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Final Days of Campaigning for U.S. Elections; Trump Demonizes Migrants; Iran to Face Renewed U.S. Sanctions; Florida Yoga Shooter Clues; Services Honor Pittsburgh Synagogue Victims; Missouri Senate Race Could Swing Balance of Power; A House Divided by the White House: The Conway Family Feud. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired November 4, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. midterm elections, just around the corner. And the U.S. president's closing pitch to voters, centered on immigration.

In Iran, people take to the streets, protesting the new U.S. sanctions now looming.

Also ahead this hour, a deadly shooting at a yoga studio in the state of Florida. What police are now revealing about the gunman.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: America's choice, the midterm elections just two days away now and though voters will be picking dozens of governors and hundreds of lawmakers for both chambers of Congress, for many voters, this referendum is about one person.

The U.S. president, Donald Trump, Mr. Trump out on the campaign trail, hitting the campaign trail hard, pushing to get Republican voters out to the polls come Tuesday. The former President of the United States, Barack Obama, also out rallying hard, getting people to go out and vote.

The outcome of their efforts could potentially shift the balance of power in Washington, D.C. President Trump has at least five rallies scheduled between now and Election Day. He'll be crisscrossing the country with one familiar theme in mind, immigration.


TRUMP: When you look at that caravan and I'm good at building, when you look at that caravan coming up, that's not what we want, that's not for us, folks. 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.


HOWELL: And in the final days before the midterms, President Trump's main calling card, as you heard there, at that campaign rally focused on fear around the topic of immigration. And a moving target to say the least. Jeff Zeleny was at a rally Saturday in Montana.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump rallying supporters here in Montana, speaking for more than an hour, going after specifically Democratic Senator Jon Tester. That is why the president is here. It is why he's come to Montana four times since July.

The race is personal with Senator Tester. He also talked about immigration, repeatedly talking about the caravan at the border, saying it is an urgent crisis.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's to sign illegal immigrants up for free education, free welfare, free education.

And what do they really want?

The right to vote because they figure that's the way they stay in office forever.

It is the second caravan, which is made up of some very tough, young people. Very tough. Criminals in some cases.

In many cases, they will say do you have proof?

Yes, I have proof. They threw stones in the police's face. They hurt Mexican police. They hurt Mexican military very badly. They broke through. You saw it. It was on television. It was terrible.

And so Mexico is trying. They are trying, but we are different. We more than try. We have our military now on the border. I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight.


ZELENY: The applause on the immigration lines, though, not as loud as we heard in other parts of the country.

Final question, will this turn on national issues like immigration or more local issues like access to health care, access to public lands?

President Trump made clear his fight against Jon Tester is a vengeance, is a personal one.

The question is, though, will Montanans support someone that they have for 12 years, he's running for a third term in the Senate, or will they side with President Trump's candidate, Matt Rosendale?


HOWELL: Joining now to talk more about this is Holly Cooper. Holly, the co-director of the University of California at Davis Immigration Law Center, joining us in California at this hour.

Thank you for your time. This is clearly a topic that the U.S. president continues to push on the campaign trail. It is, again, how he opened his campaign when he first announced that he was running for the White House.

Listen to the latest gross generalization of President Trump's --


HOWELL: -- view about the migrant caravan. We'll talk about it here in a moment.


TRUMP: 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.


HOWELL: Again, so we'll talk about the rocks part in a moment but this gross generalization, that they're all criminals, most of them maybe, the president says, what is your concern here about where this rhetoric could become policy and even action against these migrants?

HOLLY COOPER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER: Well, I've been working with immigrants crossing the U.S.- Mexican border for 20 years and, in my experience, most people are coming here based upon legitimate fear in their home country, whether it is Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or any other country in the world.

It is very rare that someone crosses the border with any type of criminal intent. It has been found by credible sources to be unsubstantiated and obviously it is fearmongering to create policy that will affect people who otherwise have no other option but to flee for their lives.

HOWELL: Again, we heard the U.S. president in that previous sound bite talk about throwing rocks at Mexican officials. President Trump has backtracked on this suggestion that the U.S. military might shoot migrants as they approached the border if they throw rocks. Listen to the before and then the backtrack after.


TRUMP: They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We're going to consider it. I told them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say, consider it a rifle.

If they do that with us, they're going to be arrested. There's going to be problem. I didn't say shoot. But if they do that with us, they're going to be arrested for a long time.


HOWELL: U.S. military officials push back. The U.S. military can't shoot or intervene. They only support local authorities.

So do you see this as simply dog whistle campaign rhetoric, say something and slap it down later, or is there something more here in your view?

COOPER: In my view, it is to instill fear in the people who are migrating. If you tell people you're going to shoot them upon arrival, (INAUDIBLE) individuals who they probably have very little control over, then I think what you're doing is instilling such a great fear because most people are so heavily traumatized, they're coming out of these countries but the last thing they want to do is confront potential -- at least unauthorized lethal force which, in my mind, would be a criminal offense on the U.S. Mexican border.

So he's trying to deter migration. It is very clear in my mind. That's been what he's said is his intent all along, and executive orders, policy statements and media releases, they're trying to deter migration and that -- what greater deterrence than there is that they're going to use lethal force against you when you arrive at the U.S. Mexican border.

HOWELL: It is very important as you point out to consider the audience. There is the campaign audience here in the United States and, of course, the audience of people, the people who are risking life and limb to travel to get to the U.S. border looking for jobs, looking for a better life as you describe there.

President Trump has been promising to change the 14th Amendment, the birthright issue has been front and center to him and this has been telescoped -- telegraphed as well.

How might attorneys respond to this and what can he do legally on this issue?

COOPER: I won't advise what President Trump can do legally because, in my mind, there is no way to issue an executive order or a policy change that would affect a constitutional right that was enshrined, in large part, to protect African Americans in this country and to make crystal clear to our country that they are, in fact, citizens.

And so to take away an amendment that has been such a bulwark of not only citizenship rights but due process rights would be an impossibility. There are legal machinations one can do to repeal or pass another amendment to the Constitution.

But it would require two-thirds passed in the House and Senate as well as ratification by a number of states. So I don't see it as a realistic option for the Trump administration.

HOWELL: Holly Cooper, we appreciate your time and perspective today, thank you.

COOPER: Thank you. Thank you, George.

HOWELL: And, of course, you can join us this Tuesday night, extensive coverage of the U.S. midterm elections, starts at 5:00 pm Eastern time, goes --


HOWELL: -- of course, until we get the results until all is known, right here on CNN.

Now to Iran, leaders there are holding anti-American protests, this one day before U.S. sanctions go into effect. The United States reinstating sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal. President Trump pulled out of that agreement earlier this year.

The sanctions go into effect again Monday. They take aim at Iran's ports, shipbuilders and, crucially, its oil sector. CNN is live in Iran. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen on the ground in the nation's capital, Tehran.

Fred, what is the mood there among hardliners and moderates, who brokered the original deal ahead of the sanctions that are now looming?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, obviously with some of the rhetoric they have been hearing from President Trump over the past couple of days in the run-up to the sanctions being put in place, there is a lot of anger toward President Trump and the Trump administration but also especially at the demo we were at today, a lot of defiance as well.

There's a lot of people saying they're going to stand up to the United States, they believe they can stand up to the United States and that they will see all of this through.

There was a very, very angry mood there at the demonstration, a lot of posters depicting President Trump in various poses and also Iranian leaders, essentially defeating President Trump, being one of the themes as well.

Just yesterday, Iran's supreme leader, he went on national television here and he came out with a very strong statement, saying that he believes the U.S. is in decline and Iran will persevere. Here is what he said.


AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER (through translator): The U.S. is much weaker today than it was 40 years ago when the revolution was victorious. The power of the U.S. is on the decline. This is the important point. Most of the world's politicians and global affairs analysts believe

that the U.S. soft power is worn out. It's being destroyed.


PLEITGEN: Those are the words from the hardliners, from the more conservative forces here in Iran, George.

Of course, you were asking about the moderates as well, the government here, under president Hassan Rouhani. They are still putting a brave face on this. They also say they're going to see all of this through. So far they certainly aren't buckling under any of the pressure they're feeling from the Trump administration.

But, of course, a lot of regular folks are quite concerned about the economic situation. There already has been a severe downturn with first group of sanctions that the U.S. put in place a couple of months ago with a lot of international companies pulling out. The currency plummeting, a lot of things getting more expensive.

And a lot of Iranians fear there could be more of the same with these new sanctions put in place. One of the things they're hedging some hopes on is the fact that there seems to be some sanctions waivers the U.S. is willing to put in place. But how far those will go for Iran to be able to salvage some of the finances is up in the air so far.

But certainly a lot of Iranians are bracing for some pretty tough times ahead -- George.

HOWELL: A sense of the mood on the ground. Fred Pleitgen, live in Tehran, Iran, thank you for the reporting.

Let's get some context of all of this with Sanam Vakil, a senior consulting research fellow for the Middle East at Chatham House, a think tank, live in our London bureau.

Thank you for taking time with us. The strategy we're seeing by the Trump White House, it seems to be focused on strangling the Iranian economy and forcing that nation to make concessions.

What is your view about this approach?

SANAM VAKIL, CHATHAM HOUSE: I'm a bit doubtful that this approach is going to be successful because Iran has been through many years of sanctions, if not decades. The last round of sanctions from 2012 until the nuclear deal was signed in 2016 didn't necessarily result in a change of Iranian behavior.

Iran came to the table because of calculations with regards to its nuclear program, not because of the economic pressure or because of its commitment to its regional activities.

And the Trump administration really believes that this hard-nosed economic pressure is going to weaken Iran internally and going to push Iran to retreat. And evidence -- past evidence doesn't really prove that. HOWELL: And, look, there are certain nations that the U.S. has granted waivers, to temporarily continue but wind down doing business with Iran. The E.U. nations there not part of the waivers. The E.U. planning to continue its relationships.

Does this undermine the U.S. approach toward isolating Iran?

VAKIL: Definitely. This is not a similar situation as in 2012, which was a multilateral effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table and to punish Iran for its nuclear program.

Right now the Trump administration is really operating all on its own. And it had promised to bring Iranian oil exports down to zero and it had been operating sort of as an island. And it is recognizing very --


VAKIL: -- clearly by granting waivers that it can't operate and isolate Iran unilaterally. And it is only through multilateral partnerships that Iran and the United States and the international community can come to the next agreement, if they're going to get there.

HOWELL: The tightening economy there in Iran, how does that affect younger Iranians, people who had some optimism about the previous nuclear deal, that had really opened that nation to more investment?

How does it affect moderates as well, people who pushed for this deal?

VAKIL: I think that we really have to imagine how frustrated young Iranians must feel today. They have grown up knowing nothing else than the Islamic Republic and they voted two times now in overwhelming margins to support President Rouhani and the Iranian nuclear agreement, which was designed to promote international agreements and engagement that would regenerate Iran's economy and bring Iran back, slowly and gradually.

And I think those are the points that I would really like to emphasize. They must be feeling so frustrated, so disappointed and hopeless, really, that they're back on this hamster wheel with very few outlets.

And I think that anger is directed, of course, to the Trump administration. And I'm sure people are also feeling deeply frustrated with our government at home and really don't know what to do.

HOWELL: Sanam Vakil, thank you for your time, with Chatham House live in our London bureau, we appreciate it.

VAKIL: Thank you.

HOWELL: New details coming to light about a man who opened fire at a Florida yoga studio. Some online videos and they provide clues. We have details on that. And honoring the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Mourners around the world holding memorials. Stay with us.





HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

We're learning more about a man who police say opened fire at a yoga studio in the state of Florida. Two women were killed Friday in that shooting, five others were wounded.

"The New York Times" reports the 40-year-old suspect posted several racist and misogynist YouTube videos back in 2014. Our Dianne Gallagher has more on the details.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Federal, state and local authorities are still trying to figure out what the connection is between the 40-year-old gunman and the people who were simply practicing yoga on a Friday evening in Tallahassee.

Now according to authorities, 40-year-old Scott Beierle posed as a customer, that he was going to go in, take a class, and then began firing a handgun indiscriminately at people in that Hot Yoga studio.

They say that some of the people who were in there trying to attack him before he turned the gun on himself, killing himself.

Now there were six people who were shot, one person who was pistol whipped and two of those victims died: 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem, she was a doctor, an internist, the chief medical director at Capital Health Plan, she also was part of the FSU faculty.

And Maura Binkley, a 21-year-old double major, English and German, at Florida State University. Her sorority, Tri-Delta, posted that she embodied the Tri-Delta woman; she was brave, bold and kind. She is from the Atlanta area, she graduated from Dunwoody High School just three years ago.

And, again, they're trying to determine right now why. They do know he lived in Deltona, Florida, that he had served in the military in the past and had attended FSU as well.

In fact, Tallahassee police had dealt with this man before, with phone calls and complaints about harassing young women there. He lived in Deltona, Florida, a four-hour drive to Tallahassee, got a hotel room in Tallahassee and, at this point, police do know why he came into the yoga studio.

They're going through his social media, electronics and home back in Deltona to try to find a connection.


HOWELL: Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

A mayor from the U.S. state of Utah has been killed while serving with the Utah National Guard in Afghanistan.

Brent Taylor had temporarily stepped down as mayor of North Ogden to deploy for a fourth tour of duty. Initial reports indicate Taylor was killed in Kabul Saturday by a member of the Afghan national defense and security forces.

The attacker reportedly was killed by other Afghan soldiers. Taylor marked his 15th wedding anniversary last month; he leaves behind seven children.

It has now been one week since the deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jewish communities around the world came together for services this weekend remembering and honoring the 11 victims.

In a sermon on Saturday, a Pittsburgh rabbi blamed politicians for a rise in divisive rhetoric. He says that he told Donald Trump last week that hate speech leads to hateful actions. Our Alisyn Camerota spoke with him.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Are you scared when you see this building?


How dare you defile our holy space?

I'm a witness. I'm a victim. 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.


HOWELL: From Pittsburgh and now to Israel, a vigil held there, a show of solidarity for the victims. CNN's Ian Lee spoke with mourners there, many who had ties to Pittsburgh.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ra'anana is Pittsburgh strong tonight, despite the Steel City being thousands of miles away, couldn't be closer to their hearts.


LEE (voice-over): Avishai Ostrin lost his uncle, Jerry Rabinowitz, at the Tree of Life Synagogue. "When shots were heard, instead of hiding or trying to escape, Uncle

Jerry ran toward the inferno, to assist the wounded," his nephew says.

RONI WEIL, FORMER PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: This is the single worst attack in American Jewish history.

LEE (voice-over): It took a Pittsburgher so far from home and feeling lost to rally the community.

WEIL: I felt like my heart had literally just been torn into two. My community, my home had just literally been ripped apart.

LEE (voice-over): Her call was answered. But through the grief, a charge to politicians in this midterm season, to unite, not divide, not to single out what makes us different for political gain but embrace our commonalities.

WEIL: There is such strength in America, such strength in Americans and Jews and even non-Jews that are reaching out. You know how the Muslim community raised so much money to help us out. There is beauty in America, how other people can help Jews when they don't have that everywhere else in the world.

LEE (voice-over): In the aftermath of terror attacks against Jews overseas, many think of packing up. Karen Anisfeld offers a Pittsburgh lesson.

KAREN ANISFELD, FORMER PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: I feel safe going back to the United States. But there is a huge tear in society. And the one thing that I think Pittsburgh demonstrates to the world, a light unto the nations, is that a strong community is a fortification.

LEE (voice-over): A fortification no gun or hate can destroy -- Ian Lee, CNN, Ra'anana, Israel.


HOWELL: Live around the world and here in the United States, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still ahead, we talk a great deal about many of the races here in the U.S. midterms but one in particular may hold a key to all the rest. We'll explain.

Plus, voter suppression, a serious concern of many voters, one group will tell us their take. Stay with us.





HOWELL: Coast to coast here in the United States, good morning and to our viewers around the world, good day to you. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.


HOWELL: Obviously a lot of attention and focus on the midterm elections in the United States, just two days away. It means that campaigning across the country is at a fever pitch, one of the tightest races in the state of Missouri.

That's where the Democratic senator Claire McCaskill is trying to fend off her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley. They're contesting a seat that could swing control of the U.S. Senate.

It is so important the U.S. president went to Missouri Thursday to rally in support of Hawley. And Mr. Trump will be back there on Monday. Our Dana Bash has more.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Claire McCaskill rolling deep in rural conservative Missouri in search of every possible vote to send her back to the Senate.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I mean, we're realistic about this. It's not that anybody believes I'm going to be able to win Jasper County.

But you know what we can do?

We can win a few more votes because I've got news for you, it's close.

BASH (voice-over): in many ways it's a political miracle this two- term Senate Democrat even represents this red state President Trump won by nearly 20 points. She first won in 2006, a Democratic wave year and again in 2012 after GOP opponent Todd Akin talked of "legitimate rape."

MCCASKILL: Health care is on the ballot.

BASH (voice-over): Like many Democrats in tough races, she tries to stay focused on health care and preserving ObamaCare's protections for preexisting conditions. Her GOP opponent, Josh Hawley, says he supports them, too, but he's part of a lawsuit that could strike down those protections. He's casting the race as a clear choice.

JOSH HAWLEY (R), SENATE CANDIDATE: We don't like the Washington establishment. We think that there needs to be a shakeup in both parties. And, you know, voters were very adamant about that. And this campaign is really about that.

BASH (voice-over): Hawley is a staunch Trump supporter, elected Missouri attorney general just two years ago. The blunt McCaskill regularly launches one-liners at her 38-year-old Ivy League educated challenger. MCCASKILL: As Ronald Reagan said, I'm not going to try -- I'm going to try not to hold his youth and inexperience against him. He may be a Yale educated lawyer but I'm a Missou educated lawyer and I can keep up.

BASH (voice-over): She's running on her experience yet running from the left wing of her own party.

MCCASKILL: It may irritate some of you in this room that I am proud that I'm a moderate. There may be people in this room that think I am not liberal enough to carry the banner of this party.

BASH: You have a radio ad out saying that you're not one of those "crazy" Democrats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): And Claire is not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise.


BASH: What does that mean?

MCCASKILL: Well, the crazy Democrats are the people who are getting in the face of elected officials in restaurants and screaming at them. The crazy Democrats is whoever put a swastika on one of Josh Hawley's signs in rural Missouri. That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about, the extreme stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Claire McCaskill and the radical Left from passing their social agenda.

BASH (voice-over): Tying her to liberal Democratic leaders is the centerpiece of Hawley's campaign, seizing on her votes against both of President Trump's Supreme Court nominees.

BASH: That was a big deal?

HAWLEY: Big deal. Very big deal.

BASH: Like that could make the difference?


HAWLEY: Yes, I do. Very big deal.

BASH: In what way?

HAWLEY: Because I think voters were so appalled by what they -- just appalled by the smear campaign.

BASH: She did say how she would vote before the hearing and all of that.

HAWLEY: Right. She was honest in saying that she was voting against Justice Kavanaugh because he was a conservative.

BASH (voice-over): She said she voted no because Kavanaugh has supported unlimited campaign cash.

MCCASKILL: And I would be a big hypocrite if I voted for Kavanaugh because of dark money.

BASH (voice-over): She's making an effort to connect with Trump voters she needs to win in other ways, like on immigration.

MCCASKILL: The impression he's giving Missourians is somehow the Democrats are in favor of our border being overrun. I am not. I support the president 100 percent doing what he needs to do to secure the border.

BASH (voice-over): Rallying supporters to get out the vote, the Democrat reminded them she's beaten Missouri's odds before.

MCCASKILL: And because of all of you and your commitment, they're going to say, that Claire McCaskill, she's done it again.

BASH (voice-over): Dana Bash, CNN, Kansas City, Missouri.


HOWELL: Thank you so much, Dana.

So the question, what would happen if Democrats take the majority of the House of Representatives or even the Senate?

Our Tom Foreman takes a look at the possible outcomes there.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All sorts of legislation that Republicans are counting on, from the U.S. House of Representatives under this Republican president could be up in the air if Democrats take control of that chamber.

Plans for immigration reform, new trade deals, maybe changes to welfare and Social Security, too, or even new tax cuts could come to a grinding halt and be dependent on Democratic support to get started again.

And if the Democrats flip the U.S. Senate, well, the courts could be facing a very different situation. Right now, the president is marching conservative judges onto benches all across this country. But from the Supreme Court on down, that, too, could stop unless he were willing to pick more moderate judges.

Of course the president could have much bigger problems; if the Democrats get either chamber they could reinvigorate all sorts of investigations into his administration.

That means investigations into things like the election meddling by the Russians, conflicts of interest, allegations of misuse of tax money, sexual assault allegations, controversial policies, all of it, they could even touch on the idea of going after an impeachment of this president.

It doesn't mean they would get it; it certainly doesn't mean they could get a conviction out of it. But it could all prove very time consuming and embarrassing for the president and it could all start in the midterm elections.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman, thank you.

Now let's talk about the midterms with Natasha Lindstaedt, a government professor at the University of Essex in England.

Thank you so much for your time today.


HOWELL: So the U.S. president focusing in on fears around the migrant caravan, it is literally a moving target for him; thousands of men, women and children trying to make their way north toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

He's talking immigration, Natasha, over some really positive job numbers that just came out that any other previous administration might have seized on. What do you make of this strategy?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I mean, any politician or president you would think when they -- would want to focus on the economy and that the fact that the economy is doing not just jobs, lowest unemployment rate in a long time but that the economy seems to be doing well.

But Trump wants to cater to his voters and he wants to play to their fears. And the image of that plays on FOX News almost daily, of this caravan coming, that there are invaders that are coming to the country and that he's going to protect them from these invaders, seems to really resonate with his supporters.

And he's banking on the idea that that's what is going to actually bring them to the polls, the fear that, if they don't, something is going to happen.

And the issue with that, though, is that this is something, you know, focusing on fear tactics and this caravan doesn't play very well within independents and actually repels the Democrats.

And so the question always is, for the Democrats, will the Democrats actually get their supporters to come to the polls to vote?

HOWELL: It is interesting. There was also that ad that the president was trying to run on CNN -- CNN didn't run it, it was one of those things, looks like a duck, quacks look a duck, might be racist. It was racist and we didn't run it.

The midterm elections shaping up to be a referendum on Donald Trump; while some think it could be great voter turnout, the stakes are high, more than 400 seats in play in both the House and the Senate.

Dozens of governor seats at stake, including here in the state of Georgia, where the state secretary of state, Brian Kemp, is in a tight race against Stacey Abrams, who could be --


HOWELL: -- the first black woman to become a governor in the United States.

One big concern, though, here in Georgia and especially among many African American voters, the issue of voter suppression. I want you to listen to a bit of a conversation that I had with a group of voters here, trying to get the word out about challenges around voting.


JOE BEASLEY, VOTER: We say we want people to vote. But then we put these barriers out.

HELEN BUTLER, GEORGIA COALITION FOR THE PEOPLE'S AGENDA: As communities of color, there is the photo ID, there is the cross-check, matching -- there is the exact Social Security match that is precinct consolidation.

LYNDON WALTER, GEORGIA COALITION FOR THE PEOPLE'S AGENDA: There's an extra layer that, 20 years ago, voters weren't having to go through those hoops.

BEASLEY: Personally myself, from the plantation, we determined we're not going back.


HOWELL: That statement there from Joe Beasley, a civil rights leader here in Atlanta, saying we will not go back.

But with Georgia's secretary of state being sued for policies that restrict the vote, how big of an impact could voter suppression have here and in other states?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, voter registration laws in the U.S. are -- have always been very problematic and, in this midterm, there are eight states with new voter registration laws, which creates all kinds of confusion.

And just to look at the case of Georgia, they have this exact match protocol, which means that your voting records have to match exactly the government records. And if there is any kind of typo or error, that can prevent someone from actually voting and having their say.

We also are seeing that there are four states that are really aggressively purging voters with out-of-date registration, which is perfectly legal but this is going to be really problematic if they do it accidentally. And there could be many cases of people that have been accidentally purged and then not able to vote. HOWELL: We talked about Republicans, let's talk about Democrats now. The topics they're seizing on.

What are the policies that they're running on?

Or are they running against the U.S. president and, between those two themes, which motivates voters more?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think the Democrats can't ignore the fact that Trump is a very unpopular president, particularly with Democratic supporters. And his approval rating is around 40 percent, which is very low. So Trump is always going to be a big issue. But what the Democrats are trying to focus on is health care.

And they are focusing on this particular issue because it is incredibly important to voters. Voters are worried about all kinds of things that may happen if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate and the House regarding what could happen to the health care situation in the United States.

And if they continue to focus on this and to have a clear message, it looks like, for the Democrats, they will be able to take the House. Of course, the Senate is very up in the air but it is likely to go to -- to remain with the Republicans.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, we appreciate your time and perspective, live for us in England, we appreciate it and we'll stay in touch with you.

LINDSTAEDT: Thank you.

HOWELL: U.S. voters are gearing up for Tuesday's midterm elections. But the weather could certainly be an impact there. We'll have Election Day forecast expectations. Stay with us.





HOWELL: We have been talking a lot about the midterm elections and, you know what, the weather could certainly play a factor in parts of the United States.


HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, they say a house divided cannot stand.

But what if it is political and it involves an outspoken Trump staffer?

We'll take a look next. (MUSIC PLAYING)




HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

The White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump's most loyal defenders. And lately she might have to defend him from someone very close to home, her own husband. Jeanne Moos takes a look at an intriguing family feud there.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Some families feud against other families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to "Celebrity Family Feud."

MOOS: But this is an internal family feud. She is the president's pit bull.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) how dare you and how dare the president.

CONWAY: No, no dare you.

MOOS: While her husband, the guy holding her coat, is also holding President Trump's feet to the fire, writing critical op-ed and essays and especially tweets describing the president's positions using words like absurd, flabbergasting, ceaseless, shameless and witless prevarication on virtually all topics.

BASH: What is up with your husband's tweets?

CONWAY: It's fascinating to me that CNN would go there. It's now fair game what people's -- how people's spouses and significant others may differ. It was meant to harass and embarrass. But let me just tell you something --

BASH: Absolutely not.

MOOS (voice-over): In a "Washington Post" article headline, she works for Trump --


MOOS (voice-over): -- he can't stand him, Kellyanne said of her husband's anti-Trump tweeting, "I think it's disrespectful. I think it disrespects his wife."


MOOS: No disrespect from her boss, who sends her out to fight the lions.

TRUMP: There is no den she will not go into.

MOOS: Imagine the den at home when she gets back from work.

George Conway is a respected lawyer and conservative who once represented Paula Jones --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, girls.

MOOS: In her case against Bill Clinton.

MOOS (on camera): Sometimes George's tweets inspire uninvited relationship advice.

MOOS (voice over): Suggestions like, "Divorce her," "George and you and Melania should start a chat room for useless spouses."

Maybe someday the Conways can do what Mary Matalin and James Carville did. This political odd couple turned their marriage into a cottage industry of commentary and books.

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: James and I needed space, mostly from each other.

MOOS: At least George probably hasn't stopped holding Kellyanne's coat, even if the fur is flying -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: Now to another couple, Britain's Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in Ghana, the royal couple touring commonwealth nations in West Africa. It is the prince's first tour since he was named the next head of the commonwealth back in April.

Earlier the couple visited Gambia and they will wrap up their trip in Nigeria.

Thank you so much for being with us for this hour of the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. My colleague, Bianca Nobilo, is on deck next hour, live from London. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.