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McCarthy Not Ruling Out Social Security, Medicare Cuts If GOP Wins House; Putin Declares Martial Law In Four Annexed Ukrainian Regions; Economy Leads Abortion Among Voter Concerns In Polls. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 19, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: -- when you get back into these debt ceilings, the easy answer there politically, is, of course not. Any changes to Social Security Medicare, we will do only in conjunction with bipartisan agreements with Democrats period, end of question. He didn't say that.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's all fun and games to talk to reporters about what you might do as a majority. It's a lot different when Social Security checks don't go out, when military pay is in jeopardy, because the -- because they're going right up to the line with the debt ceiling. And we've seen this. We've actually seen this play out.

Now, the difference is Republicans haven't really ever paid a political price for that because it's always happened at a time when young voters move on. So the question is, is whether they decide that it's worth it to play, to do that kind of performative stuff, even if it doesn't change anything, in order to, you know, look like they're, they're doing something, but having the majority is different than having a governing majority. So we'll have to see, and McCarthy has some really strong personalities already in that caucus, and we'll see who get that.

KING: Well, that one seems like an opening to Democrats with 20 days left to say, watch out. We talked earlier about can you make it a choice because he did not give a clear answer about that. And the Rick Scott plan over on the Senate side opens the door to entitlement reforms, which many things would mean cuts.

Let's come back to the impeachment question. He says the country doesn't like impeachment for political purposes. That's what Kevin McCarthy says. And that's probably the very smart political thing to say before the election. But we also understand that within his house caucus conference, you have people saying let's -- some say impeach Biden, others say impeach the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas. Marjorie Taylor Greene, among those more restless members of the caucus, in this great new book by Robert Draper says this, I think that to be the best speaker of the House and to please the base, he's going to give me a lot of power, and a lot of leeway. That's interesting. TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: I found it very interesting that New York Times Magazine had a long excerpt. And in that excerpt, Marjorie Taylor Greene said things like she's asked to be on the Oversight and the Judiciary Committee, very powerful committees. She said she talked to Donald Trump about possibly being his running mate in 2024. He talked to Kevin McCarthy and that, that she -- that he had actually started bringing her into top level discussions on things like the defense policy bill, the NDAA.

So we're talking about an empowered Marjorie Taylor Greene, if Republicans retake control of the House, and again, she has pushed very far right initiatives, she's anti-LGBTQ on trans issues and things like that, impeaching the president. And we know Marjorie Taylor Greene is not the kind of person to fall in line once everything is said and done, you know, she's not going to just go quietly and say, well, you know, now that we're in the majority, maybe I don't want to do that anymore. That just hasn't been what we've seen from her.

KING: No, she's not stopping.


KING: Let me get in the time we have, I want to get to this Ukraine question because it's really fascinating about the shift in the Republican Party. There was a pretty big recession during the Ronald Reagan presidency, Republican presidents serve two terms. He didn't say let's stop the military buildup. Let's go easy on the Soviets. Forget the commies. We're in a recession. We didn't hear that from Ronald Reagan. Kevin McCarthy says I think people are going to be sitting in a recession and they're not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won't do it. That is a big shift. Adam Kinzinger, one of the Republican members who is retiring, who is not a fan of Kevin McCarthy says what in the absolute bloody hell is happening to GOP leader.

DANA BASH, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: This is, to me one of the more fascinating things that we are going to see if in fact, Republicans take over because the very real divide inside the GOP on the question of foreign policy and particular thing -- all things related to Putin or pick your, you know, your strongman leader out there in the world. The divide has been masked by, understandably, all the focus on the Democrats who are running Washington right now. That mask will be ripped off if the Republicans take the House or even the Senate. But even if it's just the House, you are going to see the older school Republicans, Adam Kinzinger, obviously, is part of that who say fund as much as you can to try to get rid of Putin and those who are following the Tucker Carlson's of the world, who are apologists for Vladimir Putin and even questioning the notion of what's going on in Ukraine. It's a real divide.

KING: Right. It's a huge divide on a significant global question, number one. But also Mitch McConnell, whether he's the Senate Minority Leader, or majority leader, he will be with President Biden on funding Ukraine, which raises the fact to your point, the possibility of government shutdowns, or at least, you know, coming to the cliff of government shutdowns in this big fight.

KUCINICH: Yes, absolutely. Yes.


KING: Up next, we'll continue the conversation about the aforementioned Vladimir Putin, a Putin power play today. The Russian leader declares martial law in four regions of Ukraine that Putin asserts belong to Russia.


KING: A big Ukraine related announcement from the Kremlin today. President Vladimir Putin declaring martial law in four Ukrainian regions Russia now claims as its territory, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Therefore, I signed a decree on the introduction of martial law and these four subjects of the Russian Federation, so will be immediately sent to the Federation Council.


KING: President Putin making those comments at a Security Council meeting this morning in Moscow. Let's go straight to Moscow. Bring in CNN's Matthew Chance. Matthew, tell us more about what this means.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well for those four regions inside Ukraine which Russia has, you know, of course attempted to annex, it means quite a lot. It means that, you know, the civilian authorities and the military authorities will work hand in hand, will be very tight restrictions in those areas that Russia still controls, even as Russian forces are pushed out of those areas, particularly the Kherson region to the south by an offensive by the Ukrainian military.

But the other parts of the announcement today are equally important from the Kremlin, because he's imposing tightened security measures on the border areas inside Russia as well, where there'll be much more close military checks, travel restrictions will be in force, there'll be a lot more of a military presence in those border regions, or where there have been an upsurge in attacks emanating from Ukraine over the past couple of weeks and months in particular, but also beyond that further, deeper into the country as well.

Regional governors are being given on undefined powers to impose certain restrictions, including increased checks of individuals in the country as well. The Moscow mayor, for instance, it falls under this area says it's not going to interrupt the rhythm of normal life in the country. But that's altogether not clear. And I think what this is doing is really showing, you know, the country that Vladimir Putin is not backing down, he's doubling down, he's not apologizing for the setbacks that have taken place inside Ukraine. Instead, he's like really sort of positioning the authorities to have a much tighter grip, much greater control on the country as he moves deeper into what he calls his special military operation. John?

KING: Matthew Chance critical reporting live for us from Moscow. Matthew, thank you very much.

Back home now, two important data points from the frontlines of the migrant crisis here in the United States. New York City opening Emergency Relief Center for asylum seekers at Randall's Island, some 20,000 Migrants have arrived in New York, and the city declared a state of emergency. We're also now learning the White House asked one city, El Paso, to not make an emergency declaration of its own. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is here to walk us through this important story. The New York City Mayor said we have a crisis declares a state of emergency. El Paso was on the verge and what happened?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER: They were considering it and what this really boiled down to was the White House had reached out and made assurances that they would continue to see federal funds at a time when the city was considering the state of emergency. To rewind here, El Paso mayor had said late last month in a public meeting that the White House and asked him to hold off but he supported that. He didn't believe that they needed to declare a state of emergency at that time.

And we asked the White House about those discussions. They -- an official told us that they did happen, there was no requests made and that they would continue to stand by El Paso. Now, John, to be clear here, it is not unusual for the federal government and border cities to be in touch, especially when there's an influx of migrants. And that is what's happening in El Paso. Now we've seen thousands of Venezuelan migrants crossing into that city and straining their resources.

And the mayor told us in a statement that he quote, doesn't bow to pressure and went on to say that it is quote, critical to work not only with the federal government, but with regional elected leaders and multiple partners when facing what he called a humanitarian crisis of this level. Now, we should also note the administration did say last week, they're going to start turning Venezuelans back into Mexico. They expect that to drive down the numbers. And the city officials have also noticed that numbers have subsided and they don't need to declare a state of emergency at this time.

KING: So Biden critics would say the White House tried to muffle this silence if they don't want the words emergency declaration from a city near the border coming out close to the election. The mayor says not the case.

ALVAREZ: Exactly in a reminder too, that this happens often counties, cities along the border may issue a state of emergency issue a disaster declaration to shore up additional resources. They often get to that point in an influx. In this scenario, there was nothing unusual about that conversation as we know at this point. KING: Thanks for coming in and sharing that. It's important. Priscilla, thank you very much.


Up next for us, we go inside the numbers, Republicans see momentum 20 days to Election Day. One reason is the belief that the GOP is rebuilding trust with Latino voters.


KING: There's an undeniable shift toward Republicans in the latest midterm polling but it remains a remarkably competitive environment 20 days to Election Day. And some impressive early voting numbers have some Democrats believing they can deliver a few surprises out there. Here to go inside the numbers with us, the Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson and Democratic pollster Margie Omero, just need to note for the record, Margie is doing polling for a number of Democratic candidates this cycle. That's our clarification there.

So help me, we're 20 days out. You can find a lot of conflicting data points, although in the last several days, when you look at polls, you do see at least most of the trends shifting toward a more favorable climate for the Republicans. The New York Times/Siena College Poll, one of the top issues, the economy 26 percent inflation, 18 percent abortion, 5 percent well behind it right there. If you look at it from that perspective, Margie, what we saw as Democratic momentum right after the Dobbs decision in July, in August seems to have faded some, fair?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I don't know if I say that's fair. I think sometimes people look at the -- some of these recent poll numbers of, you know, to urge people have is to say, what did Democrats do wrong this time, right? And I think there's a lot more to the story. One, of course, people are looking at things beyond the issue of abortion, the economy, inflation have always continued to be issues. It's something that Democrats have important story and talk about successes in Congress to talk about.

At the same time, I think it's important to look at what's happening in some of these states and districts where Republicans have spent a lot of money on television, millions of dollars, so the polls don't necessarily reflect what someone saw in a debate on television or a funny tweet somewhere. It actually reflects the fact that of outside groups spending millions and millions of dollars in some places. And so it invariably will lead to races, changing than they were maybe over the summer.


KING: So that key point, this is ad spending where we to put three key states with not just these are -- key Senate races, they also have other governor's races, key races as well. There's just three of them, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. These are ad purchases from yesterday through Election Day. And you see there, the Democrats are having more money promised, but if you will, in Georgia, in Pennsylvania, and in Nevada, but in the Pennsylvania Senate race to Margie's point, Republicans up to this point about spent the Democrat by $14 million, 107 million to $67 million.

So how much can you use T.V. ad spending to bend what people, you know, if people might answer the poll, I care about this, then you as a strategist say, well, that's changed their mind?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the question is, how many undecided voters are there at this point, you would think that in a moment where we're so polarized, and people have really strong polls, from partisanship, look, you're in one tribe or the other. And that's you're going to vote for that, some of this might not matter. But in races that are going to be very close, just a little movement of a percent or two could really make the difference in the makeup of the United States Senate at the end of the day.

So even if there are not very many undecided voters, as they're sifting through all of the information available to them, you want to be the last voice they heard in their ear before they're walking into that ballot box to make --

KING: So let's go through, you mentioned and you're absolutely right, little tweaks on the margins. The point here, half a point there can flip up, you know, who wins a 50-50 race, a very competitive race, you did a recent focus group among Latino voters. Donald Trump made gains among Latino voters, particularly men, in the 2020 election. The question is, you know, was that an aberration? Or can Republicans sustain some build back, if you will, with a constituency that they performed terrifically with for many years?

I just want to show this is just the words that jumped out the most inflation, housing, divided nation, then you see inflation and division, inflation and housing, moral conscious, let's start with you on there. Is it real? Do you believe that Latinos are coming back to the Republicans in every state that matters, in a state like Nevada, it would be decisive, Arizona, it could be decisive, even Georgia small constituency, if it's very close, how significant?

ANDERSON: I think it's very significant, because Latino voters like young voters, like so many other groups that have been a really key part of the Democratic coalition that has enabled them to have successes in recent elections. They've been more disappointed with the way things are going, they're getting hit with high housing prices, they're getting hit with -- it costing so much to fill up their tank. And so as a result, Republicans have an opportunity to talk to voters who may in previous cycles have said no way this -- that party is not for me.

Now, do I think Republicans are going to win Latino voters outright, nationally? No, I don't think so. But do I think they can do better than they have done in previous cycles? Absolutely. And in a number of these districts and in some of these key states in the Senate, I think that can make a difference.

KING: Well, if your friend is right, different party but still a friend, if she's right, what do Democrats need to do to stop that, to stop Republicans from making again, even modest gains could make the difference in some places?

OMERO: Well, I think it's important for any group, there's no group that is a -- that is monolithic, that you can just say this group cares about this, whether it's Latino voters, whether it's suburban women, whether it's younger voters, you name it. And so Latino voters, disproportionately vote Democratic. But that margin, according to a lot of national polls has been shrinking a little bit. That means they're both a GOTV get out the vote turnout audience and a persuasion audience. You need to make the case not as well as boosting enthusiasm and motivation and making sure people made a plan to vote and so on.

And so that means talking about a variety of issues. I mean, people talked about abortion as well, in Kristen's focus groups. So that in addition to economic issues, it also means the wide range of issues that are affecting everybody right now.

KING: Well, the smart campaign reads something about that and then figures out what do we have to do about it. Grateful for your time. We'll continue the conversation 20 days left to go.


Up next, Donald Trump answers questions under oath in a defamation lawsuit brought by the former magazine columnist, E. Jean Carroll.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today the former President Donald Trump is being deposed today under oath that in a defamation lawsuit brought by the magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll. Herald sued Trump in 2019 for defamation. She says then President Trump's damage to reputation when he denied raping her in the New York Department Store dressing room in the 1990s.

In Florida today, the Sanibel Island causeway reopening to residence, that's ahead of schedule. More than 100 construction crews were assigned to fix it after Hurricane Ian wiped it out. They worked around the clock over two weeks to finish temporary repairs. About 25 percent of the island should have our back this week. But their neighbors on Captiva Island not so lucky, power there might not be restored until November.

The NBA Steph Curry giving a shout out to fellow basketball star Brittney Griner on her birthday. Steph Curry appealing for her release from a Russian jail.


STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray that it's been 243 days she's been wrongfully incarcerated in Russia. We hope that she comes home soon and everybody is doing their part to get her home.


KING: Griner awaiting a hearing in Russia later this month. This quick programming note, join Drew Griffin to an investigation at Steve Bannon and his master plan to reshape the United States government and the Republican Party. CNN special report Divided We Fall begins 11:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday right here.


Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.