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CNN This Morning

Three Key Senate Races Still Too Close to Call; McCarthy Running into Trouble with Securing Speakership; Election Denier Dashboard: How 2020 Deniers Did in 2022 Races; Growing Calls in GOP to Move on from Trump; Florida Coping with Hurricane Nicole. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired November 10, 2022 - 06:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The drums being "dum-dum," that means it's show time for us. It's go time for you guys at home. Good morning, everyone.


Good morning, Poppy.


LEMON: How are you doing?

HARLOW: I'm great. How are you guys?

LEMON: Good morning, Kaitlan. How are you doing?


LEMON: I'm like dad here. Good morning, kids. Time to get up.

It's time to get up. It's Thursday, November 10.

Listen, thought there might be some clarity. Well, I don't know if you're going to like this news. There's still no clarity. The balance of power in the House and the Senate remains undecided at this hour. This morning, some critical races to tell you about.

Though still too close to call, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has officially announced his intention to run for speaker of the House, but the expected thin margins Republicans may have is complicating that whole thing.

HARLOW: Also, you won't want to miss this. Our very own Christiane Amanpour sits down one-on-one with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy and the first lady to discuss what U.S. support for Ukraine looks like after all the midterm votes are counted.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We would really like to have this bipartisan support remain after the elections, because, yes, there have been these mixed messages that were in the U.S. mass media, particularly from the Republican side.


COLLINS: Well, we start this morning with the waiting game. You have to be patient when it goes maybe, potentially, into the weekend to figure out who controls Congress.

Nobody is watching this more than members of Congress right now. We still have three key Senate races undecided as you are waking up this morning: Arizona, Nevada, Georgia. We know Georgia is headed to a December runoff, so you've got some time to watch that one.

But control of the Senate may not be determined for a month, John Berman. And we are going to wait -- we had to wait until January the last time there was a runoff. Now it's December.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe or maybe not. If Democrats carry both of these remaining races, the runoffs won't matter, in terms of control. If Republicans carry both of these, it won't matter in terms of control.

And I would dispute that no one's watching this more closely than members of Congress. Because I barely slept last night, and I know John King didn't either.

COLLINS: John King, John --

BERMAN: Let me show you what happened.

COLLINS: -- Berman.

BERMAN: Let me show you what happened last night, because things changed. If you deigned to sleep last night, it looks different this morning.

There were -- there were more votes counted, largely in Clark County and Washoe County, which you can see here tilt a little bit Democratic, which cut into Adam Laxalt's lead here.

Let me show you over time what took place here. Rewind here.

Go back to 7 p.m. last night. You can see Adam Laxalt's lead was 22,000 votes. At 9 p.m., Clark County here, the largest county in the state, with Las Vegas, reported some new counting. It cut Laxalt's lead to about 17,000.

But wait! At 12:05 a.m., which wasn't that long ago, Lyon County, which is right here, heavily Republican, reported new votes. Laxalt's lead grows.

But at 12:30 a.m., Washoe County reports new votes. The lead goes all the way down to 15,000. And in Washoe County, he went from leading by four points to actually trailing there.

COLLINS: All within 25 minutes.

BERMAN: All within 25 minutes. This is getting very, very much closer.

And let me just tell you about Nevada right now. There are 110,000 votes left. OK? They are largely mail ballots from Clark County and Washoe County, which favors, it tends to favor the Democrats.

If Catherine Cortez Masto wins 60 percent of that -- OK, if of 110,000, she should net 22,000 votes. Net. That would be enough to put her into the lead.

Now, we don't know it will go this way. There may be some more mail votes coming in that could change this, but you can see which way this could go this week.

COLLINS: And the trend seems to be that the rural votes were breaking in his favor, those mail-in ballots. And now, though, it seems to be the urban votes that seem, based on the numbers so far that we've been getting in, have been breaking in the favor of this very endangered incumbent Democrat.

BERMAN: The urban mail vote, which is Clark County, Las Vegas, and Reno, has been going toward Catherine Cortez Masto. I can actually give you the percents [SIC].

In Washoe County, she had 61 percent of the vote, which remember, I told you 60 percent was the target there. That's over that margin. So -- And in Clark County, down here, it was even higher. Excuse me, Peter Brady. It was 65 percent of the vote. So much higher than the 60 percent threshold she needs.

So that's what's happening in these counties. I will tell you, while we're talking about the Senate, because also, it very much matters what happens in Arizona, as well.

It's a little bit of a different story in Arizona --


BERMAN: -- where there's more than 500,000 votes remaining from across the state. His lead did change overnight. And I can take you back there, too.

You can see that his lead was 83,000 at 7 p.m. At 9 p.m., it had grown to 95,000. Still 95,000 at 12:05 a.m. And that's other things there. This goes back to Arizona right here. But you can see that lead changing --

COLLINS: And here's also the number that matters, 76,000.

BERMAN: Yes. And there's 500,000.

COLLINS: Seventy-six percent. Excuse me.

BERMAN: Seventy-six percent reporting. There's some 500,000 votes remaining here. So there is room for Blake Masters to make up this margin. I, next hour, will give you a sense of he percentage he needs to hit in order to do that. COLLINS: Before we go, can you explain, if you're waking up, you've

been waking up every day to check these numbers, if someone's watching at home, what's the timing here? When will we know? How long is it going to take?

BERMAN: OK. So in Nevada, the -- any ballots received by mail postmarked by election day will be counted by Saturday. And so we should have a better sense by Saturday, and they will be counted day by day.


BERMAN: So Saturday is the target for Nevada.

Arizona, you know, get ready to wait at this point. We just don't know. It takes them a long time. They're going to count, you know, 60,000 votes here and 80,000 votes there. Two years ago in the presidential election, it took deep into the next week before that race was projected.


COLLINS: I remember it well. Pack a lunch is what you're telling us.

BERMAN: Yes. And breakfast. And dinner, times six.

COLLINS: OK, good. All right. John Berman, thank you.

LEMON: John, it's like watching your favorite team when I watch. You try to get into the end zone. You're like, Oh, my gosh!

BERMAN: The Red Sox? Oh, no, the Patriots.

COLLINS: The Patriots. That's been a struggle for them, so -- but I won't comment on that.

LEMON: Thanks, guys.

COLLINS: Alabama.

BERMAN: Who won the Alabama game?

LEMON: Wow, John. Wow.

HARLOW: We'll just sulk in a corner. .

BERMAN: You're wearing LSU colors.

COLLINS: No, I'm not.

LEMON: OK, John. Good == good morning.

So this morning sources say that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is looking to lock down the votes to be -- elected the next speaker of the House, as the party looks to be on track to take the majority. But a group of hard-right members may try to complicate his bid.

We want to go now to CNN's Melanie Zanona, live on Capitol Hill for CNN this morning.

Good morning to you. So look, we know, you know, anyone who has a chance, any time we go through something like this, a person tries to secure his or her way to becoming speaker; but there is one group of his own party who might throw a monkey wrench in it.

Good morning, Melanie.


I mean, yes, right now it's all hands on deck for Kevin McCarthy. He's been scrambling to lock down the speakership, a speakership that once looked like a sure thing. Now, suddenly on the rocks after a disappointing night on Tuesday.

But I'm told that McCarthy has been calling up members, asking for their support, arguing that he is about to deliver them the majority, also hearing out some of their demands and their concerns, although not making promises just yet.

He also tapped a team of allies to help make some of these calls. And we did spot Marjorie Taylor Greene, a potential critic, a member of the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus, going in and out of his office yesterday.

She declined to say whether she's going to support him for speaker. But sources tell me that there are around two dozen members of the Freedom Caucus who are threatening to vote against McCarthy. The bottom line is they see that they have leverage with a smaller majority, and they're planning to use it.

LEMON: Yes. The question is, what do they want?

ZANONA: Well, there's a bunch of things that they want. The top of their list, they want to make it easier for a lawmaker to call a floor vote on ousting a sitting speaker. That is something McCarthy is very adamantly against. It was used over the head of former speaker, John Boehner, who eventually resigned.

But there are another -- a number of other demands that they're looking for. They want more representation on the Steering Committee, which doles out the committee assignments. They want more time to review non-controversial bills before they come to the floor.

And look, as speaker, McCarthy has a whole number of perks at his disposal. As one Republican told me, he has a lot of chips to cash in. But he might need to cash in every single one of them.

So McCarthy and his allies are confident at this point that he will be able to get the votes, but it's going to be a messy process between now and January when that floor vote comes up for speaker.

LEMON: And we'll be watching, covering all of it. Thank you, Melanie. HARLOW: All right. Hundreds of Republicans running for office this

year have echoed President Trump's lies that the 2020 election was rigged. Some of them have even taken action to try to overturn the results.

Let's talk about all of this and how those candidates fared on election day. CNN senior political analyst John Avlon is here.

John, good morning. Democracy won, but I was talking about Tom Friedman's op-ed earlier today. If you ask him, we're not out of the woods yet. What do you think?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we're definitely not out of the woods yet, but it's important to get a sense of the election denier score card to date. Because it tells us a lot about what happened this election and what future brush back we might see.

Take a look at the top of the ticket, right, in terms of governor. Now, there are seven who won. Seven election deniers won. But these are predominantly incumbents in deep-red states. Now if you want to add Florida to that category.

And this was sort of pro forma. The one new governor in this category is Sarah Huckabee Sanders from Arkansas.

The key thing is the 12 folks who lost, because these were people who were running for the office now, largely on the back of being an election denier, including in some critical states like Pennsylvania, which typically acts to swing presidential elections, and where the governor appoints the secretary of state.

So this is kind of decisive loss for 12 election deniers for governor is really significant. It shows the gravity of the rejection of this wing of the party.

That said, there are three governors out to date, Arizona and Nevada among them. That's one of the many reasons why it's so critical to get answers about what happens in those states. Because if election deniers are in that pole position for governor, that could have real implications next presidential election.

HARLOW: Especially if they're coupled in a state with an election denier who wins secretary of state. This is -- I mean, when have we ever talked broadly on national television about secretary of state races before this cycle? And this is --

AVLON: Never.

HARLOW: This is so critical.

AVLON: It is. And look, I mean, hiring an election denier or electing an election denier to -- who doesn't believe in overseeing elections, I mean, it's like hiring an arsonist to be your fire commissioner. It makes no practical sense.

Here's the tale of the tape to date. Six folks have lost, including people who were running in Michigan and Minnesota, where they could have done real damage.

Four election deniers have won, but again, in these sort of deep-red states that are unlikely to go Democrat in a presidential election. And so you've got that catch-22 with election deniers: They'll approve the elections that they win.


And then two not yet projected, particularly, again, Nevada, Arizona. One more reason why it's so critical to get answers and all the votes counted in these states. Huge implications.

HARLOW: For sure. John Avlon, thank you, friend. See you soon.

LEMON: That's a very smart point. When have we talked about secretaries of state?

HARLOW: Now. Now.

LEMON: I know. Now.

HARLOW: You're so right.

LEMON: That's the environment we're in.

So this is what Donald Trump is waking up to today. It is the second straight day that Rupert Murdoch's "New York Post" has taken aim at him. Trump says that he is not to blame for the midterm performance, but some high-profile Republicans, they simply don't see it that way.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR/FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Almost every one of these Trump-endorsed candidates that you see in competitive states has -- have lost. And it's -- it's a huge loss for -- for Trump.

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): I think it sends a message to the country, along with some other states, that this is truly a pivot point for the Republican Party. This is a time that Donald Trump is, no doubt, in the rearview mirror, and it's time to move on with the party. It's time to move on with candidate quality.

JOHN KASICH (R), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR/FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's an opportunity to reassess what Trump's role is inside the Republican Party and are people willing to stand up rather than caving in on him.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): The question is, does the rest of the Republicans have the courage to stand up to Trump, or do they once again acquiesce to him. Because we all know him. He's not going to take the blame for this, at least in his own mind. This is certainly a rejection of the MAGA base.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Governor DeSantis did it incredibly well in Florida. He just knocked the cover off the ball there. And I think that people are now saying, OK, we're moving forward. And if you just look at the Trump versus DeSantis stuff today, it's a heck of a lot different than it was just three months ago and definitely a year ago.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE/FOX NEWS POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think Governor DeSantis is the biggest single winner of the night, and he will almost certainly become the rallying point for everybody in the Republican Party who wants to move beyond President Trump.


LEMON: Let's discuss now. CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent at "The New York Times," Maggie Haberman is here. She's also the author of the book "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America."

Good morning. I don't even have to say anything to you. Just did you see what happened?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I did. What I'm most struck by in that montage that we just saw is Newt Gingrich and the lieutenant governor of Georgia.


HABERMAN: Because Newt Gingrich is somebody who has been incredibly close to Donald Trump, has been talking up his strength forever. A lieutenant governor of Georgia is not a voice that we hear from repeatedly. The others are generally people who have been pretty critical of Trump.

We are at a real inflection point. Clearly, the elites in the party are done with Trump. We have to look at this to know just where the elites in the GOP are.

That doesn't necessarily mean it translates to the base. And so I think we are going to see -- I think Trump is at his most vulnerable than he has been since January 6th. But whether somebody moves forward against him, we'll see.

HARLOW: What -- What -- When will we know and how? Right? I'm not saying what month, but what indicates to you that we will know if this time is different?

HABERMAN: Well, among other things, these races that are not settled yet have to get settled. So if Kari Lake wins for governor in Arizona, if Laxalt wins in Nevada, if Blake Masters somehow pulls it out, although at the moment, that looks harder to see, whatever happens in the Senate race in Alaska, because that was a key target of his because of impeachment, that will be telling.

If his candidates pull it out, then it's going to be that he had a rough night in Pennsylvania and a few other specific spots.

If not, then you are looking -- and look, a lot of these candidates had tougher races than they should have, given everything. We will know in the next few months if, among other things, DOJ moves forward against him. Does Ron DeSantis start making more moves than he's been doing?

And DeSantis is really the one to watch, as we just heard. Trump is never going to acknowledge that something is wrong. And folks around him spent all day yesterday insisting nothing bad really happened.

Something bad happened. We're just not sure what it means.

COLLINS: What's he saying yesterday behind the scenes? Because I know he's tweeting or he's posting --


COLLINS: -- on his website about he personally believes he was successful but Republicans themselves were not on Tuesday night.

HABERMAN: Right. It was -- for some people it was disappointing, but I did well was essentially his tweet. And that's also not true. Like, he did well in some places.

Privately, according to multiple people I talked to, he was very angry. The focal point of his anger was the Oz race in particular, because that was not a natural fit for him, and he was convinced to do it. And of course, he never takes responsibility for any of his own decisions. It's always that somebody -- some staffer tricked him.

And I think, Kaitlan, to your question, this is something that I heard a lot of complaining about from people around him yesterday. You know, his -- his aides who are in his world, paid aides, are all insisting nothing is wrong, status quo. Everything goes forward.

Other people are saying, how many years are we going to spend blaming it on staff? And so -- and I think you're going to hear more of that as we go forward.

COLLINS: One big question is, does it delay his announcement? I know there have been some people even on the record -- Kayleigh McEnany, Jason Miller -- saying he should wait, not do it, but wait until after December 6th, which is when that Georgia runoff is.


HABERMAN: They all in his world think that he should do that. Now, how forcefully they make that case to him, versus say it to each other, is always the open question. But that is -- that is the key date to watch for next week.

He, I think, does not want to -- a bunch of people close to him also are worried it will show some sign of weakness. But he's going to get blamed if he continues to go ahead and Walker loses.

HARLOW: What do you make of Mike Pence with this op-ed today? His book comes out Tuesday, same day Trump's going to make this big announcement from Mar-a-Lago. What do you make of him -- I mean, as Don has been pointing out, he's

selling a book. He could have said all this stuff to the public, put it on the record in the days following January 6th, and he didn't.

HABERMAN: Or to the House Select Committee.

HARLOW: Yes. There you go.

HABERMAN: There's an alternate universe where this is his House Select Committee testimony.

But that said, I think it's an important part of the historical record. I think that he and his folks have voiced issues with the select committee, that -- that they considered to be on the process and how things were conducted.

It's pretty striking, Poppy, hearing Pence talking about this in his own words. I mean, he is talking about -- he confirms much of the reporting that's been out there already.

So yes, there are people who are going to read this and say, Well, we knew this, except we didn't know it in first person from Mike Pence.

He explains why he didn't want to leave the building, and it's not because he thought that he was going to be, essentially, kidnapped by the Secret Service as part of a plot. It's that he didn't want the image of his caravan fleeing the area -- his motorcade fleeing the Capitol.

He confirms conversations that he had with Trump. He describes this lengthy pressure campaign. And then a really interesting moment: after January 6th, in his first conversation with Trump -- I think it's five days later -- orchestrated by Trump's son-in-law and daughter, Trump has a moment where he says, what if -- basically, what if that rally didn't happen. It's too terrible to end this way.

That's the only time I have heard of any real reflection from Trump, and it was that scenario.

LEMON: It's interesting that you read it that way with the whole motorcade leaving the Capitol. Because I -- you know, for me, I thought, well, was this about optics for Mike Pence? because he could have left the Capitol and still, with his dignity, and still did what he had to do, what his -- his constitutional -- his oath to the Constitution.

But he could have also stood up faster and stronger to the former president. And it may not have gotten that far. He said, you know, I had compassion for the people. When I drove up and I saw, you know, the people at the rally, as I was on my way to the Capitol, I had compassion for them.

Perhaps if he had been more honest with the former president and with those people, then it would not have gotten to that moment.

I don't. So I read him staying there as, you know, not the way that you have.

I feel that this is reputation rehab for Mike Pence. This book. And I don't ascribe to the belief that Mike Pence is a hero because he did his job. We have to have higher standards than that, especially for elected officials, especially if you are the person who is second in power.

You have to be able to stand up to the boss when you know that you're on the right side of history, the law is with you, and it's your oath.

HABERMAN: So Don, I think there are a lot of people who feel the way you do. We've heard that criticism, not just about Pence but a number of former Trump aides.

The way that I have come to look at it, looking at everything that happened and just given the intensity of everything that was happening during that three-month period of time, people in the administration, those of us covering it, it's sort of shocking to look back and look at how much was taking place.

I am not sure -- I mean, Pence is in a different position, so I agree with you that I think if he had said something publicly, it might have been different.

I actually am no longer convinced how much that any one person could have done. Bill Barr did come out in December and say there was no widespread voter fraud. And Trump just rolled right over that and looked to find other people who were going to do the job.

In Pence's case, if Pence said I'm not going to do this, then they would have just proceeded without him.

I wonder a lot about what would have happened at the end of the final two weeks, had the riot had not happened? Would Trump have walked out of that door willingly?

So there are so many unknowns. I hear what you're saying, and I think that there are people, as I said, who do feel that way. I just don't know that I think that one person saying this is going to matter.

LEMON: I agree with you. If you look at -- and again, he says in his book, and in this -- you know, the clip -- this op-ed or whatever is basically --

HABERMAN: It's an excerpt.

LEMON: It's an excerpt from him, from his book.

HABERMAN: That's right.

LEMON: But when you -- when you look at what he says, when he says, you know, I wanted to give people the opportunity to discuss legal challenges, there were no legitimate -- or legitimate challenges to the vote. There were no legitimate challenges.

HABERMAN: And what -- and what -- Right. LEMON: He should have -- So that's where people believe that he should

have just cut it off there, instead of giving oxygen to the election deniers in office. That's all I'm saying.

HABERMAN: And I think it's a very valid argument, but I also understand, you know, where he is coming from in terms of --

LEMON: I get it.

HABERMAN: -- how -- you can make the broad argument that this is what happens when you agree to sign up for working for Trump, right? And I think that's sort of part of the problem. But also, personally, as a journalist, I am interested in what the former vice president has to say.


LEMON: Yes. Very fair. Thank you, Maggie, appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thanks, Maggie.

With control of Congress still up for grabs, what President Biden is now saying about the possibility of working with the Republican Party.

COLLINS: Hurricane Nicole making landfall in Florida overnight. It has now weakened to a tropical storm, though. We'll -- we are live along Florida's east coast. We've got a look at the conditions for you this morning and what you need to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, each one is a dry run for the next one, because you never know what's going to happen and you never know how severe it's actually going to be.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Especially is you still have water in your house, what a month and a half after Hurricane Ian, so tonight think about those folks. If they're back in their home, they've got to be looking at this.



HARLOW: Yes. Indeed. Think about all of them.

Strong winds and surging waves along Florida's east coast as Hurricane Nicole made landfall last night. The system has now weakened a bit to a tropical storm.

Let's go to CNN's Leyla Santiago. She joins us from Satellite Beach, Florida for CNN this morning.

Good morning, Leyla. So weakened, but still, what was it like for folks overnight?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wind, wind, and more ferocious wind overnight and we're still continuing to feel that right now here on Satellite Beach, just about 50 miles north of where this made landfall down in Vero Beach.

So lets walk around, Poppy. Let me show you what we're dealing with here.

I mean, just take a look at the wind up at the trees. That sort of makes the point as to how strong these wind gusts are that are coming down.

In fact, this road right behind here is closed off, because police tell me they have hot wires down there, given power lines that are down.

Now, let's go to the other side, where I can show you also just on the ground some of the sea foam that was coming in earlier when we were here.

And then, of course, there's that. There is the Atlantic Ocean that has just been aggressive all night long. Those waves just pounding this area.

And -- and you know, today will be much about damage assessment. Much about figuring out exactly what went wrong overnight and how this area moves forward.

Because, Poppy, you know this. I constantly talk about timing when we're out here at these storms. Six weeks ago, Hurricane Ian really pounded this area, as well.

So folks who are waking up as the sun comes up right now, they could very well be waking up to a very different coastline that was already vulnerable because of Ian, and now enter Nicole.

HARLOW: Yes. No question. That's what that reporter was saying, too, at the top. It's been a month and a half.

You, Leyla, have been talking to emergency management officials overnight. I mean, the wind is just so obvious there. What are they most worried about now going forward until this fully passes?

SANTIAGO: So interestingly enough, as I checked in overnight and just in the last half hour, there are three things coming up. One is high tide. That is coming up in just a matter of hours, so they're worried about that, given the water that they're expecting. The flooding that could come up.

And then the one that has come up over and over and over again is beach erosion. What we were just talking about. You're going to probably wake up to a very different coastline here. I mean, just north of us, in Volusia County, they had structures that were teetering right there on the edge because of coastal erosion. They've deemed dozens of buildings unsafe, directly correlating it to coastal erosion -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Leyla, we appreciate you, your whole team, the camera folks we can't see, for being there through all this. Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, our coverage of the midterm elections is going to continue. We'll talk to you about how President Biden is reacting to the wins, the unexpected wins that Democrats had. We'll also tell you where the closest races stand at this hour.

LEMON: And we have to talk about this. Facebook's parent company, Meta, is now the latest tech giant to slash its workforce, coming right after Twitter, right? What is driving this trend? What's going on here?