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Biden Adviser: Feeling Vindicated For Fending Off Huge GOP Gains; Biden About To Speak As Control Of Congress Is Still Undecided; McCarthy Calls Republicans With Eyes On Speakership. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 15:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Now we have a projection just coming into CNN right now. In Michigan, the tenth district, Michigan 10, Republican John James we project is the winner in that district. It's a redistrict that's been redistricted because of the population changes, but it's another Republican win.

Let's take a look at the balance of power as it stands right now going into these final days, before the new Congress comes back. Right now, the balance of power shows 204 Republicans to 187 Democrats. 44 seats still remain outstanding. You need 218 to be the majority in the House of Representatives. And once again, the Congressman-elect John James wins Michigan 10. Another Republican win in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States has spent the last few minutes tweeting out a new video of him congratulating Democrats on their winning elections. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden. Congratulations, kid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you, Mr. President?

BIDEN: I'm better knowing you won, I tell you. Congratulations and I'm so happy for you. I really am.


BLITZER: And it comes as the president of the United States is expected to deliver a statement to the nation and indeed to the world right at the top of the hour. Then answer any reporters' questions at the White House. He'll have live coverage of course here on CNN. He'll be speaking about the midterm election results. That's coming up in about a half an hour or so.

But right now, I want to bring back Jamie Gangel, Audie Cornish and Mark Preston. Audie, the president -- it's clear the president is suggesting that this was a very, very big win for the Democrats and certainly the Republicans did not have a win as they had anticipated certainly by no means along those lines. But what do you think about the president's message? What is he saying coming up at the top of the hour?

AUDIE CORNISH, ANN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he's -- I don't know if we're going to hear the word mandate which often happens after an election. But it certainly sort of bolsters the idea that they had accomplishments to run on, and if Democrats in key areas did run on those accomplishments, that that was a positive thing to be done.

I think the meme-ready, you know, congratulations that they're sending out which you're going to see on social media kind of speaks to their savvy about how to send that message. And at the end of the day anything less than a shellacking was going to be considered good. I mean, I think that's just the fact of it. It just wasn't that, and therefore it's a good day for him.

BLITZER: It certainly not a shellacking -- but go ahead.


MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think this was one of those times where Joe Biden can sit back and say, listen, I've been in Washington since 1973, right, '72 when he was elected. And many of you Democrats didn't want me, and I understand that, but the fact of the matter is, you know, my policies that I fought for helped you, you know?

CORNISH: And do we think he's not OK with that? Like I do wonder if this White House just says, you know what, you do what you need to do with your races, that's OK. The president is not going to, like, take offense to that.

PRESTON: No, no, no. Look, if he will show no offense today, but I mean deep down inside, I mean, every politician, you know, has a heart of glass, right. It's easily to break, you know. Easily to do that. But I do think it says something, you know, for Joe Biden to come out, I think, today I think to show real leadership is to try to move quickly beyond the election and say, OK, you know, a couple of races still need to be figured out. The fact of the matter is we've got to get this done, this done, this done, this done.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There's one word we heard him say in those calls, happy. He really is happy today. They, you know, they may have said that they always exceed expectations or whatever, but nobody was sure what was going to happen in the last 24 hours.

Another point I think we should make is yesterday we sat here and I think that I quoted James Carville and said, it's the economy, stupid. Well, yes, it was the economy, but it was also abortion and it was also democracy, and those are big wins not only for Biden, but for the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: Yes, there's no doubt that after Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in his first midterm, he lost a whole bunch of seats in the House of Representatives. Same with Barack Obama. In this particular case, let's see what happens when the final count comes forward, but it's not going to be as bad as so many have anticipated for the Democrats.

We'll pick up this conversation after a very short break. When we come back, as we await the president of the United States to speak, we'll talk more about his -- his political future.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, we are awaiting President Biden's first news conference since voters made their choices at the polls. I emphasize choices because we don't yet know what they chose yet in the balance of power. Biden is though expected to take a victory lap after Democrats did better than many expected in Tuesday's election.

Back with me now, Bakari, Ana, Ashley and the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia Goeff Duncan. So, Bakari, we still do not know who will win the House or the Senate. OK, there is a narrow path still for the Democrats in the House. Extremely narrow, it exists though. But we don't know who won. Is it too soon for a victory lap?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think honestly this early, if you are going to give a victory lap, now is the time to do it. What the president -- what I would ask the president to do though is be very, very forward-thinking. I mean, you can spike the ball if you want to a little bit, but let's talk about what you are going to do over the next two years. And let's talk about, you know, the last time we were here, we were questioning whether or not he would have any successes. And I have to remind people that all of to his major successes, the infrastructure bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, COVID relief, they were all bipartisan.

And so, I hope that he projects that going forward, and I have a feeling he's going to be more Joe Biden than Donald Trump in saying this is me, me, me, me. I also hope that he acknowledges the work the vice president did as well.

BURNETT: I want to talk to you about that. But Ana, what do you think? I mean honestly, you know, doing better than history shows or better than expected if you are still going to lose the House, you know, you have to be careful how you position that.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN COMMENTATOR: Listen, everything in life is about expectations and the bottom line is he beat expectations. The way people were talking, even veteran Democratic strategists, it was, you know, Joe Biden should be in bed right now under the covers sucking his thumb and every Democrat in the country should be wearing a black veil. That did not happen. That entitles him to spike the football. I even think he could do a little end zone dance.

And I think he should remind people and, you know, one of the things that I think this White House and Democrats in general need to do is stop bringing their -- hand so much about whether you've endorse Joe Biden in 2024. That's two years away and start touting the victories.

The truth of the matter is that in the last two years with a very difficult breakdown in Congress, and particularly the Senate, this president has managed to get a lot of bipartisan legislation -- major bipartisan legislation done, and he should be taking credit for that, and they should be screaming it from every mountain top.

BURNETT: And now --

NAVARRO: And by the way, he should be doing it in Spanish too.

ASHLEY ALLISON, JOE BIDEN'S NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR: Well, now he may end up with Senate, but not with the House. So, it's a flipped situation to what he had before.

Yes, I hope today president Biden thanks the people. If we go back to 2020, he built a robust coalition and brought people who supported Bernie Sanders, who supported Elizabeth Warren. And my not even originally supported him or wanted him to be on the ticket. But he heard them. He moved on issues around abortion, around marijuana, around student loan cancellation, and then he delivered, and so people saw that. They appreciate it and organizers worked their butts off this cycle in really, really hard races. People showed out and voted in really challenging ways and he needs to thank the people.

BURNETT: To thank the people. All right, so what do you think is at stake here?

GEOFF DUNCAN, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA: Well certainly, President Biden has earned the right to have a good steak dinner tonight and maybe enjoy a battle of wine. But when he gets up tomorrow, he has the same batch of issues to deal with. He's going to have to figure out the riddle in Georgia. Does he jump on team Warnock? Does he stay away?

BURNETT: Right, is he going to go down there?

DUNCAN: Then he is going to have to figure out, you know, deal with the whispers of his own party and he going to be the nominee in 2024. And then he's got the economy. You know, it continues to unravel.


If you work for Facebook today and you're one of the 11,000 who got laid off, and all the other endless number of companies that are doing it, you're probably not a fan of Joe Biden or the economy. And so, I think he's going to wake up tomorrow with the realities of having to go back to work and deal with some very, very difficult stuff.

BURNETT: And as you point out, got to figure out his future. You know, the exit polls, Bakari, showed, you know, 30 percent of people want Biden to actually run for re-election. That's it. 30 percent.

SELLERS: That's the question?

BURNETT: That's going to be the question, yes.

SELLERS: So, you know, I think that, you know, I do think that the president of the United States has every right to run for president again. I think there's going to be a question that many Democrats have about whether or not that is the appropriate thing. But again, let's celebrate. We'll have that discussion.

NAVARRO: Who needs to be thanked is Joe Biden and Doug Emhoff. Those two have traveled all over the country.

BURNETT: All right, we are moments away from President Biden's press conference. His first public comment since last night's election. We'll bring it to you live.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: At the White House right now, President Biden is just moments away from holding a news conference about the midterm election results. He will face reporters and the nation with control of the House and the Senate still up in air as election night in America continues. I'm Jake Tapper, we are back in the CNN Election Center as we wait hear from President Biden.

Let's take a look at where the expectations define cliffhanger elections stands this hour. In the fight for the Senate, Democrats now hold 48 Senate seats, Republicans have 49. They need to pick up two more seats, Republicans, in order to get 51 seats required to retake Senate control. The balance of power hinging on three key Senate races that remain undecided, in Georgia, in Arizona, and in Nevada. It could all come down to Georgia where CNN projects the contest between incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker is headed to a December runoff.

In the House of Representatives, 218 seats are needed to control that chamber. Democrats, now trailing with 187 seats compared to 204 for Republicans, with 44 races still uncalled. Republicans closer to winning a majority, although likely not as large as House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had hoped.

As we standby to hear from President Biden, we are told Biden and his team are feeling vindicated by the results so far. The Democrats bucking historic trends and defying predictions that a red wave would sweep over them in this election.

A less upbeat outcome for former president Donald Trump. His endorsements in some high-profile races, failing to deliver the swift and sweeping victories many Republicans anticipated. Our political team is in place to cover it all, including Dana Bash, Abby Philip, Chris Wallace and Casey Hunt. John king is back at the Magic Wall to show us where and why we still cannot call key races. David Chalian is digging deeper into the issues influencing voters choices. And Brianna Keilar is at the Voting Desk monitoring how and when the remaining ballots are being counted.

In addition, of course our correspondents are standing by as more votes come in to be counted. And President Biden gets ready to take questions. Let's go right to Phil Mattingly, he's at the White House. Phil, what are we expecting to hear from President Biden when he comes out, which could be at any moment?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, there is really a moment where the president holds a formal press conference. But this is the format that will give him ample opportunity to really lay out what White House advisers call equal parts vindication and validation. Vindication, because they were able to a buck those historic trends. They were able to buck inflation that remains at four decades highs.

And while they have lost and will likely lose the House at this point, they believe it underscores the reality that his agenda is popular, that his approach is popular, and while the president's approval ratings aren't exactly sky-high. They have still managed to buck those trends.

Now it is a tricky balancing act right now. Obviously, the Senate and House remain uncalled. White House officials are keenly aware the House is likely to flip even though it is closer than just about anybody thought it would be.

And it raises very critical questions going forward. The president has made clear he would start to think through his decision about seeking reelection after the midterm elections. We are now a day after the midterm elections. And he also has to weigh the possibility at a Washington reshaped. A House Republican conference, no matter how small the majority, dramatically changes what the president can do and what the president will face over the next two years.

Those are all critical elements that we expect the president to delve into here. But when you talk to White House officials, there is no denying the fact that they are very pleased with what they saw last night, very closely watching how the races that are still outstanding play out. But certainly, a better night than most people expected. And White House officials feel very good about that, in advance of the presidents marks -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly at the White House. Let's go to Capitol Hill now where Manu Raju is. And Manu, you and I talked about this, the man who wants to be a House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, early in the year he had predicted the Republicans would take 60 seats. He lowered expectations since then.


But they've got to be disappointed because while there is still about 30 or so races that remain uncalled, this does not look like the sweeping momentum he was hoping for.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it complicates his path, even if they do take the majority, which they are on track to take the majority. It could be a very narrow one. It could make governing difficult and also make the first task for Kevin McCarthy difficult. That is getting the votes to become the House Speaker.

Now, behind the scenes Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly. He assembled his teams of whips today in order to fan out across the House Republican conference, lockdown enough support in order for him to become the next Speaker of the House.

But there's a problem. With the narrow majority, that will almost certainly embolden the far-right faction of his conference. The House Freedom Caucus who we are told is threatening to vote against Kevin McCarthy. Roughly two dozen or so members are suggesting they are open to voting against him if they don't get some concession.

Some of those key concessions, putting the idea of impeaching Joe Biden on the table. Putting the idea of impeaching some cabinet members like Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Homeland Security Department. Putting that issue on the table as well.

Now in order for Kevin McCarthy to get those votes, he will have to cut some of those deals. Because next week will be the first step in the process. He has to get the nomination from his conference, half in the numbers need to vote for him. But then the big vote happens in January where you would have to get 218 votes in the full House of Representatives to become the next Speaker of the House. And a narrow majority, means a handful of members, if they defect, will complicate that path. And, Jake, we are told that those far-right members are looking at this possibility of putting up a challenger against him next week, a long shot challenger who they believe will force him to come to the table. But while they are happy, they have the majority, the margins do matter and McCarthy is contending with that reality right now.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Let's talk about this with my august panel. Dana Bash let me start with you. What is president Biden going to say? I guess he is going to try to spin this as a victory. And certainly, it does seem to be defying expectations as to how many seats Republicans will pick up. But they are still likely to win the House.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Republicans are still likely to win the House but maybe even the Senate, you're right. But what you're going to hear for sure from the president -- according to sources on talking to. And I know my colleagues are as well. Is a bit of a victory lap. And I know that sounds a bit off and doesn't really make it clear that that is the reality of what we are going to see in January.

But remember what the White House has been up against. They have been up against even many in their own party saying, why did you end on democracy? Why are you pushing abortion so much? Well, they believe the White House that that is what helped the Democratic turnout. And if not for that, then it would've been a whole lot worse.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I'm hearing the same thing. Look, this morning I spoke to a source in the White House who said, the mood was almost giddy. Because I think, even they beat their own expectations. They tried to put together what they thought was the best closing argument they could under the circumstances. Frankly, not really knowing if it would be enough to hold back the gravity of history, the gravity of the president's approval ratings, which are upside down. And I do think that what we saw last night was, when you look at the

scope of recent American history, the last say 40 years, you don't really see incumbent presidents who are as unpopular as President Biden is, getting the result that they got last night. And I think that's why you are probably going to hear Biden, with some caution, saying something along those lines.

But I will say one other thing. Remember, Biden campaigned as wanting to bring back the soul of the nation. I do think that there is a feeling now that Americans responded to the idea that there should be lines drawn with some of these candidates who went too far on the election denial, too far on the conspiracy theories. And I would not be surprised if you heard him talking about what that means for the country, not just for them.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: You know, back in 2006, George W. Bush lost 30 seats in a midterm. And he called it a thumping. In 2010, Barack Obama lost 63 seats, and he called it a shellacking. Well clearly, Biden didn't stuff those kinds of losses. It'll be a very interesting to hear how he characterizes what happened last night.

You know, to pick up on something that Abby said. And I wasn't sure it was going to work, but his final pitch, which wasn't about abortion or inflation, it was about democracy. Democracy is on the ballot. Well, it does seem to have been very effective when you look at these races. There were a whole lot of election deniers across the country for governor, for Senator, especially for Secretary of State, who lost.