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Senate Republican Candidates Pull Ahead; President Campaigning with Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates; Vice President Discusses Upcoming Midterms

Aired November 3, 2014 - 08:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Going red, the GOP pulling ahead in key states tomorrow. Are your midterm elections, and we have a CNN exclusive. Vice President Joe Biden tells you what he thinks happens tomorrow. Will his Democrats keep the Senate?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And pilot error, did one of the copilots of the doomed Virgin Galactic spaceship unlock a lever too early in the moments before the crash? We'll hear from company founder Richard Branson one on one with CNN about the disaster and the future of space travel.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Heart-racing stunt. Daredevil Nik Wallenda, king of the high wire, pulls off another death-defying feat, walking a tightrope blindfolded between Chicago skyscrapers on live TV. What drives someone like him to push the limits?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning to you. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, November 3rd, 8:00 in the East, election eve.

CAMEROTA: I've heard.

CUOMO: Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota here for you on this big day. Control of the commerce at stake. Candidates out warning and promising, surrogates out pumping, including many big shots helping others and testing their own bona fides.

CAMEROTA: And Chris, this morning, several polls show Republicans with an edge over Democrats in these final hours. Is it too other late for Sems? We've got the election covered from all angles. So let's begin with Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash live from Washington with all of the latest developments. How is it looking, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democratic sources I talked to this weekend say they see a path to keeping the Senate, but it's narrow and unlikely. It's always been a tough environment for Democrats, but now a day before the election, momentum is with the Republicans.


BASH: Political stars came out for the final Election Day push. For Republicans, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Our Republican party is at its best. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

BASH: For Democrats Hillary Clinton hit three states for female Senate candidates.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Who's going to be there for you? Who cares about you? Who works for you?

(APPLAUSE) BASH: Bill Clinton went to Iowa.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I can tell you this. You need to vote for progress, not protest. You need to think about what you want for the next six years.


BASH: Still Republican and Democratic sources say the GOP looks increasingly likely to seize the Senate majority. And Iowa, where James Taylor playing made it appear more peace rally more than pep rally, is a big reason why. Democrats are down about Iowa's crucial Senate race after a weekend poll showed Republican Joni Ernst pulling ahead.

JONI ERNST, (R) IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: It's not just our Republicans. It's independents and it's a lot of Democrats too that see the need to change direction.

BASH: Iowa is so critical to balance of power that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Democratic volunteers in a conference call that if they lose Iowa it will be very hard for Democrats to keep control of the Senate. Here's why. Republicans need to flip six Senate states to take control. West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota, which was briefly in flux, are now all almost sure to be GOP pickups.

Democrats are bracing for incumbent defeats in Arkansas and Colorado. Early Colorado voting shows Republicans eight points ahead of Democratic ballots according to the U.S. Elections Project. Democrats say losing Alaska is likely, though they have engaged in an unprecedented voter turnout operation and polling is unreliable. Democrats feel better about North Carolina and New Hampshire, but polls show both within the margin of error. And there are wildcards. The Republican incumbent in Kansas could lose to an independent who could caucus with either party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid have been far too partisan for far too long.

BASH: Louisiana and Georgia are so close they will likely go into December and January runoffs respectively. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: One senior Democratic source told me their best hope at this point may be to lose the majority but make the margins so narrow that Democrats can try to win control back in just two years and in the words of this source, make McConnell's reign as majority leader as brief as possible.

CAMEROTA: All right, Dana, thanks so much for setting all that up.

There was a rare sighting on the campaign trail this weekend. It was President Obama out stumping for Democrats, many of whom kept their distance this election cycle. So what impact will the president have? Let's go to CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, I'm making him sound like a unicorn.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You don't see them out in the wild very much. And that's pretty the case with this president, Alisyn.

And just a sign of the times for President Obama, not only is he not out with some of these Senate candidates in these key races today, he doesn't have any publicly scheduled events. He's not supposed to be out in front of the cameras today. So the president laying low one day before these midterm elections.

But as you mentioned, he was out on the campaign trail over the weekend campaigning primarily with Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Considered what he said last night at an event in Philadelphia with the Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf. When the president was complaining that Democrats don't vote in these midterm elections, he says election turnout in the United States just doesn't compare with even countries like Ukraine. Here's what the president had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Ukraine just went through an election. They had a war going on and they had about 60 percent turnout. There is no excuse for us to just give away our power. If you wonder why things don't happen, if you wonder why sometimes elected officials don't seem responsive, it's because so many of us stay at home.



ACOSTA: Now publicly they are not giving up here at the White House. I did talk to one White House official over the weekend who said that they're not making any predictions. They are waiting to see what happens on Tuesday night. One official e-mailed to me, Alisyn and Chris, a poll that was taken just two days before the presidential election in 2012 that showed the president and Mitt Romney tied. The president went on to win fairly handily. So they're saying don't write these predictions too early just yet. CUOMO: That was different though, Jim, as we both know. They can say

it, but it was different. Thank you for the reporting my friend.

One man with a very big interest in how midterms shake out is Vice President Joe Biden because he could wind up being the tiebreaking vote in the Senate if the chamber ends up split. So does he think that could happen? And would he want it to? That's a lot of power being the tiebreaker, especially with 2016 looming. He's got a lot of questions to answer. And CNN's chief political analyst Gloria asked him those questions exclusively. Borger, you're no joke. He knew what he was getting into when he sat across from you. Was he ready?


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He was ready. He was pretty careful, though. We spent the day yesterday with the vice president in Florida. But he was out campaigning for Charlie Crist. And after a get out and vote rally in Fort Lauderdale, we sat down to talk about this election, this one and also next one as in 2016. As for tomorrow, he says he's just not giving up on Democratic control of the Senate, no matter what the odds are.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: First of all I don't agree with odd-makers. I predict we're going to keep the Senate. I've been in 67 races all told. I don't get the feeling that odds-makers are getting it.

BORGER: What if that were to be the case?

BIDEN: I don't think it will change anything in terms of what we're about. We know what we have to get done the last two years. And quite frankly, going into 2016, the Republicans have to make a decision whether they're in control or not in control. Are they going to begin to allow things to happen or are they going to continue to be obstructionists? And I think they're going to choose to get things done.

BORGER: Would the White House have to change the way that it does business?

BIDEN: No I don't think we have to change the way we've done -- I think we have to be more direct and clear about exactly what it is we're looking to do. And, look, we're ready to compromise. I think they're going to be inclined because the message from the people, and I'm getting it all over the country, is they're tired of Washington not being able to do anything.

BORGER: So here we are out in Florida. And you were here campaigning for Charlie Chris. And the president has stayed mostly back in D.C. largely because Democrats in red states wanted him to stay in D.C. Was that the right strategy, keeping the president off the campaign trail in a large way?

BIDEN: I ran for Senate six times. And one of the things I know about Senate races off year and on years, the same with governor races, is that it's all local. It all gets down to what the specific issues in that district are or that state is. And each senator makes a judgment whether or not he thinks it's helpful or hurtful.

BORGER: Yes, but this is the president of the United States. You've got a lot of Democrats up for reelection. Normally you would have a president out there.

BIDEN: Well, you know, we have been through this a lot. There are lots of places where first and second term George Bush didn't show up, the older Bush, Reagan. Every state is different.

And, look, here's the deal. If you look at every single major issue in this campaign, the American public agrees with our position, from federal support for infrastructure to minimum wage to marriage equality. Every single poll.

BORGER: Wait a minute. But our polls show voters are angry, they're fearful, they're frustrated, not only about domestic policy like the rollout of the president's healthcare reform but also on the handling of Ebola and ISIS. So the question is how do you fix that? The public isn't with you on that.

BORGER: Two issues. The public is concerned and frightened because it's a frightening world. A lot has happened. And what happens is in every one of these crises there's all kinds of attention understandably from Twitter to major programs like yours.

But what happens is when follow-up occurs, there's not much follow up. For example, when Russians invaded across the border into Ukraine, it was my god, it's over. Why did they do it? To stop election from occurring, to keep Ukraine from moving west. But all those things happened. We put it under control. Still a problem --

BORGER: So the public shouldn't be anxious about Ebola or ISIS?

BIDEN: No. I think the public should not be as anxious as they are, but it's understandable why they are. There is no threat existential threat to the United States right now. There are fewer than five cases of Ebola in the entire United States of America. The American public is gaining confidence in the fact of the way this is being handled. But science does matter.

You look at what's happening with ISIS. ISIS is not an existential threat to something happening to the United States of America. It's a serious problem overseas. But it's confusing and frightening. And it's totally understandable. We've got to figure out, we, the president and I, have to figure out how to better communicate exactly what's being done. That's part of the problem. That's part of the dilemma.

BORGER: Let's move to 2016 and you. I need to ask you of course, where's your head now on a race?

BIDEN: It's my job. There's plenty of time to make that decision.

BORGER: There is?

BIDEN: There really is. Look, everybody talks about how everything is going to be gone by the summer. I don't see that at all. I'm confident. And if I decide, and I haven't made a --

BORGER: Where is it, 50-50, 60-40?

BIDEN: I haven't focused on -- I haven't made up my mind on what I'm going to do.

BORGER: It's not about Hillary?

BIDEN: No. It really is not. You know me too well. If I run, I'm confident I will be able to mount a campaign that can be financed and it will be credible and it will be serious.

BORGER: Would you run if she runs?

BIDEN: Absolutely. That's not the reason not to run or to run. The question is, am I convinced I am best positioned of anyone else to lead the country the next four years.

BORGER: Are you?

BIDEN: That's a decision I have to make.

BORGER: Everyone is talking about Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. Doesn't that annoy you to a degree?


BIDEN: Not at all. I know you know me well. It really doesn't bother me at all. What I am focused on for real -- even when I say it, it doesn't sound real.

BORGER: Right.

BIDEN: But I honest to god have not made up my mind. It's that basic, that simple.


CUOMO: Gloria Borger, I think he said it best in what you boxed him into there at the end, which is it doesn't sound real even when he says it. That's because it probably isn't. So the question is, what do you think this situation means to him? What is the calculation for Joe Biden?

BORGER: You know, I spoke to him al bit and we'll show a little bit of it later this afternoon on CNN. He's been in public life an awful long time, Chris. I think it has to do more with whether he would want to go through another campaign, where his family would be on it. I think he's loved being vice president of the United States, but I think he's sort of got to have a conversation with himself where, at his age, over 70, this is this something he wants to do? But unlike a lot of politicians these days, Joe Biden kind of loves

politics. You can see it in him. There's a joyfulness about him in the political arena. I think kind of -- he would -- he would miss that, right? He would miss it.

CUOMO: Yes. And there's a vitality also to him when he's on the trail which isn't true for all. The unspoken truth for politicians is they're scared most the time they're out there. He isn't. His family gets charged up as well. That's going to matter. He put his finger on something that's going to be big.

He said, the president and I have to be a better job. He listed that laundry list of items you pushed him off to. It's all about perception about whether or not there's leadership on the key issues, not the positions.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: Does he feel that is a huge problem for Democrats?

BORGER: Yes. I think -- I think, he acknowledged it to me. I think the White House acknowledges it that they do need to do a better job of communicating to the American people.

Look, after this election, there's going to be an awful lot of discussion. First of all, should the president have been on the campaign trail more rallying the Democratic base? Because they're trying to win the Democratic base without the president of the United States. So, they're going to have to have that discussion.

They're going to have to have the discussion about whether or not they had a campaign with a bunch of theme? Which I would argue they didn't, and what they can talk about? Should they have been talking about the economy, as Joe Biden was trying to talk about or did they let the message get out of control on other items? You know, lots of Republicans are running on fear.

And third, what is it that they do if they lose? The vice president, you heard him there say, we need to compromise. That's going to be their strategy. They're going to say there are things we can work with you on like tax reform, like infrastructure. Can we do that with Republicans right away to kind of get cook? Or will the Republicans not be able to get their act together on that? That's all going to play out if Republicans take control.

CUOMO: We'll have to see what happens. I'll give myself a little bit of hedge room.

But even though many of these key races are in purple or more red states, Democrats should be under the gun in them, I believe that after tomorrow, they're going to have only themselves to blame. Turnout is going to be low and it's what they're offering people to make them come out and vote. That's what the real discussion is going to be.

Gloria, thank you so much for having a focused conversation with someone who matters so much. There's more of the interview, as Gloria suggested. You want to see it. So, you'd be able to do that on "THE SITUATION ROOM" today. Gloria with Vice President Biden.


CAMEROTA: All right, Chris. Another stop story. We some have new details about what may have happened in Friday's deadly Virgin Galactic crash. Richard Branson is speaking out this morning to CNN. Hear what he has to say about the future of that program.


CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Look, the big midterm elections are tomorrow. Today is the day to care, get ready. You know what's going on across the country.

Key races are still too close to call, even though the trending, which matters as a much as the numbers in polling, does seem to now favor Republicans. So, with control of the Senate hanging in the ballots, what factors could ultimately decide who's in charge?

We're going to take you through the why with our great panelists that we have for you, Kevin Madden and Paul Begala. But before we bring them in, gentlemen, I'll give you your right titles in a second. Don't get upset.

I want to go through the polls so we know what we're dealing with here. OK?

Here are some of the key races. Iowa, right now 51/44. People had thought this would have been closer. It is and that speaks well for Republicans, especially Iowa, such a politicized state, so easy to pull, really good touchstone there.

Kansas, 45/44. You see the Republican catching up to Orman. People thought he was going to go away. The question is who would he caucus with? Now, we have this being very tight, with the margin of error.

Kentucky 50/41 for McConnell, OK? This is the way it should have been all along, many say. Why wasn't it? That debate can be had unless there's a swing to get out the vote. You're going to see grimes not come away the winner.

Georgia, this is big. Democrats were thinking this is going to be big for them. Now, we see Perdue had a major gaffe there, talking about outsourcing jobs, now making room in the polls, yes, with margin of error, but trending favors him there, and remember trending matters as much as poll.

Louisiana, all right, Landrieu, this was big. They call her magician because she gets out of tight spots. Will she time? Will she make it to a runoff?

If she does, how does she do against the people involved in the run off? Let's take a look. Do we have those numbers? Put them up. Put them up. Put them up.

What happens in the runoff? There we go. Rob Maness, he's important. He's the third party, he's the Tea Party guy. He's polling stronger than they expected. He could take her.

OK. So, that's where we are in terms of numbers. These are the key races.

Why are they this way? Let's bring in Kevin Madden and Paul Begala. There they are.

Hello, gentlemen.


CUOMO: Thank you for being with us.

Let's talk about what matters most here in terms of the horse race? That's what it is, brothers. We're down to the wire. A lot of these races could break either way. Do we have a wager on the table? The vice president says the polls are wrong, the Democrats are going to hold.

Kevin Madden, what are you willing to put on the table that your team, the Republicans, come away with the Senate?

MADDEN: Yes, I'd be willing to take money from him and Vice President Biden here. I feel we're looking at 52 seats now.

Right now, you have this coalition of Republican energy for coming off for their candidates, but also independent voters who are aligning themselves with so many Republican voters. Their votes are actually against the president. So, I think that's a really tough -- that's a really tough combination for Democrats to overcome tomorrow.

CUOMO: All right. So, Madden is known for being tight with money. So, let's say he's got enough moxie to have a Jackson on it.

Are you willing to go against it when you've run away from your president? Your get out the vote thing is usually very strong, but we're hearing it's lacking energy this time around. You're saving your ammo it seems you're saving your ammo and you plan scared, Begala. So, are you willing to bet on this?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, I don't bet money. I'll bet a six pack of Shiner beer, my favorite Texas beer.

Madden is an Irishman. He's got to have some Guinness around the house somewhere.


BEGALA: I'm half Irish. I drink half the time.

It's 8:25 in East, that means it's never too early for a beer, Kevin. I think here's what's going on -- look, first off, you have the map.

The Senate seats are in states, many of them, overwhelming, that Mitt Romney won. OK, that's a big problem. Second, it's the sixth year. Third, in six year, presidencies usually do badly. And third, the president is unpopular.

That really stacks the deck against my folks, if I was going to pick one to bet on the D side, it's Michelle Nunn in Georgia against Perdue. She is trailing in that poll. I don't say the polls don't count. I don't say the polls don't matter -- they do. They're generally very accurate. Democrats should not whistle pass the graveyard.

It means they do have to rev up their turnout machine. I don't think there's a better one than there is in Georgia. The voter registration drive they've had in Georgia has been enormously impressive.

CUOMO: All right. So, let me give you just one question to each of you before I let you go about what will determine the outcome tomorrow.

Kevin, you guys are riding the heat wave. You're riding negativity here. This isn't about putting out what we will do if we win thing.

Is that enough to motivate the people to get out of their houses -- answering the phone is one thing, being online and saying what you do is one thing. Get out, get in the car, get to where you need to be to vote. Is that enough?

MADDEN: Well, let me disagree with the premise of the question about being about hate. I think what's happened in many of these elections, the best candidates out there, take, for example, Cory Gardner out in Colorado. He's going to win in a very tight state, I believe, because he went out and proactively talked about issues that are important to voters there. He ran ads on energy, on the economy and had an overall message that, look, Republicans have an alternative to the disappointment that so many voters have with the Obama administration and so much disappointment with what's happening in Washington.

The Republicans aren't going to win because of what you said, riding some sort of anti-Obama wave. Instead they have offered actually gone out there and offered a viable alternative for the direction of the country.

CUOMO: Begala, give me a quick take. What's percentage take you hold onto the Senate?

BEGALA: I don't know. I'm not an effector, not a predictor. They don't pay me to guess races, they pay me to win them.

But I do think Kevin is glossing it over. This is all about Obama. The Republicans are running against Obama -- Ted Cruz, the real leader from beloved Texas gave an interview in the Washington Post yesterday, in today's paper, in which he says we need to investigate, quote, "the abuses of power of President Obama." This is the real Republican agenda. They'll begin with an investigation. Who know, maybe it goes through impeachment which we all lived through 20 years ago, to the disastrous effect of the Republican Party. This is their only agenda, is going after and hating on President Obama. That's not enough to build a party on.

CUOMO: OK. Save it, Kevin. We'll talk about what he said later today and obviously tomorrow and the morning after because we're not going to know everything.

MADDEN: And he's going to owe me a beer, too.

CUOMO: Six, he said. Six. He's tight as a coat of paint. Don't get him get away. He said six.

You know what I don't like? You both look better than I do this morning. What's going on?


MADDEN: Impossible.

CUOMO: All right. Get them off the screen.

Be sure to tune in for CNN tomorrow for complete coverage. It's going to be starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. You're going to want to be with us. We're going to take you through everything that matters.

CAMEROTA: They did look better than you.

CUOMO: They did.

CAMEROTA: We're moving on. Richard Branson is now speaking out to CNN about Friday's deadly Virgin Galactic crash, what he says about the future of space tourism.

Plus, look at this. This Nik Wallenda's heart stopping tight wire rope across the Chicago skyline last night. Why would someone do this? We'll talk to someone who tried his own death defying stunt and failed.