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Elizabeth Warren Rally Draws 20,000; Israeli Elections Today as Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Benny Gantz; Three Teens Shot in Georgia. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 17, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: To end corruption in Washington. But it was so much more than that. She took aim at one hurdle she has faced since launching her campaign, the question of electability. Take a listen to this.


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 --



WARREN: -- OK, nobody here, but we know there are some people over there.

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.



HARLOW: Huge cheers from the crowd.

With us now, Sahil Kapur, politics reporter for "Bloomberg." Good morning, thanks for being with us.


HARLOW: How consequential was that rally last night? Not just what she said, but the four hours of selfies afterward, the turnout. What does it mean for her?

KAPUR: It was quite a crowd. I mean, Elizabeth Warren is drawing a lot of people to her rallies. This is in keeping with other crowds like Seattle, where I was a few weeks ago. She drew an estimated 15,000 people, according to her campaign. The New York one was about 20,000.

And she's trying to show that she has a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of grassroots enthusiasm behind her campaign. And she's contrasting it to someone like Joe Biden, without mentioning him by name, whose crowds are a little bit more like Hillary Clinton's in 2016 where, you know, people don't show up screaming and cheering.

But there are a lot of people who support Joe Biden. They may not be going to his rallies. And, remember, an enthusiastic vote for Elizabeth Warren is worth every bit as much as an unenthusiastic vote for someone like Joe Biden --

HARLOW: There you go.

KAPUR: -- so the numbers are what matter here.

HARLOW: That's interesting.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You heard Elizabeth Warren there, saying, you know, the crowd might say I'm thinking too big, I'm working too hard, you know, et cetera. But the real concern you hear from some Democratic Party folks is that she's too left, right? For the general election? That while this might appeal in the primaries, in the general, their concern is to whether she could beat Donald Trump, particularly in those swing states.

KAPUR: Right. Jim, this is an obstacle she has faced and she will continue to face. A number of recent Democratic nominees, going back to probably Bill Clinton in the '90s, took a more center-left approach after major landslide defeats that Democrats had in the 1980s, some of which were with left-wing candidates.

Democrats have tried to stay away from that. And Elizabeth Warren is arguing -- and Bernie Sanders is also arguing -- that the game has changed, that it's now a base turnout election, that it's about mobilizing your supporters, that the universe of swing voters has shrunk pretty dramatically.

And her view is to inspire lots of voters who maybe didn't show up in 2016, and turn out new voters who believe that neither party is working for them. And, in her view, the way to do that is a big, far- reaching, transformative and disruptive agenda.

HARLOW: So, Sahil, you write in your piece, quote, "Democrats love to nominate brainiacs, and that's good for Elizabeth Warren." To Jim's good point about swing states and states she's going to have to win, and some of the Rust Belt states, right?

What she doesn't play up at all or really talk about at all, is the fact that she was a Republican for a really long time, until the mid- '90s, and the bankruptcy process, and seeing what American families were going through, fundamentally shifted her view. But isn't that something that could help her maybe, maybe in a primary against a Joe Biden, and certainly, you would think, perhaps, in a general? To show those people, hey, I may be a little bit more like you than you think. KAPUR: Yes. She really isn't talking about her Republican past, as

you can imagine. A lot of Democrats don't want to hear that. But in a general election, this is a really key point that you bring up because both campaigns -- the Trump campaign and, you know, Democratic operatives -- believe that the whole race is going to come down to a handful of swing states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Take Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. There are a couple of different ways that Democrats can make up the margins they lost in 2016. One is through the white working class, to flip some of those voters who supported President Obama in 2012 and moved to President Trump. And the other way to do that is by boosting African-American turnout.

If, in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee and Philadelphia, African- American turnout was what it was in 2012, then Hillary Clinton would be president. So there are a number of different ways that Democrats can go about winning those states. And, again, this is a contrast between Elizabeth Warren's message of inspiring and turning out more people, and Joe Biden's message of flipping those people back who supported President Obama.

SCIUTTO: Well, Donald Trump was in New Mexico --

HARLOW: Oh, yes.

SCIUTTO: -- trying (ph) to flip that red. And we'll see if he's got numbers that indicate to him (ph) that's possible.

HARLOW: They think he does, his team, right?

SCIUTTO: Sahil Kapur, thanks very much.


For the second time in less than six months, Israelis are voting in an election that will determine who will be their next prime minister. Can Benjamin Netanyahu hang on to power?


SCIUTTO: We have some very sad news to share. "ABC News" is now reporting that legendary journalist Cokie Roberts has died. She was a longtime Washington reporter, she was co-host of "ABC This Week" for years. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

I'm going to read briefly from a statement from James Goldston, he's president of "ABC News." "Cokie Roberts will be dearly missed. Cokie's kindness, generosity, sharp intellect and thoughtful take on the big issues of the day made ABC a better place, and all of us better journalists." ABC says that her death was due to complications from breast cancer.

[10:40:03] She was a groundbreaking female journalist. She was a legend in the business. She was also an author, she wrote books about the Civil War, she wrote books about the women who took part in the founding of this nation. She was also a friend and mentor to many journalists, including myself. This is sad news to hear, about Cokie, and we send our best to her family.

HARLOW: Of course we do. Such a voice on NPR.

All right. In Israel, make-or-break election day for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Polls there close in just a few hours, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. And by midnight Eastern time, we'll know, likely, if he is going to hold onto power.

SCIUTTO: It's a very tight race. If elected, Netanyahu, we should note, has pledged to annex parts of the West Bank, even though it would seriously endanger, perhaps end the possibility of a two-state solution.

His rival, former military general Benny Gantz, says that Netanyahu is simply a danger to democracy. We're joined now by Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator for the State Department, and CNN global affairs analyst.

So, Aaron, you've been involved in some very difficult negotiations trying to resolve this issue, peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. What would the significance be of Netanyahu to retain power after making such a threat, to annex parts of the West Bank, in effect put a nail in the coffin, you might say, to a two-state solution?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Jim, I've given up most of my illusions about Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, but I haven't really given up hope.

And I think even though the threat to a two-state solution is nothing short of profound, I think the re-election of the prime minister, and the Jordan Valley annexation, frankly, is quite popular in Israel. Even Benny Gantz, his opponent, won't challenge it.

But that's 30 percent of the West Bank. And, combined with all the facts on the ground and the difficult issues and the tough positions adopted by both Mr. Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, you have a serious, serious threat to the prospects of separating Israelis and Palestinians through negotiations.

If Mr. Netanyahu is re-elected, however, whether or not he annexes the Jordan Valley or the West Bank, I suspect that it's not only going to be five minutes to midnight on the two-state solution, I think we're going to be past midnight.


MILLER: So there's a lot at stake here for peace, and for the future direction of Israeli democracy --


MILLER: -- relations with the American Jewish community. This is probably the most pivotal, consequential and uncertain election in Israel's political history.

HARLOW: Well, and one, Aaron, they could also end in a constitutional crisis for them. I mean, if neither Benny Gantz nor Benjamin Netanyahu are able to form a coalition, then what happens?

MILLER: Well, you know, Poppy, Israel doesn't have a formal written constitution. But I've heard this referred to --

HARLOW: Right.

MILLER: -- by the Israeli chattering classes as essentially a constitutional crisis.

I think the president of Israel, Mr. Rivlin, will go to extreme lengths if, in fact, there's a deadlock, to try to persuade and prevent a return to what now seems unimaginable, but quite possible. That this will end with neither of the major parties being able to cross 61, to put together a government. Israel will have been without a functioning duly elected government for well over a year, and elections probably wouldn't happen until early 2020.

So that's an outcome, I think, that everyone --


MILLER: -- will try to avoid.

SCIUTTO: You also have this personal interest of the Israeli prime minister, accused of corruption, who, if he wins, has threatened to, in effect, change the law to protect himself. Tell us about the significance of that for the rule of law in this country.

MILLER: I mean, you know, the issue of parliamentary immunity is one thing. And I think if Mr. Netanyahu attains (ph) 61 votes, that's going to pass.

TEXT: Netanyahu Facing At Least 3 Corruption Probes: 1. Allegedly offering regulatory benefits to telecom executive for better media coverage; 2. Allegedly offering help to newspaper owner in exchange for better media coverage; 3. Allegedly accepting $280,000 worth of champagne, cigars, other gifts

MILLER: But there is a supreme court in Israel, and an independent judiciary. What would likely happen, if he attains a majority, is that he will introduce legislation to prevent the supreme court from overturning duly regulated legislation passed by the Knesset. So that would open the door, it seems to me, to a slippery slope that would compromise one of the few remaining checks and balances on Mr. Netanyahu's power.

But, again, he's fighting not just for his political life, but for his freedom. And if faced with an existential crisis, he's likely to say or do anything in order to stay out of prison.

HARLOW: Just shows how high the bar is, here, on multiple fronts. Aaron David Miller -- the stakes are, I should say -- Aaron David Miller, great analysis. Thank you so much.


Quick break, we'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: Today, President Trump heads to California, where he is expected to discuss his administration's plan to take on that state's homeless crisis.

HARLOW: About a quarter of the country's homeless population lives in California. Our Dan Simon has the story of one man who just exemplifies how complex this crisis is.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since he was a young boy in Texas, Shawn Pleasants had promise. A valedictorian in high school, he got into Harvard but chose Yale, majoring in economics. Wall Street beckoned, then came his own business.


SHAWN PLEASANTS, HOMELESS IN LOS ANGELES: My own -- all of my decisions and choices, good and the bad.

SIMON (voice-over): Today, he is homeless, living on the streets of Los Angeles.

SIMON: It means it could happen to anybody?

PLEASANTS: It could happen to anybody. No one -- it's not someone else's problem. It's a problem we all could face.

SIMON (voice-over): Amid squabbles with his cofounders, the income dried up. And then he lost his rock: his mother, and the problems got worse.

He is one of 60,000 homeless in the County of Los Angeles.

PLEASANTS: You'll find musicians, you'll find -- you know, there's the photographer over there. The problem is with the cost of housing.

SIMON (voice-over): They all live in a small tent city in L.A.'s Koreatown neighborhood, dwarfed by gentrification that has taken over the area.

A quarter of the nation's homeless now live in California, from L.A.'s Skid Row to the streets of San Francisco. Drug needles litter the sidewalks, and crews are routinely dispatched to clean up human waste, mere blocks away from some of the biggest tech companies in the world. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What they are doing to

our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country --

SIMON (voice-over): President Trump may be on the verge of a major crackdown. According to "The Washington Post," he is considering a directive to have the tents swept up, with the homeless moved to an unused government building. Critics point out that such an action would not only be illegal, but counterproductive.

MIKE DICKERSON, KTOWN FOR ALL: The idea that we're going to force people into a facility that's probably located in a very remote area, is not a solution.

SIMON (voice-over): Mike Dickerson cofounded a homeless advocacy group. He says a better solution for Trump would be figuring out how to build more affordable housing and providing better services, whether it's mental health or connecting people to jobs.

DICKERSON: Often, it is not framed as an issue of compassion, of trying to get people housed, but more as an issue of, we need to get these tents off the street.

SIMON: How would it strike you if all this stuff was just kind of removed, you folks were taken to some other place?

PLEASANTS: Then I would leave that other place immediately.

SIMON (voice-over): Shawn, 52 years old and married to another homeless man, doesn't want to be confined by the rules of a shelter.

SIMON: You just stretch your body?


SIMON: This is where you sleep?

SIMON (voice-over): He has both a laptop and a cell phone. He's been occupying this space in Koreatown for six years, and has been homeless for a decade. He admits to being a regular meth user.

But spending just a few hours with Shawn, he still possesses that intellectual curiosity that took him to the Ivy League.

PLEASANTS: I would prefer to be somewhere where I can still go to the library when I want to, and go there and do the things I need to do.

SIMON (voice-over): But then there's the reality of life on the streets.

PLEASANTS: Every time you sleep, that's when you lose. That's when people come and take your things. I'm a heavy sleeper, I lose a lot.


SIMON: I spoke to Sean Pleasants' family. They have repeatedly tried to help him over the years, but he has rebuffed those efforts. Just shows you how difficult these issues can be for the homeless and their families.

As for President Trump intervening, what local officials will tell you, including the mayor of San Francisco, that they welcome federal resources. But simply taking people and putting them in a warehouse or some other place, without adding additional housing, is really not a workable solution -- Jim and Poppy --


SCIUTTO: Dan, we're so glad you did that story.

HARLOW: That was amazing.

SCIUTTO: Just reminds folks, these are people like you and me. And everyone has a story, as to how they end up there. Dan Simon, thanks very much.


Still ahead this hour, three masked teens, shot and killed outside a home near Atlanta. Why authorities say the man who pulled the trigger may have had the legal right to do so.


HARLOW: All right. Developing this morning, three Georgia teens are dead after they were shot by a homeowner in a possible case of stand your ground.

SCIUTTO: An alarming story. CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher joins us with more. Dianne, and I know a lot of things aren't a hundred percent clear, but what do we know about what happened here?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So according to the Rockdale County Sheriff, on Monday morning at 4:00 a.m., three teens who were covering their faces with masks, approached a home in Conyers, Georgia.

There were three people outside. The sheriff says that one of the teens fired at those people. They believe this may have been an attempted robbery. They say that the homeowner then returned fire. He shot and killed all three of those teenagers.

Now, there are still a lot of questions here. Again, this happened at 4:00 in the morning on Monday. Somebody who knew those teens, talked to our affiliate, here in Atlanta, about just how they think about this situation here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand one shot to stop the people, the victims or whatever. But aggressively to shoot these little teens, that's overkill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sad. You shouldn't risk your life for nothing like that because you can't get it back. Now they're gone, and it's sad.


GALLAGHER: And it is. And, look, we're talking one 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds here, Jim, Poppy. At this point, the sheriff's office says that no charges have been filed. They are still interviewing that homeowner and talking to the other two people who were in the front yard, and the neighbors around there, just a lot questions about this whole situation right now. But still, three teenagers who died and a lot of questions.


HARLOW: Please keep us posted, Dianne. Thank you for that reporting.

And thank you all for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.


SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.