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At This Hour

Biden Stresses U.S. Can No Longer Take Democracy for Granted; Trump Stumps in Iowa; Poll: Majority of Americans Unhappy with Direction of U.S.; Audio from Uvalde School Shooting 9-1-1 Call. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 03, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, democracy on the ballot. Part of Joe Biden's closing argument now for the midterm.

Are voters listening?

Plus what parents in Uvalde want every responding officer to sit and listen to. New reporting of yet another child pleading for help.

And one of the NBA's biggest stars said he takes responsibility and now wants to make amended for pushing an anti-Semitic film. This is what we're watching AT THIS HOUR.

Thank you for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Five days until the midterms and President Biden warning that democracy itself is at stake. In a speech just blocks from where the violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, the president told the country, we can't take democracy for granted any more.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake. Democracy is on the ballot for all of us. We must remember that democracy is a covenant. We need to start looking out for each other again.


BOLDUAN: So White House aides tell CNN the president's speech was in part shaped by the alarm that he felt about the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband. That suspect has another court date tomorrow.

Today Joe Biden will be taking his message on the road at a rally in New Mexico this evening. And Donald Trump also returns to the campaign trail today, holding a rally in Iowa, which, yes, has a Senate race on the ballot. But Trump's trip may be about much more than that. Let's start at the White House. MJ Lee is live at this hour.

Biden's speech last night, what are you hearing about it today?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president believes we're at a generational inflection point. He said it is more than political and more than me and the election back in 2020 and more than the election coming up next week. He said it is about future of our country.

He began his remarks notably by talking about this violent attack against Paul Pelosi, which authorities now say was politically motivated. And he condemned in the strongest language possible election deniers, candidates on the ballot that say they won't accept the results next week and also any threats of violence.

He said that the stakes next week couldn't be higher. Take a listen.


BIDEN: This year, I hope you'll make the future of our democracy an important part of your decision to vote and how you vote. I hope you'll ask a simple question of each candidate you might vote for.

Will that person accept the legitimate will of the American people or the people voting in his district or her district?

Will that person accept the outcome of the election, win or lose?

The answer to that question is vital. In my opinion, it should be decisive.


LEE: And we just saw the president boarding Air Force One. He is now headed out west to go to New Mexico to campaign for a Democratic governor there who is in a tough race.

This is a midterm where we've talked a lot about House races and Senate races and while Democrats could keep control of Congress but there is a big focus on gubernatorial races because these governors could help enact and implement the president's agenda. Kate.

BOLDUAN: It is good to see you. Thank you.

There are also so many races out there. That means there is a lot of polls out there right now, which candidates are up and which are down and which issues voters say matters most to them.

But there may be one question that does get to the heart of what this election is really about: how people feel about the country and where it is headed. CNN's Harry Enten is looking into this.

This gets into the right and wrong track when talking to voters.

How bad are people feeling right now and how does it stack up historically?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Voters, Americans are not happy. Gallup has been asking over last 40 years, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the country's direction and if you look right now, more -- fewer Americans say that they are satisfied with this country's direction than at any midterm.

Just 17 percent, my goodness gracious, what a low number that is. And I think that gets illustrated at this point that Americans are frustrating with where things are at. And normally, the number is low. But this is historically low, Kate.

And who they -- for lack of a better phrase.


BOLDUAN: That is the nuance in the question. But midterms are often tough on the party in the White House. You and I have discussed that last week.

But what does this legal of dissatisfaction among voters mean for the results, do you think?

ENTEN: If you look at midterms, right, and go back to 1982 and look at the average seat change, when more Americans are dissatisfied, look at this. The opposition party gains 33 seats. In the few examples, the president's party gains two seats. But we're in the latter category right now.

Now will the Republican gain in fact be 33 seats?

I don't think so. But that just gives you an indication of the winds that Democrats are facing, given the satisfaction numbers that we're seeing in the polling right now.

BOLDUAN: And the winds or the tide are the metaphors. And it is not just right track and wrong track.

What are the other indicators that you're looking at?

ENTEN: Look, the president's approval rating, right, 40 percent in the latest Gallup poll. Look at Congress approval rating, 21 percent. And the satisfaction with the direction of the country, 17 percent.

And here is the whole thing. It is the worst, the second worst and the second worst on all of these ratings in midterms since 1982. So you put all of this together and you get a really good understanding that there are a lot of national indicators that are not favorable for the party in power.

BOLDUAN: So given all of that we've just discussed suggests the tide turning away from Democrats.

Is anything working against Republican momentum right now?

ENTEN: Yes. So you know, obviously we've talked about the House. But let's talk about the Senate. The candidates still matter. Look at the net favorability ratings for these GOP Senate states in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada and Pennsylvania. They're all under water. All of them have higher unfavorable ratings and the question for me

is, can these bad GOP candidates kind of blow it for the Republican Party?

Because it is right there for the taking. But the fact that these candidates are so disliked, they could in fact still lose the Senate.

BOLDUAN: It is good to see you, Harry. Thank you, appreciate it.

Let's go to battleground Georgia. All of the candidates for those races are out in a big way today. Eva McKend has more on their closing message to voters.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: In Georgia this year, a fierce matchup between a long-time pastor and a former football great, vying for a seat that could determine control of the U.S. Senate. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, won a special election in January 2021 that helped deliver the Senate majority to Democrats.

As he seeks a full six year term, Warnock is touting his bipartisan credentials.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): I'll work with anyone if it means helping Georgia.

MCKEND: A Heisman trophy winner and political newcomer, Republican Herschel Walker is leaning on his biography. For the first time in the state's history, two Black men are facing off as major party nominees for the Senate. With less than a week until the votes are counted, the polls show a tight race. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote next week, the race will head to a December runoff.

WARNOCK: The people of Georgia deserve to see that choice, because in this case it's stark and deeply consequential.

MCKEND: Walker, who is running with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, has sought to tie Warnock to the current president, Joe Biden, who narrowly won in 2020 in Georgia. Two years later, his standing in the state has sunk amid concerns about the economy and high inflation.

SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): The thing they're doing to this economy is not right.

MCKEND: Instead of bringing in Biden, Warnock leaning on a former Democratic president, Barack Obama, to help energize voters and make the case against Walker.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It seems to me he's a celebrity who wants to be a politician.

MCKEND: In the closing week of the campaign, the contest was rocked by reports walker, who is stanchly opposed to abortion rights, pressured two women to have abortions. CNN has not independently confirmed those allegations.

WALKER: I've already told people this is a lie and I'm not going to entertain and continue to carry a lie alone.

MCKEND: For his part, Warnock has largely avoided directly attacking Walker over the reports, instead raising questions about his GOP rival's character.

WARNOCK: We will see time and time that my opponent has a problem with the truth.

MCKEND: With the Senate potentially at stake, Republican leaders and voters have rallied behind Walker.

Are you concerned about the abortion allegations at all?

LYNN SMITH, REPUBLICAN GEORGIA VOTER: No. No. Because, you know, everyone makes a mistake.


BOLDUAN: Eva McKend, thank you so much for that.

So joining the final sprint to the finish.


BOLDUAN: Donald Trump heading to Iowa today, the first of four events in these final days. Jeff Zeleny is in Sioux City, where Trump is headlining a rally tonight.

So Jeff, is this Iowa stop about midterms and about Chuck Grassley's re-election, the party's oldest senator at 89 years old, or is this about 2024?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, I think the answer to both of those questions is yes. In the short-term, it is about Chuck Grassley. He's running for the eighth term. And there is a sense among his advisers, this is a closer race than he was expecting.

He has softness among the Trump base. They've never been huge fans of senator Grassley as he's run for re-election again and again. So there were conversations to get the former president here to rally up from the supporters for senator Grassley.

But there is no doubt, it is about 2024. Iowa is hardly the hottest battleground of 2022. But when the former president arrives here in Sioux City tonight, it is the first of the five rallies in the next four days. So clearly trying to reassert himself back into this midterm conversation and be part of what he and other Republicans believe could be a red wave.

BOLDUAN: And Jeff, MJ was just talking about Joe Biden's speech last night, how he believed democracy is on the ballot come next week. You've been crisscrossing the midterm states. And the polling suggest that's voters, while they care about election

security, they're not putting that as their most important issue. The most important issue being, time and again, economy and inflation.

What are you hearing when you're talking to voters?

ZELENY: There is no doubt that economy and inflation rising prices and anxiety certainly are top of mind for so many voters in both parties we speak to in virtually every battleground or key state.

But Democrats also have severe questions and concerns and worries about democracy. So it is not just a -- an either/or situation. Clearly the president is trying to fire up Democrats, to increase participation among Democrats, among his supporters, and shake them a bit, sound the alarm.

In his speech last night, coming several days before Election Day and as millions and millions of Americans are voting every day, clearly it is trying to target Democrats.

But you know, it is a question of should that be a closing message or should it be more on the economy?

And the reality is, you know, there is some disagreement about that inside of the party.

BOLDUAN: The White House will say, everyone can walk and chew gum at the same time but others will say you need to be almost myopically focused to hammer that message

Congressman Tim Ryan is running for Senate out of Ohio. He's unique in that he has never been -- and we've covered for him for a long time -- he's never been afraid to criticize his party when he thinks they're on the wrong path.

He ran for House Speaker against Nancy Pelosi. And he's suggesting that what is happening with the midterm messaging he thinks is off for Democrats.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Well, one, I think it is part of the Democrat problem and the national Democrats problem, is that a woman who is having economic problems just outside of Toledo, Ohio, is looking to the Republican Party for help.

And they're doing nothing but defending extremists who want to overthrow the government. And that is a problem that the national Democratic Party has.


BOLDUAN: Whoever he's going to deem the national Democratic Party, whoever that he's speaking to, do you think that the national Democrats get that? ZELENY: Look, it is an open question and there has been so much disagreement which as you well know usually comes at end of an election that may not be going their way. There is certainly a lot of conversations going on, should Democrats have talked more about the economy and inflation.

Should they have tried to sell the administration's accomplishments, of which there have been many?

One of the issues here is the price tag of all of the accomplishments, of student loans and other matters -- has been quite high which many people believe, rightly or wrongly, that contributed to inflation.

So it is a challenge to Democrats to not just talk about the economy. But we make a mistake talking about closing arguments. There is sort of many arguments going on at the same time.

And as the president travels out to New Mexico and California today we'll be talking about the economy. But there is no doubt that congressman Ryan is hearing from voters from Ohio and elsewhere, the same thing I'm hearing as I travel around.

Voters aren't necessarily mentioning democracy as top of mind. Yes, they're concerned but, boy, the kitchen table issues are certainly much more of a priority for many voters, Kate.


BOLDUAN: And to your point and you make an excellent point that we need to also keep in mind just everyone as we talk about this, which is there are closing argument, that is two weeks ago for some places. Because some people are voting already every day.

And the closing arguments are the other day that you decide are casting your ballot. So it is a great point. Jeff. It is great to see you. Thank you.

And please be sure to join CNN for our special Election Night coverage, starting on Tuesday at 4:00 pm Eastern.

So a second family in Uvalde is now speaking up. Why this family wants every first responders to hear their daughter's terrified voice as she called 9-1-1 from a classroom at Robb Elementary.





BOLDUAN: CNN has obtained more audio of a 9-1-1 call from inside of the Robb Elementary School during the massacre. After 10-year-old Khloie Torres called police on her dying teacher's phone, she passed the call to her classmate. And as gunfire is heard in the background, the second child politely

begs the dispatcher to send help. Yet despite the pleas, the girls and their classmates would wait another 30 minutes for officers stationed just outside to finally breach that door.

Shimon Prokupecz joins me with more on this reporting.

Shimon, this is Miah Cerrillo and her parents are saying they want everybody to have to listen to this.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Because of accountability. They feel like by getting this information out there and having this transparency will hopefully bring about change or hopefully bring about accountability.

And they also want their daughter's story told. Both of these parents want their kids' stories told, to tell folks just how heroic they were that way. Opposite from what they feel the officers were that day.

And so that is why they agreed and have allowed us to air all of this audio. And what is so significant about this latest audio is that, despite there being gunshots, which were audible to people standing in the hallway, to the officers and the kids in the classroom, it would still take close to 30 minutes for the officers to get inside of that door.

Take a listen as the events unfolded. We've also paired the audio with video of the officers and what they were doing during that time in the hallway.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here, I'm here, I'm here.

CERRILLO: OK. Is the killer in the building?


CERRILLO: Is the killer in the building?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he's still there in the building so I need you to be quite and do not open the door until we tell you to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone needs to be as quiet as possible.


CERRILLO: He's shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay quiet. Make sure everybody stays quiet. CERRILLO: OK. The officers are (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there officers there?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Hold on. Hold on. don't - don't do anything.

CERRILLO: The officers are in the building.


CERRILLO: I think the officers are in the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, officers are in the building but do not open the door until I tell you to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, just stay quiet.



PROKUPECZ: And Kate, just the heart-pounding fear of this girl and you could hear it in her voice as she's talking to the dispatcher, telling them she could hear the officers outside. At one point it was not clear to them that the gunman was still inside of the classroom because he was in the back, in another section of the adjoining classroom.

So they weren't even sure that he was in there. But just trying to relay as much information they could to the dispatcher.

And the other thing, that we didn't play that gunfire that occurred around 12:20 out of respect for the families and the children. We didn't play it. But you see there those officers, as the gunfire unfolds, they head toward the door but yet they still waited.

BOLDUAN: And one detail from your reporting, just so everyone knows, in speaking with Miah's family, her mother, Miah turns 12, she turns 12 years old tomorrow. Her birthday wish, her mother tells you and your team, that their once vibrant prankster daughter now just wants to be quiet and get out of Uvalde for the day.

So the trauma continues. Shimon, thank you so much for your reporting.

Joining me right now for more on this is Democratic Texas state senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde.

Thank you for being here. Every new detail makes the picture of that day, the truth of that day even worse.

What is your reaction to hearing Mia's voice on that call and knowing that officers were literally standing in the hallway outside? ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX), STATE SENATOR: Yes, Kate, I mean this is the most horrific response to a mass shooting in our nation's history. And I think that people need to understand what went on, the kind of horror that these children had to bear for 77 minutes.

There was extreme failure by the Department of Public Safety and every other law enforcement agency.


GUTIERREZ: This was the patent example of what not to do in a mass shooting. What I have seen now, after signing the NDA, is just horrific. It is horrific. And the horror that these children had to evidence, I don't know how they're coping, quite honestly.

BOLDUAN: And I actually wanted to ask you about that. Because you had -- about what you have seen, you said this.

"The leaks that have been displayed on TV over the last couple or three weeks, that is a fraction, a fraction of the police misconduct." And you say, "I've seen it all."

What else have you seen?

What can you say?

GUTIERREZ: You know, Kate, it is more than malfeasance; it is gross negligence. It is conscious disregard for human life. We have to be very clear that officers cared more about their own safety than the safety of their children.

They literally stood out a room and said I'm not going to go into there because it is dangerous. I don't want to be clapped out. Those are the kinds of things that have come out in the media.

Shimon's reporting, it is -- there is just more of that. And it continues on for 77 minutes. Somehow this idea that we're waiting for the federal team, that doesn't have jurisdiction to do this, just kind of pervaded in that room.

And I've said that before and I've said it to the public safety commission. There was failure at every level of government, not just the local school cop like Steve McCraw would like us to believe.

And it is an absence of leadership for this governor not to ask for his resignation. And that is where we are now in Texas. And we have to move forward.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry to interrupt. I'm sorry about that. One thing that a lot of people are asking, it is a logical question at this point, when you see what you see and hear what we hear with our own ears.

Why it has taken so long for a full accounting, for real accountability.

Are officials, however you want to define that, at this point, do you get the sense they're hoping that the general public will lose interest somehow, that the national attention will go away?

Because it doesn't make sense.

GUTIERREZ: It's clear by now, Kate, that this is actually a cover-up. For what reason, I do not know. If it is as sick as this upcoming election, then that is very disturbing that we can't have transparency in Texas.

We've been told that autopsies will be a year from now. And I found out that those autopsies are coming next week and they'll be sent to the justice of the peace of that county.

It has been lie after lie and misinformation after intentional misinformation for some time now. Yesterday, I called for a $300 million compensation fund to be created, to be compensatory and punitive because of the actions of the Department of Public Safety and because of the misinformation that we've seen.

BOLDUAN: Is that going to happen?

Are you getting support for this effort or any pushback?

GUTIERREZ: I can tell you all of my colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle most likely will be in favor. I've begun to talk to Republicans and we're going to be continuing this dialogue over the course of the upcoming session.

After they've seen what I've seen -- and it is my intention to show those things to them during the legislative session -- it is my hope that they see the light of day on this and they understand that there is -- you can not continue to cover up the misconduct of our police, of our state police.

And you have to be open and honest with people. And by now you have to take accountability and own up to it and pay for that mistake. And our legal system knows of no other way, other than monetary payment. And that is where we are.

But we have to be punitive so that this never happens to another community in Texas and that is why we have punitive damages.

BOLDUAN: Senator Gutierrez, thank you for coming on.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.