Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Thousands Of Mourners Line Up For Miles To Pay Respects To Queen; Florida Governor DeSantis Vows To Relocate More Migrants To Other States; Mosquito Fire In Northern California Grows, Heavy Wind And Rain Expected This Weekend; Interview With Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID); Threats Mount To Election Workers Ahead Of Midterms; Poll: Georgia Governor Race Statistically Tied. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 17, 2022 - 18:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is amongst the most powerful of images we've seen so far, and the grandchildren, this is not a state occasion, this is saying goodbye to their grandmother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These 50 migrants have now been transferred voluntarily to joint base Cape Cod.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to have access to of course food, shelter, medical care, legal services as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here today to tell Governor DeSantis that he has to stop using our pain, our suffering, and our desperation for his political game.

SEN. JIM RISCH (R-ID): It's hard to believe that a human being can treat other human beings like this. They are killing women and children in Ukraine.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is clear evidence of torture, humiliating treatment of people. The world must react to all of these.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A Kingdom celebrates the life of its Queen and a family mourns the loss of its matriarch. The Queen's eight grandchildren came together to hold vigil as she lies in state outside Westminster Hall. Tens of thousands of mourners wait to pay their respects as you can see right here in this video. The line stretches for miles and the wait at times has surpassed an astonishing 24 hours. Right now, the wait is around 17 hours.

Well, President Biden and the First Lady arrived in London last hour and they will be among the heads of state from around the world to attend the Queen's funeral scheduled for Monday.

CNN's Max Foster has more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A steady tide of mourners pouring into the ancient Westminster Hall. It looks and feels like a pilgrimage.

After hours waiting in line, a personal moment of thanks to the Queen.

King Charles III with his son, Prince William met them outside to the delight of those waiting.

PRINCE WILLIAM, PRINCE OF WALES: It means an awful lot that you are here.

FOSTER (voice over): They had queued for hours and came from across the United Kingdom and the world.

Security was tight. There was a phones down rule as well. A Royal source told CNN it was so people can enjoy the moment with their new King.

KING CHARLES III: Shake hands. Enjoy your stay. Make the much of it.

FOSTER (voice over): The Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward also approach the crowds alongside his wife, the Countess of Wessex.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy years on the throne. She's such a loved lady, that it's just the right thing to do. I think, I saw a lot of people in the line there who are feeling, lots of different nations and colors and everything here.

It's just lovely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is good morale. It is a good day. Everyone is feeling really positive. It's a lovely atmosphere.

FOSTER (voice over): The King also made time to thank emergency responders ahead of the State Funeral which police say will be their largest ever operation.

Global leaders continue to descend on London for the big Monday event, paying tributes and signing condolences at Lancaster House.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: She was our Queen for almost half of our country's existence, who came of age under her reign.

FOSTER (voice over): They also lined up in Westminster Hall, paying their respects and some even sharing a meal with the King and other Royals at Buckingham Palace.

And then a somber vigil for the Queen from her grandchildren that she helped bring up.

Prince William and Harry both in ceremonial uniform. Harry under special dispensation by the King, adorned with medals presented by the Queen to mark her many jubilees, and also his military service. The brothers bow their heads at opposite sides of the coffin. Their cousins, Eugenie and Beatrice, Zara and Peter, as well as the youngest Lady Louise, and 14-year-old Viscount Severn stood firm facing the crowds, a show of unity for the nation in mourning.

In the words of Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, a collective loss for a matriarch, a beloved Queen, and a beloved grandmother.

Max Foster, CNN, Westminster, London.



BROWN: And let's continue this conversation. CNN's Richard Quest is in London at Westminster Bridge.

Richard, people have waited a dozen hours or more, some nearly double that, and during that time, could rarely sit down because the line keeps moving.

As Americans, we were astonished by that public devotion. Tell us more. I mean, what are people saying there who have been waiting in line for all these hours about why it's so important to go pay their respects?

QUEST: It's really both very simple to explain -- gratitude, respect, dignity -- and very difficult to explain, because unless you were born with it, you don't really get it. And the analogy I'll give you, Pamela, and it's only one that just occurred to me. When you talk about the American Dream and what the American Dream is, and what it means. This is something innate that Americans are brought up with, from the get go. The American Dream, anyone can do it, anyone can make it.

And a foreigner like myself, who has lived in the States many years off and on, doesn't -- I can academically understand the American Dream, but I can never internalize it in quite the same way that we would now say about monarchy, the Queen, the whole Royal family, we were brought up with it. We've been -- I suppose to be able to inculcated with, but I wouldn't say that. It's a constitutional monarchy.

We have -- so short answer is that it's just the way it's done. We love a good queue. We love making small talk. We will chit chat about rubbish to our neighbors, and we will all be in it together, the Dunkirk spirit, that's what it's about.

BROWN: I bet there are a lot of new best friends, right, after waiting in line for that long with total strangers. By the end of it, you imagine that they have become good friends.

QUEST: That is happening.

BROWN: So, I want to talk about the fact that King Charles and Prince William actually greeted people standing in line. How significant was that?

QUEST: Oh, I think it's incredibly important, because what's happening is they're making it up as they go along. I mean, obviously, you know, as the day went on, Charles was meeting diplomats, Heads of State, heads of government, Commonwealth leaders -- all of those sorts of things, but they are responding to what they see as the enormous outpouring of affection for their mother.

So yes, I think throughout Charles' -- King Charles, throughout the week has been to Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland. He is obviously in England and they are basically saying, this is a bonding ceremony. This is a bonding time between monarch and sovereign and subject and citizen, and that's what's happening at the moment.

Look, to give you an idea, tonight, it's going to be 53 degrees in London, 53 Fahrenheit, and I think one of the key points, Pamela is that they are going to have to stop the line because the lying in state comes to an end at 6:30 on Monday morning.

Now, you've got to work backwards. So, the line is 17 hours, you've got to work out 17 hours back from 6:30 Monday, and they're going to have to say to people, "I'm sorry, you can't join the line because if you do, there won't be time for you to get through."

BROWN: Yes, now is the time to hop in that queue, as you put it.

Richard Quest, thank you.

Well, migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard who claim they were misled, Florida's Governor vowing to send more and New York's Mayor saying his city is nearing a breaking point.

The political battle over migrant relocation efforts is heating up after 50 migrants were flown to Martha's Vineyard this week from Texas unannounced.

Florida's Governor whose budget paid for those lights said more will be coming to northern cities.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The legislature gave me $12 million. We're going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we're protecting the people of the State of Florida and these are just the beginning efforts.

I mean, we've got an infrastructure in place now. There's going to be a lot more that's happening.


BROWN: CNN's Athena Jones is following all the developments for us. So, Athena, there are concerns in New York as well, tell us about that.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela. Well, that's because there's been an unprecedented influx of these new arrivals in the last several weeks. We're talking about nearly 12,000, eighty five hundred which are right now being housed in the city's shelters. But of course, New York is already struggling to deal with people who are ordinary really need shelter that didn't come from outside of New York City.


JONES: And so, the Mayor has said in recent days the city is nearing a breaking point. They are now considering every option. Among those options is temporarily housing migrants on cruise ships.

Now, this is not a final decision that's been made yet, but it is something that the city is looking into, because they can't stand up shelters to house folks overnight.

The mayor telling WCBS in an exclusive, that's the local affiliate here that they are expecting to add 38 more emergency shelters to the 23 emergency shelters that the city has already stood up to help migrants. They are also being offered a variety of services through a Welcome Center.

You see there several of the numbers. These are by no means comprehensive, but thousands of migrants having been sent from Texas to Washington, DC, New York, and Chicago, Arizona, you see a little bit under 2,000 to Washington, DC, and then we had those 50 that flew -- that were sent via from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. Those migrants have now been all voluntarily transferred to Joint Base Cape Cod that's being used as an emergency shelter.

They are also being given what they're calling wraparound services -- food, shelter, clothing, nutrition, health screenings, mental health and crisis counseling and the like.

But you know, the Civil Rights attorneys who were working with the folks there in Martha's Vineyard as they were getting ready to move over to Cape Cod, one of their main concerns was the lack of coordination. The fact that these migrants just showed up there without much prior notice at all. Listen to more of what one of those attorneys had to say.


RACHEL SELF, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: They were lied to again and again, and fraudulently induced to board the planes. They were told there was a surprise present for them, and that there would be jobs and housing awaiting for them when they arrived.

This was obviously a sadistic lie. Not only to those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead.


JONES: And she also, that lawyer also went on to say that many of the migrants they spoke with or some of the migrants they spoke with were due in Court, they were meant to make appearances in immigration proceedings as soon as Monday, but in towns and cities thousands of miles away from where they are now in Massachusetts.

So as far away as Tacoma, Washington or San Antonio, Texas was where these flights originated. So the lack of coordination is one of the reasons you're seeing so many officials -- one of many reasons you're seeing so many officials slamming these moves by Red State Governors calling them cruel and inhumane and political ploys.

But we also know this is a potent political issue for these Governors because Republican voters in surveys, immigration is one of their top issues. It ranks much higher for Republican voters in particular than sort of Americans in general -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Athena Jones. Yes, and Governor Ron DeSantis is saying this is just the beginning. Expect more of this.

So, we're going to be tracking this for a while it seems. Thanks so much.

Well, crews battling wildfires in California have a new concern, winds that could gusts up to 25 miles per hour.

The Mosquito Fire in Northern California has scorched nearly 72,000 acres since igniting more than a week ago, and while the winds pose a threat right now, firefighters are hoping rain from an upcoming storm will help slow the fire's growth.

CNN's Camila Bernal is in California.

Camila, how big of a deal are these winds?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. It's a big deal because these are such strong winds that they can spread those flames really quickly. And not only do they spread the flames, but they also pick up those embers and then spread them creating spot fires, and that creates even more work for these firefighters that are already trying to get a handle on this fire.

Now, we talked to the CNN Weather team and what they said was that at the moment, we're seeing 10 to 15 miles an hour for the wind, but at sunset, it can get between 25 and 35 miles per hour and that's when it gets concerning. That's when it could get dangerous even for those firefighters because of the wind and how it can change very quickly.

Now unfortunately, this fire has already destroyed more than 71,000 acres and there is still some work to be done here because it's only 21 percent contained. But they do expect progress over the next couple of days because of that rain.

So, after we get the wind, we are expecting the rain Sunday into Monday and that could be extremely beneficial for those firefighters.

There are assessment teams that are also out there trying to figure out exactly how many structures have been destroyed because of this fire. We do not have an updated number, but we know that crews are out there working again around the clock doing everything they can.

Some of these evacuations order are being lifted so authorities are asking people to pay attention to the orders because you may be allowed back into your home as we get that rain.


BERNAL: And big picture, Pam. Overall, the rain is very beneficial for the fire season because experts say that it can slow down this ongoing fire season. So, it's not going to stop it completely, but it will bring some relief, and it won't stop it because even in the next couple of days, we're expecting temperatures again to increase.

California in general, is very dry, because of that drought. So, it's not completely out of the woods, but it is helpful -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, Camila Bernal. I'm sure those firefighters will take any relief they can get. Thanks so much.

And we have a lot more to cover for you tonight on CNN NEWSROOM, including some new details about what Russian troops are doing in Ukraine right now.

And I sit down with the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What Senator James Risch says about Putin's war and how it will end.

Plus, as the nation gets closer to the midterm elections, there is a new push to encourage both political candidates and parties to protect the legitimacy of our elections.

And also for you this week, buying a house just got even more expensive, making it nearly impossible for many to afford a home.

Is there any relief in sight? We're going to talk about that and more, coming up.



BROWN: New information tonight on the atrocities in Ukraine. A short time ago, President Zelenskyy announced more than 10 "torture rooms" have been found in several liberated areas in the Kharkiv region. Zelenskyy said as Russian troops fled, they "dropped the torture devices and then left them behind." Officials also found evidence of electric shock torture devices.

CNN is also learning the United Nations will get involved after the discovery of a mass burial site in Ukraine. The UN says its Human Rights investigators will go to the site in the City of Izium as soon as possible, and a UN source tells CNN that war crimes investigators may follow later. Ukraine says some of the bodies recovered show signs of torture there as well.

Meanwhile, Western Defense officials and analysts announced today they believe Russian forces in Ukraine are setting up a new defensive line in the Northeast. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the details.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, Ukrainian forces continue to gain more ground in the Kharkiv region, although it must be said, at a slower pace than in the last two weeks.

Now, Russian forces are trying to dig new defensive lines in the areas they still control. The Governor of the Kharkiv region says his priority at the moment is to reestablish basic services, things like water, electricity, and heating in the newly liberated zones.

Now efforts continue to exhume more bodies in the mass burial site outside of Izium and Ukrainian officials are showing journalists what they say were Russian prisons, complete with torture rooms.

This area continues to come under Russian bombardments. Early Saturday morning, here in the City of Kharkiv, Russian missiles slammed into an industrial site outside the city; and in a nearby town, a Russian artillery barrage according to Ukrainian officials killed an 11-year- old girl -- Pam.

BROWN: Thanks, Ben.

We were just telling you before Ben's report about the torture going on in Ukraine and as Russia's war on Ukraine approaches its seventh month, there is growing concern tonight about what President Putin is capable of in the face of defeat.

I sat down with Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and here is what he said about Putin's conscience and why he thinks Russia's war on Ukraine is far from over.


RISCH: Putin made a horrible mistake when he started this. I don't know who he is getting advice from, but I think somebody told him that this would split the -- split NATO, it has not split.

BROWN: You have to wonder, does Putin realize how much ground he has already lost in this war? That has been retaken by the Ukrainians?

RISCH: Putin has lost this war. And when I say that, I say that his objective was to march in, occupy the country, set up a puppet government, and have Ukraine be a lot like Belarus, where it was just a thinly disguised State of Russia.

That's over. It hasn't happened.

I can tell you after talking with these people, they will fight in the streets with broomsticks if they have to. They will -- the Russians will never ever occupy that country.

BROWN: How do you see though this illegal invasion by Russia ending?

RISCH: We've got history to look back on, on this. There have been a few wars over history, probably thousands of them. They end when one or both parties fight to the point of exhaustion, and then they sit down and talk and get a resolution. That's probably what happens here.

I have to tell you, though, that neither side is even close to that point. The Ukrainians are not giving up. I mean, they just simply -- Putin has not weakened their resolve. He has very much steeled their resolve.

So, there's a long ways to go, and I think it's going to be Russia that's going to have to make decisions as to how far they want to go. But they've got a hundred thousand casualties, which --

I mean, another great loss for Putin, I think was the great myth that was out there around the world, was the might of them or the mighty Russian military, I mean, it's been stripped bare. Their prowess on the battlefield has just been stripped naked. It's not there.


RISCH: Here they are, "a superpower." I guess, only because they have nuclear weapons fighting a country. Their one point -- what is it -- one and a quarter -- 125 million people fighting a 40 million person country who are fighting with sticks and stones, the Russians are losing.

You've got to remember, these things wax and wane. And Putin will respond. And he -- I'll tell you what, his conscience is an amazing thing. I've said all along that, at some point in time in the not too distant future, he is going to be playing checkers with Adolf Hitler in in a very different place.

It's hard to believe that a human being could treat other human beings like this. I mean, he is throwing these young men in his country into the meat grinder every single day and they are killing women and children in Ukraine.

I mean, like you say, what makes him think the way he does? This is what happens when you have an autocrat, and one that has been in power for a long, long time and has absolute power. He can do this.

BROWN: Do you have that concern still that Putin could just say, you know what, I'm losing so bad that I'm just going to --

RISCH: You said still, I never had it in the first place, and I don't have it now. He knows what the situation is there. You know, the use of a nuclear weapon would change dramatically the world in very short order.

There are two things I'm convinced he's not going to do. One is use a nuclear weapon, and the other is to attack a NATO country. He's been very careful not to do that and those are a couple of really smart moves on his part.


BROWN: And coming up at the eight o'clock hour, I talk to Senator Risch about what it might take to bring Americans Britney Griner and Paul Whelan home from Russia, and if he thinks it's even possible. Be sure to tune in for that part of the interview.

And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Long lines in London still at this late hour there as mourners pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth including today, her grandchildren. What do these moments signal about the future of the monarchy?

We'll discuss, next.



BROWN: A farewell fit for a queen, 10s of thousands of mourners are waiting to pay their respects to the late monarch. She is lying in state in Westminster Hall and the lines have stretched for miles. At one point, the wait grew to a jaw dropping 24 hours. CNN Contributor Sally Bedell Smith is here with us and she's also the author of the book, Elizabeth the Queen.

Sally, you expected there to be very long lines. Did you expect the sheer scale of this outpouring of love though?

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is hard to get your head around. I thought from the very beginning that this would be a sort of emotional earthquake and that so many people will be drawn to London to say goodbye to her. There - she was the object of not only massive admiration, but love and you could see those expressions of love in what people were saying along the queue, the fact that they were willing to endure last night, very cold temperatures to persists.

And it wasn't enough for people to see it on television, they wanted to experience it, they wanted to be in that majestic hall, they wanted to just bow, curtsy or genuflect or whatever the, whatever way they wanted to pay tribute to her. And it's, I mean, it's the most extraordinary outpouring of affection and admiration. I think that we have ever seen and may never see again.


SMITH: So, I'm - I mean, I knew it was going to be big, but - and I think also it's quite mesmerizing to watch the live feed of the cues and how well-behaved everybody is. It's sort of a cliche that the British are so good at walking along in queues and being patient.

The Queen was a very patient person and she was a very tolerant person. She was modest and humble. And there's a lot of pageantry and panoply surrounding all this lying in state encircling the funeral on Monday. But I think we're reminded by - there's this sort of modesty and humility and the people who are coming to honor her.

You had somebody like David Beckham. He could have sneaked in the line at any moment, but he waited for 12 hours. I think it was sincere. I don't think it was a publicity stunt. I heard that some member of Parliament said you can come and take a place with me. There are so many people from all walks of life, from all over the world, a woman from Peru was interviewed the other day. They're just from everywhere, all ages and it's incredibly moving to see how deep the affection is for this woman.


And, obviously, she was appreciated in her lifetime. And the Jubilee, to think that the Platinum Jubilee was only three months ago and we had all these crowds in a much different mood, but she's somebody who saw huge crowds for her entire life. And there was a moment right after her coronation when she and Prince Philip were in Australia, when Prince Philip wrote a letter to her mother and says, the adulation is just overwhelming. And then Queen Mother wrote back and said, how humble making it is to know that you are the vehicle through which love of country is expressed.

And that sort of gets to the nub of what the Queen was. She knew that people admired her personally, but she also knew what she represented.

BROWN: Yes. Yes, well said. Sally Bedell Smith, thank you so much.

SMITH: You're welcome.

BROWN: And CNN will have live coverage of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II beginning Monday at 5 am.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. The nonprofit Carter Center is out with their five principles for supporting democratic elections. Find out which Secretary of State candidates have signed on to this up next. We're also going to talk to the center's CEO about that effort as an alarming number of Republican politicians still lie about the 2020 election.



BROWN: Candidates that support and echo Donald Trump's baseless lies about the 2020 election have proven to be quite popular in Republican primary races this year. A new CNN analysis found more than half of Republican Senate nominees have raised doubts or rejected the election's legitimacy. The irony is that by sowing distrust in our elections, these very candidates may actually be making them less secure. Take a listen to this warning from the nation's top election security official this week, less than two months before the midterms.


KIM WYMAN, SENIOR ELECTION SECURITY LEAD, CYBERSECURITY & INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: We are facing a workforce problem. As these stories of the threats and intimidation are shared, people who would normally be poll workers on election day or work at a voting center or maybe work at a ballot processing center are taking that step back and saying I don't know that it's worth my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: So what can be done to bring down the temperature? My next guest is fighting to do just that. Paige Alexander is the CEO of The Carter Center in Atlanta. This week, it launched a bipartisan initiative to help restore trust in our democracy. Hi, Paige, thanks for coming on.

So first off, just tell us about this initiative and why it is so important.

PAIGE ALEXANDER, CARTER CENTER CEO: Sure. Thanks, Pamela. Well, the Candidate Principles for Trusted Election Initiative is a cross partisan effort to really encourage candidates, political parties, and voters to uphold five core doctrines of democratic elections: integrity, non-violence, security, oversight and a peaceful transfer of power.

So while it's an initiative of the Carter Center, it's backed by more than 50 organizations and institutions all across the political spectrum. And they're essentially basic principles that encourage support for civility and fairness in our election process and they truly represent a minimum standard of behavior that Americans expect to see from candidates who are seeking elected office and which are supported by people across the political spectrum.

BROWN: Yes. Like you said, minimum standard of behavior here. We know that half of Republicans candidates - more than half, actually, Senate candidates that are Republican have at least raised doubts about the legitimacy of our elections and other analysis from 538 found it very likely that election deniers will become a majority in the House Republican conference next year. What are some of your biggest concerns as you see this all playing out?

ALEXANDER: Yes. So our government's legitimacy really relies upon the consent of the governed as expressed through these elections. So these efforts that we're seeing to sow discord around the elections, even poll workers have become targets of violence and intimidation, as you just covered.

So this isn't how our elections are supposed to work, especially in the nation that invented modern democracy. So it's a concern and this is one of the reasons we're trying to find ways to do this through a bipartisan or nonpartisan effort to have Americans have a voice.

BROWN: And in Atlanta's Fulton County, to your point, where the center - The Carter Center is located, leaders have reportedly been unable to find qualified candidates to take over the Department of Elections after the previous director resigned. And to get an idea of why he resigned and why no one seems interested in taking over, just take a look at this press conference he gave back in November of 2020.


RICHARD BARRON, FORMER FULTON COUNTY REGISTRATION & ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: I also want to read a statement about a video that I'm sure some of you have seen circulating, the worker has been accused of discarding a ballot. He was merely discarding a list of instructions that had been put into one of the envelopes. It was taken and uploaded to a Twitter. He is currently in hiding because he's had threats. He's had to shut down all of his social media and they know - all of his personal information was released.


BROWN: I mean, is this where we're headed now? How do you convince someone to work on an elections board when you see that?


ALEXANDER: Right. I mean, these dynamics have the potential to undermine the very foundation of our government. And because now more than ever, we really need good people to run elections, not those who are politically susceptible to disinformation. So in Fulton County alone, it has - we have a hiring target of 2,000 poll workers and DeKalb County, our second largest county, a hiring goal of 1,700 workers.

And so it's really - it's a concern that multiple states have reported shortages of poll workers and retention issues affect not just Election Day poll workers, but the longer term technical staff that keep elections going. And these people are truly critical to the security of our elections.

BROWN: Really quickly I want to ask you, Democratic operatives have been under fire in this election season after deciding to help prop up some of the more anti-democratic and extremist candidates with the idea that they will be easier to defeat in November. Does it concern you to see that sort of tactic being used by the side that claims to be concerned about protecting democracy?

ALEXANDER: The integrity of our elections is really the ultimate goal here and I think that politics are politics, and that's not an area, I think, the support should be done for the candidates that we want to lead us and not against those that we don't.

BROWN: All right. Paige Alexander, thanks for coming on.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

BROWN: And you were in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday night. We're 52 days away from midterm election night and a surprise appearance for Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams highlights just how key that state will be. A live report from Georgia up next.



BROWN: The midterms are fast approaching, 52 days until Election Day and several of the most closely watched contests are in the battleground state of Georgia. And the race for governor, Democrat Stacey Abrams is challenging incumbent Brian Kemp. It is a highly anticipated rematch that, according to the latest polls is currently too close to call. CNN's Eva McKend has been following the Stacey Abrams campaign today. So Eva, what did Abrams have to say to her supporters tonight?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Pam, leader Abrams actually began the day in Atlanta surprising supporters at a farmers market. She was on a campaign trail with Democratic senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey. Then she made her way here to Athens.

This is actually the home of the University of Georgia and she addressed a labor union rally there of campus workers. There she told supporters that if elected, she would work to expand Medicaid, reinstate free technical college and then she also addressed another issue that is really local to this state and that is addressing the growing - the closure of hospitals across the state. Take a listen.


STACEY ABRAMS, (D) GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I'm here for the families that are in need of health care, but are being denied access because Brian Kemp will not expand Medicaid in the State of Georgia. I'm here because right now in Atlanta, there's a countdown to the closure of yet another level one trauma center, the sixth hospitals to shut down under his failed leadership. We got 19 more on the watch list and I refuse to watch another hospital shut down and that's why I intend to be the next governor for the great State of Georgia.


MCKEND: Now, Republican incumbent Governor Brian Kemp has long argued that fully expanding Medicaid would be too costly. He wasn't on the campaign trail today, but he argued that he should get another four years because of how he has led this state on economic issues. He'll address supporters in Sandy Springs, Georgia tomorrow, the Jewish Coalition, Pam?

BROWN: And of course, even there is another closely watched midterm race taking place in Georgia, the state's Democratic senator, Raphael Warnock is up against Republican challenger and former football star Herschel Walker. What's the latest in that race?

MCKEND: Yes, that is another interesting race to watch. Sen. Warnock has really been playing up his bipartisan policy achievements, really talking about how he is willing to work with Republicans, if it means it's - he's going to be able to deliver for Georgia.

Meanwhile, Herschel Walker up with an interesting new ad site just today where he's trying to use Warnock's words on race against him arguing that when Warnock has talked about race it has been too divisive, Walker saying - really characterizing himself as a unifier. Of course, that Georgia Senate contest is so crucial here, Pam, because it could determine the balance of power in the Senate.

BROWN: It certainly could. Eva McKend, thanks so much.

And the Republican governors of Texas and Florida bow they'll keep sending migrants to Democrat-led cities. Up next, I'll speak to the leader of an organization that helps immigrants and refugees about why she says these stunts are in both the migrants and our country's reputation.