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CNN This Morning

Republican Presidential Candidates Have Third Debate without Frontrunner Former President Trump; Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Interviewed on President Biden's Reelection Campaign and Biden Administration's Stance on Israel-Hamas War; House Republicans Still Working on Plan to Avert Government Shutdown. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Luke Combs also won a CMA for single of the year, and in his acceptance speech he thanked Chapman for writing, quote, "One of the best songs of all time." Combs cover has reached number one on the country air play chart. That also makes Chapman the first black woman to top that chart as a solo writer since it started in 1990. I love that song.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It's a wonderful song. It's slightly unsettling that my six-year-old loves that song. Wow, I'm really old.

HARLOW: This tells me about your Spotify playlist.

MATTINGLY: But it is a wonderful, wonderful song.

HARLOW: Takes me back.

MATTINGLY: Congrats to Tracy Chapman.

HARLOW: And CNN THIS MORNING continues now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The third Republican presidential debate is now in the books.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did their words square with the facts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley gave a master class on policy, on abortion. She is a force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump has such a large lead nationally, it just may be meaningless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Pentagon carried out airstrikes against a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A facility used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Austin describing this as a very limited self-defense strike.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After 118 days, Hollywood actors have just struck a deal with major film and television studios.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know this deal is going to stress artificial intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sets the stage, so to speak, for roughly 160,000 actors to return to work.


HARLOW: The Iowa caucus is just 67 days away. Last night five Republican presidential candidates faced off on the debate stage in Miami. The frontrunner of the party, Donald Trump, didn't show up again.

MATTINGLY: That's the third time in a row. During the debate he held a rally just miles away, calling the whole thing a waste of time as he continues to dominate in the polls. Trump's opponents were asked right off the bat why they should be the nominee rather than the former president.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I tell you that I think he was the right president at the right time. I don't think he is the right president now. I think that he put us $8 trillion in debt.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Donald Trump is a lot different guy than he was in 2016. He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance. He said Republicans were going to get tired of winning. We saw last night, I am sick of Republicans losing.


HARLOW: The candidates also took several shots against the man that they hope to run against, President Biden.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because Americans at home, they know that Bidenomics is a lie. Prices are going up. Interest rates and mortgage to buy your home rates are going up. But wages have remained flat.

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But what we don't need is Biden falling all over himself to get back in the Iran deal. Him giving $6 billion to get five hostages home, him telling Netanyahu now that he needs a pause or a ceasefire.

DESANTIS: Biden's neglect has been atrocious. We had Floridians that were over there after the attack, he left them stranded. They couldn't get flights out.


HARLOW: The State Department did have a number of flights out. But joining us now to respond, Democratic Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker. He has been campaigning for President Biden's reelection. Governor, it's great to have you this morning. I just want to start with an opportunity to respond to some of those criticisms.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, what we saw last night, of course, were the same old rightwing MAGA talking points. These are folks who want to take away people's rights. They'd like to lower wages, not raise them. They aren't for working people, and they demonstrated it throughout that entire debate one after another. They are going to take away a woman's right to choose. And each one of them, in turn, essentially doubled down on it.

So I think what we saw last night was an ignorance of what happened Tuesday night, which was an affirmation of Joe Biden's agenda for America.

HARLOW: I would just not, you didn't hear that, what you just argued on abortion, from Nikki Haley. The president is in your state today. He is going to be meeting with Shawn Fain, the head of the UAW. Unions support obviously important to the Democratic Party. There are questions about is this UAW deal enough to maintain that support for the party writ large. What are they going to accomplish on that front today?

PRITZKER: Well, I just want to counter your point about Nikki Haley. She has been anti-choice her entire political career. She is searching for a way to win votes, and so now she is changing her view. But she is anti-choice, make no mistake.

Now, with regard to the president's visit to Belvidere, Illinois, jobs have been saved, jobs have grown as a result of what the president did to help reach an agreement, UAW with the automakers. And we are very pleased. And I must say, the workers there, their families, have benefitted from the fact that we have the most pro-worker president probably in history, but certainly in my lifetime.

HARLOW: There are Democrats who are concerned about the president's standing right now, not only in the polls. They are concerned about the White House and the president's position on Palestinians and what's happening in Gaza in response to the terror attack on Israel.


I want you to listen to some.

I think we have it. We don't have it. Well, you've heard them. Pramila Jayapal on Sunday, you heard her also -- I know you saw David Axelrod's tweets. Tim Ryan said basically it would be the best thing for the president not to run. Does that worry you? Does that or worry the campaign?

PRITZKER: Well, let's face it, there certainly are Democrats, we have seen this in the past, who when the polls aren't going our way, the snapshot in time, get nervous, even bed-wetting. We have seen -- and the truth is that this president has demonstrated that he is working for the American people. It's a year out from the election. This is a snapshot. The fact is that we haven't even seen the head-to-head battle between the Republican nominee, who is likely it to be Donald Trump, and Joe Biden.

And we've seen Joe Biden counted out in prior years, and we have also seen presidents coming up to re-election who are running behind a year ahead of the election. The truth is the American people haven't yet even seen this campaign in action, and now is the time to rev it up, and I know that the Biden campaign is doing that.

HARLOW: You don't sound very concerned. I just want you to address something else that we heard just yesterday from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just a warning that she seems to be issuing for the administration. Here it is.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D-NY): This is an issue that I have been warning the party about for a long time, that young people have been increasingly concerned about the status of human rights, of Palestinians, for years now. And it has been growing and growing. And I think what young people really want to see is an assertive stance from this administration.


HARLOW: Is this administration going to take a more assertive stance on that? Are we going to hear different language from the president?

PRITZKER: Well, what the president stands for is -- he as opposed to terrorism. He thinks that, as do I, as do many people, that when terrorists attack anyone, they ought to be hunted down, they ought to be either captured or killed. We need to stop the terrorists from attacking. That's one part of it.

The other part, of course, is standing up for the innocent Palestinians and innocent Israelis, and he has called for humanitarian pauses. I think that's the right thing to do. And so they continue to do that. We can't Israel exactly what they must do, but he is leaning on them hard to make sure that there are humanitarian pauses, and then we can deliver food and fuel and other necessities to the innocent Palestinians in Gaza.

HARLOW: OK, so it sounds like the stance and language is not going to change.

Before you go, I want to ask you about Illinois and what we just saw happen on guns. We just saw on Monday an appeals court uphold your state's ban on assault weapons. You signed the law earlier this year for that. It's different than what we saw federal court strike that down in California. We have seen what happened on the front here in New York. But we are going to see that likely go higher to the Supreme Court. You are an attorney, and I just think given the guns decision last year from the court, do you think it can withstand pressure at the high court, or do you think it get overturned?

PRITZKER: I think our ban on Seattle weapons, which, by the way, was the ninth one in the country, will be upheld by the Supreme Court. Very importantly, you have to remember that many, many people have died as a result of AR-15 type weapons being used. In Highland Park, Illinois, we saw seven people killed and 48 people injured just by one gunman with one gun that, by the way, had high-capacity magazines at the ready. He shot in 60 seconds, 83 bullets were shot. Nobody means a gun like that. That's not for self-defense. And I think that's what the Supreme Court will rule, as did the appellate court just a few days ago.

HARLOW: Governor J.B. Pritzker, it's good to have you on this morning, thank you.

PRITZKER: Thank you, Poppy.


MATTINGLY: Yet again, it's a day that ends in "y," so we're obviously counting down the days until the government shuts down. Republicans in the House have eight days to go. Still currently the conference is undecided on the best way to keep the government open. It's a very real test for Speaker Johnson as he tries to negotiate with a divided conference and a Democratically controlled Senate and White House.

CNN's Lauren Fox joins us from Capitol Hill. Lauren, there is a new speaker. There is also immigration groups breaking out. We are talking about ladders. We have eight days, and I don't know what the plan is. Do you?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and I think that there are a lot of members on both the Republican and Democratic side who are asking the exact same question, Phil. And there are eight days, which on Capitol Hill can sometimes be an eternity. A lot can play out over the course of the next week.


But the reality is we are very close to that November 17th spending deadline, here once again after lawmakers narrowly avoided a shutdown just more than a month ago now. So the question becomes for Speaker Johnson, who is new to the job, who is still getting his sea legs, who is still trying to understand the dynamics within his conference, is what are the steps he is going to take?

And right now we expect that he is going to unveil a plan over the next day or two, but we do not know exactly what that plan will be. There are a couple of options on the table. One of them is dividing these spending bills, creating two separate deadlines for funding. Obviously, there are a lot of senators who are confused about that plan. The other option, potentially some kind of short-term spending bill that would be known as sort of a clean spending bill without a lot of additions to it. There are also ideas floating around on whether or not you try to attach some aid to Israel to a short-term spending bill. But look, the reality is he is trying to get a lot of information from

his members on what their preferences are. But the Freedom Caucus and swing district Republicans, they have different views, Phil. So we are all going to be watching what Speaker Johnson does.

Meanwhile, the Senate is going to be taking steps as soon as today. The majority leader could file a procedural action that would set them up for a vote as early as next week, a procedural vote next week on a short-term spending bill to avert a shutdown. So this is really going to come down to the two chambers staring down at one another once again as that deadline looms on Friday. Phil?

MATTINGLY: Evergreen statement. Lauren Fox, we appreciate you, thank you.

HARLOW: Also, you saw last hour we had Iran's U.N. ambassador on the show. He said Iran was urging its regional allies to stay calm in the midst of this war between Israel and Hamas for now. John Kirby will join us ahead from the White House to respond.

MATTINGLY: Four months on the picket lines, actors are going back to work. The union's chief negotiator joins us to talk about that tentative deal ahead.



MATTINGLY: There's developing news out of Syria this morning where an American airstrike hit a weapons storage facility believed to be used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated groups. Now, the Pentagon says the strike was a response to a growing number of attacks on bases housing U.S. Troops in the region.

They've happened over the course of the last several weeks. CNN also has new video released by the Houthi Military Media. It shows an American drone being shot down off the coast of Yemen by Iran-backed Houthi forces. In our last hour, Iran's UN ambassador talked to me about his country's role in supporting Hamas.


AMIR SAEID IRAVANI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Iran is one part of this system, and any resistance group, has its own benefit, they have their own decision, they have its own strategy also. But they have some cooperation and collaboration in general common goals.

We have some cooperation and collaboration with each other, but we are not directing them.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now is White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Admiral, I appreciate your time. On the strike that occurred last night in Syria, there was a strike a week or two ago where U.S. officials believed there were actual IRGC personnel there. Do we believe that there -- does the U.S. believe that there were IRGC personnel at the warehouse last night?

KIRBY: Well we believe, if there were individuals on the site, they were -- they were not innocent civilians. They would have been either members of the IRGC or perhaps some members of these militia groups that they're supporting.

But the Pentagon is still doing what we call a battle damage assessment. They're taking a look at -- at the video imagery and other intelligence collection measures to see exactly what -- what -- what happened, and if somebody was hit, who they are.

MATTINGLY: You heard the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. when we spoke to him last hour. U.S. officials have not said that Iran directed the October 7th attacks. There's not been the intelligence to back that up. I think the Israeli counterparts have agreed on that.

But in terms of the collaboration that the ambassador was talking about there, do -- do U.S. officials think Iran directs Hamas, Hezbollah and these proxy organizations?

KIRBY: Yeah, he's dancing on a real -- real, little, fine, little pin there, when he talks about coordination and -- and not directing. I mean, look, there's no question that the regime in Tehran and the IRGC specifically funds, resources, trains, continues to equip these proxy groups in Iraq and Syria, these militia groups, as well as groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

And they can say all they want about deniability and, "Well, they're on their own program." To some degree, they probably do have some measure of autonomy, but they are absolutely encouraged to do these attacks. And we know that the IRGC is involved directly with helping these groups make some of the decisions that they're doing and in fact directing some of these attacks.

MATTINGLY: The strike last night was framed as -- as self-defense. It was in response. There have been a number of one-way drone attacks, rocket attacks as well. Forty U.S. servicemembers, I believe, have suffered injuries. How does the U.S. decide what proportional is in a response, in this case?

KIRBY: It's a decision that we take to retaliate is done carefully, done across the interagency, and is certainly in concert with the national security team and the president, to choose a target that we know, or targets that we know will have an impact on the IRGC and their ability to continue to support these groups.

This -- this target last night was a weapons ammunition storage facility. So we know that it had a practical impact on their ability to arm these groups but also to send a strong signal of deterrence.

And so now, Phil, these groups and the IRGC, they've got a choice to make. We don't want to escalate. We're not looking for a conflict with Iran. We want to be able to continue to go after ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Those missions will continue.

These groups have a choice to make. They want to continue to attack our troops in Iraq and Syria, then they're going to have to face the consequences for that.

MATTINGLY: Admiral, on the issue of the hostages, there have been some discussions about the idea of a short-term, two or three-day halt to the conflict in order -- in exchange for some hostages. What are the prospects of that?

KIRBY: Well, we're still working on this literally by the hour, Phil. We want to get all those hostages released. We know there's a small number of Americans, but, obviously, 240 other folks from all kinds of different countries, we want to get them out. We're working on this with our partners literally by the hour. We believe that the idea of humanitarian pauses, and I say that in a plural sense because it's probably going to take more than one, would be useful in terms of getting that large body of -- of hostages out. But that's an active area of negotiation right now.

MATTINGLY: Does the administration view it as all 238 or 239 hostages, or is the priority getting Americans out; they want them in the first group of any agreement?


KIRBY: Well, I don't want to negotiate here in public on national TV, obviously. We're keenly focused on the less than 10 Americans that we know are in that population. We certainly want to prioritize them from our perspective. But we also know that there's, you know, another 230- plus individuals from many different countries that are being held hostage, and they, too, have a right to get released and be back with their families.

And so we're working on this collectively with our partners in the region.

MATTINGLY: Admiral, I tend to stay away from asking you campaign trail questions, not just because of the Hatch Act speech you would inevitably give me, but...


MATTINGLY: ... also because of your subject matter expertise. But I do want you to listen to something one of the Republican candidates said last night at the debate.


FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iran responds to strength. You punch them one and you punch them hard, and they will back off.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would say, "You -- you harm a hair on the head of an American servicemember, and you are going to have hell to pay." SEN. TIM SCOTT, R-S.C., REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to stand strong with our Jewish Americans.

DESANTIS: The Hamas should release every hostage and they should unconditionally surrender.

HALEY: China is buying oil from Iran. Russia is getting drones and missiles from Iran. And there is an unholy alliance.


MATTINGLY: I think their views on Iran are -- are quite clear. What I was going to ask you about was what Vivek Ramaswamy, one of the candidates, said. I believe he referred to, at least it sounded like he was referring to President Zelenskyy in Ukraine.

He said, "It celebrated a Nazi in its ranks as the comedian in cargo pants, a man called Zelenskyy. Doing it in their own ranks, that's not democratic."

I'm interested in how you think the world views comments like that on a debate stage by a Republican candidate?

KIRBY: Oh, I'm not qualified to answer that question, Phil, about how people are going to feel about those Republican candidates. And I certainly can't talk about what they're saying. You're right about that, at the outset.

What I can tell you is that the president feels strongly committed to supporting Ukraine as they continue to battle against Russian aggression on their own soil. And he feels strongly about our ability to support Israel as they now battle a fight, an existential fight, against a group like Hamas that wants to wipe Israel off the map. That's why we submitted that supplemental request to Congress and we -- and we're urging Congress to act on all of those priorities so that we can continue those key national security priorities.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, negotiations very much under way on that front as well.

Admiral John Kirby, we appreciate it. Thanks, sir.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: So, this morning the Senate is going to hold a hearing into the number of close calls we've seen on runways across the country. The NTSB chair said those near misses endangered the lives of 1300 people.

MATTINGLY: And the holiday season is fast approaching. Have you booked your flights? We're going to ask Delta Airline CEO Ed Bastian what you should expect next.



MATTINGLY: Well, in just a few hours, the Senate Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on a series of troubling close-call aviation safety incidents and how to reduce them. CNN's Pete Muntean is joining us now. Pete, the NCSB has opened seven, I believe, investigations since January.

Do we know what's behind these incidents?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN MUNTEAN: Well, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board is about to say this. There is simply too much strain on the air transportation system. It's an urgent warning ahead of what's going to be a gangbusters thanksgiving travel season, likely the busiest in disguise ever.

So, today's hearing is especially timely, the subject, of these Close calls that have been happening coast to coast, known officially as runway incursions. The latest incident was just two weeks ago at Houston Hobby. In that

case, two private jets actually collided.

The NTSB just released the air Traffic control transcripts and the tower told the crew of a hawker jet there to line up and wait for takeoff. The pilots acknowledge being told to wait, but investigators say they took off anyway. That set off this collision course with another jet landing on an intersecting runway.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt, just damaged. You can see it there, but we're talking truly seconds from disaster here. Today, Senator Cantwell of Washington will try to drill down on the common cause of these incidents. And she tells me this, these incidents show that air travel is still recovering from its COVID downturn.


MARIA CANTWELL, DEMOCRATIC SENATOR OF WASHINGTON: Well, I think you can see everywhere in America as people return to work and return to systems and return to full capacity. And one of the things we wanted was to make sure that the air transportation system could bounce back faster post-COVID.

But I think you can see that what we need are the tools to make sure that it's the safest possible transportation system. And I think that this hearing will illuminate what some of those challenges have been in that returning post-COVID world and how we can fix them and fix them quickly.


MUNTEAN: We're also learning this one interesting tidbit from the NTSB about the Houston incident, the air traffic controller that told that accelerating airplane to stop twice. In fact, the controller beat automated alerts in the tower by a few seconds.

That system was installed at 35 airports and today Senators are likely to push for that going into even more airports, Phil.

MATTINGLY: All right, Pete Muntean keeps us posted, thank you.

HARLOW: And you'll remember one of those close calls that happened back in January was between a Delta flight and an American Airlines flight at JFK, listen to what happened.


MUNTEAN: Air traffic control recordings detail how the American flight was told to go to the end of JFK's runway four left, but instead crossed that runway in the path of the Delta flight that was taking off. A mistake caught by air traffic controllers with just seconds to spare.

JFK TOWER AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPEAKER: Delta 1943 Cancel takeoff clearance.

MUNTEAN: The Delta pilot slammed on the brakes; the FAA says stopping approximately 1000ft before where the American Airlines flight had just crossed the runway.


HARLOW: Here to talk about this and a lot more, Delta CEO Ed Bastian at Great Tabulian Studio. Thanks for coming in.

ED BASTIAN, CEO, DELTA AIRLINES: Great to be with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: How can these be stopped quickly?

BASTIAN: Well, first and foremost, the air traffic system and aviation system in our country is the safest form of transportation there is, period. We need to remember that. And one of the things that our industry does is that we spend all of our time focused on safety, safety is our highest priority.

We do spend time looking at every single incident.