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Inside Politics

Paul Pelosi Attack Prompts Fears of Escalating Political Violence; Obama Holds Weekend Rallies in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin; How Big Will the Red Wave Be?; Chuck Schumer Caught on Hot Mic; Elon Musk Takes Control of Twitter. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 30, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): An attack on democracy.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every person of good conscience needs to clearly and unambiguously stand up against the violence in our politics.

PHILLIP: How did the nation get here? And can we step back from the break?

Plus, the final push to Election Day.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We're not just going to see a red wave. We're going to see a red tsunami.

PHILLIP: But can the right messenger help the Democrats avoid a midterm blowout?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: And if enough of us make our voices heard, things will be better. We'll restore our democracy. Let's get to work.

PHILLIP: And the world's richest man buys Twitter, promising a new era of free speech. Will he let Donald Trump back on the platform?

INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


PHILLIP (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Philip.

Two weeks before the midterm elections, we were once again faced with an active horrific political violence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul was brutally attacked by a man wielding a hammer in their San Francisco home early Friday morning, the attacker was looking for Nancy Pelosi. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: This was not a random act. This was intentional. And it's wrong our elected officials are here to do the business of their cities, their counties, their states, and this nation. Their families don't sign up for this to be home and it is wrong.


PHILLIP: In the first statement on the incident last night Pelosi said their children and grandchildren are traumatized by the attack. But populace his condition continues to improve.

Now the suspect is a 42-year-old with a trail of troubling social media posts. False claims that the 2020 election was stolen, QAnon and COVID-19 conspiracies and vile antisemitic screeds. And for us now, there are some hard questions about the safety of our elected officials and their families, and deeper question still about why some of our political leaders aren't willing to push back on these kinds of toxic lies.

Yes, Pelosi has been a political punching bag for Republicans and yes, political violence has been perpetrated by disturbed people on the left and the right. But what makes this brutal crime different is this: the attacker was apparently steeped in lies and conspiracies, lies the lead to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th and fringe views that are not only condoned but encouraged by the most powerful figures in Republican politics.

So we begin this morning to have going to be difficult questions what the best reporters and analysts turn book through the. CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin, Heidi Przybyla of "Politico", Ramesh Ponnuru of "The National Review", and CNN's own Evan Perez.

So, Evan, I want to start with you because this man -- we don't know exactly what motivated him to commit this particular crime. But it was clearly politically motivated and he fits this profile of the type of person that it seems like the federal officials are concerned about. Self radicalized, deranged, but willing and able to commit actual violence.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right and the scariest thing for the Capitol police and the FBI, they keep an eye on people who are making threats. But people like this who are sort of in the background not really showing up on any radar and not making any direct threats that would've gotten the attention, then suddenly something like this happens.

According to the police he showed up at the home and broke in. And it appears that people see at some point was able to call 911. And the dispatcher could hear some of the interaction and knows enough to send police to the location. That is what is appearing to have saved his life. But if it were not for that, I mean, we would be talking about a much more horrible outcome. PHILLIP: I mean, at some point, our luck is going to run out and the

question is as a country, are we in this downward spiral of -- I mean, it's not just rhetoric, it's also an environment in which the national climate is in some ways on the right detached from reality. And that's trickling down to people's lives.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's moving to this offline toxic -- I mean, rather, this online toxic swamp that people like this wallow in and get radicalized in, and frankly find purpose in to sadly the real world.


And that's what is so alarming about this. I think all of us know about what's happening online. We read about the security threats. Members of Congress have, that they're receiving over the phone, over email.

But this is taking it now to a much different level. And I think that is what is so alarming.

And, Abby, it only takes a few people. You know, the vast majority can sort of live in their online fantasy world, but when a few people like this are going to take it offline, it creates a whole different dynamic here. I think this is going to be a watershed moment for a lot of members of Congress and their families and they're going to ask themselves, why am I still doing this?

PHILLIP: Look, I mean, watershed moment perhaps for members of Congress and their families who are scared. But what about the Republican Party? I mean, is it -- it doesn't seem look a watershed moment frankly for Republicans.

RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: No, I don't -- I think you're right about that. I think Republicans are going to see things like President Biden's statement yesterday as an attempt to exploit this horrible incident and they're asking themselves, why is there a double standard?

Why is it we don't have a national conversation about left-wing rhetoric when Steve Scalise is shot, when someone tries to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh and it is only when these things happen to people on the left where you have some kind of right-coded political violence that you have this attempt to link it to political rhetoric?

PHILLIP: Well, let's play real quick what Biden said, what Ramesh is talking about.


BIDEN: What makes us think one party can talk about stolen elections, COVID being a hoax, this is all a bunch of lies and not affect people who may not be so well-balanced? Enough is enough is enough. Every person of good conscience needs to clearly and unambiguously stand up against the violence in our politics, regardless what your politics are. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, POLITICO INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I think the distinction here, Ramesh, is the rhetoric of the leaders. You can't control what's happening online to Jonathan's point, where Pelosi has been featured by extremist groups with horns and surrounded by the flames of hell, but you can control what the candidates are doing. And she has been featured similarly in Republican attack ads like that, $40 million in this cycle, no other candidate other than President Biden who has been featured in that light.

You have a sitting member of Congress who aligns with conspiracy theories, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who liked social media posts about executing Democrats. While you can't control what is happening online with the fringe, it does come down to how the leaders are handling it and president --

PONNURU: Mainstream Democrats spread wild charges of Justice Kavanaugh as a gang rapist, you know? I mean, like, there are -- there is irresponsible rhetoric, we had mainstream Democrats calling themselves the resistance. What do they think the historical analogy that they were --


PHILLIP: I think there is a distinction though between Democrats saying we need an investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh and what is happening right now on the right, which is that you got the self-proclaimed leader of the Republican Party in Donald Trump saying the election was stolen and if we don't take our country back, we're not going to have a country anymore.

PRZYBYLA: If you go to the FBI and Evan can speak to this, that the right wing is where the domestic terrorism threat is coming from. And, again, we're not talking about members of Congress, but we're talking about what is happening online with the individuals who are being radicalized and now, it is metastasizing where you have in Arizona now vigilantes armed standing outside ballot boxes, because they still believe in this conspiracy theory that the election is stolen, election workers are at threat.

PEREZ: Right. And I think you're right. I think the idea that, you know, it is -- look, I understand both sides kind of argument, because obviously somebody on the left did shoot Scalise at a baseball practice. But what is happening is right now certainly if the FBI and why they're warning about potential problems around the midterms is because of the stuff related to the 2020 election, that is driving a lot of people to believe that this election is about to be stolen.

And there is nothing to indicate there is anything wrong with our systems right now, that it is, you know, one of the safest election systems in the world. And yet people have this -- it is just driving this idea that, you know, again, everything from COVID to babies' blood being -- things like that are just driving a lot of people.

PHILLIP: It would be bad enough if it were just the election conspiracies.


But I want to show you a sampling of what's been happening on Trump's platform, on Truth Social. These are examples of some of the posts he's been putting on. I mean, you've got the election conspiracies. There is one on the screen there that you can sort of see, at the bottom.

It is a retweet of a post and on that post it says, WWG1WGA. Where we go 1, we go all.

That is a QAnon conspiracy. It would be one thing if it was just the election stuff, but it is this unhinged conspiracy theory that Democrats are drinking the blood of babies or whatever.

PEREZ: Those people, by the way, are prominent at Trump rallies. They're, like, up front.

PHILLIP: That's, I think, to me, that's what makes this a little bit of a different situation.

I don't know. Ramesh, maybe you disagree that Trump retweeting QAnon conspiracies is worth calling out, but it seems like no one is calling that out.

PONNURU: I think it is absolutely worth condemning.

What I'm saying is the specific political violence when there is not this kind of national conversation, when there is an attack on Republicans, it makes it get discounted by Republican voters. That's why you're not seeing the kind of introspection about some of the extremist rhetoric you would like to see.

MARTIN: Well, I think you're also not seeing it because there is also a larger silence from GOP leaders about a lot of stuff these days that they just as soon not engage with and not frankly condemn because they don't want to risk backlash from their voters, especially this close to an election.

I think there is a chilling effect, Ramesh, that Trump has created with a lot of Republican lawmakers when it comes to speaking out against moments or events or comments that historically they would have denounced.

Now, I can tell you what privately a lot of those would say. It doesn't get me anything to denounce those kinds of comments, my base is going to hate it, and I'm still going to get jammed by the left so why should I bother doing it? That's what they'll say.

It doesn't change the fact that I think in the past 20, 30 years ago you would have seen a lot more Republicans speak out emphatically, not just about this, but about Trump talking about the Jews or anything else, right? It doesn't happen this day because they don't see any kind of benefit politically to them in doing it and they fear downside politically for speaking out. PHILLIP: I think there is a real downside because the base is all in

on this stuff. At least a good, you know, 30 percent of them.

But coming up next for us, sometimes in politics the messenger matters just as much as the message. One of the Dems' strongest messengers was out on the trail this weekend.


OBAMA: A video came out of Governor Whitmer's opponent claiming that Democrats have been working four decades to topple the United States because they're still up upset about losing the civil war. And that COVID restrictions were part of some master plan to do this. Now, first of all, what?




PHILLIP: In the run-up to every midterm election, high profile surrogates fan out across the country holding big rallies and stumping for candidates. And this year is no different, except in one very important way. Take a look at this.

In October of 2010, President Obama held 16 rallies. In October of 2018, President Trump held 26 rallies. And in October of the year 2022, the year we're in now, President Biden has held zero, none.

Though he does have a few planned before the election in the coming week and a half, but it was former President Obama in the spotlight this weekend, in Georgia, in Michigan and Wisconsin selling the Democrats' message and taking Republicans to task.


OBAMA: Some of you here are on Social Security. Some of your parents are on Social Security. Some of your grandparents are on Social Security. You know why they have Social Security, they worked for it.

If Ron Johnson does not understand that, if he understands giving tax breaks for private planes more than he understands making sure that seniors who worked all their lives are able to retire with dignity and respect, he's not the person who is thinking about you and knows you and sees you and he should not be your senator for Wisconsin.


PHILLIP: All right. CNN's Harry Enten is joining us here at the table.

In -- well, to be clear, when Obama was president and he was campaigning, he wasn't always welcome on the campaign trail as most presidents are not in their midterm elections. But he is out now and in some ways it is not a terribly fair comparison because he's pretty good at that, and it shows.

MARTIN: You know who is going to notice that? Joe Biden. Look, the fact is that Obama has gifts that most politicians don't, including Joe Biden. And so he's able to go and stump for candidates in a way that Biden is not. In fairness to Biden, Obama is an ex-president and not sort of in the fight now politically and is not polarizing as the current president is.

But, that clip and I think Obama being out there in places that Biden cannot go, Georgia, Nevada, the two most obvious examples, it does say a lot about Democrats sort of where the party is today, right?

But Biden was essentially an emergency nominee in 2020, because the entire criteria of the party, who can beat Trump? And he was obviously the answer. But there was not a lot of thought given to longer term planning so they now have a near 80-year-old incumbent president and they're relying on something last on the ballot a decade ago to come in as their closer in the midterms.

It tells you a lot about where things are and --

PHILLIP: Where the bench is.

MARTIN: There is a bench there, but it is just not quite there ready to go in the game just yet because Biden is still the president.


PONNURU: And they're relying on this greatest hits campaign about Social Security, which is not, I think, a sign of great hope that the Democrats are going to do well in this midterm election.

Let's not forget that Obama, as politically talented as he undoubtedly is, when he has not been on the ballot, he has not been able to rescue other Democrats. He wasn't able to do it in 2010 or 2014. His two midterms which were disasters for his party. I don't think he'll be able to do it for Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin either.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'm not sure anybody really brings along voters. This whole idea that endorsements matter or the idea that, oh, Barack Obama's for this candidate, well then I'm for this candidate, too, I'm just not sure that really sort of, you know, works.

But what I will point out, though, is that at least Joe Biden is able to read the room, right? He reads the same poll numbers that we do, knows if he goes on the campaign trail, it is probably not going to be very helpful to the Democratic candidates. If anything, it will allow the Republican candidates to go after him.

PHILLIP: But what do you make -- what do you make, Harry, real quick, of where Obama is going? I mean, what's the objective here as far as you can tell, Georgia, Michigan --

ENTEN: I mean, look, if you look at the states where he's going to, those are the states where he's popular with African American voters, Georgia, highly African American state, Michigan, that was a state that he went easily both times around. I think there is this idea that Barack Obama can sort of get these white working class voters that Joe Biden supposedly could get but Barack Obama actually did a good job.

PHILLIP: Well, here is the flashback. Back in the day, Biden goes boldly where Obama can't is the headline that we used to talk about because Biden used to be the closer for white working class voters.

PRZYBYLA: I think we're also not talking about white working class voters. In some suburbs, yes. But if you look at where he went just within the past couple of days, you're talking Atlanta, Milwaukee, and the suburbs of Detroit.

I know for a fact being from Michigan they're very concerned the Democrats are about the minority turnout, very concerned about the youth vote turnout, they're looking at some of these early absentee ballot requests and how they compare to previous elections and they're concerned, and they know he speaks uniquely to those audiences.

Secondly, Democrats are looking to make a pivot in their closing argument to economic issues to Ramesh's point, whether it is successful, whether it is not. It worked in the past. It worked in 2006. It did work in the 2006 midterms to talk about Social Security and Medicare as the third rail issues.

And luckily for Democrats, they have Senator Rick Scott who put out this plan, which specifically talks about cutting Social Security and Medicare. So, of course, as they look to pivot to make a closing argument on the economy, they're going to say, number one, Republicans don't have an alternative on inflation, on inflation. And number two, they want to take away Social Security.

PHILLIP: And real quick, speaking of surrogates, we had an unconventional endorsement here this week from Liz Cheney endorsing Democrat Elissa Slotkin, saying there are policy disagreements, but when our nation is facing threats at home and abroad, we need serious, responsible, and substantive members like Elissa in Congress.

What do you make of that?

PONNURU: Well, she is making good, Congresswoman Cheney, on her promise. She said she was going to campaign for Democrats in races where they're up against people who deny that Biden won.

PHILLIP: Is she a good turnout for Democrats or --


PONNURU: I think -- I think it's more important for Cheney's brand than it is for Slotkin's race.

PHILLIP: All right. Well, stand by for us.

Rhode Island and Connecticut are as blue as it gets. So why do Republicans think that they can flip two House seats there? Coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: With nine days to go until Election Day, 20 million Americans have cast their ballots early. And this could be one of the highest turnout midterms ever. And Republicans, I think the odds are increasingly in their favor.

Harry is with us. He's our numbers whiz. He's going to walk us through what we're looking at here.

So, part of the problem for Democrats, Harry, is that Democrats have a lot more seats that are up for grabs this year than Republicans do, right?

ENTEN: That's exactly right. So these are the races that are rated as competitive or likely to flip by Cook Political Report, Inside Elections.

You can see 45 Democratic seats are rated as competitive, compared to 19 Republican-held seats. If you do the difference, I believe you'll get to 26. And that's a fairly important number because historically speaking the difference between this number and this number gives you a pretty good indication of where the wins are sort of going.

PHILLIP: OK, I'm going to trust your math on this one. But talk to us about what a wave looks like. When we talk about a red wave, how many seats are we talking about? It seems like if you look at this, I mean, just the districts that Biden lost is a lot of seats.

ENTEN: It is a lot of seats. So, you know, if we look -- this, of course, is -- we have done this math and this applies to the new lines, not the old lines. If you look at the districts loss by more than five, it's six. That itself would be enough. You need a net gain of five.

If you look at any of the districts that Biden lost or won, lost or controlled by Democrats, that gets us to 12. Now you're starting to get in a double digit seat gains.

But let's take a look at the districts that Biden, in fact, won. And if you see, there are nine districts Biden won by less than five, that gets you to over 20 seats. Look at this, the districts that Biden won by less than ten, that's 26 seats. You add that to the 12, you're talking about nearly a 40-seat net gain.

PHILLIP: And we're talking here about districts that we are saying are competitive. These are districts where Republicans are potentially in striking distance and that includes a lot of districts that Biden actually won by over five points.

Let's zoom in on New York, though because this is a place where I think a lot of Democrats are experiencing some heartburn as we go into this midterm season. What is happening in New York? ENTEN: Yes. So I mean look, the reason we want to zone in on New York

is if you look historically in sort of wave years you can see that although we think of New York as this, you know, dark blue state, right, in fact New York kind of gives you this idea of what is go on nationally.

So in the 2018 Democratic wave, Democrats gained three seats. In the 2010 Republican wave, Republicans gained six seats. And then 2006 Dem wave, look Democrats gained three seats.

So New York kind of gives you a pretty good indication of what might be occurring, Abby. And the thing I will note in New York is take a look at these 2020 margin seats -- seats that are sort of seen as competitive. There are five seats that are seen as competitive that are Democratic-held. And you can see, Biden won all of them.

PHILLIP: By five or more points. These are places that historically should be a little bit more safe for Democrats, but they're competitive.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And they kind of roam in the New York suburbs, right. You know, I'm from New York. You might be able to tell from my accent a little bit.


ENTEN: Yes -- go ahead.

PHILLIP: And it is not -- and it's not just New York. I just want to take a look at the northeast in general, this is part of the problem. These are all places that should be a little bit more blue, but look at how many competitive seats we're talking about.

ENTEN: Well, look at this. Three in Pennsylvania, five in New York, two in New Hampshire, one in Maine, one in Connecticut, one in Rhode island. We never ever talk about Rhode Island. And then New Jersey, one. If the Democrats lost all these seats, that would be more than enough for Republicans to take back.

PHILLIP: All right. We're talking about math here. So -- but Democrats are still hoping that the contrast with their economic plans with Republicans is what -- is what is going to help them stem their losses.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election is not a referendum. It is a choice. A choice between two vastly different visions of America.

They're coming after Social Security and Medicare. They're still determined to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

Under the Republican plan, many of the biggest corporations are going to go back to paying zero.

Give me a break, man. Who the hell do they think they are?


PHILLIP: So that's the economic message you were saying earlier you think focusing on Social Security is a sign that things are pretty bad. But it is also just in general, if you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is hard to run against the economy in a midterm year.

It doesn't really matter whether you have a plan or not, voters tend to just punish who is in charge.

PONNURU: That's right. If people are unhappy with the economy, they are going to take it out on the party in power. And there is almost nothing that the party in power can do to change that. We have seen that again and again.

Right now people are very unhappy about the economy. People are not seeing their paychecks keep up with their bills. And that is the kind of thing that makes people extremely unhappy. It is hard to get rid of -- to overcome that headline.

PHILLIP: We were just talking about in New York a second ago. But I want to zoom in another place in Nevada. This is actually coming from the "New York Times"/Siena polling that looked at another district that Biden won by, you know, eight plus points against Trump in 2020. But there the top issue -- jobs and inflation.

The voters who say social issues are their top priority, 36 percent of them overwhelmingly vote for Democrat. But here the incumbent is Democrat Dina Titus and she's running, according to the "New York Times"/Siena poll, basically in a tied race with a Republican. That is really a good encapsulation of just how tough this is turning out to be in some of these pretty blue districts for Democrats.

MARTIN: Well and two important facts about that district which is sort of wrapped around Las Vegas includes a lot of working class Las Vegas. Number one, a lot of Hispanic voters in that district who, many of whom work in the gaming industry as they call it in Nevada -- great euphemism.

They have been hit hard by COVID and economically it has been a real punch and there is a larger realignment among a lot of working class voters, especially Hispanics, that I think is sort hurting Dina Titus.

The other thing is Nevada is somewhat overshadowed by California, sorry John Ralston, but the gas prices are just as bad almost in Nevada as California. I think the average gallon of gas in California is like $6. In Nevada, it is about $5.

So you cannot -- you cannot overestimate how much of a factor, Abby, that is. $5 a gallon gas gets in the psyche of the voter and --


[08:34:47] PHILLIP: I mean it gets in their psyche but it gets really in their pocketbooks, that's really where it shows up. Just take a look at what is happening in this spending game here.

Democrats spending $151 million -- I mean far and away the top spender on ads -- on the issue of abortion.

PRZYBYLA: Well, here's the problem on that. Abortion is not going to be at risk in some of these blue states where they're now most concerned about and where Republicans see an expanded math opportunity in New York, for example. In California, Rhode Island, abortion is not going to be at risk there because it is a state level controlled by Democrats.

So the spending is out of sync there and in those places the Republicans have been investing heavily in ads, for instance, on crime. New York, focusing in on Sean Maloney having supported some bills on bail, early bail or no bail.

Those things are -- they have opened the door for Republicans to kind of hammer gas prices out in California, crime in New York, and you see that --


PRZYBYLA: -- Republicans are now investing in districts that were 10, 20 plus Biden.


PONNURU: And the polls show that people are concerned about crime more than they are about abortion.

PHILLIP: In some parts of the country, for sure. But certainly in the places that Heidi is talking about.

Stand by for us. Coming up next, Chuck Schumer gets caught on a hot mic. And he delivers a frank assessment of two of the most pivotal races in this cycle coming up.



PHILLIP: Politicians, they love microphones and apparently hot mics. This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was the latest official to have his private comments inadvertently made public. Those comments were a candid assessment of the current midterm landscape for Democrats. Listen.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It looks like the debate didn't hurt us too much in Pennsylvania. So that's good.

The state where we're going downhill is Georgia. It's hard to believe that they will go for Hershel Walker.


PHILLIP: And to be clear, journalists love a good hot mic too. Because it sometimes tells you what they won't tell you publicly.

But what is he talking about here? Why does he think that Pennsylvania is maybe a little bit of a more secure thing than what's happening in Georgia?

ENTEN: I mean he's probably looking at his internal polling, right? That probably tells a decent picture for him. But I think it sort of gets at the trends that we're looking at in this electoral cycle, right, where by Democrats seem to be underperforming with minority voters, whether they be Hispanic or African-American in the polls. We can see them on the generic congressional ballot while they're kind of holding their margins with white voters.

And we know in Pennsylvania, the Democratic base is a lot more white than it is in the state of Georgia where it is heavily black. So I think that's part of what's going on.

Also we were talking about this, you know, during the break, if you look at the top of the ticket in Georgia, who is running? It is Stacey Abrams who's well behind Brian Kemp. And if you look at the top of the ticket in Pennsylvania, who's running? It's Josh Shapiro who is well ahead of Doug Mastriano.

PHILLIP: Yes. There's not a -- not a lot of great polling that we can talk about on -- in Georgia. But if you look at the Senate race in -- or the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania, you see this wide margin. Theoretically that should help the bottom of the ticket if you're a Democrat in Pennsylvania.

PONNURU: Yes, I think there is going to be some split ticket voting in both states --


PONNURU: -- and maybe some more than we have seen recently. But it is going to -- it is a question of how much and if it is not enough, and it won't carry the Senate candidates to victory.

PHILLIP: So the issue with Pennsylvania, though, that that Schumer was alluding to was John Fetterman's debate performance and he was on the campaign trail talking to voters about it in a different way. Basically using it actually as a strength, not a weakness. Listen.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: In doing the debate, we knew it wasn't going to be easy. Certainly after five weeks -- excuse me, five months after having a stroke.

But after that stroke I got knocked down, but I had to get back up. And I'm going to fight for everybody in Pennsylvania whoever got knocked down that ever had to get back up.


MARTIN: He's trying to make the best of a very tough debate for himself there.

On the Schumer thing, let me just toss out a different observation. He's just being Chuck Schumer. He's schmoozing Joe Biden and trying to like buck (ph) up Biden about -- he doesn't have any data. The debate was the previous night in Pennsylvania. They don't have anything scientific at least about the impact of that debate on Fetterman and on the Senate race.

And on Georgia, I think he may be trying to start laying the ground work with Biden for more Biden help fund-raising because I think it is likely at this point that that Georgia Senate race could go to a runoff because in Georgia, as we know, you have to get 50 percent to win outright.

PRZYBYLA: All of these races -- Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada -- they are dead heats right now. And we really don't know what the outcome here is going to be based on any of these polls. There is all kinds of issues with the polls including that by one measure 50 percent of them for instance on Pennsylvania and Georgia were run by conservative firms that are being added into those averages.

So I think the thing to look for is who is going to turn out on election day. By some measures, young people aren't motivated. And there is a lot of concern, right in the Democratic Party about that.

However, when you look at what's happening with new voter registrations, for instance, among young females, they are way up above averages in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. Those women are likely to vote on election day.


PRZYBYLA: At the same time, are the Trump voters going to come out in droves like they did when Trump is not on the ticket? These are all things we can't answer.

PHILLIP: Yes. I think it's really hard to say from the early voting numbers, because people's voting behavior has changed.

I do want to play this ad from the Trump super PAC. He's starting to pour money into some of these races because of what Heidi is talking about. They are neck and neck. But listen to this ad. It goes after Biden and John Fetterman at the same time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden and John Fetterman aren't up to these challenges. Biden is stumbling around and Fetterman just isn't right.

BIDEN: Our economy is strong as hell.

FETTERMAN: The Eagles are so much better than the Eagles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden and Fetterman -- liberal, clueless, weak.


PHILLIP: They're going there, and perhaps that's a sign that they think, you know, they go all the way because it is worth it because the races are so close.

ENTEN: I mean maybe, I'm not sure that that works for the main -- linking them -- linking John Fetterman to Joe Biden is a good message given where Joe Biden's approval rating. I don't know if going after John Fetterman in that particular fashion --

PHILLIP: And seemingly mocking him.

ENTEN: Yes. I don't think that that works. I think, you know, Mehmet Oz is certainly close in the polls, whether he's slightly ahead or slightly behind, I'm not sure we know.

But the message that's worked for him is the economy and crime. Just like it's worked in every other race. The issues at this particular point in the cycle, what voters deem as the most important issues, are on the Republican side.

The question is can it overcome Mehmet Oz's deep unfavorability in the state of Pennsylvania?

In Georgia, you have the same thing with Herschel Walker. Deeply unpopular candidate.

MARTIN: Just a fast PSA for people that's watching out there, don't look at the margin in these polls. If an incumbent is near or over 50, that's much more important than the margin in the poll itself.

PHILLIP: All right. We got to leave it there.

Coming up next for us, Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and he's vowing to create a content moderation council, but will former President Trump's content be moderate enough to get him back on the platform?



PHILLIP: In his four years as president, Donald Trump sent more than 25,000 tweets and these were two of his last.

"Big protests in D.C. on January 6th, be there. Will be wild," he wrote in mid December 2020.

And hours after the deadly insurrection he wrote this, "These are the things and the events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away." But it's tweets like that and the prospect of real violence incited by Trump that prompted Twitter to permanently suspend his account two days later.

But with billionaire Elon Musk now in charge, that suspension could soon be lifted. The question now for all of us is what if the threat incitement from Trump significant enough that it will keep him off the platform.

I mean it seems almost as if Elon Musk wanted to buy Twitter in large part was driven by a desire to reverse some of these calls.

PRZYBYLA: Elon Musk himself said it was a mistake to take Trump off Twitter. He's talking about borderline, in his own word, infractions. Now highlighting those last comments that Trump made, do you consider that incitement, do you consider that absolutely false that the election was stolen. We now know that to be true.

But again Musk said that that was a mistake. Trump has said I don't need to be back on it. I'm on Truth Social.

But when you're talking about 4 million followers versus 88 million followers that he had on Twitter, there's a very real chance that he could be making his return pretty soon.

PHILLIP: In some ways it's almost like, you know, Trump's lack of resonance on Truth Social has been the most beneficial thing for Republicans who want to just ignore the things that he says.

ENTEN: I think that's right. You know, obviously, you know, if you were to basically track out when Trump is in the news and compare that to how Republicans are doing on the generic ballot, you see an inverse relationship, right? The more Trump is in the news, the worse Republicans do.

But the other thing and I'll just note, right, is that most Americans are not on Twitter, only about a fifth of Americans are on Twitter. And even less than that actually receive their news through Twitter. What really happens is he sends out a tweet, reporters see the tweet and then, you know, we kind blow it up in any method that we kind of do it.

So I think the question is --

PONNURU: And then the reporters ask other Republicans what do you think of that?

ENTEN: What do you think of that.

PONNURU: Do you have a response? Nobody does that when it comes to a Truth Social post.

ENTEN: I think that's right. So I think it's going to be, how do we sort of deal with this new echo chamber if in fact Trump is back allowed on Twitter. PHILLIP: And of course, I mean conservatives on social media

celebrating Elon Musk purchasing Twitter. You've got Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley -- all of them talking about free speech. But is that really what is the consequence of Elon Musk buying Twitter at this point?

PONNURU: Well, I do think that there is going to be more tolerance that has come naturally to the employees of Twitter for some conservative points of view in particular, some abrasive ones sometimes.

PHILLIP: And when you say abrasive, are you talking about what?

PONNURU: Well, for example, the Babylon Bee (ph) a Christian satirical site, was expressing its opposition to transgenderism in a very pointed way and they were suspended.

And that's one of the things that Elon Musk specifically cited as his reason for taking over the site.

PHILLIP: So this is raising I think the important question. Elon Musk wrote an open letter to his advertisers. He says, "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said and there are no consequences. In addition to adhering to the laws of the land our platform must be warm and welcoming to all."

And so I do think it raises the question at what point is your political opposition to trans rights becoming, you know, anti-trans rhetoric? At what point does it become racism? At what point does it become anti-Semitism? I mean is that going to be on the platform?

MARTIN: And therein lies the challenge.


PHILLIP: Is that going to be on the platform? I don't know. I think this is the question.

MARTIN: I was personally tickled at the immediate celebration about Musk's takeover of Twitter on the right only to be met with the oldest one in the book, Ramesh.


MARTIN: Elon Musk says he was not going to decide about content moderation, he was going to create, yes, a blue ribbon commission that was going to do the important work.


PHILLIP: He made a committee to decide --


MARTIN: A council -- I mean he's going to get like Lee Hamilton and Chuck Robb out there, you know, Jim Baker, Ramesh, you know, (INAUDIBLE) to figure out what goes on Twitter and what doesn't?

For a revolutionary that's a pretty conventional approach of saying I'm going to create this panel to oversee all of Twitter. So much for the radical free speech movement, Ramesh.

PHILLIP: I think it raises a lot of questions about whether this is going to look like what conservatives think it's going to look like.

But that is it for us on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY.

Coming up next on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests this morning include Republican Senator Rick Scott and Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley.

And don't forget, you can join CNN for a special coverage of election night in America, November 8th starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. I will be there. I hope you will be, too.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us and have a great rest of your day.