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New Day Saturday

More Than 125,000 In U.S. Hospitals With COVID At Start Of 2021; Trump Stokes Division In GOP Amid Doomed Bid To Overturn Election; Senate Defies Trump, Votes To Override Veto Of Defense Bill; Fewer Than Three Million Vaccines Administered So Far In U.S.; California Starts New Year With Record COVID-19 Death Tolls; Judge Dismisses Gohmert Lawsuit Asking Pence To Interfere In Electoral College Count; Congress Set To Certify Joe Biden's Election Win January 6th. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 02, 2021 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The bill on reconsideration is passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): A bipartisan majority surpassing the 2/3 threshold needed in the senate to override Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They had 81 votes. That means the house and the senate by wide bipartisan measures have told the President, no dice on this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The U.S. has started 2021 with some disturbing pandemic figures. Now country has surpassed the 20 million mark of coronavirus cases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The new, faster-spreading coronavirus variant now detected in Colorado, California, maybe Florida. LA County officials say hospitals are, "on the brink of catastrophe".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): It's like treading water from 100 feet below the surface. You're already drowning but you have to keep trying because that's what you can do.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to wish you a good morning on this Saturday, January 2nd, 2021. I'm going to say it again, 2021 because it just feels good, John Avlon.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: It does feel good to say that. We are in a New Year and I am in today for Victor Blackwell who's enjoying a day off. This New Year brings new reminders though of what the U.S. has yet to overcome in the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 348,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in this country.

And the U.S. just topped 20 million cases yesterday with more than 125,000 people starting 2021 in the hospital fighting for their lives. The big concern now is that a more easily transmitted variant of COVID-19 first seen in the U.K., now the strain has now been detected in California, Colorado, Florida.

PAUL: And even as the U.S. vaccine rollout is lagging, President Trump is focusing on lashing out with 18 days left in office. A federal judge yesterday threw out that doomed effort by one of his allies to interfere in the Electoral College count. And the senate really came together in a big bipartisan way and hit him with the first veto override of his presidency.

AVLON: That's right. There's a lot to get to this morning. But let's begin with the pandemic. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us. Polo the U.S. is starting off 2021 with a lot of pandemic uncertainty.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And a lot of hospitalizations as well, John. Looking at about 125,000 people still in the hospital right now fighting COVID, of course, those numbers continue to climb. And then you also consider that prominent IHME model that now is predicting we could potentially see up to 110,000 people lose their lives due to COVID in the next four weeks alone.


SANDOVAL: Friday brought a New Year, and with it another tragic milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic with the U.S. were surpassing 20 million total confirmed infections. It's a reminder that the virus will keep ravaging parts of the country until ongoing vaccine efforts help to slow or stop the spread. And there lies the challenge. Health officials in several states report difficulties in planning a vaccine rollout with no federal mandate in place dictating how to administer the vaccine.

The result has been a flawed distribution leaving distribution figures far below the Trump administration's goal. Utah Senator, Mitt Romney, a Republican critic of the President, called that inexcusable. Texas report the state has only distributed 1/3 of the vaccine it's received as of Friday and some hospitals are trying to overcome the logistical challenges of administering the shot says Michigan, ER Dr. Rob Davidson.

ROB DAVIDSON, WEST MICHIGAN ER PHYSICIAN: Well, there have been a few hiccups, you know they're trying to get as many front line workers, front line health care workers vaccinated as possible, we're doing a little bit of a change up and how they are doing the scheduling so we can get more people and now reaching out to clinics outside of the hospital to get those folks vaccinated and then working with the local health departments on the next level for people over 75.

SANDOVAL: Data from the CDC shows New York is over performing on the vaccination front. Friday figure shows 32 percent of New York's allotted vaccine doses have already been given. That is well above the national average of 23 percent shots administered. But the real crisis point remains out West in California which set a new daily record for COVID-19 deaths on Friday, as one state official warned that California's on the brink of catastrophe. This New Year's Eve crowd gathered in LA County protesting masks and limits on religious gatherings. DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: It's so disheartening to see to some of this people that feel over privileged having parties when so many people are struggling. I just want to take a moment to thank who I consider the unsung heroes of this pandemic.


And these are the average Americans who have sacrificed their family time and their jobs by doing the right thing day in and day out, by wearing masks and distancing.

SANDOVAL: Dr. George Rodriguez tells CNN some medical facilities in his region are using hospital gift shops and their chapels to care for their patients. This weekend health officials will be watching for more reported case of a fast moving COVID-19 variant.

KRISTIAN G. ANDERSEN, SCRIPPS RESEARCH DEPARTMENT OF IMMUNOLOGY AND MICROBIOLOGY: It's still the same virus. It's not different in that, it's just there's a new lineage here may be transmitting a little better.

SANDOVAL: Earlier research suggests the new variant spreads the same way, meaning social distancing and masks offer the best protection.

You should include Florida on the lists of states that appear to be over performing in terms of administering those vaccines, at least when you compare it to where other states are. But of course it does seem to be consensus of among states that virtually are not where we want to be.

There is that call by many states, John and Christi, to try to have some kind of a federal mandate when it comes to who gets that vaccine and where the hope is that those number would actually begin to increase in terms of the vaccination and then of and then, of course, infections and hospitalizations potentially decrease with that.


PAUL: We certainly hope for all of that. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

AVLON: Absolutely. Now two tough losses for the President, yesterday a federal judge tossing a lawsuit to attempting to overthrow the results of the election while the senate voted to override President Trump's veto of the Defense Authorization Act.

PAUL: CNN's Sarah Westwood is at the White House for us this morning, Sarah, good morning to you and Happy New Year. So let's talk about the GOP first of all, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas Several Arizona Republicans as well trying to force Vice President Mike Pence to choose Donald Trump as the next President. What did the Judge say, about this and have we gotten any reaction from Vice President Pence yet?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Yes, this judge in the Eastern District of Texas threw out the case (inaudible) and some other Arizona Republicans brought by saying they did not have standing to bring this lawsuit, which as you mentioned focused on the Vice President's role in certifying the results of the Electoral College. We had not heard from Pence in the days after this lawsuit was first filed, Pence has been keeping a relatively low profile as President Trump continues to challenge the results of the election.

But he did respond in a filing asking the court to reject the case saying - acknowledging that it is not within his power to throw out the Electoral College results, that he's simply there to certify them as a formality when he does so on January 6th. Now the Department of Justice had given the White House a heads up that they were about to weigh in and recommend that the case be tossed. We know President Trump has been furious at what he perceives as the Justice Department's inaction on his baseless claims of voter fraud.

And this was not the only blow that was dealt to the President this week. Another one came in the form of congress issuing its first veto override of his presidency when they voted to reject his veto of the defense spending bill, Trump had vetoed it because Republicans and Democrats together resisted his efforts to include broad sided big tech in the defense spending bill.

They said it wasn't related and this was too important a bill to play politics with. The President Trump made his displeasure known on twitter writing a Republican senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of section 230 which gives unlimited power to big tech companies, pathetic.

Now they want to give people ravaged by the China virus $600 rather than $2,000 which they so desperately need. Not fair or smart. On that last point senate Republicans have also been resisting the President's efforts to raise the amount in individual relief checks to $2,000. So the President has not been having much luck in forcing the Republicans to do his bidding in the waning days of his presidency.

AVLON: No, Sarah he certainly hasn't. But in response of course, the President seems to be going after senate GOP folks who have been his allies on 99 percent of his agenda, like Senator John Thune, railing against Georgia Governor Kemp. What is behind all of this? And give us the latest state of play.

WESTWOOD: Yes. John, there's clear frustration from President Trump that more Republicans have not been leaning in to his efforts to undermine the election results. Senator John Thune is a great example of someone who has felt the wrath of the President after defending the idea of democracy and saying that the Electoral College results should stand in the senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also discouraged senators from challenging those election results.

But Senator Josh Hawley has come out and leading the charge in the senate saying he will object to the election results on Wednesday forcing the house and the senate to take a vote on those election results. Dozens and dozens of other House Republicans are also going to be joining that effort which is sure to fail but will be a symbolic show to Trump and his supporters that they are joining his push to fight the elections. Christi and John.


AVLON: Sarah Westwood at the White House. Thank you very much. And Sarah just said that this Wednesday congress is expected to vote to certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

PAUL: Yes. Isn't coming without its own challenges, CNN's Phil Mattingly has more of that.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As the 116th congress comes to an end, well, the President with a pretty sharp rebuke from both Republicans and Democrats. Now that doesn't mean the relations with congress are officially over. In fact, Republicans are more than 140 in the house, at least one in the United States senate, perhaps more, are lining up behind the President this time around when it comes to trying to overthrow or overturn the U.S. election. Let's make something very, very clear here.

On January 6th when a joint session of congress convenes to count the electors, Joe Biden will once again be confirmed to be the next President of the United States of America. How long it takes to actually get to that point? Well, that's where the current dynamics are officially throwing things into question. Those Republicans when paired with a senator if they raise an objection to any of the state of electors that are been counted that would require both chambers to then recess, have a debate of two hours and have a vote on those objections.

That vote will fail however many times it occurs, however many times it happens, it will fail. Democrats control the House. Democrats have a decent size majority in the senate and the numbers of Republicans in the senate are acknowledging reality, that Joe Biden is the next President of United State.

So tangibly all these objections mean is that it's going to be a very long day. Politically it's become a big, big issue inside the Republican Party, particularly with Republican Senator, now Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made very clear this was not a pathway he wanted Republicans to go down.

Just think of the dynamics. You either vote for reality, that Joe Biden is the next President of the United States, or you vote for President Trump? Well, that's against reality and obviously there are political implications there and political incentives, incentives that Republicans who don't want this fight certainly didn't want to have to vote on and yet it looks like that's exactly what's going to happen, just another page in these final weeks for President Trump. What it means for the party, what it means for the President himself, what it means for the senators and congressmen that will still be in office when he leaves, they'll be trying to figure everything out.

The bottom line is this Joe Biden will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20th. What happens to President Trump and what happens to the party that he currently oversees, well, that very much remains an open question, Phil Mattingly, CNN, Washington. AVLON: All right. Joining me now to discuss is Olivia Nuzzi, the Washington Correspondent for New York Magazine and one of the best chroniclers of the kayos of the Trump era. Olivia, it's good to see you. Good morning. With Trump railing against reality attacking GOP allies, it brings to me nothing so much as those surreal final days of the Nixon administration. You have been able to get in the room and talk to folks thought out this administration. What are they saying about the President's temper and state of mind?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, you know, people have been talking about the President's mood for as long as he has been a political force and his mood is often not great. He's often fuming is the word that people tend to use when they describe him, but since election night, basically since Arizona was called by Fox News people around the President, people who work in the administration have told me that they have been outright avoiding him sometimes.

They don't want to be around him. It's no longer worth it. Whatever the personal benefits of enduring verbal abuse or having an argument with the President before, they no longer exist because he is being further and further removed from power and I imagine that even when it comes to lawmakers who right now are gesturing towards his supporters, are trying to appease him, people like Josh Hawley but as the President moves further and further away from his influence, that they will stop doing things like that and they will move into the future and stop trying to appeal to a base that he can no longer excite with a tweet and get to do his bidding for him.

AVLON: But nonetheless, I mean despite this lame duck status, CNN is reporting that upward of 140 House Republicans could sign on to this assault democracy amendment attempt to overturn the Electoral College counting which will not succeed. It is both sure to fail and completely hostile to the Democratic traditions. Why are they showing such filthy to a lame duck if he's increasingly seen as impotent politically?

NUZZI: Well, I don't think there's any down side. If you are a Republican lawmaker from a certain type of district or from certain type of state, I don't think that there's any down side in your mind right now in doing that. At best, you appease the President and you avoid in his final days and turning his focus on you with an angry tweet or making you look bad in front of people in your district who support him.

And at worse, what? You know people have very short memories, if the architects if Iraq war can come on TV and be treated politely in our society now, I think probably think not unfairly that they're not going to be held accountable long-term.


And that people are not going to really care about what they did now six months from now or even remember 12 months from now. So I think it's a very cynical calculation but that's nothing new in Washington. AVLON: No, it certainly isn't but that's stunning. That they figure that it's in short term easier to sort of assault the Democratic traditions and that the American people will have a memory of a firefly. One person who is not in that kind of position of a luxury is Mike Pence. I mean here's somebody who has done everything he could to support the President uncritically, with clearly his own ambitions going forward. But that relationship must be at a straining; if not a breaking point right isn't that.

NUZZI: Right. I mean, but we have seen this, time and time again Mike Pence put in a very difficult situation and managing to kind of get by without having to say anything that harms his relationship with the President, without having to do anything that harms his relationship with the President. Obviously, that's a bit different this week.

But I don't think we're going to see an outright feud between the Vice President and the President in these final days of the administration. I think that would tremendously unlikely and it will go against everything that we know to be true about Mike Pence's personality and kind of his anti-conflict way of existing in this administration for that to happen.

AVLON: But, you know, apparently the President doesn't understand why he can't just refuse to certify the election.

NUZZI: Right. The rules of how this all work seems to be news to the President. I mean obviously he has no interest in legislating. He's never had any interest in government, but we are still getting reports. The fact that in the final weeks of this administration we're still getting reports about him learning for the first time how Washington works, how the administration works, it is pretty stunning even if it's not surprising at this point.

AVLON: I want to end on one thing. You were quoted along the (inaudible) Atlantic about journalism in the post Trump era. You have written this craziest train from these early days, daily beast through New York magazine, what is...

NUZZI: Did you have anything to do with that?

AVLON: A little bit. A little bit. I still remember your reaction to covering someone with a twitter handle @realdonaldtrump, but what are your expectations for how journalism changes in the Biden administration about, how journalist spoke on covering governing with the same attention that the latest scandals that have all our attention and exhausted us and obsessed us over last four years.

NUZZI: Well, look I think journalists are biased towards conflict. And so I think there will always be a focus on various conflicts and various drama, but obviously the biggest drama queen of all is leaving Washington and that will change things a bit. And I think that hopefully - my hope is that there will be kind of a return to creativity and a return to people being able to pay attention to things that are not just so obvious.

Everything with Trump, it sucks up all the oxygen. It's in your face. It doesn't take any particular skill to point out - from my perspective as a writer to point out the absurdity of it all. And I think there will be a bit of a return to maybe boredom on the part of the press corps and maybe that's a good thing. With not having to report on someone's mood every day will lead to more substantive journalism.

AVLON: Covering governing. Actually, people trying to solve problems let see if that actually happens. Olivia Nuzzi, thank you very much and Happy New Year.

NUZZI: Happy New Year.

PAUL: So we are in day two of 2021, and the U.S. is short of where the government had hoped vaccinations would be by this time last year. What's going wrong? What needs to happen to fix this, we're talking to an expert on vaccination programs with those questions and more.

AVLON: And coming up, a story that's being repeated across the country, the uncertainty facing millions of unemployed Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get so emotional because I'm overwhelmed and I'm like - I don't know how to live anymore.




PAUL: Twenty-one minutes past the hour right now. And the U.S. is behind schedule on vaccinations. Now Dr. Fauci said yesterday the U.S. will not delay the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine in order to administer more initial shots. Claire Hannan Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Mangers is with us now. Claire it's good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


PAUL: Of course. I want to get to this. Just about 2 million vaccines we know have been administered out of 10 million, 10 to 12 million. I think so, in fact, 20 percent if I understand it.

HANNAN: Right.

PAUL: Of the shots that have been given in the last couple of weeks. What needs to happen to expedite the process?

HANNAN: Well, I don't think its caution for alarm at this point. I think there are a number of contributing factors to that. States are setting aside doses into the long-term care facility program. A little over 2 million doses there, and that's just getting off the ground. It will really hit the ground running next week.

There's also the holidays vaccine gets shipped out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then we had back-to-back weeks where Thursday and Friday were holidays so it will be really good to see what happens next week. We've got the allocation system really going strongly now. It's week to week, steady and consistent.

It looks like hospitals are moving at a more deliberate pace than we thought so they're staggering their employees. They're not vaccinating everybody overnight. They don't want to have reactions or sick days back to back to back. So they're stretched thin as it is. So they're taking a more deliberate pace.

We need to look at that and we need to see how we can help them. And then you know just really see what's going on in a normal week. Next week is really the first week that we'll have consistent allocation orders, shipments, and administration all throughout all five days.

PAUL: So Senator Mitt Romney has called the rollout of this federal vaccination program incomprehensible, inexcusable. What do you call it?

HANNAN: I certainly don't call it that. I mean, I think we've done a lot of groundwork to get this going. We've enrolled tens of thousands of private providers, and right now the shipping is going very well. It's getting to private providers in 24 hours. The orders are going well. The data system is going well. We do have a little bit of a lag in the doses administered so that's coming through a few days after maybe they are administered so there's a little bit of delay. But I certainly don't think this indicates any kind of major system failure.

In this country we have a private sector health care system. So to give a government supplied vaccine through the private sector, it really takes a lot of coordination. And all of that coordination has been done. It's working properly.


You know, we just aren't seeing the vaccine going into arms as quickly, but the infrastructure we've set up I think is working.

PAUL: So let me ask you about this because I believe the CDC guidelines, and correct me if I'm wrong are getting this vaccine to people who are 75 years or older. There are some states that want to allow people who are 65 years old to sign up for the vaccinations. Is it too soon to make a modification like that?

HANNAN: Well, I think you will see some variation across states. And part of that is we don't want vaccines sitting on the shelves. So if we aren't getting it into the arms of health care workers as quickly as we can, then you'll see some states expanding so that they can at the same time they're getting health care workers, they can also offer it to other populations. The CDC has recommended those over 75, but that recommendation came, you know, just a week or two ago.

And so many states were already setting up infrastructure for over 65 and so, you know, I think you will see that. You'll see some variation. The important thing is that the vaccine is getting out and it's getting into arms. Everybody's got to get the vaccine or be offered it eventually. So we really just want to do what is getting the vaccine into the arms.

PAUL: Real quickly, this variant that's showed up in the U.K. that is showing up in three states, Colorado, California and Florida. Dr. Fauci says this vaccine the current will actually work against this new variant. Do you agree with that? And how concerned are you about any new variants down the road?

HANNAN: Well, I take the lead from Dr. Fauci on that. I think that they're working with the other countries looking at the data from the vaccine and certainly if they're looking at that and they're seeing that there will be protection, I would definitely listen to Dr. Fauci there and our other experts.

PAUL: All right. Claire Hannan, I appreciate the work you do. Thank you for being with us.

HANNAN: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Sure and Happy New Year.

HANNAN: You, too.

AVLON: All right. More than 3 million early vote and absentee ballots have already been cast in the Georgia senate runoffs. Why some Republicans are starting to worry. That's next.




AVLON: Only three days to go until the crucial Georgia senate runoffs and Republicans are facing increased pressure to turn out their base on Election Day, January 5th. Both President Trump and President-Elect Biden are both scheduled to hit the Georgia campaign trail on Monday, in a last-minute attempt to sway voters. And the outcome of the election will have major implications for the incoming Biden administration.

PAUL: CNN's Ryan Nobles is with us live from Atlanta. So Ryan, obviously we're in the final stretch for these two races. Millions of people we already said cast their votes. What are the candidates doing to try to keep up the momentum?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Christi, first, I have to say, you live in Atlanta. I can't imagine being a Georgian right. You were a swing state to begin for the November election and now here we are into 2021 and you're still being hammered with political ads.

PAUL: It's a lot.

NOBLES: Or more than half a billion dollar. It's got to be so much. There's got to be many people in Georgia that just want this thing to be over with. And we are finally near the finish line, but what these candidates are doing is they are out on the trail this weekend. Election Day is going to be very crucial, particularly for Republicans.

You mentioned that three million people have already cast their votes in the early voting stage, predominantly Democrats. They've won the early voting stage of this and now it's going to be incumbent on Republicans to make up that gap on Election Day.

They believe they can do that. Republican voters are traditionally are more likely to vote on Election Day and in person. But there have been a few wrinkles here. And of course, the Democratic candidates have been facing negative ads, particularly Reverend Raphael Warnock one of the Democrats.

He has been under a lot of different attacks through different television advertising. And then Senator David Perdue, the Republican in this race, he was exposed to coronavirus so that's forced him to quarantine here in the closing days of the campaign. Listen to how both of these challenges that they are facing here in the closing hours of this campaign.


SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R-GA): My wife and I are doing just fine. We tested negative, but we've been testing our team regularly here according to CDC guidelines and our doctor's recommendations. We with an abundance of caution have decided to go into quarantine this last few says. Its terrible timing but we're not going to miss a step. We are going to participate in all events just as if I was there.

RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA), CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATOR: Well, there's no question that Senator Kelly Loeffler is running the most negative campaign in Georgia history. She was appointed -- the people of Georgia are disappointed. She clearly has no case to make why she should be elected, which is why she's busy attacking me.


NOBLES: And you don't have to look any further than the people that will be here in Georgia in the next couple of days to understand just how important this is. The Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be in Savannah tomorrow. The current Vice President Mike Pence will be at a mega church of Atlanta about an hour outside of Atlanta on Monday and the President-Elect here on Monday and then of course President Trump himself will be here Monday night.

Both Republicans and Democrats understand the stakes in this race. If Republicans are able to win just one of these seats, they will be able to hold onto the majority in the United States senate. Most observers here on the ground though believe this will be a package deal. Either both Democrats will win or both Republicans will win. We'll have to see how it all plays out on Tuesday. John and Christi.

AVLON: The stakes do not get higher than that. Ryan Nobles on the campaign trail in Georgia. Thank you.

PAUL: So, just as he did before the general election, Georgia voters are setting records for voter turnout right now, the turnout, the effort, the money put into getting voters to the polls reflect what's at stake here. So let's talk about how the race is shaking out. Gigi Pedraza is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Latino Community Fund and Cliff Albright is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter.

Thank you both for being with here. We certainly appreciate it. Gigi, I wanted to ask you. I know the National Republican Senatorial Committee had one of the first ads on behalf of Kelly Loeffler at the end of November on Spanish TV. And they focused on retaining the senate. What do you know about how prevalent ads have been in the Spanish TV and radio realm and how effective they are?



So what we know is that candidates have only now started reaching out in language with relevant messaging to our community. I mean Georgia is the state that only five years ago they had for the first time an ad in Spanish. So for us it's a welcome development. Candidates, parties, groups, everybody needs to pay attention to all constituents, invest and build the infrastructure appropriately. So the more investment in our community in language and relevant messaging and telling people what those platform, what those policy mean to real life, it's important.

PAUL: And in terms of, Cliff, you know, the Black Voters here in Georgia, we know that they've showed up early. Is there - is there a big push to get them to the polls November 5th? I mean, how effective might that be? So many of them might say, we've already voted, we know people who have voted, we're good?

CLIFF ALBRIGHT, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Yes, no, that's not - honestly, that's not a concern of ours. I mean we're seeing, like you said, record turnout. We know there's close to 1 million black voters already just in the early vote. We know that's very close to the pace during the general election. What we also know perhaps more importantly is that Black Voters now consist of about 33 percent of the electorate. Not only does that exceed our percentage of the general population but it exceeds the electorate in the general election. We are outpacing our general election share of the electorate.

So there's a lot of energy that's been around, even in the general but it's spilled over into the runoff despite of everything that people are telling us we can't do. That it's a runoff election, it's in January, it's cold, and it's the holiday season. In spite of all of that, we've been seeing incredible energy, incredible momentum and incredible turnout. And we expect that will continue on Election Day.

I've been saying it for more than a month and some journalists have not taken me seriously. But I believe we have the potential to exceed our turnout, black turnout that is, to exceed our turnout from what we saw in a general election. We'd actually be close for that if not, but we had two or three days that were lost to early voting because of the holidays.

PAUL: Right. Let me ask you, I want to stick with you for a minute beings Cliff, because there was an article in "The Washington Post" this morning, and they were talking about black votes. And I wanted to ask your opinion on this. They said we are probably witnessing a political realignment in which Democrat are losing support from Hispanics voters and possibly black man while gaining support among white voters with college degrees, address that for us. Is there any indication that's the case in Georgia?

ALBRIGHT: No, I'm not seeing that as an indication at all. We know there were some inroads made in particularly with black men during the general election, but at the end of the day black men continue to be the second most progressive block within this country, second only to black women, right?

And so we know that both black men and black women are going to show up, vote for our issues that are on the ballot, issues like the police violence, George Floyd Act, issues COVID relief whether we're going to see real stimulus checks as well as dealing with the health consequences of the pandemic.

These are issues that we've been talking to people about and they care passionately about. There is no realignment, the only realignment taking place in this state and we say across the south is that folks are seeing that you can have a different strategy that you can have a strategy which says let's expand our base, let's go deeper into our base, let's talk more to the people that we know fundamentally agree with us on the issues but let's invest more in reaching out to them, doors, radio, street outreach, whatever it takes.

That's the realignment that's taking. It's clear now that black voters combined with our dear friends, our brown voters, Asian-American voters, progressive voters, that strategy is the winning strategy in the State of Georgia just like it was a winning strategy in state like Arizona. We believe that's the strategy that's going to transform the South. That's the transition that's taking place in Georgia.

PAUL: I've never seen what I have seen in the last couple of months on the ground in terms of - from both parties trying to encourage people to come out. Gigi, real quickly to you, Democratic Strategist Jose Parra said Republican socialism message isn't going to work in Georgia the way it did, say, in Florida. Here's what he said. It's not Florida anymore. It's mostly Mexican immigrants that don't have the same history with socialism as Cubans, anything (inaudible) so the key is a more conserved effort to turn Latino voters out in general. Do you agree with that?

PEDRAZA: I 100 percent agree. The story here is turnout, the fact that 48 percent of Latino voters that are participating the general election did not participate in 2016 and that are emboldened. There is young and vibrant electorates that have lived in their body and souls not to have political power because they were immigrants like me, unable to naturalize for reasons and vote. So for us, we're not one- dimensional people.


We are diverse community. Of course, Florida, we are different in cities and counties, in states in issues, in backgrounds, in class, in race, in religious affiliation. So I am not worried about that. You know, to me the story is about turnout and it's about relevant investment and messaging. And for parties and groups to care - and not only votes - and every year.

PAUL: Every year, that's right, Gigi Pedraza, Cliff Albright, we appreciate your voices in this conversation. Thank you so much.

PEDRAZA: Thank you.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

JOHNL: We'll be right back.


PAUL: This has been such a tough year. Millions of people have filed for ongoing jobless benefits because unemployment is well above historic levels right now.

AVLON: That's right. And the wait is on for families to receive benefits after the new federal aid package was finally signed last week. So Vanessa Yurkevich met with one family who says right now it's simply a question of staying alive.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Fareeha Haq and her husband Amir Bukhari, are raising a family of six on less than $400 a week in unemployment. Next week they could go without that money.

AMIR BUKHARI, UNEMPLOYED: It is going to hit rock bottom. Because right now we're able to eat, forget the rent.

YURKEVICH: That money that was supposed to arrive this week was just to feed your family?

BUKHARI: Just to feed the family.

YURKEVICH: Pandemic unemployment programs for millions lapsed on December 26th.


A day before a new federal aid package was signed. That delay means most Americans will have to wait for states to issue their checks.

FAREEHA HAQ, UNEMPLOYED: Like I'm very grateful that money will be coming in, but sometimes it takes so long for the money to actually kick in.

YURKEVICH: Fareeha and Amir are both gig workers. She drove a school carpool, he an Uber. The loss of income in March put the family on to a growing pile of bills.

BUKHARI: I mean, if I told you all the bills are up to date? No, they can't be. It's just impossible.

YURKEVICH: Nearly 12 million renters will owe more than $5800 in back rent by January. Fareeha and Amir owe nearly that much and they're $8,000 in credit card debt.

HAQ: You have to take the letters and you have to put it on the flowers.

YURKEVICH: Their small apartment is a virtual classroom and the four kids eat all meals at home. That's 16 a day.

HAQ: You can do it. Come on, mommy got to go make breakfast. I get so emotional because I'm overwhelm. I don't know how to live anymore. Sometimes it's so hard.

YURKEVICH: A recent survey shows 27 million Americans say they don't have enough to eat. This family relies on food stamps and the food pantry at the Brooklyn Community Service COPO. It's familiar for Fareeha.

BUKHARI: You're going to get Raspberries, squash. I got these special cucumbers.

YURKEVICH: She used to work here handing out the food.

HAQ: I was there helping people receive benefits and now I'm on the other end, and I'm asking for benefits.

YURKEVICH: And the need for many Americans is only getting greater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're running out of their checks. That's why they're coming, worried, hardship. They're not sure how they're going to make ends meet.

YURKEVICH: The new stimulus bill adds an extra $300 a week in unemployment until mid March. A much needed boost to families like this one.

HAQ: Before you see the money it's gone already. I already know where I'm going to spend all of that money. And it's hard to get back to that place where everything will be OK. I made it special just for you.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, Brooklyn, New York.

PAUL: Listen, there is a mental and emotional toll that COVID has left with us that's really heavy. I spoke with Pastor Juanita Rasmus about what she calls the crash in her life and what we can all learn to overcome what COVID-19 has left us with. Stay with us.




PAUL: Right. Let me ask you a question. How much pressure do you put on yourself to be perfect?

JUANITA RASMUS, AUTHOR "LEARNING TO BE": I have been living out this narrative of be a good girl, work hard, perform well, make yourself valued and valuable by how much you can do, how much you can produce, and so that narrative drove me basically to this place of deep depression.

PAUL: That's Pastor Juanita Rasmus, he's been a spiritual director to members of Beyonce family, she's a cancer survivor and author of "Learning to Be" finding your center after the bottom falls out". She talked to me about what I call the reset.

RASMUS: COVID-19 is inviting us to check out our core values and to see how far we've sailed away from them.

PAUL: That is the reset, trying to figure out what our priorities really are here. She's resurrected a 13th century practice that we can all today it's called "The Examine".

RASMUS: So at the end of the night "The Examine" invites you to maybe sit at the edge of the bed or in a chair and to just take a few moments and invite the knowing within you, invite spirit to help you review your day, look for what gave you life. You look for the ways that you were able to stay open, to receive love and to give love. You look for what made you smile. You look for the things that maybe you didn't see because of the busyness of the day. But then also you take a look at those things that weren't life giving.

The place where a conversation really sucked the life out of you, you just stay attentive to those places that seem to have left you constricted in some way, left you disappointed or rejected or sad. Most of us get so busy that we don't notice what we're noticing. We don't notice the ways that our life is speaking to us. And so when you notice those things, even though they might look bad, right, whatever it is, notice it and give thanks for the awareness of being able to see it.

Now here's the key. You do it with gratitude because it will change the way you sleep at night and it will change the way you wake up the next morning. Here's the key to the next morning. Do more of what gave you life yesterday, and do less of what took life from you yesterday. What is it that you want to say, is speaks to how you showed up in the world, how you've learned to be in the world.

PAUL: There's so many things that we just can't control. And I want to know how you have adapted, how you have changed since the coronavirus and quarantine, your approach to life, your priorities. You can find me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook and thank you so much because it really do - I get such good energy and hope reading your stories, so thank you.

AVLON: Such an important message and such an important way to structure reflection, to moving forward, that attitude of gratitude. Thank you.

PAUL: She's amazing. Thank you for being here, John. AVLON: Well, my great pleasure. We'll see you again one hour from now. But before we go, Christi, I have a special message we want to share with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, and happy Saturday to you. I'm at home wrapping up the holiday vacation, but I had to send this message in to wish Christi a very happy, belated birthday. Yes, her birthday was yesterday, but I wanted to send this message in to publicly wish my TV wife of, I believe, our seventh anniversary is coming up in a couple of days, my friend, my confidant, a very happy birthday. I know you enjoyed yesterday. Enjoy today and I'll be back with everyone next weekend.

PAUL: I love that man. Oh, victor got me! He got me!

AVLON: Happy birthday.


PAUL: Thank you, V. Thank you so much. And thank you, John. You're not off the hook, as you know. We're back in an hour. Smerconish is up next.

AVLON: See you then.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN NEWS HOST: This time the fireworks are coming after New Year's. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. 2021 is about to begin with a bang. The next few days will be the political equivalent of the college bowl season.

Tuesday will determine control of the U.S. senate and Wednesday we'll witness a last-ditch effort by the President's congressional supporters to keep Donald Trump in power. Twin tests of American democracy amidst a COVID-weary nation, hoping that vaccinations are soon widespread.