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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Louisiana Governor Declares State Of Emergency As Tornado Hit State; 26 Children And Staff Murdered At Sandy Hook Elementary 10 Years Ago Today; CNN Poll: Voters Sour On Another Trump-Biden Matchup; El Paso Struggling To Process Wave Of New Migrants; Account That Tracked Elon Musk's Private Jet Is Suspended Despite Musk's "Free Speech" Pledge. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 20:00   ET


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So there are all these videos now circulating on social media with canned peach factories talking about how they're working overtime to meet demand. One factory said orders have jumped by tenfold. Canned peaches searches surging dramatically, but health experts tell me part of this surge shows how little trust there is and little information from health authorities that they're willing to rely on canned peaches as a home remedy.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Wow, that's incredible. Sounds of course crazy, but so does drinking bleach to cure COVID.

Thank you so much, Selina Wang, and thanks so much to all of you for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.



We start tonight with breaking news: A confirmed tornado touched down in New Orleans, another in near St. Bernard Parish leaving behind a trail of destruction of about two miles according to local officials. At least one person is reported dead in St. Charles Parish about 20 miles upriver from New Orleans.

You are seeing some of the damage now as we are seeing it. The mayor of Gretna, Louisiana across the river from New Orleans calls the severe weather worse than Hurricane Ida, which hit the area last year.

She says homes are collapsed, cars are turned over and there are live wires everywhere. We are going to her in a moment.

More than 40 tornadoes have been reported in the past two days across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

We are now going to go to Jennifer Gray live at the CNN Weather Center.

So Jennifer, talk a little bit about the timing of these tornadoes tonight and what we should expect. JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, this has been unreal, Anderson. This is something we started to see unfold yesterday morning across the Dallas, Fort Worth area, went through Northwest Louisiana last night and now finally making it to Southeast Louisiana. This has been a very slow moving system.

As you mentioned, we have seen numerous tornado reports. We've had over 40 Since yesterday, and a handful of those right around the New Orleans area. I think it'll be tomorrow morning when the sun comes up where we finally see the scope of the devastation there.

Luckily tonight though, they are finally in the clear.

COOPER: The storms are obviously ongoing. What's the biggest threat right now?

GRAY: The biggest threat right now is basically Southern Mississippi on into Alabama. You can see these hot pink boxes. Those are tornado warnings. Tornadoes could be in progress in these areas, so people are urged obviously to get into their safe spots.

These tornadoes are going to be just as severe going through the overnight hours into tomorrow morning as they are right now, and so that's very important to note.

As people are going to sleep, you've got to have a way to get warnings because these storms have just left a path of destruction far and wide across multiple States.

As we go into tomorrow morning, you can see the timing of this through Atlanta by Thursday morning and then the Southeast.-Mid Atlantic is going to get a lot of the rain.

By the time it gets to these areas though, it will be weakening some, but I want to stress, tonight through tomorrow morning, these storms are going to be very potent and have the capability of producing tornadoes.

COOPER: Appreciate it. Thanks very much.

I want to turn now to the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana Billy Nungesser.

Lieutenant Governor, appreciate you joining us. What are you hearing from officials across the state right now?

LT. GOV. BILLY NUNGESSER, LOUISIANA (via phone): Well, they're still assessing it, but there's been two deaths in Caddo Parish; one in St. Charles, many injuries. The latest assessment is about 50 homes destroyed, but they are still counting, still getting into the areas, and one of these tornadoes actually started in Gretna, went through Algiers and Port Orleans, jumped the river into St. Bernard and did destruction the whole way as it crossed the Mississippi River.

COOPER: And are their rescue operations going on or still trying to assess sort of the damage? NUNGESSER: Yes, the Sheriff's and all the rescue people out trying to get powerlines off the streets and you know with dark coming on us now, they're trying to get people to shelters that have lost their homes.

We're removing travel trailers into our State Parks in those areas, so people will have places to stay come light tomorrow as they get back and clean up their home sites.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of how many people may be without power tonight?

NUNGESSER: Well, right now, the latest estimate is right over 40,000, but that's because they got power back on in some areas that lost it earlier. But this storm damaged -- went through all 64 parishes, 15 tornadoes, I believe touchdown in the latest report in North Louisiana, all the way down to South Louisiana. So it was widespread.

COOPER: And do you think you're through the worst of it now?

NUNGESSER: Yes, it has passed us now. You know, we were lucky this hurricane season. Louisiana was spared. This storm didn't spare us at all and touched every part of the State.

COOPER: Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, it is always good to talk to you. I appreciate it.

NUNGESSER: Thank you, my friend.

COOPER: All right, you take care.

Joining us now, hard-hit Gretna, Louisiana, the Mayor Belinda constant and Chief of Police Arthur Lawson.

Mayor, what are you seeing right now in your parish?

MAYOR BELINDA CONSTANT, GRETNA, LOUISIANA: We've seen catastrophic destruction from both ends of the cities starting from the municipality right next to us, Jefferson Parish, all the way over to Orleans to the entire one strip to the entire city.


COOPER: And Mayor, I understand you said earlier, it looks worse than Hurricane Ida, which hit the area last year. Can you just explain for people what that means in terms of damage?

CONSTANT: You know, in Hurricane Ida, we had lot of roof damage, severe roof damage, and some structures. But this has blazed a trail of total destruction. As I said, probably over a mile the entire length of our city on the north side of the expressway of our city, closer to the river.

We're at about eight blocks off the Mississippi where it struck and the trail that it blazed. So there's probably, we are estimating somewhere right under 5,000 structures based on just the first preview, of course, it's nighttime now and the police is here, I want him to talk a little bit about security in the city, but it's significant.

COOPER: Yes, Chief Lawson, from a law enforcement standpoint, what are you seeing? What are you concerned about most?

CHIEF ARTHUR LAWSON, GRETNA, LOUISIANA: Well, you know, our biggest concern right now, we have enormous amount of power lines down. We have hundreds of structures that are damaged, roofs off of buildings, collapsed buildings, buildings and homes moved off of slabs.

Our biggest concern now is putting out lights plants to try to control traffic and those that just want to sightsee. We haven't had any problems with any type of looting or anything like that. It's basically been getting people back into safety.

We've had some people that were in structures that we had to get out. We've had some individuals that we've had to bring to the hospital with our EMS service. But that's our biggest concern right now is the safety and making the environment safe so people tomorrow can get around and check their properties and see what type of damage they have. Because I believe tomorrow when the daylight comes, we're going to see a lot more damage than we see now.

COOPER: And Chief, that's an important point. Folks right now, because night has come and some people aren't obviously in their homes, they don't have a sense of -- you don't really have a sense of the total extent of the damage at this point. Is that right?

LAWSON: No, we don't. We have a large area through the city that has damage, where the tornado has touched down, skipped, touched back down, ran for a good ways. As I said, we have a lot of homes, a lot of structures that are damaged.

Some you know, you can't tell. We have a lot of two-story homes and businesses and residents in the old section of Gretna, and you can't assess the damage yet because of the darkness.

COOPER: Yes, Mayor, what's your what's your message to people tonight?

CONSTANT: Our message is just please stay in, stay at home safely for those that do not have any damage. People kind of riding around trying to do their own assessment, it is not safe at this time. We have gas leaks across the city that the fire company is dealing with, and they are doing assessments relative to those type of things.

So it's critical that we just have people understand how important it is to stay at home. There is a shelter that has been set up and there's a local number, our emergency number for our residents that has been televised, so they know if they need assistance, to please reach out to our emergency number so that we can meet their needs as quickly as possible.

And then tomorrow, it's about recovery first thing in the morning. COOPER: Well, Mayor Belinda Constant and Chief Arthur Lawson, I appreciate your time tonight and our thoughts are certainly with you and the community and all those impacted by these storms. We appreciate your time. Thank you.

CONSTANT: Thank you so much.

LAWSON: Thank you.

COOPER: There is much more ahead tonight. It has been 10 years since one of America's darkest days, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In a moment, four survivors of that attack share what they have faced in that last 10 years and how it has changed their community and this country.

Plus, a new Homeland Security Intelligence memo obtained by CNN with concerning predictions of a worsening, the crisis at the border likely next week. We'll take you to our Southern border, coming up.



COOPER: Ten years ago today was the day that shook this country and the reverberations can still be felt. At about 9:30 AM, a disturbed 20-year-old man arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He had already murdered his mother.

He carried a Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle and two handguns and he shot his way past the school's new security system, and will go on to murder six adults and 20 children before also killing himself.

It was one of America's deadliest mass shootings and the deadliest ever at a grade school.

But tonight, before we delve into Sandy Hook's lasting influence on the country at large, on the families of the victims, and the survivors of that day, some of whom we'll hear from in a moment, we want to spend a few minutes remembering the children who should be planning for college or a career right now, and the staff who gave their lives to try and save them and their classmates.

Charlotte Bacon was six years old. Her family remember her as sweet, outgoing, full of energy. She loved school and she loved wearing dresses.

Daniel Barden was seven. He played drums in a band with his brother and sister. He loved the beach and making s'mores.

Rachel D'Avino, she was 29. She was a behavioral therapist who worked with children within the autism spectrum. She didn't know it, but her best friend, her boyfriend was going to propose to her on Christmas Eve. Olivia Engel was six. She led grace at her family's dinner table. She was in the Girl Scouts, loved musicals. Her family loved her sense of humor. They say she always lit up a room.

Josephine Gay just turned seven years old just. Days before her murder was her birthday. She loved riding her bike and during the summer, she sold lemonade in the neighborhood.

Dylan Hockley was also six. He and his family had moved from England to Connecticut two years earlier.


He loved to read and his family said he was always so proud when he could read them a new book.

Anne Marie Murphy was 52. She was a teacher of Sandy Hook. Her husband says he was told by authorities that when Anne's body was found, she was holding Dylan Hockley in her arms. Anne also had four children.

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung was 47. She was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her friends described her as nice and fun, but also tough when she needed to be. She was the principal after all. She left behind a husband, two daughters, and three stepdaughters.

Madeline Hsu was six, an avid reader, she loved to run and dance. Her family called her a born leader, sweet, unique, bright, determined and sparkling.

Catherine Hubbard was six also. Her mom said she loved her pets and other animals and that Catherine wanted to be a caretaker at an animal sanctuary when she grew up.

Chase Kowalski was seven. He loved baseball, Cub Scouts. A neighbor said the days before the shooting, Chase told him that he'd asked Santa for his two front teeth back.

Jesse Lewis was six, too. He loved Math and riding horses, fishing and playing soccer and football with his dad. Jesse was working with his dad to restore a 1948 Ford tractor in time for the Labor Day Parade. The plan was to throw candy from the back.

Ana Marquez-Green was six, too. Her family has called her the glue that held our family together. Beautiful and vibrant, they said, she could sing with perfect pitch and style.

James Mattioli, he was six, too. His family says he loved the outdoors, singing at the top of his lungs. They said he once asked, how old do I have to be to sing on a stage?

Grace McDonnell was seven. She loved drawing. I actually have a copy of a drawing she made that her mom Lynn gave me. Her parents said her dream was to live on the beach and be a painter. She is survived by her mom, Lynn and her dad, Chris, and her brother, Jack.

Emilie Parker was six. She was learning Portuguese when she was murdered. Her family says she was also an exceptional artist.

Jack Pinto was also six. He loved football. He won a medal after participating in his first ever wrestling match shortly before he was murdered.

Noah Pozner was six and the youngest of the victims. His aunt told me shortly after the murders that he was rambunctious, but could get anything he wanted when he batted those long eyelashes and looked at you with those big beautiful blue eyes.

Caroline Previdi was six years old as well. A big New York Yankees fan, her brother told the paper she was such a fan that she refused to go to Fenway Park when her family visited Boston.

Jessica Rekos was six and mad about horses. She'd asked Santa that year for new cowboy boots and a cowboy girl hat.

Avielle Richman was six as well. She loved horses. Her trainer said she loved them so much she'd giggle when she trotted.

Lauren Rousseau was a permanent substitute teacher. She was 30 years old. Her mother said that Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten.

Mary Sherlach was 56 and the school psychologist, enthusiastic gardener, she loved reading and the theater. She was married and had two daughters.

Victoria Soto was 27, a first grade teacher. She moved her students away from the door when she heard gunfire. Her family says she wanted to be a teacher since the age of three.

And Benjamin Wheeler was six, loved The Beatles and loved soccer and swimming and had recently performed at a piano recital.

Allison Wyatt was six. She loved drawing and wanted to be an artist and she was so generous she wants offered her snacks to a stranger on a plane.

Twenty-six lives and we remember them tonight, 10 years later.

Earlier, I sat and spoke with force people, students who survived the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School -- Audrey Nichols, Saahil Ray, Cyrena Arokium were in second grade. Jordan Gomes was in fourth grade. They're now between the ages of 17 and 19.

They're trying to lead lives that had been forever scarred by that day.


COOPER: Saahil, you remember that day?


COOPER: You were in second grade.

RAY: I was a second grader at the time. So I was in Mrs. De Verna's (ph) classroom, and I remember we were all sitting on the carpet. She was doing a read aloud and then all of a sudden I heard a very loud bang, a sound I'd never heard before.

And I remember Mrs. De Verna looking very concerned and she went to the door, immediately closed it and ushered us all to the corner of the classroom away from the window and the doorway.

COOPER: You were on second grade, you didn't know what the "bang" was, I assume?

RAY: No, I didn't at all. At the time. I remember thinking like we had like a loud pan falling in the cafeteria. I was just so confused, going through the motions and just doing what the teacher told me.

The intercom had turned on in the school and it just amplified everything that was going on. We heard screaming from the classrooms, just loud sounds in the hallways and we were just sitting there in that room.


COOPER: So, you could hear other classrooms over the intercom.

RAY: We definitely -- it definitely amplified the screams coming from hallways and the sounds of the gunshots over the intercom, yes.

COOPER Do any of you guys remember anything?

AUDREY NICHOLS, SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I have like a very selective memory of that day almost. So I remember the shots. I don't remember anything else, well, any other sounds except just the shots.

COOPER: You were both in the same classroom.

NICHOLS: Yes, we were in the same classroom.

Yes, I remember just being told we couldn't go a certain way. We had to go out this one way.

COOPER: What about you, Serena?

CYRENA AROKIUM, SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes, I remember the police leaning us out. And then just getting escorted. And I remember seeing broken glass on the ground. When I looked towards my left, as we were passing one of the hallways for like the third and fourth graders, and I just remember like, that's where he came in through.

COOPER: You were in fourth grade.

JORDAN GOMES, SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yes, I was in -- I had a little bit of a different experience than you guys, because I wasn't actually in one of the classrooms. I was in the gym, which is like one hallway over. And I was sitting with my class about to, you know, do just some normal gym activities for the day, I think we were actually doing rope climbing, which I was really excited for.

And I remember the same thing that Saahil said, which is that I heard a really loud bang and it sounded like some metal being dropped, and at that point, my teacher ran over to lock the door, and also ushered us into the corner and was just telling us to be very quiet, like, you know, don't speak to anyone, like try to keep it down.

And I remember also the loudspeaker as well. I think that was the thing that stuck out the most for me as I got older because of the things that we heard over it.

COOPER: My dad died when I was 10 years old, and I've always thought, I've divided my life between the person I was before my dad died, and the person I was after, and the 10-year-old boy that I was before and the child that was after, and I became much more withdrawn and serious and introverted. And I heard you say something similar? Can you talk about that a little bit?

NICHOLS: Yes. I've often, like, classified my life like that. It is like, before 12/14 and after 12/14. And like, sometimes there's like those surreal moments. I don't know if you guys have like, had those where it's like, "Oh, my God, that actually happened. I can't believe like, I was in the school," so...

COOPER: Even to this day?

NICHOLS: Even to this day, sometimes I'm like, it's like a "whoa moment." And I mean, I guess what I'm trying to say is, like, before 12/14, I was like, this happy child always smiling. Like, my mom was always like, oh, she's like such a happy child. And after 12/14, I was more withdrawn. I always got the oh, you're so mature for your age, and that kind of stung in a certain way.

COOPER: Do any of you else feel kind of marked by that day in some way?

GOMES: Absolutely. I mean, I think especially in terms of mental health. I know I've struggled a lot, especially when I was younger, with PTSD and anxiety. My parents would walk in on me having like screaming fits, because I just couldn't come to terms with what had happened.

And I look at how I acted prior to that day. And not only just me, but my brother and my family and my friends and like our entire community and it's just such a stark before and after. Like, it's just, I think it changed everybody forever, definitely.

COOPER: How about you?

AROKIUM: Yes, I think we all changed in some sort of way. Like I suffer from PTSD and anxiety, and Sandy Hook was like a big factor. And I used to suffer from like nightmares, and like, night terrors, and I think that made me feel like my innocence was stolen, like my childhood. And like --

COOPER: That's how it feels to you?

AROKIUM: Yes. And it is something that I would never get back.

GOMES: The nightmares were a big thing for me too, because I think so many kids, you know, their nightmares are of monsters and demons and things that don't really exist. But we were facing a reality where those monsters and demons had kicked down our front door. It was real. It was like impossible to escape.

Like my parents and I didn't really know how to deal with it.

COOPER: How often do you think about it? Do you think about what happened? I mean, is it something -- a daily thing in your life?

GOMES: Every day, I would say, just really passing thoughts. Like if I look at my phone, and it's 12:14 PM, I'll be like "12/14." Like, it's just inescapable.

Or I see like a green ribbon even if it's not for like Sandy Hook, because a lot of other causes have that similar sign. I'll think about it or, you know, anytime there's anything on the news about a mass shooting even if it's not at a school, I think about it. It's inescapable for me, anyways.


NICHOLS: It's something I think about daily, much like Jordan said, even like the simplest things can kind of like trigger like this flashing thought that just crosses my mind. Yes.

COOPER: A chip bag, as something as simple as that.

RAY: Balloon popping.

NICHOLS: Balloon popping is a big one for me. Fireworks. I have these neighbors that set off fireworks every single holiday, and it's awful.

COOPER: You know, I am in touch with a number of families who lost children that day and many of them have had to deal with this whole other horror of people who doubt the reality of what happened. You know, spread, made up stories and say terrible things about them.

Has that been something you've followed? Has that impacted your world at all?

AROKIUM: I've heard of like the conspiracy theories and Sandy Hook did happen, and I feel like my feelings and emotions and memories are being like swept under the rug because people don't believe what we went through, but it did happen.

GOMES: Since I started with my advocacy, I've come face to face with a lot of these, you know so-called truthers. They always want to say something to me. And, you know, they're not always violent. Sometimes they're rude, sometimes they're yelling at me, sometimes they're completely calm and just don't really care about what I have to say. They're just like, it didn't happen and you're a liar.

COOPER: You've had people actually say that to you?

GOMES: I've had people say, a lot of very, like, insensitive, like, that's probably the most tame thing, like being called a liar. You know, like, there's, you know, like, crisis actor, like, you know, you know, people just asking me all these crazy questions, like, you know, what it was like to be like, acting all of that, like, you know, if like, fake gunshots hurt.

COOPER: Do you think this has impacted an entire generation of young people? I mean, those who have grown up since Columbine to, you know, or just even since Sandy Hook to now. Do you think your generation has been shaped by the shootings?

RAY: Absolutely. I do. I think kids everywhere are scared to an extent and wondering, like, what's going to happen? What's going to change? And I've said this before, but I think people are wondering, like, will my community be next?

And as long as these events continue to show on the news, and they need to be shown, but that also means that people are going to be afraid.

NICHOLS: Yes, I think I agree with Saahil. It has a hundred percent affected our generation, the fact that we've gone through so many events like Sandy Hook, I don't think we've gone a single week this year without another shooting happening. And I really think that's heavily impacted especially, especially kids and how they look at going to school.

I know there are kids that like fear just loud noises in general, because of everything that has happened in this generation. And I know, I personally I struggle with unannounced drills in school. I don't know about you guys. But like if there is an unannounced lockdown drill, I go into panic mode. I'm hiding in a corner like palms sweating and I'm just kind of reliving it in my mind.


COOPER: And we'll be right back. We will have more.



COOPER: Tomorrow will be one month since the former president launched his third run at the White House. A new poll suggests that Republican voters may be tiring over the former presidents once promised would be, quote so much winning. Instead, the polls suggest that after a brutal midterm for his chosen candidates plus a never-ending series of bad headlines. They're perhaps more receptive than ever for a new party standard bearer and yet it's not good news for President Biden either as new -- as voters of all stripes may be ready for new candidates on both sides.

For the details, we go to CNN John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I know for many people, it's too early to talk 2024. But consider this poll a baseline and this clear conclusion, voters in both parties clear majorities are looking for somebody new. We asked Republicans and Republican leaning voters in our poll. Do you want Donald Trump to be the nominee for the Republicans in 2024? Or do you want a different candidate? Sixty-two percent, more than six in 10 Republicans say give us somebody new please, 38% say Donald Trump. President Biden fares a little better, but not all that much. Look at this six and 10, 59% of Democrats or Democratic leaning voters say we'd like a new candidate in 2024. Four in 10 Democrats say let's stick with the incumbent Democrat we have.

And so, what though if Trump is the nominee, would Republicans vote for him? Well, two-thirds say yes, that is significant, though, doesn't mean this would stick for two years. But 32% of Republicans say no. That leaves an opening for Democrats to get those votes. But two-thirds say yes. On this question, Anderson, Joe Biden does fare a little better, 66 for Trump, 78% of Democrats say maybe we prefer a new candidate. But if Joe Biden is our nominee in 2024, we will vote to reelect. Nearly eight in 10 Democrats say that 22% say no.

So, what about your trajectory? How are you ending the year compared to how you began the year? Let's start with the President. President Biden is in better shape. At the beginning of the year he was at 45%. Then in July he dipped to 25%. Here in December 40% of Democrats say he should be their nominee, so not as strong as he was to open the year but stronger than he was in the summertime. It is the flip side when you look at this from the Trump question. At the beginning of 2022, 50% of Republicans say we want Donald Trump was our nominee that dropped to 44% in July, it is now down to 38%. So, the trajectory for Trump is heading in the wrong direction. President Biden has stabilized some.


Now, if your name is someone's besides Trump, you're in strong shape in the Republican primaries. That's a joke. But look at the poll here, 53% of Republicans, Republican leaning voters said, we want somebody besides Trump, they're open minded as to who it should be. There is no doubt though, Anderson, if you look at this poll and other polling out there, the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is if it's not Trump, Ron DeSantis is in the strongest position at this very, very, very early date. Look, 38% of Republican and Republican leaning voters say Ron DeSantis, nobody else. Nobody else gets even close. It's almost not worth considering, Mitt Romney was the nominee in 2012. Mike Pence was Donald Trump's Vice President, Ted Cruz ran before Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor Trump's ambassador to the United Nations. They are all at 1%. So, Ron DeSantis has a commanding position at this early stage, unless someone besides Trump gets in the Republican race. Anderson.

COOPER: John King, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst, Kirsten Powers and former Clinton administration official and CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and a longtime political adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Gloria, the bottom line from the poll is little appetite for 2020 rematch between Trump and Biden. So, a lot can obviously happen.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'll say, look, first, we should point out that both of these men are very popular and their own party. And so, the Democrats still like Joe Biden, if he runs, and Donald Trump has a very, very strong base in the Republican Party. But the difference between the two parties, as John was just showing you is that Republicans feel like they have a solid alternative. And that alternative is Ron DeSantis. But when you ask Democrats, you know, if not Joe Biden, who 72% of them said they had no particular favorite, so they don't know who to turn to. They're not saying Kamala Harris, for example, they're kind of saying, well, maybe this person or maybe that person.

So that's really good, actually, for Joe Biden, because the Democrats are saying, well, who else is there out there that we would really be as enthusiastic about? And the answer is, we don't know.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, I know you think something has changed in the last month among some Republicans and their support for the former president, which appears to be reflected in this poll. I mean, do you think this represents a permanent shift?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. I think it's a continuing shift. I think you're going to continue to see this change. What's remarkable, is Ron DeSantis hasn't had do much of anything other than win reelection, and convincing fashion, Donald Trump announced the campaign, and he's been out there, you know, talking on his own behalf. And it's getting worse and worse and worse while DeSantis is getting better and better. So, the effort that Trump is having to expend is clearly not translating into support. The number that jumped out at me in the poll, Anderson was the 32% of Republicans, who said they didn't want to back Trump if he were the nominee in 2024. I think a lot of those people would go home eventually. But it tells you everything you need to know about how weak Trump would be as a general election candidate, if Democrats pick off just a few Republicans in key states like, oh, I don't know, Georgia, which is exactly what happened in the Senate race. It makes it really easy for a Democrat to win in a purple state.

So, you see cracks among Republicans, but you also see the plain truth. If we nominate Trump and they nominate Biden, Republicans are going to lose if the Republicans nominate someone new, they have a much better chance to win.

COOPER: Kirsten, do you agree with that, that if Republicans nominated, whether it's DeSantis, or somebody new, that they would have a better chance to win than and the Democrats, you know, would be running Joe Biden in that case presumably?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think so. And I think the other thing that was on the poll that showed that is how Biden and Trump are both perceived, where you have the vast majority of voters saying that they see Biden as being a pretty mainstream person, and the vast majority of people seeing Donald Trump as being having very extreme views. And because, you know, the voters that you really are going to have to get you're going to get your base voters. I mean, I do think even if people are not enthusiastic right now, when this becomes a head-to-head match, if you had Biden versus Trump, Democrats are going to show up, show up for that. That will be the motivator, they will get more enthusiastic about Biden.

And so, I think the fact that you can see that Biden is so much more acceptable to more moderate voters to more independent voters, in terms of people just seeing him as being a mainstream person versus those voters looking at Trump and saying he seems too extreme.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean, how big a problem is it for Democrats that there isn't a, you know, a Ron DeSantis like figure other than, you know, the front runner -- than Joe Biden. I mean if Biden runs obviously then that's not a problem but if he doesn't run how big a deal is?


BORGER: It's a problem, I think it's a real problem because there isn't any groundswell for anyone. And you know, in these situations, Anderson that candidates come out of the woodwork. There are a lot of great national Democrats out there. But so far, we haven't heard people screaming, oh, I'm going to challenge Joe Biden. If he decides to run, there are a lot of whispers about it. Obviously, there are a lot of whispers about his age. And that's clearly getting on his nerves. And I can tell you, it's getting on the nerves of a lot of people who work for him. But there isn't anybody saying, like, you know, Teddy Kennedy did Jimmy Carter, I'm going to go out there. And I'm going to challenge him, because the fact of the matter is that most rank-and-file Democrats like Joe Biden, and they believe he's done a lot and accomplished a lot. And so that would be a hard record for them to run against.

COOPER: Scott, do you think there's any chance that Joe Biden would not have Kamala Harris as his running mate?

JENNINGS: No chance at all. I think, first of all, I think if Joe Biden wants to be his party's nominee, he's going to be it. Regardless, if there's softness in his numbers. He's the sitting president, and he's going to be the Democratic nominee. And I think Harris will be his running mate. And I think Republicans should plan for that. I think Trump is just in a much weaker position, because he's not the sitting president. And we've already run him twice. And we've lost the national popular vote twice. And one argument Biden has is, hey, I won the national popular vote. And, you know, that's nothing to sniff at in this day and age.

So, I, I really do think Biden is pretty much a lock if he just says I'm running and I think Trump is in a much, much weaker position visa vie his own party, because he has this track record of not getting more votes than a Democrat. COOPER: Kirsten, does it feel to you like Donald Trump is even actually running? I mean, he made this announcement, what, like a month ago, and then other than had lunch with anti-Semites and, you know, various disreputable characters, hasn't really done anything. It's not like he's out building houses for Habitat for Humanity. I mean he's not doing anything.

POWERS: I wouldn't hold your breath for that one. I think that, look, we're still actually pretty far out. You know, why he decided to announce when he announced lots of people have different theories about that. But I think that if you even think about his campaign last time, I mean, it mostly was him getting, you know, free media doing his events, and he's not going to get that right now. And he's probably not going to get it even down the road. And so, he didn't have a big campaign and all the reports are he wants to have an even smaller campaign than he had last time.

So, you know, I think that this doesn't really surprise me. I mean, he didn't like I said, there wasn't a lot of substance of the campaign the last time around. And I think we're just we're so early out that he's probably not going to see a lot from them.

COOPER: Yes, Kirsten Powers, Gloria Borger, Scott Jennings, thank you. Appreciate it.

To our southern border ahead, where there's already a new massive influx of migrants as a policy that allowed officials to quickly turn many away is about to end. What the Biden administration's doing to try to prepare for that if they can. And a close look at the reality on the ground now.



COOPER: Migrant crossings at our southern border are already at record levels the crisis may be about to get much worse. According to a Homeland Security Intelligence memo obtained by CNN, the Biden administration says the end of a COVID error policy next week that helped control migration will likely increase flows immediately. Their projections of as many as 14,000 crossings per day. If Title 42 as it's known as luck to expire that's approximately double the number of border encounters now.

The White House says it's quote, doing what we need to do to prepare for a surge but it's already underway in places like El Paso where shelters and bus stations are overwhelmed.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.


JOHN MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OPPORTUNITY CENTER FOR THE HOMELESS: We can get the women over to the rescue mission.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a frigid El Paso night and John Martin is coordinating an outreach team trying to figure out where newly arrived migrants have been released on the city's downtown streets.

MARTIN: They're working with the new arrivals that came in just within the past hour.

LAVANDERA (on-camera): So, there's a lot of confusion right now.

MARTIN: To a great extent I'll probably get myself into trouble. I think confusion is an understatement.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Martin helps run a homeless shelter program in El Paso. Three of its shelters are open to migrants. This family welcome center can fit about 80 people, but in recent days, they've taken in as many as 125 per night.

MARTIN: The concern that we have, at some point you just simply run out of physical space. And we don't want to be in a position to say no, but I think the reality is very close.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In recent days, the El Paso area has seen a major wave of migrants crossing into the United States.

(on-camera): The average number of migrants arriving here in El Paso has been about 2,500 a day. And because of that many people here city leaders in El Paso are concerned about what this could look like if Title 42 is lifted next week.

(voice-over): The public health policy known as Title 42, which was used during the pandemic to remove some 2.5 million migrants from the U.S. is set to expire next week. But for many migrants, the talk of title 42 isn't on their minds. Roel and Reina Velasquez left Nicaragua six weeks ago with their nine-year-old girl.


LAVANDERA (on-camera): He said they came they were unaware of Title 42. And that Title 42 could be lifted. So, they really just want to come here to work for a couple of years and go back home to Nicaragua.

(voice-over): The family is headed to Georgia to await immigration court proceedings. But El Paso leaders say the humanitarian safety net that has long existed in this border city is stretched too thin already.

PETER SVARZBEIN, EL PASO CITY COUNCIL: We need people to step up. We need to stop pointing fingers. We need to work together, and we need to collaborate and we need to make sure that we keep folks that are passing through our neighborhood safe while also keeping our communities safe as well.


COOPER: And Ed Lavandera joins us now. Ed, I mean it's extraordinary how collapsed our immigration system is and there's no resolution in sight here. I mean, if Title 42 which was a Trump era policy which was continued by the Biden administration when whether the courts enforcing it to end if it comes to an end, I mean that at least force -- allowed the government to force people back to Mexico. What happens?


LAVANDERA: Well, you know, the clock is ticking Anderson, there is some legal challenges making its way through the court right now, which could bring all of this to a halt. But you know, Title 42 is essentially a public health policy. It is not an immigration policy, and as the clock ticks toward next week, this is the scene here in downtown El Paso, that is already playing out, people on the streets, many of the shelters filled past capacity. Many of the people here either will be sleeping on the street or they're waiting for a bus that will be living in the middle of the night. This is the concern that so many people here in the city and across border communities are concerned about that everything will just be overwhelmed to such a degree that seems like this will be played out creating just a humanitarian disaster interesting, Anderson.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate it.

Coming up, despite a pledge of free speech, Twitter suspended the account known for tracking Elon Musk's private jet with a college student who ran the account told our Donie O'Sullivan, next.



COOPER: Seems like there hasn't been a quiet day at Twitter since its new billionaire owner Elon Musk took control. Tonight, a popular Twitter account that track Musk private jet has been suspended, move comes just one month after Musk touted his commitment to free speech. It's a very strange story that's been taking a lot of turns today.

But first the backstory from CNNs Donie O'Sullivan.


JACK SWEENEY, CREATOR, @ELONJET TWITTER ACCOUNT: I'm Jack Sweeney, and I'm a student at the University of Central Florida and I'm 20.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And now he's on the radar of the world's richest man.

SWEENEY: The data I receive is the identifier the altitude, latitude and longitude.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jack Sweeney uses computer programming skills to setup Elon Jet, a Twitter boss that track the location of Elon Musk's private plane all using publicly available information.

(on-camera): Why did you decide to set up this account?

SWEENEY: I was a fan of Elon, you know, he does some pretty cool stuff with SpaceX and Twitter. And it gives you just another view that a lot of people don't know about where that person is going and might give you clues as to what new business is going on.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The account racked up more than half a million followers, but Musk wasn't too happy. And Jack says last year the billionaire asked him to shut Elon Jet down.

SWEENEY: I was about to go to sleep. And I was in a normal college dorm last time and I remember telling my roommate, hey, Elon Musk just direct messaged me.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): And what did the message say?

SWEENEY: It said, can you take this down? It's a security risk.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A screenshot of the messages Jack says are from Musk showed the billionaire was curious, even impressed with Jack's coding skills asking him how are you able to track using a bot?

SWEENEY: I didn't really feel like taking it down because it meant a lot to me and still does.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): According to the messages, Elon said, I don't love the idea of being shot by a nutcase and then offer Jack $5,000 to shut the account down.

SWEENEY: Then I basically asked for 50,000 or a Tesla and he said, thinking about it.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Musk didn't take them up on the offer. Fast forward to this November.

(on-camera): Soon after Elon bought Twitter. He tweeted my commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk. Now he tweeted that about a month ago. Clearly, he doesn't feel that way anymore.

SWEENEY: Yes. Complete opposite of what he said.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): On Wednesday morning, Jack woke up to news that his Elon Jet account had been suspended from Twitter. And in the afternoon, Twitter shut down his personal account.

SWEENEY: I literally had just talked about how the count is like the canary in the coal mine. It just shows that he can continue to do what the last people did at Twitter and they can bend the rules in however which way they want for whoever they want.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Elon might have his billions. But Jack has at least one powerful ally in his corner.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): His grandmother Phyllis.

(on-camera): What do you think of your grandson going up against the world's richest man?

SKALESKI: Well, I don't know. It's to me, because I'm a grandma. Kind of scary.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): You got a genius on your hands there.

SKALESKI: Oh my gosh. Even when he was two, he was a genius. He was always interested in going in the garage. And if anything was broke, he was there to fix it, put it together and he could figure it out.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Despite shutting down his accounts. Jack says he still admires Musk.

(on-camera): If Elon said hey, come work for me at Tesla or Twitter, would you take the job?

SWEENEY: Oh, yes, for sure.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): If Elon Musk is watching this, what's your message to him?

SKALESKI: Whoa, he better forget that I'm his grandma. That's all I got to say.


COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan joins now. I love her.

O'SULLIVAN: She star, yes.

COOPER: I mean --

O'SULLIVAN: I heard her in the background interview. I was like just trigger it.

COOPER: That is a good. That's a very good interview move. What is the latest on all this?

O'SULLIVAN: So, look, what we have since learned actually, is that Musk and Twitter actually changed Twitter's policy over the past 24 hours to make the conditions such that this account was against those policies. So, it could be suspended. Look, I mean, I think --

COOPER: So, it's what is the new policy if it's a security risk for billionaires who have a private jet or?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. Essentially. And look. I mean, if I had a private jet, I wouldn't like to be tracked in real time either. And look, I think there are, of course, some real concerns about his safety, his family safety, but for this free speech absolutist. And when we talk about potential speech that might cause harm. We've seen him the past few weeks tear up the rulebook against COVID misinformation and vaccine misinformation on the platform. We've seen him replatform a very prominent neo-Nazi and white supremacist.

So, for this to be the issue that he's most animated about for this to be the speech, which by the way, this is all publicly available information. For this to be the speech that he wants to restrict more than other. Others is of course, extremely self-serving.

COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan, appreciated. Thank you.

Just a moment, more on those tornadoes across Southeast that according to Louisiana official we just spoke with have already killed at least three in that state.