the headlines. Well, what are your observations from California this week, when the governor there Gavin Newsom signed into law, this requirement that you turn over five years of taxes, otherwise you don't make the primary ballot. What do you think is happening there on the West Coast?

HANSON: Well, I think in the West, there is no functional Republican Party. They don't have a single state office held by Republican. There's only seven of 53 congressional seats that are occupied by Republicans supermajorities in both houses of the legislature and that is -- it's not a very healthy society when you have a one-party system and that's what we have in California.

So each politician, as we saw, analogously on the democratic debates, tries to outdo the other person in leftist rhetoric. So Newsom's idea is that I'll get national attention and I'll solidify my base by being always a little bit more leftward than I was the day before.

HEMMER: Did you --

HANSON: But the problem is that outside of California, we don't -- the Americans don't -- outside of California, that's not -- that's not normal.  It's not normative.

HEMMER: And as you certainly made a lot of observations about the debates on Tuesday and Wednesday night, what did you -- did you draw any conclusions from those?

HANSON: Yes, I think it was very -- a couple of -- three or four things.  Barack Obama ran in 2008 as a hardcore progressive, and now he's considered, I guess, out of touch with because most of the people on the stage, especially last night, but even the night before, were implicitly critical of Obama and what he stood for.

The second thing was that there were some moderate voices, but they were either voice by people who have less than two percent approval, or they were booed by the crowd. So we have four or five candidates who have agendas that don't pull 51 percent outside of the Democratic Party. And I think, if they're not careful, they're going to go the whole 1972 McGovern route, or maybe the 1984 Mondale.

There's no adult saying, wait a minute, you don't know how you sound to America. You sound great to ten million people watching or your democratic base but -- Republicans have had this happened with Goldwater in 64 and it leads nowhere but to a landslide defeat.

HEMMER: But it's not just those that are polling at two percent. Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, at some point, they're all going to be going after Biden together. But the point I would make is that as they attack Biden, they're also going after Obama. You can't -- to borrow a phrase from earlier today with regard to chant. You can't decouple the two, sir.

HANSON: No, and not -- what I meant was the people who are poor -- polling the worst among that 20 percent field are the most moderate, so you're absolutely right. The leading five or six candidates are going way beyond their rhetoric just six months ago. I mean, it was maybe some help for illegal aliens, and now it's free tuition, and then the next thing it's Medicare for all the illegal aliens, and the next thing is candidates are going to escort them across the border, and then the next thing is a U.S. Senator goes into Mexico and escort somebody in the United States for medical treatment.

So there is no range, there's no sense that you can be too -- you can be too progressive or too hardcore left. It's like the Jacobin revolution in France. Everybody is afraid of being called not just a moderate but a liberal or maybe even a progressive. We're in full neo-socialist mood.  And I think they need to listen to tapes of themselves and play it in Ohio, play it in Bakersfield, play it somewhere in Texas and announce to people what they think of, what they just heard, to the degree that people were watching it.

HEMMER: Sir, I really appreciate your time. Thank you for coming in tonight and sharing your thoughts with us. I'm not so sure they have a nominee before that convention next summer in Milwaukee.

If you look at, sir --

HANSON: I agree.

HEMMER: -- the way they have changed the rules, I don't see Bernie Sanders giving it up, I don't see Elizabeth Warren giving it up, I don't think Joe Biden will do that. So, you have a strong chance, you could have two or three candidates going into that convention that are still fighting for the nomination.

Remember, Hillary Clinton locked it down because she had the superdelegates vote for her before the convention took place.

HANSON: Yes, absolutely.

HEMMER: But the rules have changed now.

HANSON: Absolutely.

HEMMER: We'll see how this plays out. Victor Davis Hanson in California tonight.

We are being told in Cincinnati, the vice president is getting ready to conclude his remarks and the president should be on stage in a matter of moments.

So, as we await him, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee is with me. Good to see you, Senator. Good evening to you. How are you?

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Good to see you. You, too. I'm fine. Thank you.

HEMMER: We may get interrupted today in a moment here. But earlier today, you voted against the spending bill. You are one of what, 27 other Republicans.


HEMMER: How come?

BLACKBURN: Because I want to see some more budget controls and I got to tell you a lot of Donald Trump supporters want to begin to see some fiscal restraint. They elected Donald Trump because he's going to drain the swamp and shake up Washington, that's exactly why he is going to be reelected in 2020.

And, Bill, this just shows you how the Democrats pull left. This is a budget document, $300 billion in new spending, only 77 billion in pay for into the debt which is already 22 trillion, it adds $1.7 trillion. And debt 10 years for interest on the budget.

HEMMER: Did you share that -- did you share that with the White House before you voted no?

BLACKBURN: Sure. Yes, of course.

HEMMER: And what did they say?

BLACKBURN: No surprises. I think they fully expected that some of us would vote no. But they know we are solidly supporting the president and keep pushing to have all of these changes in budget process reform. And I look forward to a second term of President Donald Trump because I know continuing those government reforms is exactly what he is going to do.

HEMMER: You think about as we see the president come on stage there at U.S. Bank arena in Cincinnati, Ohio --


HEMMER: -- along the bank of the Ohio River. We just take a look at this, and as we get ready for the big build up here, we will go to the president in a moment here. But you think about the roots of the Tea Party in Greenville, South Carolina.


HEMMER: And the rots of the Tea Party in Southwestern Ohio, which, you know, some sectors of that state are deep red. And where the spending has gone, even the past three-year, Senator.

And the president said earlier today it's great for our military and in all likelihood I'm certain you would agree with that.


HEMMER: He says it's good because you push it off for two years and you get it past the next election. And then you can start the cut. I think a lot of Americans look -- I think when is that day going to come? Because the 22 trillion --


BLACKBURN: That's exactly why.

HEMMER: -- they have not seen it yet, Senator.

BLACKBURN: That's exactly right. And under Barack Obama, our debt doubled. It doubled. And that is why my 1 percent across-the-board spending cuts, your friend Sean Hannity calls this The Penny Plan, that's why that works.

And here's the thing, Bill. Making certain that when we look at entitlements, we make some substantive changes. Like block granting Medicaid back to the states. Letting them take the lead, our states should be our incubators of innovation in government.

And Donald Trump is for this. He is utilizing technology. I was at the White House this afternoon working with his team, we are working on technology issues --


BLACKBURN: Privacy, data security, he's all over this.

HEMMER: His tweet earlier, "Budget deals phenomenal for our great military, or vets, our jobs, jobs, jobs. Two-year deal gets us past the election. Go for it, Republicans, there is always plenty of time to cut."

That was at 10.30 this morning. And the vote came through early in the afternoon.


HEMMER: Marsha Blackburn, thank you for your time.

BLACKBURN: That's right.

HEMMER: Back home in Tennessee.

BLACKBURN: Good to be with you, Bill.

HEMMER: You bet. We'll talk again soon. Here we go, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hamilton County is being considered by many to be a swing district, it went for the president in 2016, so the rest of the state as I mentioned, by about eight points.

But so many of these national elections come back to the electoral basket in Ohio. And that's the big reason why the president has gone back there tonight. The other reason is he to talk about the economy and jobs, because the manufacturing sector in that part of the country has been very strong.

All right. So here we go. Drop in, Cincinnati, Ohio, the queen city. Looks about 17,000 inside the U.S. Bank Arena.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you all, thank you very much, thank you to Vice President Mike Pence, and hello, Cincinnati.


TRUMP: You know, I used to work in Cincinnati and a place called Swifton Village. You know where that is, Swifton Village. It was good. And it worked out well and it gives you confidence when things work out well at a young age and look what happened to all of us, right? Look what happened. Look what happened.

But I was watching the so-called debate last night.


TRUMP: And I also watched the night before, that was long, long television. And the Democrats spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me, practically.


TRUMP: True. And this morning, that's all the fake news was talking about.


TRUMP: That's all they were talking. That wasn't pretty. Now we are doing good, it's great to be back in this state that I love, I love this state -- very special.


TRUMP: Very, very special on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River with the hardworking patriots of the American heartland, thank you. We love you, Ohio.


TRUMP: So, we've got thousands of people standing outside and I asked the officials, can we sneak some up along the aisles, can they sit on the stairs? But I'll tell you what, this is some crowd, some turnout. We've sold tens of thousands of tickets and you know what the sale price is -- we keep it nice and low. We keep it nice and low.


TRUMP: But there never has been a movement like this, this is a movement the likes of which they have never seen before, may be anywhere, but certainly in this country they've never seen anything like this for. You came from the mountains and the valleys and the rivers, and you came for -- I mean, look, from wherever you came from. There were a lot of you.

And they showed up on election day, I'll never forget, a wonderful congressman from Tennessee, they had early voting. One of the earliest places. Great State of Tennessee and he said he was in Pennsylvania with me -- great state. And he said you know, sir, I've been doing this for a long time but I've never seen people like this show up for early voting, people that haven't voted in a long time because they didn't see anybody they wanted to vote for. He said I've never any -- they have Trump manners and Trump hats and Trump buttons.


TRUMP: He said I've never seen -- true. And this great congressman said, I don't know sir, but I can tell you one thing. If the rest of the country is voting like Tennessee is voting, you're going to win by a lot and we won, and we won by a lot. We won by a lot.


TRUMP: Our nation is stronger today than ever before.


TRUMP: We have the number one economy on earth, no economy is so strong.


TRUMP: We are rebuilding the awesome might of the United States military and soon it will be stronger relatively speaking than at any time in our history. And when we took over, it was depleted.


TRUMP: We took over a depleted military. It's not depleted anymore; I can tell you that. Our spirit is strong, our stride is back, and our stand is clear. We are finally putting America first.



TRUMP: It's about time. We have created six million new jobs since election day, nobody would have thought that was possible. More than seven million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps.


TRUMP: And they are happy, they're happy. One hundred twenty-three more Ohio workers are employed today than when I was elected, think of that number. And right now, Ohio is the most successful it's ever been in the history of our country. Thank you, congratulations, Ohio.


TRUMP: Stand up, Mike. And you have a good governor, I want to tell you that. Good job, Mike.

Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century and unemployment for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have all reached the lowest rates ever recorded.


TRUMP: While Republicans are working every day to build up our country, the rage filled Democrat Party is trying to tear America apart.


TRUMP: The Democrat Party is now being led by four left-wing extremists who reject everything that we hold dear.


TRUMP: No one has paid a higher price for the far-left destructive agenda than Americans living in our nation's inner cities, they have paid a dear price. You see what's happening, you see our inner cities. We spend billions and billions for years and years and its stolen money and it's wasted money and it's a shame.


TRUMP: For decades, these communities have been run exclusively by Democrat politicians, and it's been total one-party control of the inner cities. For 100 years it's been one party control, and look at them. We can name one after another but I won't do that. Because I don't want to be controversial. We want no controversy.


TRUMP: The Democrat record is one of neglect and corruption and decay, total decay. The Democrats have taxed and regulated jobs and opportunity out of these cities and out of existence. They've squeezed the blood out of them.

Left-wing mayors and city councils have opposed school choice, trapping children in failing government schools left and right. So many of these mayors right now, you know where they are? They are in jail. That's where they are.


TRUMP: Republicans believe that every parent has the right to send children to the school of their choice.


TRUMP: But the greatest betrayal committed by the Democrats is their support for open borders.


TRUMP: And these open borders would overwhelm schools and hospitals, drain public services and flood communities with poisonous drugs. It's tough enough.

And I want to thank by the way, the country of Mexico, they've got 21,000 soldiers on the border right now.


TRUMP: I'm starting to like Mexico a lot, they do a lot more for us than the Democrats do. Right? A lot more.


TRUMP: And the numbers are way down, you will see that -- way, way down. Democrat lawmakers care more about illegal aliens than they care about their own constituents. They put foreign citizens before American citizens, we're not going to do that.


TRUMP: Five hundred seventy-two people were murdered in Chicago last year.




TRUMP: Democrat mayor. Democrat mayor. A Democrat. You must have a Democrat mayor; do you have a Democrat mayor? Come on, law enforcement. Democrat mayor.





TRUMP: Cincinnati, do you have a Democrat mayor? Well, that's what happens. You see there are thousands of people outside and I said -- I agree, you know, we set a new record tonight in this arena. But we could get --


TRUMP: But we could get a few more on the floors, a few more up here, we could get and they're outside where it's 100 degrees out and they weren't able to let us do it.

And I said is that run by the Democrats? The answer is yes. So, I said, true. So, you've got a lot of hot people outside. But we broke the all-time record. So -


TRUMP: The homicide rate in Baltimore is significantly higher than El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, I believe it's higher than -- give me a place that you think is pretty bad. Give me a place.

The guy says Afghanistan, I believe it's higher than Afghanistan. In our country, think of that. I believe -- we'll check the numbers, and if we are wrong, they will tell us tomorrow. It will be headlines -- Trump exaggerated.

I do believe the rate is higher than Afghanistan, yet Democrats and they have run it for many years, want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on illegal migrants instead of supporting their own struggling communities -- no good. No good.


TRUMP: The conditions in Nancy Pelosi's once great city of San Francisco are deplorable. They're deplorable.


TRUMP: Do you remember the word deplorable? Do you remember when Hillary used the word deplorable -- she used two words. She used deplorable and irredeemable. Right?

And only being a politician for a few years, I said what a terrible mistake that she used the word irredeemable. But it turned out to be deplorable. Deplorable was not a good day for Hillary, crocked Hillary, she is a crooked one. She is crooked. She is crooked.


TRUMP: Nearly half of all the homeless people living in the streets in America happen to live in the State of California, what they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It's a shame, the world is looking at us, look at Los Angeles with the tents and the horrible, horrible disgusting conditions.

Look at San Francisco, look at some of your other cities and then you have a governor -- you have a governor that invites the whole world to come into California, we'll pay for your health care. And then you wonder why so many people are coming up.

They're coming up because we are the hottest economic country in the world but they are also coming up because you have people like that governor say come on up. We'll give you healthcare. Who wouldn't come up? Who wouldn't come up? How crazy is this? How crazy is this?

Schools, health care. Today I have a simple proposal for Democrat leaders to support legislation to end illegal migration and we will use the vast savings to rebuild our inner cities, that's the way we should be doing it.


TRUMP: That's the way we should be doing. And by the way, you know, they keep talking about the voters, the voters, the voters, they want all sorts of security, what about a thing called voter I.D.? Voter identification?


TRUMP: Rob Portmen, please work on that, Rob Portman. You have a great senator. Will you please start working on that? You see the response. Every place I go. Rob. Please, Rob.


TRUMP: Voter I.D. They give you everything they can give you except like voter I.D. and the things that matter. Republicans believe that a nation must care for its own citizens first.

Our pledge to America's workers has secured commitments to train more than 12 million Americans for the jobs of tomorrow. You know who is working very hard on that? You've probably never heard of her, Ivanka Trump.


TRUMP: Thank you very much. She's working very hard. She gave up a lot, she had a very easy life but she loves doing it. She's got over, I think now 12 million people. They are teaching them, the great companies of our country, they're teaching people how to do it and it's an incredible thing to watch.

To give former prisoners a second chance at life, we passed groundbreaking criminal justice reform that nobody could have passed except us.


TRUMP: President Obama tried, a lot of them tried -- they couldn't get it passed. I got it passed with a lot of help from liberals and conservatives, a lot of help. And the biggest beneficiary is the African-American community. The biggest beneficiary. Right?


TRUMP: And something which a lot of people don't talk about, but we doubled the child tax credit, doubled it. And our tax plan also created nearly 9,000 opportunity zones, the hottest thing going. Providing massive new incentives for investment and job creation in distressed communities.

Are you OK? Take your time. Take your time. Doctor, doctor in the house, please. OK? Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, doctor. Thank you.


TRUMP: Don't forget, it's 100 degrees in here, that person has been standing there for almost a day if you think about it, a lot of you. So, I appreciate it.

And you know what, they'll come back. They'll get a little something and they'll come right back because there's never been anything like this. There's never been anything. Right?


TRUMP: Thank you, incredible. We established more than 300 opportunity zones in Ohio alone, and these are really working out incredibly well. Nationwide nearly eight million African-Americans live in opportunity zones but every Democrat voted against them, every single Democrat because they vote as a block. It's the only thing they do good, they stick together. Their policy is no good, they are lousy politicians but they stick together like glue. The only thing they have.


TRUMP: That's the only thing they have going. Democrats deliver poverty for their constituents and privilege for themselves. Republicans deliver jobs, safety, and opportunities for all Americans.


TRUMP: And we are thrilled to be joined tonight by many terrific Republican leaders and we'll start off with a man who had a very, very tough race for governor, a lot of people choke, they choke like dogs, they can't breathe. They can't breathe. This guy was running against a so-called star.


HEMMER: So, as the rally continues in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first rally we have seen since North Carolina, the chant of send them back. We have not heard that tonight. The president before leaving the White House said I prefer they do not, and that has not happened.

He says we want no controversy. As the rally continues, we want to thank you for being with us tonight. I'm Bill Hemmer, in for my friend, Martha MacCallum. "The Story" continues tomorrow night and Tucker is going to take over the top of the hour as we watch the rally in Southwestern Ohio. Have a great evening, everybody.

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