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New Day

Voting Underway in Key Governor Races in Virginia, New Jersey; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Torpedoes Democrats' Effort to Pass Two Bills this Week; FDNY Reports Sickouts as Vaccine Mandate Deadline Hits. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 07:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Yes, it's important research. I think we knew this, but it is such an important new data point in all this. Dr. Wilbur Chen, thanks for being with us.

CHEN: Okay. Thank you.

KEILAR: New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Tuesday, November 2nd.

And Americans are heading to the polls on this Election Day. And in some ways, the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump may be playing out all over again. This morning, all eyes are on two critical races for governor. In Virginia, also in New Jersey, polls opening one hour ago in both states. And in the next 24 hours, we could get a preview of what next year's midterms will look like and beyond.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: In Virginia, a state that Joe Biden carried by ten points, the race is neck and neck. Terry McAuliffe is attempting to link Glenn Youngkin to Trump, and Youngkin is sticking to a core Virginia issue, or trying to make education a core Virginia issue.


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am running against, I like to say, Donald Trump in khakis, or sweater vest. What is he going to do with all those sweater vests at the end of this campaign?

Donald Trump issued two statements attacking me and endorsing Glenn Youngkin, today, two. What does that tell you? Little MAGA people not as excited as you thought?

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: So, on day one, I will ban critical race theory from being in our schools.

Terry McAuliffe versus Virginia, Virginia wins every day of the week.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So, that's Virginia. In New Jersey, the other big state we're watching right now, Governor Phil Murphy is trying to become the first Democrat re-elected to the governor's mansion since, what, 1977. That's a long time.

Let's talk about this big day. It's so big, we brought in CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza. It's just that big.


BERMAN: Races to watch.

CILLIZZA: Okay. Well, start with this. We're focused on a few, but there are 32 states voting today. I mean, it is not all 50, but it is significant.

All right, let's go to the races you talked about. These are the big ones, right? This race is going to be the bellwether. Youngkin has moved into something close to a tie, John. Remember that Joe Biden won the state by ten points last year. That's a huge race. The fact that it is close is very good for Republicans, bad for Democrats, no matter what happens.

This race, Phil Murphy against Jack Ciattarrelli, if this is close, huge problems for Democrats. Phil Murphy should win. New Jersey is a democratic state, has been for some time. Ciattarrelli has ran a perfectly fine campaign, but no one thought he had a chance. Some polls show a little bit of tightening there, so we'll keep an eye on it.

All right, now, mayoral, some people don't pay that much attention. You should. New York City, your hometown, is going to elect Eric Adams. This is -- New York is a pretty Democratic city, it's a pretty Democratic area. Democrats are going to win. Remember, he won primary as a more moderate choice, which is kind of interesting.

Now, in contrast, Boston is going to make history, first woman mayor. Two women are running, Michelle Wu, Asian-American, Boston City councilwoman, the favorite there.

Another one woman I want to note, Buffalo. First of all, it's the second biggest city in New York. People sometimes overlook it. Not my friends from Buffalo but people overlook that at times. In Buffalo, a woman named India Walton is running as a Democratic socialist. She won the Democratic primary, but the current incumbent governor, a guy named Byron Brown, is running write-in (ph) candidacy. So, they're facing off again. If she wins, she's the first socialist mayor of a city since the '60s. So, keep an eye there.

Now, one other one I want to mention, Minneapolis, obviously George Floyd's death has occasioned a national conversation about policing. But in Minneapolis, they are having an amendment about an initiative whether they get rid of the police department and change it to a department of public safety.

Now, this isn't defund the police. There would still be police. The issue is you wouldn't have to have a minimum number of police on the force. The calls to 911 would be treated a little bit differently. It is an attempt to sort of reorient a police department. It looks pretty close in terms of polling. So, that's one to keep an eye on this.

BERMAN: What are some of the other ballot measures going on?

CILLIZZA: Right. So, as I said, we have a run through that many because there're 32 states voting. So, there's a ton of ballot measures. I want to focus in these two states, two big ones and they matter, New York. A lot of this is COVID-19, post-COVID-19. So, in New York, there's a redistricting ballot initiative to take a little of the partisanship out of it. There's also one about same-day registration.

So, in New York currently, you have to have ten days, you have to register ten days before.


A lot of states have same-day registration. You can go in register and vote. This would allow for registration to be closer than ten days.

There's also in Texas two ballot initiatives related to COVID-19, one of which is they want to make it harder to restrict church services. Remember, during COVID-19, a lot of governors said, no church services, nothing like that. In Texas, Greg Abbott is saying, we don't want that to ever happen again. We want to protect it. Same thing with elder care, there's a ballot initiative that says, you can designate someone who is your particular caretaker, and that person can always come visit you. Again, a lot of this stuff is post COVID-19.

I think, really, I just want to go back here, if I might. Look, this is the big one.


CILLIZZA: I mean, you know, we're going to talk about other things. Other things matter. But this is the big one. If Glenn Youngkin wins, it is a huge moment not only for the fact that they haven't had a -- a Republican has not won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009, which is stunning. We usually thought Virginia was a swing state, it's more of a Democratic state now, but also for what it would mean nationally. Youngkin sought to nationalize this race, as has Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin has talked about, as we've heard in those clips, about education and control of states. McAuliffe has tried to make this about Trump. That's the race that I think we are going to and we should spend the most time on.

BERMAN: This is the race that has Democrats sweating, and I mean flop sweating, like full-on flop sweat. We will see where it heads tonight. You're not going to want to miss CNN's coverage tonight.

CILLIZZA: Excited.

BERMAN: Early afternoon. Chris Cillizza, thank you so much for that. Brianna? KEILAR: Yes. Our special live coverage of election night in America will be starting at 6:00 Eastern right here on CNN. I love to hear that music again. It gives me flashbacks too.

Okay. Democrats have yet to pass Joe Biden's sweeping legislative agenda that consists of two bills. There is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and then there is the social spending bill that is to be passed through what's called budget reconciliation. It only takes 50 Democrats, which is -- that's all they have in the Senate, right?

So, that second bill has been held up because conservative Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, have had on objections. Here is Manchin yesterday slamming the negotiating tactics of his progressive Democratic colleagues.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): In my view, this is not how the United States Congress should operate or, in my view, has operated in the past.

For the sale of the country, I urge the House to vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.

While I've worked hard to find a path to compromise, it is obvious, compromise is not good enough for a lot of my colleagues in Congress. It's all or nothing.


KEILAR: Now, the White House says it remains confident that President Biden's plan will get Manchin's support.

Joining us now, President Biden's transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg. Secretary, thank you for being with us this morning.

Another critical day. It seems like we've had maybe too many critical days when it comes to this legislation. But are you 100 percent sure that President Biden can get Joe Manchin on board with the Build Back Better bill?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: You know, a few days ago, I said that we're the closest we've ever been. I think this morning, we are closer still. Obviously, we want to see this literally signed, sealed, and delivered. But what is clear is there is enormous momentum behind this legislation. And that's not just on Capitol Hill. That's not just coming from the president. But the more Americans hear about what these two pieces of legislation mean for them, the more you see that eagerness and that impatience to get it done.

As people are hearing about the opportunity to have free pre-K for all three and four-year-olds in the country and thinking about what that means for them, understanding that nine out of ten families personally have hundreds or thousands of dollars on the line if they have children, when it comes to the extension of this child tax credit. People are beginning to imagine what they would do with that discount, the tax credit of up to $12,500 to buy an electric vehicle and never have to worry about gas prices again.

These are the kinds of things that are going to make a concrete difference in American lives, and I think that's why you're continuing to see this excitement and this energy. Obviously, a piece of legislation or two pieces of legislation this big and this complex is going to take a lot to get it through all of the different hoops that Congress can have. But, again, feel very confident. And the president, you know, put forward this particular framework with its particular dimensions, believing that this is the framework that will pass both Houses of Congress and get to his desk.

KEILAR: Okay. So, you're very confident the president can get Joe Manchin on board? Is that the read?

BUTTIGIEG: Absolutely, very confident that this can get through the House and the Senate. And I'll tell you, the moment it does, obviously, my department and others are ready.


We just had another discussion yesterday with my colleagues about all of the things that we have to do to be prepared to deploy these taxpayer dollars effectively. I mean, it's one thing to say that we're going to have this funding identified, but when you think about the work that's actually going to be involved in getting over $100 billion out to improve roads and bridges in this country, making those investments in ports that we're seeing just how important ports are right now, enhancing our safety, doing the things we have to do on the ports and airports.

And I know every department in this administration is poised and ready to get the job done as soon as that bill gets to the president's desk so he can sign it, and we can get to work.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, the transportation secretary, about jerks on planes, because it's something that we seem to be seeing so much of. There was actually a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court in Colorado over an assault, an alleged assault on a flight attendant last week that resulted in her concussion.

You've brought up the possibility of a no fly list for these people who are perpetrating these attacks. Is it time for that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think every option needs to be on the table. I can't believe we even have to say this, but for God's sake, do not, do not disrespect, let alone harm, flight crews who, as the captain always says, are there for your safety.

Now, we've seen prosecutors stepping up to follow up. This is very important because there has to be that kind of accountability. And that's why these criminal complaints -- obviously, nothing about these stories is good news, but it is encouraging to see those steps being taken. Also, FAA stepping forward with enhanced attention and fines. I think there's going to be more information today on some of the latest numbers, perhaps seeing some progress. But it is absolutely unacceptable for there to ever be more than zero such incidents. And I do think that warrants further attention to anything else that could be done, not just within the Department of Transportation or FAA, but really partnering with other agencies, to make sure that flight crews are safe.

By the way, this is not just about protecting flight attendants who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, who are there for your safety, this is also protecting other passengers. It threatens the safety of an entire aircraft when one passenger behaves this one.

KEILAR: Sure it does. But I do want to ask you about this, because in this particular case, American Airlines says, look, this guy who was accused of this will never fly on another American flight again. But he has other options.

So you have a gentleman accused of punching a flight attendant with such force that her head hit a lavatory door, he had to be taped to a chair. He had plastic bindings put in place to restrain. Why should he be able to fly on a Delta flight? Is it time for the federal government to step in?

BUTTIGIEG: Again, I think this is a very good question. Obviously, that raises a lot of legal and other issues that have to be looked at, but they should be looked at, and now is the time. I've heard the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee propose an approach that I think some of the flight attendant unions are interested in, where there is a shared database. You could also look at something more along the lines of the no-fly concept that is federally housed. It is not a step to be taken lightly, but I think every option has to be on the table because this is completely unacceptable.

KEILAR: We saw some big disruptions over the weekend when it came to American Airlines passengers. Let's listen to what they said.


ANKITKAPOOR, PASSENGER: It's annoying because it wasn't just American. It was Southwest a couple weeks ago. So, yes, they're cancelling up until we have to stay here. So, it kind of leaves us stranded for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incredibly frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American is awful, never flying with them again.


KEILAR: So, thousands of American Airlines flights, not too long ago, it was Southwest. It seems like air travel is a bit unreliable right now. What do you say to air travelers who think that? BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, air travel is still an extraordinary and safe way to get around, to see loved ones, and to do business. But we have seen another round of disruptions. Both of those slightly different stories but largely similar, in that they were caused by a weather event that happened in one of the worst possible places for that particular airline's network. And when that happens, so, for example, American very much based around Dallas-Ft. Worth area. When it happens in a certain place, that can ripple throughout the system because you have planes and people not in the right places at the right time.

You add to that the fact that the aviation sector, while it's made a remarkable recovery -- by the way, I would argue remarkable recovery largely thanks to the American rescue plan and the president's leadership -- they're still not staffed at the levels that you saw pre-pandemic, which means when you do have a blow, a disruption, a shock, it can be a little more vulnerable in terms of that rippling through the system.


Now, it is up to the airlines to find new and more nimble ways to be ready to respond to those disruptions, and they're doing that. They're doing remarkable work, but, obviously, incredibly frustrating if you are left in the lurch because of one of those weather-related disruptions.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly is. Secretary Buttigieg, thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you, great to be with you.

BERMAN: New revelations about what Actor Alec Baldwin said in the moments after the accidental shooting on the Rust film set and some of Cinematographer Haylna Hutchins' last words. The assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin is also breaking his silence.

CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now with the very latest. Laura?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: John, good morning. We're getting a vivid picture of exactly what played out on set that day, a truly horrific split-second moment. The L.A. times has new reporting out describing how Alec Baldwin was reporting for a shootout scene in that church when he hit the cinematographer, Haylna Hutchins.

After he fires, according to the L.A. Times, Baldwin immediately says, quote, what the f just happened? Someone on the crew apparently yells, medic, as everyone begins to huddle around her. A sound guy reportedly says, quote, oh, that was no good, to which she replies, as she's bleeding, no, that was not good. That was no good at all.

Still, the big unanswered question in this case, who exactly loaded the gun that Baldwin used with live ammunition? That's something that authorities are, of course, still looking at.

Meantime, the assistant director of the film, David Halls, who has had something of a checkered past with safety issues on movie sets before, is finally speaking out. As you mentioned, he's the one who actually handed Baldwin the gun that day. But his lawyer now says it was not her client's job to actually spin the drum of the gun and check it before passing it off to the actor, as authorities ultimately decide who is to blame here.

Halls says his thoughts are with all who knew and loved Haylna. In a statement to The New York Post yesterday, Halls went on to say that she was, quote, not just one of the most talented people I've worked with but also a friend. It is my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure that no one is harmed through the creative process again, John.

BERMAN: More information, new statements. But who put the bullet in the gun?

JARRETT: That's the question.

BERMAN: Laura Jarrett, thank you very much.

Are New York firefighters staging a vaccine sickout to protest the city's vaccine requirements? An FDNY union chief joins us next.

KEILAR: Plus, dramatic video of a fiery attack and one man's narrow escape from death.

And why Colin Kaepernick is comparing the NFL draft to a slave auction.



BERMAN: This morning, we're hearing that In-N-Out Burger is closing all five of its indoor dining rooms. This is where people eat inside of the actual restaurants. In Contra Costa County, California, they're doing it because of vaccine requirements. The burger chain says to sidestep the local health mandate, it will now only serve food for takeout at the drive-through window.

In total in this county, locations have been fined. All of their locations have been fined more than $2,000 in violation of the vaccination health order. In mid-October, In-N-Out's one and only restaurant in San Francisco was temporarily shut down over the mandate.

KEILAR: Hundreds of New York City firefighters are calling in sick this week as a COVID vaccine mandate for city employees goes into effect. Here's the mayor, Bill de Blasio.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): The folks who are out sick and really aren't sick, the folks who are faking it are doing immense disservice to the people of this city and to their fellow members in service, and we will make sure there are consequences for that.


KEILAR: And joining me now is an FDNY union leader, Jim McCarthy. He's the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Jim, thank you so much for being with us.

A sickout, estimated right now at 2,300. Isn't that irresponsible for firefighters to do that?

JAMES MCCARTHY, PRESIDENT, UNIFORMED FIRE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I don't agree with the mayor and his description of what is going on.

KEILAR: It's not as --

MCCARTHY: During this time --

KEILAR: Can I just be clear on that? So, you think there is not a sickout?

MCCARTHY: I am saying that there are people on medical leave, and our members have to see a doctor to be put on medic leave. So, a doctor put them on medic leave. They don't pick that themselves. Anybody that calls with an illness has to go to the medical office and see a doctor. So, a doctor puts each of our member on the medical leave.

KEILAR: But there is a sudden spike in people being on medical leave.

MCCARTHY: Yes. There is -- well, several factors involved. During this time of year, there is increase in fires because of the drop in the temperature and heating. So, there's been many multiple alarms around the city. So, fire fighting is a very dangerous business, and our guys give 110 percent when they're fighting fires.

Also, there's been an increase in vaccinations with the membership. And the city acknowledges that you get COVID symptoms when you get the vaccine. And they let the members take two or three days of medical leave when they get the vaccine. And as they're touting that our vaccine rates have increased, also those medical leave days increase as well, as a result.

KEILAR: There has been resistance among your union membership to the vaccine mandate for city employees. Tell us why you're fighting the mandate.


MCCARTHY: Well, first of all, we're pro-vaccine. We're just anti- mandate. And, really, what it comes down to is we've got eight days to comply with this mandate. The other unions had 30 days and even the corrections officers have until December 1st. Our membership only had eight days. And there's a lot of decisions to be made. If people decide they want to have a religious exemption or reasonable accommodation or a medical exemption, you have to apply for that and get affidavits to support that. And we didn't have time to do that.

And we also feel that it is a collective bargaining issue, that we need to negotiate the implementation of this mandate rather than it being imposed on us. We have due process, and they're going to be taking away our benefits and pensions and pay. We have to have due process to implement that system.

KEILAR: Okay. A few things there that I want to talk to you about, but you said you are pro-vaccine but anti-mandate. I mean, isn't that just like someone saying they are pro-condom but they're anti someone telling them they have to wear one? You see the issue here, right, the prophylactic, whatever it is, isn't just about the person who uses it, it's about the people around them who could be affected by them. And firefighters are forward-facing people who are dealing with a vulnerable population.

MCCARTHY: Yes, we are forward-facing, and we have been involved in this pandemic from the very beginning. From March of 2020, we were the first ones there. At the worst height of the pandemic in the world in New York City, New York City firefighters and fire officers went to the firehouses.

KEILAR: Yes. But address what I'm asking you here about, the problem of being pro-vaccine and anti-mandate.

MCCARTHY: Well, we have -- again, we've been exposed to the virus very early on. And many of our members got sick, and they have a high antibody rate much like the vaccine.

KEILAR: It's not the same. And I'm sure you're aware, Jim, that just today, the CDC is pointing to research that shows there is more consistent immunity when it comes to the vaccine than infection. That's not something you can hang your hat on.

MCCARTHY: Well, it's more consistent, but the OSHA has also come out with a standard that they can use vaccine and testing, which we've had previously to this mandate. And our infection rate from that testing, we had over 6,000 tests, less than one-half of 1 percent of our membership tested positive. That's lower than the public's rate. So, the vaccine and testing program that we had previously has been working, so there is no reason to impose this mandate, especially when it wasn't negotiated and collectively bargained.

KEILAR: But the mandate is working. 77 percent of FDNY now vaccinated, up from 58 percent before the mandate. It works.

MCCARTHY: People have gotten vaccinated, but it is because there're also guys with reasonable accommodation and there're memberships that -- some of our membership that retired rather than be forced to do this. It was a decision that only had eight days to make.

KEILAR: Okay. Let me ask you about that. Eight days, 30 days, whatever it is, whatever union, I don't understand that argument, when this vaccine has been available for almost a year for emergency responders.

MCCARTHY: Again, it's been available for a year.

KEILAR: Why does that matter, eight days, 30 days? MCCARTHY: Well, there is a lot to be made. Again, reasonable accommodations, religious exemptions, medical exemptions, they take time to file, as well as our retirement papers. If people decide that they're not going to take the vaccine and they want to retire, it takes a little bit of time for our membership to retire. Up to three months usually it takes. And right now, they're giving us eight days to make those decisions.

So, we need more time and they've given more time to other municipal unions. Again, as I pointed, the corrections officers have until December 1st. We had eight days to do this, and we need more time and collectively bargain the impact.

KEILAR: Jim, and I ask you this because you are a leader in your union, are you vaccinated?


KEILAR: So, you are vaccinated.

MCCARTHY: I am vaccinated, yes.

KEILAR: You took that personal choice. I think it's a shame that you are potentially losing fire firefighters because they won't take a shot, and the union is opposing the mandate that the numbers show work.

MCCARTHY: Again, we're not opposing the vaccination. We're opposing the mandate. And it is a shame that the mayor is imposing this on our membership, and we're losing people that have served the city faithfully for a very long time. They've been here during the COVID response last March, before that for Super Storm Sandy. Before that, they responded to Katrina. 20 years ago, they responded to the September 11th attacks. They were hailed as essential workers and cheered as first responders, and now we're treated as a number on a spreadsheet.

All we're looking for is to get an extension of time to alleviate all of those questions and litigate and negotiate our side of the mandate.


KEILAR: Yes. Look, it is a loss. I think it is even sadder that it is a self-inflicted one. Jim McCarthy, I really appreciate --