Tennessee small business owners voice concerns after COVID lockdowns

Oct. 23, 2020 – This is a rush transcript from “The Story with Martha MacCallum”…

This is a rush transcript from “The Story with Martha MacCallum” October 23, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hello there, Bret. Good to see you tonight. Happy Friday to you my friend. Good evening everybody. Good evening to you and happy Friday. I’m Martha McCallum and this is THE STORY on this Friday night. We’ve got 11 days to go and we’re seeing an unprecedented level of early voting like we’ve never seen before process country.

You’ve got 50 million Americans who already voted. So, in the 2016 in the entire election 136 million Americans by the end of all the voting on Election Day. We also know that one in five of those early voters are new voters who didn’t vote in that state at least in 2016 or they’re new to voting all together so we’re looking at election perhaps that could have an enormous turnout or is it just that the virus has changed voting patterns in a very big way.

So we also know that by and large in some of these crucial swing states, Biden voters are the ones who are mailing it in predominantly and Trump voters for the most part according to our polls are saying they want to put that ballot in by hand, in person on election day or at least when early voting opens up in their states, in those big swing states.

So today President Trump and Joe Biden moved into the home stretch of this whole thing and that is for sure. 11 more days so President Trump in Florida, two big rallies today. There he is earlier at the villages. This weekend he’s going to Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Then he’s going to be in Pennsylvania come Monday.

Joe Biden has one on his schedule and that is Pennsylvania tomorrow. He did something close to home in Delaware today after the big debate last night so with all that early voting is it too late even for this debate to change the outcome or to impact voters opinions and their abilities to change their mind at this point.

In a moment, I will speak with Cody Campbell who is a former NFL players, who now is a Texas oil CEO and he had a pretty strong reaction to what was perhaps Joe Biden’s most perilous moment last night in that debate.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would he close down the oil industry?


TRUMP: Would you close down the oil industry?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have a transition from the owners for yes.


MACCALLUM: So first we begin tonight with Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt with a look at where this thing stands now that the debates, Chris are behind us. We can just put a bow on the debate season. It is now done and over. And I just wonder what you think about how many people are left to be influenced when you look at how many have already voted.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: Well, I think something everybody has to bear in mind here and these numbers, we love the numbers, we’re data nerds, we love them, I want to roll around them. I’m like Scrooge McDuck diving into and I’m crazy for it.

But let’s remember something, early voters are not persuadable voters. No one says I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, I think I better go down and cast an early ballot. No, if you’re an undecided or persuadable voter, you’re not going to be in that first wave of votes.

Now look, there’s a lot the Democrats can brag about here and they’ve done a really good job with their get out to vote efforts and they have really pushed people and all those new voters are a reflection of that and all that stuff but there is a lot of football left to play here to mix my metaphors.

There’s a lot yet to do and as you pointed out, since President Trump really denounced the mail-in voting, we would expect to see maybe even Republicans vote in-person at a higher rate than they did even in 2016 or in 2012 like maybe he’s really suppressed that mail-in vote and they’re really going to focus on day of voting. Who knows?

MACCALLUM: You know which side do you think is registering more new voters and finding you know beating the bushes for folks that did not come out last time around and getting them? Who’s filling their rolls in a bigger way?

STIREWALT: We have data to support the notion that Republicans in key states, especially Pennsylvania and Florida did a lot on the voter registration front but at this point we just can’t know. So many states have same day registration, so many states have loosened registration rules even around the coronavirus, it’s going to be impossible to say.

I’m skeptical that 20 percent of the electorate is going to be new voters this time, given the fact that it’s usually 7 or 8 percent and I think we’re going to see that number level out but who knows, as you pointed out, it’s a weird year.

MACCALLUM: It’s a weird year indeed. Let’s take a look at Frank Luntz’s Focus group from last night and some of the words that they used to describe President Trump last night when they were asked about his performance.
















UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprisingly presidential.


MACCALLUM: Poised, presidential, constrained, all words that everybody always associates with President Trump, right?

STIREWALT: I like the guy that said surprisingly presidential like Trump, it’s like the new and improved repackaged Trump, it’s surprisingly presidential.

MACCALLUM: Yep. You know, it’s interesting I saw President Trump today at the White House and he said you know some people like some more aggressive version in the first debate and some people think that this was a more popular way to go. I have a lot of style he said. Do you think that anything moved the needle in terms of fixing the damage from the first time around, Chris?

STIREWALT: Well, I differed with a lot of those sort of mainstream analysis going into the debate. Trump is further back now than he was in 2016 and there are a fewer undecided voters. He is in a more difficult spot now.

He’s in a tighter crack than he was two weeks.

Now four years ago, he closed the gap five points in the last two weeks. He closed really strong but even if he could somehow do it again, he still would be too far back and there aren’t enough persuadable voters. So my thought was he should have doubled on Godzilla Trump for the second debate because the only thing that he can really do now.

He’s got a hard ceiling. He’s got to bring Joe Biden ceiling down. You can’t – for Trump, he had to do something to blow Biden up. For Biden, he knew he just had to get out, he just had to get out of Nashville. All he had to do was get out of Nashville, if the worst thing that happened to him was he slipped up on oil, then he calls it a win so I think Trump should’ve gone harder after him.

MACCALLUM: Really? I think that’s very interesting. I mean especially when you look at – we’re going to talk about this suburban women voters and I just thought that there had to be some of those out there who voted for Trump last time around who looked at what they saw last night.

Let me quote John Podhoretz here. He said, “Fifty million votes have already been cast and they were cast with the memory of that disaster fresh in the minds of the early voters. The voters up for grabs might have acted differently if they had seen this guy.”

How’s that Chris?

STIREWALT: Early voters are not persuadable voters. Early voters are hard core partisans that are banking votes that are going to be for that party no matter what. The persuadable voters are the last to decide and the last to vote.

MACCALLUM: All right Chris, we will see. 11 days ago. Always good to see you. Happy Friday my friend. Have a good one.

STIREWALT: You bet. Happy Friday.

MACCALLUM: Yes. All right, so what of the most talked about moments that we just hit on there for a second from the debate last night was this very interesting exchange about the oil industry. Watch this.


TRUMP: Would he close down the oil industry?

WELKER: It falls –

TRUMP: Would you close down the oil industry?

BIDEN: I would transition from their own so yes.

TRUMP: Oh, that’s a big statement.

BIDEN: I would transition. It is a big statement because I would stop.

WELKER: Why would you do that?

BIDEN: Because the oil industry pollutes, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.

TRUMP: Basically, what he’s saying is he’s going to destroy the oil industry. Would you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma?


MACCALLUM: Yes, you could tell that the president, that sort of lit up in that moment. He knew that that was going to be a problematic issue for some voters out there. Other voters would be happy to hear that in terms of the environment so here now with reaction Cody Campbell, co-CEO and founder of Double Eagle Energy Holdings in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cody, great to have you here tonight. You know Joe Biden, the former Vice President, was asked this morning to clarify what he said last night and here’s what he said. Watch this.


BIDEN: Actually we’re going to have to go to all but we’re not going to get rid of fossil fuel we’re going to get rid of the subsidies for fossil fuel but we’re not going to get rid of fossil fuels for a long time.


MACCALLUM: Yes, so that was last night actually, working on the clean up on that almost immediately before getting on the plane. Cody, what do you think about, what he had to say last night?

CODY CAMPBELL, CEO, DOUBLE EAGLE ENERGY HOLDINGS: Well, I was disappointed by obviously. He’s clearly very disconnected from the real world but I wasn’t surprised by it. What he said last night was consistent with the platform that he’s carried from the beginning.

You know he’s flipped and flopped a lot. I think out of an effort to sort of trick some voters in certain states to vote for him but really, he is after the end of our industry. He wants to put an end to our industry and what he said last night made that very clear.

MACCALLUM: What would be the impact do you think on jobs in Texas and will that affect the vote in Texas which is surprisingly close according to the polls?

CAMPBELL: Sure, you know the impact would be devastating to the state of Texas, but the impact would be felt across the country. You know we support tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs in this state but our industry also supports jobs all across the country. Steel workers, auto workers, petrochemical workers and so the impact if you end, put an end to the American oil and gas industry would be millions of jobs across the country and it would really hurt the competitiveness of every industry because they wouldn’t increase all the costs that we bear.

So, it would be a devastating thing for the American economy if you were to put an end to oil and gas.

MACCALLUM: Yes, you know thank you for putting a voice to your industry. We spoke with a gentleman from the boiler makers the other night and you look at all the manufacturing and the industries across this country and you know, I thought this was an interesting comment on another cable channel, referring to people who support President Trump’s policies and what you know, what makes their mind tick.

Just listen to this from Jon Meacham.


JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the white man’s – the anguished, nervous white guy’s lizard brain. I think Trump did himself good with his base tonight. The question for America is how big that base is.


MACCALLUM: What would you say to him about that comment and the way that he characterized people across this country?

CAMPBELL: Well, what I would say is that I wake up every morning thinking about taking care of my family, putting food on the table. I think about taking care of our employees and their families. And if that means that I have a lizard brain then I guess that you can chalk me up as an iguana because that’s what I am and I think a lot of people in this country feel the same way that I do.

MACCALLUM: Well put. Cody, thank you very much. Good to have you with us tonight. Thank you very much.

CAMPBELL: Yes, thank you. Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: We’ll get back to you.

CAMPBELL: You bet, anytime. So, what did the FBI know about the Bidens in Ukraine during the whole impeachment saga? What did they have on that laptop when all that was going on? It’s a very good question. Also, these text messages from Hunter Biden’s business associate imply that Joe Biden was at least aware of these deals, which he has said was not the case, but the former VP says that.


BIDEN: I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.



MACCALLUM: So, there are always a couple of October surprises in the weeks before an election and last night just before the debate, we got this development on the Biden family business dealings with overseas partners.

Hunter Biden’s then associate Tony Bobulinski says that he has evidence that Joe Biden was somehow involved. Watch this.


TONY BOBULINSKI, HUNTER BIDEN’S EX- BUSINESS PARTNER: I’ve heard Joe Biden said that he’s never discussed business with Hunter. That is false. I have first-hand knowledge about this because I directly dealt with the Biden family.


MACCALLUM: Today we understand that the former navy lieutenant met with the FBI to tell them what he knows and to turn over three phones that he showed everyone last night at that news conference. My next guest writes, “Now Corruption Story is about Joe, not Hunter.”

Joining me now Wall Street Journal editorial page assistant editor James Freeman. James, good to have you with us tonight. I want to begin by going back to the exchange last night between the president and Joe Biden on this. It was kind of a moment that everybody had been waiting for Joe Biden to respond to and here’s what happened. Watch.


TRUMP: They even have a statement that we have to give 10 percent to the big man. You’re the big man, I think. I don’t know, maybe you’re not, but you’re the big man, I think. Your son said we have to give 10 percent to the big man. Joe, what’s that all about? It’s terrible.

WELKER: All right gentlemen, I want to ask you both some questions.

BIDEN: I have to respond to that.

WELKER: I’m going to let you both respond very quickly.


MACCALLUM: So James, we didn’t really get a response from Joe Biden to the question, are you the big guy, it’s big guy and here’s the email that he was referring to May 13, 2017 between the business partners who were involved in this proposed deal and at the bottom of it, it quite clearly says 10 held by H for the big guy.

Your thoughts on what ground we covered here last night. Did we learn anything?

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE: Well, we saw as you said that Mr. Biden is not denying he’s the big guy. We saw that in the Journal’s reporting as well that the other partners in the venture are not denying that he’s the big guy and you have from Mr.

Bobulinski, this direct contradiction of what Mr. Biden, Joe Biden has told us in the past that we didn’t talk about this influence peddling business with his son.

He wasn’t involved. You now have Mr. Bobulinski putting him at the same

(INAUDIBLE) and you also have among these emails which people I think are no longer calling disinformation and people are not disputing their authenticity anymore. You see here enormous sums of money being discussed.

$10 million in one email for introductions alone. This is a part of the email communication between Hunter Biden and the head of CEFC, the Chinese company.

I think people naturally asked who pays $10 million just for introductions and who is it that you pay $10 million to meet?

MACCALLUM: Well, it may be that nobody did pay that. You know one of the things that strikes me is that there was a lot of effort put out here and the way that Joe Biden phrased it was I don’t have any stock in any of those companies and I never took a penny. It doesn’t mean that these – that Hunter Biden wasn’t trying to put together these deals, trying to do these transactions.

It looks like a number of them fell through. Were any of them successful?

Did they get paid on any of these deals according to your coverage of this or the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on this?

FREEMAN: Well, we see in the – report in August of 2017, the Chinese company sent $5 million to an entity called Hudson West 3, which was affiliated with Hunter Biden. Immediately then money began flowing to another Biden entity – firm of Hunter Biden’s in the amount of $4.7 million over a series of payments.

These are described vaguely as some kind of consulting fees. Once again just like a lot of these Hunter Biden adventures all over the world, very big money in industries for which he seems massively unqualified and each time these issues have come up, the Bidens have not even tried to argue. No Hunter isn’t really an expert on Chinese – or Ukrainian energy or Romanian real estate or Moscow real estate.

Multimillion dollar payments and I think this is wrong even if there’s not the proof that it ended up going to Joe, why he tolerated this including when he was Vice President is something I think he has to reckon with.

MACCALLUM: James Freeman, thank you very much. We’ll keep following it.

Good to talk to you tonight.

FREEMAN: Thanks for–

MACCALLUM: Coming up Joe Biden last night – good to see you sir – last night, warned of a dark winter caused by the coronavirus as most states continue to see increases in cases. While President Trump vowed that the country will not lock down again. Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson sorts it out for us after this.


TRUMP: We have to open our school and we can’t close up our nation or you’re not going to have a nation.

BIDEN: What I would say is I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country.



MACCALLUM: So last night we heard Joe Biden talk about the dark winter that he said is coming and the president said he didn’t believe that the winter would be dark. He said that the end is coming to the virus so joining me now is Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter and author of ‘Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns.’

Good to have you back on the program tonight. What is your reporting–


MACCALLUM: – about looking at the data and where all of this stands about who is right on that question?

BERENSON: Well Martha, to be honest, they’re really both a little bit wrong but President Trump is probably closer to being right. Now there’s a couple of important things to remember. The dark winter projections are coming out of University of Washington model and the University of Washington model has been wrong essentially since this whole thing started back in March and it was wrong last month in September.

They got a lot of attention. They said, there’ll be 400,000 deaths by the end of the year, there’d be 230,000 deaths in the fall and they’ve already cut that projection by almost 50 percent in six weeks and they’re going to have to continue to cut it because there’s just no evidence that deaths are spiking the way they are.

So what have they done in now instead of saying end of the year, they’re saying February 1 or in some cases March 1 and they’re pushing the numbers back up so now they’re saying 0.5 million deaths by sort of you know the spring.

The problem is you know they just keep sort of when they’re wrong, they don’t ever acknowledge they’re wrong, they just push the projection forward and here’s what I think people need to realize. You know the left and the media love to criticize Donald Trump for our response to coronavirus and there’s certainly things we could have done differently but when you look at the U.S. versus the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the four countries in Europe that really got hit the most in the spring, there is a huge second wave going on there right now.

And you know through the summer, the U.S. had a wave in the Sun Belt that you know in retrospect actually, it wasn’t that bad and people you know all these journalists said, look at Europe, they managed it, they dealt with it, they’re done. They did so much better than we did you know.

The U.K.’s having six deaths today and the U.S. is having 1000. Well guess what, those four countries now today are even though their population is a

100 million people smaller than the U.S. if you combine it are going to have more deaths today than the U.S.

There’s just not that much evidence that advance societies, advance liberal economies and societies are able to you know to destroy this virus and make it go away. We all have to manage. If the last seven months have taught us anything, it should be that. There’s been no health system overrun. Four percent of the beds in the U.S. are occupied by people with corona – hospital beds are occupied by people with coronavirus. We’re dealing with this and our economy has not blown up, it’s done much better than Europe and that’s what people should remember.

MACCALLUM: Well, it’s been a tough year, there’s no doubt about it but we always like to hear from you Alex. It’s a reality check and you’re right, those IHME numbers have been all over the map since the very, very beginning of this whole thing but the number has grown. 220 some thousand people we’ve lost at this point as we continue to fight this virus in America. Alex, thank you. Yes, quick thought.

BERENSON: Yes, thank you so much Martha.

MACCALLUM: Oh, thanks Alex. We’ll see you next time.

BERENSON: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: We will have him back I promise. All right, coming up, 2020 voters on the struggle to bounce back after their businesses were locked down. We want to leave enough time for these folks. That’s coming up next.

Thank you.


ANDREW MISHKE, OWNER, ROSEMARY & BEAUTY QUEEN BAR: As a business owner, I think what’s most important, for most, I thought a lot of us, I believe, is predictability.

TK KELLY, CO-OWNER, PERFORMANCE STUDIOS: We lost probably 90 percent of our business. Had to layoffs 12 employees and liquidate the majority of the business.



MACCALLUM: President Trump and Joe Biden clashing over how to help struggling small businesses especially hard-hit from the coronavirus lockdown.


WELKER: Do you support a $15 federal minimum wage.

BIDEN: I do, because I think one of the things we are going to have to do is, we are going to have to bail them out too. We should be bailing them out now, the small businesses. You have one in six of them are going under.

They are not going to be able to make it back.

TRUMP: Every state is different. It should be a state option.


WELKER: You said very recently —

TRUMP: We have to help — it’s very important. We have to help our small businesses.

WELKER: You said —

TRUMP: How are you helping your small businesses when you’re forcing wages?


MACCALLUM: So, in Nashville this week we went to John Rich’s Redneck Riviera and there we gathered with some local business owners. Here’s what they had to say.


MACCALLUM: We’re almost at the election and when you think about the impacts of all of this, Robert, how do you think about how the president has handled all this?

ROBERT SHERRILL, CEO, IMPERIAL CLEANING SYSTEMS, INC.: I mean, under those circumstances and the weight of what’s going on, I mean, it’s hard to judge a person.


SHERRILL: You know, with COVID and the economy and things like that. I mean, he has a great team of people around him. I mean, I think he’s doing pretty well.

MACCALLUM: And you are — are you still an undecided voter at this point?

SHERRILL: Yes. I’m leaning a little more towards Donald Trump simply because as a small business owner, you know, the taxes and things of that nature that the increase that would come under the Biden administration is crippling coming off the heels of the pandemic.

MACCALLUM: What are your thoughts as you look at the election and how would you describe each of them in your head?

KELLY: I feel like I would support Joe Biden and I support his team that I think he will listen to. And it’s more of his team that I’m leaning towards. Donald Trump, I believe hasn’t been unified enough for us to work together against the virus.

MACCALLUM: You all owned small businesses. Who wants to share with me what the impact has been of this year?

MISHKE: It’s been awful. I own a cocktail bar and restaurant and we are down 80 percent. I actually got COVID and had a stroke. And then thousands of dollars of medical debt from it that have happened back in March. All clear now.

And you know, just last night I was at my business speaking to my employees and I had to explain to them. I was like, guys, you have to be careful about this. We have to take this seriously. Because if enough of it — you know, we had an outbreak at our business, and we had to close. That would be it. I said we would close our doors and we wouldn’t reopen.

JULIE RUESEWALD, OWNER, BASEMENT MARKETPLACE: We were able to pivot and shift and we move to an online social media selling strategy and we’ve had a very successful year. And I really think that the reason we’ve been so successful is because our community and our customers have just really embraced us and been loyal and show their support.

DEAN WEGNER, CEO, AUTHENTICALLY AMERICAN: Initially being a three-year-old business, I mean, I was wondering if we’re going to survive. Are we going to be making it through this? And as we have started to come on the other side, everything we do is American-made and that’s what’s been amazing right now. Now more than ever Americans are actively seeking American-made products.

MACCALLUM: In the 1990s, 50 percent of a Para was made in the United States and now it’s 3 percent.

WEGNER: That’s the crazy part.

MACCALLUM: That’s a stunning number.


MACCALLUM: It’s incredible. I want to ask each of you, give me one word to describe Joe Biden.


MISHKE: Trustworthy.

SHERRILL: Confused.

WEGNER: Establishment.


KELLY: Supported.

MACCALLUM: Now let’s go around with President Trump. T.K.?

KELLY: Unreliable.

WEGNER: Strong.

SHERRILL: Courageous.

MISHKE: Unpredictable.

RUESEWALD: I think he’s effective.

MACCALLUM: Look at the country, look at your state, who do you — do you think President Trump will win the election? Raise your hand. It’s interesting. Do you think Biden will win? What gives you that sense, Julie, given what you see in the polls and everything where it looks like it’s not trending towards the president right now.

RUESEWALD: I haven’t called and ask who I am going to vote. And a lot of my conservative friends also haven’t been called. So, you know, I don’t always feel like the polls are accurate.

MACCALLUM: What’s the most important thing for you when you fill out your mail-in ballot or whether you walk-in.

KELLY: I think healthcare. I’m on the other side of it but I do agree that both candidates need to be clear about what the healthcare policy will be.

WEGNER: Black lives matter is personal for me. And my wife Kelly and I have been married 26 years and we are four amazing kids and our youngest son who is 10 who we adopted from Ethiopia. So we have an African-American child.

And I really want the next president to help heal our country. We are so far apart and so divided.

MISHKE: I have two young sons, two and fifth grade and I want them to have leadership that they can look up to. I want them. I want to have our standing kind of restored in the world.

RUESEWALD: I will say also foreign policy because I feel like it’s important for us to be strong in our stand. And make sure that other countries know we stand.

SHERRILL: For me it’s criminal justice reform. I mean, I’ve been on both sides. I’m a successful businessman now. But I haven’t always been. I was released from prison in 2014 and I’m trying to change my life ever since but I’m still being penalized for things that I’ve done in the past.

MACCALLUM: Congratulations to you. I know that it’s going to be the first time you’re voting in a presidential election.


MISHKE: Congratulations.

MACCALLUM: Congratulations to you.

SHERRILL: Thank you. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: That’s really to be commended. Thank you all so much. I wish you the best in your businesses.


MACCALLUM: Great, great group that we met with there. And I’m glad to be joined by two of them from the panel live this evening. Julie Ruesewald, owner of Basement Marketplace who you saw there, and Robert Sherrill, the CEO of Imperial Cleaning Systems Inc. and the Dream Initiative Inc.

Great to see you both again in your place of businesses. Julie, what did you think of the debate last night?

RUESEWALD: I thought it was good. I thought that we were able to hear more clear ideas from both candidates. I thought the format worked a lot better because there was less interrupting. I thought — I thought it was very informative.

MACCALLUM: Sorry, I lost there for a second. Robert, I’m curious what you thought because you came in undecided and you told us as we just saw on the video there that you are leaning Trump. So, did anything that you saw last night make you change your mind or confirm what you’re thinking?

SHERRILL: You know, last night’s debate for sure solidified my vote for Trump. He was strong. He was straightforward. He gave me confidence as an African American in this country moving forward with him at the head. So, I’m very confident.

MACCALLUM: Robert, just staying with you for a minute, I’m curious what you thought about what their exchange on the minimum wage. How many employees do you have? And you know, what are your thoughts on that? What did you think about what they said?

SHERRILL: So pre — pre-COVID I had 22 employees. You know, when the pandemic hit, I had to get rid of a lot of people. I got rid of some of my admin staff, frontline staff. Fifteen, in this climate in Nashville, $15 an hour is like, it’s an astronomical amount of money for small business owner to be paying.

Of course, you know, as a small business owner you’re going to have different workers making different amounts of money. You may have your supervisor making 15. You may have someone under him making 13, or 12. But to be able to have to pay everyone $15 an hour, that wouldn’t be sustainable for me and my company.

MACCALLUM: OK. Julie, what did you think about that? And you know, and what did you think about the outreach to small businesses last night specifically?

RUESEWALD: I agree with Robert on the minimum wage. Fifteen dollars an hour is very difficult for small business here in our local community. I mean, if you think about it, we even employ a lot of high school students. It’s a part-time after-school job, a weekend job. So, $15, I know a lot of my fellow business owners in this community, that would be just devastating to us.

MACCALLUM: So, Julie, would you have to do —


SHERRILL: And Martha —

MACCALLUM: — would you lay people off? Yes, go ahead, Robert. Go ahead.

SHERRILL: I mean, I wish I could pay them 15.


SHERRILL: By no means I don’t want just to be taken like I don’t want them to make it. I wish I could pay them but, you know, as a small business owner, there’s something I won’t be able to do and be able to —


SHERRILL: — sustain and stay afloat.

MACCALLUM: I hear you. All right. Julie, real quick. Would you have to lay people off if you had to do 15 an hour?

RUESEWALD: We would, yes, really. I mean, the high school staff that we depend on for a lot of our weekend coverage, we wouldn’t be able to support that rate.

MACCALLUM: All right, Julie and Robert, thanks for checking back in with us tonight. Pleasure to meet both of you.

SHERRILL: We’re trying. Let’s go.

MACCALLUM: Wish you the best of luck.

RUESEWALD: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: All right, thank you guys. Good to see you.

So, for more of my conversation with the Tennessee voters which was longer and really interesting that what you just saw, go to the Untold Story podcast on our Fox News podcast website or wherever you listen.

And next, we are one weekend away from a historic vote that could solidify Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court justice. Senator Joni Ernst of the judiciary committee joins me next.


MACCALLUM: Senate now one step closer to confirming the president’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advanced her nomination to the floor today despite push-back and some attempts to delay the process. Watch this.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It’s a stain on this body and an indelible mark on this Senate majority.


MACCALLUM: So, if Barrett is confirmed, President Trump will have appointed more justices in one term than any president since Richard Nixon. And that would give conservatives a six-three majority. All of it unfolding just over one week out from election day.

Joining me now, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa who sits on the judiciary committee. Senator, good to have you with us today. Thank you for being here this evening.

I understand that there was a closed session for the first time in a decade in the Senate today. They pushed all the reporters and other folks out.

What happened in that closed session and why did it happen?

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Well, thank you, Martha. This was just one tactic that the Democrats were using to try and delay the movement of Amy Coney Barrett across the floor of the Senate. And the Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, he stated that he wanted to have this closed session so he could have a candid discussion on the floor of the Senate about this process.

I’m sorry. What candid discussion? What happened? We heard from the Democratic leader that would have been new behind closed doors, so just another tactic by the Democrats to slow down the process.

MACCALLUM: All right. So, the latest Gallup poll shows 51 percent would like to see Judge Barrett confirmed. Do you expect that there’s going to be more delay tactics, or do you think this is going to go through and what do you think happens after that?

ERNST: Well, I do anticipate that the Democratic leader and the Democrats will try whatever stall tactics they can. We do anticipate that. However, there is the wherewithal and the Republican majority to get this nomination over the finish line. That should happen Monday. It will be the final vote on Judge Barrett to become the new associate justice on the Supreme Court.

So, I do see this going through.

MACCALLUM: So, I understand that there’s also going to be a hearing with Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg about an issue that is more clearer to a lot of Americans across the country, that these — you know, the question about whether or not there are platforms for everyone to participate in or whether they’re putting their thumb on the scale. What do you want to know from those companies and those hearings, Senator?

ERNST: Well, certainly when we have them in front of us, I want to know what are they doing to determine whose first amendment rights are protected, whose aren’t and how are they determining that, how are they deciding who to cut off, what messages to promote or to push under the rug.

All of that needs to be answered. We’ve experienced this in Iowa certainly during this political season. So, we just need these answers for all Iowans and for all Americans. And I’m very anxious to have them in front of the committee. I know they will be speaking to the commerce committee as well.

There’s a lot of interest in this right now. But they shouldn’t be suppressing our first amendment rights.

MACCALLUM: So, obviously, this is going to be a tight election when you look at all of these polls. You’re in a tight Senate race right now against Theresa Greenfield. The president and Joe Biden are in a tight race in Iowa as well.

And it’s interesting to note where the polls are with regard to women, particularly white women. President Trump beat Hillary Clinton with that demographic last time around. And now he trails significantly in that demographic. So, what do you think is going on in Iowa and what do you expect to happen?

ERNST: Honestly, I try not to pay much attention to the polls. I do believe that they are off. What I feel on the ground is a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the president. I feel that in my own Senate race. I travel all of Iowa’s counties, all 99 counties every single year. I’m visiting with farmers, small business owners, healthcare systems.

And I feel that before the pandemic, of course the economy was booming.

People care about that. They want to see us get through the pandemic safely, responsibly. But they want to see the economy open. And we saw that President Trump really led the way to a strong economy, low unemployment.

We wish to get back there.

And so, I’m — I’m excited. I know my constituents are excited. And I do think that the president will carry the state of Iowa and I feel that I’ll be able to hold this senate seat. But it is going to be a fight to the finish.

MACCALLUM: It’s going to be a fight to the finish for both sides. There’s no doubt about it and unusual to see such tight races in Iowa.


MACCALLUM: But we will be watching. Eleven days to go. Senator, thank you.

Good to have you here tonight.

ERNST: Thanks, Martha, very much.

MACCALLUM: Air Force One landed moments ago and the president has his second campaign stop of the day two in Florida today. He was at the villages earlier waiting for the door to open there in Pensacola. He is in a dead heat with Joe Biden in the very important state of Florida with 29 electoral votes at stake there. We’re going to take you there live as soon as we get back.


MACCALLUM: President rally — President Trump, I should say, holding a second rally of the day in Florida. As they wait for the door to open on Air Force One. Tonight, he’s working to hang on to Escambia County in the westernmost part of that state which he carried by 20 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

White House correspondent Kevin Corke live on the ground in Pensacola tonight. Hi, Kevin.

KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: hey there, Martha. It’s a little loud as you can well imagine. And believe it or not, this is actually sort of a two for one stop for this president. As you mentioned, he actually did very well in this part of the state, this key swing state back in 2016. But this is also, as you know, right along the Alabama- border.

So, for him, it’s a chance to say hello and to make that final push. You know, this is a sprint to the finish for the president as of course we have less than two weeks to go between now and the election.

And I mentioned the stop here. Keep in mind, earlier, I showed you a stop back in Virginia where we were right along the North Carolina border against sort of a two for one, and that’s a key strategy down the stretch.

They want to energize the base but they also want to make sure that people who might still be on the fence have a chance to hear the president personally.

Now, you also know this, many in the crowd here were up here very early, 8 o’clock in the morning, many of them in the front. That may not sound terribly impressive until you consider it was mildly hot and humid all day long.

The governor, Ron DeSantis speaking now. The president coming up. We’ll have live coverage. But for now, Martha, back to you.

MACCALLUM: All right. We are waiting to see that. We’ve got a new little friend here to our house. Can you say hello? This is his first day with us.

So, say hi. All right. That’s THE STORY for this Friday, October 23, 2020.

A puppy makes everyone happy on a Friday, right? THE STORY continues. We’ll see you back here on Monday night at seven o’clock. And we will all be here. Right? Have a great weekend. Take care. Bye, everybody

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