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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Sets New Record in Daily Cases with 89,361 Infections Today as Trump and Biden Campaign in Hard-Hit Midwestern States; Record-Breaking 86-Plus Million Early Ballots Cast; Record Surge Of Early Voting In Texas; Key Model Projects 399,000 Covid-19 Deaths By Feb. 1; Walmart Changes Course On Firearms, Ammo Sales. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 30, 2020 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: This time around Joe Biden nationally has been leading among senior Americans and he is seen, Erin, as performing better among seniors this cycle than any Democrat in a generation.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That's pretty incredible. All right, Kate, thank you so much as always.

And thanks so much to all of you for being with us. AC 360 with Anderson starts now.

[20:00:21]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening. It is getting close, close to Election Day on the eve of the final weekend. This is the last chance for Joe Biden and for the President to sway voters.

We will focus tonight on every place that could make a difference this time and everything that's different compared to 2016.

Now already, we've seen record early voting. You know that. In Texas, in fact, more ballots have already been cast than the entire total four years ago, early and day of voting combined. That's of course a big difference.

But driving in and hanging over it all is the pandemic. Today, we saw cases top nine million. And just moments ago, the country hit yet another new sad record for daily cases. More than 89,888 lives lost.

The final numbers won't be calculated until after midnight two cases, so cases will most certainly top 900,000 excuse me, 90,000 -- 90,000 today.

The deaths will also continue rising. At the current rate, about 40 people will die over the course of the next hour. While I'm on the air tonight talking to you and you're listening at home or maybe at the gym or listening in your car, 40 Americans will die.

Some of those deaths are preventable if more people would wear masks. But not enough of us care to, including the President.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris continue to hold socially distanced campaign events. The President and Vice President continue to hold campaign events that make it easy for the virus to spread.

The President is all in on lying about the virus now. He is telling crowds of maskless people crammed together that they are social distancing and wearing mass. He is saying the virus is going away. It's not of course, it is spreading.

He says the doctors are lying about the death toll, they aren't. The death toll is actually under reported. Do Americans care about these lies? These insults? Well, we'll find out in about four days if there are any consequences for the President.

And for the jaded among you, if you're wondering how long it would take for the President to remind us all what a total lie his so called endorsement of mask wearing was just yesterday. Here he is today in Michigan with a shout out to a mask wearing FOX News host in the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where is Laura? Where is she? Where is Laura? I can't recognize you. Is that a mask? No way. Are you wearing a mask? I've never seen her in a mask. Look at you.

Oh, she is being very politically correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He took the lines out of that old TV commercial, less time to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop than it did for the President to make a sucker out of anyone who believes he has changed his tune on this or any COVID related subject. He hasn't and he won't.

Here he is at the same rally claiming doctors are getting rich from COVID.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our doctors get more money if somebody does from COVID. You know that right? I mean, our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say I'm sorry, but you know, everybody dies of COVID.

But in Germany and other places, if you have a heart attack or if you have cancer, you're terminally ill you catch COVID they say you died of cancer. You died of heart attack. With us, when in doubt, choose COVID.

[LAUGHTER]

TRUMP: It's true. No, it's true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: No, it's not true. The doctors and nurses are risking their lives. They very possibly saved the life of that man right there, and this is how our President treats them, our frontline heroes. It's not enough for the self-described Wartime President to get our

fellow citizens hating and fighting one another. He is now trying to get us to turn on the very people who are defending us on the frontlines, fighting this virus.

And his supporters nod their heads there. They cheer and they jeer. That is what we have become. As cases have been rising, more people have been getting sick enough to be hospitalized. Fourteen states today reaching record numbers, and even though treatment has improved since the early days, deaths have begun rising again as well.

So no, Mr. President, it is not that we are testing more because in some states, with your encouragement, we are actually testing less so that the doctors are trying to earn extra cash from people dying and faking death counts, which is obscene.

They are risking their lives along with nurses and hospital staffs to save others. The numbers are rising and more people are getting sick and dying because we are in the middle of a raging pandemic that you have failed to deal with from the very beginning.

Today, Florida that key battleground state became only the third state along with California and Texas to pass the 800,000 case mark. According to the data team at Johns Hopkins University, reporting more than 5,100 new infections just today.

More now on how Florida and Texas, and all the current Midwest hotspots finish the electoral picture as people adapt to voting on what are now quite literally life and death issues. Our chief national correspondent John King joins us for that.

So, John, how does the collision of the virus and the campaign impact the President on these final days?

[20:05:07]

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To your point you were just making, Anderson. This is everybody's daily lives and what the President is telling them right now is not the truth.

So four nights from now, we will fill this in with red and blue. That's traditionally how we judge politics, which way do the states go and if the electoral votes, we get a President.

But this is the headwind the President is running against right now, and it is COVID in America. It is not Democrat or Republican or Independent. It is life for everybody.

And just look at this map. The red is pain, the pink is pain, and the orange is pain. This is COVID cases, for 100,000 residents, the darker the color, the higher the rate. It's everywhere.

So I'm actually a little bit reluctant to do this because it is everywhere in America but think about where the President was today. So a lot of pain in Michigan in recent months, even more pain in Wisconsin. Look at all of that red, especially right now. Minnesota has also had problems, including in rural areas that are

very important to the President. Senator Harris was in Texas today. Democrats think, sickening to say in some ways, but the coronavirus works to their advantage because they want leadership to be the issue. Look how hard Texas has been hit.

The Vice President was in Arizona. Remember the summer surge? How much pain we went through out there? When you look at this map everywhere in America, but especially in battleground America, there is a lot of problems right now.

That is one way to look at the impact on this campaign. Let me make this go away and just show you one other way we can look at the campaign.

Use the 2020 map here. You bring this out. The top 10 states right now, COVID growing right now. Again, it is growing everywhere. But the top 10 states per capita, this is them. This is how they voted in 2016. All of them voted for President Trump including battleground Wisconsin, a key part of the campaign today.

One other quick way to look at this, Anderson, you come here and you look at this. Where are new confirmed cases? Where are they rising the fastest? These are the top 10 states.

You go back to 2016, seven of them voted for the President of the United States. Battleground Texas, battleground Florida, the Midwest area that is key to this campaign.

So no matter where you look, you look at the numbers. They are sober and they are getting worse. And you look at the political overlay. This is a tough race for the President because of this virus.

COOPER: And for Joe Biden, how does the surge in the epidemic affect his strategy?

KING: It doesn't and that's actually the point. Joe Biden has been running from the beginning on leadership. I know how to run the government. I will be competent. We will deal with this virus.

And the President is trying to change the subject and I just want to show you some other numbers. We can use the 2016 map to do it as you go through it. The President keeps trying to change the subject.

But look in Michigan, for example. Again, a key battleground state poll out this week, 42 percent approved, 55 percent disapproved on the virus. The virus is rising right now. It is front and center.

The President wants to make it about law and order. He wants to make it about crime and taxes. The virus is in his face. Another -- the trend lines for Joe Biden. This is Trump's handling of the coronavirus in battleground Wisconsin, 39 percent approved now, 44 percent just a month ago. The numbers are going the wrong way for the President, 59 percent disapprove.

So the Biden campaign knows these numbers. They know the case count in America. They want to focus on leadership and competence, and as the President tries to change the subject, the coronavirus is the headwind.

COOPER: I mean, the President does have a path to 270 electoral votes. What is that path because now I'm seeing a lot of articles about concerns among Democrats about turnout among African-Americans, among Hispanic voters in Florida, and Arizona and some other states?

KING: So let's go through this map. This 2016 PTSD among Democrats without a doubt, number one. Number two, even in places where they have an advantage in early voting, that doesn't guarantee you victory. That means you have a head start, right?

You have more people on the track early. You still have to finish the race. So this is the execution part of the race. This is the President's map four years ago, right? Can you replicate this?

Well, let's come here and look at this. Now, this is different, right? This looks different than the maps I've showed you. Let me tell you why. This is where we rate the race right now if you want to come me come back here.

If you want to come through everything right now, we have Joe Biden states leaning to get him across the finish line. But what we've decided to do is take all the states that we lean.

We lean Texas to the President, let's pull that back. We lean Arizona and Nevada to the Democrats. Let's take those back. The same with the battle -- the blue wall states up here.

So if you think of this as the final week of the campaign, how does the President get there? Well, he starts with 125. So let me get him close, Anderson. I won't get him the whole way.

But he has to win Texas, which is very competitive. He has to win Florida. He has to win North Carolina. He has to win Ohio. He has to win Iowa.

Even if he did that, he is only at 231. That's where it gets interesting because everywhere else on this map right now, everywhere else on this map, Joe Biden is either leading or ahead. So yes, the President has a path, but he has to be perfect.

COOPER: John King, stay there. I want to bring in our chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Also, veteran campaign insider, CNN Senior political analyst, David Gergen.

Dana, this is obviously the final sprint, three days -- over three days to go. Both Trump and Biden making, you know, dashes to battleground States.

The ground game in this moment, can you explain what that term really means? Because again, I keep reading these articles about in Florida that the turnout -- the early turnout, the early voting by African- Americans, by Hispanics, debt on the Democratic side their concerns about it, as well as in other states. I don't know the details on it. [20:10:19]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are concerns. There are concerns among Democrats that they are underperforming among African-Americans and Latinos, especially in Florida. Democrats I've talked to all day today, and frankly, all week say that, you know, just be careful.

Obviously, those numbers vary in different states. But to answer your fundamental question about the ground game, what does that mean?

What it should mean, what it traditionally means is a campaign has a sense of where their potential voters are and they go get them and they have a whole operation in order to do that.

And over the past, I don't know, maybe 10 years or so even more, the Republicans since Obama, the Republicans picked up on the way that President Obama did it in a masterful way and they learned from it and they used technology, and all of the advances in technology, so that what they have right now is -- and I went out in Western Pennsylvania where the Trump campaign right now was trying to boost its turnout even more than it did four years ago, which is why President Trump won Pennsylvania because the red areas went so big.

And on their phones, Anderson, they have an app. And on that app, it tells them which house to go to and when they get to that house, who to ask for and when they ask for that person, what the script is that will best try to persuade that voter based on what they know their likes and dislikes are.

I don't believe that the Democrats have anything like that, but much more importantly, because of COVID, Democrats pulled back for a really long time, Republicans never did.

COOPER: David, the President's path narrower than Biden's obviously as John was talking about, there is the path for him to win. We all know what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

She didn't spend time in Rust Belt states, polls ended up being wrong. What variables do you think could be employed this year?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What variables are in play? Well, I think right up until the election itself, the way that Donald Trump is responding to the pandemic is, I think is, they are giving him a lot of rope on the Democratic side and he is increasingly hanging himself.

You know, his comments today about doctors are, you know, are milking the system so they can get rich off the pandemic. It is just so odious, and to go after Laura Ingraham like that was just wrongheaded.

You know, I think increasingly for Americans, there are four days left before voters can rid us of this madman.

COOPER: John, I am looking at the industrial swing states. What do they tell us about the race right now? KING: And so let's drill down on that point, because I can game you on

so many 270 scenarios, to get it close. And then what do they come down to? Again, the three most spoken words in presidential politics since 2016, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

What are they looking at? This is Trump's map. This is Trump map from four years ago, right? Right now, in those three right there, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Joe Biden is leading, and he has leads six points to seven points even bigger when you count them out.

So what is the State of the Race in those? You're talking about the polls and the skepticism, and boy, do I get it and boy, do Democrats get it. But I just want to make a point here.

If you look at the national polls, our Poll of Polls, it is a 10-point average for Joe Biden, Michigan 51 to 43. So you see eight points there; 51 to 44, seven points in Pennsylvania; 52 to 43, nine points in Wisconsin.

So here's what the President needs, again, because Democrats think they are doing pretty well in early voting in these states in particular.

The President needs a mind-blowing Election Day turnout, not just a big turnout, not just a 2016 turnout. He means a mind-blowing turnout, because look where the President is 43 percent, 44 percent, 43 percent. Yes, Biden is about 50. But more significant is the President is stuck in the low 40s and he doesn't have the third-party candidates to help him this time.

He got 47.6 in Michigan four years ago. Getting from 43 to 47, he did that four years ago. It's not enough this time. Getting from 44 to 48 or 49 might not be enough in Pennsylvania. Forty-three to forty-eight might not be enough in Wisconsin.

So can he do it? Yes. People came out of the woodwork. They did a remarkable job. Dana notes, the turnout operation. They did a remarkable job four years ago. That's why Democrats are nervous. A lot of it also was organic for Trump. It has to happen again on an even bigger scale.

COOPER: Well, John, I mean, how -- you know, to Dana's point about the ground game and Democrats were, you know, slow to it because of COVID and trying to do it in a way that that's more responsible and protect election workers.

I mean, how confident should Democrats be about turnout on Election Day? I mean, if there's concerns in Florida about, you know, early turnout, early voting among African-Americans and Latino voters, why should they be confident about who turns out on Election Day?

[20:15:03]

KING: You will find different concerns in different states. Sometimes you find different concerns within the same state if it's a big and diverse state. Of course, they should be concerned. Number one, because in 2016,

PTSD. Number two, because even though the Trump campaign is short on cash right now, Dana is right, they build a very strong digital and technological operation.

Although there is a difference here, all the campaigns now have access to big data in a way they didn't. Every day is different in the age of big data. But here's another point, yes, Joe Biden is struggling some with Latinos, in some places, even a place like Pennsylvania could hurt him. It's not a big population. But if it's close, it matters.

However, when you see Joe Biden struggling maybe among black men here among Latino men there? Remember, that's true and that's not good for Biden, but he is also doing so much better among senior citizens than Hillary Clinton, so much better on white voters especially white men than Hillary Clinton, even better in the suburbs than Hillary Clinton.

So where Joe Biden is behind Hillary Clinton, there are other places where by leaps and bounds, he is ahead of Hillary Clinton cutting into the Trump coalition, and especially senior citizens vote.

BASH: And can I just add one --

COOPER: Yes, Dana.

BASH: I just want to add one thing, because I know that you seem really interested in the underperformance that Biden is seeing in Florida, particularly among African-American and Latino voters.

I've talked to a lot of Democrats about this today. What they argue, and the big question is whether they're right is that culturally, a lot of Latino voters and African-American voters really like to vote on Election Day.

But the fact that they are seeing, you know, kind of lower numbers than they had hoped, it really means they have to bank on that, particularly if Joe Biden has any chance of winning Florida, which, you know, could be game over for Donald Trump if that happens.

And you know, obviously, for all of these voters, they are not monolithic. But particularly in Florida, there's, you know, about a third of Latino voters are Cuban-Americans, those almost, for the most part, tend to vote Republican.

And then there's a new influx of Puerto Rican voters. That is where some Democrats are very worried that they are not seeing the kind of vote for Joe Biden that they had hoped.

COOPER: David.

GERGEN: Yes, I want -- I think we have to keep our eye also on the big story here, and that is the avalanche of voters who are coming out. We are over 90 million. We may be up to 100 million by Election Day, and I don't think that's ground game, particularly for any campaign.

I think it's something that's spontaneous. It's happening in the country where just tons and tons of people are coming out because they feel that democracy is at stake that we're in real trouble here. And most of those people appear to favor Joe Biden.

So I think there's something going on here that is bigger than all of us, and we don't really fully understand it. But it may be the basis for a big breakthrough kind of election on the Democratic Party.

COOPER: David, how -- what are you expecting just in terms of -- I mean, if it's close, you know, in votes, and this goes to the courts, I guess it's anybody's guess then what happens?

GERGEN: Well, there is mischief and mayhem down that trail as you well know, but I think you're right to point to, if Biden wins, but it's by a tiny margin, say one to three percent. There's no question that we're going to have a flock of new court cases. We're going to be in controversy.

If people are going to be on the streets, there's a possibility of guns and violence. There are all sorts of nightmare scenarios you can make of this, and some of which will wind up with Donald Trump as President.

But if he widens that lead, let's say it goes up eight, nine, and ten percent, then all things are, you know, the whole -- the whole focus is going to change. If he gets up to a high percentage Anderson. First of all, he makes the controversies go away. Secondly, he takes back the Senate. Thirdly, he takes back State Houses which are really important for redistricting over the next 10 years.

Fourthly, he increases his capacity to govern here at home and simply, he will change perception of him. Joe Biden's perception overseas, he will be a much stronger President if he can lift -- not just win, but win big.

COOPER: Yes. David Gergen, Dana Bash, John King, thank you so much. John is going to join us again later to talk more about what David was talking about, the massive surge of early voting.

Coming up next, bestselling author and columnist Thomas Friedman, who believes in his words, America itself is on the ballot on Tuesday.

And later, a new projection on COVID deaths. We'll see how much better it could be, if we all just wore a mask.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:22:25]

COOPER: More the 90,000 new COVID cases today and the President all in on lying about the pandemic. More than 86 million ballots cast and both candidates now campaigning as though everything is on the line and politically, of course it is.

Our next guest, Tom Friedman, bestselling author of thank you for being late and many others believes far more is at stake, as in everything that makes this country what it is. Quoting the lead paragraph and his latest piece in "The New York

Times" "There is no escaping it." He writes, "America is on the ballot on Tuesday, the stability and quality of our governing institutions, our alliances, how we treat one another, our basic commitment to scientific principles and the minimum decency that we expect from our leaders. The whole ball of wax is on the ballot."

And Tom Friedman joins us now. Tom, you say that it's not just America on the ballot and that this weekend, you said maybe the quote "last weekend of America." Can you explain what you mean by that?

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I'm sitting here in my home outside of D.C., Anderson, I'm really asking myself that question. Is this the last weekend of America as we know it, because it won't be certainly if Joe Biden wins the kind of landslide victory that you know, your previous commenters were talking about, if he can win a clear victory.

It won't be if Donald Trump wins a clear victory. But if Biden wins a narrow victory, it's very clear what the President is going to do. He is going to challenge every single ballot in every single state. He is going to try to drag out the counting, delegitimize as many votes as possible, and he will create a situation Anderson, where we will have something we have never had before, and we will not be able to elect a legitimate successor President to this President.

And when you break something like that, people need to appreciate when you break something like that, the United States of America and its ability to freely unfairly elect a legitimate successor. Getting it back when you break it, boy, that will be really, really hard. So I have a pit in my stomach.

COOPER: What are the ripple effects of say that's the scenario? It's too close -- you know, it's in the courts and the courts end up deciding, one candidate refuses to accept it, leaves, you know, whatever happens. What do you think the ripple effects are in that, both in the country and globally?

FRIEDMAN: Well, let's start with the country. You know, Al Gore, back in 2000 bowed to the will of the legitimate Supreme Court. Al Gore took a bullet for the country. Donald Trump will put a bullet into the country in order to stay in power. So let's start there.

I think if he does, I think Democratic voters who already feel raw and cheated about the way the last two Supreme Court seats were decided and installed in the court, already raw.

If they now see Trump actually try to steal the election by contesting legitimately cast ballots, I think people will be in the streets in very, very large numbers, and eventually, there will be violence.

And once it starts, you know, there's no predicting where it can go. When you break something like this incredible system we've been bequeathed by our forefathers, getting the toothpaste back in the in the tube will be really, really difficult. And that's why I pray there's only one body that can save us now,

Anderson, that the American people. You know, don't count on our Secretary of State or Attorney General or any of these senators. Forget it. It's over. It's too late.

The only thing that can save us is if the American people go out and the overwhelming majority of them vote for Joe Biden. And if I have one wish, Anderson, if you were my Genie and you said Tom, you get one wish, what would it be that would be the greatest thing for America?

The greatest thing for America would be is if Joe Biden won Texas, because if Joe Biden won Texas, it would break this fever in the Republican Party. It would blow that party up. The same moderate Republicans I think would reemerge. I could see then Biden actually forming a national unity government that would include everyone from AOC, you know, on one side to a few Republicans on the other.

We can actually get back to a national unity government, and the Trumpers, Donald Jr. and Donald Sr. and the whole clown car can go off on FOX and do their thing and start their own network, whatever they want.

But my real hope is if somehow, Texas, I will even take Georgia -- I'll even take Georgia, Anderson, because that would blow up this version of the Republican Party and give us what we desperately need, which is a truly Conservative Party, not a cult of Trump, because we won't have a healthy Liberal Party if we don't have a healthy Conservative Party.

COOPER: If former Vice President Biden wins Texas, you think that could be a watershed moment for the Republican Party? Can you --

FRIEDMAN: Exactly. That's what I'm saying. It will force the reckoning. If they lose Texas, that will be such a shock to the system, that it'll be the same kind of shock that the two wins that Obama gave them that they were a force of reckoning.

And remember, they did this whole study, you know, to why did we lose, we didn't reach out to Hispanics and minorities and women and deal with issues like climate, and then Trump just derailed that whole rethink of Republicanism, and turned it into the cult of Trump, which has been so unhealthy for the conservative movement for conservative ideas, and so unhealthy for the country. Because we need a healthy Conservative Party.

If we have a healthy conservative party that actually can collaborate with a healthy Liberal Party, we can get back to being the country we want to be in need to be.

COOPER: You write in the latest op-ed in "The New York Times" about the President saying, if we re-elect him -- this is a quote, "If we re-elect him knowing what a norm-destroying divisive corrupt liar he is, and the world will not treat the last four years as an aberration, it will treat them as an affirmation that we've changed. The world will not just look at America differently, but Americans differently, and with good reasons." Well, I mean, what about the idea that America is bigger than any one

leader?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, it really is this idea that every democracy or many democracies in their histories, Anderson, have taken a flyer on a populist, fast talking, you know, conman.

You know, I come from Minnesota. We had a governor. We took a flyer on like that. Yes, it happens in history. You can do it once. But when you do it twice, then it's no longer about who he is. It's about who you are.

The whole world will look differently at us, if we were to reaffirm and re-elect this man. Because then the world will actually start looking at us, really like it looks at Russia and China, just another transactional country.

They will look at us as a country that decided to change the Statue of Liberty from giving your tired your poor, you know, those seeking, you know, to be free, yearning to be free to get the hell off my lawn.

That's what the Statue of Liberty will be saying, "Get the hell off my lawn." And that will affect the whole world. Because, you know, Anderson, the world likes to make fun of America. You know, they love to make fun of our naivete. We think every problem has a solution, you know, but deep down, they envy our naivete.

[20:30:00]

They envy our optimism because these are people who come often from very cynical and corrupt countries. And the fact that they always know out there in the world that this is place called America, somewhere over the rainbow, where they do have free and fair, honest elections, where you can get things done in the court without corruption, knowing that that place is out there, and then actually will speak up for human rights and the right values around the world, that is so important for the world. And if we go dark, the whole world goes dark.

COOPER: The -- I mean, have you seen the country on edge like it has been in these I mean, in the final days?

FRIEDMAN: Never in my life, I just know how I feel. I feel with my family and my friends. I have a hard time watching the news. I just -- because I think, as I said, in that column, Anderson, America is on the ballot. Don't kid yourself, folks. Everything's on the ballot. And if there is one thing we have learned about Trump, he does not stop at red lights. There is no bottom there. This is a man also, I think we should come to terms with the fact people are hoping that his followers will see the light or whatever. He told us early on, he told us early on that he can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers will stay with him. And in those rallies you were showing before you know, I came on, you can still see that.

The important thing also about defeating Trump Anderson is this. The Good Lord, he did one good thing for us. He only made one of him. Thank God, he only made one of him. And if he is defeated, I don't think you will see someone like that emerge very quickly again. Thank God.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

FRIEDMAN: Always a pleasure.

COOPER: Want to show everyone this Joe Biden in Milwaukee right now part of an intense sweep to the Midwest, these final days of the campaign. Early voting numbers key right now for both candidates obviously. Just ahead, we're going to take a look at those record breaking numbers, particularly in another area of the country in Texas, just how big they are and what they may mean for Democrats trying to turn a red state blue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:49]

COOPER: This past several nights we've been tracking where the biggest stories the selection, the explosion in early voting numbers, nearly 87 million have already voted across the nation. Texas leading the way it's early voting operation wrapped up today but not before logging more votes just during the early voting period than it did during the entire general election four years ago, was still more votes expected of course on Election Day.

Breaking down for us, CNN's John King. John? So, the early numbers, they're really astonishing, it passing the entire vote count for 2016. What does that tell us?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, number one, what it does tell us is that Texas is in play this year, and the people are excited to vote whether it's the pandemic for safety reasons, or intensity, they're coming out. What it doesn't tell us is the Democrats can win, doesn't tell us they can win. But, just imagine this scenario, Anderson, this is the map from 2016. Right. This is the map from 2016. We focus a lot, we talked earlier in the program, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, this was the blue wall, Donald Trump cracked it, can Joe Biden rebuild it? That is the challenge. We're right to talk about that, the election could come down to that. But imagine this, just imagine if the Democrats actually flip Texas, look what would happen if nothing else changed, if nothing else changed from the last election in 2016. If all the Clinton states stayed blue, we expect that it's a possibility a couple of them are in play. But if all the Clinton states voted, and then the Democrats flip Texas, Joe Biden would win the presidency.

The Democrats could win the presidency without Wisconsin without Michigan without Pennsylvania without North Carolina without Florida, and so on and so forth. That is why it is such an enticing prize. Can they get it this year? Unclear. We'll know in four days, but if they get it added to California, added to New York, that we would rewrite the map of American politics. If the Democrats could get Texas that's why they're trying.

COOPER: You've covered a lot of presidential campaigns, Texas, but it hasn't gone blue since Jimmy Carter '76. Are you surprised the state is so competitive this year?

KING: Yes and no. I went to Texas a couple times in my first campaign because that was '88 and Michael Dukakis picked Lloyd Bentsen, then the Texas Senator to be his running mate. He thought that would help. It didn't. Dukakis last 40 states. But let me pull out Texas again. I said yes and no. Yes. I'm surprised because Texas is changing demographically. It is becoming more Latino. But one of the frustrations for Democrats is going back to George W. Bush. Republicans have a pretty good relationship with Latinos here. Watch, Donald Trump will probably do better with Latinos in Texas than he does nationally because of that long standing conversation back and forth between Texas Republicans and Latinos. The no is this Donald Trump is accelerating the change in the suburbs, the suburbs revolted in 2018. In 2018, Democrats picked up a House seat here near Dallas. Democrats picked up a House seat here Houston. There are at least two House seats this time the Democrats can pick up.

So the Democrats think the suburban revolt against President is accelerating the transition in Texas. Again, will they get there? We can't be sure Anderson, we're going to have to watch. But you mentioned the early voting. In Dallas County, it is setting records, in suburban Tarrant County next to it, it is setting records. And the biggest place of all to watch is one of the fastest growing places in America, Harris County, it is off the charts. If the Democrats can rack up Latino numbers, suburban numbers, they have a chance to read do the map.

COOPER: John King, appreciate it. Perspective now from two veterans a previous presidential campaign, Stuart Stevens, political consultant and writer, worked on five Republican campaigns and Paul Begala, a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist.

So, Paul as a Texan, a veteran campaign operative. Do you believe that he has a shot in Texas?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, yes. And I say that as someone who has watched the Democrats lose, they have lost in the last 25 years. There have been 180 statewide elections in Texas. The Democrats have lost let me think wait 180.

COOPER: Yes. And also, I just feel like the last couple years I keep hearing about a Beto O'Rourke was going to win Texas and Hillary Clinton there was talking about her in Texas. I mean, it doesn't it never seems to amount to much.

BEGALA: Well, but that -- Beto got very close, right. Usually Democrats would lose by solid double digits. Hillary was closer in Texas than she was in Iowa, the state Obama carried. Here's why, it's what King is saying in part he's wrong about one thing he's wrong about most things, but this is particularly Hispanics and I love John we go way back. Hispanics in Texas are trending much more Democratic than they were in the Bush era. This is not George W. Bush's Texas. And in fact, Kamala Harris today went to -- she went to Fort Worth went to Houston and very smart. Most importantly, she went to McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley. That's what I'm worried about. The turnout there has not been very high. [20:40:16]

Half of Hispanics in Texas live south of San Antonio to the river and from East Texas to El Paso that South Texas is vitally important. I've been campaigning and get Barack Obama down there. He could turn them out. He could flip the state. It's the changing demographics, but also these changing attitudes of white people. The suburbanites are flocking to Joe Biden and MJ Hegar. MJ is the senate candidate there. She's a war hero. She's a total badass Texas woman. So yes, yes. And I get I say this as somebody's beat there like a bad piece of meat. Texas can play, Texas can very easily go blue.

COOPER: Stuart, I mean, the Trump campaign Republicans have been using the courts to try and block mail-in votes from being counted suing to strike down mail-in ballot extensions. What does it tell you that Trump campaign seemingly wants fewer people voting in this election? How do you square that with the fundamental tenants of democracy?

STUART STEVENS, POLITCAL CONSULTANT: There's nothing new about this. This is just classic sort of Jim Crow politics updated for modern era. It's the same principle that everybody votes we're going to lose. And just what does that say about a party? It's terrible. Trump world exists in America that no longer exists. Therefore, they have to try to reconstruct a world in which they -- sort of like their own alternative reality. They have to try to increase the number of white votes by decreasing the number of non-white votes. One of the key reasons that Donald Trump won in 2016 was non-white vote declined for the first time in 20 years. I sure don't think that's going to happen this time. I think we're going to have off the charts non white vote.

In 2012 --

COOPER: Although, although some Democrats, Stuart some Democrats concerned about African-American early voting of, you know, the low numbers are not as high as expected among African-Americans and some Hispanics in Florida and a couple other states, Arizona and elsewhere.

STEVENS: I think when the day is done, you're going to see a lot higher than you did in 2016. You may not see in 2012, which is the first time that non-white vote was a higher percentage than white vote of their turnout. But I think you're definitely going to see it increased. And, you know, you're seeing as you say, with these white votes to the Trump campaign is losing the Donald Trump is losing. I think it's going to really hurt these down tickets Senate candidate. They're used to getting those votes. I think there's a lot of the senators are going to fall because of that.

COOPER: Paul, campaigns all over the Midwest today. If you were running the Biden campaign, where would you be deploying your resources? I know you said you want Obama to go to Texas.

BEGALA: I actually think where they're sending Joe and Kamala is exactly right. You can't take your eyes off the prize. If you rebuild that blue wall, much as I want. Texas, by the way, I think Georgia is going to flip more likely than even Texas. But much as I want those states, you got to repair the damage done in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. The Democrats have been working very, very hard there. And I was struck at the closing arguments. Joe's closing argument is about healing, both literal with COVID as we lost now 292,000 Americans and metaphorical. I think that's where the country is.

The President's though his message is change. I'm curious what Stuart thinks about this. In 2016 at the end, especially it was about your grievances, on trade, on immigration, things that make you angry. Now, it's just his grievances. He's whining about the media. He's even whining about the weather. Why do I have to be an eerie? Even when he talks about COVID and the collapse it's about how it affects him. So, you know, he's lost the thread of even that which worked for him in 2016.

COOPER: Stuart, what do you think that?

STEVENS: I think Paul's right is a white grievance candidate. The problem he has now is that the greatest grievance that America has is COVID and he denies COVID. He's out there now attacking doctors saying there's some plot to kill people because they'll make more money. I mean, I just really don't think attacking doctors is a great closing message for a presidential race in the middle of a pandemic. It's just completely a tonal. So, they're floundering. And I think that the message of Joe Biden is one that it's just -- it's very calming, it's very consistent with who he is. And it just seems real. He's a man who can speak to healing and grief in a unique way.

COOPER: Stuart Stevens, Paul Begala, appreciate it. Thanks.

BEGALA: Thanks.

COOPER: Just ahead the biggest issue this campaign the coronavirus is steep -- as we were just talking about, the President trying to downplay it, but a new estimate shows just how much more deadly it may become this winter. Far from rounding the turn. That discussion when we return.

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[20:48:15]

COOPER: A quick note about the last segment one of our guests said that 290,000 Americans die of COVID, the actual number is lower it's 229,000. Earlier, we showed you President Trump at a rally today insinuating the doctors are inflating the numbers of those dead from the coronavirus. Again, they're not, it's obscene that the President is suggesting this, seems odd to be attacking the very people who are defending us and trying to save lives and in fact, maybe save the President's life from this virus.

According to newly released model, the number of dead could be 399,000 by February 1st. That's an increase of 15,000 since just the last estimate.

Joining me now is Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the University of Washington whose team published the models. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So Dr. Murray, the latest forecast, it's possibly the most dire we've ever seen it predicts by the middle of January to 2,250 Americans will be dying every day from coronavirus. I mean, that's more than double the current fatality rate. Can you just explain how you got that?

CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIV. OF WASHINGTON: Sure, Anderson. It's that, you know, we're entering the full winter surge that's really largely being driven by COVID being seasonal. And so, we expect increased transmission. Look what's happening in Europe, they're going into major lockdown, because they're three, four weeks ahead of us. And then the other factor is that our governments are not responding to the uptick in cases hospitalizations and now deaths. And put the two together. and we have a very grim winter ahead.

COOPER: I mean, what a sentence our governments are not responding to the uptaken cases. Sanjay, I know you have a question for Dr. Murray. And I just want to know we've you know, crossed 90,000 cases in single day for the first time.

[20:50:04]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Dr. Murray, you just talked about Europe and, you know, that they do seem to be a bit of a precursor for us as we are watching them in the spring. But are there lessons then that we should be taking from the EU? And is there some indication that the United States is going to behave any differently? Or is this sort of preordained at this point?

MURRAY: Well, I think what we're seeing in Europe, it's pretty interesting. You know, there's a lot of discussion across the different countries in Europe, different strategies. But suddenly, I think, as you've had, you know, basically five or six weeks of exponential growth, people are hitting the panic button there and going back into very strict lockdown in some countries. The big question is, can we use things like, you know, universal mask use, you know, avoiding large gatherings and having people who have the ability to work from home? You know, stay working from home, can we use that to put off the time when we're going to be forced into much more strict lockdown. And I think that's the challenge for us as a nation.

COOPER: And you think it's inevitable that there will be stricter lockdowns?

MURRAY: You know, I think if you look at our scenario around, you know, 95% of people wearing masks, a lot of states can put off mandates, you know, right, well into the winter, maybe throughout the whole winter. You look at what happened in Victoria State in Australia, they were able to get mask use up for, you know, incredibly high levels in a very short period of time. So, if we can do that we can defer lockdowns for many months.

COOPER: So, you're saying that if states, if they don't react to the rising cases by enacting stricter mandates, then you project 399,000 total coronavirus deaths by February 1st. And that could rise to 514,000 deaths if, is that right?

MURRAY: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

MURRAY: (INAUDIBLE) is trying to build into the modeling what we think states will do. And we think when things get really bad if you wait till it's really late, and then put back in social distancing measures, that's where we get our 399,000 figure. And if you do nothing, you get a much worse winter ahead. And that's the 500,000 plus figure. But I think we can use things like masks to bring the not only save lives, but also put off having to put these much stricter controls in place. You know, in our numbers this week, we see that 18 states are going to have real stress on their ICUs in the month of December, in January, maybe actually, you know, overcapacity. And that's a real, real prospect on the horizon.

GUPTA: Dr. Murray, I mean, we talked about the overall number of people who are infected, but the hospitalization numbers, as you're mentioning, you think that that's probably the truest sort of measure of what's actually happening in the country? I mean, I wonder if you agree with that. But also, when you talk about this stress, do you have the data to be able to really predict how much stress there's going to be on these hospital systems? Just -- I've been trying to get this data myself, different counties, different states, sometimes it's hard to obtain? Do you have the data? And do you think that that's going to be the truest sort of measure of what's happening here?

MURRAY: So hospitalizations are definitely our best measure. They're a leading indicator in front of deaths, and they don't suffer from the sensitivity of the case numbers to who you test and how much you test.

GUPTA: Right.

MURRAY: So, we really put a lot of faith in hospitalization numbers, we don't have all the data and we know and it was, it's been in the media this week, that the government has really good data on daily hospitalizations, by hospital, by age, by sex, you know, by race, ethnicity, they're not releasing it to the public, it would be a really a big help for us to understand where we are in the epidemic. And who's going to have, you know, hospitals that are severely under stress going forward.

GUPTA: So, I are they releasing that data? I'm just curious. I mean, because I've been trying to get it as well.

MURRAY: You know, I wrote an editorial in the New York Times about this. And quite honestly, I don't know it's in so much in the public's interest, to have that data out for the whole of the public, the media, the research community be to help guide us through the course of the epidemic. The only thing I can imagine is that there are things in the data that they don't really, you know, want the public discussing.

COOPER: Wow, geez. That's where we are. That's the reality now. Sanjay, thank you, Dr. Murray. As always, thank you so much for your work. We appreciate your time.

There's more breaking news next, a day after Walmart announces it was pulling guns and ammunition from the sale -- from the sales aisles over concerns of social unrest. The company changes course. Details when we continue.

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[20:58:50]

COOPER: There's breaking news tonight, a day after Walmart announced it would remove firearms and ammunition from its sales aisles. It abruptly changed course. In its original statement yesterday the retailer said it was taking the move because of what it called isolated civil unrest and was removing firearms and ammunition as a quote precaution for the safety of our associates and our customers. Walmart spokesman said one reason was that several of its stores were damaged earlier this week. Company said guns and ammo would still be available for purchase.

Late today, however the company said the products would begin to return to sales floors, the reason those incidents have remained quote geographically isolated according to Walmart spokesperson. Back in June, Walmart instituted similar measures in some of its stores following a nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Reminder, after a race like no other, join us for election results though only CNN can bring it to you. See what's happening in your state across the country during our election night in America coverage, on Tuesday it starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern when it ends, we shall see.

One more programming note will be with you all weekend with special editions of "360" on both Saturday and Sunday. So tomorrow and Sunday night from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern, hope you join me for that.

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

[21:00:01]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You are our Iron Man Anderson. I'll be watching and then I'll be at the ready for you until these ends. Get some rest when you can.