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WHO Team Describes Al-Shifa Hospital as Death Zone; Biden Calls for Two-State Solution; SpaceX Rocket Explodes After Liftoff. Aired 3- 4a ET
Aired November 19, 2023 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.
More information coming out of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. A team from the World Health Organization is calling it a death zone. U.S. President Joe Biden calls for two-state solution as he rejects calls for a ceasefire. We will look at his op-ed in The Washington Post.
And the most powerful rocket ever built explodes minutes after blasting off, and some are calling the test flights success.
We're following reports of a large explosion at U.N.-run school in Gaza being used as a shelter. One U.N. official called the carnage horrifying. And I must caution, the video is graphic.
The source of the blast has not been determined and no confirmed casualty figures are yet available. The Israeli military says it's aware of the explosion but had no further comments. We will have more on this in just a moment.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization sends a team to Gaza's largest hospital on Saturday. They described Al-Shifa as a death zone, filled with terrified people. They said a mass grave with 80 bodies was right outside the entrance.
Inside, the choking dust and smoke. The WHO team counted 291 patients, including 32 infants, in extremely critical condition. Al-Shifa officials say patients and staff have been ordered to evacuate by the Israeli military. Israel denies issuing such an order.
CNN's Paula Hancocks covered the Middle East for years as our Jerusalem correspondent and joins us now live from Seoul.
Paula, a WHO team visited the beleaguered Al-Shifa Hospital and we understand there are more gruesome scenes coming out of the Jabalya refugee camp after the blast there and another school in Norther Gaza was also hit earlier. What more can you tell us about these events.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laila, we will start with the Al-Shifa Hospital and the WHO being able to spend an hour inside the hospital, they say, and there was heavy shelling and fighting outside in the near proximity. They described it, as you said, as a death zone. It was a dire situation inside, saying that there are 32 babies in extremely critical condition, two people in intensive care without ventilation, also saying that when they spoke to staff and patients, they all said they were, quote, terrified for their safety and health, and they pleaded for evacuation.
Now, the WHO says that it is urgently developing plans to try and get the final patients out of the hospital itself, that the ministry of health in Ramallah has said that they believe there are five doctors remaining in the hospital with more than 120 patients, obviously patients which cannot be moved at this point. It would simply be too dangerous. But they say, the vast majority of the patients they saw there were from victims of war trauma.
Now, when it comes to the U.N.-run school in Jabalya, this is a place where thousands of internally displaced people were sheltering. We understand from UNRWA, which is the U.N. body that looks after Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA chief saying the images that he has seen are horrifying, also saying thousands would have been sheltering in that area.
Now, the images that we have seen, most of which we are unable to air because they are just too horrific, they show many bodies lying in different rooms on two floors of the building, many of them covered in dust.
Now, according to the spokesperson for UNRWA, they say, at this point, they don't know who is responsible.
They don't know what happened exactly. And they are still trying to clarify casualty figures. The IDF, the Israeli military has said they're aware of the incident and they are reviewing. But at this point, that is all the information they are giving us. Laila?
HARRAK: Now, the hostage families, meanwhile, reached Jerusalem after marching from Tel Aviv and are headed to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu's office. And I understand they'll be meeting the government officials this coming week. What do we know?
HANCOCKS: Well, we've heard more frustration from families and supporters of those taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th, believing that they are not being given information and that they are not even able to speak to anybody about the situation. So, we'll be watching that meeting later this week closely.
There had been unconfirmed reports that maybe a hostage swap deal was imminent or was close, but the Israeli prime minister has said that is simply not the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We are prevented from discussing details of a prisoner deal that we stand for. We want all of them back, whether we do it in one stage or two, we will do it in a way that will return entire families. That's as clear as the sun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: The White House also saying that a deal has not been reached yet, but they are working hard to try and reach some kind of a deal. Laila?
HARRAK: Paula Hancocks covering there in the Seoul, thank you so much.
And U.S. President Joe Biden is once again rejecting calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. He says that would give Hamas an opportunity to regroup and rebuild their stockpile of weapons. He also floated his vision for Gaza and the West Bank once the war is over.
CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has the details.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Biden on Saturday released an op-ed in which he rejected calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and notably warned that the U.S. is taking steps to issue visa bans against extremists who are attacking civilians in the West Bank, a key area of concern for the administration.
Now, as far as the ceasefire, which the president has faced mounting criticism domestically and abroad, he wrote the following. As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace. The president and administration officials have instead pushed for humanitarian pauses for the release of hostages held by Hamas, but also to get aid into Gaza.
Now, the president went on to say that Israel should respect humanitarian law and protect innocent civilians. The president also stressed that a two-state solution is the way forward in the Israel- Hamas conflict, reiterating a message from earlier in the week when he said that that was the solution. And he also went on to note the ongoing efforts to get hostages out of Gaza who are held by Hamas.
But above all, the president taking the moment to remind Americans that conflicts unfolding both in Israel and in Ukraine affect U.S. national security. That has been a message that he sent repeatedly, including last month in a primetime address when the White House was also asking for billions in funding to support both Israel and Ukraine.
Now, that funding has not been met yet and the president taking the moment on Saturday to remind Americans why these conflicts abroad are important for the United States in a key moment.
Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, traveling with the President.
HARRAK: I'm joined now by Ron Brownstein. He is a CNN senior political Analyst and senior editor for The Atlantic. Always good to see you and connect with you, Ron. Six weeks now into this war, and President Biden is facing a host of dilemmas. Let's start with this op-ed in The Washington Post. How would you characterize it and who is the intended audience?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is a reassertion of what has been the traditional U.S. role, and certainly in the era that Joe Biden came of age politically as the leader of the western world. I mean, he quotes Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state under Bill Clinton, describing the U.S. as the indispensable nation, and he is asserting the centrality of U.S. leadership, both in Europe in terms of repelling the assault from Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, and in the Middle East, in terms of both working with Israel and in some ways constraining the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
And it is against challenges really on both political flanks. From the right, the resurgence of unilateralism and isolationism under Trump, who had a much more transactional vision of how the U.S. interacted with other nations, and from the left, in terms of that he is facing from portions of the Democratic Party over the breadth and extent of his support for Israel in this conflict.
HARRAK: And also, you know, for the rest of the world watching the carnage in Gaza, the U.S. appears increasingly isolated with the Israel policy, with its Israel policy, rather, with respect to how this war is being conducted. Do you know whether there are discussions within the White House about whether this continues to be the right approach that they, you know, should be supporting? Do you see this administration conditioning its support if there is potentially even more hardship in Gaza?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, you know, President Biden is trying to find a pathway here between irreconcilable absolutes. You know, I think that he has certainly given broader support to Israel, in effect, more rope to Israel than you might have seen under Barack Obama, but he has also been more critical of Israel and more willing to exert pressure on them both publicly and privately to restrain their behavior and also to envision what comes after than you would have seen from Donald Trump.
And, you know, it is a lonely island, in effect, that he is on. You know, this is an issue that, as we've talked about before, genuinely divides his coalition. I mean, it is striking that if you look at polling consistently, Democrats divide about 50-50 on whether they support military aid to Israel, whereas Republicans are predominantly in support of it. And their verse is true on Ukraine, where Democrats are preponderantly in support of aid to Ukraine and most Republican voters now reflecting kind of the influence of Trump on the party oppose it.
So, this is something that is difficult for him. He is also in alliance with a figure in Netanyahu. The Democrats have historically not fully trusted for good reason. I mean, he has identified very much with the Republican Party in American politics and his government is one, the Netanyahu government, that is well to the right of what most Democrats would want to see, you know, in Israeli policy.
So, Biden is trying to thread a very lonely course here and one in which he is balancing both support and constraint or restraint on Israel and one that, you know, threatens to leave him, you know, with a disappointed reaction on both sides.
HARRAK: Right. And all this as we're nearing a presidential election. I mean, where is the U.S. public on all of this?
BROWNSTEIN: You know, look, the U.S. public, you know, is divided. And as I said, the sharpest divisions are on the Democratic Party. And the more Americans overall say they support Israel than the Palestinians, and more Americans support aid to Israel than don't. But among younger Americans, it's a very different balance. There's a much more critical view of Israel's behavior.
And as I said, you know, to some extent, I mean, Netanyahu is reaping what he has sown. I mean, he is going back to the Iran deal when he openly lobbied in U.S. politics to oppose the policy of Barack Obama, the way he interacted with Trump, the way he interacted against Obama in 2012 with Mitt Romney. He is not a figure that many Democratic leaders have a lot of faith in. And the distrust, I think, you know, is spilling over in terms of what we're seeing in the public reaction on this.
You know, Biden's approval on handling this is underwater, more disapproved than approved, but it's better than his approval on many other issues. What he needs ultimately is a resolution to the fighting and a movement toward the diplomatic aftermath, whatever that is going to look like.
You know, you can see in that op-ed and elsewhere, he is putting more pressure than he had before this attack on the Israeli government to begin something that looks like a negotiation toward a two-state solution. And I suspect he will move heaven and earth to ensure that something like that begins at any, you know, whenever the active hostilities have cooled down. But getting to that point, it's going to be extremely painful for him politically as it is for the public in both Israel and Gaza.
HARRAK: Ron Brownstein, always good to have your perspective. Thank you so very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
And still ahead, the security of Taiwan was a big topic during the APEC Summit, but the future of this self-governing island is far from clear. We'll have a detailed report from Taipei.
And voters in Argentina will head to the polls in the coming hours to choose their president.
A look at what's at stake and how the two candidates could change the country's future, next on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARRAK: U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a substantial discussion about Taiwan during their meeting at the APEC Summit last week. Xi made it clear that concerns about the island were the biggest and most dangerous issue in the U.S-China bilateral relations.
So, where does Taiwan stand after APEC? CNN's Will Ripley gauges the mood in Taipei.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Taiwan will never forget those four tense days when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit triggered unprecedented Chinese military drills, widely seen as a dress rehearsal for war. More than a year later, on the streets of Taipei, for some, the prospect of war feels closer than ever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, we are concerned that what happened to Ukraine could happen to Taiwan. I'm a mother and I have kids.
RIPLEY: President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping's marathon meeting in San Francisco aimed at dialing down the temperature on a host of hot-button issues, especially Taiwan.
The most important and sensitive issue in U.S.-China relations, Xi was quoted in Chinese state media, Washington has no plans to stop selling billions of dollars in weapons to Taipei.
Military cooperation, including U.S. training of Taiwanese troops at the highest level in decades.
The U.S. formally switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We maintain the agreement that there is One China policy and that I'm not going to change that.
RIPLEY: As for the future of this self -governing democracy, Xi says China will realize reunification. This is unstoppable.
SU TZU-YUN, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY RESEARCH, TAIWAN: Beijing's activity become something like Nazi Germany did during World War Two.
RIPLEY: Su Tzu-Yun is director of Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research. He warns China's military buildup, the biggest in a century, may be just beginning. He says it can only be deterred by massive military power.
Does that deterrent force need to include the help of larger militaries, like the U.S., like Japan? TZU-YUN: Sure. Taiwan enjoys a very important location. If Beijing can occupy Taiwan, it becomes a so-called Chinese Hawaii. They can send some their submarines from East Taiwan, and such a submarine can reach the West Coast of the United States to strike the United States.
RIPLEY: Last year, Beijing fired ballistic missiles over Taiwan.
Here in Taiwan, people have lived their entire lives with the reality that China has an arsenal of missiles pointed at this island that could be raining down in a matter of minutes. That's why here in Taipei alone, there's an estimated 90,000 air defense shelters ready for whatever comes.
When the People's Liberation Army surrounded the self-governing democracy, Chinese state media said they were simulating a blockade, practicing a possible precursor for a full-scale invasion, jolting Taiwan into a new, risk-filled reality, putting high-stakes diplomacy to the test.
RIPLEY (on camera): We're also watching very closely some major developments here in Taipei. On Saturday, two opposition parties announced their joint presidential ticket. They're going to be posing an unexpected and very credible challenge to the ruling DPP.
The current vice president is the presidential candidate. He was considered a shoe-in by many analysts until this surprise union between these two opposition parties, which notably tend to have a more pro-Beijing or at least pro-cooperation with Beijing's stance, whereas the DPP has long said that you have to stand up to China with strength. If you give an inch, they say they'll take a mile.
But either way, the result of next year's Taiwanese presidential elections will have huge implications for Taiwan and also the U.S.- China relationship.
Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.
HARRAK: Voters in Argentina go to the polls Sunday to pick their next president. It's a tight runoff election that could change the direction the country is heading.
Stefano Pozzebon has the details.
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: It's just a matter of hours before the polls open in Buenos Aires. And the contest is closely watched around the world because it beats a far right candidate, Javier Milei, who is a disruptor and a populist candidate, against the finance minister and the career politician, Sergio Massa.
Sergio Massa is currently serving as Argentina's finance minister and has pretty much built his career in and out of public office. On the other side, Javier Milei, his challenger, has only entered politics only 36 months ago. And before that, he was working as an economist for the private sector. A win for Milei, who is clearly hailing from the hard, far right, would mean a change of momentum for conservatives worldwide. Milei has associated himself with the likes of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the United States, and decisively move Argentina to the right. For example, Javier Milei is proposing to completely privatize the Argentinean public health sector and also to support private education in a country that has always supported public education.
Another way this election could transform Argentina for good is because Javier Milei is completely dollarize the economy of Argentina by getting rid of the Argentina Central Bank and replacing the Argentinean peso with the U.S. dollars.
Argentina is once again battling record high inflation and struggling to repay international debtors. The plan to switch the currency from the Argentinean peso to the U.S. dollars has triggered a debate among economic think tanks. And, for example, it's not so hard to imagine the Cato Institute in the United States considers dollarization the best way for Argentina to finally provide the reforms that the country so desperately needs.
However, his opponent, Sergio Massa, is not leading in the polls but has already pulled up a surprise victory in the first round of the Argentinean presidential election and is here for a fight. In just a few hours, the polls will open in Argentina and by Monday at this hour, we will know who the next president of the country will be.
HARRAK: Dueling protests in Spain Saturday over a controversial new amnesty law that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez agreed to in order to win a second term in office. At least 170,000 people gathered in Madrid to vent their anger over the new law, which would give amnesty to Catalan separatists who tried unsuccessfully to secede from Spain six years ago.
And in the northern Basque city of Bilbao, thousands of pro- independence protesters marched in support of the deal. Mr. Sanchez won a majority in parliament with the support of pro-Catalan parties in exchange for agreeing to the law. He says it will help to diffuse tensions in the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Still ahead, some family members of Hamas hostages say they feel let down by the Israeli government on October 7th. And fear that they may never return to their homes that the militant group destroyed. We hear from them next.
Plus, families and friends of hostages filled the streets in Tel Aviv pushing for their release. What the Israeli prime minister is saying about reports that a deal has been reached.
Welcome back to our viewers in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN Newsroom. Some family members of hostages whom Hamas took on October 7th say they feel let down by the Israel Defense Forces' slow response to the attack. And survivors say they may never return to the homes that the militant group destroyed, unless the Israeli government can guarantee their protection.
CNN's Nic Robertson reports.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): These are the moments, October 7th, when Nir Oz Kibbutz began its nightmare. By the time the IDF arrived that afternoon, nearly one- fifth of the residents would be kidnapped. Sagui Dekel-Chen was one of the more than 70 taken.
Sagui was here in his workshop renovating buses when Hamas attacked at 6:30 in the morning. Eventually, he was able to make it back to his house, helped barricade his wife and children into the bomb shelter. That was the last they saw of him.
JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF HOSTAGE: He made his wife swear that she wouldn't open the door for anyone.
ROBERTSON: Jonathan, Sagui's father, is caring for his son's family campaigning for his release.
DEKEL-CHEN: He's the kind of son who can complete thoughts for me. A big part of me is absent right now because of Sagui and also honestly because of the other losses on the kibbutz.
Yes, some of them entire families actually that were murdered. Their lives were intertwined with my family's life for the last 40 years.
What's left of the kibbutz community is still intertwined, most everyone together hundreds of miles away. They have each other but their nightmare continues.
How do you think that the community is coping, because you're kind of all together? Does that help?
NIR ADAR, BROTHER OF HOSTAGE: Yes and no, because it's not always lifting you. Sometimes it's dragging you down.
ADAR: Yes, and because people are traumatized and hurt.
ROBERTSON: Nir Adar is hurting. His brother, Tamia (ph) is another one of the hostages taken October 7th.
ADAR: I have some days I feel great and I feel strong and optimist and I have some days I feel the complete opposite.
ROBERTSON: Nir survived the attack hiding in here, in his bomb shelter with his two young daughters. He whispered fairy stories as the hours-long battle raged around them.
ADAR: So much shooting, not only from guns but RPGs and grenades. When I heard them breaking my house, so I told my girls that a tree fell down on the house.
ROBERTSON: It wasn't until he came out of his house here that Nir began to realize his brother may not have been as lucky as him. Just a few meters away, his brother's house was on fire.
His brother's house was gutted. No proof of life from Hamas for him or Jonathan's son.
DEKEL-CHEN: It's excruciating. He is the father of two little girls, married to Avital (ph), who is now eight months pregnant. So, it is a nightmarish situation. We don't know if he's healthy or wounded. We know nothing. It's a fate shared by, as I said, almost all of the 75 hostages still being held.
ROBERTSON: Already feeling let down by the IDF's slow response October 7th, concerns in the community are growing. The government may let Nir Oz and others down again.
ADAR: They talk about to make a deal with the kidnapped people and to bring back the babies and the women and then I'm afraid that the men will stay -- will be left behind.
ADAR: Because I think since that day we can't really trust the government.
ROBERTSON: The lack of trust in the government is also adding to their nightmare.
Even if they do get their loved ones back, could they ever return to Nir Oz?
DEKEL-CHEN: We don't if we'll ever be able to move back to the kibbutz.
ROBERTSON: Are people ready for that?
DEKEL-CHEN: In order to go back, certainly for our younger families, my children and grandchildren would have to have a guarantee from our army, from our government that this could never happen again.
ROBERTSON: Would you go back?
ADAR: It's very hard to answer. If the situation is same as now, never, never no chance.
ROBERTSON: The community is working on other locations that will help them stay together. Their dream life in Nir Oz not a distant memory but still a living nightmare. Nic Robertson, CNN, Elat.
HARRAK: Massive crowds protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday calling for the release of hostages being held by Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is getting ready to meet with families of hostages on Monday.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports from Tel Aviv.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, 42 days after hundreds of Israelis were taken hostage and kept inside the Gaza Strip, the families of those hostages and thousands of their loved ones and friends and supporters gathering here in Tel Aviv to demand the release of those hostages. They are also putting pressure on the Israeli government to reach a deal in order to release those hostages.
We know now that for weeks there have been discussions between the Israeli government and Hamas being negotiated by the Qatari government that could see the release of dozens of those hostages in exchange for a multi-day pause in the fighting. And thousands gathering not only here in Tel Aviv but also in Jerusalem to urge the Israeli government to reach such a deal, we heard chance of now, now, now, demanding that a deal be reached now.
We spoke with the family of one of those hostages, Yarden, and this is her cousin talking about what her message is to the Israeli government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIA ROMAN, COUSIN OF HOSTAGE YARDEN ROMAN: I mean, our message to them, which we have also communicated to them directly, is we think there should be a deal now. And we understand there are things we don't know, there are considerations we can't be told about.
We believe in you. Your dense daughter, Geffen (ph), believes in us. She always tells us that she knows we're working together, mom back. She sees us all working there all the time. And she knows we're all doing it together back. So, kind of in the same way, I have to believe that they're doing everything to get her back.
And our faith, you know, I hope that you can prove our faith was not wrongly given and that you can prove us right and make sure that they start coming back home because the families need it desperately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Now, we don't know whether these marches have brought the pressure on the Israeli government for them to reach a deal for these hostages, but it is at least yielding something. The Israeli prime minister confirming that he will meet with the families of these hostages on Monday, just two days after these rallies took place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. So, at least these families will be able to deliver their message directly to the Israeli prime minister, who, of course, will decide whether or not to reach that kind of a deal with Hamas.
Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Tel Aviv.
HARRAK: And still to come, a SpaceX rocket explodes minutes after launch. We'll tell you why some are calling that a success.
Also ahead, Donald Trump has been campaigning in Iowa this weekend and heading out to President Joe Biden.
Those stories and much more after the break.
HARRAK: SpaceX's massive Starship rocket headed for the skies on Saturday and its second ever test flight, making it farther than its initial flight back in April before exploding minutes after liftoff.
CNN's Cinez Kristin Fisher has more from the launch site in Texas.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Engineers at SpaceX will spend the next several days and weeks poring over all of this data, trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. But this is what SpaceX likes to do. They like to push their rockets and their spacecrafts all the way to the point of failure because that's how they learn.
They've done that with all of their older, successful rockets and spacecrafts, and now they're trying to do it with Starship, the biggest, most powerful rocket to ever fly. And someday, the ultimate goal is for this rocket to allow and carry up to 100 humans to the surface of Mars and ultimately colonize Mars and make humanity multi- planetary. That's the goal.
But, first, SpaceX has to get this thing up into orbit. And the test flight on Saturday was a success in that 33 engines did fire, all of them. The launch pad survived. There was successful stage separation between the booster and the spacecraft on top. And it did make it up far past where it flew on its first failed flight test back in April. It made it all the way up to the edge of space.
But then something happened, and that's why this test flight was also a failure. There were two explosions, both the booster and the spacecraft exploded after separating, and the spacecraft, if all had gone according to plan, was supposed to make almost a complete lap of Planet Earth and then splash down in the Pacific Ocean.
That is what's characterized as a mishap by the FAA. They are now investigating a mishap with SpaceX. It's an investigation that SpaceX will lead, but it's now unclear exactly how long that will take before SpaceX is given the green light to fly again.
But NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who needs the Starship spacecraft in order to land NASA astronauts on the surface of the moon as part of its Artemis program, congratulated SpaceX yesterday and said that Saturday's test flight was a sign of real progress.
On South Padre Island, I'm Kristei Fisher, CNN.
HARRAK: Former U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned in Iowa this weekend and he urged his supporters in the Hawkeye State to get out to vote and made accusations without evidence about current President Joe Biden.
CNN's Alayna Treene is with the Trump campaign in Fort Dodge.
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Donald Trump is back in Iowa this weekend with just eight weeks to go until the Republican caucuses on January 15th. And even though he's polling ahead of his Republican contenders in the state, he warned voters not to get complacent and to ensure that they come out for him in a big way when the Iowa caucuses roll around.
He also used some of the most explicit language yet that we've heard when talking about his need to win this state in order to knock his primary contenders out of the race.
Now, Donald Trump also spent much of the speech on Saturday attacking Joe Biden and specifically his record on foreign policy, as well as his approach to China and potentially undermining U.S. agriculture is something that is very important to Iowa voters.
He also, at one point, Donald Trump, attacked Joe Biden's mental fitness and called him a quote, stupid person and suggested he may be on medication. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our leader is a stupid person. Our leader -- our leader can't get off this stage. You see this, guys? When he's finished with the speech, by the time whatever it is he's taken wears off, and he's looking -- okay, thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TREENE: Now, those remarks are in line with Donald Trump's increasingly vitriolic rhetoric that we've heard from him on the campaign trail of late. Remember, last week in New Hampshire, Donald Trump received a wave of backlash for calling the political left being like vermin and saying he wanted to root them out.
Now, one more just really interesting thing I want to put your attention to is what Donald Trump did after his remarks. He got off the stage and went into the crowd. He signed hats and shook their hands. And that is very rare for the former president. He typically will immediately exit the stage and start getting into his motorcade after he wraps up these speeches. And so a big moment for those in the room, and I think it really underscores the aggressive attitude that Donald Trump and his campaign are taking to Iowa in this final stretch. Alayna Treene, CNN, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
HARRAK: And there's no evidence that Mr. Biden has been on medication that would affect his cognition. CNN is reaching out to the White House for comment.
Now, nearly 300 Georgia congregations are leaving the United Methodist Church. 261 churches in the state chose to leave the denomination over its 2019 decision to ordain gay priests and conduct same sex marriages. Their disaffiliation requests were accepted Saturday.
Four congregations that requested to split were denied, but for those who were successful, the separation will go into effect in November, and churches that leave the conference can no longer use the United Methodist name or the denomination's logo.
Still ahead, New Delhi tops a troublesome list despite the efforts of India's Supreme Court to clear the air. Details after the break.
HARRAK: New Delhi is once again choking in smog and topping the list of the world's most polluted cities in real time this week. The organization, IQAir, which monitors air quality, categorized air in the Indian capital as, quote, very unhealthy.
The mix of car emissions, construction dust and smoke is made worse every year by cold temperatures, which trap toxic particles in the air. So far, efforts like banning construction and limiting heavy vehicles on the roads hasn't mitigated the problem for long.
While recently, India's Supreme Court banned crop residue burning to try to cut down on smog. But many farmers are defying the order and winds are sweeping the contaminants into the cities, which further degrades the air quality there.
And we stay in India where the Cricket World Cup Final is underway, India going head to head with Australia. And you can see fans there, wow, so many of them, pouring into Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabaad, which seats some 132,000 people.
Australia won the toss and elected to field first. We will bring you more updates on the state of play as we get them.
And in Brazil, Taylor Swift delayed her Saturday concert in Rio de Janeiro as scorching heat grips the country. The move comes after a fan died before her Friday show in Rio. Swift says the news left her with a, quote, shattered heart.
The high temperatures have led Brazilian authorities to make new rules for public events. They now say organizers should provide free water and allow attendees to bring water into venues. Organizers will also need to provide enough space to ensure a quick emergency response. The measures will be in place for at least 120 days. And thousands of wildfires are killing animals in nature reserves and indigenous communities in the Bolivian Amazon. Deer, rodents and several species of birds are dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Right now, firefighters and volunteers are working to put out nearly 100,000 fires. Environmental activists gathered in Bolivia's capital Friday to demand that more be done to prevent the fires.
And one of the busiest travel periods of the year is just now kicking off for Americans and the weather is not going to make it any easier.
CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the outlook for Thanksgiving week.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: As millions of people gear up to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, Mother Nature not likely to cooperate for all locations. We have multiple systems that are going to make their way across the U.S. over the next several days, bringing rain and snow, some patchy fog, and some even gusty winds.
It starts with this system across the Western U.S. You can see as we go Sunday morning, the main focus is across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. Then we start to see that system begin to make its way across the mountain west and eventually in towards the central plains by the time we get towards the latter half of the day Sunday.
So, again, morning time, you see the rain and also the snow for the higher elevations and more rain developing here along the central and southern plains. That system is going to continue to progress eastward. As it does, that low pressure system is going to deepen and intensify and a new threat will develop along the Gulf Coast in the form of severe thunderstorms with the potential for some tornadoes, hail and even some damaging winds, especially late in the day Monday and carrying into the evening.
Elsewhere, still looking at rain, however, farther to the north, Kansas City, Chicago, even Indianapolis, looking at the chance for rain. By Tuesday, more of that rain begins to shift off to the east. Now, you're talking some pretty big travel cities, connectures, if you've got connections at airports, say, across New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta or Chicago, you're likely going to experience some delays at some point on Tuesday as this system continues to slide east. And even some of the roadways, 75, 85, 95 corridors all looking at the potential for some wet roads as we go through the day Tuesday. And that will continue into Tuesday evening as we see a lot of that moisture begin to surge into portions of the northeast.
Now, in terms of the severe weather that we're focusing in on Monday, again, you're talking Little Rock down through Shreveport, Houston and over into New Orleans. The main threats here will be damaging winds, but it's not out of the question to see some potentially large hail and even some isolated tornadoes.
In terms of travel disruptions for Sunday, the main focus is going to be on the West Coast as that system begins to progress eastward. You'll start to see more of that develop in the central U.S. Sunday into Monday, and then by late Monday, your focus really becomes the Midwest down across the southeast, essentially stretching from the Canadian border down to the Gulf Coast. And then by Tuesday, you're looking at it starting to spread into the mid-Atlantic and continue into the northeast once we get later on into the evening hours.
HARRAK: And that wraps up this hour of CNN's Newsroom. I'm Laila Harrak.
Kim Brunhuber picks up our coverage after a quick break. Keep it here.