Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Biden on Brink of Win, Waiting for Pennsylvania; Razor Thin Margin Separates Biden and Trump in Uncalled States; Biden Cuts into Trump's Lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania; Trump Continues to Sow Mistrust in Election. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired November 5, 2020 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If they would not count the ballots, they would simply segregate them. And then right before the election --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: These are ballots that what?
SANTORUM: These are the late ballots, the ballots that the PA Supreme Court said that Pennsylvania law says have to be in by 8:00 on Tuesday. Pennsylvania Supreme Court said no we're going to extend it to Friday.
They took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and they said segregate the ballots, if this becomes an issue that matters, come see us again after the election. And at that time the Secretary of State and the governor said, OK, we'll segregate the ballots and we won't count them. And now they're counting them. And that's why --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But doesn't mean that there could just be an earlier decision?
SANTORUM: The point is she's not going by what she said she was going to do under a court process, number one. And number two, what I've been told is there are counties that can't count the ballots unless they count them on the same scanners as everybody else, and so now you've mixed the counts together.
And so again, you can say, well, it's not a big deal, it's not many votes, it won't matter. Laws are in place to give people predictability and certainty in election. When you start messing around with it, then you get conspiracy theories and you get all sorts of mistrust in the election. And that's why what the secretary's done here has become fodder for a lot of what you see going on in the internet right now.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me ask you a question, if the margin is 100,000, say, and that could be the trajectory if you apply the margin that he's been getting to the votes that are still outstanding, if Biden finishes with 100,000 margin, do you think there are enough ballots in that category that would change the election?
SANTORUM: Well, first off, we don't know. I mean there's another pod of ballots. For example, we do know in Montgomery County which is suburban, Philadelphia County. They reported, I'm told, to the Democratic Party that they had 2,700 ballots that were improper and needed to be cured. Well, again, secretary made the case to Pennsylvania Supreme Court that they wanted to have a cure provision provided so Pennsylvanians could cure their ballots. You saw Nevada talking about --
COOPER: Cure ballots meaning somebody's --
SANTORUM: Signature was incorrect. Or they didn't sign --
COOPER: So they call up the person and say --
SANTORUM: So they call up the person and say, can you come and fix or can you come vote in person, whatever the case may be. In Pennsylvania there is no provision to do that. You can't cure your ballot. If you make a mistake, too bad.
And so, they went to the Democratic Pennsylvania Supreme Court, who extended the deadline, gave them a couple other things they wanted. And the Democratic Supreme Court said, we're not going to do that because that takes a whole procedure. We're not going to create a procedure on how to cure ballots in this decision. So the answer is no. Yet what I'm told, the secretary called 25 Democratic counties and said you can cure -- this is what I'm told.
COOPER: Just what you're told so we don't know that for a fact.
SANTORUM: OK. I was told by the chairman of the Republican Party. So I was not told by nobody.
BORGER: But the point is if the margin is 100,000, if it's large -- and these may be legitimate issues. I haven't reported it, so I don't know. These are issues that need to be handled for the next time there is an election. And it should be litigated, and people should figure out what exactly went on. But what is going on now is people like Hogan Gidley who works for the President used to work for you saying ever notice no one ever all of a sudden out of nowhere at the exact time needed find ballots. I mean --
SANTORUM: The bottom line here is this election is taking place exactly the way everyone thought it would take place. that the Republicans are going to be way ahead in Pennsylvania. And the Democrats because they voted by absentee and Republicans voted in person and it would be close. The idea that this is not what everybody anticipated is simply wrong.
BORGER: This was the plan.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I appreciate you saying that because I do think all responsible news outlets, right wing, left wing have been saying this was going to happen. And now you do have people taking advantage of the fact that it's happening and trying to spread conspiracy theories.
I'm as frustrated as you are, if there have been any kind of improprieties by anybody in Pennsylvania, I'm frustrated by that for one reason. It spreads conspiracy and it steps on the good work of good people on both sides who've been doing a great job.
Including by the way, I just want to brag a little bit on black voters here. If Biden is saved. If this happens the way it looks like. You'll have African-American voters who will have rescued Biden in the primary and then in every state African-American voters coming out. Look at Georgia, it's Atlanta, it's Milwaukee, it's Philadelphia, it's Pittsburgh, it's Detroit. In every one of these place, it's African- American voters going through hell, sometimes standing in very long lines braving a pandemic to rescue Biden. And so that story is getting stepped on because of some of these --
AXELROD: Well, I think the bigger story, which is that -- I mean, that's a big story.
AXELROD: But we're sitting here and we're waiting for, it's interesting, for the votes from these metropolitan areas. And, you know, one story that this election has underscored is the changing nature of American politics. It used to the suburbs were Republican strongholds. Now these are major hubs of Democratic support. You see such a bright dividing line. It doesn't apply to the counting of the votes in Pennsylvania, because most of those were from Democrats just for a whole bunch of reasons.
But generally, you know, we have metropolitan areas that have now become an alliance between the suburbs, between minority voters, and these are growing areas. And that's why a state like Georgia has become competitive. And there are other Sun Belt states that are becoming competitive.
SANTORUM: And the reason Pennsylvania continues to be competitive. Is that Pennsylvania has either the second or third largest rural population in America. People think of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. People live everywhere. Because pretty much every place in Pennsylvania is arable land and water and so people live everywhere. And we have a large, small town rural population and that's why we continue to be competitive.
BORGER: Well, you know, what happened in this election is that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris said get your ballots in, vote early. Donald Trump --
SANTORUM: He said the opposite.
BORGER: Trump said the opposite. So to answer Hogan Gidley's question about why no one found ballots for Republicans -- whether or not many found ballots for Republicans is because Republican legislatures did not want them counted early. SANTORUM: Yes.
BORGER: And that is why --
SANTORUM: Pennsylvania, that's true.
BORGER: And in Pennsylvania --
COOPER: And the President didn't want them sending them in.
BORGER: Exactly. So, that is the process we expected, and it is the process we have.
COOPER: CNN is live in the battleground states, of course. And up next, we're going to Arizona where the count continues. When will we find out the totals in Arizona? We'll ask the Arizona Secretary of State.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're watching the electoral college map right now. Take a look at this, Biden has 253 electoral college votes, President Trump has 213. You need 270. Biden is getting closer and closer to that magic number. We'll see if that happens in the course of the day.
Let's take a look at a key race alert now. Arizona, critically important state right now, Biden maintains his lead. His lead is 68,129 over Trump. He's got 50.5 percent to 48.1 percent, 86 percent of the estimated vote is in, 11 electoral college votes in Arizona. Let's get a sense of what's going on. Kyung Lah is in Phoenix for us. She's joining us right now. Kyung, what are you seeing, what are you hearing on the ground?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you now how nervous people are watching these returns come in and you talk to the political parties here in this state. Certainly hearing it, Democratic sources here in this state say that per their Democratic voter file they're actually feeling very optimistic because they think that the votes that are still out, still being counted right now are Democratic votes coming from Democratic areas.
But then I spoke with a GOP source who's pouring over the numbers, and says, look, look at what happened yesterday, those two ballots returns and you saw the margins for the President and Joe Biden start to shrink. All eyes for the GOP in the state on are on what's going to be happening tonight because of those trends that we saw yesterday.
And what's happening here, I'm outside the Maricopa County Elections Department, and this is the outside. I'm in the parking lot because they are limiting the number of press who can be inside. Our Bill Weir is inside. And this is what's outside.
I want you to take a sweep of this fence, that is brand new. This is called the "freedom of speech zone." Why have this in the parking lot of place where the votes are being counted? Because there was a sizeable protest that we showed you here live on CNN last night. Certainly, they are being prepared, Wolf, for them to possibly return.
But I can tell you from having been inside, having to talk to county sources here, the counting is continuing. The people who are doing this vote, still showed up, still making minimum wage, and still at their desk counting the vote very carefully.
BLITZER: All right, we'll stay in very close touch with you. Kyung Lah, thank you very much.
John, Arizona a very important state. Biden maintains the lead. You heard Kyung Lah suggest that the outstanding vote earlier in the day we heard maybe 450,000 ballots are still outstanding in Arizona may be skewed in favor of the Democrats.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what Democrats believe, the question is count them. This is one of the states where it's been a slower process. And again, we spoke to Secretary of State several times. You can get frustrated at that. I know, everybody wants to know the winner. So we have to clear these states that we're still waiting on. At the same time, the unprecedented nature of this election. So as Kyung noted, here we are a 68,000 lead plus a little change for Joe Biden right now.
Which looks like a healthy lead but that's a smaller lead, this is one of those places in Pennsylvania and Georgia it's been working that Biden has been consistently cutting into the Trump lead. In Arizona when they have reported
results and they haven't come as frequently it is the President who has been cutting into Biden's lead.
So Republicans have every reason to say, let's wait, let's count the votes here. Maybe we can take this. Remember this would be a takeaway if Joe Biden wins it, Donald Trump carried Arizona four years ago, not by a lot, very close race, 3 1/2 point race. Like Georgia Democrats see these Sun Belt states as opportunity. And so in this campaign, demographics, older voters, the suburbs, Latinos, it's that's why the Democrats think they can do well here.
This is much of the game. Maricopa County, 60 percent of the statewide vote, Phoenix and suburbs around it essentially drive statewide politics in Arizona. And here if you're Joe Biden, 51-47, you want to run those numbers up as you get close and through it. But again, it's the suburbs here, it's been a slow count. We'll wait. Joe Biden if he gets Arizona keeps Nevada. He's the next President of the United States, which is why, again, Pennsylvania and Georgia still in play but this could be decisive.
BLITZER: Well, maybe we'll get a chance to speak to the Secretary of State of Arizona, get an update when those ballots will be coming in. Stand by. Let's go back to Jake. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks Wolf, and right now we are taking a look
and keeping an eye on a whole bunch of battleground states -- Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania. But one that has really surprised a lot of people out there is Georgia. Let's check in right now with Jeff Zeleny who's covering the Biden campaign for us. He's in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeff, throughout the closing weeks of the campaign, I would hear from Biden officials saying Georgia is real, Georgia is real. Do they actually think they are going to be able to pull out a victory?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they're not certain if they are but they are certain that it is incredibly close. And they are watching this count as we are, county by county here. They have election observers on the ground. They're watching this and they do believe it is very real. More real than they certainly expected if you talk honestly with them.
But in the final days of this campaign when they were seeing that crush of early vote coming into Georgia polls, it's one of the reasons that they sent the former President Barack Obama to Georgia on the eve of the election trying to get out even more in-person vote. But it is mail-in vote now that we're talking about here. So the Biden campaign I'm told is watching Georgia very, very carefully. They do expect lawsuits and litigation there. They are going to have that front covered as well.
But they do believe that this could be something that could sort of upset the map. I mean they were hoping for Florida. They were hoping for North Carolina. Not called yet but they do not have much hope there. But they do think that something is happening in Georgia.
At the same time they are watching Arizona as well, and trying to lower expectations. They do believe the race is going to tighten in Arizona but it is Georgia that's interesting. And Jake, we do believe we could hear from the former Vice President this afternoon. He's attending a briefing right now. We may hear from him at some point this afternoon, we're just not sure in what form or when -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny covering the Biden campaign for us in Wilmington, Delaware. Let's check in with the Trump team. Kaitlan Collins is there covering the White House for us. And Kaitlan, we have not seen or heard from President Trump at least directly. We've seen his comments on Twitter and press releases but we haven't heard from him. What has he been doing? What is he up to?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's been tweeting in all caps. We haven't actually seen the President or heard from him in person since about 2:30 Wednesday morning when he came out, Jake, and prematurely declared victory during that party at the White House. And so far, he has stayed behind closed doors. I am told that's not because he doesn't want to come out, he actually has been agitating to speak publicly.
And they weighed having him come out yesterday but then they ultimately decided against it, Jake, because aides kind of asked themselves, what would be the message be? The map has only gotten worse for the President since he spoke to people on camera at 2:30 on Wednesday morning. So they're not really sure even what the President would come out and say if he did come out and talk.
Of course we have heard him on Twitter in all caps talking about what he thinks is happening. And so the question is what does he do going forward? Does he actually come out and say anything publicly?
We were told that officials behind the scenes had been trying to create some kind of event for the President to do to show him going about his job as being President, as Joe Biden going around and doing these coronavirus briefings. But so far, Jake, that has not materialized.
And instead, the President has been advised to leave things up to the attorneys, let them handle these legal challenges. Some of them incredibly dubious that they've been mounting while they try to figure out what they are going to do as they are waiting to see what's happening with Arizona, Pennsylvania, these other states that we've been watching closely.
TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins keeping track of President Trump for us at the White House. Thanks so much.
And let's talk about this because I mean I have to believe if I'm a White House adviser, one of the reasons that I'm not encouraging President Trump to go out there is because the message from President Trump is increasingly unhinged and wild and the things he's saying about the election are just patently false. I mean he still could well become re-elected.
But based on what we're seeing, he is probably not going to be based on the data we have right now. And he's just launching all these lies.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean you know that he wants to be out there and that he wants to control the narrative which is why you're seeing him tweeting in all caps, messages that actually contradict what his advisers have been saying, that he wants. The President has been saying ,stop the counting and his advisers are saying, oh no, we're not saying stop the counting.
So President wants to control the message here and so kudos to the White House for being able to keep him off the television screens of millions of Americans as this is going on, but we don't know how much longer that's going to last because we are getting down to the wire. We're about to get into this phase where we could know today which if the state of Pennsylvania -- which way the state of Pennsylvania is going to go. And if it doesn't go Donald Trump's way, that's it.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And I think it's very telling that people who are still close to the President like his former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is saying publicly that he believes that Donald Trump would run again in 2024 if he loses. I'm hearing that from people who are in communication with Donald Trump's children and others.
And people who think that he is going to win a second term don't start talking about, you know, running in 2024.
PHILLIP: Those are the ones (INAUDIBLE)
BASH: But it also goes to -- not his -- right his former chief of staff -- but it also goes to that Donald Trump's psyche which we all know. That is the notion of losing is hard for any human to swallow, but Donald Trump, it's a whole different level. So there's no wonder why the characteristics that we've seen throughout the presidency, these tweets that seem incredibly chaotic and not linear, they're happening in, you know, kind of in stereo right now.
TAPPER: But you know, one of the things that's going on is that first of all you have like official Republican Washington that's just kind of like taking its time, watching what's happening, waiting for the votes to come in and pretending as if this Trump world does not exist. But the Trump world that I'm referring to are these deranged messages from President Trump, all caps -- I've never seen an all caps press release.
TAPPER: It was an all caps press release where the President said, if you count the legal votes I easily win the election, if you count the illegal votes they can steal the election from us, it's not true -- make a note you made a great observation about this.
PHILLIP: There's a reason that that came out in a press release. That is a Trump tweet, by the way. But they put it in a Press Release because Twitter and the social media companies and Facebook, have trying to tamp down on that kind of misinformation.
TAPPER: On misinformation.
BASH: Because it's data that's wrong.
TAPPER: Right, it's a lie.
PHILLIP: After he tweeted that, they would have flagged it.
PHILLIP: So the Trump campaign I assume figured let's put it in a press release and have other people report it.
TAPPER: Right, their bunch of reporters retweet.
PHILLIP: But report it with the context is important. What the President is saying is obviously not true. If the votes are counted, they will tell us whether he wins or loses, period.
BASH: And it's not a surprise that the President's aides are clearly hoping that he doesn't come out and speak in public. Nobody that I can find in the Trump orbit thought that what he did and what he said at 2:30 in the morning or whatever it was on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning was a good idea, that it did seem unhinged. It was so inappropriate on so many levels. And so the fact that they have been able to keep him from the cameras I think is really interesting.
TAPPER: Yes, it is interesting. It's fascinating. But while he's doing that, he and his offspring, his spawn are out there putting out tweets that are just, you know, that have warning label after warning label after warning label because they're all untrue.
They're putting out false information about ballots being burned. Then you have this whatever you want to term this, the legal dream team of Rudy Giuliani and Matt Schlapp and the others going city to city saying just nonsense, and it is increasingly apparent that it's kind of like a fish like flailing on a deck like on a dock where it's just like, they're breathing their last breaths.
PHILLIP: And you know, the conspiracy theories are so unhinged they've even forced Republican officials at the state level who are to be fair doing their best to get these ballots counted --
TAPPER: Georgia, Arizona.
PHILLIP: -- in states like Georgia and Arizona to say this is not true.
PHILLIP: In Georgia they had to be clear we are not -- we locked the lock boxes at 7:00 p.m. on election day as we are required to do. There are no sort of miscellaneous ballots just floating around and being counted that shouldn't be counted. They're forcing Republicans to stand up for the electoral system that they have been adjudicating for many, many months now. They're trying to do this fairly for everyone.
TAPPER: While Governors, Senators and members of the House who are Republicans are hoping that they can just ignore it and it will go away, Pennsylvania is poised to possibly decide the race for the White House. We're standing by to hear from Pennsylvania's Secretary of State any second. Our special coverage continues next.
BLITZER: It's election night in America continued. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're now 48 hours into our coverage and we may get an even better sense tonight of how the Presidential race is going to end. Former Vice President Joe Biden just needs one or two more states to prevail over President Trump.
And he now has higher hopes in Pennsylvania where he has slashed Trump's lead and where results may -- repeat -- may be announced said tonight. The Pennsylvania Secretary of State has a news conference scheduled for the next hour.
We're also watching all the major undecided battlegrounds, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.