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Inside Politics

In his first Address to Parliament as Monarch, King Charles III Acknowledges "Weight of History"; Scots pay Respect to Queen Elizabeth II; Queen Elizabeth II Lying at rest St. Giles' Cathedral; Ukraine says it has Reclaimed Huge Swaths of Territory; Two Pollsters Handicap Nov Midterm Elections. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 12, 2022 - 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 your day with us. The weight of history, Charles delivers his first speech as King to Parliament and he's an emotional procession in Scotland as his mother's body is moved to St. Charles Cathedral. Immediate test for the new King as the UK now begins a week long goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II.

Plus a turning point an important one in Ukraine; Ukrainian forces retake huge slices of territory in the Northeastern Kharkiv region, but Russia is already striking back. And now the campaign stretch primary season ends Tuesday opening an eight week sprint to Election Day, we'll break down the midterm fight for control of Congress.

We begin though in Scotland, as the United Kingdom now opens a week long farewell to Queen Elizabeth and as her son King Charles III takes his critical first steps as the new monarch. Right now you can see it live members of the public in Scotland, paying their final respects to the longest reigning monarch as the Queen lies at rest at St. Charles Cathedral.

This morning the Queen's body was moved to that majestic cathedral the crown of Scotland placed on top of her coffin, as members of her family and officials attended the service of prayer and thanksgiving. King Charles III walking in the procession to the cathedral alongside his siblings, Prince Edward, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, the farewell events are meticulously choreographed as are the first glimpses of the new King at work last hour, Charles III receiving the First Minister of Scotland this morning in London, his first address to Parliament, as King.


KING CHARLES III: As I stand before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history which surrounds us and which reminds us of the vital parliamentary traditions to which members of both houses dedicate you with such personal commitment for the betterment of us all.


KING: CNN's Isa Soares following all these developments for us live in Edinburgh. Isa, what's the latest?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John what we have seen so far today, as you clearly pointed out and lay out there. It has been a day of great solemnity. A day where we've seen an outpouring of love and respect from so many Scots really, who wanted to take the time to come out here and thank the Queen for her lifelong years of service and duty.

This is something I've heard throughout, as you said, we saw of course, the hearse leave the palace of Holy Roodhouse, the residents - royal residents of the Monarch here in Scotland, and really on foot in front was King Charles III besides his siblings making their way up this - Street John up-hill silence in pure silence, you could hear a pin drop.

As the hearse made its way past I see thousands of mourners here who wanted to witness this moment in history. There was silence, absolute silence some taking photos, but no one's speaking others wiping their faces with tears. One lady was so moved she could not speak to me after the hearse passed.

As it passed further up the royal mass it made its way to St. John's Cathedral. Then you heard the applause really the gratitude the love the deep love Scotland had for of course for this Queen. It then made its way inside St. John's Cathedral for that service, of course of prayer and reflection that was attended not just by members of the royal family - but also by other charities and representatives of which the Queen had such strong affiliations with hundreds and hundreds of charities that the Queen had affiliation with.

Here in Scotland, a beautiful moving service. We saw the light shining through the cathedral. And we heard right there the Minister said I'm going to quote him here her love for Scotland was legendary. We heard hymns that the Queen herself was seeing at her local church in Balmoral a hymn that was played John at the Queen's Wedding to the late - her late husband Phillip.


SOARES: Incredibly moving and poignant I think is the word I keep hearing from so many Scots here today that in many ways the Queen died in Scotland and probably moving for them to be part of course of her last of her late last journey as we wait of course for then her coffin to move to London that is expected to happen tomorrow.

In the meantime, people are lining the streets here along the Laurel Mile to really pay their final respects to their Queen and we expect to see a visual later on tonight by members of the Royal Family, including, of course King Charles III John.

KING: Isa Soares for us in Edinburgh remarkable scene. Thank you for kicking us off it is a remarkable day. With me now to share their insights on this remarkable moment in the week ahead our CNN Contributor Sally Bedell Smith she's Author of Elizabeth the Queen, and Trisha Goddard CNN Contributor and Host of the "Week with Trisha Goddard".

Let's start Sally and we can show the live pictures with the goodbye. This week is a fascinating important week of goodbye and farewell to a legendary queen and then hello important introductions for the new King. Let's focus with this scene as Isa was just saying, this is not the script as it would have been except Queen Elizabeth died in Scotland. What's the meaning of that significance?

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, she did die in Scotland. She is a daughter of Scotland. Her mother grew up in Scotland. It is - it was literally in her veins. And she - I've talked to more than one person who said she really wanted to die in Scotland. She'd love Balmoral and I think having these ceremonies in Scotland was very important to her. Unprecedented it hasn't been done for any other monarch.

And it's exactly she planned it exactly this way. She will go back to London and then to Windsor. But I think this underlines how much she loved Scotland and how much the Scots really loved her. I think you are seeing that in the most dramatic and as was referred to earlier, poignant way, they're deeply moved by losing her.

KING: You see that Trisha Goddard you saw it in the service. It was a remarkably moving and emotional service. The Cathedral is just spectacular. But just to see the lines of the throngs of people throughout the weekend. And now as you see live, they're waiting to pay their last respects. What does that tell you about this Queen and her legacy?

TRISHA GODDARD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what it tells you is Scotland was really at the center, you know, of her private life away from prying eyes away from the press, it was really important. And it's going to be an interesting one because any conversations about devolution that Scotland had, I think this moment is very, very poignant to the Scottish people.

But I just wanted to share with you some of the history because the Crown the Queen's a Scottish crown that is placed upon her coffin is the oldest of the any Regalia that the Queen a Royal Regalia that exists, and in that crown are Scottish pearls.

Now Scottish pearls are fairly rare. And in the muscles that the pill comes from has since been made a protected species. So you know, the history surrounding this as well. As I said before, the crown was originally made out of a crown that was made for King James V in 1540. And that it was already 37 years old, because they kind of use other bits of the crown there.

So you see, the love of Scotland and the Royal Family had been inextricably linked for just about forever. In fact, one of the reasons apparently Julius Caesar was so interested in Scotland was because of the Scottish pearl. So you've got all of that, that history linked to royalty and Scotland, and it said that the Queen planned her death.

It was a good death. We have to recognize that as painful as sorrowful as much as we're mourning, but she planned her death. And I - it's no mistake that she chose to die in Scotland in her beloved Balmoral and have the Princess Royal Prince Anne accompany her coffin. I think if that doesn't say anything about the Queen's relationship with Scotland then nothing does.

KING: It is quite remarkable and we'll have more time later in the program as well around some special events. We'll bring you live. But let's talk a bit about the other challenge the other side we see King Charles III there.

This Sally is the front of the Harold, Charles III Union Savior or Last King of Scotland. There is the question of a referendum and the possibility Scotland would vote to leave. Under the Queen many thought maybe with the Queen there because of her love of Scotland because of the history that she might be a difference maker.


KING: How important are these early days the meeting today with the First Minister, their early days for the new King in that giant political question for the UK?

SMITH: Well, I think what's going to emerge is how embedded Charles himself is in Scotland? He spends a lot of time up there on the Balmoral estate. But even more than that, he's had so many initiatives that have been sort of unrecognized unsung promotion of small farmers.

He has a place called Dumfries House that he rescued and it's not only a beautiful house with beautiful furniture, but it's also a center of social regeneration, and employment and teaching of arts and crafts and but mostly in a very depressed area of Scotland, giving people jobs.

When it was first announced, and he went into the nearby town of - near Dumfries House, there was a huge crowd of unemployed men. And they yelled, Charlie, my darling. So there is - there is you know, there is recognition in Scotland that he has been working in lots of different and somewhat surprising ways are the welfare and well-being of the Scots.

KING: And Trisha, we heard King Charles this morning in his first address to Parliament as Monarch talk about the weight of history. He is mostly now talking about the legacy of his mother. He is mostly leading his family, his siblings and the rest of his family and the nation through this mourning period. But what do you see in his early words, glimpses if you will, at the agenda of the new King?

GODDARD: Well, he said, now I've counted at least I don't know, Sally, maybe you've counted more, I think two or three times or twice, at least, that he's kind of reiterated that this is a new job, a new responsibility. And he recognizes basically, to cut a long story short, and that he can no longer have to make the sort of pronouncements about issues close to his heart that he did before. For instance, the environment, I know, he's talked about refugees in the past that might have you. So I think that is something that he's seeking to reassure people that he's not going to veer away from whether he actually does that or not, remains to be seen.

I think the other thing that he has really been strong on is mentioning the strength of the Queen Consort, Camilla, again, twice he's mentioned, or at least, you know, that they've been married for 17 years that she's kind of, she's there to stay.

And this is the future. He's mentioned, obviously, we heard Meghan and Harry and the fact that he used their Christian names, it's a very warm, loving, to refer to your - you know, to the family. So I think what he's talking about is bringing the family together.

And I also think that he's talking about bringing the country together, because as you know, Britain is going very, very tough time. So, you know, I think his whole message is about unity, defending the faith, and faiths recognizing, no matter what you believe in, no matter what your country's future in is, you are all part of Britain's view of his view.

So it's very much the bringing together of people that he seems to have concentrated on. I think it's fantastic.

KING: Much more of our special coverage a bit later in the program again some live events we will bring you as this remarkable week unfolds in the UK. Sally and Trisha will be back with us. Then up next, though Russia in retreat, a Ukrainian counter offensive reclaims key territory and dramatically reshaped the battlefield.



KING: Russia is in retreat as Ukrainian forces celebrate swift and substantial gains in recent days on the battlefield. Nearly 1200 square miles of Ukrainian territory has been liberated in just the last week. Let's take a look at some of the developments including this.

This is President Zelenskyy's telegram channel celebrating the raising of the Ukrainian flag again in Kharkiv, Ukraine that had been under Russian control. You see the celebration there. Watch this play out. This is just the last month again focused right up here in the northeastern part of the state in Kharkiv and just watch as the red is controlled by Russia.

Watch what has happened especially in recent days as this plays out. Dramatic gains by Ukrainian forces in that region right now. Can the counter offensive continue? Let's get some important reporting and insights. CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Kharkiv for us, our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Melissa, let's start with you on the ground. What is the latest? And can the Ukrainians continue this momentum? MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest John is that there have been some more advances you watch those troops head eastwards and southwards these last few days quite extraordinary gains. What we've just been hearing is that Ukrainian forces have now crossed the Siverskyi Donets to take a village in the Donetsk region.

Of course that is significant, not only because it continues to speak to the speed, the pace of that advance, but also because it would tactically strategically mean that troops that are Russian troops that are caught to the West will find it very difficult to escape.

So an extremely fast advanced, very clever one strategically, and yet you pointed out quite rightly that we're following it essentially by geo satellite watching, tracking those images being posted on rooftops in village after village town after town by Ukrainian troops, which does give a slightly misleading impression of a very swift and painless advance.

We have been hearing from Ukrainian soldiers who say that in some villages, there's been no struggle at all stories of Russian soldiers leaving their equipment uniform behind putting on civilian clothes and heading to the border. But we went to the key town of - only yesterday and found that it still had substantial Russian presence and that the fighting continued.



BELL: A first artillery strike too close for comfort, then a second much closer--


BELL: Russia fighting back there and here in Kharkiv we've had missile strikes last night and again this lunchtime John. The kill you they're going to put up a fight. But the point is that the Ukrainian counter offensive, those advances continue.

KING: They continue and so at that point, what is the view of the Commander in Chief President Zelenskyy at this key moment.

BELL: President Zelenskyy's remaining relatively tight lipped. He holds these nightly conferences, these nightly addresses to the nation, not giving very much away confirming the number of settlements that have been taken the amount of territory. Fareed Zakaria had a chance to meet with him have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: You know that our goal is to do occupy our whole territory. The main goal is the occupation. We just cannot allow Russia to continue the same occupation that they started back in 2014. We will not be standing still, we will be slowly gradually moving forward.


BELL: A - determination there on the part of the Ukrainian President John and on the part of Ukrainian authorities determined to keep a tight lid on exactly what's happening in this counteroffensive, even as they press ahead and what appears to be their advantage, John.

KING: That's a remarkable moment. Let's shift Melissa, thank you stay with us. Let's go to Barbara Starr now live at the Pentagon. Barbara one of the reasons for success in the counter offensive of the Ukrainians themselves say this is Ministry of Defense video, these new higher tech U.S. weapons. What is the state of play now in terms of the Pentagon perspective on how well the Ukrainians are doing and what is critically important next?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the real question is what does happen next? There's a lot of caution here at the Pentagon, about $14 billion in U.S. military assistance has already gone to Ukraine just on Friday, more than $600 million of additional weapons, announced.

This is mainly armor artillery, howitzers critical ammunition that is needed for this ground fight. All of these weapons packages now very much being tailored, if you will, to what the challenge is on the ground for Ukraine.

Ukrainians telling the U.S. what they're trying to accomplish, what they need to do it and the weapons are flowing from both the U.S. and allied nations in Europe for those exact tasks. So why so muted about it, because right now the U.S. not ready to use the football analogy to spike the ball on this counter offensive, Ukraine has a big challenge ahead.

They need to be able as Melissa's pointing out, to secure hold and then potentially sustain and advance their objectives on the battlefield. The Russians have the same problem. The Russians suffering from lack of morale by all accounts also have to be able to sustain and then advance back against the Ukrainian forces.

Both of them may have challenges in the weeks ahead doing that very much aware that winter is coming positions on the battlefield may be solidified as the cold weather advances so everybody trying to get the best advantage they can right now.

The U.S. watching all of it very carefully continuing to support the Ukraine's efforts but not yet ready you know to break out the champagne if you will, they know both sides especially the Ukrainians have a long way to go John.

KING: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon I appreciate that, Melissa Bell in Kharkiv as well grateful for the live reports. Up next for us, Republicans look for a midterm reset eight weeks from Election Day, talk of a red wave now replace with talk of a remarkably competitive map.



KING: The close primary season this week and we count your midterm election votes eight weeks from tomorrow, control of the House and Senate of course among the big midterm prizes and the conversation as we shift to fall well, it's very different than it was when the primary season began back in the spring.

Joining me now to share their expertise and their insights two of our favorite strategists and pollsters, Republican Kristen Soltis Anderson, Democrat Maggio Mary (ph), we should note Marggio's firm is doing polling for a number of Democratic candidates this cycle.

So if I steer you into potential conflict, raise your hand as we go through the dynamics. But eight weeks out, I wanted to start with the big dynamics of where we are because if you go back to the spring to now we're just having a different conversation.

This is 538 house selection forecast and the just looking at the screen starting left and right there, it tells you the difference. The Republicans are still favored and considerably so to retake the House but if you just notice by less of a percentage, less of a margin now why?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: Part of that is that Democratic voters have become more fired up. There are pieces of the Democratic coalition that especially in the wake of that Supreme Court decision around abortion have become much more engaged.

And so while Republicans had a big advantage on enthusiasm in the spring, if you asked voters how excited are you to vote? Do you intend to vote? How motivated are you et cetera Republicans used to have a pretty big gap on that question. CNN's most recent polling that gap has closed between R's and D's that's what's making that trend line.