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Trump And Biden Campaigns Focus On Battleground States; CNN Polls Show Biden Leads In Michigan And Wisconsin; Record-Breaking 90- Plus Million Early Votes Cast; Legal Battles Over 2020 Ballots; CNN Poll: Tight Race In Northern Carolina. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 31, 2020 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. Anderson Cooper picks up CNN Special Coverage of the countdown to Election Day, and that starts right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Less than three days to go, candidates, running mates, surrogates and other heavy headers are blanketing battleground states, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin.

Nobody is coasting to the finish, because unlike past elections, nobody knows where the finish line might be or what lies beyond it, because already we're seeing difficulties in the number of places. People taking part in a Black Lives Matter and soles (ph) the polls march were met by police with pepper spray.

A Raleigh news and observer repots the racially diverse group of about 200 people walked to the police escort from a local AME church to the county courthouse where they held a rally encouraging people to vote. According to the paper, there was a moment of silence for George Floyd, police told the crowd to disperse and then started spraying and making arrests.

One mother telling the paper who had two kids, one 11 and the other just five were hit. Police say that protesters hadn't followed proper protocol for holding the event, that they only use pepper spray they said, when the crowd refused to disperse. They also said the chemicals were sprayed on the ground and not directly at anyone but some of the crowd said that wasn't the case.

Today was the final day of early voting in the state. In some state, New Hampshire, for one, ballots are being processed, and others, they're being challenged in the court, or the subject of judicial oversight because they're getting tied up in the mail.

Meantime, as we said, the candidates are focused on the key swing states, the president soon making the last of four stops today in Pennsylvania, which he won so narrowly last time, pinning a very dark picture of what happens if we do not know the winner on election night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to be waiting. November 3rd is going to come and go and we're not going to know. And you're going to have bedlam in our country. And you're going to have this period of nine days, or seven days, or whatever it is, and many bad things.


COOPER: Joe Biden making three stops today in Michigan with former President Obama beginning at Keystone State shout-out and a boost from Bruce Springsteen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scranton, Pennsylvania. Here, success isn't handed down. It's forged with sweat, grit and determination. This is his hometown.


COOPER: And with the big names hitting the air waves and Air Force One racking up air miles, we got a fresh look at the ground truth (ph). New CNN polling just out showing a Biden advantage in battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan, tight races in Arizona and North Carolina and perhaps most significantly, very little movement in each state. We'll take you through the battleground states tonight, both the traditional and the unexpected ones.

We've got reporters in the key places throughout the country and we'll look at the ballot challenges, the fears of voter intimidation and post-election violence, what to look for in the final polling and, of course, the pandemic that is raging out of control, nearly 100,000 new cases yesterday. The reporting is slower on the weekend, but even so, the case numbers so far tonight are staggering, nearly 66,000 that we know about at this hour.

So there's a lot to bring you over the next two hours starting with CNN's Arlette Saenz in Detroit, the Biden/Obama event just happen. So how did things go with President Obama and Vice President Biden on the trail together?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama reprised their campaign road show appearing here in this important battleground state of Michigan. And you heard the former vice president personally speak to Joe Biden's ability to serve in the White House, talking about their time in office and stressing how he has the skills needed to become commander in chief.

But you also heard the former president go after President Donald Trump, presenting that contrast between Trump and Biden and their leadership style and in how they are approaching the coronavirus pandemic at a time when cases across the Midwest, including states like Michigan are rising. Take a listen to what he had to say a short while ago here in Detroit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Three days, three days to put an end to a presidency that has divided this nation. Three days, we can put an end to a presidency that's failed to protect this nation. Three days, we can put an end to a president that's fanned the flames of hate all across the nation.

America has heard, I believe the message is going to be loud and clear. It's time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home.


SAENZ: So that was the message from the former vice president. And you also heard Obama and Biden both talking about the importance of Obamacare and the fact that it protects pre-existing conditions. And the Biden campaign really feels that President Obama can help motivate voters like black voters, Latinos and young voters.


And this was not Obama's last stop for Biden. He will also be campaigning on that final day before the election. And he will be campaigning in South Florida and Georgia.

But take a listen to a bit more of what the former president had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: What's his obsession with crowds anyway? I mean, he is still worrying -- he is still talking about his inauguration crowd being small, although he doesn't admit it.

And that's the difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump right there. Trump cares about feeding his ego. Joe cares about keeping you safe and your family safe and getting this country moving again.


COOPER: Arlette, what was the calculation behind having President Obama and Vice President Biden appear together in Michigan as supposed to other battleground states?

SAENZ: Well, they decided to come here to Michigan as this is one of those states that they are trying to re-establish the blue wall. This is a state that President Trump narrowly won back in 2016 after Obama and Biden won this state in 2008 and in their 2012 campaign. And so they are trying to put in that work in these final days saying that they're not taking anything for granted.

And they had that simple message for voters to just get out there and turn out and vote. They want to make sure that they don't repeat any of the mistakes that were made from last time around.

So they campaigned here in an area like Detroit, which has a significant African-American population. And you heard President Obama talk about how they need to not become complacent like they were last time heading into this election.

COOPER: And just -- you talked about President Obama's (INAUDIBLE), were does Biden go for the last two days.

SAENZ: So it's going to be all eyes on Pennsylvania in this final stretch before the election. Joe Biden will be campaigning tomorrow in Philadelphia and then the former vice president, Kamala Harris and their spouses are fanning out across the state of Pennsylvania on Monday, as they are trying to re-establish that blue wall and win back one of those states that President Trump flipped in 2016. Anderson?

COOPER: Arlette Saenz, appreciate it.

Next, North Central Pennsylvania where the president is holding the last of four events in the state, Joe Johns is joining us for that.

So, Joe, you're at the rally where the president is due to speak at 8:00 P.M. What's been going on there? What's been the message so far today?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's been a number of messages, Anderson, quite frankly. It's a long day for the president here in Pennsylvania. This will be the fourth stop in the Keystone State for Mr. Trump.

Now, among the things that have been going on, the president has really hit hard on the idea that he's concerned about a recent Supreme Court case which opened the door, if you will, of a possibility that ballots, mail-in ballots here in Pennsylvania can be accepted up to three days after the voting ends. The president talked about that at the very beginning of the day. Listen to what he had to say.

COOPER: We're clearly having problems --

JOHNS: I'm not hearing it.

COOPER: We're having problems getting that, Joe.

JOHNS: Okay.

COOPER: So that's clearly been an issue that he's been focused on.

The president also made four stops in Pennsylvania. How confident are he and his allies that they can pull out another win there like they did four years ago?

JOHNS: Anderson, I'm sorry. I can't hear you. Were you asking a question?

COOPER: Yes, how confident is the campaign about Pennsylvania?

JOHNS: Right. I can tell you this. This has been an extraordinary day for the president. It's all about getting out the vote, if you will, obviously, in these final days. And if the president of the United States can get out his vote here in the rural parts of Pennsylvania, while at the same time keeping it close in the areas like Philadelphia, as well as Pittsburgh, where there's a lot more minority vote, a lot more Biden vote, if you will, then he thinks he's done his job and he can keep it very close.

So to that end, one of the strategies the president seems to have is to talk, if you will, about the African-American vote, particularly black men and claiming Biden has been insensitive at the very least to the needs of black men. Example, the 1994 crime bill, something the president has talked about before. He's also talked about his economic plans, which he says have been crafted to help African-Americans. Not necessarily thinking he's going to get much more votes but certainly hoping some black men will stay home and that would inure to his benefit.


The president has also been pushing hard on the Latino vote. And as you know, Anderson, there's a lot of concern on the Democratic side about what kind of minority vote Joe Biden is going to get on Tuesday.

COOPER: Yes. Joe Johns, appreciate it, in little league country (ph). Thanks very much.

Coming up next, to break down the new polling, Boston's own heavy hitter, John King, at the magic wall. Later, Texas allegation highway intimidation by Trump supporters at a Biden campaign bus on the road to San Antonio to Austin, some massive early voting, ballot challenges and more. Former Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke joins us as well.


COOPER: As you saw before the break, you can see now Donald Trump is running a bit late, about to close out a full day in Pennsylvania, which he won last time but where he is now trailing in the polls. And as we said at the top, there is new CNN polling on several other tightly-fought states. Chief National Correspondent John King joins us now from the magic wall.

So the new CNN polling time, what can you tell us?


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, let's look at the numbers and let's go to the 2016 map. This is 2020. We'll fill it in starting Tuesday. But let's look at it from the 2016 map and help us understand the significance. We'll go west to east.

New poll for CNN in Arizona tonight, and look at this, a four-point Biden lead, a four-point Biden lead. That's close. The president is in play. If Joe Biden could win this state, it would take it away, it would certainly take away the president's math there in Arizona. It was a four-point race four years ago.

Let's come east now, this one is very significant. We have a six-point lead in our new poll for Joe Biden in North Carolina. That's a must- win for Trump. Arizona has two, or at least in most scenario. But right now, six-point lead, 51-45. The president stuck in the mid 40's. Again, you could call this competitive. Advantage Biden now in North Carolina, which is critical.

Now we move up to the Midwest, the blue wall state. Remember, this is why Donald Trump is president, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Look at the numbers in Michigan, Anderson, 12-point lead for Joe Biden. It's significant that he's above 50, but the president at 41. That's a problem for an incumbent. In the late campaign, you can't expect a lot of people to break your way if you're the incumbent and you're at 41. That's a problem for the president there.

And we move over to Wisconsin, another big Trump surprise four years ago. But right now, look how close this was four years ago. 47.8 to 47. Joe Biden has a 12 points lead, 52 and, again, 44. The president once again stuck in the mid 40's. So that's a problem for the president in a state he won four years ago.

Just one other poll tonight, Anderson, it's not a CNN poll, but it's an important poll. The Des Moines register poll, Mediacom and Selzer poll in Iowa, 48 for Trump, 41. That one has been very close. This is just one poll. But it does show some evidence perhaps the Trump campaign has been saying, the Midwest would come back. The Iowa poll suggests maybe.

COOPER: And just in terms of the path to 270 for each candidate, does the new polling change the outlook?

KING: There's a couple of interesting way to look at this. So let's do it, let me start it this way. Let me switch the maps and get to our path to 270. And let's start with this.

This is Donald Trump's map four years ago. So I think of our new polling in the context of this, right? If you think about it, if Joe Biden is winning Arizona and Joe Biden is winning North Carolina and Joe Biden wins Michigan and Wisconsin, Joe Biden is the next president of the United States, if he holds the other Clinton states.

He would not have to win Pennsylvania, he would not have to win Florida, he would not have to win Ohio, he would not have to win Iowa, he would not have to (INAUDIBLE) in Texas. I know you'll be talking to Beto O'Rourke a little bit later. Joe Biden could win just by winning those four states right there. That's one way to look at it.

Now, let's flip it and look at it in a different way, and we'll start from here in this map. What I've done here, you see all that gold (ph), take away all of the states that are not solid. Keep all of the solid Trump states. Keep all the solid Biden states. Now, let's go through this scenario.

First, let's assume the president's team is right. Let's give them -- they say they're going to have this overwhelming Election Day surge of voters. Let's say the Iowa polls proof of that and the president is going to get Iowa. And let's say the Arizona was close in our poll, that that surge is enough to overcome the lead there.

Well, if you're winning Arizona, and you're a Republican, then you're winning Texas. If that surge is real, you get Florida and Georgia. That is the president assume you're getting Iowa, and then you'll going to get Ohio. Right the Midwest, you're people are coming back out just like they did, rural areas, and let's say the president gets North Carolina.

Now, let's pause for a minute and, say, look, Joe Biden -- this is a hypothetical. Let's say Joe Biden gets the Clinton states. He wins New Hampshire, he wins Minnesota, he wins Colorado, he wins Nevada. Now, let's just split the two Congressional districts. President Trump won them both last time. I've seen polling that shows Joe Biden with a pretty healthy lead in Maine. Let's give him that one. This polling that chose Joe Biden will have a pretty healthy lead out here in Nebraska as well.

But let's give this one to President Trump. So then what happens? If our polls are right, and Joe Biden has those big double-digit leads here and here, 259, 259. There's a reason the president's making four stops in Pennsylvania today, Anderson. In some scenarios, it comes down to that. 20 electoral votes right there and potentially lawsuits all the way to the Supreme Court.

COOPER: Wow, it's going to be interesting.

KING: It is.

COOPER: Yes, to say the least, understatement. John King, thanks very much.

Early voting records are being eclipsed as you know across the country. Up next, we'll dig into the numbers, whether they tell at all which party may benefit when it comes to the final count.



COOPER: More than 90 million Americans have either already voted in person or mailed in their ballots, more than 90 million, it's amazing. That represents almost 2/3 of the entire votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.

All this while those new CNN battleground polls we've been discussing, since Joe Biden is maintaining his lead in some states, let's get perspective now from Van Jones, a former Senior Adviser for President Obama, and CNN Political Commentator. Former Pennsylvania Republican Senator, Rick Santorum. Senior CNN Political Commentator, and CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, the new polls Joe Biden leading in Michigan and Wisconsin, tighter races in Arizona and North Carolina. What do they tell you in these final days?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That the path and the kind of rhythm of this race is still where it was, that the upper Midwest is and always has been the Biden campaign's belief that it is their best shot at kind of returning the Trump states back to blue, rebuilding that blue wall, so to speak. And it is the states that historically have been more red but have demographic shifts, Arizona and North Carolina, that are, in one case, in the margin of error, in one case just outside the margin of error in Biden's benefit.

The open question is whether the shifts are happening fast enough to benefit Biden. And I'm talking about expansion of the suburbs in both Arizona and North Carolina, the younger voters in both states, and that is one of the story lines. The major story lines of the 2020 election is the kind of shift of some of these states and whether or not we're in a transition period and whether the next election will kind of bring it totally along or whether this is the time where that's going to happen.


COOPER: Van, this Des Moines register poll showing Trump leading Biden by seven points, they were tied last month in the state of Iowa. What's your read on that?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Terrified, freaked out, scared. Look, we don't know what's going on out there. You know, there are two different forces that are hard to poll for. One is could there be kind of a growing MAGA wave? Are people watching this stuff at home and seeing all these African-Americans and liberals standing in long lines.

And you know I've got to go vote. I'm worried now as a Republican, I'm going to go and vote. Are you seeing something that's being galvanized here, that's hard to track?

On the other hand, is there a youth quake coming? You know, you could have a bunch of young voters who are also not likely voters but who -- you know, they have -- between the Black Lives Matter, and the climate stuff, and the gun control, they might be moving in a way you can't track.

We don't know what's going on out there. It's going to come down to Tuesday and we'll see it. But when you see something like that in a state like Iowa, if you know anything at all, you get freaked out and scared. That's -- everybody is watching it. That was a shock to us. And, Lord, I hope it's wrong.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, what do you see in Iowa and Pennsylvania, which you know very well, and elsewhere?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I've spent a lot of time in Iowa too. And the Des Moines register poll is pretty much the gold standard. I can go back to my race back in 2012 and they were the only one that saw my race shaping up the way it did and it broke late.

And so I -- you know, certainly, as a Republican, I'm very encouraged by that. You know, It sounds to me like, you know, maybe the Midwest is coming home and that, you know, Iowa borders Minnesota, it borders Wisconsin. So that could portend well for Trump on those two states. He only really needs one of those two along with, as you saw John King's map, the other states have been trying -- you know, that are generally Republican states like Arizona, and Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

So on Pennsylvania, which obviously I know a little bit about too, I've been talking to a lot of folks up there in the last few days, and everybody has the same message no matter where across the board, and that is that the Trump campaign is the one that's out there. They're the most visible. They're on the ground. There's a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm and that there is a surge. They feel it. That's what I keep saying.

And I had one guy who follows these things about as close as anybody in Pennsylvania, says, I feel eerily optimistic. And because I talked to him three weeks ago after the first debate, and he said, this is over, we're going to get creamed, we're going to lose the House, we're going to lose the state Senate, and now he's not saying those things.

COOPER: Go ahead, Van.

JONES: Now, look, you know part of the reason Democrats might feel better we would otherwise is because some of these votes have already been locked in, they have already bank, that kind of stuff. And so the surge coming this late has to overcome a lot. But I'm hearing similar stuff from the red parts of Pennsylvania and people are starting to rally. I also know a bunch of people in Philadelphia that are also starting to rally.

So it's going to be a -- the brawl to settle it all in Pennsylvania.

COOPER: Van, I'm wondering, you know, there -- I was seeing reports just the last couple of days about concerns about early voting by African-Americans, Latinos in Florida, Arizona and some other states.

JONES: Being low?


JONES: Yes. You know, we're seeing that as well. You know, it's very, very hard to figure out how much of this early vote is Democrats kind of going to cannibalizing their only day of vote. And there is a concern especially -- Trump has contended so hard for African-American men in a way that's unprecedented for Republican nominee, it could be having an effect. It seems to be having some kind of an effect.

Of course, African-American men, probably 85 percent are going to vote against him, but that's going to be different than 88, 89 percent we're used to, that could have an impact.

BASH: And that's really the key, Anderson. So much of what we are seeing right now is hard for anybody who has either run for office, like Senator Santorum, or covered politics or worked in politics for years because of the unbelievable early voting. I mean, it is absolutely astronomical. 90 million people have voted already, north of 40 percent of registered voters in this country.

And the other, you know, thing that we just don't know and won't know until all of the votes have been counted is the youth vote. Van talked about this. That is exploding across the battleground states, particularly in a place like Georgia, we have seen. And what kind of an effect will that have? We just don't know, which, you know, not to sound corny, but makes our jobs exciting.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, what do you -- for you, what are the biggest unknowns?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, I think the last two points that were made, I mean, the youth vote.


And you can make the argument, obviously, that Donald Trump isn't popular among the youth, but one of the things that I think if you're a young person and you feel like most young people do, which is coronavirus, is not that big of concern to you, because it doesn't have a particularly negative effect on the health of young people, you know, vis-a-vis the older people.

You know, the contrast that Donald Trump is trying to lay out between Joe Biden trying -- you know, doing what Europe is doing right now, which is shutting everything down. And that Biden will be like Boris Johnson, will be like Angela Merkel, and will shut this economy down. If you're a young person, that's not a particularly enticing thing to hear and -- because that's going to have a huge impact on you, and your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

So that may be part of the thing that's going on. And I've heard the same thing in Philadelphia, votes are down in the city of Philadelphia, particularly in the African-American community. And I'm also hearing strange things about actually Trump doing disproportionally well in that community. I don't believe that, to be honest with you. But the fact that the votes are down is an encouraging sign for Trump.

JONES: I think that most of the young people I know who are going to vote are there they can imagine four more years of this chaos. You have the most diverse generation in the history of America, maybe the most diverse generation in history of the world. And they have friends who are Muslim and are afraid to walk out of their houses. They're seeing, you know, babies ripped away from their moms at the border. I think you have the -- I think if there is a youth quake, they're not worrying about Angela Merkel, they're worrying about what's happening to their friends and their -- and their network.

BASH: And I'll just add, I just did a story on the youth vote. And obviously, in recent years, younger people have been trending more to the left and more towards Democrats. But historically, I think Senator Santorum is right, that is not the case. And I went out with kids that young people at UVA and they were knocking on doors for Republicans, their college Republicans.

It's not -- I'm not going to sit here and say that it's even but it's 50/50, but they do exist.

COOPER: Yes. Van Jones, Rick Santorum, Dana Bash, thank you. A lot to watch for. Up next, we focused on Texas, and the huge voter turnout compared to just four years ago. Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke joins us to discuss whether Democrats can flip the state, also the legal battle over ballots that lies ahead.


COOPER: Texas, as we mentioned, may be up for grabs. Polls show a tight race with early voting numbers so large, it's one of the only two states have already recorded more votes in the early voting period during the entirety the general election four years ago, where the 9.6 million votes tallied before election day, actually court battles over voting standards in which ballots may count are now a big factor as well.


Here to talk about all this is the man who nearly swung the Senate seat to Democrats two years ago, former Congressman presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke. Thanks so much for being with us, Congressman. You campaign with Senator Kamala Harris there yesterday. Obviously, democratic presidential candidate hasn't carried the state's Jimmy Carter in '76. Where do you see this race in Texas?

FORMER REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): Well, she came to the right place because as you mentioned, Texas has already surpassed its 2016 vote total which is our previous high watermark and was the first state to do that. And we are seeing record shattered in almost every part of the state but it's in the Rio Grande Valley where I saw her in Edinburg, Texas, you know, Paso, my hometown, Webb County where Laredo is and other key areas along the border that we really need to pick up turnout.

So, for her to be there and to make the point of visiting these communities that are 90, 95 percent Mexican-American is huge. But, Anderson, this state in the last three years, went from 50th did last in voter turnout to first in the nation in youth voter turnout. First in absolute numbers of ballots cast and first in the nation in over- performing its 2016 total. So, the trend so far is really good going into Election Day.

COOPER: Are you disappointed the vice president himself hasn't personally been campaigning in Texas?

O'ROURKE: I'm really happy that Senator Harris came down. We would love to see Joe Biden in Texas, I think it would just be absolutely catalytic, but it was -- it was a big boost to have Senator Harris here yesterday. And not only was she in the RGV, she was in Fort Worth, and she was in Houston, Texas as well.

COOPER: You know, back in 2016, there was, you know, some talk that Hillary Clinton could carry Texas, obviously, she lost it. The state was elusive for you finally in 2018 against Senator Cruz, you came close. What makes this time different?

O'ROURKE: You know, I think each one of those years built towards this one in 2016, Hillary Clinton, after investing zero dollars in Texas, outperformed all the polls and actually performed better than any Democratic nominee in decades. In 2018, I became the first Democrat, since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 64, to carry the four major metro areas, and it was the most votes cast for a Democrat ever.

We won big races down the ballot. And we also registered two million voters since the last presidential election cycle, all of that expanding the rolls, expanding access to the ballot box, energizing voters and specifically going after young voters whose turnout is up 600 percent over 2016 has produced these results that you see now.

So, this isn't a fluke. This is something that's been building for a while through organizations like the Texas organizing project and great candidates who are running grassroots campaigns. If Biden wins on the night of November 3rd, which as you know, will seal the deal for him and make it mathematically impossible for Donald Trump to have a path to victory, it will be less about frankly, the top of the ticket and more about these down ballot state house races that are -- that are energizing the electorate and sending voters up ballot to the top of the ticket.

COOPER: If you're looking at Harrison -- Harris County for a moment, it's got the biggest population of any county in Texas. He said a group of Republicans filed a petition there to halt drive-through voting. There's going to be a hearing on Monday, the state Supreme Court has already upheld it. Critics are trying a new argument this time. First of all, I mean, A, what do you think is going to happen there? How significant is that? And what does it tell you that the president's allies are doing everything in their power in just about every state to have fewer people vote in this election?

O'ROURKE: Yes, this is already the most voter suppressed states or the most onerous voter ID laws, 750 polling place closures over the last eight years. The most vigorous racial gerrymander in the United States. Greg Abbott, a couple of weeks ago, closed all the supplementary absentee ballot drop off locations and now they're trying to disqualify 127,000 votes cast in drive-through voting in Harris County.

As you mentioned, the all Republican state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of drive-through voting. The Republican Secretary of State of Texas approved the drive-through voting plan. I don't know if the intention is actually to succeed in court as much as it is to sow confusion and chaos about what the rules are, and it's really a display of their desperation because they know that when we vote, they lose. And that's why they've tried for so long to keep Texas voters from being able to cast their ballots. So, 9.7 million votes cast very good news for democracy and for Democrats in the state of Texas.

COOPER: I want to ask you about an incident that happened yesterday. There's a Biden campaign bus trying to make it from San Antonio to Austin. It was surrounded and blocked by Trump supporters and vehicles. There was at least one small collision caught on tape, which mentioned we don't know what led up to this event. We've reached out to both the Trump campaign and to local law enforcement yet to hear back. But the idea that this election may have descended into something like this, supporters seeking to intimidate others. What does that tell you about where things are going in the next couple days?


O'ROURKE: I mean, I think this is very much connected to the suit trying to throw out the 127,000 votes cast in Harris County through drive-through voting. When you cannot win by the rules, you either try to change the rules after the fact, which is what they tried to do in Harris County, or you go beyond the peaceful exercise of your democratic right to vote. And you start to use intimidation, the threat of violence or actual violence, as we saw from the videotape captured of those Trump supporters trying to run the Biden bus off the road and actually engaging with another vehicle incredibly dangerous. And thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in that.

COOPER: I mean, you would think a lot of Americans seeing this would just get annoyed by the idea that there are folks out there trying to run anybody's campaign bus off the road, and you would hope it would have the opposite impact it would make people want to go out and vote and make sure that their vote is counted.

O'ROURKE: I think that's what you see happening in Texas. They've tried to make it so hard for people to vote. And I think we've all come to the conclusion that they wouldn't be doing this if our work -- if our votes weren't this powerful. And so, you see folks in Fort Bend County last week, waiting seven and eight hours in line to cast their ballots. You see folks, despite the intimidation, the threat of violence, the Trump supporters with bull horns and guns, Anderson, who show up right next to those early voting locations, getting in line, nonetheless, and having the courage and persistence to wait until they actually cast their vote.

Texas is a real test for our democracy and for our country. And so far, Texas is coming through it with flying colors. And so, I'm really proud of my fellow Texans. And we're standing up to the bullying, the intimidation, the suppression, and we're making sure that our votes are counted and our voice -- voices are heard.

And if we do this in great enough numbers on Tuesday, then, we for the first time in 44 years, will vote for the Democratic nominee. We will end our national nightmare and we will be able to turn the page on this kind of violent intimidation, Donald Trump and Trumpism in America and start the next new chapter with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

COOPER: Beto O'Rourke, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

O'ROURKE: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, we're going to continue the conversation we were having about the legal battles over votes. Supporters of President Trump and Joe Biden already fighting in courts across the country with all eyes on the Supreme Court, and it is new 63 conservative majority. Top Republican election lawyer joins us when we continue.



COOPER: Before the break, we were discussing the legal battles over voting standards in Texas, if I comment too many key states in this election. One prominent issue, of course is whether states can receive ballots by mail past election day if state law doesn't expressly allow it. Republicans in Pennsylvania, for instance, have tried and failed twice to get the Supreme Court to reject extended deadlines.

However, Justice Samuel Alito has left the door open for possible third challenge after the election, which would also be the first since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court. In Wisconsin, the court sided with Republicans but then didn't in North Carolina, Chief Justice John Roberts, the key vote in all those cases, most recently in Minnesota federal judges granted Republican requests to set aside those late arriving, ballots, putting their viability in limbo as well.

I want to get some perspective now, from someone who's dealt firsthand with Bell account battles, Ben Ginsberg, top Republican election lawyer who served as a National Council for the Romney and Bush presidential campaigns and a key figure obviously in the 2000, Florida recount. Mr. Ginsberg, thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: Before we get to kind of nitty-gritty, can you just explain to people your general perspective on election integrity as relates to President Trump? Because obviously, he has been talking a lot about voter fraud, about mail-in voting. And despite your long history and proud history of the Republican Party, you push back on him in a very public way.

GINSBERG: I have. I've spent the better part of four decades being in precincts and running Election Day operations, where Republican poll watchers properly were in the polling place to make sure things operated correctly. And both Democrats and Republicans have found isolated incidents of the fraud, he speaks about, but nothing, nothing to justify the charges he's made, that the whole system is fraudulent and the results rigged. And for a president of the United States to be tearing down our basic institutions, with not anything close to enough evidence to make that case is, I think, very wrong and really dangerous.

COOPER: The President has also been, you know, talking about, you know, people acting as poll watchers. I'm not exactly sure what he means. Obviously, there are poll watchers, that is a thing, but he seems to be encouraging something on Election Day. Does that concern you?


GINSBERG: Well, it does. I mean, the role of the poll watcher is essential to the process. You want both political parties operating pursuant to the laws of the different states to be able to be in the polling places to deal with problems that arise if there is fraud and irregularities that they see to deal with it. But also, once the ballots are cast and counted, to be able to validate the returns is nothing untoward going on. Each state has a process where you can take complaints of irregularities and run it through a contest procedure, or a recount over a few weeks after the election. It's all pretty legitimate. Both parties take advantage of that and use it, that's proper.

Now, the President is talking about pole watchers, taking on a different role from actually getting in the way of the smooth functioning of the polling place, making a series of unfounded challenges to slow things down, because for some reason, he thinks that's in his political interest. Then you start getting into the laws of every state that talk about voter intimidation. And that'll be a bright line officials will draw.

COOPER: In terms of specifics, do you think that ballots postmarked before November 3rd that arrived after Election Day, whether it's three days or nine days, should they be counted? I know in many states, veterans ballots are allowed to be counted several days in some states after the election.

GINSBERG: Well, the way we run our elections is each state has really its own authority to run its elections the way they want. So, these are policy determinations that are made in each state, by the proper public officials, usually the legislature. And it seems to me that each state should be able to make its own rules. And so, what is in the law is, is really the prerogative of the state.

And I think if you want to analyze Justice Roberts' different positions, it is that he has said state officials have that role. And federal judges should not be intervening to overturn what would state officials have decided is right.

COOPER: Ben Ginsberg, I really appreciate your time tonight and your expertise. Thank you so much.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

COOPER: North Carolina is another state under the microscope and, of course, considered a swing state this time around already courts have issued rulings about voting there. The stakes could not be higher. Our Dianne Gallagher talked to voters there about what they want on election day.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Land of the Pines has become the land of the politicians. North Carolina's crucial 15 electoral votes' front and center, thanks to its sudden swing state status, and dead heat polling which has President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden basically neck and neck, both have claimed victory here before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President-elect Obama can claim that he turned another red state blue, CNN can now project Obama narrowly winning North Carolina.

GALLAGHER: In 2008, the Obama-Biden ticket picked up the state in a close one with record turnout before losing it in 2012.


In 2016, with a roughly three-point win, the Trump pence campaign again painted the Tar Heel state red.

And he's trying to recreate that in 2020, but North Carolina has changed over the past four years. The state is already closing in on its total 2016 turnout, with robust early and mail-in voting participation and a larger base of eligible voters.

About a quarter of the state's 7.3 million voters are new voters since the last election, meaning, they either didn't live in North Carolina or they weren't registered in 2016. Newly registered voters here are younger, more diverse and less likely to pick a party, instead opting to registers unaffiliated. And while Biden would like to put North Carolina in his wind column.


GALLAGHER: Almost every single model shows that in order to get to 270, Trump has to.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to win the state of North Carolina.

GALLAGHER: He has to 11th hour trips here on the schedule and that's in addition to the half dozen stops in September, holding large rallies and now COVID-stricken counties he won in '16 in the suburbs, harping on pandemic restrictions put in place by the Democratic governor and trying to appeal to the state's increasingly diverse populations.

Biden, along with running mates, Senator Kamala Harris and surrogates, have focused on energizing black voters and the state's booming cities while quoting the same suburban women as Trump. Biden has visited twice in September, Harris is making another stop here Sunday.



GALLAGHER: These voters could help determine, not only the next president, but the balance of the U.S. Senate as well. With an old but tie closely-watched race between Democrat Cal Cunningham and incumbent Republican, Thom Tillis.

TRUMP: Ladies and gentlemen, the best is yet to come. And Donald J. Trump and I approve this message.

GALLAGHER: The Trump campaign and the RNC have spent more on ads in North Carolina than any state except Florida. BIDEN: The nation United, the Nation's strengthen, the nation heal. I'm Joe Biden and I approve this message.

GALLAGHER: And it comes in fourth in state spending for the Biden camp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America demanded change.

GALLAGHER: Both campaigns are dropping more than $5 million in ads in the final week leading up to the election, making their final push for these swing states sweet 15.


COOPER: Dianne, Senator Thom Tillis, obviously, had COVID earlier this month, cases in the state are spiking. How's COVID impacting the race there?

GALLAGHER: You know, Anderson, I think in every state, at this point, COVID is impacting it in some way. But here in North Carolina, you hit the nail on the head COVID is spiking North Carolina for the past two weeks, has basically been setting and then breaking its own single daily new infection records. Thom Tillis did have COVID. He actually did apologize before for not wearing a mask. The North Carolina, the restrictions have stayed in place longer than some of its neighboring states. And that is something that some Republican politicians have tried to use as sort of a wedge to talk about, and President Trump has done the same.

Another way that it's impacting things, Anderson, is voting. North Carolina, at this point, has more than 4.5 million votes. That's almost 95 percent of the total number of votes that were cast in all of 2016. And a lot of that is due to COVID. People voting early, but we're seeing the way that it can impact it as well in early voting site in Rockingham County, North Carolina, had to shut down because one of the workers tested positive and others were exposed, and so that took away some voting time for people in that county.

They're trying to figure out how to navigate that here, like all the other states, Anderson, at this point, because there's really no way to escape this pandemic in North Carolina, or any other state.

COOPER: Dianne Gallagher, appreciate it.

Still more to come tonight, including deep dive into our new CNN polls about the state of the raising key battleground states. Resident poll expert, Harry Enten joins us to discuss what these numbers mean versus polls four years ago that showed Hillary Clinton close but still ahead.