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Biden Holds Florida Rally, Attacks Trump COVID-19 Response; Interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Former F.D.A. Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb Predicted 100,000 Cases a Day Shortly; Federal Court Potentially Cuts Window For Mailed Ballots In Minnesota; 81+ Million Ballots Cast, More Than A Third Of Registered Voters; PA Gov. To Public: "Stay Calm" On Election Night; Supreme Court Ruling On Mail-In Ballots A Win For Dems But Court Could Revisit; U.S. Reports 83,757 New Covid Cases; Highest Single-Day Amount Since Pandemic Began. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 29, 2020 - 20:00   ET


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Texas and Democrats are saying that a Republican candidate by this point should be way ahead. Again, they say this is another sign that things are changing in the state -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Jason. And thanks to all of you for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. The country has just crossed yet another terrible threshold. According to the data team at Johns Hopkins University, today is now the worst single day for COVID cases in the country, the worst single day of the entire pandemic, and 83,757 new cases so far, and that number will not be final for hours yet, 940 lives lost so far, and it's just eight o'clock.

With that as the horrible scene setter, we begin tonight with one state, two candidates and two very different ways of campaigning in a pandemic. One about as safe as you can make it given the circumstances. The other about as reckless as you can be packing maskless people close together in a state with soaring numbers of people who are already infected.

And at one of those stops in Tampa, the President of the United States said something that we want to let you hear for yourselves because it is so shameless and cynical, and is such a lie that even for this President, it's remarkable.

This is the President in a rally with large crowds, most of them are as always, not wearing masks. The people behind him as you'll see have been given masks because the campaign knows they are going to be on TV and they want you to think the President is being responsible, but he is not.

Most of the actual crowd are not wearing masks, you know, crammed together as close as possible. Here's the President's new claim.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know the disease. We social distance we do all of the things that you have to do. If you get close, wear a mask, always controversial. It's not controversial to me. You get close, you wear a mask. Social distance, social distance.


COOPER: Wow. I mean, this guy has no shame. He is telling a crowd of largely unmasked people, who, as you see are standing shoulder to shoulder, shoulder often rubbing against shoulder.

Yes, we social distance, he says. We do all the things that you have to do. And folks are nodding their heads, clapping, cheering, spreading droplets into the air and onto the people around them, packed in tight.

You get close, the President says, you wear a mask to a crowd of people who are close and not wearing masks. And he is saying it as if he has been saying this for months: social distance, social distance, he says to again a crowd, not socially distanced.

I've got to say, it is painful to watch people who also cheered when he mocked masks and social distancing. They cheered when he mocked those very same things. Now, he is suddenly a convert. It is like he pulls the rug out from under them, and they go along with it.

People in that crowd are going to contract COVID. That is the sad reality and some may die.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the CNN medical team investigated what happened after 17 Trump rallies around the country. They found in 82 percent of the event, the rate of cases rose a month later, and after more than half the rallies, they rose faster than the overall rate for the states in which they were held.

Sanjay joins us shortly along with an infectious disease specialist seeing it all up close in Florida. In the meantime, think about all the times that the President has mocked Joe Biden for his social distancing circles and drive-in events or reporters for wearing a mask, as he did just last week in the Oval Office.


TRUMP: This is Jeff Mason. He's got a mask on. It's the largest mask I think I have ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him.


COOPER: So no, the President hasn't always been a fan of mask wearing or social distancing and he isn't a fan of it now. Here's the President at a recent ABC News Town Hall.


TRUMP: There are a lot of people think that masks are not good. And there are a lot of people that as an example --

QUESTION: Who are those people?

TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people. Waiters, they come over and they serve you and they have a mask and I saw it the other day where they were serving me and they are playing with a mask -- I'm not blaming them. I'm just saying what happens.

They are playing with a mask, so the mask is over and they're touching it and put -- and then they're touching the plate. That can't be good.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, researchers at the University of Washington released a study projecting that 100,000 lives could be saved -- American lives could be saved over just the next few months if everyone did what the President said is maybe not such a good thing, apparently because he has seen waiters touch their faces.

And now he is saying he has always been for it, having spent months making it controversial even when he announced the C.D.C. guidelines on masks. He started to critique them as he announced them saying he wouldn't do it.

It's like an arsonist who is back at the scene giving firefighting tips or sending his Chief of Staff onto CBS this morning. I mean, this guy. First, Mark Meadows -- first, he lies about the administration's stance on all of the above. Then he pivots to his own restaurant experience, which we're dying to hear, which apparently isn't shared by many these days about how icky they can be.



QUESTION: The reason I want to jump in here, is because I just want to clarify, I'm glad to hear you say that you're using Purell and that people should socially distance and wear a mask. That is not the example being set by the President. I believe, it was Asa Hutchinson on Sunday on "Face the Nation" who said, it's a little confusing for people.

You know, the President himself, your office, the Vice President's office, they are not following their own guidelines. Can you see how that's a problem for people?

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I can tell you that I'm following the guidelines and a number of us are following the guidelines --

QUESTION: A number of us.

MEADOWS: If you look at it, obviously, a number of us continue to look at this particular environment, and it's an unusual environment that we have. And so as we try to make sure that we come into contact with other people, making sure that we socially distance as much as possible, wearing those masks when we can't, we strongly encourage that.

I also, for all of you that are watching this morning, is if you can carry a little container of Purell. I mean, just think about it in a restaurant environment. You know, you're drinking from a drinking glass, well, that drinking glass probably has been filled by a waiter or waitress that has touched every other glass. And so I'm hyper vigilant as we look at that, we don't think about the ways that we potentially can become infected.


COOPER: Can you believe this guy? I mean, what is he talking about? I mean, that went on for what, like 30 to 40 seconds. He is saying that, you know, he has seen waiters and you know -- I'm really just stunned that the Chief of Staff of the President of the United States is encouraging mask wearing and saying, oh, yes, no, well, I -- when asked about the administration about the fact that the administration has become infected with COVID, because they haven't been following guidelines.

And the Vice President, the people around the Vice President are now currently infected. The Chief of Staff blows that off and just says, well, I do it. You know, and in fact, here's a little tip. You bring some Purell with you. Oh, thanks, Dr. Fauci.

Wow. I mean, wow, Purell -- who thought of that? I mean, this is incredible that he is acting as if the fact that he personally does this somehow makes up for the fact that the man he represents and the man he works for, is not doing this.

And that right -- as he is speaking, that very day, they're going to have a bunch of rallies that are potentially super spreader events, with thousands of people shoulder to shoulder cheering, spewing droplets on each other and they are not telling those people to social distance, other than the President's one little line today. I mean, I'm sorry, that --

He is somebody who's supposed to be responsible and that is his response. Man, we are in trouble. We are in trouble.

Sure. You can catch COVID from contaminated surfaces, but the primary mode of transportation is airborne, even the President knows this.


TRUMP: And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than your -- you know, your -- even your strenuous flus.


COOPER: That was the seventh of February back when he was saying that privately to Bob Woodward, but publicly saying it would all just magically disappear with his buddies Diamond and Silk. Where have they been recently, though?

The memory is so vivid, why, it's almost as if he were saying it just this afternoon.


TRUMP: Our vaccine will eradicate the virus and by the way, we have it. But whether we have it or not, it's rounding the turn. It's rounding the turn.


COOPER: He is almost bored of that phrase by now, "rounding the turn, just surrounding the turn." It's not. If not, President is simply lying there.

As we reported at the top, this has been the worst single day for new cases in the entire pandemic, more than 83,000 new cases and counting and at least 940 people dead as of 8:00 p.m., nine minutes ago.

Maybe more have died just in the last nine minutes.

A bit later in the program, we're going to talk about new CNN reporting that the President is influential, but unqualified radiologist member of the Taskforce. In fact, he seems to be the only member of the Taskforce really left in any good standing with the President. He is the President's whisperer.

That guy, Scott Atlas, he has been pushing states to not test so many people, and one state reportedly listened and guess where that is? Yes. Florida where Joe Biden held a socially distanced event today where the President held a potential super spreader event and where new cases are rising again, topping 4,000 today.


COOPER: So there's a lot to get to tonight. As we said, we'll be talking to an infectious disease specialist in Florida tonight. First, the political prognosis for Florida courtesy of CNN's Phil Mattingly at the magic wall. So Phil, where do things stand right now in Florida as the path to 270 for the President?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, I'm not going to be breaking any news here, Anderson, when I say it's going to be close. And I think everybody agrees on that in both parties and everybody also agrees that the State of Florida, this is the map back in 2016, President Trump winning by about 100,000 votes. It is going to be tight and likely will be crucial to who wins the election.

Now, here's where things stand right now, at this moment. The Poll of Polls show Joe Biden with about a three-point lead. That's a little bit sizable. It's probably going to end up being closer to that. But it gives Democrats some hope. And the reality, Anderson, when you look at this map, is this is not

going to be much different in terms of the colors come Tuesday night. Democratic strongholds will remain Democratic strongholds, the same with Republicans up top in the big fight for the I-4 Corridor.

The question is who can run up votes where they need it and who can hope to keep margins down in other places that are strong suits? I think right now, where you see the President and Joe Biden in the I-4 Corridor fighting for the suburbs, fighting for retirees, understanding the dynamics of this race right now, well, they will head to multiple places over the course of the map over the next couple of days.

Everybody knows Florida matters, perhaps more than anything.

COOPER: What about Joe Biden? Today, he told voters in Broward County that Florida holds the key?

MATTINGLY: Yes, I think this is a really crucial point because for President Trump, there is no question about it. He can win without Florida, but it would be extremely, extremely difficult.

Let's just look at this map as it stands right now. The Gold States are toss ups. As it stands, Joe Biden is already above 270 electoral votes in the current race ratings. Now, say you gave Joe Biden the State of Florida. That puts him at 319.

And let's walk through what President Trump could win and still not reach 270. He could win Georgia. He could win North Carolina. He could win Ohio. He could win Iowa. He could win the second district in Maine up here for that one electoral vote, and then he could start digging into Democratic territory.

He could win Nevada. He could go ahead and win Arizona, too. In fact, he could win the State of Pennsylvania. And look at this, Joe Biden is still above 270 electoral votes. Are there pathways or is there a pathway that President Trump can win 270 electoral votes without Florida? Yes. Is it likely? I think both campaigns would acknowledge, if they are being candid, the answer is no.

COOPER: I mean, is there a sense of who is up in Florida just in terms of the polls? And could Florida send some signals relatively early in the night?

MATTINGLY: So I think everybody is trying to get a read on the early vote. Right? And obviously the early vote is surging around the country and Florida is no different at all.

When you look at Florida's early vote right now, take a look at this, 7.3 million votes have come in, 4.4 million in mail-in ballots alone. That is almost, almost, to about 75 percent to the entire 2016 total.

Now, here's the news that I think the Biden campaign and the Trump campaign are willing to acknowledge about what it might mean for Election Night. Unlike a lot of the Midwestern states or say the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Florida knows how to handle vote by mail.

Florida has the infrastructure to deal with it. They have dealt with more than three million back in 2016. And Florida is allowed to process ballots before Election Day.

So when you talk to the Biden campaign, when you talk to folks alive with the Biden campaign, one of the reasons they also point to Florida beyond the general electoral map is if Florida goes to Biden, they should know early and if they know early, that will be a good sign for them for the remainder of the night.

Again, it is very unlikely that we will know the answers to where the Midwestern states stand on Election Night, Florida could give an actual idea of where the overall process stands before we even have to worry about those Midwestern states -- Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, Appreciate it. Thanks, Phil. Joining us now, former Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Senator Warren, thanks for being with us. With less than five days to go, how are you feeling about the Biden-Harris campaign right now and frankly, the chances of Democrats taking the Senate?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Well, look, I feel good, but you get out there and you fight for everything. What seems to me to be the issue that everybody has really gotten focused in on is healthcare. And part of it is around this pandemic; 225,000 people who have died eight months into a pandemic and Donald Trump still doesn't have a plan. He doesn't even have a clue in how he is going to deal with this pandemic.

And if you can't deal with it, you can't reopen the economy. You can't get this country back on track.

But it's also the second part and that is healthcare, access to healthcare.

The Republicans have tried repealing the Affordable Care Act. They missed that by a single vote and now Donald Trump will be in the United States Supreme Court one week after the election arguing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, get rid of healthcare coverage for tens of millions of Americans and protection for people with preexisting conditions for tens of millions more.

That contrast couldn't be sharper than with Joe Biden.

Joe Biden has a plan for dealing with the pandemic and he is going to expand healthcare coverage for everyone. Here it is.


COOPER: It' also never -- I mean, I've never seen a race for President in which one side does not actually have a healthcare plan, is promising a mysterious one that they are going to release, you know, I guess when the audit stops on Trump's taxes. I mean, they were not -- you know, there is no plan, it seems and this is presidential politics.

I mean, has there been a race where the President of the United States and the person running does not have a plan?

WARREN: Actually, I think that Donald Trump does have a plan. He has made it clear. His plan is to take away healthcare from tens of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic. That is a plan.

Just -- it's not a plan you and I might like. It's not a plan that human beings would support. It's not a plan that people who care about their families and their friends would support. But it is a plan, because they are actually out there executing on it. It's not that they are just kind of vaguely wandering around.

They are actively working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, forcing through a Supreme Court nominee, stealing a Supreme Court seat, so they can get that crucial fifth vote, which they now have to take away healthcare from an estimated 23 million Americans and take away protection from people who have preexisting conditions.

That is their plan, less healthcare for Americans in the middle of a pandemic.

COOPER: I know we're -- you know, everybody in this country, whether they support the President or not, are used to his lies, some might not call them lies, but they are lies. Today, him telling a crowd that he likes masks, that they social distance, that they've always, you know, said if you know, if you can't social distance, wear a mask.

He is saying that to a crowd who is standing shoulder to shoulder, not social distanced and not wearing masks. Even for him to me, I was just stunned by that today. The level of -- I don't know if it's cynical, or just shamelessness, or I don't even have a question here. I just am stunned that this is the state that we are in right now.

WARREN: You mean, he stands up there and says in effect, who are you going to believe? Your lying eyes or your President? And he just puts it right out there.

You know, one of the things that gives me the most assurance about having Joe Biden as President, he will listen to the scientists. He will listen to the epidemiologists. He has already talked about the importance of doubling down and doubling down again on testing and on contact tracing, and on masks and on protective equipment.

Joe Biden will be a reality based President, someone who actually pays attention to what's going on and helps make it better for all of us.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the breaking news on a Federal Appeals Court ruling regarding Minnesota saying ballots must be received by Election Day. They are cutting off a week long window where state officials have planned to receive ballots that had lingered in the mail. I'm wondering, are you concerned about what might happen in the courts after the election and about the actual counting of votes.

WARREN: This is what interests me, it is what's happened in Minnesota, but it's happening everywhere. The lawsuits are everywhere.

One major political party, the Republicans is doing their best to prevent American citizens from voting. And they've got 40 different ways to do that. Whether it's when they get -- when the ballots get counted or when they have to be in by or whether or not they could be mailed out to begin with, or standing out there trying to intimidate people who show up to vote.

Think about what that means. We have a major political party in this country that believes that the only way that they've got a shot at hanging on to power is to keep American citizens from voting.

So it makes me say at this moment to everyone in this country, whether you're Democrat, Republican, Independent, libertarian, vegetarian, if you've got a ballot, drop it off at the site, if you can, if you can do that in your state -- a ballot box or at your county clerk's office, you can go to, punch in your state and it will tell you how to drop off your ballots.

Otherwise, go and vote in person, but vote because this is democracy and our democracy depends on people voting. So that's what we got to do.


COOPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

WARREN: Thank you.

COOPER: We're going to drill deeper on the medical realities in the state both candidates visited today. What Florida really looks like as seen through the eyes of an expert there? We will also talk about that new reporting on infections in the President's rallies and efforts by the President's favorite doctor or radiologist to limit testing in Florida.

Later back to politics and the early voting numbers that are already breaking records.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight, COVID cases climbing to their highest daily total yet. More than 83,000 and still rising. Earlier, one former F.D.A. Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted 100,000 cases a day shortly. With that in mind, there's new CNN reporting on White House efforts to essentially blind ourselves to the problem.

They are being led by Taskforce member and radiologist, Scott Atlas. Again. Dr. Atlas is not infectious disease specialist. He's not an epidemiologist. He doesn't treat COVID patients or work on vaccines.

He is good if you need an MRI. He has a good reputation and he does have the President's ear. He also believes that fewer non symptomatic people should be tested for COVID.

CNN has learned from public transcripts and accounts of private meetings that he shared that view with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a visit last August, or excuse me, late August, he and the Governor urged public health officials in several Florida cities to focus less on universal testing, and more on opening the economy and schools.

According to a CNN analysis of official state numbers assembled by the COVID Tracking Project, that push coincided with a dramatic drop in testing across the state. With that as the background, we're joined by CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

Dr. Marty, today is the third consecutive day that Florida reported more than 4,000 new COVID cases in a single day. What is going on in the state?

DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: We are having another rise in cases. Absolutely, there's no doubt about it. With more patients coming to the hospital with COVID symptoms and other respiratory symptoms and almost always proved to be COVID. And we are admitting more patients.

Our total case count is not as high, but that's only because we're able to manage the patients much better today than we were several months ago. And so we're able to get them out, but that doesn't mean people aren't coming in and that doesn't mean that they aren't suffering for long, long periods at home after this.

So no question that we're in another uptick.


COOPER: Sanjay, President Trump was in Florida earlier today having a large rally. You've actually looked at the data on the idea that these are potential super spreader events. What did you find?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is very interesting because we wanted to look at this data very carefully. It's very hard when you have 80,000 people being diagnosed every day to do effective contact tracing. I mean, it would be an entire sector of our society.

So what we did is we looked at the counties where the last 17 rallies have been and tried to see what happened in those counties in the weeks after these rallies and compare it to surrounding counties within the state to make sure it wasn't something that was just an artifact of the state and 82 percent of the time on these rallies, Anderson, the numbers went up, and significantly, within a few weeks after these rallies, and they went up out of proportion to the rest of the state.

So there is clearly something going on. Again, it's very hard to draw a cause and effect in a situation like this because the numbers are just so enormous, but you know, getting a bunch of people together in a rally in the middle of a pandemic, it makes no sense. Obviously, if you look specifically at these locations, and you say,

what is the chance I'm going to encounter someone with COVID based on how much virus there is in my location? Right now, in the country. You know, it's about a 95 to 99 percent chance, once you start to aggregate a few hundred people that people are going to bring COVID to those events.

So it's really significant what is happening in terms of spread -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dr. Marty, does that surprise you at all?

MARTY: Well, when you have someone advising the President or the governors with statements that are not backed by any science, that are immoral, that are misrepresenting the safety of our citizens and particularly of our children, it's not surprising to see that people are confused.

And this is actually absolutely shameful that we have this going on in our nation at this time when there are so many experts.

Can you imagine, I had this conversation with a dear friend of mine, Dr. James Smirniotopoulos, who is one of the top neuro radiologists in the United States, who among other neuro radiologists wrote a letter condemning what Dr. Scott Atlas has been saying, because it is outrageous to consider that these types of ideas that are being propagated, can you imagine he said to me and I agree, if the if the United States had taken that attitude towards polio, instead of waiting for a vaccine, if we hadn't been cautious.

Polio, if you think about it had been around for 3,000 to 4,000 years without ever there being any kind of herd immunity, and then we were finally able to have it once we had good, safe vaccines and we're finally getting to eradicate that disease using proper science and using proper vaccination. We can't let a wild virus go loose.

COOPER: Sanjay, CNN is reporting to Dr. Deborah Birx from the Coronavirus Taskforce has essentially ceded her influence inside the White House to the radiologist, Dr. Atlas. She told her friend she has decided to -- she needs to sidestep the misleading messages coming from Atlas and take her message directly to people which she has been traveling to 40 different states talking to officials about how to prevent the spread.

How worrying is that? And I mean, it says a lot. I mean, for a moment she was in the President's good graces and just like Fauci, apparently it seems like she no longer has his ear.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it's really just surreal. I mean, I spent time at the White House with Dr. Birx, right? When she got appointed, I was asked to go to a meeting there. The Vice President was there.

She was brought in. She had just flown from Kenya the night before, jet lagged. But she is somebody who is always on the front lines of these things. And, you know, really wanted to take charge with the Taskforce. But I remember it was in August, I think maybe even earlier when, you

know, I had a conversation with Dr. Fauci and he basically said look, he says Deborah, Ambassador Birx is no longer in the Oval Office. You know, it is Scott Atlas, who has the President's ear. And that's been going on for some time, as people know.

But I think what is remarkable about Ambassador Birx is that she is going out and still trying to convey this message. I mean, I think it is really weighing on her.

And again, I've spent time with her. I've talked to her about these issues. I think she really does care about this.


GUPTA: You know, the numbers, I think, Anderson, speak for themselves. Today, as you mentioned earlier, the highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, and clearly the numbers are still going up that is why she is out there.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Aileen Marty, Sanjay, appreciate it. Thanks very much.


Still to come tonight, the latest early voting totals, which are breaking records across the country. Also analysis that new federal court decision from Minnesota on late arriving ballots.


COOPER: We more now in the breaking news that we mentioned earlier. Another Republican legal victory tonight that could potentially limit the window for mail-in ballots, this time in Minnesota. A federal appeals court and a 2-1 decision says that quoting the decision now, there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution.

For insight, I want to go to CNN's election law analyst Rick Hasen. So Rick, explained the court's ruling what it means and your reaction.

RICHARD HASEN, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, earlier on, the Secretary of State of Minnesota had entered into an agreement with plaintiffs who had sued over the voting rules and said that any ballots that were postmarked by Election Day, but arrived by November 10, would be counted. What the court said today is, it might be unconstitutional for the Secretary of State to have made that extension. And therefore, all of the ballots that come in after Election Day are going to be set aside. They're going to be segregated. And there could be future litigation that might cause those ballots not to be counted.

COOPER: And do expect the ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court? And is there any way to know how they might respond?

HASEN: Well, it could be appealed to the Supreme Court, there's really not a lot of time left, because it only involves a segregation of ballots, rather than just saying they won't be counted at this point. The court might not want to get involved. But one of the things the Supreme Court has consistently been saying is to federal courts, don't change the rules just before the election. Usually that was more of, you know, a liberal court doing something that helped count more balanced. This is a cutback and the Eighth Circuit said no, we don't care about this personnel principle, this idea that we're close to the election, because we're protecting the Constitution.


I think that's something that might really rankle some of the justices on the court and if it does go to the Supreme Court, it could be reversed.

COOPER: It's not just Minnesota, I mean there also been big disputes over mail-in ballots deadlines in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. The Supreme Courts wading into varying degrees. How would these resurface impossible post-election litigation?

HASEN: Well, as you can imagine, say it's really close in Minnesota, either for a presidential race or for a congressional race, someone might try to move that those ballots that are coming in late that are being set aside now in Minnesota, and also in Pennsylvania, that those ballots should not be counted. Because the rule that allowed them to be counted, took away the power of the state legislature. It's kind of a theory that the Supreme Court is hinting about but has never really embraced.

COOPER: And you may not know this, but if somebody has sent in a ballot that they know is now too late, can they go and vote on Election Day?

HASEN: It depends on the state rules. I don't know the Minnesota rules off the top of my head. What I can say is nobody anywhere in the United States right now should be mailing a ballot back. You should be using a Dropbox if they're allowed going to an official office, or voting in-person on Election Day or early

COOPER: Rick Hasen, I appreciate it. Thank you.

There is a recent court decisions have made the record breaking early vote totals that much more important particularly to Democrats more than 81 million total votes cast so far, 43 states plus Washington D.C. have now exceeded their early vote totals from four years ago. There's still one or more days of early voting left across most of the country, including in states like Texas and Georgia and Florida battleground states.

Phil Mattingly is at the election wall, the latest and what all this could mean on election night. So, more than a third of all registered voters have already cast their ballots, which states are seeing particularly high early turnout on the battleground states?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look Anderson, we knew it would be a surge of early voting. But I think the stunning thing is 28 states in the District of Columbia have already surpassed half of the total ballots cast back in 2016. And some of them are some of the most crucial states on the map. Look at these states that light up here, the State of North Carolina, already over 80% of their 2016 total just through early votes, same with the state of Georgia, State of Florida 79%. Again, of the total early and Election Day 79% is already in from 2016.

We go over to Arizona, they're at 72%. Texas, Anderson, Texas is already at 98% of the entire 2016 total. It underscores look, we knew that there was going to be a surge in early vote, we knew vote by mail was going to be crucial, really for both parties, but especially for Democrats. But just the sheer amount that has come in over the course of the last several days and what could still come in over the course of the next couple makes very, very true that this will be crucial to whoever wins.

COOPER: So wait, in Texas 98% of the number of total votes in 2016 --


COOPER: That's have already been voted or have already voted.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And look, if you want to caveat it a little bit. It was down in total turnout was very down in Texas, it was under 9 million. I think it was somewhere around 8.4, 8.5 million. They already have somewhere between 8.2 and 8.3 million votes --

COOPER: Wow, that's a passed.

MATTINGLY: -- already between vote by mail and in-person early vote. Look, people want to vote with the enthusiasm. If we can say nothing else about what happens, the numbers we've seen from each of the states and states report differently is that the enthusiasm in the middle of a pandemic is certainly there.

COOPER: People say it helps the Democrats that all these people are voting early. Do we know this?

MATTINGLY: Yes. So, it's hard to say look, not every state breaks it down by party and you don't necessarily know exactly that just because somebody is registered as a Republican or registered as a Democrat. That means that that's going to -- be how their vote. But there's two states in particular that I think people are paying close attention to. And that starts with the state Democrats, I think at this point in time, are most excited about, that's the state of North Carolina.

Again, this is breakdown by party, it doesn't necessarily mean that the Democrat voted for Joe Biden, Republican voted for Donald Trump. But Democrats right now in the state of North Carolina, again, with a surge of early voting, 39% of the vote came in with people that were registered as Democrats. The 31% of Republican and the no party or no party affiliation, North Carolina, Florida, other states is going to be what the big battle is about where everybody is paying very close attention, because they've done this before, they do vote by mail. That's the state of Florida.

And where do things stand right now? Democrats started with a big early lead, right now at 41%. Republicans over the course of the last couple days is in-person early voting is kicked into gear have really started to close the gap. But again, no party, pay attention to that as well. So Anderson, you can't draw any definitive conclusions by the data that we're looking at right now. Other than it's big, it's surging, and Democrats believe that they've run up some good early vote numbers. It will depend on what Republicans do not just in-person early voting, but Election Day. Republicans Anderson, they acknowledge they have to win on Election Day and they have to win big. They think they can Democrats right now trying to build that cushion.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, thanks.

MATTINGLY: Perspective now from David Axelrod, chief strategist for President Obama's campaigns and a senior adviser to the Obama White House, also, our senior political commentator and Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst.


So David, the early voting numbers seeing more than any 1 million votes cast. You know, I guess the question is how confident Democrats about turnout because just look at Florida where Republicans actually narrowed the early voting gap. So, you know, for days, we've been talking about how close it is in the States. And I know you've said they're going to narrow -- they're seems like they're narrowing.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You know, I think that Phil made an important point this, the unaffiliated voters are 20% of the vote in Florida, how they break is pretty important. The other thing is how many people actually vote early in all these places. 80 million nationally, staggering number. And the more people vote early, the more pressure it puts on the President to have a great day on Tuesday at the polling places that CNN poll suggested that the people who were voting early were breaking 2-1 in favor of Biden and that people voting for Trump were breaking heavily his way. But if more people vote early, that puts more pressure on Trump to outperform. And I think when people can be watching that, and the thing that Phil mentioned, where are these non-affiliated voters going if they break one way or the other, that can make a big difference?

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, do you think -- is the focus on Florida even more heightened this year, because it's so crucial to the President's path to 270 electoral votes?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, as long as I've covered politics, the focus on Florida is always pretty high. But I'd have to say, this time, it's incredibly high, because it's so important to Donald Trump. If Donald Trump does not win Florida, he has a very narrow, narrow path to the presidency, if one at all. So, he absolutely needs Florida. Biden would like to win Florida, but if he loses Florida, there are many roads to take him to 270.

There's another reason, it's so important this time and it's about the timing of Florida. As you guys were talking before, they know how to count votes in Florida. They've started counting votes in Florida. So we might actually get the results in Florida on election night. And for example, if Biden were to win that then his people would breathe a huge sigh of relief. And they would say, OK, we really can see the way. And if Trump were to win, his folks would say, all right, there's a way for us and what does this mean, in other states like North Carolina, for example. So it is important. But of course, I was there in the year 2000, when Florida was really important. And it was just over 500 votes that made the difference.

COOPER: Yes. David, I mean, former President Obama won Florida twice. Trump won in 2016. Both presidents had small margins. Do you want to see the former president back there campaigning the next few days? He was there earlier this week, certainly got a lot of attention.

AXELROD: Yes, look, I think he's an effective surrogate. And there there's concern about minority voting in Florida, not the pace of it. But how it's going to break that the Republicans have done well, in the last few elections, among Hispanics in Florida, and particularly that Cuban population, the Trump campaign has targeted young black voters very heavily. And so, you know, and young voters generally are a target for Democrats. So, Obama's helpful with these with some of these constituencies non-Cuban Hispanics, younger black voters, young voters. And so, they're going to dispatch him to work on that project, but he's going to Michigan this weekend to Detroit where it's also important.

And so, you know, you have to ration your resources. But Florida just to emphasize something Gloria said, Anderson. Florida is the difference between a an election night where we think we have a verdict, and a long twilight struggle that might involve a lot of lawyers disputing ballots in these northern states.

COOPER: Gloria, I want to play something the first lady said on the campaign trail today, it was the first joint appearance in 2020. Let's play that.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF UNITED STATES: In a time, when hate, negativity and fear, are the messages the media streams into our homes. And the large tech companies are protecting political censorship. We need to remember what is really important. My husband's administration is focused on the future.


COOPER: I mean, hate negativity and fear are the main messages. It seems like I'm the president.

BORGER: Yes. It does. I don't know maybe this is part of the best campaign I have no idea. Hate, negativity and fear in the same rally. The President was full of hate and negativity. And the fear that this country feels is not from the Democrats or she blame the media but it's about COVID.


And so, it's obviously she's on a campaign and the other day she talked about socialism and all the rest of it. You know, I think it sounds awfully hollow coming from Melania Trump.

AXELROD: Not to mention that the future -- that the future that the President is forecasting out there if Biden gets elected is in apocalypse.

BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: So, I mean --

BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: -- here is the tool that he's using.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, thanks very much. We're going to continue the conversation next with the governor of Pennsylvania. Now, they're obviously key battleground state we're really voting is up this year. It's also the site of intense voter suppression tactics like the legal battles we described earlier. What Election Day and the days after may look like, when we continue.


COOPER: I want to focus right now on Pennsylvania. They exceeded our pre-election voting levels from four years ago with nearly 2 million votes cast, it's a state that could be a tipping point in the election. It's also the site of one of the most intense legal battles when expected to extend past Election Day to determine which votes count.


The Supreme Court is effectively allowed Democratic demands for an extended window to receive mail-in ballots, at least for now. Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the court could still hear the case after Election Day.

Joining me now is the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf. Governor, thanks so much for being with us. So, to the people of Pennsylvania that have not voted yet, but want to, what steps should they take so their vote is counted Democrat or Republican? It's five days to election day.

GOV. TOM WOLF (D-PA): All right now, what we're encouraging and urging everybody to do is if they haven't sent their ballot in yet walk it to the election officer or Dropbox, but do it in person.

COOPER: And short of that they should not mail in a ballot at this point.

WOLF: I think just to be safe. I mean, the court has ruled that the state Supreme Court ruling that the ballots can be counted if they received three days after the polls close. In other words, by the end of business on Friday, that they'll still count. I just wouldn't chance it just, you know, walk it to the election office, take it in person to a Dropbox. That's the safest way to do that, then, you know, for sure this is going to be there. COOPER: Because the Supreme Court decision yesterday about Pennsylvania's mail-in ballot deadline extension doesn't necessarily, I mean the court won't agree to hear a challenge after the election. So, that's why it's so important to just walk in there or vote in- person.

WOLF: Yes. I mean, why take the chance. Now, keep in mind, we, if you're military absentee ballots can be counted, and then always had been in Pennsylvania, for a week after the polls closed. So, we have always done that with our veterans. And we'll continue to do that. But just to be safe, you know, make sure it gets there, whatever the noise is out there, whatever the Supreme Court ultimately decides to do. If anything, just walk it to the election office, walk into the Dropbox and make sure that you do this in person.

COOPER: In the Wisconsin Valley case, earlier this week, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that, and I quote, states want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flipped the results of an election. And those states also want to be able to definitively announce the results of the election on election night, or as soon as possible thereafter. Is that correct? I mean, Justice Kavanaugh speak for you when he says, when he characterizes what stage one?

WOLF: No. I mean, as I said, military ballots have been counted a week, seven days after the polls closed. I don't for how long we've had military absentee ballots, I think since the Civil War in Pennsylvania. I was in business before I was governor. So six years ago, I was looking at postmarks. And if somebody's got a bill in there was postmarked on the date it was due and it took four or five days to get there, we still -- there was no late charge for that. So, I think this is the way the world works.

But again, we will segregate a ballots that come in after 8:00 on Election Day, for that three-day period, if any come in. And so that if the Supreme Court changes its mind, they will be able to say these are the ballots that came in after 8:00 on Election Day and they can be disposed of however the U.S. Supreme Court decides they want to handle that.

COOPER: The New York Times is reporting that in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign has essentially a kind of a three pronged strategy to suppress votes. The Time said that they quote, dispatched its officials to early voting sites, videotaped voters, and even pressed election administrators in the Philadelphia area to stop people from delivering more than one ballot to a Dropbox. Do you think the campaign has engaged in voter intimidation and suppression?

WOLF: Voter intimidation is illegal in Pennsylvania. So I would not want to accuse anybody of breaking the law, but they have taken a very aggressive stance legally, as you know, I mean, they've been suing the life out of the local municipal governments, counties, the state, the Department of State in Pennsylvania, and they're doing everything they can. It almost looks to me like, I mean, you know, when you played Little League, if you didn't like the outcome, you always, you know, argued about the bumper or the rules, and that's when you lost. And so, it strikes me that there must be some real concern that they're not going to win in Pennsylvania.

COOPER: There's also been a lot of concern about the so-called naked ballots in your state, which are ballots that are mailed without the secrecy envelope. The courts have ruled that those ballots cannot be counted. What's the state's plan to deal with that?

WOLF: Actually in Pennsylvania, the each of the counties we have 67 counties and they're the ones that actually count the ballots. And it'll vary from county to county. I think in most counties if on early Election Day, a ballot comes in the wrong way, if someone drops it off without the secrecy envelope, or something like that, or it's not signed. I think most of the counties would just say, hey, you know, put your signature on here. And I think that'll they'll take care of it.


But you're right, the court has ruled that if it's not done exactly right, then it's not going to count. So, we made a big effort to make sure that people understand that there are two envelopes, one is the secrecy envelope inside the mailing envelope. And you need to put the ballot inside the secrecy envelope. The secrecy envelope has to go inside the mail envelope, and then send that off like that.

COOPER: Yes. Governor Wolf, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

WOLF: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Along with Pennsylvania, there's no question that Wisconsin is another crucial state for both campaigns as if to emphasize that point Joe Biden and President Trump are scheduled to campaign in the state tomorrow. There's also no question that Wisconsin has been one of the state's hardest hit by the pandemic. Our Bill Weir now with a look at the state of play on both fronts.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The future of Wisconsin is being written in long lines, lines to vote and lines to test as the virus spreads at nightmare rates.

(on-camera): So, what are you worried about more these days COVID-19 or the election,

ANN HEASLETT, WISCONSIN VOTER: It would be a toss up.

WEIR (voice-over): She is among the thousands poring through this center in Madison each day, or they knock out one free test every nine seconds. The current rates, the state's intensive care units will overflow within weeks. And outrageous, preventable final straw for Biden voters who see Trump's mostly maskless Wisconsin rallies, a super spreader events.

DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We're rounding the curve. We're rounding the corner. JOHN BORGWARDT, WISCONSIN VOTER: I don't understand how he can downplay the seriousness of this. It just totally escapes me.

WEIR (on-camera): Yes.


HEASLETT: I think Biden's going to win this state. I think that it has strongly affected the way that I would vote. I think Trump has handled this abysmally.

WEIR (voice-over): But in Charles, Wisconsin, from farm country up north, to the suburbs of Milwaukee, there is a very different level of COVID concern.

(on-camera): Did it affect the way you think about this election?

MICHELLE ANDERSON, WISCONSIN VOTER: No, not at all. Just stay safe. They have lots of hand sanitizer and they have alcohol wipes. They have glass protection. It's very safe. My biggest reason for voting for Trump is Biden. I don't believe he's going to live that long. And I am a female, but I just -- I'm not comfortable with two females in office, and I don't care for Nancy. So.

WEIR (voice-over): Her fear of Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris makes her the exception. As polls show Joe Biden holding a wide lead among women. Early turnout among younger voters is also off the charts. But Milwaukee's black voters have yet to show up in the numbers that helped Barack Obama's first win.

(on-camera): Do you see that yourself like there's a different interest now than there was in '16?

JUSTIN HAMPTON, WISCONSIN VOTER: For sure, because a lot of you know, a lot of things that that occurred in the United States were, you know, police brutality, you know, and equality with, you know, African-Americans and other brown races.

WEIR (on-camera): You worry that what happened in Kenosha might inspire the other side to come out?

HAMPTON: I mean, yes, I mean, it is what it is, you know, most definitely.

BEN WIKLER, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN: It feels like bungee jumping during a hurricane.

WEIR (voice-over): Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Democrats lost a Supreme Court plea for more time together pandemic mail-in ballots, but they are winning every recent pre-election poll.

WIKLER: And it's pretty clear when we look at the numbers that there are a lot more Democrats voting early and absentee than Republicans and more new voters who are likely voting for Biden and Harris, than new voters voting Republican. A single voter in Wisconsin has a bigger say about the future of humanity than almost anyone who's ever lived. WEIR (on-camera): Have you considered combining the two biggest stories of the day and have ballot drop offs while you're getting your COVID test?

KEN VAN HON, MADISON & DANE COUNTY EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COORDINATOR: I think that we want to we want to concentrate on just testing here and will -- health is us health and I wish it weren't political.

WEIR (voice-over): After testing a quarter million people so far, not a single worker here caught the virus. Just more proof that prevention is the best medicine.

VAN HON: On any given day, one of our testers is probably exposed to about 80 positive cases. And they're wearing a mask and a face shield and that's keeping him safe. I worry whenever I see a large gathering without masks because I know the virus is going to spread in that community. And I worry for him. I wish that people would just wear masks.

WEIR (voice-over): Bill Weir, CNN, Madison, Wisconsin.


COOPER: A reminder after a race like no other, join us for special live coverage. The only CNN could bring it to you from the first votes, the critical count. See what's happening in your state and across the country Election Night in America. Our special coverage starts Tuesday at 4:00 pm Eastern.

The news continues right now. Let's head over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Primetime".


Look, here's the simple fact. Today is the worst day of cases.