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Democratic Candidates Preparing for CNN Debate; Expert Reports: Tamir Rice Shootings Justified; Pregnant Mother Killed in Israel Airstrike. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 11, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:35] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Two days until five candidates will stand on this stage in Las Vegas for the first Democratic presidential debate. The clock is winding down. You can see the stage, the arena here in Vegas.

It's the first time that Hillary Clinton will be back on the stage since the 2008 campaign. Her closest rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, he is no debate novice. For that matter, neither are the other three.

Let's bring in political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill, Democratic pollster Margie Omero.

Good to have you, Marc, Margie.



BLACKWELL: All right. So, you know, there is a lot of waiting for Joe Biden to decide. He likely won't make this debate, that's pretty clear. But what will his role be on that night, Margie?

OMERO: Well, I think he is going to be a candidate that some voters may be thinking about. I think, ultimately, people will be focused on the candidates that are on stage and hearing what they have to say, learning a little bit more about Bernie Sanders, seeing how Sanders and Clinton interact. You may have some voters thinking about what they want to see should Joe Biden get in the race down the road. But I think this is exciting because it's the first debate and that's what people are going to be looking at.

BLACKWELL: All right. We got the latest numbers from the Fairleigh Dickinson University. Clinton has a wide lead over Bernie Sanders. Marc, we're going to put this up. You see 22 points, Biden who is included in this at 17 percent, and O'Malley there at 1 percent.

Hillary Clinton, I think back to that exchange she had back in 2007 over drivers licenses for undocumented workers in New York, she got kind of fumbled there. Recently with this TPP, the trade pact, she was before -- before she was against it, she's got a couple of pitfalls she needs to avoid as well.

HILL: Absolutely. But I think she has done a lot of the work to address that before the debates. You know, she has gone in the last two weeks, saying and to interview saying, look, I made different decisions. I got better information.

She positioned herself as a thoughtful leader, rather than somebody who was for something before they were against it or against something before they were for it. I think that was very wise of Hillary Clinton, because people are going to come to her for the gay marriage stuff, for TPP, for a range of issues, where she has to position herself, and I think she's done that.

The bigger challenge I think is going to be showing that she has enough vision to address economic issues for the working poor and working class people because that's what Bernie Sanders is resonating with a big pocket of the Democratic base.

BLACKWELL: So, Margie, Bernie Sanders has been reluctant to go after Hillary Clinton directly. Even in his mention of his Iraq war vote over the weekend. He didn't mention her directly. Is that something that voters will be looking for and is he likely to deliver on Tuesday night?

OMERO: Well, this is definitely not going to be like the Republican debate where you have folks lining up to kind of take a shot at each other in hopes to get -- to be part of a viral clip of some sort of confrontation. You're not going to see that with the Democratic debate, at least not with Sanders and Clinton. Maybe O'Malley or Chafee may want to try to boost their likelihood of being a story after the fact.

But I think you're going to see Sanders and Clinton, at least from what they are eighty, focus more on the issues rather than on a personal attack. One, I think that is what voters want. That's what Democrats want. Two, I think both candidates want to demonstrate that they have warmth and I think that is another way to do it.

[07:35:02] And, you know, Sanders has been saying for a long time that he has never run -- he has never been negative or negative in his campaign and expect -- hopes to continue to do that. So, I think that's what you're going to see on Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: You brought up --


HILL: That's just a mistake. I think --

BLACKWELL: Go ahead. Expound.

HILL: You know, if you're Joe Biden and you're in the race, just hypothetically, right? You can wait for Hillary to make a mistake because people who already believe you're capable of being president. For Bernie Sanders, it's going to take more than just Hillary making a mistake, Hillary fumbling even an e-mail scandal to boost him up enough to win the nomination.

He has to affirmatively and aggressively show why Hillary Clinton's vision is flawed, why she's not the right candidate, and that means he's going to have to attack her or at least strongly critique her on economic issues and populist issues. And I think he has to make a distinction between critiquing someone and attacking them.

BLACKWELL: You know, Mark --

OMERO: Yes, I'm saying there won't be contrast. I'm saying they're going to focus more on issues and substance rather than the sort of volatile, you know, slug fest.

HILL: Yes, I just think Bernie is wrong.

BLACKWELL: Marc, let me ask you about this point of Martin O'Malley. He is, obviously, going to be on the stage. The difference between the Democrats and Republicans because of the number of candidates but 1 percenters for the Republicans were in a completely different debate. Martin O'Malley will be standing right next to Hillary Clinton, the front-runner.

What does he have to do? I mean, there are some who say that he needs a Fiorina moment.

HILL: He needs to shoot his shot. He needs to go extremely strongly.

But remember, Carly Fiorina was in a race the voters weren't confident about anybody, even the people at the top of the heap at the time like Jeb Bush were far from strong candidates in terms of having the nomination locked up.

Here, it's Hillary's race to lose. So, Martin O'Malley has to be extremely strong, he has to be extremely aggressive, and he has to wait for a mistake. To put it in sports terms, he is down three or four touchdowns. He needs to play really well and hope the other side makes some big mistakes.

BLACKWELL: Yes, but extremely strong and aggressive. There could be a line where that goes too far. We'll see.

Marc Lamont Hill, Margie Omero, thank you both.

OMERO: Thank you.

HILL: Pleasure.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the family of Tamir Rice is fighting the Cleveland Police Department for accountability in the death of their son. There is a new report out now, commissioned by the police, that backs the police officers' side of the story. The family has a lot to say about that, too. We'll get into that.

Also, we're following breaking news. Violence across Jerusalem and Gaza. Several people have been killed and attacks seem to be growing. We're going to take you live to Jerusalem with the very latest. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour right now.

And the video, I know you're going to remember it because it was just as shocking as the event itself. Police pulling up to 12-year-old Tamir Rice -- take a look at this -- in Cleveland. This is in a park. One officer drawing his weapon and firing within two seconds of arrival.

Someone had called 911 reporting, quote, "a guy with a pistol". The tragic scene unfolding just about two years ago. And now, that officer's actions are being called "tragic, reasonable, justified."

In two newly released expert reports about Rice's death, Nick Valencia is following the story.

I'm sure a lot of people are just hearing this part of it, the headline, Nick, and they're wondering how this happens. Explain it to us, won't you please?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These reports were in the interest of transparency according to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's officer conducted independent from their investigation commissioned by them as they prepared to bring their findings towards the grand jury. According to this report, one done by a current prosecutor in Denver and another done by a former FBI agent, the shooting death of 12-year- old Tamir Rice in Cleveland on the afternoon of November 22nd was a reasonable one.

S. Lamar Sims, that deputy there, prosecutor in Denver writing in their report that the Officer Loehmann, the officer that fired the fatal shot into the abdomen of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, "Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat."

Back on about 3:00 p.m. on November 22nd in Cleveland, 911 there in Cleveland received a call about a guy pointing a pistol at people. That caller also telling 911 that the gunman or the person that had that weapon, it was probably fake according to this caller and he was also probably a juvenile.

Based on the information the officers had, they pulled up to that park and within two seconds fired that fatal shot towards Tamir Rice as he reached towards the right side of his waistband.

According to these reports, that reaching towards the waistband by Tamir Rice was enough of a perceived threat to justify this shooting.

These reports, they get into this saying it's not whether the officers were right or wrong in firing that shot. It's if they had reason to believe that this was a threat to their safety.

This FBI agent who wrote the second report making news last night writing in their report, "The weapon in question was an air soft gun is not relevant to a constitutional review of Officer Loehmann's actions." Of course, after the fact, it turns out that Tamir Rice was 12-years-old. That that gun that he was holding an air soft pellet gun. Not a real gun, but the orange tip had been removed from that gun.

Grand jury proceedings continuing. We're going to be following this story as it develops -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Hey, Nick Valencia, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

And we need to point out, the Rice Family says they are not satisfied with the report. They slam it as a charade and I want to quote you what they released here. They say, "To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash when the world has the video of what happened is all the more alarming. These hired guns, all pro-police, dodged the simply fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least." That is their quote.

The prosecutors office, by the way, says the family has been invited to submit their own expert reports.

BLACKWELL: All right. Breaking news in the violence escalating overnight across Jerusalem, also Gaza. An Israeli airstrike brings down a House killing a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 3-year-old daughter. We'll talk about why these attacks are ramping up. We are live to Jerusalem, next.

Also, this is a chance for maybe some of the underdogs to break away from the pack. Who might stand out during the first Democratic presidential debate?

We are breaking it down in the next hour of your NEW DAY.


[07:48:41] BLACKWELL: All right. More now on the breaking news we are following in the Middle East. These are images from Gaza. Palestinian officials say a pregnant mother and her 3-year-old daughter died in this attack. Israeli's military says it was targeting Hamas weapons facilities.

Also, Israeli officials are reporting that an Israeli police officer was wounded in an explosion near a West Bank checkpoint leading to Jerusalem.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Jerusalem with the latest on what's happening there -- Erin.


That's right. Overnight in Gaza, more bloodshed. Israeli air force says they were targeting two Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities that Gaza city fire officials say that one of the bombs landed in an open field, causing a nearby building to collapse. Inside that building, a 35-year-old pregnant Palestinian woman and her 3-year-old child. They were killed. Officials say three others were also wounded.

Now, Israeli official say that the strikes were in response to rockets that were fired from Gaza towards southern Israeli. They say that the Iron Dome defense system intercepted those rockets. One rocket rather. The second rocket to be fired towards Israel from Gaza in recent days.

[07:50:03] And then this morning, Israeli police say there was an incident near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. They say they noticed a suspicious looking vehicle. Inside that vehicle, a 31-year- old Palestinian woman who they say looked nervous. They pulled her over.

And as she got out of her vehicle, the vehicle explosion occurred, lightly wounding a police officer. The woman is in severe condition in a hospital -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: In Jerusalem for us, Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much.

And we'll continue to have more throughout the morning.


PAUL: Aaron David Miller, though, is watching this with us here. He's currently with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former U.S. Mideast negotiator.

Aaron, thank you so much for being with us.

What do you contribute or what do you think is contributing to this most recent wave of violence in the last 24 to 48 hours?

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER U.S.-MIDEAST NEGOTIATOR: Well, this is part of -- Christi, it's part of an ongoing half century old confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians over what I call the much too promised land.

This is a particularly bloody face, but we've seen worse but the first and second Intifadas in 1987, 2000 to 2004. What we've seen now is pretty bad, and it's probably the worst since the early 1990s.

I think the reality is you've got proximate causes, growing frustration among Palestinians, tensions over the Temple Mount, the Haram al-Sharif, where Palestinians are persuaded that the Israeli government is trying to change the status quo.

But groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad are taking advantage of this to inflame tensions and stir the pot. The reality is that there is really no end state for this. This is either going to get worse or alternatively like so many of the other episodes, it's going to play itself out without any resolution.

PAUL: It gets better maybe temporarily. Do you see anything that can be done that will calm things down, even from the time being?

MILLER: I think it's important both that the Palestinian leadership and I think Mahmoud Abbas needs to be forceful in condemning the attacks, all over. The Israeli security services are persuaded that, in fact, Palestinian police and security forces are seriously engaged in trying to prevent escalation.

The government of Israel also has the knowledge that part of the reason these tensions were triggered in the first place was because there is a perception that the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif, the Tempe Mount, this is overlapping sacred space, to a mosque critical to Islam, and beneath them the remains of the first and second Jewish temples, that there's been a perception in Israel is trying to change the status quo. Rabbis are permitting Jews to go pray. There are reports of non-Muslim prayer.

So, the status quo has to be maintained. This really is a tinderbox. But again, the reality is we've seen this before. We've seen worse. It will only be resolved ultimately, given the fact a way can be found to reconcile a Palestinian national aspirations with Israel security requirements.

I'm afraid, last comment, that for the foreseeable future, we're going to be remained trapped between a two-state solution that's too important to abandon, but a two state solution that right now is just too difficult to implement.

PAUL: Very good point. Aaron David Miller, always appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for being with us.

MILLER: Take care.

PAUL: You too.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're working on breaking news right now. Iran has issued a verdict and a sentence in the espionage trial of American-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian. He was arrested in July of 2014. We've got new details in. We'll bring you a live report in a moment.


[07:58:06] BLACKWELL: CNN is proud to announce the top ten CNN heroes of 2015. Each honoree received a cash prize and a shot at hero of the year, which earns an additional $100,000 for their cause.

PAUL: You help decide who the person is going to be. Here is CNN's Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now that we've announced the top ten CNN heroes of 2015, I want to show you how you can help decide who should be CNN hero of the year to receive $100,000 for their cause. Go to where you'll find more information about all of them. Each one will be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute" this December. But only one will be named hero of the year. That's where you come in with your vote. Now, down here you'll see photos of each top ten hero, which linked to

a page where you can watch videos and learn more about their important work. When you're ready, simply click vote over here and a new page comes up. Now, select the person who inspires you the most.

I'm going to select randomly. I'm going to pick Jim Withers (ph), again, just an example. Any of the ten nominees would be worthy of the CNN hero of the year. That's entirely up to you.

Once you select your favorite hero, his or her photograph will show up down here in a separate box under your selection. Then, just under your e-mail address, type in the security code, and click on the vote box to cast your vote right there. It's even easier to vote on Facebook. Just make your selection and click over here.

You'll see this thank you page where you can share your choice on Facebook or Twitter to encourage your friends to vote as well. There's also a link where you can make a tax-free donation to your favorite hero's cause.

Now, remember, you can vote once a day every day from Sunday, November 15th with your email address, through Facebook, or by using the CNN app. We'll reveal the 2015 hero of the year during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute". A CNN tradition that promises to inspire.


PAUL: Again, meet all the top ten heroes and vote once a day every day at All ten will be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute" hosted by Anderson Cooper. That's on December 6.