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At This Hour

Extreme GOP Members Test Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) Management Style; Richard Branson's Big Risk Going to Space This Weekend. Aired 11:30-12p ET.

Aired July 09, 2021 - 11:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: At this hour, new questions about whether House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy can keep his most extreme members in check. His management style clearly being tested.

Joining us now is CNN's Abby Phillips, she's the Host of Inside Politics Sunday. Abby, let's start with this new reporting from CNN's Melanie Zanona, new details on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy behind the scenes, making efforts to manage some of his most extreme members, including one of his top advisers trying to rehab the reputation of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman who, despite making apologies, has repeatedly made outrageous comparison invoking Nazis. Why does McCarthy keep letting this slide?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where the Republican base is right now. It is firmly on the side of the Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Lauren Boebert and others who are pushing the envelope here. It is not so much about just about Trumpism anymore. It is also about the sort of anti-P.C. culture, pushing the envelope in all of the different ways. And McCarthy knows that if he alienates those members of Congress, he alienates their supporters and their voters too. And he's clearly unwilling to do that.

But in doing so, he's emboldened Marjorie Taylor Greene, as you saw, when we she went back to her Nazi comparisons because she knows that there will no consequences for it, there's absolutely no desire in Republican leadership to punish her for it.

SANCHEZ: So, Abby, this is essentially projecting the Republican playbook going into the 2022 midterms of obstructing Joe Biden's agenda, mining the culture wars for, as you noted, anti-P.C. sentiments in the base and trying to pass voting restrictions based on the big lie. Is there any other pathway for Republicans to win other than essentially embracing Trumpism that way?

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, as you pointed out, none of the things that you mention involve Republicans talking about their policy ideas or ideological for how they want to govern. And I think it is a reflection of how difficult this Biden era has been for them. They are having a hard time demonizing Joe Biden. They're having a hard time mounting opposition to Biden's policies, so obstruction is the best option that they have available.

But also on other side, the culture war stuff, the election conspiracy theories, these are all things that are riling up the GOP base. It's what's getting the fundraising going. It's what makes their supporters energized. And so they are focusing on those things.

Will that be enough to carry them into 2022, which is actually a long way from now? It is really an open question, because these are all kind of -- I think they are things that energize the base but they don't really expand the Republican appeal in the middle with independents and suburban voters, in particular.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The concern from some on the right is that this might help them win primaries but it won't necessarily work in a general election. Abby Phillip, excellent, as always. You can catch Abby Sunday mornings starting at 8:00 A.M. on Inside Politics Sunday. Great to see you.

PHILLIP: Good to see you too, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Thanks. A space flight decades in the making as Billionaire Richard Branson tries to beat Jeff Bezos into space. Details in a live report from the launch site after a quick break. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Richard Branson is risking it all trying to become the first billionaire to get to suborbital space on his own spacecraft. If all goes according to plan, Branson will take a rocket-powered plane on a 2,400-mile an hour ride to the very edge of space and then come back down to Earth, beating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos by nine days.

CNN Business Innovation and Space Correspondent Rachel Crane is live at the launch site in New Mexico. Rachel, the stakes are pretty high for Branson and not just for him individually, but also for the space tourism industry.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN BUSINESS INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: That is absolutely right, Boris. I mean, Branson himself in the space tourism industry, more broadly, has been waiting nearly two decades for this space flight. So, people here on the ground and really space enthusiasts all around the world very eager to see this space flight take off on Sunday, nobody more excited than Richard Branson himself.

I had the opportunity to speak with him just a few days ago about this upcoming space flight. He said he has never been more excited in his life.

And on the point of the competitive spirit between Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's space company, and Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's space company, Branson saying they do not see this as a race, despite the fact that outsiders have sort of pegged it that way. In my conversation with him, he went so far as to invite Jeff Bezos to the launch on Sunday.

Now, of course, it remains to be if Jeff Bezos will, in fact, be present.


I have a feeling he is very busy preparing for his own suborbital space flight which is scheduled for July 20th, which also happens to be the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing. So, a lot of exciting stuff happening in the space community in the next few days.

Now, here at Space Port America, Richard Branson has been putting himself through the paces of the astronaut training program. That's because his objective on this space flight is to test the astronaut experience. Of course, that experience begins before they enter into the cabin. They need to be, of course, briefed on all of the safety protocols of the spaceship and know what to expect.

So that is what he has been doing in the past few days. Today is his down day. He's with family and friends enjoying this moment, soaking it all in before the world gets to watch this incredible journey scheduled for Sunday. Boris?

SANCHEZ: All right. Rachel Crane reporting from New Mexico, thanks so much for that.

Let's speak to an expert on the details about this space flight. Joining us now, CNN Aerospace Analyst Miles O'Brien. Miles, I appreciate you coming on.

I want you to assess the dangers involved in this flight. It is a rocket-powered space plane. It's been in development nearly two decades. It's had a number of delays, safety hazards and, in fact, during development, there was an accident, in which a test pilot was killed, right?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AEROSPACE ANALYST: Yes, Boris. You know, this goes back to 2004 and the Ansari X Prize, which was won by Burt Rutan and Scale Composites. And shortly after that, successful pair of flights to space by civilians, Richard Branson stepped in and bought the technology and pursued it and we all thought this would happen in about five years' time.

And here we are many years later, and we're just getting to the point where this is happening. And it just proves that space is hard. Not only did we lose the test pilot in 2014, but in 2007, three employees of Scale Composites died when a rocket blew up on a test stand in Mojave.

So there is a lot of risk involved in space. Any time you go to space and achieve speeds approaching 3,000 miles an hour, as Sir Richard will do on Sunday, if all goes well, you're taking a risk.

SANCHEZ: And, Miles, I'm thinking about this from a historical perspective, the first space race ushering in a new era of American- led scientific innovation. How does this new competition between billionaires, instead of global powers, how does this advance the industry of space travel?

O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, part of it seems seeming like kind of a gold- plated bungee jumping for the elite, right? I mean, we could look at it that way, right? But when you look at any great innovation that has come along, including airline travel, the early adopters are the people with the deepest pockets, right? In the 20s and 30s, who was flying on Ford Trimotors? The richest people. And now, today, we can fly all over the world affordably.

So it's kind of hard to connect the dots today and see that far into the future but this does portend a new era where more people would get to have this experience. Rachel was just saying we're approaching the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 60 years into the space age and precious few people have flown. Only about 500 people have gone to space. Well, there should be 500 people going every year or every month and that is possible as this era begins.

And it really -- it goes back to 2001 and Dennis Tito, the California businessman, kind of forcing his way on to the International Space Station and here we are today.

SANCHEZ: And some very ambitious goals, 500 people to space in a month. All right, we'll see if it happens. Miles O'Brien, I hope we're on a flight together to space at some point.

O'BRIEN: I'm with you, pal.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Miles.

So, there is confusion over COVID booster shots. Pfizer said it is working on one but the CDC and FDA say fully vaccinated Americans don't need one, at least not yet. What you need to know, ahead.



SANCHEZ: The characters you can't get enough of in the situations you can't stop laughing at. Since the beginning of television, sitcoms have kept generations of Americans smiling and help them navigate an ever-changing cultural landscape.

The new CNN original series, The History of the Sitcom, takes you behind the scenes of your favorite sitcoms over the decades. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those were not real people but they entertained and delighted us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, kids, dinner is on, we're sitting down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get to Father Knows Best, it's very patriarchal dealing with tiny, little problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A quiet evening at home, I can use it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I played Bud. Bud usually had a problem with truth-telling on some level?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was all the racket upstairs?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father Knows Best represented the good life, the American dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, I'll read you one story and off to bed you go.


SANCHEZ: Joining us now is actress Patricia Richardson. She's one of the stars of the hit family sitcom, Home Improvement. Patricia, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

let's talk about the premier episode.

PATRICIA RICHARDSON, ACTRESS, HOME IMPROVEMENT: Thank you for doing this show. It's a wonderful show and I'm really proud to be any part of it.

SANCHEZ: Yes, we're grateful to have you. The premier episode of History of the Sitcom looks at how American families are portrayed on T.V. Tell us about the family dynamic that you created on Home Improvement, especially the relationship between your character, Jill Taylor, and her husband, Tim.

RICHARDSON: Well, I was fortunate, as a sitcom mom, to come along a little later in this whole thing. I followed Roseanne, really, and I worked for the people who originated -- who originally created Roseanne. And so you have a different kind of a sitcom wife by the time Roseanne kind of broke ground and then Patricia Eaton and I and others were able to not have to be quite so perfect or just serving the interests of the male in the show.

So there was a bit of a change. I was the sort of reality police on the show. So -- and so was Tim. So we were constantly trying to bring in our own real lives and what it actually is like to be a wife/mother, blah, blah, blah, for me into the show.

So it's consistently because the show was so behavior-focused and we planned the year out by how the kids -- what the kids were doing, it -- because we really tried to be a real family and use our own real experiences. We had a lot of identification coming from audience members. They'd say you're watching us through our windows.

I had women tell me they went back to school because Jill did, which I found really shocking but great, so gratifying. But I -- I kind of feel like people watch T.V. to get an idea of what normal is because nobody knows what normal is. I have a shrink friend who says there's no such thing as normal but -- which is comforting, but I think that we watch the way that the old days, they sat around the fire and traded stories.

Now, we watch the T.V. to a great extent to see what are other people doing, how are they feeling, what are they experiencing and feeling, perhaps validated by -- I had that feeling, I guess I'm not crazy because I'm seeing it all over television, so other people are also feeling that. I felt that very strongly because of the woman's movement and being a wife, and I'm a feminist. And I wanted very much to bring that into the world. And that was what I was told when I was asked to do the show.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you about that, Patricia.

RICHARDSON: Yes. They said to me that it's about this book called, You Just Don't Understand, by Deborah Tannen, as much as it is Iron John, which everyone was familiar with the show being based on. And I loved the quote that our writers told us originally, which was the show is about why men and women shouldn't live together. All the differences, how we think differently, feel differently.

But I think that most importantly, people were comforted in the show by huge disagreement between these two characters, but humor and love that allowed us to get through fights that were sometimes a little dicey and get through tough times.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a message that permeates through today. That's why Home Improvement is one of those timeless show. I loved watching it growing up.


SANCHEZ: I did. I'm really grateful that you were able to join us this morning. Patricia Richardson --

RICHARDSON: Oh, I'm so glad --

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for the time.

RICHARDSON: I hear from so many different generations because the show was on 30 years, people -- younger people coming up going I grew up with you, I'm like what are you, 20? It's very gratifying to have people still watching and really enjoying it.

SANCHEZ: All right. Thank you so much, Patricia.

And be sure to tune in for the History of the Sitcom. It premiers with back to back episodes Sunday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.

We want to leave you with something a bit uplifting this morning. What if something you've done purely out of the goodness of your heart and never told anyone? That question was recently posted on Reddit. And in response, a New Jersey man shared how he donated a bicycle to a child in a foster care through an organization, One Simple Wish. It was founded by a CNN hero.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somehow it just blew up.


There were just thousands of comments of people relating to the foster care experience, and then it was just this with one after another of people saying you know, we should just clear their site. We should grant all of their wishes. And then it just snowballed until they crashed our site.

We got the site back up, they granted more wishes. Eventually, they cleared the site of all the wishes. It's definitely given all of us a renewed sense of energy and hope and it certainly does remind you that there's so much more good in this world than anything else.


SANCHEZ: To nominate someone you know to be a CNN hero, go to

Thanks so much for joining us this week. Kate Bolduan is back on Monday. Inside Politics with John King starts after a quick break.