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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
America Votes in Midterms with High Stakes Races and Big Names Campaigning; Georgia Secretary of State's Office Launches Probe Against Democratic Party; Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz in Final Campaign Push in Texas; President Trump Stokes Fears of Invasion Ahead of Midterms; Tracking Close Races Across the Country; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 4, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:25] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome back. By this time Tuesday night we could be looking at a very different political landscape. Voters will have spoken perhaps to give President Trump some real opposition in the House by flipping, well, the House or perhaps both chambers of Congress, although unlikely in the Senate. Perhaps to embolden him by leaving Congress, all of it in Republican hands.
Either outcome could have profound consequences. It's why all eyes, including ours tonight, are on this election. I want to start things off the map with our chief national correspondent John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the final Sunday and the maps and the math tell us we could well have a split election. What do I mean by that? The president, a drag on his party when it comes to this map, the fight for control of the House, yet an asset to Republicans when it comes -- we'll get to the map in a minute -- in the fight for the control of the Senate.
But let's start with the House. Our rankings here 207 seats now solid likely and leaning to the Democrats. That leaves them just 11 shy if that holds up of a majority. Republicans in a weaker position as we head into the election. Why? Look at the tossups. 31 tossup in all. What jumps out at you, it is stunning. Of the tossup races 30 of the 31 currently held by Republicans. So a giant basket of opportunity for the Democrats as they try to get those final seats they need to get to a majority.
Here's why they're confident. On election night watch New York and New England, the northeast first come in. Democrats think they can get at least a third of the way to the 23 seats they need right here, by flipping Republican seats in the northeast. Then we'll move down and you have Pennsylvania, Virginia, down through the mid-Atlantic. Again, the Democrats think four, five, maybe even more just in Pennsylvania.
Virginia will be a huge test. Do they get just one in the northern Virginia suburbs, or do they get a second or a third by flipping these tossup seats? Watch that on election night. Another huge target of opportunity for the Democrats they think out in the Midwest. You see a lot of tossup states. We've already moved some Republican seats toward the Democrats. What do these districts have in common? The tossup states most of them touch the suburbs, so if you take the regions I just showed you and then you look at the numbers, you see why Democrats are confident.
In the northeast the president's numbers are in the tank, 67 percent in this NPR-Marist poll disapprove of the president in the northeast. In the Midwest they're not so bad but the president is the still underwater so Democrats think it's an opportunity. Let me add this one in just to show you. Those districts touch the suburbs. In the American suburbs six in 10 voters disapprove of how the president is doing his job. So take the suburbs, take those regions and Democrats think when you look at this map the president is a drag, and they can get to a House majority.
That's what makes this so striking when you move to the fight for control of the Senate. This has always been advantage Republican because 10 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election in states the president carried in 2016, some of them quite handily, so we have it at 49-45. Can the Democrats get a Senate majority? They can if they don't change anything else on this map. They would have to sweep the tossups, though.
The Democrats would have to come into this race and sweep every single one of these tossups on the board. Is that possible? Yes, it's possible. But the Democrats are on defense when it comes to the Senate map. Imagine this scenario. The Republicans would have to only win Tennessee where Marsha Blackburn is ahead in the late polls. If they only won Tennessee of the six tossups, 50-50 the vice president would break the tie.
So yes, it's possible for the Democrats, but this is a very tough hill to climb and there's a reason for that. Let's take a look at the numbers here. If you look at the big Senate battleground states, statewide contests, not local House races, the president's numbers are actually going up, in Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Tennessee. This is CNN polling. These aren't great. The president's approval rating under 50 in all but Tennessee. Not great but better than the national average.
And look, late in the campaign, the president's approval rating heading in the right direction for him, up. So you look at this map. The president is an asset, Republicans are quite confident they can keep control of the Senate and maybe even add a seat or two, but when you look at the House map, the president is a drag and the Democrats believe come Wednesday they will know that come January they will run the House -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. John King. John, thanks very much.
Both President Trump and former President Obama had a full day of campaigning. President Trump spoke in Macon, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Obama took the stage in Chicago and Gary, Indiana. As you know, he's been far more combative these last few days than perhaps he's been in the past. Here he is taking a poke at some of President Trump's former top advisers and their records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So now they've had two years of total control in Washington. What have they done with that power? No, no, no. It's not true they haven't done nothing. They've done something. They have promised they were going to take on corruption in Washington.
[20:05:03] Instead they have racked up enough indictments to fill a football team.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Nobody in my administration got indicted. Which by the way is not that high a bar. I mean --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Want to bring in even more political big guns with zero indictments between them, I can I happily say, David Chalian, Nia- Malika Henderson, David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Van Jones, Jennifer Granholm, Rick Santorum, David Urban.
I almost got a speeding ticket that one time.
COOPER: Well, the police officer was very nice.
David, what do you make of -- I mean, the President Obama you see there, are you surprised to see him kind of out as I don't know if aggressively is the right word but energetically?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, he -- he has been under pressure for a long time. A lot of people wanted him out there. His feeling was, A, other Democrats have to step up and that he sucks all the oxygen out of the tank when he tries to assume that mantle. B, that he didn't want to be in a long term kind of back and forth with Trump, but now that we're here I think that his belief is that voter mobilization is the key and that he can be helpful in some of these close races by spurring people to the polls.
I think that's why Joe Donnelly wanted him over in Lake County, in Gary, today to campaign, and so I -- I feel like he is answering the call and trying to balance, you know, prudence with his responsibilities as a party leader.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, one of the things when he was president, I wanted him to go out there and be that big movement leader, and he said he didn't want to do that. He wanted to be in D.C. and govern, and a lot of, you know, hope and change like myself wanted him out there doing what Trump was doing and he didn't think that was right. I think now to see Trump out there doing that is frustrating for Democrats. It's just so good to see Obama out there. In other words, the idea that when you're the president, you are no longer a movement leader. You are the commander-in-chief. You are head of state and you have a responsibility.
That was Obama's position despite pressure from us. To see Trump say, screw it. Let's just go out there and have a good time all the time I think, you know, is a very different conception of the presidency and I think it's good that we now at least get a chance to have that parity on the rallies.
AXELROD: Well, I think there's no doubt that Trump relishes these opportunities. I think --
JONES: He's a movement leader --
AXELROD: I really think he enjoys the rallies more than he enjoys sitting behind that desk and making decisions.
JONES: Sure seems like it.
AXELROD: Obama was the opposite, but now he doesn't have the responsibility to sit behind that desk, and I actually -- it looks to me like he's enjoying.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Did you hear what Donald Trump I think was it today or yesterday said that his rallies are bigger than Obama's rallies?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right.
BORGER: The crowds. Yes. But don't forget Joe Biden also. Joe Biden has been out there, too.
COOPER: I mean, is Tuesday -- does it boil down to a referendum on the president?
GRANHOLM: He insists that it does so I think we should take him at his word.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And so to David's earlier point though, when you hear the president out there saying what have they done for the past two years, I mean, I can read you a laundry list of things that this administration has accomplished which they are not talking about. That's the point. That's the point that David made earlier about, you know, when you shout from the rooftops about the caravan, you don't talk about all the other -- the laundry list of items that you've accomplished, you know. I think that opportunity gives this administration a chance to go out and talk about those things.
COOPER: I want to play something that President Trump said just about that. He said this yesterday I think in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the fake news was saying I was watching. Why doesn't he talk about the economy? Why does he talk about immigration and what's coming up with the caravan? Why does he talk about the caravan when he's got maybe the best numbers on the economy in the history of our country? And we can talk about the economy, but the fact is we know how well we're doing with the economy and we have to solve problems. I'm looking to solve problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
URBAN: I'd say keep talking about the economy, OK.
COOPER: I think technically he now has labeled you part of the fake news.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I would say it, too, but here's what I'd also say. I'm sitting here, and he's president of the United States, and the reality is this guy has had an uncanny ability to hear what the American public wants him to talk about.
SANTORUM: And --
GRANHOLM: Or at least we hear what his base wants.
SANTORUM: No. It's not just his base. He won. Everybody talks about his base. He won, OK. Let's get over the fact that he won.
URBAN: But the midterms is threading a different kind of needle I think a little bit.
[20:10:01] SANTORUM: Well -- but the point is, can he get the people who turned out for him two years ago who maybe -- you know, Van and I were talking about this earlier, who probably don't vote in midterm elections. Can he get them out by saying that? And if he can, I guarantee you pollsters are not polling those folks.
COOPER: David --
SANTORUM: They don't think they're coming out.
COOPER: When you say midterms are threading a different kind of needle --
URBAN: So -- no, to David's earlier point, again, I hate giving him all this credit, right? But when you --
AXELROD: You're ruining my reputation.
URBAN: Exactly. I just gave Van credit. I know. But when you motivate that base, you're squeezing the balloon, right? You alienate those women we saw in that poll, right, so you get those folks out to what cost? That's the question we don't know right now and we'll know on Tuesday.
BORGER: Well, and that's the difference between the House and the Senate.
BORGER: Because he's going to help I believe very much in those red states in the Senate with the caravan potentially, but he's going to hurt himself in those suburban districts in states like Pennsylvania and he -- and so you're right. I mean, he's robbing Peter to pay Paul.
SANTORUM: If he's right, if he's right, we could see 55 Republican senators.
SANTORUM: And 235 Democrats in the House.
BORGER: Exactly. Exactly.
AXELROD: Right, right. I also think that what's going to be interesting to watch on Tuesday is where this has a negative effect because remember, he won the presidency in basically five states, in Florida, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Ohio and Wisconsin.
URBAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.
AXELROD: And I think that he -- he could be setting himself up for a tough night in every single one of those states, in governor's races, in Senate races, because they are purple states and this rhetoric works very well in red rural states but, you know, he skinned by.
COOPER: But he'll accept full responsibility for that.
CHALIAN: I suspect not at all. But to Rick's point about his ability to defy sort of political history and trend is true. We have known -- if you look through history, modern history, political history, the correlation between the president's approval rating and how their party does in the midterm, it is pretty -- I mean, it's not one to one, but it's a really close correlation. I don't know if that's going to be true. This president's approval rating is below where any Republican in their right mind would want it who is on the ballot this Tuesday, and yet perhaps we won't see with this president that correlation as strong.
AXELROD: But we also should point out that structurally he's got an advantage here. This is the worst Senate map any party has ever had for 100 years and the House -- and the House because of redistricting is a tougher lift, so some of the historical models don't necessarily apply for those reasons.
SANTORUM: Well, it's a horrible map because they control 23 of the 33 seats. That's because they've had two great election cycles prior to this. So having experienced the first one --
AXELROD: Whatever. It is a horrible map, and to your point, Anderson, I think you're right on the responsibility point. Either Trump will win the House or Paul Ryan will lose it. You know?
BORGER: Right. But what do you think he was doing last week when he was telling Paul Ryan to be quiet about birthright citizenship? And you know, Paul Ryan has raised $70 million for House Republicans. He's like you don't know anything about that. Just go away. He was getting ready to effectively say well, you're going to lose and that's your problem, not mine.
SANTORUM: I can say, you mentioned money, and I can tell you, every race I've talked, every candidate, I'm being told we're being outspent three and four to one. I mean, it is -- the Democratic big bucks party.
AXELROD: Welcome to my world.
SANTORUM: There you go. It's unbelievable.
AXELROD: I've never seen anything like this before in all my years in politics. It was always assumed that Republicans would outspend Democrats. That was a built-in advantage to Republicans. What's happened this year is phenomenal. I have campaigns saying to me we've got more money than we can spend and a lot of it is coming in small donations on the internet, and this is going to revolutionize politics.
SANTORUM: But a lot is coming from a handful of big money donors who are writing big, big checks. I mean, Bloomberg being one of them.
SANTORUM: Steyer, Bloomberg.
AXELROD: That's welcome to your world.
COOPER: All right. Let's take a quick break. Much more to talk about including late developments in a story that appears to be without precedent involving allegations of election misconduct by the office of one of the candidates who is also overseeing the vote.
Later, David Urban mentioned the migrant caravan, clearly an election issue. The question is to which voters? We'll look at that ahead.
[20:18:38] COOPER: This is quite a story, it's still unfolding as we speak. The office of the Georgia secretary of state launching a probe over the state's Democratic Party over what it described as an attempted hack of the state's voter registration system yesterday evening.
Now it would be quite a story if true. The circumstances well certainly raising suspicions among Democrats, questions among others, there's the timing, just two days before election day. There's the fact that the secretary's office provided no evidence and then there's this. The secretary of state, Brian Kemp, is also the Republican candidate for governor, and he's locked in a very tight bitterly fought race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. We invited Mr. Kemp or anyone from the campaign to come on the broadcast, they declined.
Joining us now is DuBose Porter, who's the chairman of Georgia's Democratic Party.
So, Chairman Porter, let me just ask you point blank. Has anyone in the Democratic Party of Georgia attempted to hack in any way the state's or impacted the state's voter registration system?
DUBOSE PORTER, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GEORGIA: Absolutely not. This is simply an attempt to detract from his own record. Remember, this is a secretary of state that mistakenly released six million voters' Social Security numbers twice. What's unnerving is that he has used the secretary of state's office and its official spokesperson on this made-up story.
COOPER: So has the FBI contacted your office?
COOPER: Are you speaking -- no?
PORTER: No. Not at all. It's a made-up story.
COOPER: But the FBI -- they are investigating, aren't they?
[20:20:03] PORTER: Not that we're aware of, because there was no hacking. There's no attempt of any hacking from the Democratic Party.
You know, this is another part of his attempt to suppress the vote, to make people scared of going to the polls on Tuesday because the only way to fight the abuse like this is to go to the polls and outvote him. Beat him at the polls. That's what I'm asking theme do because this is absolutely outrageous what he's doing.
COOPER: The Kemp campaign, they have not publicly disclosed any details regarding this alleged hack. Have you been given any specific information about what they're saying because the FBI has not -- has not made any public comment. PORTER: No. We have not heard from the FBI. They have made this up.
It is a made-up story. There was no hack or attempt to hack by the Democratic Party.
COOPER: Whether or not there is any truth to the accusations, do you -- I mean, you talked about potential damage this could have done to voters. Do you think it could have the opposite impact in fact and motivate some Democrats to go to the polls?
PORTER: We certainly hope so, and that's what we've put out today. They have made this up. This is what we've got to beat. Look at how you systematically tried to repress the vote, by not wanting to certify absentee ballots. The judges have told him make those provisional, have people qualify them as voters and systematically he's tried to take people off the rolls, not allow people to have their absentee ballots counted. This is simply another and a pattern of him running a pretty shoddy office and being desperate at the last minute.
COOPER: Well, if there is -- if they have some evidence, are you -- would you call on them to come forward tomorrow or even tonight with it?
PORTER: We have, and we have worked through the press. We were notified through the press, through their press release and what is again unnerving from the secretary of state's official site, from the official spokesperson and they have yet to release any evidence of it and they never will because it never happened.
COOPER: DuBose Porter, I appreciate your time.
Now whether or not what's going on in Georgia is a legitimate investigation of potential dirty tricks, or in itself a dirty trick, the larger question of election security obviously is a very real one, a very serious one, so is the threat.
Our CNN's Alexander Marquardt has been looking into it. He joins us now.
So what are the main concerns, Alex, right now when it comes to election security?
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they are wide and they are varied, and now we have federal and state officials who are bracing for a whole number of different scenarios.
Now, of course, this being the first election since 2016, the immediate fear is hacking. We have heard repeatedly from the Department of Homeland Security that as they monitor malign activity particularly from Russia that they're not nearly seeing the same level of malign activity in 2018 that they did in 2016. But the first fear is going to be hacking into the voting infrastructure, so the voting machines, the registration rolls, the sites that are used both in the media and by the states to report those votes. And there's going to be hacking into non-voting critical infrastructure, like a power grid, taking off -- taking down streetlights, phone lines.
All of this amplified by social media and speaking of amplification on social media, there are also the potential for disinformation campaigns, efforts to suppress the vote, tweets and Facebook posts that give wrong information about voting, accusations of rigging and once that hits social media, that is overly amplified.
Anderson, something is going to go wrong. Officials do expect something to go wrong. The question is how big is it, how much is it amplified and then they will go from there, and the real concern for officials is that there are not be an erosion in voter confidence in the electoral system.
COOPER: What about the paper trail? I mean, are there still states that don't have a print version of votes?
MARQUARDT: A surprising number. So all told there are 14 states that either entirely don't have any sort of paper trail and -- and then nine more, so 14 all together, five that don't have any paper trail, nine that only have a partial paper trail.
Anderson, of course, the paper trail is the easiest way to audit an election after a vote in case something went wrong so those five states that don't have any sort of paper trail, I think we have a map, are Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey and Delaware. Now the states that only partially have a paper trail are Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Now the states, of course, Anderson, do control the elections. They are very proud of that fact, but Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of DHS has repeatedly called for all 50 states by 2020 to have some sort of verifiable paper trail -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Alexander Marquardt, appreciate it.
Coming up, a Democrat hasn't won a statewide election in Texas in nearly 25 years. Beto O'Rourke is certainly hoping to change that. We'll show you how he and Ted Cruz are spending last days of the campaign. Next.
[20:28:44] COOPER: The final push is on and one of the most closely watched Senate races, Ted Cruz's Democratic challenger, who's gotten attention far beyond the borders of the state of Texas.
Ed Lavandera tonight has more.
REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you all.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Texas Democrats call it Beto-mania. And in the last days of this U.S. Senate campaign, Beto O'Rourke appearances are designed to generate rock star-style pandemonium.
The idea of a Democrat winning a state-wide election in Texas is still a dream. It hasn't happened in nearly 25 years. Beto O'Rourke says he's confident he's changed the political landscape of Texas with a highly organized get out the vote campaign to bring out new voters. And O'Rourke throws in some Spanish saltiness to motivate the faithful.
O'ROURKE: So if you really want to win this, given what's at stake, given what's on the line, given the judgment of the people, of the future, our kids, our grandkids, our conscience, let's make sure that when they look back on us they do so with pride and we don't force them to ask themselves who were those pendejos of 2018.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: God bless Texas.
LAVANDERA: Republican Senator Ted Cruz has spent the last week of the campaign barnstorming the state in the "Tough as Texas" election bus.
[20:30:07] CRUZ: The economy in Texas is booming.
LAVANDERA: Ted Cruz is closing out the campaign hitting on themes of jobs, freedom and security, and still embracing what he calls the victories of the President Trump era and reminding voters we got a good thing going.
CRUZ: When the Democrats come saying, you don't need your freedom, you don't need your free speech, you don't need your religious liberty, you don't need your Second Amendment. Who the hell are they to try it take away our freedoms?
LAVANDERA: The Cruz campaign is still trying to hammer home the idea that Beto O'Rourke is too radical and too liberal for Texas. Even Senator Cruz's mother helped her son make the case during a campaign event in Houston this weekend.
ELEANOR DARRAGH, TED CRUZ'S MOTHER: There is such a stark contrast between my son and the other candidate whose name I will not mention.
DARRAGH: One is a socialist, the other is for free enterprise. One is for open borders, the other is for the wall and secure borders.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Ted Cruz and his supporters described you as radical, a socialist. How do you combat that in your final closing message here with voters who still might be on the fence about which way to vote?
O'ROURKE: Yes. I mean, we can give in to the name calling and the smallness and the petty stuff and the partisanship.
LAVANDERA (voice over): O'Rourke picks up the answer in front of the crowd waiting for him outside in Austin.
O'ROURKE: The pettiness, the meanness, the smallness that defines so much of what happens in the highest offices of public trust, to that we are going to bring our courage, our confidence, our strength. This big, bold, beautiful heart that could only come from Texas.
LAVANDERA: At this weekend rally in a small Victoria, Texas, hotel ballroom, Cruz supporters showed up wearing red gloves, their symbol that a red wave in Texas will end Beto-mania on election day.
CRUZ: That is Texas. That is who we are. When liberty is threatened, we will rise to defend it. We will rise to defend the Constitution. And we will rise to defend the United States of America. Thank you and God bless you.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera joins us now from San Antonio.
What does each candidate have planned just in the last couple of days before the election?
LAVANDERA: Well, it's really a focus on those areas in the part of the state where they believe that they can really generate the most voter turnout so you're going to see Beto O'Rourke here on the last day campaigning in Houston tomorrow and in Dallas before flying home ending his 21-month campaign back in his hometown of El Paso. Ted Cruz is focused on the suburbs around his hometown of Houston so that's where you'll see him on the last day of campaigning.
Anderson, it's really hard to overstate the -- impossible to overstate, but early voter turnout in this state has been through the roof and many people on both sides scrambling to figure out what it's all going to mean on election day -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.
In these waning days of the midterm campaign, the president's closing argument has largely rested a lot about on the caravan of migrants, which he calls an invasion, or probably Muslims trying to go seek asylum. People who are still hundreds of miles away from the United States. The president said at a rally in Montana, quote, "Between Justice Kavanaugh and the caravan you people are energized."
Joining me now is former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services director Leon Rodriguez and former Pinal County, Arizona, sheriff Paul Babeu.
Good to have you both.
Leon, let me start with you. The president has framed this as an invasion. Do you see this as that?
LEON RODRIGUEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: No, it's not an invasion at all or by any definition. What it is is a very clear expression of a humanitarian crisis that has been going on for a long time and there's nothing that this president has been able to do to scare off people who are basically running away from countries that have the highest homicide rates on the planet. They have completely broken down law enforcement institutions.
Those are the elements of a humanitarian crisis. That's what these folks are running for, and that's the kind of response that this requires, not this sort of aggressive military law enforcement response.
COOPER: Paul, I mean, do you see this ending of the U.S. active duty, U.S. military, as the appropriate move?
PAUL BABEU, FORMER SHERIFF, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: No, I -- I recommended from the start. I served as a commanding officer in Yuma, as you know, for a year and a half with the National Guard. I believe that a military presence at our sovereign border is called for, not in a law enforcement capacity but as support role as we did with our heroes in the Border Patrol, basically to secure our border and to say, absolutely, you're not coming through.
You talk about an invasion and the reason why not just President Trump but half of America believes that this has been an invasion, not just with three or four caravans coming from Honduras or El Salvador, but we're talking 22 million illegals that have come into our country.
[20:35:16] That's huge, and so when we put this in the context of a humanitarian wave and economic, now this new word, economic migrants that are coming in here, calling for refugee, asylum status, if we think we're going to allow three or four caravans to come in, and that happens, how many more caravans do you think are going to come? It's not going to stop.
COOPER: Leon, I mean, the ways that people can actually get asylum and sort of the criteria has actually been toughened by this administration, victims of domestic violence or gang violence, those are no longer, as I understand, a criteria for getting asylum into this country.
To Paul's point about, you know, if these people are allowed in, then it's just going to encourage more people coming in caravans.
RODRIGUEZ: You know, the fact is that the United States has always stood as a beacon for refugees and asylees. There's long-standing humanitarian laws that says that individuals who are subject to crime in circumstances where their government is unable or unwilling to protect them which is basically the case going on in this country then we have always stood as a beacon to people like that. That has always been the kind of country that we've been.
Our attorney general, on the other hand, seems hell bent on closing off every possible avenue of humanitarian relief. He's reaching down for every single immigration court decision that he can to really close off those options of lawful relief. People are trying to follow the law, claim asylum in a lawful manner and our government is closing off every option for those folks.
COOPER: Paul, the president has talked about --
BABEU: And -- yes. COOPER: The president has talked about cutting aid or stopping aid to
countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, if they can't control people from leaving and heading north. I've talked to a lot of people who are involved in immigration issues on the front line who have said actually the exact opposite needs to happen. It would actually be more cost effective to try to prevent people from leaving by developing programs that encourage people to stay and make -- you know, help keep them safe.
COOPER: And have opportunities in the countries of their origin.
BABEU: And I would agree with just what you've said. I've said that on your program before that I think a far more humanitarian effort and approach for the United States to take, help those countries out. Fight the violence, fight the gang activities and the drugs that is creating this situation, but with due respect, Leon didn't answer your question because, yes, we are a beacon of hope and we are a land -- a proud history of immigrants.
Yet there's 45 plus million citizens in Central America, there's 125 million in Mexico. Many of these people can make the very same argument so what's -- what's the limit? And -- and we don't even have our own business together here in the United States for a lot of people that we say and profess that we take care of, our senior citizens, our veterans. You look at Baltimore and Chicago, and the violence, the crime, the gangs, the heroin that's in these black neighborhoods.
COOPER: So let me --
RODRIGUEZ: Let me respond.
BABEU: The crime rates are higher than some of these places in Central America.
COOPER: Yes. You know, so, Leon, how do you respond to that?
RODRIGUEZ: Let me respond. First of all, let's point out something that Sheriff Babeu and I absolutely agree on, and that is we do need to help the Central American problems overcome their problems of civil disorder and make it possible for their populations to not have to pick up and run to the United States. That is not where they are now, and as long as that's the position they are in, people are going to keep trying to go elsewhere because if you're in a position where your child is certain to become a gang member or to be recruited on pain of possible death to join a gang, or if you have a daughter who may be subject to sexual assault by gang members, then you will do what you need to do to protect your children.
Now what my response on your own point is it is simply to follow what has been the long standards -- long held standards of asylum and refugee law that this administration seems hell bent on narrowing to the greatest extent possible, and reducing all the avenues of humanitarian admission that have always existed in this country.
COOPER: All right.
RODRIGUEZ: Reducing them to the greatest extent possible.
COOPER: We've got to the wrap it there. Leon Rodriguez, Paul Babeu, always appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Up next, two races, two different states that are both too close to call. We'll go inside a House campaign in California and a Senate race in Arizona. We'll talk to our election experts about what works in the final spring to turn out the vote.
[20:43:57] COOPER: The final push is on for what is predicted to be an extremely tight Senate race in Arizona as well as a critical House race in California.
Our Kyung Lah tonight with a look at what is at stake in both states and beyond.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only hours left in the battle for Southern California's 45th District.
KATIE PORTER (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready for a representative who fights for you?
LAH: Democratic challenger Katie Porter is rallying her troops.
PORTER: Senator Kamala Harris.
LAH: With some senatorial star power in a U.S. House race too close to call.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We need our strongest soldiers on the field.
LAH: With just one last weekend, volunteers are grabbing clipboards, pounding the pavement, hitting houses, like Democratic volunteer Jennifer Koh and her 7-year-old son, Quincy.
(On camera): Do you feel that this last push by you is going to make a difference?
JENNIFER KOH, VOLUNTEER: I mean, I'm going to do what I can, you know? I don't want to have any regrets. I don't want to see the election go the other way and see the other candidate win, and think that I could have done a little bit of something this weekend to make that difference.
[20:45:06] REP. MIMI WALTERS (R), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. Tell all your friends. Thanks a lot.
LAH (voice over): Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters is not just on defense, but offense, to save her job and keep this district red.
(On camera): Is it a fast and furious fight to try to convince those last holdouts?
WALTERS: You have to work really hard for every single vote. Every vote counts. And so what we're doing is we are making contact with every single voter and making sure that those people who support me turn out to the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name's Scott. I volunteer at the Congressional Leadership Fund. And we're just calling voters --
LAH (voice over): Republican volunteers arrive early.
(On camera): The number of people we're looking at here is pretty surprising, given that it's 10:00 a.m.
COURTNEY ALEXANDER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND: 10:00 a.m. on a --
LAH: 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday. And you have young people.
ALEXANDER: Yes. Yes. There is a lot of enthusiasm and we've that in our offices across the country. And that's what's leading to these 30 million voter contacts in an election cycle.
LAH (voice over): In this last weekend, get out the vote means get to the people, especially in tossup races. Arizona Senate candidate Martha McSally --
MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Get your carbo and protein load here.
LAH: Is serving her closing message with pancakes. She's locked in a tight race with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, one of the states in the battle for control of the Senate.
TRUMP: This is a very important election.
LAH: Both parties are sending out their heavy hitters, crisscrossing the country. The president hit Georgia today for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp.
OBAMA: There have got to be consequences when people don't tell the truth.
LAH: In Indiana, former President Obama campaigned with Democrat Joe Donnelly. A marathon midterm season finishing with one final sprint.
(On camera): There's so many races that are too close to call. What is it going to take to push it over the finish line?
HARRIS: It's going to take people getting out to vote. This election cycle, what I'm experiencing is that people realize that they actually have to vote if they want to influence the outcome.
COOPER: And Kyung joins us now from Arizona.
So I understand it's not just the political parties obviously organizing. You're in a progressive grassroots phone bank. Who are they targeting?
LAH: They are targeting independents, and independents in Arizona are critical because a third of registered voters here in this state are independents. So as you take a look at this room, we're actually in a private house, Anderson, and all of these people here are phone banking. Over here this table has a number of registered independents that they are calling one by one. They are trying to reach them, trying to encourage them to get out and vote.
Over here they are actually texting people, combination of texting and calling, trying to make those individual connections. They are hoping to reach a thousand people just in this phone banking session tonight and this lady over here, Gail, she hits 200 every single time that she's here. 200 people, that is, so -- and they have been doing this, Anderson, not just tonight, not just in this last week. They have been doing this since August, so will it be effective? They believe so.
It's not just here in this room, but there are some 40 Indivisible Groups like this just in the state of Arizona alone -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Fascinating. Thanks very much.
Back now with our gallant team of election experts. I'm doofus, they're gallant.
You know, Van, it is fascinating just the mechanics now of, you know, they talk about individual contacts. They want to -- each campaign tries to have multiple contacts with each voter. They are knocking on doors and then following up on text and phones.
JONES: And that group Indivisible did not exist when Trump was elected. It is now one of the biggest groups in the country. We're living in an era where groups -- where people who were sitting back, they thought it was going to be easy for Hillary Clinton, they didn't do anything, there is such heartburn and regret about 2016 that people -- you have Black Voters Matter. They are out there, they've come up with this thing called relational organizing. They realized it's not just you walk down a street and you knock on a door that you've never seen before.
You've got cousins, you've got ex-roommates, and they are figuring out ways to connect those people. There's a technological --
JONES: -- and an interpersonal revolution happening on the ground.
COOPER: Because it's more effective if it's somebody you know.
JONES: Somebody that you know so they are figuring out how to combine the high tech with the high touch. There's a lot of stuff happening out there.
AXELROD: This was sort of what emerged from the Obama campaigns was the merger of the new technology and old shoe leather but turbo charged because you make connections between people who know each other, and can you identify voters more readily who are likely to respond to your appeals, so -- but can I just say one thing?
Whatever happens, the fact that there is all this activity and people feel invested in this election and we see this record early vote and we see these projections of maybe the largest midterm turnout in 50 years, that's got to be good, but whatever is driving people, it's better when people are participating than when they are not.
[20:50:03] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and people certainly engaged. I think all of these kind of voter, you know, turnout models and being on the ground and knocking on doors, it's especially going to be important in places like Texas, places like Georgia, where they really want to change the demographics. Change the kind of people who turn out because that's what matters, is voter context that you're talking about.
But I think the question is in a state like Texas, the Democratic Party doesn't really have much of an infrastructure. So I think these sort of third party groups are going to be really important. But can kind of cover Texas?
URBAN: I was just going to say to one of David's earlier point. At some point, voters, you know, in these districts have to start tuning out.
URBAN: Because they've gotten too many contacts. Right? There is a point when you get over-saturation.
URBAN: You run a race unopposed or scared, but then there's the point where you're running too hard, pushing too much and people just turn it off. And they don't pay attention. So --
BORGER: You know, I think the Democrats are sort of scared in a way. I mean, they are excited because they think there's a possibility of winning the House and some kind of blue wave. And then they retreated to a corner to say, what if this doesn't happen? What if this 2016 all over --
COOPER: Did you see Nancy Pelosi on Stephen Colbert? Nancy Pelosi said they're going to win and Colbert said, do you want to say that on the Hillary fireworks barge she canceled? BORGER: Right. That's right. Right. Exactly. And they are worried
about it because the biggest hope, of course, I think, is that this isn't just a wave than it's a realignment. You know, to your point, that it's a realignment election, which matters at every level, you know, redistricting.
COOPER: But why should anyone believe these polls? I mean, given --
GRANHOLM: No, you shouldn't.
SANTORUM: We were just talking about Arizona. I mean, you know, Arizona, most of the polls I have seen showing Kyrsten Sinema is ahead in that race. I mean, and if you look at the early vote, it doesn't show that. It actually shows the Republicans are actually doing very well in Arizona with the early voting.
AXELROD: Part of that is the Governor Ducey --
SANTORUM: Governor Ducey is a rock star. He's --
AXELROD: -- is running a very strong campaign. McSally is going to benefit from him.
URBAN: Unlike Florida.
SANTORUM: Yes. Well, if Martha (INAUDIBLE), Doug Ducey -- and she's the difference in maintaining control, Doug Ducey is going to get a big hug from a lot of Republicans because he's done a great job down there. But the bottom line is, if you look at where Arizona is right now, what I'm being told is that most of the Republican votes outstanding are four or four voters. In other words they come at every election, and they just haven't voted yet. If they voted in the last four elections, they'll probably coming --
CHALIAN: To David's point about turnout is so critical. Just -- a midterm election year is you'll see a huge drop off of voters and quite frankly a huge drop off of Democratic voters.
CHALIAN: Midterm electorates are more Republican in nature. They're older, they're whiter, they're more reliable voters than just presidential years. What we're seeing in some of this early vote that's so fascinating and may get to that 50-year record you're describing, you're seeing early vote participation in some states at presidential levels from 2016 or above. Now we'll see if the election day vote matches. Obviously nobody anticipate this to look like exactly a presidential election, but this midterm is going to look a whole lot more like a presidential election than a traditional midterm election.
(CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: What they are trying to do is to get voters like millennials who really don't vote much. So in Texas, we're seeing a 500 percent increase in early votes among millennials. Now granted, it was a low base to start with, so -- but they are seeing a surge in --
COOPER: So 500 are coming out.
GRANHOLM: Hopefully more than that. But you see that's what Beto -- you know, Beto O'Rourke is really trying to get these young people to see. But it's true. A surge with women, but with independents. The independents --
BORGER: What about Latinos, though?
GRANHOLM: That's what I said. The --
BORGER: But it's a problem for Democrats.
GRANHOLM: It is.
BORGER: The Latino vote is not coming out the way they want.
GRANHOLM: Well, but it's more than it was last time around. So you got to continue to build.
SANTORUM: The question, given --
GRANHOLM: But my point is that this realignment, if I can just finish the sentence and I'll turn it right over to you.
AXELROD: Just have a thing going over here.
GRANHOLM: You know it's just -- you know, he's always trying to steal -- no, just kidding. No, but you will agree that the realignment that is happening right now has to be a bit of a threat to Republicans if Democrats are able to get --
URBAN: No, it's going to be a threat to Democrats.
GRANHOLM: Wait, wait. I'm letting him talk, come on. If Democrats are successful --
SANTORUM: Not yet.
GRANHOLM: Are successful in getting these voters out who are not normally regular voters in midterms.
SANTORUM: The realignment has take b place because of Donald Trump. And that's the -- I think that's the bigger realignment. We saw it in 2016. The question is, will it hold in 2018? The fact that blue- collar men, I mean, the working people in this country, blue-collar folks, you're seeing their wages going up, who are now coming back into the workforce. I mean, we're seeing dynamism, manufacturing, all these things, the trade war, Trump fighting on trade, I understand that doesn't get the headlines. It's not the controversial stuff.
But for a person who has been on the margins who doesn't think either party cared about them, whether you're Hispanic or black or white, those are issues that matter to you because you're feeding your family. And that's the realignment that I think will happen. And I wish the president would talk about it more, but he doesn't.
[20:55:01] URBAN: So on the realignment issue that -- as Gloria points out. It's a realignment election. The House comes in younger, more diverse, right? What does that do for the politics? What does that do for governing? What does that do for the party leadership? What does it look like? Are they going to cut deals with the president? Or they're going to go and impeach the president? That's --
AXELROD: So you're saying that they'll help Democrats win the House and that's going to be a problem. But my guess is most Democrats will say well, that's a high class problem I'd like to have.
URBAN: Well, but, David, you have to admit, it's going to be a little bit of a blood bath and then if you run too far --
AXELROD: I think that both caucuses are going to be interesting.
COOPER: All right. We've got to wrap it up here. Thank you all on the panel. Really appreciate it.
Our special election program is going to continue shortly. "CUOMO PRIMETIME" takes over in just a moment. Be right back.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Chris Cuomo live from Washington, D.C. Welcome to a special Sunday edition of PRIMETIME.
So a verdict is coming in 48 hours. Just two days. We're going to know whether or not Trumpism is truly a mass movement. The president is banking that his special sauce of fear and loathing of migrants will bring out his folks all across this country.