TRANSCRIPTS + FULL EPISODE: Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), and POLITICO Florida reporter Marc Caputo

10/25/20 Biden campaign co-chair Rep. Cedric Richmond covers the election, Sen. John Thune...
10/25/20 Biden campaign co-chair Rep. Cedric Richmond covers the election, Sen. John Thune talks COV
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 10:07 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Joe Biden’s National Campaign Co-Chairman, for Gray TV’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, October 25, 2020. The program also features an interview with POLITICO Florida reporter Marc Caputo.

Sen. Thune said the COVID crisis is weighing heavily with voters, contradicted President Trump’s statement that coronavirus was going away, and said “the President’s rhetoric around masks … certainly can improve.”

On whether Republicans would maintain control of the Senate, Thune said: “We got really competitive races around the country, many within the margin of error. And so I don’t think you can say with confidence one way or the other.”

Rep. Richmond said he was not concerned about the level of support for Biden among Black voters, citing President Trump’s debate performance: “In the middle of his tirade about being the least racist person in the room, he said, ‘Oh, it’s dark. I can’t see everyone in here.’”

On Biden’s plan for dealing with COVID, Richmond said: “We’re going to tell the American people the truth so that we can empower them to make their own decisions”; and on the former Vice President’s tax plan: “We’ve made it very clear that we’re not going to raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000. Period. Point blank.”

Full transcript for Sen. John Thune is here.

Full transcript for Rep. Cedric Richmond is here.

Interview highlights are below.

Sen. John Thune highlights

On whether COVID is the defining issue of the campaign

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

Americans decide what issues are important to them, but that issue has been so much in the news and the President’s obvious response to it, which the former Vice President Biden is trying to make an issue of, I think has been an issue on people’s minds, continues to be an issue on people’s minds. Related to that, I would argue the economy. I think that the security issues that have come to the surface here in the last few months, also a big issue as we head into the final days of the campaign. But no question about COVID weighing heavily, I think, on people’s minds.

Greta Van Susteren

Well, the president at the debate said that it’s going away and then you’ve got the situation even in your home state on Thursday and Friday, I think, your home state of South Dakota has had its highest numbers yet of new cases. So how do you reconcile that? What do you tell the people of South Dakota?

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

Well, it’s definitely not going away in South Dakota. I think the President is trying to sound an optimistic tone with respect to the fact that there is going to be hopefully a vaccine soon and we know how to treat it better now, we’ve got better therapeutics, and from a healthcare standpoint, we are learning at least how to live with and manage it.

On President Trump mocking masks

Greta Van Susteren

You mentioned masks. On Friday in the Oval Office, the President was holding a pool spray and he had Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone because of a historic event happened, normalization relations between Sudan in Israel, which is a huge boost for the President yet at the same time, is that when a reporter from Reuters asked a question on the speakerphone to Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Trump mocked, the fact that the reporter had a mask on. Mocked him.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

Right, and again, I don’t think... I think the President’s rhetoric around masks, for example, certainly can improve.

On foreign election interference

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

The one thing that they continue to do effectively, and that is infiltrate through social media platforms. And there is a lot of trolling, a lot of bots that are out there, a lot of misinformation.

And I think that the platforms have a lot to do with trying to prevent that from happening. And we’re going to have them in this next week to talk about some of these issues. And I’m sure Facebook and Google and Twitter are some of the biggest targets. I think of these foreign countries that want to interfere with American elections. And I think it’s important that we hear from them about the steps that they’re taking to prevent that.

On Biden’s plan for the economy

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

I do believe that if elected, vice president, former Vice President Biden has an agenda that could create great harm to the economy. I think increasing taxes, talking about doing away entirely with fossil fuels, the green new deal, Medicare for all, though he would define it differently in terms of. I just want to have a public option, but for all intents and purposes, that’s moving in that direction.

Control of the Senate

Greta Van Susteren

Do you expect to lose the Senate?

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

We got really competitive races around the country, many within the margin of error. And so I don’t think you can say with confidence one way or the other. I believe we will win, I think our candidates are trending in the right direction.

If for whatever reason we lose the presidential race, we definitely need to keep a majority of the Senate to prevent what I think would be some really bad things from happening to include the Democrats doing away with the legislative filibuster and trying to expand the Supreme Court.

Rep. Cedric Richmond highlights

On Trump and Black voters

Greta Van Susteren

Do you worry that Vice President Biden is not going to get as big a chunk of the African-American vote as you would anticipate or otherwise?

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden Campaign National Co-Chairman

"No, actually, I’m not. I think that African-American voters see exactly what they have to lose. At the debate in the middle of his tirade about being the least racist person in the room, he said, “Oh, it’s dark. I can’t see everyone in here.” Look, he is who we know he is, and that is the person who said, “Go back to your shithole countries.” He’s the guy who still called for the death penalty for the exonerated five, even though they were innocent. And if you look at his policies, his platinum plan, he’s talking about Juneteenth as a holiday. And we’re not looking for a holiday. We’re looking for economic empowerment.

On foreign election interference

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden Campaign National Co-Chairman

This is an act of war from these other countries interfering in our elections. And I don’t care if it’s Iran. I don’t care if it’s China. I don’t care if it’s Russia. But we knew, all of the intelligence officials last time said that Russia interfered in our election. Donald Trump, when he met with Putin, one time he brought it up and said, “I believe Putin over our intelligence officials.”

So when you have a president saying he believes foreign dictators over our intelligence community, they have no reason not to continue the bad acts that they have been doing, as opposed to enacting harsh sanctions and treating it like an act of war.

On Biden’s plan for dealing with COVID

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden Campaign National Co-Chairman

We’re going to tell the American people the truth so that we can empower them to make their own decisions. We would not hide from them how dangerous it is and that wearing a mask actually saves lives. We won’t play politics with it.

On Biden’s plan for Obamacare

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden Campaign National Co-Chairman

He wants to start on day one and add a public option to it, so that if you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid, for example, Louisiana, we expanded Medicaid. We didn’t lose one rural hospital because we did it. Similar states, South Carolina, they didn’t expand Medicaid. They’ve lost four rural hospitals because of the failure to expand Medicaid.

On Biden’s tax plan

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden Campaign National Co-Chairman

We’ve made it very clear that we’re not going to raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000. Period. Point blank. If you make under 400, you won’t pay any new taxes. And to those who make over 400, the truth of the matter is to whom much is given much is required. And that we have a lot of investment to make in this country, whether it’s in our infrastructure, and broadband, and building schools, and recovering from COVID, those frontline workers, and it’s going to cost money.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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