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New Polling Released For The State Of Florida; A Terrifying Scene At A Party In Clemson, South Carolina After An Apartment Clubhouse Floor Packed With Students Collapses; President Trump Now Casting Doubt On Saudi Arabia's Story About The Killing Of Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi; Jamal Khashoggi Has Feared For His Life; Two Crucial Florida Races Are In The Spotlight Russian Lawmaker Warned The U.S. Is Bringing The World Back To The Cold War By Ending A Longstanding Nuclear Agreement. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 21, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:13] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you very much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
It is the final push to the midterms and we are just now 16 days away and the stakes are high with control of Congress on the line. We have new polling just in this hour, giving us a fresh look at what is happening in the key state of Florida. We haven't seen much polling since hurricane Michael slammed into Florida's panhandle. The U.S. Senate race and the race for governor have been intense and almost neck to neck.
Our new CNN polls now showing Democrats have a slight edge in those two main races. CNN's political director David Chalian joining us live now from Tampa, Florida where CNN will host a debate tonight for the governor's race.
So break down the polling for us, Dave.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Fred. Two critical races here, for governor and for Senate. Let's first look at the brand-new numbers from CNN in a new poll conducted by SSRS in the gubernatorial contest between Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum and Florida congressman Ron Desantis.
Take a look at this. We are showing among likely voters, a 12-point advantage for Gillum, 54 percent to 42 percent. Now, I want to say. This does not look like other polls we have seen in this race. This is a bigger Gillum advantage. It's worth noting that every poll in this race since the primary in August has shown Gillum leading. So I have little doubt that he is leading. The question here is, is he leading by that much?
Well this poll be an out-liar or will as we see successive polls, will we see a big Gillum advantage. A month ago Quinnipiac University has another nine-point lead. We have him today in a 12-point lead among likely voters.
It's hard to imagine, you know, Florida hasn't elected a Democratic governor in a quarter century. And when it last did so in 1994, the Democrat won by a point-and-a-half. This is still a big purple state. But that is a big Democratic advantage which speaks to the enthusiasm that we are seeing on the Democratic side.
Take a look at the race according to the gender gap. And I think this helps explain why we are seeing such a big Gillum lead in this poll. Look at that, 60 percent of women are going for Gillum. That is a 26- point advantage over Desantis. And when you look at men, you see that Desantis only has a seven-point advantage among men over Gillum. So that overwhelming support from women is having an impact here.
And take a look at the governor's race broken down by party. You see here that Gillum has consolidated basically every Democrat in the state. That is mostly the case for Desantis. But you see Gillum winning independents here by nine points among likely voters and that is also likely driving him over the top in a big way.
WHITFIELD: Well, those are really encouraging numbers for Gillum, but what about the Florida Senate race?
CHALIAN: Florida senate race, we are also seeing that Democratic enthusiasm that we are seeing nationally play out here as well. We show among likely voters in this poll, a race that is within the margin of error, and will likely remain so, but has Nelson on top with 50 percent to Governor Rick Scott's 45 percent among likely voters.
You should also take a look at the gender gap here. You see that Nelson is winning women by about 16 points here while Scott is winning men by about half as much. He is winning men by eight points. So again, a big female-powered moment here in the electorate in Florida.
And if you look at the race by the issues, I find this so fascinating. Among those likely voters, Fred, who tell us that health care is their top issue, overwhelmingly, they are Nelson voters. If you look at the voters who tell us that the economy is their top issue, they are overwhelmingly Rick Scott voter who boasts a big job growth here during his tenure as governor.
And immigration also plays you see into Scott's favor here in Florida. And that is another important issue in the state. I will say Donald Trump has a 43 percent approval rating in this state among likely voters. And there is also though he is behind in the poll, more good news for Rick Scott in this poll. He gets very good marks on how he handled the hurricane Michael situation that hit this state.
WHITFIELD: All right, all really a fascinating details coming out of that latest polling.
David Chalian, thanks so much. We will check back with you.
All right. Meantime, President Trump is hoping his midterm campaign push will secure Republicans the votes they need to hold control of Congress. He is sticking to talking points that work for his base and driving one very clear message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The choice could not be more clear. Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs. This November when you are voting, vote for the jobs and not for the mobs. Just do it.
The choice for every American could not be more clear. Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs. That's become a hash tag.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:26] WHITFIELD: CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is live for us now outside the White House.
So President Trump not planning to slow down any time soon as he kind of crisscrosses, hoping to, you know, really secure Republican votes.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. President Trump crisscrossing the country in the last few weeks, trying to get an urgent message out to his supporters to prevent a blue wave from hitting Congress in November.
Just next week, the President heads to Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina, all three states with some contested Senate races as well as house races. In Wisconsin, there is a very close governor's race as well.
And when the President is on the stump, he is going all out in his attacks on Democrats, some of which you heard there. Yesterday, in Nevada he suggested that Democrats were trying to help undocumented immigrants secure welfare which should go to needy American citizens. The President also saying something a bit surprising as he was leaving that rally to reporters about trying to pass a surprise tax bill right before the election. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are looking at putting in a very major tax cut for middle income people. And if we do that, it will be sometime just prior, I would say, to November. I would say sometime around the first of November, maybe a little before then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now Fred, there were some discussions shortly after the 2017 tax bill was passed about making tax cuts for the middle class permanent, however getting something passed by November 1st, the chances of that are slim and none. Congress is not even in session. I asked a source on how speaker Paul Ryan's team about this. He referred questions to the White House. I asked the White House about this. Obviously, they have yet to respond, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
Let's pick up from there and talk further with political analysts Karoun Demirjian and Larry Sabado, director for the center for politics at the University of Virginia. Good to see you both. All right. So Karoun, let's begin with you in this, you know, tax
cuts for the middle class by November 1st with Congress not even in session. What does this say about the President's promise on the campaign trail as it relates to that?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, look. The President makes promises on the campaign trail that he has done this before where he said things are going to happen that rely on Congress to actually execute them and they don't. And then, you know, that leads to the next round of the slogans hearing and that trying to convince the public that this is all kind part of the plan and it will happen down the line.
The calendar is off on this one. I think that the coalition depends a lot on what happens on November 6th. But the President at this point, that's very far down the line. His immediate task is to make sure that he keeps as close to Republican majorities in both house of Congress as is feasibly possible and that is why he is making these promises to the people who will vote on issues that he hopes can kind of turn their heads towards the Republicans. And that's all that matters now.
WHITFIELD: And so far, you know, Larry, the President have had, you know, a track record of following through on a lot of his promises. So what is his angle in saying Republicans are, you know, trying to bring up a new tax cut plan in just 16 days?
LARRY SABADO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, first, let's note it's not going to happen, clearly. But he is trying to do what Presidents always do towards a midterm election. He is trying to energize the base. Everything he talks about from Kavanaugh to the caravan and now the tax cuts is designed to get out a larger Republican turn out because on the whole, while Republicans are more energized than they were, they are still lagging Democrats by at least a few percentage points on the energy scale.
WHITFIELD: And Karoun, you know, the President has also taken a very interesting approach with this midterm to campaigning hard and he said outright, this is a referendum on him, the midterms, unless they lose GOP seats. How does that translate to voters?
DEMIRJIAN: Well, again it's an argument that is a self-contradictory argument that may work with his base, but this is what midterms are always about. The first midterm election now is always a referendum on satisfaction with the President. But the President doesn't want a loss to stick to him. So that there has been various (INAUDIBLE) what the President saying, well, it's not his responsibility if people don't take the thumb, the momentum that Trump gives them by coming to their state and campaigning or whatever else and turn that into a win.
It's going to just be -- if the GOP loses, the House majority as seems quite likely. If there is a real wave, then it's possibility the Senate majority that it's less likely then there is going to be some fast pirouetting happening on the Republican side of the aisles to explain what this happened and shore up resources and confidence in the party before you get to 2020 which is when the President himself is up for reelection.
And if they - I mean, if they win, then it will seem likely, you know, that the President can take that and try to run with that and build momentum off of it especially because he doesn't have clear opponents for 2020 himself.
But right now, whatever the President said or doesn't say, it's a referendum on how satisfied the country is with his presidency and he has basically acknowledged that by saying that himself.
[14:10:37] WHITFIELD: And Larry, the President is focused on 2020. He is thinking about that. In fact, he took a swipe at the field of Democrats that could possibly make a run. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hope he is going to be the nominee, actually. I mean, one percent Joe. I just hope they pick somebody good, somebody that is going represent their interest. If it's Biden or Elizabeth Warren, I think she has been very badly damaged by what happened over the last couple of days or a man that ran Newark, New Jersey into the ground. A lot of people. But I don't see it yet. But we will see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: He is talking about, you know, Cory Booker, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
Larry, is this, you know, smart for the President to spend his time in this manner, talking about potential opponents?
SABADO: Obviously, he shouldn't be focusing on the election that is just two weeks away. I'm sure other Republicans wish he would do that, but you can't expect him to hold back. He declared for reelection on the day he was inaugurated. He has raised $100 million which is absolutely unprecedented for his reelection before the midterm is even held.
So clearly, he is already thinking about 2020. And one gets the impression he can't wait to jump in and start attacking all of these Democrats on a regular basis.
WHITFIELD: And at the same time, you know, CNN poll of polls show the President's approval rating is up now to 44 percent, Larry. How does he use that to his advantage potentially?
SABADO: He is using it right now because that enables him to communicate with more voters in favor of Republicans at the midterm because it's always a referendum. A midterm is always a referendum on the incumbent President.
You know, he is up for a lot of reasons. I think fundamentally because there is a bit economy. But let's remember, he got 46 percent of the vote on Election Day 2016. He is at 44. Arguably, the most optimistic poll I have seen today, 47. He is still around 46 point that he got in November 2016. So I don't think all that much has changed.
WHITFIELD: All right. Larry Sabado and Karoun Demirjian, we will leave it there for now. Thanks so much.
DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And CNN has, of course, special coverage of the Florida governor's race that no one predicted. See Republican Ron Desantis spar with Democrat Andrew Gillum live tonight at 8:00 eastern right here on CNN.
All right. Still ahead, the Saudi foreign minister claims Jamal Khashoggi's death was a quote "rogue operation." And the crown prince knew nothing of the plan, but lawmakers are not buying that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Just to be clear, you don't have any doubt that the crown prince is behind this?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, look. Again, Jake, my sense is that he is behind it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Plus, terror at a party in Clemson. What happened when the floor of an apartment complex clubhouse came crashing down.
[14:17:49] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A terrifying scene at a party in Clemson, South Carolina after an apartment clubhouse floor packed with students collapses.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
WHITFIELD: That is really frightening. Students and local residents were celebrating homecoming weekend when the floor gave way as officials tell us it could have been much worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Celebration turns to terror in Clemson, South Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The floor broke!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a little at two feet from where it happened and like 50 people just fell straight through the floors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty people were injured when the floor of an apartment clubhouse collapsed during a party, sending people tumbling to the basement. Amazingly, one was trapped and no one suffered any life-threatening injuries.
JEREMY TESTER, COLLAPSE WITNESS: Every took minutes for firefighters to there and police to get there (INAUDIBLE). I mean, I did see like people that really were held there for a long time. Some people was like holding their arms and like I saw people with bloody legs and stuff like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clemson police say, most of the injuries were broken bones and cuts.
CHIEF JIMMY DIXON, CLEMSON POLICE: It could have been a whole lot worse. There could have been entrapments. There could have been deaths involved. But any time that you have got people that are trying to have a good time, any time that you have people that are there trying to enjoy themselves and then the next thing you know, the floor collapses, you can take it from there.
WHITFIELD: The university has released a statement saying an investigation is ongoing, but they are encouraged by reports of no serious injuries.
Clemson University President Jim Clemons tweeted the following about the incident. I'm monitoring the situation and my thoughts and prayers are with all who were injured. Our entire student support system will be available for any student impacted.
All right. Still ahead, a rogue operation. The Saudi government downplaying the death of a "Washington Post" columnist as a mistake that should not have happened. But it doesn't appear President Trump is buying that explanation. Details on a new report, next.
[14:24:43] WHITFIELD: President Trump now casting doubt on Saudi Arabia's story about the killing of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. In an interview with "the Washington Post," the President now says, quoting now, "obviously there has been deception and there has been lies."
But in that same interview that was conducted on the phone, the President praised the monarchy as quoting now, "an incredible ally." When asked about whether the crown prince may have ordered the killing of Khashoggi, Trump said "nobody has told me he is responsible. Nobody has told me he is not responsible. We haven't reached that point. I would love if he wasn't responsible," end quote.
Well, today, Saudi Arabia claimed a rogue operation was behind the killing, which U.S. lawmakers seriously question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:25:34] TAPPER: Just to be clear, you don't have any doubt that the crown prince is behind this?
CORKER: Well, look. Again, Jake, my sense is that he is behind it. You know, I want to see the rest of the documentation and I want to know more about it, but that's my sense. I'm not condemning automatically today. I want this investigation to be completed.
But yes, look. If you sit down with him and I'm sure you have, Jake, he is a very impressive young person. Talking about the future of Saudi Arabia, pushing back against the (INAUDIBLE) there by doing some of the progressive things that they obviously rail against. You know, moving away from solely focusing on fossil fuels to privatizing a ramko (ph), which hasn't occurred yet. But if you listen to his vision of the future, it is very impressive.
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: Saudi has a lot of explaining to do and I think everything should be on the table. The Intel that I have read is obviously not as exhaust in as the Intel that the President sees, but I think the cover stories from the Saudis are a mess. You don't bring a bone saw to an accidental fist fight inside an embassy in Turkey or consulate in Turkey. So the Saudis have said a whole bunch of crap that is not right, accurate, or true. We know that. And we need to have some shared principals about what we are trying to get done if we ally with them in particular ways. Policies flow from that. Arms sale are one policy. They are means, not an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. With me now is John Hudson, diplomacy and National security reporter for "the Washington Post."
Your name is among the byline of a team of reporters who wrote about the President's phone conversation with you all. And again, just repeating the President is saying obviously there has been deception and there has been lies.
So John, welcome. Did the President explain why he is now taking the stance on Saudi Arabia when really just 24 hours earlier he said their explanation of a fist fight and chokehold of Khashoggi was credible?
JOHN HUDSON, DIPLOMACY AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It really is a dramatic turnaround from where he was 24 hours ago. He didn't go into great detail about why he had this change of events, but in all honesty, this is coming as there is a global condemn nation over this Saudi narrative of explaining.
Very few people take this at face value. And so, Trump was a little bit late to this, but in acknowledging the most forceful language today, really, he is only critical language today. He said this is deception and this is lies. And it is clear. But at the same time, he was trying to find a way to defend the crown prince who has been absolutely essential to his son-in-law and seen as sort of a pillar of the Trump administration's Middle East policy.
WHITFIELD: And in fact, you know, you all even asked him about, you know, the relationship between Jared Kushner and the crown prince and, you know, I guess some parallels. And your quote is that he said, you know, they are two young guys. Jared doesn't know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are at the same age. They like each other, I believe. So I mean, it's interesting while the President is advancing his opinion, you know, on being more skeptical of Saudi Arabia, at the same time he is kind of dialing back what was once, you know, something he and others would brag about that there was an incredible relationship between his son-in-law, the advisers to the President and the crown prince.
HUDSON: Yes. That was an extraordinary remark. Because as we have all seen, his son-in-law Jared Kushner has developed a very close relationship with the crown prince. They had many discussions. Many of these discussions happening just between the two men themselves. And so, this very individual, this very cultivated relationship where they worked on Israel-Palestine policy planning, they have also worked on how to counter Iran together. It's very interesting that the President is sort of suggesting that this is not as strong of a relationship. They don't know each other and they are just two young guys.
It doesn't really make the son-in-law look as competent as many people made, but it also sort of excuses the idea that he is invested all of his capital in this one guy who is now under a lot of criticism in the Saudi government structure.
[14:30:00] WHITFIELD: And today, the Saudi foreign minister, you know, placed blame on a rogue operation and claimed that the crown prince had no knowledge of the plan. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: The crown prince denied this. The crown prince is not aware of this. This was an operation that was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, I am just going to, you know, verbalize that again because the audio was a little dicey there. Hard to hear. He said, you know, this was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi. And this was an operation that was a rogue operation. Even the senior leadership of our intelligence was not aware of this.
So it's interesting because he is saying perhaps in one side of his mouth that there was some knowledge of an operation to be under way among the administration, but then it was taken too far. It was exceed.
HUDSON: Yes. This is a really interesting explanation that Saudi Arabia is trying to convince the world. That this was a rogue operation. There is going to be some difficult inconvenient facts that are going to get in the way of this narrative. The Turks have obviously released names and photographs of some of the individuals that flew from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul to conduct this mission. Some of those people have direct ties to the crown prince. And so that's one of the other things that we have been led to believe and told by Trump advisers that leads to the President's skepticism that this could be a rogue operation. Even though, the President was the first one who floated this idea of a rogue operation just a few days ago.
WHITFIELD: So this was a phone conversation that you all had with the President. And we know leading up to the midterms, he has made himself very available to a select, you know, number of news organizations primarily to talk about, you know, and tout his accomplishments and what he has planned for midterms. Did he reach out to you to talk about this or did you all reach out to him?
HUDSON: So we had been working at one of the more detailed reports on how the Trump administration from the inside was looking at how to deal with the Khashoggi incident whether or not to criticize the Saudis or whether or not to go along with the Saudis. And we had a lot of different accounts from advisers, telling us which way they were trying to push him. You know, Lindsey Graham pushing the President to take a harder stance. John Bolton pushing the President to stay close to the Saudis.
And so, when we revealed some of this reporting, you know, to the White House, this got and eventually got kicked up to the Presidential level and that's where the President decided to do an interview with my colleague Josh Doocey on the phone. And really give his first take and really give his most critical take of his assessment on the Saudi explanation over Khashoggi's death.
WHITFIELD: OK. Thank you so much, Josh Hudson. Good to talk to you. Appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: All right. "Washington Post" publisher and CEO Fred Ryan issued a statement, calling the explanation a cover-up. He said the government of Saudi Arabia has shamefully and repeatedly offered one lie after another in the nearly three weeks since Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in the Istanbul consulate. This is not an explanation. It is a cover up. President Trump, Congress and leaders of the civilized world should demand to see verifiable evidence. The Saudis cannot be allowed to fabricate a face-saving solution to an atrocity that appears to have been directed at the highest levels of their government.
Again, that coming from the CEO of the "Washington Post."
So Jamal Khashoggi is someone who had been very close to the Saudi royal court for decades. He actually worked there for a time. And in this last interview with the "Newsweek" reporter that was published this week, Khashoggi said he didn't see himself as opposition, but a reformer who wanted a better Saudi Arabia. But he also said he feared his views could land him in prison or worse.
With me now, Rula Jebreal, the "Newsweek" reporter who interviewed Khashoggi and wrote that article. Thanks so much. Good to see you again.
So Rula, you write, you know, in that "Newsweek" article that Jamal Khashoggi said to you that he feared for his life. Talk to me about the last conversation you had with him, why you decided not to publish what he had to say until now.
RULA JEBREAL, FRIEND OF SLAIN JOURNALIST JAMAL KHASHOGGI: Because I was working on this cover story about Mohammad bin Salam, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. And it was clear from following Jamal's work, it was clear that the Saudis were deeply upset and felt betrayed. It's the way that Saudis treat their citizen. They never see them as citizens. They see them as slaves.
Mohammad bin Salman thought that his people are his slaves. And that's the way he treats them. And I think it's the same way in the mafia because I lived also in Italy. The mafia treated their people Sicily (ph) and elsewhere. So if they feel betray and I think he felt betray and I think Mohammad bin Salman felt betrayed and felt that anybody should work for him and not the other way around. It's a different kind of government and it is a typical authoritarian government.
So usually, if they feel that somebody criticizes them, like the mafia, they will send somebody to silence them and kill them. That is why I decided and I think it was too risky for Jamal to publish his words while he was alive. So I didn't include any of that conversation in my "Newsweek" article in September.
And I was I was hoping against all hope that I would never have to publish his words. However it was clear after from day one when he disappeared and never came out from that consulate that they were trying in any way to discredit him first and that is why they start putting out rumors that he was an opposition member. He was a Muslim brotherhood and other things and sadly even the President's son tweeted those articles trying to discredit Jamal. While it was clear from day one, from my conversation that Turkish, he was dead. So I decided that his words will not be silent about a murder.
[14:36:41] WHITFIELD: My goodness. Well, in his passing, it sounds as though - it appears as though his words are more powerful than ever.
Rula Jebreal, it's a fascinating article in |Newsweek." You have in your last interview with him, you quote him, when you asked him about, you know, why the crown prince wouldn't like reform and quoting now from Jamal, he doesn't see the need for that. So sometimes I feel that he wants to enjoy the fruits of first world (INAUDIBLE) and Silicon Valley and cinemas and everything. But at the same time he wants also to rule like how his grandfather ruled Saudi Arabia.
It's a fascinating last account, one of the last interviews from Jamal Khashoggi.
Rula Jebreal, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, hurricane Michael may affect the midterm vote in Florida in more ways than one as the state scrambles and tries to ensure voters in damaged zones.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:42:09] WHITFIELD: Right now, thousands of migrants are pushing their way north through Mexico. For many the journey stopped short of getting into Mexico and some have even returned home. This is new video showing thousands of migrants moving along a Mexican highway. Many of them tell CNN they are from Honduras. The Honduran government says 2,000 others have returned home where they have been promised jobs.
CNN's Patrick Oppman is near the Mexican city of Tapachula where those migrants we just showed you are actually heading.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Can you hear me?
WHITFIELD: Yes. So Patrick, tell me about the people who are streaming behind you.
PATRICK OPPMANN CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You can see this picture hereof of thousands of people. We have seen this all day long. And this really tells all story. These are people in Mexico who tried to stop just a couple of days ago at that bridge where there was (INAUDIBLE) with tear gas was set off. And instead of stopping, they have continued on. They swim over rivers. They have gone on boats. And they have continued into Mexico all morning. There have been check points. We have seen police along that we have not seen to at least these people. And even though several thousand people have gone apparently home to Honduras, there thousands more coming in to this country with the goal of heading to the United States.
We asked them about President Trump saying that they are dangerous people and they said no, they are just workers. They are people that are fleeing the violence and the poverty of their country and they are hoping to find a better life in the U.S. But of course, they are still hundreds of miles away from that goal of reaching the U.S.- Mexican border.
And just today, it's has been an exhausting journey for them. You have seen kids and mothers. People fainting, going to the side of the road to ask for water. But most of the people we talk who say they are determined. They won't stop until they get to the U.S., Fred
WHITFIELD: And so, Patrick, how are they being confronted when they are, you know, walking? I mean, Mexican authorities, is anyone stopping them and asking them? I mean, they are just, you know, able to traverse here until they get to, you know, a border crossing?
OPPMANN: They are going unimpeded so far. Mexican people have been coming out and giving them water, clothes, helping them any way they can with food. And then the Mexican police this morning, we saw a whole army, really, toward of Mexican police and why they are shoring up and they said they are going to stop the migrants.
But there are so many migrants. You can see that this does not end. It goes on for miles and miles and the police did nothing. I think they were, just frankly outnumber and so far they are letting these migrants continue on their journey north, Fred. WHITFIELD: Wow. And these are incredible aerial images right here,
drone images where you can see just how many people. I mean, far more than the folks that are we are seeing right behind you right there as they make their way north.
All right. Extraordinary.
Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much.
We will be right back.
[14:49:37] WHITFIELD: All right. With the countdown to Election Day just 16 days away, two crucial Florida races are in the spotlight. State officials in Florida are also relaxing voting rules in counties where hurricane Michael is blamed for more than two dozen deaths and levelled entire neighborhoods.
CNN correspondent Rosa Flores has more.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Michael ravaged through the Florida panhandle, damaging or destroying home, roads, public facilities and leaving tens of thousands of people picking up the pieces.
[14:50:09] DAVID JOHNSON, BAY COUNTY RESIDENT: You just take it the way it is. I mean, we are still alive. The house doesn't mean anything. We will build it back or bulldoze it. Whatever.
FLORES: As so many people work to rebuild their homes, there is an added worry. With midterm election is around the corner and so some of the polling places in this Republican stronghold are completely wiped out. Many in this state with razor thin election margins still don't know the location of their polling place.
At stake here, a tight governor's race and Senate match between Senator Bill Nelson and Governor Rick Scott that could help tilt the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
As Governor, Scott actually has the power to help ease the voting process. Something he exercised Thursday when he signed an executive order extending and enhancing the voting options for these eight impacted counties.
The order allowed among other things, additional and alternative voting sites, extension on early voting and relocation and consolidation of polling places.
In some areas, basics like food and water are still being provided by government agencies and communications are still down. So people here unable to call local election officials are finding information online. In Jackson County, for example, the warning is in red bold letters.
Your normal polling location will not be open on Election Day, exclamation point. Instead, this county and others are creating mega centers or mega voting sites with extended voting hours.
And in Franklin County where post offices has doubled as supplied distribution centers, election officials say their mail boxes are full as residents send in their absentee ballots.
As the sunshine state tries to balance election integrity and voting opportunity for Floridians, on election night, Florida is expected to be Florida as usual. A state with nail biting races that captures the attention of the rest of the country.
FLORES: And according to the Florida department of state, they say that there is no report of damaged equipment when it comes to voting machines or other election-type equipment. But Fred, of course, the obvious question here is what about all of those mail in ballots? A lot of folks in this area are mailing in their ballots. So I asked the Florida department of state about that and they said that they are not expecting delays on election night. They tell me that six days before the election, those will be tabulated. They are going to be processed. So we will keep our fingers crossed, hopefully. Florida will not be as nail biting.
WHITFIELD: That's right. You will let us know.
All right, from Miami, Rosa Flores. Thank you so much.
All right. We will be right back.
[14:57:23] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A Russian lawmaker warned the U.S. is bringing the world back to the cold war by ending a longstanding nuclear agreement. This comes after President Trump said the U.S. will terminate the intermediate range and nuclear forces treaty.
CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow with reaction to President Trump's decision.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Fredricka.
Yes, and a lot of anger, a lot of frustration among the Russian government here. You have some Russian politician who earlier today cane out and said that this could have catastrophic consequences not just for the U.S. and Russia, but of course, for the entire world.
The Kremlin also coming out even on a Sunday and saying they are going to want an explanation from the United States. The U.S. however believes that it is not in its interest anymore to stay in this agreement. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S. has long been accusing Russia of violating the INF treaty by developing and deploying medium range nuclear capable missiles. Now President Trump says America is axing the agreement.
TRUMP: We are the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we have honored the agreement, but Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement. So we are going to terminate the agreement. We are going to pull out.
PLEITGEN: During his visit to Moscow in the coming days, national security adviser John Bolton is expected to formally tell the Russians that America is leaving the INF treaty. INF stands for Intermediate Nuclear Forces. The treaty was signed in 1987 between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and ultimately led to almost 2700 medium range nuclear missiles being withdrawn. Experts say, by and large, the agreement has worked.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: It was designed to provide a measure of strategic stability on the continent of Europe by banning missiles of a range between 300 and 3400 miles, both cruise and ballistic missiles. So it really meant to just kind of take the temperature down and resulted in the destruction of literally thousands of missiles and has been in effect ever since.
PLEITGEN: Russia denies violating the treaty and accuses the U.S. of reaching it by developing anti-missile systems.
Vladimir Putin recently making what some felt were troubling remarks about possible nuclear warfare.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In this situation, we kind of expect that someone will use nuclear weapons against us. We do not do anything ourselves. Well, yes, but then the aggressor should still know that vengeance is inevitable. That he will be destroy. And we are the victims of aggression. And as martyrs, we will go to heaven and they will simply die.
PLEITGEN: The U.S. also believes the INF treaty puts it at a disadvantage versus a resurgent China which is not part of the agreement. Another reason the administration said they will pull out of the deal.
[15:00:5] PLEITGEN: And you know, Fredricka, you look at some of the things that the Russians have been saying throughout the course of the day. I think one of the things that they are sort of trying to scope out right now was whether or not this is really a final --.