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CNN Live Event/Special
Control Of Congress Still Uncertain, Key Races Too Close To Call; Nevada Senate Race Still Undecided; Trump Sees Some Wins But Adviser Says He's "Livid" Over Results; GOP Senators Planning To Campaign For Walker In Georgia; House Still Undecided As McCarthy Moves To Lock Down Speakership. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 09, 2022 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So let's go east to west. Number one, you have good Democratic candidates winning in tight races.
Two, a lot of evidence that the American people are exasperated, maybe mad at the Democrats but not willing in some parts of the country to take a risk on Republicans they view as too risky.
Let's look through and move the map. Republicans thought they would pick up some seats in New England. You see that? Six states in New England, they're all blue.
The main one is not done yet. I want to make clear about that. At the moment the idea that Republicans would pick up two, three, four, maybe five in New England, take that off the table.
So now let's move across the country some more. Michigan fascinating to me that you see in the competitive races right now, yes, the Republicans win one of them, Democrats win three.
So go from the east to west coast, including this one right here. When I went home at 2:30 this morning, Elissa Slotkin was behind but the votes come in. Another frontline Democrat identified as vulnerable, a lot of money going in here. Elissa Slotkin pulls off the race there.
In the Midwest, pop this up again, and still see a fair amount of blue. Frontline Democrats in vulnerable districts holding on.
If you want to pick one bright spot for Republican, you come out to Arizona. We still don't know the governor's race or Senate race there. They did flip.
This race here, Tom O'Halleran, a Democrat running in a district that Donald Trump carried by eight points, is a tough one.
So what you're seeing is Democrats in Trump districts had a tough day yesterday. But Democrats in districts that Biden won by two, three, four, five points, a lot of them, Erin, have scratched it out.
So the final number, where will that come? As we count a few outstanding races in the east and, much more importantly, it'll take days to get the final tally out on the west coast.
So no red wave. Perhaps a Republican majority but no red wave.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: A little tiny wave rolling in. Tiny, tiny.
Thanks so much, John King.
Next, new reporting on how Republicans are already preparing for that runoff on December 6th in Georgia and how they plan to rally support around Herschel Walker.
BURNETT: And we are back. Key race alert in Nevada, where the incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt are in an incredibly tight race.
Right now, Adam Laxalt is maintaining his lead, 49.9 percent. His margin right now, 22,595 votes ahead of the incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat.
But the key, only 80 percent of the estimated vote is in. And so much of that outstanding vote is in Clark County, Las Vegas, an area Biden won handily and where Catherine Cortez Masto, of course, had been running ahead of Adam Laxalt.
So this is why we are waiting and waiting for more numbers to come in.
Our Rosa Flores is in Las Vegas with new reporting on the vote count coming in.
What do you know, Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the new information that we're getting into the CNN NEWSROOM is out of Washoe County. This is in northwest Nevada.
And the reason why this is important is, you just mentioned that Laxalt was ahead of Catherine Cortez Masto by about 22,000 votes. Well, there's a batch of 20,000 votes that are being counted now in Washoe County.
These are mail-in ballots and also drop box ballots that were not counted yesterday. They are being counted today. So those numbers are not in the tally.
We're just learning here at CNN that everything is going smooth sailing in Washoe County. They're expecting to finish that batch of 20,000 votes today. And so we should see that reflected at some point today.
Now, once they receive the mail-in ballots from Wednesday, they're going to start processing those, as well. So there are more. The big question, of course, is how many more mail-in ballots are out
there? And the answer is, nobody really knows, because this is the first midterm election in which Nevada has this new policy where every registered voter gets a ballot in the mail unless they opt out.
And so, so long as that ballot is postmarked by yesterday, which is Election Day, it can be counted so long as it comes into the registrar's office by Saturday.
And so, Erin, that is the big question, in a race like this where the margins are razor thin, this batch of 20,000 ballots is so important because we could see that margin slim down. We could see it widen for one candidate or another. We just don't know at this point.
BURNETT: Yes, we just don't know. Of course, as you say the batch, 20,000 that we're awaiting, perhaps soon here today, the margin of victory right now, 22,595 in favor of Laxalt.
And that's just, as you point out, from Washoe County, not even talking about what still is outstanding in Clark County, home of Las Vegas.
All right, Rosa, stay with me.
But I also want to bring in Tabitha Mueller, the political reporter for "The Nevada Independent."
And, Tabitha, you've been watching and crunching numbers and I want to start with where Rosa finished here and the point she was making, that they don't yet know how many mail-in ballots there are.
So it's very hard to know if you don't know the overall number where we are in this process. What more do you know about the mail-in situation in Nevada?
TABITHA MUELLER, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT": Right, so we don't actually know where the full mail-in numbers and we're still going to be receiving mail-in ballots through Saturday.
But I think it's really important to note that our numbers are showing in Washoe County about 57,000 just looking at kind of the numbers that have come in and what's moving forward.
And in Clark County, which is going to be probably the deciding factor in this race, we're seeing tens of thousands of remaining ballots that are likely to be counted. Some estimates even up to 100,000.
And what's really important to know about these remaining ballots is that, based on voter turnout trends and what we're seeing, these ballots typically go in favor of Democrats.
Sometimes often what we're seeing right now is a margin of 2-1. So if all of these ballots are coming in and that margin of 2-1 is there, you know, favoring Democrats, Catherine Cortez Masto could still come out on top in this election.
However, it is important to note that Republicans did, you know, significant number of Republicans were dropping off ballots from what I could notice at voting sites. So it's still kind of anybody's guess.
Also, in addition to Washoe County and Clark County, we're seeing a couple thousand -- you know, some scattering of ballots that are still coming in in the mail that need to be counted in the rural areas of the state.
BURNETT: All right, so this is obviously -- it's really important what you're pointing out. If the margins such as they have been historically hold, Catherine Cortez Masto would really end up being able to pull this out.
But you don't know how things have changed necessarily, to your point, right, now that rules have changed. It's easier to vote earlier, earlier to mail in. Do more Republicans avail themselves of that?
Do you think we will know the results in Nevada before Saturday when every one of those postmarked mail-ins would have to be received?
MUELLER: I do think that we'll start getting an indication of what the results will be, especially as Clark County starts coming in with those tabulations.
I will say that we are expecting an update from the Clark County voter registrar's office this afternoon, probably at about 11:30. So that might give us a better indication of how many remaining ballots exactly are there left to count and when can we expect to know enough of a margin to be able to call a race.
BURNETT: Right, I should emphasize, you say 11:30, so that's 2:30 Eastern for those watching on the east coast but that's a crucial time, right? You're talking about possibly the entire balance of the Senate at stake, getting those numbers.
What they say at that press conference could be very important so we'll watch that incredibly closely.
Tabitha, before you go, what are the most -- the top issue that voters you have spoken to said they care about to give us an indication?
MUELLER: So I think it also depends on what voters were talking about. When I was out at ballot -- or when I was out at polling locates yesterday, I spoke with Republicans who were emphasizing that the economy was the top issue for them, as well as inflation and high housing costs.
And spoke with a voter outside the Sparks Library here in Washoe County, and, you know, just down the street you have Siegel Suites and they're talking about how rent is going too high and they don't know how to deal with it and what happens if you can't make minimum wage to afford that?
On the other hand, I spoke with a lot of younger voters at UNR and sort of people that identified as Democrats and their top issues were abortion as well as civil rights. And we had some people also talking about trans rights, too, with some of the statements made in the election.
BURNETT: Tabitha, thank you very much.
Interesting to see what voters care about.
Wolf, as we get ready in the next 40 minutes or so for what could be an important update from Clark County.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Very important indeed, Erin. Thank you very much.
I want to bring in CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, right now, Audie Cornish, CNN anchor and correspondent, and Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst.
Mark, it's interesting, several Trump-backed candidates lost some key races last night. What's your analysis? Other Trump-backed candidates are trailing even as we speak right now. What's your analysis of how bad a time this was for Trump?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it was terrible. We had this conversation about this time yesterday about would he take credit or would he take responsibility? And he's clearly not taking responsibility.
In fact, what was telling last night. Two tells. First tell was when he gave his speech down at Mar-a-Lago because he had a victory party, even though he wasn't on the ballot, but that's Donald Trump.
But when he gave a victory speech, he turned to the Alabama Senate candidate who was going to win no matter what and used that as an exam many of them who he endorsed, you know, to, you know, win the seat in Alabama, which is like going to Alaska and, you know, endorsing snow, right? I mean it's there. It is going to happen.
The second big tell J.D. Vance in Ohio when he was thanking everybody for their help and for their help --
PRESTON: -- campaign. Everybody. I mean, in fact, if we had listened to it, the four of us may have been on the list somewhere. Who was not on the list? Donald Trump.
BLITZER: He mentioned about 30 names.
BLITZER: He didn't mention Donald Trump.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know -- (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: And he was a Trump backer.
CORNISH: He was. He was. And one thing this made me think of, there was so much conversation about where Biden needed to be and if it was a hurt or a help for Biden to stand next to a candidate.
I think people may again review where Trump was and whether or not it hurt or help.
In Pennsylvania, bringing Mehmet Oz on stage with Doug Mastriano, a candidate who was very much struggling and had been, you know, pretty well defined by his rival in ads, I don't think that helped Oz.
And I think people are going to really be scrutinizing where Trump is helpful and if it's not in purple and swing states, that's a problem.
BLITZER: Certainly is.
Jamie, we know Trump, based on that reporting, is fuming right now over the results, at least so far. And he's also fuming that the governor of Florida was re-elected. Not just re-elected but big time, Ron DeSantis. And Trump is no big fan. He made fun of him just the other night.
So you've been talking to Republicans. What are they telling you?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, to Mark's point, Audie's point, yesterday was a bad day for Donald Trump. No question about it.
It also, by the way, was not a great day for Kevin McCarthy, who it looks like he's going Republicans are going to take the House. But if it is a slim margin, he's going to have a tricky path navigating it with the Freedom Caucus.
But to go back to Donald Trump, look, what does this mean to him? He is never going to take the blame. He's going to say, oh, they were weak candidates, not my fault. He'll always take the credit.
He'll look at his polls, his ratings, as he likes to call them, but Trump never admits defeat. I do not think, talking to my sources, that this will in any way change.
We assume that in the next week or two, maybe the 15th, he is going to announce that he's running. Everybody I spoke to in Trump world, and Republican sources, say they expect him to go ahead full steam.
I will say it does change, I think, the dynamics for GOP presidential hopefuls, people who might not have gotten in the race are going to take a second look, especially since they are seeing that there are Republican voters out there across the country who want to move on from Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Yes, good point, indeed. You know, Mark, the Georgia Senate race, which is so, so important, is
going to a runoff right now in early December, I think December 6th there will be a runoff election.
You got some new reporting on how the Walker campaign, Herschel Walker campaign is preparing for this.
PRESTON: So right now, what we've been told -- just in the last hour or so I talked to the Walker campaign. We are seeing the Republican establishment coalesce very quickly behind Walker.
And, of course, you would expect that to happen but perhaps even quicker, given what's at stake right now. which is potentially control of the Senate and what little of Joe Biden's agenda may or may not get through in the next couple of years/
But told Ted Cruz will be the first Senator we'll see tomorrow and arrive and campaign for Walker. He'll be one of many over the next month, see a lot of Republican Senators down there.
What was interesting with the Walker campaign and what they told me a short time ago, they said it was smart that Joe Biden didn't come into Georgia. It was a very smart move on the Warnock campaign because they weren't able to tie him as tight as they wanted to.
What we should expect in the next three or four weeks is we'll see an incredible amount of exposure just on Warnock himself and how control of the Senate, the control of the Republican conservative agenda or the establishment of one is going to rest on this race.
One thing about DeSantis, because I do think it's interesting and, in some ways sad. DeSantis a huge winner, but DeSantis has a hurricane coming into Florida right now, which is awful.
But you can -- he can use this as an opportunity to show leadership skills coming off of just an amazing night that he had.
CORNISH: Or the flip side is that's why people respond to him because, fundamentally, he does try to do the job of governing.
CORNISH: And I think, while this wasn't a referendum on Trump in the way people expected, it was a referendum on Trumpism. What does it mean to be that kind of candidate? Does it involve election deniers and do swing and Independent voters want to go forward with that agenda.
BLITZER: He did have a very, very impressive win in Florida, DeSantis.
All right, guys, everybody stand by.
A lot more coming up, including we're getting right now new reporting from Capitol Hill on the Republican plan as we wait to see which party will control the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: All right, in Washington right now, the fate of the House and the Senate both unknown, hanging in the balance.
And meantime, on Capitol Hill, you've got Kevin McCarthy and Republicans trying to see what's next.
We have got Capitol Hill reporter, Melanie Zanona, with me now.
Melanie, what has the reaction been to the election results on Capitol Hill today, dripping in, dripping in. We still don't yet know full control, though.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, exactly right. But the general consensus that Republicans are very disappointed.
And I have learned, along with my colleague, Manu Raju, that there are two dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus who are willing to vote against Kevin McCarthy for speaker. And depending on the margins, that could be enough to put his speakership bid in peril.
There are two votes McCarthy has to get through. First, an internal leadership election among Republicans. He only needs a simple majority for that vote. And then there's a floor vote in January where he needs 218 votes.
The strategy right now among House Republicans is to try to put up a candidate, a challenger during that first internal leadership election vote, and that way they'll have someone to vote against McCarthy for.
And the thinking there is that they want to send a message to McCarthy, show him he doesn't have the votes for that floor vote, and try to force him to the table so they can demand some concessions out of him.
And they want a number of things. Mostly related to trying to get more power.
Meanwhile, Kevin McCarthy wasting no time trying to lock down the votes. I'm told he had a call where he tapped a number of allies to start whipping support for speaker.
But no doubt, this will be a messy process, even if McCarthy does get there in the end -- Erin?
BURNETT: Really important reporting, Melanie. He would have perhaps thought and hoped it would go very differently. But has something like this happening already before they can even confirm that they have won the House, it says so much about what may be in store for.
Thank you so much, Melanie Zanona, reporting live from Capitol Hill.
Next hour, we'll speak with a top official in Maricopa County, Arizona. Because that is where, as we talk about not knowing, hundreds of thousands of votes are still being counted in these crucially close races, in the case of Arizona, for both Senate and governor.