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Rescue Underway for American Trapped in Cave; China Buying up U.S. Land; Asa Hutchinson is Interviewed about his Presidential Run; Biden Arrives in India. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 06:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Future hangs in the balance, but so does the Senate Democratic majority, which is very narrow at the moment. They could certainly lose the majority in next year's midterms - next year's elections. So the question is, you have -- if Biden increases in his standing, can that bring -- save the Senate as well? That's one of the things that these members are pondering in the aftermath of these bad poll numbers.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Chief - chief congressional correspondent, and, by the way, newly minted anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS" Sunday, the one and only Manu Raju.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I know. We're so excited for you.

RAJU: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: The Hill rats are -- we're doing OK. Manu, we're doing OK.

RAJU: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy. Appreciate it.

RAJU: Thanks, guys.

MATTINGLY: Well, China is increasingly buying up more and more of America's farmland. Hear reaction from lawmakers and American farmers.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nothing about this suggests that it's foreign owned. In fact, you can even see -- look right there -- it's an American flag that's flying.



MATTINGLY: Well, happening right now, currently underway, a desperate rescue operation for an American researcher who fell ill and experienced gastrointestinal bleeding while exploring a deep cave in Turkey. Mark Dickey is nearly 3,000 feet down, deeper than two Empire State Buildings stacked on top of one another. More than 150 workers from several countries are assisting in the rescue.

CNN's Nada Bashir is covering this story for us. And, Nada, first, what's the latest? How long do they think this could take?


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Phil, we're talking about Turkey's third deepest cave. What we've heard from the local authorities there, they say this would typically take an experienced caver around 15 full hours to make it to the surface under ideal circumstances. But, of course, that is not the case for Mark Dickey. He is in a delicate situation when it comes to his health. And it is anticipated that this rescue effort could take days.

Now, he is currently at base camp some 3,000 feet below the ground. It's here that he has received that urgent medical attention for the gastrointestinal bleeding that he has suffered earlier in the week. But he is said to be in a good condition at this stage. A stable condition. And we have heard from had him now in a video released from base camp.

Take a listen.


MARK DICKEY, AMERICAN EXPLORER TRAPPED IN CAVE: I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance. As you can see, I'm up, I'm alert, I'm talking, but I'm not healed on the inside yet. So, I'm going to need a little -- a lot of help to get out of here.


BASHIR: Now, Phil, that rescue effort is still ongoing, of course. He will need help to get out of that position. We're talking about very narrow, winding passages. And according to the local authorities there, he will need assistance because of the situation around his stomach.

MATTINGLY: All right, Nada Bashir, thank you.

HARLOW: Well, China is increasingly buying up more and more American farmland. This is raising concerns about what the communist party plans to do right here on American soil.

Our senior national correspondent David Culver joins us now.

So, not only did you do this reporting, it comes with the background that you lived and reported in China for three years -


HARLOW: Where it's not typical for U.S. companies to own farmland. CULVER: Or any of us who live there really. Anybody who's a foreigner

trying to buy in China, next to impossible. I mean there are heavy restrictions there.

And you talk to U.S. lawmakers here, Poppy, and they're saying, look, we don't want it to be a tit for tat.

HARLOW: Right.

CULVER: You know, we don't want to equal what the communist party is doing there in China. But they're saying, at the same time, there is something strategic that China has hit on with keeping foreigners from buying too much, if any, of their land. And it was really interesting, as we started to see how that applies to what we're experiencing here in the U.S. and what we found firsthand.


CULVER (voice over): Just a couple of hours into our drive from Seattle, we start to see the markings of American pride. Stars and stripes lining the highways of rural Washington state. This is part of the agricultural backbone that keeps us fed. But as we look closer here, we find what might be for America is, in cases, not American.

REP. DAN NEWHOUSE (R-WA): This is something we've kind of woken up to and though, we should do something.

CULVER: Dan Newhouse splits his time between Sunnyside, Washington, working as a hops farmer, and the other Washington, where he serves on Congress' recently created select committee on the CCP.

CULVER (on camera): I think a lot of folks, Congressman, would look at where we are and say, how does that relate to the committee that focuses on the Chinese Communist Party.

NEWHOUSE: I think there's a huge connection. We've seen a tremendous increase in the number of acres, for instance, being purchased by Chinese businesses. The increase in the investments has grown by a factor of 10 over the last decade.

CULVER (voice over): A sharp rise he worries will continue.

NEWHOUSE: But the one thing that people need to understand is, China's not an ally. They're an adversary.

CULVER: Lawmakers on both sides fear that with control of U.S. farmland, China could manipulate U.S. food supply, surveil sensitive military sites, or even steal valuable intellectual property.

China's foreign ministry says the U.S. is playing off of unwarranted national security fears to discriminate.

We drive about an hour from Sunnyside to see how close the business ties to China are.

CULVER (on camera): You're about to see the sign. It's called Syngenta. This is a seed and pesticides manufacturer. It's one of the largest in the world.

And let me show you something else, as you look from the outside here. Nothing about this suggests that it's foreign owned. In fact, you can even see, look right there, it's an American flag that's flying.

CULVER (voice over): Syngenta is headquartered in Switzerland, but owned by Chem China, which is 100 percent Chinese-state controlled and designated last year by the Defense Department as a military company. Its CEO, a former government official and member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Syngenta's operating here legally. And neither it nor its parent company have been accused of wrongdoing. In a statement to CNN they stress that, "Syngenta has approximately 4,400 U.S. employees in 43 states and all its activities are conducted on fields and farms in the U.S. to benefit American farmers."

Newhouse is sponsoring a House bill that would heavily vet and restrict future investment from Chinese entities. A similar effort passed the Senate in July. And more than two dozen states have either passed or proposed their own restrictions on foreign ownership of land.


KEVIN KNIGHT, OWNER, KNIGHT ORCHARDS: They were all family owned. Now there's no families left.

CULVER: The restrictions on certain foreign investment could mean fewer options for family farms facing increased financial pressures and needing to sell.

CULVER (on camera): Would you be hesitant in selling to any sort of foreign group that's coming in? Even if it was, say, a Chinese-owned company?

KNIGHT: I wouldn't like it, but money is money. And if they're the only check that you got, what are you going to do?

CULVER: The legislation could also have wider consequences.

CULVER (on camera): One of the biggest counterarguments is, oh, that's going to lead to xenophobia, right? That's going to create a prejudice. To that you say?

NEWHOUSE: I think we can make that distinction between the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party. And we're not looking at trying to create an anti-Chinese sentiment in our country, we're just trying to be smart about how we respond to the communist Chinese.


HARLOW: It's such a lens into what they're dealing with. Can you give us a sense of how much American farmland is actually owned by Chinese companies? CULVER: It's important context. So, when you look at all the foreign- owned land in the U.S., really we're talking about less than 1 percent that's owned by the Chinese people or Chinese businesses. And there's no data to suggest what percentage of that is linked directly to the CCP. But it's not that so much that lawmakers are focused on, it's the trajectory of ownership that we've seen that's increased.

HARLOW: Yes. Right. Where does this go from here.

CULVER: Right.

HARLOW: Which is so interesting because this seems to be one of the things that may unite Republicans and Democrats in Washington going into 2024.

CULVER: Yes. Yes. It's true. You speak with members of the select committee on the CCP, and many of them will tell you it's actually refreshing to be on this committee. And I ask why. And they say, because we're all in agreement.


CULVER: I mean it seems, Poppy, that, you know, common ground is found here in a common adversary.

HARLOW: Look at that.

David, thank you for the great reporting. Appreciate it.


MATTINGLY: Well, a federal appeals court says Texas can keep its floating border barriers that have been injuring migrants as they try to cross into the U.S. Presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson is the former head of the DEA, worked for the Department of Homeland Security, governor as well. We'll talk to him about that and the state of the 2024 race, that's coming up next.



MATTINGLY: Well, Donald Trump's commanding lead in the 2024 Republican race appears to strengthen by the day at this point, but the second GOP debate later this month in California will provide the rest of the field another crack at peeling off some of Trump's support. That is if they manage to qualify for the stage.

Joining us now, one of those Republican hopefuls, former governor of Arkansas, and presidential candidate, Asa Hutchinson.

Governor, appreciate your time.

We'll start with I think the question you get at every interview, where do you stand in terms of getting on to that stage as of this morning? ASA HUTCHINSON (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just need one more

national poll at 3 percent. We've already had that. We are meeting our donor requirement. And so we're very optimistic that we'll be on the debate stage in Simi Valley. That -- we made the first debate, and we expect to make the second debate as well.

MATTINGLY: No, I was struck that there was a piece from "The National Review" that said -- essentially they urged you to drop out of the race because your position, they feel -- felt like aligned with where Chris Christie was and they felt Chris Christie was more effective at being kind of the vocal Trump critic in the race.

What's your response to that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, as you know, I have been a critic of Donald Trump ever since January 6th happened. I was -- spoke out early on this. I was the first presidential candidate to speak out clearly on it. I do it in my way. And I think that's important.

And, of course, I'm campaigning in Iowa. I'm campaigning in New Hampshire. And the distinctions are clear. In fact, in the last debate, I was the only candidate that clearly said, I am not going to be supporting someone, even Donald Trump, if he's a convicted felon. That would be a violation of RNC rules, in my judgment.

And so the clarity is there. I've had many voices that say, we need you on the next debate stage because you're experience addressing border security issues, you're experienced in addressing the fentanyl crisis is needed in our country.


HUTCHINSON: As well as the foreign policy experience.

MATTINGLY: I want to get to the boarder in a minute. But kind of to that point, because it was striking in the most recent batch of CNN polls, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, when asked about whether or not the criminal charges disqualify the former president from the presidency, on the hush money charges, only 9 percent said yes, classified documents, only 13 percent said yes, 2020 election interference charges, only 15 percent said yes, charges related to January 6th, 17 percent said yes.

I'm very cognizant of your position and the consistency in that position. That is a position that seems polar opposite to where primary voters are.

HUTCHINSON: Well, you're right, I mean the polling information confirms that they believe that Donald Trump has been unfairly prosecuted. And I would certainly agree in some circumstances that there's been an overreach by the New York district attorney. The Georgia case, to me, should have been lapped in or been part of Jack Smith's investigation. And so this is a process that's got the voters confused. They see unfairness in it. So, that's understandable.

But you take away all of the cases, you have underlying conduct, you also have, can you win with Donald Trump? And that's the case that I make. And so the voters want to win, and they see the path to winning as someone other than Donald Trump. And the American public does not want a Donald Trump and a Joe Biden race. I think that's clear from your polls.

And so, this is early. There's a lot of time to transpire before the Iowa caucuses. We're going to continue to make the case, to speak the truth, and we'll see where that leads.

MATTINGLY: Former Vice President Mike Pence had a noteworthy speech this week where he was talking about the risk, as he saw it, in the populism versus what conservatism used to be.


He said still is and it's kind of an inflection point in that battle. And it reminded me, there was a headline in a piece about you a couple of months ago where it said, Asa Hutchison, the ideal candidate for a GOP that no longer exists.

Where do you think the battle is inside the party, because right now it really seems like Trumpism and his strain of populism has very clearly won?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think it's a -- this is a fight for the soul of the Republican Party. And it's not that you go back to what the Republican Party used to be because a party always adjusts to the needs of our country today. And you respond to the working person who is struggling to make a living, and those policies should be based upon it, but it's on our principles of a limited government, of opportunity for everyone.

And so when you're speaking those truths, that is the Republican Party that I know of. It's not a Trump party. It's not a party that is Trump 2.0. And that's what so many of the candidates want to see in our future. I want to see a Republican Party that is the party of Lincoln, that is the party of Reagan, that represents a strong America. And so that's a battle that we're having within the primary. My voice is clear on that.


HUTCHINSON: And if you agree with that, go to

MATTINGLY: Right. You know, one of the candidates I think that kind of embodies the Trump 2.0 philosophy of thing is Vivek Ramaswamy. He's kind of had a burst in the last couple of weeks. In responding to Pence, but I think this kind of aligns in your case too, he said, quote, "it's not 1980 anymore. It's painful to watch old-school Republicans recite slogans they memorized in a bygone era."

What's your response to that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think that Vivek Ramaswamy is very young. I think he does not appreciate the contribution that people have made in the past, like Ronald Reagan and other leaders of our party. But you also look at Nikki Haley. And Nikki Haley says she doesn't want the party to go back to the pre-Trump era.

You know, I -- this is a battle for the soul of our party. We're not going back. We're going to go forward.


HUTCHINSON: But if you think limited government is a cliche, you need to be running as someone besides a Republican.

MATTINGLY: On the border, with the time we have left, you know, you had a tweet responding to something New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, you know, very, very candid comment about the migrant crisis, the potential for destroying New York City. This was essentially his words. And you referenced that Adams should blame the Biden administration, not be blaming people like Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Do you agree with everything Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has put into place in terms of enforcement and strategy on the border?

HUTCHINSON: I think he's done an incredible job of drawing -- putting resources there, marshaling the other governors, including myself, that - while I - while I was governor, we sent National Guard resources there.

In reference to the water barriers, this is something the federal government should have already done. It's a good idea. It's effective. And the first thing I would do as president would bring the governors together, Democrat and Republican, along the border and say, let's work together to get the job done of securing our border. And this administration is fighting in opposition to governors that are trying to help. This makes no sense to me. And, clearly, Eric Adams, mayor of New York, has made the point, you're destroying our cities. And so it's not just the border communities, but it is our cities across America. We have to bring this under control. And it takes a cooperative effort between cities, the states, and the federal government to get the job done.


All right, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Republican candidate, appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Really interesting - really interesting conversation.

All right, soon President Biden will arrive in India. He's going for the G-20 Summit. We're going to take you live to New Delhi, talk about what's on the agenda.

MATTINGLY: And why the United Autoworkers Union calls the latest offer from General Motors, quote, "insulting," as their strike deadline nears.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The union makes the difference because companies would just walk over us.

CROWD: We are the union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mighty, mighty union.

CROWD: The mighty, mighty union.




HARLOW: Right now President Biden on his way to India for the G-20 Summit, where he will be meeting with world leaders. It will be his first stop on a four day trip to Asia to tout his message of a strong U.S. economy. He'll also hold these bilateral meetings with the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now live from New Delhi.

Good morning to you.

He'll get there very soon. Also very interesting that Xi Jinping will not be there.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about it, two key leaders absent from this G-20 meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And while President Biden himself said that he was disappointed that Xi Jinping would not be attending this summit, at the same time U.S. officials privately acknowledged that this really does provide an opening for President Biden to make the case that he was already planning to make at this G-20, and that is one aimed squarely at many of the developing countries that are part of this G-20, as well as those that are not officially members. And that is that President Biden is coming to this summit with several proposals in hand to enhance and reform multilateral development banks, like the World Bank, to increase funding for those banks, providing really a contrast and an alternative perhaps to many of the efforts that China has made through its one belt, one road initiative to help developing countries. The pitch from President Biden will be that those developing countries should count on the United States as the more reliable, more serious partner to get to a better development going forward.

Now, President Biden is set to touch down here in India in the next few hours where he will - where he will head directly to the prime minister's residence, Narendra Modi's residence, to meet with the Indian prime minister for a bilateral meeting. We should note that there will be no press access for that meeting. An issue that highlights major press freedom issues here in India.

[06:59:59] And that is also despite the fact that senior U.S. officials, including the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, we're told did indeed press their Indian counterparts to try and get that press access.