Return to Transcripts main page
Pittsburgh Honors 11 Victims of Deadly Synagogue Massacre; Rabbi Myers One Week after Shooting, It's Still Painful; Two Dead, 5 Wounded in Florida Yoga Studio Shooting; Final Campaign Push; Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz Making Final Push in Texas Senate Race; Presidential Test in Montana - Trump Versus Tester; At Least 12 States Surpassed 2014 Early Voting Levels; Trump Admits Democrats Could Win the House; Obama Rebukes Trump for Divisive Rhetoric; Obama and Trump Square Off in Homestretch of Midterm Campaigns; Whitey Bulger Beaten to Death; Top 10 CNN Heroes Revealed for 2018. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired November 3, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: This morning the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh came together to honor those victims with a pair of services: a private service for the congregation and another for all who are rallying around them, many of them making the same trip their friends and family made just last Saturday, entering the Tree of Life Synagogue to pray. Communities across the country are also showing strength in numbers.
Last night congregations from coast-to-coast held special show-up for Shabbat services to honor the 11 victims.
Earlier this morning, CNN's Alisyn Camerota spoke with the rabbi who was leading Shabbat services when the shooting began. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN, HOST OF "NEW DAY": You've been so stoical on national TV and you have given your message of love and to tone down the hate but I just wonder, do you have moments where you breakdown or are you still on adrenaline?
JEFFREY MYERS, RABBI, TREE OF LIFE, SQUIRREL HILL CONSERVATIVE SYNAGOGUE: To give a perfect example, after the last funeral today, it was the last one, we were at Rodef.
I appreciate the fact that outside Rodef there's a side (ph) there with a contemplative garden. I just sat there and then cried like a baby, I couldn't stop. I thought the procession was waiting for me; I couldn't stop. It just came out; I couldn't stop because I've -- I've -- I haven't held it in me nonstop but you know, this was the last funeral particularly and every time I do one particularly when I - for me, because I'm also a cantor, when I chant the memorial prayer, it takes a piece of my soul away and I have no more left to give; my tank's empty.
CAMEROTA: And so what do you say to your congregants who say, "Why, how did this happen, why; how does God let this happen?" MYERS: I don't believe God lets this stuff happen; humans have a choice and this person chose - made this choice. To me God is the one I turn to when I have no strength, to say, "God give me strength to get through this," and that's what I do, every moment of every day, "Give me strength." And somehow God does. I never thought I'd see the horror of this, ever; ever.
CAMEROTA: Joe show me here what - what stands out to you, show me when you come here to look at this outpouring of the community?
MYERS: It's the sheer immensity of love. It gives me hope because it reminds me, there are so many good people and this gives me strength to say, "Hate will never win."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, Alisyn Camerota. Thanks so much for bringing us that.
CNN's Jean Casarez is in Pittsburgh, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh so tell me about what's happening there?
JEAN CESAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well this morning they had a Shabbat, a religious service standing outside of the Tree of Life because this is still an active crime scene and you cannot go inside but it was very moving, it was the former Rabbi of the Tree of Life, Chuck Diamond who talked about last week, when this all happened and 11 souls were taken and he talked about that the families are now in their mourning period under Jewish faith, seven days of mourning and so that after that, that we as a community in Pittsburgh he said, "have to help them adjust and go on."
He also talked about just the reality of it, that a week ago today, that Rabbi Myers who you just saw in that piece with Alisyn that he was and is the presiding Rabbi of Tree of Life and that during the sabbath time that people including rabbis don't have their cell phones on them, that they are not supposed to, in observance of the Sabbath but Rabbi Myers did have his cell phone and that he hid in the choir- loft area and he called 911.
And Rabbi Diamond said today outside here that he had his cell phone on him today. I thought...
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.
Casarez X: ... was a -- just a very interesting religious and...
CESAREZ: ... practical aspect to today.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Incredible. All right, Jean Casarez, thank you so much for bringing that to us.
So as Pittsburgh continues to cope with the tragic synagogue massacre and we're also following another deadly shooting, this time in Florida where gunmen opened fire at a yoga studio in Tallahassee last night. The man killed two people and injured five more before turning the gun on himself.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been following this for us so first off Dianne, I understand the people at the studio - the yoga studio did try to fight back as...
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
WHITFIELD: ... best they could.
GALLAGHER: They did try to fight back as best they could...
GALLAGHER: ... unfortunately that led to six people been shot, another person being pistol-whipped and two of those people have died. The victims are 21-year-old Maura Binkley and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem.
According to the president of Florida State University, both of them connected to FSU, Nancy a faculty member and Maura a student. They've gotten - they were basically practicing Hot Yoga, they're at this Talia - Tallahassee studio when police say that 40-year-old Scott Beierle came in and opened fire. They are -- they say that again, shot six people, pistol whipped another person before police believed he then turned the gun on himself.
Now the FBI, local, and state authorities on this but at this point they [12:05:10] do not know the connection between Beierle and that yoga studio.
After the shooting happened, Fred, the - Andrew Gillum, who is the Mayor of Tallahassee is also running to be Governor on the Democratic ticket...
GALLAGHER: ... and Rick Scott who is the current Governor of Florida, and is the Republican candidate for Senate...
GALLAGHER: ... both of them went back to Tallahassee. The two of them in sort of a bipartisan effort, this is a city they both live in, went to the hospital, they visited the victims.
Andrew Gillum spoke, the mayor a little bit afterwards, telling some of the media who were outside, they saw the people in the hospital, one person had been shot nine times...
GALLAGHER: ... another woman had a bullet that went all the way through her; and they praised law enforcement; they were there within three minutes of getting... WHITFIELD: Wow.
GALLAGHER: ... that phone call...
GALLAGHER: ... but at this point detectives, they've got to piece together why this man went into the studio and decided to open fire.
WHITFIELD: There's been a lot going on in Florida this...
WHITFIELD: ... year you know, and the candidates who are running for the offices that you mentioned...
WHITFIELD: ... you know, gubernatorial you know, congressional office, they are mindful of that as well and...
WHITFIELD: ... the sensitivities that come with that with the voting public; this coming on the heels of you know, shooting in Jacksonville...
WHITFIELD: ... and then the deadly shooting of course at Parkland...
WHITFIELD: ... you know, is there - is there a consensus of how the electorate you know, is responding to these candidates saying at least let's take a pause for today?
GALLAGHER: Yes. Unfortunately, if you look online, no, of course because sort of a cesspool of anger but at least in the way that these candidates have been presenting themselves in this period afterward, "Hey, we just need to get back. We have duties right now." We are a governor and a mayor and we have to attend to that even though we are running for other offices...
GALLAGHER: ... we want to focus on these victims.
I will say that Gillum said something that I think all of us feel which is, "These occurrences have become far too frequent, not just in Florida but around the country," you know, I cover these all the time and it's -- I - it's the same refrain, just a different place.
These people were just inside of a yoga studio practicing yoga; those kids were just inside of a school trying to learn; the people in Kentucky were just inside of a grocery store, trying to buy school supplies; I mean people in Pittsburgh were just inside of a synagogue trying to worship, and so they have talked about the fact that something's got to happen but look, Rick Scott and Andrew Gillum may be working together on this but they are on very different ends when it does come to the gun control debate which of course has not been as much on the forefront as it was say six months ago...
GALLAGHER: ... after Parkland when those students, kind of had the old country...
GALLAGHER: ... talking and debating about that.
WHITFIELD: Except perhaps this latest shooting...
WHITFIELD: ... also might you know, bring it to the forefront.
WHITFIELD: It might be again top of mind for so many...
WHITFIELD: ... as they cast their ballots.
WHITFIELD: All right, Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much. I appreciate that.
All right coming up, critical races across the country. Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Beto O'Rourke are battling over a Senate seat in Texas and crisscrossing the state in a very last-minute blitz for voters.
And then later a former Republican Congressman in Florida, turning against his party in a state's down-to-the-wire governors' race, why he's backing the Democrats, just days before the ballots are cast [12:08:18]
[12:12:23] WHITFIELD: All right, the race for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas is one of the most-watched midterm races in the country. Democrat Beto O'Rourke is trying to upset Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, both have had high-profile support and both are out on the campaign trail today making that final push.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas so Ed, Beto O'Rourke has been raising a huge amount of money for his campaign, is he proving to be a real contender against Cruz, just money making a giant difference? ED LAVANDERA, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN U.S. BASED IN THE DALLAS BUREAU: Well there's no question that the fundraising has poured in, in dramatic fashion throughout this Texas Senate-race, Beto O'Rourke shattering all kinds of records for fundraising in this election; he's really become a nationwide phenomenon.
Here this afternoon, we are at a Ted - Women for Ted Cruz rally where Ted Cruz is expected to speak here in the next hour or so, appearing with his wife and also the wife of Texas Governor, Greg Abbott.
And from here he continues on to the small town of Victoria, Texas and really this kind of captures the intensity that both candidates campaigning across the state; Beto O'Rourke canvassing neighborhoods and knocking on doors literally, going through neighborhoods.
And we've seen this here, Fredricka, throughout the last few days have early voting and it's really important to point out that the early voting totals in this state have - been astronomical, through-the- roof; the final numbers, last I checked aren't quite in but there were already record-setting from across the state and that's really what political observers are paying the most attention to, trying to figure out what all of this means.
You know, one of the things that Beto O'Rourke did here in the final weeks of the campaign was a barn (ph) storm across college campuses, trying to turn out young voters and by all accounts, it seems that the youth vote here is really starting to turn out.
The question is whether or not that will pay off on election day when all of this, matters. You know, Democrats here in Texas have a monumental hill to climb in terms of making up voters and that's what the Cruz campaign has been counting on. They believe that at the end of the day, no matter all of the hoopla that surrounds Beto O'Rourke and all of the attention that he gets, that ultimately, there are just more Republicans voters in this state than Democrats and they're counting on that well-oiled machine.
Remember a Democrat has not won a state-wide election in this state in 25 years, so if Beto O'Rourke were to pull off this upset, it would be a titanic shift here in state politics in Texas, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Incredible. All right, you keep watching it and we'll keep checking back with you, Ed Lavandera, in Dallas. Thank you so much.
All right in the meantime we're also seeing intense stomping for major parties by President Trump and former President Barack Obama; they are headlining a wave of star power, crisscrossing the country, trying to secure [12:15:06] votes.
So between today and Tuesday President Trump has seven rallies on the schedule. Last night Trump boasted less about the economy and more on immigration. Trump also ramped up his attacks on the migrant-caravan in Central America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Democrats want to invite caravan, after caravan; Republicans want strong borders, no drugs, no gangs, and we won't know caravans, thank you.
TRUMP: I think they overplayed their hand on this one, folks...
TRUMP: ... because between Justice Kavanaugh and the caravans, you people are energized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, so much at stake and voters seem to know it because early voting-numbers have skyrocketed. CNN is reporting at least 12 states have already surpassed their numbers from 2014. The president, President Trump in Montana today, where Democratic Senator Jon Tester is in danger of losing his seat to a Republican, Matt Rosendale.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is in Belgrade which is about 10 miles or so outside of Bozeman, Montana, where the president will be speaking in about what? Two hours from now but you already have a very sizable crowd?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Fredricka, the president is flying here to Montana; he was waking up in Indiana. The two similarities Indiana and Montana have of course, they are both states represented by Democratic U.S. Senators in red states that Trump won during the election so the president clearly focusing on those states in the final days here before Tuesday election.
Jon Tester is among the top of the senators at the president's list. He's been essentially going after Jon Tester, ever since that whole skirmish over the VA secretary. If you remember earlier this year, Dr. Ronny Jackson, of course the president's physician was nominated to lead the VA.
Senator Tester is the top Democrat on that committee, he was leading the objection to that and ultimately led to his withdrawal so that's why the president, it's personal to him, that's why he's coming here to Montana. This will be the fourth visit Fred, and I'm talking to you - historians here in the ground, no other U.S. president has ever visited Montana four times; Harry Truman apparently the most with three visits so President Trump making it for today, a brief stop here in Montana before he flies on to Florida, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And when he goes to Florida, he is hoping to you know, really rally, some support there.
So Jeff, we also heard the president you know, actually concede that Republicans in some places might lose, in a very big way that you know, Republicans might lose the House majority even? ZELENY: Right. The president is pretty clear about this Fred, I'm told, that's why he is focusing more on Senate races.
We should also point out where he's not going this weekend, that's Arizona and Nevada, those are two states also that Democrats believe they could pick up those seats. He's not seen as being helpful there about the president was in West Virginia on Friday talking openly about the prospect of Democrats winning the House and what that will mean to the reshaping of power in Washington. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It will be ridiculous frankly, it will be bad for our country. The Democrats - and it could happen, could happen, we're doing very well and we're doing really well in the Senate but it could happen.
And you know, what you do...
TRUMP: ... my whole life, you know, what I say, "Don't worry about it. I just figured out."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So I can tell you though, inside the White House Fredricka, they are worried about it.
If Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, that will dramatically change the second half of the president's first term in office, that is why he's trying to keep the Senate in Republican hands, that's why races like this one here in Montana so important to try and defeat Jon Tester.
But I can tell you Fredricka, talking to strategists on both sides here on the ground in Montana, this race is very, very close. Some believe that Jon Tester has a slight edge, he's - he's won these big races before but the question is, can President Trump get those from voters from 2016, can he remind them that there is a mid-term election on Tuesday and can he get them out to vote.
About two thirds of the votes already cast here by mail; most Montanans vote by mail so every rally, every day that goes by, some diminishing returns for the president's time but he'll be here in about an hour, hour and a half or so and rallying the crowd here and then flying to a warmer climate, in Pensacola...
ZELENY: ... Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then Jeff you know, while they've been casting their ballots you know, via mail you know, is it immigration which is a miss - message that resonates with people there or is it something else which has influenced their selections? ZELENY: Well Fredricka, talking to voters here, it's actually not immigration.
ZELENY: The president is very much trying to nationalize this race. He's trying to make this race about immigration but healthcare is the top issue in all surveys here; healthcare and also public lands, [12:20:05] that is a big issue in Montana, keeping the land out of private hands, keeping it in a public land-use and things so those are key issues here, driving issues. Taxes as well, but immigration is not as central of an issue but the president clearly trying to rally his base.
It's an issue that nationally worked for him but as Jon Tester tries to localize this race, President Trump tries to nationalize it and whichever one of those arguments, wins will probably determine who wins on Tuesday...
ZELENY: ... Fred.
WHITFIELD: ... right, Jeff Zeleny. Thank you so much, from Belgrade, Montana. We'll check back with you, appreciate it.
All right, still ahead, the race for governor in Florida is getting a whole lot of national attention, it's largely why the president will be making his way to Florida soon.
Former Republican Congressman for the state, guess what? Now backing the Democrat, we'll ask him [12:21:00].
[25:00:28] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
Three days until the mid-term elections and a bitter battle is waging in Florida for the state's governor. CNN's latest poll shows nearly a dead heat between Democrat Andrew Gillum and his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis.
Among likely voters, Gillum has 49 percent of the vote, DeSantis 48 percent; the margin widens a bit when we take an average of all the credible polls, according to CNN's poll-of-polls, DeSantis drops to 45 percent. Both candidates getting the presidential treatment this weekend, President Trump will be in Florida later today as part of his mid-term blitz and former President Barack Obama, campaigned for Gillum last night, calling out Trump for his divisive rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In the closing weeks of this election, we have seen repeated attempts to divide us...
(CROWD): Yes, yes.
OBAMA: ... with rhetoric designed to make us angry and make us fearful.
It's designed to exploit our history of racial, and ethnic, and religious division.
(CROWD CHANTING): Let's Say...
OBAMA: You know, what?
(CROWD CHANTING): ... No.
(CROWD CHANTING): Let's Say No.
OBAMA: ... it's no play book; it's one that the powerful and privileged turns to whenever control starts slipping away...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, the election there is so pivotal that many voters have already cast their ballots. Early voting in fact in Florida has already surpassed 4 million.
I want to bring in David Jolly, he's a former Republican Congressman, who has bucked his own party, (inaudible), already casting his vote for Andrew Gillum, for governor of Florida, all that over Ron DeSantis. Good to see you?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR FLORIDA'S 13TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT FROM 2014 TO 2017: Hey, good to be with you today.
WHITFIELD: OK, why?
JOLLY: So listen I normally don't talk about who I voted for but in this race, I did and you know, it's important to talk about why because this is such a pivotal race.
There are areas in which I find agreement with Andrew Gillum, at least closer to agreement than Ron DeSantis, areas like Medicaid expansion; healthcare access for underprivileged or lower-income communities; also more reasonable gun control, at least having the responsibility to talk about gun control measures in a state where we saw Parkland, where just last night we saw another six or seven injured in Tallahassee; but it also clearly as a former Republican, is a rejection of Trump, of Trump-ism and of Trump surrogates.
Understand, in the state of Florida, Ron DeSantis was a candidate who put his toddler child in a commercial while he instructed him to build a wall with child blocks. He read from Donald Trump's books to his infant child.
And you know, a lot of Republicans have said, "Look, I will tolerate and accept all things Trump, the divisiveness, the rhetoric because I get these certain ideological wins," and I would say to my GOP colleagues, "Look, civility and empathy and hope, and recognizing our common humanity, is also an ideology; equally as important as when it comes to taxes or healthcare."
You play the clip of Barack Obama, the contrast between a leader speaking to our better angels (ph), to hope, to who we can be as a people, who we should be as a people, compared to the fear that this president gives us, every day, day in and day out, is a remarkable contrast.
And I would say to my Republican colleagues, my former colleagues, in my opinion it is embarrassing, shockingly embarrassing what our party has become and if you can't see that, you're likely part of the problem.
WHITFIELD: So you talk about the contrasting tone between the former President, Barack Obama, you know, there in Florida yesterday and the current president who is on his way to Florida after his visit there in Montana but you also mentioned you know, a number of turning points that Floridians you know, can't look away from, from Parkland to even last night's shooting there at the...
JOLLY: That's right.
WHITFIELD: ... at the yoga you know, studio in Tallahassee. Was the -- what was the turning point for you in between all that, that made you say, "I'm voting for Andrew Gillum," as opposed to Ron DeSantis, the Republican?
JOLLY: It probably started when I actually had the opportunity to serve as a Republican in Congress, and I got so close to the fire and realized, nobody was trying to put the fire out. This was not a party that was looking for constructive solutions for the entire country but largely for a donor base, as we saw in the tax bill. You know, I think investing in human capital is just as important as investing in corporate capital. The party kind of gets away from that.
Parkland was a turning point for me. I believe, on your network that night, I said to voters, "If gun control is the issue that defines your ideology, then you need to vote for the Democrats because Republicans will do nothing to actually address the real problem.
Tallahassee legislatures did do something. They do deserve some credit but it was nothing to actually approach reasonable gun control measures, universal comprehensive bag background checks, greater restrictions on assault weapons.
But Fredricka, in Florida, we've been governed by Republicans for decades and each Republican class comes in and tries a move further to the right. And the reality is, we've left people behind. We've left behind people like me who are looking for some type of constructive answers in the middle. WHITFIELD: But clearly as you said, Parkland was a turning point for you. You just recently felt that because it was what, a month ago when you left the Republican Party.
WHITFIELD: And so, you know, the -- in the midst of all this campaigning, the president has focused largely on immigration and he also has released a 53 second ad featuring an undocumented immigrant who, in April, was sentenced to death for killing two California deputy sheriffs. The video claiming Democrats let him in. Democrats let him stay. And there have been many who have corrected, you know, what transpired between, you know, the Clinton years and George, you know, W. Bush years and this particular person.
What does an ad like this, in your view, do in terms of influencing voters or perhaps confusing voters or turning off voters?
JOLLY: Look, I think it does all three. It is a reflection of this campaign of fear that the president is selling and abandonment of truth and facts in terms of who we know which administration was in charge when this -- I shouldn't call him a gentleman, when this murderer was allowed in and allowed to stay in. But, you also can't overlook the fact that it plays to this deep racial divide that this president and his Republican surrogates and most of the Republican Party are fine with going into Tuesday. They know that this is the path way to get their base out which is to scare them with racially divisive and arguably racist rhetoric. And that's where the contrast with Barack Obama yesterday was so sharp.
Listen, I was not an Obama supporter. I was a Republican member of Congress who fought him on a lot but to hear a political leader yesterday speak to our better angels and who we could be as a nation, to speak hope in an arena where all we're hearing today our leadership voices of fear on the other side is a contrast that I think is going to move a lot of Tuesday voters towards the Democratic side of the ticket.
WHITFIELD: And then really quick, David Jolly, this epiphany that you feel like you had, what about for your, you know, former Republican cohorts, are you perplexed, are you wondering, are you, you know, hoping or waiting for others to have the same kind of epiphany that you felt like you had?
JOLLY: I think the verdicts in. People know what the party has become. They chose to embrace the trappings of power and go along with it like Lindsey Graham apparently recently has or they stand up based on principle and they abandon it.
You know, my wife and I call it the sleep well at night test. My reason for leaving, though it was a long time coming, we're expecting our first child and I will tell you, I do not feel comfortable being associated with the Republican Party as an expectant first time father as that example for our new daughter. I just can't do it.
I went to one Trump rally to cover it for another network and I realize, I could not feel comfortable bringing my child into this rally. Not just because of the environment itself but because of the words that were spoken from the microphone.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, David Jolly, congrats on the baby on the way and that parenting.
JOLLY: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: That's going to be the biggest toughest job you'll ever have. Take it from me.
JOLLY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. But beautiful and very rewarding.
All right, coming up, President Trump is hitting the campaign trail in a final blitz before the midterms. How are his words affecting voters in these critical days? We ask the experts, next.
[12:38:35] WHITFIELD: President Trump on the final midterm blitz across the country right now, and in a couple of hours, he's expected to speak at a rally in Montana where the U.S. Senate race is in a dead heat between Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Matt Rosendale. Trump is sticking to his script, making baseless claims about the migrant caravan and attacking Democrats. And now, we have some insight into why Trump chooses this rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They all say speak about the economy, speak about the economy. Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes, it's not as exciting to talk about the economy, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring in Doug Heye, the former RNC communications director and Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen. Good to see you both.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, so Doug, you first. You know, the economy is a great sell for the president, so why not focus on that instead of this fear strategy? I mean, this president can boast that these are probably the best economic numbers, you know, in 60 years for a president during a midterm elections and wouldn't this benefit him and his party?
HEYE: It would benefit all Republicans. You know, every first Friday of the month, we get job numbers that typically have been not just good but very good for this administration. But we also know that when those numbers come out at 8:30, the president is probably already tweeted something that guarantees that we'll be talking about anything else which doesn't help Republicans.
Just yesterday, Fred, Brendan Buck who's the great communications counselor for Paul Ryan tweeted, we're going to talk about this all day, right? With the obvious point being, no we're not because the president consistently takes us off message in a way that doesn't help him and I don't think helps Republican candidates.
[12:40:06] WHITFIELD: And so that's frustrating a lot of his advisers who wish that he would, you know, tout the economy and talk about those, you know, achievements that he should be boasting of but then clearly, the president is sending a clear message that he's going to do his own thing he feels like he knows best. So in the end, who will this most benefit? Is it him or is it the Republicans who are running?
HEYE: Yes, I think we need to be mindful that Donald Trump's priorities aren't necessarily the priorities of all Republicans running. And if we lose the House as I expect that we will on Tuesday, that presents Donald Trump with a foil that he can really run against which is more powerful to run against a Democratic House than a Democratic House minority. Clearly, that's part of the calculus that the Trump administration or the Trump campaign is making and it's a full run campaign at this point.
WHITFIELD: And Hilary, you know, Trump, you know, renouncing birthright citizenship and suggesting the U.S. troops, you know, could fire at immigrants at the border who are throwing rocks. President Barack Obama, you know, in Florida call -- and also in Georgia last night calling the president's message fear mongering. Does fear get out the vote?
ROSEN: Well, it's just bizarre. I mean, he's in Montana talking about a caravan that's, you know, thousands and thousands of miles away and is actually never going to reach Montana. So, the idea that's the thing that he thinks is going to matter the most. Florida is not even a border state, it's surrounded by water.
I mean, the choices of subjects that he's bringing up in these closing days, I think are just kind of baffling and really speak more to his own ego than they do to the things that the people care about. I like Barack Obama on the campaign trail talking about things that Americans actually care about, not just healthcare, not just tax cuts but also a sense of pride. And, you know, as a closer, I'll take Barack Obama over Donald Trump any day.
WHITFIELD: And so Doug, you know, if the president's message -- President Trump's message is to really rally his base, I mean, does he really need to just rally the base or does he need to grow the base. And if, you know -- and if the answer is yes to growing the base, is this the way in which he'll do that?
HEYE: Yes. The bet that the Republicans have made is that they have to turn out their bases at a maximum level. This is an election about maximizing your base, it's not an election about persuasion which is why you see him talking about the topics that gin up the base.
I would tell you, I think that that's very risky, not just for the president but for Republicans on the ballot who are --
WHITFIELD: But this is enough? Is his base sizable enough to be that persuasive?
ROSEN: Well, it's not.
HEYE: The short answer is no. And that's why, you know, Republicans are going to lose not 20 seats, it'll be a good night if Republicans lose 20 seats. I think they'll lose upwards of 30, maybe even 35 seats at this point right now because getting out your base is not enough, especially if you're trying to appeal to white suburban moms which are going to be a very critical vote come Tuesday.
WHITFIELD: Hilary, you said you like, you know, the former president's, you know, closing message. You know, he's making these appearances on the campaign trail and he's not taking, you know, the usual let the record speak for itself kind of approach. Instead, he's now saying let me help set the record straight. Just listen to what he had to say yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we have not seen the way we're seeing right now is politicians just blatantly, repeatedly, boldly, shamelessly lie. Just making stuff up. That's what they're doing right now, all the time. Don't be bamboozled. Don't be hoodwinked.
When words stop meaning anything, when truth doesn't matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Hilary, you know, the former president really is challenging voters. He's saying, you know, you have the power. But is there also a great risk when you've got, you know, a former president, the predecessor out on the campaign trail win perhaps President Trump's win might have been a referendum to the Obama administration?
ROSEN: Well, look, two things are important here. First of all, you know, Barack Obama is an intellectual and it just offends his sensibility that Donald Trump is so loose with facts and lies so much. But the second piece is the historic enthusiasm in this election means that we are getting an unprecedented amount of independents voting in the midterm which historically has not happened. Midterms have been kind of base elections for both Democrats and Republicans. And Barack Obama's, you know, thoughtful challenge to President Trump trying to nationalize this race with his rhetoric is really, you know, the closing message.
[12:45:07] It's an appeal to independents not to let the country be hijacked by this kind of behavior. And I think that people want to believe in something bigger. And if Donald Trump is not going to give people something bigger to believe in other than the fact that we're going to be invaded by people from Honduras, Barack Obama will.
WHITFIELD: And clearly voters are very enthusiastic. CNN reporting that early voting is up significantly in at least 12 states and who knows what's going to happen Tuesday but, you know, clearly, people are heading to the polls.
Have had been heading to the polls and are going to be (INAUDIBLE) on Tuesday. Lots to talk about.
Thanks so much, Hilary Rosen and Doug Heye, appreciate it.
HEYE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. And don't miss a special pre-election edition of CNN Prime Time. That's tomorrow night starting with Anderson Cooper 360, followed by Cuomo Prime Time, and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. It all starts tomorrow night. But before you get to night time, you got to, you know, be up with us in the morning with NEW DAY weekend with Christy and Victor from D.C. And I'll be in D.C. as well throughout the afternoon.
All right, still ahead, he was one of the most infamous mob bosses in America. Now new details in the violent end to a violent man Whitey Bulger. What we're learning about the prison attack coming up.
[12:50:48] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
Two people are dead after part of a building collapsed on them in Baltimore last night. It happened at an Amazon fulfillment center in the southeast part of the city. Rescuers have been using thermal imaging equipment to determine whether anyone else is trapped under the debris. And employee who was inside at the time said that he heard a loud noise and then the power went off before one side of the building simply dropped. Severe storms were in the area at the time but the official cause of the collapse has not yet been determined.
There are new details about the deadly prison attack on notorious mob boss Whitey Bulger. Investigators say he was brutally beaten by at least two inmates. The New York Times reports one was a mafia hitman, possibly exacting revenge.
CNN's Jason Carroll gives us the grizzly details.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Law enforcement officials tell the New York Times that the two inmates allegedly involved in Whitey Bulger's murder used a lock in a sock, a metal padlocks stuffed into a sock to beat and kill Bulger who the Times says was in a wheelchair.
A senior law enforcement official not directly involved in the investigation tells the New York Times the beating was so forceful, it displaced Bulger's eyeballs. Unclear, the source says, if his attackers gouged them out or if they were knocked out.
The Times identified one of two fellow inmates under investigation as Fotios "Freddy" Geas, a mafia hitman from Bulger's home state of Massachusetts. Geas is serving a life sentence for murder. His former attorney says the two mobsters ran in the same criminal circle.
DANIEL KELLY, FORMER LAWYER FOR FOTIOS GEAS: So he probably had a lot of reasons to not be very happy with people like Mr. Bulger. I'm not willing to concede obviously based on later reports he was involved but I really understand he's accused of it.
CARROLL (voice-over): The Boston Globe citing Geas' lawyer reporting he had an ax to grind and believed Bulger had helped frame one of his friends for murder. The Times says the killers tried to avoid surveillance cameras but cameras caught images of at least two inmates rolling Bulger into a corner where they beat him to death.
Sources telling CNN prison authorities found Bulger Tuesday morning, wrapped in a blanket, blood covering the floor. Word of his violent death met with relief from family members of his victims.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the end for myself and my family.
TOMMY DONAHUE, FATHER WAS ONE OF BULGER'S VICTIM: A guy like him doesn't deserve a nice easy death, he deserve a slow death and that's what I hope he got.
CARROLL (voice-over): Bulger was transferred to Hazelton Penitentiary in West Virginia from another facility in Florida just one day before he was killed. A federal official with knowledge of the investigation says he was put in the prison's general population, raising questions as to why a high profile mobster was not isolated or watched more closely.
Just last week, a bipartisan group of senators alerted Attorney General Jeff Sessions about understaffing at Hazelton, noting there were two deaths there this year.
Bulger's life portrayed in several movies including 2015 "Black Mass" starring Johnny Depp. He was serving two life sentences for racketeering and the murder of 11 people. Those who really knew him say he was a sociopath.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could kill you for a good reason. He could kill you for a bad reason. He could kill you for no reason. That was his reputation.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much for that.
Meantime, we just revealed our top 10 CNN Heroes of 2018. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Maria Rose Belding saw people going hungry in her hometown when she was just in the eighth grade. And what she decided to do about it is why she's one of this year's top 10 CNN heroes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA ROSE BELDING: There was a food pantry in my church that I grew up working in. You would have way too much of one thing and would be in desperate need of a different thing. (INAUDIBLE) believed some of it would expire and I had thrown a lot of it away.
When I was 14, I realized, that doesn't make sense.
[12:55:00] The internet was right in front of us. That's such an obvious thing to fix. (INAUDIBLE) it has turned green. You would really think that the novelty of it would wear off. It doesn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So inspiring. Well, to vote for any of our top 10 heroes, go to cnnheroes.com right now.
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining with me this Saturday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.
It has been a dark and gloomy day in Pittsburgh. The city's weather echoing the hearts of its people as they remember and honor the lives of those murdered inside the Tree of Life Synagogue one week ago today.