Grassley: Democrats know Barrett's qualifications are not an issue

This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto" October 12, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Welcome to YOUR WORLD, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

And what a crazy day, all of it kind of pre-scripted, if you will. We knew their positions. If you're a Democrat, you don't like the idea that this is even going on right now. If you're a Republican, you want to move fast, just in case, right now.

So, where do we stand on this? It was an opening day of everyone kind of stating their positions, including Judge Barrett. But it's going to start getting nasty as soon as tomorrow.

Doesn't Shannon Bream know it? The host of "FOX News @ Night" and a legal eagle unlike anyone I know, on what happened today.

Shannon, what happened today?

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey. Well, Neil, great to see you.

It was day one. It's the opening day. All of these senators are sticking out their positions. We see the lines of attack the Democrats will try to use with Judge Barrett, as she sat there silently until the very end of the day, giving her side of the story.

One of the things they're doing is attacking process. We heard this called a sham and unconstitutional, but they're also going after key issues they know voters care about, which includes the Affordable Care Act.

So, today, Senator Blumenthal was among those who warned America that, if Judge Barrett becomes Justice Barrett, Obamacare is in trouble. Here's what he said:


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  But now, just one week, after the election, as you know, the fate of the Affordable Care Act will be again in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

Republicans have turned again to the court to try to achieve judicially what they cannot achieve legislatively.


BREAM:  Well, and Senator Dick Durbin was even more direct. He said, basically, the president has picked you and is sending you to the High Court to kill the ACA.

A lot of us out here who watched the court who really know about how these other justices think and how they're likely to vote think it's very unlikely that's actually what's going to happen. But it resonates with voters and with viewers, because that is such a big issue.

Now, she got to make her case today, Judge Barrett. She talked about acknowledging Justice Ginsburg and said:  I can never replace her. But I can step into these shoes and follow the path that she blazed, being a wife, being a mother, and a top jurist.

But, of course, she had her highest praise for the man she clerked for, Justice Antonin Scalia. She has said she will follow his jurisprudence.

Here is her talking about him.


AMY CONEY BARRETT, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE:  His judicial philosophy was straightforward. A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were.


BREAM:  All right, so Neil, it is all out there. The stakes have been laid.

Everybody is ready tomorrow morning 9:00 a.m.

The questioning starts. Judge Barrett said today she's heard from a lot of people around the country who say they're praying for her. She says:  I believe in the power of prayer.

And starting tomorrow, well, probably everybody in that room is going to need a little bit of that, Neil.

CAVUTO:  Yes, how did your kids do with this? I mean, for hours, they're enduring what their mom had to endure. How did that go?

BREAM:  You know, they were there sometimes. Sometimes, they weren't in the room. But they came in, and they all look like they're headed to church.

They're perfectly dressed, the boys in a suit and tie, and the girls in dresses.


BREAM:  She talked about each of them. And it was really touching to hear her lay out their personalities and what they're all good at and what they're loved for and known for within the family.

So, a good moment for her to be able to personalize herself before the attacks start. The kids seemed very well-behaved. But they weren't there the whole time, Neil. We may see them again tomorrow.

CAVUTO:  Yes, wouldn't be like my kids, Shannon. I will just leave it at that. They'd be monsters.


CAVUTO:  But, Shannon, thank you very, very much for that.

In the meantime, let's go to Mariel Brookins, former clerk to Judge Amy Coney Barrett back in 2017-2018.

Mariel, you know Judge Barrett well. And thank you for coming.

I don't believe we have ever had, at least in recent memory, a justice with young school-age kids. Now we will have plenty if she makes it. Tell us about that part of her life, because it was the first thing she talked about.


Judge Barrett would be the first Supreme Court justice with school-aged children. And I think that will absolutely bring a new dynamic to the court. Judge Barrett is open about how important her family is to her.

And when I was clerking with her on the Seventh Circuit, we would see her children. Occasionally, her youngest would come into chambers with her, and they would be there while we worked. And if that -- if she winds up as a justice on the Supreme Court, I think that dynamic will be the same. Her family's a big part of her life. And that will, of course, continue.

CAVUTO:  You know, for her Circuit Court of Appeals nomination process, she was used to badgering questioning and the whole religion dogma questioning.

How did she hold up through that? I know you joined her after she became a judge. And I'm just wondering. She obviously knows what she's in for. She knows the attack lines, probably has memorized them. How do you think she holds up?

BROOKINS:  Well, I think that we have seen this process is brutal, no matter who the nominee is, these days.

But Judge Barrett has excellent composure, Her Seventh Circuit confirmation hearing is just evidence of that. She was composed and gracious the entire time. She never snapped back at any of the senators, notwithstanding some of the inappropriate questions.

And I think we will see that same gracious composure over the next week, even though the questioning and the badgering may be bad.

CAVUTO:  As far as this timeline, has she ever confided to you or talked to you, yes, I guess we can get this done before Election Day? It seems aggressive. But Republicans certainly are confident.

Does she have any worries that you know of?

BROOKINS:  Not that I know of.

I think Judge Barrett is so focused on the law, and not on the politics.

Her dream is to be the best judge and the best jurist she can be. And I don't think she gets involved in politics.

CAVUTO:  Yes, I have a feeling you're right about that.

Mariel, thank you very much, Mariel Brookins, who clerked with the judge.

I want to go to Ken Starr right now, the former Whitewater independent counsel, good read of the law and all things constitutional or not.

So, Ken, good to be talking to you again, my friend.

This process can be very unseemly. And it seems, over the years, it's gotten even more so, when you think that a Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg was approved, what, 96-3. That wasn't all that, that long ago. But, of course, times have changed mightily.

How do you think this process is going to go? The chairman of the committee, Lindsey Graham, is very confident the votes are all there, and it will get wrapped up before Election Day. What do you think?


It's going to be ugly, but it's going to be ugly in a different way. I think, and we hope and pray, speaking of prayer, than it was with Justice Kavanaugh. Think back to Justice Thomas. Let's face it, confirmations for Supreme Court justices have become, Stephen Carter of the Yale Law School put it many years ago, a mess.

And so how big of a mess is it going to be? At least today, there weren't the kind of ad hominem attacks on the individual's character that we have seen, including with Bob Bork so many years ago. But it's really become very political and insulting in one way.

You're being put on the court, Judge Barrett, simply to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That is stuff and nonsense, absolute nonsense. But it is politics. It's a political season. And, frankly, I think, at this stage, it's all the Democrats have. They don't have substantive arguments with her with respect to her qualifications, her abilities, her character.

Look at those kids. She drives a minivan, right, with seven children. And the outpouring today by her former dean, the dean emerita, as Lindsey Graham said, if I'm pronouncing that right, the dean emerita, was so powerfully saying, I -- last time I testified was in favor of Elena Kagan, and I'm here with the equal kind of confidence in the abilities and the character of this judge.

CAVUTO:  Good point.

I always think myself, again, if my dean at my school had to remember make, first of all, would say, doesn't ring a bell, doesn't -- the name doesn't ring a bell.


CAVUTO:  But I was thinking of you, Ken, because there's a good profile of Merrick Garland in today's Washington Post. And, of course, he was Barack Obama's pick in his final year in office to try to get to the Supreme Court.

We all know what happened. But it talked about how his profile has risen rather dramatically. He's seen as an elder statesman right now.

But the point that got me near the end of the article was that, now in his 60s, he is unlikely to be called to become a Supreme Court justice, no matter who's in the White House, that they're erring on the side of young.

So, two things I took away from that, A, I will never be a Supreme Court justice.


CAVUTO:  And, B, it's a young person's world. I guess they want people who are going to be there for a generation, right?

STARR:  Right.

Ronald Reagan changed the whole dynamic, the whole culture. Ronald Reagan, one of our oldest presidents, said, let's go with the youth factor. So, he wanted, just as President Trump has done, to appoint individuals -- and now here's Amy Coney Barrett, who's in her late 40s -- who will be able to serve on the federal judiciary here, the Supreme Court, for an entire generation.


STARR:  That is such an important legacy for any president. Ronald Reagan was the first to see that, but now everyone has gotten the picture.

CAVUTO:  Yes, these young kids today, Ken. I don't know.


CAVUTO:  Thank you very, very much. Good catching up with you on this. We will see how the whole process goes.

Ken Starr on all of that.

You always hear this term packing the Supreme Court, packing the Supreme Court. As I was trying to raise this past weekend on our live show, that all started with Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. He had won in a landslide in 1936.

He was annoyed as all heck at the Supreme Court, because a lot of the justices ruled down a lot of the things he wanted to do. So, he said, I have an idea. I'm going to pack this puppy, and I'm going to try to add judges that will make it impossible for them to overrule me.

Here's the thing that happened, though. Not only did Republicans find it obnoxious, but Democrats did as well. FDR learned his lesson.

Now fast-forward to today. What is Joe Biden's view on all of this? Hard to know -- after this.



HARRIS:  More than nine million Americans have already voted, and millions more will vote while this illegitimate committee process is under way.


CAVUTO:  All right, that Kamala Harris' way of saying this process to select a new Supreme Court associate justice is a sham, because Americans should decide it. We're so close to the election. More than nine million have already voted by mail-in ballot. Why don't you that a chance?

Of course, that is not happening right now. But that is really campaign Biden's push right now. Less clear, of course, is how the campaign feels about this effort on the part of some Democrats to push for another FDR packing of the Supreme Court to load it up with liberal-minded justices that will prevent this from being a problem anymore in the future.

That's their view. As to whether the Biden camp espouses that, we don't know. They don't answer the question.

Jacqui Heinrich now following team Biden, and with us now from Wilmington, Delaware -- Jacqui.


In Toledo, Joe Biden made only a single mention of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings under way right now on Capitol Hill. And even then, he mostly steered the focus away from Judge Barrett herself, saying, this nomination is about President Trump's crusade to eliminate his predecessor's health care plan.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Why do Republicans have time to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court, providing -- instead of providing a significant economic need for localities?

I will tell you why. It's about finally getting his wish to wipe out the Affordable Health Care Act.


HEINRICH:  Republicans want to seize on any Democratic criticism of Judge Barrett over her faith, because it breaks with the American standard of not judging folks based on religion.

And Democrats did criticize Barrett on her faith during her appellate court hearings. And the Trump campaign has already made attack ads out of it.

Today, Joe Biden cautioned against a repeat.


QUESTION:  Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett's faith be considered by the Democrats during the hearing this week, sir?

BIDEN:  No, her faith should not be considered.

QUESTION:  There should be no questions about her faith?

BIDEN:  None. I don't think there's any questions about her faith.


HEINRICH:  But Biden's not been so direct about whether he would pack the court with more justices if Judge Barrett is confirmed, saying he will answer after the election.

Biden said President Trump wants his hypothetical future actions to be the focus, instead of what Republicans are doing to pack the court ideologically right now, with voting already under way.

Biden has tried to frame this as unconstitutional, saying voters are being robbed of their chance to weigh in on the process, because voters make up the makeup of the next Senate.

And he has repeatedly, in all the times he has been asked about this, shifted the focus off of him and back to the other party -- Neil.

CAVUTO:  Jackie, thank you very, very much, Jacqui Heinrich on all of that.

All right, I want to go to George Washington University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley.

Jonathan, very good to have you. It's been a while. So thank you for joining me.


Thank you.

CAVUTO:  This process, Jonathan, as you know, the Democrats say, it's a sham, shouldn't be happening, and not right.

One of the things they have been kicking around is this idea of, if we get the Senate, we're going to pack the court. Now, of course, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris haven't said anything on that subject and don't want to tip their hand.

But do you think that would happen if they won, and then Democrat seized the Senate, that they would do that?

TURLEY:  Well, the concern is that what is a popular political sound bite can become a movement, if you run on the issue, and voters expect you to deliver.

And various Democratic members and Kamala Harris herself suggested that this was a real option. And it's a curious way to honor the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because she spoke vehemently against this type of proposal.

She said it would effectively destroy the court.

And it would. For about almost 30 years, I have proposed the expansion of the Supreme Court. But that's over the course of about 20 years. That's different from packing the court, to just dump five or six new members, so you get an instant majority.

That would do considerable violence to this institution. It would destroy any semblance of credibility, which is what Ginsburg was referencing when she opposed this idea.

CAVUTO:  You know, it's been nine for a while now, right, the better part of a century. But I know there wasn't any magic to that number.

There have been fewer. There been more. But we have gotten kind of used to this. So, I guess, what I'm asking you...

TURLEY:  no, Nine.

CAVUTO:  ... is, what is the -- what is the upside of this nine?

TURLEY:  Well, nine is -- it's basically an accidental number. We never had a great debate in this country as to the ideal size of the Supreme Court.

And, of course, the Constitution does not set the size of the Supreme Court. We have had a smaller cord and a larger court.

CAVUTO:  Right.

TURLEY:  I actually believe that we should have a larger court, but not like this.

There's a difference between reforming and packing the court. What is being suggested today should be anathema. And that's what's so troubling about Joe Biden's position. This proposal is suggesting that it will destroy one of the key institutions in our constitutional system.

And yet Biden is saying, the voters are going to know his position after they vote. Well, these are not supposed to be blind date elections. We're -

- on an issue of this importance, which was raised, by the way, by the Democrats, not by the Republicans, he really does have a duty to be clear as to where he stands.

A lot of Americans will not vote for a candidate who even considers a court-packing plan.

CAVUTO:  Do you think, given his past statements and all -- I guess we're trying to divine tea leaves here, but that they would be open to that, that, if they got in there, and if they were to get a Senate majority -- I know these are both big leaps I'm talking about, but that they would pursue this?

TURLEY:  Well, I'm always optimistic that there are mature minds that will come in.

And after the election, a lot of the overheated rhetoric tends to dissipate. We have already seen that in the Biden campaign, where he has stepped back from the sort of position on the farther left to sort of more of a centrist position. So I'm hoping that that would be the case.

But this is an age of rage. I mean, we have no idea what it is going to be like after the election and who's going to be in Congress.


TURLEY:  But the important thing is, this is an idea that should be an affront to all Americans, regardless of their party affiliation.

And every candidate should be able to answer this question, because it says something about their view of the Constitution. It also says whether they're willing to put principle ahead of politics.

CAVUTO:  Yes, very early. We shall see what happens.

Jonathan, very good catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time, Jonathan Turley on all of this.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Neil. Good talking to you.

All right, in the meantime, Chuck Grassley, the former chair of this committee, very influential Republican in his own right, weighing in on this controversy and something called decorum that he's very worried about

-- after this.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA):  I expect the minority will try to rustle up baseless claims and scare tactics, as they have done for decades, anything to derail the confirmation of a Republican nominee.



CAVUTO:  All right, three weeks from tomorrow, Election Day, and let the frequent flyer miles pile up.

The president is going to be leaving for Florida very shortly, also plans to take in North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, today, Joe Biden in Ohio.



CAVUTO:  All right, first day of remarks from Amy Barrett, Coney Barrett, by the way, on Capitol Hill.

But, for the most part, and with a mask on, she would nod, she would listen, and she had to take in what were pretty long speeches from no fewer than, what, almost a couple of dozen senators either there directly or remotely, 12 Republicans, 10 Democrats.

Kristin Fisher on how it all went.

Hey, Kristin.


Well, we will see if President Trump talks to the press about it in about

30 -- excuse me -- about 15 minutes, when he had it -- the first chance to really talk to reporters under the wing of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews.

But we do know that President Trump was definitely watching day one of the confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

At one point, Neil, he even tweeted some advice to some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He told them -- quote -- "The Republicans are giving the Democrats a great deal of time, which is not mandated, to make their self-serving statements relative to our great new future Supreme Court justice."

So, he clearly wasn't happy about that. But now President Trump is heading back out on the campaign trail for the very first time since testing positive for COVID-19. He says that he's feeling great. He believes that he's now immune to the virus. But the White House physician still has not put out a statement saying that President Trump has tested negative for

COVID-19 ahead of tonight's big rally down in Florida.

Then, after that, he's got another rally tomorrow in Pennsylvania, Iowa on Wednesday, North Carolina on Thursday, four rallies in four days. Vice President Mike Pence spent the day campaigning in Ohio.

Now, he did talk about the confirmation hearing that was happening at the same time. And even though Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein did not repeat her now famous line, "The dogma lives loudly within you," to Judge Barrett today, the vice president made sure that voters did not forget it.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I got news for the Democrats and their friends in Hollywood. That dogma lives loudly in me.


PENCE:  That dogma lives loudly in you. And the right to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of our faith and conscience lives in the Constitution of the United States of America!


PENCE:  These attacks on religious faith must stop, and they must stop now.


FISHER:  Now, while President Trump was sidelined with COVID, the vice president took up a bit more spotlight than usual.

But expect that to change. Jason Miller, one of the president's senior campaign adviser, says that the president was really getting on his case this morning for not having even more rallies, more than the four rallies he's already having this week.

So, Jason Miller said in a call with reporters today to expect two to three campaign events a day, Neil, even more as we get closer to Election Day.

CAVUTO:  Wow. That's a pretty hectic schedule for a guy who just got over COVID.

FISHER:  Nonstop.

CAVUTO:  All right, thank you very -- yes, I hear you, Kristin. Thank you very, very much.

Want to go to Chuck Grassley on all of this right now, the Iowa Republican, the Senate Judiciary Committee, much, much more.

They call him the senior member of the United States Senate. But he's -- he's not so senior to me.

Anyway, Senator Grassley, very good to have you.

How you doing?

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA):  Very good. How are you doing?

CAVUTO:  Very good.

You touched on something that was on everyone's mind in your remarks  today with Judge Barrett, this idea that it could get ugly, it could get nasty.

You reminded folks about a certain decorum that's kind of been lost over these last few nomination hearings.

How do you think this one's going to go, Senator?

GRASSLEY:  Well, it's going to go good from this standpoint. I think that the Democrats realize how qualified this person is, and they can't in any way attack her there.

So, you heard a whole day of Democrats, every one of them, distracting and distorting, because this nominee is so very well-qualified to be on the cart.

And I think it's going to not be as bad as Kavanaugh, but they're going to get into the weeds to scare every voter in America that your health insurance is going to be taken -- taken away from you on November the 10th.

I think Biden said that today. Week after the election, they're going to have this case brought up.

He's a lawyer. He ought to know better than lie to the American people that this case won't be made public maybe for months down the road. And a lot of times, they don't do it until the last couple weeks of June.

So, to lie to the American people to say, on November the 10th, your insurance is going to be taken away from you, we just can't let that stand.

And, tomorrow, we're going to have to, as Republicans, not only question her about the things we want to know about her and how she might handle certain cases, but we...


GRASSLEY:  We're going to have to use a lot of our time to keep them from lying about her.

CAVUTO:  All right, well, we will see.

I mean, one of the first issues that the court would be taking up if she were to join it is a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that gets back to funding and all of that.

But the problem for Republicans, Senator, as you know, is that you never came up with an alternative plan of your own. You missed it by one vote, when John McCain famously was thumbs down on a proposal that could have moved the ball forward.

So, Republicans are on defense on this issue. Are you concerned that, just as it helped Democrats win the House a couple of years ago, it's going to help them even more now?

GRASSLEY:  No, because there are so many issues in this campaign that are so much bigger than that.

And one of them is dealing with what we're talking about today, Biden not willing to tell people, does he want to pack the court? And by packing the court, I mean go above where it's been for 50 -- 150 years...

CAVUTO:  Right. Right.

GRASSLEY:  ... to a 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th.

He -- he says -- just like they did on Obamacare, you remember Pelosi says, we got to pass it to find out what's in it? You have got to either defeat Biden or elect him to find out what he's going to do about packing the court and change the Constitution very dramatically by making the Supreme Court what they want, to be a super legislator, as opposed to doing what the Supreme Court is supposed to do, interpret law and not make law.

CAVUTO:  All right, Senator, you think she can still be confirmed by Election Day?

GRASSLEY:  Yes, I'd say at least no later than the Tuesday one week before the election.

CAVUTO:  Wow, all right, two weeks from tomorrow. We shall see.

Chuck Grassley, always good catching up with you.

GRASSLEY:  Thank you.

CAVUTO:  All right.

In the meantime, a quick peek at the corner of Wall and Broad, stocks racing ahead today, technology stocks.

Now, a lot of this was on optimism about earnings. They are looking pretty good. And they're expected to look a lot better than they used to say would be the case for the third quarter a little more than, what, a couple of months ago.

But the real, real lift here seems to be talk, at least, that they're still talking on stimulus, and that something could be done, because now they're only separated by a couple of hundred billion dollars.

I mean, that's a rounding error in change under couch cushions, folks.


ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Well, I bet you didn't expect to see me here. This is Alicia Acuna in Denver.

We're taking a look at the Big Board right now. No stimulus deal, but that's not bothering Wall Street right now. Take a look at the board right there.

Neil Cavuto is having some technical issues right now, so I will be taking over for just a little bit.

We are going to right now get the read from Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, joining us right now.

Congressman, thank you so much for being here.

Let's begin first talking about COVID relief talks. Things are at an impasse right now. Where do -- where should Americans think this is going to be headed for them?

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO):  Well, the good news is that Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi are still having communications. They are -- they're still talking.

I think both of them recognize, as the three previous chairs of the Fed, Jay Powell, Bernanke, both have said, this is something we have to do quickly and that we ought to go big. So, they're continuing to talk.

I think there was something encouraging that the president did, but I'm not sure, you know, what it means, because he says one thing one day and then he changes. But he's saying now we need to go big as well. Well, that was -

- that was followed by him saying, we need to discontinue any talks until after the election.

But the American public is struggling. I mean, it's not -- and I don't mean Democrats. I mean Americans, Republicans, Democrats, independents, vegetarians, Oakland Raider fans.

I mean, everybody is saying...

ACUNA:  Right.

CLEAVER:  ... that we have got to have something. And they're struggling.

I have just had a meeting, Zoom meeting, with bankers, my bankers. And they're saying, look, we have got to have this spending bill, or it's going to do enormous damage and take us much longer to get out of the hole.

ACUNA:  But the president still has to do some convincing on his own party's side.

You have a number of Republicans in the Senate who are still frustrated by what the president has brought up. But then we also had -- over the weekend, we had the White House chief of staff, we had the Treasury secretary saying, look, we're calling on Congress, let's get this done, let's begin with the PPP, let's do that.

However, nothing has moved yet. And I know that the airwaves today have been filled with the Supreme Court nomination. However, this is something Americans are waiting on every day, hour by hour.

What is going to move this along?

CLEAVER:  Well, I agree with you. I agree with everything you just said.

And I think most Americans agree with what you just said. And I hope they also agree with the fact that we need a holistic approach to this. We can't start parceling out pieces, because that's going to do damage to many of my constituents. In other words, we can't say, well, let's take care of the airlines, and then we will take care of the payroll protection program later.

We have to do everything, and we need to do it as quickly as we can.

I would say to the American public that I think that the problem is here.

We can pass the bill, the president -- what the president wants, but it will mean that Republicans and Democrats will have to vote together. It'll be a bill where there may be, and particularly in the House, more Democrats voting for it than Republicans.

And I think that's a political picture that some Republicans don't care to share out in the greater universe.

But that may be the only way we're going to get something substantial passed. And I would rather have both sides bending, as opposed to breaking the heart of the American public. And I think that's what's going on now.

People are out here hurting and crying.

ACUNA:  Right.

CLEAVER:  Members of Congress are -- well, we're -- I'm not involved in the negotiations, but I express my position.

And I think everybody on both sides of the aisle probably should do the same, express their position. We need to get something done, and done quickly.

ACUNA:  Well, Americans definitely are waiting for some good news here.

And while I have you here, I would like to get your thoughts on how you thought things went. We're just at the beginning of the week here for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. But I wanted to know what you thought.

How do you feel Democrats are doing right now in this hearing? And do they

-- are they walking a fine line this week? They got to be careful.

She seems to be doing well.

CLEAVER:  Yes, I haven't watched much of it.

But I kept hearing people saying that there are those who are attacking her

-- attacking her religion, which I haven't heard.

And unlike some of my colleagues, if I hear somebody attacking her religion, I won't be saying, I wouldn't do it, I would have never said it.

I will condemn it.

I'm an ordained United Methodist pastor with three years of seminary. I have a master's degree in theology. I respect every religion, every faith tradition. And if somebody is attacking her religion, that's -- in fact, I just made a phone call and said, hey, I keep hearing people, the Republicans, saying that.

Can somebody tell me who it was? So -- and I'm going to try to figure that out. I will hopefully get some more information about it.

ACUNA:  Congressman, thank you very much -- well, I -- we really appreciate your time.

I know you were expecting to talk to Neil Cavuto, but you're talking to little old me in Denver. I appreciate the time.

Thank you so much.

CLEAVER:  Sure. Good to be with you.

ACUNA:  Thank you.

Twenty years ago, the USS Cole was attacked in a port in Yemen, killing 17 sailors.

Today, we remember those lost that day and also those sailors who fought to save the ship.


CAVUTO:  Twenty years ago today, what some call the precursor of the modern-day terrorist attacks on the United States that would come 11 months later at the World Trade Center.

Well, it all began 20 years ago today, when the USS Cole, off the coast of Yemen, was attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists in a speedboat. It ultimately killed 17 sailors, wounded another 37. And it was the opening salvo, some say the continuing salvo, in a terror war that continues to this day.

Kirk Lippold, the commander of USS Cole, joins us right now.

Commander, very good to have you.

If you think about what you and your men and women endured that day, and what it would trigger a little more than 11 months later, and in countless attacks back and forth since, what do you think?

KIRK LIPPOLD, FORMER COMMANDER, USS COLE:  Well, Neil, it was one of those where the attack on USS Cole really was the start, because, up until that point, whether it had been World Trade Center 1, Khobar Towers, the embassies in Africa, they were attacked by terrorist organizations against buildings that housed and represented U.S. interest.

Cole was actually -- the attack on Cole was an attempt to prevent us from defending those interests. And when you try to take away a nation's ability to defend itself, it's an act of war that, unfortunately, because of the mind-set of the American people in the political class at the time, they missed it.

And so, unfortunately, we suffered through 9/11 11 months later.

CAVUTO:  Was there any -- did it absorb it? When you see these guys coming up in what look like motorized dinghy, that they wished harm? Anything to tip you off?

LIPPOLD:  There was no indication.

The morning we pulled in for a brief stop for fuel as part of routine harbor operations, we contracted for three garbage barges to take off trash, plastic and hazmat. Two boats came out, one to the middle of the ship, one to the back of the ship by the flight deck.

They left and were halfway across the harbor when a boat that looked exactly like they did about 24-foot-long, center console, outboard motor with to two people in it, came down by the bow, came right to the middle of the ship -- that's how it was inside the security perimeter -- and detonated as a waterborne improvised explosive device, which the Navy had no intelligence on, we'd never trained for.

And, consequently, that explosion would kill 17 and wound 37. But the crew responded as true heroes and valiantly, and immediately went out to save that ship and their shipmates.

CAVUTO:  Just amazing.

That was an Al Qaeda-sourced attack. Al Qaeda and host of others, from the Taliban, to ISIS, have emerged, different names, same goal, same perversions.

We like to say now we have got ISIS on the run, and this isn't a problem anymore. You have always reminded me, they're like cockroaches. They come up in different forms, shapes and in different locales.

Are you still worried about that?

LIPPOLD:  I'm very much concerned. I think, unlike the mind-set back then, I think that Americans now realize there's no such thing as a non-state sponsor of terrorism.

All these international terrorist organizations have state sponsors somewhere that allow them to recruit, to conduct operations, to do financing, get arms. And so, consequently, it's going back to some of these governments that have supported it.

One that recently decided to change its mind and turned around has been Sudan, which there was a lawsuit by some of the Cole survivors that have done that. But the reality is, we need to hold governments accountable.

And when we, as the United States, do that, that is where you go to the core and the route of finding terrorists and cutting them off at the knees, so that they literally don't have the capability to do harm, not only to the United States, but our allies in other countries around the world.

CAVUTO:  Yes, you're right about that. Commander, it all started with your fine men and women, your command. And what you saw then and telegraphed then, we're very familiar with some two decades later.

Commander, thank you very, very much.

LIPPOLD:  Well, thank you, Neil.

It was an absolute honor to be at that ceremony today, to not only remember the 17 sailors we lost, but to truly honor the crew that saved that ship, where USS Cole is out there still defending freedom today, and getting ready for another deployment. Those young men and women have inherited that legacy.

And they're carrying on in the finest traditions of the United States Navy.

CAVUTO:  You're right. And it's alive and well, Commander. Thank you very, very much.

Stay with us.

LIPPOLD:  Thank you, Neil.


CAVUTO:  All right, the president off to Florida right now.

He's going to be busy. But Florida is an important tipoff, as the president plans his first outside Washington area campaign appearance since testing positive for COVID.

David Paleologos joins us right now from Suffolk University, good read of all things politics and where we stand right now.

David, the polls show it's still pretty tight in the Sunshine State. The RealClear average still gives the edge to Joe Biden, but anything could happen.

What's your sort of lay of the Florida state right now?

DAVID PALEOLOGOS, SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY:  So, in our poll, we have a 45-45 percent tie. But, in our poll, we listed all seven of the candidates who are certified for the Florida ballot.

That may come into play if the race is 45-45.

CAVUTO:  So, when you look at Florida right now -- and, obviously, it was dealing with a spike in COVID cases. They eased a little bit. Some people say this is a call -- judgment call on the Florida governor and whether he screwed things up earlier on.

Things seem to be stabilizing a little bit. What's your read of the state right now?

PALEOLOGOS:  Most people are supportive of what Governor DeSantis did, and a majority in this poll. And it also shows how important, as you mentioned, that I-4 Corridor is.


PALEOLOGOS:  When you think about the differences between the Space Coast and Daytona on the East Coast, and, obviously, the Sarasota area, the Gulf Coast, so that stretch of people -- and it's no surprise that Trump is going out to Florida to those areas, because they have higher-than-average independents.

And those will make the difference in this election.

CAVUTO:  The quiet vote, the Trump vote we hear so much about, what do you think of that in states like Florida and elsewhere, that the president argues is understated, people don't appreciate that, there's a lot out there?

PALEOLOGOS:  Yes, well, there could be high undecided -- in the high undecided or in the third-party candidates, but also in what we call the non-response bias, which is, Trump voters don't participate in polls.

I'm less inclined to believe that. I think that, in the last election, we had higher-than-average in undecideds, higher than average in the third- party candidates. But you don't have a Green Party candidate. Most of the ballots have a Libertarian.

CAVUTO:  All right.

PALEOLOGOS:  But, as I say, you have got this candidate in Florida and other candidates that are going to matter if the race is close.

CAVUTO:  David, thank you very, very much.

I also want to thank Alicia Acuna for coming in at the last second. What a pro.

Sorry about that.

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