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Report: Biden Avoiding Missteps Ahead of Potential Presidential Run; Warren Heads to Iowa after Announcing Presidential Run; Piles of Trash, Overflowing Toilets Force National Park to Close; Zoo Changes Following Toddler Injured by Rhino, Intern Mauled by Lion; Wall Street Pain Continues as Dow Starts 2019 Lower. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:15] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It is just a day into 2019 and the 2020 presidential race is already kicking into high gear. We have Senator Elizabeth Warren making her announcement that she is going to be running for president. She will make her first trip to Iowa this weekend.

We are learning details about a potential run from former Vice President Joe Biden. The "New York Times" reporting that Biden is going into great lengths to avoid mistakes of some other Democrats, including refusing to accept a $100,000 speaking fee from the University of Utah after he learned that they were using state funds to cut the check.

Joining us now, Alex Burns, a CNN political analyst, who co-wrote the article in the "New York Times," and CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten.

Alex, what are you learning about how Biden is positioning himself for a potential run?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is an elaborate balancing act because he is trying to earn real wealth for the first time in his life. He was legendary for not being a rich Senator. He is doing a fair amount of paid speaking. The $100,000 fee was described as a reduced rate because he was going to a campus. We don't know exactly what he charges for non-campus audiences, but presumably it is significantly higher than that. The other side of this is we looked closely at this network of nonprofits and academic centers that Biden set up to be a legacy project, the Biden School of University of Delaware, the Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the Biden Institute, the Biden Foundation. What we found across the groups was that they are staffed by a lot of political aides and people high up in the office of the vice president. In some cases people work for the Draft Joe Biden 2016 Committee. Some of them are making pretty good salaries at the nonprofits. They are pretty much expected in many or most cases to serve as a campaign. If he were to hit the go button, suddenly, the heads of the nonprofits would probably flip over into a campaign role. And already are talking to donors and advising him on political strategy. His advisers say they are doing that in their own time and not doing it while they are being paid by the charities but it's a fine line.

CABRERA: We have seen in the latest polls, Harry, Biden is far ahead when it comes to the rest of the Democratic field. There are a lot of people in that field. What do you see as Biden's biggest vulnerability?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: I think it is basically threefold. He has a fairly moderate record particularly on crime. Number two, if you look at who Democrats were nominating in primaries during the 2018 season it was women overwhelmingly. Third, I think there's going to be a real push to perhaps nominate a non- white person. Obviously, Joe Biden is a white male. He doesn't fit into either of those camps.

CABRERA: Any reason for him not to jump into the race? Are any of those good reasons?

ENTEN: I think you run. If you think you can win you run. He is ahead in the polls. It's not just that he is up around 30 percent of the polls. His favorable ratings are high. To me, I would run if he is interested in running. He has to make that determination for himself.

CABRERA: He is setting the scene to have every reason to run and not have these potential other vulnerabilities get into his side here.

Alex, let me talk about Elizabeth Warren. She is going into Iowa this weekend. It is the first state to vote for the nominees. And it's interesting that she and Bernie Sanders kind of come from a little bit of the same role. She is a woman. She has this populist message. Do you think it is fair to compare the two and does she have the advantage because she is a woman?

BURNS: I think it is fair to compare them in terms of the space that they occupy, the main issues are very much in the same space. I do think gender is going to be an enormous factor in this primary. It is an advantage for Elizabeth Warren and an advantage that she has not run before, the reality that Democrats in general we saw embraced a lot of women and they embraced a lot of first-time candidates or people who are new faces. Her biggest challenge may be that she has been around for as long as she has. On top of those differences with Sanders, I would add she has been sophisticated about talking about race and reaching out very explicitly to African-American leaders and primary voters at this early stage of the campaign. That is something that took Bernie Sanders a really long time to do. And it ended up being --


[11:35:05] CABRERA: Yet, it has been a bit of a thorn in her side because of the Native American aspect of her heritage that she touted for so long.


CABRERA: -- rolling out that video and when it comes to talking about race and ethnicity.

BURNS: There's no question that is a political vulnerability. The way she talks about the issues that Bernie Sanders talks about, economic inequality. She explicitly tied in race in a way that Sanders never did. I agree that the DNA fiasco is an issue to put to rest. It raised questions about judgment of electability that she is going into.

CABRERA: Harry, you're best at crunching the numbers and data. You looked at the midterms and you say Elizabeth Warren may not be as good as a candidate as others based on popularity with voters.

ENTEN: Right. Essentially, there are numerous ways you can look at electability. One way is look and say Elizabeth Warren won reelection by 24 points. She was running in Massachusetts which is a very blue state. If you look at how the Democrats did in the House races and you accumulate that you would see they won by about 36 percent points. That difference is among one of the worst nationwide. Bob Menendez, who was scandal-ridden going into the 2016 race, did better compared to House candidates in New Jersey. That's just one measure of electability. I think it is a concerning on top of the Native American scandal that occurred in October. It's been a bad few months for Elizabeth Warren. That doesn't mean she can't recover We are still a year out from the Iowa caucuses. A lot can happen.

CABRERA: Who is going to be jumping in next? Who is making the next announcement?

BURNS: I think the three candidates to watch as far as next big names to go would be Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and Kristen Gillibrand. They have the pieces in place. Their advisors say they'll go early in the year. It's a question of whether it's mid-January or late January or early February, but it'll be soon.

CABRERA: Gentlemen, thank you both. Good to see you.

BURNS: Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, trash cans overflowing, toilets nearing capacity at national parks across the country. You can thank the government shutdown for this mess. How bad is it? That's next.


[11:41:59] CABRERA: Imagine going to a national park and finding no one at the entry gate, trash cans piled up and overflowing, and toilets filled to capacity. Those are just some of the deteriorating conditions at Joshua Tree National Park in California. You can blame the government shutdown for it. The shutdown left the park severely understaffed making grounds hard to maintain. Now the park's camp grounds are forced to close for health and safety concerns.

CNN Correspondent Nick Watt is at Joshua Tree National Park.

Nick, what else are you seeing there?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this is the entrance of the park where they normally take the money, 30 bucks a car, that is closed, but the road is still open. The park is still open. The camp grounds are going to be the problem.

What is going on here is that at noon today all of those camp grounds will close. They have been keeping the park open largely with volunteers, about 200 people, local mountain guides, tribal members who rely on this place. They have been cleaning the toilets, restocking the toilet paper. I don't want to get too gross about it, but the issue is that the tanks of the vault toilets are reaching capacity and that is why they have to close those camp grounds.

The other issue is there aren't the normal levels of park rangers here. We have 1,200 miles wilderness here. They worry about illegal activity. People driving off roads, damaging the environment, bringing in their dogs, all of this trash piling up. And also the issue of search and rescue. People get in trouble there aren't the personnel to help them. We actually spoke this morning to a guy who broke his leg Christmas Eve at Big Bend Park in Texas. He was carried out by his buddy, by another family, and by one park ranger who was working there unpaid. So that is also a real issue in all these parks.

We are seeing problems across the west. In Yosemite , they're having similar issues with the waste and the garbage. Over in Colorado, they are having issues. They can't plow the roads at high elevation of the snow. A lot of these parks -- the National Parks Service has a plan that they came up with last year. They try to keep the parks open and try to keep stocking levels at a level to maintain property and life. After that, it's a problem.

This place, the camp grounds closing here in just a few hours from now and a lot of people's vacations are being impacted. This is a very popular park this time of year -- Ana?

CABRERA: Unfortunate situation.

Nick Watt, thank you.

[11:44:44] A toddler is injured by a rhino at a zoo in Florida and a zoo worker is mauled to death by a lion in North Carolina. Up next, just how safe are our zoos? What is being done to make sure these tragedies don't happen again?

Stay with us.


CABRERA: We're getting a better view this morning of the rhino enclosure at Florida's Brevard Zoo where a toddler slipped through a railing and was injured by one of the animals. Take a look at this. You can see the distance between the stole posts, wide enough far two- year-old little girl to wedge through while her family was taking part in a closeup, hands-on experience with white rhinos. Zoo officials say the toddler was bumped by a rhino. The girl's father pulled her out. She was rushed to the hospital. It's unclear what kind of injury she may have sustained. The child's mother was transported to the hospital with an arm injury.

The incident comes days after an internal was mauled to death by a lion that escaped its enclosure at a North Carolina wildlife preserve. And we have that 911 call.


[11:50:14] 911 OPERATOR: 911?

UNIDENTIFIED CONSERVATORS CENTER EMPLOYEE: This is the Conservators Center. We have had a lion attack.

911 OPERATOR: A lion attack?


911 OPERATOR: OK. The person that was attacked, how bad are they hurt?


911 OPERATOR: They're incapacitated. You can find out any more about the patient, call us back and let us know. We'll have EMS first responders on the way. My partner has already dispatched them.


CABRERA: CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us no now.

Miguel, let's talk about the rhino stuff. What happened and how is the child doing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The child is doing fine. The family just released a statement saying the mom, who was also injured, is out of the hospital. The child is being cared for at Arnold Palmer Hospital down there and seems to be fine but is seemingly still in the hospital. The family not exactly saying whether she is out of the hospital yet.

This happening on the first of the year. The Brevard Zoo first said that the child got through those metal grates. Said the father grasped the child the entire time that she slipped through the bar, first saying the rhino bumped her with its snout? It was two female rhinos that came out, bumped her with the snout? Now they're saying it touched her with the out? So it's not clear. Perhaps she got through the bar, fell back and hit one of the bars, and that may have caused the injury and they may be keeping her in the hospital out of an abundance of caution. The enclosure for these rhinos and similar enclosures at the zoo are closed pending an investigation to figure out if they can keep this from happening again.

CABRERA: This was a touch-and-feel exhibit of sorts. They have been doing this for years. MARQUEZ: There was a zoo employee there. They should brush them,

touch them, but you can't go through the enclosure, because these are 5,000-pound animals or more. And if it gives you a nose and you're a toddler, it's going to cause damage.

CABRERA: So this is an example of some of the problems that have emerged at zoos. And we've covered more and more of these stories in which people get into an enclosure or are injured by an animal. Are zoos being forced to make adjustments, to make changes?

MARQUEZ: There are. The other example you talked about at the top of this, with this 22-year-old intern. She was -- everything there's under investigation in Burlington, North Carolina, the Conservators Center, because she was an intern, had been there 10 days. The lions were locked in an enclosed area while she and other humans cleaned the enclosure and somehow the lion got out of the enclosure and attacked and killed her. That lion had to be put down. The rhinos are just fine. They won't be punished in any way.

CABRERA: Miguel Marquez, thanks for the update.

MARQUEZ: You've got it.

CABRERA: Coming up, Wall Street starting the New Year where 2018 ended, in the red. What's behind today's decline? We're live at the stock exchange.


[11:58:06] CABRERA: First trading day of 2019 and stocks are rebounding slightly after kicking off the year down triple digits. You see the Dow slightly lower right now. But 2018 was the worst year for U.S. stocks since the 2008 financial crisis.

CNN Business correspondent, Alison Kosik, is live at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, what's behind today's numbers?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we saw stocks as low as 398 points, talking about the Dow. So we are seeing stocks off their lows of the session. But the same concerns of 2008 are the same concerns of 2019. Foremost, the economic slowdown globally. New data today spooking investors. A report out of China showing manufacturing slowed down from November to December. It's the second report showing this contraction in the huge manufacturing sector of China and the concern is that that slowdown will lead into the U.S. China is the world's second-biggest economy. A lot of companies do a huge chunk of business in China, so if manufacturing slows down there, the worry is that can come here to the U.S.

One thing to keep in mind, the economy in the U.S. is strong but most economists believe the economy will slow down this year. Could it slow down enough to enter into a recession or will the Fed allow for a soft landing into a slowdown just before the U.S. economy could enter into recession? These are some of the concerns that are weighing on Wall Street.

Of course, the U.S. trade situation with China remains unresolved. That's a huge worry for countries as well. It's hard to plan when you have that uncertainty about what the trade situation will be.

Earnings come up in a few weeks. We'll see how much those concerns are impacting earnings.

Ana, back to you.

CABRERA: As we speak, Alison, the Dow dropping yet again to triple digits, 116 now, minus 120. All right, we'll stay on top of this.

Alison, thank you.

Thank you for joining me.