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Dr. Fauci Issues Warning Assessment of Trump Admin Response; New CNN Polls Show Biden Leads in Michigan and Wisconsin; Post-Rally Chaos Leaves Trump Supporters in the Cold; Obama Joins Biden on Michigan Trail; Interview with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold about Early Voting; Trump Predicts "Bedlam" After Election; Trump and Biden Fight for Florida. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 31, 2020 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening again. At the end of the full day yet in the 2020 presidential campaign and hanging over all of it at all the stops in all the states a pandemic that is now consuming the country where nearly 66,000 new cases so far just today, which is staggering for a weekend where reporting is usually slower than during the rest of the week. That's on top of nearly 100,000 new infections just yesterday.

No matter what else is on the ballot, this is the COVID election and tonight it pits the president against the nation's most trusted voice on the matter, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He just spoke to the "Washington Post," and as the headline suggests he said a mouthful. It reads, "A whole lot of hurt, Fauci warns of COVID-19 surge, offers blunt assessment of Trump's response."

Josh Dawsey shares the bylines, joins us now by the phone.

So, Josh, I want to read something that Dr. Fauci told you, this is just breaking, quote, "We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place, as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You cannot possibly be positioned more poorly."

He was pretty candid about what's to come, saying it couldn't be any worse.

JOSH DAWSEY, WASHINGTON POST (via phone): Yes, Dr. Fauci believes it's going to be more than 100,000 cases a day this fall for, you know, a number of weeks. He believes that, you know, the administration has taken an unfocused approach. He says he barely talks to the president anymore. Very few Coronavirus Task Force meetings. That, you know, he wants to get his message out how about how things are this fall and winter can be.

You know, how many troubles we could have in the country. And it's been almost impossible to do that and that's what he told us last night about the problems with the coronavirus.

COOPER: He also had some tough words for the president's preferred medical adviser now, radiologist Scott Atlas. He said, "I have real problems with that guy. He's a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out it doesn't make any sense."

When was the last time that Dr. Fauci even spoke to the president? Do you know?

DAWSEY: Dr. Fauci says he spoke to the president early October but it was only about the president's own coronavirus case. He says the president called him while he was at Walter Reed, the hospital out in Maryland. Remember he was helicoptered there. You know, Dr. Fauci is very frustrated about Atlas. He said, I don't know, quote-unquote, "what the hell he is talking." He said that Dr. Atlas is giving the president bad advice on a number of fronts.

He said that Dr. Atlas is promoting herd immunity which he does not support. And he says that Dr. Atlas, you know, was not in line with the rest of the Coronavirus Task Force. One of the reasons the task force has met less frequently in recent months according to officials is because of Dr. Atlas and his influence. And they don't want to fight with him and they know that he's the president's favorite coronavirus adviser.

And both he and Dr. Deborah Birx who used to be, you know, the folks who brief the president daily on cases and what was happening in the states, and transmission rates, and, you know, how problematic the virus was going to be, Dr. Fauci says that neither one of them see the president anymore. They have no access to him. They have no visibility into him. They stay both in their offices. Dr. Birx has traveled across the country, asking people to wear to ask. Dr. Fauci says he doesn't go to the White House anymore.

COOPER: I mean, this is really terrifying. I mean, this is -- the Coronavirus Task Force, it sounds like, isn't even a thing anymore. I mean, we learned, you know, a couple of days ago, Vice President Pence hasn't been to a meeting. The president's not at meetings. They're -- I mean, Fauci isn't talking to the president.

I find it somewhat startling. I just want to make sure this is right. You said the president called Fauci when the president was in the hospital and sick?

DAWSEY: Yes, when he was in Walter Reed. He said the last conversation he had with the president was about the president's own case, his own coronavirus.

COOPER: And that the president made that call?

DAWSEY: He had not spoken with him about policy, he had not been at the White House to speak with the president. It was only when he was at Walter Reed.

COOPER: Right. I just want to make sure if the president called Fauci?

DAWSEY: Yes. Correct. That's right, Anderson. COOPER: So let me get this straight. The president of the United

States has basically banished Dr. Fauci, doesn't want him talking to the public, they limit his television appearances, he's shown up on like podcasts, and we take excerpts from those.


They've done everything possible to silence him, but when the president of the United States himself is sick with COVID and in the hospital, he called Dr. Fauci for advice?

DAWSEY: He called Dr. Fauci to talk about his own case, according to Dr. Fauci. That was the only time he had talked to the president --

COOPER: Yes. That's what makes it so actually infuriating. When it's about him he wants to talk to an expert, but when it's the American people he doesn't want that expert talking to the American people.

DAWSEY: Well, when I asked Dr. Fauci on the phone last night, Anderson, when he had spoken to the president, Dr. Fauci said it was only about his own case recently when he was in Walter Reed and he had not spoken to the president. Now Dr. Fauci said on the phone that he does not regularly go to the White House anymore because he does not think it's safe with all of the infections, you know, with the outbreaks in the VP's office. The outbreak around the president.

He said he called into some meetings but he does not talk to the president, or not talked to the president in considerable time.


DAWSEY: Other than when the president was at Walter Reed.

COOPER: Sure. When it affects the president he wants the best advice. So he calls Fauci. He also talked to you about White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who -- well, yes, what did he say about Mark Meadows?

DAWSEY: He said that when Mark Meadows went on Jake Tapper's show last Sunday, Anderson, and said that, you know, we cannot control the pandemic that he actually appreciated that because he said he thought it Meadows accepting what the strategy actually was. Meadows has criticized Fauci for his appearances on television and Dr. Fauci said that Mark Meadows has, you know, a pretty straightforward guy. He said that when he spoke out on the Jake Tapper's show, we don't think we can control the pandemic, he said at least he's admitting, quote- unquote, "what the strategy is, and I commend that."

COOPER: Yes. He did, though, tried to basically walk it back the next day, saying that we can contain it, and sort of danced around trying to repair the damage of actually speaking the truth, which understandably Fauci appreciates him at least admitting what we all know.


COOPER: Josh Dawsey, fascinating.

DAWSEY: Right. I mean, we spoke --

COOPER: Yes. Go ahead.

DAWSEY: We spoke last night, Anderson, about an hour on the phone with Dr. Fauci and it was very clear to us he's frustrated by the administration's response. He thinks so much more needs to be done. He thinks cases are going to surge over 100,000. He said deaths are going to rise. And he thinks that if something doesn't change, abrupt changes in his mind, that we're going to be in for a long, dark winter. A record number of coronavirus cases. And yes, he said to us, very straightforward, I'm very concerned. I don't really know what else to do about this.

COOPER: Josh Dawsey, really appreciate the reporting as always. Thank you.

Again, I'm just -- this is the first I'm hearing this and I don't know if you at home find this infuriating that the president has kneecapped Dr. Fauci, has silenced Dr. Fauci at every turn after embracing him because he knew Fauci was so popular and trusted, and so that's why the president glammed on to those White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings, and then took them over. And then suddenly Fauci is on the side and then Fauci is not even in the building, and not at the meetings now.

And now we learned when the president is in the hospital sick with coronavirus and scared, worried, he's heart racing, he picks up a phone and he calls Fauci and seeks his advice. But he doesn't want you to get Fauci's advice in interviews.

It's amazing. This is where we're at.

New CNN polling what it says. We'll have that. What it also doesn't say and how efforts to get a sense of this race different from 2016. Also, one other new poll, and the question is, is an outlier or a sign of new strength for the president in Iowa? Today in Reading, Pennsylvania, the president sounded optimistic about his numbers.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The numbers, the way I look at them in Pennsylvania, I don't think we're going to have to worry about it too much, OK.


TRUMP: And Florida. And Ohio. And lots of others. North Carolina is looking pretty good. Did you see that? And this is no longer the fake suppression polls. You know, we had a thing, Wisconsin is great and we won it last time. And we had a poll come out, I'm up one, then I'm down one, then I'm up one. Then I'm even, you know what this crazy stuff. But, it's, you know, it's within this area. I think we're doing much better than that. You know, I think we're way ahead.


COOPER: The question tonight, is he? Take a look. Among likely voters in a new CNN polling, Joe Biden enjoys the advantage of three of the four states you see there. North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan. In Arizona he's within a tenth of a point of the margin of error but this is a state that the president won by 3.5 points last time.

Let's get perspective now from CNN's senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten who joins us now.

Harry, just first of all, when I look at those numbers and you see Biden's up, you know, I'm somewhat hesitant on polls in general, but then you see the "Des Moines Register" poll out of Iowa today where now they've gone from being even seven days ago, or how many days ago, to now Trump being up by seven points.

So how -- why should we trust any of these polls that show oh, it's a neck-and-neck race or Biden has the lead, when all of a sudden a different poll comes out tomorrow, and oh, OK, well, no longer does? I mean, what's changed?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I can't tell you how many texts and slack messages and e-mails from people that I have known for forever who got in touch with me after that Selzer poll.

Look, this is the reason why we average polls, right? Why we don't just look at one poll. Why we look at a bunch of polls. And obviously, you saw those CNN polls. You saw that in most cases Biden had a clear advantage obviously in Arizona. We call it, you know, there's no clear leader. But the average poll continues to have Biden ahead. And I think that's sort of the message that we should take into these final days is yes, there are going to be some polls that showed Trump a little bit closer or in the state of Iowa even ahead. But that's why we have a margin of error.

And more than that, I should point out, you know, even if the polling averages were as wrong as they were in 2016, you see this on your screen right now, Biden would still lead in the electoral college overwhelmingly. Now he would lose in the state of Iowa so this is consistent with the Selzer poll, but it's also consistent with the CNN polls saying that Biden is ahead in states like Wisconsin and states like Michigan, and even in Arizona where it's fairly close but still Biden is still ahead.

COOPER: OK. So when you look at the breakdown in North Carolina, who's voted already, who hasn't, is there any indicator there about how that state may break and what the timing would be?

ENTEN: Yes. I think this is rather important. You know, if you look at that poll, what you see is that among those who have already voted, Joe Biden holds an overwhelming advantage, versus those who are going to probably vote on election day Trump holds the lead. And that's something that's very consistent that we've seen with the early voting so far, which is Democrats seemingly coming out early and voting. Not such a surprise given Trump's rhetoric on vote by mail. But in a state like North Carolina, also as a key factor when we watch

the returns come Tuesday night, because that's a state where the vote by mail and the early vote will be counted first. So don't be surprised if Biden jumps out to a lead there or in Florida, and then Trump tries to claw his way back as the more election day votes come on.

What I will just say is be very, very patient on election night. Wait until the results come in. It's much more important to be accurate than to be fast in terms of categorizing the race.

COOPER: In 2016, at this stage, Hillary Clinton was also leading in some state polls. What's different about what you're seeing for Vice President Biden in this moment? I mean, to sort of when you look deeper in the numbers and why do you feel more certain that these numbers will reflect what's actually going to happen?

ENTEN: Sure, I should just say, right, Donald Trump can win this race, right? It's not over, we have voting that will go on Tuesday, there's still early voting going on. But, you know, first off, it's the national polling. I know we hold the national election, we hold a 50- state election plus we hold an election -- plus those congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine, and the District of Columbia, obviously voting as well.

But the national polling shows Joe Biden up by nine, 10 points. The national polling last time around only showed Hillary Clinton up by three to four points. And the national polling was pretty good last time, right? And it's basically you're not going to see that split whereby Joe Biden wins by eight or nine nationally. He's not going to lose in the electoral college. But look at white voters without a college degree in Wisconsin.

I think that's a very key group, right? They make up the plurality of voters there. They make up the plurality of voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania. And what you see amongst them, you see a big shift towards Joe Biden and if you do in fact Joe Biden do considerably better among whites without a college degree, even if Trump carries them, then that would be very, very good news for the vice president given his strength among white voters with a college degree especially in a state like Wisconsin.

COOPER: Where else in particular are you interested in?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, one other thing that I'm really interested in is a state like Florida, right? Hispanic voters. We have seen that movement away from former Vice President Joe Biden. He's still leading amongst them but he's not leading by the same margin that Hillary Clinton did. Now Florida is a state that Joe Biden doesn't need to carry. The president has to carry that state. But if Joe Biden is able to win a state like Florida which will count its votes very, very quickly on election night, it'll be that knockout blow and basically could turn election week, while we may have to wait to make sure someone actually does sit that 270 mark. Joe Biden wins in Florida, Democrats should be feel pretty secure that they're probably going to win this election. COOPER: There were concerns, though, over the last couple of days

among Democrats about the percentage of early turnout by African- Americans and Latinx people.

ENTEN: Yes. That's definitely true. And the fact is, it's one of the most interesting things that we've seen in this cycle is that Joe Biden is not doing as well among Hispanic voters. He's probably doing a slight bit worse than Hillary Clinton did among African-Americans and it does seem like their turnout may be a little bit lower. But what's so important to note is that if the polling is correct, then Joe Biden is going to make up for that weakness with strength among white voters who he's doing considerably better amongst than Hillary Clinton, specifically white voters with a college degree like in a state like North Carolina where he's leading among them.


And of course, as you know, if you've ever been down there, the research triangle, very, very important. That could in fact be very, very key for Biden. We'll see. Ultimately, it's going to be, can Biden get deeper into Trump's space than Trump can get into Biden's? The polls suggest yes, but we'll see what happens on Tuesdays and the days thereafter.

COOPER: And you know this stuff backwards and forwards, Harry.

ENTEN: I don't do anything else.


ENTEN: It's a pandemic. I have a -- this is the first time I left my house in how long. My goodness. I order in every meal. There's not much to do right now.

COOPER: Harry Enten, well, I'm glad you're with us. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

ENTEN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, Trump supporters stranded in the cold after one of his rallies. We'll have a live report on that. Also President Obama's embrace with Joe Biden in these closing days and what effect it might have. Also what Harry just mentioned, the concern that Hispanic voters especially in places like South Florida might not be embracing Biden the way his campaign was counting on.

Later, the president's dark vision of what could happen after Tuesday. Talking about bedlam in this country and where that can lead. A lot more ahead tonight, ahead.



COOPER: More breaking news tonight. A chaotic scene following the president's rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, and north of Pittsburgh. It's dark and cold out there and a lot of people who went to the rally got stuck in it. This is not the first time as you may know. Just last week, the same thing happened after a Trump rally at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska. Supporters stranded in the freezing cold as the president flew off on Air Force One.

CNN's Ryan Nobles was there at this latest chilly scene when events tonight unfolded.

What's the situation right now?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it appears the Trump campaign has now made an effort to get a number of buses to that location in Butler, Pennsylvania, to ferry the thousands of people that came to his rally here tonight. But it took quite a bit of time for that to happen. When we left the rally it was a good 30 minutes after the president had lifted off on Marine One and we walked into a logistical nightmare.

There were thousands of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, nowhere to go, no buses in sight, and no direction from anyone on the Trump campaign to tell them where to go or how to get back to their parking spots. And it became so frustrating for many of these Trump supporters that they ended up just walking. That was the decision that our crew made. My producer DJ Judd (PH) and I walked about a mile to get to our parking lot, found our car and then when we started driving away we spotted Trump supporters that were walking to their cars as much as three and four miles away from where the Trump rally was taking place.

You know, we put this information out on social media, tweeted about the frustration of many of these Trump supporters. The Trump campaign responded and said that there were buses now coming to pick many of these supporters up, but it was more than an hour and a half when they posted that picture to show that this was actually starting to alleviate the congestion that was coming out of the rally at that time.

And Anderson, I should also point out that it's a cold night here in Pennsylvania. It's about 41 degrees. That's not freezing, but these are supporters that were already sitting outside in the cold for more than four or five hours waiting to hear the president speak, and then had to wait for an hour or longer to get on these buses to get back to their parking spots. And then we should also point out that this is against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Obviously we know the Trump campaign takes little to no precautions within the rallies themselves to take care of their supporters, but in this atmosphere, leaving the event as well, again, big groups of people packed tightly and then when the buses do show up, they are all put on those buses. There was no attempt to social distance in order to get the people on the bus to get them out as quickly as possible.

And so the risk of the spread of the coronavirus only increases as a result of it. So, you know, the Trump campaigns claims that they've got the situation taken care of. They claim that as many as 47 buses are now arriving or in the process of arriving to ferry these people back to their parking spots. But for quite a while there, more than an hour, it was a huge headache for the thousands of people that came to this rally tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Joe Biden and former President Obama campaigned through Michigan, like the running mates they once were, ended up in Detroit, where President Obama talked about how close the two had become.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I'll admit 12 years ago, when I asked him to serve as the nominee for vice president, I didn't know him all that well. We had served in the Senate together. But he had been there a while, I was still fairly new. He and I came from different places, we came from different generations, but I came to admire Joe as a man who is decent to his core.

A man who learned early on to treat everybody with dignity and everybody with respect. Somebody who lived by the words his mom taught him. No one's better than you, Joe, but you're no better than anybody else. And that decency, that empathy, that belief that everybody counts, that's really who Joe is. And the good news is, that's who he'll be when he's president because I can tell you something the presidency doesn't actually change who you are. It just reveals who you are.


COOPER: We're now on the Obama effect as well as Democratic concerns about turning out black and Hispanic voters. Joining us, former top Obama adviser and current CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and Ana Navarro, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist turned Biden supporter.

David, whose President Obama's target audience and do you think his criticism of President Trump were effective?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think his target audience is primarily at this point, black, Hispanic voters, younger voters. Think of where he went today. Flint, Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, he's going to Atlanta on Monday, and he's going to south Florida, and his mission obviously has broader appeal, and you know, he'll hit a wider audience with these criticisms and with his arguments for Biden.

But right now I think the big push is to get people to go out and vote, and you know that in 2016 the lack of turnout in minority communities in Michigan and Wisconsin and other places was a pivotal element of what happened.


So I think Obama is a big weapon to try and avert that again this time.

COOPER: Yes. Ana, there are multiple reports including from CNN that the Democrats are worried about African-American and Latino turnout in Miami-Dade County in Florida. You live in Florida. Senator Harris was in the state campaigning today. What do you think is going on there?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And President Obama was here last week and as David said is coming back. Look, I -- you know, 2016, the shy Trump voter was so 2016. Anderson, I think we have a shy Biden vote going in south Florida and I'll tell you why, because the level of aggressiveness, the level of bullying, the level of peer pressure that's going on amongst Trump voters in south Florida cannot be measured and cannot be explained.

So all those people who were shy Trump voters in 2016 are now out and proud and loud and driving around in 15-foot tall pickup trucks covered in Trump flags, and I know -- I know people whose names you'd recognize who tell me, we love Joe Biden, we're going to vote for Joe Biden but you know what, we still got to live in this town, we got to live in this community, and we don't want to deal with being called a communist.

Basically right now, political prisoners. Castro political prisoners who cut an ad for Joe Biden are being referred to as traitors and communists in this community. People who are Castro foes their entire lives. I'm being called a traitor and a communist in this community, and people just don't want to deal with the grief and the stress and the attacks.

COOPER: Gloria, you know that Miami-Dade is a county that Democrats must-win by huge margins to have a chance at winning in Florida. That's why it's so important for Democrats. So far only 56 percent of registered Democrats have voted compared to 63 percent of registered Republicans. Is that worrying for the Democrats? I mean --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. It is worrying for the Democrats. And I've been keeping in touch with somebody who is a stalwart supporter of Biden, counts votes and organizes to give a lot of money for Biden, and what he was hoping is that this weekend you would see more people of color voting. His hope was that in Miami- Dade, some of these voters, and it may be because of what Ana is talking about, but they vote late and he feels that they are going to come out and vote late.

But what worries them is that they need to do what Hillary Clinton did and if they can't do as much with Latino voters, I mean, Hillary Clinton was almost 2 to 1 in the state of Florida, that they need to kind of catch up a little bit in Miami-Dade. And that is why you're seeing such a push with important surrogates in that part of the state. They think it's very winnable for them, but they thought the early voting would had been a little bit stronger for them.

COOPER: David --

NAVARRO: Anderson, can I say something about --

COOPER: Yes, go ahead, Gloria. I'm sorry, Ana.

NAVARRO: We like to talk on TV about the Latino vote. And the Latino vote is so diverse. And what's happening in south Florida, for example, where there's so many Cuban Americans, Nicaraguan Americans, Venezuelans, people who have fled left-wing regimes. What's happening there is very different than what's happening in central Florida where there's been an influx of Puerto Ricans.

So when we talk about the Latino vote, what's happening in Miami is not ordinary, it's not normal and it is a result of Donald Trump having focused on this for the last four years and having drilled into the minds of people here that voting for any Democrat, whether it was Joe Biden or, you know, Joe Schmo meant that you were voting for a communist and a socialist.

BORGER: A socialist.


NAVARRO: That's been going on for four years. And it's gotten big thing.

COOPER: David, how concerned are you about the turnout there?

AXELROD: Well, look, I mean, I think this has been -- they're absolutely right about it. This has been a concern. I will point out a couple of things. One is that there is a history in the African- American community of resistance to mail-in voting. They tend to want to vote at the polling place because of suspicions of how these votes are handled. And so there is hope of a late surge here in Miami-Dade.

But it's also true, as Harry Enten was saying to you earlier, Joe Biden is doing much better than Hillary Clinton among other elements of the electorate, among white voters, college-educated white voters, among seniors, which is obviously an important element in Florida. So there is -- this is not the same race. Donald Trump is not doing as well with white voters who are the most numerous segments of the Florida vote.

BORGER: Or suburban.


AXELROD: And so that would -- and that will offset some of this. So I don't -- I would not say there's a sense of panic about this, but there's obviously a sense of wanting to strengthen that vote in the case of marginal race which often happens in Florida.

COOPER: Ana, some people are pointing to the Biden campaign's decision to forego knocking on doors because of the pandemic at least until recently, as a potential reason for turnout problems. Dana Bash has described seeing Republican canvassers out in search of voters. But if you're Joe Biden, your entire campaign has coronavirus prevention, I mean, do you think that's had an impact?

NAVARRO: Yes, I do. I also think, look, they were playing catch-up. You know, the truth is that in a state like Florida, Donald Trump has allies like the governor of Florida, like the senators of Florida, people who understand the on-the-ground efforts here, who have been advising him and being -- you know, been part of the campaign, part of his adviser group for years now and have been helping him for years. And it shows. Their on-the-ground strength is showing.

You know what's interesting? And I -- you know, I don't know how David or Gloria feel about this, but there are still hundreds of thousands of outstanding mail-in ballots that were sent out to people who requested them. Remember, in Florida, you got to proactively request them.



NAVARRO: That have not been returned.

BORGER: That's right.

NAVARRO: With a great advantage for Democrats. So my question is, if you went through the trouble of filling out an absentee ballot request and you got it, what are you going to do with that? Are you just going to sit home and look at it, and wake up on November 4th regretting that you didn't vote? And so I think that's why there is some hope.


NAVARRO: And some optimism by Democrats.


NAVARRO: That those people are going to show up and votes.

AXELROD: Republicans point to that.

BORGER: Well, I also --

AXELROD: Republicans point to that and say that encourages them that those ballots haven't yet come back.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: But I will say this, on this whole issue of early voting versus election day voting, it was this sense that there was going to be this outpouring of Republican votes on election day and that Democrats would primarily vote early. What we see in Florida and around the country is that both Republicans and Democrats are voting early and what that may mean is that Tuesday, the electorate will be smaller than usual, maybe more akin to what we normally see than asymmetric turnout where Republicans outvote Democrats.


AXELROD: If Democrats have a big lead going into Tuesday in Florida or a substantial lead --


BORGER: But the whole --

AXELROD: -- they may not be able to make it up, the Republicans.

BORGER: But the whole strategy for winning, according the Trump campaign and what they are counting on, is this ground game we're talking about and I remember when we used to talk about Mitt Romney's fabulous ground game, and that didn't go so well. And what they are saying is that because they knocked on the doors, they are saying that, don't worry about this early vote, our people are going to come out in droves. And you are going to see that.

AXELROD: But, Gloria, they're people are coming out now.

BORGER: That's right. I agree with you.

AXELROD: My point is Republicans are voting now.

BORGER: That's right. That's right. And so it's so hard in this kind of election where you look at these numbers and you say, OK, it's different from any other election because so many more people have voted early.

AXELROD: Yes. Yes.

BORGER: And so they're saying, they're going to have the same number of people voting on election day but that's not going to happen.

NAVARRO: It's completely different than how it used to be in Florida.

COOPER: Yes. I got to go.

AXELROD: It's not going to happen.

NAVARRO: Where Republicans used to dominate the mail-in ballots and Democrats used to dominate early voting.


NAVARRO: It's been a 180-degree paradigm shift.

COOPER: David Axelrod, Gloria Borger, Ana Navarro, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, another key in turning out the vote, the U.S. mail. Secretary of state of Colorado which conducts elections by mail and has for a long time joins us to discuss how problems with the Postal Service may affect tight races.



COOPER: Talked a lot about early voting in the last segment. We just got some new numbers that are frankly massive. More than 91 million ballots cast. It equals more than two-thirds of the entire ballots cast in all of 2016. We repeat that again. More than two-thirds of all the ballots that were cast in 2016 in total. Two-thirds of that has already been cast in advance.

We talked about legal battles around vote by mail due in part by problems with the delivery of the mail itself. Two federal judges have increased their oversight of the service with one last night ordering daily reports in ballot delivery from portions of two swing states, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Just the latest example of a months' long controversy that's also involved criticism of the postmaster general and his close ties with President Trump.

I'm joined now by Jena Griswold, secretary of state of Colorado, a state that conducts elections by mail. On Friday, Colorado was one of two states where only 61 percent of ballots were processed by the Postal Service on time. That's the lowest rate in the nation.

Secretary Griswold, thanks for being with us. You hear this reporting about the Postal Service being ordered to report their nightly sweeps for mail-in ballots. As someone whose state that has a lot of practice in vote counting and making sure votes are counted on time, how confident are you that the Postal Service is up to the job?

JENA GRISWOLD (D), COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, good evening, Anderson. Happy Halloween. You know we are not hearing about any delays in Colorado and a large part of that is because we actually asked Coloradoans to stop mailing their ballots back last Monday and instead go to a drop box or even vote in-person during early voting at one of the hundreds of voting centers we have opened.

But I will say there are delays in other jurisdictions and no American should have to deal with these obstacles. That's why it's so important to encourage all folks who have not voted yet to make a plan to vote immediately and make your voice heard. It's likely too late across the nation to return your ballot by mail so instead go to a voting center or drop it off at a drop box.

COOPER: You know, we already are seeing disputes about mail-in ballots in swing states around the country. The courts have weighed in to varying degrees. How likely is it you think that at least some of these situations will lead to post-election litigation?


GRISWOLD: Well, you know, I'm not quite sure. I think it will depend on the numbers, the final numbers as we get through. For Colorado, our election is going really well. But I do think that it is concerning that there's all this litigation and the last-minute rule changes and it just underlines the need to have federal legislation.

I do think that we need to demand of Congress and the next president that we have a voting rights legislation to make sure that all Americans, just like Coloradoans, have the access they deserve. That means vote by mail for all, early voting, weeks of it, hundreds of drop boxes, hundreds of voting centers and same-day voter registration. And if we have national standards that protect Americans' right to vote we won't have to go through the hundreds and hundreds of lawsuits that we saw this year.

COOPER: I mean, it is exciting to see so many people actually voting. Obviously, you know, the criticism by the president and some Republicans, not all, because we just had Ben Ginsburg, who's, you know, an expert on Republican and an expert on elections, and on voting processes, who said, that, you know, what the president is saying about mail-in voting and voter fraud is just completely wrong. It just doesn't happen.

That's also what you see in Colorado. I mean, you don't see -- you know, to those who say, well, you can't have all these people mailing in ballots from their homes, you can't have drop boxes everywhere, drive-in voting in places because there's too much voter fraud, what do you say?

GRISWOLD: Well, I would say Colorado's elections are safe, secure, accessible. And we've been doing vote by mail for all early voting, drop boxes and even drive-through voting here in Colorado. You know, mail ballots for all have been used in elections since 2014. And it works. We're not only considered the safest state in which to cast a ballot, we're also considered the most accessible.

And Anderson, the point I would really like to make, which may seem like an obvious point, if you give people access, they will vote. Right now we are already at over 85 percent of our turnout from 2016. We've increased access and I'm just so excited to see Coloradoans make their voices heard and also, you know, despite some of the obstacles we're seeing across the country, we are seeing Americans show up and that's just what needs to continue to happen.

COOPER: Secretary Griswold, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

GRISWOLD: Thank you.

COOPER: As we count down to election day, there are plenty of concerns about what might happen in the aftermath. A possible contested election. As mentioned, extended court battles. The president talked today about bedlam in America. We'll have more on that when we continue.



COOPER: Speaking at one of his Pennsylvania rallies earlier today, President Trump once again sounded alarm bells about what might happen after election day.


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: We brought you those remarks in our first hour tonight, but they're definitely worth repeating because there are many serious people in Washington, around the country, now examining what exactly might happen in a post-election America.

One of those is CNN contributor Garrett Graff wrote in "Politico" magazine earlier this month that several national security experts along with election and constitutional law scholars have been war gaming the election aftermath. Garrett Graff joins me now.

Garrett, great to see you. You've done a lot of reporting on this. What are the biggest concerns that your sources have about what a close contested election could lead to on the part of the president and his supporters?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. So the biggest challenge is that this election, because of the way the pandemic is changing voting routines, is almost certainly going to mean that the vote count is going to take longer and that there's going to be a period of uncertainty from when the polls close Tuesday night through potentially even Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, before it becomes clear who the winner of the election -- the presidential election might end up being.

And that period of uncertainty is going to lead to a desire by a variety of actors, including candidates trying to make false or premature claims of victory, as well as, for instance, foreign hackers, foreign nation states who might try to insert themselves into that process to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. And the fear is that those premature claims of victory, those so-called perception hacks by foreign actors, might lead to instability or unrest in the streets.

So it's really important that voters understand that just because the vote count is taking a while doesn't mean that there's any necessary fear of malfeasance or fraud.

COOPER: There are certain two buckets of variables, I guess, of what the president might do to contest the election and cling to power if it appears that he's lost. And then all the other things he can do before leaving office, you know, pardon his allies, fire his critics, is there any precedent for this level of apprehension?

GRAFF: Not in modern times at least. And that's part of the challenge. And this is -- I think the next couple of weeks might be very well give Americans a real "Schoolhouse Rocks" crash course in how voting actually works because we're used to knowing voting results by, say, midnight or 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast on election night. And that's frankly not going to be the case likely this coming week, and that's totally fine, that the states build in plenty of time to count votes, and in fact, most states don't require a certified total count until the end of November or the beginning of December, and as long as voting counts are wrapped up and clear by December 8th, the electorate college can meet on December 14th to actually elect a president. COOPER: "Politico" reported last night that the president might keep

holding, you know, these campaign-style rallies, or, you know, potential super spreader events, even after the election. If that happens and he's behind in the vote tally or the race has been called for Joe Biden, I mean, I don't know -- I'm wondering what signals that would send to both -- you know, at home and abroad frankly.


GRAFF: Yes, and this is where, you know, we should be concerned frankly that the president and the vice president have not committed to the peaceful transition of power that America counts on as part of our democracy, that party to party, president to president there is always a relatively warm handoff from one office to the next. And there is -- there's real concern that the Trump administration if they lose might not participate in the transition process at all and that there are a number of different ways that they can sort of muck up government during the 77 days between the election day and inauguration day.

COOPER: Garrett Graff, appreciate it. (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

Florida of course is one of those battleground states very much in play on election day. This time Democrats believe they may have a chance to come out on top. Coming up, CNN's Drew Griffin on the state of play there.



COOPER: Talked a lot about Florida tonight, and for good reason. It's always close. And memories of a contested election there are still fresh. More on that from Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a must-win state for Donald Trump, and Joe Biden knows it.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If Florida goes blue, it's over.

GRIFFIN: In a final week blitz, the Biden campaign is outspending Donald Trump on the air waves nearly 2 to 1. It has sent its most high-profile surrogate into the heart of the voter-rich I-4 corridor.

OBAMA: Hello, Orlando.

GRIFFIN: And despite being ridiculed on the right has taken its drive- in, socially distanced, mask-wearing message directly to Florida's elderly voters to remind them under Donald Trump, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from coronavirus.

BIDEN: Donald Trump has waved the white flag, abandoned our families and surrendered to the virus. GRIFFIN: Hours earlier before a crowd of defiantly maskless

supporters, President Trump declared he was winning the war over the virus and will win Florida.

TRUMP: We are going to win Florida, we are going to win four more years.

GRIFFIN: This was the president's fourth campaign rally here this month. Both campaigns are now in a December desperate final push in what will be a battle over turnout. Donald Trump won Florida in 2016 by roughly 113,000 votes. That's a little more than 1 percent and considered a Florida landslide. CNN's poll of polls shows Biden leading, but barely, and early voting that has been favoring Democratic turnout shows Republican early voters closing the gap.

Florida political experts say it will come down to turnout among the Sunshine State's micro voting blocs. Among the keys to watch, will a large number of displaced Puerto Ricans vote for Biden? Will young black males stay home? And can Trump convince retirees his laissez- faire attitude towards coronavirus won't put their lives at risk.

MARC CAPUTO, POLITICO: That's probably the biggest risk for the Trump campaign is that senior voters or senior voters -- white voters are his base, and if he loses too many of them he loses the election.

GRIFFIN: The fact is, the winner may already be chosen in Florida. Record numbers of mail-in ballots are already being counted. Early voters lining up weeks before this Tuesday just could not wait for election day to make their voices heard.

JANE DWYER LEE, TALLAHASSEE RESIDENT: It's like, whoa, I'm going to vote today.

GRIFFIN: Jane Dwyer Lee, a convicted felon, voting for the first time under a new Florida law cast her first ballot in 24 years.

LEE: I was like, yes, I'm finally a full member of society again.

GRIFFIN: She voted for Biden. This woman just as eager voted for Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to tell you exactly who I voted. I think President Trump is the best for the time being because all others, you know, sadly a bunch of liars.

GRIFFIN: Leon County supervisor of elections Mark Earley expects a majority of the results within minutes of polls closing.

MARK EARLEY, LEON COUNTY, FLORIDA, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: The state's statute here requires that all the votes you have from early voting and all the votes you have tabulated from vote by mail need to be uploaded and released by 7:30. So we'll probably get those in about 7:05, 7:10.

GRIFFIN: And with it, a Florida projection that could determine if President Trump will get a chance at four more years or as Joe Biden hopes a knockout blow early in the night ending Trump's presidency.


GRIFFIN: And, Anderson, Kamala Harris was in south Florida today. Joe Biden will be here in Tallahassee tomorrow with the Souls for Polls event. And then the Democrats are going to send in one of their biggest surrogates, Barack Obama, back to south Florida trying to shore up what could be trouble in the black and Hispanic community, under voting, according the one University of Florida professor -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thank you.

The news continues right now. Want to turn things over to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT." Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So glad you could join us on this Saturday night. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm --