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Rep. Luria Emphasizes Work On January 6th Committee In Fight For Re-Election; Arizona GOP Ticket Awash With Election Deniers; Kerry Washington Urging People To Vote: "I'm Focusing On Secretaries Of State" Because "Our Democracy Is On The Ballot". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 04, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hannah moved to Switzerland, and eventually emigrated, to what would become Israel. She became a pediatric nurse, and lived to be 93. She died, recently, at her home, in Jerusalem, and is survived by her three children.
Tonight, we remember Hannah Pick-Goslar.
COOPER: Incredible life!
The news continues. Want to hand it over to Jake Tapper and CNN TONIGHT.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. I am Jake Tapper in Washington.
And tonight, "Make America Great Again," again? We're just four days away, from the all-important midterm elections. And with Republicans optimistic that they're going to be able to flip both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Donald Trump is preparing to ride that wave, right into a 2024 announcement.
Sources tell CNN that top aides, to the former President, are gearing up, for a possible campaign launch, around the third week of November, something Trump himself hinted, on the campaign trail, again, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, in order to make our country successful, and safe, and glorious, I will very, very, very probably do it again, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Those same sources, however, say that Trump's announcement, could be delayed, if Republicans do not do as well, as he hopes, and perhaps an announcement could come earlier, if there's a Republican tsunami next week. I mean, who knows? It's Donald Trump!
And there are some major headlines today that could have an impact on what happens, Tuesday, starting with a stronger-than-expected Jobs report, released today. 261,000 Americans hired in October.
In a normal campaign year, that would be welcome news, for the White House, and Democrats running, across the country. But this is not a normal year. And the economic picture is, much more complicated and, in the view of most Americans, pretty, damn dismal.
President Biden's Labor Secretary, today, spoke of the dilemma, facing Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: At the end of the day, no matter how many jobs that I can get in front of this camera, and tell you how we have added, and how great they are, people are still feeling the struggle at the kitchen table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The biggest economic challenge, at the moment, seems to be inflation. And yes, we also saw, today, Americans' wages are rising, but they're not keeping up, with the cost of nearly everything else that is soaring.
That we heard this week remains the biggest concern of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The trick is the Fed's response to ease inflation was to raise interest rates, again, another three quarters of a point, which it did, on Wednesday. And while we all want prices to go down, that move makes acts, like buying a car, or a house, or just trying to use a credit card, more expensive. And it also makes it harder for Democrats to win, at the ballot box, in a number of key races.
Take a trip, with me, across the country, as we visit some of those races. Let's start in my home, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where Oprah is weighing in, endorsing Democrat John Fetterman, over the man she turned into a household name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN TALK SHOW HOST, TELEVISION PRODUCER, ACTRESS, AUTHOR, & PHILANTHROPIST: If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman for many reasons. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Fetterman's opponent, Republican candidate, Mehmet Oz, skyrocketed to fame, of course, because of his recurring segments, on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." And that led him, to his own syndicated show, which was co-produced by Oprah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MEHMET OZ, (R) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Sometimes, these things come alive. Sort of sleepy here. Now these can grow. Can you hold that please?
WINFREY: No! I'm not.
OZ: Just a little bit - just got a little bit there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Onto the Dairy State now, and another candidate, Oprah endorsed, for the Senate. And that, of course, is Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
This afternoon, Barnes took on his opponent, Republican senator, Ron Johnson, after Johnson would not outright specifically, without equivocation, commit to accepting the election results, next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES, (D) WISCONSIN U.S. SENATE NOMINEE: A person, who would go so far, as to say "Well, yes, I didn't get what I wanted. So, it can't be right," you know, it's very arrogant. It's very arrogant. It's the height of arrogance. But that's who he's always been, that's who he'll continue to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And, across the country, in Arizona, more than 1.2 million early ballots have already been cast.
Nowhere, nowhere in the United States has the struggle between election liars, and those who, reside here, on Planet Earth, played out in more vivid detail, than in Arizona, where three of the key Republican candidates, for Governor, for Senate, and for Secretary of State of Arizona, all traffic in Donald Trump's lies, about the 2020 election, and invented conspiratorial claims, of widespread fraud that never happened.
And election liars in Arizona, they're not just on the ballot. They're also at the ballot boxes. This week, a federal judge, in the Grand Canyon State, blocked a right-wing group, from patrolling ballot drop boxes.
Voters say, members of what's called Clean Elections USA, accused them, these voters, of voter fraud, while openly carrying guns, and wearing body armor, and masks, and recording the voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"GERALD," ARIZONA VOTER: Yes, I covered my plates, because they're taking pictures and all that stuff. I mean, this is what we've come to, in America, huh? These guys call themselves patriots? Really?
The guy standing over there, he's got his face covered. He's got - and he's armed. What's that tell you? They don't want you to vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The Justice Department says the allegations, quote, raise serious "Concerns of voter intimidation," unquote, and likely violate the Federal Voting Rights Act.
Central, of course, to this is the lie-filled propaganda film, "2000 Mules," we've told you about, a film, propaganda, claiming with zero evidence that drop boxes were the scenes of mass voter fraud, in 2020. Spoiler Alert! They weren't!
But the organizer, of the group, behind this campaign, went on Steve Bannon's show, and explained, to millions of listeners, how that propaganda film, full of lies and nonsense, inspired this "Ballot- watching movement."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF MELODY JENNINGS, CLEAN ELECTIONS USA FOUNDER: Really, what inspired me was the idea of "2000 Mules."
And so, I just threw it out on Truth Social one day and said, "Hey, we're supposed to be their boss, but they're stealing it, so let's get out there."
Shifts of, you know, maybe two, three hours, 10 people at a time, and just stand around them, keep those mules from, you know, wanting to come up to the box. And it was just a simple thought, and it just took off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: A simple thought is accurate!
So, sure the judge's order now makes it illegal, to stalk Arizona ballot boxes, and voters. But the misinformation, driving all of this? That continues to stalk all corners of American democracy.
Here's the Republican outgoing Speaker of the Arizona House, Rusty Bowers, a conservative Republican, talking about his fears, about the anti-democracy candidates, and efforts, in his state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSTY BOWERS, (R) ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER: I call it the possibility of going back into the dark ages, in Arizona, which would be, it'd be a sad time.
And I said, "Welcome to fascism."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: These lies, they're the centerpiece of many MAGA candidates, running, in battleground states, such as Arizona, and a real concern, for any American, who wants all legal votes counted.
We saw more of the impact of misinformation, one week ago, today, after a deranged man, set out to harm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, breaking into her house, and violently beating her husband with a hammer.
President Biden addressed this general thread, in a primetime speech, this week. And once again, he warned the American people, not to take democracy for granted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This intimidation, this violence, against Democrats, Republicans, and non-partisan officials, just doing their jobs, are the consequence of lies, told for power and profit.
We have to confront those lies with the truth. The very future of our nation depends on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But can people hear this warning, amidst the cacophony of economic hard times? Because we know that midterm voters' top concerns, according to polls, is not the future of democracy. It is the current state of the economy, which is understandable, given the very real financial struggles folks are facing, as opposed to theoretical limitations of freedom to vote in the future.
Today, I asked a Democratic pollster, how Democrats, he thinks, will fare, in the midterm elections, what he's seeing out there. He responded simply with this screen grab, the image of a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF HURRICANE IAN MAKING LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE)
TAPPER: Not a good forecast for Democrats! Though again, these are just polls, and predictions, and prognostications. At the end of the day, it's all up to you.
Now, you might remember our first guest, the Georgia election official, who in December 2020, let loose, on Trump, and others, for pushing these election lies that he thought were fostering violent threats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIEL STERLING, (R) CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: It has to stop.
Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Gabriel Sterling is about to join us. Does he think the political climate has gotten any better, or is it worse, since that day, two years ago? That's next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Tight races, big names, and lots of political money, mean, Georgia will be a key focus, in next week's midterms.
A record number of people have already cast their ballots. The state crossed the 2 million mark, for in-person voting, early, on yesterday, numbers far higher than previous midterm cycles.
The candidates for governor, offering very different takes, on the impact of the State's new election law, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): In Georgia, it's easy to vote and hard to cheat.
STACEY ABRAMS, (D) GEORGIA GOVERNOR NOMINEE: That's like saying that there are no more sharks in the water because more people get in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: More than a dozen election-related lawsuits are still being fought in courts, over everything, from past races, to redistricting, to voting machines, in Georgia. So, there will be a lot of people, watching to see, how things go, Tuesday.
As Chief Operating Officer, for the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, my next guest will play a key role, in making sure it all goes smoothly. Gabe Sterling.
Gabe, thanks so much for being here.
What impact is the new law having on voters?
STERLING: Here's a great thing. We have record turnout. We have - we have record use of absentee ballots. We have record use of early voting, in a midterm. I mean, for anybody to sit there with a straight face, says, voter suppression going on, it's just silly, and it looks silly on its face, you wouldn't believe Stacey Abrams or your lying eyes. TAPPER: In the run up to this election, county officials, in Georgia, were sounding alarms, about a shortage of poll workers. Given the record turnout, will there be enough people, to handle all the demand, on Tuesday?
STERLING: We haven't had really a lot of fear about that. Most of the accountants have said that they're stocked up pretty well.
And one of the fabulous things, about having so much, early voting? You said we crossed the 2 million mark. Jake, we're going to pass the 2.5 million mark, by the end of all this. And it means all the people have already voted, which takes a lot of stress away, from Election Day. So, we anticipate we should have a really effective Election Day, even with double the voters we saw in the 2020 election.
TAPPER: Now, you have raised concerns, with county officials, about how late reporting of results can fuel skepticism, and doubt, and conspiracies.
Only a third of the counties, in Georgia, say that they're going to begin counting early votes, on Election Day. Given how tight some of the races look, do you think we will know the results, Tuesday night?
STERLING: Well, it's really up to the voters. When you say a third of the counties, those third of counties account for probably 70 percent of our population. And so, they're the big ones. And they're the ones really need to do the early tabulation.
That's one of the great things from the Election Integrity Act. It now allows, specifically, for the first time, they can do early tabulation, of the early votes, starting at 7 AM, on Election Day, morning. And that way, by 7:15, 7:30, 8 o'clock, a lot of our big counties, should have their early votes in, should have their absentees in so, we won't have a lot of these big dumps of votes that kind of concern people.
And the other thing we told counties to do is, don't wait till you get all of them done. Start loading them as you get them, so that we can have a nice steady stream of information and people don't freak out to these wild swings.
TAPPER: You're obviously worried enough about voter intimidation that Georgia set up a new text alert system. What sort of response have you seen, during this early voting period? Is there cause to be concerned?
STERLING: So far, so good. I mean, I got to tell you, Jake, after the primaries in Georgia, President Trump, came in, and endorsed people, against every single one of the incumbents. And every single one of the incumbents won.
Governor Kemp was - he thumped his opponent by over 50 points. My boss, Secretary Raffensperger thumped his opponent by over 20 points. It's really calmed down a lot in Georgia.
Are there going to be issues potentially? Absolutely. And that's why we rolled out Secretary Raffensperger's "Poll Worker First Response" text program, so we can alert our headquarters, the local county headquarters, and if the county so chooses, their local law enforcement, for fast response, with thorough information so, we don't get these crazy rumors that go around Twitter and stuff. We have real information to respond with.
TAPPER: Yes. Most people learned your name, two years ago, after you gave that emotional public plea, to Trump, and others that people are going to get hurt, if they didn't stop lying about the election, lying about all these election conspiracies.
Donald Trump obviously has not stopped. And sadly, the numbers of those, who believe his lies, about the election, especially about Georgia, have only grown.
Are you worried at all that his return to presidential politics, perhaps social media, will make your job harder?
STERLING: Look, President Trump's going to do what President Trump's going to do.
Our job remains the same. We run really good elections, in the state. We run very fair elections, in this state. We don't engage in voter fraud. And we don't engage in voter suppression. We're going to count the votes, follow the law, follow the Constitution, and declare a winner.
And what I really hope we see this election is what Secretary Raffensperger's called on, and which he signed, pledged to do, "Stand by the results, win or lose." That's what we did for 200 years, in this country. Come back and fight another day, do a better job, give a better speech, have better ideas, and win over more voters. That is how this is supposed to work.
TAPPER: Since you made that speech, we've seen a lot of people get hurt, most recently, Speaker Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi. We also saw a threat to Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court Justice. Do you think that violence, political violence, is getting worse?
STERLING: It's definitely getting worse. But it seems to go in cycles. I mean, I'm old enough, to remember the 70s, when we had regular bombings. And that was terrible. We should never condone it.
The one thing we need is, adults, and responsible people, in the room, frankly, on both sides, to scale back the rhetoric. Let's remember that there was Mr. Schumer, who said that they're going to reap the whirlwind after this, and he had to kind of walk those back. He didn't want to at first. And then President Trump continues with this irresponsible language.
People need to be held accountable. The problem is, right now is, the incentives are backwards. If you use this kind of language, you raise more money, you get more clicks. You get more TV airtime.
It's really hard to say "Hey, let's have boring normal politicians, who are just here to do our jobs, and look out for the American people." They want to have bigger Twitter viewerships, and say more crazy outlandish things. And the thing is they're incentivized to do it because there is no downside, right now.
TAPPER: Well some of us have boring people on. I just had you on. You're leading my show!
STERLING: Thanks. I appreciate them. It's my job to make elections boring, again. And I'm going to keep on trying it every single day.
TAPPER: All right, Gabriel Sterling, thank you so much, and thanks for the job you do. Really appreciate it.
STERLING: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up--
STERLING: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: --as a January 6 committee member, my next guest has made it her mission, to defend democracy. Can Congresswoman Elaine Luria defend her seat, on Tuesday? She will join us next. She's running one of the most contested House races, in the country. Right back with her.
TAPPER: With four days to go, until the midterms, polling shows that once again voters have one overarching issue, on their mind. And that is the economy.
Prices remain high. And the majority of Americans think the economy is already in a recession, even though the experts, who officially make that determination, are not there, at least, not yet.
Republicans, across the country, are highlighting, reflecting, and capitalizing, on the country's sour mood.
Most Democrats, however, are taking a different tack, talking about the very real threats, to democracy, posed by those, who refuse to embrace election reality.
Democratic congresswoman, Elaine Luria, of Virginia, is trying to make it clear, this election, is about standing up, for democracy, in the United States. She's running for re-election, in Virginia, in one of the most competitive races in the United States. This is her final pitch to voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): If standing up for what's right means losing an election, so be it.
If you're looking for someone, who will just say anything, just to win? I'm not your candidate. If you support insurrectionists, or call our Military, weak? I'm not your candidate.
If you attack the FBI, and defend Donald Trump? I'm not your candidate.
And if you believe the 2020 election was stolen? Definitely not your candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And Congresswoman Luria is on the House Select Committee, investigating the January 6th attacks. She joins us now.
Congresswoman, a new poll, from the New York Times, shows that 26 percent of voters think the economy is the most important facing - issue, facing the country. 18 percent say inflation. Only 8 percent say democracy.
Are you at all worried that you're focused on an issue that doesn't resonate with voters the way you need it to?
LURIA: Well, Jake, I think voters are smart. I think when they show up, at the ballot box, and think that they can have more than one issue, on their mind. And I definitely understand. We see it all, when we go to the gas pump, when we go to the grocery store, and grocery prices are higher than we're accustomed to.
But I think this is really an existential threat to the future of our country. And the work, I've been doing, on the January 6th committee, I think it's very important. We have to get this right, to preserve our democracy, in the future.
So, this was my 17th ad of the cycle. I kind of bookended it. Back in July, when I ran my first 60-second ad, I also talked about this. And over the course of the last several months, I've had the opportunity, to talk to voters, about a lot of issues that they find are important.
And when I'm out and about around the district, the number one thing that people say, when they approach me, is, "Thank you for the work that you're doing on the January 6 committee." And I do find, in our community, here, in Virginia, that people think this is an important issue.
TAPPER: What is your message, on the economy, for the voters, who come up to you, and say, "What are you going to do to help me pay the groceries?"
LURIA: Well, I mean, I think first is to say, we understand. It's tough, right now, where we're seeing these gas prices. I understand that, at the grocery store, we're seeing these prices that are higher than we're used to.
But we talk about the things that we've done, over the course of the last year, this administration, the things we're trying to do to help people, with high costs, the work that we've done, to help cut prescription drug costs, the work that we've done, to ease burdens, with the supply chain.
And, right here, in Virginia, we have the third largest port, on the East Coast. And, those investments that we're making to ease these situations that are leading to higher prices. And I think when you can have a sort of an in-depth conversation about real things that you're doing, it resonates with people.
TAPPER: The only other committee member, who is in a competitive race, this election cycle, was Congresswoman Liz Cheney, of Wyoming. She lost her Republican primary. Does that make you nervous about your own fate?
LURIA: Well, Jake, every district is different. I have been on the ballot, here, twice before, with the voters, in coastal Virginia. And I think our message resonates.
I've spent 20 years, in the Navy. This is a Navy community. And I'm certainly the only Democrat, out there, talking about the fact that, over the course of the last two years, I've gotten $62 billion added to the defense budget. We really need to build more ships. We need to stand up to the aggression of China against Taiwan, Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
There's a whole host of issues that are different in every community. And I'm confident that, our track record, over my first two times, in Congress, is going to carry us across the finish line, again.
TAPPER: If you don't prevail, on Tuesday, will your dedication towards the January 6 committee have been worth it to you?
LURIA: Absolutely. I think that this is the most important work that I've been asked to do, professionally, more than the 20 years, I've spent in the Navy, more than the work I did in Congress, leading up to this. And I think that this is critical, to understanding what happened that day, and to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
So, I'm proud to have been part of something that I think we wish we would have never seen, as a country. But it is important work, and I am proud to have been part of this.
TAPPER: You're also a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. States are working overtime, to secure their election websites, to avoid cyber-attacks, from China, and other bad actors. Are you confident that our election results will be secure on Tuesday?
LURIA: I am confident in our election results. I am very familiar with the process that we have here, in Virginia, the use of paper ballots, and the ability to have a thorough audit, of every vote that is cast. And I know that our election workers, around the country, are working, diligently, to ensure that our elections are safe and fair.
TAPPER: Lastly, another issue that's important to a lot of voters is immigration, and the fact that there is a crisis, on the southern border, with people coming in, and because of the border problem, coyotes, and others, taking advantage of migrants, who are seeking a better life.
What do you think Biden should be doing - President Biden should be doing, to improve the situation at the border?
LURIA: Well, I have, since the first time I ran, I've said, we really need comprehensive immigration reform. I think that being able to improve the system, for those, who want to come here, and live and work legally, is very important.
And I think that we need to put the right resources into securing the border. I've voted during the Trump administration and the Biden administration to continue to improve security at the border.
And I think that there's other resources. I mean, when someone presents themselves, legally, seeking asylum, or as a refugee, that needs to be handled, expeditiously, properly, and with dignity, for that person or that family. Because, I think about the situation of how bad can someone's life be that they would literally, put their child, in a baby stroller, and walk across an entire continent, to try to come and live and have a better future in the U.S.?
So, we need to - there's a lot of work that needs to be done. And I look forward to working on that, when I come back to Congress.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Enjoy yourself on the campaign trail over the next few days.
Among the election deniers, on the ballots, Mark Finchem truly stands out. The GOP Secretary of State nominee, in Arizona, attended Trump's, quote "Stop the Steal," unquote, rally on January 6. He goes to QAnon conventions. He even self-identifies as a member of the Oath Keepers.
Finchem would not accept an invitation to this program. But his opponent did. And Adrian Fontes is here, next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Arizona is a veritable (ph) rattlesnake nest of election lies. The State has, already seen 18 cases of alleged voter intimidation, at drop boxes, referred to the Department of Justice, based on those lies.
And even in a year, with hundreds of election liars, and deniers, on ballots, across the country, Arizona is really on quite another level. It's the only state, where all of the major Republican candidates, for U.S. Senate, for Governor, for attorney general, and for Secretary of State, all of them deny the truth, the fact that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, that there was no widespread election fraud.
In the Secretary of State race, the Republican candidate, Mark Finchem was actually in the crowd, on January 6.
We invited Finchem, on the show, tonight, again, but have not heard back from his campaign.
I'm joined by the Democrat, who is running to keep Finchem, from that office, which controls elections, in Arizona, Adrian Fontes. He's a former U.S. Marine and former Maricopa County Recorder.
Thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
You've called your state a, quote, "Powder keg." How real is the risk that somebody will get hurt, next week, either trying to vote, or during the counting of ballots, or in any related way?
ADRIAN FONTES, (D) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE, (D) FORMER MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER: Well, Jake, thanks for having me.
The risk is real. And that's the problem. We are finally, at a weird place, in the United States of America, an uncomfortable place, where we're actually talking about the possibility, of violence, in what ought to be the most civil and civilian activity that we have in the United States of America, which is elections and voting.
This is what they have devolved us into. The election liars, the election deniers, the Oath Keepers, the insurrectionists, they have brought us here, because of one person's loss. And that is the true disgrace that we are facing. And we've got to have a comeuppance about this.
TAPPER: A federal judge ruled that the people, staking out the ballot boxes, some of them armed, have a First Amendment right, to do so, while in another case, banning them, from taking pictures of voters.
What are the actual rules about what is and what is not allowed?
FONTES: Well, that's why they're in front of the courts. This isn't something that anybody has ever really contemplated that much. Ballot drop boxes have always been pretty mundane. You go up, you drop your ballot in the box, and that's that.
But these folks, who have so corrupted their own narrative, and so bent their own minds, around the Big Lie, have gotten themselves to the place, where now we're in court, trying to figure out exactly how it is that we can keep our own people safe and feeling safe, while they are voting.
Imagine that Jake! In the United States of America, we now can describe fear, in the hearts of American citizens, at the prospect of going and voting. That is absolutely shameful. It is the MAGA Republicans who are responsible, particularly people like my opponent, who continue to, without any evidence, push the Big Lie. It's a disgrace. And it's embarrassing.
TAPPER: Didn't your opponent, Mark Finchem, didn't he say that he wouldn't count any of the ballots from Maricopa County, which is the most populous county, in Arizona, where you were an office-holder? FONTES: Yes, I was the County Recorder, who ran the 2020 election that was subject to the Cyber Ninja audit. I know these systems inside and out. And Mr. Finchem does not. He has no idea what he's talking about. His conspiracy theories are based completely in lies and ignorance.
And for him to make any proposals, about not counting American ballots, really lays bare, his fealty, to one person, this kind of pseudo totalitarian authoritarian fascism, where one person becomes a supreme leader, and your vote just doesn't matter, as long as he decides that it doesn't matter.
That's not how America is supposed to work. His attitude is anti- American. He does not how - he really ought not have a place in the public conversation. That being said, we're going to beat him, at the ballot box. We're going to make sure that he and his type go away.
And I'm excited about facing him, on Tuesday, and throughout all of early voting, as we have, since October 12, because we've got an election season in Arizona, not an Election Day.
TAPPER: You've been noticeably using tougher language than others in the Democratic Party. You called January 6 an "Act of terror." You pushed back, on the phrase, "Election deniers." You instead called the people, who spread these election conspiracies, "Liars" and "Fascists."
Do you worry at all that that risks inflaming what already seems an already angry electorate and a combustible situation?
FONTES: How much angrier can they be, when they erect a gallows, to hang Mike Pence? How much more outside of civility can they be, if they're standing, wearing camouflage, and long rifles threatening voters? These people are already insecure. They are already cowards. And they are already at the precipice.
If we mealy-mouth around what they truly are, which is domestic terrorists, if we treat them with kid gloves, because we're worried about their feelings? Then, what we're doing is playing to their trap, and legitimizing their position, which is absolutely illegitimate.
There are no two sides, in this fight. There's the American side. And then, there's the MAGA side. And I'm hoping that just like all of the Republicans and Independents, that whole coalition that we've built, in this campaign, I'm hoping the rest of the country comes too, and says, look - Republicans, the like, we've got Adam Kinzinger's endorsement. We've got a sitting member of our House of Representatives.
We need to start treating these thugs and criminals, like the domestic terrorists that they are. They are eroding confidence in our elections. They are destroying America. There is no two-siderism here. And we need to be forceful in pushing back against them.
TAPPER: So quickly, if you could, because we're running out of time, why is it even close? I mean, you have candidates, not just Mark Finchem, but Kari Lake, and others, who are openly telling the citizens of Arizona, "I wouldn't have counted your votes. I wouldn't have certified the election." So, why is it so competitive?
FONTES: Well, it's competitive because candidates like myself, and my opponent, were relatively unknown, just a few weeks ago, in all honesty. Our campaigns - I was a county official. He's in the House of Representatives. It's a very large electorate. In fact, when we started, one in five, Arizonans had never heard our names.
But we are winning. We're winning the undecided voters, by a two to one margin, over the last set of numbers. And so, I'm excited about continuing this campaign, to help spread the good word.
TAPPER: Adrian Fontes, thank you so much. Enjoy your remaining days on the campaign trail.
FONTES: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up, many celebrities are helping to get out the vote, in this final stretch. Actress and activist, Kerry Washington, is among them. And she's actually in Arizona, right now, trying to get our last guest elected. She's here next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: With just a few days left, until the midterm elections, voter advocates are ramping up their message, to get people out to the ballot boxes, to vote.
Actress and activist, Kerry Washington, is among the others, who have been out there, doing this, tweeting non-stop about the Get out the Vote effort, and posting videos of herself, with candidates, such as Stacey Abrams, and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, both of them running in tight races, in Georgia.
Kerry has also been crisscrossing the United States, and campaigning, in other battleground States, such as Nevada, and Pennsylvania, and most recently, Michigan, where she pleaded with voters, at a rally, for Governor Gretchen Whitmer, to protect democracy.
And Kerry Washington joins us now, from Phoenix, Arizona, where she's rallying tonight.
Man, you never stop! You're campaigning, like you're like running for president. You have my vote, by the way, if you ever choose to decide to do that. But let me ask you, why did you decide to campaign, in Arizona, this weekend? And why is this so important to you to get out the vote?
KERRY WASHINGTON, ACTRESS & ACTIVIST: I'm calling this my SOS tour. It's - we are in an emergency moment. But really, I'm calling it SOS, because I'm focusing on secretaries of state. Because I think we're in a moment where our democracy is on the ballot. And our secretaries of state are the people, who really defend our right to a free and fair election. So, I'm trying to give as much support, to those races, as possible.
Also, because, you know, the presidential elections always get a lot of attention. They're splashy elections. But midterm elections, that's where we really impact our local and state governments, as you know. And secretaries of state, that's one of the many roles that are offices that we're electing this time.
So, just trying to draw people's attention, educate folks, about how much power, they have, in these midterm elections, to protect democracy itself, as well as education, and the environment, and health care, and a woman's right to choose. There's so much that's on the line, in these elections.
TAPPER: It is a crucial, crucial election. And so much is on the line. And as you point out, the Secretary of State Office is so important, even if people never really paid much attention to it, until the 2020 election.
I have to ask. I know, it's important for you. You were just in Georgia. In the United States, I don't believe there's ever been a Black female governor. Stacey Abrams obviously trying to change that.
In addition to everything else you just talked about, you've also said part of your goal is for every American, to be able to see themselves represented, in our government. We've obviously gotten farther than we used to. But we still have a ways to go before we're at that reality, I think. Don't you?
WASHINGTON: I do. Listen, I'm a bit of a romantic. I love those first three words of our Constitution, "We the People."
Even though, when those words were written, "We the People" didn't include women. It didn't include Black people. It didn't even include White men, who didn't own property, right? It was only wealthy White men, who were included in that "We the People" statement.
But I think we're at a time, where we're moving, in this country, toward living up, to those first three words. And we're doing that, in places like Georgia, or in places like Nevada, where I just came from, where we have the only Latina in, as senator. So, we have to protect this ability, for Americans, to see themselves in this process.
Because, listen, these folks work for us, right? Every time that we get paid, we get money taken out of our taxes? And that money is to pay their salaries. So, when a person is an elected official, we have to remind them that we are the boss, they work for us. We have to show up and vote so that they know how to represent us, so that we make sure that the people who are working for us are representing our values.
TAPPER: You remember after--
WASHINGTON: Today is the last day, to early vote, in Nevada and Arizona. I just want to get that out there. It's super important.
WASHINGTON: So, we want to make sure - I'm going places, where there are important Secretary of State races, or places like Pennsylvania, where there's a governor's race, and in that state, the governor appoints the Secretary of State.
TAPPER: Boy! You are well-versed on these issues. I don't think I even knew that until a couple years ago that the Governor of Pennsylvania appoints the Secretary of State. And I'm from Pennsylvania!
But you just reminded me. Do you remember, after Vice President Kamala Harris was elected, there was like an Instagram, little film, where like they showed every Vice President, in American history?
TAPPER: And it was just White man, White man, White man, White man, White man, and all of a sudden, Harris. I don't know if you remember that.
TAPPER: Anyway, your "Scandal" character, Olivia Pope, was notorious for cleaning up political messes.
TAPPER: And I just wonder if you could put on your Olivia Pope hat, right now. What would she make of the fact that voters don't really seem to care about scandals much anymore?
WASHINGTON: I do think people care. I think people care a lot. But I think people don't understand how much power we have, to make a difference, right? I think that there's been some - there's been a disconnect in people understanding that we are the answer to the problems that we're facing.
I think too often people look like a character - look toward a character, like Olivia Pope, or even a particular candidate, to say like, "Oh, that one person in office can save the day, can make everything better. Olivia Pope, you got to help us." But the reality is that each of us has the power to be the solution to the problems that are facing our communities.
When we show up, and vote, when we engage, in our civic activity, we allow ourselves, to participate, in this democracy. Democracy only works because we show up. But when we show up, we really do have the power to transform our communities, and our counties, and our States, and our country, and our world.
So, for me, a lot of why I come out here is not to say like, "Hey, I'm Kerry Washington. You should do what I say, because I'm Kerry Washington. And I'm really powerful." I come out here to say, "You are powerful." I don't have the right to vote in Arizona. I can't vote in Nevada. But I can help remind people that they have the power that they have the capacity, to transform their lives, and make sure that their representatives are actually representing them, to not give their power away.
TAPPER: So, you recently starred in the film, "The School for Good and Evil." Let's take a quick look at a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. CLARISSA DOVEY, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY KERRY WASHINGTON, "THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL": Summon enough passion, and you can accomplish anything!
DOVEY: For you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's such a fun film. And you look like you had so much fun doing it.
Now, you said you channeled Beyonce for your new character. How do you mean that? And what else are you working on?
WASHINGTON: It was more the look, that kind of amazing, blonde textured hair. I mean, if you're going to be a Black woman, wanting to look like royalty, you can't not think of Beyonce. So she's a bit of inspiration,
TAPPER: That's fair.
TAPPER: Fair, yes.
WASHINGTON: I have another film coming out that that I won't tell too much about, but that you helped us out a little bit. So, I'm excited for people to see you. And it's something that we just finished filming, at the company.
And I guess, as I watched that clip, it's so funny, because one of the things that young people always want to talk about, after the film is this idea that no one person is all good or all bad.
And I think it's something important, to remind people, in this political process as well, right that no candidate is perfect. We're not out here trying to put perfect people in office. What we're trying to do is make sure that the people in office are accountable to us, and that they're willing to hear us, and see us, all of us, because that's their job. So, I think, it's really - I love the message of the film. I love the idea that we're all out here, just trying to do the best that we can. And I feel like it's important for me to carry that message both, as a storyteller, but also just as an American, participating in this system.
And I just want to say this, Jake. I so appreciate you having me on the show.
But I have to be really honest with myself, and have enough humility, to know that when I look at the research, the research says that, to be honest, me being on here, telling people to vote, is not as powerful, as their friend, or family member, telling them to vote. That's what the research says.
A famous person can say "Your vote matters." But when somebody in your family or somebody that you're close to tells you to vote, that's what really gets people to take action.
So, for anybody, who's watching, know that you have more power than Olivia Pope. You have more power than Kerry Washington. You, dare I say, have more power than Jake Tapper.
WASHINGTON: Because you can really influence the people in your circle.
TAPPER: Cut her mic!
WASHINGTON: Yes. So, after you're done--
TAPPER: Cut her microphone!
WASHINGTON: After you're done watching - don't - don't cut it off. Don't - don't turn us off. But after you're done watching, get on the phone, get on your text threads, reach out to your people, your circle--
WASHINGTON: --and tell them that you care about them, and you want them to care about themselves, and you want them to vote.
TAPPER: I agree with that, 100 percent! Kerry Washington, always delight. Thank you so much. It's so good to see you.
And we'll be right back.
WASHINGTON: You too.
TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us tonight and all week. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, @jaketapper.
Our coverage continues now with Laura Coates, and Alisyn Camerota.