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John Kirby is Interviewed about the War in Gaza; CNN Journalist Flees Gaza; Third GOP Debate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 07, 2023 - 08:30   ET



JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: If we have to make additional force posture changes, well, we'll do that too.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Did you think you'd see the day where CENTCOM would tweet out a picture of an Ohio-class submarine in transit?

KIRBY: Well, look it's - you know, as you know, it's rare for the United States Navy or our combatant commanders to talk about where our submarines are and what they're doing. But in this case, I think it makes perfect sense. When we're trying to send a strong signal of deterrence to actors in the region so that they don't widen this conflict, to let them know that we've got yet additional military capability at the ready to defend our national interests.

MATTINGLY: The president spoke with the prime minister again yesterday. They've been speaking on a very regular basis. Admiral, I was struck that former prime minister Ehud Barack gave an interview yesterday where he was talking about, he could see the window closing for the military operation due to the pressure from regional allies, the pressure also -- domestic political pressure with the United States. Has the president conveyed that to the prime minister, that there is a very small window of time to conduct these operations?

KIRBY: Well, I won't talk about the private conversation between the president and the prime minister. They have a routine now sort of -- dialogue as these operations are ongoing. And again they spoke again yesterday.

What -- one of the things that the president made clear to the prime minister is that we're going to continue to stand with Israel. We're going to continue to make sure that they have the security assistance they need, the tools, the weapons, the capabilities to go after Hamas. That hasn't changed since October 7th and it's not going to change going forward.

MATTINGLY: The - I wanted to play for you sound from Jordan's Queen Rania. She's been very outspoken. She's also -- Jordan is a very critical ally in the region for the United States.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, JORDAN: If you manage to eliminate all of Hamas, what next? The root cause of this conflict is an illegal occupation. It is a routine human rights abuses. Illegal settlements. Disregard to U.N. resolutions and international law. If we do not address these root causes, then you can kill the combatant, but you cannot kill the cause.


MATTINGLY: She is of Palestinian descent.

I guess the question is, to that point, and for regional leaders who say the same thing, what is the response right now?

KIRBY: So, we certainly agree that Hamas isn't just an organization. There's an ideology behind this, this terrorist group that slaughtered 1,400 Israelis on the 7th of October. And while you can go after the leaders and eliminate the leaders and disrupt the network, and we've proven that we know how to do that against groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, it is difficult to kill the ideology.

Now, she's also talking about history here and how things ended up the way they did in Gaza and the West Bank. And I think that the history is, obviously, long, it's complicated, it's complex, and it's good for all of us to remind ourselves of how we got here. But it's also important to remember that we still believe in a two-state solution. And the United States, we still -- President Biden still supports this as a viable vision and a promise for both a Jewish democratic state and a free and independent Palestinian state. That is the way we believe that both sides can live in peace and security going forward.

And even though we're in the middle of a conflict, Phil, the president hasn't given up on that. And we're continuing to talk to our partners throughout the region about how to get back on track to some sort of viable two-state solution here.

MATTINGLY: John Kirby, we appreciate the time and your ability to fight through the leaf blowers behind you. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it, as always.

KIRBY: You bet. Thanks.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just on cue every time they're on live television.

Phil, great interview.

Ahead, the union representing striking actors rejecting what Hollywood studios called their best and final offer. Now what?

MATTINGLY: And coming up, and look at the harrowing journey of our colleague, Ibrahim Dahman. His sons and pregnant wife are finally out of Gaza. The rest of their family is still in what he calls the Gaza graveyard. That's next.


MATTINGLY: We have new video just in to CNN, provided by the Israel Defense Forces. It shows what they say is their troops locating and destroying several tunnels in a civilian area of Beit Hanoun in Gaza. It follows an announcement earlier this morning that Israeli troops took control of a Hamas military stronghold in northern Gaza and the fighter jets working with those troops on the ground struck a cell of about ten terrorists. They say they also hit an anti-tank missile cell.

Now, in Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah says that more than 10,000 people have been killed since Israel launched its strikes in the wake of Hamas' attacks. Children, women and the elderly accounting for 70 percent of the deaths in Gaza according to those official counts.

Ibrahim Dahman, the CNN journalist, our colleague, was trapped in the enclave for 28 days. We've been following his story. His family is now in Cairo, Egypt, but they still have family and friends stuck in what he calls the Gaza graveyard.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN (through translator): Last month, my family and I fled northern Gaza. Buildings were bombed before our eyes. We became refugees in our own home.

I saw family members caught in the crosshairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't strike hotels, right?

DAHMAN: My own children feared for their lives.

We sheltered with over 100 other families in Khan Younis. We witnessed many airstrikes and survived blackouts. We tried to make the best of a bad situation, and district our children. But we couldn't shield them from the horror.


Last Friday, we were told to go to the Rafah crossing. I was relieved to get out of Gaza. My home has become a graveyard.

In Rafah, I saw many families hoping to escape. My heart raced as our documents were checked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zaid, why do you want to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want a safe place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: there are no safe places here.


DAHMAN: The names of a lucky few were called to board the bus to Egypt. Finally, it was our turn.

My wife put on a brave face. We both worry we will never see our relatives again.

The feeling of being in Egypt is indescribable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you happy Khalil? What do you want to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was difficult, but at the same time it was good.

DAHMAN: In Cairo, we no longer hear airstrikes. My sons look happy, but I know they are traumatized. Sometimes they hear a plane overhead and think it's a war plane. I have to reassure them they are safe now.

We don't know what our next move will be. For now, we can be a normal family again.


HARLOW: That last line, for now we can be a normal family again. Everyone at CNN praying this day would come, that Ibrahim and his children and his wife would get out.

MATTINGLY: Grateful that they are. The kids, good looking kids, man. Love to see them smile.

HARLOW: Hoping for the same for the rest of his family still in Gaza.

Meantime, the Hollywood actors still on strike this morning after receiving the studio's best and final offer. The SAG-AFTRA union says there is still no deal because of several, quote, "essential items" they need to agree on, like artificial intelligence. Not clear when a deal will be reached. Pressure ramping up in the hopes of salvaging the remainder of the winter television season.

MATTINGLY: A jury finding the Colorado officer who arrested 23-year- old unarmed black man Elijah McClain not guilty in his death. McClain died in August 2019 when he was stopped by police when walking home from a convenience store before being wrestled to the ground and injected with ketamine by paramedics. Nathan Woodyard was the officer who put McClain in the choke - in a chokehold. He was charged with reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. After the verdict, McClain's mother says she no longer has faith in the justice system.


SHENEEN MCCLAIN, ELIJAH MCCLAIN'S MOTHER: I wanted to hit somebody. I wanted to kick something. I wanted to take out my vengeance on the ones that murdered my son because there is no accountability within the justice system, and today proves it once again.


MATTINGLY: Woodyard remains suspended without pay. HARLOW: The stage is set for tomorrow's Republican debate. Donald

Trump won't be there again. Can any of the candidates narrow the gap? We'll discuss, next.

MATTINGLY: And right now polls are open in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and Mississippi. The key races and what it could all mean for the 2024 presidential race, that's ahead.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Why would you debate people when you have a 55, 60, 62-point lead.

You want a smart president, right? I think, if I did that, I'd say, we didn't know he was so stupid.


HARLOW: OK. We are one day away from the third Republican presidential debate. And, once again, the 45th president, Donald Trump, current frontrunner by a mile, by the way, is not going to be there. It will be a much smaller field on that stage than the last two debates. Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott will be on the stage in Miami tomorrow tonight. Doug Bergen, Asa Hutchinson did not make the cut.

Van Jones back with us. CNN political commentator Alice Stewart joins the table, along with the writer of "Very Serious" newsletter and podcast host Josh Barro.

So, that's what the stage is going to look like tomorrow night. The question is, does it make any difference whatsoever, Alice? Does anyone break through?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't seem to be moving the needle in terms of anyone inching up on Donald Trump. Clearly one indictment after another after another is not impacting the base with Donald Trump.

But I think what's important is someone really needs to break away from the pack. I think Nikki Haley has done a really good job of slow and steady, inching her way up, making a good case on the debate stage that she is strong on foreign policy. She has a good instinct in terms of what works with the voters.

I think Ron DeSantis has made a good message for, time for a generational change. Someone who can actually win in a general election. And you've got to love Chris Christie. His motivation and his mission is to just punch Donald Trump every opportunity he gets. So, that's what I expect we're going to see on the debate stage.

And look, the goal right now is to show a contrast with the fellow people on the stage, take the message to Donald Trump and ultimately make the case, the general election case, that you're the person that can take on Joe Biden next November.

MATTINGLY: I'm - I'm sorry.

HARLOW: He's speechless.


MATTINGLY: No. No, that was really like - that was really, really great advice. I think the question becomes, you know, the general election case, while Trump is going to says, well, look at "The New York Times" poll from 36 hours ago and also look at my polls in the primary. And I'm not dismissing debates. I actually - I think they're interesting, and Nikki Haley has clearly been buoyed to some degree.

But I think what I'm most fascinated by right now, Van, is, the reality of the head-to-head between the guy who's leading that race and the current president of the United States. And one year out with the severe issues that the president has with the coalitions that made him president in 2020, whether you not - whether you think he can actually come back from that.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he - right now he's swimming in oatmeal, I mean, Biden. I mean it's tough because you look at the economy, the numbers are pointing in the right direction overall. He should be doing well with his base. Pass more bills and more laws. If he were to retire right now, he would be on Mt. Rushmore in terms of what he's been able to do.

MATTINGLY: So, should he?

JONES: I would - I would argue that it's time for him to look at that, looking at these numbers. People say, well, you know, Obama was down. Joe Biden is not Obama. I mean Obama still - he had - he had - he had the legs, he had the charisma. Biden is not there. So, look, you're going to watch the debate tomorrow.

The debate tomorrow is really for who's going to maybe be a leader in the Republican Party in four years, I mean, or who's going to be the vice president. It's important, these people are important.

I am proud to see that there's three people of color on that stage. That's an historic moment we shouldn't miss tomorrow night. But none of these guys are going to catch Donald Trump. So, you're looking at Donald Trump versus Biden, and the Biden coalition is tired, it's uninspired, and people are scared. And there's no point pretending that's not true or having people from, you know, the Biden camp yell at us for pointing out the truth. That's the reality right now.

HARLOW: But you just said what David Axelrod tweeted on Sunday about, you know, Biden has to make this decision, is it best for the country if he runs. What Tim Ryan told Kasie Hunt about Biden shouldn't run. And then now here's John Fetterman. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Let me say something that might be uncomfortable. That right now there are two - there are two additional Democrats running for Pennsylvania - excuse me, running for president right now. One - one is a congressman from Minnesota, the other one is the governor of California. They're both running for president, but only one had the guts to announce it.


JOSH BARRO, WRITER, "VERY SERIOUS" NEWSLETTER: I mean, it's too late to have an open contest for the Democratic nomination. The filing deadline has already passed in Nevada and New Hampshire. It's coming up in literally weeks in many states. I mean the only person who's stood up a campaign is Dean Phillips, as John Fetterman points out there, I mean except for, you know, the - if we count Marianne Williamson.

And so the -- unless you're going to try to elect Dean Phillips as the Democratic nominee, which I - you know, Dean Phillips didn't even really seem to want to be here. He's basically been spending months trying to convince somebody else to run. And he's like, well, if nobody else is going to do it, I'll do it.

But the problem is that, you know, this is a conversation in the Democratic Party, if it was going to have it, needed to have a year ago when there was a time for other people to stand up campaigns. Right now you literally can't get on the ballot in some of these states. If Biden withdrew tomorrow, I suppose Kamala Harris would become the frontrunner for the nomination. And with the exception of these "New York Times" polls that came out this week that everyone's so freaked out about, it's the only poll I can find this election cycle that has Kamala running better than Biden in a general election against Donald Trump. There have been dozens of polls showing that she's an even worse candidate than Joe Biden to face Donald Trump.

So, basically, Democrats are, you know, this is where the party is stuck, and Biden needs to find a way to message his accomplishments better to reach voters who are lessen gauged. Biden's holding up pretty well with, for example, black and Hispanic voters who voted in the midterm elections. He hasn't had a lot of deterioration. The deterioration comes across all sorts of demographic groups, with younger voters and with voters who are less engaged, who did not turn out in the midterms. He's going to need some of those people to turn out in 2024.

I mean one thing Reid Hoffman (ph) has is - has a research group for Democrats with some interesting research out this week. One thing is almost no voters are aware that U.S. oil and gas production is at a record right now.


BARRO: They are very aware that the president tried to cancel student loan debt. They hear him talk a lot about jobs. One key accomplishment the president has on cost of living he doesn't talk about at all. That's one thing he could talk about but, you know, he needs more than that.

STEWART: Well, the problem with this recent "New York Times"/Sienna poll is that everyone likes to talk about polls are snapshots in time. This is a highlight on a trend of downward spiral for Joe Biden. His numbers, he has gone from ahead of Trump to a head-to-head with Trump, and now he's behind in these key five states. And when you have key Democrats, obviously, Van Jones and a laundry list of people you said that this is a serious concern, Sidney Blumenthal as well, saying that he needs to take a serious look at what he's doing. Joe Biden needs to look at, what does his legacy need to be? Does he want to be the president that beat Donald Trump, or does he want to be the president that overstayed his welcome and potentially lost to Donald Trump?

And because what he's doing is he is losing key voters, the black and youth vote, they're frustrated with him, a, on the fact that the student loan debt did not come forward. They're frustrated with his position on Israel. The American people feel - 74 percent of the American people feel they are worse off economically under his actions. And Bidenomics, he's out there selling Bidenomics, and people aren't buying it. They are earning less, they're paying more, and they just don't have confidence in his state of the economy.


And if I were a Democrat, I would be looking elsewhere.

HARLOW: Democrat.

JONES: Well, on that happy note, look, I mean, I think - I think people are nervous. People are nervous. And I think people keep telling those of us who are nervous that, you know, we're bed wetters, et cetera. I say, well, you know, invest in Pampers, invest in Depends, we're still nervous. Nothing has changed. And, you know, they say, well, you know, he beat him before. Listen, if that were good logic, the same team would win the Super Bowl every year. That's not the right logic.

The question is, Biden was the right answer for coming out of four years of crazy with Donald Trump because the hope was he was going to end the crazy. The reality is, he's done a great job, but the crazy is crazier than ever. And so that doesn't mean that the same guy that was good for you four years ago is where you want to go next. I agree that it might be a little bit too late. Some of us have been raising concerns earlier. I -- look, we have the right to be concerned and nervous for our party, and we are right now.

MATTINGLY: They see the polls. And they know -- trust me, they know. Just as Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and is running for president, and Gavin Newsom is not, they also know the polls. They think they've got a year to fix it.

Alice, Van, Josh, we appreciate it, guys, thank you.

BARRO: Thank you. STEWART: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: And "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after this break.