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CNN NEWSROOM

Andrew Gillum Racist Robocall Targeting Me "Deeply Regrettable"; Saudi Defend Yemen Airstrike that Hit School Bus that Killed Children; Buffett Talks Politics; Microwave Weapons Suspected in Attacks in Cuba and China; "Irreparable" Damage at Brazil's National Museum. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

MARC CAPUTO, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO" FLORIDA: And then, the following day on Wednesday, Ron DeSantis made the comments that even his campaign are essentially describing publicly as unfortunate. And that has just led to a tremendous amount of publicity on your program, on others and various newspapers and news outlets across the country.

And then, with that exposure came money. Gillum's campaign has raised at least $2 million since Tuesday. That's probably about 35 percent of the total he raised in about a year and a half to give you an idea of the amount of exposure it has generated.

You know, certainly, Andrew Gillum didn't request this or ask for it. But so far, the issue has probably been at least in the short-term more beneficial to Andrew Gillum than Ron DeSantis. DeSantis right now has been kind of in a defensive crouch. He hasn't done much in the way of public interviews, media interviews. I think he did one with the conservative radio station and one or two with Fox and that's about it.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: And I wonder. There was some thought given the two candidates that this would become a base election that they would just work to bring out the enthusiasm in their respective camps. Do you think that this does stop, lends further credence to this idea that they will be reaching to the far ends of their - of the party as opposed to trying to identify those voters in the center?

CAPUTO: Boy, I have no idea. We really saw with Donald Trump's election the kind of racial polarization in Florida that we hadn't seen in quite some time, perhaps ever in a presidential race, at least in modern times. So, we're kind of in uncharted waters here. What I can say is that elections in Florida are very close. We have razor thin election margins. 1.2 percentage points or fewer unlike the past four top of the ticket races. I see no reason that this race would be no different.

Now there was a poll. It was a democratically performed poll or better said public policy polling is a firm that's associated with Democrats. A Democratic consultant had chartered the poll in Florida after election. And according to the PPP survey, Ron DeSantis was trailing Andrew Gillum by five percentage points, 43 percent to 48 percent.

So you know if that poll is to be believed, this has been a great week for Andrew Gillum. But one of the things we just learned in the last elections, it's probably a good idea to get a few polls under your belt and start putting them together and averaging them before you can really determine who is really in front.

Again, this is Florida. We got close elections. I see no reason that this one won't be close as well.

NOBLES: And we also have 60 more days to go, Marc. So there are many more controversies that could happen between now and then.

Marc Caputo, thank you so much.

CAPUTO: This is just week one. You know this has been a crazy, crazy week in Florida politics. And that's saying something.

NOBLES: All right. Marc Caputo, thank you for your insight. We appreciate it.

Saudi Arabia is defending the airstrike that killed 40 children on a school bus. Still to come, why Saudi forces say the bus was a legitimate target.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:37:35] NOBLES: Saudi Arabia is doubling down on its defense of an airstrike that killed dozens of children on a school bus last month in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children who were returning from a field trip. Saudi officials admit some mistakes were made in the bombing but they are rejecting accusations that the strike was, quote, "an apparent war crime."

CNN's senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir joins me now live. Nima, how are Saudi officials justifying this attach?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's important I think to hear this directly from the Saudi-led coalition spokesman, because if it appears confusing, that's because it is. Take a listen to what he said exactly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. TURKI AL-MALIKI, SAUDI-LED COALITION SPOKESMAN: A s been announced by the Jihad yesterday it's a legitimate target. It's not a school bus. The bus is carrying some fighter's elements and they are responsible about recruitment and also some of the Houthis expert in that bus.

So it was as -- has been announced by the Jihad is very legitimate target. And the only thing -- the only mistake being committed by the coalition is the timing -- wrong timing where the target had been conducted.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ELBAGIR: CNN was able to obtain cell phone footage shot by one of the boys who was on the bus before that attack. And you can see we're showing it now. You see the children. You hear the excitement in their voices as they were going off on that long awaited trip. There is no doubt about the fact that there were children on that bus. We're not the only ones who have verified and reported on that.

But the Saudi-led coalition, the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition continues, Ryan, to double down on their insistence that this was a legitimate target.

NOBLES: Absolutely heartbreaking to see those children on that bus, Nima. We know the Pentagon initially welcomed the findings of the investigation. But with the Saudi response saying that there were no children on the bus, what is the U.S. reaction?

ELBAGIR: Well, so far, we have had nothing on record. But speaking to sources within the State Department and other U.S. diplomatic sources, there's a sense that this is an own goal on the part of Saudi Arabia. That was a moment in time when it looked like the Pentagon was able to congratulate the coalition for taking responsibility for what was a clear error in judgement. And that brief moment was snatched back by them doubling down on their insistence that there were no children in this bus.

[10:40:07] And it brings back into public discourse the conversation around the fact that that was a U.S.-supplied bomb. It was a U.S.-made bomb. And it reminds people of the role that U.S. weaponry and U.S. armaments continue to play. So, for a moment there, it looks like the Pentagon warnings to Saudi Arabia had been heard. But for now, it's anyone's guess what comes from here. What this conflict cannot bear is anymore civilian casualties, Ryan, and that is the fear.

NOBLES: All right. Nima, thank you very much. We appreciate that report.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett isn't all business. He is also weighing in on the midterms. How he says Democrats can reconnect with the working class heading into November.

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[10:45:18] NOBLES: He is a legendary investor, but when it comes to predicting the upcoming midterms Warren Buffett says there are two things you have to factor in. Poppy Harlow sat down with the Oracle of Omaha and it wasn't all business.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about a bit of politics. You are a Democrat. You are a very vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton. Do you think as we head into the midterms, Warren, that Democrats right now have a clear message that they can win on?

WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: Well, I'm not a card carrying Democrat. I have given money to Republicans. I voted for Republicans. But I vote for more Democrats and I certainly supported Hillary in 2016. But you have a lot of people that are going to vie for the Democratic nomination. You have got 435 different people running for Congress presumably. They're going to have a lot of different views. I think there's no super rallying cry, except elect us, basically. But there's never been a totally unifying force in either party.

HARLOW: But do the Democrats right now, if they want to retake the House, for example, if they want to win in 2020, need a super rallying cry? Because there is the super liberal progressive wing that we have seen win a number of these early primaries. And there's the more centrist.

BUFFETT: We'll find out. I mean we don't know the answer to that. What we do know is when an election is 65 or 70 days away that a lot of things can happen. And it will depend on two things. It will depend on which party has the most excited in terms of turnout. Turnout really makes a difference. The second thing, it will be the slice in the middle and who they're attracted to.

HARLOW: Do you feel at all as though the Democratic Party as a whole has lost its direction a bit after, for example, the deplorable comments? Are you concerned about their direction when it comes to the working class and rustbelt for example?

BUFFETT: Well, no. I think -- I have lived under 15 out of 44 presidents. I am more than the four of the presidents and there's -- my dad was in Congress.

HARLOW: A Republican in Congress.

BUFFETT: He was a Republican. And he was a Republican with a Republican Congress and a Democratic Congress. And believe me, it was more fun to be in the majority. I think politicians behave very much as they have over the years. I think the profession itself self- selects to a degree. And I think some of them do it for ideology and some of them do it for ego. And some of them - you know I mean you get a mix. And -- somebody said motivation should never be used in the singular. Some of them are some mixture of ambition, really caring but ideology -- that will continue forever.

HARLOW: There's a new Gallup Poll out that stunned me. And what it shows is that for the first time over the past decade, Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than they do of capitalism, 47 percent positive, view of socialism 57 percent. Your take on that?

BUFFETT: My take is they haven't tried it. They can find plenty of social -- I don't see people migrating from the capital system to socialist systems. I would regard -- I would describe our system more as a market system. I mean - and a market system which has to be modified in certain ways. But does push resources and talent and everything to things people are going to want in the future. I think it's a remarkable system.

HARLOW: On nuclear weapons - because this is something you talk extensively about in your concern. You told me when we sat down days after the 2016 election the most important thing is what person, being president, is most likely to minimize the chances of weapons of mass destruction being used. Has President Trump minimized that risk?

BUFFETT: It's very hard to measure, Poppy. I mean it's very hard to measure anybody, any president because there are so many moving pieces. And there are times when you have to be tough. There are times when -- there's times when you give some. There's times when you crack down. It's very hard to -- it's very tough to figure out with the cyber threat in addition to nuclear, chemical and biological. I mean there are lots of people in the world and there are some tribes of some sort and there are a few nations that really wish ill on us and other people. And they have way more weapons at their fingertips.

HARLOW: As we sit here today versus where we were when you and I sat down two years ago, a few days after the election on that front of you know weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, do you feel safer?

[10:50:02] BUFFETT: Well, I feel the world gets ever more dangerous. I mean I think cyber now is a lot different than it was even when we talked a couple years ago. And that is not good. I think the ability of a country or even an individual to inflict massive damage increases and I think that the United States government and other governments around the world -- that's job number one. The economy will take care of itself. But it is a dangerous world with the kind of weaponry, including cyber that is available to the people that wish us ill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: That of course Poppy Harlow with Warren Buffett. And you can see more in Poppy's "Boss Files" podcast. You can subscribe on iTunes today.

Scientists are now saying U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China may have been attacked by microwave weapons. A live report from Havana is coming up next.

But first, here is a sneak peek of the new CNN film "RBG" which airs tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to nominate this path-breaking attorney, advocate, and judge to be the 107th Justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: They may be in trying times, but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women. GINSBURG: What has become me could happen only in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a superhero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known to the world over as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:56:35] NOBLES: A new leading theory has emerged about what could have caused unexplained head injuries to American diplomats in Cuba and China. Researchers now claiming that attackers may have used microwave weapons, some diplomatic staff members were pulled from both countries after they started reported bizarre symptoms. Now, considered linked to brain injuries.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann joins me from Havana, Cuba with the latest. Patrick, this is a fascinating but scary story. What's the latest?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. These researchers have had the difficult task of understanding, figuring out what could cause a concussion when there's no sign among all these diplomats of physical trauma. So they have now, after first saying that it could have been sonic attacks, have now focused on weapons that do exist, microwave weapons.

And they essentially, focus a beam of radioactive energy and the scientists believe that it could cause a concussion-like symptom. It could lead to people thinking they hear the sounds that the diplomats reported. So that at least seems to solve one issue here, which is, is it even possible. This is the first time we've heard scientists who have been consulted by the U.S. government as part of this investigation coming out and saying that they think it's possible. This is the device that could have been used.

But there's still the issue of who could have been behind it and why? The FBI has been down here. They have through these diplomats' homes, hotel rooms they were staying in and found absolutely nothing. The Cuban government has had their own investigation and said there's absolutely no evidence that there was any kind of attacks that took place here.

So it remains a big mystery. There are still many more pieces to this puzzle. And frankly, questions that we may never get the answers to.

NOBLES: All right, Patrick Oppmann with the latest from Cuba on the attack on these American diplomats. Patrick, thank you.

Brazil's 200-year-old national museum in Rio de Janeiro went up in flames Sunday. The museum is said to contain at least 20 million ancient artifacts, including a meteorite discovered in 1784. Government officials say the spectacular fire destroyed some entire collections. Brazil's president says the loss is insurmountable, calling it a sad day for all Brazilians. There are no reports of injuries from the fire. And there's no word yet on what caused it.

A newly released video from June shows a woman in San Antonio allegedly trying to carjack somebody while carrying a baby. State troopers say the woman led them on a high-speed chase before crashing into another car. There she is. That's when the woman jumped out of her SUV, grabbed her baby from the baby seat and police say she then tried to carjack a driver. All while carrying the infant in that seat. She was arrested. The child is now with Protective Services.

Thank you for joining us on this Labor Day. We appreciate you watching. I'm Ryan Nobles. The news continues next with "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan. That starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Happy Labor Day but forget renegotiating or throwing out long standing trade deals like NAFTA. Forget even sitting down and then cancelling negotiations with nuclear adversaries like North Korea and forget about the midterms. The single event that will have the most impact on Donald Trump's legacy and shape the direction of the country for generations to come is happening.