A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 13, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST (voiceover): Breaking news, Democrats keep the Senate.
CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This election is a victory, a victory and a vindication for Democrats.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it’s a reflection of the quality of our candidates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The House too close to call. Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker in peril.
UNKNOWN MALE: There absolutely will be a challenge to Kevin McCarthy’s leadership bid.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Republicans blame Donald Trump.
UNKNOWN MALE: I think Trump's kind of a drag on our ticket.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hail a rising star.
GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R-FL): We will never ever surrender to the woke mob, Florida is where woke goes to die.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As President Biden vows to work with the GOP.
BIDEN: And I'm prepared to work with Republicans, but the American people made it clear, they expect Republicans to work with me as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll cover it all this morning with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican Governor Chris Sununu, and our Powerhouse Roundtable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's “This Week.” Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Good morning, and welcome to “This Week.”
Five days after the election, votes are still being counted but a few things are clear -- Democrats defied history with Catherine Cortez Masto’s victory in Nevada last night, they keep control of the Senate, President Biden on track for the Party's best first-term performance since JFK.
Republicans are reeling, the red wave emphatically denied, even if they take the House, the majority will be tenuous. Who will be Speaker of the House is anyone's guess.
America's voters rejected radical change, repudiated election lies, and delivered a stunning rebuke to Donald Trump. In the words of Dan Balz, the dean of American Political Reporters, this election was an incremental earthquake.
We'll analyze it all this morning.
Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott starts us off. Good morning, Rachel.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George, good morning.
And this is far from the red wave that Republicans were hoping for in a year where the president's party faced low approval ratings and record-high inflation. Democrats with some unexpected and decisive wins in a consequential midterm election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT (voiceover): After five days of waiting, Democrats triumphant, holding their Senate majority, outperforming expectations and defying history. In Nevada, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto fending off Trump-endorsed Adam Laxalt. The last batch of mail-in ballots handing Cortez Masto her win.
UNKNOWN MALE: There was no red wave, Democrats had a blue wave of accomplishment.
SCOTT: Democrats at 50 Senate seats after two other key victories, flipping Pennsylvania’s Senate seat blue with John Fetterman and keeping Mark Kelly in Arizona. Georgia headed to a run-off election. The House of Representatives still up for grabs for both parties, without a clear outcome, President Biden promising to work across the aisle but that will be a challenge with the potentially divided Congress.
BIDEN: In this election season, the American people made it clear, they don't want every day going forward to be a constant political battle.
SCOTT: Biden faces a tough road if Democrats lose the House. Republicans are already planning to investigate his administration, even his family, and halt his domestic agenda.
BIDEN: I have a pen that can veto.
SCOTT: And the Republican Party now facing a reckoning after at least 30 of President Trump’s handpicked candidates lost.
UNKNOWN MALE: I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket.
SCOTT: His influence on the Party, a worry some Republicans shared months before Election Day.
MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.
SCOTT: President Biden last night saying that's exactly what led Democrats to victory.
BIDEN: I think it's a reflection of the quality of our candidates.
SCOTT: Former President Donald Trump is still expected to announce his candidacy for 2024 this week. A potential competitor Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who had a decisive win on Tuesday.
UNKNOWN MALE: He will almost certainly become the rallying point for everybody in the Republican Party who wants to move beyond President Trump.
SCOTT: In the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is already announcing his bid for speaker. He will need almost every Republican vote to win and he's already facing a threat from the MAGA faction.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s team firing back, saying the minority leader is still the minority leader and he shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch, signaling Democrats are still in the fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: The president acknowledged it will be a stretch for Democrats to hang onto the House. If Republicans do win, it will be by a narrow majority that Kevin McCarthy or any Republican leader, frankly, could struggle to manage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel Scott, thanks very much.
Let's bring in the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, thank you for joining us this morning. Congratulations on the outcome on Tuesday. I know there’s still a lot of votes to be counted and anyway (ph) we have a lot of news to get to.
But before we get to that, I just wanted to ask, how is your husband, Paul, doing?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, thank you for asking and good morning.
He’s one good day after another, he's improving. It will take a little while. But we've been so comforted by the outpouring of so many prayers and good wishes and even people saying, “I wasn't going to vote but now I’m going to vote because this has gone too far.” But thank you so much for asking. I'll convey that to him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Please do.
You know, we last spoke in September. You were confident then that the Democrats would do well, kind of a lonely voice at that time, given high inflation and President Biden’s low approval ratings. How did Democrats do it?
PELOSI: Well, first of all, thank you for acknowledging that we had a different approach. It was not anything that we ever accepted when the pundits in Washington said we couldn't win because history, history, history. Elections are about the future.
I’m very proud of our candidates, both our incumbents as well as our red to blue candidates. They never accepted the punditry that they couldn’t win, they had courage, they had purpose, and they understood their district.
They also rejected calls from Washington about, oh, your message should change. No, our message was clear -- people over politics, lower cost, bigger paychecks, safer communities. And they knew the value of a woman's right to choose, they knew how important it was to protect our democracy, they knew the contrast between themselves and their opponents and that is what made them win.
It wasn’t about Washington said you should change your message, Washington says you can't win. I hope that's a lesson, because really it depresses the vote sometimes when people say “it's all over” 18 months before the election. We never accepted that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now the road to keeping the Democratic majority is still quite narrow. Democrats have to run the table on the toss-up races still out there to keep control of the House. Do you see a realistic path to victory?
PELOSI: Well, let me just say that is a quite different path than everyone predicted. And I give tribute, of course, to our candidates, I also give credit to our grassroots. This -- there are VIPs, our volunteers in politics, millions of doors knocked, millions of doors knocked.
So they crossed a threshold. They leapfrogged over all the projections -- the predictions and the rest. Whatever the outcome, we're on the path to taking our country to a better place than with being dragged down by the other side.
So we'll see. I’m disappointed with what happened in New York, that four votes could make the difference at the end of the day. But we haven't -- we haven’t given up and we haven't given up because the quality of our candidates, the purpose of our why, why this is important, and President Biden did a great job presenting about our democracy being on the ballot.
President Obama making sure people understood it was important for them to vote even though there were those who were saying it’s all over at 16 -- 18 months ago. So it took a great deal to get to where we are and we'll just see.
I said before, and you've heard me say on our walk in the park, it’s like the Olympics, in a half a second you can be a gold, silver, bronze, or honored to be an Olympian. They would be all very close races. They continue to be.
But, again, we're very proud of the outcome and we’re very proud because it was a victory for the people, not the punditry, but for the people, as well as the success in Nevada is a personal joy for some of us because of Harry Reid. But politically so important for the country.
The president, we have the White House, we have the Senate, and we're going to have a big strong vote in the House, a very different outcome than some would have predicted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Democrats keep the majority, will you run again for speaker?
PELOSI: I'm not -- right now, I’m not making any comments until this election is finished and we have a little more time to go. I wish it --
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about --
PELOSI: -- would be faster, but it isn’t.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's going to take some time to count those votes in California, I know.
How about on the other side? Your Republican counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, it looks like even if Republicans do prevail, we’re going to be talking about 219, 220, maybe 221 votes in the House.
Can he govern with that kind of a majority?
PELOSI: Well, it depends on their purpose. In our House, we had that kind of -- those kinds of numbers. But we were united -- we were very united in terms of being there for the -- America’s working families, that dominated our discussion -- although we have our differences of opinion on certain issues, when it came down to the main purpose of the Democrats, America’s working families, there was no question that we would win every vote that we would took to the floor.
And this new -- the new members coming in, again, a constant reinvigoration of the Congress that our founders intended. They are so diverse generationally, geographically, opinion, ethnically, gender -- gender ID. It is -- it's going to be a wonderful class. They will be speaking so clearly to it.
We have one of the youngest members, Congressman-to-be Frost, coming in, and it is -- it's pretty exciting for us.
So, it's not just about what the ultimate vote is. It’s about what the message and purpose will be demonstrated to the American people. And, again, it's about our democracy, our democracy was on the ballot, our planet was on the ballot. Personal freedom was on the ballot.
These three issues very important to young voters and they were very important in our success in this election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Whatever the outcome, you said this week, quote, we need to unify, I think it's really important to restore unity to Congress.
PELOSI: To the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the Democrats’ responsibility there? What steps do Democrats need to take to bring the country together?
PELOSI: Well, we have always been taking that step because we honor our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that should be a unifying principle for us.
The -- when many of our bills, we worked very hard to make it bipartisan, bipartisan, bipartisan. And while the bills were bipartisan, the votes were not.
So again, I go back to Abraham Lincoln. Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing.
And the point I want to make is, when the public knows what is at stake and what's happening there, I think we'll see more cooperation, again, working together to produce a bill, but not having people vote no, take the dough, and make it look like we don't have bipartisanship, when, in fact, in the bills we do, but in the votes, not necessarily. Let the public know.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before the new Congress is sworn in in January, you have a lot of work in what would be a lame-duck session in December. Probably at the top of that list, extending the debt limit because Republicans have said, if they get the majority, they're going to try to force concessions from Democrats in order to extend the debt limit.
Dow you believe you can get a permanent or a very large extension of the debt limit during the lame duck session?
PELOSI: Well, I think it would be very important for us to do so. I think it’s important to note that what the Republicans have said is they're going to use the vote on the debt limit as leverage to cut Medicare and Social Security. I think the public should know that. It is a difference of opinion and I think the public should know who's on their side on all of this.
We cannot allow them to cut Social Security. It's an insurance program, as is Medicare. People paid into it and the Republicans cannot use it as leverage to say, we'll only lift the debt ceiling if you will reduce the benefits for our seniors and others on Medicare and Social Security.
So, we'll see what they contend that they want to do. But our best shot I think is to do it -- to do it now. But again, winning the Senate gave us a lot of leverage for how we go forward if we don't do it in the lame duck. But my hope would be that we could get it done in the lame duck.
The Constitution removes all doubt. The full faith and credit of the United States of America shouldn’t -- is not in doubt. But this is a practice that we have engaged in. And so, we'll have to, again, lift the debt ceiling so the full faith and credit of the United States is respected.
There's great risk to even discussing not doing it. When the Republicans did this before, it lowered our credit rating. It lowered our credit rating -- even though it didn't eventually happen, but just the discussion of it.
So this is -- this is dealing with fire when we're talking about the stability of our credit rating.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In the face of all this news, we see that Donald Trump is planning to announce for president again on Tuesday. Is that good news for Democrats?
PELOSI: I don't go into any discussion of his plans. I mean, I think it’s bad news for the country, let’s put it that way, because this is a person who has undermined the integrity of our elections, has not honored his oath of office, who has encouraged people, strange kind of people to run for office, who do not share the values of our democracy. They've said it very clearly in their statements.
So he's not been a force for good. So, I don't think his candidacy is a force for good for our country.
But that's up to the Republicans decide -- to decide who they will vote -- choose. Understand this, we have very vast differences. Republicans do not support science, so they disregard what we're saying about climate. They don't support governance, so they don't want to honor what science tells us in terms of the planet, in terms of – of health care and the rest. So, we have some very big differences.
There’s -- the main event of it all is the presidential. As important as our races are, if we were in Las Vegas, we’re the lounge act, they’re -- the presidential is the main event and this will be a very important election, very (INAUDIBLE) of the direction our country will go in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So – so do you think President Biden should run again?
PELOSI: Yes, I do. I mean President Biden has been a great president for our country. He has accomplished so much. Ten million job – over 10 million jobs under his leadership. Working with the private sector, of course. He has just done so many things that are so great. We need a lot more show to tell it. But he's put money in people's pockets, vaccines in their arms, children back to school, people back to work, for starters, creating 10 million jobs. He has made America independent by passing the chips bill that says we're no longer reliant on those who would withhold products that enable us to manufacturer in our country.
The IRA -- I just saw him make the speech in Egypt where he spoke about America's commitment to preserving the planet with the -- legislation, the IRA, $368 billion in good-paying green jobs, clean air, clean water for our children, national security issue to stop migrations and competition for habitat and – and – and food, as well as honoring our responsibility to future generations.
The Pact Act, honoring our – our – our veterans, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, all of it with justice, with equity, with inclusiveness, with diversity, taking us to a new place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally –
PELOSI: He has been a great president and he has a great record to run on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Madam Speaker, if you do decide to step away from Congress, how do you want your speakerships to be remember?
PELOSI: Well, I don't have any plans to step away from Congress. I don’t – you asked me about running for leadership. No, I mean, these votes are very close, though.
The – well, my – my flagship issue has -- from the start of my -- being in Congress has been the climate issue. But in the course of things we – when we had the opportunity to expand health care for all Americans, that has to be my major accomplishment. I take great pride in that. Great pride in passing it under the leadership of President Obama and working with Harry Reid in the Senate. I take great pride in saving it from those who wanted to repeal it. For what reason? I don’t know. You'd have to ask them. To remove millions of people from having access to health care.
That – president -- Martin Luther King said, of all the inequalities -- the inequity in access to health care is the most inhuman, he said, because people can die. So I – I thank God for giving me the opportunity to play a role in that. And it's an ongoing role to pass it, to protect it, to expand it. So that would be my – STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam –
PELOSI: But I take pride in so much else. But I don't take credit for it. My members, the courage of the members, the House Democrats, to vote for this -- it's easy for me coming from the beautiful place that I do, San Francisco, harder for others. And it's their courage that made so much of this possible. So, I'm so glad that we had a great -- we increased -- just dispelled the notion that Democrats could not win. We're coming close. But we're on a path to a brighter future for America. And I'm very proud of our members, our candidates, their courage and their purpose and their success.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.
PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Republican Governor Chris Sununu is next.
Plus, our powerhouse roundtable.
We're back in 60 seconds.
(UNKNOWN): Tonight, win or lose, the results for Republicans, how much of that will be because of Donald Trump?
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: Well, I think, if they win, I should get all the credit. And if they lose, I should not be blamed at all.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: President Trump had to insert himself, and that changed the nature of the race. And that created just too much of an obstacle.
All over the country...
TOOMEY: There's a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lots of debate about Donald Trump inside Republican ranks. Right now, we're joined now by the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.
Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. You know, you cruised to a 15-point victory on Tuesday, yet your Republican Senate candidate, Don Bolduc, lost by almost 10 points. How do you explain that?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, again, I think we've been talking a lot about it this week. Candidate quality matters. You know, there's a chance of extremism that I think a lot of Republicans were painted with, rightfully or not. You know, when you have a product, you can't let the other side define you, right? And that's what -- what campaigns are. It's a product of good ideas and what you want to bring to the table. And, ultimately, I think the Democrats did a very good job of defining a lot of these candidates before they even had a chance to introduce themselves.
And the, obviously, you have all this other national stuff happening that, I think, scared a lot of folks, this extremism that's out there. And that's what this was. This was just a rejection of that extremism. I don't think anyone likes the policies out of D.C. No one likes paying, you know, six bucks for a gallon of heating oil, especially with winter coming.
But what I think people said was, "Look, we can work on these policies later, but as Americans we've got to fix extremism right now." And I think that's exactly what you saw.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, congratulations on your victory. By extremism, do you mean the politics espoused by Donald Trump?
SUNUNU: Well, that's just -- no, you know, I know the media likes to do the pro- and anti-Trump stuff. It's not just about Donald Trump, right? There's a whole stream of things out there that can be deemed extreme, on one side and the other. I think there's an extreme left and an extreme right. In this sense, I think a lot of folks were really focused -- are saying, "Look, it's not about payback; it's about solving problems," right? And there was talk like that. It's not about, you know, nationalizing abortion bans and all this kind of stuff.
There was talk like that. That just scared people. And, you know, the horrible -- the attack on Mr. Pelosi and -- I mean, those types of things got people's, you know, angst up, and they said, "Look, enough of this. We have to start putting in folks that are definitely going to come together and work across the aisle."
You know, if you go -- and it's not new, right? Let's go back to the 2020 election. Joe Biden was the most moderate of all the candidates running on the Democrat side. He was deemed the most moderate of both he and Donald Trump. So America has been asking for more moderation for quite some time. There's just, you know, certain parts of the Republican Party that haven't listened so well. We've just got to get back to basics. It's not unfixable. We've just got to get back to basics.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of those issues is getting back to basics and perhaps looking to the future, one of the things we saw across the country is governors who denied the election results in 2020, secretary of state candidates who denied the election results of 2020, lost this time around.
Does the Republican Party have to put away that election denialism once and for all?
SUNUNU: Well, I think we had to do that back in -- like, on November 10th of 2020. I mean, that's just...
SUNUNU: We should have been moving on from that stuff immediately. So, clearly, it is not a good strategy. It's nothing that works. Sure, it taps into an extreme base and a fire that's there with some folks, but at the end of the day, you can't govern if you don't win. And all that matters is winning in November. And so a lot of these candidates, I think, forgot that. I think they went way too far right in some of their primaries. I think they let the media; they let the other side define them.
Let's not forget, Democrats put millions behind Don Bolduc's campaign. Republican extremist Don Bolduc, here in New Hampshire, Democrats put money in his campaign in the primary -- think about that for a second -- to make sure that he got through. And he made it by about 1,000 votes through that primary. So I -- you know, I think that's a complete manipulation of the process, to be sure, but there was a lot of work on that side to define these candidates, to make sure they were the ones they were running against. And they were successful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of Republicans think that you all would have won that Senate seat had you chosen to run. Any regrets?
SUNUNU: No, because I -- no, I love being governor. Look, with all due respect, the Senate’s the B-team compared to being a governor. I mean, it’s just not even a question. Look, I get to be the CEO, I get to design systems, I get to implement policy, I get to challenge myself to engage with constituents, find their problems and fight those barriers.
Congress has a very important purpose, do not get me wrong, but they approve of a policy, they approve of some funding and they kind of go on to the next thing. I'm an engineer, I want to design systems, create better solutions, governors, mayors, those of us that are on the ground at the local level, which is why local politics, not Washington politics, local politics, local solutions really work best. I love being a part of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you say the media loves to talk about Donald Trump and perhaps that's fair, but it's not just the media, it’s Donald Trump himself and he's planning to announce for president on Tuesday. Is that a good idea?
SUNUNU: For him, no. I think it's a terrible idea for him. I was -- look, from just a purely political standpoint, we still don't know what's going to happen in Georgia, the votes are still being counted in Nevada and Arizona, by the way --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, Nevada and Arizona went Democrat --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nevada --
SUNUNU: -- the governor's race is undecided.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, I see. Yes.
SUNUNU: -- in Arizona is still undecided -- yes, only about 80 percent or 90 percent in so we’ll see where that goes. But look, people want to move away from politics as you hit Thanksgiving, as you hit Christmas, as we’re spending time with families as we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to fill our oil tanks with all these high fuel prices.
So, now's just a horrible time for big political statements, save that for early 2023 would be my message. But either way it doesn’t really matter. It’s going to be great for the media, “Saturday Night Live” will probably love it, but for the rest of us, we’re going to focus on spending time with our families and kind of taking a breath in the quiet of a nonpolitical world.
Let's get back to ad nauseam car commercials and pharmaceutical commercials because that’s the -- because the negative political ads have all just driven us crazy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, those pay my salary. But can you see any circumstance --
SUNUNU: (Inaudible) --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- by which you would support Donald Trump in 2024?
SUNUNU: Look, I think there’s just -- not really, because I think there's going to be a lot of great candidates out there. I’m excited to see who runs for president on both sides. I don't think Joe Biden is running. I think it’s going to be a wide open race on the Republican side. I think everybody who wants to get in is going to get in.
That's a good thing. That’s a great thing. You see new ideas that are going to be out there as kind of the referee of the first in the nation primary here in New Hampshire. I take that -- a lot of responsibility, we have a lot of fun with it to be sure but we also hold them to a whole different standard than the rest of the country. You got to come and -- we got to buy into you as a person, right? We got to look you in the eye and buy into you as an individual before we even touch policy here. And that’s why grassroots retail politics, constitution service, connection with the individual really does matter in a place like New Hampshire. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said referee, you’d be the front-runner in New Hampshire if you decided to run for president.
SUNUNU: Well, maybe, I suppose. I don't know. You know, a lot of folks are talking about that, but, look, I've got a state to run, unlike Congress I don't get vacation. It’s a 24/7 job, 3645. Unlike Congress, I have to balance a budget in the next couple of months. Unlike Congress, I just have a lot of demands on me and I love that. It’s a hard job but, man, it is so fulfilling when you get stuff done.
So I guess that leading by example and given where New Hampshire is, we've been very successful in a lot of areas, I got to make sure we continue to lead by example so when folks come in here, they know there is a whole new standard of accountability in terms of what you're going to deliver as a public servant.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Sununu, thanks for joining us this morning.
SUNUNU: Thank you, buddy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Nate Silver looks at Georgia’s runoff.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Tonight, with the victories in Arizona and Nevada, Democrats will remain the majority party in the Senate and I will remain majority leader. It's a great night. It's great night for Democrats. It’s a great night for our candidates who won, and it's great night for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Victory lap for Chuck Schumer right there.
One final Senate contest remains in Georgia. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker will face off. And if Warnock wins, it will be the first time no Senate incumbent has lost since 1914.
Here’s how FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver handicaps the race.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: We don’t have a FiveThirtyEight forecast here but there are betting markets, they do, and they say there's 70 percent chance that Warnock keeps his seat. Here’s what I think they’re seeing.
Warnock did a little better than Republican Herschel Walker in the first round of voting by 49.4 percent to 48.5 percent. That’s only 1 percentage point, but in a state like Georgia, you’d rather than not.
Then there's the Brian Kemp factor. The governor defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams by more than 7 percentage points. That may have helped drive reluctant Republicans out of the polls for Walker, but Kemp won’t be on the ballot next month.
One more factor helping Warnock is history repeating itself. In 2020, there was also a Senate runoff on the ballot in Georgia, in fact, there were two of them. And in those runoffs, Warnock and his fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff gained ground. Ossoff trailed Senator David Perdue in the first round of voting, but he and Warnock won the runoff.
That may have been because of Donald Trump who was trying to get the election overturned in Georgia. Well, guess what? Trump is back in the spotlight. He may announce a 2024 run as soon as next.
There are some things working in Walker’s favor. Libertarian Chase Oliver got 2.1 percent of the vote in the first voting, and libertarian voters can be conservative. He won’t be on the ballot in the runoff.
With that said, exit polls of Oliver voters found that a majority thought Walker's view were too extreme. So, I’m going to buy this one. I think it’s anybody's race but I’m going with the bookies here and I do think Warnock is the favorite.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is up next.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lots to talk about here on the roundtable.
We’re joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, our chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl, whose book “Betrayal” comes out in paperback this week, and Michelle Cottle, a member of “The New York Times’ editorial board.
Welcome to all of you.
Chris, let’s get right into it. We were talking Wednesday morning. You said Republicans would still have a good night if they kept control of the Senate, kept control of the House. The Senate’s gone. The House is going to be, what, 219, 220, 221. How do you explain it?
CHRISTIE: Well, look, I think the way you explain it is that there are a number of factors that got Democrats more fired up than people thought and that the polls demonstrated. And also we nominated some bad candidates, especially on the Senate side. But that’s something we've been talking about since the summer. And people thought, well, maybe the overall atmosphere of the poor performance of the economy, crime issue and others would overwhelm that. And that’s what I thought would happen and it didn’t.
But also I think whether you're at 218, 219 or 220, they don't give out a small, medium or large gavel, they just give out the gavel. And Kevin McCarthy will get it. That means he’ll control the committees. He’ll control who the chairman are. and that will be a good thing for Republicans to control that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wasn't going to get to that yet, but since we’re there already, let’s go to that.
Jon Karl, I'm not sure I agree with it, the gavel is not always the same. I mean there’s no alternative right now, but at 219, 220, or 221, very hard for Kevin McCarthy to govern.
KARL: Yes, two points. First of all, McCarthy, it’s not -- is not a lock on the speaker anymore. A three, four or five seat majority. There are, by my count, at least eight to ten Republicans who are adamant that they will not support Kevin McCarthy for speaker.
That said, there is no alternative right now. But, remember, you need 218 votes to be elected speaker of the House, and he does not have that. This is going to be a long, brutal process when they come together and make that vote.
Secondly, in terms of governing, governing with a three, four or five seat majority is – is much different. If Kevin McCarthy gets it, he is going to be constantly looking over his back and he’s going to be pushed in the exact opposite direction that the party needs to go based on the lessons of these – of these midterms. He’s going to – he’s going to have to appease the Trumpiest of the Trump loyalists in the House, the Freedom Caucus, because they can hold his speakership hostage at any time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The big news, of course, Democrats keep the Senate.
DONNA BRAZILE FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, George, LSU beat Arkansas, so that’s two weeks in a row I can celebrate college football. But, more importantly, seeing that last night, seeing Chuck Schumer before I went to bed, I never thought I would be so happy to see Chuck Schumer when he announced at the Democratic –
CHRISTIE: Yes, I'm worried about that about you. You need to turn the channel or something, OK.
BRAZILE: No, no, no, this was a great victory. And he -- and Chuck Schumer was absolutely right. Harry Reid -- Harry Reid put this – this – this seat in play back in 2016 and it was Harry Reid and his spirit that, I think, carried Democrats to victory.
That being said -- let me just say this. I want to first say, election workers, to all of those men and women, the volunteers who got out there on Tuesday, thank God we had a very relatively peaceful night. For Democrats, we had significant headwinds. The red tsunami was – was real but Democrats were able to go out there and beat the tide. Beat the tide with good candidates, good quality candidates, good ground game. And Democrats proved that you can walk and chew game. Yes, the economy is always important, but freedom was on the ballot and you saw that in Kentucky, you saw that in (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Also, I want to bring this to Michelle Cottle what I talked about with Chris Sununu, election deniers losing all across the country. One of your columnists at “The New York Times” had a line, David Brooks, saying, the fever has broken. Has it?
MICHELLE COTTLE, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: I certainly hope so. Beyond any kind of partisan breakdown, what made me really nervous this election was, up and down the ballot, you know, we talk about the Senate; we talk about the House, but what was really on the line here are all these secretary of state races, A.G. races, where -- governors' races, where they had election deniers like Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania. And think, for now, Kari Lake out of Arizona is one of the -- I think, maybe, the only major one still undecided.
But Jim Marchant lost his secretary of state race. Mark Finchem lost. Mastriano in Pennsylvania. I think it was a very good day for American democracy in that way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, you were one of the original deniers of the election deniers...
... going back to election night on 2020. Is it -- is it possible now that the rest of your party goes in that direction?
CHRISTIE: Well, not the whole rest of the party, George. I mean, Donald Trump has convinced a percentage of our party that the election in 2020 was stolen. I don't think that's going to change any time soon. But what I think has happened is, and what you saw in the elections, were two things. One, there were a lot of Republicans who did not vote for those election deniers because, if they had, they would have won. Secondly...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And independents almost certainly...
CHRISTIE: And that's my next point. Independents are sending a very clear message to the Republican Party, "If you're going to go for the Trump-style stuff, in terms of the rhetoric, in terms of the conduct, those kind of things, and certainly the election denying, we're not going to vote for you."
This is the first time that a party that's held the White House has won independents in 20 years. And the message for that is Trump is dragging the party down. I said this, I think, on election night, although we were here until 2:30 in the morning...
... so I don't remember what the hell I said on election night.
But -- but he said we were going to do so much winning that we would ask him to stop winning. Well, in 2018 we lost the House. In 2020 we lost the Senate. In 2021 we lost two Senate seats in Georgia that we should have won. And in 2022 we performed under historic norms for what was going on in this country and for being the party out of power. That's a lot of losing. And I think what Republicans came to grips with Tuesday night was we're tired of losing and we're tired of Donald Trump dragging us to lose because of his personal vanities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm surprised he's not calling me right now after hearing that speech, but in the face of...
CHRISTIE: Don't worry, (inaudible) on the way home, I'm sure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In face of all that, he is going announce Tuesday.
KARL: He -- well, I mean, his people say on the record he's going to announce on Tuesday. We'll believe it when he actually says it. But in terms of those election deniers, the one place where they are still really strong is the House of Representatives, the Republicans in the House, overwhelming people that voted to reject Joe Biden's electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and Elise Stefanik, who will be in the Republican leadership, not challenging McCarthy yet for speaker. But she came out immediately after the midterms and said that she was endorsing Donald Trump for president, even before he's announced his presidential campaign.
So we'll see how this plays out. And -- and, look, Trump is going to demand loyalty. He's going to demand those who he supported who won to support him. He's also demanding of Kevin McCarthy -- and this will be very interesting. Does Kevin McCarthy come forward and do what Elise Stefanik has done and said, "Yes, Donald Trump..."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that going to be price of -- of getting...
KARL: Is that going to be the price -- because McCarthy, again, needs to get those Republicans who are right now saying they absolutely -- and there's only a handful of them; it's not a large group, but it's enough to deny him the speakership. Is he going to -- is the price of that going to be supporting Donald Trump for president?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, am I right in thinking that Joe Biden is more likely to run again for president if Donald Trump is the nominee, or really contending for the nomination, rather than if Donald Trump, kind of, announces and then founders?
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, the president will have at least two or three months to decide. He doesn't have to decide this next week or even next month. He can get through the lame duck session. He can get through the opening of the 118th Congress. In fact, he could get through Black History Month before he decides. There are 723 days before the November 5th, 2024 election.
That said, let me just say why the president has a little bit of pep in his step. Democrats took -- has Michigan; Democrats won Wisconsin; Democrats won Pennsylvania; and Democrats managed to flip both the state legislative chambers in Michigan and a number of other states. So I think he has some pep in his step. He has time to plan and prepare if he decides to run.
But as you well know, if he decides that, based on what Trump decides or not decides, if the president decides that he wants to, you know, call it quits after 2024, fine. Democrats have a long bench ready to take up the slack.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Michelle Cottle, Chris Sununu said this was a vote against extremism across the country. The country’s still very deeply but very closely divided. And voters now, at least two elections in a row are saying, we want stability.
MICHELLE COTTLE, NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: And I think that was the Republicans' big problem this race is they couldn't provide the comfort and certainty and kind of reassurance that voters were looking for so going forward it will be interesting to see.
But I’m with Donna, he has time to decide. I don't think that -- I do think that Trump running might change the equation a little bit and he would feel compelled to run but, obviously, I don't know. But as far as the outcome of the midterms impacting it, he could just as easily decide he’s proved all he needs to prove and he can call it a day if he wants to.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think Donna made a really interesting point that Republicans need to think about, Michigan, Wisconsin --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pennsylvania --
CHRISTIE: -- Pennsylvania. There is no scenario under which Republicans can win the presidency in 2024 and lose all three of those states. They just can't, the electoral math don't work. And those candidates lost in my view, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, because they were seen as unstable, Trumplike candidates in all three of those states and the governors’ races.
And so we've got an assessment to make, are we the party of me or the party of us? Are we going to be the party of Donald Trump, whatever is good for me is good for all of you, whether you think it is or it isn’t, or are we going to be the party to try to represents the rest of the country? And that's the huge decision that has to be made the next two years and the presidential process will help to decide that and some other things as well.
And one thing going back to McCarthy and governing, you know, when -- he's only going to have one House, if they have the House of Representatives, Senate’s with the Democrats, you're playing defense then. It's different then if they had won the Senate and wanted to put legislation together they were going to push --
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're not --
CHRISTIE: -- (inaudible).
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- going to advance legislation anyway.
CHRISTIE: Right, so my point is that's why 218, 19, 20, 21 is less important because all they're really going to be doing is stopping the Biden agenda. Now, they can advance their own agenda because Schumer won’t advance their agenda in the Senate, now their job is to play defense and stop Biden from doing some of things that they disagree with.
That’s why I think it doesn’t matter as much, George. Maybe I wasn’t clear about that my first comment. It is, in this instance, there's not a small, medium or large gavel. Kevin McCarthy, to his credit, four years ago they were in the minority, they had lost in 2018 in a -- on a wipeout, and four years later he's going to bring back them to the majority predominantly through his efforts and his leadership. So I think he deserves some credit for and I think he’s now going to be on defenses as the speaker.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, I want to look ahead to December 6th, this runoff in Georgia. Does the fact that the Democrats have already retained the Senate, who does that work for? Does it work for or against Raphael Warnock?
BRAZILE: I think it works for Senator Warnock for several reasons. One, I think voters now have a clear understanding since it's not about who controls the Senate, it’s about what kind of agenda do you -- you would like to pursue. And I think Warnock has been able to show that he can get independents, he can get young people who really helped Democrats across the board on Tuesday night, and he will be able to get the vote of women voters.
So I think it will help Warnock.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that is probably right. But Jon Karl, I guess, the counterargument would be, one of the things that voters keep on saying is, we want a check, we always to pushback against whoever gets too much power.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, it certainly -- it’s going to drive, I would suggest, you know, turnout down probably for both candidates because less is at stake. I mean, when everything rides on that seat, that’s a big motivator. Certainly would have been a big motivator for Republicans to get behind Walker, a candidate that most will acknowledge is a flawed candidate.
I don't know how it's going play out but it's, you know, it's going to be less of the do or die election than we thought it would be.
CHRISTIE: George, I think one of the things that is important that happened this week was, we got Herschel Walker did not support Brian Kemp in the primary, and people were wondering after Kemp's big win -- decisive win on Tuesday night, what would he do in the race. He has announced that he's turning over his entire ground operation to the Walker campaign and to Mitch McConnell.
And that's going to be important and Kemp, I think, will be a visible figure over the next four weeks campaigning for Walker, which he would not during the fall campaign. Now I don't know whether that’s because Kemp didn’t want to or because Walker didn’t want him, or both. But they now both need each other.
Kemp wants to show he is the real leader of the Republican Party in Georgia and Walker needs to make up that gap that he had on election night in -- last Tuesday.
KARL: And the other big question is, does Trump show up down there? I mean, one thing --
CHRISTIE: Not if Kemp --
KARL: -- was to keep him out during the general election --
CHRISTIE: -- state troopers at every --
CHRISTIE: -- making sure Trump doesn’t land.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll see about Trump, we know for sure there are going to be millions and millions and millions of dollars spent in the state of Georgia over the next few weeks.
COTTLE: Absolutely. I actually don't think the American public's nervous system could have handled if the race was on the line for control of the Senate in Georgia this time around.
I am super relieved and I think it’s 100 percent -- Jon is 100 percent right that the pressure is off. So like Kemp did this, put his ground game in their control when he thought that there was still a chance that the Senate was on the line.
People are going to be tired of politics. I’m tired of politics at this point, and this is my job. So I do think that it will have depressed the turnout and just kind of fade.
CHRISTIE: It's a leadership moment for Kemp, George. He’ll still put it in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We will be watching. That is the last word. Thank you all very much.
Up next, we look ahead to this week's final episode of "Power Trip." We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I am honored by your support and I look forward to the road ahead.
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): You are all the reason that we are successful.
JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR-ELECT: We bet on the people of Pennsylvania and you didn't let us down.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: It looks like the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot of election speeches there. The final episode of “Power Trip” airs today on Hulu. Here's a first look at our team of young reporters covering the final stretch of the midterms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things are getting crazy. Correspondents are coming to town. Everybody wants our feeds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the days are blurring together. All the events are burring together.
PAULINA TAM, EMBED REPORTER: It's a strange experience, but it’s a very humbling experience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Ohio, JD Vance.
TAM: I'm now looking forward to seeing my loved ones again. Can't wait to see them, hold them, hug them.
HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: It is time for the (INAUDIBLE) for America. And they're talking about a runoff. And I'm like, runoff? Runoff? Are you talking about a runoff? No, we're winning this. We're winning this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walker remained confident in his ability to win tomorrow saying there would be no need for a runoff.
My last rally note. Send.
It was a long day. And a long night. And it will be even longer day and longer night tomorrow. But this is the exciting part. This is part where all the work that you've done for months and months is actually put to the test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course Election Day means Americans across the country go to the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eva Pilgrim is here. She reported in Philadelphia for years. So, she knows the state. She knows the politics. I've learned a lot of things just from her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When are they going to come to –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they just – if someone starts reporting (INAUDIBLE) on set, it’s just, oh, boom. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so you’ve got to be ready.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, yes. So, if I hear Pennsylvania, then I’ll stand up by (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, at any moment I could have a minute to like get an answer down to Eva and Chris. That's a little stressful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: “Power Trip” streams later today on Hulu.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and I’ll see you tomorrow on "GMA."