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New Polls in the Presidential Race; Aston Bright is Interviewed about Volunteering in Israel; Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) is Interviewed about Abortion in Virginia. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 06, 2023 - 06:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: To 22 percent for Trump. 2020 exit polls showed Biden won 87 percent of the black vote then. Similar trend among Hispanic voters. Biden is up 8 points among that group in 2020. Biden won Hispanic voters by 33 points.

And while Biden still leads among women, he has shed a significant amount of support among men. Trump leads men by an 18-point margin in 2020. Trump won men by only 8 points.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's a similar story when you look at the issues, the policy. On the economy, if you take a look at that, on the top line, based on these polls, voters in those battleground states trust the former president to do a better job compared to the current president, 37 percent.

Now, on the issues of immigration and national security, critical issues that Trump talks about often, they trust Trump to do better, while 41 percent shows Biden.

What about the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict? This, new numbers that we see come out, 50 percent trust Trump, 39 percent trust the current president.

Now, Biden does outperform, and this is critical, on the issues of abortion and democracy, but even then it's only by single digits. Biden's up 9 on the issue of abortion and three on the issue of democracy. These are issues Democrats consistently point to as Trump cards here.

And the major lingering issue of Biden's age? Well, it has become very clear, that is now proceeding, 71 percent say Biden at 80 years old is just too old to an effective president. The irony here is only 39 percent feel that way about Donald Trump. He is 77.

Now, there is a caveat to all of this that we should keep an eye on here. If Donald Trump is convicted and sentenced in the federal election subversion trial, the picture changes dramatically. In that situation, those polls say that Biden wins in all of those swing states, every single one of them. Something to keep an eye on going forward.


HARLOW: Got to read the cross tabs,, Mattingly.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst Natasha Alford. Errol Louis back with us. CNN political - senior political analyst and anchor John Avlon.

Great - great to have you all here.

Natasha, let me just start with you.

I mean I -- reading in the cross tabs, the most important part, as Phil reminds us, just all of those, from women, to Hispanic voters, black voters, 22 percent of black voters behind Trump. That is not seen in the modern era for a Republican frontrunner, right? I mean, wow.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's startling. I looked at the Democratic response. Kevin Munoz (ph), the spokesperson for Biden, and this idea that, you know, we have a year. We can turn things around. I think you have to look at this being a challenge from the very beginning, right? Black voters from the very beginning were saying that, we will help you get Joe Biden into office, but, you know, this is not necessarily our preference.

This was about democracy and saving democracy. And so here we are a year later, he has not been able to change their impression. Black home ownership is down. Going to the store, you know, even if jobs have improved in terms of numbers, the prices that people are paying just -- it doesn't resonate with them. So, Bidenomics, all of the things that Biden has done to try to connect, it's not connecting with this group.

HARLOW: And black unemployment was quite low during the Trump administration.

MATTINGLY: And low -- but lower now.



MATTINGLY: But it's the - is the - but it's the -

HARLOW: But he said it all the time.


HARLOW: Trump said it all the time.

MATTINGLY: He had a gift for messaging. There's no question about that.

Errol, you talked to some Democrats and they, again, look at the cross tab, to say, look, if our coalition comes home and when it becomes a one-on-one race and we have the clear contrast and we have Donald Trump every single day that everybody's focusing on, the picture will change dramatically. There's just no way, whether it's young voters or black voters in particular, that these numbers stay static or even remotely close to it.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's exactly right. And - and -

MATTINGLY: Is it though?

LOUIS: Yes, of course. I mean -

MATTINGLY: Because, what if it's not?

LOUIS: Well, what if it's not. You - Democrats like to worry. But, yes, you've got to call them home or they won't come home. That's - that's number one.

Number two, like, with the black vote, I mean, frankly, I would ask the pollster, look, check your sample a little bit because, you know, the last time a Republican presidential candidate got more than 17 percent of the vote was in 1960, right? So this is - this is not something that you can take all that seriously, that particular number. Likewise with the Latino vote.

You know, the notion that Trump could almost catch women voters, you know, close to Biden on the abortion issue, I just don't buy that, you know. But, now, what this does do is suggests that Democrats have to get out there. They've got to talk to their younger voters. The 18 to 29s are the ones I think they should be worried about because they get their information from different places. They're getting it from TikTok or wherever.


LOUIS: You've got to also talk to women and sort of get into the coalitions, the activist coalitions that form the base of the Democratic Party. The labor coalitions. The environmentalists. The women's groups. You've got to -- you've got to do it. You've got to work them. You've got to make it so that everybody's on message.

Now, there's a timing issue here. And Biden knows this I think better than most politicians in America. You can start too early too, you know? You can blow a lot of money. You can sort of spin up a lot of issues. But then you really got to hit it hard next year, next June.


So, we should have this conversation in six months and see where they are.

AVLON: I -- with all due respect to my dear friend Errol, I disagree with him about sort of the posture that everyone's going to come home, especially if you call them. I think it's -- it's too late to wait for next year. I think what -- what this is, among other things, is a failure to really hammer home basic messages to the base and to - to swing voters as well. This poll should be a major wake up call to all Democrats, as well as the White House.

Yes, it's a snapshot in time. Yes, Democrats have been outperforming in special elections this year dramatically. They are counterwheeling (ph) things. But if Democrats are starting to slide among young people, among Hispanics and African Americans, when a lot of the fact patterns are pretty good, it's in part because Biden's team has not been selling the accomplishments of this administration and they have not been responding clearly enough to these kind of trends that are not their friend.

Now, I -- one thing really freaked me out about the poll, though, was the three-point gap where Biden is leading among democracy. I frankly don't know what to do about that. Not - you know, not that it's our problem. You know, we're just interpreting these numbers. But on the issue of democracy -

HARLOW: You're saying that it's not wider?

AVLON: When you've got a candidate who tried to overturn an election, which shows fundamental contempt for our democracy, running tightly with another candidate who, however flawed he may be, and clearly a lot of it's about age, has been a pretty stalwart defender of the Constitution and democracy, that's a problem. And I don't know if it's in the electorate or the poll. But we've got to dig into that deeper as a society.

MATTINGLY: But, I mean, I think those 45 percent of Americans polled on absolutely anything would side with Trump on absolutely anything.

AVLON: It's - it's not 45 percent, though, right? I mean what -- what polling shows is that there's 30 percent of the Republican Party that will go - go with Donald Trump no matter what. Literally no matter what. Joe Biden doesn't have that kind of passion and loyalty among a core support of the base, and that may be impacting these numbers. But that's the problem is that this is -- this is crossing behind that hardcore Trump ride or die no matter what, even if he declares martial law crap.


AVLON: This is something else.

HARLOW: Trump's in court today, Natasha, on a totally separate - it's a civil case and it's a state case. But, look, the fact is he's going to take the stand and it's just one of his many legal woes.

That caveat that Phil pointed out at the wall, that if Trump is convicted and sentenced in the federal election subversion case, about 6 percent of voters in these states, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, say they would switch their vote to Biden. And that's enough to cover the spread and enough to tip the balance for Biden.

ALFORD: Yes, I mean, this is what we talk about when we say, you know, we're following this story day-to-day. But, again, America -- the American people, they're going to work. They're living their lives, right? They may not have absorbed the gravity of what these charges mean.

And this is unprecedented in history. We will see a president in a different way than we ever have before if he is convicted. And so, of course, that can change things. But right now, when you're talking about how people feel about their day-to-day, they're obviously dissatisfied. And as John said, I think we actually have to listen to that. We can't just say, oh, we have a whole year to sort of turn it round. Listen to what people are saying. Young voters are so disillusioned right now. Gen-Z, millennials, you know, those who were planning -

HARLOW: So we're not even talking about young voters, many of them upset about the White House standing staunchly behind Israel.


HARLOW: And some of them viewing this administration as not supporting the Palestinian cause enough.

LOUIS: Yes, I mean, yes, new factors are coming in, obviously, as the news - news changes.

HARLOW: Yes, but significant factors.

LOUIS: Yes, significant factors. But I - again, I - I have a very hard time believing that somebody, a president, who by executive order, by attempts at legislation, has tried to sort of lift the burden of student debt and - and did so for many, many, many Americans, that those same voters would say, but, never mind.

AVLON: But - but to make a case.

ALFORD: But they - they remember the failure, though.

AVLON: That's the problem, it's the issue of, the economy's good, black unemployment particularly is very low, unemployment generally is very low, but prices are higher, so people are feeling that pain. You've got to make that case clearly and remind people what he's done.

And with regard to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I'd just say that you don't want domestic politics to drive your decisions in the White House.


AVLON: You need to be driven by principles and - and - and - and allies and - and transcendent issues. You don't want politics, domestic politics, impacting war and peace.

HARLOW: And CNN's reporting - Isaac Dovere has great reporting that that is not -- the political calculation there is not driving Biden on this front for right now.

AVLON: Exactly right. And I think that's perfect (ph).

MATTINGLY: At least not yet. We'll have to see.

Natasha, John, Errol, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: So, ahead, Israeli fire stations are finding themselves very short staffed since the war began. Now, American firefighters are heading to Israel to help, and one of them joins us next.

MATTINGLY: And CNN journalists are among a small group of reporters inside Gaza for the first time since the war broke out.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are inside an armored personnel carrier right now. We just crossed into Gaza here in the southern point of Gaza City.




MATTINGLY: Just moments ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Turkey after a multi-day trip to the Middle East. On the tarmac, Blinken weighing in on the state of hostage negotiations, saying he believes the humanitarian pause could help with those talks, and also that other partners in the region, like Turkey, could help get hostages home.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I can say that this is an intense forecloses for us, and we also believe and we're seeing that other countries can play an important role in helping to get hostages back. I am very much convinced that that remains the case and that not only is there still opportunity, there's a necessity to see that happen. And it's important that other partners, to the extent they have relationships, use those relationships to help.


HARLOW: And that was the secretary of state.

Meantime, Hamas terror attacks since then, it is completely altered every aspect of life in Israel. Since the war began, members of the IDF reserve have been called up for military duty. That has depleted many local emergency agencies in Israel, including fire stations.

MATTINGLY: Now, because of that, American firefighters are stepping up to fill in. A rotation of more than 40 U.S. volunteer firefighters from 11 different states have deployed to Israel since October 7th. Another 400 are on stand-by, ready to head overseas if needed.

[06:45:03] These firefighters are providing much needed assistance during the war, from routine fire calls to the aftermath of rocket attacks.

Lt. Aston Bright of the Plantation, Florida, Fire Department is one of those firefighters. He joins us live from Jerusalem.

Sir, we appreciate your time.

I want to start with, how did you end up there, and what's your day- to-day like?

LT. ASTON BRIGHT, PLANTATION, FLORIDA FIRE DEPT.: So, how I ended up here was about ten years ago a buddy of mine called me and said that the Jewish Federation of Broward was trying to put together a team of firefighters, and would I be interested in joining. I said, absolutely. And since that time I was introduced to the Emergency Volunteers Project, which is a non-profit based here in Jerusalem, started by Adia Sahabi (ph).

And he's an Israeli first responder. And he realized that in times of war Israel has a gap. And what he started doing was going to America and recruiting and training firefighters so in times of war they can send us over here in order to help the people of Israel. That's why I'm here.

HARLOW: And as we're speaking to you, these are live images of tent camp in Khan Younis. You see smoke rising in the background there in Gaza, in the south. I mean it just shows how this continues, how the emergency continues.

What was your decision like, Lieutenant, to leave home, to leave family, to risk, obviously, your life? You don't know what you'll be called up to do. How did you make that decision?

BRIGHT: Well, the decision actually was quite easy for me. While I didn't take it lightly, after waking up to about 100 text messages on Saturday, October the 7th, of people asking me about my friends that are here in Israel, my firefighter friends, how everyone's doing, I knew immediately that I had to come here to help.

And I wasn't the only one who answered the call. We have firefighters -- many firefighters from south Florida, the city of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood. Miami Beach has got a bunch of guys coming. Martin County. We have people from Virginia, Louisiana, California, Dallas, Texas. So, there was an awakening of firefighters who knew they needed to come here and help Israel fight against what - what they're dealing with.

And when we're here, it allows the Israeli firefighters who are in the Army to be called up and go and fight and then we can get on the fire trucks and help to respond to calls and help to serve the people and save lives, which is our mission.

MATTINGLY: In terms of situations you face, certainly the threat of rocket attacks and the aftermath of rocket attacks, I assume, is not something you dealt with back at home. How did you prepare for that? Have you seen any instances like that since you've been there?

BRIGHT: Well, you know, to be honest, there's no way, Phil, that you can prepare for a rocket attack. I can tell you that we were down close to Gaza a few days ago and eleven rockets were fired at our petition. And, thankfully, the Iron Dome intercepted all of them.

We took shelter in a bomb shelter. And when we came out, we saw that the rockets were intercepted directly over our position. So, there's really no way to prepare for that. But one of the things I did take from that was, no one should have to live under a constant barrage of rockets, a constant barrage of terrorist attacks.

We have 240 people who today are kidnapped and are at a location unknown somewhere in Gaza. So, no one should have to live under that. And it just strengthened our resolve. And as a matter of fact, it really helped our recruitment effort because we had over 700 firefighters from around the world to start inquiring about coming to help as the continued attacks continued in Israel.

HARLOW: That certainly says a lot and shows the power of the emergency volunteer project you're there as a part of.

Thank you, Lieutenant Aston Bright.

BRIGHT: Thank you so much for having me, Poppy and Phil. We appreciate it.

HARLOW: Of course.

MATTINGLY: Well, Virginians are about to vote in statewide races in what could be the biggest test for both parties heading into 2024.

HARLOW: Also, hours from now, President Trump set to stand the stand in his civil fraud trail right here in New York. We will speak with key former members of Trump world. Anthony Scaramucci here. And in the 8:00 a.m. eastern hour, Michael Cohen, live.



MATTINGLY: Well, Election Day is tomorrow and there are key ballot initiatives and races across the country. Among those most critical, state races in Virginia. And they could be a glaring indicator of what's to come in 2024. What's at stake, voters could hand Republicans a trifecta of control in the commonwealth, which already has a Republican governor and Republican-controlled state house. And this could have major repercussions for several key issues, from gun control, to the environment, to what's become the biggest issue of the election and probably the 2024 election, abortion.

Here's Governor Glenn Youngkin. He's calling for a 15-week abortion ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): And on the topic of abortion, this is a tough topic. It's one of the most divisive topics across Virginia and America today.

I really feel that this is a moment for us to come together around reasonable limits where we can protect life at 15 weeks, where a baby feels pain, with full exceptions in the case of rape and incest and when the mother's life is at risk. And I think this is a place that Virginians can come together.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now is Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, who previously served in both the Virginia State House and Senate before winning her congressional seat in a special election earlier this year. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

Congresswoman, I appreciate your time.

You know the state. You know these two chambers as well as anyone. I'm interested in what you just heard from the governor. The pitch that we've heard repeatedly from him over the course of the last several months, trying to reframe the abortion debate. Do you think it's effective in the state based on what you're seeing?

REP. JENNIFER MCCLELLAN (D-VA): I don't. A ban is a ban. A 15-week is a ban. It's more than just restrictions. And, more importantly, Virginians -- over two-thirds of Virginians want our laws to stay as they are on abortion or even less restrictive.


We worked very hard to remove medically unnecessary restrictions and leave the decision about whether and when to have an abortion between a patient and their provider. And my constituents and people around Virginia do not want Governor Youngkin to insert his belief into that decision.

MATTINGLY: How much of what you hear from the governor do you think is through the lens of a potential presidential run versus trying to secure a trifecta?

MCCLELLAN: You know, I don't know, but I do know that Virginians want access to health care, including abortion care to be left in their hands between them and their doctor. And part of what I did not hear from the governor is what happens when there is a miscarriage. What he doesn't understand is Virginia's abortion laws apply in the case of miscarriages. And abortions that happen after 15 weeks, it's because something has gone horribly wrong, and that is a complicated decision that needs to be left to patients and healthcare providers.

MATTINGLY: There has been -- I think every race at this point has become nationalized in the current political environment. Certainly there's been efforts to do that in Virginia as well. I'm wondering, when you see numbers like what we saw in "The New York Times"/Sienna poll related to President Biden, and these battleground states numbers continually showing big problems with critical components of the coalition that elected him in 2020, and coalition that helped Democrats beat expectations in 2022. Are you seeing that in the numbers that you're looking at in Virginia?

MCCLELLAN: Well, most of Virginias are focused on the election tomorrow and not on the election next year. I remember that back in President Obama's first term, at this point, that same poll had him in trouble and I think even had him down as much as five at one point.

But what I'm hearing here in Virginia is a focus on tomorrow, and a focus on making sure that we don't roll back the progress that we've made on reproductive rights, on voting rights, on addressing climate change, on addressing gun violence, that's what I'm hearing here in Virginia.

MATTINGLY: And I think that's a really interesting point because the effort to nationalize, if it's not as effective, you're saying you don't see it -- as much bleed over from -- or spill over from where the current president stands to the races that matter most to Virginians right now?

MCCLELLAN: No. And I have been all over Virginia. I have been - I've done over 50 events for over 80 candidates, and they are focused on the issues here, on the fact that when Democrats had the trifecta we made generational progress on the rights that I just mentioned and that people don't want those - that progress rolled back. That's what people are talking about here in Virginia, and they're talking about tomorrow.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you about your caucus? This is, obviously, a very complicated time for the entire country as the war between Israel and Hamas plays out. One member of your conference caucus, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, essentially said that there's a genocide occurring, accused the Biden administration of, to some degree, being complicit and involved in that, and that that would have major ramifications electorally. What's your response to that?

MCCLELLAN: Well, as you heard Secretary Blinken, the Biden administration right now is focused on making sure that we can get the hostages released and focused on a humanitarian pause to get much needed aid. I think there's concerns on all sides with the civilian casualties and making sure that as Israel moves forward to protect itself that it does so in a way that complies with international law and that we can focus on getting the hostages out and destabilizing -- or, I'm sorry, de-escalating so that we don't further destabilize the region.

MATTINGLY: Are you confident in the administration's approach up to this point?

MCCLELLAN: I'm very closely monitoring it as a member of the armed services committee. I think they are working very hard to ensure the release of the hostages and put pressure on Israel to allow a humanitarian pause.

MATTINGLY: Democratic Congressman Jennifer McClellan, a very big day in the commonwealth tomorrow. We appreciate your time. Thank you.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is scheduled to testify in his civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only what he says, but the way he says it is going to play out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a waste of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A newly released poll is painting a grim outlook for the Biden campaign a year before the election.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I was concerned before these polls, and I'm concerned now.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The whole party needs to be cognizant that this is going to be a major challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The IDF intensifying its offensive with a significant strike on Gaza overnight.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're working to make sure that the conflict in Gaza does not spread to other places.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you manage to eliminate all of Hamas, what next?