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Independent Candidates Derail Biden and Trump; RFK Polling for Third-Party. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 08:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Violence erupting from the right, from the hard right, the white supremacy. And we did a segment on what was happening on the left, which was slow-going and we got some pushback about the notion of anti-Zionism being really anti- Semitism, meaning you could say you're against Israel but not really be full of hate for Jews, and nobody pushed back on that now because of the connection to the violence here in America, the threats here in America, and around the world, specifically after October 7th. And what is happening on college campuses is very much now an explosion because of unchecked bias and, in some cases, downright prejudice on college campuses at the professorial level, at the student group level. And university presidents are starving some of them to speak out, but not enough, and that is very, very much something that we learned needs to be a part of a solution.

It is really systemic at the university level, and it is a huge, huge problem that become -- became dangerous. I spoke to a student who was at a rally, a peaceful rally, ended up getting violent. His nose was broken.


Dana Bash, thank you for being with us.

BASH: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: We can't wait to watch. Everyone should watch Dana's new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER." A whole hour, a whole story. It airs Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, here on CNN.

So, could 2024 be the year a third-party candidate spoils the race for president? Early polls closer than you might think.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And along those lines, you might know him from dropping the people's elbow on wrestlers in the ring, but could he also be the people's president? That was a WWF reference, Poppy.

HARLOW: Do you think I'm not an expert, Mattingly?

MATTINGLY: We're talking about "The Rock." He may be entertaining a shot. May not. People are talking to him, though. That's next. MATTINGLY: That's the one sport I know.



HARLOW: Could an independent candidate play a spoiler role in this presidential race? New polling says potentially, yes. RFK Jr. declared last month he'd run as an independent. Rumors swirling this morning that retiring Senator Joe Manchin could be considering the same.

With us now, senior data reporter, Harry Enten.

Harry, good morning.

Let's start with RFK Jr.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, let's start with RFK Jr. And he is getting -- look at these loads of likely voters choosing RFK in key swing states. Twenty-four percent in Arizona, 23 percent in Georgia, 25 percent in Michigan, you see 19 percent in Nevada, 21 in Pennsylvania, 21 in Wisconsin. High teens, low-to-mid 20s across the board.

And that is historic because independents who polled over 20 percent within a year of the election, we got RFK Jr., there hasn't been anybody polling this high, this late since Ross Perot in '92, John Anderson in '80, George Wallace in '68. And, of course, all those folks ended up with at least high single digits, if not all the way up to near 20 percent in the case of Ross Perot.

MATTINGLY: Harry, I think George H.W. Bush had some thoughts about Ross Perot and his impact on 1992. What impact could RFK have on the Biden/Trump matchup if that happens?

ENTEN: Yes, remember those "New York Times" polls that we spoke about earlier this week, and they were such bad news for Joe Biden. But look at this, the Biden versus Trump margin without Kennedy, look at that, we see Trump up by five in Arizona, five in Pennsylvania, 11 points in Nevada. You add Kennedy, look at this, you end up with a tie in Arizona, a tie in Pennsylvania, and that lead gets cut down to six points in Nevada. So, Kennedy could, in fact, be a spoiler for Donald Trump, at least according to this poll.

Of course, I will note, Phil and Poppy, he's not the only potential third-party candidate who could play a role. Joe Manchin, of course, announced that he's retiring from the Senate from West Virginia. There's thoughts of him running as a No Labels party candidate. Look at this, 10 percent of registered voters said that they may, in fact, vote for him. So, this year we could end up with a major party candidate winning the race with far less than 50 and maybe less than 40 percent of the vote.

HARLOW: And that's numbers from even before, you know, last night happened.

ENTEN: Even before he announced, exactly.

MATTINGLY: Harry, that was so good we'd like you to come hang out with us for a little bit long.

ENTEN: Oh, thank you.

HARLOW: Is there a bar to being invited to the table, Phil?

MATTINGLY: Like, walk over here.

ENTEN: You want me to walk - I would - (INAUDIBLE).

MATTINGLY: All right, Harry, stick around. We want to bring back in CNN's John Avlon and also CNN political analyst and vice president of the digital content at "theGrio" weekly, Natasha Alford.

Guys, thanks so much for joining us.

Avlon, you can't match that. Don't even try. No, I'm kidding.

RFK Jr., I'm -- just to ask kind of the obvious, what's up with that?



MATTINGLY: And I don't mean that in like a pejorative. It's fascinating because it has been consistent and it has not been like a two-week thing.

ALFORD: I'm sure the Democratic establishment would love to sort of dismiss this candidate, right? He's very inconvenient. But I think it's the name recognition. I think it's people's hunger for something else. The polls have told us again and again, even though we're a year out, that people are not excited about the Trump/Biden matchup. And so maybe he evokes, you know, sort of nostalgia for an America of the past with the Kennedy name, but he has a very interesting bag of policy proposals, raising the minimum wage, he's an environmentalist, he's interested in criminal justice reform. So, maybe for voters who were never going to vote for Biden or Trump, they want to throw their hat in the ring with this one.

AVLON: Look, the third-party dream, which is perennial, is clearly alive and well. Harry mentioned a Ross Perot. Ross Perot and Teddy Rosevelt, in 1912, both got around 19 percent. That's the high-water mark for third-party votes.

Now, polls show around 66 percent of Americans say they want a third party or another option. The difference here is that you've got potentially four independent candidacies impacting the normal two- party election, right? So, not just Bobby Kennedy Jr., it's -- and Joe Manchin, it's Cornell West and Jill Stein. That takes the potential threshold of third-party candidates to an unprecedented level.

And just to play this out, the downside of that third-party dream is embodied by Ralph Nader, 2000, Florida, where he gets 47,000 votes, Bush wins Florida by 537. Ralph Nader's Green Party ticket, for people who thought him -- Al Gore wasn't good enough on the environment, delivered President George W. Bush.


ALFORD: Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton, right, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Jill Stein made that difference for Hillary Clinton and -

AVLON: Yes. Three states, yes.

ALFORD: People are still, you know, salty about that today.

ENTEN: I just think it's -- the thing that I should note is Donald Trump, you know, he -- when he won in 2016, didn't come anywhere close to crossing the 50 percent threshold.

AVLON: Right.

ENTEN: What's going to be very interesting this time around is, we could end up with the winner of this presidential election, at least in the popular vote, who could get south of say Bill Clinton's, you know, 43 percent that he got in 1992. We could end up with a president who really doesn't have much of a mandate from anybody given how unpopular both Biden and Trump are.

And that, let's be real, is the real reason why these third-party and independent candidates are doing so well in the polls, it's because these are the two major -- most least liked major party candidates at this point in the campaign basically ever.

MATTINGLY: I want to play something from a -- maybe another potential third-party candidate, maybe not. We don't know. "The Rock."


DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON: In 2022, I got a visit from the parties asking me if I was going to run, and if I could run.


JOHNSON: And it's a big deal. And it came out of the blue.


JOHNSON: And it was one after the other.

I was moved by that. And the reason why I have given that response, if that's truly what the people want, then of course I will consider it. And after that response, that's when the parties came.


ALFORD: The Rock-obama.

HARLOW: There you go.

MATTINGLY: That was good.

AVLON: Oh, that's good. That was very good.

ALFORD: That's the energy he gives.


MATTINGLY: A point of clarity, the parties are not one autonomous being that approaches people to ask for things. So, that can mean a lot of different things.

ALFORD: The party.

ENTEN: The giant (ph) elephant.

MATTINGLY: I don't doubt he was approached. It could have been by -

AVLON: Operatives approached "The Rock," yes.


HARLOW: You're going to try to ask a serious question now, Mattingly, on that?

MATTINGLY: No. I mean, look, here's - here's why I would ask a serious question. I don't think this pertains to 2024.

HARLOW: By the way, I'm a huge "Rock" fan.

MATTINGLY: The reason why I'm so fascinated by it is because of that.


MATTINGLY: People love the guy. His Q (ph) score, if I understood what that was, would - I assume is positively enormous.

HARLOW: It rivals yours.

MATTINGLY: And, oh, by the way, we've seen a celebrity win a presidency. So --

ALFORD: And Jesse Ventura, WWF.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and governorships.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ALFORD: Governor of Minnesota.

AVLON: Ronald Reagan, lest we forget.


AVLON: Important difference being that Ronald Reagan was a two-term governor of California before he ran for president. Look, there's this fascinating perennial fascination with "The Rock"

running. And I think it's because he's a disciplined guy, he's an engaging guy, he's expressed an interest in civic service.



AVLON: But I think, two things. One, it shows that people are desperate for non-politicians to run. And, two, it shows why historically, up until Donald Trump, that celebrities who want to run for president run for some other public office to get some chops. Jesse Ventura being another example. Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't run for president but was a very popular and effective two-term governor for California as well.

So, I just think that, you know, there's this gravitational pull this - we're trying to draw "The Rock" in. It's a symbol of people's dissatisfaction and the fact they want people who they know outside of politics. But I'd like to see people who -- if they're interested in something as civically sacred as running for president run for another office first.

ENTEN: I would just put - bring in an international example. Right now President Zelenskyy is leading Ukraine through a time of war.

AVLON: Correct.

ENTEN: And he was a comedian. That was what he was best known as for. And I think when you have people who are so dissatisfied with the two- party system, they're willing to try something very, very different because they figure the politician, as usual, simply put, aren't working.

HARLOW: That's a great point about the landscape.

ALFORD: Yes, Donald Trump, I think, lowered the bar for some people. Never - never served before. So, if Donald Trump could be president, some people think "The Rock" could be president.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys, very much.

AVLON: Country over party.

HARLOW: Stay with us.

Ahead, federal law enforcement this morning on high alert after these suspicious letters were sent to election offices across the country. Some of them laced with fentanyl. The latest on that investigation ahead.

MATTINGLY: And the three pandas that left the United States this week are arriving in China. We're going to have more, next.



HARLOW: Story of the week. Update this morning on our international panda watch. The giant pandas that left the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, they have arrived in China. My mom asked me if they flew Delta. Their departure - it's true. Their departure marked the end of more than 50 years of Chinese pandas being housed at the zoo. It's sad to see them go. The zoo staff called it a hiatus in their wildly popular panda program. Chinese officials have yet to say whether they will ever return to the zoo.

MATTINGLY: And another serious update. Earlier this week during our show I revealed my affinity for a different species of mammal native to Asia.


MATTINGLY: I do have to say, David, if you don't mind, because I know how well sourced you are both in China and here, a potential diplomatic middle ground to be proposed. Maybe we get a couple of sun bears. I'm a big sun bear guy. And to see (ph), you know, I just want to know your take on this. you're an astute observer of all things politics in both countries. What do you think?


MATTINGLY: So, to back up my point, right now there are at least 14 zoos in America with sun bears, but there are about two dozen of them in those zoos. That's not nearly enough, in my humble opinion, if I could have one.

HARLOW: That graphic - that graphic was amazing.


HARLOW: Am I supposed to read this?'

Phil's love -

MATTINGLY: I'm checking out of this one.

HARLOW: 8:48, we're close.

Phil's love of sun bears caught the attention of the principal of a school in El Paso. This is actually the best thing that happened this week.

MATTINGLY: This is great. Yes.

HARLOW: And that principal emailed us after the segment.


HAIDI APPEL, PRINCIPAL, DON HASKINS PRE-K-8: Hello, Mr. Mattingly, I'm Haidi Appel, and I'm the principal at Don Haskins Pre-K-8 in the El Paso Independent School District. We have over 1,500 sun bears here and we, too, wish there were more sun bears. (END VIDEO CLIP)


HARLOW: How great is that? Making our morning. Don Haskins, a Hall of Fame coach from Texas Western, was nicknamed "the bear," and El Paso is also known as sun city. So, naturally, the sun bears were the perfect mascot.

We actually have a panel on this now.

ENTEN: I love it.

MATTINGLY: Look, to be clear, it was the - it was the response from the principal, which was extraordinarily kind. And I appreciated it.

HARLOW: She's amazing.

MATTINGLY: And then the pep rally. That was just cool. That's the only -- we don't actually have a deep (ph) --

ENTEN: And they called you Mr. Mattingly.

AVLON: Which itself is, you know.

ENTEN: That's big.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Yes, no, I - I definitely don't deserve it and I appreciate it.

AVLON: But, wait, you know, this zoo-taliation on - on, you know, (INAUDIBLE), that seems like a very sinister evolution. And don't we get to keep any of the pandas that are born here? Isn't there something -

ALFORD: It's very petty, the whole thing.

MATTINGLY: It's a program. It's actually - and so the irony of all of this is Culver, David Culver, who is an extraordinary reporter and has great sources.


MATTINGLY: This is my point, in both in China and here, the diplomatic ties to this that go back to Nixon are very real.


MATTINGLY: And I think there's actual concern of, why - why are - why is this happening? And also he pointed out that many of the pandas are now being sent to closer allies than the U.S. including places like Russia and, you know, kind of the new axis that's been described. So, there is a serious piece of this.

AVLON: Diplomacy.

MATTINGLY: I just chose not to focus on it.

HARLOW: But you - you were the chief White House correspondent --


HARLOW: Let me remind people. Before you - thank you for coming here, for waking up in the middle of the night every morning. But is Biden going to bring this up with Xi next week?

MATTINGLY: I asked Culver -

HARLOW: That's a good break the ice.

MATTINGLY: Yes. He mentioned - Culver mentioned that the Australian prime minister actually brought the issue up, which I thought was interesting. Do I think this is going to come up? Officials were talked about the meeting last night. They did not mention this. I did not ask.

I do -- we also do have a very -- another important update that we want to get to.

My co-anchor is a published author again. That's right. She already gets up every day to anchor this three-hour show with me.


MATTINGLY: With me, while raising two of her own children. And now she's written her second children's book. Just to go off script for a second, it's not easy to do this job at this hour all the time.


MATTINGLY: It's really not easy to do it when you have kids. Her ability to do it, do it extraordinarily well, and also write a children's book is on some level annoying, but it's also really, really awesome.

HARLOW: You're the best.

MATTINGLY: The book is called "The Color of Love." She co-wrote it with our former CNN colleague and "Today Show Saturday" anchor Laura Jarrett. The story is about love in all of its forms told through the eyes of a young girl. It comes out on May 14th, but it's already available for pre-order. I think it's pretty clear how I feel about you and your ability to do this.

HARLOW: Thank you, Phil.

Thank you. So sweet.

MATTINGLY: What do people need to know?

HARLOW: Do I have to actually admit that I wrote this way before I started anchoring this show? Laura and I wrote this together.

MATTINGLY: That makes me feel better to some degree.

HARLOW: But thanks for giving me the extra credit. I also raise half as many children as you and Chelsea, so I think I deserve -

MATTINGLY: The book. It's about the book.

HARLOW: OK. OK. OK, it's weird to talk about your own work, but I appreciate it. This book was a pandemic baby of Laura and I. Laura's just such a dear, dear friend and former CNN anchor, as you know, and colleague. And we came together during Covid and after the murder of George Floyd in my hometown of Minneapolis. And we wanted to teach our young children and talk to them about love, not hate, because there was so much focus on hate. And so that is - that is how this came to be.

It was a total joy it write it with Laura. And we can't wait for -- we hope people have fun and gain a lot reading it with their kids. It's available May 14th. You can pre-order it now. It's fun.

AVLON: Congratulation.

ALFORD: It's gorgeous.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ALFORD: As a former teacher, I endorse this book wholeheartedly. It's beautiful. I think a lot of -

HARLOW: Well, you've read it.


ALFORD: And I did read it. And the images are stunning.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ENTEN: It was the first book I've read in years, and it was quite good (ph).

MATTINGLY: Congratulations, Harry, a big day for you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: The day is May 14th. You can pre-order it now. Poppy dedicates the book to Sienna and Luca.

HARLOW: Oh, I have to mention -


HARLOW: The last book was for Luka. So, Sienna, this one's for you, I promise.


MATTINGLY: Harry, Natasha, John, thanks, guys. We'll be right back.

HARLOW: That was fun. Thanks, guys!



HARLOW: Welcome back.

The top ten CNN Heroes of 2023 have been announced. One will be voted CNN Hero of the Year by you, our viewers. We will be introducing each of them to you over the next five weeks, like Dr. Kwane Stewart. He's made it his mission to offer judgement free and essential veterinary care to pets that belong to the growing number of unhoused people on the streets of California.



DR. KWANE STEWART, CNN HERO: I've seen people give up their meals for their pet, and people who have $3 to their name, and after I'm done with the treatment, they will try and give me that $3.

This is your partner, obviously, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's my best friend.

STEWART: They see me with my stethoscope and my bag.

Oh, yes, you look good.

This little dog was days away from dying.

And then they start sharing stories about their dog and the history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He makes me feel good, and he loves me. And I know he loves me.

STEWART: I can treat about 80 percent of the cases I see out of a really small bag.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you do vaccines too. Oh, that's really cool.

STEWART: It's antibiotics. It's anti-inflammatories. Flea and tick. Heartworm prevention. It's all there. It's at no cost to them. It's free.

I'm building a network of trusted volunteers, technicians, but hospitals and clinics we can go to, we can call on.

Let me take a listen here.

It doesn't matter what your situation is or what your background or past is. I see a pet in need, and I see a person who cares for them dearly who just needs some help.



HARLOW: How great is that? You can, of course, vote for your hero. Go to By the way, you can vote as many times as you want. We'll keep introducing you to these amazing humans every week right here.

MATTINGLY: It is Friday. We are done. You should have a great weekend. And just, if we couldn't make our jobs more complicated for our wonderful tech and stage team, we brought a bunch of kids in?

HARLOW: Hi, guys!

MATTINGLY: Hi, guys!

Packed studio. Have a great weekend.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.

HARLOW: Love that.