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Young Voters Want More Promises from Biden; Richard Hect is Interviewed about the IDF in Gaza's Largest Hospital; David Petraeus is Interviewed about the War in Gaza; Retail Sales Fell in October. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 08:30   ET




JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Biden won young Georgia voters by 13 points, according to exit polls, but now a year before the 2024 election, surveys show a far closer race with voters under the age of 30 here in Georgia spit 46 percent for Trump and 44 percent for Biden, according to a "New York Times"/Sienna College poll.

AYLON GIPSON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: The excitement is not as high as it was last time.

ZELENY (voice over): Aylon Gipson, and some of his classmates, wish they had more inspirational and generational choices.

GIPSON: We have to pick between two different people who are very, very old and up in age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to see Biden pass the baton.

ZELENY (voice over): The vice president, whose college tour brought her back on campus this fall, resonates more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she - she sparks that energy. She's like -- when she came to Morehouse, it was fun. I feel her passion.

ZELENY (voice over): But with Biden at the top of the ticket, potentially facing a rematch of the 2020 race, voters say the burden rests on him to deliver on his promises and not take their support for granted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just as well as we hold Trump accountable, you k ow, we have to hold Biden accountable.


ZELENY: Now, some of the sentiment here is classic disappointment from a younger generation that the president is simply not progressive enough. But others -- some of the complaints are actually rooted in some serious economic concerns about affordable housing, childcare, the minimum wage and others.

But the bottom line here is, it's not a question of if some of these students will vote for the president. Most of the ones we talked to said they reluctantly will. It's will others, perhaps non-college students, not be enthused to vote for him. But the bottom line to all this, the Biden campaign realizes they have a challenge here and they said they want to make this a contrast election if Trump becomes the nominee against President Biden.

Phil and Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It is so interesting and so important to hear from those voters.

Jeff, thanks again for the great reporting.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Now, here are "5 Things" to know for today.

This morning, FBI Director Christopher Wray plans to warn the House Homeland Security Committee that the Israel/Hamas war has raised the threat of an attack against the U.S. to a, quote, "whole nother level." His prepared remarks show that he will say the FBI has, quote, "multiple investigations" into individuals affiliated with Hamas.

HARLOW: And the first lady of New Jersey, Tammy Murphy, announcing she's running for Democrat Bob Menendez's Senate seat. Menendez has not announced whether he will seek re-election after he was indicted in September on corruption-related charges.

MATTINGLY: The NTSB is investigating after an Ohio charter bus full of high school band members was involved in a multiple vehicle crash that left six people dead. The victims include three students, two parent chaperones and a teacher. The governor calling the accident, quote, "our worst nightmare."

HARLOW: Closing arguments set to begin today in the federal trial of David DePape, the man accused of taking a hammer to attack Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul. DePape tearfully testified Tuesday about how he came up with the plot to end U.S. corruption after being absorbed in conspiracy theories involving Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: And Congress now on the path to averting a government shutdown for now after House lawmakers passed Speaker Mike Johnson's two-step stop-gap measure on Tuesday. The bill is now expected to pass with bipartisan support in the Senate before going to President Biden, who has signaled he will sign the measure.

And that's the "5 Things" you need to know for this morning. Don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning.

HARLOW: And ahead, the IDF entering the al Shifa Hospital overnight in Gaza. This is part of their, quote, "targeted operation" against Hamas. There are reports of tanks and active firefighting going on inside the complex now. And we'll be joined by a spokesperson for the IDF next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HARLOW: Happening right now, Israeli Defense Forces have launched a targeted military operation inside -- against Hamas inside of Gaza's al Shifa Hospital. That is where thousands of Palestinians have been sheltering. A Palestinian journalist tells CNN there has been intense gunfire as soldiers search the complex and interrogate young men. The IDF just released this video claiming to show soldiers, this is them delivering aid to the hospital's entrance, and the Red Cross says reports coming in from al-Shifa are very worrying.

Let's get all the details of this ongoing operation. We're joined by IDF's international spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht.

Thank you very much for joining us, Lieutenant Colonel.

Can you update us on what the IDF has been able to accomplish in terms of taking out Hamas operatives and also if any Palestinian civilians, patients in the hospital, have been killed as a result?

LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: So, it's a bit more complicated than that, Poppy. And thanks for having me.

We, last night, launched a very, very precise and targeted operation. I heard before in your comments that there's tanks inside the hospital. That's not the case. It was special forces that went in based on intelligence to search for certain things. It's happening as we speak.

As you mention, we also have medical teams. We had Arabic speakers. And we also came with some humanitarian equipment, food, incubators. We're not fighting the people in the hospital. There was no engagement whatsoever with the patients. We went into certain areas inside the hospital.

HARLOW: And just to be clear, this was from a Palestinian journalist who reported on tanks inside the courtyard. For people who don't know, this is a very large facility.

MATTINGLY: To your point, Lieutenant Colonel, in terms of the precision effort and what you were searching for, there were reports this morning that the search for hostages showed that there were no hostages.


The other element of this is, you have depicted - you've had illustrations that depicted a tunnel shaft from inside the hospital toward the underground utilized by Hamas. Have you found hostages and have you found that shaft or a passageway underground?

HECHT: This mission wasn't focused on hostages. We were focused on bringing intelligence and dismantling certain capabilities that we had intelligence on. It was something that was very, very focused. And we - we went in, in a very sort of cautious way into the hospital. There will be more information coming out on what we found during the day.

HARLOW: Can you give us some of that reporting? I think it's important for people to understand as you're going into a hospital what you accomplished.

HECHT: So, we find certain things. That's all I can say at this stage.


HECHT: And we understand that there's a substantial Hamas infrastructure in the area, in the vicinity of the hospital, potentially under the hospital. And it's something we're working on. It will take us time.

This war is a complex war. We went in, in taking very, very cautious actions, and again into a very specific area inside the hospital.

MATTINGLY: To what -

HECHT: It wasn't an all-out attack.

When - when we came in today, there was - they engaged with some -- there was fire exchanged before we went into the hospital. We engaged with the enemy before we entered. And since we were in the hospital, there was no engagement whatsoever inside the hospital, at this moment, with the patients or anyone else.

MATTINGLY: So just to put a finer point on that, there have been no firefights, there have been no exchange of gunfire inside the actual hospital itself?

HECHT: Correct.

MATTINGLY: And then, to follow, there have been reports that individuals have been detained and interrogated. That would track with what a special forces operation would entail. Can you confirm that that has happened, there have been individuals from inside the hospital that have been detained and interrogated?

HECHT: So, I'm sure that when they went in, they exchanged -- or some of the forces if they thought someone was suspicious, they talked to them. I am not aware at this point of someone being detained. I'll have to go back and check if our forces did such an action. I'm sure if they did it, it needed to be done.

HARLOW: We showed our viewers a video of IDF forces bringing in supplies, particularly for babies in the hospital, including incubators. I know you also came in, according to the IDF, with medical teams and Arabic speakers. But I really think everyone wants to have an update on what the Egyptian health ministry says was - was -- is 36 newborns that were being held there in the NICU at al-Shifa Hospital, and they were trying to bring them to Egypt. Can you confirm if those babies safely got out of the hospital and where they are?

HECHT: I can't confirm that yet. I know that there's been extensive talks. Not in the channel - in my channel of the IDF, to try and assist these -- the movement of the babies. We've been talking to international players, also to the Red Cross, also to the hospital management, to try and solve this issue with the babies.

I know today that there's going to be fuel entering to the U.N. facilities inside the Gaza Strip. So, again, we understand that this humanitarian aid is allowing us to take care of Hamas. We are not targeting civilians. It's important always to say that. And I know we're a bit repetitive on it, but it's important for us to say.

HARLOW: Please just - please update everyone when you do know the condition of those 36 babies. And just -- you mentioned fuel. A U.S. official did tell CNN yesterday that U.N. trucks are expected to bring fuel into southern Gaza for the first time since October 7th. Will Israel allow that in?

HECHT: The answer is yes. It's been coordinated. And I'm aware -- again, it's not a military decision, but I'm aware that this is going into the Gaza Strip today.


Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, thank you.

HECHT: Thank you for having me.

MATTINGLY: And joining us now is retired Army General David Petraeus. He's a former CIA director and commander of U.S. Central Command. He's also the co-author of the new book "Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine."

Very happy you're here. To start, I want to talk about bigger picture in a moment. But to start with, what you heard there, as somebody has - who has overseen, planned, been a part of special operations missions, if you will, this is being described as something that you would send operators in. They keep saying precision. No gunfire exchanged inside the hospital itself.

Based on what you heard, do you have a sense of what this operation actually has entailed?


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Yes, they've got to secure a hospital. Again, remember when we first talked about this operation, that if you're going to destroy Hamas, you have to clear every building, every floor, every room, every cellar, every tunnel, every structure, including hospitals. When we cleared Fallujah for the final time in - that was during the surge in Iraq, the first facility we secured was actually the hospital. We wanted to keep it functioning and we wanted to ensure that it was not a source of disinformation, as it had been in the past.

So, again, every single facility is going to have to be cleared and then secured.

By the way, this does allow them now also to help the facility keep operating.


PETRAEUS: Once you have a corridor in from Israel, then you can presumably take in, as they did here, the kinds of humanitarian supplies and incubators and other essential elements to enable the hospital to function. They don't have to close it down once they secure it. They do have to, of course, figure out, is there a tunnel down to a command center, which is what they've said is underneath or near the hospital they now say.

But this is all part of a major clearing operation. This is really a combination of a conventional and a special operation in that the targeted pieces, these special operators, trying to figure out, are there hostages, are there individuals aiding and abetting Hamas in here.

But the bigger issue is the conventional forces that have to clear this and then hold because you have to continue to hold and then move on. You can't just clear and leave. You have to hold it. You have to leave soldiers behind. You have to facilitate it and so forth. And that's what consumes soldiers in huge numbers in urban operations.

HARLOW: You famously, now famously asked the critical question when you engage in a conflict, and that is, tell me how this ends. That was you in Iraq.

PETRAEUS: That was early on, yes.

HARLOW: It was early on.

Tell us how this ends, because it was just last week that you said the reoccupation of Gaza by Israel is almost definitely inescapable.

PETRAEUS: I think it is. Again, the way we'd like it to end would be to a see a competent, capable, reliable, honest Palestinian entity come over from the West Bank and impose itself or establish itself in Gaza, noting that, of course, they were run out of Gaza by Hamas back in 2007 after an election it in 2006. That's what you'd like to see. And you'd like to see all the structures and that they could oversee the humanitarian assistance, reconstruction of basic services, reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and resettlement of all these people that have been moved around in Gaza. I just don't see that happening. To be truthful, you don't have a competent, capable, completely trustworthy Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. So, that's the big question.

But even beyond that, even if you could find an organization that could do that, who is actually going to keep an eye on Hamas and keep them from reconstituting? We've learned the hard way, if you take your eye off an extremist organization, the Islamic state, after we left and the Israelis took their eye off it, two years later there was a caliphate. And, again, this is akin to the Islamic state, Hamas is. This is an extremist army, if you will. It does have to be destroyed. But then there has to be an eye and pressure on that. That's the real question. But I -- what I look forward to is hearing what the vision is for the

Palestinians in Gaza. Even as you work out who is going to administer the restoration of basic services, are you going to make life better for them? Can you separate the Palestinians from the extremists? That's a huge question that I think does need to be answered.

HARLOW: That's what King Abdullah is saying in "The Washington Post."

PETRAEUS: And he's exactly right on that. And there should be a vision for the Palestinians in the West Bank as well.


PETRAEUS: That's part of what is going on here, needless to say.

MATTINGLY: Do you -- given the weakness you illuded to, do you think it was a mistake for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to point to the Palestinian Authority as a likely or feasible entity to fill the vacuum in Gaza?

PETRAEUS: I just fear that this is much more aspirational than realistic, frankly. Again, no one sees that entity. No one also sees an Arab entity coming together that would stand up and take this. You see a lot that are willing to contribute in various ways. But this is, I think -

MATTINGLY: Does that surprise you?

PETRAEUS: Well, not entirely.

MATTINGLY: (INAUDIBLE) last weekend's summit that nobody's stepping in.

PETRAEUS: No, not entirely. Not entirely. I mean, first of all, the Palestinians don't want to be seen as riding in on the tanks of Israel.


PETRAEUS: Nor do many of the Arab countries, by the way. They want to see Hamas destroyed, by the way, They fear Hamas and Muslim Brothers, political Islamic extremists, very, very much, just as do the Israelis. But they are not necessarily eager to go in and be responsible for what will follow given the enormous amount of destruction and displacement that will have taken place at that point in time.

HARLOW: Is there a less from the early '80s and Israel's operation inside Lebanon and what that did to essentially be part of what birthed Hezbollah -

PETRAEUS: To some degree, yes.

HARLOW: For now in terms of just how -

PETRAEUS: Just - HARLOW: How Israel responds to Hezbollah now?

PETRAEUS: To some degree. Although with respect to Hezbollah, which has an enormous force, 150,000 rockets and missiles and so forth, deterrence seems to be operating. And that's really more a function of not back then. It was the 2006 war in which Israel really hammered Hezbollah, set back their infrastructure for a decade or more.


They're still repairing certain pieces of it. And I think that's what's keeping Hezbollah from what a lot of us see would be an act of suicide if they were to use all the capabilities that they had against Israel.

MATTINGLY: General David Petraeus, grateful for your expertise. Thanks so much for coming on.

PETRAEUS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Congrats again on the book, for anyone who has not read it.

PETRAEUS: Thanks, Poppy.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's very good.

HARLOW: New retail numbers. The U.S. economy, how's it doing. We'll have a check on that ahead of the holiday season.


HARLOW: Are you shopping? That is the question. New U.S. retail sales numbers just released. Americans cut their retail spending a little bit in October. The first cut since March with interest rates at a 22- year high.

Here with us to look at the numbers, CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon.

How you doing? Good morning.


So, people were shopping a little bit less. So, showed -- this report showed that shopping and retail sales fell by 1/10 of a percent. We had been expecting something closer to 3/10 of a percent. On a year- over-year basis, still higher, retail sales, by about 2.5 percent.

Now, I should say that these figures, these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, so sort of just keep that in mind.

Now, when you look under the hood of the car and you sort of look at the details, you can actually see where people are still shopping. So, we continue to see growth, restaurants, bars. People are apparently still going out. Online shopping, we saw some modest increases. I do want to show you, though, just how this compares to the last few

months. So, by and large, and, Poppy, how many times have you and I talked about the strong consumer spending.


SOLOMON: You see it month after month after month. Now, last month, October, we saw that decline. A few reasons why. A lot of people are paying back their student loans. That is new. A lot of people have dwindled their excess savings that a lot of people had accumulated during the pandemic. That has come to an end. We have seen credit card balances start to increase.

So, this isn't necessarily a huge surprise. Many people were expecting a softer number. We also saw in this report, furniture, that fell. You can think about what's happening in housing.


SOLOMON: Not a lot of people are buying houses right now. So, you saw that. Also, automotive, that fell as well.

HARLOW: And saving, I think, for their kids' Christmas lists probably for the holiday.

SOLOMON: Yes, right around the corner.

HARLOW: Thank you, Rahel. Appreciate the reporting.


MATTINGLY: Well, coming up, an historic moment for Saint Paul, Minnesota. A great state, I've heard. The newly elected city council is all female and all under 40. You see them there. What they have to say about this historic moment, that's next.



HARLOW: Now to the best story of the day. And, of course, it's from Minnesota.

History being made in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Voters have elected the first ever all female city council. These are the seven council members-elect. Six of them women of color. All of them, by the way, younger than me, under the age of 40. The top four women on your screen newly elected. They join the other three women below who were re-elected. In a statement they said, quote, "starting January 2024, the Saint Paul City Council will be entirely composed of women from diverse racial, cultural and religious backgrounds, and majority women of color, making it the youngest, most progressive and most diverse in Saint Paul's history."

MATTINGLY: And now to the best story of the day, the latest college football playoff. This is -- HARLOW: I already said that.

MATTINGLY: First off, this is a trap. And I'm going to tell you why. See, look at the next line.

HARLOW: I know.

MATTINGLY: I am happy to say the Georgia Bulldogs have regained the - I am not happy about that. I'm ambivalent to some degree.

HARLOW: Maybe you should read your copy first, Mattingly.

MATTINGLY: But I - you wouldn't let - no one gave it -- this is a trap.

Georgia, obviously, crushing Ole Miss this weekend. That, of course, means Ohio State, which I do deeply care about, drops down a spot to number two. Only got to be in the top four. Michigan, they're having a great time right now, real victim complex, is number three. Of course, Michigan and Ohio State play each other the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


I will be unreachable during that period of time.

Can I just say, after a bunch of white dudes really covered themselves in glory on Capitol Hill yesterday, I really appreciate --

HARLOW: What Saint Paul is doing?

MATTINGLY: Yes, very much.

HARLOW: Give women some power, see what happens.

MATTINGLY: Maybe. I'm just saying, perhaps, based on anecdotal evidence of one day on Capitol Hill, not a terrible idea.

HARLOW: Because of that, I am going to root for Ohio for you.

MATTINGLY: Ohio State.

HARLOW: I'll watch the game.

I'm sorry, Ohio State.

Thanks for joining us. See you here tomorrow.