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Zelenskyy In Washington; Deadline To Make Climate Agreement Has Passed; Harvard President's Latest Stance. Aired 9-9:45a ET

Aired December 12, 2023 - 09:00   ET




JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: It's 9am here in New York. I'm Julia Chatterley, and this is Connect the World. At this hour Ukrainian

president Zelenskyy is meeting with U.S. senators in a desperate plea for more war aid. He says doing nothing is a win for Putin. It's the last day

of a critical climate summit in Dubai but talks are now in over time.

Climate experts call the draft agreement weak. And Israel will use two crossings to help screen aid for Gaza starting today. We'll have a live

report from Kerem Shalom.

And a high stakes appeal. But will Ukraine's President feel the winter chill on Capitol Hill? Volodymyr Zelensky just arrived there and will go

into a meeting with the U.S. lawmakers as we speak. You can see pictures there of the President Zelenskyy there with the majority leader, Mitch -

sorry the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell there on the screen left and Chuck Schumer of course, the majority leader on his left.

He's pushing for more money and weapons for his country's nearly two year war against Russia's invasion, but he's facing a markedly different climate

with many Republicans now reluctant to give Ukraine any more aid. Indeed, President Zelenskyy will meet the conservative new House speaker before

talking with President Biden this afternoon.

And there's been no let up on the ground in Russia's campaign. Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground for us from Zaporizhzhia. Nick, a pivotal moment,

one perhaps of the most critical moments that President Zelenskyy's faced since the war began. He's now fighting for hopes of $60 billion worth of

Ukraine and perhaps determining the future of his nation in this fight. The question is what can he say to convince them?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, unfortunately, you know, Zelenskyy, this isn't the first time he's

made this appeal. But he's had a much more sympathetic audience frankly, that didn't really need convincing. The plea was always about how much

rather than if it was going to be any at all.

We don't know exactly how little is left, it might be south of a billion dollars at the moment. But remember, Ukraine has become used to seeing

billion dollar announcements almost every other week, almost weekly during this war, keeping its campaign afloat here financially. And of course,

allowing the U.S. to supply military assistance too.

Now that already has not been enough for them to achieve the results the West wanted in the summer's counter offensive. He now faces an increasingly

hostile political climate and essentially, a view it seems amongst hostile Republicans that perhaps this war is no longer worth trying to fund and the

U.S. might get dragged into it.

Some may say a misunderstanding that essentially, the U.S. is keeping us out of the war by paying for Ukraine to hold Russia back. If Russia keeps

moving forward, it will lead us towards NATO's borders, and that would drag the U.S. in. But here in Ukraine, even this stalling of delay, even if

Zelenskyy magically pulled something out of a hat during this visit, there has already been an impact on morale.

That sense of the West being (inaudible) behind Ukraine, that is ebbing. We heard on the frontline from soldiers anger that they may have to

essentially do this alone. We've seen drone pilots magic things out of online purchasing to be able to create attack drones, essentially a $100

each to hit the Russians.

That's making up the gap between what they want and what the West ideally potentially would see them get a victory over Russia with and what they can

lay their hands on immediately. The story you hear from Ukrainian soldiers is yes, we will fight on but it's going to be exceptionally hard without

that assistance.

Remember, it's a fight of life and death for them and their future without victory is essentially that of Russian occupation. On the Russian side,

Vladimir Putin quite it seems keen to see this moment arrive. Western unity has it's fair to say, been pretty remarkable to this point.

Putin known to be patient, pragmatic. Russia with a staggering tolerance for casualties on its side during this war, and perhaps hoping this moment

will come where the political climate changes in the U.S. We've heard from Poland's likely new leader Donald Tusk, that he believes he can lead the

West forwards now and NATO has to get fully, irrevocably behind Ukraine.

So some hopes that Europe's unity on this may not shatter because this fight essentially is about European security. And in this moment, today, we

hear continued shelling in the southern city of Kherson liberated over a year ago but still in the grip of Russia's war shelling their relentless

fortifications put up around children's playgrounds, maternity wards, moving underground.


Even though Ukraine is making small advances on the other side of the river next to Kherson; in the east of the country in Avdivka, Russia edging

forwards around another town it has in its sights to perhaps expend endless resources for a small, not particularly strategic victory. But it's a sign

Moscow has the tenacity in all of this, it perhaps smells the fact that the U.S. may be slipping in terms of its resolve.

And this essentially is what many Ukrainians feared that there will be a limited window of support, hard support, costly support from the west they

could count on and then it might begin to crumble. And as they're also seeing around here, what appears to be a cyberattack, the finger for which

being pointed towards Russia impacting cell phone service across the country, and recent attacks on infrastructure again, that could be looking

at a very bleak winter ahead. Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Nick Paton Walsh there from southern Ukraine. Thank you. To Dubai now where the COP28 Climate Talks are headed for overtime. That's

after the deadline set by the summit's president came and went with no sign of a deal. Negotiators from the nearly 200 countries in attendance of

trying to hammer out a plan of action to tackle global - global climate change.

But of course, bitter divisions remain. A draft agreement was unveiled on Monday, but it was quickly slammed by many nations and climate advocates as

weak because it dropped previous references to phasing out of fossil fuels. We've got team coverage for you, Eleni Giokos is live in Dubai. And Chief

Climate Correspondent Bill Weir is in New York.

Eleni to you first. It comes down to a matter of pragmatism, I think, at this stage and what's feasible, both in terms of the language for reducing

fossil fuel, and ultimately, the use of that fossil fuel and whether those nations involved can reduce their consumption.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, look, this has been the big point of contention. It's what is the language going to be? And what are

the implications of this language. We've got to remember that when we're talking about phasing out of fossil fuels, that means big commitment by not

only the fossil producers, but also I think globally as well. The draft that we saw was basically a watered down version, and major criticism has

come through.

Some are saying it's an oiled down version. The only mention of phase down is that of coal, which we've heard that language before. And in terms of

fossil fuels, it's almost quite interesting to see a laundry list or sort of a menu of how countries could and it's important, Julia, because they

mentioned the word could reduce their emissions. And included in that list is by reducing consumption and production of fossil fuels.

It also includes, you know, tripling renewable energy and other things that countries could be using and deploying to try and lower their emissions.

But frankly, it'll be even historic, if the words fossil fuels are used in this communique. Isn't that historic in the greater scheme of things? We

know that fossil fuels account for most of the global greenhouse gases, we know that it's one of the biggest contributors to climate change.

And yet, we're still seeing a debate on this. We also saw that OPEC had sent a letter to its member states saying that they shouldn't support any

language that refers to phasing down or even phasing out of fossil fuels. So we know in the backdrop of this, given oil producing countries with

their own agenda, and frankly, oil producers, fossil fuel delegates were really large in their numbers at this COP, which was really important.

So you understand that the lobbying that perhaps could be happening behind the scenes, but also their voices really very evident here. Important to

note, as well and in general - the general scope of things that countries that we've heard from observers that are pushing back in the - on this

language in this final agreement, are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, as well as Kuwait.

So we know which countries are pushing back. 200 countries, almost 200 countries need to find consensus on this language. The small island

nations, Julia had been saying we are going to die if we do not see any real action points. But you know, we have to be pragmatic, as well as

realistic. Anything that you and I touched, Julia, anything you buy from the grocery store, has fossil fuel attached to it in some way? Can we

really wean ourselves off this?

We have to do it, I guess we've got to be realistic about what that would mean and the actions that need to be taken.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, always when I see these conferences ringing in my ears, the American Petroleum Institute's state that nearly half of energy used in

around the world is going to be coming from oil and natural gas, even by 2050. So it goes back to your point, again, of pragmatism versus

practicality and the will.

Bill come in here because we began this conference with the president himself, having to defend himself against accusations that this meeting was

going to be used to strike oil deals. We don't necessarily need to debate that but as Eleni was saying, the petro-nations are being accused of

thwarting efforts here. If they don't manage to get language on fossil fuels, will it be seen as a failure of this presidency? Because that raises

questions for hosts going forward, particularly in this region.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly Julia, yes. Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask Al Gore, he says this is an abject

failure. You know, he was one of the early voices to warn. This is what - what do you expect if a petro state - if the president of one of the

dirtiest oil and gas companies in the world is hosting a COP?

This is ultimately what - what you're going to end up with it. But then again, humanity gave us the Paris Agreement, which a lot of people never

thought could happen. So who knows what will come out of these extra time. This overtime we're in now. The last four COPs have gone into overtime

because getting a consensus around this language as Eleni was mentioning there, just using the words, fossil fuels.

We haven't even used the F words until after 30 years of these sort of negotiations. But another interesting angle is how big this is now, and it

has become sort of a de facto Climate Technology trade show. And I talked to a couple of different CEOs who were there and came back incredibly

encouraged by the sideline commitments that are being made by governments, national governments, with entrepreneurs and clean technology, who want to

scale down their emissions at a much faster clip than even as it's being talked about here.

The tripling of renewables, which was pledged here, that's kind of happening anyway, because the economics of wind and solar, they are so

incredibly cheap right now. And now storage for that renewable energy is ramping up as well. There's a lot of optimism that some real progress will

be made in decarbonisation, regardless of whatever the final language is, we get in the next couple of days out of Dubai.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, and that's such a great point. Don't get fixated on the small print here to your point and industry is getting on with it anyway,

irrespective of what central governments around the world perhaps are doing or not doing as we've known in the United States for the last several

years, in particular. Eleni, Bill, thank you so much for that.

Now, battles are blazing across northern Gaza as Israeli forces are engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas. Clashes like this one can be heard in Jabalya

as Israel says it destroyed both a rocket launch post and a weapons production facility. The IDF claims the last two Hamas strongholds in

northern Gaza and now surround it.

And on the humanitarian aid front, Israel sees it would begin inspecting aid trucks waiting at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. After they're

cleared, only then will they be allowed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Alex Marquardt joins us now from that point.

Alex, I think we should explain to our viewers once again, what is going to be achieved here and what isn't. This is not going to be a crossing point

for aid into Gaza, but it is hopefully going to facilitate the speed upon which aid can cross via the Rafah crossing.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Julia, it's a very important distinction. The good news is that more aid will be approved

by Israel to go into Gaza. Israel estimates double the amount of aid but it does not mean that aid will actually be able to get into Gaza, because of

the complications at the Rafah crossing and really the chaos that we're seeing in the southern part of Gaza.

Where I'm standing here is really the intersection of where Egypt, Israel and Gaza meet. So what we've seen throughout the course of the day and has

slowed down a little bit now, is trucks coming from Egypt, into Israel, where they are inspected, and we've seen security dogs sniffing the goods.

We've seen trucks from the World Central Kitchen and cargo from the World Food Program. But then those trucks don't go into Gaza. There's no aid

actually going into Gaza from this crossing. Instead, they go back into Egypt, and then from there, they go up to the Rafah crossing. Now, all of

the aid that Gaza has seen since the beginning of this war has really gone through that Rafah crossing, but it has - it was not built for such a high

volume. And so you have a real bottleneck there.

And then you have the heavy fighting, some of which Julia, we've just seen. In the past few moments, we actually heard an airstrike, which appears to

have been at the southern tip of Gaza, there was a big plume of black smoke that went up. We've seen hundreds of 1000s if not more than a million

people displaced to the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. And so as that aid goes in, we've seen trucks also being swarmed by people who are so

desperate for food, for water, for medicine, for shelter. And so it has made distribution incredibly difficult. When this crossing will actually

open for aid?

Well, obviously that's something that humanitarian officials hope will happen soon. But for now, I'm told it is a political decision that rests

with the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and an IDF official told me yesterday that for now that is not on the table, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: And we certainly will continue to watch that. Alex, very briefly. If you could give us any more information on the latest you have

on the encircling of the last two Hamas strongholds according to the Israeli Defense Ministry in the north of Gaza. What more do we know about

that and potential progress? I know it's difficult.


MARQUARDT: Well, Julia really speaks to the fact that as Israel has shifted its focus towards the south and so much of that attention and fighting is

around the city of Khan Yunis, Israel has not yet taken full control of the north. So there are really two pockets, two strongholds to use the words of

the Israelis; Jabalya and Shejaiya that that are - that were the fighting remains where Hamas militants are holding out.

And just today, we heard from the IDF that the death toll of Israeli soldiers has climbed to 104. At the same time, the Hamas controlled

Ministry of Health in Gaza says that some 18,000 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of this fighting on October 7.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, it's an important point, as you said, focus may have shifted to the south but the North is not yet under control either. Alex,

great to have you with us. Thank you for that. Alex Marquardt, there.

OK, coming up, Harvard's President has made a decision about her future, the action she's taking after a fight against antisemitism. That's coming

up. Also keeping the peace at the border, still ahead. CNN's closer look inside the dangerous mission of peacekeeping on the Lebanese border with

Israel. Stay with CNN.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to Connect the World. Harvard's president will remain in office along with the blessing of the university's highest

governing body. Claudine Gay's decision was reported and affirmed by the Harvard Corporation that supported President Gay's continued leadership at

the Ivy League school.

She has been under fire after testimony last week before Congress about antisemitism on American college campuses. Another university president

resigned over the weekend. Let's bring in Jason Carroll in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And he's been reporting on the fallout after the

antisemitism House hearing. Jason, good to have you with us.

I think this has been the long expectation actually that Claudine Gay would keep her job and that the Board of Harvard would protect her and their

decision initially to hire her despite the criticism. Why was this decision made? And what's the response been?

JASON CARROLL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of good questions. I think in terms of why the decision was made, one has to wonder

if what happened over the past 24 hours had in some way, influenced a board that may have already been moving in that direction. And over the past 24

hours what we saw is a great deal of support coming forward for Claudine Gay, including 700 faculty members signing a petition at Harvard in support

of Gay.

In addition to that you had the Harvard Alumni Association sending a letter in support of Gay as well. When all was said and done after Harvard's

Governing Board met and they had a regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday, another one yesterday they decided to come out with a statement strongly in

support for her. Let me read part of it to you.


It says as members of the Harvard Corporation again, that's the Harvard governing board, we reaffirm - reaffirm our support for President Gay's

continued leadership of Harvard University. The statement goes on to say our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the

right leader to help our community heal, and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing.

Now over the past several days or so the board has remained silent, not weighing in on the issue one way or the - or the other as there was a

strong amount of criticism that was coming forward mostly from outside the university from political leaders and, and others strongly criticizing her

for that widely disappointing performance that she gave in front of Congress during that testimony last week.

And so there was a lot of speculation as to whether or not she would be able to keep her job. But again, Harvard's Corporation, their governing

board coming forward with unanimous support for the governors and for the President saying she is the right person to lead Harvard into the future.

Back to you.

CHATTERLEY: Fascinating, isn't it Jason? What are students they're saying? Have you spoken to any students because certainly for the Jewish community

there, there was deep concern and remains deep concern. As I mentioned in the introduction, we saw another university president removed from her

position at Pennsylvania University. Why is this different, I guess, is the question.

And are students concerned, despite the faculty seemingly being behind it, for the most part.

CARROLL: Right, Penn's President forced to resign, as you say, over the weekend, on Saturday, but on the flip side of that you have MIT's president

who that governing board last Thursday came out with a statement in support of that President.

In terms of students, I think of one Israeli student here who seen and spoke to who is a student here at Harvard, who really felt even after

October 7, did not feel safe here on campus. She felt a rise in antisemitism, and was extremely disappointed by the testimony that Gay

gave, in addition to the testimony from the other two presidents from the other prestigious universities, as well.

And so clearly, there's going to be some disappointment. There was going to be disappointment, no matter what decision was made here. But also a number

of students that we spoke to even who were critical of Gay did not want to see her removed because of outside forces.

CHATTERLEY: Fascinating, isn't it? President Gay will stay. The question is just change now come. Jason, great to have you with us. Thank you for your

reporting there on the latest from Harvard University and its president, Claudine Gay.

OK, let's get you up to speed now on some of the other stories on our radar. Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Vietnam for a two-day state

visit. Beijing says he's seeking to strengthen ties between the communist neighbors. The Chinese President's trip comes just three months after U.S.

President Joe Biden visited Vietnam to try and bolster relations with China's neighbors.

Now some encouraging news for Americans bogged down by stubbornly high prices. U.S. consumer price inflation cooled slightly in the month of

November, economists had expected prices to stay flat. The report comes just a day ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's closely watched interest

rate decision. No change expected.

And the publisher of Sports Illustrated fired its CEO on Monday, a spokesperson for the company declined to explain Ross Levinsohn's ouster,

but the move came after a debacle in which Sports Illustrated was caught publishing stories with fake author names and profile photos generated by

artificial intelligence.

OK, now just ahead. Ukraine's wartime leader is on Capitol Hill urgently seeking support. Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine's soldiers are waiting on

Washington to act. We'll take you there. And a foul act on a Turkish football pitch shocks viewers. More details in our sport update. Stay with





CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York and you're watching Connect the World. Desperate not to see U.S. aid dry up. The

Ukrainian president at this hour is courting lawmakers in America's corridors of power. Later, Volodymyr Zelensky is set to meet with President

Joe Biden at the White House. This is President Zelenskyy's third U.S. visit since the war began. Now think back to a year ago this month.

Remember this? Well, that was when Ukraine's wartime leader received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress. This time around, he's

meeting with senators trying to convince them that democracy as well as Ukraine hangs in the balance without new U.S. funding to help Kyiv fight

Russia. And that money, of course remains stalled in Congress.

And the Biden White House is warning that Moscow is also watching every move on Capitol Hill. Let's head to the White House now where Arlette Saenz

joins us live. Arlette, what a difference just over a year makes in terms of reception. Fatigue, I think that with this war is something that he

faces but perhaps the even bigger challenges his need for more aid is caught up in domestic politics and the challenges at the border wall.

Is there anything that he can do today to convince those that are skeptical about providing more aid to Ukraine?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Julia, Republicans in Congress said just last night that they don't expect to be swayed by

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, to move forward with aid to Ukraine without those changes to immigration policy. Republicans remain dug in that

any aid for Ukraine must also be paired with significant changes to border policy here in this country.

Negotiators have been working for weeks trying to hammer out some type of deal agreement on strengthening of the border. President Biden himself has

conceded that there will need to be some changes made but at this time, it does not appear that they will be able to reach a resolution on that front

before the week's end.

And that is according to the lead negotiator in those talks, Senator James Lankford - Lankford and really that complicates the future of this aid for

Ukraine. The White House has requested about $60 billion in additional assistance for Ukraine that so far has really been caught up in Congress

due to these border talks. But at this moment, both President Zelenskyy and President Biden have been warning that inaction on this front is

essentially playing into Putin's hands.

They've said that Russia is watching all of this very closely as they're planning out their next steps in the war and officials for weeks now have

been warning that if aid is not passed by the end of the year, those funds for assistance for Ukraine are simply drying up and they would kneecap

Ukraine on the battlefield.


So this presents a very critical moment for President Zelenskyy, who's seeking more aid at this time, needs that assistance on the battlefield,

even as a lot of this has caught up in the domestic politics here in the United States. But it's also an important moment for President Biden. He

has long argued that western unity is critical to push back against Russia's aggression he has talked about aiding Ukraine as being in the

national security interests of the United States.

And they've also been hoping that they can send a message to other would be aggressors that U.S. support will continuously be there for Ukraine. So

this is all something that will be watched very, very closely. President Zelenskyy will be here at the White House this afternoon for a meeting and

news conference where they will further make the case as at this moment, it appears the chances of getting anything passed by the end of the year are

increasingly slim.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, he's making the push on both sides. He's trying to convince the Republicans that they need to be willing to provide more

support, but also perhaps it's important enough to the Democrats that they allow the changes for the border wall that they're talking about to go

along with this funding for Ukraine as well. So and convincing the American public, one could argue to Arlette, great to have you with us. Thank you.

Arlette Saenz there at the White House.

We'll see what the day brings. For now, the UN General Assembly is expected to vote later today on a draft resolution demanding an immediate

humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. This comes as Israel's Defense Minister calls on Hamas fighters to surrender, claiming the last two Hamas

strongholds in northern Gaza are now surrounded and Hamas battalions are on the 'verge of dismantling.'

A senior Gaza health official also confirmed to CNN that Israel's military has a deep presence in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp, where heavy fighting

and dozens of casualties have been reported. For more on this, let's bring in Jeremy Diamond in Sderot for us. Jeremy, let's talk about the ground

offensive. What progress - we were talking about earlier on in the show that despite the focus, having been now pushed more towards the south, it's

still not yet in control fully in the north. Talk us through the counter offensive from both those angles, please where are they?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. There has been very intense fighting in northern Gaza over the last couple of days that we have

been able to hear and watch from our vantage point. You have the city of Beit Hanoun right behind us. And just below that you have Jabalya refugee

camp, which has really been one of the main points of the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli military saying that it is one of Hamas' last remaining strongholds in northern Gaza. That as well as the Shejaiya neighborhood in

Gaza City. And so what we are witnessing is an attempt by the Israeli military to effectively finish off the fight in northern Gaza as they

continue to push into Khan Yunis, the second largest city in Gaza, which is in the southern half of the Gaza Strip.

Overnight, the Israeli military announcing that they had taken down a rocket launch post and a weapons factory in northern Gaza. But it is clear

that the fight is not done yet. The Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, he, however, said that he believes that Hamas is 'near a breaking point in the

northern Gaza Strip.'

We have heard similar predictions from Israeli officials in the past though, so take those with a grain of salt, certainly, but there's no

question that the fighting has been intense. We have been listening to - and you just heard that very loud explosion in the background. What we're

also witnessing in addition to the bombardment is also that Israeli military troops are also detonating a lot of the tunnels that they are


So not clear if that one was a bomb being dropped, or perhaps a detonation, which we have seen at times. We'll have cameraman Lauren (ph) zoom in on

that plume of smoke that is emerging from where that explosion just happened. But beyond that, even as the fighting is happening in the north,

we know that there is still very intense fighting in southern Gaza. We have watched as Israeli troops, armored vehicles and tanks have been moving into

the southern city of Khan Yunis not only trying to dismantle Hamas, but also very much going after Hamas' leadership structure with a keen focus on

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in the Gaza Strip.

Amid all of this, of course, the United States continuing to publicly back Israel, but also some warnings, including from the President of the United

States just yesterday about the fact that Israel needs to be careful, especially as it relates to civilians. And if not the public opinion,

global public opinion will shift against its war against Hamas.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, regular warnings now. Jeremy Diamond for now, thank you. Donald Trump's lead just got even bigger among the Republicans seeking the

party's 2024 presidential nomination. A new Iowa poll conducted by the Des Moines Register NBC and Mediacom shows more than half of all the Republican

caucus goers plan to vote for Trump next month. The former president is also gaining traction in battleground states against current President

Biden. Jeff Zeleny has the numbers.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight Donald Trump holding a commanding and widening lead in Iowa, just five weeks before the State

opens the 2024 Republican presidential contest.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH US PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody.

ZELENY (voice over): The former president crossing a new threshold with 51 percent of Republicans now backing him according to a new Des Moines

Register poll. That's up from 43 percent in October. The shrinking GOP field has boosted Trump, who now holds a 32 point lead. The race for second

place is a showdown with Ron DeSantis at 19 percent followed by Nikki Haley at 16 percent.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's his own worst enemy by not being able to control his mouth. And that has

consequences for governance and us being able to get things done.

ZELENY (voice over): On a weekend Iowa campaign swing DeSantis and Haley sharpening their attacks on Trump's record.

NIKKI HALEY (R) 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that the economy was good under Donald Trump, right? But what we need to also remember was,

we went $9 trillion in debt during that same time, and we are paying the price for that.

ZELENY (voice over): Nearly half of likely Iowa caucus goers say their minds are made up. But among Trump supporters, 70 percent say they are

firmly committed in their decision.

TRUMP: The first guy that ever got indicted whose poll numbers went up.

ZELENY (voice over): The former president is increasingly turning his focus to President Joe Biden as new CNN polls show fresh signs of warning for the

White House. In Michigan and Georgia, two of the five states Biden turned from red to blue, the President is facing alarmingly low approval ratings.

Our polls showing fewer than 4 in 10 approve of his performance in office.

TRUMP: I will save democracy. The threat is crooked Joe Biden. That's the threat.

ZELENY (voice over): In Michigan, Trump leads Biden 50 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical head to head matchup, with 10 percent saying they

wouldn't support either candidate. That raises the question of a threat from a third party contender. Asked specifically about Robert F. Kennedy

Jr. and Cornel West in Michigan, Trump falls to 39 percent and Biden to 31 percent.

And in Georgia, Trump has a 49 percent to 44 percent edge over Biden, the poll found, with 7 percent saying they would not back either. The

challenges for Biden are coming into sharper view.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trump just talks the talk, we walk the walk. Frankly, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

ZELENY (voice over): Among the many factors that could drive the race are Trump's numerous legal challenges, particularly the criminal charges for

his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In Georgia and Michigan, nearly half of voters say that if true, they should disqualify him from the


ZELENY: But long before it is clear if there will be a Trump Biden rematch, the former president must navigate the Republican primary. Yes, he has a

commanding lead in Iowa but the voting does not begin for five more weeks. For now at least the most competitive race is for second place between

Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


CHATTERLEY: OK, coming up, look away if you haven't had lunch and join me after the break for a really meaty story. I'll give you a hint. It's not a





CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to Connect the World. Now I hope you've eaten because I may be about to make you pretty hungry. Christmas is coming in

case you forgot. And IKEA has a very festive idea. Meatballs, what? You might be thinking we can have those any day. But wait just one moment.

These are not your normal size meatballs. These are the size of a turkey. A turkey sized meatball. Sadly, you have to live in the UK to enter the

Instagram competition and only 30 fans will be lucky enough to impress their families with a monster like that.

How long would that take to cook? I have no idea. Now if you win, please send us a picture because we'd love to see it, the cooked version, not the

uncooked. OK, they call football the beautiful game. But what happened last night in Ankara was both shocking and pretty ugly. At the end of a match

between two Turkish football teams, there was a violent attack.

The president of one club punched the referee in the face. And the referee ended up in hospital. World Sports Anchor Amanda Davies joins us now.

Amanda, I don't even know what to say about this. What happened.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Now, I mean, it's so shocking. And I took a picture speaks 1000 words and this is not something you would ever

expect to see on a football pitch. It's being described as one of the darkest days for Turkish top-flight football. It led to a man who went to

work ending up in hospital in a neck brace. It has led to the arrest of three individuals we understand, one of whom is the president of a top-

flight Football Club.

And it has led to the suspension of the entirety of Turkish league football whilst authorities stop and try and work out where they go from here. There

is so many questions about being asked about how we got to that point, how the results of a football match can lead to something like this happening.

And what does it mean for Turkish football moving forward?

And that's what we're hoping to address in just a couple of minutes in World Sport, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yeah, emotions run high in these football games. But this is certainly something else. We'll let you go for now. You're up next. World

Sport for our viewers, of course. And I'll be back at the top of the hour with more Connect the World. Stay with CNN.