'This Week' Transcript 11-8-20: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Chris Coons, Gov. Kristi Noem and Sen. Roy Blunt

This is a rush transcript of "This Week," airing Sunday November 8.

ByABC News
November 08, 2020, 10:03 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 8, 2020 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.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Biden defeats Trump.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT ELECT: The people of this nation have spoken.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president-elect reaches out.

BIDEN: I'll work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did. Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: His first promise.

BIDEN: I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify. Who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Kamala Harris makes history.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT ELECT: The generations of women, Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation's history have paved the way for this moment tonight.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Shattering the glass ceiling.

HARRIS: While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The campaign ends with celebrations and protests across America.

(Crowd Chanting)

As President Trump confronts defeat, the president-elect prepares to lead. Grappling with a raging pandemic, a faltering economy, a nation divided by race, region and politics.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, this is a special edition of "This Week, Your Voice, Your Vote 2020.” Here now, Chief Anchor, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week." The week America chose to end the Trump presidency.

After four years of division and tumult, assaults on truth and treasured institutions, voters turned out in record numbers to turn the page. Replacing a reality TV star raised in wealth with a career politician from the working class.

In his first speech as president-elect a forceful Joe Biden delivered a soothing message, it's time to heal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple times myself, but now let's give each other a chance.

It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again and to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: As we come on the air this morning President Trump is raging against the results with false statements on Twitter. His team vowing to overturn them with legal challenges that have little prospect of success.

The votes are still being counted across the country and Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote is over 4 million and climbing. He's ahead in enough states to eventually match the 306 electoral votes won by Trump in 2016.

This morning we look back at the lessons of this election, look ahead to the challenges now facing Joe Biden and the country he will lead.

We begin with our Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl, Rachel Scott in Wilmington with President-Elect Biden.

And, Rachel, let me begin with you. The Biden transition plans to hit the ground tomorrow.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George, it is going to be a busy stretch. Just 73 days until the inauguration and we know that before this race was even called that Biden’s transition team was already working quietly behind the scenes.

They've assembled these review teams to start working with the federal agencies so that he can hit the ground running and we also know that here in Wilmington they are having those discussions about who is going to be in those critical positions inside of the West Wing and the administration.

This is a seismic shift in American politics and the makeup of this next administration will look dramatically different from the current one. Biden has already pledged to have the most diverse cabinet in American history and he has already said what his priorities are, coming out on stage yesterday saying he's going to start with that Coronavirus Task Force assembling the team of scientists and experts that he believes will help slow the spread of the virus, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Rachel, he's already preparing a list of executive actions, executive orders that he plans to enact on day one.

SCOTT: Yes, George. And a lot of this has to do with the Senate. We do not know what the control of the Senate is going to be. If Republicans are going to hang on so that -- we know his team is already having these conversations about what he can do on his own through executive actions, but Biden has already made clear what he would like to do on day one.

He would like to rejoin the World Health Organization. He would like to repeal the Muslim ban. He would like to reinstate DACA. George, again, just dramatically different from the current administration.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel Scott, thanks very much.

Let's bring in Jon Karl right now. Jon Karl, the president back on Twitter this morning in denial.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George, the president is angry and defiant, banging out all caps tweets claiming that he won the election, making false claims of massive voter fraud. He has not called to congratulate Biden. He certainly hasn't delivered a concession speech or even begun thinking about writing a concession speech. In fact, he's pursuing lawsuits that he hopes that somehow overturn the election without any legal basis.

But, George, here's the thing. Virtually everybody in the president's inner circle, his true closest advisers, including his family members, are fully aware that this is over. There have been conversation, conversations that I am told include the first lady, about how to convince him to make something of a graceful exit, how to go to him and talk to him about the movement he has built about his role in the Republican Party, about the way he can be a kingmaker in 2022, 2024 and maybe even run again, and how if he doesn't leave in the right way, he could jeopardize all of that.

But, George, if the president -- and everybody fully expects him to eventually make this concession speech, it won't be a concession speech like any we have seen. He won't concede that he lost. What I would expect him to do is to effectively concede that the election was stolen from him and have a long list of grievances about the way they tried to deprive him of his presidency.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which of course is not a concession at all.

In the meantime, there’s actually real practical impact on the transition until the General Services Administration acknowledges the victory of Joe Biden there's no funding for the transition.

KARL: And that is being held up as of right now. I have to tell you, though, I’m told to expect that in the coming days that the president will commit to a peaceful transfer of power even as he is making these claims that the presidency has been stolen from him. So those around him expect that those funds will be freed up before long.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And any sense of what else we can expect in this lame duck session between now and January 20th? Of course, you got a big COVID relief package potentially on the table that couldn't get negotiated before the election. The president has all the powers of the presidency until January 20th.

KARL: You have 73 days, George, and I am told to expect that we are likely to see firings.

He’s mused about firing Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary, Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, of course, he joked -- maybe joked, maybe not -- about what he would do with Anthony Fauci and the Coronavirus Task Force. So lots of questions there.

I would expect you would also see a series of pardons but you do have that big thing hanging over the presidency, hanging over the country, and that is the pandemic. Entirely unclear of the path ahead for the president on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, thanks very much.

Let's bring this all to the roundtable. Right now I'm joined by Rahm Emanuel, Yvette Simpson, Chris Christie, here in the studio, also Matthew Dowd in Austin, Texas, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota this morning. Thank you all for joining us.

Rahm let me begin with you. It took a while to get to the final result. Not that -- four or five days. What's the big message from this election?

RAHM EMANUEL, (D) FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think a couple things at least on the presidential level. Style is the substance. In the sense that this was very much what Biden said not only about my character versus the president but the character of the country and the country was -- and I kind of think back on Grant Park in 2008, that was jubilation. This is catharsis, in a sense that this is a relief from this darkness of attack and kind of pitting.

I think Americans were exhausted by the constant pitting against us and they want Washington a little distant from their lives, go back to your work, get our lives -- we're going to get our lives in order, which is why so many people were focused on the pandemic and the economy and a sense of being able to get back to some level of normalcy.

I do think also the vice president is a bit of a restoration to that normalcy but he has to be transformative and he has to walk both sides of that sidewalk together. So I think that in this many -- there are many issues.

But if you look at the five states that flipped from 2016 to now, there is a lot of similarities and, in the end of the day, Joe Biden, even though he was ridiculed in the primary in certain places (ph), the breadth of his coalition, that is how he has to govern and that -- he has to be authentic to that breadth. And that is who he is as a character that people felt comfortable with him with this responsibility.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, President Trump won 71 million votes at least. In the end though it still was a referendum on him.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes, I think -- you know, George, you heard me speaking since the summer that he couldn't win a referendum; not in the middle of a pandemic, not in the middle of an economic recession that was caused by the pandemic and in the midst of real racial issues in our country. You can't win a referendum in that respect.

The referendum winners are people like Bill Clinton in '96 and, you know, Ronald Reagan in 1984 where there's not a lot of argument that the country is moving in the right direction, the good direction.

But the message of the election too is a mixed message which I think from listening to the vice president last night, he hears.

You know, Republicans added to the House. We don't know how yet but at least five, maybe more. Governorship flipped. State legislatures flipped towards Republicans, and more likely than not a Republican Senate.

So that's even reinforces more your premise which I adopt that it was a referendum election at the presidential level. But it was not a rejection of Republican policies across the country because if it was, there would have been the wave that Rahm talked about beforehand rather than the undertow I talked about before.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Yvette Simpson, the control of the Senate, of course, depends on these two special elections on Georgia on January 5th.

This election also culmination on the Democratic side of four years of activism.

YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. And I think we need to continue that.

You know, I think this is a great time for the Democratic Party to hit the reset button. Like let's go back to our roots, organizing is our foundation, remember the big wave of '08 that came from a strong organizing foundation built by Barack Obama.

Let's continue to build on that. Let’s talk to our voters consistently. Let's as a president-elect said last night, let's make real the promises that we have made to the base of the party who has been with us, who showed up through a pandemic.

Let's make sure that we recognize that before we go out and start, you know, trying to build this huge coalition. Let's show the folks who showed up that we love them and let's continue to stay consistent.

I do want to push back a little bit on the flip situation. We won a lot of seats last cycle and Republicans got some of those back, but I do believe in places where we were true to our mission we won. For instance, the progressives who were in swing seats all won. But the moderates who were in swing seats didn't.

And I think part of that is we didn't make our message clear enough. Go with what you know. Go with talking about serving real people. You can do that in moderate districts and it doesn't have to feel extreme.

It just says, “I’m here for you and I represent you.” That is the foundation of the people's house, the representative form of government. Let's continue to reinforce those.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, what were the people saying?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the people were saying, I’m tired of the chaos. I want calm. I really don't want to hear from the president every single day about every single thing.

I think -- a year and a half ago, somebody asked me, what the slogan should be for a candidate running against Donald Trump. And I said, make America boring again.

I think the country just doesn't want to hear -- if I were Joe Biden, I would stand up on the first day in office and say, guess what, you're not going to hear me from me on weeks on end because I’m going to be in the Oval Office and you’re not going to have to worry about me.

One thing I’ll say, though, George, is yesterday was a good day for Irish Catholics. Joe Biden is an Irish Catholic, but even as importantly, Notre Dame beat Clemson last night, the number one team in the country.

(LAUGHTER)

DOWD: So I mean, I think we're a divided country. I think people want calm and decency and character. I don't think people are satisfied with either of the two political parties. On Election Day, they got a lot of votes but people weren't satisfied with either political party on Election Day.

And so, I think we're going to go back. I think it's actually a good moment because in order to get something done, people are going to have to cooperate and compromise and that's what most Americans want. They want cooperation and they want compromise and to get the job done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Heidi, the president-elect said last night it's a mandate for cooperation.

HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR: -- happen (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Heidi?

HEITKAMP: Hi.

You know, I want to push back a little bit on this idea that moderates didn't win. You know, I think that it's pretty easy when you look at the districts when you're a progressive running in New York City. It's really easy to win elections as a Democrat.

It’s not so easy in states like mine and the most important thing we can do is identify successes. Early successes that all Democrats could agree on, whether that is curbing the cost of prescription drugs which the president tried to take as his own.

It is -- it's going to be really tricky but I think for Joe Biden, yes, he needs to have the right rhetoric. But he needs to have victories for working people in this country to establish that base and solidify that base for the next two years and hopefully four years.

SIMPSON: Progressives in swing states won. Progressives who ran on actual issues in swing states won. And so, we're not talking about folks in New York. We're talking about people would just flipped these red seats like Katie Porter, like Mike Levin, seats that we never had before.

They won overwhelmingly and what I’m saying is that we just -- what I’m saying is no matter where we are -- and I think we agree on this, Heidi. No matter where we are, let's talk to the issues. Let's not run away from them. And I think there was this expectation, because Trump was such a vitriol character that we could win by just saying Trump is bad. And what I'm saying is, serve the people in your district and find out what they need and we can deliver that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ECONOMIST: But I think --

SIMPSON: The real fear I have, George, is 2022 is right around the coordinator. DFA (ph) got our first application for a candidate running for U.S. Senate yesterday for 2022. 2024 is around the corner. We're going to need our (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't -- I don't -- I'm not sure anybody's ready to hear that --

SIMPSON: It's scary. It does. It's right around the corner. And I know that we're going to be seeing maybe some presidential candidates for 2024 maybe starting to talk soon. And what I'm saying is, let's not wait. Let's have that conversation now and let's organize. Let's build. Let's build our message, because we're going to need our base to win.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think what you're -- I think what you're showing (ph), you listen to Heidi, you listen to Yvette, Rahm, is the difficulty Joe Biden is going to have both unifying the Democratic Party while reaching out to Republican.

RAHM EMANUEL, (D) FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes and no. I actually think if you go back to the campaign, he did actually a very, very good job of keeping everybody inside. And I -- the -- actually the truth is, the progressive wing of the party was less ideological and more pragmatic that we had an overarching goal.

I also think, let me draw back, this is -- let me -- we're -- Joe Biden's a progressive. He said it. But there's a lesson to be learned when (ph) Jeremy Corbyn (ph) lost in England and Joe Biden won here in the United States, that you can make -- the first step in progressive politics being enacted is winning and elected. You can -- and I agree with Yvette about organizing, but organizing not just with -- it's either my way or not, being very -- and they were progressive. They -- and when Joe Biden said in the debates, I beat Bernie Sanders. You didn't see Bernie Sanders yell or scream. He understood the singular goal is, a, beating Trump, b, making down payments on progressive policies. They may be more incremental than some like. But, nonetheless, go there.

And I do think Joe Biden, if he doesn't stay true to the coalition who elected him, and if you're not authentic in today's politics, whatever you want to say about Donald Trump, and I don't like what he did to America, what -- the reason his people showed up is they thought he was authentic. And if you can't -- if you can't be authentic, fake it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, you said that Joe Biden had the right words last night speaking out to the Trump supporters. How does he follow through on that? And then the flipside of that question is, are Republicans ready to work with him? I mean it's kind of stunning that you haven't seen him congratulated by more Republicans. The Republican leader of the Senate has not acknowledged his victory. I think you've only had Senator Murkowski and Romney so far knowledge the victory.

Will he have a willing partner in Republicans?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of, just so that people who watch us often think that at times Matt Dowd and I don't agree on anything, here -- here we're getting together. I'll show you mine. Here's my mask this morning. So Matt and I are on the same page this morning, even though we don't often agree on some other things.

Listen, I think it's going to be issue by issue, George, in terms of whether Republican also work with Democrats and vice versa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But don't they have to start by acknowledging his victory?

CHRISTIE: Well, you know, of course they do and they're -- and, you know, listen, this was a very contentious election. You have the president sitting in the White House not acknowledging it. And I think there's lots of Republicans who are trying to feel their way around that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Still afraid of him.

CHRISTIE: That's why to me -- that's why to me I think it was so important early on to say to the president, if your base is for not conceding is that there was voter fraud then show us. Show us.

EMANUEL: (INAUDIBLE) _-

CHRISTIE: Because if you can't show us, we can't do this. We can't back you blindly without evidence. And that's why I said what I said on Wednesday morning and on Thursday night. And I'm hoping that more Republicans move in the direction of saying, not that we don't support the president, he's been a friend of mine for 20 year, but friendship doesn't mean that you're blind. Friendship means that you will listen to somebody, give them their opportunity, and if they don't come forward with the -- with the proof, then it's time to move on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd.

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I -- I think if -- that the two political parties had a -- both a successful night and a huge amount of warning signs on -- on Tuesday night. Turnout was amazing. There was huge support of each political party. They had a higher share of their own political party's support than ever before. But there's a ton of warning signs for each political party. And I think they need to look at themselves and introspect on themselves. You have a Republican Party who dominates now among rural areas and small towns and ex-urban areas and does really well now among the white working class of America, which used to be the Democratic base. But the Republican Party is -- has lost urban areas, is losing suburban areas, is not -- it's not building enough on -- on people of color and the Democrats, on the other hand, as I say opposite of that, they're doing very well in urban and suburban areas, but they've lost a huge swath of the country.

And when you look at the election results, Joe Biden had a very big, huge victory. But along the way there was a ton of mixed results for both political parties. So if they sit there and point the finger at the other side and say, "No, it's their fault, it's their fault, it's their fault" -- and I'm not saying there's equal blame on both sides at all. I think President Trump, as you know my feelings about all that, I think he took the country in a direction both just emotionally and psychically in a bad direction that I think the country didn't agree with, and that's why he lost.

But I think the two political parties need to look at their own tribe first and say, "What is it that we're not doing? Because we're not appealing to huge parts of the country that caused the division within the country."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Heidi Heitkamp, can the -- can the president-elect reach out to your state, North Dakota, reach out to that broad swath in the middle of the country that has gone deep red?

HEITKAMP: I'm going to give you a proof point to where -- what Matt's just saying. Sixty-five percent of the people in North Dakota think climate change is a problem. We're a big fossil state. We're a conservative state. But yet they see climate change is a problem.

They get concerned when they see radical ideas being introduced to completely upend the energy system because that creates angst in their mind, both economically and in terms of cost of energy.

There is a place that you can go in solving these problems that speaks to all sides and does not radicalize important issues in this country. We saw that with the pandemic, which was incredible, how masks got radicalized and politicized. We need to stop doing that and we need to come together, and both sides have to address the concerns that the other side has on solutions for this country.

You know, the unity that we have is really unity about what the problems are. It's bringing together solutions that can bring everybody together so that we can walk together and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we have to start...

HEITKAMP: ... solve America's problems.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we have to start out by bringing you and Yvette together.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMPSON: Yeah, well, she just said "radical" three times. You just called the base of the Democratic Party progressives radical. That is not -- I mean, that's a Republican talking point. Progressives want everyone to breathe clean air, even people in North and South Dakota. We want everyone to have health care, even people in rural areas and even people in working-class white America. We want everyone to have a chance at the American dream.

We're not saying -- we're not saying leave people out. We're saying bring people in. But if parts of our party, when we bring home the bacon as we did just yesterday, call us "radical" like Republicans did, that's not the starting place of a good family conversation.

EMANUEL: One level -- one level set there -- one level set is Bill Clinton's budget in 1993, which is an economic plan, Barack Obama's health care bill, got over the top by two senators, different senators, from Nebraska.

You got to be able to, as Matt and others have -- you've got to be able to run in places and win in unexpected. That's number one. And, number two, you said to George early on, "lessons." Red state Florida, they voted for Trump -- and I hate saying this "red state" -- voted for Trump but voted for an increase in the minimum wage.

And Illinois, where I'm from, voted for Joe Biden and against a progressive income tax. California, a very blue state, voted against workers' rights for gig employee.

SIMPSON: That was an awful initiative, though, OK, the way it was written.

EMANUEL: OK, but, Yvette, the point is life is complicated, and to get the threads here, you're going to have to have policies that actually bring votes rather than push those votes away.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we're -- we're just about out of time. Chris, I have to ask you a final question. What's it going to take for President Trump to acknowledge what happened here, accept defeat, leave gracefully?

CHRISTIE: I don't know. But what I will tell you is that I'm -- I'm overjoyed by this conversation...

(LAUGHTER)

... because, for Republicans, it's what I've been saying for weeks.

SIMPSON: That didn't work out for you this last time, though.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Let me finish, Yvette...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMPSON: I'm just saying.

CHRISTIE: It worked out just fine for us.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, what I want to see going forward is for people to acknowledge that this is -- I don't think this is a party problem. Candidates matter, George. This was not a party problem four years ago for the Republicans to win in the suburbs. Donald Trump won the suburbs because he was running against a candidate who couldn't win. And this time Joe Biden won the suburbs because he was running against a candidate that the suburbs rejected.

Candidates are what matters. The parties follow the candidates. Joe Biden himself said it, "I am the Democratic Party," OK.

So let's not make this a big party thing. It's not. It is who do you nominate, and how do they present themselves and what kind of campaign do they run and who are they? And the candidate wins and loses, not the party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to have to be the last word today. Great roundtable. Thank you all very much.

Up next, the man who holds Joe Biden's old Senate seat, Chris Coons, plus Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. They both join us live. -

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BIDEN: Refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate then we can decide to cooperate. And I believe that this is part of the mandate given to us from the American people, they want us to cooperate in their interests. And that's the choice I’ll make.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President-elect Biden in Wilmington last night.

We’re joined by two men now who he wants to cooperate, the senator from Delaware Chris Coons, he holds Joe Biden’s old Senate seat; Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri.

And Senator Coons, let me begin with you. You just heard president-elect Biden talk about that mandate for cooperation. Put some meat on those bones.

What's the first piece of legislation? Can the president get what he wants from a closely divided Senate? You just heard Rahm, Yvette and Heidi out there talking -- you see the difficulties of unifying the Democratic Party as well.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE: Well, George, thanks for a chance to be on.

It was an electric night last night and the joy that I saw both here in Wilmington and across the country reflects the optimism that we will be able to come together and deliver the relief that the American people need and deserve from this pandemic. I think that Joe Biden as president-elect -- and forgive me, it still makes me smile just to say that -- that Joe is going to be able to pull together leaders in Congress to deliver the relief that we need and deserve and one way that President Trump can show some graciousness in the next 73 days during the transition is to publicly support a significant pandemic relief bill.

We've had record new cases all this past week. It's past time for us to come together and deliver the relief the American people are waiting for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you concerned at all that if a smaller package is passed during the lame duck session, it would make it more difficult to pass the kind of bold package that President-elect Biden would like to pass once he is president?

COONS: Well, frankly, the only way we're going to pass a big or bold package either in the transition period or in the coming year is with bipartisan support.

So I expect that we'll hear from Vice President-elect Harris and from President-elect Biden outreach to Republican Senate leaders, as well as to members of the House and Senate, governors, and to the administration, I don't think that passing something that is strong now undermines the opportunity to pass something broader.

We frankly don't know where this pandemic is going right now, but it's not going in a good direction. Joe will be announcing his pandemic response plan and team in more detail tomorrow, because he's getting ready to act as president on January 20th.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How critical are those Georgia runoffs too enacting the Biden agenda?

COONS: Well, there's four different Senate races that are not yet called and as you pointed out there's two runoffs in early January. And all eyes will be on those seats because they'll determine control of the Senate.

But I’ll remind you that Joe Biden just won a commanding majority across the country in the Electoral College. If we'd seen all of those states come in on one night at the same time, we'd be remarking on how all over the country from states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, to states that Democrats haven't won in decades like Georgia and Arizona, Joe Biden won 75 million votes in the popular vote and he's got, I think, a mandate to bring us together and move us forward.

I think the American people have chosen unity over division and hope over fear, and that gives me optimism about what we can do in the months ahead.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been mentioned as a possible secretary of state in a Biden administration. Are you interested, number one? And can the president-elect afford to -- in a closely divided Senate -- have senators join his cabinet and face the possibility at least of special elections in the future?

COONS: Well, I was just re-elected to the Senate from Delaware and very much look forward to serving the people of Delaware, hopefully by delivering some progress towards bipartisanship on a Harris/Biden agenda.

But if asked, I'd be honored to serve. Joe is someone who’s long been a leader in foreign policy. I’ve served on the Foreign Relations Committee a decade, and there's a lot of hard work to do to re-engage with the world and restore our place of leadership on the world stage.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your GOP colleague from Missouri, Roy Blunt, is up next.

What's your message to him and other Republicans who still haven't acknowledged the president-elect's victory?

COONS: Well, I thought former Governor Christie's message in your roundtable was an important one. If Republicans are going to support President Trump in his resistance to accepting the outcome of the election, the president needs to show some facts, not just angry tweets.

Senator Blunt and I have worked well together on a wide range of issues, from national service to behavioral health. He is someone, although a strong and committed conservative, knows how to work across the aisle and deliver results for his state and for our country. I’m hopeful we can rekindle that spirit of working across the aisle in the coming Congress.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Coons, thanks very much.

Let's bring in Senator Blunt right now.

Senator Blunt, thanks for joining us this morning.

You just heard Senator Coons. What's your response?

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): Well, Chris is right. We worked on a lot of things, from victims of child abuse, to behavioral health, to national service. We’re going to continue to find ways to work together.

One of the great things about the Senate and the Senate rules which I think if we maintain the majority will continue to be the same is you have to reach across the aisle. You have to find in almost every Senate somebody on the other side to get things done. That's a good thing. Senators are inclined to do that.

And, you know, where we are now, I think, George, is kind of like that movie "Analyze This" where the key phrase was, it's a process.

There’s a process here that we need to go through. I think both Vice President Biden and President Trump benefit from that process working its way totally through the process.

You know, actually, the media can project, but the media doesn't get to decide who the winner is. There is a canvassing process. That needs to happen. I said on Friday, I thought it was time for the president to turn this discussion over to his lawyers, time for the lawyers to make the case that they have, both in court and to the American people, and then we're going to have to deal with those facts as they're presented. That has to happen and then we move forward.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: But, Senator -- let -- let me -- let me -- let me stop you right there. Senator --

BLUNT: I know the press -- the -- let me -- let me just say one other thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator -- OK.

BLUNT: Let me say one other thing.

Go ahead.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Murkowski and Senator Romney have both --

BLUNT: Well, let me say one thing --

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, go ahead. Say your peace and then I'll -- I'll respond with my next question.

BLUNT: Well, they -- they certainly have the right to do whatever they want to do. I think this is a time when the extra five days or so to get the process finished to actually let the states look at the challenges in their state, you know, this is a close election. This is closer than anybody thought. If you're the president and you look at the press projecting something, almost nothing the press projected in this election turned out to be right. There was no blue wave. If there is a mandate, the mandate is we don't want -- we want people to work together. There weren't great losses of Republican candidates because of President Trump, nor did President Trump get a threshing. He actually in -- with Hispanic voters, with black voters, with voters that nobody expected to come to him, but they did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator, let's -- let's talk about the -- let's talk about the facts. Let's talk about the facts right now.

I mean Senator Murkowski and Senator Romney have both acknowledged the victory, congratulated President-elect Biden. The president-elect is up by 10,000 votes in Georgia, almost 20,000 in Arizona, 27,000 in Nevada, 37,000 and climbing in Pennsylvania, far more in the other states.

You're a former secretary of state. I've spoke with secretary of states, Democrat and Republican state officials over the last several days, they've said they've seen no widespread evidence of any kind of fraud at all.

Joe Biden has won this election. Why can't you acknowledge it?

BLUNT: Well, what I said on Friday and what Chris Christie said just a few minutes ago on this show is, it's time for the president's lawyers to present the facts and then it's time for those facts to speak for themselves.

It's going to be much easier to work toward the kind of transition we want, look at the inauguration, which I'm going to have the honor of chairing again this time, and bringing the country together. If everybody feels like we went through a process and everybody was heard, every legal vote was counted, every illegal vote was challenged and not counted, we come to a conclusion, I think that happens pretty quickly. Almost every state within seven to ten days of the election goes through that entire canvas. There are always some changes. Seems unlikely that any changes could be big enough to make a difference. But this is a close election and we need to acknowledge that.

I -- I read twice in -- in reports this morning the Democrats -- the Democrat blue wall has returned. The blue wall of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. The blue wall is at best a blue speed bump now. This is a competitive country. There is a message to whoever the next president is to work together. I look forward to the president dealing with this however he needs to deal with it. I thought Vice President Biden did a great job last night talking about where the country wants to head. And one way to do that is to finish this election the way it deserves to be finished.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're chairman of the rules committee right now, in chief of the inauguration, as you said. Are we going to have anything like a normal inauguration given the pandemic?

BLUNT: No, we're going to decide. You know, we're planning for a normal inauguration. The six-person committee, three senators, three House members, that I chair, we're moving forward, anticipating an outside, full-scale inauguration that's easier to scale back than to scale up and we're going to be talking to people this week about that very topic and hope that the person who's sworn in on inaugural day sees it as a great day, even though it happens at the Capitol, is up to the Congress to decide.

The president-elect is our guest that day. And, once again, I think we're going to project to the world that democracy works, that this country where -- with the president's efforts and other efforts incredible energy in this election produced a result and that this is a great time for us to show how a true democracy works. And hopefully we'll -- I'm confident we're going to see that. I expect to see both Vice President Biden and President Trump on the stages on Inaugural Day. And that will be a powerful message no matter which one of them is sworn in that day.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Blunt, thanks for your time this morning.

Up next, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: As you can see the figures there, and with 93 percent of the precincts, and, oh, just as we're talking about it, we have a projection. Joseph Biden, 29 years of age, a Democrat, according to our ABC decision desk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Youngest senator elected then, oldest president now. Governors Andrew Cuomo and Kristi Noem are up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BIDEN: Our work begins with getting COVID under control, we cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life's most precious moments, hugging our grandchildren, our children, our birthdays, weddings, graduations, all the moments that matter most to us until we get it under control.

I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment to turn around this pandemic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're joined by two governors on the frontlines, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

Governor Cuomo, let me begin with you. Thanks for joining us this morning. What is the national strategy on COVID you want to hear from president-elect Biden right now?

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: Thanks. Good to be with you, George.

Look, we're coming up to the worst two months, I think, that we may have seen vis-a-vis COVID. You see the numbers going crazy all (ph) across this country, all across the globe, the scientists said this was going to happen. And you're seeing it in the fall with the cold coming back and we're going to have a long two months.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration doesn't take office until January 20th. I know this was the election, but that's a long two months. And then after the fall resurgence, this administration is now starting to implement the vaccination plan. That's going to be very important and that's probably the largest test we've had since COVID started.

The vaccination plan is a huge undertaking; 330 million people have to be vaccinated. This nation only did 120 million COVID tests in seven months. If this administration rolls out a flawed vaccination plan it's going to be a problem because it's going to be very hard for the Biden administration to turn it back.

But I think you'll see a different tone now. I think you'll even see some governors start to take a different tone now that Mr. Trump is out of office. I think the political pressure of denying COVID is gone. I think you'll see scientists speak with unmuzzled voice now. And I think the numbers are going to go up and Americans are going to get how serious this is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is your read of the mandate of this election? When you pore over the results from across the country -- we’ve had discussion about that this morning -- what’s your read on that?

GOV. CUOMO: Look, I think it's right what some of your earlier guests said. There's a message for both parties in all of this. But I think the overwhelming message was the country (ph) -- it was about President Trump. And the country rejected the negativity, the personality, the controversy.

He did everything he could, George, to divide the nation, right? He disunited the states of America.

And Joe Biden is the exact opposite. You heard him speak from his heart last night. That's who he is. He is an authentic person.

He's about finding commonality which is an affirmative effort, you know? We are different in this country and we can very easily faction our lives, and that's what Trump played on, divide and conquer -- religious issues, racial issues, the gun issue, the abortion issue, the immigration issue. It was all about dividing America.

You'll see Joe Biden is going to be all about that affirmative effort to find the commonality, that core that connects. I think that's what it was about.

I think there was also a general disdain for Washington when people's lives are under real stress and they're having real challenges, they're pointing fingers in Washington and if there was ever a time in history not to do it, now was the time.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: The president-elect is going to have to unify Democrats. He’s also going to have to work with Republicans.

Governor Kristi Noem is coming up next. What’s your message to her and other Republicans who, so far, have not acknowledged and heard Senator Blunt earlier, President-elect Biden's victory?

CUOMO: Look, I think it's a mistake. I think if -- first of all, it is the exact disunity that was just rejected, right? Now you're going to stretch to find some legal case and further deteriorate trust in the democratic institution of this nation.

If these election results came in on one night, George, it would be called a blow-out. That would be the headline, right? Four million popular votes, states no one thought that Joe Biden was going to win. The votes that Trump was counting on, the military votes, et cetera, never materialized. It would be a blowout.

Stop the rancor. Stop the fighting. We have real problem, let's move on together.

And I think you'll see -- this year, I’m chairman of the National Governors Association. I think you'll see Republican governors who were cowered by Trump's philosophy to deny COVID. Don't take tests because if you take tests, then you'll find cases, the scientists couldn't speak up, his own health officials were muzzled, I think -- I think that day is over.

And I think you'll see this COVID rebound putting forth a stark reality to governors all across the nation because it's going to be the states that denied COVID that are now going to be paying the highest price.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Cuomo, thanks for your time this morning.

Let's bring in Governor Kristi Noem right now.

You just heard Governor Cuomo right there.

Governor Noem, thanks for joining us this morning.

COVID is rising in your state as well. Cases are up, hospitalizations are up. Deaths are up.

Are you prepared to work with President-elect Biden to get it under control?

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, it is a regional increase that we're seeing. We are testing more.

And, frankly, George, I’m not going to take advice from Governor Cuomo. He has the second worst death rate per 100,000 people in this nation. He's at 173 deaths per 100,000 per capita. South Dakota is at 54.

I appreciated that President Trump gave us the flexibility to do the right thing in our state and will continue to do that. He let me do my job.

But the other thing that I think is going on here, George, is that this is all premature this. This is a premature conversation because we have not finished counting votes. There are states that have not been called and back in 2000, Al Gore was given his day in court.

We should give President Trump his day in court. Let the process unfold because, George, we live in a republic.

We are a government that gets its power from the consent of the governed. That is the people. They give their consent on Election Day.

Election Day needs to be fair, honest and transparent and we need to be sure that we had an honest election before we decide who gets to the White House the next four years.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Noem, do you have any evidence it wasn't an honest election? You had a tweet earlier this week saying it was rigged. Do you have any evidence at all of widespread fraud?

I’ve spoken with Republican secretaries of state in Georgia, in Arizona. I’ve spoken with Republican officials across the country. They have come up with zero evidence of widespread fraud.

NOEM: And that is not true. That is absolutely not true.

People have signed legal documents, affidavits stating that they saw illegal activities. And that is why we need to have this conversation in court.

"The New York Times" itself said that there were clerical errors.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: No widespread fraud, Governor. That's very different.

NOEM: If you look at what happened in Michigan, that we had computer glitches that changed Republican votes to Democrat votes. You look in Pennsylvania, dead people voted in Pennsylvania.

So, George, I don't know how widespread it is. I don't know if it will change the outcome of the election. But why is everybody so scared just to have a fair election and find out?

We gave Al Gore 37 days to runs the process before we decided who was going to be president. Why would we not afford the 70.6 million Americans that voted for President Trump the same consideration.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor --

NOEM: If Joe Biden --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Noem --

NOEM: If Joe Biden really wants to unify this country, he would wait and make sure that we can prove we had a fair election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Noem, Al Gore was behind by about 500 votes in one state, Florida. Joe Biden is ahead in all the close states by multiple --

NOEM: And look at how many more moving parts we have today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ten -- ten -- 10,000 votes in Georgia, 27,000 votes in Nevada. Almost 20,000 votes in Arizona. More than 30,000 votes in Pennsylvania. That is not close. That is not within the margin that -- that elections are usually turned around on.

NOEM: And many, many more states are in play this time around. And that's what I think is interesting is this declaration from some individuals saying it was an overwhelming victory for Joe Biden. It simply wasn't because you have so many of these states that are still in play.

All I'm asking for, George, is that we don't break this country. When you break the process on which we elect our leaders, you will break America forever.

So this isn't just about this election. This is about every election in the future. And the fact that the American people, the everyday people who get up and work hard, that are suffering through this pandemic, that have tragically lost family members, that they need to know at least -- at least America still functions and we care about doing things right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It starts with providing evidence. You still have not provided it, but I'm afraid we're out of time today.

Governor Noem, thanks for your time.

NOEM: Let the -- let the process work and we will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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."

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