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Democratic Candidate Campaign in Iowa; Cory Booker Announces Need to Raise $1.7 Million in 10 Days to Continue Presidential Campaign; New England Patriots Release Wide Receiver Antonio Brown; Jeffrey Epstein Accuser States Prince Andrew Had Sex with Her When She was Underage; Report Indicates President Trump Repeatedly Pressured Ukrainian President to Investigate Joe Biden's Son Hunter Biden; Whistleblower Files Complaint that President Trump Made Troubling Promise to Foreign Leader; U.S. Deploys Troops to Saudi Arabia; Mark Zuckerberg Visits Lawmakers on Capitol Hill; Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy Officially Announces Senate Candidacy. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 21, 2019 - 10:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you and welcome to the weekend. It is Saturday, September 21st. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: So Democratic hopefuls in force this hour at the Iowa steak fry. This is a crucial state if they're going to get some traction here with voters, have any hope of winning the party nomination. It starts here.

BLACKWELL: It is make-or-break for one candidate in particular. Just minutes ago Senator Cory Booker's campaign released a memo stating they need to raise $1.7 million in 10 days if they're going to stay in the race. CNN political reporter Arlette Saenz is in Des Moines with the latest. And Arlette, since the release of that memo, we've seen tweets from Senator Booker saying this is not a stunt.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Victor. Cory Booker's campaign manager putting out this memo warning that they need to raise more money in order to stay viable in this race. And Cory Booker a short while ago actually tweeted saying "It's an unusual move for a campaign like ours to be this transparent, but there can be no courage without vulnerability. I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory, but I can't walk it alone." They are warning that right now these next 10 days are really going to be defining, a make-or-break moment for their campaign, determining whether or not they can actually stay in this race.

Pretty soon the DNC is going to be raising the threshold for the next -- not the next debate, but the debate that's going to take place in November, potentially raising the donor threshold as well as the polling thresholds. So candidates like Cory Booker right now are really entering this crunch time period, trying to make sure that their campaigns are viable and that they can continue moving forward.

Now, we are here at the Polk County Steak Fry at the Cory Booker event just before the steak fry. He's actually going to be speaking to supporters and then marching over, so potentially we might be hearing from the candidate himself in just a few hours. Victor and Christi?

PAUL: Arlette Saenz, glad to have you there, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about this and the 2020 headlines with Harry Enten, CNN senior political writer and analyst. Harry, good morning to you. In addition to the fundraising problems, challenges that Cory Booker is having, he's never really cracked into the top tier of candidates. Talk about some of these polling numbers we have.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, so -- good morning, by the way. If you take a look at the average of polls in the state of Iowa since the last Democratic debate, what you essentially see is a top tier between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker is just not anywhere near that at all. You see that he's not in the top six, he's below five percent at this point. And so yes, I could buy that appeal. If he's basing his campaign on Iowa, he's nowhere close to the leaders at this point. In fact, what you really have is just the top two between Warren and Biden, then Sanders and Buttigieg a little bit below that, and then Klobuchar and Harris making up a third tier. And basically despite the fact that we have, say, a nearly 20-candidate race, right now at this point it's just a two-candidate race, at least in Iowa.

BLACKWELL: So what does a lead at this point, still five months out from the caucuses, what does that mean?

ENTEN: So I went back all the way since 1980 and collected all the polling data that I could and said, OK, essentially, if you were polling at x point, how often do you win the Iowa caucuses. And what we essentially see is that it's really in some ways a wide-open race because at this point if, say, you're polling at 25 percent like Elizabeth Warren, you only go on to win the caucuses about 30 percent of the time. If you're polling around 20 percent like Joe Biden, you only win about 20 percent of the time. And so there's still this large chunk of the electorate that is still undecided or at least could go certain different ways.

And so all these candidates like the Bookers, like the Harrises, like Klobuchars, and including some of the people who are even polling lower than that, they still have a shot here. We're still five months away. So even if you have favorites right now, that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be favorites come the caucuses in February.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk tickets out of Iowa. Typically, it's two, maybe three. It is different this year because there's so many candidates if they reach February?

ENTEN: I don't think so. If you look back, as you were hinting at, go all the way back since 1972 like I did and essentially say, OK, the eventual nominee, how did they finish in Iowa, pretty much all of them either finished first, second, or third. The plurality finished first. There was just one who finished fourth back, that was McCain back in 2008, but that was described with a virtual tie with Fred Thompson. So it's not surprising that folks like Kamala Harris are moving to Iowa, staking their campaign on it, saying there are basically three tickets out of Iowa, because based on history there really are three tickets out of Iowa. So candidates like Booker who are polling below five percent at this point, they really do need to up their game if they want to have any shot of winning the nomination.


BLACKWELL: Harry Enten, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist for the Democratic National Committee. Robert, good to have you back.


BLACKWELL: So let's start first with Cory Booker. He's tweeted in just the last few minutes, this is not an end of the quarter stunt. This is a real unvarnished look under the hood of our campaign at a level of transparency unprecedented in presidential politics. And $1.7 million this memo says he needs in 10 days or they don't see a legitimate path forward, never really cracked into the top tier. Is the writing on the wall for Senator Booker?

ZIMMERMAN: Either it's a bold political stunt to galvanize his supporters, or it's a Hail Mary pass. We're going to find out by September 30th. But it's very obvious that he is sounding an alarm, and clearly it's not just about the low polling numbers, it's just about being able to qualify for the debates, being able to raise the money and show he's got the broad support to keep in the debates and keep his candidacy alive. You're seeing candidates drop out from the overall election once they realize they can't even make it to the debate process. So it's a bold play by him to stay viable.

BLACKWELL: But based on the numbers we've seen, both polling and fundraising at the end of the second quarter and the polling that continuing, he may be taking this method to try to raise some money, but there's probably a long list of candidates who are facing this same urgency.

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, absolutely, there's no question. You saw Mayor de Blasio drop out yesterday. You're going to see others. As the standards get tougher going into the next debate, going into November's debate and January debate, as the standards get tougher to qualify, you're going to see more and more candidates drop away. That's just the reality of the process. But Iowa certainly is a very important determinant in terms of who can move forward.

BLACKWELL: So let's broaden the conversation now to Iowa and Senator Kamala Harris. Early on she prioritized South Carolina with a surge of visits there, and now she's f'ing moving to Iowa. If you want to know why I said that, just Google "f'ing moving to Iowa."

ZIMMERMAN: That's what she said.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's what she said. She's doubled her staff, doubled her offices there. We can all see the polls. But for people who are -- the big fundraisers, does this look like panic or focus?

ZIMMERMAN: A bit of both quite frankly. Clearly her campaign has stalled. It's also important for people to understand that in the 43 years of the Iowa caucus, since the Iowa caucus was created, our nominee has always won either Iowa and/or New Hampshire, with only one exception, 1992 and Bill Clinton. So winning Iowa or New Hampshire has been defining to be the nominee. And in Iowa, they value, they treasure, they expect personal one-on-one attention. They expect you to be in their living room having their Jell-O roll. The Polk County Steak Fry coming up with I think it's about 10,500 steaks that are being grilled. And of course, we're Democrats, there will be vegan options too.

BLACKWELL: There will have to be for Senator Booker.

ZIMMERMAN: That's for sure.

BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here, because you bring up that personal retail, hand-to-hand, face-to-face type of politics, but according to "The Des Moines Register," and we've got pictures from supporters outside of the Polk County Steak Fry, the top five national candidates at least, only Bernie Sanders cracks the top 10 in the number of visits to the state or events held around the state. You've got at the very top there John Delaney, who at the latest Iowa Monmouth poll is at one percent. Amy Klobuchar, who is behind that, pretty low. So really how much does it matter, if this is what we're seeing with the most events, they seem to have the least support. Reconcile that.

ZIMMERMAN: Trust me, it matters. Now, maybe if you're not a viable candidate it's going to matter a lot less. Jim Delaney could move there and take up citizenship and pay his taxes there, it's not going to make much of a difference to his candidacy. You have to be a viable candidate, but you've got to show you're engaged.

I also wanting to remind our folks who are new to the caucus process, it's a very intense, highly organized process. For example, you're going to see people starting this month buying snow shovels in the hardware stores so they're prepared for the February 3rd date in case there's a blizzard or a snowstorm. And you're going to see that type of intense focus to bring out people. It's not like a normal election where people go to their local polling places. People have to meet at designated hours. And then they meet in the caucus, and then they negotiate their votes with their fellow members of their caucus. So it's very intense. And by the way, if it's a Democratic leader with a hardware store, that's where you're going to buy your snow shelves.

BLACKWELL: Robert Zimmerman, always good to have you.

ZIMMERMAN: Great to be with you again.

BLACKWELL: All right, Christi?

PAUL: Well, it seems that the New England Patriots have had enough. After 11 days, the team has decided to show Antonio Brown the door. The newest allegations against the troubled NFL star that led to his release now.


BLACKWELL: So how was Joe Biden's son, Hunter, pulled to the middle of a whistleblower controversy, and what does the president's phone call with the president of Ukraine have to do with the 2020 race? We'll get into all of it just ahead.

PAUL: Two million alien enthusiasts said they had going to storm Nevada's Area 51. How many people actually decided to raid the highly classified U.S. Air Force facility? We'll talk about it.


PAUL: Well, the New England Patriots have released wide receiver Antonio Brown.

BLACKWELL: In a statement the team said it was best to move in a different direction at this time. Brown is at the center of scandals on and off the field, including allegations of rape and harassment. Earlier we spoke with CNN's sports analyst and "USA Today" sports columnist Christine Brennan.


PAUL: I think a lot of people are wondering where does he go from here? Does he have a future in the NFL?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY" SPORTS COLUMNIST: Certainly not in the short term, at least I hope not, and I think many of us would probably agree. When you've been credibly charged, or the allegations are by two women, Christi, over the last basically 10 days that we found out about who are alleging sexual misconduct, sexual assault, rape even in one case. So what does he do? What's his future?


The NFL issued a very interesting statement late last night, basically saying that they're still investigating and that it could become appropriate to put him on the commissioner's exempt list if another team signs him. So that would mean that a team would sign him and then have to pay him but not be able to use him. So I think the NFL sent out the word that it's probably best right now not to be anywhere near him.

And one would hope that sports fans and teams and coaches alike would say we're part of a community here. It's bigger than just football. He's a great, great wide receiver, don't get me wrong. But in terms of the community and in terms of the message you're sending, especially to women and girls, it's probably a good idea that Antonio Brown not be on the football field for quite some time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Brown addressed his release from the Patriots in a flurry of tweets, thanking the Patriots for the opportunity.

This morning one of Jeffrey Epstein's many accusers has revealed new details of her alleged sexual abuse by Britain's Prince Andrew.

PAUL: Virginia Roberts Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with the prince when she was 17-years-old. There are court documents that show Giuffre accused Epstein of keeping her as a teenage sex slave. Epstein died by suicide in jail back in August, remember. He was awaiting trial on charges that he abused underage girls. Last night Giuffre addressed her claims specifically about Prince Andrew.


VIRGINIA ROBERTS GIUFFRE, SAYS SHE WAS ABUSED BY PRINCE ANDREW: He was an abuser. He was a participant. The first time in London, I was so young. Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and said you're going to meet a prince today. I didn't know at that point that I was going to be trafficked to that prince. And then that night Prince Andrew came to her house in London and we went out to Club Tramp. Prince Andrew got me alcohol. It was in the VIP section. I'm pretty sure it was vodka. Prince Andrew is like let's dance together, and I was like OK. And we leave Club Tramp, and I hop in the car with Ghislaine and Jeffrey. And Ghislaine said he's coming back to the house, and I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein. I couldn't believe it.

He wasn't rude or anything about it. He said, thank you and some kind of soft sentiments like that, and left. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that even royalty were involved. He denies that it ever happened, and he's going to keep denying that it ever happened, but he knows the truth, and I know the truth.


BLACKWELL: Buckingham palace previously released a statement on the accusations against the prince, and it reads this. "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

PAUL: Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy has officially announced that he is running for Senate. We'll tell you who is already endorsing him. We're live in Boston, ahead.

PAUL: And this morning Joe Biden is accusing the president of abusing the powers of his office after he reportedly pressured the Ukrainian president multiple times to dig up dirt on Biden's son, Hunter.



BLACKWELL: This morning President Trump is defending a controversial phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying nothing was said that was in any way wrong.

PAUL: This is all related to that report that President Trump repeatedly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden's son, Hunter, to dig up any alleged inappropriate dealings while Joe Biden was vice president. Sarah Westwood at the White House for us this morning. The president has certainly been tweeting about this this morning. Anybody else reacting, Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Victor and Christi, President Trump continuing to defend himself this morning, calling it a perfectly fine, routine conversation that he had with the Ukrainian president, and he's labelling this whole situation a Ukraine witch hunt, echoing a refrain obviously he used during the Russia investigation.

But of course, this controversy is not going to way for President Trump. A source tells CNN that President Trump in a July phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky asked that he investigate, he being the Ukrainian leader, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden for alleged business dealings in Ukraine. There's no evidence that Trump offered anything in return. But still the president is lashing out at the person who filed a complaint over this interaction to the intelligence committee's watchdog, the president calling that whistleblower partisan yesterday, despite then admitting he doesn't actually know the identity of the whistleblower. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party. But I don't have any idea, but I can say that it was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.


WESTWOOD: That conversation is now the subject of this controversial whistleblower complaint that Democrats in the House are trying to get their hands on, but they are facing roadblocks from the Trump administration. The White House Counsel's Office and the Department of Justice have gotten involved in trying to prevent lawmakers from learning much about the complaint, but House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said yesterday that his committee not stopping in their pursuit of that complaint. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The inspector general found these allegations credible, but he only had 14 days to investigate them. So they deserve a thorough investigation. That's what we're intent on doing, and come hell or high water that's what we're going to do.


WESTWOOD: Now, the intelligence committee watchdog was on Capitol Hill earlier this week talking to lawmakers about the complaint, but he said he wasn't authorized to release many details at all about it. Lawmakers, though, Victor and Christi, could get more answers this week when Acting Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire testifies about the Ukraine situation.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood for us at the White House, thank you.


PAUL: I want to bring in former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer for us. Bob, so good to have you here, thank you. So I want to get your perspective, get into your head about this from an intel standpoint. How serious do you believe this allegation has to be if an actual intel official is pressing that complaint button against the president of the United States?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Christi, it has to be very serious. These complaints don't reach this level unless a crime has been committed. In this case it's the president of the United States going to a foreign country, seeking assistance in the 2020 election. Every day there is a criminal complaint sent to the Department of Justice. Most of them are ignored. But to go up to the DNI level, it's got to be very serious. And it has to be backed up, for instance, with a transcript.

PAUL: So you believe if an intel official is going to bring this to the forefront, they have proper documentation to back up everything they're saying?

BAER: Oh, I -- yes, it can't be just like an ethics violation. That wouldn't reach this level ever. It's got to be proof of a criminal activity, treason, treachery, a crime involving money, and that's how it gets to Congress. And by law it's got to be given to Congress, the complaint.

PAUL: Right, it does. The White House, of course, is trying to thwart that, they're not giving away that information. How likely do you think it is, if at all, that this whistleblower would go straight to Congress? Can they do that, because it certainly wouldn't be protocol?

BAER: He can go to Congress, but what they're going to do is charge him with mishandling classified information. There's that threat will hang over a whistleblower. I was involved in a case. I went directly to Congress. It resulted in the director being removed, this was back in the 90s. But now it's so well-organized that you've got to go to the inspector general, then the DNI, and then to Congress. But clearly the Trump administration has found something in this complaint that is so damning they can't let it get to Congress.

It's probably, I would say, and this is going out on a limb, an impeachable offense. And it's -- and we have to also consider that in calling the Ukrainian president and asking for assistance on what's essentially an election matter, he's opening up every country in the world to come forward and say, listen, we'll help you in the election in 2020. I think this is very, very serious, and the Congress has got to do something about this or we're going to have an election in 2020 that won't be free and fair.

PAUL: The president and some other analysts would argue that there is an awful lot of latitude a president has in terms of the conversations that he can have with a foreign government. To that you say what?

BAER: Well, you can't commit a crime. By asking another country essentially to interfere in elections is a violation of our election laws. There is executive privilege, but it doesn't go beyond the criminal threshold. It just doesn't.

PAUL: So Bob, I want to ask you real quickly, because we had Matthew Chance on earlier from the Ukraine, and he reported that officials there are, quote, mortified that they have been dragged into this. What is at stake beyond what's happening here in the U.S. between the U.S. and the Ukrainian relationship?

BAER: Well, the Ukrainians have always wondered what Trump's relationship to Moscow is. And they have been openly talking -- I've been talking to Ukrainian officials, and they are mortified. And it's well known that this president has been putting a lot of pressure on Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. It's bad. The credibility of the United States is in the scales here, and it's bad for our foreign policy, it's bad for our relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of it. And you have a president that the only thing he cares about is getting reelected and will go to any length to seek support, money or anything else. And that's the message that's going out internationally. The credibility of this country is in question.

PAUL: Bob Baer, we so appreciate having your voice with us this morning. Thank you.

BAER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Breaking news, police are searching for a gunman who killed two people and injured several others. This was at a bar in South Carolina overnight. We're getting some new details. We'll have more on the developments after the break.

PAUL: Also, the U.S. says it's deploying more troops to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. And this is in response to the attack on Saudi oil facilities. The implications of that, straight ahead.

Plus, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is doing damage control while meeting some of his toughest critics in Congress.


Coming up, we're speaking to one of is early mentors about the problems facing the social media giant now.


PAUL: Let's get you some breaking news we're following out of South Carolina right now. Two people are reported dead in a shooting that happened overnight at a sports bar, and nearly a dozen other people are injured. BLACKWELL: The Lancaster Sheriff's Department says this happened just

before 3:00 a.m. at the Old School Sports Bar and Grill in the Twin Pines area of the city of Lancaster. Officers say there was a shooting -- they were shooting inside and outside of the club. There's no suspect in custody, and authorities right now are not sure if there was more than just one shooter.

PAUL: We'll keep you posted as we get more information throughout the day.

Also, the U.S. says it's deploying more troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This of course in response to that attack on Saudi oil facilities. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the attack a, quote, dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression, but made it clear the U.S. does not want conflict with Iran.


BLACKWELL: Esper says the military presence is to help Saudis improve their defense infrastructure. Watch.


MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: What we would be deploying to the theater would be what would be necessary to help support and contribute to the Kingdom's defenses, and at the same time we are calling on many other countries who would also have these capabilities to do two things. First of all, stand up and condemn these attacks, and, secondly, look to also contribute defensive capabilities so we could defend those things I outlined in my remarks, whether it's the infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and then the broader issues with regard to freedom of the seas, navigation in the strait, and then the international rules and norms that Iran is clearly violating.


BLACKWELL: President Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran's central bank and its sovereign wealth funding. Iran denies responsibility for the attack.

PAUL: So this week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came face-to-face with some of his toughest critics.

BLACKWELL: Over Zuckerberg met with members of Congress and President Trump. The trip is coming at a crucial time for Facebook. Lawmakers have called for a probe of tech giants like Facebook and have questioned the company's use of personal data. So with us now is one of Facebook's earliest investors and a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg, Roger McNamee. Roger, thanks for being with us this morning.

ROGER MCNAMEE, CO-FOUNDER, ELEVATION: Pleasure to be here, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Author of "Zucked, Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe." I want to read something from your book there. You write this, "Technology platforms, including Facebook and Google, are beneficiaries of trust and goodwill accumulated over 50 years by earlier generations of technology companies. They have taken advantage of our trust, using sophisticated techniques to prey on the weakest aspects of human psychology." What led you to this conclusion?

MCNAMEE: Victor, it's really simple. I was a longtime fan and supporter of Facebook, mentor to mark and to Sheryl Sandberg. And the problem is beginning in 2016 it became really obvious that Facebook's success was based in large part on their ability to collect data about every one of us and to use it to manipulate, first, our attention, and then, ultimately, our behavior. And we see damage to public health, relative to children and adults. You see damage to democracy, privacy, and also the competition and innovation in the economy.

And those things collectively are not just limited to Facebook. It's also Google, and now increasingly Microsoft and Amazon. And so I felt that somebody who'd spent his entire life in Silicon Valley, that it was my duty to make as many people aware of these issues as possible. That's why I wrote the book, and that's why we're talking today.

PAUL: So I know that earlier this year you also talked to "TIME" magazine, and said you were disappointed, you were embarrassed, you were ashamed of what Facebook had become. How confident are you that Mark Zuckerberg is in a place now where he can actually turn some things around and maybe do some good here, and that he's willing to do so?

MCNAMEE: Christi, this is a really important question. The one thing I will give Mark full credit for, especially this week, is he is really learning how to play politics. I think this was a very successful trip to Washington, notwithstanding the fact that there are still some very, very vocal critics.

But clearly Facebook has issues that need government intervention. Its behavior on privacy has been egregious. Its role in the interference in elections is really something we cannot tolerate. And I look at the issues relative to children and adults on public health, in competition, as being issues that require government intervention. Mark went to Washington to try to get a national -- a federal solution on privacy, because I think he's worried that every state will take a different approach. And I think he's right to be worried. And my great hope is that Congress resists the temptation to move quickly here. I do not think Facebook has made the moves yet. I think what they're doing right now is brilliant politics. This is not actually going to lead us to a great solution in the short run.

BLACKWELL: And your expectation is that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook will not get to a point where it is the Facebook that you expected more than a decade ago without federal regulation?

MCNAMEE: Yes, Victor, the challenge is not that the technology is harmful. I love this product. I think everyone else does too. The problem is a business model that is designed essentially to be deceptive about what they're doing. They know so much more about us than we realize. They use what they know about us to manipulate our choices, to drive us toward outcomes that are really good for them. The problem is those same tools can be used by bad actors. [10:40:00]

Yesterday there was this gigantic set of protests about climate change. One of the biggest barriers to acting on climate change is the fact that climate change deniers can use social media to prevent political action. The same thing is going on with anti-vax and all kinds of extremism. And you can't solve this the way Facebook is approaching it now. You need to change the business model. And Mark is understandably reluctant to do that because it's going to make his earnings be lower.

BLACKWELL: And this is a conversation that has been going on for some team time now. And as you said, this should be a slow process. We'll see when there are some actual regulations. Roger McNamee, it's good to talk with you.

PAUL: Thank you, Roger.

MCNAMEE: Thank you so much. It's great to talk to you guys. Have a great Saturday.

PAUL: You too.

So there are thousands of people in Vegas. That could open up a whole lot of conversation, couldn't it? But these guys are there for Storm Area 51. Only around 200 people made it to the gates of the highly classified Air Force facility. The real question is how many aliens did they see? What do you think?

BLACKWELL: I think I have the number, but it's a tease so we'll save it.

First, in this week's Mission Ahead, an innovative approach to making electricity from the wind inspired by a child's toy.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION CORRESPONDENT: Wind power, it's free, clean, and abundant. But it generates just six percent of the world's electricity. One reason, some of the world's strongest winds are found here out on the ocean where water is too deep for most off shore wind turbines. But a company called Makani believes it has a solution with a new wind technology inspired by a familiar child's toy, the kite.

To me it almost looks like an airplane. What makes it a kite?

FORT FELKER, CEO, MAKANI: When you fly a kite in the park, it's being lifted by the wind, and you're holding onto it with a tether. And so our kite is the same way.

CRANE: Once airborne, Makani's 85-foot long energy kite flies around autonomously, guided by computers. Crosswinds spin eight rotors producing electricity that's sent back to the ground through a tether. And it's carbon-fiber frame makes the kite extremely lightweight.

FELKER: Our energy kites are so lightweight we can install them in deep water on floating platforms.

CRANE: And that means they can capture winds much further offshore where other turbines can't. Last month in Norway Makani successfully completed its first deep water offshore flights, but their kites won't be ready for market for several years.

If your system is widely adopted, what kind of impact do you think it could potentially make?

FELKER: There are many areas around the world that really don't have a good resource for renewable power, but do have offshore wind resource. And so our lightweight kites create the possibility that we could tap that recourse very economically and bring renewable power to hundreds of millions of people.




PAUL: It's 46 minutes past the hour right now. Good to have you here. Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy just officially announced he's running for Senate. He says President Trump has forced a reckoning in America, this is a quote, and how we respond will say everything about who we are.

BLACKWELL: Kennedy will be fighting for Senator Ed Markey's Senate seat in 2020. We should say that Ed Markey is a Democrat. CNN national correspondent Athena Jones joins us from Boston. What else are we hearing from Congressman Kennedy this morning?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor. Well, there was a lot of excitement in the room at this announcement this morning, chants of "let's go, Joe" as he walked in the room greeting people. This is setting up what is going to be a fight between two political powerhouses here. You have got Ed Markey who has been in Congress for longer than Joe Kennedy has been alive. And then you have Kennedy who is a Kennedy, a family there's a lot of love for here in the city of Boston. He's the grandson, of course, of Robert F. Kennedy, the son of former congressman Joe Kennedy II. And here is part of his message in his announcement video. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now is not the time for waiting, for sitting on the sidelines, for playing by rules that don't work anymore or never worked to begin with. Donald Trump has forced a reckoning in America. But meeting this moment requires more than just confronting him. We deserve leaders who will show up where we are, who aren't afraid to break down an old system and build something better, a health care system of salvation, not scarcity, a just economy, absolute civil rights, humane immigration policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: Now, Joe Kennedy says this is going to be about more than a battle of generations. Not just a generational fight, it's going to be an ideological one as well. He's talking about wanting to see big structural changes to fix what he calls a broken system. He's talking about things like term limits for Supreme Court justices to lower the partisan temperature on those confirmation fights, abolishing the electoral college, ending the filibuster.

I asked him how else will he differentiate himself from Senator Markey. Both of them have a reputation as progressive politicians who agree on many issues. And he said they do disagree in a number of ways, one of them has to do with these big structural changes he wants to see. He also said that he has disavowed corporate PAC money and that Senator Markey has not done so.

But of course, as I said, you have Congressman Kennedy at 38, Ed Markey over 70. Some Democrats on Capitol Hill are wondering why Joe Kennedy is in this race. He says it's time for new ideas. Back to you.

PAUL: All right, Athena Jones, thank you.

BLACKWELL: So it is the gift that seems to keep giving. Remember billionaire Robert Smith, the man who promised to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College in Atlanta? His gift got a little bigger. On Friday the college announced that Smith will also cover education loans taken out by the students' parents. His gift is up to now $34 million. According to a release, the average student graduates Morehouse with $35,000 to $40,000 in loan debt.


PAUL: Changing people's lives by that gift. Wow.

So college football Saturday giving us some big games this weekend, and big names, like one Mr. Coy Wire in Florida.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, here we are in Gainesville. We have baby Gators, all kinds of Gators ready for game time. We'll have a game preview coming up after the break.


PAUL: A lot of people were wondering what was going to happen at Area 51. It was a decent turnout, actually, for this event that had gone viral online, even though it started out as a joke. Much anticipated Storm Area 51 event -- 2,000 people flooded into Nevada for the event surrounding last night's raid, but only about 200 of them actually showed up to the main gate there.

BLACKWELL: The local sheriff says two people were arrested for minor issues. Now, there's this also. The U.S. Navy has confirmed that videos purported to show UFOs are real, but a Navy spokesman is calling them unidentified aerial phenomena, not UFOs. So there's that. PAUL: There's that.

All righty, getting started with football, college football. It is a day full of bigtime matchups.

BLACKWELL: Coy Wire is in Gainesville, Florida, for one of the south's fiercest rivals, Tennessee and Florida. Hey, Coy.


WIRE: That's right, Victor and Christi. We are in the beautiful Harmonic Woods. The mayor is here.


WIRE: We're really putting the gators in tailgaters today. But what a matchup for the number nine ranked team in the nation. They're dependent upon a backup quarterback named Kyle Trask. Their starter went down with an injury last week, and now they're depending on this guy who is a grad student, hasn't been a starter since high school. But he has to come in here and help them defeat one of their most bitter rivals, the Tennessee Volunteers. Now, this swamp, the swamp, the stadium, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, gets so loud, it's one of the best venues in college football. I'm here with Dave. What is it like at a swamp on gameday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say it's a very passionate event in which family of all ages get to bring their kids, and so loud you should wear ear protection.

WIRE: There we go, baby gators, grownup gators, it's going to be a great day here in Gainesville. Enjoy. It's one of the best matchups on this beautiful college football Saturday. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: First thing Christi points at, look at the baby with the ear protection.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Coy.

PAUL: I will come baby-sit that child for you just so it doesn't have to have those things on, but it's so cute.

Thank you so much for spending time with us this morning. We so appreciate you. You can always tweet us @Christi_Paul, and @VictorBlackwell. We'd love to see you, and we hope you make good memories today.

BLACKWELL: CNN Newsroom continues with Martin Savidge this Saturday after the break.