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Fauci Publicly Slams Trump's Top COVID-19 Adviser; New Hampshire's Older Women Send Message to Trump; Former Intel Chief Warns of Russian Interference; Trump Vague on Agenda for Second Term; Trump and Biden Hit Key States in Final Days of Campaign. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired November 1, 2020 - 05:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Two days and counting: Donald Trump and Joe Biden are in the home stretch and getting ready this Sunday morning to crisscross America to squeeze out every last vote in this dramatic race.

Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for CNN's special coverage of the countdown to the election in America.


BOLDUAN: The coronavirus pandemic is exploding in record numbers with two days until the 2020 presidential election wraps up.

The question now facing every voter is, which candidate, Donald Trump or Joe Biden, can best lead the country through and out of this crisis?

And voters are clearly fired up and answering. Early balloting has eclipsed what was seen, what it was in 2016. And President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are hitting hard the battleground states.

Biden has two events in Philadelphia on Sunday. The president will visit five states from Florida to Michigan. Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes are shaping up as really critical for the president and for Joe Biden. Despite being down in the polls, Donald Trump says he feels good about Tuesday.


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?

And Florida and Ohio and lots of others. North Carolina is looking pretty good.

Did you see that? This is no longer the fake suppression polls. We had a thing, Wisconsin is great and we won it last time and we had a poll come out. I'm up one and then I'm down one and even. You know what, this crazy stuff but it's within this area. I think we're doing much better than that. I think we're way ahead.


BOLDUAN: Joe Biden is focused on what people are -- consider the blue wall, typically leans Democratic but Trump blew through that four years ago. Former President Barack Obama joined Biden Saturday in Michigan and warned Democrats not to repeat the mistakes of 2016.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These shouldn't be Republican or Democratic values. They're what our parents taught us, what our grandparents taught us. It's what we still try to pass on to our kids.

They're not white values or Black values or Latino or Asian or Native American, they're American values. And we have to reclaim them. But to do that, we're going to have to turn out like never before to reclaim what's best in this country. We can leave no doubt. We cannot afford to be complacent.


BOLDUAN: Nationally, Joe Biden has a 10-point lead in the poll of polls but forget the number. It's not national numbers that matter. The state contests are what counts. The state contests are how you win the 270 electoral votes to get to the White House.

Biden is leading several of the most important one. Michigan help put Trump over the top in 2016. He won by less than 1 percent four years ago. A new poll has Biden with a 12 point advantage among likely voters 53-41.

It's similar in Wisconsin; a state crucial to Trump's 2016 win is now leaning Biden's way. CNN's poll shows a tighter race in North Carolina, with Biden leading by 6 points and it is essentially neck and neck in Arizona within the margin. On Tuesday, all roads could lead through another battleground state, Pennsylvania. John King maps out the scenario.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We elect a president by getting to 270 electoral votes, let's start with the Trump map four years ago. In the four CNN polls, if Joe Biden flips, holds the Clinton states, the blue, and flips Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin, he had leads in the polls, then Joe Biden is the next President of the United States.

He could win without winning Pennsylvania or Ohio or Florida. Flip those four states, the polls out tonight show him ahead and he's the winner if he holds the other Clinton states. But let's look at this from a different perspective. A lot of gold on

this map. Only the solid Trump states and solid Biden states. Anything that leans we put into tossup. Let's say that Iowa poll is a hint and the Trump campaign is right. They're going to surge on Election Day and win that.

If you're winning Iowa and you're a Republican, that's plausible. Let's say Florida, Georgia stays in the Republican fold and Texas.


KING: And let's say he overcomes the lead in Arizona and keeps that. Come across the board, add North Carolina. That's a bigger one. Let's say, in this scenario, Trump comes back and gets that.

Let's pause. Let's say Joe Biden holds the Clinton states. That means he holds New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado and the Trump campaign fighting for Nevada. Let's say Joe Biden holds onto that.

Now we have two congressional districts on the board, one in Nebraska and one in Maine. Joe Biden is leading in late polls in both. Let's say there's a Republican surge in the Midwest and the former vice president, winning Maine big, holds onto that one. Now where are we?

Now our polls are significant. If they're right and the double-digit lead here and here, where does that get you, 259 to 259.

There's a reason Trump made four stops in Pennsylvania today. There are plausible scenarios where this comes down to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And if it's close on Election Day, we already know the Trump campaign is ready to go to court, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Again, this is a big if. But it's not impossible.


BOLDUAN: And we have two new polls just released overnight in Pennsylvania. "Washington Post"/ABC News poll of likely voters has Joe Biden leading President Trump 51-44. It has a margin of error of 4 percent. In Florida president is ahead of Biden by two points, within the margin of error.

In the last two days, more than 180,000 new COVID cases reported in the United States. The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warning that the country is headed into, in his words, "a whole lot of hurt," as cases and hospitalizations and, of course, eventually deaths, rise.

Dr. Fauci is slamming the White House's response to the pandemic, singling out the medical adviser who now has the president's ear, Dr. Scott Atlas.

Dr. Fauci telling "The Washington Post" this, "I have real problems with that guy. He's a smart guy who is talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in."

Dr. Fauci says, "He keeps talking about things that, when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense."

The White House later accused Dr. Fauci of playing politics in a statement and Atlas also fired off a tweet, which I guess is how he responded, with multiple hashtag insults like #insecurity and #embarrassinghimself and #can'tthrowaball, I think in reference to his throwing an opening pitch at a baseball game and also #notimeforpolitics. When there's a lot of politics going around.

A whopping 91 million ballots have been cast in this election, both in person and by mail. So the question now is whether the final campaign blitz by the candidates will have -- what kind of impact it will have next Tuesday. With us to discuss is CNN political analyst Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of "Inside Elections."

It's great to see you, Nathan. Thank you for getting up with me. Talk to me about just kind of what this kind of -- I don't know, open warfare just days before the election, what kind of impact this can have.

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because of the early voting numbers you cited, I think any late breaking news event over the next couple days will blunt the impact of any late breaking news event.

You have 90 million plus. We're going to have 100 million plus who voted before Tuesday. So we love to talk about October surprise. Now it would be a November surprise. I'm just skeptical that the late news events -- you have to remember, the vast majority of Americans have already decided whether they like the president or not and whether they they're going to vote for or against the president or not.

So opinion has hardened around him.

BOLDUAN: Yes. But with COVID and how -- voters I have spoken to, COVID has not only -- it's the most important thing they're dealing with in their life but it's also the biggest thing impacting their vote. At this point, from what you see, is this election anything other than a referendum on the president's response to the virus, at least in part?

GONZALES: I think these are the consequences of the president, I would say, not taking this in a serious and consistent way, because we're talking about COVID. Right?

Because of the rise in cases and because of the outbreaks around the country, we're talking about COVID where we're not talking about any number of issues that might be more beneficial to the president, talking about the Middle East peace deal and he wants to talk about the economy and how he -- what he did on the economy before COVID-19.


GONZALES: But because of the rising cases and the personal toll that it's taking on the country and Americans, it's the biggest news event. And this is not the issue he wants to -- he should want to be talking about.

The majority of Americans have, according to the polls, show that Biden, they trust Biden more to handle this issue.

BOLDUAN: We were talking about how close it is in Florida and how all eyes are on Pennsylvania.

I'm curious, your thoughts on which group of voters, especially when so many people have already voted, which group of voters do you think these states, it's going to come down to in these states?

GONZALES: Well, Kate, the dirty secret about close races is that everyone matters. I mean, it would be easy for me to talk about left- handed suburban women or Hispanic voters or seniors.


GONZALES: But it's everyone matters. And that's why -- and you're not going to know how close of a race it is until we get to the end and start counting the ballots. I'll say this about Pennsylvania.

I believe those polls that show that Vice President Biden has at least a narrow advantage, because there was a call about a week ago, where Republican congressman Mike Kelly, who represents western Pennsylvania, was talking about how well the president was doing in his district.

He was saying, oh, the president was up 9 or 10 points. I think he was relaying that as strength for the president. The president won his district four years ago by 20 points. Almost -- so he's doing -- he's underperforming 2016.

That's where -- I don't know, that's the type of district the president needs to run up the score to account for the losses he's going to see in southeast P.A. in the Philadelphia suburbs.

BOLDUAN: Everyone, if you watch anything, listen to Nathan and also get ready to get very comfortable and familiar with all of the counties in areas of Pennsylvania. We're going to spend a lot of time talking about that. Thanks for coming on.

GONZALES: No problem.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, senior citizens, especially senior women, are some of the most reliable voters in any election. I traveled to one critical battleground state, New Hampshire, to talk to some older women who are fired up. They have a message for the president, for the country this election.





BOLDUAN: Over the course of the late election season, I've been talking to different groups of women voters about what matters to them this cycle, this election. I've talked to women in Pennsylvania, Michigan and, in this report, I went to New Hampshire.

I spoke to older women voters and they are voting this time like their lives depend on it because with the pandemic, it does. And they have a message for the president and the country.


BOLDUAN: So at 78 years old, what drives you to stand on a street corner in the rain, in the cold, to get your face out there?

JANE VAN ZANDT (D-NH), STATE HOUSE CANDIDATE: We really want to win. If people don't see us, they're not going to know to vote for us.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Jane Van Zandt is a New Hampshire Democrat. She's spent her entire life serving others as a nurse, Episcopal priest and now in 2020, she's running for elected office for the first time.

VAN ZANDT: I had no idea what to expect to begin with. Now with COVID, we can't knock on doors, so we're relying on phone calls and yard signs. Being an old lady, I'm not all that steady on my feet. So I'm OK with not knocking on doors.

BOLDUAN: Has President Trump factored into your decision to run?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, probably. Probably because it just gets worse and worse every day. And I think senior citizens, for example, all marginalized people are at risk.

BOLDUAN: A vast majority of the coronavirus deaths in the country have been seniors. Here in New Hampshire, 96 percent of those killed by COVID have been 60 and older. That weighs heavily on the women we're talking to, on their lives, on their vote and also on how much they think the president sees their value to the country.

GAIL MORRISON, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I'm very concerned about the pandemic. I am 77 years of age. I live with a woman who is 75 years of age. We do not want to become ill and die yet. We're not ready.

BOLDUAN: What do you think of the president's handling of the response to the pandemic?

MORRISON: Oh, there has been no constructive action that he has taken whatsoever.

BOLDUAN: Donald Trump says, essentially, don't worry about the virus because only older people are getting it.

How does it make you feel to hear that?

MORRISON: Excluded, expendable, that we don't matter. And if we get it and we become very ill, it doesn't matter that we might need ventilators and be dead in two days.

KAREN CERVANTES (R), BIDEN SUPPORTER: COVID, as far as I'm concerned, that was the main decider. I'm a diabetic. I'm 72. I'm compromised. I do not have any desire to get it.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Karen Cervantes is a mom, grandmother and small business owner in western New Hampshire. She's also a diehard Republican.

CERVANTES: I was 18 when I registered as a Republican.

BOLDUAN: Have you ever voted for a Democrat before, for president?

VAN ZANDT: No. Absolutely not. This is the first time. I've already voted. I voted absentee and I voted for Biden.

BOLDUAN: How would you describe the last four years for you under President Trump?

VAN ZANDT: Exhausting. I find it absolutely exhausting, the insults, the things that he said about the African nations, the things that he said about Muslims.


CERVANTES: The things -- it's just not me. If Trump wins, the very next day, I am going down to Lebanon city hall and registering as an independent after 55 years.

CINDY ROSENWALD, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE SENATOR: People are anxious and they're anxious for the election to be over.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Sixty-six-year-old New Hampshire state senator Cindy Rosenwald is up for reelection. She says, even beyond COVID-19, this election is different from any other.

BOLDUAN: How important are older women voters in this election?

ROSENWALD: You can always count on us to show up and vote. And you can count on older women to also do the grassroots campaign work, too.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it's fair to consider age in a decision of who to vote for as president?

VAN ZANDT: On this election, I don't see where it makes much difference, because they're both older people.

BOLDUAN: What would you say to a voter who says, Jane, you're too old to run?

VAN ZANDT: I say watch me.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and Tara Setmayer, senior adviser to The Lincoln Project, a group formed by anti Trump Republicans. They're also both CNN political commentators.

Thank you for being here. It's been fascinating to speak to women voters throughout the past

month across the country. One thing I've heard from all of them who are voting against Trump is the word "compassion." That is what is missing in the past four years.

Is that everything for the Biden campaign right now, that view?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is a big part of Biden's closing argument, not just his closing argument but essentially what his opening argument was, too, in terms of, this is a fight for the soul of the nation.

And a big piece of that is, we have lost our empathy as a country. We have lost our decency as a country. And the people who care most about that, Kate, we saw it in your great piece, are women. And it's across all kinds of issues.

Health care, of course, is key, especially for this cohort of women, who are older and, frankly, are the ones who manage health care for their families. But it also, on the economic scale, is huge.

This pandemic, Kate, has made women lose 10 years of progress economically. Over 816,000 women have had to leave the work force, as opposed to only 216,000 men. And so when you have a president at his rallies, who talks about COVID, COVID, COVID, making fun of it, and you have a group of women who are ones who are feeling the brunt of it and then when you have a president at rallies, telling ladies saying, hey, little ladies, we're going to put your husbands back to work, where are we, in the 1950s?

So compassion versus chaos, right?

Competence versus chaos and clarity versus chaos, I think is a really strong closing argument for Joe Biden, especially when it comes to this incredibly influential group of voters.

BOLDUAN: Look, Tara, we know, the three of us, that women are most important on all things.


BOLDUAN: But when it comes to this cycle, women voters, how important are they?

Let's say for the Trump win?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Incredibly important. Women vote at a higher proportion than men anyway. They have since 1980. And it's the crucial suburbs that have been collapsing for Donald Trump since 2018, where suburban women have said, enough is enough, to Maria's point.

If you heard, during your piece, some of the terms the women used, they said they were exhausted. They felt excluded, that they didn't matter. They were sick of the insults. These are all aspects of the Trump presidency that many Americans, particularly women, are fed up with and do not want to see the leadership of the country led by someone who behaves the way Donald Trump has.

And there's really no way to avoid COVID as much as Trump wants to. He can't. Women are often the heads of households, who make the decisions when it comes to health care. Health care is still an incredibly important issue. The Republicans had an opportunity to do something about it. They haven't.

Despite Donald Trump's promise of two weeks, we'll see a health care plan, it's been four years. We haven't seen anything. These all factor into women saying, this is not the America we want. These are not the policies we want.

And Donald Trump is not the leader that we think should lead the country anymore. And 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump last time. You're not going to see that level of support this time around.


BOLDUAN: And Maria, we've talked about a lot, Latino voters are not monolithic. We find that with white women, Black women, older women. There's a lot of complexities.

Has either campaign done a good job at getting at that?

CARDONA: I think what the Biden campaign has focused on is just all the issues that women care about, as we just talked about, as heads of households. And what the Biden campaign, I think, has done a really good job of doing is, instead of breaking them down in silos, talking about the issues that are important to all women.

You know, Tara mentioned this. White women have not gone for a Democratic candidate since 1996. Right?

And it has been women of color, who have really come out in droves for past Democratic candidates that have won. And what we're seeing this cycle is that you have not just women of color, Latino women, Black women, coming out in droves for Joe Biden, there is a gender gap with both of those groups.

But white women are also now starting to be added to that group. And --

BOLDUAN: Tara --


BOLDUAN: Tara, real quick, what do Republicans need to do to try to win women back if they're losing them with Donald Trump?

SETMAYER: Well, I warned about this after 2016, that the Republican Party would have a generational problem with women if they did not check Donald Trump and his misogyny and his behavior.

And we're seeing that now. If you look at the reason why Republicans lost the House in 2018, it was driven largely by suburban districts where women voted -- women candidates as well -- who took out Republicans.

And women voters have said enough is enough. So if the Republican Party wants to continue to be a major party, they need to reject the White House nationalism, the populism, this party of immorality and hypocrisy. Supporting Donald Trump is not going to do it. Women are not going to put up with this.

So it's up to the Republicans, what their future is going to be, because QAnon, conspiracy theories and insults and the lack of science, these types of things women are not going to stand for. They wouldn't put up a 5-year-old child acting this way.

Why would they put up with a president acting this way?

And the Republican Party needs to make the decision that that's the leadership they want their party to have.

BOLDUAN: I'm curious to see exit polls and the raw data after all of the votes are cast to see what women are saying with their votes this cycle. It's great to see you guys. Thank you.

CARDONA: Thank you.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: President Trump may call Russian election interference a hoax but it's all too real and it takes on many forms with many different aims.

How secure is the U.S. election this time?

We'll be right back.





BOLDUAN: Republican -- welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN special coverage of the countdown to Election Day in America. I'm Kate Bolduan.

A campaign confrontation on a Texas highway. A caravan of President Trump supporters surrounding a Biden-Harris bus as it was traveling from San Antonio to Austin Friday. A Biden campaign official said the vehicles tried to slow down the bus and run it off the road. Staffers on the bus eventually called law enforcement. They did come and help and assist.

The Biden campaign ended up cancelling at least one event due to the incident, citing safety concerns. Neither Biden nor Harris were on board at the time. The Biden campaign put out a statement saying this. Quote, "Rather than engage in productive conversation about the

drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas today instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters and others in harm's way."

President Trump was also commenting on it. He took to Twitter. He tweeted out about the incident, quote, "I love Texas." And then brought it up during a rally Saturday.


TRUMP: Did anybody see the picture of the crazy bus driver on the highway surrounded by hundreds of cars?

They're all Trump flags all over. What a group.


BOLDUAN: Look, aggressive supporters on a highway aren't the only security concern as the election draws to a close, for sure. The former Director of National Intelligence said last week, the intelligence community is certain that Russia is going after the elections again and trying to undermine confidence in American democracy.

He also said the nightmare scenario is Americans will think their candidate was denied a legitimate win, which could then lead to violence.

Joining me right now is David Sanger, a national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

It's good to see you, David. You've had great reporting we've discussed before about how Russian intelligence uses Donald Trump's own words. They don't even have to make anything up themselves to put misinformation out there and try to interfere. When I saw this video, I wondered this very thing, David.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, could be. I mean, we'll have to see whether or not that video gets repeated on "RT" and through their Facebook channels and other places.

But a few things have changed in this cycle, Kate. We're not seeing the kind of direct effort that they tried in 2016, to fake American personas, to create somebody on Facebook that you think is your neighbor and so forth.

Instead, they have been taking President Trump's own words, particularly about mail-in ballots, repeating those, amplifying them and trying to get that more into the mainstream conversation and hoping it will come out of the mouths of more and more Americans, making it easier to do this channel without being blocked.

On the direct election interference, we have not seen right now a lot of hacking directly into systems. But the next 48 hours, obviously, are going to be critical. We've seen the Iranians do more in an odd way than the Russians.


BOLDUAN: When you say that you've seen -- it's different from four years ago, does different mean more or less (sic) attempts at interfering?

SANGER: Fewer attempts in the direct hacking into systems. In 2016, we saw the Russians go into the Democratic National Committee. We saw the Russians go into John Podesta's emails. We saw the mails get published.

We haven't seen as much of the hack and leak. People are still trying to investigate whether or not the Hunter Biden material that you've heard so much about is real or manufactured. And -- or a mix of the two and I don't think anybody is coming to a conclusion on that yet.

What we have seen, however, is the A team of Russian hackers, a group called Energetic Bear that has frequently within the U.S. energy grid, electrical utilities and so forth, has redirected its efforts in the past two months and is going into state and local governments.

Now so far they've only hit election sites incidentally, California and Indiana; two that are not battleground states.

One of the questions is do they use that access to move laterally?

Another theory U.S. intelligence has right now is that the Russians are actually holding their fire to see whether it's a close election and then would step in, in the influence campaign, presumably to help President Trump if there was a big argument about recount.

And that's why there's so much discussion of perception hacks, small hacks that get blown up into something bigger.

BOLDUAN: Now that sounds even more terrifying than what you normally lay out for us, that scenario that you're talking about right there, David. Thanks, David. It's great to see you. Thank you for your reporting.

SANGER: Thank you, Kate. Great to be with you and get some rest over these next 48-72 hours. It's going to be a long haul.

BOLDUAN: You as well.

The president running for reelection usually cannot say enough about why he or she needs four more years in office.

So why does Donald Trump seem to have so much trouble answering the question of what he would do in a second term?

We're going to get at that after the break.




BOLDUAN: Welcome back. President Trump has had numerous opportunities to lay out his vision for the next four years if he wins. He's been asked numerous times. He's really never laid it out. Just listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your top priority items for a second term?

TRUMP: Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I've always said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean Hannity asked you about your second term and the Left was upset with it. They said he wasn't sure what his second term is all about. Let's do it. Let's do a retake on that.

What is Donald Trump's second term?

What's the main focus with that?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't hear anybody was upset with it but I will tell you, it's very simple. We're going to make America great again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked you a question in Wisconsin and you got criticized for the answer. I want to ask you again. You're now asking America in 117 days to give you a second term as President of the United States.

What is your second term agenda?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I didn't know I was criticized for that answer because it's a simple question. First of all, we're going to defeat the invisible enemy and that's -- we're well on our way.


BOLDUAN: So there's that. The closest we may have to a second term agenda may be coming from Stephen Miller telling NBC News, the next four years of a Trump administration would showcase an even harder line on immigration.

Let's talk about this. Joining me is Michael Shear, Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" and Sabrina Siddiqui, a national politics reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."

It's great to see you both. Thank you for getting up. Appreciate it.

Michael, what have you gathered is the Trump agenda for a second term?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think if you think back a couple weeks to after they pumped President Trump full of steroids at the hospital when he went in for COVID and how manic he was kind of in the days after that, I think it's a metaphor for his second term.

It would be the first term on steroids. It's immigration but even more of it. It's xenophobic rhetoric but even more aggressive. It's fighting with allies over the course of another four years. It's trade wars with China and other countries.

You know, he's going to double down and triple down on the policies that he pursued over the last four years. I think anybody who thinks they're likely to see anything significantly different than they saw over the last four years is sort of kidding themselves.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And hasn't been watching the last four years, if we're being blunt about it. Right?

And Sabrina, do you get the sense the White House is just fine not having articulated what the goal is for them next, that they -- I don't know, don't think it matters?

They don't care?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they've been getting by for about four years doing much of the same, if you think about a lot of the major policy debates that have taken place under President Trump's watch.

They have ultimately concluded, without any real resolution, because this is a president who has declined to really involve himself in the process of legislation or dealmaking on Capitol Hill.

The only major legislative accomplishment that Republicans have seen has been the tax cuts they passed in saying he signed into law at the end of 2017.

Otherwise on immigration, on gun control, on other issues that came before this president, when he did try and convene lawmakers at the White House and make a big show of how he was pursuing, perhaps, some kind of deal that hadn't been made under his predecessors, he ultimately walked away from these processes because he's been unable to focus on anything other than him and on the media coverage of his administration and of specifically of his presidency.

So I think you're going to see a lot of the same in a second term. But one of the differences will be that he hasn't really faced any consequence. Oftentimes he's been met with criticism by members of his own party. But he hasn't really had any pushback beyond just rhetoric or a few statements given to media about how they hope he could focus not on the tweets but on some kind of legislation and agenda.

So I think that he'll probably use his executive action to try and push the boundaries as he has done before.


SIDDIQUI: And on immigration, as you're pointing out, Stephen Miller laid out an extensive agenda that seems to go further than the first term. BOLDUAN: Stephen Miller, executive action is likely going to be used

heavily when you talk about immigration.

Michael, CNN has new reporting that, despite the president suggesting often that he may not allow for a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election, Mark Meadows, CNN's reporting, and others at the White House are coordinating with the Biden campaign to get those preps underway for what is a legally mandated transition of power, should that come to pass.

Do you think people should read into that?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, look, there's sort of two levels of -- that go on in parallel at the same time, two levels of effort.

One is that there is inside the government, which is obviously sprawling and has a lot of career officials and the like, there is an effort that sort of happens every four years and the government sort of kicked -- that kicks in no matter who is in the Oval Office. I think the concern really is less at that level.

But it's really the president and what his reaction is going to be during the 2.5 month transition if Biden wins. And I think nobody quite knows how much the president, the current president, President Trump, how he will react, what he will attempt to do, both in terms of pushing a kind of last-minute agenda through and also stopping or attempting to stop or put in place land mines for the Biden transition.

And I think the clash between Donald Trump and his political agenda and the more professional kind of civil servants in the government that are going to try to put a transition together, that's what will be interesting to watch.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You can definitely see those two working in completely different spheres.

SHEAR: Opposite directions, yes.

BOLDUAN: Opposite directions.

It's great to see you both. Thank you very much.

SHEAR: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: So it is the corner stone of the Democrats' blue wall. In 2016 Donald Trump won this state, Michigan, by the slimmest of margins. Now Joe Biden is pulling out all the stops to win it back. Why it could all come down also to the state of Michigan.





BOLDUAN: The state of Michigan is breaking new records for daily COVID cases. State health officials report nearly 3,800 infections in the past 24 hours. That brings the total to more than 178,000 cases since the pandemic began.

With COVID surging in Michigan and, really, across the United States, the pandemic remains a huge issue in the election. It colors everything that the two candidates discuss, propose and promise.

Keep in mind, Michigan shocked a lot of people when the traditionally blue state went for Donald Trump in 2016.

But will it be a different story this time?

There you see the latest poll numbers. I want to bring in CNN political commentator Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, who is an epidemiologist and public health expert and Doug Heye, a Republican strategist, CNN commentator, former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Doctor, how has coronavirus impacted battleground Michigan this election, would you say?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'll tell you this. It's issue number one, two and three. We've lost thousands of people in this state. And our lives have been altered substantially.

And because of the heroic efforts governor has taken, she's faced death threats and kidnapping plots. This has shaped the conversation everybody is having with her, whether or not we can have Thanksgiving with our family or whether or not our kids will be able to go back to school in January.

These are the conversations that everybody is having. So it frames the entire debate about this election and it has become a conversation about who can take on this pandemic and bring it to an end faster.

BOLDUAN: Just to remind folks, it was a slim margin, 10,704 votes made the difference for Donald Trump in 2016 in Michigan. One of the big problems was a lot of people sitting out the 2016 election who had voted in previous elections in Michigan.

Do you think the campaigns have done enough, that that doesn't happen again this time?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think we certainly see that with early voting throughout the nation. And usually when you see a surprise win by such a slim margin, it's because a party has been caught napping.

Think about Barack Obama winning North Carolina and Indiana in 2008. Republican parties in those states were napping. Four years ago Debbie Dingell, the Democratic congresswoman was telling the Clinton campaign, don't ignore Michigan. They did ignore Michigan but Democrats aren't doing it this time. That's why it looks like it should be a good night for Joe Biden in Michigan.

BOLDUAN: And so many folks, Doctor, say that this election is a referendum on Donald Trump. Health care was such a defining issue in the midterms in 2018.

How much of a defining issue, even beyond COVID-19, is health care in Michigan?

EL-SAYED: Well, it's impossible to see health care outside of COVID because nationwide, about 5.4 million people and counting have lost their health care because of the pandemic and the fact they lost their jobs.

And then there's the fact that the Supreme Court, which has just been packed with Amy Coney Barrett, is set to hear a case that could decide whether or not the ACA remains constitutional and the law of the land.

So we really are voting for the president who is going to set the debate and set legislation for the future of American health care. And we see how critical of an issue that is in a moment, where 230,000 Americans have died, many more have gotten sick and many more are worried about losing their livelihoods and insurance.

Again, it's almost impossible not to see health care outside the context of this pandemic. It's an issue that everybody thinks about and everybody is worried about.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Doug, you mentioned Barack Obama. Biden was on the trail in Michigan with Obama this weekend. I wonder what you think his impact -- I'm going to get to that in a second. But first, what do you think the impact of Barack Obama is in helping Joe Biden in the state?

He stumped with Hillary Clinton at the end of the campaign as well. It did not -- notably not in Michigan but it did not help her out.

HEYE: Yes. Look, it's a very different circumstance. Hillary Clinton was so disliked by so many Americans who voted for Donald Trump in part because they wanted to vote against Hillary Clinton.

But Barack Obama is a rock star in the Democratic Party. It's not a surprise to see him on the campaign trail. For me, the real surprise is that we hadn't seen Michelle Obama doing any kind of events in the last couple days. She is the most popular Democrat in the country, bar none. And that we haven't seen her in a couple swing states surprises me.

BOLDUAN: What also surprises me is being able to sink a 3-point shot just on camera before you walk out onto stage. I mean, I know you both probably have immense basketball capabilities. But this happened in Michigan when Obama was -- about to go on stage with Biden.

That's what I do. Your deep thoughts, Doug, on the abilities?

HEYE: Look, it's a great moment. It's obviously one of those things that makes people feel good. If we missed it, we wouldn't have seen it. He made it, so it's great.

BOLDUAN: There you go.


EL-SAYED: Well, look, I'm more of a football guy. But I'll say this, that there's a space where politics meets culture and Obama fit that extremely well.

BOLDUAN: I will say, the Wolverine loss yesterday wasn't good for my family.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

That's a wrap for us. I'm Kate Bolduan. Our coverage continues.