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Brad Raffensperger is Interviewed about his Book; Democrats Face Reckoning; Democrats in Grave Danger for 2022. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 03, 2021 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:30:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As much as anything this morning.

I want to ask you about your book because you write extensively about the phone call where the former president called you. It was, what, an hour and 10 minutes phone call where he tried to convince you, you say, to find votes that would throw the election to Georgia to him. And you write that you feel it was a threat. What do you mean?

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, what I mean and what I -- the reason I wrote the book, there were not 11,800 votes to find. He ever single allegation that was made, we ran that down. And I respectfully responded to him in that phone call, telling him that there weren't 5,000 or 10,000 dead people, there was less than five. There weren't thousands of felons that voted. There was less than 74.

But people need to understand that -- I wrote the book to set the record straight. Twenty-eight thousand Georgians skipped the president ballot. They didn't vote for anyone for the presidential ballot and yet they voted down ballot. Senator David Purdue got 20,000 more votes than President Trump did in metro Atlanta and Athens and the Republican congressman, they got 33,000 more votes than President Trump. Those are data points. Those are facts. And so my book is fact- based and it helps people explain, particularly on my side of the aisle, that, yes, we're disappointed but President Trump came up short in Georgia. So I wanted to set the record straight.

BERMAN: But to be clear, because in interviews you've said this, you took the phone call as a threat.

RAFFENSPERGER: I understand what he wanted at the end of the day, but it -- there was nothing there there because he didn't have 11,800 votes to win.

BERMAN: But if he did threaten you, as you have said in interviews, isn't that against the law?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I'm an engineer. I'm not a lawyer. And I let the lawyers handle that. As an engineer, I'm pretty good at counting numbers. And that's why I knew we had the facts on our side.

BERMAN: You also talk about integrity. Jody Hice, a Republican congressman, is running against you to be the next secretary of state in Georgia. You had, you say, the integrity to stand up to Donald Trump when he tried to get you to find Republican votes that weren't there. Do you think Jody Hice would have that same integrity?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, it's very interesting because I sent them a 10- page letter to the congressman, really rebutting every single one of these allegations. He certified his own race with the same machines and the same ballots and those, obviously, were good enough for him. And yet for the presidential race, he said he couldn't certify that. He's a double-minded person. And as a pastor, he really should know better.

BERMAN: So would he have gone and found the votes that Donald Trump was asking you to find?

RAFFENSPERGER: He wouldn't have found them. And if he tried that, I think he would be in a whole heap of trouble right now.

BERMAN: But you do think he would have tried? That's my question.

RAFFENSPERGER: I question his integrity, yes, because he really has done things. In fact, I put another example in the book. He said that the machines down in Ware County, a small county in south Georgia, flipped votes. We proved that it didn't. The election director did. But he never rescinded his tweet. He just left it out there. And that's not a person of integrity.

People are looking for people of integrity to make the hard decisions because it's based on the fact, it's based on law, and that's what I did. I followed our Constitution and I followed the law.

And as a Republican, yes, I'm disappointed, but my job is to make sure we have fair and honest elections.

And when we have positive, aspirational messages, like we had in Virginia, Republicans win. And they win big.

BERMAN: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, we appreciate you being with us this morning.

RAFFENSPERGER: Good morning.

BERMAN: Stand by because we are expecting them to count more votes in New Jersey. As we sit here right now, I'm looking very carefully. Just 60 -- well, that's Virginia. Just 61 votes separate the two candidates in New Jersey. Plus, we're going to talk about Virginia and the reckoning that Democrats now face there. And, Americans growing pessimistic about the economy.

This is CNN's special live coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:38:05]

BERMAN: So, President Biden remarking on what a different situation Americans face this fall in terms of the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The significant reason why prices are up is because of COVID affecting the supply chain.

You look to this coming Thanksgiving. You know, we're in a situation where we find that we are in a very different circumstance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now with what Americans are feeling this morning.

Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, John, exit polls in Virginia show that the economy is top of mind for voters. You know, it comes amid more evidence Americans are starting to sour on the economy a bit because of one thing in particular, inflation.

I want you to look at these numbers. A new AP poll finds just 35 percent of Americans now call the national economy good. That's down from 45 percent in September and similar to the beginning of the year, before vaccines were widely available to most Americans. And 65 percent of American say the economy is in poor shape. Again, that's a brand-new AP poll.

Blame the weekly pinch in the pocketbook. Inflation, a persistent problem here, especially heading toward Thanksgiving. Beef and veal prices are up nearly 18 percent since last September. Look at pork and eggs, 12 percent more. Apples, almost 8 percent more. Chicken, cost up 6 percent. And driving to grandma's house, more expensive. Gas prices still rising. The national average for a gallon of gas, $3.40. That's up from $2.12 last year.

Another way to think about this, you know, on a weekly basis, take an average 12 gallon tank. Every time you fill up it's $15 more than it was last year. That is something that voters and consumers feel. And it's a frequent real feel indicator of their personal economy.

What's interesting here, you guys, is that corporate profits are singing right now. And the stock market is at record highs again. So the consumer is starting to be worried about inflation. The Dow is above 36,000 for the first time in history.

[06:40:04]

Once again, there's this main street/Wall Street disconnect. And these polls are telling us that inflation is a real problem for so many consumers.

What's interesting in those Virginia exit polls, John and Brianna, is that the majority of Virginians said the economy was fine, right? So if issue number one, the economy, is good, but we know that that inflation factor is something that every week they feel and hits pocketbooks.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes, as we say, the stock market feeling a record high, just like me.

All right, Christine Romans, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: What does that mean for this broadcast?

OK, so what can Democrats take away from these numbers after what's really a reconning that they have experienced overnight here.

With us now, Nina Turner, former Democrat and Ohio state senator -- pardon me, Democrat and former Ohio state senator, and co-chair of Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign. Also Jonathan Kott with us, former senior adviser to Senator Joe Manchin.

You know, I'm curious, starting with you, Nina, just, you know, and I'm curious to see what the difference might be between your answers here. What is the takeaway for Democrats coming out of this night?

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: That they need to do things that change the material conditions of people so that they feel it right now in real time. And that has not happened. And that's certainly had an impact in Virginia. Democrats nationalized the race more than Republicans. They really laid it on local issues. Even issues that were used as scare tactics, such as critical race theory.

But there were -- was some anxiety. A lot of reports that there were some -- there was some anxiety in Virginia over education. Critical race theory was one of those things. And then you had the Republican running on increasing the salaries of teachers, of all things.

So, overall, though, the national impacts of the economy, the national impacts of people not feeling that change has really come, that their material conditions have changed for the better definitely impacted the Virginia race. And Democrats need to get a clue. They need to get a clue really, really quickly and do something or Virginia's race is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen in 2022.

BERMAN: We do have some breaking news I want to deliver to people now because we've been counting these votes in New Jersey as they come in.

KEILAR: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: We have a change in the margin separating the new candidates there. It was 61 votes before.

KEILAR: What is it now?

BERMAN: Sixty-five. Sixty-five votes separating.

KEILAR: But the -- but now they're -- the -- you know, now we're seeing some changes, though.

BERMAN: We're seeing some changes, which is why you have to stand by. You can't go anywhere. KEILAR: So it's going to pick up.

BERMAN: All right, Jonathan, what do you see as the main takeaway?

JONATHAN KOTT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO SEN. JOE MANCHIN: I think Nina's correct, Democrats need to show that they can do something. We should have passed an infrastructure bill that the Senate passed in August. It would have given Terry McAuliffe a chance to go out and run on actual issues that impact voter's lives. He could have stood in front of highways, railways, waterways that have been cleaned for kids, you know, climate projects. He could have done all of that in the month of August and distracted some voters from the nonsensical issues that Republicans raised. I think that would have been the best thing for him. Democrats ran that we were effective and could govern responsibly. That was a chance to show it and we just didn't.

KEILAR: What is Joe Manchin thinking today?

KOTT: I think Joe Manchin is probably thinking we should have passed this because, as a former governor, he knows that these projects help people in the state and really impact their daily lives. It could have helped lower gas prices. It could have helped raise wages. It could have helped shorten drive times. It would have been beneficial to voters to see Terry McAuliffe, Mark Warren and a bunch of Democratic congressman standing with him all throughout the state, in August and September. That would have really helped. And I think Manchin knows Terry McAuliffe pretty well as former governor and he knows what works.

BERMAN: Nina, what lessons should Democrats take from how Glenn Youngkin used social issues?

TURNER: That we definitely got -- we have to deal with it. We cannot ignore it. And that Republicans continue to use the same playbook that they always use, distract, deter and lie. And that is what they're doing, especially on the critical race theory argument, which is a nonargument. It is not being taught in k through 12 schools. But let my not digress.

They have to give -- Democrats have to give people something they can feel. You know, there's a song by En Vogue, give them something they can feel. That's what this is. It is not rocket science. It is changing the material conditions, talking about the issues that matter the most to the people that you want to serve. And, oh, by the way, John, the -- McAuliffe talked about Trump more than his Republican competition. Stop making this about Donald J. Trump and make this about the needs of the people in the states that you are running in. Make it about how you are going to make their lives better right now in real time. If not, again, this is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen. And we -- we can run, but we definitely cannot hide.

KEILAR: Nina, we always appreciate song references on this show, especially En Vogue.

[06:45:05] But, you know, Berman, as he's been going through the map, has been pointing out the difference between how Ralph Northam performed and how Terry McAuliffe performed. And, look, metro centers aside, when you look at these rural areas, McAuliffe lost a lot of ground.

So, what does that tell Democrats?

TURNER: I don't -- I -- definitely out of touch, not taking care of the urban centers or the rural areas. And the fact that there was an article written by Jonathan Capehart (ph), you know, that really laid it down about how they were expecting the black community to deliver for them once again, yet, meanwhile, back in D.C. we can't get the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed. Back in D.C., we can't get the George Floyd Policing Act passed. Back in D.C., the For the People Act has not passed.

So voting rights is important to people all across the board, but it's particularly important to African-Americans. We all understand this because of the historic nature how African-Americans came to gain their right to vote through a fight of blood, sweat and tears.

And so you can take any host of issues, even right now on the social and climate bill, the reconciliation bill. We've got people haggling about whether or not we're going to give people paid family leave. People are suffering in this country and Democrats are going to have to do more than tweet about it, talk about it. They have to be about it.

And when you have people who have that much power, they control all the levers of power and they still cannot get something done to deliver for the people so that they know in real time that the Democrats are standing up for them. They've got a little bit of time, Brianna, not a whole lot. They need to get it done right now.

BERMAN: Nina Turner, Jonathan Kott, two Democrats on different sides of the spectrum who are in broad agreement, I would say, this morning.

KEILAR: Yes.

BERMAN: Thank you both for being with us.

There are a lot of lessons being learned or being discussed this morning. You know who I want to hear from?

KEILAR: Michael Smerconish?

BERMAN: Michael Smerconish.

KEILAR: How did I know that?

BERMAN: He's coming up shortly to tell us what he thinks about this.

KEILAR: Plus, moments from now we're going to see the first children getting vaccine shots after the CDC officially approved them for kids five to 11. And Dr. Anthony Fauci will join us live.

BERMAN: Wouldn't it be awesome if Smerconish was giving kids shots. We can combine --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:51:34]

KEILAR: Our special, live coverage continuing now as Republicans win big in Virginia. And at this point, just 65 votes are separating candidates -- the candidates for governor in New Jersey. That's been changing a little. So let's keep an eye on that as we bring in CNN's host of Smerconish, Michael Smerconish.

Michael, we've been waiting for this moment to talk to you about this. I just wonder what your biggest takeaway is of the night.

MICHEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": Well, Brianna, I want to congratulate Joe Manchin for winning both Virginia and New Jersey last night. That's my takeaway. I think that everything that he said Monday expressing his concerns about the price tab for the Build Back Better plan have been vindicated. I don't think it was rocket science for him to put a finger to the wind to see which way the public was going on this when you had 71 percent telling NBC that the country was headed in the wrong direction, 32 percent telling ABC that they didn't think that the Build Back Better plan would help them. NPR and Marist (ph), 44 percent of Democrats saying that they thought that there should be someone, other than Joe Biden, leading the 2024 ticket. All of that data and anecdotally what I hear from people delivering a radio program 15 hours a week, this program was just never fully sold. And I think it was emblematic of the type of results that you saw in both states regardless of who should win in New Jersey.

One final thought, if I might. I think there's a tendency for candidates to think that they were always the winner, right? That Trump was the winner in 2016 when really that was a referendum on Hillary Clinton. Or 2020, Joe Biden thinking that he was the victor when really it was a referendum on Donald Trump. So you don't want to confuse whether you've been given a mandate. And the bottom line is this, Terry McAuliffe would have benefited had they passed the $1.2 trillion stimulus. And that's what they should do now.

BERMAN: They're beating up Terry McAuliffe, or Terry McAuliffe's being beaten up for losing this race which Joe Biden won by 10 points one year ago. But the fact is, as we sit here, there's actually a bigger swing in New Jersey. A swing of 16 points. Phil Murphy still poised probably to -- to take a lead soon we think. But the fact that you see these vote swings in two places tell you there's something national going on here, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Yes, and I think, John, that the real battle ground to be parsed is what's happening in suburbia because it's suburbia that caused Donald Trump to lose in 2020 and Joe Biden to win. And I think it will be suburbia that will determine the course in the midterm elections, as well as what's to come in 2024. But they need to get a win, right? I mean it's just not enough for Democrats to be the party opposite Donald Trump.

And the layup, it would seem, would be to take that which was passed with the support of 19 Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, and start rebuilding roads and bridges and broadband before Americans go to vote in the midterm election. It's just so painfully obvious and, frankly, it has been.

KEILAR: So let's -- let's talk about that because in addition to that bill, there's the Build Back Better bill, $1.75 billion at this point in time. And Joe Manchin has made it very clear, he is not onboard at this point.

BERMAN: Yet.

KEILAR: Yet, right. So he's spoken positively about it. He's not on board. And now you have conversations ongoing in the wake of these election results, Michael. And I wonder if you think that's going to affect anything, the outcome, maybe the position, the bargaining position of a Joe Manchin or a Kyrsten Sinema.

[06:55:07]

SMERCONISH: I think that the hand held by Senators Sinema and Manchin has just been strengthened. And I'd be surprised if everyone else held the position that they were in preceding the returns of last night. In other words, I have to think that there are some folks getting weak- kneed out there who perhaps here to fore were ready to sign onto the $1.75 trillion.

And also, don't forget that when Joe Manchin raises concerns about the costs of that bill and how much it will take to pay for it, he's not spit-balling. He cited data from Warden Analytics (ph) at Penn, which said it's going to cost twice the amount that's been put on it. It's been poorly sold. Take the win and then come back to fight another day. Piecemeal for what's in the $1.75 trillion. That would be my recommendation.

BERMAN: We have some data points now on what has been called the defund the police movement. There were a couple of votes they dealt tangentially with it. In Minnesota, there was a vote to replace the department with a public safety department. It wouldn't do away with law enforcement. But it lost, right, it lost.

In New York City, Eric Adams has been elected to be the next mayor there, Eric Adams, a former police officer who won the primary with a more police platform than any of the other Democrats.

And then in Buffalo, it appears that the Democratic socialist is losing there and the mayor, who is now a write-in candidate, who was more -- seen as more police is winning there. So what does this tell us about the so-called defund the police movement, Michael?

SMERCONISH: Well, it always had a horrible title. I mean -- I mean I think that those who were proponents of -- of defunding the police need to engage Frank Luntz and come up with something, as he calls the estate tax the death tax, which was then the death knell for that argument. Nobody wants to defund the police. When you actually get into it, and understand the sum and substance is to say, let's reorganize the resources that respond to certain types of tragedies. Frankly, it makes perfect sense to me. But am I going to be supported if I'm a politician of something that -- that sounds as if, you know, you're capping the cops? Hell no. so I'm not surprised at all given the title of what they call it, that in and of itself is a loser at the ballot box.

KEILAR: Michael's title has many syllables, though. They've got to come up with something perhaps but not defund the police, right? We'll see.

SMERCONISH: Right. Absolutely. Yes, no doubt. There are serious issues there that need addressing.

BERMAN: Michael Smerconish, an energized Smerconish this morning. As always, we're thrilled to see you, my friend. Thanks for waking up for us.

SMERCONISH: See you, guys. Thank you.

BERMAN: So, the vote total in New Jersey changing every minute. Sixty- five votes separate the two candidates there. A live report from the ground where they are counting, just ahead.

KEILAR: And, next, how the two newest Supreme Court justices could play a big role today in deciding the future of the Second Amendment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:00:00]

KEILAR: The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments today in the biggest gun rights case in more than a decade. And this centers on a century-old provision in New York that requires.