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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Republican Candidates Not Named Trump Descend On New Hampshire For Labor Day; Zelenskyy Fires Defense Minister; Kim And Putin Expected To Discuss Potential Arms Deal; Authorities On Day Five Of Search For Escaped Murderer; PA Police Broadcast Message From Escaped Murderer's Mother, Encouraging Him To Surrender; Thousands Able To Leave Burning Man After Rains Bring Muddy Mess; James Taylor Remembers Friend Jimmy Buffett Who Died At Age 76 Of Rare Skin Cancer; "Little Richard: I am Everything" Premieres Next On CNN. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 04, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): And of course, all of that can push it ever deeper into the 2024 presidential race, where all of the political and legal questions just get worse.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And thank you so much for joining us. AC 360 with John Berman starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, a working holiday for some of the GOP candidates in new polling that's trouble for all, but one of them.
Kim Jong-un's planned and very rare trip to Russia, what it could mean to Ukraine, and what a former American three-star general makes of that and other key developments in the war.
Plus, is it Passover already? The exodus is now on from the Burning Man desert where tens of thousands have been stranded by a plague of mud.
Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson, and we begin this Labor Day evening with a picnic, presidential politics, and polling.
They all came together today in New Hampshire, several Republican candidates all stomping at the same picnic, in new polling that's no picnic for all, but Donald Trump. It matters the experts say because now was when voters really start paying attention.
And this is attention getting, Trump now has the race nearly to himself, 59 percent support from Republicans, his nearest rival Ron DeSantis, now, 46 points behind.
As for a potential Trump-Biden matchup in the general election, it is forty-thirty-nine with three percent for two-third party candidates and a large number 17 percent undecided. Head-to-head without third parties and voters forced to choose, the two are tied at 46.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in New Hampshire for us tonight.
Jeff, how many of the Republican candidates were there tonight and what are they saying?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, half the Republican field was in New Hampshire today holding a variety of parades and picnics, as you said, so about four or five candidates and we just finished an event here in Rye, New Hampshire with former Vice President Mike Pence.
He gave a message that certainly many of his rivals could agree with. They hope that campaign is that the starting point not the ending point, making the case that Labor Day is the traditional launching pad of a campaign. So, that is very much an open question.
Yes, of course, the former president has many supporters, as you were just saying in those national polls, but state by state, the surveys are a little more competitive without question, and the burden is on many of these candidates to make it even more competitive.
When you talk to voters, when you talk to Republican voters, of course, and here in New Hampshire, the all-important independent voters, there is a sense of many more open minds here, trying to see what the field is doing, trying to see who could perhaps, you know, confront the former president in a one-on-one race, but his former vice president, Mike Pence here, just a few moments ago, was answering a question from an independent voter here in New Hampshire.
And John, if there's not a Democratic contest early next year, those Independents all important here could vote in the Republican primary. That's of course what Chris Christie is hoping for, Mike Pence even just trying to woo that Independent voter so that could be a wild card.
But there is no doubt whether the campaign is in the beginning stage or somewhere in the middle, Donald Trump has an overwhelming commanding lead.
BERMAN: Independents obviously do matter in New Hampshire, you are there. What else you picking up on the ground? Because as you do note, it's a state by state campaign to the Republican nomination. Iowa first, then New Hampshire, what is the specific state of play in New Hampshire?
ZELENY: Look, the state of play in New Hampshire is similar to Iowa. The former president certainly has a sizable lead at this point. But there still is a sense that some Republicans are window shopping or eager to win the general election and they wonder if Donald Trump is the person for that.
I was having a conversation earlier today with the New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu and he pointed out how Donald Trump fared here in the general election back in 2020. Lost to Joe Biden by some 60,000 votes. Four years earlier, he only lost to Hillary Clinton by 3,000 votes.
So he believes if there was a rematch between Trump and Biden, that this simply would not be good for the Republican Party. So yes, there is no doubt Donald Trump has a lead in this race. But even some Trump voters with Trump hats on, Trump shirts on still say they are sizing up this field of candidates paying careful attention to the debate.
So the burden is on someone or perhaps a couple of people to certainly increase their standing here. So yes, he's the leader, the frontrunner, but you get a sense of some open minds here as well -- John.
BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny in Rye, New Hampshire. Jeff, great to see you.
Joining us now, former Republican congressman, Joe Walsh, host of "The White Flag Podcast." Also former Republican political consultant, Stuart Stevens. He is currently an adviser to The Lincoln project and a partner at Resolute Square. His upcoming new book is "The Conspiracy to End America: Five Ways My Old Party is Driving Our Democracy to Autocracy."
With us as well, Axios senior contributor, Margaret Talev, Director of Syracuse University's Institute for Democracy, Journalism, and Citizenship.
Stuart, you have seen a lot of labor days heading into primaries and general elections. At this point, do you see any evidence that any of the Republican candidates are doing anything to puncture Donald Trump's lead?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, John, you remember when we first met in 2000, I was part of the brain trust that took a 60-point lead for George Bush in the New Hampshire and we lost by 19, you know, you really have to work at.
So I think anything is possible. There's going to be a race here. Someone -- Trump isn't just going to walk away with this. The market demands are raised.
To me, the question is, the person in second or third, are they going to be offering an alternative vision to Trump? And right now, the top three candidates in the Republican nomination all support Putin's position in the war, they really -- all of them say that they will pardon Trump and the insurrectionists. There is really no difference. It is Trumpism whether or not Trump is the messenger, or Ramaswamy or DeSantis is the messenger.
So that to me is the question, can someone who offers a different, very different view of where the party should go in the country should go, do they have a fighting chance in this primary? I think the answer to that is no, but we'll see.
BERMAN: You know, Congressman Walsh, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I've heard you say that the idea that it's a race at all is an illusion, that it's Trump's party, it is his nomination, full stop.
That said, what advice would you give to someone along the lines as to what was just saying, what advice would you give to Chris Christie? What advice would you give to Mike Pence? What advice would you give to the people who are campaigning in New Hampshire tonight, to have any chance of beating Trump?
JOE WALSH (R), FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: John -- and John Berman, it's always good to be on with you and it is good to be on with my friend Stuart Stevens.
There is no race here. I'm going to -- I don't want a full stop, because I'd like to say a little bit more, but I'm going to repeat myself. I'm a broken record.
So many people in this country, so many people in your business, John, so many people in my business pined for and prayed for some kind of a race, and they just can't accept the fact that this is different, that my former party is not a party, that it is a cult, and Donald Trump is a cult leader.
There is no race here. Nobody -- Stuart said it, John, nobody in the field is trying to beat Trump. Nobody.
If you are a critic of Trump, you have no shot in the party. If I were giving advice to anybody who wanted to run for president, it would be to go after Donald Trump with everything that you've got.
But if you do that in this Republican Party, you're done as a Republican.
BERMAN: I don't want any full stops in this conversation. Let me just be clear about that. And to that end, Margaret, let me try to go about this a different way, the latest Republican polling, you can see it right there. This is in "The Wall Street Journal." This is obviously a national poll, and in presidential elections, the primaries at least are state by state.
Nonetheless, they do paint, you know, a tough haul. You know, a long road for any Republican not named Donald Trump, but with four indictments and skipping a debate won't hurt him, is there anything that you think could?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you've summed it up correctly. I mean, what Republican voters in the survey are saying is that they're really treating Trump like he is still the incumbent, and that he's just running for re-election rather than sort of treating him like you would see an ex-president who lost the last re- election, and then tried to overturn it. That's not what these surveys suggest.
This "Wall Street Journal" survey showed DeSantis crashing since the time he announced his candidacy. And a very slight uptick for a couple of candidates like Nikki Haley, nowhere in proximity to breach the wall, but one unknowable. And I think this is what Stu was sort of alluding to is that we haven't seen what would happen if every GOP rival held hands and said, Donald Trump can't be the guy anymore.
Maybe it wouldn't make any difference. Maybe his numbers would continue exactly as they are, but the reason they won't do it is because nobody wants to step out and have everyone else step back. And consultants are telling them it's a death wish, you know, don't do it.
But if you add up every other rival support plus Ron DeSantis' support, Trump is actually just as solid if not more solid than he was before the four criminal indictments. And those early numbers about third party or unaffiliated voters suggests that Joe Biden actually has a real race on his hands for the general election if it ends up being a Trump Biden contest.
And I think that's why we're starting to see Biden really ramp up the criticism on the union stuff and the economy for now.
BERMAN: We're going to get to that in just a second. But Stuart, Margaret brought up something I actually wanted to talk to you about because she mentioned the idea of everyone else dropping out of the race or at least a number of them dropping out.
You mentioned you worked for George W. Bush in 2000. I also covered you when you were working for Mitt Romney in 2012. He wrote an op-ed where he suggested that basically the other guys, candidates running against Trump need to get out. He said: "Get candidates they support to agree to withdraw if and when their paths to the nomination were effectively closed. That decision day should be no later than, say, February 26, the Monday following the contest in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina."
Based on what you're seeing, do you think these candidates should think about getting out if they're in the low single digits? And if so when?
STEVENS: Well, it depends on which candidates. I want someone who will oppose Donald Trump. I want someone who's going to go out there and say that Donald Trump is a huge danger to the country and Trumpism is a huge danger.
You know, I've tried to organize these things before, and I can say I've had a hundred percent failure rate. You know, people run for president, because they want attention. They want to be on the debate stage, and campaigns never end because like somebody just gets tired of running. They end because you run out of money or you run out of time.
And a lot of these campaigns are going to live off the land, be on debates. A lot of them are really running for four years from now. Some are running for Cabinet positions, some are running probably for Veep.
So most of the people in this race aren't really running for president of the United States. But you know, John, the thing is that we just have to accept Donald Trump represents where the Republican Party is. He didn't hijack the party, he revealed the party and that is why he's doing so well.
BERMAN: Joe, there had been conventional wisdom that Donald Trump maybe couldn't lose the primary but can't win a general election. Well, this "Wall Street Journal" poll has a neck and neck with Joe Biden right there. So do you think that conventional wisdom needs to go out the window? Do you think Trump could win a general election?
WALSH: John, if we haven't learned anything in the past seven years, it's that every aspect of conventional wisdom ought to go out the window. Yes.
And actually, John, when you poll Republican voters, they particularly believe that Trump is has the best chance of beating Biden.
Look, I think Mitt Romney is living in Lalaland. This is craziness. These people just can't accept, none of us -- I have a hard time accepting it and I come from the base of the party. The base of the party is not where Mitt Romney is, it's where Trump is.
Stuart is right. A candidate should come out and say Donald Trump is an existential threat to this democracy, because he is, but if you say that as a Republican today, you're done as a Republican. I think the country needs to understand that.
BERMAN: Joe Walsh, Stuart Stevens, Margaret Talev, look forward to speaking to you much more on these subjects in the future.
Next on patrol with the Ukrainian drone team searching for targets. Plus the impact their new Defense minister could have, and what the possibility of North Korea supplying arms to Russia could mean on the battlefield.
Later, one of music's greatest, James Taylor on the passing of the truly original, completely irrepressible, and sadly irreplaceable Jimmy Buffett.
BERMAN: New developments today and over the weekend surrounding the war on Ukraine.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired his Defense minister and nominated a replacement. We'll talk about in a moment with retired Army three-star General Mark Hertling.
Also, a rare trip out of the country for Kim Jong-un. He is headed to Russia this month. The North Korean dictator is expected to meet Vladimir Putin and discuss supplying Russia with weapons to use in Ukraine.
First, a rare look at the front line and Ukraine's growing drone war against Russian invaders.
CNN's Melissa Bell reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: Here we can see Russian military equipment hidden in this small forest.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukraine's security service preparing for a raid across enemy lines.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: It is an infrared [camera], right?
BELL (voice over): In a war of artillery, and drones, and plenty of creativity.
BELL (on camera): It looks almost like a -- like a toy.
"PIXEL," SBU DRONE PILOT: It is Chinese toy with some upgrades and some innovations, with some magic.
BELL (voice over): Enough magic that this especially-made drone will travel far beyond the Zaporizhzhia frontline.
In search of a Russian air defense system, it flies deep into enemy territory towards a town that is one of the main objectives of the southern counteroffensive, Tokmak.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: We are approaching the target. We are approaching the target.
BELL (voice over): At the other end of the phone, and watching the same screen, a HIMARS unit is ready to launch. The call sign of this drone's unit commander is Bankir, a reminder of his life before the war, when this land was still Ukrainian.
"BANKIR," COMMANDER, SBU UNIT: Now you can see, this is Russian's vehicles moving. This is checkpoint, Russians, you can see in Tokmak.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking foreign language.)
GRAPHIC: Left, left. Aim left.
BELL (voice over): But tonight, they've been unlucky. The air defense system they wanted to hit is no longer there.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking foreign language.)
GRAPHIC: We're coming home. The target is not there.
BELL (voice over): Home for tonight is a field about 15 kilometers north of the frontline. Using only red lights to avoid detection, they've got a bird's eye-view of the battle below and what's happening beyond.
"BANKIR": We are hunting for them for some time. We have some results. We know where we know they're hiding. We know where they are moving. So it's just about time, just to find them.
BELL (voice over): And each time it flies, the drone records precious information. The state of Russian defenses, vehicles, and systems being moved, even if tonight a Russian air defense system and its four to five officers were, unbeknownst to them, spared.
BELL (on camera): Are you disappointed?
"BANKIR": No. No. We are -- we are not disappointed. This is our resource, it's our work, and we -- we will continue to do it.
BELL (voice over): Until, he says, every last inch of Ukrainian territory has been freed, however long that takes.
BERMAN: And Melissa Bell joins us now.
Melissa, what kind of effect are these drones having on the counter offensive writ large?
BELL: Well, they play an extremely important role from the point of view of Ukrainians, of course, a surveillance role, but also an attack role. And this drone tonight that night, of course, ended up doing surveillance.
Its plan had been to be at the helm of a HIMAR being launched. They're used extremely effectively, but they're used extensively by both sides and that makes things extremely difficult. Now, you saw how painstaking and slow that operation was, in the end, not yielding very much apart from surveillance information.
But imagine on that front line, we've been speaking with some of the soldiers, John that had been responsible for the recapture of Robotyne, considered a huge strategic gain for the southern counteroffensive here in Ukraine, a small piece of territory, but a big gain strategically.
What they explained to us was really that these were apocalyptic scenes. The terrain is extremely flat and open. You have very little cover. One of them described the sky as being black with drones, Ukrainian drones, Russian drones, surveillance drones, attack drones, kamikaze drones that will follow you and seek you out and obliterate you.
BERMAN: The sky black with drones.
Melissa Bell, you and your team. Please stay safe. Thank you.
Joining us now, CNN military analyst and retired Army three-star General Mark Hertling.
General, how significant would a meeting between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin be? And what kind of effect do you think an arms deal between North Korea and Russia might have on the battlefield in Ukraine?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Interesting developments today based on Defense minister Shoigu's initial visit to Ukraine or I'm sorry, to North Korea. It's going to be interesting. I don't think it will be as important as many people are saying it will be.
Certainly, Putin will be able to get a lot of artillery ammunition, which is what he craves. At the same time, he is willing to trade off a lot of technologies having to do with ballistic missiles and nuclear strikes.
So what you're seeing is a quid pro quo between two leaders that are both considered pariahs on the world stage, and they have no one else to turn to. China has relegated North Korea to someone they don't want to deal with. Same thing true with Putin.
Putin has Iran and China potentially now as partners and allies, but he's not getting much from both of those because they'd been intimidated. And we'll see that what comes of this, and what the US government and NATO may do against Korea to advertise some of the things they might be doing and giving up intelligence to show the world what they're doing in violation of many UN mandates.
So you know, they will both be able to try and get a partnership solid, but I don't think it's going to have much of an effect on the Ukrainian battlefield.
BERMAN: There is also this new, probably new Ukrainian Defense minister. He has purportedly been involved in prisoner of war exchanges. He serves as a negotiator on the Black Sea Grain Initiative. He's also a Crimean tartar. How do you see him fitting in to the broader Ukrainian counteroffensive?
HERTLING: It's interesting with him, you know, I think Minister Reznikov, who is the one being relieved right now, who has been the Defense minister for a couple of years, the entire time of the operation, the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, he's tired.
He also has, unfortunately, some of the after effects of corruption within the Ukrainian government, and this is what a lot of Americans don't know about, John. You know, when I was in Europe, we had some real problems dealing with Ukrainians because they were corrupt in many operations in the Balkans, in Iraq.
They have -- the military itself has overcome that, but some of the government officials have not. Mr. Zelenskyy did not have much of a choice other than to relieve Reznikov.
Now, Umerov, the new Defense minister, what will likely be -- that he will likely be the new Defense minister, as you said, he's a Crimean tartar. His family was exiled to Uzbekistan before he was born. So he has a feeling and a patriotism toward Ukraine, and he understands what Russia has done in terms of occupying the territory of Crimea.
You know, he went back there to become the co-chair of something called the Crimea Platform Initiative and he was involved in high level negotiations for the release of prisoners from the 2014 war.
So I think Mr. Umerov is going to be a good replacement for Minister of Defense Reznikov in the near future, and you add to that the fact that he's a Muslim and he was part of Ukraine's delegations with Saudi Arabia to bring the early stages of the peace process going.
So I think, this across the board, gives Ukraine a fresh face and the Ministry and also lives up to Zelenskyy's promise to eliminate corruption inside of Ukraine.
BERMAN: He certainly as a compelling resume, that is for sure. General Mark Hertling, great to see you. Thank you very much.
HERTLING: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: A quick note about someone whose name brought hope to Americans in captivity overseas and whose negotiating talent helped bring them home. Former New Mexico governor and ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson who died over the weekend. He helped secure the release of dozens of Americans over the years from some of the worst places imaginable.
Bill Richardson was 75.
Just ahead, law enforcement still on the hunt for an escaped inmate. Who they've turned to for help, that's next.
BERMAN: The hunt for an escaped murderer is now into its fifth day in eastern Pennsylvania, and authorities have enlisted the mother of 34- year-old Danelo Cavalcante. They are broadcasting her voice urging his surrender near the prison where he escaped.
Authorities are focused on a two-square mile area of woods where they say there have been four credible sightings. Authorities released video on Saturday, it shows Cavalcante at about 12:30 AM approximately one-and-a-half miles from the prison.
CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director joins me now. Andy, what does your gut tell you about how this guy has been able to evade law enforcement for this long five days especially if he's still in the area?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: John, my sense of this is that this was likely an escape of opportunity. So, not the result of a long term planning, working with a confederate, developing, you know, assistance from inside or outside the facility. It was rather an opportunity presented itself that this guy ran.
If that's the case, right now he finds himself without money, without transportation, without any sort of communications device, telephone, internet, anything like that. No food, no shelter. So that would explain why he's not been able to get very far away from the prison.
It also explains why he's been able to evade law enforcement in the more technical ways. Typically, you put surveillance on known associates and family members and residences and you listen to phone lines and hope that contact will be made in an effort to find assistance or money or transportation.
He probably isn't capable of doing that right now. So he's literally living off the land in this heavily wooded area surrounded by private residences on massive pieces of property. And he is just living from minute to minute.
BERMAN: Does the search get harder with these patching day or does it get more likely he will make a mistake slip up?
MCCABE: I think both of those things can be true. Typically as the days go on, it gets harder and harder because that's built around the assumption that your escapees are continuing to move further and further away in a direction that you don't know. This guy, because you've had four sightings in the same area in the last few days, they can be pretty confident that he's still in the area.
And then the mistake factor weighs in, right? If he picks the wrong house to try to break into or puts down at -- he probably is moving at night and then sleeping during the day, if he puts down to sleep in the wrong place that just happens to get, you know, come across by law enforcement or, or others, those sorts of mistakes can really bring an end to this thing.
BERMAN: What about the message from the mother that's being played from speakers? How much of a difference can something like that make? And what do you think went into the decision to try it?
MCCABE: You know, my guess, John, is that they tried it because it was, you know, why not? It doesn't cost them anything. They have those patrol cars and helicopters out there anyway. They're banking on the chance that this young man is so desperate and hungry and sleeping out in the woods and getting devoured by bugs and suffering from the heat and everything else, that he becomes so desperate that maybe the sound of his mother's voice could convince him to give up.
The opposite is also probably true. He's so desperate to stay away from the prison that he just got sentenced to spend the rest of his life in that he's going to do anything humanly possible to get away.
BERMAN: Which makes it very dangerous for anyone who happens to live in that area, particularly near the houses nearby.
Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for being with us tonight. Appreciate it.
MCCABE: Thanks, John.
Just ahead, the escape from Burning Man and all that mud.
BERMAN: After rain, mud, dwindling food and water supplies, and a lot of online jeering by people who really like to mock the Burning Man festival, drier weather today allowed thousands to finally get their trucks and RVs moving and leave.
Camila Bernal has the story of how Burning Man became a muddy mess.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a real sloppy mess out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put the moat around the bar.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tens of thousands of people stuck at Burning Man in the Nevada desert over the weekend, after heavy rains made a mess of the dirt roads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We drove out and got stuck. I made one bad decision. It was up to here.
BERNAL (voice-over): Hundreds of cars ended up stranded on roads leading out of the Black Rock Desert in the northwestern part of the state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything was shut down and getting out was a nightmare.
BERNAL (voice-over): Paul Romero and his wife left Maui's devastation for what was supposed to be a relaxing honeymoon.
PAUL ROMERO, BURNING MAN ATTENDEE: It became a mini disaster for a lot of people. It was impossible to function, impossible to move around, impossible to communicate. Entire camps became pretty much destroyed.
BERNAL (voice-over): Less than an inch of water fell over one 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much water. We are flooded.
BERNAL (voice-over): Organizers of the weeklong festival asked attendees to shelter in place and to conserve food, water and fuel.
TONY COYOTE-PEREZ, CITY SUPERINTENDENT: It's actually been fairly festive. Everybody's taking it in stride.
BERNAL (voice-over): But not everybody. Some so called burners say the mood was festive until supplies started running out. ZOHAR KENNARD, BURNING MAN ATTENDEE: Everybody took their shoes off, started dancing in the mud. It was great. And then the reality sunk in that we couldn't leave.
BERNAL (voice-over): There was one death over the weekend, which authorities say is not weather related. No serious injuries have been reported.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was helping each other out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are making mud sculptures.
BERNAL (voice-over): DJ Diplo and a few others, including comedian Chris Rock managed to walk out and hitch a ride.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Cindy Crawford walked with us, Kaia Gerber, Austin Butler. It was a challenge, but it was honestly one of the highlights of the whole trip.
BERNAL (voice-over): Tens of thousands are now slowly inching their way out of the event grounds. And the man burn, an enormous totem effigy ceremoniously set on fire at the end of Burning Man each year, has been delayed until tonight, making this year still an epic event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is kind of a bonding thing. This is going to be one of those years when you look back and be like, oh, I was there in 2023.
BERMAN: And Camila Bernal joins us now from the site of the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. So how long has it been taking people to get out? Is there like a long line?
BERNAL: A very long line, John. Organizers saying on the average five hours, and it could be more. I talked to one man who told me he was in that line and decided that he was just going to walk because it was a lot quicker. Organizers telling people not to walk and to be patient.
They're also saying at last check, 64,000 people were still here in the desert. A lot of them staying for the burn tonight. But whether you leave today or whether you leave tomorrow, you're going to be in this long, long line.
Now it is normal to wait a long time to leave the festival. But this time around, people leaving with a lot more mud. And of course, very happy to finally be out after two very difficult days, John.
BERMAN: All right, Camila Bernal, keep us posted. Appreciate it.
Next, James Taylor remembers his longtime friend and fellow sailor, Jimmy Buffett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (SINGING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Fans and fellow musicians continue to share tributes to Jimmy Buffett who died Friday of a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. He was 76.
Last night at a concert on Long Island, James Taylor sang his hit song, "Mexico" in honor of his longtime friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES TAYLOR, SINGER-SONGWRITER: So we wanted to dedicate this song to him. He covered this song of mine. One of two songs of mine that Jimmy covered. And it's just my favorite cover ever. This is -- so this is for Jimmy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He and Buffett sang that same song on stage together a decade ago in Boston. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And James Taylor joins me tonight. James, thanks so much for talking to us tonight. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. What went through your mind when you heard your friend Jimmy Buffett had died?
TAYLOR: Well, I was actually on my way down to Long Island and I was hoping to visit, you know, so I just -- what went through my mind is that I was too late.
BERMAN: You first got to know him. I was just reading this lovely piece you wrote for Rolling Stone. You first -- one of the first times you met him in person was in the early 70s sailing. You mentioned Long Island, you know, I think this was a Martha's Vineyard where you first met him. But when you first did meet him, what were your impressions?
TAYLOR: Well, you know, I -- his reputation preceded him. You know, he was -- we just -- we had a lot in common. We knew a lot of people in common. And, you know, he was just known in the sailing community. That's really his -- where his popularity really started among people on their boats and that was somehow somewhere near the heart of his sort of zeitgeist was that, that sailing world and the Caribbean and the sea. You know, that's where he was happiest and he kept coming back to it.
BERMAN: We're looking at pictures of the two of you singing together and you did perform over the years. What do you think made him so special to audiences?
TAYLOR: It was a sort of generosity of spirit and the degree to which he shared his unbelievable joy at being who he was, where he was with his audience, just he loved being Jimmy Buffett and he loved living that life, you know, sort of writ large, you know.
BERMAN: He loved being Jimmy Buffett. You know, people would go to the concerts, the Parrotheads fans to the left fans, to the right. People love that Margaritaville lifestyle. Was he the same in person, in real life, as people, I think, wanted him to be the life they felt he embodied?
TAYLOR: Yes, to a remarkable extent, he was the person that he sort of offered up as a character, you know? He was just exuberant and energetic and adventurous always looking for -- to push the envelope and, you know, he was a pilot. He was a surfer. He was all of those things. And, you know, he was -- but, you know, obviously, he wasn't an abandoned dissipated partier all the time because he was definitely in control, you know.
BERMAN: How did he change over the years? I have to believe the life of Jimmy Buffett in the early 1970s versus, you know, the last 10 years has been a little different.
TAYLOR: No, it's amazing how little he changed, really. I think he just applied that kind of enthusiasm and generosity of spirit to pretty much everything he did, you know, business or performing or just any of the enterprises, the books he wrote, the -- his musical, you know, everything he did.
I think of him as a -- and I think of myself also as a band leader. And he loved that musical community that he basically had assembled around him. And that, you know, he just loved being with them, being on stage with them. He just always got the sense that he was having a great time, you know.
BERMAN: You said you were headed to Long Island and you thought you might get a chance to see him. I'm so sorry that you didn't. What would you have said to him had you had a chance to see him one last time?
TAYLOR: Oh, I have no idea. I I don't know. Just good to see you, man. Good to see you.
BERMAN: And I'm sure it would have been good to see him because I think, by and large, it must have always been good to see Jimmy Buffett. I know it was great to see him when I went to his shows.
James Taylor, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate your time. Sorry for your loss.
TAYLOR: Yes, thank you, John. Sorry for all of our loss.
BERMAN: Next, the legacy of another music legend, a preview of the CNN film, "Little Richard: I Am Everything", and Anderson's conversation with the filmmaker.
BERMAN: Elvis and the Beatles were not the only rock and roll pioneers. There was Little Richard. In just a few minutes, the new CNN film, "Little Richard: I Am Everything", takes a look at his remarkable life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watching Richard see it, I'm like, I don't have to stand there. Use the whole stage. Richard would work that audience, get them up out of their seats, swaying, shouting, waving their arms. Calling, responding stuff.
30 dates. So I saw the Richard 30 times, you know, I mean. Later on, I realized he was like doing church in a theater in northern England, basically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: A quick preview of "Little Richard: I Am Everything" again, just moments away. Recently, Anderson spoke with the filmmaker Lisa Cortes. Here's their conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What was it about Little Richard that got you interested in doing this?
LISA CORTES, DIRECTOR, "LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING": When Richard passed away in the spring of 2020, it's the pandemic. We're all at home eating chips and dip. And I realized that there had been no documentary on this person because I wanted to learn more.
And I also felt that as I continued to work on the film, it became increasingly important to make certain that all of our histories were told with depth and complexity at a time when increasingly there are many places that want to especially tamp down the telling of black histories.
COOPER: It's so interesting about Little Richard, and this really comes out in the film. You know, when somebody dies, everybody knows the name Little Richard. They, you know, Tutti Frutti. They know Long Tall Sally. They know songs. They think they know him.
But when you start to kind of scratch away, you realize there's -- you talked about this complexity. I mean, he was an incredibly complex character.
CORTES: Well, you know, Little Richard is sitting at this moment in history. In 1955, he comes on the scene with Tutti Frutti, and it's also the same year that Emmett Till is killed. It is the time, post- World War II of aspiration and great movement and change. It's the growth of the teenager.
And here comes a black, queer, unapologetically, loud rocker disrupting the stillness and bringing this anarchical, rebellious spirit that brings so much joy, but it also challenges people, too.
COOPER: Well, I mean, how was he able to do that in Jim Crow South?
CORTES: Well, it's a really good question, but, you know, there's been a lot of other gender nonconforming artists who are queer and out. I mean, Liberace is having hits in the 40s. And if we look at American history, there has been gatherings of drag kings and drag queens that go back to the Victorian time.
CORTES: So Americans --
COOPER: Wait, the scene in the 1920s in Harlem, there were huge drag balls that were covered in papers and it was very public.
CORTES: Yes, I mean, Americans are not as conservative as we oftentimes want to think.
COOPER: And yet he also -- I mean, had white audiences, he had -- sometimes his audiences were integrated in areas where that was not allowed.
CORTES: And, you know, he'd like to say that he broke down segregation. Well, I don't know if we can go that far, but there is something about being in spaces that had only been strictly black or strictly white, where young people come together and find this commonality through the music.
COOPER: You also forget how big he was. The Beatles opened for him for a while.
CORTES: He brought them to Hamburg. He introduced Billy Preston, who some call the Fifth Beatle. The Rolling Stones were a bar band and opened for him for 30 days.
COOPER: For 30 days, really?
CORTES: Yes. And, you know, Mick Jagger is really fantastic in this film, explaining what he was able to learn from observing Richard 30 days in a row.
COOPER: That's interesting. And, I mean, you look at Prince and Little Richard, I mean, you see sort of things that Prince was borrowing from Little Richard.
CORTES: Well, there's the performance, there's the fashion, there's the kind of unabashed sexuality on display with your lyrics. And I would like to posit that Little Richard's DNA continues. It continues with artists like Lil Nas X or Saucy Santana. It continues for people who are nonconforming and are, I think, in a space now where they have greater freedom to present them -- their full selves. COOPER: Did he -- I mean, was the end of his life, his career? Did he have -- I mean, did he have money? How was his end?
CORTES: Well, his end was with family. He was comfortable. And I think there still, though, was this lingering desire to really be recognized correctly in the pantheon of who created rock and roll.
COOPER: Yes. Well, this film certainly does that. Lisa, thank you so much. It's fascinating.
CORTES: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And here now the new CNN film, "Little Richard: I Am Everything."