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Gov. Steve Bullock is Interviewed About his Campaign; Italian Team Scours Suspects' Hotel Room; Family of Keyla Salazar Vows to Never Forget Her. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 31, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:31:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are live in Detroit. The halftime show of the CNN Democratic presidential debates. Night one was the debate over substance, a serious discussion about policy and there were division there.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock, he made his first appearance on the debate stage, arguing strongly against decriminalizing border crossings.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think this is part of the discussion that shows how often these debates are detached from people's lives. We've got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now. If we decriminalize entry, if we get health care to everyone, we'll have multiples of that.


BERMAN: And Governor Steve Bullock joins us now.

Governor, it's great to have you here. Great to have you on the stage last night.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be with you both this morning.

BERMAN: That discussion about immigration I think was symbolic of your larger positioning in this race. It seemed to be that you were telling Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, we need to present something different to the American people. Explain.

BULLOCK: Well, and I think, you know, this shouldn't be just a choice between the center and the left or what we don't want and what we can't afford, meaning that we've got to be making connections to peoples everyday lives. I think in many ways what we're doing, what many in the field are doing, is chasing Donald Trump.

Look, the biggest problem with immigration, it's not that it's criminal to actually come in to our country. The biggest problem with immigration is Donald Trump. He's used it to divide -- not only rip apart families, but rip apart our country. So, as a guy who actually won in the sort of states that we have to win back if we're going to win this election, we've got to make sure that we're listening to Americans out there and focusing on their everyday challenges.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But Elizabeth Warren was saying last night basically that you, in the moderate wing, are playing it too safe and that you guys spend a lot of time telling Americans what you -- what we can't do, what we can't afford, what is too much pie in the sky and that that's no way to lead.

BULLOCK: Yes, and, look, I'm not going to put out plans for press releases which I think is what a lot of Senator Warren's plans are.

You know, from --

CAMEROTA: You don't think that they're -- you don't think that they would hold water? You don't think her plans are really that well thought out, they're just for press releases?

BULLOCK: Oh, I think from -- as an example, from FDR to Obama, we've been working to get health care. As a governor, I actually hear about how people have been impacted by Obamacare, not just on TV. When I go to the Target with my son I'll hear stories.

So what we're talking about now is like, let's build on that. She talked about essentially -- it used to be the Republicans. I've been fighting for two and a half years against this repeal and replace. Now when we hear that -- from Democrats say, oh, it's actually too Republican to just try to make sure everybody has access to affordable health insurance without disrupting 70 percent of the population in this country, I mean I don't think that that's where our country is and how we're going to win this election, or this discussion about immigration.

I'm for border security. I'm for keeping families safe, growing our economy, but we don't have to -- just because Donald Trump's doing bad things say, all right, we're going to just have open borders, health care for all. Part of being a leader is actually being honest with people. I want to make sure all folks in this country have health care before we take care of the rest of the world.

[08:35:13] BERMAN: Is this a left center thing? Do you think that there are candidates who are too far left?

BULLOCK: Well, I think that it shouldn't just be a left center because I don't think that we have to compromise our values to win. In some ways it's inside of Washington actually seeing the rest of the world. I mean I think it's easy for Senator Warren to be saying these things in Massachusetts, but remember we've also got to win places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, places that we lost.

CAMEROTA: But do you see the conversation that Beto O'Rourke and others were having last night about decriminalizing border crossings as open borders?

BULLOCK: Oh, I do. I mean, look, when -- and it's not me. When Obama's homeland security, Jeh Johnson says, if you end up decriminalizing border crossing, providing health care for everybody -- we've got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now, we'd have multiples of that. You can fix this system without making it completely decriminalizing border entry. There are ways to do this. But what we're doing is everything that Donald Trump did bad. What we need is a new leader. We don't need all new laws.

BERMAN: Did you do what you needed to do last night? And by that I mean, what are the chances you'll be on that stage in September?

BULLOCK: Well, you know, I only had gotten into this about eight weeks ago. Had a great opportunity to both introduce myself, talk about the difference both winning in a state where Trump won, but also governing. And I think that folks saw that here's somebody that can certainly talk about Donald Trump, but talk about the issues that matter in people's lives. So I was really pleased to do that and hopefully we'll, you know, continue to run.

BERMAN: Did you see a donor spike, for instance? You need to reach the fundraising threshold. Do you have any metrics for us this morning?

BULLOCK: Yes, I don't have all the metrics. You know, we did get a good donor spike along the way. And, you know, the -- it's interesting, if you think back like Bill Clinton announced in October the year before, and he was at nothing at this point. So from the perspective of we still have a long way to go. The debates aren't necessarily what's going to decide who wins. I was real pleased with being able to be up there talking about sort of what I call wish list economics. I think that there's a lot of stuff that was talked about that certainly they sound like great plans but I don't know if they'll ever pass, nor will they help us win back places that we lost. You know, we'll make that distinction that we don't have to compromise our values to get stuff done because I -- we get progressive stuff done in Montana.

CAMEROTA: You didn't have the experience of being in the debate last time. How did you think you did last night?

BULLOCK: I was pleased with the performance. I was pleased to be able to get my voice out there. You know, it's easy to be pretty self- critical and like, look, I wish I would have said, because it's true, like when I'm out traveling, people aren't asking for free everything, they're asking for a fair shot in this economy. And those sort of things are when we were talking about this free college for all, nobody was talking about the fact that seven -- almost seven out of ten Americans don't even have a college degree. What are we going to do for them? So I think that, look, there are other points that I sure wish I could have made, but I was so happy to actually get to be up on that stage, introduce myself and show that there's a real distinction in this field.

BERMAN: Governor Steve Bullock, again, great to have you here, great to have you on that stage last night, a wonderful debate, a wonderful discussion this morning.

CAMEROTA: Look forward to talking to you again. BULLOCK: Thanks, John.

Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, so what happened in the moments before police say these two American teenagers fatally stabbed an Italian police officer? This story gets more disturbing by the day. So we're learning breaking details about what investigators are now looking into.


[08:42:52] BERMAN: We do have breaking news this morning.

CNN has learned that an Italian forensics team will scour the hotel room where two American teenagers were arrested. They're accused of murdering an undercover police officer there, stabbing him 11 times after what appears to be a botched drug deal.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Rome outside that hotel we were just talking about with the very latest.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. Forensic teams have been seen going in and out of this hotel, as have the lawyers of the two American teens at the center of this investigation. Because, of course, the evidence that the police say they found here, including that 7-inch knife that they allege was used in the stabbing of the police officer is crucial to the case that they're building against the two Americans.


BELL (voice over): American teenagers Finnegan Elder and Natale-Hjorth running through the streets of Rome in the early hours of Friday morning, carrying a rucksack they'd allegedly just stolen after a botched drug deal.

FRANCESCO GARGANO, CHIEF OF ROME CARABINIERI (through translator): We examined the surveillance footage of both (INAUDIBLE) and the road the fugitives took to the hotel (INAUDIBLE). And by comparing them, we managed to identify these two Americans.

BELL: What happened next has shocked the country. According to Italian authorities, a police officer, Mario Cerciello Rega, tried to stop the pair but was stabbed to death.

NUNCIA DI'ELIA, PROSECUTOR OF ROME (through translator): They were after money and drugs. We have clear evidence indicating that.

BELL: Police say the two Americans had arranged to meet the owner of the bag to return it, in exchange for money and drugs. They weren't expecting police to turn up instead.

GARGANO (through translator): And as soon as they identified themselves as (INAUDIBLE), they were unexpectedly and immediately assaulted.

BELL: Police say Cerciello was stabbed 11 times. According to court documents, Elder was carrying a 7-inch knife and also confessed to the stabbing. Police say he brought the knife with him from the United States.

GARGANO (through translator): Some of the stab wounds went straight through the body, the length of the blade, through the stomach, the spine and the intestines. So it was impossible to react.

[08:45:01] BELL: The two teenagers dispute the police account, saying the plain clothed officers did not identify themselves as Italian police. But the pair have now seemingly turned on each other. Natale claims he was not aware that Elder was carrying a knife. His lawyer issued a statement saying --

EMILIANO SISINNI, NATALE HJORTH'S LAWYER: Mr. Natale has clarified his position, which is completely extraneous to the unpredictable conduct of others, which led to the death of a servant of the state.

BELL: Under Italian law, the two suspects can be held in custody for up to six months, if not longer, before any charges are filed for a crime that has outraged the country.


BELL: John, I think it's really important to note here that so much of what we know about what happened on that -- in those crucial few hours, about a four-hour period, we know from the Italian authorities, both the prosecuting authorities, the police, but also the investigating charge who ruled on Saturday that the men should stay in jail a little longer pending the bringing of charges or not. We've heard very little from the boys themselves and precious little from their lawyers. We know that the families of both men are now in Rome. They too have chosen to remain, for the time being, tight-lipped.


BERMAN: All right, Melissa Bell for us in Rome. Please, keep us posted. It seems like we're getting a lot of developments there.

So more than 900 children have been separated from their parents at the southern border in the years since a judge ordered the practice to stop. According to the ACLU, the separations occurred for minor offenses, including traffic violations or a parent being HIV positive. And in some cases, it's not even clear why the child was taken. The acting Homeland Security secretary claims separations occur only in the interest of the child and when their welfare is at stake.

Thirteen-year-old Keyla Salazar was killed in the mass shooting in California this week. Her family gathered last night to mourn.


GIORDANO PIMENTEL, KEYLA'S UNCLE: I can't think what we -- what she was thinking. I can't imagine being on the ground, where's my uncle, where's my family, where's everyone when I need them?


BERMAN: CNN speaks to Keyla's uncle, next.


[08:51:21] CAMEROTA: We have a follow-up now to that mass shooting in Gilroy, California. The family of 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, who was one of the three people killed at the food festival shooting, vows to, of course, never forget her.

And CNN's Stephanie Elam spoke with Keyla's uncle, who was like a second father to her.

Stephanie, this has been so emotional to watch the family's grieving what happened. What did he tell you?


And you speak to Giordano, her uncle, but more like a big brothers, her protective and he says that she really wanted to be an animator or maybe a YouTuber because she was 13 and that's what 13-year-olds wanted to do. But now he's riddled with guilt, the fact that he wasn't there for her in the time that he feels she needed him most.


GIORDANO PIMENTEL, KEYLA'S UNCLE: She was so innocent. So -- she didn't know what danger was. She didn't know anything about that.

ELAM (voice over): Giordano Pimentel called himself a protector of his 13-year-old niece, Keyla Salazar.

PIMENTEL: It is 100 percent impossible to tell you how I am feeling.

ELAM: Tall and shy, Keyla loved making YouTube videos with her uncle, who grew up in the same house. At just 16, Giordano was more like her big brother, shooting videos of Keyla's birthday party last year. But on Sunday, he wasn't with her at another family tradition, the Gilroy Garlic Festival. And now, Giordano is saturated with guilt.

PIMENTEL: It's just painful how I feel actually like I didn't do what I promised I was going to do. And she trusted me, she believed in me.

ELAM (on camera): You know this wasn't your fault. You couldn't have stopped this from happening.

PIMENTEL: If I was there, she probably would be here. And she would probably do way more than what I'm doing right now. She was just such a wonderful person.

ELAM (voice over): Keyla's stepdad was shot in the arm, and in the mayhem was separated from the rest of the family. Keyla was shot in the torso. The bullet exiting out her back, her uncle said. PIMENTEL: I can't think what we -- what she was thinking. I can't

imagine being on the ground, where's my uncle, where's my family, where's everyone when I need them? And just being there alone, scared.

ELAM: In the chaos, the family was separated. Her mom began a frantic search for Keyla.

KATIUSKA PIMENTEL VARGAS, KEYLA'S AUNT: You can't imagine a mom like looking for her kid at every emergency room, calling every possible number, like, we have friends driving from like two hours away to try to help look for Keyla.

ELAM: It wasn't until around 3:00 a.m. when the family finally got answers. In the days since, Keyla's mother also went to the hospital, stricken with panic attacks, Giordano says.

PIMENTEL: It's not natural. The parents are the ones that should die first. I can't imagine how hard it is for her.

ELAM: All this when the family should be celebrating Keyla's 14th birthday on Sunday.

VARGAS: Yes, we were preparing to have a birthday cake and be able to, you know, be with her. And so now we have to prepare for a funeral.

PIMENTEL: She would do way more for everyone else than for herself. She was like an angel.


ELAM: And Giordano told me that she was really, really hoping for a golden retriever puppy this weekend for her birthday. And he thinks that the family should go ahead and get it as a reminder of all that she wanted and to keep remembering to live the way that she wanted to live is what he was saying. And he said that her gamer name was Sharky, and so he thinks that would be a good name for that puppy.

[08:55:16] The family has set up a Go Fund Me page which CNN has vetted. And if you wanted to reach out and help this family as they're going through such a deep mourning process, that would be one way to help them out.

Alisyn and John.

CAMEROTA: Stephanie, I'm just always so struck by the vast pain that one hateful 19-year-old with a gun can cause to all of these families forever. Thank you very much for your reporting from Gilroy.

ELAM: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: No, I know. Stephanie, I think, grew up in the region. I think Stephanie grew up going to that festival also. I know this is really tough and moving for everybody. So, thanks.

CAMEROTA: Back here in Detroit, we are gearing up for the second night of Democratic debates. So "NEWSROOM," Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, is up next.