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Ohio Senate Candidates Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance have Second Debate; Utah Incumbent Republican Senator Mike Lee Running for Reelection against Former Republican Turned Independent Evan McMullin; Georgia Incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp Running against Democratic Challenger Stacey Abrams; Some See Enthusiasm Gap in Favor of Republican Candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake over Democratic Candidate Katie Hobbs; Russia Continues Attacks on Ukrainian Civilian Infrastructure; Radioactive Waste Found at School More than 22X Normal Amount; Taylor Greene Says She's Spoken with McCarthy About Probing Dems. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 08:00   ET



TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Violence. We're tired of it, J.D.

J.D. VANCE, (R) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: Here's exactly what happens when the media and people like Tim Ryan accuse me of engaging the great replacement theory. I'll tell you exactly what happens, Tim. What happens is my own children, my biracial children, get attacked by scumbags online and in person because you are so desperate for political power that you'll accuse me, the father of three beautiful biracial babies, of engaging in racism.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: What did you think of that moment?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sounds like two guys from Ohio talking, right? So, they clearly -- there is no love lost between these two. This has been a testy campaign throughout. This is their second debate. Their first debate was no less contentious.

One of the things that I think is important to see here is what they're each doing is trying to paint the other as extreme as possible. Tim Ryan was just trying to say J.D. Vance equals Marjorie Taylor Greene. That's his approach here, as they're both trying to court the vast middle of Ohio, which is how you would win an Ohio election. And, of course, on the other side, Vance does the same and tries to portray Ryan as completely leftwing extremism from his party.

Part of what the dynamic you're seeing here, you noted, or John noted at the top, this is a state Donald Trump won twice by eight or nine points.

KEILAR: It's a pretty red place.

CHALIAN: It's been trending red, no doubt about that. It's a pretty red state. And there is such a spending disadvantage on the airwaves right now. Since Labor Day, J.D. Vance and his outside group allies I think have been on the air with $33 million worth of ads versus Tim Ryan and his outside group of allies, $16 million, since Labor Day. So Tim Ryan is not sort of getting the kind of investment from Democrats to even up the score here, at least on the airwaves, and that's why he's trying to make so much use of these debate moments.

KEILAR: J.D. Vance, to your point, he's trying to make him as left as he can make him, he's really trying to tie Tim Ryan to Nancy Pelosi. Here is that moment.


TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: J.D., you keep talking about Nancy Pelosi. If you want to run against Nancy Pelosi, move back to San Francisco and run against Nancy Pelosi.

J.D. VANCE, (R) OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: You vote with her 100 percent of the time, so you can't run from the policies that she has supported.


KEILAR: Tim Ryan's retort is to say you're not actually an Ohioan or you moved away or whatnot. You're not a true Ohioan. How does that play?

CHALIAN: I think at this stage of the game that kind of like carpetbagger argument probably is not the one at the end of the day that is going to win over these folks who are in people's living rooms, they're engaged every day in this campaign. And so it is not like Ohioans are entirely discounting J.D. Vance's roots to the state. Obviously, he wrote that book, "Hillbilly Elegy," it's how he came to fame here. But again, Ryan's mission here is to make Vance as unacceptable as possible and trying to sort of remind people that he left Ohio behind for a huge swath of his career, has been part of the narrative that he's been trying to build around him.

KEILAR: Fascinating race in Utah. Incumbent Senator Mike Lee obviously going for reelection. He's being challenged by independent Evan McMullin who does have the backing of a lot of Democrats. But he's trying to make this about January 6th. Mike Lee has been in text messages, we have seen these with Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to then President Trump, talking about the fake elector scheme. And this is where you see a lot of this -- the biggest debate moments they had turning on. Here it is.


SEN. MIKE LEE, (R-UT): Yes, there were people who behaved very badly on that day. I was not one of them. I was one of the people trying to dismantle this situation, trying to stop it from happening, because I believe in this document written by the hands of wisemen raised up by God to that very purpose, I followed it, I studied it, and I defended it to a t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll have 30 seconds here in a moment.

LEE: For you to suggest otherwise looks right in the face of truth and in the face of the constitution. How dare you, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McMullin, you have 30 seconds rebuttal.

EVAN MCMULLIN, (I) UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Lee has been doing this thing with his pocket Constitution for the last several years. Senator Lee, it is not a prop. It is not a prop. If you're committed to the Constitution, then stand up for our free and fair elections, stand up for the peaceful transfer of power.


KEILAR: What are you watching in this race?

CHALIAN: It's amazing that we're talking about a Utah Senate race at all, right?

KEILAR: Of course it is.

CHALIAN: And there is no Democratic candidate. The Democrats didn't field a Democrat, because McMullin, a former Republican, is running as an independent, and Democrats figured that may be the best shot to dethrone Mike Lee from his seat. Have at it, Evan McMullin. Here is the reality. These two guys agree on probably most public policy issues, but this January 6th issue is the dividing line, it is the rationale for McMullin's candidacy, a former CIA officer, as you know.


And so this is what the campaign is about, is whether or not Mike Lee, when you noticed through the text messages with Mark Meadows, through his actions to try and challenge the Electoral College results initially, all of that is exactly what McMullin is citing as to why your argument you're a constitutional conservative doesn't hold water. It is a very Republican state, some polling out there has shown it closer than folks would expect. But I still think in this political environment, this is probably an uphill battle for McMullin.

KEILAR: So interesting to watch, though, that we are even talking about it.

Then in Georgia, where you have this rematch, right, it is 2022, but 2018 is clearly not water under the bridge for Stacey Abrams and Governor Kemp here. This is a moment from the debate where Stacey Abrams is talking about Brian Kemp who was then secretary of state when he was initially running for governor, obviously, in control of elections, and here's what she said.


STACEY ABRAMS, (D) GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Brian Kemp was a secretary of state, and he has assiduously denied access to the right to vote. We know that the right to vote is the only way that we can make the changes we need in the state, the only way we can make the changes we need in this country, whether it's access to the right to an abortion, the ability to take care of the families, we need a governor who believes in the right to vote, and not in voter suppression, which is the hallmark of Brian Kemp's leadership.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP, (R) GEORGIA: Just this past may in our primaries, we again had record turnout in the Republican primary, in the Democratic primary. In Georgia, it's easy to vote and hard to cheat.


KEILAR: What are you thinking as you see that?

CHALIAN: Well, this is Stacey Abrams' entire being, right? This is her issue, her fight, this is her entire rational as a political candidate. So this is the issue that she is going to bring to him every day for the next three weeks. You noted the polling at the top here, that this -- Stacey Abrams is trailing a bit in the race. Again, 2018, she got real close, and that was an overwhelmingly Democratic year. This year is probably more of a Republican year given that it is Biden's first midterm, and here is a rematch, so it's hard to see how Stacey Abrams can recreate what she had with the sort of winds of a Democratic year. But we'll see.

We spoke here, early voting just got started, and I think with the new voting law in Georgia, this story of how people vote in Georgia is going to be with us for weeks to come. And remember, in the Senate race, if there is -- nobody gets to 50 percent plus one between Warnock and Walker, that goes to a runoff on December 6th. So we're going to be focused on Georgia and Georgia voters for quite some time.

KEILAR: We certainly will be, a lot of eyes on Georgia. David, great to have you here this morning, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So this morning, the Arizona race for governor is tight. But the enthusiasm gap seems to be getting bigger. CNN's Kyung Lah covering this race for us. Kyung, what are you seeing there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the clock is ticking down to Election Day, John, we are seeing an extraordinary matchup out west here, a Trump-like candidate versus a sitting secretary of state who is knocking down election lies. Two very different choices for voters, with two very different campaigns.


LAH: A typical campaign stop for Kari Lake, Republican nominee for Arizona governor.

KARI LAKE, (R) ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: Nobody call the fire department because I think we might be breaking a few codes.

LAH: The former TV anchor headlines raucous events.

CROWD: Kari! Kari! Kari!

LAH: For a base sparked by spectacle.


LAH: Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs.

HOBBS: One, two, three, perfect.

LAH: Strikes a more subdued and conventional path, hosting grassroots gatherings emphasizing issues such as defending democracy.

HOBBS: Democracy is on the line. Thanks so much for having me today.

LAH: A sharp contrast in styles, serious against sensational.

CHRISTINE JONES, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN: From the very first day she got in the race, Kari Lake had a movement. So I personally in a gubernatorial race in Arizona, I've never seen anything like this before.

LAH: Republican Christine Jones would know. She ran for Arizona governor eight years ago, but lost in the primary. She backs Kari Lake.

She calls herself Trump in a dress. Do you get that?

JONES: You do because I think she's not afraid to punch back. She has the "it" factor that some entertainers have. She has been able to deliver those punches with impunity.

LAH: Those punches include repeated lies about the 2020 election.

LAKE: We have this illegitimate President Biden. We will no longer accept rigged elections. Who's with me on that?

LAH: And following the Trump playbook, mocking her opponent.

LAKE: People are on to the fact that she's a coward.

And if she can't stand up and debate me, then she can't stand up against the cartels.

HOBBS: I'm not interested in being part of Kari Lake's spectacle or shouting match, and I'm going to keep taking my case directly to the voters.

LAH: Lake's campaign has pounced on that debate refusal, sending protesters to Hobbs' events dressed as chickens.


You see the chickens that are outside. She tapped into an energy base within the Republican Party. Are you able to tap into that same base among Democrats?

HOBBS: She's certainly secured a base. Those folks are probably not going to be convinced by what we're talking about, but we have -- we need to win the rest of them, and that's what we're focused on.

LAH: But even Democrats at Hobbs' events say in a race that is too close to call --

CINDY IKA, KATIE HOBBS SUPPORTER: I wish she would debate. But if we elect Kari Lake, we are all screwed. Screwed.

LAH: That sentiment about a Lake victory is not just among Democrats.


LAH: John Graham helps lead Republicans and independents for Katie Hobbs. He's fundraising against his own party, concerned about Lake's lies about the 2020 election and what her win could mean for 2024.

GRAHAM: I think that's especially the environment we're in right now nationally, that's mission critical to the future of our country.

LAH: What he's less worried about?

GRAHAM: I do get that with extremism comes people that are wanting to go to rallies and things like that. But I think that the reality is that while it's a lot of people in one spot, I think it's very few people compared to the population.


LAH (on camera): But the feeling on the ground, at least, is that it does appear that there is a bigger draw for what Lake is offering. And just a quick snapshot of what the national view of Arizona is, David Plouffe, the architect of Obama's 2008 presidential win, John, says that what he sees in Kari Lake is, quote, a plausible presidential candidate. John?

BERMAN: He's seen it before. All right, Kyung Lah for us, thank you so much, Kyung.

KEILAR: Russian strikes targeting infrastructure facilities in at least three Ukrainian cities including Kyiv where two workers were killed in an attack on an electrical power plant overnight. Electricity and the water supply are out in parts of the city. The mayor urging people who do have power and water to conserve. The death from Monday's drone attack has -- the death toll, I should say, from Monday's drone attack has now risen to five.

I want to bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward who is live for us in the Ukrainian capital with the very latest. Clarissa, what can you tell us?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, people here woke up again to the sound of air raid sirens and then a series of rockets that inflicted damage to two different critical infrastructure facilities here in Kyiv, also across the country. In at least three cities we know the Russians now really focusing in on the civilian infrastructure. Here in Kyiv, it was basically a power plant, an energy supply plant is the language that the Ukrainians are using, that was most seriously struck. At least two people were killed. And that's why you're seeing these power outages that have been particularly pronounced on the left bank, as it's called, of the city of Kyiv. The mayor says that they are working really hard to get those facilities and that power and that water pressure back up and running. But as you mentioned, they have been asking people to try to conserve where they possibly can.

But this is definitely, it feels like something of a new chapter, I would say, in this war. We heard in a tweet from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier that more than 30 percent now of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, Ukraine's energy plants, have been seriously damaged or destroyed as a result of this very specific targeting on this critical infrastructure. And that just in the gap -- or in the period of time from October 10th. And that's why you're seeing sort of increasing calls from Ukraine's leaders to the international community to provide more in the way of serious air defense systems, sophisticated air defense systems, that will help them try to combat this threat.

BERMAN: Clarissa, you said 30 percent of the energy infrastructure had been knocked out just since October 10th. How much is that being felt by the people? And how quickly are the Ukrainians able to get this stuff back up online?

WARD: What's incredible is the speed with which they do get stuff back online, whether it's a giant crater in the middle of the street as a result of a missile attack, which they will very quickly pave over and traffic will be moving within a matter of hours, or certainly within a day. So they do work very hard to get it back on track.

But there's no question that it is having an impact. And the fear is that that impact will only get more pronounced and become more challenging as you start to head into the winter. The Russians have a very cynical calculation here.


They want to freeze people. They want them to essentially find themselves with their morale so low, with limited power, with no water, with no heat, as we head into the winter, which, of course, in Ukraine is often very cold indeed, and so they're using this as a sort of a tactic, basically, not just to inflict pain, but to challenge the morale of the Ukrainian people.

So far, I can definitely tell you that that has not been effective. But, there is also at the same time no question that particularly here in Kyiv, which had been relatively quiet and calm for the last few months, the events of the last eight days have had an impact, and have changed the dynamic here, John.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It does seem to strengthen their resolve, even as they are terrorized anew there in Kyiv.

Clarissa, thank you for that report.

Investigations and impeachment, what Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene says she discussed with Kevin McCarthy.

Plus, a troubling revelation from the Oath Keepers' seditious conspiracy trial. Why prosecutors believe the group was building an arsenal.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: High levels of radioactive waste dating back to a creation of the first atomic bomb discovered at a Missouri elementary school. We're live at the school next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're talking cancer, leukemia, bone cancer, lung cancers.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We asked the Army Corps of Engineers to go inside our school building, to go on to the school playground and they refused.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the Army Corps of Engineers to come clean up the mess.

We should be thinking about fund-raisers and bake sales, but instead we're worrying about bomb waste.


BERMAN: So you can hear the concern there in the voices of parents as the this morning unacceptable levels of radioactive waste have been found at an elementary school in Missouri. This in a town that was part of the atomic weapons program in World War II.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus live at Jana Elementary School in Florissant, Missouri.

What's going on there, Adrienne?

BROADDUS: Well, John, you heard it, the parents are furious. They say this radioactive contamination found inside and near the outside play area is an unacceptable threat, they want it cleaned up immediately and they are demanding the federal government step in and help.

Here is more of what one mother had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My level of concern is, I mean, almost at peak level. It is everything we thought and we're concerned could be true. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are levels of radioactive elements on the

playground and inside the school in the kitchen, the boiler room and the library.


BROADDUS: So many may be wondering how did this happen, how did we get here? Here's a little bit of that back story. The school, Jana Elementary, and the homes in this community sit near a water way called Cold Water Creek.

And the author of the recent study said and I want to quote, he says that water way has been contaminated by leaking radioactive waste from disposal that began shortly after World War II and it hasn't been cleaned up.

Now, in August there was some additional testing where these independent environmentalists went inside of the school and collected samples. The most outstanding results showed the levels of radioactive lead found in the kindergarten playground were more than 22 times the expected background. The lead found on the basketball court was more than 12 times the expected background.

So you can see there is some concern here, and these parents will have a chance to voice their concern and hopefully get some answers from the school district tonight at the school board meeting, John.

KEILAR: The ramifications, Adrienne, of those numbers, I mean, how is the school responding here?

BROADDUS: So, the school did release a statement and parents that we have heard from say this just didn't happen overnight. In part, the school said: safety is always our top priority. And we are actively discussing the implications of the findings. The board of education will be consulting with attorneys and experts in this area of testing to determine the next steps. It is also important to underscore the other entities are getting involved as well -- Brianna.

BERMAN: All right. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much for this report. Parents there have to be deeply concerned.

So they're trying to effing kill me, a new book details the exchange between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Trump on January 6th.

The book's author Robert Draper joins us live next.

Plus --

KEILAR: That is a train colliding with an empty bus, splitting it in half.


[08:27:54] KEILAR: Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's been speaking with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about potentially investigating Democrats should Republicans win control of the House in November. That is according to an article in "The New York Times" magazine that is adapted from a new book by our next guest.

Greene says, quote: There is going to be a lot of investigations. She also says she thinks that Republicans should impeach President Biden.

Joining us now is "New York Times" magazine writer at large Robert Drape, and his new book called "Weapons of Mass Delusion" and it follows the rise of Greene and other members of Congress from the Trump right. It is out today. So you can pick that up.

This is an interesting moment here because she's talking about the future should Republicans win over the House, which obviously they stand a big chance of doing. What does that look like and what would a potential impeachment, what would that be for?

ROBERT DRAPER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Let's stipulate, first of all, Brianna, that Marjorie Taylor Greene has been offering articles of impeachment against Biden since literally his first whole day in office, so, for various un-sundry things.

What is clear is the Republican Party, should they retake the House, will be essentially the party of retribution. They will conduct investigations. They will strip Democrats of their committee seats, as much as Greene herself was stripped and Paul Gosar as well and there will be investigations ranging from Hunter Biden's laptop to whatever malfeasances they believe that various cabinet members committed.

That's the one thing that we do know a Republican majority will bring us in an otherwise divided government.

KEILAR: So, we're talking about it just getting really ugly?

DRAPER: Oh, yeah. I know this -- I mean, for all, of the objections that Greene's party has leveled against Democrats for what they feel have been punitive behavior, they intend to double down on the same kind of tactic.

KEILAR: And McCarthy, you know in a way has been forced to, for his own political preservation, but he's embraced her and others like her.

DRAPER: Absolutely. It is not just that he's trying to humor her and hope she will go away, he recognizes that Marjorie Taylor Greene is a representative of the MAGA base of the Republican Party, that if it is not in McCarthy's corner, he doesn't get to be speaker, period.

KEILAR: You also have some very interesting reporting.