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At This Hour

Election Day; Progressives versus Moderates in Key Mayoral Races; Manchin Blasts Progressive Dems for Holding Infrastructure "Hostage"; Interview with Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA) on Democratic Party Squabbling; CDC Panel Expected to Recommend Pfizer Vaccine for Kids 5- 11. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're watching Election Day. Voters are heading to the polls. The key races that could tell you quite a lot about the direction of the country right now.

The Manchin move: the senator tries to press pause again on the Biden economic agenda. But other Democrats say it's full steam ahead. Why Democrats are meeting behind closed doors this morning.

And shot of hope: the CDC is poised to vote today on the COVID vaccine for younger children, possibly clearing the way for millions more kids to get the shot.

Thank you for being here. At this hour, Americans throughout the country are making their choice and making their voices heard at the ballot box. It is Election Day and the stakes are very high. Several races expected to carry national implications with them for both Republicans and Democrats ahead of next year's midterms.

The most high-profile race is in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe hopes to return to the governor's mansion for the first time -- for the first time since 2018. He's in a tight race with Republican Glenn Youngkin. The race has been dominated by cultural issues, really, but also former president Trump has loomed large over this race as well.

We have all of the key races covered for you. Let's begin with Sunlen Serfaty, live at a polling place in Virginia.

What are you seeing and hearing?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, voting is underway here in Virginia and has been for hours now. We're here at an Arlington, Virginia, polling center. This is a suburb just outside of Washington, D.C.

We've seen a steady stream of voters coming in, casting their ballots in person in the last five hours. The polling director here at this location says they have seen 360 people come in and cast their votes.

That is a marked increase, she says, from years past and, of course, you have people also coming in and dropping their mail-in ballots as well. Key for both candidates today is getting out the vote in this razor-close race.

We had, a few minutes ago, our first chance to see Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin out on the campaign trail today. He visited a polling location at a middle school in Chantilly, Virginia, about 20 miles from here and he was projecting confidence.


GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We feel pretty darn good, I have to say. I'm happy to take some questions.

QUESTION: You had a lot of optimism last night.

How have you been able to keep that tone optimistic when you've been hit with a couple of shots from the other side?

YOUNGKIN: I'll be honest, I've felt this great surge of momentum for the last six to eight weeks. These kitchen table issues of low taxes and the best schools and the best jobs and safe communities, this is what people are worried about.


SERFATY: You heard him talk about kitchen table issues, that's in marked contrast to some of the closing messages that Democrat Terry McAuliffe running in this race, has ended his campaign on, as he has the whole duration of his campaign.

The core strategy has always been to tie his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, to former president Donald Trump. But even falsely claiming last night that he appeared with him. That was not happening.

The former president called in to a telerally, so a big test today for both candidates, whether their strategy is working; many more hours of voting to go.

BOLDUAN: A long period of early voting as well in the state. We'll see. Let us see what the hours bring. Thank you, Sunlen.

Another closely watched race is in New Jersey, where Phil Murphy is trying to become the first Democratic governor to win a second term in more than four decades. He's facing a strong challenge from Republican Jack Ciattarelli. CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Bridgewater with more.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. I know you've heard this before. Now you'll hear it again. What this all comes down to in New Jersey is turnout and numbers.

The numbers are basically on Governor Murphy's side, when you look at the lay of the land here. The number of registered Democrats in the state outnumber the number of registered Republicans by more than 1 million people.

Murphy basically said it best over the weekend. He said, look, the numbers are on our side. He said, our team is bigger; of course, that means, if his team shows up here at the polls.

But if they don't, he basically called this a coin toss. And basically, Jack Ciattarelli is basically betting that this race is, in fact, a coin toss.


CARROLL: And he is basically doing all that he can to tie Murphy to Biden in every way that he can.

The reason for that is because he's hoping that Biden's slipping poll numbers is basically going to suppress all of those people who are out there, possibly Democrats; maybe they won't show up at the polls. Maybe more independents will show up at the polls in his favor.

So he's basically betting on that. And what we've been seeing here in the state of New Jersey is very much like in Virginia, national issues taking center stage here. I mean, yes, you've got the issue of property taxes here; some of the highest in the country. And Ciattarelli is saying, if you vote for Murphy, you'll see more higher property taxes.

But we've also seen issues like critical race theory taking center stage here, abortion rights taking center stage here as well. Of course, the Trump factor taking center stage here as well. So a lot of national issues being looked at.

But what this is going to turn out to is, who comes out for who. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jason, thank you so much. Joining me is CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten and CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston.

It's good to see you guys -- it's always exciting on Election Day.

Maeve, both Sunlen and Jason were talking about this, now the national implications of a lot of these races. These are local races but people are watching all of these races from coast to coast. Lay it out for people, why so much this year.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, because these races are such a good test, Kate, of what the political climate is right now and what Democrats are going to be facing in 2022, when they are bracing for some pretty steep losses.

I mean, you're seeing right now President Biden's approval ratings slip obviously. And there's lot of concern about that and, you know, all the wrangling in Congress. And a lot of the mayoral races around the country, we're seeing that same split between moderates and progressives play out.

So it's an interesting test of sort of which side of the party will be able to prevail. Also the debate over police reform and funding of police and hiring more officers, those are huge issues that are at play here today, Kate. They'll tell us a lot about what the messaging will look like next year.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I want to jump into the mayoral races in just a second.

Harry, one place that you have been looking into closely is Virginia, where Sunlen Serfaty was talking about the race between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin. We're seeing in the final pitches from both candidates -- we're seeing these final pitches that both candidates are making to voters.

But what is the role that President Biden and former president Donald Trump have played into this race?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Weighing down candidates, that's essentially the role that each have played. Joe Biden won the state of Virginia by 10 points just a year ago. If you look at his popularity, it's declining rapidly in Virginia.

Last year 52 percent approval rating; 45 percent now. That mirrors what we've been seeing nationally, where his approval rating has been dropping as well, which gives you a good implication of why Virginia may be a good indication of where the nation is heading.

But also Donald Trump has been weighing down Glenn Youngkin. This is why Terry McAuliffe is going after Youngkin on Trump, whose favorable rating in Virginia is just 39 percent, close to what it is nationally at 41 percent.

Here's the thing: why are we paying so much attention to Virginia?

If you look back at the last 11 gubernatorial elections of Virginia, what you essentially see is that eight of the last 11 times, the person who wins in the state of Virginia, that party has then gained House seats in next midterm election.

There you go.

Maeve, you were just alluding to it a little bit. But you've done a deep dive into some really interesting mayors' races that people are voting on today. Let's focus on Atlanta and Minneapolis in particular, because the political legacy of George Floyd, the focus on police reform, they're really in the spotlight in these two places.

RESTON: Yes. It's so fascinating, Kate, how much the pendulum has swung in that particular debate since just, you know, last summer, when we were seeing all the Black Lives Matter protests.

In Atlanta, the spike in violent crime they saw this summer has been such a concern for voters that you have the wealthy community of Buckhead looking to break off from the city because they say that crime is not under control.

And so that's completely changed the conversation among the candidates. You've got former mayor Kasim Reed, trying to get another term as mayor; the city council president, Felicia Moore. Reed is arguing that the city needs to hire 750 more police officers.


RESTON: Moore is trying to strike a more careful balance between police reform measures and the need for those.

And then, you know, in Minneapolis, obviously, you have this fascinating question on the ballot, which is whether or not the city's voters will agree to get rid of their -- dismantle their police department, get rid of the police chief and replace it with a Department of Public Safety.

That has created a split among the candidates; the current mayor, Jacob Frey, and the more progressive candidates, Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth, who do want to dismantle police department.

Frey saying, no, we can't do that; crime is too much of a concern. We'd be starting from scratch. It will be fascinating to see what the voters do today. When I was talking to sources over the weekend, they had no idea which way that measure would go on the ballot today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It is fascinating. And then there are many more from there.

Great to see you guys. Really appreciate it.

CNN's special live coverage of Election Night in America begins at 6:00 pm Eastern tonight.

Another major story we're following this morning, a new complication in the Democrats' mission to get President Biden's agenda through Congress.

Moderate senator Joe Manchin now says he is not ready to support the $1.75 trillion spending plan that President Biden unveiled last week. This announcement casts major doubt that the Democrats will be able to vote on the spending and infrastructure bills this week.

House Democrats, they met behind closed doors just this morning. This, of course, being the major focus of everything right now there. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill with more.

Manu, House Democrats, did they just wrap up this caucus meeting?

What are you hearing from what happened inside?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nancy Pelosi is making clear to her caucus she wants to press ahead. She also wants to finish all the negotiations by today.

There are still outstanding issues -- prescription drug pricing is one of them; immigration. She told that to her caucus but said she hopes the talks will be done, I'm told, and also she wants the beginning of the process, the House Rules Committee, to begin that first step tomorrow.

Potential House votes later this week. But they still have a long way to go toward all of these issues. It's still uncertain whether that larger bill, $1.75 trillion, can get out of the House. They can only afford three defections. It's unclear if all the moderates will fall in line.

And it's most certainly unclear if Joe Manchin in the Senate will get behind the larger proposal. This morning we have been talking to Manchin about a number of things he had raised yesterday, about his concerns about the bill, what it looks like and about some of the provisions.

Earlier today, he said he's still opposed to adding paid leave to this bill as many Democrats want. And he also wants Medicare expansion. That would include hearing (ph) -- he does not support including that in the bill, concern about how it would impact the solvency of the entitlement program.

That is something Bernie Sanders has pushed. Moments ago, we asked him about the timing of this, whether or not it will be done quickly.

And he said, quote, this will take quite a while.


MANCHIN: Overhauling an entire tax code, that is tremendous. There needs to be input. We need to know what the facts going to be (ph). I don't think anybody intends to it to harm our economy or create a hardship on people. But I believe everyone should be paying their fair share.

RAJU: So you think it will take quite a while.

MANCHIN: I think there's time's going to be needed. And there's no -- we're not in a rush right now. The rush was trying to get everything before the president went overseas. I think he's doing a good job. I've been listening to what he's doing. I think people are paying attention.


RAJU: So he says there in the quote, "not in a rush." So it's uncertain how long it will take to get the big bill done. But Kate, it is still possible the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill could become law within days because progressives in the House are ready to support that and send it to the president's desk.

But the fate of the expansion of the social safety net is a different question.

BOLDUAN: And more and more complicated but it continues. Thank you, Manu. Really appreciate it.

Coming up still for us, what will it take to get Democrats on the same page to pass both of these bills now in question?

I'll ask a member of the House progressive caucus -- next.





BOLDUAN: Let's focus in on Capitol Hill right now. The months-long tug of war between progressives and moderates, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, is taking another turn. At the center of it is still the fate of President Biden's massive spending bill.

And Manchin telling his progressive colleagues to go ahead, move ahead, pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill because, holding that up, Manchin says, isn't getting him closer to a yes on the broader spending bill.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): For the sake of the country, vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, Democratic Congress woman from California, Sara Jacobs, a member of the progressive caucus.

Thanks for coming in.

What did you hear in the caucus meeting this morning?

What's the plan?

What did the Speaker lay out?

REP. SARA JACOBS (D-CA), MEMBER, PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: You know, I think House Democrats are feeling very optimistic. We are all eager to get both bills passed as soon as possible. And I think we're very close to doing that and getting both bills passed through the House.

BOLDUAN: Do you expect votes this week?

JACOBS: I believe so, yes.

BOLDUAN: Joe Manchin is very much still in the place that he's been, Congresswoman.


BOLDUAN: He wants more time to negotiate the bigger bill. He's made that very clear. The head of the progressive caucus said today she trusts that President Biden will be able to deliver the votes in the Senate on this bigger spending bill, including Joe Manchin.

Do you trust the president is going to be able to do that? JACOBS: I do. I trust President Biden when he says he'll be able to deliver the votes in the Senate. I think it's time for the House to do our part and pass these two bills that, together, do amazing things for our country and are going to be historic, and then let the president do what, frankly, he does best, as a former senator, and get things through the Senate.

BOLDUAN: We have -- we have -- stand by to stand by to see what happens this week on that. I want to lean on the fact that you sit on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs.

My colleague, Kylie Atwood, has been reporting this morning, new satellite imagery, showing what analysts describe as an unprecedented nuclear buildup in China, not one new silo filled; it's three. And not just a few new missile silos, it's hundreds.

How worried should the U.S. be of a nuclear-armed China and what should President Biden and Congress do about it?

JACOBS: Look, I think that the nuclear buildup is concerning. But it's also exactly what you would expect from a rival and it's actually how we get to nuclear deterrence. I don't think it means that we need to have widespread alarm. I don't think it means that we need to be building more of a nuclear arsenal ourselves.

We need to be investing in the technology that can keep us safe and we need make sure we're making the right investments in our defense budget so we're actually getting the technology and capabilities we need instead of these legacy systems that cost a lot of money but, frankly, don't keep us more secure in what the world looks like right now.

BOLDUAN: The last time that you and I spoke, I looked back, it was during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. And we talked at that time about what the -- what Taliban rule would mean for women and girls there.

Now my colleague, Anna Coren, is reporting in excruciating detail the experience of families being forced to sell their daughters into marriage, girls as young as 4. The reason being is they cannot afford food. They cannot care for them as the economy collapses and international aid dries up.

I want to play for you part of what Anna's reporting is -- and before I play it, I should note for everyone, these parents did give CNN full access and permission to talk to these children, to show their faces, because they say they cannot change this practice themselves. Listen to this, please.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His large hands grab her small frame. Parwana tries to pull away. As he carries her only bag of belongings, she again resists, digging her heels into the dirt. But it's futile.


BOLDUAN: It is heartbreaking. This little girl is one of the girls that -- she's only 9 years old. They're doing this, these families are being forced to do this because they are starving.

Where is the United States here?

JACOBS: Look, that is heartbreaking and it's heartbreaking to know that this is happening in Afghanistan. But I think that it's why I have been pushing the administration so hard to make sure that we are doing the humanitarian assistance, getting humanitarian assistance into Afghanistan.

I was glad to see that the Biden administration did cut the red tape and allow humanitarian organizations to operate. I think we need to also do that for atrocity prevention, women rights organizations, peace building organizations, so they're able to operate.

And we need to make sure we're not punishing the Afghan people for the decisions of their government and that we're continuing and accelerating humanitarian assistance to what we know is a very dire situation.

BOLDUAN: If what we just showed you is part of the legacy of the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan, what will you say about that?

JACOBS: Look, it's heartbreaking and I wish that girls around the world could have the kinds of opportunities that I had growing up here in the United States.

But as horrifying as the situation in Afghanistan is, there are places around the world where girls and women are treated terribly. And the answer cannot be that the United States military goes in to every single one of these places.

There are many other ways we can promote the rights of women and girls and the answer cannot be at the barrel of a gun.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you for your time.

Coming up for us, the CDC expected to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for younger kids as soon as this afternoon. What parents need to know. That's next.





BOLDUAN: Today is the day. CDC vaccine advisers are meeting right now and they will vote today on authorizing Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 to 11. Millions of smaller child-sized doses of the vaccine are being shipped to distribution centers across the country in anticipation of getting the green light.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is tracking all of this for us and joins me now.

What is likely to happen today?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are told by members of this committee, this --