Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Final Hours of Voting & Dead Heat in VA Governor Race; McAuliffe Focused on Trying Youngkin to Trump, Youngkin Focused on Cultural Issues, COVID Mandates, CRT; Source: Manchin & Biden Have Not Talked Since the Senator Raised Doubts Monday about Agenda; Today: CDC Advisory Panel Vote on Pfizer Vaccine for Kids. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very busy day with us.

It is Election Day in America. Virginia chooses its next Governor Terry McAuliffe or Glenn Youngkin. It is a referendum on President Biden's first year performance and it is a test of whether the Trump brand is still toxic for Republicans in the suburbs.

And Democrats have a Joe Manchin problem; the West Virginia Senator says he has not yet sold on the big Biden rewrite of the social safety net. Plus new insight into insurrection day, Mike Pence explains why he said no to Donald Trump's plan to subvert democracy.

We begin though with Election Day and the lessons we will learn as we count the votes late into the night tonight. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are not on the ballot anywhere. Yet they loom large almost everywhere.

Virginia and New Jersey pick up winners today; New York, Boston Buffalo and Atlanta among the cities choosing new Mayors. Each contest will tell us something about your mood 19 months into this punishing COVID pandemic. The bet is Virginia will tell us the most as we look ahead now for the 2022 midterm battle to control Congress.

President Biden won Virginia by 10 points one year ago. The last Republican statewide win was more than 10 years ago. Yet Virginia is a tossup this Election Day. Glenn Youngkin believes he is the new Republican model for breaking the Trump curse in the suburbs.

Terry McAuliffe worries he is the pinata for voters even in a blue state like Virginia who looked to Biden's Washington and see anything but the common progress they voted for a year ago. CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us in Fairfax, Virginia, which is to say he is live at ground zero in this big fight for the suburbs. Ryan, what are you seeing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, there's no doubt about that. This is my fourth Virginia Governor election. And I have to tell you, the mood on the ground here is very similar to that first race I covered back in 2009. And you point out that's the last time Republicans won statewide and they do feel very, very encouraged by the enthusiasm that they're seeing on the ground.

But there's no doubt that the demographics have changed in Virginia over this more than a decade since Republicans last one statewide and that is illustrated no better than where I'm standing right now. But in Fairfax, Virginia, which has become a solidly blue County, it is the biggest County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Democrats have taken over here in a big way.

Bob McDonnell actually won this County back in 2009. In order for Terry McAuliffe to win here tonight, he probably needs to run margins up in a range of 30 to 40 percent. He needs to win by in a state or in a county like Fairfax that's why getting out the vote is so important for Democrats in a county like Fairfax.

And right now it does seem as though the enthusiasm is on the side of Republicans, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate has drawn big crowds across the state. And it seems really good turnout numbers so far in other parts of the state as well, which will be a big part toward him trying to break the curse of Republican statewide losses over the past couple of election cycles.

Still, no matter what, John, this race is going to be very close. The outcome may be not known even tonight as those votes come in. One of the big things that we're going to be looking for, especially in accounting, like Fairfax is those early vote numbers of Virginia of course, changing their laws allowing it and making it much easier for voters to cast their ballots early.

Here in Fairfax alone, John, there is a quadruple increase in the number of people that cast their ballots early ahead of election date. Right now we're seeing a pretty brisk turnout as the lunch rush is starting to come in here at this Fairfax location. So it's got to be close. No matter what, John, you're going to be very busy at that magic wall tonight.

KING: Always love counting posts late into the night Ryan Nobles, great for you out there on the scene. It's always great to watch just people behind you casting their votes wherever they choose nice to see people participating. Ryan, thank you.

And let's take a closer look at just what Ryan was talking about. This is our map. I'm going to move it a little bit. This is our blank Virginia map 00 we'll fill in the votes as we count them tonight.

Let's go back to the 2020 presidential election. We come here and we come here to see this is why this is such a phenomenal election today. Joe Biden won one year ago by 10 points. So how is this close?

We just listened to Ryan noble he was in Fairfax County the fast growing suburbs. Look at this. Donald Trump got 28 percent of the vote in Fairfax County Trump is toxic in the suburbs. There's no doubt about it. The question is can Glenn Youngkin can somehow overcome that that's one way to look at it.

If you pull out right here, here's what Youngkin must do tonight. He has managed even though he's kept Trump at arm's length, to get Trump's full endorsement that Trump base must turn out and it must turn out in huge numbers. These are smaller, less populated communities.

But as a very strong Republican and Trump base, they must turn out in huge numbers but even if they all do, it is simply not enough. Virginia is changing as Ryan has noted, I want to show you one way to look at this.

If you look right now just at population centers, right? If you look at the population centers inside the State of Virginia and you pull this out you see the blue dots those are Biden wins the red dots are counties Trump won. You see the big blue dots that mean the larger population center.


KING: Look at where the big Biden dots are. They are where the people live right up in the suburbs here in the suburbs around Richmond, the suburbs down here, Virginia Beach, Norfolk area.

Here's another thing to add into this. The population in Virginia has been shifting. So if you look at the population changes over the last 10 years, you see down here, green means you're losing population, the deeper the color, you see the scale minus 20 percent population minus 15 percent population.

Trump won, Republicans live in the parts of the state that are losing population. Look at the circles up here. The big Biden wins come with a population Loudoun County Fairfax County growing by 15 percent 20 percent or more the shifts in Virginia make the math overwhelming for Glenn Youngkin and yet it's a tossup today because voters are disenchanted.

What's happening here in Washington? Listen to the candidates at the close of the race. Yes, the Commonwealth is a complicated state both candidates know this will be settled. Here, here and here.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR NOMINEE (D): We're going to put an end to Donald Trump's future plans right here in Virginia. I had beaten Trump twice in Virginia. Tomorrow we go three.

GLENN YOUNGKIN, GOVERNOR NOMINEE (D): He wants to put government between parents and our children. Terry McAuliffe wants to force everybody to join the union. Terry McAuliffe wants you to get fired by your employer by not for not taking the vaccine.


KING: With me on this important day to share the reporting and their insights Jackie Alemany at "The Washington Post", Margaret Talev of "AXIOS" Ayesha Rascoe NPR. Margaret, you wrote this morning about Loudoun County. We just did with Brian in Fairfax. Loudoun is to the North West of Fairfax.

George W. Bush won it back in 2004. He was the last Republican Presidential candidate to carry Virginia. Look, no one expects Glenn Youngkin to win, but he needs to be competitive. He needs to be 42, 44, and 46 to keep it to have a chance.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: Yes, that's right. Can he cut into these places that have overwhelmingly both swung Democrat and blown up in terms of size Loudoun this excerpt where Leesburg is? If anyone's ever heard of Leesburg is a really important cousin kind of measuring stick of this.

It's the wealthiest county in the United States as a county. It's like the third or fourth largest county in Virginia. And that growth has been immigrants, Democrats, people from out of state moving into the state.

But it's these issues, not just around Biden, around the economy, around infrastructure, around Afghanistan, but these issues around schools, these truly suburban issues. So there are two trends going on. It's like true independents, true swing voters. There's not that many of them, but they do exist. Are they gravitating towards Youngkin and are the Democrats going to turn out to vote?

And if McAuliffe pulls this off, it will not be because of the strength of McAuliffe's message. It will be because of the strength of the numbers of Democrats of Virginia.

KING: And - if he pulls it off, it'll be the strength of the numbers. If he loses it will be because of that disillusionment that you talked to. And so let's listen a bit to Glenn Youngkin can hear Margaret mentioned Loudoun County, again, 25 years ago, predominantly white suburb now increasingly Asian, increasingly Latino. Glenn Youngkin, playing to the voters in those suburbs saying things is changing vote for me.


YOUNGKIN: Let me be clear on day one, we will not have political agendas in the classroom and I will ban critical race theory. On day one, we're standing up for law enforcement because they stand up for us. We're going to protect qualified immunity when Terry McAuliffe wants to take guns away from law abiding citizens and make it easier for hardened criminals to get them.


KING: A lot of that Jackie, a traditional Republican message, but the parental choice that has become a vehicle for parents who are tired; they are frustrated, whether it's about mass policy learning at home policies, or what their kids are taught in school. He's trying to tap into that.

JACKIE ALEMANY, AUTHOR, WASHINGTON POST, THE EARLY 202: Yes, what we've seen, I think Glenn Youngkin successfully or at least, I think Republicans would already be taking a victory lap just in terms of having this race be competitive successfully done is that is sort of tailor Trump's white grievance message to a message of parental grievance, which is especially appealing to these suburban, swingy independent voters who couldn't - Trump in 2020.

Hence, Biden winning by 10 points during the presidential election, but now they see this basketball coach like - with Carlisle credentials, who doesn't have the temperament of the president or the Twitter habits of him of the former president, and they think that they might be able to get behind him.

But I mean, I think we should make no mistake here. A lot of this language and attacking critical race theory is what a lot of Democrats would view as, you know, coded language. It's dog whistling, and there is no critical race theory involved in Virginia's K through 12 curriculums. But Youngkin has realized that this is an opportunity for him again, to get those voters that Margaret was describing.

KING: An opportunity which is one of the reasons to the coded language and the dog whistles McAuliffe has tried consistently throughout the campaign say this guy's a lot more like Trump than he wants you to believe.


KING: In the end, though Terry McAuliffe also I think realizing Virginia is a blue state, the Democratic graphics have changed. Just simply math, he should be able to win this race, which is why a lot in the closing days, he actually talked about, hey, we're Democrats and I'll do this.


MCAULIFFE: Jobs came all over. Unemployment rate dropped in every single city and county in the Commonwealth of Virginia when I was your Governor. I'm the first Governor of America to perform a gay marriage, as your Governor. I am going to raise teacher pay; we are going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks by January of 2024. We are going to pay and get paid sick leave here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


KING: It is if you listen to both candidates take Trump and Biden not for a second is a red message versus a blue message in a state that should go blue but?

AYESHA RASCOE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: But that's the big issue. And I think in some ways, I'm going to get a little philosophical here. But I feel like you know, Virginia is representative of the way the country is has swung so massively back and forth when you look at these presidential races.

You go from George W. Bush, to Barack Obama, to Donald Trump, to Biden, this is a country that is all over the place. What does this country want? It is much divided. And I think you see that in Virginia, where you see a backlash, right?

This was a state that just went 10 points for Biden, and now they're like, what, you know, they're mad about what's happening in the schools. They're mad that their lives have been changed. And you see this opposition and you see enthusiasm for Youngkin.

KING: You also see, lastly, a Republican candidate who has somehow managed - somehow managed to hold Trump's at arm's length. Do not come to Virginia. You're not welcome in Virginia. I do not want you here.

And yet, Trump has repeatedly endorsed him repeatedly said he's a nice guy repeatedly told mega voters, it's Trump's term to go out and vote for him. I do not remember that happening in the Trump you're someone who has pushed him away, who still gets a hug.

TALEV: It's 100 percent. It's like the most fascinating part of this race. And the big question for Republicans is this roadmap that other Republicans can follow who wants to do the same thing, two big differences. Glenn Youngkin is worth $440 million. He can self-fund if Donald Trump wants to block and we're back in opponent.

And Virginia is different than many other states that are just very few states where the swing is so heavily in favor of Democrats. And he's almost like the perfect candidate of the perfect moment at the perfect time. And even so may not quite pull it off tonight.

KING: And yet, Trump has stayed--

TALEV: --because it was hugely empowered if Donald Trump ran again in 2024. Of course they don't want a Republican Governor in Virginia.

KING: Strategy God forbid. Everybody stay with us and stay with us tonight to please as we cover Election Night in America, our special live coverage begins at 6 pm Eastern. Up next President Biden is overseas right now trying to rally the world to fight the climate crisis waiting here at home the challenge of winning over one Senator Joe Manchin.



KING: You might call it a glass half full glass half empty chest here in Washington today. Joe Manchin says he cannot vote for the Biden rewrite of the social safety net at least can't vote for it right now.

Manchin's latest statement was loaded with things that normally infuriate progressives. And the worry was it would blow up plans for the House to vote on both big Biden priorities, infrastructure and the build back better bill this week.

But there is no such worry, at least not according to the Leader of House Progressives. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Listen this morning on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We will trust the president that he will get 51 votes in the Senate for it. I don't understand why anyone's confused about it. We've always said we're going to trust the president once we have the bill and the vote. And that's what we've been saying for weeks now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On immigration do you have Manchin sign off?

JAYAPAL: On all of this we trust the president to deliver 51 votes in the Senate.


KING: Let's go straight up to Capitol Hill, our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. Manu a lot of pressure on Senator Manchin and I guess on the president to get them on board.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And look, John there is a shift from the progressives. They had been saying, actually, for some time before that both the House and the Senate should approve the larger social safety net expansion before they would agree to support the infrastructure bill.

Then they said, well, it could be approved by the house. But there needs to be some commitment that this same bill would be supported by all 50 Democrats. And now they're saying they don't need Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. They say publicly, they support that bill. They're going to leave it to Joe Biden to get those two to fall in line.

And we just want these two bills, the build back better bill 1.7 5 trillion, and the infrastructure bill on the floor at the same time, and we're going to vote for both, which gives hope for the White House that the infrastructure bill is almost certainly going to become law within days after months of infighting.

But the question is still on the larger bill, because moderates in both the House and the Senate have some serious concerns, including Joe Manchin. I just caught up with him earlier today. And he told me it's going to take some time, in his words, quite a while to get a deal.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Overhauling the entire tax code that is tremendous and needs to be input. We don't know what the effects going to be. I don't think anybody intends to harm our economy or create a hardship on people. But I believe everyone should be paying their fair share.

RAJU: But you think it'll take quite a while?

MANCHIN: I think - I think there's time is going to be needed. And there's no - we're not in a rush right now. The rush was trying to get everything before the present went overseas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: So the question two, is how long will it take? If it's not going to be done soon as lot of Democrats want? Could it be stretched until Christmas that seems increasingly likely, John that this could go past Thanksgiving despite the push to get a deal here?

And in a policy matter too John Manchin too earlier today he is concerned and oppose still to expanding Medicare as part of this bill and that is of course a red line to the liberals including Bernie Sanders who are pushing for that in this proposal.


KING: So it was going to be done by the Virginia election or by the president leaving overseas. Now you're saying Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas? Manu "The Grinch Who stole the holidays". We won't - we won't pin it on you, though. We'll pin it on those you talk to up there. Thank you Manu Raju live on the Hill is bringing it.

It's fascinating to listen to that. So the president is going to come back very late tonight, early morning from this overseas trip. Aides are saying he has not spoken to Manchin since Manchin spoke yesterday obviously they just caught him in the hall again today.

The president senior aides have not done that. It's got to be job number one. Can the president come back? He's going to get an infrastructure bill. So is that enough? Or is he going to say, Joe, we got to get this done now not Thanksgiving, not Christmas?

RASCOE: Well, I'm sure he is going to lean on Joe and maybe not in a way in a confrontational way. I'm sure because at this point, even though you hear other people in Congress saying we shouldn't let one man dictate it, the numbers that they have one man can dictate the agenda for Democrats right now.

Like, that's just a fact. And so they have to deal with them. And if Manchin wants to turn, you know, flip the you know, the game board over and take or take all his marbles and go home, they need him like that is a fact. And so Joe Biden is going to have to see what he can do to get Joe Manchin on board.

KING: But can you then keep that is a shift from progressive suddenly says we're going to vote. It's 100 percent of a shift. And essentially, they're saying, OK, fine, we'll give you your infrastructure bill, and then we'll trust you heard how many times she said trust of the president.

The question is, how long can that lasts? Congressman Jayapal. She's a strong leader of the progressives, she's willing to go into the room and say, I need you to do this. But one of our members - one of the freshmen members, Cori Bush said this yesterday, Joe Manchin does not get to dictate the future of our country.

Joe Manchin's opposition to the build back better act is anti-black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant. The longer this goes on, the more you're going to see that in the Democratic family and that's not pretty. ALEMANY: That's exactly right. And I don't think we could have heard Congresswoman Jayapal, the Head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus say that they trusted the president more times than she did during that interview on CNN this morning.

This is a change in strategy. This is after progressives have already agreed to shaving down this bill from 3.5 trillion to 1.75 at the request of Joe Manchin. But Joe Manchin have had these ever moving goalposts here.

And I do think that there is - they've reached a boiling point. We've seen many boiling points. But you did see the President when it came to passing the American rescue plan you know, hammer Joe Manchin directly privately and really put pressure on him in actually a confrontational way using expletives as our colleagues, Bob Costa and Bob Woodward had reported about that behind the scenes meeting.

And I do think you know, if Biden - if that doesn't work between Biden and Manchin, you are going to see more progressive outrage blaming Manchin especially as they have negotiated this far at this point.

TALEV: But yes, two things are true. One is it yes. Joe Manchin has been moving the goalposts, but Joe Manchin said 1.75 trillion. And Joe Manchin's objection, or one of his objections this week, is that he thinks this is really a $4 trillion social spending package cloaked as a $1.75 trillion spending package. He wants to see it scored before he'll make a commitment.

He's working with a group that has done its own analysis of the actual true costs of the things those are still in this plan right now. And even though the things in the plan have been shaved back, what Manchin is saying is the costs are just made up. They're just way higher than they look on paper. So that's part of it.

And the other part of it is that if the House passes both of these you know, like tomorrow or Thursday let's say that makes the infrastructure plan take effect. It puts the build back better on hold in between those two Democrats will have enough time to see what kind of bump they get in the polls.

Are they getting credit for doing this infrastructure? Many Democrats have always thought the infrastructure plan is what people really want. The social spending is a little more divisive, is in a way having the House vote but waiting for the final vote in the Senate on that build back better gives them some time to see what the implications are.

KING: And gives us some time but it's also going to raise the temperature again. They've managed to turn the temperature down the volume as you can see from Congressman Bush; the volume is going to go back up but fascinating to watch. President is coming home to a little bit of fun my turn.

Up next to pivotal fight - pivotal day in the COVID fight the green light to vaccinate children age's five to eleven is likely just hours away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: Today is a big day in the COVID fight and for American parents. This afternoon a CDC advisory panel will vote on whether to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for children age's five to eleven? The advisors are meeting right now.

A liaison to the committee tells CNN he expects that vote "Will be overwhelmingly in favor". The CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky she gets the final word. She made clear speaking to the committee just a few moments ago that she supports it.

So let's get some important insights and expertise now from Dr. Richina Bicette. She's the Medical Director at the Baylor College of Medicine, doctor grateful to see you on this important day. I just want to show just in terms of the impact on cases.

One in four of all new COVID infections this past week, meaning 100,630 were among children. How important is it 28 million children in this age group? What will the green light from the CDC and the governments do to the fight against COVID?

DR. RICHINA BICETTE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, I'm hoping that that green light gives parents some a bit of hope that this vaccine is safe and is effective while the risk of --