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Former President Barack Obama Spoke In A Rally In Chicago; Obama, Trump Make Closing Arguments Ahead of Midterms; Kemp Accuses Democrats of Attempted Voter Hack; What Are the Biggest Vulnerabilities on Election Day?; Two Latino Candidates Battle for South Florida House Seat. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 4, 2018 - 18:00   ET



[18:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Presidential push. President Trump and former President Obama both on the campaign trail tonight rallying their bases ahead of the high stakes and historic midterm election. Now only two days away.

Hack attack? Georgia's GOP candidate for Governor Brian Kemp accusing Democrats of trying to break into the state's voter registration system. Kemp himself is in charge of elections there and now wants his political rivals investigated.

And countdown to sanctions. Angry protests in Iran ahead of the return of punishing U.S. penalties set to take effect within hours. But tonight, the Trump administration is having to defend itself against critics who say the sanctions don't go far enough. We are going live to Tehran.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: It's Sunday, midterm Election Day is Tuesday. Most early voting is done and the men and women running for the House, the Senate and in 36 states, for the governor's races they have just a few more hours to convince the undecided, the still undecideds to go ahead and vote for them.

These two men today are commanding the most attention nationwide, neither of whom is running for office. Both are out there on the campaign trail. In fact, right now, President Trump is in Georgia and Tennessee. Former President Obama is in Indiana. His home turf of Chicago, that's where he is right now where he is trying to help flip the Illinois governor's office from red to blue.

Our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Chattanooga for us, where the President is scheduled to speak in the coming hour. CNN's Ryan Lizza -- Ryan Young, I should say, is in Chicago for us right now.

Boris, the President is in Tennessee helping to make a homestretch difference for a congresswoman who is in a very close Senate race right now. What's the latest?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right. He is here to campaign for Representative Marsha Blackburn. She is trying to capitalize on the President's popularity in the volunteer state. He has enjoyed to more than 50 percent approval rating here for several months now. She is close to the President when it comes to a number of issues that are near and dear to his heart, including immigration. So we will likely hear some lines about the caravan here in Chattanooga tonight.

She is trying to paint her opponent, former governor, Phil Bredesen as someone who is close to common Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In fact, she mentioned Hillary Clinton more than two dozen times during a recent debate.

Bredesen, meantime, he is trying to paint himself as a moderate. He has openly said that he would work with President Trump on a number of issues. In fact, he has one ad where he has shown shooting a firearm talking about his support for the second amendment.

He also voiced support for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation process, something that many speculated may have cost him support in the polls. Right now, these two are locked in a dead heat with Marsha Blackburn maintaining the small advantage, though it does fall within the margin of error. Surprising Wolf for a state, the President won by some 26 points in 2016 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very lively big crowd over there.

Thanks very much for that, Boris Sanchez.

I want to go to Chicago right now where the former President Barack Obama is speaking. Let's listen in.



OBAMA: And that night, we said yes, we did.

CROWD: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

OBAMA: Look, we didn't know exactly what challenges would come when we began that journey together, but here's what we knew. We knew we could get through those challenges the same way that this nation, at its best, always has. With that unconquerable American spirit that says we are in this together. That we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.


OBAMA: Now, a lot has happened since then. And as I have been traveling around the country, I know that there are people who sometimes think, is that still there? Is that spirit still with us? Is it still true? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!

OBAMA: And I am here to report to you today that that remains the abiding spirit of the American people.


[18:05:06] OBAMA: Goodness and decency is still out there. Kindness is still out there. Generosity is still out there. Hope is still out there. We just have to stand up and speak for it.


OBAMA: And in two days, Illinois, in two days you get to vote in what might be the most important election of our lifetimes, maybe more important than 2008.


OBAMA: Because, because America is at a crossroads right now. There is a contest of ideas going on right now, about who we are and what kind of country we are going to be. Health care for millions is on the ballot. A fair shake for working families is on the ballot.


OBAMA: And, most importantly, the character of our nation is on the ballot.


OBAMA: And we have been, we have been at crossroads like this before. Throughout our history, there's been a contest of ideas. And the good news is that historically, we have made the right choice, chosen our better selves. Sometimes it's taken a little longer than it should have. But eventually we abolished slavery. We overcame a great depression.


OBAMA: Eventually, women won the right to vote. And workers won the right to organize.


OBAMA: And we had workers' rights and women's rights and civil rights and LGBT rights and immigrants' rights. But, you know what? All that stuff, all those choices that brought the scope of our constitution to include all people, not just some, that didn't happen because we all just sat there and waited for it to happen.

It didn't happen just because a bunch of politicians said, you know what? I decree that good things shall happen. It happened because ordinary people did extraordinary things.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: It happened because some housekeeper was cleaning up after somebody else and doing somebody else's laundry and looking after somebody else's child and decided, you know what? I'm going to walk- in stead of ride the bus until I get rights.


OBAMA: It happened because some coal miner somewhere said, you know, I'm tired of seeing all my friends die because there aren't any safety regulations. I'm going to take the risk to go out there and organize a movement for change.


OBAMA: It happened because some, some gay man said, you know what, I'm tired of being in the closet. I'm going to go ahead and be myself so that people know that I'm worth something. I have got dignity, too.


OBAMA: The point is it didn't happen because folk sat around on the couch. It happened because we mobilized and organized and voted.


OBAMA: And in the closing weeks of this election, of course, we have seen repeated attempts to divide us, not bring us together.


OBAMA: Rhetoric designed to turn us on each other. This is a very old playbook. It's the playbook that's been running often in U.S. history and world history.


OBAMA: It's a playbook where the privileged want to protect their power so they will say whatever they can to protect their power.

[18:10:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preach, Barack.

OBAMA: They will do whatever they can to preserve their privileges, even if it hurts the country, even if it puts people at risk. Except when you vote, Illinois --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, now.

OBAMA: -- you can reject that kind of politics.


OBAMA: When you participate in the political process, you can be a check on bad behavior.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: When you vote, Illinois, you can choose hope over fear.


OBAMA: When you vote, you can choose a bigger, more prosperous, more generous vision of America where all of us, whatever we look like, whoever we are, however we choose to pray, whatever your last name is, however your ancestors came to these shores, you are part of the process of shaping the course of this country.


OBAMA: That's what J.B. Pritzker stands for. That's what the candidates who are running on the Democratic ticket in Illinois stand for. That's what you can vote for on Tuesday. Now, look, progress never comes without a fight.


OBAMA: Every time we have pulled ourselves closer to our founding ideals, that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, the status quo pushes back. So you went the right to form a union. Somebody out there is going to try to bust your union. You win the right for a higher minimum wage. Congress decides, we won't raise it for a decade. You win health care for people? Somebody tries to take away health care for people.


OBAMA: Don't boo, vote.


OBAMA: Republicans don't care about your boos. But they care about your vote. And, by the way, that's another way they are trying to push back. You win the right to vote. They try to make it hard for you to vote. They try to disenfranchise folks.

And it's interesting, by the way. You know, we saw -- I will, just relax.


OBAMA: I got some hype man over here. Just settle down.

Look, I think it is interesting, why is it that you've got one party that is always trying to discourage people from voting? I mean, I have to tell you, look, I really disagree with Republican ideas on a bunch of stuff. You never heard me say or do something designed to prevent them from voting.


OBAMA: I always encourage them, they should vote. They should participate. Everybody should vote. I want everybody voting. If you don't agree with me, you should still vote. Why is it that we -- why is it that we kind of take for granted, like one party that's specifically institutes programs to prevent people from voting? It's a very undemocratic idea.

So, my point is this. Making this country better has never been easy. And we know that from experience. Ten years ago, the grant park, we won, we feel good, except Republicans have been cutting taxes for the rich and they've been cutting rules for the banks and the polluters. And part of the result was we got hit by the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes. Remember that?


OBAMA: And, and guess what? Hold on, hold on a second. So, Democrats had to come in -


[18:15:08] OBAMA: So Democrats had to come in, and I had to grab a broom, and we had to get a mop, and we had to clean up their mess.


OBAMA: And it was hard and it was slow, but we got the economy growing again. And recovered another 20 million folks with health care. And we cut of deficits by more than half. And we made sure the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes. And by the time I left office, wages were rising. Unemployment had fallen. The uninsured rate was falling. The economy created more jobs over my last 21 months than it did the 20 months since I have left office.


OBAMA: So, when you hear the Republicans bragging about how good the economy is right now, where do you think that started?


OBAMA: Who do you think did that?


OBAMA: I mean, I'm telling you, man. Sometimes, sometimes you are just thinking, these folks got a lot of gall, don't they? Wait.

Anyway. So, that's what we accomplished with a progressive agenda. Now, we didn't accomplish everything we wanted to. We couldn't reverse 40-year economic trends in only eight. We wanted to do more to reduce inequality. There was still work to be done to alleviate poverty. There is still work that we had to do to bring jobs back to areas that had been abandoned. Except once the Republicans took over Congress, they just blocked everything we did or we wanted to do.

All right. So, we said, OK, now you've had two years of total control in Washington, Republicans. What have they done -- no, no, no, no, it's not true they haven't done nothing. They've done something. They promised that they were going to take on corruption. Instead, they plundered away. They have racked up enough indictments to field a football team.


OBAMA: Nobody in my administration got indicted.


OBAMA: They pledged to fight for the little guy. Instead, they doled out $1.5 trillion in tax cuts aimed at corporations who are making record profits, which is fine. We want companies to make record profits. Tax cuts for folks like J.B. and me. I mean, I know I'm not in the same league, but I'm doing pretty good. We weren't asking for it. We said, no -- no, we are going to give $1.5 trillion. Did not even pretend to pay for them.

Now -- so, the deficits have, of course, shot up. Keep in mind that when we were in the depths of recession, many of you all have seen your home values plunge, 401(k) down in the dumps, people losing their jobs, folks desperate and we are trying to spend money to make sure teachers stay on the job, or put some guys in hard hats to work rebuilding roads and bridges, or providing people health care. When we were trying to do that, they said, no, we can't spend money on working people. Because that will blow up the deficits. No, no, we can't invest in health care. That deficits. I mean, we can't invest in early childhood education. Deficits. That would be terrible. So, deficits, that was the existential threat. That would be terrible.


OBAMA: Suddenly when it comes to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for folks who are doing the best they've ever done, deficits don't matter. What's the problem with deficits? Oh, no, deficits are fine, it's OK, until they get the tax cut passed. Then, because it gets worse. Just two weeks ago, the Republican leader in Congress -- don't boo, vote. The Republican leader in Congress --.


[18:20:28] OBAMA: Somebody says, now I'm very disturbed with our deficits. To bring them down, we are going to need to cut programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Now, I didn't make this up, by the way. Look it up. He said it. He said it. He said it on tape. You know, because -- and the reason you can go look it up is because I believed in fact-based campaigning.


OBAMA: I believe in reality-based governance.


OBAMA: So, cutting Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid for working people to pay for tax cuts for rich folks does not sound like fighting for the little guy to me. And the good news is J.B. Pritzker is not going to let that happen. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And our candidates running for Congress aren't going to let it happen as long as what? As long as you vote.


OBAMA: All right. Now, let's talk about health care for a second. Eight years ago Democrats passed the affordable care act.


OBAMA: That law helped cover 850,000 people right here in Illinois alone. That law also made it illegal for the very first time for insurance companies to discriminate against you if you have a preexisting condition. It might be a child who has got asthma. It might be that you are a cancer survivor.


OBAMA: You might have lupus.


OBAMA: It might be, by the way, that you are a woman because it turned out that insurance companies, before Obamacare was passed, could charge you more just for being a woman. Now, it is true, being a woman is a preexisting condition.


OBAMA: Except that condition is that you can give birth and are responsible for all of us being here. So, it doesn't seem to me you should be charged more for insurance for being a mama.


OBAMA: Or a potential mama. So, the affordable care act said, no, no, everybody gets insurance. You can't be discriminated against because you have had a preexisting condition. The whole point is if you have been sick, that's why you need to buy insurance. It needs to be affordable. Democrats made that happen. Not a single Republican joined us. We invited them, said, let's make this bipartisan. Man, I met with so many Republicans. I said, what are your ideas? What do you want to do? Tell me how you think it would work better than what we designed? We have taken Republican ideas that we think could work. Didn't matter. Not one of them voted for us. Not one, zero, zilch, nada. Guse. Nothing. Blank. Not one of them voted.

Not only did one of them vote with us, they then spent the next eight years trying to sabotage or repeal that law in any way they could. And, by the way, because of that sabotage, they weren't able to actually dismantle the law, but they did increase premiums in Illinois, for example, those premiums are going up, not because of the original design of it, but because they have deliberately tried to make it not work. All right, so that's bad enough. For the life of me, I will never

understand why you would make it your number one cause to take away health insurance from people. Oh, because I did.


[18:25:09] OBAMA: That's bad enough. It doesn't make sense to me, but that has been their policy. They have declared war on Obamacare, they declared war on the affordable care act, and all the provisions in it.

OK. Now suddenly it's an election season and Republicans are running millions of dollars-worth of ads all around the country saying, we are going to protect people with preexisting conditions. Trust us.

I mean, when I was President, Republicans voted more than a dozen times to get rid of protections for preexisting conditions. Last year they fell just one vote short. If they win this Tuesday, they might finally succeed. Our good news is, by the way, I should say Lauren Underwood, one of our candidates for Congress, knows what's at stake.


OBAMA: Because Lauren worked in my administration and helped us implement the law and get people covered while her opponent voted to take away that same coverage. So the choice for voters in Lauren's district couldn't be clear. You can vote for Lauren Underwood who helped implement protections for people with preexisting conditions, or you can vote for her opponent who tried to repeal it. It couldn't be much clearer cut than that.

Lauren Underwood and Sean Kasten are not going to let Republicans gut your preexisting conditions protections or gut your Medicare to pay for tax cuts for me and J.B. That's not what they stand for. They will protect your care period.

BLITZER: All right. So, there you have the former President of the United States. He has been speaking. He is speaking now in his hometown of Chicago.

The President is saying the character of our nation is on the ballot right now. He is really going after the current President of the United States and the Republicans. You can hear, you know, S.E., you can hear the former President losing his voice a bit. The former vice-President Joe Biden has been losing his voice. They are out there. They are trying to do the best they can to help their fellow Democrats.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And you could not have two more different closing arguments. As you mentioned, I think the line of this speech was the character of our nation is on the ballot. This was a very Obama speech. It was lawyerly. He laid out arguments. He tried to talk about hypocrisy, the power of political organizing. That part was great.

Obama takes a time machine to remind everyone how great it was under his administration. I thought less effective because we can't take a time machine. But contrasting that with jobs, not mobs, if you want to be safe and employed vote Republican. I'm not sure this will be the determining factor of which argument wins out. That contrast right there.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER/EDITOR AT-LARGE: Just to add, one thing I found fascinating there, so Barack Obama clearly the 2016 election is viewed in some ways as a referendum on Barack Obama in that Donald Trump says, I'll do the opposite of what Barack Obama did. He vowed, the dictators, I will stand out, et cetera, et cetera.

Now Barack Obama is not on the ballot nor really on the campaign trail during that election because Presidents tend to, you know, you go quietly into that good night and don't run. That speech makes very clear, the one we just heard, Barack Obama views this as another referendum to S.E.'s point, a lot about what Barack Obama did, another referendum on eight years of Barack Obama, and this time Barack Obama is going to be on the field. And is going to make his argument.

You rarely see a former President this recently out of office do as many events, go as hard against a current President as you see Barack Obama. But then, again, Donald Trump is -- I don't know if he wants to be, but isn't in that club of Presidents, right.

George Bush and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, they are all chummy. They share that. Donald Trump isn't that guy. And so, maybe none of this holds for him. But that is Barack Obama saying, do not run away from the eight years of things I did. You may have made a mistake -- not saying that. You may have made a mistake in 2016. Make it right this time.

BLITZER: Yes. And he did, Molly, say, nobody in my administration got indicted.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that line about the football team, enough indictments for a football team. That would be an interesting football team. I don't know which position you would put George Papadopoulos.

But look, there was almost an edge of desperation in Obama's voice, the sincerity he clearly feels in that sentiment about the character of the nation. I mean, when Obama was President, in the two midterms during his presidency, he was, in his words, shellacked both times. And it was because he owns a portion of the electorate that only votes for him. And when he wasn't on the ballot, they wouldn't vote for the candidate that he told them to. Trump is potentially facing the same problem.


[18:30:00] MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: -- was, in his words, shellacked both times. And it was because he owns a portion of the electorate that only votes for him.


BALL: And when he wasn't on the ballot, they wouldn't vote for the candidates that he told them to.

Trump is potentially facing the same problem. There is this very passionate core of Trump supporters and they go out to see the President at rallies, but can he actually get them to vote in an election when he's not on the ballot? That's what Trump is trying to do.

And, now, Obama trying to do the same thing he failed to pull off in the midterms, frankly, failed to pull off in 2016 -- get those Obama voters to care enough about an election that Barack Obama is not really a part of.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He is doing his best, A.B., to try to get that kind of Democratic base out there and vote in big numbers. And at one point, without mentioning the Trump administration or the President by name, he said, I believe in fact-based campaigns.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. And I do think, actually, that healthcare is the sleeper issue of this election. I think if the Democrats do very well, it will be because not only of a referendum on President Trump who's supremely unpopular with a lot of -- majority of voters but really because of healthcare.

So, so fascinating to watch healthcare be on the ballot in 2010, be on the ballot in 2014. His party takes a beating in both those midterm elections.

And he said, I -- we all remember after 2014, Wolf, it was the lowest turnout in, you know, however many years, and everyone said, oh, you're such a sore loser, you know. You've just gotten your second beating in a midterm. But it was.

And so I think the new riff he goes on with this "don't boo, vote" thing is he talks about how critical it is for people to turn out because he knows that the Democratic Party doesn't vote in midterms.

It's white, older, more affluent, more conservative people who are regular voters. And kids don't show up and African-Americans don't show up and Latinos aren't showing up. And it's really scary to Democrats this weekend, the idea of another near miss with all this energy because people didn't turn out.

BLITZER: You know, David Swerdlick, listen to the current president take a swipe at his predecessor, Friday, when he was speaking in Indianapolis at a political rally. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's no surprise that Joe Donnelley is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H. Obama.



Bringing up the H is a way of otherizing the president and trying to, going back to what Chris is talking about, kick him out of that club of presidents, right? There's Carter, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Trump, and he is saying this -- one of these is not like the other.

What I heard in Obama's response, if Republicans are taking fear and division as their closing argument, then Obama and Democrats want to take unity and optimism to the extent that Obama can focus people's minds on that as their closing argument.

I heard Obama's second inaugural in there, that the American dream, the American fabric is civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, workers' rights. These are all part of a common America.

BLITZER: If he wants to mention his middle name, why does he have to say Barack H. Obama? Why doesn't he just say Barack Hussein Obama?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's a pregnant pause there as well before he let us know that it was an H as his middle name. Look, it's all theater for Donald Trump. We know that.

He knows that it's going elicit anger and frustration from the left which will only elicit more anger and frustration from the far right. And in the end, he hopes that more people on the far right are going to have -- be more angry and come out to vote on Tuesday.

But there's one striking thing. I think everyone that -- and I think everyone is saying it here, but if you tie it all together, there hasn't been a national spokesperson for the Democratic Party since Barack Obama left office.


PRESTON: Every argument that he made right there are arguments that we have heard individually from Democrats in Congress as candidates, but they haven't been able to coherently put them all together and put it in such a way.

We're heading into 2019. We are going to have 20, 25 Democrats running for their party's nomination. There will be no coherency so this Democratic Party under Barack Obama is going to be a lot different than what we've seen and what he has hoped for.


BLITZER: Yes. I've always have suspected that he wants to bring up the H because he's still angry -- this is what some of his aides have told me.

He's still angry that he's had to acknowledge, at least on one occasion, that, yes, Barack Obama was born in the United States and that whole birther argument that he made for such a long time was clearly wrong. He resents the fact that he had to acknowledge that as we all know. CUPP: Well, he doesn't like to lose. We know that about him. But

David is right. This is in his repertoire. Not only to other eyes but to delegitimize, in particular, people of color.

We heard it about Andrew Gillum. We heard it recently about Stacey Abrams, that she's unqualified. He used to, in addition to calling Barack Obama a Kenyan, would also say that he was lazy. He had been a terrible student.

Remember, back when he was campaigning, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two Cuban-Americans, he said, were ineligible to run for president.

[18:35:00] CILLIZZA: Right.

CUPP: Ben Carson was otherized for his of Seventh-Day Adventism religion. This is a thing he does.

CILLIZZA: Mitt Romney. I mean --

CUPP: For his Mormonism.

CILLIZZA: Just another Mormonism, I mean.

CUPP: He goes to this almost instinctively. And so to see it in real time, I don't think that was planned. I don't think he planned to do H.

I think, as Mark said, he was waiting for the crowd to fill in that blank, and when they didn't, he filled it in for them. But this is his playbook.


CILLIZZA: And you know what's fascinating, is there is a case to be made.

Let's say you're Donald Trump. You could lead with the economy and talk a lot about the economy and tax cuts. That could be the center message here. Look, I said I would do these things and I've done them.

But his tendency is -- to S.E.'s point, his tendencies are not to that jobs well-done thing. Even though you could make that argument.


CILLIZZA: And you could argue, look, lower taxes, people like that.

His tendency always is, remember what he said in his inauguration dress, this American carnage, right? Talking about these streets are going to be overrun with illegal immigrants if you don't follow me. You like your money? Democrats will take it.

It's always -- it's that dark view. There is not optimism. Usually, that hasn't worked for politicians. People like a little optimism. It worked for him. BLITZER: All right, everybody, standby. There's more we need to


Coming up, a showdown in Georgia right now has a new twist. While offering no evidence, the Republican candidate, who is also Georgia's Secretary of State, announces an attempted voter hack just two days before the election and points the finger directly at the Democrats.

And it's a critical election with certainly a lot at stake -- the balance of power in Congress, 36 governors' races, and thousands of local elections. We're going to bring you all the key races with up to the minute results.

Our special live coverage starts on Election Day, Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Explosive 11th-hour developments in Georgia's race for governor. The Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, who is also Georgia's Secretary of State, says there was, quote, 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, quote, 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 Brian Kemp, no personal information was breached.

Let's go to CNN's Kaylee Hartung. She's joining us now from Augusta, Georgia. That's where the Democrat in this race, Stacey Abrams, is appearing this hour.

So, Kaylee, the Democratic Party says they didn't create or attempt to hack the system. First of all, how is Abrams responding?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now, Stacey Abrams is speaking to a crowd of several hundred people packed into this community center in Augusta.

[18:39:59] She has not addressed the latest controversy in this contentious campaign. But earlier today, she was on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and shared her reaction to the news of this investigation.


STACEY ABRAMS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, GEORGIA: I've heard nothing about it and I would -- 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 have forced him to allow absentee ballots to be counted and those who are being held captive by the exact match 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're going to outvote him, and we are going to win.


HARTUNG: Now, all of this coming alongside claims from an organization that's already involved in litigation against Brian Kemp in his capacity of Secretary of State that the online voter registration databases that helped update the electronic polling list are open to manipulation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kaylee, thanks very much. When we hear these accusations of hacked voter registration Web site or voter rolls, it's hard to digest what exactly is being targeted, what vulnerabilities may actually exist.

Let's bring in our national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, to break this down for us.

Sam, you've been in all kinds of threat briefings in the actual situation room over there on the West Wing of the White House. Show us what we're talking about when we say election security and where we might be exposed.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, let's put this in context.

Elections are often considered dangerous events because they're high profile. There's a lot of media attention. Attackers know details well in advance and a lot of Americans are participating. Plus, there are so many soft targets, including millions of Americans going to vote without a whole lot of security.

This election is a historic, however. We are in a heightened threat environment after a series of attacks last month, and our increasing reliance on technology to communicate and to conduct the elections themselves makes us more vulnerable.

That is exactly why, over the coming days, we'll be keeping everybody updated on various threat streams.

External terrorist groups often try to take advantage of high profile events to launch attacks. And the potential for political violence is much higher today because of the attacks last month.

Individuals may have been inspired by what they saw from the mail pipe bomber or they -- and may also be inspired to conduct additional hate crimes attacks against specific voting groups because of the Pittsburgh massacre and the incident in Kentucky against African- Americans.

We know that a hostile foreign power has already attacked us and is still attacking us. That's Russia. Plus, the administration has said that China, Iran, and North Korea are also a security threat. Those three countries have very advanced cyber capabilities. And we have a new threat this time around, and that is an insider

threat. We have elected officials and public leaders knowingly and wittingly spreading false information and lies to confuse voters and to pursue their own personal missions. That used to be the purview of Russia. Now, Americans are doing it themselves.

And because the threat matrix is so complex, Wolf, the experts are really going to be prioritizing where they spend their time and their attention. The safety and security of voters is paramount, particularly in a high-threat environment after a series of high profile attacks.

The security of our votes is also an incredible priority, especially because they are so insecure. Cyberspace, by definition, has no limits. It increases every day. And because of that, it introduces new vulnerabilities every day that goes by and every new user that signs onto Twitter or signs onto Facebook.

But the information domain is actually where I think attackers feel like they get the most bang for the buck. Information warfare is relatively inexpensive, and it's highly impactful.

Twitter has more users globally than Americans has Americans, so -- America has Americans. So by just simply retweeting a tweet from President Trump, our enemies can immediately and instantaneously spread content that helps them pursue their objectives.

BLITZER: Samantha Vinograd, thanks very much. And to our viewers, an important note. Sam has written extensively on election security. You can read her work on

Just ahead, a nail-biter in south Florida where two Latino candidates are facing off. Is the President's tough tone on immigration impacting this race?


BLITZER: Twenty-three is the magic number right now as Democrats look to flip the House and confront the President of the United States.

And a new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll suggested Democratic edge but not necessarily a giant blue wave. Among likely voters, according to the poll, 51 percent favor Democrats for Congress, 44 percent back Republicans.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida. He is up for re-election in Florida's District 26. He's got a tough race ahead of him.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: Wolf, good evening from Miami. It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: Well, we just heard the former president, Barack Obama, say -- and I'm quoting him now -- the character of our nation is on the ballot. Do you agree?

[18:50:02] CURBELO: Look, Wolf, everything is on the ballot. These elections are so important. And for me, this is personal. My family comes from a country where democracy was lost, so I hope everyone participants. And certainly, I think that there's a lot at stake.

And I think in every race in this country, each American, each voter should look at the candidates and choose the best one and figure out who it is that's going to help heal our country's politics.

Because, I'll tell you what, if we continue attacking each other, if we continue considering those Americans who disagree with us the enemy, soon, it's not going to matter who wins an election because our democracy is going to continue to devolve.

So what I've been focused on is my campaign of working across the aisle, working with Republicans, Democrats, and independents to get big things done for the country. I think that's what most voters want.

BLITZER: So you disagree with President Trump when he calls the news media the enemy of the American people?

CURBELO: Totally. That's horrible. The President has certainly contributed a lot to the political turmoil that we're living in our country. He should be focused on uniting the country.

For some time now, I think Americans have been craving the type of leadership that brings us together. That's what I'm trying to do here in our little corner of the world in south Florida. And I think we need more members of Congress who will do the same.

And it's no surprise, in every poll, one of the few issues that most Republicans, Democrats, and independents agree on is that they want the politicians to work together to heal the country's politics and to get big things done. And that means compromising.

And this tone that the President is using certainly isn't conducive to that. And all these rallies, Republican and Democrat, by the way, I don't think contribute much to this either. We need fewer rallies and more conversations and more dialogue in this country.

BLITZER: Your opponent, the Democratic opponent, Debbie Mucarsel- Powell, spoke to CNN's Ana Cabrera yesterday and had this to say about you. I want to give you a chance to response -- to respond. Listen to this.


DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR FLORIDA'S 26TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: I want to remind something. Curbelo is no moderate. He's been voting with Trump 85 percent of the time.

When he distances himself, he goes back to Washington, D.C., and votes straight with the most extreme Republicans, especially on immigration. He's caved into his party. He voted for a tax bill that gives $1.9 trillion cuts to the

wealthiest Americans, not helping the hardworking families in my district. So I just want to make it very clear, he is no moderate.


BLITZER: All right, Congressman, what's your response?

CURBELO: Well, my opponent's just another scripted politician reading off the talking points that the party committee sent to her, and that's not the type of leadership that's going to change things in Washington, D.C., Wolf.

I've been ranked the fourth most bipartisan member in the House. I have shown time and again that I'm willing to stand up to my party.

I have been attacked by people in my party and the opposing party. I tried to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus some months ago, and Democratic colleagues made the bigoted decision to keep me out.

So I'm trying to be a change agent in the Congress, really shake things up, get both sides to work together.

We filed a discharge petition earlier this year to force an immigration compromise in the House, got a bill to the floor that included a path to citizenship for two million Dreamers in this country. That's what we need in Washington.

And to be fair, Wolf, a lot of the younger members in Congress, no matter their party affiliation, that's the mindset. That's the attitude. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of colleagues who are dug in and want to read off the old scripts and do the role-playing that has gotten us into this hole we're in.

BLITZER: What was the argument that the Democrats in the Hispanic Caucus made in rejecting you as a member?

CURBELO: Basically, it was that I wasn't a Democrat. Never mind that I'm Hispanic, that, you know, I have two daughters who I only speak Spanish to because I want them to grow up with our culture and to learn another language.

But they basically said that since I thought a little differently from them, I had no place in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. And to me, that's as bigoted as some of the things you hear from the far right, and it's the type of politics that's destroying this country.

So my commitment is not to any party, it's to my community and to this country. To always do the right thing. And I hope every American out there voting in every district votes for the best candidate in every race.

BLITZER: How does it look in your district right now going ahead to Tuesday?

CURBELO: I feel good right now. I'm getting a great response out at the early voting precincts.

A lot of people, it doesn't matter their party -- Republican, Democrat, independent -- what they want most is leaders in Washington who will work together, reach across the aisle, compromise, and get things done. In my race, I'm the only candidate that's willing to do that.

BLITZER: Congressman Curbelo, thanks so much for joining us.

CURBELO: Thank you, Wolf. Have a good night.

[18:55:01] BLITZER: Thank you. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington.

Important note, our special pre-election edition of CNN primetime continues right now with "ANDERSON COOPER 360" and followed by "CUOMO PRIMETIME" and "CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON." They're all here in Washington. Don't go anywhere.