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Democratic Presidential Candidates Campaign in Early Primary States; Analysts Examine Possibility of Gun Control as Democratic Presidential Primary Issue; Anti-Government Protests in Haiti Continue; President Trump Declares National Emergency to Appropriate Funding for Border Wall; Property Owners Affected by Border Wall Construction Sue Federal Government over Eminent Domain Claims; Gunman Kills Five in Aurora, Illinois; Interview with Rep. Lucy McBath (D- GA); Former Vice President Joe Biden and Current Vice President Mike Pence Speak at International Security Conference in Munich, Germany. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- campaign events and meeting with voters today. As the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination heats up, many of the Democratic hopefuls are not shying away from big issues. Several are pushing for gun control in response to the latest mass shooting in the U.S.

We have a team of correspondents covering the candidates in these states with early primaries and caucuses. Let's go now to Wisconsin, where Suzanne Malveaux is covering Senator Amy Klobuchar as she campaigns in the Midwest. So Suzanne, what does she have planned?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On to Iowa, of course, and then New Hampshire for the CNN town hall later in the week. But this is a critical state, Fred, Wisconsin, and she really made that very clear here. This is a state that President Trump two years ago won by just one percent. It is also a place, a state where Hillary Clinton did not actually visit during the general election. Trump visited about six times.

And so Senator Amy Klobuchar is saying right out of the gate that this was a critical state, that she was going to be here on day one to really kick things off and move this forward, to try to make up for those Democrats, those rural Democrats that many people lost back in 2016. And so that was what she was doing at this bike and coffee shop. She was well received, a lot of enthusiasm here. This is Eau Claire. It is a Democratic enclave within the state of Wisconsin. So it was friendly territory. But this is where she is really kicking off and launching things.

And she is setting herself apart from her other Democratic rivals in many different ways, talking about climate change, taking on cyber security, and also taking on the spending bill. This was the bill that was signed into law just yesterday by the president keeping the government open, but at a cost. It was a negotiation process that she was a part of, so I asked her about that, her vision, her vote, very much different than Senators Warren, Booker, and Kamala Harris. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: You voted yes to the spending bill that would keep the government open, but it also allows $1.3 billion for the president's border barriers in the legislation. There are some who say it is a waste of money for a vanity project. Why did you vote that way?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Well, I have always supported border security. I just think we have to be smarter about how we do it. And that means some fencing. It means some barriers. And certainly, it means a focus on the ports of entry with what we're seeing with the drug trafficking. And so I viewed that compromise as very similar to what we had suggested way back in the fall. The question is not really what's wrong with that compromise, because it's very similar to what we had at the beginning. I think the question is, why did he put America through a shutdown, the longest shutdown in history, 800,000 workers not being paid, TSA agents at the front line doing their job, workers furloughed with the doors shut to their workplace? That's a better question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So Fred, I asked her as well about the border and the fact that the president called it -- declared it a national emergency. She pushed back, saying of course that that's going to be facing legal challenges, going through the court system. But you can tell, Fred, in many different avenues, many different issues, whether it's cyber security, whether it's immigration reform, that she is not afraid to stand out in the pack here, to take that pragmatic role, to take that kind of position here that is unapologetic. And she says she is one of compromise, bipartisanship, and in many different ways proposing bills and legislation that she is working with Republicans and hopes to work with this president in the next couple of years, and also convince voters that she is the one who is going to be able to get something done, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Let's talk further now. With me now is me Tara Setmayer, a CNN political commentator, and Ken Cuccinelli, a CNN legal and political commentator and a former Republican attorney general for Virginia. Good to see both of you.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: So immigration of course will be a hot topic, as will gun control already turning out to be an item that many of these Democrat candidates want to talk about now. And I wonder, Tara, is it less risky to talk about gun control in the primary season, but a totally different season, issue, when it comes down to the general election?

SETMAYER: I would say that that's probably true for a lot of hot button issues. What you do in the primary is often very different than a general just because of the nature of the electorate. We've seen that, just look at the Republican primary and what we ended up with.

Listen, the issue of gun control is such a difficult one because it is multi-faceted. It's an emotional issue. It's also a Constitutional right that we're talking about with the Second Amendment. So the heartbreaking tragedies that we see taking place over and over again, people want a sense of what can we do to stop this. Never again.

[14:05:00] But the problem is that there are already thousands of gun laws on the books. And you're never going to be able to legislate evil, and you're never going to be able to legislate human error. And in a lot of these instances, it's not anything that we could have done, or another law could have changed. A lot of times, it's somewhere, the system broke down. Maybe there's things we can tighten up. But there is no one panacea to fix this short of full confiscation, which is never happening in this country, nor should it.

So it's a really difficult issue, and I would just hope that Democrat for their sake, they don't overstep with this, because going into a general election, people will rally around protecting your Second Amendment right and then nothing gets done and we keep going back around in circles. So it is a tough issue, but it's complicated.

WHITFIELD: Very complicated. So Ken, how do you see the GOP taking advantage of, or looking for real vulnerabilities when the Democrats do try to talk gun control?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think a different Republican might sort of give them time and space, but this president seems to want to attack immediately. But if you look at the states that are going to probably going to decide this election in the same way they decided the last one, pretty much from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, you have a lot of pro-gun union Democrats in those states. And the primary, and I agree that this is true on both sides, but this time it's maybe a 20-person Democrat field, primaries drive candidates to the left for the Democrats. And this is a dangerous issue in those states for Democrats because there are actual pro-gun Democrats in those states in large numbers, literally, Pennsylvania, you got a tremendous hunting population, Ohio, no different, Indiana, Illinois, not that the Republicans have a shot there, but --

SETMAYER: Wisconsin.

CUCCINELLI: Wisconsin, Michigan. Michigan being the most obvious of them all. So this is a really difficult primary general balance for them. And I do think Americans, people who are pro-gun pay closer attention. There are more single-issue gun owners than there are on a lot of other issues. And that is going to cause the Democrats problems in those Rustbelt states.

WHITFIELD: And the day after what happened in Aurora, Illinois, with that workplace shooting, take a listen to what Beto O'Rourke had to say just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BETO O'ROURKE, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: First of all, just a real tragedy for the families, for the community, for the co- workers there. They're in my thoughts, in our prayers. And also they're going to be in the actions that we take going forward to make sure that we do more to save more lives and do everything we can to support those families who have lost so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Tara, does it become a real fine line, none of these candidates want to politicize, but at the same time want to address.

SETMAYER: Right. The rhetoric on this is pretty standard, right? You know what to say, you appeal to the empathy that people have on this situation because it's tragic. And again, that goes back to, OK, so now what are you going to do about that? If nothing was done overarching since Sandy Hook, since Las Vegas, since Parkland, those things did not really move the needle with any kind of sweeping gun control legislation.

So what are Democrats exactly proposing that would have changed these things? They have yet to define that. And when they start to, then we start getting into areas where for people who are law-abiding gun owners, which are the majority of this country who own guns, they will go, wait a minute, you're not going to come for my guns, and then the fearmongering starts. So it's very difficult.

To Ken's point about Pennsylvania and pro-gun Democrats, just look at Conor Lamb's race out there in Pennsylvania. He was one of those people. If Democrats run a national candidate that has those kinds of viewpoints that they can kind of express the empathy but also respect the Second Amendment, they will attract more folks in the middle. It is a tough balance, though. I don't know if you're going to get that in a primary.

WHITFIELD: And quickly, Ken, what did you mean by that expression?

CUCCINELLI: Well, I do think that, first of all, these things do get politicized. And it is very rare, very rare to actually find a new law that would stop an incident. That's what's so frustrating frequently is all we hear is rhetoric. This is terrible. Of course, death and tragedy is terrible. And look, five law enforcement officers were wounded trying to stop this person, and the sixth injury --

WHITFIELD: They gave us an update on six, actually.

CUCCINELLI: And we haven't heard anything about those brave folks, either. And you don't hear that in the Democrat primary right now.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Ken Cuccinelli, Tara Setmayer, good to see you both.

SETMAYER: Thank you.

CUCCINELLI: Thank you.

[14:10:03] WHITFIELD: AND of course, if you want to join us Monday night as 2020 presidential candidate Senator Klobuchar takes questions in a New Hampshire town hall moderated by Don Lemon. That's Monday night, 10:00 eastern, only on CNN.

The U.S. is urging American citizens to leave Haiti amid growing unrest there. Several people have been reportedly killed in protests over the past week against the country's president. Tourists are reportedly trapped, including a group of missionaries who have turned to GoFundMe to try to raise money to try to leave the country. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Haiti. So Miguel, the president there still refusing to resign. What have people in general been saying, and what are the options there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are 10 days into this crisis right now, Fredricka, and it is not very clear how it is going to play out. We know the prime minister is meant to speak tonight to try to fill in some of the gaps that the president left when he said he had a plan to make things better for the people of Haiti. But one thing is very clear, just being here for a short time. Gas, food, water, the basics of life are in short supply here and people are extraordinarily upset. This is a gas station. Most of the pumps are free of gas. There's no gas to be had. But people pull up anyway to try to wait and hope that gas comes. The people lined up here are waiting for kerosene, cooking gas, so they can actually cook food if they can get it.

The other issue here is water. Massive lines for water. Everywhere you go in this town, just clumps of people, crowds of people hanging around a single spigot or a single hose, trying to fill a five-gallon bucket of water so that they can have some fresh water for the time being.

The inflation rate here, over the last three years is also a huge problem for people. You earn a buck today in Haiti, and in a month or so, it is only worth 50, 60, 70 cents or so. So people who are up against it just can't survive in these conditions. They are extraordinarily upset. They want the president to resign. He has given zero indication that he will resign, but says he will offer up this plan. The prime minister says he is going to offer up more details of that plan later today. We will have to see what they are.

Today is relatively quiet here in town. There may be some scattered protests, but nothing like we've seen over the last nine days or so. You don't have the roads blocked, tires burning everywhere. The town seems to be trying to come back to life right now, but they're a long way from it. You can see they went after banks, they went after any sort of government agency, any of those sort of buildings of officialdom is where protesters put most of their energy. We're not seeing that today, but it is very unclear how this is going to play out. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much. Keep us posted there in Port-au-Prince.

Still ahead, President Trump declaring a national emergency in this country in an effort to get more border wall money. But he's already seeing legal challenges. And a deadly shooting in Illinois. Police are releasing new details

as they piece together the investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:36] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump is already facing some big legal hurdles less than 24 hours after declaring a national emergency along the southern border. Three lawsuits have already been filed, including one by El Paso County, Texas, and two others by government watchdog groups. One of those suits include three Texas landowners who are worried the wall will be built on their land. As CNN's Ed Lavandera reports, they aren't the only ones with concerns over eminent domain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Along a quiet stretch of the Rio Grande in south Texas, there is a place that is just home to butterflies, hundreds of different species. And Marianna Wright has spent the last two weeks fighting to keep President Trump's border wall from cutting through the 100 acres of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.

MARIANNA WRIGHT, NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER: Here is where they just came and put all these stakes. They will be starting on this federal piece of land.

LAVANDERA: Last year Congress approved the construction of 33 miles of new border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, and construction is about to begin in the coming weeks. Part of the wall was supposed to cut right through the butterfly center, leaving some of the property south of the border wall, and some north. The government used eminent domain to seize the necessary land to build the wall, much to the dismay of the center's executive director.

WRIGHT: They are seizing the land of taxpaying citizens and pushing the boundaries of Mexico north of the Rio Grande River, something General Santa Ana was never able to do. Trump is making America smaller, not greater.

LAVANDERA: But the Congressional spending bill offered a last-minute reprieve to the Butterfly Center and four other specific locations. For now, no border wall in the Butterfly Center. But wall will come right up to their property lines and leave a quarter mile stretch of the center's property wide open. But Butterfly Center officials say they're worried the Trump administration will use the national emergency declaration to keep trying to close the gap, and they're worried about what it's doing to the other landowners who haven't been spared.

WRIGHT: This is a shame. This is a national disgrace. And the idea that it's going to happen, and produce none of the purported benefit, that's like going and buying a new car and driving it into a building. Why would you do that?

[14:20:03] LAVANDERA: The Butterfly Center's legal battle points a poignant picture of what lies ahead. The congressional spending bill compromise allocates nearly $1.4 billion to construct another 55 miles of border barrier in various locations in the Rio Grande Valley.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to get rid of drugs and gangs and people. It's an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop, but it's very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy.

LAVANDERA: Much of this new construction will be on private property, which means the federal government will likely have to sue land owners to acquire the land. Down the road from the National Butterfly Center, Fred Cavazos and his family are still trying to stop the construction of the looming barrier.

FRED CAVAZOS: We've had this property all our lives.

LAVANDERA: Cavazos and his family own 70 acres that will be left south of the border barrier in a no-man's land. They have been tied up in eminent domain litigation but are losing hope they'll stop the wall from being built starting in the next few weeks.

So you're running out of time.

CAVAZOS: Yes. What can you do? You can't fight the government. We'll try. We will try to stop them and stall a little bit. We can't stop the government. They'll do what they want to do.

LAVANDERA: So the Rio Grande Valley braces for what most residents here say is the unwelcome wall.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Mission, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And for more on the growing list of legal obstacle, let's bring in Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas. Steve, good to see you. So this fight over eminent domain expected to be a big hurdle in court. So do the people who are trying to protect their land really even stand a chance? You heard the last gentlemen who was like, fighting the government, that's pretty hard.

STEVE VLADECK, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF LAW: I think, Fredricka, in the context of eminent domain case, the litigation would boil down to whether the government has a justifiable public use for taking these people's land. I think for everything we might feel, for everything we might think about the border, about the wall, about the national emergency, I think the government is going to be on slightly stronger footing Arguing THAT there is a public use justifying the taking of the land in this context, as opposed to those places where --

WHITFIELD: How so?

VLADECK: Well, because I think if building a border wall I think does have at least some public use from the perspective of the national security implication, from the perspective of making it harder for those attempting to enter the United States to do so outside of ports of entry.

I think the real question is whether courts are going to be more skeptical of the public use justification in this context given the baggage. Given that the president went to Congress, tried to get money from Congress, got less than what he asked for, and is now trying this end run through the emergency declaration.

WHITFIELD: Except you're also going to have homeowners similar to Nida (ph) Alvarez, who was on CNN's air, who is part of one of the lawsuits who says in the 40 years that she has owned and lived on her property, which is on the border, she is actually never seen anyone who is illegal who has been crossing. So won't that testimony establish we don't, meaning those land owners who want to keep their properties, those landowners say we don't see a threat and we don't want to seize or allow our property to be taken. Won't that also be powerful?

VLADECK: Yes, I think ultimately that is certainly going to factor into what the courts do in these cases. I think the key, though, is whether taking the property on a whole serves a public use. The Supreme Court at least historically, Fredricka, has been fairly deferential to the government when it comes to asserting public use. I think the million-dollar question, really the $1.5 billion question is this context is whether the courts are going to be similarly deferential here given all the surrounding politics.

Congress passed the Secure Fences Act back in 2006 to deal with at least some parts of the border in the Rio Grande Valley. There is still litigation over some of the eminent domain cases arising out of that statute going on 13 years later. So I think the one thing we can say with confidence is this isn't going to be resolved any time soon. It is going to take the courts quite a bit of time to sort all of this out.

WHITFIELD: And the president made it very clear from the Rose Garden that he is rather familiar with the way in which it will play out. This was the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will have a national emergency. And we will then be sued. And they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling. And then we will get another bad ruling. And then we'll ends up in the Supreme Court. And hopefully we'll get a fair shake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So if you have reminded us that other cases have been in litigation for 13 years, is the president talking about a sequence that could last long like that?

VLADECK: Possibly, Fredricka. I think the odds are that these case, the one specifically arising out of the national emergency declaration will move faster because I think we're going to see plaintiffs in these cases seeking a kind of emergency relief, an injunction.

[14:25:08] And those cases tend to get from trial courts to circuit courts to the Supreme Court much faster. The one important point to say, I think in response to the president, though, is the first of the cases that were filed, they haven't all been filed in the Ninth Circuit in California. Actually, one of the most important cases we've seen so far, was filed in the president's backyard in Washington. So this isn't going to be about plaintiffs picking judges who are sympathetic to them. This is going to be about courts across the country confronting the I think deeply troubling implications of the president's action.

WHITFIELD: All fascinating. Steve Vladeck, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

VLADECK: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:22] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We have new details now about the gunman who killed five employees in a Chicago suburb. Police say 45-year-old Gary Martin went to work yesterday and was let go from the Henry Pratt Manufacturing Plant. Police say directly after that meeting, he opened fire on co-workers, killing five of them and injuring six officers before he was killed by police. Police say Martin should have never had access to his weapon. CNN's Scott McLean joins us now from Aurora, Illinois. So what are you learning about how all of this unfolded?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. First off, I can give an update on those police officers. The six were injured, you mentioned five of them were actually hit with gunfire, two of them remain in the hospital. They range in age from 24-years-old right up to 53-years-old.

We're also learning the names of the five victims who were killed in this case. Two of them actually worked in human resources at the company. In fact, one of them was an intern. It was his very first day as an intern. He was scheduled to graduate in May of this year.

Gary Martin had been called in for a meeting with human resources because he was to be fired that day, and he was. And immediately afterwards, police say that is when he opened fire. Now, the police chief, the local police chief here, said that it is possible that he had a feeling that he was going to get fired, or that something about this meeting maybe gave him the sense that he was likely to be fired because he had on him several magazines worth of ammunition.

There were three other people who were also shot and killed. One of them was a mold operator, another was a forklift orator, and the plant manager as well. It is not clear at this point whether or not that was targeted, or whether he was just shooting at random employees at that point. From the first shot that was fired from when Gary Martin, this 45-

year-old suspect, was actually finally taken down by police, it was one hour and 35 minutes. They eventually found him in a back machine shop. He seemed to be waiting for police because he fired at them when they went into that area. Here's more from the police chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF KRISTEN ZIMAN, AURORA POLICE: The only thing I know is that he was called in. Once again, we can surmise that he was speculative about what was going to happen, as evidenced by him arming himself with a firearm. That's, again, we're speculating there. So I don't know exactly what was communicated to him. He did report for a meeting where he was terminated. Several were shot in the room with him, and there was another on a different level. The fact remains is that some disgruntled person walked in and had access to a firearm that he shouldn't have had access to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: So Gary Martin should not have had access to a firearm because he had a criminal past. Yet in 2014 he purchased a gun after passing a background check. He then applied for a concealed carry permit. And at that point, he had to run his fingerprints through a national database and they found out that he was a felon, convicted in the '90s in Mississippi. And so at that point, his right to own a weapon was revoked.

Just confirmed with the Illinois state police that they did send him a letter saying you need to turn in your gun license, in state they call it a FOID Card, and also his weapon, though it is not clear that any level of law enforcement, whether it was the state police or the local law enforcement here in Aurora actually followed up on that process. From the law, that the local police can petition the court to actually seize that weapon, to get a warrant and seize that weapon. It's not clear where in the chain this system broke down in this case, though, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Scott McLean, thank you so much.

And stay with us. When we come back, we'll talk with Congresswoman Lucy McBath who knows firsthand how it feels to lose a loved one in a shooting. And now she is a newly-elected member of Congress helping to lead a charge to change gun laws.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:38:37] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The deadly shooting in Aurora, Illinois, that claimed the lives of five people came just two days after the house Judiciary Committee advanced its first gun violence legislation bill in years. The bill, which would require federal background checks for all gun purchases, was championed by committee member Lucy McBath, a newly-elected Democrat from Georgia. Congresswoman McBath tragically lost her own son, he was 17 at the time, Jordan, to gun violence in 2012.

I'm joined by Congresswoman Lucy McBath. Good to see you.

REP. LUCY MCBATH, (D) GEORGIA: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: So this is really very bittersweet, because today would have been Jordan's 24th birthday.

MCBATH: Yes. Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: How have you been galvanized by his death, all that you have experienced, to say instead of lobbying, going after lawmakers, I'm going to help effect change?

MCBATH: Well, I began to recognize, most specifically after the Parkland shooting, I wept waiting for our legislators to really push back with President Trump, pushing him to do something about this culture. And I thought there would be something done when I saw President Trump sitting with all of our federal legislators at the round table and they were joking and laughing about the NRA gun lobby, and President Trump said you don't need to be afraid of the NRA gun lobby.

[14:40:07] And he says we need background checks. And then within 24 hours, he flipped. And I recognized then that who was going to stand up. And if I had already been working so diligently with survivors and lawmakers and other legislators in other states, trying to enact some commonsense solutions, so that no one would suffer a tragedy like myself, or the Parkland families, I had already lost enough. I had nothing else to lose, and I myself was going to stand up to challenge Washington.

WHITFIELD: So then what does it feel like today, what would have been your son's 24th birthday, and while there is this slice of victory, at the same time, you're thinking about your son. You're doing it for your son.

MCBATH: It is bittersweet. Today would have been Jordan's 24th birthday, and I wonder who would he have become, what would he be doing, how would we be celebrating him today. But in a sense, I believe that I am celebrating his life as well as his death, working for commonsense solutions, being able to be a part of the legislative body that can really help push the policy forward to save as many lives as we can. And every day that I'm there on the Hill, every day that I'm talking to constituents, every day that I sit in the Judiciary meetings and hearings, I am reminded over and over again that what I'm doing really matters. And it still matters for Jordan even though he is not here with us.

WHITFIELD: He is with you.

MCBATH: Yes, he is, spiritually.

WHITFIELD: You feel that he is helping you do all of this.

MCBATH: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: So a very similar bill of expanding background checks was defeated in just 2013, particularly in the Senate. While you have this support now in your committee, in the House, are you worried about the next steps for it?

MCBATH: I'm not worried about the next steps. Of course they're going to be challenging. We do believe that we'll have full support in the House when we go before the floor. We'll have the number of votes to pass it on the house. Of course, we've got to take the bill, of course, to the Senate.

But I truly believe that there are enough of our senators that really believe that this is a public health crisis, and that anyone can suffer what happened to Parkland. Any community can suffer that. No one is immune to gun violence. It's in every space of America. And I think that constituents even within their own districts are beginning to say, this is a scourge on America, and do you have an accountability and responsibility to keeping us safe. And let's find a way, without infringing upon people's Second Amendment rights, to make sure that we can balance those rights with common sense solutions to keep us safe.

WHITFIELD: So talk to me about the frustration that comes when another shooting takes place. It was hard enough, devastating enough, continues to be so, with the passing, with the killing of your son, and then Parkland. And then Aurora just yesterday. Talk to me about the frustration that comes with collectively a nation saying this is horrible, this is terrible, this shouldn't happen, but then nothing powerful seems to happen.

MCBATH: There is a frustration, because for me, I recognize that this is becoming our new normal, and that's not good. And I recognize that every single day, there are about 100 people every day that continue to die unnecessarily due to our extremist culture. And with our inability to act on these measures and to push them forth to keep people safe, we're going to continue to be this, this country and this nation, that puts guns over God and public profit with guns over public safety. And I just refuse to believe that we are a nation that will continue to live this way.

WHITFIELD: Do you feel like this is a national crisis that needs addressing with a declaration of an emergency?

MCBATH: I don't like to say that -- personally, I believe this is a public health crisis. Personally, I believe that, yes, we are at an emergency state. But I think that we need to make sure that we use the checks and balances, the constitutional responsibility that myself and my colleagues have, to make sure that we're following all of the checks and balances without deciding that this is an emergency that really when we're circumventing executive oversight. And I don't think that we should be doing that. I think that we should make sure that we're following the system, the checks and balances, putting forth these bills and these measures constitutionally in the correct way to make sure that we're really making the best decisions, the most sound decisions, as to what really constitutes an emergency, a national emergency.

[14:45:13] WHITFIELD: This is how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sees it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. Why don't you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Do you see those are ominous words of what potentially is on the horizon?

MCBATH: I'm fairly sure that there's going to be far more talk about making sure that we keep Americans safe going forward. I know that Chairman Nadler who I sit under with the Judiciary Committee is very, very committed to making sure that we're keeping Americans safe. I know that Speaker Pelosi and a lot of the leaders are very committed. And there are some Senate members that are also, Republicans that are also very committed. And so I'm committed to reaching across the aisle to everyone that is willing to make sure that we do the right thing, and do the right thing by our constituents.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Lucy McBath, congratulations again.

MCBATH: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:51] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Former Vice President Joe Biden has not said if he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, but today he showed off some of his foreign policy credentials. Biden told a major global security conference in Munich, he does not have any hesitations when it comes to European security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I strongly support NATO. I believe it is the single most significant military alliance in the history of the world. And I think it has been the basis upon which we have been able to keep peace and stability for the past 70 years. And it is the heart of our collective security. It's the basis upon which the United States is able to exercise its responsibilities in other parts of the world as well.

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WHITFIELD: Current Vice President Mike Pence was also at the conference, and he told U.S. allies that the strategy of pulling U.S. troops in Syria was not giving up on the fight against ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This is a change in tactics, not a change in mission. The United States will keep a strong presence in the region. We recognize it will not be enough to simply reclaim the territory of the caliphate. As we enter this new phase, the United States will continue to work with all of our allies to hunt down the remnants of ISIS wherever and whenever they rear their ugly head.

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WHITFIELD: CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now from Munich. So Nic, very different messages coming from the sitting and the former vice presidents. So how were they received?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Fredricka, it was sort of a Ying and Yang of what U.S. foreign policy is and could be. You have to say when listening to Vice President Mike Pence, he had a very clear message, a direct one for the Europeans, on Iran not to undermine U.S. sanctions on Iran.

And of course, nobody in the audience stands down and says no, we don't like your message Mr. Vice president, although I did talk to the foreign minister, for example, of Lithuania, who said, look, we'd like to see more evidence why the United States is making this case.

But I think the best way that you could see the difference these two messages between Biden and Pence was received was the reception that they got from the audience. Biden several times got big rounds of applause, as did Nancy Pelosi sitting in the audience when she was introduced by one of the chairs of the security conference here. So I think there was a real sense of the foreign policy that Democrats are offering goes down much better here, right now, than what they're hearing from Republicans, from Vice President Mike Pence at least. And we got a sense of that from Angela Merkel who questioned the vice president on the wise-ness of pulling out troops, U.S. troops from Syria, saying isn't that just going to give the ground to Iran and to Russia? So I think really the audience here really is shaded way behind Biden's approach than it would be the current vice president.

WHITFIELD: That's interesting. So then does that mean the European alleys went as far as displaying whether they would look beyond the Trump administration?

ROBERTSON: You certainly get a sense of the discussions here, and it's not just from the Europeans as well. I went to a speech by former U.S. Ambassador Douglas Lute and former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns talking about the strategies and the difficulties that NATO faces right now. And there is a real sense that there is a need for U.S. leadership in the world not just at NATO but many other international bodies. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, alluded to this as well.

So there is this sort of sense and hope that these issues are stacking up, that they need to be addressed. One of the fundamental things going on here, Fredricka, quite frankly, is a real recognition that the world order is changing. It's not the old world order. It's not just changing. It's changed. [14:55:03] So there is a hope here that a U.S. leadership will emerge

that wants to embrace some of the things that has made the democratic countries of the world stronger. So yes, there is a sense that it is just a couple of years until the next U.S. election. And if there is a Democrat, then it may be more to Europe's liking. But that doesn't go to say, of course, that they wouldn't respect and respond positively to a Republican leadership either. But there is a real sense that beyond President Trump, there is something else, and that would be preferable to many of leaders who are here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson in Munich, thank you so much.

And thank you for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I will see you back here tomorrow. Right now, the Newsroom continues with Ana Cabrera, up next.

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