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GOP Ads Slam Dems On Crime In Final Weeks Before Midterms; Trump Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mar-A-Lago Case; Biden Visits Florida Today As Death Toll Rises, Search Continues. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 05, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: CNN's Martin Savidge is back with us. Martin, we watched the early parts of the launch, the mission, a success so far. Tell our viewers why this is so, A, important and, B, historic.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are 30 minutes into this flight. And you're right, there are four astronauts that are on board, two are international, and two are American. And there are at least three first involved in this flight. You've got Anna Kikina, who is the first cosmonaut to fly aboard an American spacecraft in 20 years. And of course, she is the first to fly ever since the tensions were introduced into the space program as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Now, none of this mission has focused on politics. It's all been about unity. And then the other two firsts really here are involving Nicole Mann who is the commander of this mission. She's the first female commander of a SpaceX flight. She's also the first Native American woman now to get into orbit.

And it is a momentous moment because for NASA, it just shows that they've been able to keep up what is a pretty aggressive system launching almost every six months, and everything seems to be going extremely well. This flight was delayed as a result of Hurricane Ian for a couple of days. But now, they're going to begin their race to catch up with the International Space Station, which they should catch sometime tomorrow afternoon, about 29 hours from now. But they've got to get up to about 17,500 miles an hour to do it. And then they'll meet crew four and do a handoff period. And then eventually crew four comes back route five stays for about six months, John.

KING: Seventeen thousand five hundred miles an hour, if toss that in, it was like it's a little detail. That's pretty remarkable. Martin Savidge, grateful for your help as we watch this mission unfold.

Back to politics now, evidence today that a focus on crime is helping Republicans improve their standing in two big Senate races, the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin seats, both currently held by Republicans and they are critical when you do the math to figure out which party will control the chamber come January. CNN's Dan Merica joins our conversation. And Dan, I just want to circle the states, you know, in sense that you have them, when you look at the map. It's a 50-50 Senate. Republicans need a net gain of one.

Part of that math is let's keep our own, right? So you want to defend Ron Johnson here. And you hope Dr. Oz wins here. The Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is not running. If you look at the polling, Johnson standing has improved. He was behind a couple months ago. It seems to be ahead by a little bit now. And Dr. Oz is getting closer to John Fetterman, a ton of money spent by Republicans on crime.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: The deluge of ads in those two races and really across the country. And in September alone, Republican groups and campaigns spent $40 million on ads, dealing with crime. Democrats mostly responding to those ads spent about $32 million. That's a significant amount of spending. On an issue, frankly, I don't think a lot of Democrats would like to be spending that kind of money on.

I think it's interesting how these Democrats are responding to these claims. You have Barnes who has a long history of speaking about police issues in Wisconsin. He was very out in front about income after in response to Kenosha when he was lieutenant governor. He's been a little bit more on the defensive. He's at aired ads. Talking about it. These are ad featuring some police law enforcement officials endorsing him pushing back against the defund accusations.

Fetterman has responded to Oz's calls of asking him to fire two members of his staff who were wrongfully convicted and then he come in as the head of the Parole Board issued commutations to them. He then hired them on the campaign to turn out voters and Pennsylvania. Fetterman has been much more aggressive, brought them on stage in Philadelphia has refused to fire them. So you're seeing two different strategies on this crime.

KING: As you mentioned, I just want to put up the spending in the Pennsylvania Senate race 67 percent on crime ads since August 1st and the Wisconsin Senate race 41 percent of total spending since August 1st. My bet is that number on the right goes up. Some Democratic strategists have warned the party for months this was a vulnerability. The question is, in these two key races, how are these candidates handling it?

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, that is that it has been going on for months even going back to the State of the Union, when Biden said, look, we're not the party of defund, defund, defund. And you have both candidates sort of trying to walk back and come towards the middle just like Democrats all across the country, right, we've been trying to say, you know we are for law and order. We are not for defund the police. We are for keeping you safe.

KING: And let's just show the polling. I mentioned it in talking to Dan there, if you look at the Pennsylvania race, Fetterman-Oz was 47 for Fetterman back in July, 36, a big lead now it's 45-41. You're still ahead, John Fetterman. But that's pretty close. That's right around the margin of error. It's a competitive race.

You move on to Wisconsin. Back in August, it was Barnes 50, Johnson 46 in this "Fox" poll. And right now you have Johnson 48, Barnes 44. So again, we got almost five weeks to go. So you know, nobody should be calling their bookie in Vegas right now. But if you talk about trajectory, the trajectory favors the Republicans.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is absolutely true. I see the dynamics in these two states as fundamentally different. I think in Wisconsin, you have a dynamic where Mandela Barnes is a black man, Milwaukee is very segregated city, you throw out the word crime, and the Democratic Party nominee is a black man. And that is going to have an impact on some of the voters in terms of turnout. So there is a racial element to the political context of what is going on here.


Also, Barnes because of the context of the last two years, did have some past statements that were critical of police who are talking about the importance of, you know, police being held accountable also and that's easier, I think, to weaponize against him. In Pennsylvania, fundamentally, the dynamic that you have is people asking questions about whether Fetterman can get past his stroke and be strong enough to serve and whether Oz was too tied to Donald Trump or not. And those are the two dynamics that are really driving the test for both of those candidates on Pennsylvania.

Oz, moving to the middle, in that case. Barnes showing that he's closer to the middle. The other interesting dynamic in Wisconsin is Democrats effort to flip the script. We saw every time that Michael Bloomberg backed gun safety group, making the case that Ron Johnson actually is responsible for flooding guns onto the streets because he's against gun control. And that Mandela Barnes is not the problem.

KING: Right. This is a lesson I learned in my first campaign 1988 when they were in the Willie Horton nets against Governor Dukakis. Governor Dukakis thought they wouldn't have an impact, they wouldn't sway voters. They absolutely certainly did. In that context, let's listen to a bit of the ads against Barnes and against Fetterman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mandela Barnes would join their squad. Barnes wanted to abolish ICE, open our borders, and release violent felons.

MANDELA BARNES, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF WISCONSIN: We need to invest more in neighborhood services and programming for our residents for our community on the front end, where will that money come from? Well, it can come from over bloated budgets and police departments.

JOHN FETTERMAN, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: We should know exactly who's in our prison, if we're going to mete out the ultimate punishment, and that is death by incarceration, we better be damn sure that it's appropriate for these folks to be in there.


KING: You saw a mix there, beginning of that was ads, and then you had some of their past comments, which sometimes end up in the ads. You have two candidates who are part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, who after the you mentioned the history, the killing of George Floyd, yes, when a lot of Democrats started to question about police resources, or at least police reforms. And that's one of the places where the Democratic Party has found itself in some quicksand, if you will, reforming police and defunding the police, or come across to voters as completely different phrases.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Right. And we also have to put this in the context of we know that crime is -- violent crime is becoming an issue for residents, particularly those who are adjacent to major urban areas, and even those who don't live in urban areas. But the messaging they're getting, particularly from the right is that crime is out of control, particularly in states or cities that are run by Democrats.

And we know that when you pull voters, asking them which party do they think can handle certain issues better, they say that Republicans handled crime issues better. They also say Republicans, for example, could handle inflation and things better, but we know that the indicators are looking better for Democrats, whereas for crime, Democrats are finding, you know, themselves on the fence about that a little.

MERICA: It's worth noting that these Democrats are both very well- funded, and they are going to have a lot of money to push back against these attacks. That is going to matter whether they land, whether they relate it, you're obviously correct, but the money that these Democrats have is going to matter in responding to these attacks.

KING: That's very important point. And again, four and a half weeks, we'll watch as it plays out.


Up next for us, President Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene. He wants help in the Mar-a-Lago classified records case.


KING: Donald Trump is asking for a Supreme Court intervention. The former President's lawyers now asking the justices to set aside a federal appeals court ruling and to let a special master review the classified materials the FBI recovered at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Joining our conversation, CNN's Evan Perez and the former federal prosecutor Shan Wu is back with us. It is a narrow request to the court but quite a significant request.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. He wants the Supreme Court to tell the 11th Circuit the appeals court that it had, that it exceeded its jurisdiction essentially, by stepping into this fight that really began a few weeks ago when they went to this judge in Palm Beach, and got pretty much even more than they had ever even asked for. And so what he wants his for these documents, these 100 classified documents to be shared with the special masters is another third party that's reviewing them, and potentially, then be able to share those documents with him and his legal team. And so that's part of what the Justice Department is opposing. And I part of it I think what the play here is to test to see whether the Supreme Court is amenable to helping them out here.

KING: So if you are plotting strategy as a defense lawyer working for Donald Trump here, what do you see as the goal here is to simply delay or is it they want access to these documents somehow, they want to get to see them at some point, because they're worried he might face charges and they want to get a head start on preparing a defense.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, those are really one in the same goal, because in order to prepare for that defense, they need this delay, so they need to delay it. And I think as Evan pointed out, it's a very narrowly tailored, very technical pleading, actually. And in some ways, it's almost an invitation to Clarence Thomas and to test the waters because addressed to him as head of that circuit, and almost offers him a very narrower way to possibly take action himself or you'd probably have to go to the full court if wanted to cover.


KING: You make a key point that he's the head of that circuit, there a lot of liberal reactions, people who don't like Clarence Thomas saying, why does Clarence Thomas have this. He supervises the 11th circuit court of appeals. So if you're appealing from that, you go to him, and then it decides he gave the Justice Department a week to respond. And then they'll decide whether the court hears arguments, whether the court just decides nevermind, go away.

Steve Vladeck, another one of our great analysts by the Supreme Court, noticed that Donald Trump does not have a good history with the Supreme Court on these types of issues. The court has already rejected his efforts to block a congressional subpoena, to block a grand jury subpoena, and to block a request from the January 6th Committee. So the expectation among legal experts is that this will not find a safe home, the justices will say no, but the Department of Justice now has to make a detailed response.

PEREZ: Right. And if you're Donald Trump, you're just keep trying, right? And what he is trying to do is, I think he wants to see whether, you know, Brett Kavanaugh, who has expressed some sympathy to the idea that there is something called executive privilege by a former president that he can still exercise, whether this is someplace that where he can get, you know, a sympathetic ear, if the time comes when he has to bring the entire case back to the Supreme Court.

Keep in mind, this is a very narrow issue he's litigating right now. But eventually he may want to come back to the Supreme Court over perhaps what the Justice Department is ending up trying to do here.

KING: Narrow, but is it novel? Is it enough for the court to say we should entertain this as a group or so narrow? They say no, our history on this is deferred to the government.

WU: It's terribly novel. And you could almost characterize this as the temptation of Justice Thomas. It is very novel. But on the other hand, I'd say like most experts are saying that the volume of the precedent weighs against them stainless.

KING: We'll watch it as it plays out. Again, the Justice Department has to respond by next week.

Up next for us, the President and the First Lady landing in Florida right now, they'll get a hurricane damage briefing from the governor, and they'll spend some time with impacted families and first responders.


KING: We'll take you live now to Florida. That's the President of the United States, the First Lady Jill Biden coming down the steps of Air Force One in southwest Florida. They are there of course to get a briefing to see some of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, that storm has killed at least 109 people. The President's schedule you see him being greeted at the airport there who's a briefing from the governor as well as a tour of damaged areas and some time with impacted families and some time with first responders who of course has always responded heroically there.

We are told to greet the President at some point in this trip, Senator Rick Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, and the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, all Republicans meeting the Democratic President to do the right thing, focused on the needs of the people in the state of Florida. Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. She's live in Fort Myers for more on the importance of the itinerary for this trip. Kaitlan?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's a lot on the schedule for President Biden and the First Lady while they're here on the ground. You know, this is the second storm site that they visited in recent days after they were in Puerto Rico on Monday, now here in Florida, specifically, the Fort Myers area today. And the White House says, you know, when you see those images of the Republican lawmakers greeting President Biden, they're putting politics aside today and focusing on what so many people here have lost, not just lives, of course, as you noted, the death toll is only continued to grow.

But also, you look around, John, and there's tens of billions of dollars in damages that have been -- that has been done to this area, as the governor here has noted how long it's going to take to rebuild in this area. And that's what President Biden is going to see when he's here on the ground. He's getting an aerial tour of what the damage has been starting in the Fort Myers area where you see, of course, behind me there are boats basically everywhere, in yards in places where businesses used to be, where businesses are just wiped off their foundations.

It's really remarkable to see the damage here as there are power trucks lining the street behind our camera trying to fix and restore power and service to this area. And then President Biden is going to go after he gets that aerial tour and sees the damage to get an operational briefing. That's where you'll see him in the room with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Other state and local officials talking about how they're coordinating that with the federal government and having that response as well, given just how much this is going to cost to rebuild.

And then President Biden is going to go and meet with the people whose lives have been impacted by this, people who lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods. You know, you see all these businesses, as we were driving in here, John, that have just been either they're suffering so much damage, or they're trying to stay open, but obviously operating in a limited capacity. And so that'll be also a big part of the focus for President Biden. And you will see him speak and deliver remarks later on this afternoon after he's seen that damage and gotten a briefing about what exactly the officials here have been surveying this damage, and what it's going to look like going forward.

KING: And Kaitlan talks about the importance of this, there's two pieces of it. Number one, you see your President, you see your governor, you see your senators there just to give you the visual people care, people are paying attention, but then you see even that little slice of damage behind you and our correspondents throughout the past week or so, Leyla Santiago in Sanibel Island this morning, you see the scope of the devastation. And you know, the words are important but this is going to take resources and commitment for months and months and years and years.

COLLINS: Yes, and that's, you know, and the White House has been asked multiple times this week about the fact that it is pretty remarkable to see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and President Biden together. And they've said, it's not going to be about politics, because this is, you know, they're not even going to discuss the differences that they have had and we know that there are many, because they said that's basically for another time because what happens now and what matters now is actually they do have a functioning working relationship, because you have to coordinate the federal response to something like this when it causes this much damage with what's happening here on the ground with the state and local officials.

And so that's what the White House says will be the focus between President Biden and Governor DeSantis. They've already spoken several times. They actually spend time together remember a lot about a year ago when the Surfside condo collapse happened near Miami. And so this isn't their first disaster that they've dealt with in the response together. But of course, this is another one and a fresh reminder for the people here who have a lot of rebuilding to do, John.


KING: Kaitlan Collins live on the ground for us. We of course will keep an eye on the President's trip as he makes his way across the devastated area. We'll be right back.


KING: Topping our political radar today, President Biden says he's concerned about oil production and its meeting today OPEC Plus, ignoring a Biden administration request and ignoring and saying it will cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day. You've probably noticed gas prices already creeping back up a bit. The national average for regular 3.83 a gallon today, that according to triple A and it's up 16 cents from September low.

South Korea and the United States launching for test missiles off the east coast of the Korean peninsula this morning. This is the ally's second military exercise in under 24 hours, the response of course to North Korea testing of ballistic missile on Tuesday over Japan without warning.

An 85-year-old American former U.N. official was allowed to leave Iran today after being held there for more than six years, Baquer Namazi's family says he's headed to the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi for surgery to clear a clogged artery that put him at risk for a stroke. Namazi, an American Iranian dual national was arrested in 2016 after visiting Iran to try to free his son from jail. Both were sentenced to prison for what the United States says are baseless charges.

America's national debt just surpassed $31 trillion, trillion with a T. Since 2020, the outstanding debt increased by $8 trillion, largely because of pandemic spending. But if you're keeping track, the debt has only gotten bigger and you see here going back to 2001 no matter if a Democrat or Republican is president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High fly ball, deep left. There it goes.


KING: That is baseball greatness, homerun number 62 for number 99, the Yankees slugger Aaron Judge breaking Yankee Roger Maris' American League record of 61 homers, that record set back in 1961. Tears coming in from across the country and from the White House, President Biden tweeting in part, history made, more history to make. The legendary blast came against the Texas Rangers last night now, the four-time all-star Judge waiting to see if he gets that ball back.



AARON JUDGE, NEW YORK YANKEES OUTFIELDER: I don't know where it's at so, you know, we'll see what happens with that. It'd be great to get it back but, you know, it's -- that's a souvenir for our fans so, you know, they made a great catch out there and, you know, they got every right to it.


KING: Oh, probably a sign bat, sign balls, and some nice playoff tickets in that fans future. Thanks for your time on INSIDE POLITICS today. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.