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Trump's Obsession with Obama Intensifies During Wild Q&A; CNN's Axelrod Tracks Down 2020 Candidates in Iowa; Justice Ginsburg Treated for Pancreatic Cancer; Health Care CEO Tells His Peers Enough is Enough on Guns; Trump Goes on a Twitter Tirade Targeting China for New Retaliatory Tariffs & the Federal Reserve Chairman. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 23, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] DAVID AXELROD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & CNN HOST, "THE AXE FILES": Well, because I think that he knows that Obama was a popular president. He left with nearly a 60 percent approval rating. And he continues to be popular. And that legacy bothers Trump. And I think also he wants to blame anything that goes wrong on him.

But, you know, look, I think the president is clearly off kilter this week, because polling -- he saw two sets of numbers that bother him.

One are the polling numbers that he cannot move. He was losing in a FOX News poll to four leading contenders, Democratic contenders by margins of six to 12 points. That's upsetting.

And then these economic numbers clearly bother him, because his whole thing is pegged to a strong economy and running on a strong economy. And so we see this other kind of aberrant behavior even today related to that concern.

So he's had a bad week.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: So cut to the Democrats. You talked to a number of these candidates while they were campaigning in Iowa for this week's "AXE FILES." What's your impression of them? And give me a tease on what we need to watch on your show.

AXELROD: Well, first of all, it's important to understand what I said earlier, the sequential process in Iowa is unique because it's a caucus. It's not a primary. You have to show up, spend a couple hours with your neighbors, declare your preference in public on a cold often snowy night in February. You have to be committed.


AXELROD: So there are a lot of things you look for in Iowa. You look for support but you also look for enthusiasm.

What I saw out there was Elizabeth Warren is generating quite a bit of enthusiasm in Iowa. She's clearly in a strong position there, has a very good organization.

Joe Biden is the frontrunner. But when you talk to voters, he's not the first name that comes to mind. There's great respect for him, there's affection for him, but there's not a great deal of enthusiasm.

And despite the mood over at Harris headquarters, over the CNN poll, I thought she was showing signs of life there, as was Pete Buttigieg, really interacting well with voters, which is essential in Iowa.

But we tried to capture a feel for the whole experience of the Iowa caucuses, something I know a lot about in this show. So it's different than what we normally have done. I did talk to half a dozen candidates while I was out there for this piece.

But hopefully, people will come away thinking, gee, I know a little more about what's going on in Iowa, and why I should be paying attention to it.

BALDWIN: We all should be. We can't wait to watch it.

"THE AXE FILES" airs right here on CNN tomorrow night at 7:00.

David Axelrod, thank you.

AXELROD: Brooke, great to see you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, the tiniest victims of this country's opioid epidemic, they were being kicked out of some day-care centers, and now they have a very special place just for them.


[14:37:24] BALDWIN: Breaking news now. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we are just now learning she has undergone new treatment for cancer. So we don't have a lot of information right now.

Let's go first to our Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue.

Ariane, what do you know?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: We've just gotten this statement from the court that said that she has completed radiation therapy for a tumor in her pancreas. It was detected in early July.

The court said, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three- week course of radiation therapy at Sloan-Kettering. The focused radiation treatment began August 5th and was administered on an out- patient basis."

She says that she is continuing right now to be active. The tumor was treated definitively. And there's no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body.

Brooke, of course, this comes after she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018.

That's all the information we have. And of course, it comes just a couple months before the new term is about to start.

BALDWIN: OK, so, Ariane, stand by.

Elizabeth Cohen is with me.

And just -- she's -- having watched "RGB," our film several times, it tells the story of how she beat cancer twice. And then, as Ariane just pointed out, had the issue with her lung more recently?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, colon cancer, lung cancer and now -- and we're hearing -- not for the first time about pancreatic cancer, but we're hearing this news about her treatment for pancreatic cancer.

This is obviously news that you don't want to hear. It sounds, as they said, that this has been treated. And they use the word "radiation treatment." They also use the term "no evidence of disease," also known sometime as NED.

That's a term, and it's difficult to say this, because when you hear no evidence of disease, you think, oh, it's gone. But, Brooke, the reality of this is that people can have NED, no evidence of disease. That just means, at that point in time, that you're looking, there's no evidence of disease.

Unfortunately, especially with something like pancreatic cancer, which can be so aggressive, you look six months later and you do find it.

So you want to think about this in a balanced way. You don't want to think something terrible.

But on the other hand, you do want to realize that NED, no evidence of disease, that's what's going on right now. It doesn't say what's going to go on in the future.

BALDWIN: All right.

[14:40:00] Ariane, back over to you, this is an 86-year-old woman. A lot of people have been watching for her, praying for her health, as onlookers are wondering, you know, how does this work. What might this mean for the court?

DE VOGUE: What's amazing about this is how active she has been and how forthcoming she has been with her cancers.

The Supreme Court is starting a new term on October 4th. It's a big term with lots of blockbuster issues. The last time around, the most recent bout of cancer, she did miss staying on the bench for the first time in her career. But she's been back. She's been back on the speaking tour.

I want to read you more from the statement we got from the court.


DE VOGUE: It says, "The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July. And a biopsy performed on July 21st, at Sloan-Kettering, confirmed a localized malignant tumor."

That's the information we got. Again, the Supreme Court just issued this statement.

And it comes as Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a full schedule this summer. She was going on speaking tours, as she often does. The court did say she's put off her annual vacation that she takes in Santa Fe.

But we'll have to see. It looks like we'll get information soon, but this is just in.


You want to add to that quickly?

COHEN: I think what Ariane just said is important. This is not a frail woman. This is someone who has been active, who has been out there. That matters. When you're battling cancer, what condition you're in matters.

BALDWIN: Yes. We've seen her in the video holding the plank poses.

COHEN: Right.

BALDWIN: She's a tough 86-year-old.

COHEN: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Elizabeth, thank you very much.

Ariane, as soon as you get more information, we'll pass it along. Appreciate that for now.

Now to this. A bizarre explanation today, OK?

Still ahead, if the government won't take action on guns, maybe someone else will. We'll talk to a health care CEO who wants to get the medical community involved in the fight.


[14:46:28] BALDWIN: Today, Senator Chris Murphy calls his chances of getting a deal with the White House on expanded background checks less than 50/50. But the Connecticut Democrat says he's not giving up. Murphy says he spoke with White House staff on the topic as recently as last night, and the president by phone recently, but admits it is still a longshot.

Michael Dowling is a healthcare CEO who is calling for action on gun control. He's the president and CEO of Northwell Health here in New York. He's written this opinion piece. It's entitled, "Enough is Enough, I'm Calling on Health Care CEO's to Take a Stand on Gun Control."

Nice to meet you and welcome.

MICHAEL DOWLING, PRESIDENT & CEO, NORTHWELL HEALTH: Thank you for having me here. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: We've had many a conversation on what Congress can and is not willing to do. You are using a voice as a powerful man in health care to speak up and out. Tell me why?

DOWLING: Well, it's a major public health crisis. And health care is one of those organizations, big influencers in all communities, protecting the communities.

We see the impact of violence and gun violence. We see it in the emergency rooms. We see the suffering. We see the pain. We see the distraught families. We see the blood.

You know, firearm injuries is the biggest cause of death among children, 1 to 17, 44,000 people. And 1600 people each year injured in trauma centers.

BALDWIN: So what can you do about it?

DOWLING: What I think we do is we raise our voices and try to get a coalition of health care leaders across the country to stand up and say this is a public health issue. This is about protecting the community. This is about leadership. This is about standing up and saying enough is enough.

BALDWIN: You use the example of Jon Stewart who did that --

DOWLING: He did extraordinary work.

BALDWIN: -- extraordinary work up on Capitol Hill. Standing there with his dear friends and first responders, trying to get Congress to approve the September 11th victim's compensation fund, which he was finally successful. Just a reminder of Jon Stewart.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & ACTIVIST: They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs. With courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!


BALDWIN: I mean, incredibly powerful.

But you had parents who've lost children, who are as compelling if not more. Why is that not bringing about change?

DOWLING: I think it's the toxicity of the political environment that we're in, the partisanship, the politics.

BALDWIN: That can't supersede that?

DOWLING: It's not about demonizing other people. It's about bringing people together.

You know, I find it interesting. We have created some of the best organizations in the world here. We have advanced technology. We have gone to the moon. Yet, we find we can't find common ground to figure out how to deal with the issue of gun safety to protect our community, protect kids, protect families.

This is a stain on our character. This is not what America is. This is not what America should be.

And this is where I think leadership is standing pat and basically saying, because of politics, we shouldn't politicize this. This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a human issue. You can have logical solutions for this problem.

And we, as health care organizations, as health care leaders, I think are the biggest players in most communities. And as well, we have to do things locally as well.


BALDWIN: Talk to me about those examples --


[14:50:01] DOWLING: Such as active shooting programs that we're running in many places. The Stop the Bleed programs, educating the public about what to do if there's a problem. Heightening security. Dealing with mental health issues in the community, so how do we observe that someone might be in danger. The red flag laws that we have in many states.

There's a portfolio of issues here that we can deal with.

BALDWIN: Did I also read you're calling on other CEO's, like Walmart, too?

DOWLING: Yes. Walmart and other organizations.

BALDWIN: What do you want them to do?

DOWLING: I want them to be on the same page, to be in the same lane as us, and basically say, this is -- we're leaders in the United States, we are leaders in our communities.

BALDWIN: Should they stop selling guns?

DOWLING: I think that they -- well, some of them already -- I believe they should, in fact. And some of them already changed the ages for when it is we sell guns to -- I think Walmart did this.

But I think that we are an outlier internationally in this arena. And I don't think this is what we're all about as a country, that we should be about as a country.

And if you look upon it as a public health issue, it may get people to call this as a public health issue more so than talking about it as a gun issue. But it's about public health. And health care leaders, we are the protectors of the public health.

If we're not leading on this issue, then I will say shame on us. We have not meeting our leadership obligations by not doing so.

BALDWIN: Michael Dowling, thank you very much for your input. I appreciate it.

DOWLING: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You can read his piece at

Thank you, sir.

DOWLING: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news now on three front this is afternoon. The Dow falling after China retaliates and the president warns American businesses.

Plus, as President Trump gets ready to leave for the G-7 summit in France, CNN is reporting that the president is complaining that he doesn't want to go.

And the health of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What we have just learned about her latest battle with cancer.


[14:57:24] BALDWIN: The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, was created to protect human health and the environment. But under the Trump administration, the EPA has cut back an unprecedented number of environmental regulations.

And our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has examined those rollbacks for a CNN special report that airs this evening. Take a look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Dr. Ruth Etzel. She wrote the book on pediatric environmental health. Until recently, she was the director of EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection.

(on camera): How would you describe your role at the EPA?

DR. RUTH ETZEL, FORMER DIRECTOR, EPA'S OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH PROTECTION & AUTHOR: We consider ourselves to be the conscience of the EPA. Because we would whisper in the ear of those who were trying to push regulations, take a look and make sure this regulation adequately protects the health of children.



ETZEL: There was a dramatic difference that occurred in January 2017.

For example, my job is to brief the administrator administration directly. And under the Obama administration, I would do that about once a month. During the two years of the current administration, I was not allowed any opportunity to brief either of the EPA administrators.

GUPTA: Who were you talking to then? Who was listening to you, the conscience of the EPA?

ETZEL: I would say nobody was really listening to the Office of Children's Health Protection.


BALDWIN: Dr. Gupta's special report, "A TOXIC TALE: TRUMP'S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT," airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: We continue on, on this Friday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

As the clock winds down to his latest G-7 summit, President Trump is going on a Twitter tirade. The target is not Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel or any of his G-7 counterparts.

Nope. It's China, which is ramping up the pressure on the White House by issuing this new round of retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, everything from cars to seafood to whiskey. Those tariffs go into effect September 1st and December 15th.

That prompted the president to tweet, "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including pulling out of the country."

Those tweets, plus China's new tariffs, equal a pretty brutal day, as you can see on Wall Street. The Dow tumbling to triple digits.

[14:59:57] But Trump didn't stop with China or its president, Xi Jinping, who he compared to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the man Trump nominated to lead the agency two years ago. But today, President Trump asked whether Jerome Powell or President Xi was the biggest enemy of the U.S.