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Situation in Bahamas Detailed; Some Evacuees Taken to Florida; Latest on House Democrats Impeachment Inquiry Efforts; Jennifer Dulos' Estranged Husband and Girlfriend Arrested Again; Republicans Move to Nix Primaries In Show of Support for Trump; Interview with GOP Presidential Candidate Joe Walsh; White House Hopefuls Pitch New Hampshire Democrats; New Poll: Biden Leads Trump in Head-to-Head Matchup; Thousands Try To Flee Hurricane-Devastated Bahama Islands; House Panel To Vote On Next Steps In Trump Impeachment Probe; Jennifer Dulos' Estranged Husband And His Girlfriend Arrested Again. Aired 12- 1p ET

Aired September 7, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right, right now the situation in the Bahamas is getting desperate as survivors try to flee the island and people try to get aid to those who are still there. This morning a cruise ship carried more than 1,400 evacuees from the Bahamas to West Palm Beach where families are now reuniting.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

PAT ALLARD, EVACUATED TO FLORIDA: I don't think there's words for that. The sound of the wind and the rain continually hitting the windows and everything in total darkness. So this is how you walked, holding on to walls. You know and you can't describe it.

(END VIDEO)

WHITFIELD: Thousands of others are still waiting to leave. The U.N. says at least 70,000 people are homeless on the Grand Bahama and Abaco islands, where Dorian caused the most destruction and we're starting to hear horror stories from those who are waiting for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a pastor. I don't steal but we have to go out there and find food for the kids to eat, drinking water. So they were looting so we had to go find water and Pampers and food to eat for our family. It was - it's bad. It's bad.

(END VIDEO)

WHITFIELD: The Bahamian Prime Minister described the death toll as catastrophic and is warning the confirmed number of 43 deaths will increase significantly. Our teams are fanned out across the Bahamas and here in the U.S. mainland with a closer look at Dorian's aftermath. So right now, nearly 1,500 people have arrived safely in Florida after being evacuated by ship from the Bahamas. CNN's Rosa Flores is live for us at the port of Palm Beach. Rosa, describe the emotions that people are sharing.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, it's really indescribable, the stories that we're hearing from the people who are disembarking from the ship and really seeing civilization for the first time since that hurricane hit the Bahamas. We met one woman. Her name is Ceva Seymour and she describes how she and her husband started to see the roof of their home start to lift as the wind started rising and she said that they used tools from around the house, nails, ropes, hammers, to cinch the roof down. That's how they were able to keep the roof of their home from flying off. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

CEVA SEYMOUR, EVACUATED TO FLORIDA: It was very intense. You couldn't sleep. I prayed a lot and asked God to calm the storm. Because you know you can imagine being in the house, you can see the outside of your roof is just lifting and lifting. It was really, really dramatic and I don't want to go through that ever again. S

(END VIDEO)

FLORES: Now, Ceva Seymour is heading to family in Port St. Lucie here in Florida. And Fred, from talking to officials they tell me that less than 200 people are onboard the ship right now. Most of them have disembarked and most of them are going with friends and family or staying at hotels. No one has asked to seek shelter. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rosa Flores. Of course our hearts are going out to all of those people there who are really trying to get through such a traumatizing situation. Thank you.

So as the situation continues to deteriorate in the Bahamas, the need for food and supplies is becoming dire. Scott Plakon is a state representative in Florida and is organizing relief services and supply drops to the people in the Bahamas. Thanks so much for being with me.

SCOTT PLAKON, (R) FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you for having me on.

WHITFIELD: So tell me how those aid efforts are going.

PLAKON: It is really going well. You know the people of Florida have always had a special relationship with the people of the Bahamas. So many people have vacationed over there and vice versa with Disney World being in central Florida so when this happened, we in Florida dodged a bullet for the most part, but that bullet went straight to the Bahamas. And so the outpouring of goodwill and help and volunteers and goods and food is overwhelming. And we have a hangar full of stuff right now. We've got I think about eight planes going out today. And it's really gratifying to see.

WHITFIELD: What are the items? What are the items that are on those eight planes that are going out? PLAKON: We have tarps. We have air beds, various nonperishable food,

some generators. We've gotten a list from the Bahamian government of the most urgent needs.

WHITFIELD: Yes, I heard an interview yesterday with a Bahamian who said they need everything from diapers, food, you know, soap, just everything. So how are you trying to meet the need? What's your understanding about what you - what people need, what you can actually get to them besides those items that you mentioned are already on those eight planes?

PLAKON: Well, yes, we're having to balance out the planes with heavy things like water and lighter things like diapers. But we're taking the lead really from some of our people on the ground. Our group has developed a pretty extensive network on the ground in the Bahamas. A lot of people in our group have vacationed there; some of them have homes there. So we have a lot of contacts down there. A big issue is with the relief efforts is to make sure it gets to the people we want to help. Through some of our contacts, we've got some former U.K. special forces that are accompanying our shipments as we move them from the airplanes to the people that need them. So we have a very secure supply chain.

WHITFIELD: That's one of the biggest challenges, right? Because it's one thing to have a runway to land these bigger jets, cargo planes, et cetera, but then you actually have to distribute the cargo to these smaller islands. Has that been a challenge for you, coordinating?

PLAKON: Well it started out a few days ago in Marsh Harbor there were looters were grabbing into some of the groups were putting things in. Then a couple days ago, we got some planes into Nassau and we had them boated over but then there was rumors about planes being shot at. So just yesterday we worked out a place in Eleuthera and then boats to take it over to the - to the Abaco Island.

WHITFIELD: I'm sorry, I just got to interrupt you. What do you mean planes shot at?

PLAKON: We heard rumors of people shooting at planes. So the people that are volunteering their planes don't want their planes shot at so we...

WHITFIELD: Rumors.

PLAKON: ... redirected and yesterday we worked out to get to an airstrip in northern Eleuthera and then we have boats taking over things to the main Abaco Island.

WHITFIELD: OK.

PLAKON: I do want to mention something on the air. I want to thank all of our volunteers. We have a hotline is 407-497-1138 if any ways that you can help, and I do want to mention that I literally found out on the way over here that Allegiant Airline is donating the use of an Airbus 319 where we'll be able to bring over tens of thousands of pounds and that's going to go out sometime we believe early next week. But meanwhile we've got small planes throughout the day are bringing the goods over there so any planes that can be donated, fuel, we have a GoFundMe account for fuel as well. You can get the access to that phone number.

WHITFIELD: Well clearly what you're doing is honorable, admirable and greatly appreciated and on that issue you mentioned that there were rumors of gunshots or shots being fired at planes. Our Patrick Oppmann was listening to that interview. He's confirming that those rumors are not true; have not been substantiated. We're going to check with him again on that reporting but I think the people there in the Bahamas are really grateful for any kind of aid that makes its way in and hopefully those rumors will end about any planes being shot at until anything like that can be substantiated but thank you so much for joining us. Scott Plakon, thank you so much.

PLAKON: Thank you for having me on.

WHITFIELD: All right, CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport which is the main city on the Grand Bahama. So you heard that, you know Patrick, tell me about what rumors have been circulating to that scale about any shots being fired at planes and how that's been able to be dispelled so that the aid can continue to come in for the people desperately in need.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll dispel it right now. Yes, I've spent a lot of time in the Bahamas. Guns are incredibly rare here. There are restrictions on guns and frequently on the out islands you never see them. If you come here on a sailboat and your gun isn't properly registered with the Bahamian government, you can get in a lot of trouble.

I've come to the Bahamas my whole life. I've never seen a gun here. Perhaps in some of the urban areas, Nassau, where it was not hit by the storm, you might have drug-related crimes that kind of stuff. Out in the islands we're talking about, there are not guns. People are not shooting at planes; that's nonsense. People want the aid there, literally dying without the aid. In every disaster situation there are rumors - we've heard rumors of looting. I haven't seen any. You hear rumors - information -- reliable information is rarer than a cooler of ice right now, but no one is shooting at planes, Fredricka. That's just nonsense and it's unfortunate to hear that being repeated.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

OPPMANN: Because people need aid here. They need people to volunteer aid here and people are incredibly appreciative of the help that the United States is providing. I've seen people cheer when they see a Coast Guard plane go overhead. Most of the planes - most of the aircraft we see are U.S. aircraft because we're only 50 miles from the United States. Bahamian people have a long friendship with America and they are so thankful, even for the prime minister, but the people on the ground that I met all day yesterday were getting buzzed by Coast Guard planes and that is the one sign of hope we have right now.

People are happy to see them. Anything else is just not true. WHITFIELD: Yes, and I'm sure the Bahamian people are really happy

that you're now bringing down that rumor and certainly nobody there wants rumors or anything else to deter, to stand in the way of the kind of desperately-needed help that people need and thankfully out of the generosity of so many that aid does continue. So I know they want that to keep going, but Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much for clarifying that as well. I appreciate it.

All right, at Marsh Harbor, the port on that devastated island of Abaco, our CNN team just arrived and says that part of it now resembles a ghost town. Hundreds of people lined up to take a ferry back to Nassau and they're recounting horrific stories of survival. CNN's Paula Newton is there talking to many of the people waiting to leave.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yet another day here on Marsh Harbor, people have come with anything they can carry - quite frankly, anything that survived the storm and have come here to the port in Marsh Harbor. We have seen certainly a ferry, other boats and helicopters and the main thing as well is that we have seen the Bahamian military here try and obviously keep some calm and really try an assure people that they will get out in time. We have heard from many saying that they just don't want to stay here anymore. They do not believe it is safe and that there is nothing for them in terms of food, water, medicine and also just the basics in terms of infrastructure. They no longer want to be here. The problem is they're also wondering about what happens next. Many have nowhere to go and are wondering how they can possibly rebuild their lives after this horrific storm. Paula Newton, CNN, Marsh Harbor in the Abaco Islands.

WHITFIELD: A really long road ahead. Thank you so much Paula.

For more information about how you can help the victims of Hurricane Dorian, please go to cnn.com/impact. All right, straight ahead, democrats zero in on President Trump now set to begin steps for a formal impeachment probe next week?

Plus, new twists in the investigation of a missing Connecticut mom. Her estranged husband arrested. Why he now claims he had no part in her disappearance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:00]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back, democrats getting ready to take the next steps in the impeachment process. CNN has learned that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take a vote in just a matter of days which could open the way to impeaching President Donald J. Trump. The vote is expected to take place as soon as Wednesday and will lay out the ground rules for conducting impeachment hearings. This development comes as democrats broaden their impeachment probe beyond President Trump's potential obstruction of justice. CNN's Joe Johns is at the White House for us. So Joe, what more do we know about these developments and even the response from the White House? JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right well, the obstruction issues, as

you know, sort of stem out of the Mueller investigation which has already been completed. But there's a bunch of other stuff hanging out there. There's the question of whether the president has been enriched while in office, in violation of the emoluments clause. There's also the issue of whether there has been an abuse in the dangling of pardons to certain individuals. So the committee is just taking this first step and that first step of course is to lay down the procedures, the guidelines, the rules if you will for conducting an impeachment inquiry and that is things like handling of hearings, handling of documents, handling of evidence and handling of some of the information that comes in through grand juries which is supposed to be secret but can be provided to Congress under certain circumstances.

There are a lot of members of the House of Representatives at large, particularly the democrats, who support the idea of at least an inquiry. By CNN's account, out of 235 Democrats that are in the House, about 134 support the idea, including Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland, asked this morning about it in a town hall. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY BROWN, (D-MD): I'm not on the Judiciary Committee or the Government Oversight Committee where a lot of that action is playing out, but I certainly have been supportive of every effort in the Judiciary Committee in a very full force, full throated, full throttle way, investigate these allegations so they can make a determination, report back to the House and we can act according to their report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So what is the White House's reaction? Nothing new today, but we do know that, again and again, not just the president but some of his lawyers have suggested there is no legislative purpose to what the House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee is doing. The president has called it a witch hunt many, many times.

Of course, putting in a resolution like this sort of gives meat to the idea that there is a legislative purpose and impeachment inquiry. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Joe Johns at the White House, thanks so much.

All right, with me now to discuss are Laura Barron-Lopez, a national political reporter for Politico and a CNN Political Analyst, and Jeff Mason, a White House correspondent for Reuters. Good to see you both.

All right, so, Laura, you first, you know, this new move by Democrats to ramp up these impeachment probes, do they believe they have a stronger case to show the president violated the emoluments clause, particularly with the vice president's recent trip, staying at the Trump Ireland golf resort and also recently the president promoting the G7 Summit at his Florida golf course?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So this is a big move by the House Democrats, particularly House Judiciary, to expand their impeachment investigations and to take a more official step and define exactly what they're looking into.

And so, as you mentioned, Fred, a big piece of that, this next phase, is including investigations into Trump's suggestion that [12:20:00] the G7 stay at the Doral resort, as well as Pence's recent stay in Doonbeg when he was visiting on the state visit there in Ireland. And so they really want to be able to get a hold of documents there and the hope by a number of House Democrats is that by making this more official, by taking a vote on this as early as potentially next Wednesday, that then they have more enforcement ability when they're trying to compel people to come forward and testify.

WHITFIELD: So, Jeff, does it appear this inquiry of these potential emoluments violations is a stronger case to make for impeachment than the House Judiciary Committee's initial approach in response to the Mueller report, which was really mostly about obstruction?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Well, it's hard to say at this point if it would be a stronger case. But it's more data. It's more reasons for the Democrats or the Democrats feel anyway that there are more reasons now to look and that's why they're doing it. And I think one of the questions is what you're asking is, is this a strong one?

The other question is will this bring more Democrats on board to a potentially broad and controversial proceeding. Keep in mind, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has certainly not given full-throated support to opening impeachment proceedings.

But this is another data point and it's something that they're looking at because more information like this keeps coming out. I mean, the president's announcement at the G7 in France just a couple weeks ago that I was at as well, where he talked about next year when the United States is hosting it, having it at his property.

So new bits and pieces are coming out and that's what the Democrats are focusing on.

WHITFIELD: So, Laura, you know, here we are just months before the first scheduled caucuses, primaries, 14 months before the election itself and talk of this inquiring into an inquiry for impeachment. Can such a proceeding actually be finished in time for either the primary's season or even general election?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Well, that's the big question that a lot of Democrats who are facing difficult re-election campaigns in the House in particular, where they flipped red districts. That's the question that they have and they're concerned about that. They're worried that this will take most of the air, the oxygen, out of everything else that they're trying to work on and that it will dominate the news cycle and that their priorities will go unnoticed, which then could lead to them losing their re-election.

I don't see it really taking up much air in the presidential campaign, at least not yet. That could change as the House moves more aggressively in this direction.

WHITFIELD: And so, Jeff, you mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She hasn't necessarily weighed in on this latest move come Wednesday, but potentially could there be backlash that the Democrats suffer by bringing up once again impeachment and if it only is talk about impeachment? And not really following through, how potentially damaging is that for Democrats?

MASON: Well, absolutely -- sure. Absolutely, there could be backlash and that's one of the reasons it's been so controversial within the party. There are some who have been gung-ho to do it and there have been some who would just like to have this basically decided by the electorate in the 2020 election. And Nancy Pelosi, so far, has seemed to be on that second course, although she has said she is open to seeing where the investigations lead.

But, yes, I mean, we also know that there could be backlash based on how the president has reacted to this. He has used the fact that Democrats are pursuing impeachment as a way to gin up his base. And, look, both sides, everybody knows this in politics, will need to get their respective voters and bases out in 2020. And this could be as mobilizing to Republicans as it is to Democrats.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeff Mason, Laura Barron-Lopez, we'll leave it there for now. Thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.

MASON: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And later on this hour, I'll talk to former Illinois congressman and Republican presidential challenger Joe Walsh. He has some very strong words for his own party as well as for the president.

Coming up, a Connecticut mother of five missing for weeks. Now, her estranged husband facing charges linked to her case, well, is coming forward. Why he believes that she is actually still alive, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:00]

WHITFIELD: Another twist in the case of a missing mother of five in Connecticut. Police there re-arresting some of the key players in the investigation. Jennifer Dulos went missing back in May. Her estranged husband and his girlfriend have been charged with evidence tampering in an interview before his arrest, Fotis Dulos says he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance and believes she's is alive despite apparent blood evidence police found in a vehicle police say he was driving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS MURPHY, MSNBC HOST: Fotis, did you have anything to do with Jennifer's disappearance?

FOTIS DULOS, HUSBAND OF MISSING CONNECTICUT MOTHER: I did not but I'd like to leave it at that.

MURPHY: All right. But you can say that much?

DULOS: Absolutely.

MURPHY: Do you believe Jennifer is alive?

DULOS: I do.

MURPHY: Against all circumstantial evidence or common understanding?

DULOS: I'd like not to discuss this --

MURPHY: But in your mind --

DULOS: Per my attorney's advice. So I couldn't --

MURPHY: I understand. But in your mind, she's alive?

DULOS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Brynn Gingras has been following this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The appearance of normalcy for Fotis Dulos, where he's been spotted exercising and grocery shopping in this Connecticut community, but behind that normalcy, many questions. Dulos has posted bail twice on charges related to the disappearance of his estranged wife, Jennifer, who vanished on May 24th. Those charges, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.

Dulos' girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, has already pleaded not guilty to charges in the case.

[12:30:00]

Thursday, state police adding more charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. She is free on bond, her lawyer did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's no question that she is the lynchpin in terms of putting him away and getting the murder charges established.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Dulos' latest arrest warrant detailed surveillance video from the morning of Jennifer's disappearance which police say shows him driving his employee's personal vehicle on a 60- mile drive to New Canaan, Connecticut where Jennifer lived with their five school-aged children. Police believed Dulos was lying in wait near Jennifer's home until she returned from dropping their children off at school. The affidavit goes on to state, "the crime and clean- up are believed to have occurred between 8:05 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. when Jennifer's SUV is seen leaving her home. Dulos is believed to be operating the victim's vehicle which is carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos."

Detectives say forensic testing later showing Jennifer's blood was in that vehicle.

JACKSON: I've seen people convicted with less, much less, arrested with less. So the fact is, I get police want to be meticulous, they want a dot I's and cross T's.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Dulos and his girlfriend were also allegedly spotted on surveillance video the night of Jennifer's disappearance, putting bags in trash cans on a busy city street several homes away. Police later found those bags contained clothing and a sponge with Jennifer's blood. The couple were involved in a contentious battle after Jennifer files back in 2017. Her parents say in court documents that they funded Fotis' business as well as the couple's home and he still owes them money.

In the days after Jennifer's disappearance, Dulos' employee tells police his boss was acting strangely, going so far as to take the truck barrow to get professionally cleaned, and insisting employee replace the front seats. Authorities later finding evidence of Jennifer's blood on the seats.

Fotis Dulos maintains his innocence as he did after the previous charges saying after his arrest Wednesday --

FOTIS DULOS, JENNIFER DULOS' ESTRANGED HUSBAND: It's an exhausting fight. I love my children. That's about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: That was Brynn Gingras reporting.

All right, for the second time in just over two months, major league baseball is mourning the loss of one of its own. Former St. Louis Cardinals player Chris Duncan has passed away from brain cancer at the age of 38. Duncan played a key role in the Cardinal's World Series Championship in 2006. The team's chairman and CEO released the statement saying, "The Cardinals are deeply saddened by the passing of Chris Duncan and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Amy, the entire Duncan family, and his many friends."

In July the baseball world also mourned the loss of Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher for the Angels who passed away from an accidental overdose.

In Santa Barbara, California, there was a vigil last night for the victims of last week's dive boat fire. Thirty-four people died when flames ripped through the Concepcion boat off the coast of Santa Cruz Island.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These 34 lights and scuba cylinders before you here represent our brother and sister divers who did not make it home that night. They were also our friends and our family members.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Police say the people who died in the Labor Day fire likely died from smoke inhalation. The victims were in the boat's lower sleeping deck and likely got trapped as the flames spread above. Five crew members including the captain survived after jumping off the boat.

Still to come, new hurdles for some of President Trump's Republican challengers. Why some states are preparing to stop their primaries this election cycle. We'll talk to one of the president's Republican challengers about that. Former congressman Joe Walsh joining me right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:16] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Republican officials in several states are about to make a major change affecting the 2020 race as a way to show support for President Donald J. Trump. Party leaders in South Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada are poised to cancel their presidential primaries and are expected to make it official in the coming weeks. Politico is reporting that Kansas Republicans are also considering nixing their primary.

Critics are calling the move undemocratic and the president's challengers are crying foul. One of those challengers joining me right now on the phone, former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh who says the GOP is afraid of primary challenges.

So, what do you mean by that? What exactly are they afraid of in your view?

JOE WALSH (R-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Hey, Fredricka, good to be with you. Actually, moments ago the South Carolina Republican Party did in fact vote to just cancel their primary election. I mean, this is unprecedented. It's never been done where there's been some -- there's at least been primary opposition. I can think of nothing, Fredricka, more undemocratic than what this is.

What are they afraid of? Well, clearly if you're President Trump and things are great and you feel fine and you're strong, you wouldn't do this. They must be afraid of the fact that maybe he's not doing well. And again, though, this is not -- we're not North Korea, we're not Russia. You don't just cancel elections in America.

WHITFIELD: It hasn't been done, you know, when there are challenges, but it has been done for unchallenged incumbents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan.

[12:40:04] Do you feel it's as obvious as that that this White House or Republicans are afraid that with a -- with other Republican challengers such as yourself, such as former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, that this will be, I guess less of a sure-fire clenching for the president to maintain -- to be the nominee for the Republican Party?

WALSH (via telephone): Fredricka, I think you nailed it. You're right, it is unprecedented, you've -- we've never had a case where with credible primary challenge, elections, primary elections were just canceled. You have a former Republican governor Bill Weld, you have a former Republicans congressman Joe Walsh who challenged this president.

This is Trump. Look, the South Carolina party and Kansas and Nevada and Arizona may do the same thing. Think about it, they are literally denying their residents the right to vote to protect this incumbent president. He is afraid. He's imploding every day I think people around him in the RNC, the Republican National Committee, I think they're scared to death of where he's going. And if there's anybody on the ballot against him, Republicans more and more may vote against him.

I think that's what they're afraid of.

WHITFIELD: So what does this say to you about the Republican Party? I mean, you mentioned the RNC clearly is behind this. You're talking about Republicans in these four states yet you are still a challenger, you know, with the Republican ticket. Does it make you even, you know, less enchanted with the party, more than disappointed? I mean, what does this tell you about the party itself and this momentum to support the president?

WALSH (via telephone): That the party, Fredricka, is bought and paid for by this president. This president is like a mob boss and it's beyond disappointing. The Republican National Committee, the Republican Party that pretty much controls a lot of these state parties, they're doing all of Trump's bidding. They worship him. They're like a cult as well as so many of his voters.

But imagine -- I get tired of saying this, but imagine if Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had done this against credible primary opposition, Republicans would be screaming in outrage. Now their own party is doing it again to protect a president, Fredricka, I've got to emphasize this, who they believe is weak and vulnerable and is imploding every day. Otherwise, you don't do this, you don't care about this.

WHITFIELD: So how does this change the direction of your campaigning? I mean, how will you try to win the support or get the attention of Republican voters if in at least four primary states they won't get a chance to express, you know, whether they even want to consider you as a nominee?

WALSH (via telephone): It's a good question. And I can just tell you that we are going to and other groups are going to fight legally and all other options are going to fight South Carolina and any other state that considers doing this. So we're going to fight this, we've heard from thousands of Republican voters in these four states and we heard from many more South Carolina Republican voters just this morning who are outraged by this. We intend to get on the ballot in every state so we're going to fight this. This should -- again, this should not happen in America. But it's part and parcel with what Trump is doing. You remember back in 2016, Trump complained about how the Democrats were rigging the system to get Hillary elected. Well, look what he's doing now. You talk about rigging a system. You must be a very weak incumbent to have to do something like this.

WHITFIELD: I got to ask you something else very fascinating too. The Washington Post, they're reporting that you George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, advisor in the White House have had discussions about Conway joining your campaign, George Conway, right? So, are you still in discussions and what would that mean?

WALSH (via telephone): Absolutely. Look, I think the world of George Conway and history will look back on him as one of the true great patriots, Fredricka, because he came out earlier than almost anybody else in very blunt lively calling out what a threat this president is to this country. I'm honored to have his advice, I speak with him often. He's a wonderful adviser. As far as any formal role with our campaign, I would only be so lucky as to have somebody like George Conway involved.

WHITFIELD: So not for you to be like, you know, marriage counselor here but, you know, it is a little confusing, this dynamic, this George Conway would be talking to you about being a challenger to the president of the United States when his wife is, you know, a close adviser to the president.

[12:45:11] Can you help express what kind of conversations you've had to George, you know, Conway about what seems to be a real conflict here of their personal points of view of the sitting president.

WALSH (via telephone): Well -- and again, Fredricka, you're right, I'm not a marriage counselor. All I can say is this, I know George Conway and I speak to George Conway often, and he is genuinely and -- I mean, frightened for where this country is going under Trump. And that's all we focus on and again, I'm indebted to have his help and his advice. He truly is a great American.

WHITFIELD: All right, former congressman Joe Walsh and now presidential candidate, thank you so much.

WALSH (via telephone): Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next, Democrats vying for president out in force today in New Hampshire. Who is standing out from the crowded field? We'll take you to New Hampshire live, next.

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[12:50:13] WHITFIELD: New Hampshire ground zero today for Democrats running for president as 19 of 20 candidates looking to gain support with speeches today at the state's Democratic Party convention. A new poll from Marquette University's law school is gaining attention. It shows former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump by nine points in a head-to-head matchup in Wisconsin. CNN Political Reporter Arlette Saenz is in New Hampshire with the very latest. Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Fred, we're here at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's state convention. A big weekend for these 2020 contenders. There are 19 of the 2020 Democrats running for president here bringing their pitch directly to granite state voters in this first in the nation primary states. You've seen many of the campaigns coming out with strong organizing forces here at this event but also kind of tailor their message and take their pitch to voters.

For many of the candidates who are here at this convention, they're not going to be making it on the debate stage. So this gives them a chance to try to sell their message, sell their brand of politics to New Hampshire voters who are many of them just starting to tune in after the Labor Day holiday. They're just starting to take a closer look at these candidates as they take a more -- move into a more serious phase of the campaign.

So far this morning we've heard from Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris. In a short while, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will be speaking here. Both of those senators from neighboring states, and you've recently in polls seen Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren really leading the Democratic primary field. So, all of the voters here at this convention are hearing this pitch from the candidates as they get closer to making their decisions about who they'll nominate come 2020.

Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Quite the raucous, exciting crowd back there. Arlette Saenz, thank you so. Appreciate it.

All right, coming up at 2:30 p.m. today, we'll speak with one of these candidates at that New Hampshire convention, Congressman Tim Ryan joining us live right here on CNN.

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[12:56:05] WHITFIELD: An American airlines mechanic who is accused of trying to sabotage a plane says he did it to get overtime pay. Investigators say he tried to disable the system that reports the speed and other critical data. He reportedly was over a contract dispute between union workers and the airlines and tampered with the plane using super glue so that he could work more hours reportedly.

Thankfully, pilots in Miami noticed the problem right before take-off. This happened in July. The man claims he did not want to hurt anyone.

We got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.

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