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SpaceX Launches Rocket; Doug Jones Is Interviewed About A Third-Party Candidate; Fort Lauderdale Mayor Welcomes Spring Breakers. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 14, 2024 - 09:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Order to change the thrust to steer the first stage back to earth.

Wow, these are just incredible views coming to us. Everything is looking good for both the first stage on the left-hand side of your screen, or the super heavy booster, as well as on the right-hand side of your screen, that is Starship or we also refer to that as the ship.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching these incredible pictures after two failed attempts, the most powerful rocket ever built is going into space. And our Kristin Fisher has literally been cheering at her desk as she's watching, jaw wide open, hitting the table. Just your reaction as you watch these really beautiful pictures.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, first of all, the fact that we can see this live at its happening in such good quality is just incredible. And it reminds us, you know, that SpaceX really does believe that this is not just a journey for one company or one country. I mean, yes, this is a critical part of NASA's Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon. But this is really a moment for all humanity because SpaceX wants to use this rocket to colonize mars. And so as I watch these -- these images, it's just an incredible moment for people that all enjoy watching spaceflight.

I would have to say that SpaceX is going to be very pleased with this because this so far has been a picture-perfect launch. There was no hold at t minus 40 seconds. They didn't even have to wait to see if those wind speeds were too high. It was as clean a countdown as they come. And keep in mind, they only got their launch license from the FAA about 24 hours ago, less than 24 hours ago. So, SpaceX here is really saying, hey, our hardware is not the one that is holding up these flight tests. It is FAA, government regulators, that are keeping us from moving at the pace that we would like to be moving at, the fact that -- that SpaceX was able to launch today.

And so what we're seeing right now on the screen, on the left-hand side of your screen, actually, I'm not sure there, but what we're going to be seeing is the booster, the bottom part of the rocket. The super heavy is going to be returning back, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico. I believe that's what you're seeing on the left-hand side of your screen.


FISHER: And so far this test flight has made it much farther than the previous two.

And then on the right-hand side of your screen, that's Starship. You can see the black belly there, those are all the heat shield tiles that are going to protect it from the heat of re-entry. But right now these are the grid fins that you're seeing. There's things that are turning, they're trying to kind of help steady the super heavy booster as it makes its way back down to earth.

I believe they lost an acquisition of signal.

So, you've got two things happening at once, the booster coming down to the Gulf of Mexico and then Starship trying to make it all the way to the Indian Ocean.

And, Sara, what we're going to be seeing now, within the next few minutes, is this fuel transfer. I mean think about that, they're going to be trying to move cryogenic super-chilled fuel from one tank inside that Starship rocket spacecraft right there into another tank inside the spacecraft. That is critical because Starship cannot make it to the moon until it is able to prove that it can do that. And it's going to have to do it ten times. You're going to have to have about ten or 11 of these things all launching around the same time, transferring fuel from one spacecraft to the next. That's how much fuel it's going to take to get it up to the moon. So, that's the first big demonstration that's going to be coming up here if all goes according to plan.

They're also going to be opening up a very small payload hatch. That's critical because SpaceX wants to use it to deploy satellites, likely Starlink satellites, in the next few months.

And then there's also going to be the first ever relight of a raptor engine in space. So those are going to be some of the key milestones that we're going to be seeing coming up. But so far, I mean, Sara, SpaceX and NASA going to be very pleased with this. It doesn't get much better than this right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, the third time is the charm. The previous two launches failed way before this. This one still ongoing. And that Starship you're looking at right there, which is in space, and will land in the Indian Ocean at some point, we did lose our picture of the booster, which is plummeting to earth. For all I know it's already hit earth.

I know they seemed like they were trying to get a picture of it from the ground as it was coming back down onto earth.

How long will Starship, which we are looking at now in space, how long will this flight last?


FISHER: It should be just about 40 minutes. I mean the goal here is not to make Starship fully orbital. They're not trying to do, you know, several laps of the earth. What they're trying to do is simply get Starship to orbital speeds, to prove that they can get it into orbit. And so, if all goes absolutely perfectly, the whole flight plan is not to make even one full orbit of the earth. Essentially what it's doing is its lifting off from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, its going up, going over the Atlantic Ocean, it's going to go over the very southernmost tip of Africa and then close to Madagascar splash down somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

But even then, SpaceX saying here, you know, it will look like, if you could see it, and we probably won't be able to, end in some kind of explosive event because, with a spacecraft traveling at those speeds, you can imagine what sort of impact that might have when it splashes down into the Indian Ocean.

But overall, about 50 minutes is what SpaceX is saying if all goes according to plan for the Starship spacecraft. But that booster, I believe it should have already splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, or already suffered a rapid unscheduled disassembly, which is SpaceX terminology for an explosion.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm just - can't believe we're still watching this in real time and seeing these pictures of the earth.

SIDNER: It's so cool.


BOLDUAN: It's just kind of amazing watching that -- whichever portion it was. I've kind of been lost in the pictures, whichever portion -- what was that called, like a giggly bot (ph) at some - like a gimbal at some point. We started coming back down and down through the clouds. It was - and atmosphere, stratosphere, whichever one you're talking about, it's amazing to watch.

SIDNER: Beautiful.

BOLDUAN: She was talking about the potential of an explosion.

As we go to break - Kristin, thank you so much. She's going to continue to watch as this plays out. But as we go to break, let's watch the launch one more for time. You can see just how amazingly powerful this thing was when it was taking off.



CROWD: Three, two, one, blastoff.



[09:42:17] BERMAN: So, this morning, No Labels, which considers itself a centrist group, is planning - which -- and they are planning a third-party presidential bid, they are announcing the nominating committee that will select their candidate to enter the 2024 race.

Former Alabama -- excuse me today. Former Alabama Senator Democrat Doug Jones joins us now.

Forgive me for getting slipped over my tongue there.

Senator, I wanted to ask you about No Labels because I think you have strong feelings about this group and their efforts to launch a third party presidential candidate.

DOUG JONES (D), FORMER ALABAMA SENATOR: Absolutely. You know, John, you've got to start from the premise that a third party cannot win an election in the United States of America. We are a two-party country and we have that - been that way for two centuries now. And a - they - there's no way on God's green earth that a third-party independent candidate can win.

And I believe that a third-party bid by No Labels, which purports to be a centrist type organization, would only take away votes from Joe Biden. And I think that that's a vote for Donald Trump. It will put him back in the White House.

So, yes, I've got real concerns about that.

BERMAN: They say that's not their intention. They say that they wouldn't put someone forward if they thought it would only get Donald Trump elected. You don't believe that?

JONES: No, I don't believe it at all. There's nothing to suggest that. I mean you look at the number of potential candidates that they've gone through right now. And folks to see that they cannot win the election. And the fact of the matter is, they continue to just try to raise money and to try to raise more money. Now we've gotten to where we're talking about a former lieutenant governor from Georgia. I mean -

BERMAN: Geoff Duncan.

JONES: You know, Geoff Duncan's a really good guy, but the fact is, you cannot raise that kind of money to be a president. And the only thing they can do is to be a spoiler. It can take votes away. They know they cannot win the election. And if you cannot win the election, you can only be a spoiler if you have any success at all.

BERMAN: Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting a clinic that provides abortions today in Minnesota. This is the first time that a sitting president or vice president has ever made a visit like this. It's historic. Why do you think it's never happened before and why do you think it's happening now?

JONES: Well, it's never happened before because it hasn't been on the tip of everybody's tongue and what they're voting on as much. It is a huge issue. Women's reproductive rights. Abortion.

Look at what happened in Alabama with the unintended consequences of a supreme court decision that did away with IVF for a period of time. And I still think that there is a problem there.

This is a major issue for America. It is not just about abortion, but it is a bigger issue for taking away the rights, which is exactly what the Biden administration is trying to get across to folks.

BERMAN: It's interesting, I don't think that a - even a Democratic president 25 years ago -

JONES: Right.

BERMAN: Could have made a visit like this.

JONES: No, I don't disagree with that. But -- but that was then.


That's when you had Roe versus Wade as a backstop. Once you take that Roe versus Wade as a backstop away from folks and - and their rights are literally challenged, then you've got to make a point. You've got to - you've got to stress the point that this is where America is going if we're not careful.

BERMAN: There's a question I've been wanting to ask you. I'm not sure you're going to like it. It has to do with the special counsel investigation from Robert Hur into President Biden's handling of documents. Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States, needed to sign off on the report put forward by Hur.

JONES: Right.

BERMAN: Could have stood in the way of it if he had wanted to or had any issues with it. As someone who at one point was rumored to have been being considered to be attorney general, do you think Merrick Garland should have let that report, which questioned President Biden's memory, go through?

JONES: Well, I think the attorney general's between a rock and a hard place at this point. And the fact is, we don't know all that went on. We don't know the conversations that went on between Mr. Hur and the attorney general.

I'm not going to try to second guess the AG at this -- at this point. That report is what it is. I think the attorney general has gone above and beyond to show how fair that this department is to Donald Trump, to everyone associated with him, and also to make sure that he presents a fair image to what is going on with any investigations involving the president or his family. And I think that that is an appropriate thing to do.

BERMAN: All right, then I won't ask you to weigh in an Attorney General Merrick Garland. I'll ask you for your legal expertise because you're quite a lawyer in your career. JONES: Right.

BERMAN: Do you think that the special counsel's report was fair? Do you take any issue with the reasoning?

JONES: Sure. No, I take -- I don't take issue with a reasoning, but I take issue with a gratuitous comments about his memory. And I think that that is a little bit inconsistent with what we're now seeing in the full interview of the president, who was really sharp, who was bantering back and forth with the special counsel.

I don't believe that the fact that he forgot a few dates, things like that should play that big a role in whether or not to prosecute. That was on the facts. The facts indicated that there should be no prosecution. There was never any intent. So, I really took exception to the gratuitous comments that the special counsel made, which I did not think were necessary to a determination as to whether or not to go forward.

BERMAN: Former Alabama Senator Doug Jones, great to have you here in studio with us.

JONES: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: So, as Miami Beach took really the unprecedented step of breaking up with spring breakers, another Florida city is welcoming partiers with open arms now.

But first, a preview of this weeks' episode of "United States of Scandal," Jake Tapper takes you inside the resignation of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. The new episode airs this Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim McGreevey was a very young, aggressive politician and wanted to be governor for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He taught (ph) to Georgetown Law School. He was a bright guy. And he also was a very ambitious guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was kind of a backslapping kind of guy. He wanted to be liked. He wanted you to like him.

JIM MCGREEVEY: Thank you. You made my day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Jim clearly wants to be governor and would do anything to get that job.

MCGREEVEY: Part of it was because I believe in the promise of America. I believe there's this great experiment known as American democracy. And I think I can work well with people. So much of it is also fueled by, you know, ego and -- and self. But I knew that these were, at that time, two mutually exclusive narratives.




SIDNER: All right, this morning, while Miami Beach has been trying to break up with spring breakers because of the chaotic crowds and rise in violence that has been happening during spring break there, another beach less than an hour north seems to be welcoming spring breakers this year. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis joining us now.

I just want to go first to remind people of the unprecedented ad that Miami Beach put out to spring breakers. Let's listen to a little bit of that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we need to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't working anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's not us. It's you. We just want different things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our idea of a good time is relaxing on the beach -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hitting up the spa -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or checking out a new restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just want to get drunk in public and ignore laws.


SIDNER: So, you hear her say, you just want to get drunk in public and ignore laws, so we're breaking up with you.

Are you welcoming the spring breakers that Miami is breaking up with?

MAYOR DEAN TRANTALIS (D), FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Well, first of all, Fort Lauderdale has always been a welcome place for spring breakers. In fact, this week we've seen really large numbers of kids from various colleges around the country come here. (INAUDIBLE). We just tell people to behave. And we have a very good crowd that comes here. Was having a good time and I'm not - I'm not happy with what I see (INAUDIBLE) -

SIDNER: We're having some -

TRANTALIS: To me it almost sounds -

SIDNER: Mayor, we're having a little bit of a technical issue.


SIDNER: I think you are -- and now you're - there, now you're back.

But you said you were not -- you're not happy with what you saw.


SIDNER: You always welcome spring breakers. I know that is part of the economy of Florida to have people coming in from all different places to spend money at restaurants and enjoy themselves. But is your city concerned enough about what happened in Miami this past year?


Are you doing anything different this year than last year to try to keep things from going nuts?

TRANTALIS: Well, the thing is, we've always had enhanced police enforcement. We have the presence of police everywhere.

But I want to -- I just want to credit the parents that send their kids down here. They tell them to behave. They tell them to, you know, be good citizens. You know, we want them to come here with their enthusiasm, but leave with their dignity. And the - and I think that messages is really widespread throughout the -- throughout the whole area that we -- we usually see our - our spring breakers come to.

Now, Miami - you know, Miami's a different crowd. A lot of those folks that attended spring break really weren't college kids. They were mostly adults who came to Miami Beach thinking it was the party scene. So, I'm not sure that they are going to find Fort Lauderdale a welcoming venue for that kind of entertainment.

SIDNER: Did I read this right, that the police may be recruiting spring breakers to join the police department?

TRANTALIS: Absolutely. We have recruiting officers out there every single day trying to encourage college kids, when they graduate, to come back to Fort Lauderdale. And we'd love to see them as part of our police force. Our police force, our firefighters. This is a great town to live in. A great place to be. And we really would love to see more and more kids join our police and fire firefighter group because, you know, why not? This is a place to really enjoy your life, you know, start a family and build a career. Fort Lauderdale is the place to be.

SIDNER: Mayor Dean Trantalis, I think two firsts have just happened. One, Miami -- Miami Beach breaking up with spring breakers and, two, recruiting spring breakers when they come to the city to have a little fun to the police department.

Thank you so much for joining us.

TRANTALIS: You're very welcome.

BERMAN: But leave with dignity. A great motto for spring breakers and for (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: Well, for us.


BERMAN: This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL, with dignity.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta is up next.

BOLDUAN: No question.