In case you missed ’em—here’s what the newsmakers said on the Sunday morning talk shows.
Talk Beyond the Issues Ahead of Election Day
Both parties were playing it safe, it seemed, sending out a lot of the same politicos as last week on the final Sunday morning before Election Day.
And many of the top issues—like inflation and the economy, crime and education—were discussed. But the election itself—its integrity and security—seemed to be an even hotter topic.
RNC Chair: Do Not Intimidate Voters or Poll Watchers
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel appeared on CNN’s State of the Union.
Noting several recent instances of voter interference or intimidation, like “right wing activists with guns and video cameras at drop boxes” in Arizona, anchor Dana Bash asked, “What’s your message to people intimidating voters?”
McDaniel’s response was flat-out, “Do not break the law. Do not attack or intimidate people who are trying to vote.”
She further stressed this includes people who might intimidate legally placed poll watchers at balloting places, of which she said the RNC had received reports. “That’s an important part of our democracy,” she stated. “Both sides, Democrat and Republican, should be able to meaningfully observe so that we can go out and say, ‘Listen, we saw it and it went well.'”
“There’s a culture of contempt in this country,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on ABC’s This Week. “Something has gone wrong in our country where rising political violence, rising threats are really threatening who we are as a people. And I hope as people go to the polls, they elect folks that want to unite us, not divide us. They want to bring people together to focus on our common cause, not really be about contempt and anger.”
2020 Deniers “Will Accept” 2022 Results–Eventually
This midterm, a majority of Republican candidates for the House, Senate and key statewide offices—291 out of a total 569—have denied or questioned the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election.
Bash asked McDaniel for a “simple yes or no” answer: should Republican candidates accept election results?
McDaniel replied that “we are going to pursue problems,” and brought up Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams, who challenged the 2018 election she lost to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R).
“You should have a recount, you should have a canvas, and it will go to the courts. One should be able to address that,” said McDaniel. “In the end, once all their avenues are exhausted they will accept the results.”
On FOX News Sunday, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, had choicer words for election deniers.
“This was the cleanest election in the history of the country. Donald Trump’s own appointees said it was the cleanest in the history of the country,” Clyburn said of 2020. “So if they are lying, they are denying. They are trying to delete, they are trying to nullify votes. Vote against that foolishness.”
Social Media’s Layoffs, Bots & Trolls
Elon Musk, the new CEO of the social media site Twitter, laid off thousands of employees last week including workers who combat election misinformation.
However, Chris Krebs, former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), noted on CBS’ Face the Nation that conversations Musk is having with civil rights groups and advertisers may indicate that the site is “a little bit more stable” than its current public impression would suggest.
“And I think if you look at the platform itself right now, not a whole lot has changed,” Krebs added. “That may not be a popular opinion, but I think the reality is you haven’t seen too much of a change in the moderation.”
What he was more concerned about was what would happen Monday when Musk started charging $8 a month for Twitter’s “blue check.” It’s a symbol given to the verified accounts of public figures, like politicians, celebrities and journalists so their identities can’t be falsely assumed by random users.
“To have such a dramatic shift in that marker of trust—now you can buy it—in advance of, as we’ve been talking about, a very contentious and important election,” noted Krebs, “it opens the information space to a broader community of influencers, clout chasers, election denialists.”
And it’s happening, he said, just as “we’ve seen reports lately of Russia, China and Iran back at their old tricks, and it is going to create a very chaotic environment.”
In fact, The New York Times on Sunday reported that Russia has “reactivated” its teams of trolls and bots who interfered in our 2016 and 2020 elections.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) brought up the Times’ report on State of the Union and reiterated legislation that she’d mentioned last Sunday which she plans to introduce after Election Day. It would punish social media owners who profit off consumers who post untruths.
“They can’t shield themselves when they are actually making money off of spreading misinformation about elections,” she said. “Other countries are ahead of us when it comes to this. We’ve got to actually do something.”
Trump’s Likely Post-Midterm Announcement
Meanwhile, former President Trump has all-but announced that he’s going to officially announce his run for reelection in 2024 soon after Tuesday’s midterms.
The RNC had been helping to pay Trump’s mounting legal fees to the tune of some $2 million, but McDaniel said that will stop the instant he tosses his hat in the ring.
“We cannot pay legal bills for any candidate that has announced,” she stated, adding that until that moment, “he’s the former President who is being attacked from every which way with lawsuits, and he has certainly raised more into the RNC than we have spent on these bills.”
On CBS’ Face the Nation, Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH)—whom anchor Margaret Brennan noted has been floated as a possible Presidential candidate, himself—said Trump announcing won’t discourage any other Republicans from running in the ’24 primaries.
“First off, announcing you’re going to run for office between an election and Christmas is a terrible idea,” he asserted. “Because one thing I can say for America is we’re all going to be really happy one way or the other that the election is over come Tuesday, and everyone’s going to want to take a breath and re-engage with their families and deal with some really serious issues.”
Further declaring, “I don’t think President Biden is going to run again,” Sununu predicted, “I think both sides of the aisle are going to have maybe a dozen individuals over the next six to nine months come out and decide to run.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), appeared to back him up on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying, “There’s going to be a lot of people who will probably announce. We’ll watch what happens.”