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Abrams Not Running for President; Dozens Hospitalized After Vaping; O'Rourke Returns to Campaign Trial; Hickenlooper To End Campaign. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL NOMINEE: We ran the scenarios and there certainly is a pathway. But my responsibility is to run for office when I think I'm the person who can do the best job, but also when it's the right time. And what I really wanted to assess was what was the best value that I could add to this primary season.

We have an extraordinary crop of candidates who are running, but what we're missing is a plan for the general election. And we cannot wait until the general happens to take action. And when I thought about the work that I've been doing since November 2018, I know that I'm an expert on fighting back against voter suppression, that I have lessons learned from 2018, but also new information that we've gathered. And my best value, my best contribution is using this primary to make sure we can win the general election and take back the House, White House and take back the Senate.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so you think -- you worry that this general election will be marred by voter suppression?

ABRAMS: Every election that we've had in the last 20 years has faced some vestige of voter suppression. It accelerated in the wake of the Shelby decision when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. And we know that states that used to be covered under the Voting Rights Act have increased, they're purging and we've seen stricter and stricter laws that make it harder and harder to vote.

What we can do in 2019 is prepare states to fight back. And by the time we get to 2020, by the time we have a nominee for the Democratic Party, we will have in place voter protection teams in all 20 of the battleground states. That's for the presidency, for the Senate, and for down ballot races where state legislative initiatives will change who draws the maps in 2021.

CAMEROTA: OK, so that's your first priority, Fair Fight. That's the initiative you're working on.

Other possibility, do you want to be vice president?

ABRAMS: Well, Fair Fight 2020 is essential for every single thing that we want to accomplish in 2020. It's about making sure that we have a level playing field and that we are not fighting voter suppression one -- single-handedly. But, what I do want to say is that my focus is on making sure that we

use the primary to build for the general. If, however, a nominee decides that they would like to include me on the ticket, I would certainly be open to that. But my focus and my mission is to make certain that no matter who our nominees are, that we have in place the kind of robust response, but also anticipatory defense to make sure that the right to vote is sacrosanct in every one of those battleground states.

CAMEROTA: Yes, no, that is -- obviously that's extremely valuable and I know that that's where you're putting a lot of your time and energy.

But back to the vice presidency for a second, have candidates asked you?

ABRAMS: I've not been asked to run for vice president because everyone who's running for president right now is focused on getting that nomination. And I think we all know it's deeply presumptuous to assume that anything happening after -- or after the primaries is known yet.

But what I do know is that voter suppression is real, that we saw just this year in Texas, in Tennessee, in Arizona and in Florida steps taken by Republicans to further constrict the vote. And if you go to fairfight2020.org, you can find out more about our initiative.

And I know we want to talk about what happens next, but we have to focus on what's happening now. And right now the Republican National Committee has a new carte blanche to engage in behavior that has been forbidden since 1981. We know that states across the country are further putting in place obstacles to the right to vote.

But we also know that we have an engaged and enthusiastic populace that want their voices to be heard, that want their values to be seen in the White House once again. And my responsibility is not to think about the job I may get, it's to do the job I have now. And that's to fight voter suppression.

CAMEROTA: And one more time, people who want to know more should go to fairfight2020.org.

ABRAMS: So, yes, fairfight2020.org. That's our 20-state strategy. We launched it in Nevada just yesterday and we're going to have a launch in Georgia coming up this Saturday, because Georgia is a battleground state.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

ABRAMS: We're the state that has the largest percentage for African- American voters for any battleground state in the presidential and we want people to know that Georgia is not just a place where voter suppression happens. It's a place where we're going to fight it back and we're going to win.

CAMEROTA: OK, now let's talk about the vice presidency. And the reason that I ask is because it's not --

ABRAMS: OK.

CAMEROTA: It's not just a hypothetical. I mean there was reporting, I think from Axios back in March, that Joe Biden wanted you or was considering you or was floating your name. And so -- so you're saying Joe Biden has not reached out to you directly?

ABRAMS: I've met with most of the presidential candidates. And I've had great conversations with them about the work that I've done in Georgia, the work I've done nationally and the work I've done internationally. I have a pretty robust history of not only doing politics, but I've been an entrepreneur, I've been very intentional about building my capacity to be of service.

While my responsibility, though, is not to guess what they're taking from these conversations, it's to ensure that they are fighting for Georgia as a battleground state, that they're fighting against voter suppression. But no one has asked me to serve as their vice president. I don't think anyone is ready to make those conversations happen just yet. And I am not ready for that conversation.

[08:35:07] CAMEROTA: But if Joe Biden asked, you would say yes?

ABRAMS: If any of the nominees offered me the opportunity to run with them as their vice president, after they have been selected as a nominee, of course I'd be honored to consider that. But I need to watch and see what happens in this election.

But, more importantly, I need to do the work to make certain no matter who the nominee is, and who the vice president is, that Democrats are ready to win the elections at the presidential level, at the Senate level and down ballot for state leg races.

CAMEROTA: Understood.

Stacey Abrams, thank you very much. We'll be watching what happens next.

ABRAMS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A for effort.

All right, in recent weeks, dozens of people have been hospitalized around the country after vaping. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains what could be making them sick, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:41] BERMAN: So nearly three dozen people in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have been hospitalized recently after vaping. Some of those patients have been diagnosed with severe lung disease.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta here to explain. Sanjay, what's happening?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting these mainly young patients showing up at these hospitals and they got these symptoms of shortness of breath, of cough. You can take a look at the various things that they come in with. Fever. Very much looks like a bad pneumonia or something and the patients are getting treated for that, oftentimes with antibiotics. And, you know, what happens, they're not getting any better. Doctors start to look a little further into this and say is there something that's tying these patients together. And what they find is that all the patients had a history of vaping recently. So this is the association that the medical teams in these places are fixated on.

Take a look at the map of where this is happening, and the geography is a little bit important here. The number of cases in Wisconsin, four, 12 in -- I'm sorry, four in Minnesota, 12 in Wisconsin, 13 more under investigation, six in Illinois. And the map shows you where these are.

And if you dig a little deeper into that, you find that it's actually clustered in a somewhat similar geographical area, even more than the map sort of indicates there. So this is an investigation now.

What exactly were they vaping? Is this related to these lung injuries? That's what the investigators are focused on.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, Sanjay, what's counter intuitive for people who think that vaping is safer than smoking is why -- why is this happening with vaping and not with cigarettes?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, and, you know, so far it's still an association, although a pretty strong one.

There's a couple of things I think to point out. First of all, with vaping itself there are these liquids called e-liquids, which are the liquids that are -- that are heated up. And there's been some concern for some time that those liquids could, in fact, be causing injury, could cause injury to the lungs.

But I think there's a -- there's another point here and that is that when you start to talk about vaping, people are oftentimes putting other substances into these vapors as well. I just learned this morning, if you put marijuana, for example, in that, that's called dabbing, and it's sort of an indicator that people can be vaping all sorts of different things.

So the question is, if they prove this association to be correct, was it the vaping itself, was it the vaporizer itself, or was it the e- liquid, or was it something else entirely that was placed in the vaporizer? And that's going to be a big question as well because that's happening quite commonly.

BERMAN: All right, Sanjay, again, thank you for your work on this. This is a story we're staying on top of here on NEW DAY. We really appreciate it. GUPTA: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, now to this important story.

A ninth New York City police officer has died by suicide this year. It's the second suicide this week and the seventh since June. The 56- year-old officer served on the force for 25 years. The NYPD has been working on a plan to help troubled officers. The commissioner says some 800 staff members will be retrained with experts on mental health, stress and suicide, with a goal of eventually training the entire department.

What a tragedy. They've got to figure out what's causing this streak and how to stop it.

BERMAN: Oh, and you can tell this is something they're very, very, concerned about.

The U.S. soccer team's fight for equal pay may be headed to federal court after mediation talks with the Soccer Federation broke down. This is what star captain Megan Rapinoe just had to say about the negotiations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGAN RAPINOE, CO-CAPTAIN, U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: I think it's fair for us to ask that when we play a game and we win that game, or we tie that game, or we lose that game, that we should be paid the same as our male counterparts. I don't think that that's an unrealistic or unreasonable ask to have equality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Again, the U.S. Soccer Federation say they are undaunted in their efforts to continue discussions in good faith.

Now here is what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:15 a.m. EST, O'Rourke El Paso speech.

5:00 p.m. EST, Buttigieg Iowa town hall.

7:00 p.m. EST, Trump New Hampshire rally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:45:07] CAMEROTA: OK, Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke is expected to speak within the next few minutes. He's going back on the campaign trail after he went home to his hometown because of the shooting in El Paso. So we have a preview of his speech, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: This morning, Beto O'Rourke returns to the campaign trail nearly two weeks after he went back to El Paso, his hometown, following the massacre there. So O'Rourke will kick off his return with a major speech just a few minutes from now.

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

What does he plan to say, Leyla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we expect Beto O'Rourke to be here in El Paso talking about what he sees as the problem, what he says is white supremacy, racism and guns. Sources are telling me that we should expect for him to have some pretty bold policy announcements coming up very soon.

But, you know, this shooting, which left 22 people dead here in El Paso, and now the city has El Paso strong signs everywhere, you know, it really, really changed his focus and emboldened his rhetoric against President Trump. So we expect to hear more of that in this speech again.

But a big question will be, you know, he's saying that this is going to be bold, that this is going to be possibly a turning point. What will this do for his campaign? Will it actually be the turning point that he needs in his run for presidency?

[08:50:09] Remember, there are people here who have actually called for him to step out of the race and run for Senate. The campaign remains very adamant in saying that's not going to happen. He will continue to move forward on his quest for the White House. And they believe the way to do that right now is through bold gun reform. He has said before he wants a ban on assault weapons. He wants to close the loopholes, Charleston (ph) loophole, boyfriend loophole. And so we should expect to hear more on that today.

We expect after that for him to hit the campaign trail again and head to Mississippi, which, of course, has been in the news because of immigration and ICE raids. And then, after that, he'll go to Arkansas.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Leyla Santiago for us in El Paso.

Leyla, we'll be watching that very closely.

Joining us now, CNN's political director David Chalian.

David, we will be waiting to hear what Beto O'Rourke has to say, how he chooses to get back into the presidential race. But there will be a lot of people who look at this and say the most significant thing is, is that he's getting back into the presidential race because some of the world's most preeminent political experts have been looking at this, David, and saying, you know, Beto O'Rourke should be running for Senate in Texas. "The Houston Chronical" calling on him to come back to Texas and run for Senate there.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, his campaign argues, though, that he has been making this argument throughout this campaign against Trump and trumpism and the presidential campaign they see is the best place for him to continue to do that.

As you just heard Leyla report there, they saw also in this -- in this period of him being back home in El Paso dealing with the grief of his community and trying to provide strength in his community, that that also allowed him day in and day out to sort of be posting up against President Trump since the president's rhetoric was central in so many ways to what went on in El Paso, the aftermath and the conversation that took place after the tragedy there. And so the presidential race is one that O'Rourke and his team around him says he remains committed to. And the Senate race is not up for consideration at this moment.

I'll note, John, the filing deadline in Texas for the Senate race is not until December.

CAMEROTA: OK, so he is staying put as far as we know.

Then there's John Hickenlooper, who we believe today is getting out of the presidential race to do what, David?

CHALIAN: Well, this goes back to that very same conversation about the Senate. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, has been actively recruiting Hickenlooper into the Senate race there. They see Cory Gardener, the incumbent Republican Senator, a top target.

Now, we are told not to expect an announcement from Hickenlooper today when he bows out of the presidential race about the Senate race.

What I think is interesting, you know, I don't think we're going to spend much time debating where Hickenlooper's one percent or less than that support goes in this race. He wasn't a candidate that had much of a factor in his time in this race. But he was an ideological sort of counterweight to the Sanders/Warren liberal progressive wing. He made a big deal in his campaign about not arguing against the party, putting forth a nominee that identifies with some form of socialism or really left wing agenda items, Medicare for all. He got no traction with that message. And today we expect him, in a video, to bow out of the presidential race.

But he'll have a decision to make about the Senate race. I imagine he's more open to that at this moment than O'Rourke is to a Senate race in Texas.

BERMAN: Look, there's been pressure on Steve Bullock also to get out of the race for president.

CAMEROTA: I asked him about that.

BERMAN: And he said?

CAMEROTA: And he said he was not interested in running for the Senate because the -- just I think what Stacey Abrams just said about the presidency, which is, there are too many other good people doing it, he doesn't need to run for it.

BERMAN: Back to Hickenlooper in the race for president, David. It is interesting. I mean John Hickenlooper is a serious candidate, or was, for president. A two term governor from what was once was a swing state. And the idea that someone like that can't get traction is very interesting and tells you something about the Democratic Party right now.

CHALIAN: It does. It also says something just about the size of the field. When you have 24 candidates getting traction is a different equation than perhaps it is in a field of six or seven candidates.

But I think you're right, John, I think Joe Biden is occupying a lot of that sort of more centrist, moderate space. And he is so well-known that if you are really looking for somebody to be a counter balance to a leftward push in the party, you may just go with the guy that Democrats believe has the best chance of defeating Trump, and that's Biden. And so while he's sitting on all that support at the moment, there was no way for Hickenlooper to find his way to get a piece of that it seems.

CAMEROTA: All right, David Chalian, thank you very much for giving us the lay of the political landscape.

BERMAN: All right, there's a lot going on this morning.

CAMEROTA: There's a lot happening.

BERMAN: we are watching the markets very, very closely.

Also --

[08:54:52] CAMEROTA: "The Good Stuff" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

Nine-year-old Nathaniel Cade (ph) from Alabama decided to spend his ninth birthday giving out bottled water in the stifling heat. A local station says his act of kindness toward the homeless was paid for with his own birthday money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Helping others might make you happy and them happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Right. That's exactly what it does. Nathaniel's father added to that by saying, don't wait for it to be cool (ph) to do something for someone else. Just do it because it's a nice thing to do.

CAMEROTA: That is so wonderful. I love that little boy. I have a Nathaniel, but that one's better than mine.

BERMAN: No --

[09:00:04] CAMEROTA: He's better. I'm going to -- I'm going to see if I can do a trade.

All right, we are 30 minutes away from the.

END