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Voters In Four States Head To Polls For Primaries & Two SC Races Test Trump Endorsement; Extreme Weather Prompts Heat Warnings, Floods Across U.S.; McConnell Indicates He's Yes On Gun Package If Legislative Language Reflects The Framework; Ohio Governor Signs Bill Allowing Armed School Employees. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 14, 2022 - 14:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina are all heading to the polls for primaries today.

Two battles in South Carolina, those are the ones to watch. They're tests of the potency of former President Trump's endorsement.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Charleston.

So how is the former president playing into these races, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, there's about four and a half hours left of voting in today's primary here.

And these are the first round of primaries since the January 6th congressional hearings really have revived all of the former president's conduct in office.

And not coincidentally, that conduct is playing a central role in both of these campaigns.

You have two Republican members of Congress. Let's start with Nancy Mace, the first-term member of Congress from here in Charleston, a Republican.

On her third day in office, she voted to certify the 2020 election and spoke out against the attack on the capitol. That drew the immediate ire and criticism from the former president. He's been trying to defeat her ever since.

Meanwhile, slightly north of here, one of 10 House Republicans, Tom Rice, he's been in the House nearly a decade. He was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach the former president at the time. So, clearly, that is playing a role in his race.

But they're handling this very different. Take a listen to how they're talking about the former president.


REP. TOM RICE (R-SC): I don't think it will cost me my election. Certainly, I hope that it doesn't. But if doing the right thing costs me an election, I'll wear it like a badge.

ZELENY: Does Trump still loom large in this race?

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): He's popular with Republicans. But so is Nikki Haley, so is Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, so are so many different Republicans within our party that folks support.

And we're going to show folks on Election Day, you can support all of the above and still support Nancy Mace.


ZELENY: So former President Trump is endorsing the opponents in both of these races.

Katie Arrington, in the case of Mace race, he's been supporting her. She lost this seat to Democrats back in 2020.


That's why many Republicans here believe this is still a swing district. They believe this race is important for that reason.

But up in the seventh district here in the state of South Carolina, a tough race for Tom Rice, no doubt about it.

Russell Fry is a state representative, backed by the former president. But several candidates on the ballot there. This could go into a runoff.

So the bottom line here in South Carolina, Victor, is that the former president, his persuasion, his power, will be tested once again.

But a slightly different context, given the fact that the hearings are under way in Washington at the very time that people here are thinking about who they're voting and who they're voting for -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Charleston. Thank you, Jeff

Severe weather is affecting all regions of the country right now. Record heat in the Midwest. Catastrophic flooding forces one of America's most popular national parks to shut down. And tornado threats in Chicago. We've got the latest next.



BLACKWELL: Right now, more than 100 million Americans and nearly two dozen states are under heat alerts with triple-digit temperatures set to break records tomorrow. In Montana, unprecedented flooding of the Yellowstone River. Forces --

look at this -- the closure of the Yellowstone National Park. Washed this house right away.

CNN's Bill Weir is with me now.

Let's start with the heat. It's June, right, expected to be warm. But what we're seeing, records all over.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: About 100 cities from Denver to Charleston would see all-time records set by tomorrow. It's unbelievable.

It's the -- it's this heat dome phenomenon that we're living through now where the jet stream seems to be wobbling. Same thing's happening in France and Spain where these blobs of intense heat are there.

And -- which means, of course, electricity is life in this situation. It gets so hot that air-conditioning is needed to survive.

It's taxing the grid down in Texas. They hit their all-time power demand record on Sunday. Thanks to the wind and solar down there keeping that going.

But it's really something. And there seems to be no relief in sight.

BLACKWELL: This video -- if we could play that again -- the video of that house being washed

WEIR: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- into the Yellowstone River there.

WEIR: So this is up in Gardner, Montana, there. And maybe the folks who looked at our report a couple weeks ago of houses falling into the ocean in the Outer Banks thought, boy, good thing we're in Montana and wouldn't have to worry about this.

But the Yellowstone River was so supercharged, not only by intense rains, two to three inches, but melting snow as a result of the heat dome, which just completely obliterated.

And they had floods back in '89, I believe, and '97. And locals are saying this is nothing. Much, much worse.

The park is closed, Yellowstone. All five entrances are open if you want to leave but no one can come in. There's more precipitation in the forecast.

But then they have to wait for the river to subside to see what kind of damage was done to fresh and wastewater supplies there. So it's really, really a staggering thing.

And then, meanwhile, it seems so incongruous, parts of New Mexico and California are on fire as the drought holds into the west.

BLACKWELL: Extreme weather across the country. The trend continues.

WEIR: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Bill Weir, thank you.

WEIR: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, a new law in Ohio allows teachers to carry guns in school after only 24 hours of training. The state police officials, they're worried. The president of the Ohio Teachers Federation joins us next.



BLACKWELL: The bipartisan group of Senators hashing out the framework for new gun safety legislation hopes to have the text of the agreement by Friday.

And now it seems that the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is on board.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): For myself, I'm comfortable with the framework. And if the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I'll be supportive.


BLACKWELL: CNN congressional correspondent, Lauren Fox, is on Capitol Hill.

We saw other members of Republican leadership there with Leader McConnell. Are other Senators lining up behind the legislation with McConnell?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's already those 10 Republicans who came out supporting the framework when it was announced on Sunday.

Now, this is a huge boost from the minority leader. He is not someone who is prescriptive. He is not someone who tells his conference how to vote on legislation.

But obviously, he often leads with his own messaging. And the fact that he chose this moment, after the Republican lunch, to make it clear that if the legislative text reflects that framework, he would be supportive, is significant.

And not something that should be lost on the rest of his conference.

I am told in that private Republican luncheon that has just wrapped a few minutes ago that one of the main concerns that was raised from conservatives was over incentives for states to pass more Red Flag laws.

Those are the kinds of laws that essentially say, if you have a concern about someone in your life or if law enforcement has a concern that someone is a danger to themselves or others, that they can get their guns taken away temporarily with a court order.

So, one of the concerns from conservatives is that that could unduly hurt due process.

A lot of other Republicans are saying, look, this is just merely an incentive. This is just funding to help states craft their own Red Flag laws.

But it is an important moment for McConnell to come out and say that he supports the framework, including what was very clearly outlined in there, incentives for states to pass Red Flag laws -- Victor?


BLACKWELL: Lauren Fox, with the latest on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's go to Ohio now. Education and police groups there are condemning the state's new law that makes it easier for teachers and faculty to carry guns in schools.

The law reduces the hours of training required from 700 to 24. And critics are warning of some dangerous unintended consequences.


MICHAEL WEINMAN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE OF OHIO: When it comes to an active shooter situation, are these teachers are going to be proficient enough to be able to be on target and not strike other students in a crowded cafeteria or gym or auditorium or something like that? There's going to be mass chaos when this shooting occurs.


BLACKWELL: Ohio also became the 23rd state to allow permit-less concealed carry.

Joining me is Melissa Cropper. She's president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

Melissa, thank you for being with me.

I know that you and your group oppose this new law.

I want to start, though, with the governor, Governor DeWine, defending his signature on this new legislation. Let's watch.


GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): What this legislature has done, done by signing it, is giving schools an option, based on their particular circumstances, to make the best decision they can make with the best information they have. That's all any decision maker can do.


BLACKWELL: Now, I understand you oppose it. Tell me why.

MELISSA CROPPER, PRESIDENT, OHIO FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Well, this is just preposterous. To think that a teacher would be able to stop an active shooter is the wrong notion anyway.

And then to reduce the number of hours of training from over 700 hours to 24 hours is really just a distraction from the fact that our legislature is doing absolutely nothing to make our students safer.

BLACKWELL: So why do you think, then, that the governor signed it?

CROPPER: I think the governor, again, is trying to distract from the fact that we had a mass shooting in Dayton a few years ago.

The people of Ohio demanded that he do something about it, and he has done nothing about it. This is the answer to do something is to arm teachers?

This not only makes our schools more unsafe. It does nothing to help our children when they're in our churches and our grocery stores, walking on the streets in our communities.

It's a distraction from the fact that they have failed to protect us.

BLACKWELL: After the Senate passed it, before the governor signed it, I spoke with the Senate co-sponsor of this legislation. I want you to listen to part of her defense and then let's talk.


STATE SEN. THERESA GAVARONE (R-OH): There are some areas of our city where response time can be very quick, and speedy in an emergency when minutes and seconds count. But there are other parts of the state that are more rural or some of the areas are going to be more difficult to get someone there.


BLACKWELL: So we've seen the failed response from law enforcement in Uvalde, in Parkland as well. Those, yes, are the outliers.

But what is the response? What should be the protections for those schools that are maybe too long of a drive from the closest sheriff's office?

CROPPER: The protection is to stop people from getting the guns to start with. Let's make it more difficult for people -- let's do deeper background checks.

Let's make it more difficult for people who shouldn't have guns to get guns. And let's stop putting A.R.-15s in the hands of people.

That's how we really protect people, not by putting more guns in our schools.

Uvalde showed that a good guy with a gun cannot stop a bad guy with an A.R.-15. And that's what we need to remember.

BLACKWELL: So I know that Cleveland and Columbus, I've read, they say they will not change their policy.

Are you seeing, have you heard from any of the bigger school districts across the state who will allow their teachers, their administrators to carry?

CROPPER: I have not heard of that yet. I think Cincinnati is also looking at not doing this with their teachers. So I think our larger school districts are not considering this option.


CROPPER: And again, remember, teachers -- I think one thing, the important thing to remember about Ohio is that the option has already been there to arm teachers in schools.

What this law did was reduce the amount of training from over 700 hours of training to only 24 hours of training. Most of that training not even being done with a gun.


Let me ask you this. The police union, they're against it. But now that it's law, and some school districts allow their teachers to carry, they have to accommodate, they have to adjust.


Some principles in these districts may disagree with it, but their teachers may want to carry.

Your organization offers resources for the classroom, professional development. What will be the treatment of potentially teachers who want to carry?

Will there be any resources to make sure that they are proficient even if the school district doesn't? How will you try to, even with this law now in place, make sure that classrooms are as safe as possible?

CROPPER: We will be working with our local school districts, our local unions to make the decisions within that local through the collective bargaining process.

We will be pushing for more resources in the classroom and in the school districts to hire safety personnel if needed and not to be using our teachers.

In cases where districts choose to use teachers as security personnel, we will certainly be pushing for a maximum amount of training.

This law does not say that you could only have 24 hours of training. That's a minimum. We will still be encouraging our people to get a full 700 hours of training.

But again, the more important thing is that we will be pushing for more resources in our school, such as social and emotional health, you know, behavioral health, all of those other resources that we need in schools that actually help students on a day-to-day basis.

BLACKWELL: All right. Melissa Cropper there, with the Ohio Federation of Teachers, thank you so much.

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