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RNC Withdraws Draft Resolution; LaTosha Brown is Interviewed about Black Voters; Carla Hall is Interviewed about Martha Stewart. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 26, 2024 - 06:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, breaking overnight, Alabama carrying out the nation's first known nitrogen gas execution. Kenneth Smith was sentenced to death for his role in a 1988 murder for hire. He also survived a botched legal injection in 2022. Smith's legal team fought the nitrogen hypoxia execution until the very end, arguing the method could lead to excessive pain or even torture. After Smith was fitted with a mask and nitrogen flowed for about 15 minutes, this is how officials described final moments.


IVANA HRYNKIW SHATARA, AI.COM REPORTER: He appeared conscious for several minutes into the execution. For about two minutes following that, Kenneth Smith shook and writhed for about two minutes on a gurney. That was followed by several minutes of deep breaths on the gurney. Following that, his breath slowed until it was no longer perceptible for media witnesses.


MATTINGLY: Now, the process began at 7:53 Central Time last night. Smith was pronounced dead at 8:25.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, the Republican National Committee has withdrawn a draft resolution that would have formally declared already Donald Trump the presumptive nominee.

MATTINGLY: Trump initially supported it, then came out against it after widespread backlash among Republicans and concerns that he'd be perceived as trying to stack the deck against Nikki Haley. Trump posting on Truth Social that he should, quote, "do it the old fashioned way."

HARLOW: Back with us, Errol Louis, Lee Carter, John Avlon.

Good morning, guys. We've talked about this a little bit at the top of the show. I guess if he is named the presumptive nominee, or was, then there's a lot of like funding mechanisms that would help him right now. That's the technical part of it. But what is your reaction just to the push to even have done this?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it really makes me suspicious about what they see. And I know Lee has a lot of the numbers.

There's one scenario in which Donald Trump is doing very well, right? He wins Iowa. He wins New Hampshire. He's on his way to winning Nevada and then South Carolina. But if you look at the numbers closely, there's also a scenario where, you know, clearly he has not completely unified the party. That there are a number of Republican constituencies that have just not come along. He's going to have -- and that foreshadows a problem that he may have as the presumptive nominee in the general election.

HARLOW: Yes. So, are you saying the push to have done this could have been also partly driven by, we've got to get you going now faster to make up for that softness that we see?

LOUIS: Sure. Sure. I mean, if we remember, back in 2016, it took him, you know, state after state after state.


LOUIS: It's not - it's -- this is not a sure thing. He acts as if all of the Republicans are with me. That has never been the case and it's not the case now.

MATTINGLY: I think it is totally normal for the leading candidate to want to close out a race early and move on to the general.


MATTINGLY: But in the last four days he has done the rant after winning New Hampshire and giving Nikki Haley a lot of ammunition. He tried - he said he was going to ban all donors. She raised 2.6 million since New Hampshire. This whole kerfuffle has taken place.

HARLOW: And made t-shirts.

MATTINGLY: And she made t-shirts.


MATTINGLY: She's got merch now.


MATTINGLY: Everybody loves merch. Like I - this is not a really great three days for the now presumptive nominee. I don't think it has a broader impact, or does it?

CARTER: I don't think it really has a broader impact. But I think when you look at the results of New Hampshire, seven in 10 independents, or undeclared voters, voted for Nikki Haley.

[06:35:04] There is - they have to go through this process. Only 4 percent of Americans right now think the political process works well. And so I think that it would be a big mistake for -

HARLOW: What did you say, 4 percent?

CARTER: Four percent.


CARTER: Only 4 percent of Americans think the political - so, that is - I mean that is a floor that is really, really unbelievable.

We have to let the political process work if anyone wants to have an investment in this election, in the outcome. And he's going to need these moderate. He's going to need people. Thirty-five percent of voters in New Hampshire said that they would never vote for Donald Trump. He needs to go through this process in order to get that support because he's going to need that support should it - you know, when it comes time to the general election.

HARLOW: As Errol pointed out at the top of the show, John, he's the one who said that. He's the one who said, I - I don't know if you think he deserves any credit for saying that last night, but he said, no, no, no, I want to win - like actually win this thing.

AVLON: Yes, well, I don't think he - he actually needs it. He doesn't want to be seen as needing help. That's sort of contrary to the brand. And - and, look, he's in a very strong position in terms of delegates. The RNC has been sort of treating him as an incumbent the entire time while the rest of us were looking at a very crowded field, frankly. So, that's not surprising to me.

I do think there is a case for Haley to stick it out because, a, only two states have voted. There are another 48, as she's pointed out, that - that there are hard core support -- constituents in the electorate who will not vote for Donald Trump. And her job is to expand that and create and alternative. And it gives her time, depending on what chaos is created by Donald Trump.

I just -- more democracy, more voting, not shutting it down. But the degradation to our democracy is what's so dangerous. The loss of faith. And that is disproportionately Donald Trump's fault for trying to overturn elections and discredit them and spreading this sort of chaos around our country (INAUDIBLE).

LOUIS: Well, I mean, yes, if he's - he's a grievance candidate, right? He's running on, you know, retribution and grievance and anger.


LOUIS: That takes timing. That takes - you know, you have to have a certain pace. You have to sort of build to a crescendo. You can't just run it as a Rose Garden strategy and say, OK, I'm the guy, let's check in ten months later and just make me the president. The numbers don't support that. You can go state by state and you can see that the numbers don't support that.

So, he's going to sort of try and create a drama, rather than close it out early on. I think that's what we're going to see.

CARTER: I also think if they were to do something like that, that Nikki Haley would have a really good path to go over to No Labels and say, I'm going to be on the ticket here. And if that were to happen, that would really hurt Donald Trump. Right now a third party candidate benefits Donald Trump the way things are going. But if this were to happen, I think it could really, really hurt Donald Trump in a third party.

HARLOW: So, play that out for us. That hurts Donald Trump, doesn't get Nikki Haley the presidency but helps Biden.

CARTER: It could. It could get Nikki Haley on the ticket as one of the third party candidates. And I think whether it's as the VP, and I think that could really be a problem for Donald Trump because that could pull a lot of Donald Trump's support.

AVLON: The only way it doesn't hurt is if it's at the top of the ticket. But in terms of preview of coming attractions, it's the unprecedented nature of multiple independent and third party candidacies that puts the math of the election in total chaos where you can't really predict what happens in the six to eight swing states.

HARLOW: Like, can any (ph)?

MATTINGLY: Yes. Yes, it's certainly true.

Also, you mentioned it earlier, Biden in Wisconsin talking about a $1 billion infrastructure proposal that rebuilds a critical bridge in a critical swing state while Trump is dealing with all this.


MATTINGLY: It's just a really interesting contrast that might seem familiar to Trump in 2020.

AVLON: I mean 3.1 percent GDP growth last year. That's the story.

MATTINGLY: Errol, Lee, John, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

Well, President Biden, as we just noted, he's going to be back in South Carolina this weekend, hoping to lock down a crucial voting bloc in the Democrats' first official primary voting state. What leaders there are saying the president needs to do.

HARLOW: Plus, from backing up Tom Brady, to becoming one of the youngest coaches in the NFL, how Minnesota Vikings Coach Kevin O'Connell's unexpected career trajectory shaped how he coaches.


KEVIN O'CONNELL, MINNESOTA VIKINGS HEAD COACH: Being, you know, told that you were not good enough, being told multiple times, hey --

HARLOW: Who said that to you?

O'CONNELL: I got told a lot of times. The beauty of it, it normally coincided with a complement of, we think you're going to be a heck of a coach. But when you're trying to be a player, that's not always the greatest thing to hear.


HARLOW: Much more of our sit-down with O'Connell, next.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's because of this congregation, and the black community of South Carolina, and not an exaggeration, and Jim Clyburn, that I stand here today as your president. Because of all of you.


HARLOW: That was President Biden earlier this month in the state that really revived his 2020 Democratic primary bid. Now Biden is set to return to South Carolina tomorrow, a week before this year's Democratic contest. It is now officially the first in the party's nominating calendar. The DNC changed the rules to -- their argument was -- allow more diverse voter base to have an early say. And it will test the enthusiasm of black voters at a time when polls show Biden is losing crucial support among that group. According to this November CNN poll, Donald Trump is nearly tripling his support among black voters from the 2020 election. The Biden campaign has been pushing back on those concerns about any weakness or softness for President Biden with black voters.



GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): The thing that I know that the black community is looking for is, we want results and not rhetoric.

Just during - during the time of President Biden, just during our time as governor, we've watched the African American unemployment rate drop to historic lows. We've watched the rate of black businesses started by black me has increased significantly.

QUENTIN FULKS, BIDEN 2024 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: But I want to be very clear about this, that no administration has done as much for the African American community as President Biden and Vice President Harris. We're talking about black wealth being up 60 percent, the racial wealth gap being the lowest that it's ever been in recorded history.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Let's bring in LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of the voting

rights organization Black Voters Matter. She supports Biden in her personal capacity. The group, though, not affiliated with any candidate.

LaTosha, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

Do you think the Biden campaign should be more concerned than they at least sound publicly about these numbers?


LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: You know, I do think they - we're in an election cycle and that we're just getting started. But we're in this election cycle and we've got to be concerned about what we're hearing from voters. And if voters are not excited or enthusiastic about the election, then we've got to find ways to make sure that we're igniting them. That I don't think this is an election that is going to be based on the excitement of voters but I do think is going to be based on the igniting of voters. That you have to ignite voters by literally being able to make that connection to what it is they care about and what your administration can do to push that agenda forward.

HARLOW: Is that what you're hearing on the ground, and specifically about President Biden? Meaning, is what you're hearing on the ground reflective of those numbers? For example, that in six swing states right now, according to "The New York Times" polling, Trump has 22 percent support among black voters. He had 8 percent support the last time around.

BROWN: You know, I'm not hearing as much around Trump. To be honest, the polls, you know, let's - let's be reminded that - that Trump went out of office having the lowest polling numbers that we've seen in a modern president, right, but yet he is now like the forerunner for the Republican Party. So, I think that the polls are an indicator, but I don't think they in themselves, like the poll -- that black voters that I'm talking to are not going to vote for Trump. They're not saying that they're supporting Trump. They are not excited necessarily about the election. And I do think that that is a burden that Biden -- I think Biden has a burden that's greater than himselves (ph), that's bigger than himself, to get the message out (ph).

HARLOW: Yes. And that is CNN's reporting that, you know, Democrats inside and outside of the Biden campaign are concerned about, just the -- a lack of enthusiasm, particularly among some black voters.

You - you talk about it -- the way you describe it the Janet Jackson principle. Explain that to us.

BROWN: That's right. You know, Janet Jackson had a song that said, "what have you done for me lately?" That oftentimes what we see as political candidates will talk about what they've done, you know, some of the things that they've done in terms of policy reform.

What I'm seeing with young people now, they want to know, what have you done for me lately? What are you going to do about the rising education costs? What are you going to do about rising housing costs? What are you going to do about this - the Hamas war that is happening right now in - the Israel and Hamas war? And so I think it's going to be really important that the Biden administration find the right message to really talk about, not what they've already done, but what they're going to do in this next - this next administration (ph).

HARLOW: Just to touch on that last point you made about the president's stance on the Israel-Hamas war, and not calling for a ceasefire yet. Another campaign event yesterday where the president was. There were pro-Palestinian protesters outside. This follows earlier this week more than a dozen times he was interrupt in remarks by protestors who opposed the way this administration has handled this and all of their support for Netanyahu.

I wonder if you think that that is a change that would make a significant difference politically for the president would - would he call for a ceasefire? I know the White House says this is not about politics, but is that what you're hearing from voters?

BROWN: That is exactly what I'm hearing from voters, particularly young voters. They want to see a ceasefire. You know, I think that this is like South Africa. I remember being a very, very young woman and that students actually took on South Africa and what was happening in apartheid. I think what we're seeing right now is that young people have taken on this foreign policy issue and they want to see a ceasefire. I think it will have a tremendous impact on his campaign in the election.

HARLOW: LaTosha Brown, thank you, as always, for joining us. You talk to people all the time. And we appreciate you bringing us what you're hearing.

BROWN: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

MATTINGLY: Senior Senate Republicans are reportedly furious that Donald Trump may have blown up the latest agreement on border funding. Why he's been urging lawmakers to oppose the bipartisan deal.

HARLOW: And influencer, inmate and icon. Ahead, a preview of the new CNN original series that dives into the many lives of the great Martha Stewart.



HARLOW: So, for decades Martha Stewart made her mark on American culture -- she is still making her mark -- through her special brand of domestic perfection. Now the new CNN original series, "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart" traces her explosive rise to success, her fall from grace, momentous comeback and establishment as a true American icon.

Here's a preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The modern woman will no longer be chained to the stove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've broken loose again.

CARLA HALL, CHEF, AUTHOR, TELEVISION HOST: When I think about the old show, I think about women in the kitchen, and they're always serving their husbands. They're always taking a back seat to the male.

I think with Martha, with how she exudes confidence in the kitchen, and she owns it, I think she's changing the way that we would think about a woman in the kitchen.

This is my kingdom. You know, I think she took it back.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now is someone who knows Martha quite well, you just saw her, she's a chef, author, television host, Carla Hall.

Carla, thanks so much for coming in.


MATTINGLY: As I told you, I'm from D.C., and you're like a huge, huge celebrity, and borderline mayor here. Not actually now.

HALL: I'm the social mayor. How about that?

HARLOW: Even better.

MATTINGLY: But what I'm so fascinated by in kind of reading up for this and knowing what's going to be in the - in the doc is, there's parallels between your career and Martha Stewart's career, how you guys started in finance to where you actually got. What did you learn from her? What did you take from her career?

HALL: I think - well, you know, first of all, like, in the moment you don't realize the parallels that you're creating.


You don't realize those parallel roads. I mean from finance, to modeling, to food. But I do know that Marsha was a huge influence for me when I started cooking because I started with her -- one of her cookbooks, "Entertaining." But I think for me, when I look at the parallels, it's like there - there are no boundaries. I mean we can go in any direction that we want to go in, I mean, and the - and just the - the wide berth of what we were doing. I mean finance, modeling, I mean food. I mean it's - it literally sort of touches all --

HARLOW: In the same order you guys went.

HALL: In the same order. HARLOW: Yes.

HALL: You know. And when I -- when I look at what she has done, and she's been at the top of her game every time, it is just about work ethic and it's about, you know, saying, yes, I can do this, yes, I can. And then when you think about feminism, it's - it's really about choices. I want to make the choices for my life. And I think that's what I learned for Martha.

HARLOW: I find her to be so relevant. But to have been so relevant, to be so relevant, and will be relevance. And that's really unique. Oftentimes famous people are relevant for a period of time. What makes her always relevant?

HALL: It's because she is always choosing something new. She's always having new experiences.

HARLOW: Even with Snoop Dogg.

HALL: Even with Snoop Dogg. Even with the cover of, you know, "Sports Illustrated" at 80. What?

HARLOW: She looks so good.

HALL: She looks amazing. And I think when you think about, as you age, what can I do new, and she's not necessarily reinventing herself to - to put on a different mask. She is saying, I can do this too. I'm going to try this. And I'm going to step into another sand box.

MATTINGLY: What did you think when you saw her with Snoop Dogg?

HALL: I was like, what the heck? I mean that's - OK, that was the honest --

MATTINGLY: Like, so - but here's the fascinating thing to me. I think Poppy's getting at this. Like, it works.

HARLOW: It worked.

HALL: It worked.

MATTINGLY: And it makes sense. And you're like, you don't even think of it anymore. And that's crazy that she can pull that off.

HALL: Do you know why she can pull it off? Because she's not trying to be somebody else. She's not trying to step into Snoop Dogg's world, saying, what's up Snoop Dogg, what's up? She is Martha. She is Martha respecting another talent of somebody who's at the top of their game and - and she is curious. That is the thing that you can say about Martha. She is very curious about things (ph).

HARLOW: Interesting. That's such an important quality.

MATTINGLY: What do you think - is there something like you know about Martha Stewart that you don't think most people do that they should know? HARLOW: Yes.

HALL: I think - I think Marsha enjoys people who are confident and self-assured. I think that -- and I've - I've been in a space with her where, you know, honestly, if she walked in this door right now, I'm like, oh, my God, what is that. You know, you feel that presence.

HARLOW: Presence.

HALL: And I think that she - she's not as snooty as one would think. I think that she enjoys somebody who enjoys - and when I say success, I don't mean success in the form of money and all of that, but success in themselves. Success and confidence in themselves. And that is a very broad, like, lift and, you know, span.


Well, look, sometimes when you go through the valley, as she did in multiple ways, you come out even more confident and strong.

HALL: Yes. Yes, because you allowed yourself to be in the valley and you learned from that. And I think that is something that people can learn from.

MATTINGLY: I mean, honestly, we should do this for like the next three hours.

HARLOW: I would love that.

MATTINGLY: We would love that.

Carla Hall, thank you so much for coming in.

HALL: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: We really appreciate it.

HALL: Thank you so much.

MATTINGLY: And be sure to tune in. The all-new CNN original series, "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart" premieres with back-to-back episodes Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump takes the stand.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His testimony was over in less than three minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The judge managed to maintain a fair amount of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still think he's looking at a large, large verdict. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Fixing the border on the brink and the

former president is trying to sink it with the help of Republican lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans who are on the fence and worried about crossing Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope no one is trying to take this away for campaign purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican National Committee was considering a resolution that would declare Donald Trump the presumptive nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This would be an unprecedented step for the committee. They are usually to remain neutral.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are Nikki Haley voters that he is going to have to bring back. And he is not helping himself.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis under fire, about to be subpoenaed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump officially joining this push to get Fani Willis dismissed.

This is more than just about an alleged romance, this is about the potential of a misuse of funds.


MATTINGLY: Good Friday morning, everyone. It's the top of the hour. I'm Phil Mattingly, here with Poppy Harlow in New York.

Well, there he goes again. Donald Trump saying the quiet part out loud, dropping a bomb on a bipartisan border deal.


He's not even trying to hide why. Posting, quote, "a border deal now would be another gift to radical left Democrats. They need it politically but don't care about our border."