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CNN Live Event/Special
Senate Races: AZ, NV Too Close To Call; GA Goes To Runoff; Control Of House Still On The Line; 45 Races Undecided; Republicans Pick Up Several House Seats; No "Red Wave" So Far. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired November 09, 2022 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: With control of Congress still being decided, President Biden is about to speak to the nation. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And I'm Erin Burnett. And this is CNN Election Day in America Continued.
Less than an hour from now President Biden, as Wolf said, will be speaking from the White House. It's a 4 pm Eastern press conference that we are awaiting and he is doing this still not knowing who will control the House or the Senate. We're going to bring it to you live, of course, Wolf.
BLITZER: Of course, we will. And here's where things stand right now, Erin, in the House of Representatives, after a flurry of projections already this afternoon, there are still 45 seats that need to be called. But the Democrats path for holding control seems to be right now narrowing a bit.
On the Senate side, the number of races without CNN projections is now down to only three Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. And once again, in Georgia, that race is headed for a runoff election in early December. We have correspondents across the electoral map where the votes are still being counted.
Let's start in Arizona right now. CNN's Kyung Lah is joining us from Phoenix. Hey, Kyung, they are deep in the counting process right now, what is the latest?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, election week continues because as you just said Maricopa County, the most populous county here in the State of Arizona. That counting is still going on. I've spoken to all of the top campaigns and what's happening inside those war rooms are they have their experts out with their pens, their calculators or computers, and they are doing math. They are trying to figure out what is the path to get them to victory and that is still very much unknown.
Here in Maricopa County, there are about 400,000 ballots that are still being counted. Some of them have to be signature verified. It is going to take some time. And we just got the latest update from Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors, the head of the Board of Supervisors. And he says that the counting will not be over today, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES, (R) CHAIR MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Right now, we are laser focused on getting through this count and doing it in an accurate way. By the way, we anticipate 95 percent to 99 percent of the votes will be counted in Maricopa County by the end of the day this Friday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: And he's using those words laser focused, Erin, because there are all these conspiracies already swirling online. He says they're focusing on an accurate count. Erin?
BURNETT: That's right and going to get it right, as you say, as you John King says again and again, it is about the math. And as we await the math, await the count, we are awaiting a news conference with President Biden and our Phil Mattingly is at the White House for us now.
Phil, he's going to be doing this live. He's going to be taking questions on a much better than expected day, but still a day where he doesn't yet know who controls the Senate or the House. So what do you expect to hear from him?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's a balancing act, there's no question about that and his top advisors are very cognizant of that fact, not only do they not know who's going to end up holding the majority in the House and in the Senate, they understand there's a very real possibility that at least one of those chambers will flip to Republicans.
So the question right now going into this press conference is a President and his team who feel very vindicated about a strategy they deployed over the course of the closing weeks of the midterm campaigns, one that was criticized not just by Republicans, but by some in their own party, certainly ended up with a historic result in terms of how first term presidents from the one party in power do in midterm elections.
That is something the President is going to lay out in detail. That is something he is going to make clear, I'm told, underscores the popularity of both the agenda he's pushed forward over the course of the last two years, but also the strength of kind of the Democratic coalition moving into the next two years of his term. But how he balances the fact that there are still so many uncertainties and the reality that it is very likely at least one of those chambers will be flipping to Republicans. There's going to be a threading of the needle here. There's no question about that.
One thing though, that is very clear, officials told me there will be no spiking of the football, but there is a sense inside the West Wing that the President and his team are kind of forever underestimated, whether it was during the presidential campaign, past presidential campaigns certainly at various points through his first two years in the White House.
They feel like he has not gotten the credit he deserves in certain moments. This feels like vindication according to one advisor, something you will probably hear at least some element of from the President, how much he leans into that, I think is still an open question, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Phil Mattingly.
So let's go to John King. And John, look, President Biden is obviously or - obviously surely going to point to several big wins for Democrats, right? Fetterman on that list. So what are the biggest prizes so far for Joe Biden and the Democrats?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll get to the map in a second. I just want to echo Phil for one second, Erin. We don't know still a lot about the outcome. Joe Biden can say he did much better than Republicans thought he was going to do and he did much better than what history says - what traditionally happened in a president's first midterm without a doubt the President has bragging rights there. The issue is he may well still have divided government.
So he may beat history, if you will, but still have a very tough existence with divided government, (inaudible), you're absolutely right. Look, Joe Biden likes to call himself when he was the Delaware Senator before he was vice president, the third senator from Pennsylvania, it's where he was born. Not only did John Fetterman win that very competitive Senate race, but there are four competitive House races here. Let me just bring up the competitive seats in the House.
There were four competitive House seats in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Republicans thought they could win two or three of them goose egg for the Republicans in Pennsylvania. They not only lost the Senate race, but they also lost a competitive House races there.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia if you want to stay in the D.C. area, yes, Elaine Luria lost down here in the southeastern part of Virginia. But the other two vulnerable Democrats both held their seats and this one is telling Abigail Spanberger in a district Joe Biden carried by 6.7 percent. Republicans thought they were going to get a lot of those districts that Biden won by five or six points, they simply did not in Virginia.
You can go across the map. I'll just bring out the national map of the House of Representatives, close out the competitive races, so you see at all. That we see blue in Michigan, that we see blue in Wisconsin, that we see a little bit of blue, even out here in Kansas. Not all these races are called, but the Republicans thought they were going to wipe out the Democrats here and now we're waiting out on the West Coast that's the key one and that's why the President won't be able to say it at four o'clock, Erin. But the Democrats look more competitive in some of the California - southern California districts than Republicans thought a month or so ago. So the President can say it wasn't as bad as you all thought it was going to be, but even he can't give you a final number.
BURNETT: Right, absolutely. And as you point out, right, I mean, you could do better than expected, but if you have divided government, you still can't put your agenda through, right? In some sense is a loss is a loss in a macro perspective.
But back to the micro where you're talking about Democrats outperforming, what are some of the big wins for Republicans?
KING: Well, there's one that everybody in this town and Republicans around the country are talking about, that's the Florida governor's race, I'm going to get to in a second. I just want to say this, this town is often wrong and so there are people analyzing, it's just the case, right? And Donald Trump can't win the Republican nomination. Joe Biden is out after losing Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. And so I would be aware of any morning after when we still don't have the final numbers analysis.
But let me come to the State of Florida and let me look at the governor's race. There is no question that Ron DeSantis has a story itself today, right? Can he sell that nationally? Let's deal with that down the road. But does he have a story to tell today? Yes, he does. I just want to show you across the red down here and the red down here.
This is Ron DeSantis yesterday against Charlie Crist, 59 percent of the vote to 40 percent of the vote against a former governor now in Congress. That's an impressive win, especially when you go back in time, Erin, to look at Ron DeSantis four years ago against Andrew Gillum. See the blue in here?
KING: This is where independents live. These are swing counties. See down there, that's Miami-Dade, one of the most reliably democratic counties in Florida, right? Ron DeSantis one four years ago, but he lost Miami Dade and he lost some of the counties across the I-4 corridor right here.
Fast forward to today, there is no doubt, DeSantis can say, see, not only can I win my state, I win the swing areas in my state. I made inroads among Latino voters. That is a great story to tell. The question is can you sell it nationally and I want to say this, remember when Glenn Youngkin won in Virginia, he won against the former governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe. You have the former governor of Florida, Charlie Crist.
Voters don't like to go backwards. They don't like to go backwards. They like change or the status quo is preferable to going backwards. So here, yes, Ron DeSantis has bragging rights, but let's be careful not to over inflate it.
BURNETT: Yes, interesting. And interesting, of course, you bring up Glenn Youngkin, two of those stars of the GOP right now and they're very, very different people in their ...
BURNETT: ... the way they conduct themselves.
All right. Thank you so very much, John King. And next we'll be joined live by one of the four Democratic House candidates who were bright spots for Joe Biden's party.
BLITZER: Eleven Republicans so far have managed to defeat Democratic incumbents in the House of Representatives, just four Democrats have done likewise flipping Republican seats in the House. Greg Landsman is one of them beating incumbent Republican Congressman, Steve Chabot, in Ohio's first congressional district. Greg Landsman is joining us now live.
Congressman-elect, thanks so much for joining us. Congratulations to you. I know you've managed to flip this seat from the incumbent Republican congressman. What was the recipe for your success?
GREG LANDSMAN, (D) OHIO CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: Well, thanks for having me and it was a combination of things. I mean, obviously redistricting made a difference. It was a new district that was more favorable, but it was also the fact that he had been there for a long time, decades, but was one of the folks who sided with the insurrectionists and Trump on January 6 to overturn an election.
And as an election denier that put him in a bad place with independents and a lot of Republicans. So that - plus the fact is - he was known as a - anti-choice extremists and those two together made it very difficult for him in this new district. And so, we organize well, we had a good message, but ultimately, this district said very clearly last night, look, we want to be done with the chaos and the extremism. This is competitive, so if you're going to be in a competitive district, don't do the big lie and don't be on the far right when it comes to reproductive freedom.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, you obviously know what you're doing. As you know, President Biden was criticized just ahead of Election Day for straying from the message on the economy. He focused on threats to democracy, for example, focus to the issue of abortion rights for women, but was that the right message? Did that resonate with voters in your district?
LANDSMAN: Yes. I mean, I think that it did. I mean, look, the economy is top of mind for all of us. And I've got a young family, gas, groceries, all that stuff is something that we're thinking about and working through every day. And so, obviously, we're talking about the economy, reproductive freedom, we're in Ohio, we lost that after Dobbs, so that's top of mind. But fundamentally, our democracy is on the line and we have got to talk about it and be very clear about who's - going to protect our democracy and who's working to undermine it. So I think the President was smart to say, look, before you go into the ballot box, keep this in mind, because it's fundamental to everything else.
BLITZER: Congressman-elect, Democrats they're clearly and understandably breathing a sigh of relief today that this wasn't what was expected by so many of the so-called experts, a red wave, a big Republican win. But how much of a difference do you think that will make - it will make if Republicans still wind up controlling the House of Representatives, because if they do, they'll control the Committees, they'll set the agenda for all practical purposes, what's your reaction?
LANDSMAN: Well, I hope that makes a big difference. I mean, I hope they realize that what the country is looking for is folks to come together, to be done with the chaos, to be done with the extremism and to get to work. They want folks passing a whole host of things that are going to help them, right, as they're trying to pay for prescription drugs and they're trying to - fill up their gas tanks.
I mean, they expect this Congress to get to work and to be better behaved, and to just cast aside this hyper partisanship that has held us back for so long. So that's my hope and - I think it - as long as we keep pushing folks to say, look, no matter what, we're all going to have to work together differently and make sure that we're getting things done and that's where voters are.
BLITZER: Congressman-elect Greg Landsman, congratulations once again. We'll see you here in Washington once you show up. I appreciate it very much.
LANDSMAN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, as we await President Biden's news conference supposed to begin at the top of the hour, we'll go to Capitol Hill for new reporting just coming in on how this midterm may actually affect the House leadership. We've got some new information. We'll be right back.
BURNETT: All right. We are getting ready for President Biden to speak to the country. He is going to be taking questions doing all of this really within the next 30 to 40 minutes. And despite dodging a red wave, he's still looking at the possibility of dealing with a Republican House or Senate next year or both, we just don't know, right? Three Senate races uncalled and, of course, the House. We still don't know the outcome there.
Manu Raju joins me now with more on who in the House leadership he could be dealing with. And Manu, this is - maybe it's not the bad case scenario that many Democrats thought they were looking at, but still this isn't what Republicans were looking at either.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. They wanted a much bigger majority. In fact, a smaller majority could make Kevin McCarthy's live very difficult. The first thing that he has to deal with is assuming they take back the House is getting the votes to become speaker, And behind the scenes, Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly. Today, he assembled his whip team. Those are people that are fanning out across the Republican Conference and trying to lock down his support.
But having a small majority means dealing with some of the folks on the hard right of this conference. Some people who have been skeptical of him, people that are part of the House Freedom Caucus. Now we are told there are roughly two dozen or so members incoming and new and current members of the Freedom Caucus who are willing to vote against McCarthy if they do not extract proper concessions in their mind.
One of the concessions, having more leverage over the future speaker to essentially oust him if they don't like something that he's doing. McCarthy has resisted that in the past. Also, we were hearing they may put up a challenger against him in the leadership elections next week.
Now, that will be a long shot challenge. But Erin, next week, the Republicans will nominate their choice for speaker and then in the - in January, the first week of January, that speaker needs - designate needs to have the support of 218 members. That means there is a narrow majority, just a handful of defections could make McCarthy's life difficult, which is why a narrow majority could complicate things for him, Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly, it's - people may - a little counterintuitive, right, that a narrow majority, a narrower victory for Republicans than had been anticipated could result in more strident and far right Republican leadership and maybe not what many might expect. Now, Speaker Pelosi in the meantime held a private conference call today with the Democratic caucus. What are you learning about that?
RAJU: Yes. She did speak with - as part of this Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee meeting to discuss exactly what happened in those House races. Now, the chairman of that committee, Sean Patrick Maloney lost that race in the New York suburbs. That was one that got a lot of Republican attention.
RAJU: It was a big GOP pickup. She said on that call, she praised him for taking so much incoming fire from Republicans, soaking up a lot of money that would have ordinarily been spent in other districts. Now, what you did not discuss was what her own future is. She did not speak about that at all.
Some Democrats believe she's waiting for the House to be called, before determining, before announcing whether she will try to continue to run the caucus she has dominated over for the past two decades. And Erin, on that same call, Democratic officials were saying they believe there's a "mathematical possibility," they can still hold on to the House even though it is a very narrow path for them to do just that.
But the moment Democrats are hoping things will turn in their direction, at least keep the majority of the Republicans narrow, if not a long shot effort to try to keep the House despite all odds, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes. Despite all odds, but as you point out there is a narrow path. And as for Speaker Pelosi, everyone should remember she told Anderson the other day that what happened to her husband has impacted her thinking about what she'll do next. She didn't say in which way, but she was clear it has impacted that. Thanks so much, Manu.
And next, we're awaiting President Biden speaking live at the White House answering questions. We're going to look at what governing in Washington may look like over the next two years as the results come in.