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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Arizona's Ballot Filled With GOP Nominees Who Deny 2020 Election; Bezos, Jay-Z Considering Joint Bid For NFL's Commanders; Analysts Expect "Massive" Holiday Discounts. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 04, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A top election official in Milwaukee has been fired. The city's mayor says Kimberly Zapata requested military ballots for fake voters through Wisconsin's "My Vote" website.


MAYOR CAVALIER JOHNSON, (D) MILWAUKEE): I will not accept, I will not tolerate, and I certainly will not defend any misrepresentation by a city official involved in elections.


ROMANS: Prosecutors say Zapata sent those ballots to a Republican state lawmaker known for embracing unfounded conspiracies about the 2020 election.

Michigan's Supreme Court refusing to throw out rules that restrict partisan election challengers at polling places. A lower court had ordered last-minute changes that were celebrated by Republicans. Democrats feared it could lead to intimidation of voters and election workers.


JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: These are simple guidelines, which our office has the authority to issue to challengers to ensure the sanctity and serenity of our polling places on Election Day.



ROMANS: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is running for reelection against Republican Kristina Karamo, an election denier.

Some voters in the critical swing state of Arizona have questions about election integrity as GOP candidates there continue to repeatedly cast doubt on the process.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has a closer look.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the crucial swing state of Arizona, Republican nominees up and down the ballot alleged with no substantiated evidence that the 2020 election was stolen.

Take, for example, Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor.

KARI LAKE, (R) ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: Anybody who was involved in that corrupt, shady, shoddy election of 2020, lock them up.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): CNN spoke to voters at a recent campaign event about their confidence in the upcoming elections.

RICHARD SHOTTS, KARI LAKE SUPPORTER: It's hard to trust anybody anymore.

RODNEY CLUFF, KARI LAKE SUPPORTER: If we have honest elections there's no question that Kari Lake will win.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): We asked Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman Bill Gates, who happens to be a Republican, to address their concerns.

BLAKE MARNELL, KARI LAKE VOLUNTEER: I think I'd want to ask him about the extent that they can verify that mail -- ballots that were mailed out are actually filled out by the people they were intended for and returned by them, and not filled out by anybody else.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: On the envelope itself, they fill out an affidavit and they sign an affidavit that indicates that it was them. And then if that signature doesn't match the signature that we have in our voter registration records, then we will call them up and try and confirm did they actually do this.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And I think there's some election officials who have gone through FBI-type training to look at signatures and to compare them, right?

GATES: Yes, absolutely. So many eyeballs are looking at this.

SANDY YOUKHANA, KARI LAKE VOLUNTEER: Do we have people who are trustworthy and who have gone through thorough background checks that we can put in securely knowing that our elections, both sides, can have a fair chance at winning fairly?

GATES: You know, some of them -- it may be their first election, but a lot of them -- we have a track record knowing that these people are trustworthy. We have representatives of the Democratic and Republican Party working together. So even if you do have some sort of rogue actor, there's so many people watching them. We even do have the livestream cameras.

There's so many checks and balances in our system that people just aren't aware of because we've never had to go out and articulate that to people because people have accepted, for the most part, the results of elections.

CLUFF: You've got to get rid of those machines and go to paper ballots counted by the precinct committeemen.

GATES: People vote on paper but we do use a tabulation machine. And again, we've used those for decades. We know that those machines have been audited over and over again. We've shown time and time again by my experts that our machines are not connected to the internet in any way.

And here's the reality. The machines themselves are doing a more accurate job of counting votes than humans do. When the count is over -- when the machine count is over, we do a hand count audit to confirm that the machines are operating properly.

SHOTTS: Just to be honest and do a job for the state and your party. Don't make it personal.

GATES: I agree with him. And so, I am a Republican. But having said that, this is a nonpartisan role that we have. The references made to being personal -- I think all this has gotten horribly personal and the personal insults that are hurled back and forth are not good for our democratic republic. But further than that, it's not good for our civilization -- four our culture. That's why this is so important.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And the election officials in Maricopa County, like Bill Gates who we spoke to there, working extremely hard to try and convey to the public just how safe and secure the elections they're running are. Just how seriously they take their job.

But as you also heard there, they are being attacked. They are being threatened. But they are really hoping that things go OK, or as OK as they can next week.

Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, New York.


ROMANS: All right, Donie. Thank you so much for helping shine a light on just, actually, how elections work.

Just hours from now, we'll get the last major read on the U.S. economy before the polls close. And the two famous billionaires who just might buy the Washington Commanders.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 75. That's the percent of voters polled by CNN who say it feels like the U.S. economy is already in a recession. Now, no one knows for sure if we've been in one or going into one. We won't know, really, until the official recession arbiter, the National Bureau of Economic Research declares one after the fact. And, in fact, the economy did bounce back relatively well in the third quarter.

All right, looking at markets around the world this morning to end the trading week, Asia closed mixed here, though a big pop there in Hong Kong and Shanghai. And you see small gains in Europe. On Wall Street, another bounce back there, about half a percent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

It's after another down day under the weight of more Fed rate hikes ahead. The Fed's rate hikes making borrowing costs more expensive. Cue (PH) mortgage rates. They slipped below seven percent in the past week but they remain near a two-decade high.

The jobs market, so far, has been impervious to these higher rates. October's jobs report is out later today. The forecast is it shows a solid 200,000 jobs added. But layoffs we're seeing this week in tech. Job cuts at Lyft, we're expecting some big ones today at Twitter, and Amazon is freezing corporate hiring.

Gas prices rose a penny overnight, now sitting at $3.79 a gallon.

Let's bring in Mark Hamrick, senior director at Red Ventures. So nice to see you here.


This is the last jobs report before the midterms. What are you expecting?

MARK HAMRICK, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, SENIOR DIRECTOR, RED VENTURES, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, BANKRATE.COM: I think, Christine, we'll continue to see some signs of moderation in hiring, but this is in the context of a still strong job market.

And as we listened this week to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, you can see that he's somewhat amazed and perhaps a little dismayed that the job market has remained as robust as it has. It's a really kind of unusual situation again where there's a bit of a disconnect between what workers want to see and essentially, what the central bank is looking for.

And, of course, we need to sort of diffuse this potential source of inflation when we continue to have inflation running so very hot.

ROMANS: You know, this -- you just heard that number that 75 percent of Americans think that there's a recession. But this is the weirdest recession I've ever -- I mean, you've got such a strong job market and a 3 1/2 percent unemployment rate at a time people are so worried about the economy. It's just very unusual -- these set of circumstances.

HAMRICK: Yes. And what I think I would do in the sense of trying to connect the dots with that, Christine, is to say that we see this, of course, in all kinds of surveys, including our own as well as at Bankrate, as well as those from the conference board at the University of Michigan, is that consumer sentiment is low. And the reason for that is, of course, this worst inflation that we've had in 40 years. For many people, the worst inflation they've had in their lifetime.

And I have yet, really, to have a civilian, so to speak, ask me about the chance of a recession. Yet, we talk about it and it's obviously of keen interest to investors, economists, and economic analysts like myself and it's very important. And the reason why it is important is because recessions tend to coincide with an increase -- here we'll come back to jobs report day -- an increase in the unemployment rate.

ROMANS: Right.

HAMRICK: But as we speak, of course, Christine, that unemployment rate is at a near decades' low level of 3 1/2 percent, which is just amazing.

ROMANS: Yes, and we saw job openings rose again last week. It's just been very interesting to watch here.

Yet, we are seeing some layoffs in tech. I mean, that's a big story here today. And that is a -- you know, an interest rate-sensitive part of the economy. Maybe that's the tip of the spear, I guess, for higher interest rates starting to work in the -- in the job market?

HAMRICK: Well, first of all, let's point to the fact that we've seen a big slowdown in financial services. The housing market -- many in the sector would say is in a recession. And we feed off of the housing market in a number of different ways with home improvement stores, furniture and that can be, in fact, more of that canary in the coal mine with respect to the recession.

You know, technology was going through boom times unlike many other that we've seen perhaps since the year 2000, and so some of that growth was naturally to slow. And as we see declines in commitments for advertising, for example, as well as the utilization of some of the technology tools, as we shift our focus to things like travel and experiences. Leisure and hospitality --

ROMANS: Right.

HAMRICK: -- bars, and restaurants expected to do very well as they continue to make up that deficit from the decline in jobs during the pandemic.

ROMANS: You know, just to button this up, people can't control what the Fed is doing. People can't control whether there's going to be a recession or not. I mean, it's very academic. But what can they control, right? High-interest credit card debt, high-interest debt -- these are the things that matter.

What should people be doing right now?

HAMRICK: Absolutely trying to pay off that credit card debt, which according to the Bankrate average for new offers for the well- qualified users, close to 19 percent.


HAMRICK: Pay that down. Pay it off -- yes. And for store cards, it's as much as 29 percent. Here we go into the holiday season. Save more money. That's one of the areas where higher rates are actually helping us a bit right now with the high-yield savings account.

ROMANS: Yes, that's always -- the advice always is important and solid but in a higher interest rate environment you really need to be careful of that high-interest rate credit card debt. It is just dangerous.

All right, nice to see you, Mark Hamrick, senior director at Red Ventures and Washington bureau chief at Thanks.

HAMRICK: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, the Astros are now one win away from a World Series title after winning in Philadelphia last night.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.


That combined no-hitter in game four --


MANNO: -- maybe gave them a little bit of steam --


MANNO: -- because now they are rolling.

The Astros also sent their ace, Justin Verlander, to the hill to try to do something that he's never done in his previous eight World Series starts, which is win a game. The 39-year-old rose to the occasion though, striking out six, including four in a row at one point.

Rookie sensation Jeremy Pena coming up huge for the Astros again. He slammed a massive solo shot to left, which gave Houston the lead for good.

And then after that, it was the Astros' defense that really came to the rescue. Trey Mancini you're going to see robbing Kyle Schwarber of a hit after this. And this is not bad for a guy who hadn't played the field since October 5.

In the ninth inning, it would be Rhys Hoskins who drove one to deep right and Chas McCormick had to crash into the wall, but he made a spectacular catch.

The Astros win two in a row in Philly to take a 3-2 series lead. Back home, where they can their second title in six years, tomorrow night. [05:50:05]


JUSTIN VERLANDER, HOUSTON ASTROS PITCHER: You know, my boys, my teammates, my family -- they gave me the rookie treatment after the game. They put me in the cart and rolled me in the shower and just doused me with all sorts of stuff. And, you know, it's one of the best feelings in my -- in my career. I just truly love these guys. I love our team.


MANNO: Houston and Philadelphia also playing each other in the NFL last night. Texans hosting the Eagles. The dynamic duo of Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown continuing to shine, hooking up on a 17-yard score in the third, and that was the difference.

The Eagles win 29-17. They are 8-0 for the first time in team history. They haven't trailed in a second half the full entire season.

Elsewhere in the NFL, sources tell CNN Jeff Bezos and Jay-Z are considering teaming up to buy the Washington Commanders. It's unclear if the two have met with the team's current owner, Dan Snyder. Earlier this week, Snyder announced that he was exploring the possibility of selling the franchise, which he has owned for more than two decades, so we'll see what happens there.

Snyder at the center of several scandals and is the target of investigations by the NFL as well as the federal government.

And Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been suspended for at least five games over what the team says is his failure to disavow antisemitism. Hours later, Irving did apologize on social media. He said he didn't mean to hurt anybody. We're going to have much more on this story coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" in just a couple of minutes. A lot to discuss.

ROMANS: But he was standing there in front of reporters and he had the chance to really disavow antisemitism and he didn't.

MANNO: Yes, which I think it would have been more impactful if we would have heard this apology -- if we would have seen this apology.

ROMANS: Right.

MANNO: You know, issuing statements and posts are one thing, but --

ROMANS: Or having somebody on a staff write something. I mean, it sounded like --


ROMANS: -- kind of a canned --

MANNO: And listen, his Instagram -- that might have been coming from him.


MANNO: But until you see him say it, I think --

ROMANS: Right, right.

MANNO: -- I think it loses a little bit of the impact.

ROMANS: Right.

All right, nice to see you. Thank you so much.

All right, the final sprint into the election -- midterm elections. Hear from voters and candidates in key battlegrounds ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING." And just because it's on sale doesn't mean you'll save this holiday season.



ROMANS: All right. We're not even into the first weekend in November, right, and you're probably seeing the holiday displays and the ads already. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Let's bring in CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn. What are the forecasters saying about retail sales this year?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Right. So, it's going to be a challenging holiday season for retailers and the holiday season is the most important stretch of the year for these companies. If they don't do well, sometimes they can't survive into next year.

But analysts are projecting slower growth this year. The National Retail Federation put out an estimate yesterday that sales will grow six to eight percent this year, and that's down from 13 percent --


MEYERSOHN: -- that we saw last year. And that's being driven by lower-income shoppers and middle-income shoppers who have less money in their pockets to spend because of inflation.

ROMANS: So, sales will grow but they won't grow as briskly as they did during the pandemic or in the height of the pandemic.

What does it mean for these seasonal retail jobs?

MEYERSOHN: Right. So, seasonal retail jobs are crucial for hundreds of thousands of Americans. It helps them supplement their incomes to sometimes afford extra gifts, and also get started at companies after the holidays.

ROMANS: Right. MEYERSOHN: But because of this slowdown, we're going to see fewer jobs. Retailers are expected to hire 680,000 workers this year. That's down from more than 700,000 the last couple of years. The good news is, though, that the wages will be a little bit higher.


MEYERSOHN: Best Buy, Target -- their starting wages are $15.00 an hour. Amazon said it's increasing its average starting wage to $19.00. So, fewer jobs but a bit more money in your pocket.

ROMANS: So what should shoppers expect? We've talked a lot about how their inventory has got us so out of whack. I mean, what's going to be on sale for me?

MEYERSOHN: Right. So, if you're in the market for a new T.V., a new couch, or toys, it's going to be a good holiday shopping season for you, Christine. Retailers are dealing with this inventory glut. They misjudged demand. And the supply chain pressures have eased up a bit.

So, good news for shoppers. They're going to mark the products down. Discounts are coming, Christine. As Adobe said, expect discounts to be massive this holiday season.

ROMANS: And that's good for inflation overall. When prices are falling there, that helps bring down the inflation rate.

What's happening at Wayfair?

MEYERSOHN: Right. So, Wayfair was a hot online retailer but most of us have bought all of the couches and tables and chairs that we need. And so, Wayfair has seen its sales slow down and the stock has plunged 80 percent this year. Wall Street has really turned on the company.

And it's emblematic of people kind of being a little bit tired of online shopping. They want to get in stores and experience some new stuff.

ROMANS: But I can't get that jingle out of my head. I mean, I cannot get that jingle out of my head.

You know, I will say I guess this is -- I guess my little personal finance rant here. We just heard one of our guests say that credit card interest rates -- those store card interest rates are really, really high, well into the 20 percent. Be careful if you can't pay for it when the credit card bill comes. Be real careful because high interest rates are real bad for people who are buying stuff that they don't pay for right away. So that's my -- that's my bah humbug advice.

Nathaniel Meyersohn, nice to see you. Have a good weekend.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's Friday, Friday.