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THE SITUATION ROOM
Georgia Candidate for Governor Accuses Democrats of Hacking; Republican Use Racism Rhetoric in the Final Days of Campaign; Republicans to Keep Control of Senate; CNN's Exclusive Interview with Jamal Khashoggi's Sons; Update on the Texas Senate Race. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 4, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[17:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's a CNN exclusive.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
We begin with breaking news, the last-minute surprise in the closely watched Georgia governor's race. The Republican candidate Brian Kemp, who's also Georgia's secretary of state, says there was, "a failed attempt to hack the state's voter registration system Saturday evening while offering no evidence or specifics."
Kemp's campaign says the Georgia Democratic Party is now being investigated and that, "this was a fourth quarter Hail Mary pass that was intercepted in the end zone. Thanks to the systems and protocols established by the Secretary of State Brian Kemp, no personal information was breached."
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is joining us now live from Augusta, Georgia, where the Democrat in this race has an event in the next hour. The Democratic Party says they didn't create or attempt to hack the system. So, how is Stacey Abrams responding, first of all, to this investigation?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. The Democratic Party is saying that these are scurrilous claims. They're 100 percent false. That the Democratic Party did not create, discover, or attempt to take advantage of this deeply vulnerable system used by the Secretary of State's office, as they say. This morning, Stacey Abrams was on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper and reacted to the news of this investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, GEORGIA: I've 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 allow absentee ballots to be counted and those who are being held captive by the (inaudible) 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 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're going to outvote him. And we're going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: Wolf, you made the note the Secretary of State's office is offering no evidence to explain why they're investigating the Georgia Democratic Party in this probe, but the campaign being much more direct in saying that Democrats tried to expose vulnerabilities in Georgia's voter registration system.
We have to delineate between Brian Kemp and his capacity as Secretary of State versus Brian Kemp as gubernatorial candidate and his campaign staff. So what you see here after hearing the words from Stacey Abrams, both Republicans and Democrats playing the P.R. game, trying to motivate their already very polarized bases in the last two days before this election.
BLITZER: All right, Kaylee. Thanks very much. Kaylee Hartung in Georgia for us. I've got a group of political analysts here to discuss this and a whole lot more. Joining us, Mark Preston, let's start with you right away. What do you think of this explosive 11th hour charge by the Kemp campaign?
MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, without any evidence, I think that pulling a pin out and rolling a hand grenade into a group of people is really, really insane, unless there's some truth to it. The fact of the matter is they need to come up with evidence and they need to come up with evidence now.
I do hope that however this is resolved, I hope it's clean. I hope that if it did happen, if in fact it did happen, that they cleanly can point to evidence that it did happen. If, in fact, it didn't happen, that they can point to that as well because otherwise, it's going to create this muddled water that Donald Trump has done so well as doing the last couple of years.
BLITZER: Yes, Julie, there's been a lot of criticism of Kemp over these past several weeks. He's got two jobs, the Secretary of State and he's running obviously for governor. There could be a conflict.
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: There's absolutely the potential of a conflict here. I mean, as Secretary of State for Georgia, he's the one that would have the evidence that Mark speaks of here. He would have access to this kind of information. He's making a pretty explosive allegation, not providing any back-up material.
It could potentially backfire because it could, again, expose this potential conflict, which has been really at the center of Stacey Abrams' campaign on all of the ways that the access that the has through this job could benefit his campaign unfairly. CHRIS CILLIZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER _EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Look, it is
absolutely true. We know for a fact, that Brian Kemp's office, and you can argue about this, but Brian Kemp's office sought to purge the voter rolls, which most Republican secretaries of state do. They say that there is a lot of people on here who shouldn't be, there's duplication.
And he tried to get people whose signatures didn't directly match, to not be included in voting. Both of those things have been overturned. I just -- and I'm echoing Mark and Julie here, but I just -- if you are going to say not only the election apparatus was attempted to be hacked, but also Democrats we know did it.
[17:05:04] You got to -- in my mind, that announcement has to come with the announcement of, and here's why we know. Because otherwise, you know, we've seen this all the time. An allegation gets made two days before the election and then 10 days after the election, it wasn't anything.
You know, that's the danger here where people feel as though they're being played with for purely political motives. Again, if you know not only it was hacked but it was Democrats, release the information, I mean.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, let's move on and talk about the Florida governor's race. Georgia is a critically sensitive Republican/Democratic race right now, but Florida as well. Listen to the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. He made a rather awkward comment when he was out campaigning for the Republican candidate Ron DeSantis. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SONNY PERDUE, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Public policy matters. Leadership matters. And that's why this election is so cotton-picking important to the state of Florida. I hope you all don't mess it up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: Cotton picking important, in a race involving an African- American, the Democratic candidate is running for governor.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Someone who's a former governor of Georgia, a former governor of any state, anybody should know better than to use that in a racially charged campaign with an African-American candidate.
This comes on the heels right after the primary when the candidate, DeSantis, said to his voters on T.V., let's not monkey around and get Gillum elected. It comes on the same weekend the president draws the "H" in the air for Barack H. Obama and the president says Stacey Abrams, African-American woman running for governor, is not qualified.
BLITZER: Well, let me play some of those clips and Chris, listen closely to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's no surprise that Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H. Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZA: I mean, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on there. He has referred to Barack Obama any number of times in past speeches, and he didn't mention the "H," which his people watching know stands for Hussein, OK.
I mean I'd also say in addition to David's point about Abrams, Donald Trump has said that Andrew Gillum isn't qualified. The guy is mayor of Tallahassee. You can argue whether a mayor is qualified, but it's hard to say he's totally unqualified. And again, words matter. Donald Trump --
BLITZER: He said Gillum is a thief.
CILLIZA: Yes, I mean you -- words matter when you use phrases like "cotton picking," when you say "monkey around," when Donald Trump is quite clearly doing -- this is not an isolated incident. We know he does things like this, weaponizing race. When he draws the "H," when he says Andrew Gillum isn't qualified, when he says Stacey Abrams isn't qualified.
What's the common thread among the three people I just named, Barack Obama, Stacey Abrams, and Andrew Gillum? It's not complicated. They're all African-American. And Donald Trump knows that, knows how to walk the line so he's not outright saying it, saying it, but everyone in that audience knows he's talking about it.
SWERDLICK: But first I think he's one half step away from the outright at this point.
SWERDLICK: It's hard to come away with a conclusion other than part of the Republican closing argument here is division along racial lines. I will just point out that's governor -- excuse me, leader Abrams, the former leader of the -- the Democratic leader of the Georgia house, is a graduate of Yale Law school, the same law school that Justice Kavanaugh went to. President Trump never mentioned his qualifications.
CILLIZA: Just one other thing, give me -- if you're a Trump supporter, tell me why it's important to mention Barack Obama's middle name, in that context. What other reason could it be?
PACE: I do think it's important to delineate between Trump's closing argument and the arguments among a lot of Republicans. For a lot of Republicans, this is not what they want to see because -- especially on the House side, because this House contest is being fought in suburban districts where you have independent voters, more moderate Republicans who are turned off by this.
So at the same time that Trump may be riling up his base and encouraging his base to get out there and using racially charged language to do it, it is going to be turning off potentially a huge segment of the voting bloc that Republicans need if they have any chance of keeping the House.
PRESTON: You know, and to that point too and to shift back to the Georgia governor's race, we could see that in the Atlanta suburbs, where the suburbs had been populated over the last 20 to 25 years from folks who have transplanted from the north as corporations have moved down there because of better business environments.
Well, we're starting to see that now come to fruition when people come in, they're starting to vote and start to bring down their northern values so to speak, more liberal views down at the south (ph). That's why we're seeing this new south, the potential for a new south with the likes of Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum right now on the cusp of making history in both states and across the country.
BLITZER: Let me play this clip. Now, this is Stacey Abrams. She's running as the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. This is what she told Jake Tapper earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:10:00] ABRAMS: He's wrong. As President Obama pointed out, I am the most qualified candidate running. If you look at both my academic background, my work history, I've been deputy city attorney. I was the Democratic leader for seven years. I've been successful as a businesswoman, as a writer, and as a tax attorney. I know what I'm talking about, and I have the plans to prove it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, how do you explain the president simply saying she's unqualified?
SWERDLICK: I mean, again, to go back to what Chris is saying, it's hard to draw any other inference than he is looking at an African- American woman running and saying this is a person where I can land the punch of unqualified without actually explicitly saying something racial. I will note that in that interview with jake this morning, Stacey Abrams didn't take the bait.
I spoke to her campaign spokesperson earlier this morning, and she also went directly to, look, we have a track record of working across the aisle on health care, on education, on other issues. They did not want to take the bait. They want to go down the stretch saying if the Republicans are going to play this game, they're not going to get --
CILLIZA: Well, speaking of, you know, not necessarily qualified, I mean, Donald Trump, this is the first office he ever ran for. He had been a businessman before so, the qualifications we would traditionally associate with a politician, you've been in the state legislature, you've been a governor -- this is not someone who's ever had anything like that. So delineating it now given who we're talking about -- given that race has been an issue, seems a little bit like funny business.
BLITZER: The governor's races in Georgia and Florida, according to the polls, very, very close right now. We'll see what happens Tuesday night. Guys, thank you very much.
Coming up, two days until the midterms, and the control of the U.S. Senate is down to about six states still considered toss-ups. We're going to zero in on which ones are crucial for Democrats. We'll ask the chairman of the party's senatorial campaign committee what it will take to win on Tuesday.
Plus, a CNN exclusive interview with the two sons of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. How they went to honor his legacy -- how they want I should say to honor his legacy and why they still have faith, at least for now, in the Saudi king.
[17:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: President Trump is headed to Tennessee for his second rally of the day, part of a frenetic final get out the vote push before the midterms. When it comes to the Senate, it's advantage Republicans with key races in 10 states that the president carried just two years ago. CNN's John King breaks it down.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For all the midterm talk of a big blue wave, it is advantage Republicans, advantage to the president when you look at this map, the fight for control of the Senate. Why is that? Well this map has always been tilted against the Democrats because of the races at play this year.
Ten Democratic incumbents seeking re-election in states the president won just two years ago, some of them by 20, 30, even 40 points. So, always a tough challenge for the Democrats. Can they get a senate majority? They can, but it's very difficult.
We have it right now, 49 Republican, 45 Democrat. You see these six gold or yellow states on the board. Those are our toss-up states heading into the final weekend. All of these very close, competitive races. Here's the challenge for the Democrats. If nothing else changed, they would have to run the board.
The Democrats would literally have to run the board in these states. Pick them all. Get Florida, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, Arizona. That would get you 51-49. So, it is possible if the Democrats have a huge night Tuesday, they can retake the Senate. But this is why that seems unlikely or at least extraordinarily difficult.
In this scenario, Republicans only have to hold Tennessee, where Marsha Blackburn their candidate has been narrowly ahead in the late polls. If of the six toss-ups Republicans won only Tennessee, nothing else changed, that would be a 50/50 senate. The vice president would break the tie. The Republicans would still be in control.
That's why it's so difficult as you look at this final map in these six toss up states. Republicans think they'll hold. They actually think they can build, add seats. Even in a blue year, they think they can add seats. Why do they think that? Let's take a look at something here. In the House races, the president is a drag.
In the Senate races, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Tennessee for example, four of the six toss-ups, look at this, the president's numbers. You may say that's not great. Only in Tennessee is his approval rating above 53 percent, but it's higher than the national average in all of these states.
Plus, it's up from our last poll in Arizona, up from our last poll in Nevada, up from our last poll in Florida, up from our last poll in Tennessee. So late in the campaign when the president is focusing on the senate races, his standing in the states that matter is improving, which is why Republicans think we may lose the House, but we like this map. They think they'll at least hold, maybe gain, when it comes to the Senate.
BLITZER: John King at the magic wall. No one does it better. Thank you very much. Joining us now, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He is also the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Senator thanks so much for joining us. You say you have a narrow path to winning the Senate. You just heard John's report. How do you think that will happen that there could be 51 Democrats in the Senate, you'd have the majority?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: So Wolf, it's good to be with you. And the news for the Senate Democrats in this election is that we do have a narrow path to a Senate majority. If you were to ask people 18 months ago whether we'd be in this strong a position, they would have laughed.
Republicans were talking about winning a net eight seats, pickup in the United States Senate, getting a filibuster proof majority. But now we're competitive in a lot of these states that Trump won and there is this narrow path forward. You have to hold plus two and right now we've got about six, seven states that are toss-ups.
But the good news is that the early vote numbers across the country are very positive. You've got a good turnout among Democrats and independents and younger voters are turning in larger numbers than previous midterms so, we see good things in the early vote numbers.
[17:20:11] BLITZER: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, the Democratic senator, she seems very vulnerable right now. The polls show she's at a serious disadvantage.
VAN HOLLEN: Well Wolf, one thing everybody learned six years ago is never count Heidi Heitkamp out. She was down 10 points a week out in her last election. She came back, closed strong, and won. She's not 10 points back now. She's much closer than that. And so Heidi Heitkamp is somebody who fights every day for North Dakota. I should say, Wolf, in all the polling we've seen, all the surveys,
the issue that is top of mind for voters, and I mean across the board, is the issue of health security and making sure that the people are protected if they have pre-existing health conditions.
And Republicans have spent the last two years trying to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and that doesn't resonate well in North Dakota or anywhere else.
BLITZER: What about the economy because the jobs numbers, 3.7 percent unemployment, 250,000 jobs, created in October alone. The markets are pretty stable, pretty good right now. Isn't that a strong point for the Republicans?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Wolf, I think if you look at any graph, you'll see that the economy was on the rise during the Obama administration. We were on a strong upward trajectory. In fact, if you look at real wages, real wages grew faster during the second Obama term than they have so far in this Trump term. And that's because even though wages are going up, so are the costs of things like health care.
And so if you're an American out there trying to make your way every day it's really what's the purchasing power of your dollar, and compared to the last four years, the Obama administration has been as good for under the Trump administration. So, most people out there are still struggling to get by and a part of that struggle is trying to make sure that they're going to be protected on the health care front.
And when you've got Republicans talking about taking away these protections for people with pre-existing conditions, that hits home. That's very personal. And on top of that, you have the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying now that they ran up $2 trillion in debt with the big tax cut for corporations, they're going to come back and cut Medicare and social security and Medicaid and that doesn't play well either, understandably.
BLITZER: Yes, that budget deficit is growing very significantly. It could be a trillion dollars next year alone. Chris Van Hollen, the senator from Maryland, thanks very much for joining us.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: All right. A CNN exclusive interview coming up with the two sons of the slain journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Why they think their father's remains will be found soon, and what it was like to meet the man who many believe actually ordered his killing.
[17:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: A CNN exclusive. New tonight, two adult sons of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi are speaking to CNN about their father's death with Saudi officials now admit was a premeditated murder. It's been more than a month since "The Washington Post" columnist walked into Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and disappeared. His body has not yet been recovered. And the question whether the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman will be
among those held accountable for the journalist's death remains unanswered. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is joining us right now. Nic, you had a chance to personally speak with these two sons. What did they tell you?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INERNTIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, the first thing that impacts you when you speak to them, and I spoke to them quite extensively the past few days, is the emotional toll it's taken on them. The younger one, Abdullah, has lost a lot of weight. His older brother, Salah, very deep set on the eyes. You can tell this has taken a heavy emotional toll. We began there by talking about all the mystery, what it is that they actually know.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SALAH KHASHOGGI, SON OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI: It is a mystery and this is putting a lot of burden on us, all of us that everybody is seeking for information, just as we do. And they think that we have answers. Unfortunately, we don't.
ROBERTSON: Abdullah, we've heard from the Turkish government that have said that they believe that your father walked into the consulate, that he was choked, that he was then killed. From the Saudi government, we understand that he was killed.
ABDULLAH KHASHOGGI, SON OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI: Until now, it's vague, like it's the story -- like the details of what exactly happened inside. As you know, how the media, twitter, T.V. stations, everybody's telling a different story. And for me, I'm trying to simplify it as much as possible that he died. As simple as that and --
ROBERTSON: And you were the last one of your father's children to see him. You saw him two months ago in Turkey. How was he then?
[17:30:04] A. KHASHOGGI: He was happy. It was a very, like it was a very good opportunity for me to see him. We hung out in Istanbul. We had fun. I think I was really lucky to have that last moment with him.
ROBERTSON: How has all this been on your family, on your mother and your sisters?
A. KHASHOGGI: It is -- it's difficult. Like, it's not easy, especially when the story gets this big. It's not an easy -- it's confusing. Even the way we grieve, it's a bit confusing, like, because we're grieving. At the same time, we're looking at the media and the misinformation. There's a lot of ups and down. It's not a normal situation. Like, it's not normal at all.
S. KHASHOGGI: All we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi within Medina with the rest of his family.
ROBERTSON: In Saudi Arabia.
S. KHASHOGGI: In Saudi Arabia, yes. I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon. ROBERTON: But you need to find -- somebody needs to find his body.
S. KHASHOGGI: Yes. I believe that this issue is ongoing. I'm really hopeful about that.
ROBERTSON: What do you place your hope in?
S. KHASHOGGI: It's an Islamic tradition. It's not only Islamic, it's basic humanitarian issue. We just need to make sure that he rests in peace. Until now, I still can't believe that he's dead. I know -- I mean, it's not sinking in with me emotionally. He has deceased, for sure, but the emotional burden that's coming with the puzzle is really big.
ROBERTSON: When you went into your father's apartment here in the United States, you discovered something that made you realize just how important you, his grandchildren were to him. Can you tell us about that?
A. KHASHOGGI: Yes, I think going to his apartment that was maybe the most emotional moment I had, like in these past days. This picture, especially, it was next to his bed stand -- next to his bed, and his grandchildren, that's the last thing he looked at before he goes to bed. That thing shocked me. Not shock, but it showed us a new -- not new, but it put an emphasis on his gentle, tender side for loving his family, his grandkids and --
ROBERTSON: The last thing he would see at night was his grandchildren and he put that there so he would see it.
A. KHASHOGGI: Yes. It's as if something huge and it touched me personally like its -- and all the family when they knew about it.
ROBERTSON: What are you proudest of?
A. KHASHOGGI: He's always said the truth like a basic human -- just a good person, as simple as that. He was very brave. He was always out there. Like for me, he was like a rock and roll star as a journalist.
ROBERTSON: Because he was sort of pushing the system at the time.
A. KHASHOGGI: Yeah, and he's always pushing. He was always -- yes he was brave.
ROBERTSON: There have been people who have been trying to sort of create a different impression about him, a different legacy, allegations that he was sort of supporting the Muslim brotherhood.
S. KHASHOGGI: I don't believe so. (Inaudible)
A. KHASHOGGI: I used to tease him. The last time I was in Turkey, I used to tease him like, oh, I read this on twitter. They're saying you're Muslim brotherhood. Where is your beard? He laughs and goes in details. I'm not Muslim brotherhood because of this, this, this.
ROBERTSON: And he said that to you? A. KHASHOGGI: Yes. And it's just labels or just people not doing
their homework properly, reading his article, going in depth. So it's just easier for them to stick a label on him like, oh, you're something, you're that, you're that, you're that.
ROBERTSON: Can you tell us about that meeting with the crown prince and the king?
S. KHASHOGGI: Ys. In that meeting with the king and the crown prince, when I went there with my uncle, the king has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice and I have faith in that. This will happen.
[17:35:03] ROBERTSON: You're placing your faith in the king?
S. KHASHOGGI: Yes.
ROBERTSON: In your heart of hearts, what do you think happened?
A. KHASHOGGI: Something bad happened. Something like the -- but I really hope that whatever happened, it was just -- it wasn't painful for him or something like that. It was quick, or he had a peaceful death. That's what I wish for.
S. KHASHOGGI: I'm not sure. I'm just waiting for the facts to come out. For me, it's just death. I know that he's dead. All I'm waiting for is the investigation to be over so the facts can turn out.
ROBERTSON: How do you think your father would want to be remembered?
S. KHASHOGGI: As a moderate man who has common barriers with everyone. Genuine, honest, a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential. Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy, that it is the fate that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is what it is going through. And that's how he should be remembered.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Nic, thanks for doing that interview. Clearly, these two sons want the body. They want a proper Islamic burial. There were 15 Saudis in that consulate. They know where the body is.
ROBERTSON: And the sons know that too. They know that, but they are careful and they are cautious about what they say. Salah is a banker in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He's planning to go back. He believes his life is there. So you understand that these men are cautious despite all the trauma they've been through and you see it on their faces.
They want to try to pick up their lives, but they want their father respected and remembered and not sort of a political, geopolitical football that they -- for them, the family, it's personal. It's about the man that they know and they feel that his memory is being hijacked.
BLITZER: All right. Deepest condolences go out to the Khashoggi family and their sons, all their family. Thanks so much, Nic. Good work. Nic Robertson reporting for us.
Let's get back to the midterm elections on Tuesday. Candidates and some A-list surrogates are making a last-ditch pitch to voters across the country in these, the final hours before Election Day. So, how are voters responding? We're going live to Texas.
[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: It's the final stretch of the Texas senate race as Democratic congressman Beto O'Rourke tries to upset the Republican incumbent, Senator Ted Cruz. This is one of the most intense midterm races in the country. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Cruz leading O'Rourke 51 to 46 percent.
Cruz is crisscrossing the state this weekend with stops in Victoria to the south and two stops in North Texas. O'Rourke spent the day in Austin. He'll finish out the weekend in San Antonio. That's where CNN's Ed Lavandera is standing by. Ed, how are the candidates spending these last couple of days before the election?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, wolf, both campaigns know that this is really going to boil down to turnout, and they're going after their most ardent supporters to make sure they can turn out the vote. That is Beto O'Rourke you see behind me here on stage in a club just north of downtown San Antonio.
He has been walking neighborhoods, talking to people, and this is a fascinating thing to see, Wolf. Some 21 months ago when Beto O'Rourke kicked off this campaign for Texas senate, he was a virtually unknown congressman from the town of El Paso. And these are the kind of crowds that are greeting him now as he is trying to essentially rewrite the political landscape here in Texas.
We've asked O'Rourke repeatedly on the campaign trail over the last few weeks about the polls that areout there that have consistently shown him behind Ted Cruz. Republicans believe that the math is simply on their side, that there are far more conservative voters in Texas that will turn out for Ted Cruz.
But Beto O'Rourke is banking on the simple idea that the polls are not capturing the support and the enthusiasm that his team has been able to generate over the course of the last year and a half. They've spent a great deal of time focusing on younger voters. They're also focusing on the suburbs of Houston and Dallas and also Latino voters in this state and they are hoping that with that, they will be able to send shock waves across the country here on election night, Wolf.
As you can imagine, if Beto O'Rourke would become the first Democrat to win statewide office in this state in nearly 25 years, that would be a monumental achievement. Ted Cruz though very adamant. We talked to his supporters. They feel like they have this Texas Senate race in the bag.
As I mentioned before, that they believe that there's just more conservative voters in this state. Cruz has gone repeatedly throughout the weekend, trying to paint Beto O'Rourke as radical, too radical, too liberal for Texas.
[17:45:00] Interestingly enough, when you hear Beto O'Rourke talk, he's rarely speaking about Ted Cruz and President Trump on his speech. This is just a little bit of a sample of the crowds that have been turning out for him here in the last days of this campaign, Wolf.
BLITZER: Al right, Ed Lavandera in San Antonio for us. Ed, thank you very much.
Coming up, just two days before the midterm election, Georgia's Republican Secretary of State says he believes state Democrats tried to hack the voting system. What's more, he's also running for office. I'll speak with a member of the Republican Governor's Association, Governor Asa Hutchinson. He's standing by live.
[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Less than 48 hours before Georgia voters head to the polls, the office of the Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate for governor announced they will investigate the state's Democratic Party after a failed hacking attempt.
Kemp is locked in a dead heat right now with the Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams. Kemp's communications director releasing this statement and I'm quoting now, "This was a fourth quarter Hail Mary pass that was intercepted in the end zone. Thanks to the systems and protocols established by Secretary of State Brain Kemp, no personal information was breached."
The Georgia Democratic Party fired back in a statement saying, and once again, I'm quoting, "This political stunt from Kemp just days before the election is yet another example of why he cannot be trusted and should not be overseeing an election in which he is also a candidate for governor."
I want to bring in Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. He sits on the executive committee of the Republican Governor's Association. He is also up for reelection himself on Tuesday. It is awkward, governor, for the Secretary of State is running for governor to be involved in challenging his opponent right now in this way. Don't you think?
GOV. ASA HUTCHUNSON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, any last-minute breaking news in a campaign is met with a great deal of skepticism by the voting public. Here we're two days out. And so everybody is going to wait for more information until tomorrow, but I don't see this as swinging the election one way or the other.
It sounds to me like that the Democrats are trying to probe the system to see if there is any faults that they could blame on the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State's system caught it. We'll see more tomorrow on that. But I think the key difference in that race is going to be President Trump coming in this evening for a rally in support of Mr. Kemp.
Whenever you see Georgia has been in good hands with Governor Deal. I think the burden of proof is on the Democrat candidate, Miss Abrams, to say we ought to change. And the economy is strong. You had Governor Deal that did a good job, so I think it leans in the Republican direction.
BLITZER: We may not know for days or weeks after the election. The election is on Tuesday. Don't you think it would have been appropriate -- and you're a sitting governor -- for the Secretary of State who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate, at least temporarily to recuse himself from this kind of election monitoring because he's got a bias right now, a very personal bias?
HUTCHINSON: Well, we don't have enough facts to make that judgment, but that is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to assure the integrity of the elections. Let's see how that develops, but like I said, I really don't see that as a significant development two days before the campaign, before the election.
People are going to view it with skepticism. They're going to probably set it aside and make the judgment on a lot of other issues including the economy versus that. Again, I think President Trump will give some increased momentum there in Georgia and I think that will be the defining difference.
BLITZER: Yes, he may alienate some voters as well, independent, suburban women, younger voters. I'm not necessarily saying -- and it is a very close contest right now and there's a lot of people who probably are not very excited by the president coming into Georgia during this final day. Well, let's see what happens.
The race right now, by all accounts, all the polls show it is razor thin. It's very, very close right now. The criticism of Kemp has been that he was engaged as Secretary of State in suppression of voters especially minority voters. And that's a big issue right now. So, once again, it's awkward at a minimum that he's involved in this investigation even as he's running for governor.
HUTCHUNSON: Without any doubt, obviously when you're on the ballot, you're running, that makes it awkward. You look at Kansas. You had the Secretary of State in the primary, was also overseeing a recount. And so you had recusal issues there so it is awkward. It is the nature of a Secretary of State running for governor, but you've got to do your job and constitutionally fulfill those responsibilities.
I do expect more information to come out tomorrow and it could be, again, that you're trying to catch the Secretary of State in a fault. It didn't work. They had the systems in place. And so it could just simply be a one-day news cycle story and you move on from there. It's not the most ideal circumstances for anybody, but that's the nature of it when you've got Secretary of State responsible for the election system.
BLITZER: It is awkward. Take a look at the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions. He recused himself because he had a personal stake in the Russia investigation.
[17:55:03] And obviously, the president wasn't happy with that recusal, as we all know. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, always good to speak with you. Thanks so much for joining us.
HUTCHINSON: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stick with CNN on Election Day. We're going to bring you all the key races with up to the minute results. Our special live coverage starts Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. eastern, right here on CNN. We'll be right back.
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