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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Americans Vote in Midterm Elections; Kari Lake Responds After a Suspicious White Powder was Sent to Her Campaign Office; Iowa Teen Who Killed Her Alleged Rapist Escapes from Custody. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 07, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Right now on EARLY START, one day before the midterms, what both candidates and the voters are saying in the final hours of the race.


KARI LAKE, CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA: We're in dangerous times. This is not the first time we've been -- we've been threatened.


ROMANS: Arizona's Kari Lake after a suspicious white powder was sent to her campaign office. And a potential tropical storm could affect Florida just as voters are heading to the polls.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Christine Romans. Today, one final day of campaigning before it's all in the hands of voters. At stake, control of both houses of Congress along with dozens of top state offices including governor. Early voting still under way in 47 states with more than 40 million ballots already cast. Here is what some voters have been telling us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I drive a truck and it does not get very good gas mileage, and I actually had to quit my last job because I couldn't afford to drive all the way out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is the price of gasoline where it is today? You can't just overlook that issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came up in a union household. My dad was a teamster for 30 years, voted Democrat, but they're completely out of touch with what everyday Americans want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there should be a lot more focus on working class people. It seems like we always get left behind for either the high or the low.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to elect legislatures all across the country who are going to protect women's health rights. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's most important to you with this election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really it's abortion rights I think for me. And just making sure that women have the choice.


ROMANS: All right, in Georgia where the race for U.S. Senate is a virtual tie, Democrat Raphael Warnock will lead get out the vote rallies today in Macon and Columbus. He'll be driving home his closing argument against Herschel Walker, his Republican opponent is holding a rally this evening in the Atlanta suburbs.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): You should ask yourself if the person you're voting for has actually demonstrated any interest in the subject matter. And you can tell if you listen to him talk. And I think character matters.

HERSCHEL WALKER, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATOR: People are going to ask me why I'm running, I'm running because I'm sick and tired of this. And right now, I want Reverend Warnock to know, don't let that door hit you in the back side as you walk out of the people's office. That's what you've got to do. It's time for you to go.


ROMANS: In Pennsylvania, both Republican and Democratic candidates for Senate holding get-out-the-vote rallies tonight. Mehmet Oz in the Philadelphia suburbs and John Fetterman in Pittsburgh. Fetterman pushing an economic message and Oz urging his GOP supporters to ask their Democrats and independent friends a question.


MEHMET OZ, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATOR: Are you happy with where America is headed?


OZ: Give people some room because they're going to run from conservative Democrats and some independents, people want to vote for us this time, but they don't know it yet. So don't spend your time talking to Republicans. We're on board.

JOHN FETTERMAN, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATOR: Dr. Oz, you know, of his immense wealth with ten gigantic mansions has never like personally experienced that or whatever care what -- or even know how much a dozen eggs cost or what any of these kinds of basic -- you know, basically kind of lives, you know, average lives of people in Pennsylvania.


ROMANS: In Ohio, the Democratic candidate for Senate Tim Ryan will be barnstorming the northern part of the state with stops in Strongsville, Kent, Akron and Youngstown. His Republican opponent J.D. Vance holds a rally with former President Trump tonight in Dayton. President Biden and the first lady travel to Columbia, Maryland, today for a get-out-the-vote rally. Let's go to Washington and bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright. Jasmine, what does the schedule look like for the Bidens?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the Bidens are staying close to D.C. this election day eve, Christine. Well, the president will hold virtual events for Democrats ahead of a rally tonight, and the first lady, she heads to Virginia where she attends a political event with embattled Democrat Jennifer Wexton before we will see the pair or the first couple at 7:00 p.m. tonight for a last- minute rally for Maryland candidate Wes Moore who if elected would become only the third black person to be elected governor in the entire country.


Now, I think Christine, we can expect to hear President Biden continue on this theme of democracy, using his closing argument to argue that democracy is in peril in part due to these election deniers on the ballot in the Republican Party. We heard a lot of that last night when he was in New York, stumping for Governor Kathy Hochul. Take a listen here.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you all show up and vote --


BIDEN: Democracy is sustained. Not a joke. This is not hyperbole for the second time. Not a joke. It matters. It's in your hands. And you look, you're one of the reasons why as I said, I've never been more optimistic about the future of this country.


WRIGHT: President Biden now, he had a lot of words for Hochul's opponent Lee Zeldin, really trying to drive home that this election is a choice between the two parties. He says not a referendum on the party that currently controls Congress, his own. The Democrats -- especially as Democrats become more worried about their prospects as the days go on.

Now, the vice president will wake up this morning in California where she headlines an event for California Democrats focused on abortion again, really to continue the string of boosting up women candidates in this last stretch of the election. She's expected to attend with Mayor candidate Karen Bass in California. Christine?

ROMANS: Wow, all right, Jasmine, nice to see you this morning, thank you. Former President Obama delivering a warning to Democrats at a weekend rally in Philadelphia, don't get complacent and do vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I was president, I got my butt whopped in midterm elections. If we had kept the Senate in 2014, we'd have a very different Supreme Court making decisions about our most basic rights.


ROMANS: Well, President Obama's time in office was hampered by gridlock that began when Democrats lost the house during the 2010 midterms and then the Senate in 2014. All right, the scare at the campaign headquarters of Arizona's Republican candidate for Governor Kari Lake, an envelope containing suspicious white powder was opened Saturday by a staffer. The substance is being tested at an Arizona lab. No one was injured.


LAKE: I want investigators to look into it, and I truly want to find the people who sent this because it is wrong that this is happening. And we're going to -- we're going to track these people down.


ROMANS: Her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs released a statement, saying political violence, threats or intimidation have no place in our democracy. I strongly condemn this threatening behavior directed at Lake and her staff. Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tells CNN GOP candidates will accept the results of the midterm elections, but only after letting the process play out.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY: You should have a recount. You should have a canvas and it will go to the courts and then everybody should accept the results. That's what it should be. But I'm also not going to say if there's problems that we shouldn't be able to address that.


ROMANS: And McDaniel was also asked about Republican poll watchers intimidating voters in states like Arizona.


MCDANIEL: Nobody should be intimidating or breaking the law. Nobody should. But poll watching is not intimidating. If you've been at a poll place, you see they're just simply observing, and it helps us at the end to give assurance to the voters, say listen, we were there. We watched it. It went well.


ROMANS: When McDaniel was asked about Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson refusing to commit to accepting tomorrow's election results, she claimed he would once the process plays out. Right, weather adding a new variable in another key midterm state. A subtropical storm in the Atlantic could bring rough weather to Florida on election day. Pedram Javaheri tracking the system. Good morning, Pedram, what does it look like for Florida?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Christine. You know, the latest guidance actually brings the system ashore later on into the week. So we do see this system developing, certainly has the potential to strengthen in the coming days. But good news is, it is well offshore right now. This is subtropical storm Nicole sits there just east of the Turks & Caicos right now, I noticed just an organized complex of thunderstorms, 45 miles per hour sustained winds.

Now, guidance on this kind of meanders this over open waters. By the time it gets to Tuesday morning, by Wednesday morning, it is north of the Bahamas, so again, remains offshore. Don't see any direct impacts to the state of Florida, and then landfall possibly sometime Thursday morning coming ashore there at 70 miles per hour, south Florida, the area of interest here, potentially for some gusty winds, certainly some heavy rainfall once the system moves ashore there.

Again, heavy rainfall towards the latter half of the week across parts of Florida and then eventually parts of the southeast as well. Now, when it comes to weather elsewhere across the U.S., the southern United States here today, kind of generally scattered showers across the region, the eastern U.S., quieter conditions in place, big time warmth in place as well as many as 50 new record temperatures possible around the eastern United States.

And then you'll notice, a front does come through on the drier end of things and bring with it much cooler temperatures. The south cools off on election day, down to 77, eventually the seasonal averages there at 67 in Atlanta, while Philly goes from a mild 76 degree afternoon, down to 59.


Again, dry front comes in, brings with it cooler air, but really not going to be impactful as far as weather is concerned. The western U.S. does have some impacts with a couple of systems coming in. Battleground states of Arizona and Nevada could see some wet weather coming in on --

ROMANS: Yes --

JAVAHERI: To say, Monday afternoon and until Tuesday morning as well, even some high elevations snow showers. So the western U.S. looks to be a bit more active. Christine?

ROMANS: Weather can be a factor on election day, it's why all of this early voting is so interesting, 40 million ballots cast. There's not a weather problem for anybody who cast their ballot. Thank you so much Pedram, nice to see you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you. ROMANS: Ahead, the frantic first moments after a passenger jet

crashed into a lake. Plus, was this house fire caused by a meteorite falling from the skies? And next, the most underplayed Senate race in America might be the most consequential.



SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): And Mehmet Oz is going to win, Ted Budd is going to win, Herschel Walker is going to win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hold this majority. That constitutes a good night.

MCDANIEL: We're going to take back the house. I focus on two numbers, five and one. Five to take back the house, one to take back the Senate --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you do both?

MCDANIEL: I think, yes, I do think we will win both.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I think either we are ahead in these races or we are in striking distance. Look at Mark Kelly, look how well he's doing. We're going to win these races.


ROMANS: All right, both sides there talking up their chances in tomorrow's elections. Look, we don't know for sure who will win, but we know this. Some of those predictions you just heard there will be wrong. Now, let's bring in Sabrina Rodriguez, national politics reporter for "The Washington Post". Good morning.


ROMANS: Let's start in Georgia. We've already seen record early voting there. What are you watching in the final hours?

RODRIGUEZ: In the final hours, we're kind of seeing who has the momentum, who has the energy in their closing pitches. We've seen in these last days that national Republicans have descended upon Georgia. They're really feeling excited here. They're really starting to feel that Walker can really win even though polls have consistently shown us that Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate has been up consistently.

But right now, it is a neck-and-neck feeling. I mean, looking at events and the hundreds of people coming out for Walker, it's understandable why Republicans feel that they've done a good job at animating their base. But like you said, it's -- we're not going to know until tomorrow night or maybe even after that. There's a big question in Georgia around if we will have to see another runoff again --

ROMANS: Yes --

RODRIGUEZ: Which will add a whole other move to us be going out the Senate majority.

ROMANS: And that is such a fascinating race too, because you have one candidate who is seen to really animate the Christian conservatives, and the other candidate is actually a pastor.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, absolutely. I mean, when you see Herschel Walker stumping, I mean, he's really trying to focus in on religion and focus in on he is more Christian than Warnock and kind of talking about, well, this is my interpretation of the Bible compared to the one that we're seeing from Warnock. And it really has taken a life of its own in that -- you know, back and forth over who is, you know, more religious --

ROMANS: Right --

RODRIGUEZ: And who is the one that gets those voters.

ROMANS: Well, let's go to Nevada now. A tight race there for the incumbent Senator Cortez Masto. The first Latina ever elected to the Senate. She's struggling though with Latino voters. What's going on there?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, the biggest struggle right now is not necessarily whether Latinos in Nevada are going to go out and vote for Adam Laxalt, and they're going to, you know, switch parties and vote Republican. But if thousands of Latinos are just going to stay home, the reality is, after the pandemic, one of the states that was the hardest hit economically, hardest recovery in terms of jobs.

So people are frustrated. And the reality is, for a race like Cortez Masto, you know, she won in 2016 just by fewer than 27,000 votes. And Latinos in Nevada make up one in every five eligible voters. So just looking at those numbers, if a few thousand people decide to stay home because, we feel like, you know, she hasn't done enough to help us economically, we don't feel like Democrats have really come through in the last two years with recovery, I mean, that will cost her the race if that played out.

ROMANS: Yes, I guess, you know, when we see the top of the polls, it's always the economy. I guess a place like Nevada is where we'll really see how the economy and the concerns about the economy played out with so many of those working class voters.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. And we've seen it in the polling. I mean, it was a CNN poll that raised a lot of alarm for folks early on in October that showed that she was just getting just over 50 percent of Latino support, when she should be getting numbers up in the 60s -- when we look at, you know, historic trends with Latino voters.

ROMANS: All right, let's go to Miami. We're also seeing a surge in Latino support for Republicans over the past few years. What's that going to mean? How is that going to translate in Florida?

RODRIGUEZ: I mean, in Florida, we're expecting -- it's very possible that Miami-Dade County will flip Republican. And it's important to look at Miami-Dade, where it has been a Democratic stronghold. I mean, in 2016, we saw that Hillary Clinton won by 30 points. In 2018, we saw that Ron DeSantis lost by over 20 points. And now, there's a great chance that he could become the first governor, the first GOP gubernatorial candidate to win in over 20 years, that will be because of a lack of investment from Democrats.

After losing the state, now multiple cycles and seeing that they didn't do very well in Miami-Dade in 2020 with Biden, they haven't just made those investments. And instead, Republicans have doubled down in their messaging, and saying, you know, we're the ones that are going to help you economically. We're the ones that are going to fight socialism, which is a message that resonates in a community where there are so many Hispanics that have fled -- regimes and such.

ROMANS: Sabrina, you're from Florida. Is weather going to be any factor, do you think? We're watching the -- we're watching the weather there.

RODRIGUEZ: It always is the question mark. We didn't have the big October surprise, I would say, in November. I always watch out. You know, we didn't -- with Hurricane Ian, for example, we thought would that have a big effect? It hasn't necessarily.


But in literal -- you know, going out to the polls, that can have an impact.

ROMANS: All right, that's -- you've got one job today, America, is to get ready and go to the polls tomorrow. Nice to see you, Sabrina. Sabrina Rodriguez of "The Washington Post". Right, quick hits across America now. Pieper Lewis, the Iowa teenager who killed a man she said raped her has escaped from custody. Officials say she cut off her ankle monitor and walked away from the residential corrections facility where she was an inmate.

Philadelphia police are on the hunt for multiple people who are suspected of firing guns into a crowd just outside a bar this weekend. The shooting injured at least nine adults. Officials in northern California are now investigating whether a mysterious ball of light tumbling down from the sky on Friday night may have been a meteorite that landed on a home, igniting and destroying it.

Next, a global climate summit kicking off with a sobering warning. And a standoff in Sicily over migrants waiting on board a ship.



ROMANS: Just moments ago, opening ceremonies kicked off the U.N.'s annual climate summit in Egypt. Researchers, advocates and the U.N. all warning that governments are nowhere near the goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius. CNN's David McKenzie joins us live this morning from Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Good morning. Carbon and methane emissions, David, hit record levels in 2021. How will this summit help convince global leaders to slash their numbers and get back on track?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, good morning, you know, I hate to be the bearer of bad news this morning. But if you look at the numbers, they make for very bleak reading. As you say, the world is nowhere close to meeting those emissions targets that will mean that we warm by on or less in 1.5 degrees centigrade, and we could go way hotter than that.

And if you look just at this year, the climate catastrophes we've been dealing with, Hurricane Ian in Florida, the massive floods in Pakistan that already flooded much of that country leading to massive devastation. Scientists have now proven that these kind of disasters are worse because of climate change. Others like the heat wave in Europe wouldn't have even happened before.

They're impossible without the existing climate change that we're dealing with right now. Like global leaders from around the world are descending on Sharm El-Sheikh on the Red Sea to try and hash out some kind of agreements. But as it stands now, all countries need to improve their emissions targets, including the U.S. and China, particularly to get us to a more livable future.

President Biden will be here later this week, trying to rally people around the White House's plans regardless of what happens during the midterm elections. One of the big contention points though, is that developing countries, poorer countries feel that they have very little to do -- very little responsibility over climate change with historic emissions, but they're being punished by the effects of climate change.

One tense bit of negotiation here, Christine, will be those countries trying to get money, funding, not just to adapt to what we see in the future, but also because people are now admitting that we haven't done enough to stop climate catastrophes like those floods, droughts and hurricanes I spoke about. And so they need funding to get over those systems, to try and get their lives back together.

This really is a critical decade to solve the problem of climate change, whether they can do this in the next two weeks remains to be seen, but there will be very heated discussions I think, indeed. Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely, all right, David, thank you so much for that. David McKenzie in Egypt. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning of more Russian attacks on his country's energy and water infrastructure, saying Moscow is using weapons from Iran.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): The whole world will know that the Iranian regime helps Russia prolong this war, and therefore prolong the effects of those threats to the world provoked precisely by the Russian war. If it was not for the Iranian supply of weapons to the aggressor, we would be closer to peace now.


ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz standing by live in Kyiv for us. Good morning, Salma. You know, the mayor of Kyiv says the attacks are now affecting the capital. You've got families that have as you've been reporting, you know, some days they only have half a day, they have electricity. How is the mayor dealing with these threats to utilities in the city?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, what they're doing now is they're preparing for the worst case scenario which would essentially be a complete failure, a complete blackout, a complete loss of Ukraine's energy infrastructure. What officials are doing is they're setting up emergency centers. These would be big areas that would be powered by generators that families could potentially go to get heating, to get to a clean bathroom to be able to sleep.

Look, let me just paint the scenario here how the situation is. Families here have these scheduled power outages, they last about three to four hours, there's generally a couple of them a day. Often times, they go even longer because there's such an energy deficit. So, as you said, it's not uncommon to hear of a family going half a day without any electricity, without being able to heat their homes or light their living rooms or charge their phones or even cook a warm meal.

And it's just a matter of when the next Russian missile lands. Of course, that's why everyone here really bracing for impact. The mayor even saying, if you have family outside of Kyiv that have running electricity, consider staying with them. He says President Putin wants people here to freeze to death. And it's hard not to accept that that's the intention behind the attacks on critical infrastructure.

That's absolutely the Kremlin's motivation to try to break the will of the Ukrainian people, to try to ramp up the cost of this.