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Indicted GOP Rep Hunter Running Anti-Muslim Campaign; More Dignitaries Bail on Saudi Event but Mnuchin Not One; Lindsey Graham Joked on Fox Saying, Terrible if DNA Test Finds I'm Iranian; Record Number of Black Women on the Ballot in Alabama. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 17, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: -- our own merits, character and record this election. May the better man win.

So, let's go the Maeve Reston who's following this race for us. So, Maeve, we pointed to the flyer, but there's more the Hunter's anti- Muslim smears than that. Correct?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right Brooke. This is obviously one of the most conservative congressional districts in California and for a long time no one thought that Duncan Hunter was going to have a competitive race even though he is in the middle of very serious legal troubles. But in the last couple of weeks he has really come out and hit his Democratic opponent hard, essentially suggesting that he is a Muslim, even though he is a Christian. Uploading an ad to his YouTube channel that suggests that Ammar Campa- Najjar has ties to terrorist and would be a security risk if he were in Congress.

And at one of his campaign events just last month he actually talked about, you know, how Campa-Najjar was trying to infiltrate the Congress. So, this is a really ugly turn in this campaign and tells us a lot about the fact that the race is tightening and that Hunter is really feeling the heat. Because so many people in his district do not like the fact that he's been indicted on the corruption charges that you mentioned -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: What about Campa-Najjar though? He did change his name. What's the explanation there?

RESTON: He did. So, he was born in San Diego County. He was raised, he says, by a single mother, who is Mexican American. And so, he has changed his name recently formally to be Campa-Najjar, using her family's name before his father's last name. He's estranged from his father, who has been involved with the PLO. And what Duncan Hunter's campaign keeps bringing up is the fact that his grandfather was involved in the plot -- the terrorist plot to attack Israeli athletes at the Olympics in 1972.

So, there is this family history there, but Campa-Najjar has really distanced himself, obviously, from his grandfather's actions and has said that his father, who he is estranged from, wants peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, but Duncan Hunter is trying to sort of obfuscate and to mix all these issues up and essentially is putting forward a fear mongering campaign in his district suggesting that this is someone with ties to terrorism who would put our security and our troops at risk.

BALDWIN: Maeve Reston, thank you very much on that race. Keep watching it closely for us.

Coming up next, the fallout over the disappearance and apparent murder of a US-based journalist. Prompting everyone from big business to global leaders, to bail on Saudi Arabia. What Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin just said about his decision to attend an investor conference there later this month.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Let's get you back to this story -- this apparent murder of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a known critic of the Saudi government and its crown prince. Another major dignitary is bailing out of Saudi's big economic event, the Future Investment Initiative, Davos in the Desert. The Figures absence puts more pressure than ever on U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Remember he is now saying he'll wait until tomorrow to decide what he does. Plus, the Saudis are suffering losses beyond the conference. To explain let's go to CNN senior national correspondent. Alex Marquardt. And so, Alex, let's just start with -- who is the latest person to bail out on this event?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, as we've seen the Trump administration hemming and hawing over the alleged murder and how to respond to it. We've seen many others wasting little time in distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia.

So, let's start first with the global leaders and that figure you were talking about. The latest big name -- and this is a big blow for the Saudi kingdom -- is Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF. Now in the past she's been close with the Saudi's, but she has called this apparent murder Khashoggi horrifying. Lagarde pulling out of that investment conference, which is due to be held in Riyadh next week. Which was meant to a attract leaders from all around the world.

Instead what we've seen is one after one the list of cancellations has grown. Business leaders like the CEOs of Uber and MasterCard. The heads of banks, J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC and Standard Charter.

Now moving on to politicians. On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans are largely in lock step -- which as you know is very rare. They have been across the board threatening sanctions and other types of punishment. We've seen Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina saying, and Brooke, this is a quote, that he's going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia. He also went so far as to call on King Salman to replace his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as the crown prince. So that's quite dramatic.

And staying here in D.C., the damage goes even deeper. Saudi Arabia is known here for spending millions of dollars across town on lobbyists and on public relations. But a very well-known lobbying group called Grover Park Group announced that they are ending their $150,000 a month contract. Another lobbying company, Harbor Group, is also doing the same. All of that, Brooke, as you know, putting a lot of attention, all eyes

on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

[15:40:00] Who for now is still going to that conference in Riyadh. He said today that he's going to wait until Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, comes back and briefs the President. He'll be making that decision on Thursday and it will be a real indication of how the Trump administration plans to treat this relationship with the Saudis going forward -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll wait for it tomorrow. Talking to Rana Foroohar a second ago. Does he go or not? She was just saying, my goodness, that would be stunning if he still does despite all of what's been going on. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for that.

Coming up next, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham responding to criticism after he made a joke that insulted a number of Iranian Americans. We play it for you. You can hear it for yourself.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Poking fun at Senator Elizabeth Warren's DNA test is getting a lot of mileage. Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is joking about it. On "Fox & Friends" this week Graham announced he is getting a test of his own DNA. And he jokes it might be determine if he is Iranian. And then he laughed and said something that is angering a lot of Iranian Americans. So, if you missed it here you are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come back in a couple of weeks and we'll take a look at who you really are.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'll probably be Iranian and it would be just terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great people, just bad leaders.

GRAHAM: Yes, bad leaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Not everyone was laughing. Social media lit up. Like this tweet. "Both of my parents migrated to the U.S. from Iran along with much of my family. What's wrong with having a Persian ancestry? This comment from Graham and the casual way in which he delivers it and then laughs is really off putting." That was from Oliver Darcy here at CNN, our senior media writer. That was retweeted like 7,000 plus times. This is personal for you.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA WRITER: Yes, I just thought the comment was extremely distasteful. Both my parents, like I said, migrated from Iran to the United States. Much of my family migrated from Iran to the United States. And I know a lot of Persians. I'm part of the Persian community, I know a lot of Persians particularly back in California. When I saw this, I thought it was just extremely off-putting from Senator Graham, just distasteful. I understand that it might have been meant as a joke. I think that's what his office is saying, it was mostly a joke, but it came across as --

BALDWIN: You weren't laughing?

DARCY: No, I wasn't laughing and I don't think it was really funny.

BALDWIN: And when Senator Graham's office did directly get back to you, they say it was a joke. What else did they say?

DARCY: Well, they pointed to this comments last night on "Fox News" and on "Fox News" Graham went on their and he said, yes, this was a joke, anybody who knows me knows that I'm a big ally of the actual Iranian people in Iran but he's a strong critic of the current government, the regime, the religious regime there. And that's an understandable position. I think a lot of Iranians in the U.S. are critics of the current Iranian regime. But the way he said it on Fox and the way he then kind of laughed about it, it just came across as off-putting and distasteful. And I think, you know, he might have been better off just saying, hey, I didn't deliver a joke well, I'm sorry, if anyone is offended and I'm an ally of yours. Instead he's kind of doing this weird thing where he's like, to my liberal friends who may be mischaracterizing me.

BALDWIN: You're not buying it.

DARCY: No.

BALDWIN: Good for you for speaking out.

DARCY: Thank you, Brooke.

Oliver, thank you very much, Oliver Darcy.

Next here on CNN, back to our top story. Turkish investigators wearing hazmat suits walking into the Saudi consul general's residence in Istanbul looking for clues as to what happened to "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. A live report straight ahead.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Women are making moves. Here is just the latest extraordinary example in the military. Lieutenant General Laura Richardson is now the first woman in history to lead the largest command in the U.S. army, also known as Force Com. She will be the acting commander of the more than 750,000 soldiers, and almost 100,000 civilians, and is in the running to get the job permanently. And while this is a first for the U.S. Army, General Richardson is no stranger to breaking barriers. She received her pilot's license at the age of 16, and in 2012, she became the first female deputy commanding general for the first cavalry division. How about that?

Listen, women are setting records in the world of politics this year, as well. As we have been reporting here at CNN, an unprecedented number of women are running for office. Remember the midterms, just 20 days away. And this is the subject of my latest CNN series, "AMERICAN WOMEN IN

POLITICS". I have spent the last few months traveling across the country, talking to so many of these candidates about why they're running, why so many women are standing up and speaking their truths and running now. Why they want to be the change. And in Alabama, it is African-American women who are making history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[15:55:00] BALDWIN (voice-over): Everyone was talking about Alabama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I said, well, we're not getting elected him, we're going to elect Judge Jones and you better watch us on television, because we're going to be the change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing, ma'am? I need y'all support today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not going anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: Be the change!

JAMERIA MOORE, CANDIDATE FOR PROBATE JUDGE: I'm Jameria Moore and I'm an American woman because I'm courageous.

CARA MCCLURE, CANDIDATE FOR ALABAMA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION: I'm Cara McClure, I'm an American woman, because I'm showing up in the world. I probably get if we're authentic.

AUDREY SCOTT WILLIAMS, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, ALABAMA: I'm Audrey Scott Williams, and I'm an American woman, because I am every woman, and we are the change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doug Jones has been elected the United States senator from Alabama.

BALDWIN: In December 2017, history was made. Alabama elected its first Democratic senator in 25 years. And African-American women delivered that win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Now in the wake of that election, a record- breaking 70-plus black women are running for office in this ruby red state, proving that they are a force to be reckoned with.

WILLIAMS: How are you doing? Good to see you. I'm Audrey Scott Williams running for Congress. Yes, for district 2. So, thank you. Thank you.

(voice-over): I started out in employment in training, went into education as a dean of continuing education. And, of course, served sometime in the army as an army reservist. I'm running because I think we're in a crisis. I think we're in a crisis in this country. I think we're in a crisis in Alabama.

MOORE: Jameria Moore, Probate Judge, place two. Thank you.

(voice-over): I mean, it was just a light for me to say, you've been trained to teach conflict resolution. Why are you not using that as a part of saving families?

Elections are hand out of the probate court. Adoptions, wills.

MCCLURE (on camera): Hey, how are you doing?

How are you doing?

My names Cara McClure and I'm running for public service commissioner. Our power bills are too high, we want to work to get it down.

(voice-over): I look at public service commission and realized that poor and marginalized people in communities had never been represented. I thought, I need to change that.

(on camera): We want to work on behalf of the people, not on behalf of the utilities.

(voice-over): We need to have representation, we need to have a seat at the table.

BALDWIN: Marginalized for centuries, black women like Cara, Jameria and Audrey now know they can be the change.

WILLIAMS: The election between Doug Jones and Roy Moore was bigger than either person. It was really, I think, an opportunity as women to say we've conquered the ghosts, put them in a cell, we're holding them back.

MCCLURE: I had not ever campaigned as hard for anybody in my life. We walked, we talked, we knocked, we called.

BALDWIN: But I need to understand what it was at that time that woke something up with black women in this state to say not only do I want to help these people when I want to run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

MOORE: Hey. Good to see you on the campaign trail.

(voice-over): I didn't know exactly what to do, but I started talking to people.

(on camera): Give me a high five.

MOORE: I saw all these women, and I was like, Yes, we're in it. The first meeting, I don't know if they remember, I was like the rallying call. I walked in, I was all fired up. I said, we're going to do this. Let's do it. We'll take over Alabama. And they were like, OK, who is this woman?

BALDWIN: So, you jumped in the car to drive to Montgomery to file. Having raised zero dollars --

MCCLURE: I wasn't planning on running. And then I woke up that morning feeling guilty. Yes.

BALDWIN: Why?

MCCLURE: Because I have so much to offer. I don't want the story to be that because I'm shy, because I don't have the money, I didn't try to achieve more. I was a homeless single mom. Me and my son took turns sleeping in the recliner. And this was my night where I had to sleep on the floor. It was hard. But I was determined. I knew that wasn't my destination. I called a friend so I wouldn't feel guilty and said, will you create a Go Fund Me. The phone started ringing, hey, Cara, come downstairs, I have a check for 500. I have a check for 300. And then a Go Fund Me, and I was like, oh, my God, this is really happening.

WILLIAMS: I think after the Trump election, I got really down. I'm going to go in. A friend of mine would always ask me, when are you running, when are you running. No way, you know? I was in Atlanta at the time where my oldest grandson is, and I asked him, I said, Jacob, grandma is thinking about running for Congress. What do you think? And he just instantly said, do it, grandma. You've got to do it.

I'm excited. We'll see what happens. Either way, it's going to be an incredible journey.

Maybe some way for him represented no ceiling. If grandma can do it, I can do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And there are so many women in Alabama just like those three ladies. Thank you, ladies, so much for talking to me in Birmingham this summer. And if you would like to learn more about these women who could be making history this November, again, the midterms, 20 days away. Please check out my series. It's "AMERICAN WOMEN IN POLITICS." go to CNN.com/Americanwomeninpolitics. Again, that CNN.com/Americanwomeninpolitics and let me know what you think. I'm @BrookebCNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much for being with me here today.

Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.