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U.S. May Bring Tanks and Troops to Eastern Syria; Quinnipiac Poll Finds Elizabeth Warren in Lead; Peter Navarro Won't Deny Joe Biden Mention in Trade Negotiations with China. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:31:02]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: New this morning, as President Trump claims there has been a, quote, "great outcome" in Syria following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the ongoing situation there.

This is according to a brand-new CNN poll. And despite the president's claim that ISIS is defeated, almost 70 percent of Americans are worried that our policy in Syria will lead to a re- emergence of that terrorist group.

Meanwhile, we have learned in the last hour, the U.S. may start moving battle tanks and troops into eastern Syria soon, to protect the American forces still stationed there. That is according to a defense official familiar with the plan. It's not clear if it has final approval, but preparations are under way.

Let's go to my colleague Nick Paton Walsh. He joins me this morning in neighboring Iraq with the latest from the ground. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is extraordinary how complex the U.S. mission, frankly, is here. It was clear when they withdrew initially -- we watched it ourselves over the weekend -- that this convoy would likely be mostly stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan, but that's been made more complex by the Iraqi government saying that they thought they were just passing through.

Now, we have this development report our of our Pentagon team, that essentially there'll have to be armor headed in the direction of those oil fields where the U.S. accept they're going to keep several hundred troops to protect the oil fields. But really, frankly, to maintain a presence against the resurgence of ISIS there.

That is fairly understandable, given that those hundred or so would be relatively isolated down in that pocket of Syria, distant from larger forces elsewhere in the region. So a sort of difficult balance being played here between the general message of withdrawal and the fact that that simply hasn't actually been really happening in the pace people would like.

In terms of on the ground, you have to look at this sort of continued ceasefire, which President Donald Trump announced yesterday as being sort of permanent. There seem to be signs of it shattering in some ways. Turkey said five of its soldiers have been wounded by Syrian Kurds, and the Syrian Kurds say they've also been -- continued to be attacked in a variety of villages.

It's hard to tell, really, at what point it becomes clear the ceasefire has completely collapsed and all sides accept that, or whether this is what U.S. officials have consistently sort of said in the Trump administration, that we see intermittent fires here and there.

But it's a dangerous window we're into here now, certainly, because it's obvious the U.S. is not entirely leaving Syria for the interest it has to protect. And it's going to have to continue to send assets to make those troops safer. But at the same time, we see the Russian influence in the deal with Turkey not necessarily leading to an immediate -- a cessation of hostilities. Dangerous days ahead, Poppy.

HARLOW: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for being in Erbil for us this morning. We appreciate the reporting.

[10:33:41]

All right. To U.S. politics now. The race between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren may be much closer than previously thought. We're going to break down numbers from yet another new poll, polls that have both hopefuls at the top of the pack.

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HARLOW: All right, welcome back. A new national poll in the 2020 race is out, showing Senator Elizabeth Warren taking the lead over Vice President Joe Biden by seven points there. This comes just days after a CNN poll showed Biden on top, proving this race could not get much closer.

Let's go to CNN's Jeff Zeleny, he has the latest. It's interesting to see the difference between the CNN poll a day or so ago, and then this poll. I suppose one's good news for one, one's good news for the other.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, good morning. I mean, this is why we do not, you know, base all of our judgment and guidance on one poll, we look at a variety of polls. And more particularly, we look at state polls. So these national polls have a value to show, you know, sort of the overall shape of the race, but they're not intended to be predictive in any form.

And Senator Elizabeth Warren, you know, certainly, you know, for months now has been a frontrunner, a co-frontrunner. Now she, in some polls like this one, is considered the frontrunner. But she also, you know, has Joe Biden right up there with her. So that is what you can see.

And she has been strong in this particular poll, in this Quinnipiac poll. She was actually at 30 percent in their last poll, so she hasn't really grown that much, she's, you know, fallen just a little bit in the margin of error.

But what should voters take away from all this? They should take away the fact that that is the overall shape of the poll, but it is the state numbers, those Iowa polls, New Hampshire polls, South Carolina polls --

HARLOW: Yes.

ZELENY: -- that still show her and Joe Biden, you know, pretty much at the top. And this also shows that Bernie Sanders is still below her at a national level. And he's a national candidate more than any other person in this race, of course, after running before.

[10:40:04]

So the dynamic I look at there are the Warren-Sanders dynamic and how that's going to play out here over the next --

HARLOW: Yes.

ZELENY: -- I think 103 days until Iowa.

HARLOW: Just 103 days, Zeleny.

ZELENY: Right.

HARLOW: Before you go, speaking of Iowa, speaking of Senator Amy Klobuchar from the neighboring state of Minnesota, you know --

ZELENY: Right.

HARLOW: -- the question is, how is she going to fare in Iowa. But right now, good news for her. She's going to make it on the debate stage in November.

ZELENY: She is. Only -- you know, it's the only time that 3 percent in the poll is viewed, you know, as a moment of celebration --

HARLOW: Yes.

ZELENY: -- but for Senator Klobuchar, it is because that means that she now has reached the level of polls that you need by the DNC to make that debate stage in November, later in November in Georgia. So that is essential for her. She of course had a very strong debate performance in Ohio, really questioning Senator Warren about how she'll pay for her plan.

I was out (ph) with Senator Klobuchar over last weekend, and she, you know, was certainly getting a renewed look from a lot of voters who liked what they were hearing. So she will make that debate stage, which is crucial for all this.

And, Poppy, you'll like this, you're from Minnesota. She calls herself the senator from next door. And of course, that's worked for some Iowa candidates in the past --

HARLOW: Yes, it has.

ZELENY: -- Barack Obama was next door to the east, she's just above Iowa. So we'll see if it plays out.

HARLOW: Yes. It's going to be interesting, where people go when they learn more about her and her story --

ZELENY: Right.

HARLOW: -- and there a lot of things, you know, that are, you know, sort of appeal to similar people who may be in the Biden camp --

ZELENY: For sure.

HARLOW: -- so we'll see how this all plays out. Jeff, thank you very much.

ZELENY: Sure, Poppy.

HARLOW: Joining me now is Daniel Strauss, "Politico" -- politics reporter for "Politico." Hey, Daniel, good morning.

DANIEL STRAUSS, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Good morning.

HARLOW: Let's actually start there with Amy Klobuchar. What do you think this means for her? Is this a blip, or is this someone who's going to keep rising and who's going to be the sort of more moderate alternative to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders?

STRAUSS: I mean, look, it's -- she's definitely shown a level of staying power here, the fact that she has qualified for all these debates while other candidates -- some better known, some with profiles that are equally competitive in this primary -- have struggled. And the fact that she is increasingly competing with former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a sort of moderate lane as a counter to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

So the fact that we're talking about her and that she's in there, shows that I think she'll be around for a little while.

HARLOW: All right. Let's talk about the two frontrunners in this newest poll. It's got Warren with a seven-point lead over Joe Biden. As you know, the CNN poll showed Biden at 34 percent with a much broader lead against Warren.

But just big picture here, if you're Bernie Sanders, what are you thinking of these numbers?

STRAUSS: I mean, you're thinking that increasingly, this is becoming a crowded primary. Senator Sanders has remained near the front of the pack, but the question is whether he can expand beyond his section of the Democratic primary that loves Bernie Sanders.

HARLOW: Right. STRAUSS: He has a very devoted following that can buoy him in both fundraising and polling. But the question is, can he reach out to more centrist Democrats that he needs to clinch the nomination?

HARLOW: Biden, although leading by a long shot in the CNN poll and being in the top two in this newest poll today, does he have a money problem? When you looked at those FEC numbers, you know, $9 million in the bank, way less than any of his leaving rivals. He outspent, you know, what he had raised in the last quarter. His team, they came on the show, they're not worried at all about this but should they be? And what should it tell all of us?

STRAUSS: I mean, look, it shows that former Vice President Joe Biden has a money problem when it comes to small-dollar donations. He's never had an issue with bringing in or rallying around big donors and big-name donors. But he has lagged behind both Sanders, Warren and even Mayor Buttigieg in those small-dollar donations.

And right now, this is kind of new ground for political observers because we haven't seen candidates raise this competitively by leaning so forcefully on small-dollar donations. But the fact that --

HARLOW: Right.

STRAUSS: -- former Vice President Biden is being outraised in multiple quarters shows that there is a question to be answered here.

HARLOW: All right. Senator Cory Booker with a very clear message to everyone right now. Here it is.

Oh, let me read it. Sorry. Thought it was going to play.

STRAUSS: Oh, yes.

HARLOW: "To those Democrats who are looking for an alternative right now, I want to make the case today very directly: look no further."

He is basically saying to Biden supporters, do you want to hedge your bet? Go with me.

STRAUSS: Right. And, look, this is the bet that both the Booker campaign and other campaigns have been making lately, which is that as Biden struggles, as he's shown that he can't completely clear the field, voters are hungry for some kind of viable alternative to at least the familiar faces out there.

[10:45:04]

But Senator Booker has really struggled to have that moment, that big sort of exact moment where he stands out from the rest of the pack. I think the biggest sort of news moment for him in the past little while, was when his campaign manager said that we are going to have to end this campaign unless we reach some amount of --

HARLOW: Right.

STRAUSS: -- donations. And he was able to get there, but that's -- I don't think that's a trick that they can do more than once.

HARLOW: Yes. Sort of worked once.

STRAUSS: Yes.

HARLOW: Daniel Strauss, thanks my friend. Appreciate it.

STRAUSS: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. So stick around for this. Jim's not here today, you know why? Because he's doing a very important interview at CNN's "CITIZEN" event. He just sat down for a wide-ranging interview with White House trade advisor Peter Navarro.

This is an all-day forum, designed to discuss issues that matter to all of us Americans the most. When asked if the Trump administration has ever brought up investigating Joe Biden or his son Hunter in negotiations with China, here is how Navarro responded.

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PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: You don't have a right to know what happens behind closed doors in the administration. And the only way that's --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I think the American people have a right to --

NAVARRO: Hang on.

SCIUTTO: -- know if politics have entered trade negotiations.

NAVARRO: Hey, hang on. Let me just -- let me just answer this. I mean, the problem that I've seen over the last three years in Washington is that there's just too many stories that are reported based on anonymous sources --

SCIUTTO: Oh, let's not go there.

NAVARRO: -- and inevitably get it wrong. So I don't know --

SCIUTTO: Well --

NAVARRO: -- do we want to spend this time doing that?

SCIUTTO: I'm asking you a direct question. Did you bring up investigating the Bidens --

NAVARRO: It's not an appropriate question --

SCIUTTO: -- as part of the negotiations?

NAVARRO: -- in my judgment.

SCIUTTO: Why not?

NAVARRO: You're asking me what happens in the White House behind closed doors, negotiations --

SCIUTTO: I'm asking if politics have entered --

NAVARRO: I'm not going to tell you --

SCIUTTO: -- the sphere of international relations here.

NAVARRO: Jim, asked and answered.

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HARLOW: But not answered. Great job to Jim on that. You can see a lot more of that interview online. You can, in fact, stream the entire "CITIZEN by CNN" event right now on CNN.com.

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

TEXT: What to Watch... Now, "CITIZEN by CNN" Conference; 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Rep. Elijah Cummings lies in state on Cap Hill; 4:30 p.m. Eastern, President Trump presents Medal of Freedom

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HARLOW: Up next, a massive wildfire in California, growing by thousands of acres in just a few hours. People trying to evacuate their homes right now. We'll take you to the scene, live.

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[10:52:31]

HARLOW: A wildfire about 80 miles north of San Francisco is raging out of control. The Kincade fire has grown to 10,000 acres and forced about 1,700 people to evacuate their homes. Right now there is zero containment.

My colleague Dan Simon is there in Sonoma County. He is following all of this. Dan, what are you seeing?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, Poppy. This has been a very fast-moving wildfire. You can see these fire crews behind me. We are just next to a vineyard here, and you can see some of these trees caught fire, you can see some logs here.

And fire crews, just doing whatever they can to kind of put this blaze out because with these fierce winds that we've been seeing, an ember could produce more spot fires in the area, and they're just trying to do what they can to get this particular fire out. But, Poppy, it has been incredibly dangerous. Gusts, 60 miles per hour or so. And at this point, at least one structure has been destroyed.

But I have to tell you, this whole area, Poppy, the power is out. And PG&E cut the power yesterday as a precautionary move. We don't know what ignited this blaze, we don't know if a PG&E power line may have gone down. But we know it is in the zone where the power apparently went out. But PG&E is investigating. So we know that most of Northern California right now, under a red

flag warning. We know that the winds are expected to die down sometime this afternoon, so that is good news. But in the meantime you can see, this is what we're dealing with as these winds just continue to push this blaze throughout Sonoma County. Poppy, we'll send it back to you.

HARLOW: OK. Dan Simon, wow. Thinking about you, your team, everyone on the ground there. Thank you very much for bringing that to us. We'll keep everyone posted.

Also, at any moment, the formal arrival ceremony begins at the U.S. Capitol, where the late Congressman Elijah Cummings will lie in state as congressional leaders, colleagues and the public pay their respects.

Cummings is the first African-American lawmaker to have this honor, to lie in state at the Capitol. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to speak there this morning. Following the memorial, the public will be allowed in for a viewing. You see the hearse right there, the casket about to come out.

Tomorrow, former Presidents Obama and Clinton will speak at Elijah Cummings' funeral, which will be held at his home church in Baltimore, Maryland. Of course, he's the son of pastors and sharecroppers. Also, Hillary Clinton and Speaker Pelosi will give remarks as well tomorrow.

[10:55:08]

Cummings represented his hometown of Baltimore for more than two decades. He was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of the three committees leading on the impeachment inquiry of the president right now.

He was a devoted Civil Rights champion. He talked so much about the future that we are leaving our children, and fought so hard on prescription drug pricing. We will remember him as he is honored today. As a tribute to Cummings, no votes scheduled on the House floor today. We'll continue to watch that.

Thank you so much for being with me today. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" is next.

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