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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Interview With Biden Campaign Senior Adviser Symone Sanders; Interview With Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Interview With Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT); Interview With Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD); Interview With Stacey Abrams. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2020 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): America speaks. Joe Biden wins the 2020 presidential election.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify.

TAPPER: And Kamala Harris makes history. But, after four years of President Trump, can president-elect Biden bring the country together now?

I will speak to senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders and House Majority Whip James Clyburn next.

And sore loser? President Trump casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election with no evidence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an embarrassment to our country.

TAPPER: Will the president concede? And what is the future of the Republican Party? Two prominent Republicans, Senator Mitt Romney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, join me to discuss next.

Plus: flipping blue. Joe Biden takes the lead in Georgia and wins other Republican-held states.

STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: Demography changes first, and then the electoral power catches up.

TAPPER: As both sides work to get out the vote, did progressives and black Americans make the difference? We will talk exclusively with voting rights leader Stacey Abrams and Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is turning the proverbial page. Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States of America, and, at his side, the very first woman vice president, current Senator Kamala Harris.

Last night, the president-elect addressed the nation, saying he would be a president for all Americans.


BIDEN: Folks, I'm a proud Democrat...


BIDEN: ... but I will govern as an American president.

I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.



TAPPER: He also called this moment in America a -- quote -- "time to heal the wounds of division," but also the ravages of a pandemic, which has already killed more than 237,000 Americans and is only getting worse.

One thing the new president-elect could not mention last night, a concession call, a tradition in democracies and a courtesy that President Trump received from Hillary Clinton, but is so far refusing to offer Vice President Biden, president-elect Biden.

Instead, President Trump has railed on Twitter, claiming he will be pursuing legal action, though his team has not presented any evidence for widespread fraud or irregularities to date. And Republican election officials from coast to coast attest to a clean and fair election.

Overnight, CNN reported that even the president's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, has approached the president about conceding.

Today, we have a special commercial-free hour of STATE OF THE UNION for you, including Democrats like Congressman James Clyburn and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Stacey Abrams, along with Republicans, such as Senator Mitt Romney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

But we're going to begin today in Wilmington, Delaware, where we are joined by senior adviser to the Biden campaign Symone Sanders.

Symone, thanks for joining us.

And, first of all, congratulations on this victory, hard-fought, long- fought.

I have to ask you about this moment from vice president-elect Kamala Harris last night. Take a listen.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.



TAPPER: Tens of millions of women and women of color voted for this ticket.

If you could just take off your politico hat for one second, I just want to ask you, as a black woman, what does this moment mean for you?

SYMONE SANDERS, BIDEN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, thanks for having me this morning, Jake.

Last night was historic, and it was just truly remarkable.

You know, as vice president-elect Harris said in her speech last night the audacity, the boldness of president-elect Joe Biden to choose her as his running mate, to help break a glass ceiling that has had many cracks, but has never yet been shattered.

So, it's truly amazing. I have had the opportunity to travel with both president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Senator Harris. And I am just in awe of both of them.


And I can tell you that the American people picked a good ticket. There's a lot of work to be done. And the quote the Senator -- that -- pardon me -- vice president-elect Harris noted last night about that she may be the first, but she may not be the last, is something that she often says her mother told her: You may be the first to do many things, but you should not be the last.

And I think, last night, right here in Wilmington, folks all over the world saw the true possibilities of America. As president-elect Biden says, we are the United States of America. There is nothing we cannot do when we come together. And we saw that on display here tonight -- last night.

TAPPER: Has anyone from the Trump White House or anyone from House or Senate Republican leadership reached out to president-elect Biden in any way?

SANDERS: I do think there have been a number of Republicans who have reached out. I don't believe that president-elect Biden has connected with those folks.

But a number of Republicans from the Hill have reached out. I don't believe anyone from the White House has. I think the White House has made clear what their strategy is here and that they are going to continue to participate and push forward these flailing and, in many -- in many respects, baseless legal strategies.

But the people, Jake, are the folks that decide elections in this country. And the people have spoken.

TAPPER: You won because Biden delivered on his promise to voters to rebuild the blue wall, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan.

I have to say, President Trump, to his credit, he got his voters to the polls there, too. He won more voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan than he did four years ago. He won millions more voters nationally. Obviously, you won more.

But I guess my question is, how did you rebuild the blue wall? Did you -- did you get your voters in the urban centers to turn out? Was it winning over and switching suburban voters? Did you narrow the margins in rural areas?

How -- strategically, how was it done?

SANDERS: I think it was all of the above, Jake.

If you will look at the numbers -- and I know there will be many pieces written about this over the next couple of days -- the Biden coalition was, yes, suburban voters, it was black voters, it was Latino voters, it was Native American voters in places like Arizona, for example. We couldn't have won without the Latino vote.

But we also couldn't have won without indigenous people. Let's be very clear. It was working-class folks from across the spectrum. And, yes, we narrowed the margin in many rural areas.

I would argue that we rebuilt the blue wall because Joe Biden's message was a message that resonated with folks across the spectrum. And that message was one of restoring the soul of this nation, rebuilding the backbone of this country, the middle class in a way that everyone comes along, and uniting the country.

That's the message he started this campaign with. And that's the message that he ended with. He knew why he was running and he knew what resonated with people across this country.

TAPPER: There's a "Washington Post" report about some executive actions that president-elect Biden will take on his first day in office, reversing the so-called Muslim ban and other things.

Can you -- can you tell us what we're likely to see on that first day?

SANDERS: Well, we have a little over 70 days, Jake, so I hope folks give us a moment to pull it together.

But I can tell you this, that, throughout the campaign, Joe Biden has noted that there are a number of things that we need to tackle and do and that we will need to start on day one.

Yes, that includes addressing the climate crisis. Yes, that includes, in his 100-day strategy, re -- building on the success of the Obama/Biden administration's 21st Century Task Force on Policing, tackling the virus.

On Monday, we will announce this -- the COVID task force, if you will, that will operationalize the Biden/Harris campaign plan to address COVID into a plan that the government can use.

So, what I can tell you right now, today, is that Joe Biden is going to make good on his promises on the campaign trail.

TAPPER: We saw a lot of celebrations of president-elect Biden's victory in the streets of so many major American cities, New York, Washington, Philly, Chicago, Atlanta.

I know, at least based on what we saw on screen, a lot of these people were wearing masks, but not all of them were. And CDC guidelines say, either -- even if you're wearing a mask, you should avoid crowds.

New coronavirus cases are soaring. We have just had some of the worst days for new infections of the entire pandemic. Is it incumbent upon president-elect Biden to make it clear to his supporters that crowds are a bad idea during this pandemic, even if people are wearing masks, and he understands that they want to celebrate, but they shouldn't be filling the streets like that?

SANDERS: I think we have made it clear, Jake.

And president-elect Joe Biden is going to continue to speak out on this in the next coming days and weeks, as our task force comes together and recommendations are put forward.

If folks will notice, last night here in Wilmington, we had a car rally. Folks were in their cars. Some people were sitting on top of their cars.


And that was because that's a safe way to gather, so we weren't creating a crowd where people are standing shoulder to shoulder.

So, I know folks are excited. There are many people who are looking forward to a new day, actually turning the corner and getting this virus under control.

But we are imploring folks across the country to be safe, wear your mask, social distance. This virus is very real, and it's deadly.

TAPPER: All right, Symone Sanders, congratulations again. Really appreciate it.

If you can remember all the way back to February, it was the South Carolina primary that started the Biden campaign wave that has now crested in his presidency.

Joining me now is a man who was essential, even pivotal to that win, House majority Whip Democratic Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, whose endorsement before the South Carolina primary gave new life to Joe Biden's then somewhat flailing campaign. Majority Whip Clyburn, thanks so much for joining us.

I want you to take a listen to what president-elect Biden had to say last night about the black community.


BIDEN: Especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African-American community stood up again for me.


BIDEN: You've always had my back, and I will have yours.


TAPPER: I don't think it's hyperbole to say that, if it were not for you and black voters in South Carolina, I don't know what I would be covering this morning.

You gave Biden's campaign new life. And if it were not for you, I don't think he would have gotten the nomination. And I have no idea whether -- whether or not I'd be covering a Democratic president-elect and Kamala Harris as vice president-elect or the reelection of Donald Trump.

What do you think about that?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, it all came from the voters of South Carolina.

First of all, thank you very much for having me.

But, you know, when I was trying to decide how to become involved in the campaign, I was always going to vote for Joe Biden. But it's not until an encounter in a rural church in Richland County, South Carolina, with an elderly lady sitting on the front bench.

And she called me over to her. And she asked me, who was I going to vote for? And when I told her -- and it was kind of interesting, because she says, "If you don't want anybody else to hear, just lean down and whisper it in my ear."

And I did what she asked me to do. But she snapped her head back. And the way she looked in my face and told me, I needed to hear that, and this community needs to hear from you.

And that what made me do what I did in the manner that I did it. So, it all bubbled up from the people that I serve. So, I think that that is what it was all about.

TAPPER: Do you think, as many observers do, that Joe Biden may have been the only Democrat, because of his life story, because of the fact that the American people knew him, so he was relatively immune to the smearing that the president attempted of him, because of his connections to the black community and Barack Obama, because of his connections to white voters and his time growing up in Scranton, do you think that he might have been the only Democrat that could have beaten President Trump, who you would acknowledge is a real political force in the United States?

CLYBURN: That's what I thought.

I looked at all of the candidates. And I'm friends, I mean, close friends, with a lot of them. But I came to the conclusion, after that experience in the church, calling a few people, I just came to the conclusion that Joe Biden was our best bet.

I'm not going to say he's the only one. But I will say I thought he was the best bet to go into the general election, because incumbency is what it is. And it's a real force. When you can master the levels of government all across the country, you can really get things done that sometimes cannot be seen with the naked eye.

And so, with all of this as a backdrop, I just felt a guy who had been vice president to the first African-American president in these United States for eight years, and very loyal vice president, and because he spent so much time in South Carolina, Delaware being the state that it is, a part of Brown v. Board of Education, a lot of people don't recognize that.

Brown v. Board of Education started in South Carolina. But it was five states...

TAPPER: That's right.

CLYBURN: ... well, four states and the District of Columbia...


CLYBURN: ... involved in that.


So, these are the kinds of experiences Joe Biden has had. And I have talked to him about them for 20-some-odd years.

TAPPER: Right.

CLYBURN: And so I just believed that he was the best bet.

TAPPER: Joe Biden's been the president-elect for about 24 hours now.

President Trump has not conceded the race. Should Trump concede the race? How should president-elect Biden handle this potentially volatile situation?

CLYBURN: Well, I think Trump should concede.

But I also think that the Republican Party has a responsibility here. This country is bigger than any one person. This democracy is teetering. He called it an inflection point. We are in a very dire set of consequences here. And we had better get

hold of ourselves and this country and stop catering to whims of one person.

So, it doesn't matter to me whether or not he concedes. What matters to me is whether or not the Republican Party will step up and help us preserve the integrity of this democracy.

We have been the envy of the world, but we have also received a lot of disdain from places around the world.

See, I'm old enough to remember Nikita Khrushchev. I remember that speech at the United Nations when he looked out and says: "We will bury you."


CLYBURN: I will never forget that.

And so, I don't understand how Republicans can allow Putin to dictate the fortunes of this country. And that is what is going on here.


Yes, so, Majority Whip Clyburn, I just want to ask you. There's going to be, obviously, some struggles between the moderate wing of the Democratic Party and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Congresswoman Abigail Stanberger -- Spanberger, who represents a competitive Trump district in Virginia, she called Tuesday's election, in which House Democrats lost seats, she called it a failure for House Democrats. She appeared to blame progressives for the party's underperforming in some House races and said that Democrats -- quote -- "need to not ever use the word socialist or socialism again."

She expressed disdain and dismay that she had to defend the concept of defunding the police and more.

You were on that conference call. Do you share her concerns about progressives in the party moving the party too far to the left?

CLYBURN: Well, Jake, you may remember, months ago, I came out very publicly and very forcibly against sloganeering.

I happen to also be -- you know, John Lewis and I were co -- were founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. John and I sat on the House floor and talked about that defund the police slogan, and both of us concluded that it had the possibilities of doing to the Black Lives Matter movement and current movements across the country what "Burn, baby, burn" did to us back in 1960.

We lost that movement over that slogan. And a lot of people don't realize it, but John Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in February 1965. A year later, we got the Voting Rights Act out of that, six months later. And it wasn't a year after that that John Lewis was ousted as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. And so we saw the same thing happening here.

So, I spoke about against the sloganeering. And I feel very strongly we can't pick up these things just because it makes a good headline. It sometimes destroys headway.

We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines.

TAPPER: Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the dean of the South Carolina congressional delegation and the most powerful African-American in the United States government, until January 20, we should note, when vice president-elect Kamala Harris takes office.

Majority Whip Clyburn, it's been an honor having you on the show. Thanks so much.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

TAPPER: President Trump yet to call or concede this race to president-elect Biden.

My next guest knows something about displaying class and humility in a concession speech to a divided nation.

Joining me now, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.

Senator Romney, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

It's no secret that you have had your differences with President Trump. And you said you weren't going to vote for him. Do you, think ultimately, it's a good thing for the country that Joe Biden is the president-elect?

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Well, I think half the country thinks it's a great idea. I think the other half thinks it's not such a great idea.


But the reality is, given the fact that the statisticians have come to a conclusion at this stage, I think we get behind the new president. Unless, for some reason, that's overturned, we get behind the new president, wish him the very best.

And I send our congratulations. And we will keep this president, just like the last president, in our prayers.

TAPPER: You said you didn't vote for President Trump, or you said you weren't going to vote for him. Did you vote for Joe Biden?

ROMNEY: I'm not going to talk about my vote. That's in the rearview mirror.

I'm going to talk now about how I can work with the new president. I know he's on the other side of the aisle, but I want to make sure that we conservatives keep on fighting to make sure that we don't have a Green New Deal, we don't get rid of gas and coal and oil, that we don't have a Medicare-for-all plan put in place, that we don't raise taxes on American enterprise. That would kill the economy.

So, look, I congratulate him, but I'm not going to put aside conservative principles. We're going to fight for the things that we believe in.

TAPPER: Have you spoken with president-elect Biden since his win? If so, what do you tell each other?

And I see those issues that you're talking about where you're going to oppose him. Are there some areas where you think you can work with him?

ROMNEY: I have not spoken with president-elect Biden. I expect I will do some do so at some point, but I presume there's a long line of people wishing him well and offering -- offering to work in a collaborative way.

Yes, there are a number of places where we can where we can work together. Health care is one of those. Look, Obamacare is not working for millions and millions of Americans. We're going to have to fix it.

I would have rather seen it overturned and replaced. But, unless the court tells us to do that, well, we're going to have to fix it the way it is. That's something we can do.

We need to get drug prices down. We need also to find a way to end surprise billing. We have got some ideas on that.

Then I think an area that the president-elect has spoken about that I agree on is finding help for families with kids. So, a more extensive child tax credit I think would be a good thing that we can work on, and then entitlement reform. He wants to add spending to Social Security. We're going to have to find a way to make sure the Social Security trust fund, like that for Medicare and other programs, is solvent.

And they're forecasted to become insolvent relatively quickly. So, there's some work to be done. And, hopefully, we will find some common ground.

TAPPER: Why do you think so few of your colleagues, Republicans on Capitol Hill, have congratulated president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris or even acknowledged that they won?

ROMNEY: Well, I can't speak for others.

But I can say that it's a very close race. It's as close or closer than the race back in 2016, when President Trump was elected. When you have a margin of tens of thousands of votes, not hundreds of thousands of votes, why, there's going to be inevitably recalls.

There are also allegations of irregularities of one kind or another. And those are going to have to be investigated and ultimately taken to the court. And so I think some people want to wait until not just the word of FOX and CNN and AP, but actually the certified results that would come from a state.

TAPPER: I mean, President Trump's out there saying that he won the election. It's not just a question of, oh, we have questions about this place or that place.

And we should note, Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who's a CNN commentator, he's looked into these complaints about voter fraud and the like, and he doesn't see any of these complaints as having merit.

Election officials in Philadelphia, Republican election officials, and throughout the country say this was a clean election.

Does it concern you at all that President Trump and his team are out there saying that he won and lying about the integrity of the election with wild allegations?

ROMNEY: You're not going to change the nature of President Trump in these last days, apparently, of his presidency. He is who he is.

And he has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth.


ROMNEY: And so he's going to -- he's going to keep on fighting until the very end.

But I'm convinced that, once all remedies have been exhausted, if those are exhausted in a way that's not favorable to him, he will accept the inevitable. But don't expect him to go quietly in the night. That's not how he operates.

TAPPER: Have you seen any evidence, any evidence of large-scale or significant voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election?

ROMNEY: Well, I haven't personally.

And I have listened to the head of the Republican National Committee and to commentators on your network and other networks, people who are also registrars and so forth of various states, and no one has alleged something at such a sufficient scale that it would change the outcome.

But there are recounts that will go on. And you have states where the margin is 10,000, another state where it's 20,000, 30,000. When the numbers are that low, why, there's the potential for a reversal.

So, I understand why the president wants to keep on fighting.


I do believe, however, that it's destructive to the cause of democracy to suggest widespread fraud or corruption. There's just no evidence of that at this stage. And I think it's important for us to recognize that the world is watching.

And I think, by the way, for all of us, whether we're in the Senate or the governor's homes, or whether the president himself, you think of the line from "Hamilton." History has its eyes on you.

And I think, in a setting like this, it's important to think about what the world is seeing, what history will see. It's important, I believe, for us to stand up and defend the institutions of democracy. It's essential for our democracy and our republic that these institutions are given credibility.

And we will follow the normal course in an election, doing recounts, investigating irregularities. And, when it's over, it'll be over.

TAPPER: So, just a quick yes or no, you don't think anyone's trying to steal the election?

ROMNEY: Oh, I'm sure individuals would like to be able to, but I don't think there's a widespread conspiracy of some kind. Those things just don't happen the way people would anticipate they might.

You have got several states, a number of states that have come out in favor of Joe Biden's election. And so you might get a change in one state, but getting enough to change the outcome, I think, is pretty difficult at this stage.

TAPPER: Speaking of history, you ran for president. You were the Republican nominee in 2012. You conceded to then President Barack Obama back then.

I want to play a little bit of what you said in that speech.


ROMNEY: I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations.

The nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.


TAPPER: The difference between that statement, which I'm sure was not easy to give, and what we have heard from President Trump is like night and day, Senator.

Is it important, do you think, for the country that President Trump, in the immortal words of the mayor of Philadelphia, put on his big boy pants and formally concede, reassuring his supporters that Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States?

ROMNEY: Well, first, Jake, thanks for that walk down memory lane.

I'd forgotten that I lost.

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: To the point...


TAPPER: I'm citing it only as an example of your -- of your dignity and grace, Senator.

I mean, like, I know you're being self-effacing, but, like, I'm citing it because it's a model for how democracy works.

ROMNEY: I just don't think you can expect President Trump to respond and react the way presidential candidates have in the past.

He's a very different person than presidential candidates in the past. He has his own manner. And he is responding in a way which is entirely (AUDIO GAP) with everything we have seen during his campaigns, and, of course, during his presidency.

So, he's going to do what he's going to do. But, in the final analysis, there's going to be a recount, I'm sure, in a number of states. There will be investigation carried out. And there will be a resolution in the courts, if necessary.

And when that's all said and done, the president doesn't have a choice.

People think, well, gosh, can we remove him from office? You don't have to remove him from office. If he -- if he doesn't win on a legitimate basis, why, then, he ceases to be president when Joe Biden is sworn in. It's as simple as that.

So, I would -- I would prefer to see the world watching a more graceful departure, but that's just not in the nature of the man.

TAPPER: President-elect Biden said last night that he has a mandate, basically, to compromise. Take a listen.


BIDEN: The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another, it's not some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.


TAPPER: So, that's president-elect Biden putting out his hand of compromise to Republicans.

I have heard from you today areas where you think you can agree and work together, at the very least.

But there are a lot of Trump allies, Senator Cruz, Senator Graham, out there echoing President Trump's false claims about the election.

Do you think that Republicans in the Senate will ultimately be able to work with president-elect Biden once he becomes president and actually do the business of the American people?

ROMNEY: Well, we have no choice. And we have a responsibility that we're going to have to live up to.

We begin, I think, with an immediate need to get relief to families and small businesses that are suffering as a result of the economic downturn associated with COVID. That's something we're going to have to do, and we're going to have to do it on a bipartisan basis.


And I think you're going to recognize as well that we will be able to work together on health care and education and the environment.

Does that mean we will see eye to eye entirely? No. But I think the president-elect recognizes that Republicans gained seats in Congress. Republicans overall did better than Democrats overall in this election.

So, if it comes down to a question about, well, what does America want in terms of policy, pretty clear they don't want the Green New Deal. Pretty clear they don't want Medicare for all, don't want higher taxes, don't want to get rid of oil and gas and coal.

The American people are more conservative than they are progressive, so to speak. And any argument to the contrary, I think, is going to be met with a lot of resistance from the American people and from members of Congress.

Can we find common ground? Yes. And if Joe Biden works with Republicans in the Senate, he's going to find that we will be able to find common ground. After all, he's been there a long time himself. He knows what it takes to get things done in that chamber.

TAPPER: I would agree with you that it was a good night for Republicans in general on Election Day, except for President Trump.

As you note, as of right now, Republicans have picked up four seats in the House. Republicans have maintained control of the Senate, at least as of right now. The rejection was not necessarily of conservatism. It was of President Trump.

I know it's not been easy for you, as somebody standing up for facts and for basic decency and dignity, during the Trump era. At times, you have been -- you have commented on it yourself -- like the skunk at a garden party.

I'm wondering how you think history will judge the Republican Party during this era. I'm not talking about Justice Amy Coney Barrett or tax cuts. I'm talking about mocking the disabled. I'm talking about child separation. I'm talking about 25,000 lies by President Trump and the complicity of so many Republican leaders in just basic indecency by President Trump.

ROMNEY: I think everybody has to make their own decision as to when they're going to speak out and when they're not. I think it was Senator Richard Burr who was asked about a tweet which

some people found offensive and what he thought about it. And he said, if I spend my career here in the Senate responding to every tweet of the president's I disagree with, why, that's all I'd be doing.

And so I think people had to make an assessment as to when it was appropriate and necessary to speak out. I probably did so more frequently than some others. But there were other folks like myself who did speak out when they felt that the president had gone across a bright red line.

I also don't think that history will look at a party so much as it looks at individuals, and everybody has to do what they feel is right.

I think my colleagues -- and I know I have had conversations with a number of Republican senators, some more troubled than others by things that were going on. But each person followed their conscience in the way they thought was best and did what they thought was right.

And some recognize we got to get along even when we disagree, and there's no particular upside in criticizing every fault. And I don't intend to criticize every fault of a president like Biden either.

I will -- I will, from time to time, I'm sure, have something to say when I think he makes a big mistake, and I'm sure he will make mistakes from time to time. But, as to a daily commentary on President Trump's faults or the faults of future presidents, I think that's something for each individual to assess on their own.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

Best to you and Ann.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: What if I were to tell you -- what if I were to tell 2016, rather, that Georgia might turn blue four years later?

That's the situation right now. Joe Biden is clinging to a slim lead in the state, which will go to a recount.

Joining me now, former gubernatorial candidate and the founder of voting rights organization Fair Fight Stacey Abrams. She is also the author of "Our Time Is Now."

Ms. Abrams, thank you so much for joining us. Leader Abrams, I should call you, I suppose.

And congratulations on the hard-fought election victory. It's too early to call in Georgia, but, more nationally, I know you were a big early supporter of Joe Biden.

ABRAMS: Absolutely.

And I'm -- we're so proud of the work that the Biden campaign did in Georgia, but we're incredibly excited about the work that's been done on the ground for the last decade to bring us to this point. And we're so excited to be going blue.

TAPPER: So, Leader Abrams, Biden currently holds a slim lead, above 10,000 votes, in Georgia. The secretary of state says it's going to a recount.

When the recount is over, do you think Biden/Harris will have won Georgia?


ABRAMS: Absolutely.

Recounts in Georgia essentially mean a re-scan of what's been done very painstakingly over the last five days. And we know that, whether it's tomorrow or next week, the result will be the same, that Joe Biden has won the state of Georgia.

TAPPER: Many are pointing to you and your activism in voter registration and voter mobilization as the driving force behind the Georgia results.

Did you see tangible results from your efforts?

ABRAMS: We have been working at this for more than a decade.

And there have been dozens of organizations and hundreds of people who've made this their primary mission. I have been privileged to be able to bring to bear resources, both before the election of 2018 and then the $40 million we were able to spend in 2018 to build a Democratic infrastructure that may not have yielded a victory for me in 2018, but certainly yielded a victory this week.

But what we know even more is that the people who did that work will be hard at work to ensure that we continue our streak and that we deliver two U.S. Senate seats to join Joe Biden in January.

And that's why I'm encouraging people to go to to be supportive of those efforts.

TAPPER: That's right. There are two special elections. Neither candidate made the 50 percent cutoff in your two Senate races earlier this week, or last week, whenever it was.

On a personal note, Leader Abrams, I have to ask you, if you could take off your politician hat for one second, what does it mean to you that a black woman is now the vice president-elect of the United States.

ABRAMS: It is a privilege in this nation to be able to see yourself reflected in the face of leadership, and for both the African-American community and the Indian American community and for women of color, writ large.

Kamala Harris' election signals that the face of leadership does change, that we do have a role to play, beyond being supporters and advocates and adjutants, that we can be the leaders of this country. And I think it's an exceptional moment that we are experiencing in this country.

TAPPER: Biden's strength among black Americans has been a driving force behind his campaign.

President Trump, we should note, did make some inroads among minority communities, particularly with some Latino groups. What role do you think minority voters played in Biden's victory? And where are some areas that Democrats still need to work on?

ABRAMS: As they have said many times, the Latino community is not a monolith.

And so let's be clear. It was the Latino community that delivered Arizona. It's going to be the Latino community that delivers Nevada. Latino voters in Georgia are an essential part of the coalition that will elect Joe Biden here in Georgia.

But what we have to understand is that, for minority communities, there has to be consistent engagement. And that's one of the hallmarks, I think, of the work we have done here in Georgia.

We began early on saying that this is not about black and white; this is about pulling together coalitions of people of color, of the poor, of the disadvantaged, of the marginalized, and being consistent with our engagement, not waiting for an election to meet them, and certainly not waiting until the end of an election to acknowledge their value.

We have been doing this work from the very beginning. But I also want to acknowledge the very strong work of progressive whites who've been working to help build these opportunities as well. We are not a majority-minority country yet. And that means that this is a coalition that has to be built and sustained across racial lines, across demography, across geography, because our mission should be the protection of our democracy and the action of progress for all.

TAPPER: Just for the record, while some media organizations have called Arizona for Biden, and he does lead there by many thousand votes, CNN has not yet called Arizona.

It appears likely that both Senate races in Georgia are going to head to this January run-off and could decide control of the Senate, as you just noted. Voter turnout typically drops in run-off elections. And -- but this will also be an election without Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

Do you think Democrats have a chance to win both seats?

ABRAMS: Absolutely.

I want to push back against this anachronistic notion that we can't win in Georgia. In years past, when we have had run-off elections, whether it was the '92 election or the 2008 election, in both of those elections, we elected Democratic presidents, we elected Democratic presidents who had strong support in the U.S. Senate.

This is the first time that we will have three things happen. One, we have got Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock at the top of these tickets working together to make certain that voters come back. Number two, we will have the investment and the resources that have never followed our run-offs in Georgia for Democrats.

And, number three, this is going to be the determining factor of what do we have access to health care and access to justice in the United States. Those are two issues that will make certain that people turn out. We know this is going to be a hard fight. It's going to be a competitive fight.

But that's why we encourage people to go to to learn more about these two fantastic candidates, the two men who are going to make certain that Joe Biden has the leadership, the support and the congressional mandate that he needs to move this country forward.

TAPPER: You just heard Majority Whip Jim Clyburn earlier in the show talking about how some of the sloganeering -- his word, not mine -- by progressives reminded him of "Burn, baby burn" during the '60s, turning voters off.


He told Politico this week that, if Democrats -- quote -- "run on Medicare for all, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win the Georgia Senate races."

Does he have a point?

ABRAMS: I have watched Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock run smart, disciplined campaigns that speak to the needs and the desires of Georgia voters.

We live in a state that is being overrun by COVID, with failed leadership from our governor, failed leadership from Donald Trump. And they have a plan to make certain that we survive and recover.

I have watched the issues of access to justice burble through the state of Georgia. We watched it both with the Rayshard Brooks case and the Ahmaud Arbery case. And we know that we need leaders who believe that justice belongs to all.

These are the conversations they're having. We know that corruption, unfortunately, has been a part of the conversation, because David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler decided to profit off of COVID-19, rather than help the people of Georgia.

And that will be the message that they carry. That will be the consistent message that holds true to what they have been doing since this race began. And I have no doubt that the message in Georgia will be one that resonates and one that convinces Georgia voters that coming out on January 5 and supporting Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock is the way to move this country forward.

TAPPER: All right, former leader of the legislature Stacey Abrams, congratulations again on a hard-fought, long-fought victory.

ABRAMS: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: The more progressive side of the Democratic Party was a key part of the huge coalition that spanned from the left to even Republicans to get Mr. Biden to the White House.

Joining me now is soon-to-be-sophomore Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York.

Congratulations on being a sophomore.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Thank you so much. Good to level up.


TAPPER: Let me ask you, Congresswoman, how much does president-elect Biden owe the progressive movement and progressive leaders for his victory?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think -- I believe that President Biden, in his wonderful acceptance speech last night, he acknowledged the enormous role that communities of color, black communities, Latino communities, the trans community, et cetera, played in his victory.

And we also know that majorities of these communities are progressive. They make up not just the progressive base, but the base of the Democratic Party.

And so I believe that, when we gin up the grassroots, and we celebrate them to the election, we should also celebrate them in our governance. So, I think a fair amount for us.

I think we owe everyday communities, I think we owe the poor, middle- class, working-class, black communities, communities of color, immigrant communities a great deal in seeing them and honoring them in our legislation.

TAPPER: If you could take off your congresswoman hat for just one second, I want to ask you, on a personal note, what does it mean to you, as a woman of color, to see a black woman as vice president-elect of the United States?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, it's really incredible.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: It's -- for so many of us, especially women, we have grown up -- and I know, my entire childhood, we grew up being told that women are too emotional and that this country would never elect first a black president -- and, luckily, that happened with the election of Barack Obama -- but now a woman of color, and no less a black woman, to the second highest seat in the land.

I mean, it's really remarkable. And you can't be what you can't see. That's very often said. And it's so amazing that so many little girls are growing up with this being a norm for them.

TAPPER: Biden is planning a wave of executive orders to roll back some of Trump's policies once he takes office, on everything from climate to the so-called Muslim ban.

As of now, however, it looks as though Republicans, at least until January, will hold control of the Senate. That's going to complicate your desire and the desire of other progressives for bold, sweeping, progressive legislation.

I mean, theoretically, you can pass anything you want in the House, but it doesn't matter if it goes to die in the Senate. How are you going to negotiate that? Are you going to work with more moderate Senate Republicans to try to pass something in the House that can get through the Senate?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I'm going to be spending my next couple of months doing everything that I can to extend help and offer support to the work of fantastic leaders that we just heard from like Stacey Abrams to make sure that we don't have a Republican Senate majority, that we win these races in Georgia, that we secure a Democratic Senate majority, so that we don't have to negotiate in that way.

And, so these Senate run-off races, they're on January 5, I believe. And it's -- that is right around the time that we will be preparing to swear in now president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.


And I think it's really important that we all work very hard to give them a Democratic Senate as well.

TAPPER: All right. After the election results come back from Georgia, I'm going to ask you that question again, OK?

But I will let...


OCASIO-CORTEZ: You got it.

TAPPER: I will let you punt that one now.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she thinks Biden has a tremendous mandate. But Democrats in Congress are potentially looking at a smaller House majority and, theoretically, a Republican Senate.

I want to play something that Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said on a conference call of House Democrats this week that you, I'm sure, heard what -- as it happened live.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): We need to not ever use the word socialist or socialism ever again, because while people think it doesn't matter, it does matter.

And we lost good members because of that. If we are classifying Tuesday as a success from a congressional standpoint, we will get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) torn apart in 2022.

And excuse the profanity. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That's the reality.


TAPPER: I imagine you disagree with that assessment.

Why is she wrong?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, first and foremost, I want to acknowledge that so many of -- I acknowledge, first of all, just the really hard fight that a lot of our swing district members had.

And it is not to deny that Republicans levied very effective rhetorical attacks against our party. That, I believe, is absolutely true.

But I think one of the things that's very important is that -- is to realize that very effective Republican attacks are going to happen every cycle. And so the question is, how do we defend ourselves against that?

If you look at some of these -- some of the arguments that are being advanced, the defund the police hurt or that arguments about socialism hurt, not a single -- not a single member of Congress that I'm aware of campaigned on socialism or defunding the police in this general election.

And these were largely slogans or where they were -- they were demands from activist groups that we saw in the largest uprising in American history around police brutality.

And so the question that we have is, how can we build in -- a more effective Democratic operation that is stronger and more resilient to Republican attacks? And I believe that there are many areas that we can point at in centralized Democratic operations that are extraordinarily weak.

For example, our digital campaigning is very weak. And this is an area where Republicans are actually quite strong. President Trump, he won the 2016 election, as we know, largely on digital organizing and strategy. And I believe that many Republicans were very effective at digital organizing and strategy as well, whereas the Democratic Party is still campaigning largely as though it's 2005.

And I know a lot of us don't want to hear this, but 2005 was 15 years ago. So we can do better. And then, when we really dig down and refine our operations, we can be more resilient to these strong Republican attacks. TAPPER: You told "The New York Times" that you almost didn't even run

for reelection, in part because of the -- of treatment from your own party.

You said -- quote -- "It's the incoming. It's the stress. It's the violence. It's the lack of support from your own party. It's your own party thinking you're the enemy" -- unquote.

Do you really think other Democrats see you as the enemy? Do you think Joe Biden sees you that way?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I don't believe Joe Biden -- I don't believe President Biden sees me that way. And I believe that that's actually one of the reasons why he won election

It -- there's a marked difference between 2020 and 2016 in how the Democratic Party was able to unify, to Joe Biden's credit, before the election and get everyone on the same page to make sure that we vote Donald Trump out of office.

That being said, there are, at least in the House caucus, very deep divisions within the party. And I believe that we need to really come together and not allow Republican narratives to tear us apart.

As you mentioned, we have a -- we have a slimmer Democratic majority. It's going to be more important than ever for us to work together, and not fight each other.

And so, when we kind of come out swinging not 48 hours after Tuesday, when we don't even have solid data yet, pointing fingers and telling each other what to do, it deepens the division in the party. And it's irresponsible, it's irresponsible to pour gasoline on these already very delicate tensions in the party.

So, we can help. It's not saying that every member can -- has to campaign as a progressive in a traditional progressive way. But it's to say that we have assets to offer the party that the party has not yet fully leaned into or exploited.

And I believe that we can take some of these seats. I think Katie Porter is an amazing example, Michael Levin. There are swing seats. Every single swing seat member that co-sponsored Medicare for all won their reelection.


TAPPER: Right.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And so the conversation is a little bit deeper than that, than just saying anything progressive is toxic and a losing message.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thanks so much again for coming on the show.

Congratulations on Joe Biden, Kamala Harris' victory. And, I should note, congratulations on your own. You were reelected.

So, thanks so much for being here.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you. Thank you so much.

TAPPER: My next guest was one of the first prominent Republicans to congratulate president-elect Biden, but is already offering him some advice.

Joining me now, the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan.

Governor Hogan, thanks so much for joining us.

You were one of, if not the first elected Republican official to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the president-elect. There has been radio silence from most Republicans in Washington. Is it time for your party to acknowledge that this is over?

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, look, Jake, the way our -- the way our system works is, we all cast the votes, we count the votes, and then we live with the results.

And there's an awful lot of -- I understand the frustrations and concern. And, look, if there are real -- if there is evidence of widespread voter fraud, then we ought to come out with it.

TAPPER: Have you seen any evidence?

HOGAN: I'm sure there are a few irregularities.

I haven't seen any evidence.


HOGAN: And I don't -- look, we're -- a couple of Republican governors are the ones responsible for a couple of the states that are still in question. They haven't questioned the results.

We want to make sure every single vote is counted fairly. And I think there are legal processes, if you think there are mistakes. But I don't think we're going to see anything that's going to overturn this election. And I haven't seen any evidence of widespread -- this is the way our system works, whether you like it or not.

It's time to get behind the winner of the race.

TAPPER: So, should President Trump concede the election?

HOGAN: I think he ought to at least -- he ought to at least acknowledge that he will, even if it may take a few more days for cooler heads to prevail and to convince him that it's the right thing to do for the nation.

We do have still, I think, three states outstanding. And, hopefully, that's going to happen any day now. And -- but at some point, I think, very soon, the narrative may change. More and more people in my party are accepting the results.

And a number of people also did congratulate the president-elect. And, hopefully, the president's team will do the right thing in the end.

TAPPER: It's a vast minority of official Republicans who have congratulated president-elect Biden. It's like you, Mitt Romney, the newly elected governor of Utah. I mean, it's -- we haven't heard from Mitch McConnell. We haven't heard from Kevin McCarthy.

I mean, it's...

HOGAN: Right.

TAPPER: I have to say, just an American...

HOGAN: Well, Charlie Baker and Phil Scott, and -- yes.



TAPPER: But, I mean, as an American citizen, it's really disappointing.

It's -- you're -- you're -- not you, but your party's leaders are acting like babies. You lost the election. Congratulate the president- elect.

HOGAN: Well, look, I think -- I have always felt that our American democracy was more important than any one person or any one election, and that while I understand the disappointment and frustration from a lot of people that didn't get the outcome they were hoping for, we do have to -- the most important thing is that we respect our democratic process.

And we always have had for 200 years a peaceful transition of power. And, hopefully, we're going to get there, Jake.

TAPPER: After President Trump repeatedly lied about the election from the White House, you tweeted -- quote -- "There is no defense for the president's comments tonight undermining our democratic process" -- unquote.

And, again, you don't have to answer for the bad actors in your party. You have always stood up for -- as a conservative who stands up for facts and decency and American institutions.

But there are so many leaders of the Republican Party, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, not only not congratulating Joe Biden, but defending these ludicrous allegations that the president is making, that he won the election, that it was all fraud.

Are you disappointed?

HOGAN: Well, I think history will judge who's on the right side of that argument. I wasn't a supporter of Joe Biden's, but I am a supporter of the

democratic process and the way we have always conducted our elections.

And so I think some of them are making a mistake. Hopefully, that will change in the next couple of days, as we get the last three states in. I think Vice President Biden's lead could actually increase from where it is today. And I'm hoping that cooler heads will prevail, because our system is much too important.

But, look, I will tell you this. It was a really big night for Republicans across the country. We -- you were talking earlier. We gained -- we held on to the Senate. We gained seats in the House. We gained governor's seats. We gained state legislative bodies. We gained state legislative seats.


Republicans all across the country were running ahead of the president. And I don't think it was a mandate for moving to the far left. I think it was a mandate for moderation and for working together, because people are just frustrated with the divisive and angry politics.

And, at some point, we have got to try to work on lowering the temperature and working together on bipartisan, commonsense solutions to the serious problems facing the country.

TAPPER: All right, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, just a very quick question.

Yes or no, are you thinking about possibly running for president in 2024?

HOGAN: I think we have got a long time before we start talking about that, Jake.

TAPPER: Oh. Are you thinking about it? Is it something you're thinking about?

HOGAN: A lot of people are encouraging me to think about it.

But I'm in the middle of a state of emergency, focused on the virus, the pandemic, and our economic recovery.


HOGAN: And we have a long time to talk about this over the next four years.

TAPPER: All right.

HOGAN: Let's get beyond the 2020 race first.


TAPPER: All right. Thank you, Governor Hogan. Appreciate it.

HOGAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: For anyone who's been paying attention for the last five years, President Trump's refusal to acknowledge that he lost the election and his refusal to concede graciously was completely expected.

That so many Republican officials to this day have yet to acknowledge president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris is also, frankly, not a surprise.

Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have even issued statements congratulating Biden and Harris, much less reached out to them to offer to work together for the benefit of the American people -- again, not a shock.

With very few notable exceptions, including Governor Hogan and Senator Romney, with whom we spoke earlier, Republican officials have been complicit in the indecent behavior the president has subjected the nation to for the last five years, the lies, the cruelty, the inadequate handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has cost more than 237,000 lives in the United States, a number that continues to grow.

They no longer have to behave this way, Republican leaders, but, right now, many of them are either, A, going along with this fiction that there's any credible evidence of election fraud, or, B, they're issuing mealymouthed statements about how the president has every right to seek his day in court for any legitimate claim, even though they know there are no legitimate claims.

So, why? After all, President Trump will be shown the door on January 20, whether he concedes or not.

Well, it's because he's not leaving American political life. As long as there is a Twitter and a right-wing media ecosystem, Donald Trump will have a voice. And as long as he has a voice, he will have influence with his tens of millions of supporters.

And, as long as he has influence with those supporters, Republicans who want to gain or to keep power will refuse to cross him.

In his address to the nation last night, president-elect Biden did something I have never heard a president-elect do. He presented as his mandate the notion of compromise, the desire to work with Republicans, the desire to heal divisions.

This quality is actually one of the things about him that many progressives disdain. They think he's naive. Is he? Are Republicans going to accept his offer in good faith? Will they join Democrats, roll up their sleeves, and do everything they can to help this nation in pain?

I don't know. The 70 million Trump voters, well, they need leadership, frankly. They

need to have their concerns addressed and fought for. But, right now, the majority of Republicans in Washington, they're not on planet Earth. They're with these guys.

Do you know what this is? This is a press conference held by Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the president's legal team yesterday, making wild, completely unsubstantiated allegations about voter fraud.

Now, originally, the president billed this press conference as taking place at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Philadelphia.

But it actually ended up being held in the back of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, no relation to the hotel, very far from the center of Philadelphia, next to Fantasy Island Adult Books, across from the Delaware Valley Cremation Center, in an industrial part of town, north of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, an obvious screw-up in booking.

But they all played along, pretended that that was the master plan the whole time.

That's what Republican lawmakers want to stick with? Good luck with that.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. The news continues right now.