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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russia Attacks Kyiv With Killer Drones Made In Iran; Democrat Running For Arizona Governor Won't Say If She Wants Biden To Visit Arizona; Americans Who Were Held By Russian-Backed Forces Speak To OutFront; All-Female Fighting Unit Takes Up Arms Against Iranian Regime. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUFRONT next, a deadly drone blitz. Russia terrorizing Ukraine's capital with a series of strikes with kamikaze drones, as the U.S. director of national intelligence has stark words for what's left of Putin's arsenal.

Plus, the two Americans captured in Ukraine held for 105 days. We follow their story. And tonight, they will tell you what they endured.

And a dead heat for Arizona governor, a face-off in Ohio's Senate race tonight. And the Republican in Georgia IS still hanging on despite the ugly allegations. John King is here. He says this is the most unpredictable election he's covered in his lifetime.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, unsustainable. That is the stark analysis tonight from America's director of national intelligence, Avril Haines. She says Russia is now firing off its precision weapons at an unsustainable rate. Its conventional arsenal, terribly depleted. In fact, just a short time ago, Ukraine's defense ministry posting a video that I'm showing here which appears to show Russia pulling 70- year-old antiaircraft guns from its warehouses, 70-year-old weapons going to the field. That is the depletion of the conventional Russian arsenal.

And today, Russia blowing through more of its drones terrorizing the capital of Ukraine with the wave of kamikaze strikes. You can hear the buzzing sound of the drones before it plummets to the ground. Ukraine says that out of the 43 drones that Russia launched just today, they were able to take out 37. But the six that struck Kyiv were destructive and deadly.

They came in. You could watch them racing to the sky, locking onto a target, and then in the blink of an eye, the drones like falcons dived to the ground. You can see it there with deadly intent.

This is what the drop looks like. Just watch that drone coming in and suddenly diving from the sky. The aftermath, chaos, debris, the cries of people injured and trapped, human bodies.

At least four people were killed this morning, all of them innocent civilians just beginning their day. Among them, a 6-month pregnant woman and her husband. The onslaught of strikes coming just after Putin had said there would be no more. Hours later, look what he does.

And tonight, the situation is escalating. NATO is now pushing ahead with nuclear exercises, drills not far from Russia's border, taking place at the same time that Russia is expected to conduct its own nuclear exercises.

Our Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT live in Dnipro, Ukraine.

And, Fred, the drones have obviously always been a part of this war. At one point they were key to the Ukrainian success. But now, it is Russia that is using them to devastating effect and tools of terror.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. It's a massive expansion of the use of drones by the Russians. They were used here in Dnipro to hit a power plant and other areas in Ukraine as well.

Of course, you were mentioning those attacks on the Ukrainian capital, a power plant and that civilian building that was hit. The big thing right now is the Russians are using these drones in swarms to try and overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): It was at the crack of dawn when the terror began. Air defenses in Kyiv firing into the sky, leading to chaos in the capital's streets.

Police officers even taking aim at the kamikaze drones sent by Moscow, in this case, successfully taking one down. But the drones kept crashing into the city. This person here, the soldier says. Do you have any water, the woman on the ground answers, my head is buzzing.

In total, Ukraine says its forces managed to shoot down 36 of 42 kamikaze drones and three cruise missiles launched at the entire country.

But the projectiles that did hit their target caused devastation. Several energy installations were damaged as was this residential building in Kyiv, killing four people.

We were in the room when the blast started, this man says. We then went out and saw the staircase was gone, all gone to the ground floor.

Ukraine says the drones that Moscow uses are supplied by Iran, which Tehran, once again, denied. Ukraine's president venting his anger at Russia.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): All day long, we have been clearing the rubble at those places which the Russian terrorists managed to hit today. [19:05:01]

Vladimir Putin can record another achievement. He killed another pregnant woman.

PLEITGEN: All this as Russia continues to face problems with its own mobilization effort, 11 killed by two gunmen in the Belgorod region this weekend, Moscow acknowledges.

And authorities in remote parts of Russia offering bizarre incentives to families.

YEVGENY GRIGORIEV, YAKUTSK'S MAYOR (through translator): Families of the mobilized residents can go to the local support center and get a one-off packet of fresh vegetables. This includes cabbage, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, and onions.

PLEITGEN: And Moscow is not only facing problems motivating recruits. A Russian SU-34 military jet crashed into a nine-story residential building in the south of the country tonight, sending emergency crews scrambling to the scene.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And also tonight, Erin, the authorities in Russia are saying that four people were killed on the ground when the jet crashed into that building. Seventeen apartments were either damaged or destroyed. And the Ukrainians once again calling on their international backers for better air defense systems, saying they need something to come to terms with those swarms of drones attacking their country -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred.

I want to go now to Sviatoslav Yurash, a member of Ukraine's parliament who has fought on the front lines, and retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

I appreciate both of you.

Sviat, it is good to see you, although remotely tonight. I'm glad to see you again.

President Zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine only has 10 percent of the air defenses that it needs to combat Putin's attacks right now. Are you worried that Putin is maybe trying to tie up your defenses with these mass drone attacks only to then hit Ukraine with something bigger?

SVIATOSLAV YURASH, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Putin has declared the first day of the war that he has destroyed our defense systems. So, the reality is that we can see he is far from that. But we are the largest nation in Europe to cover all the territory of Ukraine which he is trying to hit day in and day out, (INAUDIBLE) just Kyiv that is hitting throughout the war. We need so much.

And we are very thankful of the American people for the support that we are getting in terms of battling him in the air.

BURNETT: General Hertling, "The Washington Post" reports tonight that Iran is not just going to send drones, but also preparing to give Russia ballistic missiles. We understand two types, "The Washington Post" is reporting -- one that could go up to 185 miles, the other up to 435 miles. Those are big ranges. And the context is that Russia has lost nearly 90 percent of its Iskander missiles that go to 300 miles. So, these replacements really could transform this war, right? A stockpile that's almost completely gone, replenished.

The question is, how significant are the Iranian missiles for Russia's arsenal? Do we know how many there are? Do we know how good they are?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, we've seen Iranian missiles fired by Hezbollah and Hamas in Israel, Erin. The Israelis have countered those missiles for the most part with some of their air defense systems.

But what it points to -- and I'll just re-emphasize this -- it points to Mr. Putin's army is hollow right now. They didn't come into this hollow. But they're hollowed now, both from equipment and increasingly from a personnel standpoint, so much so that they have to go to other nations, Iran for the Shahed 136 drones that we're talking about earlier, and now missiles to replace a system that has just been depleted.

The thing is, it's critically important is the majority of missiles, rockets more than likely that Russia will get from Iran, will be unguided. They will continue to be terror weapons, like Mr. Putin has already used against the Ukrainian citizens. And they just show more war crimes being conducted by Mr. Putin using other nations now as his proxies.

BURNETT: Sviat, Belarus' defense ministry says that 9,000 Russian soldiers are going to arrive in Belarus as part of a new joint Russian and Belarusian force. They're going to have 200 tanks. This is what they say.

Russians are already arriving. We know that drones used in recent attacks against Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials have been launched from Belarus and that was true at the beginning of the war. But it feels that something is changing here. It could be possibly ramping up.

What do you think is going on?

YURASH: Well, it could be a ruse for us to basically bring our forces back from the front lines. The reality is we are expecting everything. Belarus is at best, the Russian state, the war started from their territory, of invasion of Kyiv, in the end of February, started from Belarus. So we can expect anything from them.

And throughout the war, we have received drone attacks, rockets attacks from the territory of Belarus. So basically everything's on the table. BURNETT: General, obviously the context of what we're seeing here and

the depletion of the conventional arsenal raises questions about Putin's plans with his nuclear arsenal.


And you have nuclear exercises going on right now in this incredibly tense moment. NATO going ahead with their nuclear tests. Moscow also expected to conduct nuclear exercises by the end of this month.

Are you worried about this? Is there concern that doing this right now could risk an escalation?

HERTLING: I am not concerned at all about this, Erin. In fact, this is the best time, I think, to conduct these exercises. It shows that we have a readiness state that's very high, that we're attempting to deter with our readiness in terms of what Mr. Putin might do. And, truthfully, these exercises are planned months if not years in advance in terms of their dates.


HERTLING: So, it is -- we are executing right now an exercise that has been planned for a very long time. And it is more important now than at any other time to conduct that exercise because it shows Mr. Putin, we are prepared to use them. And he should not use his. It's a deterrent method.

BURNETT: General Hertling, thank you. I appreciate your joining us solely from Kyiv. Thank you.

And next, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor says she'll accept the results of the election if she wins. While the Democrat tonight is refusing to say whether she even wants Biden to campaign with her. Our John King is here with me at the magic wall.

Plus, they were in captivity for 105 days. Two Americans who went to Ukraine to fight. They are now back home, and they are telling their story OUTFRONT.

And a CNN exclusive. An Iranian woman speaks out after being dragged by her uncovered hair during a protest. She says she saw bodies lifeless in the streets.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was also participating, and I had no fear of death.




BURNETT: Tonight, the Democratic candidate for governor of Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, dodging the question when asked if she wants President Biden to visit her state. It comes as her Republican opponent Kari Lake, who's made 2020 election denial a centerpiece of her campaign, tells our Dana Bash she will accept the election results only if she wins.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Will you accept the results of your election in November?

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I'm going to win the election, and I will accept that result.

BASH: If you lose, will you accept that?

LAKE: I'm going to win the election and I will accept that result.

BURNETT: The two are in the final stretch of a neck-and-neck race, but one major factor in Lake's favor is that her supporters really want to vote for her.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A typical campaign stop for Kari Lake, Republican nominee for Arizona governor.

LAKE: Nobody called the fire department because I think we might be breaking a few codes.

LAH: The former TV anchor headlines raucous events.


LAH: For a base sparked by spectacle.

KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks, everyone. I'm Katie Hobbs.

LAH: Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs strikes a more subdued and conventional path, hosting grassroots gatherings, emphasizing issues such as defending democracy.

HOBBS: Democracy is on the line. Thanks so much for having me today.

LAH: A sharp contrast in styles, serious against sensational.

CHRISTINE JONES (R), FORMER ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: From the very first day she got in the race, Kari Lake had a movement. So I personally in a gubernatorial race in Arizona, I've never seen anything like this before.

LAH: Republican Christine Jones would know. She ran for Arizona governor eight years ago but lost in the primary. She backs Kari Lake.

She calls herself Trump in a dress. Do you kind of get that?

JONES: You do because I think she's not afraid to punch back. She has the "it" factor that some entertainers have. She has been able to deliver those punches with impunity.

LAH: Those punches include repeated lies about the 2020 election.

LAKE: We have this illegitimate President Biden. We will no longer accept rigged elections. Who's with me on that?

LAH: And following the Trump playbook, mocking her opponent.

LAKE: People are onto the fact that she's a coward.

And if she can't stand up and debate me, then she can't stand up against the cartels.

HOBBS: I'm not interested in being a part of Kari Lake's spectacle or shouting match. And I'm going to keep taking to the voters.

LAH: Lake's campaign has punched on that debate refusal, sending protesters to Hobbs' events dressed as chickens.

You see the chickens that are outside. She's tapped into an energy base within the Republican Party. Are you able to tap into that same base among Democrats?

HOBBS: She's certainly secured a base. Those folks are probably not going to be convinced by what we're talking about. But we need to win the rest of them and that's what we're focused on.

LAH: But even Democrats say in a race that's too close to call --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish she would debate, but if we elect Kari Lake, we are all screwed, just screwed.

LAH: That sentiment about a Lake victory is not just among Democrats.


LAH: John Graham helps lead Republicans and independents for Katie Hobbs. He's fundraising against his own party, concerned about Lake's lies about the 2020 election and what her win could mean for 2024.

GRAHAM: I think that's especially in the environment we're in right now nationally, that's mission critical to the future of our country.

LAH: What he's less worried about?

GRAHAM: I do get extremism from Trump's people that are wanting to go to rallies and things like that. But I think that the reality is while it's a lot of people in one spot, I think it's very few people compared to the population.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAH (on camera): A reminder that the polls do show that this race is too close to call. But on the ground, at least, it does appear that there is a bigger draw for what Lake is offering. And, Erin, I will add this.

Here's a national view of Kari Lake. David Plouffe, who is the architect of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential win, describes her as, quote, a plausible presidential candidate -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kyung.

I'm joined now by John King at the magic wall. So, interesting a plausible presidential candidate, coming from the person who was in President Obama's campaign.


Right now dead heat, Maricopa County where Kyung spent so much time last time is going to be crucial here. Is that where this race is won or lost?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, it's won or lose or turnout everywhere. The question -- Kyung just raised a question, do the suburban moderate voters who let Joe Biden win, do they view Kari Lake as Trump and therefore not vote for her? Or do they view her as the TV anchor woman they invited into their living rooms and their kitchens for ten years?

You mentioned Maricopa County, let's do a little history. Let's circle right here. Three weeks and one day from tonight, we count the votes in Arizona and elsewhere. Let's go back in time, though, and go back first to 2016.

In 2016, Donald Trump won Arizona. Why? He won Maricopa County. Look at the map. Democrat Hillary Clinton here won four counties, one, two, three, four, right? Donald Trump performed well enough in the suburbs to win Arizona by a narrow margin, but he won it, 91,000 votes, right? Doug Ducey is the incumbent Republican governor.

Let's move here to 2018. Democrats win one, two, three, four -- the same four counties. Doug Ducey wins because he wins, bring it up, in Maricopa County, Phoenix and the fast-growing suburbs. This is the fastest growing part of the state growing out in here, Scottsdale up here, the suburbs to the west and down a little bit. Doug Ducey wins it, he handily wins re-election because he won there. Again, one, two, three, four -- the same four counties.

2020, Joe Biden is president, in part, because he won Arizona. He won the state by 10,000 votes. What changed? One, two, three, four, five. And it's not just five, it's the biggest, 61 -- nearly 62 percent of the population lives right here in Maricopa County. This is where the people are.

Joe Biden wins this county by 45,000 votes. He wins the state by 10,000 votes. It was all right there.

Do suburban voters stick with Kari Lake? Do they go back to being Republican? Or are they shifting toward the Democrats?

BURNETT: OK. So, you make the case, obviously, but then when you look at the margin, 10,000 for the state, but 45,000 in Maricopa County. That means there are other places, rural places that could be significant.

KING: Yes. And so that's the challenge for Kari Lake is to keep your Trump base and then win back enough people in the suburbs to keep the Trump base, that means out there.

Look at the Trump margins out here, not a ton of votes, right, 78,000 votes. You say, well, Maricopa County has hundreds of thousands, but you need them. You run -- this is how Donald Trump won in other places and how he keeps other states close.

Run it up in rural areas. Run it up in rural areas. Run it up in rural areas. Huge margins like that.

So around the outskirts of the state, can Kari Lake in the smaller rural towns turn out the Trump base like Trump did? Do they come out for her? And then the battle will be won and to a lesser degree but also important the suburbs of Tucson.

BURNETT: How important is this lack of a debate? Katie Hobbs' refusal to debate saying it would just a bunch of, you know, no substance. Kari lake has made this a big centerpiece of her campaign. And we just heard in Kyung's piece, people saying supporters of Hobbs, well, I wish she would debate.

KING: There is a huge debate mostly consternation among Democratic strategists that you're essentially ceding it, that you need to confront Kari Lake and say, yes, you're a better performer, yes, you're posh TV anchor, but you're wrong. You're lying. Biden won, Trump did not win.

And that's what the strategists think. However, a lot of strategists thought Joe, you know, after losing Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire in 2020, a lot of people thought Joe Biden was weak. He's president of the United States, so we will know more three weeks and three days from now, when we're counting votes and we're doing counting votes here.

Most Democrats especially in Washington where I work think she should debate, we'll find out.

BURNETT: See who was winning.

All right, John King is going to be back with me later in the hour to talk about Georgia's high-stakes Senate race, and Republican Herschel Walker now admits he did send a check to the woman accusing him to have an abortion. But do voters care?

And, first, I'm going to speak with Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh. They are the two Americans who were captured in Ukraine held for 105 days by Russian forces. We've been following their story on OUFRONT. And tonight, they're going to tell you what happened in their captivity.



BURNETT: Tonight, 105 days in captivity. That was the brutal experience of two Americans captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine, released in a prisoner swap last month.

You see them here. We followed their story on OUTFRONT since they were captured. And now, just weeks after returning home, they are speaking out.

OUTFRONT now, Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh.

And it really is wonderful to be able to see both of you in person. You know, we've been looking at pictures your families had provided, you know, over those months that you were gone and they didn't know if you would come home.

So, Alex, who captured you initially?

ALEX DRUEKE, AMERICAN FIGHTER HELD BY RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES FOR 105 DAYS: It was Russian soldiers that initially captured us. They kept us in their outpost for about 24 hours. They kept us overnight.

And then we were set into Russia. We were welcomed by a very large young man who punched us as hard as he could in the gut and said, "Welcome to Russia." So, we're pretty sure we were in Russia then.

Then, for -- we were there for about a week, and we went through some very intensive interrogation. A lot of different torture techniques just trying to draw any information out of us that they could. And then after that week, they sent us to the black site for about a month where it was just more and more intensive interrogation and torture.

BURNETT: Andy, we saw a picture after you were captured. It was really the only picture we saw of either of you for a long time. It was the two of you in the back of a truck with your hands bound. It's a hard picture to look at.

What was happening when that photo was taken?

ANDY TAI NGOC HUYNH, AMERICAN FIGHTER HELD BY RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES FOR 105 DAYS: I do remember when the photo was taken. We knew that we were going somewhere. We were pretty sure it actually was Russia because they did say we were going to Russia. We were less than, what, 10 kilometers? Yeah, less than 10 kilometers from the border itself.

I believe when that picture was tooken, we were, I would say, about five, ten minutes out from crossing into Russia. There was, what four troops? Like approximately four Russian soldiers that were there just, I would assume, taking the pictures more for the trophies, is kind of my guess.

BURNETT: To sort of brag that they had taken you. I mean, Alex, you referenced the physical and psychological torture. I

mean, we've seen some of the pictures. I know those are your wrists we see here. You've got marks, I believe, still on your wrists.

What did they do to you?

DRUEKE: A lot of stuff, a whole lot of stuff. I mean, there were -- there were a lot of beatings. There was a lot of physical torture.

But I think some of the worst stuff, there was a lot of psychological torture. I mean, we were both in forms of solitary confinement for long periods of time. They would put us in a lot of stress positions like forced to stay upstanding overnight for 18 hours on our feet when we're dehydrated, and they'd put you in positions where parts of your body go incredibly painful numb. I mean, a lot of stuff.

BURNETT: Andy, what was the worst moment for you?

HUYNH: Unfortunately, when it comes to torture, it wasn't just physical. It was mental, it was emotional. The physical, yes, was bad at the time. But at least Alex and I knew it would end.

Probably one of the worst was actually the mental stuff, the psychological stuff, when we weren't physically being tortured, hit, abused, whatever you want to call it. We were struggling with just boredom, just severe boredom.

DRUEKE: Trying to find ways to keep your mind active so it didn't feel like it was turning into mush. We use the word mush a lot.

BURNETT: So, Alex, you know, while you were there, you talk about being forced to call home. And in that sense it was, you know, you would have these conversations. We would play some clips of the audio because your mom would come on to talk about you to make sure people knew you were there, and she would share some clips.

I just wanted to share one brief clip that we aired in July.


ALEX: You all just keep doing everything you can to get the release going.

BUNNY: They're very concerned and they want whoever is holding y'all to let Andy call home or call the State Department or both.

ALEX: Okay, I mean, I -- I ask what I can and from what I've seen he's in good health.


BURNETT: So you were saying those things. You were being tortured even as you were saying them. Your captors were controlling your calls. I understand you had to do propaganda videos as well that they could show, you know, to Russians. What was that like? And what did they make you say? You're calling

your mom and you're saying those things, and yet you're enduring torture.

DRUEKE: I mean, obviously in a lot of ways it was great to hear my mom's voice. It was great to hear a friendly voice.

That was one of the biggest issues that we had. They picked me as the spokesperson for the two of us to make these calls -- to be forced to make these calls. And I knew Andy didn't want to have to be doing the forced calls. But he would have loved to hear his family's voice.

And they just -- they wouldn't do it because those calls were not for us at all. The calls were 100 percent for them and it was -- so they could find information or so they put words in our mouth to try and, you know, make us say things. They were 100 percent for them.

BURNETT: And, Andy, what did the captors tell you? I mean, did you have any conversations? I know there was a translator you were dealing with. Any conversation about who they were or why they were doing this, why you were being held? I mean, this is more than a hundred days you were with them.

HUYNH: Yeah. More or less it was actually what Alex had been saying. One instance I can remember is we knew they were Russian and they insisted on us to introduce them as DPR. It was obvious that they were quite Russian, wearing Russian uniforms, wearing Russian patches. Or when they were wearing patches like flags and stuff like that.


HUYNH: They were clearly Russians. But they insisted for us to say that it was specifically DPR so they can, I guess --

DRUEKE: Scapegoat.

HUYNH: Yeah, a scapegoat to where they can't be blamed.

BURNETT: And, Alex, there were also Russian intelligence forces there trying to interrogate you?

DRUEKE: Yeah. They were involved in the interrogation process for sure. Most of them would speak decent English, but they went through the translator Andy was mentioning because his English was really good. But, I mean, they were always -- they were always present, yeah.

BURNETT: Andy, I know when you were finally coming out of Russian- controlled prison, which is where you went, first you were in Russia, then you were on a black site, then you were in prison.


When you left prison, you were on your way to Saudi Arabia.

Were you even aware of that? I know that you've talked about praying for death when you were leaving that prison. What happened? HUYNH: For me, personally, that was probably one of the hardest days,

honestly, surprisingly, is being freed, not necessarily getting free but the process of being freed.

DRUEKE: We didn't know that we were getting freed. We just knew we were being tortured.

HUYNH: I just remember it being prolonged suffering pain. Me personally I just remember wanting to die actually. Just -- I wanted it to end.

DRUEKE: And now you're home, and the two of you are together right now, obviously talking to me. And you're going to be -- you are tied together for the rest of your lives. You're trying to return to your lives.

Andy, I talked to Joy, your fiancee, many times. She was indefatigable in coming on and talking about you and, you know, her love for you and her hopes for you coming home.

What are you doing to cope now, to try to return to what was your life?

HUYNH: Slowly but surely it is getting there. I'm definitely struggling. I'm not saying I'm not.

I'm not going to put on some fake facade that I'm strong and mighty, and that I can handle everything. But it definitely messed me up, to put it lightly.

I'm talking to Joy a lot, again, about things that happened. I'm not going really in depth into what's happening, but she understands.

I talk to Alex a lot actually too. He's really one of the only few people in America that kind of understands what I'm going through.

BURNETT: Alex, what about you? How are you doing?

DRUEKE: I'm like Andy in a lot of ways. You know, just kind of taking -- taking things one day at a time right now. But I've got a lot of good support from my friends and family.

Andy and I talk multiple times a day. And I just want to make sure that both of us do something good with this. You know, it's important to us that people know that we're home now and we're so thankful for all the things that so many people did to get us home.

But the war is not over yet. And Ukraine still needs support. They still need help. And we're going to do whatever we can to make sure that they aren't forgotten.

BURNETT: Well, thank goodness you have each other. I know you're so grateful for that, the only gift in all of this. Thank you both so much.

DRUEKE: Thank you. HUYNH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, fighting words just now in Ohio's Senate debate.


J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: I really wished he had stood up to his party.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): You were calling Trump America's Hitler. Then you kissed his ass.


BURNETT: John King is back with me. Those words were literally just said.

Plus, a CNN exclusive. An Iranian teen risking her life to protest, dragged by her hair, passed dead bodies on the street, and that is not all she saw. Tonight, she shares her story.



BURNETT: Tonight, eat you up like a chew toy. That is just one line from a contentious debate for the open Ohio Senate seat, that debate is going on right now and that comment was just said. Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance just came out of the gate with vitriol. Listen to this.


VANCE: I really wish Tim Ryan had stood up to his party on this vote because it might've made the inflation crisis we've been seeing over the last few months a lot better if he hadn't done what he always does, which is vote with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden 100 percent of the time.

RYAN: I ran Nancy Pelosi, J.D., for leadership and you have to have the courage to take on your own leaders. These leaders in D.C. -- well, they will eat you up like a chew toy, right? You were calling Trump America's Hitler, then you kissed his ass.


BURNETT: Tat just happened. So that just literally happened, eat you up like a chew toy. You called Trump Hitler and now you're kissing his ass. This is a vitriolic debate.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's remarkable we've been talking about this race, in a sense that this is one where the Democrats say, well, we're competitive in a place maybe we didn't think we would be. Trump won Ohio twice.


KING: You have a popular Republican governor who let's see what happens on Election Day, three weeks and one day from now, but Mike DeWine is running healthily ahead in all of the polls. So, you think there's a coattail effect. We think it should be a Republican state.

But J.D. Vance is one of the newcomers, Trump-endorsed candidates who are having some issues as a candidate. And Tim Ryan is running a very smart campaign. Can he get to the finish line? Most Democrats are skeptical.

But you do see some money going in there late at the end. What he's trying to say there, J.D., you heard what he said about kissing Trump's ass, I'll repeat it because he said it. Trying to say that this guy won't be fighting for you, Ohio.

But that's the argument he has to make, because he's making it a Democrat/Republican argument, Ohio is a red state. So he's trying to say this guy doesn't understand --

BURNETT: Oh, he's clearly talking about taking on Democratic leadership, and, you know, playing a different card than many others. In Georgia, Herschel Walker now admits he wrote the $700 check to the woman who said it was for an abortion. Look, the list of allegations gets longer and longer. But the real question is, do voters care what is going to happen in Georgia?

KING: We talked earlier about Arizona. Georgia is one of those states again. Joe Biden won it for the first time, you have to go back to Jimmy Carter. Is Georgia becoming a purple-leaning blue state? Is Georgia really a red state and 2020 was an aberration? Will they send Herschel Walker to Washington because they want to send a Republican to Washington despite a long list of character questions? Or can Senator Warnock win this election?

Remember, the Democrats have the majority because Warnock and Ossoff, a black preacher and a Jewish man, won -- Democrats, won Senate seats in Georgia in 2020 after the election. That was remarkable. We forget that story because we're so caught wit 2020 election.

Can, A, Senator Warnock beat him? The polls have trended his way. The election's three weeks from tomorrow. Can any candidate get 50 plus one? Otherwise, we do it again December 6th in a runoff.

BURNETT: So, this is so amazing. So many people say, John King, in your election analysis, and they look to you for guidance of what you're saying. And what I found so interesting in a conversation earlier for you is that you said this midterm election, what we're about to see in two weeks and a day is more -- three weeks and a day is more complicated than anything you've seen in your lifetime.


Why is that?

KING: Because the rules are being rewritten or you might say the rules have been thrown out. It's not just Donald Trump but in the recent Trump age. I've been through very complicated presidential elections. 1992 with Ross Perot, 2000, what the Supreme Court had to settle, and obviously, 2016 with Donald Trump and again in 2020 with Donald Trump.


KING: But from a midterm election standpoint, I cannot remember one where we were this close to the election and we were not certain of a trend. Now, Republicans, and even some Democrats quietly concede, they do start to see with the inflation, the economy concerns rising up, some of the abortion concerns after the Supreme Court, the Dobbs decision late June. Democrats had momentum in July and August. That seems to have going to way.

There's a lot of talk among Democrats now that maybe gravity, traditional midterm, first-term gravity is taking hold. But we've had so many swings. What's to say we won't have another one in three weeks?

But you do see -- you saw the Russian debate there, you had the Warnock-Walker debate on Friday, these candidates understand in these close races, you get few opportunities in the end. And so, that's why these debates, the ones that are left, matter so much. But, yeah, it's just unpredictable. Every day you see a data points and say, aha, this helps Republicans. And the next day, you see a data point and say, aha, that helps the Democrats.

Unpredictability, volatility, that is the word of our age.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much, John.

And next, a CNN exclusive. You're going to hear from a teenager in Iran who has risked it all to protest. You're going to hear how she knows people are being killed including a man murdered just for honking his horn in solidarity with protesters.

And a lottery ticket worth hundreds of millions of dollars sold in an area destroyed by hurricane Ian.



BURNETT: Tonight, the death toll rising in Iran. And now in an incredibly brave move, some of the women risking their lives in protests, speaking exclusively to our Nima Elbagir. Some of the images you are about to see are graphic and disturbing.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a remote area in northern Iraq's Kurdish region, an all-female fighting unit belonging to the armed Iranian Kurdish opposition party, PAK, continues to train.

These women have been pulled back from the frontline. For the last three weeks, the area they patrolled in the northeast of Iraq has been hit by shells sent from across the border by Iran. This unit is part of a larger fighting force. For every single one of these women, this war is personal.

Rezan, not her real name, crossed the border from Iran with the help of smugglers, just over a week ago. The city of Sanandaj that she calls home is in Iran's Kurdish majority western region. And in recent weeks have been likened to a warzone, according to its residents, protests have erupted here and across Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian. Rezan, just a teenager, joined these protests.

REZAN, IRANIAN-KURDISH ACTIVIST (through translator): We were treating casualties. We were also like most people participating in the revolution, in the uprising. Everyone who suffered from the oppression of the Iranian regime came down to the streets and market and defied the government. I was also participating, and I had no fear of death.

ELBAGIR: Rezan says that while she was dragged by her uncovered hair, she passed prone, lifeless bodies. Even after she left, she said she's continued to receive information about people she knows who have died.

Like this man Yahya Rahini (ph), a newly married 27-year-old, murdered by Iranian regime forces for sounding his horn in solidarity with protestors.

What is happening with your family?

REZAN (through translator): My family told them that no matter how many members of my family they arrest, and for as long as they oppress my people, I will not surrender to the invading Iranian government. We are ready to die.

ELBAGIR: When Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini died in police custody, her name became a symbol of the oppression of women across Iran. But Mahsa is not her true name. Her Kurdish name is Zhina, a name Iranians authorities barred her family and many other ethnic minority groups from using. The regime only legally registers Persian names, yet in her last recorded moments, Zhina resorted to begging her captors in her Kurdish mother tongue, entreaties which were ignored, reinforcing the fears of Iran's Kurdish minority.

Iran's reach to oppress the protests within its borders is stretching far beyond. Over the last few weeks, Iranian missiles have fallen into the Kurdish region of Iraq almost every day. The onslaught is relentless. This map shows where Iranian strikes have hit, killing at least 18 and injuring at least 63 to date.

This video filmed by a local television channel shows the moment just after an Iranian drone and several missiles struck one of the Kurdish- Iranian bases, killing eight soldiers. On a day which 70 missiles, Kurdish authorities, rained down in the space of just four hours. This base, only two years ago, was on the frontline in the fight against ISIS after PAK received U.S. training. It isn't far from U.S. Central Command, CentCom forces. Just one day after the attack on the PAK base, CentCom shot down

another Iranian drone, which appeared, they say, as a threat to CentCom forces stationed in the area.

And as the U.S. anti-ISIS presence in Iraq is set to continue, so is the threat Iran poses.

These female fighters have vowed to fight until there is a regime change in Iran.


They say they share Zhina's pain. Called by a name forced on her by an oppressive regime, all of them have a Kurdish name just like her, not spoken outside of their homes. All of them say it's hard to imagine going back to how life was before.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Iraqi Kurdistan.


BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a mega millions lottery ticket worth hundreds of millions sold in the city left devastated by Hurricane Ian.


BURNETT: Was it luck or, well, something else? One of the two winning lottery tickets in the latest mega millions jackpot was sold in an area devastated by Hurricane Ian. Fort Myers, Florida, where residents are coping with the destruction after Ian's landfall. The other winning ticket was sold in California. The winners will split $494 million.

Lee County where Fort Myers is located reported the most deaths from the storm, 56 in all. A Florida winner has 180 days to claim their share of the jackpot.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.