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CNN International: Storm Churns Toward Jamaica, Landfall Expected in a Few Hours; Jamaican Officials Impose Curfew From 0600 to 1800 Local Time; 120+ Killed in Crowd Crush at a Religious Event in India; Biden Meets Today With Concerned Democratic Governors; Xi, Putin in Kazakhstan for Security and Defense Summit; Never Trumpers Disillusioned by Biden's Debate Showing; Shohei Ohtani Attracting Fans From Across the Pacific. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 08:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR OF "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Max Foster. This is "CNN Newsroom." Just ahead, tracking Hurricane Beryl after leaving destruction in the Windward Islands, the powerful storm is heading for Jamaica. (Inaudible) minister about the preparations they are making. Plus, Biden and the pressure, the U.S. president meets with nervous Democrats since concerns of his campaign takes center stage. And making their final pitch, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and opposition leader Keir Starmer have one last afternoon to win over U.K. voters.

Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Jamaica in the past 40 years and the island nation is bracing for one to make impact in just a few hours time from now, Hurricane Beryl expected to hammer Jamaica with life-threatening winds and the storm surge before heading to the Cayman Islands. The prime minister declaring Jamaica a disaster area for the next seven days and urging people to remain calm, a nationwide curfew is in place.


ANDREW HOLNESS, JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER: All Jamaica should note that following on this declaration, an island-wide curfew will be in effect between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This is to ensure the safety of everyone during the passage of the storm and prevent any movement with the intent to carry out criminal activity.


FOSTER: The unusually intense hurricane for this time of year has already left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, hitting St. Vincent and Grenadines especially hard, the storm killed at least seven people. CNN's Rafael Romo is in Kingston, Jamaica and he joins us now. How are they preparing Rafael?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, good morning. Well, the government has issued the emergency declaration and people over the last 24 hours have flocked to stores, trying to get those basic necessities -- food, water and other things. But let me tell you, Max, people remember the devastation left by a Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, also what happened with Hurricane Ivan, and they fear the same thing may happen again. And we heard previously from the prime minister, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and he is saying that the population in this country, population in Jamaica needs to take this hurricane very, very seriously.

People here have also seen what happened in other islands here in the Caribbean and Barbados, in Grenada, and they are expecting that in the next few hours, things are going to change drastically. Right now, it is the calm before the storm, but this -- what you see behind me is going to change very, very fast. We have felt just winds started to pick up a little bit. We had rain about an hour ago, and you start to see the low-lying clouds that are very typical at the beginning of a hurricane.

Earlier, we heard about -- from the prime minister, who says that people need to take precautions because in the next couple of days, this is expected to get much, much worse than what it is right now. Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


HOLNESS: If you live in a low-lying area and the area is (inaudible) prone to flooding and landslide, or if you live on the banks of a river or a (inaudible), I implore you to evacuate to a shelter or to safer ground.


ROMO: The prime minister also said that all relevant government agencies are on high alert. He also said that his government has deployed government forces to make sure that they can assist people in need after the hurricane passes and also, very important in this type of situation, to maintain public order. As to why this is happening, why such a powerful hurricane is hitting the Caribbean so early in the season, meteorologists say that the ocean waters are very warm and that is creating the perfect conditions to have not only this hurricane, but also a very active season.

Let's remember, Max, the hurricane season barely started on June 1. We are at the very beginning. People here in the Caribbean tell us that they are not used to having to deal with this type of challenge until much later, in the months of August and September. However, now they are getting ready to face a very significant, a very major storm coming their way in the next few hours. Max, back to you.


FOSTER: Rafael Romo, thank you so much for joining us from there. For more on the hurricane's impact, let's bring in Desmond McKenzie. He is the Jamaican Minister of Local Government and Community Development, joins us now from Kingston. Thank you so much for joining us. For those who might be watching in Jamaica, just take us through the precise advice you are giving and when they need to act. DESMOND MCKENZIE, JAMAICAN MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: Well, first of all, I thank you and let me extend the privilege to be here to speak to your viewers across the globe as to the situation here in Kingston, Jamaica. We are now facing early rounds of the hurricane. We have already completed all the preparations in regards to our shelters. We have over some 870 shelters; all the shelters have been activated.

The reports that I've been getting so far that a number of shelters have started to accept persons in these shelters. The government has ensured that all the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the country manage the passage of this really major hurricane, the first one we've been having in almost 40 years. So the country is ready, the people understand they are bought into the message. And I'm hoping for the best as we maneuver the next 48 hours, it is going to be a telling one for the country.

FOSTER: The state of emergency declared for seven days; just explain what you expect to happen over those seven days.

MCKENZIE: Well, what will happen is that we are going to be restricting movements of persons in a way that they will harm themselves. There are certain communities in Jamaica that are prone to flooding that we have to pay special attention to. So what this does is to give our first respondent the opportunity to work despite the challenges and so that people understand the dangers that this hurricane brings. So what we are seeing now is a collective response from government and the country as it relates to preparing and ensuring that we maneuver the next 48 hours the best way possible.

FOSTER: Will you be forcing people from their homes?

MCKENZIE: Well, under the Disaster Risk Act (inaudible) out there, but I believe that we have done exceptionally well in public education, sensitization upon until late last night, our disaster coordinators right across the country and the members of parliament, the local representatives at the municipal levels have been engaging in these communities. We do identify --we do know the communities which are prone to flooding and we have seen significant response from these 48 hours.

FOSTER: Because the concern amongst people who own homes in these situations is often that they want to stay to protect them and that is a difficult argument, isn't it? When you know what is coming and you can also probably understand why they don't to leave their homes.

MCKENZIE: Well, it is typical here in Jamaica, persons feel more secure at home. But we have seen a deterioration in certainty areas based on the conditions of those areas. And as I said before, the people have agreed to understanding and appreciation of the efforts of the government and they are understanding already. As I said before, there are certain communities that persons have started to relocate from those communities to some of the shelters that we have right across the country.

FOSTER: There are also certain communities aren't there who will take advantage of this situation, concerns obviously about looting, which I think prime minister was suggesting there. How do you prevent that without putting your security forces at risk?

MCKENZIE: The security forces are on alert, necessary steps have been taken by both private and government businesses to secure their premises. It is not 100 percent foolproof that you will be able to eliminate some level of that. But, Jamaicans understand and Jamaicans are appreciative of the challenges that hurricane brings. And I am quite sure that the great majority of Jamaicans will (inaudible) and will behave in a manner that is understanding of the crisis that we share.


FOSTER: As a country vulnerable to hurricanes, this is obviously I think the earliest hurricane that you've had. Do you see --

MCKENZIE: Well, Yes, it is.

FOSTER: -- more hurricanes and more risk and what would you put that down to?

MCKENZIE: Well, climate change is contributing significantly to what we are facing today. As a small developing island state, we are subjected to (inaudible) around us is presenting. So, we have to ensure that first of all, we continue to educate our country about the risk of climate change and the devastation that it brings. We are a tropical island and being a tropical island, we are prone to that (inaudible), we are in the top tier of the most dangerous countries when it comes onto disaster because we are sitting in an earthquake fault line. So, we know that challenges that we face. But the overall efforts to ensure that we minimize the effects on countries like Jamaica is what we get from (inaudible).

FOSTER: Desmond McKenzie, really appreciate you sparing the time. I know you're incredibly busy and we wish you the very best over the next 48 hours.

MCKENZIE: And thank you so much for having us here, and we pray and we are asking our fellow Jamaicans and the diaspora right across to remember us in their prayers as we maneuver the next 48 hours. Thanks for having me on your program.

FOSTER: Thank you so much. We'll have much more on Beryl later this hour as well, including a live forecast from the CNN Weather Center. That's coming out right here on "CNN Newsroom."

Anyone who fell did not get up, those were the chilling words of one survivor who made it out of a deadly crowd crush at a religious event in India. More than 120 people were killed on Tuesday, most of them were women. CNN's Ivan Watson has the story, but we warn you some of the images are disturbing.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What was meant to be a time of prayer ending in tragedy in northern India, this the aftermath of the crowd crush at a religious gathering, bodies carried out from ambulances, loved ones distraught and grieving the dead, most of them women and some children, according to authorities. Survivors describe the horrific scene.

SHAKUNTALA, HATHRAS DISTRICT, INDIA (through translator): Everyone began to leave. People fell into a drain beside the road. They started falling on top of each other and were crushed to death. Some were pulled out.

SURESH, HATHRAS DISTRICT, INDIA (through translator): I came to attend the event with eight other people, but no one survived.

WATSON (voice-over): Authorities say organizers planned for around 80,000 people to attend the event, but police say as many as 250,000 may have showed up.

ASHISH KUMAR, HATHRAS DISTRICT MAGISTRATE, INDIA (through translator): There was a sudden commotion due to overcrowding and excessive humidity.

WATSON (voice-over): Initial reports say attendees may have fallen into an open sewer and on top of each other. One state secretary said, the event organizers failed to comply with requirements from the district, and that they would be punished. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the incident on Tuesday.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I express my condolences to those who lost their lives in this accident. I wish for the speedy recovery of all the injured.

WATSON (voice-over): As an investigation gets underway, the death toll is feared to rise and questions about accountability remain unanswered.


FOSTER: Ivan Watson joins us live in Hong Kong. I mean, the accountability is going to be one of the big questions coming out of the investigation, Ivan.

WATSON (on camera): For sure. And the authorities have announced that they are investigating. In fact, they've accused the organizers of this event of culpable homicide, of hiding evidence, for example. The preacher who attracted such a huge number of potentially hundreds of thousands of followers is known as Bhole Baba and he is a self-styled God-man as people like this call themselves in India.

Now, CNN has tried to reach out to him and his organization which have been accused of this by the authorities in Uttar Pradesh and have not heard back from them. We don't know where he is actually, and we believe that the crush happened as people were trying to reach out to him as he was leaving. That is the story from the authorities. But another wrinkle here that really raises eyebrows is hearing a senior police officer say that there were some 40 police officers deployed to deal with an expected crowd of some 80,000 people. So that leads one to wonder, did the police have an adequate presence on the scene there? The authorities say they are paying compensation to the families of the victims, but that comes to the tune of around $2,400 -- the equivalent of $2,400.


It is certainly not enough for the sudden loss of your mother or your sister or your daughter, as we've heard from so many people. And here is the sad fact here, these deadly crush incidents happen all too frequently in India, Max. In January 2022, at least a dozen people died in another crush in the north of the country. You could go back to 2008, about 150 people died in a crush in western India. This is something that keeps recurring and it is not clear that there are clear instructions or regulations to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. Back to you, Max.

FOSTER: Ivan Watson, thank you. The calls for Joe Biden's pull out of the presidential race are growing louder. CNN has spoken to dozens of current and former Democratic officials who say Mr. Biden needs to pull out this week. But so far, I think only Democratic congressman has publicly called for the president to step aside. "The New York Times" reports that people close to the president have noticed increasingly frequent moments of confusion and listlessness in recent months.

Joe Biden will meet later today with Democratic governors who are concerned that is week debate performance here on CNN last week has doomed his campaign. Several of the governors on the call are seen as leading contenders to replace him on the ticket if he pulls out. Let's speak to White House -- go to the White House and speak to Arlette Saenz, who has more. I mean, incredibly awkward situation but it does feel as though momentum is growing behind the scenes.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Max, there do appear to be some cracks emerging in President Biden's support among top Democratic officials as many are still grappling with the fallout of his halting debate performance last week. Now, part of President Biden's work today is trying to reassure some top party leaders, but also potentially hear out some of their concerns. As you noted, President Biden this evening will hold a meeting, some virtually attending, some in-person, with Democratic governors at a time when privately some Democratic governors have expressed concerns about the path forward for Biden in this re-election bid.

The president is also expected to spend the day working the phones to Congressional leaders. We've learned that yesterday, he did speak with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, which was his first phone call with him since that debate. But at the same time, there is at least one Democratic lawmaker who is publicly calling for Biden to step aside in this race. That is Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas, and CNN has privately spoken with Democrats who are urging behind the scenes for the president to do the same, saying that he should do so out of -- for the good of the party and the country.

Now, last night, President Biden really tried to reassure donors about his standing in the race. He spoke at a fundraiser in Virginia and tried to offer some explanation for his performance on that debate stage. He chalked it up to the grueling international travel that he had conducted earlier in the month when he had traveled to both Italy and France, and then noted that he almost fell asleep on the stage. That drew some laughter from the crowd, but it is unclear if that explanation would really ease any Democratic concerns about the debate and the state of the president's candidacy going forward. It is worth noting, now while President Biden did travel to Italy and France in the early part of June, he was back in the United States for roughly 11 days following those trips, including spending almost an entire week at Camp David preparing for that debate.

Now, President Biden is also facing some calls from within his own party to become -- be more transparent when it relates to his health and mental acuity as well. The White House yesterday said that they don't think that the president's doctors are telling him he doesn't need to take a cognitive test and they say that they have been transparent relating to the president's health. But certainly, there are many questions going forward about Biden's position in this race. Yesterday, Vice President Kamala Harris tried to bat down some of the suggestions that she could potentially replace Biden on the Democratic -- at the top of the Democratic ticket. Take a listen to what she had to say.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Joe Biden is our nominee. We beat Trump once and we are going to beat him again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to lead the country if necessary?

HARRIS: I am proud to be Joe Biden's running mate.


SAENZ: It is worth noting President Biden and Vice President Harris will have lunch today here at the White House, as well as include a-- as well as attending a daily intelligence briefing together. So, we will see if we learn any more of their conversations that play out today.

FOSTER: I was interested in these people close to the president who spoke to "The New York Times" which did seem to shed some light on what we are dealing with here because, on the one hand, you hear from people that he can be very focused and you know, like the old Joe Biden, dare I say.

[08:20:00] And this suggests that he still got that, but there are moments when he has lost focus and that is actually what we are looking at here, it is not a complete loss of his faculties as it were.

SAENZ: Yeah, and there is that new reporting, as you mentioned, from "The New York Times," say that there have been instances in recent months where the president has appeared confused or potentially diminished in some of his mental faculties. But publicly, the White House insists that the president is the same way that he is and that he is strong as he is in these private meetings with his leaders. But there are growing questions from some within his own party about whether the president should be more transparent.

One person yesterday, who spoke out was Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that she said that is worth asking questions about whether the president's debate performance was simply an episode or perhaps a larger issue. So, the White House really has pushed back on the need to provide any further cognitive or mental testing of the president, but it does come as many in the party are expressing concerns about the president's standing, not just in the race, but also his standing and ability to serve in a second term.

FOSTER: OK. Arlette Saenz at the White House, appreciate you. Thank you. Still to come, if the opinion polls are right, British voters are poised to evict their Conservative-led government after 14 years I want have a look at what that will mean for Britain's place in the world.


FOSTER: Voters here in the U.K. head to the polls on Thursday for a momentous general election that will likely see the end of the Conservative Party's 14-year rule. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is almost universally expected to lose. He took a major gamble by calling elections in the summer and has struggled to turn around dire polling. A Conservative defeat will usher in a center-left Labour government headed by Keir Starmer. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz explains.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two lackluster candidates in a race with a result that is all but certain. It may sound boring but this is a momentous election that could decimate the U.K.'s most powerful political party.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): In what is widely seen as a referendum on their 14 years of leadership, the Conservatives are bracing for a very damaging defeat. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for this snap election that almost everyone believes he will lose.

SUNAK: Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote. I will earn your trust.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But that trust is battered and bruised, from Boris Johnson's 'partygate' scandal to leadership failings that saw three prime ministers in 2022 alone, to a very messy Brexit, many are fed up with the Tories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I think people are ticked off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a sense of just wanting any kind of change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their decimation, I think, can only be expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the first election that I've ever voted in that I won't be voting Conservative.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Current polls indicate the opposition Labour Party could win by a landslide --


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): -- ushering in a center-left government led by Keir Starmer.

KEIR STARMER, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY, UNITED KINGDOM: If you want change, you have to vote for it.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The makeup of British politics is sure to undergo a seismic shift. But because of Britain's first-past-the-post system, Labour could win but fail to gain a clear mandate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for coming everybody.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): -- if smaller parties or the far right gain an outsized voice. Amid the political uncertainty, the new prime minister will inherit a mess. A cost of living crisis fueled in part by a stagnant economy. The country's beloved National Health Service is understaffed and overstretched, and immigration remains an unresolved hot-button issue. Change is coming, but can Starmer, should he win, tackle the challenges and deliver on promises?

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Nic Robertson was watching that with us. I mean, people haven't -- there has been lots of postal votes and we don't know what they are. Got the actual voting tomorrow face-to-face. We don't know what the result is going to be but it is very unusual to have so much consistent polling pointing to have massive defeat.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it is unusual to have a cabinet minister essentially saying that they are going -- that this is a loss heading their way to the Conservative Party, that it is not usual to have on the eve of the election itself, a former cabinet minister, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary criticize Rishi Sunak. It is not normal for a sitting prime minister to have one of his old internal Conservative rivals take up the stump and try to use some of their charm and charisma. Talking about Boris Johnson here, of course, the two of them have been pretty estranged politically for the past few years. Look, the polls right now are suggesting that the Labour Party will win with a greater victory than Tony Blair's thumping majority, 418 seats back in 1997. I actually remember that night going to the big Labour Party gathering and it was absolute euphoria. So although what we are hearing today from Keir Starmer, the Labour Leader, is very careful. It is a very controlled message. He is traveling to West Midlands in the U.K. He is going to Wales. He is going to Scotland. So he is getting all over the map.

So, controlled message saying a few hundred votes in some constituencies could be all that is needed to give us that seat. He is not taking any votes for granted, whereas the Conservative Party are trying to put out the same message from a very defensive platform, saying Labour is going to bring you greater taxes. They are going to undermine the defense capabilities of the country, a lot of sort of scare tactics. But again, saying there is 130,000 votes in play there, both parties still urging anyone undecided to go out there for them, but I think that control of emotions that we are seeing from Labour at the moment will burst into euphoria overnight.

FOSTER: When you look at a lot -- their manifestos and they have been coasted (ph) out, haven't they? There is not a huge amount of difference between the two main parties, but what sort of international leader do you think Keir Starmer might be?

ROBERTSON: Cautious, pragmatic, he has promised to put the party on a footing to take a lead in global -- on combating global climate change. That's an issue for the party. His expected minister of energy and taking on the climate portfolio, David Miliband is expected to play a lead role in that for the U.K., but he is expected to continue to give strong support to Ukraine, to continue to be a strong member of NATO, to continue to want to have a strong alliance with the United States irrespective of who becomes president there, that may be easier or harder. However, I don't think we are going to see a great change, although the Conservative Party will tell you that Labour is going to be week on defense. That's not what Starmer has set out so far.

FOSTER: No, there's been a few inconsistencies about that, hasn't there? Nic, thank you. Do be sure to watch CNN's special coverage of U.K. elections. July the 4th starts just before 10:00 p.m. London time.


On Friday the 5th, we will have full coverage of all the morning's results as well. That'd be me and Nic. He'll be in Downing Street; I'll be outside Westminster speaking to all of the ministers as they come and go.

Still ahead, Jamaica bracing for a record-breaking hurricane as Beryl is just hours away from making landfall on the island. We are tracking the storm after the break, stay with us.


FOSTER: Our top story, Hurricane Beryl quickly roaring through the Caribbean. The monstrous Category 4 storm is packing winds of 233 kilometers an hour, or 145 miles per hour and already has carved a path of destruction through Barbados and Grenada. Right now, Jamaica is bracing for a direct hits as Beryl gets closer to making landfall in the coming hours. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Havana, Cuba, with a look at conditions there. Patrick, you've seen a lot of hurricanes going through your region. How does this one compare?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so early on, it really is unprecedented to have such a powerful storm at this point in the season. It is a storm you would see usually in the height of hurricane season, August, September, when the ocean level -- when the ocean waters are much, much warmer. But of course, due to man-made climate change, already the oceans of the Caribbean are warming off where they can help fuel these monster storm. So that is the change; that is the difference we are seeing and living.

(Inaudible) Jamaicans will start to experience in the coming hours as the bands, the outer bands of Beryl come in to that island and throughout the day, the conditions will get worse and worse, and people really only have a few more hours to prepare to get ready. The government has called on them to get supplies together, to make all necessary preparations, and then to begin to hunker down. And of course, Jamaica has larger population compared to the Windward Islands that have already been devastated by the storm.

It has mountains which can lead to mudslides and flash flooding and that kind of thing. It is a lot more tourism infrastructure that can be damaged by a powerful storm like this. So, those are concerns and we have heard some Jamaican saying they take this -- this kind of thing in stride, but they really haven't seen a storm this powerful, a large hurricane like this hit their island in more than three decades. So, of course, memories fade and people, if you haven't lived it, you really don't know the power of these storms.


From Jamaica, the storm is going to continue to do more damage, expected to head towards Mexico, potentially hitting the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and causing damage, not as strong as when it hits Jamaica today, but you don't need necessarily a major hurricane to do major, major damage. And of course, the concern is since the season is just beginning that for the people in the Windward Islands, Grenada and Barbados, there could be more storms, likely are going to be more storms, and that will hit them as they're just beginning to recover, Max.

FOSTER: OK. Patrick, thank you. Hurricane Beryl could be the strongest hurricane to ever hit Jamaica. Meteorologist Elisa Raffa is tracking the powerful storm in the Weather Center and people are talking about this being a direct hit, Elisa.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is possible that eye will get very close to the island today. We'll have to watch that closely. It is still maintaining Category 4 strength with 145 miles per hour wind, sitting about 125 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica right now. They have had passes of major hurricanes in the last couple of years, but because the island is small, it is hard to get that direct hit when that eye comes on land.

The last and only time that happened was Gilbert in 1988, that was the last major hurricane. So, it has been more than 40 years since they've had anything like this. You could see where that eye again gets very close, if it makes landfall, it would be on this southern half of the island. We are looking at storm surge up to nine feet, that's two to three meters, heavy rain as well, hurricane-force wind starting up as we go through midday, all in Jamaica. And the Cayman Islands are next going into tomorrow. And then as we head towards the end of the week, Mexico could see some of these impacts.

Now, when we are talking about rain, this is a mountainous island. So you have all this tropical moisture kind of heating, right, as the land kind of comes up. When you force moisture up a mountain, that enhances the rainfall totals. So we could be looking at up to a foot of rain, that's 300 millimeters, and that could cause flash flooding and mudslides in Jamaica.

Now, going forward, we do have to watch the intensity very closely. There's some wind shear nearby. It is that wind energy upstairs in the atmosphere that could often kill hurricanes, hurricanes hate it. So we could find this intensity starting to waver as we go through the next day or so, we'll have to watch that closely. But ocean temperatures are record warm, so that could fuel it too. Max?

FOSTER: Elisa, appreciate it. Thank you. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in Kazakhstan in a high- profile show of deepening cooperation. CNN's Marc Stewart has more.

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in China, Xi Jinping's travel to Kazakhstan has been well-received. This is the front page of China Daily, state media here in China. It is in English. Clearly, you can see a picture of Xi Jinping upon his arrival in Kazakhstan. It is an image that many people in Beijing saw when they woke up this morning. We also have video in addition where he was met by children and by music. These two nations enjoy a strong relationship.

This is all happening as part of a broader medium, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a club of sorts spearheaded by China and Russia as the leaders try to establish themselves as an alternative to the West. The SCO has roots as a security bloc among many Eurasian nations to combat terrorism and promote border security but it is also emerging as a geopolitical force that comes into play as Belarus is expected to be admitted. Belarus, which helped Russia to launch its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, will become the latest authoritarian state to join the club after Iran became a full member last year.

We will not see Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is not attending, apparently uneasy about the direction of the SCO. As we've reported, it is pointing to some unease among members about the direction of where the SCO is headed. Nonetheless, the idea of an alternative worldview is something that's been at the forefront of this relationship between President Xi and Putin. It is among themes that we saw during their meeting here in China last May.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.

FOSTER: Still to come, in the wake of Joe Biden's difficult debate last week, Democrats asking how the president's re-election campaign can move forwards. Stay with us.



FOSTER: Returning to the race for the White House, Joe Biden isn't just battling Donald Trump anymore. He is now facing increasing questions from members of his own party. CNN has spoken to dozens of current and former Democratic officials who say Mr. Biden needs to pull out of the presidential race in the wake of his poor performance in last week's debate. And for the first time, an elected Democratic member of Congress is publicly calling for President Biden to step aside.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT, (D-TX): I salute President Biden. I just feel that it is time for him to step aside if we were to be able to protect what he allowed us to gain in 2020, which was a victory for Democracy. But he could -- he delivered us from Trump then, he could be delivering us to Trump this year if we have more of what happened last Thursday.


FOSTER: Let's bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny for more on the state of the Democratic Party right now. You are speaking to people within the party all the time, aren't you, Jeff? I just wondered, have you noticed a difference? There's an immediate reaction, wasn't there, to the debate? Has it grown since that sense within the party that he needs to step down sooner rather than later?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Max, there is no doubt that it has grown. And Tuesday, I think will be remembered as the beginning of a potential turning point. You heard the Congressmen right there saying that yes, Joe Biden delivered us from Trump, but he worries that he could send the country back into a second Trump presidency. That really boils down the conversation we are hearing from so many Democratic members of Congress, officials privately.

But this Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who served in the U.S. Congress for nearly 30 years, he has no time for speaking privately or quietly. He spoke respectfully, but said that it is time for President Biden to go. The question here, does President Biden see it the same way? I'm told that he takes this very seriously. He does not believe that this is just one of those moments where Democrats are bed-wetting as they say here, being unnecessarily worried.

The question is, is he a drag on the Democratic ticket overall? And President Biden still has a decision to make. He is having those Democratic governors into the White House today and largely, most Democrats are trying to give him space. They're trying to build him up and say, you know, the agenda that you started will not continue sort of if you stay on. So patience is wearing a bit thin, but it is remarkable how respectful and patient they have been. I suspect if there's not some movement, that patience so wears out fairly shortly, Max.

FOSTER: He would have to be replaced. Obviously, if he goes and the convention is in August, there is a chance that could descend into chaos, couldn't it, if lots of candidates come forward? How likely do you think it is they could agree on someone?

ZELENY: There is no doubt that it would be a risky move to replace someone at the top of the ticket at this late hour. The question is, is it riskier than leaving President Biden at the top of the ticket? For all the talk of all the options for Democrats, perhaps they're forgetting one thing, the woman whose name is on the door of the campaign office, that's Vice President Kamala Harris. This is the Biden-Harris campaign. She owns this campaign infrastructure. She would have -- she owns the war chest the campaign has been raising.


ZELENY: She's been raising millions and millions of dollars in her own right. So, Vice President Kamala Harris is the person waiting in the wings. The question is, would that go easily or more complicated? There is a sense that people are circling around the idea of that she could be a stronger nominee against Donald Trump. Our poll indicated yesterday, she actually polls stronger against Trump than Joe Biden does, among independent voters, among women voters. So for all the talk about who would run, she is at the top of the conversation.

The bigger question is, who she could pick, if this would happen, as her running mate? And that of course would very much be an open, open contest. There's a big Democratic bench, a lot of ambitious politicians out there, Max.

FOSTER: As always. CNN National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

ZELENY: You bet.

FOSTER: Democrats in the U.S. aren't the only ones criticizing the candidate's performance at the CNN presidential debate, anti-Trump conservatives are also feeling disillusioned with President Joe Biden's showing. CNN's Elle Reeve reports.


ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This happy bar party is full of people who usually feel pretty bleak.

PAUL IVANCIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN: This country needs to wake up. There is a dangerous thing happening, it is called complacency.

REEVE (voice-over): They are fans of Bulwark, a Never Trump media organization. Many are ex-Republicans who reject Donald Trump, a group that can feel so tiny that some got on airplanes to meet one another. The event was festive and just a few days before the presidential debate.

BECKY HOFER, BULWARK FAN: It is hard for me to wake up every morning and talk to my neighbors, and know that they're supporting somebody that doesn't match any of their values.

REEVE (voice-over): Becky is a former Republican who flew in from South Dakota with her sister-in-law.

We are in a very red state and I'm a very not-red person and it is tough to find a community there. We are married to Republican men.

REEVE: Is your husband pro-Trump?

HOFER: I think he is going to vote for Trump. I hope he doesn't vote for Trump, but it is an interesting house to live in.


REEVE (voice-over): We wanted to talk to these people because they represent an important part of President Biden's coalition. But after his struggle in the debate, we had to go back to them to see what had changed. Hofer was shocked and angry.

HOFER: It was terrible. I am completely disillusioned. I -- at this -- they're both a joke. It felt like elder abuse. So yeah, I think he needs to be replaced, if for anything, just out of respect for his humanity.

REEVE (voice-over): Robin Hawkland had flown from Salt Lake City to be among Never Trumpers before the debate.

ROBIN HAWKLAND, ATTENDED BULWARK PODCAST TAPING IN DENVER: I fled the district in North Georgia with Marjorie Taylor Greene. She was pretty abusive to people wearing masks during COVID and I was a little traumatized by that.

REEVE: And how would you describe the politics?

HAWKLAND: My politics were center-left. My husband was always Republican, and we got along fine for years and then it seems everything is kind of broken, and we both now are registered Democrats in Utah, which is rare.

REEVE: Are you worried about what might happen after the election?

HAWKLAND: Yes, very worried, very worried. I have three daughters, they all live in red states and they're in reproductive age, which is in their 20s, and I really worry about there are options.

REEVE (voice-over): When we spoke to Hawkland afterward, she said she'd barely been able to sit through the debate.

HAWKLAND: Initial reaction was shock and then just sadness, and then I think I moved into anger.

REEVE: Do you think Joe Biden should be replaced? HAWKLAND: It hurts me to say that, but yes. I don't think he is electable. I don't know how you dig out of this hole. He could do more events where he looks better. He slipped better since then and they can time it right, but everyone knows deep in there -- deep in -- deep in their existence, what they saw may happen again.

REEVE (voice-over): The pre-debate party in Denver was for a live podcast taping from the Bulwark, which was created by former Republican operatives. At the after-party, people told us that this was one of the few places where they could meet in real life, people who didn't make them feel crazy.

DAN MAGILL, NEVER TRUMP REPUBLICAN: I am a relatively conservative Republican. It is almost rather than being Republican, Democrat has become more autocracy versus democracy. Even though I when probably economically agree with more of the policies that a Trump administration would put in place versus a Biden administration, I can't support someone like Trump.

HAWKLAND: You'd feel safe here and you feel like you can speak your mind and people may disagree, but you can talk about it in a rational way.

REEVE (voice-over): But after the debate, Hawkland felt more despair.

HAWKLAND: You feel like you're being condescended to, to be talked to from the Democratic Party, kind of like just get behind the candidate was very frustrating and angering.


This is not about to the Democrat or the Republican Party. They've both put up candidates that are not electable for very different reasons. Trump is a criminal and many other issues. Biden is just aging and there is no reason that people should not be concerned with what they see.

HOFER: He has done a great job. He did a great job the last four years. Right now, if these are the two options that we have in November, I'll vote for Joe Biden's head in a jar before I vote for Donald Trump. I am angry and I mean, I am angry to the point where if Joe Biden stays on the ticket and Donald Trump is still on the ticket, I am fast-tracking moving to Costa Rica. I had it as a five-year plan moving to Costa Rica, and I am going to try and fast track it. I do not want to be here before the Republicans -- Trump's little troll start reducing more -- are taking away more women's rights.

REEVE (voice-over): Elle Reeve, CNN, Denver.


FOSTER: Still to come, fans of Shohei Ohtani are hitting tourism numbers out of the park. Up next, how much the baseball player's popularity is bringing to the Los Angeles economy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: Well, Southern California is seeing an influx of Japanese tourists, not just because of the weather and maybe stars (ph), but because of this one man, Shohei Ohtani, the baseball phenom's (ph) gig with the Los Angeles Dodgers is not only paying off for the team, but for local businesses as well, as Natasha Chen explains.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baseball is America's pastime. But here in one of the country's oldest baseball stadiums, you'll see a celebration of Japanese heritage and hear Japanese language tours four days a week, all because of six-foot-four --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a superhero.

CHEN (voice-over): -- star hitter and pitcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are proud of him.

CHEN (voice-over): New Dodger, Shohei Ohtani.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a good baseball player and so cute.

CHEN (voice-over): After a record-breaking contract with the Dodgers, Ohtani is drawing fans from across the Pacific Ocean in waves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were expecting a spike, but truly nothing like this.

CHEN (voice-over): The team has a dozen new Japanese sponsors this year and added six new Japanese-speaking tour guides. Dodger Stadium food now goes beyond the Dodger Dog to the Kurobuta pork sausage dog, sushi, chicken katsu, and takoyaki, which are round fritters filled with octopus. You can get the original or --

CHEN: It's got a kick. Salsa and cheese, and guacamole and cheese.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American taste (ph).

CHEN (voice-over): The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board says 80 percent to 90 percent of visitors from Japan come to Dodger Stadium at least once during their trip to LA. And many of them end up here in LA's little Tokyo to find the mural they've heard about all the way from Japan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The painting is moving he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They scan the QR code at the base of the mural, point your camera phone and they can see Shohei actually swing and see him pitch, and you hear (inaudible) slowly say (inaudible) Dodger baseball.

CHEN (voice-over): Artist Robert Vargas says he painted this mural to bring everyone together in the city's crossroads of Asian and Latin American communities.

ROBERT VARGAS, ARTIST: Shohei has been hard hit for -- during COVID and I really felt like as a longtime resident of Downtown LA, I wanted to be able to contribute to the AAPI community.


CHEN (voice-over): Little Tokyo businesses say they have doubled the customers they normally get this time of year. And with the weak Japanese yen, it is a costly trip for travelers from Japan spending U.S. dollars, but they'll find a few local deals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After he hit a homerun, next day, it will be 50 percent off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Shohei hits a home run, we automatically pass out Shohei's shot.

CHEN: You hope this goes on for ten years. Yeah.

CHEN (voice-over): The Miyako Hotel's general manager says rooms are fully booked during home games.


CHEN (voice-over): Takayo Hezume (ph) says her son also play baseball and she feels as if Ohtani is Japan's son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And wait till he starts pitching for us. I'm just like, my God.

CHEN (voice-over): Whether fans are from his home country, second- generation Japanese American, or have no connection to Japan at all, it is a unifying moment.


CHEN (voice-over): A moment as American as a hot dog on the 4th July and a Takoyaki covered in guac.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is good for everyone. This is good for all of baseball.

CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining me here on "CNN Newsroom." I'm Max Foster. "Connect The World" with Becky is up next.