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CNN Poll Cruz Leads O'Rourke Despite Fundraising Record; Hurricane Death Toll Jumps by Nine in Bay County Florida; USA Gymnast Interim Chief Steps Down After Anti-Nike Tweet; Susan Rice's Son a Trump Supporter Drops Assault Charges; 53,000 Mostly Black Voters Registrations on Hold in Georgia. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they feel that it would be wrong to then disperse that money into other campaigns. So, the O'Rourke campaign while pushing back on all of this -- all of this unfolding as -- well, we mentioned -- O'Rourke has some nearly $30 million left in the bank to spend over the next three weeks, Ted Cruz has just $11 million to spend over that same time period.

And this race has really been fascinating to watch over the last few weeks, Brooke. Ted Cruz has simply embraced fully Donald Trump, his agenda, all the positive aspects of it. Ted Cruz, despite that fiery relationship that he had with the President during the 2016 primary and the campaign, he has fully embraced the Trump agenda and is wrapping himself up in all of that and looking for those conservative Republican voters here in Texas to turn out. The Cruz campaign feels if they do that, they win.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It can't be personal. It can't be about your own feelings because you've got a job which is fighting for Texans. And if I allowed my feelings to get hurt and for me to go off and pout, I think that would be selfish. I think that would be not doing -- you can't do the job that the voters of Texas have charged me to do if I'm putting my own personal feelings above getting the job done.


LAVANDERA: Beto O'Rourke has been hesitant to fire back at a lot of this. But last night here in San Antonio offering some of his harshest critiques that we have seen and we expect more of that tonight. And one final note, Brooke, President Trump has announced he will come campaign for Ted Cruz here next Monday. A month ago, the President had said he was going to rent out the largest arena they could find here in Texas to hold that rally. And despite professional football stadiums, MBA regions, even high school football stadiums that fit tens of thousands of people, they have found a stadium that fits just 8,500 people in the Houston area for next month -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Ed, thank you. And San Antonio will look for you and your coverage tonight after this debate. Don't miss CNN's live town hall with Texas Senate candidate, Beto O'Rourke, Dana Bash moderates. That is this Thursday at 7 p.m.

Some more sad news out of Florida now. Nearly a week after hurricane Michael destroyed parts of the panhandle, we are now learning the death toll has risen by nine in Bay County -- one of the areas hardest hit. This comes as people in Mexico Beach are finally being allowed to return home, whatever homes are left. Mexico Beach was -- as you know -- the hardest hit area from this storm. With me now on the phone, Linda Albrecht, a council woman from Mexico Beach. Lynda, it'll be nice to hear your voice. Because I know it's been about a week since you and I chatted. You were telling me about your husband who you lost in November before and you were going through this alone and you were hearing that your home may be gone. You've now gone back. What did you see?

LINDA ALBRECHT, COUNCIL WOMAN, MEXICO BEACH (via phone): Nice to talk to you again, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

ALBRECHT: I did go back Sunday and I was fortunate enough to have some pictures prior to. And I do not have a home. It is gone. I have rubble and so I have been since Sunday, yesterday and I started going through and pulling out just things that weren't broken or cracked or just things. And I call them treasures. And I feel very fortunate and then again, I feel guilty because there are so many people that have a slab for a house or their house is in the water. So as elated as I am about a dish or crystal water pitcher that I found 20 feet below where it was supposed to be and it was whole. Now go figure that. How does that happen? And then I just feel guilty because my friends, they don't have that at all. Nothing.

BALDWIN: Yes, I met a number of people, I was there all of the end of last week, you know, and I met a number of people who lost just absolutely everything. And to hear you say you feel guilty because you were able to find some precious pieces among your rubble I think just speaks volumes. Can you tell me some of these treasures that you've managed to find? What did you get?

ALBRECHT: The first day, I came Sunday, the first day I found -- believe it or not four crystal vases. And they were all up on my floor and these were all on the ground. Not broken, not cracked, nothing. And then over yesterday and later on I found a Hummel ashtray that was down to the ground.

[15:35:00] And a crystal water pitcher, I found all of my good silverware and all of my good dishes, it's a set for 18. I found him all of that unbroken.

BALDWIN: It's incredible. It's incredible. And I know that, you know, you've lost so much. So many people there have. And I read that you told my producer that despite it all, despite everything you've been through that you feel blessed. I am glad you're OK. Linda Albrecht, I had been wanting to talk to you for an entire week. And I think you so much for jumping back on the phone. The good folks I met in Mexico beach are never far from mind. So, I'm just thinking of you all and thank you so much. ALBRECHT: Well, think you. And we encourage people to not forget

about us. We're tiny and tiny but don't forget about us. Because we have a long road ahead of us. They're saying 12 to 18 months before infrastructure is here. So, who knows.

BALDWIN: We'll be in touch with you. I can make that you promise. Linda, thank you. Take care.

ALBRECHT: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just in to us here at CNN, the head of USA gymnastics has just stepped down after a controversy over some tweets she sent slamming Nike. Details on that next.


BALDWIN: Just in, USA gymnastics interim chief Mary Bono stepping down amid a massive firestorm. She was the one who was named interim President and CEO only last Friday, but a controversial anti-Nike tweet set off all kinds of backlash, namely from Olympic champ and star Simone Biles. Biles ripped Bono for criticizing Nike just days after the company announced its ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. Bono's tweet was a photo of her blacking out the Nike logo on her golf shoes. So Biles -- who keep in mind is sponsored by Nike -- fired off with this tweet, "mouth drop, don't worry, it's not like we needed a smarter USA gymnastics President or any sponsor or anything." Ouch. With me now CNN's Jean Casarez. So, she's stepping down. What more do you know?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been so difficult for USAG because they had someone appointed before Mary Bono that was actually was let go. And now it was a very big deal because Mary Bono not only was a United States representative for 15 years out of California, but she was a gymnast herself. She is a practicing lawyer now with a firm. And that's where it all gets a little gray and dicey. And Aly Raisman sent a tweet out yesterday -- one tweet -- saying that Mary Bono is with a firm that represented USAG and actually sided with Nasar. Something the firm contests. They say that they were very fair and everything they did. But that is really what started out this firestorm.

So now, USAG once again, does not have the head of their organization. Mary Bono just minutes ago saying something very, very emotional. She said, it was with regret, angst and anger that she is stepping down because she herself as a young gymnast witnessed firsthand the assault of gymnasts and in her experience those that agreed and participated in the assault even unwillingly, got ahead in gymnastics. Those that did not didn't get ahead. And she was someone that remained silent. And she felt that with her strength and her passion to right wrongs, that she could have effective in this organization. But once those tweets came out it was a firestorm and she said now for on behalf of USAG and for the good of the organization to come I must resign.

BALDWIN: Look at the power of Simone Biles and her voice in this whole thing. Jean Casarez, thank you very. Coming up next, the Trump-supporting son of former Obama national

security adviser, Susan Rice, says he was assaulted at an event to support Justice Brett Kavanaugh and now he's made a decision on whether to press charges.


BALDWIN: The son of former Obama administration official, Susan Rice, has decided to drop charges against a fellow Stanford student. Unlike his mother, John David Rice Cameron is a Republican and a Trump supporter. And he says he was assaulted during an event celebrating Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. CNN's Dan Simon explains what happened.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stanford College Republicans posting videos showing their signs being ripped off and members harassed as the group held an event on campus last week celebrating Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

And things got even more heated after the group's president, John Rice Cameron claimed he was assaulted, shoved by a fellow student, the student cited for battery. Though Rice Cameron wasn't injured the otherwise minor skirmish earned national headlines because his mother happens to be Susan Rice, a high-profile veteran of both the Clinton and Obama administrations. She served as both national security advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama. And was considered as a possible replacement for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. She also attended Stanford, but her son is carving out a separate and opposite political identity.

JOHN RICE CAMERON: To me, the only opinion that matters is yours. That's why I'm asking for your vote.

SIMON: This was John Rice Cameron in high school running for student body president. Today, the Stanford junior is a proud Trump supporter. His first event as president of the school's College Republicans was to hold an event billed as make Stanford great again. Trump is great, build the wall, deport criminal illegals, guns save lives, said the post on Facebook.

This from the progeny of one of the country's most prominent liberals, Susan Rice. In fact, while her son and others were celebrating Justice Kavanaugh's victory, Rice took to Twitter, responding to the query.

[15:50:00] Who wants to run for Senate in Maine -- referring to Susan Collins pivotal vote. There will be an army of supporters with you. Her response, me. She is now officially considering a bid.

As for what happened at Stanford, both Rice and her son declined to comment. But in an interview last year with "Stanford Politics", Rice said her political differences with her son did not mean a split in the relationship. Quote, I love him very much, and I'm very proud of him, she told the student magazine. And even though we may differ on substantive issues, many substantive issues, not all, that doesn't get in the way of my ability to support and encourage him and love him the way you hope any parent would.

Late Monday night, Cameron Rice decided to drop the charges. The Republican group says it was to defuse campus tension. Ben Esposito, treasurer of the Stanford College Republicans, says, it's not easy being a conservative on campus, but that conflicts like this only strengthen their resolve.

BEN ESPOSITO, STANFORD COLLEGE REPUBLICAN TREASURER: We're not going to be intimidated by what others think. We state our beliefs. We put them out there respectively and we're just trying to create dialogue.

SIMON: Well, as we've seen on some liberal campuses, like Berkeley and now Stanford, conservatives, Trump supporters, they can run into trouble. They could be subject to scorn. They can be harassment. But as for Stanford College Republicans, they have no future events planned, Brooke, but say, stay tuned -- Brooke.


BALDWIN: Dan Simon, thank you for that, at Stanford.

Back to our top story, President Trump repeating again that Saudi Crown Prince denies any knowledge of the murder of "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, despite grim new details emerging on how he was killed. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how can you endorse a candidate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still on my property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wanted a picture? You wanted a picture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me my phone back, senator.


BALDWIN: This is video of Georgia Senator, David Purdue snatching a student's phone after being asked a question about a voting controversy in his home state. George's candidate for governor is accused of trying to suppress the African-American vote. A civil rights group is now suing Brian Kemp after an Associated Press report found more than 50,000 voter registrations in Georgia are on hold, 70 percent of those pending applicants are black.

Kemp is the current Secretary of State who also oversees elections in the state of Georgia. He is in the midst of this neck and neck race with Stacy Abrams, the Democrat here, trying to become the nation's first African-American female governor and the first black governor in Georgia. Kemp denies he's targeting minority voters and refuses to step down. He says the pending voters filled out sloppy paperwork but will be allowed to cast their ballots if they show up to the polls with a valid photo I.D.

So, Cathy Cox is with me now. She is a Democrat and the former Secretary of State in Georgia. So, Cathy, thank you so much for being with me. For folks who are not following this quite as closely as I know you are, could you just explain to me what exact matching is?

CATHY COX, FORMER GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Brooke, these matching laws are not a new thing. But they have become particularly aggressive under secretary Kemp. What happens is that when a voter registers to vote in Georgia, their registration must exactly match certain databases, whether it be a driver's license database or social security databases. And if there are any discrepancies, whether it's one letter in the name or a hyphen in a name or a space in a name, their voter registration is bumped out and not put into active voter registration status. So that's where we have the 50-plus-thousand voter registration forms now that have not been put into active status, because of some discrepancies between these databases.

BALDWIN: Got you. And so, this whole notion of holding up 50,000- plus voters, I know how it looks. But is it legal?

COX: Well, it is legal. But to give you just a quick history, Secretary Kemp and his predecessor, the secretary who followed me, Karen Handle, both tried to implement this process administratively. And the court stopped that process. So, in 2017, they persuaded the Georgia General Assembly to implement a law that actually requires this type of matching process now. So, it is the law in Georgia that voter registration forms have to go through this matching process. That is the subject of the lawsuit that's pending right now.

BALDWIN: So, Brian Kemp, as we all know, right, he's the Secretary of State in Georgia, it's his job to enforce state election laws. But he's also the Republican nominee for governor. And his perspective is that this is -- and I'm quoting him -- a crisis manufactured by his Democratic opponent. He is not recusing himself. Cathy, do you think he should?

COX: Well, that's not really my call to make. I was a Secretary of State and ran for governor back in 2006, and I did not resign, but I recused myself from chairing the state election board and removed myself from the oversight of the day-to-day election issues, which would put a candidate in the place that he now finds himself. So, I think any public officer should consider the appearance of impropriety, at the least.

BALDWIN: We can update that. Brian Kemp responded, my opponent's plan is to force Georgia via lawsuit to count ballots from noncitizens. I think hard-working Georgians, not illegal immigrants, should pick their next governor.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being on with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.