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GOP Senate Candidate O'Dea Opposes Raising Age Limit For Buying Semiautomatic Weapons To 21; Arizona & Michigan GOP Robocalls Push Voting By Mail Despite Candidates & Parties Bashing It; Nets GM On Kyrie Irving: "We Are Having Discussions," Including Talks With Anti- Defamation League. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 01, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All of you, who have listened, more than a thousand of you, left voicemails, for me, telling me about your loved ones, who died, and what you've learned, through their loss, and through your grief, and what's helped you survive.

Listening to your messages, it has been incredibly profound and inspiring. And that's what I made the podcast, out of, this last one, for the season. So, I want to thank you for all of that, for telling me about your pain, and your grief, and your love.

The episode is called "You're Not Alone," comes out tomorrow, on Apple Podcasts, wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find the link, in my Instagram page, @andersoncooper.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Jake Tapper and CNN TONIGHT.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're just one week away, from the critical midterm elections. One week. And in this final stretch of these races, one key issue, for voters, is now surging to the front of the pack of issues, according to polls, and that issue is crime.

Tonight, we're going to try to explain why this issue seems to be resonating, with so many voters, and we'll investigate whether the perception of rising crime matches reality.

So, let's begin by examining this through the lens of one particular high-profile assault. David DePape, the man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, last week, he entered a not guilty plea, just a few hours ago, to all state charges, during his initial court appearance.

According to the alleged assailant's own words, quoted in an affidavit, DePape's main target was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A sharer of far-right conspiracy theories, DePape allegedly intended to break her kneecaps, with a hammer.

Today, DePape's attorney, addressed reporters, outside the courtroom.


ADAM LIPSON, DAVID DEPAPE'S ATTORNEY: There's also been a lot of speculation, regarding Mr. DePape's vulnerability to - to misinformation.


TAPPER: Now, this story is one, about misinformation, about the risks of deranged conspiracy theories and dehumanizing political rhetoric. But this is also a story about crime. It's a story about a deranged person, breaking into the home of a woman, he sought to harm, and attacking her husband.

The notion that violent crime is on the rise has left millions of Americans scared, and the GOP has tried to harness the power of that fear. Top Republicans condemned the Pelosi attack. They disputed that rhetoric played any role, and instead pointed the finger, entirely, at the issue of rising violent crime rates.


RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: If this weren't Paul Pelosi, this criminal would probably be out on the street tomorrow.

This is what Democrat policies are bringing.


TAPPER: It's a potent issue that Democratic consultants tell me has been effectively used, against their Senate nominees, in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, as well as other Democrats, elsewhere.

More than $98 million, this election cycle, has been focused, by Republicans, on ads, attacking Democrats, on crime. That's about $22 million more than Republicans spent on ads attacking Democrats on inflation.

Now, each ad, of course, making the case, in 30-second sound bites that Democratic policies on crime make us all less safe.


SHERIFF JAMES JOHNSON, OZAUKEE COUNTY, WI: Take it from us. Mandela Barnes' policies are a threat to your family.

SHERIFF ERIC SEVERSON, WAUKESHA COUNTY, WI: Barnes wants to defund our Police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Violent crime, terrorizing New York. But while Police fight to put criminals behind bars, Sean Patrick Maloney fought to let them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lying politician Gabe Vasquez wants to defund the Police. We can't trust him to keep us safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, every one of those ads can and should be fact-checked.

But the bigger question for us tonight is this. Is life in America, actually more dangerous than it used to be? Here's what we know, about crime, at the national level. After years of decline, national rates of violent crime did rise, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 2019 and 2020, the Trump years, the U.S. homicide rate rose about 30 percent. That's the highest increase recorded in modern history. Then, in 2021, during Biden, the homicide rate rose 4.3 percent, according to the FBI.

But the overall violent crime rate, not only counting homicides, all violent crime, well, that actually declined by 1 percent, nationally, according to the FBI. So, nationally, it appears homicides are up. The overall violent crime rate is slightly down.

Regionally, though, where you live? Well, that's a mixed bag. Take Oklahoma, where the Democratic candidate for governor, Joy Hofmeister, she's the one running against Republican incumbent, Kevin Stitt, on the issue of crime.


JOY HOFMEISTER, (D) OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR NOMINEE: Let's talk about the facts. The fact is, the rates of violent crime are higher in Oklahoma--

GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): It's not true.

HOFMEISTER: --under your watch--

STITT: It's not true.

HOFMEISTER: -than in New York and California. That's a fact.

STITT: Oh, my gosh!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have that fact-checked by The Frontier superintendent.


TAPPER: Hofmeister was mocked, by her Republican opponent, and even questioned by the moderator. But when The Frontier, the Oklahoma City newspaper, fact-checked her, she was right.

And Oklahoma is hardly alone. The Major Cities Chiefs Association says, in the first six months of this year, robberies and aggravated assaults, increased in cities of more than 500,000 people. But this is where statistics can often be used to make whatever point you want to make.

The Major City Chiefs Association says murders are down in aggregate in the 70 urban areas, they looked at. But for 30 of those 70, murders are up, and those include Atlanta. There're big races in Georgia right now. And Denver, big races in Colorado. Milwaukee, Governor and Senate seats, on the line, in Wisconsin.

When crime rates go up, local prosecutors pushing criminal justice reform policies, they often get blamed. Is that fair? It's usually a lot more complicated than that.

Take Boston, where the District Attorney stopped prosecuting non- violent offenses. What happened there? Violent crime decreased by 15 percent, in 2021.

And take two cities that increased their Police budgets. Indianapolis, Indiana, and Mobile, Alabama, they increased their Police budgets, and saw an increase in violent crime, last year.

Now, look, the economy clearly ranks as the top issue for voters, as we head into the midterm elections, in one week. But in the latest polling, from CBS News and YouGov, 65 percent of you said the issue of crime will be very important to your vote.

A separate poll, released by Gallup, last week, finds Americans are more likely now than at any time, over the last five decades, to say there's more crime, in their community than there was a year ago. 56 percent of you say there's more crime where you live now than last year. 56 percent.

And that's a trend that's been building over the last few years, since 2020, when Joe Biden was elected.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crime is a big darn deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It used to be elsewhere. But now it's in our own neck of the woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to move, yes.

Because of crime, it's - we want out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live in an area, where there is quite a bit of crime. So, we are concerned about that.


TAPPER: Often, when voters, or journalists, or politicians, bring up the issue of crime, you'll hear progressive pundits pointing to data that shows crime is down, since the 90s, which is true, or some of the data I cited earlier today, and suggesting that this issue is invented, by conservatives, to scare the public, into voting for Republicans. Not everyone, out there, agrees.

While according to Pew, only a third of White Democrats say violent crime is important to their votes, a third of White Democrats, 81 percent of Black voters, in general, say violent crime is important to their votes.

There's another important set of numbers, here, for you, to keep in mind, which might explain why Republicans are trying to capitalize on crime as a campaign issue, right now.

In that CBS poll, I just mentioned, 46 percent of you said Republicans' policies would make you feel safer from crime, compared with 30 percent, who said that about Democrats' policies.

You might be able to attribute some of that imbalance, perhaps, to voters' distrust of Democrats, after the whole "Defund the Police" campaign. The movement was embraced by some Democratic lawmakers, especially progressives, but pretty firmly rejected by candidate and ultimately President Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm totally opposed to defunding the Police officers.


TAPPER: It's not surprising therefore that Republicans might lean into this divide, among Democrats.

Travel with me, to Georgia, right now, where Republican Governor Brian Kemp, is trying to fight off a challenge, from Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams. In their final debate, two nights ago, Kemp repeatedly invoked, "Defund the Police," in his attacks, against Abrams.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Ms. Abrams that has said that she wants to defund the police.

You got to check the record, because Ms. Abrams, on CNN, got asked the question, would she defund the Police? And she said, yes.


TAPPER: For the record, Abrams told CNN, in June 2020, yes, to some defunding, if need be, though, she said she found the overall question, a false choice. But is it?

To the West Coast now, to Oregon, Democrats have controlled the Governor's Mansion, there, since 1987. But that could change, next week. The Republican has a decent shot there, partially because voters are unhappy, about crime rates, in Portland, where we've seen riots, and crime, frankly, out of control.


Lifelong Democrat, George Carrillo, told the newsletter Common Sense that he barely recognizes Portland anymore, saying, quote, "Here in Oregon, look outside - you see the homelessness, people dying in the streets from overdoses, people having psychotic breaks. It's in shambles right now. It wasn't always like this," unquote. And this year, he says, he's voting for the Republican candidate for governor.

In Colorado, the State Joe Biden carried by 13 points, Republicans say they see an opening, to unseat Democratic Senator Michael Bennet.

And rising MAGA star, Ron DeSantis, has cut an ad, for Republican candidate, Joe O'Dea, where DeSantis mentions, you guessed it, crime.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Colorado needs new leadership. Joe is focused on building the wall and cracking down on crime.


TAPPER: We will talk to O'Dea, in just a moment.

When you watch political TV ads, on crime, you might not even hear any real solutions, being proposed, ones that, would make a difference. You might just hear pablum. But you also might be comforted to hear someone out there even acknowledging that it's a problem, that it's a fear.

"All politics are local" goes the cliche. And when it comes to crime? That is especially true, local, as in here. Your personal experiences might not be reflected in data. If you don't feel safe, if you or someone, you care about, has been accosted or assaulted? That's your experience.

Fear is primal. It's a crucial emotion. It mobilizes us to respond to life or death situations, avoiding danger at all costs. You can hear the data. Violent crime might be down in your area. But if you feel there's a threat? That's real to you. And emotions motivate voters.

Joining me next, the Senate candidate, we mentioned, a moment ago. Joe O'Dea is one of the many Republicans, running on crime. He's also running away from Donald Trump. Might that end up hurting him in his purple state of Colorado? We'll ask him, right after this.



TAPPER: Can a Republican candidate, who is not in Trump's good graces, win a Senate seat? That is a big question, in the purple state of Colorado, where businessman Joe O'Dea, a moderate Republican, is seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic senator, Michael Bennet.

O'Dea first drew Trump's ire, after he said this.


JOE O'DEA, (R) COLORADO U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't think Donald Trump should run again. I'm going to actively - I'm going to actively campaign against Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Adding more salt to Trump's wound? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, giving O'Dea, his full backing, despite his bashing of Trump. This prompted the former President to issue an all-caps response, on his Truth Social platform, calling it "A BIG MISTAKE!"

Joe O'Dea joins me now, to talk about this, and much, much more.

Joe, good to see you, thanks so much for joining us.

Trump has directly attacked you. He's called you stupid. He's called you a RINO, meaning Republican In Name Only. I know it's all silliness. But are you worried at all that his attacks could hurt your chances of winning? You need Trump supporters, to turn out to vote for you, through Election Day, next week.

O'DEA: Jake, I said what I said. And I'm not worried about it. I'm worried about the next seven days. We've got one heck of a race we're running here.

This race is going to be a referendum, on Joe Biden, and what he's done to our economy, what he's done to crime, what he's done to our border, what he's done to the price of fuel, the price of groceries. That's what people are talking about here. And Michael Bennet, he votes with him, 98 percent of the time.

Heck! I love my wife dearly. But I don't agree with her even 98 percent of the time!

TAPPER: There was a point that Senator Bennet made, in last week's debate. Take a listen.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): He voted for Donald Trump twice, after the children were separated from their parents at the border, after he said - Trump said that - President Trump said that there were both sides - there were good people, on both sides of Charlottesville.


TAPPER: In that same debate, you ultimately said you would vote for Trump again, if he were the nominee. Did it bother you, when Trump said "Very good people on both sides in Charlottesville?" Did the family separation policy of the Trump administration, did that bother you?

O'DEA: Well, I believe Obama started that policy, to be quite frank with you.

But, at the end of the day--

TAPPER: Not - not really.

O'DEA: --if you look back at where our economy - if you look back where our economy was, here, 22 months ago, and some of the policies that were in place? Fuel was affordable. We had a great economy. I know my guys - I'm a contractor, been working in it, for 40 years. And my guys' wages were surging. They were making more than they'd ever made. And we had China kind of pushed away. So, I liked what he was doing there.

And I got to tell you, Joe Biden has undone every one of those policies. We got a border that is leaking like a sieve, right now. We have fentanyl coming straight up I-25, according to the Police, here in town that I've been backed by, the Denver Police union. And they're telling me that this border's leaking.

And you look at the policies one after the other? And I got to tell you, we're not in good shape, right now. And people are ready for change. That's why I got in this race. I was really worried about where our United States was headed. And I'm going to win, on next Tuesday. I'm fired up.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about immigration. You've been hammering Democrats, and Senator Bennet, for not doing enough, to solve the border crisis. It is a crisis. Trump didn't solve it either.

It seems, to many observers that the solution would lie, in a comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform bill, something that can pass the House, and the Senate, get signed by President Biden. And that would include more border security, and also a way to deal, with the millions of undocumented immigrants, already here.


Now, I've been in Washington, D.C., for a long time, covering this stuff. Every time, it's been attempted? House Republicans have sunk the bill, every time. Even if it was a Republican president, like President Bush, pushing it? Democratic President? Gets through the Senate, House Republicans sink it.

Don't Republicans share some of the blame here?

O'DEA: Well, all I know is that I'm going to run that bill. We're going to make sure we secure the border. We're going to add Border Patrol. We're going to make sure the DACA kids are taken care of. And we're going to streamline our immigration system.

It's pretty simple. I'm going to put that bill in front of the Senate, and make sure I get 60 signatures on that bill. And then, I'm going to go over to the House, and I'm going to work really, really hard with House representatives, to make sure we can get something done.

This is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. I was just down in Brooks, Texas, here with the Sheriff's down there. And those guys were exhausted. They found 100 bodies that have passed away, in the last year. And they found that two years in a row. That's something that we just can't ignore. We've got to fix this border.

TAPPER: I have to ask you about something you said, on "Meet The Press," last month, to my friend, Chuck Todd. Take a listen.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR AND MODERATOR OF "MEET THE PRESS": Are you comfortable with the idea of using migrants as a political tool?

O'DEA: Well, look, I think Ron DeSantis and Governor Abbott were right to bring some visibility to this issue.


TAPPER: Look, I don't take any issue with wanting to bring visibility, to the issue, of the border. Sure.

But I want to make sure I understand what you're saying here. Do you think it was right, for them, to ship off migrants, under false pretenses, into other parts of the country? That part of it, not just bringing attention to it, but that part of it? Was that the right thing to do?

O'DEA: Well, I know that President Biden's shipping them all over the country, right now, on airplanes, nobody said a word.

Every state is a border state, right now. We've got a humanitarian crisis, down there, the epic proportion. And I believe, senator - or Governor Abbott, Governor DeSantis, they're trying to bring some attention to this.

Because the failed policies of Joe Biden - and Michael Bennet's right with him. 98 percent of the time he has failed, because he's with his President, instead of stepping out, and getting something done. And we need change. And that's why I got in this race.

TAPPER: I want to turn to another issue of particular importance to Coloradans, gun violence. It's been 10 years since the Aurora massacre, 23 since Columbine. I could go on and on with all the horrible acts of gun violence in your state.

It's federal law that you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun. You, unlike Senator Bennet, you do not support raising the age limit, for purchasing a semiautomatic weapon, however, the kind used in Uvalde, and in other massacres.

Why should an 18-year-old be able to purchase a semiautomatic weapon, before he's even mature enough to buy a beer?

O'DEA: Look, this is about crime. We don't need any more gun laws. What we need, is more cops.

And this is about Michael Bennet, and Joe Biden, having the wrong priorities. Here, they passed this Inflation Reduction Act. 87,000 new bureaucrats, for the IRS, instead of, focusing that money on getting our border under control, focusing that, money, on putting more cops on the ground here.

TAPPER: Yes. O'DEA: Colorado had one heck of a weekend. I got to tell you, we had 12 shootings, this weekend. And we lost some Coloradans. Crime is at an all-time high here.

TAPPER: Yes, but why should a 19-year-old be able to buy a semiautomatic weapon, when he can't even buy a beer or a handgun? That's my question.

O'DEA: Well, he can sign up and go into our Military. So, I just believe we don't need any more gun laws. What we need, is more cops.

TAPPER: I'm sure, you know of all the training that enlistees undergo, when it comes to how to use a firearm.

Joe O'Dea, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Enjoy your last week, on the campaign trail.

O'DEA: Well, thanks for having me on, Jake. I really appreciate it.

TAPPER: Political attack ads are in full force. With a week to go, they're usually nasty. They can twist the truth. I think we might have found the most dishonest spot, to ever hit the airwaves. Maybe. That's next.



TAPPER: We want to show you perhaps the most dishonest TV campaign ad we've ever seen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some politicians think they should control your child's education.

JAY CHEN, (D) CALIFORNIA U.S. CONG. CANDIDATE: We're trying to indoctrinate our students in Communism.


TAPPER: Jay Chen is running for Congress, to represent Southern Californians.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is running that ad, depicting Chen, saying, quote, "We're trying to indoctrinate our children into Communism," unquote.

But here's what Chen actually said.


CHEN: You know, I'm going to be a recipient of some of these attacks, unfortunately. They're going to be claiming that because our school district was teaching Chinese that meant we were trying to indoctrinate our students in Communism. Literally, that will be one of the points of attack.


TAPPER: I mean, wow!

Now, look, political ads have never been known for subtlety or nuance. Lines from newspapers are lifted without context, comments are dishonestly edited, the complexity of governance reduced to the scariest possible interpretation.

The closer we get to Election Day, as races tighten, the more we see things go negative. Take for example, this ad against Herschel Walker.


CINDY DEANGELIS GROSSMAN, HERSCHEL WALKER'S EX-WIFE: The first time he held the gun to my head, he held the gun to my temple.


TAPPER: Now, Herschel Walker's ex-wife did say that.


But what you probably don't know is that she said it, while sitting for an interview, in support of Herschel Walker. They sat together, to discuss his struggle, with mental illness. He was right next to her. Kind of an important part of the story, no?

News agencies, such as CNN, have teams of fact-checkers, calling out the lies, and I could spend the rest of this hour, fact-checking ads, running across the country, right now, in various races, Democrats and Republicans.

And that's the rub. Campaigns know they win the repetition game. You're way more likely to see a dishonest dad, playing in heavy rotation, than you are to read, or listen to a fact-check, such as this one.

We have all sorts of laws about what you can say, and can't say, in a television commercial. There are rules about how loud a commercial can be, and what foods can be called "Healthy," even what "Made in America" actually has to mean.

Generally speaking, you can't just lie in a commercial. The FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, makes sure that the company behind the Slap Chop can back up what they claim, in their infomercials. But those anti-lying rules do not apply to politics!

The FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, has no such rules, for political ads, and there's nothing your local television station can do about it. By law, stations that broadcast over the public airwaves cannot alter or reject any ad from the candidates.

In 1972, Atlanta TV stations were not allowed to reject this hate- filled TV ad, from a white supremacist, running for the Senate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J.B. STONER, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: I am J.B. Stoner. I am the only candidate for United States Senator who is for the White people.


TAPPER: Off there (ph), because he went on to use the N-word, several times. The FCC ruled back then that local TV stations had to air that ad, from the candidate. And that same rule applies, today.

Bipartisan federal legislation, to crack down, on demonstrable falsehoods? That's gone nowhere. Because look, who gets to decide what's a lie, and what's not, given how fast and loose so many politicians are.

So, for the next week, and the foreseeable future, you can have more faith in a Chia Pet commercial than what a political campaign says in its ads.

That's ads. When it comes to robocalls, as we head into the stretch of the midterm election, wait until you hear what some state Republican parties are telling voters, in places, such as Michigan.

Michigan Secretary of State is here. She's a Democrat, trying to hold on to her seat. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In Arizona, Republican voters are getting robocalls, such as this one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please vote Republican from top to bottom in every race as soon as your ballot arrives and return it by mail or drop it off in person at an early voting center.


TAPPER: In Michigan, the GOP call sound like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can return your ballot in person at your local clerk's office or return through the postal service or deliver it to a drop box.


TAPPER: The Republican Parties in both states, Michigan and Arizona, paying for those calls. And honestly, that's great, encouraging voters to participate. It's a wonderful thing. The problem is the Arizona Chair of the Republican Party constantly tweets nonsense, such as, quote, "All mail in voting is a recipe for abuse, fraud, and the loss of election integrity." At the same time, they're paying for that robocall!

And in Michigan, the Party's nominee for governor says, on her web page, she wants to ban drop boxes, the very ones referred to in that Michigan GOP robocall.

The Republican, who wants to oversee Michigan's next election, as Secretary of State, Kristina Karamo, has made election conspiracies, the centerpiece of her campaign. We asked her to come on the show tonight. She declined.

The person, who did accept our invitation, is her Democratic opponent, who must oversee this election, as Michigan's current Secretary of State, Democrat Jocelyn Benson.

Welcome, Secretary of State Benson. Thanks for - thanks for being with us.

What is your assessment? What's your take on the fact, of these public Republicans, public officials, or party chairs, saying, bad-mouthing, early voting, vote by mail et cetera, while secretly the parties are telling their voters to participate in it?

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Well it underscores - first, thanks for having me, and shedding a light on this really challenging moment that we're in.

And really, what this underscores is that these lies, these conspiracy theories? It's a political strategy. And it's one particularly designed to cause people to lose faith in our elections, while at the same time making sure, certain - misinformation continues to flourish. And it's really egregious.

And it's reaching egregious heights. I mean, my opponent recently filed a lawsuit, against Detroit voters, trying to get absentee votes thrown out, even though Detroiters, and every citizen, in Michigan, has a right to vote absentee, under our state constitution.

So, it's really reached new heights of egregiousness. But also, we have to remember, these are people who know better, that are campaigning on lies, as a political strategy, to gain power, so that they can potentially stand in the way of the will of the people in the future.

TAPPER: Does your opponent actually know better? She seems pretty out there.

BENSON: Well, I think the truth has been abundantly clear, for years. And we have, along with Republican state senators, like Ed McBroom, made sure that people have access to the facts.

Our elections are run in a transparent and secure manner. Anyone, who sincerely, candidates or otherwise, want to know the truth, about our elections, are welcome to find them in many ways.

Yet, at the same time, we see only politicians and that the top three Republican candidates for Republican for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State in Michigan are all peddling election lies, and have, in many ways, built their careers on doing so, in an effort to, in my view, gain control, over our elections, for the future, and ensure that the people's will doesn't stand in the way, of their own partisan agenda.

TAPPER: And it doesn't just - it doesn't just fuel skepticism in elections. You've seen this incite anger, outside your own home.


TAPPER: Armed protesters showed up outside your home.



TAPPER: How concerned are you, in this era, about people, who hear these conspiracy theories, these lies, and feel compelled to take it to the extreme? Obviously, the Governor of Michigan was threatened with a kidnapping, and people are doing jail time, for it.

BENSON: It's exactly right. I mean, people have to understand, these words, these hateful threats, this violent rhetoric, it has consequences.

It's not just spreading lies. It's not just spreading false conspiracy theories. It's also putting people's lives at risk, and our families' lives at risk, as we've seen, play out in the tragedy with Paul Pelosi.

So, I have personally seen an uptick, in threats, over the last few days. We can - we will anticipate they'll continue.

And it's tragic, because it's all just rooted in lies, and lies that politicians are spreading, to gain political power. And they need to realize these lies have consequences. And they are consequences that are real, they're harmful, and, God willing, never become deadly. But it certainly feels that sometimes we're on - at the risk of that terrible thing coming to fruition.

TAPPER: So, your Republican opponent is one of more than 10 election liars, running for Secretary of State, around the country that those are the people in charge of elections in those states. What would it mean, if they win, if any of them win their races, and become the Secretaries of State?

BENSON: I think three things.

One, we'll certainly see them use these platforms, these very powerful platforms, of election officers, to further conspiracy theories, and lies, to sow seeds of doubt, to delegitimize our democracy. They'll also change the rules, to make it more confusing, for voters, to participate, in our elections, as well as make it more difficult, for us, to run fair and secure elections.

And then, they will stand in the way, potentially, as their actions in the past have shown, of the certification of fair election results, simply because they disagree with them.

All those three things combined mean really a dismantling and de- legitimization of democracy, in our country. And that's why we say, quite clearly, democracy is on the ballot, this November.

TAPPER: Almost twice as many absentee ballots have been requested, in Michigan, compared to the last midterm election, in 2018. So, as a practical matter, it does not - I mean, it seems like Michigan voters do have faith in voting by mail.

BENSON: Yes. And that's really the crux of the moment that we're in. We're seeing enormous enthusiasm, on both sides of the aisle, here in Michigan, and other States, enormous enthusiasm for voting absentee, voting by mail, despite the mountains of conspiracy theories, and falsehoods that have flowed, to try to discourage people, from voting by mail, if they choose to do so, or voting absentee.

And, at the same time, all of this very good stuff, a very secure election process, is set up and ready to go, voters enthusiastic to participate, is happening alongside election-deniers running for office, and spreading misinformation, about our democracy.

So, I'm both hopeful and optimistic about the week ahead, and our elections, this fall, but also very soberly-minded of the challenges that we may face, as we seek to ensure that every voice is heard, and every vote is counted.

TAPPER: We've heard, just to change subjects, for one second, we've heard from a number of Democratic candidates, and also in polls, from Democratic voters, who like President Biden, just fine, but don't want him to run for reelection. They think he's too old. That's the number one reason.

He was in Florida, earlier today. He got noticeably confused. He mistook the Russian invasion, in Ukraine, for the American war, in Iraq. He corrected himself. And then, in trying to correct himself, he mistake, where his son Beau, died. Take a listen.


BIDEN: Inflation is a worldwide problem right now because of a war in Iraq.

Excuse me, the war in Ukraine.

I'm thinking of Iraq because that's where my son died.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: That's not where his son died. Although I know he does personally blame burn pit exposure, his son having burn pit exposure, for his son's death, of brain cancer.

Don't you think President Biden might be hurting Democrats with what seemed like cognitive slips out on the campaign trail?

BENSON: I think the real choice in this election is one between truth and lies. And we have to stay focused on that, in my view, especially in these waning days, of the midterms.

Truly, the future of our democracy, and our fundamental rights and freedoms are on the ballot, not just in Michigan, but in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, in Georgia, and Arizona, and Nevada. That's what we should be focused on, and talking about.

And that's what I've been seeing voters want to hear. That's what they care about. They're seeing that concern. And I hope that every voter in this country knows that the votes, and choices, they'll be making, this fall, will determine, our ability, to protect their voices, and votes, in the years ahead, and the future of our democracy, in this country.

TAPPER: Secretary of State Benson, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today. Have fun out there in the last week of the campaign.

BENSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: On the heels of the Ye, a.k.a., Kanye West disaster, another anti-Semitism storm is erupting. Basketball star Kyrie Irving still is not apologizing, for promoting a movie, littered with lies, about Jews and Judaism. Some sports fans not letting Kyrie Irving go unanswered.

Rich Eisen also isn't holding back. He's here, next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Today, the General Manager, of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, addressed the controversy, surrounding one of the team's star players, Kyrie Irving.


SEAN MARKS, GENERAL MANAGER, BROOKLYN NETS: We are involved with the ADL, and getting - and getting their advice. And - and just hopefully they can advise us. We can bring something to the table that both parties, all parties, can be at least understandable, to one another, here, and - and understand that there is no tolerance and no room for any hate speech, any anti-Semitic remarks, whatsoever.


TAPPER: No tolerance except for the very tolerance he was just showing! His comments were more direct than the statement, from the Player's Union, which failed to mention Kyrie Irving, by name.

The point guard, whose name is synonymous with controversy, is once again under fire, this time, for refusing to apologize, after tweeting, a link to a hideously anti-Semitic documentary, containing all sorts of anti-Jewish bigotry, including a false quote, attributed to a former Senate aide, who had been murdered by terrorists, in 1976. A quote attributed to him, concocted by white supremacists, in 1978, was in that film.


Kyrie Irving is unrepentant. He's accusing his critics of dehumanizing him. That prompted my next guest, sports anchor, Rich Eisen, to make these uncharacteristically personal remarks, on his show, yesterday.


RICH EISEN, HOST, THE RICH EISEN SHOW, SPORTSCASTER, NFL NETWORK: You're dehumanizing me, Kyrie. I'm a Jewish man, OK, descendent of people, who died in gas chambers, and got incinerated by Nazis. You're dehumanizing me, by putting on your platform, a book and a movie that is filled with anti-Semitic tropes.

But when you put it in front of 4 million people, who might not have already heard about it, or know about it? You're promoting it.


TAPPER: And my friend, and NFL Network host, Rich Eisen, joins me now.

Rich, I was very proud of you, when you did that.

EISEN: Thanks pal.

TAPPER: And I thought it was really powerful.

When you heard Kyrie defend his post, the way he did, defensively, saying, "You're dehumanizing me," what was your reaction?

EISEN: Well, I thought of my kids, Jake. I've got a 14-year-old, and 11-year-old, and a 9-year-old. And when I was their age, I had grandparents, who told me about their direct relatives, being killed, by the Nazis, just for being Jewish. And the fringe conspiracies, about the Holocaust not being real, were exactly that, on the fringe.

And now, this day and age, my 14-year-old, 11-year-old, and 9-year- old, live in a world, where every single day, generations, who lived through the Holocaust, or knew somebody, who lived through the Holocaust, those generations die off, and we get further and further away. And the fringe conspiracies, the misinformation, can be seen on a phone.

TAPPER: Yes. EISEN: Media, back when I was 14-years-old, and 11-years-old, and 9- years-old, didn't put it out there. Now, social media is an easy way, to get it out there.

And the normalization of it, for Kyrie Irving, to put it on his Twitter account, in the same way that he did maybe, years ago, to promote "Uncle Drew," which, by the way, is a movie I enjoyed from him, and other things that he does charitably, is normalizing it. And that makes it dangerous and particularly frightening.

TAPPER: Yes, and those conspiracy theories are part of what led to the Holocaust. And it's what leads to violence, conspiracy theories about all sorts of groups, Blacks, Jews, gays, et cetera.

Now, he maintains his posts are not a promotion. I get the sense from him that he thinks he's smarter than everybody, like he can trick us, he can outsmart us by saying it's not a promotion. He has 4.6 million Twitter followers! Why is he doing this?

EISEN: I don't know, other than the fact that at this point, you have to think he truly does believe what this documentary is saying. And until we hear otherwise, we just have to assume that.

And, look, he - I, as I said in, on my show, I don't think he needs to be told, and explained, how promotion works. When you put something on your Twitter feed, you're telling people, "Check this out," and thus, you are supporting it.

So look, I just want, in this day, and age, where things are so easily placed, in the mind's eye of people, who can be influenced? That's what the whole concept of being called an influencer is. I want to use whatever influence, I may have, to push back, and say, "This normalization is not right." Because if you don't speak out, and you let the normalization sink in, then suddenly everybody else can think you believe whatever is happening is cool, too.

I'm seeing, again, what Kanye said, I thought Adidas acted way too blithely. They did not act fast enough. But they eventually did.

And, in the meantime, now, we saw beamed on to the stadium, where the world's largest cocktail party, as it's called between Georgia and Florida, the words, "Kanye was right about the Jews" was beamed, on the side of the stadium.


EISEN: And then, on the side of a building, in Jacksonville, we're seeing it, with folks, who feel easily compelled, to place it on these placards, on top of overpasses. I saw, on Twitter, somebody walked into a bar--


EISEN: --in Soho, dressed as a Nazi. These are all people, of generations, who think it's cool, or the normalization of it makes them feel more comfortable. Or they just really don't understand what the hell did happen, decades ago, Jake.

TAPPER: So, we're running out of time. But just quickly, what do you think the Nets should do? Because their mealy-mouthed responses have been really pathetic.


EISEN: Well, I think that Kyrie Irving should be held to account. I do believe he should be held to account, and have to explain himself, other than just barking back-and-forth, with a reporter, and saying he didn't promote this. I'd like to hear exactly what he's talking about.

And there how been some people, like Charles Barkley, a colleague of ours, certainly in your end of the business out there--

TAPPER: Yes. Sir Charles, yes.

EISEN: --with CNA, Sir Charles, said tonight, he thinks that Kyrie should be suspended, because others have been suspended for hate speech, in other ways. I'd love to see that as well.

Because anti-Semitism is just as hateful as anything else there is in the world with hate speech. And I'd love to hear more people, in my end of the business, in the media, speak out about it.

TAPPER: Well, that's why we brought you on today, to speak out about it.

My friend, Rich Eisen, Host of "The Rich Eisen Show," on The Roku Channel.

EISEN: Thanks pal.

TAPPER: Love to your wife, and your beautiful children.

We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Thank you so much, for joining us tonight. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the TikTok, @jaketapper.

Tomorrow, we will talk to, Late-Night star, Jimmy Kimmel is going to join us to look at the week's midterms, and talk about the state of Late Night. That's tomorrow, at 9 PM Eastern, only here on CNN.

Our coverage continues now, with Laura Coates, who is like the Rhys Hoskins, of CNN, and Alisyn Camerota, who's like the Bryce Harper, of CNN. Not that I'm thinking about the Phillies, right now!

But hi, Laura, hi, Alisyn, how are you doing?