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CNN Live Event/Special

Control Of House, Senate Hangs In Balance; Biden Adviser Describes Post-Election Mood As Vindicated. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Would control the U.S. Senate without the runoff in Georgia, which looks like it will take place, Anderson, one month from now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John Berman, appreciate it. Thanks.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back we'll talk to Congressman Adam Kinzinger about what all this means for the race in 2024 and whether or not the Republican Party will begin to distance itself finally from the former president.



COOPER: Welcome back to our special election coverage. Back with me is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. So, Congressman is it -- I mean, it's unclear, obviously, who will ultimately win control of Congress. What is clear is that there was no red wave. Do you think Republican leaders are reassessing the role that Donald Trump has in the future of the party? Because it seems like this is an opportunity -- if they are ever going to do that, this is an opportunity to do that.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R-IL): Well, I hope so. I was here on January 7, basically thinking that this was the time to reassess whether or not Donald Trump was the future of the party. I think, you know, the question that remains is -- so Donald Trump is going to throw Kevin McCarthy under the bus. I'm just like, put that down in red right now and underline it. The MAGA base is going to throw this on Kevin McCarthy, the question is does the rest of the Republicans have the courage to stand up for Trump, or do they want to get acquiesced to him? Because we all know him, he's not going to take the blame for this, at least in his own mind.

This is certainly a rejection of the MAGA base. It's also a huge message that candidate quality matters. And I think in Wisconsin, look, there's a message to Democrats. I think a moderate Democrat would have crushed Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.


KINZINGER: Because he is one of the more disliked Republican senators close race, but I think a moderate could have done that.

COOPER: Governor Ron DeSantis, obviously won big in Florida, including getting a lot of Latino votes. Do you think -- I mean, do you see him as the future Republican -- of the Republican Party? Would -- yes.

KINZINGER: Yes. Well, I don't but I think, you know, certainly, he's probably in the lead right now, kind of a bit of front-runner status. Again, I think what we're going to see over the next week is, you know, how does Donald Trump pivot from this because he's certainly not going to take his loss. He's going to try to throw DeSantis under the bus. He's certainly going to go after McCarthy. And if he's able to do that successfully, and he has been over the last number of times, then again, Ron DeSantis is going to have kind of a short-lived victory here.

I think it's important, though, this is not -- you know, Ron DeSantis. winning big was huge and congratulations to him. It's not necessarily a message that we saw last night, though, that the rest of the country wants necessarily Ron DeSantis type I guess, leadership, I call it. I think he has a real opportunity to take the Republican nomination to win the presidency, but it's not going to be kind of this in-your-face thing that we've seen from Donald Trump. This is what we saw last night.

COOPER: There's really a warning to the White House as well in these votes. I mean, we've heard -- you know, we've heard from the White House said people there's a sense of vindication, I think was the word that one source in the White House use. How do you view how the White House should handle what happened moving forward? And what is the lesson for the White House? What is the lesson for the Republicans?

KINZINGER: Yes, I think there's no doubt last night was way better than what the White House expected. It's way better than what history ever points to. And I think they should feel good about what happened last night. You know, look for all the hits that people, you know, hit with Joe Biden with, I mean, he's had a lot of victories. And last night was one of those.

But I think the reality is, you still have -- this cannot be a lesson to Democrats that we don't have to address inflation. We don't have to address crime. We don't have to talk about the border. That's not the case. I think a lot of these candidates won despite that still being a big issue and looking forward to 2024, that's going to be important.

Now, what will be interesting, Anderson, is if there's just a very, very slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives. This is like way out of -- out of the left field. But there is a possibility then if you can get two Republicans, for instance, to vote for a certain candidate and get the Democrats to vote for a moderate Republican-type speaker. You can have a really interesting speaker of the House race. I'm not predicting it. I'm just throwing that in people's ears, that if it's that tight, you can do something pretty unusual on that.

COOPER: As you know, one of your colleagues on the -- on the January 6 committee, fellow military veteran, democratic Elaine Luria projected to lose her reelection bid in Virginia, I wonder what your reaction to that. It's obviously, the same thing happened to Congresswoman Liz Cheney and her primary this summer.

KINZINGER: Yes. I mean, Elaine will be the best to tell if the -- you know the January 6 committee had an impact on that. I'll say this about her. Look, it's -- you know, she's a fellow veteran. It's been great working with her. That she's somebody that genuinely cares for her country. We -- you know, ran one of the last hearings together and I'm sad for the country that she lost.

At the same time, look, she stood up for the right thing. Very few people ever get an opportunity to actually stand up for the right thing. Even fewer actually do it. She gets the look in the mirror and I'll tell you there's no victory, no loss, no anything that I think can compare to either the shame of having to look in the mirror and know that you went along with lies or the pride of being able to look in the mirror and say that you stood alone and I think she can take that pride home.


COOPER: Assuming the former president announces he's going to run, there was reporting he may announce that next week. What happens then in the Republican Party? I mean, what is that -- what are the ripple effects of that immediately?

KINZINGER: This is a million-dollar question. There is a small possibility that if he makes that announcement, somebody like a Ron DeSantis or even Mike Pence or whatever could jump in, and you could have a real battle, you know, for the -- for the soul of the party. It's just again, though, there is such a -- the base is so rabid for Donald Trump, the MAGA base, at least, that I don't think it's going to take long for him to be able to kind of parry the attack, put it on McCarthy, put it on anybody but himself, and once again, cow toe, some of these people, some of these "leaders" that don't know how to lead back into I'm in the Donald Trump camp because they just don't want to lose their primary.

Keep in mind. Even though it was a bad night for Republicans, you're still going to have a lot of election deniers coming to the House of Representatives right now, even people that are like borderline, white supremacist -- open white supremacist so this will be interesting. I'm also very interested by the way in the Lauren Boebert race, nobody saw that one being as close as it is and she very well may lose in Colorado Three.

COOPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

We have several CNN projections. Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz has defeated Republican Joe Budd of becoming representative for Florida's 23rd district. That is a democratic hold. In Indiana, Democrat Frank Mrvan has defeated his Republican opponent Jennifer-Ruth Green, another sheet Democrats will keep. And finally, New York Republican Nicholas Lalota has held that seat for the GOP defeating his Democratic opponent Bridget Fleming. That race was held in a newly redrawn district.

President Biden is expected to speak later today. CNN learns the White House is cautiously optimistic about where things might be headed. We'll talk about that next.



COOPER: A senior adviser to President Biden says the White House is feeling a sense of vindication because Democrats seem to have dodged the crushing red wave that many had feared Republicans hoped to harness voters' anger over inflation and fears of recession. For Democrats, no stakes were higher than the Senate race, and Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman defeated Mehmet Oz, flipped the seat for Republican hands. That means Democrats may be able to hold on to the Senate, are expected to lose the House but with smaller margins than predicted. Let's turn it over to Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Anderson. Let's bring back our panel of CNN commentators. We have Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Alice Stewart, former Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, and Karen Finney.

Abdul, I want to start with you. Does last night's results -- which were better for Democrats than expected, does that basically embolden President Biden in a second term? Does -- do you think that that increases his inclination to want to run again?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to say two things about that. First, I just want to compare this to historical records, you have not seen a president's party perform this well in their first midterms in recent history. I mean, you can go back all the way to Reagan, right? And you still don't see this kind of performance.

But I will tell you, it will definitely vindicate the president's potential decision to run, which will be the big announcement that potentially Donald Trump -- potentially could make that he's been teasing. I think if Donald Trump decides to run, I think that will pull Joe Biden back into this race. And I will say this. Barring the narrative that we had about the midterms coming into this midterm election, you have a lot of momentum for the president, whether it was a number of legislative victories, whether it was the sort of climbing up of his approval rating. And so I'm really interested to see what happens in the coming weeks about how people start to feel about President Biden.

CAMEROTA: Didn't feel like momentum for President Biden going into the midterms. But I hear your data points.

ALICE STEWART, FORMER TED CRUZ COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. Obviously going into this midterm, there was not a lot of momentum behind Biden. He had approval ratings in the low 40s. But as we learned in our exit polls, you know, asking head-to-head with him and Trump, he was ahead of Trump in terms of who people would want. But the key question, as you pointed out, among Democrats, would they want to see Joe Biden run again? And a majority of them said, yes, they would. So if he has the support of the party, then I could see him giving that more of a consideration.

On the flip side, Donald Trump is bleeding support from the Republican Party. As these numbers came in last night, I'm getting texts and messages from key Republican donors saying Donald Trump is an anchor on this party, it is time to turn the page, he has lost the House and the Senate and we're losing key races and key Republican donors. And these are not Trump haters. These are Trump allies that are saying it's time for the Republicans to move on and -- move on to someone who is not an election denier, not looking at the past, and they're also putting pressure on the RNC to make sure that we put Donald Trump in the rearview mirror.

CAMEROTA: Karen, here's the exit poll on how all respondents from both parties said about do you want President Biden to run for president again in 2024. Yes 30 percent, no 67 percent. As a Democrat --


CAMEROTA: What do you want to see?

FINNEY: I want him to do whatever he wants to do. And I think he earned that, right? I think we need to shut down all of the -- within my own party hand wringing about Joe Biden, legislative accomplishments, breaking with history, like let the man do his job, and stay out of it. Like, stop second-guessing, right?


As we said before, the Biden coalition showed up. And that is a huge accomplishment for our party because if we can keep those voters engaged, that is momentum going into 2024 no matter who our nominee is.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, our reporting is that the White House is feeling vindicated today about their closing argument, which was democracy. And it seems like people -- many people did vote on the future of democracy.

CHARLIE DENT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM: Yes, they should take a little bit of a victory lap. When you win, you know, you're right. So, when he can make that case because it appears a lot of the election deniers are lost their races or are losing their races right now, so he should feel good about that. And that -- you know I think I agree too on the abortion issue that I think that -- I always felt that was going to have a mitigating impact on democratic losses more than now than I thought.

But democracy and abortion certainly played a role in this. And he should take the victory lap on whether or not he wants to be president again. You know, implicit in his message. I thought when he ran last time is, you'd be a transitional figure to the next generation, Democratic leadership don't -- CAMEROTA: A lot of people thought that --

DENT: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Dealt that. But he didn't explicitly say that.

DENT: I know. It was -- I said, it was implicit.


DENT: Yes.

STEWART: It's also important to remember, a win is a win, you know. We will certainly have loved to have won by 15, 20 points to gain the House if that's the direction of these votes. But I'll take a win.

CAMEROTA: Meaning even if it's smaller, it looks like Republicans --

STEWART: Even if its small ends of this hour are poised, they still take that, as we'll see.

FINNEY: Well --

DENT: Yes.

FINNEY: And that's kind of I think, for both sides that should tell nobody really got a mandate. Democracy maybe got a mandate. And what was interesting during this election, you didn't see any Republicans running on their account -- their bipartisan accomplishment, lots of Democrats did. So I hope part of the message we all take away, I know this is going to sound a bit naive, but I'll just say it anyway, is actually the people want you to work together to get something done for them because it's about them, not you.

CAMEROTA: Yes, most people do. Not the loudest people, but most people -- it turns out most Americans do. Abortion was actually on the ballot in at least -- at least five states. And abortion rights won on the ballot. So Michigan, California, Vermont, and Kentucky voted to keep abortion rights in their state constitutions. I think it's too early to call Montana.

But also, I think this is interesting in terms of the exit polling, inflation was at 31 percent. This is of total respondents. Abortion was number two at 27 percent, Karen. That is --


CAMEROTA: More than pre-election polling suggested in terms of a motivating factor.

FINNEY: Again, I'm going to tell you, the internal research that I've been looking at for two years has shown that was what was going to happen. And I'm so proud that our party stood firm against all the naysayers, especially those in my own party who were you know, saying it's not going to be just about abortion. No candidate just ran on abortion, but they understood that -- women understand this is a fundamental freedom to decide your life, your future, so -- and again, I think it is a reminder to us about polls.

DENT: Yes.

FINNEY: And really making sure that we are asking the right questions of poll -- of when we do polling.

EL-SAYED: No -- yes. And, Karen, to your point, abortion isn't even just about abortion.

FINNEY: That's right.

EL-SAYED: Abortion is about the economy, abortion is about health care, abortion is about fundamental rights, and who gets to decide them? And I think the fact that it is such a cross-cutting issue, abortion has a mandate. And I also want to comment, this is a pretty big smackdown for the Supreme Court. And I'm interested to see how court politics start to change, right? Because you have the court make a major change to American life, and then the voters came out and said, no, not in our states. And so, I'm really interested to see how Democrats in particular start to pivot around court politics in a way that we have not in the past.

STEWART: I'm also interested to see if Republicans as they get back in control if they will go back to try and see some type of federal legislation on abortion. I think that is a mistake. I fought really, really hard for many years on overturning Roe v. Wade but the caveat was to put this back in the power of the states. And I think states should be the ones to make this decision.

CAMEROTA: But do you think Lindsey Graham -- Senator Lindsey Graham backs off on his plan for a 15-week abortion ban? I mean, do you -- do you see that how --

EL-SAYED: I hope so.

CAMEROTA: Is it -- is there a message that they will take from this or will they press ahead?

STEWART: The key thing is to make sure there are some limits on abortion. You know, there are some Democrats that have very few limits on it. And the key is to make sure there are some limits. But we do not need to go back to a federal ban or a national ban on this and keep it in the hands of the state. But I'll say I'm impressed with the Gen Z vote coming out in full force.


STEWART: They were a big factor and abortion being a key issue because it strongly impacts them and they realize I can go to the polls and I can make a difference.

DENT: Republicans have to figure out that -- at least in my polling when I ran, about 30 percent of Republicans self-identified is -- wanting to keep abortion legal under most circumstances.

[11:55:06] Republicans are losing voters over this. A lot of Republicans voted in Kansas in order to keep abortion legal.

FINNEY: Yes, that's right.

DENT: Republicans are going to have to figure out how to moderate on this issue because these bands with no exceptions are clearly they're not popular politically.


DENT: You have to -- you have to win elections. They're killing themselves.

CAMEROTA: Guys, we have to leave it there.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for watching all these returns coming with us and for all of your analysis. It's been great to talk to you. And thanks everybody for watching. Results, of course, are still coming in with several key races still too close to call. We bring you the latest numbers next.