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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Netanyahu Rejects Ceasefire Calls, Time For War; IDF Says, Israeli Soldier Kidnapped By Hamas Rescued In Operation; Chilling Scenes Of Anti-Semitism Around World Amid War; "Friends" Star Matthew Perry Passes Awat At 54; New Details Surface On Possible Prevention Of Main Mass Shooting; Donald Trump Having Some Notable Slip-Ups. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 30, 2023 - 22:00   ET






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think anyone has ever moved a couch since that scene without thinking of that moment on the show, Friends. And tonight, the cast of that show has broken their silence about the death of their co-star, Matthew Perry.

In a statement to CNN, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc have all written, quote, but we are also utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just castmates, we are a family.

In time, we will say more as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Mattie's family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN News Night with Abby Phillip is up next.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: War and grief give Israel's prime minister a lifeline to power. That's tonight on Newsnight.

And good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in Washington, where two things are becoming clear. One, there is no ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on the horizon, and Israel's prime minister sees the fog of war as essential to his own political survival.

Tonight, the IDF offered the world a glimpse through the crosshairs. This is a jet providing a new view of its aerial campaign over Gaza. The bombs there are punctuation marks to the current reality on the ground, quote, this is a time for war. Those are the words that came directly from Benjamin Netanyahu in a defiant speech that was heavy on history and thin on nuance.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October 7th.


PHILLIP: Now, Netanyahu also calls the current conflict a time for choosing between good and evil, a battle against a new axis of terror. And what is also clear is Netanyahu believes that the time for tough questions about who exactly shoulders the responsibility for the intelligence failure that led to October 7th is not now, but later.


REPORTER: Have you at all considered stepping down?

NETANYAHU: The only thing that I intend to have resign is Hamas. We're going to resign them to the dustbin of history. That's my goal. That's my responsibility.


PHILLIP: Now, before the Hamas horror, Netanyahu was facing a crisis of confidence from the public and inside of his own government. The New York Times also reports that Netanyahu brushed aside repeated warnings that he would not be able to that his plan to remake the government and pursue an unpopular and controversial judicial reform plan was weakening his country's security.

Now, it all came to a head when he outright skipped what The Times reported as a meeting with a senior general who was poised to deliver a warning about the threats based on classified intelligence.

Now, that report from The Times prompted an outburst from Netanyahu, aimed at his nation's security leaders. He blamed the military for overlooking the Hamas threat. He did this at the very same time that that same military is prosecuting a war.

Now, Netanyahu eventually did delete that post after public reprimands, we should say, and he coupled the deletion with a rarity, an admission that he was wrong.

Now, this episode highlights that despite the show of unity after October 7th, Netanyahu's grip on power may very well be very fragile.

And joining me now on the pressure that Netanyahu is facing now from the United States government is legendary journalist Carl Bernstein. He is the author of Chasing History, A Kid in the Newsroom. He famously covered previous Middle East wars. Carl, there has been a lot of change this weekend, the pace and the tempo of this war, but also the change in public opinion. What is your reporting telling you about how the White House is viewing all of this? What are they saying behind the scenes to their allies in Israel about this offensive in Gaza?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, people in the White House seem to, the way I have listened to them very carefully and tone is as important as individual facts sometime. And their tone had changed radically over the weekend from an idea that they had a handle on what's going on, on a dialogue with Netanyahu that could be constructive, to great worry.

Remember the quotation from General Petraeus going into Iraq, tell me how this ends.


And the disaster that that war, that Netanyahu just cited as evidence of wisdom, that war was a disaster for the United States. And there is an increasing belief in intel in the United States, in the White House, that this could be a road to disaster, the conduct not of Hamas, the butchery of Hamas, the conduct is now the state of Israel that is being questioned around the world, and this has the White House really worried.

PHILLIP: It's a really interesting aspect of all of this. And Netanyahu who seemed to address that today by basically saying they had to do what they have to do regardless of that public opinion. It seems the White House is a little bit more concerned.

But, meanwhile, Carl, here in Washington, there is a really important debate that is about to be had over funding this conflict, frankly, in Israel, and also tying it to the conflict in Ukraine. The new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, says he wants to sever those two ideas, Ukraine and Israel. How do you think this ends?

BERNSTEIN: As General Petraeus said, I don't know how it ends. But what I do know is that the fight for democracy is the great struggle of our age. And that struggle is taking place in Ukraine as in a place like no other except perhaps what we're seeing now in the Middle East. And the idea that somehow we would undermine funding to fight the first land war in Europe initiated by a tyrant like Putin, who has destabilized the west, that we would somehow undermine this heroic struggle that we financed and it has stopped the Russians in their tracks.

They're not going to necessarily win, the Ukrainians, but the idea that we were defund this struggle for democracy, it's preposterous and at the same time it's an indication of where Trump America lives today. And I think we need to look at it in terms not just of Ukraine, but in terms of democracy, autocracy, which I think represents -- we see represented in a lot of the Trump dogma. And we're seeing that dogma right now in Trump's comments about Ukraine funding, and now the new speaker. PHILLIP: The new speaker who his allies refer to as MAGA Mike Johnson. Carl Bernstein, we appreciate you, as always, for joining us. Thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

PHILLIP: And tonight, hope and despair for those families of the nearly 200 hostages still in Gaza. A female Israeli soldier is now breathing free air after an IDF operation inside of Gaza to rescue her, and it succeeded. These other families, though, today are getting proof of life as well, courtesy of Hamas.

Now, the terror group is releasing this video of three women believed to be hostages. I'm not going to show you that video. CNN isn't going to play the propaganda tool, frankly, but you can see the photos of the three women here.

And the U.S. says that Israel is making a near impossible task more difficult. American officials now view the more kinetic by the hour bombing campaign as a complication in the desperate effort to bring these hostages home alive.

Joining me now is one family member waiting word of her family member's fate. Maya Roman, his cousin, Yarden Roman-Gat, was taken captive by Hamas on October 7th after a daring escape, that attempt -- escape attempt that resulted in her capture, but her husband and her child both were able to get away miraculously. Maya, thank you so much for being here.

This is such an incredible story when I heard about it. Can you just tell us a little bit about what happened to your cousin, Yarden?

MAYA ROMAN, COUSIN BELIEVED TO BE HELD CAPTIVE BY HAMAS: Yarden, yes. Yarden and her family, her husband, Alon, and her three-year-old daughter, Geffen, were staying in Kibbutz Be'eri, which is one of the places hit most heavily during the attacks, with Alon's family, his father, mother and sister. And on October 7th, terrorists entered the home. They first took Kinneret (ph), Alon's mother, and Karmel (ph), Alon's sister.

We later learned that Kinneret was shot dead outside of the house. We saw it on Instagram in a video that Hamas posted. We don't know what happened to Karmel since then. And they took Yarden, Alon and Geffen in a car. They were in a car with four terrorists and an unarmed driver, driving towards the Gaza border.


At a certain point, the armed terrorists got out of the car because they saw a certain friend. And Yarden and Alon decided in a split second decision that they were going to make a run for it. And they jumped out of the car. Yarden was holding Geffen, her daughter, running for their lives. And the terrorists were coming after them. Yarden realized they couldn't escape. So, she gave Geffen to Alon so he could run faster and hide while she hid closer to the terrorists. We know all this because Alon eventually was able to get back to the kibbutz after hiding with Geffen for almost 18 hours, with no food, no water, with a three-year-old child. He walked back to the kibbutz barefoot and was able to reach the military forces and call us and say that the last he saw of Yarden was at that point where they split up.

Her brother, Gili (ph), then went down to the field with military forces looking for her, even though the area was full of terrorists still. And they concluded that she was probably taken again by Hamas.

PHILLIP: With all of this that is going on, I mean, it's incredible all that she would have gone through, are you worried now about the impact of the ground invasion, the aerial bombardment on whether she might be able to come out of Gaza?

ROMAN: I mean, we're worried all the time. And, you know, it's very hard to know what is the right tactic. I -- initially, we thought maybe a humanitarian deal was going to happen. There was a lot of talk about it. Then there was the release of the two American hostages, then two other hostages. It just seems like what you hear isn't necessarily what's going on.

And under these circumstances, I really don't know if a ground offensive is the thing that's going to help us bring them back or not. I really don't have enough information to judge. I feel like what's most important to us and the rest of the families is just to keep this issue of the hostages first and foremost. Before everything else, before all this talk about military incursion or what Netanyahu said, what we care about are the fact that there are over 200 hostages currently held there that we don't even have a proof of life of them. We don't know their condition.

Today we heard that Shani Louk, one of the young women who were presumed to be kidnapped, taken from the party, her mother, Ricarda, was with us because they are German citizens as well as are we. We were on a trip in Berlin advocating for the hostages for a week. And today we learned that Shani was murdered and has been dead this whole time, and it's been devastating for us.

So, this fact that we don't have any information and people just go on to talk about other things, that's what's worrying me the most.

PHILLIP: And you've been here in Washington to keep this momentum alive with officials here. Have those meetings given you any sense of hope?

ROMAN: I mean, so far, our meetings here, like our meetings in Germany, have been very hopeful in the sense that everyone seems to know that this issue is important. Everyone seems to agree that this is a humanitarian issue, this is a democratic issue, these are women and children, and we have a commitment to bring them back. And we were very heartened by President Biden's comments when he came to Israel, and we hear those things here as well.

You never know when the time comes to say these words are very nice, but what about actions, because we really don't know what actions are happening behind the scenes. So, we have faith that behind the scenes, everything truly is being done, and I do believe that. But I don't know how much further we're going to believe that, because it's been three weeks.

In the beginning, Gili, Yarden's brother used to say that he hopes that when Yarden's birthday comes along, we will celebrate it together, and Yarden's birthday was almost a week ago when we were in Berlin. And we were singing Happy Birthday with 25,000 people at the Brandenburg Bridge at a rally to support the hostages. And it was very moving. But we can't help but notice that time keeps moving on, and she's still not here, and we still don't know what's going on with her.

PHILLIP: Maya, I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and I hope you give my best to your cousin's family and her sweet little girl, who's only three years old, and experienced such a horrific experience.


But thank you for being here and we'll continue to keep your story and all of these stories in the news that we tell daily.

Thank you so much, Maya.

ROMAN: Thank you so much.

PHILLIP: And up next, vile anti-Semitic threats put Cornell University on high alert. New York's governor was just there, and she joins me next.

Plus, new tonight, the Friends cast breaking their silence on Matthew Perry's death as we learn about how he was found.


PHILLIP: Some truly chilling anti-Semitic scenes are unfolding around the world tonight as the Israeli military advances in Gaza.

Now, what should have been a routine flight arrival from Tel Aviv turned into chaos in Russia, an anti-Semitic mob storming a tarmac in Dagestan, a section of Russia with a high Muslim population. Now, the crowd was hunting for Israelis and for Jews, and they were carrying anti-Semitic signs as well.

Over in Beverly Hills, anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled across the home of a Holocaust survivor. That survivor's daughter, Tel CNN, that she didn't even tell her mother at first to avoid upsetting her.

And police tonight providing more security for Jewish students on the campus of Cornell University after a series of threats.


New York's Governor Kathy Hochul promising her support at the community of Cornell right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): If you're going to engage in these harmful actions, hate crimes, breaking our laws, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's the strong message I want to deliver here today.


PHILLIP: I want to bring in New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Governor Hochul, thank you very much for being here.

First, I want to start by asking you about where things stand in terms of finding the people responsible for this. You've called them terrorists, really. What can you tell us about the status of that investigation and the suspects? Have there been any progress in finding who these people are?

HOCHUL: We've been working very closely with the FBI, who were brought in yesterday, working with our own New York State Intelligence Center where we're analyzing all these social media posts and trying to identify the culprit here. We'll find this person.

And I did call this individual or individuals terrorists because that's exactly what they're trying to do. They're trying to terrorize a group of students who I visited today and they want nothing more than just a chance to be left alone, hang out with their friends, go to classes, like every other college student. And yet today, as a result of this, they're afraid. And that's just wrong, especially in a place like New York.

PHILLIP: And what is the state of New York doing to keep these college campuses safe? And I understand, obviously, there's a concern about free speech rights, but this is clearly veering into violence. Is there more that can be done?

HOCHUL: Yes. This has crossed the line. New York State, we all cherish the rights of freedom of speech and the right to assemble, absolutely. That is who we are as a country and is also as New Yorkers. But a line has been crossed that when you actually describe how someone should be killed in a particular area, and it is so important to me, not just as the leader of this state, but also as a parent.

We all remember dropping our kids off at college, and this is supposed to be a sanctuary for them, a safe place. And to learn about other people's views and ideas and to share and to learn and to emerge four years later as a different, more enriched person. And now they are trying to, these terrorists are trying to paralyze them and create fear in them.

And so the state of New York already, before this, I announced our campus safety plans because we have seen an increase in anti-Semitism in particular, but we have no talents for any hate crimes, any hate speech, whether it's against Muslims or LGBTQ community or racist or sexist, you know, anti-Asian crimes, we are standing up strongly against that. But, now the increase in anti-Semitism and those cases has gone up dramatically.

I have required every single college campus to have a hotline where incidences can be reported, but I said don't just let them report them. I want to make sure that there's campus police following up, and if necessary, outside police, then a district attorney. Because when a crime has been committed, as I believe has in this case, there must be prosecutions to be a deterrent and say, we're not tolerating this here in the state of New York.

And, Governor, Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, he's calling this moment for the United States a category 5 hurricane of anti-Semitism coming from the left. Do you think that he's right about that?

HOCHUL: I'm feeling that here in the state of New York, I am proud to represent the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, where I just was a short time ago to show support for the innocent people who were attacked by terrorists and to call for humanitarian aid into Gaza and try to spare innocent individuals from losing their lives.

He is absolutely correct. When we started before October 7th, the terrorist attack on Israel, we had seen an increase in anti-Semitism and hate crimes committed here in New York up about 300 percent. So, this was already on the rise. It's been festering. And now this has just been unleashed in a way that is just very un-American and it's definitely very much at odds with the values of New Yorkers. That's why I'm standing up strong saying, you'll find no safe harbor here in the state of New York if you're going to continue to terrorize individuals because of their religious beliefs or where they come from. That's not who we are.

PHILLIP: All right. Governor Kathy Hochul, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

HOCHUL: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And ahead, utterly devastated, the cast of Friends breaks their silence over the death of Matthew Perry.

Plus, major warning signs missed ahead of the Maine mass shooting, including a message from the Army that the gunman should not have a weapon.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one banana nut muffin left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ordered mine first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but I'm so much faster.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, you can have it.


PHILLIP: They've been through Thanksgivings, marriages, a break, Tom Selleck and pivots and now, sadly, the cast of Friends is going through a tough loss together. The five stars of that hit show breaking their silence tonight following the sudden death of their former co-star, Matthew Perry.

In a joint statement to CNN, they said, we are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just castmates. We are family. There's so much to say, but right now we're going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has now released a statement saying that Perry was found unconscious in a standalone Jacuzzi.


Joining me now to discuss this is Kristen Lopez, senior editor at "The Wrap". Kristen, this statement from the "Friends" cast, I mean, brief in so many ways, but very heavy with the loss and how difficult it is for them to deal with this. What does this statement say to you about just all these years later, how close this cast really was and are?

KRISTEN LOPEZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE WRAP": It's a very well-done statement, I think. You know, I think a lot of people, especially last night, were wanting things a lot quicker. They wanted the cast to just immediately come out and you know share their thoughts.

And I think they have the right to wait, you know, as long as they want to talk about this was a person that they spent significant portion of their lives with who as the statement says is more than just a person they worked with.

So, I appreciate them, you know, reaching out to their fan base and acknowledging this but they have every right to take their time and process this as people. This is more than just a TV show and I think that it was very well done for them to come out with a statement.

They had no reason to, but I think that fans are just looking for connection during this time. They want something to hold on to. And I think that everybody appreciates such a beautiful statement coming out at this time.

PHILLIP: And so many fans, hundreds of them really, this weekend visited the iconic "Friends" apartment in New York City to honor Perry. And it's so interesting that this show, you know, you're, I think a millennial here, so many younger fans, people younger than you and I, who never watched the show in real time are now rediscovering it, and it's had an impact on them, too. What do you make of the staying power of "Friends"?

LOPEZ: Yeah, my little brother is, you know, 25 and loves the show. He has his box set. He still watches it on physical media. You know he is a huge, probably bigger than I was when I watched it when it was out.

And I think that what people gravitate towards, you know, even though it has flaws is the relate ability factor to it. You know, especially because so many Gen-Zers do engage in communal living. They do want that sense of community, you know, in a lot of their chosen family are their friends. So, I think that the show has such staying power because it really does connect to each generation in a different way.

You know, for me, I love kind of the fantasy element of it. Living in New York City and having friends that were akin to your family and all of the scenarios that they're in are just high concept enough to be fantastical. But it's amazing to see how it has transcended its time period and really is on par with something like "I Love Lucy". It's just timeless.

PHILLIP: It is timeless and Matthew Perry in so many ways will be remembered not just for that, but what he did in the last few years of his life, living really in his truth with honesty that resonated with so many people about his addictions that he struggled with. Kristen Lopez, thank you for joining us on all of that.

LOPEZ: Of course.

PHILLIP: And there are new signs that there were red flags that were missed ahead of the main mass shooting. A family member of a victim of that shooting is here to respond to that new information. Plus, new campaign slip-ups draw attention to a number that Donald Trump wants voters to believe doesn't matter at all.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Sioux Falls. Thank you very much, Sioux Falls. So, Sioux City, let me ask you.



PHILLIP: A nightmare re-run in Maine, warning after warning after warning about a mass shooter missed. And tonight, we're getting new details about what police and the military knew in the months before Robert Card killed 18 people and what they didn't do about it. Now, we know that police visited the shooter's home weeks before this massacre amid fears that he was going to snap and commit a mass shooting.

Now in July, Card spent 14 days at a psychiatric hospital after a run with other soldiers in New York and after his release from the hospital, yet another incident. Now, this time, a friend said that the shooter mentioned having guns and threatened to shoot up a military facility in Maine.

That threat leading police to visit Card's home on September 16th. At the time, they didn't make contact with him. The next day, though, officers spoke with his brother, who warned that Card would likely be armed if he did answer the door.

Now, 38 days later, Card carried out a mass shooting at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston, killing 18 people. I want to bring in Auburn City Councilor, Leroy Walker, Sr. He is importantly the father of Joseph Walker, who was among the 18 victims lost tragically in this massacre. Leroy, thank you so much for joining us. I know that you've heard this from so many, but I cannot imagine the pain that you and your family are going through, and we thank you for joining us.

I want to just ask you about some of this new reporting that has come out in the last day or so that seemed to indicate that this shooter was on the radar of law enforcement.


When you hear that, what goes through your mind?

LEROY WALKER, SR., SON JOEY WALKER KILLED IN MAINE MASS SHOOTINGS: Well, I -- it's really hard to answer that question. I've only heard a small amount about it because, you know, I've been trying to stay away from that part of it knowing that, you know, my son is dead. We're trying to arrange a funeral. We're trying to do a lot of things that have taken much more time than I thought it was going to take.

But I'll give you a little comment on what I think. I've been around law enforcement quite a bit to see how it works. In some cases, law enforcement may work pretty well if it has good leaders. I don't think we've got good leaders right now in a lot of positions.

So, because of that, we don't have people that are doing their job as well as they could do it. And I know people are going to get mad because I say that, but nobody should miss what I'm hearing that they've missed out there, or not at least pay a lot of attention to it.

They have seen so much of this murder go around the country that other places have missed the same thing that they're doing here. And if they don't learn from the past, when are we going to learn? This will go on forever. So, somebody needs to step up and be a lot stronger than what we have for leaders.

At this point, many people are going to be like me, sitting on pins and needles, to get reports from a small army of police and ambulance, drivers and whatever else is out there. It took me over 14 hours to be told my son was laying on a floor at Schemengee's, dead.

There's no need of that. That is another thing that law enforcement has missed, trying to make sure that the loved ones that are alive should at least be notified somehow.

Excuses -- I have a real hard time to live with them. That's all I heard the whole time from the hospital staff, from the police. No matter which police I reached out to, it's under the state investigation -- is under the state doing a sweep is under the state whatever and whatever.

While we sit there crying our eyes out, grandchildren are doing the same thing, wife is doing the same thing. That is not acceptable in a state that we live in.

And they're doing all kinds of other investigations that they missed somewhere along the way. And somebody's trying to slow things down, cover things up. So, I don't know how to fix it, but I know it needs to be fixed.


WALKER, SR.: And there's leadership that we need to take care of.

PHILLIP: I certainly hear that. And it matters for so many reasons coming from you. You're a victim of this tragedy, too. But you're also a person who works in the government. And you work with people in law enforcement all the time.

I wonder, when you hear about this shooter having access to weapons, high-powered weapons, given the warnings that were made to officials about him, given his hospitalization, given his mental health state, in terms of lessons learned and going forward, what do you think should be done? What do you want to see done about a situation like that?

WALKER, SR.: Well, the only way we're going to fix some of this is training. And it has to be the correct training. And that's why I say it starts from the top. If we're going to elect people in the office, we've got to elect people that have got more brains than the people that are working under them.

And our leadership lately around the country, not only here in Auburn, Maine or whatever is closest to us, leadership needs to be the powerhouse that leads. And if we don't have it here, we need to go somewhere else and get it trained into our heads how to train our people. They're going to make excuses of what this man got away with for months because they're going to try to find ways of saying it wasn't their fault.

You know, and I know with what's coming out and it's coming out very slow, kind of like the state works anyways. It'll be months before we really know the facts of everything and they're going to say, well, you should be shutting your mouth until the facts are all out. I think we've seen enough facts to know that they totally missed what this man was capable of doing.


They should have removed this man's guns immediately. I think the military are just as much fault as we are. They're the ones that knew exactly what was going through this guy's head because he attempted to say that he was going to go and take care of them too by killing.

So, who missed the real boat here? I'm not really sure. But it starts at the top of wherever it should have started from. And we should have been much smarter than this. Seeing what has happened across the whole country, we shouldn't be taking chances with anyone that goes off any deep end or makes a threat.

You threatening the United States president, I could be sitting here and say something stupid. They'll probably be knocking on my door tomorrow, arresting me. This man went rampant on people saying that he was going to do this, and we still let him run around two or three months later so that he can say, I'm going to do a mass killing, and he did it. Somebody has to be accountable for that.

PHILLIP: I think you're right about that. I mean, there's nothing that will bring your son back, Leroy, but accountability, I think, is at least what you're owed. Leroy Walker, Sr., thank you so much for joining us. And again, I'm so sorry for your loss and the loss of your family. Thank you.

WALKER, SR.: Thank you very much.

PHILLIP: And we'll be right back.



PHILLIP: One of Donald Trump's favorite trolls against President Biden is starting to backfire, it seems. Biden's age is no doubt a huge concern among voters, but Trump, who is just three years younger, is having some notable slip-ups of his own.


TRUMP: Thank you very much and a very big hello to a place where we've done very well, Sioux Falls. Thank you very much, Sioux Falls. So, Sioux City, let me ask you.


PHILLIP: Yeah, that was someone having to tell Trump that he was in Sioux City, not Sioux Falls. And that's the exact scenario that Trump recently imagined that Biden would do, mixing up locations.


TRUMP: Where am I? What country is this? He goes, thank you very much, and he'll name a country. And it's the wrong country that he's in. That's happened. He used to do it with states when he was campaigning. It's great to be in Idaho. Sir, Sir, this is Iowa. Oh, oh.


PHILLIP: Now, in recent weeks, Trump has also mixed up the Bushes. He mixed up Hungary, Turkey, and their leaders. He bragged about beating Barack Obama in 2016, which obviously he did not do. He praised the intellect of Hezbollah. And obviously, if President Biden had done any of these things, right-wing media would be leading their shows with his gaffes. But now, some of Trump's rivals are taking notice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON DESANTIS, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is wedded to the teleprompter. He can't get off that teleprompter. Anytime he does, he says things like, don't vote. He's telling people not to vote, like we have all the votes we need.

Really? Like, wait a minute, you lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016. You don't have all the votes you need. And so, I think that it's just shown this is a different Donald Trump than 2015 and 16. Lost the zip on his fastball.


PHILLIP: Joining me now is CNN Political Commentator and Republican Strategist, Kristen Soltis Anderson. Kristen, this is so interesting. First of all, I mean, lost the zip on his fastball is becoming a buzzword for -- a buzz phrase for Ron DeSantis.

But putting Trump aside for a second, just Republicans writ large, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, the ones running for president, they want to make this about Joe Biden's age, about his inability to conduct his job. But their likely nominee is just three years younger and making gaffes pretty much every day at this point. Is that going to work?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, as of right now, Republican voters do not yet feel a sense of alarm that Donald Trump is gravely at risk of losing in this potential rematch against Joe Biden. They still think that if you put Biden and Trump together, yes, they're both old, yes, they're both gaffe prone, but that Trump would still come out ahead in that head-to-head matchup.

And so, what remains to be seen is if more of these things start piling up, does this argument that hasn't worked yet that Donald Trump is actually a threat to getting Republicans back in the White House, if that argument begins to take hold with Republican voters, will it do so in time for it to matter in the primaries? I'm kind of skeptical.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, that's a huge question right now as we are approaching another presidential debate today. Also, a big Iowa poll from Ann Selzer showing not surprisingly, Donald Trump at the top, although he hasn't really moved much from where he's been, 42 -- 43 percent.

But the surprise here is Nikki Haley gaining about 10 pounds -- not 10 pounds, 10 points in the last couple of months. That's huge compared to the other candidates who are going in the opposite direction. What is working for her in this race? And could some of it also be even the general racial argument that she's been making all along?

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Well, first of all, it puts to bed the idea that the debates didn't matter. There was a lot of talk about, well, if Donald Trump doesn't attend, maybe it's not that big a deal. It's true that it hasn't really affected Donald Trump standing atop the field, but there's been a lot of churn underneath. And whether it is somebody like Mike Pence deciding to drop out, maybe some other candidates kind of get the hint.


The problem that they're running into is Ron DeSantis has no reason to drop out before Iowa. He's still running very close with Haley there. And Haley has no reason to drop out before Iowa because she's especially looking at New Hampshire where she tends to do a little bit even better in the polls. Trump is lower there. So, as long as both of them are in the race, it's hard to see how anybody but Trump gets past that 50 percent mark.

PHILLIP: Is she showing the potential that she could end up making this a more of a two-way race between her and Trump?

SOLTIS ANDERSON: I think certainly the reason why people stop running for president is if they run out of resources to do so. And right now, Ron DeSantis, if his campaign has enough money to get him through to Iowa, he'll certainly stay there. Nikki Haley, on the other hand, has also been making a very effective pitch to donors that if you want to take out Trump, I'm the one to do it. So, she may have the resources to go the distance, as well.

PHILLIP: All right, Kristen Soltis Anderson, thank you as always.


PHILLIP: And up next for us, the Chicago area -- up next -- back in a moment.



PHILLIP: And thank you very much for watching NewsNight. "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Hey Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Abby, so nice to see you. Great show as always.

PHILLIP: You, too. Have a great show.

COATES: Thank you. I'll see you right back here tomorrow, okay?

PHILLIP: You, too.