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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Stakes High, Tensions High: Two Days Till Election Day; Campaign Coverage From Six Key States; Ninety-One Americans Have Already Voted; Get Out The Vote Protest Turns To Chaos; Cities Board Up For Post-Election Unrest; Scott Atlas Debuts On Russian TV As Coronavirus Denier; Trump Draws Enthusiastic Crowds As Race Tightens; Campaigns Crisscross Critical Sunbelt States; Biden Makes Last-Minute Pitch In Ohio; Georgia's Open Senate Seats Conflict. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired November 1, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Down to the wire. Two days to Election Day 2020.

The stakes are high and so are tensions, the candidates making their final pushes on the campaign trail.

And in Texas, the Biden camp cancels a scheduled stop after this scene showing Trump supporters in vehicles seemingly harassing, slowing down a Biden-Harris campaign bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: [Bleep], look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The Biden camp calling 911 and canceling its scheduled Austin, Texas, event out of an abundance of caution. Neither Biden nor Harris were onboard that bus.

Trump appearing to endorse these tactics posting another video on Twitter with the words, "I love Texas."

The president's campaign also facing criticism after a rally in must- win Pennsylvania, the event happening in near-freezing temperatures.

But it's what happened afterward. His supporters stranded in the cold again forced to walk miles back to their own vehicles after the rally. A similar scene happening last week in Nebraska.

And now new claims of voter suppression in battleground North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Whose streets?

CROWD: [Chants] Our streets.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I said black lives matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: A peaceful march to the voting polls turning into disarray. Police pepper spraying a crowd after deeming the demonstration unsafe and unlawful.

All this with just 48 hours left for candidates to make their closing arguments.

Today both campaigns are laser focused, crisscrossing at least six key states.

We have reporters covering all of the key states on the campaign trail today.

Trump is speaking right now in Michigan. But first we begin with the Biden campaign.

CNN's M.J. Lee is in Philadelphia where Joe Biden will host his first event of the day in just a few hours, M.J.

How is the Biden campaign feeling about its efforts to turn out the vote?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, Joe Biden is ending his campaign where it all started, and that is here in the state of Pennsylvania.

Remember, his first ever campaign rally as a candidate took place in Pittsburgh, his campaign headquarters, as you know, is based here in Philadelphia.

This is where we are going to see him just behind me at a Baptist Church speak in just a few hours. And of course you know he was also born in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

So there are actually a number of reasons why it would make sense for the Biden campaign to focus on this state in these final 48 hours.

But, of course, there is also an important electoral reason for this as well.

One of the most obvious paths that the Biden campaign sees to getting to 270 electoral votes is through here, the Rust Belt state including the state of Pennsylvania which, as you know, Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.

And we saw this morning senior adviser Anita Dunn telling our Jake Tapper this morning that she feels good about the number of different pathways that they think exist to getting to that 270 number. But this is what she said is keeping her up at night these days.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA DUNN, BIDEN SENIOR ADVISER, BIDEN CAMPAIGN: The thing keeping me up is the same thing keeping people up on both sides I'm sure which is how do we get out the vote, how do we make sure that we get out every single vote we can between now and when the polls close.

And then how do we make sure all the votes get counted and a winner gets called?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Speaking of counting all the votes, we know that Pennsylvania is going to be one of those states where it just might take a little while for us to know the full results.

So we just want our viewers to be fully aware of that.

But it is notable, Fred, that we have seen the Biden Campaign in recent days over and over again stressing that they really don't want to be taking anything for granted.

And that is why we are seeing them investing time and resources in these final states.

Also in states they are seen more as reaches, more challenging, more competitive. We are talking about states like Texas, like Georgia, like North Carolina.

And I should note those final two states, that is exactly where we are going to see Biden's running mate Kamala Harris campaigning today. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And, M.J., what if anything is the camp saying about these efforts of intimidation, Trump supporters whether it be in Texas or there were other cases in which there was a lot of honking, disruptions coming from Trump supporters at drive-in rallies for the Biden Harris camp?

LEE: I think they are just staying laser focused on the job at hand. And that really is getting out the vote, making sure that people are voting.

[12:05:00]

And making sure that as we head in to Election Day that they feel certain that all of the votes are going to get counted.

But I do think this is why we saw Anita Dunn in that sound byte that we just played saying this is the one thing that she is concerned about, that is keeping her up at night. She just wants to make sure that, given all of the efforts that they

have put into making sure that voters turning out -- that what we see on Election Day and beyond as these votes are getting counted, they want to make sure nobody is left behind.

And that we see a process where every single person's ballot and in- person voting efforts are being counted.

Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. M.J. Lee, thank you so much.

President Trump holding a rally with supporters right now. CNN's Omar Jimenez is there with more from the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this is one of multiple stops President Trump is making in multiple states today in the final 48 hours leading up to the election.

This first stop is in Macomb County, Michigan, a county he actually flipped from Democrat to Republican in 2016 within a state of Michigan that he won by less than a percentage point.

Yesterday, Joe Biden and President Obama were campaigning in Detroit but it was the situation in Texas that got a lot of people's attention when a Biden Campaign bus was surrounded by a caravan of Trump- supporting vehicles to the point where the campaign officials there felt they needed to call law enforcement to come and help.

And President Trump seemed to endorse that behavior by tweeting out that video and saying, "I love Texas."

The main question is how is that going to play with voters?

Again, we are 48 hours away from Election Day, and the major question here in Michigan is also how many people are still left that haven't voted.

We have already seen 2.7 million people cast their vote. That is more than half of the entire 2016 presidential election turnout. And more than half of the entire 2008 presidential turnout which saw the highest turnout in Michigan history.

But, again, as we look into how these votes are going to be counted leading up to Election Day, they can't start being counted until 7:00 am Election Day itself.

But based on a new rule that came into place here in Michigan jurisdictions with more than 25,000 people will be able to start processing some of their ballots at 10:00 am tomorrow.

Fred.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

All right. Early voter turnout is shattering records this year.

More than 91 million Americans have already voted including in key battleground states that are critical for either nominee to win the White House.

We have reporters in these critical states. Let's begin with CNN's Alexandra Field in Pittsburgh.

Alexandra, Pennsylvania is inarguably one of the most important swing states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cortical indeed, Fredricka.

And look, this is also a state that's preparing for the likelihood of a legal challenge to ballots that are received after Election Day.

So the secretary of state is again telling Pennsylvanians this morning get those mail-in ballots in, do it now, do it in person.

That's what we're seeing right behind me here in Allegheny County, people who are lining up to drop off their ballots.

The county has received some 326,000 ballots out of the 413,000 early ballots that were requested. Statewide, 2.4 million mail-in ballots have been received out of the three million ballots that were requested.

And people are being told just do this by hand this close to Election Day because there are concerns that it could take too long if you put it through the postal service.

In fact, in Central Pennsylvania, the postal services there adding more employees to move ballots along a bit more swiftly.

You heard my colleague M.J. Lee saying that both campaigns are keeping a laser focus on this critical ballot -- battleground state. That is, of course, because President Trump won Pennsylvania by just 44,000 votes.

As for former Vice President Joe Biden, recent polling shows that he's holding a narrow lead.

For the view from Milwaukee, I'll send it over to my colleague, Ryan Young. Ryan, what are you seeing there?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far we're seeing a lot of voters show up today in terms of the last day of this early voting part.

Look, take a look this direction. You can people who have lined up, this line goes around the building so far.

One of the things we also notice is there's a lot of care in handling going on, especially even with the pens that are being used here. They're being sprayed and disinfected.

That's because the coronavirus has had an impact on the this state; 5,000 positive cases as of Friday alone.

But just think about this; 1.8 million people have already voted. That's 62 percent of the 2016 people who voted at one point.

The lines have been very long. We've seen voters who are very excited about getting a part of the process.

We've been checking in with the election commission just to see exactly what's going on. So far, no problems have been reported. So that is the good part.

Yesterday we saw massive lines of people who were trying to get in for those last few hours.

[12:10:00]

Again, today in the largest two counties in the state is the last day for the early voting or the in-person voting.

There are still votes to be counted that are out there and you can register on the last day to vote in this state.

Now over to Suzanne Malveaux in North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ryan.

Well, while many North Carolina voters were attending church services either in person or on Zoom, we went to a warehouse to follow where these ballots are going, where they've been cast. They're assembling these ballot booklets.

And North Carolina voters have shattered all previous records. We're talking about 4.5 million ballots that were cast in the early voting process.

That's 60 percent of all registered North Carolinian voters, and 95 percent of all those who voted in North Carolina back in 2016. So quite extraordinary.

Those lists, those books being produced to show the 38 percent of those who have not actually voted. So that when it comes to Tuesday, those registration books will be

able to get a hold of the discrepancies for those who show up at those polling places.

At the same time, we're following an ugly story. This out of Graham, North Carolina.

Several hundred people, it was a rally, a get-out-the-vote rally, peaceful, about 200 or so calling themselves "People for Change," led by a local reverend.

They kneeled, a moment of silence for George Floyd, before approaching the courthouse.

Officials, sheriff's deputies warned them, said they had to move out of the street on to the sidewalk. And then pepper sprayed this group.

Many different posts on social media and stories showing children throwing up, a woman who actually was in a motorized chair also impacted by the pepper spray. About a dozen or so including the reverend arrested in this incident.

The governor, Governor Cooper, has spoken out against this saying that this is unacceptable behavior. Also calling it voter intimidation.

There are a lot of people who are following up on this to figure out just what happened, why this happened, and to hold those people accountable.

Multiple press conferences happening today to sort all of that out as well.

Fred.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Wow, extraordinary. On this eve to the big election.

All right. Suzanne, Ryan, Alexandra, thanks to all of you. Appreciate that.

All right. From Raleigh to Denver and Beverly Hills, this presidential election had escalated tensions so high cities are putting hurricane preparation-like measures into place, boarding up for potential post- election unrest.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins now outside Macy's iconic flagship store in New York City which was boarded up Friday. Brynn, what can you tell us about this?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. Macy's, Bloomingdales in New York City, the sort of luxury shopping section of Soho, all boarded up. And this is something that law enforcement, not just here but as you

mentioned across the country, said they've never seen before an election. This is seriously unprecedented.

And what we're learning essentially is these businesses are all taking precautions unsure of what to expect not only on Election Day but, of course, following after. Law enforcement doing the same.

Concerns of what you just heard Suzanne talk about. Voter intimidation, possible unrest after the election, wide-scale protests happening, extremist groups acting out. Possible domestic terrorism incidents that we have seen, particularly over the summer.

It's been decades, quite honestly, Fred, since we've seen stores even board up to begin with.

Now we know that law enforcement listened, they're working together. I've talked to sources who say particularly here in New York there's not a major concern of major unrest but more so in the battleground states.

And of course, there's coordination on the local, the state and the federal levels all across this country for anything that could come not just on Election Day but, of course, in the days afterwards.

In talking to people here in New York, at least I can tell you, that they say there's a little bit of anxiety in the air.

One person told us she doesn't expect to leave her apartment on Election Day and the days after just for fear for what might be on the city streets in those days.

So there's certainly an anxiety. But right now, it's all about preparation for the couple days and possibly weeks to come.

Fred.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Brynn Gingras, thank you so much. In New York City.

All right. Still ahead, two members of the coronavirus task force squaring off as the pandemic gets worse.

Dr. Anthony Fauci criticizing Dr. Scott Atlas who just appeared on Russia state media, reportedly from the White House.

Plus rappers throwing their support behind President Trump. Will it help in his re-election efforts?

And take a look at live pictures right now. Houston, Texas, where Trump supporters are holding a car rally.

Our "COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION" coverage continues in just a moment.

[12:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The nation's top infectious disease expert with a grim warning about the months ahead for the U.S.

With coronavirus cases surging to record levels across the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci telling the "Washington Post," quote --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation... You could not possibly be positioned more poorly." Unquote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Fauci also criticized Dr. Scott Atlas, the president's hand-picked coronavirus advisor, for his lack of expertise. Saying -- this is Fauci. Quote --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"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." End quote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Meanwhile, Dr. Atlas giving an extensive, jaw-dropping interview on the Kremlin-controlled propaganda TV network, "RIGHT", downplaying the pandemic. And, according to the footage, Atlas did this from the White House.

[12:20:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SCOTT ATLAS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: Lockdowns have been one of -- will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong -- were wrong or refused to accept they were wrong, didn't know the data, didn't care.

And became (ph) a frenzy of stopping covid-19 cases at all costs. And those costs are massive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES" with us, and Matthew Chance, a CNN senior international correspondent from Moscow. Good to see both of you.

Matthew, first. Why does Russia have a stake in this, what is the level of interest?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh. Well, I don't think Russia does have a stake in what's going in the United States.

But what it does want to do, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, remember, who have said this -- is use its state media to sow discord, to spread disinformation about COVID-19. And to generally sort of make trouble in the world outside of its borders.

And "Russia Today" is one of the main Kremlin-backed television channels that it uses to do this.

And so it's absolutely extraordinary for somebody of the Trump Administration given their history with allegations of association with Russia for them to do this from the actual grounds of the White House. Which is what Scott Atlas has done when he appeared on "Russia Today" in the interview.

But it's extraordinary that if you're from the Trump Administration you know very well about the allegations that I've just pointed out, that "Russia Today" is one of the means by which the Kremlin spreads its propaganda and disinformation throughout the world.

So by appearing on that channel, you're sort of contributing or at least leaving yourself open to the allegation that you're contributing to the effort.

So why would you do it? Well, I listened to that interview.

Twenty minutes of unchallenged views which are beyond what the mainstream medical community thinks about COVID. Talking about things like how lockdowns are killing Americans, how America was hysterical about COVID-19 and dismissing, basically, estimates of what the death toll could be if more measures are not put in place.

This was -- if it appeared on any respectable TV channel, Dr. Atlas would have been challenged on this.

WHITFIELD: And this is extraordinary too because the coronavirus impact is sizable there in Russia, as well. So you've got Dr. Atlas who is discrediting the validity of how hard it is impacting Russia.

Is that in step with what Putin, the Putin Administration leadership, is trying to imbue on Russians?

CHANCE: Well, I don't think it is, no. I mean, I think what you have to remember about "Russia Today" as well -- it's not Russian language, it's English language, it's not intended for Russians, it's intended for people outside of Russia.

And so why you've got someone like Scott Atlas basically denigrating the idea of mask usage -- just the last week in Russia there was a nationwide mask mandate imposed in which everybody in this country in any public place in any public transport, inside shops, even if you're in a car park in this country, you have to wear a face mask.

And so it's giving a platform to view the message on their international station but inside the borders of Russia, they're taking very strict measures to make sure that they try to keep their pandemic under as much control as possible. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Brian, so extraordinary that you would have Dr. Atlas, the hand-picked doctor from -- hand-picked from President Trump and then possibly doing this interview from the White House. Again, based on the images that are seen, that's the presumption, that it is done from the White House.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right. That's the appearance. It's labeled "From the White House." And this is happening at the same time that the top medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are worried about speaking out because they're afraid the White House is going to tell them not to do any more interviews.

And yet, Atlas can apparently do whatever he wants and speak to the Kremlin's propaganda network.

Why? Because he's undermining science and he's telling a story that President Trump likes.

History will look back on this with so much shame and regret.

I think we're going to look back someday and say why wasn't the president holding daily coronavirus briefings when the number of cases in this country were starting at 100,000 or higher? It's shocking on multiple levels.

WHITFIELD: It is shocking. All right. Brian, thank you so much, appreciate it. And Matthew from Moscow.

WHITFIELD: All right. Our "ELECTION COUNTDOWN" coverage continues in a moment.

[12:25:00]

But first, President Trump is speaking right now in Michigan, one of five states he is visiting today.

Our team coverage from the campaign trail continues in just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: (...) railroad, raised up the --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And as we head to a break. Twenty-five seconds that will make you feel good about politics.

Four governors from three different parties urging people to vote.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:30:00]

WHITFIELD: All right. Right now, President Trump is wrapping up a rally in the first of five states that he plans to visit today. Joe Biden is focusing on Pennsylvania after canceling events in Texas after Trump supporters swarmed a Biden campaign bus. As you see in this video here.

Joining me right now to discuss is Brittany Shepherd, a national politics reporter for "Yahoo News," who is in Delaware traveling with Joe Biden and Jeff Mason, a White House correspondent for "Reuters." Good to see you.

Brittany, you first. President Trump tweeted out a video appearing to encourage this kind of activity.

What is the message that he is sending?

BRITTANY SHEPHERD, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "YAHOO NEWS:" Well, Fred, it's hard to get inside the president's mind but it seems to be that the president and his family and those in the White House orbit is stressed about Texas.

And that it might be OK to incite his fans and his followers to get in Biden campaign staffers' face.

I mean, there's been some clamor in Democratic circles, worry that at polls on Tuesday there will be poll watchers who are favorable to Donald Trump. They're kind of intimidating voters.

And I think what we saw in Texas might be a bit of a grim indication of what might happen on Tuesday.

Texas is a state that is largely in play for the first time in a very long time for Democrats. Trump is up between averages I think one, only on percent on Biden.

And I think that perhaps some of Donald Trump's most fervent supporters might see his tweet and language from his son that it is OK to get up in the face of Biden supporters. Especially if that margin is as close Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we get into a contested election.

WHITFIELD: So, Jeff, perhaps this is par for the course, right, for the president? If he sees something like that intimidation, he applauds it or -- perhaps, your experience recently of the ribbing that happens when you or others wear masks to protect against the pandemic.

Here is the moment that you had with the president recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "REUTERS:" Prime Minister Netanyahu, if you can hear me. Jeff Mason with "Reuters." What --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is Jeff Mason. He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: [Laughs] TRUMP: So I don't know if you can hear him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So the president clearly, Jeff, is not changing minds at this point. He is preaching to his choir.

But the question is when Democrats seem to dominate the early voting numbers in certain states, is this how the president gets Republicans out in these final two days to vote for him?

MASON: Fred, I think that question was for me --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MASON: -- and I'm afraid I'm having trouble with my IFB so I'm not sure what it was.

But I will tell you that if we're talking broadly about the campaign, I did spend the last several days traveling with President Trump in Pennsylvania.

Yesterday he did four rallies that I was at as part of the pool. And there is a lot of enthusiasm coming out for President Trump.

So as we see the polls tightening in that state and in the others that he is fighting to win, I can tell you just -- remember in 2016 a lot of people did dismiss crowd sizes.

And the Trump campaign at that time said don't dismiss this, that's what they're saying again now. And they're seeing a lot of enthusiasm coming out for him.

So no doubt both candidates are pushing hard in the final couple of days of this race.

But the Trump campaign is showing quite a bit of optimism because of that momentum that they're seeing in terms of people coming up or coming out. And in terms of the polls tightening in key swing states.

WHITFIELD: And, Jeff, as we are looking at some images now, I understand these are images coming out of Texas.

This time, Houston, a caravan of cars there, you can see the flags waving Trump support.

Brittany, the Trump campaign is touting what it says is growing support from black voters.

That image not necessarily exemplifying that but the president is touting he's getting support even from black celebrities.

Including 50 Cent who has spoken favorably about Trump's tax policies.

Listen to this clip from "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" mocking this kind of support. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM CARREY AS JOE BIDEN, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE ELECTION NIGHTMARE": Why in the name of all that is holy would you be voting for Trump?

KENAN THOMPSON AS ICE CUBE: Taxes.

CHRIS REDD AS LIL WAYNE: Taxes. Plus Trump's got a new platinum plan.

KENAN THOMPSON AS ICE CUBE: That's right. If you got a platinum record, you can plan on him doing photo op with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. So and recently Lil Wayne threw his support behind Trump.

So is there something to the White House latching on to some black celebrities thinking that it can connect with black voters as if there is some monolithic --

[12:35:00]

-- voting going on?

SHEPHERD: Well, Fred, first I think it needs to be said that all of those celebrities that you just quoted are very rich people, right?

And if we're thinking about voters as intersectional, they are both black and rich. Very likely making over $400,000 in which Biden's tax plan would make them pay more money.

So at the end of the day, people (inaudible), they lead with what impacts them more.

And I would also say that those three voters are not necessarily -- those three rappers are not a good cross section of the black experience across the country. At least when I talked to voters like right here in Wilmington.

Though it is -- it should be said that Donald Trump and his campaign is making some gains with black voters.

I think last time around they were hitting a nine percent, 10 percent favorability. You look at averages now, it's 13. Three percent, it's not a big number but it's a little bit of a gain.

And just like Jeff was saying, it really comes to turnout.

So even if you get 1,000 more people at one polling place or another, that little difference really matters. Especially in states like Florida and Georgia where black voters can be really determine it one way or another.

That's why Biden's campaign is putting so much money -- and the Democrats in general -- into those states that seemed like reaches in previous elections because they think that they can get these black men to turn out.

And frankly, I think the bigger issue is if black men don't vote at all.

That's why Democrats are very worried and that's what Republicans are really banking on to deliver a similar result as what happened last time.

WHITFIELD: And both camps really crisscrossing a good portion of the country. Georgia, you mentioned, North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Dotting the map for Biden as well as Trump and all of their surrogates and running mates.

Thank you so much, Brittany Shepherd and Jeff Mason. Appreciate it.

All right. After a race like no other, it all ends here. Join us for special coverage the way only CNN can bring it to you from the first votes to the critical count.

Understand what's happening in your state and across the country. "ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICA." Our special coverage starts Tuesday 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

All right. Up next, the road to 270 votes.

We'll have a closer look at voting in the Sunbelt.

And we're standing by for Senator Kamala Harris who is speaking in Gwinnett County, Georgia outside of Atlanta.

Next hour.

[12:40:00]

WHITFIELD: Both campaigns are in the south today to court voters in the pair of critical battleground states in the Sunbelt.

President Trump will make stops in Rome, Georgia and Opa-locka, Florida today.

And next hour, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will be campaigning in Gwinnett County, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, before heading to North Carolina.

Phil Mattingly, CNN congressional correspondent, joining me right now.

So Phil, how key is the Sunbelt to both candidates getting to 270 electoral votes and the White House?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Fredricka, one thing I think everybody's trying to remind folks of at this point in time is 2020 is not 2016.

It is a different election and part of the reason it's a different election is because of the Sunbelt.

Now look, let's go back to the 2016 map.

Because this is largely the pathway that President Trump and his team are attempting to reclaim again. And it's largely the pathway that Vice President Biden and his team are attempting to learn the lessons of 2016 from.

And the reality remains the same.

The Midwest, the Rust Belt, that is the pathway to 270 for President Trump and blocking that pathway is likely president -- or Vice President Biden's quickest way to 270.

However, the focus down here, you go down here through the Sunbelt underscores a key reality.

That there are more states in play, at least the Democrats think they're in play, than perhaps they were in 2016.

Let's just take a look at the reason why. Go through the polling as where things stand right now.

Now Florida, North Carolina, these have been toss up states for the last several cycles and they continue to be and likely will for the foreseeable future.

But take a look at the numbers in Georgia. Right now CNN's Poll of Polls has Biden with a three-point lead.

Take a look at the numbers in Arizona. Right now CNN's Poll of Polls has Biden a five-point lead.

That is very, very tight. But Democrats making clear they believe that shows they have a clear opportunity.

Then you look at the pre-Election Day vote. Be it vote by mail, vote in person as well -- I'll add Texas in here too just because the numbers are so bonkers; 109 percent of the entire 2016 vote in Texas has come in.

And nobody really has any idea where that surge has come from necessarily.

Georgia's at 95 percent. North Carolina at 93 percent. Arizona at 92 percent. Florida at 89 percent.

The reality is the enthusiasm is unparalleled and a lot of it is coming from this area. Not just because of vote by mail but also early vote in person.

So what does that mean for the map if you took this away?

Look, if you're the Biden Campaign, the reality remains the same.

Your quickest way to 270 based on President Trump's 2016 map; you win Pennsylvania, Michigan, you win back Wisconsin, that blue wall is re- established and guess what, you're back over 270.

However, factor in what if President Trump wins Pennsylvania, what if President Trump wins the state of Wisconsin -- he did it in 2016.

The polls in Wisconsin don't look great for Trump, but perhaps he can do it again, perhaps Pennsylvania tightens up.

[12:45:00]

Then all of a sudden, you're looking down here. You're looking at Georgia, you're looking at Arizona where Democrats very much feel like they have a slight edge right now.

Obviously, you're always paying attention to Florida and North Carolina.

So what happens if you lose Pennsylvania and you're the Biden Campaign, if you lose Wisconsin, you're the Biden Campaign but you flip the state of Georgia and you flip the state of Arizona?

Right now, Fred, it's all about pathways. It's all about pathways.

There's no question about it, the Biden Campaign looks at the Midwest and see that's as their easiest pathway.

But when they look down at Georgia, when you see Kamala Harris in Gwinnett County, when you see Vice President Biden make visits to Arizona, they are trying to keep pathways open because you never know what's going to happen on election night.

And right now the numbers say, at least at the moment, Georgia, Arizona might actually be in play.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then, Phil, I got to ask you to shift gears. Because we're just now learning now that Biden is going to be in Cleveland, Ohio, tomorrow.

So what does it say about the strategy, what does it say about Ohio? Ohio was always in play. But why the attention now from the Biden camp?

MATTINGLY: Yes, look it's fascinating. As an Ohioan --

WHITFIELD: OK.

MATTINGLY: -- who's very used to Ohio being a swing state, let's go look back into 2016 and look at what happened.

Donald Trump blew Hillary Clinton out of the water in the state of Ohio.

WHITFIELD: Right.

MATTINGLY: Ohio's usually a one, two-point race. And the Clinton campaign was still coming into Cleveland in that last couple of days thinking that they had a shot there. Donald Trump won by 450,000 votes.

Look, where president -- where Vice President Biden is going is important, he's going into Cuyahoga County, he's going into the home of Cleveland.

He's looking to boost up urban turnout, he's looking to boost up African-American turnout as well.

But I think the key thing when you talk to both Democrats and Republicans in Ohio, Republicans feel like they will win, they feel like it'll be close.

However, they acknowledge it's tighter than they expected it to be.

And part of the reason why it's tighter than they expected it to be? You come down here to Cincinnati, you come down here to Hamilton County. And you start looking -- pushing out into the suburbs.

It's the same formula the Democrats used in 2018 to win back the House, it's the formula they're relying on in 2020.

You go into Cincinnati, you come in the outskirts of Toledo, you're obviously go into Cuyahoga County and use Columbus to try and run up some votes, maybe push into the suburbs in Franklin County.

Those they believe are real opportunities based on how women voters, suburban voters, have moved away and if they can boost minority turnout.

Can they do it? I think there's real questions about that. But the fact that Biden is going there --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- says they at least believe, Fred, they've got a shot.

WHITFIELD: All right. It really underscores the importance of the able to shift gears as they head to the finish line.

Phil Mattingly, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead. Two key senate seats up for grabs in Georgia. And the races are getting hotter than ever.

Plus Senator Kamala Harris hits the campaign trail in Georgia and will speak at any moment.

We're there live.

Our "COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION" coverage continues in just a moment.

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[12:50:00]

WHITFIELD: All right. Live images right now outside of Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia.

You're looking at Congressman Hank Johnson. He's doing the intro to what will become an intro for Senator Kamala Harris, vice presidential nominee there.

Of course, we'll continue to monitor the remarks there.

The president of the United States also heading to Georgia later on today. Georgia is clearly a battleground state.

And Manu Raju explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a problem many Republicans did not foresee.

Two GOP held senate seats in Georgia at risk of flipping to the Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You all say "Two for two."

CROWD: Two for two.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Two for two.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Republican Senator David Perdue struggling to fend off Democrat Jon Ossoff, a candidate less than half his age.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: You're 33 years old. So why are you qualified to be a senator?

JON OSSOFF, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR SENATOR, GEORGIA: When people look at Washington, the last thing they say is that there's too many young people in positions of power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Ossoff has accused Perdue of ignoring the coronavirus crisis and seeking to profit from it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSSOFF: It's not just that you're a crook, Senator, it's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Perdue spending big on TV ads defending himself over stock trades he said were made without his knowledge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R-G.A.): I was completely cleared by the bipartisan senate ethics committee, DOJ and SEC. The truth matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: As polls show a tight race, Perdue stoked controversy by mocking the name of Joe Biden's running mate, senator Kamala Harris at a Trump rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERDUE: Kamala or Kamala, Kamalamalamala. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Was it a racist attack?

OSSOFF: Unquestionably.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Perdue abruptly pulled out of this Sunday's debate choosing instead to attend President Trump's rally. It's consistent with Perdue's efforts to avoid the media.

His campaign would not disclose his plans this week but CNN learned he was in Central Georgia.

His supporters tried to block our camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This guy's trying to block us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: And prevent any questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Just to let you know. He's not going to do an interview, I'll tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: As he made his way onto his bus, CNN approached him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: We tried to reach out to your campaign but your campaign wouldn't tell us why you were -- where you were doing, what you were doing. I'm wondering why that was.

PERDUE: Well, you're asking me a question?

RAJU: Yes, I'm asking you. Your other --

PERDUE: That's a campaign question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Perdue said his race is closer (ph) due to an influx of new voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: We just talked to John Ossoff, he was very critical about you. He also called your comments about Kamala Harris -- he said they were racist. What's your response to that?

PERDUE: Well, that's about all he can talk about. Because he can't talk about his agenda. Thanks, guys.

RAJU: Do you regret what you --

PERDUE: Thanks, guys.

RAJU: Do you regret what you said about -- mispronouncing her name?

PURDUE: Thanks, guys. Thanks, guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Tuesday's winner must receive more than 50 percent of the vote. If not, the top two will compete in a January runoff.

That is almost certain in appointed GOP senator Kelly Loeffler's race to hold Georgia's other senate seat.

But the GOP is bitterly divided after Congressman Doug Collins jumped into that race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER, (R-G.A.): He's one of the most liberal Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG COLLINS, (R-G.A.) I'll tell you what it is. You're pretending to be somebody you're not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:55:00]

RAJU: As Collins and Loeffler both fight to get into the run off, they are targeting their base. And not swing voters campaigning as Trump loyalists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Is there any issue in which you disagree with the president on?

LOEFFLER: No. Look the president, like myself, he's a political outsider.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Claiming to be unaware of Trump's boast to "Access Hollywood" about sexually assaulting women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOEFFLER: I'm not familiar with that.

RAJU: The "Access Hollywood" tapes. He's referring to the "Access" recordings.

LOEFFLER: Yes. No, look. This president is fighting for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Collins also defended Trump, including on the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: No, you're not quibbling with his response at all in any way to the crisis?

COLLINS: I don't quibble. I don't go back and forth with him (inaudible).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Their fight has left their top Democratic foe, Raphael Warnock, largely unscathed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAPHAEL WARNOCK, DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: I think that's a bizarre thing for anybody running for the senate to say. That I -- 100 percent with any president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now both Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would not say how they would differ from Joe Biden.

I asked them are there any issues in which you break from the Democratic presidential nominee, they would not say.

They both claimed that they would be an independent voice but did not provide any specifics on the differences. Nevertheless, they pushed back on the notion they would be 100 percent in line with their party's leader. Unlike the Republicans who are aligning themselves very closely with this president.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you, Manu. More "COUNTDOWN TO THE ELECTION" right after this.

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