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THE SITUATION ROOM
Tight Races Leave Senate Control in Doubt; Biden's Predictions for Election Night & Beyond; North Korea Develops Dangerous New Weapon; Bin Laden Raid SEAL Faces Investigation
Aired November 3, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, election countdown -- just hours to go until the first polls open. Control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs in this crucial midterm vote and we're tracking all the key races.
Dangerous new weapon -- North Korea has a new submarine.
How long before it's armed with nuclear-tipped missiles that can threaten the United States?
And Navy SEAL investigated -- he was part of the bin Laden raid and wrote a book about it.
But if secrets were spilled, could the government soon throw the book at him?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're tracking several major stories, chief among them, the midterm elections.
We've transformed THE SITUATION ROOM into CNN's Election Center. There's a final whirl of campaigning, with the first polls opening just seven hours from now. The entire House of Representatives is up for grabs, along with three dozen governorships and a huge array of state and local posts.
But all eyes right now are on the U.S. Senate. Thirty-six seats are being contested, but just a handful will determine whether the Senate stays Democratic or if Republicans gain control.
The GOP needs to pick up six seats and the latest poll suggest that goal is certainly within reach.
Our correspondents and our analysts are standing by.
We'll go live to the key battlegrounds and we'll hear Gloria Borger's exclusive interview with the still optimistic vice president, Joe Biden.
But let's begin in Kentucky right now, where the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has a chance to become the Senate majority leader if he can hold onto his own seat.
Let's go live to our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
She's got the latest from there -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Mitch McConnell, in polls, has a comfortable lead of several points here in Kentucky, in what has been a very hard-fought battle against Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state here in Kentucky.
But the interesting political dynamics of this race include the fact that while it's difficult to be a Democrat in this cycle, it's also really tonight to be a incumbent. And Mitch McConnell is a Washington mainstay. Kentuckians first elected him to the Senate back in 1984. So he's not taking this lead for granted.
He just wrapped up his seventh and final event of the day. Grimes has nine today. Both of them going all out, Wolf, on this final day of campaigning.
BLITZER: All right, Brianna Keilar. You're going to be busy over there.
Meanwhile, the Senate race in Louisiana looks to be very close and tomorrow's vote could lead to a December run-off.
Let's go to our national campaign, Suzanne Malveaux.
She's joining us from New Orleans -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is called a jungle primary. Louisianans like to do things differently here. This means all the candidates run against each other on Tuesday night and the -- if they don't get the 50 percent plus one, then the top two will actually run against each other. That is why the incumbent, Senator Landrieu -- Mary Landrieu -- is desperately looking for that 50 plus one. She needs African-American voters to come out. She needs 30 percent of the white vote. She needs the base of the party to also come out.
We just saw over the weekend, she was campaigning with Hillary Clinton, trying to bring out those women.
But the problem she is having, she's got to distance herself from the very unpopular president here in Louisiana. His approval rating hovering in the 30s or so.
The opponent, most likely, she's going to have to beat, if it goes into a run-off, is going to be Congressman Bill Cassidy. He has been emphasizing that she votes for the policies of the president 97 percent of the time. She has been trying to distance herself, saying, look, it's -- particularly when it comes to energy policy, that she is different than this president. So very likely, Wolf, what we're going to see is a very late, late night on Election Night, early into the morning, and potentially coming back six weeks later to actually see who is going to get this in a run-off -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne in New Orleans, thank you.
One fascinating race to watch is Kansas, where veteran Republican senator, Pat Roberts, is in the fight of his life right not against a Democrat, but against an Independent. That would be Greg Orman.
CNN's Jim Sciutto is on the scene for us with more on that -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Kansas is a rare state where the Democrats can steal one from the GOP. And that's despite the fact that they don't have a Democrat in the race.
Now, for that to happen, first of all, the Independent, Greg Orman, a millionaire businessman, has to win. The latest polls put them about a percentage point apart, so razor thin, way too close to call.
Then, he has to decide to caucus with the Democrats. That's something he's been very coy about.
Orman spent the day at get out the vote rallies. Roberts spent the day at GOP rallies. He's going to spend tonight at a Kansas men's basketball game.
He got a very key endorsement over the weekend, that from the Kansas football coach, Bill Snyder, though it turns out that football coaches can't make endorsements like that. He had to apologize, but like a good football game, Wolf, this one is going to go right down to the wire.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.
Jim Sciutto, in Kansas.
Another crucial Senate race, Iowa, where the seat of retiring Democrat, Tom Harkin, is now up for grabs.
CNN's Pamela Brown is in Des Moines for us with more on this race -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this race is so crucial because whoever wins the Senate race could tip the balance of power in the Senate. It's an extremely tight race, neck and neck, and a record number of Iowans have voted early this year, more than 400,000 Iowans.
The Democrats have a slight advantage over the Republicans in early voting, but not the kind of advantage that they want heading into tomorrow. They're up 7,000 early votes. But just to put it in perspective, in 2010, they had triple the number of early votes.
So there's a last minute push today to get more people, get more outstanding ballots, get more people to vote tomorrow, as well. And look at the polls here. The polls paint two different pictures. There was a Quinnipiac poll out today showing the race in a dead heat. Compare that to one a couple of days ago from "The Des Moines Register." That shows Journey -- Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate, up by 7 points. As one political operative I spoke to here on the ground in Des Moines said, I don't think anyone knows, really, what's going to happen tomorrow. It is truly a toss-up.
Today, both candidates crisscrossing Iowa, trying to pull in those last minute votes -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens when they actually count real votes.
We'll know, obviously, who the winner is and who the loser is.
Pamela, thank you.
One of the biggest wild cards out there, Alaska, where polling is notoriously unreliable. A 20 year Marine veteran is challenging a first term Democratic senator, who spent much of this year trying to run away from President Obama.
CNN's Drew Griffin is joining us from Anchorage with more on this race -- Drew.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And so what did they do, the Dan Sullivan campaign, the Republican, to remind people that Mark Begich has voted with Barack Obama?
They brought in Mitt Romney today, Wolf, in a huge get out the vote rally here in Anchorage, in this hangar right behind me. In fact, the candidate is still milling about right behind me now.
But, you know, it was Romney who defeated Obama by a big margin here in 2012. That's why they wanted Mitt Romney to come in and finish off this Sullivan campaign.
The Sullivan think -- people, they believe they have this race. It is a turnout race. They think they've got it.
And to talk about what they believe is the most important thing is to get the Senate in control of Republicans.
And on stage today, they had the other senator from Alaska here, Wolf. That's Lisa Murkowski, whom they believe, if Republicans win, take over the Senate, will become that all-important chairman of the Energy and National Resources Committee here in Alaska.
And that comes down to just one phrase that we've heard from other elections, Wolf. That means "drill, baby, drill." And a lot of people here supporting Dan Sullivan are pushing for just that event.
But it's a turnout race. We'll see how it happens tomorrow.
BLITZER: And we'll see what happens.
That will be late into the night. Polls close in Alaska 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.
Republicans, as I pointed out, they need a net gain of six seats to take control of the U.S. Senate. But so many races are in doubt right now. Tomorrow could be a very exciting and suspenseful night.
Let's get a closer look right now.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, is with me over here at the magic wall.
You're going to be busy with this wall tomorrow night.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You bring the coffee, I'll bring the late night pizza.
Wolf, here's where we start, 55-45. As you know, it's the key battleground for control of the United States Senate. The 55 Democrats includes two Independents who work with the Democrats.
So let's look. Look, we know how most of the races are going to go. The Democrats are going to win Oregon. The Republicans are going to win Texas and so forth.
So we've left 13 races on the board that we've been watching closely since the beginning of the year.
But even most Democrats now concede we can take these three away -- Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, likely to be Republican pick- ups. That would be three of the net gain of six.
If those three play out like that, you get to 45-45.
Then, if Republicans sweep the rest, Wolf, they could get as high as 55.
Is that likely?
But is it inconceivable?
No. That's what we're waiting for. All of these races, everything left on the board, these 10 races, all in single digits in the final days. That's what makes this such an exciting and unpredictable year.
Now, can the Democrats keep the majority?
That's the big question Democrats are asking.
The vice president told Gloria -- you're going to talk about that in a moment -- he thinks, yes.
Well, how would they do it?
The easiest path, keep the blues -- Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina. I call them the blues because the president won three of them twice. He won North Carolina once. I say that's the easiest path, but it's not easy, because the polling at the moment suggests Republicans are ahead in Iowa, Republicans are ahead in Colorado.
So if they don't hold those states, Wolf, if they don't hold those, if Colorado and Iowa go, can the Democrats win the majority?
Yes. It's mathematically possible.
But look at that, it would be 47-47 if the Democrats win New Hampshire and North Carolina, by no means assured. Republicans say both New Hampshire and North Carolina have gotten that close in the last 48 hours.
But let's, for the hypothetical, say they win two but lose two. Then you're at 47-47. This is why the math favors Republicans. There are six states left. Democrats would need three. If they get to 50, Joe Biden would break the tie. Look at the state we're talking about -- Alaska, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia. President Obama lost all of them twice. They're all red states.
Is it possible?
Yes. Democrats think the possibility of a surprise here. Jim Sciutto noted the Independent might win here.
What would his calculation be?
He hasn't said who he would side with.
So you have to say going in, Republicans have the momentum. The math overwhelmingly favors the Republicans. But Democrats do -- they do have a chance, which is why we're going to be up late counting them.
BLITZER: In Kansas, he hasn't said, the Independent, Greg Orman, let's say he beats Pat Roberts and he wins that race. I assume he would go -- he would want to be a majority member of the Senate as opposed to a minority remember, right?
KING: So let -- let me play out a scenario for you. Let's assume Mitch McConnell wins. Let's assume that Dan Sullivan wins up in Alaska. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Mark Pryor somehow pulls out a win in Arkansas. That's a tough one there, but let's just see how that plays out.
Imagine if we're in this scenario and Greg Orman wins in Kansas, right?
It doesn't change the math because we don't know yet who he's going to side with.
So then you could conceivably, December runoff, January runoff, being at 48-49.
But if Republicans win one -- let's say, for example, again, it's a hypothetical, Democrat Mary Landrieu wins in Louisiana and the Republican wins in Georgia. You could flip this scenario and have -- have it the other way around.
In this scenario here, if Greg Orman decided he was with the Democrats, he'd create a be a 50-50 tie. Joe Biden would break it.
If he decided it's with the Republicans, the Republicans would organize.
So it is conceivable -- again, we'll see how they break tomorrow night. But it is conceivable he could be the most influential, for a brief period of time, the most powerful man in America --
BLITZER: And it --
KING: -- determining the balance of power in the Senate.
BLITZER: -- it's 50-50, the Democrats win, because the vice president of the United States --
BLITZER: -- is president of the Senate. He would break that 50-50 tie.
BLITZER: The Republicans really need 51.
KING: Fifty-one, which is the net gain of six. And we keep saying net because of the possibility -- you still have Georgia, Kansas and, some Democrats say Kentucky. Most Republicans think Kentucky has moved McConnell's way, but let's see. That's why we count them. They're close.
BLITZER: And that's why it will be an exciting night tomorrow night.
We'll be watching together with you, John, every step of the way.
Thanks very much.
Up next, while Republicans are energized over a chance to recapture the Senate, one top Democrat is always energized. That's the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden. He's going to tell us why he's optimistic.
And North Korea has a new submarine.
Will it soon be armed with nuclear-tipped missiles that can directly threaten the United States?
BLITZER: Only hours away from the first polls opening in this year's crucial midterm elections. With control of the Senate up for grabs, at least one high-profile Democrat predicts his party will keep control of the Senate. That would be the vice president, Joe Biden. He was on a campaign swing in Florida when our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, caught up with him for an exclusive interview. She asked the vice president what happens if he's wrong and Republicans end up controlling both houses of Congress?
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know we have to get done the last two years, and quite frankly, going into 2016 the Republican 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: Will the White House have to change the way that it does business?
BIDEN: No, I don't think we have to change. I think we have to be -- I think we have to be more direct and clear about exactly or 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: 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?
BIDEN: I ran for the Senate sex times. And one of the things I know about Senate races off years and on races, and on years, the same as governor's races, is it's all local. It all gets down to what the specific issues in that -- in that district or that state is. And each senator makes a judgment about whether or not it will be -- 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'd have a president out there.
BIDEN: Well, you know, look, we've been seeing this a lot. There are lots of places where first term, second term, George Bush didn't show up, the older Bush, Reagan. I mean, you know, every state is different. And look, here's the deal. If you look at every single major issue in this campaign, the American public agree with our position: from federal support for infrastructure to minimum wage to marriage equality, every single time.
BORGER: Well, wait a minute. But our polls show voters are angry; they're fearful. They're frustrated.
BIDEN: The public is concerned and frightened, because it's a frightening world. A lot has happened. And what happens, Gloria, is on every one of these crisis, there's all kinds of attention, understandably, from Twitter to major programs like yours.
But what happens is when a follow-up occurs, there's not much follow- up. 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 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 -- in the way this is being handled, that science does matter.
You look at what's happening with ISIS. ISIS is not an existential threat to something -- happening to someone in 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.
BIDEN (voice-over): For Biden, another part of the problem: his own verbal missteps. He offers no apologies, even for the time he publicly called out the foreign policy of an ally or two. Have you learned anything?
BIDEN: What I learned is I'm not changing my brand. And what I've said, there's nothing I've said that I haven't said that was truthful. And so sometimes, you know, everybody says they're looking for authenticity. But it's not often rewarded.
BORGER (on camera): But you have to make apologies.
BIDEN: Well, no, I haven't apologized. What I have done is -- if there's been a general -- genuine misunderstanding, let's take the comments -- I was told -- I apologized to President Erdogan. I never apologized to him. I know him well. I've dealt with him. I called him and said, "Look, what was reported was not accurate, what I said. Here's what I said."
BORGER (voice-over): And there's something else Biden is not apologizing for: his boss's management style.
(on camera): What about the rap on him as an incompetent manager?
BIDEN: Oh, I think that -- I think that rap is so unfair. I mean, look, like I said, you take a look at -- this is the guy who got great credit just a couple of years ago for wanting to know the facts. I mean, it's amazing how we shift. We had the former president, who was all about instinct. And then we said, we want a guy who really wants to know the facts and hear all the information and make an informed decision. And now it's, well, why isn't the guy moving on instinct more?
BORGER (voice-over): As for Biden's own instinct about whether to run in 2016, not so fast.
(on camera): Where's your head right 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. Everybody talks about how, you know, everything's going to be gone by the summer, and I don't see that at all. I'm confident. And if I decide, and I haven't --
BORGER: What is it, 50-50, 60-40?
BIDEN: It's -- I just haven't focused on -- I haven't made up my mind what I'm going to do.
BORGER: It's not about Hillary?
BIDEN: No. It really is not. I mean, you know me too well. I mean, 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 -- 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 (voice-over): It's something he clearly thinks about.
(on camera): You ever give the thought that this might be your last big campaign here?
BIDEN: Yes, sometimes. But, you know, it's hard to think in those terms. I've been -- since I've been a kid, I've been doing this.
BIDEN: My dad used to have an expression. He said, it's a lucky person who gets up in the morning and puts both feet on the floor and knows what he's about to do, that it still matters. I think this stuff really still matters.
BLITZER: And Gloria is with us right now. You get a sense they must be frustrated over at the White House, disappointed that the president hasn't been invited to go out there on the campaign trail with these embattled Democratic senators.
BORGER: Well, you know, Biden puts the best face on it. When I asked him about it, he said, you know, it's up to the states, all politics is local. He talked about George w. Bush not campaigning in 2006.
But I think privately when I talk to people over at the White House, I think they're asking themselves that question, about whether the president could have been out there more, getting the base together. You know, they have to run this election, gather President Obama's base without President Obama. That's not easy. Joe Biden's been out there. He's done 73 events. He's been out there more than the president.
BLITZER: Does the vice president believe it's simply a matter of communications?
BORGER: Well, he said that the White House has to learn to communicate better. And what he said was on the major issues the country cares about -- minimum wage, et cetera -- that the public is with them.
I think the question they're asking at the White House is why aren't our candidates, i.e., their Democratic candidates, campaigning on the economy? Why aren't they campaigning on those issues more, because the White House believes it has a story to tell on the economy? That's not what you're hearing in these campaigns, because candidates in red states don't want to be tied directly to President Obama, who's so unpopular.
BLITZER: As he said to you, he's certainly leaving open the possibility he will run for president of the United States, whether or not Hillary Clinton runs.
BORGER: Yes, he said that's not a factor. What's a factor is if he believes he's the best person for the job. When I asked him whether he was, he didn't answer the question.
BLITZER: He's going to have to make up his mind pretty quickly. All these other candidates are going to be doing that very quickly, as well, as soon as these elections, by the way, are over. Thanks very much, Gloria. Be back with us later. We'll have much more politics coming up.
We're also following other major stories, including new fears North Korea's unpredictable leader could order nuclear-tipped missiles onto a submarine.
Also, why one of the Navy SEALs in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden recently was questioned for ten hours in a criminal investigation.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The first polls in the midterm elections open at midnight in New Hampshire, one of the states where Republicans hope to take away a U.S. Senate seat currently held by a Democrat.
The battle for the Senate is just one of the huge election stories we're following. We've actually transformed THE SITUATION ROOM into CNN's election center. I'm joined now by our chief national correspondent John King. Also
joining us again, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our CNN political commentator, Ryan Lizza, "New Yorker" magazine's Washington correspondent.
He told you that the Democrats -- how the Democrats, Vice President Biden, will handle a Republican takeover of the Senate. Did he suggest how the Democrats, though, in general will pivot if that happens?
BORGER: It was sort of a prebuttal. You know, he didn't want to admit that they could lose control. But if they do, he said we're going to compromise. And that, of course, that's what you would expect him to say because he said, it's up to the Republicans. If the Republicans control one branch of the government, they're going to have to learn to govern. So we are ready to govern if they are ready to govern. So he kind of wants to pivot. So they're on the spot.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He becomes more relevant if the Republicans take control of the Senate, in the sense that Harry Reid has pushed Joe Biden away saying, stop coming up to try to negotiate deals. But the president has a nonexistent relationship with Mitch McConnell. Not a great relationship with John Boehner either but zero relationship, really, with Mitch McConnell. Joe Biden has a pretty good relationship with Mitch McConnell. If he's the majority leader, look for a lot of chats there.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The most important legislation that has gotten done in the last couple of years was a deal between McConnell and Biden. So they have a little bit of history of deal making.
BLITZER: And Biden spent all those years in the Senate, too.
BORGER: Right. And deals on some kind of tax reform, some kind of corporate tax reform, maybe repairing roads and bridges --
KING: They disagree on just about everything. But they don't -- if they give each other their word, they trust it.
BLITZER: Was it a mistake, John, for the -- these Democratic Senate candidates who are in trouble not to embrace the president. The president only went out and campaigned for one Democratic Senate candidate. That's Gary Peters, in Michigan, Carl Levin's seat, which is -- which is open.
KING: It will be an interesting conversation Wednesday morning and beyond. Let's see what happens. The Peters race never got really close. There's still a lot of good will for the president because of the auto bailouts in Michigan. So it was a relatively safe one.
Some of the auto bailout carries over to Wisconsin. You'll remember the gubernatorial candidate, Mary Burke, embraced the president. If she wins, if Mary Burke wins a close race against Scott Walker, and it's because of African-American turnout in Milwaukee, and then you see someone like Kay Hagan just lose in North Carolina and Michelle Nunn, you'll have to go to a runoff and not be able to win. I think that will be a morning-after calculation. I do think, even more importantly, when I was in Colorado, the Democratic congressmen up there all think Mark Udall made a mistake.
They thought that Obama should have come out to Colorado, that there's an Obama coalition there. Of course, most of them will have to run state-wide. Very unpopular. But I do think the Obama question will come back up. If you have runoffs in Louisiana and in Georgia, Republicans will be favored in both of those races. And the strategists will tell you the only way for Democrats to win is to have African-American turnout go off the charts. What's the best weapon? The president.
BORGER: Remember when we were asking whether Al Gore should have had Bill Clinton campaign for him more, and then perhaps he could have won his home state of Arkansas, et cetera, et cetera. I think it's the same discussion that's going on right now.
BLITZER: I couldn't tell you how many Democrats have said to me that they are irritated with their fellow Democrats who ran away from the president -- they thought it was unseemly that some of these Democratic Senate candidates wouldn't want the president of the United States coming to their states, going on a platform together with them and speaking about what's happened over the past six years.
LIZZA: It's not really personal. It's just a question of math. The average Senate race tomorrow in 2012 voted for Obama at 46 percent. That's the average. Right? Obama's approval rating, his average is even lower in these states.
KING: In the 30s.
LIZZA: The president himself knows and has been reported, has told some of these candidates, "Do what you need to do to get elected. If that means I don't come and campaign for you, fine."
BORGER: But they're taking his money, when he --
LIZZA: They're taking his money.
KING: To your point, I was in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, places where Alison Grimes needs a huge African-American turnout if she's going to have a chance to get Mitch McConnell.
The politicians, the African-American pastors, the African-American city councilmen and state legislators, they get it. They said they don't like it that she pushed the president away, she won't even say that she voted for him. They say they don't like it, but they get it as a strategy.
But when you walk the streets and talk to the average Joe, the guy you know who works for the government job or who's a plumber, that works at the local McDonald's, they didn't like it. And they say, why should I vote for her? But there's a lot of effort to get them to turn out --
BLITZER: Same in Georgia. Michelle Nunn, the Democratic -- she didn't want the president showing up there.
BORGER: No. And I think, again, you could have the same problem. How does a Democratic Party, by the way -- which is a question going forward -- how does the Democratic Party keep President Obama's coalition together without President Obama there at the top of the ticket or campaigning for candidates?
So far, the Democratic Party seems to be a bunch of constituencies in search of a message, which they haven't had in this campaign.
LIZZA: In 2016, Hillary Clinton, or whoever the Democratic nominee is, they're not going to be campaigning in the states that we're talking about. Arkansas could be the exception. But we're talking about a lot of red states.
BORGER: Florida, Florida, Florida, right? They're going to be campaigning there.
BLITZER: Florida and Ohio, I believe.
LIZZA: But it's a presidential year. Different coalition, right, where a lot of these -- a lot of these things don't apply.
BLITZER: Remind our viewers what happened in 2006, the sixth year of President Bush's midterm. He was not exactly welcomed on a lot of those Republican campaigns either.
KING: And he didn't go, and he got it. Look, President Obama, just like President Bush, has been around the business long enough, they understand it. Again, they may not like it, but it's their job. They raise money. They go when they're asked to go.
And the one thing you go -- you got this from President Bush. You see it even more so from President Obama. If you look at direct mail pieces, robo-calls, black radio, the president is actually more of a presence in the campaign than we see at the national level. But people are getting -- in key constituencies, they are getting phone calls from the president. They are hearing him on the radio. That's what happens.
If you want to go back to 2006, that's our big question going into tomorrow night. In 2006 and in 2010, 2006 was the huge Democratic year. We got Nancy Pelosi. 2010 was a huge Republican year. It was the Tea Party year, and John Boehner became speaker.
When you travel, you don't feel it. It feels nothing like either one of those two years. You don't feel a big Democratic year; you don't feel a big Republican year. That's the Democrats' best hope. That because there's no -- at least you can't feel a wave on the streets out there, that their hope is it's only a ripple and that you can sort of play chess and use the mechanics of elections, early voting and turnout, to overcome some of the ties.
BORGER: What you feel is the anti-incumbent wave. I mean, you know, people are angry. KING: They don't like anybody. They don't -- they don't like
anybody, so you're probably going to have low turnout, right? Now people are holding their noses voting for the least worst candidate. And if you're an incumbent, you know, the odds may be stacked against you --
LIZZA: But there's this tension here between what you're talking about, which is a lot of anger. The economy's not doing that well. People say they hate Washington. And yet it does not look like we're going to have a wave year like 2006 and 2010.
BLITZER: You don't think it would be a wave if the Republicans become the majority in the Senate?
LIZZA: No. If the Republicans win six seats, if they win West Virginia and Montana and a series of red states and maybe pick off a couple of purple seats, that's not a wave. That's the Republicans with a really good playing field, because this class that was elected this year, these 36 senators, are disproportionately in red states. Right now, this election looks like to me is red states getting a little redder, blue states getting a little bluer. And some of these purple states getting competitive.
BORGER: I think if we -- if we look at Jeanne Shaheen's race in New Hampshire, very popular Democrat, former governor. If she loses to Scott Brown, then I think something's going on. Then I think something's going on.
LIZZA: If they win those four purple states: Iowa, New Hampshire --
BORGER: Right. Exactly.
LIZZA: -- Colorado, North Carolina, then we're into wave conversation territory.
BORGER: Yes, the thing is --
KING: A boogie board not a surfboard.
BLITZER: You wrote a great article in "The New Yorker" on Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky. I assume he's going to announce sooner rather than later. For all practical purposes, he's in in the 2016 race, right?
LIZZA: It seems like it. He's one of these people, he's not that coy about it. One of his strategists told me, as long as Rand's wife doesn't put the brakes on this, Rand is running. It's been reported that Rand is having a big strategy meeting -- Rand Paul is having a big strategy meeting right after the election with all his senior advisers. I think everyone would be shocked if he doesn't run. There's really no case for him not running at this point.
BLITZER: And the incentive is to announce sooner rather than later. We're not that far away from the first Republican presidential debate. I think it's September 2015, Ronald Reagan Library. They've already -- they've already got a date. That's not that far away. KING: And look, these guys have traveled. Rand Paul has worked
probably -- Chris Christie's worked really hard to redeem himself in this midterm election. Rand Paul has probably worked the hardest among the Washington candidates. Ted Cruz has been out there. Part of the reason to go early is you've made a lot of friends. Maybe they're leaning towards you right now. If you give them a couple of months, somebody else might come and pick them off. So if you've got key activists in these states, you've made friends with on the left, the earlier you get in, the earlier you wrap them up.
BORGER: Joe Biden, however, is not in a rush.
KING: He's waiting on that woman, what's her name?
BLITZER: We'll see when they announce. I'm sure it will be sooner rather than later. Guys, thanks very much.
Just ahead, North Korea unveils a new weapon that could one day pose a very dangerous threat to the United States.
And a former U.S. Navy SEAL is being investigated after writing a book about the bin Laden raid. If secrets were spilled, could the government soon throw the book at him?
But first, this preview of one of the crucial Senate races.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER (voice-over): If Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst wins, she'll be the first woman ever to serve Iowa in Congress. Ernst was relatively unknown until she spent $9,000 to run her first TV ad about -- and get this -- castrating hogs.
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: Let's make them squeal.
BLITZER: It went viral and helped Ernst win a tough Republican primary. Now she's in a dead heat to win the general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: His hardline regime has already stunned the world with nuclear tests and long-range missile tests. Can it now combine those threats with a new one, by putting nuclear-tipped missiles on a submarine?
Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's looking into the latest reporting. What are you hearing?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not there yet, Wolf, but they certainly are trying to get there. With the progress the regime has been making on expanding other areas of its program, those efforts raise new concerns North Korea could have another means of launching a nuclear weapon.
LABOTT (voice-over): North Korea leader Kim Jong-un aboard what experts fear could become his regime's next devastating weapon. New satellite images show North Korea is developing a submarine capable of launching long-range ballistic missiles.
JOSEPH BERMUDEZ, ALLSOURCE ANALYSIS: If they can develop a submarine- launched ballistic missile and their nuclear program is able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, it would allow the North Koreans to mount a nuclear warhead on a submarine.
LABOTT: It comes on the heels of recent warnings by the top U.S. commander of forces in Korea. The North is making worrisome nuclear advances now believed capable of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile with a launcher to deliver it, though they haven't tested it.
GEN. CURTIS SCAPARROTTI, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: They've had the right connections. And so I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point. And they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have.
LABOTT: U.S. and South Korean officials first warned about North Korea's submarine missile development last summer.
North Korea is believed to have more submarines than South Korea, but most are outdated Soviet-era vessels. And experts question whether North Korea can move beyond the research and development phase.
BERMUDEZ: There are no indications that they're actually there yet. It's going to take them several years to actually implement this capability.
LABOTT: In the meantime, mixed messages from the North Koreans. Diplomats said the North has gone on the charm offensive, reaching out to other countries. But at the same time reinforcing the message that the leader is in charge with regime photos of Kim Jong-Un inspecting air force drills.
LABOTT: Now that charm offensive, an effort to blunt a scathing new U.N. report -- widespread human rights abuses and calling for the regime to be hauled before the International Criminal Court.
The Pentagon has acknowledged the North Koreans have been trying to modernize their submarines. And today the State Department said any development of North Korea's ballistic missile program is in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and that the North needs to suspend all activity that would include efforts to launch a missile from a submarine -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Very disturbing development. I know you're staying on top of the North Korea story for us. Elise, thanks very much.
Up next, why a U.S. Navy SEAL who was on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden now is answering questions in a criminal probe.
Also ahead, we have new evidence of ISIS atrocities. We're just learning of another mass execution, including women and children.
BLITZER: Former U.S. Navy SEAL was part of the bin Laden raid and later wrote a book about it is now being investigated for possibly spilling secrets about that extraordinary mission.
Brian Todd has been looking into this story for us.
What are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this man says he was in the room when Osama bin Laden was killed, but tonight he finds himself under criminal investigation. He and his lawyers say he's getting treated differently from others who were higher in the chain of command.
TODD (voice-over): He says he was right behind the Navy SEAL who took the first shot at Osama bin Laden. Now his lawyer tells us former SEAL Matt Bisonnette is the subject of a criminal investigation and was recently questioned for 10 hours.
Government officials briefed on the matter say the Pentagon and the Justice Department are looking into whether Bisonnette revealed classified information in paid public appearances he's made since publishing the bestselling book "No Easy Day" about the bin Laden raid.
In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Bisonnette who wrote the book under the pseudonym Mark Owen was asked whether he ever disclosed secret information.
MATT BISONNETTE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Did I disclose anything that would have put the guys in harm's way? That's absolutely not what I intended to do. These are my brothers that I served beside for years. And a lot of them continue to serve.
TODD: Bisonnette's lawyer says they're not aware of any specific allegations that any sensitive information was leaked in his speeches and no criminal charges have been filed. His attorney says the former SEAL doesn't mind being accountable but wonders why former CIA director Leon Panetta isn't getting that kind of scrutiny after Panetta and others encouraged cooperation with the makers of the film "Zero Dark Thirty."
We've asked Leon Panetta for comment. We have not gotten it. The government had already been trying to cease profits from Bisonnette's book because he didn't clear it through government sensors as he's required to legally. Former SEAL John McGuire says he respects Bisonette's service but doesn't believe he should have written the book.
JOHN MCGUIRE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: We don't advertise the nature of our work. You know, being a Navy SEAL, serving our country, is great, but again people want to know what we do and how we do it, but so does our enemy.
TODD: Matt Bisonnette told "60 Minutes" he tried to contact his former SEAL commander to explain why he wrote the book on the bin Laden raid. He said his commander responded with a text message saying, simply, delete me. Still others involved in the bin Laden raid have revealed details about it. An unnamed SEAL spoke to the "New Yorker," Arthur Mark Bowden got information on his book -- for his book on the raid called "The Finish" from sources involved in the raid.
And there were the details given to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty," but so far Matt Bisonnette is the only one we know of who is under investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Matt Bisonnette is about to come out with another book? Is that right?
TODD: That's right. He's -- next week, in fact. He's publishing a book called "No Hero" about his broader career as a Navy SEAL. But for that one, he did submit his manuscript for Pentagon review. So he likely will not be going through the same issues he's going through now. Probably no investigation on that one.
BLITZER: And he's saying he got bad legal advice for the first book.
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: But he's apologized.
TODD: He has apologized. And he said he got bad legal advice, was told by his former lawyer that he didn't need to get Pentagon review for that first book and he actually did need to get it.
BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd, reporting for us.
Brian, thanks very, very much. We'll stay on top of this story.
Coming up, U.S. airstrikes are not stopping the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria. So what happens when they return home as battle hardened terrorists?
And the U.S. Senate up for grabs. We're following all the key races with the first polls due to open in just a few hours.
BLITZER: Happening now. Final push. Candidates making their closing arguments just hours before the first polls open in a high stakes election. Can Democrats overcome the odds and keep control of the U.S. Senate?
ISIS massacre. Hundreds of Iraqis slaughtered by the terrorists, including women and children. How is ISIS brainwashing a new generation to carry on its bloody brutality?
No fly zone. A troubling new report on FAA flight restrictions over Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. Was it an attempt to block the news media and its coverage of the protest?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.