Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

GOP Candidates Spar at Third Presidential Debate Without Trump; Actors' Union Reaches Tentative Deal With Studios; Israeli, U.S. Intel Chiefs Meet Qatari Officials for Hostage Talks. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 10:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Politico says Nikki Haley won. The Washington Post says Nikki Haley lost. This morning, how to assess what has changed after the Republican presidential debate, the one that included references to scum and five-inch heels.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: And action, actors are going back to work. A deal has been reached to end the second strike that brought the entertainment industry to a halt. The new contract and when your favorite shows could finally be out of reruns. New episodes, ahead.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The FAA, pilots, air traffic controllers in hot seat right now on Capitol Hill, testifying before Congress about the string of dangerous close calls at airports across the country.

I'm Kate Bolduan with John Berman and Sara Sidner. This is CNN News Central.

BERMAN: You're just scum, a phrase that was never spoken to the Lincoln-Douglas debates or any debate for that matter before last night. This morning, it is time to assess who the Republican presidential contest has changed after five candidates not named Donald Trump spent the third Republican debate largely going after each other.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels? In this case, we've got two of them on stage tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ramaswamy, thank you.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd first like to say they're five-inch heels and I don't wear them unless you can run in them.

RAMASWAMY: In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. So, you might want to take care of your family first.

HALEY: Leave my daughter out of your voice.

RAMASWAMY: The next generation of Americans are using and that's actually the point. You have her supporters propping her up. That's fine.

Here's the truth.

HALEY: You're just scum.


BERMAN: There it was.

CNN's Steve Contorno is in Miami this morning. Look, Steve, this was seen going into the debate as a moment for either Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis to emerge as a clear alternative to Donald Trump. What ended up happening?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you saw, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley had some of the most memorable exchanges of the night, John. But DeSantis and Haley are the two frontrunners in this race to be the Trump alternative, and they had some clashes as well. It really showed how they think each other is weak going into the home stretch right before Iowa votes in January.

For example, the DeSantis race concerns about a Chinese company that Haley recruited to her home state of South Carolina when she was governor. Take a listen to this exchange.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She welcomed them into South Carolina, gave them that land near a military base, wrote the Chinese ambassador a love letter, saying what a great friend they were. That was like their number one way to do economic development.

HALEY: Yes, I brought a fiber glass company ten years ago to South Carolina. But, Ron, you are the chair of your economic development agencies that, as of last week, said Florida is the ideal place for Chinese businesses.


CONTORNO: So, I should point out that that Chinese deal was actually also the subject of an advertisement that pro-DeSantis super PAC is running as well as the DeSantis allies try to blunt some of Haley's momentum that she has had in recent weeks going into the home stretch.


Haley, on the other hand, went after DeSantis' record on energy and the environment, saying there are some inconsistencies there.


HALEY: On the energy side, it cracks me up that Ron continues to do this. He has opposed fracking. He has opposed drilling. Last time he said it wasn't true. And everybody found out that it was true. He opposed it before Florida voters even voted on. He was praised by the Sierra Club. And you're trying to make up for it and act like you weren't a liberal when it comes to the environment. You were. You always have been.

DESANTIS: We are absolutely going to be frack, but I disagree with Nikki Haley. I don't think it's a good idea to drill in the Florida Everglades, and I know most Floridians agree with me.


CONTORNO: So, John, that's just a taste of the back and forth you can expect in the final weeks of the race. And I'll point out that our own Daniel Dale has fact-checked a lot of those claims about that you just heard and you find it on

BERMAN: Yes. Daniel Dale had a very busy tonight. Steve Contorno, you did also. Thank you so much for your work. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Thanks, John. Well, his rivals fought to break out of the pack, as you saw there on the debate stage. Frontrunner Donald Trump rallied his supporters just a few miles away, trying to get the spotlight over to where he was. He dismissed the idea that he's skipping the debates because he's afraid to debate them.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Seeing this guys, they're not watchable.

Somebody said, oh, someone of the dumber ones, he doesn't have the courage to stand up. Well, listen, I'm standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it's on television. That's a hell of a lot harder to do than a debate.


SIDNER: And there you go.

CNN's Alayna Treene joins us from Washington, D.C., this morning. Alayna what was Trump's message last night besides going after his opponents?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes. Well, Sara, Donald Trump was escalating his attacks and mockery of the primary process last night by bringing this rally on the doorstep of that third Republican debate. He's really faced no significant blowback so far for skipping the first two debates and holding counterprogramming events instead.

And we saw him try to upstage his opponents even more last night with that massive rally in Hialeah, Florida.

Now, Sara, Hialeah is a 96 percent Hispanic city and we saw much of Donald Trump's messaging, focusing on Cuban-Americans. He even, at one point, compared the Biden administration to the Cuban regime. And a big theme of that messaging was playing on the fears of immigration. Donald Trump, at one point, said that he would track down and deport, quote, resident aliens who participated in recent attacks and protests at the White House. Take a listen.


TRUMP: To all the residents aliens who joined in the pro-jihadist protests and became very violent and started destroying our Capitol and many other places, we put a notice, come 2025, we will find you and we will deport you.


TREENE: So, Sara, clearly a very amped-up rhetoric from Donald Trump. As part of that, he also touted the travel ban that he wants to propose on predominantly Muslim countries. And that's rhetoric that's been ramped up following the war in Israel.

And, really, the big picture, I just want to point out, about these debates, is that Donald Trump has no plans of participating in any of them. His team has already said that he has no plans of attending the fourth debate that was just announced to be held on December 6th in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And this is all part of his strategy, to look like he's bypassing his challengers and really setting up a general election rematch with Joe Biden.

SIDNER: Yes. And you mentioned Hialeah also, a huge number of people there, most of the population is Cuban or Latino. And it shows you that Latino voters are not a monolith, just like black voters and all the voters, not a monolith.

Thank you so much, Alayna Treene. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Joining us now to talk about all of this, and there is so much from last night, and also, some might argue, so little, Terry Sullivan, who was campaign manager for Marco Rubio's presidential run, also founding partner of Firehouse Strategies, CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp. We are back together again for the third time, my friends.

Okay, Terry, after the second debate in our post-convo, you described the second debate as a goat rodeo. After the third debate now, how do you describe it? Any improvement above goat rodeo status?

TERRY SULLIVAN, FORMER 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR MARCO RUBIO: Yes, I think they all made improvements, like it was a much more substantive debate. They all went out and do what they needed to do, although some of them just seemed to like unload their opposition research documents on the campaign stage. But I think they all did better.

BOLDUAN: The moderators did a good job too.

[10:10:00] SULLIVAN: The moderators -- like it was a substantive debate. There was no fighting or anything like that. But at the same time, it didn't matter. I mean, none of them really talked about the elephant that was not in the room who was holding rally down the street. And I think when he is like 44-point lead in the latest CNN poll in the primary, I mean, what are you guys doing on the stage?

BOLDUAN: What are you doing on stage? One thing they were doing on the stage is going to place of taking on and talking about the other candidate's children. S.E., this is a moment that stuck out to you. I want to play this just to remind everyone what we saw.


RAMASWAMY: In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using app for a long time. So, you might want to take care of your family first before preaching to anybody --

HALEY: Leave my daughter out of your voice.

RAMASWAMY: The next generation of Americans are using, and that is actually the point. You have her supporters are propping her up. That's fine.

Here's the truth.

HALEY: You are just scum.


BOLDUAN: S.E., what did you see in that? What did that reveal other than it gets my hair up in hearing it?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, we are moms, right? And I think that unleashed the mama in all of us. I mean, I would have been across that debate stage. You don't bring up children, and especially told as a woman, take care of your family first, really, really low, the comment about her heels also really low and gross.

And Nikki Haley chose a word I would not use, but I would not blame her to describe him. And I think what Vivek Ramaswamy was doing last night was not debating. He turned that into a roast. And I don't think that anyone takes very seriously someone who would turn America into his insult comedy club.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I know this stuck out to you. What is the motivation there? He clearly planned to say this. This was something in the oppo research. But would you ever had advised?

SULLIVAN: Never in a million years. I mean, you don't want to attack a family. That's just ridiculous. I do think that several of those people on that stage are just auditioning for their next T.V. contracts, and Vivek is one of those.

And so I don't know if it was a standup routine that's gone awry or what, it was just ridiculous and didn't score him any points, and only helped Nikki.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about two things really quickly, two big topics. I want to get you guys this take on how they talked about abortion and how they talked about Trump. Terry, which one do you want to talk about?


BOLDUAN: Okay. Let's play Trump mash-up view (ph).


CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll say this about Donald Trump. Anybody who is going to be spending the next year- and-half in their life focusing on keeping themselves out of jail and courtrooms cannot lead this party or this country.

HALEY: I can talk about President Trump. I can tell you that he was the right president at the right time. I don't think that he is the right president now.

DESANTIS: He said this Republicans were going to get tired of winning. What we saw last night, I am sick of Republicans are losing.


BOLDUAN: It felt to me that they did not take your advice from the last round, which was they need to draw blood and they've got to go after him. What did they do with this?

SULLIVAN: Well, you notice the stage is getting smaller and it's going to keep getting smaller. There's a good chance that several of those people around the stage last night will not be on the next debate stage. And as Trump runs away with it, he is running a smart campaign, he's doing the right things and he's walking away with this nomination. And they have got to do something to change that trajectory.

BOLDUAN: And they have not in three debates. It is very clear. It sounds like those were sound bites we've heard now in the two prior.

S.E., how they talked about abortion last night, I want to play this. I have to get your take. Listen.


HALEY: When we are looking at this, there are some states that are going more on the pro-life side. I welcome that. There are some states that are going more on the pro-choice side. I wish that wasn't the case, but the people decided.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a 15-week federal limit. Three out of four Americans agree with the 15-week limit.

DESANTIS: You have got to do a better job on these referenda. I think of all of the stuff that's happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flatfooted on these referenda and they have been losing.


BOLDUAN: S.E., it felt like a lot of -- some of the answers were prepped way before Tuesday's election and were not adjusted after Tuesday's election. Why?

CUPP: Yes. And I agree the moderators did a great job. I would have done 20 minutes on abortion. I would have started with it given what happened Tuesday night. This is clearly something Republicans, any one of them, are going to have to contend with.

And Republicans seemingly wanting to die on this hill are, in fact, dying. They are losing elections over and over and again, because abortion is saving Democrats from crime, economy, the border crisis. Democrats are using this very effectively.

And so I don't think that any of the candidates really had to take that on and talk about whether they have learned those lessons or how they would go on to win in a general election when the majority of the country, including many of the Republican voters, are not with the far right on this issue.


BOLDUAN: I have really enjoyed our conversations post-debate. Let's keep it going. S.E., thank you. Terry, it's great to see you. Thank you so much. John?

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, they have a deal and you might have new shows, eventually. The actors and SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative deal with the studios after 118 days on the picket line.

CNN's Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy is with us. What are the details here, Oliver?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: John, there is finally peace in Hollywood after many, many months after unprecedented, really, disruption in Hollywood. Finally, there is peace, the actors' union making a deal with the studios and announcing that to their member last night.

We don't have the full terms of the deal yet, John. We should get that or more detail tomorrow as the official ratification process begins. But we are getting some glimpses at what the deal does include, and it includes ground-breaking protections against artificial intelligence.

I want to read to you and the statement that the union is going on the put out which offers some insight into what they got, and in a statement actually that the union put out, which offered some insight into what they've got. They say, in a contract valued at over $1 billion, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes compensation that will protect members from the threat of A.I., and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus. Streaming was also a big issue as the actors went into these negotiations. And it is not just a union saying that they got some big wins. Ted Sarandos, the Netflix chief, when they presented this deal to the actors' union over the weekend, he said, we didn't just come toward you, we came all the way to you. And so you can see that the actors definitely secured some key victories when negotiating with the studios.

John, this deal could not have come soon enough. They really needed a deal, frankly, last week to get production back up and running if they want to bring back the shows that everyone wants to see in January, if you want to see the summer moves next year. Production has to get up and running as soon as possible.

And so, now, Hollywood is quickly focused on getting people back to work, getting the hum of the Hollywood engine back roaring so that they can bring back those shows and movies everyone loves.

BOLDUAN: Bringing some new life in the labor movement. Oliver Darcy, thank you so much for that reporting. Sara?

Oh, I should note, next hour, we are going to speak with Fran Drescher, of course, the star of Spinal Tap, who is the boss of the -- of SAG-AFTRA, of the union that just reached this deal. Sara?

SIDNER: You cannot forget Fran Drescher. You're going to get it because she is going to be on, John. Just watch out.

All right, coming up, we are going live to Tel Aviv for the very latest on the besieged Gaza Strip, and new ideas and the negotiations to free more hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas.

Plus, a high-end brothel network with a long list of clients that include elected officials and military officers. What we are learning about at the Justice Department's investigation and arrests in that case. That is ahead.



BOLDUAN: Some important developments just this morning in the Israel- Hamas War, hostage negotiations ramping up with new urgency in Qatar. A U.S. official confirms to CNN, CIA Director Bill Burns met with the head of Israel's Mossad and Qatar's prime minister in Doha today about the 239 hostages that Hamas kidnapped in the October 7th attack is holding in Gaza right now.

Sources are pointing to discussions around several proposals to get a significant number of hostages released.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is standing by in Tel Aviv for us with much more. Jeremy, what more are you learning? They have been very careful about talking about the details of these negotiations for obvious reasons.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about it, Kate. These talks are extremely complex and extremely fragile. We have watched over the last several weeks as these as these Qatar-mediated negotiations have gone on. And we have watched potential deals come about. We have watched talks collapse. And so there has been a cycle to these negotiations over the last several weeks.

But we are now learning that U.S., Israeli and Qatari officials sat down today in Doha, Qatar, to discuss the latest proposal that is on the table. And that proposal, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the talks, would involve the release of 10 to 20 Israeli hostages in exchange for a three-day pause in hostilities as well as the entry of additional humanitarian aid into Gaza, and also for Hamas to compile and share a list of the hostages that it is holding inside of Gaza.

Now, we know that this is one of the potential deals that is being discussed by these officials involving the CIA director, the head of Israel's intelligence agency as well as Qatar's prime minister. But what we should be very clear about is the fact that, again, these talks are so fragile and complex, and we have watched before, as we have seen to be close to a deal and those talks have collapsed again.

But what this does appear to be is certainly an effort to get closer to Israel's red line, which is no pause in hostilities unless a significant number of hostages are released. And also Hamas, of course, has been pushing for a pause in hostilities and for the entry of additional aid into Gaza. So, we will see if this negotiation comes together.

But in the meantime, what is clear is that Israel is not slowing down in its offensive in Gaza. We have learned over the last few years that Israeli forces had encircled Gaza, that they operating in significant areas of Gaza city. And we know that yesterday they were also working to destroy additional tunnels that they are discovering, that they have destroyed 130 tunnels thus far.


Amid all of this, of course, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Kate, is continuing to deteriorate, particularly in Northern Gaza, which has become the focus of the Israeli ground operation inside the Gaza Strip. Hospitals are running out of medical supplies. They are running out of fuel to keep their generators going, to continue to provide services. We are learning that a number of hospitals are shutting down.

Amid all of this, tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians leaving from Northern Gaza, using an evacuation corridor facilitated by the Israelis to head south. But all of this, of course, a very fragile and a very sad situation, of course, for the Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of all of this. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And the families of all of those hostages holding their breath and praying that they will be getting their family out at some point soon. Thank you so much, Jeremy. John?

BERMAN: All right. We are joined now by CNN Military Analyst, retired U.S. Army Major General James Spider Marks. Spider, great to see you. We should note, Israel says 239 hostages in Gaza, this is their 34th day in captivity. As negotiators in Qatar, discuss this pause, Spider, the Israeli forces operating in Northern Gaza with Gaza City surrounded. What is the military definition of a pause?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, there is not a tactical military term of pause. You are either on the offensive or you are transitioning to the defensive. So, you transitioning between the two types of capabilities. There are other type of military operations, but there isn't a pause.

And so a pause connotes that the Israeli forces now in Gaza, which are on the offensive, that are going after the Hamas strongholds, getting into the tunnels and neutralizing the tunnels, trying to find the hostages, going after Hamas leadership, what that means, they have to transition to the defensive.

When you transition, you become exposed. You've got to dig in. You've got to assume defensive positions. Your fire coordination looks different. That puts your forces at risk, and the Israelis know that clearly. That's why they have stated all along a pause is not an option for them going forward. That puts them in enhanced risk and they lose the momentum that they have achieved so far.

The point being if there is going to be some leverage, and humanitarian assistance is the leverage, that can be done simultaneous with operations going against Hamas.

BERMAN: So, from a military standpoint, you say a pause doesn't particularly exist. You're either the offensive or defensive.

So, the images that we've seen released largely by the IDF over the last few days of their tanks and other things operating there, they won't just have to stop, they would fundamentally have to change what they are doing there.

MARKS: Exactly correct. You become exposed. When you are on the offensive, you own the momentum. The advantage is to -- clearly, to the defensive positions. The Hamas have been there for a while. This is a home game for them. But the Israelis are disrupting what they have put in place. So, if they, the Israelis, now transition to the defensive, they have got to dig in, you can't go deep enough, you have got to improve communications, you are now a target, you're not moving, you now become exposed, Hamas snipers and movement, that has not been restricted to-date. There are still tunnels that are being used and Hamas can maneuver. They can maneuver on the battlefield. They will continue. They will increase their attacks against the Israelis.

BERMAN: Yes. And, look, and we have seen some diagrams provided by the IDF of these tunnels going several storeys deep, very complicated to get in and out of them.

Spider, thank you, as always. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Tell me, John, if you have heard this one before. The government is just days away from a potential shutdown. Sound familiar? Well, Congress is again trying to avert this for a second time in as many months. We will have more on that ahead.

Plus, President Biden's son and brother subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee, the move setting up a highly anticipated showdown as it searches for proof of an impeachable offense. All of that is ahead.