CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia Corey Stewart and grilled him about his association with racists and anti-Semitic people.
Transcript, via CNN:
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: CUOMO: All right, defending Confederate symbols, cottoning to some people with ugly ideas -- none of that kept Corey Stewart from getting the endorsement of the president of the United States, and more votes than the rest of the GOP field in the primary for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat. No small feat.
Stewart, who served as the state director of Donald Trump's campaign for part of 2016 seems to be part of a new movement within the GOP. So what exactly does he represent? And who does he represent?
A lot of people are talking about him tonight. Let's test him directly.
Republican Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart -- welcome to PRIME TIME.
COREY STEWART (R), VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Hey, thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me on your show again.
CUOMO: All right. So, let's put up the president's tweet here about you.
Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, weak on crime and borders, wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don't underestimate Corey. A major chance of winning.
Why do you believe you won the primary?
STEWART: Well, I won the primary because I’m a strong supporter of President Trump. He's a very strong -- he's got a great, you know, a story to tell -- improving the economy, the lowest unemployment record -- rate since the early 1970s. And now, a big success in the foreign policy front as we remove the nuclear threat from North Korea, something that we’ve been living under for several years now.
So, my strong support for President Trump, and plus the fact that Republicans are looking for a fighter, somebody who's going to kick the teeth out of Tim Kaine.
CUOMO: And it's what kind of fight you're going to fight, right? Let's play a little bit of the message you had for the masses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Or you can choose the past, with everything we know that has failed. And that's Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine.
AUDIENCE (chanting): Lock him up!
STEWART: That might just happen, by the way.
STEWART: And it’s going to be two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Lock up Tim Kaine. You're a lawyer. Do you really believe that Tim Kaine should be in jail or is that a Trumpist joke?
STEWART: I’ll tell you something. I really do believe that Tim Kaine has been at the center of all the stuff you're seeing with regard to the FBI. You know, the whole problem is the FBI spying by a federal agency on a presidential campaign.
CUOMO: No proof. Continue, no proof?
STEWART: We're not in a court of law, are we?
CUOMO: Well, that doesn't mean the truth doesn't apply, my brother.
STEWART: I’ll tell you something -- it started with Democrats and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Tim Kaine is right at the center of this. I would not be surprised if there's an investigation of Tim Kaine before the year is out.
CUOMO: You wouldn't be surprised but you have no reason to believe it. What I’m asking you is what are you selling there, Tim Kaine should go to jail? They're spying when you have no proof. Are you selling people on things that are want true but will make them angry? Is that your vibe?
STEWART: I mean, what do you think? Virginians are a bunch of naive people that, you know, will believe anything? Well, at the end of the day, here’s the question that people have to ask themselves, what has Tim Kaine accomplished in his six years in the United States Senate?
Tim Kaine can't point to a single accomplishment in the United States Senate for Virginia or Virginians. The only thing that Tim Kaine has done over the past six years is run for vice president, and he didn't even do a very good job at that, I might add.
CUOMO: All right. Now, look, that's a fair political argument, and he'll have to answer for it. It's different than saying the guy should be in jail and making up, you know, rumors about there being spying. One is factual, one is just an ugly feeling, you know? Now, Kaine can defend himself.
Here's what he has said about you, by the way. He called you a cruder imitation of Donald Trump who stokes white supremacy and would be an embarrassment for Virginia if elected. That's what his spokesperson said about you.
And he does seem to be getting an echo effect within your own party, Mr. Stewart. The former lieutenant governor of the state of Virginia said: I’m extremely disappointed than someone like Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved, and proudly served. Every time I think things can't get worse, and there is no -- they do, and there's no end in sight.
Then you got Gardner who is a big shot when it comes to the Republican Party, and who they picked for Senate, and he said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: Look, we have a big map, and right now, we're focused on Florida, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana. Big map, and I don't see Virginia in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Senator Gardner, not giving you any love. The former lieutenant governor within your party, no love, but Trump giving you love.
Does this mean you are the party that President Trump wants to cultivate?
STEWART: Well, Gardner and the others -- look, they’re going to come around. A lot of hurt feelings. I beat their guy. But they didn't support President Trump back in the day either.
What's happening, Chris, inside of the Republican Party is the party is changing. It's becoming the party of the little guy.
Once upon a time, it was the Democrats who claimed to be the party of the working man. No longer. They abandoned the working guy. They slammed the door in their face and now, it's President Trump and the new Republican Party that is supporting working Americans, blue-collar workers.
That's why we're winning states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and we're about to take back Virginia as well.
CUOMO: That's why Trump may have won them, but I’m talking about you. And you seem to be cottoning to a very specific brand of humanity.
And you're right. It is a little guy that you are being a part of, but it's a little hateful guy. You have a well pronounced past of saying that you agree with and that you like people who push ugly, bigoted, intolerant, and racist notions.
STEWART: Hey, that's a level of lie that's just not true, Chris. Even for CNN, you go that far --
CUOMO: A level of lie that's just not true? Is there any level of lie that is true?
STEWART: That is not the case at all.
CUOMO: I'll make the case to you.
STEWART: I have always condemned, including on your program --
STEWART: -- any white supremacists or bigots or anything like that. We want nothing to do with that.
CUOMO: Have you?
STEWART: But that's the only thing you and the left have. You claim, you play the race card every time because it's the only thing you have.
The president has a success of bringing back --
CUOMO: Forget about the president. I’m talking about you right now.
STEWART: -- economy, the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years.
CUOMO: This is about you.
STEWART: That's what I’m supporting.
CUOMO: And who you have represented as your friends, heroes, and like-minded individuals.
Put up the fact sheet here. These are the facts. Not about my feelings, OK? This guy Nehlen, and I’m not going to give him too much attention because he doesn't deserve it, OK? 2016, he shares tweets defending an anti-Semitic Twitter user. You knew that.
And yet in January 2017, you called him your personal hero.
STEWART: That is not the case. Here's the thing --
CUOMO: It is absolutely the case. I have the proof of it. Let me show it to you.
STEWART: No, no. Chris, are you going to let me get a chance to respond or is this all about you?
CUOMO: No, it's about the facts.
STEWART: Is it about me or is it about you?
CUOMO: And you’re going to live with them. Go ahead.
STEWART: Yes, but you're not giving me the chance to respond.
CUOMO: Go ahead, respond.
STEWART: This is typical. This is typical for you.
STEWART: So, here's the situation. You know, everybody supported Paul Nehlen. President Trump said nice things about Paul Nehlen. Sarah Palin did. Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, a lot of us, the late Phyllis Schlafly did.
And then all of a sudden, after that, after all of that, then about a year later, then, you know, he says -- Paul Nehlen starts coming out with all these terrible things, those anti-Semitic things, those terrible bigoted things.
STEWART: At that point, we -- of course, we wanted nothing to do with it. We all distanced ourselves from him.
CUOMO: Not true.
STEWART: Back in the day, he was not -- he was not like that, at least as far as I know.
CUOMO: Not true. Put back up the timeline. Not true. Demonstrably false.
Here are the facts for the audience, OK? Nehlen then writes about Islam not being a religion of peace and lot of uglier stuff that I didn't want to put out for the audience, OK? He then talks about the lieutenant governor, the then governor, sorry, of South Carolina, and calls her something in an ugly way.
Nehlen then retweets 9/11 would have been a wonderful day without immigrants.
And then, what do you do after that? You give him money for his campaign. OK?
STEWART: That’s -- that is not true at all.
CUOMO: Then only later when he takes it another step, and you decide that you want to reach out to people who may not share your like-minded bigotry, you then say you're denying him. What do I have wrong on the facts? There's the timeline.
STEWART: I don't agree with any of those things.
CUOMO: You don't have to agree with it, but can you deny it? Can you disprove it.
STEWART: Before you say nice things about anybody, do you look at everything they said in the past?
CUOMO: When you're talking about bigots and anti-Semites. Yes.
STEWART: You and Tim Kaine and the far left are trying to change the topic from the fact this president has been successful --
CUOMO: It's not about the president.
STEWART: -- and because of that, he's going to bring me and the other Republicans across the finish line, and it's going to be a red tide this November.
CUOMO: Listen, maybe it will, maybe it won't.
STEWART: It will be.
CUOMO: But you represent something different, OK? You have cottoned --
STEWART: I just told you what I represent.
CUOMO: You’ve cottoned to a man that the facts show --
STEWART: I am the foremost expert on what Cory Stewart believes. I just told you. I don't believe any of those things you mentioned.
CUOMO: Why did you call somebody who is an anti-Semite and an obvious bigot your hero?
STEWART: Let me ask you this question. Are you going to have Tim Kaine on this program?
CUOMO: If he'll say yes.
STEWART: All right, so you ask him this question. Has Tim Kaine -- ask Tim Kaine whether he condemned Antifa --
CUOMO: Oh, please.
STEWART: A domestic terrorist organization that attacks people with political beliefs of which his son is a member.
CUOMO: Answer for you and he will answer for him.
STEWART: You never ask those on the left, the far left like Tim Kaine who condemn --
CUOMO: That's not true. We have had this conversation before, and it's about that. It’s been you trying to play an equivalency game to get away from the bigots that you cottoned to. I’ve just shown you the facts.
STEWART: The left never condemn the extremists on your side. I have condemned the extremists on the right time and time again.
CUOMO: Forget about the left, forget about Trump. Focus on you, because he picked you. He likes you. He likes what you’re about. And I want to talk about what you are about, because this guy Nehlen isn't the only one in your past, now is he?
You also cotton to someone else named Hines. You took his endorsement. This is the guy who took the shot at Nikki Haley, saying our Sikh governor. By the way, she's not a Sikh.
This is the man who took a Confederate flag and marched down saying a statue of Arthur Ashe was offensive to his heritage. You backed him. You have never denied him. Why?
STEWART: You know, I don't agree with any of those things you said.
CUOMO: It's all true.
STEWART: Chris, what you're trying --
CUOMO: You're trying to deny your past but it's there like an ugly shadow.
STEWART: Chris, you're trying to change the topic. You’re always playing the race card.
CUOMO: No, just the facts.
STEWART: You’re always trying to divide --
CUOMO: That's you in front of a confederate flag taking his endorsement.
STEWART: By the way, your own father said anti-Semitic things. Did you condemn him?
CUOMO: Oh, please. My father is dead and buried and was ten times the man you'll ever be on your best day. So stay comparing yourself to the bigots that you cotton to.
STEWART: You never want to condemn to extremism on your own side of the aisle.
CUOMO: There is none on my side of the aisle.
CUOMO: My aisle is the truth. I am a journalist.
Was that a Confederate flag you were in front of taking that man's endorsement, yes or no?
STEWART: You know what? Let me tell you something.
CUOMO: Yes or no?
STEWART: You want to condemn everything that’s happened --
CUOMO: You can't even answer the question said.
STEWART: You want to condemn Southern heritage. You want to condemn everything. You want to pick on --
CUOMO: I don't want to condemn anything except hate.
STEWART: None of that helps.
CUOMO: OK, you tell me, how does a statue of Arthur Ashe offend your idea of Southern heritage?
STEWART: I never said it did.
CUOMO: Hines did and you never said he was wrong, did you?
STEWART: Chris, I don't agree with that statement.
CUOMO: Why did you never say that?
STEWART: How many times do I have to tell you what I believe?
CUOMO: Why didn’t you ever say it? So, condemn it right now.
CUOMO: Say Hines --
STEWART: And I just told you I don’t agree with any of that.
CUOMO: Say Hines --
STEWART: This is the guilt by association that the left always plays.
CUOMO: Of course, it is. You're in front of a Confederate flag, accepting the endorsement of a known hater. What are you talking about?
STEWART: You have never -- have you ever condemned Antifa?
CUOMO: Mr. Stewart --
STEWART: Answer the question, Chris.
CUOMO: -- whether I had or I hadn’t -- two big points of fact, one, that's irrelevant, and two, I’m not running for public office.
STEWART: Oh, it’s always irrelevant for me, but not for you.
CUOMO: Am I running for Senate in Virginia? Do I want people to accept me as their designated leader before Congress?
STEWART: You're trying to change the topic. The topic is the economy.
CUOMO: You're the topic. You're trying to change the topic and deny the facts.
STEWART: The topic is making the world safe in the Korean peninsula, and people are sick and tired of the far left like you and Tim Kaine always trying to change the topic.
CUOMO: I'll tell you what they’re sick off. You are the topic, my brother. You are the topic. And here's what you need to do. Here's my suggestion. You do with it what you will.
Own what and who you are. Obviously, the Trump team knows who you are and they like you. Don't run away from your past. Don't run away from the things you obviously embrace.
STEWART: You know, this is such a joke, even for CNN.
CUOMO: If you want to be intolerant and be a bigot and be in front of the Confederate flag --
STEWART: -- you are so far above what is honest. It’s unbelievable.
CUOMO: Why can't you be honest? Why can't you just say the truth?
STEWART: He ought to report you as --
CUOMO: You haven’t denied a single fact that I’ve suggested, Mr. Stewart, do you know that? Did you take his endorsement, Mr. Hines, yes or no, did you take it?
STEWART: I take support from whoever wants to give it to me. It doesn't mean I support their views. That does not mean I support their views.
CUOMO: Hold on. You think you can take the support of somebody --
STEWART: I do not want to have anything to do with anybody who is racist or bigoted or anti-Semitic.
CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on a second. Let's just unpack that.
STEWART: I’m the foremost expert on what I believe. I don't believe any of those things you're trying to accuse me of.
CUOMO: I want to repeat what you said. First of all, of course, there's guilt by association. Don't associate with known dirt bags and you won't be guilty of doing that, OK? That's your problem, not mine. You just said, I will accept the support --
STEWART: How come you haven't condemned Antifa? I don’t understand.
CUOMO: Hey, bigots, anti-Semites, white supremacists, that's a nice way of describing them.
But hold on, you said something, Mr. Stewart, I want the audience to hear this. Hold on.
CUOMO: Hold on a second.
STEWART: You're talking a lot.
CUOMO: I want the audience to hear what you said. I will accept the support of anyone, it doesn't mean I accept their views.
STEWART: You're not letting me talk, Chris. The Chris Cuomo show. You talk all the time.
CUOMO: That's why it's called the Cuomo show, because if you're not going to answer the questions, you don't get to just yammer on on this show.
STEWART: That's what you're doing.
CUOMO: All right? But I’m trying to get you to confront the facts.
STEWART: You don’t listen to your guest.
CUOMO: Hey, listen, I have listened to what you said. You can't deny a single fact.
STEWART: The Democratic Party nominated an anti-Semite in Virginia, how come? Last night --
STEWART: Last night, the Democratic Party nominated an anti-Semite in the fifth district congressional district in Virginia, and you're not even reporting that. Why is that?
CUOMO: Who? Who? What are you talking about?
STEWART: She was nominated last night.
CUOMO: I’m talking about you. I’m talking about you, Mr. Stewart.
STEWART: How come --
CUOMO: How does anybody else --
STEWART: We have an avowed anti-Semite Democrat --
CUOMO: There is no avowed anti-Semite anything except the one I may be speaking to right now.
STEWART: Check it out. Put that on your show tomorrow night, you might learn something.
CUOMO: Hey, look, I'll tell you what. I’m happy to look into that.
STEWART: -- from the left, and you’re not doing anything about them.
CUOMO: I’m happy to look into that, but I want you to answer questions for a change, all right? Don't blame me for being extreme left or being some anti --
STEWART: You are.
CUOMO: That's a joke.
STEWART: You don't deny that you're a leftist?
CUOMO: It's your attempt to deny the facts.
STEWART: I mean, this is the biggest joke I have heard in long time.
CUOMO: You think that's a big joke? Wait until what happens on Election Day if you don't own what you really are, because the only way that you have a chance of getting any kind of positive momentum is if you're truthful about who you are. The record is clear. The record is clear.
STEWART: Coming from CNN talking about truth, that's got to be a joke.
CUOMO: You tell me what I’ve said that is untrue. Did you call Nehlen --
STEWART: You have accused me of having anti-Semitic and bigoted remarks and I don't believe any of that.
CUOMO: Why have called Nehlen your hero?
STEWART: Why don’t you believe what I say what I mean?
CUOMO: Why did you call Nehlen your hero?
STEWART: I am not -- I -- he was complimented by a lot of people --
CUOMO: Why did you call him your hero?
STEWART: It was because he took on Paul Ryan and I don't support Paul Ryan.
CUOMO: What about his ugly views? It doesn't matter who he is or what he believes.
STEWART: He came out with his views -- how many times do we have to discuss this? Why would people watch your show, we're going around in a circle. I’ve already explained that.
CUOMO: We're going to keep going like a merry go round until it stops.
STEWART: You can do that if you want. I’m glad for the time. You're helping me with my name recognition. That's wonderful.
CUOMO: What did your name attach to? A known anti-Semite. A guy who says Arthur Ashe is offensive to his heritage.
STEWART: At the time that he was complemented by me and several others --
CUOMO: Put back up the timeline. Put back up the timeline --
STEWART: He was not.
CUOMO: Here's the timeline.
STEWART: He came up with those crazy ideas much later.
CUOMO: In 2016 --
STEWART: Those other comments that he may have made, I don’t know. I was certainly not aware of those at the time.
CUOMO: Oh, really?
STEWART: He's a personal hero of yours but you don't know what he's saying.
STEWART: -- everybody says who I met with? I mean, really? This is the guilt by association.
CUOMO: Yes, guilt by association, 100 percent. Guilt by association.
STEWART: You know, the left learned a lot from McCarthy. They're trying to, you know --
STEWART: That’s what you’re doing.
CUOMO: McCarthy was mild compared to the guys you're hanging out with, Corey Stewart.
CUOMO: The guy you just took an endorsement from --
STEWART: I do like you. You're a nice guy, but you're far left. And you're not fair.
CUOMO: Let's say I’m so far left that I’m almost right. How does it change any of the things I’m asking you about? You didn't rebut a single factual assertion tonight. You didn't --
STEWART: Yes. I just got done like four times.
CUOMO: -- condemn any of the things that you had previously said or done. Not one of them. And yet, the president of the United States thinks that you should be the senator for Virginia.
STEWART: You know something.
CUOMO: You agree with that, don't you?
STEWART: This -- when you're losing the argument, you know what you do? You know what the left does? They play the race card. They play the race card. We have a president --
CUOMO: You don't think that card applies? With the people that you hung out with, with a confederate flag waving around?
STEWART: The biggest tax cut since 1986. The economy is thriving.
STEWART: Unemployment is the lowest that it’s been since the early 1970s.
CUOMO: Would be nice if wages were rising as well.
STEWART: And what you want to talk about is what some guy who’s no longer relevant said several years ago. That’s what you want to talk about. Think about how much of a joke. We have peace breaking out on the Korean peninsula for the first time since 1950. And you're talking about what Paul Nehlen, a failed lunatic, said several years ago.
CUOMO: Because you called him your personal hero. You have a guy who worked on his staff working on your campaign right now. You’ve got one of his guys on your team and you took an endorsement from someone who says Arthur Ashe is disrespectful to his heritage.
STEWART: I don’t -- you know what?
CUOMO: Those are the facts.
STEWART: Look, all kinds of people come out and support my campaign. I don't go through the entire list. There's hundreds of people --
CUOMO: You know exactly who these people are. You walked in front of a Confederate flag to take his endorsement.
STEWART: Have you ever run a campaign? I don’t think you ever had.
CUOMO: Not one like yours. Listen --
STEWART: You don't go through the list and find -- and you don't do a background check on everybody who endorses your campaign.
CUOMO: You called him your personal hero. You’ve got a guy working for you that you know worked for Nehlen because he worked for you before he worked for Nehlen.
This is silly. This interview is done. Corey Stewart, I gave you a chance to own what you have done in the past. We'll see how the election goes for you.
STEWART: You're too much, Chris. Thanks, pal.
CUOMO: Listen, it's about the truth and owning what things are, especially when the president wants to get behind someone like you.
STEWART: It’s good entertainment on CNN, folks.
CUOMO: Well, entertaining to you. It's truth for the rest of us. Take care.
All right. Now, what do you see on the other side of the party from that? That which Trump is trying to cultivate. That's the guy he's backing in Virginia. Check it for yourself.
Check everything I said for yourself. It's all demonstrably true.