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O'Rourke & Buttigieg Clash Over Fate Of Action On Guns; Why Has O'Rourke Been Cursing So Much On Trail?; Emotional Vet Tells Sanders He's Crippled By Medical Debt; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Bernie Sanders Campaign Co-Chair, Is Interviewed About Vet's Medical Debt, Medicare for All, UAW Strike In Detroit; Drone Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities; OxyContin Maker Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 13:30   ET




Beto O'Rourke has a swearing problem. But is that what it takes to put attention on gun violence?

Plus, Democratic leaders give President Trump an ultimatum on guns, but will he do anything?



KEILAR: Now to the 2020 race where Democratic candidates, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, are engaged in a gun debate. The two are clashing after O'Rourke's standout moment last week when he said this.


BETO O'ROURKE, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Hell, yes, we're going to take your A.R.-15 and your A.K.-47.


O'ROURKE: We're not going it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.



KEILAR: Now Mayor Pete Buttigieg is accusing O'Rourke of playing into the hands of Republicans.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, we have an amazing moment on our hands.

When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know we have a moment on our hands. Let's make the most of it.


KEILAR: Beto O'Rourke fired back at Buttigieg in a tweet saying, "That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let's have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it."

Joining me now is Leyla Santiago and Ryan Nobles to talk about this.

Leyla, this has sort of revived O'Rourke's campaign with a purpose for running because this is so personal for him.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, you really saw Beto O'Rourke after the El Paso shooting kind of come back to the campaign trail with a sense of, I'm going to do what's right to me and I'm going to do what feels natural to me.

He's going back to a lot of things we saw in the early campaign. He's going back to some of the cursing, wearing college hats, going back to things that feel right because he feels that's what the El Paso shooting did to him as a presidential candidate, anyway.

And so those things he's most passionate about right now, gun violence, that's where you're going to see him really do whatever it takes, whatever he feels is coming naturally to him in that moment.

KEILAR: He's bringing back the cursing personally, but he's not the only one. There are a lot of candidates who are doing that. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Republicans need to, quite frankly, get their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) together.

ANDREW YANG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They've been laughing their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off about it for the last couple years.




SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We're not going to give thoughts and prayers, which to me is just (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I'm sorry to say that as a man of faith.

O'ROURKE: We don't know why the firearms were used or how he acquired them, but we know this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


O'ROURKE: We're averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close. So, yes, this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


KEILAR: If you look at this, I would say Beto O'Rourke has a disproportionate slice of the swear-word pie, but specifically for him. We see it sort of in vogue in general, but why?

SANTIAGO: I think he's someone who even, off camera, when I've had conversations with him, he does speak like that.

But in terms of why you see this up and down on the -- what did you call it, the curse word pie, the swearing pie --


KEILAR: This is the course of talking.

SANTIAGO: I think it's natural with him in general, but I was with him, I was with him when he started in Keokuk, and then I think it was at Alexandria, at some point, a voter said, listen, can you please tone that down, please no more cursing. He said OK. He toned it down. We didn't hear much of it. And El Paso happened and that changed.

These things make headlines and they bring in money. He's it making T-shirts made out of this, he's got fundraising come out of it and e- mails. It's something that's supported.

KEILAR: And it's getting a lot of attention. You see Mayor Pete Buttigieg is taking issue because he thinks maybe it's not productive.

I think this debate they're having on the campaign trail, Ryan, demonstrates this intra-party debate we're having on guns. How far do you let it go without having it backfire?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And, Brianna, we're seeing the difference between what it means to be a candidate on this issue and what it means to legislate on this issue.

You see some frustration with Democrats on Capitol Hill, like, hey, we may have an opportunity here with Republicans to have some sort of substantive legislation passed. Let's hold off by going too far by saying we're going to take your gun away from you, and instead maybe we can get background checks done.

I think that's what you saw Mayor Buttigieg make as it relates to what Beto O'Rourke's plan is.

Presidential candidates are always going to go much further than a member of Congress will go because they're not actually accountable to anything until they take office.

That's a real problem for Democrats right now, because what gets their party base energized is this idea of taking on an issue they care so much about like gun control, and doing it in a big way, but Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would like to get something done. KEILAR: What they've said to the president essentially is, look,

background checks or there's going to be no deal. Do you see that working?

NOBLES: I don't know. I think at this point, President Trump finds himself in a box. He would like to have a victory here, but he also has the NRA chirping in his ear saying, background checks is opening the door to a gun registry, is opening the door to the government knocking on your door and physically taking your gun away.

Now, gun control advocates would say that's not what we're talking about here. This is an incremental step we're taking to try to keep people safe. But that's where this gun debate ends up. Right, Brianna? You get to the far extremes of both sides of the issue, the common-sense things in the middle, which most Americans support --


KEILAR: That's right.

NOBLES: -- but are still too difficult to pass off in Washington.

KEILAR: The vast, vast majority. It's only a few percentage points of folks who don't want to see these universal background checks.

You guys, thank you so much, Ryan Nobles, Leyla Santiago. Really appreciate it.

A veteran breaking down while talking to Senator Bernie Sanders about his medical debt. Sanders' reaction when the man told him that things are so bad that he wanted to take his own life.

Plus, as the NFL meets with the woman accusing of Antonio Brown of rape, one columnist says the moral compass of the Patriots' head coach points up by way of his middle finger.



KEILAR: When Bernie Sanders made a two-day campaign swing through Nevada, he held a town hall to talk about his Medicare for All proposals. That led to a heart-breaking exchange with a veteran who says he cannot pay off his medical bills.


JOE WEIGEL, VETERAN: Now they're saying that -- you know, I didn't re-sign or do something or --

SANDERS: How are you going to pay off --

WEIGEL: I can't! I can't! I'm going to kill myself.


SANDERS: Stop it. Stop it. You're not going to kill yourself.


WEIGEL: I can't deal with this. I have Huntington's disease. Do you know how hard that is? You probably don't, do you? I can't drive. I can barely take care of myself.

SANDERS: Let's talk later at the end of the meeting, OK?

WEIGEL: Thank you.




KEILAR: So the veteran told Sanders that he owes about $140,000 and his insurance will not cover it.

I want to bring in Congressman Ro Khanna, from California, to talk about this. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He's also co-chair of the Sanders' presidential campaign.

Watching this moment is heart-wrenching and it's because you can imagine this man John represents a lot of other people. What was your reaction as you saw this?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Brianna, it was heartbreaking. And I know how much you care about military families, but I think the entire country needs to hear John Weigel's story.

He is someone who served our nation, went to the Persian Gulf, and now he doesn't have basic insurance because of bureaucratic errors, because he didn't fill out correctly the Tricare form.

Moreover, he was not able to afford anti-depressant and heart medicine because Tricare wouldn't cover it. You have to ask, a person who makes the highest sacrifice for a country, who wears are uniform, defends our interests, how is it he is being treated this way?

KEILAR: I think Bernie Sanders would say this is something Medicare for All would fix. But Pete Buttigieg has criticized Sanders' and Senator Elizabeth Warren's plans for Medicare for All, saying this.


BUTTIGIEG: What we have to talk about right now is vision. My concern about the vision from Sanders' and Warren's approach is it can polarize Americans when we have other ways to deliver bold solutions without dividing the American people further.


KEILAR: What do you say about that argument? KHANNA: First of all, Bernie Sanders is exactly right. John Weigel

shouldn't have to worry about filling out forms for Tricare or argument with insurance companies to get care. Under Medicare for All, he would be enrolled from the day he was born and he would get coverage.

For Pete Buttigieg, I would say, what would he say to seniors. Seniors are automatically enrolled in Medicare. No one argues about that. Why shouldn't we do that for every American? You could still have supplemental insurance, but all we're saying is give every American the health care seniors have in this nation.

KEILAR: I want to go back to something you said about John, the veteran. Just as an example, having heart medication and depressants that Tricare doesn't cover. Tricare has a list of approved medications. It doesn't cover all medications. Like a lot of insurance programs, it will steer people toward certain medications over others. Some are covered, some are not. Would Medicare for All change that?

KHANNA: Yes, it would. Medicare for All would cover these medicines and it would reduce any out-of-pocket costs.

The reason it would be able to do this and save money is because we're going to get rid of the excessive insurance profits, the excessive pharmaceutical profits, and give people basic health care.

This is not a very novel idea. Almost every other nation is able to do that. Certainly, in America, we could treat our veterans with getting basic health care and the medicines they need.

KEILAR: I want to talk to you about this auto workers strike in Detroit, in the context of health care, in the context of your candidate, Bernie Sanders. He said under Medicare for All, companies negotiating health care with union would have to pass on any savings to those workers that they might receive after all Americans shift over to the Medicare for All coverage because these workers would be shifting from Cadillac private plans to Medicare for All.


But I wonder, looking at these auto workers, we know discussions are tense today. They don't have faith their employer is going to do things their way or will stand by them as they should. Do you see how maybe they personally might be skeptical that their employee is not going to do this in any way other than kicking and screaming?

KHANNA: I do, but here's the sad things, Brianna, these auto workers shouldn't have to fight for basic health care. They should fight for increased wages. And unions have had to scrape to get health care coverage.

What Senator Sanders is saying is we're going to make sure everyone has health care coverage so unions can work on getting better pay and working conditions and we'll force the employers to honor the agreement with the unions and compensate for the extra health care benefits that may have negotiated in the past.

KEILAR: I want to talk about the attack on Saudi Arabia's largest oil field. You are on the House Armed Services Committee. President Trump used this phrase "locked and loaded" when he was addressing what the U.S. says is Iran's role in the attack. What would a U.S. military response mean?

KHANNA: It's dangerous rhetoric. We don't even have the intelligence yet about who committed the attack, why it was committed. We need to take a deep breath, not make the same mistake we made when we went into Iraq. Not get into another Middle East war.

I have a bipartisan amendment with Matt Gaetz, a Republican, that overwhelmingly passed the House, 251-170.

That said, we're not going to give any funding for an offensive war in Iran before Congress approves it. It's now with the Senate.

We need to make sure that the final defense authorization has that. The president needs to come with evidence to Congress. And it's for Congress to decide on the appropriate response.

KEILAR: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you so much. Joining us from California.

KHANNA: Brianna, it's always a pleasure.

KEILAR: Unbelievable new video showing the aftermath of a deadly building explosion in Maine. Officials are saying they have seen destruction like this.

Plus, new questions about the future of OxyContin after the painkiller's maker files for bankruptcy.



KEILAR: An explosion in Farmington, Maine has left one firefighter dead and six people injured, four of them are firefighters. Officials say they were checking on a complaint of a propane glass smell when it blew up.

The Franklin County sheriff said he was struck by the scene of the destruction.


SCOTT NICOLAS, SHERIFF, FRANKLIN COUNTY, MAINE, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I spent a year in Iraq, the closest I can explain it. It was just total devastation. I've never seen destruction like that in my career. I've been in law enforcement for 35 years. I've never seen anything like this before in my life, except overseas. It was horrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: One witness told CNN he was lying in bed when his building, quote, "shook with a thunderous boom" and his house lost power. The governor said the explosion will be thoroughly investigated.

The company accused of pushing pills for profit at the height of the opioid crisis has filed for bankruptcy. The maker of oxcontin, Purdue Pharma, said the filing is part of the framework for settling 2,000 lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here to tell us how patients taking this drug will be impacting by this filing.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, with the recent news about Purdue, some patients might be wondering, what if I take OxyContin is it possible it could come off the market. Nobody knows the answer to that question right now.

But we spoke with some pain specialists about what would happen if OxyContin were no longer available. The answer they said is there are plenty of alternatives, generic and brand name, that people can try. OxyContin is an opioid and there are others on the market.

Some patients respond better to some than others. But the doctors we spoke to were confident that other drugs would work for these patients.

But there's something else important to remember about opioids. Just because your doctor suggests one does not mean you need it. There are alternatives. You can try ibuprofen, which is not addictive. You could try something like physical therapy or acupuncture. People have found success with those instead of opioids, and they're not addictive.

If a doctor suggests an opioid, you need to ask, Doctor, is there something else I can take that will address my pain -- Brianna?


KEILAR: Very good advice.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

That's it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

On this Monday, President Trump says the U.S. is, and I quote, "locked and loaded" while a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard said his nation is ready for full-fledged war.


This is all happening after a weekend strike in Saudi Arabia that heavily damaged some of the world's biggest oil production sites.