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CNN Live Event/Special
Voters Head to Polls Across U.S. in Consequential Midterms. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired November 08, 2022 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I feel like at this hour, we should either whisper or yell, get up. I don't know which one. I'm a little delirious.
Hello, everybody. You know who I am, you know who guys these are. Or ladies.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You know what day it is.
LEMON: Election day in America. That's what it is. One of the most consequential midterm elections in history. Hours from now voters will cast their ballots to determine who controls both chambers. Democrats are hoping to cling on to the majorities, while Republicans predict that they will win the House. In the governor's races, voting and abortion rights will be at stake.
And we have CNN teams all over. We have team coverage live on the ground at polling stations in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, in Arizona, and everywhere, everywhere all over the world. Well, the U.S.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Plus a, quote, "very big announcement." Former President Trump teasing what could be a third presidential run on the final night of campaigning. Also, where he plans to break that news. Plus this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang on the door, so I run to the door. And I was very scared. I see the Capitol Police. And they said we have to come in to talk to you. And I'm thinking, my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opening up in a CNN exclusive about the moment that she learned about her husband's attack. What else she revealed in her emotional sit-down interview with Anderson Cooper.
LEMON: It was a very emotional interview. We'll get to that in just moments. But first just in a few hours the polls will open in Ohio. The Senate race between Republican JD Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan has been contentious and tightly contested. There's a lot on the line here. A win by Vance is key to the GOP hopes at flipping the U.S. Senate. A victory by Ryan is crucial for Democrats if they hope to keep the chamber blue.
Melanie Zanona live at a polling station in Columbus, Ohio.
Very breezy there, it looks like, Melanie. Good morning to you. This race turned out to be a lot more competitive than expected. What are the candidates saying right now?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it has really been a closer-than-expected race. And the Democrat Tim Ryan has really kept it competitive and forced Republicans to spend here despite this being a red state that Donald Trump won in 2020.
And a big part of that reason, Don, is because Tim Ryan is seen as one of the Democrats' best economic messengers. He really leans into the economic pain that voters are feeling. He talks about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the state, even talked about areas where he agreed with Trump on China and on trade. But despite all that, it might not be enough for the headwinds that Democrats are facing in today's midterm elections.
And meanwhile you have the Republican JD Vance. He's also has made economic populism a key part of his message. He's also tried to appeal to the base by denying the 2020 election and of course he has the support of Donald Trump who rallied here last night for him at a campaign. And that is despite the fact that JD Vance was once a never Trumper -- Don.
LEMON: Little headwinds from where you are, Melanie. So, listen, the former president was in Ohio last night. Let me guess what he had to say. Get ready, get ready, get ready, teasing folks a lot, correct?
ZANONA: Yes. Exactly. This has been the sort of game that he's played almost the entire midterm cycle. He's been teasing the idea that maybe he'll run, maybe he'll announce. Kaitlan and others reported yesterday that he might have announced last night. I was getting panicked text messages from Republicans who've been begging him not to do this all election season. They had to continue that pressure campaign last night. It appears to have worked. He did not announce but he did say, Don, that he will be making a special announcement on November 15th.
LEMON: No, he's got the world's attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Not to distract from tomorrow's very important, even critical election, I'm going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15th, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: So you can hear there that he said he doesn't want to distract from the midterms even as he continues to talk about himself, make this about himself. But we are going to be looking out for what that announcement is on November 15th -- Don.
LEMON: I just can't get over the music but, listen, of course he had the nation's attention. He's going to say, I'm going to run, I'm going to run. But I don't think there's any way he's going to do it last night. I'm not sure.
Kaitlan, do you agree, disagree?
COLLINS: He was actively talking about it and it kind of became the situation where advisers who have been urging him for months now to wait until after the midterm elections.
Also his daughter is getting married in the coming days. They asked him to wait until after that. They thought it would have the most impact. So there was a sense of concern yesterday in his circle that he may go ahead and announce it.
LEMON: Have they ever met Donald Trump?
COLLINS: They felt pretty comfortable by the time the rally happened that he wasn't actually going to.
HARLOW: What about -- so he says there will be a significant announcement, November 15th at Mar-a-Lago. What do you make of the location?
COLLINS: I expect to see some of the Republican winners tonight. I expect to see some of them at Mar-a-Lago when he makes his announcement.
LEMON: Yes. But I do believe that we're going to hear a lot of this because that is his nature to -- you know, he is the ultimate producer. He's going to say, I'm going to wait, wait, wait, let's see, let's see, let's see until it actually does happen. So get ready for that.
By the way, Melanie, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
ZANONA: Thank you, guys.
LEMON: All right. See you.
HARLOW: All right. Thanks, Melanie.
Now let's go to Wisconsin. Polls open there at 8:00 a.m. where Republican Senator Ron Johnson is locked in a tight race against Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Last night at a rally in his hometown of Oshkosh, Johnson made it clear that if he wins a third term and Republicans take the Senate, he will be very busy. He would have a powerful role in a committee investigating his political rivals. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): If we get the majority, OK, all right, where we get it, I would be chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. I'll be like a mosquito in a nudist colony. It will be a target rich environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Omar Jimenez is live for CNN this morning at a polling cite in Appleton, Wisconsin.
You heard the audience laughing there, but again he would have a very powerful position on this subcommittee. And I think it speaks to the question people have about what would the priorities be of a Republican-controlled Senate.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, it definitely gets at the wider implications here of all of these midterm races of course if Republicans take back control of the Senate. Polls up to this point have shown no clear leader between Ron Johnson and Mandela Barnes. But that's the beauty of today. It is the ultimate poll of polls for that decision to be made. Up to this point Senator Johnson has tried to paint Mandela Barnes as a continuation of President Biden. But also as someone who hates this state and people in it, referring basically to past criticisms Barnes has made of the state's institutions.
But both of them have painted very clear stakes that this isn't just a Senate race, this is a vote about the future direction of the country. Now, Barnes on his side, he told us really his strategy in this final stretch on the other side of what's been a more than 100 stop RV tour that he really wants to meet people where they are on some of the biggest issues, the economy, abortion, election integrity even, and more, and that he doesn't want to take any vote for granted.
That if you're in a city like Milwaukee, that doesn't guarantee a vote. If you're a rural voter, that isn't guarantee, you're not going to vote. In his words, he feels they didn't leave any stone unturned. When I asked him if he felt they had done enough to get Ron Johnson out of office, but of course we are going to see today when polls open in just a few hours at the more than 3600 polling sites here in Wisconsin.
HARLOW: Fascinating race. And as you said, incredibly tight one. Omar Jimenez, you've been doing a great job on the ground reporting there. Thank you very much.
LEMON: In just a few hours, as he said. But we've got a voting desk here. Multiple high-profile races in play in Georgia today. Walker versus Warnock for Senate and Abrams versus Kemp for governor, but as we saw in 2020, we may not find out the results tonight or even tomorrow or the next day or the next day.
Victor Blackwell knows, though. Let's see if he'll share when we're going to find out the results at the voting desk. And so there's a lot that could happen.
Good morning, Victor.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR and CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. Listen, it could be weeks until we find out the winner of some of these races in Georgia. As you said, the marquee races there, Warnock v. Walker, Kemp v. Abrams. There is a sizeable chance that we will not know all the winners tonight.
Now Georgia law requires a majority to win, that means 50 percent plus one. Now if there is no candidate who crosses the threshold there, there's a runoff. That will be on December 6th.
Also, let's talk about audits and recounts. You probably remember in 2020 the votes for president in Georgia were counted three times statewide. There was of course first the initial machine count, then the secretary of state ordered an RLA, that's a risk limiting audit. It was required for one statewide race. There will be another one this cycle. It was by hand.
The secretary of state chose the presidential race. And state officials say that 2020 presidential audit was the largest hand count in U.S. history, close five million votes statewide. And we also saw this in 2020. If a candidate's loss is within half a percentage point, the law allows the second place finisher to request a machine recount within two days of certification.
Now in 2020 all counts ended with the same result that Biden won. Now we could see any or all of these. As I said there will be the RLA that counts up a statewide race that audit, but it could be the race for Senate, it could be the agricultural secretary there. So we'll see what happens there. Georgia of the states we're watching really has the greatest potential to keep us up late, wake us up early and bring us back here in a month -- Don.
LEMON: It's always Georgia or Florida. I mean, come on. Victor, thank you very much. I appreciate that. We're going to check with you throughout the show. Kaitlan?
COLLINS: We've also got some competitive governor's races on the ballot today across the country. Voters are going to be electing governors in 36 states. Abortion, voting rights are going to be put to the test. That's why these races.
So let's bring in CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten. Harry, good morning.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: I love election day.
COLLINS: And thank you for getting up early.
ENTEN: It brings my energy up through the roof. Usually I'm at 10. But now I'm like at 47.
COLLINS: You weren't at 47 when I passed you in the hallway earlier. But, you know, it was like 3:45 in the morning so --
ENTEN: Lights get me going.
COLLINS: Fifteen minutes make a difference.
ENTEN: There you go.
COLLINS: OK. So what are you watching today? I know Arizona is one of the first ones that you have your eye on.
ENTEN: Yes, so, you know, this to me is a fascinating race insofar as we have Kari Lake, who's kind of like Donald Trump but with even more television experience Republican running. She's an election denier from 2020. Interestingly enough she's facing off against Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate who's the secretary of state. So you have this kind of very interesting match-up of completely different views of how the 2020 election went down. Very tight here.
COLLINS: Yes, and she became such a figure in 2020 in that election, speaking about what was happening in Arizona, obviously one of Trump's, you know, most contested races.
ENTEN: That is exactly right. She was someone who became a well-known national figure. But interestingly enough, didn't actually want to debate Kari Lake and sort of became sort of known for that. Kari Lake just would go wherever a camera was.
COLLINS: Yes. I know. And the other one you're watching is in Nevada which has got a very close Senate contest there that I know a lot of people in Washington have their eyes on, but you're also watching the governor's race there.
ENTEN: Yes. We're also watching the governor's race there, kind of sticking with our southwest theme here. Look, we have a Democratic incumbent here. We have Joe Lombardo, the Republican candidate running up. This has received a little less attention than the Senate race. But the polls were just as close. But really tight race here. You know, it's a one-term incumbent. Nevada has tended to actually vote for Republican governors.
The question with Joe Biden, now of course in the minds of voters, will they in fact go back to the Republican ways? This is another state like Arizona where we could -- it could take a while to actually find out who wins. A lot of mail voting in the state of Nevada.
COLLINS: And do you also think could this affect the Senate races there because Senator Cortez Masto is one of the most vulnerable Democrats right now in the seats?
ENTEN: It absolutely could. I think there's a real question of how much straight ticket voting we're going to be seeing. But there's no doubt as Lombardo has sort of risen, we've seen Adam Laxalt sort of fate's rises while the Republican candidate for Senate there.
COLLINS: Yes. We'll be watching there. All right. What you got up in New York right now? ENTEN: So this is a race I don't think a lot of us thought we were
expecting to pay attention to. New York, such a blue state but Governor Kathy Hochul has seen Representative Lee Zeldin sort of nipping at her heels. Why? The issue of crime, the issue of crime being very important in the voters' mind. Lee Zeldin, a rather conservative Republican, at least from the state of New York. But he's been able to turn the crime issue against Kathy Hochul and create a much closer race than expected.
COLLINS: Yes. What other state you're watching today?
ENTEN: So on the opposite end, let's go to Oklahoma which is a very red state unlike New York, which is a very blue state, where Joy Hofmeister has been running on the issue of vouchers, school vouchers on the rural areas. A lot of traditional Republicans haven't necessarily liked that. Kevin Stitt, the Republican incumbent, has been surprised I think by how close this race has generally been. But we'll see if New York and Oklahoma go back to the ways that they normally voted in elections.
COLLINS: Well, and New York got brought up in one of their debates, right, where she was talking about what the crime rate actually looks like in Oklahoma compared to New York, essentially saying, you know, this is your Republican governor and here's what you're looking like.
ENTEN: Right. She was saying that the crime rate was higher in Oklahoma than it was in New York, which he said, there's no way that's possibly true, and kind of laughed it off. But she was actually right on that.
COLLINS: Yes. We'll be watching all of these really closely. I know you will as well, Harry. And we've got a lot of numbers for you to look at.
ENTEN: I think there's going to be a lot of numbers to look at tonight.
COLLINS: All right, Harry Enten. Thank you so much.
ENTEN: Thank you.
COLLINS: Next up, Elon Musk has set off a firestorm after telling his followers they should vote for Republicans today. Plus --
HARLOW: A man is arrested for throwing a beer. Look at that. Look at what happened yesterday. A man is arrested for throwing a beer can at Senator Ted Cruz. This is at the Astros parade. Not good at all. That man arrested but it speaks to the broader lack of civility right now.
LEMON: No, that should not happen.
HARLOW: It should not happen.
LEMON: I don't like Ted Cruz either, still should not happen.
HARLOW: We will be right back. LEMON: Yes. Could have hurt him.
HARLOW: All right. Let's take a look at your weather on this election day. Much of the eastern U.S. in for warm and dry conditions today. A tropical system, though, bearing down on Florida. And snow in the forecast for some parts of the West.
Let's go straight to our meteorologist Chad Myers. Good morning.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. And a lot of snow out to the West. Even some of the roads are closed this morning. It's going to be tough to get to the polls out there. Yes, and we do have the potential for a Hurricane Nicole to affect Florida by Wednesday night into Thursday. There's the snow. They will take the snow if they can get it in the sierras. It's been so very dry out here. I mean, the drought is just all over the place.
Now, Nevada, kind of a battleground state there, you could get some rain and snow as well. Nice across the East. A little bit of cloud cover and wind in Florida but not enough to really slow anything down. Temperatures are cool.
I know, Don, I know you're saying how much you liked it. Unfortunately, now you're back into the 50s. New York is really going to cool down.
Here are the tropical storm warnings and watches, and even storm surge warnings for parts of Florida and the Bahamas. And here is the storm, it is Nicole. Still not very organized. But the forecast is for it to get there and to make landfall in south Florida by Wednesday night into Thursday. Guys?
LEMON: Just when I had all nice things to say about Chad Myers. You had to go ruin it, Chad. Enjoying the nice weather. It's been amazing here. It's been warmer I think than my family down in Louisiana.
COLLINS: I was in a tank top yesterday.
HARLOW: Me too.
LEMON: You were?
COLLINS: At a tank top. Outside having lunch.
LEMON: Wow. Now there's a picture for you at 4:20.
HARLOW: All right. Chad Myers, thank you. I still love you. Thank you, Chad.
LEMON: Not so much, Chad. COLLINS: All right. If you didn't see this yesterday, vote red is what
Twitter's new owner Elon Musk was telling his nearly 115 million followers the day before the midterm elections saying that he believes, quote, "independent minded voters shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress given that the presidency is Democratic."
Joining us now to talk about that tweet is CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. They co-host the podcast "Hot Mics from Left to Right."
Thank you both for being here with us on this very important election day.
COLLINS: Elon's tweet --
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great to be here on such a big day.
COLLINS: Yes, hopefully no hot mics this morning, though.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely.
LEMON: It's a hot Twitter mic, though.
COLLINS: Elon's tweet, the first thing I thought when I saw this was what he had tweeted before he became the owner of Twitter which was for Twitter to deserve public trust it must be politically neutral which effectively means upsetting the far left and the far right equally.
CARDONA: That's exactly what I was reading when I was preparing for this segment. And I remember him saying that. And so when I saw that, I was like, well, this doesn't really match with what he wants to do with this huge platform that he now has. But then again, it kind of is -- that's who Elon Musk is. We've seen him a little bit erratic as he has taken ownership of this tremendous platform, firing employees, then going back on that.
Saying what he said in April and now doing this. You know, when I read it I was like, thank God so many voters now know how to vote, right, said no voter ever. So I just -- I don't think it matters. I think people kind of look at that --
LEMON: You don't?
CARDONA: I know, right?
CARDONA: You know. I think people look at that and they roll their eyes. LEMON: I feel like I'm watching the modern version of "Citizen Kane."
It's like this is, you know, Elon Musk will have this rose bud moment soon. But it just seems irresponsible for someone who has this large of a platform to influence an election. I think he's right, Twitter must remain nonpartisan and neutral but, you know, again, it's his company. He can do with it whatever he wants.
STEWART: And again it is platform for free speech on both sides. People are entitled to free speech. And that's exactly what he's doing. And in terms of, as you're pointing out, he wasn't afraid to use this platform or use this opportunity to really maybe offend people on both sides because if you really look at what he's doing here, he's appealing to independent-minded voters, the people that are really going decide this election, and saying go out there and do what you can to obviously vote Republican.
LEMON: No, that's not who he's appealing to. He's appealing to Republicans on this. And I think if he was saying vote Democrats, you'd be sitting here this morning going, I can't believe he did that.
STEWART: The purpose of this tweet is to encourage people to vote Republicans so we'll have a balance of power. Shared power is what helps to --
HARLOW: But he's assuming a divided government gets more done.
CARDONA: I was just going to say.
HARLOW: And you don't resolve the grid lock. But I do want to ask you this, Maria, because more broadly, just speaking about, you know, what we're going to see, you have talked about the question about mobilization in energy, about Democratic overperformance in some of the primaries but if that holds now. I thought Tim Alberta, the journalist from the "Atlantic," put it really wisely on Twitter.
He said, "The only thing I know about tomorrow, this was last night, if Dems didn't have the Dobbs ruling, that was the abortion ruling overturning of Roe, to mobilize their base and persuades some independents. They would be in for an absolute beat down. I just don't think we appreciate the degree to which that one issue is preventing a 2010-type massacre."
CARDONA: I think that's partly true.
HARLOW: You think it's right?
CARDONA: Yes, I do. There's no question that the Dobbs decision injected massive energy and excitement because people were pissed off. They were. And one of the things that I --
LEMON: You said were.
CARDONA: Are. A lot of women still are. And this is the point that I was about to say. One of the questions that I have been looking at throughout this election cycle especially since Dobbs is whether that energy, which we really saw manifest itself during the five special -- House special election, specifically New York 19, right?
CARDONA: Where that was not supposed to go the way that went and then the Kansas referendum, whether that was going to hold. What we've seen in early voting is that it has held, right? There has been massive early voting, record numbers, and right now Democrats hold a 4.5 million vote lead over Republicans.
That's historic. Over 2018 numbers. Over 2020 numbers. Now I think a lot of that energy is about the Dobbs ruling but I also think it's about threats to democracy. And I know that a lot of people, even in my party have been saying that's not really an issue that people care about. But that's just true. We've seen it in polls where threats to democracy is one of the big issues that people will have.
HARLOW: I think what you're saying is that the best closing message for this president over the economy.
CARDONA: Well, the people who care about it, it is an important message.
STEWART: Here's the thing. Certainly the Dobbs decision did galvanize voters initially when Roe v. Wade was overturned. But as people learn more and realize that many states still allow abortions, there are not abortion bans in every state, they realize this doesn't impact me. So as we get closer to the elections and people are looking at the ballots saying Dobbs versus jobs, jobs are top of mind for people, the economy are top of mind.
And Democrats really did a disservice to themselves by focusing on abortion, by focusing on threats to democracy, which are important but when you look at the issues top of mind for voters, it is the economy and it is crime. And abortion --
LEMON: I don't think you're wrong about that, Alice, but I think that --
STEWART: Wait, what, what, what?
LEMON: I don't think you're wrong about the part that people care about the economy. That's always first. I think women do care. I can't -- I'm just saying, I'm the only boy in the family and -- seriously, and my sisters, my nieces, they're all talking about this and they don't say -- they don't go and say, well, gas is now $2. Gas is cheaper.
LEMON: Or, you know, the price of bread is, you know, $2 or $3 but, man, you know, I can't get, you know, my right to choose or what have you. I don't think they look at it that way. I think when it comes to that, I think the woman's right to choose trumps, no pun intended, the price of milk and the price of gas in this particular moment. Now whether that is going to be a driver I can't really say. I don't know.
CARDONA: Well, can I just tell you? I have been working with a lot of these campaigns on the ground.
LEMON: I should say a woman's right to have control over her body is basically what they're saying.
CARDONA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so anecdotally I have been talking to a ton of women voters on the ground working with these campaigns and what they undoubtedly say to me, Don, is that they can go into the polling booth and they will say, yes, so things are more expensive now, but guess what, the economy will come back. My rights will not.
CARDONA: And that I think has been front and center.
COLLINS: Republicans are banking on the opposite happening today.
LEMON: They are.
COLLINS: We'll see what the voters decide of course. Polls open in just a few hours. Alice and Maria, thank you guys both so much.
LEMON: Wait a minute. You guys have a podcast together. What is it called again?
CARDONA: "Hot Mics from Left to Right."
LEMON: Is it great? Will we love it?
STEWART: It is great. You will love it. It's on all the podcast platforms. This current podcast is about the election, about early voting, about turnout and about what we're talking about now.
LEMON: You just got the TV version preview just now.
CARDONA: There you go.
STEWART: Lots to talk about.
CARDONA: And as you know, we don't pull punches but we do it so civilly because we actually really like each other.
LEMON: Because we got five hours. We're good. We're good. We're having a good time. We have five hours.
STEWART: The bottom line is go vote.
CARDONA: That's right.
COLLINS: All right. Thank you both for being here.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
CARDONA: Thank you.
COLLINS: All right. Up next, there is a new "Wall Street Journal" report. It is suggesting that Republicans are gaining support from black and Latino voters. We'll talk about whether or not this is going to be a game changer for the GOP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will your decision be impacted by the attack in any way?
COOPER: It will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And this. This is a must-watch interview. A CNN exclusive. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on how her husband's attack will affect her political future.