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CNN This Morning

Hobbs Defeats Election Denier Kari Lake in AZ Governor's Race; McConnell, Rick Scott Feud Erupts Over GOP Not Winning Senate; Pence: Republicans Will Have Better Choice than Trump in 2024; Josh Hawley: Republican Party is Dead after Midterms; Russia Delayed Kherson Exit Until After Midterms. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 06:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Man, that music comes at you fast.



LEMON: For us, that's our wake-up call. That's our alarm clock. Da-da, da-da.

HARLOW: Just like the music.

LEMON: Yes. Who sings that song, the music? Don, let the music do it.

Good morning, everyone. It is Tuesday, November 15. I have to look on the floor just to make sure I know what day it is.

Guess what? There is a loser in Arizona, and there's a winner. CNN has projected that Democrat Katie Hobbs narrowly defeated Trump-backed election leader (ph) Kari Lake in the high-stakes governor's race. This is a major win for Democrats.

Plus --


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think that this election was the funeral for the Republican Party as we know it. The Republican Party as we have known it is dead.


HARLOW: A Republican civil war breaking out on Capitol Hill after all those midterm losses. Why Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are both facing heightened criticism today.

COLLINS: In prayerful consideration. Former Vice President Mike Pence making clear that he is considering running in 2024 and making his most scathing comments yet about former President Trump's actions on January 6th, all as Trump himself is preparing to announce his third presidential run tonight.

LEMON: But we're going to begin in Arizona. The winner in Arizona. CNN is projecting that Democrat Katie Hobbs has defeated Republican Kari Lake in the governor's race.

Lake has been one of the country's most prominent and outspoken defenders of Trump's lies about the 2020 election. Lake will join a growing list of Republicans this election season who campaigned on election lies, and they lost.

That includes two other high-profile election deniers in the same state: Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters and the secretary of state nominee, Mark Finchem.

Now, Hobbs characterized her victory as a win for democracy. Lake, on the other hand, is already starting the grift. This is a quote from her: "Arizonans know B.S. when they see it."

Well, that is apparently true, since voters rejected her and so many other liars. Obviously, her tweet is the B.S. here. There is no evidence of fraud. There's no evidence of wrongdoing. It is a grift that so many Americans rejected at the ballot this year.

Republican Liz Cheney taking credit for -- after the projection there, telling Kari Lake, "You're welcome," after Lake sarcastically thanked Cheney for urging people to back Lake's Democratic opponent.

Meantime, an Arizona Republican strategist releasing a statement after Kari Lake called John McCain a loser and, I quote, "Kari Lake told a legion of John McCain supporters across Arizona that they could go to hell. Well, tonight, they returned the favor."

Hobbs is now set to become the fifth female governor in Arizona's history.

HARLOW: Well, this morning control of the House still undecided, but Republicans still plan to hold their internal leadership elections to pick a speaker nominee. That will happen today.

Kevin McCarthy has officially declared his bid for the speakership, but he is already running into pretty stiff headwinds, and a Republican civil war clearly breaking out in the Senate between leader Mitch McConnell and Florida's Senator Rick Scott.

Jessica Dean joins us live from Capitol Hill for CNN this morning.

Good morning, Jess. What do you got?


So let's start in the House first, because that's where the election will be held today, the vote will be held today. You have current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy running to be leader and speaker, should Republicans take the House.

This is not the situation he thought he would find himself in right now. By now, they thought, they thought they would have this huge majority in the House, that control would have been declared. None of that has happened yet.

So it's certainly a different situation than he thought he would find himself in on this day. We know he held a closed-door meeting yesterday with House Republicans, really trying to bolster support.

What we need to keep in mind is, for this vote, you only need a simple majority. He doesn't have to get to that 218 number today. That's for in January when they reconvene and formally would elect a speaker. So he just has to get that simple majority.

He's faced, though, stiff headwinds, though, Poppy, especially from the House Freedom Caucus. And we know that Andy Biggs from Arizona is mounting this kind of longshot challenge to him.

But it's -- it's not uncommon for someone to run and not -- and fall short of the 218. We know this happened with Nancy Pelosi in 2018. She went on to be speaker. Paul Ryan back in 2015, he went on to be speaker.

So he is expected to fall short of that 218, but again, he needs to get the simple majority.

HARLOW: So let's talk about Rick Scott, and Mitch McConnell, and the Senate, and minority leadership, and what that will look like. I mean, the two obviously disagreed a lot, even publicly, when it came to sort of how to fund their candidates in this election cycle.

But can you talk about how, you know -- is it a chance that Rick Scott could -- could challenge him for that, take that?


DEAN: I think again, like, at this moment in time today, again, a longshot chance. Rick Scott has been not -- he hasn't committed to that. And we'll listen for -- we'll listen to him talk about that in just a second.

But we did see Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the hallways, and he doesn't often say anything in the hallways. Other senators will talk a lot. He's usually very quiet.

And he was asked about, did he have the votes? And he said, of course. So again, for him to say that in the hallway, it's very intentional. For him to say that in front of reporters in the hallway, very intentional.

But here's what Rick Scott was saying. Listen to this.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): What is our plan? Why -- what are we running on? What do we stand for? What are we hellbent to get done?

We -- you know, there's no plan to do that. The leadership in the Republican Senate says, No, you cannot have a plan. We're just going to run against how bad the Democrats are, and actually, then they cave into the Democrats.

So -- and then now, they want to rush through an election. A lot of people, you know, have called me to see if I'll run. Here's my focus is -- we've still got to win Georgia. I'm not going to take anything off the table.


DEAN: And Poppy, there have been calls to delay that Senate leadership election, as well, as Scott just mentioned there. But at this point, again, scheduled for Wednesday.

The bottom line is, Republicans just aren't where they thought they were going to be.

HARLOW: Right.

DEAN: And when that happens, there's a lot of blame to go around, and everyone wants to blame everybody else.

HARLOW: Like this. Right? Jessica Dean, thank you.

DEAN: Yes.

COLLINS: All right. Former Vice President Mike Pence is delivering his strongest criticism yet of his former boss while also talking about his own actions during their four years together in office.

Pence also asked to plan -- if he plans to run in 2024. He also weighed in on what a third Trump presidential run could look like.


DAVID MUIR, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Do you believe that Donald Trump should ever be president again?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: David, I think that's up to the American people. But I think we'll have better choices in the future.


COLLINS: One of those choices could be Pence himself. Kristen Holmes is live in West Palm Beach, Florida, for CNN this morning. That's where Trump is expected to make an announcement tonight.

But first, Kristen, on this interview by Pence, what are the highlights and what stood out to you?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this really was, as you said, the furthest we've ever seen Pence go. Before this, all we had heard from the former vice president was that

former President Trump was wrong in what he believed Pence could do on January 6th.

But he went into so much detail in this interview. Pence even condemned that tweet that the former president sent that said that Mike Pence doesn't have the courage that needs to be done. The tweet that was sent in the middle of all of the violence on Capitol Hill as it was unfolding, as advisers around Trump have said they believed it added fuel to the already volatile situation.

Pence saying that he believed that that tweet and that Trump had endangered him and his family.

but, Kaitlan, it's not that surprising that we'd start to see the former vice president really ramp up this rhetoric, particularly as it seems as though he and the former president are on a collision course in 2024.

I want you to take a listen here to what Pence said when he was asked about whether or not he'd run for president.


MUIR: Will you run for president in 2024?

PENCE: Well, we're giving it consideration in our house. Prayerful consideration.

MUIR: Do you believe you can beat Donald Trump?

PENCE: Well, that would be for others to say, and it would be for us to decide whether or not we'd want to test that.


HOLMES: Now, one thing to remember here, is that, if Pence does decide to run in 2024, he is going to have to thread a needle very carefully. Because all of the advisers I've talked to, who are around Pence, say he wants to be the Trump policies without the baggage. So he wants to get those Trump voters and not go too far against the former president, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. It stood out to me in that interview how he was trying to kind of justify some of the people who were there on January 6th, talking about how they were misled about what was going to happen that day.

Kristen Holmes, we know you're in Palm Beach. There's going to be a lot of movement there later. We'll check in with you. Thanks so much.

And also, be sure to join Jake Tapper. He is going to have a live CNN town hall with the former vice president. That will be tomorrow night at 9 Eastern, only here on CNN.

LEMON: Let's talk about all this. And the Republican Party appears to be fractured in both the House and the Senate as the GOP continues to wrestle with what went wrong with the midterms. And Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri went as far as to call the party dead.


HAWLEY: I think that this election was the funeral for the Republican Party as we know it. The Republican Party, as we have known it, is dead, and voters have made that clear.

Listen, I think this is a referendum on -- on the Republican Party as we've known it since the 1990s, and I think it was a pretty resounding verdict. And that's why I say we need to be thinking about what the future here is.

I like a lot of what President Trump did as president. I think we've got a lot to talk about there. But we need to have a conversation about our core convictions as a party.

And clearly, this party is going to have to actually -- is going to have to be different, or we're not going to be a majority party in this country.



LEMON: Took him seven years, at least, to come to that conclusion? Remember, this is the same lawmaker who adamantly led objections to President Biden's election win, who was photographed raising his fist in solidarity with Trump supporters who had not yet swarmed the Capitol on January 6th.

And then, of course, later seen running away from the mob that attacked the Capitol. And then you know -- not going along with certifying the election.

Now it is not clear who Hawley sees as a part of his -- of this dead party. But when asked whether he supports Trump running in 2024, Hawley said, "I'm not going to give him advice. He'll choose to do what he's going to do."

So joining us now, CNN political analyst John Avlon; Republican strategist and former Senate candidate Joseph Pinion.

Hello to you.


LEMON: I mean, you need a shovel? I mean, what -- what -- good morning.

What the hell is he talking about?

AVLON: Yes. That's really not clear. And that's kind of the issue here. Right? I mean, he's -- clearly wants to position himself as some kind of

Lazarus for the resurrection of the Republican Party. But the repudiation the Republican Party got in this midterm election was the Trumpist, election-denial wing that he had championed in the Senate. So what's he talking about? Right?

I mean, it's really just -- does he want everyone to forget that? Does he want to introduce some kind of new tradition? That's been his mode.

But the Trumpist wing of the party is the one that got the hard-core brushback pitch. Not -- you know, what he's implying.

LEMON: Yes. So I mean, did it take him, you know, talking crap about John McCain, talking about the former president, you know, what he -- about what he says about women, how he treated women. You know, grab them by the "P"; two impeachments, the insurrection -- it's taken that -- what took him so long?

Like, when I said what the hell is he talking about? What is he talking about?

JOSEPH PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, I don't think he's talking about President Trump, and I think personally, I think I'm inclined to agree with him.

That it is Senate leadership that has turned the Republican Party into a gangrene caucus.

And I think that the reality is that when you look at what happens down in D.C., it seems to appear that winning was not the priority; that there were other priorities separate from making sure that we were taking back the Senate and --

LEMON: Explain to me what you mean by the Senate? What do you mean by the --

PINION: I think the reality, if you look at where the money went. I think for better and for worse, whether you're talking about Nancy Pelosi, whether you're talking about Mitch McConnell, the argument for keeping them around has always been, they bring in the dough.

And it appears that the Republican Party wasted a lot of that dough. So I think that there is an inclination to believe that we can lay all the burdens at the feet of President Trump, and that's a separate conversation. Certainly, they're going to be gathered in Mar-a-Lago, having a conversation about him moving forward.

COLLINS: Well, I --

LEMON: So you're saying this is about money?

PINION: Look, I think -- there's -- there's what voters believe, and then there's the actual business of winning elections. I think that there is -- there is an argument to be made that there are voters who have grown tired of the Trump brand, that brand of politics. But I think if you're talking about an election, where we had a 41-

year high for inflation. If you're talking about an election where we had crime in many places, in many cities that was going rampant, I think there was an opportunity to be more successful than we were, add to the fact --

AVLON: Yes. There was an opportunity, but that opportunity did not materialize. And I don't think money's the issue here. Right? I mean, $17 billion was spent in this election. The issue isn't the money.

PINION: How do you spend -- Again, it's not always how many money you have. It's how do you spend it?

COLLINS: Mitch McConnell said it was also because of the quality of the candidates who were running. And that's why Trump is facing part of this reckoning, is they were Trump-backed candidates who did not perform well in the general election.

PINION: Look, I think that there is an argument you made that some of those candidates may have been undermined by the very Republican Party that took money from the people of the party who believed in President Trump and believed in that message.

So look, I think, again, there is --

AVLON: What do you mean by that?

PINION: I'm trying to --

AVLON: What do you -- I'm just curious. What do you mean by -- put some meat on those bones.

PINION: Some meat on those bones would require the fact that, if you believe what happened in Arizona, that money was pulled out of Arizona in the race --

COLLINS: With Blake Masters.

PINION: -- with Blake Masters. I think that's right. You can look at our own race in New York, where if you go back to two years ago, Democrats spent $75 million in a state of Kentucky, trying to beat Mitch McConnell. They spent over $100 million in South Carolina. Why?

Not because they were necessarily bullets that they were going to win, but because they understand that cash is fungible. And on some basic level, what happened? Out popped two Senate seats in Georgia. Out pops one Senate seat in Arizona.

So we do understand that where you spend the money and how you spend the money certainly has an impact on our politics.

AVLON: I hear you. But the argument you just made is basically, Democrats wasted their money two years ago in Kentucky and South Carolina. And by the way, they did.

PINION: No -- to the -- to the contrary. AVLON: Right? Those races weren't close (ph).

PINION: I'm not saying -- the opposite, to the contrary. In politics, you have four levers. There is you can spend money on your candidate; you can spend money against your candidate. Both parties have those levers.

The fifth option there is to deplete the other side of the resources they need to compete. And so when Democrats were able to do what Republicans still haven't figured out, is that when you go on offensive, in places where the other side does not want to be on defense, you prevent [SIC] opportunities that otherwise might not exist. And so --


HARLOW: Joe, you ran a campaign --


HARLOW: -- to unseat Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader, now once again we had on the program yesterday. He won, and now he may get 51 seats.

PINION: Correct.

HARLOW: What do you think they did wrong?

PINION: Well, look, I think, from our perspective, must be very clear. They -- the New York -- Republican RNC, did not spend any money --


PINION: -- in New York.

HARLOW: We and you talked a lot about New York.

COLLINS: But Republicans did well, and I'm talking about the Senate.

PINION: Look, I think it was --


HARLOW: Let me just finish the --

LEMON: There was a lot of dark money from Republicans that was poured into New York. So I don't think -- yes, there's millions and millions of dollars.



HARLOW: -- off-track. I was asking you about the Senate.

PINION: Right. HARLOW: They not only got the seats in Arizona and Nevada, but they might get the seat -- retain the seat in Georgia. So what do you think Chuck Schumer did wrong on that front?

PINION: Well, look, I don't think Chuck Schumer did anything wrong on that front. To the contrary. He was able to shifts $15 million out of state in those last 30 to 45 days, because he had the latitude to know that the Republicans were not going to force him, to hold his feet to the fire here at home.

So I think, again, it's very easy to sit here and have a conversation about what is the impact of Trump on our politics, certainly. There's ample evidence to be said that there are certain states, where you're talking about Arizona, where you're talking about Georgia, where that brand of politics is not going over well with the electorate. But I think that the --

LEMON: but Joe, to my point, again, where we're talking about Josh Hawley, are you -- are you guys just realizing that?

I think Kaitlan is right on with this. It's the quality of the candidates that do not -- and the quality of the candidates are a direct reflection of the person at the top of the party, the person who's calling the shots, and that's Donald Trump.

So, look. You're talking about money.

HARLOW: Or was.

LEMON: On the org chart, it's Trump -- money -- and then the people who actually vote for Trump. So the money is not the problem.

COLLINS: Also, Trump -- Trump didn't use a lot of this money.

LEMON: The money is -- the Republican Party has plenty of money.

PINION: I -- I --

COLLINS: Trump did not use a lot of his money to support his -- I actually want to talk about the -- and I want to get your perspective and your perspective on the leadership fight that is happening right now.

Because there are efforts to not have Mitch McConnell be the Republican leader in the Senate. Those don't seem successful. He doesn't really have a challenger.

McCarthy is having a much more difficult challenge in front of him inside the House. He's got this tiny majority, and he's got people who are openly running against him, people saying that he does not have the votes to actually be nominated to be the leader in the House today.

AVLON: I think he's got the simple majority group to be nominated for the leader. The problem is does he get 218 in January? And that's looking real unlikely. I was calling Republicans on the Hill, and they're just saying, look,

McCarthy is not a beloved figure. And he's herding a lot of different cats here in this party.

LEMON: You're kidding?

AVLON: I mean, Charlie Sykes at "The Bulwark" had a great line yesterday, where he said, Look, with a narrow, dysfunctional majority, McCarthy is cooked. Because he's either going to get ousted or gelded by the nutcase caucus. That's Charlie Sykes at "The Bulwark" saying that.

And this is the problem. Can anyone hold together this Republican coalition and get 218? It's not going to be Andy Biggs and the Freedom Caucus. I'll tell you that. McCarthy has probably got the best shot.

But this is a caucus that seems to turn on itself. Even Paul Ryan couldn't unite them.

HARLOW: Should McCarthy be House speaker?

PINION: Look, I think the members of the House are going to make that decision. I think, again --

COLLINS: But if you were a member of the House, what would you decide?

PINION: Look --

AVLON: Great question.

PINION: I think that the plan would have to be, how are we going to make sure you're growing that -- what's the plan to grow that caucus, come 2024?

I think that the results were underwhelming, to say the least. But I think, again, if you point to New York, we were able to be successful. But I would lay that success at the feet of the individuals who were able to have one of the most successful court cases to render what was one of the worst cases of gerrymandering we've seen by either party that occurred here in the state of New York, that was remedied in the courts. So I think there is more --

AVLON: By the way, I agree with you. The Democrats got greedy and put forward a crazy map.

HARLOW: And then they didn't fix it when the court let them.

AVLON: And Republicans righteously -- right. Righteously, the Republicans pushed back.

But if that's your position, I mean, do you think Republicans overreached in Ohio, in Florida, in Texas? Because I was hearing Republicans championing the cause of fair redistricting in New York, and I never hear it for the other states.

PINION: Look, I just think we have to say either you're against gerrymandering, or you're not.

AVLON: So you're against it?

PINION: And I think from my perspective, we need to have fair maps across the country.

AVLON: Right. God bless you.

PINION: That helps them make sure that we have a robust democracy that functions.

But I do think again, when you listen to the words coming out of Senator Hawley's mouth, he is not talking about the end of Trumpism. I don't even think he's talking about the candidate quality, even though that is the convenient leg for Mitch McConnell to try to pin his hopes on.

I think, at the end of the day, we have to have a real conversation as a party, which is what I think the senator is talking about. That the people that lead this party have betrayed the people that have entrusted them with their money, have betrayed the people that have put their trust in their hands. That is the --

LEMON: You mean --


PINION: Of course. And I think that that is the -- Let's be very clear. When you have -- when you have a Republican Party that spends millions of dollars saying that Chuck Schumer is destroying America and then doesn't spend a dime to defeat Chuck Schumer, it would appear that they are not actually being genuine in their conversations.

COLLINS: Or they know that Chuck Schumer's going to win re-election.

PINION: Well, I would say this --

AVLON: He was ahead 13 points.

PINION: I'll put it this way.

COLLINS: It was --



PINION: The man -- the man won by a few million votes six years ago. He won by 1.5 million votes before that, and --

AVLON: Right. And the Republicans won the Senate this time of year (ph).

PINION: And I think, again, to my former argument, there is an argument to be made that by not spending money against a man who controls the purse strings. Not just his own campaign cash but also the --

AVLON: I -- I hear you.

PINION: -- there was an opportunity that was lost, that hurt lake Masters in Arizona. There was an opportunity that was lost that hurt those candidates in Colorado, that hurt those candidates in New Hampshire. The fact that we had so much --

LEMON: Joseph, hang on. You're missing the point here. It wasn't --


LEMON: I don't care how much money you put behind those people. Again, what Kaitlan said. It's the candidate quality. Blake Masters --

COLLINS: I'm quoting Mitch McConnell, for the record. This is not my own opinion. I'm quoting --

LEMON: Blake Masters is an election denier.

COLLINS: -- the Senate minority leader.

LEMON: He's -- he lies about what happened in the 2020 election. He is -- he lies about what happened January 6th. And there are other candidates down the line.

I don't care. You can put billions of dollars behind them. The people rejected them. This whole idea about money, I think, is B.S., and it's a deflection.


LEMON: Hang on. And I think Josh Hawley is delusional. And you people are following -- if you continue to follow in the footsteps and the thinking, the logic of Josh Hawley, then the Republican Party -- if that's what you believe he's saying --

PINION: Well --

LEMON: -- then the Republican Party is dead, as he has actually right. It's dead, as I said.

I've got to run.

COLLINS: I think we're going to have to leave it there.

LEMON: Thank you, Joseph. Thank you, John Avlon.


COLLINS: Joseph.

LEMON: Appreciate that.

Straight ahead, a CNN exclusive. Why Russia delayed announcing its retreat from Kherson, Ukraine, until after the midterm elections. HARLOW: Yes, we'll tell you. It's fascinating.

Also, a crushing setback -- this is very sad, in the fight against Alzheimer's. Why this experimental new treatment appears not to be working.



HARLOW: This morning, we do have new CNN exclusive reporting. The U.S. has intelligence that Russia may have delayed announcing its withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson to avoid giving the Biden administration a political win ahead of the midterms.

President Biden more than hinted at that last week. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I find it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgment, and which we knew for some time that they were going to be doing. And it's evidence of the fact that they have some real problem, the Russian -- the Russian military.


HARLOW: Let's go straight to our White House reporter, Natasha Bertrand, who has exclusive reporting.

So what does this intelligence indicate? Is that -- is that right? That -- that Russia waited until after the midterms?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. So Biden was more than hinting at something there. Right?

HARLOW: Right.

BERTRAND: U.S. intel officials believe that, you know, the Kremlin made this decision very purposefully, that they wanted to wait to announce the formal withdrawal, the formal retreat -- retreat of Russian troops from the city of Kherson until just after the midterm elections were over, because they believed that, by doing so, they could avoid giving Biden, and by extension, the Democrats a boost in those midterms.

Now, this is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first, obviously, is because they believed that voters could potentially be swayed by such an announcement. Which kind of misunderstands what voters in the U.S. actually care about.

But the second, of course, is that they still believe that a GOP- controlled Congress a GOP-controlled administration, even, is better for their interests. They did not want to give and do anything that could have given Biden and the Democrats an advantage in the election. And of course, a retreat from Kherson, very strategic and important

city in Southern Ukraine, is very humiliating for the Russians. It is a big, big defeat for them.

And so when they were discussing the timing of making this formal announcement, going on TV, having senior Kremlin officials kind of parade this announcement. They said, according to U.S. intel officials, it was discussed that the midterms needed to be a factor in that conversation.

Now, it's important to note, there is no assessment, formal assessment here that that was the only consideration at play. Of course, realities on the ground were also at play. They could no longer sustain their presence there. But it's just a really interesting win into their efforts, still, to influence U.S. policy.

HARLOW: It's a fascinating window into it, for sure. Natasha, great reporting. Thank you.

Well, this new data show the lung cancer survival rate is up 21 percent. Why the odds are still much lower, though, for communities of color. We'll explain.

Also this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The room is full of victims. Child 9-1-1. Child 9- 1-1 call.


HARLOW: For the first time, we are seeing how Uvalde's acting police chief failed to organize help after being told that children needed to be rescued from the shooter inside the classroom. We have new CNN exclusive audio, ahead.