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Gun Safety Rallies at 100 Locations across 50 States; Hong Kong Teachers Demonstrate against Alleged Police Brutality; Rep. Tlaib Won't Visit West Bank; Faith and Politics Intersect as Dems Pitch Black Voters; Sanders Makes Progressive Pitch to Black Millennial Voters; Woodstock at 50. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 17, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:08] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Good morning. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

In the wake of two mass shootings and a nation on edge, gun safety groups are preparing to take to the streets in all 50 states. The rallies organized by Every Town for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, two groups, set to take place in more than 100 different locations this weekend in response to the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

With congress in the midst of a long summer break, the so-called recess rallies are aimed at pressuring lawmakers to change gun laws in America. In some cases, protesters plan to show up at Senators' district offices to demand action on background checks and red flag laws.

The push coming as President Trump now appears to be shifting his focus from background checks to mental illness reform.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you've been reading about this a lot lately. We are working very hard to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of insane people and those who are mentally sick and shouldn't have guns.

But people have to remember, however, that there is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger. It's the person holding the gun.


WHITFIELD: All right.

So one of those rallies is set to get underway soon in El Paso, Texas where a gunman killed 22 people during a rampage two weeks ago.

CNN's Natasha Chen is there for us. Natasha -- what kind of crowd will be shaping up there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka -- we don't know exactly how many people will be showing up. It's going to start in just a couple of hours.

I do want to say that this group in particular, El Paso Strong, organically put together this rally today with the help of Moms Demand Action. And it's happening separate from all of the other rallies around the country today, though they have similar goals.

I want to introduce you to one of the college student organizers, Victoria Perches here. Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to put something together today.

VICTORIA PERCHES, ORGANIZER, EL PASO STRONG: : Of course, we wanted to put something together for our community. It's really important that, you know, we bring unity to our city and that our city knows what's available to them, which is why we got in contact with national speakers.

We got in contact with local organizations just so people know what's here for them. We're getting people registered to vote. We're getting people signed up to donate blood. We're just trying to make our community a better place after this horrible tragedy.

CHEN: Yes. And so Victoria -- you're telling me that you got a lot of assistance from Moms Demand Action. What do you think of the fact that they are encouraging a lot of rallies around the country to talk about gun legislation?

PERCHES: I think the first step is talking about it. You know, this tragedy could have been prevented and I think that's one of the many reasons why Moms Demand Action is really reaching out and trying to make a change in the nation.

CHEN: Yes. And when you are registering voters today, what is the message to them? What are you trying to get them to do?

So of course, we want young -- our goal was to get young voters signed up to vote. I think that's our main goal, especially because young voices are so important, and especially living here in El Paso, the Latin mix (ph) voice is so much important also.

CHEN: Yes. And because of what your community has gone through, what do you think the young people, all the people attending the rally today, what do you think the message is to the lawmakers in Washington? What do you want to tell them?

PERCHES: Well, of course I want to tell them to think heavily about the lack of gun laws that they have now, especially in the state of Texas but I also would like to tell them that, you know, El Paso was changed for a day, but we're back together. We're unified, and we're stronger than ever.

CHEN: Thank you, Victoria And that echoes the sentiment of another member of the community who told me that this tragedy does not change the way they live here, that it has reinvigorated their love for human kind. And we're going to see that play out at the rally here today -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen -- we'll be checking back with you. Thank you so much in El Paso, Texas.

So with the gun control debate in the public spotlight this weekend in particular, all eyes are on President Trump, who is sending rather mixed signals on where he now stands on background checks and red flag laws.

Sarah Westwood is in New Jersey where the President is vacationing. So Sarah -- what do we know about, you know, the President's stance on any new gun legislation?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSEC REPORTER: Well, Fred -- we don't know much. And that's actually causing a lot of confusion among GOP lawmakers who want to know where the President stands so they know just how far to go in gun reforms in the wake of these two mass shootings.

Now, the President's focus on background checks is the specific remedy for this recent epidemic of mass shootings has been waning. He's been mentioning background checks less and less frequently and talking more and more about mental health.

[11:05:02] We heard him talk about that at his rally on Thursday in New Hampshire. He did not bring up background checks at all. Although we did hear him speak frequently about expanding background checks, expanding what kind of gun sales require an FBI background check immediately in the wake of the shooting, we did hear him speak about it a little bit earlier this week. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Look, there's nobody more pro second amendment than Donald Trump. But I don't want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac. And I think if we do proper background checks we can prevent that.


WESTWOOD: Now, the White House legislative affairs team had been sounding out proposals with key lawmakers, a senior administration official tells CNN that the White House lege (ph) team hopes to get President Trump on board with the specific legislative proposal before the August recess is over.

But of course, Fred -- the NRA, some Republicans they are wary about a massive expansion of background checks that could make it difficult for any such proposal to pass both chambers of Congress.

WHITFIELD: Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

All right. With me now to discuss: CNN political analyst And "Time" national political correspondent Molly Ball; also with us Politico politics reporter Daniel Strauss. Good to see both of you.

All right. So Daniel -- you first with this whole mixed messaging. Does it seem as though the President is either waiting for signals or direction from someone, some entity before he is a little bit more clear on the kind of response he wants to see legislatively to these mass shootings?

DANIEL STRAUSS, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. I mean, I think what we're seeing here is that the President initially said that he's very interested in background checks, but he's also --

WHITFIELD: Meaningful background checks.

STRAUSS: -- meaningful background checks. But he's also facing the truth that doing so and rallying skeptical conservative Republican senators is difficult. And even though the NRA is in more internal turmoil than in past shootings, it's still a heavy lift in Congress.

We haven't heard, for instance, Mitch McConnell say what really he's interested in bringing to the floor on gun control.

WHITFIELD: Right, because Molly -- is it that Mitch McConnell or those on Capitol Hill are waiting for the President to say specifically what he wants to see? Because from meaningful background checks to now, you know, it's mental illness that needs to be addressed.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they're all taking their cues from the President. And the ball really has been in his court from the beginning. There's a long-standing partisan stalemate on this issue.

Democrats have become more and more assertive in being in favor of gun control -- an issue that used to really split the party. Republicans have long been against these types of measures because they don't believe that they work. The President had an opportunity to break that stalemate, but he's only going to do that if he stays focused on the issue and gives a clear sense of what he wants.

Absent that, I think both parties retreat to their corners. There's no incentive for them to find a way to come together if they don't have, particularly the Republicans, if they don't have a signal from the President that's saying I'm going to protect you. I'm going to put pressure on you to do this thing that goes against your sort of long-standing partisan position.

WHITFIELD: And it was just announced yesterday that, you know, the House Judiciary Committee will hold votes on a series of gun violence prevention bills in early September, the week before Congress returns from recess.

So you know, Daniel -- does this, you know, set a tone of there will be change this time if only everybody would get on board?

STRAUS: I mean at least we know where Democrats are on this and what their priorities are on meaningful gun control legislation, what they think -- what their opening bid is right now.

But still, I don't see any serious movement beyond the House passing some legislation and it getting stalled in the Senate.

WHITFIELD: So Molly -- who's next? I mean, you know, who's going to make the first move next?

BALL: Well, look, not to sound cynical, but the best assumption in Washington is always nothing happens. On most issues nothing is going to happen unless something changes. And what we're not seeing is any real change in that -- in the partisan stalemate on this issue.

The Democrats passed gun control measures back at the beginning of this Congress, at the beginning of the year. The ball has been in the Senate's court since then, and like many other partisan issues that the Democratic congress has acted on, the Senate has not taken them up.

So given that these tragedies happened while the Congress was in recess, Democrats had a discussion about how they can put pressure on the Senate should they come back and try to send more things over to the Senate to probably go nowhere or should they just say the ball's in your court, we've already done our job. It's up to you to act.

They've chosen the latter path for the most part, but now trying to put additional pressure by passing additional bills. But the fact remains, the Democrats have acted on this issue. The Republicans have not. They generally don't want to.

[11:10:04] It's -- that's fine, it's a policy disagreement. But if something is to break the stalemate, which increasingly I think Americans are demanding, it's really in the hands of the White House to try to get the parties together.

WHITFIELD: And this is the President on how he sees the landscape.


TRUMP: So we're looking at it right now. We're dealing with a lot of Republicans, very strong conservative Republicans, and we're coming up with a plan, if we can. Remember this, we have a lot of background checks already.


WHITFIELD: So Daniel, what does that mean?

STRAUSS: I mean, it means that the President after signaling strong interest in background checks has started to look at the whip count, and it's coming up short. There are these senate -- Republican senators who are just not going to move on this.

And I think when he -- I think what we're seeing is that the President personally initially wanted to do some kind of meaningful background check bill and thought it could happen. But now that he's looking at the math it's much, much harder.

WHITFIELD: And of course the NRA weighing in that the appetite was low on that.

So this issue overall really has become a primary focus for 2020 Democrats looking to take on the President. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gun licensing is something that I've talked about from the very beginning as a common sense strategy, one that has in states like Connecticut where you need a license to drive a car, Connecticut said hey, you should have a license to buy and own a firearm. It's common sense, and they saw violence in their state drop 40 percent, 15 percent less suicides.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But the biggest thing we've got to do is build the political and civic muscle to make sure that our representatives in Washington actually have to do what the American people expect of us. And it may not save every life. It may not prevent every tragedy, but when we have this level of loss and pain and anguish, and when you're a mayor, you get the message when somebody is shot.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing THAT we need to do is get the white nationalist that is currently in the Oval Office out of the Oval Office.


WHITFIELD: So Molly, it seems a real delicate dance because none of the candidates want to go too far either way so as not to turn off potential voters.

BALL: Sure, there's always a danger for the Democrats of going too far on this issue. I think no matter, what like clock work in an election cycle, you're going to hear a lot of messaging from the NRA and the right that Democrats want to take guns away in 2020.

But the politics of this issue have really moved. You see in polling an appetite in the general public, among independent voters, even among some Republicans. There is an appetite for some kind of gun control, some form of gun control that is at a higher level than we have really seen in decades, and it's because of this drum beat of mass shootings and it's because of this movement for gun control which is stronger than what used to be there in opposition to the NRA.

So we're going to see if that makes a difference in electoral politics and if politicians choose to respond to that in a different way than they have in the past.

WHITFIELD: All right. Molly Ball, Daniel Strauss -- good to see both of you. Thank you so much.

STRAUS: Thanks.

BALL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, riot police confront protesters as thousands march the streets of Hong Kong still. Teachers standing up for their students accusing officers of brutality. We're there live, next.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

In Hong Kong, thousands of pro-democracy protesters fill the streets for the 11th straight weekend including teachers who protested against alleged police brutality against students. The initial protests were against a bill that would have allowed for extraditions to mainland China. But then it quickly evolved into bigger protests against the government and election peddling.

Paula Hancocks is in Hong Kong for us. So Paula -- there have been demonstrations in support of the government as well this weekend?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right -- Fredricka, yes. There's been a real cross section this Saturday. You've had the teachers' union this morning. You had the pro- democracy this afternoon.

But then as you said, you had pro-police protesters as well. That's the only one that police gave figures for, they say more than 100,000 were there. We saw certainly thousands or one of our team did.

And it just shows how divided this city is, that there are protesters willing to put themselves on the street for both arguments.

Both sides are being criticized at this point for using excessive force. The protesters say that the police in many occasions have used too much force. This is why the teachers were out on the streets as well.

But then the police for their point of view, they have said that if they weren't going to have force used against them, they wouldn't need to use it either.

Now, of course the big question is what will happen tomorrow -- pro- democracy protesters hoping hundreds of thousands of people will be on the streets -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Paula Hancocks -- keep us posted. Thank you so much.

Samantha Vinograd is with me now. She's a former senior adviser to the national security adviser in the Obama administration.

So authorities have made a show of preparing, you know, more security forces to deal with these protesters. And they have also denied a protest permit for tomorrow, so is this setting the stage for bigger, possibly even more violent confrontations?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it seems pretty clear, Fred, that 11 weeks in, Hong Kong protesters will show up tomorrow and in successive days and successive weekends. The outstanding question that's on a lot of their minds is what China chooses to do.

When we talk about Hong Kong we have to remember that China considers Hong Kong to be part of the mainland, and if China allows Hong Kong to get any more independence, any more autonomy, China believes that could lead Hong Kong to really push away from the mainland. That could lead Taiwan, another territory that China considers to be a semi-autonomous area to also make calls for greater independence.

And that is why we have seen the Chinese start to lay the groundwork for their own escalatory actions in Hong Kong. They have started doing words like "terrorist" to describe the protesters. They have started doing military shows of force.

WHITFIELD: and you see that as a prelude to --

VINOGRAD: Yes, laying the groundwork.

WHITFIELD: -- a more aggressive approach?

VINOGRAD: And the problem is that the United States has not spoken with one voice when it comes to making clear what the costs are if China breaks international law and moves forces into Hong Kong.

[11:20:00] We have dual-track approach when it comes to China right now, the right hand is not talking to the left hand. And for those reasons I fear that China and President Xi Jinping are not overly concerned about the costs of ramping up their own actions in Hong Kong.

WHITFIELD: So what kind of signal should the White House be sending? Because for weeks President Trump has been saying this is an internal problem for China and Hong Kong.

VINOGRAD: Well, supporting democracy used to be something that the United States talked about around the world, whether it be in Russia, in Hong Kong, or anywhere. That used to be kind of a baseline theme that the U.S. government supported.

The State Department has been on record supporting the rights of protesters to peacefully demonstrate. The problem is that President Trump has really taken a different track. We know that he is trying to get agricultural concessions from China. And he issued a tweet earlier this week that really made no sense. He said that President Xi Jinping should speak with protesters in Hong Kong when, in fact, Hong Kong should speak with their own authorities about their demands and the authorities could speak with President Xi Jinping.

So what President Trump should do is speak and tweet in line with his State Department and also make very clear what the costs are, again, to violating Hong Kong's -- Hong Kong's autonomy, and the basic law which is an agreement between Hong Kong and the mainland.

We have something called the Hong Kong Relations Act here in the United States. It's a matter of U.S. Law that governs how we deal with Hong Kong. And you could see Congress when they come back in session issue some kind of statement about the need to uphold U.S. Law, vis-a-vis China when it comes to Hong Kong's sovereignty.

WHITFIELD: All right. Samantha Vinograd-- thanks so much. SINOGRAD: Thanks-- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib says she is quote, "being silenced and treated like a criminal", so she is now canceling a visit to Israel. Her reason and Israel's response straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

For decades, lawmakers have been largely united over America's support for Israel, but new tensions have arisen after Israel banned two Democratic U.S. Congresswomen from visiting. U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have supported a movement known as BDS, a Palestine led campaign which calls for the boycott and sanctioning of Israel. The Israeli government eventually said it would let Tlaib visit her family in the West Bank, but Tlaib denied the offer after what she called oppressive conditions.

CNN's Oren Liebermann takes a look at how Israel sees this controversy.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump's political fight against the Democrats has hit Israel.

TRUMP: They are very anti-Jewish and they're very anti-Israel.

LIEBERMANN: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a frequent target of Trump, refused to visit the country under Israeli restrictions, the Democrat of Muslim and Palestinian origin was granted access for humanitarian reasons to visit her family in the West Bank, including her 90-year- old grandmother.

Then Tlaib did an about-face. "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart." She said in a statement.

Silencing me with treatment to mick me feel less than is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice. Tlaib's family in the West Bank backed her decision.

GHASSAN TLAIB, REP. RASHIDA TLAIB'S UNCLE (through translator): we are against the conditional visit of Rashida to Palestinian. She has the right to visit Palestine as a Palestinian regardless of being a congresswoman. As any citizen with a U.S. passport has the right to come and visit their family without any conditions or pressure.

LIEBERMANN: Israel's interior minister who made the final decision on allowing entry attacked Tlaib on Twitter. "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother. One day earlier, Israel had banned Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and

Ilhan Omar, from visiting because of their support for of a boycott of Israel known as BDS. That despite a promise last month that the two would be allowed to enter because of Israel's respect for the U.S. Congress.

A tweet by President Donald Trump in which he said Israel would show great weakness by letting them in gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu little room to maneuver.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): there's one thing we're not willing to do under the under the law. We are not willing to accept into Israel people who call for a boycott of Israel and actually work to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Democrats and some Republicans blasted the decision including pro- Israel Democrat Steny Hoyer who called it outrageous. In Israel opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid said on Twitter these are two radical members of congress, but the decision to bar their entry goes against our national interests. As Netanyahu knows well, this is a serious mistake which strengthens the BDS movement and further harms our relations with the Democratic party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with President Donald Trump, and he wasn't about to start now especially as he faces a difficult re-election campaign over the course of the next month and a big part of his campaign strategy is Donald Trump.

Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem.


WHITFIELD: All right. For more on the fallout from all of this, let's bring in Ambassador Edward Walker former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt. Good to see you, Mr. Ambassador.


WHITFIELD: Should any member of the U.S. Congress be banned from Israel when the U.S. gives that country $3 billion a year?

WALKER: Well, it's a rough call. I'll tell you, I don't think they should have done it. I think it was poor political decision on the part of Netanyahu, but he's facing a very difficult situation in which he might even be indicted for criminal activity, so he's going to do whatever Donald Trump wants.

And Trump has tweeted his basic belief that these two or, well, the four actually congresswomen should be denied entry into Israel. It's a sovereign right of Israel to say they have no right to come.

[11:29:54] WHITFIELD: So that the President gave that green light by making the statements that he did and that the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu essentially took him up on that recommendation and then would ban these representatives. What does that tell you about the relationship as well as the White House asking a foreign government in in which to stand in the way of representation from Congress in their line of work?

WALKER: I think it's a mistake. Frankly, I think it's a big mistake. And I think that it was unfortunate that this was blown out of proportion, that it's become a symbol. But you know, what Bibi has done and what the President has done has made the BDS movement somehow more important than it actually is. It has some real depth in Europe, but it's never had a real impact in this country. Now everybody in the country knows what the BDS Movement is and people are starting -- making up their minds.

So I don't think it's a favor to Israel. I don't think it's a favor to our Congress.

WHITFIELD: And so what's the message in your view that's being sent about the way in which, you know, Trump exhibits his leadership and Netanyahu exhibits his leadership?

WALKER: Well, you don't want to get me started on Trump's leadership and the way he exhibits it. I think we can all see from his tweets the way he respects the truth and what is supposed to be our president's leadership.

I think there is a serious problem in the White House, and that it is being compounded when it comes to Israel/U.S. relations. I have no concern, however, about our relationship with Israel. It's strong. It will remain strong. And I don't care who's in the White House, they're not going to damage that basic core relationship between the United States and Israel.

WHITFIELD: Even when you have some Democrats including Senator Bernie Sanders saying that Israel, you know, shouldn't take America's money if they're going to go to these lengths of not accepting U.S. Lawmakers in their country?

WALKER: We don't give Israel money as a gift. We give it because we see it's in our national self-interest to give it. It's $38 billion over a ten-year period. It was just recently renewed. And it has a lot to do with our position in the region, our ability to move troops around the region.

It's far more complex than just a gift, and I think Bernie is dead wrong when he thinks of it in those terms.

WHITFIELD: Ambassador Edward Walker -- thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Walker: You bet.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, 2020 Democratic candidates make their pitch to black millennial voters, but are they having the success that they had hoped for? A live report next.


WHITFIELD: The intersection of faith and presidential politics can be found in Atlanta today. That's where the Black Church PAC is hosting five of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls, live pictures right now. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker along with Julian Castro and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have descended on the event with one common mission -- pitch African-American voters on their visions for the future of the country.

Our business and politics reporter Vanessa Yurkevich is at the event and has been speaking with a crucial voting bloc this election -- African-American millennials.


JADA SIMMONS, VOTER: What's most important to me is they actually care about the people that they're serving and that it's not just about money or about their fame. That it's really about the people who are going to be affected by every decision that they make.

FRANCISCA SHAW, VOTER: The economy, I know we are -- they're talking about a downturn going to be happening. You know, obviously we don't know when that's going to happen, but I would love to hear what their thoughts are on that and how they can help not make it as bad as it was in '08.

JENNIFER MARTIN, VOTER: Gun violence, I think that's really important. I think it's an issue in our communities. I think from the police to just everyday community gun violence, these mass shootings that have been happening. I think that it's just very important, and we need to do something about it.

ARCHIE MCINNIS III, VOTER: Gun control, that's the thing that's like close to my heart because, you know, like the innocent people are dying all the time. I feel like there's just something that has to be done about that.


WHITFIELD: And Vanessa Yurkevich is joining me right now. So Vanessa -- you also spoke with the candidates there. Which candidates resonated seemingly with the voters?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Hi -- Fredricka. Well, we're waiting for Bernie sanders and Elizabeth Warren to take the stage momentarily. They'll be making their pitch to faith leaders and young millennial black voters.

Yesterday Julian Castro, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg took the stage. Cory Booker got a very warm reception. He talked about his mayorship of the city of Newark. A lot of black voters in his district.

Pete Buttigieg though having the hardest time connecting with African- American voters, still polling at about zero percent. I asked him yesterday why he thought he was having so much trouble making inroads with the African-American community. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUTTIGIEG: I'm relatively new on the scene and not from a community of color. That means I've got to work that much harder to make sure the voters have heard our message, understand how the values and the policies connect up. But we're getting a fantastic reception, especially in recent weeks as we go out and communicate what we're seeking to do.

I think my challenge is to communicate that to millions of Americans who really haven't followed me up until recently when we've come on the scene.

YURKEVICH: But I have heard you say that a couple of months ago, too that you're still introducing yourself to voters, to African-American voters. I mean, don't you think that people know who you are at this point?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, there's a long way between people being aware you exist and people understanding your vision.


YURKEYVICH: Now, Pete Buttigieg having a little more work to do, but Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who are getting ready to take the stage have been polling amongst the top of candidates who are resonating with African-American voters.

[11:39:53] But remember, this is a millennial audience. They want to hear from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on key issues -- gun violence particularly, education and student debt. Many of the voters we spoke to said that they are carrying heavy student debt burdens.

So today they want to hear from these two candidates on these particular issues that matter to them -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Vanessa Yurkevich -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

And we will be right back.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back, happening in Atlanta right now, the Black Church PAC is hosting a forum where five Democratic candidates are taking to the stage today. Bernie Sanders is now talking about environmental justice. Let's listen in.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for inviting me to say a few words. I'm going to get you really nervous. You all ready to get nervous?

The future of our country, and given the crisis of climate change, the future of the world rests upon your generation. Are you ready to accept that challenge? [11:45:01] If your generation would do nothing more than vote at the same level as the older generation, we can transform this country into a nation of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice -- justice.

You know better than I that maybe the most important language in the bible is to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. To treat other people with the dignity and respect and justice that you would like to be treated with, and that is what our campaign is about. It's a justice campaign, and we'd love to have you on board.

WHITFIELD: All right. Bernie just -- Bernie Sanders there talking about environmental justice right there in Atlanta. And we'll keep tabs on all that he is saying to young voters there.

All right, President Trump is interested in buying some new real estate, and this time it's not just a golf course. It's an entire country, Greenland, which says it's not for sale but open for business.

CNN has learned the President has made several overtures to aides about the proposal and even asked the White House counsel's office to look into the possibility.

Frederik Pleitgen has more from Greenland.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Folks in the very beautiful territory of Greenland don't seem that interested in President Trump's alleged idea to buy this place.

The official government of the semi-autonomous region said, quote, "Greenland is not for sale."

They did say that they were willing to conduct cooperation between what they call equal countries.

Now, local residents we spoke to here in this small village of Kulusuk said the Americans tried to acquire Greenland in 1867 and in World War II and they failed. And one resident said it will not happen.

There are some reasons why America might want to have Greenland. It certainly does seem to have a lot of natural resources. And the Chinese have been trying to get in on that business. That's not really something that the U.S. really likes seeing with China trying to get a lot of that business here.

Also, the U.S., of course, has a big military base here in Greenland as well, the Thule military base. So there are some good reasons why the U.S. might want Greenland.

However, if these natural resources really become exploitable here in Greenland, certainly, the folks here would probably want autonomy, full autonomy and independence rather than becoming part of the United States. One of the things that President Trump would probably have to do if he

were to acquire Greenland is finally acknowledge that climate change is real because Greenland, with its giant ice sheet, is certainly in the frontline in the battle against climate change.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Kulusuk, Greenland.


WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, for thrill seekers and nature lovers Moab, Utah is an outdoor paradise. The small desert town is this week's wander must.


CHRIS WONDERLY, ARCHERS NATIONAL PARK: Moab is an excellent recreational mecca. It's a huge attraction for people from all over the world to come out and experience, the Colorado Plateau.

Arches National Park is world famous for its number of arches. We have more than 2,000 known natural stone arches here, probably the most famous arch that we have in the park is Delicate Arch. It's almost become a symbol of Utah.

CART WRIGHT, MOAB ADVENTURE CENTRAL: After you've gone through the park, hit the mountain biking and go on a hummer tour. Moab calls itself the mountain biking capital of the world. The reasons for that is we've got trails for everybody. We've got everything from our beginner trails that provide a wonderful experience all the way to our harder trails such as Slick Rock and the whole enchilada.

Our Hummer Tour is a unique experience. One of the sites that we love to go to is the River Overlook. It stands 400 feet above the Colorado River. It provides unrivalled views.

WENDELL WILLIAMS, SUNSET GRILL: Sunset Grill is the place to see the sunset in Moab. We've got a beautiful outdoor patio where you can watch the sunset over the beautiful Moab Rim. Some of our less popular dishes are the artichoke (INAUDIBLE), definitely the filet mignon and our flourless chocolate souffle. Come on out and enjoy the food and enjoy the view.



WHITFIELD: Exactly 50 years ago, nearly a half million crowded on to a farm in upstate New York to hear the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll. Woodstock was the mother of all music festivals considered by many to be the most iconic pop culture event in history and CNN has a new special report on its legacy.

Bill Weir talked to major figures who helped make the festival success along with artists who performed there like David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this burst of creativity that you've had, you're singing about death. Do you think about how you want to be remembered?

DAVID CROSBY, MUSICIAN: Not so much. The songs will do that. They're the best I can do.

That's the weird thing. Everybody's scared to talk about it. The question is what are you going to do with it? How do you spend that two weeks or that ten years? And I got that figured out. Family, music.


CROSBY: Because it's the only thing I can do.


WHITFIELD: Wow. Timeless but it does take you back. I was too young for that but, you know, it takes me back.

All right. CNN's Bill Weir is part of that special report. He's joining us right now. So when you talk to these artists, what is it that they remember most? Was it, you know, the crowd, the conditions or just kind of the consciousness of that time?

WEIR: You know what, Fred -- It's less about the music and more about the human connection. Exactly 50 years ago this morning, Woodstock was the third largest city in New York and they were out of food.

And that's when all these locals came -- resort owners, farmers -- who were suspicious at first of this huge hoard of hippies coming and they donated food. And there was sort of a hippy theme at the hog farm, the commune with (INAUDIBLE) gravy and they fed each other.

And I think that's why of all the concerts, this is the one that gets the golden anniversary because it should have been a humanitarian disaster, almost half a million people there for that whole weekend, only two casualties.

[11:55:02] WHITFIELD: Oh my God. I mean don't get me wrong, I was around but I wasn't around there -- still a little too young. But you know, were there, you know -- were there any particular moments that a lot of these musicians, you know, talked about --

WEIR: Yes.

WHITFIELD: -- you know, just made it so memorable and great --

WEIR: Absolutely. And each one -- you know, there's 400,000 different stories but what intrigued me is I wanted to see how much of the ideals of peace, love and music hold up these years later.

And David Crosby, he no longer talks to Stills, Nash and Young. You know, their peace and love turned into fights and lawsuits and bitterness. But there are these little moments of connection, the couple on the cover of the Woodstock album, the iconic triple album with them wrapped in a blanket, they're still together, married 48 years.

And so I think it's one of those cultural moments that we aspire to. We'd like to think we would take care of each other if the fences come down and there were no metal detectors, especially these days.

WHITFIELD: Right. And so many iconic moments in music in other ways. I mean, you know, I mean -- Star Spangled Banner.

WEIR: Exactly. Hendrix.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean you can't forget that, or at least, you now what I mean by can't forget it.

WEIR: I do, yes.

WHITFIELD: I wasn't there but I'm really aware.

All right. Bill Weir -- thank you so much. Appreciate it.

The "CNN SPECIAL REPORT: WOODSTOCK AT 50" airs tonight 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

We'll be right back.


Hello again, everyone.