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Texas Voters Decide Senate Race; Walker Fighting in Wisconsin; Issues at Multiple Polling Places; Medical Marijuana on Ballots; High- States Midterm Elections. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 6, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:06] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Voting in Texas underway and Texas could prove to be a key battleground for control of the Senate.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: How many times have we said Texas this morning?

Beto O'Rourke out there voting.

SCIUTTO: A lot of attention.

HARLOW: This is a race that has gotten national attention. Ted Cruz, in one of the most high profile and surprisingly competitive races in the country against the Democratic candidate, Beto O'Rourke.

Joining us now in South Lake, Texas, Athena Jones.

Man, a lot of money was spent on this thing. How's it looking this morning?


Well, we'll wait and see what happens today. We are in Tarrant County, the third most populous county in the state of Texas, and also the largest urban county that remains red. We'll see if that changes today.

Tarrant County is a bellwether county. President Trump won this county by nine points. That's exactly the margin that he won the whole state of Texas by. And Beto O'Rourke, who's challenging Ted Cruz for the Senate, he himself has said, we have to win Tarrant County in order to win the state of Texas.

Of course, it's all going to come down to the size and shape of the electorate. And we've been talking a lot about white women, suburban voters and about college educated voters.

Well, I have a voter here with me, Andrea Curreri, who is both of those things. You said that you were one of the earliest voters on the first day of early voting. You're a registered Democrat. You're supporting Beto O'Rourke. And we talked earlier about what motivated you, what issues motivated you to support O'Rourke, and also this idea of fear being a powerful motivator, but for both sides. Talk to me.

ANDREA CURRERI, BETO O'ROURKE SUPPORTER: Yes. So Beto O'Rourke has really come out as a positive campaigner, someone who is unifying Texas and the country. We have historical context to see what happens with divisive language, with people who condemn others based on either their trace or ethnicity or gender or IQ, who make judgements about people who are less than. And we know that we want someone now who's going to be positive to bring the country back together and respect all and unify us all.

JONES: Wonderful. Thank you, Andrea.

CURRERI: Thank you.

JONES: And so early voting totals we're seeing, both in this county and across Texas, off the charts, topping some 465,000 votes here in Tarrant County. That's much more than in past midterm elections. Even more than 2012.

Back to you guys. Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Athena, thank you very much. It's great to see such engaged voters all over the country.

So let's head to Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker is in the fight of his political life. National correspondent Ryan Young joins us in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Looks a little -- a little rainy, but pretty nice day there.

Good morning, Ryan.


Yes, it is pretty rainy here. It is a little cool, but so far that hasn't impacted the people. People have a lot of energy when it comes to the race here. When you talk about Scott Walker, you're talking about a governor who ran for president. But, right now, he's in a dead heat with Tony Evers, a guy who was the -- a superintendent basically of the state when it comes to Education, and now people are coming out and having conversations.

But look, Poppy, behind me. Look at the line on the inside here in terms of people who have been showing up. This was the line before the polls opened this morning in terms of just people energized in terms of getting inside this polling station, which is a fire station. You can say it's hot on the inside because people wanted to express themselves.

I was talking to one woman who told me, look, the reason why she was here, for two reasons, one, she's heard a lot, which was health care. She wants more attention on health care. But the other thing that she says there's not enough conversation about is wage growth, because she says it takes two jobs for her to be able to pay everything. And the last person that I talked to was a young man who said Parkland shooting was the reason why he was out voting. He's going to be taking people to the polls today.

Jim, you see a lot of energy, especially when you have raining conditions like this. People are still coming out.

SCIUTTO: Yes, in each place, it could be a different issue. And we know the shooting there, particularly with millennials, motivated.

HARLOW: Of course.

SCIUTTO: Shocked so many.


SCIUTTO: Ryan Young, thanks very much.

HARLOW: And what we've heard from voters this whole month, right, in our "Why I Vote" series. It's all these specific issues that are driving them there.


Well, we're going to keep watching that all day, and we're going to be jumping around the country and noting that candidates are not the only thing on the ballot today. Voters in some states are set to decide on a number of referendums. One of them, whether to make recreational pot legal.


[09:38:17] SCIUTTO: We're seeing some potentially significant issues at some polling stations across the country, including the possibility of deliberately false information going out to voters.

MJ Lee is here with more.

How significant, what you've seen so far -- and I know this is an ongoing story -- and where exactly?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, and, obviously, voter suppression and voter access is going to be such an important issue today. Basically that everyone who wants to vote can vote. And we have seen some of the earliest signs this morning of potential misinformation that is getting out. This is according to the secretaries of state for New Jersey and Rhode Island. They both tweeted this morning that there are reports of incorrect information about polling sites that are going out to voters and that they just want people to be careful.

And then on the question of, can voters actually physically vote this morning, two stories I want to point you to. One is in Brooklyn, New York. According to a city elections official, voters were locked out of a polling site for about 90 minutes. This community center was supposed to open at 6:00 a.m. Didn't open until 7:30 a.m. And the reason was that poll workers could not get an electronic lock on the door to open. So, obviously, this is an unforeseen event. Nobody's fault. They simply couldn't get the door to open. And then an issue in Pittsburgh that we've seen come up, according to

a spokesperson for Allegheny County, there was a medical emergency involving an individual who was supposed to open a polling site. We are told that that individual is actually still at the hospital, so there have been some delays there. And we are told that emergency ballots are on their way.

So just a range of issues, the kinds of issues that we're probably going to see today from allegations of misinformation to just human error, unforeseen events. Obviously the goal is to get everyone to vote who wants to vote.

SCIUTTO: That first one's the bigger concern potentially, right?

[09:40:00] LEE: Of course.

SCIUTTO: The parties would be deliberately spreading information to suppress the other side's vote, is that the concern?

LEE: Right. Where it's malicious and people want to spread false information so that people can't vote.

HARLOW: Right.

LEE: The other issues are just, you know, the range of things that you are going to see on any election day, because it's complicated and there are a lot of different polling sites with a lot of people involved and we want to keep that to a minimum.

SCIUTTO: It's a big country.

So where should folks -- if there's any question -- you're like, listen, I've got to know where to vote and when it closes because I'm getting out of work late. I mean it --

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: What is the reliable place to look so you know the information is correct?

LEE: Well, stick to your state's government website, the secretary of state's website for each state, stick to their verified Twitter accounts and, as always, be very careful about what you see on social media. You have to be very discerning about information that's out there.


HARLOW: MJ, thank you. Keeping an eye on it for us all day. We appreciate it.

For many Americans, there is a lot riding on today's election. Obviously the candidates. But even beyond that, right? There's a lot of referendums that are being voted on. One of them, marijuana legalization for recreational marijuana. It's a big ballot issue right now. Millions of people voting on it, including those in Michigan and North Dakota.

SCIUTTO: It's already legal in a number of states, but both those states are going to decide whether to legalize recreational use, while two other states, they're going to vote on a more limited use of medial marijuana.

Here to break it down is CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston.

So tell us where this is all happening today.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Jim, Poppy, you know, the federal government still classified marijuana as a schedule one drug. That means that it's illegal federally. If you get caught with it, you get thrown in jail. But don't tell that to state lawmakers and don't tell that to big business. As you said, in two states right now, let's talk about the medicinal propositions that are on the ballot in Missouri. Right now it's a medical marijuana proposition they're looking at, but they're going to decide not on one but three different propositions about how to actually tax medical marijuana.

But going west from Missouri, and we head out to Utah right here, and they're doing that as well. Medical marijuana is also on the ballot. But here's what's interesting here. Regardless of what happens on this, the opponents of the measure and supporters of medical marijuana in Utah are already at the negotiating table right now. They're already discussing about how they can actually put this in place. The acknowledgment, of course, is the fact this is going to pass out there. So opponents and supporters want to try to be on the same page. But, again, it's not just when it comes down to medicinal, but it comes down to recreational marijuana.

You know, it is legal where I'm standing right now, in D.C., to have marijuana, as it is in nine other states. But if you go to the state of Michigan right now, they're looking at recreational marijuana and they're going to decide whether or not to legalize that. What's interesting about Michigan is that their limits as a lot higher than what is really the standard right now that you can actually possess. And if you go up to North Dakota as well, North Dakota voters are going to decide whether or not to make marijuana recreational, whether that should be allowed. What's interesting about this one, though, is that it has no regulatory language in there. So if this were to pass, it would then have to go to the state legislature. Then they would decide about how they would actually put this in place.

There are only four states right now, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho and South Dakota, where marijuana is not legal in any form.

HARLOW: Interesting. Wow. How things have changed so, so dramatically.


HARLOW: I just flew back, you know, last night from Canada where, Mark, as you know, they just passed this recreationally. And it's an experiment. How is it going to work for the -- you know, for the entire country there. SCIUTTO: They did it nationally there, right?

HARLOW: They did. They did it nationally.


HARLOW: And they're figuring out sort of, you know, what works and what doesn't.

Mark Preston, fascinating. Thank you very much.

So voters lined up this morning across the country. Democrats talking about a blue wave. Nancy Pelosi says we will win the House. We'll see. Everything is far from a sure thing this morning.

We'll be right back.


[09:48:18] SCIUTTO: Well, you may have noticed Election Day is here today. Of course we don't know how the nation will vote.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Polls are one thing. They're an indicator. It doesn't give you the final answer. But a lot of Dems are optimistic with all the talk of a so-called blue wave.

HARLOW: But are they too optimistic?

Let's talk to the former Virginia Democratic governor, former DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

Good to have you here.

TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Poppy, Jim, great to be with you.

HARLOW: You just gave us the history on the slogan Virginia is for lovers, so there you go.

MCAULIFFE: Fifty years old.

HARLOW: There you go.

MCAULIFFE: Great wine. Great beer. Great oysters. We've got it all.

HARLOW: All right. Posho (ph) oysters. But now that you're here, Nancy Pelosi, her words, we will win. She's talking about the House. She is so confident. Too confident?

MCAULIFFE: No, we're going to win. There's no question about it. I'm saying we're somewhere, 36 to 46 seats. We need 23. Listen, Trump and his folks have run a campaign on fear, hate, and division. They have tried to divide America. On the other hand, we're talking about health care. We're talking

about infrastructure. We're talking about middle class tax cuts. You're going to see it. It's going to come out in record numbers. You saw it in Virginia last year, Poppy, when we won 15 House delegates, the most since 1880. Nobody saw it coming.

Early votes way up, but we can't take anything for granted. You've got to vote today. You've got to vote.

SCIUTTO: OK, so let's say you win the House and the Republicans maintain the Senate, maybe pick up a seat or two. Again, we're repeating conventional wisdom here as based on the polls. This could all be wrong. But if that is the makeup, what does Washington look like in that environment? Are there areas of cooperation between the two?

MCAULIFFE: I think so. I think right off the bat we need an infrastructure bill. I can tell you, as a former chairman of the National Governors Association, I speak for all the governors when I say, we want an infrastructure bill. I think we could get an infrastructure bill I think right out of the box and we --

SCIUTTO: Because there was talk about an infrastructure bill after 2016, you remember, and, of course, not a lot of cooperation there.

[09:50:02] MCAULIFFE: The president made a huge --

HARLOW: Right.


MCAULIFFE: The president made a huge mistake. He should have done infrastructure. As chairman of the NGA, I talked to him about it. He went and went on health care and really has hurt health care in this country. Everyone's premiums are going up. And because of that, that's why the Democrats are going to win the House. We're very competitive in the Senate.

And the other big news out of tonight will be the governorships we pick up. We're going to pick up eight or nine governors. And that is very important when redistricting comes around in 2021. Why are we not winning 100 seats with as unpopular as Donald Trump is today? Because these seats were gerrymandered in 2011. That won't happen in 2021 when Democrats govern. We need fair lines so that we have competition in these congressional elections, which we don't have today.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about this, about the leadership of the party, because you did chair the DNC for a matter of years. And Keith Ellison, from my home state of Minnesota, is currently the deputy chair of the DNC. This is after -- and he remains that after abuse allegations from his ex-girlfriend. The Minnesota DFL investigated and they said they were unable to substantiate the claims of physical abuse.

As someone who chaired the DNC --


HARLOW: Do you think that he should remain right now the deputy chair of the DNC, and what that means for the whole party?

MCAULIFFE: Well, he's on -- he's on the ballot today and let's see what happens with this election tonight.

HARLOW: For attorney general, but --

MCAULIFFE: Yes, he's on the ballot for that.

HARLOW: But do you -- I mean you ran, you know, you were chair of the DNC.


HARLOW: Do you think, knowing what we know at this point, he should hold the position that he holds right now?

MCAULIFFE: Well, I know, as you say, the DFL investigated, couldn't find anything. If I were chair of the DNC, of course you would have had a thorough investigation to find out. And if there was any credibility to the claims, of course you would ask that person to leave. There is zero tolerance today.

HARLOW: But so are you saying there's no credibility to the claims from her?

MCAULIFFE: I think it has to be looked at. I mean I personally haven't looked at it. I know the DFL has looked at it. But it needs to be looked at.

We're in a zero tolerance society, as we should be. No means no. And that is the message that has come out. And, you know, we've got to look at everybody who's involved in these situations and see what there is. But, you know, he's running. He's on the ballot. And the voters of Minnesota tonight will make the decision whether he'll be the attorney general. And then the DNC, of course, will have to do what they have to do.

SCIUTTO: Nancy Pelosi's leadership in question, really whether win or lose, I imagine if the Dems lose, underperform, you will have calls. But there are Democrats running --


SCIUTTO: On the platform saying I'm not going to vote for her for leader.



SCIUTTO: Is her leadership in danger, and should it be in your view?

MCAULIFFE: No. I don't think she's in danger. I remind you, as speaker, Jim, that Nancy Pelosi never once lost a floor vote. We would not have had the ACA. You could -- if President Obama were sitting in this chair, he would tell you that we would not have had the ACA health care and 25 million people would not have gotten health care but for Nancy Pelosi.

HARLOW: She has called herself, though, interestingly, a transitional leader. I mean she's seen -- and that's the word she's using recently, that she seems to be pointing to the future. A future, you know, with other leadership.

MCAULIFFE: Yes. And, listen, I think -- listen, let her speak for herself. I think she would probably want another term as speaker to move ahead on just what I talked about, on infrastructure, on health care, for a middle class tax cut. She is a formidable legislator --

HARLOW: Fundraiser.

MCAULIFFE: And fundraiser. But legislator. Is that she's never lost a House -- she never lost a floor vote. And it was her work that got us the ACA. And we need her there for middle class tax reform. We need her there for the infrastructure. So, you know, we've got to win first.

Let me just say this. Everybody's talking about what's going to happen. We've got to win first.


MCAULIFFE: I'm the ultimate optimist --


MCAULIFFE: But you've still got to get out and vote. And I remind everybody who's watching here today that last year in Virginia we had a house of delegate election, total votes, 23,216. It was a tie. Dead even tie. We had to pick the winner out of a bowl. Please don't tell me your vote doesn't matter.

HARLOW: We remember that so well.


MCAULIFFE: Vote. Go out there today. You've got to vote. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Like they say in football, that's why they play the game, right?

MCAULIFFE: Yes, that's it.

SCIUTTO: That's why we hold the elections. You won't know until people vote.

Terry McAuliffe, thanks very much.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. Great to be with you.

HARLOW: Thank you.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: In moments, polls are going to open on the West Coast as well. The midterm elections in full swing across the country this morning. CNN is covering it all across the country. Please stay with us.


[09:58:57] HARLOW: All right, a reminder today about the sacrifices, the ultimate sacrifice, that is made to protect our rights to vote. Yesterday, we told you on this show about Major Brent Taylor's final FaceBook post before he was killed in Afghanistan. What would be his final message to all of us. Taylor wrote on FaceBook, quote, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote.

SCIUTTO: Well, early this morning, Taylor came home, and his wife stood by as his casket returned to U.S. soil there. Taylor, a father of seven, also served as the mayor of North Ogden, Utah. In January, he took a leave of absence to go back overseas, his fourth deployment. Taylor's wife says today is a perfect representation of why her late husband served.

[09:59:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIE TAYLOR, WIFE OF FALLEN SOLDIER BRENT TAYLOR: It seems only fitting that Brent, who in death now represents so much more than anything, something so much greater than any of our own individual lives, has come home to U.S. soil in a flag-draped casket on our Election Day. It is a timeless and cherished honor to service in our country's armed services.