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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Doug Jones Victory Speech. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired December 12, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[23:00:00] DOUG JONES, (D) ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Giles has had his own issues to deal with over the summer, but this campaign and what he has done is whenever the history is written about Alabama politics, remember those names, Giles Perkins, Doug Turner and Joe Trippi.
There are so many -- there are too many people here. I want to just say this, folks, we have come so far. We have come so far and the people of Alabama have spoken. They have said we -
-- they have said to each other that this, I have said from the very beginning this campaign has never been about me, it's never been about Roy Moore. It has been about every one of you, every one of you and your sons and daughters. It's all of those volunteers that knocked on 300,000 doors. It's the volunteers who made 1.2 million phone calls around this state.
It's those volunteers to make sure that we knew, it was every community. You know, I keep hearing about the different communities in this state. The African-American community, thank you.
My friends -- my friends in the Latino community, thank you. To all my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah. We have built this everywhere we have gone. We have had that same energy. We've had that same excitement. At the end of the day, this -- this entire race has been about dignity and respect. (CHEERS)
This campaign -- this campaign has been about the rule of law. This cam -- this campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life. And let me just say this, folks, to all of those -- all of my future colleagues in Washington, to all -- I had such wonderful help. But I want to make sure, in all seriousness, there are important issues facing this country, there are important issues of health care and jobs and the economy. And I want to -- I would like, as everyone in the entire probably free world knows right now, we've tried to make sure that this campaign was about finding common ground and reaching across and actually getting things done for the people.
So, I have a challenge, I have this challenge to my future colleagues in Washington. Don't wait on me. Take this election from the great state of Alabama.
Let me finish. Take this election -- take this election where the people of Alabama said we want to get something done, we want you to find common ground, we want you to talk. Take this opportunity in light of this election and go ahead and fund that chip program before I get up there.
Put it aside and let's do it for those million kids and 150,000 here in Birmingham, Alabama. I'm not going to talk too much longer. It's been a long night. It's been a long campaign, but let me -- no, let me -- let me just say -- let me -- I know I've forgotten so much. I've forgotten so much, so many thank you and how we feel. This vote -- this vote, I've said it before, Alabama has been at a cross roads. We have been at cross roads in the past. And unfortunately we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.
[23:05:11] That is exactly -- USA.
AUDIENCE: (CHANTING) "USA."
JONES: On a very personal level, let me tell you, and I said this at the top and I do mean this, it seems -- I want to thank each of you for helping me fulfill a lifelong dream of serving in the United States senate that started out with my mentor, Howell Heflin and ever since then, that has been my dream. Thank you for that. So as we approach this history, as we approach this cross roads, we have work to do. We have work to do in this state. To build those bridges within this state. To reach across with those that didn't vote for us to try to find that common ground. I'm pledging to do that tonight, but I will tell you, tonight is a night for rejoicing, because as Dr. King said, as Dr. King liked to quote, "the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Tonight, tonight, ladies and gentlemen, tonight, tonight in this time, in this place, you helped bend that moral arc a little closer to that justice and you did it, not only was it bent more, not only was its aim truer, but you sent it right through the heart of the great state of Alabama in doing so. Thank you, all. I love you. Thank you. Thank you. And god bless you and god bless the great state of Alabama and the United States of America. Thank you, all. Thank you. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, WOLF AND THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN: A powerful, very powerful victory speech by Doug Jones, the winner, the Democrat. We're anticipating that the loser, Roy Moore, will be speaking shortly. Jake, it's a big moment for the Democrats in Alabama.
JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: It's remarkable. I mean, first of all, we should note that while Doug Jones is not as progressive as some on the left of his Party would want him to be, he is a very liberal Democrat and for him to win this said really says something not only about the great race he ran, him and Joe Trippi, but also how horrible a candidate Roy Moore was. When I mentioned earlier that the last time a Democrat was elected to the senate to represent Alabama two years later he became a Republican that is because he was a very conservative Democrat to begin with. Richard Shelby. Doug Jones is not a conservative Democrat. He is a liberal Democrat. He is got three years left to fill out the remainder of this term.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, he fills out Jeff Sessions' term which ends in 2020.
TAPPER: He is got three years then he is going to probably have a tough election then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
The big question for him is what path is he going to pursue, is he going to try to become more of a moderate or conservative Democrat? Let's go to Jeff Zeleny right now who's at the White House with new information about how President Trump is taking all the news. Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, good evening. First and foremost, I can tell you the silence here at the White House is deafening. This is something the President tweets so often as we know, they talk about so many things. Not tonight. There's not been any official word from the President or his team as they've been watching these. We have been talking to several Republicans close to the White House. I was talking to one just a short time ago. He described this as a wake-up call to the President. Specifically talking about Steve Bannon. They believe that the President followed Steve Bannon, his chief strategist's, lead on this and decided to gradually increase his support for Roy Moore over the last three weeks or so.
The President was advised by so many Republicans in this town, on Capitol Hill, at the RNC, to stay out of it. He followed Steve Bannon's lead and got into it. Several other Republicans are also speaking out against this. One Republican source close to the White House is telling our Jim Acosta, describing this as an earthquake that is devastating for the President. And Jake, the reality here is this. The President, you know, became deeply engaged in this. Thinking he knew Alabama. He would tell people privately, I'm told, that I won Alabama, he had the early campaign rallies there. He thought that his campaign in Alabama would be similar. Of course, entirely different here. And what this has also awaken is a conversation of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct that the President is also in the middle of. We don't know if the White House will have a comment on this officially this evening, like every official had not responded. Sure Jake.
[23:10:02] TAPPER: Jeff, let me interrupt. I am sorry. The day we get news these days, President Trump has tweeted. So let me just read it.
TAPPER: "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard-fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!" and he is not wrong in the write-in votes playing a big role. There were more than 22,000 write-in votes. Those are presumably a lot of them people that normally would vote Republican, but could not bring themselves to do that. More than the margin of victory, I believe. The final victory for Doug Jones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think we have the final number.
TAPPER: We don't have the final number yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's possible.
TAPPER: We know Richard Shelby came on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday and basically told Republicans to write in a candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flatly, he flatly said it to you.
TAPPER: Yeah, because that is what he did, he could not bring himself to vote for Roy Moore because of the charges against him or against -- or for Doug Jones because Doug Jones is a Democrat. Sorry to interrupt, Jeff, go ahead.
ZELENY: Interesting, Jake, we presume the President is tweeting that from the residence of the White House here and goes to show how he is operating in sort of a different vacuum, if you will. Officials just a short -- a few moments before I went on the air said they did not expect him to say anything this evening here. So this is a shellshock. No question about it. The President clearly trying to move on. Also trying to distance himself from a Roy Moore and, you know, the question here, though, Jake, I think going forward, as we go into 2018, will the President change his behavior and listen to other advisers like Ivanka Trump, for example? His daughter had some of the sharpest words of this about Roy Moore at the very beginning. Will this cause any change of heart? And I think the person to watch here is what does the relationship do between the President and Steve Bannon? I am told that Bannon assured President Trump that Moore would win. That obviously did not happen, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. Joining me right now is former NBA star Charles Barkley, supporter of Doug Jones. I first met him at a Wendy's on City Line Avenue outside Philadelphia in 1985. Mr. Barkley, good to see you as always. You said -- you expressed concern that the people of Alabama, if they didn't go for Doug Jones, might embarrass you, might look like idiots. How do the people of Alabama look tonight?
CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, number one, thank you for having me. This is a great night for Alabama. You know, we've been stuck in a time warp for a long time. This is just a great night for Alabama and for Doug Jones. I just want to thank everybody who worked on Doug's campaign. Everybody who came out to vote today, but it's just really a referendum on Alabama. We really needed this.
TAPPER: What is it about Alabama that really needed this? Was it just the embarrassment, potentially, of having Roy Moore as a Senator? Or was it the idea of having a more progressive candidate, a more progressive Senator, representing the state?
BARKLEY: Well, first of all, Roy Moore was an embarrassment. Hey, listen, if any other man had eight women accusing him of sexual harassment, talking about how he really enjoyed slavery, he thinks people who are homosexuals should go to jail, they wouldn't have even been in this election. This was more of a referendum on the state of Alabama and I'm just so proud -- I'm just so proud of my state. I love my state. We got some amazing people here. Yeah, we got a bunch of rednecks and a bunch of ignorant people, but we got some amazing people here and they rose up today.
TAPPER: You know, you are one of many prominent African-Americans from Alabama who don't currently live in Alabama who came and campaigned over the weekend. There was some question over whether that would backfire. Obviously, it did not. The African-American vote really turned out in very strong numbers. You must be feeling pretty good about the effort that you made this weekend.
BARKLEY: Well, number one, it wasn't just about me. It was about everybody down here. Let me tell you something, I've been in Alabama for the weekend campaigning with Doug Jones. All Roy Moore commercials was he is against abortion, he is against gay marriage, and he talks about god. Those are not three good enough reasons to be in the senate. We got a lot of more important stuff, health care, we got to improve our public school system. We got to improve our roads. I'm just so proud of my state. They rose up today.
TAPPER: Last question for you, Charles, what's your message for President Trump tonight? As an Alabamian, as somebody who helped deliver the state to Doug Jones. What do you want President Trump to take away from this evening?
[23:15:10] BARKLEY: Well, this is a wake-up call for Democrats. Democrats, I told Mr. Jones this, and I love Doug, they've taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It's time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor. They've always had our votes and they have abused our votes and this is a wake-up call. We got to -- in a great position now. This is a wake-up call for Democrat to do better for black people and poor white people.
TAPPER: All right, Charles Barkley. Formerly of the Phoenix Suns and of course a Philadelphia 76ers. Thank you so much. It's always a pleasure to talk to you. A strong message there for the Democratic Party from Charles Barkley. I want to go to Kaitlan Collins now who is at Moore headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. What is the mood there? How are they reacting? What do they think went wrong other than, of course, the obvious?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, as you can guess, the mood is downright gloomy here, because just half an hour ago, they were expecting to win and Roy Moore's chief political strategist looked at me and mouthed, we're going to win. So quite a change in tune here in this room. We did hear from the Moore campaign chief of staff, Eric Hobson. He got on stage just a short while ago and acknowledged that some people like CNN were calling the race for Doug Jones, but said they weren't ready to concede the race yet. Now calls and text messages to campaign officials have gone unreturned over whether Roy Moore has called Doug Jones yet to concede this race. We did have someone get on stage and tell us we're likely to hear from Jones any minute now. Now, we did hear from a campaign official hours ago when they were still expecting a victory tonight saying that he only wrote one speech tonight and he was only going to deliver one speech and one speech only. But Jake, as you can guess, that speech is going to certainly have some different lines than the Moore campaign was hoping for tonight.
TAPPER: One can only wonder what he is going to say. Kaitlan Collins at Moore campaign headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. Thank you so much. Wolf Blitzer, back to. You.
BLITZER: Yeah, looks like Doug Jones will be sworn in in early January as the next United States Senator from Alabama. Once again, we're standing by, we're standing by to hear from the loser, Roy Moore. He is getting ready to speak. Lots more of our special coverage on this historic night when we come back.
[23:21:13] ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: And welcome back. An extraordinary night in American politics, in Alabama politics. You're looking live at the Roy Moore campaign headquarters where we are anticipating Roy Moore to come out at any moment, really, and make a speech. Perhaps very different than the speech he anticipated making. We're obviously going to bring that to. You live. Charles Barkley was just on the air before. He campaigned for Doug Jones. I want to bring in Bakari Sellers. I'm wondering what you made of what Charles Barkley said about Democratic Party taking African-Americans, taking poor people for granted.
BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: No, first of all, Charles is a friend of mine, and we've become very close over the last year, just at 8:40, while we were sitting on set, Charles sent me a text and said, we got a chance, my friend, even when Doug Jones was still down in the polls. What Charles said was he hit the nail on the head. He spoke the gospel. If I could have said, amen, any louder, it would be heard on TV, I wish it would have. You know, for a very long period of time, you know, we just expected Democratic voters to show up and black Democratic voters to show up, specifically. And what we saw were black women just coming out in droves, coming out in droves. African-American women. 96 percent of them voted for Hillary Clinton. I mean, they carried the day. But we weren't seeing a Democratic Party concerned about mobilizing that base day in and day out.
It seemed as if Democratic candidates only wanted to parachute in on Election Day. You know, I think it was Lea Daughtry who said it best, she was talking about I don't mind being asked to the prom, but give me more than an hour -- being asked to the dance, give me more than an hour to get dress. It seemed as if the Democratic Party was hustling at the last minute, because they took our votes for granted, they just expected us to be there. What this race showed us, one, you have to have a connection with African-American voters.
COOPER: You're saying Doug Jones had that connection.
SELLERS: Doug Jones had that connection. Charles Barkley outlined something Democrats need to hear and pay attention to. It's a debate that we're having. You have, you know, the Bernie Sanders, the Elizabeth Warrens, Joe Biden who are focusing specifically on the Trump-Obama voters and white working class voters, saying bring them back into the fold. There's a group of us who think we need to make sure that we're speaking to the base and giving them a reason to come out, because the country's getting browner and the way to electoral victories is through that.
Charles Barkley hit that nail on the head. I think we can do all of those things. We have to stop taking black voters specifically for granted. Doug Jones did an amazing job of simply carrying and fertilizing and watering the soil over a period of time and today he saw the benefit.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: On that point, one thing that I thought Mr. Barkley was really nice in the interview, Jake asked him to send a message to Trump. He said, no, no thank you, I'm going to keep this message focused on the Democratic Party. He is not getting stuck in the Trump trap. Doug Jones didn't get caught up in this Trump trap. They kept their noses down. And they kept on message. I think that was very smart and very effective and, man, I think there might be a Senator Barkley in the future at some point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No doubt.
SELLERS: He is expressed an interest in running in Alabama before.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One of the things I think to Amanda's point that the Democrats have got to get is that we cannot just be anti-Trump. That is a piece of things, but you have to play two parts offense to one part defense.
GRANHOLM: So Doug Jones in his speech tonight, he talked about the state children's health insurance program. Do people care about that? You bet they do. He talked about how important is to have common ground and get things done for people. He didn't mention Trump. He didn't even mention Moore. He was all about Alabama and what he was going to do for them. Democrats, take heed.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I make a parochial political point? Insert my thing?
[23:25:02] In 2009, at the end of 2009, there was a runoff -- there was a special election in Massachusetts for the United States senate. And Scott Brown, a Republican, stunned the world by taking a seat that was held by Ted Kennedy, an icon of the Democratic Party, and that election was really a harbinger of what was going to happen the next fall. You know, we'll see how this unfolds over the next year, but if I were a Republican -- having been on the other side of this, sitting in the White House at that time, I'd be very nervous about this right now.
RICK SANTORUM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: The Republicans can't keep doing what they're doing. They can't keep not passing bills, they can't keep having a President who's out there uncontrollably -- you talk about Charles Barkley staying on message. I mean, we have a President who cannot -- we've got the most significant tax bill, the key to his administration, and he is off every day tweeting about 50 other things and driving the news cycle away from the important matters at hand. We have a health care bill we'd still like to pass. You have, you know, a whole variety of other things and if the President doesn't get the message that not running the -- not being President to drive his agenda with his message, with his bully pulpit, and continues to go off into, you know, "people" magazine world, then we're going to have some bad nights ahead of us.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you might. Don't forget, this is the second bad thing that happened. He had Virginia, now he is got Alabama. His good friend and political savant, Steve Bannon, has been proven wrong. I don't know who he is going to go to for advice on that. And now the question is with a different kind of equation in the senate, how is this going to affect everything else that is coming down the pike? How is it going to affect the tax bill, for example? Will Jeff Flake decide to vote for it? What will John McCain do? You know, et cetera, et cetera. Will this affect other things coming down? Will people be more willing to say to Donald Trump, you know what, sorry, you're not going to do much for me, in fact, it may benefit me to keep you at a distance? So all of this combined with what you're talking about --
AXELROD: This goes back to Bakari's point.
BORGER: Let me finish, all of it combined with what you're talking about which is the President's own self-inflicted wounds, you know, is kind of a toxic brew for him and for the Party going forward.
AXELROD: No, I was going to say, this goes back to Bakari's point, though, he is who he is. Everybody is who they are. When Scott Brown won that seat and everybody will remember this, I mean, there was crepe hanging on the White House. It was thought that the affordable care act would never pass and there was a lot of gloom there. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, who gathered everybody around and said, ok, all right, and here's how we're going to move forward. And he was calm and he was focused and everybody got up and started doing their work again because the leader sent the right signal.
AXELROD: And he also made some changes in his approach as a result of that. So, you know, that -- it is really on the President if he has the capacity to see the signal. The problem is that he tends to see these things in such a way that it's always someone else's fault and I think one of the reasons you saw the message that Steve law sent, no fan of Steve Bannon, he knows that by saying -- he dragged the President into this disaster. He is lighting a fuse. He knows he is hitting the sensitive point in the President and he is trying to turn the President against Bannon and part of the problem in the White House is, there's such a lack of cohesion that you're always fighting these civil wars.
BLITZER: One day he could be not in favor of Bannon and the next day Bannon is back in favor.
BLITZER: That happens in his own. But this gets back to what rick was saying before about the exhaustion level. I think the other lesson from tonight, we talked so much, Anderson, in our politics today about tribalism and everybody wearing their team jersey, but there's a lesson also tonight about the middle and how the middle still has its power in American elections. Independent voters, they voted in favor of Jones by nine points. He won independents by nine points. Barack Obama lost them by 52 points in 2012. There is something still about the middle, moderate Republicans, moderate Republicans, Doug Jones got 21 percent of them. Barack Obama got 1 percent of them in 2012. There is still something, to your point --
COOPER: That goes to --
BLITZER: About matching your district or matching your state. It is about appealing to the middle.
COOPER: let us listen in to Roy headquarters.
(BEGIN VIDEO LIVE FEED)
BILL ARMISTEAD, MOORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: You know, there's a law in Alabama that requires a recount if the vote is within one-half a percent. That includes all the candidates that are on the ballot and any write-ins that are qualifies to be a candidate. So at this point, we do not have a final decision on the outcome tonight. We know god is still in control and we're going to give him the credit for how this turns out, because he has been with us every step of the way and we continue to honor him in this campaign and we honor you for being here tonight and showing your support for Judge Moore.
And I have a message for the media. I've just talked to the Secretary of State, John Merrill. He invites you to come to his office tonight at 11:00 p.m. If you're up to going to visit with the Secretary of State at 11:00 p.m. so he can explain in detail the steps that are required from this point on, because you see, the vote has to be certified later this month, then after the vote is certified if it's in one-half a percent, the law requires there to be a recount. You know, the military ballots aren't even in yet. They've not been counted. So -
We thank you for your enthusiasm. We thank the team. We have a wonderful team. Part of them are standing here with me tonight. But the most important member of this team, I want to bring him on the stage right now, Judge Roy Moore.
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA: Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Crowd chanting "USA."
MOOK: Thank you. You know, I really want to thank you for coming tonight and realize when the vote is this close that it's not over. And we still got to go by the rules about this recount provision and Secretary of State has explained it to us and we're expecting that the press will go up there and talk to them to find out what the situation is. But we also know that god is always in control. You know, part of the thing -- part of the problem with this campaign is we've been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light. We've been put in a hole, if you will. It reminds me of a passage in psalms 40. I waited patiently for the Lord. He inclined to me, heard my cry, brought us out of a horrible pit out of clay and set me feet on the rock and established my goings and put a new song in our mouth. Praise to our god. Many shall see it and hear it and shall be moved by that, if you will. That is what we've got to do is wait on god and let this process play out. I know it's late. We can't wait and have everybody wait until after 11:00. But the votes are still coming in and we're looking at that. May god bless you as you go on, give you safe journey, and thank you for coming tonight. It's not over and it's going to take some time. Thank you.
(END VIDEO LIVE FEED)
JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Well, that was remarkable. The chairman of the Moore campaign suggesting that Roy Moore was not going to concede, because when races are within -- oh, he is still talking. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO LIVE FEED)
MOORE: We'll take it on tomorrow. Thank you.
(END VIDEO LIVE FEED)
TAPPER: The chairman of the Roy Moore campaign saying that when races are within a half a percentage point, there's a recount in the state of Alabama and the Secretary of State of Alabama is going to be available in 25 minutes for reporters to talk to and learn the rules. And then Roy Moore coming forward and quoting from the scripture, but not conceding the race. Dana Bash, last time I looked at the vote count, it has Doug Jones up 1.5 percent, which is, of course, more than .5 percent. So I'm not quite certain what they're talking about.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. We're not sure, either, because the law in Alabama is that there is a mandatory recount when the margin is, as you said, within half a percentage point, .5 percent.
[23:35:07] TAPPER: This is three times larger.
BASH: This is three times larger. So we're going to see what the Secretary of State says. It wouldn't be unheard of for a candidate who thought he or she was going to win to take a breath and either use this time to say that they want to look at the numbers more closely while they try to process what actually happened, which might actually be what's going on with Judge Moore. Maybe they're going to try to fight it, but it doesn't seem to me that if the numbers stay the way they are that the law in Alabama allows much wiggle room.
TAPPER: No, certainly not. And as you say, there have been times that candidates want to take a few hours, see if anything else changes, process what happened. Obviously. Kaylee Hartung from CNN is with the Secretary of State of Alabama and maybe can help clear some of this up. Kaylee go ahead. Take it away.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Jake. Secretary Merrill, Roy Moore, we just heard from him. He is on his way here. What do we need to understand about the conversation that will take place when he arrives? JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't know that Judge
Moore is coming here. I'm not expecting that. I'm expecting other people from the media to come here. I'm not very comfortable visiting with Judge Moore and anybody in his campaign tonight. The people of Alabama have spoken tonight. They've made their voice heard loud and clear. I think the most important thing to remember now is the process needs to be followed to ensure that the integrity, the safety and security of the election is preserved. That means that we need to follow the procedures that are established according to the code for the rest of the way. Which means that the election will actually be certified no earlier than the 26th of December and no later than the 3rd of January so we've got to make sure that that occurs the way the code prescribes it to occur.
HARTUNG: So at this point, do you believe there is a chance of a recount?
MERRILL: Well, there's always a chance of a recount, because any candidate can ask for a recount, and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount. Now, there's an automatic recount provision where .5 percent of the vote threshold would automatically require that to occur. If that happens, at that point, we would follow the established procedures in the code of Alabama. That would mean that a certain amount of votes between the two would have to change from what it is today in order for that to occur. One of those things that may allow that to happen is when those write-in votes are actually counted, that may change the numbers that are actually being considered today as authentic write-in votes. Because nobody can be viewed as a write-in candidate unless they're qualified to serve in the role.
HARTUNG: We have Jake Tapper on the other end here, who wants to ask you a couple of questions.
TAPPER: Secretary Merrill, thank you so much for joining us.
MERRILL: Jake, you had a busy night, haven't you, friend?
TAPPER: Not as big as you.
MERRILL: Thank you for recognizing that.
TAPPER: One of the things the campaign chairman for Judge Moore brought up was the outstanding military balance out there. How many are out there?
MERRILL: Yes, sir.
TAPPER: And what influence, what effect might those ballots have on the final vote count here?
MERRILL: Jake, they will have some effect and I can't speak to exactly how many have occurred and how many have been issued and how many have been received, but that will take place. The counting of that will take place this week. They will be properly counted next Tuesday as is required by law along with a provisional ballot that have been properly administered at each site, in each county, in the state. Of course, that could change the margin as well.
TAPPER: Right. The margin right now is somewhere around 21-22,000 votes for --
MERRILL: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TAPPER: -- Mr. Jones. You don't happen to have a number of how many military ballots remain to be counted?
MERRILL: No, sir, I don't. I would say that it would be highly unusual and highly unlikely for that number of ballots to be outstanding. I don't anticipate that occurring. However, it could be that that could decrease the actual margin --
MERRILL: -- that is available that might require an automatic recount to occur, though.
TAPPER: What about absentee ballots? Have all of the absentee ballots been counted?
MERRILL: Oh, yes, sir. All the absentee ballots have already been received and those ballots, Jake, are the first ballots that are reported each and every election cycle. They are actually due in the office on the last day before the election by 5:00 p.m. And then if they were received by mail, they had to be in by noon. They're the first ones that are open. They are vetted and then they are counted and reported as the first ones reported each and every election cycle at that central location in the county.
[23:40:07] TAPPER: There were about 22,000 write-in votes and obviously you just told Kaylee Hartung that you need to check them out and make sure they are valid. Could those write-in votes which is almost the same as the margin of victory for Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones is just over 20,000, write-in votes at 22,000, almost 23,000. Could that, could looking at those write-in votes have any impact on the final vote?
MERRILL: They might, Jake, but they might not even be impactful. That will be determined after they're fully vetted and it's determined whether or not those votes are actually valid votes for valid candidates that can serve in the position. And if they are, then it would fall within that law that was written in 2016 that requires them to be counted, to be acknowledge and be considered in the certification process which will occur on the 26th, but no later than the 3rd of January.
TAPPER: Do you expect to certify the vote? Do you essentially expect that barring some shocking development, do you expect anything other than Mr. Jones being the next Senator from the state of Alabama?
MERRILL: I would find that highly unlikely to occur, Jake. I think one of the things that our people will remember very clearly is just a very few years alleged ago, seven years ago, to be exact, our immediate past governor, Robert Bentley, secured a runoff spot in the Republican runoff by edging out his opponent by 160-odd votes. When they had a recount that was paid for by the third-place finisher, the actual total didn't change more than three or four votes when all of the ballots were run back through the machine after that was requested and paid for by the unsuccessful candidate.
One of the things that is obviously recognized by using the equipment that we use in the elections process is that there's not a whole lot of mistakes that are made. That is not a whole lot of errors that occur, because there's a proper completing of the ballot and a way to feed the ballot into the machine and then a way for the ballot to be tallied and each one of those votes to be recorded, documented and reported to the central location there in the county and then to us here in Montgomery.
TAPPER: Alabama Secretary of State Merrill, thank you so much for your time, sir, we appreciate I it.
MERRILL: Thank you, Jake, appreciate it.
TAPPER: Thank you Kaylee Hartung as well. Dana Bash, there you have it from the Secretary of State, himself. It sounds as though barring some tremendous unforeseen circumstance that he will certify Doug Jones as the next Senator from the state of Alabama. Despite what we heard from the stage at the Moore campaign earlier.
BASH: Right. But it also could take a while because as he mentioned, and we were talking about, there's a mandatory automatic recount if the percentage is less than .5 percent. However, if the Moore campaign decides that they want to have a recount regardless --
TAPPER: If they want to pay for one.
BASH: They can pay for with which can delay the process and would delay the final outcome happening. I think regardless, in terms of kind of the next few weeks in the United States senate, the Republican leadership, they were already planning on not seating anybody, Republican or Democrat, until early next year. So I don't think that there's an immediate difference when it comes to the work of the senate.
TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash. Let's go to John King and Wolf Blitzer at the magic wall.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, John, if we take a look at the numbers right now, 99 percent of the vote is in, and Doug Jones, the Democrat, the winner, he is up by, what, about 21,000 votes. But in terms of the percentage, he is got 49.9 percent, 48.4 percent, that is more than .5 percent so it's not going to be an automatic recount.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not an automatic recount at all. If you listen to the chairman of the Moore campaign, they seem to be subjecting the Secretary of State was about to offer them a lifeline, some path to recount and Jake just pressed him there with the exact right questions and the Secretary of State was quite candid saying I don't see this happening, given our state history, given our success of running elections in the past, I don't see this happening. The question is, let's respect the process. What could happen? How many military ballots are outstanding? Enough to swing 20,000 votes? That is most unlikely. How many of these would be disqualified? Have to be qualified for the job. You have to be qualified to be a Senator from the state of Alabama. So you need to live in Alabama, meet the eligibility age for the senate. Some of these could be thrown out if people wrote in a protest candidate, wrote in Wolf Blitzer, and wrote in John king, we don't live in Alabama. We can't be that candidate. Again, just do -- just have some common sense and do the math. Secretary of State very proud about the integrity of his system right there. What does that tell you? It tells you, yes, there are going to be lawyers involved, yes, the campaigns are going to go.
To Dana's point earlier, does Roy Moore just sleep on this overnight, wake up in the morning, take another look at the math, realize the improbability and change his tune or wait this out until the end of the month, potentially early into the new year before it is certified? That is the big question, but you've been through as many of these as we've been through, look at the margin, yes, it is close, but recounts very, very rarely swing anything near what would be necessary.
[23:45:23] BLITZER: Yes and the Alabama secretary of state John Merrill said if it's more than .5 percent, whoever wants the recount, they have to pay for it. That is not cheap to have another recount.
KING: It is not and we know from looking at just at the TV ad spending that Jake went through earlier, the Moore campaign had a disadvantage here. Now, would they be able to get enough money to pay for a recount if that is what they wanted? We'll see whether we go right there. I think the cooler heads prevailing here, even the President of the United States, Roy Moore was his candidate, and he congratulated Doug Jones tonight. Republican Senators are saying they expect Doug Jones to be joining them. This is a decision that will be made in Alabama. If you listen to what the Secretary of State just said explaining, yes, we'll count the military ballots as soon as we can, yes, check the validity of the write-ins as soon as we can. Nobody finds a few votes outstanding somewhere. If you look, we're at 100 percent now in most of the places where there are a lot of votes. We'll go through the process, running a campaigns are hard. Clearly some sore feelings in the Moore campaign. Again, yes, this is a close election, but when you look at that, are there recounts that overturn something like that? Doesn't happen.
BLITZER: Last time there was a recount, they only changed a few. A handful of votes. No many at all. A historic Democratic victory in deep red Alabama. So what does it mean going forward? Our special coverage of this dramatic election night continues right after a break.
[23:50:49] COOPER: And welcome back to an extraordinary night in politics. United States some columnist left to the panel, Gloria, some final thoughts from you? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the Republicans are
going to be doing a lot of soul-searching. I am not sure the President will be but the Republicans will be. Democrats are going to be doing a lot of candidate recruiting and we just don't know the impact this will have on legislation and the agenda going through.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think in the history of this administration, in this epic in our history this is going to go down as a really significant night. We're going to look back on this and say that was a very significant night. And I'm wondering if that Jewish lawyer handles longshot recounting.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Yes and what does Trump do? And whether or not he changes, he is 71, he hasn't changed so far. What does he tweet tomorrow, what does he tweet in the successive days? We'll see what happens with him.
DAVID CHALIAN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CNN: Every big vote Mitch McConnell did scramble to get his votes. That is a big deal in the short term legislatively. In the 2018 it's become a bigger problem from Republicans tonight, because Democrats got one seat closer. They only need two now to get a majority. They don't have to worry about defending Roy Moore tonight.
COOPER: Bakari, what's the message for the Democrats?
BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well I think the message for the Democratic Party its two fold. One, contrary to in 2009 when we had a new United States Senator taking Massachusetts over policy debates, what we're having now in this country is a cultural debate. And I think there are many people in this country that reject the xenophobia, the bigotry and all of those things. That was represented by Roy Moore. And Roy Moore was just a horrible candidate, but for the Democratic Party specifically I think the shot out tonight, I haven't seen a candidate do that before with Doug Jones said thank you Hispanic voters, thank you African-American voters, and African-American women specifically.
RICK SANTORUM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I don't think it's going to be one analogous to what happened in 2010, right? This is a horrible candidate with a calamity of circumstances which put him in a position to lose a state we should never lose. So this was not a loss of policy. This was a loss on character.
COOPER: We're out of time for our panel. I want to thank you.
BLITZER: You guys are having way too much fun over there. What does this mean in the short-term for President Trump?
TAPPER: Short-term I think there's going to be a lot of questions about the political advice he is getting. Because some people convinced him that Moore was going to win and he needed to be part of this movement. And those people gave him bad advice. So I think internally at the White House there are going to be questions about that. Dana can talk more about this, but obviously the balance of power shifting in the senate from 50 to 48, 51 to 49 is very significant. It makes Susan Collins and John McCain and Jeff Flake and Bob Corker some of the most powerful people in Washington.
BASH: No question. And look, there was already a race, a scramble to get the house and senate negotiators to come up with something that could pass the house and senate on taxes to do that before the end of the year. And that is going to go into a scramble on steroids, because they need to do it before they lose a vote in early next year. I think also the thing that is worth noting and repeating, maybe the best way to describe it is something that I was told by a top Republican consultant who said, you know, if you had a game and you got the top five Republican political consultants together and you said can you find a way to lose a senate seat in Alabama, that they probably couldn't have done it. And this no fan of Steve Bannon, this person said, well, Roy Moore and Steve Bannon have figured out a way to do it. And that is something we're going to hear over and over again as we head into 2018 on the Bannon effect and how much he will have an effect as he wants to in picking off a Republican incumbent.
[23:55:03] TAPPER: And that might be the most important part of this as it relates to 2018, I see Alabama and Roy Moore basically in isolation. The map as you know better than I, Dana, is very favorable to Republicans in 2018 in terms of the senate seats that are up. And people that are in charge of keeping the senate in Republican hands, they didn't want Roy Moore. They didn't want him on TV ads in Nevada or Florida. They wanted him out of the senate and out of their campaigns. But I don't think this is harbinger of more good Democratic victories in red states. I just don't see that happening.
BASH: I think you're right. I think that is why the question is more about the impact and the strength of Steve Bannon going forward in 2018.
TAPPER: And that is a big question.
BLITZER: Going to send a message to a bunch of Republicans that President Trump doesn't have the clout that they thought he originally had. A truly extraordinary night American politics, our special coverage continues next with "CNN tonight" and Don Lemon.