On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
- Rep. Tom Emmer, Republican from Minnesota
- David Becker, CBS News election law contributor
- Rep. Sean Maloney, Democrat of New York
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
Last week was an extremely troubling one in American politics. We now have just eight days left until Election Day, and the country is feeling deeply unsettled.
Our CBS News Battleground Tracker poll out this morning shows that a stunning 79 percent — that’s nearly eight in 10 likely voters — say that the country is out of control. That’s an ominous sign for the Democrats, who hold power in Washington. Of those 79 percent expected to vote next Tuesday, Republicans have a more than 20-point advantage.
Two issues, the health of the economy and the health of American democracy, have taken center stage in this campaign, and it is the latter subject and the political rhetoric that could help fuel violence that is under fresh scrutiny following Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at their home in San Francisco.
CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane has more.
SCOTT MACFARLANE (voice-over): The day after the horrific attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed gratitude for law enforcement and her husband’s medical team and said she and her family were heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack.
President Biden spoke with the Pelosis on Saturday.
JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Don’t know for certain, but it looks like this was intended for Nancy. He kept asking: “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?”
SCOTT MACFARLANE: Forty-two-year-old David DePape will face a series of felony charges in the coming days, including attempted homicide, accused of striking the 82-year-old Pelosi in the head multiple times with a hammer.
DePape’s social media posts are saturated with conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and claims of election fraud. Democrats argue Republicans must do more to denounce the violence and end the baseless claims that could fuel threats.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: That’s the problem. We can’t just say, I feel badly about the violence and we condemn it. Condemn what produces the violence. And this talk produces the violence.
SCOTT MACFARLANE: The attack on Paul Pelosi is the latest in a growing wave of threats and plots against elected officials.
Capitol Police records obtained by CBS News show nearly 10,000 investigations into threats on members of Congress last year.
Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock has spent heavily on security this election cycle.
Our Nikole Killion caught up with him on the campaign trail.
SENATOR RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-Georgia): I’m not naive about the tough moment we’re in. And there are people who are trying to stir that up for short- term political gain game. It’s dangerous stuff.
SCOTT MACFARLANE: Meanwhile, an intelligence bulletin obtained by CBS News warns of a heightened threat from domestic extremist groups on and after Election Day, not just possible targeting of elected officials, but of elections administrators, political rallies and of possible attempts to intimidate voters or use claims of fraud to justify violence after the election, especially in cases where it takes additional time to certify the results.
SCOTT MACFARLANE: Despite baseless claims of fraud, the 2020 election is considered the most secure and successful in U.S. history.
And voting so far in 2022 has been safe and secure. So far, more than 20 million people have voted early, and elections officials say they’re being vigilant and coordinating with police, emphasizing, everyone should feel safe coming out to vote — Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott MacFarlane, thank you.
We go now to Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, also known as CISA. That’s the Homeland Security agency tasked with securing America’s cybersecurity infrastructure and coordinating with states on election security.
And you’re going to be very busy. I’m glad you’re here with us today.
JEN EASTERLY (Director, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency): Great to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about this bulletin, first off.
It warns, domestic violent extremists may view election-related infrastructure, personnel and voters as attractive targets. Are you aware of immediate and credible threats?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: No.
Let me be very clear at the top. We have no information about specific or credible threats to disrupt or compromise election infrastructure. I want that to be very clear. We are putting out information, like the warnings that you mentioned, to make sure that state and local election officials have the information that they need to protect their voting systems and their election infrastructure.
That said, Margaret, it is a very complex threat environment. You have cyber threats. You have insider threats. You have rampant disinformation. And, yes, very worryingly, you have threats of harassment, intimidation and violence against election officials, polling places and voters.
Let’s be really clear. That has to stop. It is unacceptable behavior. It’s undemocratic. And we all need to work together to ensure that this is a safe and secure election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And it is the states that administer the election. You are providing support to them.
What is the Election Day plan for security and then communication? What are we going to hear and see?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: So, on Election Day, actually, we at CISA are going to be in our own operations center.
We’re going to have federal government partners, private sector partners there, and then we’re going to be in direct communication with all of the state and local election officials whose job it is to run and administer elections. We’re going to be working to share information, and we’re going to be working to be able to respond to anything that happens.
But, remember, at the end of the day, the relationship between local officials and local law enforcement is incredibly important. And I was really encouraged by the opinion piece that came out yesterday with the sheriff in Massachusetts, one in Colorado, talking about the fact that ensuring election security is a nonpartisan issue, and threats to election officials have to stop.
So, that connectivity at the local level, the information sharing, the planning and exercising that’s happening is really important to ensuring security at the — at the polling place and at the ballot box.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We talk a lot about rhetoric and the risk of triggering violence.
And social media is a place where false information often spreads. So, I want to ask you about what’s happening now at Twitter. It’s now privately owned by billionaire Elon Musk. This morning, he tweeted a conspiracy theory about Nancy Pelosi’s husband.
Given how charged our environment is, are you concerned about how this platform might change and that it’s going to make your job more difficult?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Well, first of all, horrific attack on Mr. Pelosi, and thoughts and prayers go to their family.
That is a decision that social media companies, that Twitter will make. They make their own decisions, based on terms of service. I am laser- focused…
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the owner himself tweeting this out.
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: I am laser-focused on the next nine days and the time that comes after elections on doing everything we can to ensure security.
I do want to be very clear on this, though, Margaret. These elections, election officials, these are not faceless backroom bureaucrats.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Right?
These are our relatives, our friends, our neighbors. They’re in our community. They are dedicated public servants that are working day in and day out to ensure the security of elections. And they deserve not just our support, but our admiration and respect. And they deserve to be safe. And we all need to be responsible about ensuring that’s a safe and secure environment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is why I’m asking you about the place where these conspiracy theories spread.
The FBI report, when we looked at it, in terms of those direct threats to election workers, highlighted Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin as places where voter intimidation and threats to election workers have been seen.
Are these areas of greatest concern for you?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Concerned across the board.
We have cyber threats from nation states and cyber criminals. You have insider threats. You have physical threats, as we talked about, and then you have disinformation, so, disinformation, foreign influence that can be used to sow discord, that can undermine confidence in election integrity and that can be used to incite violence.
So, what are we doing? We’re doing a couple things. First of all, we’re putting out information about tactics and disinformation and how to build resilience against disinformation. We have a rumor vs.reality site that’s basically election literacy.
But, most importantly, we are amplifying the voices of local and state election officials. They are the trusted voices that understand how elections work. If anybody has questions about voting or what — how it all works, you should go to their local — local election officials.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
So, that’s who they should be following on Twitter and social media?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Those are the experts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Find out who your local election official is and follow their account?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Exactly. Exactly.
And, you know, I should point out, the National Association of Secretaries of State, NASS.org, TrustedInfo2022, a great source for information, as well as the National Association of Election Directors, NASED.org, frequently asked questions.
That’s the best — best place to go. They know how elections happen. If you’ve seen one state in an election, you’ve seen one state. It’s actually surprisingly technical and complicated, and that’s why I welcome people asking questions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: You know, the beauty of democracy is that it’s participatory. We can all have a role. So, volunteer, be a poll worker, ask questions, the more transparency, the better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Before I let you go, I want to ask you about the foreign threat.
In 2016, Russia probed voter registration logs. We know there are warnings about what China is doing right now. How effective has this campaign by Beijing been? And are there other state actors or non-state actors you’re concerned about?
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: Yeah, we’ve seen Russia, we’ve seen Iran, we’ve seen China use the playbook for influence operations.
That’s why it’s so important that Americans realize…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right now.
DIRECTOR JEN EASTERLY: … that they need to build resilience against that.
If you see information that’s on the Internet, you’re not sure whether it’s true, be critical about it, ask questions, look at the source, investigate it, and don’t spread that information any more broadly and give — basically give foreign adversaries a chance to manipulate Americans and to sow discord and to create lack of confidence in our elections.
But I want to be very, very clear. I have confidence in the elections that are going to be run because of the massive amount of work that’s been done across the federal government, at state and local election officials, with election vendors, to put multiple, multiple layers of resilience and security controls in place.
I am confident that elections will be safe and secure, and the American people should have confidence in the integrity of elections when they go to the ballot box, when they cast their vote.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, good luck to you. It will be a busy next few days and weeks.
Thank you very much.
And we turn now to the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer.
Good morning. Good to have you here in person.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER (R-Minnesota): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I have to ask you about what we’ve just been talking about here.
How concerned are you about the risk of political violence, and how should it be minimized?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: There’s no place for violence, period, in our society, physical violence or violence against someone’s property.
I think you’ve already covered that here this morning. The incident in San Francisco, tragic as it is, I think we need some more information about it, but we should all be feeling for Paul Pelosi and his family. Hopefully, there will be a 100 percent recovery.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And just to be abundantly clear, you denounce any kind of attack on the Pelosi family?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Absolutely.
There should be no attacks, period. There should be no violence in our society, again, whether it’s political or otherwise. There’s no place for it in a civilized society.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I’m glad you said that, because I want to ask you about something in our CBS News poll that shows that, even as Republicans are poised to lead this contest and — and take control of the House, we see suspicion, specifically among Republicans, about the voting process.
A big majority of Republicans support the idea of private citizens challenging election officials as they process and report vote counts on election night. We’re seeing that on the screen now. Two-thirds of Republicans support the idea of private citizens patrolling around ballot drop boxes and polling places.
This is just Republicans. We don’t see this with Democrats. We do not see this with independents. Would you urge private citizens not to patrol polling places?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Well, you picked the words, Margaret.
I would say that it is Republicans, Democrats, independents. All American citizens are very acutely aware, as your previous guest just mentioned, about our election process. I think this is going to be a very good election, because people are awake. They’re paying attention.
They should volunteer as poll watchers. It’s a state-based system. Whatever your state requires and allows, you should definitely be involved. And I think it’s going to help the process.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And just to be abundantly clear, poll watching is different than voter intimidation, which is unlawful.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Nobody should be intimidated when they’re exercising their most precious right to vote.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, when you see video, as we have seen in a place like in Arizona, where you see individuals with tactical gear, where you see individuals with weapons outside drop boxes, where — how do you classify that?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Again, no one should feel intimidated when they’re exercising their right to vote.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is intimidating?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: You’ve got — you’ve got stories on both sides of the aisle. You have got stories in many different states about how people have felt as though their right was infringed on.
I think cooler heads need to prevail.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: I really think we’re going to have a good election. I think you’ve got 15-million plus that have already participated in early voting across this country.
I think you’re going to have a big turnout in nine days from now on the election. And I think, again, Republicans, Democrats and others are well aware of the issues that we had during COVID. People were stepping up and trying to do things to make sure we were protected and safe, but they were adjusting election laws on the fly.
I think a lot of that has been resolved. I think you’re going to see a really good experience in nine days.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So you would urge citizens not to patrol polling places?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Again, I urge everyone, get involved.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Whatever your state allows, get involved. Volunteer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I need…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Exactly what your…
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … your previous guest said.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I want to ask…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Be part of the process.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, because, in this bulletin, it also talks about a linkage in drawing and — and undermining confidence in elections because of 2020.
And you are on this list that we have of 307 Republicans running for office who have raised doubts about the integrity of the election. I mean, they’re drawing a direct line here between sowing distrust then and what we are seeing right now.
Do you regret sowing doubts yourself?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: I — what you’re referring to, I have never sowed doubts about the election. I have definitely raised questions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you signed onto this Texas amicus brief…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Absolutely. Let’s talk about that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … that went to the Supreme Court to overturn it.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: What it said was — Margaret, what that — what that said, that amicus brief, is that a lot of people, governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state, took unilateral action during COVID, changing…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … changing the election laws themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you don’t regret these…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Again, if I could finish — changing election laws themselves to try and make sure that we were safe while we exercised our right to vote.
That particular amicus brief, all it said was that we need to reaffirm that state legislatures, and legislatures alone, make their election laws. So, as we go forward, once we’re out of COVID, we have to…
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … go back to that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, to be clear, you don’t consider yourself an election denier?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Absolutely not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And Joe Biden is the legitimately elected…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: We — we…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … president of United States of America?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: He’s sworn. He’s serving. He is the president of the United States.
MARGARET BRENNAN: He is the president of the United States. But you stand by…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: And we’ve got an election in nine days. We’ve got an election in nine days that we’ve been working on for the last two years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: You reported in the in — intro that eight out of ten Americans in that same poll that you’re referring to are concerned with where this country is. They say it’s out of control.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you’re not undermining…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: If you look, eight out of 10…
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re not meaning to undermine confidence in the 2020 election with your comments here?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Eight out of ten Americans right now think we’re on the wrong track. That’s what they’re going to be voting on in nine days.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know.
And I would love to talk about something other than people being worried for their lives. But, unfortunately, that’s where we are.
I want to ask you about this when it comes to political violence. On your Twitter feed, you posted this video we’re going to show just a few days ago where you’re firing a gun, and it says: “Enjoyed exercising my Second Amendment rights. #FirePelosi.”
Why is there a gun in a political ad at all?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: It wasn’t an ad. I was — I was tweeting out — I was tweeting out something that I had just done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Hashtag — or a tweet — hashtag #FirePelosi, with a weapon.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Well, now you’re…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wouldn’t a pink slip be more fitting, if it’s about firing her?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: It’s interesting, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why a gun?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: It’s interesting, Margaret, that we’re talking about this, this morning, when, a couple of years back, when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot Steve Scalise…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Which was horrendous and horrific…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … when a Bernie Sanders supporter…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … which is why we should be not…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … shot Steve Scalise…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … be putting weapons…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … I never heard you or anyone else in the media trying to blame Democrats for what happened.
We need to stay focused on what we’re all doing…
MARGARET BRENNAN: We did extensive coverage of what happened to Steve Scalise.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Excuse me?
MARGARET BRENNAN: There was extensive coverage, sir.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: But nobody tried to equate Democrats’ rhetoric, people that say…
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m not talking about your rhetoric. I’m talking about what you posted.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: It’s the same.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re shooting a gun. Our viewers just saw it.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Yeah, right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Hashtag #FirePelosi.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Exercising our Second Amendment rights, having fun…
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s not a debate about the Second Amendment.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … shooting a gun. Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s not a debate about the Second Amendment.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Yes, it is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Hashtag #FirePelosi.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Yes, it is.
I — I’m running the campaign operation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you not understand that that is suggestive to people who are in a bad state, and, in this current environment, how risky it is? As you’re talking about…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Well, I disagree, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … the importance of lowering the rhetoric…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: I disagree with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … why do you leave that up?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Again, I never saw anyone after Steve Scalise was shot by a…
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m talking about right now…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … Bernie Sanders supporter…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … what just is happening right now.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: .. trying to equate — equate Democrat rhetoric with those actions. Please don’t do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
Looking at your candidates, Republican candidates have spent more than $116 million on ads that mentioned Speaker Pelosi by name in their cycle. If this is about the issues, why shouldn’t make it about the issues? Why not depersonalize it?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: It is absolutely about the issues. It’s about the fact that we have double-digit inflation…
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don’t think…
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: … exploding — exploding cost of living. We’ve got a crime wave across this country that is a direct result — is the direct result…
MARGARET BRENNAN: In this moment — we are eight days out — don’t you think this needs to change?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Again…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why not pull some of these ads? Why not just delete your tweet?
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Well, I’m sure — I’m sure people would like to talk about anything but what the Democrats have done to this country, which, quite frankly, is exploding cost of living, a crime wave in our major cities that is the result of this defund the police nonsense and cashless bail.
I mean, you look at New York City, where you put someone in jail at 9:00 p.m. for assaulting someone on the street and they’re back out on the street at 9:00 a.m. committing crimes again. You look at my state of Minnesota, Minneapolis, it’s had 6,000 assaults since the beginning of the year, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: Those are the issues that are top of mind for every voter in this country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: That’s why they’re going to show up in — on the — on November 8.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM EMMER: And that’s why Republicans are going to win in the midterms.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s what our projections are showing.
But I would suggest more pink slips, fewer weapons in our ads in this environment.
Sir, thank you for joining us.
Face the Nation will be right back. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re joined now by David Becker. He is CBS News election law contributor.
David, welcome back here.
We just had that conversation about the environment that we are in right now. I know you have been raising concerns for a while about many of your colleagues, people you know who serve as election workers, who are fearful about what’s to come.
What are you hearing?
DAVID BECKER: Yes, I mean, they have been suffering for two years now abuse, threats and harassment not only directed at them and their staffs, but their families, their children in some cases. It seems like election deniers do want to create an environment of fear.
I think they want election officials to be scared. And they want voters to be scared, to some degree. I think it’s also really remarkable that voters have responded with over 20 million of them voting already. We have 1.6 million of them having already voted in Georgia alone.
The environment is really scary right now for a lot. I mean, we see that from the polling. We see that from what Scott was just talking about earlier as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And these are people in your community that you know.
DAVID BECKER: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This isn’t big, bad Washington.
DAVID BECKER: No.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DAVID BECKER: I talk to election officials regularly. I was talking to an election official in Florida just last night who was dealing with an issue at a polling place.
I talk to election officials in Arizona, including those issues that we have seen in Maricopa County, Arizona. Important to note that…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Those men in the tactical gear that we were just talking about.
DAVID BECKER: Right, at a couple of…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … that a federal — federal judge says is their — is permitted.
DAVID BECKER: Right, yes, at least for now.
It’s been appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and it will be heard next week. So, we will see if that is still the case. Under federal law, there are multiple statutes that prohibit voter intimidation or attempted voter intimidation.
And I can tell you, as a former lawyer who used to serve in the Department of Justice, that videotaping or photographing voters against their will, following them, that has been the kind of activity that the DOJ has viewed as intimidating in the past.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to make a very clear distinction here, because we were talking about with Congressman Emmer the call for people — and you have heard it from the head of the RNC — to come and watch voting occur.
That is not illegal.
DAVID BECKER: No, it’s not only not illegal.
Properly trained poll watching by both parties is a really good thing. Extreme transparency is something that’s practiced by election officials all over the country. They want people to come in and see what they’re doing. That is a really good thing. But they serve as flies on the wall. If they see a problem, they’re supposed to report it to the proper authorities.
When we see vigilantes — and this is only happening in a few places — start to take matters into their own hands, those people are not properly trained. But people who want to volunteer to be poll workers working for the actual election jurisdiction, more poll watchers working for their campaigns or their political parties, as long as they’re well-trained, that’s a really good part of the process.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. But voter intimidation is unlawful.
DAVID BECKER: That’s right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You — we were looking in our research here at that the AP has a report saying the most litigation ever fired — filed before an election is happening right now, most of those lawsuits by Republicans.
What does that signal to you?
DAVID BECKER: Well, I think people are very attuned to what’s going on with the election process. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
We’re also seeing efforts to change rules in red areas as well, things to install hand counting of ballots, which is a really bad idea, really comes up with inaccurate counts, takes a lot longer, breeds more concern about the process. A county called Nye County in Nevada is doing that.
But resolving these kinds of disputes before the election is a good thing. So, if we’re having a lot of litigation, it’s important for everyone to know the rules by election night.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DAVID BECKER: It’s not OK to question those rules after the election. You mentioned that Texas lawsuit that came in December 2020.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DAVID BECKER: That was a perfect example of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, thank you very much, David Becker.
DAVID BECKER: Thank you, Margaret.
And we will be seeing a lot more of you, I know, in the coming days and weeks.
We will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can’t watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR.
Plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount+ app. And we’re replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network throughout the day Sunday.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We go now to the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, that’s New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.
Good morning to you.
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY) (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start where we just left off with our other guests. How concerned are you about the risk of political violence? And can you say, unequivocally, that you and your fellow Democrats will accept the outcome of your elections?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Of course, we’ll accept the outcome of the elections. Always have. Always will.
And – and we’re very concerned about the integrity of our elections, especially when people are trying to intimidate people with weapons, when they’re engaged in these tactics to try to undermine confidence.
Now, we’re – we’re going to accept the results of the election. That’s – that’s the American way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I’m glad you said that because there’s been a lot of attention drawn to comments by some Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, who just released a taped statement online where she was talking about upcoming elections and she said, right-wing extremists already have a plan to literally steal the next presidential election and they’re not making a secret of it.
I understand hyperbole, but would you agree that that’s not helpful in the current environment to talk about plots to steal elections?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Yes, no, I don’t understand what that means and I didn’t see the comment.
Let me – let me tell you what I think. What I think is that it’s perfectly legitimate for both parties to make sure that voting is fair, that there’s no fraud, that when votes are cast, that the people have a right to cast them or don’t. And that’s normal. And in a close election, you might have a recount, you might have other examination of absentee ballots. That’s all run of the mill stuff.
What’s different is people showing up with weapons and sitting in the back of a pickup truck next to a drop box trying to scare the tar out of people who are just exercising their vote.
What’s different is when a president, for the first time in our history, says he was cheated out of the result when he knows that’s a lie. So, let’s — let’s not – let’s not – let’s not pretend for a minute that both sides have the same – same amount of accountability for – for the loss of confidence in our elections. One side has been out there for a couple of years now doing everything they can to pretend Joe Biden didn’t win fair and square when he did. And that’s the difference.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On that topic, Democrats shelled out about $53 million to support 13 Republican candidates during the primaries. I know you’re part of strategy here and the strategy was to elevate less electable Republicans in order to benefit Democrats. And some of this worked for you, but in at least two races these guys have realistic shots at victory. I’m looking at John Gibbs in Michigan, for example.
Do you take responsibility for helping election deniers?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Well, at the DCCC, there’s only one race in the country, one, where we – where we engage in the – in the tactic you’re talking about. And what we did was we ran an ad that’s true that said he’s too extreme for western Michigan. And we ran that general election ad about two weeks early. And Hillary Scholten has been beating him consistently since she became our nominee. She’s a strong pro-choice Democrat. He’s a nut.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you stand by the strategy?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: And she’s going to — and she’s going to beat him.
What I can tell you is that, in a budget of $340 million, we spent about $400,000 running a true general election commercial two weeks early calling John Gibbs an extremist, which he is. And – and that’s all you’re talking about.
Now, I can’t be — I – I can’t answer to what governors did or what senators did or what other people did. But the committee I ran, in a budget of $300 million, put $400,000 into speeding up a general election ad that was truthful.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: And we’re going to win that race.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The top three issues when we talk to voters that they tell us they’re concerned about are economy, inflation and crime. Half of voters, according to our poll, think Democrats would cut police funding. Now, I saw an ad the DCCC just bought in your district, and it opens with you talking to a policeman. You are keenly aware of this. Why hasn’t your party been able to shake that perception of being soft on crime?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Well, because a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on, as the saying goes. In my own case, I brought $7 million for local police departments, supported the Invest to Protect Act, which will fund all the police departments in my district, all under 125 officers. That’s the most important support we’ve done for police in 30 years.
And if you care about rising crime, my goodness, we should listen to police who are begging us to do something about the gun violence, which is at the heart of so much rise in crime. And, of course, the MAGA crowd is in the pocket of the NRA and won’t touch common sense (ph) bipartisan gun safety legislation, which we passed through the House.
So, we have a record of results supporting good policing and – and – and going after gun violence. And that’s what people need to know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In our poll, 46 percent of voters believe Republicans’ economic policies will help them. Only 40 percent say the same about Democrats. Fifty-three percent of voters believe gas prices will go up under Democrats. Twenty-one percent say the same of the – of the GOP. I mean, since you’re talking strategy here, in these closing days, how do you change these perceptions and how do you get out younger voters?
SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Right. Well, what people need to know is that we have a plan for cheaper gas, cheaper groceries, cheaper housing, cheaper health care. We have a plan for safer streets, supporting good policing and attacking gun violence, which is so much of the problem, and supporting our freedoms, our reproductive freedoms and our voting rights. And that’s a — those are real plans.
Now, you can take a poll and you can – you can take a snapshot at any given time. But, of course, your former guest had no plan for the economy. They have no plan for gun violence. They have no plan to move our country forward, protecting voting rights, protecting reproductive freedoms. So — so what I would say is, don’t punish the people who are fixing your problems and don’t reward the people who are trying to exploit the problems for their own political power. That’s really the difference right now. We’re – we’re engaged in the hard work of bringing our country forward. The other side’s working on their own power.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you for your time this morning.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to take a closer look at some of our battleground tracker findings and the issues that are setting the mood in America in these final days of campaign ’22.
Mark Strassmann reports from Los Angeles.
MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): America’s zeitgeist, vulnerability, like this home invasion hammer attack on a politician’s 82-year-old spouse, reinforcing we’re an anxious, often resentful bunch heading into midterms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now with Joe Biden, there’s a big thumb on top of you where you can’t enjoy yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just need to see some peace. And I think the only way to do this is voting.
MARK STRASSMANN: The economy, especially inflation, indisputably top of mind in voter anxiety.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cost of groceries are outrageous. Utilities are outrageous. It keeps going up.
MARK STRASSMANN (on camera): And gas prices. Look at these in Los Angeles, right at $7 a gallon for regular. That would be nightmarish in most of the country. But here in L.A., prices have actually been coming down in the last couple weeks.
MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): In our latest CBS News poll of registered voters, a majority blame President Biden and the Democrats for the economy and gas prices. The president fighting that perception.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unemployment is not 6.5 but 3.5 percent, the lowest it’s been in 50 years.
MARK STRASSMANN: Republicans see inflation numbers and smell blood.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Not just a red wave, but a red tsunami.
MARK STRASSMANN: Crime is another voter worry, like last week’s deadly school shooting in St. Louis, the 40th this year involving injuries or deaths. In major cities, murder rates and shootings, both down slightly, but from a 30 percent spike two years ago. Our poll shows Republicans have a double-digit lead on crime policies to make you feel safer.
But American voters want this election cycle of leadership to confront other challenges. Immigration, an infectious dies trifecta, Covid, the flu and RSV, gun policy and abortion in a post-Roe America. Our poll says a majority of voters think Republicans will pass a national abortion ban.
Another worry, culture wars invading the classroom and performance that’s plummeting. It’s one more challenge calling out for grownup intervention as millions of Americans now vote for their idea of a grownup, knowing that whoever wins, half the country will resent it, again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann reporting from Los Angeles.
Our new CBS News battleground tracker poll shows Republicans still have an edge in the race for control of the House. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto is here.
Anthony, tell us more.
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, Margaret.
You know, we’ve been talking to voters throughout this campaign in all the congressional districts. Right now our latest CBS News estimate is that the Republicans lead in 228 districts. That is enough to take the House majority.
Now, there is a range around these estimates. Let me show you the political implications here. They really center around turnout. You might ask, do Democrats have any chance to hang on, even to a slim House majority? The answer to that starts with the possibility that they’d get bigger turnout from younger voters. If voters show up the way they did in, say, 2018, that could get the Democrats a little bit closer, make the House effectively even. The trouble for them is, we have not seen strong indications that that is going to happen.
The more likely scenario is that Republicans, who do have an express turnout advantage, more motivation, more enthusiasm so far, if their turnout advantage grows, we plug that into the model and that would get the Republicans up to 238 seats, a slightly larger majority.
Now, in any case, we’re looking at a seat gain here for the Republicans that’s about or even below average for a party out of power. You might ask why that is, especially given the concerns about the state of the country and the state of the economy.
Let me show you a split that I think tells a lot of the tale.
I asked people, which concerns you more, whether or not the U.S. is going to have a functioning democracy or whether it’s going to have a strong economy? And the results are somewhat split. But look at the voting differences here. Those who are more concerned about functioning of democracy, voting for Democrats. Those more concerned about the strong economy, voting for Republicans. And I think that defines the way that voters see the very large stakes here and the way the parties are expressing those stakes, which is partly why this race is so locked in.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you.
And we’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For more now we turn to our political panel.
Amy Walter, publisher and editor-in-chief of “The Cook Political Report,” senior White House and political correspondent, Ed O’Keefe is here, and Nick Timiraos, chief economic correspondent for “The Wall Street Journal” is also at the table.
Good morning to all of you.
AMY WALTER (Publisher and editor-in chief, “Cook Political Report with Amy Walter”): Good morning.
NICK TIMIRAOS (Chief economic correspondent, “The Wall Street Journal): Hi.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Amy, we just heard Anthony’s scenario here. This is not a red wave, but it is a Republican majority. Does it match with what you’re seeing?
AMY WALTER: Yes. I think the way that Anthony pointed it out is a very smart way of thinking about this.
You know, elections — normally midterm elections, the challenge for the in-party usually is that their own side doesn’t turn out. And that’s where the other side is much more motivated. And when you see those big, big gains, like we saw say in 1994 or 2010 on the part of Republicans. This year we’re seeing that Republicans and Democrats are motivated. Republicans a little bit more. But Democrats feel pretty good that they’re at least getting more of their base turned out. Now, young voters being always a challenge for Democrats.
But, look, I think what happened over the course of the summer is that the issues surrounding abortion rights, plus the focus on Donald Trump, January 6th, and, quite frankly, a little better of an economic picture gave some boost of enthusiasm to Democrats and got them energized in terms of the voters, more energized to turn out. But it feels as if that has pretty much stalled. That it hit this point and it hasn’t really gone much further. And, instead, where the focus is now, it’s no longer as much about abortion or Donald Trump, and much more about the things that Anthony pointed out, which is the economy, gas prices and people feeling, quite frankly, pretty stuck.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we frame this as, you know, sort of a choice with (INAUDIBLE). And – and, Ed, in some of these recent politic ads, I’m thinking about in Maloney’s district, I was just watching one, they’re changing the focus to be about extremism.
ED O’KEEFE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So not even talking about the affirmative case, but fear the other side.
ED O’KEEFE: Right. Not – and not only in the realm of democracy and – and those concerns, but in the realm of abortion rights and – and Social Security and Medicare being ripped up or rethought.
I watched Maloney this week actually make that exact argument to a bunch of seniors in assisted living facilities. He said, if you don’t think they might come after your Social Security and Medicare, look what they just did to abortion rights after 50 years of threatening to do it. So that’s kind of a way to make both arguments at the same time but not make an exclusive (ph) abortion argument. And that’s the kind of pivoting that they’ve done here, now realizing that abortion isn’t as urgent an issue.
Part of the reason one Republican I talked to this week said, look, you go look at mothers across the country who may be concerned about abortion rights, but they’re not necessarily bumping up against the issue of abortion rights every day, they’re bumping up against the fact that beef is costing three times as much as it did before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ED O’KEEFE: And those more urgent economic issues may be what’s drawing people back over to the Republican side.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
I want to come back to the issue of abortion in a second.
But, Nick, can you pick up on this because our poll shows 69 percent of voters describe the condition of the national economy as bad. Only 27 percent say it’s good.
You’ve got a piece saying — out in “The Journal” saying basically American consumers are doing pretty well.
NICK TIMIRAOS: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, why don’t they feel that way?
NICK TIMIRAOS: Yes, that’s a great question, Margaret. You know, the issue here is that if you look at the labor market, 3.5 percent unemployment rate, what’s not to like about that? But if you look at, you know, what’s happening with wages, they are not keeping up with prices. We had another report Friday that shows that Americans’ wages are not keeping up with prices. And so those are real income cuts. Nobody likes that. You drive by the gas station, you see how expensive gas is and you look at what’s happening right now with interest rates, they’ve gone up a lot this year. Mortgage rates this week are above 7 percent for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. We haven’t seen that since 2001.
So, yes, on paper, you know, there are things you can point to that look great, but people just don’t feel great about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we have this Fed meeting in the coming days. What are the conversations inside the Federal Reserve right now about when inflation gets better and what they plan to do?
NICK TIMIRAOS: Well, the problem for the Fed is that monetary policy takes time. It acts with a delay on the economy. So, you can’t see your moves right away.
The Fed, this year, has raised interest rates as the fastest pace since the 1980s. Normally they raise rates by a quarter point every six weeks or so. This year they’ve been going at three-quarters of a percentage point. And when you don’t have time to see how that influences the economy, it’s like barreling down the highway but using the rearview mirror to guide where you’re going. It raises the risk that you’re going to drive off the road.
And the problem here for the Fed is, they can’t take a risk of not getting on top of this inflation because even though the risk of doing too much is a recession, the risk of not doing enough is that inflation just stays high and you have to have a bigger downturn later.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, I mean, those are the details of it. That is monetary policy. What is it that – that Republicans are actually arguing, Ed, they can do because, really, the reality is, their hands are pretty tied here.
ED O’KEEFE: They are. I – you know, if you read their websites, if you listen to what they say –
MARGARET BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE).
ED O’KEEFE: They want to cut government spending and, in some cases, they want to see implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that either they voted for and they don’t want to admit that will help their districts even if they voted against it. And I –
AMY WALTER: Yes, I mean –
ED O’KEEFE: Go ahead.
AMY WALTER: Well, and that’s the bottom line, when you’re in charge, and things are going well, you get the credit, a lot of which you don’t deserve. When you’re in charge and things aren’t going well, you get the blame, even if you don’t’ deserve all of it. And when you’re the out party, you get the benefit of the doubt because voters are saying, well, I don’t know, if Ed can really fix this, but these folks who are in charge, they’re not doing a very good job. Let’s just – let’s just put it — let’s just give them a shot, which is why Democrats are doing the extremism thing.
If people are upset with the status quo, which they clearly are, Democrats’ only chance to hold on, especially in some of these Senate races, is to say, the bigger risk is taking a risk on the other side. Staying with the status quo you don’t like is uncomfortable but not as bad.
ED O’KEEFE: And the other ironic thing, a lot – much like the Fed, the – the problem for the Biden administration and Democrats is a lot of their accomplishments are going to take time to be implemented.
AMY WALTER: Right. That’s right.
ED O’KEEFE: The Medicare price cuts don’t kick in until next year.
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
ED O’KEEFE: The bridge isn’t getting rebuilt until early 2024.
AMY WALTER: Right.
ED O’KEEFE: So they can talk about all these things in the abstract, but the voter can’t see it yet.
AMY WALTER: That’s right. That’s right.
ED O’KEEFE: The president may know, come my re-election, if I’m running in 2024, people will see what I did –
AMY WALTER: That’s right.
ED O’KEEFE: But I — they won’t be able to see it before November 8th.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s also kind of hard sometimes to message around market forces.
ED O’KEEFE: Right. Kind of?
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, an – an energy analyst that I – that I speak to was pointing out, you know, Ron Klein, the chief of staff to the president, tweets almost daily about the price of gas. He’s like, why are they trying to own something they cannot control?
ED O’KEEFE: That is a question that the White House chief of staff is going to have to answer for. And not only is — why are they tweeting about something that they can’t control, why is he tweeting so much to begin with every morning about this and other issues when he, perhaps, should be running the White House? I’ve heard this from Democrats. I think we’ll hear it a lot more from Democrats after the elections if it goes south for them.
It is an obsession for them because they know it is the psychological and the sort of data barometer that we’ve all used to measure inflation and the discussion about the economy. But, yes, it is something completely out of their control. And perhaps by doing that it’s — as that energy analyst noted, it may have drawn too much attention to the president and allows him to take more of the blame.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, Nick, in “The Journal,” a survey of economists putting the probability of recession over the next 12 months as 63 percent. So, that is the Congress that Republicans would be walking in to control.
NICK TIMIRAOS: Yes. And the issue here is, the economy is slowing. We knew it was going to slow because we had a boom last year. But if it doesn’t slow enough, if consumers keep spending the savings that they’ve accrued during the pandemic, then that just means the Fed is going to come in and raise interest rates more. You know, this week we’re going to get close to 4 percent on the policy rate that the Fed sets, but we could go closer to 5 percent next year. And, you know, there’s a – there’s a Fed chairman who used to say that it was the Fed’s job to take the punch bowl away as the party was getting started. And that’s what you’re seeing this year.
But if consumers keep spending money, we had very solid earnings reports this past week from United, Visa, Coca-Cola, if consumers keep spending, then Jay Powell is going to get on the phone and call the cops and say, we’ve got to get the noise volume down here. We’ve got – we’ve got to get these people to go home because this is just not sustainable to have inflation continuing to run higher and higher and higher.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And that’s hard to explain sometimes that like things — some things are going to get more expensive by design. It’s going to get more expensive for you to borrow money because of what’s happening.
NICK TIMIRAOS: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming back to the issue of abortion, Amy and Ed. I think it’s interesting that the dynamic seems to have changed on this in terms of bringing out voters. You were saying, Ed, that people feel inflation, perhaps, is a more immediate crisis than abortion access.
I wonder, Amy, because it’s so different state by state.
AMY WALTER: Right. That’s what we’re –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that it?
AMY WALTER: It’s quite interesting actually. Where we’re seeing Democratic — especially candidates for the House, having the most trouble is actually in blue states, like Oregon, California, places where the issue of abortion is pretty well settled. These are Democratic-run states. They’re – the — it’s not an existential question —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the state has already codified it?
AMY WALTER: Because the state has either codified or it’s Democratic and the governors’ candidates have all pledged to go forward in that way.
It’s the red and purple states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, where we know that this issue is not settled and where, in Michigan, of course, they have a ballot initiative, as well as a governor’s race. You have governor races in those other states. So, there’s much more of a – of a friction there, right, about the decision being determined by your vote this November that’s not as apparent in some of these blue states.
ED O’KEEFE: Yes. And the fact that they have to run into New York, Oregon, the president’s going to New Mexico this week.
AMY WALTER: Right.
ED O’KEEFE: It all speaks to the fact that perhaps they may have miscalculated how abortion would work in those states and how much money Republicans have to spend right now in the closing weeks to really put a bunch of Democrats on the ropes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Good to have all three of you here. Thank you very much.
And that’s going to do it for us here at FACE THE NATION today. Thank you for watching. And tune in next Tuesday, Election Day. I can’t believe that. Wow.
AMY WALTER: I can’t believe you just said that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And night, starting at 5:00 p.m. on our streaming network with a special edition of “Red and Blue.” And we’ll be on both the broadcasts and streaming networks starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time through the night and into the morning.
For FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.