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Test in Kentucky Governor's Race; Races to Watch; Homelessness Triggers Political Debate in Texas; Changes to Coal Power Plant Waste. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 5, 2019 - 08:30   ET



EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Look at how the politics of impeachment are playing out on the ground.

The race could be decided by swing voters in working class suburbs like this one in Louisville. Republican incumbent Matt Bevin is about as closely tied to President Trump as any politician in America. Soren is a professional organizer for the political arm of the AFL-CIO. He's trying to find votes for the Democratic nominee Andy Beshear. And he's focusing his efforts on working class, unaffiliated voters.

President Trump won this state by nearly 30 points in 2016. He's still very popular here, which is why Governor Bevin was happy to host him at a rally Monday night.

GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): How do you like having President Trump in Rupp Arena?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Soren has been on the ground for about 11 weeks, pounding the pavement in neighborhoods like this one. Beshear's supporters say they want to focus on health care and education. Those issues kept coming up, among other things.

RICK WANALISTS, KENTUCKY VOTER: And id' like to see legalized casinos down here. We go across the river. You know, if you want to gamble, people want to come gamble.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: When Soren started here, there was no impeachment inquiry. He's not convinced it will have any impact on this governor's race.

SOREN NORIS, PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER, AFL-CIO: For this election? I don't think it's changed much. It's not really on the forefront of the typical voter's mind here in Kentucky. Again, they're focused on their kitchen table issues.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But the Beshear voters he encountered think differently.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Are Democrats helping you out by doing this impeachment thing right ahead of your subeditorial election?

WANALISTS: Probably not here in Kentucky, but I'm glad it's coming out.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): Independent voter Maryann Trueman still hasn't made up her mind about Tuesday's election. She voted for Bevin the last time and she voted for Trump in 2016, but she's not excited about either of them anymore.

MARYANN TRUEMAN, KENTUCKY VOTER: I'm not sure whether to vote Republican or Democrat because I don't like either one of them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: As the impeachment process takes over Washington, how it plays out at the ballot box is still anyone's guess.

TRUEMAN: Impeachment? Whatever. They're going to do whatever they're going to do. And I just want somebody that's going to stand up for us.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So let me just tell you how different things sound in Kentucky versus in the rest of the country. I was with Andy Beshear, the Democratic nominee, last night at one of his final stops. About six statewide Democrats talked. Trump's name was never mentioned. It's the longest I've heard a bunch of Democrats talk without saying Trump in a very long time.

Meanwhile, the governor, Matt Bevin, was with Trump talking about him all the time. The fact is Democrats think they win this race if it's about local issues, if it's about Bevin, it's about education, it's about health care. But Republicans think that they're going to win if it's about Trump, if it's about impeachment, if it's about social issues.

And I have to say, talking to both camps last night, the Republicans feel pretty confident going into today, but Democrats say, look, we kept it short, and that's important. Kept it close, and that's important.

BERMAN: Evan McMorris-Santoro -- Evan, congratulations on being part of the team. Welcome aboard. Great to have you.

Joining us now is CNN --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

BERMAN: We'll get back to him.

CAMEROTA: At some point.

BERMAN: At some point.

Joining us now is CNN political director David Chalian.

David, for you I know this is the most wonderful time of the year. It's the actual Election Day.

CAMEROTA: Christmas in November.

BERMAN: Glad you could share it with us.

Look, Kentucky is one of those places where you know that Democrats look at it and say, whatever happens it's a moral victory that we kept it close. But they need more than moral victories in some places around the country, correct?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Oh, they do, indeed. And if you're trying looking for -- if you're trying to read tea leaves for next year in a national presidential election, state by state, they'll need a lot more than moral victories if they're hoping to defeat Donald Trump and have him out of the Oval Office, John.

But let's take a look at what we're seeing here. And I think Evan put it really well there. But you're talking about a state Donald Trump won by 30 points. This is Trump country. There's probably nobody who is going to watch the returns in Kentucky tonight more closely than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's on the ballot there for Senate next year. So he's going to be looking for clues to see what we saw in 2018 in the suburbs that powered the Democratic movement to the majority in the House of Representatives. Are we seeing that in red state Kentucky? Are we seeing that in red state Mississippi?

Conversely, are we seeing Donald Trump, who went to Mississippi on Friday and went to Kentucky last night, does he still have that ability, as we've seen in the course of his presidency, to come in late and turbo charge his base so that they turn out in ways that they haven't before? And that is really critical to Republican success.

So I think that's what you're looking for in those statewide contests. No doubt about that. And then there are the key state legislative races in Virginia.

CAMEROTA: OK, tell us about Virginia.

CHALIAN: I lost you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, just tell us what are -- what should we look for in Virginia.

CHALIAN: Oh, well, so here, you know, Democrats need two house seats and one state senate seat to flip to the Democrats in order to control the entirety of Virginia's state government.


That would be crucial, obviously, ahead of the 2021 redistricting process if they were all in charge of the -- one party was in charge of the entire process.

But here is where that battle for suburbia, we saw in the congressional elections in 2018, Democrats won several House seats in Virginia because of this inroads they've made into this traditional Republican territory in American politics, the suburbs, that had been trending to the Democrats. We've seen Virginia, since Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win it from 1964 onward, I believe, in 2008, become a more blue state, purplish, leaning blue, if you will. This is an opportunity for Democrats to make some inroads at the state legislative level, which is where a lot of important stuff takes place. It determines the maps of how congressional seats are drawn.

BERMAN: And in Virginia, David, just very quickly, the only thing that's a win for Democrats in this case would be a win, correct?

CHALIAN: Totally. No doubt about that. They are on the precipice of victory there. If they fall short, every 2020 Democrat, by the way, all those presidential contenders have gone into Virginia, put their muscle into this. If they come up short, that will be a big, sore loss for Democrats.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you very much for previewing all of that.


CAMEROTA: Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, Roger Stone trial begins.

12:30 p.m. ET, Rosalynn Carter on caregiving.

2:30 p.m. ET, NASA youth engagement hearing.


CAMEROTA: OK, now to this story.

A plot to blow up a synagogue was foiled in Colorado. The disturbing online posts that led the FBI to make this arrest, next.



BERMAN: This morning, an alleged white supremacist is in custody, accused of plotting to bomb a Colorado synagogue. Twenty-seven-year- old Richard Holzer was arrested by undercover FBI agents who were posing as co-conspirators. Authorities say Holzer talked about killing Jews in forums online and shared video of himself casing Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado. He now faces a 20-year sentence if convicted of a hate crime.

CAMEROTA: Homelessness is triggering a nasty political fight in Texas with Republican Governor Greg Abbott taking a page out of President Trump's playbook. He's slamming the capital city of Austin for allowing the homeless to set up tent cities.

More now from CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When state crews started cleaning up trash and filling dumpsters with the discarded belongings of homeless people who live under this highway in Austin, Texas, 56- year-old William Rainey just watched with tears in his eyes. Everything he owns fit in two shopping carts he had already packed up.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Has this been an emotional day for you?

WILLIAM RAINEY, HOMELESS AUSTIN RESIDENT: It has. You know, it's been very stressful. Some people don't like homeless people, like I said. They'd rather not see us out here.

LAVANDERA (voice over): The controversial homeless camp cleanup was ordered by Texas Governor Greg Abbott after months of sparring with Austin city officials. The city of Austin lifted a ban prohibiting homeless residents from camping in many parts of the city this past summer.

In tweets, Governor Abbott has repeatedly accused city leaders of turning Austin into a lawless and dangerous place.

Cleo Petricek says she quickly saw growing tent camps popping up under the highways near her home. She's fed up with the way city officials are fighting as what she sees a crisis.

CLEO PETRICEK, AUSTIN RESIDENT: Homeless is not a crime, absolutely it's not, but the behavior behind it that you see when it increases to, you know, recklessness, aggressive panhandling, actively using drugs, drug needles. There's a drug -- look, there's a drug top right there.

LAVANDERA: Austin's mayor says Governor Abbott isn't doing enough to help, which should involve picking up the phone.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Has he called you and talked -- to talk about this?

STEVE ADLER, AUSTIN MAYOR: You know, I have not spoken with the governor about it directly.

LAVANDERA: Does that seem odd to you?

ADLER: I wish I had a more direct conversation with the governor of Texas.

LAVANDERA (voice over): The governor's office did not respond when we asked if he's spoken to Austin's mayor, but Abbott did tweet this video recently showing what appeared to be a homeless man attacking an SUV in downtown Austin in 2018. The man's family tells CNN he isn't homeless but has mental health issues and was off his medications that day.

CHRIS BAKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE OTHER ONES FOUNDATION: I don't think he cares about homeless people.

LAVANDERA: Chris Baker runs a homeless advocacy organization called The Other Ones. His volunteers were trying to save some people's belongings from being trashed.

BAKER: And I'll tell you that like evicting people from living under a bridge is not a solution that's going to have any kind of lasting effect. This is theater. This is political theater.

LAVANDERA (on camera): We requested an interview with Governor Abbott, but we never heard back on that question. But the governor's office did say that they will continue to do these cleanups around the city. But when you talk to people who live under these overpasses, they say these cleanups are not helping them.


You think Governor Abbott is helping here?

PETRICEK: Absolutely. Absolutely.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Cleo Petricek is a self-described liberal who has never voted for a Republican. She says it pains her to welcome Governor Abbott's tweets.

PETRICEK: Somebody's listening to us because when it comes down to it, we all live here.

RAINEY: Yes, I feel comfortable out here. You know, I'm safe. I feel safe when I'm around people that I know, that camped with me.

LAVANDERA: After the state crews finished cleaning out the underpass, William Rainey and others who live here came right back. This, for now, is home.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Austin, Texas.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Ed so much for that story.

So, the Trump administration is rolling back a key Obama-era rule on the environment. This as it takes the first steps to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.


CAMEROTA: The EPA is scaling back requirements for the storage and release of toxic waste from coal-fired power plants.


The coal industry has said Obama-era rules are too costly to them. But critics and environmental groups say the proposed new regulations put profits ahead of public health.

So joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So, Sanjay, tell us what the ramifications of this are. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean it's

exactly that. That has been the debate almost all along, the concern about human health versus increased profits for these coal companies.

Look, you know, when you burn coal, you make waste. That's been a concern since we've started burning coal. And the question has been what to do with that waste. Typically, there are these ponds, coal ash ponds they call them, and there's tons of them around the country. Many of them along these rivers in North Carolina, for example.

For a long time they've been these unlined pits in the ground. What the previous ruling basically said is you have to, a, start lining these pits so stuff can't seep from these -- from these ponds into the waterways. And, two, is that eventually you have to work towards closing them, getting rid of these coal ash ponds altogether, use new technologies to get rid of the waste, things like that.

What is happening now is basically saying, we are going to basically delay much of that -- reverse some of it. So these ponds don't necessarily have to be closed now for another eight years until 2028. Some of the requirements on lining them have been diminished as well. And that's been the concern.

Let me tell you quickly, in terms of human health, what the concern is here, why did the Obama administration put some of these proposals into place was because of the concern from the fine particulate matter from coal ash, for example, getting into the air, getting into the water. You can take a look at the list there but this was a concern, premature deaths in people with heart or lung disease, non-fatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeats. It's a long list.

But more objectively, Alisyn, the impact, the positive impact on human health, they thought the clean power plant could prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths a year, could prevent 90,000 asthma attacks in children a year. Again, the list of things that they thought would benefit as a result of their plans, those things are now being rolled back.

BERMAN: Preventing death seems like a solid goal, Sanjay. And, of course, this comes on the same day that the administration took the first formal steps to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, yes?

GUPTA: Yes. And everybody knew this was happening when the Paris Climate Accords were ratified back three years ago. Part of the agreement was, if you were joining this, you have to stay in here for three years. So exactly three years to the date almost the United States pulls out. And it doesn't mean it's going to happen overnight because there's also a part of the joining the accord was that if you do decide to pull out, it has to take place over a year.

So we -- the president has made it clear that we're going to leave the Paris Climate Accord. But that won't take effect until one year from today, which will be the day after the election next year. So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

But at a time when most countries -- most countries that are making lots of carbon around the world are saying, hey, look, we now understand the impact of carbon in the atmosphere, we understand what we need to do to decrease that impact, we can still do it. You know, we're effectively going in the wrong direction, both national -- internationally, as well as, as a country.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much for all of that medical news.

GUPTA: Yes. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, and now to our favorite part of the -- of Halloween, really, of fall.

BERMAN: I like the costumes.

CAMEROTA: OK. Jimmy Kimmel's ninth --

BERMAN: There's tights.

Sorry, go ahead.

CAMEROTA: And the cape that you wear.

Ninth annual YouTube challenge called I told my kids I ate all their Halloween candy. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the one Halloween I ever had because of you, dummy, stupid pants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mama was just too hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ate all your candy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to call the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why you ate my candy (ph).




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ate it all because I was hungry.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm joking. I'm joking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what you're saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just go! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy and daddy ate all of your Halloween candy.

Is that OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's so rude of you. Tomorrow I'm going to eat your stuff. For real. And I'm not going to leave no goodies. Just (INAUDIBLE). That's so rude of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was really hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, go -- you got to eat some vegetables, not candy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night I got hungry and I ate all of your Halloween candy.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're happy that your candy is not gone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit, but I love you more than candy.



BERMAN: I love it when the kids put it right back at them, which is to say, yes, I'm upset, but you know what, I'm bigger than all of this. So those parents feel truly horrible.

CAMEROTA: That last one -- but they're always so -- they end on a touching one where it's like, OK, I love you anyway.


CAMEROTA: That's -- that's good parenting, I think.

But I also love the ones like the little lion there who just screams and turns, you know, primal.

BERMAN: I love the gamesmanship though with the kids trying to make the parents feel bad about the whole thing. The joke's on you, mom. It's all I'm saying.


We have to get to this big, breaking news that has erupted overnight. This is out of Mexico, where nine Americans, women and young children, have been killed. We have new details for you, next.