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Don Lemon Tonight
Son Of Buffalo Shooting Victim Calls On Lawmakers To Act; Primary Key Races; January 6 House Select Committee To Start Public Hearings; Emotional Plea For Action On Guns; Former Head Of FBI's Active Shooter Program Reacts To Uvalde Police Response; More Than 100 Midterm Campaign Ads Feature Guns; Gas Prices Hit Another Record High. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 07, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GARNELL WHITFIELD, JR., SON OF SHOOTING VICTIM: We're mad as hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The threat of violent white supremacists is growing in this country. The man who killed your mother, Garnell, was motivated by racial hatred. What do you think needs to happen to shut that down, to expose the hatred and the haters?
WHITFIELD: First, you've got to call it what it is, it's white supremacy. You know, there's a lot of banter about, you know, different things, which are important. You know, gun laws, mental health and all those things. But they come under the banner of white supremacy. And white supremacy didn't just begin. It has been going on since the inception of this country. It's been here a long, long time.
And we've got to start having honest discussions about where we are in this country and what we want to do, what we want to be going forward. I think it starts with us being honest about what's going on.
LEMON: Ben, have you seen -- in the time that we have been here discussing -- let's just start with George Floyd. Do you see a change?
BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think the consciousness level has been raised, but I think, like the experts said at the hearing today, people are being rewarded for advocating this race replacement theory, and they are using their cable news shows, they're using their political pulpits to make it popular, get more ratings off of spreading evil.
And we have to call that out. We cannot put politics over people anymore. And we have to, like Garnell said, deal with the issue of white supremacy. We need to pass the antiblack hate crime bill. It needs to be very straightforward to the Black community that keep bailing out the Democrats to say speak to this issue directly on our behalf.
LEMON: Garnell, before we go, is there anything you want to say about your mother, Ruth, that you didn't get to say today? WHITFIELD: I've been wonderfully blessed to have an opportunity to share memories of my mother with a pretty large audience. My mother was a great person, a great woman. She was my hero. She was our everything. She loved us unconditionally. And she set a very high bar for all of us. And we aspired to love and to be the persons that she raised us to be.
LEMON: Ben, thank you. Garnell, of course, thank you so much. I am honored to have you on the program and we thank you for your candor today and sorry that you're having to deal with this. But thanks for speaking up on behalf of the entire country.
WHITFIELD: Thank you, Don.
CRUMP: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
So, we have this going on in America and a lot more. It is election night here as well. Polls just closing in California. There are also key primary races in Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and New Jersey.
CNN's John Avlon is covering it all at the magic wall. John, good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining us again. It is election night in America. I want to start in California because there are some very important races going on there. What are you looking at for in this L.A. mayoral race?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Big time. Look, California, as you just said, polls just closed. L.A. mayor race is one of the key races. You've got Karen Bass, former longtime congresswoman, someone who's on Joe Biden's short list to be his VP, coming in as the strong frontrunner.
But then all of a sudden, Rick Caruso got in the race, somebody who switched his registration from Republican to Democrat, somebody who's a self-funding billionaire running to her right. And they seem to be really neck-and-neck right now.
You've also got Kevin de Leon, a former state's senator, member of the city council there.
But this could very well go off to a runoff, which would take place in November. But Karen Bass, Rick Caruso neck and neck tonight.
LEMON: And crime is the biggest thing on the ticket there, right? It is the most important --
AVLON: That is the flow through in California right now. It's crime, it's quality of life, and no place is that more evident than the next race we're going to look at, San Francisco.
LEMON: That's San Francisco. Right. The major recall on the ballot there, right?
AVLON: Big time. So, this is the San Francisco district attorney, Chesa Boudin. He has been a lightning rod. Someone who has approached the office of district attorney, critics say, as a public defender, which is who he was. Someone trying to put a lot of progressive ideas in place but at a time when crime and homelessness and quality of life all seem to be spiraling out of control.
So, you've got this recall. He is really in the crosshairs. We don't know the data yet, but just a few months ago, we saw a recall race for school board in San Francisco that tossed out three members for being too far left in the landslide. So, watch this as a real test of what's too far, this progressive agenda taking place in district attorneys' offices. A lot of people are going to be talking about this.
LEMON: All right. To Montana now, there is a GOP primary race that you're watching.
Why is this race on your radar?
AVLON: Ryan Zinke is Donald Trump's former interior secretary, Interior Department. Now, he had this seat before. Actually, Montana now has two seats. He's running for an open seat, but he's effectively the incumbent. He's had a lot of ethical issues from his time as interior secretary. His wife had seemed to have a primary residence in California. But he's got the name I.D.
But it's a real test of Trumpism because ironically, the guy who's challenging him is challenging him from the right. So, this is real test of Trump and also a member of the cabinet trying to get back in politics in his own right.
LEMON: Okay. Another one on your radar is the senate primary race in Iowa. I understand CNN can call that now?
AVLON: That is right. CNN is calling this race. Michael Franken defeating former congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer, in what really is an upset. Franken is a former retired Navy admiral, somebody who was in -- it seemed to be pulling a long shot to defeat a former member of Congress, but he has pulled it out tonight, challenging Chuck Grassley, presumptive Republican nominee who's been in office since 1980.
Franken is really making his appeal to independent voters, saying, look, I want voters to vote someone who is pragmatic, civil, who can reason together across party lines. That was his pitch and it was successful enough to dislodge the woman who had been seen as a frontrunner for that race, Abby Finkenauer.
LEMON: John Avlon with our political news tonight. John, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Mr. Ron Brownstein. So, Ron, good evening. So, help us assess these things, analyze these things. You say California is about to experience a political earthquake right now. How so?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, you can look at the narrow terms and broad terms. Narrowly, as John was noting, concerns about crime. And even more, I think, just order associated with pervasive homelessness and large encampments really is sending shockwaves through the politics of both cities, two of the biggest liberal large cities in America.
And you are going to have at the least a runoff between a former Republican billionaire developer, who would not have been a plausible candidate in other circumstances, and Karen Bass for the mayoral race in L.A., and the overwhelming likelihood that Chesa Boudin is recalled in San Francisco.
So, on the one hand, I mean, it shows just how much even in democratic strongholds, there is broad concern now about public safety that extends across racial lines. I mean, this is evident, Don, in every community in the city.
But, more broadly, I think, it shows the danger, the risk to Democrats when people feel certainty is withdrawn from their life. When you are the party in power and people feel like they can't count on basic rules of kind of, you know, daily life from the price of gas to the ability to walk their kids to school without being accosted by someone who seems a danger to themselves or to others, that is, I think, a very dangerous position for the party in power, and I think we're going to see that in California tonight.
LEMON: Can we talk, Ron, about how drastically the political landscape has changed in just the past two years?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, totally. Right? I mean, you have Boudin being elected in 2019. And in 2020, George Gascon being elected as a very similarly minded progressive D.A. in California, all in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder and the massive demonstrations in the streets, probably the most people in the streets in the U.S. since Kent State 50 years before that.
And I think two years later, there's no question that there is significant pushback developing against the reform-minded prosecutors and the entire reform agenda. But I don't think it needs -- I think it would be overreading what's happening to say that people have abandoned any interest in reducing inequities in the criminal justice system, particularly in big liberal cities like San Francisco and L.A.
I think what the advocates and reform have to show is that their agenda is compatible with public safety. Where Boudin, I think, really ran into trouble was, as John said, viewing his job almost as an extension of being a public defender, same thing in Gascon.
If you are the prosecutor, your job is to prosecute people who are breaking the law. Maintaining public order and safety is job one for local government officials. And if you are seeming to prioritize the concerns about equity or the interest of those who are accused of crime, the small minority of people who are accused of crime over the broader community's interest in public safety, that is a recipe for trouble. I think we are going to see that tonight.
So, I don't think it's a repudiation of reform, but I think it is a pretty clear message that reformers have to recalibrate so that voters see that they are equally concerned about ensuring safety for the many as they are about ensuring equity for the few.
LEMON: But that's hard to do when you don't prosecute people for small crimes because small crimes -- people get away with small crimes, then they think they can get away with bigger crimes.
And if you don't prosecute them, then people are going to vote you out.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. I mean, look, that was the broken windows theory, of course, in the 1980s. And I don't know if we're heading back toward a reassertion of the broken windows argument that is precise in policy. But, broadly speaking, that's what's happening.
If you look at L.A. or San Francisco, I think what's driving this public mood is less fear of crime, per se, than anxiety about disorder, and the sense that government officials are in effect ceding control of the streets. You know, not far from where I live in Venice, there is a homeless encampment that has essentially engulfed the public library in Venice which is the quintessential public service.
And there is a sense that the city, in effect, is, you know, ceding a public asset to people who don't pay taxes and denying the use of it to the people who do, not to mention public safety and feeling safe walking on the street. And that, I think, is what local officials, even in the most democratic cities, have to get their arms around.
Look, these are not easy problems. Karen Bass is struggling with finding a balance between extending her commitment to reform, which has been hallmark police reform, hallmark of her career, and responding to this concern about public safety.
Eric Adams in New York had a very discouraging poll out tonight. Lori Lightfoot in Chicago is facing a similar challenge of kind of demonstrating that they can keep the broader public safe while also without abandoning the commitment to reform.
But I think it is really clear, it's going to be really clear after tonight that those who want a more equitable system have to show that they are also committed to keeping the public safe. That is where, I think, Boudin really kind of lost the compass. Gascon, to some extent, was facing the potential of a recall. And that is what has opened the door for Caruso here.
If the progressive establishment in both cities had responded earlier to what were clear signs of public discontent, they might not be in the situation they are now.
And, by the way, there's no guarantee that Caruso is going to win tonight or in November. But even if he doesn't, such a strong performance for a former Republican, even when spending a lot of his own money in such a democratic city, I think, is a pretty clear signal to Democrats far beyond the borders of L.A.
LEMON: And California has elected Republican mayors before. Los Angeles, I should say. Thank you very much, Ron Brownstein. I appreciate that.
Now, to CNN political commentator Paul Bagala and senior political analyst Kirsten Powers. Hello to both of you. Thanks for joining. Paul, I'm interested in what you have to say. What is the message for Democrats tonight?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think the grassroots of the Democratic Party are trying to tell its elites that they care about public safety.
BEGALA: Obviously, they want reform. Obviously, nobody can ever countenance the murder of George Floyd. Obviously, we have to do more on civil rights and justice. And at the same time, L.A. went for Joe Biden 71%. San Francisco has a grand total of seven percent registered Republicans. Okay?
So, they're trying to tell their leaders something. And they're going to tell them that Democrats have got to do a better job about these quality-of-life issues, about crime, about homelessness. It really, really matters. If the government can't keep you safe, then very little else matters. And I think that that's the message that's coming through in this.
LEMON: Kirsten, it's not just crime and homelessness that are plaguing L.A. and San Francisco. Republicans are poised really to exploit soaring gas prices, inflation, the baby formula shortage. How do Democrats fight back against the coming attacks? Can they, really?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think what you're raising is really important. It's easy to see this as just being about crime when in fact this is happening in the context of a broader world where people feel like everything is out of control. Right?
So, if you're already feeling like everything's out of control, everything's too expensive, we're coming out of COVID, all of the things that have come along with that, then on top of it, if you feel like there's disorder on the streets and you don't feel safe, everything is going to be magnified.
So, we don't really know exactly what's causing the crime. As much as people like to point to, you know, defund the police on the left, there's really no evidence that was what happened. This could just as easily be happening because of the pandemic and because people -- we've seen this everywhere, people freaking out on people on airplanes. Everybody is behaving badly, you know, since the pandemic.
So, we don't know what it is, but I think it is important that Democrats show that they are taking this seriously. I say this all the time, the Democratic Party actually has not endorsed defund the police. Karen Bass, in fact, has not endorsed defund the police. It's actually argued that there should be more police on the streets.
So, I think that that's the message that they're getting out there and that they are taking it seriously, but voters have to be convinced.
LEMON: There is a new poll. There is a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll showing that 83% of those who are polled are pessimistic about the economy. You were working with James Carville when he coined the phrase, it is the economy, stupid. So, what does this mean for Democrats up for re-election come November?
BEGALA: I think Kirsten makes a really good point to situate all of this in the sense that we're losing control, that there's no one at the wheel. And I think that, frankly, the Biden White House, when they talk about their accomplishments, it makes people angry. They're all true. Okay, this is the lowest unemployment, the best jobs. Nobody wants to hear that because of the pain of inflation, and then these other quality of life issues.
Let's stay on the economy. The pain of inflation affects 100% of us. That pain is real and you have to begin by saying, I feel your pain. Then you could say, I can heal your pain. Then they ought to say, the other guys are going to worsen your pain.
Rather than try to get credit for his accomplishments, the president, the Democrats need to do that. They need to say, I get it, I can fix it, and the other guys are going to make it worse.
The Republican Senate campaign committee chairman, Rick Scott, senator from Florida, has a proposal to raise taxes on 75 million Americans, all of them working people and poor folks, and sunset social security and Medicare. If Democrats can't run the economy when the other side is trying to do that, then they ought to find a new business to get into.
LEMON: Let us talk about what is happening on Thursday. Kirsten, in just two days, the January 6 House Select Committee is going to have their first primetime hearings. How do you expect this to play with the public so consumed really with other problems that we've spoken about?
POWERS: I honestly would be surprised if it affected the public that much because people, voters, are impacted -- their votes are impacted primarily by what happens in their day-to-day lives. And that doesn't mean that this isn't important, it doesn't mean the Democrats shouldn't be doing it. It is critical and there has to be accountability.
But people will be voting based on how they feel in their lives. Do they feel like they have enough money? Do they feel like gas is too expensive? There's a direct correlation between gas prices and presidential approval ratings, even though the president is very limited in what they can do. Do they feel safe in their communities? Do they feel like things are getting back to normal?
Unfortunately, the answers to a lot of those questions are not good answers. And so, that is the environment that Joe Biden is in. And it would be hard for any person to be successful in this environment when there are so many things that are really out of the president's control, certainly in the short term. And even in the long term, a lot of these things are out of his control.
And so, I totally agree with what Paul is saying, that people don't want to hear that, you know, things are going great when they feel like they're not going great. So, it is very much empathizing with people and saying you understand what people are going through and then giving them some hope.
LEMON: Kirsten, Paul, thank you so much.
BEGALA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Matthew McConaughey at the White House today getting emotional, telling the stories of the 19 children and two teachers who died in their classrooms in Uvalde and demanding action on gun violence.
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I really want you to listen to this because it cuts through all the noise. Matthew McConaughey, native of Uvalde, Texas, who grew up there as a responsible gun owner, whose mom taught kindergarten less than a mile from the scene of the shooting at Robb Elementary School, making an impassioned speech in the White House briefing room today, calling for action on guns.
He also told the stories of some of the victims who lost their lives when a gunman shot up their classroom. Listen.
MCCONAUGHEY: I got to tell you, even from the inside of our vehicle, you could feel the shock in the town. You could feel the pain, the denial, the disillusion, anger, blame, sadness, loss of life, and dreams halted.
We saw ministries, we saw first responders, counselors, cooks, families trying to grieve without it being on the front-page news. We met with the local funeral director and countless morticians who hadn't slept since the massacre the day before because they had been working 24/7 trying to handle so many bodies at once, so many little innocent bodies who had their entire lives still yet to live.
And that is there that we met two of the grieving parents, Ryan and Jessica Ramirez. Their 10-year-old daughter, Alithia, she was one of the 19 children that were killed the day before. Now, Alithia, her dream was to go to art school in Paris and one day share her art with the world. Ryan and Jessica were eager to share her art with us and said if we could share it, that somehow, maybe that would make Alithia smile in heaven. They told us that showing someone else Alithia's art would in some way keep her alive.
Now, this particular drawing is a self-portrait of Alithia drawing with her friend in heaven looking down on her drawing the very same picture. Her mother said of this drawing, she said, you know, we never really talked to her heaven before, but somehow, she knew.
A teacher named Irma and her husband, Joe, what a great family this was. This was an amazing family. Camille and I, we sat with about 20 of their family members in their living room along with their four kids. They were -- kids were 23, 19, 15 and 13.
They've shared all these stories about Irma and Joe, served the community, host all these parties, and how Irma and Joe were planning on getting a food truck together when they soon retired. They were humble, hardworking people.
Irma was a teacher who her family said went above and beyond and just couldn't say no to any kind of teaching. Joe had been commuting to and from work 70 miles away in Del Rio for years. Together, they were the glue of the family. Both worked overtime to support their four kids.
Irma even worked every summer when school was out. The money she had made two summers ago paid to paint the front of the house. The money she made last summer paid to paint the sides of the house. This summer's work was going to pay to paint the back of the house. Irma was one of the teachers who was gunned down in the classroom.
Joe, her husband, literally died of heartache the very next day when he had a heart attack. They never got to paint the back of their house, they never got to retire, and they never got to get that food truck together.
This should not be a partisan issue. There is not a democratic or republican value in one single act of these shooters. It's not. But people in power have failed to act. So, we're asking you. And I'm asking you, will you please ask yourselves, can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?
We got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations, the chance to make the choice that does more than protect your party, the chance to make a choice that protects our country now and for the next generation.
LEMON: Matthew McConaughey today in the White House briefing room.
The mayor of Uvalde telling CNN he still has confidence in the city's police department. But the FBI agent who created the agency's Active Shooter Program says they didn't follow the training. She's here with me, next.
LEMON: So, it has been two weeks since the mass shooting at Uvalde elementary school left 19 children and two teachers dead. Today, Uvalde's mayor told CNN he still has confidence in the city's police department despite questions around law enforcement's response to the shooting.
But former FBI agent Katherine Schweit, who created and ran the agency's Active Shooter Program, says Uvalde officers didn't follow their training. She's also the author of "Stop the Killing: How to Stop the Mass Shooting Crisis." And she joins me now. Katherine, thank you. I appreciate you joining.
KATHERINE SCHWEIT, AUTHOR, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, FORMER HEAD OF FBI'S ACTIVE SHOOTER PROGRAM: Hi, Don. I feel like we just had this conversation.
LEMON: Because we did. Right? Because we did. But, listen, I want to talk about your latest op-ed. Let us start with that, at least. And it is entitled "I Created the FBI's Active Shooter Program. The Officers in Uvalde Did Not Follow Their Training." And you note, all the training Uvalde police had ahead of that shooting. Talk to me, please, about what was in place and why those protocols weren't actually put into practice.
SCHWEIT: So, law enforcement across the country has been trained. There are 800,000 law enforcement officers in the country and they have been trained over the last many years, particularly since Columbine by bunch of organizations and certainly the FBI and bunch of other police academy-type organizations, to tell the officers when a shooting is underway, when shooting is active, when live rounds are going off.
Your primary purpose is to go to the shooter and to neutralize the shooter. That is -- everything else goes to the wayside, people who are injured, barricades that are in your way, doors that are unlocked, windows that need to be broken. You go to the shooter to neutralize the shooter. That's your job. And that's what they've been trained to do.
That's really what prompted the frustration for so many people because what we saw in Uvalde -- and we'll get better information over time over who did what exactly, but what we know for sure is that law enforcement on the scene in different moments made the decision not to do that, and that's just the wrong decision.
LEMON: As I pointed out, the mayor says that he still has confidence in the police department despite its missteps. With all we have learned so far about the response that day, I mean, it's a pretty bold statement for the mayor to make.
SCHWEIT: Yeah. You know, I wonder if that's, in part, because, you know, he's in a community, he's representing the community, and he wants the people there to feel safe right now. The decisions that are going to be made and the information that we're going to get is going to take time, which is frustrating. I know it's frustrating. I don't know that it's necessarily right.
And I think that, you know, the FBI works closely with the NTSB when there's, for instance, like a plane crash or something. You'll see the NTSB step out right away and say, here are the facts we know so far.
SCHWEIT: And I'd like to see that happen here because I think it would help a lot of people who are struggling. And that idea of, do you trust your police department, understand there's a school police department, a city police department, county sheriffs in states. You know, there is a lot of agencies that were involved in this. In some ways, I'd like to see a little bit more clarity sooner than waiting for two months for an after-action report.
LEMON: Katherine, your daughter is a middle school teacher, and you write about her awareness of her classroom and what to do in an active shooter situation. What kind of training do teachers need? Do you think our schools are getting the proper training?
SCHWEIT: You know, I believe that schools have persistently stuck with a lockdown-lockout as their primary training. And though that's important from a national standpoint, the reason that we adopted as a federal program "Run. Hide. Fight," developed by the city of Houston and the mayor's office, was because that is what literally happens. People run or hide or fight or some combination of that.
And when you only teach the hide part, when you only teach lockdown, I think you put your life in everybody else's hands but your own. And you are the best person to know what to do in that moment in time. And that's why you need to be trained. Everybody needs to be trained and run.
And even kids, when I know people are frustrated about teaching kids, I will say that, you know, kids live in this reality right now, and kids are scared right now, and giving them information takes some of that fear away, giving them the power to understand what to do.
And, you know, my daughter is a middle school teacher. And she knows that no matter what her school district says, she's going to be out the door if they need to be. And she's going to teach her kids to do that, too. She's by a side door, and I think about that every day. She's got big classroom windows in her classroom, and I worry about her every day she's in school.
SCHWEIT: Even though I know kids in school are safer than kids are at home. You know, it's just a fear that you can't get rid of.
LEMON: You may have answered part of this next question in your previous answer, but I've noticed that you point the finger at yourself a bit in your op-ed for how you designed the FBI's active shooter training, things that you might've missed. Maybe that was part of you said run and hide or whatever. What goes through your mind every time there's another mass shooting in this country?
SCHWEIT: Oh, it's so gut-wrenching because, you know, I'm actually -- I can't see it, but, you know, I have in this office of mine an attorney general award that I was given for outstanding community partnership work after we pushed all this stuff through.
You know, how can I have that award up here when we have more shootings now, we have more shootings every day in the country? It kills me. And my phone just blares and blares and people call me and they say, what can I do to help? And I don't know what to tell them other than, let's go back to the basics, let's train our teachers, let's train our students to run, hide, fight, and let's train our police officers not only to understand the training but to execute on it.
So, I think that's what we saw here was a failure to execute training that they had.
LEMON: Katherine Schweit, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I love speaking to you, but I hope we don't have to talk again soon. I really do. I really mean that. Thank you, though.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you for appearing on the program, once again.
SCHWEIT: My pleasure.
LEMON: The country is reeling from mass shootings. Yet, so far, more than 100 campaign ads this year are featuring guns. We've got a deep dive into those, next.
LEMON: A rash of horrific mass shootings has put pressure on lawmakers to act. But amid renewed concern over access to guns, some candidates are putting guns front and center in campaign ads.
In CNN's Tom Foreman reports tonight, there's real concern over what message they're sending.
DAVE MCCORMICK, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: At West Point, we march with the Springfield.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In ad after ad --
GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): Well, maybe a little Smith and Wesson 38.
FOREMAN (voice-over): State after state.
JIM PILLEN, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: As governor, I'll keep Nebraska safe.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Republican candidates are loading up.
FOREMAN (voice-over): So far, this year, at least 122 republican campaign commercials have referenced guns compared to just 20 for Democrats, according to data analyzed by Ad Impact.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We're going to get along this fine.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Through ads, emails, and holiday greetings in recent years --
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I'm going to blow away the Democrats' socialist agenda.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The GOP arsenal has expanded far beyond hunting scenes.
BROWNSTEIN: Now, the messaging is more over it and pointed and belligerent, and it fits into the broader evolution of republican messaging in the Trump era, which is basically this is your country, they're trying to take it away, and you need us to fight for you, to hold on to it.
MEHMET OZ, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: I've been shooting and hunting my whole life.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Consider this Senate campaign video for Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.
OZ: But our Second Amendment is not just about hunting. It is about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders or an overtly intrusive government.
FOREMAN (voice-over): What's sort of government intrusion would warrant an armed response? We asked, no reply.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade Bill.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from conservative West Virginia opened fire in his ads a dozen years ago.
MANCHIN: Because for me, it's all about West Virginia.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But most Democratic candidates now focus on curtailing gun violence.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): She's cracking down on illegal guns to make our neighborhood safe.
FOREMAN (voice-over): While many GOP commercials go their own way.
JIM LAMON, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: The people of Arizona have had enough of you. It's time for a showdown.
FOREMAN (voice-over): It can be risky. Arizona's Jim Lamon opened fire on characters representing top Democrats, including the president. When critics filed, Lamon called them snowflakes. But with real life violence seeping into politics, some other Republicans see a troubling trend.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We live in a time where we're constantly looking for enemies instead of friends. We're calling out (INAUDIBLE). We are demonizing the other side. It feels like a recipe for disaster.
FOREMAN (on camera): Plenty of campaigns say these ads are in no way a call to arms, and plenty of voters know that. The worries about those who don't, those who might see not just politics, but validation for violence. Don?
LEMON: Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
Gas prices at an all-time high. The treasury secretary saying inflation at an unacceptably high rate. But what do Americans think about the squeeze? I'm going to ask Harry Enten, next.
LEMON: Americans and their wallets just can't catch a break. Gas prices hitting yet another record high today after they hit one just yesterday. This coming as the Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, said today she expects inflation to remain high. For a closer look at what Americans think about the state of the economy, I want to bring in CNN's senior data reporter, as I like to call him, data.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Call me whatever you want. It's 11:52 in the evening.
LEMON: We called you to come in and you did.
ENTEN: Yeah, I did, because I love you, Don.
LEMON: So, consumers have been feeling the pressure on all sides when it comes to the economy. What do the polls show? What are people most worried about?
ENTEN: They hate the economy right now. This is not really much of a shocker, right? But it's not just that they think that the economy is in poor shape, they think it's getting worse.
ENTEN: And that, to me, is the key nugget here. Look at that. Seventy-seven percent of Americans think that the economy is getting worse. That is the highest number saying it's going to get worse since 2009. The current state of the economy, just -- look at this. Eighty- five percent say it's only fair or poor. That is the highest on that in a decade.
LEMON: All right. So, you heard -- you know this. Treasury secretary --
ENTEN: Yes, it's a mouthful.
LEMON: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is saying that the inflation is at all time unacceptable --
LEMON: -- high level. It is going to remain high.
LEMON: That is the number one issue, right?
ENTEN: It is the number one issue. I mean, the economy is the number one issue. There was an Ipsos poll that came out this past weekend. It is essentially, as you know, what is your most important issue in your vote for the midterms? The economy was number one. But when you break it down amongst those who said the economy was number one, inflation was number one.
General economic worry was number two. Gas prices was actually all the way down. But inflation, inflation, inflation, I mean, it's not much of a surprise, right? You go and try to buy a sandwich, and all of a sudden, it's $2 more than it was two years ago. You go, what the heck is going on? You know, it something that everybody feels. When you go to the grocery store, when you go to buy a pair of pants, even if you are wearing lousy pants like I am right now, you can see inflation. Americans see it in their pocketbooks and that is why they say it's the number one concern.
LEMON: Acid wash jeans. Anyway, who is taking the heat for the inflation?
ENTEN: I mean, come on. We all know who is taking the heat. It is always --
LEMON: Joe Biden.
ENTEN: Joe Biden. The buck stops here, right? That's always the case. Look at his approval rating on inflation. It is hovering at about 30%. Disapproval is around 70%. These are awful numbers. And when you have terrible numbers on the most important issue that is facing Americans, it's no wonder that Democrats are getting creamed in the polls right now and why Biden's overall approval is stuck in the low 40s.
LEMON: I think -- listen. Folks who have hybrids or electric cars are feeling really smug right now. Right? High and mighty. Record high for gas, $4.92 a gallon, up from 30 cents in just the last week. That's trouble for Biden.
ENTEN: I mean, it's huge trouble for Biden.
I mean, again, his approval rating on that issue hovering around 30%, disapproval around 70%. And I will note, you know, I put together for all of the different shows. You know, I appeal with you, Don. I appeal with other folks. I consistently say, okay, what is the change in gas prices from the past year? And every single time that I update it, the percentage growth goes up. It's like it started 53%, it was 57%, then it was 59%. I almost made the slide for you, going to be up 61% from a year ago.
This is nuts. When people try to fill up their cars, it's just another reminder that their dollar isn't going as far as it used to go, and that is such a big problem for Joe Biden and therefore the Democrats heading into November.
LEMON: I filled up not this past Saturday, but the Saturday before. I was, like, wait a minute, when is this thing going to stop?
ENTEN: When is it going to stop? There is no sign of it stopping and my buddy, who bought a Tesla a few years ago, look how smart he is right now. I should listen to him more because he seems to know a lot. He got the Tesla. Maybe if I had a Tesla, I'd be a happier man.
LEMON: Yeah. Now if I can cut down on the air conditioning use in my house, I would be -- it would all be good.
ENTEN: I mean, you know, the truth is, though, with the lights on in the studio, maybe I can get some more air conditioning right now. I'm (INAUDIBLE) like nobody else right now.
LEMON: All right, Data. Thank you, sir.
ENTEN: Bye, Don.
LEMON: Good to see you.
ENTEN: Nice to see you.
LEMON: Good night.
Thanks for watching, everyone. Good night to you. Our coverage continues.