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CNN Tonight

Dr. Mehmet Oz And John Fetterman Had Their First And Last Debate; Some Voters Don't Care Of Candidate's Debate Performance; History Speaks Itself Of The Current Political Atmosphere; Ousted Workers Reinstated To Work With Back Pay; Family Trapped Under Grand Canyon Cavern; People Leave But Don't Retire. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 22:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, I was watching, you know, I'm from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I don't know if you've heard that, but I am, but I am.

CAMEROTA: Yes, a couple times.

TAPPER: And, and so, I watched a lot of the Oz, Fetterman debate. And interesting little tidbit after the debate the Republican senator who's, who's leaving Pat Toomey, he wrote, it's sad to see John Fetterman struggling so much. He should take more time to allow himself to fully recover. Very pointed statement from a Republican senator.

The Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, Casey, Bob Casey wrote, after the debate, Fetterman has a clear record of public service. The empathy of a leader understands the commonwealth. He knows Pennsylvania cares about Pennsylvania. He's going to be a great senator.

Like no comment at all about the debate itself. I thought it was just kind of interesting that the two senators had those reactions.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Clearly a Rorschach test, I mean, clearly how they want people to view this through a particular lens, you know, either they know or only two weeks away from the midterm election, so, these are the candidates. This is, these are the options. So, I guess they're reflecting that in terms of how they want the people to be understanding what happened.

CAMEROTA: And our panel have very strong feelings.


CAMEROTA: They watched it too. And they have very strong feelings about how --

TAPPER: Great. CAMEROTA: -- John Fetterman performed. I mean, all eyes obviously were on him and, it was challenging. I mean, it seemed like at, at certain times.


CAMEROTA: So, yes. So, OK, Jake, thank you very much for setting the table for us.

TAPPER: All right, guys.

COATES: You didn't even see my Philadelphia colors today. You're an Eagles fan, right? You didn't even see this?

TAPPER: Yes, but I'm not -- but we just had a bi-week and I'm still in Philly zone.

COATES: All right, fine.

TAPPER: We still got the World Series to get through. If you have --

COATES: All right.

TAPPER: -- if you want a little powder blue and red tomorrow, that'd be awesome. Thanks.

CAMEROTA: What do you think? Done.

COATES: All right.




COATES: Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates.

CAMEROTA: And I'm Alisyn Camerota. This is CNN TONIGHT.

COATES: And we've got all the big moments from what may be the most closely watched debate of the entire midterm season. The one and only debate between John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

So what will it mean nationwide for Democrats and Republicans?

CAMEROTA: Plus, what happens to Joe Biden's presidency if there is a red wave for the midterms? Presidential historian Jon Meacham is going to be with us tonight. He'll tell us why this is the most consequential election since the Civil War.

COATES: Can you imagine if it really is? I mean, since the Civil War?

CAMEROTA: Well, I trust him. I trust him --

COATES: Yes. CAMEROTA: -- of any historical question whatsoever. He's Pulitzer Prize winning, so if he says it is, it must be, so we'll ask him his rationale for that.

COATES: We're going to talk to him about it soon. I can't wait to have that conversation. Let's kick it off right now with former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, also Alyssa Farah Griffin, who is Trump White House communications director, and Tobin Marcus, a former economic policy advisor to then Vice President Joe Biden.

I mean, look, there was that happened tonight. We've been waiting for this debate. It's been, you know, will they debate? Will they not debate? Now it's here. And the question was, how would he perform given the stroke that he experienced back in May? He actually address it off the top in part. Let's play it.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: And let's also talk about the elephant in the room. I had a stroke. He's never let me forget that. And I might miss some words during this debate. Mush two words together, but it knocked me down. But I'm going to keep coming back up.

And this campaign is all about, to me, is about fighting for everyone in Pennsylvania that ever got knocked down that needs to get back up and fighting for all forgotten communities all across Pennsylvania that also got knocked down. That needs to keep, get back up.


COATES: When you think about that and the idea of how he turned it into a discussion really about, look, I am every person one. Was that effective to you? I mean, that wasn't the moment people were talking about him struggling, frankly.

CAMEROTA: We'll show those in a minute.

COATES: But the idea of, of talking about it in that context, you were waiting for this debate. Was that persuasive to you as the way to set the stage?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it really wasn't. I mean, I thought somebody should have invoked the mercy rule about 20 minutes into the debate. Fetterman, in my view, I don't know if it was the stroke or if he's just a lousy debater or if he doesn't understand the issues.

He had a very, he was flustered, he was confused. He should not have been out there. And I -- I've had a number of people say, why is this guy even on the ballot right now after that? Now I don't know that debates matter that much. But if people watch that, they're going to question his capacity to serve. The bar was set very low. It should have been set lower.

COATES: Well on that point, so the Right, I mean, you talk about to Alisyn, the bar was set so low in the sense of, I mean, Dr. Oz, you know him because he's a television personality and the presence.


CAMEROTA: He knows how to do TV. He's been doing it for two decades. I mean, that's what John Fetterman was saying, but this was, I think, in a different category it sounds like.

So, let's, listen to a moment where John Fetterman struggled, seemed to struggle.


FETTERMAN: I'm also having to talk about something called the Oz rule, that if he's on TV, he's lying. He did that during his career on his TV show. He's done that during his campaign about lying about our record here, and he's also lying probably during this debate.


MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I want to bring civility, balance, all the things that you want to see because you've been telling it to me on the campaign trail. And by doing that, we can bring us together in a way that has not been done of late, Democrats, Republicans, talking to each other. John Fetterman takes everything to an extreme and those extreme positions hurt us all.


CAMEROTA: OK, Alyssa, your thoughts as you watched that?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, listen, Dr. Oz has the advantage of a career in TV. He's an excellent communicator, but that wasn't why he won tonight's debate. He hit on every major issue that voters are focused on, the economy, crime in Pennsylvania, a huge issue, energy. He had substance behind him, and there was this unifying general election message.

I -- I want to be careful because I think some of the most consequential leaders in history have had different kinds of disabilities. I don't think it should preclude someone from serving, but what we saw today was someone who is not ready to be in office. And the lack of transparency leading up to this, I think actually shocked people watching it.

Like I found it extremely hard to watch. And the question that I found myself is, is the way that he's struggling a result of this stroke? Or is it because he doesn't have a grasp on the issues who was asked a very direct question about his position on fracking? He could not explain why he fundamentally 180 changed his position on it, and the voters deserve to know that.

COATES: I want to play that because honestly, and Tobin, I want to hear your take on this as well, because what we've played so far, frankly, for the audience who may have not have seen these debates, I don't know that it's conveying that level of difficulty answering the questions as much as we're talking about it right now. I want you to respond, Tobin. But let's play the moment that you're saying, Alyssa, that really is suggestive and illustrative of the point you're making.


FETTERMAN: I always believe that independence with our energy is, is critical and we can't be held, you know, ransom to somebody like Russia. You know, I've always believed that energy independence is critical and I've always believed that, and I do support fracking.

UNKNOWN: I do want to clarify something you're saying tonight that you support fracking, that you've. Reported fracking, but there is that 2018 interview that you said, quote, "I don't support fracking at all." So how do you square the two?

FETTERMAN: I do support fracking and I don't -- I don't -- I support fracking and I stand and I do support.


COATES: Tobin?

TOBIN MARCUS, SENIOR U.S. POLICY AND POLITICS STRATEGIST, EVERCORE ISI: Yes. The fracking answer that he gave was one of the lower moments in a generally tough performance. I think the clip that you played immediately before that, him sort of trying to lay out the Oz rule was an attempt to guard against what he knew was going to be a lot of incoming fire that he was going to take.

Oz obviously came in attempting to portray him as radical. It was very clearly going to be the strategy. Think he knew he was not going to have the nimbleness to be able to respond to those in real time. And so, he was trying to make a sort of blanket effort to, you know, create an issue around honesty and sort of validity of Oz's attacks.

But, you know, for anyone who was coming into this, totally undecided, if you drop a voter into Harrisburg who had no engagement with this beforehand, it's hard to see them coming away terribly, terribly convinced by Fetterman there.

CAMEROTA: And we should mention that he, he was using closed captioning, so he was using, he was able to read the questions and the words rather than just hearing them because he's admitted he has auditory processing issues now because of the stroke.

And you know, Charlie, it's interesting, I've interviewed him many times as lieutenant governor and he sounds -- he sounded different before the stroke. I mean, in the interviews he was much more, sort of clear spoken than what I'm hearing now.

Here's a moment where they're talking about their differences on the economy, so let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OZ: I can make the difficult decisions as you do in the operating room as a surgeon. I'll make them cutting our budget as well to make sure we don't have to raise taxes on a population already desperately in pain from the high inflation rate.

FETTERMAN: He has never met an air or an oil company that he doesn't swipe right about. You know, he has never been able to stand up for working families all across Pennsylvania. You know, we must push back. Inflation has hurt Americans and Pennsylvania's families, and it has given the oil companies record profits.


COATES: I'm glad you played that Alisyn, though. I mean, just for your answer, because I feel like we, we've been hearing a lot about all the things he did wrong and I have, you know, no skin in the game in this particular race, but I am, I'm glad we played something that did demonstrate. I didn't think that it was something that was so problematic compared to the juxtaposition that we showed earlier.

DENT: Well, you know, it just seemed like these answers were not particularly coherent and I'm being kind when I say that. You know, on, on energy, Pennsylvania is the second largest gas producing state in the nation. I wanted to hear him explain his evolution. He couldn't do it. I support fracking. I support frack.

Well, he didn't, but he couldn't explain it. You know, we wanted to hear him talk about crime and his role on the Board of Pardons, and I didn't hear anything that explained his rationale for some of the decisions, the highly questionable decisions that he made there.


He wasn't able to articulate what it was that he stood for, and that's what was really troubling to me. And again, I feel, I almost feel very sorry for him that, you know, he's in a bad, bad way. But as a voter, I'm looking at this saying, how can I vote for somebody who I don't think is ready to do the job.

COATES: Well, what do you think, Tobin? I'm curious because you worked for the Vice President Joe Biden at the time, and truth be told, he was criticized at times for not being as nimble as he once was. Obviously, different reasons. He was criticized for the way in which he would articulate certain points, and there was always a bit of wind in the face of then candidate Biden on that very point.

When you're looking at it from that perspective, do you see the same concerns that they're talking about?

MARCUS: I think the strengths of President Biden as a campaigner line up in some ways with the strengths that Fetterman has still as a campaigner despite his impairments. I think he connects at the level of values with voters and his campaign is connected, or made that a very intentional focus.

He's kind of blue collar branding, I think does. Make some of the lack of polish a little bit forgivable to some of the voters who are inclined to support him. And I think frankly in this debate, despite what was, you know, I think objectively a rough performance by Fetterman, people who were inclined to be sympathetic to one candidate or the other, I think probably came away with enough to, you know, sort of reinforce where --


CAMEROTA: You don't think it changed the momentum.

MARCUS: I mean, you know, given how many people genuinely watch these things, it's hard for me to see this, you know, being a big inflection point in the polling given how tight things are. I mean, negative partnerships are very powerful. And people have a lot of reasons to be where they are.

This is the battle for control of the Senate, I think even more than the competence of the candidate that's going to be.

GRIFFIN: But to put a finer point on this discussion, Joe Biden is very prone to gaffes. I've been critical of gaffes and misstatements and sometimes struggling to get, you know, different sentences out. But I've never been concerned that he has a grasp on the policy issues, even if I disagree with his policies.

This was a candidate where I was genuinely unclear if he understood how to address crime, how to address the economy and inflation. And then when he did try to lob attacks on Oz, they didn't land. It didn't seem like he had a full grasp. He went after him on, he wants to cut Medicare and social security.

Oz was ready for it, and he wasn't able to articulate. So, I'm not a Pennsylvania voter, but the momentum was very, very clearly in Oz's side here.

COATES: You know, and we should know that there's already been over 640,000 pre-election votes that have already been cast.

DENT: I'm one of them.

COATES: And you, you're one of them.

DENT: Yes.

COATES: And 73 percent went to have gone they think to Democrats versus 19 percent to Republicans. So, if it's the idea that, look, the debates don't matter. I wonder to what extent this works, but there has been a really big issue as we talk about this a lot on the issue of immigration.

I mean, for those issues that have not usually been the talking points in the state of Pennsylvania compared to other places, they address that point tonight. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OZ: I understand what legal immigration offers us, but the completely porous open nature of our border, which John Fetterman supports has created a humanitarian crisis with cartels profiting with human trafficking operations. They take the money. They buy narcotics from China and bring that into our country. And it's making every state a border state.

Pennsylvania is already a border state because we're top three in the country in fentanyl overdoses.

FETTERMAN: I believe that secure border is, can be compatible with compassion. I believe we need a comprehensive and bipartisan solution for immigration. That -- that's what I believe.

I don't ever recall in the Statue of Liberty did they say, you know, you know, take our tired huddle masses and put them on a bus and use cheap political stunts about.


CAMEROTA: What'd you think, Charlie? That's a -- that was a good --


DENT: That was his best an -- that was one of his better answers of the night. But again, I just am -- I'm just still astounded. I'm still stunned by what I witnessed tonight and that, you know, and this is, and they should have had more debates by the way.

I was one of the people, and Penn is a big state. There should be at least two debates, probably three, one of the Philadelphia market, Pittsburgh market in like tonight in Harrisburg. But he didn't want to debate for an obvious reason, and we witnessed it tonight.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, he was honest about that. He was honest about why he didn't want to debate and that he would be halt, his speech would be halting and it would take him a while to process, and I think we're seeing evidence of that. But he was the lieutenant governor. I mean, he didn't come out of nowhere.

COATES: Right.

CAMEROTA: He is the lieutenant governor, so surely.

GRIFFIN: He is steeped in policy issues, oppose as --


DENT: Not really, knowing what the lieutenant governor does in Pennsylvania. I always say it's amazing what some guys will do to get a house, a driver and a swimming pool. I mean, it's, you only don't vote on policy. You can only vote on procedure and you know, and rarely do they ever vote.

COATES: But are you say, I mean, hold, I want to ask you so, Tobin, do you -- I've heard this articulated earlier today, and I think you made the point, Alyssa, I don't think we should be naive to believe that one's acumen as with respect to policies is the only determining factor for people who are running for office.


Trump was criticized for not having a command of policy compared to, say, Hillary Clinton. I mean, who is also criticized for not having the acumen compared to say, you know, Elizabeth Warren and the -- and the textbooks that she would bring out to explain the policies.

In a sense, it can be relative, but this debate and all debates are highly performative. And that's the objectivity that I think people are talking about here. That if the battle really is about, do I like him, how do you perform? That's the crux of the issue here, not that he didn't have the complete command as if it's a universal requirement.

MARCUS: Right. Absolutely. At the level of performance, I think it's very clear that Oz, quote, unquote, "won the debate." The question is whether or not that is the decisive factor in terms of how voters are looking at this.

I think you mentioned likability. I think a lot of voters who are inclined to like him anyway. Someone who's outside Washington in a very different kind of politician. I think that doesn't come away particularly shaken by this.

And you know, if he was your uncle, I think you'd be encouraged by the progress that you've seen since the stroke that he had and people who have some sympathy for him, some, you know, preexisting affinity, you know, I think probably find something to like in this.

So probably it still just comes down to what are starkly different policy platforms that the two candidates have.

CAMEROTA: All right.

MARCUS: I think there aren't a lot of people who don't know kind of, you know, which policy platform lines out.

CAMEROTA: Final thought on this.

GRIFFIN: Well, we didn't get to the abortion part of it, but I think that it was a masterful answer by Dr. Oz for a general election candidate who's moderating himself now in abortion, realizing he needs women to turn out.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and basically that answer was I would leave it to the states.


CAMEROTA: I do not want a federal ban.

GRIFFIN: And always exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother. COATES: Can you tell though how we've all lowered our standards for what it takes to be a senator? I mean, are we seeing that problem all? I mean, we didn't even talk about Georgia. You not -- we'll talk about in the break about that very notion.

CAMEROTA: All right. And let us know what you think about all this now that you've heard some of the big moments from this debate tonight between Fetterman and Oz. What are your thoughts? Tell us that and anything else you want to say to Laura and me. And I mean anything.

COATES: I mean within reason.

CAMEROTA: Tweet us, tweet us at Alisyn Camerota and the Laura Coates.



CAMEROTA: Pennsylvania Senate candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz facing off tonight in their first and only debate. It's a critical race that could determine which party controls the Senate. And some of the focus tonight was on 2024.


UNKNOWN: Mr. Oz, Donald Trump has supported you. He has endorsed you. Why won't you fully commit to supporting him in 2024?

OZ: I do. I would support Donald Trump if he decided to run for president.

UNKNOWN: Do you support a Biden run in 2024? Why? In 60 seconds.

FETTERMAN: That's honestly, it's up to his choice whether he, you know, and if he does choose to run, I would absolutely support him.


CAMEROTA: OK, well there's no one better to discuss what's at stake than presidential historian Jon Meacham. He has at times advised President Biden and is the author of the new book, "And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle."

Jon, thanks for being here.


CAMEROTA: Great to see you. You're so good at giving us the big picture. So, tell us why you think that this is the most important election since 1850.

MEACHAM: Well, I think it's the most important election easily since that period, because we are facing a stress test for the rule of law. And democracies run not just on policies, not just about what a particular policy or tax rate is. It's about an overall context of our mutual respect for each other as fellow citizens and a sanctity of law and custom.

That means that people who win elections legitimately get to serve in office. When you deplete the trust in the system, which is what is unfolding today around the country. And I will confess, as George W. Bush might say, I'm mis underestimated the power of the big lie here. But it -- it's burrowed in and democracies do not long endure if everything becomes about power at the expense of winning humbly and losing graciously.

COATES: You know, speaking of the big lie, and I thought it was really interesting in your book that you touch on this notion, I think maybe people would not -- would not occur to them that both Lincoln and Biden are grappling with, or at some point we're grappling with their own version of the big lie.

In Lincoln's case, it was the big lie that slavery was a justifiable institution that ought to be maintained. And you write in the book, there were three moments where had he succumbed to the pressure, had his vice president succumb to the pressure, had he turned over the Fort Sumter to try to placate the confederacy and delay the Civil War the course of history might be very different.

You draw these analogies in a way, I think is not always so obvious but it's fascinating to think of how and where we are today.

MEACHAM: The central question for all of us, I think, and this is about leaders and the lead and we're all on the hook for this, for the continuation of the constitutional experiment. The question is, do we put our own interests above everything else? And if you do, then this becomes a war of all against all.

And if it's all politics, as opposed to also having a moral component, and I'm not preaching here. Moral means how we are with each other. It's about custom. If we go entirely political, if it's entirely every moment is this battle where this cataclysmic, then the system doesn't endure.

So, as you, as you kindly mentioned, Abraham Lincoln, if he had been solely a politician, He would've made several -- could have made several different decisions that would probably have sustained slavery, certainly late into the 19th century and possibly into the 20th century.

Because there was a perfectly rational compromise on the table after he wins the presidency to expand slavery to the west, let it go into Arizona and New Mexico, you know, and what was America but an exercise and compromise.


Lincoln said no. And partly it's kind of like what Churchill did in 1940. He saw that appeasement had not worked. And that if in fact you gave in once more, that the south, the white south where I come from, wasn't just interested in slavery in its limited sphere. There was an ambitious plan to take slavery to add Cuba to the empire, to add Mexico, Nicaragua to build this. It's called the golden circle. And it was going to expand and it would've, fundamentally changed the

course of everything. And Abraham Lincoln, flawed, fallen, infallible, said no. And he said no, because he believed fundamentally that slavery had to die and the union had to endure.

CAMEROTA: So, Jon, why hasn't Joe Biden and the Democrats, why haven't they been able to defeat this big lie that has burrowed in, as you say, why in this, you know, in 2022, with all of the facts available at our fingertips that can debunk the notion that Donald Trump who lost the election, that it was somehow stolen from him? Why has it burrowed into this degree now?

MEACHAM: It's part of human nature. It's a miracle we've gotten this far. When you think about it, almost 250 years. I think it would've surprised the founders, and the analogy we're talking about the Civil War. Let's remember, the white south was willing to fight a war that ultimately claimed probably 750,000 lives rather than give up human slavery.

So, America didn't wake up in 1861 one morning and say, you know what? I think it's time to emancipate enter a modern world and seek an integrated society. We didn't really do that until 1965. That's the founding of the era we are in. We are sitting in a country that's about 60 years old. If you think about it, right?

Voting rights and civil rights and the immigration laws that shifted the way the country is all were in 1964 and '65. And so, there's a perennial selfishness, there's appetite, there's ambition, and the remarkable thing about the United States is that we've managed to get just enough right.

That doesn't mean we stop. That doesn't mean we're self-satisfied, but we have to remember this is a day by day, generation by generation struggle to put a more perfect union ahead of just whatever we want in this moment.

COATES: Really insightful. I mean, thinking about the founding of the country as we know it around the civil rights movement period. Really profound text as well, and of course you write about the idea of the very difficult task of trying to appeal to conservatives and liberals. The work certainly is still cut out for the modern-day president. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Jon. And the book again is, "There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and The American Struggle." Always great to talk to you, Jon. Thanks so much for being on.

MEACHAM: Thank you.

COATES: It was really interesting.

CAMEROTA: It always is. I can listen to him all day long.

COATES: But we don't have to tonight.

CAMEROTA: Or night. All night long also. (CROSSTALK)

COATES: But we've got other people to talk to as well through midnight here tonight. And it's also about, well, have you heard about reinstating with back pay. This is a story out of New York where a judge ruled that some New York workers who'd been fired for refusing to get the vaccine. Well, now they get their jobs back and with back pay. Stay with us.



COATES: So, is it a sign we're moving closer to a post-COVID America? Because today a New York state judge reinstating 16 fired New York City sanitation workers who built to comply with the city's vaccine mandate. In that ruling, the judge found the mandate to be what he called arbitrary and capricious. He also decided the fire workers should get back pay as well.

I spoke with the city's law department releasing a statement to CNN following the ruling, saying in part, the city strongly disagrees with this ruling and has already filed an appeal.

Joining us -- joining us now, he's champing at the bit to weigh in on this issue. CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, Alyssa Farah Griffin, and Tobin Marcus are also back with us.

Now, first of all, Joey, the idea of arbitrary and capricious, his point was, look, you pulled this back for the private sector employees, like an athlete, like a musician.


COATES: But public workers, you said no.

JACKSON: Absolutely so. So there has to be some uniformity, right? When you make rules, the rules have to apply to everyone, and they should apply to everyone in a rational way. You can't, for economic reasons, say, baseball season is starting. OK? So as a result of that, we're going to make an exemption for private, right, private employers and athletes, as you noted.

But when it comes to those who are first responders, those who have dawned the uniform and assisted this city, whether it's collecting trash or putting out fires or, you know, maintaining our jail system, the reality is, is that it cannot be arbitrary, Laura. It cannot be capricious. And I think the judge got it right.

You read the statement, of course, from the law department, we're going to appeal this is outrageous. But the reasoning is very sound to the extent that you have disparate treatment between two forces, right? It can't stand and it won't.

CAMEROTA: Beyond the legal argument isn't this just practical? We need workers. We certainly need sanitation workers and COVID, the height of the pandemic when something like 4,000 Americans were dying today is over. So, do you like this idea of them going back to work with back pay?


MARCUS: You know, the back pay I'll defer to the attorneys on, you know, I think the politics of this mirror the legal analysis in that, you know, we're either in the situation where we need to have these rules in place or we're not.

And I think as life has gotten back to normal, as we've gotten, you know, pretty clear messages from political leadership and a lot of relaxation of broadly applicable mandates sort of, unsustainable, I think to keep specialized rules in place for too long.

COATES: In a way they kind of used Biden. I mean, the judge in this case used President Biden's words to support his statement, essentially saying, hey, according to President Biden, the pandemic is over.

And in New York, the men at the emergency -- they have emergency ended over a month ago. So, the politics really, in a way drove this conversation.

GRIFFIN: Yes. We're out of, we're far out of the triage phase of COVID. We know that's behind us. Most Americans are going back to normal life. We're back in, you know, offices, schools, kids are back, thank God in the classroom.

The one like caution I would put on this is we're heading into the winter season. You know, I was working in the White House with the Department of Defense when the pandemic first broke out. We always see an uptick in cases in the winter season. People are forced back inside during closer quarters. So, we also shouldn't be lax and laissez faire about just the basic protocols.

We know we're going to see spikes in the winter. You still have, you know, about 400 people dying a day from COVID, so it's still here. But I agree with the ruling. It totally makes sense and we need the workers to fill the roles.


CAMEROTA: Not surprisingly, this came up. Joey, before you answer, this came up at the New York governor's debate tonight, so they have different takes on it. Here it is.


REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): I will not mandate COVID vaccines for your kids ever. I don't believe that there should be COVID vaccine mandates right now for our kids at SUNY and CUNY and community colleges and elsewhere. I believe that that mandate was wrong and that everyone who has been fired to be offered their jobs back with back pay.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): You and Donald Trump were the masterful COVID deniers. We are dealing with a real crisis and the more people get vaccinated, get those shots in arms and I would do it all over again. What I did last year.


CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Joey.

JACKSON: So, I think there's a distinction between getting vaccinated and saying it's a great idea and you absolutely should do it. And a mandate which requires that you do it. And that's the big issue here, right?

The reality is, is that vaccinations from a scientific perspective, forget about the politics, forget about red versus blue, et cetera. Vaccination saves lives. Should the government be imposing that requirement and taking it back. Last point to New York. Should you, in imposing the requirement be drawing distinctions between one for workforce versus another? Predicated upon who's drawing revenue into this city?

The people who put uniforms on are heroes. Their first responders, why are we penalizing them? But athletes, you get a pass, can't happen. Treat everyone equally, and I think we move forward.

COATES: And the fact that this was a, these were state or public sector employees, they had a due process hook on this as well, right? The idea that, look, you have to have, there's a certain property, right? Or interest in being able to have that employment that others might not, but they weren't afforded the same care.

JACKSON: Yes. Without question. So due process obviously is notice in the opportunity to be heard. And before someone from the health department imposes something upon you, you should have something to say about it. You just shouldn't get a letter in the mail saying you're fired. Right? And so, I think that played big into it in addition to the equal protection.

Similarly, situated people should be treated similarly. Remember when they taught us that in law school?

COATES: I remember it.


COATES: I remember it.

JACKSON: And that didn't happen here.

COATES: And Joey Jackson looked just as sharp in law school.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure.

JACKSON: Not at all.

CAMEROTA: This is Joey Jackson --


JACKSON: I don't look sharp now.

COATES: I'm just saying.

CAMEROTA: You, it rolls out of bed like that.

JACKSON: You were kind.

CAMEROTA: Thank you guys very much. OK. You have to stick around to hear this story because they thought they were going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for a 20-minute trip. Twenty hours later, they were still stuck there.

Up next, the family who got trapped in the Grand Canyon Caverns.



CAMEROTA: OK, Imagine getting stuck and trapped 200 feet underground in an ancient cave known as Grand Canyon Caverns in Arizona. This happened this week to one family after the elevator that took them below ground malfunctioned, and that's when they had to figure out how to get everyone up and out, including a baby, a toddler, and seniors with bad backs and niece.

Joining me now are Douglas Grashel and his stepdaughter, Sherry Jimenez, who were stranded down there.

Guys, good to see you up and doing well. Sherry, just take us through this. Your family, there were eight of you, including a five-month-old and a two-year-old. You decided to go into this cavern for a 20-minute walk because it would be easy for the whole family, for the grandparents, and for the two-year-old. It was a flat 20-minute walk. You took the elevator down into the caverns, then you took the walk, you got back into the elevator and what happened.

SHERRY JIMENEZ, STRANDED AT GRAND CANYON CAVERNS: The elevator did not move, and so they called up to the top and let them know that it wasn't working, and they said they would reset it and it still did not move.

CAMEROTA: And how long were you stuck down there?

JIMENEZ: In total, the last person out, it was 31 hours.

CAMEROTA: My gosh, 31 hours. And so, Douglas, what was -- what was their suggestion for those 31 hours for how everybody was supposed to get out?

DOUGLAS GRASHEL, STRANDED AT GRAND CANYON CAVERNS: Well, our group was the short tour and there was another long tour group that was behind us. And when the elevator failed approximately 11.30, the other group had caught up with us. And by that time, you could smell the smoke in the elevator shaft and see the smoke coming down into the cavern.

CAMEROTA: And Sherry, yes, hold on guys. Did you --


GRASHEL: Go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Did you guys have food and water down there?


GRASHEL: We had water to begin with and they brought us down food after we requested it. And then after many questions that were asked, they finally decided that besides myself, my wife, Sherry, the toddlers and the baby, there was no way in the world that we were going to be able to make it up.


GRASHEL: I've got that surgery scheduled. I've got, my wife has got two artificial knees, and is having trouble with those.

CAMEROTA: And let me just point out, because we have a picture of this. There is an emergency staircase or stairs, I guess 22 flights, and this is the picture of them, which is not comforting because basically Sherry, describe for us what those stairs, 22 flights up were like, what it would be like to climb those.

JIMENEZ: Well, your footing would be set on a steel plank that was smaller than the size of a regular ladder, and one side had a handrail that was completely open. There was no mesh or protection from the stair to the top of the handrail. It was completely open on the right side, and on the left side there was nothing, no handrail or anything at all.

CAMEROTA: And why did it take the folks who run this elevator, 31 hours to get you all out?

JIMENEZ: We, I believe they did not want to call any emergency services. We were told, we asked them to call for 911. We had no service whatsoever down there, so there was no way for us to call anybody or use the phone. So, we had told them that we want them to call emergency services, the fire departments, somebody to get us some help. And initially they declined saying that they would not come out because they have an escape route, which is the stairway within the shaft of the elevator. So.

GRASHEL: But they originally told us that the Wolford Mountain -- or not Wolford Mountain, but the Wolford Fire Department had been called at five o'clock. And they refused to come out because there was no medical emergency. They never called at five o'clock.

JIMENEZ: They never called at 12 when we -- when the smoke was there, we asked them to call and they never called. We kept -- kept insisting. Initial -- initially they said they wouldn't because they wouldn't come out. Well, after several requests, they said they did call and Peach Springs, which is the Wolford tried, declined to come out because there was no emergency medical condition that resulted in the need of their emergency services.


JIMENEZ: Nobody was dying basically or needed medical attention.


CAMEROTA: But there was, I mean, there could have been at any given moment given that you had a five-month-old baby, you know, without food and a toddler and some compromised seniors. I just want you guys to know that we did call Grand Canyon Caverns for their response and their explanation. We've not heard back yet, but we'll let you know when we do.

Douglas and Sherry, --


CAMEROTA: -- we're just -- we're happy that you guys are OK. You made it out alive, but I know that that was pretty traumatic. But thanks so much for being on and sharing your story with us.

GRASHEL: Well, there's a lot more to this story.


GRASHEL: I think if you've got about an hour or so.

CAMEROTA: Well, I don't, but I can tell that I --


GRASHEL: You come into an exclusive --

CAMEROTA: Your phone will be ringing with a Hollywood producer at any moment, I'm sure, and you guys will have a primetime movie to discuss everything that went on for those 31 hours. So just consider this the start.


GRASHEL: I just (Inaudible) this one tonight.

CAMEROTA: All right, guys.

JIMENEZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Great to talk to you.

JIMENEZ: All right.

GRASHEL: All right.

JIMENEZ: Thanks. CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.

COATES: My gosh. Literally, my eyelash popped off.

CAMEROTA: That's how --


COATES: The story, sorry. It was so -- they didn't want to stay on, they didn't want to be down there with them. They didn't want to be on my eye. I'm --

CAMEROTA: I don't know if you could see that ladder, but the ladder, It's a ladder.


CAMEROTA: It's a ladder. Basically, without a railing up 22 floors, you're carrying a five-month-old, a two-year-old. It was impossible. They had to wait. And then we have another picture of them actually having to hoist them up 22 stories in like, you know, a sort of hammock thing that they, well that, I don't know if it's that one.

But anyway, it was intense and I think that Douglas is right. There's more to that story that they will want to tell.

COATES: Yes. There's more to that story and more to how I will be there. What would you do if you got stuck in Grand Canyon Caverns? Tweet us at Alisyn Camerota and at Laura Coates and someone come fix my lash too, because it did pop off. Use the hash tag sound off CNN sound off.

CAMEROTA: Those are both emergencies.



COATES: So, when is retirement not retirement. Because became this seem like a big trend of sports heroes that are retiring, and then Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: Unretiring.

COATES: -- unretiring. Of course, there is Serena Williams who announced that the U.S. Open that she would, quote, "evolve away from tennis." Only tell the audience at a tech conference just last week, and I'm quoting here. "I'm not retired." And then there's Tom Brady whose unretirement from the NFL, may have they say, cost him his marriage to Gisele Bundchen. Whether that's true or not, we'll see.

CAMEROTA: I think it's very interesting that while much of the workforce is quiet quitting, there's --


COATES: Are they doing that?

CAMEROTA: There's notable people who are unretiring. There's got to be a happy medium between quiet, quitting and unretiring. Somewhere in there you have to be happy.


But I do think it's interesting also, you were saying that a lot of politicians --


CAMEROTA: -- are unretiring.

COATES: Are you kidding? Well, look at the governor's race in Florida. You've got Charlie Crist.

CAMEROTA: Charlie Crist, yes.

COATES: Who, by the way, unretired from the governor to then become member of Congress and then become a gubernatorial candidate again. Then you have people like --

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump.

COATES: -- or Joe Biden.

CAMEROTA: And he is considering unretiring. And Joe Biden unretired.

COATES: Joe Biden unretired again.


COATES: I mean, what is it about the power, the idea is it just, is it the public service notion?

CAMEROTA: I don't think so.

COATES: Is it the power?

CAMEROTA: It's the public service.

COATES: Maybe.

CAMEROTA: I think it's that like with Serena and Tom Brady, I think it's that when you are so identified with something, it's your identity.


CAMEROTA: And it's really hard to know what you are after that and walk away from it.

COATES: Well, and you're so good. I mean, it's not as if they, either of them are at the bottom of their game. It's, we're talking about both in their own respects, the goat. CAMEROTA: Yes, you're right. And so, why leave when you're still that


COATES: There they are. I mean, well why -- why haven't you left because you're that good?

CAMEROTA: I know. We can relate.

COATES: There you go.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let us know what you think about all of that.

COATES: Not about the goat. That's fine. Leave the goat alone.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, two weeks out from election day, major debates in hotly contested races that could determine the balance of power in Congress. And the major line of attack, well, one of them is crime. So we're going to bring you the big moments on that topic right after this.