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Pence Officially Launches Presidential Campaign; 55-Million- Plus In "Unhealthy" Zones Due To Canada Fires. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 14:00   ET



MIKE PENCE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember what we've done. You know, a careful study of American history shows that every time the American people have been called upon to do hard things, the American people have always risen to the challenge. We crossed the Delaware River. We weathered the terrible winter at Valley Forge. We face readouts at Yorktown and made an empire wave a white flag.

We wrote a constitution to change the course of history. We held the hills of Gettysburg. We fought through the wilderness, and through open the doors of Richmond slave jails. All to save the Constitution and renew its promise of equality and freedom.

We stormed the sands and scaled the cliffs of Normandy. We drove tanks through the gates of Dachau. We planted the stars and stripes on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and save civilization.

We marched on Washington and won the right of suffrage for America's women. We marched over the Edmund Pettus Bridge and ended segregation. We built rockets and flew them to the moon leaving the Russians in our exhaust. And we built the largest economy, the greatest military in history. And we buried the Soviet Union beneath it.

The American people are always there for one another. When neighbors are hurting, strangers load up their minivans and head that way. Whether it was when the towers fell and people rushed across the country to search through the rubble or whether it was when the winds blew here in Iowa and the floodwaters rose. So, I asked you to remember who we are if you are tempted to despair. We are Americans. And there's nothing we can't accomplish together.

One of those Americans left us 30 years ago in our family. My father was a combat veteran who came home from the Korean War with a medal on his chest, a Bronze Star for valor. That went in the drawer, never to be spoken of again.

When Dad's platoon came under heavy fire, his citation reads that he led his men across a minefield to safety. Until the day he died, he seldom spoke of those days in Korea. The battles of Pork Chop Hill and Old Baldy. He didn't need to.

He was called to fight for his country and he did his duty. And he never considered himself a hero. Our dad used to say the heroes were the guys that didn't get to come home.

But that kid from the south side of Chicago was called to defend America oceans away to stand against the superior force under withering fire and he answered like generations have gone before. But this is not my father's story. This is America's story.

We've all of us always risen to the challenge. You know, as I said, my father kept that bronze star in the dresser drawer but throughout my public career, my family's let me keep it close. And it traveled with me to the Congress, to the governor's office and to the White House.

For me, it was always a reminder that our challengers don't demand acts of valor quite like he's summoned, and Americans have displayed throughout our history. But a reminder that fulfilling our role and our part to keep the flame of liberty alive and vibrant for the next generation requires each of us to summon our best, find the grace to see the best in one another, and face the future with courage. And never forget where we've been and what we've done. And above all else, who we are.

The American people are the most freedom-loving, faith-filled, idealistic, generous people the world has ever known. The American people have always been great. We just need government as good as our people.

And we'll have it. And we'll have it soon. And when we do, the time we're passing through today will only be a footnote in history.


Finally, and lastly, I asked for your prayers for me, for my family, and for all of the American people. You know, we don't know what the future holds but we know who holds the future. The Bible says where the Spirit of the Lord is, there's liberty.

Now, I believe with all my heart. God has not done with America yet. And if we turn our hearts back to the author and finisher of our faith and freedom, freedom story, the American story has only just begun, and the best day of the greatest nation on Earth are yet to come. So, let's get to work. Thank you. And God bless you and God bless America.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that was former Vice President Mike Pence officially kicking off his presidential campaign there in Iowa. I want to bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger and Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny with us as well.

He said a lot. And he said a lot of very memorable things. It was also a little bit of back to the future, right from his ad that he put out announcing in a way that we're previewing his announcement, which was about the shining city on the Hill. He talked about compassionate reforms here, sort of evoking George W. Bush, as he's trying to cast an optimistic note about the future. What did you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, he also talked about civility. So, I think he sounded like a traditional conservative Republican, who, by the way, and I think for the first time really took the gloves off --

KEILAR: He sure did.

BORGER: -- against his former boss, Donald Trump. By name, which we really haven't heard before. And there were -- there were a lot of moments, particularly when he was talking about the constitution when he said, you know, effectively, I'm for it. And he tried to get me to break the Constitution. I think -- do we have that clip? I hope so.

KEILAR: Yes, we do. Let's play this because I think this may be one of the pivotal moments of the speech.


KEILAR: Here it is.


PENCE: I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States. And anyone who asked someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.


BORGER: So that was -- you know, that was very tough. We know who he's referring to. And he also took on Donald Trump on Putin.

He said that you know, Trump once describe Putin as a genius. And then he said, I know the difference between a genius and a war criminal. And he was talking about his support for Ukraine, of course,

KEILAR: He also walked the audience through --


KEILAR: -- what the Constitution says about the certification of the voting process, to say, hey, I did what the Constitution said. It's all right there. Let me read it to you.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure I've ever heard a presidential announcement speech, including those exact words from the Constitution.

BORGER: Right.

ZELENY: But look, he did take us through all of it. He took us through his conservative philosophy that started out of course, as a congressman from Indiana, as governor, yes, I was vice president along the way and then talked about the leadership going forward. So, I think an extraordinarily well-written speech.

One thing I've noticed in this presidential campaign is a lot of candidates aren't giving these you know historic speeches you know that really elevate why you want to be president. You cannot walk away from this, not knowing why he wants to be president. You can sort of quibble with should he be or you know, you could train someone else, but you know why he's running.

I was struck. But we've heard some of these themes throughout he's been talking sometimes off camera you know, sometimes just smaller groups. We put it all together and talked about Donald Trump repeatedly, I lost track of how many times.

And clearly, a day after Chris Christie jumped in when he gave a full- throated attack on him, Mike Pence was more reasoned. It was more Midwestern if you will. It was more like we need to move on.

He said difficult -- or different times call for different leaders. That's the central question. Is he a different leader? Would he be going forward?

That's his burden, I think to show that he is the future, not just the past. But it's clear to me by running for president, he seems to be trying to wash some of that Trump off him and remind people that he was, in fact, a true fiscal conservative, a social conservative. On abortion too, he also went after Donald Trump on that saying he has sort of retreated from the pro-life movement. So, a lot to chew on in here.

KEILAR: Did you think that he was sort of trying to wash some off and not wash some off?

KEILAR: I mean, he said --

BORGER: Right.

ZELENY: Yes, for sure.



KEILAR: He said what President Trump and others are forgetting is that we succeeded or failed based on, he said, how we acted on conservative principles or whether they failed to act on them. But he said -- talked about resisting the politics of personality, the siren song of populism, and politics based on grudges and grievances. So he's sort of seemed to say, hey, I want to take what I liked from that, and I'm going to leave the rest.

BORGER: Right. And -- obviously. And then he really emphasized that you cannot have a public official whose policies are based on a grievance, who is uncivil. He kept talking about civility.

And so while at one time he called himself a Reagan conservative effectively, and emphasized he's conservative and emphasized the administration's conservative -- by the way, he kept calling Donald Trump his former running mate, which I thought was interesting. But he -- you know, he did separate himself and then tried, as Jeff was saying, to remind the public why he separated himself. That January sixth was one step too far.

Because we're so used to having Mike Pence say to us, we all stand on the broad shoulders of Donald Trump. Well, he's not standing there anymore. It's very different this time.

KEILAR: It's -- I think the question is going to be, is this a call to action, or is this going to be in a way, yes, a beautifully written speech, but a eulogy to a party that was replaced by a movement that actually spawned violence that targeted this very person who declared their candidacy for the president today and we will have to see over the course of his -- over his -- of this process, which direction it goes? Jeff and Gloria, so great to have you both on this big day.


KEILAR: Thank you.


KEILAR: And be sure to watch tonight as Dana Bash is going to moderate a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. That is going to begin tonight live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news now. It is unhealthy today to go outdoors for more than 55 million Americans. Look at this scene in New York, something like the surface of Mars. Downwind from the relentless wildfires burning in parts of Canada, these, we should note, are all live pictures of the haze now across parts of the Mideast, the Mid-Atlantic. Today, New Yorkers can barely make out the skyline of the city.

The FAA has just issued a ground stop for flights bound for LaGuardia Airport. The picture you're seeing there now is the haze over Detroit. I flew into DC this morning.

I want to show you a picture I took out of the window of my airplane as we approach the Nation's Capital as well. We'll put that up on the screen in a moment. Here, the pilots referred to it as we flew into the city and said reduced visibility as a result of that smoke coming from Canada.

CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins me now. We'll get you that picture momentarily when we have it. Jennifer, first question is how extensive in this -- is this smoke? And then when you -- when you describe that, I want to get a sense of how long it's going to be here. But let's start with the -- with the scope first.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. This is huge, Jim. I mean, we've seen these fires burning out of control for the last several weeks or more across Canada. And this is going to be something that's going to settle in for quite some time.

We could see this off and on throughout the entire summer. I want to shed some light on the color though. Because you show those pictures and this that orange color, you know, why is this smoke and why does it not look gray?

Well, it has everything to do with the sun. The sun contains all the colors of the rainbow, and those colors contain shortwave links and some other colors contain long wavelengths. And so, the smoke actually blocks the shorter wavelengths which are the blues and greens, only allowing those red and orange colors to pass through. And so that's why when you see the smoke, it does have that red and orange hue.

Of course, it is a lot more dramatic once we get into the evening hours and then the early morning hours when that sun angle is lower. I want to show you -- this is what we're dealing with. When you have that smoke, just as Jim was talking about, you can barely make out the skyline here in New York City.

We've had visibility less than a mile -- right now, it's less than a mile in New York. We've actually had ground stops throughout the day at various airports because of the thick smoke. And so, it's basically just blanketing all of the Northeast and portions of New England and it's going to continue.

We have very unhealthy air quality. You can see all across the I-95 corridor and then even gets worse once we get into upstate New York. So, people that are sensitive to -- or have respiratory problems really need to stay indoors.

New York City and Toronto, topping the top three worst air quality cities in the world. And so it just shows you how significant this is.

What's to blame here is basically the stagnant weather pattern we've been. And we have high pressure locked into the north and west. It's funneling these winds from the north, basically into the Northeast into the Ohio Valley.


And because this weather pattern hasn't changed, it's pushing all the smoke from Canada down into the eastern part of the U.S. And unfortunately, until we get a huge shift in a weather pattern, we're really not going to see much relief. Of course, the winds are going to shift a little bit back and forth over the next couple of days and weeks but when it's not bad for New York City and DC, it's going to be bad for cities across the Ohio Valley. And so that's just the nature of what we're dealing with.

You can see the short-term forecast, we'll get the worst of it across, say New York City, portions of eastern Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. Get a little bit of a break from New York City, it pushes down into DC. You can see it does improve slightly by the time we get into Friday. But the smoke has now pushed a little bit farther to the west and so we're dealing with portions of the Mid-Atlantic, the Ohio Valley.

So, Jim, when it's not bad for somebody else, it's going to be bad for someone else. So, this is going to be a big story, unfortunately, not just for this week, I think this is going to continue for quite some time. We're still very early in the fire season in Canada and so we have a long way to go.

SCIUTTO: Well, it shows just how far and wide those effects can spread. Now, when you look at those comparisons to other cities in the world, Delhi at the top of the list. Normally, U.S. cities are far behind, that kind of air quality level.

I lived in Beijing for a number of years, which has often been top of the list. And we took precautions there. As a result of that, we wear more N-95 masks, right? If you think about them for the pandemic --

GRAY: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- we wore them for the dirty air there. Are there any suggestions people can take to protect themselves, right?

GRAY: Right. Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because there's a reason why cities are recommending against outdoor activities right now.

GRAY: Exactly. Yes, it is a big deal. When you see us topping the top three cities in the world, I mean, that's significant. So, they are urging people to wear the N-95 masks when they go outdoors.

Some people might think it's overkill. It's really not. It's very important, especially people that have respiratory problems. Especially children that may suffer from asthma, don't go outside for long periods of time, and if you have to, wear a mask or something to protect yourself because it can be very, very unhealthy. And especially if this is going to stick around not just for a couple of days, those long-term effects day after day, we're really going to have to take this seriously and take some serious precautions.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Folks can start looking at air purifiers as well.

GRAY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Jennifer Gray, I know we're going to keep talking to you as we watch these weather patterns, see if and when they offer some relief, so we'll come back to you. CNN's Pete Muntean is here with us now.

I was flying in today, and I saw out the window it looked bad. The pilot said, hey, you know, we've got low visibility, but we're still able to land. The flight operations at DCA.

I know at some airports, there have been ground stops for a period of time. So, explain to folks how much this affects operations. Doesn't stop them entirely?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't touch them entirely. But we're going to see the ripple effect here, not just in the areas where the smoke is but this is actually having a nationwide impact on flights. The ground stop at LaGuardia just ended. It switched to a ground delay program, meaning that --

SCIUTTO: How long was the ground stop end?

MUNTEAN: The ground stop was in place until about 2:00 p.m.

SCIUTTO: How many hours? MUNTEAN: So, at the top of the hour. So, it lasted for about an hour. The ground delay program will last for a while. I'm just looking at the latest numbers here from the FAA, average delay is 119 minutes, so we're talking just shy of two hours. That's delaying flights at their destination bound to LaGuardia. And then flights departing LaGuardia are delayed about 30 minutes right now, according to the FAA.

SCIUTTO: Is the -- is the goal to put more space but (INAUDIBLE) --


SCIUTTO: -- a little bit more of a margin.

MUNTEAN: The issue here is the visibility, right? And so if planes are flying on instruments only, they have to maintain a further distance from one another. They can't keep visual separation from airplane to airplane.

Therefore, the FAA puts in place these restrictions to try and essentially elongate the conga line to make sure that the airplanes aren't too bunched up to one another, making an unsafe condition. So, this is really to try and keep things safe.

The FAA doesn't necessarily cancel or delay flights. That's really up to the airlines. Although the New York area has some of the worst visibility, according to the Aviation Weather reports right now. At Newark, the visibility is only about a half mile.


MUNTEAN: So, that really does sort of pile on and make arrivals into airports more and more complicated. And it's not just the New York area. We're seeing this at National Airport, the DC area, Dulles, BWI.


MUNTEAN: They could also see impacts from this smoke haze as well. Totally unprecedented as well. We're also seeing it in Philadelphia, Boston, JFK also having issues.


MUNTEAN: So, we'll see as this goes on, and we will see -- you know, we know that it's a domino effect. So, when airlines really start to get hit, especially in big hubs like New York --


MUNTEAN: -- then the deck of cards really comes tumbling down and delay as you can see them nationwide.

SCIUTTO: Well, you saw -- I mean those visibility differences. Jennifer Gray had the map.


SCIUTTO: But you know, half-mile -- three-quarters a mile in New York, maybe three miles in DC.


SCIUTTO: But she was making the point that could flip over the next couple of days as the wind power --

MUNTEAN: No doubt.

SCIUTTO: -- pattern shift. I was thinking about this, just as I was sitting in my passenger seat today. Instruments --


SCIUTTO: -- can see through this.


SCIUTTO: So, the visibility is an added safety measure. It doesn't mean that the pilots are blind.


MUNTEAN: No. And commercial flying, it's almost always on instruments. That is a pretty routine thing --


MUNTEAN: -- that commercial airline pilots do day in and day out. So this is safe.


MUNTEAN: It doesn't necessarily make things more unsafe, but it does add a layer of risk.

SCIUTTO: Of course.

MUNTEAN: And the FAA sort of pads that out with these measures being put into place. You know, we'll see as time goes on here, how much of an impact there will be not just in these areas where the smoke is but further out.


MUNTEAN: And the latest update from FlightAware, 96 cancellations in the U.S., 1628 delays and that keeps going up and up as the day goes on.

SCIUTTO: Understood. But 98 nationally is not --

MUNTEAN: Not formed.

SCIUTTO: -- exactly catastrophic.


SCIUTTO: But, of course, we'll follow these patterns going forward.

MUNTEAN: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Pete Muntean, good to have you on.

MUNTEAN: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Not the last time we're going to be talking about this, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it is gnarly out there. Well, still ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. New details on the shocking announcement of a partnership between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. We're going to speak to the executive producer of the Netflix series Full Swing, who says their cameras were rolling as this news broke in front of major players.

And in Ukraine, residents are fleeing their homes after the devastating dam collapse that left many without drinking water. You're watching CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We're going to be back in just a few moments.



SCIUTTO: Let's get back now to our breaking news. More than 55 million people are under air quality alerts right now. Smoke from the ongoing Canadian wildfires blanketing major U.S. cities. Have a look at New York there. The skyline behind an orange, almost Mars-like haze.

CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins me now. She's been following the spread of this smoke from Canada. I have to tell you. When I look at that map, Jennifer there, the scope of this is just remarkable. How wide and how long is it going to sit here?

GRAY: Yes, it's incredible. And this could be -- this could stick around for a while. You know you have to think that we're still early in the fire season for Canada, and we have seen fires burn out of control over the last couple of weeks and even longer.

So, it all depends on the wind direction. It's all based on the weather pattern. We're in the stagnant weather pattern right now that's driving that smoke into portions of the Northeast, and the Mid- Atlantic. And so from this map, this is the near-surface smoke. The reds, the thicker smoke, and then the blues and greens will be the lighter smoke.

So, you can see across New York City, even down into DC, this is Thursday morning, 10:30, that's where it's going to be really bad. Of course, across upstate New York as well. Really bad up in places like Toronto, Canada, the closer to the fire.

So as we go into, say Thursday evening, Friday morning, it is going to improve for the New York City area and much of New England. Of course, it gets worse though for portions of the Ohio Valley and even pushing into the mid-Atlantic. So, it's really going to be this back and forth.

The wind is driving where the smoke is going. So when it's really bad for someone, it's not going to be quite as bad for others. But this could be a long-term problem, Jim. That's what people need to realize is that as long as these fires are burning in Canada, as long as those winds are pulling down from the south --


GRAY: -- we're going to see poor air quality all up and down the East. And so, this is a picture from space. You can see the smoke just pouring in.


GRAY: And those winds just driving it down to the south. It's really something.

SCIUTTO: Jennifer, you say long-term problem. I wonder if you could put up on the map again the one that shows the Jetstream there is a kind of dips down. I just wonder, is that something that's likely to change? I mean -- or not likely to change. Are you saying that pattern that's bringing the smoke down to that part of the U.S. --

GRAY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- is going to stick there for weeks, months, possibly?

GRAY: It's hard to say, really.


GRAY: I mean, you know, our forecasts are good only from about now to the next seven to 10 days for the foreseeable future.


GRAY: We don't see this weather pattern changing much at all. Of course, things will change over the summer. The weather patterns will definitely change. It just takes some time.

But right now, we are real in this pattern where we've got this high pressure just locked across the northern portion of the country, and it's driving winds around that. You know, the winds flow clockwise around this high.

We've got this low sitting to our east and basically, the winds are channeling right in between. And so, the winds are pushing the smoke down into this portion of the country. What will you really need our winds to start shifting out of the south, and then the smoke will be pushing north of the fires, and it's not going to be pulling down into the U.S. at all.


GRAY: But for now, with the northerly direction, here we are, with smoke --

SCIUTTO: Well, you made --

GRAY: -- across the Eastern U.S.

SCIUTTO: You made the point earlier. At that point, it just becomes someone else's problem, right?

GRAY: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Because the smoke is not disappearing, it just gets pushed in another direction. Now, this phenomenon of this low-pressure zone, and again, I have -- I have some experience of this because I lived in Beijing that had major pollution problems. I remember they described it there as well. It was almost like a tap on top of a cooking pot, right that the way -- the way the pressure was it kept that dirty air stuck as it were.

GRAY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Can you explain that to people how that works?

GRAY: Yes. A lot of times, especially when you have high pressure that's locked in place, you'll create -- a lot of times in the summer, we call this heat dome, where basically the heat everything in the within the atmosphere is just locked into that bubble. And so, we're going to see the smoke and everything within that portion of the atmosphere just sort of locked into place until something can drive it out.

And so we get into the stagnant patterns, especially when we get into late spring early summer, where things just don't really change much. What can really change it, of course, if we see a tropical system come, you're going to have major shifts in wind direction, but of course, it's still going to be several months before we start to see that really kick into high gear. But things will change eventually, but we're going to be stuck into this stagnant pattern at least for the time being.

SCIUTTO: Well listen, it's a reminder that there are no borders when it comes to fires like this, climate problems, etcetera.

GRAY: Right.

SCIUTTO: They know no borders.


SCIUTTO: Jennifer Gray, thanks so much as always for walking us through it. We're going to keep talking about it because this doesn't appear to be going anywhere. I want to go down to CNN health reporter Meg Tirrell.