Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Migrant Caravan Continue March Toward United States; Trump Accuse Saudis of Deception but Defends MBS; GOP and Democrats Condemns Saudi Statement; Trump to End Nuclear Treaty with Russia; Trump Approval Up; Democrat Lead in Florida Gubernatorial Race; Tragic Clemson Football Party; Easing Voting Rules on Typhoon Hit Florida; Taliban Attack in Afghanistan Inures General. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 21, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Thanks, Fred. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with me on this Sunday. We begin this hour with a desperate march north and a White House determined to push the caravan journey squarely to the center of the political debate.

At this moment, thousands of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence have resumed their trek. Just a day after, bearing the sweltering heat to cross a bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico, looking for work, looking for a better life. Many carrying their tiny children in their arms the entire way. Their plight becoming a key political issue as the midterms inch ever closer, now just 16 days away.

And President Trump saying today full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our southern border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first. And if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable.

He went on to repeat one of his favorite falsehoods. "The caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party. Change the immigration laws now." CNN correspondent Patrick Oppman is near the Guatemalan-Mexican border and joins us now. Patrick, you've been following their journey. We've heard about buses now along the highway between Tapachula and Ciudad Hidalgo ready to pick up migrants in the caravan. Where are they going?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, we're in the central plaza in Tapachula and it looks like a migrant camp which is essentially what it has become. These people came streaming in by the thousands, really, this afternoon. And now they are taking a well- earned break.

They're exhausted. It's been a marathon day in incredible heat, walking, carrying their belongings, carrying their children, receiving some water along the way, but not much else. Sometimes hitching rides on the sides of buses, the back of cars, wherever they could. Many people walked the entire way. You can see that they are limping. They're absolutely exhausted. They

have so much more to go though, Ana. We're still in southern Mexico. They probably have another thousand to 1,500 miles before they get to the border in Texas. It is unclear how many people will really make that journey as well.

When they were coming this way this morning, the Mexican federal police came out in force. Over a hundred officers in riot gear, they said they were going to stop this caravan. And then so many people came from the area along the border that they just backed off. They realized it was just too many people to try and control.

So for at least the time being, these migrants, many of them coming from Honduras, have been allowed to enter into Mexico. It's just an open question, how much further they will be allowed to proceed, Ana.

CABRERA: And are they planning to stay in Mexico or is their final destination and goal to reach the U.S.?

OPPMANN: Their goal, most of the people that you talk to here, is to get to the U.S. They feel there's more economic opportunity there. Many of them have relatives. They've heard things about the United States. And of course, when you tell them that President Trump says they're not welcome, that the military might be deployed, that they could have their children taken away from them because so many people you do see traveling with their children.

They say anything is better than Honduras. They love their country, but the economy there is completely bombed out, that it has become such a violent country under this way of gangs that they have no choice but to do what they're doing right now, which is to essentially flee for their lives.

CABRERA: Patrick Oppmann, thank you. It's not just the caravan of migrants that's drawing criticism from the president. He has some new harsh words for Saudi Arabia as well. And his casting doubt on Saudi explanation for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This marks a shift in tone for this president who you'll recall initially called the Saudi story credible.

Now, just two days ago, the Saudis announced Khashoggi died accidently they say during a fistfight inside the consulate in Istanbul. Now, in a new "Washington Post" interview, President Trump expressed his skepticism.

Joining us now, "Washington Post" White House correspondent Josh Dawsey who interviewed the president. Josh, President Trump told you, and I quote, "Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies. Their stories are all over the place." Josh, why haven't we heard the president say that on camera in the past couple of days?

JOSH DAWSEY, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's certainly been saying that privately to his advisers in the last week. When I spoke to the president last night, I asked him about their changing stories, why there was a bone saw, why they said, you know, he actually left the embassy two weeks ago when he clearly did not, why so many folks inside the embassy believed to be part of a killing were so tied to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also known as MBS.

And you could tell the president had seen so many other stories now grow, change, go all over the place and I think he doesn't want to look like he's being played by the Saudis. He knows that so many world leaders, so many people around him in the intelligence community, his advisers don't believe the story and he increasingly is one to say publicly he doesn't either.

[17:05:04] CABRERA: So what is he saying about the crown prince and his potential involvement in what happened to Khashoggi?

DAWSEY: Well, the president continues to maintain that the crown prince may not have known about the attack or may have thought that there was a kidnapping to bring him back to Saudi Arabia. He basically maintained to me on many occasions last night that he has no proof that MBS, the crown prince was involved in the killing or had ordered it to be done, obviously. Not personally involved, ordered to be done.

And he still wants to have a good relationship with him. He said he's a strong leader. He thinks he's the best person to run his country. He said he truly thinks he loves his country and he's tough and that Saudi Arabia, in his estimation, is key to constraining Iran to having arms deals with the United States.

He struck a tone last night with me basically saying what happened he thought was reprehensible. He doesn't believe the story of the Saudis, but he still wants MBS to stay in charge and doesn't know if he knew what was happening or not.

CABRERA: I want to play you what we're hearing from Republican lawmakers, how they're talking about the crown prince, also known as MBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: It's my thinking that MBS was involved in this, that he directed this, and that this person was purposely murdered.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Can you imagine us having a relationship with the Saudi government that's positive if the crown prince is still there?

SEN. THOM THILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: No, I don't think so. I think, again, if the facts lead to what we all suspect they will, I think it will be very problematic for our relationship going forward.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it stretches credulity to believe that the crown prince wasn't involved in this. I think we really need to discontinue our arm sales to Saudi Arabia and have a long and serious discussion about whether or not they want to be an ally or they want to be an enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your reaction to the Saudis' explanation. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't think it's credible

at all. He was clearly murdered in a consulate. Things like that don't happen in Saudi Arabia without people at the top knowing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So josh, does the president disagree with all of them?

DAWSEY: Well, the president said to me last night explicitly on several occasions he's not ready to say publicly what he believes. He says he's still getting information from the CIA, from the State Department. He was not willing to say if he wanted sanctions or any sort of punishment. And he made it very clear to me, Ana, on several occasions that no one has proven to him that MBS was involved.

He says he has not seen or heard any sort of tape or audio and that he's still waiting to make a decision. The president here has been pretty slow to condemn the Saudis now that he has condemned the death. He still has not decided if he thinks the crown prince was involved or not. But, I want to be clear, what the president said repeatedly was that he hopes that MBS was not involved.

He said, I would love it if I found out he was not involved. So you can kind of tell where the president's head is on this situation. He wants MBS to stay in power and hopes there's an explanation that it's plausible that shows MBS did not order this killing.

CABRERA: You have also reported the president has grown frustrated with his son-in-law and senior White House official Jared Kushner. What about on this issue specifically? What about Kushner's role as the White House liaison with the Saudis?

DAWSEY: Well, early in the administration, Kushner was the main point of contact for the crown prince. He orchestrated the president's first foreign trip, which was to Saudi Arabia. It drew a lot of eyebrows being raised. He had lots of calls with the crown prince. This week he's not been in the spotlight as much.

And the president said to me last night on the phone, he described Kushner and MBS as two young men, which was an interesting way to describe that relationship. The president essentially doesn't know MBS that well. He's had a few interactions with him and has dispatched Kushner over their frustration of some of the State Department, some of the foreign policies (inaudible) to hand over this relationship where now it's becoming a real crisis point for the president.

CABRERA: Josh Dawsey, always good to see you. Thanks for your good reporting.

DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.

CABRERA: President Trump praising the crown prince in "The Washington Post" interview, calling him a, quote, "strong person" with, quote, "very good control who can keep things under check." A reminder, here's what the president has said about other controversial strong men, such as North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought that President Putin was very, very strong.

He's got a great personality. He's a, you know, funny guy. He's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I'm surprised by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining us now, Ambassador Kenneth Adelman, the former arms control director for President Ronald Reagan and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Ambassador, so good to have you with us.

KENNETH ADELMAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: With comments like we just played, what is the message President Trump is sending to the rest of the world?

ADELMAN: Well, the message is that he likes strong leaders, even though they're butchers and savages and aggressors and it's very different from traditional U.S. foreign policy that identified strong leaders as good if you're a Democratic and believe in freedom.

[17:10:06] As bad if you are butcher and take a bone saw to people or send them to the gulag like Putin does or have your whole country a gulag like the North Korean leader does. So there's no kind of distinction that Ronald Reagan made all the time between those who like freedom and practice freedom and democracy and those who are just totalitarians like a Stalin or like a Hitler or like a Kim Jong-il or like a Putin and putting them all together, saying they're strong men and we like strong men. It's ridiculous, really.

CABRERA: Well, could the president's sweet talking strategy though have benefits, if it is a strategy here?

ADELMAN: I don't see them. I think the benefit really is to stand up for American values, especially if you're going to be the American president. What better role can you have than to say people want to be free? People should be free. As Ronald Reagan always said, people who are free to choose always choose to be free, OK.

No one likes to live in a dictatorship. No one likes to have concentration camps all around with them -- all around them. And the fact is, if you're an American leader, I think American values are wonderful.

CABRERA: How do you think Reagan would have handled the Saudi situation?

ADELMAN: Reagan -- Donald Trump -- President Trump is the most un- Reagan of presidents I've ever seen. Ronald Reagan was, as I say, for freedom. He stood up to strong leaders. He didn't admire them. He stood up to them. He was willing to sit down with the Russians, but he was also willing to stand up to the Russians. President Trump is just willing to fall in love and justify what Putin does, contrary to his intelligence community.

Secondly, Ronald Reagan was a good Republican. He believed in immigration. He welcomed foreigners here. His office in Los Angeles after he was president had pictures of immigrants all around. He said America is the home of freedom. And he really wanted free trade. He couldn't stand tariffs. And he talked about the smooth (inaudible) bill of the '30s as bringing the depression.

Thirdly, that Ronald Reagan was conservative. He believed in lowering spending and getting a control on spending, standing up against totalitarians. And fourthly, Ronald Reagan was very competent. What he did, what he set out to do, he really did where President Trump, I think, just doesn't know how the government works and is relatively incompetent.

CABRERA: I also want to get your thoughts on President Trump's announcement just this weekend that the U.S. is now going to pull out of this arms treaty with Russia, the INF Treaty. You were involved in the implementation of this treaty during the Reagan years. Do you think the president is making the right move on this?

ADELMAN: No, I think that President Trump likes to trash whatever happened before him. And this was a centerpiece of Ronald Reagan's historical legacy, and it was a wonderful centerpiece of his historical legacy. And it was kind of funny when Gorbachev was in Washington, D.C., to sign the treaty.

I was asked to host a table for a banquet given to Gorbachev and at my table was Donald Trump. I had no idea that he would ever have a political career. He just joined the lunch talk non-stop and told how much he loved the treaty and all that.

CABRERA: Interesting.

ADELMAN: Here we are many years later, him getting out of the treaty. But the fact is while I think it's a mistake and it shows a pattern that he likes to trash every president before him instead of building on what other presidents have done. The real message and the real benefit of the treaty will outlast whatever Trump does with it, OK.

CABRERA: I'm almost out of time, but I do at least want to throw this out there, this idea that the treaty may not have been effective anymore. The U.S. has acknowledged for years that the Russians weren't abiding by the treaty and then there's the concern of the Chinese developing these missiles that the U.S. couldn't necessarily follow suit because of the treaty, but the Chinese weren't a part to the treaty so they didn't have (inaudible).

ADELMAN: Right. I understand those arguments, but the treaty was effective in two ways, Ana. And one was to get rid of the SS-20 missile. I brought a picture for you to see. That really was threatening NATO and threatening Western Europe, the main foreign policy problem of the Reagan administration when he took office. Secondly, the treaty was very effective, and this other chart I

brought and starting a real decline of nuclear arsenals by Russia and by the United States. You look at Reykjavik, Reykjavik Summit was the high point of the arsenals of the United States and the Russia Soviet Union in Russia.

[17:15:04] The INF treaty really -- in a Reykjavik summit in October of 1986 between Reagan and Gorbachev, really did start this enormous decline of nuclear weapons that has benefitted the world enormously.

CABRERA: Ambassador Kenneth Adelman, thank you so much for your perspective. Good to have you.

ADELMAN: You're welcome. OK, Ana.

CABRERA: Sixteen days until the midterm election. And according to a new poll, the president is seeing a surge in his approval. Will Trump -- what will he do to the blue wave? Will it become a blue wall? We'll discuss next in the "CNN Newsroom."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. We are just 16 days away from an election that could change the trajectory of Donald Trump's presidency and the country. In just over two weeks, voters will head to the polls and decide whether Republicans deserve to keep the house and senate or whether it's time for Democrats to serve as a check on President Trump for the rest of his current term in office.

[17:20:06] This critical vote comes as the president sees a surge in his approval rating. A just released NBC-Wall Street Journal poll finds that nearly half of likely voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president. That is a new high for this survey. The big question though, will this translate down the ballot? Take a look at this. The same poll finds that likely voters prefer to see Democrats, not Republicans, in control of Congress.

The poll gives Dems a nine-point advantage. Let's be realistic, though. These numbers are meaningless, right, unless these likely voters turn into actual voters. A high voter turnout could help Democrats, specifically if that includes high turnout from Latino voters. But as of right now, there are some troubling signs. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The push for the Latino vote in Arizona. Volunteers are calling voter cell phones in Spanish. In Nevada, organized labor, most of them Latinos going door to door, but signs that turnout trouble may be looming.

LUIS HERIDA, DNC COMMITTEE MEMBER: The numbers are alarming sometimes, but we got to dig a little deeper.

LAH (on-camera): What do you mean the numbers are alarming?

HERIDA: They're not registering support or they are undecided or like they are holding back on choosing who they're going to vote for.

LAH: A voting bloc Democrats hoped that would surge in the upcoming midterm election.

If the emphasis were put on the Latino vote that's put on, for example, suburban white women, what kind of a game changer would that be?

BETTY GUARDADO, UNITED CARE LOCAL 11: I mean, we would be represented. Right now we're not represented.

LAH: The Latino vote could significantly impact midterm races in these states with high Hispanic populations. After two years of President Trump's animosity from separating families at the U.S.- Mexico border to anti-immigrant rhetoric --

TRUMP: They're not sending their finest, that I can tell you. And we're sending them the hell back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like to vote.

LAH: Some told us they'd just rather stay home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't do nothing for us. It's just that I don't like to, at all.

LAH: You don't feel that you have a say? You don't have more of a say in government if you vote?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No we don't -- the government doesn't help us for nothing.

LAH: The Latino voter turnout rate in midterms has dropped since 2006, so in 2018 candidates across the country are going bilingual on both sides of the aisle. But it's the Democrats who are counting on Latino turnout to win seats in Congress.

Do you feel that the Democratic establishment is paying enough attention to the Latino vote?

HERIDA: Not enough, but there are inroads. Little by little, I think we're getting to the numbers and by them paying attention, then you can motivate them to turn out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: That was Kyung Lah reporting. So, let's talk all about this. With us in Tampa, ahead of tonight's Florida gubernatorial debate, CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston. Here in new York with me CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, and in Los Angeles, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.

Ron, you are our guy when it comes to polls, when it comes to stats so I'll start with you. Of all the groups, if it's Latinos who feel like they don't have a reason to vote, should Democrats be worried? RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean -- but it

is a common problem. I mean, Latino turn out is a problem the Democrats have simply not solved in really in any election. And in midterm elections, it's a bigger problem than even in the presidential year. We do not see turnout rise in 2016 despite all the provocations of Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Do you think it's because Democrats have taken their vote for granted?

BRWONSTEIN: I think it's more than that. I think there are all sorts of questions about how to engage this community that no one has fully, I think, sorted out. It's not clear to me that more money would necessarily solve these problems as mechanically as some of the advocates argue.

I think that it's part of, you know, out of the larger story, if we're looking at two weeks out. We are really headed for two different elections to a degree that is very unusual in a midterm. In metro, diverse, white-collar America, I think all the signs are pointing toward a significant repudiation of the president and Republicans.

But outside of that, in small town, blue collar, ex-urban (ph) America, it's more going to be doubling down. There may be Democratic inroads, but not many. And it is possible that we will have just two utterly divergent results, which by the way, signaled in that Wall Street Journal-NBC poll we can talk about more later.

CABRERA: Let's talk about it right now, Mark. Let's take a look at that NBC-Wall Street Journal poll and let me show you what to find. It finds that voters are more interested than ever before in this election, at least since 2006 when this question was first asked. Does that translate to high voter turnout?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly does and you know, we're at a point in the election right now where you are starting to see all of America, all of voting groups starting to really dial in and pay attention to what's going on.

[17:25:09] In many ways, you'd think that what we're seeing on the Republican side, certainly with conservatives, is that even if they don't like Donald Trump, even if they personally don't like how he's acted, what he's said, his attitude towards women, what they do like is that they do like the economy, how it's humming along.

They do like the unemployment rate below 4 percent. They do like the fact there are more jobs coming now than we saw, say, two years ago when President Trump took office. And of course a lot of that is because of economic roller coaster that we live on anyway. But I do think that that's why we're seeing a tightening across the country.

We're seeing President Trump's numbers look better. I think Ron is absolutely right and makes a very good point. We're going to see two different elections take place and it's really going to be stark, certainly in this midterm. In addition to that, we're going to see different results depending on

different races for instance in Florida here with the gubernatorial race that's happening. What's going to happen overall statewide could be entirely different than what happens then down in South Florida. So, there could be, you know, certainly a lot at stake a certainly a lot at stake where I stand right now.

CABRERA: Voters were asked, what was the most important factor in their vote? And here they are in order. Number one, economy and jobs. Number two, health care. Number three, changing how things work in Washington. Number four, looking out for the middle class. Number five, immigration. Tim, does any of that surprise you?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, it doesn't surprise me. And in fact, one of the reasons why Democrats are doing better in the farm states and have a chance at getting at least one seat in Kansas and doing better in some of the farming parts of Illinois. Is that the Trump policies have hurt people in farm states. The trade war has hurt them. So, it doesn't --it's actually not surprising (inaudible) that's what we usually expect.

CABRERA: So the economy could be a blessing or a bane --

NAFTALI: Well, one thin to keep in mind is that the president is doing far less well for someone with a very strong economy. It shows you the Trump effect actually suppresses his vote. Ordinarily with the kind of economy we're enjoying at the moment, the president should be much more popular, and Republicans should be doing much better.

One of the things I've noticed with concern is that you have "The New York Times" Sienna polls, which are these live polls. Now, granted, they're of a small segment of people, only 500 people respond. There are a lot of undecided in places where Democrats have to win if they want to get to the magic number 23 to take control of the House. It's interesting that there is apparently so many undecided people at this point, after all the talk we've had about the midterms.

CABRERA: That is really interesting. You know, one of the things we're now talking about is the deficit, Ron, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about it earlier this week. He blamed it on Medicare, Medicaid, social security, not the fact tat his party gave massive tax cuts. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's very disturbing and it's driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular -- Medicare, social security, and Medicaid. That's 70 percent of what we spend every year. There's been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully at some point here we'll get serious about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Ron, is cutting social security, Medicare, Medicaid, the message Republicans want to run on two weeks before midterms? BROWNSTEIN: A rare -- it's an unforced error by the senate majority

leader. I mean, he's making the Democratic case. I mean, the Democratic case has been that with justification, that the magnitude of the tax cuts that Republicans passed will eventually require them to go after Medicare, social security, and certainly Medicaid, which they proposed to massively cut as part of the ACA repeal.

So, Mitch McConnell is certainly giving them their argument that as long as Republicans control the majority, those programs are in danger. Can I just underscore though, it's funny that the poll says that the economy is the number one issue. I don't believe that's the way it's playing out.

I believe values and the assessment of President Trump is (inaudible) because Republicans are having more trouble in white-collar suburbs that are thriving than they are in blue-collar places where, you know, getting by from paycheck to paycheck is still the reality. In 2010 and 2014, Republicans ran in the exit polls in the House races roughly six points better among non-college whites than among college-educated whites.

In this election, the Republicans are running 23 points better among non-college and college-whites. And that really underscores the prospect that we will have, as I said, two different elections that is really a turning, a splitting, dividing along attitudes about Trump and really the values that he represents and that he has brought into the political debate. And we're going to come out of this election I believe with the sense that we are really looking at two very different countries.

CABRERA: I want to home in right now on where you are, Mark Preston, because this is a race the entire country will be watching, this race for governor in Florida. Brand new CNN polling shows Democrat Andrew Gillum is up right now by 12 points. Mark, you're there for the Florida debate between Gillum and DeSantis. What is behind this big lead?

[17:30:00] PRESTON: Well, a couple things. One is we're seeing right now is one of two things. We're seeing Democratic enthusiasm, what Ron is talking about at this point. Democrats coming together, certainly getting behind Andrew Gillum, who was somebody who is not expected to win the Democratic primary.

He was a long shot to win it. But now we're seeing a coalescing behind that. At the same time though, you know, this poll seems to follow the voter model that we're seeing develop here in Florida, but at this point, let's put away the numbers. The fact is that this race is still very close. It's going to get closer as we get more to election day.

It's also a race that really, really gives a good illustration of what we're seeing in politics all across America. You have Ron DeSantis, the congressman, who has been backed by President Trump. President Trump's backing helped him win the Republican primary.

President Trump has consistently said that he's backing him including yesterday. We'll see him here in Florida shortly as well for Congressman DeSantis. And then you have Andrew Gillum on the other side who is the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who have backed him. He has brought together the Democratic Party.

These are two men with two absolutely different governing visions who will be on stage tonight, the first time that they have ever, ever met. And if you're wondering, really, what the state of politics are in America, is to watch this debate tonight. It will give you a good understanding.

CABRERA: And Gillum said if he goes there, I'm going to go there talking about the debate potentially turning nasty. I think a lot of people are going to be tuning in to see what the tone is along (ph). Thank you, Mark Preston, Ron Brownstein, Tim Naftali. Good to have you all with us. Make sure to watch the Florida governor's debate between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis. Jake Tapper moderates live tonight, 8:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

Terrifying video from Clemson University, look at this. The floor gives way during homecoming celebrations injuring at least 30 people. We have the latest on the victims and how the university is responding. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."

[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: A Clemson football celebration went terribly wrong when the floor gave way during a party at an apartment complex clubhouse. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: About 30 people were hurt, mostly with broken bones and lacerations, we're told. None believed to be life threatening injuries. Polo Sandoval has been following this for us. Polo, it sounds like this could have been much worse.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you say just now, that's incredible. In fact, those injuries were not life threatening, that's what officials are really just surprised by especially when you see the video. This is part of what was supposed to be -- a part of a homecoming celebration. But instead, as you're about to see in a single instant, things took a terrible turn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL (voice-over): These are the seconds before a packed party took a terrifying turn in Clemson, South Carolina. The video, shot just after midnight Sunday, shows dozens of dancers jumping in unison to the music before falling through the floor. They were attending a private party inside a clubhouse of an apartment complex.

Young party goers are seen plummeting into a basement below. The remaining revelers stood on what was left of the floorboards while others tried crawling to safety. On CNN's "New Day," witness Jeremy Tester remembered being two feet from the dance floor when it gave out.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JEREMY TESTER, WITNESS (via telephone): When the song came on, everybody was like getting rowdy, jumping around. You can definitely -- as you her the floor like about to go through like (inaudible) and I guess nobody really thought (inaudible) they just kept going.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Thirty people were sent to area hospitals with injuries, including broken bones and lacerations. Clemson's police chief says amazingly none of the injuries were life threatening.

JIMMY DIXON, CLEMSON CHIEF OF POLICE: It could have been a whole lot worse. There could have been entrapments. There could have been deaths involved.

SANDOVAL: Investigators now looking for a cause of the collapse, looking at factors like capacity of the room and its structural integrity. Property management tells CNN the complex was built in 2004.

(EN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: We should mention that this apartment complex where all this happened, Ana, is about three miles off campus here. So this was not an event that was sanctioned by the campus. But nonetheless, the leader of that educational institution is speaking out, obviously expressing his thoughts and prayers for the injured here.

Jim Clements, the president of Clemson from the university is saying that they are still making a lot of resources available to these students because yes, according to the information we have, they will make full recoveries from their injuries, but really, it's that emotional trauma, what they experienced certainly this morning may be really tough to get over.

CABRERA: So unnerving. Thank you Polo Sandoval for that story.

Hurricane Michael decimated parts of the Florida panhandle just weeks before election day. We'll tell you how Florida is now working to make sure residents can vote in just 16 days.

[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Midterm elections now just 16 days away. And voters in Florida will be casting ballots in two critical elections. First, the race for senate -- Republican Governor Rick Scott is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. And it is a tight race, as you can see at the latest CNN polling shows Nelson up by five points with likely voters.

Now, the fight to replace Scott in the Florida Governor's Mansion is also a big one. Democrat Andrew Gillum leads Republican Ron DeSantis by 12 points. In that same CNN poll, there's still time for the race to change and sometimes events out of both party's control can have an impact.

Remember, a lot of people are still dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Michael that hit Florida less than two weeks ago. And Rosa Flores is joining us now from Miami. Rosa, how much of a difference could we see because of the storm?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, it's devastating. Some of the folks in these eight counties that were most hard hit have lost everything. Some of the polling places were completely wiped out from the face of the earth. And according to the latest figures that were released by the state, in counties like Bay County, 33 percent of the cell service is still down.

And in Jackson County, 78 percent of the people still don't have power. So they're still dealing with a lot of the recovery issues that people deal with after a storm. That's why it was paramount for this state to ease voting for those folks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[17:45:03] FLORES (voice-over): Hurricane Michael ravaged through the Florida panhandle, damaging or destroying homes, roads, public facilities, and leaving tens of thousands of people picking up the pieces.

DAVID JOHNSON, BAY COUNTY RESIDENT: You just take it the way it is. I mean, we're still alive. The houses don't mean anything. We'll build it back or bulldoze it, whatever.

FLORES: As so many people work to rebuild their homes, there is an added worry. With midterm elections around the corner and some of the polling places in this Republican stronghold 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 a senate match between Senator Bill Nelson and Governor Rick Scott that could help tilt the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm OK.

FLORES: 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, extensions 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 doubled as supply distribution centers, election officials say their mailboxes 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES (on-camera): Now, we do have a bit of good news. According to the Florida Department of State, none of the voting machines, Ana, none of the voting equipment or election equipment was damaged.

CABRERA: Still can't get over those images. Rosa Flores, thank you for that report.

We have some breaking news we're following in the newsroom. We now know details of a U.S. general who was one of the wounded in an insider attack on Thursday in Afghanistan. That's ahead, live in the "CNN Newsroom."

[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: We're following new developments out of Afghanistan, learning that an American general was among those wounded in an insider attack on Thursday. U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was shot in that attack outside Kandahar Palace. Two Afghan officials were killed in this attack. Ryan Brown is joining us now from Washington. Ryan, first up, how is General Smiley doing?

RYAN BROWNE, CN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Ana, we're told he's recovering from his gunshot wound in Afghanistan and that he is still in command. Now, general Smiley is a fairly senior officer. He oversees the U.S. and NATO military advisory mission there in southern Afghanistan and he is based in Kandahar and oversees U.S. and NATO advisers there ans some of the surrounding provinces.

And it just gives you a picture of how senior this meeting was that this attack occurred shortly after. This high level meeting between General Smiley, General Scott Miller, the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan was present as was senior officials from Kandahar.

So a very high profile meeting that came under attack. And again, we reported earlier that General Miller, the most senior general in Afghanistan withdrew his side arm during this attack. So, it was very heated moment, a very dangerous moment for some very senior leaders.

CABRERA: The Kandahar police chief died in this attack. The Taliban says he was the target, but as you mention another U.S. general, General Scott Miller actually pulled his side arm. He didn't fire, however. But what does all of this say about the security situation there right now?

BROWNE: Well, Kandahar has been one of the more relatively stable provinces and this police chief, Raziq, was seen as a key U.S. ally. So his death raises questions about that part of Afghanistan. But Afghanistan was actually readying for nationwide parliamentary elections.

And General Miller, the day after this attack, was seen on the streets of Kabul, meeting with local security forces, kind of checking on how they were doing with regards to safeguarding the elections. Now, there were several security incidents but several million Afghan citizens turned out to vote despite the threat of violence.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Browne, thank you for that reporting.

They have walked for hundreds of miles, faced tear gas and unbearable temperatures. Entire families so desperate they resort to jumping off bridge, floating on rafts across the rivers separating Mexico and Guatemala. We'll take you inside what it was like for one family to make that dangerous crossing into Mexico, next.

[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Hello on this Sunday. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Anan Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us. They marched for miles. Faced police and riot gear and tear gas. Some even jumped off a bridge or rode makeshift rafts, all in hopes of a better life.

Tonight, a migrant caravan is resuming a long, treacherous journey north trying to cross the Guatemalan-Mexican border on their way to the United States. President Trump has warned they won't be allowed in and that he will cut aid to countries that don't stop their progression.

He tweeted this earlier today, "Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our southern border. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first. And if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away."

The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable. CNN's Bill Weir has been covering this caravan and filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

[18:00:03] BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 24 hours, stuck on a bridge between nations, the caravan finds another way. Most go back to the Guatemala side, they pay a few pesos for an inner tube --