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CNN Tonight

Axios: Extremist Groups Are Going Local To Try To Disrupt Midterms; A Man Who Drove SUV Into Waukesha Christmas Parade Was Found Guilty Of Intentional Homicide; Study: Video Gaming May Have Some Cognitive Benefits For Kids; NYT Puts Out List Of Recipe Recommendations For Election Day. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 26, 2022 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: With less than two weeks to go --


COATES: I keep saying this, 13 days. We're telling you, 13 days, people, 13 days until the midterm elections. Really, today we'll know a lot more. So maybe, still -- okay. Anyway, I'll move on.

The midterms are coming in 13 days. We've got mayors and law enforcement officials who are getting a new warning, sadly, about election intimidation. We got extremists who are looking to disrupt the midterms at the local level, targeting voters, targeting candidates, targeting election workers, all according to Axios.

CAMEROTA: Okay, let's bring in our panel. We have CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller, New York Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

So, this is so disturbing, guys. Obviously, when we think of extremism, I think we think in terms of, you know, January 6th, the insurrection, something on a national scale. Locally, there are all sorts of examples of people being unintimidated and just awful things happening.

Here are a few examples. Again, this comes from Axios. In 50 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties, election chiefs have left because of threats, harassment and intimidation. In Idaho, protesters hung an effigy at a Republican candidate's home. A Democratic candidate in eastern Washington State was shot with a BB gun while putting up campaign signs. These are just a few examples.

Congressman, it's so -- I mean, being in politics, I don't have to tell you, is a real blood sport now and it's really scary what's happening around right before the midterms.

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): It is, and we see most of the political violence aimed by the right wing towards liberal or progressive members of Congress and, of course, down the ballot at the state and local level.

This is not the first set of examples of this. We saw Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, nearly be harmed by someone who is standing outside of her home, waving a gun around. Of course, we saw what happened on January 6th, and there are so many examples in between.

And this is something, especially in the context of elections, that is part of a strategy by the GOP to intimidate, in particular, Democratic-leaning voters against, you know, casting -- exercising their constitutional right to vote.

CAMEROTA: But there are examples of Republicans also been intimidated and harassed.

JONES: I would like to hear more about that. I think, at this point, there's only one major political party that is pro-democracy that is trying to have safe and secure elections.

COATES: Let me say that the impact of this is not a theoretical and esoteric debate. That's where you hear about democracy in peril as an overarching theme.

We're talking about election offices that are now having bulletproof glass. They are having, you know, active shooter training in recognition of this. People leaving and saying, look, I'm not -- this is not worth it. The idea of thinking about it's not worth it to man these election booths or election workers for those reasons.

I mean, you even have Chief Ramsey, who is advisor to the Conference of Mayors, saying, look, I suggest you prioritize your 9-1-1 calls to the election booth on these days knowing what crime is like right now. I mean, this is what we're after.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this is not the same country it was six years ago when Donald Trump -- seven years ago when Donald Trump came down the escalator. I mean, there are isolated examples of conservative politicians being targeted by liberal critics.

But, as a mass phenomenon, we are talking about the manifestation of election denialism in the Republican Party being operationalized in a lot of different ways. Some of these laws making it tougher to vote. But now, we are seeing it as well in this systematic harassment that is developing.

I mean, the images of those men in tactical gear with automatic weapons surveilling a drop box and questioning voters as they, you know, exercise their institutional rights, is a symbol of where this is potentially going unless law enforcement and prosecutors at all level can make a really strong statement.

I mean, two-thirds or three quarters of Republican voters say they believe the 2020 election was stolen and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. That are tens of millions of people. Fifty- five percent of Republican voters consistently say in polls that the traditional way of American life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to statement. That are tens of millions of people.

Now, only a small fraction of them may act on those sentiments in an inappropriate way but that is still a large number of people. Unless the signals become more clear, the kinds of threats that you're talking about are going to become more routine in our political life than we have seen at any point since probably reconstruction.


COATES: John, the point is -- I mean, look, law enforcement has a role to play, right, if there is a threat, if crime obviously is on the rise in many places. But if there is a real and clear and present danger on election day, what is being done to prepare for it?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I think, first, you are seeing threat reporting. One of the things we did not see, and we talked about that at this table one night not long ago before January 6th, was a threat assessment for January 6th for the certification of the vote despite all of the intel that was coming in that there were going to be large crowds, armed crowds, militias, white supremacists.

So, you are going to see a threat assessment for election day, probably a joint seal piece from the DHS and the FBI. But I also think you will see a threat stream coming through. So, first thing is, we are already seeing a heightened awareness by the reporting we are looking at now. Second thing is, you are going to see coordination with law enforcement agencies and police departments.

But as was just pointed out, this is not your father's election or even our election from not that long ago. You know, we used to have the system where we count the votes up overnight, and then we wake up in the morning and find out who won.

The new system, and this is not a secret operation, this is where Steve Bannon went on his podcast, they laid this out, and you have to separate a couple of things here, which is get jobs as poll watchers, set up videotape and everything, collect and keep those tapes even if it doesn't look like something. If we don't like the result, we can pull out the tapes and say we have tapes.

Get jobs better not as poll watchers but poll workers because when you get those jobs, you have more power and more access, more things you can do to step in or interfere or move things. Focusing on elections for things like district attorneys --


MILLER: -- and secretaries of states.

CAMEROTA: And they're doing that.

COATES: Yeah. CAMEROTA: It's all happening. Steve Bannon laid out the playbook. It is all happening. And there is nothing that law enforcement can do about those things. I mean, certainly not poll watchers.

COATES: How about Congress? I mean, honestly --

MILLER: Look at those places where they are sitting there with -- and states with open carry laws --

COATES: That's right.

MILLER: -- where the poll watchers are watching with weapons. That is intimidating.

COATES: I mean, we have a member of Congress here. The idea of what January 6th was intended to do, which is in part to look into what led up to, and your point is well taken, the idea of the potential to repeat and maybe even go beyond some things we saw. Is this just on local law enforcement to do something about this?

JONES: No, it's not. In fact, there was a bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which I was proud to coauthor, that passed the House, but because of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and unanimous opposition from the GOP, did not pass.

One of the provisions in that that is not talked about nearly as much as other provisions is that it would criminalize the intimidation of poll workers and also create a private right of action for those poll workers to then sue in court, in addition to empowering the attorney general of the United States to combat the misinformation or disinformation that oftentimes motivates the intimidation that we have seen.

I want to add something to what John was saying earlier. You know, this didn't just start because of an increase in voting by mail. I mean, if there had been only in-person voting in connection with the 2020 presidential election, my Republican colleagues and the standard bearer of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, would still be pushing the big lie that is oftentimes led to the incidents that you were talking about, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And also, I just want to say one more thing, that if we start to think of January 6th as a dry run, it feels as though, congressman, just as you outlined, we have not put in the guardrails to fix it for the midterms or for the next presidential race. That is what we could have spent the past few years doing. But it sounds like we have not done that.

JONES: Oh, it is one of the things that people have been working on. I mean, there is an attempt to reform the Electoral Count Act.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I keep hearing about the Electoral Count Act, but that is not going to fix all of this stuff.

COATES: You mean the short run versus the long term?

JONES: And indeed, you can't address all behavior through legislation. I mean, that is why it is so important to have real leadership in Congress and in other elected offices and on television, and we are not seeing that from one side of the political spectrum.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, right, you could have had the provisions in H.R. 1 that the congressman was talking about. John Ossoff worked on about protecting election workers. You can have all sorts of safeguards in the Electoral Count Act.

But as long as you have a huge number of people who have been convinced that this election was stolen, and when you don't have a clear statement from the leaders of that party, that A, the election wasn't stolen, and B, that the use of violence to advance political goals is always wrong -- I remember talking to Elizabeth Neumann who is the assistant secretary for these kinds of threats at DHS under Donald Trump, who said the most important thing in turning off this cycle of violence are clear messages from the political leaders of the movement saying it is unacceptable.


And when you have Trump talking about the January 6th, the people in jail essentially as political prisoners or other Republicans minimizing what happened that day, that is the opposite message. The law enforcement and even legislation is not going to be able to turn back this dial without a clear unequivocal message, and we are just not getting that.

COATES: You guys heard about this "constitutional sheriff" movement. It's a fringe group that believes that local sheriffs have absolute power over elections. To me, I put it under the category, John, of election vigilantism like what we are seeing in places like Arizona and beyond.

Are you concerned because, as Ron is talking about, the idea of a leader being able to shut it off, to some people, we might be beyond the idea of turning that switch, flipping that switch typically in vigilantism? What are the concerns you have about that?

MILLER: So, we are in the most brutal political time in America, in a couple of generations. But sheriffs are unique in law enforcement in America because they are elected, which usually means they are member of one party or another. Sometimes, from county to county, this sheriff will be republican and that one will be a Democrat.

But they are also the chief law enforcement officer of that county and the more rural you get, the more the sheriff is the police as opposed to small police departments with the county sheriff. So, that's one concern. The sheriffs are already in politics to get their jobs. And the expectation is that once you are elected to sheriff, politics goes aside and you go by your oath to enforce the law.

COATES: How is that working out overtime?

MILLER: Well, so this is going to be uncomfortable with this constitutional sheriff's business, and we will have to watch that closely.

I'll tell you, the other dirty little secret is cops hate election day because when people start fighting at the polls, you are too close, you broke the rules, you did this, no matter which way the officer who is on the scene goes, they're either going to say, well, you are secretly a Trumpy or you're a tool of the government or you're -- so, it's very uncomfortable for them, but I think in this election, you're going to see a lot of law enforcement presence as a deterrent.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, gentlemen. Frightening.

COATES: It really is, and we're 13 days away.

BROWNSTEIN: Thirteen days in October.

COATES: I'm just saying --

BROWNSTEIN: Thirteen days in October, as Bobby Kennedy once said.

COATES: Speaking of a correlation of politics and crime, frankly, a Wisconsin man was found guilty today of killing six people with an SUV at a Christmas parade last year. Why is it somehow being used politically? Well, there is an attack at and a lot of it is being used to target Mandela Barnes, who is running for Senate from Wisconsin, and the larger issue about Democrats on crime.




COATES: The man who drove an SUV into the Waukesha Christmas parade was found guilty today of six counts of intentional homicide. Forty- year-old Darrell Brooks now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. But the horrific Waukesha attack has now also become a hammer for Republicans trying to portray Democratic Senate nominee Mandela Barnes as weak on crime.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): What happens when criminals are released because bail is set dangerously low.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Tragedy in Waukesha, an SUV plows through the city's Christmas parade.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Six people were killed and dozens more injured.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Brooks was freed from jail on $1,000 bail.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Mandela Barnes wants to end cash bail completely. He wrote the bill. Barnes still wants to end cash bail today. Mandela Barnes, not just a Democrat.


COATES: Every time I see the footage of that, it's unbelievable.


COATES: I take my kids to Christmas parades all the time. It is unbelievable to see. Well, the Milwaukee DA said last year that Brooks was given a low bail as a result of human error. And in 2021, CNN fact-check has found that bill reform is not clearly linked to a recent spike in crime.

We are back now to discuss this with John Miller, Congressman Mondaire Jones, and Ron Brownstein. I mean, gentlemen, it goes without saying there is the specific car and tragedy of what happened at that parade. There is the larger issue as well regarding the way in which this notion of who is soft on crime plays around elections and has a very political, pointed perspective.

And I wonder, for the voters, they know who's right. And how do you approach to try to bridge the gap between the talking point, which goes very visceral, and the facts? Crickets? Exactly. That's the point I'm making.

BROWNSTEIN: No, here, look, I'll start. Criminologists, I think, in any branch of social science, will say that it is extremely difficult to explain the long-term trends and why crime rises and falls. And when you get down to specific cases like this, the causation and the strain of events becomes even more complex because you can make an argument, I think, that this case is in fact a good justification for moving away from cash bail.

CAMEROTA: Why? How does that work?

BROWNSTEIN: Because this person -- under Wisconsin law, you are not allowed to consider the risk that a person causes to the community when setting bill.


The only issue you are allowed to consider is whether they show up.

CAMEROTA: But how --

BROWNSTEIN: Hold on! It doesn't make sense. A DA -- a DA set an obviously inappropriately low bail.

CAMEROTA: A thousand dollars.

BROWNSTEIN: Terrible. The argument -- but the argument --

MILLER: When the DA set the insanely low bail of $1,000, it was for assault, battery, resisting arrest and bail jumping. How do you set a low bail for a person who just (INAUDIBLE)?

BROWNSTEIN: The reform the Barnes proposed, which has been implemented in other places around the country, would replace cash bail with a risk assessment system in which the risk to the community would explicitly be part of the decision before the judge on whether to let somebody off.

There are voices on the left like the ACLU that have opposed this change in some places because they think it will lead to more people remaining in jail.

If you move from a -- essentially a system that says, we are going to keep you here unless you can afford to pay, to one that says, we are explicitly going to include the degree of risk that you post in the decision on whether to let you out. Now, you can argue about whether that's the right system or not --


BROWNSTEIN: -- but it does -- in many ways, its impact is the exact opposite of what the ad is suggesting.

COATES: Normally, prosecutors, we consider that. We consider the idea of the risk to the community. Flight risk is one of them as well, all sorts of things. It's always interesting to think about the specifics of Wisconsin being different on that notion.

MILLER: New York is barred from considering dangerousness.

COATES: Well, that's ridiculous.

MILLER: The judge in New York City has to consider what is the likelihood to return to court --


MILLER: -- but if you determine factually that the person is clearly a danger to the community, you are specifically prohibited by law --

CAMEROTA: Congressman, how does that make sense?

JONES: Well, it doesn't because, I'll admit something, and that is under New York State law, a judge, because of an amendment that Kathy Hochul presided over as governor, can now look at the seriousness of the harm, of the crime for which the person was convicted. And so, that is a very important piece.

But, you know, a lot of folks don't understand the purpose of bail. You know, as a former prosecutor. The purpose of bail is not to prematurely adjudicate or determine someone's guilt or innocence before they've had their day in court. The point of bail is to ensure that someone shows up again in court at the next court date.

CAMEROTA: I'm glad you clarified that. But if somebody is a danger to the community, they shouldn't be out.

JONES: I agree that completely.

CAMEROTA: And so, I don't know how we got here.

COATES: Let's be clear.


COATES: It's bail and bond conditions. These two things are corollaries, right? There's the bail and there is the bond, meaning that you'll be held, pending your trial for other factors, and that's the nuance in one part.

JONES: So, under New York State law, and I don't purport to be an expert because I'm not a state legislature, but I do know a few things. One is that the frequency of criminality is now taken into consideration, as well as the seriousness of the harm for which a person has been convicted. And that gets at the analysis that you are talking about when you talk about sort of risk of doing public harm.

But let's be clear, before cash bail reform in places like New York State and elsewhere, plenty of people who are guilty of crimes obtain freedom quite quickly because of their wealth, because they can pay, mostly white people.

MILLER: I'm sorry, can we get to the dirty little secret here?


MILLER: Number one, before criminal justice reform, we had the lowest crime in recorded history in New York City, the lowest prison population in a generation and the fewest number of arrests. After criminal justice reform, shootings doubled, murder went up by 38%, prison populations increased. And here is the secret.

COATES: Can you be specific about how you define reform? What is a reform? It is a pretty --

MILLER: It was so much more sweeping than just bail reform. It was a series of discovery law changes, bail reform, entire sets of charges that you are no longer allowed to arrest somebody. You could just give them a ticket. So, this came at a package in the middle of the night, stuck into a budget bill and passed.

But here is the secret. Prior to this, when we had all that low crime and low prison populations, low jail populations, both, 85% of people arrested by the New York City Police Department went to arraignment and walked out of the courthouse either n a low bail that they could afford or released on their own recognizance.

So, logic dictates that the judge looked at that 15% and said, there's a reason this person needs to go in, and everything was working. And now, they've removed any kind of judgment in that regard and --

CAMEROTA: Meaning that that 15% now is walking out, you think?

MILLER: Yeah. And I mean, to pick up on the congressman's point, if you look at places where they eliminated cash bail and things like that, they say, you know, 90% of the people return to court, which is true.

[23:25:02] That means 10% of them don't, which means that is probably that same percentage that the judges were saying, these guys are A, probably not going to come back, and B, based on their record like this Waukesha guy with his arrests and gun arrests and everything else, will probably be out committing crimes --

COATES: I don't think it is fair to have the pure cause and effect of -- criminal justice reform means increase in crime.

MILLER: No, no, no, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is criminal justice reform can't be just thrown together by a bunch of defense lawyers and civil rights advocates written into a bill and then passed in the dark of night. Criminal justice reform comes about when you say, we are going to bring everybody, I got the judges, the prosecutors, the cops and the lawyers, we are going to hash this out and come up with something that makes sense.

JONES: They did that. They did that --

MILLER: That --

JONES: Just because a prosecutor doesn't agree with the final outcome didn't mean that they weren't consulted.

MILLER: If that happened, I want to know where I was that day because that meeting never happened.

JONES: They should have made sure to invite you.


BROWNSTEIN: I can't speak in detail on New York State, but the fact is crime rates declined from the early 90s till about 2014. They started going up in 2014, which was before most of -- almost any of these criminal justice reforms. Twenty-fourteen is the pivot point.

MILLER: In New York City --

BROWNSTEIN: I am talking about nationally.

MILLER: Nationally.

BROWNSTEIN: For violent crime rates, 2014 is the pivot point. Started going up then. I don't think criminologists still have an exact explanation of why. And as we talked about last night, in the most detailed study that has been done that came out recently by seven criminologists, murder rates went up faster in the cities with hardline traditional prosecutors over the last five years.

That doesn't mean that the prosecutors are reducing crime. It means that there are so many factors that go into whether crime rises or falls that it is, I think, very difficult to pinpoint one and say, yes, this is the pivot that is driving things forward.


MILLER: -- go for advice on how to deal with crime is a criminologist.

CAMEROTA: Is a criminologist.

MILLER: They are fantastic at admiring the problem but every solution they ever gave us never really worked.

JONES: Yeah, but data and research matter, right? And so, the Manhattan DA today published something showing that murders in Manhattan had been down year to date 24%. Shootings have been down in Manhattan year to date 18%.

And that does not mean that people don't have a right to feel and to actually be safe in New York City. I think that more of my progressive colleagues need to speak to and acknowledge that fear that people feel. They feel it in my family. And I know they feel it across the city and throughout this country.

But I think that it is a mistake to say that reforms that are meant to create a legal system that is more equitable and that reduces the racial disparities and discrimination and wealth disparities that we see when it comes to cash bail, in particular, is the cause or are the cause of the uptick in crime that we have seen throughout this country concentrated, frankly, in eight out of those 10 states that you just mentioned and states led by Republicans.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, there are a lot of factors --


MILLER: -- make sense.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I think that your argument is super compelling, and I always appreciate when you make it because you have been on the frontlines, and so you saw it happen. But, of course, there are all sorts of factors, as you guys point out.

Thank you, gentlemen, very much. Obviously, we will continue to have this conversation for the next 13 days.

MILLER: How long is it until election day?

CAMEROTA: Thirteen. Okay, now to something possibly a little lighter. If you are worried about your kids --

MILLER: It could be anything.

CAMEROTA: It could be anything. If you are worried about your kids playing video games, we have good news for you. A new study finds that kids who play video games for three or more hours a day may have better cognitive skills than kids who don't play them at all. The teens and tweens at home will be happy. Go wake them up. Tell them about this. We will tell you about the study, next.

COATES: Did your kids write this?

CAMEROTA: Sounds like it. MILLER: I don't have to wake them up. They are up playing video


CAMEROTA: That's right. We will be right back.

MILLER: Thank you.




CAMEROTA: For decades, parents have worried about whether video games are rotting their kids' brains. But a new study finds that gaming may actually help improve cognition and impulse control in kids.

Listen to this. It is the largest study of its kind. It looks at data from close to 2,000 kids age nine and ten, and it found that children who play games for more than three hours a day, which I think is quite high, had higher levels of activity in parts of the brain associated with attention and memory than those who did not play video games.

Okay, so here with us, we have former Obama White House senior director Nayyera Haq, former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth, and Ron Brownstein is back with us. Nayyera, as our producer, Maria, said, was this study commissioned by 12-year-old boys?


CAMEROTA: Either conducted or commissioned by 12-year-old boys. No, it was the National Institute of Health. And so, I'm stunned because I'm one of the parents who have been saying that it rots your brain and to stop it. I also just think like socially and for human interaction, it is not good, but maybe it's better than I thought it was.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: I think games have changed over the years, too, right? It is important to separate the biology of what we know versus the cultural changes, too. We all, clearly, are now part of a generation where you have to work your thumbs and that's to societies advantage.

But the video games that we grew up with, and I'm dating myself here, were relatively violent and solo operations. But in the pandemic, we saw these younger boys having to use the internet, Twitch, land parties, to be able to build these connections and maintain networks at a time when girls, frankly, in junior high in high school were struggling because their social networks imploded.


The challenge, I think, and I'm really curious about exactly what games were studied, is it something like Minecraft that involves world building and deep thought and almost spatial organization? Are these first-person shooter games where boys are largely getting together and often subjecting each other to racist and violent commentary along the way?

COATES: I have a nine-year-old, and I think he may have done the study, I give him a 30-minute limit on his game, I really do. I got to tell you, I wonder from the study (INAUDIBLE). You know, the idea where people having higher cognitive response, since we're talking about attention and memory and impulse control, because they were already more prone to doing, so maybe they were drawn to these games, or was it that something about cause and effect? Either way, I feel very validating as a mother today.

CAMEROTA: Oh, because --

COATES: Because there's a lot of judgment from other parents who were like, your kids watch television? I'm like, yeah, because mom is on it. And also, yeah, you play video games. I played them all when I was a kid. But I mean, it's not the worst thing. But yet, competing studies, right, Donte, between those who say, no, it's hard, it rots your brain. Now, they're telling you, go ahead.

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think, you know, the more we know, the more research that we have, the more studies that come up, we'll find out more about what these do, especially long term in these kids.

So, you know, when we have all these different studies, I think it's really important to be open to these because you never know what types of cognitive skills these kids are learning at such a young age that could benefit them, you know, later on down the road and in turn benefit society as well.

HAQ: Here is where we, as parents, my child is six, so we're still being introduced to this idea of there's some violent action figures as well as Daniel Tiger. We're still in that universe.


HAQ: But moving on and growing up, as parents, understanding that is an entirely different universe. It is not the super Nintendo plug it in, plug out. There is a life, a social existence, entire worlds they are building that, as parents, we do need to understand and have insight into.

BROWNSTEIN: My kids are a little older, but I remember when they were young and everyone was hopeful that video games was going to make everyone a fighter pilot, have incredible hand-eye coordination and super quick reactions.

So, my reaction to this is more like video games are only one small slice of the inputs that shape the interests and aptitudes of kids, and it is a significant part of their life.

CAMEROTA: If they're playing it three hours a day, it is.

BROWNSTEIN: But there's a lot of other things. And I suspect that it will neither be the salvation or the sinking of this generation any more than it was the last. COATES: The only way you can be a tough fighter pilot is to know where the movie comes from, I have the need, the need for speed.



COATES: I don't know what education he's having. But I will say, I had a parent-teacher conference with my kids' teacher --


COATES: -- my own kids' teacher, and the statement was, you know, she was complaining about the Mac. They use a lot of computer-based programs and they don't have instructions on them. And it's the kids have to figure out for themselves what they're being asked and what the next steps are.

And I said, how can that work? You have this program. They said, well, look, look at video games. Kids are figuring those out with very little instruction. They're not like parents who are going through and saying, okay, how do you -- which is the controller, what's happening now? It is being repeated in a way as a second layer of how you understand even in the subject matters in school.


HAQ: And as games become more about strategy and teamwork, we're actually finding that there are more girl gamers than there are young boy gamers. So, we break that stereotype that it's only young boys, isn't proving true, but the challenges they're facing absolutely may reflect the challenges they're facing into society writ large except they're facing them in a silo that we are not hearing and we don't have access to help them process this at a younger age.

CAMEROTA: But I do like what you're saying. I have forgotten that, that it is not just the solitary anymore. And so, as you said, during COVID, my son would be connecting with his cousin or with friends and they would be together playing Minecraft or whatever.

BROWNSTEIN: There are tournaments, right, where people watch other people playing video games.

CAMEROTA: In a stadium, like a video game.

COATES: By the way, some are getting a lot of money for this idea.

CAMEROTA: Yes, they are.

COATES: E-games?

CAMEROTA: E-sports.

COATES: E-sports is a huge phenomenon. It is unbelievable.

BROWNSTEIN: I remember in 2020, there was a political organization that tried to advertise in some of the virtual spaces. I don't remember exactly how they did it. But in these kinds of shared communities that people were creating, the young people were creating, and they tried to find ways to like put in register to vote. You know, go out to vote in there.

HAQ: The Biden campaign was present in Animal Crossing.


BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, right.

HAQ: Like that was an active investment on the digital side.


CAMEROTA: Are you like, why did I bother having to play football? Why did I do this?

STALLWORTH: Yeah, it seems like that. They wouldn't have hurt that much. I was okay in that but I think I did okay.

CAMEROTA: I know a lot about this because of Ms. Pacman and asteroids. Those were the ones that I was playing. You guys have never even heard of them, have you?

COATES: You're in my generation if you know how to end this did-it- did-did-it-did.


CAMEROTA: Wow, this is a Stanton presser (ph).

COATES: I'm very touched, though. I'm a little emotional about that.

CAMEROTA: I can see that.

COATES: That was wonderful. And election day is 13 days away. Thirteen. Don't forget to go to the polls and don't forget your shopping list. We are going to talk all about election day comfort foods and --

CAMEROTA: It's a real thing. There's actually election day food. We will tell you about it.




COATES: Well, we know our politics are very polarized in this country. It feels like, well, election day is becoming another sport. Kind of a super bowl, if you will, of politics. So, we are gathering with family and friends to watch the returns. We may need to have some special election day comfort food. At least "The New York Times" thinks so. They're out with a list featuring dozens of recipes, everything from French onion mac and cheese to brick layer-style nachos to empanadas and cookies. They're talking about this as election day food recipes.

CAMEROTA: Let me just understand this. Is this basically Super Bowl meets Fourth of July? Is that what election day food is?

CAMEROTA: I don't know.

CAMEROTA: It's just like fatty comfort food is what we're going need on election day. Let's bring back our panel. Ron, obviously, you have some sort of election day ritual. What do you eat on election day?

BROWNSTEIN: I was looking at these recipes, and I thought they kind of like failed to incorporate the amount of stress that Americans are already feeling on election day.

CAMEROTA: And now it will just be a big bowl of booze (ph).

BROWNSTEIN: This is like heart attack on a stick. I mean, like most of these recipes, you sort of put them in an environment where people are already under a lot of stress? They probably need the booze except I'm not sure that will be so great around midnight either, right, the way elections are going.

COATES: It's things like Mexican hot dogs, butternut squash pasta with bacon.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

COATES: Tater tot casserole. Thank you, Midwest. Also, rice crispy treats, pumpkin blondies. My favorite, southern mac and cheese.

HAQ: There's a Georgian, the country of Georgia, not the state of Georgia, cheesy bread thing that --

CAMEROTA: Come on, there is one answer for this. Any day, nachos. That is the answer.

BROWNSTEIN: I think it made it --

CAMEROTA: Right? I mean, for comfort food, for the Super Bowl, for any day, nachos -- what day aren't nachos right for?

COATES: Donte is laughing, that any of this is Super Bowl.


STALLWORTH: I actually see the similarities. I think the midterms are essentially like the playoffs, the lead up to the presidential election. The presidential election is like the Super Bowl. So --

HAQ: We can only hope that America writ large would pay attention and participate and come together around elections as a ritual.

BROWNSTEIN: People voted in 2020, which is approximately how many people watched the Super Bowl.

HAQ: Is that right?

BROWNSTEIN: One hundred and sixty million people voted. I think the Super Bowl -- we should look it up here as somebody grab their phone. I think the Super Bowl is like 106 because we always used to say that more people watch the Super Bowl then voted, and I think it actually kind of converge.

HAQ: That was the comparison --

BROWNSTEIN: I've never seen that.

COATES: Looking to the January 6, remember that was in terms of how many people. But this also tells you when they're eating for the Super Bowl, Donte, right, it is like the idea of the fraternization (ph), the idea of excited, it's the commercials at times, no offense as well. This is also about anxiety. This is anxiety eating. They are talking about this, right?

STALLWORTH: Yeah, yeah, especially when you don't know the outcome, right? We go into some elections and we kind of think that, oh, this person is definitely going to win or my person is definitely going to win.

CAMEROTA: But then it doesn't happen.

STALLWORTH: And then it doesn't happen and the comfort food is there to reel you back into reality.

CAMEROTA: It says 99 million.

BROWNSTEIN: So, there you go. More people --

CAMEROTA: More people voted.

BROWNSTEIN: Maybe dropping. It used to be over hundred million.

HAQ: But I love the idea of this ritual and coming together, but I will say this, there's a deep history to this, 1771. So, even before, you know, everything came together as a country, election cake was a thing.

CAMEROTA: Oh, and what is it?

HAQ: It's a yeasty cake with spices and nuts to help preserve it and it was started in Connecticut and shared with people who were coming to town for the vote count. So, you know, food is a ritual thing. It's how we come together. But to Ron's point, I will say --

COATES: Girl, you lost me at yeasty cake.

HAQ: It is like a doughnut kind of yeasty cake. To Ron's point, it sounds like a great number of participation in an election, but that is still for developing world. We ranked 30 out of 35 for participation. So, the number of people who could be voting and participating, like 20%, are like, well, it wasn't very important this time.

CAMEROTA: Again, I think nachos can only help.


BROWNSTEIN: We are 1:10 to 1:15, usually. That's what they historically were.


BROWNSTEIN: And now, like everything else, it has been faction in it (ph).


CAMEROTA: We've learned a lot of fun facts here today. Thank you all very much. It's time for you to sound off. We will read your tweets, next.


CAMEROTA: Okay, it's time to sound off. Here's what viewers are saying tonight. This says, I voted today. I am a proud Democrat. I voted for Democrats, independents and Republicans alike. I vote on character and honesty. Not one person or one party can fix the problems we have. It's going to take a collective people.

COATES: Okay, I appreciate that. Everyone says, tacos and CNN. There is no better combination. You know, I agree, but you like the nachos.

CAMEROTA: I like that combination. That's delicious. Here is one, I think, directly at me.


Or champagne, Aly?


COATES: That's a good one. That's a good one.

CAMEROTA: Why not champagne and nachos?

COATES: Well, it depends on maybe if you're in a festive mood to celebrate the champagne, right? And also, of course, this one, you know where to find us, everyone, @thelauracoates and @alisyncamerota.

CAMEROTA: Are you (INAUDIBLE) right now?

COATES: Oh, no. There is one person who's laughing about that Mario soundtrack.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes, I heard that. Somebody was saying that they love that. Hold on, there's one more that I want to read too. A great red wine, well-aged cheese, crackers and grapes, your election coverage is one of the best, And I am Canadian. COATES: (INAUDIBLE). One more, it's, I'm a Jim Crow baby. Intimidation

won't work with me. I will vote with pride, not fear.


COATES: (INAUDIBLE), everyone. You know where to find us, @thelauracoates and @alisyncamerota. I'm going to get nachos. Thanks for watching.

CAMEROTA: Our coverage continues.