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Pollster: Dems' Closing Message Out Of Touch With Voters; Armed Individuals In Tactical Gear Seen Watching AZ Voters; Cheney Slams Youngkin, Others Campaigning For Election Deniers. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 24, 2022 - 12:30   ET



AYESHA ROSCOE, NPR HOST, "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY" AND "UP FIRST": Like because that's they, you know, they want to say, look, we are doing something. I will say, though that, you know, we sit here at this table. This is our job. You know, I love being here. I love talking about politics. But I think that when you look at what message will resonate with voters at this point, it is very hard to overcome the fundamentals. Inflation is high, the Democrats are in charge and people are mad like that is very hard to overcome. And I don't know that there's a golden message that you can use to overcome that.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It's a critical point. This is a tough environment for any president, Democrat or Republican, any politician, a nimble politician, a less nimble politician, but the President is the man in charge right now. And when you get this public criticism from within your own party, did they change the message? Or do they think we're right, you're wrong, we'll find out in 15 days?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Well, they seem to be changing in a little bit. I mean, we saw just on the Sunday shows this weekend, there's more of a shift to talking about Republicans threat to Medicare to Social Security. So talking about what Democrats have to offer and what Republicans would bring if they are given control of Congress. But, you know, I think it's a matter of not just having had maybe the wrong message, but just shifting a little bit too late.

Of course, if you're the president of the United States, and you have the string of successes that he did this summer, you're going to want to tout them. And there was a period when gas prices were coming down even more dramatically than they are right now. Of course, they're going to talk about that. It's just that we've now -- we're now a couple of weeks away, and the shift has gone in the opposite direction.

KING: Right. And I think the key is sometimes the conversations you made this point, I think in a different way, the conversation in Washington, sometimes a little different in the conversations out in real world. But Senator Sanders saying he understands after the Dobbs decision, why Democrats were talking so much about protecting abortion rights, he just thinks, listen, they lost the balance that you can talk about that. But you have to lead with the economy.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think what the Democrats have got to say is we are going to stand with working people. We're prepared to take on the drug companies. We're prepared to take on the insurance companies and create an economy that works for all of us. Is the abortion issue important? Yes. But we have also got to focus on the struggles of working people to put food on their table.


KING: Let's sneak the speaker that has to hear as well, because she again makes the point that maybe that she thinks we in our business are over simplified. She says Democrats are trying to do a lot.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Nobody said we're doing an abortion rather than economy. But it's about both. And I can tell you that that issue is very, very provocative and encouraging people to vote across the country.


KING: Just the debate is a reflection that it's a tough environment of the Democrats. But it's also you can be in one house race or one Senate race, it's a little different than a state maybe in another part of the country, or your purple state versus red state versus blue state.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. And to that point, I mean, I've actually I've talked to some Democratic Senate campaigns who say it's actually really helpful for them to tout their accomplishments, when they're able to go out and tell their voters, look, we worked in Congress to, you know, put the cap on prescription drug prices, we did X, Y, and Z, and that actually helps them. But you know what works in Washington may not work in Nevada versus Pennsylvania. And the strategies have to be different here.

And, you know, going back to Speaker Pelosi's point about how, you know, they weren't just talking all about abortion. That's correct. They were trying to talk about other things. But if you look at where Democrats placed their money, in terms of what they thought would be effective, abortion was a very, the issue of abortion took up a lot of that campaign money in terms of ad messaging. So maybe they are pivoting too late. But you know, we'll see what happens in two weeks.

KING: Right. And we'll watch those spending numbers in the final two weeks as people the body or time now the question is, what are they use it for on the T.V. We'll track that.


Up next for us, we continue the election conversation. Is this election security or voter intimidation? Armed vigilantes dressed in tactical gear, patrolling a ballot box in a key Arizona County.


KING: There are new complaints of voter intimidation in Arizona. In Maricopa County, two armed vigilantes in tactical gear, look closely, you'll see them there, patrolling a ballot box on Friday, that according to the county's elections department. Sheriff deputies showed up and they left. Earlier in the week an Arizona voter reported being filmed followed and accused of quote, being a mule while dropping off their ballot.

Let's go live to Phoenix now to share their reporting and their insights. CNN's Kyung Lah is there, also Yvonne Wingett Sanchez of "The Washington Post." Kyung to you first, you hear about these two incidents and you think oh, maybe they're just isolated, except they're not, right, this is the new normal?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, at least there's a pattern in this, John. And just to give our viewers a little bit of context, what we're talking about are two outdoor ballot drop boxes. This is one of them. This is in Phoenix. The one where you see the armed guys in tactical gear, wearing body armor and masks, they were outside Mesa, Arizona, the other outdoor ballot drop box.

And what election officials tell us is this is voter intimidation. They haven't shown up just one night. I spoke with the sheriff's deputy last night and we took a drive by the Mesa box. And there is a pattern. They've shown up multiple times, Friday, Saturday, and last night as well. I did not see them. I saw a different group of women there. But this is a pattern and they are very concerned about it. And they believe that this is intimidation according to county officials because you can drop off your ballot at up to 30 indoor votes centers as well as indoor ballot drop boxes and also every single mailbox in the county is someplace where you can return a ballot.


So this is mind numbing to election officials. They are concerned that with this sort of visual armed, you know, people showing up and watching these ballot drop boxes, they're going to have some type of confrontation. We are just in early voting now. We still have a good bit of time, before Election Day, John.

KING: And Yvonne, you've covered this issue for some time. And you note that these drop boxes have become particularly sort of a source of mistrust among Trump and Trump style voters. I want you to listen here. This is a Trump style Republican nominee for governor, Kari Lake, who, again, is raising questions not only about the 2020 election, but the one underway right now.


KARI LAKE (R-AZ), GOV. CANDIDATE: We have an incompetent Secretary of State who happens to be my opponent, I'm afraid that it probably is not going to be completely fair. I wish I could sit here and say I have complete faith in the system. I don't have faith in the system.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Is that not why these people are out there thinking that it is somehow their duty to put on tactical gear and go watch these drop boxes because they keep being told they are nefarious as opposed to a safe, legal, and smart way to maybe vote?

YVONNE WINGETT SANCHEZ, DEMOCRACY REPORTER FOR ARIZONA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Look for the past two years, Trump and his allies, including Kari Lake, have really been criticizing and denigrating Arizona's election systems. And we are now seen the consequences of that, armed people wearing tactical gear, people signing up online on these signup sheets, getting specific instructions to photograph people to take pictures of their driver's licenses, and to turn some of disinformation into some of these conspiracy groups that have for two years been preparing for this moment. And that's what we're seeing now.

KING: And Kyung, back to you. The Democratic candidate for governor happens to be the Secretary of State who was sending on to the Justice Department in addition to the state attorney general's office, these new complaints. She's trying to make this election integrity a defining issue. Listen.


KATIE HOBBS (D-AZ), GOV. CANDIDATE: Race for governor, it's not just about Democrats or Republicans. It's a choice between sanity and chaos. She's based her entire platform on Trump's lies from 2020. And that's what she's running on. And we knew that she was going to start making these unsubstantiated claims of fraud. We're preparing right now for those challenges.


KING: We will obviously have to wait to see the specific challenges and then the vote count as we go through the next 15 days. In terms of the race for governor incredibly close is that issue as Katie Hobbs getting out of that issue, what she hopes.

LAH: It's a little difficult to tell right at this moment because what's really sort of taken over the governor's races whether or not Katie Hobbs is having enough public interfacing as far as events whether she will ever be debate with Kari Lake, it doesn't appear definitely that she's going to be doing that.

So that really has become the overriding at least immediate issue in front of voters. But certainly by having armed people show up outside of something as innocuous as a voting ballot drop box, that is something that is starting to pick up steam. But, you know, as of what I've seen so far, that's really been her only main comment. But these issues are going to keep popping up. And again back to the concern at hand. The immediate concern at hand is voter safety, whether anyone's safety will be compromised because of all this, you know, ridiculous drama outside of these drop boxes. That is what law enforcement here is worried about.

KING: I think we will see. We are seeing it in Arizona and I think we will see it elsewhere too. It's based on some of the, shall we say chatter, among those who say it's an issue. We'll continue the conversation, Kyung Lah, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez appreciate your time today. Again, we will come back to that.


Up next for us though, Liz Cheney talks Trump. She urges him to comply with the January 6th Committee subpoena but promises that if he does testify, the Committee will not let it become a circus.


KING: This breaking news just into CNN, a reprieve at least for now for the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the Supreme Court freezing a lower court order that would have forced the Senator to testify in Georgia's investigation of Donald Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid. Paula, tell us more.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right John center ran getting temporary relief from the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas has halted a lower court order that would have required the Senator to testify before an Atlanta area grand jury that is hearing evidence about efforts to interfere with the 2020 election. Now the senator asked the Supreme Court to halt this subpoena while other legal challenges play out.

The Senator has insisted that his activities in the state following the presidential election that they were all legislative activities that are protected by the Constitution. Now, this is certainly not the final word in this matter. The Supreme Court has asked for a response from Georgia investigators to be filed by Thursday.

KING: To be filed by Thursday. We'll stay on top of that one. I'm just going to say I'm going to use the word curious that Clarence Thomas, given his wife's efforts to fight the election in 2020 would be involved in a case like this at all, but I'll leave it at that. Paul Reed, thank you very much. We'll continue to watch this case as it plays out.

And somewhat related story, the January 6th Committee Vice Chairman Liz Cheney not ruling out public testimony if Donald Trump complies with a committee subpoena, but whether it's in public or behind closed doors, Cheney promising the panel would not allow it to become a spectacle. You'll remember the Committee subpoenaed Trump Friday. It wants testimony under oath.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We are not going to allow the former president. He's not going to turn this into a circus. This isn't going to be, you know, his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and the food fight that that became. This is far too serious set of issues.


KING: Our great reporters are back with us. Is there anyone at the table who thinks that Donald Trump would comply with the subpoena and not fight it for months and months past the life of the Committee?



KIM: No.

ROSCOE: He's going to drag it out.

KIM: Right. I mean, if past is prologue, and it usually is with Donald Trump, I mean, this was his tactic. While in the White House, when he faced a litany of legal troubles, congressional oversight, congressional requests for information, they dragged it out, dragged it out, put it through the courts, and I would not be surprised if that was a tactic here.

KING: And --

ROSCOE: I mean, this idea that he's not that they're not going to have a circus. The problem is that, you know, Donald Trump leaves the circus and he brings it wherever he goes and loves the rallies, a showman. If in some, you know, world he did testify, it is going to be a circus, like, you know, it's just -- that's just a fact.

MASON: You also asked tongue in cheek earlier whether if there were a guarantee of a evening showing, if President Trump would say former President Trump would say yes. I mean he does like the attention as we all know, all attention is good attention for him. But the likelihood of that happening based on what Representative Cheney said is very low.

KING: I would suspect his lawyers would say no, no, no, no, absolutely no. X, nays, it's a better way to put it. Cheney obviously is made quite clear. She's not a fan of Trump's she thinks he's a threat to the Republican Party and the country. She also made clear in this interview, that she's going to take issue with people like the Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, arising Republican star that was out campaigning in Arizona recently. He has also campaigned with other election deniers, Liz Cheney says for her, that's a litmus test.


CHENEY: I think they are really indefensible decisions. And, you know, I've said, I think that Glenn Youngkin has done a good job as governor of Virginia. But nobody should be out advocating for the election of people who will not honor the sanctity of our elections process. And, you know, people who do that are, in fact, putting politics ahead of the Constitution and ahead of the country.


KING: She's making that argument 15 days from the midterms, but that is also a foundation of an argument she's going to continue to make as we go from 2022 into 2024. The question is, can she succeed, or is she a minority in the new Republican Party?

MASON: Well, I think it's pretty clear that she's a minority right now. And I think, specifically on Liz Cheney, the question is also what platform will she have starting next year when she's no longer a member of Congress, when she's no longer the vice chair of this Committee that she decided to run for president? Does she find another way to keep this message going, but she is for sure, at least in terms of people in the party speaking publicly and advocating for that, not in the majority on this issue.

KING: And so it's interesting in the sense that, you know, Youngkin says Joe Biden won the election, but he tries to obviously keep faith, keep support among the people like Kari Lake, among election deniers, Liz Cheney says I don't want any part of that. She also said in that interview, that if Trump is the nominee, she is certain there'll be a fracturing and a new conservative movement, Conservative Party will come out to your point about what's her future, might that be it?

KIM: I mean, I'm not quite sure Liz Cheney is correct, that if Trump is the nominee, that the party would fracture, I mean, even Mitch McConnell, who is one of Trumps biggest antagonists, has said if he is the nominee in '24, he would support it. And I do think there is going to be a consolidation if, again, Trump is -- and that is, again, a big if, if President Trump is leading the Republican Party in 2024. But the problem for Liz Cheney, along with what Jeff said is that litmus test for her is not a litmus test for the rest of the party. I think Republicans have made a calculation that even if they dismiss the election denials that are coming from some of the candidates, that winning for them is a better -- is better for them at the end of the day, so they can win put in place Republican policies. So they're kind of overlooking that here. And Liz Cheney is a very lonely voice here.

KING: A lonely, she's a lonely voice who's hoping that these elections deniers lose so that she can make the case after the election. See, I told you so, we should have won that governor's office, we should have won that Senate seat and we didn't.

ROSCOE: Well, I think she also said that, you know, her primary race was like a test for the Constitution or whatever. And she didn't win that one. So I mean, I think the problem is over and over again, Liz Cheney's party has let her down and left her behind. And so even though she is speaking now she has that platform. It does not seem like it is making a difference at this point and with her own party.

KING: Right. We'll watch the conversation there, that's a fascinating one after the election how that debate plays out.


Up next for us, across the pond, Britain set per new prime minister.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, Rishi Sunak will become the next British Prime Minister. Sunak will replace Liz Truss who of course resigned after just 44 days on the job. Sunak will be the U.K.'s first prime minister of color, the first Hindu, and the youngest Prime Minister in more than 200 years.

Tomorrow, President Biden will roll up his sleeves to get his fourth COVID shot. The updated boosters have been available since August. But the President waited three months because remember, he contracted the virus. The White House warns winter is coming and is using this event to try to get more Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.

In an interview with NBC, the First Lady Jill Biden says her son Hunter quote is innocent and that she quote loves her son. Federal prosecutors you'll remember weighing possible charges against Hunter Biden related to tax violations and making false statements when he purchased the firearm. Hunter Biden previously denied those allegations but later acknowledged he bought the gun when he was struggling with drug addiction.


Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.