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Biden's Sweeping Vaccine Mandates; Somber Ceremonies Mark 20th Anniversary Of 9/11; Afghanistan's Future Under Sharia Law Unclear; Witness Describes Day-To-Day Life In Kabul Under Taliban; One Of Kentucky's Largest Hospitals Inundated With COVID-19; Israel Turns To Masks And Testing To Get Kids Back To School; Push To Remove Governor Newsom Enters Final Stretch; Teen Players Square Off In Women's Tennis Championship; Strong Typhoon Chanthu Batters Taiwan. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired September 12, 2021 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I' Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Tolling bells and a moment of silence mark a somber September 11th anniversary. Now a document released by the FBI is raising questions about one country's potential involvement in the terror attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): And California's governor fighting to keep his job; with only a few days left before a recall vote, we'll look at what is driving the anger of his opponents.
BRUNHUBER: As people around the world remember the victims of September 11th, we're seeing the first of what could be several documents released by the FBI, related to its investigation of those terror attacks.
This follows an executive order by President Joe Biden. The document still contains significant redactions but here is a bit of what we're learning. It points to alleged logistical support provided by at least two of hijackers by a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent.
Based on multiple connections and witness testimony, the agent is described as a Saudi student in Los Angeles at the time. The document describes him as deeply involved in providing, quote, "travel assistance, lodging and financing" to help the two hijackers.
The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., says it welcomes the documents but, quote, "any allegation that Saudi Arabia was complicit is false."
Now those documents were released after solemn ceremonies earlier in the day for the 9/11 victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): For the families left behind, the tragedy remains a vivid memory undimmed by time. One by one, the names of the fallen were read aloud to ensure no one is ever forgotten.
This is a look at Ground Zero in New York, the footprints of Twin Towers are now deep fountains and their missing silhouettes are replaced by beams of white light.
Ceremonies were also held at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, all attended by the president and first lady. We begin our coverage with CNN's Arlette Saenz at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, visiting all three sites of the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks. Marking the 20th anniversary since those attacks, on Saturday.
The president, starting his day in New York City, at Ground Zero. Where he was accompanied at the 9/11 Memorial by former president Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
They stood at that site as each of the names were read of those killed in the terror attack 20 years ago. The president, also stopped in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to lay a wreath at the site where Flight 93 crashed into that rural Pennsylvania field, after some passengers overtook the hijackers who had hoped to land that plane in the Capitol. Instead, it crashed and killed those on board, in Pennsylvania, 20 years ago.
The president, wrapping up his day at the Pentagon, laying a wreath there, with Vice President Kamala Harris. And, in a video, released ahead of the 9/11 remembrances, the president called for a moment of unity.
As he was speaking with reporters on September 11th, he shared the story of how one of his friends lost a loved one, a son, in the tower attacks, in New York City. And he recalled the emotions that many of these families are feeling, on this anniversary. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a tough day for him and for everybody who lost somebody. And, you know, I know you heard me say it before and I'll probably get criticized for saying it again but these memorials are really important.
But they're also incredibly difficult for the people who are affected by them because it brings back the moment they got the phone call. It brings back that instant we got the news, no matter how many years go by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: The president, trying to strike some empathy there, on this 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The president, calling many of the actions of people that day, genuine heroism -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.
BRUNHUBER: The war that began in the wake of those deadly attacks has only just ended. Less than two weeks after the final U.S. military withdrawal, Afghanistan's economy is in shambles, prices are high and money is scarce. And many Afghans face an anxious daily reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The change of regime has brought disappointment for everyone. Especially the younger generation. And women and the educated class. There are no hopes for their country, their education or their future any longer. They have no faith left. They are in a state of suspense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The Taliban are seeking international legitimacy but its hardline makeup will complicate normalization. It is unclear how radical their interpretation of sharia law will be this time around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QARI HAQMAL, TALIBAN POLICE CHIEF (through translator): There is no difference between the laws 20 years ago and now. Only back then, the U.S. was too powerful. They were doing a lot of propaganda. All other countries were under the United States.
Therefore, they had made plans for their invasion. There was no other problem. The mujahideen still have the same law. There hasn't been any change to it. Obviously, people change. But that hasn't changed. It is the law of Allah. There is not going to be any change in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Journalists in Afghanistan are giving us a sense of how that rule of law is being applied to them. They say they were covering a women's protest in Kabul last Wednesday, when they were detained by the Taliban. Two of them said that they were taken inside the station, where they were severely beaten.
They provided CNN with videos of the injuries they sustained. We'll show you the images and some viewers might find them difficult to watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): In describing their ordeal, the men said that the Taliban would hit them with whatever they could find. One said he asked his captors to at least hit him on all sides and not just his back.
TAQI DARYABI, AFGHAN JOURNALIST (through translator): They declared to the journalists in a press conference that they will be granted permission to continue with their activities but only under the Islamic rules.
I believe those threats are still present. The journalists will not stop. They are a different sector of the society. And they are people who convey the voice of the population; i.e., they become the voice of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The Committee to Protect Journalists says the men were among at least 14 journalists detained over the course of two days while covering protests in Kabul. CNN has reached out to the Taliban for comment but so far hasn't received one.
CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is joining us from Istanbul.
That police chief, who spoke of nothing changing, he doesn't represent the Taliban government. But you can imagine that he represents the views largely held by many now in positions of power across the country. And then the experience of those journalists, as we saw, seems to be more evidence of this.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And also, Kim, you have the experience of some of those women and others, who have been going out in small scale demonstrations but also, in many instances, being met with force, being beaten while they are out there, trying to either demonstrate for their rights or for Pakistan to cease its involvement among Taliban and other things.
And you also have contradictory messages coming from the Taliban, confusing and probably also quite frightening for the vast majority of the population. Remember they said that women would be allowed to work, that they would be allowed to go to school.
Now you have the police chief in Mazar-i-Sharif saying, we'll be ruling the same way we did 20 years ago, when women did not have those rights. Journalists were told that they would be allowed to conduct their work in accordance to sharia law.
What does that mean?
What is sharia law?
Sharia law is effectively very open to interpretation. There are very different ways of actually implementing it, with the Taliban implementing among the most, if not the most hardline manifestations of it.
And even a Taliban that does not rule exactly the same way it did 20 years ago is still a government, a country, that will be the most oppressive when it comes to girls and women's rights. As for the role of the international community, global leaders, the United States, Western allies have effectively abdicated responsibility.
DAMON: With a lot of the rhetoric that we're hearing from government leaders, really centering not on how to ensure that certain rights are upheld and maintained within a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan but more about how to ensure that Afghans remain in Afghanistan and don't create another refugee or migrant crisis.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. Arwa Damon in Istanbul, thanks so much.
BRUNHUBER: My next guest worked with journalists like me as an interpreter and policy adviser for Western entering governmental agency in Afghanistan. And he is still in Kabul. And we're identifying him only as "Mohammed." He joins us by phone.
Good to speak with you. We worked together years ago when I was reporting there. And it is sad to speak with you now under these circumstances with them back in power. How are you coping now?
"MOHAMMED," AFGHAN INTERPRETER: Hello. It is very difficult, life under the Taliban. It is fearful, dark, hopeless, uncertain and moralless (ph). There are no women ministry (ph) and no law and everything looks grim.
BRUNHUBER: What are the biggest challenges right now for yourself for most Afghans, the food shortages, access to cash?
"MOHAMMED": Well, let me divide the people into two categories, the people who work for the international community live in fear. They are trying to save their life. So one day they might come for them.
And the second group of people who didn't work for the international community, they are not feared of the Taliban but they are hopeless. So there are shortages of food, banks are closed, shops are closed, streets are empty and the town looks like a military zone.
BRUNHUBER: I mean, for you personally, because you worked with Western organizations and you worked with the Afghan government itself, do you feel as if you have a target on your back?
I mean, are you waiting for a knock at the door?
"MOHAMMED": Yes, I worked for more than a decade for the international community supporting Afghan women. And I also worked for a U.S.-funded project. So at the moment I'm indoors and I hardly go out.
I'm sure that once the Taliban have access to all the government files and to realize where people live who worked for international community, they identify and they will come after us.
BRUNHUBER: Oh, my gosh. That must be terrifying for you and for many women. I mean much of your work revolved around trying to recruit and train women police officers. And that is just one area that women made huge strides, working in what was traditionally male occupations.
The Taliban have promised that women can continue working.
But from what you've seen so far, do you believe them?
"MOHAMMED": Well, to be honest, I wouldn't believe it at all. If we go back two months ago or before the collapse to the Taliban, we can see that they committed genocide, they killed people, they killed all different types of people, women, children, religious clerics.
And so what they are doing now, you can see that they are shooting people, killing people; they have broken their promises. So I wouldn't believe it at all. They have not changed.
I hear some countries are making excuse for themselves, saying that the Taliban has changed, in order to make an excuse and have a relation with the Taliban. But that is not true. I can't see any changes.
How can you expect the Taliban to be changed what they did in the past?
BRUNHUBER: We should note the Taliban have denied many of those killings that have been alleged but certainly, from what we heard from that police chief in Mazar-i-Sharif, he says nothing has changed from 20 years ago.
BRUNHUBER: I want to ask you, we're talking now just after this country and the world has marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I wanted to get your perspective with the country now having come full circle under Taliban control.
What are your thoughts on this anniversary 20 years later?
"MOHAMMED": Well, the anniversary seems like on the president of the United States and the world power, they are celebrating the anniversary, giving their messages but nothing has changed in Afghanistan.
But 20 years of so-called progress we made in this country is gone with the blink of an eye. And so in this part of the world, nothing has changed.
You can see the most powerful countries in the world came to Afghanistan to fight terrorism. And so they have two objectives, to fight the terrorism of Al Qaeda and also to build the economy in Afghanistan.
So now Al Qaeda and the terrorist group and those who harbored them, they identify Taliban as terrorists now. But why they are now defeated like the Americans who were brought into Afghanistan and now the Taliban are back.
So we cannot compare the world's country with the group of Taliban. We have nothing. The whole world left Afghanistan alone, they withdraw. And it looks like a joke to me.
BRUNHUBER: Listen, I know you want to leave the country. I wish you luck. Stay safe. And let's stay in touch. Really appreciate you speaking with us.
"MOHAMMED": Thank you. But I feel like I'm a stranger in my own country now. I don't belong to this country anymore.
BRUNHUBER: As I say, I really hope that you are able to escape and find a new life somewhere else. I'm sure there are thousands and thousands of Afghans who sadly feel the same. It's been great talking to you but also very poignant and sad.
"MOHAMMED": Thank you very much for having me on the program.
BRUNHUBER: Well, coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the pandemic is growing more dire for hospitals in Kentucky, where COVID patients are getting younger, sicker and harder to treat. That is just ahead.
Plus Israel is hoping a new approach will keep children safe from COVID-19 as they head back to school. So we'll show you what the country is doing and why one school principal says it remains a work in progress.
BRUNHUBER: The White House says it could be a matter of weeks before President Biden's new vaccine mandates go into effect. The rules will impact as many as 100 million Americans. That includes federal workers, health care staff and employees of large companies.
So let's lay out the basics of the administration's six part plan.
First vaccinate the unvaccinated, where employers with more than 100 workers required to have mask mandates or weekly testing. Failure to comply could mean fines.
Second, the White House wants to start offering booster shots to those already vaccinated. That program scheduled to start next week.
Third, the White House will keep schools safely open and mandate vaccines for educators in federally funded programs like Head Start. Fourth, provide more free tests, requiring masks and have retailers
sell at-home kits at cost.
Fifth, the administration is promising to protect the economic recovery with more support for small businesses.
And finally, improving care for the already infected. And that includes more staffing for overburdened hospitals and increased shipments of monoclonal antibody doses.
Arthur Caplan is a professor of bioethics at NYU's Grossman School of Medicine and he says the ethical focus of vaccines needs to be shifted away from the unvaccinated and toward those who are vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, GROSSMAN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: For too long, we've allowed the rhetoric of "my body, my choice," my right to decide what I want to do to dominate the pandemic response, particularly, again, in the U.S.
I think President Biden, finally, has stood up and said enough. I have been arguing, for months, that we must shift to the ethical focus away from the rights of the unvaccinated, the willfully unvaccinated, toward the people who are doing the right thing.
The way to reward vaccination is to make sure that you get your liberty. You can work, you can go to recreational activities. You can go to school. You can visit with friends and neighbors.
If you don't vaccinate, I don't think we should force you to sit down and have the vaccine police administer a shot to you but you lose your right to go where you want. To put it quite simply, critics of vaccination have it backwards. It isn't their body, their choice, it is their choice that leads to the loss of freedom for their body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Kentucky is suffering one of the most devastating COVID surges in the U.S. Hospitals are overflowing. Two-thirds of them have staff shortages. The National Guard is deployed around the state to help. CNN's Miguel Marquez goes inside one of Kentucky's largest hospitals, pushed to the brink.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Billy Couch (ph) didn't think much about COVID until he got it.
BILLY COUCH, COVID PATIENT: Don't mess around because this ain't a joke. This is not fun and games. I've been here so long I want to go home. But I can't go home because I can't breathe still yet. This is not a game at all.
MARQUEZ: In the hospital, 19 days now, the unvaccinated 42-year-old isn't sure how he picked up the virus. He toughed it out at home for eight days before being admitted.
How serious is COVID?
COUCH: It's bad to the bone. I recommend everybody wash their hands, do what they got to do, stay home, stay social distanced because it's bad. Trust me, it's bad.
MARQUEZ: Until you had it, did you think it was bad?
MARQUEZ: What did you think it was?
COUCH: I didn't pay attention to be honest. I do now and get your shot.
MARQUEZ: Wanda Colmes (ph) manages the nursing staff in the COVID ICU at Appalachian Regional Healthcare's largest facility in Hazard, Kentucky, a nurse for 30 years, the job never tougher.
WANDA COLMES, NURSE: It's been very, very hard and I get emotional because it is our community. ICU nurses work really hard. They work very hard every day but you can usually see a difference, so you work hard and you see a difference and that's OK. You don't care that you're tired, you've made a difference.
So with this, they still work just as hard, harder. And it really hurts when you don't see a difference.
MARQUEZ: Just when they thought they were through the worse of the pandemic it's come roaring back, patients younger, sicker, harder to treat.
COLMES: The family, you know, it's hard for them to realize, oh, you mean, this is the end, oh, this really is the end. That's what's really hard on the nurses is the emotional part, too.
MARQUEZ: In the COVID ICU here in Hazard, every bed taken by those suffering from severe cases of COVID-19, every patient intubated except for one.
What is this virus doing to places like Hazard, Kentucky?
CAROLYN EDDINGTON, REGISTERED NURSE IN COVID-19 UNIT: It's destroying us. We're -- I mean everybody's getting it. Everybody's getting sick. Everybody's -- we're just seeing a lot right now.
MARQUEZ: Appalachian Regional Health Care has 13 facilities across eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Its entire system now overwhelmed by COVID.
DR. MARIA BRAMAN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, APPALACHIAN REGIONAL HEALTHCARE: We have no ICU beds available, zero --
MARQUEZ: Zero across 13 facilities?
BRAMAN: Across 13 facilities. We have zero ICU beds available. We have 35 patients waiting in our ERs for beds.
MARQUEZ: Today, Appalachian Regional Healthcare has three -- three regular beds available across its entire system. They've cleared space and made room for 200 beds that sit empty unable to staff them.
BRAMAN: We have applied for FEMA disaster medical teams at multiple of our hospitals. Our understanding is that right now Louisiana is in dire need and so most of their teams are there. So we are on the list. And once they have availability we hope that we'll be able to get support.
MARQUEZ: The hospital system needs 170 nurses today to open up extra beds. Nurses now working longer hours and doubling up on patients just to keep up.
RIKKI CORNETT, DIRECTOR OF RESPIRATORY THERAPY: One respiratory should comfortably have four ventilator patients but right now I have seven to eight ventilators per respiratory patients.
MARQUEZ: Here in Hazard, patients are coming in younger and sicker than nurses have ever seen.
JASON HIGGS, REGISTERED NURSE IN COVID-19 UNIT: We're seeing much younger patients than we did before. We're seeing patients from 20 years old up to 75 years old. So it attacks everyone. It's not just limited to one age group.
JD JONES, REGISTERED NURSE IN COVID-19 UNIT: This year, it doesn't matter. I've had several patients under 20 years old.
MARQUEZ: Under 20. How sick?
JONES: Very sick actually for their age.
MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Hazard, Kentucky.
BRUNHUBER: It's back to school in Israel and educators are hoping to keep in-person classes going, despite the threat of COVID. Israeli schools went back and forth with opening and closing after earlier outbreaks. But as Elliott Gotkine reports, officials now believe that they may be done with closures.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all fun and games at Arazim (ph) School in Tel Aviv, where these new first graders are readying themselves for class under the shadows of COVID.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're worried, of course, but really, really without any choice.
GOTKINE (voice-over): Getting a bunch of six year olds to wear masks in class will be just one of the challenges.
GOTKINE: How do you feel in terms of the preparation in the face of with COVID still happening?
DALIT ROCHMAN, TEACHER: I am trying not to think about it because otherwise there will be paralyzed. And so I'm trying to take every day as it is to come very happily to school to show the kids that there is life. And there are so young kids, we don't want them to be focused on the COVID, we want them to focus of the first grades in school.
GOTKINE (voice-over): They might just be able to do so, thanks to the lessons learned over the past 18 months.
GOTKINE: In the previous school year, if a child or a teacher came down with COVID, the entire class would have to go into isolation and homeschool.
This time around, things are said to be different. Children who test negative on a daily basis would be able to continue to come to school as normal.
GOTKINE (voice-over): The same applies to children with so called green passes. To that end, the government has launched a mass serological testing campaign for virus hotspots. Children whose results show they've recovered from COVID as well as over 12 who are vaccinated will receive green passes.
GOTKINE (voice-over): Yet for school principal Uri Perlman, overseeing these new rules and regulations won't be simple.
URI PERLMAN, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: But who is supposed to enforce it?
I, the minister of education and we're not so sure. Everybody is a bit confused. I mean, like every year, September 1 is going to come. Everybody's going to be here. It's going to be OK. I would love to have more information. But as we all know, it's a rolling situation.
GOTKINE (voice-over): It's not quite the leap into the unknown it was last year. But with vaccination booster shots being rolled out amid near record levels of daily COVID cases, everyone in Israel will be hoping that back to school this year means staying at school, too -- Elliott Gotkine, CNN, Tel Aviv.
BRUNHUBER: California's governor is fighting for his political life. Next, why some Democratic voters believe the race will be close even though they far outnumber Republicans in the state.
Also ahead, emotional ceremonies for the victims of 9/11 as the nation marks the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.
BRUNHUBER: Thank you for watching. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Twenty years have passed since 9/11 but for the survivors and the victims' families, the awful memory of that day never fades. On this 20th anniversary, the Manhattan skyline is again illuminated by shafts of white light, where the Twin Towers once stood. The ground beneath them now holds deep fountains, bearing the names of the victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Each person's name was read aloud so that none are ever forgotten. It is deeply emotional for many, even those too young to remember. In all, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11.
On Saturday the president and first lady traveled to the three sites, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, to pay their respects to the victims in each place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Just one hijacked plane never reached its target that day. Instead, United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers fought back and forced the plane to go down. CNN's Paula Reid shows us how the town marked the somber anniversary.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It has been a busy day here at the national memorial to Flight 93 in Shanksville. President Biden was among the dignitaries coming today to pay tribute to those lost aboard Flight 93.
President Biden was not expected to give remarks today but he did make brief comments while visiting a volunteer fire department not too far from here, where first responders were the first ones to respond to the crash of Flight 93 on 9/11 here in this field in rural Pennsylvania.
In his remarks he defended his administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan. He noted that he says that 70 percent of Americans think that it is time to get out of Afghanistan and the administration continues to defend its ability to respond to threats in that country, even without boots on the ground.
President Biden started the day in Lower Manhattan before coming here to Pennsylvania to participate in a tribute to the victims of Flight 93. Of course, Flight 93 was one of four commercial airliners hijacked on 9/11. But Flight 93 did not make it to its intended target, which we now
believe to be the U.S. Capitol, because the 40 passengers and crew members on board decided to storm the cockpit.
And instead of crashing in Washington, D.C., they crashed here in a field in Pennsylvania. Now among the speakers, Vice President Kamala Harris and former president George W. Bush.
And his remarks are really making headlines. He talked about how unified the country was in the days following 9/11 and how that is to contrast the current partisan political environment. And he also talked about the threat posed by domestic terrorism. Let's take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within.
There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Vice President Kamala Harris, in her remarks, also touched on the theme of unity. Following the memorial ceremony, there was a ceremonial gate that was opened to allow family members and friends of those who were lost to visit the crash site.
It is really significant because it has been those family members and friends who have been lobbying to get this memorial built. Some believe that it doesn't get as much attention as the events in Lower Manhattan and the Pentagon.
And they wanted a permanent tribute. And while this morning was just open to friends and family, this site is now once again open to the public for anyone who wants to come and learn more about what happened on board Flight 93 -- Paula Reid, CNN, Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
BRUNHUBER: California Governor Newsom is in the final stretch of a fight to keep his job. His fate will be decided at the polls on Tuesday, when the state holds a gubernatorial recall election. President Joe Biden is set to campaign for Newsom before that.
BRUNHUBER: As Natasha Chen reports, millions of ballots are already in.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 7 million ballots have been cast so far in this recall election, many of them mail-in ballots because every California voter automatically receives one in the mail.
But with just a few days left until the election, there are also early in-person voting centers, like this one in Beverly Hills, available for people to walk in.
Now we talked to voters in this heavily Democratic area, who tell us this election is about preventing a Republican takeover. And what they are seeing in other parts of the country are influencing their decision here in this state election.
DANIEL FINK, CALIFORNIA VOTER: Thanks to the deliberate incompetence of the Republican governors in Texas and Florida -- I'm a grandparent. Our sons are all in their 30s but I'm a grandparent -- where parents are not allowed to protect their children going to school because the governor prohibits mask mandates in the school.
CHEN (voice-over): The people we talked to said they voted no to keep Governor Newsom in office but they also said they don't feel 100 percent confident that will happen.
CHEN: There was caution in their voices as they recognized how much division there is even in a very blue state. Now the ballot has just two questions but it can be confusing for some.
The first question asks voters whether they want to recall Governor Newsom. If the majority of people say no, then he stays in office.
But if the majority says yes, then the second question becomes important. The second question asked voters who should replace Newsom if he is recalled.
And with 46 candidates to choose from, the person with the most votes becomes governor. You can choose a candidate for governor even if you oppose the recall. But Governor Newsom's campaign has been telling supporters to simply leave the second question blank -- back to you.
BRUNHUBER: Recent polls suggest the majority of Californians want Newsom to stay but polls also suggest that Republicans have enthusiasm on their side. Despite that, one political observer says they may not have the critical mass they need to remove Newsom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORBERTO SANTANA JR., EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VOICE OF ORANGE COUNTY": The challenge that Republicans face in California is that there is just not that many of them anymore.
Here in Orange County, a place Ronald Reagan used to say good Republicans go to die, it is about a third now, third Republican, a third Democrat and a third independent.
So the numbers in a sense have gone down quite a bit. This is a place that voted for President Biden, voted for Hillary Clinton.
It is one of the things about California, though; remember that California is kind of a wild police politically. And the recall process is a unique, compressed time period of a race, from almost a century ago. That might be one of the telling tales coming out of this is that they may look at what it takes to qualify a recall moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: So far California has removed only one governor through a recall. In 2003, Democrat Gray Davis was replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can hear my full interview with Norberto next hour.
Still to come, we'll look at how 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, once a virtual unknown, is captivating the world of tennis as one of the top breakout stars in years.
Plus a strong typhoon is headed toward China. We'll have the latest from the CNN Weather Center ahead. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Now to the U.S. Open in New York, where Novak Djokovic is one win away from a record-breaking 21st major title and the first calendar grand slam in men's singles since 1969. That means winning all four major tennis tournaments in the same year.
Djokovic gets his chance later today when he faces Russia's Daniil Medvedev. But Saturday was all about the women and what was billed as the battle of the teenage sensations at the first all-teen championship match for the American title since 1999.
In the end, 18-year-old Brit Emma Raducanu won her first grand slam title by defeating 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in straight sets. Both women had knocked off far more experienced opponents as the tournament progressed and perhaps, just as incredibly, Raducanu didn't drop a set in the entire tournament.
BRUNHUBER: A strong typhoon is battering Taiwan after pounding the northern Philippines and it's not through yet. And we'll have details from the CNN Weather Center next.
BRUNHUBER: We're tracking typhoon Chanthu as it moves away from Taiwan. So you will see this, this is video we just got in as it passed over the northern Philippines as a supertyphoon. It has now weakened a bit but it's still a monster storm with category strength winds and heavy rain and it has been battering Taipei over the past few hours.
BRUNHUBER: And I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back in a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM. Please do stay with us.