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State of the Union

Interview With Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Interview With Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; State of the Presidential Race. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 01, 2020 - 10:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Flooding the zone. President Trump schedules back-to-back rallies in battleground states, hoping to pull off a repeat of 2016.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This doesn't seem like someone who's going to come in second. Do you agree?


TAPPER: But with Joe Biden ahead in many polls, can the Democrats reclaim the Rust and Sun belts?

I will speak to former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg next.

And the virus and the vote. Election officials gear up to count record high ballots, as the pandemic reaches dangerous levels in key swing states.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio. There's no place to hide.

TAPPER: Has the coronavirus determined the fate of this election?

Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine joins me to discuss next.

Plus: state of the race. With the election 48 hours away, candidates pitch themselves to anyone who has not made up their mind. So, what should you look for on election night? I will discuss with my political experts ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is in a frantic race to the finish.

With most polls showing President Trump playing from behind, the candidates will be all over the map today and Monday and Tuesday.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is headed to must-win Pennsylvania today, where he will hold two events in Pennsylvania. President Trump is making five campaign appearances today, with just two days to go until Election Day, red states in 2016 and some of the red zones in 2020, as the U.S. sets world records for daily coronavirus cases during these final days of the election, while President Trump has decided to accuse doctors of profiteering off the virus and mocked people for wearing masks in the final days.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has, of course, taken a different approach. He says he is leading by example, with the honking horns of socially distanced drive-in rallies becoming very familiar in these closing days of the campaign.

Joining me now from Michigan, former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Mayor Buttigieg, thanks so much for joining us.

You told me on this show during the primaries, when you were running for president, that Democrats tend to win when they have a fresh face, such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. They tend to lose when they have an establishment figure, like Al Gore or Hillary Clinton.

Take a listen to what you had to say about Biden's message:


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: My difference with the vice president is that I also don't think promising that we are going back to normal is going to be a message that will hit people well, certainly where I come from, in the Industrial Midwest.

If all we have to offer is, hey, let's dial it back and go back to what we were doing, if it feels like we're looking to the past, I think that message is going to come up short when we get to Election Day.


TAPPER: So, Election Day is less than 48 hours away.

A year ago, you did not think Joe Biden was the guy to get it done. Where are we now?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, where we are now is a couple of days away from an election where Joe Biden's message of build back better is resonating.

He's not saying, build back to the way it used to be. He's saying, we have got to come back stronger than ever.

And, of course, I could never have guessed, even less than a year ago, when I was running for president, what our country would be up against as we went into November, but with a pandemic that has claimed the lives of about a quarter-of-a-million Americans and a president who remains in denial, at best, about the reality, lashing out at doctors, pretending that this isn't a problem, and perhaps, equally dangerously, failing to recognize the economic calamity that is a direct consequence of the mismanaged pandemic that we're facing.

Who could be better suited to deal with this than Joe Biden, somebody that the American people have known throughout his time in public life, who has really had the same message for the last 500-some days, keeping with the realities around him, but also remarkably consistent about the need to heal what he calls the soul of the nation?

That's why he's ending on a unifying note. And I think that message is more apt for our times even than we might have guessed at the beginning of this same year, 2020, that we're living in.

TAPPER: A new CNN poll out this week shows that the American people still slightly favor President Trump over Joe Biden when it comes to the economy. New numbers on Friday show that the economy has already recovered two-thirds of the GDP loss due to the pandemic.

I understand the economy has a long way to go, but does it make you nervous at all, especially coming from the Midwest, that Joe Biden has not been able to convince the American people that he is better than Trump on the economy?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, if there's one thing that Donald Trump is very good at, it's taking credit for what others have done in the economy.

He inherited the Obama/Biden expansion, slowed it down. But the economy continued expanding, until his disastrous handling of the pandemic ran it into the ditch that it's now in, where we still have something on the order of 20 million Americans out of work.

But it's also something more fundamental than that, which is that President Trump's idea of a good economy is one where the wealthiest are doing well.


Joe Biden's idea of a good economy is one where all of us are doing well.

What we are offering is better wages, expanding health care, making sure that you can get things like child care and family leave that Republicans and Donald Trump have been standing in the way of all this time.

A good economy isn't just numbers on a page. A good economy is one where we can actually get ahead. Step one to making that happen is dealing with the pandemic. But, also, Joe Biden is with the majority of Americans, who believe, unlike Donald Trump, that the wealthy and corporations need to pay their fair share, and that the rest of us ought to be able to expect health care, good wages, and better working conditions as a way to thrive in the economy throughout the ups and downs that are going to happen from one year to the next.

TAPPER: Mayor Buttigieg, what do you think is the more likely path to victory for Joe Biden, the Rust Belt, Michigan, where you are, plus Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, or the Sunbelt, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona? BUTTIGIEG: Well, as a Midwesterner, I'm enthusiastic about making

sure we deliver wins here in these states in the Industrial Midwest, where Donald Trump came through, talked a big game, said he was going to make everything better. And everybody's worse off than we were four years ago around here.

But I was just in Florida a few days ago. I'm very excited about what's possible in those Sunbelt states too, largely because so many Republicans are learning that, seeing that it's OK to change your mind.

I mean, it's very clear that, if you're a John McCain Republican, you are emphatically not a Donald Trump Republican.

To have states like Georgia in play in a whole new way, in addition to the very exciting Senate races going on there, I think, really demonstrates that there's a new coalition forming, progressives, moderates, independents, and a remarkable number of Republicans, who aren't going to agree with each other on everything, but definitely agree with each other that it's time to elect Joe Biden and get new and better leadership before it's too late for America.

TAPPER: I know a lot of Democrats are anxious about the election because they feel as though they were blindsided in 2016, especially by the support for Trump by white working-class voters in the Midwest.

You're in Michigan right now. You're from Indiana.

Is there another blind spot for Democrats in 2020, something that pundits in the bubble are missing?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, by definition, if it's a blind spot, we're not seeing it.

But I will tell you this. No vote is being taken for granted. And that means making sure that we speak to every kind of voter in every part -- excuse me -- of the country.

But there's also something else, which is paying attention to the mechanics of the elections. Unfortunately, it seems that Republicans have given up -- at least, Donald Trump's campaign has really given up on the idea of persuading voters and is instead turning to the idea of suppressing voters.

I mean, this move to try to disenfranchise 100,000 Texans who are eligible U.S. citizens who voted in good faith, these maneuvers to try to make it harder to get absentee ballots -- this is especially shocking. I don't know what Donald Trump has against soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are returning absentee ballots from abroad.

But it is going to be a stain on that campaign forever that they thought part of their strategy to win was to make it harder for American citizens, including patriots serving overseas, to have their voices heard. These are the kinds of things we're going to make sure, both in court

and through a robust field program, that we are paying attention to, ensuring that every vote is counted, that everyone gets that chance to vote, and that every voter has heard our message about unifying the country, moving it forward, beating the pandemic, and actually making the American economy work for all of us.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the pandemic.

New daily coronavirus cases are at a record high nationwide, including -- including in your home state of Indiana. Some countries in Europe, such as the U.K. and France and Germany, are actually reinstituting lockdowns.

If Joe Biden wins, should another lockdown be on the table?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, hopefully, it doesn't come to that, because we will see swift action, coordinating with and supporting public health authorities, telling us what we can do, as citizens, without requiring any kind of mandates. But everything has to be on the table in order to keep Americans safe.

Look, we should never have got to this point. It should never have been allowed to get this bad. But what we know is that even something as simple and inexpensive as wearing a mask, if everybody does it, dramatically changes what's possible.

I would also note that, lockdown or no, I have been talking to a lot of small business owners, especially here in the Midwest, who are saying, look, even when they're able to open, customers aren't going to come unless they know they're safe.

This is one of many reasons why the first rule of virus economics is to beat the virus, or else you won't have an economy. And that's got to be the focus.

Now, Joe Biden's been very clear, has a strategy, has a plan that involves ensuring that testing and treatment and eventually vaccine is not only widely available and well-distributed, but also free of charge for all Americans.


Meanwhile, Donald Trump's plan apparently, as of today, is to attack doctors and continue contradicting public health authorities, saying we're turning the corner or that it's not a big deal as we enter the worst days so far in this mass casualty event that stands already among the five worst that America has ever faced.

TAPPER: You told me back in August that you would like to serve in a Biden/Harris administration.

Have you had any conversations about that with anyone affiliated with the campaign? And what position might you want, VA secretary, defense secretary? BUTTIGIEG: When I speak to the campaign, it's about one person --

two, actually, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and making sure that they become president and vice president.

And what they know is that they will have my full support, whether that involves a return to public service or from the outside. But that administration is going to need support from all of us in order to succeed in leading America forward.

Our job right now, as a campaign, is to make sure that there is in fact a Biden/Harris administration, which is why we want to make sure every eligible voter goes to, learns about how to check on your registration and what your options are for early or Election Day voting in your state.

Otherwise, all of this is theoretical. And we're not going to take our eye off the ball.

TAPPER: All right, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, stay healthy. Thanks for joining us today.

Donald Trump shocked lots of people on election night 2016. Could he do it again?

Plus: When will we know the results of this election?

Governor Mike DeWine of the critical swing state of Ohio will join me next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Tuesday's election may hinge on the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

And with every day that passes, infection rates are spiking in key swing states, such as Ohio, which is facing record high cases and hospitalizations.

Joining me now, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine.

Governor DeWine, thanks for joining us.

I want to talk about coronavirus in a second, but, first, obviously the election. Ohio is a bellwether state. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. The last Democrat to win despite losing Ohio was John F. Kennedy.

Unlike some states, Ohio begins its -- processing its early vote before Election Day. Given that, do you think we will know who won your state on election night?

DEWINE: Well, I think so. We count our early votes right at 7:30. So, you're going -- the first votes you're going to get are all the early votes. They're going to come in probably before 8:00. And you're going to see some big numbers there. And I think that will give us some indication of how Ohio is going.

So, we don't have to -- we don't have to wait and process those. They're -- they're -- they will be ready to go at 7:30 and run through the computers.

TAPPER: Right. And that might be a -- what we call a blue mirage. Since so many Democrats are voting disproportionately early, we might see big vote totals for...

DEWINE: Sure, but...

TAPPER: ... Biden early on. And then -- and then Trump would catch up as vote -- voting-that-day numbers come in, right?

DEWINE: Right.

Yes, I -- look, I think the president wins Ohio. I think it's going to be a close vote. I think he wins by a couple points probably.

TAPPER: Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016. Polls right now show a neck-and-neck race. You're predicting two points.

Is the fact that this race is even close in Ohio something of a red flag for President Trump?

DEWINE: Well, look, we're in the midst of a pandemic, and this is a tough, tough time. And so it's going to be closer.

It's not going to be a blowout like it was in Ohio. But the president still is going to do exceedingly well in what has historically been a Democrat area. That's the Ohio Valley, Eastern Ohio. All the reports from over there are that he's going to do exceedingly well there. All the other rural counties, he's going to do exceedingly well.

And the ground game, the best that I could see it on both sides, I think the president's ground game has been a lot better than the Biden ground game, frankly.

TAPPER: Ohio accepts absentee ballots postmarked before Election Day through November 13.

"The New York Times" reports that Trump advisers say that their best hope is to win Ohio, keep the race close in Florida, and then try to dispute the validity of uncounted mail-in ballots.

That doesn't seem like a strategy to win. It seems like an effort to undermine election results.

I assume that you believe that any legally cast ballot should be counted, period?

DEWINE: Look, Jake, all I can tell you is about Ohio.

We have 10 days. You postmark that on Monday, you have -- it's got 10 days to get there. And we count all those votes in that 10-day period of time. So, we have got a very open voting. It's a system that has worked. We started voting in Ohio 28 days or so out from the election.

People are voting this weekend. And it's -- we have great confidence in our system in Ohio.

TAPPER: You're releasing a letter to your fellow citizens of Ohio today talking about the need to come together and also talking about coronavirus. You say coronavirus is -- quote -- "raging" throughout the state.

Ohio is clearly in the throes of increased hospitalizations, daily cases. There were a record 3,800 new cases just on Friday, hospitalizations at a record level; 78 percent of Ohio residents are living in a county with very high exposure and spread.


What went wrong? What's going wrong in Ohio when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic?

DEWINE: Well, it's the same thing that's going -- that is happening, going wrong throughout the Midwest. You're seeing it in Europe. They're probably a couple weeks ahead of us at Europe.

It's what some of the experts had predicted. And about 3.5 weeks ago, it just turned on a dime on us in Ohio. We were going well. We had positivity down to 2.5 percent. Now positivity is around 7 percent.

And so my message to Ohioans in that letter I'm sending out in just a few minutes and the video is, look, I know we're in the -- right coming down in this election, very contentious election. But we have a common enemy.

And when we wake up on Wednesday, whoever wins this race, we have got to come together. This virus doesn't care whether we vote for Joe Biden or whether we vote for Donald Trump. It's coming after us. And we need to push aside these differences. We have a lot more in common.

And one of the things -- with each other. One of the things Ohioans and Americans have in common is, we have got to defeat this virus. We have got the -- a vaccine will be coming. I think, frankly, the Trump administration has done a very good job getting that -- moving early on, putting the cash and the money into that.

But it's going to come. And the best guess that I can see or estimate is that -- the latter part of this year, early next year. Then it's going to be incumbent upon us, all of us, to tell people it's safe, and so that people can make that choice to take -- take that vaccine.

But Wednesday, we have got to come together as a country. We have done it in the past. We have rallied before. This is like a war. We always come together. We put our differences aside, our political squabbling. This campaign has had a high degree of rhetoric. I guess most campaigns do, particularly in the last weekend.

And you have each side thinking the world will come to an end if the other side wins. And I understand that. I'm a partisan. I'm for the president.

But, on Wednesday, we have got to come together as a country, because we have got to go fight this enemy, and we have got to defeat this enemy.

TAPPER: One of the top generals in this war, as you describe it, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, told "The Washington Post" that the U.S. faces -- quote -- "a whole lot of hurt" ahead.

He praised Biden's campaign for taking the virus -- quote -- "seriously from a public health perspective." He noted that President Trump is focused on reopening the economy.

And the White House then started attacking Fauci for his remarks, accusing him of playing politics.

But is he wrong about where the president's focus is?

DEWINE: Look, I think the president -- I have seen the president and the vice president behind the scenes with our meeting every week with all the governors do a great job.

But I think, Jake, the rhetoric is hot right now. On Wednesday, we have got to stop looking back, and we have got to look forward and say, how do we defeat this enemy?

You asked me what we're seeing in Ohio, what's going wrong. As we analyze it, what we see in Ohio is that it is not in our schools. Our schools, our teachers are -- everyone's doing a great, great job. We have a mask requirement for K-12 in schools. We're not seeing much spread directly in schools at all. We're not seeing a whole lot in business.

Jake, where we're seeing it is people in their own private lives, weddings, showers, funerals, watching football games. People are letting their guard down. They're not wearing a mask.

And that's our message, my message to the people of Ohio. We got to start doing this more. And there is good news. We now know how important mask are.


DEWINE: We know we can knock this thing down.

And, if we do that and come together, this winter will not be as bad as many people are predicting it. And I'm optimistic that Ohioans are starting to see that this thing is really, really spreading in Ohio.

TAPPER: Yes. The president seems to prefer, instead of Fauci, Dr. Scott Atlas, who does not have expertise in infectious diseases. And when it comes to this White House vs. Fauci thing that just happened, Scott Atlas went on Twitter and started mocking Dr. Fauci.

And he also just recently gave an interview to R.T., which is a Russian propaganda network.

Does it bother you, the role that Scott Atlas is playing in this pandemic at the White House, given the fact that he is mocking the idea of masks, which is the opposite message that you're giving?

DEWINE: You know, my contact with the White House has been Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci. They have been aligned very, very closely.

The message has been, we have got to take this seriously, we have got to wear masks. They have given very good guidance. And I have been following -- following those two, as well as a lot of other infectious disease experts and people who we can -- we can talk to.


So, I think the science is pretty clear what we have to do. And we know -- frankly, Jake, we know a lot more today than we do -- did in March and April.

Today, we know how powerful these masks are. And, again, I will use the example of Ohio schools. We have had some spread, but when you drill down to it, it's usually not directly in a classroom with kids sitting next to each other, because our kids in Ohio are all wearing masks, and our teachers and our administrators are doing a bang-up job.

And so I think, to me, that is one more example of where these masks are doing such a great job. And if we can get people to do that in their private lives...


DEWINE: ... when they're watching the Browns today or the Bengals today, and they're gathering together, keep a little distance and wear a mask, and enjoy the game, and root for our two Ohio teams.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Best of luck on Election Day. Best of luck when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio.

DEWINE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Good to see you, Governor DeWine.

We will be right back after this.




TRUMP: Our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right?

I mean, our doctors are very smart people. Our hospital -- so, what they do is they say, I'm sorry, but everybody dies of COVID.


TAPPER: I mean, attacking the medical community now?

Needless to say, there's no evidence that doctors are doing when President Trump just said, inflating coronavirus death tolls.

The American Medical Association called the president's suggestion and others like it malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided.

Let's bring in the panel.

David Axelrod, let me start with you.

The president is obviously trying to downplay the virus as much as possible, including, I suppose, attacking the medical community. What's your response?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I mean, his -- obviously, his strategy is to try and downplay the virus, to say that it has been overplayed. That is a political tactic.

But it flies in the face of the news that people are getting every day in their personal experience. And the question is whether that dissonance resolves in his favor or not.

I suspect, among his supporters, many will respond favorably to that. Among the broader electorate, I think it's going to be a real problem for him. And this virus clings to him, and it continues to cling to him, as the numbers go up and the days dwindle down to the election.

TAPPER: Karen Finney, what do you think?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We started this term of Donald Trump talking about alternative facts, and now the facts are biting him in the you-know-what.

This is the problem with COVID. There's two things. Number one, the facts don't bear out in our daily lives, what he's telling us. Number two, today is actually the first day of open enrollment of the Affordable Care Act.

It is a reminder for people that their health is literally on the line in this election. And COVID -- obviously, every single person, Jake, that has been infected with COVID now has a preexisting condition. So, they should now think of themselves as having a very real stake in the outcome of this election, given that Trump has said he wants to undo the Affordable Care Act.

So, again, the facts are just glaring for people. And they're not bearing out what he -- the lies that he is telling people.

TAPPER: Speaking of stakes, Senator Santorum, before I bring you in, I just want to note, for disclosure reasons, you have a financial stake in a plasma-focused company that's working on COVID.

Do you think the president's handling of the pandemic is a liability for him?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think that, if you look at the way he has handled it from a rhetorical point of view, it has been a liability.

He's been, at times, very flippant with it and inconsistent on his messaging. And even the messaging today, I would agree that it's -- that's not really good messaging at this point. I think the messaging that he's -- that he's actually done everything that the experts have said with respect to where to spend the money, and to invest in the vaccines and therapeutics, and then you have seen the result of that.

I mean, the therapeutics that are available and the way hospitals are now treating patients, deaths have -- we have record cases, but we're not even close to where the deaths were in the spring, because the work that the Operation Warp Speed and others have done, as well as the hospitals themselves figuring out how to better treat these patients.

Death rates have plummeted. So, that's the message I'd be giving, which is, yes, the virus is spreading, but it's not as dangerous as it was one when it first hit us. And that's because of some of the work that we have been doing.


FINNEY: Sorry.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's not pretend this is a message problem. This is a Donald Trump problem.

No, this is serious. We are living in a more dangerous country because of Donald Trump. The tweets are the policy. You cannot separate what he says from what he is.

I came into a studio today. Washington, D.C., is boarded up. We are no longer free to move about the country. And so, yes, these Republicans can come on and tell me I should support Trump for some policies. That goes out the window when we are not free to see our loved ones. That goes out the window when someone sticks a tube down the throat of your loved one.

That goes out the window when I see Americans gassed in Lafayette Square and people made into orphans at our border.

And so we are in a very scary time right now. And four years ago, I -- I thought I knew what kind of country we were. It has become a much more scary, dangerous place. This is a scary time, before the election, because we are waiting to see who we are again.

FINNEY: But I think...

CARPENTER: And it is because of Donald Trump's words and actions that we're here.


AXELROD: You know, I think, Rick -- I think...

FINNEY: But I think the reality is, this is the country that we are.

And I think that's an important point that Biden or whomever wins is going to have to deal with.

But, Jake, I have been doing a lot of work with white suburban women in battleground states. And I will tell you that one of the top concerning issues for them and one of the reasons they have left Donald Trump was the divisiveness.

Under COVID, it is having to explain to their children why they have to wear a mask, and he doesn't. And that's one too many conversations that these women have had to have with their children. Why does the president do X, why does the president do Y, when I can't do these things? I'm being told I can't. Why is it OK for our president to behave that way?

And that is the reality that people are dealing with every single day. And, again, they're just tired of the divisiveness. And...

AXELROD: Yes, I think this is a really important point.

You can't separate, Rick, what the president does from what the president says. When the president of the United States sends a signal that it's OK to gather in large groups, that it's OK not to wear masks, when we know that that is the fundamental advice that we're getting from public health experts, it has an impact.

The words of a president matter. And in -- throughout this virus, his words have been destructive in terms of trying to take action against this virus and contain it. And that's one of the reasons why we are where we are.

So, it's not just that his rhetoric is bad. His rhetoric has material effect on how people behave.

TAPPER: Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Well, look, the fact of the matter is that the president, people at these rallies recommend that people wear masks. And they also have them outside.

And you just heard from Governor DeWine, who's been pretty strict in the state of Ohio, saying that these -- that the virus doesn't spread -- and we know this from public health officials -- it doesn't spread outside anywhere near -- most of these spreads are occurring in people's homes and in small, confined areas.

We have known that for six months. And everyone seems to ignore the fact that these are not highly spreadable events, when most people, a lot of people are wearing masks, and it's outside.

And so let's -- let's just -- you want to talk about science, let's deal with the science that that's not where the virus is spreading.


TAPPER: One at a time. One at a time.

Go ahead, David.

AXELROD: When he mocks Laura Ingraham -- when he mocks Laura Ingraham at a rally for wearing a mask and saying, you're trying to be politically correct, when he stands on a stage and mocks the vice president for wearing a mask, that has an impact, Rick.

I mean, that's -- yes, there's science about outdoor vs. indoor. It is true that people -- outdoor gatherings are also proscribed in lots of places in this country, because it does have an impact.

But the mocking of people for wearing masks has had an impact on the country. And he's still doing it, even as we are reaching this horrible new peak.

TAPPER: Amanda?


FINNEY: That's a...

SANTORUM: Yes, all I can -- all I can say is that the CDC...


CARPENTER: Yes, I was struck by something that Governor DeWine said in the previous interview...

TAPPER: Amanda.

SANTORUM: Go ahead, Amanda.

CARPENTER: ... where he talked about how we're at war with this virus.

SANTORUM: Go ahead.

CARPENTER: And a key piece of this war is wearing a mask.

You wouldn't send soldiers into the battlefield without equipment. And that's what Donald Trump is doing every day by congregating these people together where they can spread it. They made the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, which should have been a good event for Republicans, into a super-spreader event. We have seen the Republican leaders be struck down with this illness, and then still continue to go to these events.

And so, at some point, we have to get some agreement about health and safety. And Donald Trump has been the worst example that we could imagine for that.

TAPPER: Senator Santorum?

FINNEY: I think it also comes down to -- sorry.


TAPPER: Let Senate Santorum go.

And then we're going to take a quick break, and I will come back to you, Karen.



SANTORUM: Yes, look, the reality is that 70 percent of the people who are getting infected -- who are getting this infection wear masks all the time.

So, the idea that a mask is a silver bullet that's going to stop people from doing it, it's where you are and how you are...

FINNEY: Oh, come on.

CARPENTER: Wave the white flag.

SANTORUM: ... how you are getting it.

No, this is a CDC number. Don't go, oh, come on.

Seventy percent is a CDC number.


TAPPER: That's a misreading of that study.

The study was -- that's not accurate. I don't want to get into that whole CDC stuff. Look, obviously, a mask is not a silver bullet. But that study was trying to figure out how those individuals...

SANTORUM: It's not a silver bullet.

TAPPER: ... how those individuals got the virus.

And 42 percent of the people who got the virus had been in close contact with somebody that was infected. And then a lot of those people also had been in restaurant dining. Some of them were indoors. So, that was a misrepresented statistic.

SANTORUM: Indoors. That's exactly right.

FINNEY: But it is a weapon. It is one weapon.

TAPPER: Absolutely true that indoor is more dangerous than outdoor, yes.

But, absolutely, masks are right now, health officials say, the safest thing we can do.

I'm going to take a quick break. We're going to come back and regroup and talk about the election.

With fewer than 72 hours until the first results of the race, what do the candidates have to do to close strong?

Stay with us.




TRUMP: You know the job we have done? You are so lucky that I'm your president. You are so lucky.


TRUMP: Pennsylvania, you are so lucky. You better get out and vote on Tuesday.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's nothing that he can do to stop the people of this nation from voting in overwhelming numbers and taking back this democracy.

It's time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home.


TAPPER: President Trump and Joe Biden making their final pitches to voters in these closing hours in crucial swing states,just in case there's anyone out there still trying to make up his or her mind.

Senator Santorum, let me start with you.

It all comes down to a commonwealth that you and I both love, Pennsylvania. You ran competitive races there three times statewide. You won two out of three. What are you going to be looking for on election night? What do Biden and Trump each need to do in order to win Pennsylvania?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, Trump has to get a huge vote out of Western Pennsylvania. I mean, I -- this morning, the clock started going backward. "The

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," one of the most liberal papers in our state, hasn't endorsed a president since 19 -- a Republican since 1972 -- endorsed Donald Trump. I'd never thought I'd live to see that day again.


And that's just because of the issue of fracking, the issue of energy, and what it means to the hundreds of thousands of jobs in Western Pennsylvania. So, I mean, you had 50,000 people, supposedly, in my old hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania.

So, that area of the state has to just explode with Trump votes in margins that far exceeded what he did last time around. And from what I'm hearing, that's exactly what's going on.

TAPPER: Karen?

FINNEY: So, I think we have to be cautiously optimistic.

Iowa is a great example of that, where things were even in September, and now Trump is ahead seven points. That is my PTSD from both 2016 and having worked for Stacey Abrams on 2018, where we saw -- and I think we're seeing this again -- the GOP is weaponizing incompetence.

Trump is doing it when it comes to the COVID response. But, again, I think the way we're going to see election night go down, you can tell that Trump is already preparing to challenge votes. They're doing it in Texas. They're preparing different locations in Pennsylvania. We have seen those stories. We have seen that in Pennsylvania. They're also trying to intimidate voters by taking their picture.

So, I think Biden has to stay focused on what he was so prescient in saying from the beginning. This is about who we are as America. And since 2016, particularly among women -- we saw it in the women's marches. We saw it in 2018. Those women have continued to lean Democratic since then. They are turning out in huge numbers.

I think they're going to be a huge story in this election. So, we have got to keep on pace with turnout, and not be intimidated, and make sure we get out and vote.

AXELROD: Can I just settle -- can I just settle everybody down?

I mean, I have never...


TAPPER: David, we're less than 72 hours from the first results. What do you think people should be watching on election night to get a sense as to how things are going and where the election might end up?

AXELROD: First of all, let me just say, on the Iowa poll, there was one Iowa poll last night that sent the whole political world into a frenzy that had Biden, as Karen said, trailing by seven, after being tied in September.

The internals of that poll are really dubious. And I would just urge people to average the polls there, which show a pretty close race. It doesn't mean Biden's going to win there, but it's going to be closer than that.

Overall, look, I think this boils down, Jake, to what happens in the states that we will know about on Tuesday night and the states for which we will have to wait, including Pennsylvania. If Donald Trump loses Florida, I think we know where this election is going. If he loses North Carolina or Georgia, we will have a very good idea. And, certainly, Arizona will have most of its vote counted.

If he loses any of those states, or some combination of them, then I think that we know where this election is going. If he wins all those states, then it goes to the three Midwestern and Industrial Mid -- states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

And it's going to be a long and difficult week. And that's where these voting challenges that Karen is talking about will really come in.

The president is laying a marker down that he's going to try and contest these early votes that have gone 3-1 against him in Pennsylvania. And he will -- and he will...


AXELROD: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

CARPENTER: If the election gets to be that close.

I do think we really have to look at the Republican vote. Although Republicans in Washington have been solidly lined up behind Trump through these years, the Republican...

FINNEY: That's right.

CARPENTER: ... the regular Republican voters have not.

Look at what happened in the 2018 midterm elections. And from where I sit, as a Republican voter against Trump, we have always known that, if he didn't keep that small base of 80,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania together, he is toast.

If he loses on Tuesday, it will be because of the Republicans who have left him. So, he can send a thank you note there.

FINNEY: But can I just -- I'm sorry.

Can I just weigh in on something that David said?

And, David, all due respect, I was there in 2016, when we were trying to make the call in the wee hours of the morning, trying to figure out what was really happening on the ground, and it was so close. I was there in 2018 with Stacey Abrams, as we were, again, trying to figure out what was happening. I want us to be cautiously optimistic. But I do not want Democrats to

take anything for granted. I do not want them looking at those lines and thinking that does not mean you better get out there and vote, because no one is coming to save you, people. You have got to vote.

AXELROD: Yes. Well, I...

FINNEY: And I just think we cannot -- I mean -- and there -- and as we -- there is a possibility of a Trump surge.

Let's not kid ourselves about that.

SANTORUM: Yes, the reality...

AXELROD: No, I understand. And I understand that you're trying to exhort people.

But all I'm saying is that, Jake, as to how we watch -- should watch the returns, I think that we should watch them in stages. It could be that the election is determined on Tuesday night by all -- for all intents and purposes, or it could be that those three states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, are going to determine this election, and we're going to have to wait several days to find out how they vote.



AXELROD: And it's going to be a messy few days by just listening to how the president is characterizing the mail-in votes.

TAPPER: All right, thanks, one and all. Really appreciate it.

SANTORUM: Yes, David is absolutely -- oh, sorry.

TAPPER: Thanks. Sorry. Thanks.

I hate doing this remotely, but we're in the middle of a pandemic.

The most important thing you're going to do this week, if you haven't already.

That's next.



TAPPER: It's been a horrible year for so many people around the world and here at home in the United States.

A terrifying virus has killed or infected millions of our grandparents, moms and dads, sisters, brothers, friends. The pandemic has cost millions of jobs, thousands of businesses. And it is far from over. We must acknowledge, however, that we have seen so many Americans rise

to this moment, first responders and health care providers, good samaritans and kind neighbors, from the greatest acts of sacrifice from doctors and nurses, who literally gave their lives to care for the sick, to small, but noble actions, as simple as wearing a mask in public.

And now it's time for all of us to take one more action, to stand up and vote.

Whomever you're voting for, and for whatever reason, the idea of this nation, government of the people, by the people, for the people, as President Abraham Lincoln once said, it needs the people. It needs you.

So many of you already have risen to the challenge, braving the pandemic, and bad weather, and long lines, and attempts at discouragement and intimidation and more. It's been a beautiful sight to see, early voters totaling about two-thirds of the entire 2016 tally already, a testament to the mettle of this country, in some of the most challenging times we have ever seen.

What we need to do now is keep going. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, an independent, a political agnostic, vote.

President Thomas Jefferson said -- quote -- "We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate."

Don't be left out. The state of our union, it's in your hands.

Before we go today, some joyful news for our viewers.

We want to welcome to the world Jack Andrew Runfalow (ph), who arrived on Halloween, just in time for Election Day.

Congratulations to STATE OF THE UNION senior producer Rachel Streitfeld, her husband, Tim, and new big brother Caleb. Jack is beautiful.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.

A behind-the-scenes look at the CNN Election Desk on "RELIABLE SOURCES," that's next.