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CNN This Morning

NYT: DeSantis Privately Tells Donors, Donald Trump Can't Win; Clues Suggest Children Survive Plane Crash In Amazon Jungle; Fewer People Rank Economy, Inflation As America's Top Problem. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 19, 2023 - 08:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Now sources tell CNN, DeSantis will file the presidential campaign paperwork next week. His plan to defeat Donald Trump is to run to the right of the former president on abortion, on guns and on transgender rights and this comes as DeSantis' feud with Walt Disney intensifies.

Yesterday the media giant announced that it's scrapping plans to build a billion-dollar office complex in Central Florida, citing changing business conditions. It'll cost the state about 2000 white collar jobs. So, let's go back to our chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

DeSantis says this is because your business is floundering Disney. Disney didn't cite DeSantis but it's clear there's no love lost between them. And then DeSantis really interestingly on this call, saying, basically, it's mere Biden forget Trump.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF FINANCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning. I mean, certainly that is his wish going into this presidential race that he believes he is running a two-man race. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. The reality here is that Governor Ron DeSantis, yes, he's going to run and try and appeal to Republican primary voters on what he calls his Florida blueprint.

That is all of the conservative laws that he has signed this year alone. But he is trying to make the case that he has a stronger electability argument. That may be true in the primary campaign. Of course, that's where he begins. But the general election, should you win the primary that is a long ways off and do any of these conservative laws, on abortion on schools, on a raft of things that do they hurt him in a general election?

So, as he traveled to New Hampshire today, of the Florida Governor, he's meeting with New Hampshire legislators. Of course, so that is the first in the nation primary state, he has to begin making this case that he is strong enough to take on the former president, he talks about it as the culture of losing, he said Republicans must reject what he calls a culture of losing.

That's a direct hit at Donald Trump, of course, from the midterms in 2018, the election in 2020, and the midterms in 2022. But will he actually say these things directly when he begins to confront Donald Trump or say them privately. So that is one of his challenges here.

And of course, there's a new ad the Trump side is putting out going after Ron DeSantis for a previous proposal for a national sales tax. So, this is just beginning of this fight between the two of them, and it could be an epic one.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we've seen this fight play out, Jeff. But you're always on the road out there talking to voters. And we've heard Republican voters tell you that they don't like that for president's attacks on DeSantis because they're both very popular. Trump is running ahead of him. And this but they're still both really popular.

So, what is this delicate dance look like? How does next week and this run becoming official from DeSantis change that?

ZELENY: It's definitely a delicate dance. You're right. These Republicans do not -- Republican voters do not like these candidates tearing one another down, they want to win back the White House. That's why the Florida governor's argument is always about winning, about the long-term view, winning the White House here. But there are plenty of data points to show that the Trump's arguments against him on a sales tax, on his previous support for changing social security, those have worked.

He's in a far weaker position, now, Governor DeSantis is than he was just six months or so ago, when he won the re-election by some 20 points. So, the negative ads are always viewed negatively, but they also work but we should point out as well. It's not a two-men race, Tim Scott, the senator from South Carolina, he's getting into the race on Monday, and there'll be others as well. Chris Christie is nearing a move as well. So, this could be a crowded field.

COLLINS: Yes, maybe Governor Youngkin as well.

HARLOW: Maybe.

ZELENY: We'll see.

COLLINS: Jeff Zeleny, thanks, as always, Jeff.

HARLOW: Thank you, Jeff.

ZELENY: Thanks, guys.

COLLINS: Salman Rushdie, the author making a rare public appearance last night. Of course, he survived brutal stabbing attacks last year when he was on stage at a Literary Festival. Last night, he attended the Pen American Gala in New York to accept a Courage Award.


SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: It's nice to be back as opposed to not being back which was also an option. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Rushdie with some humor there. He said he was accepting this award on behalf of those who came to his aid as that attack unfolded.


RUSHDIE: I don't know their names. I never saw their faces. But -- but that large group of people, I owe -- I owe my life to. Terrorism must not terrorize us. Violence must not deter us. As the old Marxists used to say la luta continue, la luta continua, the struggle goes on.


COLLINS: Of course, the award-winning novelist was stabbed multiple times while on stage, he was put on a ventilator. Talking about just the efforts that those who came to his side, how much they helped him.


In his appearance last night, he also warned against what he said is an attack on books and teaching, saying that the fight that's happening in Florida has never been more dangerous or more important.

HARLOW: Meantime, an urgent search is underway right now in the Amazon jungle after officials in Colombia say that they found clues that suggest to them that four children survived a plane crash. The crash happened about 18 days ago. Three adults including the pilot were killed but rescuers are using helicopters to search the area.

They're also on the ground doing this search. The Colombian President tweeted on Wednesday, that the children who are as young as 11 months old and up to the age of 13 were found alive but then he took that tweet down yesterday, after a government official said they are waiting for proof. Let's go to Stefano Pozzebon. He is live in Colombia for us. And I think the key question this morning is what indications do they have that these children are alive?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, Poppy, that is -- that is the main question. And yesterday late at night, the Colombian army released a statement saying that their search and rescue teams had found the fresher footprints allegedly. One of the footprints as from the oldest of these children who is as, he's only 13 years old. And -- and he said and they think that this means that they are still alive.

Also, the grandmother of the children who is in (inaudible), which is the place where the children that were meant to arrive on May 1 before their plane crashed down. He -- she was speaking with local media, and she said that they have already found the bow, the scissors so other clues that they are still alive. But she knows, she said she asked for what is going on. I know we are indigenous people and this has been aired globally but I'm in pain here as a grandmother, and from the daughter who I lost because yesterday we received confirmation then the mother of these four children died in the crash and her body had been recovered. And it's now with the legal medic team. So, we have a community that is coming together here in Colombia, the indigenous community, Poppy that is coming together and praying for the best for these four children against all odds, against other (inaudible), there is still hope and hope is exactly the name of that the Colombian army is calling this operation is like Operation Hope and it's taking the nation by its breath.

HARLOW: There's a lot of power and hope. I know they're doing everything they can to find those kids. What a miracle it would be if they can. Stefano Pozzebon, thanks for your excellent reporting on the ground.

COLLINS: It's hard to believe but it's been almost a year since that deadly shooting at Rob Elementary School in Uvalde. Texas where 19 children and two teachers were killed. The community though a year in is still searching for answers. Shimon Prokupecz has been covering the story every single day. He joins us live next.



HARLOW: It's been almost a year if you can believe it since the deadly mass shooting at Rob Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. 19 children, two teachers were killed at Rob Elementary, just days before Memorial Day 2022. And families were left with only memories of the loved ones they lost. And so many questions, right? And daily reminders that their lives will never be the same.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: What is your understanding of what went wrong that day?

KIM RUBIO , MOTHER OF LEX RUBIO: My understanding is the first group of officers that come, they are shot at, they retreat, and they never go back in. They let children die in that classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?

RUBIO: And I can't even explain to you what they've taken from me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's in the class.

RUBIO: It's more than just lives. You know, maybe Lexi's gone immediately. But that's what they've taken from me. Those answers, had they engaged immediately and my child is deceased, that I know in my heart that she wasn't scared very long. But because they waited so long. Now I'll never know. I don't know if it was fast. We don't know if it took 30-40 minutes. And that's hard. That's hard to sit with.


HARLOW: Unimaginable pain. And that was just a clip from this week's episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper. So, joining us now is our colleague and friend, CNN Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz. He and his team just won a Peabody Award and many others for their extensive coverage of this story. Shimon, thank you very much.

PROKUPECZ: No, thank you. You know, this is one of the most difficult and probably most just remarkable things that I've ever been part of, putting this hour together that will air on Sunday. The families and just the pain and the continued pain that they're feeling because they're just not getting any answers.

You know, you hear Lexi Rubio's mom there, Kim Rubio talk about, they just want to know if their kids suffered, the fact that they had to be in that classroom for so long, with the gunmen and police not barreling in and taking the gunman out. They just want to know, did my kids suffer all that time? And what we do in this hour is we really go deep into what happened that day, a lot of that we kind of know but more importantly, it's the pain that many of the kids who survived, suffered in those minutes and really more than an hour of waiting for the police to come in and rescue them.

And then we try to give answers to the parents. Something really remarkable happens to us when we're in Uvalde putting this together. One of the parents, a mom calls us and says she wants to see video of the breach when officers went into the room and rescued her kids, they want to see that video. They want to see their kids being rescued by the police and we show them the is a video of their kids running out of the classroom as police break in and you see their kids running through the hallway.


One of them was shot in the leg. Another one was just full of blood from being in that classroom and the reaction from these parents and seeing that, they've been wanting to see this, and no one's been willing to share it with them. And so, they come to us, and they ask us to do this.

COLLINS: I mean, it makes your stomach turn to hear Lexi's mom talking about that, and just wanting to know what her final moments were like, which any parent deserves, I think. And that's like, that's one of the biggest parts of the story thing is that so many of the questions these parents have had have not come from the authorities, they've come from, from journalists, people like you and your team to get them the answers that they deserve.


COLLINS: What are the biggest questions they have still?

PROKUPECZ: Well, if their kids suffered, and also the other question is why has there been no accountability? You know, we're a year later, and their law enforcement officials are still pointing fingers at each other. And for these parents, they have to live in this community. They're still surrounded by many of the officers who failed them that day, by leaders in this community who failed them that day. They're not leaving these communities, they're staying there. And that's what's so difficult. And when you go to Uvalde and you walk around you, it's a small community, there are murals everywhere of the kids' pictures, photos are reminders, constant reminders of what happened that day, and it's just so difficult for these family members.

Lexi Rubio's mother, Kim there, there was a moment where we were having a conversation and she says to me, that basically she's just waiting to reach the finish line. So, she could see her daughter again.

HARLOW: Her life?

PROKUPECZ: And it was so difficult to hear because she does have other children. But this is how much she misses her daughter that, this was her life. And her father, you see they're sitting next to Kim is Felix -- Felix Rubio. He's a sheriff's deputy that day, he's in the hallway, as his daughter's inside that classroom wondering what's going on. He couldn't go in. He got there late.

But by the time he got there, he couldn't go in to try and rescue her. And so, we take a look at his day that day in the hallway, outside the hallway. So, you're going to see a lot of new video in this hour. And it is the most powerful hour that I have certainly ever been part of it, just to see the emotion of these families, and to see what we as CNN, as journalists are able to do to try to help them and it's really something really special and just really difficult.

It's going to -- it's an emotional and just powerful, powerful hour.

COLLINS: It's difficult to cover so --

PROKUPECZ: It has been the most difficult.

COLLINS: I know those parents are so grateful for you though and --

PROKUPECZ: Thank you guys.

COLLINS: It's hard to get an award for this. I imagine but it's really important work and it's going to be a tough hour to watch. You can see Shimon's full report. It's going to air this Sunday on the -- this -- this week's episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper, 8pm. Sunday night. We'll be right back.




HARLOW: A new report from the National Association of Realtors shows us home sales fell in April for the second month in a row. It's not the only place where prices are falling. Our Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten is here. Good Friday morning.


COLLINS: Manhattan is thinking, give any good news for us this morning?

ENTEN: I think I do have some good news. All right, this morning's number is 1.7 percent because existing home sale prices in April dropped 1.7 percent from April of 2022. That's the largest yearly drop since 2012. And it's not the only place where we're seeing prices drop over the last year.

Look at the average national -- nationwide gas price. A year ago, look at that it was 457. It's now down to 354. I remember those egg prices were really, really high. Take a look at the wholesale Midwest egg cost. A large dozen, look at that, it was $546 in December, look where it is now. It's 94 cents. So, we're seeing prices drop in a lot of different places.

COLLINS: OK, but if you're sitting inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now, you're inside the White House. Their frustration is that they see something like this, but it's not showing up in poll numbers. It's not showing up in how Americans view the economy. Has that changed at all?

ENTEN: Yes, I think it has changed, you know, Americans still view the economy negatively. But when you ask them, is the economy the nation's top problem? Look at this, now it's 29 percent. That's a drop from October of 2022 when it was 46 percent and April of 2022, when it was 39 percent. So, a clear drop there. What's replacing it on the list of issues? Well, here we go.

Bad leadership up from 14 percent to 18 percent now from October to April, and guns from 2 percent to 7 percent. So, the economy, less of an issue now in the Americans minds, even if they're not actually quite sure it's in good shape.

COLLINS: Yes. And it seems we always see a spike and where Americans rank guns on their list of concerns when we see shootings happening a spate of them covering, more coverage.

ENTEN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Thank you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Appreciate it. Have a good weekend. Well, the Cannes film festival celebrating Harrison Ford last night with a Lifetime Achievement honor. An emotional Ford thanked the crowd and his wife, Calista Flockhart as he premiered his latest and final Indiana Jones film.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: I'm very touched, I'm very moved by -- by this. They say when you're about to die you, you see your life flash before your eyes, and I just saw my life flash before my eyes, a great part of my life, but not all of my life. I love you too. Thank you.



HARLOW: The new film is the 80-year-old's fifth Indiana Jones movie. The first of course was in 1981. How could we forget the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

COLLINS: Also, this morning Ukrainian president Zelensky just made a surprise trip. He's now in Saudi Arabia but he is making his first trip to Japan. G7 summit where President Biden is right now and other world leaders. What to expect? What is he going to ask for those world leaders? We'll tell you ahead.


COLLINS: 1000s of children are currently in juvenile detention centers and residential treatment facilities across the U.S. This week's CNN Heroes decided to shine a light on those lost voices.


MIKE BALL: They all have different stories. And the point of what we do is let them tell that story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The day will come when we see --


BALL: Sometimes they're silly, but beneath the silliness, they're really revealing. Sometimes it really heartbreakingly real --


BALL: You think about being in a position where nobody's ever really cared what you feel. And instead, now you talk about what you feel and a whole bunch of people go yes, it's life changing. We can plant a seed in that child of self-confidence, self-worth, it's just so powerful.