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Wildfires Burn Uncontained in Northern and Southern California; Interview with Paradise, California, Mayor Jody Jones; President Trump Visits France; President Trump Criticizes French President on Twitter Ahead of Arrival in France; Deadline Set for Florida Vote Count; Recounts Likely to be Triggered in Florida Gubernatorial and Senatorial Races; Interview with Father of Shooting Victim Richard Martinez. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 10, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:12] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have you with us here on this Saturday, November 10th. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: We're going to begin this morning with these latest pictures here out of California and the wildfires that are burning there. We know at least nine people are dead now. There are three major wildfires we're talking about, all of them still out of control throughout the state and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heavenly father, please help us. Please help us to be safe. I am thankful for Jeremy and his willingness to be brave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: In the north, the Camp Fire has burned nearly 90,000 acres. You could hear that woman praying as they made it through, and they did, by the way, make it through there. But homes, businesses are just destroyed in the town of Paradise.

BLACKWELL: In southern California, the Hill and Woolsey fires have forced nearly 100,000 people to leave their homes. We have several reporters there covering the fires. Let's start with CNN's Kaylee Hartung who is following the latest. She's in Malibu. Kaylee, what are you learning about that area?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, overnight flames could be seen from the Pepperdine campus and the hillside surrounding them. L.A. county fire strike teams as well as air operations have been working to contain that fire around this campus and in the Malibu area. Pepperdine University tells us everyone is sheltering in place, everyone is safe, and no permanent structures have been damaged. But this campus has been lucky. That is not the case for other areas within the path of the fires. More than 65,000 structures have been lost, and that number of course could be up as fire crews get the chance to further assess the damage that's been done.

I spoke with a fire commander earlier who explained to me they have a unique window of opportunity right now. The winds have been whipping nonstop, but right now we have a reprieve that should last until tomorrow where these winds have died down and will allow them to hopefully get the Woolsey fire in particular contained, because right now it stands at zero percent containment.

Earlier today when I was speaking with you from north of the Santa Monica mountains we were stopped at a police line, fire in our path. We were able to take another route to get down to Malibu, but during the journey through the mountains, you're just struck by the smell, the smell of smoke and the thick, thick haze in the air. You can still see that here in Malibu, though we haven't seen flames as we made it this close to the coast. Victor, Christi?

PAUL: Good to know. Kaylee Hartung, take good care of yourselves there. Thank you so much.

CNN's Dan Simon has been following developments out of Paradise, California, north, of course, of Sacramento. Dan, what are you seeing there?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christi. This is a community of about 27,000 people, and the entire town of Paradise is gone. Now, that's not an exaggeration. The entire town is gone.

I just want to show you a tiny fraction of the kinds of things we are seeing. So you see a lot of cars just sort of strewn along the road here. Take a look at that school bus. It's almost as if the driver just hastily discarded it as he was beginning his morning. Keep in mind this fire raced through this community about 6:00 in the morning. In terms of overall structures, this is the most destructive wildfire in California history, and this just seemingly happened within a span of a couple of hours. You're talking about 6,700 structures.

What's remarkable about this particular fire as we walk around and show you some other things we're seeing, is that normally in destructive wildfires a lot of times the damage can be confined to one particular area. Not so in this particular case. We're talking about 90,000 acres, and it just goes on for miles and miles. And that is what is so remarkable. I talked to police officers and firefighters, and everybody is basically saying the same thing. They have never seen anything like this. It is just mindboggling. Christi?

PAUL: Dan Simon, my goodness, thank you so much for sharing that and showing us what's going on there.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now on the phone is the mayor of Paradise, California, Jody Jones. Mayor Jones, thank you for being with us. We're going to take right from what Dan Simon just told us, that the entire town is gone now, and go to you with what now.

[10:05:00] It is not quite true the you with what now. MAYOR JODY JONES, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: Well, it is not quite true

the entire town is gone. I would say 80 to 90 percent of the residential units, the houses are all gone. About 50 percent of the business district is still there. We still have two of the grocery stores that were in town, there were three, so one burned down, but two are still there. We still have a Kmart, we still have our town hall, our post office is still there. And there are other businesses that are still up and running. So it is not true the entire town is gone. And we do intend to rebuild. It is going to be a process, a lot of hard work, a lot of coming together. But we want to see Paradise be Paradise again.

PAUL: Mayor Jones, you live there. As we understand it, you lost your home, members of your family lost their home. Help us understand emotionally what this does to you. I know that you have taken a tour of what is there now. Help us understand emotionally what this is like for you to see your home like this.

JONES: It is pretty devastating. There really aren't words to describe it because everything that was your life is gone. All I have was the clothes on my back.

PAUL: You had to get out that fast?

JONES: I was not at home and could not get back there. And my husband was home, but he had to get out that fast. He walked outside and the house across the street and the one two doors down were on fire. And he grabbed our dogs and our cat and left.

PAUL: Is everybody in your family OK?

JONES: Everybody is safe, yes. My sister lost her home. Every person on the Paradise town council lost their home. We're just going to have to pull together. We're all in the same boat, so we all know what we're going through. And we're going to come out stronger.

BLACKWELL: You say that you want Paradise to be Paradise again. Tell me what that means.

JONES: Well, it's a beautiful town. And it's a small town. It's a friendly town. It's just a wonderful place to live. Everybody knew everybody and looked out for people. There was a lot of community service, and it was just a great place to live. And a lot of trees are still there. What was really interesting when I was up there, and you probably saw it in the pictures from Dan, the structures are gone, the homes are gone, they're leveled, but the trees are still there. Some of them are scorched, but they look like they'll come back. They're not totally burned.

PAUL: It is interesting, because you're right, the leaves are still on a lot of the trees that we're looking at right now as we talk to you. When you say you're going to rebuild, where do you go in the meantime? Do you have any idea what that looks like?

JONES: Well, right now we're living in our motor home in an RV park in Corning. PAUL: What about the other residents there? Is there a plan for what

to do as you rebuild and where you live in the meantime?

JONES: FEMA arrived yesterday, and they will be providing assistance to folks who do not have insurance, including rental assistance, and they help them find places to live. Folks who have insurance, their insurance companies will be helping them. We're looking for a rental right now somewhere as close as we can get to Paradise. Once there's power and water restored, folks could conceivably live in RVs on their property while they rebuild, but that's going to take a while to get electricity and potable water back up there.

PAUL: What about kids and schools? How are the kids of the community handling this, do you know?

JONES: Well, my grandchildren are displaced as well, and they're not in school right now. The high school is still standing. One of the elementary schools burned down, another one is damaged, so I really don't know what the plans are of the school district to start classes again. I don't know if they'll have students up there. Until, like I said, until there's electricity and water, nobody is going to be up there. So we may have to enroll our children in other schools in the meantime.

PAUL: Yes. Mayor Jones, thank you so much for bringing us into what it is you're dealing with.

[10:10:02] The pictures, cannot imagine what you're going through, and we look at them, and it is heartbreaking. This is your life, so we know it is more so than that for you, but thank you for sharing with us. And we are wishing you all of the best for safety and for rebuilding and for getting your Paradise back.

JONES: Thank you very much.

PAUL: Sure. Mayor Jones there in Paradise, California.

BLACKWELL: The acting attorney general is facing increased scrutiny over his connections to a company in Florida. Coming up, what we are learning about his involvement with a company shut down by the Federal Trade Commission.

PAUL: And he left the U.S. political turmoil at home, but there are some problems stirring up abroad. President Trump blasted the French president before he even exited Air Force One.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00] PAUL: It's 14 minutes past the hour. President Trump is in Paris right now. A short time he and first lady, Melania Trump, of course, left the palace after lunch with their French counterparts. President Trump and the French president Macron held talks earlier today after President Trump had blasted President Macron over NATO payments, he did it over Twitter. President Trump is in Paris with other world leaders to commemorate 100 years since end of the First World War. BLACKWELL: CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is live from

Paris for us this morning. Kaitlan, good morning. The president set the agenda before he actually stepped onto French soil there.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did. It was about three minutes after Air Force One landed here. President Trump had not even gotten off Air Force One yet when he sent the tweet criticizing the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for something he said in a radio interview several days ago, something that clearly bothered President Trump.

Now, President Trump, this of course the backdrop of this, just to get the viewers up to speed, announced that the U.S. is going to withdraw from the INF treaty. That is that nuclear arms pact that President Ronald Reagan signed with Russia back in the 1980s. and President Trump decided we're withdrawing from it, the U.S. And President Macron was critical of that, saying the person that is the most victimized from that is Europe and its security. He says they are laid bare from that, and because of that decision from President Trump, he was going to need to build up the European military and make it more robust.

That's clearly something that bothered President Trump when he sent the tweet late last night shortly after he landed here in Paris, saying he took offense to that, and then bringing up that NATO spending, something that he has criticized several European leaders of during his two years almost as the U.S. president.

Of course, that essentially set the stage for conflict this morning. That tweet right there, "President Macron of France has just suggested Europe build up its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia," clearly saying that "perhaps if Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO which the U.S. subsidizes greatly."

That really set the stage for those first talks this morning, meeting one on one, that very awkward interaction where there was no warmth between these two leaders, even though typically there's a lot of backslapping. President Trump once remarked in the Oval Office that he thought President Macron was perfect. That is not what we saw this morning. Instead it was a stiffer interaction, much more wooden, between those two leaders.

Now, we are told by sources that they did discuss those comments during the bilateral meeting later one on one and then when their staffs, and that they tried to clear the air there. This afternoon, President Trump is supposed to visit a cemetery where Americans are buried after World War I. But instead the White House has cancelled that, citing the bad weather here in Paris because he was supposed to take a helicopter. So instead, he has got about a seven hour stretch between that luncheon with the French president and before dinner tonight. So we could expect some tweets during that period.

PAUL: All right.

BLACKWELL: Kaitlan Collins for us there, thank you so much. PAUL: CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd with us right now. Samantha, good to see you. President Trump, as we said, tweeted on arrival in Paris there about NATO, and then of course you also saw the meeting between President Trump and President Macron. Reconcile those two moments for us and how you -- where do you go from there?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I wish the wi-fi hadn't worked on Air Force One when he landed on the tarmac, because criticizing your host when you arrive for a commemoration celebration definitely sets the wrong tone for meetings going forward. Unfortunately at this point I think Emmanuel Macron was probably expecting President Trump to play his greatest hits when he arrived on European soil. And one of those greatest hits continues to be misrepresenting how NATO spending and how the NATO budget is funded.

NATO members are supposed to pay two percent GDP. The U.S. chooses to spend more than two percent of our GDP on NATO spending because we have other priorities around the world. That, again, is our choice. There's something that Macron said that's getting a little bit less attention, though, Christi, that President Trump references in his tweet, which is Macron grouped the United States with Russia and China as threats. Imagine that France, one of our allies in World War I, World War II, and through the present day, is grouping us with Russia and China. Russia just tried to murder someone using chemical weapons on European soil, China is described by the White House itself as one of our rival power, so France is no longer sensibly considering us an ally they can depend on. They're putting us in the same bucket as Russia China.

PAUL: Is there indication that that is because of the U.S. as a whole or is that a reflection of this administration?

VINOGRAD: I think it seems to be a reflection of this administration. It's worth nothing that according to recent polling, President Trump has a 10 percent approval rating in France. President Obama had dramatically higher numbers than that, so it does seem like French perceptions of the United States have gone down.

[10:20:02] And there are a lot of policy differences. The Macron- Trump meeting earlier I hope touched on some of those, whether it be Iran policy, whether it be climate change, or any number of issues that we still have so much distance on. I think that Macron and other European leaders are very concerned that we're not reliable and very concerned about the nationalism that President Trump espouses at a time when Macron has been speaking out about the rise of nationalism in Europe. He just met with someone, the president of the United States, who has self-described himself as a nationalist. That definitely is creating a schism.

PAUL: Correct me if I'm wrong here, but President Macron doesn't exactly have great approval ratings in his country either. I think he's at 20 percent. So with that said, how important is this interaction right now between both presidents?

VINOGRAD: It is interesting, because from a political perspective, and you know that I look at national security, but in a lot of ways President Macron criticizing President Trump could score him some points back home. President Trump is not popular, and President Macron at the beginning of his administration when he was more popular invested a lot in his relationship with Trump. President Trump visited Europe. Macron went to the White House. And then President Trump made disparaging statements about him and trade deals and that sort of thing. So Macron could get some bit of a bump from the President Trump interaction.

PAUL: Sam Vinograd, always appreciate your insight, thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Still no winners in a couple of really important races in the state of Florida. The two major races plagued by voter irregularities still yet to be decided. A live report on what happens next.

PAUL: And families in the Thousand Oaks community in California are demanding tougher gun control after that mass shooting that killed a dozen people. We'll have more on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:26:20] BLACKWELL: A key decision in two Florida races is expected in just a couple of hours now.

PAUL: At stake, a Senate seat and the office of governor. With the election too close to call, they may be headed for a recount.

BLACKWELL: CNN correspondent Jessica Dean is in Lauderhill. Tell us what's happening in about 90 minutes.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. That's right. We're just about an hour and a half now away from that 12:00 deadline, and what happens then is that all of the counties in Florida have to have their unofficial results into the secretary of state's office. They will tabulate all of those votes. And if it is within a half percent margin in any of these races, that is going to trigger an automatic recount. That's going to be a machine recount. And from there, each county will then start that process over again of recounting these ballots using the machines.

We are expecting a recount in the governor's race, in the Senate race. There has been an influx of high-profile lawyers on both sides that have descended here in Florida. There have been lawsuits that have been filed by both parties, by both candidates in the state of Florida, one against Broward County supervisor of elections.

But what is important to note right now is that the department of law enforcement within the state of Florida has detected no criminal activity. They have not been asked to investigate any criminal activity right now. What we've got to get to, though, is this 12:00 deadline. That's when the ball moves forward on a potential recount. Guys?

PAUL: Jessica Dean, thank you. We appreciate it. I'm sorry, are we in 2000 or 2018?

BLACKWELL: Feels like it's happening all over again.

Joining me now, former regional director for Obama's 2012 campaign and the president and CEO of Paramount Consulting Group Tharon Johnson, and Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former assistant communications director for Georgia's Republican governor Nathan Deal, outgoing governor, because we're getting a new one soon. Let's start here. First, welcome back. Let's start here with the president yesterday on the south lawn of the White House. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rick Scott who won by, you know, it was close, but he won by a comfortable margin, every couple of hours it goes down a little bit. And then you see the people, and they were involved with that fraud of the fake dossier, the phony dossier. And I guess I hear they were somehow involved or worked with the GPS Fusion people who have committed, you look at what they've done, you look at the dishonesty. Look, look, there's bad things have gone on in Broward County.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Can you connect those dots?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I didn't understand that last part. I do understand that even Marco Rubio, who is a respected voice and not seen as extreme --

BLACKWELL: Shouldn't the president be a respected voice? Can we just start there?

ROBINSON: Don't put words in my mouth.

BLACKWELL: No. I'm saying, even Marco Rubio, who is a respected voice.

ROBINSON: Different emphasis that what I used.

BLACKWELL: I'm sorry.

ROBINSON: But even Marco Rubio had said that there's some weird stuff going on in Broward County. When it is this tight, and we're seeing it right here in Georgia, and you're seeing it in Arizona as well, both sides aren't going to mind being inconsistent in what they're calling for as long as it is for their own partisan advantage. That's how the process works, that's how it always works.

BLACKWELL: But the president is calling it fraud. What's the evidence of fraud? He has called it fraud on Twitter several times. What's the evidence fraud is happening in Broward County? He mentioned Palm Beach County.

ROBINSON: I don't know the evidence of fraud. Honestly, I don't know. I do know in Arizona that issue came up as well, the president called into question some of how the recount is going there.

[10:30:01] And it does look like there is inconsistencies in Arizona, how things are counted, how ballots are accepted county by county. So that could be a problem. So look, whether or not it's fraud, there's going to be partisan perspectives on how to do this moving forward because in these three states a lot is at stake.

BLACKWELL: But partisan perspective is one thing. Calling people criminals is a different thing. And the president is alleging someone is stealing. Not just the president, Rick Scott is suggesting that Democrats are stealing the election. Bill Nelson, his attorneys filed this lawsuit against the secretary of state saying that the signature validation of some of the votes there is left to untrained opinions. What's the alternative he is looking for if he is not trusting poll workers?

THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTHERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: I think that's always the key in campaigns. You always want to have your people at the polls. That's not demise the effort that these elected officials have put in on election day and all of the early votes that came in. but I think the thing about Florida is that we can't really tell if we're in 2000 or 2018 because this is the same thing that we went through in the year 2000. I think what Nelson and Gillum, the gubernatorial candidate and the U.S. Senate candidate, are basically saying is that democracy must prevail. Let's make sure that everyone is not intimidated, people are not forced to rush, make sure that every single vote is counted properly.

BLACKWELL: But to the point of these untrained opinions, he has got opinions on signatures better than somebody else's?

JOHNSON: I think his legal team is basically trying to push back on some rhetoric that they heard immediately from Rick Scott and what they're hearing from the White House lawn. I think that they are basically saying that we have got to make sure we have the best and best trained people reviewing these ballots, and particularly with provisional ballots. It is this whole complicated process about the signatures. And even when people vote provisional, the process they have to go through to come back to their county clerk's office to prove whether or not they are who they say they were and they actually voted in that particular location.

BLACKWELL: Did Gillum concede too soon?

JOHNSON: I think Andrew Gillum is a really good man. I went down there last weekend and campaigned for him, and I think that no, he didn't concede too soon. The bottom line is that it is not legally binding. He gave a verbal concession but he came right back, Victor, and said, hey, this must go on. I want to ensure that every vote was counted.

BLACKWELL: He is still tweeting bring it home, though. If he conceded.

JOHNSON: That hash tag is bothering, because I think the bottom line is people just want it to be done correctly. They want to be sure that they can trust our voting systems and the people who are in charge. So no, he didn't concede too soon. But he did come back immediately. But bottom line is this is a razor thin margin, and both candidates on the Democratic side should push this to the end.

BLACKWELL: You referenced Arizona. And the president tweeted, "Just out, Arizona signatures don't match. Electoral corruption. Call for a new election?" Is that because the Republicans are losing, he is now calling for a new election in Arizona?

ROBINSON: Well, again, what I was saying earlier is it looks like they're doing things different county by county. There needs to be a uniform standard. Obviously he knows he can't call for a new election, that's something he doesn't have the authority to do. He doesn't say he has the authority to do that. He puts the question mark there very ably.

BLACKWELL: There is a question mark there.

ROBINSON: There is a question mark there. So I don't think that's what he is going for. But hey, if there is a significant problem out there, we have to continue to look into it. How is that different than what the Democrats are saying in Georgia and Florida? How is it different? In Georgia and in Florida, they are fighting battles that are already over. There are not enough votes to close these margins. They're very tight races. The Democrats ran good campaigns, but they're over. You have two Republican governors elected in those two states.

BLACKWELL: He is not saying let's make sure the signatures match, he is saying they don't match, new election. I think what, and correct me if I'm wrong, what Bill Nelson is saying is that we want to be sure that every vote counts.

ROBINSON: That's what you say when you're behind.

JOHNSON: But also, to Victor's point, the president and Republicans are behind in Arizona, and so now he is starting to question the process. But in Florida where they've got a slim lead, he is basically calling people criminals and saying they're crooks.

Herein lies the difference.

ROBINSON: It's happening in Georgia.

JOHNSON: Here's the problem. Democrats had a big day Election Day, but we haven't really been able to celebrate it to its totality because we have some emotional, almost razor thin runoff almost in some victories in Florida. So I do think that we can't let the president get away with that. He had a bad day on Election Day. We turned governor's mansions, and we won back the House and legislative branches all across the states in the country. I think that is the message that Democrats want to get out.

BLACKWELL: I need 30 more seconds. I heard somebody just say in my ear I have got to go. But I need to read this tweet from the president overnight. We've been talking about these fires out on the west coast, and instead of the federal resources are on the way and our hearts are with you, nine people who have died there, and 6,700 homes and businesses destroyed, this is what the president of the United States tweeted. "There's no reason for the massive, deadly, and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now or no more Fed payments."

[10:35:02] Is that people should hear from their president when they're losing their homes and businesses and neighbors?

ROBINSON: I do think people want solutions to those problems. Obviously we have a lot of fuel in those forests that are hard to contain once they catch fire. So we do need long term solutions. That's very much --

BLACKWELL: You worked in communications for Governor Nathan Deal. Would you advise him to talk about federal funding instead of some compassion?

ROBINSON: He did express some compassion.

BLACKWELL: Where is that in this tweet?

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: There are lives lost. There are homes being lost, but this is an ongoing process, and he is talking long term solution, which is I think what we need to be looking for.

BLACKWELL: Brian Robinson, Tharon Johnson, thank you both.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

PAUL: Four years ago, families were calling for tougher gun control after the Isla Vista shooting in Santa Barbara. Two mass shootings in just two weeks, and now there are a lot of families are joining that call. The father that lost a son in Isla Vista is with us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:40:36] PAUL: After two mass shootings in just two weeks, there are some families of the victims of the Thousand Oaks massacre who say we need tougher gun laws, we need tougher gun control. Four years ago, there was a father of a victim of the Isla Vista shooting in Santa Barbara who said the same thing. He called on Congress and the NRA to take action. Remember that shooting, a gunman opened fire near the University of California. Six people died and 14 others were injured.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ: Our family has a message for every parent out there. You don't think it will happen to your child, until it does. Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because a craven, irresponsible

politicians, and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness. We don't have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves not one more. Thank you. That's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: That father, Richard Martinez, is with us now. Richard, thank you so much for taking time to be with us. Compare where you were then to where you are now in terms of your feelings about this.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF CHRISTOPHER MARTINEZ: Well, I've seen the videos of Cody's dad and Telemachus' mother, and when I see those, I see myself. And if I had a chance to talk to them, to the survivors from this new mass shooting, I would tell them that there's no right way or wrong way to grieve.

But for me one of the things that was most helpful for me after Chris was killed was talking to other families that have been through the same experience. I got a phone call from Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords' husband, and from Mark Barden who lost his son at Sandy Hook. And there's something about talking to other survivors of gun violence, because they know and understand without having to explain themselves what you're going through, and it is just terrible.

I see these things happening across the country. Since President Trump was elected we had in Las Vegas the deadliest lone gunman mass shooting in the history of the United States. We had in Parkland the deadliest high school shooting in the history of the United States. And then most recently in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on American Jews in U.S. history. So I'm encouraged by results from this election because in this most recent election there were 15 A-rated candidates that were --

PAUL: NRA.

MARTINEZ: Yes, NRA. And they were beaten by 15 F-rated candidates, so that's progress.

PAUL: Rated by the NRA.

MARTINEZ: We need to do better.

PAUL: You started this and you said you wanted Congress, you wanted the NRA to take action. Have you ever spoken to anybody at the NRA? Has anybody ever reached out?

MARTINEZ: In the course of testifying in various state legislatures, I have spoken to them. I have spoken to members and to -- and in one instance I spoke to somebody that was from the national NRA in Virginia, and they express their condolences. And I've talked to them to some extent. But one of the things I hear after situations like happened in California is that strong gun laws don't work. And that's not a good argument. And I think about that. [10:45:00] And today we have far fewer commercial airline crashes than

in the past. And why is that? It is because we have done things to make flying safer. Yet airliners still crash and many people die. When that happens, we don't say an airliner crashed, throw out everything we have been doing that we know makes flying safer. We investigate the crash. We find the cause. And then we solve the problem. And over time using this method we make flying safer, and we should do the same with gun violence.

No other developed country in the world has the level of gun violence that we do, and why is that? Because when these things happen, they do something about it. We know that doing nothing doesn't work. And we know --

PAUL: I'm sorry.

MARTINEZ: -- that more guns is not the answer. More guns is not the answer to gun violence.

I was in Congress, I was in a legislative hearing in Congress earlier this year in January or February, and I was listening to arguments about concealed carry reciprocity. And their argument was more guns in more places is going to make us safer. No other developed country in the world accepts that as a solution. In reality what they're saying is we should go back and live like in the 1800s, which we left that way of life in the 1800s for good reasons.

PAUL: When you sit down then, you said you've sat down with NRA members, and I know there are NRA members who want to --

MARTINEZ: No.

PAUL: You have not sat down with NRA members?

MARTINEZ: We were standing.

PAUL: OK. Well, you talked to them. Let's put it that way. You've talked to NRA members. And I know there are NRA members that do believe there have to be changes. Do you when you talk to them see any place for some common ground where real effective changes are ripe?

MARTINEZ: Christi, I was sitting in a coffee shop one day. And a guy comes up to me. And he said you're Richard Martinez. I said yes. He said I'm in the NRA. Can I talk to you for a minute. I said yes. And he takes off his jacket. And he turns around and he shows me an NRA logo on the back of his t-shirt. And he said I just want to tell you I support what you're doing. The vast majority of members of the NRA support background checks on gun sales. We all have families in this country. We're grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles. We all have -- no one accepts that we can't do better in our country. To live like this with these constant threats of gun violence, we need to figure this out and we need to do better.

PAUL: Richard Martinez, thank you so much for what you do. There are a lot of parents, a lot of people in general, who are agreeing with you and hope to find that common ground that can make a difference. Thank you so much for taking the time for us.

MARTINEZ: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Absolutely. Take good care. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: This week's Mission Ahead. Rachel Crane shows us how farming algae can help increase the food supply and help the environment at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By 2050, the world's population will hit almost 10 billion. It's going to take up to 70 percent increase in food production to feed those 2.5 billion extra mouths. And in the middle of the New Mexican desert, a company called iWi is working on a tiny green protein rich solution -- algae. This algae is called nannochloropsis, iWi says this strain is about 40 percent protein and contains all of the essential amino acids humans need. Unlike most crops, it doesn't require fresh water to flourish.

Why have your farm here?

REBECCA WHITE, VP OF OPERATIONS, IWI: There's land as far as the eye can see that's not being used for anything else. We're on top of a salty water aquifer which is what our algae needs.

CRANE: Some estimates say that algae can produce seven times the amount of protein that soybeans could on the same amount of land.

WHITE: We do this yea-round. We might harvest a single pond two as much as two or three times a week.

CRANE: The thing about food, though, people have to eat it.

WHITE: People think of algae and they go yuck. They don't go yum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The protein we are producing is not going to change the flavor, is not any different from what they are used to. We are not bringing algae as an alternative. This is in addition to conventional crops.

CRANE: Algae for dinner is a long shot. But the powerful potential of this tiny super crop can't be ignored.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[10:59:07] BLACKWELL: Almost 10 percent of homeless adults in the U.S. once served in the armed forces.

PAUL: And an Army veteran saw some of his former comrades falling through the cracks. So he built a solution to help. Meet Chris Stout.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS STOUT, CNN HERO: After starting to work with veterans, I realized there's a huge gap in services. If you've ever served, you know that if one of your fellow platoon guy, they need help, you help them. What we do here gives them an opportunity to kind get stable, a safe and secure place, and then fix what got them there in the first place. When I see a win for them, it is a celebration for me. It means everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Fantastic work. To cast your vote for the CNN Hero of the year, just go to CNNHeroes.com.

PAUL: Thank you so much for spending time with us. We hope you make good memories today.

BLACKWELL: CNN Newsroom continues now with our colleague, Fredricka Whitfield.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much to you guys.

PAUL: You, too.

WHITFIELD: All right. So it is 11:00 on the east coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.