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Biden On Cusp Of 270, With Only AK, AZ, GA, NC, NV And PA To Be Called; Presidential Race Tightens In Georgia. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 4, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: But given the fact that two thirds of them we know are here, it tells you if you're in the Biden campaign, you're confident and you're anxiously awaiting these results.

And you come down here to Pima County, just south, this is Tucson. This is your second largest county in Arizona. And again, Joe Biden running even stronger here. So you have some balance down here as well.

If you're in the Biden campaign, what are you looking at, you're looking at the metrics so far, your current trajectory. And then you're looking at a deeper in the places where you know more votes are, so you're getting 52 plus here, you're getting 60 plus here.

All you need, all he need -- Joe Biden doesn't need to win the majority. He just needs to wait about 44 percent, 45 percent of the remaining vote.

So if you're in the Biden campaign, you're incredibly confident now, Wolf, but you want to wait and see, you want to get more of those votes. And again, the Trump campaign has said hey, we want them all counted. And that is absolutely the right position to be in. We want them all counted too.

The significance is when you come over here. And just look, now that we have projected Michigan and projected Wisconsin, two big pickups, remember, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin is why Donald Trump is in the White House. He cracked the blue wall that the Democrats had in the industrial Midwest.

Joe Biden has those two back if he holds Nevada, and he gets Arizona, he's the next president United States.

So what we learn from the next batch of votes we get out of Arizona is going to tell us a lot about the trajectory of this race right now is in Biden's direction. Will it continue? Arizona and Nevada will decide that.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Give us a closer look at Arizona right now, John. You and I are going to talk to the Secretary of State of Arizona, Katie Hobbs. She's joining us right now.

Secretary Hobbs, thank you so much for joining us. Can you first give us a little bit of a concrete idea where Arizona stands right now? How many outstanding ballots are left to be counted? Where those outstanding ballots are from?

KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. And, well, I'm glad to hear that your math matches my math. There's about 600,000 outstanding ballots. The bulk of those are in Maricopa County around 400,000. So we will know -- we will have a better sense tonight after they release more ballot totals and kind of where those votes are headed.

The bulk of those votes are early ballots that were dropped off or received Monday or Tuesday. So, that's what we're looking at right now. I think we don't know how many vote totals are going to be in those ballots that are released tonight by Maricopa County. But once we know that, we'll have a better picture of how long it's going to take for them to complete their tabulation.

KING: Madam Secretary, it's John King. I just want to go through the map as we look, as you know better than we do, Maricopa County will be 60 percent or more of your vote. Our Kyung Lah on the scene there just said she believes about 400,000 of these outstanding balance from Maricopa County, is that correct?

HOBBS: Yes, yes. That's what we're hearing too.

KING: OK. So you're looking at that. So, that will tell us essentially, those ballots will tell us whether Joe Biden protects this lead.

I'm wondering just if you feel any additional political pressure now that Wisconsin has been projected and Michigan has been projected, this could very well come down to your 11 electoral votes in the state of Arizona. Kyung Lah says we will get votes later tonight. Is -- do you feel any pressure on your office to try to speed some of that up? Or do it in spurts and give us more votes earlier?

HOBBS: Well, look, we've said from day one, that this is going to take time. And so no, I don't feel pressure to do it faster. We want to do it right. We want to make sure that every vote is counted. And that's what we're focused on right now.

KING: And if I could jump in one more time, because the President of United States came out last night. He's talking about other states in the east, but he was trying to get them to stop the count, saying counting after, you know, the polls close. You should get this over with on Election Day.

I'm just wondering, in terms of your interaction. Have you heard from either of the campaigns about this? And could you explain to people because especially on social media, and in the words of the President, there's all this talk about, you know, nefarious things are happening. Just explain in the room to us.

I believe your state is like other states, and we've seen this on camera in Philadelphia, on camera in Detroit. They both campaigns, both political parties have people in the room to keep eyes on everything. It's perfectly normal. And that's how it works out. HOBBS: Yes, and not only are there observers in the room watching the process, but there's cameras and anyone can go to the Maricopa County elections website or any other website for the county elections departments in the state and watch the tabulation as it happens.

And so there -- we never have all the ballots counted on election night. That's just never going to happen. And it is normal that we are still counting ballots right now.

KING: Are you say normal and it is normal. And again, the American people just need to have patience with the process as you go through it.

All right. We see right now and, again, we've got 600,000 ballots to cast with Joe Biden right now in 93,000 vote lead.

In the history of Arizona has there ever been a recount? Obviously, we're outside where anybody could ask. Could, let me just ask it that way. If it stays 51-48 outside of your recount provisions, correct?

HOBBS: That is outside of our recount provisions, yes.

BLITZER: You're pretty upbeat, that there's not going to be any major legal challenges from the Trump campaign or from Republicans, conservatives in Arizona?

[17:05:07]

HOBBS: Yes. There really is -- they don't have a legal pathway to challenge. We are legally counting valid ballots. And there's not a way to stop that.

BLITZER: For some conservative leaders, Secretary, they've been using social media to push this claim that voters in some of the Republican leading precincts in Arizona were given Sharpies to fill out their ballots so that their votes would not necessarily count. Have you heard about that? Is there any truth to that claim?

HOBBS: Yes, I've been talking about markers all day today. Certainly, I want to validate voters who have concerns about their ballots being counted. There is no concern about ballots being counted because of the pen that was used to mark the ballots. All of those ballots are being counted.

And even if the machines can't read them, for some reason, a marker led through to the other side. We have ways to count them. They're going to be counted.

There is absolutely no merit to saying that this was some conspiracy to invalidate Republican ballots. It just there is no there, there at all.

BLITZER: Well, that's good to hear that. And thank you so much Secretary Katie Hobbs of Arizona.

I know you got a lot going on. We're grateful for your time. Good luck tonight. We'll be watching the count as it comes forward.

HOBBS: Thank you.

BLITZER: You know, John, let's talk a little bit about Georgia right now. We're going to go from Arizona to Georgia right now. Because take a look at the count there now, 68,000 votes Trump is ahead of Biden.

Ninety-four percent of the estimated reporting is now in, but it's gone down. It was a few hundred thousand. Now it's only 68,000. Trump is ahead of Biden.

KING: It is going down as they count the votes. I just want to do a quick aside.

BLITZER: The question is could bias catch up?

KING: Yes. And we'll look at, just a quick aside to Secretary Hobbs and all these other secretaries of states, they're the stars, they're counting the votes in their states, Democrats and Republicans, they do a great job. And America is getting to see them. And I hope that's a good thing.

So, can we narrow this down? You're 50.1 to 48.7. So again, if you're in the Biden campaign, you're thinking, can we do this and your Trump campaign you're thinking, what happened, right? This lead is shrinking.

Why is it shrinking? Is because the votes they're still counting are largely in Democratic areas. I'm going to walk through some of them right now.

Fulton County, we believe in some of these could have been counted in the last several minutes. But as of a short time ago, 30 minutes or so ago, you still had 64,000 votes to be counted in Fulton County. So can Joe Biden come back? Well, you've got that deficit you just mentioned. But look, he's getting 72 percent of the vote here.

So if he continues to get seven and 10 votes as they count, you know, 40 -- 64,000, excuse me, 64,000 more votes, there's a possibility to make up some math. You come over here to the east to Cab County, look at this, Joe Biden is getting 83 percent into Cab County. As a short time ago, they started 18,000 ballots to cast. So there's a possibility. You make up some math there.

Let's pull this out just a little bit. And you come up to the north here. And you have Forsyth County, you see the President is carrying this county, 67 percent. And in Forsyth County, we have about 7,000 ballots still to be counted as of a short time ago.

Some of them may have been counted. But you see you're up to 95 percent here.

Now, there's two ways to look at this. This is a way for the President to add votes if he keeps getting 67 percent. Maybe they're mail-in ballots and Democrats voted by mail. That's why we count them because we're not sure. Your eyes tell you, this is a place where they count ballots, the presence likely to pick up a little bit math. But sometimes what you see in the trend lines can be deceiving when you count vote.

So we just pull out and come back out and come back and look at it. You'd come down here, I believe it's down in here. No, it's up here, I'm sorry. Euston County is over here. I'll get to it. They're still counting some votes there.

In Henry County, I think they're about done. But here, around 95 percent here in Gwinnett County, again, Joe Biden's looking at the math.

So, you pull back out and you look at -- you're looking at 68,000 votes. Now it's down too.

So it has been shrinking and shrinking consistently as they count the votes. And so what does that tell you? It tells you if you look at the state of Georgia right now, Joe Biden needs to win about 60 percent of the remaining votes.

So, that's a steep hill, right? You're getting -- you've been getting 49 percent. Now you need to get 60. So on the one hand you would say, oh, that won't happen. And that would be the logical bet. But again, remember that where the bulk of the votes are in Democratic areas where he in fact, is getting around those metrics. So that's why you have to count.

And you can look at the statewide numbers and you say it's incredibly steep hill, you're going to the counties where they're still counting votes, and you see those are strong Democratic areas. We know people who voted by mail, and absentee in at least in most states are disproportionately Democrats. So you count.

And again, you know, right now, we have Joe Biden, if he holds the lead in Arizona and Nevada, he's an expert in the United States. But if any of those votes change, then you go back into the chess of the Electoral College. And so you look at every state, Wolf, until we get to the finish line. It's shrinking. We'll keep counting.

BLITZER: Yes. It's been shrinking dramatically over these past several hours. And I'm sure the Biden people are encouraged the 94 percent of the vote is in. So six percent still remains outstanding.

[17:10:04]

KING: Six percent still outstanding. Again, we think it's somewhere in the ballpark of 400,000 votes, or at least it was a short time ago. And you just come around and you walk through them all and you go through the 99 percent. So you're counted there, you move down 95 percent.

You're looking for places, I just showed you Democratic areas and we want to be fair to the president. Are their votes in Republican counties where you can find them? So you keep looking around, Upson County, you got 95, you come down here 95. So it's possible. These are much smaller counties, but the bulk of the votes here are going to be in the Atlanta metro area. If Joe Biden's amount of come back, it will be because as they get to the finish line 95 percent now in Fulton County.

And again, 72 percent, yes, he needs metrics like that, as you keep counting over into cab, we'll see. We'll see.

Again, when you're behind like that you think the hill is steep. But if the votes are in predominantly Democratic places, you can change the math pretty quickly.

BLITZER: Yes. Here, we take a look at where Trump is underperforming in the state of Georgia compared to what he did four years ago.

KING: Let's take a look at it. This is underperforming. And these are the counties.

And again you see it right here. But it's not a lot. If you look at all these counties, it's not a lot. But where is he performing -- underperforming, I mean?

You see underperforming his own performance in 2016 by five percentage points or more in the suburbs outside Augusta, in the suburbs surrounding Atlanta. By -- And these as you move farther out, we just pop this one up. This is Henry County out here. They're at 95 percent.

You've got Rockdale County here. But this is where, you know, again, one of the stories of the Trump presidency and everyone give him credit. He's more competitive in some of these states because of his like campaign travel. He ginned up a very good Election Day turnout.

But one of the stories we see consistently, again, Atlanta, you're pretty far out here. As you come down from Atlanta, you have the suburbs and then the excerpts. Think about any community in America. Atlanta is like it, he's underperforming there.

And you come over here, just look at this Douglas County. Look at Joe Biden's getting 62 percent. If you go back in time, the President was more -- much more competitive, 43 percent, four years ago you come up here.

And as it gets closer, this is what matters. You look at the metrics of underperforming, you pull back out here. I just want to see if we can do the flip side of this, Wolf. So that's where Trump is underperforming.

Let's see if, you know, if you look the same area, right? So what's going to decide this?

We're not sure if Joe Biden came out to come back, but look at where he is over performing Secretary Clinton from four years ago, Joe Biden is doing better in the area I'm talking to you about right here in the suburbs, Gwinnett County. This is further out Forsyth County, where they're still counting some votes as well. And you come around Cherokee County, and then you come down here to Cobb County. In the metropolitan Atlanta area, this is one of, again, one of the growing areas in America, demographically diverse in the suburban revolt against President Trump. If Joe Biden can come back in Georgia, it'll be because of just that right there.

BLITZER: Yes. And it's getting closer once again, 68,000 vote lead for Trump over Biden with 94 percent of the vote in in Georgia. So we'll watch Georgia very, very closely. We'll of course watch Arizona and Nevada very closely as well.

KING: We will.

BLITZER: Anderson, over to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks so much.

Gloria, so much now focus on Arizona, both from the Trump campaign and certainly for people who want to see Joe Biden elected. There's now concerned about Arizona, how do you see --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well and concerned about Maricopa County. The Biden people will say to you, you know, these are our people, these ballots are coming in, they're going to be counted. There are a large number still to be counted. And the Trump people are saying just the opposite.

So, what we have here, and we haven't talked about what we saw with Joe Biden yet either as we have a president United States, who keeps tweeting that he's winning. You know, last night, he said or early this morning, he said he was winning in Michigan. And of course now we know that he didn't win in Michigan.

And you know, keeps pushing these theories about how the election is fraudulent. And he's winning in states, that currently we don't know the answer to where he's winning.

And yet you have Joe Biden coming out there saying every vote must be counted. No one's going to take our democracy away from us. He said, not now, not ever. It's coming down to the wire.

The Biden -- I just spoke with a Biden person while we were off the air, they seem very confident about where they are headed right now. And the Trump people are just kind of throwing everything up against the wall.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: One thing about the Biden, I thought Biden made an excellent --

BORGER: Yes.

AXELROD: -- statement today. It was a great counterpoint to Trump, it was smart, strategically, he sees the real estate without going overboard and what he --

COOPER: I thought the President would come out very quickly with some sort of statement, but perhaps he wants some distance between sort of stateliness of Vice President Biden and whatever he's going to say.

AXELROD: But I will say this, at the end of it, he said, you know, when I think we'd all like to believe that there are no blue states, there are no red states, there's just the United States, echoing President Obama, but this is the exit poll. And this tells a different story. We are a deeply divided country. And that's why it is really important, what the President does and what Republicans do in the next 48 to 72 hours.

The President seems to be into incitement. And at some point, these states are going to be declared and it's going to be incumbent on other Republicans to say it is over, let's move on. Because I worry about the tenor of the country and the atmosphere in which the President is playing into.

[17:15:19]

RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to be pretty transparent to everybody, whether there is our grounds for fighting this.

And there may be legitimate grounds. I mean, the idea that Donald Trump isn't going to fight, if there's ground to fight on or Republicans aren't going to fight if there's grounds to fight on, we should. I mean, if there's legitimate reasons to go, if there are problems somewhere, then we should -- we have every right to do so.

But if there is --

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If you got 100,000.

BORGER: Yes.

SANTORUM: No, no, I understand that. I get that. But I'm just saying, I think --

JONES: Fair enough.

SANTORUM: -- what I'm talking about Republicans, we're going to assess the landscape. And we're going to do what's in the best interest of the country, period. But this race isn't over yet.

You know, I -- we look at Arizona, you look at Nevada --

(Crosstalk)

BORGER: Right. It's not over.

SANTORUM: It's not as much as to where those votes are coming from, as to when the votes are coming from. In other words, when were they cast? Because as we know, the votes that were cast at or, you know, at the election, were heavily Republicans. The one were cast early were heavily Democratic.

And what we're hearing is in Nevada, and you've reported actually here on CNN, that most of these votes or at least a big chunk of them were voted late, which is good for Republicans.

JONES: That's why there is a mystery. That's what the people who are concerned, probably why hasn't been called yet. But I just want to say, why are we talking about Arizona at all? We're talking about Arizona, because the Latino and Latino community stood up and did something extraordinary.

And you know, we spent a lot of time this year, thankfully talking about African Americans, African American issues, et cetera. We got a new force on the field now, the Latino community, Latino community.

And you got to look at the relationship between the Democratic Party and this community now. I think what I'm hearing from a lot of people on the ground in Arizona they feel overgeneralization, underrepresentation underinvestment across the board for Latinos, overgeneralization.

We got to stop acting like all Latinos, and Latinas are the same people. A Cuban is not the same as the Puerto Rican, not the same as the Guatemalan and that is demonstrated now. We got to be much more sophisticated about this community, under representation.

Name a single prominent Latino or Latina throughout the Democratic Party in this past race is very hard to do. And lastly, under investment, you got groups, Lucia (ph), Mi Familia Vota in Arizona, Podere (ph), Latinx in Florida, they didn't get the support they deserved until very late and some not at all.

So, I want to say is the reason we're talking about Arizona, is because there's a community of people that's being picked on and mistreated, anti-immigrant attacks against them that forced them to organize themselves.

AXELROD: Yes.

JONES: It is their strength that's actually brought this state across into the blue column. And we have to reevaluate our relationship to that community.

AXELROD: Yes. But the other reason we're going to -- the other reason we're talking about Arizona is because Maricopa County is 60 percent of that vote, and it is one big suburb, essentially, Phoenix is a piece of it.

And one of the things that happened in this election is that the suburbs shifted. Donald Trump carried them last time, there was a seven point shift against him in this election, Biden carried the suburbs. And so a place like Arizona, where the suburbs are so dominant --

COOPER: Yes.

AXELROD: -- becomes a much more --

COOPER: You put those two forces together, you got something there. Those two forces. BORGER: Can I get back to what you were saying where -- which is we have to decide what we do, what we challenge is. Seems to me that --

SANTORUM: Like the speech last night. We challenged the President's speakers. I think every Republican --

BORGER: That's right.

SANTORUM: -- stood up and said, no, we're not doing this,

BORGER: But the President has already made declarations and continues to make declarations that the results that have, for example, that have been counted and ratified by the states, et cetera, about who's the winner and who's the loser, that he's not accepting.

You know, he said it last night, we won Michigan. That didn't happen. So the question that I have is, the President will say what he wants to say, what exactly will the legal challenges be.

For example, in your state of Pennsylvania, if the margin, let's just say, this is a hypothetical, if the margin is large, in Biden's favor, 50,000 100,000, you know, pick your number. The challenges that I see that the Republicans are making here are not about large numbers, they're about one of -- it's, you know, in one case, I think it could affect 97 votes.

So the question is it just going to keep happening our -- how do you look at it?

SANTORUM: To the point that everyone will validate here, if there is no theory behind why that vote isn't what it should be just saying we, you know, we're going to fight this thing, but there's no theory behind why you're fighting it. I mean --

[17:20:15]

(Crosstalk)

BORGER: But there is a --

SANTORUM: I don't -- for example, what I'm hearing is they're not -- they're probably not going to fight this concept because they don't really have a theory of why they lost, you know, what happened in Wisconsin.

BORGER: But they just announced today they would.

SANTORUM: Well --

AXELROD: Here's my concern, Rick --

SANTORUM: They're going to go everywhere. Everybody's going to go everywhere. But the question is, where are you going to put your --

AXELROD: This comes in the context of a five year project of suggesting that the process is rigged, that, you know, these conspiracy theories just pervade everything that the President does and he is sending signals that somehow if he loses that he will only have lost because --

JONES: I want to add to that. Because I think when you look at all the exit polling, that kind of stuff, there's stuff we didn't ask questions about, like queueing on and all this other stuff. There's stuff in the water in this country right now that's being pushed on us, it's being pushed by bots (ph) or a pool (ph) or whatever it is, but there's an irrational conspiracy fear on the right.

SANTORUM: That's --

JONES: Let me just finish. Let me finish. I don't --

COOPER: You can ask a new member of Congress all about it.

JONES: Yes, we have two, we have two queuing on members.

Listen, you say that it's a fringe and maybe it is, but doesn't seem to be a fringe to me. And that if you look at -- if you listen to what's getting out there now is this conspiratorial --

SANTORUM: On the unreal social media, which is unreal.

(Crosstalk)

COOPER: That's what been amplified by the President.

JONES: Yes.

BORGER: Yes.

COPPER: And it's sort of praise them as being, you know, pedophile --

SANTORUM: You asked me what I think Republicans were doing, I will tell you what they're going to do. If there's a legitimate reason to go out and contest the state, Republicans will stand with the President --

JONES: But there are test in the states.

SANTORUM: If there's no legitimate reason --

JONES: -- party, there are two different -- there are people like yourself who have proven to be incredibly responsible. And I'll put a Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, there's a bunch of people that are holding the line. And there's something else happening in our country. And that's what we're afraid of.

The President speaking to this other force that seems to be completely off the rails, and they've got lots of people in right now showing up a challenging and intimidating people are counting votes and everything else. And it is very dangerous for the President be throwing matches on that pot.

SANTORUM: With all due respect, if Donald Trump would be ahead right now, they boarded up places in New York City not to keep Donald Trump supporters from looting. OK? Let's just let's just be real, Van, where the --

JONES: Biden is not --

SANTORUM: Hold on.

JONES: Biden is not stalking and Trump stalking his.

SANTORUM: Where is the real threat here? I don't see Republicans. I don't see any people storming around burning buildings and crashing through --

COOPER: Actually I wouldn't say, first of all, how do you know that -- why they're putting up buildings is because of, I assume --

SANTORUM: I don't know -- well, I mean --

COOPER: -- really, those caravans of armed Trump folks driving around and big trucks blocking traffic, that's not a concern?

SANTORUM: I mean, I don't think you'd find too many in Manhattan. But I could be wrong.

COOPER: Well, actually he did. They shut off the bridges to Manhattan. In fact, four of them.

SANTORUM: I guess that's not --

COOPER: With the police escort.

SANTORUM: -- that's not what we, at least from our perspective.

COOPER: Right. Yes, white people don't -- yes, as a white Republican, you're not scared about, like, white armed Trump supporters hanging around cities that they don't live with.

SANTORUM: I'm scared of any armed people who are doing --

COOPER: OK. Well, the President doesn't seem to because he likes it when they show up --

BORGER: But he's stoking it. That's what, you know, Van is saying.

There is no doubt, is there, that the President is playing to this, that he's lighting of the house on fire and walking out the back door, right, that he is saying they're stealing the election? The election is rigged. If I don't win, the reason will because it's a corrupt election.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BORGER: So your throw out these law suits --

SANTORUM: And you've -- Republicans -- just to be cleared, Republicans have uniformly condemned the President for speech last night. BORGER: Right. And you did too.

SANTORUM: Yes.

BORGER: And you did too.

SANTORUM: And I think I was the first because I did it right after the speech.

BORGER: Right.

SANTORUM: At 3:00 in the morning.

BORGER: Right.

SANTORUM: But the bottom line is, your -- don't say, well, you know, we're not doing anything. The Republican Party is not going to stand by and let the President, you know, go on a quixotic adventure and support him in doing things that --

BORGER: So that's my question.

SANTORUM: -- are going to delegitimize the election.

BORGER: So we said about the margin, is it about -- in other words, you say Republicans won't standby, will you be looking at the margins in a state, like, say Pennsylvania and say, well, the margins large, Mr. President, don't do this, you -- we have a point to make about the way this election was, you know, done. And that next time we have to fix this.

But would you say to him, continue this right now, if a margin is large. That's the question.

SANTORUM: I think I said that at the beginning of this conversation, we will look at the situation, what's been claimed and whether it-- whether that defect is sufficient to make up for the difference in the vote. And if it isn't, if it's, you know, late votes that came in and there are 2,000 of them that came into the Pennsylvania, then we're not going to, obviously, contest the election on 2,000 votes that came in between today and Friday.

[17:25:17]

COOPER: But how does it work? I mean who -- if the President wants to continue to test the election, even if responsible leaders in the Republican Party think, OK, this is a wonderful idea.

SANTORUM: He has the right to do that.

COOPER: He has the right to do.

SANTORUM: Yes, sure. I mean, not --

COOPER: Is there anyone in the Republican Party who would go to the President and say, you know, Mr. President -- SANTORUM: I think there'd be a lot of Republicans who would be

concerned about how it affects them. And the perception of the public of the Republican Party leadership in Washington, as well as the leadership of governors and others around the country. We're not going to want a president going off on something that seems to be in Iran.

AXELROD: You understand why this would be a question because we've had four years of situations where you would think that Republicans would stand up --

SANTORUM: I think --

AXELROD: -- and comment and many of them were afraid to do that.

SANTORUM: Well, I think it's a completely different issue.

COOPER: All eyes are on Arizona and Nevada, is Joe Biden holds on to his lead in those states and looks to add to his electoral count. Will more undecided battlegrounds be decided tonight? Votes supposedly going to be coming in from Nevada, from Arizona. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:14]

TAPPER: Joe Biden is widening his advantage in the hunt for electoral votes after adding Michigan to his win column. He now has 253 electoral votes, nearing the 270 needed to win. President Trump is trailing right now with 213. Of course, several states remain on call.

Let's go to Jim Acosta at the White House. Jim, with the state of the race right now, what are you hearing from Republicans?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hourly, Jake, the Trump campaign is saying they're still confident that there's a path, that there's a path that remains. But when you talk to some of these sources, privately, you hear a different story. You know, based on what I'm hearing from my sources, the mood is darkening inside the Trump campaign. I just talk to a source close to the White House a little while ago who said, you know, listen, the President is bleeding, GOP support. That's the way this person described, a bleeding, GOP support over his behavior.

What are we talking about in terms of his behavior? Leveling these baseless charges that there's voter fraud, that ballots are being taken from him, that states are being taken from him, that he's being robbed. You know, just a short while ago, the President tweeted that he hereby claims the state of Michigan. He can't hereby claim anything, I can't hereby claim a ham sandwich, you know, if I want to. But the President is engaging in that kind of reality, challenged behavior at this point.

And according to this source close to the White House I spoke with just a little while ago, you know, these tactics where they're going into these individual states and mounting these legal challenges that are, you know, really been called into question by some fellow Republicans, this source close to the White House, describe that as a, quote, ambulance chasing routine. And to continue with the words of this source close to the White House, to make matters worse, Rudy is on the case meeting. Meaning, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose credibility really throughout all of this has just been shattered as he has made just one reckless and baseless accusation after another.

So, Jake, you know, they're still looking at this map. They still feel like there's a path. I talked to an advisor just short time ago who said if the President can't win Arizona, it's over. But they still feel like there are some reason -- some reasons there just to feel optimistic that perhaps Arizona could be pulled into the President's calm, despite the fact that other news outlets have already called that state for Joe Biden. Jake?

TAPPER: Yes. Rudy Giuliani had a press conference in Philadelphia, was like something out of a Coen Brothers film. So, thanks, Jim Acosta.

Let's go to Jeff Zeleny now who was in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeff, obviously, we still need to hear from Arizona and Nevada, Pennsylvania. What are you hearing from the Biden camp?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I'm told that Joe Biden is going to begin holding a phone conference call with members of his national finance committee very shortly going to thank them for their hard work. And that really underscored what was the dramatic advantage the Biden campaign had over the Trump campaign that no one expected a year ago, that was a financial advantage.

So, I'm told the former Vice President is going to be speaking with his national finance committee thanking them but also urging them to play this out, as he's been doing all day, as he's been talking to supporters and taking phone calls from senators and governors and others, urging them to, you know, keep an eye on Pennsylvania, keep an eye on Arizona and Nevada and do everything they can to monitor what is going on.

Now, Democrats have an advantage in several of these states. They have Democratic governors, certainly in Pennsylvania, in Michigan and Wisconsin, that can matter. They don't in Arizona, but that is something that he's talking about. But, Jake, one thing that will not happen here, you can see behind me the lights are still on at this rally. He was hoping to have a victory rally here tonight ending in fireworks, that will not happen this evening because the former Vice President is not declaring victory. They have to see this through.

Jake, one other thing that is not happening, I'm told, is any talk of what's next for a transition. Yes, the Biden campaign has been working on a transition as all presidential campaigns are required by law to do. Many things are in place for possible a cabinet positions, possible other things, but I am told the word has gone out here in Wilmington to not talk about the transition, to play this campaign through until he is declared a winner.

So that's the mood here right now. But, certainly, a better mood is the sunsets here for the Biden campaign. And it started earlier today, Jake.

TAPPER: certainly true, although, of course, he has not won, so no need to declare victory yet.

ZELENY: He is not.

TAPPER: We're still waiting to count all the votes.

ZELENY: Right.

TAPPER: And --

ZELENY: There's no victory to declare as he knows right.

TAPPER: Yes, exactly. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Obviously, several other races were going on at the same time as the presidential race. There were a number of Senate seats up. Democrats were hoping to win the Senate back from Republicans. How did that work out for them? Let's go to Dana Bash now who can tell us more.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, let's look at the balance of power right now in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have 46 seats, Republicans have 47. There are seven seats that remain to be called.

[17:35:01]

Let's look first in Arizona. The Democratic challenger Mark Kelly has been ahead there really since the beginning ahead of the incumbent Republican Martha McSally. He's ahead right now by over 144,000 votes. And Martha McSally is trailing there.

Now, let's look at Michigan. This has been changing back and forth. Right now, the incumbent Democrat Gary Peters is ahead by a little more than 14,000 votes at 49.2 percent. The Republican challenger John James is trailing there. North Carolina, let's look at that. Also very, very tight, but the incumbent Republican Thom Tillis is ahead by 96,000 votes or 48.7 percent. The Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham 46.9 percent. 94 percent of the estimated vote in there.

And in Georgia, David Perdue, the incumbent Republican is ahead by 157,000 votes, 50.5 percent. Jon Ossoff, 47.2 percent. That 50 percent is really key because, remember, Georgia, they have to get that in order to avoid a runoff.

Let's look at Maine. Right now, CNN has Susan Collins at 50.3 percent for Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon at 43 percent. We can say that Sara Gideon has conceded the race. CNN is not yet ready to call it. Alaska, the incumbent Republican is ahead there as well. Dan Sullivan, by 53,000 votes at 62.9 percent. The Democratic challenger is trailing in a big way, 31.8 percent.

So, what does that mean right now? Right now there is one Democrat leading in a Republican Senate seat, Democrats must pick up four Republican seats in order to flip the balance of power to the Democrats. And, Jake, that four, that's exactly where Democrats started before Election Day. So, they certainly, as you mentioned, have not gotten the kinds of gains that they were hoping to get, particularly since so many Republicans were on the ballot. So many were considered vulnerable, but many of them have won or are still very much in the hunt.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much.

And, you know, you have to -- I mean, that's -- the Democrats had a bad election day when it comes to the Senate.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

TAPPER: We're still waiting to hear about a number of House races as well. And as we've learned from the past, we need to let those races play out. Although it looks as though Republicans have knocked off a bunch of House Democrats. But they had hopes to take the Senate, Democrats, those hopes are dashed.

PHILLIP: Yes, it's really hard to see it right now. It's -- there were so many Republican senators who were incumbents, who were in really tough races, and they're either hanging on right now, or they're likely to win their seats. And in a year, again, I keep saying this, this was a bad year for Republicans to run. We're in the middle of an economic recession with an unpopular President and yet, Democrats were not really able to advance the ball match in terms of the Senate majority.

And the House picture will get a little bit later. But there were some pretty significant, tight races that Democrats are really worried about in places like Miami, of all places that they really never expected to be potentially losing seats. This is the kind of thing that tells you this is a really polarized country. These Republican states, Trump has such a strong hold on them. And when he's able to turn out his supporters, it's easier for Republicans to hang on. It's tougher for Democrats to pick off the vulnerable members,

TAPPER: The Republicans who worked on the Senate campaigns thought that Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Republican, was going to lose.

PHILLIP: Yes.

TAPPER: They were -- she did not -- there was not one poll --

PHILLIP: Yes.

TAPPER: -- that showed Susan Collins in the league and she --

PHILLIP: And she over performed Trump.

TAPPER: Yes.

PHILLIP: And it might be a little bit of a different story because she is someone who is as people -- some people say, very well suited to her state, understands her state very well and really tried to navigate that race in a unique way, but may end up significantly outperforming President Trump who we've called the state of Maine for Joe Biden is going to lose that state. So, Susan Collins is one thing, but that was such a race Democrat, spent so much money on that race and in South Carolina, and in Kentucky and in Texas.

TAPPER: Either speaking of money, I think a lot of liberal Democrats who sent money to Jamie Harrison in South Carolina, and Amy McGrath in Kentucky are wishing they had not sent that $200 million.

Joe Biden is on the cusp of 270 electoral votes tonight, but with key states undecided, the contest is not yet over. A presidential historian says we're at the tipping point of our democracy. We'll talk with Doris Kearns Goodwin next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:43:47]

COOPER: Election Night in America continued, 253 to 213. Joe Biden in the lead now, all eyes on Arizona and Nevada as we await for votes to be counted.

Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize Winning Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She's also the author of, "Leadership: In Turbulent Times". Doris, thanks for being with us. It's an incredibly exciting day, no matter what side of the political aisle you are on, anxiety provoking for both sides of the political aisle. You said that this is a tipping point of our democracy, this election. For you, what are the -- why are the stakes so high?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, because whatever the outcome is going to be, we remain a deeply divided polarized nation more than at any time in our recent history. You know, Teddy Roosevelt once warned that the gravest threat for democracy would come when people in different sections, religions or classes are so cut off from one another, that they no longer regard each other as common American citizens. They see each other as the other.

Old George Washington warned about the spirit of party and the spirit of sectionalism. That was in his farewell address. We're seeing that right now. And I think to paraphrase Abraham (ph) Lincoln, history will look with honor or dishonor on how the parties and how these two candidates handle this divided moment.

[17:45:06]

There's been questions about it. On the one hand, you have President Trump saying that he's already won the election, that he's going to be fraud. He's already stoking divisions. On the other hand, you heard Joe Biden talk about the importance of being president of the party, not stoking the divisions, listening to the other sides. We need that so badly, not just from the candidates, this will be a real test of the Republican Party and their leaders right now.

COOPER: During the war in Vietnam, and there was incredible division intention in this country, there were bombings by radical groups, a surprising number of them throughout the early '70s. Do you think things are worse now in terms of polarization?

GOODWIN: I do think so. I think the big difference now is that you've got a divide in the media that is much greater than it was really since the 1850s. So you almost have alternative universes with people not even agreeing on the facts, much less the opinions, you can agree on one hand, you think that COVID is a serious disease. On the other hand, you might be listening to your network and feeling that it's not a serious disease.

And it reminds me sadly, sometimes of the 1850s, when all you would do is read your party newspaper. So if you were reading about Lincoln- Douglas debate, you might think that if Lincoln was -- you'd hear in the Republican paper, he was carried out on the arms of his supporters, he was so triumphant. You read the Democratic newspaper, the same debate, they'll say he was so terrible, he fell on the floor, and he had to be dragged out. That's the added dimension.

I think today, we had three television networks at a time, so that when the war in Vietnam was going badly, the credibility of Lyndon Johnson was undermined by saying that the war was in progress. You had some sort of a bully pulpit that you could depend upon. Now it's split, and then it only exacerbates the divisions, and then you've got a leader who's exacerbating them further. So I'm usually a big optimist. But I think this moment is really, really important how we handle this election,

COOPER: We've certainly seen two different leadership styles or approaches. We heard from former Vice President Biden today, with Kamala Harris standing by his side. We've also heard late last night from the -- or early this morning for the President and also from the President on Twitter. I'm wondering what you make of how the President has been handling this and communicating with the country today and last night?

GOODWIN: Well, I think the big question, is he really communicating with the country, or is he communicating with his supporters? Right now, this great passions on both sides. And he would hope that a president of all the people would be willing to take a leading role. In fact, when you look at history, if it were to happen, that he worked to lose, than the concession that's given by that person becomes absolutely critical to the well-being of the country.

In fact, what you've seen, in most cases, when there is somebody who loses, if indeed he does lose, is that willingness to say, we had a spirit beforehand, we fought hard but now we've come together, and I speak for the country. His supporters will need him to do that if he loses, because there has to be an acceptance of the result if it happens that way.

But, so far, by declaring that he's already won, by saying that there may be fraud, and already imagining irregularities in the system, it makes it harder for that acceptance to finally come. So, he will be judged very much. And he can play a leading role in a very positive way, if he does this in the way that others before him have done.

COOPER: What I love so much about history and reading about history is just putting things in context that we are going through in current times, see what's happened before. How would you put today, this election in context, in terms of what we have seen as citizens in this country in our history?

GOODWIN: You know, the interesting thing is that I would have thought, given history, most of the time when there's a crisis that's occurring, the leaders handling of that crisis is the major issue in the election campaign. And that's what you would have said, when you looked at Hoover's inability to have national leadership on the depression, his credibility was undermined by saying we're turning the corner. I thought that would have been a major consideration in this election. And it proved to be part of it.

But yet there was something else at issue that collided with that, and that was the party spirit. That was the feelings toward Trump, that was perhaps the belief in alternative universe, that when you see those rallies, and people are side by side, it's not simply violating science, but maybe it's a hope for the future, that somehow people were able to believe that you could open the economy and you didn't have to worry about science and you could fire Fauci.

So we saw alternative universes out there, which I think collided with the fact that I would have thought history would have judged the credibility of the leadership and the lack of the leadership on COVID as the only issue that really mattered. So history can undo you half the time.

COOPER: Have you seen -- we had presidents before undermine institutions try to destroy people's faith in -- or a vision for sort of the very foundations of democracy?

[17:50:07]

GOODWIN: I mean, what you'd normally see is when a president first comes into power, that they at least try to become president of all the people, they may not succeed, and they may have their passions and their supporters and their opponents. But there's at least that hope that when they start resetting a situation that you're going to reach out.

And I think what history will look at is the question of, could President Trump have reached out beyond his base? Could he have tried to go to the places where he lost? Could he have listened to the other side? Could he have reached over?

And there are moments when you almost thought he was going to, and then somehow never seem to. And I think that's what history is going to ask a question of James Buchanan, who was there before Abraham Lincoln is one of the Presidents who they think stoke the divisions when he was there. And he has not ended up to well in the presidential rankings. In fact, he's at the bottom.

COOPER: Whoever wins, as you said, when we started talking, this country remains more divided than ever, or as divided as it was, you know, before this election. In history, how do countries or how does the U.S. -- how does it bounce back? How does that -- I mean, we can remain divided, I assume and that could be just the future. Or there's an alternative of somehow coming together. We've seen that sometimes, in times of crisis. What does history tell us about what can happen?

GOODWIN: Well, I think history tells us that leadership can make a big difference. I mean, think about Lincoln's second inaugural. We just come through a war where 600,000 people had died, the country had been absolutely split into. And it's a message of reconciliation that he's giving to the country at that time. Both sides read the same Bible, both prayed to the same God, neither prayers were fully answered, with malice toward none, and charity fall, let us bind up our nation's moons.

I think that's what we've got to hope for if President -- the presidency goes to Joe Biden, and he begins to talk about the fact that he knows how difficult this is, but he's going to try to reconcile us. That overwhelming spirit, I think on the part of the American people, is to say we have to move in a different direction. One might have thought COVID would have been the kind of crisis that would have allowed us to experience it together, as sometimes a war does, you would need some sort of equivalent of a war without a war, hopefully.

But I think the desire is there on the part of the American people, the desire to trust again in the government. The numbers of people who voted in this election are a good sign, because maybe the more people vote, they'll feel engaged, they'll feel participants, not spectators, and they'll demand somehow that we get a Congress can work together. There's probably common agreement now on infrastructure, there's probably a common agreement now on what to do about the recovery of the economy and certain things.

I just believe if the bully pulpit is used to mobilize that spirit within us, that I still believe that somehow we'll get there. Nobody wants this level of division to be the way it is. It's only hurting us as a country. It's makes us vulnerable to other countries. That's what old George Washington warned against. If that spirit of factionalism gets so great, then we'll be vulnerable to influenced by foreign countries.

Our standing in the world needs to be improved. We need to show that we're common American citizens. Look, we were once isolationist. And then even before Pearl Harbor, we began to come together. And once we did, nothing could compete with the productivity of America.

Business and government came together, a plane every four minutes, a tank every seven minutes, a ship every single day. What we can do, what we could do in getting the vaccine distributed, getting it to everybody getting therapeutics, if that common element comes back together again. We have to envision a different way from what we've lived in, in the last couple decades. And we can. I think we can.

COOPER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, it's really a pleasure to talk to you. Author of "Leadership: In Turbulent Times". Thanks so much.

GOODWIN: You're so welcome. COOPER: We're watching the vote counts from Arizona and Nevada very closely, as are both campaigns with those two states, or will they decide the next person the United States. More election coverage ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:58:13]

BLITZER: This is Election Night in America continued. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Tonight, Joe Biden says once all the outstanding votes are counted, he expects to win the White House and defeat President Trump. The former Vice President getting closer to his goal with his projected win in Michigan just a short while ago.

But let's be clear, this contest is not over yet. It's all coming down to six states that remained too early to call. We're watching Arizona and Nevada very closely as they, they could be the ultimate deciders. Right now, Biden has 253 electoral votes on the brink of the 270 needed to win. President Trump has 213. He's now launching legal challenges as ballots are still being counted.

Let's get a key race alert right now. All right, let's start in Arizona right now with 11 electoral votes. 86 percent of the estimated vote in Arizona is now in. Biden maintains a lead of more than 93,000 votes over Trump. He has 51 percent to 47.6 percent. In Nevada with six electoral votes, 86 percent of the estimated voters in. Biden maintains a lead there, but only 7,600 votes or so over Trump. 49.3 percent to 48.7 percent.

Let's get some more states right now in our key race alert. Let's start in Pennsylvania. Right now, 20, it's a big prize, 20 electoral votes, 85 percent of the estimated vote is in Trump maintains a significantly 276,000 votes over Biden. 51.6 percent to 47.1 percent. In Georgia right now, 94 percent of the estimated vote is in 16 electoral votes, Trump maintains a lead of about 57,000 votes. It's gone down, 57,000 votes over Biden. 50 percent to 48.8 percent.