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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

435 House Races, 35 Senate Races And 36 Gov. Races Up For Grabs; Candidates Make Final Push With Elections Just Two Days Away; Sen. Johnson Says Dems Are Defending Election Official Fired After Allegedly Requesting Military Ballots For Fake Voters; Trump Dials Back Gov. DeSantis Rhetoric During Miami Rally; Trump Holds Rally For Sen. Rubio In Florida, Repeats Unfounded Claim That 2020 Election Was Stolen From Him. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 06, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Continuing our midterm countdown, there are two parts to the big picture. The House where all 435 seats are on the ballot and Republicans need to gain five seats to gain control, and the Senate with 35 seats are up for grabs and flipping just one gives control to Republicans.

CNN's Political Director David Chalian joins us now with many ways the Senate races could play out. So David, Democrats are, obviously, looking to hang on to their slim control of the Senate. What are the key races they'll be watching there?


DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Anderson. So this is the current makeup of the 50-50 Senate. The red and blue states are the ones that you mentioned, the 35 Senate elections. That will be on the ballot on Tuesday. But it really is going to come down to six states that will determine control of the Senate.

You have those four states where Democratic incumbents are imperiled, New Hampshire, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. And then you've got those two currently Republican held states in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So these six toss up states, how they fall will determine control of the Senate.

And as you noted, Anderson, the Democrats have control right now. So all they need to do is hold their own. If their four vulnerable incumbents here hang on, well, then the Dems would be at 50 and they'd have Vice President Harris's tie, and they'd be able to hang on to control.

COOPER: What happens if one of those Democratic incumbents comes up short?

CHALIAN: Yes, well, let's -- for the purposes of this exercise, let's take a look at New Hampshire. Brand new poll just came out today from the University of New Hampshire total toss up race, right, much more competitive at the end here than anticipated. But let's say Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan can hang on there.

And in Georgia, let's assume for a moment that Raphael Warnock defeats Herschel Walker there, and that Mark Kelly can hang on against Blake Masters in Arizona there. But for the purposes of this exercise, let's assume that Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic incumbent falls in Nevada and Adam Laxalt wins this race here, now you've got those two Republican held seats.

This is why you see Pennsylvania so important. Let's say Ron Johnson wins in Wisconsin, everything comes down to Pennsylvania. The whole reason why Democrats are making such a play with John Fetterman is because here's the state Joe Biden won, currently Republican held but it's an open seat, and they think maybe they can flip it as an insurance policy in case one of their incumbents falls.

COOPER: Obviously in 2020, control of the Senate wasn't settled. And so well, after Election Day, because the Georgia candidates ended up going to a runoff, there could be a runoff again in Georgia.

CHALIAN: Yes, there could be indeed. So let me unassign Georgia and put that back in a battleground territory there. And let's, for the moment say, John Fetterman does win that battle against Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. Looking what you have here, right, you swapped the Democrats lost Nevada, but they picked up in Pennsylvania, a swap, Georgia is on the side.

If neither candidate gets 50 percent and it goes to December 6, entire control of the Senate comes down to Georgia again. If the Republicans get it, they win. And if the Democrats get it, they'd be back at a 50- 50 Senate. The entire political universe will descend upon Georgia for four weeks if that is the scenario, Anderson.

COOPER: Wow. That'll be fun. David Chalian, thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

COOPER: CNN Political Commentator David Urban joins the panel. He's the new kid on the block. He served as campaign adviser to the former president. Back with us David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Van Jones and Alyssa Farah Griffin. So David, what Senate races you'd be watching particularly, which ones are you most concerned about?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK, as the Pennsylvanian, right, so my intro didn't include I was a chief of staff for a senator from Pennsylvania for years and years. And your former panelists Charlie Dent I helped get Charlie Dent elected, so I have more than my fair share of interest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

And look, you know, I heard David Chalian's analysis and, you know, Democrats are banking on flipping Pennsylvania. I think that that's their plan. They're going to be hurting on election night. I do think, I've been saying this all year, don't sleep on Tiffany Smiley in Washington State. It is a close race and incredibly close race. The fact that Patty Murray is in a battle for her life is very telling about this current political climate activity. Tiffany Smiley is an incredible candidate. So that's one to watch. Going to be late in the night, early in the morning. But other than, you know, Oz and all the others, Tiffany Smiley in Washington State.

COOPER: David Axelrod, what are the odds the Democrats can hang on to control the Senate?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's -- I think it's challenging for Democrats to hang on to the Senate because they have so many -- you know, David said, if they hold on to their four vulnerable seats, you know, they'll -- they're fine. Well, they're vulnerable seats. So, hanging on to all four of them is going to be a challenge.

And, you know, Dave mentions the Washington race. You know, now the New Hampshire race coming into the picture. I don't know that Democrats will lose those races. That would be a stunning development. But it does to speak to the kind of year that we're in, in which the ties don't go to the incumbents, the ties go to the challenging party, and I think that's the concern that a lot of Democrats have right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that like I was in New Hampshire covering the Bolduc race, and sort of mid-October and there was standing room only. He's done 80 town halls. He's been a very good candidate.


Maggie Hassan, a former governor, senator, good, you know, good candidate as well. But he was really getting for New Hampshire, really getting the crowds.

And you have to say to yourself, what's going on in New Hampshire? And if it's going on there, what about the rest of the country and now of course, that race is too close to call. So --

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And here's one, he's going to benefit from the fact that the incumbent Governor Chris Sununu is incredibly popular.

BORGER: Exactly.

GRIFFIN: So if you're just voting down ballot, I think that's going to be his best bet. And by the way, this is a candidate, Brian Bolduc, who Sununu was distancing himself from in the primary. He's a bit on the extreme side of things, he does. He is a war hero. He has a very interesting history, but he's had some very extreme positions. But it speaks to how bad the environment is for Democrats that an incumbent popular -- relatively popular senator like Hassan is having such a hard time.

BORGER: Sununu called him a crazy conspiracy theorist. I mean, it wasn't --

AXELROD: You meant it in a nice way.

BORGER: And then he took it back and he said, oh, you know, we all have to vote Republican --

URBAN: The right check wrong, check numbers, I think are really telling, right? When you have -- I think NBC just had to pull out 81 percent kind of wrong track. When you have those numbers, that's a change election. It doesn't matter who you are. If you're the incumbent, you're in big trouble, right?

AXELROD: Well, particularly, Dave, I think when you look at the economic so -- you know, the numbers are similar when people are asked to rate the economy. So it's a tough environment. But, you know, you mentioned Governor Sununu, I think Democrats were relieved when he decided not to run for the Senate thinking, well, at least here's one we don't have to worry about as much and now they do.

Same in Arizona, where Doug Ducey, the governor was run out of the potential of running for the Senate because Donald Trump was mad at certifying the election.

COOPER: Where are you (INAUDIBLE)?

VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I mean, I see Pennsylvania a little bit differently than you, but I do --

URBAN: That's why I'm on the panel.

JONES: Look, I think that Fetterman is a -- is real. And I think that there's nothing wrong with Fetterman, that's not going to heal. He's doing very well for a stroke that can this time next year, he will be perfectly fine. The stuff that's wrong with Oz will never heal, because he has been a snake oil salesman and people know that.

There's a sense that he's not -- that he has a big phony. And I think that it's unfortunate. I think he probably shouldn't have done the debate. But there are people out there who understand that Pennsylvania matters. I've talked to a lot of people on the ground there and people are fighting Fetterman and he's fighting for them. So, I wouldn't write off.

I think there's more going on here than I think we can know. The things are happening there are weird. For instance, when people go knock on doors. You don't know what was on that person's phone a few minutes ago. There's micro targeting going on, there's social media stuff that's going on.

It's not just the big ads. We talked about the ads. We talked about the politicians. We talked about the big speeches, that's not where people are living. People aren't even watching TV, but there's stuff that --

URBAN: We hope so.

JONES: They're not watching TV the way they used to. But there's stuff that's going on that's moving. And I just -- I don't want to depress any turnout here. I think that there's a real fight in Pennsylvania and I think Bedminster has a real shot.

URBAN: Let me zero a quick counter on that one, right. So I wish the bait would have been more substantive, right, because I don't like to heard from John Fetterman why he voted -- over 200 times on the parole board in opposition to the guy who's running with his attorney -- the Attorney General, right? So he voted to parole people and barred people.

And the Attorney General Josh Shapiro voted not to. So, I'd like to hear those cases, you know, going to litigate it out in the public forum, right, and say, why did you vote that way? Now, I'd like to hear his answer on what do you do to bring it. He couldn't help revive Braddock, the town he was mayor of, right? He accuses (INAUDIBLE) but it didn't help the people in Braddock.

JONES: The reason we didn't want to talk about Fetterman is because you can't talk about Oz because Oz completely -- there's a reason you ran a campaign against the guy because he's a complete razor and a complete felony. So, yes.


AXELROD: There's another candidate who had a better shot, yes.

BORGER: Oz is deeply unpopular. His -- I mean, his favorable rating is like 38 percent, something like that. If he wins, there's a bigger thing going on, as you're saying then.

JONES: Fair enough.

BORGER: Because people don't like.

AXELROD: You know what, every one of the Republican challengers in these key races are underwater.


AXELROD: Which tells you about the year. And then I'm not saying that I don't know what's going to happen --

COOPER: Right.

AXELROD: -- and I do think people should work and fight and come out and vote and I mean, fight in a wholesome way. But I'm, you know, Democrats have the wind in their face.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue to talk about some of the closest races including Wisconsin where Republican Senator Ron Johnson locked in a tight contest with Senate Governor Mandela Barnes. Also more on the impact the former President is making in this election, his appearances this weekend, but also the waves he continues to make as he teases around in 2024. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Wisconsin today saw a flurry of campaigning with incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson and the Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes making half dozen sounds between them. Senator Johnson recently declined to commit to accepting the outcome of the election instead saying, quote, "I sure hope I can, but I can't predict what the Democrats might have planned."

Joining us now from Milwaukee is Omar Jimenez. Where does the race stand between Johnson and Barnes?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as in many places, we are past the marathon mindset and into the final sprint less than 48 hours to go polls have shown no clear leader between these two. They've really been trying to find the edge some sort of daylight in these final hours as part of why Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, the Democratic candidate was campaigning with the president of Planned Parenthood today along with the Chair of the DNC on the tail end of his 100 plus stop RV tour.

And they told us their strategy here really at the end is to meet as many people as they can, meet them where they are and not assume anyone's vote on the issues that matter. Senator Ron Johnson on the tail end of his own bus tour, where it's expected to finish tomorrow, as he appears alongside former governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

COOPER: You spoke to Senator Johnson about a local election official who was fired this week of a false ballot request. What did he have to say?

JIMENEZ: Yes. So part of why Senator Johnson this week says, I sure hope I can accept the results of Tuesday's election is, he's cited a case out of here in Milwaukee of a now former election official who allegedly obtained military ballots for fake voters. Take a listen to some of our exchange.


JIMENEZ: And it doesn't make you feel better that she got caught in this instance?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: She got caught by -- and being prosecuted by and defended by a bunch of Democrats. I don't know -- I do not know what's happening. It is the most bizarre story, it's just suspicious. And we should be doing everything we can to restore confidence. We want full transparency, full access. And if that happens, and that's what needs to happen, then I'll accept the results.



JIMENEZ: Now, for the record, the Wisconsin Elections Commissions of the state, elections commission here, said that no votes were affected by this particular case, and that the system worked as it should have because this person was caught. Not to mention military ballots make up less than 1 percent of the ballots that were -- are requested or counted on average here. That said, the Elections Commission and local jurisdictions are clearly going to have their work cut out for them as we head into election day, because there will be many who will be looking for even the slightest irregularity, no matter how significant they end up being or not. Anderson?

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, thanks so much.

Back with the panel. You know, David Axelrod, all of this talk about transparency and restoring confidence. I mean, that is all just -- I mean, those are code words, there is no widespread voter fraud. I mean, it's not an issue --

AXELROD: Right. Well, Senator Johnson has been a purveyor of conspiracy theories from the beginning, he was also involved in communicating back and forth on the issue of false selectors. So he's deeply, deeply rooted in this whole denialism. And he's generally, he's been, you know, a little bit bizarre at times, and that's the reason that he is unpopular in that state.

And what he has done is what unpopular candidates do, which he spent the month of September and October, trying to make Mandela Barnes the issue, and particularly his roots in the activist community. They're tried to time to defund police movement. And as with other states, the crime issue has cut there. And it's turned what was a Barnes lead into a -- maybe a slightly uphill battle for him.

BORGER: I mean, Johnson was considered the most vulnerable --


BORGER: -- senator, the most vulnerable senator.


BORGER: And he has successfully made this caricature out of Mandela Barnes. You can make the case, though, that Barnes was too progressive for the state of Wisconsin. And that may be a real problem for the Democrats that perhaps they could have run a better candidate, a more -- a different candidate, let me put it that way, because Barnes has been a very good candidate, but somebody with different credentials to run in the state of Wisconsin.

JONES: It's just so heartbreaking because, you know, he is a good guy, and he's a strong guy, and he believes what he believes in, I don't think he's as out of touch as he's been caricature. And also, just to not forget, we're going up against a Republican Party that just took away women's rights that had an insurrection that they don't seem to think was a bad thing that is, you know, still doing an election live stuff and has, frankly, a bunch of terrible candidates.

And so you think --

URBAN: And you still can't win. JONES: Exactly. It's like, that's --

URBAN: Men, you guys suck.

JONES: And I think that's -- when you -- if you get beneath all the chatter, I think what you have right now you have a bunch of Democrats across the country, there's a fear and a dread in the pit of the stomach. That after all we've been through as a country, having seen that the Capitol ransacked, having seen Donald Trump promoting these lies, having seen all these Republicans going along with nonsense, that somehow still we can't convince the American people that making a big U-turn back toward these Republicans, not just Republicans, but these Republicans is a bad idea.

URBAN: But let's --

JONES: It's heart wrench.

URBAN: You're going to wins. Look, in Pennsylvania, you got Doug Mastriano versus Josh Shapiro.

COOPER: Josh Shapiro.

URBAN: A clear choice, right?

BORGER: Right.

URBAN: And Westmore, you're going to have these bright spots, right? A good friend of mine, Jared Moskowitz in Florida, kind of a bipartisan guy, got to win a seat and -- they're going to be bright spots for Democrats or --

AXELROD: This shows up confident Republicans --


COOPER: That's how bad it's going to be, David Urban. Wow, all right.

GRIFFIN: It was -- Mandela Barnes was a recruitment failure by Democrats. If they had run more of a Tim Ryan kind of race, Ron Johnson would be in a much tougher place in Wisconsin. They needed to run a moderate who's talking to working class people, who's talking about getting the economy going, being a defender of, you know, voices that aren't heard. And that's not what he's leaning into.

And once again, just making abortion your whole identity is not the winning issue that's going to turn people out. Frankly, it's a privilege and an economy where most people can't make ends meet to be able to be a single-issue voter on something like reproductive rights, and I think that that's where Democrats are majorly missing the mark in this cycle.

COOPER: Yes. David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Van Jones, David Urban, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you so much.

Joining us just ahead, a live report from Miami CNN's Kristen Holmes is trailing the former president tonight. He and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holding rallies one day after the former president took an unmistakable swipe at the man who made challenge him for the 2024 Republican Party nomination for president. We'll go there live then.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- for the nomination like nobody's ever seen before. Let's say there it is Trump at 71, Ron De-sanctimonious at 10 percent.


COOPER: CNN's Kristen Holmes is in Miami trailing the former president. So what more can you tell us about how Governor DeSantis factored into the former president's speech last night -- or tonight I should say?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Trump sounded completely different when talking about DeSantis tonight, not only did he mention the Florida Governor, but he encouraged everyone in the crowd to go out and reelect him. Now, this might seem somewhat surprising since normally we hear the former president double down not actually change course when he started to insult someone, but it's a lot less surprising when you understand how annoyed and even angry so many Republicans were that the former president chose to take a swipe at Governor DeSantis just days before for the midterm.


I cannot tell you the number of people I talked to even Trump allies who said that they were trying to get in touch with members of Trump's inner circle to tell them, to tell Trump that he had made a mistake.

Now, this has the potential between former President Trump and Ron DeSantis to get very ugly in the future. We have reported just last week that Trump is eyeing the two weeks between the midterms and Thanksgiving to launch a third presidential run. And DeSantis is largely considered Trump's most formidable opponents, if he should run as well.

But the thing to note here is that Republicans understand that this could get complicated between the two. They just thought that Trump's timing was off doing this. It's so close to the midterms.

COOPER: How much of this rally that the former president gave in Florida was about supporting Marco Rubio's campaign and how much was it about the former president's own ambition?

HOLMES: Well, while there was no real reason for him to campaign in Miami, and we see him traveling the country giving a boost to his handpicked candidates, many of whom are in locked races. That is not the case here in Florida. Senator Marco Rubio is a favorite in every single poll, he is leading.

There's a lot of confusion as to why exactly former President Trump chose to come here. And that's why it was seen as a shot across the bow towards Ron DeSantis. Again, as both of them are seeming more and more likely to run for president in 2024. And I will tell you, I heard from one Trump ally, when this rally was announced, who said, oh, well, we might be trolling a little bit here, clearly approaching the governor on his home turf.

But it has been interesting to see how the two have largely avoided each other until now, even though both of them are the leading Republicans, not just in the state of Florida, but really in the country.

COOPER: Kristen Holmes, appreciate it.

Perspective now from Conservative Lawyer George Conway, who's also Contributing Columnist to The Washington Post. What did you make the former president rolling out the nickname maybe from Roger Stone from about DeSantis?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Well, he -- the former president does not like sharing attention with anyone, and he doesn't like anybody potentially challenging him. And Ron DeSantis has gotten a lot of play on Fox News and in conservative circles, as a potential challenger to Trump.

So Trump doesn't like that and Trump thinks and it's been reported that DeSantis hasn't properly paid homage to Trump in a way that Trump believes he should have been paying homage. And Trump believes that he is the basically the reason why Ron DeSantis is governor of Florida today.

COOPER: Do you think the former president is going to announce --

CONWAY: Yes, I absolutely do think he's going to net sooner rather than later. I think he's been itching to do it. I hope the reports. I think he wants to do it because he wants to clear the field. He wants to deter other people from running. He wants to, and he also -- he wants revenge. He wants revenge for everything, that all the persecution he feels has been laid upon him over the past several years. And it's going to be a rough campaign.

And also, I think he thinks that this is a form running for president, is a form of protection against criminal prosecution. He faces a major, major criminal issues, particularly in the documents that -- the Mar-a-Lago documents case about the top-secret documents that he stole. And that, you know, running for president is a way of -- he thinks of defending himself against that.

COOPER: Do you think he's right about that?

CONWAY: No, I don't think so because I think the evidence is going to determine what the Justice Department does. And the evidence is going to turn what the Justice Department does, both in that case, and in the January 6 case. And what happened -- and it's also going to turn what happens in Georgia, where there's a very serious investigation that's quite far along.

COOPER: The -- do you think Governor DeSantis is the most formidable of potential primary opponents for the President? I don't know if DeSantis would run if the President announces.

CONWAY: I think he -- I think if I had to pick one person to run against him, who might have a chance, it would be DeSantis. I don't think he's as good a candidate as people make him out to be. But the fact of the matter is, he has a lot of popularity. And the problem is the only way he could beat Trump would be in a one-on-one race, which I -- and in a race where basically goes after Trump hammer and tong, you know, would be a brutally divisive race.

And even if DeSantis managed to pull it off, he'd have a good chunk of the Republican base angry at them. I don't think it's surprising that Donald Trump toned it down today about DeSantis. If I were advising Donald Trump, I'd say to him, look more on -- you go after DeSantis, he's a guy who's going to win next Tuesday by 10 or 15 points. And if you can go after him again, you're going to look like a jerk because the next day, the story is going to-- stories going to read, Ron DeSantis wins landslide victory despite Trump attack. And so that's why he's tone that down.


But I can guarantee you, after next Tuesday, you'll hear some more of that language.

COOPER: CNN reported, as you know, the Justice Department is considering special counsel if Trump runs in 2024 to help oversee federal investigations related to him. I mean, if he does announce, how could that potentially complicate things for the DOJ?

CONWAY: Well, I mean, the DOJ has to make a decision whether it really matters that Trump is a candidate for president. Or in fact, the matter is Trump has been making clear that he is going to be a candidate, and Trump is a major figure in the Republican Party. He's been doing that for two years.

Now, in January of 2021, a couple of weeks after January 6, I wrote an op ed in the Washington Post, arguing that there should be multiple special counsels appointed to look at Trump's conduct divided by subject matter. But the Justice Department who decided to keep it all in House, and I think I'm not sure it makes -- I think the problem of doing it at this point was would be that it causes delay that I don't think is a good idea. I think if they have -- they made the choice to keep it in House and they should should probably stick with that.

COOPER: I mean, even having a special counsel is not like that would stop the former president from --

CONWAY: Absolutely right.

COOPER: -- impugning their motives attacking them --

CONWAY: Right, absolutely. COOPER: -- we've seen that script before.

CONWAY: Right. Absolutely right. He attacks judges, he attacks the judge in New York. He attacks, in fact, anybody no matter what their pedigree is, as being part of the conspiracy against him. And, you know, it's -- he's going to make it a political mud bath no matter what happens.

COOPER: George Conway, appreciate you on. Thanks very much.

Coming up, new details on how Spanish speaking communities are being inundated with election disinformation and conspiracy theories and a look at how it's spreading easily.



COOPER: This election season, both Democrats Republicans have been pushing specifically -- made pushes, I should say, specifically targeting Hispanic voters. According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanic voters are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the electorate since the last midterms.

The number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by nearly 5 million since 2018. But Spanish speaking communities are also being flooded with disinformation conspiracy theories, much of it through social media. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan looks at how that happens in this report.


EVELYN PEREZ-VERDIA, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICE, WE ARE MAS: We are sitting in a home where I used to break bread with Republicans who have now been radicalized.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some Latinos here in South Florida, election lies have ruptured friendships and split families.

PEREZ-VERDIA: It's dividing our families, but it's also creating a lot of distrust in Spanish speaking voters.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The same kind of election lies and even QAnon conspiracy theories that circulate in English also go viral among the Spanish speaking community.

TAMOA CALZADILLA, FACT CHECKER, FACTCHEQUEADO: You can see disinformation in English and in two or three days you can see disinformation with captions in Spanish.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Tamoa Calzadilla, a journalist who had to flee Venezuela is now a Spanish language fact checker. And so, some of the disinformation is targeted at immigrants from specific countries.

(on-camera): So this narrative that the Biden administration, as a socialist communist regime?

CALZADILLA: Sensitive for people that came from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, is scary.

MARIA CORINA VEGAS, BIDEN SUPPORTER: If what your friends or family are telling you is the Democrats are radical socialists, they're the same as the -- what Chavez brought to Venezuela.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Maria Corina Vegas's phone is filled with disinformation from her friends and relatives, including QAnon type lies about pedophilia and the Democratic Party.

CORINA VEGAS: I don't want my grandchildren living in a society that does not condemn pedophilia.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Vegas volunteered for the Biden campaign in 2020, she says the Democrats should not ignore disinformation.

CORINA VEGAS: So in Spanish, (Foreign Language), you know if you stay silent, you're conceding the point.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What is the phrase in Spanish?

CORINA VEGAS: (Speaking Foreign Language). You're essentially acknowledging that it's true.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): But are you seriously saying that the Democrats should be out there saying Joe Biden's on a pedophile, like responding to every meme?

CORINA VEGAS: When there is a narrative that is created, and you have people on the ground telling you this is having an impact, you should add a minimum lesson and try to come up with a strategy to counter it.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): One of the challenges of tackling Spanish disinformation is that so much of it is spread on the messaging platform, WhatsApp. Messages are encrypted so fact check labels can't be used like they are on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ALAN DUKE, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LEAD STORIES: Why is it happening now? I think it's very simple as the stakes are very high.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Alan Duke is a global fact checker, who says the disinformation is aimed at winning critical Latino votes.

DUKE: The Spanish American voters are very crucial in many of the races. There are -- it's different in different parts of the country. There are some very important key political races that are being targeted with this misinformation.

JUAN CARLOS PLANAS, FORMER FLORIDA REPUBLICAN: I became a Democrat the week after the November 2020 election, when I saw that Republicans were in denial about what was a fair -- free and fair election.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): JC Planas is a former Republican Florida House Representative, and now lectures on the electoral system. (on-camera): You said you've lost friends because of this.

PLANAS: One of the fears of the Hispanic community is we're going to have socialism and we're going to have a socialist dictatorship. The best way to make sure that we do not have socialism is to protect our democracy. If we protect our democracy, we can survive.


COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. How big a role does WhatsApp play in the spread of this?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, so WhatsApp, Anderson, is used far more by people who can speak Spanish than just voters who are only English speakers. And look, it is a very, very different platform to the likes of Facebook and is more like a messaging app. And there's just no fact checking on there and every single person we spoke to brought up bots up that they were seeing all this stuff.


All that sort of QAnon crazy, as Tamoa, the fact checker in that piece mentioned, you know, the QAnon stuff gets translated very, very quickly and center on this message (ph).

COOPER: And is there anything we've done to counter the spread of this stuff?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, there's -- the fact checkers in Spanish who are working, but we have heard from a lot of Latino groups recently saying that the major platforms while they're investing big in English fact checking, they're not doing as much in Spanish. The platforms are saying they're doing what they can.

But I think this issue of WhatsApp kind of is the core of all of these. Because WhatsApp, right, people like using WhatsApp because it is an encrypted Messenger, and people want privacy. That being said, some of the groups on WhatsApp can have hundreds of people in them, and they act -- it just then begins to look like your kind of standard social media feed and you see all sorts of junk in there.

COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it. Thanks.

Still to come, why President Biden, other top Democrats are campaigning and what traditionally is safely Democratic territory in New York and why the problems for Democrats in the Northeast don't stop there.



COOPER: New York's Governor race will be heavily watched Tuesday night for signs of potential red wave. Already President Biden, former President Clinton, Vice President Harris and Hillary Clinton have campaigned there the past several days. New York's Governor Kathy Hochul is locked in a tight race for the Republican Lee Zeldin, what's traditionally very blue state.

Several Democratic members of Congress are also seen as vulnerable and it's not just New York. Other vulnerable areas in the Northeast include several House races in New Jersey, Congressman Tom Malinowski is in a rematch with Republican Tom Kean Jr. Malinowski told CNN that his district is a, quote, bellwether for the country.

In New Hampshire, Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan is in a close race with a Brigadier General Don Bolduc, endorsed by the former president. It's ironic because the Democratic group reportedly spent more than $3 million to boost Bolduc in the Republican primary by attacking a rival. The state's Republican governor had called him a, quote, conspiracy theory extremist.

I'm joined now by former Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Democrats in the region. Congressman, you look at these races throughout the Northeast that are contested in a way that has not been seen for more than a decade. How bad do you think it's going to be on Tuesday for Democrats?

JOE KENNEDY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Anderson, first off, I know enough about politics to know that they're really smart folks don't make predictions. So who knows what's going to happen on election night? We'll see. Certainly, the narrative has been with Republicans for the past couple of weeks.

Thanks, in large part to, an extraordinary amount of money that is pummeling these candidates, a number of them you mentioned with at that -- and particularly that New York governor's race, they quite frankly didn't expect, they didn't expect tens of millions of dollars to get dropped on their head to push a narrative that would boost Lee Zeldin. We knew this was going to be a tough cycle for Democrats, historically, the party in power, who whichever party is in power of the presidency and the majorities end up losing seats the cycle with uniform control that was even in be more so.

But certainly, yes, Democrats are on defense. That's also interesting, because as you alluded to, Republicans in the northeast, it was in New England, don't have a single seat in the House of Representatives. So, as I say, starting from zero, got nothing to lose.

COOPER: The issues on the economy, on crime have certainly been pushed by Republicans, and that seems to be working for them. Did Democrats rely too much thinking the issue of abortion, the idea of democracy being on the ballot, democracy in danger and not enough on economic issues, you know, bread and potato issues?

KENNEDY: So I think that is a narrative that ends up getting set a bit naturally. When you look at those races in the Northeast, I just don't think that's wholly the case, right. Main -- the seat in northern Maine held currently by Jared Golden was a Marine Corps vet, one of those conservative members of the House of Representatives. That seat is a swing seat, almost every single cycle.

The seat you referenced, the House seat you referenced in New Hampshire, Congressman Chris Pappas, that seat has been -- was redrawn by Republicans with uniform control of the House, Statehouse, State Senate and governor's office in New Hampshire to make that seat far more competitive. Pappas is still up in those polls.

Race in -- races in Connecticut are still actually favoring Democrats, although they're tighter, right. Without question again, some national historic trends there that make it difficult. I think when it comes down to it, though, House races in many of these, they're battle tested comments that know how to run tough races. And I wouldn't bet against them, right.

Yes, they've got headwinds but trying to say that, you know, in northern Maine is a narrative that Republicans are using in southern Florida that's going to split that seat. I don't think that's the case.

COOPER: Many of the Republican contenders in the Northeast seem to be branding themselves as more moderate than some of their MAGA counterparts in other areas of the country. Do you believe that they actually are?

KENNEDY: No. In fact, they don't. I mean, that New Hampshire House race, the challenger to Congressman Pappas is a former Trump staffer. The challenger to Senator Hassan, as you referenced, is, in fact, a conspiracy theorist. He's been all over the map on a number of positions, whether it's election integrity, abortion, otherwise trying to have it both ways.

Republicans have come in, spending millions of dollars supporting them, just because they want to see the Senate not because he's actually reflective of the people's voices in New Hampshire. So, look, we're at a point now where politics has become so tribal. You're literally two days before an election, and Republicans are going to support whatever candidates they have in a field.

That's what they're doing. You can't tell me, honestly, that Herschel Walker is more Christian than a Christian pastor running in that race given all the scandals Herschel Walker has experienced. It's just -- it's laughable. If it weren't, the consequences weren't so stark, and so severe.

COOPER: Do you think of this as the natural ebb and flow of political parties? Is this indicative of something more, a larger trend that could reshape how politics in the region?


KENNEDY: I think of this as part of the ebb and flow of politics, but like everything else these days, Anderson, it's that ebb and flow put on top of gerrymandering, put on top of social media and put on top of the impact of Citizens United and unregulated spending, put on top of everything else that amplifies the most extreme, the worst parts of our society, trying to vilify and tear our country apart to win an election.

And look, this gets scary and scary. Covered the threats that are up against members of Congress, the threats that are taking place at campaign events, obviously, the targeting of family members that we saw, you know, this past week with Speaker Pelosi and her family. This is scary. It is a scary time to put yourself out there for a run for public office, which is a tragedy for our country, right? Truly a tragedy.

So, are there darker trends of force here? Yes, there are. Is that a harbinger for things to come? God, I hope not.

COOPER: Joe Kennedy, I appreciate your time. Thank you. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Candidates have one last day to campaign before election day. We'll be covering it all. Be sure to watch our special election night coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. We'll have up the minute results in all the key races from coast to coast.

John King will be the magic wall and our political analysts and commentators will be sharing their thoughts as American decides what party will have controlled the House and the Senate for the next few years. A big night, I hope you join us.

The news continues. And I hand it over with Dana Bash and Abby Phillip for Election Week in America.