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GA Gov. Kemp, Dem Abrams Face Off in Final Gubernatorial Debate; Lula Wins Presidency, But Bolsonaro Does Not Concede; Paul Pelosi Attack Unleashes Unfounded Conspiracy Theories. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 31, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. At this hour, the polls, the predictions and the policies, all playing out on a Georgia debate stage. The closing arguments now in the final week before the midterms.

Plus, college admissions could change forever as the Supreme Court takes up the case.

And it is a Halloween jackpot for the record books for sure. And our chances of winning a billion dollars still just as grim as before. This is what we're watching at this hour.

Thank you so much for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It is the final week before the votes are counted in the midterm election. Now just eight days away. Early voting numbers have been breaking records all over the place, really, with more than 20.7 million ballots already cast in 46 states. In Georgia where more than 1.6 million people have already voted.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams faced off last night in their second and final debate. The two drew clear contrasts on almost every topic, most clearly on abortion rights and the economy. Two issues that polling shows that we have known throughout the midterm cycle are top of mind for many voters.

Candidates from coast to coast are making their final pitches to voters and some are getting help from some big names. Former President Obama has to Nevada and Pennsylvania. President Biden will be campaigning in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Florida and Maryland. And former President Trump he's supporting candidates in Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania as well.

Let's get started in Georgia. CNN's Eva McKend is in Atlanta for us. So, Eva, it was a final debate, the final time these two could face off in the governor's race. What did we say?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Kate, last night really underscored that Governor Kemp, Stacey Abrams couldn't be more different on the policy matters of consequence to Georgians, whether that be on public safety, they are disparate economic visions. And this was really pronounced on this issue of abortion. When Governor Kemp was asked if he was reelected, would he sign into law further restrictions on abortion? His answer wasn't entirely clear. Take a listen to their exchange on this issue.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP, (R) GEORGIA: I'm not going to count on, you know, say yes or no to any specific piece of legislation without actually seeing exactly what it's doing. It's not my desire to go move the needle any further on this issue.

STACEY ABRAMS, (D) GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Abortion is a medical choice. And as such, it should it be that a woman has the ability to make a decision until viability and that decision about viability should not impact her life or her health. That is a decision that should be made between a doctor and a woman as a medical choice.


MCKEND: Now, another notable moment came when Abrams raised concern about women being investigated after miscarriages under this abortion law. Governor Kemp then revealed that his own wife had suffered a miscarriage years ago. You know, this did highlight the stark differences of this debate but so many voters have already made up their mind here in Georgia. Georgia has seen a record number during this early turnout period take. More than a million people have already voted.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Absolutely. Eva, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for that.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN Chief Political Correspondent, co-host of the State of the Union. Dana Bash, Shannon McCaffrey, a Political Reporter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Ronald Hansen, National Political Reporter with The Arizona Republic. Great to have you all here.

Shannon, let's start in Georgia. Let's start with you. What is the impact, do you think of this debate? Do you think it could move the needle for Abrams, who's -- well, who has been behind in the polls? And more broadly, what's the impact of that race on the Senate race that you've been covering so closely?

SHANNON MCCAFFREY, POLITICS REPORTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yeah. I don't know that this debate is going to have a huge impact, because so many people have voted already. As you said, it's a little more than 1.6 million people who've already cast ballots. It could have the impact and turnout. You know, for some folks who are maybe not quite sure if they're going to have time to get to the polls or maybe not sure if they want to vote this year, you know, hearing her hammer away at camp on issues like abortion and gun control, you know, our which our, you know, polls show she is with the majority of Georgia voters on these issues. So, it could help with turnout. But, you know, these two know each other well. This is the second time they've run against each other. You know, they know where the pain points are for each other. So, you know, I think this was just an opportunity for them to give their closing arguments.


BOLDUAN: Yeah. Ronald, you have something of a similar situation in Arizona in that you have a hotly contested governor's race and a hotly contested Senate seat happening at the same time. How do you see them playing off each other there?

RONALD HANSEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Well, we definitely have been working together on the Republican side. This is something that has been a conscious strategy. Kari lake, the gubernatorial nominee for the Republicans has been something of a star in the making. She has been going around the state and getting all kinds of attention to her campaign.

Blake Masters, the Republican Senate candidate has really kind of held on to her campaign, and has really appeared all over the state with her. That's part of the deliberate strategy. A, for a campaign that's not nearly as cash flushes his opponent, Mark Kelly. But also, is a way to sort of hang on to the support that she has consolidated within Republican circles.

BOLDUAN: And Dana, you had Senator Rick Scott on your show, he of course, is the Chair of the Senate's Campaign Arm. And when looking just broadly kind of across the country, these races included, he predicted that Republicans will end up with at least 52 seats, so net gain of two. I don't play for everybody what he told you about why he says that?


SEN. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: This is our year, the Democrats can't run on anything they've done. People don't like what they've done. They don't like high inflation. They don't like gas prices, food prices up. They don't like -- the public doesn't like an open border. They don't like high crime. And that's what the Democrats are known for. I mean, they've done all these things. Democrats did it.


BOLDUAN: The Democrats did it. That's quite a closing argument.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. I mean, that's the whole ballgame, what you just heard, saying that it is because of the policies of the Democrats in charge in the White House, in the Senate, in the House, and particularly, obviously, he's trying to push for Republican gains in the Senate. So that is his focus. And when you're talking about an economic issue, if you look at sort of the modern history of politics, and political campaigns, and more importantly, voters and how they tend to trend when the economy is as complicated, but also as bad when it comes to how people feel. They tend to blame the people in charge, fair or not. That's just what happens. It happened, if you go back to George H.W. Bush, he lost in 1992 and on the economy stupid. That was the campaign message from Governor Clinton. And if you kind of look from there to now, it's been the same kind of thing.

What the Democrats are trying to do is say, is make it a contrast. You think it's bad now? Are you uncomfortable with it now? Wait until the other guys in. And who is going to win that argument? And along with the turnout that that our colleagues here have been talking about? That's going to be the determining factor?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. You also, Dana, asked Rick Scott about the attack on Paul Pelosi. And I'm play for everyone some of you back and forth on that.


SCOTT: We can have a heated conversation about the issues. But this violence has got to stop. This is horrible. And my heart goes out to Paul Pelosi and I hope he has a full recovery.

BASH; Is it important for people from the top of your party that former President on down to tone down the rhetoric about the conspiracies that might instigate somebody who is unhinged, like the man who went into the Pelosi home?

SCOTT: Dana, I think what's important is everybody do everything we can to make these elections fair.

BASH: Just to be clear, I want to move on, but there is no evidence that they weren't fair and 2020?


BOLDUAN: A week out from the election, Dana, Rick Scott is, of course, all about winning races and trying to win back the Senate Majority. What is Rick Scott trying to do here with that?

BASH: He's continuing on the notion of election conspiracies. And he did it in a much more subtle way than say, Kari Lake has done on the campaign trail that she did on our show a couple of weeks ago. But he did it. To be honest, what I anticipated that he and other Republicans would continue to do, which is what they had done, since this horrible attack on -- was an attack physically on Paul Pelosi, but it's pretty clear from the reporting that this individual was going in to try to get Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker.

I thought that they were going to do the sort of both sides ism. The Democrats say nasty things too. OK. But he went there hard on the election situation. He talked about election security, but we know that's what he meant, which is why we tried to kind of put a stop to it and then move on to other issues. And we did talk about issues as well.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, absolutely. Of course, he did. But Ronald, on this issue. I mean, as Dana was just mentioning, Arizona is one place where election integrity has been an issue in the race in a big way at least in governor's race. But are you hearing that this is what people that what voters are talking about the cycling in the state?


HANSEN: You know, this is really what seems to be part of two conversations playing out in America at the same time. Democrats certainly care a lot about this issue. And there's some evidence that a good number of independents also care quite a bit about democracy itself. This is a foundational issue. And a lot of Democrats and people that you talk to at those democratic rallies will tell you that, on the right, they view the election from 2020 as having been stolen. This is an article of faith. It is something that is deeply held. But they care about other issues more and they certainly won't agree with the framework that the election was properly carried out and that Donald Trump actually lost in a place like Arizona.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Well, eight days to go. It's good to have you all. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Another consequential election just wrapped. This one in Brazil, the official word is the former President Lula da Silva is the winner, beating the controversial current president Jair Bolsonaro. But whether or not Bolsonaro was willing to concede still seems an open question this morning. CNN's Paula Newton is live in Sao Paulo with more on this. Paula, what are you hearing about this today?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wish we were hearing anything, Kate. And so does the entire country of Brazil. You have to think we're in our 14th Hour of the results being called. The electoral officials here saying, look, this was a fair election. It definitely was a credible vote. And they are saying that at this point in time, they still do not know if the President Bolsonaro will concede, if you will accept the results. If he will try and challenge those these results.

He said in the past few days that he would accept the Democratic vote here in Brazil. And yet for weeks, months, some say years he has been laying the groundwork to de legitimize those votes if he lost. Yeah, Kate, you know, stop me when this sounds familiar. Having said that, you just mentioned Lula da Silva, you know, this is such a comeback. He himself called this a political resurrection. Think about it. He was president for two terms prior. He was in prison less than three years ago, sitting in a prison cell on corruption charges. Those charges were thrown out. And here he is, again, the President of Brazil. He has his work cut out for him, given the division in this country, take a listen.


LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): On this historic October 30, the majority of Brazilians made it very clear that they want more and not less democracy, that they want more, and not less social inclusion, that they want more, and not less opportunities for all. They want more and not less respect and understanding among resilience. To summarize, they want more freedom, equality and fraternity in our country.


NEWTON: As much as he's trying to put together that coalition, Kate, I mean, look, we haven't even started the transition process here yet. And there's already controversy, going to be a tense few hours and days coming up here in Brazil. And people should know, right? What goes on here, it's a major democracy, not just in South America. The fact that the environment here in Brazil so matters to so many.

The White House, Joe Biden, saying that he felt these elections were fair and credible in the White House words. He congratulated Lula and wants to work with him. And at this point in time, everyone just keeping an eye on the current president to see if he emerges today, and if he concedes. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Paula, it's great to see you. Thank you.

So, the man accused of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband is expected to be charged today with multiple felonies. The new details also on what exactly police say they found with him at the scene. That's next.



BOLDUAN: The man who allegedly violently attacked Nancy Pelosi's husband is expected to be charged today with multiple felonies. The brutal assault sent Paul Pelosi to the hospital where he underwent surgery, among other things for a skull fracture. And now CNN is learning more about the attack itself. And what was found with the suspect at the scene. CNN's Veronica Miracle in San Francisco for us at this hour. Veronica, what's the latest from there?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the details that we're learning about this investigation are very disturbing. The suspect, David DePape, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, went inside to the bedroom where Paul Pelosi was sleeping. And sources tell us that David DePape tried to tie Pelosi up and was shouting, "Where is Nancy?" We understand that he had zip ties, duct tape and the hammer that was used in this attack.

Now, David DePape is expected to be charged with several felonies today. Later sometime today, we understand that includes attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse according to the San Francisco Police Department. And in addition to those, we understand that federal officials are weighing a possible federal crime against DePape. And that would be specifically related to the assault, kidnapping or murder of a family member close to a family member of a federal official. And if that happens, it could be sometime as early as this week according to a law enforcement source.

Now, Paul Pelosi, according to sources, is expected to make a full recovery. But he is dealing with very serious injuries, including a skull fracture, injuries to his arm and his hands. This has been a very difficult time for Speaker Pelosi. We saw her come out of her house very quickly yesterday. And she has said to her colleagues that this has been very traumatizing for her family. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Veronica, thank cue for that.


CNN is also reporting that the suspect trafficked in conspiracy theories on social media including about the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. And now, since the attack a whole new wave of baseless conspiracy theories have emerged, including one briefly retweeted by Twitter's new owner Elon Musk. CNN's Oliver Darcy is looking into this. He joins us right now. Oliver, what is going on here with us?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yeah. Well, Elon Musk yesterday lit Twitter on fire after just purchasing it a few days ago. And by pushing this fringe conspiracy theory about the attack on the Speaker's husband. It makes you really question if he understands the weight of his words or the power of the platform he now owns. But he pushed us conspiracy theory later deleted it. And he only addressed it by kind of dismissing it as a joke. He attacked the New York Times. I think we have the tweet, where he joked that he didn't tweet fake news or hasn't linked to fake news because it's never linked to the New York Times. So that's how he is addressing this.

But, Kate, I think this just speaks to the larger issue at play, that broken information environments in our country these days, where these fringe conspiracy theories can go viral so quickly and just gain a foothold in the public conversation, where you have people like Elon Musk, and others, there are very prominent right-wing personalities who are sharing this theory online. And, you know, unfortunately, Musk who owns the platform where this is actually happening, instead of working to clean it up, he's actually contaminating it further.

BOLDUAN: Oliver, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN Counterterrorism Analyst, Phil Mudd and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Peter Licata. Thanks, guys for being here.

Phil. On the new details, first of what exactly the suspect had with him that police are reporting about multiple zip ties, duct tape, among other things. How much worse could this event, Phil?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I'm looking at the prospect that not only maybe Mr. Pelosi might have been there, but maybe Speaker Pelosi, if you've got the duct tape, taping the ties, obviously, you're looking at a situation where the person walking into the room -- into the residence was thinking about potentially a hostage situation. One question I'd have that I haven't seen answered was whether that person had a cell phone. Whether they intended to communicate if there was a hostage situation. So, I know there's a lot of talk about the mental health of the individual that walked into the house. But I'd step back and say take away that question. You're looking at about a very serious situation that regardless of the state of the attacker could have been extended for some time.

BOLDUAN: Peter, what do you see here?

PETER LICATA, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, obviously exactly what Phil said. What you see is it's another individual that's living on the fringes of society, right? Mr. DePape was a loner by all accounts, by everyone that's coming out, witnesses, his former stepdaughter friends, girlfriends, who was a loner. He was a recluse. He lived in a trailer or a camper in somebody's driveway, stayed away from really engaging with people. They didn't have a bank account because he was afraid to talk to tellers. All these things are really key to the to the mindset and the motive, what's behind it.

So again, definitely a situation where law enforcement and the prosecution need to consider not only the charges, they're going to present against him today. But as mentioned, its Title 18, United States Code 115, which is that assault, attempted murder or assault, murder or kidnapping of a certain family member of the federal of federal personnel. So, it's definitely need to be considered whether the United States government or the federal government can supersede the local charges with that. Definitely in my mind's eye, there was more to it. It wasn't just the assault, but there's a potential kidnapping or potential hostage situation here, all very serious.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, very serious. Phil, police have not yet announced a motive behind the attack, though they do say that DePape intentionally went to the Pelosi home. This is, you know, much more to come on this. But the head of the RNC, the Republican National Committee pushback yesterday against the idea that violent rhetoric against Pelosi over years coming from Republicans could have led to this attack. Let me play this.


RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: I think that's unfair. I think this is a deranged individual. You can't say people saying, let's fire Pelosi or let's take back the House, is saying go do violence. It's just unfair.


BOLDUAN: She points out the Republican running for governor in New York was attacked on stage during the campaign, police uncovered a plot to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She says there's no through line from the rhetoric to the Pelosi attack. Do you see it through line, Phil?

MUDD: Let me be subtle, she's wrong. And she's absolutely wrong. And let me give you a few characteristics here, as someone who followed a lot of cases in my lifetime. You're dealing with 330 million Americans. It's not just talking about political adversaries in this climate, many people, Democrats, Republicans might refer to an adversary as an enemy. Among three or 30 million Americans, there's a tiny percentage they might have mental issues. That's not the question. The question is whether that tiny percentage says I'm validated to go after someone like Nancy Pelosi because I'm told she's an enemy and therefore she's a valid target.


If you put this information out in American society, some people will take it and run. Let me close with a quick comment. Republicans and Democrats need a code of conduct, enough with a feel -- we feel bad about this. It's horrible. How about tell us what you're going to do in Congress to rein in your members? That's what we need.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting. And also, Peter, as Oliver was kind of getting out. We're in what feels like an endless cycle of conspiracy theories. Pelosi's attacker peddled heavily in them. And now after the attack, more conspiracy theories are now popping up to try to discredit the reality of what the attack actually was. How does this kind of unfortunate new normal complicate efforts of law enforcement to prevent something like this from happening in the first place?

LICATA: The new normal is not good for law enforcement. Again, it's these attempts to discredit what happened. He's actually the act of violence against Supreme Court, Kavanaugh, the act of violence against Nancy Pelosi's husband and potentially the Speaker of the House. Law enforcement though needs to deal with the facts and not the conspiracy theories. That's their focus. It's motivation. Opportunity means that three foundations that build the case. So, we have the motivation -- we have the opportunity, the means with the path now it's more of understanding the motivation, and the investigators need to keep close hold at any information that discredit any of these conspiracy theories, regardless of this individual state of mind. What he did was commit a violent act, whether he was -- whether he was not right in his mind's eye, that's one thing but it doesn't really matter and shouldn't play into the outcome of what happened which was a disgusting, violent act on any U.S. citizen, let alone the SPEAKER of the House as well.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, Peter, thank you so much. Phil, thank you as always, I really appreciate it. Survivors of a terrifying crowd surge in Seoul, they're now recounting what they saw and how they got out alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I like turn around and I told the crowd, you can't come this way, people are dying.


BOLDUAN: The latest details on this tragedy. That's next.