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Top House Democrat Calls Out Extreme Left Wing of His Party; Texas Governor Announces Second Special Session of State Legislature; Allyson Felix Makes History in the Women's 400-Meter. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 6, 2021 - 10:30   ET

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


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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Female candidates are now a central part of the GOP's game plan heading into the 2022 midterms. House Republicans hope that female candidates will power the party back to a majority after a historic number of Republican women were already elected in the last cycle.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joins me now with this new reporting. I mean, Melanie, they've had a weakness among women. We certainly saw that in the national race, particularly among suburban women, those kind of issues. This is I imagine a way to counter that. How believable is it?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, this is a strategy that worked very well for them in 2020. They were really cribbing off the Democrat's 2018 playbook, and 11 out of the 15 seats that Republicans flipped last year were done with Republican women candidates. And so they're doubling down on that strategy. They're making a huge recruitment push and a huge effort to retain some of these women in these swing districts.

Now, that being said, it is going to be difficult because those women who did flip those seats are in some of the most competitive, most expensive, toughest races in the country. And Democrats are also making clear what their strategy is going to be. They're going to remind voters that Republicans kicked out their highest ranking woman, Liz Cheney, over her criticism of Trump. They're also going to try to yoke the entire party to Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the most controversial and loudest members of that freshman class.

So it's not going to necessarily be easy but they are going all in on this strategy.

SCIUTTO: But also as things move through courts in various state legislatures, restrictions on abortion.

ZANONA: Right. I mean, they feel like these women candidates can talk to voters and particularly in the suburbs where the battle for the House is going to play out in a way male candidates can't necessarily talk to voters in the same way. And so they are really banking on these candidates. They're having them elevated inside of the conference.

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They're using their bills for legislative procedural moves and so they are definitely going all in on that strategy.

SCIUTTO: We'll see how it stands. Melanie Zanona, thanks very much.

For Democrats, the ongoing conflict within the party between moderates and progressives, is sparking divisions as we head towards 2022. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, he's the fifth ranking Democrat in the House, told the New York Times, quote, the extreme left is obsessed with talking trash about mainstream Democrats on Twitter when the majority of the electorate constitute mainstream Democrats at the polls. In the post-Trump era, the anti-establish line of attack is lame.

Those comments come on the heels of moderate Shontel Brown beating well known progressive Nina Turner, that in a special congressional primary election in Ohio, also watching the New York mayor's race.

Joining me now to discuss, Errol Louis, a CNN Political Commentator, Political Anchor of Spectrum News New York 1. Errol, always good to have you on.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Hakeem Jeffries, he's taking sharp aim, right, at woke-ism. Politically, does he have a point?

LOUIS: Well, of course, he has a point. Hakeem Jeffries is not just fifth in line and rumored to be well on his way to becoming speaker if Democrats can hold the House, he was also, in 2016, in that Congress, he was the co-chair of the Democrat Policy and Communications Committee, the group that puts together the talking points, that angles of attack, the heart and soul of the Democratic congressional campaign, and they won 41 seats and control of the House in 2018.

So he knows what he is talking about. And I think to the extent that some of the more progressive wing of the party have, in fact, been sort of talking trash on Twitter and beating their chests and claiming that they're the future of the party, there is another side to that. And Hakeem Jeffries is saying, well, not so fast. We actually flipped seats. We actually won control of the Congress. We actually passed laws, and you guys have a couple of victories here and there but you're not going to be the future of the party necessarily.

SCIUTTO: So, 2022 is still a while off, but, hey, we're in Washington, so we start talking about this stuff early. We've had a couple of bellwether elections, one I mentioned there, Shontel Brown beating Nina Turner, but also if you look at the New York mayor's race, I mean, Eric Adams, a moderate beating out two other progressives in that race there. Is it safe to say that the more moderate wing, to some degrees, has the upper hand right now?

LOUIS: Well, yes, I guess you can put it that way. But let's keep in mind, what we call a moderate in New York City is pretty far-left everywhere else in the country. I mean, what is considered moderate is to change and reform the police department as opposed to defunding it. What we call moderate in New York is finding ways to house tens and tens of thousands of people as opposed to, you know, sort of doing nothing at all, which is what happens in a lot of the rest of the country. I mean, we have got a very, very progressive Democratic Party nationally and certainly in New York City.

SCIUTTO: You bring up defund the police, and I have not met a Democrat who thinks that is a helpful bumper sticker for the Democratic Party, right? In fact, many of them lament that even though a tiny minority actually support that, that is sort of a yoke that has been slung around their whole neck. But we see Missouri Democrat Cori Bush. I mean, she sparked a bit controversy after being called out for spending money on private security while still echoing the defund the police point here.

I want to play how she explained it and then get your response for how this factors into the broader debate. Have a listen.

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REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): I'm going to make sure I have security because I know I have had attempts on my life and I have too much work to do, there are too many people that need help right now for me to allow that. So if I end up spending $200,000, if I spend $10 more on it, you know what, I get to be here to do the work so suck it up.

And defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: I mean, I could see that last sentence there popping up in a thousand GOP House ads going forward. Damaging the party, in your view?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, that is exactly what is it going to happen. And Cori Bush is a freshman, may not quite understand. And this is I think the point that Hakeem Jeffries was trying to make, which is that if you hand lots and lots of talking points and footage to the opponents of those who are in swing districts, in areas where Republicans have a chance of taking back the seats, that is how you lose control of the House.

That puts all of the Democrats in the minority and that puts an end to all of the things that Cori Bush and others are talking about doing. You can't do it if you don't have a majority. You can't have a majority if you run around taking radical talking points and giving ammunition to the opponents of the party. It is really very simple. Jim Clyburn has said it a million times, Nancy Pelosi has said it a million times.

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It is painfully obvious. And, frankly, I would say, even if you went to into Cori Bush's district and ask people, find the highest crime neighborhood in her district and ask them, if they want to defund the police, I think she would find there's a different story and a different kind of sensibility out there.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I went into the one of the highest crime neighborhoods in New York with the police, asked that question, no one was talking about defunding the police.

Errol Louis, thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, a showdown between the Texas governor and Texas Democrats may not be over yet. The governor is set to call another special session, just as some Democrats planned on returning to the state. We're going to see where that all stands. We're going to be live next.

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SCIUTTO: This morning, the battle over voting rights is heating up again in Texas, as state Democrats fight to block a new restrictive voting bill there. Governor Greg Abbott has announced a second special session of the state legislature to begin tomorrow at noon, just hours after the initial special session ends tonight at 11:59 P.M.

Texas State House Democrats stalled any action on the bill by leaving the state, staying outside of it. They had planned to return. But with a second special session now scheduled, what do they do? Do they stay out of the state?

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins me now live from Austin, Texas. Dianne, how do they respond to this?

DIANNA GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Jim, at this point they are touting victory in the fact that they did stay out of the state for, at this point, 26 days and effectively killed that elections bill that had voting restrictions in it, House Bill 3, at least for the first special session. They also talk about the fact that they feel they've moved the needle in Washington, D.C. for federal voting rights protections.

But, look, the reality is that, in about an hour, the House is going to attempt to gavel in for the final day of this special session, they're not going to achieve a quorum and the question is whether they're going to get one at all for this second special session that begins tomorrow.

Now, I'm talking to Republicans here in Austin and they say they're pretty confident that at some point in this session, they're going to achieve that, saying they've been talking to some of their Democratic counterpoints in Washington, D.C. and that they feel that they will eventually return.

Now, today, the Democrats struck a confident and unified tone saying that they are together in this, that they feel like they have done at least what they initially came to do and many of them, when I've spoken to them independently, say that they plan to stay at least through the August recess.

Now, our colleague, Lauren Fox, reported that maybe there is something that is happening there in Washington, D.C., saying that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a Wednesday meeting, privately told members that they should expect some additional votes on voting rights before the Senate finishes ahead of that August recess.

But, again, Jim, the question is what will do that for Texas? The Republicans do have the votes here. And when I asked if they plan to change too much in those bills, they told me they feel like they have a good bill, one that they like and they don't plan to change much, just to make the Democrats come back.

SCIUTTO: Dianne Gallagher, we know you'll keep following it.

Less than three years after the birth of her daughter, American Allyson Felix made history on the track in Tokyo this morning. It was so good to watch. We're going to take you to Tokyo, live.

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SCIUTTO: If you missed this this morning, you really have got to find a way to watch it. American Sprinter Allyson Felix just ran into the record books at the Olympics. Coy Wire, again, with my most envied assignment in the world, in Tokyo with more on her history.

It was great to watch that race, ten golds -- sorry, ten medals, I should say, now for her.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Incredible. It was so inspiring. She is so inspiring, already a legend, she was. Six-time gold medalist, this is her fifth Olympic Games, Jim, but for the first time as a mother. She says her biggest goal is to be an inspiration to little girls around the world, including her daughter, Cammy.

Now taking bronze in the women's 400-meter, Allyson just cemented her status as the GOAT of women's track and field. 35 years old, as you said, Jim, her tenth career Olympic medal. Felix is the most decorated female track Olympic ever. Felix crossed the line in 49.46 seconds saving her season best for last.

Allyson's six golds, they were already among the most of any woman all-time on the track. She also already had three silvers and now this bronze. Congratulations to the best to ever do it, Allyson Felix.

U.S. women's basketball just dominated their semi-final game against Serbia. They will now play for a remarkable seventh straight gold medal. They have extended their Olympic win streak to a staggering 54 games, Jim. Brianna Stewart says that they wanted to just go out there have fun .Well, it showed.

Brittney Griner led with 15. Team USA was one gold at every Olympics dating back to 1996. They're going to play host nation Japan in final.

Team USA's April Ross and Alix Klineman are bringing beach volleyball gold back home. They beat Australia in straight sets. Ross won silver in London, bronze in Rio. But now, the 39-year-old finally gets her gold. She called it a fairy tale story.

Klineman told me here in Tokyo earlier, Jim, that victory is something that they visualized before every game, giving themselves the added boost of confident they need. Well, it worked.

Finally, his nickname is Captain America, but Team USA's Nathaniel Coleman looks more like Spiderman. Jim, look at the speed, look at the strength. It is incredible. He wins a silver medal in sport climbing, which made its Olympic debut here in Tokyo.

JIM, he said he would climb door frames, cupboards and his parent's fridge he was a kid, then he graduated to trees and playgrounds.

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Now, he's an Olympic medalist. Incredible.

SCIUTTO: It was fun to watch. By the way, I'm sure you could do those no-look passes, Coy, on the court that we saw on that. Can you? Can you do the no-look passes? We'll test it out.

WIRE: Yes, I can do them but they'll probably end up in the bleacher somewhere.

SCIUTTO: Yes, a fan gets a memento. Anyway, Coy Wire in Tokyo, thanks very much.

WIRE: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan will start right after a short break.

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