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The President And Vice President And Vice President Will Be Sharing The Stage There With Brian Kemp; Democrats See Nevada As One Of The Best Opportunities To Pick Up A U.S. Senate Seat; 26-Year-Old James Polite Is Facing Four Hate Crime Charges Including Arson For Allegedly Setting A Fire At A Jewish Study School; Iowa Congressman Steve King Has Waited Until The Closing Day Of The Campaign To Launch His First TV Ad; Some 38 Million People Will Be Under Severe Weather Alerts On Tuesday; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired November 4, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

With less than 48 hours until the midterm election, we are seeing a frantic get out to vote push from President Trump and his Democratic rivals who were dominating the campaign trail today.

And now two days before polls open, an investigation in Georgia. The office of secretary of state Brian Kemp, also the Republican candidate for governor is accusing the Democratic Party of hacking into the voting system there in an attempt to expose its vulnerabilities. We are waiting for details on all of that and evidence supporting this 11th hour allegation.

Kemp is neck and neck with Democrat Stacey Abrams, who could make history as the first African-American woman governor and the state's first Democrat since 1998.

There is so much at stake, so much on tap. Now let's go to the White House and the President will also be crisscrossing the country in this last minute push two days before mid-term elections. Let's go to Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles - Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. President Trump is on his way to Georgia as we speak. Marine one just lifting off from the south lawn of the White House just a few minutes ago. And President Trump did take time to speak with reporters before he heads out on these campaign trips today stopping in both Georgia and Tennessee.

And what we heard from the President just a few minutes ago was a degree of expectations setting. The President talking about what he hopes will happen on Election Day and then of course how that impacts his role in all of this.

The President seems pretty bullish about what he thinks is going to happen. He said that he feels a lot of energy, that same level of energy that he felt during his own victorious campaign back in 2016, but he did offer up the caveat that he is much more focused on the Senate and some of these ley gubernatorial races than he is in the House of Representatives where many analysts view that the Democratic chances for gains and perhaps taking back the House of Representatives are much better.

Now the President even offered up a qualification in regards to the House of Representatives saying there is only so much campaigning that he can do between now and Election Day. And it's impossible for him to visit every single one of these house districts, but instead, he can have more of an impact in the Senate.

Let's listen to what the President had to say here just a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm now leaving for Georgia. I will be doing a rally. We have a tremendous number of people as you know, as you probably know, standing outside trying to get in. It's for Brian Kemp. He is running for governor of Georgia.

We are then going to Tennessee where we have a tremendous crowd. We have a lot of crowd. I don't know what that means, but we always have a lot of crowds. But I think that it really portends up and that's very interesting. In Tennessee, it's Marsha Blackburn and she is doing tremendously well. She is a great candidate. She would be a great senator from Tennessee. But I will be - that will be the second stop. The first stop is Georgia. So we are going to have a very busy day and tremendous crowds.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: I think we are going to do well with the House. I think that, you know, my primary focus of course has been on the Senate because there are so many people in the House and that's a lot of stops, but I have done some House work also. But I think we are going to do well in the House. But as you, my primary focus has been on the Senate. And I think we are doing really well in the Senate.

If you look at early returns, the early returns are very positive. So, you know, with so many people in Congress, with so many people in the House, it's very hard to make those stops. But I made a number. I think we are going to do well in the House. I think we are going to do really well in the Senate and there is something going on out there. And I think you know what I mean.

There is something going on. There is something that is very interesting that's happening. The level of fervor. The level of fever is very strong on the Republican side. So I can't speak to the blue, but I can speak to the red. There is a lot of energy out there. They want to see border security. They don't want people pouring into our country. They don't want open borders. They don't want to pay for other people's health care.

There is a lot of enthusiasm on the Republican side. I haven't seen it really since our big election victory in 2016. It's tremendous. There is a tremendous spirit out there.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

[14:05:05] TRUMP: I haven't been briefed. No, I don't know anything about it. I know that Brian Kemp is running a great campaign. And I think he is going to be a fantastic governor of Georgia. That's why I'm going. But he is running a really great campaign. He is very - he is really - I mean, he studied for this job for a long time. He will be a great executive. And he will keep Georgia going on the path that it's going, which is up. He is going to do a great job.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: We will make a statement about that at the appropriate time.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, I do focus on the economy, but you people don't like to cover that. I mean, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. The jobs report that came out on Friday, 250,000 added jobs in just October. It was incredible. Wages going up, good point, 3.1 percent. You look at every single element of that report was a 10. It was perfect. And we have the greatest economy ever. But you people don't want to cover that. You would much rather cover illegal immigration which is OK for me too because frankly, we are doing a great job at the border. Nobody else could do the job that we are doing. And as you know, the Democrats want to have open borders and all of those tens of thousands of people pour into our country. That's not going to happen.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: I don't view this as for myself. You can. I mean, I see headlines in the "New York Times" that it's really about me and it's not really. But I will accept that. I think we are going to do very well in the Senate. I think we are going to do well in the House. The difference is I can't campaign for all of the House members. There are so many of them. But I can go out and help senators and I think I made a big difference. I think I have made a difference of five or six or seven. That's a big difference. And everywhere I have gone we had massive crowds.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: No, these rallies are the best thing we have done. I think that the rallies have really been the thing that caused this whole big fervor to start and to continue. I have never seen such excitement. Maybe back in 2016 during in the Presidential right around vote, but I have never seen such enthusiastic Republican Party. They are enthusiastic about how well the economy is doing and they are enthusiastic about security, they are enthusiastic about taxes being lowered and getting lower again. They are really enthusiastic about the border. They are really seeing something very, very good at the border.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION) TRUMP: We are going to work on the tax cut. We already started. I have been working with Kevin Brady and we are working with the house. We are doing a 10 percent tax cut now. It could be that if we lose control of the House, that's not going to happen. But we are going to be doing a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class. We are starting the process already with Kevin Brady. And we are very well along on it. We will be submitting when they come back.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: I don't know with you.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Well, the Iran sanctions are very strong, the strongest we have ever impose imposed. And we will see what happens with Iran but they are not doing very well, I can tell you. Iran is not doing very well. It's a big difference since I have been in office. When I came to office, if you go a day before, it looked like Iran was going to take over the Middle East. It was a question of literally less than years. Very quickly. And now nobody is talking about that. So we will see what happens. But the Iran sanctions have gone into effect. They are the strongest sanctions that our country ever issued.

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: Say it?

(INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: No. I think from what I understand, the Georgia campaign of Brian Kemp has been extraordinary. A lot of people are voting. And I think a lot of Republicans are voting because they want to see Georgia go forward, not backward. If she gets in, Georgia is going backwards. If he gets in, Georgia is going forward. And that's what people want.

Thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: So you see there, Fred, the President of the United States is setting the stage for the election on Tuesday.

I just want do to point out, and I'm sure we are going to talk more about what this means in terms of the election, but the point he made about sanctions in Iran, that could be a news making bit that the President talking about there. Obviously, Iran sanctions are on the table in the wake of pulling out of the nuclear agreement. And he made the claim there that before he took office, Iran was prepared to take over the Middle East. I'm not necessarily sure about the analysis regarding that, but that could be a key thing that the President there before he heads out on the campaign trail for the final two days of the campaign.

[14:10:22] WHITFIELD: Right. That's a like a raw item this week. But right now his focus is campaigning in Georgia and beyond just two days ahead of midterm elections and making a lot of comments there, talking about there, being a lot of fervor, a lot of excitement and momentum behind the Republicans at the same time. He says while he is interested in talking about the economy, he put blame on everyone else saying but everybody else wants to talk about immigration and other things, but then he did rattle off some economic successes. We will talk more about all that coming up.

Ryan Nobles, thank you so much at the White House. Appreciate it.

All right. So let's head to the next destination for the President, Macon, Georgia where he will be campaigning.

Sarah Westwood is already there.

So Sarah, the President and vice president and vice president will be sharing the stage there with Brian Kemp who by the way, was to be in a televised debate, the last one, with Stacey Abrams, tonight but he decided this is going to be the place he would rather be.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Fred. And this race is as tight as they come. It is one of the most closely watched gubernatorial contests in the country right now. Brian Kemp, as you mentioned, was supposed to debate his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams today, but he cancelled it to appear on stage with the President tonight.

Stacey Abrams, of course, is looking to make history as the first black woman to become governor not just of Georgia but of any state in the country. And she has attracted some Democratic star power this week with former President Obama, Oprah Winfrey traveling down to the Peach State to campaign with her. But if this race - in this race, neither candidates gets 50 percent on Tuesday, then this gubernatorial contest could go to a run off.

And that's why President Trump is coming here today. He hopes to put Brian Kemp over the 50 percent threshold and stave off a run off. Georgia is actually one of the only states on President Trump's final campaign tour ahead of the midterms that doesn't have a competitive Senate race. The President has been focusing on states that he won in 2016, states where Republicans are hoping to defend the GOP House seat or pick off the Democratic incumbent and he is ending the midterms in Trump country with a very Trumpian message, focusing on immigration and focusing on that caravan of Central American migrants heading to the southern border.

Take listen to what the President had to say in Pensacola last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you look at that caravan coming up, that's not what we want. That's not for us, folks. Not for us. And we want people to come through our strong borders, but they have to come in legally. They have to come in absolutely through a process and they have to come in through merit.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WESTWOOD: Now the President has five rallies left on his schedule before Election Day including the one he will have here in just a little over two hours from now. Later, he will be heading to Tennessee and we are likely to see him continue to inflame passions around immigration as he tours the country and ends this eight-state tour ahead of Election Day, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Let's talk more now about that investigation in Georgia involving the secretary of state's office who also happens to be the Republican nominee for the gubernatorial race looking into whether the Democrats are involved in any kind of hacking.

Our Kaylee Hartung is following this story. We are still awaiting details on what constitute this case. But in a nutshell, give us an idea what are they looking for? What are the allegations?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. Well, at this point, the secretary of state's office is not providing any evidence as to why they have opened up this investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party.

But Brian Kemp's campaign, they are being much more direct in saying quote "the Democrats tried to expose vulnerabilities in Georgia's voter registration system."

Meanwhile, the secretary of state's office maintains that this is an ongoing investigation and they can't comment any further.

These claims though are being absolutely refuted by Georgia's Democratic Party. They are saying they are scar-less (ph), 100 percent false. They say they did not create, discover, or attempt to take advantage of deeply vulnerable system operated by the secretary of state.

And earlier today, Stacey Abrams was on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and shared with us her reaction to this news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I heard nothing about it and my reaction would be that this is a desperate attempt on the part of my opponent to distract people from the fact that two different federal judges found him derelict in his duties and forced him to have absentee ballots counted and those who are being help occupy the exact math system to be allowed to vote. He is desperate to turn the conversation away from his failures, from his refusal to honor his commitments and from the fact that he is part of a nationwide system of voter suppression that will not work in this election because we are going to outwork him, we are going to out-vote him and we are going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:15:19] HARTUNG: This is just the latest chapter in a campaign that has been full of drama and litigation. And this news comes as we are learning from the coalition of good governance and organization who is already involved in litigation against Brian Kemp. They are now claiming that the online voter registration database use used to update the electronic polling list, they say that is open to manipulation as well. Brian Kemp's secretary of state said the databases are secure and he maintain that no data has been compromised.

But Fred, throughout the campaign, this has been a contentious issue. Brian Kemp and his role as secretary of state while competing for the state's top job. Stacey Abrams has called for him to resign. Jimmy Carter has called for him to step aside, but he maintains, he refuses to do so.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much. Keep us posted as you learn more about that investigation.

So don't miss how it all shakes out this Tuesday following election night in America right here on CNN starting Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. eastern time.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:20:26] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield from Washington, D.C.

President Trump there heading to Georgia to stump for the Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp who is in a tight match up with Democrat, Stacey Abrams. And this as the office of the Georgia secretary of state, which is Brian Kemp, also the Republican candidate for governor is accusing the Democratic Party of hacking into this voting system there in an attempt to expose its vulnerabilities. And the investigation now in its infancy, but it's under way.

Joining me right now to talk about all of this, how much is at stake for the state of Georgia. Former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent. Former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, Symone Sanders. Both are also CNN political commentators. Also joining me, Larry Noble, former general counsel at the federal election commission. Thanks to all of you for being here this Sunday.

All right, congressman, you first. So how do you size this up? This investigation now by the office of the Brian Kemp who is the current secretary of state. Is it perhaps a desperate attempt or is it evidence that this is indeed a very tight race? And so he wants to get ahead of it or influence voters with this investigation?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one, it is a tight race. Two, it does look like an attempt to throw out something at the end. I can't speak to the merits of this charge. Nobody is going to have information on this until after the election. One thing I do know, as soon as this election is over, whoever wins is going to be in litigation. If Sanders wins, I'm sure that Kemp and his team are going to take this to court saying the Democrats are cheating. And if Kemp wins, the Democrats are going to accuse Kemp of voter suppression. So that is the only thing we know.

So this is -- nothing is going to be resolved between now and Election Day, but this is just stirring the plot. And I suspect there is not going to be any evidence in this thing before the election.

WHITFIELD: Yes. You mean, Abrams.

DENT: I'm sorry.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's OK. (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Anyway, so Larry, is it kind of another indicator? Those who said Brian Kemp should have either recuse himself or resign because of the whole exact match law. He had challenged that there are 50,000 Georgia voters who would not be eligible and now this is something new, an investigation into the Democratic Party.

LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And it's definitely a sign of the fact that he should recuse himself. This is exactly what are you worry about when somebody, a secretary of state overseeing election at the same they are running to be governor. So they are basically calling the shots on the fairness of their election.

WHITFIELD: Does that happen? Does it happen?

NOBLE: It does happen in other states. It has happened. But it's something you have to be careful about. Even if he had evidence, (INAUDIBLE) had evidence of election hacking by Democrats, he has no credibility. He has made efforts and the secretary of state's office had made effort to disenfranchised voters. The courts have called upon it. And now, two days before the election, they are saying the Democrats tried to hack the database and yet they won't give any evidence. They say we can't talk about it. Well, if you can't talk about it, why mention it. Why not wait until you are done with your investigation? It clearly look like an effort to sway voters of the west that I think are getting somewhat desperate because the election is so close.

WHITFIELD: So Symone, is this stirring uncertainty when they hear something about this?

SANDERS: Look. I think voters in Georgia, regardless of what side (INAUDIBLE) should be concerned that the secretary of state is charmed with fairly administering an election. It is attempting to manipulate voters into either going to the polls or not going to polls.

I think it is unfortunate. And the only way to stamp out these type of voter suppression is in fact to vote. That's what the Georgia Democratic Party (INAUDIBLE). And I think that is what you will see folks do go to the polls.

I just think it is so - it is hilarious to me because Brian Kemp's office in 2016 refused help from the department the homeland security to shore up their voter database, to make sure the elections would be safe and secure.

I mean, on two different occasions, they have leaked information from voters' information including Social Security numbers. So we can -- you can tell us about an investigation we will have details on, but we can't get absentee ballot information for this election? They reputedly to say information and say look, I wish that Brian Kemp would just actually do his job. But he just can't be a fair broker here. So, I don't know why --.

WHITFIELD: So Brian Kemp should be in a position of real confidence. I mean, he is already the secretary of state, you know. This is traditionally a very red state. But he was to have the last televised debate with Stacey Abrams this evening in Georgia. He cancelled at the last minute. They were counting on it, but he is going instead to appear with the President.

So congressman, is that the capital in a traditionally red state that the President is a greater asset than another opportunity to represent himself to the voters?

[14:25:06] DENT: Well, I will tell you what. The President is showing up only in I will say generally very red areas. I can tell you that I know my former Republican colleagues in I will say marginal and swing districts are not inviting the President into their district and they are certainly not talking about the things like birth right citizenship or caravans. They are talking about the economy.

So if you are bringing in the President at this late hour in Georgia, that means you have a problem. I'm not saying he is going to lose, but he has got a problem. This is a tight race and this is a desperate attempt, obviously. And I don't think this is going to change anybody's vote either, this charge. I mean, this, the Abrams people are going to be with Abrams, Kemp people with Kemp. And this is just further muddying the issue. But you are in trouble if the need the President to come in at this hour.

WHITFIELD: Rhetoric has been something that just about every campaign across the country has been talking about whether it's an asset or whether it is an issue. And just south of Georgia, another potentially significant, you know, historic making, gubernatorial race. And in that you have the former Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue, who is now made a comment, this after Ron Desantis make his own, you know, monkeying it up comment. And this was Sonny Perdue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONNY PERDUE, FORMER GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Public policy matters. Leadership matters. That's why this elections is so cotton picking important to the state of Florida. I hope you all don't mess it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Cotton picking, you know. You know, important. I mean, is this dog whistling again, Larry?

NOBLE: It is. Look, words matter. They really do matter. And you know, he can say that's just an expression I use, but we all know what that refers to. And you have the - especially when your politics or you are talking about political actors, you have to be very careful about what you say. And that is a dog whistle. That is something that is really tends to appeal to racist voters.

And I would say about changing votes, this may not change any votes, but it can tamp down voting. And it also can excite his base.

WHITFIELD: How can this potentially intimidate voters in Florida perhaps, Symone?

SANDERS: You know, I think - so I think it's really interesting that folks, there are many people, me and my, you know, conservative friends have talk out, will say why do folks always talk about race? We have talked about race because the race is whether we like it or not tied to many things that we do. We look at education, our economic policy, our public policy, the races that people wage to win elections, and the fact of the matter is that I think this Florida race has done and parts of, you know, something is happening in Georgia actually has really pulled the cover back on the kinds of tactics that are still very much so alive and well in modern day American politics.

And so, I don't think Sonny Perdue had a slip of the tongue. I don't think Perdue had a slip of the tongue. I think he knew exactly what he was saying. And again, if you are a voter in Florida that would like to combat this rhetoric, if you are someone that doesn't like what's happening, you have the power (INAUDIBLE) to go to the polls and elect Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson for that matter to the Senate (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Another sign of desperation, congressman?

DENT: Yes, I think so. By the way, the term that he used, cotton picking and then there was monkey it up, I think these are obviously very poor choices of words. Kellyanne Conway right after Pittsburgh just talking about America first.

WHITFIELD: But it's more than that. It is more than just poor choice of words.

DENT: Yes.

WHITFIELD: I mean, because there is intent when you use language like that, right?

DENT: Well, there certainly can be. I can't speak to what their motivations where when they said it, but it's a terrible choice of words. And again, does it have any impact on the election? I really don't think it does at this point.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: It doesn't inspire voters, you know, whichever direction, inspire them.

DENT: This thing to die is cast.

WHITFIELD: Pardon?

DENT: I think the die is cast already. I mean, people know where they are voting. It is two days before the election. You know, these types of statements I don't think are going to have that big of an impact on the outcome at this point.

SANDERS: I just think people know who they would like to vote for. The question is, will they go to the polls. But I think something that this rhetoric does do is that it pulls the cover back on where people actually stand. If you are talking about monkeying it up, if you talk about (INAUDIBLE) in mind, the only people that have cotton picking minds are folks that pick cotton. Those were the slaves, black people. And so, that is what this is alluding to.

So not that it was maybe encourage someone to change their minds who vote for Ron Desantis, but I definitely think it include, it introduces an additional dynamic. If you vote for Andrew Gillum, you are voting for, do we want a black man in-charge of - do people want a black man like Andrew Gillum in charge the government? That's what this alludes to. And I think that is why the --.

WHITFIELD: The tone of language that really, it is not difficult to break a coat to figure it out.

NOBLE: No, it is not. And especially with the people he is talking to. And you know, what you are trying to do in the last few days is get those voters who will respond to that, who are racist and get them up and get them to the polls. You don't want them just sitting back. So you say things that basically tell them, look, we agree with you. We are for you, you know. We have the same feelings you have. And so, you use minds with like that (ph). And it is very destructive to our democracy.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks to all of you. Larry, Symone, Charlie Dent, thank you. Appreciate it.

DENT: Thank you.

[14:30:00] WHITFIELD: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:34:27] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Democrats see Nevada as one of the best opportunities to pick up a U.S. Senate seat. A recent CNN poll shows dramatic - I mean, Democratic challenger rather Jackie Rosen narrowly ahead of incumbent Republican Dean Heller, 48 percent to 45 percent. That same poll also shows likely voters in Nevada about evenly split on President Trump's job performance, 49 percent to 48 percent.

Despite the competitive race, you won't see the President in Nevada. Two senior sources tell CNN Nevada GOP leaders asked the President to steer clear of the state over concerns that he could do more harm than good. Let's go to CNN's Scott McLean in Las Vegas.

So Scott, what are both sides doing in this final stretch to get the vote out?

[14:35:16] SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. Well, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Democrats are able to take back the United States Senate without winning the state of Nevada. And right now as you mentioned, polls are extremely closed between the Democrat Jackie Rosen and the Republican Dean Heller.

The problem for Democrats though is that their turnout especially seems to drop off significantly between presidential races and midterm races. And so, they are doing everything that they can to rally their base and get them to turnout to vote. They will tell you that they are trying to get women, they are trying to get minorities, trying to get young people to vote.

They are also getting help from groups like this one. This is actually the local culinary union that we are at right now. They are trying to get their members out to go and drop off flyers, talk to people in the door. You will notice that they are speaking in Spanish. A lot of these members are Spanish-speaking themselves, Latino voters. They are also predominantly women as well.

And I asked one of the members earlier about what the biggest issues were for her in this election. We also caught up with a group of young people on campus trying to get younger people to vote. Here's what they said about the issues in this race. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIP YAP, NEXTGEN, NEVADA REGIONAL ORGANIZING DIRECTOR: First it's cost of college. Of course, that makes sense. Second is actually health care because we know that young people really want access affordable health care. And they are voting not only for themselves, but also for their families and their friend who is need that access as well.

MARIA PACHECO, NEVADA RESIDENT: Because it's important for me, for Nevada. That's very important election for Nevada. So the school, the economic issues, the immigration, that's important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: So right now, Democrats, in terms of early voting tally, they have a bit of an advantage right now. But Republicans will tell you that Dean Heller was down by more after early voting back in 2012, he has still managed to win. One Republican strategist in Nevada told me that Republicans should be jumping for joy going into Election Day, but it has been worse - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Scott McLean in Las Vegas. Thanks so much.

All right, next, another act of hate this time at a New York synagogue. What we are learning about the suspect's background and his past ties to a former New York City council speaker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:55] WHITFIELD: We are now learning the man charged with writing anti-Semitic messages inside of Brooklyn synagogue once worked to fight hate crimes. 26-year-old James Polite is facing four hate crime charges including arson for allegedly setting a fire at a Jewish study school just miles from the synagogue. Polite reportedly worked on anti-hate crime initiatives about a decade ago as an intern for former New York City council speaker Christine Quinn. Polite's life which included years in and out of the foster care system has profiled in a "New York Times" piece just last year.

CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is live for us at the Union Temple in Brooklyn this afternoon. So Polo, what else are we learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fred, former speaker Quinn has actually responded to this saying that she is obviously heartbroken to hear about this latest developments. Also said at least she can confirm that this individual did struggle not only with homelessness but also with several other issues but at the same time called this most recent development obviously unacceptable.

We are also learning here in the last few moments according to NYPD that Polite is also suspected for a recent rash of arsons not far from where we are standing here specifically at least six other locations, some of them associated with the Jewish community. At least one of them a Jewish school. Authorities responding to the fire overnight Friday. Apparently a closet was set on fire. Authorities, that is where authorities made contact with James Polite and arrested him.

Currently, he is undergoing a psychological evaluation in a Brooklyn area hospital but that certainly suggesting authorities are concerned about the 26-year-old man's mental state here. Though they would not confirm a lot more.

He has already been charged with a multitude of charges here including arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Authorities saying that all of these are being treated as hate crimes.

And as you mentioned there, the former city council speaker has already responded. Again, heartbroken about this, but at the same time, calling these kinds of actions unacceptable.

Finally, we should mention, of course, this is happening just over a week after the deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So as you can imagine, the Jewish community is here certainly coming together. New York's mayor attending services here on Friday, calling for unity. And of course, a very strong condemnation about some of this recent anti-Semitic vandalism.

Polo Sandoval, thanks so much. Keep us posted.

All right. Still ahead, eight-term Republican Congressman Steve King locked in a tight race and now lashing out over questions about his past racially charged remarks. What he has to say in a new ad, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:49:03] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

Iowa Congressman Steve King has waited until the closing day of the campaign to launch his first TV ad. He is faced controversy of his racially charged remarks and accusations (INAUDIBLE) far right and white supremacist groups and this ad appears to be a response to his critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know most of you agree our country is slipping away. Well, I think it's worth fighting for no matter whose toes have to be stepped on to make it right.

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WHITFIELD: King has won pretty handily in the past seven elections, but some polls are showing it's tighter this time with his Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten.

As CNN Sara Sidner report, even King's opponent says unseating him is an uphill battle.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Iowa's fourth district filled with small towns and fields of corn, Congressman Steve King's words echoing far and wide.

[14:50:03] RITA SENNERT, POCAHONTAS RESIDENT: I don't think he belongs in a white supremacist meeting. That's just, you know, listen. That's wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is calling a spade a spade which he has the guts to do.

SIDNER: The Sennerts are self-described conservatives living on deep red turf. Donald Trump won the fourth district with 60 percent of the vote. King, now serving his eighth term in Congress, got 61 percent following years of racially charged rhetoric about former President Barack Obama.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: This President would not be President today if any of the other races were so racially motivated in the ballots that they cast.

SIDNER: Comparing immigrants to dogs.

KING: You get the pick of the litter. We got yourself a pretty good beer, though. But we got the beer though. Every donor civilization on the planet.

SIDNER: And making this unsubstantiated claim about immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

KING: For everyone who is a valedictorian, there is another 100 out there that is - they weigh 130 pounds and they have (INAUDIBLE) a size of cantaloupes because they are hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

SIDNER: He says he unknowingly met with a member of a faraway Austrian group with past ties to Nazis and retweeted a message from an avowed Nazi sympathizers saying it was unintentional.

But can Democrats capitalize on King's controversies? Enter challenger Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten. A former minor league baseball player turned first time political candidate. He is on his fourth trip across the district. We catch up with him at Pocahontas, Iowa.

Is Pocahontas a Democratic district?

J.D. SCHOLTEN (D) IOWA CANDIDATE: No.

SIDNER: Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats here by more than 2-1. But there are signs of enthusiasm for Scholten. This resident flagged him down on the road.

SCHOLTEN: I love it. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so excited.

SIDNER: Still Scholten is under no illusions winning this district will be easy.

He keeps getting reelected. Doesn't that signify that's what people want?

SCHOLTEN: It's something different this time. It's not necessarily that his opponent is calling him out on things. People can see it on Facebook. People can see it on his Twitter. And I think that is what is catching up to him and people are disgusted with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for him to be sent back to the farm.

SIDNER: (INAUDIBLE) is split down the middle. Republicans on one side, Democrats on the other.

What is it that you know about King?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly, I don't know an awful lot about King. I really don't. So I can't tell you. I couldn't be fair there.

SIDNER: Any thoughts on who you might vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm a very strong Republican right now. And to be fair, I just believe that we are going the right way.

SIDNER: As for that conservative couple we first met, Scholten gave it his best shot. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should I vote for you?

SCHOLTEN: Why should you vote for me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

SCHOLTEN: The biggest thing is your health care costs are going out of control and we have to get a grasp on it somehow.

SIDNER: Then, hop back on the bus headed for the next town.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Sioux City, Iowa.

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WHITFIELD: And Mother Nature could take a toll at the polls. Over 38 million people may see severe weather on Election Day. Where we could see the biggest impact next.

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[14:57:40] WHITFIELD: Early, an absentee voting records are being shattered this election season. More than 30 million votes have already been cast. The voters waiting until Election Day, well, they can face some rough weather including some key battleground states. Some 38 million people will be under severe weather alerts on Tuesday. Weather could also be a factor in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Meteorologist Tom Sater is joining me now.

So Tom, where might the biggest impact be?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it looks like, Fredricka, rain can be expected in every state east of the Mississippi river on Election Day. Now we don't want the rain or the snow to keep you from voting, but we do want you to be safe. If you have the option between voting early in the morning or later in the afternoon, weather is going to make up your mind for you.

This is a current radar. Thunderstorms in Louisiana. Snow in Michigan. Here we have in Minnesota. Northern Wisconsin, I think we are going to find that to be the case up there.

That is not the rain we are going to be dealing with. The next storm comes out of the Rockies. So as this moves through, we are going to show you a couple of mottles and stop it at the certain times of the day.

7:00 a.m. election morning. Heavy rainfall in the Tennessee and Ohio valley. So if you can, you may want to wait until the afternoon period. So let's front (ph) moves. Anyone to the east, you may want to vote earlier in the morning because this obviously is going to be moving in the afternoon.

Heavy rain in Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, back into areas of eastern Kentucky. Then we are going to be watching what is going to happen in the southeast. A big voting day, of course, for the governorships, Georgia and the Florida. We could have the severe weather set up. That's just one model.

I'm going to break it down a little bit further for you. The second model brings it in earlier, about 700 a.m. It is already past Cincinnati and Indianapolis. But that knot moves through rather quickly.

To give you an idea of what out big concern it, notice the heavier rain, down to the southeastern states across all of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio. This could be a deterrent maybe and put the heavy rain in Ohio and to Pennsylvania. But let's talk about the severe weather.

Again, the last thing we want are long lines of people outdoors when a severe weather set up that could have damaging winds and isolated tornados. And this is what it is going to look like, Fredricka and towards the Tuesday morning period. But it slides quickly to the east.

So if you live in the east, vote in the morning. If you live of course in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, you may want to wait until afternoon.

WHITFIELD: My goodness. Great advice. And fair warning for all.

Thanks so much, Tom Sater. Appreciate it.

SATER: Sure.

[15:00:01] WHITFIELD: We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.