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Democrat Explains Why He's Backing Warren After "Open Mind"; Johnson & Johnson Loses Historic Oklahoma Opioid Case; St. Louis Mayor Offers Award For Arrests In Four Child Killings; Eight-Year-Old Consoles Classmate With Autism On First Day Of School. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 27, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I just do the best can to stay centered and not be distracted. Because very day, we are kind of in an upheaval, every single day. It's just unbelievable.

And upheaval is not good for the country to be stronger over the long run.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Not good for the soul, not good for the soul.


BALDWIN: Governor John Kasich, we will talk -- I'm mentioned your book. We'll talk up until -- we'll talk about that as well.

Thank you very much. Good to see you.

KASICH: Thank you. Thanks, Brooke.

Five months roughly until the Iowa caucus, and 21 Democratic candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination. Some voters have decided they've seen and heard enough and are now zeroing in on his or her top candidate.

For Democratic strategist, Danny Barefoot, his months of flirting with multiple candidates is over. After placing several Democrats in the top spot, Barefoot has decided he's now all in for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Barefoot making his choice Twitter official. This is what he wrote: "After a bunch of thought, I've decided I'm putting my support, money, and time behind Elizabeth Warren. I told myself I would keep an open mind before making a choice this cycle. And I did."

With me to explain his choice, Danny Barefoot, a Democrat media strategist.

Danny, nice to meet you. Nice to have you on.

DANNY BAREFOOT, DEMOCRATIC MEDIA STRATEGIST. Nice to see you as well, Brooke. BALDWIN: All right. We read the Twitter thread. You said, at one point, you had Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand of Pete Buttigieg in your top spot. So what made you go in on Senator Warren?

BAREFOOT: Yes. Look, I'm from sort of the more moderate establishment lane of the party. And to be completely honest with you, Senator Warren wasn't in my even top three spots at the start of this campaign.

But I sort of went in with an open mind and watched the campaign unfold. She's the only candidate bringing her "A" game in my opinion. She's checking off ever box as far as I'm concerned. She's bringing the plans, the proposals.

She's also getting the politics right. She's going to areas like Kermit, West Virginia, making the case directly to Trump voters that we need big structural change.

It's sort of interesting, a lot of times, the folks that are in the more progressive wing of the party aren't serious about building the party. They're attacking it.

I was really heartened to see Senator Warren, she's building up the party. She's meeting with party leaders. She's getting energy. She's getting enthusiasm. And she's the person I have faith to take on Donald Trump next year.

BALDWIN: But, Danny, was -- I want to get to voting in just a second. But was there one, boom, "aha, she's it" moment or was it a collective?

BAREFOOT: You know, there wasn't. I sort of, like you mentioned, I flirted with all of the candidates and I sort of give myself a cooling-off period. All right, this is who I like this week. Over the past six or seven weeks, every week, Warren was winning the week for me.

For me, it's about hard work. I think a lot of the other candidates are running lazy campaigns.

BALDWIN: On your point about electability, she has plans and specifics and policies. People get excited about here. But can she beat Donald Trump?

Listening to the former vice president, he's been zigzagging the country, too. And Dr. Jill Biden making this case that maybe he's not your top guy or gal, but he is the only candidate who can beat this current president. Why is Joe Biden wrong?

BAREFOOT: I mean, that's a really, really frustrating argument to make. I've worked in politics for 10 years. My company, we do focus groups, we do polling, we talk to thousands of voters. And sort of untangling this question of electability, like I'm not sure we can get to the bottom of it.

George Bush was thought of as being a risky candidate and he went on to be a two-term candidate. John Kerry was sort of the safe bet in 2004 and he went on to lose.

I think that question is so fraught with our own biases and emotions. And really Vice President Biden shouldn't be out making that argument, particularly the way that argument has historically been weaponized against women. I really, really hope he doesn't go there.

BALDWIN: What I noticed, I took it a step back on your tweeter threat, before you said it's Warren, you posted that article about Joe Biden telling New Hampshire supporters that he's, and I'm quoting him, "not going nuts," after he mistook New Hampshire for Vermont last week. And you wrote, "That settles that."

What did you mean by that and how much did that affect your ultimate decision?

BAREFOOT: Obviously, it was tongue in cheek. I don't think in the middle of a campaign or right as the campaign is heating up, you ever want to be in a position of defending your own sanity to potential voters. It wasn't particularly pivotal.

Early on, I made the decision that whoever I was with it wasn't going to be Vice President Biden.

BALDWIN: Ten seconds. Who's on the ticket with Elizabeth Warren?

BAREFOOT: Pete Buttigieg.

BALDWIN: Pete Buttigieg. We'll wait and see.

Danny Barefoot, thank you very much.

BAREFOOT: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Bold. You're bold. I appreciate it.

BAREFOOT: Thank you.

If Johnson and Johnson is liable for Oklahoma's opioid epidemic, what about other states and other cases? Plus, the interesting back story of the judge who made this massive decision.

[14:34:49] It's been a summer of tragedy for the city of St. Louis. Five children under the age of 10 murdered. And the killers are still out there. Now the mayor is hoping cash will get people to talk.


BALDWIN: The opioid crisis is one of the worst health epidemics in history. And for the first time, a pharmaceutical company is being held responsible. Yesterday, an Oklahoma judge ruled that opioids ravaged the state and ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $573 million. The judge said the company intentionally misled the public about the dangers of its drugs, thus, breaching Oklahoma's public-nuisance law.

Johnson & Johnson is vowing to appeal and is pushing blame onto the doctors. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:40:06] SABRINA STRONG, ATTORNEY FOR JOHNSON & JOHNSON: The way in which the company manufactured these medications and market them to doctors was extremely responsible. There are warnings on these medications, FDA-approved warnings, and it is up to the doctor, with their patients, to make decisions about who is appropriate for these medications.


BALDWIN: Holly Karibo is an assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University and has written extensively about the opioid epidemic. And CNN's Wayne Drash, the only reporter in the country who spoke with this judge who made this history decision.

Thank you both so much for being on.

Wayne starting with you, how much did this judge really struggle with this decision?

WAYNE DRASH, CNN ENTERPRISE WRITER: He definitely took it very seriously. He knew the consequences and impact and consequence that he was going to be setting. I spent sort of the final 24 hours with him leading up to the decision and it was quite a fun time. I got to meet his family and see what it's like behind the scenes.

Even though he was doing this one huge very important decision that he continued his caseload. Just last week, he had to sit in on two divorce proceedings and had 85 people in your courtroom that he had to sentence.

So it was pretty wild but, yes, it was a lot of fun.

BALDWIN: His job must go on. I encourage everyone to read your piece on

And, Holly, I read your opinion. You wrote this ruling is a very good start. Why do you say that?

HOLLY KARIBO, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: I don't think we want to underplay what's happening. This is the first time we're seeing the pharmaceutical company be held accountable. Not only is it a guilty verdict, but it outlines how the state made their case. And there were damaging accusations that were then proven to be true.

I think for many people it's proven what we've -- in some ways, are intuitively already felt the company has played a role in this. I say it's a start because they are not the only factor here, but they do need to be held accountable. And this decision leads in that direction.

BALDWIN: You mentioned there's 1900 other cases.

Wayne, to you, the figure $572 million, how did he arrive at that number?

KARIBO: Just talking to legal observers here in Norman, I believe he wanted to make sure that his judgment was fair, that it would withstand any appeal. He didn't want to set too big of a net that would get struck down.

So just talking to those observers, they feel very competently that he choice a number would withstand all of the appeals.

Just talking to him going into it, obviously, he didn't tell me what bigger number he was going for. But he did say that he was very satisfied with his decision and that he was at piece with it.

And, Brooke, I mean, this is one state. You multiply $527 million by all 50 states, I mean, and if a similar verdict comes down, you're look $26 or $27 billion.

And if, in this one case, if, on appeal, the decision is upheld, the state of Oklahoma is making $100,000 a day in interest off the $572 million. So that's quite sizable.

BALDWIN: That's quite sizable, indeed. And you point out those case, Holly, we'll see how 1900 cases pending are at all affected by this major, major decision there in Oklahoma.

Holly and Wayne, thank you both so much for your opinions.

Any moment, just want to get to this, Actress Lori Loughlin appearing in court in that massive college admissions scandal. What will her behavior be like outside of the courthouse this time? Will she be signing autographs after taking heat for doing that last time?

[14:44:51] And a group of gun violence survivors and families are right now delivering a letter to the Senate majority leader's office in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell. Hear why when I speak with them live.


BALDWIN: Gun violence is taking the lives of the littlest ones in St. Louis, Missouri. In just the last four months, 12 children have died, including these boys and girl, a 2-year-old and an 8-year-old, and a boy who was one day away from starting the 2nd grade..

Most of them were murdered while police say two of the deaths have been classified as suspicious and sudden.

And now city leaders are taking a new tact on how to get leads. They're putting a deadline on $100,000 in reward money for tips involving the deaths of four children, all younger than 10.

[14:50:00] In the meantime, the community knows no tip, of course, can change the fact that the father of 8-year-old Jornie (ph) Thomas had to learn she was gunned down from her younger sister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FATHER OF 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO DIED FROM GUNFIRE: About time I got back home, I'm getting a phone call from my 7-year-old daughter saying that her 8-year-old sister has been shot.

I hope people learn from this. For me, the loss of my daughter, I loved her dearly. I just hope it wakes people up to stop killing each other.


BALDWIN: Judge Edwards is the public safety director for the city of St. Louis. He also served as the chief juvenile court judge from 2007 to 2012.

Judge Edwards, it's a pleasure, sir. Welcome.

JIMMIE EDWARDS, ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR & JUDGE: Thank you very much, Brooke. It's my pleasure to be here with you this afternoon.

BALDWIN: The mayor of St. Louis announced this reward money because she said, quote, "conventional policing tactics are not enough."

Tell me why you think this would be effective.

EDWARDS: Brooke, police officers are important with the investigation, in any investigation in criminal matters.

But the community is critically important. Without the community, police officers more often than not are not able to do an adequate job.

So I'm happy and grateful that philanthropists in the city of St. Louis have decided, too, that it is important that they help incentivize people to come forward with tips. I think that this $25,000 is a huge amount of money. And I think it will help.

Historically, we have rewards. Those rewards generally at about $5,000. So this is a $20,000 increase for each child that has been murdered in the city of St. Louis.

BALDWIN: Tell me, obviously, everyone's hoping this incentive helps. But the mayor is saying there will be no reward money after September 1. Why the deadline?

EDWARDS: I think that if you know something, you should say something. If you know who murdered these children, you know today. We're trying to encourage people to come forward right away.

We're in a time and space that we haven't been. They're great people here in the city of St. Louis, and we want to get these murderers off the streets as soon as possible.

BALDWIN: Have you gotten any solid tips?

EDWARDS: We have got a number of tips. The more we get, the better it will be for us to make a presentation to the prosecutor's office for consideration of some type of charge against these shooters.

BALDWIN: Obviously, everyone hoping justice is served. We are thinking of those families.

Judge Jimmie Edwards, thank you very much. We'll stay in contact with you. Appreciate it.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We have breaking news this afternoon in the case of pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. At least a dozen of his accusers have come forward in court today as the charges against him are set to be dropped.

Plus, the White House responds to Taylor Swift, who called them out at the VMA's last night over an equality bill.


[14:57:39] BALDWIN: This story is just awesome. A moment of kindness captured in a photo that speaks without words. The photo of two 8-year-old Kansas boys, both classmates, has captured the hearts of people all over.

It shows these two boys walking hand in hand on the first day of school. But the story behind this simple act of kindness may melt your heart.

Here is Morgan Mobley, from CNN affiliate, KAKE.


COURTNEY MOORE, MOTHER OF CHRISTIAN MOORE: I saw him on the ground with Connor as Connor was crying in the corner and he was consoling him. He grabbed his hand and walked him to the front door. And he waited until the bell rang and he walked him inside of the school. The rest is history. They have an inseparable bond.

MORGAN MOBLEY, REPORTER, KAKE: (voice-over): What Christian didn't know that day is that Connor is autistic. He was overwhelmed with everything going on around him.

APRIL CRITES, MOTHER OF CONNER CRITES: I fear that everyday someone is going to laugh at him because he doesn't speak correctly or laugh at him because he doesn't sit still or because he jumps up and down and flaps his hands.

MOBLEY: It was a moment in time, caught, now capturing the hearts of strangers all over. But to the boys, it was simple.


MOBLEY (on camera): Yes. He's nice.

CONNER CRITES: Yes. I was in the 1st day of school and I started crying then he helped me and I was happy. MOBLEY (voice-over): Christian didn't see Connor as different. A message their moms, and many others, are taking from this.

CRITES: It doesn't matter color, it doesn't matter gender, it doesn't matter disability, and it doesn't matter anything, just be kind, open your heart. It's what we need in this world.

MOBLEY: No words spoken, just a quick gesture turned this little boy's whole day around.

MOORE: One act of kindness, you know, can change someone's life and --

CRITES: Can change the world. That's all it takes.

MOBLEY: A life lesson learned from two 8-year-old boys.

CONNER CRITES: He found me and held my hand and I got happy tears.

MOBLEY: They say it's really as simple as this --




BALDWIN: We roll on. Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

Here's what I can tell you right now. Court hearings underway in the college admissions bribery scandal that has swept up several celebrities. Moments ago -- there she was -- "Full House Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband arrived at that Boston courthouse.