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Inside Politics

Manchin And Schumer To Meet With Biden In Delaware This Afternoon; DOJ Weighs Criminally Prosecuting Bannon For Defying Jan. 6 Subpoena; McCarthy Ally Warns GOP Consultants They Can't Work With Cheney; Top Dems Descent On Virginia Ahead Of Election Day; The Next Step In The Pandemic Fight; Senator Sinema Stymies Democratic Agenda. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 24, 2021 - 08:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you to all of those people that are working so hard to make it happen for us. We hope you have a great morning. Go make some great memories this week.

And thank you Ryan for waking up early for us.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for having me, Christi. It was great to be on with you and the crew.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with Phil Mattingly.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST (voice-over): The negotiator and chief turns the closer in chief. Can President Biden clinch his sweeping domestic agenda in a matter of days?


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's was all about compromise. Compromise become a dirty word. But bipartisanship and compromise still has to be possible.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): In the House hold Steve Bannon in contempt.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): This isn't about punishing Steve Bannon. We believe Mr. Bannon has inflammation valuable to our probe.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): It's the January six probe forces the GOP to take sides. According to black vote in an unexpectedly tight Virginia governor's race, will it be the key to keeping the Commonwealth blue?


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STAES: We're at a turning point right now. There's a mood out there, we see it, the politics of meanness and division.


MATTINGLY: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS Sunday. I'm Phil Mattingly in for Abby Phillip.

This was the week everything shifted at the White House, a clear pivot from listening mode to let's get to the finish line mode. After weeks of back and forth negotiations, President Joe Biden and top Democratic lawmakers are closer than ever to a final Build Back Better Bill now targeting a roughly slimmed down $1.7 trillion framework.

Now, can this get approved before Biden leaves on his foreign trip and just days? I'll slim majorities in both chambers, it mean it could just take one member to torpedo.


BIDEN: When you're in the United States Senate, and you're a president of United States and you have 50 Democrats, everyone is a president, every single one, so you got to work things out.


MATTINGLY: That is the reality.

Top Democratic priorities like tuition free community college and a corporate tax rate hike are officially out. The progressive now say they'll take something over nothing.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Everyone may not get everything they want, but that we will get something that will really be significant in terms of childcare, universal childcare, universal pre-K, home and community based care, a significant investment in climate change, even though it's, again, not going to be everything we would have wanted in there.


MATTINGLY: Joining me now with their reporting and insight, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post," Zolan Kanno-Youngs of "The New York Times" and Molly Ball of Time Magazine.

And we start with some breaking news. We are learning, according to people familiar with the matter, that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin, one of those key centrist Democrats the White House has been trying to wrangle into line for this package, are heading to Delaware, where President Biden currently is, to meet with the President trying to work through some of those issues. Hat tip to friends of the show, Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle over Politico who broke that this morning, made all of our jobs a little more complicated in the drive into the show.

Seung Min, I want to start with you. All of us at the table have been covering this, you've been covering this particularly closely. You know, I want to take a look pull up right now what's in, we think, what's out, we know. The end is a little bit more in flux than what's out.

And you see what's in is still transformative to some degree, scaled back, but you know, universal pre-K is definitely in. Expanded child tax credit, the shape of it's still in flux, but definitely in. Paid leave, very much a part of debate right now. Child nutrition programs, expanded Medicare coverage, very much a part of the debate right now.

Enhanced ACA subsidies out, we know for a fact. Corporate tax rate hikes, out. Tuition free community college, out. Clean electricity program, that was the focal point of the climate peace is out.

Where are we right now in terms of how does this get wrapped up? And does it in the next five or six days?

SEUNG MIN KIM, "WASHINGTON POST" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there is. Well, people were optimistic.

Early last week, leaders were optimistic that there was going to be a framework by the end of this week. Didn't happen. But they certainly are getting close because you are finally starting to winnow down, OK, in reality, what is it and what is out?

It's a question that we had been asking as reporters for some time because we knew that with the realities and kind of the boundaries of spending that Senator Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, another critical moderate, were going to oppose on the Democratic Party, that they were going to have to get rid of some of their priorities.

And they've started to do that this week. And this was made clear with president's meetings -- with President Biden's meetings with lawmakers earlier this week. Obviously spilled the beans in the CNN town hall in Baltimore, all these details of these negotiations that we've been trying to get on the record.

But now the reality setting in. And they are -- there are still significant battles over a lot of these remaining provisions.


And the expansion of the Medicare benefits to cover hearing, dental, vision is a really interesting one because that is one where Senator Manchin has been really not willing to get on board with. But on the other end for Bernie Sanders, if Bernie Sanders has a red line, that is it, this is the biggest priority for him. He made it clear in a series of tweets last night that this is what the American people want, this is going to be in the package.

So, how do they kind of massage those two views? I'm sure that's going to be discussed in Wilmington today with those -- with President Biden, Senator Manchin, Senator Schumer. MATTINGLY: Amy, one of the things that I've been trying to figure out, you know, they're not necessarily cutting things, right? They're taking things away from the package, but these things didn't exist in the first place. And whether it's 1.5, or 1.7, or two, it is still a sweeping package in a huge deal.

But when you start so ambitious and you have to pare back and you set the baseline at a level that probably wasn't mutable at any point, how did Democrats deal with the reality of where this package is likely to end up if they reach an outcome?

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, I mean, part of it is going to be how do you sell this package? And that's been the problem from day one, because we've all been discussing the number and not the policies that are within that number. So I think that's been important.

The other thing is, where is the public right now in terms of the things that they are concerned about at this moment in time? And we know that the economy, specifically things like inflation, are really important issues.

Not that these aren't important issues, but in terms of their day to day salient, I think what a lot of people are worried about is things cost more? How is this going to help my life today in filling up the gas tank, in filling up my shopping cart? And how long is going to take for these things, there's going to be transformative, Democrats tell me, how long is it going to take to actually reach me?

And so, it feels still very much of a theoretical, when in people's day to day lives, they're still struggling with, you know, in COVID, obviously. Still struggling with that as well.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's complicated. And obviously, it's had an effect on the President's approval ratings.

WALTER: Right, right.

MATTINGLY: No question about it. The whole array of things.

Zolan, one of the interesting dynamics of the last week, and we'll talk about it in more detail later in the show, but has been, you know, we now know, very bluntly, where Senator Sinema stands on taxes. And the idea of raising the corporate rate seem to be the lowest hanging fruit possible to raise about $500 billion to help pay for your proposal. This was how the President was talking about increasing taxes throughout the last nine months.


BIDEN: Wealthy people aren't paying the taxes they owe. We're going to change that.

I'm a capitalist, I think you should be able to make a lot of money in America, but just pay your fair share.

Big corporations and the very wealthy going to start paying their fair share.


MATTINGLY: Now, the President's first point, tax enforcement still very much in play in this proposal. I think you can raise a decent chunk of money. But the idea right now that the 2017 Trump tax cuts are almost certainly going to survive on the rate side of things, my -- what a turn of events.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, "NEW YORK TIMES" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes, yes. And you're seeing the President also get pretty candid as well, not just talking about in a way to pitch the plan, but also this week as well during a town hall specifically calling out the senators position also on raising corporate tax.

I mean, it's fascinating -- this is what kind of makes -- even though you'll hear from White House officials and members of the Democratic Party say we're getting close, you know, the goal is to get this before the President, you know, obviously goes on the global stage, goes overseas. This question is pretty much what still has some uncertainty about the timeline here.

We can talk about all of these policies, how they're getting slimmed down, what's going to be in what's going to be out, but until we finalize this here how you finance this plan, that's really the big question mark going forward. And it will be interesting, as well, with news coming out now that because of the senators opposition, that, you know, the Democratic -- the Democrats negotiating on this, as well as the White House might be leaning towards more of a tax plan that would specifically tax billionaires, a wealth test to finance this as well.


WALTER: Yes. Can I just make one point, which is, this is a classic example of why passing legislation? Whatever is in it is the endgame, because it's really hard once you've passed something to get rid of it.

KIM: Right.

WALTER: I mean, 2017, it seemed like every Democrat was against that tax bill. This is going to be so easy, we just pare some of that back. And even that is a challenge.

So, getting something across the finish line, no matter what it looks like --


WALTER: -- you get it into law, it's hard to get rid of it.

MATTINGLY: Well, it's the --

WALTER: Even if it's sunset.

MATTINGLY: It's the Teddy Kennedy theory of the case, right? WALTER: Right.

MATTINGLY: Like get a piece of it in --


MATTINGLY: -- and then you can build on it. Once it's in place, it's hard to take out. It's why they've tried to keep as many of these proposals in as possible, even if they have to pare them back.

I was struck this week, I think all of us were, how candid Joe -- President Biden was at that town hall saying all the things in public. We've been like burning the phone lines for the better part of the last several months.

What's your read right now on the White House shift, or at least my read at it, what's the shift this week in terms of being more upfront about what's happening? Where they stand? Where they want to get things? Why?

MOLLY BALL, TIME MAGAZINE NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a really interesting decision of -- on the President's part to be so candid at that town hall. And clearly strategic, right, because there has been this shift to a more active mode as you mentioned. And so there's an attempt to message that as well to say, we are pushing.


This is -- because there is a feeling that this is all just been mired in process to the point that it's just kind of a mess. Now there is a thing that you hear a lot on Capitol Hill, when these big negotiations are happening, nothing is final until everything is final.

MATTINGLY: Is that -- have you heard that as a -- always.

BALL: So that -- and so, it's easy to say, you know, this is in, this is out. Nothing is actually really in or out until it's all done. And it's not done until it's done. And I think the biggest anxiety is just to put some points on the board.


BALL: Almost to the point that, of course, they still care what's in it, but just getting something done now.


BALL: And that, too, is in some ways a strategy, right? When you drag out a negotiation this far, you increase everybody's desire to just get the -- to yes. So, the hope is that now that we're in that state, now that everyone is some combination of optimistic and anxious, that that is the sort of -- that that will lead to some kind of agreement. But there are so many -- there's so much that's still up in the air that it's hard to imagine that it happens.

MATTINGLY: Yes, every single piece of this in and of itself would take months or years to turn into actual legislation and they're doing them all at once.

Seung Min Kim, we've got about 20 seconds left, which is perfect amount of time for me to ask you, will they have a vote on both bills by the time the President arrives in Glasgow, Scotland?

KIM: That seems really unlikely. I feel best case scenario is perhaps a framework that is detailed enough for progressives to be able to move -- allow them to move forward with that bipartisan infrastructure package that has been held up in the House over the next few days. But that seems best case scenario at this point.

MATTINGLY: Yes, drafting this legislation, tax policy hard.

All right. Up next. Tensions on Capitol Hill remain high as the probe into the January 6 insurrection escalates.



MATTINGLY: The wide-ranging scope in the January 6 panels work is really starting to take shape.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Bannon's own public statements make clear he knew what was going to happen before it did. And thus, he must have been aware of and may well have been involved in the planning of everything that played out on that day.


MATTINGLY: Steve Bannon's contempt charge now in the hands of the Justice Department, a classic Washington added seems to be taking shape, follow the money.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): You don't knock over the US Capitol and wound 140 officers and storm the Capitol and lay state of siege to the Congress without any money being behind it. This was an expensive operation and lots of money was spent, lots of money was raised. And we do intend to get to the bottom of the financial dimension of this attack on American democracy.


MATTINGLY: So guys, there will obviously be a really interesting piece of this because there was a ton of money raised by everyone involved. I feel like after some of which was used for January 6, others who knows where it went.

But the first thing, you've covered law enforcement, you've dealt with the Justice Department over the years, the pressure that's on the Attorney General right now, right? You have a congressional contempt charge, it's now in their hands, they very often don't go anywhere at all. What does the Justice Department do in this situation?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Yes, I mean, look, there's multiple factors here all contributing to a lot of pressure on Merrick Garland. And I think when you saw him also on the Hill, it really stress that they're just going to stick to the facts and have a fair investigation here. That was indicative of some of that pressure.

But there's going to be criticism, and really accusations as well, by those who are opposed to this investigation into January 6, a political influence influencing this, the Justice Department's actions.

The President's comments also didn't exactly do favors to those in the Justice Department this week, when he said that he does believe that those defines congressional subpoenas when it comes to complying with this investigation should be prosecuted.

Now, of course, the White House did walk that back, but the pressure still is there for the Attorney General, as he looks to convey the message that this is going to be a fair investigation. Remember, Justice Department is also balancing this as well with what's going on in Congress with that investigation with one of the largest investigations of their own into January 6 prosecuting hundreds of people there that day.

MATTINGLY: Yes. You talk about the Balancing Act. Obviously conservatives will attack anything he does and say that it's politically driven. But also take a listen to what Adam Schiff had to say earlier this week.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I think there's a real desire on the part of the Attorney General, for the most part, not to look backward. Do I disagree with that? I do disagree with that. And I disagree with, most vehemently, when it comes to what I consider even more serious offenses.

In my view, you don't ignore the crimes that have been committed by a president of the United States. They need to be investigated.


MATTINGLY: I'm just -- it's so intriguing to see Democrats, I don't want -- it's not over pressure in the sense of like, I'm going to fire you or anything like that maybe that we saw in the last administration, but they're trying to put their thumb on the scale here because of what they believe is a necessity. But it just feels like that she's a little bit on the other foot right now. And that's interesting to me.

BALL: Yes. I mean, I do think we have to be clear that the extent to which President Trump interfered with the operation of the Justice Department was a whole another universe --

MATTINGLY: Right. Totally. BALL: -- from what we're seeing now.

A couple of stray comments, yes, they do create that appearance that there is some kind of interference. But what I think what we've seen with this Justice Department, if anything, is that the Attorney General is quite independent in the decisions that he makes. And he has made a lot of decisions that have caused quite a lot of chagrin to Democrats, like Congressman Schiff who would like to see him be more aggressive.

And I think part of the reason that they did the contempt vote on the Bannon's subpoena specifically was the feeling that this is the most clear cut and clearly authorized congressional subpoena process.


Here's someone who is trying to take refuge in executive privilege, despite not having been anywhere near the administration in early year --


WALTER: Right.


BALL: -- at the time this occurred.

WALTER: Right.

BALL: So the idea is, here's the most clear cut case we can take, and -- but then they just have to wait and hope because the whole point of this idea that we're, you know, restoring the rule of law and the independence of the Justice Department is that it is a bit of a black box, and it does make its own decision.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's going to be fascinating to watch play out.

The other thing tied to this, obviously, is the split in the Republican Party that we've seen that we've seen with Congresswoman Cheney, Congressman Kinzinger to some degree as well. But very good friend of the show, Jonathan Martin (ph), had this great story this week about a key McCarthy ally, his top fundraiser, one of his closest outside advisors, basically warning consultants, you cannot work with Liz Cheney at this point in time. We've seen this in like primaries before, but the idea of going after a former member of leadership --

WALTER: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- in saying -- like trying to cut her consultants off at the knees --

WALTER: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- that's a huge deal and a big play for a close advisor of the majority or potential next speaker the House. WALTER: Yes. I mean, I think this has been fascinating, as you watch, you know, where we were during the 2020 campaign, and there was this idea of, if you elect Joe Biden, at least this was the message of the Biden campaign, we're going to get back to normal. But a lot of people for normal, again, going back to a traditional Justice Department, going back to sort of traditional rules of the road, that's not really where they actually want it to be.

They thought that's where they want it to be. Many Democrats thought that's where they want it to be. But now they want to play hardball.

On the case of Republicans, it is a sense, we want to move beyond Trump, we have to move beyond Trump. But there will always be that lingering presence of Trump in everything that we do. We need to look forward, but we can't afford to lose our base.

I think for Republicans, there's -- well, in everybody actually in this entire process of January 6, there's a long game and the short game. The short game on what the political repercussions are going to be from this investigation are probably not going to be as significant as many Democrats would like them to be. They sure would like the election in 2022, in some ways, to be a referendum on what happened on January 6. I doubt that's going to be the case.

But in the long game, if you're Liz Cheney, if you're other Republicans, if you're Democrats who are pushing for this you say, we're going to be vindicated, maybe it's in a few years, maybe it's in the history books --


WALTER: -- but it will come out.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Now it'll be -- it's a fascinating calculation --

WALTER: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- that everybody's making much more towards the short game, I think.

Why do you keep focusing on January 6, as the former president puts out in his 800 statement?

All right. Coming up next, after Republicans blocked the Voting Rights Bill, could Senate Democrats be closer to getting rid of filibuster?


BIDEN: Each and every time Senate Republican is blocked by refusing even to talk about it, they're afraid to even just debate the bills in the U.S. Senate, as they did again yesterday, even on a bill that includes provisions that they've traditionally supported. It's unfair, it's unconscionable. It's un-American.



MATTINGLY: The equivalent of a Democratic dream team has descended on Virginia as liberals worry about a lack of enthusiasm and whether that could sink Democratic governor hopeful Terry McAuliffe. Former President Obama, Vice President Harris, Stacey Abrams, they've all drawn crowds across the state urging voters, and in particular black voters, to turn out ahead of next Tuesday's election.

Now the rally in Richmond, Obama called on voters to reject Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.


OBAMA: We need you to vote. But I know a lot of people are tired of politics right now. You're going to decide the selection and the direction of Virginia and the direction of this country for generations to come. Don't sit this one out.


MATTINGLY: It's notable that everybody at the table nodded their head when he said you're tired of politics right now. Well, have a politics for a living.

Amy, I want to start with you, because you have a great piece talking about concerned voters showing up in 2022, which seems to be the focus of what Democrats are doing right now, recognition.

And part of the piece says, there's also been empirical and anecdotal evidence of a decided drop in enthusiasm among younger voters and voters of color. A recent Pew Research survey found that while Biden's overall job approval had slipped, some of his biggest drops in support came from young voters dropping 14 points and black voters dropping 18 points. That seems to the extent I've been on the phone with people about this race at the center of the real concern right now, is that correct?

WALTER: That's absolutely right. In part, because just what President Obama said, which is people turned off politics after the 2020 election, a lot of Democrats turned it off. OK, Trump lost, cut, I'm going to go back to my regular life.


Well, Democrats are saying, yes but you can't go back to your regular life. He's still an existential threat. You have to come out and vote.

And in talking with at least focus group format, younger African- American voters, what you hear is a sense of frustration that all the things that Democrats came and said were existential threats in 2020 and that they're going to fix -- police reform, voting rights -- those have been put on the back burner, or the issue is we can't do it because of the filibuster.

Meanwhile, they are promoting and we've just spent a whole lot of time talking about the Build Back Better agenda and infrastructure, which it's not -- again, it's not that they don't care about those things, but that is not the top of mind issue and that's not what turned them out to vote in 2020.

So they feel a sense of disappointment which is normal. The party that wins has a lot of expectations put upon them by the coalition that got them there. But it is this sense that, you know, if Democrats really cared about us, if they really weren't just coming to us for votes, they would find a way to get this voting rights thing done. They'd find a way to get police reform done.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: So -- and this is a great point.

I want to dig on some Virginia numbers in a second but I want to talk about the filibuster with the two of you because we saw the president tease, perhaps, moving in the direction that Amy is talking about at the CNN TOWN HALL. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If, in fact, I get myself into, at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: When it comes to voting rights, just to clear though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.


MATTINGLY: I love how candid he was about -- I'll lose three votes.

Look, the president doesn't have a vote here. And I want to make that as abundantly clear as possible. And people are like, why isn't the president doing more on x, y, z.

The president can say whatever he wants. The president doesn't get to vote to nuke the rules. 50 Democratic senators would have to do that. Do Democrats have 50 senators to --



MATTINGLY: And we're not laughing at the idea of people pushing this. I think the issue -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong here -- is that there are at least two, I think probably a few more than that, who are opposed to it which is the real roadblock here. Not what President Biden says or does or what Chuck that. It is those Democrats.

KIM: Right. And I think, you know, President Biden can use the bully pulpit as much as he want, you know, in any way he wants to push Democrats on the issue of voting rights, to push them on the issue of the filibuster.

But that ultimately is not what is going to change the calculus of whether this rule actually fades from the Senate books.

And I think what was instructive of how far President Biden's influence can go, especially in these hot-button issues like the filibuster, is the fact that, you know, going back to our earlier discussion about the Build Back Better agenda, it only took one senator, Kyrsten Sinema to stand up and say, I do not support raising the corporate tax rate, a position that virtually everybody else in our party holds and President Biden says, ok, you got it.

So that shows you how much President Biden has to cater to people like Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, who are both very stubborn in their own right.

And I think that what's been instructive to me of President Biden's style is when recently a White House press secretary Jen Psaki said about kind of his negotiating style with senators, she said, look, President Biden was a senator for 36 years. He didn't like it when presidents told him what to do and he's certainly not going to tell senators what to do.

And I think that's really instructive of his thinking, his approach to members of Congress, especially members of the senate.

MATTINGLY: That's a really great point. But the president did open the door --

KANNO-YOUNGS: He did, yes.

MATTINGLY: -- and I think that makes it more of a conversation. Jen Psaki on Friday, you were in the briefing, sitting right behind me, asking better questions than me, as he always does -- it's so frustrating -- where she said, we're going to talk about this more later.


MATTINGLY: Tease, tease --

KANNO-YOUNGS: Not a lot of details, though.

MATTINGLY: By design.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Few details.

MATTINGLY: But what is the later here? What's the White House calculation?


KANNO-YOUNGS: That's the thing. I mean his comments now, obviously, there's going to be more focus on what he actually means in terms -- first of all, what issues would actually warrant this using the bully pulpit to kind of up the pressure. But also what this looks like -- the other comment that stood out to me during the town hall though, kind of related to this, especially going back to Amy's point about the policies that we often discuss when it comes to the filibuster -- police reform, voting rights -- is one he pretty much acknowledged when he was asked about it.

He acknowledged, look, I'm also disappointed we haven't seen results there. And he said, I'm paraphrasing, but that he has been so focused on reconciliation on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that moving forward, he would have that focus there.

Look, that directly connects to something like the Virginia race, where you have young voters that are waiting to see exactly that and some have criticized also the lack of apparent focus or what seems to be priority when it comes to those issues.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And it's a perfect segue back to the Virginia race and back to Molly.

Molly, I want to pull up a Monmouth poll, which talks about kind of what are the important issues in the race.

And it's one poll that -- polls are kind of all over the place right now to some degree. Jobs and economy at 27 percent; Education and school at 21 percent which is the thing I think that's up 6 or 7 points from where they were just last month.


MATTINGLY: That has been what Republicans have focused on. That is where Republicans are trying to eat away at Democratic advantages in the suburbs. There's no question about it right now.

When you look at this race and when you talk to people involved in this race, where do you see this race going in the next week?

BALL: Phil, I don't know who's going to win the election in Virginia. Why would you even ask me about that?

MATTINGLY: I was asking broadly about the race, not for a specific but if you did know --


MATTINGLY: -- that would be impressive.

BALL: One of these candidates is going to win. It might be the Democrat or it might be the Republican.

Now, but to be serious, Virginia is always an important bellwether, and not just because I live there. Although that's one significant reason.

We talk about Democrats trying to gin up enthusiasm in their base, and that's obviously a huge anxiety that they're having going into the midterms. But the flipside of that coin is the suburban vote, is the voters who turned against Trump, but who were not liberals.

And there are a lot of people in these northern Virginia suburbs that I'm going to go back to in about half an hour, who the Democrats and Republicans are both very anxious about these swing voters who are being activated on issues like education, which I don't think a lot of us would have seen coming necessarily a year ago, particularly since the education controversy isn't even primarily about COVID. It's about curriculum.

And so there are -- and it's a proxy for the culture wars. So you have these culture war issues that may or may not be motivating to swing voters. And that I think is why both parties, in addition to wanting to control Virginia, is part of why both parties are watching this race so incredibly closely.

MATTINGLY: So what you're saying is it's probably going to come down to turnout?

BALL: You know, it might. It just might.

MATTINGLY: The beauty of this show is we don't make predictions. We don't know things. But obviously we'll be paying a lot more attention to this in the days ahead. This is extraordinarily important. I'll keep bringing Amy, who's got great stuff on this constantly.

All right. Coming up next, the White House prepares for the next step in the coronavirus fight: vaccinating 5 to 12-year-olds.



MATTINGLY: Some 28 million children ages 5 to 11 may be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the first week of November. Pfizer put out promising preliminary finding this week that found almost 91 percent efficacy in that age group.

And on Tuesday, the FDA will meet to consider whether Pfizer's vaccine should be authorized for younger kids. Now, if you take a look here, you can see older Americans are by far the leaders in vaccine usage up to this point.

But authorizing the Pfizer vaccine for younger kids may help prevent a repeat of this concerning number from 2020, almost 3 million fewer children attending school.

Joining me now is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen. And look, there's a lot of questions right now in terms of how parents are going to act when they get -- when this authorization comes in, what they decide to do.

That school number seems to be the most important to me. I guess, I'm going to start with what's your sense of kind of a timeline here and when this may actually be possible for those ages 5 to 11?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, the FDA is going to be meeting with their advisers on Tuesday, so in two days, to look at all the data around safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. So far, their report, their independent analysis looks very promising. And so I'm really hopeful that they'll come out with a recommendation to the CDC, that's then going to be meeting the following Tuesday and Wednesday, November 2nd and 3rd, in order to officially authorize and recommend for the vaccine to be available.

So we could be looking at the first week of November for the vaccine to be available for 5 to 11-year-olds. Some pediatrician's offices may be able to deliver it at that time.

And so if you're a parent who is very eager to have your kids be vaccinated, ask your pediatrician's office now about what protocols they have in place, when the wait list might even be starting for getting an appointment.

MATTINGLY: And one of the things, you were on with our colleague, John King, who doesn't like to be at the center of the story and doesn't like to be kind of a first-person narrator in these moments, but this gets -- the children vaccination thing gets at something that he was very candid about on his show last week. And I want you to take a listen to this.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It is a shared responsibility. If I can do something to help protect somebody else, I'm going to share a secret I've never spoken before. I'm immunocompromised, I have multiple sclerosis, so I'm grateful you're all vaccinated. I'm grateful my employer says all of these amazing people who work on the floor who came in here for the last 18 months when we were doing this are vaccinated now that we have vaccines.

I worry about bringing it home to my 10-year-old son who can't get a vaccine. I don't like the government telling me what to do. I don't like my boss telling me what to do. In this case, it's important.


MATTINGLY: Now, full disclosure, J.K. is a friend and has been a mentor to me, but this idea -- and he was talking about misinformation and a lot of frustration with some of things that has been sent around. But his point also about the responsibility in herms of, you get vaccinated not necessarily for yourself, but for others. Do you think that that will play a role in parent's decisions with children?

DR. WEN: Well, first of all, I was so moved by what John said and his courage in disclosing his own diagnosis that a lot of people, I think, didn't previously know about.

And I think that actually makes the bigger point that we don't know whether somebody around us is immunocompromised. We don't know if our colleague that we're working with has an underlying medical illness that they just never told us about.

We don't know if the person that we're meeting, if we're a police officer helping someone in the community or if we're a teacher teaching a kid whose parent may be a kidney transplant recipient or who may have cancer.

I mean there's so many people around us in society who are particularly vulnerable, who need our protection. That's the reason we get vaccinated. Yes, it is to protect ourselves, but it's also to protect the other people around us, as well. And I think John's message was a reminder of that.

But to your point about children, it's definitely true that getting kids vaccinated as well helps to reduce the likelihood that they could be vectors of transmission to other people around them.

And so I do hope that parents consider it. Yes, while it will protect their children, I think a lot of parents have some semblance of normalcy. So many parents are living as if we are not vaccinated ourselves because we want to protect our children.



DR. WEN: So I think having vaccines for younger kids will help parents, but also help the broader community, too.

MATTINGLY: And Dr. Wen, we've only got like 15 second left, but one of the big questions right now is mixing and matching vaccines. I know you got Johnson & Johnson, I did, as well. There's a lot of questions about this.

What's your sense right now very quickly in terms of whether or not this is a good idea and people should pursue this?

DR. WEN: People who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should definitely consider a mix and match approach. In particular, if you are a woman 18 to 49. I would not recommend that you get a second dose of the J&J vaccine, you should goat get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine because of the potential side effects.

On the other hand, if you got Pfizer or Moderna, if there's no particular reason to switch to Johnson & Johnson, I would stick with the brand that you got initially.

MATTINGLY: Got it. Important questions a lot of us have right now. Dr. Leana Wen, as always, thanks so much for your time.

DR. WEN: Thank you, Phil.

MATTINGLY: And coming up next, Senator Sinema faces backlash at home as she threatens to block key Democratic priorities.


MATTINGLY: Democrats are closer than ever to a deal on their sweeping economic and climate package. But one senator in particular is driving some of the most dramatic revisions, Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. [08:49:50]


BIDEN: She's smart as the devil, number one. Number two, she's very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people.


MATTINGLY: We should note the White House made it very clear "smart as a devil" is a term of endearment, according to the president, which I assumed was they had to clarify for some.

SMK, you have a great tease, on Senator Sinema this morning and one point in particular stuck out to me. It was just something I've been trying to kind of get across, to some of the rank and file members, I've spoken to over the last couple of weeks which is the White House has always been looped in on where she's been.

The one quote you had I thought was great says, "Senator Sinema is and always has been clear with us. Those who say otherwise are telling them themselves. They're saying they aren't close enough to the process to know what they're talking about.

KIM: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Just a bit of backhand there a little bit. But it underscores the process that's been going on right now. What's your sense of that process right now?

KIM: well, my sense of those talks between Senator Sinema and the people that she actually confides in, so that's Biden, senior White House officials and Senator Schumer, they have been explicitly clear on where she stands and where here read lines are.

Because I know we were all kind of in a tizzy this week when it was made explicitly clear that she does not want to raise the corporate rate nor the individual rate for high earners. That is a position that the White House and Schumer have been -- have been aware of since early August.

This is not a new position to them. It just kind of became clear to all of us, to Democratic senators that she is not budging on those positions. So her negotiating style I think we've seen that -- was she's been kind of -- to use an overused word to describe here -- an enigma, to all of us. But in those discussions she's very clear about what she wants to do.

She is very diligent in asking questions, very detailed. And one thing that I felt was interesting was the House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal told reporters this week when he had kind of an impromptu meeting with Senator Sinema that he told her, you and I both know we have to get something done and Congressman Neal said she said, "I could not agree more." So there is a sense that she -- that people who are talking to her say she wants to get there. But just on her terms.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And I think that's an important point, She said that to several people. She wants a deal. She wants to get there. How still seems to be another question.

One of the things I think that's been perplexing to Democrats is the transformation of Senator Sinema. Take a look back to 2010 when she said this.


SENATOR KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): There's none of this pressure, this false pressure to get to 60. So what that means is that the Democrats can stop kowtowing to Joe Lieberman, and instead seek other avenues to move forward with health reform.

So the reconciliation process is still quite available, and we will use it for good rather than for evil.


MATTINGLY: And they are using the reconciliation process now. She's also opposed to the filibuster -- to nuking the filibuster. She's made that very clear. What is your sense right now in terms of the White House view when you talk to White House officials about whether or not they can get to that end game, she says she wants to get to.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well, I think what we're hearing from both members on the Hill as well as the White House is I mean just the fact that they're directly continues to negotiate with the senator, putting it out there as well that she has a view that they could be close to a deal.

It's very clear that they are intent on continuing to engage with her. I mean a person familiar with her thinking just through reporting says that she does support a plan -- a financing plan where it would be about ten years for the reconciliation package, around $2 trillion.

But I mean as we know from the White House, they still -- they want to get climate measures in there. There's going to be negotiation when we go to that.

You saw the president also, you know, at the town hall making it clear that, while he's not getting community college, he's going to want Pell Grants as well. So we'll have to wait and see how those negotiations go.

Another interesting thing to watch here is how the senator herself also balances this with the pressure she's facing back home, right.

I mean there's a coalition of supporters that she had that wants to see massive changes to immigration reform, that wants to see changes to climate measures that she initially at one point touted as well.

So watching to see how those initial proposals continue to get slimmed down and these negotiations, that will be something to watch.

MATTINGLY: Yes. She's not out until 2024, she's got some time, but clearly, she's back home -- one of the most fascinating developments I think has been the idea that, while she's opposed to rate increases on the corporate side and on the individual side, her position has thrust forward the potential for perhaps one of the most progressive taxation policies we have seen.

People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders could only dream about in terms of taxing billionaire assets based on their gains on an annual basis.

We're not going to get into mark to market taxation, I'm sorry, we don't have enough time. But this idea that perhaps her opposition ends up leading them in a direction that progressives have always dreamed of. Is that possible?


BALL: Anything is possible at this point. I think that is the takeaway from this discussion.

But no, it really is true, you know, we're getting his information in dribs and drabs and I thought that the backhand from that White House official in your piece was fascinating because I think, you know, it annoyed a lot of people to be told why you don't get to be part of this process, you know.

And there's a lot of frustration, this has been essentially and there's been negotiation it has been a two-way negotiation between the Senator Sinema and the White House. So why is it taking so long?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Right. Right.

BALL: It isn't a 400-way negotiation. So -- and there's been a lot of frustration also with the president, I think that he doesn't -- hasn't seemed until recently to be really pushing her to get to a place where the deal can be closed.

So And then I think there's a parallel political frustration, too that nobody can go out and sell this thing until they decide what's going to be in it.

And as we see the president's approval rating slipping, as Democrats start to freak out about the election in Virginia, there's a lot of political anxiety about, you know, how are we going to make the public like this thing when all we've been doing is arguing about it.

KANNO-YOUNGS: There is a fascinating dynamic though here again, that wealth tax, excuse me, that we just talked about, that was something at one point that's only embraced by the most progressive flank of the Democrat Party.

I spoke to a White House official just this week when this news started to come out that this plan might be coming to finance this plan. And they were saying, look, the president would support this, as well as other measures that would, you know, I think, to paraphrase, make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which, you know, we always hear.


KANNO-YOUNGS: So it is interesting how her opposition, initial opposition could push them to a plan that was once supported by that --

MATTINGLY: It's fascinating, if they could turn that proposal into reality, wow, I think would be the way to do it. Sorry we didn't get into mark to market -- we'll get there. We kind of tiptoed around it.

All right. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 Eastern time and the weekday show as well at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

Jake has a packed show -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning. Have a wonderful day.