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Speaker Pelosi's Husband Assaulted In Couple's San Francisco Home; Source: Pelosi Assailant Shouted "Where Is Nancy" Before Attack; Speaker Pelosi's Husband In Hospital, Expected To Recover After Attack; Obama, Biden, Harris Hit Trail In Final Midterm Stretch; Polls Show Toss-Up Races In Key Senate States; 11 Days Until Midterms: Dems In Triage Mode In Blue Areas; Poll: Class, Ethnicity, Incumbency Matter In Swing Districts. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 28, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. We begin the hour with breaking news, a brazen and violent assault. Paul Pelosi, the husband of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brutalized in their San Francisco home. Police say this attack happened overnight after a man broke in. The speaker was here in Washington. Her 82-year-old husband is now in the hospital, expected the speaker's offices to make a full recovery.

A Police briefing is scheduled for later this hour. We will go there live when it happens. At this moment, we're still trying to fill in the big question. What was the motive here? The male suspect is in custody. The FBI is still at the Pelosi home in San Francisco. Sources telling CNN that assailant used the hammer, used the hammer to beat Mr. Pelosi.

CNN's Jamie Gangel has been talking to sources who joins us now with some important breaking news. Jamie, what can you tell us?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): John, it appears we may actually have the motive, or at least part of the motive. I've just been told by a source was briefed on the attack, that the assailant who attacked Paul Pelosi was actually in search for the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that before the assault occurred. In other words, before he attacked Pelosi, the intruder confronted the Speaker's husband in their home and was shouting, "where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?

So, John, again, this is from a source who was briefed on the attack, who says before he physically assaulted the Speaker's husband, he was clearly looking for Pelosi herself. "Where is Nancy?" "Where is Nancy?" John?

KING: Jamie Gangel, joining us with our breaking news. Jamie standby, I want to bring in our senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, you've been tracking, what police are learning? What more can you tell us about this investigation and about this just brazening violent assault? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we know now that the FBI is still at the scene. They're at the Pelosi home in San Francisco. Of course, this happened in the early morning hours. If the speaker had been there, there would have been a security detail from the U.S. Capitol police. They were not there because she is not - she was not at home. They got there very quickly.

And now we're told that this is an investigation being done jointly by the FBI with the Capitol police and the San Francisco Police Department. And of course, the big question that I think Jamie is beginning to help answer is, you know, why the FBI would be involved. And this perhaps might explain it, if the assailant was trying to carry out this attack in search of the speaker.

If there was some kind of political motivation, perhaps those would be the reasons why the FBI would be playing a big role in this investigation. Again, we're expecting to hear a lot more from the police at this briefing in later this hour. But it does begin to sort of help answer the questions, they know who carried out this attack. They're doing their investigation, and they're getting a sense of what brought him this person to the home. It is a male person who was arrested there or detained by the police.

Again, there's still a lot of questions as to how he got into the house. It appears that he came in through the back of the residence, and then carried out this attack. The lot of very important questions still, as to what brought him to that location. John?

KING: Evan, standby as well. I want to circle back to Jamie Gangel. Jamie, Evan makes a key point there that had the Speaker been home in San Francisco, there would have been a Capitol police security detail there, because that's routine for the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

They also makes a key point that the FBI being on the scene signals that this is not just a San Francisco police investigation, for people who might not have been with us at the top of the hour, and so you can provide any additional details. I just want to circle back. You say, you have been briefed by somebody who is familiar with the early stage of this investigation, share more?

GANGEL (voiceover): So, John, you know, we have all been concerned about violence and threats related to politics. We don't know yet, what the complete motive is here. But I've just been told from a source who was briefed on the attack, that the assailant who attacked Paul Pelosi, the Speaker's husband was in search for the Speaker of the House. That before the assault occurred, before he physically started attacking Paul Pelosi that he came into the home shouting, "where is Nancy?" "Where is Nancy?"


So, there does seem to be some indication that, you know, whether this was politically motivated, you know, and what the politics might have been? Those are still questions to be answered. But it does certainly sound like, he was looking for the Speaker of the House. John? KING: Jamie Gangel, thank you for the breaking news reporting. So, Evan Perez, we come back to you to your point you just made, let's elaborate a bit to make clear. Federal involvement obviously, is a very different investigation, a very different focus. If you're talking about a break in on a high-profile home, or whether it was aimed at Paul Pelosi, or whether it's just a random break in versus if the FBI is getting clues to backup Jamie's reporting, that this was a targeted attack on the Speaker of the House of representatives.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly, John. The fact that we see the FBI, they're still there, by the way, tells us that they're going to play a big role in this investigation, and they don't normally do this on just an assault on a random home, or even if it's, you know, some random attack, there has to be some evidence that they've gotten from the early parts of this investigation, that indicates they have some kind of jurisdiction, some federal Nexus here.

And of course, as Jamie just raised, I think, you know, there's been a lot of concern by the FBI, by the Justice Department about some of the threats to political figures in this country. Of course, you know, we've seen an attempted assassination of a Supreme Court justice. In the last few months, we've seen concerns from the Justice Department about threats to public officials at school boards and so on.

So, there's been this sort of atmosphere that the FBI has been very, very much concerned about the tone of some of the rhetoric that is driving some of this. And, so again, that's sort of what the backdrop of why the FBI is there? Why they're very quickly? And why they are now playing a major role in this investigation? We're going to learn more, of course from police when they give this briefing, but you know, keep in mind, you know, the Speaker of the House, she travels with a security detail.

The Capitol police got there very quickly because they are present in San Francisco, just for when she travels to that location. So, you know, it is one of those things that the threats against public officials is rising and it is something a big concern for the FBI.

KING: Evan Perez, grateful as well, come back if we get any additional information. Let's continue the coverage. The White House says President Biden called Speaker Pelosi this morning, to share his outrage at the attack and to voice his support. Now as her husband is hospitalized. Again, the Speaker's office believes, he will make a complete recovery.

Our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is here with me in studio. For more on what we know and the stunned reaction here in Washington.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, we know we're learning a little bit more piece by piece through the course of this morning. We do know that this individual when he broke into the Pelosi home, and it happened in the middle of the night 2:27am.

According to the San Francisco police, he came in through the back door of the house and had a hammer in his hand, going into the Pelosi house and attacked Mr. Pelosi with a hammer, (Inaudible) Mr. Pelosi was taken to a hospital. According to the Speaker's office, Mr. Pelosi and they said is a quote expected to make a full recovery and is receiving excellent medical care. So, we'll learn more about that.

But it's so key to point out about the security detail, the security situation itself because she travels with U.S. Capitol police, but it does not extend to the family members themselves. And we have seen through the course of this last couple of years, all this political violence directed towards members of Congress who have had to boost their own security.

They're not provided security as well, but they are allowed to spend federal dollars to enhance their security. That is a new development because of the rise of threats, now that we're seeing also against family members themselves.

KING: All of our reporters are staying on top of this story. We will come back to it as we get more details. So, I want to move on and make this point. The San Francisco police chief scheduled to give an update at the bottom of the hour, 12:30 here in the east 9:30 in San Francisco am. We will carry that live when it happens. We will also bring you any additional details. We get us our reporters work this breaking news story asap.

Now though, let's take a moment to look at the midterm chessboard. Today, Democrats moving their biggest pieces around the most important battleground. The former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, the Vice President Kamala Harris, all of them on the road with just 11 days now. Until you get your midterm say, the show or forest reflects deep democratic worries about the shifting midterm map.

Mr. Obama today will be in Georgia. Raphael Warnock trying to keep his Senate seat against Republican Herschel Walker. Take it directly from Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, who sees the numbers every day. Listen to him, briefing President Biden, says there's reason to be concerned.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D) MAJORITY LEADER: The state where we're going downhill in Georgia. It's hard to believe that they will go for Herschel Walker. It looks like the debate didn't hurt us too much in Pennsylvania, so that's good.


KING: So, let's go straight to Atlanta. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there, awaiting the campaign return of Barack Obama, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There's no question that former president, it has been engaged already. He's been filming television commercials in key races across the country. But John tonight, we are going to see him here in Georgia. And the reason is this, trying to urge Democrats, urged voters to cast their early ballots, trying to inject some enthusiasm into the Democratic side of the campaign.

Look, the headwinds are clear, and no one knows that better than the former president, who of course, had bruising midterm elections of his own in 2010 and 2014. Like most sitting presidents, it's a difficult road for the president's party, but they do think that at least on the margins, they can motivate some Democrats. Tomorrow he'll be campaigning in Michigan, and Wisconsin, next week in Nevada, and then the final campaign week in Pennsylvania. What do all these states have in common, of course, key governor's races and Senate races.

But John, I'm also told the former president is going to specifically talk about democracy. And he's taken a keen interest in secretary of state races as well. He's been raising money for some of these candidates. And he's going to be directly engaged in this because he believes the 2024 election, of course, is so important, and it hinges on the Secretary of State racist. So, he's back on the campaign trail, but even Barack Obama as popular as he is inside the Democratic Party, can do very little to stop these headwinds. John?

KING: Now the question is, can he turn up votes to defy them? Jeff Zeleny, on the ground for us in Georgia. Thank you. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast, Jonathan Martin, and Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections. Mana Raju is back with us as well.

Jeff just made the point, you know, Barack Obama knows the pain of midterm elections. He got a shellacking in his first that was his word. He lost seats, again lost the House majority in the first midterm, lost the Senate majority in his second midterm election. He says, he's learned important lessons from that. We'll see how it conveys them on the trail.

Let's just put up the graphic here. These are just five, but these are the five closest Senate battleground races. And you just look at the margins heading into the final 10 days of the campaign. It's 51, 45 in Arizona, Democratic advantage but incredibly slight. In Georgia 52, 45. And these again, individual polls, so someone out there might have another poll that disagrees with.

You just see how close they all are. Fetterman, Oz in Pennsylvania. Cortez Masto, Laxalt in Nevada. Barnes, Johnson in Wisconsin. Midterm elections are traditionally about turning out your base. That's part of Obama's role. The question is, is that enough?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's going to be difficult for, I think Obama or any political surrogate to help Democrat at this point in the campaign. And election, which obviously, to put it in sports terms isn't a way game for the Democratic Party. But people are largely upset about the state of affairs. And when they are, they take that out on the party and power.

But John, I don't want to let this opportunity get away without talking about what happened overnight in San Francisco, because it does feel like we're living in a moment where there's two parallel campaigns, most Americans, understandably, are focused on gas prices, on inflation. But the other campaign that's happening at the same time is, our democracy is facing enormous challenges right now.

A lot of this happens online. People don't really think it's that big of a deal. What happened overnight, is important in this country, because what's been taking place largely online, moved offline into real life. There was an attempted assassination of the Speaker of the House apparently last night. You saw earlier, somebody got arrested outside Brett Kavanaugh's house.

Both of those things, I think are hugely important that are happening in this country, because all of these threats that we all talk about, we all know take place have been largely emails, phone calls, letters, it's now moving closer to these people. Brett Kavanaugh, Nancy Pelosi, that is deeply troubling. I totally understand where folks are politically right now, voting their pocketbooks. But there's two important campaigns happening right now in this country, I think.

KING: Well, I want to be careful until we hear from the police chief directly. But Jamie Gangel's reporting does suggest this is a targeted at the Speaker of the House. Beyond that, we'll get key details, but you make a key point about voters out there. At this time when exhausted from the COVID pandemic, dealing with the lack of inflation right now in the stress on their family budgets.

You have Obama saying, we should be talking more about democracy. You have people saying hey, wait a minute, why is our society become so coarse where you have these threats on. Republicans Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed by a Republican, Democratic governor of Michigan and the like. The question is, how are voters being inundated with all this? What do they decide? I'm going to vote on this. I'm going to choose from this, you know, mix of issues.

NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, INSIDE ELECTIONS: So, the people who haven't decided yet, it's probably going to be how do they feel the moment they cast their ballot. If they had deep ideological positions, they would have already decided by now because the choices are clear. In terms of Obama and Biden, people hitting the trail.


If Democrats can keep the Democratic base in energized and enthused postdocs, get them out to vote that doesn't mean they're going to hold Congress, but it will stem some of the losses because if the Democratic Party is depressed, Republican voters are energized, undecideds flipped toward, you know, against the president. That's when we start to get big numbers in the House in the Senate for Republicans.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. And I do think there's other factors here too, right? I mean, if the top of the ticket, if you have a gubernatorial race, where the governor is doing - the Republicans doing very well, and the Senate candidate might not be so well. You might see people pulled across the line, perhaps somewhere like Georgia, or in Michigan, where you have Gretchen Whitmer, she's ahead.

And you have abortion actually on the ballot. There is actually a ballot initiative, if there's a Democratic talking point, but there it is actually true, that Democrats are hoping are going to pull people. And so, there are also these very state-based factors that are also influencing these very close Senate ticket.

RAJU: I don't think there's any question to that, this is shifting away from the Democrats in recent days and weeks, real nervousness among Democrats. Not just losing the House but seeing a big Republican wave. You see those decisions about how to spend money to try to stem that way.

And then Chuck Schumer's comments yesterday were very revealing and talking about Georgia, and that race going against them at this moment and talking to Democrats. They say the same thing. They see there is a true tossup. That is not the way they felt a few weeks ago.

KING: He gets briefed on the tracking polls every day. The question is, you know, that can change. That's a couple hundred people you call in a night, sometimes a couple of days later changes, but it's a key point to watch as we go through this.

MARTIN: It just real fast, if you add what happened in 2020, the GOP won 13 seats in the House who already gained seats and they add 20 more this time around, that could be significant. If it's harder for Democrats, John, to take back the House in '24.

KING: We're going to come back to that question in just a minute. A vulnerable state Democrat shares his take on the battle of control the House, his New Jersey district is among a dozen or so, in the east that will yes, give us some first election night clues.




KING: This map shows you the current balance of power in the House right now. It may take days after election day to get the final numbers on the post midterm balance of power in the House of Representatives. But we will get some early clues when polls close and results start coming in along the east coast. What I mean by that?

Well, let's just take a look. We work with Inside Elections, our partner, on these competitive seats. There are 78 competitive House races across the country, 53 held by Democrats now, 22 held by Republicans, three new seats created because of the post census redistricting. You see some out on the West Coast. Yes, those are the ones that could take days to count the final votes there. But we will get early clues on election night.

If you look over here at these races in the east, there are three competitive House races in the state of Virginia, for example. Democratic incumbents on the ballot, the polls closed early in the east. You move up to Pennsylvania, three Democratic incumbents again on their heels a little bit in this tough midterm their year. Pull out and look further. A seat in Maine, two seats in New Hampshire, one in Rhode Island and in New Jersey. Another key race right here.

If you go back two years ago, this is how it went for Tom Malinowski. A Democrat reelected just barely in a presidential year. Look at the district. Now we come fast forward to 2022. The lines have been redrawn some, same opponent, a tougher district, a tougher year. Democrat Tom Malinowski telling our Manu Raju, watch my district, it will tell you everything.


REP. TOM MALINOWSKI, (D) NEW JERSEY: I don't think the Democrats can hold on to the House without this district. I think this is a bellwether for the country. It's not just a contest between myself and my opponent who nobody sees. It's about the direction that the country needs to head in for the next two years.


KING: Our great reporters are back with us. He makes the very same point. Susan Wild makes it in Pennsylvania seven, Matt Cartwright makes in Pennsylvania eight, essentially the polls are going to close. We're going to learn a lot. But we won't know that final number maybe for several days, but we'll learn a lot from that district and others like.

RAJU: Yes. Because of that district includes parts of suburban New York, it goes into some rural areas. As Malinowski told me it is, he's called to the median district in the country because it has roughly about the same amount of voters from different political persuasions, which makes it such a difficult district to hold.

He was part of that majority making class in 2018. That took the majority. That same majority making class could get wiped away by this red way. He has faced additional issues as well that his district changed because of redistricting is become more Republican, it still leans democratic. But he only beat his Republican challenger by a single point in a better environment two years ago.

So, in a worse environment, can he hold on? And the interesting thing is the Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr. is doing virtually, no public campaigning, not telling the press where he is. Because he is writing the national environment, almost exclusively, expecting paid media and the natural environment could be enough to flip the seat. You see, he may be right.

MARTIN: That's one of the recurring themes that we're seeing in this campaign is candidates are just not taking any risks at all. When it comes to talking to the press, I think it's very unfortunate for the voters. One of these themes we're watching so closely in the House, John, is that class of 2018, that Manu mentioned, he created so many Democratic stars, especially veterans and women, a deep, deep risk in this midterm election.

In fact, I think you can see a lot of them sort of wiped out. There is a certain symmetry there. They were largely elected in the backlash to President Donald Trump. And if they lose, it'll be largely in the backlash to President Joe Biden. And inflation, it's a reminder that these House races especially are basically parliamentary. People are voting for the name on the front of the jersey, R or D, more than they are in the back of the jersey. And the people who pay the price typically are folks like moderates for more centrist districts.


KING: You watch it a midterm election. A, will it break? If it breaks late, will it'll break one way. You write that. Right now, you do see some sort of regional geographical or candidate strength disparities. The New York Times says polling, New York Times/Siena polling today, looking at some of these key House districts. And I just mentioned one in Pennsylvania, Matt Cartwright Democratic incumbent.

At the moment, with a not comfortable, but at least a decent lead there over his Republican challenger. You say, how's he doing that? Then you look in Kansas, a much bigger lead here for Sharice Davids over her opponent. Kansas is one of the states that has been engaged since the Dobbs decision because abortion was literally on the ballot in a special election during the primary season. Is that what's this? We have to go state by state to figure out what's driving people locally.

GONZALES: In part, I think there are some Democratic incumbent, Sharice Davids, Jared Golden in Maine, Elissa Slotkin in Michigan, who have been able to stem back the tide so far, and Democrats have had more problems with open seats. And then you layer in additional complications in New York, Oregon and California, where the either the sitting governors are struggling, or Kate Brown, the outgoing governor of Oregon. She's incredibly unpopular, and that's allowing Republicans have opportunities that we haven't seen them have opportunities in decade or more.

KING: And I want you to listen, Jackie, a little bit more Malinowski because there's been this big debate among Democrats and it spills out publicly, should we be talking mostly about abortion? Should we talk more about the economy? You know, what should the issue mix be? Listen to Malinowski, who says, I get it, the economy is important, but?


MALINOWSKI: Our focus here has always been on both a woman's right to choose and the economy. These things are not in conflict. My opponent, the Republicans I'm running against, have no plan to deal with inflation, but they have a very specific plan to pass a national abortion ban.


KING: Again, it's one district (audio blip) Democrats thread the needle in these Republican suburban like districts?

KUCINICH: Particularly, because nationally we have seen the abortion issue kind of fall off in terms of pushing enthusiasm that we saw in the summertime. But it really will come down to the district, to district these little issues that are pushing. I mean, the Republicans are spending money on is crime. That is an issue. They have been pushing. They're doing it.

In Sean Patrick Maloney' district, you mentioned New York. I mean, the Democrats are having to spend money in that district. Joe Biden is going to that district that just shows you how that exactly, how Republicans are causing them to be on defense and spend money where they didn't want to and not spend and not be able to spend all of the money on places like Malinowski, like Abigail Spanberger, like who's in Virginia, like these moderate districts that they've been pouring money into for a while, who they need to protect to keep the majority.

KING: Shifting money tells you a lot in the final 10 days or so. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, San Francisco police are about to give an update on the attack on the husband of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in their San Francisco home.