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North Korea Launches Multiple Projectiles; Flight from Guantanamo Bay Skids off Florida Runway; Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn Crowned; Trump Fails to Address Election Meddling with Putin; Trump Unhappy with Teases of Venezuelan Military Option; Cindy Warmbier Urges U.S. to Keep Pressure on North Korea; Democrats Crowd the Field with 21 Presidential Candidates; "Jeopardy!" Contestant Can't Stop Winning. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 4, 2019 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Multiple projectiles launched by North Korea, a move sure to raise tensions while talks of denuclearization with the U.S. remain stalled.

Plus this --


CHERYL BORMANN, PASSENGER: We couldn't tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean.


HOWELL (voice-over): A Boeing 737 plane skids off the runway and into a river. Upon landing in Florida, everyone makes it off safely.

Also ahead this hour, he's been ruling for more than two years but now Thailand has officially crowned its new king.

Live from Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: We start with the breaking news out of North Korea, the nation firing off several short range projectiles, all of this happening Saturday morning on the east coast of North Korea near Wonsan. According to South Korea's defense ministry, whatever was fired flew a few hundred kilometers and crashed into the sea.

Japan, however, says that the projectiles did not enter its waters. The U.S., South Korea and Japan are working together to figure out exactly what was fired. And Paula Hancocks also following this story.

Do we know anything more about these projectiles? PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, we're still waiting for some kind of confirmation from the joint chiefs of staff here in Seoul. They are saying that the U.S. and South Korean intelligence are working closely to try to analyze the data.

That will make a big difference to the response from Washington. We have had a response in the past few minutes from the Blue House, the presidential office here, saying that the government is very concerned that North Korea's actions go against a military agreement signed between Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in back on September 19th.

Within that agreement, the two leaders had said that they would halt all acts that would heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula. So as far as the Blue House is concerned, this goes against that. And they are hoping that North Korea will return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

But beyond that, we haven't had much in the way of response from the United States. But we do know there has been a flurry of phone calls between foreign ministers and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; he spoke to the South Korean and Japanese foreign minister.

But the message from North Korea, I think many agree, would be a reminder to Washington that they could potentially go back to the days of 2017, the days of testing. But, of course, it really does depend on exactly what they tested, whether it was a missile or a multiple launch rocket system, that does make a difference.

HOWELL: And certainly there in South Korea, it does give us a sense of the jitters, given that we haven't seen anything like that in such a long time and now we're turning to these projectiles that were fired.

Well, I don't think that there is a sense of jitters in South Korea at this point. There is a very big difference between a short range projectile and, for example, an ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile. This is the last thing that North Korea tested back in November 2017.

And that is when -- or shortly afterwards -- Kim Jong-un said that he was going to impose a unilateral freeze on testing ICBMs and on nuclear testing. He did not say that he wasn't going to test short range projectiles.

And just a few weeks ago, there was a weapons guided system that North Korea tested and did specify what they had tested. So these kinds of things are continuing with North Korea. At no point has Kim Jong-un said that he would end his own drills or that he's called for the U.S. or South Korea to do that. But it really depends what was tested.

HOWELL: It is good to understand that distinction. Paula, thank you for the reporting.

Now to the U.S. state of Florida, where a plane slid off the runway Friday night.


HOWELL: Take a look here.

Luckily all 143 people on board the flight made it off in one piece, this happening at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The Boeing 737, coming from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ended up in the St. John's River. Again, no one was seriously hurt.


CAPT. MICHAEL CONNOR, NAS JACKSONVILLE: I think it is a miracle, we could be talking about a different story this evening. So I think there is a lot to say about, you know, the professionalism of the folks that helped the passengers off the airplane. There is a lot to say about that because it very well could be worse.


HOWELL: Passenger Cheryl Bormann says that she has nothing but praise for the flight crew who handled a very scary situation. Listen.


CHERYL BORMANN, PASSENGER: As we went down, we had a really hard landing. And then the plane bounced and screeched and bounced some more. And it listed to the right and then it listed to the left. And then it sort of swerved and then it came to a complete -- like a crash stop.

And my head moved forward. And I hit my head on the plastic tray that is in front of you. I'm not injured, thankfully. It's just a little bump on the head. But at any rate, at that point, the flight attendants did a great job. They got everybody into life vests and we climbed onto the wing. We were in water. We couldn't tell where we were, whether it was a river or an ocean.

There was rain coming down. There was lightning, thunder. And we stood on that wing for a significant period of time. The rescue folks came. Eventually somebody inflated a life raft that had been on the plane and we began climbing into it.


HOWELL: Let's get perspective with Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of, joining us via Skype from Perth, Australia.

Good to have you, Geoffrey.


HOWELL: So we know that it was raining there in Jacksonville during the time that this plane touched down.

How common would you say it is for a plane to skid off the runway as we saw here? THOMPSON: Fortunately it is not very common. However what we believe has happened here, George, has yet to be confirmed. But the weather from Jacksonville Naval Air Station tells us that there was thunderstorm activity, as evidenced by your interview subject.

And we understand that the plane was coming into land with a headwind, into wind about 10 miles an hour but then suddenly, due to the thunderstorm, we had a microburst where suddenly the wind changes from a headwind to a tailwind and the tailwind component was 20 miles an hour. So there was dramatic wind shift and very heavy rain.

And this really did impact the performance of the plane on landing and the ability of the pilots to pull it up. The runway was quite long for a 737, 9,000 feet. There was a 1,000-foot overrun, which was before you got into the St. John's River.

So there's basically 10,000 feet of runway or overrun before you got into the St. John's River. So this tailwind has had a major impact on the performance of the aircraft and caused it to overrun into the river.

HOWELL: So obviously the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will investigate what happened here.

But what more can you tell you us about the 737 plane?

And also there in Jacksonville two runways, one shorter than the other; still unclear exactly which was in use here. But just talk to us about the length of the runway and the type of plane that was landing in this particular situation.

THOMAS: Certainly. Yes, George, we do know that in fact it was landing on the longer of the two runways. This is the runway that runs from west to east. It is runway 1-0. So it was landing on the longer one.

The 737 involved in this accident is what is called a 737NG, the previous model to the Max that is currently grounded because of a software issue.


THOMAS: But the 737NG is the most widely used airplane in the world. There are 7,000 in service around the globe. It has an excellent safety record. And basically it is the backbone of the world's aviation fleet.

HOWELL: Geoffrey, we certainly are thankful that everyone got off that plane safely. We appreciate your perspective on it and we'll obviously look to see what investigators have to say from their research on it. Thank you.

In Thailand, where the king has officially ascended to the throne once occupied by his late father. Take a look at the moment that the 66- year-old ruling monarch was formally crowned, the moment he received an ornate umbrella of white silk, of Thai royalty. The last time this happened was 1950. The king was then presented

with the royal objects of his high office, including a heavy crown adorned with diamonds. The entire coronation ceremony lasted for several hours.

There celebration includes a variety of official events over three days. CNN's Will Ripley has been following all of this and explains what we're seeing.

So many rituals taking place. Help us to understand how significant these moments are.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George, yes, these are extraordinary moments that most people here in Thailand are seeing this for the first time. This is this country's first coronation in 69 years, since the last one in 1950.

The new king was not even alive when Thailand had its last coronation. So you are seeing the royal audience taking place right now. It is a very dramatic scene. You see all of the gold, the crown, which is the great crown of victory.

The king was introduced when a golden curtain was lifted. So it's an extraordinarily theatrical moment. Some of these traditions, this pageantry, this opulence goes back to the 13th century.

This is one of many elaborate ceremonies that he the new king has ordered since becoming the king, more so than perhaps his predecessor, his father.

Dominic Faulder, of "Nikkei Asian Review" and editor of a book on the king's life's work is here with me.

And you have said that the king, because he isn't so well known to the Thai people, he doesn't have the 70-year track record, he is 66 years old, lives most of the time in Munich.

So these ceremonies are a way for him to build up his legitimacy in the eyes of people here in Thailand.

DOMINIC FAULDER, "NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW": Well, they are important to him. He (INAUDIBLE) in 2016 and he had to go through a accession ceremony (INAUDIBLE) remarkably elaborate.

And then we had another ceremony with the signing of the constitution and that was (INAUDIBLE). But that was the most elaborate ceremony that's been done in about 50 years.

RIPLEY: This is the royal barge --


FAULDER: -- royal barge procession. (INAUDIBLE). But then we have the spectacular grand cremation of the king a year after his death and that was the grandest ceremony seen in history. So, yes, these ceremonies are to remind people that he is around and

he comes in for the smaller ceremonies such as changing the government's (INAUDIBLE). So he does that to remind people that he is around.

RIPLEY: So we have a big -- there will be a parade happening tomorrow. You see the royal audience here, the gold curtain closed. But this is a complicated time here in Thailand. They are expecting the election results this week for the election held back in March.

FAULDER: So the election results have actually been held over from March for space for this coronation. Now we'll go forward and find out what actually happened in terms of voting, you have 150 party seats. And the formula (ph) is unclear.

RIPLEY: You've described the political climate currently here is quite toxic, which can affect the monarchy as well.

FAULDER: It's uncertain. We don't know what will happen next. We have a lot of wrangling going on. The military (INAUDIBLE) are quite clearly intent on retaining control of the country.

RIPLEY: And the role of the monarch is to provide a sense of national unity.

FAULDER: Yes. So classically, the monarchy should be a stabilizing influence, it should be there, not interfering directly with party politics, in the background, trying to just support the constitutional system.

RIPLEY: Do you think this king is fulfilling that role of unifying the nation?


RIPLEY: We haven't seen the huge crowds out here het but tomorrow more people could be the main event where you see more people fill the streets --


FAULDER: Those are two different things. Tomorrow we'll see how many people come out for the beautiful ceremony with the parade (INAUDIBLE) a beautiful piece of Thai history being enacted.


FAULDER: -- TV coverage

RIPLEY: -- and this is black and white footage of how it looked back in 1950 --


FAULDER: -- this is really quite remarkable. This is the same ceremony (INAUDIBLE). So that's one thing. I think we should keep all that separate. Yes, Thai politics are very difficult. They were very difficult before he became king and they are a problem for everybody.

And I would have thought -- it should be quite obvious that it's in his interest to have civility, that he would like a peaceful life. So we'll have to see how it can be achieved.

RIPLEY: It's been a busy week. Dominic, thanks so much for all of your expertise and analysis throughout the hours. You've lived here since 1981 for the greater part of 38 years. And so you've seen quite a bit.


FAULDER: And my first coronation.

RIPLEY: -- your first coronation, yes, the last one back in 1950.

It's been a busy week for the king, George. He surprised people on Wednesday that he was getting married to Queen Suthida. She was General Suthida. He met her back in 2014. She was a key fixture but the relationship was never publicly acknowledged until Wednesday, when the marriage was announced.

She is now the queen of Thailand. She is his fourth wife. And it is one of many interesting things that we continue to learn about the new Thai king as we report on the ground here in Bangkok.

HOWELL: Will Ripley, live for us in Bangkok. Thank you.

Tropical depression Fani is weakening as it closes in on Bangladesh but, as a cyclone, it left behind great damage in India. That story is next for you.





HOWELL: Welcome back.

U.S. president Trump says that he had a wide ranging phone call with Vladimir Putin during which they discussed Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling, which Mr. Trump has called a hoax on Twitter. But as CNN's Abby Phillip reports, President Trump didn't warn his Russian counterpart to stay out of the next U.S. election.


QUESTION: Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We didn't discuss that. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump today speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Mueller investigation, but he didn't bring up the report's major finding, that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

QUESTION: Mr. President, did you address the election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with President Putin today?

TRUMP: We discussed it. He actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse. But he knew that, because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever. So, pretty much, that is what it was.

PHILLIP: But that's hardly how Mueller would put it. Mueller found insufficient evidence to prove criminal conspiracy, but the investigation concluded, "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systemic fashion to help Trump win" and that the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts."

Meantime, President Trump appears ready to shut down efforts by congressional Democrats to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify on possible obstruction of justice, appearing to hedge a little, after giving a much more definitive answer just last night on his favorite channel.

TRUMP: So, I don't think can I let him and then tell everybody else you can't, because -- especially him, because he was a counsel.

PHILLIP: President Trump criticized former president Barack Obama for not more directly confronting Vladimir Putin about 2016 election meddling.

But President Obama did in fact confront Putin face-to-face about this issue. But when President Trump had the opportunity in the first conversation since the Mueller report's release, he did not -- Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with political analyst James Boys -- actually, we're going to pause on that. We'll bring him in shortly. But again, to get context around what is -- I'm told we do now have him. Let's bring James in.

Good to have you with us.


HOWELL: Moving some thing around in the control room.

Let's get a sense here; Mr. Trump makes the point to say the Russian investigation is done, he is putting it behind him, he is now engaging with the Russian president with a sense of victory and self-declared validation. Critics, however, are calling it another Helsinki moment, with the

president siding with Putin on a range of issues.

What are your thoughts?

BOYS: It is fascinating, isn't it, because we really seem to have quite a schizophrenic environment politically in the United States between certain people saying one thing and one group saying quite another.

Here we have the president of the United States meant ostensibly to be defending U.S. interests and standing up for the American people and American democracy. And here he is quite clearly merely parroting what it is he that is being told from the Kremlin. It is a remarkable situation.

Just take the politics out of it, I don't think that we've ever seen anything like it before in U.S. history, where, of course, the Kremlin has always been a source of great antagonism and opposition within the United States. So to see an American president merely accepting it at face value, the word of the Russian leader in this case, really, is quite a remarkable development, I think.

HOWELL: The one thing the president said was not discussed, he said it was not discussed, the threat of election meddling in the upcoming 2020 presidential race.

So as 2020 approaches, do you expect to see an emboldened Russia to go at it again?

BOYS: You have to ask. These two leaders were on the phone for an hour by all accounts. And you have to wonder what were they really talking about.


BOYS: The great elephant in the room is the Mueller report, which, as Abby Phillip was rightly reporting, was at the heart of Robert Mueller's report, the idea that Mueller said categorically that there was meddling in 2016.

Of course this is something that Donald Trump can simply not accept because that, in his view and in the view of many others, I think, would quite frankly call into doubt the veracity of his own election.

So if we accept that it did happen then, U.S. intelligence agencies and leading officials are suggesting that this has not stopped, that it is continuing. So one has to believe that it will certainly be a factor moving into 2020.

So the great question is, why isn't this being discussed at the highest possible levels?

HOWELL: Given that we have seen projectiles as we reported earlier, launched from North Korea, that issue again front and center, before all of this though President Trump on that call indicated his appreciation for Russia's engagement with North Korea.

Do you see Russia as a growing player in these ongoing negotiations?

Because, again, the last summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump ended in disappointment. The latest meeting between Kim and Putin has been described as a success.

BOYS: Well, yes. What is fascinating, of course, is that Donald Trump, when he became president, made great strides to try to engage with the North Korean leadership. Many people talked about the high- risk nature of this by, of course, elevating the North Korean leadership to a level with the American president.

He has now subsequently met with Putin. The great question is what so far has come out of those debates, those engagements between Trump and Kim Jong-un. And the answer is not an awful lot. The last meeting, as we rightly reported, in Hanoi broke down without any great success.

Now we're see now we're seeing Putin getting involved. And I think Putin over the last several years has been very good at destabilizing the leadership of the West. Whether that is in Eastern Europe, in the near former Soviet area, such as Ukraine, for example, we're seeing it in Venezuela and now in North Korea.

I think the idea that he is very good at keeping the West on its toes, we never know quite what is coming. And, of course, that really is what you would hope a leader in the White House would be doing with the Russians, not necessarily the other way around from a Western point of view.

HOWELL: James Boys, thank you again for your time.

BOYS: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: We'll be right back after the break.





HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.


HOWELL: The remnants of tropical depression Fani are moving into Bangladesh right now. On Friday the storm made landfall on India's east coast as a cyclone, the strongest to hit the country in 20 years. And you can see how strong those winds were, blowing out entire walls there. Police say seven people were killed from falling trees and collapsed

buildings. Even though the storm is weaker, it still has the potential to cause a great deal of damage in Bangladesh. Officials told more than 2 million people to get out of that storm's path.


HOWELL: So among the topics discussed during the U.S. president Trump's phone call with Vladimir Putin was the crisis --


HOWELL: -- in Venezuela. Mr. Trump says that the Russian president doesn't want to get involved.

His comments come as Venezuela's national assembly leader recognized as interim president by dozens of nations is calling for more anti- government protests, this time at military bases. He is trying to win over support from the armed forces who mostly back the Maduro government.


JUAN GUAIDO, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We are willing to talk to all the civil and military officials, with all, no matter where they come from, who are willing to cooperate with the cessation of usurpation, the government of transition and the free elections, because that is the mandate that I have by the constitution.


HOWELL: The economic crisis in Venezuela is hitting almost everyone but is especially hard on the elderly. It has forced many to take refuge in senior citizen homes because their families can no longer afford to help them. Michael Holmes has this story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Dominoes in the courtyard of the Mother Teresa Senior Home in Caracas. There's not much else to do here. If life for Venezuelans is tough -- and undeniably it is -- it's even worse for the elderly. This is not a good country in which to grow old.

BAUDILIO VEGA, MOTHER TERESA SENIOR HOME (through translator): If we didn't have this place, how many of these people would be on the streets or dead?

Thank God, here they are alive. It's not five-star but at least they survive.

HOLMES (voice-over): Baudilio Vega and his volunteer staff do their best to feed and house nearly 80 people here, the oldest 84-year-old Carmen Cecilia. It's a heartbreaking fact that, here in Venezuela, many of the elderly are simply given up by their families, not unwanted; far from it.

But victims of the brutal choice by the family: do you feed the children or do you feed the grandparents?

VEGA (through translator): There are many people here who are sad. If their hearts are sad it's because they've given everything in their life and their families, for one reason or another, sent them here.

HOLMES (voice-over): Everything here is donated and donations are drying up. Pensions, if you get one, almost worthless in this crumbling economy at $7 a month. There's no basking in retirement golden years in Venezuela.

"I had a lot of expectations of a nice retirement because I had a good job and income," Ochoa (ph) tells me.

"What do you think about the government and what it does?" I ask him.

Nada, nothing, nothing. he says. Life is spartan, austere, but it is life. Alternatives unthinkable or unavoidable. The stories here are so similar, the pain and disappointment so individual.

We meet Victoria Madriz, 74 years old. She has family in Caracas. But there was simply no room or money to support her.

VICTORIA MADRIZ, SENIOR HOME RESIDENT (through translator): There were a lot of people in the house, my brother's children and their children. It was too much.

HOLMES (voice-over): A familiar refrain: families who couldn't cope or who simply left. An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have fled their country and its wretched economy in recent years. Many didn't take their parents or grandparents. They couldn't afford to.

Baudilio Vega says he won't let these people down even if, he says, his government has. What he wants is change, help.

VEGA (voice-over): I urge Venezuela, let the humanitarian aid in. We need the food and the medicine. Instead of buying weapons, we need medicines and food.

HOLMES (voice-over): The residents of the Mother Teresa home say in the meantime they'll survive. They have to.

BRIGIDA ZULAY, SENIOR HOME RESIDENT (through translator): All of us, we have hope.

HOLMES (voice-over): -- Michael Holmes, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.


HOWELL: The mother of American Otto Warmbier is slamming North Korea as a, quote, "cancer on the Earth" and has launched an emotional appeal for more pressure to be put on Kim Jong-un's regime.

Cindy Warmbier's 22-year-old son died shortly after he was brought back to the United States from the nation. He was in a coma where he had been held for 17 months. Brian Todd has this.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Otto Warmbier was brought home from a North Korean labor camp in a coma, his mother says he looked like a monster.

CINDY WARMBIER, MOTHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: The look in his eyes, which I didn't know he was blind at the time, was absolute horror. Horror. Like he'd seen the devil. And he had. He was with the devil.

TODD (voice-over): Cindy Warmbier says if she had known North Korea would demand the U.S. agree to pay $2 million for the release of her son, she would have sprung into action.

WARMBIER: If I had to, I would have raised the money and I wish they would have asked for the money from day one because it was all about hostage taking. But instead, they had a much bigger use for Otto.

TODD (voice-over): President Trump says that money was never paid, although U.S. officials did sign a bill in order to have Warmbier released. He died six days after his return in 2017.

Cindy Warmbier spoke during a panel in Washington today about North Korean --


TODD (voice-over): -- kidnappings. Just a mile away, former North Korean soldiers were on Capitol Hill, detailing what they called the brutality of Kim Jong-un's regime.

Former members of Kim's vaunted million-man army, often seen in lockstep on the parade route, said, behind the scenes, those choreographed routines were a facade, hiding rampant abuse and starvation.

JO YOUNG-HWA, FORMER SOLDIER IN NORTH KOREA (through translator): I was really hungry all the time. I was starving. My height is short because of the malnutrition I experienced in the military. From the first day, we were forced to go to villages and steal food from civilians.

TODD (voice-over): Some soldiers were even more desperate. Former North Korean artillery officer Kang Ri-hyuk told us of one young soldier in his unit. During a training exercise, he says, the soldier was so hungry, he ate a frog alive.

KANG RI-HYUK, FORMER SOLDIER IN NORTH KOREA (through translator): He didn't know that this frog was poisonous. He became unconscious and he died within a couple of hours.

TODD (voice-over): These accounts come a year and a half after a young North Korean staff sergeant made this dramatic dash across his country's border with South Korea, surveillance video showing him being pursued and shot several times by his North Korean comrades. He was rescued and almost died of his wounds. In the hospital, he too was treated for severe malnutrition.

For female North Korean soldiers, mistreatment of a different kind. Choi Yu-jin is a former nurse in the people's army. She says a female colleague of hers was forced to have an affair with a superior officer. The woman became pregnant, Choi says, and almost died when she suffered a miscarriage.

CHOI YU-JIN, FORMER ARMY NURSE IN NORTH KOREA (through translator): She said, when they asked her to have an affair with him, there was no way she could refuse. She had to do it in order to get party membership, so she could have a better life. The only thing she could sacrifice was her body.

TODD (voice-over): These horrific stories come as President Trump remains determined to pursue his personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un. Diplomacy which Otto Warmbier's mother calls a charade.

WARMBIER: How can you have diplomacy with someone that never tells the truth?

He lies, he lies, he lies all for himself.

TODD: President Trump has said Kim Jong-un told him he never knew about Otto Warmbier's condition while Warmbier was in his regime's custody. And Trump said he believes Kim.

We reached out North Korea's mission at the U.N. for their response to the accounts from those soldiers of starvation and abuse. They didn't get back to us. But Kim Jong-un has previously said publicly that his soldiers should be spared no amount of nutrition so that they could feel the, quote, "loving care of his regime" -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: The 2020 election just around the corner and the goal of any presidential candidate is to capture the imagination of a country.

But what do you do when there are 21 candidates plus the president all trying to do the same thing?

We'll take a look.





HOWELL: In the U.S. state of Iowa, some devastating flooding. Large parts of its third biggest city are under water, Davenport, Iowa. This after the Mississippi River reached record levels. CNN's Ryan Young is there and filed this report.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here in Davenport, Iowa, where the impact has been quite tremendous. In fact, as you look around, that's River Drive right there and the water has really crushed the banks.

You can see the cars that are submerged. This has had a lot of impact on the businesses throughout the area. They've been underwater for more than 30 days at this point in some parts of the area. And this is really having an impact on them trying to get businesses back open, trying to get streets open.

And they're worried about what can happen next because, on Thursday, there could be more rain. In fact, they're thinking between Sunday and Thursday next week, you could be talking about anywhere from 2 to 3 more inches of rain.

Steven (ph), as you guide this boat, have you ever seen anything like this in the area?

STEVEN (PH), BOAT GUIDE: In '93, that's when me and my family moved here from Florida and it was this bad. We actually lived on the river in Muscatine and we were out of our house for almost a month.

YOUNG: He is actually telling me, the business that he works at had the generator on for more than 24 hours. So you can understand this impact as the river's just right there, people using kayaks to get around. It will be a tough few hours as emergency management continues to try to help businesses along the area. They say right now they have enough sandbags -- Ryan Young, CNN, Davenport, Iowa.


HOWELL: The U.S. presidential election is more than a year away now but for the 21 Democrats trying to take Donald Trump's job, the time now is time to get serious.

So how do you make an impression when there are so many others in the field?

Our Jessica Dean has this.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a field of 21 contenders, Democrats are looking for their big moment to break out from the pack.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you've made it clear that you've not looked at the evidence. We can move on. I think you've made it clear, sir, that you've not looked at the evidence and we can move on.

DEAN: Senator Kamala Harris' questioning of Attorney General William Barr this week going viral, drawing the attention of President Trump.

TRUMP: Well, she was probably very nasty. DEAN: Harris is now fund raising off that moment. Writing to reporters, quote, "Nasty? It seems like anytime Donald Trump feels threatened by a strong woman, he lashes out with this gross, weird attack." Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also used the Senate hearing as a way to grab the spotlight delivering a strong statement about sexual assault in the military.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am tired of the statement I get over and over from the chain of command. We got this, ma'am, we got this. You don't have it! You're failing us!

DEAN: Meantime, Senator Amy Klobuchar is focusing on policy as a way to stand out, rolling out a plan to prioritize mental health and combat addiction. She's talked openly about her father's struggle with alcoholism.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he went to treatment, in his words, he was pursued by grace and so that has pushed me.

DEAN: Governor Jay Inslee, who had made combating climate change the central theme of his candidacy today unveiled his plan to implement 100 percent clean energy standards for key sectors of the U.S. economy.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a dark cloud over America. And that is the dark cloud of climate change.

DEAN: His announcement follows Beto O'Rourke's release of his own climate change plan earlier this week. His first major 2020 policy proposal.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: This country needs direction when it comes to meeting the single greatest threat that we've ever faced.

DEAN: Polls focusing on climate change say is it a good strategy; 82 percent of Democrats say that issue is very important. And while each of those candidates mentioned in the story are doing what they can to stand out, they all continue to poll well behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden -- Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: How one man is looking to break every "Jeopardy!" record in the books and become a true trivia superstar. We'll tell you about it.






HOWELL: The American TV game show "Jeopardy!" is notoriously difficult. But one contestant is actually making it look easy. He is already smashing the winning streaks of his predecessors and could be on his way to molding a new kind of "Jeopardy!" champion. Stephanie Elam has this story.




HOLZHAUER: What is super bass?


HOLZHAUER: What is Bedford-Stuyvesant?

TREBEK: Correct.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): James Holzhauer may be redefining what it means to be a "Jeopardy!" champ.

TREBEK: Answer, a "Daily Double."

HOLZHAUER: All of the chips, please.

TREBEK: All of it. All right.

ELAM: One massive wager at a time.

TREBEK: And I look at James and I say, oh, my gosh, look at what he's doing.


HOLZHAUER: What is Peter Pan?

TREBEK: Right.

ELAM: A professional sports gambler from Los Vegas, Holzhauer's bets would make most people sick to their stomach. Here he is on ESPN.

HOLZHAUER: I'm comfortable risking a lot if I know I have a big edge. But on "Jeopardy!," you know, I'm going to get the Daily Double right a lot more often than I'm not going to. so I just want to maximize that bet.

ELAM: He also attacks the board differently, going after those big value clues on the bottom.

DR. BENJAMIN SOLTOFF, COMPUTATIONAL SOCIAL SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: He's doing it with a specific goal of trying to earn a lot of money before he finds the Daily Double.

TREBEK: Daily Double.

ELAM: Data scientist Benjamin --


ELAM (voice-over): -- Soltoff has analyzed the stats of "Jeopardy!" winners.

SOLTOFF: He finds the Daily Doubles. He has a lot of money already in his control. He's able to bet a large amount on them. And more often than now, he'll get the clue correct.

It's a variation on a technique we've seen champions in the past use, called the Forrest bounce.

CHUCK FORREST, FORMER "JEOPARDY!" CONTESTANT: I was on "Jeopardy!" for the first time in 1985. I won five games, which was the limit back then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Grand Blanc, Michigan, Chuck Forrest.

ELAM: Chuck Forrest originated the strategy.

FORREST: This idea of bouncing around the board. Instead of going straight down, you go someplace completely at random. And that way you remain in control of the board.

ELAM: No doubt Holzhauer's variation on the Forrest bounce is working for him. During a record 74 consecutive games, Ken Jennings ranked in for than $2.5 million, the most ever during the show's regular season play. But at the rate he's going, Holzhauer could outlearn Jennings in a lot less time.

TREBEK: You have just set a one-day record, again, $131,127.

SOLTOFF: His average bet or wager on a Daily Double, I think, is about twice as large, at least, as much as Ken Jennings was doing. He was there for a very long number of games, but his average earnings didn't come anywhere close to what James had been accruing.

FORREST: The guy's a steamroller and he's got this incredible focus and determination.

ELAM: Not to mention his vast trivia knowledge and skills with the buzzer.

TREBEK: Impressive as all get out.

ELAM: Just how far will James Holzhauer go?

America will be watching to find out -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOWELL: Impressive. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM

continues right after the break.