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Warren Draws Massive Rally Crowd; GM Strike Enters Second Day; Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) on GM Strike; Israelis Vote in Repeat Election. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 17, 2019 - 09:30   ET



MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Around the corner from it is a factory where a whole bunch of people died from a fire in 1911 and she says that's all because of corruption and corporate greed.

But I think this speech was actually a lot more than just the anti- corruption theme. Politically, it was so significant because I think this might have been the most sort of forceful and sharpest argument -- general election argument that we have seen her make all year.

Let's just actually take a listen to some of those arguments that she made last night.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I know what some of you are thinking. I do. Whoa, too much. Too big. Too hard.

And I know, people are scared. But we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else. And Democrats can't win if we're scared and looking backward.


LEE: So really there she's making the electability argument, right, essentially saying, I know there are some of you out there who think my ideas are too much to the left or too big, but that it can be done, and also asking voters to vote with their hearts, not their heads. And then the four words that I think we've heard her use a lot more lately, which are, I am not afraid. Clearly this is an appeal to voters and also just a message, I think, to the Joe Bidens of the world and the Donald Trumps of the world.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: She also clearly believes that America is ready to elect a female president, saying last night, I love the thought of what a president can do by herself. A very feminist message.

LEE: Right. Yes, I don't know if you two as New Yorkers know about the history of the Washington Square Arch. I was looking this up last night. This arch was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. So when I got to the park, I thought, that's a little right on the nose, right? She's going to make this speech in front of this arch.

But, actually, when she took the stage, she said, we are not here today because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we're not here because of men at all. We are here because of some hard working women.

Again, I -- this just struck me as a little bit different in that this was the most sort of feminist tone that I've heard her take. And just significant in the context of the general election because we know from all of our reporting that there are plenty of women voters who are still sort of traumatized from 2016, who felt like they were ready for a female president, but the country was not.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. On something that's become a signature of her events, to staying to take selfies, right --


SCIUTTO: With virtually I guess everyone who asks.

LEE: Selfies.

SCIUTTO: But 4,000 last night? That's remarkable.

LEE: Yes, 4,000 last night. The campaign says 59,000 since she has started running for president. I mean the fact that she can do this for even four hours after giving such a speech, I mean that in and of itself is pretty remarkable.

And the fact that this is a strategy that the campaign says they're not going to change as we get closer to Iowa, closer to even the general election, this is something that they believe is very key to their grassroots movement and strategy.

SCIUTTO: But, listen, you post those pictures to Instagram, right?

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: That's a social media campaign, I assume, is part of the calculation (ph).

LEE: Exactly. Your friends see it. Your family sees it.


LEE: Yes.

HARLOW: MJ Lee, thank you very much.

LEE: Thanks.

HARLOW: And fascinating to see. Thanks for the history, too, on the arch.

LEE: No problem.

HARLOW: I didn't know that. Thank you very much. Still ahead, the General Motors story. Union workers and GM still really at odds here. Several key sticking points as that strike enters day two. We've learned one of the biggest issues is the demand from union workers to bring some of those jobs back from Mexico and GM says that's a nonstarter.



SCIUTTO: For the second day in a row, nearly 50,000 auto workers across the country are striking against General Motors. Union sources say there are currently dozens of sticking points in negotiations, including bringing back jobs and manufacturing from Mexico. Both sides could be gearing up for a long fight.

Right now more than 50 factories and warehouses are shut down across the U.S. Look at all the states affected there.

CNN business and politics reporter Vanessa Yurkevich, she is live in Detroit this morning.

So, Vanessa, 24 hours in. You're speaking to those who are striking. What are you hearing from them as to how long they're prepared to dig in here?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Hi, Jim. Well, yes, day two, no deal. There are still picketers here 24 hours a day, as you said, still very hopeful.

But here's what's going on within these negotiations. We are hearing from a source that there are still dozens of sticking points, as you mentioned, including that one that UAW wants GM to bring jobs back from Mexico to the United States. We've also been hearing that those meetings are very tense and the two sides are still pretty far apart on coming to a deal.

But as I mentioned, these picketers here behind me working on six-hour shifts. They're getting paid $250 a week by the union. Still, a very drastic difference from what they would be getting paid from GM. But many here saying that they're still in it for the long haul.

We spoke to one woman who said she's willing to fight till the end.


MEOSHEE EDWARDS, GM EMPLOYEE ON STRIKE: If you look at it, $250 a week is not a lot for us to provide for our families, to pay our bills and things.


But as you can see, we're out here fighting for what we believe in, so we're willing to take that sacrifice and we're willing to go all the way.


YURKEVICH: And coming on top of that, Jim, we're hearing from both sides now, GM and UAW, conflicting information about who is paying for these workers' health insurance. GM releasing a statement saying that their insurance, paid for by the company, is ending today. UAW saying, nope, that's not true. It's supposed to go through the end of the month. So now, with these contract negotiations dragging out, now the uncertainty about the health insurance, these workers behind me still facing a lot of uncertainty about what -- when they're going to be getting back on the job and how long they will be off of it.


SCIUTTO: Vanessa Yurkevich with big consequences around the country. A lot of other businesses depend on the auto manufacturing. Good to have you on the ground there.

HARLOW: All right, let's talk more about this with Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee. He represents, of course, Flint is in his district. They've got a big GM plant there. Thanks for being with me. Good morning.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Thank you, Poppy, for having me on.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And the good news at least for the people in your district at that plant is that GM committed $150 million more to investment there, but there is -- you know, there's that, and then there's the pain felt at the other four U.S. plants that GM has shuttered in the last year.

I'm just interested, sir, in where you fall on this. I know everyone wants an agreement, right? But there's a huge divide between what the union workers are asking for and what GM is willing to give. Do you think GM should be giving these workers more money, bringing those jobs back from Mexico, or are you looking at a landscape where electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles mean a lot of money needing to be spent by GM on those fronts and slowing sales and more global competition?

KILDEE: Well, we want GM to make those investments, but we want them to make those investments in the United States. Just to keep in mind, this is a company, over the last three years, that has had profits in excess of $30 billion. That's $30 billion with a "b." And we also should remind ourselves that it wasn't that long ago that the U.S. government stepped in with the support of the workers and workers took significant concessions simply to keep the company from going bankrupt and disappearing.


KILDEE: It wasn't the Mexican government that stepped up.


KILDEE: It was the American government and American auto workers. So the changes that the union is fighting for, I support. HARLOW: Right. OK. So I --

KILDEE: They have temporary workers. They have new workers that are getting about half the pay that traditional workers have gotten. That needs to change.

HARLOW: So I see both sides of your argument, right? I mean, yes, the U.S. government bailed out General Motors with taxpayer dollars in the midst of the great recession. Part of the reason that General Motors wasn't able to stay afloat on its own were the legacy costs in a changing environment, right?

KILDEE: No question.

HARLOW: And the union contracts.

So I guess I'm wondering how you wrestle those two, because, let me just read you this from the CEO of Lancing Economic Group, it's a consulting firm. Here's what he told "The Detroit News," quote, past ten days of a strike, you're starting to risk Michigan going into a one-state recession, particularly southeastern Michigan.

Do you share that concern?

KILDEE: Of course I do, but there is a time when workers do have to band together and stand up for themselves because, you know, obviously, we don't want to see that eventuality, but neither do we want to see what we've seen over the last several decades. And that's the death of a thousand cuts. My hometown once had 76,000 people working for General Motors. Today it's about 10,000.


KILDEE: What we don't want is more of those jobs, as they're being developed, to be developed south of the border. We need to get, you know, a decent payroll for those people who are working. There's a two-tier pay system within the GM pay structure right now. We need to -- and that was done in order to help the company over the hump.


KILDEE: Not to be a permanent underclass of workers who receive literally half the pay that the people working right down the assembly line are gaining. But that's one of the issues that has to be addressed.

HARLOW: I hear you. And I think about it this way, you know, you've got public companies that have to answer quarterly to Wall Street and the demands of investors, right, and they want to see quarterly profits increase. At the same time, you've got the future of the American worker on the line here.

Do you believe that GM is being greedy? Do you believe GM should take a reduction in profit for a number of quarters or maybe a matter of years to be able to properly train people for the jobs of the future? And if you do that, how do you convince the street? KILDEE: Well, I think the company has to be sustainable. And it has to

be profitable. I'm not against, at all, the company being as profitable as it can be. But it should not come at the expense of people who helped keep that company afloat. So if the stockholders and the executives at General Motors were willing to say that we won't accept any help when we need it, and in return we're going to take all the profits we can get when that time comes, I would get it.


But that wasn't the case. They turned to the U.S. government, they turned to the workers of the company and said, help us through this difficult time.

Now, there ought to be some recognition that because we were willing to do that, that when the decision comes as to whether or not there should be greater profits for stockholders and greater salaries for executives or some return to the benefits that those workers previously had, I think it's a reasonable argument to make that the workers ought to get something back.

HARLOW: Yes, I hear you. Just would note that GM has put out what they're offering, which is more than $7 billion in new investments, 5,400 new jobs, increased pay and benefits. But they're not going to bring those jobs back from Mexico.

One final question, different topic, before we go. You guys, on the Ways and Means Committee, trying to get the president's tax returns. You haven't been able to. A federal judge ruled against you guys last month in trying to expedite it from the Treasury and IRS.

Does New York's attorney general, Cy Vance, subpoenaing eight years of the president's tax returns yesterday, does that help you guys?

KILDEE: It could. It doesn't deal with our fundamental question, which is whether or not the president is above federal law and can deny a request. But it may get us the information that we need in order to make the judgements that we have to make as to whether the president is having -- the tax code is being properly enforced against the president. And that's a very serious question that's yet unanswered.

But, fundamentally, even if we get access to those returns through some other means, it still leaves open the question as to whether the president can simply look the other way when the Congress is trying to exercise its oversight responsibilities. I don't believe you can. I think the law and the Constitution are on our side.

HARLOW: Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, thanks for being with us this morning.

KILDEE: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: You got it.

SCIUTTO: For the second time since April, Israeli voters head to the polls. Can Benjamin Netanyahu win enough seats this time to get an outright majority, or will a former military leader become the country's next prime minister? We're watching this vote closely.



SCIUTTO: It is election day again in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a very tight race to remain in power. Right now polls still open for the second time in less than six months as Israel's longest serving prime minister again faces his main rival, former military leader Bennie Gantz.

HARLOW: This is a really consequential election. Neither man's party is set to win an outright majority. The challenge will be, can either of them actually form a coalition, something that Netanyahu failed to do last time.

Our Sam Kiley joins us from Tel Aviv.

This is a huge day, Sam. We know how the president of the United States feels about all of this. But it Netanyahu is able to get a coalition, that magic number, 61, he gets a lot of power, especially as it comes to the corruption probe against him.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean this is not just about his political survival, but arguably about his personal survival. He is facing three corruption investigations that come -- begin to come to a head in about a month's time. So if Benjamin Netanyahu can pass that 61-seat threshold and introduce legislation, as is anticipated if he finds himself in that situation, to give himself immunity from prosecution, things will be looking very good.

Now, the turnout so far, as of 2:00 this afternoon, Poppy and Jim, was 36.5 percent, which is 1 percent up on last year, consistent with previous elections, which would indicate in this system that about 65 percent to 70 percent turnout overall.

Now, broadly speaking, that's good news for the big blocs, like Likud, which is Mr. Netanyahu's party, Bennie Gantz's Blue and White, because it -- that means that there's a higher threshold of numbers, sheer numbers of voters that the smaller parties need to get past in order to count at all.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Sam, I don't think we can underestimate for viewers at home just the enormous consequences of this election. First of all, you have a sitting prime minister accused of corruption who can pass laws to protect himself from those charges, which is just amazing.


SCIUTTO: But he's also promised to annex large parts of the West Bank --

HARLOW: Right. SCIUTTO: Violating international law, decades of U.S. policy, virtually the end of the two-state solution if he were to go forward with that.

I mean is that how folks on the ground there see this election?

KILEY: It's very interesting. It -- Benjamin Netanyahu has driven the narrative with exactly those explosive statements, saying he would annex the Jordan Valley, annex the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, keeping hold of the narrative.

The problem for those who are critical of him, notably Blue and White, is that they kind of agree with the idea, but they -- their only difference is that they would want to do it as a consequence of negotiations with the Palestinians and those have run into the sand for the last five years.

So, on the left, though, here, it has been highly criticized, such a policy, precisely because not only does it put an end to the Palestinian dreams of a two-state solution, but it would then potentially suck a great deal of military energy from a conscript army to try and invigilate and protect those people.


Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's one thing people don't talk about a lot but a lot of mothers and fathers in Israel don't love the idea of sending their sons and daughters to protect the settlements.


SCIUTTO: Sam Kiley, great to have you on the ground there. We know we're going to be speaking to you tomorrow as the results come in.

HARLOW: Yes, see what happens.

SCIUTTO: New details this morning about the attack on Saudi oil facilities, as U.S. and Saudi investigators now believe there's a very high probability, they say, that cruise missiles were launched in this attack from an Iranian base near Iraq (ph). We'll have more.