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Inside Politics

KFile: MI GOP Gov. Candidate Pushed Conspiracy Claiming Democrats Sought To "Topple' U.S., Enslave Americans; POLITICO: Eastman Urging Poll Watchers To File Complaints; Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff Speaks About Jewish Faith. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 28, 2022 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: See live pictures there. This is San Francisco California, the home of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We are waiting a police update, the chief of police in San Francisco due to brief any moment on a violent attack overnight there, an assault, physical assault with a hammer on Paul Pelosi, the Speaker's husband as we await the new details.

Let's move back now to a new CNN K-file investigation. Michigan's Republican nominee for governor once pushed a conspiracy theory. The Democrats wanted to enslave Americans because they never got over the Civil War. Follow along, Tudor Dixon, who was running to unseat the incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer claimed Democrats were taking advantage of the COVID pandemic, taking advantage of the unrest in the country after the George Floyd killing because they want to, quote, topple the United States.


TUDOR DIXON (R-MI), GOVERNOR NOMINEE: The country today is divided. And this was the plan. It's been in the works for years. Why wouldn't that come from the party that lost the Civil War, the party that wanted to own people because they viewed them as less than human. Do you think that the Democrats are over losing to the north? They watched the country rip itself apart because they were getting it all back to slaves again, and they will gladly own you all.


KING: Our reporters back here on the table to help me discuss and I need to help in the sense that you listen to that. So the Democrats are still mad that the North won the Civil War. And they've had this decades you would say century long plan, I guess if you listen to Tudor Dixon, to re-enslave people, and they take advantage of the unrest of the COVID pandemic, the anxiety after the killing of George Floyd? Can somebody help me?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note something called a realignment in American politics, which is a whole different story about the two parties and how that's changed over the centuries. Putting that aside for a minute --

KING: The facts, putting the facts and history aside. Yes.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And let me just say, this was from her show. She had a show --


MARTIN: -- Republican Party because it's in the grip of the former president, and because it's been transformed by his approach to American politics. And a lot of these states, they're not nominating state senators. They're not nominating traditional down ballot figures who came up in the Reagan and Bush party. They've turned to a combination of, you know, businessman outsiders and media type figures influencers if you will as the kids say these days, who don't have an appreciation for what their words mean, because they've never served in the statehouse, they've never dealt with a traditional press core. They don't realize that when you say inflammatory things like that, that can bite you in future campaigns.



MARTIN: And it didn't hurt him at all, right. And also, they're all very online to inflow to these conspiracies.

KUCINICH: In this is our, Sam Brody have went through some of the clips of this particular show on real America's voice a couple of weeks ago, and I would encourage reading that story on the But it really is the Tudor Dixon continues to and enter your current iteration as candidate continues to put messages out there that really are, you know, for solidifying and exciting the conservative base, and really not much else.

MARTIN: It's forever a primary.

KUCINICH: Exactly, forever primary.

KING: And our K-file team reached out to Tudor Dixon's campaign to see if they would comment and she could have said I disavow that it's something I said, doing something else for entertainment purposes, or I've learned better whatever. Instead they said CNN was trying to help Gretchen Whitmer. We're not taking sides pro-Gretchen Whitmer, we are uncovering your own words of the candidate out there. It's just, I'm just having a hard time with how somebody in this day and age can they really believe that the Democrats were using the COVID pandemic in the violence after George Floyd, so the country becomes so divided so they could get power and re-enslave people.

NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, INSIDE ELECTIONS: Yes, well, I'm not going to come close, it's hard to explain it. But I think what will be interesting after this election, when some candidates are going to lose that are on that wing of the party, Doug Mastriano, in Pennsylvania. So then the question is, what are the lessons that those candidates learn or that wing of the party, is it, oh, maybe I shouldn't go down these roads because that could prevent us from getting into office and getting into power? Or is it just double down? And keep saying that, you know, it's a conspiracy against me or conspiracy against, you know, what we believe? I don't know.

RAJU: It's a larger debate within the party, right? Where is it that we move in the direction of Donald Trump, we move in the more establishment lane in the party, and as we head strictly into the presidential election, we'll see where the candidates decide to go where they tried to emulate Trump where they tried to bring the party back.

KUCINICH: But the lesson could be I mean, one of the most powerful people in the Republican Party right now is Tucker Carlson. He's not an elected official. He's a media person. So maybe that will be her lesson, we'll have to wait and see because all the incentives are completely scrambled.

MARTIN: And Tudor Dixon could very well be a media personality again this time next year, which sort of, I think, explains why she's not that interested, perhaps in chasing media and voters instead staying. But I think when this points important here, John, that is, about all these candidates over learn the lessons of Donald Trump, who's a singular figure in American politics, which is you'd never have to leave the primary, you can forever live in our primary type environment, and they never pivot to the general election because they didn't see Trump do it.

KING: Well, if you just look at our most recent poll out there 52 percent for Gretchen Whitmer, 46 percent for Tudor Dixon. That's Whitmer ahead but that's still a competitive race, which tells you a lot about tribalization and polarization in American politics. I'll leave it at that for now.


Up next, the lawyers are not waiting until Election Day to challenge voting lawsuits, aggressive poll watching and, yes, even new efforts by the people who tried to help Donald Trump steal the last election.


KING: Some encouraging political news. More than 17 million Americans have already cast their ballots across 46 states. But that doesn't mean all those ballots are being counted yet. In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example, election officials cannot start processing mail-in ballots until the polls open on November 8th. Another critical state Michigan, that process begins at most just two days before Election Day.

And like in 2020 even more so it could be a day or two longer before we know who the winners are. Also, just like the last election, we're already seeing legal challenges to how ballots are cast and how they are counted. With me now one of the country's premier experts about legal challenges to elections, the Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg, although you say you're retired, I'd say take that with a little bit of a grain of salt.

So early ballots are being cast, the numbers are setting records, which is a good thing. Participation in democracy is a good thing, Democrat, Republican, Independent. What is your biggest concern about the actual count when you have this very contested, contentious and in some states ugly environment?

BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: So I think the -- we really need to watch out for John is what happens in polling places on Election Day as people cast their ballots. I've heard a lot about poll watchers, poll watchers that are inherent good part of the process. But there are also reports and some state laws have permitted the weaponizing of poll workers and poll watchers, and he can't have delays in the polling places. Everyone gets the right to cast his or her vote their valid voter and that's what I think we need to watch out for this year.

KING: One of the things you talked about is this has become part of the Republican strategy, claiming elections are rigged claiming there are people out there cheating the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee tweeting this on Thursday. Turns out Clark County which is Nevada is hiring far more Democrats than Republicans to manage mail-in ballots signature verification, that's illegal. We're going back to court and we won't stop until we're confident that silver state's elections are free, fair, and transparent. Is that a legal challenge or is that a political tool to motivate people?

GINSBERG: I think it's more a political tool to motivate people. If there are indeed hiring more Democrats and not hiring Republicans who are applying, that is a problem. They should be able to get corrective action of that. But the whole get out the vote system of both parties is now tied to the debate over whether there's fraud or whether they're suppression. And so it's really tough to kind of take a breath and not rile up people on sort of false issues.


KING: As we wait to 11 days we start counting votes, some of the characters from the last campaign are still out there. The Trump lawyer John Eastman, who was part of trying to help Donald Trump steal an election, there's no other way to put it. In POLITICO, quote, in POLITICO today, talking at a New Mexico event saying document what you've seen raised the challenge note which of the judges that election board decline to accept your challenge. Get it all written down.

If you were out there in a state advising a campaign or a political party, would you listen to John Eastman and Cleta Mitchell at this point after what we went through?

GINSBERG: Well, I'm not sure I do that. But what I would do is to tell all the people I had in polling places to document any problems that they see. I mean, the quickest way to dissuade the people that elections are fraudulent is to allow Republicans to put poll watchers in the polling place and see what evidence they produced. They can't disrupt the process but allow as many witnesses as anybody wants within the confines of the state law, to look at the process. I'm confident from working with election administrators, that the safeguards in the system prohibit really stopped the types of fraud that the allegations from my fellow Republicans are about, so let them have witnesses in the polling place.

KING: We watched the violent attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of the former president who are trying to disrupt the certification of the last election. The -- what normally is a ceremonial acceptance of the Electoral College count, they were finally went through. Joe Biden was inaugurated after this election. Do you see the possibility? If it is a close margin for the Senate or for the House, the Senate in the House have to decide they decide whether to seek their own members? Do you think this fight will go from the ballot locations across America back to the United States Capitol and having elections contested by the by senators or by House members?

GINSBERG: Well, certainly the people who were doing the equivalent in a presidential year will be present for the certification and seating of members in Congress. So I think that is a another question to watch around January 3rd, when that process will take place.

KING: Stay in the neighborhood. We're going to need your advice and your help as we go through the next 11 days. And then I -- what I suspect will be days and weeks of contentious issues after that. Ben Ginsburg, thank you so much.

Up next for us, he's making history. The Vice President's husband, Doug Emhoff, talks to CNN's Dana Bash about being America's first, second gentlemen.



KING: Take a look now at a life in the White House. A new CNN special gets deeply personal with the first ever second gentleman of the United States, Doug Emhoff talking to CNN's Dana Bash, about navigating his historic role and his faith at a time when we are seeing sadly across America and the world a rise in anti-Semitism.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Have you been a victim of anti-Semitism?

DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN OF THE UNITED STATES: It's interesting. I've -- I have been around it when people don't realize I'm Jewish. And a lot of times in the business, in my business career, I'll be in a room and people are having their drinks and talking and someone will make a anti-Semitic remark not realizing that I'm Jewish.

BASH: And what do you do? EMHOFF: And sometimes I would say something, you know, sometimes I should have and I didn't depending on the circumstance, and I look back now, and I'm mad still and I wish I -- there's a few moments that I wish I would have said something. But you're young, you're in the business world and you just don't know how to react. And, you know, that's why I'm always going to speak out and live the way I'm living right now.


KING: CNN's Dana Bash is with us. It has a unique role. The first second gentleman, a lot of what he does is fun. A lot of he does his campaign related but on that particular issue, he understands he has a platform and a spotlight and he wants to use it.

BASH: Absolutely. He says, look, I'm not the most observant religious guy in the world. But this is a really, really big deal. We were standing at the door there to the Naval Observatory, because it's the first time there is what's called a mezuzah, on the doorposts of the Naval Observatory, which is a commandment that Jews put the word of God on their door. So he wanted to make a point to have it there. And it was a big ceremony. They had a rabbi come from Atlanta, because the specific mezuzah comes from a temple in Atlanta where Martin Luther King preached.

So that is important to him. We spoke before the Kanye West anti- Semitic rants and the anti-Semitism that that sparked. He has since put out a statement after that banner was unfurled on the 405 saying there's no place for hate. So he's going to continue to try to use that platform as the only Jewish person ever be in that role.

KING: It's a tough turn. But tell us more about just how he views this unique role. He's a guy in a role that has traditionally been by women and he's a trailblazer.

BASH: He's loving it. I mean, that's just the bottom line, he's clearly loving it. He gave up a very high-powered job in Los Angeles and attorney, entertainment lawyer, and he did so to come and support his wife and he's very candid about the fact that not all men feel comfortable in that supportive role. And he's trying to be a role model for men in that situation.

KING: Right. You can see much more of that interview and the context new episode of Being: The Second Gentleman watch it Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here only on CNN.


Any moment now San Francisco Police will provide an update on the horrific attack apparently targeting the Speaker of the House at her San Francisco home. We'll bring that to you live in just a minute. Thanks for your time today. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage including that briefing after this quick break.