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National Weather Service Issues Extreme Red Flag Warnings in California; Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden Almost Tied in New Hampshire in Latest Election Poll; Boeing Hearing Enters Second Day. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Right now, a brand-new brush fire has flared up this morning in Simi Valley, California, threatening neighborhoods and, we should note, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Officials are calling this the easy fire, and they've evacuated the library and several surrounding streets.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All of this as conditions in Southern California are about to get a lot worse: hurricane-force winds strong enough to down power lines and trees are expected in Los Angeles. The National Weather Service, for the first time ever, has issued extreme red flag warnings, predicting winds between 60 and 80 miles an hour.

Our Omar Jimenez joins us on the phone from Los Angeles. And, Omar, you said to us last hour, you had heard reports that this thing was starting, and indeed it has.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, that's right. We were seeing initial reports break out online. And of course, we had that confirmed by the fire department. We're making our way to the scene right now. It's located in Simi Valley, which is just about an hour outside of where we were stationed at the -- at the loading station for the firefighters.

Now, it's called the easy fire. As you mentioned, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is in the center, actually, of the mandatory evacuation zone right now, so you can imagine the threat that it is facing at this moment (ph) --

SCIUTTO: Just -- just so our viewers are aware, that is the Regan Library --


SCIUTTO: -- right there in the video that you're seeing, surrounded by the fire. Go ahead, Omar, because people are seeing images as it happens.

JIMENEZ (via telephone): No, that's right. See the flames, and how much -- again, that broke out just over the course of the past hour and a half or so, you see how much it engulfed just those -- those ridges, surrounding that Simi Valley area.

And, look, we've been talking about it all morning, and officials were really trying to convey the danger that California was going to see, by putting out that extreme red flag warning, that the wind conditions, humidity conditions, temperature were all going to create a perfect storm, so to speak, for fires to break out in places all across this region. And of course, we're seeing that come to fruition in the worst way possible here.

SCIUTTO: So these fires are difficult to contain quickly. I mean, fires that have been burning for days, they still haven't, you know, reached 50 percent under control. How quickly are they able to get to these? Particularly as more of them are popping up, it seems, every day.

JIMENEZ (via telephone): Well, there's a process when -- when fires break out. So, one, it was the initial reports, officials were getting heat signatures on their readings, that a fire was potentially breaking out in the area. So then it became an issue of trying to coordinate, OK, how do we get people out first? Because people are obviously the priority in this, and making sure they're not in danger as crews begin to make their way in.

So we were seeing evacuation orders before Ventura County fire officials, which is where this is happening, were even able to get anyone to the scene. And that is something they are currently trying to assess right now.

And on top of that, the L.A. County Fire Department, which is the neighboring county, has also said they are going to help with this because -- well, for two reasons. One, there is a northeast wind that is blowing, they say, very substantially, that has the potential to take these flames outside of just the Simi Valley area, and make this a regional issue.

So they are trying to make sure that they have resources placed in the right spots so that this doesn't get out of their control and become an even bigger issue. But of course, as you mentioned before, this very scenario is what the fire officials feared in this, and on top of the life preservation, burning so close to a presidential library structure, preservation is also going to be a top priority of (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: And object preservation, what -- you know, all the things inside --

JIMENEZ (via telephone): Correct.

HARLOW: -- of there. Omar, thank you. Great reporting for you and your team. We appreciate it. Overnight, gunfire at a house party has left three people dead and

nine wounded. This happened in Long Beach, California. Police say some of those injuries are life-threatening.

SCIUTTO: All the victims, adults. Police say the shooter left. They do not have a description. They have not released details of what led to this shooting.


Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, getting good news from a new poll in the early voting state of New Hampshire. What this means for the 2020 presidential race, coming up.


SCIUTTO: Senator Elizabeth Warren is wrapping up her two-day swing through New Hampshire with a town hall in Durham this afternoon.

HARLOW: In the latest CNN poll, she polled in a virtual tie for the lead in New Hampshire. CNN political reporter M.J. Lee is in Durham for us. M.J., what does this tell us?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Jim and Poppy, this new CNN New Hampshire poll is showing that the top two progressive candidates in the Democratic field are fighting for the top spot, here in New Hampshire, with Bernie Sanders with 21 percent support and Elizabeth Warren, not far behind at 18 percent support.

And if we dive in a little bit more into the poll, we see that former Vice President Joe Biden, his support has fallen 9 percentage points since this poll was last conducted in July. His support, falling to 15 percent.

And the only other candidate in the field with double-digit support right now in New Hampshire is Pete Buttigieg, with 10 percent support. Everybody else, with 5 percent support or lower, including Kamala Harris, with 3 percent support.


But just a reminder of how fluid things are, just three and a half months out from the New Hampshire primaries, only 23 percent of those polled said that they are firmly decided right now on who they are going to support.

SCIUTTO: You spent a lot of time on the campaign trail, and often that energy in the room at these events can be indicative. What's the mood like in New Hampshire, as Warren's been campaigning there last night?

LEE: Well, you know, last night at this Elizabeth Warren event, Donald Trump was in the air. You know, she often takes three questions, randomly chosen from the audience, at these events. And it was noteworthy that two of those questions last night had to do with Donald Trump and sort of the anxiety about Democrats wanting to defeat Donald Trump next year, one woman asking Senator Warren how she plans on fighting back against Donald Trump and some of the insults that he has thrown her way. Here's how she responded.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My goal is to tap into all of the Americans who are just getting tired of The Donald Trump Show. It's just getting old, and it's getting boring. And that's what's starting to happen. We won't get everybody, I understand that.

But we got a lot of America, a lot more than 50 percent of America, that is tired of the ugliness, that is tired of the name-calling, that is tired of the disgusting behavior.


LEE: Now, looming over all of these candidates, as they're out there campaigning, is of course the impeachment proceedings that are going on in Washington, D.C. Senator Warren, saying last night that she plans on fully participating in the Senate trial whenever that reaches the Senate, even if it happens to be right before the Iowa caucuses -- Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. M.J., that's interesting. Thanks so much.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign is talking with top donors about ways to bolster their fundraising after some pretty soft poll numbers for him there.

SCIUTTO: Here with us now to break it all down, CNN editor at large and politics reporter Chris Cillizza. So you look at the combination of the polls -- national polls, early voting state poll in New Hampshire, but also money-raising --


SCIUTTO: -- for Joe Biden. Not good indicators, any of them.

CILLIZZA: No, that's exactly right, Jim. Look, he's a former vice president of the United States. He spent eight years next to Barack Obama in the White House, he spent 30-plus years in the Senate. He has less than $9 million on hand. What does the mayor of South Bend, Indiana have on hand, you ask? $23 million. That --


CILLIZZA: -- speaks to the problem. Joe Biden has never been a great fundraiser, but he was positioned to raise money in this race as the establishment favorite, and he's not.

And people say, well, money's not determinative. If it was, Jeb Bush would be president.

True, to a point. But it is indicative of energy and organic support. And Joe Biden's small donor numbers don't come close to Elizabeth Warren's or to Bernie Sanders' and that, I think, has to be concerning for them.

HARLOW: You know, that -- I mean, we knew, going into this, even before he announced his run, so much was written about how he doesn't like to fundraise --


HARLOW: -- he just doesn't like it. And now this reversal, that he's going to take super PAC money, he's getting hit from his, you know -- you know, Steve Bullock and others on that. Couple that with the decline. You wrote about this in your comment last night, Chris. I mean, the decline --


HARLOW: -- in his New Hampshire poll numbers.

CILLIZZA: Yes, look. The story of that poll to me is twofold, of our poll. One is, as M.J. noted, lots of people are still wide-open in terms of making their decision. You have a lot of undecided, you have a lot of people who say they're not set on a candidate. That's point one. Point two is that Joe Biden is down almost double digits since July in that poll. I'll also note that there's polling out there in Iowa that puts him third and even fourth.

The Biden people think that they can last all the way to South Carolina, which is on February 29th -- Happy Leap Year, this is a -- next year's a leap year -- February 29th, the South Carolina primary. They can last all that way, and that his support among the black community will stay solid and will save him.

That's a dicey proposition if you look at the past -- in past elections. Iowa, New Hampshire and then Nevada, those states tend to create momentum. Rudy Giuliani, you'll remember, famously was going to wait until the Florida race -- Florida primary in 2008. By the time the race got there, it had already moved way past him. I think Biden is at least in some danger of that happening.

SCIUTTO: OK. New Hampshire is a swing state where impeachment is, frankly, not that popular. You look at the --


SCIUTTO: -- polling there, 42 percent, New Hampshire voters, all New Hampshire voters support the president being impeached, the majority do not. So what's the Democratic strategy there, in consideration of that?

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, I think that the impeachment thing is dangerous for Democrats. Obviously, it's politically dangerous for Donald Trump because if he gets removed from office, he's removed from office. But it's also dangerous, Jim, for Democrats in that it's a processy argument that's coming close to an election year.

I think Nancy Pelosi was rightfully, for a very long time, until she couldn't hold the dam back any more, rightfully wary of this because it has the potential to get away from Democrats talking about issues that you know voters care about. That's health care, that's immigration, education, the economy.


Immigration -- excuse me, impeachment is something that is hugely divisive -- is, again, a process story. it's about how Congress works, how the sausage gets made. It doesn't always appeal to voters.

Economy, health care, education. And yet -- the environment. And, sure, obviously, you're going to talk about Donald Trump and his conduct in office. But it has to be part of that broader mix. It can't be impeachment, and then everything else takes a secondary seat to that --



CILLIZZA: -- because if you look at any poll, voters care more about state of our health care, state of the economy because it impacts their lives directly in a way that impeachment just doesn't.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, that's one reason why Democrats want to have this wrapped up by Christmas, and then get into the --

CILLIZZA: Yes, that's right.

SCIUTTO: -- political cycle. Chris Cillizza, thanks very much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, guys.

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

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:30 a.m. Eastern, Sen. Elizabeth Warren Town Hall in N.H.; 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Fed Interest Rate Decision; 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Medal of Honor Ceremony


SCIUTTO: Listen, you have to look at these live pictures here. Look at how close that fire is getting to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Goodness, right on the cusp there. We have a live reporter nearby. We're going to bring you the latest as we have it. Please stay with us.


SCIUTTO: Folks, this is playing out as we speak. Just moments ago, these are flames advancing on the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, just as we've been watching it over the last 10 or 15 minutes or so. It's gotten closer and closer. This is a real danger.

HARLOW: It's hard to tell from this perspective, this aerial shot, how far away it is. But, you know, you use your judgment and then you decide. Let's get some intel from Omar Jimenez, our correspondent who is on the ground, on the way there. Omar, do you know, do we know how far these flames are now from the Reagan Library?

JIMENEZ (via telephone): We don't have the exact distance from the Reagan Library in particular right now, but we did just get an update from CAL FIRE, the state firefighting agency. And they told us that this has now ballooned to 200 acres. Again, this is something that started in just the past hour and a half or so, gives you an idea of how quickly these flames are spreading and why the threat --


JIMENEZ (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) so real in this. Of course, this comes as we are getting mandatory evacuation orders, coming as fast as I'm sure fire officials are getting this information. The Reagan Library, right in the middle of that evacuation zone. That's, of course, people on very short notice are trying to grab their things and get out of that area --


JIMENEZ (via telephone): -- if at all possible. I can tell you, as we're making our way towards Simi Valley right now, we can now see smoke in the air, as we are coming through over this mountainside. And a lot of people, heading the opposite way as we are heading in toward the fire.

SCIUTTO: Listen, the firefighters, they have tough decisions to make in this environment because they obviously want to protect lives first. You want to protect structures where you can, but firefighters can't over-risk their own lives. This is a -- well, listen, we're going to stay on top of this. It's alarming to watch here.

HARLOW: We definitely will. OK.

Also, now, to Washington and a really important hearing under way. This is round two of grilling for Boeing's CEO Dennis Muilenburg. He was met with bipartisan backlash yesterday, in response to how his company handled their 737 MAX jets and the malfunctioning MCAS system that contributed to two fatal crashes.

SCIUTTO: Muilenburg also faced the families of some of the 346 victims from those disasters.

CNN's Rene Marsh, she's following the latest. Now, Rene, tough moment for him. And of course, lawmakers on both parties, sometimes, enjoy the chance to hold someone's feet to the fire here. But to be clear, there was a regulatory aspect to this as well because legislation passed by some of those same lawmakers, ceded more regulatory control to the airline, did it not?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: You're certainly right about that. I mean, you know, the same lawmakers who had been trying to hold their feet to the fire, you're right Jim, there was legislation that was passed that essentially made the oversight outlook, as far as regulation goes, the way that it is today.

But there were plenty of other issues outside of regulation that they were able to hold Boeing's CEO accountable for. Essentially, what did they know and at what point did they know it, and did they try to conceal any of it from U.S. regulators.

But before we even delve into that, you know, I would be remiss if we don't go back to this moment that we saw yesterday, when the families stood up, holding those pictures of their loved ones. And I don't think you can really show this imagery enough. Because that moment truly does put --



MARSH: -- everything that we've been talking about regarding the 737 MAX, its faulty systems and regulations and government oversight, in perspective. Because all of these passengers boarded an American-made plane, and they assumed it was safe and they lost their lives.

As we speak now, House members are questioning Boeing's CEO, and that just got under way so we'll keep you posted on what comes out of that hearing.

SCIUTTO: Goodness.

HARLOW: Rene, yes.

SCIUTTO: Quite a moment there.

HARLOW: You're so right, those pictures are everything. Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Right now on Capitol Hill, a State Department diplomat is speaking to House investigators under oath, expected to describe a meeting in which she and staffers were told that Ukraine military assistance was put on hold, crucially, at the direction of the president. Stay with CNN.