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Inside Politics

Biden's Midterm Warning: "Democracy Is At Risk"; Election Deniers Are On The Ballot Across The Country; Ryan: Trump Voters Siding With Me Because Of "Pocketbook Issues"; Tonight: Trump Rallies In Iowa To Boost Sen Grassley; CNN: DeSantis Eyeing Trip To Iowa After Midterms; Warnock, Walker Locked In Close Race For GA Senate Seat; Top Dem presses Capitol Police On Security After Pelosi Attack; Violent Threats Against Lawmakers On The Rise. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 03, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Joe Biden mourns democracy is in mortal danger. Just five days out from the midterms with ballots packed. With Republican election deniers, the president paints your vote as an inflection point for the American experiment.


JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: You must in this moment, dig deep within ourselves and recognize that we can't take democracy for granted any longer.


KING: Plus, the midterm app offers no safe zones for Democrats. Solid blue territory in California, Nevada, Oregon. Washington state now looks well, not so solid. And our lawmakers safe. A congresswoman demands answers from the Capitol police on hard question. Why didn't the force prevent the attack on Paul Pelosi? And our Capitol police capable of stopping future attacks on members of Congress?

Up first for us, though, President Biden making democracy the centerpiece now of his midterm closing argument. We are just five days out from election night. Already 30 million votes cast across 46 states. This sadly, this part of it is the United States 2022, which means those ballots include election deniers running for governor, running for Senate, running for secretary of state, attorney general judge and much, much, more.

The president last night says, every candidate from those who reject the last election to those who won't commit to accepting the results of this election, a threat.


PRES. BIDEN: Their candidates running for every level of office in America for governor, Congress, attorney general, secretary of state, who won't commit, they will not commit to accepting the results of election that they're running in. This a path to chaos in America. It's unprecedented. It's unlawful. And it's un-American.


KING: With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Seung Min Kim of the Associated Press, Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The New York Times, Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post. Factcheck true. If you listen to what the president just said there, we'll go through some of the candidates in the ballots down question. There is no question.

There are Republicans running at every level across the country who either still say, Donald Trump won last time, or say, maybe I won't accept the results this time or want to change the rules or allow legislatures to change the will of the voters. And yet, there's some criticism of the president giving that speech last night, so mumbling within his own party. Why?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think right now, what Democrats really want to focus on is telling voters that on the economy and inflation, which is the number one issue for voters that Democrats are the party with a plan. And if that focus veers in any other direction, it could be perceived as a distraction.

But I do think for the president, for the White House, especially for the president himself, this isn't necessarily a political issue. I mean, obviously, he's warning about the politics here. But for him, it's an existential issue. This is a speech that he's wanted to give for some time, sort of a book ed to his remarks in Philadelphia in September.

And I think some recent events obviously, propelled this speech and put it on the schedule very quickly. And I think one thing that's worth pointing out, too related to what you just said, is a statistic that the president gave last night that more than 300 election deniers are on the ballot up and down the ballot. And that's something that really voters should be aware of heading into next Tuesday.

KING: Right. And so, you're dead, right? If we ask that we released our brand-new poll yesterday, look at the most important issue facing the country, a majority of likely voters, say it's the economy inflation, and that's no surprise given the punishing last few months American families have gone through. Voting in elections is at 9 percent, running in a distant third.

But is this the idea that OK, Democrats think we should be talking just about economy inflation? Or is this one oh, I call it silly Washington conversations? Where people watching sometimes think we can only do one thing at a time, asking American family, you know, two and a half years into COVID, months into the inflation problem, dealing with schools and everything else. They do every day multi process, why can't this town?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Voters can care about multiple issues at the same time, even while polls do indicate that some of the issues that overshadow others are the economy and rising crime. As Seung Min was saying just now, for the president and the White House and many Americans across the country, there's still this concern about the threat to democracy on multiple fronts, whether it be activists that are watching over lines.

We just had a federal judge in Arizona basically declined to ban activists from watching those at mail inboxes in Arizona, whether it be the rise of threats of political violence as well, we know that threats against members of Congress have increased almost tenfold since 2016, or whether it be this current election. And the number of election deniers that are currently on the ballot as well.


And you saw the president yesterday, I thought it was very interesting almost set the stage and mentioning at one point, look, it's also going to take time for votes to be counted. When you have those that are still denying or casting doubt on the previous election, it also stokes anxiety about whether or not those will accept this current election that's coming up as well.

KING: You make a key point because the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona said just the other day, elect me, and we will know who won on every election night in the future. It simply doesn't work that way because you have to count votes. There are our ballots that are contested, there are mail in ballots are all kinds of different ballots, that takes days sometimes. It just does take days sometimes, but the process works. To that point in Arizona, President Biden spoke in Washington last night, his former boss, the former president, was right there in Arizona, which may just well be ground zero in this debate.


BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: You got election denier serving as your governor, as your Senator, as your secretary of state, as your attorney general, then democracy as we know, it may not survive in Arizona. That's not an exaggeration. That is a fact.


KING: There is two things at play here. Number one, this is a critical issue. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are Democrats, Liz Cheney is a Republican. This is a critical issue because it's real. There are people who refuse to accept the math of the last election and are raising doubts about elections going forward. But is it also and two things can be true at once, it said also, Democrats tried to convince people. We know you're really mad and frustrated about inflation. We need you to lift your heads and make this a bigger issue.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And that is exactly what you're seeing in a lot of these frontline districts, swing districts where Democrats are really fighting to the end to keep the majority, especially in the House. You had Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, probably one of the most vulnerable Democrats right now, saying the other night at the rally with Congresswoman Liz Cheney. I say, you know what, I know, I hear from politicians all the time about kitchen table issues, about the economy, about rising prices. I get it.

Democrats have trying to say, we have the solutions. This is why you should keep us there. But you can't have debates on kitchen table issues. If the bedrock of democracy, if the home is democracy is falling apart, none of that can happen if you don't have that civility, if you don't have people wanting to work across the aisle. And that is something that really Democrats are trying to hone-in on to make that distinction at the end of the day in these final, final hours.

KING: I said, factcheck true to the president. What have we heard from the president the top, it's just indisputable and pick up your supercomputer that you have in your pocket at home. If you don't believe us and look at it yourself. Just for secretary of state, the people who count the votes responsible for the integrity of elections in Nevada and Arizona and Michigan and New Mexico.

You have people who still say that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump, that did not happen. Joe Biden won the election fair and square. This is a very lowball number. This is CNN kind of election deniers on the ballot. These are just people who say that 2020 should have gone the other way that the Democrats and Joe Biden somehow stole 2011 Senate candidates.

All Republicans, 10 candidates for governor are Republicans, eight candidates for secretary of state all Republicans. As you mentioned, there are dozens and dozens more who either question the last election in some way or talk about, you know, well, the only election that's fair, is the election I win, which is a silly rule there.

One of those is Don Bolduc, who's the Republican candidate for Senate in New Hampshire. A race that a month or so ago, the Democrats thought we're going to win this one. In the final days, they're not so sure. He has flatly questioned the results. Now, he's trying to convince voters, let's move on.


DON BOLDUC, (R) NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: I have said on 14th September, it was not stolen. That's it. I'm not discussing it anymore.

SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D) NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: He spent over a year in New Hampshire stoking the big lie, saying it was stolen.

BOLDUC: The bottom line is, we need to focus on the future and the future is heating and eating high interest rates. People can't afford a home. This was something for Granite Staters. Thank you very much. But let's stick to what's important to Granite Staters.


KING: Again, voters can multi process, and yes, yes, especially in the states where it's already getting cold, high heating oil costs, inflation. It's having an impact. And guess what, politically it's helping Republicans, but Granite Staters, and all Americans can also focus on the idea that we should have politicians who respect math in the process, right?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Absolutely and respect the process. And you saw that kind of play out in the debate yesterday as well. Hassan at one point trying to direct the focus to his previous statement that did call into question, the last election. But this is really going to be the point of focus, the point of tension as it comes to this current election. You saw there him tried to direct the focus to those day-to- day issues inflation and the economy.

Can't our voters going to be able to say and they, you know, obviously voters care about multiple topics at the same time, but those are issues that they feel day-to-day. So, will they be able to also, you know, at this point, say, look, you know, there is a threat to democracy even with these economic issues. It's just the choice between a referendum on this current party in power and this current administration and the choice that Democrats are trying to make.


KING: It's interesting. As you see Maggie Hassan, the Democratic incumbent, they're in a state where a lot of Trump voters, Joe Biden carried it a lot of Trump voters. And you move on to Ohio state, Donald Trump carried even bigger. Tim Ryan, the House - Democratic House member running for Senate, they're in a remarkably close race and what you assume would be maybe a Republican here. He says, he has no problem with what the president said. But listen here, he says, he needs to get the votes of Trump voters, so he focuses elsewhere.


REP. TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: We have so many two-time Trump voters who aren't for the insurrection as and aren't for the all the craziness and insanity, but they're voting for me because I'm talking about the pocketbook issues that they care about.


KING: Again, he was not making the point. He was not disagreeing with the president. He said, he actually agreed with everything the president said. But in his state, he can touch on that, he thinks he needs to focus somewhere else.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. You have to focus on - and a lot of Democrats say this, you have to focus on what people are feeling in the moment. But at the same time, Democrats are also trying to turn out their own base. They need to incentivize those dissuaded voters to turn out, then you can make the appeals to independents and Republicans who are focusing on the economy and other issues top of mind, you kind of have to do both in those swing districts.

KING: A lot more politics to go including, next we go live to the campaign field to Georgia, where the Senate race could determine the balance of power here in Washington. And then to Iowa, where Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail tonight.




KING: As election day nears, candidates and their surrogates, of course, very busy out on the campaign trail, making their final closing pitches to voters. CNN is on the ground across the country. Our Eva McKend is in Atlanta, where the Republican candidate Herschel Walker taking issue with former President Barack Obama. We start though in Sioux City, Iowa, Our CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there. And Jeff Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail there tonight. There's a Senate race with Chuck Grassley and it is surprisingly close.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It is certainly closer than Senator Grassley has experienced. And he's had many elections, of course, he's running for his eighth term. He's 89 years old, the oldest Senator on the Republican side, but Donald Trump is doing something slightly more than that. Yes, it's an insurance policy for Senator Grassley, who all the years we've been covering politics here. He's never been a big favorite of the Trump base, if you will, of the far-right conservative base.

So, the former president coming here to Sioux City, that conservative corner of Iowa, is offering him some support. But John, we should also be quite clear, this is about potentially the next election. Of course, Donald Trump is beginning his sprint of rallies, four rallies in five days here in Iowa. He'll go on to Pennsylvania to Florida and Ohio. But clearly, he wants to join this Republican movement and lead this what he believes, and others think will be a Republican wave.

Of course, there have been many other potential Republican, 2024 Republican ambitious hopefuls coming here already. Mike Pence has been here several times. Tim Scott, the senator from South Carolina, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley. I am told that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is eyeing a trip to Iowa as well, after his reelection campaign finishes next week.

So, John, clearly 2024 is in the air here. We're getting a sense of what the former president might do. His longtime adviser Kellyanne Conway, says she expects some word from him and announcement potentially, in a couple of weeks, possibly a November surprise, not sure how much of a surprise it would be. But tonight, at least it's for the midterm elections, but boy, you can almost smell 2024 in the air here. John?

KING: I was kind of hoping to at least get a long weekend after we finish counting 2022 before 2024, but I guess you've disabused me of that notion. Jeff Zeleny, on the ground in Sioux City. To Georgia now, where the Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker is hitting back at the former President Barack Obama. Obama went to Georgia and said, hey look, Herschel Walker is not qualified. Listen to the response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERSCHEL WALKER, (R) GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: But I've created businesses. I sit on a public traded board. So those are things I've done outside of football, but my resume against his resume, I put it up in a time to date.


KING: Eva McKend on the ground for us in Atlanta. Herschel Walker running not against Barack Obama, though, against Senator Raphael Warnock. What's the latest, Eva?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, that's right, John. You know, this response to President Obama is something that Walker has rolled into his stump speech. You know, as we're out on the trail, we're always looking for variations in that stump speech. And it's been about a week since President Obama was here stumping for Senator Warnock and other Democrats.

And Walker really seizing on this, saying that the former president should sit this one out, and also taking issue with this characterization of him as a celebrity, saying he's not a celebrity, he's a warrior for God. And to that point, Walker has really spent much of his election argument, talking about his faith. And it is so striking because he is running literally against a pastor. Take a listen to how both of them invoke religion on the campaign trail.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, (D) GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Let's get this done one more time. God bless you. Keep the faith.

WALKER: We are in a spiritual battle and God got me ready for a battle like this right here. Because he knew, I was getting ready to go up against a wolf in sheep's clothing. You all know that.


MCKEND: So more than emphasizing his faith, you'll often hear a Warnock on the trail, playing up his bipartisan credentials that he is willing to work with anyone, any Republican, if it in fact he's in service to Georgians. He even mentions, Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Of course, Senator Ted Cruz was here in Georgia not long ago, stomping with Herschel Walker. John?

KING: Eva McKend, on the ground for us. So, thanks to Eva. Thanks to Jeff Zeleny as well, who is out in Iowa for us. So, thanks to all of our correspondents and our teams out there in the final days of the campaign. Ahead for us, a violent attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband at their home. Now raising questions, about whether Capitol police are up to the task, doing enough to keep members of Congress and their families safe.




KING: New details today related to that violent attack on the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband. Homeland Security officials confirming to CNN that Paul Pelosi is alleged assailant was illegally, is illegally in the United States, and would be subject to deportation though, he is now being held of course, to face criminal charges.


That attack now raising profound concerns about the safety and security of members of Congress and their families. The top House Democrat on the committee that oversees the Capitol police, asking tough questions to the Capitol police force. Questions like this, what are the strategic plans to protect lawmakers and their families? Were those plans followed last week when the attack happened in San Francisco? And how is the Capitol police now coordinating with other federal and local law enforcement agencies?

Our chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins our conversation. A list of important questions from the chairwoman, Congresswoman Lofgren, the question is what happens next?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's really been the big issue. I mean, post January 6, there has been a lot of uncertainty over the Capitol police. They've seen a lot of police retire. They've tried to hire up. They've had a difficult time funding and getting these personnel where they are. And we also know there's been a bit of a debate internally about exactly how to deal with this.

Our reporter spoke to a retired lieutenant army General Honore, who did the investigation post January 6, commissioned by Nancy Pelosi to look into security improvements that were needed within the Capitol building. And Honore told our reporters that he braved Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader urged him about hiring more Capitol police. McCarthy was skeptical about that idea believed instead, they needed to improve oversight of the agency.

Honore, one of about 850 or so police officers, they later what we called to the effort (Ph) opposing a larger package and dealing with security improvements that liberals also opposed. He did support pare back version. But nevertheless, it underscores exactly how Congress is going to grapple with this as they return post recess.

One of the big things that we have learned this week, of course, was Nancy Pelosi's home was monitored, had a live camera feed are going back to Capitol police in Washington. They were not actively monitoring it at the time of the breaking because she was not there. And part of the reason has to be the lack of resources. The question is, how does Congress deal with it? And will they be able to deal with this in this increased threat environment?

KING: I want to get back to the point you made about General Honore and McCarthy, just because Kevin McCarthy could well be by the time this comes up. After the election, he could be aligned to be speaker, that wouldn't happen until January. But if Republicans take back the House, and they're having these conversations in late November or December, during the "lame duck session", his view would matter.

The time I briefed - debrief McCarthy, his opinion was they just need better management. They don't need more officers. Now, that was before this attack on Paul Pelosi. And I also want to say, if you're watching at home, and you think is this really - was this just an isolated incident or is this a big deal.

Look at these numbers, in 2016, threats against lawmakers 902. Look at the progression 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, there we are in 2021, nearly 10,000, 9600 plus against lawmakers. So, the issue is real. The question whether it's - whether the Democrats hold the House, whether Republicans hold, can they come together? They can't agree on anything barely these days. Can they come together and talk about what do we need to do?

KIM: It's really tricky, because I think one issue is obviously the matter of resources. And I think it's always been politically tricky for members of Congress. If they're increasing funding for fundamentally themselves. I mean, even though, (crosstalk) - right, right, right, even though this is a very important issue, it's the issue of safety. It's always going to be a tricky matter.

So, I think a lot of - there will certainly be conversations after members returned to Washington. I think some of the conversations may focus on perhaps raising the threat level of like, what constitutes of extra protection by Capitol police, whether Speaker Pelosi's home does need to be monitored around the clock, even if she's not there, and other concerns like that. But it's always going to be a delicate situation for lawmakers. And I think certainly, there's going to be a debate. There will be a lot of questions to Capitol police on what more they can or should be doing.

KING: It's interesting, jumping aside. I just wanted to do some of these things that are on the table because some of them sound like what the secret service does for former presidents and their families. Do we need to do it for this trip. 24/7 residents' coverage for leadership and members on a threat-based details, do you need that? Do you have temporary protective details for spouses, say they're traveling overseas or going on some high-profile trip.

There's hiring is in the works of 840 Capitol police officers over the next three years. You know, and training cadets essentially to, you know, you're not just protecting a building with the intelligence gathering and other steps about protecting people in their homes, all in the table.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. No, there's a number of things that they have to discuss. And, you know, as much as we have heard from, I think Democrats more so about, you know, this is a priority for us. There's obviously the government funding bill that they have to get done by mid-December. I've been hearing a lot from Republicans as well, and staff, House admin. Zoe Lofgren, of course, is chairs at committee right now.

But they on Friday, were fielding a number of calls from Republicans as well asking, remind me, what do we have? What are the pots of money that I can use? Have I used all of it already? So, this is definitely going to be a conversation. Of course, the question is, who in the family and the spouses, who is going to get security? Do they even extended that far? And what does the U.S. Capitol police need?

We heard from Tom Manger, the U.S. Capitol police chief that they need more resources. They do need more officers, but I won't be surprised already. If you hear from the more far right members of Congress saying, we don't need any more surveillance Why are you doing this?