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Biden Gambles, Leaves Without Infrastructure Vote; Four Days Left In Tight Race For Virginia Governor; Next Week: CDC Panel To Rule On Pfizer Vaccine For Ages 5-11. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 29, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Bit of a Rorschach test this morning for how Washington views the fate of the Biden agenda. Look at the headlines today for major papers. And the President's public gamble is now the stuff of doom even embarrassment, fails, still unfulfilled, stumbles. But listen to this key Democrat last night, Thursday may have finally unlocked the path to making the Biden plant and its giant changes the law of the land.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We got a framework from the President, the Progressive Caucus then endorsed that framework, which meant that our 96 member caucus agreed that that framework, in principle was something that we could enthusiastically support in three weeks by progressives holding the line and saying these two bills need to go together because we are not leaving anybody behind. We were able to get more negotiation to happen than has happened in the last six months with these two senators.


KING: Joining the conversation, "The Washington Post" columnist Catherine Rampell. Thank you for being with us. Let's start. Let's accept that. Congresswoman Jayapal thinks they're going to get there. Still some things to be determined, still some Senate work to be done, we'll come back to that in a minute.

If you look at what's in this framework, the President was right yesterday, and she is right there saying this is fundamental change, things that have not happened the role of government in years, universal pre-K is in, child tax credit extension is in, some form of clean energy tax credits, Obamacare subsidies, Medicare coverage for hearing some taxes on higher earners to help pay for it.

What's out and the Progressives apparently not willing to say, OK, we got the best we could get, gone, paid family leave, Medicare coverage for dental, Medicare coverage provision, clean energy standards, free community college, and allowing the government to negotiate of the price of prescription drugs. A lot of those things thrown overboard, Catherine, were longtime Progressive priorities, including Biden priorities, and they pull off the charts, but Democrats are giving them up.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, at some point, they have to slim this thing down, right? And so they can either do that by throwing things overboard entirely, or by having them expire early. And even some of the things that you just mentioned that are still in the bill are only there for a year or for a few years.

And that will raise questions about how well they'll injure going forward, right? At some point somebody is going to have to fund them. We have 10 years of funding from a millionaire surtax to fund one year of a fully expanded child tax credit or six years of child care. What do you do then? So I don't know what this means for the Biden legacy. But they're trying to cram as much in as they can, given the constraints they have.

KING: And so the question is, do they get the final couple of steps they need to get to the finish line, which is sign off for Manchin and Sinema in the Senate. And some details, still a few details to be worked out. The President wanted them to say essentially, we'll get there and vote yesterday on the bipartisan infrastructure plan, essentially give him one win within -- the second win to be to be determined when it's on the calendar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among the Progressives who said no, we're not going to do that.

She told us the punchbowl. "I think we need confidence that this is going to pass the Senate." So there is still a lack of faith among key Progressives that those two senators will actually sign.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, NPR: Yes, it was really interesting to see the optimism after the failure to push this through yesterday from progressive specifically and seeing Jayapal on the Senate side meeting with Moderate members trying to hash out a deal. And she does raise a valid point they have come a long way in a month, yesterday was very disappointing for the party on the Hill, they thought possibly we could accomplish a lot more, they did not.

But this signals that they've come a long way, they brought that price tag down from 3.5 to closer to under $2 trillion. So it's spreading a lot of hope for Progressives to say, listen, just give us a few more days, maybe it's a few more weeks, and maybe we can really hit the finish line on this.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You have some frustrations in the moderate, you know, wing of the party as well, right? I mean, there is concern as well, that the longer this holds, if you don't get the infrastructure bill through as well as the sprawling social spending package, then at what point does also, is there a concern that this will impact voters as well, you know, you looked at a governor's race in Virginia and whether or not the perception that there's a lack of efficiency, and actually the Biden administration pushing forward on its agenda. That could also impact have a ripple effect across Democrats across

the country, and that that concern is that good when you talk to people in the party and when you talk to White House officials as well.

KING: And polling suggests, nevermind how quickly can you implement the program? So can you get through to people as how their lives are going to change? This is an AP poll, how much do you know about the Biden agenda a lot or some 42 percent only a little nothing at all, 57 percent, so one of the challenges here in this messy process and in this long process is a lot of people out there who will be voters next year don't understand. Do I like this or not, is it going to help me, not?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's the biggest fear among Democrats right now whether it's Democratic pollsters, Democrats in the caucus which is that we need to start selling this thing but you can't really start selling it until you know what exactly is in the bill. You know over the summer, Biden was really pushing the allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.


Right now, that's totally off the table. It's also according to his former pollster in the 2020 campaign, one of the most popular elements of the bill. Now, there are some Democrats that are still trying to see if there's a way to get that in there. The same with Bernie Sanders who is still trying to see if he can get dental and vision attached on to the hearing to -- for Medicare coverage expansion. So there is still some talk of trying to get a little of those pieces that were left on the cutting room floor back into the bill.

But right now, I was just talking to a source this morning who said that look after yesterday, trust is very low, again, in the Democratic caucus, it is Groundhog Day after the September where this exact same thing happened just a month ago. And if let's, again, if the President in the next couple of weeks signs up bipartisan infrastructure bill, and they get to the finish line on universal pre K, child tax credit extension, clean energy tax credits, and so on.

When you're here at this table one year from now, and we were about to have the midterm elections A, would it help the economy? Do we know that, yes or no? And B, would people see it by then, one of the problem for Democrats with Obamacare was it passed, but it took so long to implement and write the regulations and do everything but they got wiped out in the next midterm election, even though they had done something Democrats have been trying to do for 50 years?

RAMPELL: That's the tradeoff Democrats face is do they execute the programs well, or do they execute them quickly? And there is some tension between those objectives, right? Part of the reason why Obamacare took so long to get off the ground is because it was a really complicated thing to set up. We're talking about a dozen really complicated things to set up that will require a lot of executive regulation, essentially. KING: Competence and quick competence. But we'll see. But first they have to get the bill to the finish line. We will see how that plays out.

Up next for us, Virginia's moment of choice, Vice President Harris hits the trail again as the governor's race with national implications heads into the final weekend.



KING: To the campaign trail now as the feisty Virginia governor's race enters the final weekend. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are of course campaigning day and night in a race in which both President Biden and the former President Donald Trump loom large. CNN's Dan Merica is near via soon to happen McAuliffe event in Norfolk, Virginia. CNN's Eva McKend was just at a Youngkin event in Charlottesville.

Eva, I want to start with you. The Republican candidate is in a tight race in a blue state. One of the successes Youngkin has had is keeping Trump at arm's length. And yet today, a conservative talk radio host John Fredrickson of Virginia says the former President will participate in a big teller rally on Monday, the eve of the election. What does the Youngkin campaign think about that? Is that a plus or a minus?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, they want nothing to do with that, John. We asked them about this, they said that they found out about this event when we did. And that really illustrates how Youngkin continues to keep the former president at an arm's length. You know, it was a packed crowd at this Mexican restaurant in downtown Charlottesville.

I spoke to a man who told me a former University of Virginia professor who told me he's voted for Republicans and Democrats throughout his life. And he's never seen the level of enthusiasm for Republican candidate in Virginia. And so this really doesn't have anything to do with Trump. Youngkin has been saying this for weeks that this is a movement, not a campaign and certainly the energy on the ground matches what they've been saying for a while.

KING: It would be interesting to see if it does play out. Dan Merica, to you, Terry McAuliffe has essentially said Glenn Youngkin is, you know, Trump and in a vest, Trump in a button down. I assume the Democrats will try to take advantage of these plans.

We'll see how it plays out for Trump to call in. But the Democrats should have an advantage in this race. Terry McAuliffe was the governor. He has raised a ton of money. He had the advantage of early voting. How do they feel heading into the final days?

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It's tense I think, among the McAuliffe camp and Democrats in Washington are very closely watching this race. And there's a real mix here among Democrats of, yes, energy and enthusiasm, but also a sense of exhaustion. And that's why events today like the one behind me that'll feature for Williams, the artist and Kamala Harris, those are critical to the McAuliffe campaign and boosting enthusiasm and boosting excitement.

But what you've really seen is a difference between events like that where you have these big name Democrat speakers coming in, and events that McAuliffe is having on his own. And he did an event yesterday in Charlottesville. He's at events in Danville and Lynchburg. And yes, there have been people there. They've been excited. But they haven't been this fired up crowd that you see a few days before the election. And they were somewhat sparsely attended.

Yes, they're more rural settings. There aren't as many people or many voters there. But it still says something about this race that McAuliffe has had to call on a number of top Democrats to come down here to rally the troops, rally support, get people out to vote for early voting. You've seen Obama, you've seen Biden, you've seen Harris, you've seen a number of other folks come down and really say, this is an important election.

And part of the reason for that is, this will be a test of this Trump messaging. Is it possible for Democrats to just tie a Republican to Trump in any case, and that's what you've seen from Obama, from Biden, from other folks. I will say this is the first year that Virginia has had excuse free early voting. So this late enthusiasm that you're seeing maybe that doesn't matter as much as it does in some other election because campaigns both Youngkin and McAuliffe has been able -- have been able to bank votes, John, for a few weeks now.


KING: Fascinating final weekend, I'm Glad you're both out on the campaign trail. Dan Merica, Eva McKend, grateful for the reporting and we'll stay on top of this one. We get to count votes Tuesday night. That's always a good time.

Coming up for us, a federal health official tells CNN, the FDA could authorize Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for children ages five to 11 as soon as today, up next for us, the timeline for final approval and availability at your doctor or pharmacy.



KING: The reaction now just in from the former President Donald Trump reacting to the pending retirement of one of his chief critics in Congress, and it shows the former president, yes, is keeping score. Republican Adam Kinzinger today said he would not run for reelection. Mr. Trump says this, two down eight to go. Kinzinger of course, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, two down eight to go that the word from the former president.

Let's move on to some in COVID news now. The next step in getting a COVID vaccine approved for children's ages five to 11 should come today. A federal health official telling CNN the Food and Drug Administration is ready to grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer's smaller dose COVID vaccine for kids. Dr. William Schaffner joins us now to share his expertise. He's an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Schaffner, grateful for your time.

I just want to show our viewers what we're talking about. The Pfizer vaccine for these younger children ages five to 11 would be two doses given 21 days apart, and the dose is one-third the size of the dose now given to those who are 12 and older. A, do you expected, after the FDA, it goes to the CDC, the advisory committee and then the CDC director, this appears to be on a path for the possibility of kids getting a shot by the middle of next week. Do you see any chance that would be stopped?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Not really, John. I think people are looking forward to it. Many parents have parents in surveys have already said that they would welcome that decision and would take their children to be vaccinated. And I certainly know that my pediatrician and family practice colleagues are just waiting for this. They want to get in and protect the children against COVID as quickly as possible.

KING: So put it in the context of where we are right now by that I'll bring up the cases in the country right now. We're down 31 percent from October 1st, the seven day average of cases, 75,000 cases, new COVID infections are reported on average yesterday down from 109,000. So there has been progress in the case count, hospitalizations are trending down, deaths gratefully starting to trend down a little bit, 28 million children groups five -- age five through 11. Adding that to the eligible for vaccine, what impact is it likely to have, might it have on the trend lines?

SCHAFFNER: I think it'll keep that trend line going down. You know, we've heard, John, that children are less seriously affected with COVID. That's right. But they're not immune to COVID. Over 8,000 children had been hospitalized in this age group with COVID. About a third of them required Intensive Care Unit admission. And we've had documented within the last year October to October, 66 deaths of children due to COVID in this age group. I'd like to stop that in its tracks by getting our children vaccinated.

KING: At this time last year, we were worried about the onset of cold weather in much of the country. If you bring up a trend map right now, the governor of New Hampshire even though cases are going down there right now he's reinstated the daily COVID briefing because he's worried about the seasonal change.

The governor of Colorado where you see cases actually are trending up the moment says he's worried they might have to get back to that point of saying, you know, elective surgeries need to be pushed off because we need the beds for COVID.

Is this part of the new normal? Are we going to be looking even though the overall trend lines are good, that with the change in season or just state by state variations, we have things to worry about? SCHAFFNER: I think we still have to keep our eye on it because I hope that trend lines keep going down. I think they will, but they won't get down to the same level in all states. The better vaccinated states will be lower than the less vaccinated states including my own unfortunately. We have to keep getting people to accept that first dose of vaccine while we're giving boosters to the others.

KING: Dr. Schaffner as always grateful for your time, Sir, thank you.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.


Up next for us, the former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo charged with sexual misconduct in a criminal complaint, his legal battle up next.


KING: Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo now faces a criminal complaint. Cuomo, you'll recall resigned from his post back in August after multiple women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment. CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now, the details of this complaint. Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, that complaint just one page long filed in court and it doesn't list a name of an accuser. But if you remember after that scathing report from the Attorney General came out in August, we know that a woman identified as executive assistant number one from that report did make a complaint with a groping allegation against the Governor with the Albany County Sheriff's Department.

And we know back then, that the sheriff's department and the D.A.'s office were going to work together with this investigation. That woman actually was interviewed multiple times with that office. But here's the interesting thing here, John, is that this complaint was filed by the Albany County Sheriff's Department is shortly after that we received notification that the district attorney's office had no idea that it was filed that is extremely unlikely in this kind of scenario when it involves a sex crime, and particularly when we're talking about the former governor of New York.

Now Rita Glavin, the Cuomo's personal attorney. She released a quick statement saying Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone and said that the sheriff there in Albany County's motives are patently improper. Now we are learning, John, that at 2:30 we should hear from the sheriff himself so hopefully we'll get a little bit more detail of exactly what went down here. But he's going to be in court, Governor, former Governor Cuomo on November 17th.

KING: November 17th, we'll continue to track this case including today in court. Brynn, appreciate the very important update.

[13:00:16] And thank you for your time on Inside Politics today. Hope you have a fantastic weekend. Don't go anywhere. Busy news day. Erica Hill picks up our coverage right now.