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Manhunt For Macy's Shooter Who Killed Five; Cruz Endorses Trump After Months Of Hostility; Presidential Debate Starts Monday; Victim's Family Releases Video Of Fatal Encounter; Curfew Ends After Peaceful Protests; Clinton and Trump Face Off in First Debate Monday; Hollywood Elite Form New Super PAC: President Carter Builds Legacy Through Charity; New Smithsonian Museum Opens. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 24, 2016 - 08:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I want to wish you a good morning and let you know how much we appreciate you being with us. I'm Christi Paul.


Get to the breaking news out of Washington State and intense manhunt going on right now as police hunt for this man. This is from surveillance video. They say this is the man who started shooting last night inside a shopping mall. He killed five people.

This chaos unfolded inside the Macy's at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. We're told the suspect was carrying a hunting-style rifle. Officials are warning people in the area to stay inside.

Last hour, I spoke with Sergeant Mark Francis with the Washington State Patrol and we started with the question of, who is this man? Have they identified the suspect?


SGT. MARK FRANCIS, WASHINGTON STATE PATROL (via telephone): We haven't put the identification out quite yet just for reasons for our investigation, but we're trying to exhaust every lead to identify him.

BLACKWELL: OK, so you haven't released it publicly, but investigators know or believe they know who this man is?

FRANCIS: Not quite yet. They're getting close it sounds like.

BLACKWELL: OK. All right. So the latest report we had is that he was going to -- he was headed on Interstate 5 away from the mall. Is that leading investigators to any specific area, any city, any town that this is now concentrated in or around?

FRANCIS: Yes. So the actually -- so he was actually walking towards the interstate, not traveling on the interstate. He was heading towards that direction. Like I was saying earlier, it's kind of an interesting. It's rural, but in this location there's a lot of commercial buildings as well as houses. So there's a lot of places that he could have gotten to.

BLACKWELL: Any evidence that he got into a vehicle at any time and drove off or just the latest you know is that he walked toward I-5?

FRANCIS: Yes, that's the latest I know is that he was walking towards I-5. Obviously, there's a million different possibilities. Just a matter of trying to track down where he went from there.

BLACKWELL: Is this from what you've learned so far a simple criminal act or is this being investigated for potentially having some political or terror nexus?

FRANCIS: You know, every option is open right now. We're still trying to investigate the motive specifically why he targeted that location and those people. So, hopefully with time we'll be able to answer those questions.


PAUL: All right. And trying to find some of those answers still today. CNN producer, Alberta Moya live outside the mall for us right now. I know it's only 5:00 a.m. out there. This happened at 7:00 a.m. your time. We know that there were canines there that they were using. What is happening at the moment there? Anything at all?

ALBERTO MOYA, CNN PRODUCER: Sure. Let me just set a little bit of the scene for you as to where we are. This is indeed the Cascade Mall where we are currently located. It's about 60 miles north of Seattle.

[08:05:03]And over my right shoulder, you do see the Macy's. That's where we believe that the shooting that took place yesterday was happening. I'm sure there's no question that they're probably investigators pouring over evidence that's taking place in that location.

And as you can see the tent, one of the locations where they're probably pouring over is the evidence that they're finding at that location. But the entire mall, this entire area is an area of over 400,000 square feet structure, it's completely closed off with police tape around the entire area.

We circled the property a couple times trying to find the location where the media is being staged and there are multiple check points where police are being very, very vigilant, making sure that there's nobody here that's not supposed to be here.

The other thing that I wanted to point out is that we did, as we approached the area, we wanted to stop at a couple of places. Two of the gas stations that we approached the owners came over to the door and told us, no, we are in complete lockdown.

The streets are completely empty. It's very early in the morning, but you can definitely tell that people are listening to the authorities request to stay off the streets while the search for this individual continues. PAUL: OK, so that was my next question regarding that area. Are there -- is there a residential area anywhere around there? Because I know that this sergeant there in Seattle was telling people to stay inside if you live close to the area, lock your doors. I'm wondering what the initial threat may be specifically in that area for folks who may be at home.

MOYA: There are some -- there is a residential area nearby, but primarily this structure, this mall complex and to the south side of the complex it's primarily a commercial area. Interstate 5 the area where the suspect was believed to have gone is not too far from this location.

If you cross the interstate, you know, by foot, if you're willing to do that, it's not too far. I know that earlier in the day the police have concentrated some of their investigative services there because they had gotten leads that the suspect might be in that location, but they have cleared that area.

He is not there anymore, but the streets are completely empty. I think that there are a couple cars here and there, but people are definitely listening to the request of the authorities to stay indoors. Just like I mentioned at the gas stations, the owners came up to us and said, no, you're not coming in.

PAUL: All right, Alberta Moya, thank you so much. Do take care of yourself and the crew there. We should point out, Victor, too, they said the suspect was walking toward I-5. There's no indication that he got on the interstate as of yet.

BLACKWELL: We'll talk with CNN law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander, who is joining us right now. But I first want to start with who this man is. When I asked the sergeant with Washington State Police if they've identified him, his response was we're not putting that out just yet. What would be the reason if they're looking for this man not to release his name?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they probably need some more conclusive information to be certain that's the person they're looking for before they've give it out to the public.

Because once you receive it here and across the networks, then they need to be 100 percent certain that's the person that they're looking for by name and description. That could possibly be part of that.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about that element of walking toward the interstate. Now this is someone who at least when he left that store had a rifle. We don't know if he walked away with that rifle.

But when you hear that the suspect is headed on foot toward the interstate, is the assumption that he's getting into a car is going to carjack someone. If you don't find him there, how do you then find out where he is and where he's going?

ALEXANDER: There has not been a reported carjacking that we're aware of, so we can only reasonably assume that either he had a car parked near the expressway for very quick getaway or there was someone there to pick him up. And that's quite possible as well. So, I think a lot of that will be determined here, Victor, very shortly as they continue their investigation coming into the morning here.

BLACKWELL: OK, and part of the intelligence investigation here -- because there is the search for the man, but there's also the search for a motive. Is this a simple criminal act or is this terror. And what are they doing now likely to try to determine if they know who the man is, what his motivation is?

ALEXANDER: Well, they're going to look at it from both angles. Is this just mere criminal act of someone who is experiencing some type of mental health break or is this a terrorist act? And you know sometimes it's too early to tell because we can assume one thing and can clearly be something else.

But it certainly does have all the makings, if you will, of some of the types of things we've seen more recently that have occurred in the country.

OK, all right, Cedric Alexander, thanks for helping us break this down. We'll talk more throughout the morning about the shootings that are happening across the country in Tulsa and in Charlotte. Thanks so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

PAUL: Well, still to come, Charlotte police under fire for not releasing video of the deadly shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Now, more rallies, more protests being planned demanding answers, justice, and those tapes.

[08:10:07]BLACKWELL: Also, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, they put their plans on their plans to visit Charlotte while the situation plays out there. Now, the next big focus, of course, the big debate on Monday night. What to expect when they go head to head.


BLACKWELL: All right, two days now before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are face-to-face on stage for the first presidential debate, and it's now coming after a really stunning turn of events.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Trump rival, you remember the primary, criticized him bitterly for the past two months saying he will, quote, "not be a servile puppy dog" to Trump. Now doing a 180 saying he'll vote for the man.


SENATOR TED CRUZ (D), TEXAS: A year ago, I stood on stage in front of American people and I made a promise I will support the Republican nominee. That's a promise I made to the people across this country. And as I thought about it and prayed about it, what to do, what my conscience told me, is I need to keep my word.


BLACKWELL: Everything he said there was true when he said he wasn't going to be a servile puppy dog. But let's move on to Hillary Clinton picking up a surprising endorsement of her own from the "Cincinnati Inquirer," one of Ohio's largest newspapers. The editorial board now backing her after supporting Republican presidential nominees for nearly 100 years.

WHITFIELD: So let's bring in our political panel, Jonathan Tasini, political strategist and author of the "Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America," and Jack Kingston, Trump campaign senior adviser and former Republican U.S. representative from Georgia. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

[08:15:06]So I just want to ask a real quick question, after the GOP convention, Jack, we had Donald Trump say if he gives it, referring to Ted Cruz, if he gives it, I will not accept it, referring to his endorsement. I don't want his endorsement, Ted, stay home, relax, and enjoy yourself. Obviously very different language. How much credence do you think the electorate gives to this endorsement?

JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think it's important, but I think endorsements go just so far. When you're in a primary, particularly a 17-way primary, there's a lot of words that are exchanged, a lot of hard hitting goes on and I think most voters understand that.

But Ted Cruz is one of the strong leaders of the conservative movement in our country and he did make a promise. I hope that his example would be followed by others who made the same promise, but either way, Donald Trump, as you know, is iconoclastic candidate.

And he's moving on with or without endorsements, with or without the Washington establishment. So, you know, we welcome it. Ted Cruz is a man of his word. I like Ted Cruz. I think he brings a lot to the table. He has a tremendous national following, a huge e-mail list if you will. So we're glad to him on board.

PAUL: OK, Jonathan, I want to ask you about something that -- a memo this week by Donald Trump's spokesman, Jason Miller. CNN reporting that he said this, "These are hallmarks," speaking of Hillary Clinton, "These hallmarks of a career politician who spent too much time seeking and clinging to power."

He is referring to all the prep work she's doing for this debate. Then he goes on to say, "He," as in Donald Trump, "isn't rehearsing canned 30-second sound bites or spending hours in the film room like an NFL player.

He'll be prepared but most importantly, he'll be himself." Her identity to a lot of people, her authenticity, her trustworthiness is most in question for her. Is there something to be said for too much preparation and not just going out there and doing your thing, so to speak?

JONATHAN TASINI, POLITICAL STRATEGIST AND CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, Christi, first of all, good morning to you and Victor. I just quickly want to say something to Jack and I never thought that I would wake up on a Saturday morning and quote Ted Cruz.

But remember what Ted Cruz said, in fact, about Donald Trump, this man is a pathological liar. The man is utterly immoral. Donald is a bully. Bullies don't come from strength, they come from weakness and on and on.

So it is quite amazing. I never thought I would agree with Ted Cruz. He accurately described Donald Trump to the American public and I think that that will come up in the debate.

The majority of people have actually decided that they're rejecting Donald Trump and that they think he's a racist, a misogynist that he's unhinged and not fit to be president of the United States --

PAUL: But they also think that Hillary Clinton is not trustworthy.

TASINI: In the debate to answer the question, Christi, what I think Hillary Clinton has to do and I think she is preparing -- this is probably what she is preparing answers to is to refer to the Democratic Party platform, which is the most progressive party platform that we've had in our history.

And it deals with very specific things that I think will appeal to lots of voters, swing voters, certainly millennials, younger people, which is never before has any party had a far-reaching position on climate change, which is the question of the survival of the planet.

In the Democratic Party platform, it commits the president to hold a summit within 100 days of being inaugurated to deal with climate change. Hillary Clinton needs to say, I'm a transformational candidate. I will adhere to this platform and call that summit.

In the platform, it says, commits the Democratic Party to advance the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. She needs to understand score that and contrast to the Republican Party which opposes Donald Trump, Donald Trump opposes the federal minimum wage. When she makes those contrasts, which is part of the debate prep, I think the differences would be made quite clear.

PAUL: This is a debate that they're saying a lot of people obviously are going to be watching. It is the first debate, very possibly the most important one whether people will continue to watch after this. So what happens on that stage is crucial. And Jonathan, I want to -- actually, Jack, I want to play this debate a very powerful ad a lot of people will say that Hillary Clinton has put out. Let's watch together.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would look her right in the fat, ugly face of her's. She's a slob. She ate like a pig. A person who is flat chested is very hard to be a ten. She have a good body, no. She have a fat (inaudible), absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You treat women with respect?

TRUMP: I can't say that either.


[08:20:04]PAUL: So, Jack, this is a section of the electorate that Donald Trump is very vulnerable to. He does not have a lot of support, it seems, with women. When you look at that ad, she's using his own words against him. How does he get on that stage because surely it will come up and defend himself against his own words?

KINGSTON: Well, let me say this, I'm a father of two grown daughters, brother of three sisters, and certainly that ad is a powerful ad, but I think what's more important is his track record as an employer, elevating women, putting women in management positions, making many of them very, very wealthy. I think he'll have a strong come back to that.

TASINI: He is a misogynist.

KINGSTON: He'll put words out of Hillary Clinton's mouth I turned all of my e-mails, I only had one server, I've been completely transparent. I want to get back to what Jonathan says, we are very comfortable that the Democrats want to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour and put climate change as the biggest priority out there.

Because I believe the American people actually want jobs and they want to hear about the economy and they want to hear how the middle class income has fallen from 57,000 to 53,000 --

TASINI: And do they want a guy who is a con man --

KINGSTON: -- national security, they're very --

PAUL: Economy, yes, economy and national security in polls are showing that that is what is foremost on people's minds.

TASINI: -- a con man running the country who is not capable of bringing jobs.

PAUL: We will see how all of this pans out on Monday at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN as we, I'm sure, are all watching together in different rooms. Jack Kingston, Jonathan Tasini, thank you both so much.

TASINI: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Sure.

BLACKWELL: Let's turn to Charlotte where the police chief there, he still has a very difficult decision to make as protesters, civil rights leaders even the mayor is demanding the release of the a video that shows the fatal shooting of Keith Scott.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Well, this morning some disturbing video is giving an eyewitness account of the deadly shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Police said an officer shot Scott -- this happened Tuesday -- after Scott failed to listen to commands to drop a gun.

His family has said he didn't have a gun. I do want to give you a heads-up here, I know it's Saturday morning at 8:25, and the video you're about to see could be very difficult for some of you to watch.

You're going to hear his wife pleading with officers not to shoot him. You're going to hear her reaction after he is shot. Here we go.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't shoot him, don't shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun! Drop the gun!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI. He's not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keith, don't let them break the windows, come out of the car.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keith, don't do it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keith, get out of the car. Keith, Keith, don't you do it, don't you do it. Keith! Keith! Keith! Don't you do it! Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? He better not be (inaudible) dead. He better not --


PAUL: Now, a source tells CNN that the gun police say they recovered on the scene was loaded. The source also saying investigators recovered from that weapon, fingerprints, blood and DNA that matched Scott. The source said the blood most likely was on that gun because of the shooting itself. It was there after the shooting.

BLACKWELL: So you saw there the video that was recorded and released by Scott's family. Well, now protesters in Charlotte, they plan to march through the city today to demand the police release their body cam and dash cam videos showing that shooting. They repeated the call last night in another round of protests, very peaceful this time. Watch and listen.

(VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Authorities tell CNN there were no arrests, no use of tear gas, no injuries, and no property damage last night. Our Brynn Gingras joins us now live from Charlotte where again that really is scheduled for 1 p.m. today. I wonder though as it relates to this curfew from midnight to 6:00 a.m. overnight, any problems enforcing that?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Victor, as you said, it ends at midnight. That's when we saw a tweet from the Charlotte Police Department saying that the peaceful protests were going well. They were ending and wrapping up at midnight because of that curfew.

They didn't have use any force, tear gas and didn't make any arrests. Then we saw another tweet come from the Charlotte Police Department about two hours later, 2:00 a.m., saying a warning to people about 75 saying, you know what the curfew is in place. You need to disburse.

So we're not quite sure if any arrests had to be made in order to enforce that disbursal order. Certainly we'll find that out today certainly. We do know over the last few days there were about 46 arrests, most of them related to disbursal orders.

So that seems to be the most trouble lately that police have been having to deal with. But as you can tell, I mean, that tweet went out two hours after the curfew was intact. They're pretty lenient, so to speak, about actually making sure people wrap up while they're respecting the fact that these people have to protest.

But as you said, Victor, today 1:00 p.m. protest is scheduled and we also know at this point the politicians Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump they are not going to come to Charlotte while these protests are going on, just so the resources here can be utilized for the protests -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, putting those off until next weekend. The latest we've heard is that there were no arrests overnight. But I'm sure that if there is an update we'll get that from the police. There will not be a news conference because this is now in the hands of the State Bureau of Investigation. Brynn Gingras for us there in Charlotte. Thanks so much.

All right, the other big story this weekend, two days away now from the presidential debate. We've now learned who is playing Donald Trump in Hillary Clinton's prep sessions.


[08:33:09] PAUL: Welcome back. So grateful to have your company here, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. We are now just two days away from what could be the make-or-break moment for each campaign. The first presidential debate. Now to prepare for Monday night's big showdown, a source tells CNN Trump is watching Hillary Clinton's highlights from her past debates and CNN has learned who is playing the role of Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton's debate sessions.

Joining us now to talk about it Dan Merica is CNN Politics reporter and Alan Dershowitz, Harvard professor and author of the book with the best title out this season, "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters."

Thanks for being with us, both of you.


BLACKWELL: Hey, Dan, I want you to start with the significance of Philippe Reines who is a Clinton supporter, playing the role of Donald Trump in the prep sessions.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS PRODUCER: He's a longtime not only supporter but defender. He is known for his loyalty to Secretary Clinton, was with her at the State Department and has advised her and talked with her a great deal since she left State and during this presidential run. It shows that, you know, he is somebody who knows what gets under her skin, who knows what can annoy her and knows what her weaknesses are, and he actually -- you know, when you think about it, he is the kind of person he enjoys the rough and tumble politics that Donald Trump enjoys and he has the ability to get under her skin, like Donald Trump is going to attempt to do on Monday.

It also, I think, shows that this is as much as it is about policy as it is about political theater. Donald Trump is going to poke at Clinton and in order for her to respond, she has to expect those attacks. You know, you think about the moments that we remember in presidential debates and many of those --

BLACKWELL: And not one is about policy. Not one of them isn't fact- checked.

MERICA: Exactly. And many of those moments are about, you know, the theatrics of it, looking at a watch that shows that you're bored or these moments that don't -- you're not talking about health care policy or education.

[08:35:07] And Secretary Clinton is going to have to score some of those moments in order to have her debate performance be remembered.

BLACKWELL: Let me bring Alan into the conversation. And we know that -- from the reporting that Hillary Clinton is going over policy arguments, although she is also trying to find out how to get under his skin. Donald Trump is going for the big moment, the big rhetorical punch, but I wonder if there's an opening here. We know that Governor Chris Christie is on the prep team. I want you to remember, watch this moment from the primary season between Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Let's watch.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what

Washington, D.C. does, the drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.

RUBIO: This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true.

CHRISTIE: There it is.

RUBIO: He knows exactly what he's --

CHRISTIE: There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.

RUBIO: That's the -- that's the reason why this campaign --


BLACKWELL: Donald Trump lauded that moment. What's the potential that he could turn all that prep into a weakness for her?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think -- I think both people have to make sure they don't play into the negative narratives about themselves. That's what Rubio did. He played into the narrative. The narrative about Donald Trump is that he doesn't know anything about foreign policy. He doesn't know anything about the specifics of governance, and he could make the kind of mistake that Johnson made when he didn't know what Aleppo was or President Ford made when he thought Eastern Europe was free of communist oppression.

There's a possibility he could make one of those mistakes. So I think he is not preparing correctly. He should be focusing on it specifics and information, but it may be also that Hillary Clinton is not focusing on what is the correct approach. She knows everything. She doesn't have to prepare on policy. She doesn't have to prepare on the specifics. She has to make sure that she presents herself in a human way against the narrative honorable, trustworthy. So I think both candidates have to think very hard about how to break the negative narratives that each of them suffers from.

BLACKWELL: Let me come back to you, Dan. This tweet from Mark Cuban. He tweeted out, "Just got a front row seat to watch Hillary Clinton overwhelm Donald Trump at the humbling at Hofstra on Monday. It is on." And the campaign confirmed that he is a guest of the Clinton campaign.

What's the strategy here? Is he going to just make faces in the front row? Why is he sitting up front?

MERICA: This again goes to political theater of all this. You know, Mark Cuban is a billionaire. Donald Trump is also a billionaire. The Clinton campaign thinks that no one will get under his skin better than having another billionaire who has been outspoken about his opposition to Donald Trump, has said things that I probably can't even say on this camera right now, and has been very, very vocal, offered him millions of dollars to sit down for an interview.

So the thought is that, you know, let's offer this seat -- an aide told me that it's the best seat they had available.


MERICA: Offer this seat to Mark Cuban. He is sitting in the front row. When Donald Trump looks up, he'll see Mark Cuban, this guy who has been, you know, a pest to him on Twitter and in the public.


MERICA: And again, this plays into these mind games. You know, the theatrics of it that they hope, you know, takes him off of his game on Monday night.


DERSHOWITZ: It's a mistake.

BLACKWELL: You say it's a mistake, why, Alan?

DERSHOWITZ: It's a mistake. Because first of all, it reaffirms the notion that Hillary Clinton is subordinate to millionaires and billionaires. Second, if they wanted to surprise Donald Trump, we wouldn't know about it. They would simply seat him in the front row moments before the debate began. I see no upside and substantial downside, they're being too cute. It will backfire.

BLACKWELL: What's the -- as you go out, you send each candidate out, really quickly, what's the one thing you say remember this to each candidate, Alan?

DERSHOWITZ: What you say to Donald Trump is do not make a mistake. Make sure that you have answers and if you don't, be ready to explain how you will obtain that information.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And for Clinton?

DERSHOWITZ: And to Hillary Clinton, be yourself. Show the public what she's shown people like me. I've known Hillary Clinton for years and years. She is warm. She is engaging.

BLACKWELL: All right.

DERSHOWITZ: She has to show that to the public.

BLACKWELL: Alan Dershowitz, Dan Merica, thank you both.

MERICA: Thank you.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.


PAUL: You know, celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore are weighing in. Trying to get people to vote. We're sitting down with Hollywood director Joss Whedon who created this ad campaign.


[08:43:02] PAUL: Writer and director of "The Avengers" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" Joss Whedon jumping into the heated political arena now in the form of a new super PAC that's cranking out Web videos.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Save the Day is a political action committee jam- packed with Hollywood stars.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of us aren't as famous, but still pretty famous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, you've seen us somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes a not famous person will be mixed in with the famous ones.


BLACKWELL: Those stars may not be part of the PAC. They're just in this new ad called "Important" and their job here is to keep Donald Trump from becoming president. And neither candidate is mentioned in this new video, but the goal is clear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You only get this many famous people together if the issue --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is one that truly matters to all of us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ecological crisis or --

DON CHEADLE, ACTOR: -- a racist, abusive coward who could permanently damage the fabric of our society.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we really want to give nuclear weapons to a man whose signature move is firing?



JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: But we can end this nightmare before it begins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can save the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: So I spoke with Joss Whedon about why he created this PAC, donated $1 million and why he really wanted to get involved in this election.


JOSS WHEDON, DIRECTOR, "THE AVENGERS": I think this election is just very different than anything that's come before it. I think the stakes are higher. I think it's really a question of who we are as a country and whether or not we're going to survive, as a body, as the United States. I think, you know, there's been differences in ideology. This has gone beyond that. This is a difference in our very essential being. I don't think it's ever been more important for people to remember that voting is something that can change the nation.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And the stars in this ad actually tick off some of the issues. Let's watch another portion of the ad.


[08:45:04] SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTRESS: It affects everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not just the presidency.



MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR: Your local officials.



MOORE: Student debt. Commonsense gun laws.



BLACKWELL: You actually call this or I should say that one of the actors in this ad calls this a tipping point. Do you think that the voters you're trying to reach, most of them millennials, some of the groups that support Hillary Clinton, see this as a tipping point?

WHEDON: I think not enough people do. I think there are a lot of people say, well, it's, you know, everything is corrupt or it's lesser of two evils and I think that's a very strange myopic way of looking at what is a fight between good and evil in a way that has never been so clear. I think apathy is the thing that can put Donald Trump in the White House and can kick this nation back to the Stone Age. So what I'm interested in doing is getting to these people and not haranguing them because a lot of people are going to be doing that, but trying to bring them along. Not saying go vote. Saying come on and vote because it is a wonderful

thing, this democracy, this power we have to decide what this country is going to be like, but we have on the one hand a man who has said a hundred things and lived a life all of which would have disqualified him from being in politics at all and a woman who people say they don't trust because they've been told not to for 30 years when all she's done is be a public servant.

And that's not about two evils. That's not equal. That's not something you can just go well, it's all corrupt. If you go, well, it's all corrupt and you don't vote or you vote third party that can't win, then you are essentially doing exactly what they want. The fewer people who vote, the more chance Donald Trump has of winning the presidency and what does that tell you? That he shouldn't.


BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, we'll have more of that conversation with Joss Whedon. We'll talk about why Hillary Clinton is not doing as well with millennials as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, and challenging him on some of those views he talked about these two candidates not being equal. That video, by the way, has already been viewed more than 30 million times.

PAUL: Well, today is the much anticipated opening of Smithsonian's newest museum in Washington chronicling African-American history and culture and our Suzanne Malveaux is there live.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are already thousands of people who have gathered here on the mall. They started lining up at 5:00 in the morning for this grand opening. We're going to see civil rights leaders, celebrities and not one but two presidents for the celebration. And we got a sneak peek inside of the museum. We've got that coming up next.

BLACKWELL: But first now that he is in his 90s and has beaten cancer, you would think former president Jimmy Carter would finally settle into retirement. Take it easy. Well, not when he can still impact your world. Watch.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Roslyn are still building homes for Habitat for Humanity. An annual tradition they started more than 30 years ago.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We built almost 5,000 houses now. It's been one of the most gratifying and challenging and difficult things we've ever done, you know, physically speaking, because we've gotten steadily older. I was a lot younger when I first started.

CUOMO: He was 56 and fresh out of the White House when he first took up the hammer as a volunteer home builder.

CARTER: We hope it will go like this all over the world. We're now building one home each day for poor people in need.

I happen to be a Christian and it's a practical way to put my religious beliefs into practical use, and this is the best way I know to cross that very difficult chasm between rich people and people who've never had a decent place in which to live.

CUOMO: Habitat for Humanity fields 1400 different groups in more than 70 countries. They raise awareness of the need for more affordable housing and bring volunteers together to build and renovate homes.

CARTER: There's a Habitat organization needing some volunteers to raise money or to serve food, or to build a house in almost everywhere people live in the United States. Just the idea of volunteerism where you actually do some work side by side with people in need has been put on the forefront of people's consciousness through Habitat. And that's a good thing.



[08:53:21] PAUL: Thousands of people expected to pack Washington's National Mall this weekend celebrating the new Smithsonian African- American History Museum.

BLACKWELL: Our Suzanne Malveaux is in Washington with a look inside.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The National Museum of African-American History and Culture with its unique towering presence sits prominently next to the Washington Monument.

LONNIE BUNCH, MUSEUM FOUNDING DIRECTOR: Finally the African-American story on the National Mall is accessible to everybody. And in many ways it means that my ancestors are smiling.

MALVEAUX: A labor of love for its founding director Lonnie Bunch who gave us a behind-the-scenes tour.

BUNCH: This is everybody's story. It's not black people's story. It's the story of America.

MALVEAUX: The museum holds more than 3,000 artifacts, many of which Bunch collected traveling around the country. The project cost $540 million, half funded by the federal government and the remaining raised from private donations. The exterior made up of 3600 panels shaped as a corona or African headdress. The entrance designed as a porch.

LISA ANDERS, VICE PRESIDENT, MCKISSACK AND MCKISSACK: The visitor would come in the porch, come through that door, and then immediately get on an elevator and descend down to the lowest level, and it's dark and it's low down there, and it's to make you feel sort of like it was riding in a slave ship. MALVEAUX: In fact nearly 70 percent of the museum is below ground.

It is designed to have visitors explore the complex history of slavery and freedom at the basement level where you find a statue of Thomas Jefferson with bricks depicting his many slaves, real artifacts of shackles and a slave cabin.

[08:55:01] The next level up the era of segregation and Jim Crow through the Civil Rights Movement. Here a controversial prison guard tower from Louisiana which was so big it, along with the segregated railroad car, had to be lowered into the museum before the building was completed because it couldn't fit through the front door. A vintage plane flown by the Tuskegee airmen of World War II hangs from above.

The third level up illustrates the impact of African-Americans on the U.S., from Martin Luther King, Jr. through President Barack Obama. The top floors celebrate music, culture, community, sports, and activism with Michael Jackson's fedora, Chuck Berry's red Cadillac, a Prince jacket, and Whitney Houston gown, Black Hollywood, Oprah, and the even P-Funk's mother ship.

For many this museum is already a celebrated and sacred place.

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I wish that those who I knew who paid the supreme price could see just a minute of work in time. They are not here. But it is obligated of us, those of us who are here, to keep the struggle.


MALVEAUX: And of course reminders of that struggle continue here on the mall. There are thousands of people who have been gathered since about 5:00 in the morning to attend this celebration. It really is a who's who we're talking about. In about an hour, President Obama, Michelle Obama, as well as President George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, civil rights icon John Lewis and lots of celebrities and activists, including Patti Labelle, a performance by Stevie Wonder. A big celebration.

And Victor and Christi, I should let you know that this, going into this museum, it takes more than a day to get through these exhibits. It really is an extraordinary celebration of struggle as well as resilience for all Americans.


PAUL: Great piece, Suzanne. Have a great time. Suzanne Malveaux for us there. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Look forward to seeing it. That's it for us. We'll be back here 10:00 a.m. Eastern for an hour of NEWSROOM.

PAUL: "SMERCONISH" is with you next.