Jordan claims Trump 'paid what he owed' in response to NY Times report

This is a rush transcript from “The Story with Martha MacCallum” September 29, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And I’m Bret Baier. We are just two hours away from the first presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle here in Cleveland, Ohio. One poll says nearly three in four registered voters plan to tune in to see President Trump face off against Democratic nominee Joe Biden tonight. 

MACCALLUM: Fireworks are anticipated as theshowdown comes against a tense backdrop in thenation. A Supreme Court battle, racial unrest, and aworldwide pandemic.

BAIER: It’ll be 90 minutes of in-person, unscripted, uninterrupted debate moderated by our own Chris Wallace. And with the election only 35 days away, both candidates will be working to solidify their base and pick up some undecided voters if they can, and they paint their opponent unworthy of office.

MACCALLUM: So, as the opening question ticks closer. Let’s check in with the outlook with the – for the Biden campaign with correspondent Peter Doocy. Good evening, Peter.

PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good evening. And when Joe Biden gets hard questions, he sometimes reacts harshly, like six months ago when he was challenged by a factory worker about his record on the Second Amendment.


DOOCY: But if there’s one kind of question that Biden really doesn’t like, it’s the kind about whether or not he’s still got it, like this one from a reporter curious about whether Biden had taken a cognitive test.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, I haven’t taken a test, why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man. That’s like saying you before you got this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Are you ajunkie?


DOOCY: And the Trump team is signaling they plan to try and elevate questions about Biden’s mental ability and about his son, Hunter Biden at thedebate tonight. And we have already seen how he reacts when voters streamline those storylines into asingle query.


BIDEN: Goddamn liar, man. That’s not true. Let him go. Look, the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know and I can get things done. Andthat’s why I’m running. And you want to check my Shavon. Let’s do pushups together, man.


DOOCY: There are not many places to run outside of the debate hall here because of all the Secret Service fences, but we do expect to see Biden andTrump’s motorcades rolling here to the debate site momentarily. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Exciting night. Peter, thank you very much. So, joining us now with what to expect from Joe Biden tonight is former presidential candidate and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg who is now a surrogate for the Biden campaign. Mayor Pete, great to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here. 


MACCALLUM: So, I can’t help but wonder, when you look at tonight, you might think about what might have been, there was a time when you were one of the front runners in this group of candidates who is running. And I just want to look back to a moment on a former debate stage. This is between you andthe former vice president Joe Biden. Watch. 


BUTTIGIEG: We need a perspective right now that will finally allow us to leave the politics of the past, in the past, turn the page and bring change to Washington before it’s too late.

BIDEN: Politics of the past. I think we’re not all that bad. So, I don’t know what about the past of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was so bad. What happened? What is it that he wants to do away with? We were just beginning. 

BUTTIGIEG: Those achievements were phenomenally important because they met the moment. But now we have to meet this moment and this moment is different.


MACCALLUM: So, you argued at that point that it was time to turn the page, that the moment inAmerica is different now and Joe Biden obviously was the winner in that primary contest. But one of the biggest points that the president will bring up against him is that he’s been in Washington for 47 years. So, what do you think about that as we get ready for tonight?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think what we’re going to see tonight is two very different people with two very different ideas of what matters. We’re going to see President Trump turn on the distraction machine like he always does. 
He’ll think up some crazy to get the Twitter sphere going. And Vice President Biden is going to be talking about us, not us, political figures, us, theAmerican people, and how our lives would be different and better. 

If we had a president who actually leveled with theAmerican people instead of lying about theCoronavirus, president who actually understood what it was like to come up in the middle class instead of being born a multimillionaire and then using tax tricks not to have to pay his share, you’re just going to see two fundamentally different people with fundamentally different visions. And on theissues, the American people already agree with Joe Biden. So, I’m looking forward to seeing him make that case tonight.

MACCALLUM: You did argue, though, that it was time to turn the page. And one of the things that you talked about was the need to increase thenumbers on the Supreme Court. Now, that is an issue that could be front and center. And yet Joe Biden when asked about it and Kamala Harris as well when asked about it today, refused to answer that question. What do you say to them about that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think their focus right now is on avery immediate fight that’s coming before theSenate in a matter of days. And it’s got very real, very personal implications for so many Americans, including members of my family. I mean, remember, the Supreme Court could throw out pre- existing condition coverage in a matter of days. This is an incredibly immediate concern. And, you know, we’ve got all kinds of views in our party. And I’m a big fan of bipartisan reforms to reduce the politicization of the bench. 

Right now, we’ve got a much more immediate issue on our hands. And I’m with the majority of theAmerican people who believe that the next president ought to pick the next Supreme Courtjustice. And this is another example of where theAmerican people already agree with Joe Biden. So, I’m looking forward to seeing him have theopportunity to speak directly to the American people tonight.

MACCALLUM: But nonetheless, this is an issue that’s going to come up tonight, I would imagine, and I would imagine it’ll come up next week as well. Andyou have been playing the role of Mike Pence inhelping Kamala Harris get ready for that debate. So, what is she going to say when that does come up? Because she danced around the issue today. And I do think it’s something that Americans do feel is at the forefront of this conversation. If they choose Joe Biden and this justice is on the bench before then, we are likely to see a situation where there’s an argument to expand the court.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think she and Vice President Biden, like most Americans right now, are focused on this appointment in front of us right now. But we don’t have the luxury of talking about I mean, I love academic issues about reform, and I’ll continue to take an interest in them. But right now, I mean, in amatter of days, our health care is on the line. That’s what most Americans are focused on. And that’s what Vice President Biden and Kamala Harris aregoing to continue to talk about. 

Because this isn’t about some arcane, obscure point of legal academia. This is about how our lives go differently when the Supreme Court does things like take away our health care. This is deadly serious stuff and we’re not going to get distracted by issues that are further down the road.

MACCALLUM: So, how do you like playing Mike Pence? We just had him on a little while ago. You’re both from Indiana. I would expect that’s one of thereasons that you were chosen. You have some pretty strong familiarity with him from back home.

BUTTIGIEG: So, I’m not going to get any behind thescenes stuff. But you’re right. 

MACCALLUM: Come on. 

BUTTIGIEG: I was Mayor of South Bend when Mike Pence was governor. And look, I don’t envy the job he’s going to have to do next week. You’ve got aprofessed Christian who’s going to be in the position of defending the character of a president who got caught sending hush money to a porn star. 
You’ve got the person who has been placed incharge of the Coronavirus task force leading thenational response for our country, this country having the worst Coronavirus outbreak in the world. 

So, on the issues, he’s in a tough spot, but also say I mean, he’s obviously an effective politician and an effective debater, that’s part of why he is where he is. I’m looking forward to watching that debate, just as I’m looking forward to watching the debate tonight. 

MACCALLUM: As are we, Mayor Peter Buttigieg, thank you very much. Great to have you here tonight. Thanks for coming in. 

BUTTIGIEG: Great to be with you. Thanks.

MACCALLUM: So, after traveling with the president on Air Force One today, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan is here with some insight on how thepresident’s feeling ahead of the big night.

BAIER: Plus, we’ll hear from Mayor Eric Garcetti, thenational co-chair of Biden’s campaign. Keep it here as our continuing coverage ahead of this debate continues. 


BAIER: President Trump is heading into tonight’s main event as a bit of an underdog, trailing Joe Biden by about six points in the national average of polls, a wider margin than in 2016, when he trailed Hillary Clinton by less than three points heading intothe first debate.

MACCALLUM: So, President Trump also presented with a surprise from the Biden-Harris camp today inthe form of tax returns, but not his own. Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts here inCleveland. Good evening, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Martha, Bret, good evening to you. Let’s break that down into a little bit more granularity. On this day back in 2016. President Trump led Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio by two points. Today, he trails Joe Biden by just over three. 
So, President Trump goes into tonight’s debate, not only the underdog nationally, but also here in this important battleground state. 

In order to turn around those numbers, thepresident’s campaign believes that he needs to hit Joe Biden on his ability to be president, to do something to make it look like Joe Biden is not up to the job, to either force him into lashing out or making a mistake during this debate. Trump campaign officials believe that the best way for thepresident to do that is to go after Joe Biden on Hunter Biden and the millions of dollars that Hunter Biden allegedly made in Ukraine, China and Russia and what Joe Biden knew about what his son may have been doing. Listen here to Kayleigh McEnany.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The real questions are really though, for Hunter Biden. We’ve seen that Senate report. He’s got
$3.5 million from the Moscow mayor’s wife. President Trump has the U.S. 
Treasury. Russia pays Hunter Biden.


ROBERTS: The president’s biggest vulnerability is likely on his response to coronavirus. Karl Rove saying earlier today that the president needs to go on offense and point out what Joe Biden and his advisers were saying about Coronavirus, when Biden brings that up tonight, which it’s almost certain that he will. 

Biden, no doubt, is going to go after President Trump as well on The New York Times tax story. Biden adding some fuel to the fire today by releasing his and his running mate, Kamala Harris, his tax returns. Biden and his wife paying just under $300,000 in federal taxes on income of just under $1 million. Kamala Harris and her husband paying more than $1 million in taxes on some $3.1 million inincome. 

Now, Biden and Harris’s income puts them solidly inthe top 1 percent of income earners, which isn’t exactly working-class salary. They will be able to say Bret and Martha, that they paid their fair share of taxes, which may make it difficult for the president to explain in tonight’s debate why he paid so little.

BAIER: All right, John, thank you. Here now, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, national co-chair of theBiden for president campaign. Mayor, thanks for being here.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LA) BIDEN CAMPAIGN NATIONAL CO-CHAIR: Great to be with you, Bret. Thanks for having me.

BAIER: What is former Vice President Biden’s strategy heading into tonight?

GARCETTI: We’ve got so much momentum, we’ve got momentum here in Ohio, we’ve got momentum in Pennsylvania, in fact, President Trump is playing defense in every one of the swing states that he won last time. And I think it’s because people can see theproof in their lives, not about kind of fantastical conspiracies about earpieces or Russia, but about their health care, about what’s happened under COVID, about our economy and those failed promises of the incumbent. 

That’s really what tonight is about. That’s what this election is about, a referendum about. If it’s this bad after four years of Donald Trump, imagine four more years. And so, we’re excited not to have a mud fight, but to actually talk about what American people aresuffering through in our plans to do something about it.

BAIER: You rightly point out that in the national polls, and key battleground states, Joe Biden does hold leads in the polls a little bit bigger than Hillary Clinton did. We remember 2016. How much stock does the campaign, the Biden campaign put inpolls?

GARCETTI: Well, we’re taking nothing for granted, I mean, I think these polls are probably even more accurate than 2016. I think there are fewer people who are shy about who they’re voting for, like in2016. But look, we’re going on a whistle stop tour tomorrow and trains going through the heartland here of Ohio. Those factory towns like Lordstown where President Trump promised the factories would come back and they have it going to theworking centers of Pennsylvania. 

This is really Scranton against Wall Street and Park Avenue. This is about those folks that are struggling at the table who play by the rules and pay their taxes and those who twist the rules and try to play in their own ways for their own cronies. I think it’s pretty clear to Americans that we all pay more probably in one month of taxes than President Trump played in a year. That is something that fundamentally feels un-American, either if you’re rich, no problem, but pay your fair share or if you’re not, admit that you’re a failed businessman and get on with it. But you can’t have it both ways.

BAIER: All right. The president obviously pushes back on that story and we’re calling for him to provide that evidence. He says he’s under audit. I want to ask you a couple more things. One is this push by some progressives in the nation to defund police departments. We understand where theformer vice president has said his position is. Your home city of Los Angeles kind of helped lead that by cutting $115 million from the police budget in July. 
But you had places like Minneapolis City Council now openly regretting their decision to push for that effort as they’re seeing crime on the rise. 
Do you think this is a big issue in your party about trying to declare where Joe Biden is and where progressives are on this issue?

GARCETTI: No, I think it’s very clear for those of us that are on the front lines that we’re getting haircuts not just in police departments, but in fire departments as we put our firefighters on the line, infires in the West, our health care workers who aredefending us all in saving lives and COVID-19. We have a president who has not stepped up to help local governments and state governments. 

Joe Biden is not in favor of defunding the police. I’m not in favor of defunding the police. I am in favor of refunding communities that have been overlooked by this president. 

BAIER: But the city council did? 

GARCETTI: No, we have had to cut across all of our departments, including the police department. But that is it something that is the result, because this president has not stood up, I think, here in Ohio, themayor of Toledo who put it best. He said the only person in Ohio who is defending the police is President Trump by not passing assistance for local and state government. So, we will continue to tell the good stories of all the first responders that defend lives and put their lives on the line. We had two sheriff’s deputies that were shot and brutally attacked in Los Angeles County, but we need themoney to support them. 

You can’t just say you support first responders andnot actually fund them with the federal funds that we have been waiting for every single day. 
These are the people who are saving us from COVID, the people who are saving us from fires. And I think that that squarely lands on President Trump and his inability to help America’s local communities.

BAIER: Well, we’ll hear what President Trump says about that, the issues on the list. Mayor Garcetti, we appreciate your time.

GARCETTI: Real pleasure to be with you. Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: Also, here tonight, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who traveled with the president on Air Force One to Cleveland today. Representative Jordan, good to have you with us tonight. Can you tell us about the trip here? The president’s been called an underdog in this race quite a bit lately. What kind of mood is he in and what’s his attitude as he goes into this fight tonight?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Never underestimate President Trump. He’s in a great mood. Remember, it was five years ago in this very city when he first took the stage, center of the stage, never left the center of the stage, I think redefined politics in that very first debate here in Cleveland five years ago. 

So, look, he’s going to talk about the amazing things he’s done in three and a half years for the American people have done what he said he would do. I mean, you think about taxes cut, regulations reduced, economy growing at an unbelievable pace before COVID, wages up for everyone. Lowest unemployment in 50 years out of the Iran deal. Embassy in Jerusalem, hostages’ home from North Korea. New NAFTA agreement, building the wall, now rebuilding our economy post-COVID. And of course, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh on the court and Coney Barrett on deck. That’s amazing record in three anda half years. Contrast that with Joe Biden’s four anda half decades in public life. That will be what I think the American people will see tonight and they aregoing to see throughout the remainder of this campaign.

MACCALLUM: So, in terms of Joe Biden, thepresident has said that Joe Biden hasn’t really been tested. He doesn’t go out for a lot of interviews. He’s spent a lot of the portion of this campaign so far inhis basement. He has gotten out in recent weeks. And this is actually the first time he’s flown to aswing state. So, what’s the president going to do to sort of reveal what he feels the media has not?

JORDAN: Well, I think maybe the first thing Joe Biden will do tonight is announce he’s running for president. I mean, for goodness sake, I think for half of this month, he’s put a lid on his campaign, half of the days of this month at like 9:30 in the morning. I don’t know. I mean, maybe you get up and have acup of coffee and call it a day. So, the American people haven’t seen him for four or five months of this campaign. They’ve sure seen the president, theschedule he’s kept and the accomplishments he’s done. So, again, I think that will be something that will be highlighted tonight as well by the president. 

Their records, Joe Biden’s lack of engagement with the American people, in this case, he’s probably thefirst guy to run for president by not running for president. I’ve never seen anything like this. So, I’m sure that will come up as well tonight in the debate.

MACCALLUM: So, what I asked you is, what did he reveal on the plane about how he’s going to go after Joe Biden? What’s his strategy? What kind of stance is he–

JORDAN: I’m not going to get into strategy andtactics of the president. 
He’ll be ready like he always is. Look, the one thing I know about this president is, he knows how to win. He thinks like an athlete. He competes. 
He will be, I think, ready to go tonight. I think he’ll win the debate.

MACCALLUM: All right. Before I let you go, half thenew Reuters poll out tonight. Half of Americans say that they don’t believe the president pays enough intaxes. What do you say to that and what do you expect we’ll hear on that tonight?

JORDAN: He paid what he owed. He gives back his salary. He’s done it every single year. I mean, and he cut taxes for the American people, for every family in this country. I mean, the real question is what did Hunter Biden, the Biden family, take from theRussians and from the Chinese, all while thepresident was doing that? And frankly, thepresident’s given $1.6 million to the American – back to the Treasury, to the American taxpayer, in the fact that these salaries 400,000, he’s giving it that back each and every year. I think the American people appreciate that.

MACCALLUM: All right, what about ACA, there’s going to be a lot of talk about that that Americans can’t risk this Supreme Court nominee because she’s going to gut ACA if she gets the opportunity. What do you tell them about that? What do you say?

JORDAN: She’s a great pick. And remember, the so-called Affordable Care Act has been anything, but most people’s health insurance has went up since President Obama passed that. And never forget. I mean, I think this is so important to understand about Obamacare. All the lies they told us about that when they passed it. 

Remember they told us, you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, like your plan, keep your plan. They told us premiums will go down. They said they go down average $2500. They said deductibles will go down. They said the website was going to work. They said the website was secure. They said these co-ops they created were going to be wonderful. Every single one of them went bankrupt. 

So that’s the Affordable Care Act the Democrats think is so great. I want to have affordable insurance for American families so they can pick the plan that fits their family’s need and so does the president of the United States. And that’s what he’ll fight for. That’s what Republicans will fight for if we’re given the opportunity on Election Day.

MACCALLUM: Congressman Jordan, thank you very much. Good to have you here tonight.

JORDAN: You bet. Thank you, Martha.

BAIER: Up next, the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, on how the issue of
COVID-19 could play prominently for both candidates tonight, come back to Cleveland.


BAIER: Among the topics of tonight’s presidential debate, COVID-19 devastating toll on American life and livelihood and how President Trump has responded to the crisis.

MACCALLUM: I recently sat down with women voters here in an Ohio suburb called North Olmstead, and they talked about this topic. Watch.


COLLEEN, OHIO STAY-AT-HOME MOM: The cases are being hyped, but it’s clear the deaths are going down, which matters to me, because we do health and safety matters. But I do think there’s some political gain to it.

DEBORAH BOSNER, OHIO SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I view the national response to the virus ascategorically terrible. I’ve been thrilled with theRepublican leadership in Ohio. I’ve been thrilled with the way that Ohio has approached it from a very common sense, science-based perspective.


MACCALLUM: So, joining us now is the Ohio governor, Mike DeWine. Governor, thank you for being here tonight. 


MACCALLUM: I did have an interesting conversation with a number of your constituents the other day. And as you can hear there, Deborah gave you very high marks for how you handled COVID in Ohio. But she was not a fan of how it was handled at thefederal level. And that continues in the polls to be aproblem for this president. What do you say to that, to the people of Ohio and across the country? 

DEWINE: Well, you know, the average voter is not on the calls that we have every week with all thegovernors and the vice president, sometimes with the president, but the vice president, you know, acting for the president, has done a great job. These are calls where we just get right down to it, what do you need? And the administration is very, very forthcoming. 

I think yesterday’s announcement, I will tell you, this could be just a game changer. These are these Abbott strip tests that are in large quality, they’re going to be coming to Ohio and every state and theunion. 

And as a governor who is fighting this every day, I’m just delighted to have this coming and this is an effort from the White House, they’ve worked with Abbott and they got it done and it’s going to make a difference, it’s going to help us on nursing homes. It’s going to help us get more kids back in school, it’s going to help us keep kids in school.

So, I think it’s a major, major thing and you know, I think when people see that rolled out over the next several weeks, they are going to understand how important it is. 

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You know, Governor, former Vice President Biden clearly is going to hit this hard, would like to hit COVID andPresident Trump’s handling of it throughout this debate. You’ve known Joe Biden for years and years. How do you see this debate and where it stands going in? 

DEWINE: I think people are missing, sometimes, but Joe Biden is an excellent debater. I watched him — I sat on the judiciary committee, he was chairman some of the years, other years he was the ranking Democrat, but either way, he was a strong debater, he went after witnesses in a very expert way andyou know, if you got in a debate with him you knew you were in a tough debate.

So, I think when people look at what’s going on tonight, they need to remember that Joe Biden is an experienced debater and that’s what you’re going to see tonight. 

MACCALLUM: I mean, one of the issues that is sort of unavoidable here is, you know, the former vice president’s age and how he is on his feet and thefact that he has spent so much of this campaign not leaving the house. I mean, what’s your assessment as someone who has known him for all those years? Do think he is as, you know, on the money and with it as he used to be? 

DEWINE: Well, I have no indication he’s not. But I think, if you look at this debate, the president, he is the incumbent, he’s been in people’s living room every single day. Joe Biden, for many voters, even though he’s been around, been in politics 47, eight years, whatever. 

For most voters, even though he was vice president, they don’t really focus on somebody until the point where they’re going to be potentially the next president. And so, for 90 minutes tonight, you know, millions of Americans are going to really, to some extent get their real reintroduction to Joe Biden, so I think, you know, he’s got a lot at stake and a lot riding — riding on this. 

BAIER: Well, Governor, we’ve appreciated our time here in Cleveland and they are doing a great job. 

DEWINE: I’m glad you’re in Cleveland.

BAIER: Safety wise. 

DEWINE: Thank you very much, good to be with you. And we also have – 


MACCALLUM: Good to have you with us.

DEWINE: — we hope the Indians win tonight, beat the Yankees. So. 

BAIER: Had to throw that in there. 

DEWINE: Good to be with you.

BAIER: All right, Governor, thanks. 

Up next, authorities prepare for protests here inCleveland tonight, possibly, but first we’ll give you atour of our Fox News work space here. 

This is the Fox campus here for the debate. This is the place where we get COVID tested every day, we got our hand sanitizers and our masks. Every day we get tested. These are all offices in these trailers. 

Let me take you to the whole site. It’s pretty impressive, put up in four days. OK, this is engineering, come on up here. This was all set up, this is all the cameras, all the inputs into Fox New York and the headquarters and this is how we get broadcast on the air. 

Over here, we’ve got the cafeteria. There is Donna Brazile. There’s Juan Williams and socially-distanced cafeteria. All right, here’s our greenroom, where we wait around when we are ready to go and then themakeup, Tamara and all the makeup folks. 

All right. Come on up. It’s Mercedes Schlapp. How are you? 


BAIER: Good to see you. This area, one of our reporter areas, kind of an uplink where some of the — some of the hits — I’ve done hits here in the big set and the man Bill Hemmer. Our show continues after this. 


BAIER: welcome back to Cleveland, more than 300 National Guardsmen along with the FBI, local police, Secret Service all here in the city tonight as some businesses board up in anticipation of protests. 

MACCALLUM: Black Lives Matter Cleveland among the groups to expected to demonstrate the height of tonight’s debate. 

Senior correspondent Mike Tobin is on the ground here in Cleveland. Good evening, Mike. 

MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Martha. Hi, there, Bret.

I put the number at about 400 demonstrators out here, we’re just south of the art museum on thenorth side of the lagoon here in the park, and you’ve got the people, you can call this a peaceful protest, they are marching around, not really doing anything other than making their voices heard. 

There’s also a large presence of law enforcement. We saw them in action right about the time thepresidential motorcade arrived. A couple of young men in hoods crossed the barrier. They got within ahundred feet of the route of the presidential motorcade and Cleveland bike cops apprehended them. They loaded them into a white van andwhisked them off. Neither the Cleveland police or the Secret Service are releasing details on that. 

Now there are number of items that are banned inthe area of the big event tonight, those include flammable liquids, fireworks, things like brass knuckles and lumber, and that is why police from Shaker Heights took a number of the signs that therefused fascism group had for their demonstration. 

But the police measured those signs and figure they are within the guidelines, and say they can’t be wider than two inches. They’re within the guidelines, so they gave all of those signs back. But with all of the attention being paid to potential weapons, we found one protest attendee here who was openly carrying a semiautomatic sidearm. Here’s what he had to say. 


TOBIN: I noticed your arm. How come? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because what happened inKenosha is not going to happen here in Cleveland. What happened here in Wisconsin is not going to happen in Ohio. 


TOBIN: So, of the demonstrators out here, they areBLM demonstrators, there are climate change demonstrators, there’s a group refused fascism. There is one conservative group that was flying banners over the town earlier today. 
Bret and Martha? 

BAIER: All right, Mike, thank you. 

MACCALLUM: So breaking tonight, a federal appeals court is upholding a six- day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election. So that decision means that ballots postmarked on or before November 3rd will be counted as long asthey are received by November 9th. 

BAIER: It’s a big deal.


BAIER: It could mean the winner in Wisconsin will not be known for days after the polls close. Republicans are likely to appeal that case to the U.S. Supreme Court but there are 29 states now sending out ballots. A lot of people already voting as this debate get underway tonight. 

MACCALLUM: Coverage is going to be days anddays it looks like. So Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett meeting with senators on the Hill today as her confirmation battle heats up with exactly five weeks to go until the election. Karl Rove, Katie Pavlich and Juan Williams are next. First, thevoice of the people. 


MACCALLUM: When you talk to your friends about the election, what are the things that people arearguing about or talking about that concern you right now in the country? Obviously, there’s a lot going on. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There’s a lot of division. I’m looking — I just wish we had a candidate that could bring people together instead of separating –
– you know, I’m getting frustrated with the two-party system. I don’t know. 
I don’t know what the answer is. 

MACCALLUM: What you think of President Trump? Did you vote for him last time, if you want to share? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did. Honestly last election I went to vote and I couldn’t vote for either one. Andagain —

MACCALLUM: It might happen again? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might happen again this time. Have you had a chance to take a look at Amy Coney Barrett? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven’t looked at her closely, no. I mean, I would hope that we would have had the same respect and delay in choosing thejudge until after the election, like Obama did. 


BAIER: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has begun the process of meeting the senators who will ultimately decide whether she gets a spot on thebench. Judge Amy Coney Barrett started off at thetop. 

Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel shows us tonight. Good evening, Mike. 

MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bret, Martha, good evening to you. Judge Amy Coney Barrett started making the rounds, hoping to secure votes for her confirmation. The Supreme Court nominee had a VIP escort and Vice President Mike Pence to get her started. Day one featured meetings with eight Republican senators, including Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who said Judge Barrett has a good chance of getting his vote. 


CHUCK GRASSLEY, PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE, UNITED STATES SENATE: I usually don’t say that until everything is over. But Judge Barrett has quite arecord to go on during the time she was on thecourt. So, I’m looking forward to learning more injust a few minutes now with her and then I will be attending and asking questions at the hearing.


EMANUEL: Republican senators say it’s part of thejob meeting with a Supreme Court nominee, something at least six Democrats are refusing to do. 
A leading Senate Republican fired back today saying her confirmation is very legitimate and very constitutional.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are looking forward to agood wholesome discussion and obviously aprocess that gives due time and consideration for individual senators to articulate their views, ask her questions, and then we are looking moving forward with that process and getting her a vote. 


EMANUEL: Some progressives argue Democrats should pack the Supreme Court if they win theWhite House and take back the majority in theSenate but the Democratic nominee for vice president sidestepped that issue. 


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are actually in the election, people started voting, people have been voting. Almost amillion Americans have voted and they have a right in an election to elect their next president who then will make the decision about who will be thenominee.


EMANUEL: As a member of the judiciary committee, Harris will participate in Judge Barrett’s hearings. Bret, Martha? 

BAIER: Mike, thanks. 

MACCALLUM: So, let’s bring in our panel, Juan Williams, co-host of The Five, Katie Pavlich, news editor and Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. 

Juan, let’s start with you. When you take a look at, you know, these senators who are choosing not to meet with Amy Coney Barrett, I know a lot of them were very upset when Republicans did that with Merrick Garland, so you know, how do two wrongs make a right here? 

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CO-HOST & POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don’t know that it makes a right, Martha. I think essentially, it’s saying listen, we arenot going to extend this courtesy to Judge Barrett because it wasn’t extended ten months out to Judge Garland. So, I think they say also that when it comesto this nomination, unlike Garland, it’s unprecedented in terms of the compressed time schedule. 

BAIER: Karl, set the table for us tonight, what are thekey things you’re looking for, for this debate? 

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I’m looking for the first 30 minutes, how they both come out, because that will set the tone for theevening. Viewership will be highest then. I’m looking for surprise. 

I think both people are — both men are going to come to the debate stage with something that when they finish delivering that argument or that punch or that response we are going to say “where did that come from”? Because they are planning some surprises for us. 

And finally, I’m looking for tone. The winner of this debate in the minds of the people that are up for grabs is going to be the one that seems to be more likable with a vision that seems to be make sense for their future and sets the contrast in an appropriate way with their opponent so they understand what the stakes are and how and each one of them does, that’s going to go a long way in deciding how they come out of the end – at the end of the evening. 

MACCALLUM: So, Katie, what are you hoping to hear from President Trump tonight, and what would you be disappointed if you don’t hear him get in there tonight? 

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the president is really going to focus on his economic achievements before the coronavirus entered the country and I would be disappointed if he did not, when Joe Biden brings up how he has handled a pandemic, if he doesn’t hearken back to the Obama administration and how they handled the swine flu, which also turned into a pandemic andleft a lot of the PPE supplies without proper or substantial restocking so that we can handle thesituation. 

I would also be disappointed if he didn’t focus on what Democrats were talking about when this virus came into the country, the issue of impeachment is not something we heard a whole lot about. And thepresident is going to have to make the argument that you saw what I did with the economy beforehand, it was the best economy we’ve had inreally long time, you want to go back to a Joe Biden/Obama policy set where we have GDP that’s the slowest growth since World War II. 

We can do that but if you look at what I have planned for you moving forward, we will go back to an era of economic growth, which of course affects everyone positively in the country. We’ve seen that with the Democrat members the president has often repeated which he’ll talk about I’m sure tonight. 

BAIER: Katie, it sounds like that helicopter is landing on you currently. 

PAVLICH: Yes, it’s very loud and windy, so. 


BAIER: But I hope everybody is OK over there. All right.

MACCALLUM: She didn’t even flinch. 


ROVE: She’s all right —

MACCALLUM: And she was also there when I called on her. So that’s good. 

BAIER: That’s good, too.

MACCALLUM: That’s good. 

PAVLICH: Yes. Every (Inaudible) tonight, Martha.

BAIER: All right, listen, Juan, Joe —


BAIER: — Joe Biden, after a day of back-and-forth about this negotiation pre-debate about the Trump campaign saying there was a negotiation about ear pieces, about the Biden campaign saying that theTrump campaign said that they didn’t want Chris Wallace to say the number of COVID debts. 

Well Joe Biden just a few minutes ago tweeted out this. He said, I have my earpiece and my performance enhancers ready, and it is an ice cream, salted peanut butter chocolate flex. So, a little trolling by the Democratic nominee, Juan. 

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I mean, it’s also entertaining, it’s all kind of a lead up to the big moment that we are anticipating tonight. You know, it’s kind of ridiculous at some level, drug test, transmitters in someone’s head. You know, I don’t know. 

At some point you want to say OK, enough with thejuvenile antics, let’s go for a real debate, let’s go for substance. When we get into this debate tonight, I think that the president wants to make it a choice and he needs to articulate the vision that Katie was talking about. What is his second term agenda? 

And I think Joe Biden, for his part, wants to say to the American people, you’ve got a safe alternative to what Biden will say has been the chaos and thejuvenile behavior, the Twitter storms, that we’ve experienced over the last four years. 

BAIER: We should point out that both campaigns denied what the other campaign said. 


BAIER: We covered that back-and-forth in those statements. 


BAIER: Karl, is this a normal thing what you saw today happened? 

ROVE: Well, no. There really are trying to get inside each other’s brains. 
I would for the record point out two things. One is, the ice cream that was shown in a tweet from Joe Biden is the same ice cream that was in Nancy Pelosi’s refrigerator when she opened the door. I know that because I eat Jeni’s ice cream as well, really good stuff. 

PAVLICH: And it’s an Ohio company. 

ROVE: There we go.


MACCALLUM: It’s very expensive. It’s an Ohio company. 

PAVLICH: Correct.

ROVE: Yes, well, yes, there we go.


ROVE: And second of all, you know, look, this is not the first time. You may remember, I think it was a2004 debate, President Bush had a bad suit that had a bump on the back of it and the theory was that I had put a transmitter in his back and I was talking inhis ear the entire debate. 

The guy who never graduated college was guiding the guy who is a Yale history major and Harvard MBA. So, this is not the first time this has come up, but it’s all an attempt to get inside each other’s heads and it’s frankly useless, it really doesn’t work. 

BAIER: Yes. 

MACCALLUM: So, I mean, obviously, I spoke to some people here in Ohio and some of them said that they wanted to hear substance tonight, that they didn’t like all this back-and-forth. I asked them specifically about the drug test issue. And they said, you know, I want to hear what the vision is for thenext term.

So, you know, Katie, when you look at that, I mean, that is really the job that lies before the president tonight, is to be, you know, presidential, to reach out to some of those voters who maybe don’t love thechaos that much and show the vision and the way forward. How do you see that and how do you want to review that? 

PAVLICH: Martha, watching her interviews with local voters in Ohio, I can imagine that other voters, swing voters in places like Pennsylvania andWisconsin feel very similar and you can see when they’re giving you those answers, that it pains them, that they have a very tough choice to make, that these are decisions that affect their livelihood andtheir lives moving forward, whether it’s COVID or healthcare or the economy. 

This is a top choice for them and both candidates tonight have to make the case that this isn’t just vote for me because I’m not the other guy, vote for me because I will make your life easier come November and come inauguration day in January 2021. 

BAIER: Well, listen, we’ve talked about this a lot. It’s now an hour and four minutes away. Panel, thank you very much. 

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: You know, Bill Hemmer is from Ohio and he thanks you guys, he’s a big Graeter’s ice cream fan. 


MACCALLUM: And he turns me on to that, andGraeter’s is also a great Ohio ice cream. 

All right. We are going to take a quick break. Special coverage continues right after this. Stay with us. 


BAIER: That’s it for our special two-hour debate preview. Coming up, Tucker Carlson. 

MACCALLUM: Please stay with us at 9 o’clock Eastern for the first debate between President Trump and Joe Biden. Chris Wallace of Fox news will be themoderator. I’m Martha MacCallum. 

BAIER: And I’m Bret Baier. Good evening. It is finally here from Cleveland.

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