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The Inside Story-Midterm Elections 2022 TRANSCRIPT


The Inside Story: Midterm Elections 2022

Episode 63 – October 27, 2022

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The Fight for control of Congress and the power to shape U.S. Policy is nowjust weeks away.

Major parties make their final push, but who else is running for office?

Are elections safe and trustworthy in the United States?

Plus, we’ll look at the issues driving voters to the polls.

Now on The Inside Story… Midterm Elections 2022.

The Inside Story:

KATHERINE GYPSON, VOA Congressional Correspondent:

Hi. I'm Katherine Gypson, VOA Congressional Correspondent, inside the U.S. Capitol --- political control of which is at stake in November’s midterm elections.

Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory in 2020 was accompanied by a narrow Democratic party majority in both chambers of Congress.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake this year for a two-year term.

Right now, the Democrats hold a slim 8 seat majority.

One-third of the 100 member U.S. senate face the voters this year, including a couple of special elections to bring the total to 35.

Right now, the Senate is evenly split --- 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans. Vice President Kamala Harris, as President of the Senate, casts a tie-breaking vote, putting the Democrats in control.

36 states will elect governors with thousands of elections being held at nearly every level of government.

Among the issues voters are weighing: an economy with high inflation …

Abortion rights …

And the direction democracy takes in the United States as many who embrace false claims the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent are running for office this year.

We’ll get inside many of the U.S. domestic issues in our time ahead.

First, the concerns about the election’s impact on U.S. foreign policy --- especially Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Republican leader in the House of Representatives questions whether Ukraine will continue to get what he calls “a blank check” if Republicans win back control of the House.

And a group of progressive Democrats retracted a letter urging President Biden to directly negotiate with Russia to end the war --- saying it was a draft of the group’s sentiment from months ago.

More from VOA White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara:

PATSY WIDASKUSWARA, VOA White House Bureau Chief:

Ukrainians are still reeling from drone and missile attacks on its capital, Kyiv, and other cities, which destroyed civilian buildings and infrastructure.

Olena Shuliak, Ukraine’s Servant of the People Party:

Our people die every day. Every day, we stand defending democracy in the whole world. You can see what is happening daily with the shelling and destruction of our houses and killing of our people. You can`t decrease the support, only to increase it.


Olena Shuliak, chairwoman of Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People Party, told VOA that Ukrainians are following U.S. politics closely ahead of the midterm elections in November, when Democrats may lose their slim majority in Congress. If Republicans win, the House of Representatives may oppose more aid to Kyiv.

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News that with a recession coming, Americans are not going to write “a blank check to Ukraine.”

Other Republican lawmakers have also said the U.S. should focus more on the threat of Chinese military buildup.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre:

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary:

We will continue to work with Congress and continue to monitor those conversations on these efforts and support Ukraine as long as it takes. We are going to keep that promise that we're making to the brave Ukrainians who are fighting every day to fight for their freedom and their democracy.


Observers say with rising isolationist tendencies in the Republican Party, some worry that aid to Ukraine would wane, particularly for humanitarian and economic needs.

There is less concern about U.S. security assistance, however.

Kristine Berzina, German Marshall Fund of the United States:

If you think about the interests on the right in general to support the military industrial complex and industry in the U.S., well, what is the desperate need from Europeans right now in Ukraine and all across the [NATO] eastern flank?

It is the need for weapons systems, everything from ammunition to very sophisticated weapons systems like HIMARS, drones. And the defense budgets are increasing so significantly in Europe that the increase in defense spending is outpacing what is available on the shelf.


The United States has authorized more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, with more than $17 billion in security assistance disbursed since the war began in February. In May, the Senate voted for more than $40 billion in new military and humanitarian assistance, with some Republicans voting against.

President Xi Jinping did not mention the United States this week during the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Congress. But his message was clear: Beijing will double down in the face of Western threats, including on Taiwan.

Xi Jinping, Chinese President:

We are not committed to abandoning the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.


The CCP Congress cemented a more assertive foreign policy under Xi, who will remain in power for a third term. This sets Beijing on a collision course with the Biden administration, which will be under pressure to be even tougher on China should Republicans win more congressional seats in the November midterm elections and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ends up as speaker of the House.

Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader:

For 50 years, the Chinese Communist Party has launched an assault on the American way of life, on our economy, on our jobs, on our companies, on our culture, on our institutions, on our very future.


The U.S. Congress is considering the Taiwan Policy Act, a bill aimed at boosting the military capability of the self-governed island against a potential Chinese invasion. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.

Beyond Taiwan, various Republican lawmakers have promised more focus on China and a tougher stance on everything from securing supply chains to investigating the origins of the coronavirus to make the point they think President Joe Biden is soft on Beijing.

But even if Democrats retain their slim majority in Congress, Biden’s China policy will likely remain hawkish...

keeping in place many policies of his predecessor, President Donald Trump ...

including steep tariffs on Chinese goods and containing Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Yun Sun, Stimson Center:

Under the Trump administration, the Chinese genuinely hoped that the Democrats would win. But after almost two years of the Biden administration, I think the Chinese have come to the realization that both are not going to change the consensus on China. And some in China would even argue that Biden's policy is even more difficult for China because of how Biden aligns his position and mobilizes allies and partners to jointly counter China's growing influence.


Should Republicans retake Congress, observers say there will be more skepticism toward Biden’s approach of competing strategically with China while cooperating on transnational challenges such as climate change.

Patsy Widakuswara, VOA News, Washington.


False claims by ex-President Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him has raised the level of rhetoric around the subject of election security and voter fraud.

Expert studies indicate that voter fraud is not just rare but could not happen at a rate needed to rig an election.

There are many factors that go into securing Americans’ right to vote and ensuring everyone’s vote is counted.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin covers the subject and explains what the experts know about the nature of any threats to this election and the process.

Jeff Seldin, VOA National Security Correspondent:

The biggest concern in some ways is the perception of the election and whether or not the American people, voters going to the polls in the upcoming election, will see it as a reliable election, as a safe election and an election in which they can trust in the results.

And there are a couple of dangers on that front.

One danger is the possibility that a nation state, a foreign nation state, a Russia, a China, Iran, perhaps others, will try to launch some sort of cyber-attack that would interfere with the elections.

There's also the problem of disinformation, and the US officials have said from various agencies that the disinformation war surrounding the elections, it's no longer just about the elections. It's a year-round, day in day out battle. Clearly though there are narratives out there that are being pushed by countries like Russia, by China and others that there are reasons to doubt the election. And so they have to push back against that.

There's also domestic disinformation. There are people within the United States who are trying to cast doubts on the sanctity of the elections, and so they've been trying to empower local officials to push back against that. And then finally there are physical safety concerns that they're dealing with. The Department of Homeland Security this past June issued a bulletin warning that the election, the midterm elections, could be one of the events that could trigger some violence. Department of Homeland Security officials have said since then that this is one of the more complex and difficult environments in terms of physical security. And so, they're worried about that as well.

The FBI in recent weeks has held some briefings and have said that while they're on the lookout for cyber-attacks, they see no indications that any election, election related systems are being targeted; they're being scanned but nothing's been compromised, nothing's been attacked.

Also, they point out that because of the way elections work in the United States, where it's not run on a national level, it's not run on a federal level, it's a state and local level. There are so many systems that an adversary would have to target, it is nearly impossible to target them all. And because of measures that have been put in place over the last four, six years, that would be very difficult to target election systems themselves.

CISA is the Cyber Security Infrastructure Security Agency. And it's kind of a lead agency when it comes to the cyber safety of the elections. They have a rumor control website which they've been updating and they've updated earlier this month to dispel old myths that are out there, disinformation that is out there, and explain what is really going on with how dropboxes work, how the election systems work, how tabulations work, which are areas that people can raise questions about.

And then of course, CISA, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and local election officials have been working with law enforcement, both on the federal level and on the state and local level, to make sure that the physical voting itself, whether it's at a dropbox or a polling place, whether it's concerns about threats against election workers, that that is being addressed adequately so that people can show up and run the elections and feel safe and that voters can go to the polls and feel safe.

In the last elections, the Intelligence Committee looked at what was going on and said China thought about doing some stuff, but ultimately did not decide to meddle in any way in the US elections. This time around already. The evidence is showing itself to be different that China is taking a much more active role in trying to shape and influence elections.

Russia of course has done it before likely to do it again, there are constant disinformation campaigns out there. There's also concerned about Iran because Iran the last time around in the presidential election, much more actually hacked some voter databases and used that information to carry out an intimidation campaign. There's an expectation that Iran, especially depending from experts and some officials, depending on what's going on with the nuclear negotiations would seem to be stalled right now, how they may decide to ratchet up their activity here.


A summer decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is among the issues voters will consider in the election this fall.

American women have had the right to get an abortion since the 1973 Roe versus Wade Supreme Court ruling.

Now that the Supreme Court overturned its decision from 49 years ago, abortion rights and the right to privacy is one of the issues that could tilt the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.

VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell explains how the politics of abortion plays this election year.

ANITA POWELL, VOA White House correspondent:

On one thing, all American politicians agree:

Over the next three weeks, Americans face a major decision.

U.S. President Joe Biden:

We're only 22 days away from the most consequential election in our history – in my view, our recent history at least – an election where the choice and the stakes are crystal clear, especially when it comes to the right to choose.


Recent polls rank abortion access high on the short list of issues motivating voters as they head to the polls in early November to fill 470 House and Senate seats.

Biden’s Democrats largely oppose the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that revoked the constitutional right to abortion and threw the decision to states. On Tuesday, Biden said that if Democrats win a majority, he will support legislation to enshrine federal abortion rights into law.

Republicans generally want to see restricted access – or no access – to abortion.

Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life Committee:

We are going to work as hard as we can to protect as many lives as we can. But quite frankly, even if a state does allow abortion, I would like to think that sometime in the near future, abortion will be unthinkable, and women won’t get the abortion even if they could.


This issue has also dominated some key races, like the close U.S. Senate race in Georgia.

Herschel Walker, Republican Senate Candidate:

You know, an abortion. You know, I'm a Christian. I believe in life. And I tell people this: Georgia is a state that respects life. And I'll be a senator that protects life.


Walker disputes claims that he paid for an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009.

Polls show that about two-thirds of Americans support abortion access, but pollsters aren’t sure this will sway the election.

Ashley Kirzinger, Kaiser Family Foundation:

This is the million-dollar question. So what we know is that over the course of the summer, abortion access became a very hot topic for Democrats. We have about a half of Democratic voters saying that they were more motivated to vote because of the Dobbs decision. And a larger share of them said that this is their number one issue and what they want to hear candidates talk about, and so it seems to be motivating Democratic voters.


And during a campaigning stop in California this week, Vice President Kamala Harris said this issue resonates far beyond the United States.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris:

When we think about autocratic governments around the world who can then look to their people and say, 'Well, you want to hold up America and rights as an example of what we should do? Well, look at what they just did.” So, by extension, what just happened will invariably impact women around the world.


Early voting has started around the country, and the representatives Americans choose in early November will have the power to shape abortion policy for years to come.

Anita Powell, VOA News, the White House.


Midterm elections are held halfway through a U.S. president's four-year term --- and they are usually a referendum on the performance of the newly elected president.

That is why the party of the new president usually loses seats in Congress during the midterm elections.

Republicans are trying to win votes by portraying Joe Biden as responsible for high prices in the U.S.

Democrats are using Donald Trump and the January 6th, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a reason to vote for them.

The congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol wrapped up a series of public hearings with a demand for Trump to answer their questions.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump now ordered by U.S. lawmakers to testify about his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican:

The central cause of January 6 was one man, Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of this would have happened without him. He was personally and substantially involved in all of it.


Several other presidents throughout U.S. history have been asked for their testimony by the U.S. Congress, but it is a rare occurrence.

Lawmakers said the seriousness of the attack required Trump to be held accountable.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat:

He’s required to answer to those millions of Americans whose votes he wanted to throw out as part of his scheme to remain in power and whatever is underway to ensure this accountability on the law. This committee will demand a full accounting to every American person of the event of January 6th.


Trump has criticized the committee’s work, characterizing it as unfair because it is made up of Democrats and two Republicans who voted to impeach him. But much of the evidence presented in the hearings was from members of his own staff and party.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democrat:

All this evidence come almost entirely from Republicans. The evidence that has emerged did not come from Democrats or opponents of Donald Trump.


In what’s expected to be the final public hearing, investigators showed new video of congressional leadership rushed to a secure, undisclosed location, trying to summon help as Trump backers stormed the Capitol and revealed the Secret Service knew of the threat in advance of the attack.

The committee does not have the power to place criminal charges, but it can refer its findings to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican:

We have sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals.


The committee is expected to issue a report on its findings in the coming months. Trump is seen as unlikely to comply with the subpoena, risking a charge of contempt of Congress.


American politics is dominated by Democrats and Republicans.

But what about Libertarians? The Green Party? Have you heard of the Natural Law Party?

There are dozens of political parties in the U.S. beyond the big two.

Many of those so-called “third parties” have marginal followings. But every once in a while, a third-party candidate can make a difference in an election.

VOA Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman takes us inside one political startup in New Jersey that hopes to buck the two-party system.

STEVE HERMAN, VOA Chief National Correspondent:

Every U.S. president since the mid-19th century has been from either the Republican or the Democratic party. And there hasn’t been a true third-party candidate in Congress for more than 50 years.

Many of the smaller parties focus on a single issue or philosophy. And wanting to stay true to their cause, fail to attract enough votes to get their candidates elected according to Micah Sifry, a writer and democracy activist, who wrote a book about third parties.

Micah Sifry, Writer and Democracy Activist:

They also are up against a system that is really biased, you might say rigged, against the ability of smaller parties to make much headway. We don't have proportional representation in the United States. And so, even if you get 5 percent of the vote, you don't get 5 percent of the seats.


America’s most enduring third party is the Prohibition Party, which has had a presidential candidate in every election since 1872 in its quest to ban alcohol as a beverage. Its cause was the law of the land from 1920 to 1933, the year this bar [in the state of New Jersey] opened, when Americans — amid an economic Depression — collectively decided they needed a really stiff drink.

Micah Sifry, Writer and Democracy Activist:

About 2 million people voted for minor party candidates for the U.S. House in 2020. Two million out of what, 120 million? It's not a substantial number. It can matter. In very close races, you know, a few votes going to the Libertarian or the Greens or Prohibition Party or whatever, can definitely swing those races when they're really, really close.


Entering the U.S. political stage this year is the Forward Party. Among its founders businessman Andrew Yang, who unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat in that party’s presidential primary two years ago and again last year for mayor of New York City.

Joining him in the Forward Party is former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who was a Republican turned vociferous critic of former President Donald Trump.

Christine Todd Whitman, Forward Party / Former New Jersey Governor:

You do have to change the system. And that's why we are supporting ranked choice voting and open primaries. That would mean that the two parties’ candidates would have to compete and talk to everybody, not just to their base.


Portraying itself as a centrist alternative that will endorse some Democrats and Republicans — or run its own candidates in otherwise uncontested races — the Forward Party is pushing for ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting. In this system, the votes of the lowest performing candidates in primaries are re-distributed to the stronger candidates based on voters’ stated secondary choices.

Christine Todd Whitman, Forward Party / Former New Jersey Governor:

This is going to take a while. It's taken a while to get us to the point where we're sort of a broken, almost a broken system. I still like ours the best of any. But … people aren't responding to it.


To be determined is whether the electorate responds to a new moderate party in an America more polarized than at any time since the Civil War era, when Republicans and Democrats began their long domination of the country’s politics.

Steve Herman, VOA News, Elizabeth, New Jersey.


That’s all for now. We’ll take you inside the results in a couple of weeks.

Meantime, stay up to date with the midterms at

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You can follow me on Twitter at kgyp.

And catch up on previous episodes on our free streaming app, VOA Plus.

Thanks for being with us.

See you next week for The Inside Story.