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Beto O'Rourke Returns To Campaign Trail After El Paso Massacre; Sources: John Hickenlooper To End Presidential Campaign; Larger Venue Needed After Husband Of El Paso Victim Invites Anyone To Attend Wife's Funeral; Trump Tries To Win Over Minnesota Women Voters. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:43] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke, returning to the campaign trail today for the first time since the mass shooting in his hometown, El Paso. And he's trying to restart his campaign at the very same time. What is his message right now?

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in El Paso with more.

Leyla, what did O'Rourke have to say?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, he's saying, I'm back, I'm not giving up, and I'm taking aim at President Donald Trump.

He spoke right here in El Paso, a city that when you drive around, you see a lot of signs that say El Paso Strong. They are still healing after the mass shooting that took place 12 days ago and left 22 people dead.

So O'Rourke kind of paused his campaign when that happened. And now he's saying, I am hitting the campaign trail again.

And he's going strong not only on his rhetoric against President Donald Trump, but he's also really calling for strict gun reform. Specifically, he is now taking it one step further and saying he needs more than universal background checks, red flag laws, bans on assault weapons. But he's saying he also wants to call for a buy-back of assault weapons.

Now, again, he spoke here probably 20 minutes or so. And the big aim was against President Donald Trump, racism and white supremacy. Let me let you listen.


BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We absolutely need to tell it, to face it, to acknowledge it, if we're ever going to change it. But we have always tried, until now, to change that. Until this president. Who so openly speaks in racist terms, who so openly favors one race, one religion, one kind of people in this country over every other kind of people in this country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: And, Kate, some perspective here. I was with O'Rourke the day he announced that he was running for president. Back then, he said the existential crisis and threat was climate change.

Today, he says that is still very important to him, but he said the greatest threat right now, in the immediate future, he said, that was President Donald Trump. So he's really, really focusing on that right now.

[11:35:13] Now, what does that change in this reset? He's saying that, right now, he's not going to focus so much on those early states, still visits them, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire.

But he's going to a lot of the places that he considers places that are vulnerable that were made vulnerable by President Donald Trump. He's going to Mississippi and Arkansas.

And one more point. A lot of people are calling for him to get out of the presidential race and run in the Senate race against Cornyn. He doubled down today on that and he says he will stay in the presidential race.

BOLDUAN: Leyla, thank you so much. Let's see what and how, if this has an impact on where things go for Beto O'Rourke. Thanks so much, Leyla.

There's Beto O'Rourke and then there were 23. The record Democratic presidential field will be shrinking by one as sources tell CNN that John Hickenlooper will be ending his candidacy.

The former Colorado governor was never able to gain traction in the crowded field with his more moderate message. He was not going to qualify for the next round of debates and now he is expected to make this announcement through a video today.

That answers one question, but also raises many more. One specifically. What does that mean for all of the calls for him to instead, just like Leyla was talking about, instead of running for president, run for Senate in his home state.

Joining me the CNN Political Director, David Chalian.

David, Hickenlooper bowing out highlights that the next phase of the campaign we've talked about so much, it's kind of upon us. But what does it mean and why didn't he gain traction?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is upon us. We are just now less than two weeks away from that cut-off qualification deadline for the third debate you were talking about. In the next two weeks, we will learn who will make the debate stage and who won't.

And it looks like maybe 10 or 11 candidates will make it. That's half as many candidates that were on the debate stage in Miami and Detroit. So a pretty significant whittling of the field is upon us. And Governor Hickenlooper obviously saw the writing on the wall. The fundraising had clearly dried up. He had gotten no traction.

The answer why, my best theory of the case as to why is because the case he was making that Bernie Sanders running -- embracing his Democratic Socialist label or Elizabeth Warren, too progressive of a candidate in Hickenlooper's mind, that argument for a more centrist Democrat, a lot of the voters who might find that argument appealing, I think, are parked with Joe Biden, the very well-known former vice president.

If you look at his makeup of support, moderates are clearly a part of that. And so Hickenlooper wasn't able to take a slice of the Biden support right now.

BOLDUAN: This also could have Senate implications, but it's not clear if Hickenlooper is interested in running for Senate.

Beto O'Rourke made kind of clear how he feels right now, I guess we should say. What does this all mean for the Democrats' quest to win back the Senate majority?

CHALIAN: I would love to see Hickenlooper's phone and how many calls from Chuck Schumer are listed on the phone.


CHALIAN: Because the minority leader has clearly been trying to recruit the former governor into the Senate race. They see Cory Gardner, the Republican there, as a top-tier target.

But that is why some of these presidential contenders, Steve Bullock in Montana, Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Schumer sees them as people that could really help put the Senate in play for Democrats.

But as you know, you see the map there. That would still even be an uphill battle, even if those presidential contenders were in the race. They may be the Democrats' best chances. But the idea that Texas is definitely going to turn blue in the Senate race in a presidential year I think is not entirely accurate just yet. I don't think we've seen the proof of that.

The Democrats need three seats if they win the presidency to take over the Senate. They need four if they don't win the presidency. And clearly, some of these states, Schumer feels, would be better in play if these presidential candidates would get out of the presidential race and into the Senate race.

BOLDUAN: But again, Chuck Schumer is not running their campaign. So we will see exactly how it goes.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you, David. Thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Sure. Thanks, Kate. [11:39:31] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, he's a man who lost his wife

in the El Paso shooting. And he, because he says he lost the only living relative that he had, he extended the invitation to her funeral to the entire community. Now, after a flood of support came pouring in, that funeral now needs to be moved to a bigger building, a bigger facility to accommodate everyone. The funeral director putting all of this together joins us, next.





BOLDUAN: Those are some of the moments from a memorial service in El Paso last night. The community coming together to honor the 22 people killed in the mass shooting just two weeks ago. The mayor speaking during the memorial said this, "It's up to us to not let the world forget who they are."

At the same time, funerals for the 22 killed at the Walmart are beginning. That includes the funeral service tomorrow for 63-year-old Margie Reckard. She was at Walmart that Saturday morning to get groceries. And Margie is not just one of the 22 lives lost, but she was the only family that her husband, Antonio Basco, had.

Images of Basco grieving at the makeshift memorial outside the Walmart since her death have gone viral.

And this invitation ahead of her funeral has ignited love and outpouring of love and support from El Paso and beyond. A Facebook post from the funeral home says, "Mr. Antonio Basco was married for 22 years to his wife, Marie Reckard. He had no other family. He welcomes anyone to attend his wife's services."

Here with me now is the funeral director at Perches Funeral Home, Harrison Johnson.

Mr. Johnson, thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: You've been really helping Mr. Basco through this over the last two weeks. How is he doing as the funeral approaches tomorrow?

[11:45:04] JOHNSON: Mr. Basco, I guess he's doing, right now, as well as can be. He's still distraught and very, very much hurt. Whenever I speak to him and he has to talk about it, it's kind of -- I'm pretty sure it's very, very painful to him.

BOLDUAN: I've been reading that now after that open invitation, hundreds are planning to attend now. What has the response been like to this open invitation? JOHNSON: Oh, it has been amazing, the response that we've had in the

community here in El Paso and across the country. We've had people call from north, south, east, west, from California, New York, Canada. These are people that are saying that, hey, we want to come and we want to attend the services.

BOLDUAN: Why do you think people -- this has touched so many people? Antonio Basco's story, his grief, and this invitation, why do you think it's touched so many people?

JOHNSON: I believe it's touched so many people because of the fact that it's a great tragedy. It's just a great tragedy, these things that's been happening like this, these mass shootings that's been going on.

And then oftentimes people do lose loved ones. They lose loved ones in these cases. And a lot of times, these are the only people that they have in their lives.

And so whenever people find that out, they want to come and they want to be supportive. They want to be loving. They want to be there and caring for those people to help them through the most trying and tragic time.

BOLDUAN: This can't be the only family that you're helping through their grief during this time. What kind of message do you think this sends or do you hope this sends that in this moment of grief so many people are coming to comfort someone that they've -- most of them probably have never met?

JOHNSON: Right, right. I think that's amazing. I think that's a show of people, that there are still some good people in this world. There are still some good people in our community, some great people in our community that come to comfort people during this time.

And it's an awful time. And really words cannot express really oftentimes when things like this happen, just being there most of the time and just being there, lending an ear to hear what the people are saying, the victims, family members and friends, just listening most time is the most healing part of the entire process.

Because that's what I've been doing with Mr. Antonio Basco, is just kind of listening to him, because he's expressing how he's lonesome now. He misses his wife. He misses her she was pretty much was his soul mate. She pretty much was the person that handled all of the family affairs, his little business that he had washing cars. And so he's kind of thinking, what am I going to do, where do I go from here, because I feel like that I'm going to be all alone.

I think the outpour of support and the people around the country, around the nation and our city of El Paso, has been amazing and tremendous. And I think that he's very, very appreciative to it.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure. And as you said, words are never -- words are so inadequate in moments like this.


BOLDUAN: But thank you for the kindness and support you're offering the community and you're offering Mr. Basco. I know you're doing all of these services for free for him.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

HARRISON: Yes, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for being here.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank you. Bye-bye.

BOLDUAN: Margie Reckard's funeral service will be tomorrow.

We'll be right back.


[11:51:54] BOLDUAN: One of President Trump's targets for 2020 is the state of Minnesota, a state he barely lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by just under two points. So with key issues like race, guns and the economy on voters' minds, does he have a better chance four years later? That may come down to a key voting bloc everywhere this cycle, women who live in the suburbs.

CNN's Martin Savidge went to Minneapolis to find out the state of the race there.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. Minnesota was one of the very few midwestern states that Donald Trump didn't win. He's out to change that.

(voice-over): President Trump has his sights set on winning Minnesota in 2020.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is supposed to be a Democrat state. I don't think so.


TRUMP: I don't think so. I don't think so. They have a very big surprise coming, don't you think?


TRUMP: Very big surprise.

SAVIDGE: The reason he's so focused is because he barely lost the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and because Minnesota is home to Squad member Representative Ilhan Omar, who Trump has repeatedly attacked.

In order to win, Trump needs a strong showing from his base and to hold on to his support in the suburbs with voters like Kelly Meyers.

(on camera): Who would you vote for again in 2020?


SAVIDGE: No misgivings, no doubts.


SAVIDGE: No change of mind?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Amber Griffin says she still supports Trump despite his hateful speech and tweets against people of color.

(on camera): You heard the terrible things that he said?

AMBER GRIFFIN, MINNESOTA VOTER: Yes. I think he's just probably ignorant and he says whatever -- he's a product of his environment, how he was raised.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Neither woman blames the president for the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton or for a lack of swift gun control leadership in the aftermath.

Yet, political experts say there are signs Trump's appeal to suburban women voters in Minnesota is shifting, based on the 2018 midterms.

LARRY JACOBS, HUMPHREY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: We certainly saw some of the cracks in support among Republican, swing voters, or even some Republican women voters coming over to the Democrats because of dissatisfaction with Donald Trump. The clearest sign of that was in state House races and in congressional races.

SAVIDGE: Polling suggests Trump's struggles in the suburbs aren't just limited to Minnesota. A "Washington Post"/ABC poll found the president's approval rating with suburban men was 51 percent. But among suburban women, it was much lower at 37 percent.

I talked to several women Trump voters here who have grown tired of the Twitter rants and images of children separated from their parents at the border and ICE raids and who worry about the economy. They aren't sure if they'll vote for the president again. All declined an interview.

(on camera): When it comes to talking about a political change of heart, many of the women who I spoke to just aren't comfortable about going on camera in front of a national audience.

(voice-over): I had just about given up when I met Mary Joe Anderson. She gladly voted for Trump in 2016 and still likes many of his policies, but she can't bear to see families separated, and has grown increasingly bothered by his bitter battles without reason. [11:55:14] MARY JOE ANDERSON, MINNESOTA VOTER: He opens his mouth

and says things and has to retract them. I don't like that. I think you should know what you're going to say and say it the proper way.

SAVIDGE: She's not certain she'll vote for him again.

ANDERSON: Oh, no. No, no, I'm going to look at everything. But there's too many running on the other side, so I'm not looking now. I'd rather wait.

SAVIDGE: She says she knows other women having second thoughts, suggesting for Trump's re-election hopes in Minnesota and beyond, there's trouble in the suburbs.

(on camera): Despite the erosion of some voter support in the suburbs, President Trump remains very popular in the rural areas of the state. And political experts say it is quite possible he could flip the state Republican for the first time since Richard Nixon.

The only thing they say might possibly stand in the way, a significant downturn in the economy - Kate?


BOLDUAN: Martin, thank you so much. Great to have you on the ground there. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, Israel just blocked two sitting members of Congress from visiting the country. The announcement from Israel coming minutes after President Trump said Israel should do just that. That is really unheard of.

More right after this.