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New Day

Key Senate Races in Dead Heat; British Banker Charged in Hong Kong Murders

Aired November 04, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, campaigns have become elections. Today is the day voters are casting ballots in the heated midterm races. The big prize is the Senate. Magic number is six for Republicans. Will it be a clean win or will we have a balance of power undecided for months?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And below the belt. Campaign ads have been running non-stop on your television and some of them are doozies, from accusations of evicting 100-year-old woman to attacking a candidate in a wheelchair. We'll look at some of the most negative ads of the season.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking murders -- an investment banker living a life of luxury charged in the violent deaths two of young women in the heart of Hong Kong, their bodies found in a bloody scene in the banker's upscale apartment. We have new details ahead.

CUOMO: Your special edition of NEW DAY, starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, November 4th. You know it is Election Day today. It's 6:00 in the east, just about, Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on election watch for you right now.

Polls are opening up and down the east coast, getting out of the house a little early, got to get your ward number, your precinct number, your voting number. Today could be a big day for the balance of power in Congress.

CAMEROTA: Now poll after poll shows the GOP with a real chance of winning the Senate. But Democrats say the polls don't tell the whole story. They say they're confident to keep control of the Senate chamber.

The deciding factor, of course, will be voter turn-outs. How is that looking this morning? CNN has this election covered like no other network can from D.C. to Atlanta, New Hampshire to North Carolina. We have reporters live on the ground in every state with a key race -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Alisyn, let's get right to the pros who are out there covering everything for us: CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash in Washington, correspondent Martin Savidge in Georgia, Rene Marsh in North Carolina, Brian Todd in New Hampshire. These are no coincidences. These are big states that we have to watch. The situations are unclear to say the least. Let's start with you, Dana. We keep saying the magic number is six,

but you kind of have to look at eight because of Iowa and Colorado. May have to look at nine or ten because of what Democrats could make happen in Kansas and Georgia. How do you see it from a surprise perspective?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think Republicans are feeling bullish this morning, but they are most worried about Kansas, as you said. The Republican incumbent there is -- is in a race for his life against an independent, Greg Orman, who won't say which party he will caucus with.

But he other state that everybody who I talked to who is following this and strategizing about this from both parties, is North Carolina, for several reasons. One is if -- there's an incumbent Democrat there, Kay Hagan. She has actually been a couple points ahead in the polls. But Republicans feel that they might be able to surge there. If they do, that is going to be very telling for what kind of night it's going to be for Republicans. A better night than perhaps even they think right now.

CUOMO: You've got battling narratives, right? You have the Republicans, who put out that this is a referendum on poor leadership; and it has a name and it is President Obama. Then you have the Democrat narrative, which is somewhat of an unknown and just seems to be about running scared. This will all come home to roost in Iowa specifically. These two story lines have been playing out. How do you see it?

BASH: Iowa is so fascinating for that reason. Because you have a state where the president, his political career was born. He had a surprise win there in the caucuses, beat Hillary Clinton back in 2008. Won the state both times when he was on the ballot for president in the general elections.

But he has suffered there in the polls just like he has across the board. So that's why Iowa, one of the reasons Iowa is key and because it is a purple state and telling about sort of where the electorate is.

But, you know, there's been a lot of discussion about whether or not it was the right or wrong thing to do for Democrats in states even like Iowa to keep the president at arm's length. Not have him come in and campaign or even do other campaign sort of events for these candidates.

And I've been talking to Democrats who say that they have data at their fingertips to show it would have been devastating for the president to come in, because the map, not just Iowa, but more importantly other states that are having Democrats fight for their lives, are so red, are places where President Obama was never popular, never won. Then it would have been a much worse scenario, they think, for tonight.

CUOMO: All right. So let's start looking around at these key states. Dana, we'll be keeping you busy all day. You're going to be busy forever. You might as well -- we just might as well have you up from now until 3 a.m. in the morning.

Let's go to Martin Savidge, though. Martin, it's good to have you with us this morning. You're in Georgia. All of these races are going to have three components that we have to watch, right? How close it as a function of trending? What does it come down to in that particular state? And then what do you have as urgency and expectation of voters there? Georgia specifically, you had Nunn. She had the political history there. She's going against Perdue; had a little bit of a problem early on. Now he seems to be pulling back. What's the status?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think that is -- what's interesting to me is the fact you've got two people who are really people who have never run for office before, Michelle Nunn and then you've got David, who is the other candidate here.

And what we're talking about with David Perdue is that they both have names that are well-known to Georgians for political connections, yet as we say, both of them are new to political office.

David Perdue seems to be pulling it out now, as the polls have tightened up, and it shows that he's roughly got a 3 to 4 percentage point lead over Michelle Nunn. But Michelle Nunn has been the real surprise here, because she's done very well as a Democrat. This is a solid red state. But obviously, her family name means a lot to people here. So she's done extremely well in raising money. She's done extremely well in keeping the polls very, very tight. It's going to all come down to the turnout today.

Early polling, there's been a lot of Georgians did that, about a million of them. Predominantly they were white, which would imply that's not necessarily good so far for Michelle Nunn. So how many people show up today and vote? It's going to be crucial. One has to get 50 percent to win. Many believe we're going to a run-off.

CUOMO: And that's going to be one of the key narratives as we go through the day, is do we get the resolutions today? Do we have run- offs? Early voting is going to be a big factor, as well, we'll have to follow.

All right. Now as Dana was saying, Rene Marsh, as we come to you in North Carolina, this was a key state. Kay Hagan had to win for the Democrats to really feel that they could stave off any kind of a mass change. What's the feeling like there this morning?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know -- well, you talk to both campaigns, Chris, they both say they feel confident. But let's look at the numbers here.

This is a close race. We're talking about two points. It's also the most expensive Senate race. More than $100 million poured into this race here.

Voter turnout, we're seeing records as far as early voting. More than a million people have already cast their votes. We're seeing the enthusiasm at least in early voting. And then throw into the mix this third-party candidate. We're talking

about a North Carolina pizza delivery man who just might, just might influence the balance of power in Washington, D.C.

Those are the three headlines that we're looking at here in North Carolina, Chris.

CUOMO: What's your best guess so far from what you're hearing from the campaigns about what they think the pizza delivery man, Sean Haugh, right -- what do they think he's going to get?

MARSH: You know, I spoke with some Republicans yesterday, and they admit that Sean Haugh could actually have an impact on the Republican candidate in this -- in this race. We're talking about Thom Tillis. They believe that he could potentially siphon away some of the votes from him. And if that is the case, because this race is so close, we could see that this pizza delivery man does, indeed, deliver a win to the Democratic incumbent, Kay -- Kay Hagan.

Also, we're also talking about a new radio ad here in North Carolina. The president has been absent, his voice from this race. We saw Senator Kay Hagan distancing herself from the president. But we saw that the president now endorsed Kay Hagan through a radio ad. So the question became why now? He has not been a part of her campaign for so long. Why now in the final hours?

And I spoke with one Democratic operative who explained the strategy like this: the Republicans have made this race from the very beginning about President Obama. And they've painted him as a liability. So what they're thinking now, as far as the Democrats go, is why not use him as a benefit? Because the truth of the matter is, there is a segment of the voting bloc who still supports the president. And it just so happens, that segment that still supports the president are exactly the people who Kay Hagan needs to show up at the polls when they open here in just about 30 minutes from now.

CUOMO: Very interesting story to be told there. You have Kay Hagan bringing in President Obama at the last second, and the big challenge in that race is a man whose ad says, "Get Haugh, get high." So you know, that's an interesting thing about the two states of politics today.

Brian Todd, in New Hampshire, this race keeps creeping up on people's radar about things to watch, and I like that. You're in the organic scene. People already lining up behind you to vote. Don't see too many disappointed faces. That's good, but we're looking at Brown and Shaheen. A lot of intrigue here, a lot of unknown. How are you seeing it?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is a virtual tie going into today's vote. Depending on what poll you're looking at, Jeanne Shaheen in one poll was ahead by only about two percentage points going into today. In another poll we saw Scott Brown was ahead by about two percentage points. So this state is buzzing, and behind me is evidence of that. These people stood in line through the predawn cold and darkness here

to come in here and vote. This is the Ward 1 voting district here in Manchester, one of the busiest in the entire city, which is one of the busiest in the state. People come in here and are registering, signing up here. They vote over here in these booths.

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

TODD: And they put their paper ballots into a tabulator over there.

But Scott Brown, Chris, is seen as one of the Republicans' best hopes to pick off a Democratic incumbent. And he's run a very tight campaign. His message is that Jeanne Shaheen has voted with President Obama just about every step of the way. Her voting record indicates that she has.

She, on the other hand, has painted him as an outsider, coming in from Massachusetts, that he's not a native of New Hampshire. But people here still do know Scott Brown from his Senate term in Massachusetts. A lot of voters here in southern New Hampshire tend to favor Republicans. Republicans do do well here in Manchester here and Nashua.

And as everywhere else, Chris, voter turnout is key. The secretary of state's office has told us they expect a turnout of over 50 percent here, which is better than in the 2010 mid-terms.

CUOMO: Really? So that's unusual. We're hearing that there are expectations of higher turnout there. You're not hearing that in many places in the country.

And that state very much shaping up as a metaphor. You've got a guy who's an outsider in Scott Brown, who's coming to a place that's known for its rigid independence, and you have Shaheen, who's being painted as the face of the current administration. So it's going to see how it plays out.

Brian you're always a great snoop. I know you've been listening to what's going on at that table behind you. How is it going in terms of that's an old-school voting set-up you have there. Volunteers, usually older citizens, going through books, matching up licenses, sending you to the booths, where you're pushing the levers and then taking the paper and filing it. How does it seem to be going in terms of smoothness there?

TODD: Very smooth so far, Chris, and the enthusiasm is really palpable. We were surprised that this many people came in just when the polls opened just a few minutes ago. Going very smoothly. They just signed their names up here. It's a simple process. You get a chip. See those poker chips down there. You get a chip. Then you go over here, get your paper ballot. Take it into the booth. Do what you got to do. Go to a tabulator over there. At the end of the day, that tabulator gets all the paper ballots. They put it on kind of a ticker tape. Then they take it over to city hall. We're going to be there later today, as well. But right now, Chris, going very smoothly here in Manchester, again

one of the key battlegrounds in New Hampshire, right here at this voting ward in Manchester.

CUOMO: And expecting a boost in turn-out. You don't hear that very often. Remember, Brian, don't follow them into the booths.

TODD: Absolutely.

CUOMO: It's a federal law, all right? Remember that as we're going on.

We'll be keeping an eye on everything for you here. You're going to hear a lot today. This could be the one; this could be the one. It's not hype. The polls are so close, the trending is so confusing right now you do have to watch so many races. It could come down to just one. We may not even see it.

So election night is going to be a really big deal. We're starting here in the morning, because the polls are opening. We'll be with you all day here at CNN. And of course, as the starts, get that swell at the polls at the end of the workday, that's when the big coverage will begin, 5 p.m. Eastern. We're going to keep you going, election night in America until the last vote is counted, which by the way, may very well take you right back to us tomorrow morning.

And you have a big, fat menu at the polls. You've got battles for the Senate, House seats, governors' mansions, referendums across the country on key social issues, and all of it will change life just today, but it will set the table for the 2016 race for the White House -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Chris. We will get back to the election in just a second. But first, we have a gruesome murder case in Hong Kong to tell you about this morning. That's where a British investment banker has been charged with killing two young women in a high-rise. One of the victims was found stuffed in a suitcase on a 31st floor balcony. Police were summoned to this grisly scene by the suspect himself.

CNN's Anna Coren is tracking the latest developments from Hong Kong.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dressed in black, looking tired and disheveled, Rurik Jutting arrived at court, escorted by police. The 29-year-old British investment banker, who until recently worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was charged with two counts of murder following the grisly discovery inside his apartment.

Just before 4 a.m. on Saturday, Jutting called police from the 31st floor of this upscale residential building, telling them to come and investigate.

Authorities say when officers arrived, they found the body of a young Indonesian woman lying on the floor, her throat slashed. They were also cuts to her buttocks. Hours later police discovered a second female body with wounds to the neck, stuffed in a suitcase outside on the balcony.

Residents in the building tell CNN there was an extremely foul smell inside the luxury apartment, many expressing complete shock after learning what caused it.


COREN (on camera): You're scared. Why are you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of the murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a shock; it's shocking. It's actually scary.

COREN: Not much is known about the two women who were so violently murdered. However, it is believed that they frequented these bars along this strip, known as the red light district of Hong Kong. It's just two blocks from where Rurik Jutting lived.

(voice-over): Some of the women who work in the red light district tell us that they knew the victims. However, were reluctant to share many details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very sad. But sometimes I see the man who did it maybe is under the influence of drugs. He doesn't know what he's doing.

COREN: While Bank of America acknowledged that Jutting worked for them until recently, they refused to comment on the case.

It's believed the Cambridge graduate joined the investment bank in London back in 2010, moving to Hong Kong mid last year. Jutting did not enter a plea, but will appear in court again next week.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


CAMEROTA: All right. We'll bring you developments on that as we get them. In the meantime, there are other headlines. Let's check in with Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning to you, and good morning to you at home.

It is a somber return to class for students and teachers at Marysville High School this morning. Hundreds of parents, relatives and community members were on hand Monday to welcome the students back ten days after freshmen Jaylen Fryberg opened fire, killing three 14-year- old girls before taking his own life. The students had an abbreviated day Monday to get re-acclimated. Meanwhile, the Seattle-area school will get back to a full schedule this morning, and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with those students and staff.

Well, the final victim has been recovered from the Costa Concordia, almost three years after that disaster off the Italian coast. Workers clearing debris Monday found the remains of Russell Rebello in a cabin. The wrecked ship, which capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio is now in Genoa, where it was moved to be scrapped. Rebello was one of 32 people killed in that accident.

The commander of U.S. Navy SEALs is firing back at members of the elite unit for betraying their code of anonymity and taking public credit for killing Osama bin Laden. One wrote a book about the bin Laden raid. Another is now stepping forward to say he fired the fatal shot. Rear Admiral Brian Losey, in an open letter to his troops, denounces anyone seeking fame or fortune by revealing details of top- secret missions.

All right. A little Monday night football for you. The New York Giants hosting the Indianapolis Colts -- no contest. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throwing four touchdown passes in a dominating 40-24 victory. Luck setting a franchise record with his seventh consecutive 300-yard passing game. The Giants fell to 3-5 with their third straight loss.

I'm sure there's fans somewhere just going (SIGHS).

CUOMO: You know who was at the game last night?


CUOMO: Kate Bolduan.

PEREIRA: No way.


PEREIRA: Did baby Cece go, too?

CUOMO: No, no, no.


CUOMO: Perish the thought.

CAMEROTA: Perish the thought. She was getting sleep.

CUOMO: She was home in nine layers of cashmere.

PEREIRA: That's great.

CAMEROTA: All right. Back to the election. There are up to a dozen Senate races that are still neck and neck on this election day. So we will break down the key races with our political panel of experts, and we'll get their predictions.

CUOMO: Money, money, money. Money and politics go hand in hand. We know that now. But what the money is being spent on is getting increasingly ugly. Billions have gone into campaigns, much of it for ads, and man, are they getting nasty. We're going to show you how low the candidates will go. It's more of a shame campaign than it is just fanning the flames. Take a look.


CAMEROTA: ... the "Daily Beast," and Margaret Hoover, CNN Republican commentator; Errol Louis, political anchor at New York One News; and Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and editorial director for the "National Journal."


CAMEROTA: It's great to have all of you here this morning.

OK. So let's go through a couple of key interesting races.

Ron, let's start in Arkansas.


CAMEROTA: Senator Mark Pryor, Democrat, against Congressman Tom Cotton, Republican. The demographics of Arkansas have changed since Bill and Hillary Clinton...


CAMEROTA: ... came out of there. So what's so interesting about this race?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, preferences have changed even more than the demographics. Arkansas really embodies the core Democratic challenge in this election. You have seven Democrats running in states that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for parties to win Senate seats in states that usually vote the other way for president.

The Democrats have a strong family name there in Mark Pryor, but the underlying partisan sympathies of the state are moving in the opposite direction, and it looks like a very tough race for them tonight.

CAMEROTA: That's right. I mean, Errol, it looks like the Republican has pulled ahead in Arkansas. But is this still a race to watch today?

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, NEW YORK 1 NEWS: Definitely a race to watch. When Democrats have said, somewhat gleefully, over the last few years, the Republicans are turning into sort of a small regional party, well, this is that region, right? And if they can hold this state, then it tells you that it was a little too premature to sort of write them off.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But what this race also shows is that Republicans have picked better candidates this time to represent them. Because Tom Cotton is no regional guy. He went to Harvard for his undergrad. He got a Harvard law degree, and then he enlisted in the Army and did two tours in Iraq. This is not your sort of average bumpkin from a rural area in Arkansas, although he does really play to those rural, I think, themes within Arkansas's policy and politics.

CAMEROTA: Right. So he breaks the stereotype and he -- that's an impressive resume any way you slice it -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Absolutely true. I mean, look. He's a one-term congressman, and he immediately aimed for the Senate, and he's running a pretty disciplined campaign.

As everyone said, you know, the Republicans this cycle have avoided the kind of Todd Akin gaffes, fixation on social issues that really alienated swing voters. But in a state that voted 24 percent for Mitt Romney, even if it's Bubba's home state, Bill Clinton, it's a tough pull for Mark Pryor.

BROWNSTEIN: One other quick point on Arkansas. You have a Democrat who has tried to survive there by being very moderate being replaced, in all likelihood, by a Republican who will be very conservative. And I think you're going to see a widening polarization as a number of these red-state Democrats who tend to be the most centrist, moderate deal-makers are being replaced by more movement-conservative Republicans across the south.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this next really interesting race, Kentucky, Errol. This, of course, is Mitch McConnell against Alison Lundergan Grimes. There's been a lot of drama in this race. How is it looking this morning?

LOUIS: Well, she typifies the dilemma so many Democrats have found themselves in. She was a delegate for Obama, but she got into this famous sort of strange position where she wouldn't say out loud whether or not she had voted for him, although of course, that was obvious. And so you know, it leaves Democrats in a very funny kind of a position.

In this case, this is a state where Obama was so unpopular, he didn't bother to even campaign in Kentucky. You know, he really wrote the state off. The fact that she's competitive tells you something. But the fact that she doesn't want to use the president to her advantage also tells you something.

CAMEROTA: And the fact that she's competitive, Margaret, what does it tell us?

HOOVER: Well, Mitch McConnell was always going to have a tough race, because he'd really suffered a blow when Rand Paul and the Tea Party insurgency came to power within the last four to six years.

I think the banner headline that's sort of interesting throughout these races, especially in Kentucky and Arkansas, is that the war on women, which was a strategy Democrats were employing nationally, but specifically taking Alison Lundergan Grimes, a woman running against Mitch McConnell, has basically sputtered out and failed. The latest poll in Kentucky has Mitch McConnell 4 points on Alison Grimes with women.

AVLON: Yes, and what's extraordinary, though, is that Mitch McConnell winning Kentucky is a sigh of relief for Republicans. I mean, the fact that it's been a competitive race itself is extraordinary. Now Kentucky is a more complex state than people give it credit for

outside, and not just because of the great gifts of bourbon and bluegrass. But because they have a Democratic governor, and Obamacare is very popular in the state. So there are complex tides underlying this race.

But it does look like Mitch McConnell is going to pull this one out. But of course, the only poll that matters is the one today, when people vote.

BROWNSTEIN: Alison Lundergan Grimes is really an indication of the enormous fallacy that many candidates are dealing with now. The idea that you can run away from a president in your own party is just simply no longer true.

In 2010, President Obama's approval rating was below 47 percent in 15 states with Senate races. Democrats lost 13 of the 15.

In 2006, Bush was below -- 45 or below in 20 states. Republicans lost 19 of the 20. You can invite him or not invite him, but you are on the ballot -- when your party holds the White House, that president is on the ballot with you.

CAMEROTA: That is a lesson for candidates this time around.

Let's talk about North Carolina, Margaret. The most expensive race this year. It's a purple state. What do you see in this race?

HOOVER: What's really -- this is absolutely within the statistical margin of error. I mean, all the points have plus two, plus .02 in either direction.

What's really going to be key, I think, is turnout on the day of. This was a state that went for Mitt Romney and for Barack Obama. It's unclear whether Thom Tillis is going to pull it out, and Kay Hagan is going to need African-American turnout in order to have Obama's numbers.

AVLON: This is the Democrats' best chance to hold onto a purple to red state tonight in the south. They've made enormous inroads. The demographics are changing dramatically in North Carolina. But the $111 million spent in this state, over 16 bucks per registered voter, that's crazy town. And obviously, the vast majority of it's not from the candidates. It's from these outside groups.

So there is a -- this is a real race to watch. Democrats need to hold onto it if they're going to stay anything within competitive, even look at...

BROWNSTEIN: The significant interesting sort of Latino vote in North Carolina. It's a demographic that usually doesn't get talked about. All of the rules are getting rewritten in what is not just a purple state but no longer a traditional southern state.

BROWNSTEIN: Margaret's point is really important, though. North Carolina is ground zero for a larger dynamic, which is the modern Democratic coalition, the presidential coalition that's allowed them to win the popular vote five of the last six presidential elections is heavily dependent on young people and minorities, who tend to vote less in midterms than in presidential years. It's a structural problem they face in addition to all the immediate problems. North Carolina probably the best test of whether all the money they're spending can change that historic dynamic tonight.

CAMEROTA: Great stuff, guys. Thanks so much. Thanks for sticking around with us all morning. Ron, Errol, Margaret, John. Great to have you here -- Chris.

CUOMO: Well, Alisyn, cannot hype it. It's just the reality. Votes today will quite possibly make history, shifting power in Congress to one party. But the real news is how close so many of these races are as you were just hearing. At least a dozen still too close to call.

And also going on voters are in control of major issues like abortion, minimum wage, marijuana legalization and in some big states. Will you the people take the reins of power from politicians and make law yourselves? We have the latest on the likely outcomes. Stay with us.