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Heat Wave Blankets Much of United States; Iranian Actions in Strait of Hormuz Discussed; Democratic Debates Preview; President Trump Continues to Defend Crowd Chant; Trump Now Adopting Defiant Tone on Racist Tweets, Chants; NASA Celebrates 50 Years Since Apollo 11 Moon Landing; Buzz Aldrin "Disappointed" With U.S. Space Program; "The Movies" Airs Tomorrow At 9 P.M. ET/PT. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired July 20, 2019 - 12:00   ET



MARTIN SAVIDGE: Hello there. Thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Right now more than half the country is trying to stay cool as a scorching heat wave stretches from New Mexico to Maine. Take a look at this so called "heat dome." More than 150 million people facing an extreme heat threat with sweltering heat indices topping out at 110. People in major cities like Chicago doing whatever they can to stay cool amid excessive heat warnings. Animals also doing what they can to try to stay comfortable. City leaders across the nation encouraging people to be on the lookout for heat illness in themselves and their neighbors.

We'll begin with CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's in New York and Polo, how is the city handling this heat?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Martin, you will find that I am one of many New Yorkers who are trying to stay cool with that - with the mist that is coming off the iconic unisphere fountain here in Queens, New York. Look, I think that what we're seeing are certainly people heeding these warnings from officials to stay inside in an air conditioned environment or find any way of keeping cool. Look, when you look at the numbers here and you consider that at least 40 percent of the lower 48 will be experiencing at least 95 degrees or higher, it is a serious threat.

That's 95 degrees in the shade. Add in the sun and factor in the humidity as well, it will feel much hotter and there are some of those that this might be more of a sweaty inconvenience - those who may be used to the heat. However, there is a vulnerable section of the population; you're talking the elderly, you're talking children who perhaps may not be able to regulate their body heat as well so officials here in the northeast are certainly recommending to people that they take care of that segment of the population because this is a potentially deadly combination.

We have seen a real impact. There have been multiple events that have been cancelled here from running events to a massive music fest that was scheduled to happen in Manhatten. That we heard from Major Bill de Blasio yesterday saying that that is now a no go. It's even too hot for the horses with races in the Saratoga Springs venue that have been cancelled; the first time in 13 years. So again, we are expecting to see really hot temperatures today obviously going into tomorrow, and to a very hot weekend. Not just here in the northeast but throughout the country as well.

SAVIDGE: All right, Polo, thanks very much. I don't know how you can hold yourself back from not throwing yourself into that fountain there. It looks beautiful.

It will feel like 106 degrees in parts of Michigan today. The reason I bring that up is that hundreds of thousands of people are facing the potentially deadly heat without electricity. Severe storms Friday night left more than 200,000 people without electricity.


SAVIDGE (voice over) Crews across the Detroit metro area are working to try to get that power restored.


SAVIDGE: To help us better understand what is causing this incredible heat, let's bring in CNN meteorologist Alison Chinchar. And even though I've said it several times, what exactly is a heat dome Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, yes, it's a good point because again it's July. We do expect it to be hot outside but this is a little bit extreme. Basically what we have is across the Eastern half of the country. We have a high pressure that has set up over that eastern portion of the country. High pressure naturally pushes the air back down towards the ground but we all know there's heat out there, it's July, it's summer.

Hot air rises but as it's trying to come back up, that high pressure system effectively pushes it back down to the ground, trapping all of that hot air closer to the surface, forming what we often call as a heat dome. And again it's not just in one city. We're not just talking about this being in one state, one region of the country; this is a huge swath of the country that's going to be dealing with heat dome- like situations. We're actually talking stretching from New Mexico all the way over to Maine. Again, a vast portion of the eastern half of the country is dealing with excessive heat warnings, excessive heat watches or even advisories.

Here's a look. These are the actual high temperatures forecast for today: 96 in Chicago, 97 for places like St. Louis and Kansas City, 99, potentially as high as 100 for the high temperature today in Washington, D.C. But it's not just the temperature. You also have to factor in the humidity. When you do, that gives you a heat index or the feels-like temperature. It's going to feel like it is 108 today in Washington, D.C., 109 in Kansas City. Even cities like Chicago, Detroit even New York going to feel like around 103 to 104.

That has impacts on your body because here's what it is. When you start to sweat as many of us would when the temperatures are in the 90s. That sweat can't evaporate when the humidity is very high, effectively leaving that layer of sweat on your body. It almost acts as though you're wearing extra layers of clothes, making you hotter. So again, this is why a high humidity environment is actually more dangerous for your health and you're more likely to end up with heat- related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke when the humidity is at much higher levels.


The good news, Martin, and we always want to end on a good note. Once we get to say Tuesday or Wednesday of the upcoming week, we're finally going to start to notice that big cool down, not just for the Midwest but also the mid-Atlantic and the northeast The downfall is that heat starts to pick back up however in the western half of the country around the same time.

SAVIDGE: Yes, so what's good for those in the East will be a very different story in the west. Allison Chinchar. Thanks very much for that.

Still ahead, escalating tensions with Iran. This after a British tanker is seized in the Strait of Hormuz. We're seeing dramatic new video of the moment that the tanker was taken plus President Trump plays revisionist history trying to change the portrayal of his racists tweets and chants at a North Carolina rally. Is his strategy heading into 2020 working?


SAVIDGE: Right now tensions are soaring between Iran and the West and the U.K. Emergency Response Team is meeting today after Iran captured a British flagged oil tanker in the critical shipping area of the Strait of Hormuz. There you see new video of the moment that the tanker was seized by Iran's navy. Britain is warning that will be, quote, "serious consequences" if Iran does not release the ship.

Now earlier this month, Britain seized an Iranian ship it said was involved in oil smuggling and then just days ago the U.S. claimed it destroyed an Iranian drone in the same area.


Vali Nasr is a professor at the School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He's also author of the book, "The Dispensable Nation." And thank you very much for joining us.


You pointed out that Iran has a long history of an eye for an eye in its foreign relations and I'm wondering is that what you believe is going on here now?

NASR: Yes it is. I think Iranians are determined to show that they're not going to be cowed by President Trump's maximum pressure and that they want to show force. They want to show strength and also they want to use these kinds of confrontational tactics in order to back off further pressure from the United States and the Europeans. And with the British, they viewed the capture of their tanker as being

done at the behest of Washington and not justified based on European sanction rules and therefore they are retaliating in kind with Britain.

SAVIDGE: Right, in other words, this is not an escalation so much as they're saying you took one of our ships, now we'll take one of yours, correct?

NASR: Correct. And also they want to say don't think that we're weak. Don't assume you can keep pressing us because we're going to hit back and you have to be prepared to assume the cost.

SAVIDGE: But you know Britain has been a defender of the Iran nuclear agreement. The U.S. abandoned it and I'm wondering does it put that British support in jeopardy as well as the support of Europe?

NASR: Well, the Iranians don't think that Britain has supported the nuclear deal because they think that Britain has verbally said that they support the deal but they have facilitated President Trump's maximum pressure every step of the way and the capture of the Iranian tanker is proof to them because European sanctions for sale of oil to Syria applies only to European countries. It does not apply to non- European countries. So Britain captured the Iranian tanker at the behest of Washington, and that to the Iranians appears that Britain is actually serving as an instrument of the United States, not an independent actor.

SAVIDGE: The danger is of course that somehow this can be misconstrued. In other words, that the British could see this as perhaps an upping of tensions rather than say well it's just the equivalent of you taking a ship of our own. What has to happen to de- escalate the situation?

NASR: Without a doubt, Great Britain sees this action of Iran as provocative, as Iran upping sort of the ante and putting the ball in Britain's court. I think what might happen here is some kind of a negotiation where Britain agrees to release the Iranian tanker without the conditions they have put on the table and the Iranians agree to release the British tanker without any further action and both essentially back away. If they don't go down that path, then Britain is put in a position of doing something further on Iran, further sanctions, closing of Iranian embassy, expelling Iranian diplomats and then Iran is going to reciprocate to that and that won't release the tankers but it would put Iran-British relations in deeper freeze.

SAVIDGE: Yes, the "New York Times" is reporting that Iran's foreign minister said that he would be willing to meet with U.S. lawmakers. Is the U.S. genuinely interested in actual talks or is it more politically beneficial for President Trump to keep Iran at a distance?

NASR: I think President Trump personally is interested in a talk, is interested in something like what happened with North Korea. I think his foreign policy team, his national security adviser, his secretary of state are not interested in fruitful talks with Iran. And Iran -- Iranian Foreign Minister and Ambassador at the U.N. have met with lawmakers in the past. They have had conversations with Senators and Congressmen, and that could be at least a channel through which some kind of a direct communication between United States and Iran could start and that would be beneficial. I think at least in terms of creating some ground rules for the way they are going about business now.

SAVIDGE: And the Trump Administration, as we know, is also reinforcing its military relationship with Saudi Arabia by preparing to send hundreds more troops to that country amid increasing tensions with Iran. So what are the pitfalls of this deepening relationship with the Saudis?

NASR: Well, that had already been there. I think sending troops to Saudi Arabia is more a signal to Iran that the United States is building its military presence in the region. And the Iranian reaction right now is that we're not intimidated by that, we're going to escalate as well. If you want to go down the path of confrontation, we're ready for you. They're calculating that President Trump really does not want confrontation, that all of the American maximum pressure was built on the assumption that Iran would never react.


The fact that Iran is reacting is actually going to complicate the way in which U.S. had calculated how this would play out. Iranians are banking on the fact that President Trump is going to come to the conclusion that his strategy with Iran is not working and escalation will bring confrontation and he doesn't want confrontation, he has to think of something else.

SAVIDGE: It could be fraught with all kinds of danger. All right, Vali Nasr, thank you so much for joining us today.

NASR: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Up next, the 2020 democrats are gearing up for their next round of debates. It will be right here on CNN. So how is Joe Biden preparing for his rematch with Kamala Harris? We'll check in on his his campaign coming up.


SAVIDGE: It's a key battleground state in the 2020 race. Nevada holds its caucus February 22nd; it's the first in the west. Following yesterday's stop in California, democratic front-runner Joe Biden hit Las Vegas today. In terms of donors, Nevada is an important state for the bidden campaign. Biden is one of many democratic candidates that have fanned out across the country. CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz, is in Las Vegas and Arlette, CNN did its debate draw earlier this week and I'm wondering what does the vice president think of his place in the lineup?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Martin, Joe Biden told me yesterday that he is looking forward to the debate.

[12:20:00] I had the chance to ask him about it really quickly yesterday at a tamale stop at a restaurant in east L.A. and Biden said that he's looking forward to the debate lineup and that he also said, "I like it." And we're going to see him in just about a week and half on the debate stage facing off again against Senator Kamala Harris. You're also going to see him when you look at the way the lineup is positioned on the stage, he's going to be standing in between both Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, two of really the biggest critics of the former vice president, particularly on issues relating to race.

Now, the Biden campaign tells me that they are aware that most of the candidates that are going to be on that stage with Biden are going to be directing their fire towards the former vice president, but what Biden's goal here is going to be is that he wants to clearly lay out that he has stark policy differences with these candidates, particularly on the issue of health care. That's really something you've seen Biden engage in more over the course of the past two weeks.

Biden has been trying to point out the differences between his position on health care, which he says is building on Obamacare and creating a public option to buy into a program like Medicare versus Medicare for All. He simply says that Medicare for All is not the answer when it comes to health care.

We're going to see Joe Biden here in Las Vegas, Nevada in just a few hours. He's going to be here at this local IBW Hall, a union hall where his campaign is going to be participating in a national day of action. There's going to be some phone begging(ph) going on here as well as other areas of the country and canvassing as well too. Later in the afternoon he's going to hold an event with a Nevada democratic party. This is his second state for this early - early state and he'll also be heading back here shortly after the debate on August 3rd. Martin.

SAVIDGE: Arlette Saenz, thanks very much for the update from the campaign trail. And speaking of the debate, the lineups are set for the two big nights. The CNN Democratic Presidential Debates are live from Detroit. That's Wednesday and Thursday 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up President Trump offers a new defense over a racist chant made during a North Carolina rally but he's also praising the people who said it. More next.



SAVIDGE: President Trump is once again on the attack and once again on the defensive as he tries to play both sides of a racist controversy. Critics and allies have expressed concern over racist chants earlier this week at his North Carolina rally. The president somewhat - somewhat distanced himself claiming that he was, quote, "unhappy with that 'send her back' chorus" referring to a democratic congresswoman of color. But at the same time, he appears to be embracing it. Today he once again defended the crowd and his handling of the chant tweeting, "As you can see I did nothing to lead people on nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA." But a closer look at the controversial moment shows the president silent for 13 seconds as the crowd chants away. Look.


CROWD CHANTS: Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back. Send her back.


SAVIDGE: CNN White House correspondent Sarah Westwood is in New Jersey where the president is spending the weekend and Sarah, it appears that he is not quite ready to move on from this controversy?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Martin. Trump actually seems to be doubling down on this attack on the four democratic House freshmen that were the subject of his racist tweets dating back now a week ago. This seems to be part of a deliberate strategy that Trump actually considers successful. Some sources tell CNN and that's to make these four democratic freshmen the face of the Democratic Party, to essentially try to define all democrats by some of the far left ideas, controversial statements that the select group of women have made.

But at the same time he's also sending mixed messages about that racist chant that broke out at his rally Wednesday night in North Carolina. The president went from saying in Thursday in the Oval Office that he was unhappy with that chant; he didn't agree with it to defending those who started it as incredible patriots again this morning in that tweet you read, Martin, continuing to say that those chants came from a place of patriotism.

But the president faced a pressure campaign from some of his aid and his allies, lawmakers and even his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, who came to him in the wake of the backlash that was emerging among democrats and even some republicans uncomfortable with that chant, encouraging him to distance himself from the sentiments expressed by the crowd. And yesterday as he was heading here to Bedminster, President Trump said he wasn't really sure about the effectiveness of his attacks on the so called "squad" but he believed it was right. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I don't know if it's good or bad politically. I don't care. But when people are speaking so badly, when they call our country garbage. Think of that. That's worse than deplorable. When they call our country garbage, I don't care about politics. I don't care if it's good or bad about politics.

(END VIDEO) WESTWOOD: We should note that none of the congresswomen under fire have actually referred to America or Americans as "garbage" but nonetheless Trump has continued to try to paint them as anti-American and highlighted their advocacy for socialist type policies. So this could be an emerging theme as he heads into a more political partisan period as he gears up for his reelection race and that's elevating the most progressive members, the most progressive ideas and try to taint the entire diverse Democratic Party with him Martin.

SAVIDGE: Sarah, I want to ask you about something else. House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin spoke this morning as Congress and the White House are trying to reach a budget agreement before Congress goes on break. So what can you tell us about the conversation?

WESTWOOD: Well Martin, a Pelosi aid says that the two leaders spoke this morning about 9:50 a.m. -- they talked for about 10 minutes.


And this comes as the Treasury secretary negotiating on behalf of the administration as trying to reach a joint deal with Congress, specifically Democrats in the House, that would address both the need to lift the debt ceiling in the weeks ahead and a two-year budget deal that could avoid an ugly spending fight until after the 2020 election.

Now that's a really ambitious sweeping deal for the Treasury secretary to be pursuing. And there was a new wrinkle that popped up on Thursday when the White House sent over a menu of spending cuts that it wants, about $575 billion worth as they seek to offset some of the spending increases that is expected to be in this deal. But sources do say that both sides are nearing some kind of compromise. That has to get done quickly though, Martin, because soon Congress will recess for the month of August.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: All right, Sarah Westwood, thank you very much for following the president.

Let's talk more about this with Toluse Olorunnipa, he is White House reporter for the Washington Post. And Melanie Zanona, she is a congressional reporter and author of the Huddle for -- or the Huddle rather for Politico. Thank you both for joining me today.

Melanie, let me start with you. The president says and we just heard him say that actually that he doesn't care if his racist attacks are good or bad politically. Do you buy that?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Make no mistake, the president thinks this is good politics for him and that his base relishes in these sorts of fights. I mean, keep in mind in 2016 he ran on a campaign of calling to ban Muslims and to build a wall and calling Mexicans rapists. So I think he's sending a signal about what his 2020 campaign is going to look like. And that is a mixture of white identity politics, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and wading into these culture wars. Now, that might not do many favors with the moderates and independents who did flee the party in 2018 but the president does not appear interested in expanding his base of the support. I think he's just trying to dig down deeper into it.

SAVIDGE: Toluse, the -- we've seen this kind of thing before, I believe, from the president where, you know, he seems to embrace a controversy then he tries to distance himself away from it and then embraces it once again. And I'm wondering, do you believe that this is a strategy or is this just in the nature of the man himself?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a very impulsive president. He does tend to kind of change his mind and change positions on a regular basis when someone talks to him and says, you know, you need to walk this back, especially people within his family or people close to him. He sometimes listens and then he goes back to his instincts and his nature here is to defend his base, defend his supporters, talk about how they love the country and how they're patriots even though he's also saying that he did not agree with their chant talking about sending her back.

But, I would not be surprised as you said because the president has had this pattern of disavowing statements and then going back to them like he did in Charlottesville. I would very much not be surprised if at his next rally which is taking place in just a couple of weeks on August 1st if this chant comes up again, if the president leans into it again and he will try to defend himself by saying I did not actually, you know, speak the chant but he is obviously egging on his supporters and pausing and allowing the chant to take place. So if history is any guide we can expect the president to double down on these types of language, this type of rhetoric, and these types of attacks on these congresswomen because he does think it works for him politically.

SAVIDGE: You know, I think you're right that there is no doubt this chant will renew itself at some other rally and some other time. And all eyes will be focused on the president as to how he handles it.

Melanie, the president has been so focused on attacking these four women knows as the squad, he's not really talking about the Democrats that are running for president. And I'm guessing then that he's actually trying to define the Democratic Party by people who are actually not running to be president.

ZANONA: Yes, I think you're exactly right there. And it is interesting to see him focus on these women instead of the Democratic candidates. But what we know about the president is that he works best when he has a foil. He is a counter puncher. And right now we don't know who the Democratic candidate is going to be.

You know, this heir of inevitability around Joe Biden has really been erased. And so I think until we do have a standard-bearer for the party, I think he is going to continue these attacks on these progressive women. And look, I would also point out this has been the strategy of the GOP more broadly to try to paint Democrats as socialists and try to tie the entire party to the AOC wing of the Democratic caucus. But, you know, whether this is going to hurt him if he's not focused on these candidates, only time will tell.

SAVIDGE: Toluse, I asked this of all who cover the White House these days, just what are you hearing behind the scenes in response to this controversy?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, both in the White House and on the Trump campaign, this is not a controversy that they are proud about having. They'd rather be talking about the economy, they think there are other issues that help them sell their story about what the president's first term is all been about.

[12:35:04] But the people who are left behind in the White House and who are now still on the campaign given all the turnover and all the people who have already left, the people who are still there are true believers and they believe that the president has the best political instincts. And they are ready to follow him into this battle, even though he says things that make a number of people uncomfortable.

So we heard the reporting about how, you know, Ivanka Trump and other family members who are telling the president to rein this in. But if you talk to people who work at the White House and who work on the campaign, they are fully on board with the idea of attacking these four minority congresswomen, taking them on, making them the face of the Democratic Party. And making a campaign that's built around attacking them, despite the fact that there are a number of people who see President Trump's attacks as racist and they believe that the president is turning off suburban women and all kinds of voters that he could ultimately get.

They are fully on board the Trump campaign and the Trump White House with following the president's political instincts on this.

SAVIDGE: And Melanie, you, of course, cover Congress and I'm wondering, you know, just what's the bleed-over impact potentially for the races in the House and the Senate in 2020?

ZANONA: Yes. Well, I can tell you, there is a lot of concern among congressional Republicans right now about how this is going to impact them in 2020. You know, a lot of these moderates and minorities left the party in 2018. And Republicans are so concerned, in fact, that I talked to multiple members of GOP leadership who are normally staunch allies of the president, and they brought up their concerns directly to Vice President Mike Pence. And said please relay our concerns to the president.

You know, one of them even wants a meeting with Trump. And they said Pence shares their concerns here. And I think their worry is that this is going to become the campaign mantra that this is going to define the party. And as we've mentioned, that they would much rather focus on the progressive policies of these women, focus on things like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. They do not want to engage in these ugly, personal, racially motivated attacks that could really turn off the moderate and independent voters that they need to win back some of these House seats in 2020.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Toluse Olorunnipa and Melanie Zanona, thank you both for joining us.

ZANONA: Thank you.


SAVIDGE: Well, if you can believe it, it was 50 years ago today that Neil Armstrong took one giant leap onto the surface of the Moon. And across the country, people are remembering Apollo 11 and the crew's historic and heroic feat.

We'll have more on that next.



[12:41:29] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contact light.

OK. Engine stop.

ACA, out of detent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mode control, both auto. Descent Engine Command Override, off. Engine Arm, off.

413 is in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We copy you down, Eagle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston, Tranquility Base here.

The Eagle has landed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.


SAVIDGE: Probably the most crucial radio transmission ever made. Fifty years ago today, human being walked on the Moon for the very first time. And Neil Armstrong uttered the words that we all know, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, they all flew the Apollo 11 mission, and they had the support of 400,000 people right back here on Earth. Many of them including those at mission control.

And that's where CNN's Rachel Crane is. And Rachel, a lot of people are celebrating today. And just give us a sense of what's going on there.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin, this is a real pinch-me moment because I am coming to you from the iconic Apollo Mission Control. I mean, this is the room where it happened, where the engineers, the scientists, the flight controllers pulled off the incredible feat of landing Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon 50 years ago today.

Now, it feels as if the flight controllers just stepped away from their desks as a result of an incredible six-year restoration project. And the intention to detail is simply outstanding. I mean, everything from the wallpaper to the carpets, the Apollo flight plans that are on each console, everything is as authentic as possible. The room really feels like a time capsule transporting you back to 1969.

Now, we had the incredible opportunity of speaking to Scott Millican who was in the room on a -- when Apollo 11 landed, when Neil Armstrong took those first steps. He spoke about the emotion being back here. Take a listen.


SCOTT MILLICAN, FORMER APOLLO ENGINEER AND ASTRONAUT TRAINER: Well, sitting in this seat again after 50 years and when we were stepping in on the moon, it really emotional thing. It's been quite emotional for me, this year especially. And I wasn't so emotional about things back when it happened. And I really didn't realize that we were making a big historical event. I was doing my job as an engineer, doing my tasks that had to be done.


CRANE: And one of the reasons that Scott Millican said that it was so emotional being back here is that attention to detail. I mean, these are the cigarettes that they were smoking at the time, the flags that they started waving once the astronauts returned back to Earth. This is a cigar ashtray not because they were smoking cigars here in the room but they were chain-smoking cigarettes so they needed a larger ashtray.

And like I said, the attention to detail, it's so striking. This really was a labor of love, this restoration project.

And Martin, this is one of my favorite things. This is where the flight surgeon sat during the mission. And on this display here, you see the astronauts' heartbeats. They were displayed back then. They're displayed now.

So as I said, this restoration project are a true labor of love and they were able to restore this incredible room to all of its glory in time for this amazing 50th anniversary.


[12:45:05] SAVIDGE: Yes, that's a remarkable feat, Rachel Crane. Thank you very much for showing it to us.

So now the question, what's next for the American space program? Buzz Aldrin spoke at the White House yesterday and he says that he is disappointed with U.S. progress over the past 50 years. Joining me now is Kay Hire, she is a retired NASA astronaut. Kay, you work for NASA for 30 years. Before I get and ask you your reaction to what Aldrin had to say, what does this day mean for you?

KAY HIRE, RETIRED ASTRONAUT: This is such an important anniversary. So many people go back to the emotional state that they were when they watched the transmissions from the moon of the first human steps on the moon. And it just really broke free the ability to have big goals and big aspirations and actually accomplish them. So it's a wonderful time to remember all of that.

SAVIDGE: It is. And of course, you know, as a young kid I watched it, and today, I love reminiscing about it. But there's also that, I don't know, the pang in the back of my brain that says this was 50 years ago and only now we're talking about possibly returning to the moon and then Mars beyond that. And that seems to me sort of what, you know, Buzz Aldrin was addressing there with his comments. What do you think of what he had to say and that dilemma of what we achieved so long ago?

HIRE: Wow, 50 years, a whole generation. When I was watching the first moon landing, the Apollo 11 Mission, I remember thinking at the time, I don't have to aspire to be an astronaut because certainly by the time I'm an adult, everyone will be flying in space. Technology was advancing so quickly to be able to enable these complicated missions all the way to the moon and to bring these people to the moon and all the way back.

It's been 50 years, where is my flying car? So I do agree with a little bit of the frustration that Buzz had expressed. It's been 50 years, we could be further. But then again, we can look at it in a very positive way and say, hey, this is the space renaissance now. Let's go ahead and move forward. NASA and also commercial companies have plans to go to the moon and even on to Mars.

So it's a great time to be looking forward.

SAVIDGE: It is an exciting time. I mean, there's a lot of commercial corporations now that are involved or teamed up with NASA. And I'm wondering, you know, what's your preference, go back to the moon and set up some sort of long-term laboratory or just push on right past and go all the way to Mars?

HIRE: Well, certainly the trip all the way to Mars is very complicated. The majority of our space experience has been just only a couple of hundred miles above the surface of Earth in what we call low Earth orbit. The moon is only three days travel away so we really need to prove out and develop all these technologies that we're going to need to travel all the way to Mars.

Just the complication of the distance alone, the communications, delays that we're going to have, the time it's going to take us to travel there, we're exposing crews to a lot more radiation. We need to work out all the technical details much closer to home before we venture that far out.

SAVIDGE: Do you envy those who may have that opportunity?

HIRE: Absolutely do. But I'm still waiting for the ability to buy a ticket just the same way that we fly on an airline.

SAVIDGE: Right. The opportunity may not be as far away as we think certainly not a few years. Kay Hire, it's great talking to you today. Thank you very much for joining us.

HIRE: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: And you don't want to miss the special presentation of the CNN film "Apollo 11". That is tonight at 9 and it's only on CNN.


[12:53:00] SAVIDGE: Coming up tomorrow, an all-new episode of the CNN original series "The Movies." We'll explore American cinema through the decades showcasing the biggest Hollywood stars and the most pivotal moments in the film. This week we're focusing on films from the 2000s. And as Tom Foreman explains, it was a cinematic era defined by big stars, big franchises, and finally more diversity in front and behind the camera.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new millennium started with an explosion of stars, big names riding big box office returns.

NEAL GABLER, FILM HISTORIAN: Stars become for a while the most dependable element in movies which is why their salaries go up. And it also changes the whole context of movies because of the power balance in movies changed. And by changing the balance, it changes the kind of movies we get, ones that ultimately centralize the star.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The superstars made potentially mediocre scripts into hits and forgettable ones much more memorable.

DR. TODD BOYD, PROFESSOR OF CINEMA AND MEDIA STUDIES, USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS: "Training Day" is an otherwise small film without Denzel's presence.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And all that made the studios happy especially as they started building on that. Film series were soon everywhere, from the "Fast and the Furious" to "Transformers" to the Bourne movies to --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The studio executives started seeing that's the direction that we want to go. They're not looking for a single project.

JOHNNY DEEP AS JACK SPARROW, 'THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN": Welcome to the Caribbean. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want the next franchise.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Some franchises were themselves the star attractions. The "Lord of the Rings" for example, and the story of a magical boy.

DANA STEVENS, FILM CRITIC: The Harry Potter film franchise like the Harry Potter book franchise was just something that really defined a generation.

[12:55:04] FOREMAN (voice-over): But nothing rivaled the success of the Marvel films.

GABLER: Marvel is arguably the biggest star in the history of movies.

FOREMAN (voice-over): With one hit after another, they brought in young and old fans alike.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My uncle and my aunt, who I don't think have been to the movie theater in 20 years were like where we going.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Simply said the stars aligned.

For many movie fans, it's been a blast.


SAVIDGE: And be sure to tune into an all-new episode of the CNN original series "The Movies". Premieres tomorrow night at 9 Eastern and Pacific right here only on CNN.

Still to come, a dangerous heat wave grips much of the country, temperatures soaring into triple digits impacting millions. How long is it going to last? More on that right after this.


SAVIDGE: Hello, and thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, a warning to more than 150 million people to stay inside as dangerous heat sweeps across more than half the nation. The excessive temperatures are the result of a so-called heat dome. Cities from New Mexico to the East Coast facing heat indices as high as 110.

People in cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia are doing whatever they can to stay cool, and excessive heat warnings are also flying in other places. Even zoo workers are doing --