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GOP Gov. Scott Walker Fighting for 3rd Term in Wisconsin; Candidates Could Make History in Several States; Congressional Race Can Give Idea of Where Country is Headed; Major Brent Taylor's Final Wish for Election Day in the U.S. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 6, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ryan Young is our CNN national correspondent, who is watching voting traffic outside a polling precinct in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Ryan, tell me more about that race.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Scott Walker is trying to run -- this is literally his third time running. He's going against Tony Evers, who he's going neck and neck with.

I'm talking to people who say they're doing too much about the stats here. They feel it's about the issues. One woman said. for her and her family, she wants to talk about wage growth. She thinks it's stagnant. She wants to see more money coming home in her pocket. She said she's stuck. She doesn't want to vote for the same thing going on, but taxes are low. She's also worried about her health care. She said those are the issues really hurting Americans, especially out here. And she talked about the idea of how the tariffs are impacting some of her family members because of the farmland. When you hear about issues like that, you understand the back and forth going on there.

Some believed Scott Walker was going to be the next star. He ran for president. And then there's the idea of wanting change in the area.

Then there's the impact -- we're just 30 minutes outside of Milwaukee. You know Harley-Davidson had to lay off so many workers. A big conversation here.

And then you had Paul Ryan's seat that's up, another Senate seat that's up. A lot of conversation about what will change here.

But two people told me they don't want to have all the fighting they've seen in Washington continue. They said there's too many things that unite us as Americans. They want a change at the ballot box because they believe this is the best part of us in terms of coming out to vote and coming out and staying strong. And today, Brooke, despite the weather, people have been showing up in force.

BALDWIN: Love it. All up and down the east coast a lot of rain. Hopefully, that won't deter people from exercising that First Amendment right.

Ryan Young, thank you very much.

As we think about who's on the ballot, we could hear the word "first" a lot. A number of candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are set to make history this midterm. Voters casting their ballots for African-American, transgender, and women candidates are likely to break down a series of societal barriers.

CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston, is here with a look at the prominent firsts.

Which is incredibly exciting on both sides of the ballot, starting with who could become first as far as first black governors in their states.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, it's going to be an amazing night. We obviously have this marquis race with Stacey Abrams in Georgia who could potentially not only the first African- American governor of that state but also nationally. And Andrew Gillum in Florida that other marquis race where Obama has been campaigning. And Ben Jealous in Maryland.

Stacey Abrams obviously leading a crop of potential historic firsts for women, which you have focused on. We have also the races in Arizona, for example. Retiring Senator Jeff Flake has touched off this battle between Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema. Such an exciting race all the way down to the end. McSally had to take that hard swerve to the right.

BALDWIN: Let me stop you because, no matter what in that state, there will be the first female Senator.


BALDWIN: Whereas, in Tennessee, it's a maybe if Marsha Blackburn can pull it off.

RESTON: Maybe, but a likely maybe, right.


RESTON: Obviously, a huge supporter of Trump there.

And potentially, in Nevada, we have the legislature that could potentially be a majority of women.

BALDWIN: Which is incredible.

RESTON: Amazing.

Also really hot Senate race in that state, with Jacky Rosen and Dean Heller.

And on the diversity spectrum, so many young, diverse candidates coming out. We potentially have the first Native American members of Congress, which would be really exciting.

And also the first potential Muslim-American members of Congress with Rashida Talab (ph) in Michigan and Yohan Omar (ph) in Minnesota.

BALDWIN: She's unopposed. She's also a write-in potential. But she's essentially this first female Muslim in Congress.

RESTON: Yes. Really going to be an amazing night for that.

And then we have so many of these candidates running on transgender issues. Christine Hallquist in Vermont, potentially the first governor there. And also in Colorado, you have Jared Polis who would be potentially the first gay governor.

So many things to watch for tonight. It's going to be really exciting.

BALDWIN: You've talked to a lot of people. As have I. A lot of women in particular. What was your biggest takeaway from all the ladies you been hearing from women?

RESTON: They are angry, frustrated, there is so much disdain for Trump and they are so determined on the Democratic side to turn out tonight and send a message. And especially, young women, Millennials, many of who did not turn out in 2016.

BALDWIN: They say they are showing up today.

Maeve Reston, thank you very much.

RESTON: Thank you.

[14:34:58] BALDWIN: Potential history being made.

Some polls do start closing in about three hours from now. Before you watch the returns tonight, right here on CNN, our very own John Berman will give us tonight's hour-by-hour viewer's guide of tonight's results.

And two years ago, the Midwest was key in giving Trump the White House. But today, it could be decisive for Democrats. We'll explain why, coming up next.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. We have special live coverage of Election Day. We're here live in Washington, D.C. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

While we've been talking about a lot of high-profile contests, like the governor races in Florida and Georgia, there are a smattering of congressional races that could be huge indicators of where this country is headed.

So John Berman, anchor of CNN "NEW DAY," is here.

Look at you. I was watching you over breakfast.


BALDWIN: You couldn't get enough of us, so your back.

BERMAN: I had a nap and now I'm back. I'm great.

[14:40:00] BALDWIN: So great.

What are those first indicators? I heard you're looking at Kentucky and Georgia.

BERMAN: Kentucky six. The polls close in Kentucky at 6:00 p.m.. This is a toss-up race. Look at like it's the play-in game in March Madness. For Republicans, it's the play-in game. The only way they even get to the tournament is to maintain control of that seat. If the Republican incumbent goes down in Kentucky at 6:00 p.m., that's a sign it's going to be a really long, bad night for them.

Georgia six is the same thing. If the Republicans lose there, again, it's a very bad night. If they hold those two races, though, it's no guarantee things will go well. It's when you get to the 8:00 hour where you really might see where things are headed.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey, right, in New Jersey, if Democrats pick up more than two seats, it means they are headed for perhaps 35, 40 seats. But if Republicans can get up to nine through Pennsylvania and through New Jersey without losing any toss-up race, that's a sign it might be a long night for the Democrats.

BALDWIN: Don't you have all those races in California? I know you're up super, super late.


BERMAN: I'm planning to be up all night. There are at least six, maybe as many as nine toss-up races on the west coast. I think the way to look at this is if the Democrats absolutely need them to get control of the House, this is not going the way they hoped. They want to be very nearly there already between pickups in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Virginia and the Midwest. If they absolutely need California, yes, they could get what they need there but they don't want to need California.

BALDWIN: I was just talking it a couple other equally intelligent people sitting here at this table and they were saying one of their biggest surprises would be if, heaven forbid, the polls are wrong and the Democrats, let's say, they do regain of the House but not by much. What does that signal to you?

BERMAN: I don't believe that is the most likely scenario. I would be most surprised in all of this if it is really close, if we're up super late watching this. To me, waves tend to wave. If the Democrats are going to take over, it's going to be because something is fundamentally going on and they're going to pick up a ton of seats. If the polls are not there, I think it would be fairly obvious that the Democrats aren't getting what they need and the likelihood of them picking up the House diminishes. I suppose it could be sort of a brawl for a few seats in California, even Alaska, into the wee hours of the morning. But if you're going to ask me what would surprise me most, what would surprise me most is if we don't know by nine-ish where this is headed.

BALDWIN: What do you think the headline will be when we wake up or don't wake up in the morning? What's the headline?


BERMAN: I don't know.

BALDWIN: All the people coming out to vote maybe?

BERMAN: I think if the polls are right, it's a good night for the Democrats. But I think there's a substantial possibility something is not registering. Look what happened in Florida. In 2016, Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, said we saw in Florida we weren't hitting the numbers we needed. What that told me, Robbie says, is we're not going to get what we need in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and these other states. So things tend to go big when they go. Trends trend.

BALDWIN: Listen, you always look to the president after a midterm election. I think the word that President Obama used was "shellacked."

BERMAN: Right.

BALDWIN: I'm not quite sure that is in the lexicon of Donald Trump. That said, what will his reaction be, especially in the Democrats take back the House?

BERMAN: I think there's a zero percent chance he quotes Barack Obama in general. I don't think he looks to President Obama for guidance. I don't think he say that, whether it's shellacking or thumping, I'm not sure. I think if President Trump has breakfast, he'll declare that a victory. I think he's going to declare victory one way or another. If Democrats take the House, he says, we didn't lose it by worse because of me. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, which is very possible, he'll claim that as a victory. I think that's the way he's going to see this. But midterm elections are a referendum on the party in power. And this could be --

BALDWIN: Certainly. But he says they're not.

BERMAN: They are. Traditionally, they are.

BALDWIN: They are.

BERMAN: This could be just a traditional one. It happens. When you have the first midterm for a president, things generally speaking go badly for him.

BALDWIN: That will be something to look for tomorrow morning, breakfast and beyond.

BERMAN: Breakfast and beyond. We'll be on early.

BALDWIN: How early? BERMAN: At 5:00 a.m.

BALDWIN: At 5:00 a.m., watch this guy and Alisyn Camerota on "NEW DAY" in the morning, bright and early. Not having slept, I have a feeling we'll be nerding out on all things Election Day.

John Berman, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

[14:45:04] Coming up next, an important reminder of what it means to vote. The widow of the Army major and Utah mayor, who was killed in Afghanistan, who urged fellow Americans to vote before he was killed, is speaking out. What she says about her husband's final wish for this Election Day.


[14:49:46] BALDWIN: If you're still deciding whether to cast a ballot today, stand in long lines or bad weather, think of one man's final wish, a man who died defending your right to do so. This is Major Brent Taylor, 39 years old, a husband, father of seven, a mayor in Utah. He left his town to serve his country.

But just 80 hours ago, Major Taylor, of the Army National Guard, was killed in Afghanistan from an insider attack, in a war that 14,000 Americans are still fighting, each minute, each hour of every day. And overnight, just hours before polls opened here in the U.S., his body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

And his last wish, made for a divided America. And because my word just won't do that wish justice, let me let his wife tell you in a tribute fit for the red, white and blue.


JENNIE TAYLOR, WIFE OF OGDEN, UTAH, MAYOR & MAJOR BRENT TAYLOR: This morning my two oldest sons have joined me and their proud but devastated grandparents in welcoming their father, Major Brent Russell Taylor, back on to U.S. soil and back home to the land he has always loved so dearly.

To call it a sobering event would be an unspeakable understatement. To say that our hearts are anything less than shattered would be nothing short of true deceit. And yet, to deny the sacred honor that it is to stand that close to some of the freshest blood that's been spilled for our country would be utter blasphemy.

I personally cannot yet find words adequate to tell you all that I feel as I stand here this morning by the dawn's early light. So I echo the words someone recently shared with me. Brent may have died on Afghan soil but he died for the freedom and democracy in both of our countries.

Just two weeks before Bent was killed in action, in the day before Afghanistan hosted its first parliamentary elections in eight years, there was an incident that took the life of one of my husband's dearest Afghan military colleagues and friends, a young lieutenant who, at the age of 22, had only recently finished his officer training.

Brent wrote, "The strong turnout at that election, despite the attacks and challenges, was a success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom. I am proud of the brave Afghan and U.S. soldiers I serve with. Many American, NATO and Afghan troops have died to make moments like this election possible."

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 serve in our country's armed service's. That honor has been Brent's as he served in the Utah National Guard for the past 15 years. And it has been mine for just as long because I have proudly stood by his side. And it has been and will continue to be the great honor of our seven children for the rest of their lives, and I pray, for many generations to come.

The price of freedom surely feels incredibly high to all those of us who know and love our individual soldier. But the value of freedom is immeasurable to all who know and love America and all that she represents.

Brent himself put it best just days ago when he implored us all, "I hope everyone back home exercises their pressure right to vote. And whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, I hope that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us."

[14:58:54] May God forever bless America.



BALDWIN: Hour two. Here we go. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live in Washington, D.C., for CNN's special coverage of Election Day in America.

Two years after the biggest political upset in modern U.S. history, Donald Trump winning the presidency, another extraordinary Election Day is in the works. This is the first chance for Americans nationwide to weigh in by ballot on what has happened since Trump took control of the White House.

And already we know many, many more Americans want a voice today than the last midterm election. At least 33 million ballots have been cast in early votes, blowing out the total number for 2014.