tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN October 21, 2021 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. you can always follow me on twitter and inst instagram @wolfblitzer. tweet the show @cnn sitroom and it's also available as a podcast. look for us on cnn.com/audio or wherever you get your podcasts. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. outfront next, the breaking news. the fbi announces moments ago that the human remains found in a florida nature reserve are those of brian laundrie. plus the full house of representatives votes to hold steve bannon in contempt. now all eyes are on the attorney general. will merrick garland prosecute bannon? and president joe biden about to face voters in cnn's town hall. anderson cooper is getting ready for that up to hall right now and will join me next. let's go outfront. good evening, i'm erin burnett. we are less than one hour away from cnn's town hall with
president biden. anderson cooper will join me in just a moment for a preview. you can see that live location there in baltimore, maryland. first, we have breaking news. the fbi just confirming the human remains found in that florida nature reserve are indeed those of 23-year-old brian laundrie. the news coming exactly one month after we learned that laundrie's fiancee, gabby petito, was murdered in wyoming by strangulation. tonight we're also learning about a crucial piece of evidence that could shed light on how petito died. a note booker discovered near laundrie's remains we're learning tonight is possibly salvageable, according to a source. leyla santiago is live. i know you had a chance to speak with an official from north port police moments ago and have learned ed new details about w they founding near brian laundrie's remains. what did you find out? >> reporter: we've learned that
the belongings and the remains were found about a 45-minute walk from this entrance to the reserve. it was dental records that allowed them to confirm that those remains belonged to brian laundrie. tonight the fbi has confirmed that skeletal remains found in the carlton reserve are those of brian laundrie. the fbi confirming in a tweet a comparison of dental records on thursday confirmed that the human remains found at the carlton memorial reserve and environmental park wednesday are those of brian laundrie. >> certainly the clothing, you know, that was there as well is consistent with what we believe he was wearing. >> reporter: the laundries were informed this evening when police visited the house. their attorney putting out a statement on their behalf saying chris and roberta laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed brian's. we have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the laundries' privacy
at this time. investigators continue to process items found near the remains, items believed to belong to brian laundrie, including a backpack and a notebook. >> the notebook to my understanding has not been opened. you know, that will need to be processed. we want to make sure that that's handled as carefully as possible. >> reporter: also today north port police pushing back on the account the laundries' attorney gave to cnn wednesday night about how quickly brian disappeared. >> let the record be clear, the laundries reported brian did not come home the night he went out for the hike. i actually reported that to the fbi personally. on friday the 17th the fbi called me and said we have a tip that brian was seen in tampa and we want to see if he's in the house. on friday when the fbi came to the laundrie residence, we then said, yes, we will fill out a
missing persons report. that got twisted as though the family waited until friday to report him missing, which is not how it happened. >> reporter: today north port police department spokesperson josh taylor telling cnn that's not true. >> if we had that information, there's a million things we would have done differently. i mean you can look at our actions very publicly that don't coincide with that information at all. >> reporter: for example, he says, north port police chief todd garrison publicly called out the laundrie attorney on twitter wednesday september 15th saying the north port police need your help in finding dgabb petito. please call us to talk with brian laundrie. >> we received no response. i think most people would find is appropriate to get a response, well, he's missing. that didn't happen. >> reporter: as to why he thinks
the lawyer is saying this now -- >> he's protecting his clients. >> reporter: and the attorney for gabby petito's family released a statement saying in part this evening they are grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter. gabby's family will make a statement at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready. erin, some answers tonight, but still a lot of questions as to what exactly happened here remain unanswered. >> leyla, thank you very much. so i want to go jim clemente, a former fbi profiler who has worked on many high-profile cases and mark o'maura who defended george zimmerman. thanks very much to both of you. jim, obviously viewers know you've been on this show talking about this manhunt more than a month. tonight that's come to an end, brian laundrie confirmed dead at the florida nature reserve. leyla talked about the remains
were skeletal and only able to identify anymore from dental records. so what does that tell you about how or when he died? >> well, certainly skeletal remains under those conditions could have -- well, he could have been there for the entire month. he could have been dead for that entire time. it doesn't necessarily mean that. but what it does mean is that it's going to be much more difficult to make a good, solid determination as to the cause and manner of death unless there's some kind of major, serious trauma to the skull that can be identified. there might not be a way to determine how he died. if he drowned, for example, there wouldn't be any evidence of that on his skeleton. >> in a skeletal way, right, right. this is really crucial, mark. for the petito family, for people to understand what happened here, right? when leyla spoke to north port police, she learned about the skeletal remains as i said. the spokesperson was silent when
asked about were any weapons found near the remains. who knows what it means. you've represented a lot of high-profile victims and perpetrators of crimes. based on what you know now, how do you think he may have died? >> well, it sounds like he took the mustang out to the park and somewhere around the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th of september, he went out there and committed suicide. that is the most reasonable explanation for where we are. he went through the trauma of whatever happened gabby where she ended up murdered. it makes sense that he went out to his, i don't know, special or favorite place and that's where he ended his own life. whether or not there was a gun or some other way, it does seem like he took his own life in a place that he wanted to be and he probably did it at a point in time where the laundrie family had no idea that he was going to or what was happening with him from that first day he took the mustang out all the way forward.
>> so, jim, here's the thing. we know he's dead but, again, we don't know whether it was by animal or by suicide or just by time, right, and water covered him up. we just don't know. so we don't know whether he intended to try to escape, go here briefly and when things calmed down try to get out. we do know that he traveled across the country alone without gabby after she died by strangulation when it was just the two of them. we know he used her atm card to get money. we know that he presented himself as being alone and hitchhiking to people he met. so we don't know if he intended to escape or flee from the nature preserve but we do have that record. will the fbi ever be able to answer the question of whether he intended to flee? >> well, that's a very difficult question, but the answer may be in that document, in that manual or notebook that was found. and if those -- if that notebook contained, for example,
information that could have been admissions, it could be projecting blame or rationalization, all that information could help in the determination. but the interviews of family members are probably going to be critical in this. >> so, mark, we understand a source has told cnn that brian laundrie's notebook that was found near his remains is, quote, possibly salvageable. now, they say, though, that it was outside of his dry bag. he had real camping gear. he had a dry bag but it was outside of that so they're trying to dry it out before opening it up. whether pages are stuck together, what kind of ink was used, did it bleed. how difficult will it be to process this evidence? >> i think we're going to have some luck, the fbi will have some luck because the technology of forensics has really come a long way in the past 20 years or so. so i think there's going to be great information to come from that. even if there is bleeding, you know, bleeding amongst the ink and the pages, they have done a
great job with even much older items that they find. so i think giving the fbi time they'll find some information. whether it's worthwhile or not, we'll see once we finding out. >> jim, there's also you point out the family, brian's parents. the question is when will they start answering questions about gabby petito. brian laundrie was living inside their house almost two weeks after he returned without petito in their fan. he comes home with her van without her and two weeks go by. come on. here's what the laundries' attorney said when he was asked about that. >> now is not the time to discuss that. right now we're going to wait for the forensic results to come in and we may revisit this in the future. >> so when you hear that answer, jim, do you believe they have a story to tell? do you believe if the lawyer has any idea if they have a story to tell? >> it's very frustrating to have an answer like that, put off the people that actually need to know.
hopefully they're being more cooperative with the fbi and the north port police. this is a critical part of the death investigation and the parents are key to determining how he died and whether or not this was by his own hand or accidental. >> mark, just a quick last question to you. does any of this make sense as to why he would have returned alone without her, weeks pass, the time on when they reported him missing, there's all kinds of disagreement on that. anything add up to you about why the parents would behave this way? >> not really, except he came home, he told them whatever he told them. they were traumatized by whatever. it doesn't make a lot of sense. but i do think they have information that will not put them in jeopardy but that the petito family does deserve to hear and that should be their next step. >> thank you both very much. i appreciate it. and next, anderson cooper will join me from the town hall with president joe biden with what is ahead later on tonight. plus steve bannon's fate now resting in the hands of the attorney general, merrick
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you're looking at live pictures out of baltimore where president biden will soon take questions from a live audience in a cnn town hall. biden leaving the white house just a few moments ago to head there. the stakes tonight couldn't be higher. our manu raju are reporting there are major sticking points on the president's spending bill and prospects for an agreement by the end of the week looking dire. anderson joins me. in moments you'll be speaking with the president. this is obviously a crucial moment in hi presidency, right? it has become, whether they intended it to or not, it has become about this infrastructure bill, the economic bill that he wants on top of that, whether he can succeed in that and in what form. take me behind the scenes. what are you planning for tonight and looking for? >> well, certainly this is a town hall so we have a lot of questions from the audience, from democrats, independents,
republicans as well. there's certainly a lot of interest in exactly where this deal is, kind of what the parameters of it are and also what is in at this point and what is something that the president would refuse to dom pro -- compromise we haven't gotten much of a picture behind the scenes. certainly i think a lot of people in the audience would like to get to some of that tonight. >> so biden obviously, as you mentioned, anderson, says there's challenges with the economic package. there's also the voting rights bill that he pushed for appears going nowhere in congress. the coronavirus pandemic. china obviously has been ramping up big-time. now, biden, as we all know, he relies on his optimism. he relies on saying he's an optimist when facing challenges. just listen to him here in recent weeks. >> i've never been more optimistic about this country than i am right now.
you know me, i'm more an optimist. i think things are going to go well. i'm incredibly optimistic about what we're going to be able to build together. >> optimism is great. but biden's approval rating is 44% right now approve, 50% disapprove. these are not the numbers he had months ago obviously, anderson, they're not the numbers he wants and not the numbers he and the democratic party needs. he needs more than optimism to change this right now, doesn't he? >> he certainly needs results. he certainly needs a whole host of things. look at the supply chain problems, inflation, gas prices. there's certainly a lot of things on the plate of this administration. i think you're going to hear a lot about all of those tonight from members of our audience and trying to see exactly what, if anything, he really has a plan for. some of those issues maybe he won't be able to have much of an impact on from the federal level, but it's certainly something i think a lot of the voters here in the room tonight want to hear about.
>> anderson, thank you so much. of course anderson will be there in just moments with president biden who is on his way from the white house right now to that theater with anderson and our live audience. thanks so much, anderson, and good luck. next, the department of justice now has the referral from the house of representatives to charge steve bannon with criminal contempt. what will attorney general merrick garland do? democratic senator kyrsten sinema facing a major backlash from members of her own party as she makes demands. those demands could derail biden's agenda.
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to have a universal recycling and composting program for residents and businesses. but it all starts with you. let's keep making a differene together. breaking news. the house of representatives has officially delivered its referral of steve bannon's contempt finding to the department of justice. that's after the full house voted today to hold bannon in contempt of congress. now, let's show you, these nine house republicans bucked party leadership and they voted for contempt along with the democrats. now the crucial decision on what to do about bannon's refusal to cooperate with the january 6th committee rests on attorney general merrick garland and his department of justice.
so it is up to president biden's attorney general to decide whether to prosecute bannon. and here's what garland said when asked about bannon today. >> the department of justice will do what it always does in such circumstances. it will apply the facts and the law and make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution. >> meanwhile trump weighed in today saying in a statement, quote, the insurrection took place on november 3rd, election day. january 6th was the protest. well, as your daily reminder of reality, facts, truth. hbo today showed violent chilling new footage as part of its new documentary, a tack that left five people dead on january 6th. take a look.
>> well, as for bannon's role in what you just saw there, it's crucial. he's the one who encouraged trump to come back to washington and foe to that rally. here's what he said the day before on january 5th. >> all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. and tomorrow it's gameday. i met so many people through my life that said if i was in the revolution, i would be with washington at trenton. well, this is for your time in history. >> your time in history. all hell is going to break
loose. but it was just a spontaneous thing that bannon knew absolutely nothing about? no. well, all but nine republicans want to look the other way and not hear more from steve bannon. paula reid is outfront live from capitol hill. doj now has the bannon referral from the house. obviously this passed overwhelmingly with those nine republican votes in addition to democrats. so what happens now? >> reporter: all eyes, erin, are on the attorney general. today's vote to hold bannon in contempt gave speaker pelosi the power to refer bannon for prosecution, and that referral will go to the u.s. attorney in the district of columbia but the big decision on whether to prosecute ultimately lies with attorney general merrick garland. coincidentally he was here on the hill for a routine oversight hearing. he was asked about this referral and he wouldn't tip his hand about how exactly he intends to handle this. he just said that the justice department will handle this as it handles everything else, by looking at the facts and looking at the law. look, erin, he's really facing
significant political pressure. committee members and even president biden have publicly said that they want bannon to be prosecuted even though of course the justice department is supposed to be independent of the white house. now, they continue, the committee continues to negotiate with other trump associates. it's very rare to hold anyone in contempt, to prosecute anyone for contempt, but this is meant to send a message to any other witnesses who are thinking about not cooperating. the committee has delayed depositions for former chief of staff mark meadows or pentagon official kash patel. but in two weeks they do have a deposition scheduled for former trump administration official dan scavino and today he got a sense of what happens if he defies a subpoena. >> there was an interesting moment today on the house floor. during the vote on holding bannon in contempt, congresswoman liz cheney, she said congressman jim banks has been actually claiming in official letters, signing, claiming in official letters
that he is the ranking member of the january 6th committee. he is not on the committee. how could he think he could send a letter like this and put his name on it and say he's something that he isn't. what happened? >> reporter: house hearings are known for strange moments but this was truly remarkable. representative cheney entered into the record at least one letter from banks claiming that he was a ranking member of the house select committee. and in these letters he is asking for them to share information with him. in one letter provided to cnn, he sent to the department of interior on september 16th, he asked them to provide him with any information that they were also sending the committee. a truly remarkable and unusual moment in a largely unusual day. >> amazing. i guess he wants it and wants to know what they have. but to think you're not going to be busted for that and it's an outright lie and a misrepresentation, it's stunning. well, thanks very much, paula. i appreciate it. paula reid reporting from capitol hill. let's go now to democratic
congresswoman cori bush because she questioned attorney general garland today. i appreciate your time, congresswoman. you were there in that room with merrick garland, right? did you leave the hearing today convinced that attorney general garland will prosecute steve bannon for contempt of congress or are you unsure? >> you know, all i can go by is he said, you know, that he would apply the law. and so we're looking and we're waiting. the only thing that i can go by is what he said for right now. i am hopeful because we won't let up. that's the one thing about it, we won't let up in the same way that i brought forward, you know, talking about the police killings and things that people may feel like we have other things to talk about right now. i won't let that die. i'm not going to let this go. so many people in that room, people across the country, we need our attorney general. we need our justice department
to make this very plain and prosecute. there should be no immunity for steve bannon, no immunity, absolutely not. when you have the chief white supremacist advisor to the white supremacist in chief being the one to say these things and what we just heard, you know, how is he able to then, you know, try to push for executive privilege. i don't even remember him being in the administration that long. >> of course trump -- as you point out trump had fired him and he was not an employee of the administration during the time he's now claiming executive privilege. plus as you're alluding to, there's no privilege that would exclude talking about a crime. so we do know, congresswoman, that steve bannon could be crucial to this investigation because of some of the things that he said. he urged trump to return to washington for the rally. here's what he said the day before the rally. >> all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. just understand this.
all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. it's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen. it's going to be quite extraordinarily different. all i can say is strap in. the war room, a posse, you have made this happen and tomorrow it's gameday, so strap in. >> so if the attorney general decides not to prosecute, right, because i have to put that out there because keep in mind he has not prosecuted trump or anyone in trump's administration for anything at this point. i know you said you're not going to relent, but does this take the teeth out of the committee? >> no, i don't believe so. i think that the committee -- the committee is looking for everything. the fact that we even have a committee after everything that transpired to try to stop the committee, i think that the people that are on that -- people that are on the committee, those that are part of the judiciary committee, none of us will just let this go. i think that steve bannon will have to -- not only steve bannon, but the insurrectionists, period.
i think even right now as we're seeing these sentences, some of which are three-month sentences and all of that which probably should be more as it relates to what they did. i don't believe -- i believe that at some point there has to be a reckoning in this area, and it's up to our justice department to do it. >> as i mentioned, of course, congresswoman, we're moments away from a cnn town hall with president biden and obviously a huge topic tonight will be the spending bills. today senator joe manchin told cnn he does not think a framework agreement can be reached tomorrow as democratic leaders had hoped. it keeps getting delayed. right now the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill which had a lot of republican support in the senate is scheduled for october 31st. if there is no -- well, let's be clear. you've said you will not vote for that infrastructure spending bill without the bigger spending bill.
does that still stand as your position? >> absolutely it still stands. my position as well as the congressional progressive caucus, we've made it very clear that this human infrastructure bill has to be in place. i cannot tell child care workers that you don't count but we want to make sure that those that are doing our construction work do. they count more than you. i can't tell them that we don't know when this will come back around. so you know what, we don't have anyone to take care of grandma needing to be at home. we don't have money for our schools. we don't have money -- you know, we can't say that we don't have money for climate action when we know what's happening to our planet right now. so no, i stand against voting for the bipartisan infrastructure package if there is no -- if the build back better act is not -- if we don't have that. they have to go together. >> all right. well, i appreciate your time. thank you very much, congresswoman bush.
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you're looking at live pictures out of baltimore, and we are now about just 15 or so minutes away from cnn's town hall with president biden, who landed there just moments ago. topping his to do list tonight is trying to sell his sweeping economic agenda that democrats have been scrambling on amidst themselves to reach a deal on this week. biden also sure to talk about democrats' push for a voting rights bill and the mask and vaccine mandates to fight covid. i want to go to the republican governor chris sununu. governor, you've been very clear that you believe that any private business should be allowed to do what a private business wants.
so if a private business -- then some of your republican governor colleagues, governor desantis, governor abbott, they think businesses should be prohibited from mandating it. what do you say to them? >> well, look, i think some other governors are kind of getting caught up in the moment. again, i'm very anti-government in implementing any vaccine mandate because one of the things you have to appreciate and the person that has to do it more than anyone is myself. there are limitations to our power as an executive. i think there are limitations to the president's power or the governor's power to force businesses to either vaccinate or not vaccinate. so you don't say, well, we're anti -- as a conservative republican i don't think government can control businesses. we have to be consistent, remember what we're about. a free market and free businesses. if a business wants to mandate the vaccine, that's their right.
if they don't want to mandate the vaccine, it's their right. it's not the governor's place or an executive, the president's place to get involved in that. we're going to sue the biden administration over this osha mandate, this rule that they're going to wing up and try to force all these businesses in because it's got to be their choice. >> so, okay, here's the thing. you have -- obviously you're very pro vaccine yourself in terms of telling people to get it and have clashed with republican lawmakers in your state about covid. they're not the only ones saying really, really bizarre stuff, but they have been saying some really, really bizarre stuff. here's what some of them have said about the vaccine. >> i see studies of blood clots in other countries. i see deaths in other countries. i will not play russian roulette with my health. >> they want everybody to have the shot. why? are they getting paid off by big pharma? is there something in the shot that's going to help them control us? there's lots of things that i'm reading that make me very suspicious. >> okay.
that same lawmaker, governor, shared with his colleagues a so-called vaccine death report which said studies on doses of the vaccine showed that, quote, and i want our viewers to hear this. this is what he said. in both vials there was a living organism with tentacles. this creature moves around, lifts itself up and even seems to be self-aware. okay. this is just a terrifying thing out of a horror movie. it's completely concocted. >> right. >> but he meant it, right? how do you push a vaccine that saves lives when you have stuff like that coming out from elected officials. >> look, erin, when crazy comes knocking at the door, you've got to slam it shut, that's all there is to it. one of the reasons new hampshire has been so successful with managing this pandemic, whether it's keeping the economy flexible or driving folks and at one time we had the highest vaccine rate in the country is because we're super transparent and we do everything on data. i stood up there in front of the new hampshire citizens every single day answering every
question we could showing the data, the trends. and that's the public trust that has to be built with that transparency. so there's absolutely no place for the misinformation, crazy conspiracy theories and nonsense. i don't care what party you're from, we'll push back on it every time because we have a big job to do. covid will get worse as we hit this fall and winter surge, no doubt about it. we need folks to get vaccinated, we need them to get their boosters, we need to get testing available. i've got a lot on my plate, i don't need crazy getting in the way. >> your state is known for its independence, okay? and i say this because i know, governor, in fact about 46% of voters in the 2020 election in your state were independents. 46%. now, biden won 62% of them. but the latest cnn poll shows his approval with independents nationwide has dropped really sharply in the past few months. 51% in april, now 45%. disapproval among independents has gone from 43% to 55%. that is a big jump. why do you think independent voters have turned so sharply on president biden?
>> they're smart. look, american voters are very intelligent. they watch the issues. th they don't just get caught up in the fight. we see this extreme left and extreme right grab the microphones but most of us live in -- 80% in the middle. we see what the open southern border has done, the mess that afghanistan has left and the fact that someone is trying to spend $3.5 trillion that our kids and grandkids and grandkids -- >> so you don't think they wish that he could get the bill through, that it's the inaction, you think it's the concept itself. >> oh, goodness no. there are very few americans that are excited about spending $3.5 trillion on more bigger and bloated government, you're not understanding the repercussions of this. i'm a fiscal conservative, i'm a governor. i have to live with a balanced budget. one of the most important responsibilities we have as an executive is managing other people's money. if you do it right and balance your budget, all good things come from that. i'll be critical of republicans
and democrats who doesn't done -- in washington who have not done a good job of that over the years. >> well, that's pretty much every single one of them. >> you have to get that straight. >> absolutely. yeah. you bet. >> i appreciate your time, governor. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> sure. next, senator kyrsten sinema, the democrat, facing big-time liberal backlash over her calls for no tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for biden's spending plan. and the virginia governor's race neck in neck as both parties are scrambling to get their voters to the polls early, but trump's big lie is complicating matters for republicans. and live pictures of the stage where president joe biden will face voters in cnn's town hall beginning in just a few minutes. to your financial plan. bill, mary? hey... it's our former broker carl. carl, say hi to nina, our schwab financial consultant. hm... i know how difficult these calls can be. not with schwab. nina made it easier to set up our financial plan. we can check in on it anytime. it changes when our goals change. planning can't be that easy.
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for biden's spending bill after sinema opposed them. this was the bill that was cut to who knows, maybe $1.9 trillion after sinema balked at the $3.5 trillion which was down from the wish of $6.5 trillion price tag. sinema is notching some big wins even though she's tight-lipped about laying out where exactly she stands. >> any comment on your stance on anything, senator? >> that was today. nothing to say. not afraid to have nothing to say. outfront dana bash. dana, sinema has drawn immense contempt from progressives recently but she wields a lot of power. she has been getting her way. maybe these tax hikes will be eliminated. senator durbin says that is likely. she has power. it makes many in her own party incredibly angry, but she has notched big wins. >> yes, especially this one.
i know you have probably witnessed during the election -- the midterm elections, the presidential election, the primary season for democrats, this notion of increasing taxes on corporations, giving -- making them pay their fair messaging around that. got wild applause. but there is one person who has never been for it, and that is kyrsten sinema, and that's according to people around her. she is somebody who is more of a republican in that sense. maybe on some of the other issues like climate, et cetera, she is more in line with the progressives. but on the fiscal issues like taxes she is not. so that's one of the things i'm going to be fascinated to see in the town hall tonight, erin, is how the president addresses that but also how he addresses what will come in its place because they promise that this will cost the american taxpayer zero, that
they will -- whatever they spend they will get back in revenue raises. >> right. well, of course those were all tax increases. sinema was one of eight democrats to vote against the $15 minimum wage from the federal government earlier this year. and the thumbs down signaling her opposition, which is of course a common gesture among senators as they vote. that provoked an outcry from liberals. not long after that happened, dana, of course as you know sinema posted a picture of herself on instagram wearing a ring that said "f off" on it. look, everything's hanging on her vote now. but what i find fascinating about her is that it does not seem to bother her when she's the only one left and there's 100 female on the other side of the room all saying you're terrible. it doesn't seem to bother her. >> it doesn't. she marches to the beat of her own drum. in so many ways. just the fact that as you said
she doesn't talk to reporters in the hallway. she doesn't -- and it's not just about us reporters. it's that she doesn't feel the need to let people know where she's coming from. and look, right now she's got four years until she's on the ballot again. but you can bet that -- and we know that democrats in arizona are saying that they are going to think long and hard about primarying her because progressives are not happy with her even though some republicans may be in arizona. a lot of them are. >> well, of course arizona hasn't had two democratic senators like now since 1953. state with an independent streak and a long republican history. thank you very much, dana. i appreciate it. and next, republicans have been railing against mail-in voting. but now they're singing a much different tune in virginia's very close race for governor. plus we are just moments away from cnn's town hall with president biden. your full financial picture. this is what it's like to have a comprehensive wealth plan with tax-smart investing strategies
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we are moments away from the cnn town hall with president biden. the most closely watched and deadlocked governor's race in virginia could hinge on whether biden can get his agenda through congress. it comes as the president is set to campaign with the democratic nominee, terry mcauliffe, next tuesday. jeff zeleny is out front.
>> every day is election day. >> reporter: for more than a month now that's been true in virginia. which is why debbie webber is greeting voters outside the county election office. >> hi there. how are you? >> reporter: and fielding questions about early voting. she's a gop volunteer and is getting an earful from many of her fellow republicans. >> they question the -- are these dominion voting machines? as far as i know, no, they're not. okay? but that doesn't lessen the concern they have that voting machines in general can be tampered with. >> reporter: that concern is unfounded. yet this is the irony in the nail-biting virginia governor's race. as republicans are scrambling to urge their supporters to take advantage of early voting. after casting aspersions on it for the last year. democrat terry mcauliffe and republican glenn youngkin have already cast their ballots early. >> we did it. >> reporter: along with more than half a million virginians
and counting. it's a critical part of both campaigns' strategies, despite deep skepticism alive and well in the gop. >> they used covid in order to cheat with all of these ballots and all of this early voting and late voting. >> reporter: fueled by president trump, who's still spinning conspiracy theories that come alive in conversations with virginia republicans like colin hayes. >> there's no reason to do mass early voting. i think that the -- a lot of the democrat-run states have taken advantage of the pandemic to expand it into their favor. >> reporter: he met youngkin at a rally this week and plans to vote for him on the traditional election day, november 2nd. there's no such skepticism from democrats. top party officials tell cnn that mcauliffe's best chance to win is by banking such a sizable share of early votes that youngkin can't catch up. >> those that have not voted make me a promise you'll go vote this week. we've got to go early vote. >> reporter: tonight vice president harris is joining mcauliffe at a campaign rally to encourage democrats to vote
early. a message to be amplified in the days ahead with visits from president biden and former president obama. the youngkin campaign has been aggressively promoting early voting, far more than most republican candidates, trying to keep democrats from building an insurmountable margin. >> well, early voting's really important. >> is there any hesitancy that you think you have to -- >> i don't think it is a -- >> it's a new thing. >> i don't think it's a skepticism. i think there's a lot of people who like going on election day and voting. >> reporter: outside the early voting center webber says she and other volunteers have been instructed to turn any suspicions about election security into part of their sales pitch. >> the early voting is encouraged. vote early. they're making voting easy, cheating hard. that was the design. from the republican perspective. >> reporter: now, the virginia governor's race has been deeply influenced by president biden's standing and of course that gridlocked agenda.
he will be coming back here to campaign next tuesday. erin, the question, will he be bringing an agenda with him? of course he'll be explaining that all tonight at the cnn town hall. but so many democrats here are watching the white house, erin. >> it's just unbelievable to watch all this come together at the same time. jeff zeleny, thank you so much for your report. thanks so much to all of you. cnn's town hall with president biden starts now. and welcome. we are live in baltimore, maryland, baltimore center stage. it's a cnn presidential town hall with president joe biden. i'm anderson cooper. thanks very much for joining us. president biden is at a pivotal moment in his presidency, trying to pass legislation that could
bring about the biggest change to america's social safety net in decades. democratic leaders have less than two weeks to meet the new deadline that they themselves have said to agree on this sweeping plan. for weeks they've been struggling to reach a deal. the stakes are certainly high for the president, for his party and for the nation. tonight president biden will take questions about his agenda directly from voters here in baltimore. everyone in this audience is vaccinated and masked per local regulations except when questioning the president. i've been vaccinated as well, tested multiple times for covid in the past week, including today. so with that i want to welcome the 46th president of the united states, president joe biden. [ cheers and applause ] >> good to see you. >> so there's a lot to get to