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Hiker Found Alive after 17 Days; Mothers Jon to Honor their Sons Killed in 2005; Dems Campaign before Debates; Trump on Farmers Hit by Trade War. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] AMANDA ELLER, RESCUED HIKER: Take the easy way out.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so this was a miracle in Maui. A Hawaiian woman is found alive after getting lost in the forest for 17 days. This morning, her rescuers are describing the moment that they spotted her.


TROY HELMER, RESCUER: All of a sudden you said, there's -- there's a hiker down there. I said, there's nobody hiking up here. And, sure enough, he said, that's Amanda. That's Amanda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got her! We got her!

HELMER: We started --


HARLOW: Oh, so excited. Our Paul Vercammen has been following this story.

Good morning, Paul.

Those -- those are the folks that were up, as I understand it, in this helicopter that had been funded by donations on a GoFundMe page, when the other official helicopters couldn't find her.

[09:35:01] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And, Poppy, they have an extensive background in search and rescue. One of them, a former Army Ranger. And the friends of Amanda Eller are telling me this morning that she is in very good spirit. She was in the Maui wilderness for 17 days and lived to tell about it.


AMANDA ELLER, RESCUED HIKER: The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days of my life. And it's been a really significant, spiritual journey that I was guided on.

VERCAMMEN (voice over): A voyage Amanda Eller described with her ecstatic boyfriend in her hospital bed.

A. ELLER: And there were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up. And it did come down to life and death. And I had to choose. And I chose life. I wasn't going to take the easy way out. Even though that meant more suffering and pain for myself.

VERCAMMEN: Eller got spotted by rescuers in a helicopter and hoisted out of peril in this lush Maui paradise Friday.


VERCAMMEN: Eller lost her shoes, set out to dry in a flash flood, lost her ability to walk properly when she broke a bone in her leg, but hope was not lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was not expected, that was not expected.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can cry now. It's awesome, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's like the best --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You took it pretty well, I have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got a good Memorial Day now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, I was balling like a baby.

A. ELLER: Seeing the way that the community, Maui, came together, people that know me, people that don't know me, all came together, just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive. It just warms my heart.

VERCAMMEN: This yoga instructor and physical therapist shed almost a pound a day for each day she went missing, 15 pounds total. Her doctor expressed surprise and relief at how well she looked.

DR. ZORA BULATOVIC, AMANDA ELLER'S PHYSICIAN: Tears came down because, you know, that's -- we all have been following her story.

VERCAMMEN: This physician explained how this model patient survived on river water and what food she could pick.

BULATOVIC: Eating fresh fruits from the trees, trying to keep, yes, her nutrition up. So she was very well educated in that and she knew exactly what to take and managed to stay well hydrated.

JULIA ELLER, AMANDA ELLER'S MOM: She's a trooper. Man, she's a real warrior. And I had no doubt if anybody could make it through it, it was her.

VERCAMMEN: Amanda Eller fought for her life and won, armed with undying spirit and true grit.


VERCAMMEN: And a little more about those rescuers. They say they were in the helicopter. The helicopter was running low on fuel and then they made this one last pass down a gulch and there she was, Amanda.


VERCAMMEN: And they were so euphoric. They were told to stop shaking the helicopter for fear that they would take it down, Poppy.

HARLOW: Oh, it's remarkable. I can't wait for one of those who rescued her to join us next hour.

And, Paul, her mother is so right when she calls Amanda a warrior. She certainly is. Thank you for that good news story this Monday.

All right, the vice president is headed to Arlington National Cemetery, of course, on this Memorial Day to honor the fallen. We will take you next to one of the most heart-wrenching parts of Arlington, where families gather every Memorial Day to honor the lost.


[09:42:52] HARLOW: Welcome back.

While the president is in Japan, Vice President Mike Pence will mark Memorial Day here at home honoring U.S. service members lost by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier later this morning. Of course you'll see that here.

Our Barbara Starr joins me this morning from Section 60. This is, Barbara, every year, of course, one of the most heart-wrenching sections of Arlington National Cemetery.

Good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy, on Memorial Day, 2019. You know, it is here that so many of the young service members who fell on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have been laid to rest.

And a short time ago we talked to two extraordinary gold star mothers. Leesa Philippon lost her son, Lawrence. Beth Belle lost her son Nicholas. Extraordinary, they were lost on the same day, they died in combat. They have been laid to rest next to each other here at section 60. And these two gold star mothers, since 2005, on May 8th, have come to know each other and hold on to each other for comfort right here.


BETH BELLE, GOLD STAR MOTHER: This is where we have to be to honor not just our sons, but all of the fallen heroes from all of the past conflicts. And you see here at Section 60, Nicholas and Larry are here. And all of the rows in front of them represent lives that were lost. And this is Memorial Day. So this is where we need to be. And it's where we come.

LEESA PHILIPPON, GOLD STAR MOTHER: It's very comforting whenever we see other people come that don't have someone resting here, they bring their children. And that's a tremendous comfort to us to know that people do think about all of these sons and daughters of America that have given their lives.


STARR: So here today at Arlington, politics, all of that left behind. Here today these families want their loved ones and all service members to be remembered on this Memorial Day, 2019.


[09:45:00] HARLOW: And, Barbara, you always do such a beautiful and important job of being there. And I think those mothers said it well, right, these are the sons and daughters of America and we are forever indebted to their service and their sacrifice.

Barbara Starr, thank you very, very much.

All right, less than a month away from the first 2020 Democratic debates. And candidates are zeroing in on the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire today. Senator Bernie Sanders has gone to not just one, but two ice cream socials so far.

CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is in Des Moines, Iowa, with some of the big headlines.

Good morning to you.

This is no day for rest for these candidates, that's for sure. Let's tick through some of the big headlines here over the weekend.

You've got Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota in Iowa talking about her friendship with Senator John McCain and then this. Listen.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation. He understood it. He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did.


HARLOW: That's the first time we've heard from her, Rebecca, about what she says John McCain told her in her ear during the inauguration of President Trump. It's significant because it makes news, but also it reminds people of her close relationship with the late senator.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. And what a weird dynamic in this Democratic primary, right, to have these Democratic candidates, and not only Senator Amy Klobuchar out on the campaign trail talking about Republicans, their relationships with Republicans, also Republicans who have spoken out against President Trump.

Senator Cory Booker, who's also here in Iowa today, has mentioned a conversation he overheard between former President George W. Bush and some others at the inauguration where Bush said that is some weird stuff. He used another word for "stuff."

But, nevertheless, Democrats consistently talking about Republicans in a sort of positive light to draw that contrast and to demonstrate that there is this wide gulf between President Trump and everyone else.

Of course, the big question in this primary for Democrats is, who is the best equipped to go up against President Trump? And so some of these stories are their way of saying they're the ones who can do that.

HARLOW: Another 2020 hopeful, Congressman Eric Swalwell, who's going to be part of the CNN town halls on Sunday night, I think made an interesting argument as for why some Democrats are holding off on wanting to move forward with impeachment right now against the president. Here's what he said.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You only get one shot at this. I want to make sure we get it right. I think that means first getting the full Mueller report un-redacted, getting Mueller to testify himself, getting people like Don McGahn in. And so we're pressing that and we're winning in the courts right now. The president's outnumbered with the subpoena power and the court rulings that are on our side.


HARLOW: It's interesting because it's a delicate balance, right, because he's also contending in a Democratic primary within a party where you've got about two-thirds of the voters in the Democratic Party who want to see the impeachment process move forward.

BUCK: Absolutely. And we've seen more and more of these Democratic candidates for president over the past few weeks moving in the direction of supporting impeachment. Beto O'Rourke recently came out in favor of it. Even Senator Booker, who I mentioned a second ago, here in Iowa this weekend saying he would be open to impeachment if the president continues to obstruct congressional investigations. Previously Booker had said he does not support impeachment at this time and wanted the see where these congressional investigations go.

So that is reflecting the pressure Democrats are feeling from the party base. But these candidates and Democrats broadly needing to explain to their party the political risk here with impeachment as well. If they go too far, if they overstep, there could be a backlash.

HARLOW: Rebecca Buck, thank you, reporting for us in Des Moines, Iowa, this Memorial Day. We appreciate it.

So, the president says that farmers are with him, in his words, 100 percent on the trade war with China. Next, why one farmer says he thinks that is a call to keep quiet and why he is choosing to speak out against the president on this front.


[09:53:58] HARLOW: All right, this morning, the president promised to straighten out the trade gap with Japan, and he dug in on the trade war with China. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Foolishly, some people said that the American taxpayer is paying the tariffs of China. No, no, no. It's not that way. They're paying a small percentage, but our country is taking in billions and billions of dollars.

The American farmer, these are great patriots, they're unbelievable people and they're with me 100 percent. I believe that we will have a very good deal with China sometime into the future.


HARLOW: All right, it's also worth noting that the president's own economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, has recently acknowledged the fact that it is U.S. consumers that wo pay those tariffs, not China.

Joining me now to talk about this is Ohio farmer Christopher Gibbs.

Good morning to you, sir.

I should note, you are a card-carrying Republican who voted for the president. He says farmers like you are 100 percent with him on this fight. Are you with the president on this?

[09:55:01] CHRISTOPHER GIBBS, FARMER IN OHIO: Well, certainly I'm with him on the -- on the fight with China, but not in this manner. I've spoken out against this very consistently from the beginning, last spring, and the spring of 2018, and all through the summer, that the tariffs were not the way to go, that we had better options, we had alternatives to this certainly to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reengage our allies, make a coalition, and so forth. So I've been a black sheep on this, but the -- I find that being a black sheep, my pasture is a lot less crowded.

HARLOW: Well, there you go.

Let me ask you to respond to this. Here is what the president said just a few days ago about what he thinks it's like to be an American farmer right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will ensure that our farmers get the relief they need and very, very quickly. It's good time to be a farmer. We're going to make sure of that.


HARLOW: You farm soybeans, a big crop for you, corn, alfalfa, livestock. Is it a good time to be an American farmer?

GIBBS: Not currently right now. We've got problems on multiple fronts. The trade war certainly has taken away our largest market in China. You know, I told -- I told folks that I feel like the president has dropped me into a worldwide global reality TV show. I call it U.S. trade survivor.


GIBBS: And my job is to do my damnedest not to be the one to get voted off. And so that's what we're doing right now.

You know, the -- when the president talks about this, we need to really level with the American people. And this is something that has come to light just within the last couple of weeks.


GIBBS: The president has said that these trade wars are easy to win. They're not easy to win. And leveling with the American people includes what I would -- what I would call a fireside chat to let him know what we've gotten ourselves into here.

This is more about containment now than it is about trade with China. And I can tell you this, that the containment issue is not going to be solved with coffee and crumpets in Osaka in June. This is a big deal. And the American people and the American farmers need to realize that. And maybe we can get on board, but, again, it's going to have to be a fireside chat moment to let them know that we are in for the long haul.

HARLOW: You know, you have said this is about, bottom line for you, regardless of your politics, protecting your family. Do you think the president is doing enough to protect your family, right, because he and his administration say, look, this is a fight for the long term. This is a fight to hold China accountable for these practices that harm Americans and Americans business. But I guess I'm wondering, do you feel like he's taking your family and American farmers and their families for granted in the process?

GIBBS: Well, he says he is. And that's fine. But, see, farmers have to think long term. We've got to think generationally. And for the president to authorize some bailout money here and there, certainly that's appreciated through the American taxpayer. And, by the way, the taxpayer is exactly who's paying for that. It's not China. And so we've got to think longer term.

You know, agriculture built these markets. We started in the mid-'80s. We looked to Asia and said, this is a -- this is a growing market. And we developed that market. And we went from about $400 million worth of trade in the mid-'90s, agriculture trade, to nearly $20 billion worth of agricultural trade in 2017. And that is gone. Man, that is gone. And we've got to start over. PHP: I know it's gone. I mean I see it, right? I'm from the Midwest.

I'm from Minnesota. I see what's happening to the prices of soybeans and corn, et cetera, right? You -- the question becomes, how long can you take it and how long are you willing to take it? You've got a $12 billion bailout that you got $20,000 for. You used some to fix a tractor, et cetera. You've now got a $16 billion bailout on top of it.

Even Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa said, you know, this trade war is not going to get solved, there's not going to be a deal likely this summer, and she said it's harming farmers in her state. This is from a staunch Republican senator.

How long are bailouts going to -- going to hold -- hold the line for you guys? I mean at what point is it just, you cannot plan, you cannot plan for your crops, and the desperation gets even more severe?

[09:59:38] GIBBS: Well, this is the last go-round. I can't see where the American taxpayer is going to continue -- continue to provide this kind of money. You've got to realize how much $16 billion is, plus another 12. Remember, that the government was shut down over what now is a measly $5.7 billion for a wall. So if you add $16 billion and $12 billion together, this is a lot of money. And it is -- it's simply a band aid and we can't continue these band aid.