Return to Transcripts main page
Representative Tlaib Rejects Israel's Offer to Visit, Trump Erupts; Hong Kongers Demonstrate for 11th Straight Weekend; Seized Iranian Tanker Released Despite U.S. Efforts; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Computer Outage Causes Delays; Greenland Tells Trump It's Not for Sale; Presidential Hopefuls Court Young Black Voters; Tears, Heartache and the Kindness of Strangers. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 17, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president once again attacking an American congresswoman after she rejected an offer from Israel allowing her to visit the West Bank. Details ahead.
Plus this live look at Hong Kong, another weekend of protests there. This time, China has military forces on standby. CNN is live at a peaceful demonstration there.
Also ahead, Greenland's blunt message to the president, forget it. It's not for sale.
We're live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta and we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: Straight up 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. U.S. president Donald Trump is calling a Muslim congresswoman "obnoxious" after she rejected Israel's offer to visit her grandmother in the West Bank.
Earlier Israel denied entry to the Democratic representatives, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Israel relented and offered Tlaib permission to travel to the West Bank on humanitarian grounds.
But Tlaib declined because there were conditions attached to that offer. That prompted the U.S. president Donald Trump to fire off this tweet, accusing Tlaib of "grandstanding."
CNN's Oren Liebermann has more on this story from Jerusalem.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The planned visit of Democratic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Israel has turned into a bit of a drama with each side here trying to have the last say. After promising to let the two democratic congresswomen in, Israel reversed that decision on Thursday under pressure from Donald Trump. Israel saying they would be denied entry because of their support of a boycott movement against Israel.
But there was an opening for Tlaib who has family in the West Bank. She could be allowed to make a humanitarian visit to her family, including her 90-year-old grandmother, if she agreed to Israel's restrictions.
She did and was granted permission but quickly did an about face. She said visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart.
Silencing me with treatment to make 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. Her family backed her up on this decision.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through interpreter): We are against the conditional visit of Rashida to Palestine. Rashida 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 has the final say on allowing or barring entry to the country, attacked Tlaib on twitter. "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but she was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel.
Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's said on Thursday that Israel has tremendous respect for the U.S. congress, republican and democrats, but under Israeli law he's allowed to bar entrance to those who support a boycott of Israel.
He made no mention of Tlaib and Omar in his statements and he didn't make any other statements about the issue on Friday.
Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with Trump and he was not about to stand to do that now, but one gets the sense that he'd like this story to be over sooner rather than later as he faces a very difficult reelection campaign over the next month -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
HOWELL: Now Natasha Lindstaedt to put it in perspective with us. Natasha teaches government at University of Essex in England.
Good to have you.
NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thank you.
HOWELL: So the U.S. president is playing to his base, this continua hammering of these freshmen congresswomen.
Politically does this us versus them argument that's built around The Squad, does it work in his favor leading up to the 2020 election?
LINDSTAEDT: I don't think it works in his favor. I think it plays well to the base when he brings up the names of these congresswomen at his rallies. He gets a huge response from this. And I think he thinks he's playing to his supporters by attacking these women and bringing their names up.
But I don't see how this is going to attract more voters to support him coming in 2020. It appears to be very personal and vindictive types of attacks. It's interesting that many U.S. citizens might --
LINDSTAEDT: -- not know or be able to name many different members of the House of Representatives. But because Trump has focused on these women so much, he's brought a lot of attention to them that they might not otherwise have. I think it actually helps them, helps bring them more support rather than really helps bring more support for President Trump.
LINDSTAEDT: I don't think it really works for him.
HOWELL: What many would call the politics of division that we're seeing at play. The question that I have for you, Natasha, the art of distraction.
So while we talk about these congresswomen, while we're talking about Israel and the U.S. president, these other big stories that are in the background, people concerned about a weakening economy and also major issues like gun control, where we saw the president do a 180 on that just in the span of a few days.
LINDSTAEDT: Right. I think Trump does try to distract away from the big issues that's happened last week, even with the death of Jeffrey Epstein and he started to tweet crazy conspiracy theories about this to distract from what was going on with the issues of gun control in the U.S.
And this particular feud has a similar flavor to it. The bottom line is that the economy isn't doing very well and projections are that we may enter a recession by next year. That's not really is going to look particularly good for Trump because we're seeing consumer confidence go down.
And independents were actually very optimistic about the economy when Trump was elected. Right now consumer confidence amongst independents is at an all-time low. For any president that enters a re-election facing an economic downturn or recession, only one has been re-elected since 1900.
And then since then the next four presidents have not been re-elected. So it's generally very, very bad for a president to be enduring a bad economic downturn or a recession in the last few years of their first term if they have any chance of being re-elected.
HOWELL: Back to the political implications of what we see here, this continual attack on these freshmen congresswomen, we've seen a foreign nation essentially punish members of Congress who are the president's political adversaries.
Could that damage bipartisan support in Congress when it comes to Israel?
LINDSTAEDT: I don't think with it will damage bipartisan political support in Congress when it comes to Israel because this relationship, this alliance, is a very strong alliance and has been very strong for decades and decades.
Of course, Israel has the right to decide whether they want to bar people from coming or not and this has happened in the last month, with the Spanish representative being denied entry.
It's not great for Israeli-U.S. relations that this has happened. But this is a storm they will weather. I think what's more important is that Trump stays out of these personal feuds with these congresswomen, tries not to get involved in these things, because I just don't see how this is going to amplify the support that he has.
HOWELL: And how does this look for the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to weigh in on this very U.S. -- very domestic issue with two U.S. congresswomen?
LINDSTAEDT: Well, in some ways, it's not surprising; in Israeli politics Netanyahu would be considered very, very right-wing, very conservative. He shares a lot of characteristics that Trump does and, you know, tends to be bolder in his moves when it comes to criticizing those he sees to be dangerous to Israel.
I'm not surprised that he's weighed in on this. I think he has a very close relationship with Trump. I think their relationship played a role in denying these congresswomen entry. And, you know, for the future of Israeli-U.S. relations, I don't think it will be a huge deal. But it's not a very promising development that they were denied entry.
HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, we appreciate your time today. Thank you.
LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.
HOWELL: Now to Hong Kong and the 11th straight weekend of protests that we've seen on the streets. At this hour, I want to show you a live look at what's happening right now, pro-democracy marchers, it's underway, taking place. Thousands of people turned out, walking beneath a gray sky on this day.
Another rally is happening in another part of the city, that rally is in support of police. Hong Kong is on edge, though, as these demonstrations show no sign of letting up.
CNN is live in Hong Kong. Our Will Ripley is on the streets with the pro-democracy demonstrators.
And Will, what are you seeing?
What are people telling you, given the significant shift we saw a weekend ago at the international airport there?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been thousands of people, tens of thousands here, George, marching to this location here, where protest is supposed to disperse.
I'll tell you for the moment exactly what's happening. People are still gathering here. (INAUDIBLE). I'll walk through the crowds here, who remain relatively upbeat, forceful with their message that they want to take back their community, take back their community from Mainland China.
Also shouting words of condemnation over Hong Kong police in accusing them of using excessive force. This has led to outbreaks of violence that often occurred here after dark in the last several weeks, of course, culminating in a dramatic moment when the Hong Kong airport was shut down for two consecutive nights.
At the moment here, this protest appears to remain peaceful, despite the large crowds. We have to watch and see what happens in the coming hours.
The big question is what will happen tomorrow in Hong Kong, when a much larger gathering is expected at Victoria Park, a gathering of up to 100,000 people or more?
Sundays have typically been the big day and the day when tensions along with the crowds escalate.
HOWELL: So Will, we're looking right now at this live image. It's 5:11 pm there in Hong Kong. If I could ask our director can we bring up the images we took earlier in Shenzhen of the paramilitary. There's the image there.
Will, how concerned are people that China's military could decide to cross over that bridge and come into play here?
RIPLEY: I think there is concern amongst China's military. I'm sorry -- there's concern amongst people in Hong Kong that China's military has assembled. And some younger protesters here have said they are unafraid of what they view as an inevitable confrontation with the mainland.
We know China is conducting drills with its armed military police. At this stage, that's more of a propaganda tactic than anything else, perhaps not so subtle intimidation from the central government in Beijing, which wants these people to be aware they are being given this right to come out and express themselves at the blessing of the Communist Party in China, which does not allow this kind of freedom to anybody else in Mainland China.
Any gathering of this sort would be quickly and swiftly stopped in the mainland. People don't even have access to social media to be able to organize a gathering like this. Very different here in Hong Kong and that's why these people are out here fighting because they feel that authoritarian China is encroaching more and more on their special rights of one country/two system policies to be guaranteed for 50 years.
But as violence escalates and China's government has to make a decision about whether to move in and intervene some are wondering if that 2047 deadline is moving closer and closer. The Chinese military already has thousands of troops stationed here in Hong Kong. There's a bridge connecting Hong Kong to the mainland. If they want to move in, they can do so and very quickly.
HOWELL: Will Ripley, thank you. We'll keep in touch with you.
Ominous development to tell you about from two world hotspots. North Korea keeps firing missiles and the U.S. says that Iran may be poised to do the very same.
Plus NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. survives a fiery plane crash. Still ahead, we'll take a look at how he and his family escaped with their lives.
Around the world we're watching the news for you.
HOWELL: North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un directly oversaw a launch on Friday of what Pyongyang says are new weapons. The Pentagon says they were short-range ballistic missiles. North Korea released these pictures, showing Kim Jong-un at the helm laughing there and said that the test had "a perfect result." This was North Korea's sixth missile test in the past month alone.
North Korea is not the only potential problem on the horizon. The United States is also watching ominous signs from Iran. Our Barbara Starr reports.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new classified imagery shows Iran is preparing to launch a rocket as soon as next week that the Iranians claim could put a peaceful satellite into orbit, according to U.S. officials. But it's the program with the same technology needed for an
intercontinental ballistic missile, the type that someday could strike the U.S.
Commercial images of this launch site obtained by CNN show launch- related vehicles are already on site.
TRUMP: Iran, trouble, nothing but trouble.
STARR: Several U.S. defense and intelligence officials say Iran is improving range and accuracy of all of its missiles.
And so is North Korea. Kim Jong-un has conducted six short range missile launches since May. Several showing increased range.
America's adversaries see a president now conciliatory at random times.
TRUMP: Our allies take advantage of us far better than our enemies.
STARR: However, America's military adversaries are on the rise and bolder.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They believe that they can go ahead and produce weapons systems and test weapons with impunity.
STARR: President Trump complements Kim.
TRUMP: I got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.
STARR: But U.S. intelligence experts tell CNN that Pyongyang continues improving all of its missiles and is trying to make new nuclear fuel supplies.
Vladimir Putin is working on new weapons to keep the U.S. out of Europe, including a nuclear-powered missile that apparently recently exploded, releasing radioactive material.
China has massive cyber espionage efforts to steal American military technology.
LEIGHTON: The reason we see all of these things happening and all these different countries is because all of these rivals of the United States see no real pushback from the Trump administration.
STARR: The incoming chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's personal military adviser, has a dire warning.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, INCOMING JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: China went to school on us. They watched us very closely in the First Gulf War, Second Gulf War. They watched our capabilities. They want the capability to defeat us by mid-century.
STARR: Iran and North Korea are under heavy sanctions. How are they getting what they need? U.S. officials say both countries are active on the black market and engaging in cyber espionage -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
HOWELL: The Justice Department has unsealed a seizure warrant following its failed attempt to keep an Iranian tanker captured off Gibraltar from being released. The United States alleges America's --
HOWELL: -- financial system was used to support an illicit shipment of oil by Iran to Syria. The Grace I was impounded last month. The Gibraltar supreme court ordered that ship to be released. Iran wants any delay in getting that tanker out of Gibraltar and warns giving that gives the U.S. an opportunity for what it calls, quote, "abuse."
International travel can be stressful enough but travelers, you can say, needed a bit of extra patience. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol system was down and caused backups and long lines at many airports. Our Rene Marsh has more on what happened.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Customs and Border Protection experienced an outage with its computers at various airports on Friday. This left lots of international travelers in long lines.
The wait times at various airports really frustrated many of these passengers. They found themselves having to be processed by Customs and Border Protection manually because these systems were down.
It is unclear what caused the outage but we do know it created lots of travel woes for these international passengers. Many airlines forced to rebook these passengers because they missed flights -- Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: For many people who have been following this story about NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, they are safe at home after they escaped a fiery plane crash. Their private jet bounced down a runway, slammed through a fence and then burst into flames. Our Dianne Gallagher explains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at how high the fireball is going.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the National Transportation Safety Board on the ground investigating this fiery plane crash that retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. managed to escape holding his 15- month-old daughter, Isla. His wife, Amy; their dog, Gus; the plane's two pilots also rushing to safety. Authorities say, despite the flames and thick black smoke, no one was injured beyond some cuts and bruises. SHERIFF DEXTER LUNCEFORD, CARTER COUNTY, TENNESSEE: We removed the package (ph) involved in the plane crash. Everything else went -- they're all extremely lucky.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Investigators are climbing through what is
left of the now-charred Cessna Citation aircraft, pulling out luggage and a child seat. The NTSB has not determined a cause for what it is calling a, quote, firm landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
RALPH HICKS, SENIOR AIR SAFETY INVESTIGATOR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear.
The aircraft actually went down into the ditch, came back up, before it came to rest.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): The skid marks in the grass still visible. A part of the airport fence wrapped around the fuselage.
BARRY CARRIER, FIRE CHIEF, ELIZABETHTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: If that would've been where the door was, it would've been a lot more difficult for him to get the door open.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): NTSB investigators say interviews with the pilots and Earnhardt family are consistent with surveillance video they obtained of the crash and that there is some data including a cockpit recording they plan to analyze.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Checkered flag at Talladega.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): Voted NASCAR's most popular driver 15 times in a row, Junior followed in the footsteps of his legendary father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.
Throughout the day, fans drove the 20 minutes from Bristol Motor Speedway where NASCAR is racing Saturday to take photos at the crash site. The Earnhardt family already back at their home in North Carolina. Dale Jr. will not call the race on Saturday.
GALLAGHER: Now these two pilots regularly flew that plane and the NTSB say there were no distress calls before that firm landing happened. Right now a team working with the NTSB is going to disassemble the plane and put it back together in Georgia. They expect a preliminary fact finding report sometime by the end of next week -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Elizabethton, Tennessee.
HOWELL: The U.S. president is reportedly interested in buying Greenland. But the Arctic island wants to put Mr. Trump's idea on ice, you could say. We'll tell you what they had to say after this.
Plus another group of protesters hit the streets in Hong Kong. This time this group is on the side of police and we're following it live. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: Coast-to-coast of the United States and around the world you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live. I'm George Howell.
HOWELL: Protests are happening right now in Hong Kong. People on the move for an 11th straight weekend. What you're seeing right here this is a pro-police demonstration that's taking place. Pro democracy demonstrations also taking place as well in Hong Kong. This live image there of what's happening there.
More massive protests are planned for Sunday in the meantime. These pro-police groups continue to gather. That's where we find Kristie Lu Stout, by phone joining us at the pro-police rally in Hong Kong.
Kristie, we see the scene here.
What are people telling you?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: George, you know, incredible, the numbers of people here that showed up for this pro-police rally. The rain has not deterred them. These are supporter of the Hong Kong police. Thousands of people are here. And they have been sharing messages, like "Save Hong Kong. We support the police of Hong Kong."
STOUT: Saying, "Police, add oil," an expression of support. Some of the pro-police supporters are holding the flag and national anthem of the People's Republic of China. We're listening to the speakers from various industries.
We heard from an educator, a lawyer, a policeman's wife. We heard from a pop star Kenny B., expressing his support for law and order and the Hong Kong police.
One speaker spoke in English with a message for the international community, asking the question, "Why are you afraid of China. We should love Hong Kong. We should love China. Once and for all, stop the violence."
George, this is a massive display of support for Hong Kong police and, again, what they see as violence from the anti-extradition protesters -- George.
HOWELL: Kristie, we are looking at this live image here. If I could ask our director again to show our viewers, show them the paramilitary that has set up, again, across the bridge, China's military, poised and prepared, doing drills. They could possibly move in. What's the sense among people there at this pro-police rally, this military group, that could come in to support them against the protests?
STOUT: There is a concern, an alarm about possible military intervention by the PRC. I should remark that where this pro-police rally is taking place is located right next to the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army.
But they've been very low-key. There's about 6,000 soldiers based here. People are aware of them across the border, aware of the propaganda video being circulated showing armed Chinese police.
But they are here to express their support for Hong Kong police under the constitution of Hong Kong, matters of law and order and that is their motive here.
HOWELL: Kristie Lu Stout, by phone with us at this pro-police demonstration in Hong Kong. We will keep in touch with you and follow you and our other correspondents that there are.
Greenland has a message for the U.S. president. That message, the island is open for business but it is not for sale. The government is responding to reports that Mr. Trump has talked about buying the Danish territory.
But it's not the first time America has expressed some interest in doing this. The U.S. has tried to buy the island before and it appears there's a lot to like about it. Greenland is considered the world's largest island, more than three times the size of America's second largest state, which is my home state of Texas.
The Arctic territory is thought to be rich in natural resources. The U.S. government estimates it has as much as 17 billion barrels of crude oil. But here's what Greenlanders have to say about Mr. Trump's idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We don't trade countries or territories anymore. If countries want other territories, it's war. It's not something you buy or sell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can only laugh, laugh at Trump with these announcements. I can't take it seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Who takes Trump seriously?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this says it all about him. He's lost his connection to Earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: They see the humor in it in Greenland. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has more reaction.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems like a lot of folks here in Greenland seem to almost be mocking President Trump's alleged idea to acquire this territory or possibly somehow purchase it.
The government of Greenland has come out and said quote, "Greenland is not for sale," and local folks here in the southeast of the country that we've been speaking to say this is something that America has tried in the past.
They talk about 1867, when there was apparently was a push and the time shortly after World War II and one resident said it simply isn't going to happen.
Now on the face of it, there might not be such a crazy idea for America to want to do this. Greenland apparently does have very vast natural resources that the Chinese have been trying to get their hands on through some Chinese companies. It's obviously --
PLEITGEN: -- not something that America is very fond of.
And it's also a pretty strategic place for America as well. There's a big airbase that the U.S. has there in the northwest of Greenland.
However, if the Greenlanders really do have all these natural resources, they could get to them and exploit them. The first thing they'll want is their own independence from Denmark.
Right now they're semi autonomous. And if President Trump really wants to have Greenland, one thing he'll probably have to do is really acknowledge that the global climate crisis is real.
You can see behind me there's a lot of icebergs that you see here. This has been one of the warmest summers that Greenland has had on record -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, in southeastern Greenland.
HOWELL: Fred, thank you.
To talk more about this we bring in our guest, Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, a professor at the political science department of the University of Copenhagen.
Great to have you with us.
MIKKEL VEDBY RASMUSSEN, UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN: Good to be here.
HOWELL: From the country's acceptance of climate change, the political differences around health care, even land rights, there are major differences between the United States and Greenland, as different as fire and ice, you could say.
RASMUSSEN: Well, it is obviously, very different countries and I think, as interviewers in Greenland testified, they are also people with a great sense of humor. And I think they would shrug at what Mr. Trump is saying.
But in many ways the president is doing what he does best, which is to put out a topic in a deeply controversial fashion but which nonetheless somehow reflects what has been longstanding U.S. interest in the area.
The United States have had since the Second World War a large military presence and a huge strategic interest in Greenland and, obviously, as Chinese interests are manifesting in the Arctic as Russia is re-arming in that region, obviously the U.S. has a renewed interest.
That's going to translate into actually buying a place that's not possible, that's not going to happen, but it is a way to signal an increased U.S. interest, which started during the Obama presidency and has been somehow carried on by Mr. Trump.
HOWELL: It's interesting to see the response from Denmark, the reporting of this suggestion by the U.S. president. I would like to get your thoughts about Denmark's response.
RASMUSSEN: Well, the joke going around in Copenhagen yesterday was that, if Mr. Trump wanted to buy Greenland, then perhaps we should offer to buy Hawaii, where the weather is much better. I think that reflects the Danes' reaction that we don't take it seriously.
If you want to take it seriously I think it's bad for both sides that two close allies, who have been close allies since the Second World War, are at the place where (INAUDIBLE) is coming out of Washington.
That's a major issue for the Trump administration. The European allies are not sure when an idea is an actual idea or just some stuff quoted in "The Wall Street Journal." It's difficult for us to get the right policy response. And down the line that is making cooperation on Iran, engaging with Russia and issues in the Arctic increasingly difficult.
HOWELL: Mikkel, we appreciate your time and insight on this interesting reporting and we'll stay in touch with you for it. Thank you.
Some melting glaciers in Greenland and the Arctic are just a small part of a bigger problem. The global crisis, the change that's happening around the world, last month the planet's hottest month on record was July, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The average global temperature almost 1 degree Celsius, more than 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the 20th century. Despite research that overwhelmingly that says climate change is human-made, some political leaders refuse to accept the science. They ignore the facts. But the facts are there. When Chuck Schumer tweeted about the report,
Republican senator John Cornyn responded by saying, "It's summer, Chuck."
That's what he said.
HOWELL: Still ahead, African American voters, very important in the upcoming election. We'll explain their growing power at the polls.
HOWELL: In the United States, Democrats hoping to be the next U.S. president are focusing in on the importance of African American voters. Vanessa Yurkevich has details.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Faith and politics taking center stage in the Democratic primary as three 2020 hopefuls made their pitch to African-American church leaders and black millennial voters in Atlanta.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the sidelines. Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the couch. This is not a spectator sport.
YURKEVICH: Cory Booker joined today by Julian Castro and Pete Buttigieg, with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders speaking Saturday.
Buttigieg, who has struggled to build support among black voters, hoping to make in roads with an electorate key to winning the Democratic nomination.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I get why voters are cynical because I think a lot of promises have been made and promises have been made to black Americans. And they have not been kept.
YURKEVICH: But the openly gay South Bend mayor not directly addressing whether his sexuality might add to the challenge of winning over some black voters.
(on camera): Do you think that black voters of faith may have a difficult time connecting with you particularly because some may have very conservative, religious or moral beliefs around homosexuality? BUTTIGIEG: I think the biggest thing on the minds of black voters and all voters is what difference our candidacies will make in their lives.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): A new Fox News poll shows Joe Biden maintaining his front-runner status with 31 percent support, with Elizabeth Warren surging into second at 20 percent. She's followed by Bernie Sanders at 10 percent and Kamala Harris at 8 percent. All four Democrats also lead President Trump in potential head-to-head match- ups with Biden holding a 12-point advantage.
This as Beto O'Rourke rolls out a new plan to combat gun violence, proposing a mandatory buyback of assault rifles and a national gun registry. It comes in the wake of the mass shootings in Dayton and O'Rourke's home town of El Paso.
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I owe my family, my community, my country, my very best.
YURKEVICH: On day two of the conference, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will make their pitch to church leaders and black Millennial voters here in Atlanta. The two of them are polling amongst the highest of all the candidates of African Americans and they will try to continue to make inroads with this critical electorate of African American voters in order to win the Democratic nomination. Back to you.
HOWELL: Vanessa, thank you.
Still ahead, a story about the amazing kindness of strangers. A man with no family and the hundreds of people who came to his side.
HOWELL: An Oscar nominated actor, writer and director Peter Fonda has died. He was 79 years old and had been battling lung cancer. The son of legendary actor, Henry Fonda, Peter Fonda's prolific career in movies and television spanned nearly 60 years.
Fonda was twice nominated for an Academy Award and will forever be remembered for his role in the 1969 film ,"Easy Rider."
His older sister, actor Jane Fonda, wrote this, "I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother, the talker of the family. I had beautiful alone time with him the last days. He went out laughing." It was a sad but special day, an evening in El Paso, Texas, on Friday inside a crowded funeral chapel. There were plenty of tears, there were songs and there was the realization that love is greater, stronger, better than hate.
A woman killed in the El Paso massacre was remembered by her husband, who is now left with no family. He found himself surrounded by dozens of strangers, who cared enough to be there with him. Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you have ever started to lose your faith in humanity, this will bring it back. We are standing outside this large funeral home in El Paso. You saw inside, where there are 500 people inside. Now this is the waiting line, people trying to get in. These are members of motorcycle clubs holding American flags.
None of these people know Tony Basco personally. But in this line I have counted over 400 people waiting to try to get in. They are not going to be able to get in because it is full inside.
It is just amazing. This all began because Tony lost --
TUCHMAN: -- the love of his life, Margie, married 22 years. She was one of the 22 people killed at the Walmart and he has no other family left in the world.
He lived a very difficult life he was desperately sad. He said, I just wish people would come to her funeral. There will only be a few people there when she's buried. This is the last of the 22 funerals.
There were tweets from members of the media and a Facebook post from the funeral home and we see a total inside and outside of the church of at least 850 people.
I want to give you a look at the line, how far it spreads. Right now in El Paso, it is 99 degrees outside. This is the line here. People waiting here with the fans. Most are from the El Paso area and nearby Mexico. But I talked to people from California, Arizona and Utah that have driven here.
The line continues over here. People with the fans knowing at this point they can not going to get in but they don't want to leave. And then the line wraps down in that direction.
We spent the day with Tony yesterday, he's such a nice man. He told me that if so many people came, he would be forever grateful. When he walked in this building today, it's not officially a church but a large funeral chapel.
When he walked in and he looked at me and he said, I can't believe there really are this many people here. He was so thrilled and honored and happy. It makes us very glad to be a part of this. It really feels like this is what humanity is all about.
Love is stronger than hate. A good note to end the show on today. Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. The for our viewers around the world, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is next.