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Candidates Make Final Push With Election Just Two Days Away; Polls Show Economic Concerns Are Top Of Mind For Voters; Democrats Face Tough Races To Hold Onto Senate Majority; GOP Senator Johnson Won't Say He'll Accept Election Results; Trump Takes Direct Swipe At DeSantis During Pennsylvania Rally, Calls Him "Ron Desanctimonious"; Voters Tell CNN They're Concerned about Inflation, Gas Prices. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 06, 2022 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hope you join us. The new continues with Dana Bash and Abby Phillip "Election Week in America".

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Dana Bash.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: And I'm Abby Phillip and this is "Election Week in America". We are less than 48 hours from Election Day and they will be counting votes in what may be the most consequential midterms of our lifetimes.

BASH: More than 40 million ballots have already been cast nationwide in the Senate's going to be a nail biter. Democrats are hoping that they can preserve their narrow majority there. And in the sign of the times for Democrats, President Joe Biden whose agenda is on the line is campaigning tonight in New York. New York, one of the country's bluest States where Democrats are struggling to keep the Governor's mansion.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We all know in our bones that our democracy is at risk. If you all show up and vote, democracy sustain.


PHILLIP: The GOP is feeling optimistic tonight. The momentum is theirs but they are also trying to shore up some key battlegrounds, which is why Former President Trump spent the weekend in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and tonight, he was in Miami campaigning for Marco Rubio.

We have a lot to discuss tonight. And we'll get started with a look at the midterms and the state of play. We've Democratic Strategist Xochitl Hinojosa also CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings and Paul Begala and Kristen Soltis Anderson is with us. Hi, guys. Thanks for joining us here.

BASH: Good evening.

PHILLIP: Good evening. So first rule of the table, no predictions right--

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: --bet on policy only horses way easier to predict.

PHILLIP: I do want to start with the state of play, because I think that this has been a bit of a roller coaster of midterms. Paul, I'm going to start with you. But tell us what you're seeing out there. What is the dynamic that you think is driving us in these last 48 hours?

BEGALA: Well, dynamics change, right, when seven or eight out of 10 Americans are unhappy with the direction the country. And you add to that president's approval pretty low inflation is pretty high. We were looking going into the cycle at a massive red wave.

And then two things intervene the two most valuable players for the Democratic Party, Sam Alito and Donald Trump right? The Dobbs decision written by Justice Alito takes away a woman's right to choose women have been relying on that for 49 years, we're pretty unhappy, right?

Mr. Trump finds a lot of rather eccentric candidates that even Senator McConnell says lack candidate quality. This is put the Democrats in the hunt, this should be a landslide for the Republicans and they're going to find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I know that's not a prediction.


PHILLIP: Anyone else was predicting still?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I look I'll take the other side of the coin here. Republicans are very optimistic about start with the House. I've been bullish on this for two years. And for the last six weeks, people have just the numbers I'm hearing from key strategist around the country going up and up and up.

We may be in, you know, 25/30 seat territory, which if they get over 30, would give it one of the biggest majorities Republicans have had and in a long time, so that's on that side. On the Senate side I do think the worst that Republicans could do is 50 right back where we are now.

It seems to me like Nevada is in good shape. But these other races that are still hanging out there have you know, I don't know Pennsylvania, knife's edge, Georgia. I think Herschel Walker will be leading on election night, whether he clears the bar for a runoff or not. I don't know. So there's cautious optimism on the Senate. But boy, the macro indicators look really good.

BASH: Can I just go back to what were the things that Paul said and I want to ask you since you are a pollster, you look at numbers. You are a Republican. Do you agree that still right now, the abortion issue is that much of a driver? KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly gives Democratic voters more of a reason to turn out and in a year where they had previously been trailing Republicans on the enthusiasm question by a sizable amount it closed that gap.

But what we are seeing in these last week or last week or two is gravity reasserting itself. Again, the gravity of you're the party out of power, the gravity of the economy is bad. The gravity of people aren't really a big fan of the President right now. And all of those forces, just like gravity, you can jump, which come right back down.

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, and I also want to point out and Paul mentioned this the quality of the candidates on the Republican side, a lot of what President Obama has done on the campaign trail has painted this picture of a contrast between what Democrats are going to provide and how they are experienced candidates and what Republicans are going to do if they're in office and especially specific traits that each of these Republican candidates have.

He said before in Georgia, Herschel Walker, are you really going to trust him to make decisions for yourself? You wouldn't - you wouldn't necessarily trust him to fly a plane, right? He was a great football player, but he's not necessarily going to be a great Senator.

And so I think that the personalities on the Republican side with inflation and all of these issues that voters are facing right now the quality of candidates are terrible and that gives Democrats an opportunity.


PHILLIP: On that point I do want to play this because this has been an interesting development. President Biden, President Obama, they've been campaigning on this issue of democracy. Recently, Herschel Walker, speaking of candidate quality, took that issue and turned it on its face. I just want to play you what this contrast now looks like for voters if you're in the State of Georgia.


HERSCHEL WALKER, (R) GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: You heard the President; the biggest threat to democracy is a vote for somebody in the Republican Party. Is it crazy? The biggest threat to democracy as I have him in the White House, is it not?

BIDEN: I'm not joking. With these election deniers, there are only two outcomes for any election. Either they win, or they were cheated. No, I'm serious. Think about it. But let me tell you something. You can only love the country when you win.


PHILLIP: So Paul, I think, to me, the question here is, is this really the right message? Especially since you see what Herschel Walker did with it, he kind of turned it on its head, and rendering it meaninglessly perhaps?

BEGALA: I just disagree. I don't think Herschel Walker is very effective answer to anything if he's the answer, that's a stupid question. The country, we fight about issues all the time, Jennings and I used Republican, but we will fight about taxes or about crime or about trade. This is existential.

Everybody who comes to Washington should visit Arlington National Cemetery, thousands and thousands of people, some of them in my family lying in honor, it gave their lives, and others have given their limbs for our democracy. And some on the fringe, including Mr. Trump, the Leader of the party, are undermining democracy, if that's not worth running on it. And by the way, yes, it motivates Democrats. But if that's not worth running on, nothing is this is not just another fight about taxes.

BASH: On that note, I spoke with the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel this morning and asked her about the notion of Republicans accepting the election results, unlike what we saw, in the White House in 2020, listen to what she said.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, RNC: You should have a recount, you should have a canvass. And it'll go to the courts, and then everybody should accept the results. That's what it should be. But I'm also not going to say if there are problems that we shouldn't be able to address that. If there are real problems, everyone should be able to address that. And I think Ron Johnson and Stacey Abrams in the end, once all their avenues are exhausted, right, they'll accept the result.


BASH: Scott, do you think she's right?

JENNINGS: Yes, look, I think people are going to avail themselves of whatever processes exist and you know, and it's different state by state, but and that's perfectly fine in any Democrat or Republican who thinks something needs to be looked at should be--

BASH: The question is after it certified after all of that process, all the processes have been exhausted. What we saw in 2020, at the White House,

JENNINGS: I hope everybody who wins accepts that everybody who loses accepts that too. But I also think that we shouldn't just say, well, you can't avail yourself.

BASH: No, absolutely.

JENNINGS: So re-count or re-canvass. Now this candidate quality business this has been the narrative the entire cycle. I'm sorry, look around this man. Patty Murray, Cortez Masto.

HINOJOSA: Scott, Mitch McConnell is the one you use--


JENNINGS: Barack Obama talking about I wouldn't hire Herschel Walker to fly a plane was he going to hire John Fetterman? I mean, he's entertaining is the conversations with the control power would be--

HINOJOSA: John Fetterman has a record. He's making the point that there are these celebrity candidates that don't necessarily translate into policymakers. And I'm sorry, yes; the reason why Democrats have a chance is because there are strong candidates in the states, even with inflation and everything that is going on.

JENNINGS: You guys are spending millions of dollars in Washington State and you're telling me you got the highest quality candidate out there. Tiny Smiley is the superstar of this cycle. That's why so in terms of candidate quality, come on some of these Democrats. You know, I think the 27 Yankees--

HINOJOSA: And give them boss--


HINOJOSA: --but I disagree with you but--

BEGALA: --one of candidates of I think not very high quality is this the Republican Candidate for Governor in Wisconsin, Mr. Michels. Last week, he said this, "Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I'm elected Governor". Oh, oh, that's not just bad quality. That's to the point of Dana's question. That is, do you believe in democracy, right?

He is not saying I'll have better policies on schools and roads, he's saying if I win, we will have power for evermore that's calling for dictatorship. That's the death of democracy.

ANDERSON: Absolutely how would that quote?

BEGALA: Literally I'm reading it to you.

ANDERSON: --100 percent means we're going to do a good enough job governing the people are going to want to--

BEGALA: Never ever, that's not what you're saying.

ANDERSON: You can just as likely make the same argument that I made is what you made that's I think there's a deeply uncharitable--

BEGALA: Uncharitable, they storm the Capitol. Good - don't believe in democracy.

ANDERSON: So look at the beginning of this block we opened up the show by saying this is arguably the most important midterm of our lifetimes. Is it not the case that every midterm voters here that?


ANDERSON: That every midterm voters hear, this is the most important election of our lifetime?

BEGALA: I've never heard a politician say if I win the other guy never had a chance.

ANDERSON: You know, I don't think it sounds like it's just another election.

JENNINGS: To counter your argument, Paul I would also say that what Joe Biden and a lot of Democrats are saying that if a single Republican wins an election the democracy will go away. You can't have democracy if Republicans win.

Now the ruling party is your party, you control everything. And the message is, voters have to vote for the ruling party or the country's constitution--

BEGALA: I just read you the quote from the Candidate for Governor for Wisconsin. Where is Joe Biden ever saying that?


JENNINGS: He has said it repeatedly.

PHILLIP: --difference between people. There are a lot of Republicans who believe that the election was not stolen.

JENNINGS: So I'm wondering--

PHILLIP: --so there are definitely choices within the Republican universe in which that is the case.

BASH: And here's some good news. We have an hour and 50 minutes to keep talking about all of these -


BASH: --but we have to - so stick around because the sprint to the finish is on can Democrats hold the Senate? We're talking a lot about that. We're going to put that question to our next guest, Senator Gary Peters, the Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee charged with electing Senate Democrats plus, Former President Trump drops a very large hint tonight about his plans for 2024.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: And now, in order to make our country successful, safe and glorious, I will probably have to do it again. But stay tuned. Stay tuned to tomorrow night in the great State of Ohio. We have a big fan of that big rally there.



[22:15:00] BASH: With grim prospects for Democrats to hold the House, one of the biggest unknowns is whether Democrats can keep the razor thin majority in the Senate. Joining me now to discuss is Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, the Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Charged with Electing Democrats, this cycle and all cycles.

This is your lucky year as Senator. And I want to start with the map where we see incumbent Democrats who are particularly vulnerable. We're talking about Arizona, New Hampshire, Nevada and Georgia. Which of those incumbent, Democrats, your colleagues, are you most worried about losing on Tuesday?

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Well, I'm confident we're going to win all of those races. Clearly, they're very close, all of them are going to come right down to the wire, I think you can put all of them in that category. It's about making sure that we turn out our voters.

You know, at the DSCC, we have invested unprecedented amounts of resources in our get out the vote effort, we always knew that all these races would be extremely close. They're all battleground states nationally and by definition, a battleground state is going to be a very close election.

And I would have told you that a year and a half ago, if you asked me the question, is these going to be close races? I'd say of course they are. And that's why we have a turnout operation that I'm very confident will end up with us winning all those four races.

You know, my job as the DSCC Chair is number one is to bring back all of our incumbents, which I'm confident we're going to do. And when we do that, we'll be at 50. And we'll still have a majority.

BASH: Last week, the Senate Leader, Chuck Schumer was caught on a hot microphone telling President Biden that Pennsylvania was looking good. You're picking up steam in Nevada, but you're going downhill in Georgia. Is that where you see the race right now about a week later?

PETERS: No, not at all. No, that Georgia is a race that that we will win. It will be a very tight race. So we always expected that to happen. But we've seen a race that's stabilized. And what we're seeing on the ground, we've got unprecedented numbers of folks who are doing early voting right now.

Ballots are actually in. We know those ballots are great ballots for us that are coming in a lot of Democrats are turning out to vote. And so our get out the vote operation for Senator Warnock is doing what it's supposed to do.

BASH: You think you're gonna win outright? Or will there be a runoff?

PETERS: I think it'll be very close. We're hoping it will be outright and I think there's a good shot that will be outright but regardless, we're going to end up winning in the end.

BASH: Senator, there are two states with open Republican seats, Ohio and North Carolina. Do you have any regrets about not investing more in those two for potential pickups?

PETERS: Well, we do have the very great candidates in both of those states that are running strong--

BASH: But you're investment?

PETERS: Yes, and as far as our investor we did at the DSCC. Certainly, we have made investments into both of those states. We've been working, raising money for both of candidates, both of them are great. I will say though, you know, in terms of what we do at the DS, my - as I mentioned already, my number job is to bring incumbents back, I don't have unlimited amount of resources.

So my focus is making sure that we hold our 50. But we have made investments in both Ohio and North Carolina; those were great pickup opportunities with great candidates. And they have been able to raise a substantial amount of money themselves. And I'm very confident that they have a great shot of winning.

BASH: Listen to what Hilary Rosen, who's a longtime Democratic Strategist. She's worked to help elect many Democrats over the years. Listen to what she told me on State of the Union this morning.


HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm a loyal Democrat, but I am not happy. I just think that we are, you know, we did not listen to voters in this election. And I think we're going to have a bad night when voters tell you over and over and over again, that they care mostly about the economy. Listen to them. Stop talking about democracy being at stake.


BASH: Is she right? Did your party miss the mark this cycle on messaging?

PETERS: I actually you know, I think if you look at our battleground states, if you look at our incumbents and our candidates, they have focused on the economy. Certainly there are a number of issues that they're going to deal with, but they're looking at how do we reduce costs for folks at a time where we see global inflation?

This inflation problem is all across the globe. And Democrats we have actually put forward ways to bring down the cost for families.


PETERS: The fact that in our Inflation Reduction Act that we allow Medicare to negotiate now with drug companies, which will bring down the price of prescription drugs, something that has put a huge strain on our seniors. And it's going to be an important contrast, not one Republican voted to reduce prescription drug cost for seniors.

So that is a clear, clear contrast, Republicans identify a problem that we know is a problem around the world. But Democrats are actually taking action to reduce costs for people at home. And they have focused on that it's been part of, certainly their campaigns, as they're also focused on other economic issues.

So it's important to deal with that issue. But also understand that there are many issues that folks care about very deeply and including reproductive freedom.

BASH: Before I let you go completely off topic, but this is definitely a water cooler issue. And that is the Powerball you were the Lottery Commissioner in Michigan. Give me your 10 second answer on seeing $1.9 billion for the Powerball.

PETERS: It's mind blowing, actually, that's a massive amount of money. And Dana one piece of advice I'll give to people you can't win unless you actually buy a ticket.

BASH: I've heard that. All right, Senator, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

PETERS: Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.

BASH: OK. Thank you and back with our panel.

PHILLIP: Like a true Lottery Commission?

BASH: Yes, really.

PHILLIP: Buy a ticket--

BASH: Scott Jennings, thoughts?

JENNINGS: Well, he and Rick Scott are very similar. They predict they're going to win every single race on the entire map. And that's their--

BASH: That's their job.

JENNINGS: Look, I think some of these Democrats aren't going to return. He can't say that. But we certainly can. Nevada, as I mentioned, is the one where I think they are in most danger. On Georgia I know he said they have a chance to win it out right.

I got to tell you, I talked to Walker people last week. And the pollster down there is pretty confident about that race. Pennsylvania is the one that just continues to vex me, you know, some days I wake up, and I feel great. And some days I wake up, and I don't know, I was trying to get the pollster on our panel to give me some wisdom earlier. And I think we were in an alignment. There was just so close out there.

ANDERSON: Yes. And Pennsylvania is the type of race to where because you have the celebrity power of somebody like Dr. Oz, but also that comes with some higher negatives than you might see for other candidates, that that's one of those races where gravity may be pulling things one direction, but there's so much unusual stuff, whether it's with Fetterman's health with Dr. Oz's somewhat higher negatives, that that does make that a more complicated one. We don't we're certainly not making predictions.

BASH: You know what the good news is we have somebody in between us who knows a thing or two about Pennsylvania politics.

BEGALA: I can't predict that one. It's very, very close. That's exactly right, though. Dr. Oz also had a very difficult primary. I thought Fetterman was going to have on Conor Lamb a rising star Congressman from western Pennsylvania--

PHILLIP: He has had a pretty tough primary.

BEGALA: But Fetterman beat him decisively much more decisively than Oz won his primary. And, to his credit, Congressman Lamb really back Fetterman completely. So the Democrats united very quickly.

Oz still hasn't it this late, they put together all of the Republicans. I was struck though with Senator Peters. Candidate quality does matter. And we asked him defenders and incumbents. But my party hasn't produced a better Senate Candidate for Tim Ryan in a very long time or shirt he's running for the Senate in Ohio or Sherry Beasley the Chief Justice Supreme Court, North Carolina, or Val Demings, a longtime Cop and Police Chief now Congresswoman from Florida.

I know there's a tough states, you're not going to get candidates like a Sherry Beasley like a Val Demings like a Tim Ryan, if the national party doesn't back then when they stick their necks out.

PHILLIP: But I think one of the points he was making is that he's got to bring his members back in Nevada is the place where--

BASH: Yes.

PHILLIP: --I mean I saw you nodding along as Scott was talking. But I mean is Nevada your pick if you were to look at that map of vulnerable and say which one and - most worried about today?

HINOJOSA: Democrats, I've worked in Nevada before and Democrats always freaked out about Nevada, the last few months of the election. But one thing that troubles me is just 2020 was just too close for comfort. And then now as we're heading into the midterms, I think that turnout is not where it needs to be compared to the last midterm election.

And that makes Democrats a little bit nervous. I'm also a little bit worried there's this whole conversation about the right rightward shift of Latino voters. I don't think that Latino voters in places like Nevada and Arizona are going to go to Republicans. I do worry about them turning out. And I think that is what we should keep our eye on.

BASH: You can't - I was out there. You cannot underestimate the hangover assignment hangover. It's like they're still feeling it of COVID in Las Vegas. That's and how much people are hurt because of the economic struggles.

I mean, it's the case across the board but the shutdown in a place that is so tourists driven like Las Vegas even temporarily was tough.


JENNINGS: On the candidate quality issue. It's interesting to me that some of the better candidates of the cycle are in the states that I think both parties would consider to be the reaches. Tim Ryan in Ohio probably did the best he could there, he's going to lose I think.

But for us Republicans, it's Tiffany Smiley in Washington and Joe O'Dea in Colorado, these are outer band reached states, although I have to tell you spoken with Republicans who are dealing with Washington State.

They believe in it. And it's purely because of the quality of Tiffany Smiley; Democrats have had to invest in it, as well. And so--

BASH: She's a Republican running against Patty Murray.

JENNINGS: --against Patty Murray.

PHILLIP: Just go ahead.

ANDERSON: It doesn't have to be a big wave year for an oddball race like that to come on the board. I think this midterm reminds me a lot of the 2014 midterm, which was good for Republicans, not the huge wave the 2010 was but still good.

And you had races like Mark Warner in Virginia, almost getting taken out by Ed Gillespie, something that most people weren't really following. But in the end, that was a very close race. I think something like Washington would be not hard for me to see that falling in that kind of category.

PHILLIP: It strikes me that the - I mean, the dynamics perhaps playing out in some of these states is the economy and crime. I mean, Hillary Rosen made a point about democracy versus those issues it seems like that is perhaps alien here. I mean, where Democrats not focused--

BEGALA: Huge - I'm not a soccer fan. I'm a - guy, but they call it interesting soccer, our own goal. We're kicking your own goal. OK. I think that's when the Democrats walk away from the 80s - right, they have - I worked for a president who had really strong credibility on the economy and crime.

Democrats don't have that today. Some Democratic strategists are telling their candidates don't talk about it. Well, Kirsten made this point in the first segment. Abortion for the Democrats got them back in the game. It was necessary but not sufficient.

And I can't wait to see the tally of how much money Democrats spent on pro-choice ads, which I'm all for but--


BEGALA: --how little they spent on the economy. We had a great case to-- ANDERSON: --the problem with talking about democracy as the final thing is that people go to the store every day and they see prices go up where the threat of to democracy feels so esoteric. I think that's why it was not the winning message for them.

PHILLIP: Alright, everyone we'll continue the conversation in just a moment but up next for us, they still contest the 2020 election. And they won't say if they will accept this election. So why are so many GOP candidates' baselessly rejecting elections? Plus, should Trump be scared of Ron DeSantis? Republicans reactions to his swipe at the Former Governor - sure signal that that he should be nervous.



ASHER: Now the GOP is feeling optimistic heading into Tuesday's elections. But there is a big question that's been plaguing the Republican Party all midterm season long. And that is a candidate quality can they pass the test in a general election?

Well, we will find out in two days. Joining us now is Republican, Former Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. Governor Walker thanks for joining us.

BASH: So good to see you.

ASHER: We are now at the almost to the end of this. And one of the big dynamics that we've been dealing with, I think in this midterm has been the environment versus the candidate. So at the end of the day, some of the biggest races in this cycle are going to play out where there are the biggest questions about the candidates on the Republican side. What do you see unfolding?

SCOTT WALKER (R) FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: Well, two things. One, I think the candidates are talking about the right issues, at least on the Republican side, I call them three PPP's Personal economic issues, public safety and criminal - and education. And the more they're talking about that, the more they're winning, not only are Democrats not right on those issues, by and large, as you talked about, even on this morning, they're not talking about the same issue.

They're talking about January 6, democracy other things that are aligned with it. But the other part is specific to your question about the quality of candidates. I think one of the under told stories is the impact that governors or gubernatorial candidates are going to have on the U.S. Senate races where there was some questions about that--

ASHER: Like in Georgia, for example--

WALKER: Georgia, for example,--

ASHER: --campus doing far better than--

WALKER: And that's is going to help Herschel Walker hopefully get to that 50 percent threshold similarly in Arizona, but you also see in states like New Hampshire, and in Arizona, where governor's races are going to help draw those--

ASHER: The opposite--

BASH: You could have - in Pennsylvania.


WALKER: --exception.

ASHER: Doug Mastriano can be a huge drag on that ticket.

WALKER: Yes. And that's where it's amazing when you see about the distinction there is that Dr. Oz has stepped up. He's talked about the right issues. And of course, there have been some very legitimate questions about Fetterman in that case.

And other ones actually similar to my state, where Ron Johnson is probably going to win by a tad bit more than Tim Michaels to gubernatorial candidate, but I think both are going to win.

BASH: Because you brought up Ron Johnson, I'd like to play for you what he has been saying on the campaign trail about accepting or not accepting election results.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I sure hope I can, but I can't predict what the Democrats might have planned. You know, we're not trying to do anything to gain partisan advantage. We're just doing whatever we can to restore confidence.

I want nothing more than when the polls close to say, OK, nothing weird happened here. We didn't find a bunch of suspicious activity. Our observers were able to observe they were given full access, we had full transparency in the chain of custody of all the absentee ballots of the flash drives, those things be delivered into the election, the central accounts, OK.

We want full transparency, full access. And if that happens, and that's what needs to happen, then I'll accept the results. But we need that full transparency, and I'm not sure we're going to get it.


BASH: At that last part, I'm not sure we're going to get it.

WALKER: Well, we've had concerns for now two decades. I suppose back in 2000, the smokes for vote's issues in Milwaukee that ultimately led to us pushing for photo ID requirement that I ultimately signed into law as governor.

Now people said it would suppress votes. Two years ago, we had the largest turnout in the presidential election in seven years most likely seen in Georgia. BASH: So shouldn't he be listening to you?

WALKER: Well, but we've seen other steps what happened with Zuckerberg issues in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison are legitimate concerns that need to be fixed when there's a new governor and legislative majorities that can work with.

In the end though when he should be talking about what Tim Michels should be talking about where Republican candidates across the country should be talking about is the economy public safety and - involvement.


ASHER: And isn't it also the case that there was no fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin or anywhere else? Why isn't he just saying that?

WALKER: Well, because again, the media asked him about. He didn't--

ASHER: Let me just say that.

WALKER: --everybody in the bubble in the media here and around the country wants to talk about that when the voters overwhelmingly want to talk about their own personal economic issue.

BASH: RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel I'm with been this morning and she said point blank. We'll get the process we'll do the canvassing do the certification. And then I want everybody to concede if they lost or claim victory if they win?

WALKER: And that's what candidates are doing. What I'm saying is in both those instances, you have quotes that you saw from a gaggle, not from the podium, those reporters who want to go off track and talk about the vision to get--


ASHER: I wouldn't describe that as off track, because Ron Johnson has made actually made that central part of his plan.

WALKER: I would tell you what if I talk about Wisconsin and I talk about these others.

ASHER: I do want to ask you about this, because we're also in the moment where Former President Trump is reasserting himself into this campaign. Does it help or does it hurt? And especially if he announces a presidential run in the middle of this month what does that do if you are in the state of Georgia?

WALKER: Well, I hope the biggest thing is we all focus on getting over the finish line on Tuesday in Wisconsin and Georgia and Arizona and these other key battleground states. So I hope, for example, in that Senate race, we get to 50 plus one, and Herschel Walker's declared the winner anyway. But if we have a runoff like we had a couple of years ago, all of us President Trump and everybody else who cares about the future of this country need to be behind Herschel Walker.

BASH: And just real quick, Donald Trump announcing in 2024, you're very close with Mike Pence, his Former Vice President, is that going to have any effect on Pence? I mean, just for example, he's announcing right before his Former Vice President's book tour. Is that intentional?

WALKER: I think the President if he gets in which every indication is he's going to one deserves the right to be in the race because of the things he did over the past four years prior to this presidency.

Remarkable things helped turn this country around, put us on the right path. I think it'll be up to the Republican primary voters decided by the Pence, Nikki Haley--

BASH: They should all get in. They shouldn't be--

WALKER: I think there'll be a wide selection of different options out there, and we'll see what happens. But right now, we should be focused on what happens this Tuesday.

BASH: OK, Governor, thank you so much. Thanks for coming in. And the Former President is mocking as we were talking about talking about the 2024 race; he's already mocking somebody who might be a competitor. It's a preview of Trump versus DeSantis. And the reaction Trump got should probably make him maybe it's making him a little bit concerned he changed his tune stay with us.



PHILLIP: The Former President Donald Trump is teasing a presidential bid in 2024 during a midterm campaign rally in Florida today. And Trump also encouraged the crowd to reelect Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. That is a noticeable difference from his comments last night where he took a swipe at the Republican Governor giving him a new nickname.


TRUMP: We're winning big, big, big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody's ever seen before. Let's say there it is Trump at 71 Rhonda Desanctimonious is at 10 percent Mike Pence at seven oh, Mike's doing better than I thought.


PHILLIP: Our gang is back with us. So wow, quite the change in 24 hours. What do you think happen Scott?

JENNINGS: Oh, well, I mean, if he had looked at the comments from Republicans around the country, they were enraged because let me give you a done a dynamic duo. There are only two Republicans in the country right now who were attacking Republicans, Liz Cheney and Donald Trump.

We probably would have never imagined those two would be paired up. But that's what's happening. Ron DeSantis is on the ballot. And he's out also, in addition to being on the ballot, campaigning for other Republicans around the country, many of whom Donald Trump endorsed and helped them win their nomination.

So I think Republicans want the Former President to row the bow with everybody else because there's so much at stake.

BASH: It's a real backtrack--

PHILLIP: Team player.

JENNINGS: Yes. I mean--

BASH: It's a real backtrack don't you think?

PHILLIP: It is very much so.

BASH: I mean, I don't know that it's actually going to last much longer than--


BASH: --Tuesday, but at least for now.

BEGALA: I'm just proud that he came up with a polysyllabic insult. That's the first mister - he knows what it means. But his other nicknames were much simpler and easier for his cognition to handle.

ANDERSON: Well, the other thing about his other nicknames is that they're even the ones that were pretty horrible. Were the sorts of things that you could imagine had some genesis and like something someone would have said in a focus group, right?

I'm having trouble thinking of the focus group where a swing voter looks at Ron DeSantis and says, sanctimonious, I mean, there may be other things they would criticize for. But this just does not feel like a like a top 10 sort of nickname.

And crucially the thing that makes Republican voters sort of forgive him when he's out there throwing punches that he always claims I'm just punching back. To my knowledge, Ron DeSantis, has not thrown the first punch. And so this does seem like you are fighting inside the tent in exactly the wrong way. And that's not--

PHILLIP: He's thrown a punch by existing. He is there, and that is the problem if Trump wants to run again.

HINOJOSA: Well, that's funny is that DeSantis hasn't been tested in this way. We don't know what's going to happen. I mean, this is just the beginning of Trump. This is the beginning of a contested primary, the beginning of 2024. I mean, Donald Trump is going to throw a whole lot of stuff towards him. And we don't know how it's going to go as someone who had to run the primary for the Democratic Party. I will say that there were a lot of Democratic voters and donors who thought that many of the Senators were going to rise up to the top and somehow come out on top and that never happened.

And so I don't think - I don't know how we're - how DeSantis is going to react to this and I'm not sure if he can take these attacks from Trump.

PHILLIP: Actually, I mean, stop before you jump in. I mean, to me the biggest question facing the Republican Party right now is are they going to create a one on one situation for Trump?


PHILLIP: Or are they going to do what they did last time, which is have a huge field? Tom Cotton the Senator from Arkansas took himself out of the running today, or at least that was reported by CNN and POLITICO and others. Is he signaling to other Republicans? Hey, get out while you can so that we can narrow this thing down? Or is something else going to have?

JENNINGS: Good question. I don't know if that's what he specifically meant to signal. But it certainly would be helpful. About half the party wants Trump, roughly and about half may want to go in a different direction. You're exactly right.

The fragmentation of the half that doesn't want to do Trump is protective of Trump. And so I think the fewer people that are in probably the better off. Now there's plenty of time for the crowd to winnow down before we actually start voting, but the winner take all system in the Republican Party is very advantageous for a candidate like Trump, who's, you know, if you've got about a half, even if you had 40 percent, to start, you know, very admit--

BASH: There's one downside, a pretty big downside for Donald Trump announcing that he is going to run if he does do so. And that is they aren't taken no longer pay his legal bills, they've paid over $2 million in his legal bills, listen to what the RNC Chair told me about that this morning.


MCDANIEL: We cannot pay legal bills for any candidate that's announced. So these are bills that came from the Leticia James lawsuit that started while he was president, it was voted on by our executive committee for our former president, that this was a politically motivated investigation. And that's what it's--

BASH: So no more?

MCDANIEL: But we cannot we cannot do in kind contributions to any candidate. Right now he's the Former President who's being attacked from every which way with lawsuits. And he's certainly raised more into the RNC than we've spent on these bills.


BASH: I think he's going to have to start digging deep into to his pocketbook. I mean, this has been a little bit controversial. I mean, you're saying, yes - its money that could have gone to the candidates?

JENNINGS: Absolutely. Well, I mean, he spent some. He finally got around to spending some money out of his Super PAC to help out and nowhere near what Mitch McConnell and other you know, Rick Scott, and other people have raised and spent, he did spend a little bit the RNC no question had to divert some resources.

So I'm glad that rule is in place that they wouldn't be able to do that. And this wouldn't be fair to the rest of the field. And by the way, I think others are going to run. Tom Cotton I don't think he's going to be the rule here. I think that you're going to have Mike Pence and maybe, you know, Former Secretary of State Pompeo, you're going to have DeSantis.

To me a lot of people and I think some of them are going to go ahead and take the plunge.

BEGALA: And Asa Hutchinson, who was on our air recently, all but and I think the Governor of Arkansas, he's term limited. Maybe Chris Christie, the Former Governor of New Jersey used to be a Trump ally. This is the problem.

And how do you hit it? Exactly right, which is Trump has always been a plurality candidate. He's got a bulletproof plurality, but he has never - in the primaries in 2016, he never commanded a majority support in his party until the very end and in the country never did.

By the way, not that I'm a fan of Ron DeSantis but he has done something Donald Trump has never done. He's gotten more votes than the Democrat. Trump has never done that and he never will, because he's a minority candidate. He's a plurality candidate for a fanatically committed fringe, they would be committed--

PHILLIP: Let's just bring in real quick, Mike Pence. This is happening at the same time that Mike Pence is about to kick off a book tour. To me, that does not seem like an accident?

ANDERSON: It strikes me is very hard to imagine a path for Mike Pence. And that's in part because even for Republicans who don't necessarily want Donald Trump again and might like to turn the page, in a way, Mike Pence is a reminder of some of the things they don't like about the class around Donald Trump around, you know, him serving in that administration.

But then him, you know, in the views of many Republicans, I've talked to in focus groups, him sort of turning against Trump and even if that's an unfair characterization of Pence, it's hard for me to imagine him winning the primary.

However, I don't think that Republicans should just all say up well, if we don't want Trump, let's I'll just stay back and let Ron DeSantis run. I think you should have a robust field and voters should have their choice. It's a question of the once you get past that first state or to the people then get the message--

PHILLIP: --writing on the wall.

ANDERSON: And see the writing on the wall.

BASH: All right, everybody stand by. We're going to take a quick break. And up next we're going to talk about some of the voters that we've been talking to all over the country. We're actually in five states in particular that I visited during the run up to Tuesday's election. There's one thing that they've all been telling us that they are concerned most about. That's next.



BASH: Starting Labor Day weekend, my colleague Abby Sharp, different Abby and I visited five pivotal states to cover campaigns there. And we talked to voters about what they want to hear most from candidates who want their support. Here's what we heard.


ABBY SHARP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The common threat we heard from voters across the country frustration and fears about rising prices.

AMANDA CLEAVER, MICHINGAN VOTER: I drive a truck and it does not get very good gas mileage. And I actually had to quit my last job because I couldn't afford to drive all the way out there.

GREG STEYER, OHIO VOTER: Why is the price of gasoline where it is today? You can't just overlook that issue.

JOSEPH SAN CLEMENTE, VIRGINIA VOTER: Festivals have gone up 20 to 30 percent growers locally in the farms and not carrying things they did last year, because people don't have the money.

DAVE DENT, ARIZONA VOTER: And the inflation they say it's 8 percent. But if you're in the construction industry, it's like 30 percent.

MARIA MELGOZA, NEVADA VOTER: Food is high. Gas is high. Rent is high.


BASH: So Abby--


BASH: --that was obviously what we heard, by and large. The abortion issue is an issue.

PHILLIP: Yes. BASH: It's just not the issue.

PHILLIP: It's just not the thing that people are dealing with day in and day out also, in my midterm travels, the same thing. I mean, look, people are going out, and they're just finding that it's more expensive to do basic things that they were doing before.

The challenge in this cycle is who do they blame for the reality of that?

BASH: Exactly.

PHILLIP: And I do think that what is difficult for Democrats is that it's just very easy for a lot of voters to say hey I just want to try something different.


BASH: And that's just the way politics tends to be. I mean, how many times have we covered Republican administrations or times when Republicans are in charge of Congress and voters are upset? And this is the weapon that voters have?

They have the ability to go and change who was there? Having said that I did - you probably had a similar experience. I did talk to a number of voters who were upset about the economy, said about their personal affordability status.

But they said it's not necessarily the fault of the Democrats or the Biden White House, its other things. It's probably not the case that that is the majority--

PHILLIP: --we might be seeing in this cycle is that a lot of this is just gravity pulling everyone, especially Democrats back to reality. But coming up next for us, stay with us because we have Congressman Jim Clyburn, and he's going to tell us what he thinks about Democrats chances in these midterm elections up next.


PHILLIP: We are in the homestretch and just minutes away from the final day of campaigning before voters head to the polls in the critical midterm elections.

BASH: And control of both the House and the Senate hanging in the balance.