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Third 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate Tonight; Thousands Reported Missing in the Bahamas; Purdue Pharma Reaches Settlement. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 10:30   ET



SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- bar someone temporarily from being able to purchase firearms if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. But the version of the legislation that Republicans support, would incentivize states to adopt red flag laws, as opposed to forcing states to adopt them, making them mandatory.

And so gun control advocates say it's effectively toothless if you don't ensure that they are enforceable across the country. It's sort of similar to the conversation that's being had around background checks. Democrats want them to be universal. Manchin-Toomey was a much more watered-down version of that, there's not even sufficient support for that.

So it's hard to say where both sides can come together on something that's meaningful and not simply symbolic.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Sabrina Siddiqui, Wes Lowery, always good to have you on.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. Tonight, it's debate night in America, round three of the Democratic debates. It kicks off tonight in Texas, only 10 candidates this time. That means one night, one stage, a lot at stake. That's next.



HARLOW: Well, tonight, debate night in America once again, all eyes on Houston as the Democratic candidates take the stage for debate number three. This time around, the top 10 candidates face off during just a single night.

And that means, for the first time, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren will be on the same stage. They're getting a host of the attention this morning, meeting face to face right next to each other for the first time. This, as new CNN polling shows the former vice president's lead is getting thinner. He's got a six-point lead now.

Joining me to discuss all of this, Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman for the Texas Democratic Party. Good morning, sir.


HARLOW: I know you're really looking forward to tonight. We're all going to be watching. What do you hope gets the most attention onstage tonight?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think it's important not only that we have all the candidates at the same time so that people can take a look at them at one time and they can really have a conversation with one another about the issues that are important to American families today.

And I think -- I think what I'd like to see is a contrast between what we stand for and what every one of those 10 candidates stand for --


HINOJOSA: -- and what this administration with Mr. Trump stands for. And I think people are going to see that, you know, the folks that are competing to be our nominee really, really are talking about the values of all Americans, and about what's important to American families, about the kitchen-table issues that people worry about --


HINOJOSA: -- every single day, and that contrast, I think, is important for America to see tonight.

HARLOW: It's interesting because you're talking about a Democratic Party, one that you want to appear united, but I think the divisions between the -- you know, the more progressive or further left wing of the party, and the more moderate, centrist wing is clear.

I wonder, sir, how would you define the Democratic Party today?

HINOJOSA: Well, we have a -- it's a big -- a party with a big tent. But, I mean, even if there is some variations in positions, they all basically believe in the same thing. They believe that every American should have access to affordable health care.


HINOJOSA: They believe that every child should have a quality public education and an opportunity to go to college. They believe that everyone should have a living wage, to be able to support their families --

HARLOW: Totally, I hear you.

HINOJOSA: -- they believe that we need to take care of our climate, yes.

HARLOW: I hear you, right? But the path there is so different, right? There are those that believe this country can afford things, like Medicare for all or free college, and there are those on the stage that don't. So it's an interesting divide, on the route that you achieve those things. And I guess I'm just wondering, where do you feel, in your gut, like the majority of your party is right now?

HINOJOSA: Well, they're probably somewhere in the middle. I believe American families believe that all these issues or these things are essential to our quality of life in America. How we get there and what we end up with, is going to be what is -- what our nominee's going to be able to achieve, once he or she becomes the president of the United States.

I mean, at the end of the day, no matter what, their position is going to be far better for Americans, whether it's one or the other, than what you're seeing today from the Trump administration and the Republicans that are running this country as well. So I think this is a good thing, healthy debate is a good thing. They are representing what America is really all about, and I think Americans are going to see that.

HARLOW: You've spoken very glowingly, especially of Julian Castro, obviously a son of Texas. Is that a formal endorsement?

HINOJOSA: No, I'm not endorsing any candidate this time. Julian Castro is someone who we know very well. He was the mayor of San Antonio, and a city councilmember before we deal (ph) very much with his brother, Joaquin, who is in Congress, and since he's been in the House of Representatives.

These are people that we've been working with a number of years, and they represent the best of what Texas is all about. But we also have Beto O'Rourke, who was an outstanding congressman while he was there, and then ran a great campaign for the United States Senate, and we have a lot of hopes for him as well.

So we believe that the whole slate of candidates, the 10 people who are out there, are outstanding candidates and all can do a great job. They can do a hundred times better than the guy that's in the White House right now, each and every one of them.


HARLOW: And you guys have -- you guys have this whole new campaign online, outlining your hope, your plan to register 3 million unregistered voters, and to try, as many have before, to flip the state of Texas. So we'll be watching on that, and we'll obviously have you back after tonight, to see what you think. Thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it.

HINOJOSA: Thank you, Poppy. Thank you for having us.

HARLOW: You got it. Enjoy tonight -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Watch this story because we're bracing ourselves for this. The number of people reported as missing in the Bahamas continues to grow. What does that mean for the death toll there? Just a harrowing scene. A live report from the islands, coming up.



HARLOW: All right. We promised you we would keep a light on the Bahamas, and we are doing that. This morning, an alarming number, coming out of the government there, which now says the number of people reported missing has grown to a staggering 2,500.

SCIUTTO: Of course, raises the worries that the early death toll estimates are low. Paula Newton, she's been there since the beginning. She's live now from Nassau, Paula. And I'm amazed. Here, you have the Bahamas. They're a few dozen miles from the coast of the U.S. --


SCIUTTO: -- Americans visit there, live there all the time. And yet more than a week after this devastating storm, people still not getting the aid they need. What's going on?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, the issue is how that aid was distributed and when it was distributed. I mean, it is hard. It's hundreds of miles, right, guys? Those little islands and cays everywhere.

I think that USAID says that, now, look, they've done a first sweep, and they understand that they've been able to evacuate anybody that needed to be evacuated by air, and they are trying to get the basic supplies, right? Food and water.

The main concern now, though, obviously, is disease. And so they are trying to go back out to those islands and see who needs medical attention, now, and what they can do to really mitigate a lot of the stress, and obviously a lot of the risk in staying there.

While a lot of people have left and have been evacuated, there are some people that either haven't had that opportunity or refuse to leave their homes. Again, a problem there.

I want to go back to that number of 2,500 missing. A terrifying number, isn't it? And yet the government says that 50, they say that they know the death toll will rise.

In that number, though, of 2,500, a few things. One is, I had a look at the list. There were two people that I know that are alive. Great, that's fabulous news. Unfortunately, I also spoke to two people who hadn't had the opportunity, guys, to actually even report their relatives as missing. So they are not on that list.

Now, I spoke to them a couple days ago, maybe they made it back on that list. And, listen, the prospect is there, that there is a portion of the Haitian population that was undocumented, you do now know if they've reported (ph) to any government authorities. And also, people who, of course, have told me, "Look, my friend, my relatives was swept out to sea. I have no idea if we'll ever see them again." SCIUTTO: Lord help us. Listen, Paula, continue to bring the word back from there. It's so important. Thank so much.

And for you, watching at home go to There are a lot of great options there for getting aid to the folks in the Bahamas who need it.

There is a lot going on today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 2:30 p.m. Eastern, R. Kelly arraignment on prostitution charges; 4 p.m. Eastern, Justice Ginsburg discussion at Georgetown; 8 p.m. Eastern, Democratic primary debate in Houston


HARLOW: All right. Ahead on the opioid crisis, the makers of oxycontin may have reached a proposed settlement with dozens of states and local governments. Some say, though, it's not enough and the fight is not over. We'll bring you that, ahead.



SCIUTTO: This morning, what could be an historic moment in America's opioid crisis, but also a controversial one. Purdue Pharma, the maker of oxycontin, has reached a preliminary agreement to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits linked to opioids.

HARLOW: Jean Casarez has been all over this story for months. She joins us now with the details of this settlement. So it's a multibillion-dollar proposal here, that would mean they'd file for chapter 11 bankruptcy. What are the actual implications here in terms of helping those who have suffered so much, though?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's a good question because this is a global negotiation. It is between all of those and it is over 2,000 states, municipalities, Native American governments that are -- consolidated their cases into this one litigation.

But also, state attorney generals that did not participate in the national litigation are also negotiating, so it is a huge amount of people. And I think it would be up to the individual states or the municipalities, of how the people that need these monies would actually get them.

But this is what we are learning. We're learning that the settlement, in essence, would be $3 billion of the Sacklers' -- those are the owners of Purdue Pharma -- their personal monies, plus up to an additional $1.5 billion. That would come from bankruptcy proceedings, selling a company they have., we're hearing, an international company that they have, Mundipharma.

Now, those are not set in stone. It's got to go through more negotiations, consent degrees. But here's what we're understanding. Many states are saying, "We're not for this. We are not going to sign on to this." I mean, we have at least 12 states that CNN has confirmed, that they will not be a part of this.


And so the question is, now what will happen? Just this morning, North Carolina has opted to individually sue the family, the Sackler family. And so will that then create a domino effect because the states do not believe they're getting enough money -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Jean Casarez, important story. We commit to you, we're going to keep on top of this. Thanks very much.

HARLOW: All right. Thank you all for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. "AT THIS HOUR" with our colleague Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.