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Five GOP Candidates, Minus Trump, Spar at Third GOP Debate; Actors Union Reaches Tentative Deal With Hollywood Studios; Court Documents Show Mark Zuckerberg Rejected Meta's Proposals to Improve Teen Mental Health. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 07:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis getting the most attention. Vivek Ramaswamy made his presence known.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Leave my daughter out of your voice. You're just scum.

RAMASWAMY: Biden should step aside so we can see whether it's Newsom or Michelle Obama.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You harm a hair on the head of an American service member and you are going to have hell to pay.

HALEY: As much as I'm pro-life, I don't judge anyone for being pro- choice.

DESANTIS: Donald Trump is a lot different guy than he was in 2016.

HALEY: He used to be right on foreign issues, now he's getting weak in the knees.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think they're at a debate tonight. Nobody is talking about it.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The winner may not have been on the debate stage at all now about two months before voting begins in Iowa.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone, and welcome. There are only 67 days left until the Iowa caucuses, if you're counting. We definitely are.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You're definitely counting. MATTINGLY: The Iowa caucuses.

Last night, five Republican presidential candidates faced off in the debate stage to make their case to voters. For a third time in a row, the clear GOP frontrunner. Donald Trump, was not on that stage. During the debate, Trump held a rally just miles away, calling the whole thing a waste of time as he continues to dominate in the polls.


TRUMP: It's time for the Republican establishment to stop wasting time and resources trying to push weak and ineffective RINOs and never Trumpers that nobody wants and nobody's going to vote for. They're not watchable. The last debate was the lowest rated debate in the history of politics. So, therefore, do you think we did the right thing by not participating?


HARLOW: Jeff Zeleny live in Miami. Good morning, Jeff, great to have you.

The candidates spent a lot of time on substance. I thought it was an important debate on substance, on key issues, but also attacking each other.

ZELENY: Well, good morning, Phil and Poppy. Look, of course, it was a deeply substantive conversation. This was the first debate since the October 7th attack in Israel. Of course, it changed the shape of foreign policy, which really had not been discussed much in the campaign up until now.

But the question is in this furious race for second place is an academic exercise or are voters really open to changing their minds?


ZELENY (voice over): On a raucous debate night in Miami --

RAMASWAMY: You can change your mind. That's allowed. But don't lie to the people.

ZELENY: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley scrambling to become the leading alternative to Donald Trump.

DeSantis blaming the former president for presiding over a party that endured major defeats Tuesday in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

DESANTIS: He said Republicans were going to get tired of winning. We saw last night, I'm sick of Republicans losing.

ZELENY: Haley also imploring Republicans to turn the page.

HALEY: I think he was the right president at the right time. I don't think he's the right president now. I think that he put us $8 trillion in debt and our kids are never going to forgive us for that.

ZELENY: But two months before the first votes of the Republican race are cast, the winner may not have been on the debate stage, but rather a few miles away, holding a competing rally in Hialeah.

TRUMP: I think they're at a debate tonight, nobody is talking about it.

ZELENY: Trump holds a commanding lead in the primary fight with time running out to slow his momentum.

Still, a fierce exchange broke out on China, the Middle East, abortion, and more, with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott pushing his rivals to support a national 15-week abortion ban.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would challenge both Nikki and Ron to join me at a 15-week limit. It is in our nation's best interest.

ZELENY: Yet voters sent a clear message on abortion rights Tuesday night in Ohio and Virginia. Haley called for a consensus.

HALEY: We don't need to divide America over this issue anymore.

ZELENY: DeSantis pointed his finger at the anti-abortion movement for failing to make its case.

DESANTIS: You got to do a better job on these referenda. I think of all the stuff that's happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flatfooted on referenda and losing the referenda.

ZELENY: The debate was the first since Hamas attacked Israel October 7th. All candidates pledged support for the U.S.'s long time ally.

DESANTIS: Finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America is here no matter what it is you need at any time to preserve the state of Israel.

ZELENY: Haley and Scott placed blame for the brutal terror attack squarely on Iran.

HALEY: We need to be very clear-eyed to know there would be no Hamas without Iran.

SCOTT: You have to cut off the head of the snake, and the head of the snake is Iran.

ZELENY: Some of the biggest flash points of the night came between Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, who accused her of rushing to war.

RAMASWAMY: Do you want Dick Cheney in three inch heels.

ZELENY: She wasted little time pushing back.


HALEY: I'd first like to say they're five-inch heels and I don't wear them unless you can run in them.

The second thing that I will say is I wear heels, they're not for a fashion statement. They're for ammunition.

ZELENY: Later with tensions inflamed and a discussion over TikTok and China, the attacks grew personal.

RAMASWAMY: In the last debate, she made fun of me for joining TikTok, her own daughter was actually using the app far long time. You might want to take care of your family first.

HALEY: Leave my daughter out of your voice. You're just scum.

ZELENY: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sought to rise above the fray, defending the U.S. for taking an active role in Israel and Ukraine.

CHRISTIE: Let's remember the last time we turned our back on a shooting war in Europe, it bought us just a couple of years, and then 500,000 Americans were killed in Europe to defeat Hitler. This is not a choice.


MATTINGLY: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

And joining us, 2024 presidential candidate, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor, we appreciate your time this morning.

I want to start with part of your closing message last night, which I thought was striking. I'll tell you why in a second. Take a listen.


CHRISTIE: You can't truly say you love America unless you're ready to open your heart to every American. I'm going to open up my heart to every American as president, and I will make that I return honesty, integrity to the Oval Office. We deserve and should accept nothing less.


MATTINGLY: Governor, I had a Republican official, not as a criticism, but after your closing official, text me and say, it's a great general election message or a GOP primary message from 2000. Unfortunately, it's 2023. That wasn't a criticism, that was a kind of, oh, well. What's your response to that?

CHRISTIE: I thought the whole idea was to win the 2024 election, and actually defeat Joe Biden and to show who, in fact, could do that in this field. When you watched last night, the juvenile back and forth between Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley, the non-substantive answers from Ron DeSantis on almost every topic last night, looked like he had memorized all of his answers and was relieved when he could get them out and get them done. Those are not the kind of people who are going to beat the Democrats next November.

And the fact I swhat I wanted to show everybody is what it looks like to be able to take on the Democrats directly and to be able to give them a new look at what the Republican Party should look like. Everybody complained about how much we lost on Tuesday night yet they continued the same rhetoric and the same behavior on the stage last night. All four of them continued the same, and the fifth one, ignoring the Republican electorate, ignoring independents at a rally and another place in Florida because he's too much of a coward to get on the stage and defend his record.

These folks last night still said nothing about the fitness of Donald Trump for president of the United States. They still dance around it. I didn't dance around it. And my first answer right out of the box, and I'm not going to dance around it for now through the end of this race all the way to the convention.

MATTINGLY: To that point, there's endless discussion about poll after poll after poll. But one of the most striking numbers, I think, in The New York Times/Siena poll was, what would happen to his Republican support if Donald Trump was convicted and imprisoned. You said this last night. Take a listen.


CHRISTIE: I'll say this about Donald Trump. Anybody who's going to be spending the next year-and-a-half of their life focused on keeping themselves out of jail or the courtrooms cannot lead this party or this country. It needs to be said plainly.


MATTINGLY: Governor, do you think Trump will end up convicted here?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I don't think there's any doubt anymore that in the January 6th case, he's going to be convicted. I want everyone out there to remember something. The first witness against Donald Trump in that trial that starts the day before Super Tuesday is going to be Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, who is cooperating with the federal government. He's going to testify that Donald Trump was lying from election night forward and committed crimes right in front of his eyes.

Now, this is not some rogue Democratic prosecutor, and this is not a product of the two-tiered justice system that Donald Trump likes to talk about. This is one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, and his former chief of staff who he referred to as the next James Baker is going to be sitting 20 feet from him in a courtroom and telling a jury that he committed crimes against the United States.

He is going down. The walls are closing in, and he knows it. That's why he won't show up on the debate stage. And I would say to all of your viewers this morning, look, you want to have someone who's going to actually take on Donald Trump instead of the other four on the stage right now who's going to just dance around the problem, then go to this morning, donate a dollar to make sure that I'm still on that stage in the next debate in December because I will take him on directly.

MATTINGLY: Governor, you said last month that if Trump skips this debate, continue to skip debates, you would follow him around the country.


You would ensure that you two had a face-to-face, back and forth. When does that phase of your campaign start?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, we tried to do it when he went to New Hampshire to register for the ballot in New Hampshire. And his campaign closed down the entire statehouse starting at 8:30 in the morning, wouldn't let anybody in unless you were on a Trump invite list, which I can assure I would not be, and would not let anybody near the building that day, unless you were a sycophant holding a sign and cheering. He's a coward.

But we're going to figure out how to get around that and we're going to make sure we confront him. And wait until you see the look on his face that day.

And I think folks need to understand this. He has spent the last couple of weeks every day in a courtroom trying to explain why he defrauded banks all across the country with his investments in New York. He's going to wind up having to pay a substantial amount of money there, maybe up to $250 million. And so if you wonder, does Donald Trump care more about the country or his own money, it's where he's been. He's been in a courtroom defending his money rather than out on the stump going after Joe Biden and defending our country.

MATTINGLY: Just to follow up real quick, do you have kind of a mapped out plan for running into him, for confronting him to what you were saying there, or you're going to figure it out in the weeks ahead?

CHRISTIE: Well, Phil, what we have to do is look at what his schedule is. He doesn't usually release his schedule weeks and weeks in advance. So, it's going to be a week-to-week adventure for us.

But I can tell you this, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley have no interest on getting on the same stage with Donald Trump. They won't even mention his name except for a passing glance last night, and still they're the ones that raised their hands in the first debate, and they haven't come back since to say they would support him even if he's a convicted felon. To me, that's disqualifying. And if you don't think if one of them is the Republican nominee for president that you won't be seeing the hand raised video from Joe Biden and the Democrats every day of the general election campaign, you're dreaming.

MATTINGLY: Governor Chris Christie, it was a substantive debate last night, another one coming up next month. We appreciate your time, sir. Thank you. CHRISTIE: Great, Phil, thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Hollywood soon to be back in action, a tentative deal struck between the actors and the studios.

MATTINGLY: Plus, newly unsealed court documents allege that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly ignored proposals from his own executives aimed at improving teen mental health. Those details ahead.



HARLOW: Lights, camera, back to action as the actors union, SAG- AFTRA, reaches a tentative deal with major film and T.V. studios after nearly four months of a strike. That means about 160,000 film and T.V. actors could return to work as soon as today.

Our Senior Media Analyst, Senior Media Reporter of Axios, Sara Fischer, joins us now. It took a long time, a long, long time. What do we know about what they got, the actors?

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: Poppy, they had a huge wage increase. In fact, this might be one of the biggest wage increases that they have seen in four decades. They also have landmark provisions around artificial intelligence. This was the big sticking point at the end of negotiations. Essentially, for the first time in the Actors Guild history, there are provisions around how studios can use A.I. to replicate actors making this a landmark deal.

HARLOW: I also want to talk to you about a story of significance surrounding Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta. There are these newly unsealed court documents, Sara, and they alleged that Zuckerberg repeatedly ignored proposals from his own executives, high-ranking executives, by the way, that were aimed at improving mental health for teens on the platforms.

The company's internal communications, these emails are part of this ongoing lawsuit filed by Massachusetts last month. And one of the initiatives that they alleged that Zuckerberg vetoed is 2019. It would have disabled those so-called beauty filters on Instagram. If you look at the complaint, Zuckerberg, they say, argued that there was a demand for them and he didn't see any data to suggest they were harmful.

And then they also alleged in the suit, Meta executives sounded the alarm on well being concerns. According to the complaint, they recommend the company address issues of addiction, self-harm, bullying. This was the summer of 2021. And months later, these documents say, a response came from Meta's CFO who, quote, tersely responded that staffing was too, quote, constrained to meet the requests.

Now, these are the allegations in the suit, but they're significant, are they not, especially given how much control Zuckerberg has of this company? FISCHER: They're very significant, Poppy, because they're starting to lead to other lawsuits. You saw just a few weeks ago you had over four dozen, you know, U.S. state attorneys general join together and say that they're going to sue Meta for this exact reason.

They're also significant because if you think about Facebook's user base or Instagram's user base, even more so, it's extraordinarily young. The future of this company relies on those young users. And so if lawmakers are going to try to push restrictions on them, push a new bill, that's going to impact their business enormously.

HARLOW: Can you also speak to just Zuckerberg's power, the power structure within Facebook, and how that's different than a lot of companies that might have some more checks?

FISCHER: Absolutely. I mean, not only is he technologically speaking in terms of voting, the sole controller of this company, but what these documents show is that he has unilateral control over very small decisions over things like how we're building products for kids.

And that was the thing that the whistleblower testifying in the Senate yesterday really wanted to call to the attention of members of Congress, essentially saying, look, I flagged these issues, the topmost people at Meta, and they themselves were the ones who made these certain decisions. It kind of speaks to the fact that processes underneath them to double check things can be overrode very easily.

HARLOW: It was interesting some of the warnings even coming from the guy who is heading up Instagram at the time. We did invite Mark Zuckerberg on the program, also Nick Clegg, we continue to welcome them if they would like to join us to discuss these issues.

I do want to read a statement that came from a spokesperson for Meta, and let me read you, quote, we have protections to help keep teens safe and away from potentially harmful content or unwanted contact. The complaint is filled with selective quotes from handpicked documents that do not provide the full context of how the company operates or what decisions we have made.


We'll keep following this.

MATTINGLY: So, who came out on top in round three for Republican presidential hopefuls? We're going to unpack the attacks and the substance from last night's debate.

HARLOW: The Justice Department announces arrests connected to a high end brothel network with a wide ranging client base. Those details ahead.


JOSHUA LEVY, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR MASSACHUSETTS: Pick a profession, they're probably represented in this case.



SCOTT: We need a 15-week federal limit. Three out of four Americans agree with a 15-week limit. I would challenge both Nikki and Ron to join me at a 15-week limit.

HALEY: As much as I'm pro-life, I don't judge anyone for being pro- choice, and I don't want them to judge me for being pro-life. So, when we're looking at this, there are some states that are going more on the pro-life side. I welcome that. There are some states that are going more on the pro-choice side. I wish that wasn't the case but the people decided.


HARLOW: That was Nikki Haley. You also heard Tim Scott grappling with the Republican Party's path forward on abortion after sweeping the election losses on the issue on Tuesday.


Meanwhile, the Republican Party frontrunner, Donald Trump, held a rival rally about ten minutes away in Hialeah, Florida.

With us now, CNN Political Analyst, New York Times National Political Reporter Astead Herndon, former New York City Council Speaker and Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee Christine Quinn and CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings. Good morning to all of you.

Scott, we start with the Republican at the table, let me ask you about last night and abortion. Did we get any closer to the Republican Party writ large finding its way?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you still see the party trying to sort out whether it needs a national position, which is what Tim Scott was arguing for or Nikki Haley arguing for more of an acceptance of the state-by-state regime, which is what we're seeing putting in place now in some of these elections and the state legislatures across the country.

She did have an interesting moment with Scott, I thought. He's calling for this national plan, and she said there's got to be 60 votes for the Senate for anything. I think everybody believes that.

But the question is can you run a presidential campaign on not having a national unified position as a party. The Democrats are far more unified on this than the Republicans. So, I think the division is going to continue to exist, honestly.

And for the candidates who are running for Iowa, like DeSantis, they've got to be here. I think Haley may be playing more for New Hampshire, gives her a little more latitude here to soften the rhetoric because of where she expects to try to make her stand.

CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: I think one of the challenges on this issue was really played out in Tuesday's election, where if the Republican Party goes, you know, harder to a more narrow, one standard, like the 15-week, they're going to lose voters. And they're going to lose voters in places like Ohio where I bet they never thought they were going to lose voters.

So, this issue, you're right, I think you need to be unified politically in the primary. But then if they have that tough position, it's really going to hurt them in the general, as we saw on Tuesday. So, they're really kind of stuck.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, the Republican Party has to have a tough talk with its activist wing. The part of the party that has kind of pushed them to embrace the most ardent anti-abortion stances is clearly out of line with the majority of the electorate. And so I think that's what's playing out here on this stage is you have various degrees of willingness from those candidates to really kind of speak to those activists directly. Speak to some of the evangelicals, as Nikki Haley was doing, to basically say we can't go that far on this issue, and, as I would add, as Donald Trump has done over the last year, is kind of create distance from them.

But when I talked to the Susan B. Anthony wing, as we were doing our reporting, they're pushing candidates to try to embrace that national standard because they actually agree that not having a stance is hurting the party. So, they would actually say the kind of evangelical, like the most ardent wing, the group of people who see this as a kind of human rights issue, they would say you need to be talking about a 15-week standard, because not having a kind of clear consensus position is not helping the party also.

MATTINGLY: I think what's interesting. You connect abortion clearly, obviously, to what happened, quite literally, in some places to what happened on Tuesday night. But it's also -- Tuesday night was a string, part of a string of Democratic wins over and over and over again, particularly in the wake of Dobbs. And at least a couple of candidates seemed to get at that last night. Take a listen.


RAMASWAMY: And I am upset about what happened last night. We have become a party of losers at the end of the day.

DESANTIS: We've got to do a better job on the referenda. I think of all the stuff that's happened to the pro-life cause, they have been caught flatfooted on these referenda, and they have been losing the referenda.


MATTINGLY: To Ramaswamy's point, I'm not saying he's reflective of where the Republican Party is because I don't want Scott to lunge across the table, but the idea of in the midterms, despite Biden's bad numbers, in special election after special election, in 2018, in 2020, the head of the party was Donald Trump. There's a way to connect that message. JENNINGS: Well, he went squarely after RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, and called for her resignation last night and called us a party of losers and so on, but he never drew the line.


JENNINGS: Who put Ronna McDaniel in as an RNC chair? Who is running the party and who is running the party now? He even, at one point, said the GOP establishment. Who's the establishment of the Republican Party right now? Donald Trump is the establishment. And his person is running the RNC. The fact that he wouldn't do that or is trying to do a sleight of hand -- well, first of all, it's par for the course for him on every issue, but I thought that was a real, weird, candidly moment for him.

MATTINGLY: No, go ahead.

HARLOW: There's interesting reporting this morning from Axios that, given what happened on Tuesday and looking at last night, that Democrats are working furiously to put abortion-related issues on the ballot in key swing states, like Florida, it's going to be a little tougher, right, with the ban and some their laws, but also in Nevada, in Arizona, because they see that as a reason for people to go to the polls and a reason to boost Biden.


HERNDON: Absolutely.