Return to Transcripts main page
Interview with Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt; Interview with Frontline on PBS 'After Uvalde' Correspondent and Latino USA Host Maria Hinojosa; Interview with North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 01, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: All of us agree that Ukraine will become a member of this alliance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: But right now, some aren't so sure. As NATO foreign ministers meet in Oslo, I asked former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt, about NATO
expansion and what it could mean for the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When my niece was in that classroom dying, waiting for you to help, where were you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: -- one year after Uvalde, grieving families are demanding accountability for the deadly school shooting. Journalist Maria Hinojosa
joins me to discuss her new documentary and what, if anything, has changed.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON CLAYTON, CHAIR, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Right now, people across Rural North Carolina are not living, they are surviving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The rural communities left behind. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Democrat Anderson Clayton, the youngest state party leader in America about
how she's connecting with voters.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
All NATO allies agree that Ukraine will eventually become a member of the bloc. That's according to the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as he
meets with foreign ministers in Oslo. But there seems to be some discord about the timing. The German foreign minister says new admissions can't be
allowed if that country is in the midst of a war. And her Hungarian counterpart argues that NATO shouldn't even be a discussing until the war
Meanwhile, in Moldova, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking at a summit of European leaders is adamant that the time is right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Ukraine is ready to be in NATO. We are waiting when NATO will be ready to host and to see and to have
Ukraine. And I think security guarantee is very important not only for Ukraine, for our neighbors, for Moldova because of the Russia and of the
aggression in Ukraine and potential aggression for other part of Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Sweden's much discussed NATO membership is also on the docket at today's meeting in in Norway. But with a few crucial roadblocks to
navigate, namely Turkey. It comes nearly two months after Finland joined the club, and as European nations look to present a united front in the
face of Russian aggression.
So, what could all of this mean for the tide of the war? Former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt, joins me now from Stockholm to discuss.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us.
You are the perfect person to navigate us into the first topic we're going to talk about now and that is Sweden's ascension into NATO. World leaders
and NATO leaders are hoping that we can get some sort of resolution as soon as next month in Vilnius where you will have the latest NATO summit.
In your estimation, do you think that we will get a clearer picture as to where that ascension stands for Sweden in a few weeks?
CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, I hope we will get it well before that, but that remains to be seen. I mean, NATO has already welcomed
Sweden as a new member of NATO. That was done a year ago.
And now, that question has been ratified by all countries except Turkey and expect Hungary. And I think everyone has been waiting for the Turkish
election to be out of the way. And President Erdogan is going to be re- inaugurated on Saturday. And after that, we would hope and expect Turkey to start moving forward. And I would hope and expect that Hungary will follow
I can't guarantee, sorry to say, but I think this is the strong hope urge of, not only myself, but all of other members of NATO as well.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And the concern thus far from Turkey's standpoint, President Erdogan, at least, has been suggesting and saying as much that
Sweden is not combatting terrorism, namely the PKK, The Kurdish opposition which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.
And in response to that, I'd like to get you to react to what we saw in an op-ed post in "The Financial Times" from the Swedish prime minister who's
arguing that the country has stepped up to terrorism fight as part of its NATO bid and says that, Sweden fully supports Turkey against all threats to
its national security and condemns all terrorist organizations, including the PKK, that carry out attacks against it.
What do you make of this particular op-ed and the points that he is arguing there? Is it groveling towards Turkey? Is this their attempt to get Turkey
to finally allow them to join NATO? And how big of a threat was terrorism and the PKK to begin with in your view?
BILDT: The PKK has been, no question about that, the main issue for Turkey, and Turkey has been right. And Turkey -- also, there was an agreement that
was concluded last summer with Turkey, Finland, and Sweden where we agreed that we had reasons to beef up our cooperation in fighting PKK. We have
done so in Sweden, no question about that. I think the Turks acknowledge that.
Now, this is not a one-off that is done just in half a day and something like. We have sort of changed the laws, we have taken action, but we have
an independent judiciary and there is the rule of the law. So, it takes time. But there is no question that Sweden has significantly stepped up its
activities against, in particular the PKK, which is the main source of concern.
We had some catching up to do. That should be said in all honesty. So, the Turks had a point, but I think the assessment made by all of the nations
that have been looking into this, I have heard what -- had reports about what President Biden said to President Erdogan the other day is that this
has been done. Now, is the time to move forward.
GOLODRYGA: And we will wait and see what, in return, Turkey may get in return for its approval for that ascension. So, that's a small hurdle, not
guaranteed, but expected that Sweden will become the 32nd member of NATO.
A much larger hurdle is Ukraine's position. Obviously, you have President Zelenskyy who is saying that the time is right now, and you have other
European leaders and NATO members who are saying, listen, that time may come at some point but now is not the right time, specifically given that
the country is in the middle of a war.
The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said this, NATO's open-door policy remains in place. But at the same time, it is clear that we cannot
talk about accepting new members who are in the midst of a war. That is a reasonable argument given that once a country is as a member of NATO that
Article 5 would be enacted and given that the country is in a war right now, you would have a lot of these countries now involved in this war and
that is an escalation that no one wants to see happen at this point.
But you are hearing other arguments and other ideas, namely from President Macron of France, who is saying, there should be a different path towards
membership. He's advocating a new approach more similar to how the U.S. supports Israel. What is your stance on this issue in particular?
BILDT: I think it's fundamental about what Secretary Stoltenberg said earlier, that you referred to, that Ukraine will be a member of NATO. It's
a timing issue. And there are different views on that, as you referred to, and I think particularly (INAUDIBLE) the views that's coming of the United
I guess that President Biden would be uncertain whether he has two-thirds of the Senate, because that's what he needed in order to ratify NATO
membership prior to the presidential election. I don't know. But what's critical.
I think what President Macron has said is realistic in the way that he says that what they need and what they need now is security assistance. I think
that should be the priority, give them the stuff they need in order to fight them with this particular war, repel the aggression. And then,
security guarantees of some sort. That is sort of as close to NATO membership as you can be short-term and clearly a road to NATO membership,
whether the -- that is next month or next year, that's going to be the discussion and prior to (INAUDIBLE), I guess.
GOLODRYGA: Your argument in a recent op-ed was that whatever the revelation is it needs to be a credible one and that the leaders cannot repeat what
happened in Bucharest 15 years ago, and that is sort of opening the door but having a lot of ambiguity and perhaps leading us to the situation where
we are right now. One can understand and sympathize with Ukraine sort of being stuck in the middle here.
Do you think, however, that -- given that the country is at war, now is the time for a specific yes or no answer?
BILDT: I think one should look at priorities. In my view, the absolute priority at the moment is security assistance. We will support the
Ukrainians. We would give them the arms. We would give them the permission to use the arms. We would need to give them the financial support that the
Ukrainian state survive. That is the most important thing.
Then, security guarantees, that could come in the form of a NATO membership, which could come as a somewhat delayed NATO membership. I think
that is -- I mean, symbolically, no question, extremely important. But the substance is more on the stuff that can be delivered to Ukraine here and
But then I would expect -- I mean, NATO must not repeat the mess that was created in Bucharest in 2008. I think everyone wants to avoid that. And I
guess there is intense diplomacy centered on the White House to a large extent to find some sort of diplomatic solution and some sort of diplomatic
compromise on this.
GOLODRYGA: Henry Kissinger, even though he just turned 100 years old, is not slowing down, and continues to offer his thoughts and views on this
issue. And it's interesting because in a lengthy interview with the economist, he really did a 180. Early in this war and leading up to the
war, he was against Ukraine joining NATO. But now, he has a different view.
And here, I'd like to read from what he said. He said, if the war ends, like it probably will, with Russia losing many of its gains but maintaining
Sevastopol, it's Crimea, we may have a dissatisfied Russia, but also a dissatisfied Ukraine. In other words, a balance of dissatisfaction. So, for
the safety of Europe, it is better to have Ukraine in NATO where it cannot make national decisions on territorial claims.
He's arguing that now Ukraine, after the war, whenever it ends, will be one of the most armed countries in Europe and thus, it is probably safer for
the alliance to have Ukraine join. What do you make of that argument?
BILDT: No. I think Henry Kissinger is absolutely right. It doesn't say anything specific on the timing because he talks about when the war has
been concluded. I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that Ukraine will be a member of NATO at that particular time. I think the debate in, prior to
Vilnius, is exactly what to be new now the next few months, the next year in terms of priorities. And, obviously, there are somewhat divided
assessments. But I don't think anyone, really, is going to take an issue with Henry Kissinger, not because of his birthday, but because he is right
in what he is saying.
GOLODRYGA: Let's talk about the last war in Europe prior to this one in Ukraine. Because once again, it is in the headlines, and I'm obviously
talking about the Balkans, a former U.S. lobby, it was a hotbed of ethnic tensions that ultimately led to a deadly civil war with thousands killed.
Kosovo ultimately got its independence in 2008, through it hasn't been acknowledged by several countries, including Russia and including Serbia,
it never recognized Kosovo's independence. And now, we've recently seen a flare-up and unrest rise after Serbian nationalist boycotted local
elections in Northern Kosovo. The majority of Kosovo, about 90 percent of Kosovo is ethnic Albanians, but about 10 percent in the northern part of
that region are Serbs, and they boycotted an election, turning the election into just a 3 percent turnout up there.
And Albania then instituted their candidates into that -- the contested elections there and put mayors into those regions, for our viewers that
aren't fully aware and caught up on the latest headlines there, I just laid it out to you in a nutshell. There have been some protests. There have been
some NATO Kosovo forces that have been injured. Some 700 additional forces NATO said they will be sending to the region.
You were there right after Kosovo declared its independence. What do you make of what's happening right now and is NATO responding accordingly in
the way you think they should?
BILDT: I think clearly NATO is doing what is necessary, that is to beef up the forces in order to put the lid on the possibility of any sort of
resurgence of violence. But that's not going to solve the issue. We need have to have rapid resumption of the political process. I mean, that was --
as you rightly said, there was a sequence of events. I could even give some events prior to the events that you started with that has not been handled
with the sort of diplomatic care that I think is called for both from Pristina and from Belgrade.
What we see now is the dangers, I would say, buildup of nationalist tensions, both in Northern Kosovo and other parts of Kosovo, (INAUDIBLE),
but also in Serbia, in Kosovo. Nationalist in a poison in the Balkans, and these must be handled with care, and that has not been done. We must go
back to the political process supported by Kosovo -- supported by NATO on the ground.
GOLODRYGA: It's interesting that the U.S. strongly condemned Kosovo given that they have a strong and close alliance. I'd like to read a tweet from
Secretary of State Blinken in response to this earlier this week. He said, we strongly condemn the actions of the governments of Kosovo that are
escalating tensions in the north and increasing instability. We call on Prime Minister Albin Kurti to immediately halt these violent measures and
refocus on the E.U. facilitated dialogue.
It seems the U.S.'s take is that the Kosovars there provoked this latest incitement. Do you agree with that analysis?
BILDT: I agree that we will (INAUDIBLE) of Prime Minister Kurti in a situation where it was tense to do what he did, and that he will -- the
entire thing. Then it has to be said, there are very few saints and angels walking around in these particular parts of the Balkans. So, there's plenty
of blame to spread around. We have seen also Serb hooligans being part of the attack against NATO forces.
So, yes, Secretary Blinken is right. And it wasn't only him to be critical on what the Kosovo prime minister did, I think it was unwise of him. I hope
he recognizes that. I think -- I hope he takes steps back. And I think -- I hope that President Vucic also does what he can do in order to calm the
tension building in Serbia. Because otherwise, things could get very complicated.
GOLODRYGA: You have both sides, Pristina and Belgrade blaming the other for inciting this latest round of violence. I'd like to play a sound for you
because both prime ministers appeared on CNN earlier this week. Let's play some sound from the prime minister of Kosovo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBIN KURTI, KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER: We want to live in a multi-cultural society, but we cannot have a privileged minority because Belgrade is
lamenting for loss of Kosovo in 1999 when NATO intervened to stop the genocide of regime of Milosevic. So, Kosovo is a success story of NATO
intervention. That is what bothers both Belgrade and Kremlin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Do you agree with that take and are you concerned at all that given the proxy that Serbia really is for Russia that Russia could
intervene here as well?
BILDT: I don't think Russia could intervene and I don't think Russia is at the origin of this particular problem at the moment, anyhow. But of course,
if there is tension building up, if there's a new sort of confrontation, Russia could certainly throw some further fire into that, a bit of fuel
into that particular fire. So, that is one of the things that we should be aware of.
And then, of course, Prime Minister Kurti has points, no question about that. The problem is that President Vucic has some other points. And the
local Serbs feel disenfranchised for reasons that goes beyond what we've discussed in Northern Kosovo's feel disenfranchised. They all have points.
And it can only be resolved by a mutual spirit of compromise and understanding that what is happening now is distinctly not in the interest
either of Kosovo or of Serbs or of the people living there.
GOLODRYGA: Well, the situation has expanded into a world of tennis as well. After a first-round victory on Monday, Serbian native Novak Djokovic
weighed into this as well and wrote that Kosovo is the heart symbol of Serbia. Stop the violence. He wrote that on TV camera lens in response to
the latest clashes there.
On Tuesday, the Kosovo Olympic Committee called on the International Olympic Committee to discipline Djokovic and the Tennis Federation as well
to discipline him, no disciplinary measures have been taken thus far. Do you think they are warranted?
BILDT: I haven't a clue what rules they have in the Olympic Committee or in the world of sports concerning this. But Djokovic clearly expresses what is
a feeling among -- not in substantial number of Serbs, and Kosovo was an important part of Serbia in the early medieval times.
GOLODRYGA: But is that helpful?
BILDT: But certainly -- no, it's not helpful. I mean, the early medieval times was, as you might be aware of, a long time ago.
BILDT: And we can't to pursue policies for today and for tomorrow based on emotions that are rooted in what was they (ph) in early medieval times. So,
it's not helpful. That is, of course, clearly the things that needs to be said.
GOLODRYGA: Prime Minister Carl Bildt, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it today.
BILDT: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And turning now to stunning scenes in China. In a rare display of public unrest, ethnic minority Muslims took to the streets to protest
the government's plans to dramatically alter the exterior of a local mosque. Ivan Watson has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rare confrontation between law enforcement and the faithful. Chinese Muslims
clash with police outside a mosque in Southwestern China. For two days last weekend, residents of the village of Najiaying tried to protect their
mosque from a Chinese government reconstruction plan.
They want to demolish the roof of our mosque. An emotional local protesters tell CNN speaking on a condition of anonymity.
This is our last bit of dignity, the protester says. It's like someone going to your house in demolishing it.
CNN reached out to Chinese authorities for comment, but the only official acknowledgment of the incident comes from this local government statement,
urging protesters to turn themselves in after disrupting social order and causing severe adverse impact.
WATSON (on camera): Is it safe to be a Muslim in China today?
MA JU, IMAM AND HUI MUSLIM ACTIVIST: Not safe.
WATSON (voice-over): Ma Ju is an imam and activists from the Hui Muslim ethnic minority living in exile in the U.S.
MA JU (through translator): No Muslim is safe in China. My people, the Hui people, everyone is trembling, scared and living in fear.
WATSON (voice-over): He claims the Chinese government has targeted hundreds of Hui mosques across the country, demolishing their Arabic inspired domes
and minarets and replacing them with Chinese styled architecture. CNN has independently verified the before and after images of several of these
cases. Part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's policy of Sinicization, instructing religions to basically look more Chinese.
JAMES LEIBOLD, PROFESSOR OF CHINA STUDIES, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY: The logic of what China is trying to do is about social reengineering. It's by
WATSON (voice-over): Academics and activists say since Xi came to power there have been crackdowns on expression of religious, ethnic and
MA JU (through translator): Xi Jinping's policies are aimed at all socially organized groups, including Christians, Buddhists, and even some civil
organizations, including LGBTQ.
WATSON (voice-over): CNN extensively reported on the detention of more than a million ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities in China's Xinjiang region in
internment camps. And CNN reported on clashes around churches in Eastern China where authorities chopped the crosses off the top of Christian places
Those scenes in 2015 remarkably similar to the images of protesters trying to protect their mosque today in Najiaying.
Today, they will change our mosque. Tomorrow, they will ban us from going to mosques, the local protester tells CNN. We know because that's what they
did to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
A latch ditch effort to protect deeply personal concepts of faith and identity from being defined by the Chinese state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Ivan Watson's reporting there for us.
Well, we turn now to a reckoning in Texas. One year after the devastating mass shooting at Robb Elementary School left 19 children and two teachers
dead, a new documentary, "After Uvalde," looks at how survivors and grieving families are coping and pursuing justice after having their lives
torn apart. Journalist Maria Hinojosa explores the outrage surrounding the police response time and the push to raise the purchase age of assault
style weapons in the state from 18 to 21. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA HINOJOSA, CORRESPONDENT, 'AFTER UVALDE,' FRONTLINE ON PBS AND HOST, LATINO USA: The officers understood that the weapon was a war-style weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its initial purpose was to kill humans efficiently. It is very good at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trauma and the efforts for change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have hoped that collectively you will have the courage and the strength to do what is just and right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And Maria Hinojosa joins me now from New York. Maria, thank you so much.
This is such a powerful film, talking about one of the darkest moments in our history and just seeing what these families, what this town, what that
state and community had really gone through. And you say in the documentary, for the last year, you haven't been able to stop thinking
about these families and about the City of Uvalde as well. I think a lot of us feel the exact same. How is the community doing right now one year
MARIA HINOJOSA, CORRESPONDENT, 'AFTER UVALDE,' FRONTLINE ON PBS AND HOST, LATINO USA: You know, it's rough. The one-year anniversary is a really
challenging time. As you ask that question, I think back to what Gladys Gonzalez the mother of Caitlyne Gonzalez, whose a little girl, who has
become an activist, what she said to us, which is, we should be spending this whole year grieving and mourning and healing and taking care of
ourselves in our community. And instead, we're having to be fighting for access to information, accountability, the truth, and those doors have
closed for them. And so, it's a challenging time.
I have to say, I wasn't in Uvalde last week when the anniversary passed on May 24th, but the images that I saw, some of what you saw here, of a
community coming together with the music, outdoors, it's a beautiful area, part of the country, these felt to me like something that was really
needed, like public healing. And I've talked about this before, I'm like, public therapy, like public healing in therapy, outdoors, these are the
things that Uvalde needs and they need so much love and attention. And they are getting it in some ways because of the activism.
But on the other hand, you know, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, did not even mention the name of Uvalde in his state of the state address. So,
they feel neglected and ignored in many ways by the politics happening in Texas.
GOLODRYGA: And when you talk about those brave activists, you're talking about people that are 10 years old included among them. As you mention,
Caitlyne Gonzales. And I so appreciate the relationship that you cultivated with her and the time that you spent with her because the victims are among
the living too, and she lost one of her best friends, and you talk to her about that.
And in a very careful way, obviously acknowledging that this is still a young child, but wise beyond her years. I'd like to show our viewers a clip
of that exchange between the two of you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HINOJOSA: So, tell me about your BFF. Tell me more about Jackie.
CAITLYNE GONZALES: She was funny. Her laugh was funny. She snorted.
HINOJOSA: Well, when did you meet?
GONZALES: Oh, she was on the swing, and she was playing by herself. So, I asked her if she wanted to play with me. And she said, yes, and then we
kept talking. And -- yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Clearly, there was a bond that you had with her and a connection that you'll still carry. And it's just -- it's fascinating to see that a
child one day is an average 10-year-old and the next day becomes a celebrity activist in the state, not only fighting for justice for her
classmates and asking the question, why did the police wait so long to come in, but also going further and asking for a change in gun legislation and
raising the age, the legal age that someone can buy an assault weapon, from 18 to 21. Tell us a little bit more about how Caitlyne got that strong
voice that she currently has now.
HINOJOSA: So, I'm a smiling and people are like, she's talking about Uvalde, why does she have a smile on her face? And it's because when I
think back to that scene that you showed, I'm going to actually take us to about 10 minutes before that scene. This was my first visit with Caitlyne,
it was my first kind of formal interview with her. And I've interviewed kids a lot. But I've also experienced quite a bit of trauma. In fact, here
at CNN, when I was a corresponded and covered September 11th for the network.
And in -- when we were doing that first interview in Caitlyne's bedroom, she shut down entirely. And it wasn't just a 10-year-old being like, you
know, it was her trauma that literally took over her body and the way she interacted with me. And my team, my producers, all of us were like, we need
to move out here and get out of the bedroom, get out of the house, go outside. And we had wanted to paint together anyway.
But what I'm trying to say is there is a process, and Caitlyne is going through that. Since she started doing intensive EMDR therapy right then in
January until when I saw her most recently, maybe about a month ago, Caitlyne is a healing little girl. She's much more engaged. She's sleeping
alone now in her own bed without her mom, which she is really proud of doing.
And, you know, Caitlyne is -- seriously, she's an 11-year-old kid who is hilarious, funny, you know, she loves to be called Caitlyne the Slider
Gonzalez, because she plays Little League. You know, she takes silly pictures and sends them to me. And so, I do have this kind of adorable
relationship with now an 11-year-old.
But like you, Bianna, I see the power. You called it international celebrity. I've never use celebrity for Caitlyne. But yes, I mean, she is
an international hero now that people know all around the world. And so, for me, when I think of Uvalde, I think of Caitlyne and I think the
tradition that Caitlyne is following, because Uvalde, of course, is known for much more than just this horrific massacre.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And we'll get to Uvalde's rich history in a moment, and it's just so heartwarming to hear that she is doing well and she continues
to become stronger and doing little things that most kids do on their own but having gone through something like she did, not even being able to
sleep alone, the fact that she can do that now is really, really good news to hear.
Let's talk about the investigation itself, and that is the 77 minutes. 77 minutes. It's just a gut punch to see so many heavily armed police officer
standing outside of the school. Obviously, we don't know what would've happened, how many lives could've been saved, if any, have they got in
sooner. But you work there with "The Texas Tribune" as they piece together some of the information and video they had and trying to answer this
question as to why. Let's show our viewers a clip of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where the response starts to fall apart. The officer stationed themselves at the end of this hallway. After they're
initially driven back, they don't reengage the shooter. That is not what they are trained to do. Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, they're
supposed to engage active shooters until they are subdued. They do not wait for backup. They do not wait for more equipment.
The more time you wait, the more people can get killed and the people that wounded can die. You do not wait for anything. That is what's supposed to
happen and it's very clearly what does not happen here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: What was your biggest take away in this investigation into trying to answer that question, what went so wrong inside Robb Elementary
HINOJOSA: Well, one of my takeaways, and like you, I'm an experience of journalist, I know a lot about a lot of things, but what I didn't kind of
know clearly is that these assault weapons and the bullets they use have the capacity to shoot through regular police armor. So, to me, that's a
headline. I'm not sure why police would even advocate for people having access to this weapon when it is a weapon that can take out the law
enforcement that is supposed to go to protect you. So, I'm trying to wrap my head around that.
But the fact that it's very hard, Bianna, to investigate your way, like we as journalist, to investigate with data, with scientific findings with
facts, you can't investigate your way out of the fact that you have men who were heavily armed, carrying assault weapons themselves who were afraid,
afraid because they knew -- in fact, we hear it in our documentary, they -- we hear the voices when they were giving testimony in the investigation
that we got access to, you hear them say, the first one in would have been taken out. We would've all been taken out because the assault weapon, I'm
sorry to say, is horrific. It is very effective at killing human beings. That's why it's a war weapon.
HINOJOSA: So, you know, it's sad that the other takeaway is that, you know, nothing has changed in terms of gun safety legislation in the State of
Texas. And even though the families and Caitlyne pushed so hard in this legislative session, they got further than anyone has ever gotten before
but it was not voted on and the raising of the age was not passed. They'll have to wait another two years.
GOLODRYGA: They fought a long and hard to do something about that, something even incremental, something as small as just raising the age to
21 years old. And there were some Republicans, some gun activists and supporters and owners who said, maybe they would be open this idea. It got
past a certain threshold that they hadn't reached before. But at the end of the day, it didn't make it.
I want to show our viewers though the fight that these parents continue to make and what you captured them making to these legislators trying to get
them to change their views.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HINOJOSA: In this session, the legislature is facing the divisive issue of guns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's none of your business how many guns I own.
HINOJOSA: After one of the deadliest school shootings in history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We defend the constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do everything to protect these guns. Let's just try something to protect our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And as you noted, no laws have been changed as of now. But am I right to assume that these parents, these families will continue to fight
until that does?
HINOJOSA: Oh, you are so right. And I think that's one of the reasons why Uvalde stands out because the families of Uvalde said to me, we will not
stop. What happened on May 24th in Uvalde made our lives hell. For those who lost children, for those who are survivors, the families. And several
people said to me, therefore, I will fight every day to make the politicians' life hell who stand in our way.
And there is a kind of fury there that, you know, you can feel. So, I think the next two years, the families will be figuring out how do they increase
their activism to actually get to the next level and make something happen. And I'm so sorry to say that there will be other mass shootings in the
HINOJOSA: There were several mass shootings just in the period of time that we filmed, from January until May. So, I do feel like Uvalde is leading the
State of Texas to a kind of tipping point. Are they there? No. But I believe in the activism of the families. And as you said, they are not
going to stop.
GOLODRYGA: And the activism of the families of the activism of Uvalde historically, because this didn't just start last year. And Caitlyne had a
great mentor, in a way, to help her become the activists that she is now because there is a rich history of activism there are among the Chicano
(ph) history and movement, specifically with regards to schools.
For those of our viewers that aren't aware of it, tell us about that.
HINOJOSA: So, this is one of the reasons why I decided I needed to go to Uvalde actually after the massacre happened. When our team at Latino USA
and some other local journalists in Texas found this history, it's right around the corner history, it's the 1970s, when activists organized to walk
out, one of the longest student walkouts in American history happened in Uvalde, Texas.
Why were they walking out? Because if a child was heard speaking Spanish in the classroom, they would get hit. They would get hit with a wet ruler on
the back of their calf just for speaking Spanish in a place that is an hour away from the U.S. Mexico border that is now a majority Latino, Latino
And so, as we hear in the film, from one of the people who protested when she was in high school then, she said, we reached our limit. And the kind
of abuse that the kids of Uvalde we're facing, I mean, the discrimination was extraordinary. So, after that walk out, six weeks long, Uvalde was not
the same. And that -- you are exactly right, there is a part now of the town that is hearing and seeing this history in realizing they can do the
GOLODRYGA: And history has come first circle. And watching that video, Caitlyne said, there's Robb Elementary. There is my school. This community
will continue to fight for justice and for change. Maria Hinojosa, thank you so much for such a powerful documentary and for handling it with such
grace and respect. Thank you.
HINOJOSA: And thank you so much for a great interview and thank you for having us. We really appreciate the conversation.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you, Maria.
And "Frontline," "Futuro Investigations" and "The Texas Tribune's" "After Uvalde: Guns, Grief and Texas Politics" is now streaming for free on
Well, we turn next to a young person making her mark in U.S. politics. At only 25 years old, Anderson Clayton chairs the North Carolina Democratic
Party as the youngest state party leader in the country. But her age has never stopped her from being a vocal advocate for rural communities like
the one where she grew up. She talks to Hari Sreenivasan about her journey into local politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, thanks. Anderson Clayton, thanks so much for joining us.
People might not know that at 25 you are the youngest person to lead the North Carolina Democratic Party. And I guess first I want to ask, what do
you think led to your victory? I mean, you beat not just the incumbent but a person that was supported by the governor, supported by most of the
state's party leadership. What was the message that you were able to convince people to say, it's time for me to be there?
ANDERSON CLAYTON, CHAIR, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks for having us, Hari. I really appreciate it.
I think that, you know, the North Carolina Democratic Party and the folks that are really the grassroots organizers and the folks that put in the
work every single year to help get Democrats elected across the state really got organized and energized by the message of that we need to be
organizing everywhere, across all 100 counties in North Carolina and also by the fact that everybody is worth investing in. And I think that that was
a message that we really conveyed strongly through organizing across all of our 100 counties, but also gave the message that we can't leave out Rural
North Carolina anymore.
And there's been this, I think, perpetuation or kind of idea in our party for really a long time that, you know, demographic changes and urbanization
is going to save the State of North Carolina for the Democratic Party. And for me, I think that we have to organize the state that we're in right now
versus the state that we are idealizing 10 years from now.
SREENIVASAN: So, give me an idea of what has been perhaps missing from the Democratic Party in the State of North Carolina, what have you been seeing
over several cycles?
CLAYTON: I think a real message for working class folks throughout our state. You know, right now, people across Rural North Carolina are not
living, they are surviving. And right now, we have federal ministration, the Biden-Harris administration that has decided to, you know, for the
first time in 50 years, in my opinion, invest in places that look like where I grew up.
And when we looked at what happened in 2007 and 2008 where you had a manufacturing jobs and opportunity, honestly, from the beginning of the
2000s, right, start to lead Rural North Carolina and leave behind economic prosperity for areas and opportunity for these areas that look like places
where I grew up, folks in those communities really started to think that the Democratic Party had left them behind.
And for me, it's about reaching out to folks that are across our state and in these communities that we haven't actually had an economic message for
and saying, the Biden-Harris administration believes in your opportunity to live here 50 years from now, and that's by investing in manufacturing
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So, how does this play out across people that you grew up or your family members? Give me an idea of whether they are part of why
North Carolina is purple and why people switch back and forth?
CLAYTON: Yes. I mean, you know, I tell folks all the time, my dad actually voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and it was one of the hardest things that I
had to go through and my family, honestly, was trying to have a conversation and talk to him about why that happened. And I think that
Donald Trump really spoke to a generation of folks who had felt left behind by government, felt like government didn't actually work for them anymore
or speak to their needs, and they weren't helping and they couldn't see how they were benefiting from the systems that were in right now.
And it's really taken building that trust. It took my mom, who's a health care professional and my sister who's a seventh-grade science teacher and
myself really, you know, working on my dad and talking to him about why we voted for the Democratic Party because that's the party that's going to
protect our human rights at the end of the day. And it's a party that is going to work for working people again again.
And so, I -- but it was hard, right, and it's hard for anybody, I think, to have these conversations with their family, but it takes a lot and it takes
that you have the message to give them. So, I think that it's -- we saw that trajectory, my dad voted for Joe Biden in 2020, he's going to be a
strong Joe Biden supporter again in 2024, but we had -- it took a long time for us to get there, honestly.
SREENIVASAN: So, how did you get back in to kind of rural politics in North Carolina? I mean, looking at your sort of political history, you kind of
went from the city and state levels to the national level and then, now, all of a sudden, kind of focus back down.
CLAYTON: Yes. I mean, I became really disillusioned with national politics after I worked in Kentucky in 2020. I worked for Amy McGrath's campaign
when she was running against Mitch McConnell, and I really got to be in a part of Eastern Kentucky. I was based out of (INAUDIBLE). It was one of
most beautiful places I'd ever seen, but folks kept asking me, you know, what was it like to spend 2020 in the heart of Trump country? And I told
folks, I didn't spend 2020 in the heart of Trump country. I spent it in the place where people felt like government had failed them because they
couldn't figure it how government reaches them or impacts them.
And I knew that I had to go home. I knew that that's where that was leading me because I know that, you know, when you organize folks and when you care
about your own community you can show that in the places that you grew up.
And so, I got led back to Rural North Carolina, I think, by the fact that I knew I wanted to change it to be a place for someone like me could grow up
there and not have to be forced to leave it, honestly, one day.
SREENIVASAN: What's at stake when it comes to 2024 in North Carolina considering -- and we can talk some -- about some of the issues that are
already facing the state and what's happened in recent politics, but what are you focused on as the party chair, either to revert or, you know,
change those things or to try to focus on something coming towards a national campaign?
CLAYTON: Yes. I mean, the number one issue, I think, that I'm really focused on is trying to, honestly, promote economic opportunity for folks
across our state. It is particularly in Rural North Carolina. We are obviously going to run very strong on abortion rights and being able to
maintain bodily autonomy in our state. Also, housing for me is a huge issue, particularly when you're thinking about young people and being able
to adequately afford housing right now.
And particularly in Rural North Carolina too, we see that every single day with how housing has become more and more expensive. And what's happening,
you know, urban gentrification is also happening and, you know, promoting, honestly, rural gentrification, particularly in our rural areas that we
have outside of our major metropolitan areas.
North Carolina has the second highest population of rural folks in -- besides Texas, honestly, because we have so many dense rural populations
throughout our state. And so, when we look at what the cost-of-living raise is doing in some of our urban areas, it's also having that effect and that
is still down, honestly, in outdoor urban -- or rural communities as well.
SREENIVASAN: How much do the kind of culture wars play into what happens in North Carolina? Because when you mentioned reproductive rights, the polling
in the state shows that the majority of people prefer that a woman have a right to choose and have that autonomy. Yet, recently, you know, the
legislature rolled back abortion or reproductive rights protections in the state.
CLAYTON: Yes. I mean, I think that we obviously seen an overwhelming amount of North Carolinians who are supportive of bodily autonomy and reproductive
freedom. And we know that Republicans right now are going against what the majority of our state believes in, and they had to do it in the way that
they did it, right?
You know, Republicans push through a bill within 48 hours because the Representative Tricia Cotham switching parties and becoming a Republican,
gave the Republican Party a supermajority, right? And Democrats and, honestly, voters, right, in North Carolina didn't give them that a
supermajority, that power. They elected a representative that was going to fight on behalf of reproductive autonomy and she didn't that.
And so, for us, it's really seeing the fact that voters are going to have something to say in 2024 at the ballot box because, right now, that is our
only option to fight back against the regression in North Carolina, unfortunately. That's the only option Republicans have given us right now.
Because it's not just enough to go to the General Assembly right now and advocate and fight on behalf and try to get to your legislatures to uphold
what they ran on, right, we also have to fight back even harder this year and next year.
SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about what's happening with public education in North Carolina and is that similar to what you've seen in
other states when you've been working there?
CLAYTON: I mean, Republicans over the last decade in our state have slowly but surely been defunding public education throughout North Carolina. We've
seen it with a proposed budget that they have come up with out of the General Assembly this year when we are trying to give, you know, voucher
programs to charter schools into private schools that are really enforcing indoctrination in some way when you think about the religious component to
And, you know, there's a separation of church and state for a reason in the United States and that exists. And right now, North Carolina is releasing
the, I think, defunding and the strangling of our public schools. And not just the sense of defunding and underfunding, you know, public teacher pay
but also in the sense of how we're trading our classrooms.
You know, there used to be -- I've talked to a lot of teachers about this, and they say, Anderson, you know, there used to be a respect of -- that
came with being a public-school teacher, and that's just not the case anymore in North Carolina. And I think that we have a long way to go when
it comes to supporting public education and really putting back the money that it needs to have into it, to be honest with you.
SREENIVASAN: But Republicans will say, look, this is not an attempt to defund public education but to try to give parents more choice. What's
wrong with that argument?
CLAYTON: The fact that not everybody has that choice, right? I mean, you know, private schools don't exist in so many places in Rural North Carolina
right now. You're not giving everyone the opportunity that you think you are. And also, folks that can already afford those schools are not going to
be able to afford them even with the voucher program, right? It might make them more affordable for the students and the parents that are already able
to, but you're looking at some of the wealthiest kids throughout the North Carolina who shouldn't be able to just have a free education because that's
the school that they want to go to, and it's not a public education -- or it's not a public education system.
I just don't believe that that's the way that we are trying to enforce an equitable public education system that's guaranteed by our state
SREENIVASAN: You know, when people think of politics, oftentimes we have this tendency to look at the national races because it seems that all
politics has been nationalized. How do you convince people in Rural North Carolina that -- especially if they are disenfranchised with the idea of
government that they should take part, that they should work on the city council level that -- you know, forget about the feds say, here's something
you can do and should do?
CLAYTON: I mean, I think about it through what we did in Person County. So, I was a Person County Democratic Party chair before I became the state
party chair. And in 2021, we flipped the Roxboro city council from red to blue, and it's something that -- Roxboro the city within Person County and
it's something that I never thought was possible there growing up, to see Democrats elected at the local level.
And I didn't realize though that 51 percent of the City of Roxboro was black, and they had never had their doors knocked, they had never had their
phones called, they've never seen candidates run that looked like them, that, you know, talked about the issues that were important to them.
And so, in 2021, we had three really amazing black Democrats run for city council, Shaina Outlaw, Cynthia Petty and Peter Baker And they were all
representative of the community and they had been involved for 20 years or they have been activist and organizers who had helped somebody get their
first job or, you know, they help this person pay their bill one month.
And its folks that have just touched people's lives, if they know that person is not representative of just politics and be -- trying to be a
politician but they are somebody that really wants to help me, they want to be a public servant again, which is something that I feel like we have to
get back to.
And so, I really tell -- or try to tell people, you know, that story to inspire them of you can get involved in your backyard. And the one vote you
have in your own local community, your city council race, your county commission race, sometimes means a lot more than it does at the national
level or the statewide level, depending on kind of what that race can look like for you.
But I say, we need to put on amazing candidates who have visions for their communities.
SREENIVASAN: So, what do you tell these folks, these young folks, these kind of energize new folks, especially in rural parts of North Carolina
because the Republicans have been as successful as they had, is it because they have a better message, is it a branding problem? What are the hurdles
that the Democratic Party has to overcome to try to do in the rest of the state what you might even able to do in Person County?
CLAYTON: I think we definitely have a branding problem, right? I think that that is the -- but that also comes from showing up. I think that we have a
branding problem because we've allowed Fox News and we've allowed these Republican silos in rural areas to really dictate a message for us, and
they've been giving that message for us for so long and we actually haven't had the fighters on the ground that we've needed in all of these
communities to fight back against disinformation and also try to help folks understand, here's what the Democratic Party really stands for right now.
You know, I don't have -- I tell folks all the time, they asked me, they go, Anderson, how do you talk to rural voters? And I'm like, I'm not trying
to talk to rural voters, I'm trying to talk to rural Democrats again because we don't do -- we need to do that first before we try to do the
other side of this. And I think we've just got a call back our own people into our party because we have the numbers that we need here.
It's the fact that Democrats are consistently not showing up to vote because they don't either feel inspired by the folks that we have running
or they're not feeling like the campaigns are actually reaching out to them or they don't feel like governments are actually working for them, or they
might just be disenfranchised, right, because North Carolina is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country thanks to my Republican state
legislature, right? Like it's hard to know where your -- like who are you voting for, what district lines do you have right now?
And it's hard to feel connected, I think, when you had such a chaotic, right, political system. And so, I think it's really trying to galvanize
people around a center message, which is that the state party is trying to make sure 100 counties have strong Democratic voices and messengers in them
and that you need to get involved right now with that county party to make it stronger. And that's where you're going to find your people. That's
where you're going to find your community.
And I think that's one of the biggest things that we're trying to do this year too, is bring community to Rural North Carolina for folks that have
felt like their voices have been silenced for far too long.
SREENIVASAN: When you officially got the job, is their resistance of a different story, saying, yes, you know what, these people need to kind to
wait their turn?
CLAYTON: I mean, I think that a lot of folks looked at me when I got this job, and honestly, still to this day, right, when I walk in a room, no one
thinks that I am the state party chair. When I start speaking though, people do know that I am the state party chair. And I think that that's an
important point of reflection for me in this job too to take on is that I have really, I think, tried to surprise people with what I have to offer in
the sense of the ideas that I have but also the way that I see the strategy forward for our state.
And I think that young people are so capable, and I think that we are just as able and intelligent and honestly, like-minded as anybody else that
would have gotten into a job like this.
SREENIVASAN: So, how much does the top of the ticket matter? So, say, for example, you are successful in tapping into this interest in this
generational change and people feel like, OK, maybe, you know what, it is time to let Gen Z come in.
Because at the same time, at the top of the ticket is President Biden and there are polls that show a number of people, a high percentage are
concerned about his age and when he barnstorms through North Carolina, is he going to be an asset or a liability for some of these younger, newer,
fresher faces that are trying to get into North Carolina party politics?
CLAYTON: Well, I hope if he comes through North Carolina, he's bringing Dark Brandon with him because if so, absolutely. I think that he's going to
definitely rile up young folks throughout the state that are just excited to see a message that's not what the Republican Party is giving right now,
which I think is trying to take our state backwards, right?
You know, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party offers a lot of hope right now. They offer a party that's thinking about the future, not thinking
about the past and trying to take us back there. And for young people, I mean, we don't want less rights, we want more. And that's what this
Democratic Party is fighting for.
And so, I tell any young person right now, if you're confused about which direction you're going to vote in in 2023, in our municipal races in 2024,
in our next year. You know, you want to vote for the party that's going to have your back and that's going to be fighting for your rights. And that's
on the Republican Party right now.
And so, the party that, you know, is inspiring change and wants to see more young people involved with it, that has a young Democratic Party chair that
wants to see you take on a position of power within it is the Democratic Party. And that's the party that you need to be a part of right now, I
So, that's going to be my message. But I definitely consider Joe Biden an asset coming through North Carolina. And I would love the opportunity to
have some great young surrogates get up there and campaign with him too and provide that other supportive energy and excitement that young folks need
to see right now.
SREENIVASAN: So, at the end of your term, what do you think success looks like? How are you going to measure your time?
CLAYTON: Yes. I want to win an election in 2024. I want to keep a Democratic governor in 2024. But I really want to make sure that I have
municipal races in 2023, that folks start to see Democratic flips in and folks that they knew and that they supported get elected at a local level.
If I can look back after two years in this job and say that we have 100 strong county parties that are vocalized and getting out in their
communities and trying to make good things happen in their own backyards, I'm going to have done my job. And if I see more young people involved with
this party, then I have, over the last eight years on it, I've done my job, I think.
SREENIVASAN: Anderson Clayton, chair the North Carolina Democratic Party, Thanks so much for joining us.
CLAYTON: Thank you, Hari. I appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye
from New York.