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Vice President Harris to Campaign Today for Embattled Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA); Driver Shortage Plagues School Districts, Ridesharing Companies; Brazil's President Vows to Only Leave Office if Killed or Defeated. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 10:30   ET



BRITTANY SHEPHERD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, Jim, it definitely could threaten. There's another deadline that's looming, and that's just next week, September 15th. The ink isn't even dry on this reconciliation bill. The bill is not even written yet, right? And you have a very large progressive caucus, a really powerful one too with Bernie Sanders as the head of the Budget Committee, saying, you know what, if we don't have a vote on the $3.5 billion as our bottom line, we're not going to vote on this until the end of September.

Pelosi already has a packed September legislatively. It gives a lot of power to progressives and it puts the White House in this really difficult place to say, well, how big and bold do they want this plan to be? If they go down to $1.5 trillion, big policy things are going to get cut, right, free community college, child tax credit, universal pre-school, all the things that Biden wants to run on in the midterm to say, hey, I know coronavirus has been tough, Afghanistan has been tough, but we have policy. And this is something that the progressives know. So, I think they're going to be using that at the table at the end of the month, because it's very possible that progressives can try to blow up these two tracks, right, to say, well, we have negotiation power here. If you don't have what we want, we don't want any.

SCIUTTO: That's mutually assured destruction. Not saying it's not going to happen, but I think they better know that.

Okay. Things are not looking great for Biden right now. I mean, approval ratings across the board are down, a little bit of Afghanistan, the COVID surge, et cetera. He has got a big speech tomorrow. He's got a six-point plan. I mean, what needs to be in that plan, do you believe, what is necessary will be in that plan to turn that around?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Jim, I think we're going to hear a lot more about encouraging private companies to have vaccine mandates. It's something that the White House initially was kind of reluctant, but now have been very, very encouraging of that. And masking in schools, that sort of thing, and getting kids that are able to get the vaccines, those over 12, to get vaccinated.

But I really do think that the involvement of private industry and these vaccine mandates, we're seeing that's why people are getting vaccinated. And nothing Joe Biden or anyone else is going to say is really going to move the needle. It's going to be people who are forced to do it to keep their jobs. And perhaps -- and we've seen in some of the polling that some of those people will leave their jobs. But that seems to be what is causing the increase of vaccinations at this very moment, and also the delta variant.

SCIUTTO: Yes, well, no question. Some of that is perhaps out of their control.

Brittany Shepherd, before we go, hanging in the background is this will he or won't he. It strikes me, just personal gut, he probably will, but should we be preparing for Donald Trump 2024?

SHEPHERD: Well, my crystal ball is a little foggy right now, just like yours, Jim. It is a big will he or won't he. I think it's very possible. What we should really look at if we want to tea leaf read is these rallies happening in the couple of weeks in Iowa and Georgia. Really, what we're seeing from Trump in the last six griping and it's not really focused right-bearing (ph). It's the election has been stolen, and, correctly, a lot of lies, right?

If we see some kind of focus in the platform that might be an early flag that his calculus is changing, if these endorsements that he keeps making end up being less punitive, less relegate (ph) the people who wanted me to be impeached as opposed to, well, this person is anti-abortion, we like them, more focused, oh, they're pro lowering the debt ceiling, we like that, right? I think it will be maybe an early clue that it's less about Trump on a rampage and more finally advisers are getting into his ear, because he has a ton of baggage that might not land well the second time around. Democrats believe they know what they're doing when they have him. So I think if there's any indication we're going to see it in Iowa.

SCIUTTO: We'll see. Brittany Shepherd, Jackie Kucinich, thanks so much to both of you.

Coming up next, less than a week before California's recall election, the polling is good for Governor Gavin Newsom at this point, but former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is warning him, don't get comfortable.



SCIUTTO: Today, Vice President Kamala Harris set to return to her home state of California to campaign for Governor Gavin Newsom. In less than a week, Californians will decide whether to recall Newsom. One of the Republicans vying to replace him, Candidate Kevin Faulconer, spoke to CNN this morning.


KEVIN FAULCONER (R), CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: What Californians don't want to do is replace one dysfunctional governor with another.

What Californians want is a governor will who is going to stand up for them, a governor who is going to fight for them. I'm going to fight for working moms and champion that.

Somebody who is going to hit the ground running on day one to make our state more affordable.


SCIUTTO: Here to discuss, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. She's also the host of a new podcast, Total Recall, California's Political Circus. Dana, good to have you.

Democrats were really nervous about this up until a couple of weeks ago. It does seem like the polling has turned in Newsom's favor since then. What is the handicapping right now for Republicans' chance of recalling him?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Democrats are definitely feeling less freaked, to use a very sophisticated political term, than they were a bit ago. But they also understand that this is a climate that is really hard to predict, especially since the fervor and the passion is on the side of people who are just angry at a lot of things that are happening in California.


And the person who voters tend to blame is the person in charge, and that right now is Gavin Newsom.

So, that's why Democrats, on a national level, Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-level example going there today. But we've had senators from Elizabeth Warren to Amy Klobuchar going out to California trying to get Gavin Newsom supporters or even not necessarily supporters, but opponents of what could be if he is recalled, to kind of -- to egg them on and say, look, guys, you've got to get out there and you've got to vote because it is not getting the attention, anywhere near the attention that the last recall did almost 20 years ago, because there's no mega movie star on the ballot, but for a lot of other reasons as well.

So, it's always cliche to say it's about getting out the vote. But now more than ever in this kind of very odd circumstance, such as a recall, it really does matter.

SCIUTTO: So, you mentioned the last recall in 2003, and your podcast talking about that Total Recall, California's Political Circus, it takes a look at that, and, of course, Schwarzenegger came out on top. By the way, great reference to a great Schwarzenegger film in the name of your podcast. But tell us what his view of this current recall race is.

BASH: Well, he is aggressively neutral. He is very specific, saying that he is friends with Gavin Newsom, and he knows a lot of the candidates who are trying to run to get his job. But he also is very opinionated when it comes to the atmospherics.

And one of the things that we talked about is that back then in 2003, people were angry about the fact that there were rolling blackouts, about the car tax, about just the overall recession and the feeling of kind of doom and gloom in California. And the issues are different, namely COVID now, but the anger is quite similar. We talked about that.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: There's millions of people out there that are dissatisfied, dissatisfied with the way coronavirus was handled, dissatisfied with the fires, dissatisfied with the blackouts.

BASH: You're saying dangerous for Gavin Newsom?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Very dangerous, yes, absolutely. It's very dangerous for him because you've got to take this stuff seriously. For too long, they didn't take it seriously. But now I think they do take it seriously.


BASH: So, you see, he's quite candid about the fact that they kind of didn't get it as far as he is concerned inside the Newsom camp for a while, that this is real, but they do know, just the fact they have the vice president of the United States coming out, and he's working very hard to make sure that his people come out.

And I should also say, there's another huge difference in that Gavin Newsom, the current governor who is the subject of a potential recall right now, is so different from the guy who Arnold Schwarzenegger took out, politically speaking, Gray Davis, because his poll numbers were in the toilet. And Gavin Newsom's are nowhere near as low as Gray Davis'. They're actually pretty good, all things considered.

SCIUTTO: Yes, high 50s at this point. Should we look at this as something, as you often do with special elections, right, and it's not a special election but sort of is midterm election, we look at this as a bellwether nationally for Democrats and Republicans?

BASH: That's what -- that's certainly the way that the Newsom campaign is trying to frame it. That's how they're trying to get people who might be kind of apathetic about it or not that interested, because it's not your typical election, it's not Election Day, it's a recall, to get them to the polls, to say that if Newsom goes down and if Larry Elder takes over, that it is going to spread like -- I won't say like wildfire but continue to spread across the country this coming election year.

I'm not sure that that's an apt -- that that's really legit, but it's certainly the campaign argument that he's trying to make to get people out to the polls or to get them to fill out their recall ballot and send it in.

SCIUTTO: Yes, a political firebreak. Dana bash, sounds great. Thanks so much.

You all can listen to Total Recall, California's Political Circus, wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes drop weekly. So be sure to subscribe.



SCIUTTO: The pandemic is driving more people away from the job of driving. The shortage of drivers is hurting school districts, ride- sharing companies, the trucking industry as well.

CNN's Pete Muntean reports numbers are coming back, but, in some cases, not fast enough.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): School Bus Driver Nick Rocca (ph) understands why some of his friends are retiring from the routes they've run for years. The return to in-person learning shifted pandemic fears into high gear, and a changing economy is providing other options.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have more people leaving than we do people coming in.

MUNTEAN: It is a problem also plaguing Uber and Lyft, which say, shortages are hiking rates and wait times. D.C.'s metro bus system says it is having a more difficult time recruiting candidates. But the issue is especially acute for kids going back to class. The Fairfax County, Virginia School System just outside Washington is trying to fill three times its normal driver openings.

FRANCINE FURBY, TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR OF FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: It's always been something that we battle with, but this is the worst that we've seen it.

MUNTEAN: Those with commercial licenses are so in demand, that here in Fairfax County, new school bus drivers are being offered a $3,000 sign-on bonus. The district is also raising their hourly pay.

In nearby Stafford County, Virginia, parents say kids are arriving hours late due to driver shortages.

NICHOLE DULIN, PARENT IN STAFFORD VIRGINIA: I think the answer is probably more money. Like if you pay them more, you'll get better people, you'll get more people.

MUNTEAN: Poor pay and poor working conditions are why trucking trade associations say many are turning their backs on the profession. Todd Spencer, who represents independent truck drivers, says the pandemic has forced a years' long problem to come to a head and not enough is being done to keep drivers from quitting. TODD SPENCER, PRESIDENT, OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION: Good people can find better jobs, better places, in lots of places that don't have many of the drawbacks that trucking does. So, they look around and they take advantage of those opportunities.

MUNTEAN: For school bus drivers, the incentives are increasing across the country. Fairfax County has even won a few retirees back. The nation's tenth largest school district wants this to be just a bump in the road to getting students back in school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're definitely looking forward to having more kids come in. And with that, we need more drivers coming in.


MUNTEAN (on camera): School transportation officials across the country were just surveyed about this, and two-thirds of them say a school bus driver shortage is their number one issue. But driving groups, regardless of industry, say this issue really comes down to pay. And here in Fairfax County, they've raised the sign-on bonus and the hourly pay for drivers. We'll see if other districts and other industries take note. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes. We'll see if it gets some back in the seat. Pete Muntean, thanks very much.

Still ahead, the president of Brazil is accused of trying to insight a January 6th-like insurrection in his own country. And at the same time, notably, a former senior Trump adviser has been briefly detained there. What's happening in Brazil exactly, that's next.



SCIUTTO: There are growing concerns now that the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, may be encouraging a January 6th-style insurrection in his country. Thousands of protesters filled streets in several Brazilian cities both supporting and opposing the right-wing president. Bolsonaro is clashing with the judiciary over changes to Brazil's voting system, and critics fear he is whipping his supporters to overrun the country's Supreme Court. Sound familiar?

All of this is as former senior adviser to former U.S. President Trump, Jason Miller, was briefly detained and questioned at the airport in Brasilia after appearing at Brazil's version of CPAC, the conservative conference.

CNN Reporter Michael Warren joins me now. Michael, do we know why Jason Miller was there?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, we still have a lot of questions that haven't been answered, but this is what Jason Miller told CNN that he and a few associates were held at the Brasilia airport for three hours yesterday, questioned by Brazilian authorities. He did give us statement. I'll read it in part. We were not accused of any wrongdoing and told only that they wanted to talk. We informed them that we had nothing to say and were eventually released to fly back to the United States.

Now, this is all happening, Miller's visit to Brazil against that conservative political action conference there. Miller also met with Bolsonaro, the right-wing president, called by some the Donald Trump of Brazil. And, of course, the backdrop as well is this dispute you mentioned between Bolsonaro and the elections court. Bolsonaro has accused the elections system in Brazil of being rife with opportunity for corruption and the court has replied by saying that Bolsonaro was spreading misinformation.

So, all of that is happening. Jason Miller, of course, is promoting his own new social media app, Getter, which is suggested a conservative alternative to Twitter. It hasn't gotten a lot of pickup here in the United States, but it does have somewhat of a footprint among Bolsonaro supporters in Brazil. That seems to be what he's there to promote, but we're still asking questions. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Money-making opportunity. Michael Warren, thanks for tracking it all down.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. It's good to have you.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right now.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Here is what we are watching at this hour, growing crisis for children.