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Trump Campaigns in Iowa as part of Battleground Blitz; USPS Reports Another Drop in On-Time Movement of Ballots; FBI Investigating Alleged Harassment of Biden Campaign Bus. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 1, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: President Trump meantime is in Iowa right now; one of five states he is visiting in a single day. The others are Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Those are all big battleground states this election and any of them could help decide the winner.

We start in Pennsylvania where the Biden campaign is pulling all its chips out and putting them on the table. Joe Biden is there now, but the entire campaign team will be in that state tomorrow and CNN M.J.'s Lee is joining us from Philadelphia. M.J., tell us more about all the emphasis on Pennsylvania.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we are seeing how in these final 48 hours, Pennsylvania is really the focus of the Biden campaign. I should note we just saw the Biden motorcade pull up here to a Baptist Church behind me, so we should be seeing the former Vice President speak here in Philadelphia any minute now.

But the Biden campaign also just announcing how the Biden campaign is going to be fanned out across the entire state of Pennsylvania tomorrow. Listen to this, Biden is going to be in Beaver County with union and labor leaders tomorrow. He is also going to have a drive-in event in Pittsburgh with the African-American community, and then he is going to end the final day with another drive-in rally in Pittsburgh, which is symbolically important because you might recall that his first ever campaign event as a candidate in 2020 was also in Pittsburgh.

So a lot of symbolic importance and of course, political importance, as well. The campaign very much knows that the path to victory to 270 could very well likely run through the Midwest -- Ana.

CABRERA: Donald Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016 to claim those 20 electoral votes. He edged out Hillary Clinton by just 44,000 or so votes, less than one percentage point. Does Biden's path to victory have to run through the Rust Belt?

LEE: Well, no, at least the Biden campaign has been emphasizing in these final days that they don't necessarily need to have that path run through the Rust Belt. They are saying one of the things that they feel most confident about is that they think that there are actually multiple ways of getting to the 270 electoral votes, and it is why they say they are investing in other states that are closer, that are more competitive, where the polling has shown Biden closer to President Trump.

We are talking about states like Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina. I should note those final two states is exactly where Kamala Harris is campaigning today, Ana.

CABRERA: And as we look at that podium, the soul of the nation at stake is the Biden campaign theme here. Thank you, M.J. Lee.

Right now, President Trump is speaking in Iowa. Let's go ahead and listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... ballots. How about the Supreme Court ruling with the Supreme Court. No, this was not good. The Supreme Court gave them more time -- more time. So what does this mean? Does this mean we go and we wait, so it's not November 3rd, it's going to be much later than then. No. No.

We should know the result of the election on November 3rd.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

TRUMP: The evening of November 3rd. That's the way it's been and that's the way it should be. What's going on in this country? What's going on?

We believe that every child is a sacred gift from God.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

TRUMP: Biden and Harris will eliminate the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans. Their socialist takeover will ration care and force you unto endless waitlists. Let's -- you're going to have waitlists. You know, what we've done by the way for the military has been incredible. We've gotten rid of the waitlist for our veterans.

Our opponents would pack the Supreme Court with far left justices. And by the way, he is never -- you know, we're into the voting now. It's ridiculous. I'd like -- by the way, I liked Election Day, and most of you do, too. Who is going to vote on Election Day?

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

TRUMP: Okay. And who has already voted.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

TRUMP: Okay. And you sent ballots in? Be careful with the ballots. Be careful. Just be careful of those ballots. I don't know.

Our opponents would pack the court, but remember, so a lot of people have already been -- he has never -- CABRERA: Okay, speaking of those mail-in ballots, we have some major

breaking news that could put mail in ballots at risk. With just two days to go into the election, the U.S. Postal Service is reporting yet another drop in on-time movement of ballots and some critical battleground states are among those seeing the worst of it.

I want to get straight to CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom, how much of an impact will this have?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if this race is as close as some people think it might be, Ana, it could make a big difference because all it takes is a few thousand ballots not showing up where they should be and you could have a big impact.

I mean, look at what we're seeing right now in this reporting about what the delays have been. In some places, for example, Central Pennsylvania, 62 percent are moving on time with the ballots; in Atlanta, 64 percent; in Northern New England, 64 percent; and it is under 90 percent in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina, parts of Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

[15:05:13]

FOREMAN: That last list there, all those in there, we're talking about a just a fistful of battleground states, which really could be key in deciding this race.

I will say, Ana, this is precisely what many Democrats have worried about all along that the Postal Service was not going to be reliable here. They have had a lot of their own theories about why that might be the case.

The Postal Service basically suggests they are dealing with this chronic understaffing with an increased volume of mail out there. There have been in the past some flags raised about the pandemic and the impact that may have on everything.

The bottom line is, whatever the reason out there in about half the states, if the ballots don't arrive by Election Day, even if they were posted three weeks ago, they don't count. So look at the states we are talking about, look at the idea that a bunch of ballots could show up that were posted two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and they simply don't get counted, and if this is a close race, this could be a very big deal -- Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, Tom Foreman, thank you for that update. I should note that there was a Federal Judge ruling, ordered just this weekend, ordering the Postal Service to take extraordinary measures to go above and beyond to get these ballots moving. So we're going to continue to watch that situation.

In the meantime, let's discuss with CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon; and the host of PBS "Firing Line," Margaret Hoover. So John, I just want to go back to where the campaigns are today, and let's start with Joe Biden. He could be campaigning anywhere two days before the election. He is in Philadelphia, a reliably blue city. Now, tomorrow, he will continue in Pennsylvania. He'll head to

Cleveland, Ohio, as well. What does all of that tell you?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, first of all, Pennsylvania is the Keystone State, literally in this campaign. It is the -- what it guarantees if he can flip it, a Biden win. What's more -- and you're right, Philadelphia is traditionally, you know, it should be a Democratic given. The issue is turnout. That's where Hillary Clinton got hurt. Will turn up be sufficiently high in Philadelphia and the suburbs?

But the fact he is campaigning in Cleveland tomorrow in Ohio sends a very different signal. Ohio is a state that no Republican thought would be in play at the beginning of this year. And now, a lot of folks think it might be, so that's definitely reaching out beyond his base.

But you see that Rustbelt core that surrounds the blue wall that the Biden campaign is really focusing on flipping this time.

CABRERA: Margaret, Trump on the other hand, is all over the place. He is blitzing through five battleground states today. What do you make of that strategy hitting five different states rather than just focusing on maybe one or two key states?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, both campaigns know there are essentially five battleground states in this election, and Trump, frankly, needs to win all of the states that he won last time and he basically has to hold.

So he is just -- he is blitzing frankly, Ana, because he personally doesn't have money in his campaign coffers. And he is trying to drum up the earned media in order to get the attention to rally the base to turn out numbers.

We know the Trump strategy has never been to expand the tent or to expand the number of people who will vote for him, so he has to rely on his core supporters in all of those states to turn out in order to hold all of the states so he almost doesn't have a case. He has to drum up the energy.

CABRERA: And he is obviously counting on his family, too to help bring those voters out with Ivanka now just joining him in Dubuque, Iowa. Apologies for interrupting there, I wanted to let our viewers know about these live pictures.

AVLON: And if there is one thing that says --

CABRERA: Go ahead, John.

AVLON: I am just saying, Ana, if there is one thing that says relatability to Rustbelt voters. It's Ivanka Trump.

HOOVER: Yes, lover boy, that's not fair. They love the Trump family and the core supporters that are Trump supporters love the family as much as they love Donald Trump. AVLON: Remember we have said Ohio, let me tell you, that will go over

real well.

HOOVER: It's a -- forgive the snide on my left here.

CABRERA: Let's talk about taxes for a moment.

AVLON: Got to have some fun with it. There is so much stress going on.

CABRERA: Because there have been some drama, and now, an F.B.I. investigation regarding that ugly scene involving the Trump supporters swarming a Biden campaign bus on the highway. The F.B.I. again now investigating and R.N.C. Chair Ronna McDaniel was asked about this on "Face the Nation" this morning, prior to us learning about this investigation. Take a listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: The President tweeted out a version of this video yesterday. What is your response to that? I mean, that appears to be an act of intimidation being endorsed by the President.

RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You know, I haven't seen that part of the video. I saw a little bit of the Trump supporter surrounding the Biden bus. Certainly, you don't want harm and we shouldn't be hurting other people. So, the President would not endorse that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:10:01]

CABRERA: Guys, President Trump did endorse it and he again made light of it today saying his supporters were protecting Biden's bus because they were nice. What's your reaction?

AVLON: I mean, look, there are a couple of different flavors of Trump denial, and one of which is when people say when they're really stuck, well, I didn't see that. And that's what we heard from the R.N.C. Chairwoman, because there's no excuse for intimidation and the President did appear to endorse that. He has got a pattern of endorsing that.

And so when confronted with the facts, you simply say, I haven't seen the tape.

HOOVER: Look, it is one of those where the video speaks for itself, frankly. And that happened in Texas, another event happened in North Carolina yesterday where people were trying to just peacefully go vote were pepper sprayed and having a BLM peaceful march to act -- to demonstrate their right to vote -- were pepper sprayed by police all in North Carolina.

I think these kind of events actually are the kinds of things that in states like Texas and in states like North Carolina that are very, very close, could make a difference on the margins where every single vote counts, and so, it doesn't actually -- it doesn't break well for the Trump campaign in terms of how they have played it in both states.

AVLON: But it is a tell perhaps with the kind of election we foresee.

CABRERA: But and I wonder what you think of how the Trump campaign is playing the pandemic at this moment? Dr. Anthony Fauci gave his most candid interview yet, and he slammed the White House's coronavirus response.

In a "Washington Post" interview, he criticized Trump's go to pandemic adviser, Scott Atlas, and his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and that led to the White House actually lashing out at Fauci. Margaret, is it bad politics for Trump and his allies to get wrapped up in a feud with Dr. Fauci, not just at this stage in the race, but at this stage in the pandemic?

HOOVER: Ana, every time they are talking about the coronavirus they are losing every single time. If they're talking about the economy, they're actually doing better. And they had great economic numbers on Friday, but instead, they are so thin skinned and so aware of their vulnerability, they can't let it go.

And so yes, not only is it bad for him to insult somebody who has a 65 percent approval rating, and an enormous lifetime of credibility in his field. But all it does is remind people of how poorly they have managed this pandemic.

CABRERA: Margaret Hoover and John Avlon, we appreciate both of you.

AVLON: What she said.

CABRERA: Thank you. Thank you. See you soon.

HOOVER: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Just a couple of days now before the election. We're going to take a quick break. We're standing by for Joe Biden in Philadelphia. Meantime, Trump continues to speak at an event in Iowa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:45]

CABRERA: The path to 270 electoral votes and the presidency goes straight through key battleground states and the campaign schedules in the final days show both Trump and Biden know it.

CNN correspondents are on the ground to bring you the very latest. I want to start with CNN's Bill Weir in Madison, Wisconsin, and Bill, in 2016, President Trump won Wisconsin by a margin of just over 22,000 votes. What are you hearing from voters this time around? And I'm curious if Brett Favre's recent endorsement of Trump is having any impact there?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it might, absolutely. We're actually in the middle of a Packers Sunday right now. The hollowed team is playing the Vikings. So, you've got to give even more credit to these party poll workers who are out in this freezing temperature, helping folks vote from their cars if they so desire or they can go inside as well.

There are about 1.87 million ballots that are already in here in Wisconsin, just shattering all early sort of democracy early voting records right now. But the interesting thing in this state is that they can't start opening a single one of those ballots until 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and so a lot of the small communities up in Northern Wisconsin that might lean more red, they will get their numbers in earlier.

Big cities like Madison and Milwaukee, it might take them into Wednesday to get things done.

The other news in the state, Ana, is that the mail -- the election mail was so slow due to the Postal Service's own numbers that a Federal Judge in Washington State this week, ordered the Postal Service in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region to have a nightly sweep starting tonight. And if they find any ballots, they must take extraordinary measures to get them in by Tuesday night.

But then, during the primaries, 23,000 ballots -- absentee ballots were rejected because they forgot to sign the envelope. And of course, as you said, that was the difference in this election four years ago, less than 23,000 votes.

For the latest from a much warmer battleground state, let's go to my colleague, Drew Griffin down in Tallahassee, Florida.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Bill. Much easier to vote today here in Florida, beautiful weather. And you know, it's been kind of steady, but not a big push on this last afternoon of early voting. But it's been a tremendous success, 8.7 million voters overall.

What is a little bit troubling to Democrats at this moment is the gap between registered Democrats and registered Republicans showing up for the polls has now narrowed that early voting to less than a hundred thousand, although 1.8 million Floridians say they're not affiliated with any party, they have voted.

But it's this enthusiasm gap that Democrats are starting to see that has them a bit concerned, which is why events took place like here in Tallahassee we are about to show you, a Souls to Polls March, Jill Biden was here in Tallahassee, and was there to kick off this march, in which several hundred people actually marched down directly from church service to the polls this morning to cast their ballots.

You also have Barack Obama coming to South Florida later on, I think tomorrow, actually trying to get more of the minority voters out, which is where the Democrats believe they are under reporting.

[15:20:10]

GRIFFIN: Big, big state here for Donald Trump. He has to win the 29 electoral votes basically to have any chance at the math.

But in the meantime, Biden is trying to hold him off and we're going to go to Alex Field up in Pittsburgh -- I believe you're in Pittsburgh, right Alex?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am in Pittsburgh indeed, in Pennsylvania, which is exactly where the candidates are spending a whole lot of time. Both campaigns leaving everything on the field when it comes to the battle for Pennsylvania.

On top of President Trump's four rallies here just yesterday, he will be back in Pennsylvania tomorrow. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigning in Pennsylvania today. His team barnstorming the state tomorrow on the day before the election, with the recent announcement that they're bringing in some star power to try to close the deal tomorrow. Senator Kamala Harris will be campaigning with John Legend in Philadelphia, and Biden will be spending part of Election Eve right here in Pittsburgh accompanied by none other than Lady Gaga.

The stakes are high in Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes on the line. This is a state that Trump flipped back in 2016 with just 44,000 votes. Recent polls in Pennsylvania show Biden with a narrow lead, but nobody is leaving anything up to chance.

As for the 2020 results from Pennsylvania, well, patience will be required. Some three million mail-in ballots have been requested in Pennsylvania, 2.4 million have already been returned. None of those ballots can be counted until Election Day. But some counties are saying they won't start counting mail-in ballots until the day after the election.

On top of that, Pennsylvania is preparing for further legal challenges to ballots that arrive after Election Day, so it could take some time to get that result out of Pennsylvania. If you want your mail-in ballot to count here, you're being urged to drop it off directly. That's what they're doing here.

Now, for the view from Maine, we will take it to my colleague Evan McMorris-Santoro. Evan, what are you seeing up there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Alex. Greetings from one of the swingier parts of upper New England and the swingiest city in that swingier part.

I'm talking about Maine's second congressional district. Now, the way things work in Maine is that even if a candidate wins the state, another candidate can pick up one congressional district -- one electoral vote here in this congressional district.

Donald Trump actually did that in 2016. He was the first candidate to do it. And in Auburn where I'm standing, Auburn, Maine is the place to explain how that works.

Now, President Obama won Auburn, Maine by more than 2,000 votes in 2012. But President Trump won it by just 29 votes in 2016. So turnout is important. And we're seeing here as we are seeing all over the country, a huge interest in absentee voting.

More than 8,000 people have already voted here absentee and I spoke to the town clerk while she was tallying ballots, we got to look at that about the extra workload this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN CLEMENTS-DALLAIRE, CITY CLERK, AUBURN, MAINE: It's been extremely, extremely busy. The absentee applications for absentee ballots became available 90 days before the election and we were getting hundreds of requests daily.

I feel like we're you know, we're living history. But it's extremely stressful.

All of my staff, we've been working late nights, 10 to 12 hour days for probably a good month and we're working weekends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORO: Just an amazing, dedicated group of people at that assembly line of democracy there in that town hall here in Auburn, we won't know who won those votes until the close of physical polls on Tuesday night. They are tallying them, but they don't release those numbers or no one actually knows that they are until that night.

Now we know that both of the candidates have been here. We have seen Dr. Jill Biden here last week, and President Trump made a stop here last weekend. Maine 2 is only one congressional district, only one electoral vote, but it's an important one -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, everybody needs to get out there and vote. Evan McMorris-Santoro, Alexandra Field, Drew Griffin, and Bill Weir, my thanks to all of you.

We are almost there after a race like no other, it all ends here. Join us for special live 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 at 4:00 pm Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:59]

CABRERA: Live pictures from Philadelphia, where Joe Biden is set to hold a Get-Out-The-Vote event any moment now, part of an effort to rebuild that blue wall that Trump tore down in 2016. But it's not just a fight for those states.

The Biden team has also been after states that in the past have been reliably red. CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston is back with us now. So Mark, Biden's campaign believes winning back those white working class voters in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that may give him the clearest path to 270 electoral votes.

Yet, we know his campaign is spending a lot of time in the south as well, sending former President Obama, Senator Kamala Harris to Florida and Georgia. What role could the South play?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it could play a huge role, and if we do see some kind of remaking of the map, it will be the remaking of politics as we've known it, certainly in current time.

But let me just start with this. As you said, Ana, we've spent so much time focusing up here in the Midwest because this is the clearest path that Joe Biden and his campaign thinks that they can win the White House by, but that's not the only path.

Right now, not only did we see Donald Trump up in Michigan, but Donald Trump went to or will be in North Carolina. Georgia and Florida today as well.

[15:30:11]

PRESTON: What's interesting about that, Democrats have won Florida only four times since 1976. They've only won Georgia three times since 1976. And by the way, two of those times were the governor, former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter. And up in North Carolina, it's only been two times.

So think about that. You have Donald Trump on the defensive right now, but not only in these three states right here, Texas as well. One time since 1976 have Democrats won Texas that again, was in the Carter years, and let's just go out to Arizona as well because again, another state that Democrats have not won, or rather have only won one time since 1976.

So if you look at that map right there, you're clearly seeing Donald Trump on the defensive. He is in Rome, Georgia this afternoon. That is a very conservative part of the state. We've seen the Senate candidate step out of out of a debate and just decide to go with Donald Trump to appear at this rally. They clearly are concerned. And why are they concerned?

Well, just look at this right here. Look at the polling right here that shows you at this point. This is unheard of, well, it should be unheard of at this point of the juncture. But the fact of the matter is, Republicans are playing defense there. And this is to tie in, as we talk about the news that we've seen out of Texas, where 127,000 votes will be counted, or we expect them to be counted because Republicans have filled a challenge to them.

Well, look at this reason why, in Texas, the 2016 vote compared to where we are now, they are now almost 110 percent where they were four years ago. For Democrats, that is very good and we're seeing that in these other states as well -- Ana.

CABRERA: Oh my gosh, it is so exciting and I think a lot of people feel anxiety about what is going to come on Election Night. Mark Preston, thank you for outlining the pathways for both candidates.

It's not just who wins the election that's causing concern and anxiety, businesses in major cities are boarding up and bracing for what may come after Election Day.

But first, here is Christine Romans with what investors will be watching for the run up to the election -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Wall Street is on edge ahead of the election, frankly. Investors are worried there will be no definitive winner on Tuesday night. Delays in counting mail-in ballots could create the kind of uncertainty Wall Street hates.

Stocks already came under pressure last week as coronavirus cases rose. The big fear is how much worse the pandemic will get and whether it derails the fragile economic recovery. Expect to hear a lot about that on Wednesday when the Federal Reserve meets.

Fed Chief Jerome Powell is likely to renew his call for more stimulus from Congress, but chances for a deal in the lame duck session are uncertain. Investors will also be watching for the October Jobs Report on Friday.

In September, the economy added 661,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stood at 7.9 percent.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:37:30]

CABRERA: We are continuing to follow some breaking news. The F.B.I. is investigating the alleged harassment of a Biden campaign bus in Texas. Here's the video of the incident. You can see a caravan of Trump supporters who appears to surround this bus as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin. This was on Friday.

And according to a source familiar with what happened, people in this so called Trump train shouted obscenities and blockaded the entire Biden campaign entourage. In fact, a Biden staffer later tweeted this picture of her damaged car.

Joining us now on the phone, CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell. He is a former Supervisory Special Agent with the F.B.I. Josh, why would the F.B.I. be involved?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes, Ana, that is still unclear about what their specific role is. A law enforcement source tells me that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now investigating this incident.

It's unclear right now whether that there is a standalone Federal investigation into criminal law or whether the F.B.I. is there to assist local authorities in their investigation. But nevertheless, we do know that F.B.I. resources are now involved in investigating the circumstances surrounding this.

And as you mentioned, we know based on some of that video, we see that bus traveling up the I-35 corridor on Friday, when it was swarmed by vehicles sporting Trump 2020 flags, you know, based on some of those images, especially this volunteer vehicle that was trailing the bus.

We're not talking about aggressive maneuvers that were swapping pain. I mean, you see some actual real damage on that vehicle, it appears to be very dangerous moves there by some of these Trump supporters that were trailing that bus.

At one point, a source tells our campaign team that the bus had slowed down to 20 miles an hour on the interstate and these Trump vehicles, nearly 100 of them slowed down in the middle of the bus as well. They said the Biden staffers were rattled. There were no injuries.

Now as far as the F.B.I.'s part, it is also worth pointing out that they have wide jurisdiction when it comes to investigating election related matters, voter suppression. We also know from our CNN sources that there was one candidate on the bus for the U.S. House of Representatives, so another Federal nexus there.

And then finally, Ana, for his part, the President is on the campaign trail today. He has not addressed the F.B.I.'s role in investigating the circumstances surrounding this bus incident, but he did try to put his own spin on events. Of course, this is the President who has campaigned on a law and order message.

Remarkably, Trump is claiming that his supporters there in Texas were actually trying to protect that bus, which is obviously a claim that simply does not square with reality based on what we can see for ourselves on video -- Ana.

[15:40:12]

CABRERA: Okay. Josh Campbell, thank you for your reporting.

It is instances like that that have many cities and businesses across the nation preparing for potential unrest. I want to bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras in New York and Brynn, what are the concerns? What do you know about how businesses may be preparing?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, I mean, there are major stores here in New York City, and also flagship locations, the Empire State Building, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, the luxury shopping district of Soho, all boarding up nowadays before the election.

Now, of course, we saw this in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder earlier this year in the summer, but prior to that it had been decades when the city took precautions just like this.

In fact, I was talking to a law enforcement source who says they can't remember a time or if it even happened, that these type of precautions had to be taken when it comes to an election. So this is certainly unprecedented. We're also learning that security consulting firms, they have been

getting calls from private businesses for several weeks now asking about how they can protect their companies, but within the last couple of weeks, those calls have really spiked up and we are being told that they're being asked how to handle worst case scenarios.

Now, of course, law enforcement, we have been talking about has been preparing for this election and what could happen in the aftermath. There's a coordination between local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies to kind of handle all certain types of scenarios, whether it comes to voter intimidation, wide scale protest, domestic terrorism incidents, actions taken by extremist groups, and law enforcement has been practicing, really, for weeks on this.

And of course, as Josh was sort of noting, you know, the rhetoric has really bumped up. We've seen it well, really, for quite a while now. But certainly, as we head into this election, we've seen it online, we've seen it in political arenas, particularly heightened by the President, so that's not helping flare up tensions, as well.

And really, there's an anxiety. I can tell you that I have been talking to a lot of people who are just anxious for Tuesday in what is going to happen after that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I plan on definitely not leaving my apartment. I just don't know how people are going to react. I don't want there to be riots.

I don't want anyone to get hurt. I just want everyone to be safe and I don't know if that's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Tensions are really high on both sides. It's really -- I mean, it's kind of sad in general, like I said that we're so worried about this and people's reactions, whatever way it goes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRAS: Now, one law enforcement source told tells me that in New York, it's not a battleground state. Hopefully, it's just a protest that we're seeing and not serious unrest. Those said, the battleground states, those are going to be some major issues and where we could see a lot of activity, unfortunately, in the wake of this election we will have to see on Tuesday -- Ana.

CABRERA: I think everybody has to remember that we have control over how we react, how we respond to whatever the outcome is. So everybody just needs to cool it. Brynn Gingras, thanks.

Coming up: pandemic propaganda at a time when COVID cases are spiking. The President's go-to adviser is now saying he is sorry after he did a long interview with Russian state media. Your weekend presidential brief is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:48:09]

CABRERA: Welcome back. I want to take you now to Kinston, North Carolina where we just heard from Kamala Harris. Let's listen.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... there's a lot at stake for North Carolinians and we're here to make sure that we're listening to folks and being present, and I'm looking forward to being in the state, both in obviously some of the bigger cities, but also in the rural areas, because there are people there who are important and must be seen and must be heard. So, good to be back.

QUESTION: The President has reportedly told his advisers that he is prepared to prematurely call victory on election night if he is ahead in certain states. Are you concerned about that? And do you think the Biden-Harris campaign, how would you respond if the President does something like that on Election Night?

HARRIS: Well, first of all, we plan to decisively win this election. So I don't -- I don't think we're going to need to get to that point.

QUESTION: Do you think traveling to places like Georgia, and the Vice President going to Ohio is one of the reasons why so that those states are prepared to call the election more on Election Night compared to some of the others?

HARRIS: I mean, we've been traveling all over the country, and it is because we truly know that the people in these various states have so much at stake in the outcome of this election, and they deserve to literally be seen and heard. And so we've been all over the country.

And each state is important.

QUESTION: So you're not concerned about what the President's thoughts on, you know, prematurely declaring victory? You're not concerned about that.

HARRIS: Well, I've already spoken to that. Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Question right here.

QUESTION: Senator, do you have any thoughts about a march to the polls rally in Graham, North Carolina being pepper sprayed by a police yesterday?

HARRIS: I don't know a lot about it.

QUESTION: Yes, there is a rally in Graham, North Carolina where protesters were marching to the polls on the last day of early voting and it was -- they took a moment of silence in the street and Graham Police pepper sprayed them and it is unclear how many actually made it to the polls that day.

[15:50:02] HARRIS: Well, listen, I think it's very important that everyone be

able to vote and without any hindrance, without any intimidation, without any obstacles. Again, there's too much at stake and we want to preserve everyone's right to be able to be heard through their vote this election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Thank you, everyone. Sorry. We've got to go. See you there.

CABRERA: From North Carolina now to Pennsylvania, you're looking at Joe Biden about to take the stage in Philadelphia. We'll bring that to you live as soon as that happens.

Now, the U.S. is still setting staggering records for the pandemic. White House coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, is trying to downplay the worsening situation, but not here in the United States for an American audience. He is going on Kremlin controlled propaganda TV network, RT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SCOTT ATLAS, MEMBER OF WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASKFORCE: Lockdowns have been one of the -- one that will go down as an epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong -- were wrong or refuse to accept they were wrong, didn't know the data, didn't care and became a frenzy of stopping COVID-19 cases at all costs and those costs are massive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Dr. Atlas has since apologized for doing that interview tweeting in part that he was unaware they are a registered foreign agent. A source ads the White House did not clear Atlas's appearance.

That brings us to our presidential weekly briefing with CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, a former National Security adviser in the Obama administration. Sam, first off, what should we know about RT?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, talk about payday for Putin, Ana. I mean, seriously.

At this point, it looks like Vladimir Putin has a Russian asset broadcasting live from within the White House compound. Scott Atlas engaged with and contributed content to a Russian foreign agent without ostensibly disclosing those context or coordinating on his outreach.

At a minimum, he looks like an unwitting Russian asset, and he provided other ammunition to our adversary as well.

RT is a registered Russian foreign agent based on the Intelligence Community's assessment that RT serves as the principal international propaganda outlet for the Kremlin. The IC also assessed that RT works to undermine faith in the U.S. government. Scott Atlas certainly helped them accomplish those missions today. I

mean, his appearance itself was rife with misinformation that the Kremlin will likely weaponize against Americans. And his apology rested on the incompetence of himself and the White House that certainly undermines credibility in the U.S. government.

So overall, Scott Atlas checked a lot of boxes on Putin's to do list today.

CABRERA: We saw those images of businesses boarding up in anticipation of civil unrest. How real is the risk of physical violence?

VINOGRAD: This is a historically dangerous election cycle, Ana. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that violence related to government measures to respond to COVID-19, and protests this summer are exacerbating the typical election season threat environment. There are multiple physical flashpoints. Violent voter intimidation is a real risk not only because President Trump has cheered on his supporters who violently harassed a Biden bus in Texas, and the Trump team has deployed an army of poll watchers all around the country that could lead to more confrontation.

At the same time, voting sites, campaign gatherings and related areas represent high value and oftentimes, soft targets. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General assessed that there have not been adequate measures to respond to physical security risks, and the threats of terrorism.

Domestic violent extremists, in particular, anti-government protesters and lone wolves are a primary risk, and the longer that it takes to certify voting results and the results of the elections writ large, and Trump's potential refusal not to accept those results, ups the ante in terms of violence.

We know that anti-government extremists, for example, are already fueled up and foreign adversaries will undoubtedly try to exacerbate unrest to sow chaos. So overall, this is a perfect storm from multiple physical threats.

CABRERA: We appreciate your insights and expertise in all of this. Samantha Vinograd, good to have you here. Thank you.

Let's go back live now to the President speaking in Iowa.

TRUMP: ... our military, our beautiful military. We have made America wealthy again. We have made America strong again. We have made America proud again, we have made America safe again, and we will make America great again.

Thank you, Iowa. Thank you, Wisconsin. Thank you, Wisconsin. Thank you, everybody.

I hope it is cold enough for you.

Thank you, everybody. Have a good time. Get out and vote.

[15:55:06]

CABRERA: Iowa. And now, I want to take you to Joe Biden taking the stage in Philadelphia.

JOE BIDEN (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... reminded us, freedom is not a state, freedom is an act. We have to defend it. We have to vote. And this is the most important election of our lifetimes.

We're at an inflection point. So we have to vote like we never did before.

Every day, every day is a new reminder of how high the stakes are of how far the other side will go to try to suppress the turnout, especially here in Philadelphia.

President Trump is terrified of what will happen in Pennsylvania. He knows that the people of Pennsylvania get to have their say. If you have your say, he doesn't stand a chance.

But the American people -- the American people will not be silenced. Over 90 million people have already voted -- already voted. They've had enough. They've had enough.

There's too much on the line to sit it out. We only have two more days. Two more days, we can put an end to this presidency that has from the very beginning, sought to divide us, to tear us apart.

Folks, in two days, we could put an end to a President who has failed to protect this nation. In two days, we could put an end to a presidency that fanned the flames of hate, poured gasoline on every opportunity at all across this nation.

As I said many Americans have already voted. Millions more will vote in the two days ahead. But there's still a lot of Pennsylvanians who haven't voted yet and we need every single one of you to get out and vote on Tuesday.

My message is simple: Pennsylvania is critical in this election.

I live in Delaware, but I'm a Pennsylvania boy, born in Scranton. And I want to tell you, the last time Donald Trump ran, he won this state by 44,000 votes. So every single vote matters. The power -- the power to change this country is literally in your hands.

I don't care how hard Donald Trump tries, there is nothing, nothing he is going to do to stop this nation from voting, no matter what he tries.

And folks, when Americans vote, America will be heard. When America is heard, I believe the message is going to be loud and clear, it is time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home.

It's time to breathe some life back into this nation.

We're done. We're tired of the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility. We've got a lot of work to do.

If I'm elected your President, we're going to do it and we're going to act and we're going to start from the very first day.

We're going to act to get -- we're going to act to get COVID under control. It's almost criminal the way he has handled it. On day one of my presidency, I'm going to put an action, a plan I've been talking about for months, masking, social distancing, testing and tracing, a plan for a full and fair and free distribution of therapeutics, vaccines when we get one. A plan to address the disproportionate way this virus has been hitting and devastating the black community across America.

Folks, every single day, we are seeing race-based disparities in every aspect of this virus. Higher infection rates, lower access to testing, harder time, quarantining safely, lower access to quality treatment when you become infected, and tragically, higher mortality rates. Three times as many African-Americans are dying as white Americans.

When they get the virus, one in 100 black Americans, it's going to be one in 1,000 black Americans have died from COVID-19. And if we don't change between now and January, it is estimated in 500 by the end of this pandemic. That is a mass casualty event in the black community.

[16:00:10]