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CNN Live Event/Special

Voters In PA Cast Ballots Amid High-Stakes Senate Race; Biden Team Does Not See Path To Hold House, But Senate Possible; Thousands Of Pennsylvania Mail Ballots At Risk Of Being Rejected. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 12:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just -- they're confusing more than anything else to me.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you know, a lot is made of the vote count, the integrity of the vote count all across the country, not just here in Pennsylvania, are you confident that the votes will be counted accurately and fairly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have faith in the system that's going to work like, you know, I know mail-in ballots are important for quite a segment of our population. So I trusted that they'll be counted. The only the only issue that I had with it, I wish they were counted faster like, you know, I mean it seems like we're waiting forever for a result, like, you know what I mean, but I'm confident that the system has worked for 200 years, and it's going to work another 200 years too.

TODD: All right, Dwayne (ph), thanks very much for talking to us. Good luck to you, great to meet you. All right, so you see also the energy here, Dwayne has it, a lot of people have it, the economy, Wolf, really foremost on a lot of people's minds, a lot of voters we talked to, they don't believe the economy is going so well here in western Pennsylvania or across the country. Inflation is a big issue among a lot of people we talked to here.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Certainly with all the polls show, it's the economy. That said the top issue indeed right now. All right, Brian, thank you very much. Let's discuss all of this with Jamie Gangel. She's our CNN special correspondent, Audie Cornish, CNN anchor and correspondent and Mark Preston, a CNN senior political analyst. Mark, I know you've been talking to some of the Fetterman campaign, folks today, what are they -- how are they feeling right now?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they feel cautiously optimistic. But really, the phrase that they're saying is buckle up. Now we've heard John talk about this. And we'll be talking about this throughout the day. Jason in Philadelphia, of course, Brian in Pittsburgh right now, there's a very good chance we're not going to find out who the winner is tonight. I mean, I think there's a better, you know, better than 50-50 chance, we don't know who's there. So the Fetterman campaign are telling their people to just be calm, you know, get out to vote, of course, the Oz people saying the same thing. But what was interesting is the inflection points that the Fetterman campaign said that will look back upon, the first inflection point happens in August, late August, when, you know, we see the GOP has decided to come home to us. You know, we see Mitch McConnell has gone in. He's put his Senate Republican leadership fund, political action committee in to use, $31 million since Labor Day, in fact ads on John Fetterman.

Second inflection point is the Oprah announcement. Now normally, I would say, oh, that's just a gimmick. You're saying it. But this is why it's important in Philadelphia. That was the only news that really broke through in the past month. The reason being Philadelphia is a sports town. You have the Eagles right now who are eight and zero, you have the Phillies, who were on this World Series run.

The crime, the crime ads if you were trying to beat John Fetterman up with will find out whether or not they actually got through in Philadelphia because they, you know, according to Fetterman campaign, they don't think it was breaking through, because there was such good news. But we'll be interesting to see if it doesn't break through there where there wasn't good news perhaps maybe in Georgia or in Nevada, some of these other states, will those crime ads really take down the --

BLITZER: Very interesting Mark, standby. You know, Jamie, I know you've also been on the phone speaking with Republican strategist and donors, what are they telling you?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's funny what Mark said about the Democrats being optimistic. I've spent the last week, last 48 hours talking to Republican strategist, donors. They are also very optimistic. A lot of their candidates in these tight races, they weren't so sure about, Oz was one of them. But they say exactly what Mark just said and what that voter just said to Brian Todd, its pocketbook issues, its food prices, its gas prices, its inflation.

So should we all quote for the millionth time, James Carville, it's the economy stupid. That's what the Republicans feel it's coming down to. Just to echo something Mark said and John King said, I think the word we're hearing on both sides of the aisle is patience. And I think it was very reassuring actually, to hear that voters say he had faith in the system, because this is going to take a while. He may want those absentee ballots counted more quote quickly. It's just going to take the time, it takes both.

BLITZER: We might not know tomorrow night. It could take a few days.

GANGEL: Correct.

BLITZER: That wouldn't be a huge surprise at all. Audie, we do know that. Both sides have been pouring in huge sums of money, but $160 million dollars in television ads in Pennsylvania alone, and that underscores what's at stake right now. AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, it's creating context, right, for these voters. There was a voter we heard earlier who said the crime seems bad in Philly, hope it doesn't get to the suburbs, right? They're afraid of a thing they aren't actually having to deal with. It isn't actually affecting their community, which means those ads are effective. Similarly around the issue of abortion, remember, it's not just about Fetterman-Oz, there's a governor's race going on.

Mastriano has a position on abortion rights that plenty of people are aware of. And that may bring other people to the polls in terms of it may affect down ballot. So Pennsylvania is a great state that we all like to watch because it has so many of these themes coming to a head at once. But it's probably not the best for us to look at it one race at a time because people just turn on their T.V. once they don't turn on for the Senate ads and then the governor ads they're getting all of it as you said, and that's a deluge of cash.


BLITZER: As this Fetterman-Oz contest it's really -- it has heated up, but it probably is going to be potentially decisive who controls the U.S. Senate.

CORNISH: The problem is so many states could potentially be decisive, you know, I'm also watching Nevada. Everybody is watching Georgia. Sleeper race to watch to me is North Carolina. Every race counts at this point.

BLITZER: Certainly does. All right guys stand by. There's a lot more we need to discuss including the White House and President Biden are monitoring the day's events and what the future holds for the president after today, stay with us.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, there is the White House on this gorgeous fall day. President Biden is there. He remains behind closed doors. His political team is monitoring the events from the Eisenhower Office Building, which is obviously near the West Wing. Privately when you talk to them, Biden's advisors acknowledged little chance of holding the House. They do though say publicly and privately that they may hold the Senate.

I'm joined now by the Democratic former senator from Minnesota, Al Franken and the Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, so thanks very much to both of you. So, Senator, let's just start with the White House's view, right, that they're acknowledging privately. I know publicly, not so much, but privately that they have little chance of holding the House. But they do you believe that that they can hold the Senate maybe even make gains? Is that realistic?

AL FRANKEN (D-MN), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Yes, those races that we're talking about, and Georgia and Pennsylvania and Nevada and Arizona and North Carolina and Ohio and Wisconsin, are all pretty close. And polling isn't as accurate as it used to be. So of course, yes. Yes.

BURNETT: Well, and this is everyone is saying, this polling isn't as accurate as it used to be. Now, you know, you see that -- you guys may agree on that and come to very different conclusions. Governor, how do you see it?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, whenever you look at the Senate, I agree it's going to be close. Everybody has to get out and vote and participate this election cycle because the importance of it, I look at momentum, the polls are close. And so who in the last days has momentum, I think that is a defining difference. And I like where the GOP is. I think our candidates have gained momentum. They've talked about issues that resonate with voters. They've listened to them. And for that reason, I'm optimistic about where we come out this night.

BURNETT: OK. So, you know, we've been hearing economy, economy for a lot of these voters, not all of them, right. We've heard about abortion. We've heard others, but the one that you hear the most has been the economy. You've talked on your podcast that you're a little stressed out about what that means for Democrats.

FRANKEN: Well, of course, the people are focused on the economy. But if you think about inflation, if -- what are Republicans talking about on inflation? Well, actually kind of nothing. What would Democrats have done we, let's talk about the Inflation Reduction Act, a lot of it hasn't kicked in. But tell you one thing it's going to do is going to cap how much seniors are going to spend on pharmaceuticals. Republicans want to get rid of that.

Republicans want to cut Medicare and Social Security. They've said that. Rick Scott ran on that. He headed up the Senate, Republican Senate Campaign Committee. McCarthy has said that. Scalise has said that. Ron Johnson says that. They're going to -- and they may go against, may on the debt ceiling, I've been there when they've done that before, which there -- that would jeopardize the world economy.

BURNETT: And you know what's interesting governor, everyone sort of makes this an issue. Well, Democrats are making it about democracy and maybe about abortion, and Republicans are making about the economy. What you hear from Republicans, you just mentioned Ron Johnson. He said, you know, if Republicans win, it's going to be like mosquitoes and a nudist colony, when it comes to investigations in Washington, right, investigating Hunter Biden, investigating Joe Biden, impeachments and investigations. So what they say their agenda will be sounds like a lot of that, and not so much economy.

HUTCHINSON: Well, the historic mistake that the Democrats have made is not listening to the voters. They wanted to tell the voters that democracy is at stake. They wanted to tell them that abortion was the key issue. And in fact, the voters were saying, no, the biggest issue is, is the fact that we have inflation and energy crisis, border security, violence. And the candidates listen to the voters on the Republican side.

And whenever you look at the inflation issue itself, it's Biden's inflation. And so you absolutely, it's controlling spinning. I'm a governor, I've seen how much money has come out of Washington, and that is what has spiked the inflation as well as the energy crunch, which again, is Biden's responsibility. And so the message that we have is really coming from the grassroots of the voters, and that's why they have momentum.

FRANKEN: The election hasn't happened yet, it isn't over. So we don't know whether who voters are responding to. And voters know that Democrats want to maintain their level in Social Security and Medicare, and that is at jeopardy and they say it out loud all the time. And also, Republicans have nothing in terms of our prosperity. We finally did an infrastructure bill. Trump had four years to do an infrastructure bill and wouldn't do it.


Democrats are talking about the economy. And we're really talking about the economy. We've passed the CHIPS Act, which is about competition with China. So we have actually done stuff. And the Inflation Reduction Act is going to attack inflation. And of course, this is a global problem. Inflation is higher in Europe. So this isn't Biden's inflation. This is a worldwide inflation.

BURNETT: Well, we're going to continue this conversation. I will say, by the way, the money coming out of Washington, you got a fair point. It's a big part of it. But that money also started trillions under Trump during the pandemic and then under Biden, so in that case, they would be blamed to go to both parties. But we'll take a pause. I know you both are going to be back.

And the latest out of Pennsylvania and the legal fight over some of the mail-in ballots that's going on there, that already in the courts. And a tabulation issue in Arizona is crushing social media stir so we'll tell you the very latest on that. We're going to go to the voting desk, where Ana Cabrera is tracking it all.



BLITZER: Tonight it will be all eyes on the battleground state of Pennsylvania, the sight of a very hotly contested Senate race. And now there is a legal fight already playing out over whether some of the mail-in votes should be included in the final count. CNN's Ana Cabrera is tracking all of this for us over at the voting desk. What's going on, Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hi, Wolf. I will have more than 1.1 million pre-election ballots were cast in Pennsylvania. And there's now a fight happening over whether some of these ballots should be counted. At issue here are the mail-in ballots that were sent in with either the wrong date or no date at all. Here's an example of an actual ballot this election cycle that was cured or corrected in time. You can see this voter was able to fix the date just yesterday. Some may not be impacted or won't be fixed in time.

And so Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman has now joined a lawsuit asking a federal court to supersede a previous decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and allow those misstated or undated votes to count arguing the date on the mail-in ballot envelope has no bearing on a voter's qualifications and serves no purpose. He says other than to erect barriers to qualified voters exercising their fundamental constitutional right to vote.

So how many votes are we talking? At last check, 3,600 or so in Philadelphia County that's here in the south west corner or southeast corner, I should say. We also know some of those have been cured. At least 1,000 in Allegheny County, that's the Pittsburgh area. And a couple 100 in Monroe County. Now all three of these counties voted for Biden in 2020. And Wolf, thousands of votes could make a difference if it's a very tight race.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right, Ana. We're also following some voting issues in Maricopa County out in Arizona. What's the latest there?

CABRERA: That's right Maricopa County that's home to Scottsdale to Phoenix. Officials in this county say tabulating machines and about a fifth or 20 percent of their 223 voting locations were rejecting ballots. Now according to county officials, the problem has to do with passwords being entered too many times. So it appears this as a technical glitch of sorts. Election officials say teams are taking those problem ballots to the county's election center where they will be counted after the polls closed at 7 o'clock tonight local time. So they want to assure voters here. No one is being disenfranchised, all those votes, all those ballots will be counted, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ana Cabrera. Thank you very, very much. Let's get some perspective right now from CNN anchor and senior legal analyst Laura Coates, who's also a former federal prosecutor and CNN contributor Ben Ginsberg. He's a Republican election lawyer. Ben, lawyers for Fetterman say this will result and I'm quoting now, I'm quoting now the lawyers for Fetterman in otherwise valid votes being arbitrarily rejected as a Republican election lawyer, what do you make of that argument?

BEN GINSBERG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I actually think it's the right argument here, Wolf. The dates on the ballots have nothing to do with validating whether the vote counts, right? The ballots have been received before election day. So they're valid ballots. So it's a simple mistake by a voter, it doesn't go to their qualifications. So my guess is under the Civil Rights Act, if not the first -- the equal protection clause of the Constitution, that Fetterman will ultimately be successful and these votes will be counted.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see what happens on that front. You know, Laura, it's interesting as Ana just mentioned. Arizona officials say that tabulating machines at about one-fifth of their voting locations were rejecting ballots, as voting got underway on this Election Day. How problematic could this be?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It could be very problematic. We were talking about in both these instances and all the battleground states they're called battlegrounds because in fact they difference between what could it takes to actually win and what you actually might have a very small differential. So this is really a kind of a fertile ground at this point for perhaps conspiracy theorists to begin to insert themselves and say, hey, this is vulnerable. This is the moment we can actually question it.


But in reality, the fact that they've actually caught it in time before the polls have closed, before they're actually saying that anyone's been disenfranchised is actually a good thing. It shows the process is actually working, Wolf. The idea of saying, look, we were able to intervene in this moment in time and correct the error.

Now, if it continues in a widespread fashion, we're talking about maybe the delay in the tabulations overall, and maybe the dotting the I's and crossing the T's. But right now, we don't see extensive legal issue. But remember at Maricopa County is one that had voter intimidation allegations a lawsuit filed just last week by the League of Women Voters about people taking photographs on side so Maricopa County is already under the microscope.

BLITZER: Legal issues, of course, huge right now.


BLITZER: Guys, thank you very much, Laura Coates and Ben Ginsburg.

Up next, the latest on some of the closest races across the country, and how the outcomes could shift the balance of power. We'll be right back.