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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

CNN Projection: Democrat Katie Hobbs Defeats Kari Lake For AZ Governor; Pence Giving "Prayerful Consideration" To A Presidential Run; New Audio Highlights Actions Of Uvalde's Acting Police Chief During Mass Shooting. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 14, 2022 - 21:00   ET



VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He screwed up in the 1998 midterm by just getting fewer folks elected than he promised. And he was gone.

And so, I think, there's something about this Republican Party. If you're the party leader, and you don't have a great midterm performance, people start moving away. And I think you might actually see that happening now.


JONES: I just think - I think Trump is weaker than he's ever been before. And I think, tomorrow, you would expect people to rally for Trump. I think you're going to see something quite different, tomorrow. You're not going to see people rushing to the party, if standard bearer, people are standing back, and other people are going to be criticizing.

COOPER: Yes. Van Jones, Governor John Kasich, appreciate it. Thank you.

A programming note. On Wednesday, CNN is going to host a special town hall, with former Vice President Mike Pence, a live studio audience, along with my colleague, Jake Tapper, be asking Vice President Pence questions, starting at 9 PM Eastern.

We are going to reset here, at the top of the hour. If you're just joining us, thanks very much, another hour of AC360.

I want to go to Kyung Lah, who is standing by, in Phoenix - in Arizona, in Maricopa County, with the latest vote count, in the governor's race.

What is it, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest vote count that we're getting, from Maricopa County, which is - and I just want to point this out, to people, if they're just joining us.

Maricopa County is the largest county, in the State of Arizona. Often, you have to win in Maricopa, if you want to win in the state. That's why we are here. That's why the candidates pay so much attention to it.

And tonight, this latest batch, we did see Kari Lake do slightly better. But she needed to do even better, according to people, from within her campaign. And so, what we see, right now, coming out of Maricopa County, is that Katie Hobbs, the Democrat remains at 51 percent. Kari Lake is at 49 percent. That is very close. But then you size that up through the state. And those numbers then continue to show that Katie Hobbs remains in the lead.

We are hearing from a source from within the Kari Lake campaign, someone we've been talking to, for many days, who characterizes, tonight, a vote dump that the Lake campaign had been riding on, to break in their favor that all of their maps show that they needed to win this.

That source's characterizing this as quote, "A massive disappointment" that this batch, they anticipated, would be very Republican, and it just didn't happen. They were anticipating that 66 percent of this batch needed to be won by Kari Lake. And that number is far higher. It's a bit higher than what it actually ended up being.

I'm also, Anderson, getting a lot of reaction, from Republicans, within the state. There was quite a battle between moderate Republicans, McCain Republicans, who really make up the fabric, have traditionally made up the fabric, of Republicans, in this state, a long history, dating from John McCain, all the way to Barry Goldwater. And they are reacting.

One person, who I want to quote, Barrett Marson, who worked for Blake Masters, during the primary, says that he hopes that Kari Lake will quote, "Graciously concede." And he says that the lesson of this election tells us one thing. "This election tells us one thing: following Trump over the cliff will not win elections."

And then, I was just talking about that battle, between the McCain Republicans, and the Trump Republicans, a fierce battle, we've seen, over a couple of different cycles. One of the Republicans, in this state, said that Kari Lake told a legion of John McCain supporters, across Arizona that they could go to hell. Tonight, they returned the favor.

So, this sort of angst, what we see, is that Republicans, those McCain Republicans, they ended up fundraising for Katie Hobbs. We talked to a number of them, many on camera, who said that they simply couldn't stomach the Trump Republicans. That what they wanted was what McCain represented. Decency, honesty, and conservative values, which they feel is the real fabric of Arizona, and that they did not feel that a future with Kari Lake would deliver that.


COOPER: Kyung, I want to check in with John King, at the Magic Wall.

John, what else can you tell us, about these latest ballots, from Arizona? JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Just that the math is getting near impossible, for Kari Lake, despite a very improved performance, in those last numbers, in Maricopa County.

Let's walk through it, Anderson. Here's where we are. And here's the challenge for Kari Lake. We are running out of available votes. The pool of available votes, for her to catch up, has now shrunk, almost to the point of where Katie Hobbs' lead is. Not quite.

The Katie Hobbs is now of 20,481 votes. That's 50 percent, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. That is a very, very, very close race, right? But here was the challenge. We talked about this earlier, in the 8 o'clock hour.

Kari Lake needed to get 60 percent, or more, of the new votes, in Maricopa County. These are the new votes that came in, in the last hour. And yes, finally, she got more votes than Katie Hobbs, in a vote installment. There were five previous vote installments came in today, from different locations, in Arizona. Kari Lake was on the bottom of all of them.


Finally, she comes out on top 40,575 to 30,825, in this new installment, in Maricopa County. That's 57 percent. That's a big number. But not when you need 60 percent or more. And that was the challenge. And that's why, as Kyung Lah is saying, from her sources, inside the Lake war room, they knew this was disappointing.

You look at that. You think "Wow! 57 percent, in a county," let me bring up the county here, Maricopa County, where Katie Hobbs, forgive me, has led throughout the race. It's the blue county.

So, if you see these numbers, Kari Lake should be encouraged, except it is so late in the race, and the university, of available votes is so small. This was the biggest pool left of available votes. She needed 60 percent or more in these votes. She got 57 percent.

So now, Anderson, she's losing Maricopa County. She's losing statewide. And the challenge is, and the pressure on her, tonight, is to acknowledge the math, and bow out gracefully. But we also know she surrounds herself, at times, with Trump lawyers, Trump acolytes, Steve Bannon, and others. So, this is going to be fascinating to watch.

They can do the math, if they want. They can check out the number of outstanding votes. But I can tell you, we don't have an exact number yet. But that number of outstanding votes is not terribly much higher than 20,481 that Katie Hobbs lead.

And so, what we've seen so far, and consistently, over the last six days, can you expect Kari Lake, to get 70 percent or 80 percent, or maybe more than that of the remaining vote? That's pretty unrealistic.

COOPER: John, standby.

With us is Allie Bones. She is Arizona's Assistant Secretary of State.

Madam Secretary, appreciate you joining us. After tonight's drop, how many total votes are left in Arizona?


So, it looks like we have about 60,000 ballots, left statewide, with 20,000, both in Maricopa and Pima County. And then, Pinal County has a chunk left, and Apache County, Cochise County. But, for the most part, we're looking at very few ballots still outstanding.

COOPER: So, 60,000, you said?

BONES: That's right.

COOPER: And do you believe the Arizona governor's race will go to a recount?

BONES: So, the recount statute, right now, says if the margin is within 0.5 percent. Right now, Secretary Hobbs is outside of that recount margin. So, it's as long as the vote totals continue to come in, around what they have been, we aren't likely to see that. But if we see anything different change, then it would be within the recount margin.

We're tracking a couple of races right now, state legislative races, as well as some other state races that are within the recount margin, like the Attorney General's race, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

COOPER: Kari Lake has raised, just tonight, has raised questions, on Fox, about the - Katie Hobbs, the Secretary of State, overseeing the elections, essentially counting all the votes. Is Katie Hobbs, there counting all the votes? Is she the one determining--


COOPER: --the count?

BONES: Anderson, no. In Arizona, the elections are highly decentralized, and the counties are responsible, for administering the elections, and tabulating the votes.

So, Secretary Hobbs has not been involved, in that tabulation process. Our office doesn't touch ballots at all, after the logic and accuracy testing. So, once early voting starts, our office is out of any administration of it, and it is the counties that do that work.

So, there has been no reason that the Secretary would have to recuse herself, for any reason, at this point. There isn't necessarily a conflict of interest that has presented itself that is causing us to have any concern about that.

COOPER: The Washington Post is reporting Kari Lake set up a so-called war room, to plan out her next move, if the results of the election don't go her way. If a candidate contests the results, can you walk us through the process, by which Arizona verifies its count?

BONES: Yes. So, it will start with the counties will do a certification, or canvass, of the election. They have 20 days, after the election, to perform that canvass. And then, those results will come to the state.

And then, that is signed off on by - at the state canvass, by the Secretary, but also has to be signed off by the governor, the Attorney General, and the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. So, it is a process that gets reviewed by each County Board of Supervisors, as well as the top officers, in the state.

COOPER: Also, John King, I know, has a question for you.


KING: Yes. Madam Secretary, I just want to follow up on the point Anderson made, because I suspect this is about to come up, in the days ahead. Kari Lake was on Fox earlier saying that she didn't want - that Katie Hobbs was going to certify her own election.

So, I just want in very plain language. The counties report the votes. There's certain - is there any certification in your office? If so, will she have anything to do with it? Or does it go to the governor?

BONES: So, the certification - so, all 15 counties will report their results, to the State, to the Secretary of State's office.

And the Secretary compiles all of those results, or the Secretary's Office, will compile those results, and put together the statewide canvass. The Secretary does sign off on that. But it is also going to be signed off on by Governor Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and the Arizona Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. So, it is not like Secretary Hobbs is doing that on her own.


This is how it operates, every four years, in every state, across the country, where a Secretary of State is on the ballot, and they are certifying either their election win, or their election loss. This is nothing new. And, again, the administration of the election itself occurs at the county level.

KING: So, if you can, and help me with the conversation. Because, you could make an argument, in today's politics, given all the - I get it, no facts behind them, questions raised about election integrity.

Wouldn't it be best for Katie Hobbs to just recuse herself, to say "Because of those questions, I'm not going to be in the room. My good deputy is going to sign these for me." That's one argument. The other argument is "No, they're wrong. They've been lying for years. I'm going to do my job and sign it."

Which one?

BONES: Well, again, if there's no reason that there's any kind of conflict, or we aren't in recount territory, there really doesn't make any sense, for the Secretary, to not perform what is a ministerial act, in signing the canvas. And so, our position has been that unless there is a conflict, related to the governor's race, then it doesn't - there's no reason for the Secretary to recuse herself.

And you all know. You've seen me here the last five days. I've been talking to you. We have not had the Secretary, talking about anything related to the processing of this election. And again, the counties are handling the administration of the election at the local level.

COOPER: Allie Bones, I appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you very much. We're going to continue to follow the count, and the governor's race, throughout the hour.

Also tonight, how the former President shaped the midterms, Harry Enten is going to break it down for us.

And later, new audio from the day of the Robb Elementary shooting, and the questions it raises about the role, that day, of the acting Police Chief, in Uvalde, Texas, what he failed to do, after he was directly told that children were trapped, with the gunman, and needed rescuing.



COOPER: We have a CNN projection, to bring you.

And CNN can now project the winner in the Arizona governor's race is Democrat Katie Hobbs, defeating Republican Kari Lake.

I want to go right to our panel, David Axelrod, Scott Jennings, and Audie Cornish.

Audie, what's your reaction to this?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a great example of a race, where abortion, inadvertently, came into play.

In September, a federal judge would have resurrected a ban from the 1860s that would have banned abortions across the board. And Hobbs really jumped on it, and even talked about, in personal terms, her own miscarriage, et cetera.

And the reason why I bring this up is because she took a lot of criticism, for being lackluster, for not kind of punching back, against Kari Lake, and for not speaking about the economy.

But she did focus a lot, on this election denial, democracy, and did talk about abortion, in ways that may have connected with voters. And I think it sort of fits into some of the storyline, we've been hearing, the last few days.


David Axelrod, I mean, I want to play some things that Kari Lake has been saying throughout the campaign, and get your reaction.


KARI LAKE, (R) CANDIDATE FOR ARIZONA GOVERNOR: It is not impossible to protect our kids at school. They act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she's got protection when she's in D.C. Apparently her house doesn't have a lot of protection!


LAKE: Thank God your ratings are in the toilet. That's exactly where they deserve to be. Start being journalist. Stop spreading the garbage.

I'm going to be your worst freaking nightmare for eight years.

And these bastards back there don't want us talking about stolen elections.


LAKE: Well, it doesn't matter.

We had November 3rd, 2020. That was called Incompetency 101.

They got to fix this problem. This is a competency.

That is absolutely absurd. And are you guys buying that? Are you really buying that? This just sounds like a Jussie Smollett part two.

I don't even know where her campaign office is. I'm assuming, it's in a basement, somewhere. Because that's where she's been campaigning.

I'm going to win the election, and I will accept that result, because the people will never - the people of Arizona will never support and vote for a coward like Katie Hobbs.


COOPER: I mean, David, of all those sort of Trumpian or Trump acolytes, she was sort of the apex predator of all of them. What do you expect - I mean, with her loss, what is the impact of that? What does it say about Trumpism?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it says a lot. Steve Bannon was camping out in Arizona, and holding her up as an exemplar, of Trumpism.

And she really is a more sort of polished performer, but uttering, speaking from the same script and she thought that would get her to where she wanted to go. It was enough to win a primary. But she's alienated the middle, in that state. And they walked away from her.

And I think it's much, as I said earlier, it's a - she is the most flamboyant example of the election deniers, of the Trump acolytes. They've been beaten all over the country. And tonight, this is the exclamation point on it.

And, I think, there's a lot of interest, in this race, because she has been so flamboyant. But there's no Gaussy (ph) lens that can change the numbers that the voters of Arizona have rendered in this race.

COOPER: Scott, what effect do you think this governor's race, others like it, are going to have on GOP primaries, going forward?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the Republicans need to ask themselves, what is the purpose of a political party.

Because, late in the campaign, Kari Lake had an event, and she asked, "Is there anyone here that's a John McCain Republican." And a few people raised their hands. And, as the story goes, she told them to get out, of her event.

And I've just never seen a group of people, who think the purpose of a party, is to make it smaller, and then act surprised, when they don't win the election.


Arizona has a heavy dose of independent voters. They've often voted Republican, in the past. They love their current governor, Doug Ducey, for instance. So, when you're actively trying to make your party smaller, to make yourself feel better, but not thinking about the electoral implications of that? It's a real problem.

But you had a number of candidates, around the country, who think it's a bad honor (ph) to try to shrink the Republican Party. The only way to win is to get more people in the tent. You need Bush, McCain, Romney, Trump, McConnell, whatever.

You need all the kinds of flavors of Republicanism together. Because, when you start to eject people, it makes it really hard, to win, in States that are purple, like Arizona and others, Pennsylvania, Georgia, you name it.

COOPER: I want to go back to John King, at the Magic Wall.

John, how did Hobbs win? I mean, Kari Lake, is saying, "Look, was she out - even out campaigning?" She certainly wasn't walking around with the constant incredible lighting, and a microphone, on her, at all times, trying to create drama. How did she win?

KING: I think your guess have made the point, and I'll go through the numbers, both in Arizona, and then give you a national perspective.

But, in this election, many of these candidates that voters just viewed as a little too spicy, a little too out there, whether it's Trumpism, whether it's election denial, whether it's abortion restrictions, whether it's something else? A lot of voters just decided "We don't want that spicy. We will take normal. We will take maybe a little bit more dough." Katie Hobbs won by 20,481 votes. That's not a final number. We still need to figure it out. But she will be the next governor of Arizona, and in a significant, she will be a Democratic governor of Arizona, replacing yet another Republican governor. She won. Again, 20,000 votes, you say that's not a lot. That's twice what Joe Biden won Arizona by two years ago.

As Scott noted, this is a purple state. But it's a state in transition. She's going to win with 20,400 votes. Senator Mark Kelly just won. Let me flip that race. He just won reelection by 126,000 votes. Senator Sinema is on the ballot, in two years. We will watch the struggle for Arizona continue, Anderson, as this plays out.

But it is a State now that Democrats have just won, in the last presidential election. They won the governorship, took it away. That's a pickup this time. Kept their Senate seat. So, Democrats are happy, in Arizona. Plus, they won Secretary of State, a huge race, in the State of Arizona. So, that's Arizona.

Let's pull out nationally. I just want to show you something, Republican governor, who did not run for reelection, replaced by a Democrat, in a - where they nominated a Trump-backed candidate.

Massachusetts, a Republican governor, replaced by a Democrat, in a place where they nominated a Trump-backed candidate. The State of Maryland, a Republican governor, replaced by a Democrat, in a state where they nominated a Trump-backed candidate. Plus, on top of all that Democrats keep Michigan, they win Pennsylvania, they pick up Arizona.

The Democrats had a good year, when it comes to governor's races, especially in the battleground States, especially against Trump-backed nominees, heading into 2024. They also, Anderson, did a lot well down- ballot, in many of these States, including Michigan. So, when you look at a state level, Democrats are quite happy, including tonight, in Arizona.

COOPER: Yes. Fascinating! Incredible race!

John King, thanks so much.

And thanks to our panelists. Audie, thank you so much, for being with us.

And coming up next, the Trump factor, in the midterms, and a look ahead to tomorrow, when he's expected to announce a 2024 presidential run.



COOPER: With one of his acolytes, Kari Lake down in defeat, in Arizona's governor race, tonight, the former President could dominate the headlines, tomorrow. He's expected to announce, he's running for president, again, as Republicans wait for that very big shoe to drop. Some in the party appear to be edging away from him.

Senator Josh Hawley, for one, who raised a fist, in solidarity with the crowd, at January 6, here's what he said, today.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think that this election was the funeral for the Republican Party, as we know it. The Republican Party is, as we have known it, is dead. And voters have made that clear.

I like a lot of what President Trump did as president. I think we've got a lot to talk about there. But we need to have a conversation about our core convictions of the party. And clearly, this party is going to have to - actually, it's going to have to be different, or we're not going to be a majority party in this country.


COOPER: Also today, Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, told CNN's Jake Tapper that the former President, quote, "Hurt the party's chances" this year.

Question is how much, and how long will they keep saying that. For that, we turn to CNN's one and only Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.

So, what do the midterms reveal about the former President?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: That his political brand is poison! I mean, you look, his favorable rating, in the exit poll was under 40 percent.

Look, Donald Trump was never a popular figure, in either 2018 or 2020. But he was never this unpopular. And the people who had an unfavorable view of him, voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Keep in mind Joe Biden's approval rating was just in the mid-40s. But the fact is those voters, who had an unfavorable view or not a favorable view, of both of the candidates, basically split their tickets, evenly, between the Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress.

If you don't like the incumbent president, you should be voting against that party. But because Trump was out there, these voters basically split their ticket. So, it's not hard!

COOPER: You're yelling at me! Well how did swing - how did swing--

ENTEN: I'm just really excited!

COOPER: I know. How did swing state candidates, who attached themselves, closely, to Trump, in election denials? I mean, I have a sense of this. How'd they do?

ENTEN: Yes. We just saw obviously the projection that Kari Lake lost. All the election deniers, who were running in the States that Biden won by less than five points, for governor, or for Secretary of State, we projected all of them to lose.


ENTEN: Election denialism does not work with the middle of the electorate. And it clearly didn't work, last Tuesday. And that was why Republicans did or at least part of the reason why they did significantly worse than I think a lot of us expected.

COOPER: So, does this open the door, for Ron DeSantis, on a national level?

ENTEN: I absolutely believe it does. Just go into the State of Florida, right, where those two candidates, both DeSantis and Trump are about equally well-known.

And if you ask Republican voters, whether or not these two guys should run? More Republicans say that Ron DeSantis should run than Donald Trump. And I think once Republican voters get to know Ron DeSantis, nationwide, a little bit better, I think it can make for quite an interesting race.

COOPER: So, what did work, for the Republicans, who got elected, or reelected?

ENTEN: Issues, talking about issues, like crime, immigration, inflation, foreign policy. Republicans lead on all of that. It was just that the personality of Trump, combined with the abortion decision, basically took away from what should have been a very strong midterm, for Republicans.

If they want to win going forward, they should be talking about the issues that are strong for them. Not be talking about the 2020 election and talking about Donald Trump.

COOPER: Wow! It's going to be hard to, tomorrow, at least.

ENTEN: Yes. It's going to be hard for tomorrow. But this is - this is why we have primaries. It should be very interesting to see what happens. Republicans are going to have a real choice ahead of them.

COOPER: Yes. Harry Enten, appreciate it. Thanks.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Joining us now, is Jim Schultz, who served as a White House lawyer, in the previous administration. Also, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and USA Today columnist, Kirsten Powers.

Jim, you worked for the Trump White House. You supported the former President, through a lot, over the last few years. Is it time for the Republican Party to move on from him?


JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I think it's clear that folks are coalescing behind other candidates, at this point. And I think it's time that we move on, as a party.

I think we saw, right here, in Pennsylvania, right? He hand-picked Mehmet Oz, here, in Pennsylvania. Yet, Mehmet Oz got smoked by John Fetterman, by all historical figures, in terms of what a world landslide election looks like, in Pennsylvania. And his endorsed candidate, Doug Mastriano, lost by more than 11 points or 12 points, double-digit points.

You can't have those kinds of results. And I think that those results lie right at the feet of Donald Trump.

COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, the former President continues to complain that the 2020 election was stolen from him, which it was not. We've now seen demonstrably, that is not a winning message with independent voters. Do you think - I mean, I know he's not capable of actually changing that message.


COOPER: Given what we saw now, with Kari Lake, in Arizona, who was, as, just a glossier version of him, with better makeup and lighting, is election-denying - is any election-denying candidate going to lose their election?

POWERS: I mean, and it seems to be something that most voters are not buying.

But Donald Trump, I think, is mostly - if I'm going to guess what he's thinking, he's probably thinking, "Well, I wasn't on the ballot," right? "They just couldn't do it. But I could do it." I think that that's how he thinks about things.

And because he has a history of bringing the Republican Party to heel, when, after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, you had people coming out and decrying him, and then of course, he brought them to heel. And so, he probably thinks that he's going to be able to do that again.

But I think what he may be missing? But I also will just say I don't really know what's going to happen.


POWERS: Because I think a lot of people need to wait and see what's going to happen with the based voters. But, I think, we - he's looking to see whether or not he can create chaos, and bring these people back into the fold. And even if he doesn't, he's shown that he doesn't care about the Republican Party.

And the Republican Party, if they leave him, will be leaving him, because he's not giving them the wins that they want. And I think that that's what we've seen. We've seen they'll put up with almost anything except losing.

COOPER: Yes, Jim, how is this different than the days after January 6? January 6 that night, McCarthy, Lindsey Graham was saying, he was finally quitting, Donald Trump. And then, he gets yelled out, in the airport, the next day, by a mob, and suddenly he's down at Mar-a-Lago, again. How is this any different?

SCHULTZ: Because I think you're seeing the electorate start to shift. The electorate, his base didn't shift after January 6. Hard to believe, but it didn't shift after January 6.

And you're starting to see now the electorate start to shift. And you're going to see guys like DeSantis, and Pence and others start, Nikki Haley, start gaining some momentum, Chris Christie gaining some momentum here, and kind of taking the spotlight light away from Trump. And you're going to see the numbers start to coalesce behind camps.

You've already seen it with DeSantis. I mean, his numbers are tremendous in those early States. We saw polling come out today that had him far ahead of Trump compared to where they were in August.

COOPER: Kirsten, I want to play what former Vice President Pence said to ABC news about 2024.



MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well we're giving it consideration in our house, prayerful consideration.

MUIR: Do you believe you can beat Donald Trump?

PENCE: Well, that would be for others to say. And it'd be for us to decide whether or not we'd want to test that.


COOPER: I mean Jim talked about Nikki Haley. You talked about DeSantis and others. Do you think Mike Pence could actually unite the Republican Party behind them?

Because I mean, all of these are pretty regular candidates, who play - have a sense of decency, and a sense of where the guardrails may be. I don't know that they've ever been against somebody, like the former President, who's clearly not wanting to leave the ring.

POWERS: Yes, I mean, we saw what happened last time, right? A lot of people came in, a lot of people who are pretty popular, before they got into the race.

COOPER: Right.

POWERS: The Jeb Bushes and the Marco Rubios, and they came out bruised and battered, and really in a much worse place. Now, the question is, does Donald Trump still have that kind of power? Do people still want to hear that from him?

And I think the other thing is, there is a Ron DeSantis now, and there wasn't a Ron DeSantis. I don't really see Mike Pence as the alternative, at least to these core Trump voters, the MAGA voters.

Ron DeSantis, has more of the Trump vibe, right? That's - and that's what they're really looking for. They're looking at that more than they're looking at policies.


They're looking for somebody, who, if you really look at what they say, they say Donald Trump fights for them, and "Donald Trump pushes back against the liberal establishment, and the Elites, and that's what we want. We want somebody, who's willing to get down, and dirty, and nasty. And look, that's what Ron DeSantis does."

COOPER: Kirsten Powers, Jim Schultz, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, never-before-heard audio, from the day of the mass shooting, in Uvalde, Texas that we warn you now, may be unsettling, but it's really stunning to hear, combined with other video from that day presents a portrait of the actions, and lack of actions, of the acting Police Chief of Uvalde, after he learned of a 9-1-1 call, from a 10-year-old, trapped in the classroom, with the shooter.


COOPER: We have new audio, we want to share with you tonight that shines a light on the actions of the individual, who was acting Chief of Police, in Uvalde, Texas, the day of the mass shooting that killed 21 people, and what he did, after hearing, about a 10-year-old child, trapped with the shooter, calling 9-1-1.

We pieced it together, with other new footage, plus body camera video, for context. We warn you, it is hard to watch, and may be upsetting.

That's why before we went on air, we invited families of children, who were injured, uninjured, or killed that day, on a conference call. The parents were read a transcript, and briefed on the story. Families have supported the release of audio, and video, because they say it's the only way they are learning any information. Same goes for local and city officials, who say they haven't been able to access it any other way.

CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz has the full story.

And again, we warn you, what you're about to see and hear, is difficult to watch.



ACTING UVALDE POLICE CHIEF MARIANO PARGAS: So how many are still alive now?

DISPATCHER: Eight to nine are still alive. She's not too sure. SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): New audio of a recorded phone conversation, obtained by CNN, shows the acting Uvalde Police Chief was directly told that children were trapped with a gunman and needed rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll know it's AR (ph).

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): And still, he failed to take direct action to save them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the class.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): CNN has pieced together multiple body cameras, and new security footage, from inside the school hallway, along with this never-before-heard phone call, to show how a failure of leadership, allowed 77 minutes, to tick by, before Police killed the gunman.

Acting Uvalde Police Chief, Mariano Pargas, was among the first Police officers, to enter Robb Elementary, on May 24th. The Chief of the Uvalde Police was on vacation, which left Pargas, in charge of the City Police. Pargas arrived at 11:36 AM, just three minutes, after the gunman fires his first shots.

His officers run in ahead of him, and make an initial attempt, to breach the classroom. They quickly retreat, when shots are fired in their direction. CNN has chosen to mute the sound of those gunshots.

UPD SGT. EDUARDO CANALES: Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Minutes later, Uvalde School District Police officer Ruben Ruiz, whose wife is a teacher, of Robb Elementary, delivers critical information, to Pargas, the shooter is located inside his wife's classroom.

UPD SCHOOL POLICE OFFICER RUBEN RUIZ: The shooter is in my wife's classroom.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pargas, who was suspended, by the City of Uvalde, in July, and placed on paid leave, while they investigate, his role, as a Commanding Officer, during the shooting, is walking in and out of the hallway, taking cover, next to a wall, failing to organize a response.

Even when Ruben Ruiz barrels back into the hallway, telling his colleagues that his wife, Eva Mireles, called him, from inside the room, and says she's dying.

UPD OFFICER JUSTIN MENDOZA: Hey, hey, hey, hey Ruben, Ruben, Ruben, Ruben.

RUIZ: She says she's shot Johnny.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): It's Pargas, the acting Chief, who comes and removes Ruiz from the hallway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if you hear (ph).

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): As time goes by, the Police, on the scene, can be heard, looking to Pargas, asking him for direction. They want to know what the plan is. Pargas tells them he's waiting on the Texas Department of Public Safety.

UPD DETECTIVE JOSE RODRIGUEZ: Are we just waiting for BORTAC, or what's going on?

PARGAS: They tell me a DPS Ranger has somebody in there and come in.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): At 12:10 PM, nearly 30 minutes, after Police first arrived, 10-year-old Khloie Torres, a fourth grader, trapped inside the room, with the gunman, is on the phone, with a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

KHLOIE TORRES, STUDENT, ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, UVALDE: I'm in classroom - what's the classroom number? 112.

DISPATCHER: 112 (inaudible)?

TORRES: 112, 112, yes ma'am.

DISPATCHER: What's your name, ma'am?

TORRES: Khloie Torres. Please hurry. There's a lot of dead bodies.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): CNN obtained that call, and published it, with the approval of her parents.

When the dispatcher radios the information, to the officers, Pargas and other Police on scene are immediately informed.

DISPATCHER: Child is advising he is in a room full of victims, full of victims at this moment.

RODRIGUEZ: F**k (bleep). Full of victims. Child called 9-1-1 and said the room is full of victims.

PARGAS: It's what?

RODRIGUEZ: The room is full of victims! Child 9-1-1 - Child 9-1-1 call.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pargas, who didn't have a radio with him, takes one from a detective, and enters the hallway.

He tells the men inside.

PARGAS: A child just called that they have victims in there.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But then Pargas steps back. Two minutes later, he walks out of the hallway, and places a phone call, directly to the Uvalde dispatcher. CNN has obtained this call. PARGAS: OK, and the call you got in from the, uh, from one of the students - what did they say?

DISPATCHER: OK, Khloie's going to be (inaudible) she's in room 112, Mariano. 112.

She's with eight or nine students that are still alive at the moment (inaudible).

PARGAS: So how many are still alive now?

DISPATCHER: Um, eight to nine are still alive. She's not too sure.

PARGAS: And how many more?

DISPATCHER: She's not too sure how many are actually DOA or possibly injured.


DISPATCHER: We're trying to get more information but she (inaudible).

PARGAS: OK, thanks.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The recorded phone call proves for the first time that a senior officer at the scene was directly made aware of the horrors happening inside the classroom.

Pargas walks back in the hallway one more time.

PARGAS: Someone called 9-1-1 - there's nine injured.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): A few seconds later, the acting Police Chief turns his back, and walks out.


In the doorway, Pargas can be seen, talking to the Texas Ranger, Christopher Ryan Kindell, who as CNN has previously reported, is currently suspended, and under investigation, for failing to organize, a response that day. But Pargas doesn't appear to tell him about the 9-1-1 information, he received.

CNN has learned from sources familiar with the investigation that a number of law enforcement officials, on scene, including high-ranking officers, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, say they did not know about the 9-1-1 call.

A few minutes later, at 12:20 PM, Pargas can be seen walking away, from the school, away from the hallway, where dozens of officers, from several law enforcement agencies, remain, debating, at times, confused and seemingly uncertain about what to do. They wouldn't breach the classroom for another 30 minutes.

CNN analysis of a new never-before-made public angle of the hallway security camera shows that Pargas never steps foot back inside this hallway.

In interviews, with investigators, obtained by CNN, Pargas says he didn't believe he was in charge, and his officers from the Uvalde City Police were there only to assist the School Police, until the Texas Department of Public Safety took over.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which placed seven of its officers, who were at the scene under further investigation, labeled Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, as the on-scene commander. Arredondo, who was fired in August, maintains he wasn't in charge either.

CNN reached Pargas, by phone. He said, quote, he would love to defend himself. But he's been told not to speak to the media, adding quote, "It's not that we're afraid because there's nothing to be afraid of. We did what we could, but the thing is that we've been told that we can't."

In interviews with Texas Rangers, he was asked why officers didn't force their way into the classroom sooner, as active shooter training clearly indicates.

PARGAS: The room was extremely dark. And we didn't know where he was or the kids were standing, they were by him or not knowing what was behind the doors.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pargas didn't tell the investigators about his direct call with the dispatcher, and claimed he didn't remember, hearing radio traffic, about the 9-1-1 calls.

PARGAS: We knew we had heard all those shots. But we didn't know there were kids in there, there were kids alive, there were kids - we had no idea.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But Pargas did know. He knew Ruben Ruiz's wife called, and said she was inside, dying. And he knew a child called 9- 1-1, and said she was in room 112, surrounded by victims. As the acting Uvalde Police Chief, Mariano Pargas, was a commanding officer, on scene, and could have done something about it.


COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.

Shimon, this is just so stunning. I mean, this is such incredible work, you've done. You spoke with the families, about what you found. I can't imagine what their feelings are!

PROKUPECZ: I mean, it's just, Anderson, in all honestly, it's just disappointment after disappointment for them. Because they feel, again, they're not getting this full account of what's happening. And certainly, they're very thankful, to us, for bringing this information to them.

It's one of the hardest things to do, in this story, really, besides trying to get all this information, but reaching out to these family members, every time we do this story, and having to provide this information to them.

And there's always the silence on the phone from them. And then, it takes a little while, and they start to ask questions. And in some cases, they really don't know what to ask, because no one's been telling them anything.

What's also happening is that this week, Anderson, sadly, many of the family members, of the children, who died, are going to be meeting with the District Attorney, to talk about the autopsy report. So, it's certainly going to be a rough week, for these family members.

And then, next week marks the six-month period, since this happened, on Thanksgiving Day. So, we're looking at two weeks of just really tough moments, for these families, which, you know?

COOPER: The fact that you are the one, having to call these families, to give them information that the Police should be giving them? I mean, there should be - these families deserve to know everything.

And the fact that we're finding it, you're finding it out, you and your team, are finding it out, is incredible. But the fact that these families are not being informed is just, it's outrageous.

And what is this guy, Pargas' status, right now, with the Police department? Is he still being paid.

PROKUPECZ: So, he was - he's still being paid. He's on administrative leave. He was suspended, administrative leave, back in July. He's still getting paid.

I've been talking to city officials, here, in Uvalde, and they want him gone. They want him fired. So, that process is going to take some time. But certainly, there are individuals, inside the city that want him fired.


He's also an elected official, as a City Commissioner. He was elected just last week, back to that position. We'll see what happens with that. But certainly, the family members, after having this information, they feel, it's time for him to go, Anderson.

COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much, for the work you're doing. I mean, keep at it.

We'll be right back.

PROKUPECZ: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Tonight, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, is grieving for lives stolen by violence. A vigil, this evening, at the UVA, honored, three students, shot and killed, while returning to school, from a field trip, late yesterday. They played for the football team. They were aboard a bus, pulling into the campus, last night, when Police say a former member the UVA Football team opened fire. The reason why is unknown, tonight. That attack led to an intensive manhunt, with the accused gunman, on the loose, for more than 12 hours. The suspect was captured, late this morning.

Want to take a moment, to remember those killed.

Devin Chandler was a wide receiver and kick returner for the Virginia Cavaliers. He was a junior transferred in the offseason from the University of Wisconsin.

Lavel Davis Jr. was one of the top wide receivers for the team this season. In a video last year, for UVA Football, Davis said that outside of class, he liked to watch 90s movies, and read Shakespeare plays, and the Bible.


D'Sean Perry came from Miami. He was a linebacker. An attorney, for his parents say they thank the South Florida and Charlottesville communities, for their support, during what he called this impossibly tragic time.

An associate professor, at UVA, Jack Hamilton, had two of the students, in his classes, this year. He tweeted today that Devin Chandler was, quote, "An unbelievably nice person, always a huge smile, really gregarious and funny. One of those people who's just impossible not to like. It is so sad," he said, "and enraging that he is gone."

Of Lavel Davis, he writes, "In my experience star athletes often tend to hang out with other athletes. But Vel seemed to go out of his way to make friends with non-athletes."

Victims are also being honored by some of the top names, in professional sports. NBA superstar LeBron James, offering condolences on the loss of what he called "Young King's!!" And NFL quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, offered prayers for the team.

ESPN Reporter, Andrea Adelson, tweets that in her last interview with Davis, she asked why he was part of a group at UVA that pushed for social change. And he told her in part, "Whatever I can do, even if it's a small percentage to bring awareness to all the injustice our school has been through, just to shine a light on it and change it in the right direction. I for sure want to say I took a step forward for UVA."

That's it for us. The news continues with Laura Coates and "CNN TONIGHT" right after this break.