Return to Transcripts main page
Mace: GOP Wants To Impeach Biden; Oz: Voters Deserve "Transparency" On Medical Records; CNN Obtains Audio Of Florida's Top Election Official Speaking To Group Of Election Deniers. Aired 12:30- 1p ET
Aired September 26, 2022 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: She specifically mentioned the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, the question is how much difference does that made? I mean, this is a party that has left her some time ago. She was booted out from the Republican leadership. It's remarkable to think that in this Congress, she was the number three Republican in the House GOP conference, but it was rejected. You take it out of that position because of her criticism of Donald Trump. She lost her primary rather resoundingly. This past summer, it's clear even though she and her family represent what has been the establishment wing of the party for so long. She is in the very minority of the party and calling out Donald Trump so publicly. So yes, you may want to leave the Republican Party. We've seen others who have left the Republican Party because of Donald Trump. Well, that diminished Donald Trump's power within the Republican Party, that's less likely.
KING: It would be interesting in these very competitive races. Again, you're not looking -- you're just looking to move the margins, right? If you can get convinced a small percentage of Republicans, I can't do this. So it'd be interesting to see if it happens. Here's another question, Nancy Mace, a freshman Republican Congress from South Carolina who came to Congress actually modeling herself a lot after Liz Cheney, viewed Liz Cheney as a bit of a role model says this is not her opinion. But when she meets her their fellow House Republicans, they say that if they win the majority, one of their goals come January will be to impeach Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You expect an impeachment vote against President Biden, if Republicans take over the House.
REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I believe there's a lot of pressure on Republicans to have that vote to put that legislation forward and to have that vote. I think that is something that some folks are considering. If that happens, I do believe it's divisive, which is why I've pushed back on it personally, when I hear folks saying they're going to file Articles of Impeachment in the House. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: She says she pushes back on it personally, the one thing that did not come up there is for what, impeach him for what, wearing Ray Bans in the dark?
RAJU: It should be high crimes and misdemeanors, which is an enormously high threshold, and only three presidents in American history have been impeached. But you're seeing this in the aftermath of Donald Trump, this being used as a weapon by the majority party and Kevin McCarthy are going to be under a lot of pressure. So he is speaker to mount those impeachment investigations. There are already been nine resolute -- impeachment resolutions introduced in the House, Republican conference so far. And we'll have to do that, we'll have to make promises to go forward and keep an open, keep that open in order to get the votes to become speaker, those are questions.
KING: Again, talking about the margins, you don't need much in a very close race. Does that help or hurt Republicans that the idea out there that, you know, they're talking about impeaching Joe Biden, again, you can be angry inflation, you don't have to like the Democratic spending, but those aren't impeachable offenses. What for what?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, and I think that's why you don't see Republicans, by and large out campaigning on this right now, particularly in swing districts, or if they are they're trying to massage the answer like this, say, well, I'm not, you know, part of the problem. But off of the campaign trail, a 100 percent. You've -- we know about all the investigations that are stacked up all the calls for impeachment. The plans to impeach like, yes, of course, this is like it's looming, it's coming. And I think part of the reason why historically you haven't seen pushes to impeach all the time, is because if you try to impeach a president, and you don't succeed, all you're doing is opening the floodgates to kind of a politicization of this thing that is really supposed to be for extreme cases, but I think it's probably inevitable if Republicans take the majority that you'll see an increasing number of efforts.
KING: Something to keep an eye on six weeks ago from tomorrow is the election.
Up next for us, John Fetterman is back on the trail and using his May stroke to question his rivals compassion. It's the race that could determine which party controls the Senate.
KING: John Fetterman trying now to turn his May stroke from a campaign giant question mark into a closing weeks advantage. It's another interesting wrinkle in a fascinating Senate race that could determine which party controls the chamber come January. The Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz released medical records on Friday. It says Fetterman should do the same to answer questions about his fitness to serve. Democrat Fetterman, though now trying to turn the tables. He held two rallies on Saturday, delivered speeches of more than 10 minutes long. Also worries, you see working the rope line, the crowd after his Lehigh Valley stopped all part of an effort by his campaign to show big strides in his recovery. And in his remarks Fetterman tried to turn the Oz questions about his health into questions about the Republicans compassion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: Who have you may have had a real serious health challenge in your life, anyone? Look at the hands. I hope that you didn't have a doctor in your life making fun of it, laughing at you, telling you that you're not able to do your job. You're not fit to serve. If we don't do what we need to do right now and step up, you're going to have that doctor in your life for the next six years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get some perspective now from two campaign veterans Republican strategist Kristin Davison, among her work was Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and in Pennsylvania with David McCormick's Senate primary campaign. And the Democratic strategist Doug Thornell, his work includes time with Senator Mark Kelly in Arizona and West Morris gubernatorial campaign right now in Maryland. We've never had a campaign like this where the candidate suffers a stroke right before the primary is the general election candidate. As the Republican, Dr. Oz says, let's see your medical records.
Fetterman reluctant to do that, that what you just saw there, I was in the room and he did this in Lehigh Valley over the weekend and it's quite powerful. He asked everybody to raise your hand if you've had a medical issue, how about your parents, what about your children, people in the crowd are saying I only have two hands it's powerful in the room but those are people who waited in line to see John Fetterman at a Democratic rally. Does it work with voters? Can he flip this on Dr. Oz is sort of heartless. That's the attempt.
KRISTIN DAVISON, VICE PRESIDENT, AXIOM STRATEGIES: You know, I think it's important ever before John Fetterman had a stroke and had health issues, he had a record of being a radical liberal and especially when we're looking at crime being one of the top issues this election, John Fetterman has bragged about wanting to get more criminals back out on the street. And so flipping the script I mean, you saw Dr. Oz out in Kensington, I think a week or two ago, taking individuals to rehab who are suffering from overdoses. That's the kind of thing that Dr. Oz campaign needs to do more of to show that compassionate side.
Fetterman's health issues and his, you know, fit to serve will become apparent on its own. I don't think that the Dr. Oz campaign really needs to weigh in on it.
KING: Yes, you say they don't need to weigh in on it. Dr. Oz spends a lot of time weighing in on it including this saying, I released mine. I want to see yours. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MEHMET OZ (R-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: And it's about the voters. They deserve transparency. As the Pittsburgh Post Gazette requested and you highlighted this, they want to see our medical records. So I released mine, though, I let it all out there that the voters decide if it's a problem. Fetterman needs to do the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Does Fetterman need to do the same? Do voters deserve to see his medical records? Or is it just as the Fetterman campaign says we released a letter from a doctor that says as long as he follows, takes his medication as long as he listens he'll be OK. And they're hoping the voters just seeing him out there more answers the question, should release his records?
DOUG THORNELL, FORMER DNC ADVISER: No, not necessarily. I mean, if they feel the need sure, but I think I think Dr. Oz is taking a real risk here because he's banking his entire campaign on this issue of Fetterman's health. And voters are now seeing John Fetterman standing up talking, doing these big rallies, you know, not only did he get a lot of people in Philadelphia, but he was in Northampton and Lehigh Valley getting a lot of people using Indiana County, which is a small, you know, smaller county getting 600 people.
So I don't think Dr. Oz has a lot to campaign on right now. This is all about Fetterman I think doing something smart, connecting with the common man, the common woman, right? And that is the biggest problem that Dr. Oz has is that he is viewed and he's being portrayed as an out of touch millionaire who's got multiple houses all over the country. And if Fetterman can do this, well, then he's in really good shape in the general.
KING: I was there for one day. So my observations are just one time in the room. But I talked to several reporters who've been covering the race in the beginning and they say there is clear progress in terms of when they listened to Fetterman. He says he has auditory issues from the stroke. We'll see what happens when he debates Dr. Oz. They're taking -- kind of shown from closed captioning to help there. But I just want folks to listen to John Fetterman a month ago and John Fetterman this weekend, one month later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FETTERMAN: Of the 10 homes, Dr. Oz has, do you think any of them have a skill plant across any of them? I do. Do you think of the 10 homes Dr. Oz have has a union hall across their home? Dr. Oz never stops reminding that I had a stroke. And I guarantee you, I promise you that there's at least one person in this audience right now that's filming me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's giving longer speeches and he sounds better. And he says his campaign staff says he's better. Do we know how voters process this, again, I've been recovering politics for nearly 40 years, I never had a race like this. Do we know how -- we know how campaign people think about it. You know, Dr. Oz says release your records, the Fetterman campaign is sort of how do voters process this, do we know?
DAVISON: You know, I think you're seeing it in the way that this race is shaping up. You know, Dr. Oz, went through a bruising primary, had to come out the gate, win back, you know, half of the Republican electorate on his side and start to make those inroads. And that's right when Fetterman was really getting his legs back now you see Oz is gaining his feet, inflation, crime education, all top issues to the front that Democrats, frankly can't talk about because they don't have answers for it. And you'll see Fetterman it's not just his deteriorating health, it's a deteriorating message on the Democrat side.
So if I'm Fetterman, I'm hoping that they keep talking about my health and they keep talking about houses because then I don't have to answer why inflation is sky high and why Philadelphia has a shortage of 1,300 police officers.
KING: You pulled back a little bit. This is why we're having a polite partisan conversation Democrat and Republican here. But if you do, if you talk to people on both sides, as I was doing just this morning, and in the weekend in Pennsylvania, 10 days ago, the Democrats would say because the Dobbs decision, some other issues, they were feeling much better. Right now six weeks out, Democrats, even Democrats agreed sort of flattened out a little bit. Do you agree with that as Democrat momentum, not that it's gone away but like stalled a little bit? Where are we six weeks out?
THORNELL: I think where we are. We have in a lot of these states. Democrats have successfully turn the races into choices between the candidates instead of a referendum on Joe Biden. You can see that in Arizona. You can see that in Pennsylvania you. You can see that in Georgia. Republicans nominated I think some deeply flawed candidates who have now become the issue. Oz in Pennsylvania in particular, but you have Blake masters in Arizona, you have Herschel Walker in Georgia. So whatever issues Joe Biden may have in these places, they have been overcome now because of the flawed candidates, the Republicans nominated. So I like our chances look, it's going to be all of these races are going to be a couple points.
KING: A couple points which means we'll continue the conversation, hope you both come back as we do in the next six weeks up next for us a brand new CNN reporting on the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And how he handles Republicans who think elections are rigged.
KING: Ron DeSantis appears to want it both ways on the question of election denial. He says Florida's vote counts are legit. But new recordings and documents obtained by CNN pull back the curtain on how the Florida Republican governor has given an audience to activists who amplify claims that the 2020 election was stolen and how the now top election official in the state Cord Byrd cheered on election conspiracy peddlers at our March 2021 Summit, where he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORD BYRD (R-FL): That's where some of you all are going to come in because you're doing the date mining and the research that you can then bring to your state representatives and senator, and we can take that to our staff and the House and Senate and we can take that to the Secretary if State's office. You're going to be our army on the ground monitoring your local SOEs to ensure that they're doing their right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: CNN's Steve Contorno, reporting this breaking this important story, I urge you to go to CNNpolitics.com and read it in full detail. But Steve explained what we just heard and who Cord Byrd is.
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Cord Byrd is the Secretary of State in Florida. That means he virtually oversees all voting here. And what you heard was a sort of call to arms, he calling them his army, these are the people who are among those who believe that the 2020 election was stolen. He was speaking at a summit in March to people who want training to make sure the election isn't stolen again in 2024.
And prior to this audio that being obtained by us, we didn't know that that Byrd was part of this organization or working with this organization. In fact, it wasn't publicly knowledge when he was named Secretary of State. But from this audio, we not only know what he was at this event and speaking to it, but we also found out that he collaborated with Cleta Mitchell. She is a Republican attorney, who was closely involved in President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election in 2020.
Now, this is kind of a pattern for the DeSantis administration where people who believe the election was stolen have gotten access to the highest levels of this government. We have also obtained e-mails where DeSantis officials, show DeSantis officials had meetings with a group of activists that go by the name Defend Florida this is a group that is highly influenced by Cleta Mitchell and Mike Lindell, the my pillow guy, and they have been working in Florida to overturn the or to challenge the election results even here where Trump won. When we asked Cord Byrd about this, we asked his office, they said that he was the state legislature at the time and was essentially just meeting with a group that about important issues before the legislature, John?
KING: So let's listen to the governor himself. Again, he's on the record saying he believes Florida's count Trump won, by the way. But the Florida's count was fair done right. Listen to him back, again, This is March 2021.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Our view is, if you have results are reported on election night, and then all of a sudden you have a massive vote down to two days later, I believe changes, even if you tell me it was 100 percent above board. It doesn't sit well with people. They're not going to have confidence in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He would say the governor would say I assume there's nothing wrong with what he said that people do get suspicious if it takes a long time to count the votes. Why is it an issue? Is it because of where he said that?
CONTORNO: Not only is it because of where he said it but you can tell he's sort of dancing around the conspiracy that a lot of people were using to question the election results in Georgia. And John, I think what's most interesting is that when you talk to the people who believe the election was stolen, when you look at these e-mails where they are thanking the governor, celebrating the fact that he pushed an election integrity bill this cycle, the people who believe the election was stolen and the people who are working in Florida to prevent the election from being stolen again. They think Governor DeSantis is on their side and that is something that alarms election officials in Florida going into this next cycle, John?
KING: Steve Contorno, grateful for the reporting. And again, I urge you at home if you're interested in this subject lengthy report online. Take a look. It's very well documented and reported.
Up next for us, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with a big compliment for a Democratic member of the Senate.
KING: Topping our political radar today the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell giving a glowing shout out earlier today to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat McConnell calling Sinema quote, the most effective first term Senator I've seen in my time in the Senate. Republican McConnell praising Democrat Sinema for refusing to buckle the Democratic demands to change the filibuster. He also applauded her for her role in the talks, the bipartisan talks that led to the infrastructure bill and the Senate gun violence package.
Last hour President Biden welcoming last year's World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves to the White House, the President joking, he knows a thing or two about being doubted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But none of it came easy people counting you out, that guy, I know something about being counted out. And I know in Georgia you show up when it counts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.