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Funerals Begin Today for Victims of Anti-Semitic Attack in Pittsburgh; Leaders Decline to Join President Trump During His Visit to Pittsburgh; One Week Left for Voters to Hit Polls for Midterm Elections; Trump Calls Andrew Gillum a "Thief"; Trump to Hold 11 Rallies in Six Days; Trump, Obama to Campaign in Georgia for Gubernatorial Candidates; Jimmy Carter Calls for Brian Kemp to Step Down as Georgia Secretary of State; Ex-DHS Spokesman Slams White House Attacks on Media; Stocks to Stabilize After Wild Monday. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:04] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Today the first funeral services will be held for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. And as their community continues to mourn those 11 lives lost -- you're seeing the faces of some of them there -- President Trump will visit the shaken city today, joined by the first lady, Ivanka, and Jared Kushner.

But the president was looking to send a message of unity. It may not have worked, just in the way that the president wanted or requested. Pittsburgh's mayor tells CNN he will not meet with the president today. The county executive of Pittsburgh County says the same, so does the state's governor.

HARLOW: Also congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle turning down an invitation from the White House to visit Pittsburgh with the president today. Among them, Senate minority leader -- Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

Last night the mayor of Pittsburgh said he tried to tell the White House that the city's priority right now is the families and of course the funerals, not the presidential visit. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO (D), PITTSBURGH COUNTY: Our focus is the city, will be on the families, and the outreach that they need this week and the support that they'll need to get through it. Once we get past that, then I think there is the opportunity for presidential visits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So all of this is unfolding just one week before voters go to the polls for the midterms, and the president's aides tell the "Washington Post" they are struggling to balance their blistering campaign strategy with these calls for national unity.

Let's go to our Jean Casarez, she's our correspondent on the ground in Pittsburgh.

And Jean, let's talk about today and what is most important, and that is honoring the lives lost and the funerals that begin today.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, this is such a serious and solemn day because it is today that the funerals begin. The funerals of the 11 victims. And first off, this morning, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. He will be -- have his funeral at 11:00 this morning. He was 66 years old. He leaves a wife of 21 years of marriage. So many other family members.

And then we have the brothers, Cecil and David Rosenthal. Their services will begin at noon today. And the word that everyone is using to describe them is they were so warm. Their warmth just filled the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Now the funerals will not be at the synagogue that is right behind me because this is an active crime scene. Early this morning I saw the FBI arrive, so they are still working today. And while the funerals take place and the investigation continues, there is a defendant in this massacre, and he sits in the county jail awaiting his next court appearance. Yesterday was his initial appearance.

I was in that courtroom. I watched him as he was wheeled in in a wheelchair. He is a very large man. Doesn't appear to be too tall. But I looked straight at him. And he was very aware of what was going on, of his surroundings. He was very calm. I saw no outward anxiety or nervousness at all. He was just sort of focused on that his wheelchair would get where it should go, right between his two defense attorneys.

And so the investigation continues and today, once again, though, it's a very solemn day, one of the most solemn because of the funerals -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, of course. Jean, thank you for being there.

SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip is at the White House this morning with more on the president's trip to Pittsburgh.

Abby, quite a list of folks declining the White House's invitation to join the president in Pittsburgh today. The county executive, the mayor, as well as both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. Does the White House have a reaction to that?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Not yet so far, Jim. And the White House hasn't actually said who the president is planning on meeting with on this visit. They have been pretty tightlipped about it because, in part, this has turned out to be far more controversial perhaps than they anticipated. We already knew leading into this that some local officials, even some local religious leaders were saying maybe now is not the best time as these individuals or victims of this horrible crime are being laid to rest.

But the president and the White House have decided to move forward with what our sources are telling us is going to be an understated trip. Listen to what the president has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just going to pay my respects. I'm also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt. So -- and I really look forward to going. I would have done it even sooner, but I didn't want to disrupt anymore than they already had disruption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And Jim, it's really unusual for a sitting president to head to the scene of a tragedy like this and not be in the company of other elected officials. It just goes to show how controversial this last week has been really when it comes to this conversation about the president's rhetoric, but also just about the atmosphere in this country of anger and division overall.

[09:05:08] HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip at the White House. Thanks very much.

HARLOW: It's a good point Abby makes.

Joining us now to talk about this, our panel, CNN political commentator Errol Louis, political anchor of Spectrum News, and CNN political analyst Alex Burns, also national political correspondent for the "New York Times."

Good morning, gentlemen. So, Errol, to you first, I suppose many Americans are divided on this this morning. Should the president go now? Should he not go? He's going. It's happening this afternoon but he's going to be largely alone outside of the first lady and then Ivanka and Jared Kushner.

The mayor says don't come. Wait. Let's focus on the funerals. The current rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue said yesterday and re- iterated this morning, look, he's the president. He's always welcome. So where does this leave the country?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it leaves us with a confused set of messages and symbols. And that's the real shame of it is that what you want to do is -- and it takes a little bit of choreography, a little bit of cooperation. You want to present to the world a symbol of unity, of caring, of concern that we are all going to get through this together. And this kind of muddles that message.

It's not the worst thing that you could do. I mean, the president does need to sort of show up at some point. It would be better, far better, in my opinion, if they were to do it in a way that clearly conveys that all hearts and minds are in the same place. But for the mayor and the county executive and others to say, like, look, this is not a great time, please let's fix this, let's do this in a different way. That's a conversation that ideally would have happened --

HARLOW: In private.

LOUIS: Yes, in private. And, you know, get it together. You know, there is a Sabbath in a few days. That would be as appropriate a time I would think as any, you know, to try and make this work. But, you know, we're a few days out from an election. There are a lot of contending sort of needs and concerns, and the president's primarily seem to be political in a lot of ways. So I think he wants to get this past it, get it behind him and get back on the campaign trail.

SCIUTTO: Let's be clear here, though, that this is remarkable. This is remarkable for both Democratic, the county executive, the mayor, they're Democrats, that doesn't mean that their position is, you know, by its nature, but we should note that. But to have Republican leaders, Alex Burns, join this as well and not go at this time, what does that say to you about the president's messaging on both this hate crime, but the larger atmosphere of hate?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there is very, very little confidence in the president, even within his own party to handle himself appropriately in a moment like this. That if he goes to Pittsburgh and somebody asks him about, you know, Governor Wolf not showing up, or Mayor Peduto not welcome him, what will he say?

You don't want to be the person who -- you know, I'm not saying this is what Mitch McConnell is thinking, I have not talked to his office this morning, but, you know, he knows as well as anyone what it's like to have some -- to be standing there next to the president as he says something that's wildly offensive to the country. His wife was standing there when the president made the comments that he made after Charlottesville.

SCIUTTO: Both sides.

BURNS: So you're absolutely right. It is absolutely extraordinary that you see this kind of cold shoulder from the president. And it does reflect just his total inability so far to manage moments like this in a way that unite the country.

HARLOW: Which the White House, you know, aides to the president have acknowledged to the "Washington Post," for example, this morning.

Let's all listen to a really important part of the interview that Alisyn Camerota had this morning on "NEW DAY" with the rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue. Here's the exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say to people who criticize you for opening your doors to the president at this time?

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I have received many e- mails that are not happy with those words. The thing that saddens me is those e-mails also contain hate. And it just continues in this vicious cycle. Hate promulgating more hate, promulgating more hate. And that's just not the solution. We need to be better than this. We can be better than this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That really struck me, Errol.

LOUIS: Yes. I mean, that's a man of God. This is somebody who is going through the worst trauma of his life who has all kinds of obligations. And yet throughout it, he sort of clings to the core tenants of his faith, which is to be open, which is to always believe that people can be redeemed, and which is also to not close the door on anybody, even somebody who may have caused or contributed to the tragedy, the very tragedy that he's now trying to live through. So this is somebody who was in the building when all of this happened. I don't think anybody can substitute their judgment for his in this particular situation.

HARLOW: Yes. Good point.

LOUIS: He's pointing to all of us the way we should all be trying to process it.

SCIUTTO: Alex Burns, we're a week away from midterm elections. And clearly the president's very public strategy is to continue with this sort of nativist line of argument, right? You know, separate from the shooting here, because the president included, we should give him credit, has very forcefully condemned the violence there against Jews.

[09:10:03] That said, increasing focus on the caravan, which the president has often without foundation described as being full of, you know, unknown Middle Easterners, et cetera, this implication of a threat, invaders, even, you know, sometimes using invasion as a term that the shooter in Pittsburgh did use, that's a political strategy. That's not accident. That's not a president fumbling the rhetoric. That's an intentional strategy, is it not?

BURNS: It sure is. You know, the president blurts out plenty of things in interviews and in speeches, but when he blurts out the same thing over and over and over again, you can't say that that's going off message. That is the message. So I do think that this strategy of closing the midterms with this very, very harsh language about foreign invasion at the southern border it is going to sound different to a lot of people against the backdrop of the last few days than it maybe would have a week or two ago.

HARLOW: Yes.

BURNS: Talking to Democrats and Republicans in moderate areas, a week ago or two weeks ago, there was the sense that, you know, immigration, it could gin up the conservative base, maybe it's a net positive for Republicans in some places.

I was in a very moderate district in Pennsylvania, not near Pittsburgh, near Philadelphia, last night, and the way the president is being talked about by your sort of center to center right to center left voters and candidates is just with total contempt at this point, right? And it doesn't mean it won't help his party in some places. It's not going to help him in the House.

SCIUTTO: Right.

HARLOW: Credit, by the way, to Shep Smith on FOX yesterday who, you know, separated himself from much of the narrative on FOX News and said, look, here are the facts. These are not invaders.

Before we go, Nikki Haley tweeted about this, Errol Louis. I'm sure you saw this morning. And she said that this shooting in Pittsburgh reminded her of what she lived through, right, when she was governor of South Carolina, and the Dylan Roof church shooting in her state. But here's what she also tweeted, "We didn't once blame President Obama. We focused solely on the lives lost and their families." Does she have a point?

LOUIS: Not really. I mean, there is no scenario and no one even the president's worst enemy suggested that President Obama had anything to do with creating the atmosphere in which Dylan Roof went in and committed that atrocity. Far from jumping into the vortex and adding to all of the partisan rancor, how great would it have been if Nikki Haley, of all people, came with President Trump to Pittsburgh, have a sort of publicly displayed conversation with him to sort of help him, the White House and the country process this? But instead, you know, I mean, one more act of partisanship, which is really unfortunate.

SCIUTTO: Perhaps she doesn't want to be on the stage either in this environment. It's a fair question.

Errol Louis, Alex Burns, thanks very much.

Still to come, the final sprint to the midterms, and the president has a new attack on the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida. It's -- it's going to be jarring to hear this. Another target leading up to the midterms as well, the media. Sources telling CNN outside and inside sources are telling the president to go to war with the press ahead of election day. Justified?

HARLOW: And stopping the hate. House Democrats now calling for an emergency hearing after a string of hate-filled crimes in this country. We'll speak with one of them ahead.

[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: All right, one week until the midterms, exactly one week from today, and the president will spend these final days criss-crossing the country, trying to keep Republicans control of Congress and pump up GOP candidates in tight state races.

But some are really calling out the president's latest attack on the Democrat running in the gubernatorial race in Florida. They say it went way too far -- listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have Ron DeSantis; who is a Harvard-Yale guy, he's had a really terrific -- you know, he's a very good person. He's going to be a very -- he's going to be very good to a great governor. This other guy is a stone-cold -- in my opinion, he's a thief. How can you have a guy like this? And you just look at his record, also, look at the job he's done as the mayor of Tallahassee, he's a total disaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: That's right, the president there calling a candidate, current Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum a stone- cold thief. He did not offer evidence or an explanation as to why he said that's justified. We should know that Tallahassee city government is under a federal public corruption probe, Gillum has not been charged.

He has said repeatedly that the FBI told him he was not --

HARLOW: Right --

SCIUTTO: He's not a focus of the investigation. Last night, Gillum shot back at the president on Twitter, he said the following: "I heard real Donald Trump ran home to "Fox News" to lie about me, but as my grandmother told me, never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it. So ignore him and vote, Florida!"

Joining us now, Cnn senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten and Cnn political commentator Errol Louis. So Errol Louis, when you hear that phrase from the president, stone-cold thief directed at Andrew Gillum, what do you hear?

ERROL LOUIS, JOURNALIST & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what I hear -- I should say for the record I have degrees from Harvard and Yale.

HARLOW: Congratulations.

LOUIS: Thank you, great. I -- what I hear is a continuation of the DeSantis strategy, right? I mean, on the very first day of the general election campaign, he made some comment about let's not monkey this up, right? It was very thinly coated, let's put it that way in a --

HARLOW: DeSantis did --

LOUIS: In a -- DeSantis did --

HARLOW: Yes --

LOUIS: In a formerly confederate state. They have been throwing everything, but the kitchen sink at Andrew Gillum because he is doing well. He is polling well, he's got a lot of money. He's got a lot of excitement. They are trying to tear him down, this is what happens in a last week of a campaign. It's a reckless charge, as you suggested, there's nothing behind it.

There are no outsiders in Tallahassee. Anybody who's covered state capital politics, whether it's Albany or Harrisburg or Tallahassee, there are going to be these questions about who did what and how close was this donor to getting a contract and so forth. Totally appropriate questions, the president however is trying to sort of stir up something a lot darker, a lot more primal in order to help his candidate --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

[09:20:00] LOUIS: Win the race. That's what their strategy has been from day one.

HARLOW: So A, to you Harry, will that work? And, B, when you look at what the president we now know is going to do over the next week, and that's going to make 11 rally stops, it's pretty clear what the strategy is here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: Yes, I don't think it's working. As Errol pointed out, Andrew Gillum is winning. You look at the polls since the primary, he's been winning in pretty much all of them. I think it's like 95 percent of the polls he's been ahead --

SCIUTTO: By what margin?

ENTEN: By what margin? My forecast has him winning by about 4 to 5 percentage points. I remember, there hasn't been a Democratic governor elected in the state of Florida since 1994. Since Walken(ph) and Lawton Chiles. So he's doing very well, he's well on his way to being the third African-American elected governor in the United States of America. And so these attacks by the president seem to be falling flat.

HARLOW: And the first in Florida.

ENTEN: And the first -- yes, I would say so.

SCIUTTO: So Errol Louis, this is part of a broader strategy of course here, focus on the caravan discussion of a whole host of immigration issues, deployment of troops, et cetera. Largely aimed, you would say, at his base, but attempting, I would imagine to grow the audience that is concerned about that and sees that as a primary threat. From your point of view, what do you think is right? Do you believe that, that is working for him?

LOUIS: Well, I assume with all politicians that, you know, what they're doing is happening for a reason. And they've done some internal polling or they have sort of a sense of who their electorate is, and that they're trying to draw out. And that's what it is. It's rational. I mean, it's ugly, it's untrue, it's -- I think it's harmful to the public debate.

You know, once in a while, and Harry knows here and there, you find that -- it's almost like a unicorn. You find a house Republican who is actually running on the economy and on the tax cuts that they pass. You know, which is supposed to be a good news story. You know, other than the last few weeks, the economy has actually been humming along.

Questions about whether or not it's been financed in the right way and who is going to get the benefits of it --

HARLOW: Sure -- LOUIS: But they haven't been running on that. They've been running

on an imaginary caravan, false charges against the black candidate in Florida.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

LOUIS: You know, almost anything to try and juice up their base because the numbers do show pretty clearly that the Republican base voters are not as excited, not as likely to come out and are going to sort of be a key factor as to whether or not they hold the house, whether or not they hold key state houses and whether or not the president is going to have an awfully hard time over the next couple of years.

HARLOW: All right, let's talk about a very important race, and that's the governor's race in Georgia right now. You've got President Trump heading there to stomp for the Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp who is running for that seat. And President Obama we've learned will now go and rally around and campaign for Stacey Abrams.

Star power on both sides, will it make a difference?

ENTEN: I mean, this is one of the closest races in the nation. I think if you were to look at the polls and you were being honest with yourself, you would say that this race may last into December. Because remember, in Georgia, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there's a runoff.

And right now, Brian Kemp is slightly ahead of Stacey Abrams, but it looks like he may get 49.5 percent or 49.6 percent of the vote. And could you imagine all the star power that would come down for a run- off in Georgia after everything occurs?

HARLOW: She's also the first black woman to be running for -- who if she won, who could win.

ENTEN: Right, she's the first nominated I believe in the country for a --

HARLOW: Yes --

ENTEN: Governorship --

HARLOW: Yes --

ENTEN: So she would -- I mean --

HARLOW: Yes --

ENTEN: This is a very interesting story in this day and age of Donald Trump. Two African-Americans in the south running for governor --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

ENTEN: In a region that obviously has its history, and wouldn't it be something if they both won? But right now, it looks like Gillum is the favorite whiles Abrams is not.

SCIUTTO: We should note for the audience if they are not aware, Brian Kemp, as Secretary of State, effectively oversees --

HARLOW: Right --

SCIUTTO: The administration of this election. Many including former governor and President Jimmy Carter have called for him to resign as Secretary of State, obvious conflict of interest there. There's been a lot of talk about messing with voting machines, et cetera there. In your work, have you seen any evidence of foul play leading up to it?

ENTEN: I think it's very careful that we recognize when there's voter fraud and when a Secretary of State is merely acting as a Secretary of State should. And I have not seen anything that really suggests that Kemp is doing anything that is so egregious. Now, obviously, Democrats want to make it -- it's very important we keep an eye on it, but --

SCIUTTO: Right --

ENTEN: I would not go that far --

HARLOW: Right, and I do think it's important to note now, just give us a history in the contest here. This is not the first time a Secretary of State is running in an election that, that office oversees.

LOUIS: No, this happens all the time. I mean, Kris Kobach in Kansas is Secretary of State --

HARLOW: Right now.

LOUIS: He's running for governor right now --

SCIUTTO: Just go back, who also participated in the propagation of the method of illegal voter, but anyway --

(CROSSTALK)

LOUIS: This has been a controversial one --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

LOUIS: I mean, back in 2006 I remember in Ohio, you know, Ken Blackwell was the Secretary of State and he was -- he had a controversial tenure, he was sued all throughout the time that he was there, including over the release of private information accidentally. And he also ran for governor, didn't win.

But I think Harry is exactly right.

HARLOW: Yes --

LOUIS: You have to separate out -- as long as you're going to have elected Secretaries of State and have them oversee the elections, you have to assume that other factors like, you know, oversight, the fact that the eyes of the electorate are on them. And in the end, if they actually break the law, there could be severe --

[09:25:00] HARLOW: Right --

LOUIS: Penalties. All of that is supposed to kind of put some controls over it.

SCIUTTO: Right --

HARLOW: And the controversial exact match law in Georgia which has stirred up --

LOUIS: No, the law is the problem, not the guy --

HARLOW: But it is the law --

LOUIS: Yes --

HARLOW: And there's a lot of questions over that which Stacey Abrams has brought up time and time again. Gentlemen, thank you very much, stay up to date about all the races because Harry doesn't sleep --

ENTEN: Never --

HARLOW: Never, check out his forecast every day. The forecast with Harry Enten at cnn.com-slash-forecast.

SCIUTTO: He's been a Marine for 34 years. He fought the enemy, he also worked for years as a spokesman for the DHS, for the Pentagon, for the Marine Corps, for Republican and Democratic presidents. So when the president says that the press is the enemy of the people, Dave LaPane(ph) has a problem with that, we're going to speak to him next.

HARLOW: We're also moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. The Dow looking like futures are pointing a bit lower this morning after a pretty wild day for the market on Monday. Market swung 900 points back and forth yesterday during the session and made renewed concerns over tariffs. We'll see how it opens this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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