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President Is Making This Final Hours Blitz Before The Midterms; A Man Walks Into A Yoga Studio Wielding A Gun And Leaves Two Women Dead; One Of The Senate Races That Is Surprisingly Competitive, Tennessee; Trump's Midterm Strategy: White Identity Politics; Girl Scouts Killed On Roadside In Rural Wisconsin; String Of Anti-Semitic Incidents Occur Across The U.S.; First Shabbat Services Held Since Horrific Massacre; Tree Of Life Rabbi: Pittsburgh is Mourning And Hurting. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 3, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:14] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. It' is 8:00 eastern, 5:00 in the evening out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. So glad you could join me.
Here we are, just three days now until the midterms and what some are calling the biggest referendum on a President in recent memory.
President Trump is certainly campaigning like he feels the pressure, holding rallies in states where many midterm races are currently toss- ups. Right now, the President is in Florida, stumping for Republicans running for governor and a senate there. He has been amplifying his anti-immigration rhetoric to shore up his base. This as voters across the U.S. have just been swarming their early vote locations.
More than 27 million early ballots cast as of yesterday evening. And that number approaching the early votes in the 2016 Presidential election in some states.
Let's go live to Florida and CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez who is at the President's rally there in Pensacola.
Boris, what are you hearing from the President right now?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana.
Yes, a bit of a different start tonight for President Trump here in Pensacola. He started off speaking with the crowd by showing (ph) about criticism that he watched on television regarding his rallies, the criticism that he spends so much time talking about the caravan of migrants moving through Central America, moving through Mexico, headed to the U.S. border, attacking them, suggesting that they are part of an invasion, and not mothers and children seeking refuge from political and economic turmoil in Central America. And that he doesn't spend enough time talking about the roaring economy. So he started out here purely by talking about the economy, going deep into positive jobs numbers and how that could help Floridians here in the panhandle who have been negatively affected by hurricane Michael.
The President also noted saying that - noted that he believed that Democrats would take a wrecking ball to that economy. And (INAUDIBLE) that Democrats runs in the crucial elections here in the state including the race for governor, the race for senate. They would essentially turn Florida into Venezuela.
Now the President has not gone that deep into immigration yet. But I can tell you that earlier in the evening that was one of the loudest applause lines we heard when Representative Matt Gaetz took the stage saying that President Trump will turn the caravan around.
We are still waiting to hear more. And whether he will welcome including Governor Rick Scott and the candidate for Senate top the stage and current representative and candidate for governor, Ron Desantis as well. They are both here on. And we will see if they speak and bring you any news coming from this event, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. We will keep in touch with you, Boris. Thank you very much.
The President is making this final hours blitz before the midterms at a time when more people in this country are voting earlier than in some case ever before, record numbers of people flooding polling places in some states.
Let's bring in CNN political commentator Joan Walsh. She also covers national affairs for "the Nation." And also with us, Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator and former Republican congressman from Georgia.
And I want both of you to listen to this. I spoke to our politics digital director, Zachary Wolf, earlier about this surge in early voting. And this is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I think if you look in Texas, certainly, you know, the Beto O'Rourke campaign would be very excited to see the number of young voters rising, and the same in Georgia, and the governor's race there, and you know, potentially in Florida.
But, you know, it's really hard to extrapolate exactly what this means. They are far and away above the last midterm election but they are not too much above and probably below the presidential election. And that most recent presidential election, of course, Texas and Florida, you know, didn't exactly go towards the Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So Zach advises not to get too excited about the early vote turnout. Are either of you particularly excited to see this record- breaking turnout before Election Day, Joan?
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm always excited to see turnout, Ana. I mean, I think it's a big deal, especially the millenial turnout. It's up by about 400 percent in all three states, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Having said that, you know, Zach is right. Sometimes Democrats bank
those early votes and then they get outperformed on Election Day. So neither side can sleep. These three states are incredibly tight. They are basically deadlocked.
CABRERA: Jack, you spent more than two decades as a Republican congressman there in Georgia. You won a lot of elections in that state. And in Georgia right now, the early vote turnout nearly mirrors the 2016 presidential election, that's incredible of course for a midterm. The early vote among young people in particular, look at these numbers, up five times this time around compared to the 2014 midterm.
Jack, you know how to win in this state. Read the tea leaves for us. Who does this benefit in that closely watched race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams?
[20:05:00] JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think there's going to be a split. And I do agree with Joan. You can't really get ahead of what it means. I think a lot of people just like to vote early and they find it works for them. So both parties are going to get a little bounce early. But then you don't know until Election Day.
I can say this, that Brian Kemp in Georgia has made 30 stops around the state in the last six days. I was with him and vice president Pence in Savannah, Georgia on Thursday. The crowds were electric, they were standing room only lines. The President is going to be making Georgia this weekend. He is going to be there tomorrow. And there have already people camping out to see him.
You know, Brian Kemp is kind of a home-grown guy. His opponent is funded 67 percent with out of state money. And I think in Georgia, we still like that we are voting for one of our own and we don't have people from California, New York, dictating who should be our next governor.
WALSH: Thanks, Jack, but Stacey Abrams was a valedictorian of her class in Georgia. She actually went to the governor's mansion back in 1991. So she has been there for a long time. She is homegrown. She is a real Georgia person. She has got real Georgia person.
KINGSTON: Well, she is really not. If she has, she could raise money. She had 67 percent of money --
WALSH: She has raised a ton of money in Georgia, but she is very lucky to get money from out of state, you are right.
CABRERA: Jack, hold on. Jack - go ahead, Joan. Jack, we listened to you, let Joan respond.
WALSH: I mean, Jack, congratulations. Your state is now second to California in the amount of film industry money that it gets. And Stacey Abrams benefits from that because people are very afraid that Brian Kemp is going to pass a religious freedom reformation act and really kill the film industry in Georgia. So yes, she is getting - she is benefiting from that. There's no doubt about it.
KINGSTON: There's no doubt about it, I guess you agree that 67 percent of her money --
WALSH: I'm not that's what it is. I know it's a lot but I'm not sure that's true.
CABRERA: Jack, I actually want to broaden the conversation though outside of Georgia because that's one of the raises, right, that we are all watching. A lot of people are focused on that one. But this is a midterm election across the country. And the President certainly isn't just spending his time in Georgia. He is in Florida. He was in Montana earlier.
He is really though been disciplined in his messaging on immigration despite the fact that the economy is roaring right now. A quarter million jobs added in October, unemployment at 3.7 percent. Instead this has largely been his message, hammering immigration issues, and that caravan. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These people were vicious. And they broke through into Mexico, throwing rocks and stones. This is the second caravan which is made up of some very tough young people. Very tough. Criminals in some cases. In many cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So my question to you, Jack, is given the economic news would be good all across the board, instead he is going negative. And I wonder if that extreme message on immigration might actually hurt some Republicans, maybe people like Senator Dean Heller in Nevada or Congressman Carlos Curbelo in Florida, places where Hillary Clinton won.
KINGSTON: You know, Ana, it's a very good question. And I can say none of us can ever accurately second-guess the President when it comes to messaging. You know, you got -- well, what are you talking about that instead of this for? And it turns out he was right, talking about it.
But I would agree with you, my conventional thinking would be you need to talk about the 250,000 new jobs that were added to the payrolls just in October. He should be talking about the 3.7 percent unemployment rate and the 3.1 percent rise in wages.
And I think somebody like Carlos Curbelo and Will Hurd in Texas and Pete Sessions and John Carter, some of the ones that who are in these tough races, they are triangulating, they are showing some independence. They are going to be talking about the economy. I know Carlos Curbelo has actually been in disagreement with the President on immigration. And I think that's the key to some of these races, is to show a little bit of independence.
CABRERA: Joan, do you think Democrats will benefit on Election Day from this extreme talk?
WALSH: I do think they will. I mean, obviously, the Senate map is bad for Democrats. There are just so many states where senators, Democrats are up, that President Trump won. So that's tough. But when it comes to the house, as Jack well knows, the suburban women are in revolt. They are running away from the Republican Party.
In Georgia, the Georgia sixth district, Lucy McBath is giving Karen Handel a run for her money. That race is deadlocked, and that should not even be true. But Georgia sixth is where you saw the beginning of the resistance when Jon Ossoff ran in 2017.
And so you are seeing that in Virginia, you are seeing it all across the country, that the President is driving away suburban women, some of them former Republicans, some of them independents. And then scaring real Democrats to the polls. So that's not good for Republicans.
[20:10:13] CABRERA: Joan Walsh, Jack Kingston. I'll give you the last word, Jack. Make it quick.
KINGSTON: Karen Handel is going to win. I think Barbara Comstock is going to win. She is a woman who has shown a lot of independence. Has led on the Me Too movement. And I think we have a lot of tough women candidates who are going to break the mold.
WALSH: I disagree.
CABRERA: I figured you would, Joan. I will say, I went to Barbara Comstock's district and talked to some of those suburban women that you are referencing, Joan, and it was interesting to hear. We brought our viewers there earlier.
WALSH: I saw that, yes.
CABRERA: But there are people that aren't liking the rhetoric in particular that seems to be one of the big turnoffs, and they are not focused on immigration there. Their big issues had to do with gun control and health care and the economy as well.
All right, Joan Walsh, Jack Kingston, I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.
Elsewhere in Florida, unfortunately we are talking tragedy again, after a man walks into a yoga studio wielding a gun and leaves two women dead. What police are now revealing about the gunman.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:15:20] CABRERA: Police in Tallahassee, Florida, are still working to draw any connection between a man who opened fire in a yoga studio Friday night and the people he killed and wounded.
Now "the New York Times" is reporting the suspected gunman posted several videos online that were full of awful racist and misogynistic language. Police say, the gunman killed two women, wounded five others, and then killed himself.
CNN's national correspondent Dianne Gallagher is learning more details for us.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, a college student and a doctor, both associated with the Florida State University family, just practicing yoga on a Friday night, not far from the campus.
61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem. She is an internist and chief medical director at capital health plan and was part of the FSU faculty, according to the President.
21-year-old Maura Binkley, an FSU student in English and German, a double major who studied abroad according to the student newspaper just this past summer in Germany. Her fraternity, Tridelta, the President said that Maura embodied the Tridelta woman, brave, bold, and kind.
And that bravery, police say, the people in that room, they established and they acted on before the gunman turned the gun on himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MICHAEL DELEO, TALLAHASSEE POLICE: There are indications that several people inside fought back and tried to not only save themselves but other people, which is a testament to the courage of the people who don't just turn and run. The strength of our community, the spirit of our community, they were trying to help and save others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Now, there were four other people who were shot. One of those women remains in the hospital. According to the mayor, she had been shot nine times.
Another person was pistol whipped there in the yoga studio. As far as the suspect, we know he is 40 years old and he served in the U.S. army. According to Florida State, he also attended the university some time ago. And Tallahassee police had had several calls dealing with him harassing young women there in the past. But he doesn't live in Tallahassee. He actually lives in Deltona, which is about four hours away. Police say that he had a hotel room in Tallahassee. He drove there in a red car.
And at this point, Ana, they are going through his social media, electronics, and his home in Deltona to try and figure out what the connection is between him and that yoga studio. And of course those victims who were slain and injured during the shooting.
CABRERA: Just awful. Dianne Gallagher, thank you for that.
Some sad news just into CNN, Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden, Utah, was killed this morning in Afghanistan. Taylor had temporarily stepped down as mayor to deploy to Afghanistan with the Utah army National Guard. And initial reports indicate Taylor was killed by a member of the Afghan national defense and security forces. Officials say the attacker was immediately killed by other Afghan forces.
Now, the lieutenant governor of Utah released a statement reading in part, "I hate this. I'm struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor. His amazing wife Jenny and seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family."
In deep red Tennessee, an unexpected Senate race. Why Trump-backed Masha Blackburn is getting a run for her money from a conservative Democrat.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:23:26] CABRERA: Welcome back.
The GOP majority in the Senate is just two seats right now. And Republicans led by President Trump are in a scramble this weekend to keep it that way or maybe even add onto it. One of the Senate races that is surprisingly competitive, Tennessee.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Knoxville.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as the new CNN poll shows a slight Republican lead, with less than a week to go, Tennessee's Senate race is still remarkably close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Phil Bredesen, how are you?
SAVIDGE: And how does a Democrat manage to be so competitive in a conservative state where President Trump won 60 percent of the vote?
Phil Bredesen is not your typical Democrat, widely known and popular as mayor of Nashville. He has credited with bringing professional sports teams to town. As a two-term governor, he sent National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody's going to tell me how to vote.
SAVIDGE: He has rejected national Democratic leadership, says he agrees with President Trump on some things and pledges to do what's best for Tennessee, not the Democratic Party.
PHIL BREDESEN (D), SENATE CANDIDATE: I think if you ask people for characteristics about me, they will say moderate. But they'll also say, he gets things done, and that's what's really letting me be competitive in a state like this.
SAVIDGE: His centrist message has turned what should have been an easy victory for Republican Marsha Blackburn into a struggle. Blackburn is a fiery conservative who has served in Congress since 2003. She is not as popular as Bredesen but knows someone who is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love the President in Tennessee.
[20:25:04] SAVIDGE: Blackburn's a staunch Trump supporter. The President has twice come to Tennessee to campaign on her behalf and he will be back this weekend. Blackburn's campaign has largely adopted the Trump playbook. Just this week, as the President railed against the caravan of Central American migrants headed for the U.S., Blackburn put the issue front and center in her own campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gang members, terrorists, people from the Middle East, possibly even terrorists.
SAVIDGE: We reached out multiple times to Blackburn campaign for an interview but never got a response. Some political watchers suggests Blackburn is relying too heavily on Trump voters.
TOM INGRAM, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Trump is still very popular in this state. But I'm not sure that it's a good assumption that every Trump voter is a very conservative or even Republican voter.
SAVIDGE: Being too Trump could turn off independents and moderate Republicans. Voters Blackburn still needs. We found several Republicans who say they voted for Bredesen.
HEATHER LYNCH, REPUBLICAN CROSSOVER VOTER: He follows the issues I'm interested in. And he much more aligns with my beliefs. And I don't see that from the other candidates.
SAVIDGE: He's an unabashed moderate, centrist, right down the middle. Does that appeal to you?
JIM TUERFF, REPUBLICAN CROSSOVER VOTER: You bet it does. We need more of them.
SAVIDGE: David Belew is a pharmacist as well as a Republican.
DAVID BELEW, REPUBLICAN VOTER: This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make.
SAVIDGE: He is a fan of Trump's economy but worries about losing control of the Senate. He just couldn't vote Democrat.
BELEW: It's an extremely close race. I believe in the end Blackburn will take this race. That's my gut feeling, anyway.
SAVIDGE: Ultimately, for Tennessee voters in today's polarized political climate, how they vote may hinge on what matters more, a chance for moderation or party loyalty.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Knoxville, Tennessee.
CABRERA: As Tuesday's midterm election approaches quickly now, Trump's closing argument to his rural white base has increasingly been about identity politics. From rallies in West Virginia to Indiana to Missouri to Montana, Trump has played up race with a simple warning. Bad Hispanic people are heading their way and must be stopped.
I want to discuss this with Sarah Smarsh. She is the author of "Heartland: a daughter of the working class reconciles an American divide."
Sarah, I'm glad to have you with us. In your book, you dig deep into the key demographic that helped put Trump into the White House. What is it about the Trump -- his closing midterm message on immigration that is resonating with voters in this part of the country?
SARAH SMARSH, AUTHOR, HARTLAND; A DAUGHTER OF THE WORKING CLASS RECONCILES AN AMERICAN DIVIDE: Well, first, I would caution and say we don't know to what extent it is resonating indeed until the election. But as far as that demographic shift to the right that we saw in 2016, you know, Trump is definitely tapping into a kind of intersection of economic disadvantage and racial privilege which is what the term "white working class" encompasses.
And so, within that group, an economic anxiety can be artfully manipulated toward xenophobia and racism. And of course Trump has had some success doing so. But I would add not just with that group. White people, at every economic rung, voted for Trump at the same rate. There is some delineation along rural/urban lines. But I honestly see this as a whiteness problem, not so much as a rural or poor white problem.
CABRERA: So you think race actually has a lot to do with it?
SMARSH: Absolutely. You know, it's pretty clear when we see - when we look at how non-white voters came out in recent elections, it's pretty clear that's the delineating factor. And of course many of those folks are struggling economically as well. And so, you know, Trump absolutely knows what he is doing when he is race-baiting and using this kind of language.
You know, I want to add, though, being born to the white working class and a native of rural Kansas, that it's not a racial or a political monolith in those places. Often when my home is portrayed, it's as though it's entirely white conservatives and especially male ones. And in fact it is a politically and racially diverse place just like any other group. But these are -- this is an important crisis we are examining right now, essentially that place and that class being targeted with hateful language. And it is succeeding in some corners. But I would caution at making any sweeping generalizations that everyone is buying into it.
CABRERA: When you look at that race for Senate in Tennessee where Martin was just reporting, why do you think the Democrat is competitive in that ruby red state, especially when the Republican Marsha Blackburn has really tied herself to Trump, and he won big there? SMARSH: Yes. Well, we're seeing that on the ground here in my home
state of Kansas as well. We have a neck and neck gubernatorial race between Republican Kris Kobach and Democrat Laura Kelly and a couple of our Congressional districts. It's a neck and neck race, within some cases very progressive Democratic candidates.
And I think that the reason is this is -- we're in a moment as a country in which so many people are at wit's end in economic and cultural ways that they are -- they're seeking change. And, you know, when we talk about populism, often in the last couple of years we conflate that term with conservatism.
But actually, populism is just a vessel for a movement on the ground among the people. And there is a leftist version of that. And it was actually strong in places like Kansas during the primaries for the 2016 presidential election. More people in raw numbers caucused for Bernie Sanders than for Donald Trump here in Kansas.
Of course the general election then looked quite different. But ultimately, what we're seeing right now is a hunger for change and sometimes a very progressive message. It might confound folks to know, but it's true, speaks to the very same people who might have voted for Donald Trump.
CABRERA: Right, because change was a big motivator for some of those voters as well.
In Tennessee, in Florida, CNN did a recent poll just this week and it turned out health care is the number one issue for voters according to CNN's most recent polling at least in those two states. We know it ranks up there as well in other parts of the country. We do know that the moves by this current administration and Republicans in Congress to dismantle Obamacare could hurt people with preexisting conditions. Does this move the needle with the white working class?
SMARSH: I think absolutely it does. In places like Kansas, where Medicaid expansion was denied by our conservative state government, you know, people are hurting in very direct ways, and often very physical and even mortal ways, that are -- you know, cause people, I think, to maybe transcend some of their -- the social issues that might have guided their votes in the past, when it comes down to vote survival.
So the -- my family and the folks I know and love largely are uninsured. And, yes, there's no more primal concern than one's own health and the health of their children. And I think it's going to be a big factor, now that we're seeing a few years into the ACA, the results of lack of Medicaid expansion. And, yes, I think that is number one.
CABRERA: Tax cut, Supreme Court, the rollback of regulations, do those Trump victories resonate in rural America or is Trump's strength really the culture war?
SMARSH: You know, I always hesitate to speak for an entire group. And I count myself as apolitical progressive, but I am from rural America and I understand aspects of the culture. And I think that what Trump really taps into is just a sense of isolation from power. The irony, of course, being that he was born into the height of privilege.
But he does leverage that message to at least validate and recognize people's sense of disenfranchisement and distance from the power centers of this country. And so I think that that plays into these culture wars that you're discussing more so than the specific victories as far as the Supreme Court and stuff.
CABRERA: Sarah Smarsh, good to have your perspective. Thank you for sharing some of your research with us as well. We appreciate it.
SMARSH: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: And this programming note, tune in for a special pre- election edition of "CNN Prime Time" tomorrow night starting with "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Followed by "CUOMO PRIME TIME" and "CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON." That's tomorrow starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't go anywhere.
[20:35:28] CABRERA: We're just three days away from a huge midterm election. And the issue of voter suppression looms large with accusations by some candidates that citizens in places like North Dakota or Georgia, for example, are being deterred from voting by state laws.
Do some laws keep eligible voters from making their votes count?
Tonight, CNN airs a special report looking at voter suppression and its impact. CNN's Kyung Lah reports on what happened in Wisconsin in the 2016 election.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is there a leader of the voter suppression movement in the state?
ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE: Scott Walker and all of the Republican officials there. They've all been in on this.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Thank you on behalf of the people of the great state of Wisconsin.
LAH: Since taking power, Governor Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers have chipped away at voting rights in Wisconsin.
In 2011, citing a need to prevent voter fraud, Walker enacted the state's restrictive voter I.D. law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's probably one of the strictest voter I.D. laws in the country. It requires a voter to show one of a small set of I.D.'s. Has to have a photo, has to have a signature, has to meet expiration date requirements. 2016 was the first big general election where the voter I.D. law was in effect.
LAH: In the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout was down statewide. But the decline in Milwaukee's poorest minority neighborhoods was jaw-dropping.
[20:40:01] NEIL ALBRECHT, ELECTION COMMISSIONER, MILWAUKEE: We lost 41,000 voters in the city. We saw a near 20 percent decrease in voter participation from 2012 to 2016. I have no doubt that there were people in the city of Milwaukee who didn't vote in that election because of the photo I.D. requirement.
ANDREW ANTHONY, MILWAUKEE RESIDENT: I feel like they really, really knew that the turnout in this election would not have been the same, because a lot of people would not have their I.D.'s.
LAH: Andrea Anthony was one of the thousands of Milwaukee residents who was unable to cast a ballot in 2016.
ANTHONY: The right to vote is so important to me because it makes my little voice a bigger one.
LAH: Andrea had lost her driver's license but brought her expired Wisconsin I.D. to the poll instead. For this election, that wasn't enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you go and vote in Wisconsin, you don't have one of the I.D.'s listed on that very limited list, you are given what's called a provisional ballot. And that's a ballot that will only count if you present one of those I.D.'s to your clerk by Friday at 4:00.
LAH: Between juggling two jobs and caring for her children and grandchildren, needless to say, Andrea never made it to city hall. So for the first time in her life, she says, her vote wasn't counted. Andrea was planning to vote against Trump.
ANTHONY: I feel in a way like I -- and I know I'm probably putting too much on my shoulders, but I feel like maybe if I did follow through with it, it could have made a difference.
CABRERA: A hard hitting and emotional issue. One of the reporters you just saw in that report, Ari Berman, senior reporter for Mother Jones Magazine, is joining us now. His reporting uncovered voter suppression in the 2016 election. He is the author of the book "Give us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America."
Ari, great to have you here with us.
BERMAN: Good to see you, Ana.
CABRERA: Obviously someone who has extensively covered this issue of voter suppression. I'm wondering, what keeps you up at night as you look ahead in three days to the midterm election?
BERMAN: Well, there's so many barriers that voters are facing now. Twenty-four states, so nearly half the country have some sort of new restriction on voting in place in 2018, whether it's a new voter I.D. law or a cutback on early voting or making it more difficult to register to vote.
So we're seeing this all across the country. We're seeing it in places like Georgia, in North Dakota, in Kansas, in Ohio. So it's not in one state that keeps me up at night. It's all of these states that are keeping me up at night.
And really wondering, is everyone who wants to vote going to be able to participate? That's what I'm most concerned about.
CABRERA: And how will you know the answer to that question? If you are looking at the results on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, what will you be looking for?
BERMAN: We might not know everything on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. But I think we're going to be looking at very close races, whether it's a governor's race in Georgia or in Kansas or whether it's a Senate race in North Dakota.
If these races are really close, and if there are new restrictions on voting and also reports of problems at the polls, we're going to be asking the question as journalists, did these restrictions on voting have an impact, were people who tried to vote, were they not able to vote, and were other people dissuaded from showing up in the first place. That's what we saw in Wisconsin in 2016. I'm concerned that history might repeat itself in 2018.
CABRERA: Ari Berman, good information. Thank you so much for helping us explain this issue to our viewers and shedding some light on an issue that I know you're passionate about, that's so important for all of us as citizens.
BERMAN: Thank you so much, Ana.
CABRERA: Good to have you with us. Tune in at 9:00 tonight for the CNN special report, "Democracy in Peril: The War on Voting Rights," here on CNN.
[20:45:29] CABRERA: This just in to CNN, details of a horrific accident in northern Wisconsin. And several people, most of them children, are dead. Police say a Girl Scout troop was picking up trash along this highway in rural Chippewa County, Wisconsin, when a man driving a pickup truck left the road and ran into the girls.
Three of the girl scouts are dead as well one of their adult leaders. A fourth girl is in the hospital in critical condition. Police say the driver of that truck initially fled the scene but then later turned himself in. Again, three girl scouts and one adult Girl Scout leader are all dead after a hit and run accident in Wisconsin. We'll, of course, update you with more information as we get it here at CNN.
In the meantime, in New York, a 26-year-old man is now charged with hate crimes in connection with anti-Semitic messages found in a Brooklyn synagogue. The suspect, James Polite, is currently undergoing an evaluation at a hospital.
The graffiti was found on four floors of the Union Temple Thursday night. The message is written in black marker, included violent threats and Hitler references. This latest incident is part of a string of anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Swastikas have appeared in at least a handful of cities, in Brooklyn, in Bucks County, near Philadelphia, and in Rochester, New York. Also in Irvine, California, an anti-Semitic message was spray painted on a synagogue early Wednesday morning.
Now, all of these attacks come just days after 11 people were gunned down in an anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
[20:50:00] This morning, a week after that horrific massacre, the Tree of Life community held its first Shabbat services since the shooting.
And then last night, more than 1,200 people of various faiths came together for a public service to show solidarity and support.
Also yesterday a visitation and funeral service was held for 97-year- old Rose Mallinger. She was the last of the 11 victims from that shooting to be buried.
And CNN's Alisyn Camerota spoke to Tree of Life rabbi Jeffrey Myers about the anger he has and the fear his community is feeling.
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: These just showed up. We didn't put them here. They just showed up.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: These, they just showed up and these are the names of the victims.
MYERS: These are all the names of the victims and it just showed up. And this is just an outpouring of love.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.
MYERS: From countless people. I'm floored by the love. I don't know where the tents came from. These weren't here yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Is that right?
MYERS: This is -- the rain is coming in. Somebody brought in tents. This is amazing. CAMEROTA: To shelter all of these stars.
MYERS: This was not done by the synagogue. We didn't do this. The community did this. I'm just amazed. Amazed.
CAMEROTA: And so, what is it like for you to walk around here just six days after you ran for your life from this building?
MYERS: It was painful. It still is. It's painful. I mean, I know it's part of the grieving process. But, you know, I'm a witness, I'm a victim, and I'm a survivor, and I'm also a pastor, but I'm also a human. And I stand here and I'm in pain.
CAMEROTA: Are you scared when you see this building?
MYERS: No, I'm not scared. I'm angry. How dare you defile our holy space? What made you think you could ever do that? How would you feel if someone did that to your mother's house of worship? How would you feel? And that's -- those are questions he's going to have to deal with.
CAMEROTA: But you sense anxiety and fear from the community.
MYERS: Yes, yes, they're afraid.
CAMEROTA: They're afraid this is going to happen again?
CAMEROTA: You know, you've been so stoical on national T.V. and you have given your message of love and to tone down the hate. But I just wonder, do you have moments where you break down? Or are you still on adrenaline?
MYERS: A good perfect example, the last funeral today, it was the last one, we were -- I appreciate the fact that outside -- there's a side there with a contemplating garden.
I just sat down there and cried like a baby. I couldn't stop. I thought the procession was waiting for me. I couldn't stop. It just came out. Couldn't stop. Because I haven't held it in me non-stop, but, you know, this was the last funeral. And every time I do one, particularly for me, because I'm also a canter. When I check the memorial prayer, it takes a piece of my soul away. And I have no more left to give. My tank's empty.
CAMEROTA: And so what do you say to your congregants, who say, why? How does this happen? Why? How does God let this happened?
MYERS: I don't believe God lets this stuff happen. Humans have a choice and this person made this choice. To me, God is the one I turn to when I have no strength to say, God, give me strength to get through this. And that's what I do. Every moment of every day, give me strength. And somehow, God does.
CAMEROTA: And all of these people who have lined up here, why are they here? I mean, what do you think they are coming here to do?
MYERS: The community is just mourning. This is Pittsburgh, and this is what Pittsburgh is. We're one community. And Pittsburgh is hurting, and we're here to mourn. And this is what Pittsburgh is about. That's what makes Pittsburgh such a special place.
CAMEROTA: So, are you ever going to go back into this building?
MYERS: Yes, we're going to do whatever's the necessary work. We have to redo our sanctuary. We have to set and figure out how and what that means and what's the best choice in terms of what to do, which was sit and spend the time and plan properly and we will rebuild in whatever way we need to and we'll be back.
CAMEROTA: Seeing those gun bullet holes through the door, through the glass door, that's really chilling.
MYERS: It is, it is. I've walked through the sanctuary. It's a horror. It's worse than any sci-fi film. Because it's real. It's not phony Hollywood. I never think I'd live to see that horror in my life. Because I've faced anti-Semitism before. I've faced it growing up as a kid. So I never thought I'd see the horror of this ever, ever.
[20:55:02] CAMEROTA: Just show me here what stands out to you. Show me when you come here to look at this outpouring of the community.
MYERS: It's the sheer immensity of love. It gives me hope because it reminds me. There are so many good people. And this gives me strength to say, hate will never win.
CABRERA: More golds for American gymnast, Simone Biles. She won the women's floor exercise at the world championships in Qatar. One of six medals she'll take home from this competition. Not bad, especially considering she spent time in the hospital right before this all started.
Biles extends her own record for the most world titles for any gymnast in history, female or male.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.
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