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President Trump Says, I Don't See A Recession; Police Thwart Three Separate Potential Mass Shootings, Making Arrests In Ohio, Florida And Connecticut; Rocky Week For Markets Amid Recession Fears, Trump Trade War; Trump Brushes Off Fears Of Brewing Recession. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 18, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Then when she needs to rest, she can lie down and the president will finally get his border wall.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. Top of the hour. I'm Ana Cabrera in the.

President Trump says, recession, what recession? The president back in Washington now after a ten-day working vacation. He talked to reporters on his way back about the swirling fears that the world economy could be spiraling toward a major slowdown.

Let's bring in CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes. She is in New Jersey where the president spent the past week-and-a-half. Kristen, is the U.S. economy is the solid ground president stands on when he trumpets his success, often calling it the best in the world. How nervous are administration officials about happens if the economy starts to wobble?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it would be natural for them to be very nervous and as well as campaign staffers. We have to keep this in mind. If the economy is always going to be on trial when it comes to a presidential election when there is an incumbent.

So President Trump is always going to be judged by the economy, but particularly this president has made it the central focus of all of his campaign. He's gone as far to say, if you elect any Democrats, you'll never see this again. And I'm the one who created this. I'm the one who can do this. They'll take it away. The economy will crash afterwards. You have to stick with me. Obviously, that all goes out the window if the economy crashes before the 2020 election.

You have a couple of things going on here. First of all, you have a seemingly strategy from the White House, which is deny, deny, deny. As you said, what recession? What is anyone talking about? We saw that really all morning long with Peter Navarro, with Larry Kudlow, who came out to talk about this. They essentially denied that farmers were feeling the heat because of all the tariffs. They deny that America was shouldering a lot of this trade war despite the fact that there was report that came out that said that, actually, 95 percent of the price changes were on the shoulders of U.S. investor.

So it's not really a good situation when we hear it from all of these economic experts, but we're hearing from the Trump experts, from the president himself, and they say there is nothing to see here.

There's a couple of reasons for that. One, of course, again, back to 2020, they don't want there to be anything wrong. They want to look at the optimistic side of that. And the other thing is that President Trump doesn't always believe the information that is being put in front of him. He believes that the economy is probably doing better than it is. He doesn't really pay attention to that. He thinks that his experts, that he knows best.

But it's going to be hard to continue with this strategy, again, of telling people that everything is fine, nothing to worry about, when people actually start to feel it on their wallet. Ana?

CABRERA: All right. Kristen Holmes, thank you.

With us now, The Wall Street Journal's Tarini Parti, The Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian and The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng.

CABRERA: Asawin, is the White House really as confident about the economy as they would like people to believe?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE DAILY BEST: Well, it always depends which officials in the West Wing you ask on this. But when it comes to President Trump himself, over the past three years, not just the few weeks of the economy seeming to bring up darker shades of news for the president, President Trump, when he's talked to confidants and close aides about this issue, has made it very clear over the past several years that when he talks about recessions in the abstract, the U.S. economy, and self-fulfilling prophecy that he actually does believe entities like the news media can potentially play a role in driving the economy down.

He really does believe when bad news crops up in the mainstream media, the media keeps bringing on pundits to talk about it, and it creates sort of this self-sustaining cycle that that can drive down the economy and make indicators worse. So there is a personal reason that he's invested in blaming the media for this because it's something he really does believes, according to the people I've talked to spoken about this with the president over the past few years.

CABRERA: So, Karoun, if the president doesn't believe some of these economic experts and the warning signs because he thinks the data is being manipulated to make it look bad, are there concerns that the president may not take corrective actions?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that is a concern that's out there. I mean, the president likes to point out the economic indicators that he believes works in his favor. And this last week, he's had to do some pirouetting to try to continue to do that because the stock market has been, because you have that inverted yield curve in the bond market. And so economic advisers are out right now, saying, it's not what it looks like, it's not even as bad as people are making it out to seem.

But if this trend continues, it's going to be more and more difficult to argue that point that maybe people are misinterpreting or maybe this is just sort of a glitch because the economy is shifting to bring in -- I believe one of his advisers said more foreign capital is coming to the United States because of his policies.

If you don't see that start to actually see that play out and the indicators end up become worse or more pronounced and can't be explained away as a blip, then we're going to start to see a little bit of problematic effects, frankly. Because, look, we're in a window right now where what people start to feel and how many voices start to explain the economy in a certain way matters in the next, what are we talking, 14 months before the election, 15 months before the election.

And when you already people in the agricultural sector are saying, they're starting to feel the effects of the trade, where you already have people being concerned about what does this going to mean over the holiday season if the president's trade policies continue this way and the economic indicators in places where Trump always pointed to to say look at what a good job I'm doing even if you don't have faith in what I'm trying to do, that could be a very, very difficult combination of circumstances to explain their way out of.

CABRERA: I mean, we do have low unemployment, wages are going up, there is strength in consumer spending, and even with those good economic numbers, the president is losing right now in head-to-head match-ups with the top four Democrats in the most recent polling, as you see there.

Tarini, is the Trump team in need of a recalibration?

TARINI PARTI, , THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think that's something that the team is probably talking about in terms of how they focus on talking about the economy. This is something that Democrats are increasingly focusing on. They know in order to win back the White House, and especially those areas that voted for President Obama and then voted for President Trump, talking about the economy is crucial. And the way they're doing it is pointing to the uncertainty with trade with China, with the trade war that the president has been engaged in and also pointing out that the president, when he talks about the economy, talks about the stock market.

But, you know, the way they talk about it on the campaign trail, they say it's fine if you own stocks, but it's not really working. It might not be working for working class Americans. That's the message that Democrats are trying to point to when they are in Iowa or New Hampshire.

And I think it will be interesting to see how the president tries to counter that, depending on what happens with the economy in the coming months.

CABRERA: And that was a Fox News poll, by the way. And, apparently, the president is mad at his favorite network because of that poll. Listen to what he just said last hour. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Fox has changed and my worst polls have always been from Fox. There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it. Fox was treated very badly by the Democrats, very, very badly, having to do with the debates and other things.

And I think Fox is making a big mistake because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on the really big debates. I guess we're probably planning on three of them. And I -- well, I'm not happy with Fox. I'm certainly happy, I think Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and I think Tucker Carlson and Laura and Jesse Waters and Jeanine. We have a lot of great people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Karoun, did you catch that there? He said, we, when referring to Fox News.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, no, a few times. And I think -- I mean, that just goes to -- look, in the past, and when people have talked about networks having their guy out there in the political sector, you've seen politicians try to separate themselves from that and say, look, it's favorable coverage and you should be doing more of the same.

For them to be saying, we're going to be doing this, I have a say over what the debates are, it suggests a closer relationship. And, clearly, we know the president watches a lot of Fox News and does feel personally invested in that and talks to a lot of the hosts that are around Fox News for the -- as he tries to see how various things will he do will play out in the general public. It seems like there're been various points of tension there and maybe this is just him reasserting the, I'm with you guys, be with me, sort of assessment.

CABRERA: Asawin, you've written about some of the ways Fox News couch host (ph) to the president, like removing former Trump aide David Bossie from air because it upset the president, right?

SUEBSAENG: Oh, absolutely. And one thing to note about not just about Fox News, but sister network Fox Business, is that it's not just a bastion of information and propaganda and entertainment for President Trump, it also houses some of his top informal policy and political advisers to his administration, people like Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

They're not just people who talk to the president regularly over the phone or in private about messaging politics and his administration's policies, but people like Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs, the president values their counsel enough that he has patched them in on speakerphone into Oval Office meetings with senior officials of his administration to talk about things like trade or immigration or what have you.

And we reported at The Daily Beast several months ago that the president started telling advisers working in his administration to, quote, keep an eye, end quote, on Fox.

[18:10:01]

Because he started to notice certain moments of descent bubbling up or what he perceived to be descent, whether it was in a weekend host, or Shep Smith or a straight news reporter of Fox. The slightest bit of what he sees as disloyalty from Fox, even though it could just come about within their normal news-gathering process and not on a show like Laura Ingraham's or Sean Hannity's, he views that as something to be crushed like a bug. And that's how he views Fox. And he feels like he's been so good to them, why aren't they always 150 percent good to him?

CABRERA: Again, we're talking about the president, a man who is fighting multiple trade wars, negotiating with the Taliban and talks with North Korea, looking into buying Greenland, apparently, and then back and forth with Iran right now, he's promising to cure childhood cancer. Tarini, how does he have time to concern himself with the coverage of a cable news network?

PARTI: I mean, this is just who president Trump is. He is obsessed with watching cable news. We know he monitors it daily. He kind of sees it as a benchmark based on how different political pundits and reporters are talking about his presidency. That's how he views as sort of his -- the public commentary on his presidency, as whether he's doing well or not. So he monitors it very closely.

And it is, you know, pretty stunning that he has a lot on his table. But at the same time, he is watching cable news. And he just had a ten-day vacation time at his golf club in New Jersey. So I'm sure he had plenty of time then to watch cable news even more so.

CABRERA: Tarini Parti, Awasin Suebsaeng and Karoun Demirjian, great to have all of you with us, thank you so much.

SUEBSAENG: Thank you.

CABRERA: New details tonight about how police may have foiled as many as three possible mass shootings in five days. How a girlfriend helped to tip off authorities.

Plus, we'll take to you the battleground State of Minnesota, to see if voters who supported Trump in 2016 turned off by his rhetoric.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a product of his environment, how he was raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:15:00]

CABRERA: Chilling information that law enforcement officials may have thwarted as many as three possible mass shootings in just the last five days. In Daytona Beach, Florida, cameras caught the arrest of a man reportedly fascinated with mass shootings. According to investigators, the man details plans to, quote, shoot as many people as he could in a large crowd. His ex-girlfriend tipped off police. They say she is a hero.

In Connecticut, the FBI has arrested a 22-year-old man who they say made racist and anti-transgender threats online. When agents raided his home, they say they found a virtual arsenal, rifles, handgun, ammunition and titanium body armor.

And in Ohio, the FBI seized a stockpile of weapons from this man, who they say threatened to attack a Jewish community center.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is following all of this for us. Polo, what more have you learned?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have three cases that it essentially had all the makings of what could have been the nation's next tragedy here. Investigators, however, moving in and essentially preventing these here.

Let's turn to Ohio first where a police have in custody James Reardon, police saying that Reardon made an Instagram post of a video which shows a man shooting a rifle. Except one of the things that really caught the attention of the New Middleton Police in Ohio is that the Jewish community center of Youngstown was actually tagged in a caption of that video, also that caption implies the gunman seen in the footage would be the shooter behind a potential attack.

At the center, before charging Reardon with telecommunications harassment, police did a search warrant at his mother's house. They found several rifles, ammunition, a gas mask, bayonets and body armor, all those are being analyzed right now to see if any of them were purchased illegally. The FBI has actually interviewed Reardon in this case. But at this point, they have not moved forward on any kind of federal charges. So that stays at the state level.

But also let me take you to Florida, where there's another similar case here. In this case though, police body camera video actually shows the arrest of a 25-year-old believed to have threatened to commit a mass shooting. Tristan Wix of Daytona Beach, he was detained by police last week. He's suspected of sending text messages to his girlfriend, threatening to open fire on large crowds, one of them, I'll read it to you here.

He writes, a school is a weak target. I would be more likely to open fire on a large crowd of people from over three miles away. I would want to break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever, an extremely disturbing text there that certainly caught the attention of authorities.

Authorities, however, saying that this individual told investigators that he does not actually own any firearms but still that he is fascinated with these shootings. And then, finally, another similar case in Connecticut, where a man there was arrested on Thursday who also showed interest in carrying out a mass shooting. This is 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol that you're looking at. He was arrested on weapons charges in Norwalk, Connecticut. Police there are saying that they received a tip he was buying a rifle or at least rifle parts online and then assembling them. But what really caught the attention of investigators here, also other posts on Facebook here, Ana, that he essentially planned to carry out a mass shooting.

We should mention that this individual remains behind bars at this hour.

CABRERA: That is a scary thought. Thank goodness police stepped in. Law enforcement doing good work there.

Thank you, Polo Sandoval.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: President Trump and his closest advisers are telling Americans today that the U.S. economy is not in a recession and that China is bearing the brunt of the president's trade war. We'll hear from some American farmers who beg to differ.

But, first, Alison Kosik is here with this week's Before the Bell. Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. It could another roller coaster week for Wall Street. Investors are watching for any updates on the U.S./China trade war and eyeing the bond market closely.

Last week, the interest rate on the two-year treasury note dipped below the rate on the ten-year bond. That's known as an inverted yield curve, a classic recession signal that freaked out investors on Wednesday, stocks suffered their biggest one-day losses of the year.

But some market watchers are making the case for calm. They argue the American economy is still holding up. Job creation remains strong and consumers are spending, although economic anxiety can create a self- fulfilling prophecy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER ALLIANZ: The only way you can end up in a recession in the U.S. is if either self-fulfilling negative expectation or we get policy mistake or market accident.

[18:20:03]

But the economy itself is still doing relatively well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: This week, we'll get more insight into the strength of consumer. Home Depot, Lowe's, Kohl's, Target, Gap, all report quarterly earnings.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: President Trump today firmly rejecting fears of a recession, insisting the U.S. economy is strong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave them a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The president also defended his trade war with China and its impact on America's farmers. But is he listening to the farmers themselves?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY WERTISH, PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA FARM BUREAU: This wound is self- inflicted by our president. And we would definitely agree with him at the beginning but it doesn't appear that there's a plan B.

Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, and, you know, that farmers are winning, we're great patriots, that's very insulting.

[18:25:01]

That's coming from someone that's never has faced the challenges of a family farmer.

I go into the bank and tell the farmer -- lender that I can't make my payment because we lost our market, the banker is not going to tell me, you don't have to make your payment because you're a patriot.

CINDY VANDERPOL, FARMER: I sometimes stay up late at night worrying about what the future does hold. You know, what do you tell your children that want to farm?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I want to bring Harvard Economics Professor Ken Rogoff, former Chief Economist for The International Monetary Fund, and Gregory Valliere, U.S. Policy Strategist at AFG Investments.

I am so glad to have both of you with me. Thank you both.

Greg, let me start with you. How much is President Trump's trade war impacting the U.S. economy?

GREGORY VALLIERE, CHIEF U.S. POLICY STRATEGIST, AGF INVESTMENTS: Well, the economy is still growing. It's nothing to write home about. Maybe 2 percent. Consumers are still spending. Job market is okay. But I think it's the uncertainty more than anything else.

That farmer we just heard from, or people who run businesses that need components of China, they face a lot of uncertainty. And it looks like it's not going to go away any time soon.

CABRERA: Ken, what's your take?

KENNETH ROGOFF, FORMER IMF CHIEF ECONOMIST: Well, businesses aren't investing here at home either. I think the trade war is toxic for the global economy. There may be some long-run gain with dealing with China, but it could come home to roost in the United States.

CABRERA: A Republican source close to the president told The Washington Post this, about how the president is actually seeing the economic headlines. And he speaks publicly and it's all honky dory. But, apparently, he's telling his aides, or this is their perception, he is rattled, he thinks that all the people that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies, elites who don't know anything about the real economy and they're against Trump.

Greg, what's your reaction to that?

VALLIERE: Well, the coverage is there, Ana. I mean, there's not much left he can do. He can complain about the Fed Chairman, he can maybe talk about a tax cut next year, but the House would never approve that. So he doesn't have a lot of ammunition left. And, obviously, it's making him very frustrated.

CABRERA: It does seem that his strategy is just blame the economy on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Take a look at Trump's recent tweets attacking the man he hired to run the Fed. Powell apparently is Trump's new Robert Mueller, his nemesis, preventing his greatness, his foil.

Ken, does Powell deserve this much finger-pointing?

ROGOFF: No, it is ridiculous. I mean, the trade war is absolutely the thing that's been driving down China, ricocheting into the global economy, to Germany, yes, American farmers. But anyone who exports to China, to Asia is in trouble right now.

The U.S. is still growing. Greg is right about that. But whether we're going to keep even the tepid 2 percent growth is going to be tough unless he loosens this up. But Trump is sort of faced with the dilemma. Either he sort of way backs off the trade war or he pushes the economy into a recession.

CABRERA: Greg, what do you see as the best and what would be the worst thing the administration could be doing right now when it comes to the economy?

VALLIERE: I think any overt claim that he would try to fire or demote the Fed Chairman would be a disaster for the markets.

Great irony here is that Donald Trump had perhaps the most dovish Fed Chair in our lifetime and he fired her. He fired Janet Yellen. I think if he makes the Fed a big issue this winter, it could backfire on him.

CABRERA: Ken, what do you think is the best move this administration could do?

ROGOFF: They could their trade czar, Peter Navarro, and send a signal that they're going to do something different. World markets would soar if he did that.

CABRERA: Why would world markets soar if he did that?

ROGOFF: Because the trade war is the biggest source of uncertainty. Nobody knows what's next. Nobody knows what he's going to Tweet in the middle of the night. Right now, it's pulled back, but it could just be brutal. Everyone is holding back. They're not investing. The U.S. uncertainty over the trade policy is what's hitting the whole world and what's hitting us also.

VALLIERE: And, Ana, the cardinal sin is to blindside the markets and consistently, over the last several months, the markets have been blindsided by people like Peter Navarro.

CABRERA: Recent studies though show that half of Americans don't own any stocks. So, Ken, who is most at risk beyond investors here?

ROGOFF: Well, look, the stock market has not gone down that much. It's really the risk of jobs. If the economy is very strong at the moment, it's not going to fall apart immediately.

But let me tell you. If we go into a recession the next few months by the time we hit fall of 2020 and the economy has hit rock bottom, President Trump will feel it in his re-election bid. The economy is the most important thing and it's going south at the moment.

[18:30:01]

CABRERA: Over/under, both of you, that we'll be in a recession before the 2020 election. I'll start with you, Greg.

VALLIERE: Slightly over but it's not imminent.

CABRERA: And you, Ken?

ROGOFF: I think it's slightly less likely than not. I think it's more -- it's more likely not to happen, but who knows?

CABRERA: OK.

ROGOFF: Yes.

CABRERA: I mean, it goes to show, you can't -- you can't predict. Different opinions from --

ROGOFF: Right, no, no.

CABRERA: -- from two very, very smart men. Ken Rogoff and Gregory Valliere, thank you both for being here. VALLIERE: Thank you.

ROGOFF: Right. Thanks.

CABRERA: Some of the top Democratic 2020 presidential candidates are in the key primary state of South Carolina this weekend trying to shore up a key element of the Democratic base -- African-American voters. So who is breaking through? We'll take you live to the trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Whoo, it's hot. Temperatures are in the 90s today in South Carolina where at least three 2020 Democrats are on the campaign trail, but Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are happy to invest a little sweat equity to make a connection with the Palmetto State's important African-American voters. They make up 60 percent of the South Carolina electorate and how they vote in the state's early primary is an important test of electability.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us now with more. Leyla, we hear it was a bit of a different tone today for Elizabeth Warren at a church in Columbia. We know she has a plan for just about everything, but today --

[18:35:00] LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

CABRERA: -- she focused on faith and being called to act. How was that message received?

SANTIAGO: Right, it really was interesting to not hear her talk about any one of her plans. And typically, in her speeches, you really don't hear her talk much about faith. But know your audience, right? She was in a church, and she talked to them about her own personal story, who she is and the role of faith in her life, talked about being a Sunday school teacher to some pretty rowdy fifth graders once in her life.

You said it first, Ana, that this is very important because many of these candidates are in South Carolina to court the African-American vote. They make up a majority of the electorate here for the primary. So after she spoke, I spoke to churchgoers and, more importantly, for these voters, and I asked them, what do they make of what she said and what would it take to win their vote? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about our social security. That's one of the things, our retirement. And just basically keeping the economy going. As long as the economy -- if the economy is good, then everybody seems to get a little bit of pie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was trying to let us know how she grew up. And we kind of grew up the same way, you know, in the city. We live -- I live right down the street. I grew up right down the street, so I knew exactly what she was talking about and how, you know, to be in the community and be a part of the community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: And what you just heard from Reba (ph) there, Ana, hearing a voter say I feel that I connected to this candidate, that is gold for these campaigns. That is the goal, what they are looking to do and hear from voters here in South Carolina.

Some, like Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, are really focusing on their policies and plans. A little surprisingly for Elizabeth Warren today, she was focusing more on personal story and connection.

CABRERA: Bernie Sanders is unveiling a new criminal justice plan today, as you mentioned the policy focus.

SANTIAGO: Right.

CABRERA: But at least some of his message today was about the current president. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we are talking about now is not only defeating Donald Trump who, in my view, is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. And do you know why Trump is the most dangerous president?

He is doing what no president in our lifetime has done. It's not just that he is wrong on health care and wrong on education and wrong on climate change, he is wrong because he is using the presidency of the United States to divide us up. Based on the color of our skin, based on where we were born, based on our religion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I'm noticing the woman wiping her brow, and he's got a long- sleeve shirt on. That just -- I couldn't take my eyes off of that. How does this message seem to be resonating with South Carolina voters, Leyla?

SANTIAGO: You know, a lot of folks are talking about unity, but I got to tell you, that line, anytime that Sanders would talk about Trump, that typically got the strongest reaction from the crowd. Now, that's not unique to Sanders. You see that with many candidates, any time they take on Trump or talk about taking him down, typically among Democrats who were there and engaged, that is a popular line.

But for folks here in South Carolina, when I'm asking them, what's resonating with you, who are you going to vote for, many will tell you it is way too early. They may have a short list. They may know what their top issues are, but it's still too early for decision time.

CABRERA: OK. Leyla Santiago, thank you.

President Trump is eyeing Minnesota for his reelection bid, but in order to flip that battleground state that voted for Clinton -- the vote was close last time around -- he must win over a key demographic -- suburban women. CNN's Martin Savidge talked to some of his supporters in that state about whether they're having second thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump has his sights set on winning Minnesota in 2020.

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

(BOOING)

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

CROWD: Yes.

TRUMP: Very big surprise.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The reason he's so focused is because he barely lost the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016. And because Minnesota is home to squad member Representative Ilhan Omar, who Trump has repeatedly attacked. In order to win, Trump needs a strong showing from his base and to hold on to his support in the suburbs with voters like Kelly Meyers.

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

KELLY MEYERS, MINNESOTA VOTER: Still Donald Trump.

[18:40:00] SAVIDGE (on camera): No misgivings, no doubts, no change of mind?

MEYERS: None. None. No.

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

SAVIDGE (on camera): You heard the terrible things he said.

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

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

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

LARRY JACOBS, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: We certainly saw some of the cracks in support among Republicans, swing voters, or even some Republican women voters coming over to the Democrats because of dissatisfaction with Donald Trump. The clear sign of that was in state house races and in congressional races.

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

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

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

SAVIDGE (voice-over): I just about given up when I met Mary Joe Anderson. She gladly voted for Trump in 2016 and still likes many of his policies, but she can't bear to see families separated and has grown increasingly bothered by his bitter battles that seem without reason.

MARY JOE ANDERSON, MINNESOTA VOTER: He opens his mouth and says things and then has to retract them. I don't like that. I think you should know what you're going to say and say it the proper way.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): She's not certain she'll vote for him again.

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

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

Martin Savidge, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Despite an ominous warning from China, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters -- look at these pictures -- they are flooding the streets of Hong Kong today. In torrential rain, no -- no -- no less. We'll take you inside the massive crowds and hear what is motivating these protesters, next.

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[17:46:51] CABRERA: An incredible sight in Hong Kong today. Despite pouring rain and growing opposition from Beijing, hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets in peaceful protests against the government. Eleven straight weeks now of demonstration.

Still, Hong Kong officials say they will not give in to the protesters' demands. As CNN's Ivan Watson reports, the protesters are not ready to give up either.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Sunday, the skies opened up over Hong Kong. A tropical downpour that did not stop this sea of humanity. A mass protest against the government's handling of the worst political crisis Hong Kong has seen in decades.

WATSON (on camera): If the authorities were hoping that this protest movement would fizzle over time, they were terribly wrong. Even pouring rain hasn't dampened the protesters' enthusiasm.

WATSON (voice-over): From Hong Kong's Victoria Park, the crowd trudged west. Among them, 30-year-old Desiree Wong, here with her husband, mother and sister.

WATSON (on camera): It is pouring rain out here.

DESIREE WONG, RESIDENT OF HONG KONG: Yes.

WATSON (on camera): And there are still a lot of demonstrators.

WONG: Yes, because we are determined to let the government hear us. We're just (ph) -- the weather cannot change our mind, cannot change our demands.

WATSON (on camera): Do you think that the government will listen to you this time?

WONG: I hope so. But to be honest, I do not have a lot of hope.

WATSON (voice-over): Hong Kong has been locked in a cycle of unrest for more than two months. After two separate million-man protests marches last June, the city's appointed government suspended but refused to completely withdraw a proposed law that would allow the extradition of suspects from this former British colony to mainland China.

Since then, the violence has only escalated. The authorities denounced protesters, calling them rioting criminals, while the opposition accuses the police of excess use of force.

On Saturday, supporters of the government staged their own smaller demonstration, supporting the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We support the police and want what is safe in Hong Kong. (INAUDIBLE) and we did not have another (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON (voice-over): But the government in mainland China has a more ominous message, showing off its security forces on the border with Hong Kong, an obvious warning. But these threats from Beijing haven't quelled Hong Kong's dissent. This 23-year-old volunteer medic says she has attended more than 30 protests in the last two months.

WATSON (on camera): Is there anything that the local government could do to satisfy the people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think if they actually responded to those five requests, including, you know, withdrawing the extradition bill and setting up an independent inquiry council, I think that will calm a lot of things down.

WATSON (voice-over): But earlier this month, a senior Hong Kong government official told CNN there would be no compromise when it comes to the protesters' demands. The test of wills between the government and the people in the streets appears far from over.

[18:50:10] Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Some residents in Newark, New Jersey are furious after their drinking water tested at two times the legal limit for lead. How's the city responding when we come back.

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CABRERA: We've all heard about cities struggling to make their water supply safe. Flint, Michigan, the most glaring example. But now, experts say the water in Newark, New Jersey contains almost double the amount of lead considered safe by the EPA.

CNN's Polo Sandoval reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's how many families in Newark, New Jersey spent their weekend, hauling cases of bottled water back home to loved ones.

NEREIDA NIEVES, RESIDENT OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: There?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

NIEVES: OK, thank you.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Among them, we found Nereida Nieves, who worries a water filter previously given to her by the city has not been enough to keep her family safe from lead.

NIEVES: You never know because nothing is 100 percent. I mean, they could tell you it's OK, but you don't know that, you know what I mean? So I kind of think that -- you know, I'm very concerned for everybody, for the whole community.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Nieves lives in one of about 14,000 households who have been warned their water could be contaminated by lead in decades-old service pipes. That comes as no surprise to many in this community as Newark distributed more than 35,000 tap water filters earlier this year.

But earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency still found unacceptably high levels of lead at two homes despite the filters. Those results are a reminder the water is still not safe to drink for many in New Jersey's largest city.

[18:55:07] NELLIE, RESIDENT OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: A year ago that we got the water filters. And, you know, now we're now getting another, you know, alarm around the lead in our water.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Not all residents are at risk for elevated levels of lead, says the city, only those serviced by one of Newark's water treatment plants. They are the ones being offered the free water. City officials say that's purely out of an abundance of caution. It's a move that's been well received by Tony McCant who has lived in Newark for decades.

TONY MCCANT, RESIDENT OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Everybody has their issues and their hiccups. It's all about how you address it. If you address them in the -- in the eyes of your people, they'll -- you'll continue to have city support, state support, whatever support you need, as long as the people feel that you're doing the right thing by them.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): An environmental non-profit is challenging the city government in court, arguing that residents serviced by another water treatment plant, particularly pregnant women and children under 6, should also have access to the city's bottled water supply. The City of Newark says they are expanding testing and are working with state and federal agencies to determine the full scope of the situation and determine the best course of action.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: A quick programming note for you, the final episode of the CNN original series "THE MOVIES: HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

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