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CNN Poll Shows Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Senate Races Tighten Ahead of Election Day; Teacher, Student Killed in Shooting at St. Louis School; Texas Ranger Under Investigation for Inaction During Uvalde Shooting. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 07:00   ET



GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): -- and you think you're going to run against -- I can see how you met get confused, but you're running for governor.


You're running for governor. And I have a question for you. You're running for governor. Why don't you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them, if you're re-elected you will serve a full four-year term as governor? Yes or no.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, listen, I know that Charlie is interested in talking about 2024 and Joe Biden, but I just want to make things very, very clear. The only worn-out, old donkey I'm looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. With me now, CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten. Harry, I want to start with you on these new CNN polls that came yesterday that focused primarily on Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two crucial Senate races there. What did they show?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. I just want to note that if I can ever make that sound effect that you made with the paperwork right there, my God, I might have a future in movies maybe being a sound effect guy.

Look, okay, choice for U.S. Senate among likely voters in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, the Democrat, we had him up by six points. In Wisconsin, we had Ron Johnson, a Republican of Wisconsin up by one. We call that no clear leader. It is well within the margin of error. I should note that both of these results are within margin of error, although the vast majority in polls in Pennsylvania are like ours, which so Fetterman with anywhere from, say, about a two to seven-point advantage.

BERMAN: What's the difference between these two races?

ENTEN: What is the difference between these races? Okay, let's go into the poll a little bit. We'll look at the net favorability ratings of the candidates. In Pennsylvania, the favorable minus unfavorable for John Fetterman, it's positive at 0.2. Look at Mehmet Oz's favorability rating. Look how far underwater he is, at minus 17 points.

Now, Joe Biden is at minus ten points but Mehmet Oz below Joe Biden, who is no popular man himself. And that seems to be the driving result in the Keystone State.

Look in Wisconsin. Our poll, if you look at the net favorability ratings, both Mandela Barnes and Ron Johnson are underwater at minus five and minus five. And that, I think, just gives you a good reason why that race is so tight. Both of the candidates just like rather equal.

BERMAN: Yes, a big difference in the likability gaps in those states.

All right, we did some governor polling also.

ENTEN: We did, in fact, do some governor polling in gubernatorial races. Okay. What do we got Michigan? Gretchen Whitmer, incumbent, up by six points, in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, the Democrat, look at that advantage, 15 points. That's a little bit on the higher end of the average but of the most polling there shows Josh Shapiro well ahead of Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate who, of course, is an election denier. And Wisconsin, Tony Evers up by two but, again, that is well within the margin of error. We signify that as no clear leader.

BERMAN: What's interesting in Pennsylvania is you can how far ahead Shapiro is by the fact there are Republican groups running ads comparing Shapiro with the other Democrat running, John Fetterman, for Senate right now. And so you can see the distinction there.

And that gets to the other issue here, Harry, which is that there are some people who say Republicans have an issue of candidate quality in some of these races.

ENTEN: Yes. So, again, let's take a look at the net fave ratings. In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, plus six points, Dixon, the Republican, minus ten points. Tudor Dixon, again, another election denier. In Pennsylvania, look at this gap on the net favorability ratings. Look how well liked Josh Shapiro is, plus 27 points, Doug Mastriano nearly falling off the screen here, minus 19 points on the net favorability rating. I don't know if I've ever seen such a large gap in a swing state like Pennsylania.

BERMAN: That's like you and me. That's the difference between like me and you right here?

ENTEN: I'd like to think it's like you and me, but either way.

And then take a look at Wisconsin here, Tony Evers, plus three, Tim Michels -- boy, I can't get my pronunciation right, but I got it right -- minus three. That's the closest of the races. And that I think that's why that's also the closest of the races that we have going on here. BERMAN: Look quickly down ballot of some secretary of state races.

ENTEN: Yes, let's take a look. We would never talk about secretary of state races, but, of course, in some of these states, they can control elections. Benson, the Democratic incumbent right here, up by four points. Doug La Follette, the Democrat who has been secretary of state the vast of both of our lives up by one, again, no clear leader in both of these races.

Wisconsin is an interesting state because, right now, the secretary of state does not, in fact, control elections. It's actually a state board of elections that controls it, but both the Democrat and the Republican candidates for secretary of state, in fact, I want to change that, give more power to the secretary of state. And these are races that I think a lot us will be watching in all of these key swing states.

BERMAN: I just want to point out one thing as we head into the Pennsylvania debate is tonight. As you look at the stage, one of the things that these candidates will try to do is, as you at these numbers, Oz will try to make himself more likable and maybe John Fetterman less likable.

ENTEN: I think that's right. And Oz will try and sort of connect Fetterman to Biden. That, I think, is something else that we'll be watching.

BERMAN: These favorability numbers give us a guide of how to watch tonight.

Harry Enten, the highest favorability among any data reporter in America, great to see you this morning.


ENTEN: I think I'm the only senior data reporter here. So, I don't know.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Even so, even so, he would have highest favorability.

Okay. So, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will not be testifying before an Atlanta area grand jury as planned, at least not yet anyway. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has temporarily blocked a lower court ordering requiring Graham's testimony as part of a special grand jury investigation into those efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state.

Joining us now to explain all of this is CNN's Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic. So, tell me, Joan, exactly what Clarence Thomas did here.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure. And your emphasis on temporary is right because this was sort of an administration action, just pausing everything for right now while the Supreme Court actually considers what's before it in this request from Senator Graham.

This goes back to an effort by a Fulton County grand jury in Georgia that's investigating efforts to thwart the election back in 2020 there. And there's been a subpoena issued for Senator Graham and he does not want to have to testify.

So, lower courts have said he does, but he went to the Supreme Court and what Justice Thomas did was just freeze things temporarily because the court has heard from Senator Graham trying to have the Supreme Court intervene but it's Clarence Thomas has given the Fulton County prosecutor legal team until Thursday to respond to that.

So, this just gives a little bit breathing room and I should say, Brianna, that Senator Graham was not scheduled to testify about whatever communications he had with Georgia officials until November 17th.

KEILAR: Do we still think we may hear from him?

BISKUPIC: Yes, there is very much that possibility. Senator Graham is saying that whatever communications he had with Georgia officials after the election had to do with his legislative responsibilities and that he should be covered by a legislative privilege under the Constitution speech and debate clause. He's saying that he shouldn't be questioning the venue of a grand jury because this is some sort of a bit of a fact-finding mission for him. It's not that he was trying to coerce any Georgia officials at all. But lower courts say is at least appear and you can answer some questions and maybe not others.

KEILAR: Yes. It was felt, I think, by those officials as pressure, which is important. That's very important to note in all of this. Joan, thank you for that.

BERMAN: This morning, the two victims killed in a shooting at a St. Louis high school, a teacher and a student, have been identified. Police say the gunman was armed with a long gun and multiple high- capacity magazines when he entered the school. He was killed in a shootout with police.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live in St. Louis this morning. Adrienne, what have we learned about the victims?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning the 61- year-old teacher was beloved by everyone at the school, and even folks here in the community. She taught health and physical education.

We spoke with two of her former students who came back to create a tribute for her. One of those students shared his last conversation with that teacher, and she was cracking jokes. Another student said she always made the students feel loved and smiled. Listen in.


ALEXIS ALLEN-BROWN, FORMER STUDENT OF TEACHER KILLED IN SHOOTING: She was kindhearted. She was sweet. She always made you laugh, even when it was times you weren't trying to laugh. She was just straight to the heart and it was just, there was no funny business. She made you feel real inside the class and out. She made you feel like he was human and she was just so sweet.


BROADDUS: And her students are saying they saw her heart on display during that shooting. Multiple students have said she died trying to save her students in that classroom.

Her family released statement to CNN saying their mother loved to teach and that she was looking forward to retirement in a few years.

We've also learned more about the 15-year-old who died. Her dance friends told me she was looking forward to dressing up for Halloween and celebrating her 16th birthday next month, John.

BERMAN: Her dance friends looking forward to celebrating her 16th birthday. Adrienne Broaddus in St. Louis, thank you very much.

KEILAR: First on CNN, a new international survey finds most people in seven countries, including the United States, say they feel socially connected as COVID-19 precautions ease.

For more on these new findings, CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Tara Narula is with us now. This is pretty interesting. Tell us how people are feeling.

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we know that human connection is wired into our DNA, right? It really helps us thrive. It's important for well-being and actually some people think doctors should prescribing social connection.

So, in this it study, it was basically put on by Gallup and Meta, the parent company for Facebook, they surveyed 2,000 individuals over the age 15 in seven different countries and they looked for how socially connected they were in the wake of a pandemic.


And the data was actually promising and hopeful. It showed that, in general, most people reported feeling socially connected. In fact, you can see Egypt and France really around 80 percent of people reporting that. America fell in the middle, around 70 percent, with really Mexico and Brazil at the bottom.

They also found one out of three really reported that they did need to seek help or support at some point, often or somewhat in the past months. So, clearly, obviously, there's a need for us to be connected but it does look like the pandemic did not disrupt that, that we are able to adapt as a species and continue with that important connection.

KEILAR: So, what do people's social connections look like?

NARULA: Well, there's really the how and the who. So, in terms of the how, in-person connection seem to be most likely globally. And in America, you can see the statistic around 70 percent was in-person, 68 percent via text and 59 percent via phone. Email was around 30 percent and actually online video gaming was around 12 percent.

In terms of other types of connections in other parts of the world, social media, we talk about a lot. About one-third globally did use social media everywhere, except India, actually. But, in fact, they reported that if they use social media, they also used other forms of connection. So, it did not seem to replace that human in-person connection.

KEILAR: What sort of factors are we talking about that are related to feeling connected to other people?

NARULA: So, what they found was being married, having more financially or being more -- having more income was associated with being less lonely. In addition, if you were older, so those who were over 65 and had a bigger social or a bigger friend group, that tended to be associated with feeling less lonely. Interestingly, whether you had a job or not did not impact it. And, finally, if you tended to feel like people were untrustworthy, and also mean, that was associated with feeling more lonely.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, that makes a lot of sense. Doesn't it? Dr. Narula, obviously, this is so important, connection is good medicine. Thank you for that.

NARULA: Correct.

KEILAR: Sources tell CNN say a member of the elite Texas rangers is under investigation for his failure to take action during the Uvalde school shooting. We have new reporting.

BERMAN: And Pennsylvania Senate Candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz will face-off in the first and only debate tonight, the stakes very high for the entire country.




SENATE CANDIDATE MEHMET OZ (R-PA): Political leaders like me need to be able to speak to voters, and which I do. Town halls continually and I'll continue to do that. John Fetterman does neither of those two things, doesn't speak to the voters on his campaign trail, doesn't speak to the press while he's campaigning and he won't speak to me.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): He literally doesn't have a plan other than to talk, and that's been a hallmark of his campaign. Just not any plans, just cheap photo ops or just empty kinds of arguments.


BERMAN: The race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania going down to the wire with the Democrat, John Fetterman, maintaining a pretty razor thin lead over the Republican, Mehmet Oz. And tonight, they will face- off in their first and only debate of the campaign just two weeks to go until Election Day.

With me now, Scott Jennings, CNN Political Commentator, and Margaret Tale, CNN Political Analyst and Managing Editor at Axios.

I want you guys to kind of give me a cheat sheet for how these candidates who've had a long time to prepare for this one and only debate, what they want or need to do when they hit that stage tonight, Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Number one, for Dr. Oz, it's to connect Fetterman to Joe Biden. I mean, if you believe that Joe Biden is unpopular and if you believe he -- 45 percent approval, which is what we have at the CNN poll, is the high point of where he could possibly be, then you want to connect your Democratic opponent to Biden and just say, look, regardless of what you think about me, at the end of the day, do you think full Democratic control has been good for the country and good for you personally? That would be number one for us.

The other thing he's got to do is be pretty delicate, I think, about the way he handles Fetterman, because Oz does have persistent image issues. And you don't want to come off looking like a jerk or bully in this system that's going to be, frankly, a little weird for what we're used to seeing in debates on these races. So, I think it's connect to Biden, likability, and that's the top two protocols for him.

BERMAN: Margaret?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, I think there are basically three things I'm watching here for tonight. One is expectations versus performance. The second is issues. And the third is what Scott was just talked about, that kind of where do public sympathies lie.

And on the expectations issue, John Fetterman actually has the advantage because everyone is saying, what if he stumbles, what if his auditory processing and the closed captions doesn't work and it's awkward. So, if he does pretty well, he will sort of have the upper hand on expectations.

Issues, I think, is the thing that we're talking about the least but it could be most important. Crime has been this very successful message for Republicans to take against Democrats in closing weeks and some of Fetterman's positions, some of his alignments kind of laid over the crime concerns, especially in Philadelphia, could be a little problematic.

But I think Scott is right. Oz is a doctor, and you want a doctor being a patient advocate. If he comes across as mean when we've had very good education in the last few weeks, doctors telling us that auditory processing issues are not cognitive impairment, if Oz talks about that in a sympathetic way, he may win public sentiment. If he comes across as bullying, it may hurt him a lot. So, there's a lot at stake here tonight.

BERMAN: And, Scott, you've been on campaigns before.


How much have these candidates been preparing for this?

JENNINGS: Well, these candidates have been preparing for a long time. I mean, we're getting pretty late in the game here. It took Fetterman a while to agree to this. And this is a late debate. So, they've had ample time.

And if you're Fetterman, one issue that Margaret raised that he's going to really have to defend on I'm sure repeatedly tonight is crime. You know Dr. Oz, that's where the campaign has reeled in Fetterman. They're going to throw up macro crime issues but also these micro issues. What did you do in your own record? And so having to absorb that and then rebut it and knowing one false move here on crime, it could be closing ad of the Oz campaign, if you double down, say, on something that's proven to be unpopular on that front.

So, it is a bit of a high-wire act in a close race. You say something tonight that gives the other side 10 or 12 great seconds for a closing ad, you'll have to wear it.

BERMAN: Then you have 10 or 12 days of agony if you're that candidate.

Margaret, on the House side, Sean Patrick Maloney, who is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, finds himself in a race for survival in his own congressional district. You don't see this for people who chair campaign committees because they usually figure out a way to avoid this type of tight race. What's going on here?

TALEV: Yes. And you have seen a loss in a general election in more than 40 years. So, it really is -- it's like a once in a lifetime event if it happens.

What's going on is that redistricting really hit New York Democrats, which is ironic, because you think of New York as a Democratic stronghold. But you remember drama in the primary season where Maloney decided to run in the same district as Mondaire Jones and then cost Mondaire Jones, a rising progressive, his spot.

And so there's no love lost between Maloney and a fair number of progressives in his own party and now this just shows how close that race is, perhaps what a difficult year it is for Democrats, potentially. So, this is totally personal and it's totally psychological. Republicans now poured like $6 or $7 million into this, even if they don't succeed, just getting under the chairman's skin, putting him on the line, creates such a psychological message.

BERMAN: Good for the economy, at least for media companies who are getting those commercials. Scott, I actually want to ask about the Ron DeSantis/Charlie Crist debate but I want to ask about it in a different way, a different audience who may have been watched, potential presidential Republican primary opponents to Ron DeSantis. If you are Mike Pompeo, if you are Mike Pence, if you are Donald J. Trump, what did you see on that stage from Ron DeSantis? What are you noticing about a candidate, maybe his strengths and maybe his vulnerabilities?

JENNINGS: Well, strengths are -- DeSantis continues to show persistently good instincts. He has good instincts on when to pull off a line, what issues to go in on. He dropped a good line on Crist last night about retiring an old donkey, which was pretty good. DeSantis is not known as like a back slapper or jovial guy but he is incisive and does have these instincts about knowing when to go in for the kill. So, if I were sort of treating like an NFL game, if I were watching game footage, that's what you're looking for out of DeSantis in a debate, right, and just knowing when to go right for the jugular, which he did on Crist last night.

BERMAN: Any weaknesses?

JENNINGS: Look, if you talk to people who are around him, the weaknesses are he doesn't come off as the warmest of characters, but I'm not sure that's all that important for large debate settings. I think in a multicandidate debate in a Republican primary for president, you basically are looking for one moment. Can I create a single moment that then dominates the news cycle afterwards? Obviously, he showed that he could do that last night in a one-on-one with Crist.

BERMAN: All right. Scott Jennings nice to see you, Margaret Talev, nice to see you.

TALEV: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Another officer who was accused of failing to act during the Uvalde school shooting is under investigation. What he told investigators.

KEILAR: And the teenager accused of killing four students in a Michigan high school shooting pleading guilty to all charges against him. We'll speak to the Oakland County prosecutors who calls it a landmark plea.



BERMAN: A Texas range has been suspended and is being investigated for failing to act during the Uvalde school massacre. Christopher Kindell is one of seven Department of Public Safety Officers who have been referred for further investigation.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is with me now. Shimon, what do we know about his actions on the scene? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And one of two that was suspended. The other that was one suspended, Juan Maldonado, has been fired by DPS.

With this particular individual, what happens is during the investigation as the DPS and Texas rangers are doing this investigation of the police response, they questioned him about his actions that day. And, really, it was more focused on what he didn't do than what he was supposed to do, which is set up a command post, set up a team to breach and get inside the classroom.

And what they found was that he basically was just on his cell phone for almost the entire time that he was on-scene talking to supervisors and his bosses at DPS, he claims trying to coordinate some kind of response.

But in all of this, while all of this is happening, there are kids calling. There's a kid calling 911 to say they're inside the classroom. And at one point, you can hear gunshots on body camera footage while he's in the hallway. And he's basically offering to negotiate still at that point with the gunman.

So, all of this raising all kinds of questions for his basically being there, not taking action, not doing more to get a team inside this room, get the DPS officers, get the other police officers together and try and get inside that classroom.

In the end, when you look at this, they were there so long, for so, so long, we know those 77 minutes when they should have taken action. And this is something that certainly the supervisors at DPS are very concerned about, the fact that he didn't take any kind of action.

BERMAN: What repercussions could he be facing?

PROKUPECZ: So, he's suspended. And like the other DPS officer, Sergeant Juan Maldonado, who was fired, he, too, could potentially be fired. We may learn his fate this week. The DPS director, Steve McCraw, is going to appear before the public safety commission in Texas on Thursday.