Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Preparing For Visits To El Paso And Dayton After Shooting Massacres Despite Some Calls To Stay Away; Congresswoman Rejects Trump's El Paso Invitation "Without A Dialogue About The Pain His Racist" Actions Have Caused; Rep. Lina Ortega Is Interviewed About The Coming Of President Trump For Visit Despite Their Grieving; Top Republican Backs Ban On Assault Weapons; Poll: Warren Boosted By CNN Debate, Still Trails Biden. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: CNN's coverage of the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso continues right now with Erin Burnett OUTFRONT.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a defining moment in Trump's presidency. The President about to visit El Paso and Dayton, two cities grieving after massacres. What will he say and how will he be received? And a top Republican going where few of his Republican colleagues will go, calling for a ban on assault weapons. Will others follow? And Senator Elizabeth Warren surging a new poll showing the Massachusetts Senator gaining ground on Joe Biden big time. Are moderates buying her progressive agenda? Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's pivotal moment. The White House making final preparations at this hour for the President to visit the massacre sites of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio tomorrow. And this comes as the Congresswoman representing El Paso refuses to join the President for his visit, saying he turned down her request for a phone call prior to the trip and, quote, I refuse to be an accessory to his visit. I refuse to join without a dialogue about the pain his racist and hateful words & actions have caused.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar's words coming as she says her constituents are flooding her with complaints about the President's visit. Blaming him for a climate of hate and fear against immigrants. Our Ed Lavandera is in El Paso today and this is what he heard.


CLARISSA BOONE, EL PASO COLLEGE STUDENT: Since we have this President, I mean, things have been escalating a lot.

RENE FIERRO, EL PASO RESIDENT: Donald Trump is aiming it at one direction. "We don't want those people here. They're dangerous. They're violent. They're the other. They're not like us. They're not from here. They don't belong here. They shouldn't come here."


BURNETT: The last time President Trump went to El Paso, it was for a rally. He has been there and that rally came with fear mongering and wise about the border and immigrants. Here is some of what President Trump said in El Paso.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are cutting loose dangerous criminals into our country, murders, murders, murders, killings, murders.


BURNETT: Murders. Three months later, President Trump asked a crowd of supporters in Florida how to stop migrants from crossing into the United States and here's what happened.


TRUMP: How do you stop these people? You can't. That's only in the panhandle, you can get away with that stuff.


BURNETT: He laughs. Does he understand now that it wasn't funny or that some of the people that he called murderers were murdered by a white man who called them invaders. The same word Trump himself has used.


TRUMP: This is an invasion. When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that's an invasion.

We're on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People the word invasion, but that's what it is.

We're stopping people at the border. This is an invasion and nobody's even questioning that.


BURNETT: So tomorrow is a huge day for President Trump. The whole country will be watching. He has a chance to speak to everyone. Kaitlan Collins is out front live outside the White House. So Kaitlan, what more are you learning about what the President is going to do? What he's going to say tomorrow?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that first he's going to head to Ohio and then he'll be going on to Texas. And during both of those stops, the President said he plans on meeting with some of the first responders, some of the law enforcement and even some of the victims while he's there.

And, of course, on these trips as we've seen in the past, the President is known to make some impromptu remarks and that's something that White House aides are not ruling out right now, Erin. But, of course, something a problem that the President has to deal with is these local officials that are saying that they do not think it's best for the President to come. And they've been pretty vocal about saying that they think that right now the President should stay away from their cities because they're still grieving.

Now, White House officials are downplaying this. They're brushing off these criticisms saying that the President didn't go visit these cities in the aftermath of these two shootings, that the President would still face a round of criticism from similar people. But, of course, you're hearing from people like the mayor of Dayton who said that she did not feel that the President's addressed to the nation yesterday did enough that it went far enough and that is why you see the comments like you just showed her saying there where she thinks that people who aren't happy with the President's visit should voice those concerns while the President is there.

Now, this isn't the first time he's faced resistance when he's gone and visited cities like this. You saw it in Parkland, Florida after the shooting at that high school where some of the students said that they did not feel like the President should come. You also saw in Pittsburgh after that synagogue shooting where the mayor of the city refused to meet with the President while he was there and those funerals were getting started for those victims.

So it's not exactly a new problem that the President is going to be facing. But, of course, this is going to be a trip that is highly scrutinized and that's something that even aides back here at the White House have acknowledged has been a test for the President in the past whether or not he can maintain that unifying tone.

[19:05:03] So certainly regardless of what does happen tomorrow, it's going to be a highly scrutinized visit for the President and everyone back here at the White House is very aware of that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan, at the White House tonight. Out front now, Texas State Representative Lina Ortega. She represents El Paso. Representative, I know you don't think President Trump should come to El Paso. How come?

REP. LINA ORTEGA (D-TX): Well, I mean, there's a lot of reasons and I was just listening to what was being shown earlier. I think that this community is not ready to have him returned. He has said many hateful things about immigrants. He doesn't understand El Paso.

We consider Ciudad Juarez as our sister city. We have many people that live in El Paso have family that live across the border. He's done his actions that he has taken with regard to migrants have hurt our community. And this is not the right time for him to come. We have a community that is in mourning.

This was a horrific, unbelievable massacre that occurred here. People do not need him at this time to come and visit. And if he's coming, he better be sincere in terms of what he has been saying. And he sometimes tweets things and a couple of days later, he turns around and says something different.

BURNETT: Now, he's saying or the White House is saying, Representative, that this isn't going to be political. They're saying, "Look, if he didn't come, he'd be facing much the same criticism from people like you because he isn't coming." They say this is similar itinerary to other mass shootings when he does a visit for victims, first responders. Do you think that he should be given a chance to be given the opportunity to try to speak to those who are grieving?

ORTEGA: I think that he should respect the feelings of this community and he should not come. This is not the right time. If he shows that is that his future actions about proposing common sense gun reform on not placing gun reform with immigration reform and using that as a bargaining chip, I think that we have to see actions on his part that support that he really is coming over here to say or to express condolences to our community. Our community is not ready for that.

BURNETT: So Congresswoman Veronica Escobar --

ORTEGA: Because we don't believe that he is.

BURNETT: I just mentioned Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, obviously, your representative in Washington. She just tweeted that she declined a White House invitation to join President Trump on the trip tomorrow to El Paso, in part, and I just want to quote her in case you hadn't seen it yet.

"I requested a phone call with him today in order to share what I have now heard from many constituents, including some who are victims of Saturday's attack. My message would have been that he needs to understand that his words are powerful and have consequences. I was told that President Trump is "too busy" to have that conversation."

What do you make of that, that Congresswoman Escobar was told by someone at the White House that the President is too busy?

ORTEGA: Well, I think that that just kind of reinforces what my beliefs are. I mean if he really cares about this community, she is our voice, our representative in D.C., at the Capitol. He should make the time to sit and talk to her. And when he's refusing to do that, what does that show?

Again, it's disrespect for El Paso with everything that's been going on. And, I mean, he's going to create more harsh emotions in El Paso that we don't have to be dealing with right now. It's not the right time for him to be here.

BURNETT: So the Chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party says that words like you are saying have to do with politics, and not what you passionately believe. Here is how he put it.


ADOLPHO TELLES, CHAIRMAN, EL PASO COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: The President being here coming from the top clearly is going to help with people healing and this is a time of healing. It needs to be calm. It will not be disastrous. What I see as disastrous is the local politicians, and Escobar, and O'Rourke, and Moody that are making this a political event for their benefit. That's disastrous.


BURNETT: Talking about local politicians and others. That would include you, I suppose. He calls it a political event for your benefit. What do you say to him?

ORTEGA: I have to disagree and that's exactly why we don't want him here. We don't want this to be a political event. Actually, the last political event that he was here in our community for, he hasn't even paid our city for the cost that were incurred with his visit. He has an outstanding bill.

[19:10:09] So what does that tell you? I mean, we are strained right now with our local law enforcement and he's going to create more strain on resources that we don't need. If he really is not doing this for political reasons, then let's have a wait. It's not the right time.

BURNETT: Representative Ortega, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

ORTEGA: Thank you. Thank you for having me here.

BURNETT: And OUTRONT next, a new poll shows a majority of Americans including Republicans want the Senate to pass tougher gun control laws, period, full stop. So why is the person who makes that decision, the person, the one person, Mitch McConnell, doing nothing? Plus, the ex-girlfriend of the Dayton, Ohio mass killer speaking to CNN painting a disturbing picture of the man who took nine lives.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He showed me the one video of the mass shooting on our first date.


BURNETT: And Kamala Harris losing momentum in a new poll showing her down double digits from the first debate. Is she in trouble?


[19:14:51] BURNETT: New tonight, a top republican backing an assault weapons ban, congressman Mike Turner representing Dayton. His daughter was across the street when the massacre took place. Tonight, in addition to an assault weapons ban, Turner is calling for magazine limits and red flag legislation that would take guns away from people in mental crisis. Manu Raju is out front.

Manu, look, Turner obviously personally touched by this, but going very much against the mainstream Republican Washington grind in taking this stand, will anyone else follow?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably not, Erin. Republicans in the Senate are taking a different tack. They are now under the direction of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who had a conference call with top Republican chairman yesterday. I'm told laid out a path forward that he wants his colleagues to take and it is not moving forward anything close to either an assault weapons ban or the universal background checks legislation that Democrats have been demanding and they're not even talking about bringing the Senate back during this August recess to act more on gun measures.

Instead, they're looking at other things, including that red flag legislation that you discussed, but also dealing with mental health issues and potentially looking at violent video games as the President himself raised concerns about in his address yesterday. Republicans looking at possibly legislating on that issue.

Now, I am told that Mitch McConnell does not want to move on any legislation if it does not have the backing of the President or backing of a number of his Republican senators. So that's one reason why you're seeing resistance from the Senate Majority Leader over the demands. The Democrats were increasing their pressure, saying that they need to keep the focus exclusively on McConnell to bring up that House bill for a vote.

But, Erin, even if that House bill did come for a vote, it is almost certain to fail in the Republican-led Senate. So it's unclear what legislation ultimately could become law with these two parties at loggerheads about the way forward, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Manu. And out front now, our Senior Political Commentator Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and former Republican Congressman Scott Rigell original from Virginia. Congressman, so let me start with you. Do you think Mitch McConnell is not on the right side here in terms of not moving anything forward?

FORMER REP. SCOTT RIGELL (R-VA): Mitch McConnell has consistently opposed anything that makes sense and I'm convinced that he's the leading opponent to any type of rational legislation. The President himself has given himself a little bit of room with the red flag laws and I think that that's going to make some sense that only 14 states have red flag laws.

Sadly, my own State of Virginia is not among them. But I'm convinced that that's common ground, but even that common ground may not make it through Mitch McConnell's Senate.

BURNETT: And what's the reason you think that he just says no? As a personal belief, he doesn't think there should be anything or --

RIGELL: Well, my own experience with the NRA is this, I proposed in 2013 some very, I think, benign legislation with respect to gun traffickers and straw purchasers. I mean, these are by definition criminals and they shouldn't have guns. And we did bicameral or actually bipartisan legislation that would have addressed this.

And I was vehemently opposed by the National Association for Gun Rights and also the National Rifle Association. That's when I dropped my life membership of the NRA. I'm a gun owner, I have 12 guns. I have an AR-15. I don't consider it to be an assault weapon. I mean I consider it to be no more lethal than a hunting rifle. But that doesn't prohibit me from advancing common sense legislation, including the red flag law.

So I'm hopeful that President Trump finally will lead in this area and really forced Mitch McConnell to do the right thing.

BURNETT: Senator Santorum, what do you say about Mitch McConnell and his absolute refusal to do this? I mean, let's just be honest, he's buying out the clock. There's a part of Mitch McConnell that is hoping that six weeks when everybody comes back from recess people have moved on.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Well, no, look, Mitch McConnell is doing what every good leader does. He listens to the people in his caucus and determines what they want. I mean that's what a leader leads, but also you don't lead very long if you're leading in a way that your caucus doesn't want to go.

And Manu said it, even if the bill came up, it wouldn't pass because Republicans would overwhelmingly vote against it. So what you're saying is it's Mitch McConnell. It's not Mitch McConnell. It's the fact that Republicans who represent a bunch of states who these types of laws are not popular aren't going to vote for it.

BURNETT: So what I'm curious about though, Senator Santorum, look, there's all kinds of ways to parse this and talk about which states you've got a point. But when you talk about leadership, you could say, "OK, that's what is caucus will do." Or you could say leadership has to do with the American people want.

USA Today just released a poll, 67% of Americans want Senate bills passed with background checks that the House passed and that includes the majority of Republicans. So one could argue this is for Mitch McConnell to stand up and say, "This is what the American people want." Get on board. I mean, you may not agree with them but that would be a profile in courage, wouldn't it?

[19:20:01] SANTORUM: Well, look, I don't think those polls are really worth too much. I mean, the fact to the matter is every commercial purchase in the United States of America is subject to a background check. I mean you have private purchases in some states are not but --

BURNETT: Twenty-two percent of gun sales in this country are not subjects for background checks, it's a lot.

SANTORUM: Again, all commercial purchases are. I mean, it's private sales that are not and not in all states. So, again, I think the reality is that we need to start looking at the person who's involved with the shooting, and that's what those red flag laws are about and if you listen to what Manu said, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are looking at red flag laws, not a federal law, but to encourage states to pass red flag laws that have due process that actually lead to treatment of people who may be suspected of having mental illness.

Those are the kinds of responsible things that I think can be passed in a bipartisan way, that actually get to the problem.

BURNETT: Could be passed, I mean, I just have to say in a lot of these cases like who picks up a red flag and then I get it, you don't want to go around due process but you got to go through a court. I mean, I know neither one of you agree with what congressman Turner is saying. But all of these things are fine, but the ultimate reality is if you have a gun, you can do something and if you don't have a gun, you can't.

SANTORUM: Well, yes, the fact to the matter is we've had hundreds of millions of guns in this country for a long, long time. But in the last 20 years, we've had more mass shootings than ever and you can say, "Well, what's changed?" What's changed is higher rates of depression, more family breakup, violent video games. You look at the things that have changed over the last 20 years.

BURNETT: And higher powered rifles that did not exist before.

SANTORUM: Well, that's not true. I mean, those high powered rifles have existed for a long time as Scott said.

BURNETT: OK, but they have gotten - come on, Senator.

SANTORUM: No, Scott said, "Look, these are all -" as he said it, "I have an AR-15 too." It's a semi-automatic weapon. It may be easier to handle, but it's no more firepower than the other semi-automatic weapons.

BURNETT: OK. I know you both have AR-15s, you both support that you don't want them banned, as Congressman Turner now does. But when the Second Amendment goes in front of Supreme Court and they say anyone with a common gun should be allowed. The one thing that all these mass shootings have in common, the common gun are these assault weapons.

SANTORUM: Actually, very, very few crimes occur in this country with assault weapons and rifles.

BURNETT: Mass shootings, Senator, mass shootings.

SANTORUM: Again, very, very few crime. Those crimes --

BURNETT: Mass shootings, but nobody wants mass shootings and this is the gun that is used for them.

RIGELL: Why don't we - we can focus --

BURNETT: Congressman, go ahead.

RIGELL: I think we can focus on what is common ground and common ground starting right with President Trump is the red flag laws. Only 14 states, as I mentioned, have red flag laws, Virginia is not among them. I'd like to see Virginia lead in this area and I'd like to see the president lead in this area. Go ahead and introduce legislation. Go ahead and get behind the legislation that Senator Graham and Senator Rubio have already advanced. That is something practical that can be done. Because if we're not

careful, all we're going to hear from the NRA is, "We can't do anything. We can't do anything." The NRA is morally, in my view, and intellectually bankrupt. They don't advance anything of any substance, whatever. It's all no.

So we're not going to get this done with any help from the NRA. And frankly, we're not going to get this done with any help from Mitch McConnell. With all respect to the Senator, I very much disagree that the Senator McConnell is just reflecting the will of his of his conference. I don't think that is the will of the conference.

So I think he is bending to the will of the NRA. That's my view.

BURNETT: All right. We'll leave it there. Thank you both very much. And OUTFRONT next, a new poll tonight shows Elizabeth Warren building serious momentum after the last debate among Democrats. So how much of a threat is she now to Joe Biden? And 2020 candidate Steve Bullock is out front, a red state governor who has stood up to the NRA. So why aren't more Republicans and Democrats willing to do the same?


[19:28:20] BURNETT: New tonight, a surge for Elizabeth Warren according to a Quinnipiac poll just released Warren's support surged by six points to 21 percent among Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden down by two points. Democrats polled after the candidates debated in Detroit.

Out front now Keith Boykin, former Clinton White House aide and Jen Psaki, former Obama White House Communications Director. So Keith, obviously, you got a poll here and there but this is, obviously, a very murky poll coming out right after that debate, so it's the first kind of snapshot of what people thought after that. Six points is an impressive jump for a candidate who had already been gaining momentum. I'm talking about Warren.

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: It is. I think Elizabeth Warren is making steady progress. This is what you want to do as a candidate. Remember, she was the first candidate out of the box back in December and people still had doubts about her back then because of Donald Trump's attacks on her.

And she has been very steady and slow and progressive in her movement. She hasn't moved too fast. Kamala Harris had that big bump after the first debate and it kind of petered out. And Elizabeth Warren has been moving more gradually. I think that's an important way to move in a campaign.

BURNETT: And Jen, look, I will say if you take Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders' numbers and add them together, which I don't think is an unfair thing to do if you look at the long term, I'm not going to say which one would be the ultimate winner, but if you look at the progressive vote, it is greater than Joe Biden's right now. Now, you could add others into Joe Biden. But the point is, it's a powerful wing. JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's true and there's no

doubt there's a lot of energy for what Elizabeth Warren is speaking to and representing. She's an incredibly effective communicator. It's clear why she's running for president and what she would do if she were president. That's something some of the other candidates have a little work to do on.

[19:29:58] One of the most interesting numbers to me though in the poll was her gain among voters who identified themselves as very liberal. She gained about 11 points among that group, Erin. And that is perhaps telling you that there is some coalescing among progressives around her candidacy. Could be for a variety of reasons.

Bernie Sanders lost a bit. Maybe she is gaining some of that. Maybe she's seen as more viable than some of the other candidates. But that certainly is a good sign for her and I'm sure her campaign was pleased to see that.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Now, look, you know, there is some saying, Keith, that being too progressive is a problem in the general election. Warren has responded to that, fiercely defended her agenda at the debate, which was right prior to this poll. Here she is.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for.

I get it. There is a lot at stake. And people are scared. But we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else.


BURNETT: All right. That was clearly pointing, Keith, at Joe Biden who is down two points. That's within the margin of error, but nonetheless the drop even after the people in this debate felt he was the second best performer. Not in love with him after this.

But also this: on policy, OK, on policy her performance among Democrats we can show you double -- double Joe Biden. What does that say?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Joe Biden doesn't really have any brand-new ideas. He is running off of eight years of being Barack Obama's vice president. That's new and exciting.

If you look at the Quinnipiac poll, you look at the other polls the thing people like about Joe Biden is that they think he is electable. Nobody thinks he is most inspiring candidate. I don't think Joe Biden thinks he is the most inspiring candidate. It's just that they think he could beat Donald Trump.

And I'm in the sure that's a convincing argument, especially when you consider two things, they think he is getting all the white voters the Midwest.


BOYKIN: Who thinks, one, no Democratic candidate president has ever won the white vote since 1964.

And two, the two vote getters for any presidential election in history are black man named Barack Obama and a white woman Hillary Clinton. You don't have to have a white guy to win the presidential election. But some reason, a lot of Democrats are so afraid they think they have to pick a white guy in order to win.

BURNETT: OK. And on this point, Jen, Keith has a point, right? Forty-nine percent of people say when it comes to beating Trump, 49 percent say Biden is the best beat, OK? Can I just show you Warren? Nine percent.

So, she surges. They think she's got double in terms of policy. And yet they still think Biden is the only one that can beat Trump.

PSAKI: Because she feels like a risk. I mean, I'm not validating that. But that's what you see in some of the polls. I mean, Keith is right it feels riskier to people out there to nominate someone who they don't think can appeal to middle class working voters.

Now, that's completely unproven. And in many ways, that's a little bit ludicrous. But I will say the electability question, that moves. You know, nobody signs an oath in August and says, I will not change. In fact, if you look a lot of the early state polls, and this is where I think Biden and others may need to worry a little bit, 50 percent or right around that in the early states people responding say, I might change my vote. I might change my support.

And electability is a completely subjective question, you know? And I know from working for John Kerry who was down double digits at this point. Barack Obama was down double digits at this point. There is a long way to go.


PSAKI: And so, I don't think Biden can rest on the laurels at this point.

BURNETT: So, to the point that Jen is making, Keith, though, down double digits. You can look at -- you know, who can rise? OK? Because at this point, almost anyone could. Especially if people fall out of love with Biden on the Democratic side.

Kamala Harris is the other striking number in this poll. Thirteen points down since her surge from the first debate, where she had the moment obviously calling out Joe Biden on busing. So, she is now become to where she was before that first debate, right? She surged and she is all the way back down.

What does that say? Is that a problem?

BOYKIN: It is a problem. It's only one poll you can't be sure that's a trend.


BOYKIN: But f it does become a trend, it's a big problem.

You know, I saw a video of her the other day someone posted of her on Twitter of her speaking at Tavis Smiley State of the Black Union Event, and she was talking as a prosecutor when she was still in the city of San Francisco before she was a state attorney general. And she was very passionate and compelling.

I said to my friends, if that Kamala Harris showed up on stage at the debate last week, she would be the front runner but she hasn't been consistent. I think that is her fundamental problem. When she is good, she is great. But she is not always good and has to figure out a way to be consistent every time she shows up on stage.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. And next, the ex- girlfriend of the Dayton, Ohio, shooter speaks to CNN, revealing disturbing new details about the gunman.

And Beto O'Rourke's response to the mass shooting in his hometown is putting his campaign in the spotlight.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's be very clear about what is causing this and who the president is. He is an open avowed racist.



[19:38:52] BURNETT: New tonight, the ex-girlfriend of the Dayton shooter speaking out tonight, giving disturbing new insight into the person who shot and killed nine people, wounding at least 27 more.


ADELIA JOHNSON, DAYTON GUNMAN'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: He showed me the one video of the mass shooting on our first date. I'm not sure which shooting it was. I was drunk and it was at a loud bar. So I don't --

REPORTER: Did you find that odd?

JOHNSON: I think it's weird but it wasn't like -- it wasn't a red flag which I know is weird to a lot of people. But given the context of him being a psychology student and him being fascinated in the psychology of those things, that's what made it digestible.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock. Governor, thanks very much for being with me. So, you heard the ex-

girlfriend of the Dayton shooter and she says she didn't see that video of a mass shooting as a red flag. She didn't report anything to authorities because she didn't see it that way. He purchased his guns legally as did the shooter in El Paso.

What kind of laws would have made a difference in these mass shootings?

[19:40:01] GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think, Erin we have to look at all possibilities along the way. I mean, you know, all of a sudden, there is great discussion about red flag laws. Look, this isn't that controversial. Even a state like Indiana passed that.

But as not only as -- you know, as even a gun owner, I think certainly we have to look at the vast majority of gun owners think that we should have universal background checks. He should have things like red flag laws. You know, we don't even use -- assault weapons aren't used for hunting or self-defense.

Big chains like sporting good chains stopped selling them. We should stop that as well. You're not going to solve everything. But if we ever start looking at this as a public health issue, not a political issue I think we could make gains. But unfortunately, the NRA, an organization that when I was young used to be about gun safety and hunting is now nothing more than a dark money organization used -- that uses Second Amendment to divide our country.

BURNETT: So, as you mentioned you're a gun owner. And you are a hunter. But you did lose a nephew to gun violence in a horrific shooting at a playground by a kid who had been bullied. You have spoken a bit about this.


BURNETT: This is personal to you.

BULLOCK: It is. It's personal to me. It's personal to the families in Ohio and Texas this weekend. But it's even more than just that.

I mean when, you know, my sixth grade son has to learn where to go during the first week of school if an active shooter happens, what's happening to this country? We can do better.

It's one of these where gun owners and non-gun owners alike -- especially gun owners they don't want guns in the wrong hands. They don't want to see the continually lowering of flags. It's been nine times we've lowered the flags since the Vegas shooting.

So, really, we should be calling on gun owners to say, we can do more to keep our communities safe.

BURNETT: So when your nephew was killed and that moment happened on the playground. I know you were in law school. Tell me how that influenced how you see the issue personally. BULLOCK: Yes, and it's -- I shared there were effectively two victims

that day. So, my 11-year-old nephew Jeremy was shot and killed at the time, 25 years ago by a 10-year-old on the playground. At the time, it was the youngest school yard shooting in the country. Today, I'm not sure if a 10-year-old killed an 11-year-old, it would even make national news. But it said that, you know, because the shooter, the 10-year-old, his only response was, no one loves me.

So, on the one hand, how it's impacted me is saying, how can we have a 10-year-old kid think no one loves him? Or how do we have sort of the alienation of people where they feel like they're all alone and that we need to do more on that?

But it's also -- it's not just a mental health issue. It's certainly an availability and access of firearms that we as a country need to do more. And I believe that most people in this country know that we need to do more.

BURNETT: You're from a red state obviously, a state voting for Trump and voted for you. The NRA, you stood up to them, right? And as you point out, gun owners overwhelmingly support more gun control.

The NRA has taken you on. They've spoken out against you. But you have not been afraid.

Why aren't more people from red states willing to do what you are doing?

BULLOCK: Well, I think it really is, Erin. It's the change of what the NRA was to what it is today. And it's spending hundreds of millions of dollars to both scare people and also then use guns as the dividing point.

And that's -- you know, it's so unfortunate, because we all want to keep our families and communities safe. But it's not a -- it's not a gun safety or even just a Second Amendment organization. It's one that does nothing more than tries to use this to drive a wedge for politics. And I think that we as a country are better than that.

BURNETT: The president, you know, obviously the shooter in El Paso echoed some of the president's words in his manifesto. He wanted to stop a Hispanic invasion of Texas. Invasion is a word the president of the United States has used repeatedly when talking about immigration. Now, he is fighting back against the -- whether his rhetoric had anything to do with the atmosphere we have right now.

And yesterday, he did reject hate speech. He did say reject racism. He did not talk about his own words. But here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate.

[19:45:06] In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must defeated. Hate has no place in America.


BURNETT: Governor, do you believe the president?

BULLOCK: Yes, Erin, you know, on a Monday, he can't say in one voice that we should condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy when for the last two and a half years, he has been using race and often bigotry to divide this nation. And it's one of these that time and time again, cynically, so people can't actually recognize that he is doing anything to improve our -- their lives he is using race to divide. He is -- you know, when white nationalists tacitly think, OK, this guy is going to have my back, in is not contributing to anything constructive.

And he is the leader of the free world. He shouldn't be someone speaking the way that he does speak.

BURNETT: Governor Bullock, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

BULLOCK: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, Beto O'Rourke, he may have left the campaign trail to return to El Paso, but he is getting more attention because of his response to the deadly mass shooting.


O'ROURKE: Keep that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on the battlefield, do not bring it into our communities.



[19:50:21] BURNETT: New tonight, Beto O'Rourke off the campaign trail, spending the day memorializing the victims of the mass murder in his hometown. His response to the shooting and to President Trump, expletives and all, has put his campaign back in the spotlight.

Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beto O'Rourke out in the public eye today for the first time since learning of the mass shooting in his hometown.


NOBLES: Just minutes before taking the stage at a candidate forum in Las Vegas. The gravity of the moment appearing to sink in as he addressed the crowd.

O'ROURKE: Keep that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on the battlefield, do not bring it into our communities.

NOBLES: It would be a first hint to the politician's raw reaction to the tragedy. And decision to not hold back.

His public responses since that moment have been a raw mix of sadness, offering comfort, and most prominently, anger, specifically directed at President Trump.

O'ROURKE: Let's be very clear about what is causing this and who the president is, he is an open, avowed racist.

NOBLES: In the days since the shooting, the former city councilman, congressman, and now presidential candidate has visited victims in hospitals, encouraged the community to give blood and channeled the community's outrage, through, his visible platform, at times his frustration boiling over.

O'ROURKE: He's being calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don't know, like, members of the press, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Hold on a second.

NOBLES: And that approach has led to attacks from the Trump administration.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Beto O'Rourke for the "Vanity Fair" magazine cover, the vanity project candidate, out there screaming and cursing about President Trump. That doesn't heal a single soul. That doesn't help prevent another mass shooting. They're raising their profile.

NOBLES: But O'Rourke is making it clear he stands by what he says.

Since launching his presidential campaign, O'Rourke has struggled to recapture the energy surrounding his 2018 Senate run, consistently down in the polls since and falling behind in the money race. And as of today, his campaign has no clear indication of what comes next.

And while he's not interested in talking about the campaign, it is clear O'Rourke has no plans to back down from this fight.

O'ROURKE: We have to show that is the exception, not the rule, but that will become the new normal if we allow it to be, if we don't stand up.


NOBLES: And today, O'Rourke took a decided step off that public platform. He was behind the scenes today. His campaign telling me that he was meeting today with victims and their families. We're waiting to see how he responds to President Trump's expected visit here to El Paso tomorrow. His campaign saying they don't know what his plans are at this point and we don't know how this impacts his campaign going forward.

BURNETT: All right. Ryan, thank you very much.

And next, an American doctor born in Mexico who raced to save the lives of those shot in El Paso is OUTFRONT.


[19:57:04] BURNETT: New tonight, close to military trauma. That's how an El Paso doctor described the chaos he witnessed in the ER after the mass shooting in which 23 people were killed.

Dr. Jorge Sainz treated three victims at the same time, all in critical condition. He's a critical care doctor in El Paso. And he is OUTFRONT.

Doctor, I appreciate your time. You're a pediatrician. On Saturday, you were called to the E.R. to respond to this unimaginable event, like mass casualty shooting, treating three people at the same time in critical condition.

When did you have realize, Dr. Sainz, what was happening?

DR. JORGE SAINZ, PEDIATRICIAN WHO UNEXPECTEDLY CREATED EL PASO SHOOTING VICTIMS: Well, we were in the newborn nursery, attending to babies when the nurses started talking about receiving texts and receiving notifications that there was a probably shooting and a few seconds later confirm it.

So that's when everybody got an alert. Then a few seconds later, you know, there was through the overhead speakers, you know, saying that there was a mass casualty event. So at that time it was all hands on deck so we just came down to help.

BURNETT: So, you know, Doctor, you are an American, obviously an American doctor. You were born in Mexico. You came to El Paso. Can you process the fact that this shooter said that he was targeting an Hispanic invasion of America?

SAINZ: It's just hard to find out how that happens, you know, but unfortunately those are the times that we're dealing with today. And so for us as medical doctors, we're deal with the violence, we've been dealing with violence for a long time. So this is actually a different level. But it hurts us, just like any other community member.

BURNETT: You know, you describe El Paso, I know, as the best of both worlds. You live in the U.S., you are still so close to Mexico. It has the best of everything in that way.

Do you think people in your community are afraid now, Dr. Sainz?

SAINZ: You know, I suspect that not only people in our community are afraid for changes that are occurring into our society. I believe that, you know, that, yes, some of the people that live here, you know, like anywhere else, everybody is so close together and communicating with media, that everybody is so aware, so quickly things are happening. So, yes, the uncertainty of the times, probably mortify people all the time.

BURNETT: Well, I appreciate your time and I appreciate your being willing to share this with us, you know, as someone who has had a dream come true of coming to this country and becoming a doctor and saving lives in this horrific event. I hope people know your story.

Thank you so much, Dr. Sainz.

SAINZ: Thank you.

BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you for joining us. We are expecting a press conference from police in Ohio at any moment, as we try to learn more about the motive in that horrific massacre. Our coverage continues now with "AC360".