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Warning Signs For Dems As GOP Flips Dem Seat In Texas Special Election; Florida Is Only State Not To Preorder COVID Vaccines For Kids Under 5; New Mexico GOP Commission Refuses To Certify Primary Results. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 16, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans this week winning a House seat in a Texas district they haven't held in more than a century.

John Avlon with our reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Democrats should have gotten a wake-up call from results of the special election in Texas this week, but if recent history is any guide they'll just hit the snooze button.

Here's the deal. The 44th District in south Texas has been reliably blue -- nearly 85% Hispanic -- and just elected its first Republican in more than 150 years to Congress, Mayra Flores, who also becomes America's first Mexican-born congresswoman.

Now, this is big news, but let's separate the hype from the hard truths. The seat was open because the 5-term Democratic incumbent resigned. And this special election had turnout of less than 15% of the 2020 vote. Republicans spent over $1 million to win the seat while national Democrats essentially ignored the race, rationalizing that they'll win it back in November.

Now, that may be true but here's the really damning stat. Obama won the district by 23 points in 2012. Hillary Clinton cleared it by 22 points. But President Biden only won it by four points in 2020. And that's the dynamic that should be keeping Democrats up at night because it's more evidence that their demographics or destiny strategy isn't working out.

Now, take a look at south Texas in 2020 where the overwhelmingly Latino and traditionally Democrat Rio Grande Valley turned toward Trump. It blew a lot of minds given how much Trump demonized Mexican immigrants and illegal border crossings since his campaign kickoff seven years ago today.


DONALD TRUMP, THEN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.


AVLON: Now despite all that, Trump's 2020 campaign made gains among Hispanics nationally, winning 38% of the Hispanic vote to Biden's 59 -- a 10-point boost from 2016, doing better with Hispanic men and narrowing the gap among non-college-educated Hispanic voters.

Now get this. The point is not that Hispanics voted more Republican because of Donald Trump. It's that Hispanics voted more Republican in spite of Donald Trump's demagoguery.

There's a real opening for conservatives based in values and the economy with organized outreach. And the Hispanic votes are too diverse to be viewed as a monolith (PH). Nationalized identity politics won't work. Hispanic voters in Texas and Florida, for example, are fundamentally different in terms of their roots and lived experience in America.

For example, there are Tucano families that have been in the U.S. for more than 150 years. They're not an immigrant community in any sense. But it might surprise you to learn that in the 2020 census 76% of Hispanics in south Texas also identified as white, which skewers all sorts of assumptions, right?

At the same time, the Hispanic immigrant community in Florida hails primarily from a half-dozen countries, including Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. And given many of these countries' experience with communist oppression. it's no wonder that fashionable flirtations with Democratic socialism backfires very badly there.

But even that division -- and this is the larger point -- Hispanics are the largest minority group nationwide. And get this. According to Gallup, 52% of Hispanics initially identified as Independent voters in 2021. That's 10 points higher than the population overall. So you can see why Democrats' default to identity politics doesn't really work.


Here's more evidence. Polling shows that one in four Hispanic voters haven't even heard of the politically correct term Latinx and only 3% use it to describe themselves.

So, Hispanic voters aren't the other; they're us. All things being equal, they're going to make political decisions based on economic issues -- jobs, and gas, and groceries -- like everyone else. They live near the border. They're going to care about border security. And if there's any overall differentiation it's that the Hispanic community is, in general, traditionally culturally conservative, focused on faith and family.

That's what Ronald Reagan conceded decades ago when he cracked that Hispanics are conservative, they just don't know it yet. And that's what George W. Bush bet on as a former border state governor. But none of this means that Republicans are in the catbird seat when

it comes to winning over Hispanic voters. It just means that this massive American community cannot be taken for granted by Democrats any longer. And that's actually really healthy for our democracy because if we want to overcome the toxic tribalism in our politics we've got to have more racial and ethnic diversity across partisan lines.

And that's your reality check.

KEILAR: John Avlon, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now is CNN political commentator Van Jones. Van, let's go back to where that all started from John right there -- this Texas special election that Democrats lost. How much of a warning sign should that be for the Democratic Party?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I -- look, I -- everything he said is 100% correct and I think it should be a big warning sign. The Republican Party has a strategy now. Well, frankly, there are four parties in the country. There's the progressives, there's the salesmen Democrats, there's the Republican conservatives, and MAGA.

MAGA has a strategy. It's not just Trump, it's Trumpism. And what is Trumpism? Trumpism is attempting to become the party of the multiracial working class. That shocks liberals. They can't imagine that.

But what they are doing is they are moving right on culture -- that's true. CRT is bad, trans is bad, but they call it parents' right. So they're marketing their rightward move on culture really well.

But they're also moving left on economics. MAGA sounds like Bernie Sanders when they're talking about American terrorists, when they talk about American jobs. When they're going after big tech companies.

And so, by moving left on culture, right on -- I mean, left on economics and right on culture, that's appealing to working-class voters, including Black and brown voters. Democrats don't see this coming. We overreact to the cultural moves, underreact to the economic appeal, and you're seeing it pay off for MAGA.

And so, this is a very important moment. John Avlon -- that should be seen by everybody 1,000 times. If Democrats want working-class Black and working-class Latino voters we're going to have to change our strategy and respond to the MAGA threat.

KEILAR: So what does that look like, changing the strategy?

JONES: Well, listen, we're in danger of becoming a party of the very high and the very low. If you pull out the working class you've got people who are very well-educated and very well off. Those people talk funny.

Latinx -- I've never met a Latinx. I've never met a BIPOC. I've never met, you know, all this weird stuff that these highly educated people say. It's bizarre. Nobody talks that way at the barber shop and the nail salon, the grocery store, the community center. But that's how we talk now, so that's weird.

And then the people who are very low down on the economic ladder need a bunch of stuff. You wind up overpromising -- oh, we're going to give you reparations -- to people at the bottom of the economic ladder, talking weird to appeal to people at the top of the economic ladder, and the working class walks away from you. That is the danger we're facing.

BERMAN: Can I just ask because you've been on the show talking about this before. What kind of reaction do you get when you say this? What do hear from national Democrats?

JONES: Well, I think that there is a penalty you pay if you don't go along with the normal narrative. The normal narrative has been all Black and brown people hate racists. All Republicans are racist so all Black and brown voters are going to vote for Democrats. All of that doesn't make sense in the real world.

All Republicans are not racist, and Republican appeals are not just racial. Some of them are economic, some of them are cultural, and all Black and brown folks are not liberals.

Yes. Listen, Black and brown folks go to church a lot. If you want Black churchgoers and Latin Catholics to vote for Democrats you're going to have to do things that make it seem like maybe get those issues, which are primarily economic issues, family issues, bread and butter issues -- bread and butter issues. And if you're going to talk about the cultural issues you've got to talk about it in a way that resonates with a working mom or working dad and not just folks who went to college.

KEILAR: One of the most interesting rivalries shaping up on the right when it comes to a potential 2024 race is between former President Trump and current governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis just had an interesting moment where billionaire Elon Musk talked about potentially supporting him for president, and this is how DeSantis responded.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Elon Musk -- so what I would say -- you know, I'm focused on 2022. But with Elon Musk, what I would say is I welcome support from African Americans. What can I say?



KEILAR: That might have gone over the head of some people --


KEILAR: -- but he was -- he's from South Africa. JONES: Yes. Well, people -- again, people assume that everybody from Africa is Black. Elon Musk is a white South African who came to the United States, so he's kind of teasing.

But what he's really doing is keeping that story in the news cycle. This guy is very, very smart about keeping us talking about him -- DeSantis. And when the richest guy in the world says something about you and then you say something funny it keeps his name in the -- in the news cycle. This guy has learned a lot from Donald Trump.

BERMAN: That's exactly what I thought when I saw that right there. Very interesting.

Van Jones, great to have you here. Nice to see you.

JONES: Great to be here.

BERMAN: So, the election fraud conspiracies of 2020 making a comeback in New Mexico's primary. The secretary of state joins us ahead.

KEILAR: And CNN is live on the ground in Billings, Montana with a closer look at this -- these historic flooding that we're seeing there -- a 500-year event.



BERMAN: So, children as young as six months old may soon be able to get a COVID vaccine, as Brianna Keilar can tell you. Advisers to the FDA voted unanimously yesterday to recommend authorizing COVID vaccines for most kids under five. The White House says shots could begin as early as next week.

In Florida, though, Florida is the only state not to preorder doses, missing a key deadline. The Florida Department of Health released a statement, writing, quote, "...states do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies."

Here with us, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, what's -- what do you think of Florida not preordering the vaccine?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation is Florida is a state that has some of the highest transmission in the country. They have a surgeon general who has issued statements saying children should not get vaccinated. And if you look at older age groups, they've tracked much lower than the rest of the country in terms of getting people vaccinated. So, it's potentially an issue.

We do know if you overall look at the sentiment or attitudes towards this vaccine it goes down in terms of likelihood of taking it as people get younger -- as children get younger. So, for example, in the under age 5 group, about -- there's about 18% of people who say they would go out and get this right away. Twenty-seven percent, definitely not. And everyone else somewhere in the middle there. So, Florida's likely to track lower than that.

But there's about a million kids under the age of 5 in Florida. Even if you look at those numbers and say there's going to be a few hundred thousand parents maybe who want this are going to -- they're going to be able to get it ultimately. Their pediatrician will just have to call and order it. They're just not going to have it sort of in place ahead of time.

But it's sort of a reflection of the fact that Florida still has a lot of transmission. Kids are less likely to get sick but they can get sick.

And I keep reminding people close to 500 children have died of COVID under the age of 5. Four hundred eighty children under the age of 5 have died of COVID. If I told you that number alone and nothing else about this pandemic you would say hey, we've got to do something about this. But I think because it's been conflated with comparisons to death rates in older age groups people have continuously minimized this, and that's a problem.

KEILAR: Yes, and it's so frustrating just to not have that in place. As someone who -- I gave COVID to my 3-year-old waiting for this vaccine. I'm ready for this thing.

The FDA advisers' vote, Sanjay -- it doesn't mean that the vaccines are approved for children under 5 just yet. So what is happening next, here.

GUPTA: Yes. So, you mentioned this. It was a unanimous decision, which I think is really important because they weigh all these different factors, including likelihood of someone getting sick. It's a risk-benefit analysis. And what they found was that the risk of the vaccine in this age group was really low and the benefits -- again, we realize that kids are less likely to get sick, but the benefits were significant.

So what happens next is the FDA makes a final decision. They're quite likely to take the recommendation of their advisers. Then it will go to the CDC, which makes a formal recommendation one way or the other. That probably happens this weekend. It'll happen fast.

And then by next week -- you know, as you mentioned, a lot of these vaccines are already in place ahead of time so people will be able to go get the vaccines probably sometime early next week.

BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much for this. And Brianna Keilar, thanks to you even more I think with this news.

KEILAR: Sure do. Sure do.

GUPTA: You got it.

KEILAR: The New Mexico Supreme Court is ordering local officials in rural Otero County to certify the June 7 primary results no later than tomorrow.

The Otero County Commission refused the certification of the election results earlier this week saying that it had concerns related to Dominion vote-counting machines. Those are baseless concerns. They offered no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns. I know that sounds familiar.

Joining me now is New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is a Democrat. Thank you so much for being with us.

This deadline that is set for tomorrow -- what are you expecting? Are you expecting this is going to come and go, or are you expecting that they will comply?

MAGGIE TOULOUSE OLIVER (D), NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF STATE (via Webex by Cisco): Well, I mean, we're in completely uncharted territory here so I guess anything could happen, and something crazy has already happened.


But I do certainly hope that the County Commission, having sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the state, will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court. That they will decide to do the right thing and do their jobs and certify these election results so the votes of the voters in Otero County can be officially counted and added to the tally.

KEILAR: What would happen, let's say, if you look towards Nevada where there is a secretary of state candidate who might be more inclined not to act as you are acting, right? Let's say they were secretary of state. How would this be playing out then in New Mexico if you -- look, regardless of what party you're in but just about what you think about objections as they are happening in this county, what -- how would this be playing out then in New Mexico?

OLIVER: It's a really important question to be asking. And, of course, because it doesn't just apply to the situation that we're experiencing currently here in New Mexico, it has the potential to apply in other counties in other states, in other jurisdictions across the country as we're heading into the November general election this year as well as the 2024 all-important election down the road.

And so, this is why it's so important for election officials and election administrators, regardless of party, to act in a way that is consistent with the law and the highest ethics. And look, at the end of the day, this County Commission -- I'm a Democrat, they're Republicans. That really doesn't matter to me. They're certifying the results for candidates who are by and large Republicans. I want those candidates to get on the ballot and those votes to count.

But to your point, if we see these election deniers coming into offices that are charged with this important public trust, we need to be really concerned about that around the ability to have fair elections. KEILAR: The objections of these county officials have to do with

these Dominion voting machine concerns, which have been completely disproven.

What does that say to you that you're having to sue people over these residual concerns about something that has been disproven?

OLIVER: It's incredibly frustrating. What it says to me is the mis and disinformation that was generated over a -- one particular candidate's loss in an election in order to justify that loss or to try to fight back against that loss obviously is continuing to have ramifications. It's continuing to echo throughout the election sphere. Yes, those issues have been -- or those concerns have been debunked.

We spend a lot of time, at least I do here in New Mexico trying to explain what we do to make sure the machines are accurate and safe. And obviously, folks who want to believe the lies and mis and disinformation do not even retain new information about why the machines work well and accurately. So this is a huge challenge.

KEILAR: Yes. And look, we know this is a small county but huge implications here. And we appreciate you being with us. Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the Secretary of State of New Mexico, thank you.

OLIVER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Next we'll be joined by January 6 Committee member Congressman Jamie Raskin.

BERMAN: What his committee plans to ask a key adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence during today's hearing. We have exclusive new CNN reporting.






KEILAR: Queen B. is back. Music subscription company Tidal tweeting out a photo overnight revealing the title and release date of Beyonce's seventh studio album. "Renaissance" will be released July 29. The post also shows act one, possibly referencing plans for Beyonce to release even more music.

The superstar also removed her profile pictures from her four social media pages, sending fans into a complete and utter meltdown.


AQUA, MUSICAL GROUP: Singing "Barbie Girl."


KEILAR: The "Barbie" movie -- yes, that's a thing. It's revealed that it's got a first lookout here at an uber-tan, uber-blonde, uber-Abbie, if I do say so, Ryan Gosling as Ken. Gosling set to star alongside Margot Robbie, who is playing the iconic doll. The movie will be released next July.

And it seems as if Kim Kardashian may have damaged a piece of history.


MARILYN MONROE, ACTRESS: Singing "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy.


KEILAR: One month after Kim Kardashian wore Marilyn Monroe's iconic gown to the Met Gala, it appears to be permanently damaged. In before and after photos the dress, which Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in, now has pulled seams, a destroyed zipper, and missing buttons and sequins.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, June 16. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And we have a flurry of new developments overnight surrounding the insurrection on January 6, and these developments coming just hours before the next hearing from the January 6 Committee gets underway.

The New York Times reports previously undisclosed e-mails from Trump lawyer John Eastman claiming he was aware of a quote "heated fight" among Supreme Court justices over whether to take up a case on the 2020 election.

But even more than that, the Times reports a response from another pro-Trump lawyer.