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At Least 70K People Homeless On Abaco And Grand Bahama; Death Toll Rising In The Bahamas As Survivors Try To Get Out; House Panel Investigating Military Spending At Trump Turnberry; Prosecutors Want Felicity Huffman To Serve A Month In Prison; Estranged Husband Of Jennifer Dulos Arrested; U.S. Coast Guard In Bahamas Conducting Search, Rescue; Is O'Rourke Use Of "F-Word" Genuine Or Contrived?; At Least 450 Illness Cases, Five Deaths Potentially Linked To Vaping. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 7, 2019 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bahamas is the first time I ever see something like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We lost a lot of lives. Somebody are still recovering bodies right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House is down. My dog dead. Some clothes I lost. Mostly, everything I lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government got to send ships, big ships, and get the people out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration is about to ramp up in a major way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House Judiciary Committee is expected to take on Wednesday its first formal step to essentially make it clear the procedures for moving forward with the impeachment probe. They're drafting a resolution detailing exactly how that investigation will look like.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to wish you a good morning. Take a nice, deep breath. You have made it to Saturday. And I know it's been a long week. I'm Christi Paul.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alex Marquardt in for Victor Blackwell this morning, thanks again for having me.

PAUL: Welcome. So good to have you here. So good to have you here.

MARQUARDT: It's great to be with you.

PAUL: So, our top stories this morning -- obviously, about the Bahamas where there's -- I mean, look at these pictures. It's total devastation. The United Nations says more than 70,000 people are homeless now. And the people that survived says it was like an atomic bomb went off. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are still missing this morning. We're live throughout the day from the worst- hit areas there in the Bahamas.

MARQUARDT: And then, there's another major story brewing. A possible impeachment action; there are new details about a major vote this coming up next week, on Wednesday, in fact, which could pave the way to impeaching President Trump.

PAUL: And conflict of interest? A investigation looking into whether President Trump's golf resort in Scotland has been directly benefiting from military spending.

First, though, out to Victor Blackwell. He's joining us now from Nassau, Bahamas. And Victor, I know that you've been to so many of these scenes, the aftermath of a hurricane, but help us understand why this one might seem a little different to you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the topography first. Abaco, Grand Bahama decimated. The islands -- 700 islands here -- not all inhabited in the Bahamas, but getting the people from those places, here to Nassau, to some comfort, to some safety is a challenge. In the background, you can hear the first chopper flights of the day that will be going Abaco to continue to evacuate people.

When we were there, we flew to Abaco and went to several locations. There were hundreds of people, crowded at airports. A treasure key for the north, Mark Harper in Central Abaco awaiting to get on to charter flights, to get on to humanitarian flights. The U.S. Coast Guard has evacuated 239 people this week. They will resume their evacuation flights today. We spoke with families who had sat on those tarmacs all day. The feels-like temperature was 98 degrees on Friday.

One family I spoke with, the (INAUDIBLE) family, they were just about to board a chopper, a family of four rode out the storm together. But there was not enough room on one chopper for everyone. So, we brought 14-year-old Malik Marrow (ph), and also now 22-year-old, today's his birthday, Kenley Victor, onto our chopper.

And as we took off, this was their first opportunity to get an appreciation for the scale of what Dorian damaged. They had no access to television. There's no power. Cell phone service is spotty at best. So, when they got to see Abaco, Kenley just looked out the window and shook his head. He could not believe it. And then we heard part of Malik's story once we landed in Nassau. Here's some of it.


MALIK MARROW (ph), RESIDENT OF ABACO: The apartments was, the roofs all gone. All of us had to sleep in one room. It was a pile of us, and we couldn't find no food to eat. Hosed is down. My dog dead. Some clothes I lost, mostly everything I lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: We learned from the U.N., 70,000 people from Grand Bahama,

Abaco, the islands most affect by Dorian are homeless. More food break programs. 60,000 will need food support, and there of course will be the dead. Those who did not survive the storm. We don't know that number. The health minister says that it will be staggering. A late statement from the prime minister says that that number will be catastrophic. There will be a loss of life here like this island has never experienced.

So, there will be the scars as we talk about in natural and man-made disasters that we do not see. And we know that so many people, especially the children like 14-year-old, Malik Marrow (ph), will need support here. The question is: will the global community come to support the Bahamas, and will these communities rebuild, will they go back to Marsh Harbour? Those questions cannot yet be answered, but the beginning of the recovery, the beginning of the rescues, those are certainly underway.

[07:05:27] PAUL: All right.

MARQUARDT: All right. The day just starting there in the Bahamas. Victor Blackwell, those figures, those pictures, absolutely staggering to borrow your word. Thanks very much for being there.

Now, back in the United States, there are several cities that are cleaning up after Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. There are five deaths in the United States are being blamed on the storm so far.

PAUL: You look at here at an aerial view of North Carolina's Ocracoke Island. It's just disastrous flooding that left -- that's left behind there by Hurricane Dorian. That is still a Category 1 by the way. Residents say, they had to wait in waist-deep water into their homes. A lot of people had to be rescued from their upper floors or attics by boats. And the floodwaters, we now understand, are slowly starting to recede.

MARQUARDT: And I know that many of are looking at these pictures and asking yourselves how can are you help? And this is one easy way. If you want to help those relief efforts in the Bahamas and here in the U.S., you can go to our Web site,, and get all the information you need right there.

PAUL: The CNN has learned that the House Judiciary Committee is ready to vote next week as to how to begin an impeachment investigation into President Trump.

MARQUARDT: And this is a big move, and it would lay out the ground rules for conducting impeachment hearings which are different from typical congressional hearings. Our Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns joins us now from the White House. Joe, this is a very big deal.

Congress as you know, is back next week after the summer recess. They were away from D.C. for six weeks. That vote in the Judiciary Committee is expected to come on Wednesday. So, it looks like right out of the gate, Democrats, maybe not all of them, but many of them, do have their sights set on impeaching the president.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, or so it seems. And I got to say, if you look at the numbers, there's something like 235 house members who are Democrats, of that 134 have said they're in favor of an impeachment inquiry. But that's different from actually voting on impeaching the president of the United States.

What they're saying is they want to look into it. So, what's going on now up on Capitol Hill is essentially drafting the procedures for conducting an investigation, an inquiry into the impeachment of the president. My colleague, Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill reporting that as early as Wednesday they could begin considering such a proposal, such a set of rules and that would cover things like how to handle secret grand jury information of the kind, perhaps, that was dug up by the Mueller investigation.

How to handle witnesses, how to handle hearings, and so on. And using as a blueprint the work that was done on the case of Richard Nixon back in the 1970s. So, why is all of this important? Well, the president and his lawyers have repeatedly called what's been going on up on Capitol Hill -- a witch hunt.

They say, there's no legislative purpose. The committee will be putting on record, on the congressional record, in fact, their argument that this is rooted in the language of the United States constitution, an impeachment inquiry is, and that it's very serious.

It would also send a signal to the United States courts, the federal courts, telling them that this is why they're doing it when the courts are trying to decide whether to release information that the White House has been stonewalling on. Back to you.

PAUL: All right. Joe Johns, thank you so much for the update. Good to see you.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, there are more signs elsewhere on Capitol Hill the Democrats are turning up the heat against President Trump. Details of another investigation that questions military spending at the president's golf course in Scotland.

PAUL: Also, a new information today about death by vaping. A disturbing increase in lung disease cases that may be linked to that.

[07:09:26] MARQUARDT: And then, Hollywood offers letters of support for actress Felicity Huffman. One of their own. But will it be enough to keep her from doing time for her role in the college admissions scandal?


MARQUARDT: A new investigation is looking into whether President Trump's golf resort in Scotland is directly benefiting from military spending. The House Oversight Committee is focusing on an airport that is close to that golf course, it's called the Turnberry, and it's in Scotland. They say that the struggling airport near that course has seen an uptick in military spending since the election in 2016, including $11 million worth of fuel spending since October of 2017.

Now, the committee says that the airport has given American military crews not just discounted rooms at the airport, at the resort there, but free rounds of golf at the president's record. So, joining to discuss all this is Daniel Lippman, the White House Reporter for Politico.

Daniel, thanks so much for joining me today. This smells pretty fishy when you break this down. The military, of course, not known for splashing out on fancy hotel when they're traveling around the world. Both the airport and the resort, as I understand it, were not doing very well financially. So, if you will, fill in this picture for us. Why is this such a concern, and is there a conflict of interest here?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, when I saw the story, you know first, it was actually reported a year and a half ago by a Scottish newspaper. No one really picked it up until the, you know, congressional Democrats say that this was something worth looking into.

So, basically, the concern is are propping up a resort that was losing money in 2017, losing millions of dollars, and now, last year it's back in the green with profits of a few million dollars because of, you know, your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. And I think also the issue is, is the emoluments clause which is, you know, whether the president is profiting from foreign governments because they are paying for these rooms through our tax -- it's kind of like a two-way street.

MARQUARDT: Yes. You bring up the emolument's clause. This isn't the first time that the president has been questioned about questions of ethics, about potentially profiting from the presidency, about foreign governments and others staying in his hotels to curry favor. Is there anything being done to investigate that, to stop it? Can Congress do something.

[07:15:01] LIPPMAN: So, Congress has asked the DOD for documents. They haven't provided a single piece of paper related to this. And we should keep in mind that, usually, on these types of flights, they refuel at Ramstein or at a -- you know at an air force base in Spain or even the Azors sometimes.

They don't go to commercial airports where you have to pay much higher rates for fuel. And they had never really done this before, staying at this airport. You know, my colleagues talked to one person who had been on this trip, and they had, you know, took pictures of their nice hotel rooms at Turnberry.

And this was not the usual Hilton or Marriott that they're used to staying in, or even they sometimes stay in base housing. And so, this is something that is very concerning because why should the Defense Department be propping up a failing Trump property, and also this airport nearby is very crucial to Turnberry's success. It was in the process, you know, in the process -- you know, it was kind of in financial turmoil, not doing well financially. And yet now, of course, it's much better because of all the U.S. cash. MARQUARDT: All right. Well, we'll see how much all of this play into

those impeachments. Conversations are taking place on Capitol Hill next week. Daniel Lippman, White House Reporter for Politico, thanks so much for joining me.

LIPPMAN: Thanks, Alex.

PAUL: Well, nearly all the Democratic candidates are in New Hampshire today, they're making their case to voters there. We'll, talk about who needs to stand out from the crowd -- is this a last-ditch effort for some? That's still to come.

MARQUARDT: And then, the estranged husband of a missing Connecticut mother is talking about her disappearance. Coming up, we will have what he had to say just hours before he was arrested this week.


[07:20:37] PAUL: 20 minutes after the hour right now. And topping this morning's legal brief, Oscar-nominated actress, Felicity Huffman, could spend a month in jail for her part in the college admissions scandal. Huffman pleaded guilty, remember, to paying $15,000 to have a test proctor help her daughter with the SAT. Now, her lawyers have asked for a year probation and 250 hours of community service. Criminal Defense Attorney Page Pate with us now. So, what first of all you do think should happen?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think she should go to prison at this point. In federal court, it's pretty simple how the sentencing process works. She entered a plea agreement with the government. And you calculate her potential sentence based on the sentencing guidelines. In her case, like with most of the parents, she's looking at a few months in prison under the guidelines. But then, before you go to the judge, each side, the defense team and the prosecution, they submit their recommendations to the court. Is a guideline sentence appropriate? Should it be less, should it be more?

In this case, the government's saying it should be less than the guidelines but we still think she should go to prison at least for a month. Her lawyers say, no, this is a probation case. This particular judge has already sentenced the sailing coach at Stanford to one day in jail which was effectively time served. And his case involved a lot more money than her case. So, I think if put aside the fact that she's a celebrity, makes a lot of money, certainly did something illegal, I still don't think this is a prison case.

PAUL: Let me ask you this, because this is something that just came out. There are some statements that are being made on her behalf. One from her husband, William Macy, and in part, it reads this: "Watching Felicity become a mother is a wonderful thing to see. My wife has an amazing ability to see our kids. She sees them not as we wish they were or what we hope they might become, but who are they actually are." So, really, upping her as a mother.

And Eva Longoria, her former castmate on "Desperate Housewives" said this: "There was a time when I was being bullied at work by a co- worker until one day Felicity told the bully enough and it all stopped. I know I would not have survived those ten years if it wasn't for the friendship of Felicity, her gentle character, and kind heart immediately opened up to me." How much impact do statements like this have?

PATE: Well, it depends on the judge. The federal sentencing guidelines and the law specifically says that a judge can take into account a defendant's character. What have you done in the past? What's your life been like? We know she doesn't have any criminal history. But the court wants to see what she's done in the community. Have you helped people, have you made a difference, or is it all about your money and your kids? And so, a good defense lawyer, and she's well represented, will file those paper that he's done, the memorandum, requesting a lower sentence, put in as many character letters as he can -- and I think they had 27 or something in this --

PAUL: Yes, they had a good amount.

PATE: And the judge will go through it. And many times that will make the difference because the judge has got to say, look, why do I need to send you to prison if you're not a danger to the community, if you're already going to be deterred from doing anything like this in the future, and I'm sending a message to every other parent not to do it, as well, simply because of the felony conviction. And all of the other consequences that she's had to incur as a result of this case.

PAUL: All right.

PATE: Prison is just not necessary.

PAUL: It's just not necessary. Let's move to the search for missing mother in Connecticut, Jennifer Dulos. She disappeared, of course, May 24th. This week, her estranged husband was arrested for a second time after investigators say they found a blood-like substance containing his wife's -- estranged wife's DNA in his vehicle. Well, in an interview before his arrest, Fotis Dulos says he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance and he believes she's alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fotis, did you have anything to did with Jennifer's disappearance.

FOTIS DULOS, JENNIFER DULOS' HUSBAND: I did not. But I'd like to leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, but you can say that much?

DULOS: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Jennifer's alive?

DULOS: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Against all circumstantial evidence or common understanding? DULOS: I'd like not to discuss this, per my -- per my attorney's


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand, but in your mind, she's alive.



PAUL: What do you make of that interview?

PATE: Well, I think it's a bad idea to begin with because I don't know if he's aware of what the state knows at this point. I mean, prosecutors have been investigating this case, and they're doing it just -- they're building the wall piece by piece. They originally arrest him on tampering charges, destruction of evidence. They've done it again. And every time they put another block on the wall, he's basically blocking himself in. He's putting himself into a corner.

[07:25:22] By saying he thinks she's still alive, if they find evidence that's inconsistent with that, it's just another block on this particular wall. And they have solid evidence it appears, that he's at least been tampering with the evidence. He's been trying to clean it up. He's been going around, attempting to cover up whatever involvement he may have had. Now, they don't have evidence yet that he killed her, and that's why they have not charged --

PAUL: Because they don't have a body. And that's why I think a lot of people -- there are a lot of people saying why isn't he charged with murder? They can't prove --

PATE: They could. That's correct. They could charge him with murder even without a body, but they don't have enough evidence that he did it. But they do have sufficient evidence to charge him with tampering, with obstruction, with doing the kind of things somebody who's guilty would do to try to cover it up.

PAUL: So, this second arrest of his, what does that tell you about where they are in the process.

PATE: They're further along. They now have a couple of witnesses. It sounds like the person that he was having an affair with, maybe a handyman, they've come forward, they're trying to build this case against him, based on the testimony of people who know him, and the forensic evidence that they're able to find. The traces of this blood-like substance which clearly matches her DNA. I don't agree with the way they're doing it. I mean, charge him once. Let him out on bond. Charge him again, let him out on bond. I think they should just sit back and build their case and indict him on the most serious --

PAUL: OK. Let me ask you this. Do you think that the charging and letting him go, and charge again and letting him go, has anything to did with perhaps trying to gain more access to his co-defendant and girlfriend, Jennifer Troconis? Is there a possibility she's going to turn on him? She hasn't done so yet. So, maybe police are incrementally doing this.

PATE: Right. There's certainly a strategy to that. And I think she may have some exposure here, and it does appear at least from what we're hearing that there's been some cooperation on her part, at least she's talking to the authorities. But still, I mean, you can conduct that type of an investigation without wheeling the guy into jail, letting him back out and putting him back in -- take your time, build your case, and then indictment him for the most serious charge you can.

PAUL: Well. All right, Page Pate, always appreciate your insight.

PATE: Thank you. I enjoy it.

PAUL: Thank you for being here. Alex?

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, coming up, we will go back to the Bahamas where the devastation is becoming much more clear as the sun comes up. The U.S. Coast Guard is there now conducting search and rescue operations. We will have a live report from Nassau.



PAUL: 31 minutes past the hour on this Saturday. And I'll tell you, the devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian is really becoming clear today. I want to show new pictures from Ocracoke Island in North Carolina.

In fact, there's widespread flooding there. Currently, the island has no electricity. And we're told a lot of these homes and buildings are still underwater. These are aerial pictures from helicopters that are flying overhead. Also, helicopters being used to airlift food and water to the people there.

MARQUARDT: And then, over the Bahamas, which has seen the worst devastation from Hurricane Dorian, the U.S. Coast Guard and rescue teams have been searching for survivors there.

My colleague, Victor Blackwell is in the capital Nassau. Victor, we can see the sun coming up behind you. The day is just getting started there. You noted before that the helicopters are just starting to go out. There are so many questions that remain, so much to do for those teams. What are the highest priorities today?

BLACKWELL: Well, the highest priorities are first, getting those who have survived this storm off of the islands. Those who want to leave, some people want to stay. Getting resources to those people who want to stay, offering resources to those who come here to Nassau and have lost everything.

Let me give you another update. In our last hit, you saw the first choppers of the day takeoff to begin those evacuation flights. You hear some choppers, at least, one in the background now. A few moments ago, we saw a disaster response team out of Fairfax Virginia with USAID coming here to charged affairs for the U.S. Stephanie Bauer, who's here in the Bahamas says that those USAID teams will be walking through the keys looking for those who did not survive. Part of the recovery efforts that will be expansive here.

I want to go to a man who we spoke with before the storm hit. We spoke with him immediately after the storm hit. And now, we're going to invite him into the conversation a few days later. This is Kevin Tomlinson, he is in Freeport. Kevin thank you again for speaking with us.

We know that according to the U.N. there will be 70,000 people from Abaco and Grand Bahama, where you are there in Freeport, who are homeless. We know that you left your home and went to a shelter and we've seen the pictures from Grand Bahama. What is your plan? How is your home? Will you be able to stay?

KEVIN TOMLINSON, RESIDENT, GRAND BAHAMA (via Skype): Yes, good morning, Victor. Thank you so much for having me again. My home -- yes, I will be able to stay and there are some areas that we'll be able to rebuild. You know, this is now the trouble part, the devastation, the aftermath.

And I mean, this is -- I can't begin to say we are feeling such a level of heaviness herein the Bahamas because we've never experienced this before. And more shockingly, every day we're hearing about new bodies that they have found, and so forth.

And so, you know, it's really traumatic for a lot of people. And so, there are a lot of people who just, I think -- just want to leave. But again, at the same time, there are a lot of people who want to stay and just try to rebuild and try to salvage what they have.



TOMLINSON: I spent last night driving to areas assisting a person who got their homes flooded completely out, and they -- if you drive through some areas, you see all the furniture against the -- against the street.

It's just something that I've never seen before. And this is -- this is -- it's unbelievable to me.

BLACKWELL: Kevin, let me ask you. I've spoken with scores of people who have come from those devastated islands here to Nassau, and people who are waiting here in Nassau for news about their loved ones, and they are most of them just deeply dissatisfied with the response thus far from the Bahamian government.

What is your assessment of how the government here has handled the aftermath as we call it, now, day six after the storm hit land?

TOMLINSON: I would say this. This is day six after the aftermath and we haven't seen much action happening on the ground.

It is kind of worrying, and we don't really know what's happening because we -- you don't have the communication to know really what's going on. And we're not hearing much, and so forth. But, I am -- I am hoping that the government -- they'll be -- would come through very quickly and began to allow a lot of aid to come through.

Because the challenge is that in a lot -- in the next coming days, I mean, you're going to have a serious shortage with food and water. And when it gets like that, then, you begin to worry because the mindset of people change.

And so, I am hoping that they would quickly work out whatever red tape that needs to be worked out so that things can begin to move. Because the quicker we get things done, the quicker we get back on our feet and try to rebuild the city.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there is a significant amount of red tape from getting off the ground here, getting flights to Abaco, for media, for humanitarian organizations, for a lot of people who just want to send planes they have the means to go to the islands to bring people back to Nassau to many other elements that are being dealt with here.

Kevin Tomlinson, thank you so much for speaking with us. We will check with you again and we hope that you are in some safe and comfortable place as this recovery and building will continues. Kevin Tomlinson, thanks again.

Christi, I'll send it back to you in Atlanta as we just heard another flight takeoff, the rescues, the evacuations will continue for now, a sixth day.

PAUL: Yes. Victor, it's good to see you and it's good to see, Kevin. That everybody is OK there. Thank you so much, Victor Blackwell. Going to be with us obviously throughout the morning as he's there instead of up here, as usual.

MARQUARDT: And a terrific interview there. Thank you, Victor. All right, back here at home, Beto O'Rourke has been using some salty language, you could say, while he's been on the campaign trail for president. Is he talking to the masses or just trying to get noticed? That's ahead



MARQUARDT: Are just hours away from seeing nearly all the 2020 Democratic candidates who will be taking the stage in Manchester, New Hampshire. You can see that stage right there.

They're going to be at about 10 minutes each to make their pitch to the voters at the New Hampshire Democratic state convention.

Now, in a situation like this, it's crucial for the candidates to try to stand out from the crowd. There's so many of them. Then, that is especially true for progressives like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have pretty similar liberal progressive policy ideas.

PAUL: Yes, they've got to distinguish themselves from the other. Now, New Hampshire holds the first primary in the country. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and businessman Andrew Yang are two candidates who are hoping to gain some momentum in this battleground state before that event as well. And they're joining us live from New Hampshire later this morning.

We're going to be talking about gun control, the economy, impeaching President Trump potential, among many other things.

MARQUARDT: So much to discuss. And one of the other candidates who we're going to be talking about this morning is Beto O'Rourke. He has been a presidential hopeful who has struggled to get out of the bottom of Democratic polling. He will be speaking today at that convention in New Hampshire, and there's always going to be the lingering question of will he drop an f-bomb when he talks to the crowd?

You might not be surprised if he does because he has been doing that a lot lately. The Texas Democrat using some salty language on the stump, most recently in describing the mass shootings in his home state of Texas.

So, the question here is, is this a way to cut through political correctness in this unique time, shall we say, and get to the heart of an issue? Or is it a ploy for attention? A way to resonate with perhaps, young and angry voters.

We're back now to ask those very questions to Daniel Lippman, a White House reporter for Politico. Daniel, thanks so much for being back with me.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: As I just mentioned there, we did hear Beto drop the f- bomb recently after the El Paso shooting, after the shooting in Odessa that frankly is understandable. Given how many people were killed, given the fact that it took place in his home state.

How much of that, that language, that salty language do you think is just the way he talks versus a way to tap into voters who are looking for something more raw from their candidate?


LIPPMAN: I think it's a mix of both. This is not a totally new thing for Beto. He used this in his 2018 campaign all the time. And even the Ted Cruz campaign, in which he was against, they made a supercut video of all the times he had been swearing, and then he said that he would clean up his act.

But he's kind of back to his old ways. They've even printed a t-shirt that has a swear word and that they are noting, of course, the proceeds are going to some anti-gun violence organizations. But this seems to be kind of a move to get -- they got a most of desperate move in some of the rival campaign's thoughts to get attention given that he's been really at that one percent or two percent mark on -- in the polls.

MARQUARDT: Or do you think that Beto just has perhaps, his finger on the pulse of the electorate and on the times that we live in. We have a president who almost on a daily basis is on there on Twitter, flinging harsh insults to all of his political opponents.

Do you think Beto here is trying to fight fire with fire?

LIPPMAN: I think that's his argument. But, there are some Democrats who maybe they're not going to say that this is the end of civilization. But they will say that it's important not to stoop to Trump's level.

And remember, when the Obamas were in office, they were all about taking the high road. And Eric Holder, their attorney general, he said that's not his strategy. And in my -- you know, my story was kind of funny because it's probably the most amount of times that I've had swear words in my piece, it was like 14 that we counted.

And to kind of just -- we're not -- we weren't going bleep anything in our article. But, I think, it's questionable whether there are tons of voters out there who will say, "Oh yes, I'm going to definitely vote for Beto or give him a second look because he's swearing all the time."

I think they -- you know, people have their favorites and they're not going to make decisions based on people's language as much.

MARQUARDT: But then, what does he have to do to break out of the basement if you will of the -- of that Democratic field? His poll numbers have consistently been in the single digits for a long time, now, what kind of play do you think he can make to move that needle?

LIPPMAN: It's very hard for all of these candidates who are stuck at the bottom to break free of that. You know, it's almost waiting -- they're waiting for the frontrunners to make a gaffe that would end their campaign or for voters to give more of the lower-level candidates the second look.

And so, you know, a lot of people -- there aren't that many people who are persuadable. But as long as you have money, then these candidates think that it's a good way to get attention for their issues.

And Beto definitely has his supporters out there. And people thought that he would be a top-tier candidate, and we're you know, several months away from Iowa, and so, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. But it's just been a tough road for him, and he's -- but he's a very active energetic candidate.

I've talked to people who work for him and they say that no one will ever work outwork him. I guess he loves doing those campaigns, tough events. MARQUARDT: Right, right. Well, a big day for him in New Hampshire, and of course, he'll be on the debate stage next week in Houston for the next democratic debate. Daniel Lippman, White House reporter for POLITICO. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

PAUL: New concerns over vaping. As the CDC reports, at least, five people have died from vaping related illnesses now. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is breaking down the latest for us.

First though -- you know, veganism is a growing trend among elite athletes. The question is, can it -- can it benefit the average athlete? Those are you, that's me, and maybe average.

In this week's "STAYING WELL", we're going to see how going vegan did help a onetime weekend runner.


MATT FRAZIER, VEGAN ATHLETE: I'm kind of a recreational athlete. Like I'm a guy who with the help of a plant-based diet managed to do some pretty neat things athletically.

I had gotten really excited about the idea of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. To me, as a non-runner, that would be amazing if I could do that. I missed the qualifying time for my first marathon.

So, over the course of five or six years, I really started learning as much as I could about running, learning how to avoid injuries and a big part of all that was my diet.

Seemed like the people who were actually achieving the most as far as athletes went, they were doing on 100 percent plant-based diet. I decided that I'm just going to go for it. Started this blog, there were 500 people following me in this quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which I did six months after I've made this diet change.

BRITTANY VERRAS, DIETITIAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Plant-based diets give us the best access to a wide variety of nutrients and fiber. And those things really help reduce fatigue and they increase oxygen and blood flow to muscles.

A lot of people worry about protein on plant-based diets, especially, if they're an athlete. People like to go protein crazy, but that's a mistake. If we eat too much protein at one time, our body can't process it. We end up either storing it as fat or getting rid of it.

The best sources of plant-based proteins are going to be soy, tofu, or tempeh. You can also get it from beans, lentils, legumes, peas.


FRAZIER: I got to run a 50-mile, I got to run 100-miles, and the diet definitely helped me with these things. I just feel like it's one of the best decisions I've ever made for my health.


ANNOUNCER: "STAYING WELL", brought to you by MiraLAX. It works with the water in your body to unblock your system naturally.


MARQUARDT: Federal health officials are raising new concerns over vaping. They're saying that there are, at least, 450 cases and, at least, five deaths potentially linked to vaping.


PAUL: New details from the CDC that show New York state health officials are zeroing in on a chemical. There could be making those who vape sick. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These numbers just hard to believe, they keep going up, the number of people hospitalized, now, the number of states.

It's interesting, when you talk about the typical patient, oftentimes, they are young, they are healthy, and then, they are suddenly sick.

Take a look at the symptoms that they often develop: respiratory symptoms, G.I. symptoms, fever, headache, weight loss. And again, so many people getting sick, so many people getting hospitalized as a result of this.

It's an ongoing medical investigation. At first, you had all these people getting ill. What do they have in common? Well, they all seem to have vaped. Now, within the vape, what is it about the vaping? Is it something, in particular, that could be causing a problem?

Well, in the state of New York, they've been zeroing in on the substance known as vitamin E acetate, vitamin E. That -- you know, it's something that you can take by mouth as a supplement. It's usually fine, people often rub it on their skin, usually fine, but if you vaporize it, turn it into all these other compounds, absorb it into your lungs, and then, those compounds re-congeal perhaps back into some sort of oil, could that be causing the problem?

They don't know for sure but that's what the investigators are starting to really focus on. So far, the substance, this vitamin E substance has only been found in THC or cannabis containing vapes, not nicotine. And therein lies another clue.

I should point out, the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control had this to say as well. "Until a definitive cause is known, people should consider not using e-cigarettes."

It's a pretty extraordinary statement to just say, hey, look, we don't know for sure what's going on, people are getting sick, it's likely associated with the vaping for the time being maybe it's best to simply not use these devices.

As we get more information, we'll certainly bring it to you.

PAUL: Sanjay, thank you so much. We're back in a moment.