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Democratic Majority May be the Last for a Decade; Sheriff Don Sowell is Interviewed about Finding a Missing Boy; Red Sox Push Rays to Brink. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 08:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It's a dire warning for Democrats and their razor thin majority in Washington. In an interview with "New York Times" reporter Ezra Klein, Democratic data analyst David Shor predicts this, quote, this might be the high-water mark of power they'll, meaning Democrats, have for the next decade. Democrats are on the precipice of an era without any hope of a governing majority. The coming year, while they still control the House, the Senate and the White House, is their last, best chance to alter course. If they fail, they will not get another chance. Not anytime soon.

Let's talk about this now with David Axelrod, CNN's senior political commentator and the host of "The Axe Files" podcast.

I mean, what do you think? Do you agree with what he's saying there, David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, first of all, Brianna, let me say on my own behalf here that it was a late baseball night here in Chicago. So if my analysis isn't trenchant, you guys will know why.

But, look, I don't -- I don't think what he said is particularly startling because when you think at history, Democrats have a marginal advantage in both the Senate and the House. Five votes in the House, tied in the Senate. And the history of this is, no party in power has gained seats in the midterms but for twice, in '98 and 2002, those were unusual circumstances. So you've got some headwinds going in the first place.

Then you look at the structure. This is part of Shor's point, the structure of our democratic system is biased against Democrats because Democrats cluster around metropolitan areas, and the rural states are becoming more and more red. We're becoming more polarized by education and class. And all this is working against Democrats.

So, yes, I mean, look at 2020. Donald Trump lost nationally by 7 million votes, but actually the margin he lost by in that race was something like 43,000 votes over three states, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona. If those votes had gone a different -- if half of those votes had gone another way, he would be president of the United States today.

So Democrats have real, real challenges. And Shor's point is too, one is we should structurally address them by -- or Democrats should structurally address them by adding states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and through voting reforms to try and stop what Republicans are doing in legislatures across the country. And his point is, you've got to do it now because you're not going to have another chance.

And the second point is messaging. That Democrats need to focus on broadly popular messages, for example, around the economy. And he points to the elections that I was involved in, in 2008 and 2012. And he's absolutely right about that. Obama focused very much on middle class economics and that was part of the reason why he was the only Democrat since 1964 to carry the state of Indiana, for example. So they're -- you know, he -- he is -- he is in the main, I think, saying things that I think a lot of us believe.

The one thing I would say to qualify what he wrote is that candidates actually matter. Circumstances matter. You know, Trump -- if there had not been a virus, a COVID virus in 2020, Trump probably wins that election. We don't know what's going to happen before the midterms. We don't know what's going to happen before 2024.

And then candidates themselves matter. If Joe Biden is very popular come the midterm elections, Democrats are going to do better. That's demonstrable. And he's actually acknowledged that as well.

So I don't think this can all be kind of laid out in -- in a data spreadsheet. There are -- there are human factors and there are -- there's serendipity and circumstance that's going to enter into this as well. But in the main, this -- you know, the outlook for Democrats is -- is very, very disquieting going into these midterm elections in 2024.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the things Shor and Klein both said is that Democrats need to figure out how to appeal to Republican voters in Republican states if they're going to win. And Klein writes, all this comes down to a simple prescription. Democrats should do a lot of polling and figure out which of their views are popular and which are not popular and they should talk about the popular stuff and shut up about the unpopular stuff. That latter part, David, I'm wondering, what that is. What is it that you think Democrats may need to shut up about if they want to win some of these Republican states?

AXELROD: Well, this is -- that -- this part of his analysis is what's caused great controversy because progressives in the party resent it. But what he's saying is, Democrats are tailoring too much of their message to the college educated liberal whites who now are a dominant part of the party, or at least the driving part of the party.

And, you know, he -- he -- he created controversy by saying defund police hurt the idea of defunding police, which no major Democrat really embraced, really hurt Democrats in 2020. But, look, there are divisive issues. You know, immigration is a

divisive issue. We should do something about it. Finally, we have to do something about it, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the thing you talk about day in and day out in your campaign because it makes you feel morally fulfilled.

And, you know, I will tell you guys that back in 2012, when Obama was beginning -- President Obama was beginning his re-election campaign, we had a very, very kind of intense discussion because he said there are things, you know, I really want to do in this second term and I want to talk about them and so on. And basically what we said to him was, we have -- there's one thing that people care about right now, and that's the economy and how they're going to fair in the economy. And we -- we need to be talking about that day in and day out and especially about middle class economics and giving people a chance in this economy. And we spent a year talking about that. Now, we were drawn into other debates at times, but that was fundamentally what we -- we made the campaign about. And there's a lesson in that. You can drive campaigns with discipline. And that's what Shor is saying.

BERMAN: David Axelrod, we appreciate you being with us. Go Sox, both White and Red.

AXELROD: Both -- both Sox, yes. Both colors.

BERMAN: Both Sox. All Sox.

Thanks so much, David.

AXELROD: See ya.

BERMAN: Next up, a heart-breaking, real-life tragedy at the opera. How a deadly accident unfolded on stage.

KEILAR: And the miracle discovery of a missing boy found alive after four days in the woods.



KEILAR: Here is a good piece of good news this Monday morning. After spending four days alone in the woods with no food, no water, no shelter, three-year-old Christopher Ramirez is back with his mom in Texas. A good Samaritan who learned about this missing boy while attending Bible study Friday night found him the next day. Ramirez reportedly vanished after he following the neighbor's dog into the woods.

And joining me now on this remarkable story is Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell.

Sheriff, thank you so much for being with us.

Can you tell us how Christopher's doing? SHERIFF DON SOWELL, GRIMES COUNTY, TEXAS: He's doing very well. Thank

you all for having me on to give you an update. He's doing very well. He's supposed to be released from the hospital today.

KEILAR: Amazing.

OK, so -- so he just --

SOWELL: Sometime this afternoon.

KEILAR: Sometime this afternoon.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: So he just ran out into the woods?

SOWELL: His mom and his grandma just got home from selling food on the side of the road, as they do every day, and they were unloading and he was chasing this (ph) dog down the road. And the neighbors hollered at him to come back. And they got the mom's attention. In the span of about a couple of minutes. And then they ran after him and then shortly after that the dog came back and that was it and we got called out. And it was a --

KEILAR: OK, so you -- which is amazing.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: You got called out very quickly.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: And you were searching. And I imagine after you're going into day three, you're going into day four, you're fearing the worst.

SOWELL: Well, we were not fearing the worst, ma'am. We were not wanting to, but everybody out there, all the -- all the amazing people that helped out, they -- we wanted to find him before we left, alive. And, unfortunately, it worked out that this good Samaritan that happened to be at the right place at the right time, he hadn't even been watching the news, he had just heard about it at Bible study. And just because of y'all -- y'all around the country and the state and the area were keeping that story alive, he learned about it his from his colleagues at Bible study and just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

KEILAR: I found this to be amazing. Tim -- Tim, the good Samaritan, as you said, Christopher went missing on Wednesday.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: Tim goes to Bible study Friday night.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: And that's where he finds out that there's a boy missing. SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: And he said that he decided on Saturday morning that he was going to go looking for this boy and his wife was sort of asking him, you know, what are you -- what are you doing today? He did his daily devotional, as he said he tries to do every day, and then he just -- he went out, right? He just went out looking?

SOWELL: That's it. He said he had a spiritual feeling at Bible study and just kind of -- be he didn't -- he said, I don't watch the news that much. Just -- he said, I just heard about it and said, oh, my goodness, that's right -- that's not too far from here. You know -- you know, as crow flies, if you use the phrase. And he just did that and just -- and this happened to be the right -- it was such a nice feeling to get that call that we're have him, he's alive and he's crying. Those three factors made -- made our day.

We get out there and just to see that side of the mom, Sergeant Smith (ph), just, my deputy, patrol deputy, the sergeant who was with him, family, the whole time, and just to see that moment was just -- it was all worth the effort.


And bless his heart. He didn't sleep. I didn't sleep. He didn't eat. I didn't eat. He didn't drink. I didn't drink. I just -- enough to maintain stamina.

But I can only imagine what the little boy went through. But thank goodness he's OK. That's all that -- that's all that matters right now.

KEILAR: How -- how did he survive? I mean we know that their -- you know, part of your effort, there was -- they were draining ponds.

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am.

KEILAR: Obviously there was a fear that he could have gotten into some water.

SOWELL: That was --

KEILAR: How did he survive?

SOWELL: I don't know. He's three years old. He can give -- he can speaks a little bit of English. He speaks Spanish somewhat. But it's baby -- somewhat three-year-old talk. But he said -- he -- to his mom he was OK and he wanted a Coke. That was it.

KEILAR: And he -- did he get a Coke?

SOWELL: Yes, ma'am. He got everything he wanted. And then went to the hospital.

But I don't know. We were worried about the possibility of that -- that little pond. The divers spend a substantial amount of time there. I mean hours. And they concluded they don't think he's there. But that wasn't good enough. We just -- I said, let's drain it. And the property owner was 100 percent for it. That made it -- that was a comfort knowing that he wasn't there, which is good. And then we continued and just continued expanding and we had all kinds of technology you could have, infrared, sonar. Many, many agents at the federal, state and local level. And boots on the ground, helicopters, drones. And it was think out there. The boy just -- I think we scared every animal in that area with all the noise.

KEILAR: I am --

SOWELL: Somebody asked me one time about the deer and what kind of animals out there. I said well there's rabbits, snakes, deer, hogs, coyotes and everything (ph). I said I think we sent them ten miles away because there was nothing out there.

KEILAR: Well, look, Sheriff, I just want to say to you and --

SOWELL: Which -- which was good -- which was a good feeling (ph).

KEILAR: I just want to say to you and your office and also to Tim the good Samaritan, amazing, amazing work. It is so wonderful to have a good ending to this story. Thank you for being with us this morning.

SOWELL: Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate your time. Have a good day.

KEILAR: All right, you too, sir.

Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Soon: Boston Marathon winners.

Noon: NYC's Columbus Day Parade.

Later: Biden returns to White House.


KEILAR: Passengers in limbo this morning after Southwest cancels thousands of flights. What's the reason, though.

BERMAN: Plus, new details about a U.S. Navy engineer who has been arrested. He is accused of trying to sell U.S. nuclear secrets.

And a tragic scene playing out on the stage at the opera. How one actor died during a performance.



BERMAN: Time now for "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

A potential gamechanger in the fight against COVID. The drugmaker Merck is applying for Emergency Use Authorization for a new anti-viral drug to treat the virus. Merck says its pill cut hospitalizations and deaths in half during a trial for people with mild to moderate infections.

KEILAR: Hundreds more flight cancellations this morning for Southwest, blaming bad weather and air traffic control issues. The pilot's union is denying speculation about a possible walkout over Southwest's new vaccine mandate.

BERMAN: A Maryland couple was arrested and accused of trying to sell military secrets about nuclear reactors on U.S. subs to someone they thought was an agent from another country. The Justice Department says that person was really an undercover FBI agent.

KEILAR: And a deadly accident on stage during an opera in Moscow. A performer crushed to death by a piece of scenery as it was lowered near the back of the stage. A camera captured some of the commotion in the theater.


KEILAR: Russian media says the 37-year-old man was killed when he moved in the wrong direction there as that backdrop was descending.

BERMAN: That's sad.

A 50 mile race in the Utah mountains was cut short after more than 80 runners had to be rescued from dangerous winter conditions. Law enforcement says the storm dumped more than a foot of snow, leaving some runners with hypothermia.

KEILAR: We'll have more on these stories all day on CNN and check out the "Five Things" podcast as well, just go to or wherever you get your podcasts.

Just ahead, the Capitol Police whistleblower who claims top officials failed to respond during the insurrection then lied to Congress about it.

BERMAN: Plus, glory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I hear number eight?




BERMAN: If there's one thing better than a walk-off home run, it's a walk-off at Fenway in the playoffs.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Love seeing that smile, John.

The Red Sox and Rays battled it out in a five-plus hour marathon game last night. Playoff baseball is magical.

Let's go to the top of the 13, tied at four with two outs. Runners at first for the Rays. Kevin Kiermaier, who hits a blast to right center. It looks like a home run. But upon closer review, you're going to see that the ball actually hits the top of the wall, bounces back in and deflects off of Red Sox right fielder Hunter Renfroe, then up and over the wall. Never seen anything like it. By rule, it's a ground rule double. So no runs scored. Sox get out of the inning and on to the bottom of the 13th we go.

That's where Boston's Christian Vazquez blew the lid off that thing. First pitch is gone. Just the eighth walk-off homer by a catcher in MLB post-season history. John, Vasquez could barely find home plate because his mates were right there waiting for him to celebrate.

The Red Sox win 6-4 in the 13th inning over the Rays. Boston can wrap up the series with a win tonight. It's one of four playoff games on the schedule beginning with the Brewers and Braves on our sister channel TBS.


John Berman smiling after a big Boston win is what I love to see.

BERMAN: Well, it was like five hours. It was going on forever.