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The Situation Room

Democrats Disappointment, GOP Wins in Virginia, New Jersey Race Too Close to Call; Biden Sidesteps Blame After Democrats Disappointing Election Night; Kids Ages 5 to 11 Receiving First Doses of Pfizer Vaccine; Biden Sidesteps Blame After Dems' Disappointing Election Night; Trump Attorneys Fighting House Committee's Effort to Gain Access to Documents Related to January 6. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 03, 2021 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Also this hour, young children are finally getting COVID-19 vaccines after the CDC gave the final green light. What will it mean for the pandemic now that nearly 95 percent of all Americans are actually eligible to get a shot?

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with President Biden speaking out as election night results are giving Democrats nightmares about the future and triggering finger-pointing within the party.

Let's go to our Chief National Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, we heard from the president just a little while ago and he was asked if he took responsibility for his party's loss in Virginia.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Biden stopped short of claiming any personal responsibility, but he did bluntly say he knows the American people want Washington to get things done. But he did also say that the big defeat in Virginia, that big defeat of Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor there, was caused necessarily by that gridlock in Washington. But he did again call on Congress to act.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think we should have -- it should have passed before Election Day, but I'm not sure that I would be able to have changed the number of very conservative folks who turned out in the red districts who are Trump voters, but maybe, maybe.


ZELENY: But, of course, there were so many more voters than just those conservative voters in red districts. Of course, there were a lot of those independent suburban voters that helped launch Joe Biden right here to the White House. But the president also gave voice to the frustrations being felt by Americans. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: There's a whole lot of confusion. Everything from, are you ever going to get COVID under control, to are my kids going to in school, are they going to be able to stay in school, to whether or not I'm going to get a tax break that allows me to be able to pay for the needs of my kids and my family.


ZELENY: So, the president certainly explaining how voters are feeling, but yet did not say what would change in the coming days to get his agenda through Congress. He did say he still is hopeful that the House and Senate will work out their differences, which, of course, remain large. He said simply, Wolf, get it to my desk.

BLITZER: Jeff, I want you to stay with us because I'm going to bring you back into our analysis. But I want to get some more first on the election results, the political impact and the New Jersey race that's still too close to call.

Our White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz is putting it all together for us. Arlette, both parties are looking what happened last night with next year's midterm elections in mind.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, Wolf. And Republicans delivered a major blow to Democrats in the first major election since President Biden took office. That GOP upset in Virginia as well as that closer than expected governor's race in New Jersey is revealing telling signs about the mood of the country and the issues that are animating voters as both parties are looking for lessons heading into next year's midterms.


SAENZ (voice over): Republicans riding high after election night.

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R) VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: All right, Virginia, we won this thing.

SAENZ: With Virginia electing GOP Businessman Glen Youngkin as Governor just one year after the commonwealth helped send Joe Biden to the White House with a ten-point win.

YOUNGKIN: So on day one, we're going to work.

SAENZ: Democrats Terry McAuliffe, who once successfully made Donald Trump his main campaign target, conceding this morning, saying, while last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in. Some Democrats chocking up the loss to inaction on the president's agenda.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Failure to deliver. SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Our inability to come together and get a result hurt him.

SAENZ: Voters also putting Democrats on notice in New Jersey, where Biden won by 16 points but now featuring a governor's race that's too close to call.

PHIL MURPHY (D) GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: We're all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration we wanted it to be.

SAENZ: The Republican drumbeat sounding new alarms for President Biden who returned from a trip abroad overnight to a new political landscape. In Virginia, the majority voters disapproved of the president's performance. The independent and suburban voters who fueled Biden's 2020 win swung back to the GOP, which also expanded support in rural areas won by Trump.


YOUNGKIN: Friends, this is where our government will go. We will go to the people, for the people, it will be of the people.

SAENZ: The economy was at the top of Virginians' mind followed by education with Republicans tapping into parents frustrations over schooling, from masks to what their children are taught.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): He touched a nerve. And I think those also on the Democratic side need to sit back and think and think about we address that.

SAENZ: Throughout the race, Youngkin kept Trump at arm's length, focusing instead on local issues, offering an early blueprint for Republicans heading into 2022.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It could be one of the biggest election losses for Democrats.

SAENZ: In other parts of the country, centrist Democrats showing signs of strength with Eric Adams elected mayor of New York City, in Minneapolis, rejecting a ballot measure to replace the police department with the department of public safety.

And history also made with women of color elected for the first time as Virginia's lieutenant governor and Boston's next mayor.


SAENZ (on camera): After last night's results, Republicans are expanding their Democratic targets from 57 to 70 House districts heading into next year's midterm elections, hoping to flip those from blue to red, including three districts in the state of Virginia.

Meanwhile Democrats are trying to absorb the lessons learned from last night's election as they are facing an uphill climb in defending their majorities next year. Wolf? BLITZER: Yes. Exactly one year of the midterm elections in the House and the Senate and a whole bunch of governor's races one year from now. Arlette, thank you very, very much, Arlette Saenz reporting.

Jeff Zeleny is still with us. I also want to bring in our Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN Political Commentator Michael Smerconish.

So, Michael, this is a huge win for the GOP in Virginia, Democrats were clearly caught by surprise by how close the race is in New Jersey right now. We have not been able to project the winner, at least not yet. What message are voters sending to Democrats?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Many messages, and I watched the first hour of the program, Wolf, and I think there's been a lot of excellent analysis that I buy into. But let me give you something new. Republicans have better issues. And when I say better, I'm not speaking about the merit of them. Better defined as issues that drive people to the polls, issues that engender passion, think inflation, think parenting, meaning the education issue in Virginia, think border control.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are talking about worthy things, like the size of the societal safety net or climate change, but they are not the type of issues that fire people up in a midterm election to go to the polls.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a really, really important point you make, Michael. Nia, the president says his legislative agenda should have passed before Election Day, but he's not sure it would have really made a difference. While Democrats were fighting over his spending plan, did they lose sight of some of the basic problems people are facing, as Michael points out, the rising prices, the never-ending COVID restrictions, all sort of issues like that?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think a lot of the anxiety, the stress, the pressure of living with high prices in this sort of COVID economy and a COVID reality that, remember, Biden got elected to solve the COVID problem and certainly made strides with vaccines. But people are still sick of some of the things that are going on in their houses and workplaces and daycares and schools in terms of a COVID in any number of other issues. You see those wrong track numbers, right? 70 percent of Americans are that the country is on the wrong track.

And, listen, if you're a Republican or if you're a Democrat, you might disagree on why you think it is going in the wrong direction of, but there still is that sentiment and Democrats have lost sight of that, getting bogged down in the sausage-making of these big bills, right, the two infrastructure bill.

And I think one of the things that also might be important to note is it isn't even clear that once they get those passed, it looks like they'll get some version of them passed. Will that even be enough going into 2022 when voters go to the polls in 2022 if the economy is still where it is right now, if gas prices are still so high, if inflation is still a problem and if there's this anti-incumbent move, right? That is one of the big things we saw yesterday.

As well as this perennial problem that Democrats have, and that is they don't often turn out African-American voters and young voters at the same rate in these off-year elections, midterm elections, as they do in presidential years. That's a problem that Democrats have faced for decades and it showed up in a big way last night.


BLITZER: Yes, very interesting. You know, Jeff, you've been reporting from on the ground in Virginia. How badly did Democrats actually miscalculate on the issues that Youngkin seized on to motivate voters, especially education?

ZELENY: Certainly, education emerged at nearly end of the campaign as one of the top issues into a sort of a catch-all for so many things. It was also about the role of government in your lives and simply voters were rejecting really what has just been an extraordinary year- and-a-half, almost two years in the wave of the pandemic. So many schools were closed during that period, the mandates, et cetera.

So, parents and voters were definitely responding to that. And Democrats simply were not talking about the same issues but, more interestingly, Terry McAuliffe, of course, has been around for a very long time, a former governor of the commonwealth of Virginia. Many Democrats I talked to today believe that he simply underestimated this newcomer. Most people have never heard of businessman Glenn Youngkin before. They do know him now, obviously, and he caught on in a last couple of months, and simply underestimated the strength of his message and the appeal of an outsider.

But what happened, of course, this pendulum of American politics swung back again. History will show that only once in the last four decades has the Virginia, the governor winner been in the same party of the president here at the White House. Usually, it is the opposite. So, it's a referendum on the president's party.

What this can be is a wake-up call for Democrats to pass an agenda and explain their message more to the American people. But it's also a big warning call for what history also shows is often a very bruising midterm election for the president's party in power.

BLITZER: Yes, after the first two years of a new administration.

You know, Michael, do you think other Republicans can actually repeat that very impressive Youngkin playbook that we all saw? Do you think others can successfully walk this fine line with the former president, Donald Trump?

SMERCONISH: Well, it's a two-way street. I mean, it requires a candidate who wants to keep the former president at arm's length and also -- and, to me, this is one of the biggest surprises of the Virginia race. It also requires Donald Trump to be okay with that. I thought that he -- I was surprised by his level of restraint, Wolf, especially when in the final 48 hours it seemed like the big mo, as Bush 41 would have said, the momentum was really at the back of Youngkin.

I'm sure Trump wanted to go to Alexandria, as he said in a tweet that he was contemplating doing. So will the former president continue to have a sufficient level of restraint with Republican candidates? Will he allow them to stay at arm's length? That remains to be seen.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. You know, Nia, you would think what happened would be a wakeup call for Democrat, but today, they're right back to squabbling amongst themselves about what's in, what's out of the president's economic plan, they still don't seem to have a specific strategy, at least not yet. Do they?

HENDERSON: No, they don't. You've seen a move on the House side to put the paid family leave back in. It doesn't look like that would actually pass the Senate. There is a broad ideological and racial and socioeconomic diversity in the Democratic Party and sometimes that is a strength and sometimes it is a hindrance.

And I think we see that now with all of these negotiations trying to knit together something that Joe Manchin likes, that Bernie Sanders likes, as well as sort of the AOC progressive wing of the party. And you see how that has hindered them so far and really delayed this and perhaps hampered some of the chances of some of these Democrats that we saw lose last night.

I think another issue they have to figure out is this culture war issue. We talked a bit about it, some of the things that they weren't able to address particularly in this Virginia race, with critical race theory and sort of the bogeyman of people reading a Beloved in high schools, and that was a sort of a passionate issue for some of the Republican who came to the polls and Democrats sort of just ignored it, never had a real answer for it. That's something they're going to have to figure out to, how did they prevent themselves from being sort of a losing end of these culture wars, which Republicans have been expert at playing in many cycles, as we've seen over these last years.

BLITZER: Yes. And Terry McAuliffe should have never said that parents shouldn't have a role in their children's education. That's very, very -- I'm paraphrasing, but that was very, very damaging to his campaign. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, the election's impact up on Capitol Hill, will Democrats start to, in President Biden's words, get things done.


I'll ask a key Democratic senator who is standing by live.


BLITZER: The election results especially the strong Republicans showing in capturing the Virginia governor's office has some Democrats in Washington questioning their party's agenda and tactics. Late this afternoon over at the White House, President Biden sidestepped taking any blame and told reporters the Democrats' best hope is to, quote, get things done. Let's get reaction right now from Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

As you heard the president says he recognizes that people want their government to get things done, is the fact that Democrats have struggled to deliver results responsible at least in part for last night's devastating blow to the party?


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I don't think it was helpful that during the closing weeks of the governor's races, there was focus on the sausage-making factory of Washington rather than the results that we can deliver to people, but I also understand all these races are different. I think there are a lot of local factors on the ground in New Jersey and Virginia that have something to do with those results as well.

There are other places around the country where Democrats did okay. In Connecticut, we picked up a handful of mayors' seats. I was just talking to the New Hampshire senators and the Democrats netted gains in the Granite State. So, I ultimately think this is about a complex array of factors on a state-by-state basis.

But, you know, we're got to get this done so that we can start talking to people about how it's going to change their lives. We're going to bring down costs. We're going to ask billionaires and corporations to pay for it. That's going to be really popular. And it's time that we wrap things up so that we can start delivering real results and cost reductions to Americans.

BLITZER: Senator, I want you to listen to your colleague, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Listen to how he put it.


WARNER: Only in Washington could people think that it is a smart strategy to take a once-in-a-generation investment infrastructure and prevent your president from signing that bill into law.


BLITZER: Because that bill passed the Senate 69 votes. 19 Republicans voted for it back in August. It then went to the House and it's been delayed, it's been delayed and delayed. Do you agree with your fellow Democratic senator that that should have been passed right away in the House and let the president sign it into law and deal with the reconciliation package separately?

MURPHY: You know, listen, I don't give my House colleagues advice on how to structure their business. I think many of them wanted to pass these two piece of legislation together because they thought that was a way to make sure in the end we get the biggest cost savings for our constituents. The idea was that by putting them together, we might be able to get more help for people to afford child care, for instance. We might be able to get a bigger commitment to expand Medicare. So, again, I don't want to read too much into the impact that our debate in Washington has on the state races. I'm sure it wasn't helpful for us to have not passed both of those pieces of legislation but I imagine there're a lot of local factors that are much more important.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, both of the Democratic senators from Virginia think at least the infrastructure, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, the first time in 30 years, a huge infrastructure package like that was going to be going forward, at least that should have passed and they think it would have made a difference in the race for governor, but we shall see.

As you know, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, now says she's putting paid family leave back into the bigger $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill, but Senator Joe Manchin, your Democratic colleague, still says he's against it. So how and when does the infighting stop?

MURPHY: Well, ultimately, this bill has to pass both chambers and that's difficult in both places because we're operating with razor- thin majorities. If Speaker Pelosi can pass paid leave in the House, I'm glad because I support getting paid leave to parents. We're the only country in the high-income world that doesn't provide some ability to get paid when you're home with a new child or you're taking care of a sick relative. but I don't know whether that can get 50 votes in the United States Senate. Maybe by passing the House by rallying the American public around this very popular proposal, it could change people's minds in the Senate, but ultimately, I think it's time to get something done.

And, frankly, what we have in the framework already reducing people's child care costs by $10,000, putting tax cuts into the hands of 90 percent of families with kids. That's going to make a big, big difference. I want to add to it, I want to make it better but I also want to make sure that we get something done.

BLITZER: Yes. We've got to get something done, clearly. Senator Murphy, thank you so much for joining us.

MURPHY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, a closer look at the political novice who took on the Democratic Party legend and now will be the next governor of Virginia.



BLITZER: Tonight, as Democrats reel from a painful loss in the Virginia governor's race, President Biden is declining to take the blame for what went wrong. Republicans are, in turn, celebrating the victory and studying Glenn Youngkin's successful playbook.

Our Brian Todd has more on the governor-elect. Brian, Youngkin is a new comer to politics but he clearly got the job done. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did, Wolf. You know a key question tonight is how is Glen Youngkin going to actually govern? Will he veer toward Trump-style conservatism or be more moderate? It remains a question, because even now, so little is known about the former financier.


YOUNGKIN: A campaign that came from nowhere --

TODD (voice over): A political novice who displayed extraordinary political savvy on the campaign trail takes the reins in Virginia and is already considered a supernova on the national stage.

PROF. KAREN HULT, CENTER FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION & POLICY, VIRGINIA TECH: He is a rising star in Virginia Republican politics and given the national exposure he's gotten over the last several weeks, he presumably will be that, as well.

TODD: 54-year-old Glen Youngkin spent 25 years as a private equity executive at the Carlyle Group amassing a sizeable personal fortune.


YOUNGKIN: This is my wife.

TODD: Youngkin said, one Friday afternoon, he asked his wife, Susan, to go for a walk with him. By Youngkin's account, she bristled, saying, Glenn, you don't go for walks, then he sprang it on her.

YOUNGKIN: I told her that I was going to quit my job the next day and I was going to run for governor. And she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, are you having a mid life crisis. And I told her, no, I'm having a Virginia crisis.

TODD: The 6'5", former bench warmer on the Rice University basketball team grew up near Richmond in Virginia Beach and after college went to Harvard Business School.

YOUNGKIN: How are you?

TODD: Known for being folksy, humble and religious, reported by The Washington Post to have had a cuss jar in his campaign headquarters that foul-mouthed staffers had to put money into. The father of four is also said to be an intense competitor. Youngkin found the edge to win in Virginia by placing some distance between himself and Donald Trump while still accepting Trump's endorsement and appealing to Trump's base supporters in Virginia.

HULT: He listened to them carefully, he told them that on many issues he supported what Trump stood for, but he never appeared at the same time physically with Mr. Trump.

TODD: How will Glen Youngkin govern?

PROF. LARRY SABATO, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: On social issues, he is very conservative, and I don't think Virginians fully know that.

TODD: Analysts say Youngkin wants to curtail abortion rights, he's against gay marriage, he's against defunding police and regarding a controversial issue in schools.

YOUNGKIN: I will ban critical race theory.

TODD: That's the idea that racism is not just the product of individual prejudice but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

While Youngkin says he'll ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools, it's already not officially in the curriculum in Virginia.

Analysts say Youngkin's principal weakness is that he's never held public office before. Still, after his stunning win in Virginia, higher office could be in his future.

SABATO: Look at the guy, projects a great image, looks like a suburban dad, has great khakis and is worth $400 million. And now he's going to be governor of one of the key swing states.


TODD (on camera): But Professor Larry Sabato says the specter of Donald Trump will continue to hang over Glen Youngkin. He says, if Trump runs for president again, it's going to put Youngkin in a difficult position because Youngkin pledge to support Trump if Trump gets the presidential nomination, the Republican nomination 2024, so Youngkin could have to campaign for Trump in a state where Trump lost twice before. Wolf?

BLITZER: And his career at the Carlyle Group in Washington was very, very successful. Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you very much.

Let's bring in the former Republican governor of Ohio, CNN Senior Commentator John Kasich. Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

Glenn Youngkin will lead to navigate this uncertain relationship with Donald Trump in the years to come. From a former governor to a future governor, what's your advice to him?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Just do your job. You know, it will be sitting around worried about whether Donald Trump likes you or not. You have got issues you have in Virginia. Put the politics aside. You can't calculate what you want to be or where you want to go. Just do your job. And if you do your job, and if it works out, then, you know, the next job will come along.

And, by the way, Wolf, I do want to welcome you back to the United States and I guarantee you the pope wanted to see you more than he even wanted to see Biden because the Pope knows who you are.

BLITZER: Not so sure about that.

KASICH: It's true. BLITZER: Was Youngkin's success, Governor, specific to this particular race in Virginia or do you think it could be replicated by other Republican candidates across the country.

KASICH: You know, Wolf, I think we all know what happened. The Republicans were fired up. And, ironically, part of the reason why they were fired up is because Terry McAuliffe, his opponent, tried to make Trump the issue. So, it got Republicans riled up to some degree in that Trump base.

Secondly, if you took a look at the people that showed up for the rallies, the Republican had tremendous rallies. They were strong, enthusiastic. There was no energy on the Democratic side. And so the intensity was always Republican. Some of that is natural because it's a reaction to the party in power, but what's interesting about it is that a lot of those Republicans who voted for Biden have come back to the party.

And I think Democrats have confused themselves thinking that they were all voting for Biden. No, they weren't voting for Biden. A lot of these suburban folks were voting against Donald Trump. They couldn't stand the way he was. But remember another thing, Wolf. As much as Virginia has become blue, there is a sort of fundamental conservatism embedded in Virginia.

So, all of those things work together and Terry McAuliffe is a good man. I don't know if he made the case as to how he was in his first term and he spent too much time talking about Donald Trump.


BLITZER: John Kasich, as usual, thanks very much.

KASICH: Okay, Wolf. Thanks very much.

BLITZER: Thank you. Just ahead, what parents need to know right now about the new eligibility of children age 5 to 11 for Pfizer's COVID vaccine and why health experts are urging them to get their young kids vaccinated.


BLITZER: As of tonight, 28 million more Americans are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine following CDC approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children age 5 to 11.

Let's get some more on all of this. Andy Slavitt is joining us, the former senior adviser to the Biden White House COVID Response Team. He's also the author of the new book entitled, Preventable, The Inside Story of how Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doom the U.S. Coronavirus Response. Andy, thanks very much for joining us.

Now that the CDC has authorized COVID vaccines for kids five and older, nearly 95 percent of all Americans are eligible to get a shot.

[18:40:04] How significant is this moment in this fight against COVID?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE TEAM: Well, look, I think it means a lot to families. It means a lot to schools. It means a lot to kids. And I know there's going to be a lot of people out there racing to get vaccinated. The big difference between the way this is coming at us and the way vaccines for adults came at us is there's going to be 20,000 or so pediatricians that are going to be able to vaccinate kids.

And for parents, many of them who know they want to vaccinate their kids, that's great, but also for parents who want to have a conversation before they make a decision, they actually get to go do that with their pediatrician, which I think is just wonderful news.

BLITZER: Yes, which is so, so important. Polls though show, get this, Andy, that only 27 percent of parents want to get their children vaccinated immediately, about a third say they want to wait and see. What tools should the White House be using right now to try to persuade parents who might still be on the fence?

SLAVITT: Well, first of all, that's not surprising. You know, if you look at vaccinations by age it starts with people in their 80s that are 90 percent less vaccinated, it goes down to people in their teens that are 50, 60 percent vaccinated. And so I wouldn't be at all surprise. I don't think our expectation should be that we have more than that level of vaccinations.

I think the number one thing that should be deployed is, just very simply, parents who have questions just go talk to their pediatricians. Pediatricians are used to talking to parents about vaccines. They're better at it than any other medical profession. These vaccines have been in seven billions arms, seven billion times they have been in people's arms, so they're very, very safe. This is a very small dose. And I think most parents, if they do have questions that are in that 30 percent, they'll talk to the pediatrician and I do think most of them will decide that it makes sense to vaccinate their kids.

BLITZER: Yes. The Pfizer vaccine for kids 5 to 11 is much smaller, that dose, than the dose for adults.

Dr. Anthony Fauci now says it is unlikely the U.S. will ever be able to eliminate completely COVID but says we should focus on moving from a pandemic phase to what he calls a control phase. What exactly would that look like?

SLAVITT: Well, I think the way we should look at it is we have a number of tools now that we've never had before and we're going to have even more. We have vaccines. We have rapid tests. We are about to have a pill, an antiviral pill, kind of like a Tamiflu, that you'll be able to take if you get vaccinated. We'll have masks. And so -- and more tools will even come over time. And as we have all these tools, these tools make it possible to very much live with COVID as long as we take common sense protections and take them over time. So, if we do end up in that stage, and I don't think we're in that stage yet, then it's going to be up to us as Americans ultimately, whether we decides to use those tools or not, and for people who do, they can be very, very safe and lead a very, very normal life and for people who choose not to who say, I don't want to get vaccinated and I don't want to wear a mask, et cetera, then they're going to be putting themselves at risk.

BLITZER: Andy Slavitt, as usual, thank you very much for joining us.

SLAVITT: Happy to. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Thank you. Coming up, the political pendulum swings toward the Republicans a year after Democrats captured the White House in both houses of Congress. Up next, we're going to take a closer look at the context and look ahead with Presidential Historian, there you see her, Doris Kearns Goodwin, is standing by.



BLITZER: President Biden is putting his spin on the wake-up call he got from voters last night. We won't know the full impact of what happened until next year's midterms and beyond.

Let's discuss with the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She's the author of the book, "Leadership in Turbulent Times." There's the cover.

Professor, thank you so much for joining us.

I want to begin with your thoughts on last night's election results. It appears we're seeing the political pendulum swing back. If history is a guide, should we be surprised by that?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think what history will tell us is that we are in such an era that we should be humbled about making huge pendulum swings. Just late last bring, think about it, when the Biden's approval rating was in the mid-50s, when the COVID relief package passed, when it looked like COVID was getting under control and there was talk of all these big infrastructure projects, everyone was talking about we have a new progressive era here.

So, I think it's things have changed right now, lots happened between then and now, and I do think something about government not being able to fulfill its promises had something to do with it. But I don't know that we should make big predictions yet.

BLITZER: For a long time, we've been told it's the economy, stupid. Did we see further proof of that last night?

KEARNS GOODWIN: Without a question. What people are seeing about the gas tax happening and the inflation possibility and COVID yet not completely under control and people feel their daily lives. I mean, that's the real interesting thing that what Democrats were talking about are changes that might potentially change the daily lives of people, and it's interesting to think what would have happened if it had gotten done.

I mean, once you get that preschool for people who are 3 and 4 years old, that's lasting change. You're not going to be able to take that away once you get the enshrinement of climate control into law, $550 billion, you're not going to be able to take that away, once you get bridges and highways and airports bill, but somehow they weren't able to put it together.


And when government promises, Democrats promised that government is going to work, so perhaps, it will work and the question was will that change people's daily lives enough by the midterms to make them feel, again, our lives are changed? But that's what counts, what you feel in your daily life.

BLITZER: Because as you correctly point out, Democrats, so far, have been unable to pass these two big bills, despite the fact that they have a narrow window to enact what's called real transformative change right now.

Are there historic examples of similar opportunities that we should be learning from?

KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, you know what's interesting? This is a very narrow window and that's important to remember. It's just 50-50.

LBJ, in 1964, wins this landslide election and the great thing is he goes to his White House staff and he said, okay, I have won by 15 million votes but maybe, in a few weeks, I will have a fight with Congress and I will lose a couple million. And then, I'm not gold water anymore so I will lose another couple million. And then, sadly, predicted I might have to send boys into combat and lose some more, so get your asses off the ground and get my bills passed.

And incredibly, between January and August, that narrow window of opportunity, everything passed. Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, voting rights, immigration reform, NPR, PBS. And by August, when the war was beginning to escalate, things were already beginning to turn. The 1966 midterms would go against the Democrats. Ronald Reagan would be elected governor in California, and that window had closed.


KEARNS GOODWIN: So these windows are very narrow and I think that's why the Democrats have to take advantage active if they are going to want to make this happen.

BLITZER: And we know that parts of these plans right now are popular with Americans, and yet voters don't seem to know what's in them exactly. Is that a failure of messaging that we are seeing?

KEARNS GOODWIN: I think it's even more than a failure of messaging. Messaging makes it sound like marketing. I mean, one of the most important responsibilities of an administration is the president has the bully pulpit and you educate the public and you change public sentiment.

And somehow, these bills -- all these provisions, they later said were popular, but somehow people say they didn't even know they were in the bills or they thought the bills might hurt them and I think that's what we have got to figure out. The -- the government has to figure out how to educate people to what these bills are, what's in them, how it will change their lives. Maybe, once they get passed, they will see it.

But right now, somehow that was a failure. There is no question about that. You know, old Harry Truman said the buck stops here and I understand President Biden saying that there were many complications of what was going on in Virginia and it may not have had to do with the passage of these bills, which would have helped ahead of time.

But in the end, he is the head of the Republican -- he is the head of the -- he is the head of the Democratic Party and there is a sense of responsibility and I think he took it but you got to take it directly.

Harry Truman is probably the best. Just start with the buck stops here, and then you can give excuses as to why it's not really there.

BLITZER: Yeah. If they would have passed that $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, roads, bridges, airports, people understand that potentially could have made a difference.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, as usual, we love having you in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much.

GOODWIN: You are very welcome. Glad to be here.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, the latest effort by President Trump's attorneys -- former President Trump, I should say -- to delay the investigation of the January 6th insurrection.



BLITZER: We are following new developments in the investigations into the January 6th insurrection.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles.

Ryan, are former President Trump's lawyers trying to drag this fight out?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they are, Wolf. And that's going to come to a flash point tomorrow in Washington, D.C.'s district court and that's where a judge is going to hear arguments from Trump and his associates and their attempt to defend executive privilege, and keep secret some 700 documents that the committee ask interested in getting from the national archives from the Trump administration during the time around the January 6th insurrection.

Trump's lawyers arguing they believe these documents are nothing more than a political witch hunt. That the committee's already decided they are going to conclude the president is responsible for what happened on January 6th and they believe each individual document should be reviewed by the court before it's handed over to the January 6th committee.

Now, this judge could make a decision on the release of this information from the bench tomorrow at the end of this hearing. Of course, the committee believes they should have access to this material. And so does the Biden White House, which is not supporting the former president's plan to try and defend executive privilege. They believe this does not fall under that banner, and the committee should have access to this information, Wolf.

BLITZER: Has the house select committee, Ryan, heard from any new -- new witnesses?

NOBLES: Well, of course, the committee says that they are talking to people all the time. And they don't necessarily reveal all of the witnesses that come before the committee at any given time. But we do know that some of these subpoena targets that they have been interested in talking to are still delaying that process.

Katrina Pierson, a former spokesperson for the Trump campaign. Someone that was involved in January 6th. She has been granted a slight postponement from her deposition that was supposed to take place this week.

And of course, we are still waiting to see whether that deposition of Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official is going to take place, and if the committee plans to subpoena George Eastman, a Trump lawyer who wrote that memo that was thought to be the roadmap to Vice President Pence attempting to object to the election results. Those are all people the committee's interested in hearing from and they are still attempting to do so, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Ryan, we will stay on of it together with you. Thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.