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Interview with Jason Nemes (R) Kentucky State House, Extension of Covid Emergency and Mask Mandates in Schools; Ex-FBI Chief Says Intel Should Be Taken More Seriously Now Before September Protest; California Is One Week Away from Governor Recall Election; Newson Facing Challenge from Far-Right Republican. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 07, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Why not just have a mask mandate in schools for, I don't know, come up with a timeframe -- the next two weeks. Something like that.

JASON NEMES (R) KENTUCKY STATE HOUSE (via phone): Well, the individual school districts can do that, for example, my district in eastern Jefferson County which is Louisville and the biggest city in Kentucky and we have the highest rate of vaccines and our vaccinations throughout the state. And so, our needs are much less than southeast Kentucky.

You're seeing the Kentucky's numbers spike. But it's largely in the particular area of Kentucky, not across Kentucky. And so, what they need in southeast Kentucky is different, quite different than what we need in other counties. And that's the reason.

I would note that where we're seeing this spike in COVID, the outbreaks, is from areas that have the lowest vaccination rate. So, I want to say very clearly to the people of Kentucky, the people of American, but the people of Kentucky, please go out and get your vaccines. I

And Kentucky right now, 91 percent of the folks that are in the hospital who test positive for COVID are unvaccinated. The same number, 91 percent of people on ventilators are unvaccinated. You need to get your vaccine.

We're not going to mandate it in Kentucky, but it's very important that people go and get their vaccine. That's the best thing you can do for yourself and your family and for our commonwealth.

CAMEROTA: In a place with low vaccination rates, in a district with low vaccination rates, the only other defense are masks. And so -- hold on one second, representative. I just want to ask you, would you rather kids have to wear masks for some time in schools or for the school to shut down? Because that is what we're seeing across the country in places where

kids don't have to wear masks, sometimes their schools shut down for a week or more so which one is better?

NEMES: Well, you presented me with a false dichotomy. It's not either or. I do think areas that have a spike should consider and probably enact the mask mandate. My wife is a teacher in the public school system and I have three kids in school. And I have no problems with the mask mandate. I don't want it to (INAUDIBLE).

But there are other things that we can do, other tools we can provide to our school board which is what we're doing in a special session so they can combat this.

You can have an A/B schedule. Where kids go to school from -- on Mondays and Wednesday and the other side from Tuesday to Thursday which would reduce the total amount of kids on (INAUDIBLE) and the total amount of kids in schools. You can have more remote learning or non-traditional instruction. You can do those types of things which is what we're trying to do.

One thing that we want to equip our superintendent and local school board with is the tools to say in this particular school, like for Crosby Middle School in Jefferson County that has different needs than Zachary Taylor School in Jefferson County has, which is much different than what we need in Clinton County where the spike is ongoing today.

So, we want to give many options so I reject I think the false dichotomy saying masks or take kids out of school. I don't think that's now what we're presenting (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: OK, so just to be clear, you're giving the power to principals to make the decision?

NEMES: No, we're giving the power to local school boards. So, the school boards in Kentucky are elected by each individual county. We have a 120 counties so they have local control. And each local school board can make the decision whether they want to have the mask mandate for all schools in that district.

We have some districts with one school. We have some districts like mine in Louisville, we have 155 schools. What the needs are in those two districts might be differ.

In fact, the needs are within a school district with 155 schools might differ from one school on one side of the county to another school on another side of the county.

The point is we're trying to get the people that are the closest to the situation there, closest to these schools, that are in these schools on a daily basis, they have to look at numbers in their particular areas, give them all the tools they need to protect the Kentucky kids.

CAMEROTA: While I have you, while you're on recess from this emergency session, I have a couple more questions. We just spoke to a doctor out of Lexington who said what they are calling for you guys to do, what they could really use are Regeneron clinics set up --

NEMES: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- across the state to try to prevent people from getting gravely ill. Will your special session do that?

NEMES: Yes, we have a bill that's actually being voted on in committee right now which will go to the House of Representatives tomorrow and I think that's on Thursday, is a bill that -- related to healthcare, and that bill specifically has Regeneron center antibody administration centers throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. And we put money in that (INAUDIBLE).

The major problem we have is (INAUDIBLE) in our hospitals. So, we have areas of the hospital that are closed off not because they have too many COVID patients in them. It's because we don't have enough to staff to man the hospitals. So, we're trying to do all of the above. Including Regeneron, that's proven to be most successful in other states and we have a few in Kentucky in our (INAUDIBLE) of Louisville (INAUDIBLE).

We need them in the rural areas especially because the spike is mostly in our rural areas.

CAMEROTA: And so, you are giving more money to hospitals?


More state money to hospitals in this session?

NEMES: Yes, the final number hasn't been determined. It's approximately 70 million. That may not sound like a lot to a lot of people from other states, New York and California, but in Kentucky with our population, and our numbers, that's inter-poverty numbers, that's a pretty decent amount. If they need more, we'll probably (INAUDIBLE) we'll do everything we can to get money.

Because what that's important for a lot of reasons and that mainly it's because when somebody gets COVID it's too late obviously to get the vaccine but we might be able to save their life if we get this treatment to them earlier enough, that's something to consider (INAUDIBLE) also for the physicians of Kentucky is I haven't seen very strongly for.

CAMEROTA: OK, State Representative Jason Nemes, I know I need to let you get back in. Anything else, anything else newsworthy you want us to know that just came out of that special session?

NEMES: Well, we're trying to give a lot of flexibility to a local decisionmaker, local elected officials, and that the main thing I want to impress on people, is I'm a Republican, you know, I have a heathy district (INAUDIBLE) in government and all things, institutions like every good Republican does.

But I'm saying I've done the research. And please go out if you can and get the vaccine. If you can't get there for some reason, you don't call folks, it will give you a ride, the vaccine is very important for your individual health. It's also important for your communal health.

Again, 91 percent of the people in hospitals and 91 percent of the people on vents in Kentucky are unvaccinated. Get out and let's get this shot. And let's get this thing behind us.

CAMEROTA: State Representative Jason Nemes, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk. Thank you.

NEMES: Thank you.

OK, so months after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, plans for yet another D.C. rally are under way in support of the jailed rioters.

And these are new pictures we have of -- we don't have any pictures yet of President Biden's trip landing at LaGuardia Airport. But we're told he just did. And so, 5we will bring those to you as soon as he is live in Queens and touring the storm damage there.



CAMEROTA: Far right extremist groups are planning a rally in Washington later this month in support of the suspects charged with storming the U.S. Capitol. A former top FBI official is warning that law enforcement needs to prepare for the potential of more violence.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is here with the story. So, Jessica, what are officials warning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, officials are warning that they are taking this seriously. And in fact, they are keeping a very close watch on the plans for that September 18th rally.

At this point though, the details are still in flux. So, this is all being organized by a former Trump campaign operative, Matt Braynard. And his group is saying they're expecting hundreds of people. But one extremism expert that I've spoken with is actually downplaying the numbers here saying everything she's seen, chatter online, it doesn't seem like groups are very organized.

She's also seen that Proud Boys are warning their members not to show up. But regardless, Metropolitan Police and Capitol Police, they are taking this very seriously. So, D.C. Police will be fully activated that day. All days off are cancelled around then. And the Civil Disturbance Unit will be on standby. It's a Saturday that all of this is happening. So, most member will not be in Washington or at the Capitol.

The Chief of Capitol Police did issue a statement saying they are closely monitoring plans for this protest. Now this is all a protest that aims to support those rioters who were charged for taking part in the attack on the Capitol January 6th. Braynard's group calling them political prisoners.

The former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, though, he says that law enforcement should be watching this as it unfolds and as we get closer to September 18th. Here's what he said:


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: I think they should take it very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort intelligence that they likely saw on January 5th.

I think there's a few factors that maybe are leaning in their favor this time if you think about it, January 6th was a failure primarily because you had massive group of people and a complete failure of preparation. In this case, it looks likely that they will get a somewhat smaller crowd with, you know, things like the Proud Boys telling some of their members not to come. You don't have a sitting president actively fanning the flames.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And at this point, law enforcement sources have told our team that are serious talks about rebuilding that perimeter fencing that was up around the Capitol for months after January 6th. But Alisyn, all of that would have to be approved by the Capitol Police Board. So that is still also very much in flux, unclear if that fencing will in fact go back up before next Saturday -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Jessica Schneider, thank you.

And we are just one week away from that California recall election. What Governor Gavin Newsom is doing to hold onto his power.



CAMEROTA: California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is scrambling to get out the vote ahead of the state's recall election just one week away. But Newsom faces a key challenge from right-wing candidate Larry Elder.

CNN national political reporter Dan Merica is tracking the race. So, Dan, any way to tell which way this race is leaning?

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: You know right now, it's the turnout race. You know, California is a two-to-one state. It's a blue bastion Governor Newsom has won before. So really this is all going to be decided by who actually comes out to the polls.

Now what we don't know who people are voting for, we do have the return ballots' data. Now this tracked by a leaning Democratic firm that has done work for Democratic campaigns in the past. But what they have found is that Democrats are performing pretty well in the state in terms of returned ballots. 53 percent of all ballots returned have come from Democrats. 24 percent from Republicans and 22 percent from independents.

[15:50:00] That's about 6 million ballots returned and that's as of Saturday. We expect to get more updated data soon hopefully on how many other ballots have been returned over the weekend.

And a big part of this race is how both sides are nationalizing it. Newsom has had a number of top surrogates come out. National candidates make their way out here. Tomorrow he will campaign with Vice President Kamala Harris.

But as well, Larry Elder has also nationalized this race talking about the national implication of electing him. Here's what he had to say in response to questions today about whether he would nominate a Republican Senator if something were to happen if Dianne Feinstein were to resign. Take a listen.


LARRY ELDER, (R) CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm here to talk about why Californians, almost 2 million of them signed a petition to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.

This is not about Washington, D.C., it's about California. It's about California losing businesses. It's about California losing jobs. It's about California paying people not to work. It's about crime.


MERICA (on camera): Now Alisyn, that nationalization is going to continue whether Elder likes it or not. President Biden is expected to come out to California sometime next week, the White House said today. So that will be a big event. And that will really highlight the push to get Democrats out to the polls here in California. And for Newsom's sake, avoid this recall.

CAMEROTA: Yes, things seem to be really heating up there. Dan Merica, thank you very much.

Let's get a closer look at what these numbers mean. John Myers is the Sacramento Bureau Chief for the "Los Angeles Times." John, great to see you. Let's just talk about those numbers that Dan just brought us. So, these are the ballots returned as of Saturday. 53 percent of them were from Democrats, 24 percent of them were from Republicans, 22 percent from independents.

Obviously, we don't know how any of them voted, but does that suggest to you, having been around this for a long time, that the tide is turning in Newsom's favor?

JOHN MYERS, SACRAMENTO BUREAU CHIEF, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think it definitely suggests that Newsom has done what he needs to do, which is to motivate his base, motivate Democrats in the state. I mean that's an oversampling of Democrats. That's more Democrats by percentage than the registered electorate is. And that does show that motivation.

I mean the governor all along has painted a very apocalyptic kind of tone about this recall election. If I get recalled, everything bad in the Republican playbook happens in California. That seems to be a motivating factor for these Democrats right now.

And I should point out there is cap, right, I mean Republicans are outnumbered two to one in this state. So, you get a lot of motivated Democrats and it would be game over.

CAMEROTA: Here's where the polling was, but this was I think more a week ago, this is from the Public Policy Institute of California. And it's just interesting to look at what it was then. Larry Elder had 26 percent. And then Caitlyn Jenner, obviously, another very famous name in this was down at 1 percent. And she was interviewed on "New Day" today and talked about basically how she doesn't really believe these poll numbers. Here she is.


CAITLYN JENNER (R) CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We work very hard. First of all, the polls have been all over the place. I mean, a couple of weeks ago they had me in second. And then you're all the way to the back and all over. So, honestly, I feel like I'm in a good position. I'm going to work hard. My campaign has all but centered around the people. I have traveled all over this state. And to deal with all the issues.


CAMEROTA: Is she right that they are in a good position and that the polls have been all over the place?

MYERS: I think that's optimistic. You know, most of the reliable polling -- and we've done polling also, the "L.A. Times" polled in conjunction with the University of California Berkeley -- has shown Caitlyn Jenner in low single digits in this race.

You know, the bottom line is that we all saw California recall election 18 years ago where Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected. The difference was that Arnold Schwarzenegger was running pretty much what I call a general election campaign, trying to appeal to Democrats and Republicans and independents.

This is a primary campaign. This is running to your base. And Jenner has a lot of competition on the base side. Larry Elder this talk show host has captured the imagination of Republicans.

And, again, in a base election in California at this point the Democrats can easily win. And that's kind of what we think the trend of this race is right now.

CAMEROTA: And as you point out, Larry Elder has gotten so much attention. And I just wonder if you think if Governor Newsom hangs on in some ways does he have Larry Elder to thank? Did Larry Elder end up energizing Democrats, in a way?

MYERS: I think the answer has to be yes. I mean there are a lot of Democrats in the state right now who will wonder whether Larry Elder is on the anti-recall payroll. And, I mean, it's a joke, right. But this idea that you really have motivated Republicans when you talk about, even when you talk about abortion access, you talk about women's rights, you talk about the workplace and fairness in the workplace. All of these issues have come out and Larry Elder has talked about in the past on his talk show and do seem to have motivated Democrats.


And so, at the end of the day I do think we're going to see, you know, the base come out here, and it's all about the base turnout. And as your reporter said as well, the ballots right now that we've seen, all the ones that have been mailed out, are coming back more strongly Democratic than anything.

CAMEROTA: John Myers, thank you very much for all of the analysis.

MYERS: Sure.

CAMEROTA: And thank you all for joining me today. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after a quick break.