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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Abortion, Crime Key Issues in Races Across the U.S.; State Democrats Contend with Low Biden Approval Ratings; Putin Framing Gaza War as Israel and U.S. Against the World; Record-Breaking Heat Sweeps the South, East Before Cold Plunge. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 07, 2023 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, Election Day in America. What voters are deciding in 2023 could signal what we should expect in the 2024 race for president.

Plus, Donald Trump's contentious testimony, ripping the judge and rambling instead of answering questions. Did he help or hurt in his fraud case?

And new revelations from Benjamin Netanyahu. Who could control Gaza after the war and what could trigger a pause in fighting there?


HUNT: Good day to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It is Tuesday, November 7th, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington and exactly one hour from now, voters will be voting as the first polls open in remarkably consequential election considering it is an off year.

Abortion is on center stage in the state level races. None more so than in Ohio where Issue 1 would enshrine a right to abortion in the state's constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court right now also weighing a law that would ban rouge abortion after six weeks.

Democrats and abortion rights groups are urging a yes vote to protect the current 22-week limit.


AD ANNONCER: She could be your neighbor or niece, your sister or daughter. But if she is raped and gets pregnant, a law in Ohio would force her to have a child, with no exception.


HUNT: In Virginia, Democrats hope their defense of abortion rights will help keep control -- win control of the House of Delegates. Virginia Republicans, on the other hand, spotlighting crime as their best hope to take the state senate.


AD ANNOUNCER: Michael Feggans is endorsed by radicals who want to defund our police, and release murderers and rapists from prison. Feggans even implied cops are worse than terrorists.

Karen Greenhalgh is endorsed by Virginia law enforcement.


HUNT: In Kentucky, the popular Democratic Governor Andy Beshear hoping to defy political gravity and keep his seat in that deeply red state.

And Mississippi looking at its most competitive governor's race in years. Republican Tate Reeves faces a tougher than expected challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley. Of course, the fun fact about him that none of us can resist, he is Elvis' second cousin.

Let's bring in Michelle Price, "Associated Press" national political reporter.

Michelle, good morning. Thank you so much for being here on what really is a big day here in electoral politics.

Let's start with abortion rights because this obviously is something that Democrats have seen pay dividends for them after Dobbs overturned Roe versus Wade. And they really are counting on it here. It's obviously on the ballot directly in Ohio. But in Virginia, you know, I'm not sure if you live in this media market.

Obviously, we see -- I see all the ads in northern Virginia. It is relentless and endless as, you know, both Republicans and Democrats have been campaigning on this issue. How do you see it playing out?

MICHELLE PRICE, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, what is interesting about this is, you know, Virginia, we have the entire legislature up for election. And the argument that abortion rights supporters are making is basically, if you give -- we've got two chambers there, and that either of them -- one is controlled by Democrats, one is controlled by Republicans, and either of both can flip.

The argument they're making is that if you give Republicans full control of the government, this will be a change for abortion rights in Virginia. This is one of the few Southern states that -- that has not passed abortion restrictions after Dobbs. So, it's kind of an island there. But we are seeing this as Democrats are using this as kind of a proxy for 2024 to see if this is messaging that they can continue into those races all across the country next year.

HUNT: And we saw some tough polling for President Biden come out over the weekend that has the White House hand-wringing about the presidential race coming up. In '22, in the midterm elections, we saw Democrats overcome. I mean, he had rough numbers then as well, the president, and Democrats did -- many would argue -- better than expected anyway in terms of keeping the House majority, yes, it went to Republicans but by a much smaller margin than a lot of people expected.

What kind of signals are you looking for as results start to roll in tonight that are going to tell us what the landscape might look like as people prepare to head to the polls next year?

PRICE: Well, what's interesting is, you know, last year's midterm elections, Donald Trump or Donald Trump's presence kind of loomed large over a lot of those races. There are candidates that he endorsed. Sometimes he endorsed candidates that were further to the right than more moderate Republicans in those primaries, and he -- you know, in the wake of a kind of lackluster showing for Republicans took a lot of blame.


This year -- these off year elections, they're actually kind of Trump- free. Even though he's running for president, he's in the news almost every day with his court cases, but these are -- abortion is really the only national issue we're seeing throughout all of these. And in Kentucky, Andy Beshear has kind of separated himself from President Biden, so we're not seeing a kind of direct link to Joe Biden's popularity in Kentucky, but Republicans are trying to tie into that.

Donald Trump did hold tele-rallies last night for Tate Reeves and for Daniel Cameron in Kentucky, but those were quiet phone rallies. These are not big, you know, with big cameras. So, this isn't going to give us a great sense of how the 2024 presidential race will go with those candidates. But for the issues of abortion and party as a whole, we could look for signs there.

HUNT: For sure. Let's talk for a second about Glenn Youngkin. He, of course, is the governor of Virginia, not on the ballot himself this time, but he's definitely staked his political future on the results. And, you know, as we kind of outline, basically, we're looking to see do Republicans take total control of the state legislature in Virginia in a way that would potentially, as you alluded to, allow them to pass an abortion ban.

Abortion, obviously, we've talked about how important that is. But Youngkin has basically said, look, if we succeed, I'll think about perhaps running for president, or, he's, you know, put off people who've encouraged him to run for president in this cycle by saying let's see what happens in Virginia first. I want to focus on that.

If things do go well for Republicans in Virginia, we -- I mean, I have no doubt that there's going to be a little bubble of talk about what is Glenn Youngkin going to do. Is he going to get into the primary race? But I'm not sure it's going to make a difference one way or the other in a Republican field that has seen Donald Trump dominant basically throughout.

What are you looking for from the Virginia governor?

PRICE: I mean, we are looking to see if he is successful by taking this -- you know, the credit in the flip if there is a flip, that he would have to immediately start working to travel outside of Virginia, to file for some of these states. He has already missed the filing deadlines for New Hampshire, the second primary, for Nevada to compete there.

He could go to Iowa. In fact, that's where he would probably start going first because he would have to start organizing for a caucus. But you'd have to see him ramping up, spending money, hiring staff, because voting is going to start within ten weeks in some of these races.

HUNT: Yeah, it is very, very late, but I have a feeling that we'll be waking up in the morning tomorrow if Republicans do very well talking about this and we'll see where it goes.

Michelle Price of the "Associated Press", I have a soft spot in my heart for the wire, thank you very much for being here this morning. I really appreciate it.

All right. Chaotic moments with Donald Trump, that's basically status quo with Donald Trump, let's be honest, on the witness stand in New York. Why the judge had to tell his lawyers to get him under control.

Plus, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu talks about Gaza after the war. What he said and more importantly, what he didn't say.



HUNT: Welcome back.

Today marks one month since the Hamas terror attack on Israel. Thousands of miles away in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin trying to paint Israel's resulting war in Gaza as the U.S. and Israel against the rest of the world.

Here's Fred Pleitgen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As Israel's military continues its war against Hamas, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is framing the conflict as part of a global struggle of America and the West against the rest of the world.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's the current ruling elites of the United States and their satellites that are the main beneficiaries of global instability. They extract their blood toll from it.

PLEITGEN: While many nations around the world condemned Hamas after the October 7th raid on southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 and taking hundreds of hostages, including Russians, Russia invited a high-level Hamas delegation to Moscow for meetings.

A top Hamas leader saying the group would give preference to captives from what they call their, quote, Russian friends. MOUSA ABU MARZOUK, CHIEF DEPUTY OF HAMAS'S POLITICAL BUREAU (through

translator): This request from Russia we treat more positively and attentively than others, due to our nature of our relations with Russia.

PLEITGEN: So far, no Russian hostages appear to have been released. Still, Moscow not criticizing Hamas, instead, ripping only into Israel for the many Palestinians killed by the IDF's ongoing aerial campaign in Gaza.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Condemning terrorism, we categorically disagree that terrorism can be responded to by violating the norms of international humanitarian law, including the indiscriminate use of force against targets where the civilian population is known to be located.

PLEITGEN: But, for years, it was Russia that waged a relentless bombing campaign against areas held by rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The U.S. and various international aid groups accuse Moscow of deliberately targeting civilian areas, including hospitals and markets, killing and wounding scores even though the Kremlin has consistently denied those claims.

And Russia's war against Ukraine continues. Moscow once again harming civilian structures overnight in the port town Odesa, wounding several people.

Vladimir Putin, though, trying to argue that Russia is invading Ukraine to help the Palestinians.

PUTIN: These are our soldiers and officers and the choice of a rl man, a real warrior is to pick up arms and stand in line with his brothers, be in a place where the fate of Russia and of the whole world is being decided, including the future of the Palestinian people.

PLEITGEN: Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


HUNT: Our thanks to Fred for that.

And CNN's Max Foster joins me with more.


I'm tempted, Max, after watching and say, okay, Vlad. But let's take it seriously and like explain what it is that he is doing here because as you know and as we've talked about extensively, the way that Vladimir Putin conducts himself in public is very much about he is very aware what is the public message that he is sending, what is he trying to accomplish beyond the words that are actually coming out of his mouth. MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Yeah, so his overriding message, and overtime,

we've talked about this before is, you know, re-establishing a new world order which effectively is making Russia and China stronger and America weaker, always trying to undermine America's leadership on the world stage.

What we got -- I think is interesting here, actually before the war, you saw Russia, Putin, nurturing the relationship with Israel and trying to create an alliance. What he is effectively doing is throwing that relationship under the bus, throwing Israel under the bus and showing support for Palestinians but also sympathy with the wider Arab world.

So if he can get more support from the Arab world for his mission to create a new world order, ultimately, that's going to work in his favor. So he is working the current crisis to fit into that I think.

HUNT: Right, well, and when you think about the way that Putin interacts and the Russians interact with Iran as well, and the fact that, you know, Saudi/Israel, a pact or a normalization agreement threatens Iranian influence in the region and therefore also strengthens the hand of America in the West in the region, it does -- it does all fit together.

Max, let's talk about a little about -- we've got this new interview out this morning that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did with ABC in which he talks about the future for Gaza, which you and I have talked extensively here about what happens, who governs Gaza, if Israelis do succeed in their mission to rout Hamas.

Here's what Bibi, to use the nickname for the Israeli prime minister, had to say about this. Take a look.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we've seen what happens when we don't have it.


HUNT: So he's saying the Israelis will have to take control of the Gaza Strip after this.

FOSTER: Well, it's interesting. I mean, how do you interpret that? So they will have security responsibility and it will be indefinite. What isn't clear about who will have governance over Gaza, because a lot of people are saying, does what Bibi in that interview mean that he's looking to occupy Gaza after the war? I don't think we can look at it that simply, because to occupy, it would also be responsible for governance, which possibly suggests boots on the ground as well.

I'm not sure anything that we've heard from him recently, that's what he wants. So perhaps some sort of international peacekeeping force operating in Gaza, governing Gaza while Israel over oversees security. It's very unclear what he meant there, but I think it will be interpreted by many as looking ahead to an occupation. But I don't think that it is as black and white as that.

HUNT: Yeah, well, certainly, you know, I think those people who are calling for a ceasefire here in the U.S. also are likely to view it in that context in the occupation context.

All right. Max Foster, thank you very much, my friend. Let's see you tomorrow.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: Cheers.


HUNT: All right. Just ahead here, the GOP reveals who made the debate stage in Miami tomorrow because we've got that going on, too.

And how striking Hollywood actors are playing the so-called best and final offer for movie studios.



HUNT: Welcome back.

We've got quick hits across America now.

Nathan Woodyard, the officer who arrested Elijah McClain has been found not guilty in his death. McClain died after being wrestled to the ground by police and injected with ketamine by paramedics in 2019.

A 69-year-old man who suffered a head injury at a pro-Palestine and pro-Israel demonstration has died. Witnesses say he hit his head on the ground in an altercation with a counter-protestor.

The SAG-AFTRA actors union still on strike after receiving the Hollywood studios' best and final offer. They say they still need to agree on essential items such as the use of artificial intelligence.

All right. Record-breaking heat sweeping across the South and parts of the East before a cold plunge later this week. Meanwhile drought- plagued Northwest is expecting an atmospheric river. This is second atmospheric river in as many weeks with needed rain.

Let's get straight to our weatherman, Derek Van Dam, with the latest on all of this.

Good morning to you. What do we got?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know what? I'm trying on to hold on to this summer -- extended summer weather that we've had across the southwest. I went for the most beautiful trail run yesterday. Getting out and enjoy it.

We still have fall foliage in and around the Southeast, so we'll take it. Temperatures are running 15 to 25 degrees above where they should be this time of year, but it's going to be short-lived so good outdoors and enjoy it while you can, because it's this cold front that's going to bring the changes to the eastern half of the country.

Just look how warm it was yesterday. In Texas, this is quite incredible. El Paso shattering their previous record high temperature for the day, sit back in 1988. More of the same from Little Rock, Memphis, and all the way to parts of Missouri.

And going forward, through this week, through about Thursday, we have 80 potential record high temperatures stretching from the Southwest all the way to the East Coast. But look at all the reds and the oranges get replaced with the blues and the greens.


That's because the colder is coming. This is autumn. We expect these cold fronts, so we kind of have that juggle between the two different seasons that battle that happens.

But this is just quite incredible. Had to note this because Lubbock, Texas, on Thursday will be 50. The day before that will be 85. So, we're talking about a 35 degree temperature drop, with that cold front that's coming.

So, here it is, enjoy it, Memphis to St. Louis, and national temperatures in the 80s. And, Kasie, there is that atmospheric that things kind of winding wound, but bringing much needed rain to that area. But that's all part of a larger storm system. It's going to cool us off.

HUNT: Indeed. All right. Back to swinging back and forth while I've been enjoying not having to bundle up the kids but we're headed that way.

Derek Van Dam, thank you very much for that. See you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: All right, yeah.

HUNT: And just ahead here on this Election Day, what a clean GOP sweep in Virginia could mean for Governor Glenn Youngkin, and the 2024 presidential race.

And Trump being Trump on the witness stand. Did he former president just doom his family business in New York?