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The Situation Room
Interview With Former CDC Director Thomas Frieden; Interview With NAACP President Derrick Johnson; COVID-19 Cases Surging; Trump, Biden On The Trail As Race Heats Up One Week To Election; Supreme Court Rejects Wisconsin Extended Deadline For Ballots; Philadelphia Police Bracing For Another Night Of Protests Over Fatal Shooting Of Black Man. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired October 27, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic also is breaking records tonight, the daily average of new cases here in the United States hitting another all-time high, as the death toll tops 226,000 and total cases surpass 8.7 million.
Let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, with, what, one week to go, the president out on the campaign trail tonight, making more false claims and complaining a lot.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is, Wolf.
And President Trump is claiming he's done a -- quote -- "great job" on the coronavirus, even as he's holding rallies that could well become super-spreader events. And former President Barack Obama is clearly setting under the president's skin. Mr. Trump is complaining that FOX News should not be airing Obama's speeches in support of Joe Biden.
And the president is demanding that the results from the election be finalized on November 3, even though that's not how it works at all.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I have got to say, I'm working my ass off here.
ACOSTA (voice-over): One week until Election Day and trailing in the polls, President Trump is in a race against time and the coronavirus, staging multiple potential super-spreader rallies on a daily basis, even as he defends his COVID-19 response.
TRUMP: COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.
On November 4, you won't be hearing so much about it.
ACOSTA: Democrat Joe Biden is delivering Mr. Trump of incompetence, delivering speeches in smaller, but safer, socially distanced settings. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president keeps telling us
not to worry. He keeps telling us we're turning the corner, is his quote. This is removed from reality and is offensive.
ACOSTA: Pressed by CNN on whether he simply blew it on the virus, the president said he would welcome the judgment of the voters.
(on camera): Mr. President, should the voters judge you on COVID? And did you blow it?
TRUMP: Voters are judging me on a lot of things. And one of the things we have done a really good job on is COVID. But now we're doing vaccines, we're doing therapeutics, and we have done a great job. And people are starting to see.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Still, the president is sounding angry that the election may hinge on his handling of the pandemic, tweeting: "All the media wants to talk about is COVID, COVID, COVID."
Former President Barack Obama is mocking Mr. Trump's COVID coverage obsession.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's his closing argument? That people are too focused on COVID. He said this at one of his rallies. COVID, COVID, COVID, he's complaining. He's jealous of COVID's media coverage.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump is also furious at FOX News for airing Obama's speeches, as he longed for that network's deceased former president.
TRUMP: I only saw he was on FOX. And FOX puts him on all the time. And this would not have happened with Roger Ailes. I can tell you that.
ACOSTA: But the president has bigger election problems on his hands, like the way he's turned off women voters, making offensive comments, as he did once again in Michigan.
TRUMP: Your husbands, they want to get back to work, right? They want to get back to work. We're getting your husbands back to work. And everybody wants it.
ACOSTA: After putting Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court, Mr. Trump appears to be seeking her assistance if ballots are being counted after Election Day.
The president is echoing an argument in a case on absentee ballots in Wisconsin made by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote: "Those states want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flip the results of an election. And those states also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter."
TRUMP: It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate. And I don't believe that that's by our laws. I don't believe that.
ACOSTA: But that's not true. The results don't always come in on election night. Just ask Mr. Trump, who declared victory the morning after Election Day in 2016.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who appeared on FOX from a Trump campaign studio, blurring her role as a government spokesperson, maintains the president is cruising to victory, even as the lights went off during the interview.
STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: You feel you have got the momentum going here, with just a week to go?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Oh, there's no doubt about it, Stu. Do we have a tailwind behind us. The lights just went off. They're back on. But we have a tailwind behind us.
ACOSTA: And speaking of rallies, we saw the first lady on the trail for her husband.
This was her first event of the campaign earlier today. She took some time in her remarks to go after former Vice President Joe Biden, some striking comments there from the first lady.
And we should also note the president's schedule today, Wolf. Take a look at this map, the president campaigning not just in Michigan, but Wisconsin as well. He just landed there and later on tonight in Nebraska and Omaha. That's next door to Iowa.
All these states are states that Mr. Trump carried last time. Gives you a sense of just how much trouble he is in right now. He is back on his heels seven days until the election and playing defense tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He certainly is.
All right, Jim Acosta, stand by. We're going to get back to you.
I want to get some more now on the former vice president's campaign strategy, with only one week left.
Our political correspondent, Arlette Saenz, is in Atlanta for us with the former vice president.
Georgia is a state that President Trump won in 2016. So, what's the latest there, Arlette? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, Joe Biden is here in Atlanta, Georgia, campaigning in a state that a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't won since 1992, but one where the Biden campaign thinks that they can make a real play in this final week before the election. And Biden just wrapped up his drive-in events here in Atlanta, where he talked once again about the coronavirus pandemic and criticized the president's handling of it. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I know it's hard. Over the past few months, there's been so much pain, so much suffering, so much loss in America, more than 225,000 dead Americans because of COVID-19, 7,800 right here in Georgia.
Millions of people are out of work, on the edge. They can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. And Donald Trump has given up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: Now, Joe Biden acknowledged in his speech here that, just four years ago, people probably never imagined the Democratic nominee campaigning in a state like Georgia with just a week to go.
But the Biden campaign clearly thinks that they can build off of some of the excitement in this state, targeting people like black voters, as well as young voters. Earlier today, the deputy campaign manager to the campaign said that they are looking to keep every path to 270 electoral votes open, and that is why they are playing in a state like Georgia.
BLITZER: Arlette, the former vice president is in Georgia making closing arguments to the American people. What's his bottom-line message? What have you been hearing today?
SAENZ: Well, Wolf, Joe Biden is essentially ending this campaign right where he started. He's been incredibly consistent since the start of his campaign, framing this as a battle for the soul of the nation and saying that the character of the nation is on the ballot, and he is someone who can bring healing.
He went to Warm Springs, Georgia, which was the retreat of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he sought to draw some parallels there. But take a listen to a bit more, as he talked about the need to unite the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Anger and suspicion are growing. And our wounds are getting deeper. And may many wonder, has it gone too far? Have we passed the point of no return? Has the heart of this nation turned to stone?
I don't think so. I refuse to believe it. I know this country. I know our people. And I know we can unite and heal this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: The Biden campaign really believes that that message will resonate with the country, particularly in this moment of a divided nation dealing with multiple crises. Now, while Biden is here in Georgia, we already have a bit of a
glimpse at the rest of his week. He's heading down to that all- important critical battleground state of Florida later in the week. He's also going to Iowa, another one of those reliably, typically reliably red states that the Biden campaign is trying to make a play in.
And then he will also be traveling to Michigan and Wisconsin. Biden told reporters recently that it's important to reestablish the blue wall, referring to those two states, as well as Pennsylvania, those three states President Trump won back in 2016 and Biden is hoping to flip back to the blue column in just a few weeks -- in just a few days -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He won those three states narrowly, but he won and it helped him become president of the United States.
Arlette, stay with us.
Jim Acosta, I want you to be with us as well. Derrick Johnson is joining us right now, the president and CEO of the NAACP.
Derrick, Donald Trump and Joe Biden aren't the only ones campaigning this week. As you know, Barack Obama is becoming a fixture on the campaign trail as well, campaigning for Biden, Democrats are certainly hopeful that the former president can energize especially black men, Latinos, younger voters and in those battleground states.
Can Joe Biden really win without the support of those voters, who -- many of whom last time decided not to necessarily even go out to vote? You need that base, though, to show up and vote, right?
DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT: Well, the ingredient for the Democratic Party to win, the top of the ticket to the bottom of ticket, is the black vote.
African-American women, it's the strongest voting bloc within the party. African-American men are the second strongest voting block within the party. So it is crucial that that base is fired up and see themselves in the outcome of this election.
But, most importantly, it is crucial for the black community show up to save this nation and reestablish some level of civility in our public discourse.
BLITZER: And you believe President Obama can do that?
JOHNSON: President Obama, well, he is a proven voice of hope.
Think about 2008, "Yes, we can," a message of hope, very simple, direct, to the point. And people felt across racial lines that we could be a country to look forward and stop looking at a different reality. What we seen in 2016 was a message of fear, without a parallel hope
message, make America great again, again part say, let's make America 1950s again.
We are at a juncture, at an inflection point. When -- the protesters in the streets, they look like America. Now it's time for people to turn out to vote and define, are we going to be an America that's looking towards 2030, or are we going to be America that's divisive, and we're looking at militias in the street that's planning to kidnap governors?
I say that we should be an America that looks forward, that's inclusive, and prosperous.
BLITZER: You know, Arlette, President Obama's role seems to be leveling very tough criticism at the same time at President Trump. He's really going after him.
Was that a strategic decision made by the Biden campaign?
SAENZ: Well, Wolf, they clearly calculated that this was the moment that they essentially wanted to unleash President Obama out on the campaign trail.
This is now his third stop that he's made in the past week, where he has just really been very -- incredibly forceful in his criticism of President Trump.
There's perhaps no better surrogate who can speak to Joe Biden and his abilities in the White House. But, also, it is just so rare to have a former president out there on the campaign trail slamming away at the current occupant of the White House.
And his message carries a particular resonance, because of how rare that does happen. And so you have seen the Biden campaign and President Obama really maximize his appearances to make the most emphasis, not just in trying to turn out black men and Latinos and young voters, but also just to make the stark contrast with the way things operated in an Obama/Biden administration, and the way that the current occupant of the White House runs things there.
BLITZER: Are you concerned, Derrick, about voter suppression, voter intimidation in this election, given the extremely divisive political climate we're in right now?
What are civil rights leaders doing right now to try to address these issues with a week left?
JOHNSON: Well, I'm excited with voter turnout.
The best way to overcome full suppression is to overwhelm the system with legitimate citizens voting. And what we have seen across the country is unprecedented. Many of my colleagues across civil rights community, we're excited, we're enthusiastic, but we're planning to make sure that the access to voting is afforded to all citizens. Let's look forward. We are in the midst of an opportunity. It is a
beautiful thing to see a democracy work, with over 60 million, close to 70 million people have already cast their ballots. So let's support individuals getting out to the polls.
I'm excited by overwhelming the system with voters. This is a beautiful day.
BLITZER: You know, Jim -- Jim Acosta is still with us as well.
The Wisconsin governor is sounding the alarm now about the dire situation his state is facing because of the coronavirus, at the same time the president is getting ready to hold another huge, presumably not socially distanced, rally there.
The dissonance is truly astounding. Update our viewers on what you're hearing.
ACOSTA: Yes, Wolf, it's almost as if he is trying to help Joe Biden at this point when it comes to this issue of the coronavirus.
It is the dominant issue of this campaign, especially with seven days left before Election Day. And I have been to a number of these events. I will be going to one tomorrow. Wolf, they're not social distancing at these events. Supporters are not wearing masks.
And when I asked the president about whether or not he blew it on the coronavirus earlier today and whether voters should judge him on his record on the pandemic, he said, well, the voters are judging us on a lot of different things.
They're judging the president, first and foremost, when it comes to this coronavirus pandemic.
And I will tell you, Wolf, I am starting to hear from Trump campaign advisers, even officials inside the White House who are starting to doubt whether or not the president will win a second term. There is a feeling, there is a sense sinking in at the White House, inside the Trump campaign, inside Trump world that the president is not going to pull this out.
And the huge reason, the huge, glaring reason why is his response to the coronavirus pandemic. People at home do not want to see the president holding these potential super-spreader events, and yet he's continuing to do it, despite the concerns being raised by his own advisers, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, the Biden campaign is doing these drive-ins, where people show up in cars, spaced out, completely wearing masks. And the Trump campaign does something very, very different.
Arlette, what's the biggest concern, though, right now that you're hearing from Biden campaign officials as we head into this final week?
SAENZ: Well, the Biden campaign is just basically trying to lay it out all on the line.
You have Biden coming to a state like Georgia, you have him going to Iowa pretty soon.
And then, on the same day he's in Iowa, he is in Texas -- or Kamala Harris is in Texas. All of those states are typically reliably red states, but they also want to make sure that they are making an imprint and visiting those key Midwest -- or, I should say, those key three industrial states, that blue wall that Joe Biden is talking about, trying to reestablish that as part of their path to the nomination.
And you're going to see him in Wisconsin and Michigan trying to make his final push there in the coming days. But what they want to do right now is keep all of their paths to 270 open. And, essentially, right now, Biden has more paths to that 270 number than President Trump.
So they are just trying to play in all areas as this election nears.
BLITZER: Derrick Johnson, you're the head of the NAACP.
What are you looking for in these final seven days as far as potential trouble spots are concerned?
JOHNSON: Well, we are concerned about militia groups in certain parts of the country.
But I want to continue to push a hope message. We can do this. Turn out to vote. Let's vote like we have never voted before. In March, when I stood on Edmund Pettus Bridge with Congressman John Lewis, he said, we have to do this, and we can do this.
Wolf, as much as possible, let's tell the voters that this is possible. We must save this democracy. And the only way we can do it leveraging our collective vote to ensure civility is reestablished.
BLITZER: And if you look on the right part of the screen over there, you can see more than 67 million Americans have already voted early, and that is so, so impressive, still seven more days to go.
Derrick Johnson, Jim Acosta, Arlette Saenz, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead: More hospitals are in desperate straits right now across the country, as they get more COVID-19 patients, a lot more than they could handle.
And we're tracking the race to 270 day by day, minute by minute. We will have the very latest on the states that could decide the presidential election.
BLITZER: Tonight, the rapid acceleration of the coronavirus we have been warned about appears to be taking hold.
The daily average of new cases here in the United States hitting another high, as the total number of cases and deaths keeps climbing and climbing.
CNN's Nick Watt is joining us right now.
Nick, what's the latest?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the latest is that, right now, President Trump is speaking at a MAGA rally in West Salem, Wisconsin, a potential super-spreader event.
And, today, officials in Wisconsin said that they are very close to a severe staff shortage in their hospitals. And the governor of Wisconsin said that that is an imminent risk to you and your family.
WATT (voice-over): North Dakota leads the nation, with an alarming rate of new infections. Why?
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is the least use of masks that we have seen in retail establishments of any place we have been.
WATT: In South Dakota, a stunning 40 percent of tests now coming back positive. Anything over 5 percent is a worry.
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are in the middle of a major COVID storm. Every indicator, every metric that we have is trending in the wrong direction. But we're not seeing behaviors change.
WATT: This country is now averaging nearly 70,000 new infections every day, highest ever nine months in, but the president and some Americans appear to be giving up.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: If we took some aggressive, targeted steps right now, we could potentially forestall the worst of it. But we're not going to do that. And I think we're right now at the cusp of what's going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.
WATT: And this is a potential issue. One type of antibody immunity after infection appears to wane fast, according to a new study, down, on average, 26 percent in three months, dropping fastest in the asymptomatic and over 75s.
Eleven states already reporting record numbers in the hospital, desperate measures in El Paso, Texas.
DEE MARGO (R), MAYOR OF EL PASO, TEXAS: We have just got a surge that I'm not sure exactly where it's coming from. But we have got four tents, pressurized tents, set up at hospitals for overflow.
WATT: Thirty-seven states in all seeing average case counts rise right now.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Our knowledge of what works in the battle against this virus has grown significantly since the spring. But the virus isn't going away. And it's constantly looking for new hosts.
WATT: The president loves to push this fallacy:
TRUMP: Do you know why we have cases so much? Because that's all we do is test.
WATT: A myth just busted by his own testing czar.
ADM. BRETT GIROIR, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Testing maybe identifying some more cases. I think that's clearly true. But what we're seeing is a real increase in the numbers.
WATT: And it's not just here in the U.S., Europe also seeing a surge right now. And the world set a new record this week, according to the WHO, the most new cases, 2.8 million new cases in a week, and, Wolf, 40,000 dead.
BLITZER: So sad.
All right, Nick Watt reporting for us from L.A.
Nick, thank you very much.
Joining us now Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Frieden, thank you so much for joining us.
And, as you know, it in just the last seven days, the U.S. has reported nearly half-a-million new confirmed coronavirus cases.
How dire is the situation in the U.S., Dr. Frieden, right now?
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Well, we're failing.
COVID has the upper hand. Cases are increasing in most of the country, though, there are parts of it, including much of the Northeast, where the numbers are much lower.
But we're seeing an increase in hospitalizations. They increased from 30,000 people admitted to almost 45,000. That's a 50 percent increase. We're beginning to see an increase in deaths.
It is inevitable that, if you let the virus spread, it will spread among states, it will spread among communities, it will spread to seniors. And following the case increase are hospitalization increases, and then, tragically, increases, further increases in the number of deaths.
BLITZER: There's growing evidence, Dr. Frieden, that hospitals, as you pointed out, in so many hot spots are simply overwhelmed with patients right now.
How much of an impact does that have on the level of care that doctors and nurses are able to offer, not just those who have COVID, but who come into the hospital with other ailments?
FRIEDEN: We see a lot of problems when hospitals begin to get overwhelmed.
First off, the survival rates for COVID appear to come down, because people can't get the intensive support they need. Second, health care workers may get more likely to get infected, so you can get outbreaks in the hospital, doctors and nurses getting sick, and, tragically, many of them dying.
And, third, because people are either scared to go to health care facilities, which are now potentially unsafe, or because there just isn't the capacity, people may stay home when they have life- threatening conditions, such as a heart attack or another thing that needs urgent care.
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on this new study that just came out of England that found that antibodies to the virus decline substantially in the three months following an infection, especially in people over the age of 75 and in people who didn't report any symptoms.
So what does that mean for immunity to the virus? And should that change the way we are thinking about fighting it?
FRIEDEN: Well, I think the jury's still out on this. This is a laboratory test. We don't really know what the antibody correlates with.
But what it does tell us is, it would be foolish to assume that, if you have been infected, you're safe for any period of time, because you may not be. There are reinfections.
That's why this concept that we should let young people get infected, so that they will be somehow a wall to protect the rest of us, is so deeply misguided. They may not be protected. They may get severely ill. They may spread it to others. They will spread it to others.
And the vulnerable are all among us. After all, Wolf, about half of all adults in America fall into one of the high-risk categories for COVID.
This is a colossal federal failure. And what we're seeing is that playing out in communities and states all over the country. But there are some interesting bright spots, Wolf.
Today, data came out from the Centers for Disease Control that shows that the proportion of people who report they're wearing masks went up from 78 percent to 89 percent. People are getting it. Only about one out of 10 people are not wearing masks. It's a small and misguided minority.
But, really, most people get it. What we lack is a coordinated federal response, a one-two punch to drive cases down with the three W's, wearing a mask, washing your hands, watching your distance, closing risky indoor spaces, and then testing strategically, isolating, contact tracing, and quarantining, to keep that -- those cases low, because, in the Northeast, case rates are one-tenth or one-twentieth what they are in hot spots elsewhere in the country.
COVID can be controlled.
BLITZER: It can be controlled. And we have seen that in other countries. They have controlled it in South Korea, for example, which got the first confirmed cases as the U.S. back at the end of January, early February, the first death.
We have had, what, 226,000 deaths since then. South Korea, a country of only -- a country of 55 million people -- I just checked today -- they have had -- get this -- 460 deaths over all of these months, 460 deaths in South Korea, 226 (sic) deaths here in the United States.
They successfully have controlled the virus. We have failed to control the virus.
Dr. Frieden, thank you so much for joining us.
FRIEDEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead: With one week until the election, is Joe Biden's advantage holding in the race to 270 electoral votes? We're breaking it all down for you.
And, as the president is in Wisconsin tonight, how tough will it be for him to hold on to that state he actually won four years ago?
BLITZER: We're tracking both presidential candidates on the campaign trail tonight just one week before the election. The states they are targeting tell us a lot about where the race for 270 electoral votes stands right now.
CNN's Political Director, David Chalian is over at the magic wall. So, David, what's the current state of the race and the path to 270?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the current state of the race, Wolf, is that Donald Trump is behind and trying to recreate his 2016 map. Look at his travel schedule yesterday, today and tomorrow and you'll see why.
Right now, we have some of these critical states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin leaning towards Joe Biden. Donald Trump was in Pennsylvania yesterday. What would happen if we gave him that state, if that was a successful effort to win back.
And then in Michigan, where he was earlier today, if he was able to win that back, and Wisconsin, where he is this evening, he's trying to win that back.
Tomorrow, he's going to be in Arizona. Well, those four states, if he were able to win them back, now he starts coming up in the Electoral College count, he's at 220. He still would have to find 50 more electoral votes. He could bring back Iowa, Ohio and Florida, and that would get him there.
Now, that's a tall order of where the polls are standing right now. But take a look at Donald Trump's advertising spending and the changes the Trump campaign and Republicans are making. We just took a look for the final week, these reservations have been changed in the final week.
And look here. In Florida, he's taken money down. They're going to be $2 million less than planned on the air in Florida and New Hampshire, taken money down. This is where he's hedging his bets, Wolf. Where is Donald Trump and the Republicans increasing their buy? You got it, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin. It mirrors right up with his travel schedule and the states that he's definitely trying to bring back into his column where they were in 2016, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting. As you know, with the president today repeated his prediction, he's been saying it now for a few days, that Republicans will actually take back the majority in the House of Representatives. How realistic is that at all?
CHALIAN: It's a tall order for Republicans right now. This is the current state of play. Democrats hold 232 seats, Republicans hold 197. And there are some vacancies in some Republican-friendly terrain. The Democrats at 232 means that the magic number for Republicans, they need a net gain of 17 seats, but the trend we saw in 2018 when Democrats kept the majority in the suburbs, that trend seems to still be growing.
So, Republicans are hunting for where they're going to find those 17 net gain seats to win back the majority. It looks like a tough map for the Republicans to do that, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly does. All right, David Chalian reporting for us, thank you very much. Just ahead, we'll get reports from some of the key states that will decide the election, including Wisconsin, after a significant Supreme Court ruling.
Plus, today is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot in the all- important state of Pennsylvania where over 3 million voters have already done so. We'll be right back.
[18:40:00] BLITZER: With just one week until Election Day here in the United States, we're going to take a closer look at what's happening in some of the key battleground states. Let's start in Wisconsin where a new Supreme Court ruling is having a big impact.
CNN's Bill Weir is in Madison, Wisconsin, for us. Bill, tell us more.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in Wisconsin, both parties are scrambling with last night's Supreme Court ruling that all absentee ballots must be received by Election Day. Not postmarked but received, which means that the some 320,000 outstanding ballots will have to be mailed by today to safely be counted.
The way this campaign is being run for both parties also emblematic of the attitudes towards COVID-19. A lot of Democrats doing everything virtually, phone and text, while Republicans are still knocking on doors and trying to canvas. And after a disastrous judicial election back in April, where there are only a few polling places, we've got thousands of volunteers around the state meeting voters at their cars to help them avoid risk of COVID-19. Wolf?
BLITZER: Various risk. Bill Weir in Madison, Wisconsin.
The first lady, Melania Trump, made her first solo campaign appearance today in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania just ahead of an important deadline there.
CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is joining us now. Sara, what's the latest?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm Sara Murray here in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, it is the last day where you can apply to get a mail-in ballot. It is the first time that Pennsylvania has allowed anyone in the state to vote by mail for any reason whatsoever. So far, more than 3 million voters have already requested mail-in ballots. And officials here are encouraging voters to return those ballots as quickly as possible, not to wait until Election Day.
As for Election Day and election night, it could be a long one. Officials say it could take a couple of days to tally up all of these ballots.
In the meantime, though, Pennsylvania a big battleground state, we've seen Joe Biden here, we've seen President Trump here, and today Melania Trump is hitting the campaign trail in Chester County. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thank you. Early voting is proving very popular in the critical battleground state of Florida.
CNN's Drew Griffin is there. Drew?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the secretary of state here in Florida is urging Floridians who still have those mail-in ballots at home to send them in today. She wants them in and processed before the close of business on Tuesday's Election Day so they can be counted quickly.
The big news here in Florida seems to be just how popular early voting is with nearly half registered voters already casting their ballots in Florida as of this morning, and we're still a week away. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Drew, thanks very much, Drew Griffin reporting.
Just ahead, we're going to get the latest on the protests and the investigation in Philadelphia that's under way right now after another deadly police shooting of a black man.
BLITZER: Philadelphia police are bracing for another night of protests after officers fatally shot a black man brandishing a knife. Cell phone video captured the confrontation. A warning to our viewers, the video is disturbing.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BLITZER: Police say the incident started yesterday with a call about a man with a knife, which responding officers saw being waved erratically. In the unrest following the shooting, 30 police officers were injured, dozens were arrested.
In a statement given to CNN affiliate KYW, the police union is asking the public to, quote, wait for the investigation to complete and not to vilify the police department.
Let's discuss with CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He's a former Philadelphia police commissioner, also the police chief here in Washington, D.C.
So, Chief Ramsey, what do you think? The Philadelphia district attorney called what he saw in the video concerning. What do you think about what happened after watching the video?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, every shooting is concerning, and a tragedy in its own -- in its own right. We have to take a careful look at this, and in will be a thorough investigation to find out whether or not the use of deadly force was justified.
This was a call for a man with a knife. The officers were seen backing up, the individual was coming toward them with a knife. Neither of these officers were armed with Tasers, which would be a less lethal weapon.
I know that Philly is in the process of trying to get Tasers for all of their patrol officers. That's 4,500. Right now, they've got slightly more than 2,300 that have been deployed, but those two officers did not have a Taser at the time. BLITZER: The victim, Walter Wallace, had a knife, as you saw. One
witness said, though, he had mental health issues. The district attorney said a report was a medical call was consistent with what they know so far.
So could these officers have escalated the situation if they obviously could have used Tasers if they had them, but they didn't have Tasers. But why shoot to kill opposed to shoot to injure and just prevent anything from going further?
RAMSEY: Well, officers are trained to shoot at what we call center mass. Despite what you may see on TV, it's not easy to hit extremities and so forth (ph), especially under stress. So officers are trained to shoot center mass, not shoot to kill. But, unfortunately, that does happen.
The officers I'm told took him to the hospital right afterwards to try to get some assistance for him. Unfortunately, he died.
It's always a tragedy when anyone loses their life. You know, now we have information that the officers may not have had when they responded.
Again, did he have mental health problems? After the fact, people start learning a lot more about it. But when you're at the scene and you have an individual armed with a knife coming toward you, it's a whole different type of situation, and the officers have to make very quick judgments.
But there will be a thorough investigation. I was impressed to see the police commissioner and her staff actually come to the scene and engage the public that were gathered there to talk about this, and that's something that I think is very important that there be dialogue.
The looting that you saw later, there's no excuse for that, absolutely none. That is stealing that has nothing to do with the tragedy that we're talking about now. And, unfortunately, this is the same area that got hit hard back in May. Those businesses just rebuilt and reopened and now right back again where they were before.
BLITZER: Yeah, that's so terrible. You see that looting that's going on. These are, you know, businesses that potentially could be in deep, deep trouble as a result of this.
BLITZER: You know, Chief Ramsey, we're all smarter with hindsight. What should have happened based on your experience?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, you know, you can always second guess this, but you would hope there would be enough time for de-escalation. Sometimes that doesn't work. Sometimes there isn't enough time.
I know there are some people who say people should not respond, mental health workers should respond. I mean, I understand that, but do you honestly think a mental health person would be by themselves with a person armed with a knife or a gun? They'd be calling 911 to try to get the police.
This is complicated. It's very complicated. My understanding is, and I haven't verified it, that there have been multiple calls to this location in the past. This may not be the first time the individual has, you know, been in a mental health crisis. If that's the case, where were the services earlier before it even got to a 911 call for police?
These are all questions that need to be answered.
BLITZER: We certainly need answers. And hopefully, there won't be a repeat tonight of what happened last night. We're watching closely together with you.
RAMSEY: Yeah, I hope not.
BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, thanks so much for joining us.
RAMSEY: Okay, thank you.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to have more news just ahead.
BLITZER: Finally, our nightly tribute to Americans who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Beverly Hallums Heath of Michigan was 65 years old. Her sister, Audrey, says she always had a smile on her face and was eager to help anyone she could. She leaves behind one son and two bonus sons as she called her stepsons, as well as her husband of 21 years.
Suzanne Koransky of New Jersey was 62. She was a longtime nurse who supervised health services for a school district. A wife, mother of two and new grandmother, her daughter, Sarah, says she was caring and loving and made chocolate covered Oreos for every occasion.
May they rest in peace, and may their memories be a blessing.
Thanks very much for watching. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.